Monthly Archives: October 2015

REVIEW Part III: The Debt Bomb: A Bold Plan to Stop Washington from Bankrupting America

The Debt Bomb:  A Bold Plan to Stop Washington from Bankrupting America

by U. S. Senator Tom A. Coburn, M. D.

 Review by John E. Wade II

Part III

The Solution

 

The Tea Party Republicans may be part of the solution.  Over and over President Obama was given the chance to lead.  One instance was evident at the time of the report by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, known as Simpson-Bowles, on how to reduce the deficit, which was closer to President Reagan’s 1986 tax reform than President Obama’s tax increase proposals.  President Obama didn’t embrace the recommendations.  According to Senator Coburn, “His [President Obama] decision, I believe, will be remembered as one [of] the greatest failures of presidential leadership in American history.”

We must not take a chance of future failures.  If we are to wait until after the 2012 elections, Republicans must “win the White House, maintain a solid majority in the House, and win about sixty-five seats in the Senate to control the national agenda.”

There are answers.  What is needed is courage to do what is right.  Senator Coburn and his staff identified $9 trillion in savings over ten years in a 624-page report which he called Back in Black.

We should watch and learn from the events unfolding in European countries, such as Spain, which has high and unsustainable yields on government debt, as well as unemployment at 25 percent.

Duplication in government spending is an obvious starting point, and Governor Romney is ideal to direct such an endeavor, supported by a Republican Congress.  We should shrink government, but with thought and planning to assist those who will lose their jobs.  I believe optional occupational interest tests, ability tests and privately-administered outplacement services could allow workers to assume fruitful private sector jobs or self-employment.

The General Accounting Office said, “Reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could potentially save billions of taxpayer dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services.”  “Senator Coburn estimates we can save $3 trillion over ten years by ending duplication.”

  1. S. Senator Joe Lieberman said, “We can’t save Medicare as we know it.  We can only save Medicare if we change it.”  Unsustainable demographics and benefits confront maintaining entitlements in their current state.  “Medicare is already broke and running on empty.”

So, what is the Medicare solution?  Senator Coburn gives two answers:  “(1) adjust the eligibility and generosity of the Medicare benefit by relating benefits to income (i.e. forcing wealthier Americans to pay more) while raising the retirement age to reflect changing life spans, and (2) transitioning Medicare from a defined benefit to a defined contribution.”

Social Security is now cash-flow negative and, “Between 2012 and 2013, the program’s cash deficits are projected to total $630 billion.”

Senator Coburn tells it like it is:  “It is not that hard to fix these problems.  The truth is, we have a surplus of solutions, but a deficit of courage.”  President Obama has graphically demonstrated a lack of courage and competence.  I believe Governor Romney and a host of Republicans at all levels can and will provide solutions.

REVIEW Part II: The Debt Bomb: A Bold Plan to Stop Washington from Bankrupting America

The Debt Bomb:  A Bold Plan to Stop Washington from Bankrupting America

by U. S. Senator Tom A. Coburn, M. D.

 Review by John E. Wade II

Part II

Around the world Senator Coburn and I see the fall of the “International Welfare State,” including Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Japan—all in “serious risk of default.”  There is a very real possibility of a worldwide depression.

My calculation from the U. S. Debt Clock of our national debt ($15.8 trillion) to our Gross Domestic Product ($15.2 trillion) is just over 100 percent.  The book described a debt-to-GDP ratio of 90 percent as “dangerous.”

Careerism on the part of our elected officials is cited as the root cause of our present state.  Republicans and Democrats have lavished the government’s money in ways that they figured would allow them to stay in office, practically at any cost.  Why do they want to stay?  They are surrounded and courted by staff, lobbyists, party leaders, and special interest groups.  And there are all kinds of perks.

The Constitution has been largely ignored over the last few decades, as career politicians concentrated on the next election with “unsustainable debt” as the result.  Earmarks such as the expensive “the bridge to nowhere” in Alaska demonstrate sadly the careerism and parochialism (obtaining federal spending for one’s own district or state, usually referred to as pork barrel spending).

To quell the myth that there is a continuing stalemate in Washington, Sen. Coburn writes, “Our economy is on the brink of collapse not because politicians can’t agree, but because they have agreed for decades.”  Getting our country in fiscal shape will require that politicians learn to say “no.”

