Blog Archives

  March - Jan. 2014    June - April 2014    Sept. - July 2014  
  March - Jan. 2013   June - April 2013   Sept. - July 2013   Dec. - Oct. 2013
  March - Jan. 2012    June - April 2012    Sept. - July 2012   Dec. - Oct. 2012
  March - Jan. 2011   June - April 2011   Sept. - July 2011   Dec. - Oct. 2011
  March - Jan. 2010   June - April 2010   Sept. - July 2010   Dec. - Oct. 2010
  March - Jan. 2009   June - April 2009   Sept. - July 2009   Dec. - Oct. 2009
  March - Jan. 2008   June - April  2008   Sept. - July 2008   Dec. - Oct. 2008
  No Blogs   No Blogs   Sept. - June  2007   Dec. - Oct. 2007

September - July 2014

9/29/14 (E minus 36) – The budget is on autopilot, and so are a lot of other things        Read a Reply

After assembling in Washington on September 8, the members of Congress acted on a handful of items while putting off many others, engaged in some political posturing, and then recessed a week earlier than scheduled. 

9/22/14 – Trivializing the Constitution

The Constitution must be frustrating for big government fans, for it doesn’t clearly support Side A’s ideas about how the country should be run.

9/15/14 – Shareholder value is OK, but cronyism is a problem        Read a Replies

It’s an article of faith in some quarters that economic problems are generally caused by deficiencies of the private sector and can best be addressed by giving more power to government regulators.

9/8/14 – Global economic data raise questions about current policies

Advocating ways to “Secure America’s Future Economy” tends to be a full time job, so we generally don’t pay much attention to the global economy.

9/1/14 – Global warming cures that aren’t needed and would cost a bundle        Read a reply

Big government fans (Side A) have been known to dismiss the arguments of smaller government fans (Side B) as equivalent to opposing “any and all government regulations.”

8/25/14 – Watch out for a power grab on immigration

What ever happened to the surge of youthful would-be immigrants that some saw as a breakdown of law and order and others labeled a humanitarian crisis?

8/18/14 – An update on the Social Security shortfall

Some people regard Social Security as the crown jewel of the New Deal; others see it as an intergenerational Ponzi scheme. 

8/11/14 – Don’t give up on Congress, the alternative could be far worse

Our national legislature is often faulted for inaction during periods of divided government, and this year has been no exception.

8/4/14 – American history redux 

A year ago, we took a look at the Common Core (CC) standards for K-12 schools and concluded that the critics are right.

7/28/14 – Don’t forget the fiscal problem!        Read Replies

If something is unsustainable, as economist Herb Stein famously noted, then eventually “it will stop.”

7/21/14 – Mapping a perplexing political landscape

Our starting point will be a Pew Research Center study, which includes a national poll (January-March 2014, 10,013 respondents) and supplementary polling of a subset of the sample. 

7/11/14 – Corporate welfare has nine lives

In line with its smaller, more focused, less costly government agenda, SAFE has often suggested the elimination of corporate welfare.

7/7/14 – Revisiting the illegal immigration problem

A recent e-newsletter on “comprehensive immigration reform” began by noting that the Senate passed S. 744, Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act in June 2013 by an over 2/3 margin, and went on to urge that the House take up the matter.

 

June - April 2014

6/30/14 – Is DC supporting the economy or undermining it?

What is the number one concern of the American public?

6/23/14 – The Constitution: presidential term of office

We recently suggested that a constitutional convention “would be a long shot – but the idea should not necessarily be rejected out of hand.”

6/16/14 – SAFE to Congress: Bin the Clean Power Plan 

There seems to be so much bad news these days that even major concerns don’t register for long in media reports or the public’s consciousness.

6/9/14 – The Clean Power Plan: another proposed power grab         Read Replies

A big story last week was the publication of an EPA proposal (Clean Power Plan) to force a major reduction in CO2, etc. emissions by imposing state specific goals for reducing carbon emissions from power plants.

6/2/14 – It’s not a slam-dunk, but some progress on tax reform may be possible

SAFE favors revenue neutral tax reform (RNTR), meaning that (1) tax preferences (deductions, credits or exemptions) would be eliminated, broadening the tax base, and (2) tax rates cut so as to raise the same overall amount of tax revenue. 

5/26/14 – Thoughts about the VA scandal         Read a Reply

Suddenly, the big story in Washington was excessive wait times in the Veterans Administration, claimed deaths of patients awaiting treatment, and efforts to cover up the scandal.

5/19/14 – Opportunity is the best answer to economic inequality        Read a Reply

Last week, we considered and rejected the thesis that taxes on high earners and the wealthy should be hiked as a way to counteract growing economic inequality.

5/12/14 – A clever but deeply flawed rationale for Robin Hood economics

Everyone seems to be talking about economic inequality these days, from the president (more on his perspective in a minute) to the pope (http://tinyurl.com/m9osonw). 

5/5/14 – The scourge of political dishonesty

Do politicians have a constitutional right to lie while practicing their art?  And if so, do their surrogates and supporters enjoy the same protection?

4/28/14 – Doubling down on campaign finance “reform”

Every citizen of voting age is entitled to one vote in elections, with the exception of some convicted criminals, so in theory the rich have no more say than anyone else. 

4/21/14 – Bundy ranch showdown shows erosion of rule of law        Read Replies

The footage is reminiscent of the classic style of western movies, in which the good guys generally outnumbered the bad guys and invariably occupied the moral high ground.

4/14/14 – Ryan budget dismissed as a “meanwich”        Read Replies

We suggested a month ago that House Republicans could find more productive things to work on than an alternative budget plan for fiscal year 2015. President’s fiscal plan is a nonstarter; now what? 3/10/14.

4/6/14 – Why can’t Side A think like we do?        Read Replies

Here’s a shocker: Human beings believe what they want to believe, and it’s tough to change their minds. 

March - January 2014

3/31/14 – The liberty amendments        Read Replies

While all other sciences have advanced, that of government is at a standstill - little better understood, little better practiced now than three or four thousand years ago. - John Adams

3/24/14 – Healthcare “reform” is a work in progress         Read a Reply

Remember the point in our holiday blog entry of 2013 that conservatives need to master the art of telling stories.

3/17/14 – A word to the wise: look before you leap

In his well-known book, “Seven Habits of Highly Successful People,” the late Stephen Covey offered a series of seemingly obvious – yet often overlooked - principles for the achievement of personal and business success.  http://yhoo.it/1evWQsq

3/10/14 – President’s fiscal plan is a nonstarter, now what?

The president’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2015 (http://1.usa.gov/1jmJlPu) resembles last year’s version.

3/3/14 – Step right up, it’s a government plan

Today is the 132nd anniversary of Charles Ponzi’s birth, and SAFE member Harry Thompson of Tucson, AZ has suggested that we should “offer a tribute to how Ponzi provided the blueprint that helped FDR create” the largest program of the US government.

2/24/14 – Side B can and must offer a better plan            Read Replies

Last week’s entry argued that current government policies (fiscal, monetary and regulatory) are penalizing the productive sector of the economy while subsidizing idleness.

2/17/14 – Tax work, subsidize idleness, and batten down the hatches

Here is an argument that big government fans (Side A) often invoke to justify expanding the government and/or restricting the private sector – just a little more won’t hurt. And let’s face it, they are probably right in some cases.

2/10/14 – There must be a better way to hold presidents accountable         Read a Reply

Presidential leadership might be thought of as the engine that makes our national government go, while Congress serves as the brakes.

2/3/14 – Some reflections on SOTU address            Read a Reply

The State of the Union address on January 28 attracted a comparatively small television audience; it was as though Americans had heard the message before and didn’t want a repeat.

1/27/14 – Despite contrary evidence, global warming alarmists stick to their guns        Read Replies

Brrr, it’s frigid out there – as many Americans have observed. Wonder who decided that the Super Bowl should be played in East Rutherford, New Jersey (Met Life Stadium) this year, rather than further south. 

1/20/14 – Time to get serious about budgeting

One of the most obvious approaches to address the fiscal problem would be to defund wasteful government programs or activities versus attempting to cap or roll back spending on an across-the-board basis.

1/13/14 – Pocketbook issues in an election year            Read replies

With the economy continuing to sputter, the president and his party are pushing two “quick hit” ideas to bolster employment and alleviate hardship for lower echelon workers: (A) Reinstate “emergency” unemployment insurance (UI) benefits that expired in late December, and (B) hike the minimum wage, e.g., from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.

1/6/14 – Ignorance of government policy is no excuse

Last year was hardly terrific.

December - October 2013

12/23/13 – Not by bread alone 

Although the economic picture has brightened in recent months, the gains won’t last without structural changes. 

