Tag Archives: deficit

Bring Back the Bad Old Days

Bipartisan Congressional leadership meetingOh, how I long for the time when politicians lied to get elected. When a Democrat could run as a hawk and govern as a dove. When a Republican would run as a conservative and it meant they were cautious to change and represented traditional values, not the values of a mob. Oh, for the days when we knew the contract with America was not worth the paper it was printed on.

When getting things done was the goal of both parties and compromise was seen as a victory for each. Incrementalism was the result. Respect was the rule, not the exception. Peace was a goal. Being patriotic included doing what was best for all Americans. Believing in Democracy included supporting majority rule. Laws were meant to protect people. Justice was non-partisan. Giving a leg up to someone less fortunate was an ideal. Educating our young and taking care of the aged were bi-partisan platforms. Delivering jobs in your district was a good thing, because it meant jobs. A time when campaign promises were quickly forgotten to be replaced with the reality of American life. And flip-flops were what you wore on the beach.

Oh, how I long for the time before entertainment news. Before celebrity politicians, pundits and talking points. When extremists didn’t get air time. When politics was dull and before it became a made for TV sport with avid fans* on both sides.

It was Dick Cheney, who said in 2002, “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.” It was also Reagan, who proved that raising the debt limit doesn’t  matter – he raised it 17 times in his eight year mythological reign. Bush, Jr. raised it seven times. But now, Obama is President, so it does matter.

It matters, because to win as a Republican, you must, no matter what:

  1. Keep a promise to Grover Norquist never to vote for any additional government revenues, including, but not limited to taxes, fees or ending subsidies;
  2. Keep a promise to the Tea Party to reduce the size of government** and the reach of government regulation;
  3. And keep a promise to Republicans everywhere to defeat President Obama.

Passing a debt limit extension, which has been done 74 times since the law that required it was passed in 1962, may violate promise number three: to defeat President Obama, no matter what.

President Obama did not cause this problem. In fact, he has done more than any President in two generations to help the Republicans keep their promises. Federal, state and local taxes are the lowest per capita since 1955 – well below the high water days of Nixon and Reagan. It is a fact that President Obama has presided over cutting taxes more than any President in history.

But Obama’s help to the Republicans doesn’t stop there. He has secured the Republican promise to reduce the size of government – the number of government workers has gone down by 500,000 since Obama took office.

What more must he do? For the answer, just look back to April when the House Republicans voted to privatize Medicare and increase the costs to seniors an average of $6,000 a year (not a tax). The House Republicans also voted to turn Medicaid, the medical safety net for the poor and disabled, into a voucher system so the states could make Medicaid meaningless (not a tax). Immediately after their votes, House Republicans poll numbers fell off a cliff. They have only one chance to save themselves: force Democrats into drinking the poison tea, too.

Now, we are being held hostage to a crisis totally of Republican promise making – a demand that any agreement to raise the debt limit be matched by permanent spending cuts and include entitlements (not a tax). At least two trillion in additional debt is needed to fund authorized spending through the next election.

Obama, true to his campaign promises saw this as an opportunity to enroll the Republicans to do something meaningful. Why not take the advice of Simpson-Bowles? Cut four to six trillion of the debt by a fair combination of revenue increases and cuts to discretionary and entitlement spending. Nasty compromises required for both parties for the good of the nation to secure our future. No new taxes would be included – just plugging of corporate loopholes, ending of subsidies for corporations who don’t need them, and allowing the Bush tax cuts to finally expire. To protect the fragile economy, neither the revenue enhancement, nor the spending cuts would be immediate. Nor would the entitlement changes privatize Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid — more likely, a means test, and some reimbursement and cost of living changes.

Too bad for all of us. To keep their campaign promises, Republicans won’t do the big deal and may not do any deal. Republicans were gamed last spring by Obama in the continuing resolution deal. The $30-40 billion in cuts turned out to be only a few hundred million – maybe less. Republicans don’t trust Obama – he’s considered too smart for them.

Who will blink and when? The White House told seniors today that they may not get their August 3rd Social Security checks. The pundits are camped in the cable network parking lots. The rhetoric talking points sound as if both sides are going to the mattresses. This is going to be close.

Without an agreement, the Republicans are likely to pass something partisan in the House. Depending on the details, and they are likely to be onerous, it is doubtful that it could even come to the floor of the Senate.

