Tag Archive | "Politics"

How to reduce the national debt without raising taxes or cutting spending


The following is the second op-ed by Michael Sekora, former director of the U.S. government’s Socrates Project. It can be found in the Daily Caller here.

Discussions about deficits and debt reduction inevitably center on whether and how to reduce government spending or increase tax rates. Proponents of increasing taxes argue over what level tax rates should be increased to and for which segments of the population. Proponents of decreased spending debate which federal programs should be trimmed or eliminated altogether. But this choice is a classic false dichotomy. If we grow the economy enough, we won’t have to rely on massive tax hikes or spending cuts.

Of course today, with the national debt and budget deficits reaching new highs and the nation’s economic health anemic at best, the old dichotomy is less tenable than ever. Increasing tax rates or cutting federal spending cannot be done effectively without disturbing a majority of Americans. Obama’s deficit commission stated that making reductions for sustainable levels of debt and deficits would necessitate large tax increases or major spending cuts, and quite probably necessitate some of each.  Even if these were done, given the structural dislocations in the current economy, it isn’t likely the measures would do enough in time to turn the economy around. The fact is that both options share or possibly redistribute scarcity.

Sure, spending should not be profligate, and taxes should be fairly levied. The far more effective answer to reducing debt and alleviating a budget deficit, however, is to grow the economy and increase business revenue. Significant and sustainable increases in the revenues of business, however, are unlikely using the standard economic shell games of the day, such as off-shoring jobs, lay-offs, and selling subsidiaries. To achieve significant sustainable increases, businesses must increase and maintain their competitive advantages in domestic and foreign markets. Moreover, a true competitive advantage is a matter of producing goods and providing services that customers want to purchase because the products and services satisfy customers’ needs better than the competition. If a business is not excelling at satisfying customers’ needs, then any other perceived “competitive advantage” equates to nothing more than rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

Under President Reagan I directed a program called the Socrates Project within the US intelligence community. Socrates enabled us years ago to foresee America’s present economic crisis, but it also identified the means to rebuild this country’s competitiveness and to turn things around. George Herbert Walker Bush scrapped the program, but it is time now to complete Ronald Reagan’s great legacy and to return America to economic preeminence.

The Socrates Project utilized all-source intelligence and, by examining competition worldwide, determined that the US and its organizations had begun losing competitive advantage in the marketplace after World War II as a result of switching from technology-based planning to economic-based planning as the foundation of most decision-making. Socrates also foresaw that if the US continued to rely upon economic-based planning with its inherent degradation of competitive advantage, the economic health of the US would go into catastrophic freefall and no amount of economic maneuvering would be able to stop it.

From the vantage point of Socrates, we also saw that China via an aggressive use of technology-based planning was, in effect, rapidly building itself into the next world superpower atop the wreckage of US manufacturing industries and a systemic failure to apply technology strategically to marketplace coordination and the output of real goods and services. China was outmaneuvering the US and its organizations in the acquisition and utilization of worldwide technology purposefully to decimate America’s ability to generate competitive advantage long-term, as well as to ensure its own maximum competitive advantage across the full range of markets and industries into the future.

To rebuild America’s competitiveness, the Socrates Project developed a highly advanced form of technology-based planning called automated innovation. In automated innovation, the process for acquiring and utilizing technology for a competitive advantage, including research and development, is automated so that it can be executed with unprecedented speed, efficiency and agility. Automated innovation would enable the US and its major public and private organizations to consistently outmaneuver China in the exploitation of technology, in order to acquire and maintain maximum competitive advantage and thereby greatly increase corporate revenues.

Debates today on how to best reduce the US national debt and federal budget deficit must include a third leg and not only the tired rhetorical tug-of-war between the need and desire to increase taxes or cut spending. What needs to happen is that businesses must increase their revenue from their private businesses and do so in a significant and sustained way, in order to grow the economic pie and thus exponentially bring in more tax revenues towards retiring the debt and living in our means year to year. The political debate must include more than the usual arguments. Corporations and businesses have to refrain from mere economic shell games claiming profit while they hollow out their insides and lay off American workers.

