Politics, Economics, and the Law
A Few Words for the Republican Caucus
March 10, 2012Posted by on
I attended my local Republican caucus this morning. That was… something.
I don’t really consider this a speech, but it probably fits the definition. I tried to tailor it somewhat to the expected audience without compromising the intended message. I suspect my words made little difference to anyone present.
More on the Kansas primary in the semi-near future.
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Despite what the various conservative pundits may have said, the single most pressing issue of this election is not abortion, illegal immigration, or gay marriage. There is, naturally, still room to discuss these issues, however the single most pressing issue facing our country is financial. Our current economic situation can be characterized as anything from “unimpressive” to “grim,” depending on how you want to count things, and whether you want to compare it to several European nations, or look at it in absolute terms. Current U.S. debt is between nine and fifteen trillion dollars, depending on how one counts. That is between about sixty, and about one-hundred percent of America’s gross domestic product. For perspective, if you had been born at the same time as Jesus, and had spent a million dollars every single day between then and now, you’d still not have spent one trillion dollars. The government expects to add at least this amount in the coming year. And I’m not even going to get into unfunded liabilities, which is the money the federal government has promised to pay out in the future, but does not yet have funds to do so. That figure somewhere north of sixty trillion.
What are we doing that is so expensive? For the 2011 fiscal year, the federal government spent about $3.5 trillion dollars, and took in about $2.3 trillion, a $1.2 trillion dollar shortfall. 23%, about $835 billion, was spent on medicare/medicaid. 20%, or $725 billion, was spent on social security. Together these two programs amount to about $1.5 trillion dollars. 19% of the budget, or $700 billion, was spent by the Defense Department. These are the three main expense items on the federal budget, and all together account for $2.2 trillion dollars, which is 62% of the budget. It does not matter what your opinion is of social entitlement programs, and it does not matter what your opinion is concerning defense spending. The numbers are quite clear; we cannot afford to pay for all of it. We already know what our future holds, should we continue down our current path. We only need to look at Europe, and at Greece in particular. Our current future is one of a debt crisis, riots and disorder, and the very possible collapse of the dollar.
So how does this relate to the election? I have hopefully shown that we can’t afford another President who ignores economic reality. There are two ways to successfully address our financial situation: The government can massively increase its revenues, a burden which would almost certainly fall on the middle class, as they have enough money to be worth taking, but not enough to afford lobbyists. Alternately, the government can massively cut spending. This means that at least some of your sacred cows will be going to the slaughter.
To whom shall we look for salvation? Our current President? I think I can safely assume that no one here favors another four years of President Obama. What about the current front-runner, Mr. Romney? Evidence suggests that he would use a bit of both options. There will be some cuts, and taxes or fees will also go up. Evidence also suggests he won’t do enough of either to matter, in the long run. Mr. Santorum? Santorum is a moral crusader, and a “Big Government Conservative.” He needs his government big enough to help the groups he favors and suppress those he doesn’t. He is unlikely to make government any cheaper, or any less intrusive. And Mr. Gingrich, that relic of the 90s, has claimed on occasion that he wants a Moon base. Now, I think a Moon base sounds amazing, but it also sounds extremely expensive. We cannot afford a President who is this out of touch with our present reality. And what of Dr. Paul? I don’t agree with absolutely everything Ron Paul proposes, and I suspect many of you agree with even less than I do, but he does stand head and shoulders above all the other candidates when it comes to understanding the economy. The reality is that our economy is the single most important issue facing our country at this time, and it should be your most important issue when voting. We can’t afford to delay fixing the economic mess we’re in, and for this reason I would urge you to support the one candidate who seems to have a clue how to make the necessary repairs to it, Dr. Ron Paul.