Thursday, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has suggested a back up plan that would give the President new power and release Republicans from having to vote for anything that they have promised not to vote for. Lending authority for the balance of this Presidential term would be granted in three installments of up to $2.4 trillion, provided that the President cut spending by the same amount. Congress’ role would be reduced under special rules such that they would only be able to vote against a Presidential plan. Which of course, Republicans would. Which would then be vetoed by the President. The McConnell plan would give Republicans 100% authority to blame Obama for all of the economic woes, while keeping their agenda of fear in the news, and keep moving the day the world ends as we know it until just before the 2012 election. This plan, is likely a non-starter, as it would be giving the President way more power than Tea Partiers’ are likely to approve in the House.

Scenarios for default are unprecedented and no one really knows how one would play out. The White House may not have the authority to prioritize spending – allowing them to default on some debt to make payroll and pay other bills. At this time, the White House doesn’t plan to use the 14th Amendment, but may anyway. The Supreme Court will surely be called to decide many emergency details.

Should a deal not be done, what happens next is almost too dark to describe — sounding more like apocalyptic fiction than what is so seriously possible.

Inaction by Congress before recessing on August 5th would mean that revenues would only be available to pay 40-45% of our bills (that is 10% of our economy that would be missing in August). Our debt would be downgraded by ratings agencies. Smart money would likely already have made their bets — shorting everything — especially instruments guaranteed by our government — and almost guaranteeing things will get worse quickly. Safe places for cash would be almost impossible to find. The market impact of would be immediate. Everything will begin to go down. At 1000 Dow points down, margins calls will become commonplace forcing the markets lower and increasing computer trading.

The Treasury would be called to make hard and unpopular choices on who to pay with the estimated $172.4 billion of August revenue. Non-essential government workers would be sent home. The parks would close and campers evicted. Payments for Social Security, disability, VA benefits, food stamps, unemployment benefits, Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements, rental assistance, public housing funding, children nutrition programs, Pell grants, state education grants, IRS refunds, military active duty pay, federal employment salaries and others would be at risk. As would contracts for defense, Homeland Security and others.

“Handling allpayments for important and popular programs (e.g., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Defense, active duty pay) will quickly become impossible.” – Bipartisan Policy Center

Here are examples of some of the choices we would have in August from the Bipartisan Policy Center:

Payment scenarious from the Bipartisan Policy Center

Payment scenarious from the Bipartisan Policy Center

The Treasury must also rollover $507.4 billion in debt in August and there may be no takers – interest rates could skyrocket increasing the national debt even more, while reducing funds available to pay bills — and the Fed may have to intervene. Home sales would stop. As markets and currencies tank, people, banks and countries would begin to fail. There will be chaos on all world exchanges and many would be shut down. People would take to the streets. Then it gets really bad.

Even if Congress passes a bill by mid-August, there is great risk that the damage to markets and interest rates would already be so great that we would be thrown back into a deep recession.

More money could be lost in the markets during the first week than is needed for the debt increase. More money could be lost in the subsequent weeks than our national debt. Recession could easily turn into depression. People would jump out of windows. War might be threatened. All because of campaign promises. Oh, how I long for the time when politicians lied to get elected.
________

* Short for fanatics.
** Officially, the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, etc. are not included.

_________

Editor’s note: The post was updated at 7:43 am on July 13, 2011 to correct and provide new details of the Mitch McConnell back up plan as they became available.

Winning No Matter What

The public strategy seems straightforward – the minority party holds the national debt hostage in an attempt to force the majority party to voluntarily undo three generations of their own progressive policy. On face value, it seems brilliant.

The Republicans, after all, are largely responsible for deficit and the worst depression since Prozac. When they took power under Bush, there was a $235 billion surplus. When Bush left office, the national debt stood at $10.6 trillion and deficits, based on Bush/Republican approved spending, were projected to increase by $9 trillion in the next 10 years. Of course, those estimates didn’t include 9% unemployment continuing to depress tax collections and increasing unemployment benefits, or Obama’s increased war spending. The national debt is now $14.3 trillion (41.8% of which is owed to the Fed and Government agencies) and the Republicans are using this hostage situation to provide political cover for their responsibility and to push the blame on President Obama.

John Boehner Machiavelli by Santi di Tito

John Boehner Machiavelli by Santi di Tito

Our democratically elected leaders, Republican and Democrat, constitutionally authorized the spending, but not taxes to pay for it, which requires the Federal Government to borrow the money to pay for what Congress has spent. Not allowing our government to borrow the money needed, sounds an awful lot like fraud. Conspiracy to commit fraud.

