Saturday, November 12, 2016

Conservatives! Hold the line on cuts.

UK Chancellor, Philip Hammond, is shortly due to present his Autumn Statement, outlining spending and taxation plans.  As with his predecessor, it is a good opportunity to offer advice on what his priorities should be.
There has been much prognosticating by the so called experts about the state of the UK’s finances, post-Brexit.  The latest indicates that there is a £25 billion funding gap which will arise as a result of depressed growth by 2020.  Couple this with Hammond’s Tory conference talk of loosening the reins and we can maybe expect that the much needed fiscal discipline – a policy which very much differentiated the Conservatives from the Labour opposition during the 2015 General Election – will be ditched.
This certainly shouldn’t be so.  
The UK, for the benefit of future generations – your children and grandchildren – needs to urgently reduce public spending.  At the same time, we need a simplification of the UK tax code.  I would contend that one of the major contributors to the industry that has sprung-up around tax avoidance, is the current complexity of tax law.  Indeed, I would suggest that there are parts of it that no one really understands!
The Tax Payers Alliance undertook an extremely well-researched and fully costed analysis of the UK’s public finances and came up with proposals to reduce taxpayer spending.  This blog highlights what I see as the most cost effective and politically acceptable cuts.  The figures shown are based on the TPA’s cumulative total for the years 2017-2020 (3 tax years).  The amounts combine what the TPA call both Programme One measures – required to get public spending down to 35.2% of GDP by 2019-2020 – and Programme Two measures – designed to drive public spending down further, to 31.7% of GDP by 2020-2021.
So to my recommendations:
·      Increase the extent of charges in the NHS.  Saving 2017 to 2020  £26 billion. 
This includes charging people that travel to the UK, for so called ‘health tourism’ for the services that they receive from the NHS.  Frankly can’t believe that this would be opposed by any sane UK politician.
·      Abolish the Department for Culture, Media and Sport  Saving £8.3 Billion
·      Abolish the Department for International Development and scrap Development Aid Saving  £41.8 Billion
·      Abolish the Department for Environment and Climate Change  Saving £1 Billion
·      Abolish the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills  Saving £12.9 Billion
Government itself must be reduced.  The focus of the UK must be on productive workers not on parasitical bureaucrats.  Where there is a perceived (but much reduced) need for some of  the services currently provided by these ministries, then the tasks to be reassigned to other ministries.  In terms of International Aid, the UK is in debt.  It cannot make any sense, other than in the lala land of Westminster to be borrowing money and placing a burden on the UK tax payer, only so that we can give that money to overseas countries.  Especially so, when many of the recipients are either corrupt or don’t need the money.
·      Abolish the H2S programme  Saving £9 Billion
This is a white elephant in the making.  And a very expensive one, at that!  The economic case for this has been doctored more than a randy tom-cat.  Other than the economists who pull together the fictional projections, I doubt there is anyone that believes this project will be delivered for the £50, 60, 70 Billion price tag.  The saving shown could be reduced if the government decided instead to spend some of that money, on improving communication networks across the whole country.   Imagine the benefits for the country if 4G or even 5G coverage was nationwide.  Think of all those saved carbon footprints!
·      Scrap National Pay bargaining  Saving £13.1 Billion
I have written here before about this.  How can it make sense that people – almost exclusively public sector employees – get the same salary increase regardless of where they live.  The ‘cost of living’ for a  public sector employee living in London  or maybe Edinburgh are very, very different for one living in Durham or Cornwall. 
·      Reduce grants to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales  to be in line with England and Scotland’s to match its relative prosperity compared to Wales.  Saving £21.1 Billion
Okay, I have a ‘bee in my bonnet’ about this.  To me it is iniquitous that English tax payers must subsidise residents of other parts of the UK (and, to declare an interest, yes I do live in England)  In Scotland this is particularly galling, where Scottish born university students are provided with free tuition (as are students from other EU countries) while English students are charged fees.   It is time that these members of the Union pay a fair share for the services they enjoy.  Who knows, maybe then they would elect fiscally responsible assemblies and parliaments!  Currently it is easy to elect ‘rent a gob’ politicians in Scotland or Wales or Northern Ireland who spout off on all sorts of issues – even those for which they have no competence – and then spend and spend and send the bill to Westminster.
