A Happy Medium on Dealing with Guns and Public Safety

Many people, including a group of Democrats in Congress, are insisting that we include things like No-Fly lists in the decision process before allowing someone to buy a gun.  There is one significant, but not insurmountable, issue with that.  Inclusion on a No-Fly list does not require due process of law.  Owning a personal firearm is a constitutionally granted right.  You cannot take away a constitutional right to life, liberty, or property without due process.  This was initially documented in the Magna Carta and made part of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Nonetheless, we are discovering that if FBI watch lists were referenced during the terrorist’s legal purchase of a Sig Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle and a Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol, he would have been prevented from buying them. (BTW, for those who don’t know about guns, a semi-automatic firearm only can shoot one round per trigger pull whereas an automatic firearm can shoot multiple rounds per trigger pull).  The Republicans are insisting that there are inaccuracies on these watch lists.  There are, but this can be dealt with using existing technology and processes.

The Transportation Security Administration is responsible for the issuance of Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC).  Let’s say that a person needs to get into a federally restricted access area for work.  That person needs a TWIC, which has a picture, a microchip, and counterfeiting countermeasures built in, to enter the restricted access area.  Let’s say that the applicant for a TWIC is on a watch list or has some other potentially disqualifying factor.  The applicant’s application will be denied, but the applicant will also be given instructions on how to proceed with getting that decision overturned (see https://www.tsa.gov/for-industry/twic#quickset-twic_faqs_10).  If the applicant files for redress or requests a waiver, and is still not approved, the applicant can request a formal hearing with an administrative law judge (see https://www.tsa.gov/node/2852).  That is a due process hearing.  Would having to go that far take time and effort?  Yes.  Would a person who was initially prevented from exercising Second Amendment rights possibly be able to have those rights restored? Yes.

I am an NRA Life Member and Certified Instructor.  While I don’t want to run the risk of losing my rights or heading down a slippery slope, I could embrace this approach if the same level of diligence that is applied by the TSA would be applied to present and future firearm owners.

If you like this approach, do something about it.  Write letters to your representatives and senators.  IMHO, we’re focusing too much on firearms and not enough on those who wield them illegally.

Why All of the Anger?

I have a theory as to why all of this violence is showing up at political rallies, both Republican and Democrat, and in general around society.

My theory is that after years of political correctness and repressed feelings, our society is faced with a truly polarizing presidential candidate in Donald Trump and the most polarizing president since Abraham Lincoln, that is, Barack Obama, and all of those repressed feelings are coming out with a vengeance. The thought police have been telling us about how every tiny thing that is remotely offensive needs to be banned, and people in general are fed up with that.

Like any system under artificial pressure, once the smallest leak occurs, the pressure gushes out with great and terrible force and everything explodes. Our country is paying the price for having forced its people to shut their mouths and not speak what’s in their hearts and on their minds. Instead of normal discourse with its occasional bumpy areas, people have just swallowed their emotions and thoughts and they are sick from it. We don’t let our kids win trophies because we don’t want to hurt the feelings of the kids that came in second place. If nobody wins, everyone feels like a loser. Striving has been determined to be bad. Striving for greatness and excellence is is part of the human psyche. Millennials are becoming disillusioned with capitalism because they don’t think it’s fair. In capitalism, success is the driver behind striving for excellence because excellence equals success and success feels good. Success for some also means that some will fail (although for people of character, failure is the driver to work harder and try again to succeed). You can’t have winners without losers. We must come to grips with the fact that the only fairness that we are entitled to is a fair chance, a level playing field.

So whose fault is this? Is it Donald Trump’s or Hillary Clinton’s or Barack Obama’s or the news media’s? No! IT IS OUR FAULT. We have become the frog in the kettle. We jumped in the water when it was comfortable and we tried to keep it comfortable by the de facto barring of free speech and vigorous discourse. We put the ice cubes of political correctness in the water while ignoring the fact that the bunson burner of the human psyche is heating the water just a bit faster than the ice can cool it. We are now at a rapid boil with no end in sight. We as a nation have lost our minds and our abilities to disagree agreeably. We have become so thin skinned that it is a miracle we don’t bleed to death. We are fragile flowers that are offended at everything we don’t agree with.

