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Robert Bennett: How we got in this federal budget mess

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  • chris8484 South Jordan, UT
    April 11, 2011 1:18 a.m.

    I don't hear anyone from either party talking about regulating corporations, which the Supreme Court has determined are now to be considered as individuals. Tea Party Republicans want to eliminate or reduce Medicaid and Medicare, denying medical coverage to the needy and the elderly and yet nothing is mentioned about buying medications at a bulk rate from drug companies or reducing insurance companies' greed. Democrats want the debt ceiling raised again, and yet they refuse to address the fundamental issue: we cannot continue to allow corporations to pay for our legislators' campaigns and then expect huge kick-backs in return. Until both parties become financially transparent and accountable to those who elect them, we will see this congressional mess escalate year after year.

  • Brother Chuck Schroeder A Tropical Paradise USA, FL
    April 11, 2011 7:20 a.m.

    Obama will announce long-term proposals this week for cutting the federal deficit, following up on the budget deal he reached with congressional leaders that averted a government shutdown. Obama will use a scalpel, not a machete and take a balanced approach. Liberals threaten that afailure to raise the debt limit will spin us into a second recession. Republican Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas emphasized the need for spending cuts over increased borrowing. At some point, you just got to quit spending money you don't have. Obama believes a trillion-dollar tax cut for those making more than $250,000 a year is unacceptable. Upper-income Americans need to contribute to the deficit reduction in this country. China's (that buys our T-Bonds), decision to keep its currency weak has caused the government to lose control of inflation and risks fuelling wage-price gains, billionaire investor George Soros said. While the policy helped insulate China from the financial crisis in 2008, the world's second-biggest economy has missed its chance to allow the yuan to appreciate to tame inflation.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    April 11, 2011 7:35 a.m.

    @ Chris. If you think "evil" corporations are the problem, why not teach them a lesson? Don't buy anything a corporation produces! Yes, that's right get even with them, boycott them all! Give up all your clothing, your food, except what you produce yourself! No medicines, no cars, no tools, no electricity-all produced by evil, money grubbing corporations! In the meantime, ignore the real cause of our national problems,an overeaching, over taxing, overspending, over controlling national government!

  • BU52 Provo, ut
    April 11, 2011 8:18 a.m.

    Mr. Bennett, a nice description of the process but kind of weak on how we got so deep into this mess. I thought you would have some good insight to the problem since you were sitting in the middle of it for 18 years.

  • JMT Springville, UT
    April 11, 2011 8:25 a.m.

    So many different problems that make up the whole mess. Bastiat taught us two centuries ago the fallacy of us all living at the expense of the other. Churchill likened it to standing in a bucket, pulling on the handle and thinking you can lift yourself off the ground. Rahm Emanuel let us know that this was not about fixing America but political opportunism. Keynes was, is and shall forever remain wrong. We cannot tax and spend ourselves to prosperity; debt does matter.

    We had a near balanced budget after the very aggressive Newt Gingrich and shenangian loving Bill Clinton left office. In comes George Bush. We have basically wrecked the car since. Relative to debt Obama is nothing but Bush 2.0, with a real nasty virus. The virus is dependeny. Bush's motive, not sure but came across as legacy/profit. Obama seeks a nation dependent on government. As he famous said during the campaign, "(his) job was to make government cool again."

    Now to Senator Bennett. His correctly discusses the process yet fails to clearly identify the culture, which has been ruinous since 2000, both parties. There is no desire for solvency, just corruption.

  • chilly Salt Lake City, UT
    April 11, 2011 9:04 a.m.

    No, Senator Bennett, we have to go back further than to 2010 to see how this mess got started. In the early 2000's the members of the Senate and House committees, who were supposed to be keeping an eye on the banks and Fannie and Freddie, were busy instead, running interference for them. These Senators and Congressmen had to be aware of the junk mortgages that were piling up in these institutions and would certainly know that the slightest hiccup in the housing market would start a cascade of defaults and bankruptcy. These fine legislators even resisted attempts at reforming Fannie and Freddie at the time, saying "everything's just fine" and "we don't want to over-react". The key players, who got the ball rolling toward the debt crisis we are faced with today, were fellows like Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, Chuck Schumer and yes, you, Sir.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    April 11, 2011 9:42 a.m.

    I see that despite his shellacking at the polls, Bennett is still toeing the party line.

    His history may be accurate, but only as far as it goes. It really needs to go clear back to Reagan and perhaps even farther.

    The real villain is Voodoo Economics. Trickle down.

    Slanted history is not history at all.

  • Brother Chuck Schroeder A Tropical Paradise USA, FL
    April 11, 2011 10:08 a.m.