The Federal Reserve, Treasury Secretary, head of the IMF, Moody’s and the US Chamber of Commerce have suggested that forcing a government default is nuts and will cause havoc in the markets. Surely they won’t go through with it.

Of course, there’s that other issue. Two months ago, the House Republicans voted in lockstep to turn Medicare and Medicaid in to state voucher programs. Republicans have caught a lot of flack from seriously pissed off voters since they did. Ryan’s bill was DOA in the Senate. But, now, all they have to do is get the Democrat in the White House and at least four Democrats in the Senate to vote with them on a variation of the Ryan plan. They’ll get what they want and, perhaps, have an unelectable Democrat to run against in 2012.

It’s not that the Republicans want Grandma thrown out on the street, starve or to die from lack of health care (collateral damage)*. They just don’t want to have to listen to lobbyists and their campaign contributers complain about employers being forced to pay a share of payroll taxes. Republicans would much prefer Medicare be privatized so their health insurance buddies could keep their hands in the Federal wallet. Republicans would much prefer Social Security be privatized so they could enable their Wall Street buddies to gamble Grandma’s money. Republicans would also much prefer both Social Security and Medicare become voluntary voluntary so their rich pals could opt out.

On the other hand, Republican leaders would prefer poor people and their children be thrown out on the street, starve or die from lack of health care (that’s what prisons are for). Republicans are anxious to do away with federally required Medicaid believing that until our poor are paid wages competitive with the third world, there will be no new jobs.

Their brilliant strategy is not really just about the policy. The real plot is more sinister. Should the Dems not cave, the Republicans will get what they really want – a government, at least until the next election of a Republican or they lose the House, without enough money, but with seriously higher interest rates on the deficit. The problem for Republicans is that current average interest rates on the national debt are only about three percent (3%), costing about the Treasury only about $30 billion a month. Debt is not starving the government enough. Short-term default will cause rates to double or better – benefiting rich Republican campaign contributers while also starving the government of the money needed for social programs.

So what’s gonna happen? Will Obama read section 4 of the 14th Amendment and the Perry V US court case to Boehner – “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law… shall not be questioned.”? Will the Fed just forgive their part of the debt (theoretically, they could) so there isn’t a need for debt extension? Will there be a run on Treasury debt with China and the Saudis cashing in, causing rates to skyrocket and the Fed to intervene? Will the Tea-Party Congresspeople suddenly decide what they are doing is un-American(perhaps, Michelle Bachmann will say so)? Will the business lobby (aka: the Chamber) start calling Republicans and threatening something worse then death to get the needed debt increase passed? Will the Senate pass a version of whatever comes out of the House – hoping members of a conference committee could turn it into something tolerable? Will Obama blink – hoping that voters will be so outraged that Republicans are voted out of office in 2012 and the law can be overturned? Stay tuned. Whatever happens, the Republicans are risking the world and they plan to win – no matter what.

 

* Grandmas who practice personal responsibility and free-market capitalism, don’t have to worry. Unless she gets cancer. Or helps her unemployed children. Or worked for a firm that underfunded her pension. Or her job was off-shored. Or her children grow up to be Republicans.

Preserving Social Security to Pay for Medicare

The Paul Ryan 2012 budget bill and “Path to Prosperity” sailed through House Friday on Republican votes. The GOP plans to spend $3.5 trillion next year, down a whopping $30 billion from 2011 (about eight days of current war spending), by cutting food stamps and Medicaid for the poor, children and the disabled. The Republican bill will still require the Government to borrow more than 40 cents of every dollar spent.

The bill passed is part of the Republican “roadmap” to reduce the deficit by $4.4 trillion* over the next ten years, while:

  • getting reelected;
  • providing $2.9 trillion in tax cuts for their wealthiest supporters;
  • gets rid of subsidies to develop alternative energy sources;
  • raising taxes for those making $20,000 to $200,000 per year;
  • repealing healthcare reform to make sure at least 52 million Americans are without health insurance;
  • in 2022, freezing and privatizing Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP);
  • and leaving it up to the states to deliver the bad news to our seniors, the disabled, children and the poor.