12/16/13 – The great bank robbery        Read Replies

Who or what caused the financial crisis of 2007-2008, which began with a bursting bubble in housing prices and subprime mortgages and spread to the entire banking system? 

12/9/13 – Regulate or subjugate?        Read a Reply

Government bureaucrats may be focused on promoting the general good, but some of them operate rather aggressively.

12/2/13 – Senate Democrats execute “nuclear option”            Read Replies

Some observers lauded the November 21 vote to end the filibuster for vetting presidential appointments (excluding Supreme Court nominees) – about time they said!  Others called it a naked power grab, designed to further a sinister political agenda.

11/25/13 – Some thoughts for Millennials – part 2

The Can Kicks Back (TCKB), a Millennial-run organization with high-level connections, has posted a position paper entitled Swindled: How the millennial generation will pay the price of Washington’s paralysishttp://swindled.thecankicksback.org/

11/18/13 – Some thoughts for Millennials, part 1

Given chronic deficit spending and continuing growth in the national debt – not just during wars or emergencies, but almost every year – younger Americans were bound to notice they were at risk of getting stuck with the tab.

11/11/13 – Budget talks resume, sides remain far apart        Read  Replies

The budget conference committee (BCC) is scheduled to meet again at 10:00 a.m. on November 13.

11/4/13 – The website is fixable, but GovCare has deeper problems

Americans do not expect their political leaders to leap tall buildings at a single bound or make water run up hill.

10/28/13 – Let’s make a deal: some thoughts for the budget conference committee        Read Replies

Just about everyone seems to agree there will be no “grand bargain” on the federal budget this year, but perhaps there could be a small bargain.

10/21/13 – The government shutdown ends, with unresolved issues aplenty

The president signed the “Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014” in the early morning hours of October 17, following evening passage by the House and Senate.

10/14/13 – On the cusp of a crisis in DC        Read Replies

This time it was not a White House adviser, but the president himself, who was likening the Republicans to terrorists.

10/7/13 – Humans can be replaced, and then what?        Read replies

The last several entries have been about the budget showdown, which predictably led to a “government shutdown” starting on October 1.

9/30/13 – Dems to GOP: Shut up and sit down            Read Replies

Note: This entry was informed by a lively discussion of the budget/GovCare showdown at the SAFE board meeting on Sept. 26.

9/23/13 –  Into the budget breach once more, but this time . . .        Read a Reply

With one week left until the start of a new fiscal year, Congress has yet to authorize continued government spending after September 30.

9/16/13 – Who or what is to blame for the mess in DC?          Read a Reply

There is no shortage of criticism of the political conversation in Washington (and many states as well), but our view is different than most.

9/9/13 – No more excuses, it’s time to fix the fiscal problem          Read Replies

Dear Members of Congress:

9/2/13 – Less is more: a 10-step plan to reboot the economy

The US economy has been floundering since 2009, with anemic economic growth, not enough jobs, smoldering inflation, erosion of basic government services, and stealthy tax increases.

September - July 2013

8/26/13 – An economic reality check: part 3        Read a Reply

Most Americans tune out predictions of future financial crises, no matter how well founded, but pay attention to economic results in the here and now.

8/19/13 – An economic reality check: part 2        Read a Reply

With Congress in recess until September, this seems like a good time to kick the tires of the US economy.

8/12/13 – An economic reality check: part 1        Read Replies

Our March take on the economy was pessimistic.

8/5/13 – Will Common Core standards enhance US education?

A recurring theme in this space has been that a free market beats central planning for making economic decisions, any day of the week. 

7/29/13 – The next budget battle takes shape        Read Replies

With the members of Congress clearing the decks for another recess (aka “state work period”), positions are being staked out for the budget battle that will take place after they return in September.

7/22/13 – Distractions from the failings of government       Read a reply

How will smaller, more focused, less costly government ever be achieved if government action is constantly being urged to solve problems that don’t exist, have been greatly exaggerated, or should be addressed in other ways?

7/15/13 – Reflections on a GOP survey             Read Replies

Let’s do something a bit different this week, and work though a survey/fundraising request being used by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

7/8/13 – Surprise: GovCare employer mandate postponed until 2015            Read a Reply

Judging from what was posted on the Department of Health & Human Services website last week, everything was going fine with the GovCare rollout.

7/1/13 –  Sorry, but the economic basics still matter

Imagine a baseball team that aspired to a successful season but neglected to practice batting and fielding.

June - April 2013

6/24/13 – Fixing a broken immigration system: another approach

Having concluded that immigration reform is needed (6/10/13) but rejected the pending Senate bill (6/17/13), SAFE will now offer its own suggestions.

6/17/13 – Fixing a broken immigration system: the proposal             Read a Reply

Last week’s entry concluded that the immigration system is in urgent need of repair

6/10/13 – Fixing a broken immigration system: the goal

The R word does not appear in the title of the “gang of 8” bill (S-744, Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, http://1.usa.gov/18S2zrm), which is currently making its way through the US Senate.

6/3/13 – SAFE’s latest letter to Congress

This week, SAFE is sending a letter to the 535 members of Congress urging them to get serious about the fiscal problem.

5/27/13 – Aging in Delaware (and elsewhere)            Read Replies

Growing older in Delaware is something many SAFE members know a thing or two about, so it caught our attention when the (Wilmington, DE) News Journal announced this Imagine Delaware forum (evening of May 20).

5/20/13 – Kabuki theater in DC             Read Replies

It’s all well and fine to advocate sound economic policies, but don’t count on such policies being followed if the body politic is ailing.

5/13/13 – Congress in action: Internet sales tax bill

It’s easy to think of legislative solutions to perceived problems that have fallen short of the mark. 

5/6/13 – A status report on the fiscal problem            Read Replies

INTRODUCTION - The US Treasury currently expects to reduce federal debt in the second quarter by $35 billion.

4/29/13 – Some food stamps history and where to now

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (aka food stamps) expanded greatly between 1969 and 2000, albeit with two periods of retrenchment, and it has exploded since then.

4/22/13 – Will another fiscal year start without a budget?

This entry will seek to accomplish three things: (A) Wrap up our analysis of the president’s budget proposal; (B) Report some outreach efforts on this subject; and (C) Factor in the overall political situation, which has shifted dramatically.

4/15/13 – President’s budget plan

Approved by the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate, respectively, the congressional budget plans (for fiscal year 2014 et seq.) seemed irreconcilable.

4/8/13 – Outside perspectives on the fiscal problem

The usual preview of the president’s budget proposal is starting up, but we will withhold comments until the document is published (now expected to happen on April 10, over two months late) and we have a chance to review it.

4/1/13 – We must connect with the Millennials

On the evening of March 18, about 250 people showed up at the Cheer Center in Georgetown, Delaware to eat a buffet dinner and hear what was billed as “the truth” about climate change (aka global warming) and sea level rise.

March - January 2013

3/25/13 – When budgets collide

In normal course, the president’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2014 should have been submitted around February 4.

3/18/13 – A sobering review of recent developments – part two           Read Replies

If you thought the March 11 entry (questioning whether a stock market run-up, somewhat encouraging jobs report, etc. truly herald an economy on the mend) was a bit of a downer, this week’s review of “bad” and “downright ugly” developments may seem truly dreary. But “forewarned is forearmed,” as the adage goes, so the following information is being reported as a public service.

3/11/13 – A sobering review of recent developments – part one

We considered a good news/bad news essay on the current situation, but could not find enough genuinely good news to make it work.

3/4/13 – We can’t keep spending like this

Republicans have been struggling of late to support two traditional party goals – low taxes and fiscal responsibility.

2/25/13 – An update on the Keystone Pipeline             Read Replies

We plan to cover the sequester brouhaha soon, but it has not yet reached the boiling point (nor will it until after the across-the-board spending cuts kick in on March 1).

2/18/13 – Government “investment” will not solve the fiscal problem         Read Replies

In his State of the Union address, the president referred repeatedly to the need for bipartisan cooperation.

2/11/13 – More tax revenue would be nice       Read a Reply

A recurring claim of the Left in discussions about shrinking the deficit is that taxes were unwisely cut during the Bush administration and must be raised to help set things straight.

2/4/13 – Never the twain shall meet            Read a Reply

Let’s begin this week’s entry by inviting readers to take a test.

1/28/13 – Back to the drawing board after inaugural address             Read Replies

There has been much discussion already of the president’s second inaugural address on Monday, January 21, which as the calendar fell was also Martin Luther King Day.

1/21/13 – Five whoppers: a sampling of misleading statements

Propaganda presents information about a subject in a way meant to deceive.

1/14/13 – A tax overhaul is way overdue

The fiscal cliff deal (aka American Taxpayer Relief Act, or ATRA) won’t materially reduce deficits, and the tax increases involved (there weren’t any spending cuts to speak of) will slow if not abort a weak economic recovery.

