DAVID ROSMAN: Who is holding the Republicans hostage?

Thursday, July 28, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

I was planning to write about a young woman from just outside of Mexico, Mo., who spent her vacation last year chasing tornadoes through Missouri, Texas and six other states. It would have been a nice, human interest, “fluff” column. Unfortunately, the president and the speaker of the House are still arguing, and default looms. 

I am writing this on Tuesday morning, so I may be a bit behind the news if (and that appears to be a big if) something positive happens in the next 24 to 48 hours. I doubt that anyone is going to move from his or her current trench.


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I listened with great care to Mr. Obama’s and Mr. Boehner’s renditions of what is going on. I listened to them again this morning.

The White House, the House minority leader and the Senate leader have made compromises. The president has called for cuts amounting to almost $4 trillion in the next 10 years, something fiscal conservatives were originally seeking. The president wants to take the debt ceiling discussion out of the 2012 campaign and increase the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion. He is asking for those who can afford to pay higher taxes to pay their fair share, for businesses that are making billions in profits to pay their fair share and for money speculators, who add nothing to output of this country, to pay their fair share.

Mr. Boehner is talking about a one-year debt increase of $1.4 trillion, deep cuts with no increase in revenues, while taking the issue of the debt ceiling into the political arena once more as a 2012 campaign issue.

National polling shows almost 80 percent of Americans agree with compromise. Compromise is not a cuss word — at least not yet.

What is keeping those on Boehner’s side of the aisle from compromising? It appears that the Republican Party is being held hostage.

First, by a small group of stagnate-thinking super-conservatives who make the Libertarians look like Federalists. Tea party activists are loud, sometimes obnoxious, while taking politics to new lows in terms of adult debate. If they had their way, federal taxes would be eliminated completely. In fact, it is my opinion that if the tea party activists could manage it, the federal government would be all but dissolved, leaving the states to fend for themselves, the president and Congress as figureheads, and reverting our nation back to 1789 financial and political status. The states would then be the next targets.

By the way, we had a national debt in 1789, well before social programs and the Department of Education and the Federal Reserve, the super conservatives’ two favorite targets.

The other hostage taker is Grover G. Norquist, a person few have heard of until this week. And why should you? He has no political standing except as the leader of a fringe anti-tax group. Somehow, though, he has been able to have conservative federal and state candidates sign a no-new-tax pledge.

He is founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, which, according to its website, was founded at the request of President Reagan. But the ATR site gives little information about Norquist, other than his affiliations. You need to do a bit of digging to find out more.

Norquist is a Harvard MBA graduate and was an economist and speech writer for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Other than being the executive director of the College Republican National Committee, he is a behind-the-scenes guy. I do know from personal experience that it was Norquist who rallied Coloradans to vote for the infamous TABOR amendment. In Missouri, it is called the Hancock Amendment.

So how does this group of political neophytes and someone with a funny name and a nonsensical pledge hold such sway and control over all Americans? I cannot answer this either.

I contacted Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer’s Columbia office to get a feel of the goings-on. According to Rep. Luetkemeyer’s Columbia press secretary Paul Sloca, “…the split on calls is about 60 in favor of Republican (/House) approach versus 40 percent for the president’s/Senate approach.”

This sounds contrary to the national polls, so … have you called your member of Congress today?

David Rosman is an award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics.

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Ellis Smith July 28, 2011 | 8:27 a.m.

One thing IS clear. When all the smoke of battle clears away the current DEBT will still be there.

You can't whitewash that.

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Christopher Foote July 28, 2011 | 12:34 p.m.

It seems illogical that in the debt ceiling debate, congress is arguing over two plans that will have a deleterious effect on the unemployment rate. Both Reid and Boehner's plans will reduce GDP over the next three years:

My understanding is that for every 2-3% decrease in GDP there is a 1% increase in unemployment (Okun's Law):

In an atmosphere of +9% unemployment, Congress's focus should be on increasing employment, not reducing it.

If our congressional representatives were informed (or acted in the best interest of the country), they would pass a clean hike in the debt ceiling and not make a bad economic situation worse.
Lastly, I find it a bit hypocritical that the Republicans think it is all right for the US to not pay its obligations. They already voted for the debt we have by passing legislation that increased the national debt. The majority of the debt incurred in the last 10 years from new spending is due to legislation that passed Republican controlled congresses as well as a Republican led executive branch. If they were so concerned with spending, they should have reduced it, not increased it, when they had the opportunity.
Not raising the debt ceiling is a bit like purchasing a new car with a credit card and than when the bill comes due, telling the credit card company you won't pay them because the car was too expensive.

