On the U.S. Situation

I imagine most Americans are tired of the news about Congress and its antics regarding shutdown and sequester. I also imagine the rest of the world is a bit annoyed as well. Therefore, it’s time to do some basic informing.

The Facts
1) According to the US Constitution, Congress (not the President/Executive Branch) is responsible for fiscal matters, including the budget. Because of the balance of powers in the Constitution, the President can sign or veto the budget bill passed by Congress.

2) According to the US Constitution, the government can operate at a debt, which it has been since the mid 1970s. This is something that many (if not most or even all) state and municipal constitutions do not allow. For the record, the biggest holder of US debt is the US Government itself – not China.

3) Debt and deficit are different, but related. The negative differential in one fiscal year between income and spending is the deficit, while the debt is the cumulative total of annual deficits.

4) Sequester was not a presidential mandate. As part of the Congress-passed, president-signed Budget Control Act of 2011, Congress agreed to form a Super Committee that would produce legislation to reduce the deficit by a fixed amount over ten years. Failure to reach an agreement would initiate pre-determined, automatic cuts known as sequestration.

5) The Super Committee failed in their task, and Congress continues to pass (and president signs) short-term legislation to delay sequestration and raising the debt ceiling – thus choosing to kick the can down the road rather than addressing the issue.

6) The debt ceiling allows government to pay for the bills for goods and services that the government has already authorized to spend. Because the government would still have income, failing to raise the debt ceiling forces the government to prioritize payments (as long as money exists to pay).

Commentary
Although polls have the darkest clouds hanging over Republicans, favorable ratings are not brightly shining on Democrats and President Obama. In the end, US lawmakers are skirting their responsibility of governing for the citizens in favor of the selfishness of their party and themselves. Members will evade, distort, deceive, intentionally misinform, and even lie to get their way. Each party targets certain budgetary items and protects others. Each party has its members firmly in line with a party-first mantra.

The Founding Fathers designed a system with differences from our European forefathers and one involving a separation of powers to prevent one-party domination. Although the majority rules in government, governing involves the majority giving something to the minority as part of the final deal – and that same minority willing to take what they can get.

Currently, this is unquestionably not happening. Partisan lawmakers believe all answers lie within their philosophy while the other party has nothing to offer. Creative problem solving that looks outside of both boxes has no chance.

I fret a future election cycle when one party controls the White House and both sides of Capitol Hill because the stage is set for a strong overreach that forces the party’s values upon all. Given the current climate, the question isn’t if, but when.

On Satire Bits: Vol. 46

With my project out of the way and tax information in the hands of an accountant, now its on to a variety of tidbits of things to do.

Seems like it’s a long time since the last bit of mid-week satire. Even though I wasn’t posting tidbits from The Onion midweek or in Friday’s Opinions in the Shorts, I was still gathering headlines from my favorite satire source.

I have more than normal because most of these have something to do with relatively recent news. Enjoy. Which is/are you favorite(s)?

North Korea returns to normalcy with synchronize disco jump-rope gala

Disappointed couple on 8-month waiting list to get married at the Pentagon

Girls Gone Wild Bankruptcy forces thousands of wet, wild party girls into tough job market

Chicago man bushes mound of snow from beef sandwich before eating it

Poll: 99% of human beings prefer big, slippery hound dog pope

Transportation Secretary hoarding traffic cones and stop signs before the sequester

Iran promises to end nuclear program in exchange for detailed diagram of atomic bomb

Les Miserables wins Oscar for most sound

Obama and Congress must reach deal by March 15, and then by April 11, and then by April 20th, and then by May 1st

Bus transporting Carnival cruise passengers crashes into sewage treatment plant

Hung-over Energy Secretary wakes up next to solar panel

I-95 diagnosed with highway cancer

Ben Affleck nominated for best friend of Matt Damon

Dead iPod remembered as expensive

College freshman roommate has had excuses to go home every weekend since August

Millions of human beings experiencing emotions about JJ Abrams directing Star Wars

Rod Stewart passes for elderly aunt