Tag Archives: Budget

Episode 120 – Budget Charade, Health Care Fixes and Presidential Politics

Jeff starts the show by talking about Donald Trump and the “birther” issue. He then explains why the recent “budget” passed by Congress was a total charade, and why they should not be fighting about the debt limit, but should actually be fighting about the budget going forward. Jeff then talks about the Senate race nobody is talking about — Virginia — and from there goes into a discussion on the Presidential campaign and why Mitt Romney is in trouble before he starts. At the 10:00 mark, Jeff welcomes Ty from Monroe, Georgia, a long-time listener and a voice of most people in America — neither Republican or Democrat, but concerned about matters of politics and policy. The thoughtful discussion ranges from the talk about the budget and the debt ceiling to fixing the health care law and handicapping the Presidential race. Ty encourages us to repeal the health care law and engage in a genuine process to fix the system. Jeff and Ty, coming form different political perspectives, come to agreement on how to deal with social security. They close the show by talking about the Presidential campaign, why Romney is in trouble and why we should be keeping an eye on Herman Cain. Always engaging and informative, it’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast.

Best Friends. Vast Experience. Engaging political discussion without the fighting…and with a few laughs. It’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast.

You can get the PoliTalk Podcast on iTunes and Zune

Of you can play right the show here by clicking on the play button below:


Episode 118 – Romney Care, Budget Votes and Entitlement Reform

In this episode, Jeff and Glenn get into an interesting discussion about Glenn’s experiences with Mitt Romney’s health care plan in Massachusetts. They discuss various aspects of the health care situation in Mass, and then how it can impact Romney’s bid for the Presidency, and his criticism of ObamaCare. They then get into an interesting discussion of Michele Bachmann’s run for the White House, and how it doesn’t matter how many mistakes she makes on the way as long as she continues to stick her thumb in the nose of the establishment, because that’s what her constituents want (as much as it makes Jeff sick). Keeping the theme of getting sick, your stomach will turn when Jeff explains what’s really going on with the budget, CR and debt ceiling votes, and they close the show with an interesting talk about how we can achieve meaningful entitlement reform.

Best Friends. Vast Experience. Engaging political discussion without the fighting…and with a few laughs. It’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast.

You can get the PoliTalk Podcast on iTunes and Zune

Of you can play right the show here by clicking on the play button below:


Episode 115 – GOP Presidential Politics, Unions and Budget Shell Games

Jeff and Glenn make no friends this week in taking on everything and everyone. They first explain why the GOP field is thin and hurting its chances of victory in 2012 through an apparent lack of organizing, fundraising and hiring. With Sen. Thune out, Huckabee likely not running, Daniels slow to start and Palin in her own orbit, where is this field headed? They also take on Republicans in Congress for the imposter that is posing as a budget cutting bill, explaining that there is indeed no budget for this fiscal year. They chide the Republicans in the House for passing this bill, knowing that it would never become law, and take on all Members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans — for not working together to pass a budget and fund the government in a coherent and responsible manner. How would they like it if their livelihood was funded on the basis of a series of continuing resolutions? It’s no way to run a business, or a government. They also explain why raising the retirement age and means testing Social Security needs to be discussed if we ever want to bring our fiscal house in order. In a surprising move, Jeff — the show’s stalwart Progressive – takes on public employee unions, specifically teacher’s unions – over the policy of tenure, and notes that FDR himself was opposed to public employee unions as standing in the way of the prudent operation of government. They understand why tenure was created, but forcefully argue why it is an outdated model now, especially in a struggling economy. A strong union backer, Jeff also chides Gov. Walker for elevating this issue to the point where there can be no reasonable discussion or conclusion that moves policy forward.

Best Friends. Vast Experience. Engaging political discussion without the fighting…and with a few laughs. It’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast.

You can get the PoliTalk Podcast on iTunes and Zune

Of you can play right the show here by clicking on the play button below:


Episode 112 – State of the Union: What’s Next? Politics, Budget and Bachman

Now that we’re on the other side of the State of the Union, what’s really going to happen, and what will the Republicans and Democrats do next? What are President Obama’s next steps? Did Rep. Paul Ryan offer an appropriate response? Why did Rep. Michelle Bachman offer a speech on the same night as Paul Ryan, and what did the Republican Leadership think about it? What message did she deliver? Was it obscured by her wildly inaccurate and off-base comments about the Founding Father’s ending slavery? Is it okay for a United States Congressperson to be so misinformed when it comes to matters of US History and the constitution? Now that the speeches are over, what will happen with the budget negotiations and the debt ceiling? Oh, and by the way, the US Senate Filibuster Reforms? They went away quietly in the middle of the night just after the State of the Union. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Best Friends. Vast Experience. Engaging political discussion without the fighting…and with a few laughs. It’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast.

