Nov 26, 2012
The Real Fiscal Cliff
The American economy is facing a date so dire that it has been given titles like the "Fiscal Cliff" and “Taxmageddon.” Several websites have created countdown clocks, all pointing to the end of the year. CNBC, the financial news network, has been handing out "Rise Above" buttons to call attention to the crisis. Even Bono, the lead singer of Irish band U2, is worried about the fiscal cliff, saying spending cuts would devastate programs to help the world’s poor, leading to more than 60,000 deaths.
The fiscal cliff is a deadline created by Congress in 2011 after it failed to agree to a budget and tax plan that would deal with the mammoth national deficit. At the start of 2013, the so-called Bush tax cuts will expire, triggering a series of spending cuts and tax increases.
The common fear is that the shock from the tax rise will drive our fragile economy back into a recession. The confusion created by the uncertain tax code will also cause businesses to set aside plans for expansion.
I have no doubt that the current fiscal cliff crisis will eventually be resolved. The process is about as predictable as the annual pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey. Republican lawmakers and President Obama may dance on the edge of the abyss, but they will eventually come to some resolution. The stock market will have a huge rally, and the president will be hailed by the liberal press as the man who saved America from financial disaster.
This little charade will do nothing to prevent us from facing the real fiscal cliff. The best possible agreement that Washington is capable of hammering out will only trim $100 billion from a shortfall that is expected to be around $1.3 trillion for the current fiscal year. Any agreement will totally ignore the growing problem with entitlements.
The new taxes that President Obama is demanding to be part of any agreement will be quickly eaten up by new spending. Just last week, the number of people on food stamps hit a fresh new high. Since Obama was just reelected under the idea that he was the captain of a slow recovery, there needs to be an explanation for why welfare rolls are continuing to expand.
Medicare is a huge monster that is growing at 8 percent per year. In 1986, the annual cost of Medicare for all states was $100 billion. It is now $800 billion, and in the next twenty years, that cost will rise to over $3 trillion per year.
Even if we fix the problems with the main budget, there is another fiscal cliff with a host of agencies that are privately funded but managed by the government. Just last week, we learned the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a federal agency that insures pensions, has a deficit of $34 billion; the US postal office is $15.9 billion in the red; and the Federal Housing Administration has shortfall of $90 billion.
Uncle Sam has been so active in playing the role of global insurance man that we now have obligation that are over $60 trillion. If we don't have the money to patch up these small cracks in the dam, it is obvious that the feds would be powerless to stop a substantial breach.
Now that Mitt Romney is no longer running for office, he appears to be speaking more freely about the 47 percent. He spoke during a conference call with his highest donors to talk about what exactly happened on election night. Having recanted of his 47 percent comment in the days leading up to the vote, he now seems to have gone full circle:
"The President's campaign focused on giving targeted groups a big gift-so he made a big effort on small things... You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you're now going to get free healthcare, particularly if you don't have it, getting free healthcare worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity. I mean, this is huge," said Romney.
The reason there is not outrage by the public over this is because most people don't understand the untenable nature of our financial state of affairs. The government currently lacks the ability to collect enough tax revenue to cover the mandatory spending portion of our national budget. Any talk of slashing the discretionary items is pointless. It's as if the U.S. economy is a speeding train heading towards a chasm at 100 mph, and the conductors are arguing about whether they should slow down to 80 or 90 mph.
Once we go over the real fiscal cliff and reach a point where the government is unable to pay its bills, America will descend into political chaos. I think people will be stunned at how quickly their civil rights will be sacrificed to restore order.
The fact that we've managed to avoid a depression for four years now seems to indicate that God may be planning to drop a financial bomb on this sinful world. The longer things hold together, the more convinced I am that the Rapture may be what triggers this meltdown.
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28).
Israel Always the Problem
Often I use the line: No matter which way the cameras and microphones of the world media are focused, they will always turn back to the Middle East, and to Israel and Jerusalem in particular.
