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Fiscal responsibility moving forward.

 
 
JPB
 
Reply Wed 10 Jun, 2009 07:15 am
There's plenty blame to go around on how we got to where we are. I have no interest in a thread that points to "Liberals" or "Conservatives" and I hope this thread lasts more than one page before it disintegrates into finger pointing and name calling. I'd like to talk about fiscal responsibility moving forward. We are where we are and we got here on the back of a long history. Now what? Where do we go from here?

I recently read a piece in Newsweek written by Peter G Peterson, Secretary of Commerce under Nixon, co-founder of the Blackstone Group, and Founder and Chairman of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Here's a bit of the Newsweek piece...

Quote:
In 2007 the company I cofounded, the Blackstone Group, held a most successful public offering. I found myself, at 81, an instant billionaire. I wish I could've called my father, a Greek immigrant who had spent most of his life running a 24-hour diner in Kearney, Neb. The news might have pleased him as much as my being the first Greek cabinet officer, which he never hesitated to tell perfect strangers. In the 1930s, when I was growing up, there was all this talk about millionaires like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. Now I was a millionaire 1,000 times over.

But immediately I began wondering: what do I do with $1 billion? ...


...Underlying these challenges is our broken political system. Our representatives, unlike our Founding Fathers, see politics as a career. As a result, they are focused not on the next generation, but on the next election. When the long-term problems are large and real, they anesthetize us, mislead us, divert us, anything to keep us from giving up something or having to pay for it. Too often, our political leaders are just enablers, co-conspirators in a disingenuous and greedy silence. Our children are unrepresented. The future is unrepresented. The moment is long overdue for us to become moral and worthy ancestors. So I decided to set up a different kind of foundation, one that would focus on America's key fiscal-sustainability challenges. The fact is, for most of these challenges, there are workable solutions. Our problem is not a lack of such options. It is a lack of will to do something about them.

Ultimately, I decided to commit $1 billion to the Peter G. Peterson foundation; the vast majority of my net proceeds from Blackstone. Why so much? Kurt Vonnegut once told a story about seeing Joseph Heller at a wealthy hedge-fund manager's party at a beach house in the Hamptons. Casting his eye around the luxurious setting, Vonnegut said, "Joe, doesn't it bother you that this guy makes more in a day than you ever made from Catch-22?" "No, not really," Heller said. "I have something that he doesn't have: I know the meaning of enough." I have far more than enough. more


I was intrigued by his comments and his personal commitment. I investigated the PGPF and was struck by the work that he and David Walker (Comptroller General under Bush until he resigned in March 2008) are doing. I watched a very well done video distributed by PGPF and thought about bringing it here for discussion. Before posting the link to the video I did a search of A2K to see if it has come up before. It has. It's not new. What surprised me was the list of individuals who wanted to discuss it. It was posted by BBB with comments from Lightwizard, hamburger, and ehbeth. It was also posted by Solve et Coagula with a comment by maporsche, and it was posted by H20 Man with a comment by ebrown p. I was struck by the spectrum of ideologies of the folks making positive comments about the video.

There's a full length version available on dvd and a 30 minute version available online. Once again, I'd like to post the shorter version and hopefully discuss what WE can do moving forward.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_TjBNjc9Bo

One of the things I did yesterday was send the link to my elected officials in Washington. I stopped when I pulled up Roland Burris's name. All I could do was shake my head with the realization that sending a well done documentary to my congressman was a waste of time. One thing we can do moving forward is to make sure that the folks we put in Washington deserve to be there and have a sense of the responsibility they carry.
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Yankee
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Jun, 2009 08:03 am
@JPB,
Outstanding piece. I am struck by the following..." Too often, our political leaders are just enablers, co-conspirators in a disingenuous and greedy silence. Our children are unrepresented. The future is unrepresented."

I believe this change has slowly occurred over the past 50 or so years, but seems much more apparent given the past 3 elections. The elected officials seem to believe they are accountable to the PARTY, not their constituents. Recently, a long time Republican Senator just decided to "change parties". I found that odd since as a US Senator, he should care only for his constituents, not his position within the party. Yet, these party leaders act as heads of organized crime families and their sole role is to make sure their incumbents get re-elected.

Yet, the real enablers to me are the voters who are either ignorant to this reality or are so "loyal" to the party that they accept whatever is handed to them. The elected officials know this and act accordingly.

This has everything to do with fiscal responsibility as the budgetary focus is on TODAY. "PASS THIS SPENDING BILL ON MY PET PROJECT BECAUSE YOU OWE ME". Since their is that sense of entitlement within the elected officials and no accountability to the people, we have what we have today.

Moving forward, the current Administration will be challenged to change the current philosophy of the US Senate. Without passing judgment on the policies of the Obama administration, he will have his hands full trying to gain any semblance of fiscal order, especially in the House of Representatives.

