Health care reform act declared unconstitutional

Federal Judge Roger Vinson has done as expected and ruled that the individual mandate compelling individual Americans to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional. He has also declared the mandate as not “severable”, meaning it can’t simply be deleted keeping the remainder of the health care reform bill intact. Thus the entire act must be repealed. This is exactly what opponents have been saying prior to it ever becoming law.

So what happens now? With-in the next 30 days the Federal Government will certainly appeal and it will be referred to the U.S. Supreme Court. When will the Supreme Court decide to hear the case? It’s anybody’s guess, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for it anytime soon.

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What do the gages of Michigan’s dashboard read?

The new governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, has put in place a tracking tool called the Michigan Dashboard. It is supposed to be a snapshot of areas the governor has determined vital to the interests of all of the state’s citizens. Here is what it looks like in its most recent release – http://www.michigan.gov/documents/accountability/MichiganScorecard_V6_343176_7.pdf

Three areas immediately jump out at you. The unemployment rate, GDP, and real personal income. The unemployment rate has been steadily decreasing since it exceeded 15% in June of 2009. Currently at 12.4%, this is certainly moving in the right direction. Yet, it is somewhat deceiving due to continuing exodus of citizens from the state. GDP has not experienced any such rebound and continues to decline. The third metric is real personal income and it also continues to decline. Not good news. With food prices skyrocketing again and the price of oil headed north, the stage may be set for a repeat of the 2008 disaster. Foreclosures are still a major issue in Michigan and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

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The pale blue dot

Want to feel really small? This short film narrated by Carl Sagan will do just that. It also has a nice video montage of some of our history. Puts things into perspective nicely.

SOTU – fail! American public ignorance – fail!

Another SOTU is in the books and it went as expected. Nothing of substance from Obama. His solutions for recovery are more of the same that got us where we are. The most important omission from his speech was any attempt of substance to deal with the debt and deficits. However, he is not alone on an island with his thinking. This is even more disturbing than Obama sticking to his wayward ideology. That is a given. The bigger issue as I see it is the conviction of the American people. We talk the talk but aren’t willing to walk it.

A new Gallup poll out reinforces this.  It reflects the views of most Americans that we support reducing spending, but wish to keep the third rail intact. We simply don’t want to feel any pain when it comes to entitlements. This is not unexpected, but it is not an option if we ever want to realistically control spending. We also can’t criticize our elected officials for not following through with promises to cut spending if we aren’t willing to accept the fallout.

I don’t think we can possibly over-emphasize just how important this distinction is. The bottom line is that we the people allowed our elected officials to run wild for all these years. Are they blameless? Of course not, but the check and balance put in place to stop them is the ballot box and we didn’t do it. Maybe it’s just not possible. Human nature is working against us here. We fall prey to all those promises laid out by politicians in their efforts to stay in office. Even when we know there is no free lunch and eventually it will catch up to us, we couldn’t resist. Granted, those politicians do a masterful job of marketing and disguising the true cost of entitlements. But this is one of the very things we on the right rail against is the left’s blameless mentality.

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State of the Union rebuttal

Yes, yes, I know the POTUS hasn’t even given the speech yet. So how can I give a realistic rebuttal to what hasn’t been said yet? Perhaps it could be transparency. Yes, it really does exist in Washington. It exists in the realm of predictability. We already know what he’s going to say before he says it because he has been very effective in laying out his agenda for years. At least for those who were willing to really listen to what he has said rather than swooning over the aura.

This is not difficult, so I’ll keep it short and sweet. Much of the sparring from the pundits will be over what Obama really means when he says certain things. Investment really means more spending, that type of thing. When you look at the scope of what will be proposed, you will quickly see it is like trying to put out a forest fire with a garden hose. Not enough, too late and misguided.

The very crux of the issue is the inability of our politicians to separate sound fiscal policies from personal gain. They enact policy based on an agenda that doesn’t coincide with the success of our country. They reward special interests and lobbyists in return for the personal perks they have been extended. They reward power brokers from the business world in return for their support at election time. The simple fact is they exist to get re-elected and the power trip is irresistible. As long as our publicly elected officials continue to have a structure in place that encourages this type of scenario, it won’t stop.

The Fed is sending us down the road to oblivion. They target inflation as a long-term goal. They formulate policy to attain full employment. Quantitative easing, or printing money, is a Pandora’s box. They cannot stop it now. The era of easy credit is inflating the largest bubble ever created. We see offshoots now and then rear up and give us a glimpse of the troubles to come such as the housing bubble. They tried to turn off the spigot and immediately the economy slowed so they announced QE2. You simply can’t continue with near zero interest rates and artificial credit injections without repercussions. The minute you try to raise rates and make purchasing our bond debt more appealing, you slow other markets dependent on those low rates. It’s the same as the entitlement mentality issues we face as citizens. You get accustomed to it and when it’s taken away, you immediately cry foul.

Spending freezes are simply token efforts. We aren’t in a position in which slowing or even stopping the bleeding is enough. We need drastic, intensive measures to reverse where were headed. Yes, this WILL make things WORSE in the interim. That is a must. We can’t get to where we need to be by easing into it. Generally, this is because of what I delved into above. That is our system is skewed. We simply don’t have the ability to implement the type of long-term fiscally responsible policies required to enable true growth of our economy. Growth absent stimulus and artificial props. We need the expansion of wealth to grow the economy. But our system of rewarding politicians won’t allow them to leave the system alone and let it work. There is too much money to be made personally along with the lure of power.

So, my rebuttal is this. It doesn’t really matter what Obama spews forth tonight. I know his ideology and his goals. They directly conflict with America and its reason for being. His agenda cannot co-exist with America. I’ll continue to explore the relevant topics in the future that we as a nation must embrace if we wish to save our country. Make no mistake, we haven’t been doing it. Most aren’t even aware of what they are. God help us all.

Act worthy of yourselves

President Obama will deliver the State of the Union address in just 4 days. I won’t waste my time listening. Rather, I thought I would revisit a much more inspiring, and much more relevant speech. That would be the inaugural speech delivered by Ronald Reagan 30 years ago. It is really amazing just how relevant it is. He could have easily delivered it today and you would never know the difference as every word fits the current events even more so now than 30 years ago.

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Is the spending really fixable?

The question of the day is whether or not the GOP will be able to deliver on campaign promises to stop the spending. I can answer that for you right now. No.

Can they reduce government spending? Yes. Can they reduce it significantly enough to make a difference? Highly unlikely.

Why so negative you may ask? Because reality gets in the way. The size and scope of our government spending problems are enormous and very difficult to get your arms around. For example, did you know we could completely eliminate the Federal government and still not fix our spending problems? Yes, it’s true! Fire every civilian government employee and eliminate the Department of Defense and still not save a trillion dollars a year. You are still left with entitlements and other discretionary spending that would exceed the tax revenue coming in. Social security, Medicaid, Medicare, pensions and any other type of welfare are the culprits. The fact is that we cannot have a substantive discussion about controlling spending while leaving these on the table as separate discussions.

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