Businesses will naturally do this if and when tax and trade policies are less regressive, and when public-private partnerships produce the tools they need to have a real technology-based competitive edge. The US Government and various state governments should look into tech-based planning models, in order to fully appreciate and address their sagging economies and debt burdens, which are unique to this timeframe and not cyclic but systemic in their nature. To fully address the economic health of the US, the US Government should move resolutely towards a reexamination of President Reagan’s Socrates Project and so usher in the automated innovation revolution in this country and a return to sustained economic prosperity and a revitalized American Dream.

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OH-Sen: Tied


OH-Sen:  The Ohio Poll (pdf link) by the University of Cincinnati finds a tied race for the Senate.

Rob Portman (R) 46
Lee Fisher (D) 47 

Incumbent Dem Ted Strickland has an edge over John Kasich (R) leading 49-44%.  Strickland’s numbers were quite bad, but now are improving.

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HI-01: Republican wins


HI-01:  Republican Charles Djou won last Saturday in a special election in Hawaii’s heavily Democratic 1st District.  Voters could vote for any candidate, regardless of party.  Two Dems competed for their party’s vote, and the Republican won.  The regular election for this seat will be held in the fall.

This is a mirror image of the special election in NY-23 that was heavily Republican, the Republican incumbent resigned to take another job, and two Republican candidates competed for the Republican vote.  Bill Owens (D) won, but will have his hands full holding the seat in the fall.

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CO-Sen: Republicans now lagging


CO-Sen:  Public Policy Polling now has both Dem Senate candidates, Andrew Romanoff and Michael Bennett, slightly ahead of the Republicans Jane Norton and Ken Buck.  This is a change from a few weeks ago.  The race is basically too close to call, with the lead switching, so it is a toss-up race.  It neither leans Republican nor leans Democrat.

Bennet 44 – Norton 41

Bennett 45 – Buck 39

Romanoff 43 – Norton 41

Romanoff 41 – Buck 38

Republican candidate (and Lieut. Gov.) Jane Norton is considered the strongest primary candidate for the GOP from a national perspective, even though she is an underdog at the Colorado GOP convention in August.  There, party insiders may choose her challenger, Ken Buck.  That is why Norton has a petition operation going to get enough citizen petitions in each Colorado congressional district to qualify for the primary ballot without winning the convention.

There is a mirror image scenario going on with the Democrats.  Incumbent Bennet is favored by Washington, but Romanoff may win the August Dem convention.  So Bennet will do a similar petition operation.

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Election results – incumbents get hammered


Yesterday was the biggest election day so far in 2010 in terms of national significance.  Primaries in Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Arkansas.  Also a PA special election to fill Murtha’s seat.  Incumbents and candidates favored by party leadership both took a hit.  

I will only discuss the hottest races below, in national terms, with a focus on Pennsylvania.

PA-Sen Dem primary:  In the Democratic primary, Joe Sestak pulled off an upset of Arlen Specter by 54 to 46%.  Polls had Sestak surging, but leveling off to a tie in the last pre-primary election.  The eight point spread was not predicted by anybody, to my knowledge.  Many times a surging candidate will have more support than the polls say, as in this case.  Obama, Biden and PA Governor Ed Rendell were supporting Specter.  

On the Republican side, Peg Luksik had a strong showing garnering nearly one out of five votes, but lost to the favored Pat Toomey, 81-19%.  

PA-12 Special Election:   I said on Monday that this seat was a toss-up or leaning Republican.  No so.  Mark Critz (D) easily beat Tim Burns (R) by eight points, 53-45%.  This was the race to fill the late John Murtha’s seat, and is arguably the only race that did not follow the anti-incumbent, anti-establishment tide.  Critz could be considered an insider, in that he was a Murtha staffer.  

Simultaneous to this Special Election to fill Murtha’s seat for the remainder of the term was a Primary Election for both R’s and D’s.  Burns and Critz both won their party primary, so both will face off again in November.

KY-Sen Republican primary:  I did not discuss this
race much at TradeReform, but it was a big race in national, Tea Party
terms.  Rand Paul crushed the Republican establishment pick, Trey
Grayson, by 23 points, 58-35%.  Rand Paul is a combination Ron Paul
candidate and Tea Party candidate.  Ron Paul is Rand Paul’s father, but
Ron Paul is not necessarily a Tea Partier, as evidenced by the fact of a
Tea Party challenge to the elder Paul during this election cycle.  Son
Rand did run exclusively on a Tea Party platform. 