1/7/13 – Fiscal cliff debacle is over, but other issues loom

Congress finally acted on New Year’s Day to avert (or more accurately recover from going over) the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

December - October 2012

12/24/12 – Five golden rings         Read Replies

Why is SAFE still working on the day before Christmas?

12/17/12 – Fiscal cliff notes            Read a Reply

The latest DC budgetary showdown has been focused on averting the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ at yearend versus making good policy choices for the longer term.

12/10/12 – Never mind a war on obesity            Read a Reply

Last week’s entry provided an overview of what to expect as GovCare is implemented: continuing run-up in healthcare and healthcare insurance (HCI) costs, many Americans still without HCI, growing federal (vs. employer or state government) control, and de facto healthcare rationing (especially for the elderly). 

12/3/12 – The GovCare muddle

The Republican mantra since 2010 has been that GovCare  (aka Obamacare) must be repealed and replaced, while Democrats have been pushing to get the legislation implemented.

11/26/12 – RX for the fiscal cliff             Read a Reply

Last week’s entry provided an overview of the fiscal cliff – what are the elements, what are people saying about it, and where do the negotiations to avert it stand.

11/19/12 – Stepping back from the fiscal cliff            Read Replies

Six months ago we previewed the fiscal showdown that could be expected after the elections.

11/12/12 – If all else fails, appeal to self-interest

SAFE has been advocating smaller, more focused, less costly government since 1996.

11/5/12 (E minus 1) – Decision 2012 is just the beginning            Read Replies

This blog has focused on the upcoming elections for months.

 10/29/12 (E minus 8) – Foreign policy debate comes down to domestic issues

The third presidential debate (PD3) did not reveal foreign policy differences between the president and his opponent such as might logically determine who should win the election.

10/22/12 (E minus 15) – Lawyers do not necessarily make great leaders    Red Replies   

What is the probability that a Harvard Law School graduate will be sworn as president next January?

10/15/12 (E minus 22) – SAFE’s jobs manifesto

Ah, ah, ah, don’t touch that dial – listen to Blon-die.

10/8/12 (E minus 29) – The first presidential debate was instructive        Read Replies

Much has been written about the first presidential debate of this year’s campaign, which took place in Denver, Colorado on October 3, with some 60 million Americans tuning in. Body language, demeanor, tone of voice. 

10/1/12 (E minus 36) – Opportunities close to home            Read a Reply

“All politics is local,” as the saying goes (geekbooks.com, http://bit.ly/ORVdOD), and somewhat similar considerations apply for policy advocacy, i.e., one cannot expect to make a lot of sales without personal engagement. 

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September - July 2012

9/24/12 (E minus 43) – Reflections on the Constitution at the 225-year mark        Read a Reply

SAFE has traditionally concerned itself with government policies versus politics, but our smaller, more focused, less costly government agenda has hardly been a “best seller.”

9/17/12 (E minus 50) – Federal Reserve launches another monetary policy experiment   Read a Reply     

Reactions to current problems can have bad results down the line, as many of us have discovered in our personal lives.

9/10/12 (E minus 57) – Convention slogans express what will be at stake in November        Read a Reply

The national political conventions no longer select presidential candidates; they simply ratify the state primary results.

9/3/12 (E minus 64) – The presidential race will be intense        Read a Reply

However this year’s battle for the White House turns out, it will have a markedly different feel than the last presidential campaign  – and we think the changes will be for the better.

8/27/12 – Don’t panic about sea level rise        Read Replies

Without meaning to pick on the News Journal, we would like to comment on an in-depth series on sea level rise (SLR) that the First State’s largest newspaper ran last week.

8/20/12 – Dueling claims re Medicare         Read Replies

It was conventional wisdom inside the Beltway that Mitt Romney should avoid picking Paul Ryan as a running mate.

8/13/12 – Success is not a lock, but it is worth striving for

In February 2005, to begin on a historical note, SAFE directors Jerry Martin and Bill Whipple attended a Cato forum on Social Security reform.

8/6/12 – A recent political ad deserves a real response 

A 1969 report of a presidential candidate (Richard Nixon) being “sold” like a brand of soap or cigarettes was viewed as somewhat startling.

7/28/12 – Who needs Congress if the Executive Branch can make the laws?        Read Replies

It has been said there are two approaches to constitutional interpretation.

7/23/12 – Another busy week for SAFE

From time to time, this blog offers tips for SAFE members and other fiscal visionaries.

7/16/12 – Raising taxes on high earners            Read Replies

We’ll set the stage for this week’s discussion by recapping two Wall Street Journal essays (sorry, links not available).

7/9/12 – Assessing the GovCare decision

The US Supreme Court upheld GovCare on June 28, confounding our recent prediction that they would find the individual mandate unconstitutional and possibly strike the entire act.

7/2/12 – Professors facilitate national decline        Read Replies

Does the academic elite in this country have a liberal (aka progressive) mindset?

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June - April 2012

6/25/12 – The imperial presidency returns

SAFE’s primary role is to evaluate public policy issues and suggest constructive solutions.

6/18/12 – GovCare saga

The US Supreme Court will soon (by June 30) announce whether the 2010 healthcare legislation (GovCare) is or is not constitutional. 

6/11/12 – Kill coal, lights out?

To recap what has been said so far in this three-part series on coal power and the logical alternatives:

6/4/12 – Coal succession planning            Read Replies

Last week’s entry reviewed the case (both environmental and economic) for moving away from coal as a source of energy for generating electricity.

5/28/12 – Coal power is out of style

The president expressed his distaste for coal-fired power plants during the 2008 campaign, and his administration has acted accordingly.

5/21/12 – Coming attractions: lame duck session            Read a Reply

If Congress meets between the November elections and early January of the following year, legislators on the way out (aka “lame ducks”) can potentially vote for bills their successors would block. 

5/14/12 – What about the Export-Import Bank?        Read a Reply

In reviewing government programs on a comparative basis, one can easily get confused.

5/7/12 – The student loan iceberg

The latest issue in the budget war is about a proposed extension of the halving of student loan rates that was enacted in 2007 and is scheduled to lapse on June 30.

4/30/12 – Beware the Debt Bubble      Read replies

Most observers would agree the current economic situation is dismal, but there seems to be some confusion about what to call it. 

4/23/12 – Fiscal visionaries should be positive when possible

Americans may understand that the budget needs to be balanced, we recently commented, but they don’t appreciate incessant “we can’t afford it” responses to the relentless litany of stories about deserving and/or needy people who will suffer if spending programs are cut.

4/16/12 – Time to reset the central bank

Switching gears, let’s talk about an area of government that tends to operate under the radar because it is viewed as outside the political (shudder!) process. 

4/9/12 – Bitter budget battle building

After House Republicans unveiled a spending cut and tax reform package on March 20, the other side quickly lined up in opposition.

4/2/12 – A real world skirmish over energy policy

In advocating smaller, more focused, less costly government, SAFE has traditionally concentrated on national policies.

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March - January 2012

3/26/12 – House budget opponents circle the wagons        Read Replies

Spending cut proposals from last year’s House budget report generally carried over in the new version of the “Path to Prosperity” that was unveiled last week, and proposals for a tax overhaul represented a welcome bonus.

3/19/12 – A tale of two videos            Read s Reply

A week before Americans went to the polls in 1980, candidate Ronald Reagan addressed a question to them:  “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

3/12/12 – Don’t believe everything you hear        Read replies

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns.

3/5/12 – Can this country be saved?

We began this week’s entry with some seemingly random thoughts on topics ranging from Charles Ponzi’s birthday to a pending court case and the partisan divide in Washington.

2/27/12 – House Ways and Means should get moving

Rushing in “where angels fear to tread,” SAFE sent a February 1 letter to the members of Congress suggesting four points for action in 2012. http://bit.ly/wcMHT8

2/20/12 – Budget lands with a thud

The president’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2013, including an updated projection for the years through 2022, was delivered to Congress a week ago.

2/13/12 – Plumbing the depth of the fiscal hole

The president’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2013 et seq. is expected today.

2/6/12 – Spreading the word and achieving impact

Following last week’s entry, SAFE sent a one-page call for action to every member of Congress. http://www.s-a-f-e.org/contacting_legislators_2012.htm#020112

1/30/12 – SOTU finesses fiscal responsibility

Did a White House speechwriter stumble across SAFE’s “to do” list for Congress (see our 1/16/12 entry) and decide to contradict every point in the State of the Union (SOTU) address?

1/23/12 – Cut defense spending with care            Read Replies

It is a myth that conservatives agree about everything, ask anyone who has attended a SAFE board meeting or two, particularly when it comes to defense spending.

