News tagged as 'Quincy Williams'

A New Strategy for Economic Growth or Just Another Political Stalking Horse?


 “A New Strategy for Economic Growth,” a recent article published in the Wall Street Journal and co-authored by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, raises some interesting questions, both economic and political.

First, let’s talk about the politics. It’s hard  to read anything written by Jeb Bush and not wonder if it’s just the latest political calculation designed to prepare the country for a third Bush in the White House. Conservative Republicans have suffered through two Bushes, father and son, at the helm of the country for twelve of the last twenty-four years. Now comes the prospect of yet another Bush, offering himself up perhaps as a 2012 dark horse, but more likely positioning himself for a 2016 run.  Despite the unpallatable nature of that prospect to many conservatives, we must acknowleget that it is, after all, a free country, and if Jeb Bush wants to run in 2016, he has that right, even as the rest of us continue to suffer from Bush fatigue.

With that obvious political note out of the way, let’s examine the merits of the article offered by Mr. Bush and Kevin Warsh, a former governor of the Federal Reserve.

They argue, quite simply, that economic growth is the answer to all our current woes, and that we need a long term strategy to best accomplish that growth, instead of just short-term government policy measures to try to simply maintain stability. They also argue that the government ought not to be picking winners and losers. No company should be “too big too fail.” They don’t really lay out the consequences of failure.  How will it play out, for instance, in the future, if we let a major bank or automobile manufacturer fail?

I would like to see a Voices of the Tea Party book published by a qualified economist that closely examines the 2008 “too big to fail” related bailouts and addresses this question: “What would the picture have looked like if those federal government bailouts had not occurred ?”

We’ve been treated to many alternate military histories by such authors as MacKinley Cantor, who wrote a great little book titled “If the South Had Won the Civil War.”  Now it’s time for an alternate economic history.  Jeb Bush himself could write this compelling title: “If My Brother Hadn’t Bailed Out the Banks and the Auto Companies.” That’s an e-book I would buy!

Quincy Williams is a tea party supporter who lives in a blue state where he works for local government.

Just How Does the Federal Reserve Operate?


The other day a news report about dissent in the Federal Reserve system caught my attention. Three Regional Federal Reserve Bank Presidents questioned Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s recent decision to continue along the path of easy monetary policy. This was the first crack I’ve ever seen in the monolithic public face of the Federal Reserve, an important development in my eyes because the Federal Reserve is arguably a fourth branch of government,  with co-equal status to that of the President, the Congress, and the Supreme Court. It’s not in the Constitution that way, of course, but in practical terms it seems like a fourth branch.

Think about it. None of the three Constitutionally-established branches of government has institutional authority over the Federal Reserve Chairman. They can certainly suggest policies and actions to him, but beyond that, they are powerless to influence his decisions.

Do American citizens, voters, and taxpayers really understand how the Federal Reserve operates and how it is governed ?

Probably not.

The Federal Reserve system  is a complex central banking system for our nation  that has evolved for well over 100 years. That evolution has included changes in the Federal Reserve system that were designed to correct problems that developed in previous economic crises.

We need to have a better understanding of how each Regional Federal Reserve Bank operates and its relationship to the Federal Reserve Chairman and the Board. Federal Reserve decisions affect very basic things, such as interest rates on consumer debt , the value of the dollar , and overall liquidity in our economy .

I would like to see a Voices of the Tea Party publish an e-book  that provides a basic primer for us “commoners” to read  about the Federal Reserve system and how it operates. An educated and informed citizenry can always facilitate more prudent policy decisions by government officials. And the mysterious entity that is the Federal Reserve is something we all need to know more about.

Quincy Williams is a tea party supporter who works for local government in a blue state.

Time to Move on to Real Issues


Now that the great debt ceiling pseudo-crisis of 2011 has been “resolved,” what should the Republican Congress do next? I suggest it’s time to move on to real issues.

For the here and now, the Republican Party is the political entity best equipped to advance conservative policies, even if the leadership doesn’t always display the kind of conservative principles we in the Tea Party movement support.  The Republican majority in the House of Representatives needs  to exercise the power that goes with that majority. This means they should control what legislation gets advanced and continue to conduct oversight hearings.

For the remainder of this Congress, the House and Senate Republicans should support:

1. Updates to the tax code that close stupid loopholes.

2. Passing a Balanced Budget Amendment.

3. Lifting regulatory restrictions on oil/natural gas drilling to provide gas price relief for consumers.

4. Lowering corporate tax rates to assist businesses with job creation and capital investment.

But don’t worry, this debt ceiling issue will come around again, just in time to be the hot topic for the November 2012 elections. Next time, the general public may be better informed on the public policy issues surrounding it. It would be great if an e-book were written and published by the Voices of the Tea Party  presented accurate facts about the debt ceiling and what it means in real terms relative to the U.S. government being able to meet its obligations, in order of priority. At the top of those priority lists should be Treasury bond payments, Social Security benefit payments, and military salaries.  Perhaps by simply articulating the plain facts in an e-book, we can clear up the misinformation on this topic that is being promulgated by the mainstream media.

