Give ’em ‘L,’ Mitt

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In the 1993 movie “Dave” the faux president (played by Kevin Kline) calls in his best friend (played by Charles Grodin) and they stay up all night balancing the federal budget, not by raising taxes, but by cutting unnecessary and wasteful spending.

If only it were that easy.

Most presidents have talked about cutting spending, but few succeed because Congress holds the power of the purse and is reluctant to give it up.

There have been serious and not so serious attempts to reduce government spending, from Ronald Reagan’s Grace Commission to something called OMB Circular A-76, a memo from the Office of Management and Budget to all federal agencies that has been around in one form or another over several administrations. A-76’s 2003 revision calls for the identification of “all activities performed by government personnel as either commercial or inherently governmental.”

To borrow a song from the musical, “Annie Get Your Gun,” commercial ventures should look at government and say about many of its functions, “Anything you can do, I can do better” and then they should be allowed to do it.

The model for this could be the government of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. During her time in office, she privatized many industries and utilities previously owned by the government because she believed, correctly, that the private economy could do a better and less expensive job of running them. Her philosophy, mostly absent from the film “The Iron Lady,” was: “We should not expect the state to appear in the guise of an extravagant good fairy at every christening, a loquacious companion at every stage of life’s journey, and the unknown mourner at every funeral.”

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney could follow her example by challenging the country to look deep inside its Puritan DNA and rediscover the principle of what might be called the three L’s: limited government, liberty, and living within our means. Give ‘em “L,” Mitt!

Here’s what Romney should do and it might be the strategy that could work to force even a Republican Congress to obey what the Constitution and common sense require. If elected, Romney should pledge to bring in a team of outside auditors and private entities to determine what government ought to be doing and what it might outsource. If a private company can perform a government function with greater efficiency and at lower cost, let it. If a government agency is redundant or no longer necessary, eliminate it.

No “interest group” should be able to exercise more influence than that of taxpaying citizens.

Traditional spring cleaning finds many of us going through closets, basements and attics, disposing of things we no longer want or need. Toward the same goal, Romney should lead a “spring cleaning” of government.

Romney might cite the “Congressional Pig Book” published by Citizens Against Government Waste (www.cagw.org). The 2012 edition, as always, contains examples of wasteful spending in many government agencies.

This year’s “Pig Book” shows that while “the number and cost of earmarks have decreased dramatically since fiscal year 2010,” the accurate amount of waste is difficult to figure because “transparency and accountability have regressed immeasurably.”

Two recent reports from the Government Accountability Office name 51 areas of duplication, overlapping and fragmented government functions, which, if ended, would save an estimated $400 billion. There’s a start to which no one should have an objection.

While President Obama promotes his “Buffett Tax” on millionaires and billionaires, Romney should focus on the government’s waste of taxpayer money. If government is such a poor steward of what it now receives, why should it be given more?

That can be a winning issue, not only for Romney but for Republican congressional candidates. The pledge they should be signing is not only the “no new taxes” one from Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform (www.atr.org), but a new one not to support any additional spending until unnecessary expenditures are cut by transferring many government functions to the private sector and retiring those that are not needed.

[Cal Thomas is America’s most widely syndicated op-ed columnist, appearing in more than 600 national newspapers. He is the author of more than 10 books and is a FOX News political contributor since 1997. Email Cal Thomas at tmseditors@tribune.com.] ©2012 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

Davids mom
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LET'S HEAR ALL OF THE GOOD NEWS!
Quote:

Patrick M. Rooney, Ph.D.
Executive Director
The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University
The environment for philanthropy has been admittedly challenging over the past few years, but one message has come through loud and clear: charitable giving remains a central part of the American fabric. Even through a period of economic stress and volatility, Americans have continued to give.
In 2010, Americans contributed about 2 percent of disposable personal income to philanthropic causes, a number that has remained remarkably consistent over the decades, regardless of economic climate. Today, they may have to dig deeper as their income and wealth have declined, but they have shown they are willing to do that. In a climate of tough economic choices, people still choose to give to charity. They may give to fewer organizations or they may temporarily decrease their overall giving...but they still give.
So in the midst of economic data that lately seems to be negative, we think
we have something to celebrate in America— that our country’s individuals, corporations, and foundations donated $290.89 billion to charity in 2010. Although giving did not set a record high in 2010, $290.89 billion is still a significant sum of money and is an increase after two years of significant decreases.
It would be wonderful to report that our revised estimates for 2008 and 2009 held to the $300+ billion in giving that we estimated last year, but no one fore- cast the extent of what has come to be known as the Great Recession. With new data available from the Internal Revenue Service, we responded to it and made the necessary adjustments as we have in past years. Of course, those past adjustments to the statistics did not include a “great recession.” It is promising to see the 2010 inflation- adjusted increase of 2.1 percent after two years of such steep declines.