1/16/12 – SAFE offers DC a “to do” list for 2012

The nation’s legislators are returning to Washington, but it appears unlikely that Congress will get down to business before, say, the week of February 6.

1/9/12 – About those recess appointments

As anyone who has been paying attention knows, the president saw fit to appoint four individuals to high-ranking positions while Congress was out of town for the holidays.

1/2/12 – Happy 2012, and why it’s time to focus on taxes        Read a Reply

Our last entry (12/19/11) counseled fiscal visionaries to disdain “grandiose plans for future action” and “start demanding real corrective action in the here and now.”

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December - October 2011

12/19/11 – Beware the planning disease; it takes action to get things done

Last December, in the wake of the mid-term elections, we said it was “nice to look forward to a new Congress in which fiscal visionaries will have a chance to do something besides hanging on for dear life.”

12/12/11 – Jobs, jobs, jobs, but how?

The latest US employment data were seen as encouraging, with the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate falling from 9.0% to 8.6% in November.

12/5/11 – Bin the payroll tax cut       Read Replies    

Until Americans recognize the urgency of the fiscal problem and demand corrective action, there is little hope for a solution.

11/28/11 – Tax cuts for rank and file now; tax increases for the wealthy in 2013

Last Monday, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction announced it had deadlocked due to “significant differences.”

11/21/11 – GOP economic plan offers some good ideas, but weak execution

Our review of Democrat proposals to promote economic recovery was not complimentary.

11/14/11 – “We can’t wait” campaign is a farce

History does not repeat itself, but certain patterns keep recurring.

11/7/11 – Flattering and cajoling the “Super Committee”         Read Replies

Another meeting took place on November 1, perhaps the most revealing public meeting yet of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. 

10/31/11 – Decision time for the Joint Committee         Read Replies  

What a surprise!  The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is deadlocked over spending cuts vs. tax increases, with its November 23 deadline just around the corner.

10/24/11 – Wasteful spending: the EEOC has outlived its usefulness

SAFE member Alan Richter, PhD of Spokane, Washington, recently offered two suggestions for reducing the deficit – abolish the EEOC, “which is a waste of taxpayer money,” and disenfranchise voters who do not pay income taxes.

10/17/11 – Bloom Energy could be the last straw        Read Replies

If you think the push for wind, solar, etc. power is all about manmade global warming (MMGW), think again.

10/10/11 – Joint Committee must get back to basics        Read Replies

On October 6, the SAFE board reviewed our position vis-à-vis the proceedings of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.

10/3/11 – JC update: hunting for a painless solution        Read a reply

The members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction have been given a unique opportunity to work across the House/Senate divide in a bitterly split Congress.

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September - July 2011

9/26/11 – “Happytalk” revisited and what to do about it        Read a Reply

Some readers may recall an entry deploring one-sided political rhetoric, which at the time seemed well nigh unstoppable. “Happytalk” blossoms in the nation’s capital, 7/6/09.

9/19/11 – Elementary, my dear Holmes

There are 16 pieces in a chess game, which can only make certain moves, and 64 spaces on the board.

9/12/11 – A tempting offer: spend now, pay later

With apologies to the People’s Court, this week’s entry might be summed up like this: “The problems are real, the proposed solutions political, and the prognosis uncertain.”

9/5/11 – Federal Family Flim Flam            Read Replies

The week of August 22-28 brought two natural disasters in the eastern United States, an earthquake and Hurricane Irene.

8/29/11 – Congress’s ratings hit new lows: some thoughts about the stats         Read Replies

Other observers are still talking about the debt limit deal and the Joint Committee it spawned, but we are up to date on that story for now and will shift to another topic.

8/22/11 – A list of targeted spending cuts      Read Replies

Last week’s entry offered four suggestions for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (JC)

8/15/11 – And so it begins: a “Super Committee” is born

For those who came in late, the US government has a spending problem, not a deficit problem.

8/8/11 – Debt limit deal settled nothing         Read Replies

There was a feeling of closure as the votes on the Budget Control Act of 2011 were shown taking place on national TV, first the House (269-161) in the early evening of August 1 and then the Senate (74-26) the next day.

8/1/11 – Who cut my credit rating?

We had planned to review the debt limit “deal” today, but the terms were still being debated when we went to press.

7/25/11 – Looking at things in a different way

Gary Neil Asteak, Esq., a criminal defense attorney in Easton, PA, presented a session at the Criminal Law Symposium (6/2/11, Harrisburg) entitled “The Four Noble Truths – Dharma for the Defense.”

7/15/11 – Making sausage in DC: haggling over a debt limit increase

Many Americans are against raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit, including a majority of Republican and independent voters.

7/11/11 (T-22) – When worlds collide: two very different strategies     Read a Reply

Rumor has it that the world as we know it will end on August 2 unless an agreement to raise the $14.3 trillion federal debt limit is reached by then.

7/4/11 – Remember the past to save the future

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” wrote philosopher George Santayana, which is generally taken to mean that a failure to remember past mistakes may result in making them again.

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June - April 2011

6/27/11 – Social Security belongs on the table with everything else.

It is hardly a newsflash that Social Security faces long-term fiscal problems.

6/20/11 – Slouching towards a debt limit deal      Read Replies

We have no inside information on what will happen in the Biden talks, but some predictions making the rounds seem unrealistic if not downright deceptive.

6/13/11 – Federal budget workshops – a good effort with limited results

Representative John Carney sponsored three Concord Coalition budget workshops on June 8.

6/6/11 – The past is prologue

Prepare for a change of pace.

5/30/11 – Never mind a 10-year plan; cut spending now      Read Replies

Some people believe all “conservatives” think alike, but this is not so.

5/23/11 – Tips for fiscal visionaries: policies and politics are closely connected     Read a Reply

From the SAFE archives (fall 1998): “Our approach is to use the strength of our organization and the strength of our ideas in an intelligent way so we can advance our agenda.

5/16/11 – Of course the debt ceiling will be raised, but on what terms?

Nobody in a position of responsibility is suggesting the federal government’s debt limit will not be raised, as it always has been when needed.

5/9/11 – An administrative blitz: taking cover is not enough

With legislative gridlock likely over the next 18 months, we expect big government supporters to concentrate on advancing their agenda through administrative action (AA).

5/2/11 – Meanwhile, on the administrative front      Read a Reply

From the standpoint of the president and his party, the current situation in Congress must seem like a big comedown after scoring an $800B fiscal stimulus package, GovCare, and GovFinance in the last Congress. 

4/25/11 – Tip for fiscal visionaries: be persistent or get run over.      Read Replies

It is nice to have the facts and logic on your side, but in a politicized debate (which might be about almost anything these days, with the possible exception of low calorie, organically grown apple pie) that is not enough.

4/18/11 – Stay alert: this will be a long, tough ride.        Read Replies

Relatively few Americans expect any significant long-term spending cuts before the 2012 elections, Rasmussen, 4/13/11.

4/11/11 – Government shutdown: a temporary reprieve

This entry will update a story from the last issue of the SAFE newsletter and offer our assessment of where things seem to be headed.

4/4/11 – A glum anniversary for GovCare

The 2,000+ page healthcare “reform” package was enacted in March 2010, by a whisker-thin margin, with no Republican support.

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March - January 2011

3/28/11 – A status report on the budget brawl

Consider how the DC tussle over fiscal policy has proceeded thus far.  Somehow. things do not seem to be headed in a constructive direction.

3/21/11 – Japanese nuclear plant damage: a big setback for nuclear power.

We had another topic in mind for this week’s entry, but given the high profile situation at the Fukushima plant let’s talk about nuclear power instead.

3/14/11 – How to keep big government going (for a while)

As discussed last week, Social Security (and indeed the government as a whole) resembles a Ponzi scheme wobbling on the brink.  Now what?

3/7/11 – Social Security is burnt out, now what?            Read Replies

SAFE member Harry Thompson of Tucson, Arizona has asked us to remind readers of Charles Ponzi’s birthday (born March 3, 1882).

2/28/11 – The budget: will Congress save the day?      Read a Reply

SAFE blasted the budget proposed by the president for FY 2011.

2/21/11 – The budget: a “lowball” offer     Read a Reply

The president’s budget for FY 2012 was released a week ago.

2/14/11 – Jobs: do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.     Read Replies

This entry will be about employment ( the flip side of unemployment), an oft-cited justification for stimulative fiscal and monetary policies.

2/7/11 – SAFE to Congress: you need to do much, much better     Read Replies

The letter mentioned at the end of last week’s entry has been sent individually (primarily  via fax) to the 535 members of the two houses of Congress.

1/31/11 – To win the future, do not let the government do it

Our expectations for the State of the Union address were modest (see 1/17/11 entry), but the president undershot them.

