Thursday, November 15, 2012

Electoral College

Ever since the beginning of the United States of America, we've used what's known as the "Electoral College" for Presidential elections. While some states (like Nebraska & Maine) complicate it slightly, the Electoral College is very simple and straightforward. The candidate who wins the popular vote in a state receives the electoral votes that state is worth. For example, Florida is worth 29 electoral votes. Whichever candidate wins the state of Florida receives 29 electoral votes. The candidate to receive 270 electoral votes wins the election. In every state (except Nebraska & Maine), the candidate that receives the majority of the popular vote receives all electoral votes for that state, regardless of their margin of victory. In Florida, for example, a candidate can win by 1,000 votes, or by 2,000,000 votes, and receive all 29 electoral votes - the margin of victory is irrelevant.

This has led to some controversy over whether or not this is "fair," or even democratic. The electoral college system gives swing states a disproportionate ability to influence the election. It's even possible for one candidate to receive more votes, but still lose the election if those votes aren't in the "right states." This has happened four times in history, most recently in 2000, when Al Gore received half a million more votes than George W. Bush, but still lost the election because Bush had more electoral votes.

In the 2012 election, Obama received approximately 61 million votes, compared to Romney's 58 million - which, by the way, is very close. I would argue that it's so close that it's not entirely fair for Obama to claim this as evidence the American people agree with his plan of raising taxes. But, that's a different topic for a different day.

For the last couple of weeks, I have been perusing the web reading about this topic trying to get a feel for what people think. It seems that a lot of people felt that if Romney lost the election but won the popular vote, that would have been the end of the electoral college as we know it. But, now that we know Obama won both the E.C. and the popular vote, it will be interesting to see what happens to this peculiar system of election.

While reading about this topic, I found one individual who calls the electoral college "a form of taxation without representation" - arguing that if you live in a state which is majorly one side or the other (democrat or republican), but you differ from the norm, your vote is meaningless. For example, if you are a liberal living in the state of Texas, your vote in the presidential election counts for nothing, because your state's electoral votes will most certainly go to the republican candidate, and you have accomplished nothing by voting for your democrat-candidate. Likewise, if you are a conservative living in the state of California, your vote counts for nothing, because your state's electoral votes will most certainly go to the democrat candidate. Therefore, a lot of people in these types of states choose not to vote, knowing their vote will not sway the masses, or earn any electoral votes for their candidate of choice.

If the conservative from California, or the liberal from Texas, were to move to a state like Florida, or even Ohio, suddenly their vote is HUGELY important, and a great asset to either side. If we were to abolish the electoral college completely, and have the presidential election be based on popular vote only (like every other election nation-wide), everybody's vote would be an equal vote, and everyone would have an equal say. Wouldn't that be the way to do it in a democracy? I would say, without hesitation, "absolutely."

Interestingly enough, I stumbled across a bill in the House of Representatives that offers an amusing solution. H.J.Res.121 was introduced in October by Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) does not abolish the electoral college, but it does award the winner of the national popular vote an additional 29 electoral votes - a huge bonus to the candidate that wins the popular vote. In 2000, Gore received half a million more votes than Bush, but lost the election by 5 electoral votes. The additional 29 electoral votes for popular vote would have led to a Gore victory in 2000.

It's an interesting concept, though I do not believe this will lead to the Constitutional amendment that Rep. Israel is seeking. It's been sitting in committee for nearly a month, still with no co-sponsors. I would suggest that we should just do away with the electoral college completely, and have the presidential election be determined entirely by popular vote.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Standoff: Who's at Fault?

For the better part of 2012, everyone has been discussing this "Fiscal Cliff" which has a fast-approaching deadline.

In 2001 and 2003, two separate laws were passed that have earned the name "Bush-era Tax Cuts," and it is basically a two-part package of across-the-board tax cuts. The tax cuts were created to spark economic growth.

