Archive for the ‘GOP’ Tag

Party of Big Government   Leave a comment

In October, the Republican-majority Congress passed the first $4 trillion federal budget in U.S. history. At $4.1 trillion, the budget represents an approximately 5% increase in spending over the last fiscal year of the Obama administration and sets the stage for President Trump to do what every GOP president has done since WWII — increase spending far more than did his Democratic predecessor.

Remember, I’m a non-partisan fiscal conservative, not a Republican.

Image result for image of donald trump and mitch mcconnellMath was never my favorite subject in school, but it doesn’t take much more than elementary math to figure out that, if spending increases, either taxes or deficits must also increase. Historically, the GOP has been happy to allow deficits to explode, but that’s going to be a hard hand to play after eight-years of attacking Obama’s deficits, which increased the federal government’s debt from $10 trillion to $20 trillion.

So, what are Republicans likely to do? Raise taxes, of course. Their move in the tax reform bill shows this. By eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes (which doesn’t affect me at all being as I live in Alaska), the Republicans had taxes to traditionally “blue” areas at the benefit to traditionally “red” areas. It is likely that those people who hate paying taxes the most will leave those states with higher taxes to move to states with lower taxes. So you’re going to see quite a few Republicans moving to Republican strongholds.

The GOP will then use this as evidence that people want smaller, low tax government with more freedom and prosperity.

Which we probably do, but the reality is that when Republicans occupy the White House, government grows exponentially, because  Republicans think tariffs aren’t taxes and “infrastructure,” the military, and other boondoggles conservatives like don’t constitute government spending. The two-term presidencies of George W. Bush, Reagan, and Ford/Nixon all approximately doubled federal spending, while Clinton’s and Obama’s raised them a mere 25% and 28%, respectively.

Yes, some of those Republican presidents had Democratic Congresses, but Reagan never  asked for a 25% cut which Congress overrode with increases. Reagan consistently proposed huge increases in spending and Congress largely gave him what he asked for, merely shifting a little spending around at the margins. And, yes, I am a fan of Ronald Reagan. I’m also a realist. George W. Bush did the same thing – paid lip service to fiscal conservancy while consistently proposing spending increases which Congress willingly gave to him.

Spending is not the only issue. The federal government suffers from serious mission creep and most of it can be traced back to Republican presidents creating the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (today HHS and the Department of Education), the EPA, and the spectacularly destructive (and ultimately failed) War on Drugs.

Yes, the wealthiest people in America live in the coastal elite “blue” zones, which tend to impose egregious taxes on their residents. They will be taxed the most because they would no longer be able to write off those taxes. And, yes, that might possibly result in some blue states being forced to lower taxes in order to avoid the penalty. But, be honest, when your income is in the tens of millions, income tax increases are small potatoes. It’s those earners with incomes between $100,000 and $200,000 who will be hurt the most by extra taxes. In that income bracket, those extra taxes represent saving for your children’s college tuition, which now means borrowing for it. It could mean the difference between hiring one extra employee for a small business, further protecting the very richest from competition by the upwardly mobile class.

I honestly believe there are a few Republicans who sincerely want to cut the size and scope of the federal government. Senator Rand Paul tried to convince his party to cut a measly $43 billion (a mere 4%) from Washington’s gargantuan military budget. Senator Paul believes he is trying to hold the Republican Party to its core principles, but I think he needs to look at history here. The party was born in the mid-19th century on a platform of raising taxes, increasing the size and scope of the federal government and, for the first few years, abolishing slavery. It has never really changed, though it adopted the rap of small-government, low-taxes and freedom and prosperity after Goldwater introduced it to them.

It’s time those Republican voters attracted by the GOP’s rhetoric of free markets, smaller government, and more personal liberty face the reality that Harding, Coolidge, Taft, and Rand Paul are the “RINOs.” The Republican Party has always been about big government, authoritarianism, and empire. Those looking to truly “drain the swamp” should consider placing their support elsewhere — and, no, I don’t mean the Democratic Party because they are just as much for big government, just in support of different pet projects.