This has again been proven correct. The most turbulent presidential election in U.S. history, at least from my perspective, taking place in the middle of one of the most horrific storms to hit a highly populated area of the country, was front and center for news coverage. Almost as if those things never happened, the microphones and cameras as well as the international diplomatic community’s attention are again turned squarely on the tiny Jewish state.
The interim event–the Al-Qaida murder of the American ambassador to Libya and three others at the consulate in Benghazi began the swing of media cameras and mikes back in the direction of the Middle East, a movement mainstream news organizations did all within their power to avoid covering while the presidential election was going on. They have had no such reservation getting back to doing their jobs in throwing light on Israel’s threat to invade Hamas-infected Gaza because of the incessant rocket attacks Israel has suffered.
The emphasis they chose–as they always do—was on Israel, not its attackers, being the problem. For example, mainstream news outlets zeroed in on and seem to relish in dwelling on comments about who is the culprit in the death and destruction taking place in the region. They all readily reported, with little explanation of the facts, the words of the Turkish leader, who continues to take his nation farther away from a working relationship with Israeli leaders.
WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — A top Turkish official has claimed that Israel is committing acts of terrorism by bombing Hamas targets in Gaza.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told the Eurasian Islamic Council conference in Istanbul that the Jewish state is systematically mass-killing Muslims.
“Those who associate Islam with terrorism close their eyes in the face of mass killing of Muslims, turn their heads from the massacre of children in Gaza,” Erdogan said, according to Reuters. “For this reason, I say that Israel is a terrorist state, and its acts are terrorist acts.” (CBS, AP, Reuters)
Those same journalists–if they can honestly be termed as such after the bias they continue to display— imply with cynical speculation that Israel secretly wanted to engage in the military action against Hamas for reasons other than to stop the rocket attacks, or at least to engage in the action for reasons more important than merely to defend against the attacks from Gaza.
Some of the Sunday major network programs had “experts” as guests who speculated that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) welcomed the military interaction in order to prepare for missile fire that would ultimately come from Lebanon and points north. All of the Hamas activity is, some of these experts offered, a welcome action against an Iranian proxy war surrogate.
Washington Post defense writer David Ignatius suggested Sunday, November 18, on Face the Nation that Israel’s purpose was to test its air strike capabilities for "a likely war with Iran." He said further: “Some people think... Israel [is] testing the rockets that would be fired against [Iran] from Gaza, next from Lebanon." Ignatius said during a round-table discussion, "So we may see something with Lebanon soon because it's a preliminary; this is a, kind of, warm-up round for the real conflagration that's ahead that involves Iran."
While it is totally within reason to expect any military brain trust to learn from battlefield action in regard to dealing with future contingencies, the unified tone of the mainstream news media seemed bent toward assigning the darkest of intentions to Israeli thinking. That Israel is always the problem is consistently the tenor of mainstream journalistic analysis.
One encouraging bit of news in this latest round of attacks on Israel is that the newly reelected American president, at least for the moment, has spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and has indicated that the U.S. stands with Israel. U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was dispatched to the region to offer an American presence in striving for a cease-fire.
The Obama administration has firmly supported Israel's right to self-defense, saying only that the U.S. ally should seek to avoid civilian casualties. And the U.S. can only hope to exert influence over Hamas by proxy, because it considers the group a terrorist organization and doesn't allow contacts between its members and American officials. For that reason, it is relying on countries such as Egypt, Turkey and Qatar to deliver its message to Gaza's rulers. ("U.S. Tries Behind Scenes to End Israel-Hamas Warfare as Egypt Hosts Cease-fire Talks," nydailynews.com. My thanks to Jonathan Stettin.)
On the not-so-bright side of things, some key players within the European Union, as well as within the Israel-hating majority of the United Nations body, have joined turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in classifying Israel as a terrorist state for its determination to defend itself. Zechariah the prophet had it right (Zechariah 12: 1-3). At the wrap-up of human history, Israel will be the problem in the eyes of the world. One day, however, God’s prototype nation will be considered a blessing to all nations, when this raging, satanic, sin-fever that infects the world of nation-states has run its course and the King of all kings reigns from Jerusalem.