Those tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year, and if nothing is done to renew them, taxes on every American citizen and small business will increase in 2013. Being that our economy is still inching along at the pace of a snail, tax increases are not going to be good for anyone. The health of the economy, which is largely determined by the amount of consumer spending, would suffer if individual tax rates increased.

When taxes increase, people have less money to spend on products and services, whether they are necessary or not. If my federal income tax increases by, say, $1,000, that makes my daily coffee run to Starbucks no longer affordable. If Starbucks all of the sudden had a hit like that, with a lot of daily "regular" customers starting to make their own coffee, think of how many people might get laid off. Maybe Starbucks would have to reduce their hours of operation, meaning less employment. That would also hurt Starbucks' suppliers. Whoever they buy the coffee beans from would lose business. A catastrophic chain of events always follows any increase in tax rates. If the government takes more money out of my pocket, that equals less money for me to spend and support somebody's job, a local business, etc. My analogy with Starbucks is assuming my taxes would increase by about $1,000 - if the fiscal cliff is not avoided, the average household would face an increase of $3,500 per year in taxes. Three THOUSAND dollars per year. Since the government and Congressional Budget Office always put things in terms of a decade, that's $35,000 over the next 10 years that an average family would lose in added taxes. Think of what else that family could do with $35,000.
  • A brand new car, with money left over for gas
  • An annual vacation (average family vacation is between $3-4,000)
  • 20% down payment on a house
  • College education
When you add $35,000 to a family's 10-year tax burden, they might decide not to buy that new car, or not to take that annual family vacation. They might be stuck in an apartment, because they can't afford the 20% down payment on a home. They might have to put college off, because they can no longer afford it. These are all negative effects on our economy, as well as individuals' quality of life.

So how do we avoid it? Or what's the solution?

Congress and the President have until Dec. 31 to decide how to handle it. Now that the election is passed, and "America has spoken," it's time to get to work on addressing this matter.

The issue is with a disagreement between the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Democrat-controlled Senate. The Republicans want to extend all Bush-era tax cuts, while the Democrats want to extend them for middle class only, allowing the tax cuts on wealthy Americans (over $250,000/yr) to expire.

So it looks like one of three possible things will happen.
  1. The Republicans will win, and all tax cuts will be renewed. 
  2. The Democrats/President will win, and middle class will keep their tax cuts, while wealthiest Americans will see a tax increase. 
  3. Neither side will throw in the towel, causing everybody's taxes to go up.
Remember, both the GOP-House & Democrat-Senate have to agree on the same solution, and the President has to sign off on it. If all three bodies can't come together on a bi-partisan solution, option #3 will happen, and we all get screwed with higher tax rates, starting in January. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty worried, because if there's one thing we've learned over the last 4 years, it's that both sides are stubborn, and few politicians are willing to work together on a "bipartisan solution." Looks like we should prepare for higher taxes beginning in January.

President Obama had something to say about it last week (read the transcript here).

Obama: "At a time when our economy is still recovering from the Great Recession, our top priority has to be jobs and growth." Excuse me, Mr. President, but how does increasing taxes on our wealthy job-creators encourage job growth? If I was a wealthy job-creator (which I am not, so no need to accuse me of protecting my own money out of greed), if my taxes went up, I'd have less money to hire employees and expand my company. Our economy would be healthier if I, as the job-creator, had more money in my pocket to invest, expand, and create jobs.

Obama: "I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut a trillion dollars’ worth of spending that we just couldn’t afford." Mr. President, this is just a numbers game to make your politics seem better than it really is. Let's be honest, and look at the nation's history of recent budget deficits.
  • 2009 (Bush's last budget): $1.51 trillion
  • 2010 (Obama's first budget): $1.36 trillion
  • 2011: $1.32 trillion
  • 2012: $1.10 trillion
  • 2013: $0.88 trillion
However, realize that here in November of 2012, the real-time annual deficit is still about $1.12 trillion (according to

So in 4 years of budgets, Obama has reduced the deficit from $1.36 trillion to roughly $1 trillion; hardly the 50% decrease he promised to complete during his first term.