. . but no one pretends that we can solve the problems inherited from an economy almost as bad as the depression of the 30's from the charitable giving of wealthy individuals, corporations, and foundations. Americans can be generous WHEN THEY HAVE THE MONEY. Charitable giving is increasing after two years of such steep declines. There is always something to celebrate - but the average American citizen is not adding to his charitable giving budget this year. It would be unwise to feel that we could solve our economic problems based on charitable giving.

PTC Observer
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DM - So the solution is

to force people to give to the government, so the government can skim a little, then pass it on to those that they feel politically worthy to get it, so the people that make these allocations get re-elected by the people getting the money. All the while, the people who really need the money never see it or worse the people that should be "giving" the money use it for themselves. So, we are back to the original point, how do we stop all this corruption? In your world we just continue to do what we have been doing, throw more money at it by forcing people to give it.

No, no let's don't trust individual people to voluntarily give up their money to help the poor, let's force EVERYONE to give up their money and let the government decide. Great solution there DM.

JeffC
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PTCO Somewhat off topic

In fact, only vaguely related.

Nevertheless, I found this Kaiser Foundation Poll about welfare interesting:

Welfare System

Their numbers seem plausible.

PTC Observer
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Hi JeffC

So, what exactly is the point you are attempting to make?

That most people think the government is poorly run? That's a surprise?

Where you been pal?

Busy with getting those Democrats elected?

I think you should prepare yourself for another 2010 style election. It's going to be pretty ugly for the Democrats.

Davids mom
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Kaiser Report

It's encouraging to see that Americans are not extremists who want to throw out the baby with the bathwater. It is also encouraging to note that Democrats and Republicans are not that far apart on their views regarding welfare.
Gosh , I think sometimes politics gets in the way of progress (partisanship)

Davids mom
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Quote:

So, we are back to the original point, how do we stop all this corruption?

Buy going after more than the 107 crooks that have been indicted for corruption of the medicare program. Clean up the KNOWN FRAUD - and then see what is left - and work out a budget that will still provide services to citizens who legally qualify for those services. Most Americans feel that by joining together - deserving citizens should not suffer - especially our returning military. If you don't want to give up your 2% to help your neighbor - so be it. No one is forcing charitable giving - and it is tax deductible . You're entitled to your opinion - and you will not change mine. Tax reform, etc. is needed. We cannot depend on individuals to keep our infrastructure safe, etc., etc., Our founding fathers realized this - and established a Constitution that has worked for over 200 years. We, the people, have taken this country and this form of government for granted and elected persons who have misled us. By showing up at election time - and voting on what we the people want instead of what king makers and corporations want will be of great benefit to the US. . . .IMO.

grizz
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Corruption

The real corruption is in the entitlements going to people that make babies only so that they can 'make a living ' by getting more welfare and foodstamps. The more babies out of wedlock they have, the more government funds they receive. Why work when you can just stay home, be completely irresponsible and pump out wards of the state? This practice is especially prevelant in the black community with an out-of-wedlock birth rate approaching 70 percent.
Stop rewarding irresponsible behaviour through entitlements- that is where the real corruption is.

Davids mom
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Grizz/PTCO

It's called 'oversight and monitoring' to make sure only qualified citizens receive services. Do you know what the current qualifications are? Are these guidelines being enforced? Your tax dollars are paying for this oversight. Why cut needed services because persons you're paying are not doing the job? Isn't the situation with immigration similar? Who is benefitting from this lack of oversight in services provided to the unqualified? CLEAN UP THE FRAUD then make the necessary budgetary corrections.

Davids mom
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Deleted by poster

.

PTC Observer
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Grizz - And

And this pales in comparison to what is happening to SS. It seems that we have a "new disability", it's called "depression due to being unemployed". Under this new "disability", you can apply for disability under SS to get disability benefits. Thus, these people can extend their 99 weeks of unemployment into an indefinite stream of payments from the government. I suppose that those payments will be too little for these depressed people, thus depressing them even more. Sounds a bit like a dog chasing its tail, doesn't it?

This trend is going to completely destroy SS, not that it won't go under under its own weight, this scam will drain the coffers ever faster than expected.

They spell it C O R R U P T I O N. So, DM let's arrest them all, throw them in jail and employ a whole bunch of government guards. Wow, what a concept for improving those employment numbers.

S. Lindsey
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DM the reason a "smaller" Government works

is because there are no duplication of functions.

Did you know there are over 20 Government bureaucracies and 160 "programs" that deal with housing alone..? All of them have the same function the same directive the same funding. WHY?
Here in Georgia remember the Dept of Agriculture and their "Rural" development program?

This from Congressman John Barrow:
"Congressman John Barrow (GA-12) announced today that the City of Glennville will receive a loan of $48,600 and a grant of $25,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Community Facility Loan and Grant Program. The City of Glennville will use these funds to purchase two new patrol vehicles for the Police Department."

