Kicking The Can Down The Road

Kicking The Can Down The Road

Its election year and nobody wants to make a decision especially when it involves votes.  Now we all know the Post Office is bleeding red ink. It appears they are overstaffed, have too many offices and desperately needs to be reorganized so that it can be profitable. Answer from Congress – you guessed it. Nothing! We continue to let the losses in the billions mount and guess what, postage will go up another penny on January 27th. The United States Postal Service said its net loss totaled $8.5 billion dollars in the fiscal year that ended September 30th. That compares to a loss of $3.8 billion dollars in the entire prior year! And we raise the cost of a first class stamp one penny. Based upon 2010 1st Class Mail volume, this one penny increase should add about $783,203.00 dollars to the U.S. Postal service annual revenue. Unless my math skills have deteriorated, how does this offset $8,500,000,000 billion dollars in losses?

Now how about all that discussion about a flat tax and closing some of the loopholes in our Swiss cheese tax code? Good question – Answer from Congress. You guessed it. Nothing! A reporter recently asked a Senator about the flat tax and his response was “what are we going to do with 100,000 Internal Revenue Service employees?” So I guess our progress forward as a country is basically hindered by the current structure we have in place?

It is a sad state of affairs. Our defense budget is so bloated that it is fast approaching one trillion dollars. If you haven’t heard about the infamous F-22 aircraft, I suggest that you take a quick look at this fiasco. After billions of dollars spent on a failed aircraft, the program was finally cancelled.  The planes were so bad that when they flew to Japan and crossed the International Date Line, all the computers in the Raptors crashed leaving them with zero communications.  Production was ended at 187 aircraft. Why was this stealth fighter continued to be made when it was determined that it did not work – you guessed it – lawmakers were keen to preserve the F-22 linked jobs in over 40 plus states!

Remember Ron Paul, the presidential candidate that suggested that the United States military close many of its bases world-wide? Well, I looked into this and guess what – no one is entirely sure how many bases the United States military has? Even within the military there is a difference of opinion. Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Dorothy Robyn referenced the Pentagon’s 507 permanent installations. In contrast, the Pentagon’s 2010 Base Structure Report lists 4,999 total sites in the U.S., it territories, and overseas. To make matters worse, the committee established by Congress, Basic Realignment and Closure Commission, to review the status of the United States bases has not made a recommendation since 2005 – talk about kicking the can down the road.  How much resistance can you imagine goes on in Congress when a Senator or Representative has to face the prospect of closing a base or bases within his or her home state?

To the best of my knowledge there is no formal plan in place or even contemplated to review Social Security (now called the Federal Benefit Program), Medicare, or any of the other entitlement programs that need to be addressed.

Well, let’s hold the election. Let our elected representatives return to Washington and see if anything changes for 2013. I suspect that nothing will change but it will be interesting to see what happens with the “fiscal cliff” that looms. Can we kick it down the road for just another year?  Maybe or maybe not?

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Written by
Donald Wittmer