Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Why the Export-Import Bank needs to go

So little is known about the Export-Import Bank because, let’s face it, it’s a rather boring subject. That was until it became a bone of contention between Sen. Ted Cruz and his majority leader, Mitch McConnell. Cruz chastised McConnell on the Senate floor for lying to him and others when McConnell said he wouldn’t allow a vote on reauthorization of the bank in exchange for getting Democrat support for fast track authority for the president. McConnell did allow a vote and all the Democrats voting supported the Export-Import Bank along with 22 Republicans.
So, what is this Export-Import Bank? It’s a vestige of the Great Depression. Basically, it’s the official export credit agency for the federal government. It finances and insures high-risk loans for companies that can’t get financing in the private sector because the risk is too high. In other words, it’s corporate welfare. 

Supporters argue that it helps small business but 65 percent of the bank’s business went to foreign companies so they could buy Boeing aircraft. Sure, it helps some small businesses but these are businesses that couldn’t get such financing in the private sector. Supporters say that’s why we need the Export-Import Bank but that’s exactly the point. If you can’t get financing in the private sector you don’t need to be doing business.

For example, the Export-Import Bank gave $10 million in loan guarantees to Solyndra. That solar panel company went belly-up with a bunch of other taxpayer money, as well. Yes, there have been many success stories and supporters point to all the jobs the bank has helped create. That’s all well and good but the government is not in the business of creating jobs. If that were the case then we’d have the government take everyone unemployed and hire them as crossing guards at intersections across the country. Then we could brag about full employment but the cost would be staggering.

Such it is with the Export-Import Bank. Supporters say it makes money but the reality is it loses money. It props up businesses that don’t need propping up, like the oil business and green energy. It gives them access to money they wouldn’t ordinarily have access to because the risk is too great. That alone tells you the bank is nothing more than a welfare program.

Why do so many Democrats support this bank, especially given its history of risky oil ventures? Because they’re Keynesians who ultimately have little faith in the free market. They love the role government takes in ‘helping’ the economy along. They’re bureaucrats who love being ‘useful’ to their constituents which gives them a sense of purpose.

The reality is the free market is the best determiner of where capital is allocated. Private sector businessmen and businesswomen who are held accountable by boards of directors are far more careful with money than government employees whose very existence hinges on how many risky loans they can guarantee.

The Export-Import Bank clings to a depression-era mentality that the only way the economy can grow is through government subsidy. Many studies now show that the Great Depression was so great because the government intervened and gummed up the works. Economists say FDR prolonged the depression by at least 7 years with his intervention policies and the Export-Import Bank was one such ‘solution’ he created.

It’s a very simple principle. If others who have money think your enterprise is worth risking their money to bankroll, they’ll loan it to you. We certainly do not need the government short-circuiting that process.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Why do we love Trump?

What is it with Donald Trump? No, really. This is something we rarely see in politics. I remember Ross Perot and the enthusiasm about him. It was special, too, but Trump is different. I’ve never really cared for the man. I’ve always found him egotistical, bombastic, confrontational for confrontation’s sake, but I have to admit I’ve gotten caught up in Trump fever. Why?

Well, I’m still trying to sort through that myself.

I remember when Perot jumped in the race in ’92. I was part of a small group at a reception for him just before he went on Larry King Live and was ‘talked into running.’ I asked him a question — about what, I couldn’t tell you — but I remember his response. I remember how his gaze was the most intimidating of any person I’d ever met. And he was a short, little fellow, too, but I was scared to death of him. I had to fight to keep from being stared down and looking away but I held his gaze, with beads of sweat forming on my brow.

Perot was a straight-talker, too. He was a businessman like Trump but his appeal was different. It was a Sam Waltonesque, folksy appeal. It was an almost “we can’t do any worse so let’s try Perot” appeal.

Trump is different. He has a sort of arrogant charisma. It’s one of those intangibles you can’t quite put your finger on. The man’s worth $10 billion, for crying out loud. It’s not like Romney money or Kerry money. It’s so much money that it puts him in another stratosphere. He’s like royalty. It’s funny because people who normally hate the rich love Trump. It’s like he’s a walking, talking caricature of himself. The expensive suits. The Trump scowl. The hair.

