Anti-President Fixation Recalls the 60’s

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Our President, Donald Trump, has been in office less than 6 months, yet the attacks on him and his presidency increase!!

Granted, many opposed him and still do. However, 60 million people voted for him and his electoral college victory was decisive.

The first assault on the election outcome was the “recount” in selected states by the Green Party candidate. The effort failed with Trump receiving more votes in the recount.

The next campaign was against the electoral college delegates. They received all kinds of threats demanding they vote their conscience and not for Trump. The results…Hillary lost five votes to Trump’s two.

We have had months of investigations into a so-called Russian collusion. Yet, after hours of hearings and false statements by the press, even some Democrats are acknowledging that no collusion has been found.

Yet, the attacks on Trump continue. Now we have a special council, who already wants to expand their scope of this investigation; essentially a fishing expedition, hoping to find a reason to exist.

If one looks at the history of “special councils” they go on for years with very speculative outcomes. They waste time and money for all concerned.

All of these attacks are designed to keep the President on the defensive, thwarting his ability to carry out his Make America Great program.

The Washington Post and the New York Times continue to feed the attacks with non-confirmed stories. Many of them have been proven to be untrue. Who are the “leakers” that continue to attack the President?? The former head of the FBI leaked his notes from a meeting with the President. Yet we are still waiting to see them and their contents.

The last time America was this divided was in the 60’s, over the Vietnam War. When the Democrats expanded the war, under President Johnson, riots occurred coupled with bombings with fatal results.

Fortunately, the anti-Trump movement hasn’t gone that far, however the attacks against Trump are becoming more bitter. The recent shooting at the Republican baseball practice could have been a major tragedy!

Have we learned nothing from those angry days of the 60’s?? I suggest we all take a deep breath and calm down this extreme behavior. We have real problems facing America:

  • Terrorists want to kill us;
  • Our open borders permit heroin to come into our country. 52,000 Americans died last year with 62,000 more predicted deaths in this current year.
  • There’s an unstable “leader” in North Korea with atomic bombs aimed our way.
  • Healthcare needs to be reformed.
  • Our tax policy needs to be addressed.

The American people want these issues solved. Congress must quit bickering and get to work on behalf of all Americans.

Summary

Mr. Trump is our President. It is time to quick blocking his presidency. To the Republican Leadership, you have a majority in the House, the Senate and you have the White House. Keep Congress in session until you solve healthcare and tax reform.

Let’s work together to Make America Great!!!

Student Loan Crisis – Part 3

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This month’s column is the third in a series on the Student Loan Crisis written by Jim McGraw’s son, Mark.

America is continuing at a dangerous pace; however, there are some signs of hope.

According to Student Loan Hero website:

  • 44 million borrowers owe $1.4 trillion in student loans; that’s $620 billion more than total U.S. credit card debt!
  • The average student loan payment for 20-30 year olds is $351 per month.
  • The delinquency rate (90-days past due or more) is 11.2%.

The New York Times reports:

  • The average borrower leaves school owing $34,000.
  • Five percent of borrowers owe more than $100,000, but they account for one-third of all student loan debt.

While the crisis is still with us, there are signs of improvement:

According to an article in CNN Money, “Indiana University officials say borrowing by undergraduates at the school has dropped 18% since 2012. That’s when the university began sending students annual letters that estimate their total loan debt and future monthly payments, as part of a push to boost their financial literacy. Inspired by the results at IU, Indiana last year began requiring all colleges that accept state aid to send letters. Nebraska followed with a similar law this spring.”

There has also been a positive move on interest rates. According to a recent WSJ article:

  • Interest rates on newly issued federal student loans are down. For example, Stafford loans have a fixed rate of 3.76% compared to 4.66% two years before and 6.8% four years prior.
  • Student loan refinancing has taken off and borrowers are seeing reductions of 2.2% on average than the rate on the initial loan.

Where does the Trump administration stand? Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently reversed an Obama administration plan to consolidate the nine student loan service providers to a single administrator working through an Education Department portal.
The Student Debt Relief website took a shot at what they think might become Trump policy based on comments he has made in the past. Some of the interesting ones:

  • Trump will support a single Income Based Repayment (IBR) program where borrowers will pay 12.5% of their income to repay loans for 15 years after which the loan would be forgiven.
  • Trump has stated the government should not make money on student loans which could lead to lower interest rates.
  • Pressure universities to lower tuition, lower administration costs and spend more of their endowments on students.