President Reagan in his first inaugural address, 1981, said, “In this present crisis government is not the solution to our problem; government is our problem.”  I firmly believe that Governor Romney could step forward and lead a host of Republicans in 2013 in a manner like President Reagan.  On the other hand, President Obama is part of the problems.

Our government itself is in dire need of kind, but firm and extensive innovation.  The stimulus simply didn’t work.  Part of the money, $535 million, went to Solyndra, a solar-power company that went bankrupt.  “One of the administration’s key donors … had a financial stake in the company.”

Senator Coburn made two key statements:  “We are on the edge of an abyss not because we had too little faith in government but because we had too much faith,” and “A government that works is a government that is limited.”

The Complicated Path Towards Love

We are in the innovation age, and that requires imagination and creativity in just about all human endeavors, including government and religion. We each have a role(s) to play in life. Let us make it an admirable and worthwhile part in life’s tapestry.

One of the things we can—and do—pray for is love, romantic love. Lasting and happy relationships are something I’ve seen many times, but we so often see couples that are unhappy and couples that inevitably split up—unfortunately.

Often, we see persons that don’t fit the stereotypical image of beauty in our society struggling to find a suitable partner. It’s as if no matter how pleasant a person is, if they aren’t seen as outwardly attractive, they aren’t given a chance. Personality, intellectual qualities, education, financial income, and net worth play a role in creating a lasting romantic relationship as well.

Romance, to me, is best illustrated not in me, but through my daughter and son-in-law. They seem, from a distance, to carry on day-to-day with a working marriage and a loving relationship between them and my two grandchildren.

Love can be complicated—at least for me. I am sad to say that I have, once again, found myself without a romantic partner.

What can we hope for in life? Love, love, love, to and from a spouse that really cares, not about such things as money—although important—but about us, who we are as we move through the ever-changing path of life.

Yes, we want romantic love, and need it, too, although so many—over half of adult Americans—cope without it, me included.

REVIEW Part I: The Debt Bomb: A Bold Plan to Stop Washington from Bankrupting America

The Debt Bomb:  A Bold Plan to Stop Washington from Bankrupting America

by U. S. Senator Tom A. Coburn, M. D.

 Review by John E. Wade II

Part I

In this powerful book Sen. Coburn does more than point out our nation’s enormous debt, deficit, entitlement and tax problems, but concludes by offering suggestions to solve these worrisome challenges in ways that should suit the poor and help everyone else.

A shocking quote at the start of Chapter One is from Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Obama, June 24, 2010:  “Our national debtis our biggest national security threat.”  Incidentally, on PBS’s Charlie Rose  I saw Secretary James Baker say, “We’re broke.”(June, 2012)  In his book, Sen. Coburn writes that “America is already bankrupt.”  These statements may be and are unsettling, but the light at the end of the tunnel is the chance we have to elect Governor Romney and a host of Republicans at all levels.

But first, the bad news, which is that we are in a spending and entitlement crisis; our government debt and entitlement obligations are already slowing our economy by twenty-five to thirty-three percent.  In my opinion, the Obama administration’s trillion-dollar-plus deficits over the last three and a half years have suppressed the economy rather than stimulated it.  Perhaps if our country had been at a low or moderate debt level, his policies might have worked.  This spending binge must stop.  I realize that both Republicans and Democrats have lacked spending discipline.

To get the latest figures on our government obligations, do a Google search for the U. S. Debt Clock.  Right now the U. S. National Debt is $15,801,265.5↑↑, and increasing as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is $15,217,191, ↑↑↑.  Unfunded liabilities (Social Security, prescription drugs and Medicare) total $119 trillion.  I invite you to review that website from time to time to attempt to grasp the magnitude of our very precarious position.

Almost a third of our debt is held by foreigners.  In April 2011 Standard and Poor’s (S&P), one of the larger rating agencies, downgraded the United States long-term credit outlook from “stable” to “negative,” and in August they reduced our rating from AAA to AA+.

The continuing crisis in Europe shows in real time the effects of high government debt and obligations.  That can and will happen to us unless we take decisive actions, such as the author suggests.

The world will have a liquidity crisis soon—sometime in 2013—when the planet’s liquid assets ($9 trillion) won’t be enough to fund sovereign debt requirements (around $13 trillion), a situation that will push interest rates up.  The government may try to inflate its way out by printing money as it has done already, but if such a course of action is tried, much of our life savings will be wiped out.  In the final stage, “the bottom would fall out of the middle class.  Unemployment would soar, while the cost of living would increase.”

