Growth or Implosion? The case for abolishing the toxic tax code & starting over.

implosion-softcover(Washington, D.C.) – As readers of this blog know, I generally write about trends in Israel, the Middle East and Russia. But because I love the United States, I feel compelled to write today about how much trouble we are in economically and one set of changes we urgently need to make.

Today is Tax Day, the day all Americans are required to send in our federal income tax forms to the IRS and pray to God we didn’t make a mistake. What an utter disaster our current federal tax code is. As one Congressman put it, our tax code is ten times longer than the Bible with none of the good news. It’s long, complex, confusing, and a magnet for lobbyists all trying to carve out a deal for themselves. It forces Americans to spend six billion hours a year — that’s right, six billion hours — filling out tax forms, and to stay up worrying at night that they’ll get dragged into an audit, or worse.

We can do better. Indeed, we must if we’re ever going to get America back on the right track. It’s time for our nation to come together around bold, sweeping tax reform that will unleash the great potential of the American people, get this economy roaring again, severely reduce the power of the IRS, and drain the cesspool of corruption in Washington.

Ultimately, tax reform is not primarily an economic issue but a moral one. The current system is creating a terrible drag on our economy and suffocating the creation of millions of good, high-paying jobs. But it is also punishing marriage, children, work and savings.

Tax reform should be a bipartisan issue. The vast majority of Americans want to scrap the toxic IRS code and replace with a new system that is pro-family and pro-growth. So let’s get to it.

After all, the stakes are high. If we don’t pass serious tax reform soon, we won’t be able to get our economy growing at full strength. Millions of people will remain unemployed or under-employed. Real wages will stay stagnant or fall. We won’t be able to afford a military strong enough to protect ourselves, our allies or our vital national interests around the world. We won’t be able to honor our promises to the Greatest Generation via Social Security or Medicare. We won’t be able to balance our budget or stop borrowing from the Chinese.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are good ideas from good leaders on the table that could help us turn things around.

  • A new poll commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers show overwhelming bipartisan support for bold tax reform.
  • Steve Forbes — for whom I used to work as the director of policy and communications — continues to make a solid case for the Flat Tax.
  • Former Senator Rick Santorum – who won eleven states and four million votes in 2012 — has an excellent op-ed out today on the need for bold tax reform and the principles that should drive the debate.
  • Many other serious leaders — including Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin – are making the case for serious reform, as well.

In the end, America needs a Third Great Awakening — a sweeping moral and spiritual revival — not just economic growth. But we need growth and opportunity, too.

Here are excerpts from the non-fiction book I wrote in 2012, Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic & Spiritual Challenges In Time?

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The Road to Reform . . . ?

Some experts and think tanks believe there is still time to turn things around. At least two have laid out detailed reform plans worth considering.

Congressman Paul Ryan has developed his “Roadmap for America’s Future.” This detailed legislative proposal cuts tax rates and simplifies the tax code to reignite economic growth. It cuts and restrains federal spending. It reforms Social Security and Medicare in ways that protect the existing system for current retirees and those close to retirement while also improving the system for younger workers. For example, Ryan proposes the retirement age be gradually and incrementally increased from sixty-five years old to seventy years old, since people are living and working longer. He also proposes that younger workers can invest some of their current payroll taxes into tax-free personal retirement accounts that permit low-risk investments in mutual funds and annuities. The Ryan plan also includes specific details to balance the budget and reduce federal debt—all, presumably, before an implosion of the American economy occurs.[i]

The Heritage Foundation has also released a very detailed reform plan. It’s called, “Saving the American Dream: The Heritage Plan to Fix the Debt, Cut Spending, and Restore Prosperity.” While the principles are similar to Congressman Ryan’s plan, some of the specifics are different. Both plans call for fully repealing “ObamaCare,” and both create personal retirement accounts within the Social Security system for younger workers. However, while the Ryan plan calls for simplifying the federal tax code from its current six marginal tax brackets [NOTE: at the time I wrote Implosion, there were 6 rates; now there are 7] down to just two (a 10 percent rate and a 25 percent rate), the Heritage plan calls for a single flat tax (the rate is not yet determined). Whereas the Ryan plan would hold spending at 19 percent of GDP, the Heritage plan would restrain spending to 18.5 percent of GDP.