The First Amendment is a messy thing. It entitles everyone the right to speak freely, without fear of reprisal. It also entitles everyone to peacefully and freely assemble. That does not mean that one group may invade the place of assembly of another and freely speak over the top of those that were already gathered and speaking there. We must respect each other and acknowledge the “right to be wrong.” There are plenty of public squares to go around. If it is one thing we have in great abundance in the United States, it is space.

Until we rediscover the balance between brutal truth-telling and civility, we will be a nation where people continue to either yell at each other or hide in the corner. The end result of that will be chaos and a nation in chaos cannot stand.

The NY Times Dishonest use of Adverbs

As a paper that believes in making the news instead of reporting it, the N.Y. Times has yet again demonstrated a complete lack of journalistic integrity. In an editorial piece following the San Bernardino mass shooting described the rifles used in the shooting as “slightly modified” and “barely modified” (see http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/12/05/opinion/end-the-gun-epidemic-in-america.html?referer=&_r=0). Converting a semi automatic rifle that fires one round per trigger squeeze to a full automatic rifle that can empty an entire magazine with a single trigger pull in seconds is a MAJOR conversion.  That conversion is neither “slightly” nor “barely” modified. By making that change, the rifle immediately changed classifications and came under a highly restrictive body of laws that the majority of Americans do not qualify for. Making that modification converts a sporting rifle into an assault rifle.

The Times also fails to point out that the rifles were purchased illegally, in spite of the fact the opposite was reported. Because the shooter’s friend bought the gun for hin, that is called a “straw purchase” and straw purchases are illegal. It also failed to point out that California’s gun laws are some of the strictest in the nation. In fact, California laws require rifles with removable magazines to use a tool to remove the magazines.

The editorial calls for Americans owning the sort of rifles used in San Bernardino to turn them in for the good of the nation. So is the Times is calling for Americans with illegally purchased, and illegally converted rifles to turn them in? If it was only calling for that, nearly every law abiding, gun owning American would support that. However, what the Times did was lie about the rifles used by using adverbs to describe them that are not even remotely correct. In Michael Bloomberg form, the Times just wants a massive gun grab from people that would never think of using them illegally. What they are asking for will have a negative impact on public safety because it has the potential of taking legal firearms out of the hands of Americans who used such firearms to foil over two million crimes in 2014.

 

A “Conservatarian” View of the SCOTUS Same Sex Marriage Decision

I’m not a constitutional scholar, but I’ve invested a good amount of time in this issue. I don’t need to reiterate what others have said about the intricacies of the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Simply started, the Equal Protection clause states that all Americans are entitled to equal protection under the law, period.  What bears stating is the legal precedent in referencing the Fourteenth. Prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there were “Jim Crow” laws in the southern states that required the states, under law, to segregate based on race. Facilities were supposed to be “separate but equal.” They rarely were equal. President Woodrow Wilson, an overt racist, practiced gross discrimination. The equally overt racist Democrats of the late 1800s through the mid 1960s did everything possible to undermine the anti-segregationist policies of the Republicans. The southern states felt their state sovereignty allowed them to discriminate within the borders of their states. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth was the constitutional basis for the federal government to overrule state sovereignty because the federal government is responsible for ensuring all citizens get equal protection under the law. Given the preponderance of states that have marital equality laws, it was not, in my mind, a far stretch to apply the same principles that shot down Jim Crow. What the Fourteenth does not touch is the right of people that are not agents of the state from discriminating except in areas such as housing and employment. This ties into the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. By law and practice, churches are not agents of the state. Congress cannot force a non-agent to act. I am an ordained minister. I cannot be compelled to perform any service for anyone. I don’t know the individual laws of every state where marital equality is the law, but I can tell you that Maryland’s law is well-crafted and explicitly protects the clergy. Here is the text of Question 6, the public referendum for marital equality in Maryland,

“Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.”

I am a libertarian. I voted for Question 6 even though I will not personally perform a same-sex ceremony. I am not discounting what I believe to be the biblical truth on the topic. I am standing behind the right of two people to enter into a legally binding contract, which in the eyes of the state, is what marriage is.

