Month: July 2011
More from ReasonTV: “We may not be able to address our current debt ceiling woes, but we can at least put them to a good beat.”
INCREASING THE STATUTORY LIMIT ON THE PUBLIC DEBT — (Senate – March 16, 2006)
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Mr. President, I rise today to talk about America’s debt problem.
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies.
Over the past 5 years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion. That is “trillion” with a “T.” That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers. And over the next 5 years, between now and 2011, the President’s budget will increase the debt by almost another $3.5 trillion.
Numbers that large are sometimes hard to understand. Some people may wonder why they matter. Here is why: This year, the Federal Government will spend $220 billion on interest. That is more money to pay interest on our national debt than we’ll spend on Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. That is more money to pay interest on our debt this year than we will spend on education, homeland security, transportation, and veterans benefits combined. It is more money in one year than we are likely to spend to rebuild the devastated gulf coast in a way that honors the best of America.
And the cost of our debt is one of the fastest growing expenses in the Federal budget. This rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy, robbing our cities and States of critical investments in infrastructure like bridges, ports, and levees; robbing our families and our children of critical investments in education and health care reform; robbing our seniors of the retirement and health security they have counted on.
Every dollar we pay in interest is a dollar that is not going to investment in America’s priorities. Instead, interest payments are a significant tax on all Americans–a debt tax that Washington doesn’t want to talk about. If Washington were serious about honest tax relief in this country, we would see an effort to reduce our national debt by returning to responsible fiscal policies.
But we are not doing that. Despite repeated efforts by Senators CONRAD and FEINGOLD, the Senate continues to reject a return to the commonsense Pay-go rules that used to apply. Previously, Pay-go rules applied both to increases in mandatory spending and to tax cuts. The Senate had to abide by the commonsense budgeting principle of balancing expenses and revenues. Unfortunately, the principle was abandoned, and now the demands of budget discipline apply only to spending.
As a result, tax breaks have not been paid for by reductions in Federal spending, and thus the only way to pay for them has been to increase our deficit to historically high levels and borrow more and more money. Now we have to pay for those tax breaks plus the cost of borrowing for them. Instead of reducing the deficit, as some people claimed, the fiscal policies of this administration and its allies in Congress will add more than $600 million in debt for each of the next 5 years. That is why I will once again cosponsor the Pay-go amendment and continue to hope that my colleagues will return to a smart rule that has worked in the past and can work again.
Our debt also matters internationally. My friend, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, likes to remind us that it took 42 Presidents 224 years to run up only $1 trillion of foreign-held debt. This administration did more than that in just 5 years. Now, there is nothing wrong with borrowing from foreign countries. But we must remember that the more we depend on foreign nations to lend us money, the more our economic security is tied to the whims of foreign leaders whose interests might not be aligned with ours.
Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.
I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.
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Even without counting most unfunded liabilities, the national debt is now calculated to be nearing $14.1 trillion. It increases about $4.22 billion per day (each citizen’s share stands at roughly $45K). Thus, Democrats will soon demand that the debt ceiling be raised, lest the sky fall. When they do, they will be asking for a significant boost in a ceiling that is already 60 percent higher than the one Barack Obama said was “a sign of leadership failure” five years ago.
Senator Barack Obama Explaining his 2006 Vote Against Raising the Debt Limit, By Andrew C. McCarthy
I almost hesitate to mention it, but I maxed out my credit line, again. I owe only slightly more than half of what our entire country generates in revenue in a year. How about increasing my limit a few trillion more? Four trillion should hold me over for the rest of the year. I’ve got this spending habit I’m trying to kick. Despite being paid BILLIONS a day, I need more right now. I commit to getting that under control, soon. After the next election for sure. In the meanwhile, I think I should be paid more. Would help with my spending habit. Also, you better act quick on helping me out or somebody’s going to suffer. It’s going to look bad. I promise. Not a threat, just saying.