(Report Comment)
Tony Black July 28, 2011 | 2:23 p.m.

What happened to the job, jobs, jobs the Republicans ran on in 2010? Not 1 jobs bill. McConnell showed their true colors. "Our main objective is to make Obama a one term president." Not help our economy, not create jobs, not prevent our country from defaulting on it's debt, but to stop Obama. Hey, they thought it was ok let the banks and Wall St. out of their debts, why not the government? Because there is no one to bail us out. How can they even consider taking from the poorest of the poor but not the richest of the rich? If I made 250,000 a year, I could afford another $7500 in taxes, and would gladly pay it. But if I was on a fixed income of $3000 a month, I couldn't afford a $6400 increase in my Medicare. Any rich folks care to chime in as to why you can't help the country that made you rich?I know, they worked for it. Sure, the Walmarts of the world could have done it without the little people, right? They were just helping us out.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 28, 2011 | 5:15 p.m.

What "obligations" will not be paid if no deal is reached.

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Michael Williams July 28, 2011 | 5:19 p.m.

As to "where are the jobs?"....there will be no significant enhancement of jobs growth (on the order of 350K/month that is needed to make progress on the unemployment numbers) UNTIL entrepreneurs and other business folks feel the business climate risk is sufficiently low.

It's been a "sentiment" issue, it is a "sentiment" issue, and it will remain a "sentiment" issue.

(Report Comment)
david smith July 28, 2011 | 5:24 p.m.

Obama's $4 trillion dollar plan relied heavily on tax increases with illusionary cuts in spending, a typical democrat ploy to continually feed their addiction to spending.

Again David Rosman, the top 1% of wage earners pay close to 40% of the total income tax with the bottom 50% paying no income tax, can you define fair share please? All the libs talk about the rich paying their "fair share" which is a typical wealth redistribution tactic from their communist playbook.

The US has the second highest corporate tax rate in the world, just slightly behind Japan. Libs want to increase the taxes on corporations in the US and then wonder why companies open new factories overseas.....brilliant logic. Yea Dave, tax those corporations, they need to pay their fair share. The end result is the corporations pass the costs of their tax hikes right down to the consumer or hire less people or send jobs overseas and the people that the Democrats seek to protect (or to make dependent on government) are the ones they end up hurting.

Hey Tony Black, I do make over $250,000/year and I can afford to pay $7500 in extra taxes per year. You want me to pay that then fine, I will budget accordingly like most responsible people do and that $7500 is coming straight out of the economy. So what you and the rest of the libs want is for the rich to pay their "fair share" (despite the fact that the top 1% of wage earners pay 40% of the income taxes) and the result will be that the $7500 doesn't goto any of the businesses in Columbia, it goes to the almighty US government, the responsible body of the US for which has spent too much and gotten us into the mess we are in. Like giving an alcoholic a bottle of whiskey and the keys to the car. And Tony, don't be gullible and fooled by Obama's teleprompter, no plan to address entitlements has any effect on people who receive medicare today. The only medicare people who are currently screwed are the ones who have Medicare Advantage and Obamacare was the one that screwed them, yes democrats, imagine that.

David, you call those tea party people "obnoxious", you want to see obnoxious David, goto youtube and type in "code pink" or "G8 riot" and you will see some liberal-style protesting, now that is OBNOXIOUS!!!!!!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 28, 2011 | 6:11 p.m.

"We must tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect." - Attributed to Harry Hopkins, head of the WPA and generally considered to have been the most ideological of all the principals in the New Deal.

Hopkins' ideological heirs definitely have the taxing and spending parts down pat. :)

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 28, 2011 | 6:37 p.m.

Ellis: Actually, I checked out on this article when Rosman made the "funny name" comment.

Told me more than David intended.

Hopefully he won't start in on "Williams", "Foote", "Ellis", and "Black".

"David" and "Smith" and "Michael" seem safe, tho.

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Gregg Bush July 28, 2011 | 7:26 p.m.

"As to "where are the jobs?"....there will be no significant enhancement of jobs growth (on the order of 350K/month that is needed to make progress on the unemployment numbers) UNTIL entrepreneurs and other business folks feel the business climate risk is sufficiently low."
The definition of blackmail.

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Michael Williams July 28, 2011 | 7:41 p.m.

Gregg says, "The definition of blackmail"



You don't spend your money until you want you?

Are you spending your money TODAY like you were...say...5 years ago?

I bet not.

