US Federal Government Deficits and the National Debt

Every year our federal government spends more money that it takes in – thereby creating an Annual Deficit.  The cumulative result of all these deficits has created an enormous National Debt.   Everyone is very frustrated by the Deficits and the size of the National Debt, but most people only know some of the facts.  So, here are the data:

The chart below shows the Federal Budget and Deficit for some years 2007-2015 

2015 US Federal Budget

Federal government Income comes from various taxes and duties.

Permanent income taxes were established in 1913 and are the largest source of revenue (45%) for the federal government.   From 1913 – 1981 the top marginal income tax averaged approximately 70%.  That changed in 1982 with the Reagan tax cuts and top marginal rates have averaged 35-39% since that time.

The second largest source of revenue (31%) is taxes collected for Social Security (which started in 1935) and Medicare (which started in 1965).  These are considered “payroll taxes” and are paid equally by the employer and the employee.  The rates for Social Security have risen from 1% in 1935 to 6.2% today and that rate is applied to a maximum income amount of $118,500 (not more if you earn more).  The rates for Medicare have risen from .35% to 1.45% today and until 1993 they were applied to a maximum income amount of $135,000, but today there is no maximum amount – so you could be charged 1.45% on income of $1m or more.  To be clear, the employer and the employee both pay these taxes at the same rates.

The third largest source of revenue (10%) is corporate taxes.   These taxes were first introduced in 1909 and since that time they have varied greatly.  From 1950-1968 the top marginal corporate tax rate was 50%.  From 1970-1987 the top marginal rate was 40%.  Reagan reduced this rate to 34% and in 2016 it is 35%.  However, there are many deductions and loop-holes in the corporate tax system and many large, profitable companies pay an effective tax rate considerably lower than the 35% rate.  (eg.  Despite earning billions in Income,  GE, Boeing, Prudential Qualcomm, Time Warner, CBS and Verizon have paid less than 10% in corporate tax on their income in each of the last 5 years).

Excise Taxes, Custom & Duties combined are the fourth largest source of revenue (5%).  Starting with President Reagan and continuing through President Clinton, America adopted a “free trade” policy to encourage trade among our trading partners (the largest of which are China, Canada, Mexico, Japan and Germany).   This in turn has led to a lowering of duties and tariffs such that only 30% of all imported goods into the USA are subject to tariffs.  Our current level of income from custom duties and duties is at a historic low.

Since 1955, Federal Government Income has averaged 17.5% of GDP.   With the reductions in income, corporate and excise taxes noted above, Federal Income fell to 15% of GDP for the period of 2000-2012.  Today, it is at 18.2% of GDP.

 

Federal Spending – where does the money go?

On an annual basis, our federal government spends approximately  $3.7 trillion.  The four biggest spends are for:

  1. Social Security (created in 1935), Unemployment and Labor  – $877 billion;
  2. Medicare (created in 1965) and Health  – $921 billion;
  3. Military – $562 billion;
  4. Interest on Debt – $260 billion.  When taken as a percentage of GDP, our interest spend is at an all-time low.  Currently it takes 7% of annual government spending (compared to 15% of spending in the 1990s when interest rates were higher).  If interest rates rise our annual interest payments would likewise rise thereby compounding our problems.

These four areas alone consume 71% of the $3.7 trillion in spending.   Most people agree that these four areas are considered “Mandatory” spending – programs that were established by Congress years ago and are not subject to annual review.  (You could argue that Military spending is “discretionary”, but try lowering the military budget and see how far you get with that.)   That leaves 24% of the budget which is considered “discretionary” – that portion of the budget that is decided by Congress through the annual appropriation process.  These programs include Food Assistance, Housing, Unemployment, International Affairs, Energy, Transportation, Veteran’s Affairs and other Government administration.   In total, these programs cost approximately $1.1 trillion per year.

In 2015, we spent approximately $439 billion more than we had in income, and so we borrow that $439 billion from various sources (more on that below) – and that’s the Annual Deficit.

 

Deficits are nothing new

Since 1900 our federal government has had a deficit in all but 14 years – that’s 101 years of deficits.  And THAT is what has created our National Debt of $19 trillion.

