Switch to normal site

Letter to the editor:

Time to tell leaders what we ‘must’ do

Thu, Jun 7, 2012 (2 a.m.)

Our Congress and our president are great at deciding what we must have and must do. We “must” stay in Afghanistan. We “must” keep the structure and benefits for Social Security and Medicare exactly as they are. We “must” always increase military spending. We “must” provide foreign aid to hundreds of nations. We “must” spend billions on infrastructure, education and energy.

Our Congress and our president are terrible at deciding how we pay for all that and more. Cut spending in other areas? Oh, no, we can’t do that! Raise taxes on everyone? Oh, no, we can’t do that!

And therein lies the problem. Whether it be former President George W. Bush and Congress, President Barack Obama and Congress or a President Mitt Romney and Congress, if we allow the above to continue, we will all get exactly what we deserve — a devastated economy and largely reduced standard of living.

So when this election is over, regardless of the result, we all better stop sitting on the sidelines and start forcing our leaders to decide how to pay for all the must do’s without borrowing and printing more money.

Back to top


Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Discussion: 69 comments so far…

  1. I can't wait for the end of this political cycle in November. Some items on the writer's "must" list "should" actually be done; they won't be. The political fever swamp of ideology "must" be drained; it won't be. To some, public sector unions "must" be neutered or, better yet, destroyed so "progress" in reducing state debt will be achieved. Keep your eyes on California and Wisconsin. Wisconsin has made it's bed and California is now changing the sheets on their bed. Stay tuned. Replacing the current president with a different one; that's the ticket! Jury's still out on that. My prediction, if Romney wins: meet the new boss WORSE than the old boss; economic collapse to follow and the final nail in the middle class coffin.

  2. My prediction is Mitt Romney will win. Wisconsin, Nevada and North Carolina, all Obama states in 2008, will go GOP in 2012. As well as other swing states that will vote for Romney. Close presidential election but Romney wins.

    All Romney has to do is ask American voters if they want another 4 years of the same. If so, vote Obama. If not, and they want real hope and change: Romney's the one.


  3. Many people are still missing the point. Recent Congresses have spent wildly and have not raised taxes to pay for the spending, regardless of who occupies the White House.

    With all the borrowing and printing of money and the debt created, there is no way out except to raise taxes and cut government spending, both highly unpopular actions.

    Former President Bush did not call for these unpopular actions. Neither has President Obama. Will Mitt Romney? Somehow, I doubt that he will if he is elected.

    Whether Romney is elected or Obama re-elected, we must insist that our President lead on the tough and painful actions that must be taken.

    If we insist, our President will lead and with our support for the President, Congress will be forced to follow.


  4. Congress and the office of the President are now bought and paid for by special interests. You and I can "insist" that the Congress and President "lead" on the "tough issues". At the same time, big money interests can "insist" on their own agenda. Big Money wins every time. An example of this would, of course, be the totally asinine SCOTUS decision on "Citizens United". Do you honestly think things will change?

  5. "Time to tell leaders what we 'must' do".

    That sounds good! The problem is that there is little evidence that we would all tell them the same thing. It's easy to blame elected officials for our problems. But, in doing so, we reject any responsibility that their actions or inactions are a reflection of our own divisions. Poll after poll shows the majority of us think the country is headed in the wrong direction. Despite that, there is little likelihood we could agree on what is the "right" direction.

  6. Mr. Casler et al:

    In 2 years despite the time and effort Gov Walker had to devote to the recall election perpetrated on them by Dems and unions, Walker reduced a $4 BILLION deficit and turned it into a surplus. Without raising taxes. In fact will lower. Why?

    It's economics. Keynesian economics, Obama's playbook, with Gov't spending and stimulus doesn't work. Obama's pulled every keynesian lever he can, several times. By all accounts the US GDP is lagging several percent behind the entire 3 years of Obama and still. 3 summers of recessions now going on 4.


  7. "Will Mitt Romney [take unpopular actions like cutting Gov't spending]? Somehow, I doubt that he will if he is elected." Casler

    Stick to what you know, not what you don't know.