The solution to the crisis will ultimately involve reducing the amount of student loans that are issued and a more reasonable repayment scheme. Actions like the Indiana University letters help, but universities need to spend more of their endowments to ensure students leave with a reasonable amount of debt. There should be a cap on the total amount a student can borrow which is especially needed for students attending for-profit colleges and trade schools

Repayment should be done over a longer period of say 30 years, like a home. Coupled with a reasonable Income Based Repayment program, students would be able to repay most or all of their loans with little need for government forgiveness or debt.

The Wall Can Do More

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Many are questioning the wisdom, cost and effectiveness of the border wall being advocated by President Trump and others. There is more than just one issue to consider.

Illegal Drugs

America is facing more than an illegal immigration program. It is estimated 52,000 Americans died from illegal drugs in 2015. Tens of thousands more have seen their lives ruined. This is an epidemic of historic proportions.

This can be stopped—or at least slowed—by controlling the source of illegal drugs; Mexico!

The wall can help. It is estimated that 95% of the illegal heroin coming into the U.S. is via the Mexican border.

History

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 was introduced in Congress on September 13, 2006. Within two weeks it sailed through the U.S. House and Senate. It called for construction of 700 miles of physical fence/barriers along the border.

By January 2010 the project was completed from San Diego, CA to Yuma, AZ. From there it continued into Texas. The fence is 21 feet tall and is buried six feet deep in the ground, cemented in a three-foot wide trench with 5,000 psi concrete. The border patrol prefers a high, see-through fence rather than a solid wall.

The fence has been very effective in controlling illegal immigration, especially in the San Diego area. Illegal drug smuggling has also been slowed.

Other Experiences

Israel built a wall to protect themselves from terrorists. Construction of the barrier began in September 2000. Before the first segment was completed in 2003, 73 suicide bombings were carried out from the West Bank. By the wall’s completion in 2006, only 12 such attacks occurred.

Who Pays for It?

President Trump has said Mexico will pay for the wall. Whether that happens or not, Texas Senator Ted Cruz has another interesting idea. He has introduced a bill calling for the use of $14 billion seized from cartel drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, and other drug dealers, to be used to help pay for the fence.

Action Needed

The illegal drug problem is immense. Their low cost and easy availability trap people into using drugs. The user has no assurance about the quality or quantity of the active drug in each unit he or she purchases. With the low cost of the drug, the supplier is more careless when diluting the active ingredient.

This leads to more deaths!

Next Steps

No one wants a member of their family falling victim to low-cost drugs. This should be a non-political issue. We should take all steps necessary to reduce the supply of illegal drugs to our country…including a border fence.

This action, coupled with more border agents to enforce our laws, will slow illegal immigration and help reduce illegal drugs and the death they bring into America.

Summary

We have a drug epidemic in our country. People are dying by the thousands. Millions more are affected by the scourge of illegal drugs. The supply of cheap illegal drugs must be stopped.

A border fence, plus more border guards, will be a potent force to cut off supply while also helping stem the tide of illegal immigrants.

Write your Representative and Senators demanding strong borders. It will lead to fewer deaths from illegal drugs and a safer America for all of us.

Where’s the Leadership in Congress?

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I define “leadership” as the ability to achieve the right objectives, on time, through people.

When we look at the lack of results in Congress, we are seeing a lack of leadership.

The Republicans had seven years to develop a health care bill to replace Obamacare. What happened? They came up with a “replacement” that only 17% of Americans supported.

Granted, healthcare is a complicated issue. There are no quick fixes. After all, healthcare represents 1/6th of our entire economy, and unless it is controlled, it will get larger.

Democrats and other liberals view health care as a “right.” In their view, they want the best care, on demand, with little or no cost. Experience tells us you can’t have all three. It all comes down to “cost.” Little or no cost means someone else is going to pay for it.

A major problem for any reform is that many members of the public have unrealistic expectations on what they should pay for their health care.

Solutions

Any attempt to working out a solution must be bi-partisan. The work must be done behind closed doors, with a commitment to solve problems not score political points. The client is the Citizens of the United States, not the political parties.

Listen

The first step toward a solution is listening to the people. Members of Congress and the White House must understand how a $5,000 deductible policy impacts the user. If your spouse needs an operation, the hospital demands upfront payment prior to surgery. How many people have $5,000 for such a down payment?

Grand Strategy

Forget a “Three-Part Plan” that uses reconciliation as a vehicle for reform. Few Americans trust Congress to pass Phases 2 or 3.