Posted December 14, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Government

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What Business is It of Ours?   4 comments

Long-time readers of my blog know that I am a registered non-partisan with conservative leanings who does not consider the Republic Party to be representative of conservative values.

This year’s election is pretty much cinching my belief that political parties in general are not representative of my values and I’m starting to see why my anarchist friends don’t vote.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/18/politics/georgia-delegate-donald-trump-ted-cruz/

So, over on the Republican side, Donald Trump keeps winning the popular vote (WHY? Oh, why, oh, WHY?), but Ted Cruz is starting to pick up delegates because the Republican party regulars understand what a Trump candidacy would do to the Republic Party. All across the media and in half the web sites I visit, people are lamenting that the Republican Party is ignoring the will of the people.

So?

The GOP and the Democratic parties are both private entities that you must be a member to influence. I chose to be a member for one day this year as I did in 2012, as I might not bother in 2020. I expressed my will. But the fact is, I don’t really have to live with the decision the people make. Ultimately, if the GOP disintegrates, it’s no skin off my back. I don’t have ownership in that private entity.

And, neither do most of the Trump voters. From what I can see, he is turning out a lot of brand-new GOP voters. Maybe they were never-voters before or maybe they’re Democrats who crossed over to skew the primaries … I don’t know. What I do know is that these are people who joined the GOP for a specific candidate, not to uphold the values of the Republican Party. Neither Trump nor the GOP reflect my values, but neither does Trump reflect the values of the Republican Party.

The Republican Party is in a civil war right now because after years of being a big-tent coalition, the various factions are trying to become the face of the party. That’s not a bad thing. I’d like to see all political parties cease to exist tomorrow, but I’d settle for them all splintering into tiny fractions so as the dilute their power.

But for now, let’s watch the show. At the moment, the private entity known as the Republican Party sees itself being taken over by a loud and obnoxious movement that would destroy everything the GOP has worked for over the last 100 years, so the party regulars (the people who have ownership in the party) are moving to keep that from happening.

Good for them. They have a right to build and maintain an organization that reflects their values. Their decision to fight this invasion may end the GOP … or it may transform it into something far better. Maybe I can vote GOP in the future with a clear conscience … or maybe not. But it’s not really for me to decide because I am not a Republican … and since many of Trump’s supporters are brand-new to the party, it isn’t really for them to decide either.

While the show is going on, why don’t we take a moment and ask ourselves — and this can be a question for anyone of any political party, but particularly if you normally vote either GOP or Democrat …

Why are we allowing two private organizations to control who we elect as president? Or Congress? Governors? Legislators?

You see, a large part of what is happening is that folks have begun to realize that these private organizations do not have an obligation to do what people on the outskirts of the party want them to do.
I’m seriously thinking of not voting for a party member in November. I could randomly write in someone. I suspect just about anyone could do a better job than Barack Obama has done and it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to outperform Hillary Clinton, so ….

Lela Markham is a pen name, so don’t write me in. Maybe write in your own name. Can you imagine the message that would send? 100 million people vote and they each and every one vote for themselves.

Now that’s putting individual liberty back in the driver’s seat!

 

Posted April 18, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Political Philosophy

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Alaska Chooses Cruz   Leave a comment

At one point yesterday, every major news outlet in the United States and London was claiming Alaska would choose Trump for President, but Brad and I were committed to voting a certain way, so we showed up at the Fairbanks Presidential Preference Poll and voted sanely, rationally, with our gazes firmly fixed on our principles.

http://www.newsminer.com/news/alaska_news/texas-sen-cruz-wins-alaska-gop-presidential-vote/article_f959abe4-e054-11e5-b424-cf37cb52131a.html

I’d like to say that Alaska voted wisely, because Cruz is much more sane than Trump and possibly electable in the general (which Trump is not), but the Fairbanks districts were the ones who swung the vote by slightly more than 3% to Cruz. The rest of the state appears to be confused about what a Republican looks like.

For the record, Barack Obama won both of his general elections by less than 2% of the vote, so the Cruz Alaska win margin is not insignificant. If we were Democrats, we’d be calling this a “wide” margin and hailing it as a mandate.

