Prescriptions for change at the federal, state and local levels

It was quite a week on Wall Street for us fat cats who have 401(k) plans, mutual funds and pensions. But we’re not worried. We live in a country that spends 143 percent of its income, so surely this is just a little bump in the road.

Unfortunately almost none of that prior statement is true. Those of us with our small investments for retirement are not fat cats and we darn well better be worried about living in a country that spends 143 percent of its income.

A good question might be what we tea-party hobbits (as The Wall Street Journal dubbed Republican tea party members in Congress during the debt-ceiling debate) here in western Colorado can do to shore up a country that is in danger of becoming Argentina. With that in mind, I thought I would make some suggestions based on national, regional and local action. Some suggestions are prefaced in forceful terms, as I think we voters have moved past the requesting period and on to the imperative voice.

Nationally, the list is somewhat obvious: First and foremost, President Barack Obama should be strongly encouraged to take the LBJ option of not even choosing to run for another term. Obama is the Secretariat of bad presidents. He has overtaken Jimmy Carter at the turn and is thundering down the stretch, looking to pass James Buchanan for the win.

Secondly, we need to demand from our representatives that they repeal the Obama health care plan, which each month will drag the economy further down with regulation, uncertainty and needless expense.

Thirdly, we should be aware that the continuing resolution supporting the federal government financially will expire at the end of September, allowing us one last chance to insist that our representatives make truly meaningful cuts in spending, with a target of expenditure levels equal to those in 2006 within four years.

The Democrats’ refusal to propose a budget will be nearing 900 days by the end of September, and conservatives should make this bit of political gamesmanship their undoing.

Regionally and in the state of Colorado, we should insist the governor replace all the prior Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission members so that every member understand the economics and realities of the energy industry.

Perhaps they will then stop saying things like: It is simply the price of natural gas that has caused our energy slowdown, not excessive regulation or hostility to the very idea of drilling holes in the ground. A fact-finding trip to North Dakota might be helpful. There are plenty of ways to travel there, along with many of the jobs and employees that used to work here.

Next, Colorado’s Public Utility Commission members should be replaced with individuals who understand the commission is mainly tasked to protect the consumer from overbearing pricing and policies on the part of state-sanctioned monopolies, not encourage them in the name of politically motivated environmental stratagies.

I cite as an example the wealth redistributive and progressive taxation charade of the two-tiered pricing structure for energy perpetrated at the behest of the PUC by Xcel energy.

The commission’s actions have been politically questionable to the point that the Legislature has requested an audit. This was prompted primarily, according to Peter Blake writing at the Colorado News Agency, “by the unusual behavior of the commissioners during the drafting and implementation of 2010’s House Bill 1365 ....  to reduce or eliminate the use of low-cost coal at Xcel power plants in favor of natural gas. Since coal is still the most economical fuel for providing base-load power, the measure is driving up electricity prices.”

Locally, voters should closely examine members elected or appointed to boards and commissions for balanced and conservative spending and taxing patterns. Moreover, they should demand that possible redundant or extraneous positions in areas such as communications, neighborhood services and other vague and ill-defined jobs be evaluated prior to any reduction in public safety or essential positions.

Voters should also be extremely wary of allowing local governments to fund positions or programs with federal or state grant dollars that will most likely become extinct due to budget constraints at those levels.

And lastly, don’t vote for people who think the problem is we don’t have enough government.

Rick Wagner offers more thoughts on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


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