Quincy Williams is a tea party supporter who works for local government in a blue state.

Tagged as: Quincy Williams

Republicans in Congress Should Focus on Jobs


Kimberly Strassel recent wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal that suggested  House Republicans are fighting an uphill battle on the debt ceiling issue.  They are outflanked, she argues,  when they try to govern through their control of only one branch of Congress while the Democrats hold the White House. I think she’s right.

That’s why the Mitch McConnell plan loudly sneered at by many Republicans and Conservatives makes sense.  McConnell argues that by giving the current President some phased-in authority to raise the debt ceiling, he will “own” both the debt and the economy.

If Republicans want to maintain the House, and win the Senate and Presidency in 2012, they need to spend more time and energy on job creation.  Previously in this space, I suggested three specific policies the Republicans should propose: lowering the corporate income tax to 20%, expediting the new pipeline from Canada, and cutting federal expenditures. To these three policies, I now add a fourth, which I borrow from the liberal academic, former Clinton Administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich:

Let’s exempt the first $ 20,000 of income from payroll taxes for the next year. Send a bill to authorize this to the Senate and make the Democrat majority in the Senate either vote it down or approve it and send it to the President’s desk. Then we’ll see if the President is bold enough to veto an idea that originated with a fellow liberal,  or if he can be post-partisan enough to sign it .

Republicans  need to focus on jobs from now until the 2012 elections. They should make the Democrat majority in the Senate and the current President decide for the record — do they really care for the working class stiffs who need jobs and need help with daily personal home budgets or are they just all talk and no go ?

These innovative policies, as I’ve suggested before, are worthy of a Voices of the Tea Party e-book.  I’m sure there are others willing to put forth their own views on the topic, and, I for one, would like to see them.

Quincy Williams is a tea party supporter who works for local government in a Blue State.

Tagged as: Quincy Williams

When It Comes to Economic Policy, the Future Ain’t What It Used to Be


We can do better than the supposed “Grand Deal” that’s in the works for increasing the debt ceiling. But we will only do so if the Republican Majority in the House of Representatives realizes that it is in a position of strength and the President is not.

The President needs something that will produce a meaningful increase in jobs, reduce the nation’s unemployment rate, and reduce the price at the gas pump for American consumers. House Republicans need to wake up and recognize that fundamental truth.

The Republican Majority in the House of Representatives can lead the way and demand the following in return for the President’s requested debt ceiling increase :

1. Lower the Corporate tax rate to 20 % to help American businesses to invest more capital and add real new jobs to our economy. Even former President Clinton has been quoted as advocating a reduction of the corporate tax rate to about 25 % .

2. Get the Canadian Keystone XL pipeline project past the ridiculous EPA regulatory roadblock currently holding it up. When this project becomes operational  valuable bitumen can be delivered from the Alberta Province tar sands of Canada to American refineries , adding an estimated 120,000 new American jobs in the process. The resultant increase in our nation’s domestic oil supply will help to lower the price of gasoline.

3. Reduce Federal Government spending to 20 % of the nations’ GDP, down from the current year’s 25%.

The hard core conservatives in Congress  may be overly focused on reduction in Federal Government spending. Republican Senators such as Jim DeMint and Olympia Snowe argued in a recent Wall Street Journal Column in support of a formal Balanced Budget Amendment. I believe they really do not “get it” yet.  American consumers and unemployed Americans need immediate relief on items that affect their daily lives. Balanced Budget Amendments might make for good political headlines but really do not do a thing for the average American’s daily life right now

There’s nothing wrong with the goal of balancing the budget. However, conservatives in Congress should keep their eyes on the bigger picture and seize this moment of political opportunity to achieve additional important objectives for our economy and the average daily citizen’s pocketbook. Focus on what takes to produce new jobs. Attack the number one nemesis affecting American consumers today : the price of gas to fill up the tanks of their vehicles.

I encourage Voices of the Tea Party to publish an e-book that describes the real short term policies that can immediately improve our economy, reduce unemployment , and reduce the federal government’s role in our daily economy.  Plans that fix problems ten years out are of little interest to me.  As that great philosopher Yogi Berra once said, “the future ain’t what it used to be.”

Quincy Williams is a tea party supporter who works for local government in a Blue State.

The Accounting Rule that Exposed the Public Sector Pension Crisis


Conservatives and tea party movement activists understand that the problem of large unfunded pension and benefits liabilities for public sector retirees did not spring to life overnight. We know this problem is not going to be solved quickly or easily. What many of us don’t know, however, is why this problem remained hidden for so long.

