Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How to Jump Start the Economy While Reducing the Debt

To: Members of Congress and the Administration:
In the face of a credit downgrade, you apparently can only find $27 billion of savings. I've heard a number of you -from both parties - argue that we must avoid "draconian" actions. News flash: we were just downgraded. It is already past time for draconian actions.

Since you are apparently bereft of ideas, here are some to get you started:

1. Approve the Free Trade Agreement with Columbia. It is failure to do something simple and easy like this that makes Americans of all parties believe you aren't serious about aiding the economy.

2. Ditto Korean Free Trade Agreement. Or is your goal to screw around until the Chinese and the French jump in and strike deals with all those local businesses?

3. Close the Department of Energy. Lay everyone off.

4. Close the Department of Education. Lay everyone off.

5. Cut the EPA budget 50%.

6. Amend the Environmental Protection Act to exclude new nuclear, wind and solar plants from the requirement to file an environmental impact statement.

7. Amend the Environmental Protection Act to exclude new high-speed rail projects from the requirement to file an environmental impact statement.

8. Amend the Environmental Protection Act to clarify that the EPA has no jurisdiction over carbon dioxide.

9. Cut the IRS pay 10%.

10. Appropriate $50 million in additional capital project spending for each and every Veteran's Hospital, but it must be spent in no more than twelve months.

11. Raise the pay of everyone who works at a VA hospital 20% effective immediately. We want our returning service men and women to have the best care possible. We want service members to PREFER going to a VA hospital and non-vets to wish they could.

12. Bring 100% of contractors and soldiers back from Iraq and Afghanistan now. If war breaks out between the Sunnis & Shia and whatever other various kinds of Muslims, I would take it as a sign that is what Mohammed wants. If the Taliban and Al Qaeda start building camps again, bomb the hell out of them.

13. Ignore the whining from the SEC for more money. Wasn't someone at the SEC assigned to review the Madoff account screwing someone who worked for Madoff? While others at the SEC were watching porn? They don't need more money, they need new people.

14. If you were born after 1971, your Social Security retirement age is 72. Early retirement options are eliminated.

15. If you were born after 1966, your Social Security retirement age is 70. Early retirement options are eliminated.

16. Cut Planned Parenthood and Public Broadcasting government subsidies to zero. I know that it is small money, but when one is cutting costs, symbolic cuts are very important. These are charities. If they serve a good purpose, they can attract donors.

17. Close the FTC and lay everyone off. It has far outlived its usefulness.

18. Eliminate the ethanol subsidy immediately.

19. Eliminate sugar price supports and the U.S. sugar cartel immediately.

20. Convert TVA into a "C Corp" with 300 million shares issued and outstanding. Give one share to everyone with a Social Security number. That is the way to privatize something.

21. Do the same thing with Amtrak - but give them a five year exemption from environmental impact statements for new rail, rail extensions, expansions and train stations.

22. Close the Department of Housing and Urban Welfare. It is very obvious that we have more than enough houses - prices just dropped another five percent.

23. Place a one-year surtax of $20 on every person to fund a Manhattan Project approach to Alzheimer's' research. If we don't make monumental progress on this disease in ten years or less, Medicare will be overwhelmed with baby boomers in nursing homes with Alzheimer's. Structure research grants so that taxpayers, not pharma companies, end up with the patents.

24. Merge ATF into the FBI, and make some serious cuts. First, sniper shots at Ruby Ridge that were questionable decisions at best. Then they flame-broiled the Branch Davidians. Now they sell high-powered, large-clip weapons to Mexican drug lords. Three strikes and you're out. I'll take my chances that we will have a few more moonshiners.

25. Overhaul the patent law process. Time to reign-in the patent trolls, who are simply extorting money from companies for zero economic benefit.

26. Overhaul the patent law process #2. Eliminate the business process patent. It's hogwash, and it is stifling innovation.