 

Modern day Presidents on Deficits and the National Debt:

Despite their campaign promises to balance the budget and reduce the National Debt, our Presidents and Congressional Leaders have accomplished very little on this issue. The Federal Debt has increased under every president in the 21st Century.  (The last time the Federal Debt did not go up was in 1895!).  Here’s the track record of the modern-day presidents:

  • During the 1980’s President Reagan never once proposed a balanced budget for adoption by the Congress and deficit spending soared during his presidency and as a result the Nation Debt almost tripled from $907 billion to $2.6 trillion.
  • During the 1990’s, President Clinton did have a budget surplus in the last 4 of his 8 years in office but the National Debt increased (slowly) from $4 trillion to $5.6 trillion during his administration.
  • During the 2000’s President Bush ran a deficit in every year and increased the National Debt from $5.6 trillion to $10.5 trillion (caused primarily by the recession of 2001, reduced revenue from tax cuts and the wars in the Middle East).
  • During the Obama administration, there was a deficit in every year and the National Debt increased from $10.5 trillion to $19 trillion (caused by the Financial Crisis of 2008-09 and the on-going wars in the Middle East.)

If there is a small amount of good news, it’s that since 2009 our deficits have been falling.  But, they are projected to grow dramatically starting in 2017.

2015 US Deficits

This recent temporary decrease in deficits from was due to:

  • The economic recovery and growth in our GDP after the TARP spending;
  • Increased revenue from economic growth and various additional taxes (from 2.1 trillion in 2009 to $3.4 trillion in 2015); and
  • Winding down of the Middle Eastern wars;
  • Relatively low increases in spending (from $3.3 trillion on 2009 to $3.4 trillion in 2015)

 

To whom do we owe the National Debt?

  • About 37% of our $19 trillion in debt is owed to foreign governments and investors.  We owe China $1.3 trillion and Japan $1.1 trillion – combined that’s about 13% of the total debt. We owe other international investors another $3.7 trillion.
  • The rest of our debt (about 63%) is owed to private investors, other federal and local government agencies.  (eg about 30% of the total federal debt is owed to the Social Security Trust account – more about that in another post).

The chart below only goes to 2011 and shows a National Debt of $16.4 trillion.   As of February 2016, the National Debt is $19.2 trillion. Note the sudden increase in our Debt from 1980.

2015 US National Debt

Why does this happen?  The reasons are many:

  • Deficits and National Debt are not new to America.  We had a huge National Debt in 1778 because of the monies borrowed to fight the Revolutionary War.  The Debt ballooned right after the Civil War and jumped again after WW I and WW II.  But, from 1950-1980 the Debt grew only at the rate of inflation.   Then as you can see from the chart above – starting in approximately 1980, the Debt grew exponentially.
  • Simply put, our spending has been growing more quickly than our revenue.  The income tax and corporate tax cuts in the 1980’s have largely remained in place and this has restricted revenue growth to a level considerably lower than the growth of spending.
  • Some people do not believe that we should balance the budget.  They believe that the Deficits are actually “investments” in our future and are therefore justified – as long as the cost of paying for interest on the debt if a relatively low percentage of GDP.
  • Politicians are indebted to lobbyists who helped get them elected, and every lobbyist has their pet spending program.  Speaking about spending cuts in general terms is appealing to everyone, but when it comes time to  reduce or eliminate a specific program, the resistance grows.   As a result, very few programs, once initiated, are ever curtailed.

 

How do we fix this?

In 1798, when the newly formed country had a significant debt following the Revolutionary War,  Thomas Jefferson first suggest that a solution to this problem would be to add a balanced-budget amendment to our Constitution which would require that the government cannot spend more than its income. But that idea did not pass in 1798 and although politicians have regularly proposed it during their election campaigns, no such provision has been adopted by any Congress of either party.   Oddly, such balanced-budget provisions have been added to the constitutions of 49 US States and the countries of Germany, Hong Kong, Spain, Italy and Switzerland – proving that it is possible to balance the budget of a government if there is a determination to make it happen.   (Note: Most balanced-budget provisions make an exception for times of war, national emergency, or recession, or allow the legislature to suspend the rule by a supermajority vote.)

 It’s popular rhetoric for politicians to suggest that they would fix this problem by just eliminating some federal departments entirely.  But the fact is that you can’t eliminate the annual deficit even if you completely eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency ($8 billion) and the Department of Energy ($30 billion), all Food Stamps ($70 billion) and the Department of Education ($60 billion).  Many people believe that these departments deliver some value and therefore would be opposed to shutting them down, but even if you closed them ALL the Annual Deficit would only be reduced by $168 billion.  Which still leaves a deficit of about $271 billion using the 2015 data.  But, the most recent projections are that given our current revenue and spending plans, our deficits will increase dramatically over the next 10 years.

