Contacting legislators  2011

SAFE periodically contacts members of Congress, primarily those from Delaware, with timely comments re subjects on our agenda.  We typically send one-page letters, with references to the SAFE Website for further details. See the recap of letters below.

 

Individual SAFE members also contact legislators on their own, e.g., by e-mail (through their respective Websites) or telephone.  For convenient reference, here is some contact information for members of Congress from Delaware.

 

120511

Secure America’s Future Economy

Advocating smaller, more focused, less costly government since 1996

 

December 5, 2011

 

Copies to: Senators Reid & McConnell, members of Senate Finance Committee; Representatives Boehner & Pelosi, members of House Ways and Means Committee; members of Congress from Delaware

 

Re the debate about a payroll tax cut for 2012, we are appalled that Congress would give serious consideration to this idea at a time when the fiscal situation and outlook is so dire.

 

1.      A tax cut would not provide a meaningful boost for the economy.  Our conclusion is based on the failure of previous measures of this type, plus an impeccable analysis of the Tax Foundation. http://taxfoundation.org/news/show/27632.html

 

2.      The tax cut would swell the current deficit by somewhere between $110B (straight extension) and $240B (souped-up extension).  Why should the US borrow money from China for this?

 

3.      Promises to “pay for” the tax cut by tax increases and/or spending cuts in later years are meaningless; any fiscal gains from such measures should be applied to deficit reduction.  Also, as you know, future Congresses would not be bound by these promises. 

 

4.      Year-end tax handouts are addictive (there has been one for every tax year since 2007), and an extension of the current payroll tax “holiday” could create expectations of permanency.  There would be no merit in a permanently reducing payroll taxes, which already fall short of covering the costs of the associated benefit programs.

 

5.      Overhauling the tax system could have a big economic payoff, as was noted by both Democrat and Republican members of the Fiscal Commission in 2010 and the Joint Committee this year, but such an overhaul will never get done until Congress stops feuding about the details.  Our SimpleTax proposal outlines the kind of approach that is needed. http://www.s-a-f-e.org/the_simple_tax.htm

 

A more comprehensive discussion is posted on our Website.  “Bin the payroll tax cut,” 12/5/11,  http://www.s-a-f-e.org/blog.htm.

 

Please advise if we can help further.

 

Respectfully,

 

William Whipple III, President

Secure America’s Future Economy

 

(302) 464-2688

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112211

Secure America’s Future Economy

Advocating smaller, more focused, less costly government since 1996

 

November 22, 2011

 

Copies to: Senators Reid & McConnell; Representatives Boehner & Pelosi; members of Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction; members of Congress from Delaware

 

We were sorry to see the Joint Committee deadlock, but that was the outcome and the focus must now be on the path forward.

 

The nation’s fiscal problem remains, exacerbated by a weak economy.  The situation is intractable and dangerous.  A failure to take decisive corrective action could have disastrous consequences.  And as we see it, neither party is offering a coherent and credible economic plan.

 

Please see the following entries in our weekly blog (http://www.s-a-f-e.org/blog.htm), which review the respective plans in some detail.

 

    #    11/14/11 - “We can’t wait” blitz would not accomplish much, even if the president’s jobs bill was enacted.

 

Economic stimulus flopped before, little reason to try it again – administrative initiatives relatively inconsequential and politically opportunistic – only superficial efforts to control spending – antigrowth regulatory policies.

 

    #    11/21/11 – GOP economic plan offers some good ideas, but weak execution, e.g., not pushing House budget.

 

 “House Republican Plan for America’s Job Creators” - only 5 of 22 bills have been signed into law– no pending bills re 3 of 6 stated goals – lack of political leverage to force proposed regulatory changes – House budget in legislative limbo.

 

As a next step, we would respectfully urge that the Senate end its incomprehensible fiscal abdication by doing one of two things: (A) Approve the budget passed by the House in April; or (B) Offer its own budget proposal so Americans can compare the two visions and weigh in as to which of them they would prefer.

 

Meeting behind closed doors, trading barbs on the Sunday talk shows, and such are simply not getting the job done.

 

Respectfully,

 

William Whipple III, President

Secure America’s Future Economy

 

(302) 464-2688

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November 15 , 2011

 

 

TO: Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction

 

FROM: SAFE (advocates for smaller, more focused, less costly government since 1996)

 

There has been a lot of handwringing about the difficulties of reaching a deficit reduction “deal” as though this was the sole criterion of your committee’s success.  But a flawed deal might well be worse than allowing the $1.2T in overall spending cuts provided by the Budget Control Act to take effect.  If Congress did not like the results of such a sequester, it could always get serious and start cutting specific spending programs.

 

From what we read, the JC may be drifting off course.  Thus, one observer speculated that the end result “will be the imposition of fake spending cuts and real tax hikes.”  Supercommittee a super dud; Smoke-and-mirrors deal means higher taxes, Emily Miller, Washington Times, 11/15/11. http://bit.ly/tCOgjQ Among the evidence cited:

 

1. “Even behind closed doors, Democrats refuse to address the real drivers of our debt: Medicare and Medicaid.” [SAFE suggested that Medicaid be block granted now, with Medicare changes to be taken up after the 2012 elections.]

 

2. Re discretionary spending, Representative Jeb Hensarling is quoted that “there are no real spending cuts on the table.”  [SAFE suggested about $1T in targeted cuts to discretionary spending, and there are many other possibilities.]