The reason we have this mess is that our bloated government stuck its nose into marriage, a thing formerly under the scope of religious bodies. It chose to grant legal privileges to married couples. Once it did that and the individual states began to legalize same sex marriage, it was inevitable that it would have to respond.

Before we are too quick to respond to this ruling, think of where America would be if Jim Crow was still in existence.

A not so chance encounter

I had a wonderful discussion with a man from Rwanda that I met in the parking lot at the FDA where I am serving as a senior business systems analyst. While my French is atrocious, I could see that the book he was carrying was a history book dealing with the struggles between blacks and whites in Rwanda from 1990 to 1994. I asked him if he had seen the movie Hotel Rwanda and if it was accurate. He told me that he had and unfortunately, it wasn’t. We started talking about the Hutus and the Tutsis and racism. He asked about the origins of racism. I talked to him about Dutch and British colonialism, the caste system in India and the Untouchables in particular, and also the treatment of the aboriginal people of Australia by the British settlers and even more contemporary Australians. Then he asked me a very poignant question, “what do we do to get rid of racism in this country?” I told him that the best things that we can do are to dispel falsehoods by teaching the truth and to show ourselves as friendly and respectful toward those of different people groups. We have to dispel the falsehood that there is a unified hatred of one group by another by proving that at least one person of that group doesn’t hate them.
We discussed what sort of teachings might change people’s minds. I spoke to him about the common ancestry of humanity as described in the Hebrew Scriptures. I told him stories of Moses and how his own brother and sister were upset with him because he married an Ethiopian woman. I told him of the Jewish people from Ethiopia that stood as a testimony to the fact that we are truly one race of people, a message he echoed to me earlier in our conversation. I told him of the origin of humanity being from North Africa and drawing the conclusion that if all people came from one place, then the essence of all humanity is identical and we simply have different appearances.
I asked him if he was familiar with the Gospel story and how when the edict went out to kill the male children two years and younger that Mary and Joseph fled to North Africa. He knew the story well. Being a Jew in my heritage and my pedagogy, I asked him a question versus presenting my conclusion. I asked him, “would parents of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy hide in a place where everyone had brown skin and black hair?” He smiled and said, “no.” Then he surprised me. He pulled out a book and asked me if I though it was legitimate because he had a friend that only spoke French who needed this book in French. The title was, “Nouveau Testament.” He knew there were versions floating around that had slight changes to promote the doctrines of certain cults. I opened the book to Jean 1:1, recited John 1:1 in English and asked him if that’s what it said. He confirmed that. I asked him to look at the phrase, “and the Word was God” and make sure that there was no indefinite article there, a trick of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to substantiate their Arian (not to be confused with Aryan) doctrine of Christ. He said there was none. We did a similar drill with Jean/John 3:16. He confirmed that what it says was what I recited. He was very happy because now he could give his friend what he was asking for.
We both ended our work days with a wonderful encounter. I have been telecommuting for five years. While I dislike making the drive, I love meeting people face to face.

The Oligarchy Times, a Reminder that the Obamanation has More Issues than the Ones in the News Today

The Oligarchy Times, Volume 2, Issue 3

In this issue of the Oligarchy Times, we have another look at Obamacare because the President really cannot be allowed to run away from the disaster he created just because has created so many others in addition.

Four months ago, in regard to people losing their health insurance as a result of the inappropriately named “Affordable Care Act,” Harry Reid said that “there are plenty of horror stories being told…all of them are untrue” (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSJOLivL-NU).  I was doing some research on a paper for my doctoral program, and look what I came across…an article that was printed in the Contemporary Pediatrics journal just three weeks before Mr. Reid’s claims.  I know, it must be that the Koch brothers and the Benham brothers chipped in and bought Contemporary Pediatrics and Fox News gathered all of the fake survey respondents.  It’s just one more fake scandal.  Oh good, now I can rest safely in the Obamanation.
aca pediatrics

 

The Oligarchy Times: What is a Patriot

The Oligarchy Times, volume 2, issue 1

In today’s issue of The Oligarchy Times, I ponder the question, “what is a patriot?”

