Stanstamper’s Blog

December 6, 2011

The Two Sides of Compromise

Filed under: Uncategorized — stanstamper @ 10:32 pm
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Senior advisor to President Obama, David Plouffe, has sent out an advisory to the media appealing for Congress to act quickly and approve the president’s recommendation to extend the payroll tax credit program that was placed into effect last year.
The result would give the average American worker an extra $1,500 in spendable cash next year, something the president believes will “stimulate the economy.”
I can’t recall ever meeting a Republican who was not in favor of cutting taxes, yet the president’s plan is falling on cold ears.
Ahh, but there is a catch. Republicans point to the mountain of red ink (too much government spending) that threatens to devour our great nation not unlike a hungry wolf devours a rabbit. Repubs say the president’s plan “must be paid for with cuts.”
His response is to the contrary. “We will pay for it by taxing the rich.”
All of this is routine political rhetoric, and at least as of this writing, neither side has submitted a plan that has enough bipartisan support to pass.
But there’s something missing here. Just paying for the tax cut extension isn’t enough. It does not address the multi-trillion dollar (and growing) deficit that seduces our country into the financial abyss.
Were I a member of congress, my proposal would be to extend the tax cuts for a period of not one, but two years, and make them permanent if the economy were in fact rebounding. My proposal for paying for it would be for half of the funds to come from cuts, and half to come from an extremely modest tax increase on the top 1% of American wage earners AVERAGED OVER THE PAST 5 YEARS.
This is very important because any citizen who reaches retirement age and sells a family farm or business, INSTANTLY becomes a member of the 1% club for that year. This individual should not be forced to sacrifice a significant portion of his or her life’s savings, by virtue of having a once-in-a-lifetime sale of family assets.
And so we go forward, giving both sides the opportunity to save face with their political cronies and their respective parties.
Next, let’s approach the completion of a functional budget that will get our country back on track… in the same fashion.
Presently, posturing for political parties and those who fund them, as well as next November’s elections, drives the political train in Washington, D.C.
America deserves better, and the only obvious tool within our means to affect change is at the ballot box.
But we continue to be a divided nation even at the ballot box. Remember Barney Franks’s words last week, as he announced his retirement: “We (Congress) didn’t just parachute into the capital. We were elected.”
And so it is that the ballot box alone will probably take an extended time to allow the electorate to “adjust” Congress.
A quicker and more effective fix involves identifying an ideological champion… someone who has the knowledge and the courage to lay out a sensible plan… and most importantly SELL IT to the American people.
Though that may border on the edge of impossible, it is reality.
Whenever our brightest and sharpest minds come together on neutral ground and put the needs of our nation and its people before all other political gods, we will flourish.
Until then, we will languish.

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November 17, 2009

Why Hurry Mega-Health Plan?

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 3:25 pm
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Proposed health care legislation in Washington continues to generate concerns among all but the youngest of American citizens.
Seniors are worried about what will, or will not be covered. Some fear the new legislation will throw them under the bus.
Business owners are also fearful of being forced by the government to provide coverage. Many businesses are struggling financially and simply cannot afford several thousand dollars a month in new expenses.
From our vantage point, given the financial challenges our nation faces, we don’t like what we hear coming from the President concerning his desire to “rush this bill through.”
The most expensive piece of legislation in our nation’s history deserves more than a rush job through the Congress—especially our current Congress, which seems oblivious to what anything costs and who will pay for it.
Senate Democrats are in a conundrum. Rush the bill through now and face the wrath of voters back home, perhaps giving voters time to “forget” before next fall’s elections.
Or will they run the risk of taking their time and opening the gates of negative public input.
With only a few more than 20 legislative days remaining this year, odds are against a 2009 bill passing.
America’s most successful companies, which provide elaborate health plans to their executives are screaming about some Democratic plans to place an excise tax on “high cost” plans.
Another Democratic plan suggests that employers be forced to withhold more from employees which earn over $200,000—all intended to subsidize the cost of insurance for low-income recipients and what many fear will suck from the system—illegal immigrants.
Democrats have their work cut out for them as 39 of their members in the House voted against the House version of the bill.
Many of our readers have called to get phone numbers of Oklahoma’s Congressional delegation so they can voice their opinions.
All but a handful oppose the present health care proposal, as do we.
It would be out of character for the Congress to take the time necessary to find a sensible balanced plan that did a minimum amount of harm in the free-market.
But using the word “character” with many members of this Congress is a bit odd in itself.