 

3. A “two-step process” is being envisioned for tax increases, which would likely result in constructive reform ideas being “pushed off and bogged down.” [SAFE suggested an overhaul of the tax system to make it simpler, more efficient, and fairer.] 

 

Frankly, we are disappointed with the way things seem to be headed.  It is long past time for Congress to get serious about the fiscal problem, and your committee has a unique opportunity to steer things in the right direction.  Please don’t blow it.

 

William Whipple III, President

Secure America’s Future Economy

 

 (302) 464-2688

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November 7 , 2011

 

TO: Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction

 

FROM: SAFE (advocates for smaller, more focused, less costly government since 1996)

 

We have tracked the Joint Committee’s efforts with great interest.  See these entries to our weekly blog: http://www.s-a-f-e.org/blog.htm (scroll back as necessary)

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

8/22/11 – A list of targeted spending cuts*

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

9/19/11 – Elementary, my dear Holmes

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

10/10/11 – Joint Committee must get back to basics*

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

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

 *These entries were summarized in one-page letters to the JC members et al.

 

The JC is reportedly being bombarded with suggestions, many basically directed to maintaining the status quo, and this letter will respond to several of them:

 

1. Extra spending and payroll tax cuts have been urged in the name of promoting economic recovery, but the stimulus package in 2009 was a bust.  We see no reason to repeat the mistake. Real progress on deficit reduction would do far more to restore business confidence and get things back on track.

 

2. Some say discretionary spending has been “cut to the bone,” but this simply is not true.  Our 8/22/11 letter suggested discretionary spending cuts that would save roundly $1 trillion (including interest) over 10 years.  See also Prime Cuts: 2011, Citizens Against Government Waste, which identifies “691 recommendations that would save taxpayers $391.9 billion in the first year” alone.

 

3.  Spending cuts would not necessarily penalize lower income Americans.  For one thing, social welfare programs tend to breed dependency, which undermines the incentive and in time ability of recipients to better themselves.  Also, many desirable spending cuts, such as eliminating corporate welfare, would primarily impact higher income Americans.  See “The Corporate Welfare State,” Wall Street Journal editorial, 11/7/11.

 

4.  We agree that healthcare outlays must be reined in.  To this end, our targeted spending cuts list included a proposal to block grant Medicaid with 10-year savings of nearly $1 trillion (including interest).  As for Medicare and other healthcare reform programs, a basic system redesign is needed.  Intelligent planning will be impracticable until the future of the 2010 healthcare legislation is determined, i.e., will GovCare be repealed or implemented in some fashion.  The situation should be clearer after the 2012 elections.

 

5.  It is time to end the nonproductive dialog about the Bush tax cuts (which are scheduled to expire on 1/1/13), Alternative Minimum Tax “fixes” (for inflation), and the merits of literally hundreds of individual and corporate tax preferences.  The tax system must be rebuilt to make it simpler, fairer, and more economically neutral.  We do not believe the JC has time for such a project, but are hopeful that Congress will take it on.  Our SimpleTax proposal might serve as a useful starting point. http://www.s-a-f-e.org/the_simple_tax.htm

 

I trust the foregoing comments will be useful.  Please advise if we can help further.

 

William Whipple III, President

Secure America’s Future Economy

 

 (302) 464-2688

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October 11, 2011

 

Kevin Neilson, Regulatory Policy Administrator

Delaware Public Service Commission

861 Silver Lake Boulevard

Cannon Building, Suite 100

Dover, DE 19904

 

Dear Mr. Neilson:

 

Proposed Bloom Energy Tariff

 

SAFE’s 9/23/11 comments assumed that the Commission’s review would be within the normal utility/ratepayer frame of reference, excluding policy issues such as economic development, jobs, and alleged environmental benefits. 

 

As we see it, the ratepayers would be saddled with a long-term financial burden while receiving nothing of value in their capacity as electric power consumers.  In other words, the proposed tariff is a discriminatory tax, which the Commission should reject.

 

Proponents of the tariff appear to be relying on precisely the policy arguments we did not think it proper to address, however, presumably because they have nothing else to hang their hats on.  Thus, for example:

 

·    The Public Advocate’s concluding argument, presented under an “Economic Development Imperative” heading, is  “this project represents this State’s willingness to take risks.”  Really?  We thought entrepreneurs were supposed to take risks, not the ratepayers. 

 

·    The independent consultants’ report notes claims that “the economic development benefits to the State of Delaware from the construction and sustainable operation of the manufacturing plant are very high—estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars per year.” http://depsc.delaware.gov/electric/DPL Fuel Cell PSC Staff Comments.pdf

 

·    The News Journal has picked up the economic development theme in their generally supportive coverage of this proposal.  Big reward but “high risk;” Bloom’s 900 jobs put Delmarva customers on hook to pay, Aaron Nathans, 10/9/11.

 

Accordingly, we would like to expand our comments by pointing out three major fallacies in the “big reward” scenario.  In each case, an authoritative reference that supports our viewpoint is cited. If the Commission was disposed to approve the proposed tariff based on the broader policy arguments that have been made, we would urge it to consult these references before doing so.