The Heritage plan was designed to balance the federal budget by 2021 and reduce the national debt to 30 percent of GDP by 2035. By contrast, because the Ryan plan phases in some of the reforms more gradually than the Heritage plan does, the “Roadmap” does not bring the federal budget into balance until after 2055. That may seem like a long time—and it is—but the Ryan plan should be compared not only with the Heritage plan but more importantly with the fact that President Obama has not laid out a reform plan of his own. Under the current trajectory, the Congressional Budget Office projects deficits as far as the eye can see through the twenty-first century. Without significant changes, the budget will never be balanced in our lifetimes. Worse, the CBO indicates that the national debt will hit a horrifying 185 percent of GDP by 2035.[ii]

Overall, the Heritage plan is much bolder than the Ryan plan, but there are various policy and political challenges to both. What remains to be seen is whether the American people have the stomach for either plan or a variation of one of them. The point is not that one plan is necessarily better than the other. The point I want to make here is that there are at least two serious, credible plans on the table right now that show us in specific ways how we can boost economic growth, create more jobs, reform our entitlement systems, and get ourselves back on the road to fiscal sanity before we implode. Perhaps others will develop bold, creative, and compassionate plans that will improve upon what Congressman Ryan and the Heritage Foundation have offered. I hope so. The more serious ideas in the mix, the better. There is still a way out of this mess, and that is good news, but the window to get started on such reforms is rapidly closing.

. . . Or the Road to Ruin?

If we don’t make desperately needed reforms, then we are most certainly on the path to ruin. Indeed, we could be on the road to Greece.

“America is on the road to re-creating Greece’s recent debt crisis,” noted business magazine Barron’s in a 2011 issue. “If a country as small and removed as Greece could generate the tremors that it did in the past year, how much worse would a national debt crisis be in the world’s largest economy?”[iii]

The article notes that “Greece, the world’s 27th-largest economy, is a minor player, even in the European Union. Yet a budget deficit of 13.6 percent of gross domestic product spiked its overall debt to 115 percent of GDP. Its debt fell to junk status, and it stood on the edge of bankruptcy. Only the massive May 2010 bailout by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund pulled it back from the brink.”[iv]

Citing sobering data from the Congressional Budget Office, Barron’s warned, “If you think debt problems like Greece’s can’t happen here, think again. . . . [Soon], U.S. debt will hit 132 percent of GDP—well above Greece’s 115 percent. Government spending will consume almost one-third of everything America produces—a level only reached at the height of World War II. Even raising taxes to their greatest ratio to the economy in America’s history wouldn’t offset the automatic spending machine. . . . Washington is on the road to Greece.”[v]

Bottom Line

America in 2012 owes more than $ 15 trillion to a range of creditors, many in foreign countries, including Communist China.

[NOTE: That was true when I wrote Implosion; but today our national debt is over $ 17 trillion.]

That’s bad enough, but it gets worse.

Most Americans don’t even realize that we owe another $ 57 trillion to cover a range of “unfunded liabilities,” including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits. America’s most respected financial experts—both Republicans and Democrats—are warning us that such staggering levels of current and coming debt could trigger an economic implosion unless we rapidly and courageously make fundamental and sweeping reforms. The good news is that at least two detailed and compelling reforms have been proposed.

Two key questions emerge. First, does Washington have the courage to follow those plans or variations on them? And second, will Americans reward or punish political leaders in Washington for pursuing such reforms?

As important as those questions are, however, there is another even more important question: Will the Lord give us the time we need to make these changes—however difficult and painful they would be—or will he simply choose in his sovereignty to let America implode financially?

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[i] Ryan, “A Roadmap for America’s Future,” http://www.roadmap.republicans.budget.house.gov/Plan/#budgetreform.

[ii] See Butler et al, “Saving the American Dream.” The Heritage plan quotes CBO projections extensively.

[iii] J. T. Young, “The Road to Greece,” Barron’s, January 22, 2011, http://online.barrons.com/article/SB50001424052970203676504575618561763058500.html.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.


Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

STUDY: U.S. policy has moved increasingly left over the last 70 years

Matt Grossman is a political scientist at Michigan State University. Last week he published an interesting op-ed in The Washington Post enttitled “U.S. policy has gone liberals’ way for 70 years.”

It shreds the establishment Republicans’ claims that moderate, centrist positions are a path to electoral victory. The reason?

Conservatives in Congress are the prime suspects in Washington’s dysfunction. Veteran congressional watchdogs Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann called the previous session the “worst Congress ever,” and they did not hold back in assigning blame: “The Republicans are the problem,” they said. After a fruitless government shutdown last fall, even House Speaker John Boehner lashed out at conservative groups and passed bills over the opposition of his caucus.

In response, conservatives make two simple claims: Most policies under debate are liberal, and Republican leaders sacrifice conservative principles when they compromise. History shows they are right on both counts.

The reason: the progressive left has framed the debate and the playing field for decades leaving the GOP to play non-stop defense.