Ben Carson will actually get some delegates because he cleared the 10% mark that Alaska has set for apportioning delegates in Cincinnati. Kasich, another actual conservative, did not win enough to get delegates from Alaska. I feel good about the way I voted. I think a message has been sent to the Alaska GOP. Enough said on that.

And Super Tuesday doesn’t settle the matter. It will be interesting to see how Kasich and Carson do in the Midwest, though I don’t think either of them is going to take the nomination. If Cruz and Rubio stop fighting each other, there is a chance Cruz could take the nomination. A Fox News analyst last night suggested that a Rubio-Cruz ticket could compete against Hillary in the general. Since Cruz has more delegates, that seems like a sketchy ticket with whiffs of John McCain and Mitt Romney about it — put a moderate (meaning “progressive”) Republican in the lead position with an actual conservative “consolation” vice presidential candidate playing second fiddle and hope conservatives will mistake the VP pick as a promise that their preferred candidate will get a chance to run in eight years. That way you keep the conservatives in the stable without actually giving them what they want.

I hope we’ve gotten smarter than that, conservatives, but I know too many people who claim to be conservatives who are voting for Trump, so I’m starting to think conservativism is a dead concept and my anarchist friends are right — the electorate is too manipulated to vote with their heads.

But Alaska did just give me some hope (at least some Alaskans are still looking at the issues) … though I still expect to vote Libertarian in November and to watch Hillary take the White House, maybe I won’t have to.

For the record, if Cruz is the nominee for President, I will vote GOP in the general. He’s not a perfect candidate and I did not vote for him in the primary, but he’s conservative enough that I could convince myself to do it. I don’t know if I would vote for Rubio-Cruz — I doubt it. And, I will not vote for Trump, ever, for anything, no matter who his Veep candidate is. When a Democrat runs as a Republican, conservatives should vote against him by casting a vote for a 3rd Party that is to the right of the GOP.

I have a conspiracy theory or two about that, but that’s for another post.

Posted March 2, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in politics, Uncategorized

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GOP – Please Don’t Prove You Can Govern   Leave a comment

I wasn’t going to post anytihing on political philosophy while continuing my talk to Christians, but listening to television news at a friend’s house last night changed my mind.

The Republicans won big this week in a repudiation of Democratic politics. Voters gave Republicans control of the Senate, a deeper control of the House, and more governors across the country. Look at the electoral map and it’s a sea of red with a few tiny patches of blue … and they don’t know what to do with Alaska because we apparently elected a non-affiliated governor.

For the record, I voted for only one party politician – Don Young and then only because the Libertarian candidate against him and Forest Dunbar ran such a stealth campaign that I didn’t know he existed until I got into the voting booth and I don’t vote for pigs in a poke. I went looking for this alternative candidate and never found him. As I couldn’t vote for Forest Dunbar, I voted for Don Young. Still hoping he will come to his senses and retire and allow Governor Walker to appoint a good replacement. I am not writing this in support of the Republicans. I am writing this in hopes that one of them will read it and  resist the urge to act like a Democrat now that they’re in control of Congress.

The pundits on CNN and an NPR report featuring a likeminded Republican Senator were very grave last night, offering the advice that now the Republicans must “prove they can govern”. They suggested various ways to do that – mostly involving the people’s money being spent on very “essentials” like trade-promotion authority, comprehensive immigration reform and corporate tax reform.

STOP! Please don’t go haring off after new ideas for a moment and think about what the GOP base –mostly employed and retired conservatives –have been demandiing for more than five years … and do that first.

What is the one thing conservatives have been demanding since April 2009? Right! Stop Obamacare. I get that the Republicans couldn’t do that at the time. They lacked the power because the people stupidly gave all the power to the Democrats. What did you folks expect – for the Democrats to not immediately enact the agenda they were working on when they lost control of Congress in 1994? Of course not. They did exactly what they had been promising voters they would do if they ever regained power.

But it was an ill-conceived idea and it has saddled the nation with a mountain of debt and a looming catastrophy in the health care field. Everybody has coverage now, but few will have actual health care if we stay this course.