Except in calling for “reform,” the plan does leave Social Security intact, at least, so far** – and our seniors will need it. The average Social Security benefit for a retired worker is currently $14,124. In 2022, the additional out-of-pocket cost for Medicare will be $5,744. By 2030, it will increase to $8,833.

Impact of costs on seniors by Ryan budget bill - This was published by the Center for American Progress (http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/04/ryan_medicare.html)

Of course, this assumes that a private health insurance company in 2022 will offer a policy to someone over 65 for $20,513. Best of luck with that —  especially if by that time you have one of those pesky pre-existing conditions.

*Just in case you are keeping track of the mundane things such as this, President Obama’s “Path to Austerity,” plans to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion in 12 years.

**The Republicans have a separate bill making its way to the floor and endorsed by their leadership that will raise the retirement age to 70 and include a means test for benefits.

It is a tough time to be anything

believe_0001It is an awful time to passionately believe in something. Be it liberal, conservative, or independent. No one is happy.

For all our freedom, America is a lousy place to be a zealot. Sure, you can talk the talk almost as loud as you wish. You can carry signs, march, demonstrate, blog, tweet, harangue, chant, argue, and pontificate – but in the end, it will be decided by politicians, pollsters and lobbyists.

  • Anti-war? 30,000 more troops are going to Afghanistan. We’ll assess the situation on the ground before bringing our troops home and it will take at least 3 years after that.
  • A hawk on defense? We are only sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and we’re getting out in 18 months.
  • Health care reform with or without public option? It won’t be a true public option and we’ll spend more because of it, but actually pay for it less. There is something in it for everyone to love and everyone to hate.
  • Immigration reform? We’re still building a wall with Mexico. There’s no path to citizenship for people who are here illegally, but we still pay for their emergency health care and now provide alternatives to detaining those who are caught.
  • Wall Street regulation? Tough regulation is planned, but it will take another meltdown to get it out of committee.
  • Deficit reduction? In this tough economy, we can’t cut spending or raise taxes – or won’t. The deficit doesn’t matter – or it does.
  • Unemployment and the economy stupid? We’ll extend the benefits for those who get unemployment; provide some food stamps, but little else for others unemployed or underemployed; give trillions to the banks so they’ll make loans which they won’t; spend hundreds of billions on works projects that are subverted by states to help their budgets; and do nothing to re-capitalize small business.
  • Alternative energy and domestic production? We bailed out GM. Wasted billions then abandoned Chrysler. We provided incentives to buy cars that get “at least 22 mpg,” continue to subsidize oil with taxes, but created no new tax or incentive to reduce consumption. We have provided some, but not much, stimulus money for alternative energy, conservation and light rail.
  • Equal rights and discrimination? We are still “studying” don’t ask, don’t tell. It is still okay to discriminate based on sexual orientation except where it isn’t. You cannot hire or fire someone because of their race, age or gender, but it is fine to do so if you can make up some other reason. Racial, religious and ethnic profiling is wrong, but okay if it protects us.

I could go on, but let me just ask: is there any issue anyone outside of Washington is happy with?

Mindlessness must be the route to happiness. Things are great as long as you don’t care. Stay away from the news and just watch another survivor or gossip show (or anything on television). Grey is the new black. Grey is the new white. We know the economy is making a comeback because fewer people lost their jobs last week. President Obama accepts the Peace prize the same week he announces escalation of the war.

“A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music. Everybody can recognize it. They say, ‘Huh. It works. It makes sense.’” – Barack Obama

“All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.” – Mohandas Gandhi

“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” – Revelation 3:16 (King James)

“Don’t worry, be happy” – Bobby McFerrin Bobby McFerrin - Best of Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry, Be Happy

A sermon for the choir

Listen up you godless, spineless, irrational, sushi-eating, America-blaming, terrorist-coddling, morally superior, Hollywood-humping, liberal, defeatocrat, progressive, elitist, Marxist, business-bashing, whining, pinko, tree-hugging, vegan-exalting, crackpot, sanctimonious, stem-cell-sucking, tofu-chomping, out-of-touch, pantywaist, tax-hiking, Obamaton snobs*. This is a defining moment. A tipping point. A chance such as we have never had before. A chance that we, the world, will never have again.perfect_storm

This is the moment. It will define the future of our children and generations to come. Forever. This is a planet-changing moment. Life and death serious. We have a narrow window and it will close. I fear we are going to blow it. Grab a beer and watch it on TV. Cheat this chance to make our brief moments here matter. I fear, we are going to damn ourselves to an eventual, perhaps, inevitable oblivion and take everyone with us.

