Fort Smith college students Fix the Debt

By Steve Brawner, © 2018 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

At the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith Friday, more than 220 college students, including sophomore Garrett Spain from Greenwood, tried to do what Congress is unwilling to do – get the government’s debt under control.

The students gathered at two dozen tables, each with a laptop, and worked together using the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget’s (CRFB) Debt Fixer tool. That’s an online resource that lets users see how the federal budget would be affected by selecting various spending cuts and tax increases.

The goal of Friday’s exercise was not to pay down the $21.6 trillion national debt. Instead, it was to get the red ink under control. The $15.8 trillion public debt (what the government owes everyone but itself) is 77 percent of the gross domestic product and growing rapidly. By 2028, it is projected to be 97 percent, meaning it will be the same size as the economy. The goal for the students was to stabilize it at 70 percent by 2028, and 40 percent by 2050. Continue reading Fort Smith college students Fix the Debt

That other Supreme Court seat

vote, Mark Moore, 16-year-olds, Arkansas primaries, GoodsonBy Steve Brawner, © 2018 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

You’re probably well informed about the Supreme Court seat that’s already been filled, but not so much about the one where you still have a say. Let’s start fixing that.

The one that’s filled will be occupied in Washington, D.C., perhaps for 30 years, by Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Regardless of what you think about it, it’s done.

The one you still can influence will be decided Nov. 6. That’s when Arkansans will vote to re-elect Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson, or replace her with her opponent, David Sterling. Continue reading That other Supreme Court seat

Who’s your daddy? Trump knows it’s not him

By Steve Brawner, © 2018 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Say what you want about President Trump, but he’s accomplishing much of what he wants to do. Maybe that’s because he grasps a reality in today’s politics: The president is not our daddy.

That’s one role presidents have played since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created an activist government during the Great Depression, spoke to Americans through radio fireside chats, and shepherded the country through most of World War II. Before him, the president was a relatively remote part of Americans’ everyday existence. After him, presidents led the country through the Cold War. When the space shuttle exploded or terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, the president comforted the nation and led the response.

In political science terms, the president is the “head of state,” the face of the country. Unlike some other democracies, here the same person is also the head of government. Great Britain has a prime minister to wallow in the muck of politics, and a queen who sits on the throne above it all. Presidents have tried to temper their language and speak in unifying terms knowing they played both roles.

But now that the country has become more divided and doesn’t face a common enemy, it’s become harder to serve as head of state. There’s no point in trying to be America’s daddy, and besides, that’s not President Trump’s nature anyway. He’s about “winning,” not nurturing. Forty percent of the country is with him, about half is against him, and nothing much is going to change those two groups. He knows most of his 40 percent fear and dislike Nancy Pelosi more than they do Vladimir Putin. His presidency depends on holding on to that base, and that’s what he’s done. Continue reading Who’s your daddy? Trump knows it’s not him

Governor wants to clean up his cabinet

Cabinet
Charts provided by Arkansas Governor’s Office.

By Steve Brawner,  © 2018 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

In the middle of the Governor’s Conference Room at the State Capitol is a sturdy wooden table donated by former Governor George Donaghey in 1935. It was constructed from a walnut tree planted by Donaghey’s father, Columbus, in Conway 60 years earlier.

Even if he wanted, Gov. Asa Hutchinson could not possibly fit all his Cabinet officers around it. But if he has his way, in 2020 he or the next governor could, if someone brought in half a dozen extra chairs around the perimeter.

Hutchinson on Wednesday announced a plan to reduce the number of cabinet-level state agencies from a sprawling 42 to a manageable 15. Doing so would make the governor’s cabinet the same size as the president’s. Continue reading Governor wants to clean up his cabinet