Therefore, it must be up to the voters to actually st aside their party affiliation and objectively grade the performance of their representatives. I would like to see all contributions from special interest groups, political PACS stopped. Only individuals should be able to contribute to their representative campaign. People must stop relying on media, be it print, over the air or internet blogs for their information. Most voters should be able to decide just by looking at their own personal finances to determine f their representatives are doing the right thing.

Excellent topic. Hope I contributed to the debate.

JPB
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Jun, 2009 09:02 am
@Yankee,
Hello, Yankee. Welcome to A2K and thank you for your thoughts. I agree with you on party loyalties and I've done some finger pointing here myself on my concerns with the two-party system and it's share of the "blame". I'm also on record as having concerns that the parties no longer represent the vast majority of the people in the middle of the political spectrum.

If the real enablers are voters who are ignorant or loyal then education is the key. It should be easier to educate than to dissuade loyalties, particularly when most people depend on one biased media source or another for it's education. That's what I liked so much about the PGPF video. It appears to be politically neutral as demonstrated by the list of A2Kers who have watched it and commented on it previously.

Personally, I'd like to jump straight to term limits for congress and the elimination of the power of the parties in our two party system but that's unreasonable in the short term and we must concentrate on the short term while looking at the overall picture. Everything we do from here on must include the precaution followed in medicine... first, do no harm.

I think the PAYGO plan announced yesterday is a must do baby step. I think those who are criticizing it as a potential means of new taxes need to voice their objections to their representatives that increased spending cannot come on the backs of increased taxes. I also think that it doesn't go far enough in that it exempts $3.5 trillion dollars in spending over the next 10 years. I'd like to see the exemptions eliminated.

What disturbs me is that our congress is still very much embroiled in an US vs THEM mentality. Watching MSNBC this morning I saw two interviews, one a Democratic Senator from MO who mentioned "the gotcha game we play on the Hill", immediately followed by a segment with a Republican Senator (didn't catch the name) who went on and on and on about "what They want to do" and "what We will propose instead". We HAVE to stop talking in terms of sides of the game and realize that there is a very serious financial situation that requires all of us to work on this together.
maporsche
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Jun, 2009 09:58 am
JPB, I am very interested and will hopefully post later when I have more time.
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Jun, 2009 01:10 pm
@maporsche,
hiya, map. I'm looking forward to your thoughts.
0 Replies
 
Yankee
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Jun, 2009 01:50 pm
@JPB,
Quote:
Personally, I'd like to jump straight to term limits for congress and the elimination of the power of the parties


Unfortunate that it might come to this. The Founding Fathers felt that the House of the People should judge their Representatives every 2 years while the House of Lords went out 6 years. Term limits in the House may be difficult as here have been many in the past who actually deserved to be re-elected time and again. The Senate seems ready for term limits in my view, but again, those who are effective could suffer.

Quote:
I think the PAYGO plan announced yesterday is a must do baby step.


Is my memory failing or do I recall not so long ago, a Constitutional Amendment was considered/debated to force balanced budgets Exception for National Emergency such as war funding?)?

Voters needs to educate themselves. I agree with you there. The problem is the mis-information being "reported" from all sources, be it media or special interests or the Government itself. How does the casual voter determine fact from "fiction".

0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Jun, 2009 04:27 pm
@JPB,
That was a powerful documentary.
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Jun, 2009 09:16 am
One of the biggest problems, as I see it, is that videos like this end up preaching to the choir. Take 30 minutes out of your life to gain an understanding of what's going on with our economy? Not very likely. So, education is the key along with oversight of our elected officials, but how do you get the attention of joe q public away from the shock jocks?
Yankee
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Jun, 2009 06:17 am
@JPB,
There is an old saying and it is true today I believe.

People vote with their wallets.

Once people feel taxation is excessive, they suddenly pay attention. California may be a good example given the recent defeat of a tax increase bill.

People who claim to be Liberal, are only "liberal" until it effects "their wallets". Same with those who consider themselves Conservative.

I think people just like to stand in a "group" regardless of their true beliefs. I submit, most who label themselves Liberal or Conservative really do not know the meaning of the label.

That is sad.
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Jun, 2009 09:05 am
@Yankee,
David Walker on health care reform this morning on MSNBC

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036789#31238294

0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Jun, 2009 10:16 am
@FreeDuck,
FreeDuck wrote:

That was a powerful documentary.


Hi FD,

Yes it's very powerful and lays it all out there. I just hope words like the ones in the video get a wider audience.

As an aside, I sent the Walker clip on health care reform to the White House and my congressmen. They may get tired of hearing from me but I can't sit by and not put a voice to my concerns that we've got to stop treating politics as a game between sides and find ways to work together to come up with some real solutions.

Earlier this week I sent the PGPF video and the Newsweek link to Joe Scarborough at MSNBC with the suggestion that Peterson and/or Walker would make great guests for his show. I have no idea if today's segment was already scheduled but I was thrilled to see him there this morning.
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