You know the litany. The talking points. Stop. Think about them. This is real. A storm more perfect than facts know or fiction dreamed.  We should be in the streets.

Say these things out loud:

  • Rapid climate change is occurring; the ice caps are melting; the oceans are rising, our planet is warming.
  • The world is in a great recession – a world where more than 80% already live on less than $10 a day.
  • People are starving all over the planet.
  • More than a billion people don’t have clean drinking water; almost as many can’t read or write.
  • We have a global pandemic.
  • Iran, Pakistan and North Korea have nuclear weapons.
  • Fundamentalism, ethnic sovereignty and terrorism have made many of the world’s governments unstable.
  • Recipes for bio-weapons are on the internet.
  • Even per capita, there are more guns in the world than ever before.
  • Pollution and over-fishing have 80% of our fish stocks in danger of collapse.
  • Industrial pollution, the overuse of pesticides, antibiotics and fertilizer runoff have all species at risk.
  • Global drilling and mining cartels, most controlled by dictators, hold the world’s economy hostage – while our natural resources dwindle.
  • In the US:
    • We are in two wars – weapons spending continues to increase.
    • Our deficit will be almost $2 trillion this year and will get worse.
    • Medical care gobbles one of every five dollars and will eat more – 1 out of 3 have no health insurance.
    • Most lost half the value of their retirement and investments last year.
    • Half of us have an unemployed family member who won’t find a job this year – it is getting worse.
    • We have record numbers of bankruptcies, mortgage foreclosures and people in prison.
    • Lobbyists and campaign funds continue to control our government.
    • Our farm subsidies have destroyed small farms around the world.
    • 39 states cut 2009 spending for Medicaid, schools and other services for families (12 Southern states out of 16) – more cuts will come for years to come.
    • Our government now insures most mortgages, business and investments around the world.
    • We bailed out Wall Street.

Yet, we have the audacity of hope. A new, smart, charismatic and popular president with a majority in both houses.  Will we have the dramatic change he promised and the world needs? No reason to think so.

More troops are on their way to Afghanistan with no talk of an exit strategy.

  • CIA-guided bombings and other incursions into Pakistan are now routine.
  • Record lobby spending has regulation for Wall Street languishing as Goldman Sachs reports billions of profits on high risk investments.
  • The stimulus bill passed, but is just a band-aid to state budgets, builds too many roads we don’t need, extends some unsustainable benefits for too small a percentage of the unemployed and suffering, does little to create consumption or re-start business, and will rollout so slowly, most of us won’t notice.
  • The energy bill that passed the House and is in the Senate is an insult to all of us who wish to breath and have hope for our future – the Senate is sure to make it worse.
  • The heath care bill has been introduced in the House, but don’t expect much or soon – something is likely to pass this year, but it surely will be a another Congressional camel that sustains all that is bad (private insurance, for instance) while helping some, but not nearly enough.

liberalsearchingfor

It isn’t too late, but our leaders don’t think we care. They don’t believe many of us are paying attention to what they do, only to what talk TV and talk radio say about what they do. They also know our attention span is greater for Michael Jackson than for debate on Capital Hill. They know we won’t hold them accountable in the next election. They know we aren’t organized. That we are too busy worrying about having a place to live, feeding our families, updating our Facebook and ducking calls from credit card companies. They know the generation who took to the streets in the 60’s are in their 60’s. The rest of us are too busy, too lazy, too fearful, too preoccupied.


Bully Pulpit

Brother and sisters, I come before you today a shaken man. I fear our dream will turn into a nightmare. I fear the sinners on Wall Street and K Street will not repent. That the sick and suffering among us will be turned away. That the little children will continue to gather in the refugee camps to pick through the garbage. That the best and brightest will continue to die in service alongside the powerless and innocent collateral damage. I fear the new President will accept the lukewarm bills in Congress – neither hot nor cold, and not spit them out. I fear that sound from the corporate boardrooms, from the sheiks and dictators, from the oil wells to the new car show rooms, will be, “Hallelujah, we did it to them again. Praise greed almighty.”

I have seen the promised land and it is only on TV. Can I please not get an “amen”?