So, why would you expect others to behave different than you?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 28, 2011 | 8:10 p.m.

Holy crap! Popup T-storm. Tree down in front yard from what had to be 60 mph straight wind and torrential rain. Thought it was a tornado for a minute. Look out Columbia, here it comes!!!!!!!!!

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Corey Parks July 28, 2011 | 8:11 p.m.

Tony Black: Put your money where your mouth is.

Your right $7500 is not much when you make $250k. Hell I think the govt should just take 75% and bring them down to the same amount the rest of them make. Who are they to be earning that much money to begin with. They probably will not even notice it is gone. I mean they are already paying 55-65% what is 10% more?
The govt should be using that money from the "rich" to pay for the services that the unemployed need like cell phones and cable and 20 inch rims and ATV's and steaks.
It is so unfair that the low income are expected to contribute to the country.

Foote. What obligations will not be paid after the magic August 2nd deadline? Will the US not continue to bring in 181 billion a month and will they not still only have to pay the 163 billion in bills each month? They could use that remaining 18 billions to either continue all the things like shrimp treadmill testing, ground hog museums and electricity/housing/job training vouchers or they could pay that towards the debt. My guess is as long as they can keep using that extra money to prolong the social programs to keep people poor and pump money into student loans keeping tuition costs high they will always have people to vote for them.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush July 28, 2011 | 8:38 p.m.

In Raymond Chandler, that's always what the extorter says. Reality - it's just reality.
Too bad some folks are busy banning books - we need to read more.

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Michael Williams July 28, 2011 | 8:51 p.m.

But Gregg, you didn't answer the questions:

You don't spend your money until you want you? Is this your reality?

Are you spending your money TODAY like you were...say...5 years ago? Is this your reality?

Why would you expect others to behave different than you? Is that realistic thinking?

Do you have an alternative proposal?

What do you have in mind?

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david smith July 28, 2011 | 9:10 p.m.

Yea, blackmail, you own a business and don't want to spend money on capital equipment or hiring employees because you have some liberal community organizer who has passed a health care plan in some smokey back room with cornhusker kickbacks that will increase your labor costs and also he continuously threatens to raise taxes on business. The logical decision is too hold your cash until these idiots get voted out. If people don't like that then take the risk, start your own business and pay Obama yourself.

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Mark Foecking July 29, 2011 | 5:34 a.m.

david smith wrote:

"and that $7500 is coming straight out of the economy."

This has been a part of Republican dogma since Reagan, but it isn't true. Money paid in taxes does not disappear from the economy. It is spent with any number of private firms (defense contractors, for example), on goods and infrastructure that create local jobs, and federal employees spend money in their communities.

Installations like military bases and federal research facilities have a positive economic effect on the surrounding communities.

I can see the argument that you might want to be free to spend your money the way you want to. But the argument that tax dollars disappear from the economy is flat out false.


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Corey Parks July 29, 2011 | 6:54 a.m.

I am with DK. That money may not be going to the city the person lives in but it is definitely going to the US who in turn gives it to 2.25 million people they employ to allow them to spend it as they will.

Of Course:
Some is also going to Pakistan and Israel for military purposes and some is even being send to Brazil so they can drill for oil. 6 billion is a lot of money to be sending else where but in the grand scheme of things these days it is just a drop in the bucket.

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Tony Black July 29, 2011 | 8:30 a.m.

Daivid Smith-Yes the bottom 50% pay no INCOME taxes, but do pay other taxes. The top 1%, according to Forbes magazine, have more wealth than the bottom 50% combined. The top 400 richest people have more wealth than the bottom 50%. So, Mr. Smith, if you don't mind paying more, call Boehner and tell him so. Put YOUR money where your mouth is. And you don't think a senior citizen paying $6400 more for Medicare is a bad thing? Hmmm.
Coey Parks- So all lower income people are leeches that have cell phones and 20" rims? I don't have 20" rims on my car and I'm not rich. But I don't take welfare or anything. I guess I should. Then I could lead a better lifestyle. What you're saying is blatantly racist. And you pay 55-65% in taxes? That's funny. Warren Buffett says he pays an 18% rate, while his secretary pays far more, percentage wise. Watch Fox News much?

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Greg Allen July 29, 2011 | 8:47 a.m.

I commonly see the figure that the top 1% of wage earners pay 40% of the taxes. I also read recently that they control 80% of the nation's wealth. Put these two together, and they're still paying less, percentage-wise, than their fair share.

Statistics, sadistics...

