Thursday, August 18, 2011

2 Weeks in Washington, Instead of Martha's Vineyard

As I begin to write this, all the touchstones I usually check are trembling.  The market is down AGAIN, this time 420 points (it’s OK to call these points dollars) and the president has arrived in Martha’s Vineyard (Massachusetts) for his annual 2-week vacation with the family.

Last week he turned 50 and the market presented him with a birthday swing: down 500 points (dollars).  I’m not saying he’s the cause of the dumps in our economic world, but he apparently isn’t interested in being the cure.  Sure it would be nice if the market cured itself, but it seems like it’s too much trouble for our president to actually take control of the house and senate and try to make the whole system work. 

I know the president feels it’s appropriate to blame others; George Bush has gotten a pile of blame (and he may have deserved some of it, even though the Dem’s had the White House, the House and the Senate for 2 years).  Now Japan and the Tsunami have gotten some blame, I don’t get that exactly—what was the problem there, no new Toyotas?  And of course the Tea Party, they’re easy to blame—they’re sort of a “Republican Cloud”—with no names or faces.

Some years back I worked at Fidelity (the bigger than life-sized investment guys).  I wasn’t a stockbroker or investment guy, Fidelity owns more than 50 publications and I was a group publisher there.  But let me tell you a little about the culture at Fidelity.  They don’t suffer foolishness easily.  If my department results were down, there would be no vacations approved—mine or anybody else’s until we were back on track, period.  It wouldn’t matter if I had a $10,000 deposit on a vacation house on Martha’s Vineyard and my whole family was coming in from the rest of America, If I tried to pull that kind of a stunt, I’d have no job on my return.

Since those days I’ve owned a bunch of businesses.  And that kind of culture has stuck with me.  When there is a job to be done, you stay and get it done.  No vacations, no leaving early and no bonuses.  I’ve made a lot of money and I’ve lost a lot of money, (making money is better) but I never took off when there was a problem that I felt I had to solve.  My wife will be the first to tell you we cancelled vacations and I worked weekends when we were faced with these kinds of issues.

So why can’t our Commander in Chief call the House and Senate members back to Washington and finish the business of America.  Take it one day at a time, for two weeks and get ‘er done.  Here’s a plan they can follow:

Day one—Address the unemployment issues, allow employers who hire new employees not to match FICA and other costly employer taxes and fees for the first 12 months of that employees tenure.  Come on, make hiring new workers worth doing.

Day two—Address the housing issues we have.  I am still in favor of bulldozing the older homes in poor condition, which are in foreclosure, and selling the newly vacant land to developers.  Bonuses would be paid to developers who build affordable housing and discounts on loans to those who buy them.  Fewer houses will drive up the market and make home sales happen again.

Day three—Address the illegal alien issues.  Plan a whole day to fix the leaky borders, and develop methods of enforcing the laws we already have on the books.

Day four—Take some time to deal with the little things, TSA, Student Loans, Flood Insurance, and term limits—suppose we cap each Senator at 2 terms and house members at 4.  If there’s still time, adjust the president to one six year term--and then go home early (Thursday afternoon would be a good time to relax).

Day five—Prepare the budget for next year. And pass it.  Stay late if you need to. (It’s a Friday in the summer so you don’t want to leave early and get in the weekend traffic anyway).

Take the weekend off.

Day six—Rethink the decisions of a couple of weeks back, and fire the group of midgets who have been chosen to make economic decisions—I mean what is that all about? Wait until the Supreme Court gets a hold of that. Then pass a balanced budget amendment.

Day seven—Discuss and change the IRS’s thousands of pages of tax laws into a simple flat tax.  Rule one, everybody pays 17%, with no deductions—except--If you make less than $50,000 you only report half of your income.  If you make $50,000 to $250,000 you report 75% of your income.  Over $250,000 you pay tax on all your income.  If Social Security is taxable, so is welfare. If Warren Buffet wants to pay more, great.  I say he gets a special lapel pin to wear around and show his buddies that he’s rich and sends in more than he owes.  You can get one too.

Day eight—Let’s plan to spend the day getting all our soldiers and service people out of harm’s way.  Let’s declare all the overseas wars as having been won by us, and bring them home.  Maybe we can employ the troops for the balance of their duty, but on American soil, and have them finish up the shovel ready jobs we didn’t get to.

Day nine—Time to close some of the departments that really don’t do anything.  The Department of Energy only hinders those in the energy business, the Department of Education hinder those who are trying to educate our youth.  Let’s look at each “department of…” and do a simple thumbs up or thumbs down.  Ditto with the various Czars. If you get a thumbs down, your department simply goes away.

Day ten--By now the world will see that we are finally serious and making good progress with our future plans, and our triple A credit rating will be returned, but instead of going home early, let’s take the time for one more vote to repeal the Obama Health plan.

That’s it in a nutshell, two weeks in Washington while the family is on Martha’s Vineyard.  But when these politicians sit down to write their memoirs, the chapter on “what I did on my summer vacation” will be meaningful.

(I know there are lots more topics that our legislators need to address, but this would be a pretty good start on the business of America—don’t you agree?)

Dane Hahn is a real estate professional with Tarpon Coast Realty in Boca Grande, Sarasota and Englewood.  You can reach him at or see him on the web at

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