Random Questions For The American Political Class – We Were Just Wondering…

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According to news reports, most of the politicians that left Washington last month for their five week vacation held very few town hall style meetings to reconnect with their constituents. Could it be that they did  not WANT to reconnect with their constituents, given the extremely low ratings the American political class garners in all major opinion polls?

In the absence of face-to-face meetings with our elected officials, I thought it would be a public service if we could lay out the questions many Americans would have asked their elected officials if they had decided to meet with their voters:

– We were just wondering… if the American taxpayer had to bail out the banks because they were too big to fail, how come the top four banks in the country are even bigger now than they were before the Great Recession? According to September 12, 2011 issue of Business Week, before the Great Recession, the top four banks in the country accounted for 45.2% of all bank assets in the country. Now, the top four banks now account for 56.8% of all bank assets in the country.

Did all of the political class action (bailouts, TARP, Federal Reserve quantitative easings, financial reform legislation, etc.) have the exact opposite of what was intended,. i.e. too big too fail got bigger?

– We were just wondering…whose great idea was it to give a California solar energy manufacturer more than half a billion dollars in Federal loan guarantees without doing due diligence, resulting in  that company going bankrupt a very short time after the political class wrote them a check for half a billion dollars?

– We were just wondering… given how stupid the failed and fatal “Fast and Furious” gun running sting operation seems to have been, was there another reason behind such a clumsily conceived and haphazardly run program? It stretches the boundary of believability that the ATF actually thought it could track weapons once they were in the hands of the Mexican drug cartels, there must have been another reason for such a program, yes or no?

– We were just wondering… explain to me again how Obama Care will reduce the number of uninsured Americans in this country when AT&T, Verizon, John Deere, Caterpillar, McDonalds and other U.S. companies have said there is a very good chance they would drop their corporate health care insurance programs for their employees and retirees.

Why would they do that? Because it is less expensive to drop their corporate health insurance programs and pay the small fine laid out in Obama Care than to continue their programs. Won’t tens of millions of Americans, who work for these companies, lose their insurance coverage, wiping out any gains in health insurance coverage elsewhere resulting from Obama Care? Are you people so ignorant of reality to not understand basic business finance?

– We were just wondering… in the middle of the debt ceiling crisis and negotiations, President Obama said that Social Security checks might not go out because the “coffers might be empty.” Does that mean the there really is no $2.7 TRILLION trust fund set aside to cover future Social Security payments?

If there really was “real” wealth in the Social Security trust fund, as opposed to a bunch of near worthless Treasury IOUs, why wouldn’t the President just have done a small withdrawal from the trust fund to cover the short term shortfall of Social Security taxes if the government ended up being temporarily shut down because of a failed debt ceiling negotiation?

– We were just wondering… why has the Securities And Exchange Commission “been systematically destroying documents related to Wall Street investigations for 17 years,” according to an article by William D. Cohan, writing for Bloomberg, and appearing in the September 9, 2011 issue of The Week magazine?  Did these documents actually include allegations of criminal activity and fraud against such entities as Bernie Madoff, Goldman Sachs, and others? 

Is Mr. Cohan correct in his assertion that this is just one big, cozy revolving door relationship between the SEC and Wall Street where misdoings are swept aside and documents destroyed? With a budget of $1 billion a year, are the American taxpayers getting their money’s worth of financial integrity oversight from the SEC? Probably not if you ask the Madoff victims.

– We were just wondering… is it true that we do not know the whole story about the Libyan military activities, as laid out by Steven Erlanger of the new York Times? Is it actually true that NATO is so incompetent that the United States had to do the hard work of militarily wiping out the Libyan air defenses, that the French had to withdrawal their only nuclear powered aircraft carrier fo repairs in the middle of the fighting, that Italy withdrew its aircraft carrier in the middle of the fighting to save money, and that the United States “provided intelligence, refueling, and more precision bombing than Paris or London want to acknowledge?”

How much did this whole initiative cost the American taxpayer, especially if the United States was supposed to be just a back-up to NATO, a role that seems to not be correct?