 

1. Opportunity costs ignored – The promotion of cheap and reliable electricity would help to make Delaware an attractive place to do business. Based on current technology, the most logical replacements for coal-fired power plants will be combined cycle natural gas plants and longer term, nuclear power plants.  Wind and solar power are not likely to be competitive.  Terrestrial Energy, William Tucker, Bartelby Press (2008). http://www.s-a-f-e.org/terrestial_energy.htm

 

2.  Side effects ignored – Jobs cannot be created by the simple expedient of subsidizing the production of power from high cost sources as “green” jobs added will be outweighed by jobs lost in other sectors. The False Promise of Green Energy, Morriss, Bogart, et al., Cato Institute, 2011, p. 141. http://www.s-a-f-e.org/green_energy.htm  Thus (p.141), a study in Spain showed 2.2 jobs destroyed for every “green” job created.

 

3. Environmental benefits exaggerated – The manmade global warming theory is beginning to unravel, and countries that make big economic sacrifices in its name may have cause to regret it.   See, e.g., Climate Change Reconsidered: 2011 (released on August 29), which presents extensive evidence contradicting earlier findings of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  http://heartland.org/press-releases/2011/08/29/new-report-global-warming-contradicts-uns-ipcc

 

Please advise if you have any questions or we can be of further assistance.

 

Respectfully,

 

William Whipple III, President

Secure America’s Future Economy

 

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Faxed to Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction members; Senators Reid & McConnell; Representatives Boehner & Pelosi; members of Congress from Delaware 

 

October 10, 2011

 

In August, we offered several suggestions to the JC  – in summary: be open, stop digging, taxes can wait, and be selective on spending.  A list of targeted spending cuts, 8/22/11. (This and other entries cited are posted at http://www.s-a-f-e.org/blog.htm.)

 

The JC appears to have embarked on a different course, however, which will likely end in failure.  JC update: hunting for a painless solution, 10/3/11.

 

To get back on track, the JC members – from both parties – must rise above politics as usual.  Instead of searching for the most expedient answers from their respective political standpoints, they need to find the best answers for the country. 

 

Take the hotly debated issue of spending cuts vs. tax increases.  The politically expedient answer may be a mixture, but the best answer is spending cuts.  Our evidence: (1) the federal budget is rife with waste, as was demonstrated by a recent GAO report; (2) tax increases have well-known drag effects on the economy; and (3) empirical studies demonstrate that countries seeking to shrink their debt in relation to Gross Domestic Product have generally failed unless they relied primarily on spending cuts. 

 

We realize there is intense political pressure to raise taxes while ducking targeted spending cuts, but we would urge the JC members to ignore this pressure and propose a deficit reduction program that might actually make things better.  Joint Committee must get back to basics, 10/10/11.

 

I trust that the foregoing comments will be useful.  Please advise if we can help further.

 

William Whipple III, President

Secure America’s Future Economy

 

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                        Secure America's

 

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September 28, 2011

 

Proposed Subsidies for Bloom Energy Venture

 

This statement will comment on the proposal to subsidize high-cost electricity produced from Bloom Energy Corporation fuel cells.  Although the objective of reinvigorating the Delaware economy is laudable, the Bloom Energy venture does not offer a defensible and logical path to this end.

 

1. Flawed procedure -- The subsidy for the venture would primarily take the form of a tariff on Delmarva Power ratepayers; the ratepayers would receive nothing in return.  Procedurally, this is improper because the Public Service Commission is not a taxing authority.  The PSC is also not responsible for attracting new investment to the state, creating jobs, or meeting environmental goals.  Therefore, we believe the PSC should reject the tariff. http://www.s-a-f-e.org/contacting_legislators_2011.htm#092311

 

2. Better alternatives – The promotion of cheap and reliable electricity would help to make Delaware an attractive place to do business. Based on current technology, the most logical replacements for coal-fired power plants will be combined cycle natural gas plants and longer term, nuclear power plants.  Wind and solar power are not likely to be competitive.  See, e.g., Terrestrial Energy, William Tucker, Bartelby Press (2008). http://www.s-a-f-e.org/terrestial_energy.htm

 

3. Side effects – Jobs cannot be created by the simple expedient of subsidizing the production of power from high cost sources as “green” jobs added will be more than offset by jobs lost in other sectors.  Thus, a study in Spain showed 2.2 jobs destroyed for every “green” job created. The False Promise of Green Energy, Morriss, Bogart, Meiners & Dorchak, Cato Institute, 2011, p. 141. http://www.s-a-f-e.org/green_energy.htm

 

4. Dubious premise – The manmade global warming theory is beginning to unravel, and countries that make big economic sacrifices in its name may have cause to regret it.   See, e.g., Climate Change Reconsidered: 2011 (released on August 29), which presents extensive evidence contradicting earlier findings of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  http://heartland.org/press-releases/2011/08/29/new-report-global-warming-contradicts-uns-ipcc

 

SAFE is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization, which has been advocating smaller, more focused, less costly government since 1996. 

 

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September 23, 2011

 

Kevin Neilson, Regulatory Policy Administrator

Delaware Public Service Commission

861 Silver Lake Boulevard

Cannon Building, Suite 100

Dover, DE 19904

 

Dear Mr. Neilson:

 

Comments on Proposed Bloom Energy Tariff

 

SAFE is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization, which advocates smaller, more focused, less costly government.  Additional information may be found on our Website.