I finally got around to playing the Olympic opening ceremony. I saw many Russian people with sincere looks of pride on their faces. I thought about all of the awful things that have occurred and are occurring in that nation. Before I could finish asking myself the question, “how can you be proud of a nation that has such a dark history and is still perpetrating darkness?” I asked it of myself in light of my own nation’s past and present perpetration of darkness both here and abroad. It was then that I realized the simple definition of “patriot.” A patriot is a person that loves the nation regardless of the nation’s actions.

I do love my nation, the United States, in spite of the fact that we are currently in the business of stripping liberty from our people and those of other nations. I will never cease to love my nation. I will always act to try and direct it toward doing the right things, even if that action is costly.

Being a true patriot is like being a true fan of a sports team. A true fan loves his or her team, regardless of the team’s record. The love of a fan or of a patriot is not based on performance. It is based on an unwavering commitment to love. To quote Christian musician Don Francisco, “love is not a feeling, it’s an act of the will.”

President Obama’s Promise Zones

Promise Zones? Really? The president promised Detroit that he would not let it fail. He promised us that if we liked our doctors and our insurance, we could keep them. He promised us that he would close Gitmo. He promised us that he would lead the most transparent administration in history. I look at his promises like a bad case of gas.  They stink from the moment they are made and eventually they are followed by crap that needs to be cleaned up!

The Oligarchy Times-The Product Isn’t Good

The Oligarchy Times, volume 1, issue 3

In today’s issue of the Oligarchy Times, we examine the most consistent man in the United States, if not the world. President Barack “Enron” Obama made the following statement on October 23, 2013:

“The product is good. The health insurance that’s being provided is good. It’s high quality and it’s affordable. People can save money, significant money, by getting insurance that’s being provided through these marketplaces. And we know that the demand is there. People are rushing to see what’s available. And those who have already had a chance to enroll are thrilled with what’s available.” (Source: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/susan-jones/obama-shills-obamacare-product-good-call-now#sthash.s6xg4RDg.dpuf)

In almost flawless constancy, President Enron lied, flat out lied.  How can a person state that a largely unavailable product “is good?”  Even if the site is 100% running and available, by all accounts, it is not secure.  In order to go window shopping, you have to give sensitive information.  It is like going window shopping at the mall while naked.

The following is directly from the Chicago Tribune, December 15, 2013

CHICAGO — Rachel Arai is a 38-year-old stay-at-home mom with a second child on the way in February. Her family has never been without health insurance, coverage her family views not as a luxury but as a necessity.

She and her self-employed husband, Devin Stites, want to buy a policy for 2014, but like millions across the country, they’ve found themselves in limbo: With just days left to select coverage that will kick in Jan. 1, they lack the information needed to make a decision on what policy to buy.

The family has health insurance through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. But they’ve been eager to see if they can get a better deal, and possibly a tax credit, through the new Illinois health insurance exchange set up as part of the Affordable Care Act.

The problem: Blue Cross hasn’t told them how much they’ll have to pay for their existing plan in 2014. And HealthCare.gov, the federal website where consumers in 36 states, including Illinois, are supposed to be able to compute their subsidy amount and buy health insurance, has been largely inoperable for many consumers, including Arai.

As the Dec. 23 deadline to obtain insurance coverage approaches, frustration is mounting across the country for people who fear they’ll have little time to assess their health care options or, at worst, not be able to sign up for a plan in time because of the bumpy rollout of the health care law.

There’s not much Arai and her husband can do, aside from wait and hope they get the information they need in time to ensure no gap in coverage.

“I’m really frustrated at this point, (and) I don’t have hours and hours to try and get pricing on my health insurance,” she said. “I’m nervous about the situation, but my hands are kind of tied. I don’t know what to do, and my husband is beside himself.”

For people with chronic conditions or those who require ongoing medical treatment like Arai, the loss of coverage — even for a month — could create a big financial hardship.

How the family and others like them ended up in this pickle is largely a reflection of the technological meltdown that rendered the website all but unusable in its first two months, a reordering of the insurance market spurred by the health care law and the policy reversal that followed.

