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OK, Democrats, You Got What You Wished For

Your man won. You even increased your lead in the Senate, although it seems we may have increased our own majority in the House. But that doesn’t matter, because the fact is House Republicans can’t get anything they really want past the Senate’s majority or the President’s veto.  The best they can do is to come to some kind of agreement with your Senate Democrats as to what we can do about the looming “fiscal cliff” and some other minor inconveniences that lie ahead. How can that agreement be reached?

In his losing campaign, Mitt Romney promised he would “repeal Obamacare,” among other reasons because it took $700 billion in physician reimbursement funds out of Medicare to make Obamacare appear less expensive than it actually is. He said he would reduce tax rates across the board for everyone, in conjunction with reductions in deductions and exemptions, primarily for business, all in an effort to boost the economy without adding more debt. He also promised to bring the deficit under control, primarily through growth in the economy and reductions in Federal spending. One way to do that, he said, was to hold any spending request brought to him to this standard:  Is the project so necessary that it’s worthy of borrowing money to pay for it? That sounded good to me, but it got lost in the kerfuffle about his example–Big Bird. Finally, he promised to attack the twin problems of Social Security and Medicare–both are underfunded and will run out of financial support under current law within a few years, several years fewer now than when George W. Bush requested they be reformed in 2005. And more, of course, but let’s stop there.

We now know none of that is going to happen, at least not that way.

I don’t believe President Obama promised to do any of those things, but perhaps that was simply because he thought it so obvious that it wasn’t worth mentioning. We knew that he intends to raise income tax rates on the richest of us, sometimes meaning those with incomes over $200,000 annually and sometimes meaning something else, but always with the threat attached that if Republicans don’t go along with whatever he decides, he will allow income tax rates on everybody to increase back to pre-Bush tax rates by vetoing any tax bill that does not raise tax rates on the “rich.” According to USA Today, (11/14/12), that veto would take $214 billion out of the economy while “reducing the deficit” very little if at all. According to the paper, the total result of going over the cliff will be a 3.6% decline in GDP, amounting to a $560 billion smaller economy, which means the rate increases will NOT generate the tax revenue that is advertised, but less. And today he added a new note–he wants to approximately double the tax rate increase he had been proposing, which if passed would take an additional $40 billion from the economy. But that has been his general plan all along, and we all knew it.

Beyond that, he only said he wouldn’t be a deceptive and “sketchy” conservative like Romney.

The ball is in your court

That is, the Democrats’ court.  The Legislative and Executive Branch situations haven’t changed all that much, numerically. Republicans can still filibuster in the Senate, although Democrats control the agenda there. Republicans control the agenda in the House, but can’t get anything passed without buy-in from Democrats in the Senate, which seems impossible to achieve on major legislation. (I just heard Congressman Luiz Gutierrez {D. IL}, expounding on immigration reform. He couldn’t even bring himself to say that Republicans who disagree with him but would work towards compromise legislation are anything better than desperate politicians “doing it for political purposes so that [their] party can have a future,” as opposed to Gutierrez and others [Democrats] who simply want to make “America a better, more decent place to live….” This after he criticized Republicans for “beginning the conversation” in a way that closes the minds of Hispanic listeners. Not promising as a sign of future agreement and civility.) And the President can still veto anything that he doesn’t like.

What has changed is that we’ve had an election, and regarding legislative cans that have been kicked down the road, we can say the chickens have come home to roost. The fiscal cliff will either be dealt with or we face a the second dip of a recession. The debt ceiling must be raised or spending cut to the bone (which do you think will happen?)

The election has given President Obama a mandate, but not one he relishes.  It’s a mandate to lead. He must take the lead on all these issues, no matter how much he wants to simply continue to blame George W. Bush and the House Republicans while he does nothing. If he doesn’t lead, even our compliant mainstream press won’t be able to cover for him in the history books, although it might fool a lot of people about his performance for a while. His leadership is necessary to reach agreement between the two Houses of Congress.