 

We believe that the proposed Bloom Energy Corporation tariff should be disapproved (not simply fine-tuned).  The tariff would represent a nontrivial, long-term burden on the ratepayers, which would not pertain to the power they consume or the manner of its delivery.  In other words, the tariff would represent an unjustified levy on ratepayers and a corporate handout.

 

True, environmental and job creation benefits have been alleged, which might conceivably be thought to justify public support of the Bloom venture.  But the PSC is not a taxing authority, and if the state government wants to impose a tax then it should forthrightly propose one.

 

The enclosed statement presents our position in greater detail.  Please advise if you have any questions or we can be of further assistance.

 

Respectfully,

  

William Whipple III, President

Secure America’s Future Economy

 

 

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Text Box:  
 
 
September 23, 2011

 

 

To: Delaware Public Service Commission

 

From: Secure America’s Future Economy

 

Subject: Proposed Bloom Energy Corporation Tariff

 

Secure America’s Future Economy (“SAFE”) is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization that advocates smaller, more focused, less costly government.  Additional information may be found on our Website.

 

We are familiar with the Bloom Energy Corporation (“Bloom”) venture as a result of following the extensive coverage in The News Journal and reviewing the enabling legislation (Senate Bill 124, enacted in June 2011).

 

In our opinion, the Bloom venture is of dubious economic merit and undeserving of public support.  That issue is not before the Public Service Commission, however, and we do not propose to discuss it herein.

 

What we will maintain is that the proposed Bloom tariff would provide no economic benefit to the ratepayers required to pay it, wherefore it should be disapproved.

 

BAKCKGROUND – Bloom has committed to build a fuel cell manufacturing facility at the former Chrysler plant site in Newark (now being converted to a technology park by the University of Delaware).  It is understood that Bloom will hire up to 900 workers at the site over the next five years, with some 600 more jobs for supplier firms that will locate in Delaware.

 

Delmarva Power Company (Delmarva) will use Bloom fuel cells (“Bloom boxes”) to generate 30 megawatts of electric power, which will be sold to the grid.  This arrangement is known as a Qualified Fuel Cell Provider Project (“Project”).

 

The state Administration has promised $16 million in state development funds to Bloom over five years to assist with the manufacturing facility investment.  It also backed legislative authorization (in SB-124) of a long-term tariff that would make the Project economically attractive for Bloom and Delmarva.

 

THE TARIFF – Bloom would set a price for the power produced by the Project, which would cover its selling price (including profit) for the Bloom boxes with interest over a 21-year period.

  

The tariff would be calculated as follows: Bloom price for each MWH of output + cost of fuel (intended to be natural gas supplied by Delmarva) + any costs incurred by Bloom, including incremental site preparation + any Delmarva costs associated with the “Project” including filing and administrative costs – the proceeds from selling the power produced.

 

The tariff is for Bloom’s benefit.  Delmarva would collect and disburse funds relating to the Project solely as an agent.

 

It was initially estimated that the Bloom tariff would add about 70¢ per month to the electric bills of the average residential customer, with larger payments by business customers. The News Journal, 6/12/11.

 

More recent reports indicate the residential customer cost would be “between $1 and $2 per month,” which is a levelized average over 21 years, with a higher added cost in the early years.  The News Journal, 8/3/11.

 

Because the Bloom tariff would fluctuate with market prices for natural gas and the power output, “no one knows exactly how much more this project will cost ratepayers for the next 21 years.”  The News Journal, 9/8/11.

 

Once approved by the Commission, the tariff could not be altered in a manner prejudicial to Bloom’s interests without Bloom’s consent.  Moreover, SB 124 provides that no future session of the legislature can change the rules for the tariff unless and until “adequate provision shall be made by law for the protection of” Bloom and Delmarva Power.

 

BENEFIT TO BLOOM – As discussed under the previous heading, Bloom is basically permitted to name its own price for the Bloom boxes – with payment secured by the tariff on ratepayers.  The result is an eye-popping subsidy for a high-priced power source.

 

BENEFIT TO DELMARVA – As far as the tariff goes, Delmarva is a collection agent.  It incurs no material risks, and is assured of recovering any costs.  There is no benefit or detriment involved.

 

However, SB 124 classifies power produced from the Bloom boxes as renewable energy, and Delmarva, by virtue of its connection with the Project, would be credited with Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) and/or Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs).  The RECs and/or SRECs (hereinafter collectively referred to as Credits) could be used by Delmarva to meet its Renewables Portfolio Standard obligation by selling a rising percentage (25% by 2025) of power generated from renewable sources.

 

The Credits will have economic value so long as renewable energy is more costly than energy produced from conventional sources.  This will likely be the case over the next 20 years. Terrestrial Energy, William Tucker, Bartleby Press (2008).

 

The value of the Credits would represent a windfall benefit (no cost or risk) to Delmarva for participating in the Project.

 

BURDEN TO RATEPAYERS – The tariff would represent a nontrivial burden on ratepayers.  We saw an estimate of  $67 million over 21 years, which figure may not be precise but is presumably in the ballpark.  The News Journal, 6/21/11.

 

In return for the tariff, we fail to see that the ratepayers would receive any benefits whatsoever.  Certainly the tariff would not pertain to the electricity they consume, or the manner of its delivery.

 

It may be contended that Delmarva’s receipt of the Credits would benefit the ratepayers in that Delmarva could provide electricity more inexpensively as a result.  However, we are unaware of any requirement for Delmarva to apply the value of the Credits for the benefit of ratepayers. And even if there were such a requirement, so that in effect the amount of the Credits would be subtracted from the Bloom tariff, we presume the Bloom tariff would exceed the value of the Credits so the ratepayers would still be making a net payment and getting nothing for it.