1/24/11 – GovCare: Round 2

No policy area has been covered more intensively in this blog than healthcare; there were 16 entries about the subject in 2009 alone.

1/17/11 – SOTU and budget preview      Read Replies

The president will deliver the State of the Union (SOTU) Address on Tuesday, January 25, with the proposed budget for FY 2012 to follow on February 1.

1/10/11 – Game theory is a powerful tool, but it cannot engineer the future

Fiscal visionaries will never be able to convert the hard-core supporters of bigger, more pervasive, and costlier government.

1/3/11 – The time for politics as usual is over.

Let’s start with a bit of levity – this entry will get serious soon enough.

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December - October 2010

12/20/10 – Out with the old, in with the new

Some previous year-end entries – 2007: Fiscal visionaries at bay; 2008: The Grinch that stole Christmas; 2009: Two crises and a partridge in a pear tree – were grim in tone and/or conveyed forced cheerfulness.

12/13/10 – DC action: the tax cut deal is overloaded.      Read Replies

The results of the November elections were interpreted by some observers – perhaps with a touch of wishful thinking – as a repudiation of soaring government spending, deficits and debt.

12/6/10 – Fiscal Commission sets stage for further discussion.     Read Replies

Skeptics said the Fiscal Commission could not possibly recommend a meaningful plan to address the fiscal problem, not with its bipartisan composition and a 14 of 18 votes requirement.

11/29/10 – Dear EPA: shape up or ship out      Read a Reply

Last week’s survey of the federal regulatory landscape might be summarized by a four-quadrant model.

11/22/10 – Regulatory common sense requires eternal vigilance

SAFE has proposed a Regulatory Common Sense Commission to review the regulatory activities of government with a view to (a) improving the performance of necessary tasks, (b) eliminating unnecessary tasks, and (c) reducing regulatory burden on the private sector.

11/15/10 – Fiscal Commission: Co-Chairs’ Proposal      Read a Reply

Apr. 27

May 26

June 30

July 28

Sept. 29

Nov. 30

Dec. 1

 

On recently visiting the Fiscal Commission’s Website, we noted that the date of the sixth meeting had been changed from November 10 (eight days after mid-term elections) to November 30.

11/08/10 – Internal Revenue Code 2.0 – part two

SAFE has developed a SimpleTax proposal that would streamline the tax law and also – together with a spending ceiling of 20% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – help to balance the budget.

11/01/10 – Internal Revenue Code 2.0

If our proposal for a Spending Reduction Commission clicked, the federal budget could be balanced by 2015 – ideally without raising taxes.

10/25/10 – Getting down to brass tacks about spending.      Read Replies

Three weeks ago, SAFE sent the Fiscal Commission some suggestions for its upcoming report.

10/18/10 – Surveying the path forward

In addition to substantive news and analysis, we occasionally muse about how to promote SAFE’s agenda.

10/11/10 – The bailout mentality puts us all at risk

There is something in the human psyche that does not want to accept losses.

10/4/10 – Fiscal Commission: tough decisions in November      Read Replies

We last reported on proceedings of the Fiscal Commission after it July 28 meeting.

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September - July 2010

9/27/10 – The generational divide: two takes on the fiscal problem      Read Replies

There is a new book out on the coming fiscal meltdown, Boomergeddon, with a nuclear explosion depicted on the front cover.

9/20/10 – Raising taxes and a crackdown on cheating won’t solve the fiscal problem

After talking about D.C. rallies and the Constitution for several weeks, let’s turn to a “bread and butter” issue: Should taxes be raised during a sputtering economic recovery, and if so how?

9/13/10 – Long live the Constitution

Reader input is often helpful in deciding what issues to cover, and this week’s entry originated with a suggestion from SAFE Member Harry Thompson of Tucson, Arizona.

9/06/10  – The path forward from August 28     Read Replies

As reported last week, the Restoring Honor rally was a patriotic/ spiritual event – and not openly political.  Glenn Beck rally in D.C., 8/30/10.

8/30/10  – Glenn Beck rally in D.C.      Read a Reply

Many people turned out for the Restoring Honor rally at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, including SAFE directors Steve McClain and Bill Whipple.

8/23/10  – “Good news” about Medicare is much exaggerated

Last week we reviewed the fiscal outlook for Social Security as of its 75th anniversary.

8/16/10  – Clamor builds for another Social Security fix      Read Replies

August 14 (last Saturday) was the 75th Anniversary of Social Security, and the 45th Anniversary of Medicare/Medicaid fell on July 30.

8/9/10  – Sorry, but there are no “painless” ways to raise taxes.      Read a Reply

As reported last week, consideration is being given to eliminating “tax expenditures,” which some people characterize as spending by another name, as a means of increasing tax revenue.

8/2/10  – Fiscal Commission fiddles as budget burns.      Read Replies

Conservatives would balance the budget by reducing government spending and commitments, not by raising taxes in a doomed attempt to cover them.

7/26/10  – D.C. update: the “green” energy push 

We predicted several months ago that passage of the “healthcare reform bill” (GovCare) would not mark the end of this year’s push for bigger, more intrusive, more costly government.

7/19/10  – Resolving the fiscal mess: SAFE responds to a fictional inquiry      Read Replies

Imagine yourself as a member of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which is supposed to recommend a cure for the government’s dire fiscal problem.

7/12/10  – Re the cut spending/raise taxes debate: “There’s more than one way to skin a cat” – all likely to be messy.

Last week we reported on the Fiscal Commission’s meeting and public hearing on June 30, which revealed sharply divergent opinions as to what recommendations should be made.

7/5/10  – Fiscal Commission update: lots of input, little progress.

Last week’s entry expressed concern about the feasibility of resolving the profound disagreement in this country as to the proper size and role of government.

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June - April 2010

6/28/10  – And never the twain shall meet: the Left/Right divide.      Read a Reply

For those who came in late, SAFE advocates smaller, more focused, less costly government. 

6/21/10  – The “plan now, act later” idea is a nonstarter

SAFE is not alone in worrying about the government’s fiscal situation.

6/14/10  – War on cheap energy grinds on. 

If the Gulf oil spill sparks a backlash against the oil industry, we suggested last week, this could provide new impetus for a radical overhaul of the energy sector.

6/7/10  – Disaster in the Gulf: environmental effects and political fallout.      Read A Reply

The Gulf oil spill has been going on since late April, and British Petroleum’s efforts to stop it have been unsuccessful thus far.

5/24/10  – Fiscal Commission update: off to a somewhat promising start.     Read Replies

We last wrote about the Fiscal Commission (FC) shortly before its first meeting on April 27 and a Fiscal Summit (FS) organized by the Peterson Foundation on April 28.

5/17/10  – Greek debt crisis: a double-edged sword.

It is natural to think of the Greek debt crisis as an illustration of what could happen if U.S. political leaders fail to get serious about putting the government’s fiscal affairs in order.

5/10/10  – GovFinance: too bad to fix.

As suggested last week, the push for a big financial overhaul bill (GovFinance) is premature.

5/3/10  – “Reforming” the financial system: a play in three acts.

PROLOGUE: Most readers will remember the financial panic in the fall of 2008.  It was undeniably a scary time.

4/26/10  – Fiscal Commission lifts off this week, but where is it headed?      Read a Reply

We have written before about the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (hereinafter Fiscal Commission or “FC”).  Now, with the first meeting scheduled to take place at the White House tomorrow, it is time for an update. 

4/19/10 – I.O.U.S.A. Solutions: a not so subtle pitch for raising taxes.     Read Replies

Do you remember I.O.U.S.A., a film intended to dramatize the message of the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour and hopefully spark a debate of long-term fiscal issues during the run-up to the 2008 election?

4/12/10 – Centralized control of education may be overrated.      Read a Reply

Our last entry ended with a question: After 50 years of generally counterproductive intervention in K-12 education, is the federal government finally about to get its act together?

4/5/10 – K-12 education: are charter schools the answer?

Enough about GovCare for now; this week’s entry will be about charter schools.

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March - January 2010

3/29/10 – Raising the ante: America’s future is at stake.      Read Replies

Opponents of GovCare fought the good fight, with a “Code Red” rally in Washington on Saturday, March 20.

3/22/10 – A tangled web: we must enact GovCare to reduce the deficit.     Read a Reply

This entry will tie together two story lines: (a) the Fiscal Commission that is supposed to recommend ways to deal with unsustainable deficit spending, and (b) the GovCare proposal that would make the fiscal situation worse.

3/15/10 – Gridlock won’t look so bad if it stops GovCare.     Read Replies

Many people say “Washington is broken,” but they are not all talking about the same thing.

