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Mark Caserta: Foreign aid must be cut to bolster US stability

15 Apr

foreign aid

Dec. 05, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

The United States simply cannot sustain current levels of assistance to other countries.

According to the Treasury Department, our projected deficit for Fiscal Year 2014 is about $744 billion and our national debt is around $17 trillion, or about $52,807 per person.

I’d say it’s time to keep some cash at home until we can get our own financial house in order.

From a business perspective, it’s inconceivable that Congress has been operating without a federal budget for over three years. And sadly, our current mix of representation lacks the competencies required to build relationships and collaborate on viable financial solutions.

Additionally, President Obama, who is required by law to submit a budget to Congress on or before the first Monday in February of each year, has missed the mark four of the past five years and has yet to have a proposal seriously considered by either chamber of Congress.

Understand, the U.S. budgetary process is essential in determining funding levels for the next fiscal year and directly affects the monetary amounts allocated to foreign assistance programs.

The U.S. Agency for International Development states its function is to provide “economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States.” The U.S. provides around $50 billion in aid to other countries each year, according to the agency.

Now, humanitarian aid, at reasonable levels, has a strong political constituency in the U.S. But development aid remains controversial, and many contend it is a waste of taxpayers’ money. Multiple reports reveal inadequate oversight has resulted in billions of dollars in wasted resources.

The Commitment to Development Index (CDI) compiled each year by the Center for Global Development ranks the “quantifiable performance” of foreign aid for 27 of the world’s richest countries. The index uniquely assesses multiple categories ranging from trade to technology — not based on how much aid a nation provides, but the weighted value of the aid given.

Of the 27 countries, while the United States was by far the world’s top financial donor, it ranked 19th in overall value, behind countries like Denmark, Ireland and Canada.

Conspicuously missing from the donor list was China, which recently surpassed Japan as the world’s second largest economy and is forecasted to overtake the U.S. by 2016.

Yet, according to the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. provided $28.3 million in foreign assistance to China in 2012 to promote human rights, democracy, the rule of law, environmental conservation and to support Tibetan culture!

While perhaps noble in nature, do these causes supersede the fundamental needs of Americans?

What portion of U.S. foreign aid could have been re-allocated as tax subsidies for the 15 percent of Americans who were without health coverage, pre-Obamacare? And still could.

Our government has become a poor steward of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money — domestically and internationally.

And until we achieve financial stability, we must limit foreign aid to humanitarian needs and require other nations to be more assertive in their own development.

The U.S. has its own problems.

Mark Caserta is a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

Mark Caserta: Americans can’t compromise privacy for security

30 Jan

NSA
Jan. 30, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

Do Americans have a fundamental right to privacy from government intrusion into their lives?

The right to privacy, in many ways, has been taken for granted to some degree by the American people. Each of us has grown accustomed to having the liberty to establish varying boundaries in our lives that we simply expect others to respect.

But the right to keep those boundaries might be in peril.

While the Constitution contains no “express” right to privacy, courts have ruled the Bill of Rights creates “zones of privacy” which protect us from government intrusion in many areas of our lives. Our Founding Fathers believed that smaller, less intrusive government was necessary in enabling Americans to be free.

I’ve been tentative about weighing in on National Security Agency (NSA) systems analyst Edward Snowden and his “whistle blowing” of our government’s security techniques to the world. But it’s time Americans begin processing how this information may impact our future personal freedoms.

Snowden revealed a top-secret program code-named “PRISM” operating under the provisions of the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which the government uses to collect personal data from American citizens indiscriminately and regardless of suspicion of wrongdoing.

Investigations have confirmed that data such as video chats, photographs and emails are collected from the servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook and other online companies.

My position has been this is an infringement upon the privacy rights of Americans. While Snowden “appeared” courageous in his whistle blowing, he should have presented his case through the proper venues — an error which will likely keep him from ever returning home.

But then last week, two leading members of the House Intelligence Committee revealed a classified Pentagon report that found Edward Snowden’s leaks have compromised U.S. military tactics and put troops in danger.

Republican committee chairman Rep. Mike Rogers and ranking Democrat Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger said that Snowden stole approximately 1.7 million intelligence files that “concern vital operations of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.” Since this information has already aided the enemy, Snowden is now pegged a traitor.

“The vast majority of the material was related to the Defense Department, and our military services,” Rogers said in an Associated Press interview last week. “Clearly, given the scope and the types of information, I have concerns about operations that would be ongoing in Afghanistan.”

It’s important for Americans to maintain perspective here and not be swayed by political affiliation.

Our government has been exposed (albeit by a traitor) “experimenting” with the boundaries of privacy afforded by the U.S. Constitution.

In 2013, President Barack Obama, himself a constitutional lawyer, told Americans they were “going to have to make some choices” balancing privacy and security and defended the NSA surveillance program vigorously.

Consider this: If our privacy isn’t protected by the Constitution, what then, defines the government’s limitations?

Americans should never be asked to give up fundamental rights to gain the government’s protection.

That’s a dangerous step backward.

Obamacare more about power than healthcare

26 Dec

Mark Caserta: Obamacare more about power than healthcare

Dec. 26, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Americans have been given a false choice regarding healthcare reform.