 

True, state officials have touted alleged environmental benefits from producing electricity from Bloom boxes and “green” jobs created. See, e.g., Bloom and Delaware’s energy future, DNREC Secretary Colin O’Mara, The News Journal, 9/9/11.  But even assuming the claimed benefits are solid, which we doubt, no showing has been made that Delmarva’s ratepayers should pay for them versus Delaware’s taxpayers.

 

PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION ROLE – As we understand it, the Commission’s primary duty is to review rate cases for the purpose of ensuring that the public’s energy needs are met at a fair price. On one hand, regulated utilities should maintain appropriate service levels and earn an adequate return.  On the other, the public should be assured of reliable and affordable electricity and gas.

 

The PSC is not a taxing authority.  It is not responsible for attracting new investment in the state, creating jobs, or meeting environmental goals.  Ergo, a tariff intended primarily to subsidize an energy equipment producer, which involves considerable cost and no identifiable benefit to ratepayers, does not properly fall in its ambit.

 

The state Administration has strongly advocated the Bloom venture and the legislature has enacted supporting legislation.  But we would respectfully submit that the PSC should not serve as a “rubber stamp” for this proposal, and PSC Executive Director Bill O’Brien seems to be of the same opinion.  Thus, Mr. O’Brien has been quoted that the Commission will “be able to weigh the expected price impact, balance it against the benefits of the Bloom project, and vote the tariff up or down.” (Emphasis added). The News Journal, 7/3/11.

 

This is not a matter of fine-tuning the details of the tariff application; it is a matter of rejecting an invitation to act beyond the Commission’s proper role and authority.  If the state government wants to impose a tax, then they should forthrightly propose one instead of trying to sneak it through this way.

 

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                        Secure America's

 

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September 6, 2011

 

[faxed to Senators Carper and Coons, Congressman Carney, on 9/6/11]

 

As you and your colleagues return to Washington from the August recess, it might be well to reflect on polls showing that most Americans disapprove of (a) the job Congress is doing (presidential approval ratings are also in the basement), and (b) the direction in which the country is headed.  “Congress’s ratings hit new lows: some thoughts about the stats,”  8/29/11 (blog on SAFE Website).

 

We must do a better job of communicating our views to the public, some members of Congress may think, or the other side should start acting more responsibly.  But what if the public is not misinformed or confused?  Perhaps Americans are right that this country is in a long-term decline due to unwise government policies.

 

The members of SAFE are tired of seeing the Washington elite push government solutions for every conceivable problem without serious regard for practicality, cost, or associated loss of personal liberty.  (Why should Americans be told what kind of light bulbs to use in their houses, what type of motor vehicles to drive, what sort of healthcare insurance to carry, etc.?) And to top it off, the resulting panoply of programs and benefits is unaffordable, so the country faces a huge fiscal problem.

 

In our opinion, Congress should reverse course on spending (cut vs. increase), taxes (overhaul vs. tinker), and regulations (rein in overly zealous regulators like the EPA).   As a first step, why not establish a budget before the fiscal year 2012 begins on October 1st?  Running a roundly $4 trillion-per year operation on continuing resolutions represents the height of irresponsibility.

 

William Whipple III

President, Secure America’s Future Economy

 

PS: Your name appears in recent entries on our Website, e.g., [applicable dates for the member in question, e.g., Senator Carper: 9/4, 9/3, 8/25, 8/18.] http://www.s-a-f-e.org/members_microblog_2011.htm

 

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                        Secure America's

 

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Faxed to Joint Committee members; Senators Reid & McConnell; Representatives Boehner & Pelosi; members of Congress from Delaware

 

August 22, 2011

 

Congratulations on your appointment to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.  This letter will offer suggestions for this legislative “Mission Impossible.”

 

Who are we to say?  SAFE has been advocating smaller, more focused, less costly government since 1996. We are a grass roots organization, beholden to no special interests.  We do our homework, and generally know what we are talking about.

 

Here are our suggestions in brief.  See SAFE’s Website (8/15/11 and 8/22/11 blog entries) for full discussion. 

 

(1) Be open: We would urge that your committee follow the example of the Fiscal Commission in 2010 by posting videotapes of its general meetings and a draft of its report before the report is voted on.

 

(2) Stop digging: This country does not need another round of fiscal stimulus; far more effective ways to promote economic recovery are available.

 

(3) Taxes can wait: The tax changes that have been proposed to date are of debatable merit, and the JC does not have enough time for the system overhaul that is needed.

 

(4) Be selective on spending: Across the board spending cuts treat all government programs as equally worthy, thereby undermining support for the limits imposed.  It would be far more effective to eliminate or restructure ailing programs.  The following spending cuts are recommended to save the US Treasury roundly $2 trillion over the next 10 years: Medicaid $770B, Education $500B, Corporate Welfare $180B, Agricultural Subsidies $130B, Energy $60B, and resultant reduction in Interest Expense $328B.

Further spending cuts will be needed, including adjustments to both Social Security and Medicare, but the foregoing would represent a solid start on the fiscal problem.

 

I trust that these suggestions will be useful.  Please advise if we can help further.