You can get the PoliTalk Podcast on  iTunes and Zune

Of you can play right the show here by clicking on the play button below:


America on the Precipice of Government Shutdown and Nobody Cares

Last night in the darkness, the Senate and the House overwhelmingly approved a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government for a couple more days.  Until Tuesday to be exact.

Why did they do this?  Because if they had not, our federal government would have shut down at midnight tonight.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that. Because it’s not the lead on any news network or website.  I had to google it after looking for the past 2 days for a legitimate headline talking about the fact that Congress has had an entire year to pass a budget and still has not done so.

Hard core conservatives are railing against this new Omnibus Bill.  $1.1 Trillion, and over 6000 earmarked projects to boost the election prospects of the tired old souls who managed to stay in office through November’s carnage.

This continuing resolution for 3 days is a bad Omen from my perspective for several reasons.

  1. Validation of total incompetence
  2. It means that the Republicans who were saying “no way in he$$” to this bill 24 hours ago, might see a way to pass it.
  3. By not killing it, the conservatives are already beginning to sell out after cashing in on a Nov victory.
  4. By trying to get this done, it means the White House is completely ignoring the message they were sent this last election cycle.

What we can look forward to?  More compromise.  The type of compromise that gives Republicans and Democrats what they each want, and leaves us holding the bag and the bill for more rampant spending.

Tuesday is a world away in political terms, it’s going to be an interesting 72 hours.

Guest Blogger Jeff

The Sound of an Empire Falling

If $64 Trillion dollars fell from a tree in the woods, and there was nobody there to spend it, would it be a debit or a credit?

There is a lot of talk these days about the national debt.  Typically the number is said to be anywhere between $10-12 Trillion.  Unfortunately, according to the Peter G. Petersen foundation, an organization chaired by the former Comptroller General of the US, David Walker, the number is closer to $64 Trillion of total, un-funded obligations that the US is required by law to pay.

Americans need to understand that this is our fault.  Not some imaginary “them”, or greedy wall-street bankers, or the Chinese, or fat cat union members with bloated pensions.  It is our fault.  A collective condition we have brought on ourselves through our everyday greed, complacency, and lack of responsibility when it comes to being citizens in a democratic society.

It starts in small ways.  At Starbucks.  Do the math.  Coffee as an experience?  Are we really paying so little attention, that we go to Starbucks everyday but complain about the cost of our healthcare co-pay?

It manifests itself in big ways as well.  Every single dollar spent by the federal government today, and everyday for the foreseeable future (and by foreseeable future I mean like the next 100 years) is borrowed.  The tax dollars you paid in April are paying for promises and programs from decades ago.  The dollars we are actually spending today, are being borrowed, and will have to be paid back decades from now by our grandchildren, with lots of interest.

Today, when our parents or grandparents leave this earth, they often pass on the family home and sentimental possessions.  The watch your Dad wore his entire life or the broach your Mom got when she was married.  If we are very fortunate, maybe insurance money or a nest egg earmarked for the grandchildren.  But never do they pass on their debt.  Imagine your parents passing away, and getting a bill equal to at least all the money you make in an entire year.  And imagine having no choice but to pay that bill today, and going into debt to pay those creditors. Think about that money leaving your checking account – today! Then go borrow money to cover your bills.

This is exactly what we are doing to our next generation.  I am of Generation X.  It is said that we have had no defining moment in our experience.  No WWII, no Vietnam, no civil rights movement.  I can now respectfully disagree.  To the other Gen X’ers out there; this is ours.  This is our generational challenge.  Our country is going bankrupt, and we are going to have to deal with it.

These are things we don’t want to hear.  For saying them, I probably disqualify myself for any public office.  We are going to have to cut spending in massive ways.  We are going to have to raise taxes in massive ways.  These are the only two things we can do.  There are no options left, and we have to do both.  The truth is dangerous and it’s bad for elections.  But it’s still the truth.

As if that were not bad enough, here’s the real problem.  Our current political system is broken, and is not capable of taking action.  The same human nature that leads bankers to take excessive risks, and leads teachers unions to bankrupt states in the name of public service, leads our Senators and Congressmen to tell us what we want to hear, in order to stay in power.

It’s time to use a mechanism that exists, but is rarely used.  That is the peoples right to amend the Constitution.  We must amend the Constitution to do two things.  First, term limit Congress so their role is as temporary stewards of government, not career politicians.  Second, we must make it constitutionally mandatory to balance the budget.

I propose the following four part constitutional amendment.

  1. The term of an elected member of the House of Representatives shall be extended from 2 years to 3, and an individual can be elected to the House of Representatives for no more than 3 terms.
  2. An individual may be elected to the Senate for no more than (2) 6-year terms.
  3. An individual may not serve in the Congress, either as a Senator, or Member of the House, for more than 12 years total, whether by election, or by serving out the term of someone else.
  4. The Congress is required to submit a balanced budget each year.  Only by executive order during time of war or national emergency, may the President excuse the Congress of this obligation.