New regulations under the health law that required all new policies to cover a list of 10 essential health benefits, including prescription drugs, hospitalization and maternity care, with no extra charge. That spurred insurers across the country to cancel plans for millions of Americans with private coverage, including about 185,000 in Illinois.

Massive public outcry erupted, prompting the White House to change course. President Barack Obama announced in November that states could allow insurers to offer existing policies for one more year, even if they didn’t meet the new standards.

Blue Cross, the state’s largest insurer that issued the majority of plans on the individual market last year, decided it would go along. But it has yet to communicate 2014 rate information to Arai and other customers.

“Every week I call they say next week. The email I got earlier this week said next week. Everything is next week, but next week never seems to come,” Arai said.

Lauren Perlstein, a spokeswoman for the parent company of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, said the company will notify its members soon of adjusted 2014 rates that reflect new taxes and fees associated with the health law.

In a letter sent two weeks ago to customers, the insurer said it would tack on an additional 4.1 percent to premiums reflect those new fees, plus another unspecified rate adjustment to account for 2014.

The insurer advises them to compare their current plan to new 2014 plans on its website to ensure they’re getting the coverage that is right for them.

Other insurers that sold individual policies in Illinois this year also will offer those plans next year, including Health Alliance, which said it will increase rates on extended plans by 21.8 percent effective Feb. 1.

Humana is offering renewals for small group plans, but still hasn’t made a decision about individual policies, a spokesman said. Aetna said Thursday it would not offer old plans next year.

State and federal officials have urged consumers to keep trying to access the website, which is working far better in December than in its first two months of operation. They also encourage those who need help sorting out their options to contact one of several dozen community groups across the state that have a combined 1,500 trained helpers who can help people navigate the process of signing up for coverage.

That’s little consolation for Fran Schlesinger, 45, of Naperville, who has spent more than 20 hours trying to sign up for coverage on the federal website, including at least seven hourlong calls with federal call center helpers, to no avail.

After her husband lost his corporate job in 2011, her family of six has purchased coverage on the individual market. Their current policy, through UnitedHealthcare, will cost more than $1,000 a month starting in January, up from about $900.

She estimates the family will be eligible for a hefty federal subsidy to buy an insurance policy on the exchange, but the one time out of dozens that she was able to get through the application process, she inadvertently entered an erroneous income figure. The system kicked her application into Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for those with low-income or the disabled

Once she realized her mistake, she made four calls to the federal help line, spending an hour on the phone with a helper each time. But she’s still unable to remove or correct her application, leaving her locked out of the system and unable to compare the private policies her family intends to buy.

“At this point, I’ve thrown up my hands and said I can’t deal with this anymore,” Schlesinger said. “I feel like I’m in one of those hamster wheels, where you cannot get off.”

Pam Lefkowitz, 53-year-old Lincolnwood self-employed IT consultant, called the entire process “the biggest nightmare.”

After two months of failed attempts, the finally was able to view health plans on HealthCare.gov Dec. 2. She didn’t like what she saw.

Although she’ll qualify for a monthly tax credit of about $91 if she buys a plan through the exchange, the policies offered carried higher total out-of-pocket costs than her old plan from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which she would prefer to keep, depending on how much it costs.

She received an e-mail last week from the insurer saying it would renew that plan and send her information this week on how much it would cost in 2014. As of Thursday afternoon, the letter had not arrived.

“I’m in a holding pattern,” Lefkowitz said. “I’m not doing anything until I hear from Blue Cross.”

——

Even for enrolled, obstacles remain

Even those who have signed up via the health exchanges are running into red tape and roadblocks.

The website also has had a number of back-end issues that affect the way it notifies insurance companies of their new enrollees. The federal government said last week that about 10 percent of the enrollment forms HealthCare.gov submits to insurers have errors, including incorrect information, duplicate forms and, in some cases, missing forms.

That’s down from an error rate of about 25 percent in October and November, before a host of significant repairs were made to the website, officials said. Even so, the continued issues raise the specter that some people who believe they are enrolled in a health plan may show up to a doctor’s office or a hospital and find that insurers have no record of their application.

