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Richard Larsen: Sequestration 101 – the Sky is NOT Falling

March 9th, 2013 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Listening to our top politician in Washington this week was reminiscent of Chicken Little’s apocalyptic warning, “The sky is falling.” In daily appearances the loss of 2.5% of the federal budget has been lamented, implying catastrophic consequences. “It’s not apocalyptic,” he said, but the implication clearly made that it’s close to it. “It’s just dumb. And it’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt individual people and it’s going to hurt the economy over all,” he said.

The president elaborated, “Emergency responders like the ones who are here today — their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded. Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go. Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country.

Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.”

As if to not be outdone, California Representative Maxine Waters cried, “We don’t need to be having something like sequestration that’s going to cause these jobs losses, over 170 million jobs that could be lost.” Apparently she’s unaware that our entire civilian labor force is only 144 million jobs in America! But the hyperbole seems to work, at least for the president, as he continues to blame congress for a plan that the White House concocted.

The hyperbole is, however, a far cry from reality. The sequester, which is now in effect, is actually the budget authority figure, not a budget outlay. There’s an important difference. A budget authority provides through an appropriations bill, the authority to spend a certain number of dollars. A budget outlay is an actual payment made for government obligations. The Congressional Budget Office in their January update scored the $85 billion in sequestration “cuts” as an actual $44 billion outlay. Rather than representing a “cut” of 2.2% of the federal budget, it’s a reduction of about 1.25% of a $3.6 trillion budget. And to make matters worse, it’s not really a cut, as a reduction in spending, but just a cut in the rate of growth of federal spending. The remaining $41 billion is in future budget outlays, unless congress or the president tinker with the reduction further.
We have to remember, Washington doesn’t use zero-based budgeting, they use baseline budgeting. The baseline is an inclined trend-line of spending increases each year. Washington uses the current spending levels as the “baseline” for establishing future funding requirements. They then assume that future budgets will equal the current budget times the inflation rate times the population growth rate. So rather than “cutting” spending by $44 billion, the rate of growth for future spending is reduced by $44 billion the first year. And given Washington’s creative accounting techniques, the rate of spending will likely accelerate after the first year of sequestration cuts, in spite of the agreement hammered out with the Budget Control Act of 2011 where the White House created the sequestration idea.

And all of those threats that the president made earlier about who wouldn’t get paid, and what services would not be provided, are just that: empty threats. That is unless he decides that those are the areas to be cut, rather than Moroccan pottery classes, an empty airport at Lake Murray State Park in Oklahoma, a robot squirrel funded through the National Science Foundation, or the Alabama Watermelon Queen Tour. Yes, those are actual federally funded projects. It’s clear what his priorities are, to punish those programs and people most deserving of funding in order to portray the “draconian” 1.2% cut in the growth of spending as nigh unto apocalyptic. After all, money is power, and the more the threat of deprived spending can be spun to hurt the deserving and needy, the more power one has.

The sequester will be evenly divided between military and discretionary spending. The military will be adversely affected by reduction or elimination of defense programs.

Financial markets and the financial gurus on Wall Street obviously were not unnerved by the prospect of a 1.2% cut in the growth of spending, as financial markets closed higher for the week. Weighing more heavily on the minds of market analysts is the looming threats to economic growth of such massive government debt.

The rest of the outlay reduction of $1.2 trillion triggered by the sequestration will be applied over the next ten years. But even with that reduction, the federal debt is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to be a staggering $26 trillion. Erskine Bowles, co-chair of the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission has calculated that service on the interest for that debt alone, if rates stay near record lows, will be $1 trillion by 2020!

The sequester is actually beneficial since it will slightly slow the growth of the deficit and our national debt. But even the modified baseline must drop sharply to avoid a collapse of the economy under the weight of our national debt.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics, Taxes | No Comments »

David Ripley: Voice of a Patriot

March 6th, 2013 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The following guest opinion by Rep. Lenore Barrett appeared in the Idaho Statesman on Tuesday:

Where would we be today if David had looked up at Goliath and said, “Whoa! I ain’t takin’ on this dude!”

Well, David showed up at the American Revolution, and the rest is history. It only took 236 years, but we finally forgot the roots that gave us wings. The power of the “Crown” still dwells amongst us. Only the names have changed. God is being mocked, and sacred honor goes to the highest bidder.

Sovereign states have become tiny fish in a big federal puddle and can’t see the hook obscured by the fat, federal worm. Why, if your car stalls on the track in front of an oncoming train, would you not get out? America is a country in decline; and, since misery loves company, the federal government wants state government to join it on the way down!

So, what is happening at the Idaho Statehouse? Depends on who you ask!S1042 (Idaho Healthcare Exchange) sailed through the Senate and is docked in the House Health and Welfare Committee, where it will get a new shade of lipstick on the same old money-sucking mouth.

House freshmen want to sugar coat (amend) it and make it more palatable, or they won’t support it; however, if you sugar coat a cyanide pill, you’ll still be dead. Make no mistake, this is a sovereignty issue. Idaho passed a Health Care Freedom Act, joined in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare, and the Idaho Republican Party, by resolution, has repudiated the state exchange, as has the Idaho Farm Bureau and a majority of right-thinking Idaho voters; but, the “Crown” moves amongst us and extols the delight of savoring that fat, juicy worm obscuring the deadly hook.