  8. CarmineD,

    You will vote R and support Romney, as will I at this point. However, an honest look at R's in the past does not provide great confidence that they will be nearly as fiscally conservative as their words say. It's easy to say the words, but it takes real courage to act on them. I have seen very few R's that actually act on what they say in the fiscal area.

    We have one party that says they believe in big government and do act on their words. Those would be D's. We have another party that says they favor small government and don't act on their words. Those would be the R's.

    As a fiscal conservative, I really do want small government. I know I won't get it from the D's but the R's also have failed to move in that direction.

    I'm just being honest and I am sorry if that honesty bothers you.


  9. Bradley,

    I too, often would like to vote 'none of the above'. The real problem here is as Brian Greenspun (of all people) pointed out in an email he personally sent to me. He said that our elected leaders are afraid to take the bold and painful steps necessary because they are convinced if they do, the American people will turn on them and vote them out of office. Unfortunaely, I have to agree with him, even though our political views are quite different.

    My thesis is that until a majority of Americans see their standard of living slip to a point that is unacceptable to them, they very likely would not support someone who took bold action. We will get there but we are not there yet.

    That's why I argue against blindly and repeatedly supporting the same people over and over again. They've already proven they will not take bold action and know that has been a way to stay in office. We need to show office holders that bold action may be risky, but that 'playing it safe' is no longer a guarantee of longevity in office.

    I don't have much faith that Romney, if elected would take bold actions. However, I've watched President Obama fail to take many of the bold actions we have long needed for almost 4 years and now he wants another four. I don't think we can afford that. I wish there was another viable choice but there isn't.


  10. All these complex arguments between Progressives and Conservatives over the role of government and government policies would be alot easier to resolve if.....

    We just insisted that our elected representatives allocate enough taxes to pay for everything.

    I am very confident that if we just did that, many Conservatives that believe we must have our military all over the world and intervene in multiple trouble spots at all times would decide that the costs of doing that are too high.

    I am equally confident that Progressives that believe we must have government intervene in nearly every corner of everyones lives would decide that so much intervention, while maybe desirable, is simply not affordable.

    As long as we give our elected leaders a free pass to do whatever they wish and not tax enough to pay for it, problems that really are not that complex will remain intractible... as we speed toward the fiscal cliff.


  11. If you don't like the current crop of politicians try running for some type of elected position and get a taste of what these folks go through. I did years ago. The death threats alone make it all worth while.
    There are so many armed psychopaths in our fine nation I am surprised anyone has the nerve to try it.
    It is always easy to sit in your bedroom and criticize. Getting off your arses and doing something. That is another story!
    I was recently sent an e-mail through the Sun system threatening my life relative to the blogging I do. I just put out statistical data and don't even bother to throw insults. The Sun was great about it and barred the participant.
    I got death treats as a policeman, working on medical trusts, and now blogging. I would not be surprised if politicians on the national scene wear bullet proof under clothing 24 hours a day.

  12. Michael:

    Just remember that the filing deadlines for independent candidates are much earlier than for party candidates and require petitions signed by a percentage of registered voters in a district. You've missed this election cycle, but the next one ought to be ripe ....

  13. LastThrows,

    For the upteeth time, let me make my position clear. I was a registered R for many years and I voted that way, except when I voted for Ross Perot. I became so disenchanted with the R's, I am now registered NP. I did vote for Bush twice and he wasn't a very good President in many ways. His opponents were Al Gore (I invented the internet and ooops, maybe I was wrong about ethenol) and John Kerry (I voted aginst things before I voted for them). I wanted Sue Lowden to get the nomination but Angle got it and it was her or Reid (I enrich myself and my relatives and SS and Medicare are just fine). I will rest my case there and let everyone decide for themselves whether I am an idiot or not.

    I actually support ending the tax cuts for the wealthy even though many economists don't think that is a good idea in this economy either.

    We need to reduce the size of government, although not at the pace many on the R side would argue...not in this economy. We also need to re-write the tax code and make sure every American with an income pays income taxes and that businesses all pay their share of taxes.


  14. "I have seen very few R's that actually act on what they say in the fiscal area." Casler

    Scott Walker and Chris Christie are two governors taht come to mind off the top of my head. Both Reps. Did what they said. Both support Romney.