 

William Whipple III

President

 

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Faxed to (A) Senators Reid & McConnell; Representatives Boehner & Pelosi, (B) our 12 nominees (see below), and (C) the members of Congress from Delaware.

 

August 8, 2011

 

Perhaps the most significant decision in implementing phase two of the debt limit increase deal will be determining the membership of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction – with all 12 of the appointments to be made by August 16!

 

We believe that the appointed members should be smart, well versed in the policy issues, and inclined to seek constructive engagement.  It would also be well to strive for diversity of experience (some newcomers as well as members who participated in the Fiscal Commission or Biden talks), area of the country, gender, race, etc.

 

With these criteria in mind, we would recommend the following members of Congress for this legislative “Mission Impossible.”

 

Representatives

Senators

Paul Ryan (R-WI), Co-Chair

Kent Conrad (D-ND), Co-Chair

Michelle Bachman (R-MN)

Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

David Camp (R-MI)

Joseph Lieberman (I-CT)

Xavier Becerra (D-CA)

Tom Coburn (R-OK)

James Clyburn (D-SC)

John Cornyn (R-TX)

Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

Marco Rubio (R-FL)

 

Please advise if you have any questions or we can help further.

 

William Whipple III

President

 

PS. A detailed analysis of the debt limit deal is posted on our Website. http://www.s-a-f-e.org/blog_2011.htm (8/8/11 entry)

 

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June 13, 2011

 

Via Fax: (202) 225-2291; (302) 428-1950

The Honorable John C. Carney Jr.

U.S. House of Representatives

1429 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515-0001

 

Dear Congressman Carney:

 

SAFE representatives attended all three of the federal budget workshops that you and the Concord Coalition presented on June 8.  Thank you for attempting to engage Delawareans on the fiscal problem.  We were disappointed that the workshops were not infused with a greater sense of urgency, however, and that the perceived “options” were heavily skewed to tax increases.  See http://www.s-a-f-e.org/blog_2011.htm#6/13/11.

 

It is important to support economic recovery, as you pointed out, and not simply focus on deficit reduction.  To effectively nurture the economy, Congress needs to simplify tax laws and rationalize regulations.  The vision of a government-led economy would have vastly inferior results, and it is time to stop pushing things in that direction.

 

Re your comments on corporate tax reform in the “DuPont pays no tax” article (News Journal, 6/12/11), we believe that tax simplification should not be held hostage to demands for immediate tax increases. Settle for revenue-neutral streamlining of the tax law (e.g., SAFE’s Simple Tax proposal), and tax revenues will increase as the economy booms.  See http://bit.ly/dPuWOJ (6/12/11).

 

If we can help further, please let me know.  We would be happy to meet with you and your staff about these matters.

 

 Sincerely,

 

William Whipple III

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                                             Secure America's

 

                        Future Economy

 

                                s-a-f-e.org

 

 

 

 

 

Faxed to (A) Vice President Joe Biden; Representatives Cantor, Clyburn, & Van Hollen; Senators Baucus, Inouye, & Kyl; (B) copies to Representatives Boehner, Carney, Pelosi, & Ryan; Senators Carper, Coburn, Conrad, Coons, McConnell, Reid, & Sessions.

 

May 31, 2011

 

You may recall our 2/2/11 letter, which was sent to all 535 members of Congress. The key points: Cut spending to not more than 20% of GDP; streamline taxes; defang regulations. An expanded version is posted on the blog page of our Website (2/7/11 entry). http://www.s-a-f-e.org/

 

We do not favor a debt limit increase under any circumstances, and would certainly not support such an increase without ironclad guarantees of equal or greater spending cuts.  It appears unlikely that current talks will produce an agreement meeting this requirement, and in any case we do not believe the future of this country should be decided behind closed doors.

 

Accordingly, we would urge that the Senate – which has rejected both the Ryan Plan (57-40) and the president’s FY 2012 Budget (97-0) – should now publish its own budget proposal for review and debate. 

 

As explained in the 5/30/11 entry to the SAFE blog, our message ends as follows: “This is not a drill; it is the real deal.  Mayday, Mayday . . .”. 

 

Please let me know if you have any questions or we can help further. 

 

Sincerely,

 

William Whipple III

 President

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[faxed to Senators Carper and Coons, Congressman Carney, on 5/11/11]

 

Re: “China has no easy road to prosperity,” Ted Kaufman, News Journal, 5/1/11  

 

You probably read Senator Kaufman’s column, which questions the IMF’s recent prediction that China will surpass the US as the world’s biggest economy by about 2016.  The rationale: China’s repressive government will serve as a barrier to growth, while the US economy will continue to thrive “because it encourages innovation at all levels, and for the most part keeps the government out of picking winners and losers.”

 

The writer possibly underestimates China.  Although the Chinese government continues to repress political dissent, business people have been given considerable latitude in the economic sphere and achieved remarkable progress.  Also, government intervention in the US economy has seriously eroded our free enterprise model over the years.

 

Still, we applaud Kaufman for acknowledging that the free enterprise model represents a source of competitive advantage for the US that this country should stick with it. We hope you agree – not just as an abstract proposition, e.g., I believe in the free market model in every case except when something happens in the private sector that is not absolutely perfect, but as an actionable principle.

