Tim Griffin on Face the Nation: We need to drill for oil, Deal with Medicare and Debt Problem (The Conspirator, Part 21)

Tim Griffin on ‘Face the Nation’

Jason Tolbert reported yesterday:

Tim Griffin was on CBS’ “Face the Nation” this morning…  He discussed the problem of the national debt and its impact on the economy, a reoccurring theme for Griffin.  He says that Medicare as we know it is on a path to bankruptcy in nine years.  He supports making changes for those under 55 while keeping it the same for those 55 and over.

Tim Griffin also mentioned the restrictions that the Obama Administration has had on drilling for oil in the USA and he thinks those should be removed.

During the show it was mentioned that Congressman Griffin has had several townhall meetings. I recently attended one last week in Shannon Hills. Rep. Griffin started off the meeting with this simple statement: 

“We have a debt crisis facing our nation. We have a debt crisis because Washington spends too much, not because Washington taxes too little. The spending is driven by retirement and health security programs. The cost of doing nothing is unacceptable…Our nation’s debt is $14.1 trillion and that is $45,484 for every man, woman and child or $142,819 for the average American family.”  
Congressman Griffin pointed out that because of growth of entitlement spending our discretionary side was of the federal budget has slipped from 58% in 1970 to 38% in 2011.
Rep. Griffin compared this to our household budgets. The fixed payments like rent have to be paid every month. However, the discretionary part of your budget may be changed from month to month. The problem with the federal budget is that fixed part of the budget is growing too rapidly. If nothing is done about entitlement spending then we will never balance the budget, and our country will go bankrupt eventually.
The chart “Deficits Under Obama Budgets” was the most alarming that Rep. Griffin presented. President Bush’s last three budgets produced budget deficits of 161 billion, 239 billion and 407 billion.  President Obama’s first budget produced a budget deficit of 1.1 trillion dollars in 2010 and estimates for 2011 are around 1.65 trillion.
The last payment on September 30, 2008 that the Bush Administration made on the interest on the debt was $451 billion on the total amount of debt of $10,024,724,896,912.49. Now just two and half years later our debt is over 14 billion.
Rep. Griffin took several questions from the audience. He was asked if Washington would be looking again to raise our taxes in order to close the gap on the deficit. 
Rep Griffin responded, “Politicians spend additional revenue from taxes. Raising taxes is not the answer. Tax increases hurt much needed economic growth. History shows spending is the problem.” 
When my turn came, I asked the Congressman if he knew where the breaking point would be as far as the amount of debt our country could stand before we went bankrupt? Was it 15 trillion or 28 trillion or what? (I was thinking about when that levee would break.)
Congressman Griffin answered, “The main thing is that we need to address the problem. For instance, there were those several years ago that were saying that Fannie Mae was going to collapse in the future if changes were not made and many told us not to worry, but the bubble burst. We must turn the ship around now, and address the core problems. We have to put our grown up pants on now.” 
I also lament the fact the federal government has grown so much in relation to the state and local governments where the people are closer to their representatives and can give more input. In 1902 the federal spending was only 2.6% of the Gross National Product (GNP), and the state and local governments’ spending made up 7.7% of GNP. Last year federal spending was 24.7% of GNP.  
Max Brantley throws out raising taxes again in his article “A Progressive Budget Plan,” Arkansas Times Blog, April 25, 2011. However, if our federal spending is 6 percent higher than what we have traditionally taken in over the last 50 years (19%) then why would your solution include raising taxes. Don’t we have a spending problem?
Name: The Conspirator
Release date: April 15, 2011
Director(s): Robert Redford
Cast: James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Justin Long, Evan Rachel Wood, Tom Wilkinson, Alexis Bledel, Kevin Kline, Jonathan Groff and Norman Reedus
Genre(s): Drama

Friday, Sep. 17, 2010

The Conspirator: Abraham Lincoln’s 9/11

By Richard Corliss

The news put Americans in a state of shock; they knew that, after that unprecedented day, they would never be the same. With this dastardly attack, and after the greatest loss of civilian lives the U.S. had ever known, the federal government abridged the liberties of those it suspected of giving aid and comfort to the nation’s enemies. It tried civilians in military courts, deprived them of due process, suspended the right of habeus corpus. The few lawyers to speak up in defense of the accused were overruled or drowned out by high government officials who spun fantasies into imminent threats, predicting anarchy if the suspects were not railroaded to conviction. And when it couldn’t find the real perpetrators of the attack, the government went after people who might slake the country’s thirst for righteous revenge. (See TIME’s Fall Arts Guide.)