The only way we can ever balance the budget is by having the Congress and the President work together to address the issue by:

  1. spending a lot less on ALL programs – including the so-called Mandatory / Entitlement programs; and
  2. growing the economy so that taxpayers – individuals and corporations – earn more and therefore pay more in income taxes; and
  3. revising and simplifying the tax code – to make it fair and easier to understand and comply with for everyone ; and
  4. raising income by means of additional taxes – such as a federal Value Added  Tax (which most western countries have already adopted).

Of course two of these ideas, while financially sound, are hugely unpopular and no politician would ever be elected by suggesting them.  Even if these ideas  were to be proposed while in office, the same party would have to control the House, the Senate and the Presidency AND they would have to have the courage to overcome the objections of the lobbyists (the people who provide the political campaign financing to these politicians) who all want their programs to be protected.   That’s why, politically, this is hard if not impossible.

The prescription above – like most prescriptions – has a bitter taste.  Everyone knows that this is the cure to our problem, but in our current political climate, it is highly unlikely that we will take the medicine.  Instead, our political leaders will rant about the problem and then, once elected, they will take credit, not for eliminating the deficit or the debt, but for simply slowing down its growth.  That solves nothing.

This story does not have a happy ending.

 

Why does Pessimism sound so smart (esp when things are so good)

March 24, 2016

By Tom Gardner (CEO and Founder of The Motley Fool) and Morgan Housel

real gdp per person

“For reasons I have never understood, people like to hear that the world is going to hell,” historian Deirdre N. McCloskey told the New York Times this week.

It’s hard to argue.

Despite the record of things getting better for most people most of the time, pessimism isn’t just more common than optimism, it also sounds smarter. The pessimist is intellectually captivating, garnering far more attention than the optimist, who is often viewed as a naive sucker.

It’s always been this way. John Stuart Mill wrote 150 years ago: “I have observed that not the man who hopes when others despair, but the man who despairs when others hope, is admired by a large class of persons as a sage.” Matt Ridley wrote in his book The Rational Optimist:

If you say the world has been getting better you may get away with being called naïve and insensitive. If you say the world is going to go on getting better, you are considered embarrassingly mad. If, on the other hand, you say catastrophe is imminent, you may expect a McArthur genius award or even the Nobel Peace Prize.

In investing, a bull sounds like a reckless cheerleader, while a bear sounds like a sharp mind who has dug past the headlines – despite the record of the S&P 500 rising 18,000-fold over the last century. Yes, 18,000 times over! Wharton Professor Jeremy Siegel is often chided as a perma-stock-bull, blindly cheering for a higher market every time he goes on TV. But he’s done it since the early 1980s, a period in which the market increased in value 40 times over.

And so, we delight in movies like The Big Short and carp about the collapse of Enron. And that’s great. They’re extremely instructive. But we make a mistake by over-emphasizing them. . . rather than obsessing over medical breakthroughs, the enduring success of companies like Starbucks or Amazon.com, the exciting prospects for self-driving cars, et cetera.

This problem goes beyond investing.

Harvard professor Teresa Amabile shows that those publishing negative book reviews are seen as smarter and more competent than those giving positive reviews of the same book. “Only pessimism sounds profound. Optimism sounds superficial,” she wrote.

Why?

There’s clearly more at stake with pessimism. Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize for showing that people respond more strongly to loss than gain. It’s an evolutionary shield: “Organisms that treat threats as more urgent than opportunities have a better chance to survive and reproduce,” Kahneman once wrote.

Here are two other reasons that pessimism gets so much attention.

  1. Optimism appears oblivious to risks, so by default pessimism looks more intelligent. But that’s a wrong way to view optimists. Most optimists will tell you things will get ugly, that we will have recessions, bear markets, wars, panics, and pandemics. But they remain optimistic because they know that, like the universe, healthy markets grow. To the pessimist a bad event is the end of the story. To the optimist it’s a slow chapter in an otherwise excellent book.
  2. Pessimism requires action, whereas optimism means staying the course. Pessimism is “SELL, GET OUT, RUN,” which grabs your attention because it’s an action you need to take right now. Optimism is mostly, “Don’t worry, stay the course, we’ll be alright,” which is easy to ignore since it doesn’t require doing anything. Remember, it is enduring optimism that has earned a return of 18,000X over the last century. The opposite approach has failed, terribly.