Yours truly, Uncle Sam.
|Current||Debt Held by the Public||Intragovernmental Holdings||Total US Public Debt Outstanding|
Info courtesy of US Treasury Dept. (does not include State gov debts)
U.S. Long-Term Debt Situation Is One of the World’s Worst :
This year, the U.S. public debt is projected to reach 62 percent of the economy—up from 40 percent in 2008 and nearly double the historical average, according to recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates. The financial crisis and recession drove much of this debt swing, yet larger problems loom in the future. By 2030, the CBO projects that debt will more than double to 146 percent of GDP.
This past April, the U.S. Supreme Court announced a landmark decision upholding Arizona’s tuition tax credit program. Opponents claimed it violated the “separation of church and state” because of the benefits that flow to religious schools—through several layers of PRIVATE choice that allow more families to place their children in private schools. Here’s how it works:
- Private individuals organize “School Tuition Organizations” to manage and
distribute scholarship funds to families who want to place their children in
private schools. There’s a wide variety—some of these limit scholarships to particular religious schools (Catholic, Jewish, evangelical) while others do not.
- Taxpayers voluntarily donate to School Tuition Organizations of their choice and receive a state tax credit (up to $500)—thus directing a few of their own “tax
dollars” according to private choice.
- Families apply to an STO of their choice for funds, and choose from among the schools that STO has chosen to support.
The opponents – who sued to have the law declared unconstitutional – lacked legal “standing.” NONE of their tax dollars went to any of the STOs or any of the private schools, religious or otherwise. Thus they suffered no legal “injury.”
Like so many recent Supreme Court decisions, this one was close – 5 to 4. Justice Kennedy is the “swing vote” who made the difference.
Congratulations, Arizona families! You have choices about where to educate your children, without having to pay twice—first through your tax dollars that support public education, and again through tuition for your choice of private schools.
And besides the benefits to families, this important decision may help to ward off other ominous litigation—for example, challenges by non-believers to the minister’s parsonage allowance, a critical tax benefit for churches and pastors.
From Mark Steyn’s Happy Warrior column, National Review July 18, 2011:
A government big enough to give you everything you want isn’t big enough to get you to give any of it back. That’s the stage Greece is at and so, to one degree or another, is the rest of the Western world. In the United States, our democracy is trending as Athenian as the rest: We’re the Brokest Nation in History, but, as those Medicare polls suggest, getting enough people to give enough of it back isn’t going to be any easier than it is in Greece. From Athens to Madison, Wis., too many people have gotten used to a level of comfort and ease they haven’t earned.
The social capital of a nation is built up over centuries but squandered in a generation or two. With blithe self-confidence, the post-war West changed too much too fast. We changed everything, and yet we’ll still wonder why everything’s changed.
“Our very nature demands home. It is the first essential element of our social being. This cannot be complete without home relations. ” John Potts
One of the best fringe benefits of practicing intellectual property law is meeting creative and innovative people. Several years ago I was blessed to receive a call from Vicky West, who with her daughters went by the name The West Girls. They needed help copyrighting their new album, Further Along, which they independently produced and wrote most the songs from their remote holler somewhere in the back hills of Tennessee. I quickly realized that not only was the album independently produced, the family itself is simply independent — self-sustaining (in the temporal sense) and off the grid — four miles from the nearest power line! Their album is simply great blue grass and is available in CD directly from them and via download through Amazon. Greenbeans in the Garden is one of my family’s all-time favorite songs. (It appears that when they’re singing about greenbean gardens, they know what they’re talking about – see here.) There’s not a bad song on the album; the entire album is a favorite of mine. I understand that they may be soon releasing their second album … Can’t wait to hear it.
The West Girls, now more commonly known as The West Ladies, have also been involved with several other productions under their label Homestead Blessings, such as a multi-part DVD series on valuable homemaking skills, including instruction in bread making, candle making, soap making, canning, gardening, herbs, cooking, dairy, and sewing.