He doesn’t hold fundraisers because he doesn’t need fundraisers. He’s not meeting in back rooms with lobbyists. He doesn’t need them. He’s the only presidential candidate to come along in who knows when who is totally self-contained. He doesn’t need anything from anybody. It’s rather refreshing. All the people who’ve been wanting to get the money and influence out of politics? Trump’s your man.

As a talk show host there’s one fast rule. You don’t criticize someone’s military record, especially if you haven’t served. Trump went after John McCain after McCain said Trump “fired up the crazies.” If Trump does have one weakness it’s the fact that he’s hypersensitive. He doesn’t take criticism well. He tends to lash out and he lashed out at McCain in an area he never should’ve gone. His time as a POW.

Any other politician would’ve folded the next day but Trump isn’t any other politician. In fact, he’s not a politician at all. That’s what people love about him. Even after the gaffe, his poll numbers rose. 

Gov. Martin O’Malley recently responded to a group of black folks chanting “black lives matter” by saying, “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.” He later apologized saying he didn’t “mean to be insensitive.” You think Trump would’ve wimped out like that? O’Malley looked weak and pathetic, not the kind of guy you want standing up to Iran.

And maybe that’s the allure. We’re sick and tired of mealy-mouthed politicians who carefully watch every syllable that comes out of their mouths and apologize to any overly-sensitive weenie who complains. Trump’s attitude? Screw ‘em. It’s a tough world and people are going to say tough things. Get over it.

It’s refreshing now. The only question is if it will wear thin before the primaries.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, 
The Phil Valentine Show.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bernie Sanders targeting the wrong rich folks

Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently said out loud what many liberals think, and the Washington Post applauded him for his courage. What did he say? He said, “Our economic goals have to be redistributing a significant amount of wealth back from the top 1 percent.” This is not merely scary socialism. This is outright communism. 

Let’s examine that statement. He uses the term “redistributing.” That assumes that the wealth was first “distributed.” Wealth isn’t distributed, it’s earned. I know, there are trust-fund babies who inherit money from their parents but those people make up a small portion of the rich. And even if they fell into a potful of daddy’s money, does that mean that everyone else is entitled to it?

According to the Tax Policy Center, the top one percent of wage-earners earned 17 percent of the income in 2014 yet they paid 45.7 percent of the individual income taxes. In other words, they paid 2.7 times their share of income in taxes. The Congressional Budget Office tells us that percentage has been going up since 1979 when the one-percenters earned 8.9 percent of the income and paid 18 percent of the federal income taxes. By 2011, they earned 14.6 percent of the income and paid 25.4 percent of the income taxes. So, during the so-called decade of conspicuous consumption, better known as the ‘80s (or the decade of Reagan’s tax cuts) the rich started paying an even more lopsided share of their wealth in taxes.

Did the rich get a tax cut under Reagan? Sure, but so did everyone else. Those tax cuts unleashed one of the largest peacetime economic expansions in the nation’s history. If you broaden the numbers you’ll find that the top 10 percent of income earners pay about 68 percent of all federal income taxes even though they earn 45 percent of all income. Conversely, the bottom 50 percent pay just 3 percent of income taxes yet they earn 12 percent of the income.

It’s not hard to see that there are plenty in this country who aren’t paying their fair share but it ain’t the rich. In fact, were you to eliminate the uber rich like Bernie Sanders and so many liberals want to do, you’d wipe nearly half of the income taxes coming into the treasury. Not to mention the tens of millions of jobs they create.

But it’s not just the uber rich who liberals want to target. If you make above $134,300 a year you are in the top 20 percent of wage-earners. Your group makes 51.3 percent of the income yet you pay 83.9 percent of the income taxes. This illustrates just how upside down our tax system is. “Fair share” is when everyone pays the same income tax rate. That’s never going to happen in this country because the bottom 40 percent not only pays no income tax, they get money through the Earned Income Tax Credit that they’ve never paid in!

According to a study from UC-Berkeley, the top one percent saw their income grow under Obama by 31.4 percent while the other 99 percent grew by only 0.4 percent. In other words, the uber rich got uber richer under Obama than at any time in recent memory.

Liberal regulations have choked off money to Main Street and funneled that money to Wall Street. What has resulted is a perverse alliance between the rich donor class of the Democrat Party and the lowest segment of wage-earners who get money from the government. It’s the unintended consequence of government meddling. 