Should you ever listen to pessimists? Of course. They’re the best indication of what’s unsustainable, and thus the catalyst for what must change. They lay down the breadcrumbs on pathways for entrepreneurs to run their innovative minds (think, Elon Musk and Tesla).

For long-term investors, though, an optimistic view that humanity will profitably solve the world’s greatest problems is the right frame of mind

Our Irrational Fear of Terrorism

fear of terrorismTerrorism: noun

  1. the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

Based on the amount of time politicians and the media spend talking about terrorism, you would think that this is the top threat facing America’s existence.  And all of this talk is having an impact:  in a recent Gallup poll, 51 percent of respondents said they’re personally worried about becoming a victim.   In the last year, I  have met people who are afraid to fly or even leave their communities because they believe they will be harmed in some way by a terrorist.

Fear is an emotion and somewhat irrational.  Psychologists tell us that our fears are exaggerated when we don’t know the probability of an outcome.  So in an effort to calm everyone down, let me at least give this a try with some facts and statistics:

Since 2002,  approximately 200 people have been killed by terrorists on US soil – an average of 14 per year.    That’s 14 people out of 320 million – or 0.0000044% of the population per year.

Let’s compare that to the likelihood of dying in the USA from other causes:

  • 30 people per year die from lightning strikes – so you are 2x more likely to be killed by lightning than to be killed by a terrorist.
  • 150 people per year are killed by deer (usually from a deer hitting your car) – so you are 11x more likely to be killed by a deer than to be killed by a terrorist
  • 400 people per year die of drowning in their bathtub – so you are 28x more likely to die in your own tub than to be killed by a terrorist
  • 1,000 people per year die in train accidents – so you are 71x more likely to be killed by a train than to be killed by a terrorist
  • 10,000 people per year die by being shot to death – so you are 714x more likely to be shot to death by someone in your neighborhood than to be killed by a terrorist
  • 30,000 people per year die in car accidents – so you are 2,143x more likely to die while driving than to be killed by a terrorist
  • 35,000 people per year commit suicide – so you are 2,500x more likely to kill yourself than you are to be killed by a terrorist
  • 80,000 people per year die from drinking too much alcohol – so you are 5,714x more likely to drink yourself to death than you are to be killed by a terrorist
  • 90,000 people per year die of Alzheimer’s, 145,000 people per year die of respiratory disease,  and 600,000 people per year die of heart disease – so you are 6,428x; 10,357x and 42,857x more likely to die from those causes than from terrorist attacks.

AND, in case you are worried about being killed by a terrorist while you are not in the USA, it turns out that the leading cause of deaths for Americans traveling abroad is not terrorism, or murder … or even crime of any type.  It’s car crashes.  The U.S. Department of State reports that  47 U.S. citizens were killed worldwide as a result of terrorism in 2011. That figure includes deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq and all other theaters of war.

Regardless of these facts, we apparently are more concerned about being killed by terrorists than all of those other causes of death put together.   But  apparently we find that taking a bath, riding a train, owning a gun, driving a car or drinking alcohol is a convenience we value more than the 112,400 people who die from these activities.  Last time I checked, there was no nation-wide war on taking a bath because 400 people per year die while doing it.

Look, I’m not saying that terrorism isn’t a threat.  It is. But we are over-reacting to the degree to which the terrorists threaten our lives or existence as a country.  This fear is being perpetuated by the media and by politicians who are exaggerating the impact of every terrorist event in the world for their own self-interest (politicians because they want to replace the current government and media who love the ratings).  The fact is that actual terrorist activity in America, while real,  is relatively minor compared to the other things that threaten our lives and our society.   We don’t panic when there’s a multi-car or train accident, a mass murder by street gangs, or bikers or drug dealers or even when we read that death by Alzheimer’s will become even more deadly that it already is.  So why panic now?  Even if terrorist activity doubles next year, you are still more likely to be killed by lightning.

So let’s put this into perspective:  Terrorist activity is a threat and it is a crime and we should take it seriously.  We must continue to fight this crime with the same approach we used when  new medical diseases – like Polio, Malaria, AIDs, or Ebola – threatened our society.  In each of these instances, a calm and rational approach was successful in overcoming the threat. It took some time but ultimately we won the battle.   We did not win by creating irrational fear in the hearts and minds of our citizens.  The same is true with terrorism.  Let’s keep it in perspective.

fear-of-terrorism

Why does America love war?