…Of the 509 most significant domestic policies passed by Congress, only one in five were conservative, in that they contracted the scope of government funding, regulation or responsibility. More than 60 percent were liberal: They clearly expanded government. The others offered a mix of liberal or conservative components or took no clear ideological direction. When significant policy change occurs in the executive branch, it is even less likely to be conservative; only 10 percent of the executive orders and agency rules that policy historians cited were conservative.

Even labeling as conservative policy government expansions in pursuit of conservative goals, such as traditional values or tougher sentencing,
makes little difference in this conclusion; few significant policy changes fall into this category, though we hear about them often in campaigns…

In other words, when Congress acts it is almost invariably expanding government, not constraining it.

There is a good reason why conservatives are often charged with obstruction. When government is more active, it is usually moving policy to the left. When Congress has doubled its normal productivity, many more liberal laws pass but not necessarily more conservative laws. There was only one session of Congress, the two years after the Republican takeover in 1994, that was both active and conservative, but it did not last. Under President Ronald Reagan, the executive branch made more conservative policy changes only during the first two years of his presidency. Productive policymaking means more domestic spending, more business regulation and wider government responsibility.

The view that normal legislating and bipartisan compromises lead to expanded government is no tea party illusion; it is an accurate reading of the past 70 years.

…the federal government has continually expanded its role in education, civil rights, the environment and health care — and Republican presidents have played large roles in this. Nixon entrenched the Great Society and oversaw the environmental revolution. Reagan was less active domestically but signed more government expansions than contractions. President George H.W. Bush brought us landmarks such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, and his son brought us No Child Left Behind and a new Medicare entitlement.

This history does not bother some Republicans, who see opportunities to fashion new ideas and bargain in pursuit of conservative objectives. But even past policymaking designed to promote markets, safeguard morality and protect the homeland usually expanded government. If contraction is the goal, a positive policy agenda is unlikely to succeed…. The arc of the policy universe is long, but it bends toward liberalism. Conservatives can slow the growth of government but an enduring shift in policy direction would be unprecedented. History shows that a do-nothing Congress is a conservative’s best-case scenario.

All of this tells me that the only way to constrain government is to convene an Article V Convention of the States and to pass amendments similar to those described in The Liberty Amendments.

The federal government seems incapable of controlling itself, so it is incumbent upon the states to do so.

Hat tip: Mark Levin

Doug Ross @ Journal

Rancher Cliven Bundy Speaks: “I Don’t Recognize Them Having Any Jurisdiction or Authority Over This Land” *Video*

Update: [16:00 PST] – This video interview follows reports that up to 5,000 militia members are on their way to Nevada to stand with the Bundy family against massive government overreach. Earlier today Bundy family members and friends broke through the Federal blockade to rescue cattle stuck behind enemy lines.

Cliven-Bundy-Range-Wars

The man at the center of the dispute, rancher Cliven Bundy, joins Infowars‘ David Knight and Steve Quayle for an exclusive interview to discuss developments at Bunkerville, Nevada where there are now at least 300 Federal law enforcement agents surrounding the Bundy ranch.

According to Cliven Bundy, what’s at issue is that the US government has no right to call the shots over the land, as dictated by the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Mr. Bundy also notes that he and those arriving in the area are prepared to do whatever it takes to maintain their sovereignty.

The first thing we need to make clear is – who owns this land? That’s really not clear. We have a federal judge that says the United States owns this land. We have the United States Constitution that says Nevada owns this land.

So this is where I’m at… Let’s talk about my grazing fee… who am I supposed to pay my grazing fee to? Constitutional sovereignty of Nevada that owns this land?

No. The one I get the grazing fee bill from is the United States government.

I don’t recognize them having any jurisdiction or authority over this land. 

I do not have a contract with the United States government.

…I urge you, read the Constitution. Those founding fathers laid out how we’re supposed to act. They have all the answers already laid out for us. Why don’t we live that Constitution and be happy in America?

I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to do whatever it takes. The public and the protesters here… I think are ready to do whatever it takes, too.

In other words, this thing’s not gonna’ get over tomorrow. We’re going to fight until we win this and get our public lands back.


(Watch at Youtube)

This is a developing situation. 

Stay tuned for more information as it becoms available via SHTFplan.com, The Daily Sheeple, Infowars, Steve Quayle, et. al.


SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

Outrage Over Gun Free Zone: “The Very People Trained To Take Out Armed Attackers… Are Disarmed.”

soldiers-hands-tied

On Tuesday morning my good friend Ed Thomas and I sat down for breakfast at the local IHOP in Killeen, TX about 10 minutes from the entrance gates of the Fort Hood military base. Ed, who is one of the folks behind The Daily Sheeple news web site, is a retired Army veteran who spent nearly two years in the middle of it all while in Baghdad, Iraq. As is generally the case when Ed and I get together, we discussed a whole host of topics, one of which happened to be the 2009 Fort Hood shooting involving Nidal Hasan.