Instead, develop one “grand bill” that includes all phases of healthcare that need to be changed. This will require 60 votes in the Senate. If the bill is a good one, enough Democrats will support it and help pass it.

There is already general agreement among Americans that they want a choice on how they want to be covered. They want to:

  • Purchase insurance across state lines which leads to lower costs;
  • Permit children to stay on their parents’ plan to age 26;
  • Protect themselves against a major illness;
  • Have health savings accounts to cover routine doctor visits and minor expenses; and
  • Have REASONABLE MONTHLY PREMIUMS!

Congressional leaders must sit down together, identify points they can agree on and build from there. The American people demand results!!! We are sick of this endless bickering. We deserve leadership!!!

Summary

Healthcare is a life or death issue. People are rightly concerned that a major health issue could bring financial disaster. Congress must come together and provide the leadership to solve this major issue.

Write your Congressman/woman today and demand results!

A Declaration of War!

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Donald Trump has been President for a little over a month and the Democrats have declared war on his Presidency. Some have gone so far as to suggest impeachment!!

It is hard to understand the animus to this elected President. No one likes to lose an election, however that is no reason to disrupt the leadership of our country for the sake of revenge.

Executive Orders

We have had a series of Executive Orders, many to undo Obama’s executive orders. Some of these have provided clarity of direction while others have prompted confusion.

Obamacare

The President and the Republican Congress want to change Obamacare. The key question is how?

What will the replacement look like? Will it work? Will it be an improvement?

Whatever the new healthcare program looks like, Republicans will “own” the results. The Democrats are already fighting any changes, even though Obamacare is collapsing due to its flawed concept.

A new healthcare program must be developed and agreed upon by both parties. They should gather everyone’s input. Finalize the bill. Then implement it on a bipartisan basis. Healthcare is too important. Don’t make the new plan a political football. Agree, then implement!

Tax Reform

Tax reform is a must. The corporate tax is too high at 35%. Drop it to 15% and industry will be coming back to the USA.

Forget the so-called “Border Tax.” This will only confuse the marketplace. Other countries will respond negatively to it, if imposed.

Again, get agreement of both parties if you can. Make simple but productive changes to the tax code and make it happen!!

Overseas Profits

Overseas profits are taxed in the country where they Are earned. If a company moves those profits to the USA they are taxed again by the government. That is why companies keep their profits overseas.

Our government should grant an opportunity to move those profits to the USA for a maximum surtax of 10%. If that were to happen, it’s estimated there is $2 trillion overseas profits that could be used in the USA. Companies could use those trillions to support investments here at home. This would mean more jobs and plant expansions. Plus, the federal government would collect $200 billion in tax revenue. A win-win for everyone!!

Summary

The Democratic party and much of the news media, have declared war on President Trump and the Republican Party. President Trump has made good choices for his Cabinet and his Supreme Court nominee. They are worthy of everyone’s support.
Let’s think of America first! We must work together and do the right things for a brighter future for everyone!

Business as “Unusual”

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On January 20th, Washington and how it does business changed.

Gone are the days when “behind schedule and over budget” was acceptable. Under Donald Trump’s leadership, the new performance parameters will be:

“On Time and Under Budget.”

President Trump is a businessman with a business acumen. He will be accepting only positive results—no excuses. He has a very high energy level. 24/7 will have a whole new meaning with him in Washington.

Congress will be pressed to get things done on time. Departments will be required to meet their objectives and responsibilities. In short, the President will expect

RESULTS, RESULTS, RESULTS!!!

This business attitude will be opposed by many. The resistance to change and accountability will manifest itself in many ways. We can expect passive resistance to open rebellion.

A recent case history of what we can expect is in Wisconsin. The opposition tried to destroy Scott Walker and his programs. The protests got very ugly…threatening his family and his supporters.

Trump vs. Politicians

The problem with Washington is too many talkers and not enough doers. No one really wants to reduce spending and balance the budget. Why? That would be hard work and favorite programs would have to be cut or eliminated. Politicians love to spend money. Why not? Taxpayers outside Washington have to pay for it.

It is imperative that Washington control spending. Make every dollar count. Republicans have the White House and both branches of Congress. The opportunity to lead is now.

The Cabinet

The cabinet, as selected by President Trump, is a strong one. It is imperative they have clarity of direction on what they must achieve. Focus on the five or six key issues and make things happen. Be strong in your resolve. In time, you will hear the opposition and even some Trump supporters saying, “Let’s be reasonable,” or “Let’s do that later.” The objective of this is to “slow walk” the desired changes until the support for change is lost.