Tim Jore, of Distant Shores Media, is a guest contributor to the Sapphire Sky blog. He, together with his wife and a great team of people at DSM, are helping to equip the global church with unrestricted discipleship resources that are intended for use on mobile phones. Find out more in the video and join the community at facebook.com/distantshoresmedia and facebook.com/door43!
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In 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that barring same-sex couples from civil marriage was unconstitutional. In an advisory opinion to the state legislature on why enacting “civil unions” as an alternative to marriage was legally insufficient, the Court explained its view that “segregating same-sex unions from opposite-sex unions cannot possibly be held rationally to advance or preserve” the governmental aim of encouraging “stable adult relationships for the good of the individual and of the community, especially its children.” Under this decision, the state of Massachusetts began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in May 2004. Over the next seven years, activist courts across the country continued to rule that the failure or refusal to extend “marriage” to gay couples violated state and the federal constitution. See here.
Polls show an ever increasing number of Americans support the notion of gay marriages, demonstrating yet again the normative influence of laws over time and the power and consequence of an activist judiciary. See here.
This past June, the New York legislature was the first body of elected officials to pass a gay marriage statute on its own volition.
Two leading conservative evangelicals point the blame for this unbiblical re-defining of marriage not on the activist courts or the politicians, but instead on the Church. Ken Ham observes of the NY gay marriage law, “This is only the latest in a long list of how America has been turning its back on biblical authority.” See here. Mr. Ham points out that the church and Christian leaders have so compromised God’s word and failed to teach apologetics and that faith that the current generations are simply walking away from the faith and Biblical truth is increasingly ignored. Mr. Ham explains and demonstrates these points at the church and Christian college level in his two recent books Already Gone and Already Compromised.
In a recent interview with Charisma News, Dr. Michael Youssef expressed a similar sentiment:
Younger evangelicals have been sucked in by false teaching and are now walking away and turning their backs on biblical morality. The only morality they look at is taking care of the poor by the government—not by us but by the government. That is very dangerous. …
This problem started in the church. The society did not begin to collapse on its own, morally, when churches started to reject the authority of the word of God. The debate about homosexuality started in the church and not politics. The Episcopal Church started the whole thing by ordaining gays and blessing gay marriages. That came from the church pulpit into society. Then the Presbyterians followed and now many evangelicals don’t want to talk about it. The main issue is rejecting God’s word as authoritative over us as individuals and as a church. As goes the church so goes society. The church is the one that needs to repent first. It is my call to the church … to call the church to repentance. Until that happens society is going to continue going in a downward spiral.
Alan Sears recently wrote in American Thinker that the church’s morale failure has been by design, which would make repentance of the church even more difficult:
The church survived intact until late in the 20th century, when the leftist onslaught changed from “in your face” to “in your place,” and activists of every stripe pursued the pulpit in order to further their various causes. (Thus, certain churches are often accomplices in things like the homosexual agenda instead of an impediment to it.) Thus, rather than calling the culture to repentance in light of biblical truth, churches increasingly reflected the culture, actually providing a degree of spiritual comfort for all sorts of behavior.
Mr. Sears sees the church’s being encroached by the dollar and by government.
At CatholicCulture.org, Dr. Jeff Mirus recently explained why homosexuality may provide the impetus for the next gulag.
No group is more hateful to modern society than the perceived moralistic prigs who, out of what most perceive as religiously-motivated prejudice, seek to diminish the personal sexual liberty of others. Nothing could be more obvious in our current culture than that such people must be silenced and, if necessary, restrained. Moreover, it seems only right and just that their denunciation of the gay lifestyle and their opposition to gay marriage should be criminalized. In fact, it should be criminalized in the name of liberty. That is why gay marriage is the lie that will create the next Gulag.