Dealing With the Uncertainties of Life

As I anxiously awaited the release of my book I dwelled on the uncertainties of life, and how dealing with them is part of the path toward wisdom.

In thinking about marriage, I can conclude that it is one of the greatest uncertainties that we can face. But taking the chance on a good, solid, loving union is worth the calculated risk of possible failure and living without the support, companionship, and intimacy of a committed spouse.

Furthermore, we must all strive to acquire wisdom from birth and learn from our own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others. The alternative is that, ultimately, humanity will self-destruct through physical and emotional damage. And in today’s day and age that can mean nuclear warfare and other means.

The good news is that wisdom can be taught, as long as we are all willing participants. Empathy and compassion, the love elements of Copthorne MacDonald’s wisdom-associated values, I think are particularly apropos for young children.

I believe each of us and all of us have a calling(s) that will inevitably change as we go through life. However, seeking to attain wisdom is the on-going calling of each and every one of us. This is an intellectual discourse, but it is also meant to go to the heart.

Think back to my comments of empathy and compassion. What does life offer?—a chance to help humankind proceed in an impassioned way toward Heaven on Earth. This is not a dream. This is a reality that I deeply believe has been pre-destined by God—Almighty God. By that I mean the hero, “little piece of God,” within all of us has that same pre-determined destiny.

REVIEW Part II: The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream

The Audacity of Hope:  Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream

by Senator Barrack Obama

Review by John E. Wade II

Part II

The choice now before the American people is between President Obama—who lacks academic, serious business experience, and success with our nation’s economy—and Governor Romney.  The governor earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature at Brigham Young University and went on to become the “elite of the elite” with a law degree with honors and an MBA as a Baker Scholar (denoting the top five percent of his class) from Harvard University.

Governor Romney worked eight years as a valued management consultant, and about fifteen years as a co-founder and head of Bain Capital, where he invested in about one hundred corporations, saved dozens of companies, and created or preserved thousands of jobs.  He couldn’t save them all, but when one invests in troubled companies and start-ups, one can’t expect that kind of success. The important thing to discern from that success is that he knows business and investment in depth—how jobs are created and why they are lost.

He also saved his sister corporation, Bain and Company, when it nearly folded. Then he saved the 2002 Winter Olympics from scandal and money problems.

Romney went on to serve as governor of Massachusetts.  When he assumed office, he faced a deficit of $650 million with a projected $2 – $3 billion loss the following year in a $23 billion budget. Through superb fiscal management—the kind we desperately need now in Washington—he brought about a balanced budget.  He also passed the nation’s first health care legislation, one that was suited for the low proportion of Massachusetts citizens not previously covered.  Through that experience he can help repeal and replace Obamacare.

One other serious issue is Afghanistan where our troops are still in harm’s way.  President Obama foolishly announced dates of withdrawal, subjecting our soldiers to “friendly” fire from Afghanistan trainees who don’t want to be considered collaborators after we leave. In my opinion, Governor Romney will find a sensible, workable solution to this politically motivated decision by President Obama.

Much of what President Obama wrote in his book is non-controversial and appealing to all, including Governor Romney, such as racial equality, better educational systems for all, and an improved health care delivery system. While I’m sure that the two candidates will differ on specifics in many of the areas addressed in the book, the purpose and appeal to the reader is to show the former senator’s empathy with the electorate, not necessarily the presentation of extensive policies of how things would be accomplished.  This is unlike Governor Romney’s book, No Apologies, which presents a great number of policy statements and views.

National security and the economy are influenced by the federal government and are the two key areas facing the next president. We have a choice between the leadership of Governor Romney, Congressman Ryan, and a host of Republicans at all levels to turn around our country fiscally, educationally, and with growth creating and sustaining jobs, as did President Reagan, or continuing on the downward path led by President Obama.

The Operation’s Repressive and Liberating Possibilities

The reality of life is full of surprises. I really thought getting The Bipolar Millionaire finally in print would draw the press’s attention to how invasive a force such as a secret organization (with the government coupled with private entities) could pervade a person’s life—with long-term benevolent ends, but short-term “mistakes.”