3/8/10 – If coal power is too “dirty,” how about nuclear?      Read Replies

The president recently announced plans for a nuclear resurgence, as was noted in our global warming/ energy policy microblog:

3/1/10 – Should government be held to a higher standard?

We are indebted to SAFE member Harry Thompson in Tucson, Arizona for suggesting this week’s topic: government practices that would not be tolerated in the private sector.

2/22/10 – Here goes nothing: some thoughts about the Fiscal Commission     Read a Reply

It has been suggested that presidents appoint commissions when they don’t want to do anything about something, while giving the illusion that they do.

2/15/10 – Don’t just stand there, do something constructive.

We reviewed the president’s budget last week, and ended by suggesting that Congress should “bin it.” 

2/8/10 – Sorry, but the budget was dead on arrival.     Read Replies

This week’s entry will review the president’s budget proposal, which was transmitted to Congress on February 1.

2/1/10 – Washington is not working so let’s take another helping.

SAFE’s prediction about the State of the Union (“SOTU”) address was not fully borne out.

1/25/10 – A setback for GovCare, now what?

Just before Christmas, when a 60-vote supermajority was mustered to cut off debate on the Senate version of the healthcare plan (GovCare), it seemed that some version of this plan was inevitable and would be enacted early in 2010.

1/18/10 – Hey, this deck is stacked!

As readers of this blog are surely aware, SAFE is a big believer in smaller, more focused, less costly government. 

1/11/10 – A case for demanding better results     Read Replies

Last week’s entry predicted that, in the upcoming State of the Union (SOTU) address, the president will call for improved “debt management,” to be achieved on a bipartisan basis based on a review by an independent commission or task force.

1/4/10 – The wrong way to defuse the debt bomb.     Read Replies

Happy New Year!  With Congress mercifully in recess, there is not much happening in the public policy arena.

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December - October 2009

12/21/09 – Two crises and a partridge in a pear tree

Crisis I: After posting last week’s entry, an update on the battle over GovCare, SAFE wrote the Delaware members of Congress.

12/14/09 – Healthcare: down to the wire.

The last four entries were devoted to a review of the U.S. political system, ending with a discussion of the pros and cons of calling for a Constitutional convention.

12/7/09 – RX, part two – a Constitutional convention?    Read Replies

How can the GRA disease be cured?

11/30/09 – RX, part one – Reform Congress

Lest SAFE be viewed as a bunch of alarmists, here is one more analysis suggesting the disease could be life threatening.

11/23/09 – What is causing GRA?     Read Replies

It was previously suggested that the U.S. political system is faltering due to crucial issues ignored, bad ideas entertained, proposals presented deceptively, and dissent dismissed.

11/16/09 – Is this any way to govern a country?

Underlying the disputes in Washington about healthcare “reform” and other proposed initiatives, one senses that something is amiss with the body politic.

11/9/09 – GovCare: good intentions are not enough.    Read Replies

Before trying to fix a machine, one needs to understand how it works.

11/2/09 – Healthcare insurers: imperfect yes, demons no.

As previously reported (10/26/09 entry), one of the primary arguments for creating a government-backed entity to offer healthcare insurance has been the alleged shortcomings of private HCI providers – callous behavior to maximize profits, inefficiency, and limited competition. 

10/26/09 – Crunch time in the healthcare debate.

As of two months ago, we concluded that none of the healthcare “reform” plans under active consideration were worthy of support – including a Senate Finance bill without a “public option.”

10/19/09 – For better schools: get the right people, put them in charge, and stand back   Read Replies

HANOVER, MD – What drew SAFE directors Jerry Martin, Steve McClain and Bill Whipple to the Chesapeake Science Point Public Charter School (CSP)?

10/12/09  – Déjà vu: Scoring a healthcare bill      Read a Reply

When Medicare and Medicaid were launched in 1965, the costs of these programs were wildly underestimated.

10/5/09 – Carbon showdown on multiple fronts.     Read a Reply

In last week’s entry, we recapped energy policy failures dating back to the 1970s and suggested that enactment of the Waxman-Markey (WM) energy bill (which passed the House in June) would compound the damage.

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September - July 2009

9/28/09 – Energy policy: time for some common sense

U.S. energy policy has been in a muddle since the oil price shocks of the 1970s, as the government promoted one far-fetched solution after another.

9/21/09 – The march that was, and what it may mean     Read Replies

This week we bring you a first hand report on the 9/12 “March on Washington,” plus some observations about its significance.

9/14/09 – Nothing ventured, nothing gained

As a general rule, asking for things is more effective than keeping quiet and hoping for the best.

9/7/09 – A conversation about healthcare

Remember the story about five blind people and an elephant.

8/31/09 – If you can’t hear what we hear, you aren’t listening    Read Replies

Let it be remembered that SAFE said the following about the coming fiscal crisis in a March 1996 statement (see the first issue of our newsletter):

8/24/09 –  Healthcare: deal or no deal?     Read Replies

The past two entries have focused on the extraordinary national ferment about the big push for near universal healthcare insurance coverage (or GovCare), which figures to continue during the August recess of Congress and peak with the 9/12 “March on Washington.”

8/17/09 – Healthcare: the empire strikes back   Read Replies

As previously related (8/10/09 entry), the surging opposition to government-run healthcare seemed to surprise the politicians leading the charge for GovCare.

8/10/09 – A national conversation about GovCare

Not long ago, it appeared that near universal healthcare (or “GovCare”) would breeze through.

8/3/09 – Wishful thinking: a weak basis for government action

We referred in a previous blog entry to how an ancient ruler ordered the tide to stop.  How to win: be proactive, not reactive, 10/29/07.

7/27/09 – Education: never mind a master plan

Some readers may have heard a story about Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw that goes something like this: 

7/20/09 – Education: revamping the curriculum

A 2006 membership survey confirmed support for SAFE’s agenda, and also provided some useful feedback on strategy.

7/13/09 – SAFE to Congress: wake up

We posted a hypothetical letter to Congress in May 2008, urging big spending cuts to balance the budget.  A line in the sand on taxes, 5/26/08.

7/6/09 – Happytalk blossoms in the nation’s capital.

We have noticed a pattern in Washington of late, which goes something like this.

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June - April 2009

6/29/09 – Stopping the big government express: what’s the plan?

The National Taxpayers Union hosts a conference every other year on taxpayer concerns.

6/22/09 – Delaware tea parties with a healthcare theme

It was not our idea, but the next round of TEA (taxed enough already) parties in Delaware – scheduled for Thursday, July 2, in Wilmington (two locations), Dover, and Georgetown – will protest the Administration’s plan for healthcare reform.

6/15/09  – Whatever happened to the greatest financial crisis of our time?

Released in January of 2009, “The End of Wall Street As We Know It” by Dave Kansas

6/8/09 – How to win the global warming debate

In three previous entries (5/11/09, 5/18/09, 5/25/09), we reported on plans afoot to restructure the U.S. energy sector in the name of averting a global warming crisis.

6/1/09 – We interrupt this program for a special announcement

We have it on the highest authority that the U.S. government is “out of money,” and everyone knows what that should mean – adjustments on the spending side.

5/25/09 – The high cost of “green” energy

Last week’s entry presented three arguments against the proposed cap and trade system:

5/18/09 – A dubious case for cap and trade

Last week, we characterized EPA regulation of CO2, etc. as “a bad idea from any angle.”

5/11/09 – EPA regulation of CO2: a bad idea from any angle.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a proposed finding, a decade in the making, that carbon dioxide (C02) is a pollutant that endangers public health and welfare.

5/4/09 – Two milestones coincide: 100 entries and 100 days

Hey, folks, did you know this is entry 100 of SAFE’s blog?

4/27/09 – Delaware’s fiscal situation: a case study

SAFE generally focuses on federal taxes and spending because about two-thirds of all the government spending in this country is at the federal level.

4/20/09 – Let’s keep the party going!

Tax day tea parties took place around the country on April 15, as previewed in last week’s entry, and from what we can gather they were a success.

April 13, 2009 – What’s up with the tea parties?     Read a reply

Talk show host Glenn Beck will promote an April 15 “tea party” in San Antonio, Texas.

4/6/09 – SAFE plan for healthcare reform is “government-lite”

Our last entry identified the leading problem with healthcare (soaring costs) and its root causes (government policies, consumer behavior, and ossified industry structure).

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March - January 2009

3/30/09 – A “ready, aim, fire” approach to healthcare reform 

The last two entries posed a dilemma: no one is happy with the U.S. healthcare system, but the Administration’s plan for fixing it appears unaffordable.

3/23/09 – Healthcare plan will not pay for itself

The president promised more and better healthcare at lower cost during the campaign last fall (10/20/08 entry), and he has continued on message.