27. Eliminate the treatment of carried interest as capital gains and convert it to ordinary income. The decision to hold interest rates at effectively zero has been a remarkable gift from the savers of America to private equity, which has refinanced dozens of billions of high-interest-rate debt at rates far below their wildest dreams. They've been richly rewarded; they can pay some tax.

28. Similarly, ignore whining from companies about a tax holiday for repatriation. I'll admit that the U.S. tax code punishes U.S. companies, and our corporate tax rate is now among the world's highest (lower than FRANCE!!!). Want to do something? Cut the rate.

29. Apparently there are 2,400 generic drug applications sitting around awaiting approval at the FDA. How stupid is that? Approving those is like a monster tax cut for individuals, companies offering health care and any agency or charity involved in healthcare.

30. For companies operating only in America, if you are audited and have a clean opinion letter, you get to pay tax on GAAP net income. No tax return, no tax accountants required. Businesses save millions. IRS reduces headcount. Everyone wins except for my friends who are tax accountants.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Perdomo Reserve

Smoked a Perdomo Reserve Champagne Noir.  Apparently, it is the same binder and filler as the regular Champagne, but with a maduro wrapper.  Not bad, but I'll stick with the regular Champagne.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Letter from Senator Corker

Dear Dr. and Mrs. Fisher,

Thank you for taking the time to contact my office regarding the recent debate surrounding the debt ceiling. Your input is important to me, and I appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts.

Left to my own accord I would have much rather seen larger spending cuts now, a long-term plan like the CAP Act to put a fiscal straitjacket on Congress, and a constitutional amendment to keep Congress from falling off the wagon, but regrettably, with the current administration and Republican control of only one house of Congress, I believe this was the largest package we could get at this time. In the final analysis I had to ask myself: do I believe two to four more weeks of negotiating would produce a better outcome? The answer is no, and I think it could even get worse.

I'm encouraged that passage of this agreement changes the paradigm in Washington by requiring real cuts in order to raise the debt ceiling. I view the $900 billion down payment as a start and the additional $1.5 trillion the select committee is charged with finding as the floor for their work and will be pushing hard between now and December to get them to work toward something that is much more significant. In business I learned that you can never go broke taking a profit, and in Washington I've discovered a similar adage: that you should never say no to spending cuts.

Our country's battle with spending is the struggle of this decade and this package is a down payment which I view as the beginning of our work and not the end. With its passage, we have changed the conversation in Washington from 'how much will we spend?' to 'how much will we save?'. As we move forward, I believe this debate has been good for our country. I feel like we have achieved the most significant cuts possible with the current administration, and I'm glad that resolving this issue will result in more predictability for the markets which will ultimately positively impact businesses and put Tennesseans back to work.
Thank you again for your letter. I hope you will continue to share your thoughts with me as I serve you in the United States Senate.


Bob Corker

United States Senator

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Monday, August 08, 2011

Letter from Congressman Culberson

This is a response from Congressman Culberson to my email, pleading for some serious cuts and dealing with the debt ceiling in a constructive way.

August 2, 2011

Mr. Gene Morphis

2345 Sage Road #182

Houston, TX 77056-4621

Dear Mr. Morphis:

Last night, I reluctantly supported the debt ceiling compromise for several important reasons. First, America will run out of money in early August, putting us at risk of a default. The ratings agencies have threatened to downgrade our AAA credit rating, which would drive up interest rates, shrink our GDP, and collapse our economy. For every 1% increase in interest rates, we lose a trillion dollars worth of spending cuts we enact.

There is a particularly well researched explanation of the debt ceiling problem at Click on the debt limit analysis, and pay particular attention to the debt bubble link.

Recognizing the very real threat of default and downgrade, we had to find a way to avoid this disaster while preserving our core principles. Constitutional conservatives only control one half of one third of the government, and the federal government has been hardwired for decades to spend ever increasing amounts of our tax dollars, so we were facing very long odds in the fight to control spending. Despite these daunting obstacles, Speaker John Boehner managed to forge a solution that preserved our core principles.