These simple amendments to the US Constitution will enable politicians to act in the nations best interest regardless of the electoral consequences, free them from constant campaigning and fundraising, and delegate the President the sole responsibility and accountability for managing the deficit.

I’m not a lawyer or a political pro.  There are probably better ways to word these amendments, but keeping it simple is the key.  Don’t let politicians get so attached to their job that they are scared to tell us the truth.  And don’t let government spend more than it takes in.

Now back to the title of this post.  “The Sound of an Empire Falling”.  Do we not hear the tree falling or do we not care?  Do we not believe the roots are weakening, or do we not understand? Unlike Greece, there will be nobody big enough to bail us out when this great oak falls.

We got ourselves into this mess, and we need to get ourselves out. It’s really kind of simple.

What do you think?

Guest Blogger – Jeff Hine


On the Eve of April 15th, In Defense of Taxes

Keeping with my nature, I am going to take a stand that I know is universally abhorred, but I am comfortable in the resolve of my opinion. It is a political no-brainer, and just plain easy, to rant against taxes. People are easily mobilized by their hatred of taxes, and drawn to any conversation on conservative AM stations on the subject.  Glenn Beck has even called some taxes “racist.” Most people make a good living laying into the tax man. I’m not one of those people.

My grandfather was a dairy and potato farmer in Maine, a descendent of the pilgrims who crossed the Atlantic to settle into a new land. My grandmother was the daughter of Polish immigrants, who came here in the early 1900s to find a better life. Neither was wealthy. Each had to struggle against enormous odds to make it through the Great Depression. But from each I learned the nobility, the honor, the obligation, to reach beyond ourselves in support of others — friends, town folk, the “community,” fellow countrymen.  I am blessed to lead the life I live, but have seen so much taken away so quickly — families wiped out financially by chronic illness, once promising careers lost to economic forces. We are no different than any other family, and that’s my point. There but for the Grace of God go each of us.

The tax system is dysfunctional, outdated, and in dire need of reform. Too many pay a disproportionate share of their income in taxes, and many others, through the use of loopholes, tax shelters or schemes, have the means to pay their share, but pay significantly less. That’s not fair. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the average family gives 9% of its earnings to the government in taxes. Former Republican Congressman Dick Armey conceded that “the federal tax rate right now is at a good level.” A good level for the very wealthy. Do you realize that over the last 50 years taxes have dropped most significantly for the top 1% of earners?

We just did a show on an alternative tax method — the Fair Tax (see Episode 75 to right). While they can’t register me on a list of supporters, I love the principles of simplicity and transparency.  I’m not sure I can find anyone that can explain the current tax system to me now in a simple way, other than to say: unfair, burdensome.  I would like to see a system whereby Americans are encouraged to make money, live the American dream, but share fairly and more equally in meeting our financial obligations.

The place where those taxes go, that’s another story. Congress wastes a lot of money, funding pork projects and earmarks, creating or sustaining programs for which funding is lacking, and for which we deficit spend to meet our needs. I get all that, and I, like many others, would gladly take a meat cleaver to the Country’s budget. We have a responsibility to live within our means while also meeting our obligations. But I stand solidly in the corner that we have obligations to each other, and this is an ethic not only shared by my grandparents, but by the colonists who settled our country. One of the first acts in coming to the new country was to establish a tax in support of the destitute, a tradition carried over from England were “poor laws” were in existence since 1601.

But too many vilify the system and its participants — those who work in government — and spew hatred that leaves us on the brink of violence (which has sadly manifested itself at times, like in Oklahoma City or more recently in Texas). So I write today to stand in defense of the defenseless. Many people I know speak in terms of “us and them,” of those in Washington taking our money away, of what we don’t have, what’s being taken from us. The anger is legitimate, but so is the sacrifice of those who work on our behalf. Some, like Sarah how’s-that-rhetorical-gun-metaphor-writing-notes-on-your-hand-thingy-going Palin, speak of tax revolts, tea parties, and taking over the system. I watched in horror recently as a man with Parkinson’s Disease lay on the ground while someone from an anti-tax society ridiculed him, angrily tossing dollar bills on him, satirically saying “here’s your government handout.” My grandparents wouldn’t recognize that kind of person. I fear my generation is filled with too many of them, and will be remembered more for its selfishness and greed than its contributions to humanity.

When my grandfather was alive, I was told he’d take his surplus food and give it to his neighbors, without being asked, but knowing they needed help. My grandmother used to tell me that she was proud to pay her tax bill, because it confirmed her status as an American citizen, something that she was so proud to be. There isn’t a day when we aren’t all the beneficiaries of government programs — programs that are so much a part of the fabric of our lives that we don’t even recognize them — our military and intelligence services keeping the country safe; police and fire fighters, teachers, postal workers.  It’s easy to vilify taxes, but I urge you instead of reacting instinctively this April 15, to recognize that you are in some way doing a greater good, and you should feel a measure of pride in helping your fellow man. I, for one, appreciate your support.

— Jeff Kimball