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August 16, 2011

Dual Decisions! Who Cares?

Shawn Burns

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., MN) “won” the Iowa Straw Poll. So what? Who cares? She received 28 percent of the approximately 17,000 votes cast in this glorified high school popularity contest. She is claiming that her “win” sends a strong message to President Barack Obama about taking back our country.


Yeah, right!


This straw poll is a pointless exercise and Rep. Bachmann’s “win” means absolutely nothing. What a waste of time and money. At least the local economy in Iowa benefits from these Washington hacks and their self-absorbed little exercise in convincing themselves of their relevance in the 2012 election.


Here are a few fun facts about the Iowa Straw Poll, though.


·        To be eligible to vote, people had to pay $30 for a ticket.


·        Many of the candidates on the ballot bought large blocks of tickets and then handed them out to supporters, who in turn voted accordingly.


·        Representative Bachmann supporters far outnumbered supporters for all of the other candidates; and, depending on which article one reads, Ms. Bachmann’s campaign paid for as many as 5,000 tickets to get her supporters out to vote. Remember, Ms. Bachmann won with 28 percent of the vote. That’s 4,750 votes out of 17,000 votes cast.


·        Some of the candidates organized buses to get supporters in large numbers to the “event”


In 2008, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the Iowa Straw Poll, and we all know how that worked out for him.


Bottom line, the Iowa Straw Poll means very little about who will actually be on the ballot as a presidential candidate; and it has even less to do with the much bigger issues of the health of our country.


* * * * * * * * *


For the first time in history, the United States had its credit rating downgraded by Standard & Poor’s. So what? Who cares? What does it really mean? And what does it really matter?


Wasn’t it the Standard & Poor’s that for years gave glowing reviews of mortgage lending companies such as Countrywide and big banks on Wall Street and their mortgage-back securities scam? Sorry, but anything coming from this outfit should be taken with a grain of salt as a result of their very own shaky track record and with whom they have been in bed over the years.


Yes, from top to bottom, America has a spending problem. Regardless of political party affiliation, not many people will argue that we spend too much money.


One of the biggest mistakes of the last 10 years – that has delivered us to this point – was President George W. Bush’s decision to cut taxes to their lowest levels in decades without proportionally reducing spending. It doesn’t take an economist to recognize that, if you reduce income, you also have to reduce spending. To do anything else is irresponsible, stupid and, of course, unsustainable as we are finding out right now.


The idea of lowering taxes is terrific. Who isn’t for that? But, after President Bush cut taxes, he increased humanitarian and other foreign aid, spent close to $300 billion on his Medicare prescription drug plan, increased a variety of other domestic programs. None of this even includes the costs of two wars.


Sorry, but where was the fiscal conservative outrage and Tea Party lectures back then? It’s a question that has been asked in many circles and it is an absolutely valid question.


The financial problems we face today – and America’s addiction to spending – didn’t just begin in January of 2009. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the policies of the Bush Administration added over $7 trillion in debt in the last 10 years. So far President Obama has piled on almost another $2 trillion. Both administrations have put the federal government on unstable ground.


What’s the answer to fix everything? Who will be the knight in shining armor on the white horse who will come to the rescue? Who knows?


One thing is certain though: we can’t spend our way out of debt. Sacrifices will have to be made. Some of the cuts will hurt. No one will volunteer to have their program cut but will be quick to point a finger elsewhere and volunteer other programs for the chopping block.


In the end, no one will be happy. Everyone will complain about one thing or another.


But we can all rest easy because at least we have the “super committee,” or whatever the hell they are going to call themselves, on the job.


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