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Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Random Musings and Idle Chit Chat

Bicycling, Crazy People, Economics, Governor Walker's Budget Tools, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, National Politics, Palace Intrigue, Random Musings and Idle Chit Chat, Silly People, Wauwatosa Politics

How many of you are as fatigued as I am of the political theater in Washington? 

Was there any doubt in anybody’s mind that the debt ceiling would not be raised?  Think about this conundrum logically.

We presently enjoy an AAA credit rating and everyone on the planet gleefully lends us money at ridiculously low interest rates because throughout history the US of A has always paid its bills on time.

I know the freshman toddler class of the House would rather we just defaulted on our debt so that they could teach everyone some sort of tea party lesson.  Exactly what lesson I’m not sure.  Maybe it’s the lesson where interest rates go up for everyone, grandma or a GI deployed overseas doesn’t get paid and the economy bonks again.  Who knows?   I guess that’s just infantile toddler thinking.

This contrived crisis was exceedingly controllable.  In the final analysis, the reputation of the US in the eyes of the rest of the world was greatly tarnished.  The President and the Congress displayed a lack of courage and adult leadership.  But I’ll hold my nose and take the deal.

About that nagging matter of additional tax revenue that the Dems wanted.  Anybody want to speculate on whether the Bush tax law (scheduled to expire at the end of next year) will be torpedoed by an Obama veto if Congress authorizes another extension?  Or will it be allowed to quietly die of natural causes?  Or something in between?

Speaking of taxes – did you know that more than a third of Americans don’t pay any income taxes?  I’m not making this up.  The Tax Policy Blog says that according to 2009 figures published by the IRS more than 50 million taxpayers had no income tax liability after credits and deductions.

I and the Missus didn’t make the list.

What do you know Gas.  I cannot figure out if you are naive or dense.  What this country needs is a balanced budget amendment.  Just like all American families government needs to learn to live within its means.  A balanced budget amendment to the constitution is the solution.

Well I don’t know about you but my family is probably like most American families and I don’t balance my budget every year.  Sometimes I have to take out a mortgage to purchase real property.  Same for a vehicle.  Or exercise a line of credit in an emergency.  Jill and I have operating surpluses and deficits from one year to the next.  American business does the same thing.  That’s just the way life is.  Anybody that tells you the government’s budget should be balanced every year is either an idiot or a liar.  Maybe both.

On the subject of political theater there are recall elections scheduled for next week.  Someone told me that this is utter nonsense - Recall elections because someone did their job!  I happen to think that a recall should be reserved for only the most egregious of behavior.   Nevertheless it is what it is and both sides do it so we might as well just make some popcorn and enjoy the show.  Consider this the warm-up for the marquee act – the possible recall of the governor. 

The good news is the state budget has been balanced.  The bad news is that local governments have to do virtually all of the heavy lifting.  As they say in the plumbing business – stuff rolls downhill.  Lots of communities now have to make-up for the reduction in shared revenues. Tosa’s projected deficit for the next five years is $8 million.  That’s not chump change.  Sure, you thought you felt a disturbance in The Force last month.  I think what you felt might be the abundance of fear and loathing over at The Palace as those new tools are sharpened to make big cuts.

In closing I’d like to leave you with a positive vibe.  Something righteous and hopeful for a change.  A couple of weekends ago I rode my bicycle from Mequon to Sturgeon Bay to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I was one of 956 riders supported by more than 200 volunteers.  Think of a battalion-sized force of invading cyclists advancing north along the Lake Michigan coast of Wisconsin.  Their food, water, baggage, logistical support, maintenance and assorted camp followers all in tow.  An impressive spectacle indeed.

Here’s the good news - with a goal of $700,000 there was already $630,000 in the bank last Thursday.

It’s really amazing the positive change people can make when they put their minds and muscle to it.

Or perhaps it's not so amazing after-all...

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