    3rd Re-post. The real truth about this federal budget mess, tax cheats. The Patriot Act's money laundering provisions, where are they today?. The tobacco industry feared The Patriot Act so Rep. Michael Oxley removed a provision involving money laundering from the bill at the behest of the White House and GOP whip Tom DeLay, under pressure from Big Tobacco. More loopholes that allow qualifying Institutions to still serve as conduits for Tax Evasion that report nothing to the IRS for collection. Is this fair taxing to the poor and middleclass ?. It's called money, greed, corruption, above the law, (ignore us common people unless they need your votes), career politician's who will take money from any special interest and say or do anything to keep his hold on power. It's secret government by the insiders, for the insiders only today. That's for BIG BUSINESS "ONLY" and their deep pocket's. The underlying dynamic is bought-off congressmen ignoring real social problems and using the legislative process to construct massive perpetual handouts for their campaign-contributor sponsors. WHO IN CONGRESS wrote a amendment to add this "BACK" into The Patriot Act to date?. Tell me.

  • MormonConservative A Tropical Paradise USA, FL
    April 11, 2011 10:11 a.m.

    Don't forget Utah, it was YOUR Bob Bennett that was a spendaholics pork and earmark junkie in congress, but shhhhhhhh, it's not a secret any more, he got tossed out. LOL

  • T. Party Pleasant Grove, UT
    April 11, 2011 11:08 a.m.

    The budget mess came from a federal government making promises it could not keep. Some of those promises it never had any intention of keeping.

    Whenever a federal entitlement program is created, a new constituency becomes dependent upon it. When the program ends up costing more than was projected (as is almost always the case), it requires adjustment. But adjustments cause pain, and if the dependents are a large bloc of voters, it is a rare politician who finds the courage to make the necessary changes.

    The only way most politicians find courage is for the voters to bring them to it. So you get movements like the tea party.

    I think we came to see Mr. Bennett as a lost cause; if he didn't grow a spine in 18 years, it just wasn't going to happen.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 11, 2011 11:46 a.m.

    Democrats think THEY should be seen as having completely clean-hands in the recent budget/Gov_Shutdown situation... that it's just REPUBLICANS... keeping them from passing a budget.

    Well.... does that pass the common_sense_test? I don't think so.

    They didn't pass a single budget in the 2 years THEY WERE IN CONTROL OF BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS. With a SUPER-MAJORITY (which the Republicans couldn't stop with a vote OR a filibuster)... So Democrats had the votes to overrule Republican objections completely... but did they ever pass a budget???

    The answer is obviously "NO". So HOW are REPUBLICANS to blame for their inability to pass a budget???

    ===

    If they couldn't pass a budget when THEY HELD ALL THE CARDS... how now do they blame all the problems on just a few seats being taken by Republicans... or TeaParty people???

    That argument just doesn't make sense to me.

    If Democrats were so good at passing budgets (and the only problem is Republicans)... what has happening when Democrats controlled EVERYTHING... and we got no budget???

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    April 11, 2011 11:47 a.m.

    The problem began when Reagan was President and Tip O'Neil was Speaker of the House. Taxes were cut dramatically, but spending wasn't, massive deficits ensued. Fiscal discipline evaporated, with a momentary return under Clinton.

    I could support a Balanced Budget Amendment, but capping federal taxes at 18% of GDP is a recipe to send America to third world status. Canada's taxes are 38% of GDP, Brazil's are 39% of GDP, China's are 17%. China's ascent has been on the backs of impoverished peasants-become-factory workers. There is no healthcare, no human rights, no child labor laws, suicides are sky-high.

    A race to the bottom is exactly what we don't need. Cancer research, educational opportunities, healthcare for seniors and the poor should all be areas Americans support, in addition to robust defense. If we can't support these, we'll slide further to third world status. This isn't what America has stood for, historically.

    BBA should allow federal taxes of 25% of GDP (still well below that of Canada and other western nations, but more competitive with China and Vietnam).

    (Other nations with very low taxes: Yemen, Sudan, Mexico, Burma)

  • Brother Chuck Schroeder A Tropical Paradise USA, FL
    April 11, 2011 12:06 p.m.

    RE: T. Party - 11:08 a.m. Pleasant Grove, UT
    The budget mess came from a federal government making promises it could not keep. Some of those promises it never had any intention of keeping.

    Whenever a federal entitlement program is created, a new constituency becomes dependent upon it.

    Reply: Then why did Bob Bennett and Hatch in Utah invite in all the illegals on the planet, and open up every federal entitlement program to them then add on more federal entitlement program;s as well?. hmmmmmmmmmm very interesting ya think?.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 11, 2011 12:09 p.m.

    chris,

    If Evil Corporations are the only problem... and the solution is to punish them by not buying anything from them... Don't be too surprised when YOUR job goes away (UNLESS you work for the Government).