3/16/09 – A tale of two summits

The Fiscal Responsibility Summit (February 23) and the Healthcare Summit (March 5) were both held at the White House, with a similar number of participants, over the course of an afternoon.

3/9/09 – Recession plus: could this be the big one?

Everyone should worry about the government’s soaring entitlement outlays and general lack of budgetary discipline.

3/2/09 – The young and the reckless    Read a Reply

Last week, we related the stimulus bill to other initiatives in play – mortgage foreclosure plan, more financial sector rescue funds, healthcare (SCHIP + proposals on the way), “green” energy, and pressure for tax hikes.

2/23/09 – Taking stock after a crushing defeat

Instead of bewailing the passage of stimulus bill, which the president signed on February 17, let’s consider how its results are likely to be assessed and the relationship of this development to other battles that are coming up.

2/16/09 – Playing hardball.

The minority party was raising objections to the economic stimulus bill. Polls indicated public support was slipping.

2/9/09 – Looking ahead to the Fiscal Responsibility Summit

The past week was a discouraging one for advocates of smaller, more-focused, less costly government, and we will not pretend otherwise.

2/2/09 – Economic stimulus package: what’s the rush?

The administration wants a four-month delay in the long planned (and heavily advertised) switch from analog to digital TV broadcasting due to “mounting concerns that too many Americans who rely on over-the-air broadcast signals won't be ready.”

1/26/09 – Let’s hear it for “responsibility”

Incoming presidents traditionally express the principles or goals that they intend to support in an inaugural address.

1/19/09 – Never mind the “tax cut”

When concern was being expressed about a slowing economy in early 2008, it was said that any economic stimulus measures should be timely, targeted and temporary.

1/12/09 – Madoff writ large.

What is the biggest Ponzi scheme of all time?

1/5/09 – Some call it stimulus; we call it pork.

The first big fight in the 2009 Congress will be over the massive spending bill that the president elect has asked be ready for signature on the day he takes office.

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December - October 2008

12/24/08 – The Grinch that stole Christmas.

In this holiday season, why not give it a rest about the coming fiscal meltdown and so forth?

12/22/08 – Pointers for the loyal opposition.

Last week, we reported on “the big pork, big government express that is barreling down the tracks.”  Subsequent developments have confirmed our fears.

12/15/08 – Spend now, PAY LATER

It is hard to fathom all the things going on inside the Beltway these days, but one thing is clear.

12/8/08 – FLT: a nightmarish scenario

Did you know the United States has been in an economic recession since December 2007?

12/1/08 – Once again, this time in plain English.    Read a Reply

Someone commented recently that the SAFE blog is not “written for us.”

11/24/08 – First things first: time to clean up the fiscal mess.

We recently argued that now is not “the best possible time” for undertaking new government initiatives.

11/17/08 – Don’t bail out the Big Three, but an apology would be nice.

As anyone who reads the financial pages should know, the U.S. auto companies (aka “the Big Three”) are on the ropes.

11/10/08 – Election over: now what?     Read a Reply

The 2008 election results hardly represent a victory for smaller, better-focused, less costly government, but stay tuned.  The battles over what will actually happen to the government’s operations may prove interesting.

11/3/08 (E minus 1) – Other voices: SAFE is not alone.

Previous entries spelled out the economic issues as clearly as we knew how, culminating in “What would you like, central planning or an eclectic mix,” 10/27/08.

10/27/08 (E minus 8) – What would you like, central planning or an eclectic mix?

Senators McCain and Obama have endorsed essentially the same economic goals, but offered quite different approaches for achieving them.

10/23/08 (E minus 12) – A paradox: the global warming scare lives on.

A depressed housing market, plunging stock market, and fears of a recession to come have ended any chance for a serious debate about longer-term economic issues in the 2008 election.

10/20/08 (E minus 15) – Both candidates offer “pie in the sky” healthcare plans.

Senators Obama and McCain both propose major healthcare “reform,” but along very different lines.

10/15/08 (E minus 20) – October surprise: financial turmoil.

While SAFE has been rattling on about smaller, better-focused, less costly government – and other advocates of fiscal responsibility in government have been pushing the idea of a bipartisan commission with government spending, taxes, and entitlements all on the table – events have been moving in a different direction.

10/10/08 (E minus 25) – Famous last words: “my plan will cut taxes”

A dozen questions from the public (selected by moderator Tom Brokaw from thousands of questions submitted) were posed to Senators McCain and Obama in the October 7 presidential debate (town hall format, at Belmont University in Nashville, TN).

10/6/08 (E minus 29) – Time to get real     Read a Reply

Our last entry concluded with a financial bailout proposal seemingly on its way to passage in Congress, basically because there did not seem to be much choice.

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September - July  2008

09/29/08 – Are we there yet: go to sleep, it’s another 500 miles.

This has been a long, often torturous election campaign – generally more focused on personalities and insults than on substance.

09/22/08 - SAFE cartoon says it all

On 9/14/08, SAFE conducted a three-question survey on global warming at Newark Community Day

09/15/08 – The battle for mind share heats up.

This electoral cycle has seemed to stretch on interminably, but finally the pot is coming to a boil.

09/8/08 - Progress on the energy front

We strive to base each entry of this blog on “up to the minute” information, which should help to keep it interesting and relevant.

9/1/08 – Not another one: the first “economic stimulus package” was bad enough

When the idea of an economic stimulus package to head off a possible recession came up in early 2008, we suggested that longer-term concerns were more important.

8/25/08 – Fiscal Wake-Up Tour message goes nationwide.      Read a Reply

I.O.U.S.A. – a film to dramatize the coming fiscal crisis (considering current liabilities plus commitments, the government was in a $53 trillion hole as of 2007 that is growing about $2-3 trillion per year) – has been released nationwide.

8/18/08 – Nuclear power: building for the future, and hold the subsidies

The nuclear power industry has flourished in recent years, sparking talk of a renaissance.

8/11/08 – Nuclear power: walk first, then run

It remains to be seen whether there will be a nuclear power renaissance, but of this much we are sure.  A crash program to build a new wave of plants, with massive government involvement, is not the way to go.

8/4/08 – Nuclear power: no panacea      Read a Reply

We suggested a clear edge for nuclear power over wind power in the 5/5/08 entry (“The Holy Grail: Energy policy based on evidence vs. propaganda”).

7/28/08 –Derailing the government gravy train.

Only by recognizing the obstacles they face can fiscal visionaries hope to develop strategies for overcoming them.

7/21/08 – Sorry, the coming fiscal crisis is for real

Just as we discount dire warnings about manmade climate change, some observers question whether the United States is really headed for a fiscal meltdown fueled by soaring entitlement outlays (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) for seniors.

7/14/08 – Plot thickens, as the Peterson Foundation cranks up.     Read a Reply

We continue to believe that the presidential candidates will be forced into discussing the government’s dismal long-term fiscal outlook during this year’s campaign, but it is not a sure thing.

7/7/08 – To drill or not to drill; that is the question.     Read a Reply

Are you tired of paying $4 a gallon or so for gasoline, with even higher prices likely by yearend.

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June - April  2008

6/30/08 – Don’t check your brains at the door.

Congratulations, says a letter from Canada, you have won the XYZ lottery and are entitled to a prize of $130,000.

6/23/08 –First anniversary: time to take stock and move forward.

A year after this blog was launched, we are pleased with the results.  Only you, the readers, can say, however, whether the blog is meeting your needs and where you would like to see it go in the future.

6/16/08 – To win “Budget Hero,” raise taxes.   Read a Reply

In response to an e-mail invitation, we checked out “Budget Hero,” an interactive game offered by American Public Media and the Woodrow Wilson Center.

6/9/08 – Treatment courts: a concept that makes sense     Read a Reply

Some readers may have gotten the impression that SAFE opposes all government programs, but this is not so.

6/2/08 – Message to Congress: cap taxes now    Read a Reply

This entry will elaborate on the parallel between complex, hugely expensive government programs and situations that arise in some families.

5/26/08 – A line in the sand on taxes     Read a Reply

People only fret about wasteful government spending, but they get excited about taxes.  Witness the Boston Tea Party and the French Revolution. 

5/19/08 – Strategies to cut government spending

Terminating wasteful government programs could be a great way to balance the budget, but those who benefit from such programs (beneficiaries, advocates, administrators, etc.) are organized, well funded, and resolute.

5/12/08 – Ethanol 101: the staying power of government programs

Many people are becoming disillusioned with the government’s support for corn-based ethanol, and SAFE believes the time has come to pull the plug on this program.

5/5/08 – The Holy Grail: energy policy based on evidence vs. propaganda.     Read a Reply

Last week’s entry ended with a jab at “policy wonks” who advocate a government-led restructuring of the energy sector in the name of combating global warming. This week we would like to recognize the efforts of scientists who are doing bona fide research on climate change, such as Dr. David Legates, the Delaware state climatologist.