The news, of course, was of Abraham Lincoln’s bloody death, a few days after the Civil War ended. The vindictive government officials included Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The civilian on trial in a military court was Mary Surratt, whose son John was part of the plot that killed Lincoln. Despite a spirited defense by a young war hero, Frederick Aiken, she was convicted of treason by a Commission that recommended she be sentenced to life in prison. President Johnson overruled that sentence — as well as the writ of habeus corpus Aiken had secured — and on July 7, 1865, Mary Surratt was hanged. She was the first woman to be executed by the U.S. government. (See photos of Abraham Lincoln.)

The most troubling and satisfying aspect of The Conspirator, director Robert Redford’s account of the Surratt case, is the comparison it draws between the actions taken by the Andrew Johnson administration immediately after the event of Apr. 14, 1965 — the first assassination of a U.S. President — and the Bush Administration’s actions in the months and years after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. In this movie, Stanton is the stand-in for Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld; he proposes lurid theories of revolution and, when challenged, replies, “Who’s to say these things couldn’t happen?” In a direct parallel to the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq as a crowd-pleasing alternative to the fruitless search for Osama bin Laden, one Surratt sympathizer says that Stanton & Co. are trying Mary “because they can’t find John.”

This may sound like catnip to Bush-whackers and an outrage or a yawn to everybody else. But this retelling of a crucial, poorly-remembered chapter of American law and war has enough atmosphere, stalwart acting and suspense (unless you’ve read the previous two paragraphs) to appeal to the mass of moviegoers, even those indifferent to the primacy of justice over vengeance. Early next year, they’ll get a chance to see it; The Conspirator, produced by online-trading billionaire Joe Ricketts’ American Film Company, was bought for distribution by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions shortly after its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.

In Redford’s starchy but provocative version, Union war hero Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy) is persuaded by Maryland Senator Reverdy Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) to defend Mary Surratt (Robin Wright) at her trial. Screenwriters James D. Solomon and Gregory Bernstein have added an Aiken girlfriend (Alexis Bledel) and a pal (Justin Long) for home cooking, but the movie story is essentially the real one. Aiken presses his case against prosecuting attorney Joseph Holt (Danny Huston), quizzes John Surratt associate Louis Weichmann (Glee‘s Jonathan Groff) and searches for helpful evidence in Mary’s boarding house, where her daughter Anna (Evan Rachel Wood) still lives.

Thirty years after his directorial debut with the Oscar-winning Ordinary People, Redford comes to this period piece with a visual style that is both stately and obvious. In Mary’s prison cell, shafts of blinding light form the window giving her the third degree. Redford swathes the proceedings in artfully desaturated color and soft-focus back-lighting — just enough to let viewers know they’re in the 19th century, not enough to distract them from the story. He might have chosen his leading player more wisely: McAvoy, the young Scottish actor who’s been impressive as a romantic proletarian (Atonement), a roguish journalist (the BBC series State of Play) and a wimp turned action hero (Wanted), plays Aiken as a bit too callow and tentative.

The rest of the cast does fine by their roles. Kline and Huston provide different sides of the same government coin: one a zealot for finding villains and scapegoats, and never mind which is which; the other as a dispassionate advocate for his client, and who at the end quotes Cicero’s maxim that, “In times of war, the law falls silent.” The shining star is Wright, who brings drama and beauty to every role just by staring into the camera. She has more here: the sullen, fiery dignity of a woman who is as sure of her allegiance to the defeated Confederacy (she calls Lincoln “your President”) as she is of her innocence — and her fate at the grasping hands of Stanton and his government gang.

Wright’s performance is the key to a movie that pulses with the sick thrill of historical discovery. The Conspirator reminds us that. when we surrendered so many of our Constitutional rights and judgments after 9/11, it wasn’t the first time. How can we be sure it will be the last?

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