    And don't be shocked or upset, when you kids loose their jobs, and have to come live in your basement (IF they currently work for corporations).

    ===

    When are people doing to get it?

    If you want JOBS... quit attacking, vilifying, and trying to destroy, the people who can give you JOBS!

    If you want JOBS.. quit supporting Socialists, Communists, and the anti-Capitalists in America!

    THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR JOB! All they care about is THEIR political_dogma... and THEIR political_agenda... and their life-long wish to FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORM AMERICA!

    ===

    I don't know that things are completely better when you vote for Republicans. But I think it is COMPLETELY clear what you get when you elect Democrats to control everything in Washington_DC. Hint... it doesn't result in jobs for YOU or your children.... just more handouts.

    ===

    Unless your dream is that your children can live off Government_handouts... QUIT SUPPORTING the COMMUNIST and SOCIALIST ideology!

  • BYR Woods Cross, UT
    April 11, 2011 12:30 p.m.

    Chilly beat me to it. It goes further back than 2010. I suspect it goes even further back, to the very day each and every elected official, including Bennett, stopped being a statesman (if they ever were) and started being a politician. Washington's farewell address was correct, when he commented on our government becoming a two party system. The system failed because we elected the wrong people to office, and kept them there for 18 years and for 28 years. I am so sick of it all. I am so ashamed and embarrassed to be an American at the moment.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    April 11, 2011 12:34 p.m.

    Bob was part of the problem. He was too worried about the next election.

  • LeFiffre Salt Lake City, UT
    April 11, 2011 12:54 p.m.

    Sen. Bennett:
    Thank you for the balanced assessment -- they're rare. I understand that the Federal government can save money by contracting for terms longer than 12 months, so your proposal of a two-year budget cycle makes perfect sense.

    Thank you also for pointing out Congress' role in the process, as most pundits seem fuzzy on that point, and would rather lay blame at the President's feet when Congress fails to do its Constitutionally mandated job.

    I echo other comments here requesting a deeper analysis informed by your long tenure in the Senate.

    Keep it up.

  • Gus Talwynd Salt Lake City, UT
    April 11, 2011 1:33 p.m.

    As I read through the posts in this thread, I get the impression that the predominate talking point is partisan bickering. Although, personally, I have a more centrist view, I find that there does not seem to be much knowledge about either the gestation of the problem nor workable solutions to the mess.

    What I see are stock responses depending if the speaker is conservative or not. Where discussion opens up, the various groups throw mud into the mix to cause confusion and make understanding impossible. Politicians are not economists and certainly do not necessarily have the interests of everyone at heart once they achieve office. In fact, they continue to dance with the one that brung 'em.

    The finger pointing gets us nowhere. But the lack of correct information means that the special interests will win the day because no one knows exactly is. Conservatives want to reduce government, cut spending, and decrease taxes, period. Liberals want to maintain government, increase spending and raise taxes where they believe it necessary. There is no discussion as to what is reasonable, much less what will actually work. There is no middle ground, and in the end the people suffer.

  • No One Of Consequence West Jordan, UT
    April 11, 2011 2:34 p.m.

    The slackers on both sides of the aisle are not doing their jobs and with few exceptions should be fired at the next opportunity. The problem is that we elect professional politicians from the 'ruling class' who are in this for the sport of it. They don't care about or even see the rest of us. It is all a game to them.

    They don't worry about how they are breaking the economy because they a) don't understand economics, b) think they understand economics better than us, or c) remember that in the great depression most of the ruling class came out fine despite what the common people suffered.

    My hope is that we can break through the party blockade and replace enough of these players with honest people who will be willing and able to change our direction. My fear is that nothing can be done until the whole thing collapses in a heap. But whether the federal spigot is voluntarily shut off or simply runs dry, those to whom it flows won't easily adapt and violence is likely to follow. There's a painful road ahead for all of us.

  • CaseyA Salt Lake City, UT
    April 11, 2011 2:42 p.m.

    LeFiffre and Gus Talwynd are both shockingly reasonable. Except for those two, the rest of you sound like you're too partisan and biased to appreciate what's going on in our country. The problem isn't greed, corporations, Fannie and Freddie, unions etc. It isn't even politicians like former Senator Bennett. The problem is us.

    "We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..." Somewhere we have lost our way. Now, half of us read, "We the people ... in Order to insure domestic tranquility and promote the general Welfare." While the other half reads "We the people ... in order to provide for the common defence and secure the blessings of Liberty." The worst part is, each half is so busy yelling what they read that they are incapable of hearing what the other half is reading. Worst of all, every conversation degenerates into one side or the other seeking for a person to blame. I'm done with politics. You people are on your own.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    April 11, 2011 5:21 p.m.