  15. "I'm just being honest and I am sorry if that honesty bothers you."


    I like honesty. Romney has not had an opportunity to prove himself and you judged him without having the facts and circumstances to do so. That's my contribution to you for honesty.


  16. Mr. casler:

    I believe there are 3 attributes for President: Integrity, Executive Leadership, and Experience.

    A candidate that has demonstrated these 3 characeristics is qualified to be President. So far, Obama and his team have not stated that Romney does not possess these attributes. In fact, just the opposite. They all agree that Romney does.


  17. Carmine,

    I like both Walker and Christie and also Kasich, but they are governors and not on the national level. Show me an R President who has been fiscally responsible? Not GW Bush!. Also when R's controlled Congress at times during the Bush administration, show me how they were fiscally responsible? You can't because they weren't.

    We have two parties and both have been fiscally irresponsible. That's just a fact that both R and D supporters need to admit.


  18. I have said here many times: The two rules of politics: First, get elected. Second, get reelected. Sad but true. We have a Presdient that told Matt Lauer on national TV in Feb 2009, that American voters should hold him accountable. AND if he didn't turn the economy around in 3 years he should be a one termer. BUT, now he asks for another term to redo Obamacare among other things.

    Why [question for any/all] should Americans not hold Obama to his word?


  19. Carmine,

    I never said Romney isn't qualified. My fear is that he, like Bush and Obama will not have what it takes to call for and push for the tough and unpopular actions that need to be taken. I hope he is elected and that he proves me wrong. I'd also be fine if Obama was re-elected and he called for pushed for those actions.

    Obama hasn't and that's just a fact. Romney hasn't had the chance and I hope he gets it.


  20. You're walking back what you said. You said republicans. I gave you 2. Now you want Presidents. We've only had 44 and not all were reps.

    In the 20th century: Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan. Hope also to add Romney.


  21. Carmine,

    They should hold him to his word and he should not be re-elected ... in my opinion. That opinion is not shared by about 50 % of all Americans.

    Many arguments can be made to support another term for Obama. He wasn't aware of the depth of the problem when he made that statement. If we hold politicians accountable for what they said, none would ever be re-elected. The European debt crises made everything much worse. Obama didn't know he'd lose control of the House in 2010 when he made that statement. Unforseen intervention in Libya, gas price spike, etc.

    Granted, it was a foolish statement to make but both R and D supporters always want to change the rules when 'their' guy is on the skewer.


  22. I named Walker and Christie because both have cut their States' spending, cut their governments' size, reduced their states' debt and deficits and did all 3 WITHOUT raising taxes. At least not yet.
    That's economics in addition to politics. What has Obama done? Increase debt, increase deficits, increase Fed Gov't size and spending, pour trillions upon trillions of government stimulus into the economy. What's the result? Bad economics produces bad economy.


  23. Mr. Casler:

    Your reasons for Americans to give Obama a pass and a secon term [He didn't know how bad things were and would become] are prima facie evidence that Obama did not have the 3 attributes to be qualified to be president.


  24. Carmine,

    I'd have to go back and look at TR and Eisenhower, but Reagan was not fiscally responsible. David Stockman, his budget director, quit because Reagan refused to do what was necessary to balance the budget and not create debt.

    I like Reagan and thought that on balance he was a good President, but we all need to be honest about these people and admit the bad along with the good.


  25. "That opinion is not shared by about 50 % of all Americans."

    YET. 5 months left to the election. Some Americans, like the Wisconsin Dems who didn't vote for Walker the first time but did the second, need more time to make up their minds.


  26. Carmine,

    I did not vote for Obama and didn't think he was qualified to be President. I still think the same thing. But's let's be honest here. The R's made many egregious mistakes in the eight years under Bush and opened the door for Obama. They also nominated a poor candidate in McCain who ran a poor campaign.

    If R's did not want Obama in the WH, they should have done a lot better job of running the show when they were in charge. The fact is they did a poor job.


  27. Brad I have to agree with you about federal agencies that should be eliminated. If I recall the EPA was created by presidential fiat and given the authority to write and enforce regulations.

    We have multiple and duplicative programs but instead of correcting the problem, we advocate raising taxes to pay for them.