I remind Washington, Trump was elected because people are fed up with the lack of results. We have real problems that must be addressed NOW! We want and expect real solutions!

Summary

The election is over. It’s time to get to work and make things happen.

Our problems are many. They have been discussed ad nauseam. It’s time for action now!

President Trump must be firm. His motto of “On Time and Under Budget” must be the new rallying cry in Washington.

Let’s make America Greater Again!!!

Sore Losers

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The election may be over for President-elect Trump and the conservatives, but it is not over for the Democrats and the liberal press.

The first assault on the election outcome was the “re-count” in selected states by the Green Party candidate; a person who had no standing in any recount by virtue of her lousy results.

The effort failed with Trump receiving more votes in the recount.

The next campaign was against the electoral college delegates. They received all kinds of threats demanding they vote their conscience and not for Trump. The results…Hillary lost five votes to Trump’s two.

The sad note in all of this is that even a few Republicans supported these crazy ideas.

The Future

What can we expect in the coming days? A continuous barrage against Trump and/or his cabinet choices. Plus, legislation—when proposed—will be attacked as well. In short, a continued campaign against Trump and his efforts to “Make America Great Again.”

The Democrats

The Democratic Party is in shambles and denial. Their philosophies are old and worn out. They have failed. If the Democratic leadership continues to oppose Trump and the peoples’ agenda, they do so at their own risk. The voters want positive results…not bickering.

A record number of Democratic Senators are up for re-election in two years. They will pay a heavy price for any extreme actions on their part.

Our Future

Trump has outlined his agenda for America. An agenda, which when implemented, will have a very positive effect for all Americans. The stock market has enjoyed a strong “Trump Bump” with the Dow at or near 20,000. This benefits many workers with IRA’s plus individual investors. A “positive mood” is reflected in America.

Leadership

The campaign talk is now history. America is looking for results:

  • Knockdown those regulatory barriers
  • Implement your tax plan
  • Reduce the size of government by exposing waste and redundancy
  • Secure the borders
  • Deal with Obamacare

In short, take off your ball cap and replace it with a “Make America Great Again” HELMET. You will need it for the coming battles.

Summary

The challenges for America are many. Trump will need all his leadership skills to overcome the opposition.

America is at a cross roads. By doing the right things NOW:

  • Employment will rise
  • The economy will grow at 4% plus
  • America will stand as a role model for success

Together, let’s Make America Great Again!

The Elections are Over!!!

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The American people have been bombarded with election rhetoric for the last 18 months and

We’re Tired of It!!!

The people have voted. Trump won! Although many do not want to accept the outcome, the continued criticism of the winner is not productive for America.

To illustrate peoples’ bitter feelings, our son—who lives in Northern California—was accosted by a woman who yelled at him, “You look like one of those uneducated white males that voted for Trump!” He wisely said nothing and walked away.

Harmony

A key American value has been our ability to work together to solve our problems. Unfortunately, America remains a divided country. The Democratic leadership, and the press, gives no indication of harmony. Just the opposite.

The American people have indicated they want solutions; not flaming rhetoric. Therefore, I offer our President-elect the following thoughts.

Distractions

The press and others will be constantly baiting you with one complaint or issue after another. If you let them consume your leadership, time and talent, little will be accomplished.

Clarity of Direction

You and your team must agree on the five major issues and the strategy needed to achieve them. Then make sure each team member knows his or her responsibilities in achieving the five major objectives. Agree on your time and events for success and demand performance from all members of your cabinet.

In short, Focus…Focus…Focus!

In summary, invest your leadership skills on the five major issues. Don’t be emotionally distracted by minor issues. Let your staff respond to those.

Be Kind

I suggest–at this time of year–we all take a break from politics and reflect upon the many blessings in our life. Let’s commit ourselves to making this wonderful world an even better place for all of us.

Take the time to say “Thank You.”

Tell your spouse how much you love him or her, and how you appreciate all they do for you.

Let your children know how proud you are of their many accomplishments.

At work, take a few extra moments to say “Good morning. Have a nice day,” and really mean it.

Let your associates, clients, vendors and service providers know that you appreciate what they do.

We’re not talking about insincere flattery here. That isn’t kindness; that’s manipulation.

Make a promise to use every opportunity to express your thanks and appreciation. It will add fullness to your life and enrich others. Remember, everyone you meet is facing some kind of challenge.

There’s an old Irish saying: A KIND WORD NEVER BROKE A TOOTH!

MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

BE KIND!