 

To this end, we would urge you to support repeal of the healthcare “reform” bill (thus clearing the way for real reform http://bit.ly/cRkruZ) and a rational energy policy (see our 3/21/11 and 4/26/11 letters).  Also, please be wary of phony pro-business legislation, e.g., H.R. 870 (a “small business jobs bill” loaded with restrictions, handouts with strings, and a tax on securities transactions. http://bit.ly/mPOgxU).

 

Another concern is “power grabs” by the Executive Branch, which are likely to continue unless Congress puts its foot down.  http://www.s-a-f-e.org/blog.htm (5/2/11 & 5/9/11 entries) Examples 1 and 2 are “water over the dam,” but we would urge action to straighten out examples 3-8 (EPA twice, Interior, NLRB, HHS, and the White House).

 

Thank you for taking time to review the foregoing.  We would appreciate any feedback that you care to offer.

 

Sincerely,

 

SAFE

 

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[faxed to Senators Carper and Coons, Congressman Carney, on 04/26/11]

 

There seems to be lots of talk currently about soaring gasoline prices, but very little clarity about how to address the problem.

 

Raise taxes on the oil industry, or launch an investigation of possible misconduct in the oil trading markets, or convert America to “green” energy?   Oh, please!  For detailed discussion of why these ideas would be of no help in addressing the problem, please see the 4/25/11 entry to our weekly blog. http://www.s-a-f-e.org/blog.htm

 

We believe there are two things that might do some good, however – also discussed in the entry.

 

First, this country should do away with the government roadblocks that are holding down US oil production.  We realize that the effects will take time to show up, but that does not excuse endless delay.  There is not another country on this planet that would allow such rich resources to go to waste.

 

As a case in point, consider the EPA order blocking a Shell drilling operation in the Arctic that was supposed to have gotten underway this summer.  Fox News, 4/25/11. http://fxn.ws/gaq8ob

 

Second, the Federal Reserve should tighten its monetary policies, which are spawning higher oil and food prices and will soon inflate other prices as well.  “Quantitative easing” (aka printing money) may have been necessary two years back, but continuing the policy now is recklessly irresponsible and will not end well.

 

We trust that these suggestions will prove useful, and that you will pursue them. Please advise if we can help further.

 

Sincerely,

 

SAFE 

 

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[e-mailed to Senators Carper and Coons, Congressman Carney, on 4/11/11]

 

SAFE was not pulling for a government shutdown last week, but the celebration of averting it seems overdone.  In another month or so, we will be going through the same drill again – with much more money at stake – when the issue of raising the national debt limit comes to a head.

 

Some people think the question to ask is “who is to blame” for a potential shutdown.  Then they look for a public opinion poll or pundit that provides the answer they are looking for.

 

We would ask a different question: “who is offering the best ideas to solve the fiscal problem.” The obvious winner at this point is Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his colleagues, with their proposal to cut projected spending by $6 trillion over the next 10 years.  Shame on the president for not offering a responsible budget for FY 2012 in the first place!

 

The objections to the Ryan Plan thus far seem superficial, and there is a dearth of constructive alternatives.  See, e.g., “Complaints about budget plan veer off path,” Jonah Goldberg, Townhall.com, 4/8/11. http://bit.ly/hbh9Ws

 

Solving the fiscal problem cannot happen without big changes, and Congress must step up to the plate if this country is to be saved from what Representative Ryan has aptly  labeled “the most predictable crisis in the history of our country.”

 

We urge you to set partisan considerations aside and help to put the government back on a sound and sustainable course.  In addition to the Ryan Plan, you might want to consider the ideas expressed in our recent letter to the members of Congress http://www.s-a-f-e.org/blog.htm (2/71/11 entry).

 

If there is in any way in which SAFE can provide further assistance, please advise.  We would be more than willing to help.

 

Sincerely,

 

SAFE

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Via Fax: (202) 225-0704; (513) 779-5315 on, 4/1/11

The Honorable John A. Boehner

U.S. House of Representatives

1011 Longworth House Office Building

Washington DC 20515-0001

 

Dear Congressman Boehner:

 

As you may recall, SAFE sent you (and every other member of Congress) a letter in early February advocating a three-part program of spending cuts, tax reform, and regulatory common sense.  An expanded version of the letter is posted on our Website (2/7/11 blog entry) for continuing reference, and we trust that you and other members will take it seriously.

 

This letter is by way of follow-up, and is being directed to you only.

 

We have been following with interest the attempt to extract spending cuts for FY 2011 as the price for a continuing resolution extending through September.  This is a worthy effort,, which we support, but it should not be blown out of proportion.  Much bigger spending cuts are on the drawing board for FY 2012.

 

We understand that you contemplate making a deal for FY 2011 and keeping your “government shutdown” powder dry for the time being, but that some of the Tea Partiers feel this is a case of politics as usual, a betrayal, etc.  We like their spirit, but they have a bit to learn about how the game of politics is placed inside the Beltway.  Follow your gut on this one – you may be assured of our understanding and support.  But if a shutdown proves necessary in the FY 2012 and/or debt ceiling confrontations, let it come!

 

Sincerely,

 

SAFE

 

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[e-mailed to Senators Carper and Coons, Congressman Carney, on 03/21/11]

 

This letter is prompted by the quake-related damage at the Fukushima nuclear power plant and ensuing efforts to stabilize the situation.  Fukushima has been labeled a crisis, catastrophe, etc., and some observers think the lesson is that nuclear power should only be permitted with such extreme safety requirements that it could not possibly be economic.