    Mr. Casler as usual I must agree with you. Bush was a disaster but the disaster has just continued. In my opinion, Romney will do a better job that the current president. The extreme left leaning DOJ is a perfect example of some of the many things that have gone wrong with this administration.

  28. Mr. Casler is correct, those in Washington don't listen or hear us. They listen to the power brokers who just bought themselves a governor in Wisconsin. Two thirds of the money tossed at Scott Walker came from outside the state and he out spent the opposition eight to one. It's an omen as to what to expect in the future, Citizens United will be the ruination of civil rights and democracy.

    Those supporting the far right ideology shouldn't be surprised when the proverbial snake bites you in the arse.

    Keynesian economics came with the election of FDR and lasted until Ronald Reagan. Through out that time period the middle class was strong and economically supported the country. When our economy shifted to Friedman economic policies under Reagan, the decline of the middle and working classes began. Our economy shifted from manufacturing to banking and we entered a modern era guilded age. Citizens United is allowing millionaires and billionaires to out right buy politicians. Those supporting the far right agenda will find themselves in a bind when the economy tanks again, and it will because those at the top have no boundaries when it comes to their greed.

  29. Reagan was a communicator and compromiser. He had a Dem Congress: Tip O'Neill in the House, was an arch political enemy. Yet, 80 plus consecutive months of a dynamic recovery. The longest in US history. The start of the 80's we had stagfaltion, an economic phenomenon unknown in US history. Recession and inflation at 20 percent. He lead the economy forward with tax reform and a GDP at 8 percent thanks to a premier Fed Chief, Volcker, and economic adviser Laffer.


  30. Vernos,

    It's a nice theory, all neatly wrapped up with a bow on top. Unfortunately, it's not that simple.

    It is unknown how much influence the money had on the Scott Walker recall. Yes, he outspent his opponent but it is also apparent that many people thought that a recall was an inappropraite tool to use over a policy dispute. In addition, a good number of people agreed with the reforms.

    You rail about the influence of money on our elected officials and you are correct. But seemingly, you are fine with public employee unions that negotiate with our elected officials where both parties know that if large salaries and benefits are granted, the union will support the politicians at election time and see to it that they are re-elected.

    There is corruption in both places but you choose to ignore one and rail at the other. It ALL needs to be fixed.


  31. Carmine,

    I don't deny what you say but do you really think any of that either changes or excuses the 'fact' that a great deal of debt was created during the Reagan administration.

    I'll tell you one thing both R and D supporters have in common. It is like pulling teeth to get either side to admit that any mistakes were made by 'their' side.


  32. Michael said: "I'll tell you one thing both R and D supporters have in common. It is like pulling teeth to get either side to admit that any mistakes were made by 'their' side." Exactly! It seems that whatever is wrong in our country is the other parties fault. Everything!

    Vernos I saw the result in WI differently than you. I think the people are tired of the "thug" tactics of the liberals and the unions. The exit polls showed for quite a while that Barrett was ahead until the votes were counted. There are many pundits that think this is because the voters did not want any repercussions from placing their votes for Walker even though they supported Walker. Many of the voters said that the recall was mis-used and should not have been put into affect.

  33. jrtsr - "I think the people are tired of the "thug" tactics of the liberals and the unions."

    Using unions as cannon fodder is nonsense. Since Reagan, unions, as well as the working class, have declined. Unions make up less than 12% of the entire work force. We've entered a new guilded age and at this rate the middle class will vanish.

    How the middle class became the underclass


    "Incomes for 90% of Americans have been stuck in neutral, and it's not just because of the Great Recession. Middle-class incomes have been stagnant for at least a generation, while the wealthiest tier has surged ahead at lighting speed."

    "In 1988, the income of an average American taxpayer was $33,400, adjusted for inflation. Fast forward 20 years, and not much had changed: The average income was still just $33,000 in 2008, according to IRS data."

    "Meanwhile, the richest 1% of Americans -- those making $380,000 or more -- have seen their incomes grow 33% over the last 20 years, leaving average Americans in the dust."

