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The political system is still broken

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By Robert E. Beckner

It’s the first of the New Year and a good time for families to check on their financial positions, to see if 2008 was as bad to them as they feared. It would be great to know if you could now plan for that dream vacation to Hawaii or perhaps a cruise to far away countries you’ve always wanted to visit.

I’m sure with the two years of constant campaigning for the many government offices, you have heard how taxes were being discussed, some actually going to be raised. Well, let’s look at some figures that come from the U.S. Department of the Treasury/Federal Reserve and by the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis. They are a nonprofit, non-partisan foundation with a proven record of protecting the interest of taxpayers.

There is an old saying, “forewarned is forearmed.” so let’s see what the experts say.

It appears that our president, supported by Speaker Nancy Pelosi from San Francisco, one of the most powerful and most liberal members of Congress, has said, “Tax relief does great damage to our country” and that tax cuts are “fiscally reckless and morally irresponsible.” As the leader of liberals in Congress, they want to first see to it that the historic tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 by President G.W. Bush, which are set to expire next year and are now being targeted to see that they do just that – expire.

This would be the easiest thing for liberals to do, just do nothing instead of seeing they are all made permanent. This act on the part of the liberals would cause an average tax hike of $1,716 for 100 million Americans. This would also see working families facing the “marriage penalty” that will punish, just in Florida, 1,176,623 couples or nationwide, 44 million couples, an average of $1,480. In addition, it will bring back the infamous “death tax” to grieving families. The estimate here will be $91 billion in increased taxes.

Some 17 million seniors will see an average tax increase of $2,084, if the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 are allowed to expire. The overall tax increase faced by American families, seniors and businesses is $2.4 trillion, will mean more than one million lost jobs and over $ 100 billion less in economic output, plus slower wage and salary growth for working families.

The Congress knows, they see an increase in taxes via the expiration of the tax cuts, that they can say is not a tax increase. Clearly, they want to raise taxes to pay for all the new welfare programs and re-distribution of funds (your taxes) that has been clearly stated during the election campaigns. Congress is also aware of the number of jobs, 8.3 million, that were created after the 2003 tax cuts.

In 2008, Congress also spent on frivolous “pork” projects that were taxpayer funds, to reward local special interest and pressure groups. Where all this is going to lead is currently unknown; but how much more can American’s take in taxes?

We must not forget the biggest slap in our face that Congress gave us –receiving a $4,700 pay raise recently. Their salary is now up to $174,000 per year, surely all believe it was not warranted, deserved, earned or justified and was handed out in their usually underhanded method of not voting for it or even voting against it. That’s why Congress only has a 15 percent approval rating by the public.

Look at the amount of money our government owes to foreign governments and investors, a total of $2.67 trillion, representing 20 percent of our total gross domestic product (GDP). This figure is growing rapidly.

In 2001, China held $61.5 billion in U.S. debt. Now, it’s $541 billion. The second largest amount owed, $585.9 billion to Japan, is higher.

How did this happen? Our major WW II enemy now owns this much of America’s wealth. It should be the other way around.

Who are these people we have elected? Where is the leadership? It appears in their mind that it is better for many to suffer than a few to take responsibility for their actions. We, of course, are paying interest on all this debt to foreigners.

In 2001, we owed Russia less than $10 billion. Today, it’s $74.4 billion. We sent them food, armaments, tanks and planes – all to defeat Nazi Germany in WW II. Has all America forgotten that? Do they even care?

Russia should owe us. The lend lease was never repaid, just forgiven. We are such a merciful and forgiving people.

Let’s not forget what happened to Great Britain. Today we owe them $307.4 billion, our third largest creditor. After WW I, Britain’s global power declined in part because America “owned” so much of Britain’s debt. Is this what is in store for America, due to our owing so much debt to the rest of the world?

There is no doubt that debt can affect our standing in the world. Two more large U.S. creditors are the OPEC nations (oil) $179.8 billion, and the Caribbean banking centers $147.7 billion. There are a total of 19 other countries we are in debt to.

It’s so very clear our current politicians have borrowed with no conscience to finance their spending and it’s finally caught up with them and we are all paying for it through the credit, mortgages and loan debacle, bailing out companies that had terrible leadership and let their Unions get what they wanted for the past 30 years. It will all only stop when the public decides to step up and assert their god-given grassroots power to have a huge impact on these policies now being debated. Just remember, what they decide will affect you.

A perfect example of all this is the City of Chicago. It is run by two senators, a representative, the governor, house leader, attorney general, and mayor – all Democrats. It’s also a major combat zone, with the body count for the last six months of 292 murders vs. 221 killed in Iraq.

Their state pension fund is $44 billion in debt, worst in the country; (Cook County) Chicago’s sales tax, 10.25 percent, is highest in the country. Its school system rated one of the worst in the country, (Washington, D.C. is worse). Can you believe they are all blaming each other, because there aren’t any Republicans to blame.

Who is going to “fix” Washington politics for us? Makes everyone think twice about taking a vacation or spending any money you might still have.

Robert E. Beckner lives in Majestic Oaks with his wife, Sarah. He is a retired private investigator and insurance adjuster. He has also been a photographer and served with the Military Police in the Marine Corps.