Obama: "In fact, the Senate has already passed a bill doing exactly this [extending tax cuts for middle class], so all we need is action from the House." If there's one thing Obama has always done consistently, it's pointing the finger of blame towards the GOP; in this case, he's accusing the House of inaction, while he's waiting to sign a bill the Democrat-Senate has already passed. Mr. President, are you aware that the House is not "dragging its feet" as you imply...

The Senate's bill to extend middle class tax cuts (S.3412) cleared the Senate in July on party lines. Every Republican voted against it, because it did not extend existing cuts for wealthier Americans. In fact, even Sen. Jim Webb, a democrat who historically votes with his party 9 out of 10 times, voted against this plan. The Senate's plan is by no means a bi-partisan plan, let alone anything that will ever clear the House of Representatives.

But, don't be fooled into thinking what the president wants you to think. It's not that the House is ignoring this completely. Obama didn't mention this in his speech last week, but are you aware that the House passed its plan for this fiscal cliff several months ago (H.R.8). The only real difference is that the Republican plan extends all existing tax cuts - it's not even trying to cut taxes further, just maintaining the current levels. The Republican plan has been sitting and waiting for the Senate to act on it since early September. So, Mr. President, if you're ready to sign something, why don't you encourage the Senate to act on what the House passed? Instead, he would rather try to intimidate the House into agreeing to HIS plan. So much for bi-partisanship...

As I said, the Senate bill received no bi-partisan support. But, the House bill actually was slightly bi-partisan, receiving support from 19 House Democrats. Now, I'm not suggesting that makes this bill "bi-partisan," but consider that against the Senate version, which has ZERO bi-partisan support. I would suggest that if the President is ready to sign something, maybe he should encourage the Democrats in the Senate to consider the House plan, or something that's actually something of a compromise. If you have a bill with no Republican support, and another bill with an element of bi-partisanship, wouldn't it make more sense to start with the somewhat bi-partsan bill? After all, you do need to work with both parties to get something passed. But, it looks like the President would rather intimidate the House into doing it his way, which will never lead to success. Way to go, America... last week you selected yet another 4 years of this partisan politics which simply does not work.

My prediction is clear: This fiscal cliff will not be avoided, and taxes will increase on 100% of Americans in 2013, and I blame the democratic party for not willing to play nice with the Republicans.

Please share your thoughts in the comments..

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Milwaukee Public Schools: Prime Example of a Failing School District

What is it about Milwaukee Public Schools that it just keeps failing? Is it the fact that it's an urban school district? Is it the fact that the teachers are over-worked? Is it the fact that the kids who live in the city of Milwaukee just don't care about school? Or, perhaps it's the fact that parents who send their kids to MPS don't emphasize the importance of education at home.

Regardless of which of these you might side with, the truth of the matter is simple: Milwaukee Public Schools is a prime example of a failing school district.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has an article in today's paper revealing new studies that show MPS Students consistently score lower than most other urban districts in the country. According to the study, only 38% of MPS 4th graders perform at a "basic or above" level in reading. Only 13% of MPS 4th graders are at a proficient reading level, and only about 10% of 8th graders are reading-proficient.

But what does MPS do best? If it's not giving A's to the kids who can barely read, it's the fact that they continue to think it's not a big deal. MPS Chief Academic Officer Heidi Ramirez defended her schools and students when she said, "The work is complicated and difficult for everybody [other school districts], but Milwaukee is starting from farther behind than other districts." So, is Ms. Ramirez defending her failing statistics by saying "We've always been a failing district, so of course we're going to continue to under-perform national standards." And who is this again? Let me remind you: The Chief ACADEMIC Officer - so isn't her job to improve and meet ACADEMIC standards? But what does she do instead? She admits that Milwaukee Public Schools sucks, has always sucked, and there's no plan to change that. But wait, that's not entirely true...

