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Author: Subject: The real costs of foolish plans to 'secure' the border
monoloco
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[*] posted on 3-28-2015 at 05:22 PM
The real costs of foolish plans to 'secure' the border




Shikha Dalmia
(REUTERS/Jorge Duenes)
March 27, 2015
Sen. Ted Cruz launched his bid for the Republican presidential nomination this week by promising to "finally, finally, finally secure the borders" and put an end to unauthorized immigration. This will warm the hearts of restrictionists, no doubt. But it should scare Americans who love their pocketbooks and liberties more than they hate undocumented Latino immigrants.

Restrictionists accuse many of these immigrants of being welfare queens who come to America illegally and live off taxpayers. Cruz has contributed to the hysteria by proposing bills barring undocumented workers from ever receiving any means-tested benefits, presumably even after they become legal.

Accusations that undocumented Latinos strain the welfare system are a red herring. If anything, immigrants, legal and illegal, constitute something of a welfare windfall. How? By coming to this country during their peak working years, after another society has borne the cost of raising and educating them, they save our system a ton of money. Studies generally don't take this windfall effect into account, and still find that the economic contributions of low-skilled Latinos far outpace their welfare use. For example, a Texas comptroller study found that although unauthorized workers consumed about $504 million more in public services than they paid in taxes, without them, the Texas economy would shrink by 2.1 percent, or $17.7 billion. A full accounting of these folks would likely be show them to be an even bigger economic boon (especially since the employment participation rate of Latino men is higher than the native born, and their overall welfare use is lower).

Meanwhile, as Cruz and his ilk whine about the (exaggerated) welfare costs of immigrants, they act as if their own plans to erect the Great Wall of China on the Rio Grande would be costless. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Cruz wants to establish "100 percent operational control" of America's southern border by completing a double-layer fence on the entire 2,000 miles, tripling the size of the border patrol, and quadrupling the number of helicopters and cameras.

This is beyond ill conceived. First of all, 45 percent of all illegal immigrants are visa over-stayers. So Cruz's efforts are totally irrelevant for nearly half of America's illegal immigrants. What's more, even the Berlin Wall, the most fortified border in modern history, was successfully breached 1,000 times every year. That rate will be a gazillion times greater on America's southern border, which is not a barren, open expanse of land. In fact, it has a varied and rugged terrain with mountains and valleys and national parks (one the size of Rhode Island) and rivers that the wall will have to hop, skip, and jump around.

The Rio Grande has myriad tributaries that feed millions of people on both sides of the border. If Cruz's wall is anything like the current 18-foot-high structure with rust-red hollow posts sunk six inches apart in a concrete base, it will have to stop several miles short on each side to avoid damming the watershed, leaving major openings for people to walk through.

And what would a double-wall cost taxpayers?

It is very difficult to get a full grip, but the construction cost alone of a single-layer fence on the 1,300 or so unfenced miles would likely be upwards of $6 billion (assuming, as per a CBO study, pedestrian fencing costs of $6.5 million per mile and vehicle fencing costs of $1.7 million per mile). Annual maintenance costs would be hundreds of millions more.

Tripling the number of boots on the ground wouldn't be cheap either. President Obama has already deployed 20,000 border patrol agents, over twice more than he inherited. Tripling this number would cost a whopping $7 billion or so more a year since, according to the CBO, the annual cost of an agent is about $171,400.

And the bill in dollars pales in comparison to the price Americans will have to pay in lost liberties.

Conservatives are outraged when the government confiscates private property for environmental or other ends. Indeed, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, a vile man with retrograde views on race, became an instant conservative hero when he stood up to Uncle Sam and let his cattle graze on land that the federal government had, in his view, illicitly obtained. Yet Cruz and his ilk have no qualms about authorizing Uncle Sam to perpetrate an even bigger property grab in the name of their Swiss-cheese wall.

Over half of the recently constructed 700 miles of fence was on private property that Uncle Sam deployed blatant strong-arm tactics to obtain. It confiscated ancestral land that had been in families for over 200 years and offered virtually peanuts to Texas landowners who couldn't afford to hire expensive lawyers to duke it out with Uncle Sam in court. Oscar Ceballos, a part-owner of a small trucking business, recounts how a government lawyer went so far as to figure out how much his assets were worth to dissuade a free legal clinic from representing him in his fight against the government's ridiculously low-ball initial offer. Cruz's even grander wall ambitions will only compound such abuse.

Nor would Americans on the border be the only ones affected. The vast majority of undocumented workers are here because there are Americans, especially employers, who benefit from their presence. Hence, Cruz and his fellow anti-immigration fighters want to force all American employers to verify the work eligibility of potential hires — American or foreign, legal or illegal — against a federal database through E-verify. Should this program become mandatory, all Americans will be effectively required to obtain a government permission slip to work.