The People Have Spoken

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vote-americaThe election results are now in. Much to many peoples’ surprise, Donald Trump won!

For those that are still wondering why he won, my answer is simple:

People were FED UP!!!

Many Americans feel Washington is not listening to them.

  • Our leaders have cement ears.
  • We express our concerns but nobody hears us.
  • It’s business as usual in Washington, D.C.
  • We have real issues that must be solved yet there’s no leadership or commitment to solve them.

A few examples:

Obamacare

We were told we could keep our doctor and costs would go down. Wrong!

Our President lied to us. We couldn’t keep our doctor. Premium costs soared. Deductibles are so high we really don’t have insurance for routine health needs.

Immigration

This problem has been with us since Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to the illegals in the U.S., with the promise that the borders would be secure.

What has happened? We have NOT secured the borders. There are now 11 million-plus illegal immigrants in our country. Many are from Mexico; we have no idea where the others are from. Yet, we are opening our borders to potential terrorists that have gone on record that they want to kill us.

Energy

We have enough energy to be energy-independent. Low cost energy that will attract jobs from around the world.

Thanks to private industry, supplies have increased. Costs have come down. In contrast, Washington has done everything in its power to restrict development on public land while also trying to regulate private industry out of business.

A New Beginning

We now must turn our attention to “Making America Great Again.” Here are a few suggestions for our new President-elect:

  • You are now the President-elect of all America. Quit tweeting and running for office. You won! Now you must lead America to greatness.
  • Remember, leaders solve problems!!! Charismatic people just talk about problems. We elected you to lead.

Summary

America is at a leadership cross road. Problems must be dealt with and solved. Choose your team wisely. You can’t do it alone. You must be a macro leader, not a micro-manager.

Americans are anxiously awaiting your leadership. You promised to Make America Great Again.

Let’s do it!!!

Don’t Ignore the Deficit

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piggy-bankThe Presidential candidates are discussing a lot of issues, but one that deserves much more attention is

Our Growing Deficit!

The candidates may not want to talk about it, but it is not going away. A few facts for us to ponder:

  • The government’s fiscal year ends September 30. The deficit for this year is projected to be $550 billion; an increase of $120 billion over last year’s.
  • Tax revenues are projected to be flat for both corporate and individuals in the coming fiscal year.
  • The annual deficit will continue to increase.

The government’s solution to minimize future deficits is an accounting trick. They have reduced the projected interest rate on borrowed money from 3.5% to 2.3%. They say this will save $1.1 trillion over the next decade. I say that’s a pretty speculative projection.

Only the federal government can spend more with less income. Why? They just print more money until the money is worthless!!! People continue to delude themselves about a financial catastrophe. They say “it won’t happen” in the USA. It can, and it will if things don’t change.

Unfortunately, there is no demand from most of the electorate to cut spending. Why? Half the country pays only 3% of the taxes. Why should they care about deficits and taxes?

The top 1% pay a third of the taxes, and yet the liberals claim they don’t pay their fair share. They’re right. The top 10% pay more than their fair share.

If Clinton is elected the “rich” will pay even more.

One way to reduce our deficit is to grow the economy. Currently, our growth rate is just one to two percent. We need to increase it to four percent. We did this under Ronald Reagan’s tax policy.

Here are two action steps that will grow our economy:

Step One: Corporate Taxes

  • Cut the corporate tax rate to 15%.
  • Eliminate all corporate tax breaks.
  • Permit companies to bring their overseas profits (estimated at $2 trillion) back to the USA with a six percent surtax.

Step Two: Energy

  • Develop all of our energy opportunities.
  • Promote fracking and oil exploration on federal lands.
  • Complete the Keystone Pipe Line. It’s a safer and cheaper way to transport energy.
  • Eliminate all subsidies, including wind and solar.

Donald Trump has gone on record supporting these action steps. Why can’t Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party embrace them as well?

Changing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15% will open the door to worldwide industries to come to America. That action, coupled with abundant, cheap energy, is a winning combination that will create more high paying American jobs.

Summary

Addressing the deficit is more than a financial challenge. As former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels said in recent testimony to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee: “A national government that, year after year, borrows enormous sums and spends them not on genuine investment in the future but on current consumption, passing the bill down to others, pretending that the problem is smaller than it really is, lacks not only good judgment but integrity. It is not hyperbole to label such behavior immoral.”

Wouldn’t it be a great world if Congress worked together and found ways to truly fix the deficit? That’s how a mature government should work.

Let’s do it! We can make America stronger!