Sunday, November 26, 2017

Lois Lerner – The Gift That Keeps Giving

When hundreds of conservative political groups were targeted by the IRS, preventing their formation during the 2012 election, the opposition to the election of President Obama was blunted.  Lois Lerner was at point in this dubious effort.  Her punishment: a “well earned” retirement with full benefits after decades of loyal public service.  Lois can now fade into the sunset at the taxpayer’s expense.

But not so fast.  Lerner is back to argue that the closed-door testimony she gave should not be made public because she could be exposed to grave bodily harm if it were.

So how is it that a woman who famously told us that she did nothing wrong – after, of course, pleading the 5th.  Maybe folk in her department were a bit zealous but, as President Obama stated, there wasn’t a “smidgen” of corruption.  So how do we square Mrs. Lerner to the threat of grave bodily harm?  We can’t because, most likely, both positions are false.

It is far beyond time that taxpayers have light shed on what happened behind the IRS Curtain, the deeds that were done, the finger pointed to the guilty, and maybe, just maybe, some justice dispensed.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Real Tax Reform

The GOP crows its tax reform plan of $1.5 trillion over a decade.  Sound large?  Not really.  Over the same period of time the federal government will spend some $53 trillion.  Or, to put this in perspective, the tax plan is less than 3% of total spending.  Also note, the government will run up another $10 trillion of debt on top of the $20 trillion of debt that already exists.

Real tax reform needs to come from real spending reform.  A man who has been a CFO of two major corporations remarked that any CFO worth his salt can find ways to cut spending 5% before the morning’s coffee - and that is in a healthy corporation.  That percentage jumps to 20% without having to make any hard decisions when the attention is turned an inefficient, ineffective, and wasteful government.

Now 20% on $53 trillion is nearly $11 trillion . . . or close to 10 times the number proposed by the GOP.  Now that would be real tax reform that would put real money in people’s pockets, and towards the repayment of the debt.

The call to action here is to contact your representatives to tell them $1.5 trillion is a good down payment, and then to proceed to real tax reform!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

North Korea Prospects – Diplomacy with Strength

At the end of October, Abraham Sofaer, Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, gave a lucid presentation about the North Korean threat.  The good news is the war of words between Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump is just that – words.  Sofaer recounted a history of words between the countries for the past 50 years.  If actual war was in the wind, he continued, so would be its characteristics of recalling American personnel overseas and the building of armed forces, which has not yet happened.

Sofaer then went on to say that the only “acceptable” resolution is diplomacy, which can only be brought about by a combination of extreme economic sanctions, deals with North Korea and China, and a large buildup of nuclear and anti-nuclear technology surrounding North Korea.  This three prong approach constrains North Korea into a mindset for meaningful talks.

The bad news is that the level of cost, diplomacy, deals, and secrecy may be beyond our government.  The weak link in this chain is secrecy, as the bitter hatred of Trump from within, and the media from without could frustrate the sensitive and secret talks that must take place if a sound agreement that protects the peace is to be reached.

Sofaer noted that secret talks have frustrated all modern presidents but it can be done noting a case-in-point with Henry Kissinger.

There is a path forward with North Korea that is defined and practical, but it will be challenging.