In America, we love our troops and during Memorial Day Ceremonies we remember and honor them. But while we love our troops, the truth is that we apparently love war even more.

From the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs, here’s a list of the most significant wars and the number of US military casualties (dead & wounded) in each.

American Revolutionary War          (1775-1783)                                    10,623

War of 1812                                       (1812-1815)                                     6,765

Mexican American War                     (1846-1848)                                    17,435

Civil War                                            (1861-1865)                                  880,213

Various Indian Wars                        (1820-1890)                                        2,000

Spanish American War                            (1898)                                         4,108

Philippine-American War                 (1898-1913)                                        7,126

World War I                                      (1917-1918)                                     320,518

World War II                                     (1941-1945)                                  1,076,245

Korean War                                      (1950-1953)                                      157,530

Vietnam War                                    (1955-1973)                                      243,523

Gulf War I                                          (1990-1991)                                        2,415

Iraq War                                            (2003-2011)                                       36,211

Afghanistan                                      (2001-present)                                   21,000

Note:  This is not a complete list.  It’s only the significant wars – those with more than 1,000 dead and wounded.   There are at least another 10 “minor” wars and combat operations in our history.

Since its inception, the USA has been engaged in war for 154 years (65% of the years the country has been in existence). Let’s face it – we love war. WHY???

For the first 100 years, the young nation was protecting itself but since 1900, the wars have all been fought on foreign soil. Was America protecting itself and the interests of our allies? Certainly, but since 1945 there was also another significant factor at work.

The Great Depression of the 1930’s was ended by the dramatic increase in military spending needed to fight World War II. The greatest beneficiaries of this spending were the country’s largest corporations. Between 1942 and 1945, writes the historian Stuart D. Brandes, the net profits of America’s 2,000 biggest firms were more than 40 per cent higher than during the period 1936-1939. Less than 60 firms obtained 75 per cent of all lucrative military and other state orders. IBM, for example, increased its annual sales between 1940 and 1945 from 46 to 140 million dollar thanks to war-related orders, and its profits skyrocketed. This was a valuable lesson for business – profits can be earned more efficiently during times of war.

During his farewell address, President Eisenhower, the five-star general credited with winning WW II, warned the nation of the powerful and growing “military-industrial complex”. First as a soldier and then as President, he of all people, knew exactly what was going on. War is good for (American) business and the lobby of the military-industrial complex (the Pentagon and the corporations who supply the Pentagon) has been very effective in funding and convincing our politicians that we need to increase our own military spending and sell our weapons to just about anyone. It should come as no surprise that retiring Generals and Admirals regularly obtain high paying consulting (lobbying) jobs with the very companies who produce military equipment.

USA at war

In fiscal year 2015, American military spending is projected to account for 54 percent of all federal discretionary spending, a total of $598.5 billion. That’s roughly the same amount as the next 10 largest military budgets around the world – combined. Amazingly, the conservative movement in the country believes that it is wasteful to spend taxpayer dollars on initiatives that would help domestic citizens (projects to expand education, health-care, roads, bridges and high-speed trains) but that it is our patriotic duty to increase our spending of taxpayer money on the military and foreign wars.

Americans like to think of themselves as a peace-loving nation, but our behavior does not support that proposition.

Is the money being spent on US elections worth the result?

buyingsomevotesAccording to the non-partisan Campaign Finance Institute, in 1986, the average cost of winning a seat in the US House of Representatives was $360,000. In the 2012 elections, the average cost was $1.6m – an increase of 344%.   The average cost to win a seat in the Senate cost $6.4m in 1986 but that rose to $10.4m in 2012 – an increase of 62%.

As there are 435 seats in the House, the cost to elect the entire 2012 House of Representatives was $696m. And as there are 100 Senators, the cost to elect the 2012 Senate was $1.04 billion.  This is only the money spent by the people winning. If you assume that the losers spent similar amounts of money, then the money spent on the 2012 House and Senate elections was approximately double those figures or $3.4 billion.

BUT… those figures do not include the funds being spent by outside groups such as Political Action Committees (PACs). In 1986 outside groups spent less than $10m on ALL House and Senate races but with the 2010 Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court which removed limits on political spending, outside groups spent $457m influencing the 2012 election.