It wasn’t until 2010, when almost all state and local governments finally complied with an  arcane public sector accounting rule called GASB 45, that the full extent of the fiscal crisis caused by these massive unfunded public liabilities was unveiled. The standard was adopted in 2004, but state and local governments were given six years to come into compliance.

GASB is the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, the public counterpart to FASB, the Financial Accounting Standards Board. GASB nor FASB are professional accounting related standards organization, not governmental entities.  The accounting statements of publicly traded private sector companies are prepared based on FASB standards. State and local governments prepare their accounting statements based on the GASB standards. Failure to do so risks negative annual audit reports and poor bond ratings.

What fiscal truth did compliance with GASB 45 reveal?  

GASB 45 required that  all state and local governments  abandon a long established practice of budgeting for pension and “other post-employment benefits” ( OPEB ) on a cash “pay as you go” basis. Under “pay as you go” each fiscal year’s adopted budget simply had to contain an appropriation for what the total pensions and OPEB expenses needed to be for that given year for existing retirees. Under GASB 45,  “pay as you go” was out as an accounting practice. In its place, state and local government units had to instead record new liability accounts on their balance sheets for the entire future OPEB costs. If the new liability accounts were not recorded, then all of the government units would risk credit rating downgrades by bond rating agencies looking for compliance with all GASB related standards.

The new multi-year OPEB liability accounting requirement meant that all state and local governments had to  build into their budgets a multi-year plan that would show not only how they would to fund the current year’s OPEB costs for existing retirees, but also how they would fund the total future OPEB costs for both existing and future retirees. For most state and local governments, this was like trying to turn around an aircraft carrier ship on a dime. Couple the timing of this new budget and accounting requirement of compliance by 2010 with the 2008 economic crash and related tanking of tax revenues, and you have a perfect fiscal storm .

Unfortunately, the so-called mainstream media never really understood what an “OPEB”  was or how GASB 45 brought to light this  major budget crisis that had been brewing for decades in state and local governments across the country. The general public only knows that–as if out of the blue–in the past year or two most state and local governments have developed a budget crisis related to “unfunded pension liabilities.”

It’s important for conservatives to gain a better understanding of how this crisis developed over the past several decades. State and local government units across the country bargained in good faith with public sector labor unions. During that time, it was common to grant pension improvements and future retirement related healthcare benefits in exchange for holding down wage increases. Those decisions were viewed as a means of spreading the ultimate labor costs over time.

Conservatives and tea party activists should take note of what appears to be a constructive agreement that Governor Chris Christie has recently struck with the New Jersey Democratic State Legislative Leaders. The deal is multi-faceted and includes the following highlights to attack the state’s unfunded pension related liability for state workers: (1) raising the retirement age for new workers, (2) increasing the pension contribution percentages for the state workers, and (3) increasing percentage participations by state employees in their health insurance costs.

Several other leading conservative governors have negotiated and implemented innovative measures to address this budget crisis.  I think it would be great if Voices of the Tea Party could publish an e-book that summarizes the tough conservative policies that have been implemented at the state and local level to resolve this problem in a responsible manner.

Quincy Williams is a tea party supporter who works for local government in a Blue State.

Two Landmark Cases Pose Fundamental Questions About Individual Liberty in America Today


When I first became interested in the subjects of politics, government, and history in high school and college, I was  fascinated by the idea of  “landmark” Supreme Court decisions. The 1954 Brown v. The Topeka Board of Education decision fit that category, and it captured my attention.  “Landmark” decisions, I knew, were those that shaped the future course of our nation’s history.

There are two potential “landmark” Supreme Court decisions expected in the near future that we all should follow closely.  The first decision will come in response to the various challenges to “Obamacare” that should reach our highest court next year.  In addition,  the pending National Labor Relations Board v. Boeing  “regulatory” case may also make it to the Supreme Court. Though the Obamacare cases have received far more publicity, both will have far-reaching implications for our country’s future.

These cases ask two important questions, fundamental to our concepts of individual liberty guaranteed by the Constitution:

1. Can the federal government prevent a business from choosing where to locate its facilities, make capital investments, and hire people?

2. Can the federal government force an individual to buy a specific product?

I would like to see the Voices of the Tea Party publish an e-book written by a qualified constitutional law scholar that closely examines the questions that I have raised about these “landmark cases”.  When the final decisions come down, such a book would be very helpful to those of us who want to understand the full implications of the final decisions.

Quincy Williams is a tea party supporter who works for local government in a Blue State.

Two Decades Later, It’s Still the Economy Stupid!


Conservatives in Congress should take a line first originated by Democrat James Carville during the 1992 Presidential campaign:

“It’s the Economy, Stupid!”

