Question Washington

July 31, 2011

The Debt Ceiling, Spending cuts, Tax increases and Pigs

Filed under: Congress — questiondc @ 2:03 pm
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With the debt-ceiling limit looming, our “leaders” in Washington are sounding the alarm. There are advocates of raising the debt limit and raising taxes while others advocate coupling the debt limit increase to spending reductions and a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. How did we get here? Considering the answer to that question got me thinking about pigs. Yes, I said pigs. Pigs have been symbols for many things throughout history and pig analogies are woven into the fabric of our language. Consider the piggy bank; a symbol of savings and frugality. On the opposite end of that spectrum is the pork barrel, which has come to signify excess. We have the now infamous “lipstick on a pig” analogy. The “wrestling with a pig gets both of you dirty and the pig likes it” analogy. Pigs are maligned in most analogies but here is one that has been running through my mind since the debt ceiling impasse has been dominating the news; Commitment versus Involvement, In preparing a breakfast of bacon and eggs consider the pig and chicken, the chicken is merely involved while the pig is totally committed. This brings us back to the question of how we got to where we are on the debt-ceiling impasse.

The commitment of the elected representatives in Washington is analogous to the pig and his commitment to breakfast. They are, or should be, totally committed to serving in the best interest of the people they represent as well as the best interest of America. Well, the “pigs” in Washington have bellied up to the trough of public funds and eaten from it like, well, pigs. This is not a new phenomenon. It has been going on for years under all administrations. Appropriation bills include pet projects for districts where Congressional “leaders” then go back home and use the appropriations as evidence that they are working for their constituents. One problem, this has never really served the constituency as much as it has served the “leader” seeking reelection. The bottom line here is all these “pork-barrel” spending projects have added up to spending run amuck while the fiscal “piggy bank” is ignored. So, while the feeding frenzy in Washington has been going on unabated, we have been sold a “pig in a poke” (another pig reference meaning you have been ripped off). To borrow a phrase, let me be clear; politicians have used your money to buy your vote by spending your money with reckless abandon creating the deficit and debt predicaments we are in now.

What do we do about this spending problem? The collective American consciousness has been awakened due to the “crisis” we now find ourselves in which is bringing pressure to change old habits in Washington but the carefully crafted approaches being considered by our “leaders” are less about real long term solutions as they are about continuing to bribe us with our own money. Until the “leadership” in Washington ceases the self-serving gluttony of “pigging out” on public funds, we, the little citizen piggy’s are at the mercy of the “Big Bad Wolf” representatives in Washington that are continuing to huff and puff and blow our collective fiscal house down.

This, my friends, is no fairy tale.


June 26, 2011

Rep James Clyburn – (D) South Carolina on ABC this week

Filed under: Congress — questiondc @ 2:19 pm

Aside from the obvious slant that emanates from Christian Amanpour, cleverly disguised as “news”, the guests are truly entertaining if not comical.  Today as I listened to Rep. Jim Clyburn, I was shocked at the approach advocated to address the looming debt crisis.  According to Rep. Clyburn there does not need to be a tax increase but tax loopholes need closing and the subsidies to oil companies and on ethanol fuels need to end.  Rep. Clyburn clearly stated that closing these loopholes would not increase anyone’s taxes and that the only way to increase someone’s taxes is to raise the tax rate.  Seriously?  This is what he believes to be true?   How does Rep Clyburn define subsidies?  Let’s clear a few things up.

First, what is a loophole?  According to Webster, a loophole is a means of avoiding an obligation.  Given this definition would presuppose that the current tax code contains gaps that allow taxpayers to avoid paying taxes.  This would be an incorrect assertion since Rep Clyburn is actually referring to the legally codified tax deductions and exemptions that allow taxpayers, in this instance the oil companies, to deduct certain expenditures or investments against revenues or income.  Loophole closure versus removal of deductions is simply spin to foment anger toward corporate entities that are operating within the law.  This spin is nothing more than bias presented through parsing of words to infer wrongdoing. To put it another way, Rep Clyburn is being duplicitous in order to further an agenda of raising taxes.  Wait, according to Rep Clyburn the only way to raise taxes is to increase the tax rate.  Either Rep Clyburn is being intellectually dishonest or he lacks understanding of basic math.  What constitutes a tax increase?  Certainly, an increase in the tax rate would result in increased taxes but a decrease in deductions or exemptions has the same effect.  The most rudimentary explanation is the more income subject to taxation, the higher the tax rate. 

Next, let’s look at what a subsidy consists of.  The definition is “a grant of money, as from a government to a private enterprise.”  Rep Clyburn was correct in saying that Ethanol fuel manufacturing has received subsidies, or direct payments of taxpayer dollars for research and development.  Then truthfulness takes a detour.  To make a claim that Oil companies are receiving subsidies is patently false and misleading.  Tax deductions or exemptions defined as a subsidy can be, per Rep Clyburn’s definition, extrapolated to say that the Government subsidizes every child claimed as a dependent.  While there is widespread agreement that ethanol subsidies do need to end, let’s at least be honest about what constitutes a subsidy and stop with the spin.  The attempt to pit people against each other is not what is best for this country or the people you represent.  The next time you elected leaders contemplate why there seems to be so much cynicism among the people, try looking at the deception you are constantly spewing and you might answer your own question.

I’m just sayin’

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