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, 
The Phil Valentine Show.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The real causes of the Civil War

I try to avoid this subject like the plague. People have been arguing over the cause of the Civil War since it began and the debate still rages. It's intensified in the wake of the Confederate flag witch hunt so I thought it was about time I chimed in.

The causes of the Civil War are a bit complicated but they can be distilled down to a simple explanation. People look for a cause of the Civil War and that's where they make a mistake. There were two primary reasons for the war and it depends on which side of the Mason-Dixon line your perspective comes from.

First, let's get a nasty piece of business out of the way. The reason the Southern states left the Union was over slavery. That much is indisputable. People can point to all sorts of revisionist literature after the war but one only has to look at the Declaration of Causes of Succession from the seceding states. If you'll click on this document that reprints the declarations from South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia and do a word search for the word "slave" you'll find that word in some form 83 times in the document. There is no doubt the Southern states were upset over the North's abrogation of its responsibility to not only allow the South to continue slavery but to return any runaway slaves. They were also upset over the North's meddling and its attempts to foment a slave uprising. They were also mad that the North was trying to block the spread of slavery in the new territories. Georgia wrote in their declaration, "The prohibition of slavery in the Territories is the cardinal principle of this organization." 

Mississippi wrote in their declaration, "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery." South Carolina, the first state to leave, singled out Abraham Lincoln "whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery." They also laid out their grievances against states, by name, that had been increasingly hostile to the institution of slavery. Virginia noted as their reason for leaving "the oppression of the Southern slave-holding states."

But understand the distinction. The South seceded over the issue of slavery. Secession, in and of itself, didn't start the war. They felt they fully had the right to do so and never intended to go to war over it, although they were certainly prepared to do so, if necessary. After South Carolina left the union, federal troops occupied Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. Negotiations to convince them to leave the fort were unsuccessful and the Confederate soldiers took the fort by force, thus the start of the Civil War. Or, the War of Northern Aggression, if that's your perspective.

What needs to be noted is individual states were within their rights to dissolve their relationship with the federal government and leave the union. Lincoln and the North are portrayed as liberators of slavery but their interest was primarily in keeping the union together for financial reasons. They depended somewhat on the South for revenue. Although the North was far better off financially at the outset of the war, the Union found it necessary to implement the first income tax in 1862 to fund the war effort.

The South's export of cotton to the North was gone and they struggled to stay alive financially. Southern states printed money but a lot of folks didn't trust paper money unless it was backed by gold and the South had relatively little of it compared to the North. It was a lot like feuding band members whose individual parts are not nearly as valuable as the whole. Bullheadedness sometimes clouds good judgement and there was enough of that to go around on both sides.

Ultimately, it boils down to this. The South left the union over the issue of slavery. The North started a war to preserve the union. The South fought for their right to leave the union and to preserve the institution of slavery. The North fought to preserve the union and the tax base that was coming from the South. Neither very noble causes although one was certainly less noble than the other.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The blurred lines between race and politics

I overheard a conversation recently among some self-proclaimed liberal Democrats regarding the future of their little town. Historically, the town has been governed primarily by white folks despite it being a majority black town. They were strategizing how to keep it that way. Now, these are liberal Democrats, mind you.

It illustrates just how entrenched a political party becomes in the minds of voters and how some people will cling to the Democrat Party when, ideologically, the party left them in the dust years ago. You see, what these people fear is not black rule over their city but liberalism. When the Democrat Party took a hard left turn, these people held on for dear life and turned with it. Electing white Democrats in this small town didn’t seem to bother them. What bothered them was black Democrats, which I found fascinating.

One could argue that, deep down inside, these people trying to keep black rule from their town are racist but it’s not as simple as that. What they know — and don’t even realize they know — is that the far left wing of the Democrat Party uses black people to advance their liberal agenda. Believe it or not, there are still Democrats in the South who are fairly conservative, at least on the local level.

If you want to see how far a city can drop into the abyss, just look at Detroit. In the last 40 years it has seen its population plummet from over 2 million to 700,000. Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation’s history at over $18 billion in debt. Yes, that’s 18 billion with a “B.” During that period of time Detroit was run by a succession of black mayors but the reason Detroit crumbled is not because its mayors were black. It’s because they were liberal. They pandered to the largely black population by offering government handouts instead of making sure the jobs didn’t leave the city. Unions, historically run by white liberals, had a lot to do with Detroit’s fall from grace. They demanded too much, compromised too little, and put large corporations on the path to least resistance which was to leave the city, some leaving the country altogether.