Not being a military man myself, I wasn’t quite clear on the inner workings of Fort Hood, a base at which Ed was stationed for quite some time and grew up around pretty much his whole life. I hit him with a barrage of questions surrounding the 2009 ordeal, and asked him how it was possible that a single lone gunman could kill 13 people and injure over 30 more, especially given that he was on a military base in the middle of Texas, a conceal-carry state.

His answer was simple.

“Fort Hood is a gun free zone, just like our schools.”

There are some 50,000 people stationed on the base at any given time (military and civilian), making Fort Hood essentially a small city packed into about 200,000 acres, which incidentally makes it the largest military base in the world. With that many people in one place, it becomes a numbers game. Eventually someone is going to snap, just like they do in the civilian world. And like many parts of the civilian world, the only people allowed to carry guns on base are personnel operating under the umbrella of the military police – who are the first responders for various incidents at the massive cantonment.

According to Ed, the military police face the same problem on this base as law enforcement officers face in any American city. When an active shooter is on the loose, they’re minutes away, giving the perpetrator vital time to execute his mission.

Wednesday morning I jumped on a plane heading back home. As soon as I landed and turned my phone back on, I had several texts from Ed.

“You’re not gonna’ believe this,” read one of them, “we were just talking about this YESTERDAY.”

“Active shooter on base. No real information at this time. Whole city is on lock-down.”

The incident is now becoming much more clear. What we know is that four people are dead and many others injured. The shooter was a non-combat service member. Perhaps the only good news was that the shooter took his own life, potentially preventing many more casualties.

Upon learning of the incident, I immediately thought back to Ed’s comment. Fort Hood is a “gun free zone,” and the incident itself was eerily reminiscent of other recent shootings at gun free zones like the Sandy Hook elementary school and the Century movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

You rarely hear about mass shootings in places where guns can be legally carried. And often, when a shooter with mass killing on his mind enters one of these facilities, he is put down by a law abiding citizen. One example of this was when an active shooter had executed two parishioners in a parking lot at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs back in 2007. As the shooter entered the building looking for more victims, armed security guard Jeanne Assam drew her personally owned concealed weapon and took him down. The shooter, now injured and unable to move, put the gun to his head and killed himself.

Giving law abiding citizens and trained military members the ability to carry their weapons may not prevent every gun death, but they could certainly limit the number of victims. One person with a gun could have prevented the Aurora theater shooting or the Sandy hook massacre, and saved scores of lives in the process.

In the aftermath of yet another Fort Hood mass shooting, this very argument has become a hot topic of discussion today, especially across the social network sphere, much to the chagrin of those who have, once again, begun calling for a nationwide ban on firearms.

Chet Cannon, a host on MTV, showed his outrage over the incident and echoed the sentiments of many proponents of self defense and personal responsibility via his Twitter feed when he noted, “Trained military in a GunFreeZone rendered helpless, again.”

But not everyone agrees with Chet.

Shannon Watts, the founder of the gun control group “Moms Demand Action” believes that the solution isn’t allowing military service members to carry guns on base, but to disarm them.

Apparently, Ms. Watts is not aware that Fort Hood’s soldiers have already been disarmed.

Those in and around the base immediately lashed out and made the point that there are thousands of soldiers at Fort Hood who have been trained to deal with these kinds of threats, yet they were essentially handcuffed by the restrictions.

CJ Grisham was on base while the incident unfolded and he voiced his frustrations online during the lock-down and shelter-in-place order:

I can’t help but get pissed off when there is an active shooter on a MILITARY BASE and Soldiers are told to “shelter in place.” It’s so antithetical to what we do for a living. The response should be, “find the bastard and mow him down!”

His frustrations boiled down to one simple argument:


We will no doubt hear renewed calls from the anti-gun crowd in coming days and weeks demanding that the President take action to curb gun violence.

The problem is that there are over 300  million guns in America, and perhaps billions more worldwide.

It is simply not possible to put the genie back in the bottle. You can outlaw guns in America today and seize every weapon from law abiding citizens. But that will not solve the problem.

if-more-people-were-armed

Those who want to do harm to others will find a way. They could, for example, purchase ATF-provided weapons directly from drug cartels operating out of central America. They will happily send their wares into the United States for a profit. In fact, illegal weapons suppliers may well be helping to lobby Congress for gun bans just so they can expand their trade.

Gun bans, as is evident with this most recent Fort Hood shooting, will not work.

Twenty people were killed or wounded in Fort Hood yesterday.

Had just one of those people had a firearm then maybe most or all of those deaths and injuries could have been prevented.


SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You