What's ironic about Cruz's crusade to build a wall between two free — and friendly — people, divert billions of taxpayer dollars to militarize the border, and abrogate the civil rights of Americans is that he is doing so while vowing to "stand for liberty."

If this is his idea of liberty, what would tyranny look like under President Cruz? (Don't answer that — I hope to never find out!)




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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 06:40 AM


Thank you, I enjoyed reading this and agree with the premise of the article.

Beyond that, I will NEVER, EVER vote for another president from Texas.

In my lifetime, it practically guarantees the initiation (Bush, Sr., Bush Jr.) or the escalation (LBJ) of an ill-advised war. Nothing is more expensive than the initial and secondary effects of putting "boots on the ground". Yes, the military and the costly benefits that ex-GIs receive (especially in medical care and benefits) is another entitlement program. It is earned by the GIs, but I hope we can continue to de-escalate this need.
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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 07:26 AM


"Securing the border" makes a great soundbite for politicians, but when we actually look beyond the rhetoric, much of what they propose is ridiculous and in the end just another empty promise. Ted Cruz is not stupid, and he knows none of this will ever happen, but it's surely good for a few votes.



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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 07:45 AM


Senator Ted Cruz for President!
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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 07:55 AM


David, I assume that since you are for Ted Cruz, you are also in favor of a big tax increase to pay for the massive expense of his border security and military build up plans?



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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 08:09 AM


Quote: Originally posted by monoloco  
David, I assume that since you are for Ted Cruz, you are also in favor of a big tax increase to pay for the massive expense of his border security and military build up plans?


Whatever it takes Monoloco! At east it will be spent to secure this country and make it safer place and not the other way around as it is being done now. A secure border and large military makes sense to me with what is going on in the world right now!
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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 08:15 AM


Quote: Originally posted by ELINVESTIG8R  
Quote: Originally posted by monoloco  
David, I assume that since you are for Ted Cruz, you are also in favor of a big tax increase to pay for the massive expense of his border security and military build up plans?


Whatever it takes Monoloco! At east it will be spent to secure this country and make it safer place and not the other way around as it is being done now. A secure border and large military makes sense to me with what is going on in the world right now!
Well, at least you are willing to pay for it. Most of the conservatives I talk to are happy to just put the expense onto their children and grandchildren.



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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 08:19 AM


Quote: Originally posted by monoloco  
Quote: Originally posted by ELINVESTIG8R  
Quote: Originally posted by monoloco  
David, I assume that since you are for Ted Cruz, you are also in favor of a big tax increase to pay for the massive expense of his border security and military build up plans?


Whatever it takes Monoloco! At east it will be spent to secure this country and make it safer place and not the other way around as it is being done now. A secure border and large military makes sense to me with what is going on in the world right now!
Well, at least you are willing to pay for it. Most of the conservatives I talk to are happy to just put the expense onto their children and grandchildren.


Of course I am happy to heap it on them if necessary to keep our country. If not, we probably will not have one to leave them!
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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 08:25 AM


Quote: Originally posted by monoloco  
"Securing the border" makes a great soundbite for politicians, but when we actually look beyond the rhetoric, much of what they propose is ridiculous and in the end just another empty promise. Ted Cruz is not stupid, and he knows none of this will ever happen, but it's surely good for a few votes.


EXACTAMENTE!!!

Boy will that get expensive when we decide to totally secure the Canadian border too! Then we will need to secure the West and East Coasts. Then we will need to secure from above (the sky - planes and drones) and from below (underground tunnels).

This is about as likely to happen as stopping the flow of drugs......

It's tax season...............when I cut my check to Uncle Sam, I think of all the stupid crap he's gonna spend it on. This issue being one of them..............



[Edited on 3-29-2015 by Ateo]




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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 08:33 AM


The people who are 'out to get us', feel that way because we are clearly 'out to get them'. Our bloated and wildly out of proportion military presence overseas has repeatedly been the central cause of our unpopularity world wide.

You are right about Texas. Why we fought the civil war is a mystery. The South should have been allowed to sink on it's own. As far as I can see, everything South of the Mason Dixon line is Tobacco Road and everything East of Denver is big cities, corn fields and flying monkeys.

Left Coast forever!
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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 08:42 AM


Quote: Originally posted by ELINVESTIG8R  
Quote: Originally posted by monoloco  
Quote: Originally posted by ELINVESTIG8R  
Quote: Originally posted by monoloco  
David, I assume that since you are for Ted Cruz, you are also in favor of a big tax increase to pay for the massive expense of his border security and military build up plans?