Administration officials and insurance companies suggest that anyone who enrolls in coverage via the federal website call their insurance company to confirm they’ve signed up. For the plan to kick in Jan. 1, enrollees also are required to pay their insurer the first month’s premium by Dec. 31.

In a nod to the ongoing sign-up problems nationwide, federal officials announced several steps Thursday aimed at helping people who get stuck in health care-law limbo. The Department of Health and Human Services said patients enrolled in special insurance plans for people with pre-existing conditions would be able to stay on that coverage until the end of January.

—Peter Frost and Chad Terhune of the Los Angeles Times

To quote The Thompson Twins, “lies, lies, lies, yeah!”

Our New Commandeer-in-Chief, President Enron

The Oligarchy Times

Vol. 1, Issue 2.

President Obama now has a new name and new title.  As of today, I declare his new name to be President Enron.  Why?  Enron promised to deliver a functional energy exchange.  It took in lots of money, but it turned out to benefit a very small number of clients but profoundly benefitted the principles of Enron.  It was incapable of delivering on its promises.  President Enron promised to deliver a working healthcare exchange.  He got elected to the highest office in land based on the lies he told about keeping doctors, keeping insurance, and not costing the taxpayers one dime. What followed the enactment of the Unaffordable Careless Act earned him his new title, Commandeer-in Chief.  This is not a typo.  President Enron commandeered over $700 billion from the Medicare trust fund.  Here are the numbers:

pic_corner_092112_murdock_PB

President Enron and his minions are responsible for the creation of a system that doesn’t only have a flawed Web portal, it doesn’t even have a system created to pay insurance carriers.  So the Unaffordable Careless Act has the ability to take money in but it doesn’t have the ability to send money out.  The Commandeer-in-Chief is also a prolific liar.  He told millions of Americans that “the product is good.”  If the product was good, it would be able to do what was promised.

If you don’t like the name President Enron, I have an alternative: President Barry Madeoff.

Washington is officially snubbing Catholics in additon to Jews

The placement of a U.S. embassy in a nation is an important action.  In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act.  The Act dictated that the U.S. would have to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to the recognized capital of Israel, Jerusalem by 1999.  It is still in Tel Aviv thanks to executive orders from presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama.

To provide equal opportunity insults, the Obama administration has ordered the U.S. mission to the Holy See (a/k/a Vatican City) be moved to the campus of the U.S. embassy in Rome.  The Holy See is effectively the world capital of Roman Catholicism.  The Holy See has made it clear that embassies should be set up in Vatican City.  The justification of the move is security and cost savings.  The State Department does not identify any unusual security problems in Italy, the Holy See, and San Marino (travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1146.html).  The cost savings is projected to be $1.4 million.  That is a whopping 1.4% of what taxpayers shelled out for the Obamas to travel to Africa in June and July of this year.

To my Catholic friends, welcome to the fold, you now get to experience some of the slights my people, the Jews, have experienced for millennia.

Affordable Care Act Update: America Held Hostage, Day 20

On October 1, 2013, America was forced to participate in the purchase of a service that the majority of Americans do not want.  If uninsured Americans don’t have insurance and don’t buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), they will be penalized because, as the Supreme court determined, Obamacare is a tax and that tax will be a penalty imposed on Americans that choose to not buy the service.  At 2PM on October 20, 2013, I attempted to go to the exchange page for my state’s Health Insurance Exchange.  This is what I was greeted with:

aca20131020

I am a hunter.  This continued lack of availability of the ability to sign up for Obamacare is akin to requiring me to buy a hunting license online before hunting but then not having a working website to buy that license.  That is just flat-out ridiculous!

I Support Barack Obama’s View on the Debt Ceiling 100%

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure.  It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. Over the past 5 years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion. That is “trillion” with a ‘T.’ That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers. And over the next 5 years, between now and 2011, the President’s budget will increase the debt by almost another $3.5 trillion.

This year, the Federal Government will spend $220 billion on interest. That is more money to pay interest on our national debt than we’ll spend on Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. That is more money to pay interest on our debt this year than we will spend on education, homeland security, transportation, and veterans benefits combined. It is more money in one year than we are likely to spend to rebuild the devastated gulf coast in a way that honors the best of America.

Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.

Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), 2006