August 27, 2009

Nothing better for Politicians to do?

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 3:16 pm
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I think American politics has gone mad.
Not only have the politicians gone mad, many of the bureaucrats have also.
Of course some bureaucrats follow political pressure like a small calf with a set of bull tongs in his nose.
Given all the issues our country presently faces, many of which are not this administration’s fault, the Obama administration continues to seeks to pacify factions of the political left by making efforts to discredit the Bush/Cheney handling of the interrogation of terrorists.
Take a moment and rewind.
Let’s rewind to that moment in September (the anniversary of which is fast approaching) when thousands of Americans (and many non-Americans) peacefully began a day of work. Their lives were ended in the most horrific acts of terrorism in history.
Pages could be written about how truly devilish these acts were, including New York City, The Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93 in the skies over Pennsylvania.
Can you imagine how you would feel today if a member of your family had been on one of those four planes, or working in the Pentagon?
Not surprisingly, the ACLU has been reported to support these investigations.
Recently, The Washington Post reported the Justice Department had launched a new inquiry into photographs of undercover CIA officials and other intelligence personnel taken by ACLU-sponsored researchers assisting the defense team of Guantanamo Bay detainees. According to the report, the pictures of covert American CIA officers — “in some cases surreptitiously taken outside their homes” — were shown to jihadi suspects tied to the 9/11 attacks in order to identify the interrogators.
The Post said the ACLU undertook the so-called “John Adams Project” with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
The ACLU’s team targeted 45 CIA employees and tailed and photographed agency employees or obtained other photos from public records.
Then, according to the Times report, they showed the images to suspected al-Qaida operatives implicated in murdering 3,000 innocent men, women and children on American soil.
The Times said ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero refused to comment on Project CIA Paparazzi and instead whined some more about the evil Bush/CIA interrogators.
While we stop well short of condoning torture, once you get past the enormity of the 9/11 attacks and the resulting human carnage and the trillions of dollars Americans lost in the collapse of the financial markets, there followed months of fear and concern about the safety of all Americans.
There are a lot of Americans who think President Obama and the Justice Department could be directing taxpayer resources in better ways, such as actually telling Americans where billions of our tax dollars have been loaned overseas—to whom, and for what? (Might these dollars be used to help buy down the cost of health care?)
Political polls are showing some long-time entrenched politicians are clearly vulnerable and may find it hard getting re-elected next fall.
Actions have consequences.

February 2, 2009

If I Were President…

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 10:39 pm
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Pardon my vanity on the matter, but I sure wish I could be President for a month.  Perhaps even a top Presidential advisor.

It appears that our new President has spent enough time inside the Beltway to have already contracted “Potomac Fever.” There are a number of cures, but the easiest is to live in the State of Oklahoma for a year. (Our laws require a balanced budget.) Of course all but the newest members of Congress have a heavy case of same. (Oklahoma Senators Jim Inhofe and Dr. Tom Coburn have a substantial immunity to this political disease.)

Were I to have such a wonderful opportunity, I would send a memo to Congress that any bill containing a single state earmark would be vetoed.  Then I would call leaders of both parties together and place on the table before them, 500 red chips. Each chip represents one billion dollars.

To the Democratic leader, I would count out 270 chips and to the Republicans, 230, to follow the way the American voters cast their ballots in November.  I would ask that they return in two weeks, with one or more of their chips attached to documents which represented a program to improve the American economy and the quality of life for all Americans.

If I, as President, had no substantial opposition to the proposal, I would agree to it. If they couldn’t convince me and my advisors it was an appropriate expenditure, I would give them a week to modify it or bring another program in its place, else they forfeit those funds to the other party, or altogether.

The entire process would have full transparency.  

Should such a final measure pass, I would give both parties ample time to recuperate from the act of having worked together. 

I would revel in the resurgence of the American Stock Market and other markets of the world, and in the resurrection of the American spirit.