I would like to quote Henry Kissinger as he writes on page 356 in his book, World Order, published by Penguin Press in 2014, “The proliferation of ubiquitous sensors tracking and analyzing individuals, recording and transmitting their every experience (in some cases now, essentially from birth), and (at the forefront of commuting) anticipating their thoughts opens up repressive as well as liberating possibilities.” I believe the force that I called The Operation has been tracking me since 1998 and generally were more concerned with their aims than mine during a large part of this period.

The Operation was overall benevolent, but the hardest part for me was the lack of a wife—the love of my life, which I believe The Operation prevented me from finding. Although The Operation has allowed me to meet a wonderful woman now, for many years their interference was difficult to understand and disheartening to live through.

Life is not within our control, although we should do everything we can, in a positive way, to achieve our goals. With The Operation, I had a focused organization that took me, in the long-term, to a healthy state, spiritually sooner, and with some force within the Republican Party.

God is Love. We must express that in every way possible.

REVIEW Part I : The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream

The Audacity of Hope:  Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream

by Senator Barack Obama

Review by John E. Wade II

PART I

What is most revealing in the then-senator’s 2006 book is what is not written in its 352 pages.  The book is filled with anecdotes, demographics, reminiscences, questions and opinions, yet nowhere does the author reveal that he is a trained political scientist.  Senator Obama does not disclose that he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science, or that he has a Harvard law degree, magna cum laude.  Many parts of the book are subtle attempts to garner votes, while others are blatant ones, the whole characterized by a surprising lack of detailed biography.

I wondered about the senator’s academic background as I read his book, but I didn’t realize at that time that it was the work of a professional politician, both by training and career path.  I later pieced together the senator’s education, which began with two years at Occidental College, a liberal arts school in Los Angeles with fewer than two thousand students.  Obama was there with a full scholarship.  Through an exchange program with Occidental, after his sophomore year, in 1981 he transferred to Columbia University in New York City where, according to David Mendell inObama:  From Promise to Power, the future senator was particularly impressed by a course in modern political thought.  He graduated from Columbia in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science.

Obama wrote in his résumé that he took a job where he “… researched, wrote and edited reports and how-to manuals on international business and finance for international business and finance for multinational corporations.”  After a while, though, he became disenchanted with the job and quit.

In June of 1985, at the age of 23, Obama became a community organizer in Chicago’s South Side, the largest single concentration of blacks anywhere in the country.

Three years later, he entered Harvard Law School, older and more mature than his fellow students and more committed to his studies.  There he graduated magna cum laude and became the first black to hold the presidency of the Harvard Law Review; which included editor-in-chief responsibilities, in more than a century.  Most of the above information about Senator Obama’s past comes from Obama:  From Promise to Power by David Mendell because the senator’s book doesn’t include many key details about his background.

Following graduation from Harvard, Obama directed Project Vote! that targeted the city’s low-income blacks for the 1992 presidential election, and registered some 150,000 new voters.  After the election, he joined a twelve-attorney firm that specialized in civil rights, discrimination cases and neighborhood development in Chicago.  His Illinois law license was active for nine years, but he never handled a trial, working primarily in teams of attorneys who drew up briefs and contracts on a variety of cases.  The firm’s major appeal to Obama was Judson Miner, who had extensive political connections in Chicago, particularly in the black community.

Obama’s first run for public office was for a seat in the Illinois State Senate.  He won, taking office in January of 1997, and served almost eight years.  In late 1999 and early 2000 Obama made an unsuccessful run for the U. S. Congress.  After a campaign that included his opponent’s divorce scandal that surfaced just before the election, Obama won a seat in the U. S. Senate; he was sworn in on January 4, 2005.

The real question now, knowing Obama’s career in academia and politics, is whether the country is willing to reelect a political scientist, attorney and president (whose major accomplishment is Obamacare) for another four years.  Remember also his reckless spending and failure to address deficits, debt, taxes and entitlements.

President Obama has proven that he knows how to register voters, campaign, deliver speeches and press the flesh in a tireless, relentless, ambitious and driven manner.  He has been able to handle the public appearances required by the office.

In my opinion, the stupendous challenge over the next four years will be the economy.  President Obama has had four years of opportunity, just as President Carter did, and both of them failed to remedy the dismal pain of the American people.  Thank God, we chose Governor Reagan over President Carter, and history will show the 25-year growth ignited by Reaganomics (1982 – 2007).

…To be continued