He can’t just turn things over to Reid, Pelosi, McConnell, and Boehner and expect to come in at the end and take credit for their progress, or demand changes to what they hammered out before him. That resulted last time in what is referred to as the fiscal cliff or “Taxmageddon” that awaits us in January.

So, what is he going to do? 

Here are some of the issues that need to be addressed:

National debt–Growing past $17 trillion at the rate of $1.5 trillion per year.

Annual deficit–$1.5 trillion each year for the past 5 years and next year. Where will the loans come from? There isn’t enough money in the economy to reduce the deficit significantly by increased taxation.

Federal budget–We haven’t had one passed by the Senate since the first year of the Obama Administration. Until we get one, continuing resolutions guarantee continuing deficits (see above).

Spending–What can be reduced or eliminated? What absolutely has to be increased?

Stock market–Has been falling steadily since election day, just as it did in 2008. Will there be a crash like the one that bottomed in March, 2009?

Federal regulations–Are they too heavy for business to thrive?

Military readiness–The military budget is scheduled to see huge cuts under Taxmageddon, cuts that the Secretary of Defense say will be devastating.

Social Security–Outgo exceeds income. Cannot survive without reform.

Medicare–see Social Security, only worse.

Obamacare–Contains many new taxes, pushes the economic envelope away from developing more medical doctors, facilities, procedures, and medicine, and many other problems you Democrats don’t care about–yet.

Obamacare– How will we pay for 16,000 new IRS agents to enforce it?

Obamacare–Businesses are already starting to cut back work hours and lay off workers, primarily to avoid situations that will be very expensive for them.

Obamacare–Is it OK to force the Catholic Church to pay for abortifacients and birth control measures in its employee health plans against its religious convictions? If it doesn’t have to pay, why should anybody else have to?

Republican War on Women–Will the Senate hold hearings to find out what that means?

Fast and Furious–What, Who, When, and Why?

Benghazi–What, Who, When, and Why?

Illegal immigration–Border security is essential, immigration reform is needed.

Iran–What will he do to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons?

Muslim Brotherhood–How do we relate to them? In Egypt, are they our ally? In Libya, are they an insurgency?

Syria–Do we allow Assad to continue killing his people?

Afghanistan–Friend or foe?

Pakistan–Friend or foe?

Al Qaida–Is it really “on the run”?

Energy independence–The last Obama Administration closed oil fields, closed offshore rigs, gave money to Brazil to develop offshore oil to sell to us, rejected the Keystone pipeline, and wasted money on Obama contributors’ “green” companies. What will this one do? They’ve already cut back on energy leases in Colorado.

Israel–Will we treat them as friend or foe?

China–Do we continue to feed jobs to them? Will they loan to us again? Will the yuan become the world’s reserve currency under Obama’s watch?

Taxes–Will the President really veto any tax bill that doesn’t raise taxes on the “rich”? He says he will.

Taxes–He has said he wants to raise capital gains taxes for “fairness,” even if it means less tax revenue. Does he know many non-rich retirees depend on the sale of securities to sustain their lives? Raising their taxes leaves them less to live on, reduces the life of their nest eggs.

Taxes–Every dollar of additional tax taken out of the economy is a dollar that can’t be used to buy something in it.  Even if it is sent back to somebody else, some of it is skimmed off to pay the bureaucracy.

CIA–What???

California–Will the federal government support California if it asks us to pay its bills?

Federal government payrolls–Every dollar must be paid by non-government workers or be borrowed.

Government transparency–Where is it?

Guantanamo Bay Prison–When will it close? What will happen to the inmates?

Russia–What will Obama do with his new-found flexibility?

Hurricane Sandy/New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia/FEMA–Will Federal assistance ever arrive?

Queen Elizabeth–What to give her on her birthday….

What do you want him to do?

Seriously, most conservatives could tell you what they would have wanted Mitt Romney to do had he been elected. That’s why we were Romney voters. What do you want your President to do about these issues and others? Or have you even thought about it? Comments are open for business.

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