She says that teachers are starting to be trained in new techniques for teaching math and reading. The MPS Home Page has in its "Programs & Resources" section information about the new comprehensive literacy plans, and comprehensive math and science plans, to bring students to a proficient level in these academics. But, if the Chief Academic Officer doesn't think this is a big deal that only 10-15% of her students can proficiently read, maybe we need a new CAO, or a new game plan. Isn't it the job of schools to teach students to, among other things, READ? And this is not a nationwide problem, this is a MILWAUKEE problem. The Journal Sentinel article says that most of the other districts have been steady & consistent from year to year, and several even saw improvements in Math & Reading. This is the first year MPS has participated in this test, so we don't know which direction we're going, but according to the boss of Academics, Ms. Ramirez, we've always been a low-performing district, so of course we're going to do poorly on these types of standardized testing.

What kind of society would we live in if less than 25% could read? What kind of world would we live in if less than half of the population could add and subtract? Well guess what, if we don't step up our game in places like Milwaukee Public Schools, that anti-utopia world could be just around the corner, certainly within our lifetimes.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Wisconsin Has Done It: Restricted Collective Bargaining. But What's That Mean?

Wisconsin has done it - Governor Scott Walker signed into law historic legislation today that essentially removes most collective bargaining privileges for most public employees in Wisconsin.

Couple things in that sentence above that I want to draw your attention to... first of all, the new law removes most collective bargaining, not all. I can't tell you how many news headlines say something to the effect of "Walker Ends Union Rights" or "Walker has Busted the Unions." Here's one example from the over-the-top liberal newspaper, the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune. He did not "end union rights" - if you think he did, move to a state like Texas, and you'll see a big difference between the public unions in Texas and the public unions in Wisconsin, even after this new law.

Secondly, note the word "privileges" - most people call it "collective bargaining rights" - what rights? The only collective bargaining rights that exist in America are those in the private sector. Every private sector employee in the United States of America has a true right to collective bargaining, as provided by the National Labor Relations Act from the 1930s. However, when we start talking about the public sector, it is no longer a right, but a privilege. As you probably know (at least you would if you read about the Heartless Wisconsin Governor), not all public employees even have collective bargaining at all. For example, in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia, there is absolutely no collective bargaining in the public sector - period.

Thirdly, I said "most public employees" -- local police, fire, and state troopers are not affected by these changes.

Something else I've heard a lot of... "Walker Hates the Middle Class!" Oh yeah, like the "middle class" is made up entirely of public employees; let's just ignore the other millions of people in the "middle class" that work in the private sector, who will not be affected by this new law. Don't sit there and tell me "Walker's against the Middle Class/Working Class" when all he's doing is restricting the privileges for what can be negotiated for a very small part of the working class (public employees are probably between 35 and 40% of the middle class).

Here's the underlying major problem with all of this... Collective Bargaining in the public sector does not work. It doesn't. Period. Why? In order to answer this question, we have to understand exactly what are the purpose(s) & objective(s) of collective bargaining, and how they are accomplished. Collective bargaining is when a group of employees "unite" (form a union) to negotiate with the employer together. "There's safety in numbers." It's a very practical set-up.

A union elects representatives to go sit down at the table with the employer, and negotiate a contract (pay, benefits, working conditions, etc) on behalf of the entire union. The workers' union has its goals (more pay, better benefits, likable working conditions, etc), while the employer has goals of its own (keep costs as low as possible, whatever that might entail). In a perfectly balanced equation, the two party's are "polar opposites," and they sit down together at this table to find a middle point -- it's a compromise. Now let's look at an example...