Mr. Parks: I'm not sure it's racist, but it certainly is classist. If we're going to include stereotypes, how much does the illicit drug trade impact the local economy?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 29, 2011 | 8:49 a.m.

Money paid in taxes does not disappear from the economy.

This is true.

If I have the money, I get to spend it where and when I want. If the government has the money, it gets to spend it where and when it wants. Spending-wise, a main difference between the political parties is where to spend it. Indeed, I believe the primary purpose of getting elected is to gain the ability to decide where and how to spend someone else's money on the "peoples'" behalf (what a rotten sentence...four infinitives???).

If I keep the money, then I get to favor one vendor over another. I can spend it on Chief's tickets...or a great meal. A plasma TV...or an ounce of gold. Donate to charity...or go to the casino.

The government does the same thing; it favors one over another based upon the current occupants and philosophies.

Everyone I know believes some taxes are important to our society. The only differences are (1) how much and (2) what are we spending it on?

But I DO understand David Smith's point. If the gov't takes his $7500, then the gov't nets $7500 and David loses $7500. The gov't gains the ability to decide how to spend David's money, and David loses the ability to decide how to spend his money. David may get pissed at this and start making decisions on how to spend whatever money remains in his control....things like slowing his purchases or perhaps not expanding his own business and efforts. You see, the two things the gov't CANNOT do is (1) read your mind and steal your ideas and (2) make you work efficiently.

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Tony Black July 29, 2011 | 8:51 a.m.

Not all poor people are leeches, just as not all rich people are greedy. Do we reward the ones that are scamming the system in order to help the ones who really need help, or do we punish the ones the need help to prevent the scammers from gettting something they shouldn't. If I could figure out a way to distinguish and pay only the really needy, I would be rich. In the meantime, there is no answer to suit everyone. Some rich are going to scam the tax system and not pay at a proportionate rate, and some poor people are going to collect benefits not due them. Fix both and our problems, while not solved, would be fewer.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller July 29, 2011 | 9:00 a.m.

Two questions--Who is empowered to determine how much wealth is too much? And, who is to redistribute that wealth that is deemed in excess of one's need?

(Report Comment)
Tony Black July 29, 2011 | 9:03 a.m.

And you are right Mr. Allen, classist is a far better description than racist.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 29, 2011 | 9:12 a.m.

J Karl Miller asks, "Who is empowered to determine how much wealth is too much?

Me! Me! Pick me! Pick me!

PS: To my knowledge, NO liberal on this forum or any other has had the cajones to answer your first question...out-loud.

There's no end to those willing to answer the second, however.

(Report Comment)
Tony Black July 29, 2011 | 9:21 a.m.

And who is to decide who is too poor and needs help? I don't know if it is to determine how much is too much. It's more that if you have 8 cars and 6 homes and more money than you could spend on necessities in a lifetime (and still live a VERY comfortable life), shouldn't you be willing to give back to the country that allows you this freedom. I go back to the Walmart example. Would Sam Walton have been so rich, had he not had the minimum wage folks helping him do it? I read somewhere, not a chain email, and have not investigated or substantiated this claim, that 80% of Walmart workers would be eligible for food stamps on their Walmart salary alone. I know the Kronkes and Lauries contribute lots to charity, and I respect that, but again, would it break them if they paid 3% more in taxes? I make nowhere near the money they do, but 3% wouldn't break me.

(Report Comment)
Tony Black July 29, 2011 | 9:27 a.m.

And if you wouldn't mind paying another 3%, again, call Boehner and tell him.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 29, 2011 | 9:39 a.m.

Michael Williams:

You may employ or split infinitives if you wish ... but don't you dare display any dangling participles! Participles may only be dangled in private.

Somewhere, my 9th grade English teacher is laughing.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 29, 2011 | 9:41 a.m.

Tony: So you think the additional 3% will fix things and make everything hunky-dory? The budget will be fixed and remain so? The debt will disappear?

No. In Washington and everywhere else that fiscal irresponsibility reigns, spending expands to meet and exceed the income. Many of us believe the proper way to fix things is control spending first, then we can talk about taxing ourselves and others.

A person in debt needs to get spending under control BEFORE asking for more money.

Same thing countries.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 29, 2011 | 9:46 a.m.

Ellis: I don't like infinitives much. Using too many is evidence of weak writing (see my sentence above). But, dang-it, sometimes a good infinitive just demands itself, an' sometimes it just has to be split.

9th grade English teachers notwithstanding.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 29, 2011 | 9:51 a.m.