  34. Setting priorities for rebuilding an economy: 1. essential constitutionally required things such as defense of our physical nation. 2. End assistance to other nations--if Europe doesn't want defense enough to pay for it...., If a third-world nation cannot generate the GDP, they are not ready to spend our GDP. 3. Gradually, but with obvious action, remove federal funding, involvement and mandates to States and cities. Any and all social welfare programs will be left to local governments--where the people know what is needed and how to deal with fraud. 4. Insist that State and other local governments start providing VALUE for our tax dollars. Cut compensation to reasonable / local levels and that includes all the perks such as retirement plans that are often 4-5 times what we get on SS. 5. Get our interest rates up to "normal". Our economy cannot recover when savers and investors have no incentive. From modest households to wealthy: it is now much more prudent to pay off bills than to buy anything. 6. And perhaps this should be number 1: Stop falling for the SOP of pitting us against each other. The TEA party is not all bad. The Dems are not all bad.... There is no need to call anyone vulgar names: might be beneficial to figure out why someone sees things so differently than you do--so you can explain it to him. 7. We don't live in THAT world. We live in this one. There are many things to aspire to, things that would be nice. World peace.... But until we get there, let's not pay for it now. Let's pay for our own priorities--nationally and individually. I pick my charities. You pick yours. Allow me to keep enough of my income (the part that isn't taken in taxes) to support my family and be financially secure in retirement. 8. Whether of not you can do the math: Recognize that the top 1%-10% cannot pay for everything. We could confiscate their entire net worth and make only a small dent in the continuing deficit. The middle class and lower HAVE to chip in for ESSENTIAL federal programs and we all need to STOP TAKING government services.

  35. Michael: Where were you when the lights went on? Perhaps another Letter to the Editor and tell us all? Was it something my sister said?

  36. The pain won't be as bad if we start now. If we wait, the pain will be sharper. We can't wait for the best President or whatever YOU think is a good way to go. We need to start the process. Many steps of every stride in the right directionS. We can't afford all the social welfare for our kids, we should spend it on other nations? To protect the nation from enemies, foreign and domestic. Define "treason". (For the "PC", if you haven't figured it out, I'm intentionally bouncing it around.)

  37. Jeff: Not sure what your team is into. You could always email me. As you know, I'm not PC. And learned from an old Engineer how to keep telling them and ignore what they are saying... I'm old enough that I can't retain which politician did or said what. Let's not focus solely on how we got into this mess. Let's focus on how we move on to something worthwhile. But then, I give a measure of admiration to those of you who can get into all those details--although I can't be bothered to read the endless blatherers who bring circular "logic" to an art form.

  38. Romney's plans are to cut up and cripple several existing Depts, like Housing & Urban Development, Education, etc.

    As promised, he also plans to give even more tax breaks to the super wealthy, increase spending on Defense, black (super secret) security and intelligence programs while standing up to the Russians and Chinese. Welcome the Cold War, welcome debt, good bye education.

    Several hundred of the wealthiest people plus offshore cash will be anonymously filling his campaign Treasury as they will have special access after the election and make a tremendous profit on increase loopholes and tax shelters.

    Get ready for military confrontations and endless war dead in Afghanistan.

  39. "Carmine,

    I don't deny what you say but do you really think any of that either changes or excuses the 'fact' that a great deal of debt was created during the Reagan administration." Casler

    I've said this before. It's not the amount of debt that is at issue. It's the ratio of the debt to GDP that matters. The Reagan years averaged GDP of 8 percent per year. Debt was not problematic with that as an average rate of economic growth.


  40. BTW, some of my students have been adults and their children too.

    I was a volunteer financial counselor for Prince William County in Virginia for several years assisting adults getting out of debt and arranging repayment plans with their creditors. The program was sponsored by a College in the county. I received no pay and no reimbursment for out-of-pocket expenses.

    Many of the adults were professionals and both husband and wife worked.


  41. Sorry for the above, wrong thread.


  42. All was decided at the last Bilderberg meeting. Didn't you get the memo?

  43. Anyone here who thinks Willard Howell-Romney will be the next President of the United States...

    It will not be close, and if you are currently 'thinking' that he has a shot, you are not being honest with yourself.

  44. Teamster:

    One of the best features of our government is checks and balances. I was happy to see the Dem state senators too just like you. As usual, the American voters, Wisconsin in this case, prove that we should never underestimate their intelligence.