·      Freeze Benefits for two years and then uprate with CPI  Saving £5.7 Billion
·      Means Test winter fuel payments  Saving £4.3 Billion
·      Reduce the Welfare cap to £20,000  Saving £2.3 Billion
·      Scrap Childcare subsidy  Saving £2.6 Billion
·      Cut Child Tax Credits to their 2003-4 levels, in real terms  Saving £16.8 Billion
·      Target free bus passes, for the elderly, for those who genuinely need them  Saving £1.7 Billion
·      Flatten housing benefit rates across expensive areas to cut 10% off bills  Saving £7.9 Billion
Looking at the savings, it is easy to see the extent that the welfare programme is still a very significant part of the UK’s spending.  I have no doubt that implementing such cuts as proposed, would unleash a howl of protest from Labour and the rest of the Left.  The same could be expected from the soft Left in the Conservative Party.  This I find highly ironic.  At the moment, the tax payer is subsidising vast numbers of employers of people who are in work or people who do not need the benefits that they receive (rich old age pensioners, for example).  How can anyone justify companies paying low wages to people and people only being able to afford to take these jobs because they receive supplementary handouts from the tax payer, via the State?  The State and the tax payer need to get out of the business of subsidising private enterprise. 
These are just my selection from the TPA’s Spending Plan.  Now let’s turn to income taxes.
Raise the Income Tax threshold to £15,000 from next year and to £20,000 by tax year 2019-2020.
Reduce the basic rate of income tax to 15% for all income between £15,000 and £50,000.  For income over Sterling £50,000 reduce rate to 35%
Abolish National Insurance contributions, for both employee and employer for all employees under the age of 25 years.
Abolish all of the so called Green Taxes.
Increase Inheritance Tax thresholds to £600,000 and then increment to £750,000 by 2019-2020.
Finally, another ‘bee in my bonnet’.  Tax MPs expenses.  If the average tax payer is reimbursed for home to work travel or accommodation, then this is considered a taxable benefit.  Brexit has shown that the people are taking back control from the elites.  Those who think that they should be treated differently than the rest of us.  
If you’ve read this far, I apologise for the length of the piece.  I am under no illusion that these progressive policies will be implemented – I think it will take some kind of tax payers revolt for common sense to come to Britain’s public finances – that or a financial crisis, however, who knows, maybe one day a UK government will pay more attention to the tax payer that funds all this and less to the recipients of the tax payer’s largesse.  Then they might also think about our children and grandchildren.

Don’t hold your breath, though!
Massive, Massive hat-tip to the Tax Payers Alliance!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Worried about the GOP

So it is to be President Trump. 
Like many others, I didn’t foresee this, except that looking at the attendance at his rallies and those at Hillary Clinton’s, as well as the views expressed on my Twitter timeline, it was clear to me that he was always going to do better than the heavily biased main stream media (MSM) were projecting.  Of course my Twittersphere is bound to lean more towards GOP so …
Trump wouldn’t have been my choice for the GOP candidate.  That was Ted Cruz.  It was discouraging to see that many of the other GOP Primary candidates didn’t get behind Trump in the run-up to the election, though Cruz did have the grace and class, to actively campaign from the Trump/Pence ticket.  Hope for the future, I trust.
In writing this, I was tempted to ignore the post-election whining from the losing Democrat Party and its supporters in the MSM, however, that would be remiss of me.
Just as with Brexit, in the UK, so the ‘experts’ are analysing and ‘slicing and dicing’ the results to see why they got it so wrong.  Here is my advice to them.  Review your own output, see just how much of it was media and people inside the election bubble, talking and pontificating to themselves rather than talking to real people.  It was always ridiculous and incredibly over-simplistic to simply label Trump’s supporters as racists, xenophobes, sexists, misogynists and uneducated.
These people simply didn’t buy into the ‘political correctness’ that says that love of your own country makes you a racist or makes you automatically hate any and all foreigners.  That supporting Trump, who was accused of long-ago sexual assaults, makes you a sexist woman-hater.  These people were concerned about the economy (Bill Clinton had it right with ‘It’s the economy, stupid’)  they saw jobs continuing to bleed to cheaper labour countries.  They saw that globalisation just wasn’t benefiting them or their children.  That Obama’s jobless numbers were fake or at best mis-leading.  They heard that the level of economically inactive had climbed, significantly. Simply put, if there was economic growth – they were not seeing or feeling it.  Belatedly, the MSM have woken-up and started asking steel workers in Pennsylvania towns that have been decimated by cheap imports and coal miners that have been impacted by mine closures brought about by unproven climate pseudo-science, why did they vote Trump?  These people then tell them what they could have known months ago, had they gotten out of their ‘bubble’. 