@ Michael:

Just be careful where you dangle your participles.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 29, 2011 | 9:58 a.m.

Folks bemoan that the middle class has lost ground to the rich.

Well, why did the middle class lose ground?

Was it because of lousy wages? Well, there's a minor argument to be made for that.

But I maintain that the middle class is responsible for most of its own problems. Instead of investing wisely, purchasing things that would make it MORE wealthy, it bought....CRAP!

It bought plasma TVs, it bought cars that folks thought they would look good in, it bought more house than wages justified, it bought cool cell/TV service at in-excess of 100 bucks/month.,,,it bought everything EXCEPT things that would make it wealthier.

And every damned time it bought CRAP, just where do you think that money went?

It went to all those "horrible" rich folks who provided the goods that YOU demanded in the first fricking place!!!!!!

What the hell did you expect was going to happen?

STOP BUYIN' CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!

And stop blaming the rich for providing what YOU asked for.

(Report Comment)
Tony Black July 29, 2011 | 10:14 a.m.

Wow. So, we don't meet our obligations, even though the ability is there. Just like those stupid Wall St./ big bank guys.
I'm sorry I didn't buy a vacation home and whatever else you deem correct. I thought food on the table was a bettter plan. You know, every single low income home I go into has a plasma tv and a Lexus in the drive.
Forgive us, oh wise one, for we only followed your example, unaware that we we not worthy.
Again, classist is a better description than racist. I am going to work now, so if you don't get a response from your all knowing answer, it isn't because I don't have one. I have more important things to do than to hear how those rotten poor folks brought it all on themselves.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 29, 2011 | 10:29 a.m.


Who's talking about the poor?
I didn't.
I'm talking about the middle class.
The poor are a different topic.
You changed the subject.

(Report Comment)
Tony Black July 29, 2011 | 3:47 p.m.

Ummm, I have been talking about the poor all along. You switched it to the middle class, probably because you are stumped. And if you think the middle class deserve the situation they are in now, I can only imagine what you think the poor deserve.

(Report Comment)
Tony Black July 29, 2011 | 3:58 p.m.

David Smith. I am 52. If the Republicans get thier way, I will get screwed out of my Medicare and Social Security that I have been paying into for 35 years. I get a letter every so often from SSI telling me my retirement dates and income expectations. Whatever should I do with those now? I have been told for 35 years that's what I will get and now they want to "reform" it? Read eliminate.
Teleprompter? Still going there, eh? Palin writing on her hand isn't enough to quell that? Rush uses notes. Beck just gets his info beamed in, I guess. Boehner and Cantor have never used notes or a teleprompter? Bush just had an earpiece with someone telling him what to say. Better tune in Fox (they use teleprompters, too) and get your lastest talking points.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield July 29, 2011 | 4:13 p.m.

"Money paid in taxes does not disappear from the economy."

What if the money isn't paid? Sure, David Smith could chose to pay the extra $7,500 and then not spend that amount on dinners, lawn care, hardwood floors, etc. Or he could do like me: work less.

Why would I put in the extra time and effort when doing so means that my income reaches a point where the government takes a bigger portion? Imagine if employers said, "When you hit 40 hours, anything after that is paid at 80% of your hourly rate." It's the same thing with taxes: Why work more when the returns diminish after a certain point?

That's why I cut way back on my work. In the process, other people will have to work more to make up for what I would have paid in taxes in an upper bracket.

(Report Comment)
Tony Black July 29, 2011 | 4:19 p.m.

Jimmy, when you cut back on working, your income goes down? Are most of the top wage earners, the million dollar crowd, paid by the hour? I always thought they got a million bucks if they worked an hour or 12. Most of the rich folks I know don't get paid by the hour.

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle July 29, 2011 | 4:46 p.m.

I'm not able to tell what the thread is now "about," but to return to the columnist's question ("Who is holding the Republicans hostage?"), it seems to be their own ultra-right wing band of Me-Partyers. They've locked the entire caucus into a "no-compromise" position. In so doing, they're holding the entire country hostage at the moment. I predict that "Tea-Party" is going to become a toxic brand very soon.
Meanwhile, I thought the Republicans considered themselves efficient, and ready to govern..."business-like," and all that. Clearly, they are none of these things. They need to get their act together quick, so they can pass this piece-of-theater bill that already has NO chance of passing in the Senate (that's what "no-compromise" stances do to House bills).
PS: And where are all the jobs that the Bush tax cut extension was supposed to bring?

(Report Comment)
david smith July 29, 2011 | 4:57 p.m.

