Secure America's Future Economy
TALK BY CAGW PREZ
A March 17th talk by Tom Schatz was very warmly received by 100+ members of the Retired Men’s Luncheon Club (Wilmington, DE). Schatz, President of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), has a very good understanding of the ins and outs of the federal government.
Your Board of Directors was very pleased with the talk, which SAFE sponsored.
Schatz talked about “Earmarks” which you may have seen discussed in the press. They can be added to bills by individual members of Congress at the last minute and become law with no oversight or discussion. The number of earmarks has increased dramatically and Congress is working on earmark reform as well as lobbying reform. As a (small) measure, Congress has limited the number of earmarks to ten per member.
A particularly blatant example of bribery by a lobbyist was purchase of a house from a Congressman for $1.5 million. The house was then sold on the market for $750,000. Lobbying is not all bad, of course. The council for CAGW lobbies on behalf of taxpayers.
The council rates members of Congress by percent of votes for the interest of taxpayers. CAGW doesn’t hesitate to embarrass the worst pork barrel offenders. Responding to the sting of CAGW comments, Senator Byrd of West Virginia called CAGW a bunch of “peckerwoods” and Senator Stevens of Alaska called them “psychopaths”.
In Congress, heads of subcommittees are so powerful, they are referred to as “Cardinals”.
The Senate is worse than the House for spending. Due to the collegial atmosphere, Senators hesitate to oppose each other’s proposals for spending.
In response to a question, Schatz said he thinks term limits would help, but it’s more important who you elect.
For those who don’t know the background, President Reagan convinced Peter Grace of W. R. Grace Inc., to form a commission of industry executives to make proposals for increase in government efficiency. This became known as the Grace Commission and did a huge amount of voluntary work and made a large number of excellent suggestions. Some were adopted by the government, but most were not.
As a result, CAGW was formed to promote smaller, more efficient government. CAGW was led by Peter Grace and columnist, Jack Anderson, both now deceased. Contributions to CAGW are tax-deductible, but contributions to Council for Citizen Against Government Wast (CAGW) are not, because the council lobbies the government. Activities of both are highly compatible with the goals of SAFE, and many SAFE members belong. You can contact them via cagw.org, (202) 467-5300, or 1301 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036.
(Editor’s note: I like CAGW and have been a member for many years. They “since 1984 have helped save taxpayers $824 billion.” That’s roughly $40 billion a year, which is significant, but only about one-tenth of the yearly deficit. The blatant examples of pork, in their “Pig Book” amount to about $5 billion. Because of this irresponsible action of Congress, elimination of pork is just a start on what needs to be done. The federal government needs to eliminate activities not assigned to it by the Constitution. For starters they should eliminate the Department of Education and the Department of Energy. Are you with me?).
CONGRESSMEN DISAPPOINT US
On January 19, 2006, SAFE challenged each of the three Delaware members of Congress to acknowledge the nation’s budget mess and say what they propose to do about it. The wording of the pledge (from a 1/3/06 Wall Street Journal piece by Gregory Manikiw, a former chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers) that we asked them to take was as follows:
This year I will be straight about the budget mess. I know that the federal budget is on an unsustainable path. I know that when the baby-boom generation retires and becomes eligible for Social Security and Medicare, all hell is going to break loose. I know that the choices aren’t pretty – either large cuts in promised benefits or taxes vastly higher than anything ever experienced in U.S. History. I am going to admit these facts to the American people, and I am going to say which choice I favor.
Two of the three Delaware Congressmen have responded, acknowledging that there is a real fiscal problem and offering a few ideas about how to mitigate it. We do not get the sense, however, that any of these gentlemen view the budget deficit (now, let alone in the future) as a matter of real urgency.
In an effort to reinforce our point, we invited representatives from the offices of Messrs. Biden, Carper and Castle to attend the March 17th speech by Tom Schatz (see cover story) on the subject of getting government spending under control. None of them chose to attend, which would suggest that they didn’t find the topic very interesting.
Do you agree with the SAFE Board of Directors that Delaware’s congressmen should start paying attention to this matter before the country goes bankrupt? If so, we urge you to get in touch with them in person, by telephone, or in writing – to reconsider and TAKE THE PLEDGE!
STUDENTS STILL ACTIVE
Students for saving Social Security (S4) remain active as proponents of Personal Retirement Accounts. They are actively lobbying and now have almost 3,000 members. They are sponsoring events such as a talk at Haverford College by David Jahn, Personal Retirement Account proponent, of Heritage Foundation. The students have visited with Congress members and candidates at the “Southern Republican Leadership Conference”.
A gimmick they are using to illustrate the bad deal young people are getting is a “bake sale” at College Campuses. Freshman and sophomores pay more for the bake goods than juniors and seniors. Faculty members and senior citizens get the bake goods free.
We congratulate S4 for their success! They may be the key to getting a Personal Retirement Account law passed.
FAIR TAX, AGAIN
I made a case for the Fair Tax in our last issue. Since then the co-sponsor list for the Fair Tax Bill, HR25, has increased to 50 U.S. Representatives. However, many more are needed.
Not made clear before, is the effect on balance of payments. Elimination of the Corporate Income Tax will make U.S. Corporations more competitive with foreign corporations. With fewer dollars going overseas, foreign entities will purchase fewer government bonds. This should lessen the risk of foreigners dumping U.S. bonds suddenly, forcing higher interest rates.
What about the flat tax? It does have advantages over the present federal income tax. However, it does not get rid of the IRS and it does not get rid of payroll taxes. Growth in the economy would not be as great under a flat tax as under the Fair Tax. Furthermore, experience tells us that when the income tax is simplified, there is immediate pressure for special exemptions and deductions which leads to raising the tax rate. The Fair Tax is a much-needed clean break from the present system.
If you wish, check www.fairtax.org and/or call me at (302) 475-7060.
30 SECONDS ABOUT
No longer a SAFE Director, but still our Art Director. Strong-willed Dick would not let us get by with a new computer – generated logo. He voluntarily provided the new logo you see here. Dick graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Later, he and a partner founded a highly successful advertising agency in Wilmington, DE. After retirement, one of his activities has been filling the art – void for his church, for SAFE and for other organizations he likes.
Dick loves Wilmington, but his wife loves the seashore. She convinced him to build a house at Ocean City, N.J. Evidently, he loves his wife even more than he loves Wilmington – they now live at Ocean City.
TID BITS FROM DICK REESE
I miss. . . .the kind of potato salad and rice pudding my mother made.
What ever happened to. . . .castor oil and/or iodine?
I am not frail. . . .behind a steering wheel.
A cane is. . . .a door closer, an attention getter, a retriever of dress items, a measuring device, a ball bat, a protection item, a walking support and or a pity item.
One thing about a desktop. . . .you manage to cover it up in no time.
Keep your conversations brief and simple. . people begin to forget as they first begin to listen.
Biggest fear. . . being alone.
Bigger one. . . broken bone.
Biggest joy. . . loving children.
Bigger one. . . a loving spouse.
I’m showing my age. . . .people slightly my junior offering a door, carry my bundles, etc, etc. There’s a reward to this aging.
Don’t you hate. . . .to use a freshly ironed folded handkerchief?
Here in my yard. . . .wondering who to call with my new cell phone?
You’re never. . . .too busy to be polite.
You forgot it. . . .and I’m supposed to remember it?
Mornings. . . .once you put your pants on you feel dressed.