Having only a few days left in my limited month of service before I, too, succumbed to certain perils of acquiring “Potomac Fever,” which causes the loss of one’s wits,  my  last action as President would be to give myself something that money can’t buy. A ride on the Space Shuttle. 

No matter how strongly the masses begged, I would decline their pleas to return to Washington and continue to make the simple changes that will be required to fix our country. However, I wouldn’t mind working on the problem occasionally or from my  home, where myself and millions of Americans have been able to balance our checkbooks and make some pretty decent decisions during our brief years on Earth.

Too bad we don’t have a modern day Will Rogers. He would have had a blast with this Congress.

There They Go Again!

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 9:10 pm
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A local attorney told me last week that he was representing a Choctaw County family that had fallen behind on their home mortgage payment.
After being notified by the government that they were in default, they figured out a way to catch up their payments.
Guess what?
The government lending agency wouldn’t accept their payments! Notified them that they were going to continue with foreclosure actions and force them out of their home.

At a time when the government is gasping for financial air, one would think this would be one legal fight the government could pass up. Why not give the family another chance or assist them in obtaining a lower interest rate in some of the new funding vehicles being discussed to help homeowners?

Now we hear that the next round of TARP funds or government bail-out funds continues to swell with partisan pork projects. Congress just doesn’t seem to get it! Some say the latest package will swell to $800 billion and others say it will hit $1 trillion. The worst part is that it won’t be 60 days until another group of bad investors or large banks go back to the government trough for more bailout funds.

I am anxious to see how Oklahoma Representative Dan Boren will vote on this package. At one point it had $335,000,000 in it for educational programs for sexually transmitted diseases. What does that have to do with stimulating the economy?

Another thing that is down right tragic, is the fact that the American taxpayer is sitting here listening once again to political leaders (I use the term loosely) who say we must “hurry up and pass this bill quickly.”

What that means is we have to pass it without reading it or debating its merits so by the time taxpayers find out what’s in it—it will be too late to stop it.

This is where our new President comes in. Just recently (in Monday’s paper) we quoted the president as saying that he wouldn’t support business as usual by the Congress and irresponsible pork projects and earmarks in new legislation.

Now he is pushing the latest bill which even includes bailout funds for states which have overspent their means.

If all this passes as planned, President Obama’s approval rating may take its first big drop, and he’s been President for little more than a week.

Small businesses which are the backbone for a very large percentage of jobs in the country, some argue, will get virtually nothing, while funds are being considered to buy more toxic loans made by unscrupulous major banks.

On the other hand, the President’s approval rating could soar along with financial markets if he had the courage to say just one word—NO.

January 21, 2009

Americans hungry for leadership…

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 4:46 pm
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America has a new and historic President.

The eyes of the informed world are clearly focused on our nation as President Obama and the leadership of the Democratic Party chart a new course for America.
The first 100 days of the new administration will be very interesting to watch. It causes me to wonder if it might not be a good job to simply record the daily activities of the president and the Congress.

I was impressed with much of President Obama’s inaugural speech and particularly the part when he says “no idle hands” and uses terms like “work.” Clearly parents and young people have lost the concept of “work ethic,” not to mention scores of adults as well.

Recently I attended a funeral of a quiet man who died of cancer. His pastor joked that taking chemotherapy was not nearly as hard on him as was a liberal politician.

This proud Navy veteran had the same message for all his children and grandchildren, whom he dearly loved. “The best way…is the hard way.”

How many people are going through life today looking for the path of least resistance, instead of taking the sage advice of wise elders?

In these first 100 days, I will be looking for signs of leadership from our new leader. Top among them will be how President Obama stands up to the well entrenched power brokers in the Congress. Will he himself take the hard road and say “NO” to earmarks, pork and Congressional shenanigans as usual? Will he send a clear signal to America and the world that real reform is going to be the order of the day?

Such an action would send American and world markets soaring. Failure to take the hard road will continue to cost Americans trillions and undermine everyone’s future, except of course, veteran politicians.

Soon, we will find out what the real Barack Obama is made out of. I’d like to see the Pit Bull side of him in the first 100 days.

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