Therefore the total money spent on the 2012 House and Senate elections was close to $4 billion.

In the Presidential race Barak Obama spent just over $1 billion to get elected. Mitt Romney spent approximately the same amount but lost. Their PACs each spent approximately $1 billion mostly attacking the other candidate. Therefore the money spent on electing a US president was approximately $4 billion.

So, in total, the cost to elect the President, the Senate and the House in the 2012 election was approximately $8 billion. (It is expected to be higher in 2016)

The government of the United Kingdom (which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) is made up (primarily) of the House of Commons – in which there are 650 elected members and the Prime Minister is among these members. The total spend of all candidates in all parties in the 2010 UK election was just under $100m – and more than 50% of this was funded by the public. There are strict limits on the length of a campaign and the amount of money a candidate is permitted to spend. The theory is that candidates should be elected based on their qualifications and policy proposals and should not be beholden to major political donors. As a result, the average candidate spends less $50,000. – and most of this is secured from the public funding to which each eligible candidate is entitled. In other words, in the UK (at least for now), BIG money cannot and does not win elections.

In the USA, because there is no “public funding”, each candidate must raise the money they need to mount a competitive campaign. It is generally believed that the candidate with the most money has a better chance of winning. As a result, candidates spend much of their time fundraising. They do this before they are elected and also while in office because their re-election campaign typically starts the week after they are sworn into office.

Bottom line, here’s the difference:

US election campaigns last 2-3 years, have no spending limits and cost approximately $8 billion dollars every four years.  UK election campaigns last 5-6 weeks, have strict spending limits and cost less than $100m every five years.

In the US, we spend 80 times more to elect a government than they do in the UK. Are we getting an 80-times better result? I don’t think so.

Why do so many Americans hate Obama?

Obama HatersWhen I travel abroad or meet friends from other countries, they often ask:  “Why do you dislike your president so much?”  Here’s what I tell them:

  • It’s not because the country has had 64 consecutive months of job growth and has created 12 million jobs since 2009 when Obama first took office.
  • It’s not because the unemployment rate is now 5.4% (compared to 8.3% in January 2009).
  • It’s not because the rescue of the auto, insurance and banking industries actually worked – and most of the government money used to fund those rescues was returned (with interest).
  • It’s not because the annual Federal Deficit is now 2.7% of GDP (compared to 10% when Obama took office) and is now well below the 40-year average.
  • It’s not because Obama has the worst record of increasing the National Debt. Every President has increased the debt.  Under Obama it has increased by 70%.  Reagan increased the National Debt by 130%.  FDR increased the debt 1000% and Woodrow Wilson increased the debt by 700%.  Yes, the last two were war presidents – but Obama inherited two wars which turned out to be the longest wars in US history.
  • It’s not because interest rates are about as low as any of us can remember.
  • It’s not because US domestic oil production has increased by 66% since 2009 – reversing a steady decline from 1981 to 2008.
  • It’s not because America is now the #1 producer of oil and natural gas and is practically energy independent.
  • It’s not because the annual increase in health care costs is now slower than it has been for decades.
  • It’s not because the stock market is at an all-time high (compared to the horrible position it was in early in 2009)
  • It’s not because the US dollar has strengthened against every other major currency in the world.
  • It’s not because I (like many Americans) now have health-care coverage when in 2012 and 2013 every insurance company refused me coverage (regardless of the premium I was prepared to pay) because of a pre-existing condition.
  • It’s not because there is no Ebola pandemic in America (and there never was one).
  • It’s not because we now rarely see young American soldiers dying in Iraq or Afghanistan (something that used to be a daily occurrence).
  • It’s not because Obama killed bin Laden and helped get rid of Qaddafi of Libya and Morsi of Egypt
  • It’s not because Obama has killed more than 4,000 terrorists with drones with no cost to the lives of allied soldiers
  • It’s not because there were fewer US civilian deaths by organized terrorists under Obama than under any other recent president – Reagan (675), Clinton (444), GW Bush (3073), Obama (7 – including Benghazi and Boston Marathon).
  • It’s not because Obama has pardoned fewer convicted felons than Regan, H Bush, Clinton and GW Bush combined.
  • It’s not because Obama has issued 200 fewer Executive Orders than Regan, 170 fewer than Clinton and 97 fewer than GW Busch.
  • It’s not because Obama has exercised his veto only 4 times to override Congressional bills – unlike G W Bush (12), Clinton (37), G H Bush (44), Regan (78). In fact you have to go back 125 years to James Garfield to have fewer presidential vetoes.
  • It’s not because in the first 6 years of his presidency, Obama has taken fewer vacation days (161) than Bill Clinton (174), Ronald Reagan (390) or George W Bush (405).
  • It’s not because after 60 years of living with a failed policy regarding Cuba, Obama is now trying something different.
  • It’s not because Americans have not  lost their “freedom”  as many predicted.