There is something wrong when credible leading conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives are spending valuable time and energy voting for and discussing the “Kucinich resolution,” which called for U.S. military action in Libya to stop in 15 days. The resolution failed on a 265-148 vote. But those 148 “yes” votes included the likes of Michele Bachmann and Dan Burton. Speaker of the House John Boehner takes up even more valuable Congressional time with an alternative/watered-down version of the resolution to criticize the President for not providing a “compelling reason” to date for the U.S. involvement in the Libyan conflict. That resolution passed.  I’m sure it has the President and members of his administration shaking in their boots.

It seems to me that conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives need to exercise the legitimate power that goes with their majority. They need to focus on more tangible economic issues of the day that are directly affecting the daily lives and budgets of all American families. I’m talking about simple things like jobs, wages, gas prices, and food prices. “Every day” Americans do not lay awake at night worrying about whether or not the President has overstepped his bounds on the War Powers Act in Libya .

Instead of spending time and energy on useless resolutions, conservatives in Congress need to focus on legislative proposals to promote increased oil and natural gas drilling, reduce regulatory actions that are restricting business activity and jobs growth, and mandate the approval of stalled trade agreements. Such trade agreements could expand markets for agricultural commodities alone and help individual consumers against the effects of incredibly increasing commodity prices. Last time I checked commodities’ prices affect our food prices.

Oversight hearings by the U.S. House of Representatives to demand explanations of the legal authority for regulatory actions and inactions, including ones regarding oil supplies, questionable actions by the NLRB, and the near-daily Obamacare “waivers” should be conducted.

Lastly, could someone  give the conservative leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives a memo that tells them to exercise their majority powers to work on job creating tax legislation, such as the reduction of  corporate tax rates? The memo should begin and end with this simple phrase:

“It’s the Economy, Stupid!”

Quincy Williams is the pseudonym for a tea party supporter who works as a local government official in a Blue State.

Time for Conservatives to Fight It Out in the Political Arena


We need a Voices of the Tea Party e-book  to pick up on a suggestion made by Shelby Steele recently in the Wall Street Journal:

“Isn’t there a fresh new social idealism implicit in conservative principles ? Why not articulate it and fight with it in the political arena ? …. The theme : Barack Obama believes in government; we believe in you .”

I agree with Mr. Steele. Conservatives in Congress can begin that fight through oversight hearings on things like :

1. The questionable legal authority of the actions of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its Acting Director whose appointment has not received Senate confirmation and

2. The questionable legal authority of the NLRB in its actions against private enterprise like Boeing in trying to place new jobs in right to work states and

3. The apparent continued delays in granting Royal Dutch Shell permission to drill for oil off the Alaskan Coast by several federal regulatory agencies despite extremely high gas prices affecting all American consumers. Even liberals such as Harold Ford, Jr. and former President Clinton have publicly stated and or published recent statements about the overreach of Federal Regulatory agencies that is inhibiting development of domestic oil supply. Any actions to remove barriers to the development of domestic oil supply will produce positive results in oil & gas futures markets which will in turn produce relief at the gas pump for consumers.

Conservatives and tea party supporters should ratchet up the pressure on Congress to take counter-active actions to curb the overreach of regulatory actions by the current Executive Branch of our federal government. Prudent oversight of both business and government functions is always needed. The challenge is implementing the right kind of oversight that does not inhibit the marketplace while protecting all interests in a fair and balanced manner.

Quincy Williams is a tea party supporter who works for local government in a blue state.

Tagged as: Quincy Williams

State and Local Governments Must Lead the Way


I encourage everyone who frequents  Broadside Books’  “Line of Fire” to read Arthur Laffer’s and Stephen Moore’s great article, “Boeing and the Union Berlin Wall” in last week’s Wall Street Journal. Laffer and Moore elaborate on the point I made in my article published earlier in this space, “Right to Work Laws Could Save Detroit.”

The Voices of the Tea Party should consider an e-book that examines two important points :

1. The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives should conduct NLRB-related oversight hearings to publicly make NLRB staff or Board members answer this basic question : What is the Legal or U.S. Constitutional basis for the NLRB to be the first federal agency to have “….. intervened to tell an American company ( Boeing ) where it can and cannot operate a plant within the U.S. ” ?

2. Is the ultimate answer to help balance the economic playing field between “forced union” and “right to work” states for Governors and State Legislatures to “tough it out” and push through new right to work laws  in the face of highly organized  resistance from labor unions?

Perhaps the Voices of the Tea Party could publish an e-book which makes the case that  “real structural change”  in support of economic freedom is never driven by Washington DC, but instead  by State and Local Governments.

Quincy Williams is the pseudonym of a local government official who works in a blue state.