Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Let's deconstruct what the other answers will be

[draft; to be completed]

Today's question in the AL.com candidate essay and online discussion event was the question for Representative DeMarco about the EPA killing small business.  Before I saw Rep. DeMarco's essay, I posted this.  I stand on that posting after seeing Rep. DeMarco's essay, and that posting should indicate how I am going to deconstruct other candidates' answers before they give their answers.

AL.com said essays will be posted alphabetically, but said DeMarco's essay would be posted first.  I don't know whether Will Brooke will be tomorrow, or whether alphabetical after DeMarco will be followed. The question for Will Brooke is probably of greatest concern to the voters, so let's start with that.

Brooke question regarding Federal budget  

The question for Will Brooke is to explain his idea of a gradual process towards a balanced Federal budget.

We have heard all the candidates decry the staggering, and ever mounting, national debt, and what our children and grandchildren are going to be saddled with.

Do the candidates think average Democrats and average independents sit around at dinner parties and gleefully watch the U.S. National Debt Clock race through $250,000,000 or so (even before they get to dessert!) and cheer, "yeh, go baby go"?  I don't think so.  I think average Democrats and average independents are extremely bothered and worry greatly for their children and grandchildren too.

Do the other candidates think all average Democrats and average independents want to continue to increase spending and increase taxes more, without regard to consequences for the economy?

Do the other candidates think average Democrats and average independents are smitten with Federal government waste, bloat and inefficiencies?

How much more willing are Republicans, than Democrats and independents, to hold back Social Security benefit increases or reduce Medicare spending and benefits?

How much more willing are Republicans, than Democrats and independents, to give up generous student loan programs, including scheduled forgiveness of student loans?

Of persons who are at 100% of poverty level or slightly above, and who receive tax subsidies which almost completely cover their health insurance premiums, how many are Republicans, how many are Democrats, and how many are independents?  Will those who are Republicans be more willing to give up their tax subsidies if the Affordable Care Act is repealed?

Do the other candidates point fingers exclusively at Democrats for the failure of Congress to agree on budgets and take steps to get a grip on the national debt?

I have been saying throughout this campaign that Congress has performed abysmally or has plain stopped functioning for the American people. Call what Congress has exhibited the past couple of years "antics" or something else, it is appalling and disgusting.

How bothered by their abysmal performance is the political class in Washington?  I think it is less bothered by this, than by worry about whether somehow they won't stay in office or worry about having their power and wealth reduced.

The other candidates don't want to talk about the political class in Washington and whether it has put its personal interests too much ahead of the interests of the American people, and what is needed to change that.  This is going to make Will Brooke's answer to his question an inadequate answer.

What can we speculate that Will Brooke will say, before he says it?

Will he start with Congressman Ryan's Path to Prosperity budget, and go from there?  Congressman Ryan has much personal knowledge and expertise, and has substantial staff and other resources to draw upon, about ways for Congress to deal with the budget and get a grip on the national debt.  Will Will Brooke hold himself out that he knows better than Congressman Ryan how to move to a balanced budget?

What will Will Brooke say about the politics of his ideas?  What can Will Brooke tell the voters about the politics of the Path to Prosperity budget?  Can Will Brooke say anything more than: "Here are some ideas I have.  Unfortunately I have no basis for encouraging you to think I or my ideas will make one whit of difference in Washington in the next two years."

We will see.

My entry Dear Cheryl re RWOT May 1 candidate forum expresses my skepticism about what Will Brooke will have to offer in what he says.

Next, Chad Mathis on waste, fraud and abuse, etc.

[edit 4/30 9 am.  An email just advised that Dr. Mathis' essay will be about government shutdown. I will leave the below alone and not do anything to accommodate what the email advised.]

The Federal government is gargantuan, and waste, fraud and abuse are gargantuan.

The Justice Department has a huge Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program.  We'll see if Dr. Mathis thinks he has ideas for improving that program, and his ideas are a reason for voters to vote for him.*

Every Secretary of Defense has a super human challenge in trying control bloat and waste in the Defense Department.  This is due to (i) the monstrous size of the Defense Department; (ii) the great difficulty in weighing costs and benefits of categories of expenditures for personnel, equipment, weapons and research and development; (iii) politics and desires of lawmakers for their home states, (iv) a military bureaucracy as to which it can be hard to separate out what is self-serving from what serves the national interest, and (v) the critical importance of national security, which can engender a "better safe than sorry" thinking. We'll see whether Dr. Mathis has anything to offer for how the Secretary of Defense can be more effective in controlling bloat and waste in the Defense Department.

In 2011, I read an interesting book Top Secret America, and it led me to do this entry: Top Secret Corruption. I am at a loss about how to deal with Top Secret Corruption (and Waste and Abuse).  If Dr. Mathis has some suggestions, I am all ears.

The political class in Washington, keenly on the lookout for itself, does not have the highest motivation regarding waste, fraud and abuse.  Attacking waste, fraud and abuse too aggressively may step on the toes of others in the Washington political class, who get some benefit from the waste, fraud and abuse in their domain, and that could invite retaliation against the political class member who is too aggressive.  Also, aggressiveness may tick off constituents,voters, and other donors, and lose a lawmaker campaign contributions and other support.

A good recent example is the protracted battle that The Wall Street Journal had to wage in order to get access to information about Medicare payments to doctors in order to try to expose fraud and abuse in Medicare. It is understandable that the AMA (I think) resisted the public getting access to the information in question, and the political class in Washington preferred not being in the forefront in allowing the public access to the information.

The rise in claims and payouts under the Social Security disability program has attracted a lot of attention recently.  See this Cato Institute article.  How quickly or slowly Congress reacts to this remains to be seen. It is fair to say it is not high on the priority list of the political class in Washington, and it is another good example of how Congress is not working for the American people.

To change the foregoing requires changing the ways of Washington.  Throughout this campaign I have endeavored to engage the other candidates about what is needed to change the ways of Washington.  They have steadfastly declined to engage about this, and all they have done is fatuously say to the voters, "All you need to do is to elect me, and I will go to Washington and change it for you."  See Dr. Mathis is fatuous and stupid Open letter to Representative DeMarco; and Dear Dolores.

I have basically been saying it is going to take a nationwide uprising of the voters to change the ways of Washington  See National battle plan (2014).  You may say that is never going to happen, and you may be right.  At least you should be clear that just about everything you are hearing from the other candidates is a lot of hokum, which is not going to happen either, and you should at least have your eyes open about that.
* Dr. Mathis may contend that private parties and health insurance companies are better at preventing or ferreting out health care fraud than is the government, and he may use that when he goes to Washington and embarks on repealing and replacing Obamacare.  I think Dr. Mathis is deluding himself in thinking he will be anything but essentially a nullity on health care in the Congress.  I would be interested in Dr. Mathis speak about what he thinks he knows about the politics of health care.  If he hasn't read them, I recommend he read Inside National Health Reform, by John E. McDonough (concerning the enactment of the Affordable Care Act), and THE SYSTEM: The American Way of Politics at the Breaking Point, by Haynes Johnson and David S. Broder (regarding the 1994 effort at health care reform). I suppose it is possible Dr. Mathis could become the next Newt Gingrich. Voters will have to decide for themselves about that.

CONTINUED AT:   On to Palmer and Vignuelle

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