Over half the states in the Union have rejected state/federal exchanges. They understand that the state will be nothing more than a federal flunky, with or without amendments to the contrary. If the House passes S1042, it will enable the federal government to move forward with Obamacare. So much for State Sovereignty!

The Heritage Foundation suggests that if the feds are stuck with it, they will fail and the whole exercise will implode. No more Obamacare! Only if the state pays the bills, enforces the regulations/rules and submits to the IRS, can the feds succeed; but, the feds can’t succeed with this unconstitutional activity unless the Idaho Legislature acquiesces. There ARE other options, but we must first rid ourselves of this federal healthcare albatross around our neck.

If anyone gets to read this, S1042 may well be fait accompli. So, save it for “I told you so!”

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics, Taxes | No Comments »

David Ripley: Special Interests Pressure Idaho GOP

March 5th, 2013 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The Washington Examiner is carrying a column which explores the dynamics at play inside the Statehouse.

It is particularly illuminating given that the Insurance/Medical industries have unveiled their “new and improved” Obama Exchange bill in the House today. The final push is on and Idaho citizens have precious little time to protect themselves from the mandates, restrictions and taxes of ObamaCare.

Read the story, Health Industry Pushes GOP States Toward ObamaCare, and pass it along to your friends.

Pay particular attention to the paragraph dealing with the CATO Institute analysis which debunks claims by insurance lobbyists that Idaho will “gain a seat at the table”.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Presidential Politics, Taxes | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, March 4

March 4th, 2013 by Halli

by Representative Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

During the week I caught two Capitol press corps reporters standing on the sidewalk east of the Capitol comparing notes and writing like crazy in their little notebooks. I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to stop and visit with them. I told them that they reminded me of what a former State Senator, Dane Watkins, had said about these types of situations. “All we know is what we tell each other,” was how he put it.

For those of you who have followed the Legislature over a period of time, you would probably say that this is about the time of the session when things start to get a little interesting. Currently we are between the stages where the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee is setting budgets and when we start to see them for action on the floor of the House. So far, all we have seen are the corrections to the current year’s budget that we set last year. This is a normal activity around here because we find adjustments are needed because things have changed since the budget was set.

Second Amendment legislation is progressing in the House. Two of the measures passed the House this past week, one of which was the bill that provides for an enhanced concealed carry permit. It would make our permits recognized in several other states that don’t currently do so. Those who hold existing permits will continue on as they now are. Two other Second Amendment bills cleared the State Affairs Committee and were sent to the full House. One of those bills generated public comment of a very emotional nature. One person who testified crossed over the line and it was necessary that I use the gavel to reinforce our efforts to deal with these emotional issues in a civil manner. I for one am grateful that these are very rare occasions.

There has been some discussion about federal sequestration and its effect on Idaho, but no changes have been made in our current budget to reflect anything that is happening along those lines, at least not yet. The number crunchers are working behind the scenes to determine if and by how much corrections in our budgets need to be made.

There is still much talk around these halls about the personal property tax issue, but as of this writing there has still been no legislation proposed to deal with the issue. I was reading one of the newspapers over the weekend and one of the comments there was that local government entities and all other taxing districts have been very effective in having their points of view heard. It’s my best guess at this point, that the proposal has lost some of its traction.

Health exchange legislation has still not be been heard in the House Health and Welfare Committee. The lobbying effort has been extraordinary but an even bigger effort has been made by our constituents at home. There is no doubt about how our folks feel about it, they are about 90% opposed. To say that we live in interesting times is definitely an understatement.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, National Sovereignty, Politics in General, Presidential Politics, Rep. Tom Loertscher, Taxes | No Comments »

David Ripley: Obama’s Been Good to Blue Cross

March 4th, 2013 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The Idaho Statesman reported over the weekend that Blue Cross is now sitting atop some $500 million in cash reserves. That is nearly double the amount of money it had on hand when Barack Obama was first elected in 2008.

Blue Cross officials said they were building the cash to deal with the various costs of ObamaCare.

But the simple truth is they are making record amounts of money. In most business circumstances, one would call this pile of money what it is: profit.

But in this case, given the special privileges and market power that Blue Cross enjoys, company officials prefer to call this pile of money a “savings” account.

These profits come, of course, from the excess of premiums charged business owners, government and families. Those premiums have been increasing rapidly under the cover of ObamaCare. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Blue Cross has been taking advantage of the mass confusion over ObamaCare to do a little pillaging of Idaho households.

That pillaging appears headed toward even greater levels given the fact that the Idaho Legislature is poised to impose ObamaCare upon the people of Idaho.

One would hope that state representatives would take a deep breath and look at these staggering profits before going even deeper into protecting Blue Cross with an insurance exchange. And, regardless of anything else you’ve heard – the heart of the exchange debate going on at the Statehouse is protecting Blue Cross’ dominant market share.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Presidential Politics, Taxes | No Comments »

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