  45. gmag: Could you work on your vocabulary just a bit? Your point would be taken, or at least read, by many more if you could express yourself in a less offensive manner.

  46. Teamster: It's not exactly about the election or who will be president. It is about who WILL DO SOMETHING APPROPRIATE. Our economy has told us, and is again clearing its throat to tell us again, you can't keep doing what you're doing. Ever hear there's no such thing as a free lunch? You "pay the piper" sooner or later. Fed Reserve thinks seniors and savers, via no interest rate, will pay for deficit spending. Maybe in the short run. But let's connect some dots here: the best Fed policy can do is stalemate the forces that keep telling us to DO SOMETHING ELSE. Pay your debts. Don't spend on what you cannot afford. Stop pretending we're leading the planet by bankrupting ourselves. Stop interfering with other nations' sovereign rights to function without U.S. mandated "democracy". Stop squandering our hard-earned dollar, here and abroad.

  47. Vernos,

    The facts are that unions in the private sector have declined but public sector unions have increased.

    I have nothing against unions in the private sector. I have plenty against them in the public sector and here is why:

    Most public sector unions negotiate for their members salary and benefits with elected officials who want and need to be re-elected to keep their positions. Both parties (unions and elected officials) know that unions will support elected officials that approve high salaries and benefits. It's a rigged system.

    My wife, in the late 1960's left a government job to go into the private sector BECAUSE salaries and benefits offered were BETTER in the private sector. That's the way it used to be and should be again.

    It can't be that way when unions negotiate with people inclined to grant them what they want in an effort to gain their support at election time. Private sector unions negotiate with management that WANTS to keep salaries and benefits down. That's an adversarial negotiation and he way it should be. That's not what exists in public sector union negotiations. That's why we have governments going broke, services being cut and in place after place, government employees making ALOT more in salary and benefits than similar private sector workers.

    That's just wrong Vernos and it's unsustainable and Americans (now that their services are finally being cut) are beginning to see the light.


  48. Carmine,

    Cheney was wrong when he said the debt doesn't matter. Just like an individual family that is doing well, if they always live beyond their means (as our government does) the day will come when their income takes a dip (like a recession) and when that day comes, the accumulated debt DOES matter.

    That's common sense Carmine, something we have in short supply in Washington DC.


  49. Mr. Casler:

    I've excerpted a short piece from a supporter of Cheney's statement. You can read and resolve to do with it as you please.

    "Debt and Productivity

    The US federal debt that is setting off alarm bells today is about 60% of GDP, but it has been much higher than that. It was 120% of GDP during World War II, which turned out to be our most productive period ever. The US built the machinery and infrastructure that set the nation up to lead the world in productivity for the next half century. We, the children and grandchildren of that era, were not saddled with a crippling debt but lived quite well for the next half century. The debt-to-GDP ratio got much lower after the war, not because people sacrificed to pay back the debt, but because the country got so productive that GDP rose to meet it."


  50. BTW, the date of the above is April 2011. The debt to GDP has actually risen in the mean time to 100 percent. That is the breaking point at which the European countries starting rioting in the streets when the gov't's took measures to cull gov't spending. When the gov't's cave to the peoples' demands and kept the status quo, they ultimately go belly up. Like some of the cities and States in the USA are on the verge of doing.


  51. Carmine,

    I know and understand the entire statement. Cheney and many others on the Conservative side believe we can produce our way out of the current debt. The Progressives want to tax the rich as a way out of the debt.

    I believe what we need to do is re-write the income tax code, reduce government spending, make sure everyone with an income pays income taxes and if required to reduce the deficit, raise taxes.

    WWII and after was a certain time in history and Cheney is correct to point out that during that time, we produced our way out of the debt. This is a different time in a global economy and I am not convince that the same formula of basically ignoring the debt is going to be effective this time.


  52. Mr. Casler:

    I agree with everything you just posted above. If you were running for political office on this platform, I would vote for you and encourage others to do the same.

    Now if we get it and agree, let's hope that others do too. 5 months left. There is still time for the others to see the big picture and the scheme of things exactly the way you presented it.