There were many viable alternatives for making healthcare more available and affordable in America that didn’t require tearing down the entire system and replacing it with a mandate that all Americans “bow” at the altar of the Department of Health and Human Services or the Internal Revenue Service.

Yet Democrat leadership failed to pursue reasonable solutions which studies have shown would significantly improve healthcare in the U.S. while maintaining an individual’s right to choose the coverage which best suits their needs.

Americans struggling to make ends meet should receive tax breaks commensurate with their income enabling them to afford quality healthcare for themselves and their family. I would personally like to see the money our government sends to other nations outside of humanitarian needs redirected to subsidize healthcare coverage for Americans at or below our nation’s poverty level. America must stay strong to help others!

People with pre-existing conditions shouldn’t be left out in the cold. But we can’t expect insurance companies to simply “absorb” these additional costs. Again, our government should re-allocate foreign aid funding, as well as eliminate their own irresponsible spending, to cover these additional costs in the form of a tax subsidy.

We must allow insurance companies to sell their policies across state lines. We have every reason to believe that healthy competition will reduce costs and provide more options for Americans just as every other U.S. industry.

Tort reform on medical malpractice is needed. Our current system increases costs both directly, in the form of higher malpractice insurance premiums, and indirectly, in the form of defensive medicine when medical services are prescribed simply to circumvent liability rather than benefit the patient.

Employers should be encouraged to offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to their employees. HSAs allow individuals to set aside money from each paycheck, before taxes, for future medical care. The American people are much more frugal and conscientious with their money than the government! An HSA may also be an excellent fit with a high-deductible insurance plan.

Pre-Obamacare, according to the Congressional Budget Office, (CBO) there were around 15 million uninsured Americans in the U.S. But based on CBO projections, once Obamacare is fully implemented, and working smoothly, that number climbs to 30 million in 2023!

I submit the Obamacare journey, which has cost our nation billions of dollars, has never really been about providing health coverage for all Americans, but something entirely different.

President Obama and Democrats sold Obamacare on a series of lies knowing it would result in a base of voters not only dependent upon government, but subject to extortion of their tax dollars if they defied the mandate.

A defining characteristic of this administration is to arrogantly operate within the narrowest definition of executive power and outside of the people’s consent.

The fact that Obamacare shifts power away from the people and to government challenges the fundamental belief that government must derive its “just powers from the consent of the governed”.

Obamacare isn’t about healthcare. It’s about power.
one bill at at time

FOREIGN AID? AMERICA HAS HER OWN PROBLEMS

5 Dec

obamaspast00Mark Caserta: Foreign aid must be cut to bolster US stability
Dec. 05, 2013 @ 12:00 AM
The United States simply cannot sustain current levels of assistance to other countries.

According to the Treasury Department, our projected deficit for Fiscal Year 2014 is about $744 billion and our national debt is around $17 trillion, or about $52,807 per person.

I’d say it’s time to keep some cash at home until we can get our own financial house in order.

From a business perspective, it’s inconceivable that Congress has been operating without a federal budget for over three years. And sadly, our current mix of representation lacks the competencies required to build relationships and collaborate on viable financial solutions.

Additionally, President Obama, who is required by law to submit a budget to Congress on or before the first Monday in February of each year, has missed the mark four of the past five years and has yet to have a proposal seriously considered by either chamber of Congress.

Understand, the U.S. budgetary process is essential in determining funding levels for the next fiscal year and directly affects the monetary amounts allocated to foreign assistance programs.

The U.S. Agency for International Development states its function is to provide “economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States.” The U.S. provides around $50 billion in aid to other countries each year, according to the agency.

Now, humanitarian aid, at reasonable levels, has a strong political constituency in the U.S. But development aid remains controversial, and many contend it is a waste of taxpayers’ money. Multiple reports reveal inadequate oversight has resulted in billions of dollars in wasted resources.

The Commitment to Development Index (CDI) compiled each year by the Center for Global Development ranks the “quantifiable performance” of foreign aid for 27 of the world’s richest countries. The index uniquely assesses multiple categories ranging from trade to technology — not based on how much aid a nation provides, but the weighted value of the aid given.

Of the 27 countries, while the United States was by far the world’s top financial donor, it ranked 19th in overall value, behind countries like Denmark, Ireland and Canada.

Conspicuously missing from the donor list was China, which recently surpassed Japan as the world’s second largest economy and is forecasted to overtake the U.S. by 2016.

Yet, according to the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. provided $28.3 million in foreign assistance to China in 2012 to promote human rights, democracy, the rule of law, environmental conservation and to support Tibetan culture!

While perhaps noble in nature, do these causes supersede the fundamental needs of Americans?

What portion of U.S. foreign aid could have been re-allocated as tax subsidies for the 15 percent of Americans who were without health coverage, pre-Obamacare? And still could.

Our government has become a poor steward of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money — domestically and internationally.

And until we achieve financial stability, we must limit foreign aid to humanitarian needs and require other nations to be more assertive in their own development.

The U.S. has its own problems.

Mark Caserta is a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

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