Raising the Debt Ceiling & Hurricane Irma
There are always two sides to every story concerning President Trump and Congress agreeing to raise the debt ceiling as a method to fund $15 billion in Hurricane Harvey & Irma relief and to keep the federal government open until December 15th. President Trump and Congress, on a bipartisan basis, are in denial by not acknowledging the relationship between funding the relief effort and the ongoing financial budget crises.
Everyone agrees that there is justification for appropriating a down payment of $8 billion toward Hurricane Harvey relief effort. It was a question of finding $8 billion within a $3.7 trillion dollar budget. It has been a 100 year tradition to authorize and appropriate emergency funding under extraordinary circumstances without looking for set asides from existing funding to pay for it.
Both President Trump and Congress continue to ignore our national debt, which is now $20 trillion. This averages $61,325 per citizen or $165,805 per taxpayer. (Source: National Debt Clock). Our legal debt limit of $20 trillion will officially run out at the end of September, due to our excessive current rate of spending.
There are thousands of employees who are familiar with the details of our federal budget. How difficult can it be to find $8 billion in savings? This represents a fraction of 1% in the overall 3.7 trillion dollar budget which could have provided funding today without raising the debt ceiling.
Millions of Americans cut far more out of their household budgets monthly to make ends meet. Our national unemployment rate still averages 5%. This does not count the 5% more who have given up looking and the millions more who are working part time. Many working at minimum wage or slightly above or part time desire a better paying full time job. There is clearly less disposable income for residents of Nassau County and other neighbors to spend. Many former two incomes households have to live on one pay check. Some face both wage earners out of work. Don’t forget those who have exhausted their unemployment insurance and savings. All of the above has resulted in far tighter family budgets.
This translates to eating out less frequently or dining at less expensive restaurants. Repairing and making due with existing clothing, appliances, furniture, household items and automobiles rather than buying new has become a regular part of life. People are postponing major house renovations such as painting, siding, roof shingles, bathroom and other major upgrades. People are foregoing nonessential pampering. This has a ripple effect, as people who provide these services have less work. Isn’t it time for Washington to live within its available existing revenues without excessive borrowing, just like millions of ordinary citizens?.
The President and Congress have forgotten the old saying – a penny saved is a penny earned. Perhaps Americans should send both a penny to remind them that it is not a sin to save.
There was a time when Congress held budget hearings for each department during the Summer. A real balanced budget was adopted during an open process. The public, watchdog groups and media were afforded sufficient time to understand the full contents prior to adoption. Full federal budgets were adopted on time prior to the start of any new Federal Fiscal year on October 1.
We need new incentives for the President and Congress to do their jobs on time. Let us propose we dock them a day’s pay for each day a complete balanced budget for Federal Fiscal Year 2018 is not adopted by September 30th. The results will be different when any delay comes out of their pockets instead of taxpayers.
In the Aftermath of Charlottesville & Extremism
After the fallout of the Lakewood public assistance crisis the VAAD decided to reinvent themselves. They hired a public relations agency to polish their image. On a daily basis magazine articles were now being published making the VAAD seem relevant and caring. VAAD members on Hatzola were interviewed. The benefits of VAAD related businesses such as CHEMED were mentioned. The historical significance of the leaders of the VAAD and their integral bond with Lakewood history was discussed. These articles were meant to be read by all local residents as well as the orthodox community to remind everyone of the benefits and accomplishments of the VAAD.
A few weeks later the country became obsessed with the events of an Alt Right wing march in Charlottesville to protest the removal of confederate statues . Many of the participants chanted old Nazi slogans such as “Blood and Soil” and “Jews will not replace us”.
The response from Donald Trump was tepid and seemed to defend some of those marching with the Neo Nazis. Alternate speeches were given, only to once again be wiped away with the next days questionable speech. Jewish media responded by either condemning or defending the President’s response. Pundits squared off all over social media, and the overall orthodox response was still supportive of the President. The Lakewood VAAD felt that they should speak up as well and decided to condemn the Presidential response to the Charlottesville protest.
They were obviously trying to seem relevant as leaders of the Lakewood community. Their PR firm must have told them that showing concern about Anti Semitism would put them in a positive light. As leaders they should show their outrage .
Many people in the Lakewood Orthodox community guffawed at the statement. They never saw a VAAD statement about any presidential actions before. Some people in the Orthodox community were outraged that the VAAD would antagonize the President. Many are still very supportive of Trump and feel we need to show our support . Whatever one may think of the VAAD position on Donald Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville, one thing is abundantly clear. This statement is the most disingenuous, hypocritical statement the VAAD ever made.