AR-Senate Democratic primary:  Blanche Lincoln underperformed badly.  She won but she lost.  Arkansas is a run-off state, meaning that where a primary candidate does not receive 50% of the vote, then there is a run-off election between the top two candidates.  Yesterday, she beat primary challenger and Lieut. Gov. Bill Halter, 44.5 – 42.5%.  But a run-off will happen.  Lincoln was challenged as too conservative and Halter is supported by the progressive Dem base.

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PA-Sen: Dem primary tied


PA-Sen:  Quinnipiac’s final poll shows a tie between Joe Sestak and Arlen Specter, the two Dems, at 43-43% respectively.  Sestak has the momentum, which slowed in the past week.  Specter has the support of the Dem leadership in the state and nationally.   

The White House supports Specter, but:

CBS chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer is now saying that he has it on good authority that the White House is privately bracing for Arlen Specter to lose tomorrow.

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IL-Sen: Giannoulias (D) claims a tied race


IL-Sen:  Alexi Giannoulias (D) is from a banking family.  The Broadway Bank, to be specific.  He is a candidate for Obama’s Senate seat.  Wall Street and banks are not well liked this year.  Banking regulators took over Broadway Bank in April.  Not good for Giannoulias. 

Ron Kirk (R) is the Republican candidate.  Kirk expectedly pounced on the bank takover issue.  And the poll numbers went his way.

The Gianoulias campaign released a poll today claiming their man is now running even with Kirk, and that in late April, he was down by 6.

This was a campaign commissioned poll, not an independent one.  We’ll see how others see the race in the coming weeks.

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Primary day tomorrow


PA-Sen:  Sestak vs. Specter is the big primary race at the Senate level.  Specter was way ahead for most of the race, then Sestak surged ahead recently with some (apparently effective) ads showing Specter saying that he switched parties to get re-elected.  But now the Muhlenberg College/Morning Call daily tracking poll showed Specter coming back to make the race a tie.

On the Republican side, Peg Luksik challenges Pat Toomey.  Many CPA members have said they like Luksik because she is very solid on trade issues.  However, Toomey is really quite some distance ahead in polling.  A lot of manufacturers like Toomey, but don’t like his trade positions, because he has been a unilateral free trader (i.e. America should drop its trade barriers unilaterally, without regard to whether trade rivals do so).  Whether trade is the deal breaker or not will vary depending upon each person.

PA-12:  Tim Burns (R) looked like a solid pick over Mark Critz (D) to take over the late John Murtha’s (D) seat in this special election tomorrow.  However, Critz may have pulled even in polling.  This race is considered a toss-up, or leaning Republican.

PA-03:  Kathy Dahlkemper (D) took this seat from Phil English (R) in 2008.  There is a competitive GOP primary, with no clear leader, for the chance to take her on.

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PA-Sen: Toomey leads


PA-Sen:  No surprise that Toomey (R) is on top still.  But somewhat surprising that Sestak (D) does better (2 points behind) against Toomey than Specter (D) (12 points behind).  Rasmussen has this data:

PA-Sen: Patrick Toomey (R) 50%, Sen. Arlen Specter (D) 38%
PA-Sen: Patrick Toomey (R) 42%, Joe Sestak (D) 40%
PA-Sen (D): Joe Sestak 47%, Sen. Arlen Specter 42%

So Sestak is surging as to Specter for the May 18 primary, and also as to Toomey.  Last month, Toomey led Sestak by 11 points.  The PA Democratic establishment united behind Specter, and the conventional wisdom is that a Specter loss means a Republican pickup.  The poll data does not support that logic, as of today.

And here’s a bit on the governor’s race, Dem primary:

PA-Gov (D): Dan Onorato 34%, Anthony Williams 17%, Jack Wagner 17%, Joe
Hoeffel 9%

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OH-Sen: Portman and shirts


OH-Sen:  Rob Portman (R) was a former U.S. Trade Representative who worked hard to pass new trade agreements.  He is running for Voinovich’s seat. 

Below is a new campaign ad, by his Democratic opponents, connecting jobs to Portman’s past DC service.  No direct mention of his USTR position.


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