4/28/08 – The Icarus syndrome: why the bad ideas keep coming.     Read a Reply

Last week’s entry ended with a conundrum:  If our political leaders are truly concerned about high gas prices, as they profess to be, why are so many “solutions” suggested that would simply make the problem worse?

4/21/08 – Pain at the pump: why energy prices are soaring.

Soaring prices for motor fuel represent a burden for all of us, and it would be nice to do something about them. First, however, we need to understand their cause.

4/14/08 – Getting action on Social Security     Read a Reply

Having reviewed the problems of the Social Security system last week, we will now suggest a strategy to sell the needed reforms.

4/7/08 – Straight thinking about Social Security     Read a Reply

Reforming Social Security may be easier than figuring out what to do about Medicare and other healthcare programs, but still represents a major challenge. To progress, we must overcome some common misconceptions.

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March - January 2008

3/31/08 – Government intervention: a surefire way to make things worse    Read a Reply

Given a housing slump and slowing economy in an election year, there will be no shortage of suggestions that the government should intervene in a big way.

3/24/08 – The Bear Stearns buyout and other bad omens

Given recent developments, it seems timely to revisit the threat of a fiscal meltdown. Why might there be a meltdown, what would it look like, when would it happen, and should one cut the red wire or the black one to stop it?

3/17/08 – A winning strategy for healthcare insurance   Read a Reply

However understandable the desire for universal healthcare insurance (HCI), efforts to achieve this goal could prove counterproductive.  A winning strategy, we think, will require a “bottom-up” versus “top-down” approach.

3/10/08 – With liberty, justice, and healthcare insurance for all

Roundly 250 million Americans have healthcare insurance, per the U.S. Census Bureau, but many view 47 million Americans (1 out of 6) without healthcare insurance (HCI) as the real story – and a “gold mine” for political candidates. 

3/3/08 – Connecting the dots: earmarks matter, and words also    Read a Reply

“It's worthwhile to urge reducing government spending,” a friend recently wrote, “but perhaps a bit abstract when the average reader looks at bottom-line budget numbers.”

2/25/08 – Better days ahead; fiscal visionaries should persevere

 “I continue to support the overall goal of our organization,” says SAFE member Harry Kenton, “but realistically I believe we are ‘tilting at windmills’ because no Congress will ever accept our agenda.”  Is he right?

2/18/08 – Let’s hear it for real change!  -  Read a Reply

Calls for change are not new in American politics.  Thomas Dewey said “it’s time for a change” during his presidential runs in 1944 and 1948.  The question is, what kind of change and why should it be made?

2/11/08 – If you want good answers on healthcare, ask good questions!    -  Read Replies

U.S. Comptroller General David Walker has spoken often about the coming fiscal crisis, and he did so again at Princeton University on February 6th.  His subject was “Keeping America Great”

2/4/08 – State of the budget: the road ahead.

The State of the Union Address is “in the can,” setting the tone for 2008. Beyond that, fiscal visionaries should start paying close attention to what the candidates in this year’s presidential election have to say. 

1/28/08 – State of the budget: a 40-year slump

Many presidents have talked about fiscal responsibility in their State of the Union addresses, offering plans or commitments to shrink the deficit, balance the budget, or even start repaying the National Debt. Why, then, has the situation been deteriorating since the 1960s?

1/21/08 – An update on global warming (cooling?)

Some people say the global warming debate is over; we say it is just getting started.  Here are three reasons to question hugely expensive programs based on predictions of catastrophic climate change.

1/14/08 – New spin on an old theme could make a big difference.

Remember the line James Carville coined in the 1992 election, “It’s the economy, stupid!”

1/7/08 – Cut the pork; earmarks need to go.

In the context of a nearly $3 trillion federal budget, why all the fuss about a few Congressional earmarks?

1/1/08 – Opportunities abound for fiscal visionaries!

Attention fiscal conservatives, deficit hawks, and others with similar ideas, we have been playing defense for years and it is not working.

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 December - October  2007

12/24/07 – Fiscal visionaries at bay.

At the end of another year, we ponder the performance of the country’s political leaders vis-à-vis the SAFE agenda.

12/17/07: Government spending: what crackdown?

There has been much said about the president’s recently demonstrated readiness to veto budget-busting spending bills, and we find this change in attitude encouraging.

12/10/07: 2008 campaign: government’s fiscal woes will be discussed.

Given irrefutable evidence that a fiscal crisis is coming unless the government takes decisive action to cut spending, raise taxes, and/or restructure entitlements – if you can’t believe the top accounting executive of the federal government, Comptroller General David Walker, who can you believe – one might think all the presidential candidates would be staking out positions on what should be done.

12/3/07: Learning from experience: why government programs fail

For those who favor more government controls to address the “healthcare crisis” (see last entry), we would like to offer a history lesson. 

11/26/07: The key to a better healthcare system: empower patients

Last week’s topic was rebooting the tax system; this week we will conduct a similar exercise for government healthcare policies/programs. 

11/19/07: Let’s stop tinkering with taxes and reboot the system

When repairs become expensive and performance is not up to current standards, there comes a time to buy a new car.

11/12/07: Three signs that fiscal visionaries are gaining ground

SAFE and those with similar views are not conservatives dedicated to maintaining the status quo, they are visionaries who see the fiscal problems that lie ahead and are offering ideas to make things better.

11/05/07: Two cheers for the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour

The speakers were smart, well informed, and pulled no punches about the coming fiscal crisis. 

10/29/07: How to win: be proactive, not reactive.    Read a Reply

Our theme this week is that “fiscal conservatives” need to develop a positive, forward-looking message. 

10/22/07: Potpourri: updates and snippets

Writing this blog presents a different challenge every week. 

10/15/07: Refundable tax credits: not the answer for healthcare.

In the 2008 election campaign, candidates will be asked to offer solutions for relentlessly rising healthcare costs and 45 million+ Americans being without healthcare insurance.

10/8/07: The SCHIP veto: a “Pyrrhic victory” at best

Last week’s entry advocated the elimination of government grant programs as a step towards putting the finances of the federal government in order.

10/1/07 – Enough already with government grants!

SAFE has been conducting a letter writing campaign against government grants for months, attacking them from many directions with good, rational arguments. 

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September - June  2007

9/24/07 - Taking the public pulse: lessons learned

SAFE has hosted a booth at Newark Community Day for years, most recently on September 16, 2007.

9/10/07 – The coming fiscal storm: an historical perspective.

In the digital age, with nearly instant access to news and commentary around the world, there is a tendency to think that everything worth knowing about was written or said in the past two weeks.

9/17/07 – Getting through to “irrational” people.

Last week’s entry took a trip down memory lane, demonstrating that both SAFE the Concord Coalition were making the same basic points in the 1990s that they are making today. 

9/3/07 – Alternative energy: let the market decide

As explained in our 8/27/07 entry, the outcry about global warming by Al Gore et al. seems considerably overstated. However, one point must be corrected.

8/27/07: Global warming: let’s get real

Some people claim the linkage of CO2 emissions to global warming is backed by the overwhelming weight of scientific opinion. 

8/20/07:  The future of healthcare finance; choosing a path.

Our last entry focused on the overall cost of U.S. healthcare – tripled since 1960, highest in the world, said to be headed higher – and asked a question: who is going to pay for all this?

8/14/07:  Healthcare by the numbers.

You may have seen a recent AP report that the U.S. lags many countries when it comes to human life expectancy, ranking 42nd in this category. 

8/6/07: Universal health care: we don’t want it!

Much has been said and written about the millions of Americans who lack healthcare insurance; the issue will keep coming up between now and the 2008 elections.

7/31/07: Ideas for making a SAFE Commission pay off.

The Fiscal Wake-Up Tour (see 7/13 and 7/26 entries) paints a grim picture:

7/26/07: Understanding the fiscal problem is great, but we also need answers.      Read a Reply

As reported on 7/13, the Concord Coalition, Heritage Foundation and Brookings Institution have been crisscrossing America.    

7/13/07: Wake-Up Tour; some questions for political candidates.

The Concord Coalition, Heritage Foundation, Brookings Institution, and U.S. Comptroller David Walker have been touring America to make a point.

7/10/07: Another energy bill!  

The  “energy crisis” hit in the 1970s, and for all the promises of our political leaders it has never gone away.

7/7/07: Low share of medical outlays paid by patients leads to waste.

For more about a 1970s era study (the Rand Health Insurance Experiment)

6/20/07: SAFE represented at National Taxpayers Conference.

This biennial event took place in Washington, D.C. on June 14-16, 2007

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