If my 12 employees decide to form a union, and wish to collectively bargain with me, their employer (a private-industry company), there are certain limitations to that bargaining. For example, as an employer, I cannot realistically bargain and agree to add $1,000 per month towards each of their compensation packages ($12,000/mo), when my average net income is only about $10,000 per month. If I did, my business would lose $2,000 every month, and we'd be out of business within a year. No matter how badly the union wanted it, or how long they wanted to strike, as an employer, I simply cannot afford them that benefit -- it's not possible. That's how it works everywhere in the private sector. The company and the union bargain, and things certainly change (either in favor of the union or the company, depending on the variables), but no matter what, there are limits as to what the company can give the union, regardless of how hard the union fights. That's how it works everywhere... in the private sector.

In the public sector, however, it's a different ballgame. The employer is no longer a private company (like in the example above), but the government (whether local, state, or federal). When the government's playing the role of 'employer,' things change, because who's sitting across the table from the union? In my example above, it would be me, the business owner. I have a personal interest in my own business, and that's why no matter what, I'm not going to allow my employees to take that extra $1,000 per month in compensation, because that would drive me out of business. But when it's the government, it's not someone who has a personal interest sitting across from the union - it's an elected official: a politician. And what do we know about all politicians? They want to get... re-elected. Right? For many politicians, everything they do centers around one simple question: "How do I get re-elected?" And part of the answer, no matter who you are, involves getting financial contributions to use in your campaign. What's the largest contributor to, say, political candidates of the democrat party? Public unions. So who never want to upset those public workers? Democrats. And rightfully so - that's where a lot of their money comes from!

So why is all this relevant? Why is this a problem? Because there are many politicians who are willing to give the unions what they want, with no real consideration of what they can afford to give, because they know that if they do, that union will continue to contribute to his/her political campaign. And that is the reality of all this.

The democrat party and public employee unions depend on each other. The unions are strong when democrats are elected into power, because (chances are) the democrat received lots of funding from the union, and is now "paying them back," both as a thank-you, but also to keep the union's support, so that when they are up for re-election... you get the picture.

So the major problem with collective bargaining in the public sector is that instead of sitting across the table, with two different interests, and two different goals, they are actually on the same side of the table, with the same goal. "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." When unions get too powerful, the inevitable result is a state that's not governed by the people, but by the unions. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I believe is happening all over the country, especially in Wisconsin.

Something else that Walker has done in Wisconsin along these same lines is he's cutting state aid to school districts throughout the state as part of his budget. Now these two things work hand in hand, the collective bargaining changes, as well as cutting the state aid. The state is in a massive financial crisis, and Walker's solution has two parts. First, you reign in the power of the unions. Then, you cut the amount of money the state is going to give to local governments. Why are both aspects important? Because by cutting state aid, he is essentially forcing the local governments to realize they don't have an unlimited supply of money to share with these public employees, like they feel like they've had in the past (think about that example from earlier with me as the business owner). By realizing they have finite financial resources, they MUST reign in the unions. However, history has shown that just telling localities to "do it" doesn't necessarily get the job done. I said it before, and I'll say it again: Wisconsin is being controlled by these unions, so even if there's no money, the politicians will STILL give the unions just about whatever they want, and the state will eventually be responsible for funding those bad deals. So what's the second part from Scott Walker? Remove the collective bargaining privileges that allow the union to make these demands that are driving the state (and local governments) towards bankruptcy.

Scott Walker is tying their hands, and he's a genius in how he's doing it. Both parts are necessary in order for it to be successful.