Now why is the Department of Agriculture a department that is supposed to handle FARM issues lending money and making grants for Police Cars? They also made Home loans????

This is your money!

The problem DM is that our Government has got so bloated with Agencies, Bureaucracies and "programs" committees et al that we as a people cannot oversee them. That DM is OUR job. We are supposed to make sure our Government is doing what we tell them to do...not the other way around.

The Government is like a Maze with every branch of it leading to another maze leading to another agency of Government. How can we oversee and root out the corruption if we cannot even identify where our money is going and that is the purpose.

This from the CBO report on Government inefficiency:
"The report, requested by Congress last year, lists 34 areas where programs have overlapping objectives or provide similar services. It outlines 47 other areas where Congress could take steps to improve the efficiency of federal programs and agencies, according to the 345-page report."

Over a HALF A TRILLION dollars DM PER YEAR is wasted on just overlapping and duplication of Bureaucratic voodoo.

DM a smaller Government restricted to it's original 18 enumerated powers can be controlled, watched and yes rejected if it once again steps outside the bounds of the Constitution.

Davids mom
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Lindsey

Multitasking.. . most people can work on more than one goal at a time. Once WE have analyzed and see what needs to be done - then strategies are developed to get the job done without throwing out the baby with the bath water. Corruption exists in SMALL government !!! The size of the government is not the answer to our problem - it is the integrity and/or honesty with which the programs are implemented. I think that there are citizens/leaders who if they knew they had the support of VOTING citizens, would be able to clean house, curb fraud, save hard earnd citizen tax dollars and still provide needed services to citizens who qualify for those services. Someone must have known that the Dept. of Agriculture was going to purchase police cars with farming funds - yet it happened, why? Because who was going to stop it? Is there a clause hidden in the bill that allows for this? Does the 'leader' of that district know about that clause? Who was that 'leaders' big election contributor? Hmmmmmmm. Politics has become corrupt - and voters with the power of the vote can change it - but if they stay home and say my vote doesn't count, the the corporations, PACS, and king makers remain in control. Small government? Look at Fayetteville and PTC. All problems solved because of a 'small' government? I don't think so.

Quote:

Bureaucracies and "programs" committees et al that we as a people cannot oversee them. That DM is OUR job. We are supposed to make sure our Government is doing what we tell them to do...not the other way around.

Lindsey - the corporations, PACS, etc., have the leverage - BECAUSE WE THE PEOPLE DO NOT USE OUR LEVERAGE - AND THAT IS OUR VOTE. The strategists tell us this everyday with their 'polls' - which are using 'likely voters' in their poll taking. They know who will vote - and sadly it is not 'we the people'. I have spoken with too many people right here in Fayette County who are FOR limiting who can vote. Their reasoning - because they don't agree with them. Democratic process? That's like telling you when you go to vote for a City Council member of your respective city that you can't vote because you are not for the 'selected' candidate.

S. Lindsey
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DM you are too invested in the Big Government scheme

to realize that we got here by having a small Government until Big Government Progressives like Wilson and Roosevelt came along and turned Americans into Entitlement Zombies.

You are mostly correct in that corruption is an issue. The problem is you BELIEVE. You're a believer DM. You believe in the very Politicians that promise to stop the corruption i.e. Pelosi, Boxer et al.... and then are themselves caught double dipping, giving themselves bailouts, trading on insider info etc..

DM you are admirable for wanting to believe the "good" men and women we send to DC actually have our best interest at heart. Like I said you are a believer.

I know you don't like to answer questions, but please if you will not answer this one at least answer it to yourself...

How do people who are not RICH WHEN THEY WERE ELECTED leave rich on a $120,000 a year salary?

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/12/as-americans-get-poorer-mem...

Davids mom
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Lindsey - my answer

I don't keep voting for them to return. The 'believers' do because they get what they want from them in their local District - and only when we're in a crisis do they pay attention to national issues, and follow what the pundits are paid to say.

PTC Observer
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I know! I know! Lindsey

it's all a coincidence.....you tell him DM!

G35 Dude
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S. Lindsey-The will should start with waste

There are people that deserve help. And this should be the last place that politicians look to cut benefits. I feel like the politicians are playing a shell game with us so to speak. They continue to talk about raising taxes and cutting benefits of programs like social security but very little talk of what waste will be eliminated. They use the argument that SS is one of the government's biggest expenses. They try to make SS recipients feel like welfare recipients. Well SS was paid for by the recipients and they will never get back what they paid in. How would you feel if you bought an insurance policy and legitimately needed to collect 1/2 of what you paid in but the company refused and called you a leach? I know changes need to be made but until I feel like an honest effort to eliminate waste has been made I will not favor a tax increase or reducing the benefits of those that have a legit claim to funds that they paid for. Again many will say that not enough waste can be eliminated. But start there anyway then ask me for more of my money.