First, this agreement prohibits any new tax increases. Second, it enacts enforceable spending caps for the next decade that will restrain future spending. It cuts more than one dollar of spending for each dollar the debt limit is increased, with spending cuts totaling $2.1 trillion over 10 years. Finally, this legislation guarantees a vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment by requiring each chamber of Congress to vote on the amendment before the end of the year.

I have co-authored the Balanced Budget Amendment every year since 2001, and I am an original cosponsor of the Cut, Cap and Balance Act. I am fiercely committed to balancing Washington’s checkbook the same way that most states and American families do.

You can always count on me to do the right thing for the right reasons and to approach every vote as a free market, constitutional conservative. While Speaker Boehner was accurate in saying this plan is far from perfect, he deserves credit for the extraordinary job he did negotiating the largest possible package of cuts that could pass the Democrat Senate and the White House.

We have much more work ahead of us to balance the budget and improve our economy. We need to get the federal government out of our way and let Americans save, invest, and create jobs. Texas is proof that tax cuts, deregulation, and tort reform are the best ways to create jobs and grow the economy. I am committed to these goals, but it will take a conservative majority in the Senate and a conservative in the White House to work alongside our conservative majority in the House.

This battle was the first in a much longer fight to restore the constitutional limits on the federal government and eliminate the roadblocks to job growth created by decades of unrestrained spending, taxation, and overregulation. Today’s agreement moves America in the right direction, and you can count on me doing my part to keep us moving in the right direction.


John Culberson

Member of Congress


Sunday, August 07, 2011

Note to Rachel Madow

Ms. Rachel Maddow:
I've seen your commercial with the impressive gorge bridge in the background saying that we need government to do certain things - implication is things like roads and bridges.

I totally agree.  Let's do this - exempt any new roads, bridges, interstate highways, airports, high-speed railroads, light rail systems, new and expanded subways from having to prepare and obtain an environmental impact statement prior to construction.
Maybe we can get some projects and the economy going.

Letter from Rep. Marsha Blackburn on the Budget

The following is a letter from Rep. Marsha Blackburn to conservative friend Richard Fisher.

Dear Dr. Fisher:
Thank you for contacting me to share your concerns regarding our nation's budget.
As you may know, on August 1, 2011, the House of Representatives passed the Budget Control Act of 2011 (S. 365) by a vote of 269-161. It was subsequently passed the Senate by a vote of 74-26, and was signed into public law by President Obama. I voted for this bill because it accomplishes two vital tasks: it gives the American people the security of avoiding the possibility of default, and it charts a new course for fiscal responsibility. In this bill, we achieved more than two-thirds of Congressman Paul Ryan's budget, and most of the aspects of Cut, Cap, and Balance. It contains real cuts in spending, real caps on future spending, and requires both the Senate and the House to vote on a proposed Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution by the end of the year.

This bill prevents our country from possibly entering into a job-crushing national default. Had this happened, it would have detrimentally affected the lives of Americans all across the country. Default would cause ratings agencies to reduce the U.S. credit rating, and credit availability would contract significantly in the short run as banks are unable to issue credit. Once individuals are able to borrow again, credit costs such as mortgages, auto loans, school loans, credit card loans, etc., would increase immediately and would likely be permanently higher than if no default had occurred. The message is clear: Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. We have been given an opportunity to reexamine fiscal and budgetary policy, and impose real changes in the way our government spends taxpayer money.
In addition to saving our nation from default, this bill cuts spending by a larger amount than the debt limit hike, and says no to President Obama's proposed tax hikes. It contains significant spending cuts and statutory spending controls: it will cut $2.4 trillion over the next decade. Ever since I have been in Congress, I have fought for real spending cuts. You, the people of the 7th district of Tennessee, elected me to fight for you. Each year, I introduce bills and propose amendments on appropriations to cut spending. I will continue to fight for across-the-board cuts and remain committed to the fight against tax increases.