Not that easy in my profession, I refuse to work then people die. Tony seems to think I am out on my yacht eating caviar served by poor people and not in the operating room at 2am taking care of some drunk, uninsured lake of the ozark guy for free, which I dont mind.

If there are no changes to medicare then you wont have any medical coverage when you retire, get a clue, that entitlement system is going down the drain on the path it is going so make adjustments now or forfeit the entitlement. You can thank Washington for their inability to manage that entitlement. One of Obama's arguments for his terrible health care plan was that he was going to cut the $500 billion dollars in waste from medicare to pay for it. Wow, that sounds great, we are going to pay for this new government health care plan by cutting the $500 BILLION IN WASTE FROM THE OTHER GOVERNMENT HEALTH CARE PLAN. Great management.

People argue that money paid to the government in taxes goes into the economy and albeit some of it does:

"The sidewalk to nowhere - $89,298: A small town in Oklahoma received stimulus money to replace a quarter-mile stretch of sidewalk that was replaced only five years ago. The sidewalk reportedly "led to a ditch."

- Studying and photographing ants - $1.9 million: Yes, that's right ... $1.9 million was given by the federal government to the California Academy of Sciences so they could send researchers to the Southwest Indian Ocean Islands and east Africa to "capture, photograph and analyze thousands of exotic ants." The information is to be used to catalog the thousands of ant species throughout the world. Helpful? For some people, yes, but should it qualify for tax money?

- Forest Service to replace windows in closed visitor center - $554,763: The visitor center at Mount St. Helens in Washington state was closed in 2007 and has no plans to reopen. However, the government designated half-a-million dollars of stimulus money to replace the windows, a prime example of misdirected funds. I know ... it's mind-boggling."

So you can spend that $7500 in the columbia economy or give that money for things like the above projects, nice.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams July 29, 2011 | 6:01 p.m.

TonyB: You were screwed out of your social security and medicare LONG before the activities of this past decade. Blaming it on anyone currently in office (or in the near past) is intellectually dishonest on your part. Many of us figured SS was a lost cause a long time ago. Personally, I quit thinking of SS as a retirement plan circa 1990. I made my own plans, instead.

And, yes Tony....if you slow down your work, your income goes down. Many folks do this deliberately to avoid increasing their marginal tax rate...i.e., advancing into a higher tax bracket. I did it, too, when I realized that further increases in my company's revenue (i.e., growth and more hiring) would cause each and every "next dollar" to be taxed at a combined 50%. So, I didn't grow and I didn't hire.

TimT: And where are all the jobs that the Bush tax cut extension was supposed to bring?

I dunno. Probably the same place as the jobs promised by the current administration ca. 3 years ago.

DavidS: I maintain ALL money that goes to the government pay someone's salary and stays in the economy...except that which is paid to foreign gov'ts/businesses. It may go to federal workers in the various departments, or highway construction, or military industries/armies, or space programs, or SS, or unemployment, or wherever. The same is true in private industry: ALL money eventually pays someone's salary...somewhere down the road.

The only differences are (1) Who does the payin'?, and (2) To whom does it go? And THAT is the only difference between political philosophies. Further, gaining control of how to answer both questions is the ONLY reason to seek election.

(Report Comment)
Tony Black July 29, 2011 | 7:18 p.m.

And who approved the sidewalk to nowhere? Or the bridge to nowhere? the ant study? The window replacement? My problem is everything is blamed on the current administration (ie: Fox News)but who is really to blame? Put the truth out there, not the political spew! And no Michael, there has been no talk, other than from Republicans, on cutting my Medicare and SSI. Prove otherwise. And again, if you are salaried, how does a "work slowdown" change anything? Prove otherwise.

(Report Comment)
Tony Black July 29, 2011 | 7:19 p.m.

Oh and the we didn't create jobs but neither did you BS sounds childish, but I digress.

(Report Comment)
Tony Black July 29, 2011 | 7:24 p.m.

By the way, I haven't counted on SSI for years either, but so what? It was promised to me, deliver!

(Report Comment)
Tony Black July 29, 2011 | 7:33 p.m.

David, I never said you were on your yacht eating caviar. A clever misguidance but not lost on me. An uninsured guy? Sounds like a case for universal health care if I ever heard one. If you don't mind, why bring it up? What kind of doctor are you that makes $250,000 a year? If it's that well paying, why do we hear constantly that doctors are struggling to pay $100,000 in med school costs? Or is this a case of don't ask, don't tell, only with salaries?

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks July 29, 2011 | 8:34 p.m.