 

There were similar reactions after the BP explosion last year and the massive oil spill that resulted, and, as you know, new deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere is still being largely blocked nearly a year later despite concerted efforts by the industry to learn from this disastrous accident and provide safeguards against a recurrence. 

 

We think the wrong lesion is being drawn from these experiences.  Realistically, no technology is risk free, and acceptance of prudent risks is the price of prosperity and progress.

 

See the SAFE blog, 3/21 entry. http://www.s-a-f-e.org/blog.htm It concludes as follows:

 

Since the oil shocks of the 1970s, the government’s mantra has been that energy is scarce, dangerous, and costly – dictating a preference for conservation over production and justifying government regulation & rationing.

 

We think the goal should be energy that is plentiful, reliable, and cheap – dictating more attention to energy production and increased reliance on free market mechanisms.

 

Never mind the partisan infighting or who deserves credit, Washington, please get the job done.  Now!

 

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[e-mailed to Senators Carper and Coons, Congressman Carney, on 2/25/11]

 

As you know, SAFE recently sent a one-page letter to every member of the U.S. Congress re the urgent need to clean up the fiscal mess.  Perhaps you have read the expanded version of the letter, which is posted on our Website. Blog 2011 (2/7/11 entry) and is also pasted at the end of this message.

 

We hope the fiscal problem is being taken very, very seriously, but frankly we have not seen much evidence of this.  The hot topic in Washington seems to be whether or not to cut $61 billion out of the FY 2011 budget.  The proposed cuts in HR-1 have been attacked as draconian, although they would only represent 3.7% of the anticipated $1.6 trillion deficit.

 

Congress can and must do far better than this, and we would call on you to help get your colleagues headed in the right direction.  Please advise if you have any questions or we can provide further assistance.

 

Full text of the 2/2/11 extended message to Congress as it appeared in the 2/7/11 blog entry.

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February 2, 2011

Secure America’s Future Economy (s-a-f-e.org)

MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS:

 

SAFE is an all-volunteer, grassroots organization, based in Delaware, which advocates smaller, more focused, less costly government.  Additional information about us may be found on our Website.

 

We and other fiscal realists are appalled by the growth of government spending, deficits and debt.  To quote the Fiscal Commission (December 2010 report), “after all the talk about debt and deficits, it is long past time for America’s leaders to put up or shut up.”  Unfortunately, the Commission’s policy recommendations did not go nearly far enough.

 

Unless decisive action is taken soon, we foresee a fiscal meltdown that would have disastrous effects for the United States – knocking it out as the world’s economic leader, ushering in a period of hyperinflation comparable to what Germany experienced in 1923, and causing untold social misery.  In brief (see the cited blog entries on our Website for detailed discussion), here is what we believe needs to be done:

 

1.    Cut total spending to not more than 20% of Gross Domestic Product via (a) targeted cuts to “discretionary spending,” and (b) phased-in restructuring of “mandatory” programs. 10/25/10.

 

2.    Overhaul the tax system, with the goal of collecting revenue in a manner that is simple, efficient, and perceived as fair.  Our SimpleTax proposal illustrates how this might be done.  11/1/10 & 11/8/10.

 

3.    Review existing and proposed regulations to eliminate burdens on the private sector that are impeding economic growth and job creation.  11/22/10 & 11/29/10. 

 

We would welcome the opportunity to provide further input.  Please let us know how we can help

 

Respectfully,

 

SAFE Board of Directors

 
     

Edgar Fasig 

Bill Whipple

Barry Dorsch

Ryck Stout

Bill Morris

Jerry Martin

Steve McClain

Daniel Kerrick

 

                    

Note: An expanded version of this letter was posted as the next blog entry.  “SAFE to Congress: you need to do much, much better,” http://bit.ly/SRt45x (2/7/11).

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[e-mailed to Senators Carper and Coons, Congressman Carney, on 1/24/11]

 

Secure America’s Future Economy (SAFE) http://www.s-a-f-e.org/

applauds the House vote to repeal the GovCare legislation enacted in 2010.  This would be a far more sensible approach than attempting to fix the many problems with GovCare, which as you know was an exceedingly long and complex package.

 

We would urge that the House bill be taken up in the Senate on a priority basis.  Rumors that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid intends to block a vote on this bill are disheartening, and in our view would be inconsistent with calls for mutual respect and bipartisan cooperation.

 

You may be interested in our analysis of the repeal proposal (including coverage of your own recent comments), which is posted (blog entry, 1/24/11) on our Website.

 

Sincerely,

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[e-mailed to Senators Carper and Coons, Congressman Carney, on 1/7/11]

 

As you may know, Secure America’s Future Economy (SAFE) has been advocating smaller, more focused, less costly government since 1996. 

http://www.s-a-f-e.org/

 

Meanwhile, the nation’s political elite has worked to expand the size and reach of government, without regard to cost. The likely result: a fiscal meltdown that would prove very ugly for everyone.

 

We do not intend to lose hope and give up.  Maybe this year will be our year.  Maybe Congress will terminate some wasteful and costly government programs, streamline the tax system (without raising taxes), repeal the abysmal healthcare bill of 2010, and rein in the EPA et al.  There is no excuse for not trying to make these things happen.

 

Our specific suggestions will follow throughout the year.  We hope that you will give them serious consideration, and would appreciate your support.

 

Sincerely, 

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