    Mr. Bennett took an oath of office that told us that he would uphold the Constitution. Today, he submitted a plan to deviate from that Constitution. He wants to change the way that the HOUSE conducts its business. Fine. Let him propose a Constitutional Amendment that changes the way the HOUSE conducts its business. Until then, the Constitution rules and Mr. Bennett is in opposition to the Constitution.

    The HOUSE controls the purse strings.

    The SENATE votes to ratify the actions of the HOUSE.

    The PRESIDENT enforces the law as legislated by Congress.

    It's clear. It's precise. It's in the Constitution.

    It is the Supreme Law of the Land until it has been changed by amendment. The Constitution has not been amended to give Congress two years for each budget.

    Mr. Bennett needs to get over his idea of how the government should work. He needs to align himself either as someone who follows the Constitution or as someone who rejects the Constitution.

    His actions, during his eighteen years as a Senator, show that he had little regard for the Constitution that he took an oath to uphold. His viewpoint is interesting, but not Constitutional.

  • ronnie sandy, utah
    April 11, 2011 9:46 p.m.

    You cant squeeze blood out of turnip so you either raise taxes on the wealthy or get rid of medicaid. So what is the right answer? No cheating now.

  • Chris T Salt Lake City, Utah
    April 11, 2011 10:14 p.m.

    Mr. Bennett I thank you for the good things you did while in office. I am also thankful that you are no longer in office to do the bad things that you did. You certainly have some responsibility for this economic mess in which we find ourselves.

  • Considering Stockton, UT
    April 11, 2011 11:19 p.m.

    The federal budget mess is really no different than the budget problems in many individual household:

    A lot of people seem to want to live beyond their means. Individually, this means more expensive homes, cars, electronics, clothing, vacations, eating out, and other entertainment than a person/family can afford. It means living at or beyond the family income, not saving for rainy day, thinking the pay check will always only get bigger, maybe even living on credit.

    At the government level, it means spending far more than we take in, borrowing every single year, and pretending the day of reckoning will never come. It comes from those who think every good idea or good work should and must be undertaken by the government. It means trying to guarantee a fairly comfortable lifestyle for everyone, regardless of willingness to work. It means countless social programs. It means too many military expenditures.

    If a family can't afford to pay for the necessities of life--including medical care--it has no business spending money on luxuries.

    If a nation can't maintain basic constitutional obligations like securing its own border, time to end world policeman and cut back on social programs.

  • Considering Stockton, UT
    April 11, 2011 11:23 p.m.

    "You cant squeeze blood out of turnip so you either raise taxes on the wealthy or get rid of medicaid."

    How about we raise taxes on the 50% of the population/voters who currently pay ZERO federal income tax? Indeed, many of them actually get handed a check each year just for filing out their tax forms. They enjoy a negative tax rate. Let's raise that to zero. Then let's tax everyone, every voter at least, at some minimum rate, oh say maybe 5 or 10%.

    Then let's mandate that every vote to increase spending must also increase--across the board--tax rates so as to pay for the spending.

    I bet when the so-called "poor" realize that they are going to have to pay higher taxes to fund every new social program or every budget increase to their favored program, they will think twice about asking for that new spending.

    They might figure out it is better to keep your own money and spend it as you see fit than it is to let congress take it and spend it for you.

    It is time to stop living at others' expense.

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    April 12, 2011 12:40 a.m.

    We got it the mess because a certain Senator overseeing financial institutions let them gamble away 5 to 10 Trillion!

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 12, 2011 12:24 p.m.

    We didn't get into this budget mess in one term, nor did just ONE PARTY get us there. So don't expect just ONE PARTY to get us out... or to be able to do it in one term.

    It took ALL OF US to get where we are today... It will take ALL OF US to get out.

    The longer we keep fighting each other on political dogma, rhetoric and ideological_purity... we will continue to get nowhere.

    Stoking the flames of Class_warfare, Communism, Socialism and anti-Capitalism... trying to bring down anyone who has more than you... is not a solution.

    Unless we are ALL willing to PAY THE PRICE (and not just look at the other societal_group, or the other income_bracket, or the other state, to pay the bill)... we will ALL fail.

    Until we are ALL committed to paying the price and doing what it will take to save our country from bankruptcy... the politicians may as well bicker and argue over which PARTY gets credit for it... and what group gets to pay... in the end it will fail unless we are ALL contributing and sacrificing.

    Solution = Flat_tax... NO_Deductions... end_tax_immunity for ANY income_bracket.

  • 1Infidel APO, AE
    April 13, 2011 9:57 a.m.

    Term limits, Bob.

    Take the decision out of the hands of the good ol boy network in D.C. via a national referendum, and a vast majority of the problems and the dirty tricks and skewed accounting processes used to fleece American taxpayers will come to a screetching halt.

    Bet you're not on board with that, eh, Bob.