You have to wonder about a person who reads something that does not identify race, age, jobs or location and immediately pulls the racist card. He is either himself racist or a Liberal Politician.

I also notice that you seem to take a lot of things personal. For being a 52 year old male you should have learned a little grace and civility. Be happy with what you have and enjoy your days. Most others do. I am sorry your life has not turned out like you would have liked it too its a little late in the game to be trying to bring others down now.
It is also hard to comment on specifics since you keep referring to others as rich and you as not rich. I know people that make 175k a year and are definitely not rich just as I know families that make 75k a year and definitely believe they are. It is all perspective.

FYI Warren himself may pay a lower tax rate then his secretary but you can be assured that Berkshire Hathaway which he owns pays a heck of a lot more then most people on the planet. Just like I as an individual pay less then most others but my business more then makes up for it.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks July 29, 2011 | 8:45 p.m.

Michael: Your right about that. People have been screwed out of portion of SS since August 15, 1935. The fact that the money was never actually saved for that person and the Act was written in a way that specifically stated that it belonged to the Govt and could be used and distributed in any manner they see fit.

I am 35 and have known since i got my first job in HS that I would never seen that money and have never counted on it. I just looked at it as my monthly charity donation. I do feel bad for those that have always took it as truth and believed it was to be their retirement and not just supplementing their retirement funds.

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frank christian July 29, 2011 | 8:54 p.m.

Jimmy B. - Your oft repeated scenario of your earning actions when faced with high tax rates is exactly the case for the failure of the Carter Administration. I know of local business men whom during that era would have liked to expand, but with the added taxes decided, why bother! Liberals, to sell their product can never deal with human nature. They just continue to add 2 and 2 and expect that 4 will always be correct answer,e.g. if we tax this much, then we will collect this much. You, as does the rest of our work force prove time and time again that this ain't the case. Tony B. and the rest of them can't accept this, thus like the amoeba, they keep bumping their little heads against the wall of reality and pretend they know what they are talking about. Tony Black it seems, has picked up enough points in liberal horse puckey that he feels confident that in repeating it, he can make sense. He does not.

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frank christian July 29, 2011 | 9:21 p.m.

The "centrist"?, Tim Trayle poses another pertinent question: "PS: And where are all the jobs that the Bush tax cut extension was supposed to bring?"

Sir, Bush tax cuts brought all the jobs that they were supposed to bring. Obama and all the liberals (excluding you)knew that the effective increase in taxes thru the expiration of the Bush cuts could very well stop what little growth their policies had produced and reverse the trend. To think that they gave/give a damn about "jobs" is asinine. Their concern is the elections and Their employment.

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John Schultz July 29, 2011 | 9:58 p.m.

Tony, did someone force those minimum wage earners to work for Wal-Mart at that salary? The only time I've worked for minimum wage was a part-time warehouse job during college. I never thought to ask for a higher wage, but I also don't think what I did for my employer was exceptionally difficult either. In retrospect, it didn't take too terribly long to hire a new person and train them how to pack the products we had, fill orders, and so forth. The higher-level folks who had worked there longer than I did probably had college degrees or at least attended some college. Most of the guys on the floor didn't have degrees and I would say most had not attended college. At least one of the guys had a kid he was paying child support for and another got fired for thinking it was OK to fire up a pinch hitter behind the warehouse racks. What do you think Wal-Mart's demographics might look like?

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John Schultz July 29, 2011 | 10:46 p.m.

Tony, even the poor could afford to retire rich if the federal government didn't confiscate part of their paycheck for Social Security. Check out a previous letter from me that the Missourian printed here:

I haven't had a progressive, liberal, what have you that can argue against the math. A little over $100/month (i.e. couple cartons of smokes, rent-to-own, pricy cell phone plan, etc.) lets one retire with more dignity than can be provided by Social Security.

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Tony Robertson July 29, 2011 | 11:18 p.m.

"Tea party activists are loud, sometimes obnoxious, while taking politics to new lows in terms of adult debate."

David: Were you out of the country from 2003-2008? Have you never heard of Bill Maher's HBO program? Or 90% of the programming on MSNBC? Keith Olbermann ring a bell? Journ-o-list? Ever visited

Granted, I'm no "award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics", but jeez, even I know the quote of yours I pasted above is male bovine dung.

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Michael Williams July 29, 2011 | 11:31 p.m.

Tony Black July 29, 2011 | 7:19 p.m.

Oh and the we didn't create jobs but neither did you BS sounds childish, but I digress.