At some point, these ‘journalists’ and the pollsters will also get around to asking Blacks and Hispanics  why they voted in such numbers for Trump.  The narrative that these minorities had so much to fear from Trump was clearly ignored by the people, themselves. 
It is interesting listening to the comments of some of the losing Democrats.  I hear strong echoes of the UK Labour party after their somewhat surprising 2015 General Election loss.  Especially, when they say ‘we lost because weren’t left-wing enough’. 
No, no, no!  Hillary Clinton lost and other Democrat party candidates lost in House and Senate and Gubernatorial races because you were too left wing and you simply had nothing to say to Americans, that they wanted to hear.  Telling a Veteran that the USA needs to bring in more refugees and give them $1,700 a month, when the Veteran gets less than $1,200 is, I would suggest, NEVER going to get that Veteran’s vote. 
Of course, a major factor in Clinton’s loss is very likely to come down to trust.  She was seen as corrupt and being protected by the ‘elite establishment’.  I wonder just how many of the young people protesting have ever read any information on Hillary? 
·      How she defended a child rapist and destroyed, on the stand, his victim?
·      How she was fired from one of the Watergate investigations because of her dishonesty?
·      How $6 billion is unaccounted for, from her time as Secretary of State?
·      How she stood in front of the coffins of the 4 dead from Benghazi and lied to the families, when she blamed a video while knowing the cause was the Obama administration’s abandonment of its own people?
·      How it is that so many people around her die in what can only be called ‘suspicious’ circumstances (try Vince Foster, just for one)? 
·      How, while Secretary of State, she solicited significant contributions for the Clinton Foundation?
·      How she has taken large speaking fees from Wall Street firms while pretending to be the voice for the little man?
·      How she deleted e-mails from her illegally used private server?
·      How she colluded with others in the Democrat National Committee, to cheat and work against Bernie Saunders and then, with the aid of a compliant MSM, cheated on the Presidential Debates?
The list goes on and on. 
Frankly put, America dodged a bullet.
It is important though that President Trump ignores the siren calls of those who say that it is time to heal the nation and that fulfilling his campaign pledge to ‘lock her up’ would be divisive.  President Trump must appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton.  Some of the work will be to go over already ploughed land but that’s okay.  She shouldn’t be cut any slack.  Remember General Petraeus wasn’t!  Democrats continue to castigate the FBI and its Director Comey. My beef with him is how, after detailing, back in June/July, blatant law-breaking by Clinton, as regards her illegal use of her personal server, he then said there would be no prosecutions.   Note to MSM and Pollsters – another reason why Americans didn’t vote for Hillary – they don’t like the ‘one law for them, another for us’ that was plain to see.
So, finally, I get to the subject matter!
I am really happy that America has a Republican President, Republican House and Republican Senate.  I am though a little worried. 
My worry is that the House and Senate include Republicans that are RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) and they will be scared to implement full-throated conservative policies.  That they will ignore the clear steer that they have had from the people of America, that America wants a roll-back of the state and an end to the cancerous policy of political correctness.  That they will, out of self-interest, seek to ‘water-down’ term limit legislation.  That they will forget that America has elected them to represent the interests of Americans – first, second and third.  That they will weaken the repeal of Obamacare – the non-affordable Affordable Care Act.  That they will continue to fund Planned Parenthood – a grossly mis-named organisation if ever there was one.
There’s lot to be done and all three – President, House and Senate – need to hit the ground running.  The next two years are critical – economic regeneration policies need to be implemented, without delay, so that they have a chance to bear fruit by the time of the next round of elections.  Similarly, the appointment of a replacement for Justice Scalia, needs to be fast tracked.   Who knows, maybe Ted Cruz would be a candidate?  As an ardent constitutionalist and great orator, he would certainly add great weight to the Supreme Court (and some needed youth!)
So to President Trump and Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell, I say, get moving now.  America and the World needs leadership, no more dithering, no more leftist leanings, no more pandering to every minority and ‘wack-job’ group. Strong leadership and positive action to return the free world to the conservative path.  You have around 70 days to plan the strategy and then, come January 20, 2017, you start implementing and doing so, mercilessly.  There’s no time for half-heartedness or seeking to build a consensus – get on with the job you were elected to do!
To those that still want to protest – carry on, that’s your right but understand that if you break the law, then you will face the consequences – that’s what living in a democracy means.  And if or when you post tweets advocating the assassination of the President-elect, don’t be surprised if you feel the hands of the Secret Service on your shoulder!  Incidentally, how come Clint Eastwood, a Trump supporter, is banned from Twitter by Twitter, but not these criminal hate-mongers and anti-democrats.