Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fort Sumter was the Result

Today is the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the civil war. Fort Sumter was shelled and the war began. Since the war, our culture has both deified and demonized various generals, participants, and leaders. We know that the civil war is viewed differently within our country and many today view their ancestors as hero’s, regardless of which side they served on.

I believe that people need to understand what was happening that led to hostilities between Americans. Partisan politics had reached a point where listening to the opposition had ceased and compromise was unthinkable. The debate on state rights and the role of the Federal government was loud, shrill, and demonization of your opponents was commonplace. Expansion of slavery into the west was a complex issue which had been punted down-field by different administrations and Congresses time and time again.

From my point of view, many different issues,- each a powder keg on their own - were stacked up by the politicians of that day. Many of these issues where allowed to fester through inaction and thus become even more explosive. Then on this fateful day, the match was lit and our nation was consumed for the next four years by bloodshed and destruction.

Many lessons were learned by those who survived the battlefields of our Civil War. One was that the people need places to remember what binds us together. One of the many positive results of the lessons of war was the creation of the Grange in 1867, a local organization with national scope that teaches its members that listening to opposing viewpoints is a part of developing workable solutions to real problems was a great moment.

Take the time to remember what led our ancestors to take up arms against their brothers. The issues were many and all had a role in the firing upon Fort Sumter. One of the lessons for us is to ensure that we never again create the environment where great numbers of Americans feel that they have no voice or choice. Your local Grange still remains engaged in bringing people in your community together. From educational efforts in local Granges to the National Grange Legislative Fly-In, our organization remains committed to giving voice to every individual.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Budgeting is not a Partisan Blame Game

Watching our elected Representatives, Senators, and the President trying to shift partisan blame to each other while the budget clock ticks down is irritating. Is a 1.5 trillion dollar deficit not enough to get their attention?

I hear the media and many in Congress asking for compromise. What I don’t remember hearing is any of them talking compromise over the past few years of accelerated budget growth. The real compromise I want to hear is both sides sitting down and discussing what will be cut or reduced. Which is worse for our economy, unrestrained growth in our debt or tightening the belt and making due with what we have?

Greece and Ireland have both needed to be bailed out of their financial crisis. There are a number of other European countries that are close to following suit due to their government overspending. If we as a nation do not stop our out-of-control spending, who will bail us out?

The partisan shouting may be loud over the budget, but I’d rather that we take the credit card away from the children who can’t stop spending and let adults who pay the bills make choices, even if those choices are hard. I hope that our elected officials will demonstrate that they are responsible adults who deserve the opportunity to serve us.

I have a hunch that there are a lot of Americans who are more worried about our future than which party “wins”.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Is Congress having trouble finding the holes in the belt?

Congressional efforts to pass a budget that reduces the deficit for 2011 – the fiscal year which ends September 30 – would be humorous if you and I were not on the hook for the out-of-control spending. After watching the last Congress fail to pass a budget and the current Congress continuing to fund our nation through short-term spending bills, the big question is if anyone is willing to act like a grown up.

The original 2011 budget was estimated to have a $1.27 trillion deficit. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) now projects a deficit of close to 1,500,000,000,000 dollars. There are a whole lot of zeros in that number!

The House of Representatives is arguing to cut $61 billion and the president and Senate are proposing smaller cuts. It seems that our government doesn’t want to cut the budget too much, and every proposed cut or reduction has its vocal critics.

Using the CBO revised projection of a deficit of close of $1.5 trillion, we understand that every day since October 1 our national government spent a little over $4 billion more than we took in. That means the $61 billion in proposed cuts amounts to about 15 days of the deficit spending and that still leaves our government with the money we actually pay in taxes.

Few Americans haven’t tightened their own budgets in the past two years. Many of our families still have someone unemployed or only working part time. I think that this is a time to put partisan politics aside and make some hard and thoughtful choices. If we search for only programs that no one uses, we will never get the spending under control until it is far too late.

The 2008 budget had a deficit of $458.6 billion, which was a historic high. To argue that the current $1.5 trillion deficit – at about three times the 2008 high point – cannot be reduced by about 4 percent without devastating effects is absolutely ludicrous.

A growing national debt will have devastating effects on every American. I want every elected official to work to avoid the pending disaster that is not too far down the road. If you punt the issue down the field once again, I have a hunch that I will not be the only voter who remembers. I believe that the American voters will reward those who work to reduce the deficit with thoughtful choices, no matter how hard those choices are.

Just like millions of other Americans, I am working to reduce my personal debt and tightening my own belt, and we expect Congress to follow our example.