I don't know what this means........

Tony: The fact that your SS benefits are going to be cut was known years ago. Only Republicans and Libertarians have been willing to talk about it, which is why you only hear them discuss it. No Democrat will talk about such a happening; its base would crucify them.

You would do well to read John's article linked above. I realize it may be too late for you to correct things for your retirement, but not so for your kids.

Anyone who doesn't have $600K-$750K-or-more in true assets stashed away by the time they are 55 is looking at bad dreams and horribly-negative adjustments to their lifestyle. Can you retire on $24K/year, take deductions for Medicare part B, AND deal with the $1 for $2 reduction for everything you earn on a job over $14.4K should you stay employed?

Hope so. It borders on poverty, tho. But that's what SS means for YOU.....

Can you retire at age 62 with $250K in the bank earning 5%? Well, if you take out 30K/year, don't live past age 74 because you are OOM.....out of money.

Anyone under 40 better be paying attention to this math, even if you are PO'ed at me.

JohnS: Yes, privatization is the way to go. I'd even agree to 4 or 5 gov't plans dealing with "Things you can invest in" like bonds, t-bills, munis, etc. I like privatization because it can make you REAL money for retirement PLUS it's heritable. The latter is the most important to me.

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Ellis Smith July 30, 2011 | 7:08 a.m.

Let's explore the PHILOSOPHY behind Social Security.

Our government recognizes that you (every one of you) and I are too irresponsible, and too improvident to provide financially for old age, so in their infinite wisdom the folks in Washout, D. C. in 1935 took pity on us and provided us with a magnificent plan that allows us to be "financially secure" in our "declining years" (which describes me).

Unfortunately, there is more than a kernel of truth in the government's assumption of personal improvidence: we have people in this country - some with Ivy League educations - who will spend everything they get as fast as they can get their hands on it.

So what we have is warped version of the parable of the Grasshopper and the Ants, except that the government has guaranteed that no matter what happens to the Grasshopper, the Ants also will be screwed.

"When government decides to solve something, we have learned to be wary. The cure may not always be worse than the disease, but it is usually bigger and costs more." - Ronald Reagan (1972)

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Tim Trayle July 30, 2011 | 8:14 a.m.

The philosophy behind social security was to help ensure that the elderly would not face complete poverty in their declining years--that had been the traditional fate of countless numbers of the elderly.
But social security was never intended to be a total solution to retirement (nor was it available to all--Southern white politicos made sure it didn't apply to domestic or agricultural labor, the two largest categories then of black labor).
Of course, it was implemented in a period when U.S. citizens were more careful savers than they have been for the last several decades.

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Jimmy Bearfield July 30, 2011 | 12:58 p.m.

Tony, my urologist makes about $210K, according to the blue book. I don't know how much he has to pay for malpractice insurance, but other physicians tell me they pay $100K annually for their practices.

"Jimmy, when you cut back on working, your income goes down? Are most of the top wage earners, the million dollar crowd, paid by the hour? I always thought they got a million bucks if they worked an hour or 12. Most of the rich folks I know don't get paid by the hour."

That ain't how it works. Also, keep in mind that there are only about 8 million households worth $1M or more. There just aren't enough rich people to soak in order to pay for all of the services people think they need. That's why Congress won't permanently peg the AMT to inflation: They know that the middle class is where the real money is.

BTW, why don't you badger some of your rich friends to pay higher taxes?

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hank ottinger July 30, 2011 | 1:39 p.m.

Although not specifically germane to Mr. Rosman's piece, the following may be of interest to those who've been commenting about Social Security (which, incidentally, is solvent until 2036). There are proposals to tweak the system, and this article provides some insight and information about those.

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Corey Parks July 30, 2011 | 2:49 p.m.

For the life of my I can not figure out how they keep saying SS is solvent for x amount of years. They might as well just say the system went off the tracks and the govt spent the money and is now using a pay as you go. To throw out a mythical date is insulting.
Fact is the "entitlements" from the govt over the years to include healthcare and SS have bankrupted the country because the money boys in accounting could not leave well enough alone.
We had a briefing a while back about the cost of healthcare in the military and they are talking about the sky rocketing costs and we will seen be spending over half the defense budget on healthcare.

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John Schultz July 30, 2011 | 9:34 p.m.

Here's what I take away from that NYT article:

About 43 percent of single people and 22 percent of married couples rely on the benefits for more than 90 percent of their income, the Social Security Administration says. More than half of couples and 73 percent of singles draw more than half their income from the program.

(Report Comment)

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