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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Congressman John Campbell

We Need Mitt

Today, economic issues dominate the scene in America. We have record-breaking, unsustainable deficits and face credit downgrades and a looming debt crisis. We are supposedly in the middle of economic recovery, but no one can really feel it. Unemployment is stubbornly high and shows no signs of coming down any time soon. Inflation is now running over 3%, which is relatively low, but since savings accounts pay essentially nothing, the wealth of Americans is being eroded. Europe and, yes, even China have economic challenges. Decisions about issues as diverse as national defense, the environment and immigration are all now impacted by the economic prospects and our current fiscal situation.

President Obama has been the major contributor to these problems. He has massively grown spending, deficits and debt in a misguided and failed Keynesian attempt to fix the economy. His strong and very liberal ideology continues to churn out job-killing policies in the areas of health care, energy, finance and manufacturing. He claims to love the jobs created by these industries, but his administration does whatever it can to restrict the products that these industries make and to punish… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

More Facts, Ma’am

More Facts, Ma’am: Sergeant Joe Friday probably never said that, but you know what I’m getting at. With the debt limit debate getting close to the final days, you may wonder what happens if we actually go “over the cliff” and do not extend the debt limit by the supposedly magic August 2nd date? The following information is gleaned from a presentation made to the Republican caucus by a former Bush Administration deputy secretary at the Treasury Department who now works with a think tank called the “Bipartisan Policy Center” in DC:

There is general agreement that the federal government will have exhausted all alternative funding sources and will run out of cash on or about August 2nd. This date is largely driven by $23 billion worth of Social Security checks that are scheduled to go out on that day. At that point, the US government is on a cash basis with no ability to borrow more money. That means that it can only spend the same amount of money that comes in. And, this is not an annual issue, it is a daily issue. If $20 billion comes in on Thursday, then you can send $20 billion out. If only $10 billion comes in on Friday,… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

Just the Facts, Ma’am

Just the Facts, Ma’am: This was the famous retort offered by fictional LA police detective, Sergeant Joe Friday, on the TV show Dragnet whenever a female witness started to delve into conjecture or opinion. In these missives, I usually give you heavy doses of my commentary and opinion.

Not today, or tomorrow. As the debt limit debate reaches the critical stage, I felt maybe you needed some facts, just plain facts, about the country’s financial status. Last week in a Budget Committee hearing, the actuaries for the Social Security and Medicare systems testified as to the status of these two programs and provided actuarial projections for both. Here is a summary of the salient points they made. I will let you draw your own conclusions:

Social Security and Medicare currently amount to 35% of all federal spending. Both systems are currently in negative cash flow and are on track for insolvency or exhaustion of their trust funds. The reasons for these impending problems are largely demographic. The United States traditionally had a birth rate of about 3 children per woman up until 1965. By 1975, that rate had dropped to 2 children per… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

Silos

I don’t fit neatly into a box. I am a conservative Republican who doesn’t raise taxes and votes to cut nearly every bit of government spending I can find. But, I am against the wars in Afghanistan and Libya, think we should cut defense spending, support legalizing internet gambling, sponsor a lot of bills to prevent abuse of animals, want pristine, clean oceans and believe we need some government support of home mortgages. No, that is not a box.

For those of you who don’t know my background, I am a native Californian raised by two very conservative and politically active parents. “We were Taft Republicans”, my mother often told me to make sure I understood that Dwight Eisenhower was way too moderate for them. The last Democrat I voted for was Sam Yorty for Mayor of Los Angeles in the 1970s. I think he later changed parties. I’m about as Republican as you get.

But, my ideology guides my thinking. It does not replace it. I believe that this job is about solving problems. And, there is never only one prescription to right every wrong. Napoleon Bonaparte was certainly the most brilliant military strategist of the 19th century and… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

Chaos in Washington

If I were to tell you things were chaotic in Washington last week, you might correctly exclaim, “So, what else is new?”. But, things seem to be even more chaotic than normal right now. I submit the following rundown for your consideration:

The President announced his latest strategy for Afghanistan in which he tries to thread the policy needle by giving a timetable for some withdrawal, but at the same time keeps more troops there throughout his term than at any time during the Bush presidency. I don’t think he succeeded in pleasing anyone with this plan – certainly not this Member of Congress. He also still has not indicated what it is we are now fighting for and what the desired end-state looks like. Bin Laden is dead and al-Qaeda is largely out of Afghanistan. Are we nation building? I think we are and I don’t think that is worth $2 billion a week and more American lives. I also believe you either fight wars with all you’ve got, or don’t fight them at all. Vietnam taught us that. The President seems to want to fight half a war. Speaker Boehner criticized the President’s speech and basically called … Read More

Congressman John Campbell

Debt Limit Debate

Last week, the House voted down a debt limit increase without any conditions by a vote of 97-318. Not a single Republican voted for it. Then, last Tuesday, the President invited the entire Republican caucus to the White House for a discussion on the debt limit. Frankly, all the President succeeded in doing was angering us. His arrogance, haughty nature and his unwillingness to say anything other than his campaign talking points left us all quite discouraged about any potential agreement. Still, the debt limit looms. Treasury Secretary Geithner says that we have already technically hit the ceiling, but that he is raising cash using “extraordinary measures” until August 2nd, at which he point he predicts we will be at the end of our financial rope and run out of cash. Conveniently, that day is just a couple of days before the House and the Senate are scheduled to go on summer recess. The potential to have to cancel that recess will focus negotiators in Washington.

So, what happens if we breeze past August 2nd without increasing the debt limit? Virtually every media outlet would have you believe that we will default on our debt. Even the… Read More

BOE Member George Runner

Debt Sale Could Help Close Budget Gap

The State of California is currently sitting on billions of dollars of uncollected debt that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars on private debt markets. Rather than raise taxes on the hardworking people of California, state leaders should sell off debt to raise the cash we need—just like private businesses do.

Selling aging debt is a common practice in the private sector and has also been used successfully by many local governments. Selling debt makes a lot more sense than selling buildings you have to turn around and lease back.

The sale of these assets could provide much-needed one-time cash. Combined with rising revenues, these dollars could help protect priority programs and eliminate the perceived need to impose higher taxes on struggling Californians.

Today I called upon the Governor and legislative leaders urging them to consider such a sale in their ongoing budget negotiations.

Below is the text of my letter.

—-

June 6, 2011

Dear Governor Brown and Legislative Leaders:

I am writing to suggest monetizing a portion of the billions of dollars in debt owed the State of California as a possible… Read More

Congressman John Campbell

Growing the Private Sector

Things are not so good out there. The unemployment rate, already stubbornly high, climbed even higher in May. Economists are revising economic growth predictions downward. Housing prices continue to drop, thereby further reducing household wealth. Real returns on bank deposits and Treasury Bills are negative. The dollar is dropping. Gas prices are up, inflation is up. There are some bright spots, certainly, but the overall picture is that of stagnation. Unfortunately, none of this is a great surprise given what the government has been doing of late. We are printing money and artificially holding down interest rates to try and spur recovery. But, this is creating those negative real (after inflation) interest rates, which are distorting capital flows. Most of the country’s tax policies expire in 18 months, so no one can do any long-term investment planning about taxes with any certainty. The government is retarding the development of almost all forms of economical energy (oil, gas, coal, nuclear), while subsidizing expensive wind and solar. We continue to run record deficits, which divert capital from other more productive uses and create the massive public debt overhang… Read More

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