So, what troubles these Democrats I overheard talking about their little town is really a scaled-down version of what killed Detroit. Blacks tend to vote over 90 percent Democrat. The Democrat Party is now run by a bunch of wild-eyed liberals who think government bailouts and welfare are the answer.

Mike Duggan is the first white Detroit mayor elected since 1970. The problem is, Duggan is still a Democrat. Yes, he’s a businessman who’s tried to implement some free-market solutions to Detroit’s problems but he’s still relying on the old liberal solutions, like a new arena for the Red Wings that’s getting 60 percent of its funding from the taxpayers. In the meantime, the state of Michigan and the federal government have thrown hundreds of millions of dollars at Detroit to keep their untenable pension funds alive.

The irony is, if black conservatives ever run for office in Detroit they would never get elected. Conservatives like Herman Cain, Allen West or Ben Carson could easily get Detroit back on track with free-market ideas instead of government bailouts and retread liberal ideas like bankrolling sports arenas.

Only three things really matter when it comes to the health of a city. Low taxes, low crime rate and good schools. Anything else is just painting over rotting wood, which is a pretty good analogy of today’s Democrat Party.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The left's rush to re-write history

The American left smells blood in the water. The monster racist who shot up a church in Charleston apparently had a thing for the Confederate flag so now all things Confederate are suddenly under assault. But it didn’t stop there. Louis Farrakhan promoted the idea of taking down the American flag because it had flown over slavery far longer than the battle flag of the Confederacy.

Then a couple of commentators on CNN floated the idea of destroying the Jefferson Memorial because he owned slaves. The mayor of Memphis wants to dig up the bones of Nathan Bedford Forrest and even the car from the TV show The Dukes of Hazzard has been banned. 

This, of course, is all coming from the left, where political correctness flourishes and common sense is dead.

For the record, I understand the disdain for the Confederate flag and the Confederacy. It was a dark time in our history but it is still just that: our history. Memorials to dead Confederates were erected in the years after the Civil War as a way of preserving that history. The left should be glad those memorials exist. Each time an American citizen visits one it always sparks a discussion of the war, its meaning, the lives lost on both sides, and the lessons we’ve learned. Not one of these memorials is trying to white wash history. They are merely markers in time. Sign posts of the mindset of the day and reminders of just how far we have come in a relatively short period.

If the time has come to tear down every reminder of anything ugly in America’s history we certainly have a chore ahead of us. Let’s start with the Ford Motor Company. Henry Ford was a well-known anti-semite who heavily funded the Nazis in the run-up to World War II. So much so that Hitler himself bestowed upon the esteemed automaker the highest honor a non-citizen of Germany could receive. 

While we’re plucking every Ford product from the roads we should dissolve the Ford Foundation which was established by Henry Ford’s son, Edsel, in honor of his father. Forget the work they’ve done to help people in at least 50 countries. Surely we can’t let stand a foundation funded with the dirty money of a Jew-hater and Nazi supporter.

If Thomas Jefferson’s granite memorial must be destroyed because of his ownership of slaves then we cannot allow to stand his living legacy, The Democratic Party, which traces its roots to the Democratic-Republic Party founded by Jefferson. It morphed into the modern-day Democratic Party and Andrew Jackson, another slave owner and well-known Indian killer, was its first president. The Democratic Party also gave us the KKK, Jim Crow laws and segregation. Democrats still celebrate their ugly legacy with their annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners.

The Republicans, on the other hand, celebrate with Lincoln Day dinners, honoring the guy who freed the slaves, but, of course, somehow they are racists.

And speaking of the Klan, let’s erase any vestige of the late Senator Robert Byrd while we’re at it. He was a Klansman who fought and voted against the Civil Rights Act. So did his colleague and fellow segregationist, Al Gore, Sr., yet there are buildings named after him.

Because the American media and corporate elites are running scared, the American left is behaving like ISIS, only without the beheadings. They want to topple anything and everything they find the least bit offensive. In the process it might be their own icons that hit the ground the hardest.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.