– We were just wondering… speaking of Libya, according to a report in the September 9, 2011 issue of The Week magazine, French, British, and yes, Chinese oil companies are rushing into Libya now, as the fighting winds down, in an attempt to leverage the vast oil reserves of the country. Does it seem fair that after the United States did much of the work in defeating Qaddafi but other nations will reap the financial rewards? Any chance they will give some of that oil money back to us to cover our military expenses?

– We were just wondering… a recent article that appeared in Wired magazine and was capsulized in the August 12, 2011 issue of The Week magazine, reported that the poorest fifth of Americans spend 42% of their annual incomes on transportation needs while middle income Americans spend an average of only 22%. Thus, wouldn’t it be a better idea to fix and expand local mass transportation systems within local urban areas to alleviate this cost burden on the poorest one fifth than to spend billions and billions of dollars to build out a high speed train system that is likely to take years to complete, if ever, and will have minimal impact on these less affluent American citizens?

– We were just wondering… according to Peter Ferrara, writing for Forbes, in early 2009 the United States and Canadian unemployment rates were both about 8%. After Obama implemented his $830 billion of wasteful spending that was originally billed as the economic stimulus package, the United States unemployment rate got as high a 9.2% and has hovered around 9% for what seems forever.

At the same time, Canada decided to cut taxes and regulations while providing people with “genuine incentives to produce, save, invest, and grow,” reducing that country’s unemployment rate down to 7.4% today. Thus, tell me again why President Obama wants to do the same tired stimulus spending strategy again, as outlined in his jobs speech, a strategy that raised our nation’s unemployment rate the last time it was used. Why wouldn’t he take a page from Canada’s economic playbook which actually seemed to work?

– We were just wondering… according to an article in the August 15, 2011 issue of Business Week, the Federal government gave Hawaii Superferry $140 million in loan guarantees to cover the cost of building two passenger ferries. Unfortunately, the company filed for bankruptcy, taking itself and the taxpayers’ money down the drain with it.

Thus, the question:  are the same government employees that lost over $500  million with the solar energy company discussed above the same ones that lost $140 million of taxpayer money with these two ferry ships? If so, maybe these employees need to be reassigned to another job that does not involve any contact with taxpayer funds. Better yet, maybe they should be fired for incompetency.

The bigger question is: why is the government boat loan operation still allowed to exist? According to the article, this program was suspended in 1987 after it lend out over $2 billion to 129 companies that defaulted before paying back the loans. Not to let a bad thing die, the program was resurrected in 1993, after which it promptly lost $801 million on 15 loans that went belly up.

But, it gets even worse. The article states that this shipbuilder program guaranteed $798 million in Federal loans last year and another $712 million is being considered this year, for a total of $1.51 billion. The head of the program says that loan guarantees of previous years will create 8,000 jobs. If $1.51 billion in loan guarantees can “create” 8,000 jobs, is the cost of $188,750 per job really worthwhile and efficient?

– We were just wondering… has Warren Buffet written that check yet and sent it to the Federal government for all that tax money he says he should have paid over the years but wasn’t required to?

From an article in the July 25, 2011 issue of Business Week, we now know that Congressmen Tim Walz of Minnesota and Spencer Bachus of Alabama two members of Congress that regularly donate extra tax money, beyond what they are legally required to pay, from their salaries to the Federal government. Given that both of these gentlemen are highly likely to be worth significantly less than Mr. Buffet, I was just curious to see if Mr. Buffet has put his wallet where his mouth is.

– We were just wondering.. according to an interview of Alan Greenspan that appeared on the Moneynews website on July 27, 2011, Mr. Greenspan claimed that the Federal government should have let some of the big banks fail back in 2008 and that after all of the bank activities by the Federal government, Congress and the Fed, banks “can now sit on their Federal reserve money and earn interest at no risk, they have less incentive to lend it and the U.S. economy is stagnating.” Would you agree with either, both, or neither of Mr. Greenspan’s assertions?

– We were just wondering… given the above issues, and dozens of others just like them, when are you people in the political class finally going to get around to resolving anything? Just wondering, because we are wondering how great term limits for all Federal political positions is starting to look, given your incompetence at everything except wasting taxpayer wealth.


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