__________________
* Apologies for borrowing “liberally” from the Liberal Insult Generator

Holiday Wrap Up

Pardon the pun, but I’ve worked with way too many clever people and there is a long term effect. Anyway, I have this list of things I planned to write about this month and am fast approaching the time where it just isn’t going to happen. Here’s my attempt to plant or at least provoke some metaphorical seeds…

Social Networks Caused Economy Crisis

Or maybe it’s the other way around. Probably too early to tell if this part of the Chicken/Egg Conundrum, but visits to LinkedIn and Facebook are up 20% and 18% respectively. My explanation (using the Colbert approach) is that as people have less and less to do at work, they are spending more and more time looking for someone who will discover them and give them money.Social Networking vs Economy Graph

Here are some links:

CSI North Pole

We moved last year and are using basic cable. My justification was based on cost and the hope that if I didn’t watch HBO for a couple of years maybe they would add some movies we hadn’t seen. Admittedly, using the remote control so much has made the Carpal Tunnel caused by a billion mouse clicks much worse. Not only am I clicking to miss the commercials (they still have commercials on basic cable – 5 minutes worth every 10 minutes – mostly prescription drugs with hilarious side effects for diseases I haven’t yet asked my doctors about), to find something we can watch. We have these rules for program selection: no autopsy shows; no shows with violence against women or children; no shows with laugh tracks; no shows with automatic weapons; no fascist news shows (Lou Dobbs and everything on Fox News); no personal tragedy tonight shows; no shows with snakes; no game shows (that includes all of the survivor genre); and no movie that we have seen more than twice in the last week. That doesn’t leave much.

It Could Be a Wonderful Life.

A rewrite of the original substituting poor old George Bush for George Bailey. George is having a really bad day. This time, all of the Building and Loans had come up short – hundreds of billions short. In today’s version, millions of people who have lost their jobs, their houses and their life savings are on the bridge feeling suicidal. When they hear the splash interrupting their jump and rescue Clarence the angel, in unison they wish that George had never been born. Granting the wish, we walk with the angel through a very different place than we have been used to for the last eight years. A world where Al Gore did become president. The surplus wasn’t squandered with tax breaks for the wealthy, but President Gore worked with the Republican Congress to pay off our national debt and found the accumulating trillions could easily afford to invest in securing Social Security and Medicare. Investments in clean, renewable energy ended our dependence on foreign oil, resulted in a vibrant stock market, millions of new jobs, raised the standard of living for us all and exportable technology securing a positive trade balance. The surplus allowed us to rebuild on infrastructure with thousand of new schools, safe bridges and mass transportation. Trains, clean and cheap, became commonplace, saving the lives of thousands from traffic accidents. Universal healthcare removed the burden from industry and increased our worldwide competitiveness, lengthened lives and made us more healthy, and dramatically reduced bankruptcy which strengthened our financial system. College tuition became free in exchange for community service, resulting in a motivated and smart new generation of productive taxpayers. Teacher salaries were increased and no child was left behind. Lobbyist are banned for Washington and self interest is replaced with common good. With the budget surplus secure, we were able to turn a generous eye to the rest of the world – providing clean water, access to power and sustainable agriculture to the third world; investing in our hemisphere with positive trade practices, the immigration issue was solved; and working with the UN as a partner in the world, peace and democracy spread like wildfire. Oil prices never spiked so the oil dictators lost power. We had a competent government that paid attention to warnings and September 11th never happened, no innocent women and children were bombed, no suspects tortured, religion never became a profile, thousand of our best lived long and wonderful lives with their families. Enron never bubbled or collapsed. Dick Cheney was still serving time for bribery and illegal trading with Iraq. Joe Lieberman was replaced in Gore’s second term with the then new senator from Illinois who is now president elect. Finally, the millions of people who walked with Clarence and viewing this world where W never lived, realized that we could have had “A Wonderful Life” and never chose to go back.

A Free Idea for the Car Companies

Instead of offering me a rebate to buy a new car, offer shares of automotive stock. Admittedly, 5,000 shares of General Motors stock may not be worth very much, but it sounds like more than that $5,000 rebate and I’d have an incentive to make sure they were successful – that includes supporting their quarterly bailouts. Relationship marketing can work for them. Think about it.

A Free Idea for 39 States Who Are Looking for Some Millions

Container deposits. It will immediately raise millions that can help reduce your deficit and more each year thereafter; will encourage recycling; reduce litter; and provide a significant source of income to the homeless, non-profits and enterprising young people. Think about it.