Congressman Loudermilk on Bartow’s Morning News

Congressman Barry Loudermilk from Georgia’s 11th Congressional district called into Bartow’s Morning News to talk about the work being done in Congress since their return from the Easter break. We discussed the revised healthcare bill that seems to have the support of the Freedom Caucus, President Trump’s proposed revision of the tax code, the problems with North Korea and the upcoming budget battle for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Other Lessons From A Government Shutdown: A Plan to Take Back Our National Parks

It seems that the people’s enjoyment of our national parks and historic places has been the biggest – or at least the most visible – casualty of this shutdown debacle.  With nearly 80% of the federal government system deemed “essential,” and untouched, the arrangement leaves the President with few good options with which to demonstrate to the general voting public the extent to which they really do need the Federal Government in their everyday lives.   People plan visits to national parks years in advance.  A trip to Yosemite, Yellowstone, or even Washington DC can be the trip of a lifetime for many families.  Sites like Mount Rushmore and the Vietnam Memorial Wall have become iconic symbols of America.  What better way, then, to exercise executive branch power during a policy protest than to close down these very locations.  Instant TV drama can be created by putting the disappointment of thousands of visitors on very public display.

We are all learning a number of valuable lessons from the current government stalemate.   To those that pay attention, the policy positions of various political leaders – and their willingness to defend those positions – have come to light.  The issues at the core of the debate are ultimately what are most important in the end – and the brinksmanship of such a standoff is a good tactic to spur the debate.    But, the ancillary revelations that come to us during the process are important to notice as well.  Two such truths that have become self-evident is the risk in the current method of funding and operation of our national park system and the unacceptability of their shutdown over political and budgetary disputes.

My proposal would be to privatize the operations of our national parks to a number of private sector entities.   No – I’m not talking about turning Yellowstone in to a Disney-World like for-profit commercial tourist trap.  The idea is to simply hire private sector employees and managers to provide the visitor services, law enforcement, general maintenance, and administration that is currently being provided by federal employees.  The jobs would likely continue to be held by the same individuals, just with private oversight, rather than government.  Contracts would be awarded for multi-year periods.  The contract holder would be required to operate the national site in accordance with the current mission statement and charge of the National Park Service.    Nothing changes except the ability of the executive branch to close the park at the whims of Washington.

In actually, the parks could almost be self-sustaining.  Annually, almost 400 million people visit the 400 or so national park sites.  The annual operating budget for the NPS is $3 Billion, which no doubt includes a bit of government waste.  The overall budget is a little over $4 Billion, annually.  But, a $10 per head fee covers the entire operational budget.  Agreeably, while $10 isn’t a bad price for “admission” to a major National Park, it probably isn’t justified at a minor site like the Ford Theater where Lincoln was shot.  But, opening up the conservation of national sites to charitable giving and institutional foundation fundraising could easily make up the difference.  Organizations like The Nature Conservancy, The Sierra Club, The National Audubon Society and others, show that conservation and preservation are important to Americans and it shows in their charitable giving habits.  These private entities could become key in supporting our national treasures with private sector funding.

It’s time to address the American public’s addiction to the government.  It is too easy now for government to demagogue an issue, withhold or manipulate funding, or change policy and procedures and create enough pain to keep them in power.  The National Parks and historic places don’t BELONG to the federal government.  They belong to US , and we simply HIRE the federal government to run them for us.  If superintendent of an office building that I owned locked the doors and refused to let me in to my own building over a budget dispute, I’d fire that superintendent before he finished his explanation of his actions.   It’s time to take back our National Parks.  It’s time to hire new administrators that can run them the way we expect them to be run.

Sequester is Worth 18 Points…and That’s About It

Sequester…

Sequester…

Government is going to cut some spending.

And the word for it is…

Sequester.

Doesn’t that sound great?

Sequester.

What? Government is going to cut spending? And you’re telling me they’re doing nothing to stop it?

Say it with me:

Sequester.

How often do you hear that the government isn’t going to spend money or increase funding? I know, right? But coming in a couple of days (March 1st, 2013) that’s exactly what’s going to happen. And it’s to the tune of $85 billion dollars. Ahhhhhhhhh, $85 billion dollars unspent.

Sequester.

After wrapping my head around this stunning revelation and watching thirty or forty Harlem Shake videos, I admitted this is really going to happen. Spending is going to get cut, by default, on March 1st, and the Executive and Legislative branches are greeting it with a yawn. Wow.