Don't believe me? I can imagine SO MANY of you reading this, probably thinking, "The politicians are controlled by unions? Is this really about the budget at all?" If you're still doubting me, take a look at local governments across the state of Wisconsin. People say the 14 democrat senators were staying away "to give people time to read and understand the bill" and to "stick up for the protesters" - bull! They were staying away to give these local governments and unions time to pass new contracts BEFORE the collective bargaining changes passed, so their contracts could be exempt from that! If that's not proof of what I'm telling you, I don't know what is! There is really only one of two possibilities here. One, these local governments are sticking up for the unions (remember the analogy... they are sitting next to the unions instead of sitting ACROSS from them), which means the entire purpose of collective bargaining has failed, or two, the government officials who are entering these new contracts with the workers are just too stupid to realize what they're doing. Some of these cities signed contracts with their unions through 2013! Why else would they do that? If they've been fighting since 2009, unable to sign a contract, which many of them have, why would they do it NOW, right before this bill passes, taking away A LOT of what the employees get? Why would they do that, KNOWING that the locality is going to suffer major decreases in state aid based on the state budget? How can these localities promise teachers, for example, all these benefits through 2013, when they don't even know what the state is giving them aid-wise, because the budget for the next fiscal year hasn't even been passed yet?!? Does this make sense to ANY of you? Why else would they do this? These cities are no-doubt screwing themselves on this one, and nobody seems to care! What is wrong with this?

Here's a story on teacher unions all across the state hurrying to get their contracts signed before the new law takes effect.

Once this whole thing blows over, people will see the world has not come to an end, and Wisconsin will slowly start to recover from years of poor government-spending habits.

Now, wait and see what happens during the next state election cycle. The next time we see democrats campaigning, we all know they will remind us of this day when the republicans "ignored" the public employee protests -- we all know that will be part of their political advertisements. However, something else I think they will try to make everyone believe is that local school districts are left in financial ruin because of "Governor Walker's devastating state budget," when in reality, those of us informed people know the REAL reason those school districts are broke: because they refused to reign in the unions when Gov. Walker gave them the ability to do so. Instead, those school districts CHOSE to make the STUPIDEST decision possible and enter contracts through 2013, despite the fact that they KNEW about losing state aid, and they KNEW that within a short time, unions would have more restrictions on what they could bargain for. But, you watch - the democrats will lie and blame Scott Walker, saying that the school districts are in financial ruin because of his devastating budget - I know it already.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Sufficient Time for Legislation to be Read

Do you remember a while back when the democrats were trying to ram health care reform through the legislative process so fast that nobody could read the bill and see what was in it? Well, that one was probably the most hated one at the time, but there have been other bills rushed through the process so fast that people don't even know what's being proposed before it's being voted on (granted, usually not a bill that's over 1,000 pages, like the health care reform law).

So what do we do to fix this problem? Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has an idea, and proposed a resolution to the Senate a few days ago. S.Res.82 is a short and to-the-point resolution that will require 1 session day per 20 pages of legislative text, plus another session day for "anything less than 20."

So, for example, a 20-page bill would require 1 session day of "reading time" before it could be considered for a vote on the Senate floor, and a 25-page bill would require 2 session days.

Of course, there's always a way around it, if for example, something major happened, and we needed to act *now* - what would we do? With a 2/3 vote in the Senate, they could waive these requirements and consider a bill earlier than the mandated time. Now, this is just a resolution in the Senate, which means it will not affect actual law, or the House of Representatives - just standard procedures for the Senate.

So is the House of Representatives doing anything similar? Kind of. The closest thing we could find was H.Res.30 which would require that a "plain English section-by-section" analysis of every legislation be posted publicly online for 72 hours. But, we feel the wording of this resolution is weak at best. For instance, the resolution doesn't say who writes the "plain English analysis," so it could be very biased, or miss points, or misinterpret points. Also, no where does the resolution actually require the official bill text to be available for 72 hours, just a "plain English analysis."

Why is this resolution worded so weakly, when Rand Paul's resolution in the Senate is quite descriptive, forward, and strong? Well, H.Res.30 was proposed by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), a democrat. So, our Republican majority in the House can't come up with anything to mirror Rand Paul's legislation, and all we have to go on is Deutch's garbage, full of possible loopholes, and not very demanding? Send Ted Deutch an email and tell him that H.Res.30 is not good enough.

GOP Destroying Jobs?

Well, it's happening again, ladies and gentlemen, the liberal party is pointing the finger at the Congressional Republicans for "posing an unnecessary risk to the economy" with their planned spending cuts. The House has already approved several billion dollars in spending cuts through the remainder of the fiscal year, and Speaker John Boehner is being criticized for posing an unnecessary risk to our economy.