Unfortunately, ObamaCare did become a reality and there is no way to completely get rid of it. I think the American people are ready to consider a patient-centered, market-driven alternative to what has gone before. My expert on these things – my cousin the research doctor who gets paid a salary, so this debate doesn’t affect him at all financially – supports the Coburn Plan. He supports market driven approaches to health care because he believes they are more flexible to the individual than a government-centered approach that limits choice and increases costs. Of course, Rick’s ideal system is universal castrophic coverage with health savings accounts that can be rolled over from year to year and given to one’s heirs, but the American public has been so brainwashed into believing they need health insurance to cover every little sniffle that we can’t go back to a completely free market system as existed before the 1950s, where my parents negotiated with their doctor (or their billing representative) for what they wanted to pay and the doctor wanted to earn. I could do that quite happily. But that’s not likely to happen before the Collapse comes, so what do we do in the interim? What should Republicans do to prove they can govern? Take care of the big issue first.

Repeal and replace ObamaCare with something less unwieldy and disasterous and then work on how to empower the free market to replace it entirely. If they do nothing else for the next two years, they will have done enough.

Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Richard Burr of North Carolina, and Orrin Hatch of Utah put forth a contructive replacement plan in 2014. It won’t substantially reduce the debt or deficit spending, but they believe it won’t add to it either. It may modestly reduce the amount of federeal spending and taxation.  It would preserve some of the law’s most popular features, such as its ban on lifetime limits on insurer payouts and its requirement hat insurers cover adult children young than 27.

It would replace ObamaCare’s premium hike on young people (the so-called age-based community rating) with a more tradition 5:1 rating band. It would discontinue ObamaCare’s individual mandate and its requirement that insurers offer coverage to everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions. Instead, the plan would require insurers to make offers to everyone who has maintained “continuous coverage” while aiding states in restoring the high-risk pools that served those who insurers would not otherwise cover. Subsidy-eligible individuals who failed to sign up for a plan would be auto-enrolled in one priced at the same level as the subsidy for which they qualified.

It would encourage medical malpractice reform by “adopting or incentivizing states to adopt a range of solutions to tackle the problem of junk lawsuits and defensive medicine” and it would strive to expand price transparency and the supply of physicians.

Most importantly, the Coburn-Burr-Hatch bill plan would make substantial changes to tax exclusion for employer-sponsored coverage. It would cap the tax exclusion for employee health coverage at 65% of an average plan’s cost (tied to the Consumer Price Index) and use that cap to offer tax credits for the uninsured, so long as their incomes were below 300% of the federal poverty level. These subsidies would be on a sliding scale so that they would adjust with income over time. They would also increase as you get older, taking pressure off Medicare. This is a substantial improvement from previous “repeal and replace” plans that offered uniform tax credits regardless of prior health or wealth.

Younger, healthier people would pay lower premiums, but be subsidized at a lower level as well. The subsidy would be means-tested.

The plan would also reform Medicaid using per-capita caps. The federal government would give states a fixed amount of money per person enrolled in Medicaid and then let the states decide how best to use that money to provide cost-efficient health care. In some states, that might mean a regular private-sector insurance plan.

Of course, this plan won’t satisfy my desire to get rid of health insurance altogether, but it would make a good stop-gap while we figure out a better way to do this. One thing it does that is highly attractive for me is the substantial deregulation of the health insurance market.

Oh My! Yes, I’m one of those! And with good reason!

Deregulation lowers costs and less costly health insurance will reduce federal spending on health insurance over time. And, whether or not I believe people should get health coverage they haven’t paid for, this replacement plan coveres approximately the same number of people as ObamaCare, meaning that Republicans wouldn’t create a crisis before they’re prepared to deal with it.

So, get to it, GOP. Get  rid of ObamaCare. It is what you were elected to do. Please do it using Constitutional means and not the insane system that was used to put it in place in the first place. Yes, Obama will veto it. Go back and override his veto. Do it until he has a Bill Clinton moment and decides to cooperate.

The second thing the GOP Congress should do is pass a companion act allowing a test of national insurance coverage. Allow indiividual plans to be purchased across state lines. I believe we would see a reduction in individual premiums and then allow group insurance to be purchased similarly and watch the cost of health insurance drop substantially.

Competition is a good thing, in pretty much anything.

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