No, people don’t hate him for any of the reasons above. They hate him because they either don’t know these facts or don’t believe any of these facts to be true.  They prefer to believe that these are untrue political statements created to defend an economy and an administration that is a complete and utter failure.

Alternatively they hate him because they believe that all of these “improvements” have nothing to do with him.  That it’s the US economy which has fixed itself in spite of Obama’s “mismanagement”.

But, if gas prices were $5 or interest rates were 12% or the Dow Jones was at 12,000 (instead of 18,000) or the US dollar was weak or Americans were dying in foreign wars or Obama was pardoning felons – then he would surely get the blame.

In early 2009 many predicted that Obama would cripple the economy, drive small businesses into bankruptcy, create a European socialist state in America, take everyone’s guns, push gas prices to $5 and suspend the constitution and appoint himself dictator for life.  None of that happened.

But wait – there’s still hope.  Maybe he’s waiting until his last month in office to destroy the country.

So, we apparently hate him not because of what actually happened during his Presidency, but in anticipation of what he might do.

 

Some people don’t know how to receive a gift

A gift is a thing given willingly to someone without expectation of payment or reciprocity.  It is commonly given during special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, holidays etc.

Why is it done?

Primarily it’s because the giver has some affection for the recipient and wants to show those feelings with a memento.

Another reason is that the act of giving makes the giver feel good.  As the old saying goes “It’s better to give than to receive” and everyone who has given gifts knows the joy of selecting a special gift, wrapping it, finding the perfect card and then handing the gift to the recipient.

Most of us have mastered this – the art of giving, but many people struggle with the humility required to receive a gift graciously.  In doing so they (inadvertently, but most assuredly) rob the giver of their joy in the giving.

badgift_1

The fact is that our ability to receive is equally as important as our ability to give. Giving is not a one-way street.  Both the giver and the receiver can experience the benefits associated with giving if the person receiving the gift practices some simple gift-receiving etiquette.  Smile when the gift is handed to you and open it in the presence of the giver and immediately acknowledge the gift giver with a show of appreciation and kind words. Whether you are thrilled with the gift or not, express your appreciation by complimenting their thoughtfulness and generosity. Remember the old saying, “it’s the thought that counts.”

It just takes a few seconds to receive gifts graciously but it makes a world of difference to the person who has spent considerably more time and effort finding and giving you that gift.

Obamacare Survey shows public support

In a March 2014 survey the Kaiser Foundation found that almost half of those surveyed (49%) said they wanted Congress to “keep the law in place and work to improve it” and another 10% said Congress should simply leave the law as is.

By contrast, 18% wanted the law repealed outright while 11% wanted it replaced with a Republican alternative.

The survey also found that major provisions of the law are quite popular including subsidies to help people buy insurance, expansion of Medicaid, the guarantee that people can’t be denied coverage because of pre-existing medical problems and the rule eliminating out-of-pocket costs for preventive care. But 40% to 50% of Americans do not know that the law includes each of those provisions.

About a third of the uninsured were not aware that the law includes subsidies that could help them buy insurance.

Source:  LA Times artilce March 2014

Which US politician is the least popular?

As of March 2014 President Obama has a disapproval rating of approximately 52% (varies 1-2% by poll). Contrary to popular opinion, he does not have the highest ever disapproval rating. Here’s the list of the five highest disapproval ratings for US presidents since 1945:

GW Bush                  71%     October 2008
Harry S Truman        67%    January 1952
Richard Nixon           66%     August 1974
GH Bush                   60%     July 1992
Jimmy Carter            59%     June 1979

Obama doesn’t even make the list!

In contrast, the approval rating of the US Congress has not been above 20% since 2010 and in November 2013 the approval rating of the US Congress fell to 9%. This makes the current Congress the least popular since polling of Congress began in 1974.

So, who deserves our disapproval more?