So what are we looking at? What’s getting cut? Apparently, we’re looking at cuts of a few thousand vaccinations for children, some food safety inspections will be missed, millions of meals won’t get to seniors. Let’s see, what else? Education is on the chopping block. Thousands of kids are expected to no longer be eligible for Head Start. I hear unemployment benefits will be cut (why is unemployment or disability checks referred to as “benefits”?) And a reduction in defense spending too. If Tom Cohen of CNN is to be believed, he writes, “The forced cuts were written into law in 2011 to be intentionally indiscriminate so that legislators would compromise on an alternative instead of allowing them to take effect.” You do realize, dear reader, that this means these specific programs were chosen to be used as political footballs. If true, this means these cuts were never meant to be cut but were used as a calculated financial threat to force members of Congress to play nice. Money allocation is a pig skin in Washington. Programs are created or cut based on what is best for political gain. NOT what is valuable. My thought is, doesn’t this mean none of these programs are valuable since they’re being walked across a fraying tight-rope without a net? Maybe.

It’s more likely we’ll see no reduction in government spending at all. Most of the $85 billion in cuts doesn’t take affect for a few weeks or months. This means March 1st is a false deadline. The delay gives Congress more time and a second, third, fourth or umpteenth chance to vote to raise spending in the future. Plus, most of the $85 billion comes from the Discretionary Budget. The Discretionary Budget is funded on an annual basis. So Congress can wait as long as it wants and jack up the spending practically any time it wants. Note that the federal budget has grown and is projected to grow well into the future. What is cut now may/will find a pay raise later leaving some programs with a larger share of the pie than before the Sequester. This is really a non-issue. So don’t cheer or cry about the Sequester. It’s a fear tactic.

There is only one way to change this revolving door. Get the government out of everything it’s not supposed to be involved in. This way, it can no longer hold education, health, or whatever else it wants to take hostage. It will no longer abuse programs and services that the public needs.

We have to get the government out of every issue it does not belong in. Allowing it to do so turns it into Orwell’s worst nightmare and puts the United States on a path to feudalism, where those with power dictate what’s best for those outside it’s cherished walls.

In 2004, when John McCain threatend to use, “…government intervention if baseball owners and players (didn’t) agree on a stricter steroid-testing program…”, it was pretty clear right there that the government could stick it’s nose into anything it wanted to. And, it could kick your ass any damn way it pleased if you didn’t comply.

Take a look at the Congressional Enumerated Powers. Did ya? It’s not much, is it? (Originally I intended on doing a copy/paste of the Powers to force a reading but, eh, if you’ve come this far, you’re probably willing to click the link and come back). And now that you’ve read it, I ask, did you read anything saying, “To Provide hot lunches to school children”? Or, “To Regulate your toilet bowl to only 1.6 gallons of water per flush”? Or, “To Prohibit the use of marijuana and Twinkees”? No. Why? I guess the Founding Fathers had no idea what a Twinkee was. But sarcasm aside, Powers like these were not meant to be federal issues. Anything outside of the Enumerated Powers were left up to the States (See the 10th Amendment).

Government fails at anything other than protecting the Rights and Property of the people. * It isn’t designed to provide programs and services. Let me stress it again: Government, good government, exists to engage in the protection of Rights and Property. Anything else becomes politicking (as we’re seeing with the programs in this Sequester due to take affect in a couple of days).

Imagine if Taco Bell got into the cell phone business. Imagine a Taco Bell division geared towards the R&D of cellular technology. You can’t, can you?

Imagine Sears & Roebuck getting into the hamburger business. You can’t, can you?

Imagine Barnes & Noble (my favorite place to be) deciding it was going to manufacture and service farming equipment. You can’t, can you?

Imagine I will be making this argument on my death bed. You can, can’t you?

The reason the above noted businesses aren’t engaging in such behavior is because their business model is not set up for it. Consider government the same way. It has a business model – The Constitution. And The Declaration of Independence is the Mission Statement.

Let’s get back to that and there will no longer be valuable programs held hostage over political disputes. The free market will reign where programs come and go based on customer demand and service provided. Not because one congressman wants to teach another a lesson on humility.

The best reason to let the Sequester go through was summed up by the CNN Washington Bureau and they probably didn’t even realize they gave it. They wrote, “Most Americans will feel the impact of forced budget cuts when their lives intersect with government”. Good. Less government is good government. Let the Sequester begin.

Sequester…

Sequester…

S.e.q.u.e.s.t.e.r gets you 18 Scrabble points. 18 X 3 (for the three branches of the federal government) equals 54. 54 plus 34 points from the name of “Barack Hussein Obama” makes 88 points. Now subtract the three branches of government and you get 85. Ta da! It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this is how the 85 in $85 billion was reached. Nancy Reagan used to consult an astrologer.

Sequester.

If only it could last. But sadly, like the Harlem Shake, it’s pure joy for only about thirty-seconds.

* Regrettably, because the government has stepped so far out of bounds from it’s purpose, the protection of Rights and Property, it is somewhat secondary and corrupting to the point where it’s not even capable of doing that any more.