While I am pleased with the real cuts included in the Budget Control Act, I am frustrated that defense cuts were once again put on the table at the eleventh hour. The men and women of our Armed Forces deserve the full support and backing of Congress. As the select committee looks at cuts, I will work closely with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon to ensure that these cuts don't come on the backs of our men and women at Ft. Campbell or our National Guard Units. I will be actively watching as we move forward and will fight to make sure we continue to supply these brave servicemen and women, and their families, with the resources they need.

While this bill is not perfect, it is a step toward bringing sanity to the nation's finances and greater certainty to our country's small business job creators. I am hopeful and encouraged that this is the start of serious spending reform. Rest assured, I will continue to fight for you to control spending in Washington and restore fiscal responsibility.

Please know that I appreciate both your interest and time in contacting me. As the discussion moves forward on this and other issues, please feel free to visit our website at where you can sign-up for our email update, learn about constituent services, and find the latest legislative news and critical information that affects and concerns the people of Tennessee.

Marsha Blackburn

Member of Congress


Saturday, August 06, 2011

Letter from Senator Hutchson.

During the recent debt limit fiasco, I wrote my Senators and Congressman.  I received reasonably lucid respones, which I'll post here.

However, I must preface it by saying that words fail me at the level of disdain I feel for people who can only cut $25 billion of spending from a $2.6 Trillion budget.....

Here is the letter from Senator Hutchison.

Dear Friend:

Thank you for contacting me regarding our national debt. I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Out-of-control spending has put our economic and national security at risk. Over the past two years, the federal government has posted deficits of $1.4 trillion and $1.3 trillion, respectively. Our nation’s accumulated debt surpassed $14 trillion December 2010, and reached its statutory limit of $14.3 trillion on August 2, 2011. The debate over our nation's debt ceiling agreement presented Congress and the White House with the opportunity to achieve real, substantive spending cuts and reforms that are necessary to put our fiscal house in order.

I am a cosponsor and strong supporter of both the Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and S. 1340, the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act of 2011. The only permanent solution to our debt and deficit crisis is to enact laws that require the federal budget to be balanced every year, and that cap the share of our country's economic output that can be diverted to support our government.

Unfortunately, the Democrat majority in the Senate has repeatedly blocked voting on either bill. Most recently, on July 22, 2011, despite unanimous support from me and all Republican Senators, the Senate majority voted down a procedural move to bring up the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act.

The House of Representatives, which had passed the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act, then approved a compromise bill that would have raised the debt limit by $900 billion -- accompanied by more than $900 billion in initial spending cuts, no tax increases, and a commitment that the Senate vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment. Senate Democrats rejected this compromise and brought forward a proposal that was rejected by both the full Senate and the House of Representatives.

With the deadline for debt limit action approaching, the Republican Leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives negotiated directly with the White House, and arrived at a debt limit and deficit cut agreement that was approved by the full House and Senate, and signed by the President on August 2, 2011. This agreement raises the debt by about $900 billion, locks in more than $900 billion in spending cuts, and does not raise taxes. It also requires the Senate to vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment before the end of 2011.

The debt limit agreement establishes a special Congressional committee to recommend at least $1.2 trillion in additional spending cuts that must accompany any further increase in the debt limit. If the committee cannot agree on these cuts, or if the full Congress or the President reject them, the August 2 legislation triggers $1.2 trillion in across-the-board cuts in all federal discretionary spending programs.

The provisions of this agreement fall far short of the $4 trillion in spending cuts that I hoped could be achieved; however, it is the best result that could be achieved with Democrats in control of the Senate and the White House. Tax increases are off the table, a vote on the Balanced Budget is guaranteed, and never again will Congress and the White House take for granted upping the limit on the national credit card. Finally, this agreement provided a needed respite for our weak, jobless economic recovery.

Please be assured that I remain strongly committed to the goal of balancing the federal budget -- without raising taxes. I appreciate hearing from you. Please do not hesitate to contact me on any issue that is important to you.


Kay Bailey Hutchison

United States Senator

284 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

202-224-5922 (tel)

202-224-0776 (fax)