Dr. Mirus concisely explains how we’re following the logical path of “sterile” marriages, i.e. where reproduction is no longer the central focus of marriage and sex. The path started with divorce and then to birth control, abortion, homosexual marriage and increasingly suppression of opposition. There is increasing evidence of a future where standing for Biblical truths will result in criminal and professional punishment. Dr. Mirus advises that we are to live the Truth of Christ in our lives and in our families in the days to come, particularly in the face of persecution.
The prospect of criminal and professional persecution of those who espouse or practice Biblical truths is not terribly far fetched or far off. Indeed, my State Bar of NC recently tried to prohibit its licensed attorneys from taking taking sexual orientation, transgender, or sexual identity issues into consideration during the course of practicing law, such as when hiring new attorneys or deciding whether to represent a client.
Not only are Baby Boomers leaving future American generations with trillions of dollars of debt to repay, but these sexual Bolsheviks appear intent on establishing Pink Fascism as part of their legacy. Pray hard for repentance and revival.
“I Was Born This Way”
And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me … Whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death. Prov 8:32-36
Lady Gaga’s most recent hit, which reached no. 1 on the sales charts, captures current popular moral sentiment. Gaga’s assessment of our condition is spot on, however, her moral conclusion (and encouragement) is quite unbiblical and wrong. Gaga’s lyrics:
My mama told me when I was young
We are all born superstars
She rolled my hair and put my lipstick on
In the glass of her boudoir
“There’s nothin wrong with lovin who you are”
She said, “’cause he made you perfect, babe”
“So hold your head up girl and you’ll go far,
Listen to me when I say”
I’m beautiful in my way
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way
Don’t hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track baby
I was born this way
Ooo there ain’t no other way
Baby I was born this way
Baby I was born this way
Don’t be a drag – just be a queen
Don’t be a drag – just be a queen
Don’t be a drag – just be a queen
Whether you’re broke or evergreen
You’re black, white, beige, chola descent
You’re lebanese, you’re orient
Whether life’s disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
‘Cause baby you were born this way
No matter gay, straight, or bi,
Lesbian, transgendered life
I’m on the right track baby
I was born to survive
I was born this way hey!…
Lady Gaga captures popular American moral sentiment. While sounding cutting edge rock-n-roll, Gaga’s moral message is mundane popular moral sentiment: look to yourself and be true to what you find. Walt Disney movies often pound the theme of believing in yourself and never losing sight of your dreams. There is good in believing in yourself and your aspirations, to a point. Follows our pop culture cue and runs full speed past that point and never looks back.
Lady Gaga celebrates the way we’re born, whether it’s our race, sexual orientation or gender identity. According to her, if you follow the way you were born, you’re on the right track. If you were born a bisexual drag queen, you’re on the right track because you were born that way and God doesn’t make mistakes … according to Ms. Gaga. I wonder whether she feels the same about pedophiles, sadists, bigamists, and misanthropes. Regardless, her message is quite familiar: trust yourself and how you feel, particularly in matters of sexuality.
Lady Gaga’s moral conclusion is even more errant than her wardrobe. The wisest man reported to have lived instructed that “He who trusts in himself is a fool …” (Prov. 28:26). Gag is correct that we are born a particular way. The Bible is quite clear that we’re born into a fallen state of rebellion. From cover to cover, the Bible makes very clear that our internal moral compass does not naturally steer in a “good” direction. To the contrary, our natural paths is straight to Hell. Jesus Christ clearly explained to Nicodemus that we are not to rely upon they way we are born:
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
John 3:3-6. Contrary to Gaga, we were not born “on the right track.” The track Gaga celebrates, the track of our natural desires in the flesh, is the track to God’s condemnation. Gaga praises the way of death. We are born in the flesh, but if we are to enjoy eternal life with God, we must be born again in the Spirit.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:3-5. We should pray that God will fully open Lady Gaga’s eyes and convict her heart that the way she was born is not the way, the truth or the life, and that The Way is Jesus Christ.
Trust in the Lord and walk in His ways. Eat from His table and drink from His cup. Praise Him and follow Him.