Let's take a look at the facts here... the REAL "unnecessary risk" here is not Boehner's proposed spending cuts, it's the danger of a government shutdown, which everyone's been so worried about for the last week or so. As you may know, Congress did pass a joint resolution (H.J.Res.44) to extend the funding through March 18th (another 2 weeks). The problem is, these "temporary fixes" are not going to solve anything. Our Congressional leaders need to start working on a real solution, one that will last us until September 30.

A stalemate between the Senate and the House could be detrimental to our already devastated economy, but perhaps a stalemate would show people how big of an issue this is. If Harry Reid and the Senate is not willing to budge, then why should Boehner and the House? It's about time somebody put Reid in his place, why not have it happen March 18, when we're on the verge of a government shutdown?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bold, Young Senator

Greetings, Friends,

It is with a speck of hope that I write to you today about a bill that was introduced in the Senate on Jan. 25, S.162 "Cut Federal Spending Act of 2011."

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced S.162 hoping to make a much bolder point than the GOP-led House of Representatives has been talking about. Paul has openly criticized plans to cut Federal Spending in the next fiscal year by around $35 billion. The problem, according to this rookie, is that "We spend $35 billion in five days. We add $35 billion to the debt in nine days. It's not enough and we will not avoid financial ruin in our country if we do not think more boldly."

So just what does he propose we do? The simple, earmark-free, 11-page bill proposes a total of about $500 billion in cuts... for one fiscal year. I have got to say that is the boldest proposal of any of the 535 "leaders" on Capitol Hill. $500 billion in spending cuts. How does he do it?

S.162 cuts the budget of NUMEROUS federal programs and entitlements, and different branches of the federal government. Some of the proposed changes are as follows:
  • Cuts the legislative branch by about $1.3 billion
  • Cuts the judicial branch by about $2.4 billion
  • Cuts the Dep. of Agriculture by $42 billion, completely annihilating things like the Agriculture Research Service, and the National Institute of Food & Agriculture
  • Cuts the Dep. of Education by about $16.2 billion
  • Completely defunds & destroys the Department of Housing & Urban Development
  • Cuts the Dep. of State by about $20 billion
  • Destroys things like the "National Endowment for the Arts" and the "Commission on Fine Arts" - did you know we were previously spending billions of dollars on things like these? Is that necessary for the federal government to care about the "arts"?
  • Among others
Now, this is the kind of thing that the Republican Party should be moving towards. During the last few years, we may not have had enough Congressional Seats to influence anything, but holding a 56% majority in the House of Representatives is certainly enough to make some demands, and get things done. The problem is, if the Republicans in the House don't start acting more like Rand Paul, we're going to lose big time in the 2012 elections, and have a de ja vu experience from the 111th Congress. If you recall, during the 111th, the democratic party controlled the House, Senate, and the White House - do you remember what that allowed them to do? First and foremost, it allowed them to continue to trash our economy, and devalue the dollar, leaving us with a $1.3 trillion budget deficit, the largest in American history. We cannot let that happen.

Now, the question is, will Rand Paul's bold bill ever see the Senate Floor? Probably not. We already know Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will do whatever he can to keep this from passing. When this bill was introduced on the floor, he (obviously) objected to taking it up, which means it was placed on the Senate's calendar. As of today, the bill has not even been assigned to a committee for review. So how's the future look? As explained, probably not good. If this bill every does see the Floor again, it will likely be a completely different bill, proposing like $3 billion in cuts (even that probably wouldn't satisfy Harry Reid, who apparently feels government spending of any kind is a good thing).

Paul's introduction of S.162 is certainly a bold statement, one that demonstrates the growing presence of the anti-big government Tea Party in Congress. All we need now is more people like Rand Paul, in both chambers, and eventually, as a candidate for the 2012 Presidential race.