Did I hear Abraham Lincoln groan as he rolled over in his grave? Part 1 of 3

The Republican Party—known as the GOP or the Grand Old Party—was founded on February 28, 1854, when Alvan E. Bovay called an anti-slavery meeting at the Congregational Church in Ripon, Wisconsin. Abraham Lincoln was the GOP’s first elected U.S. President.

Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

That leads me to this question: why is it so easy for the GOP—or Democrats for that matter—to fool some of the people all of the time, and why am I asking this question?

Let me explain, and I hope that I don’t lose the thirty-second people who make up the average readers surfing the Internet.  Short attention spans and poor reading skills often don’t make for educated people and ignorant people are easy to fool.

I left a comment for an ABC-Yahoo! News piece about the US National Debt and the Deficit. Many of the comments blamed Obama for the increased National Debt. Anyone who disagreed was voted down by a large margin.

President G. W. Bush’s 2009 budget—the last budget he submitted to Congress—left the national debt at $12,311,349,677,612 [that’s more than $12.3 Trillion].

Near the end of Obama’s first term in office in December 2012, the debt had reached $16.4 Trillion, and conservative-media critics and tea-party politicians blamed Obama for the increase—in thirty seconds or less, I’m sure—and in my comment, I explained—until I ran out of room—why President Obama could not be held responsible for most of what has been added to the debt since he has been President.

Then an anonymous person left a comment and accused me of lying and this anonymous person left no evidence to support that accusation. I did not lie and the facts—when one spends the time to understand them—also do not lie.

Mandatory and Discretionary Spending Explained

All I did was explain—probably in too much detail for the average 30-second fool—that the annual-federal budget had two parts: 1. mandatory and 2. discretionary spending.  According to NationalPriorites.org, 62% of the annual budget is mandatory and only an act of Congress can change this portion of the budget. When I say mandatory, I’m talking about programs like Social Security that’s been around since 1935 and Medicare since the early 1960s. Without approval from Congress, the president cannot change the way these programs are funded, because they are on automatic pilot. If you want to discover more about mandatory spending in the U.S. Federal Budget, you can find it here at cbo.gov

It is Discretionary spending that funds the departments and agencies of the federal government and here is where the President has some input, but he still needs approval from Congress. He can’t force Congress to approve the budget.

For example, the Department of Defense [DOD] gets 57% of discretionary spending [in 2011, President Obama proposed $549.1 billion to fund the DOD, but Congress only approved $530.8 billion]; the Department of Education received 3% of discretionary spending; Department of Labor 2%; Department of Transportation 2%, etc.

Discretionary spending may be increased or decreased on an annual basis by Congress. In other words, what will it cost for each agency to operate for another year to fulfill that department or agencies duties according to laws that were passed by Congress?

There is one department that has both mandatory and discretionary spending. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was formed in 1778, and for 2013, 54.4% of its budget [$76.3 Billion] was considered mandatory and could not be touched. Therefore, the President can only submit the VA’s discretionary budget of $64 Billion to Congress for approval.

This paragraph offers an example of the challenge that comes with cutting federal budgets: VA Medical Programs make up 87.9% of the Discretionary Budget for the VA—programs that are in place because they were promised to military veterans who fought in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, The Iraq War and Afghan War. Millions of troops who fought for their country—for you—have service-related disabilities that need medical care, and each year the cost of this medical care increases requiring the President—no matter who he or she is—to request more money to fund this program.  Source: va.gov

And some fools blame the president for increasing spending for the VA and other departments. Do you want to refuse medical care for the troops who fought in America’s war—the troops who defended this nation; who defended you?

As you might now understand—I hope—based on the needs of the federal agencies and departments, the president’s budget proposal projects estimated spending, revenue, and borrowing levels for the coming fiscal year starting each October 1. The president’s budget proposal serves as a starting point for Congress to consider, and Congress is under no obligation to adopt all or any of the President’s budget and—historically—often makes significant changes.

And deficit spending happens when tax revenues do not cover mandatory and discretionary spending. If the law didn’t allow the federal government to borrow money, one of four things might happen: 1. The Congress drastically raises taxes; 2. The Congress drastically cuts funds to federal departments and agencies like the DOD ending the ability of the U.S. to defend itself; 3. The Congress raises both taxes and cuts funds to some agencies and departments to find a balance if possible, or 4. the government goes bankrupt, shuts down and the United States collapses as a civilization erupting into anarchy, chaos and violence.

Maybe China would send troops to the United States to restore order, because after the West collapsed financially, China might be the only country left that could afford to do that.

Continued on November 15, 2013 in I heard Abraham Lincoln groan as he rolled over in his grave: Part 2


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

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