Whatever it takes Monoloco! At east it will be spent to secure this country and make it safer place and not the other way around as it is being done now. A secure border and large military makes sense to me with what is going on in the world right now!
Well, at least you are willing to pay for it. Most of the conservatives I talk to are happy to just put the expense onto their children and grandchildren.


Of course I am happy to heap it on them if necessary to keep our country. If not, we probably will not have one to leave them!
I think you are being a bit melodramatic there. Considering that we already have the largest and most powerful military on the planet, with the capability to completely annihilate any country that attacks us, who exactly is it that will make it so "we will probably not have one to leave them"? If our country is destroyed it is more likely to come from within than without, and will likely be related to fiscally irresponsible and unsustainable spending, of which, the defense/security budget is the largest offender.




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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 08:57 AM


Quote: Originally posted by monoloco  
Quote: Originally posted by ELINVESTIG8R  
Quote: Originally posted by monoloco  
Quote: Originally posted by ELINVESTIG8R  
Quote: Originally posted by monoloco  
David, I assume that since you are for Ted Cruz, you are also in favor of a big tax increase to pay for the massive expense of his border security and military build up plans?


Whatever it takes Monoloco! At east it will be spent to secure this country and make it safer place and not the other way around as it is being done now. A secure border and large military makes sense to me with what is going on in the world right now!
Well, at least you are willing to pay for it. Most of the conservatives I talk to are happy to just put the expense onto their children and grandchildren.


Of course I am happy to heap it on them if necessary to keep our country. If not, we probably will not have one to leave them!
I think you are being a bit melodramatic there. Considering that we already have the largest and most powerful military on the planet, with the capability to completely annihilate any country that attacks us, who exactly is it that will make it so "we will probably not have one to leave them"? If our country is destroyed it is more likely to come from within than without, and will likely be related to fiscally irresponsible and unsustainable spending, of which, the defense/security budget is the largest offender.


You are entitled to your opinion as I am mine. I will not be changing mine anytime soon.
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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 09:15 AM
the defense/security budget is the largest offender???


Let's see: Defense and Protection combined = 22% of 2016 budget; Welfare, Health Care and Pensions combined = 63%. Yea, I know that LIberlas believe that those are more important than Homeland Security and the military.





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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 09:26 AM


2016? didn't know we had a budget yet.


Author for the above numbers is Christopher Chantrill, a noted conservative writer.


[Edited on 3-29-2015 by rts551]
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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 09:43 AM


Quote: Originally posted by durrelllrobert  
Let's see: Defense and Protection combined = 22% of 2016 budget; Welfare, Health Care and Pensions combined = 63%. Yea, I know that LIberlas believe that those are more important than Homeland Security and the military.

Those simple pie charts leave a lot out. And yes some people have the silly notion that it's better to spend money on making our country more efficient, healthier, better educated, with less poverty, than projecting empire around the globe.

How Much Does Washington Spend on 'Defense'?
The nearly $1 trillion national security budget.

Chris Hellman and Mattea Kramer May 22, 2012


This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com.

Recent months have seen a flurry of headlines about cuts (often called “threats”) to the US defense budget. Last week, lawmakers in the House of Representatives even passed a bill that was meant to spare national security spending from future cuts by reducing school-lunch funding and other social programs.


Mattea Kramer and Chris Hellman
Here, then, is a simple question that, for some curious reason, no one bothers to ask, no less answer: How much are we spending on national security these days? With major wars winding down, has Washington already cut such spending so close to the bone that further reductions would be perilous to our safety?

In fact, with projected cuts added in, the national security budget in fiscal 2013 will be nearly $1 trillion—a staggering enough sum that it’s worth taking a walk through the maze of the national security budget to see just where that money’s lodged.

If you’ve heard a number for how much the United States spends on the military, it’s probably in the neighborhood of $530 billion. That’s the Pentagon’s base budget for fiscal 2013, and represents a 2.5 percent cut from 2012. But that $530 billion is merely the beginning of what the United States spends on national security. Let’s dig a little deeper.

The Pentagon’s base budget doesn’t include war funding, which in recent years has been well over $100 billion. With US troops withdrawn from Iraq and troop levels falling in Afghanistan, you might think that war funding would be plummeting as well. In fact, it will drop to a mere $88 billion in fiscal 2013. By way of comparison, the federal government will spend around $64 billion on education that same year.

Add in war funding, and our national security total jumps to $618 billion. And we’re still just getting started.

The US military maintains an arsenal of nuclear weapons. You might assume that we’ve already accounted for nukes in the Pentagon’s $530 billion base budget. But you’d be wrong. Funding for nuclear weapons falls under the Department of Energy (DOE), so it’s a number you rarely hear. In fiscal 2013, we’ll be spending $11.5 billion on weapons and related programs at the DOE. And disposal of nuclear waste is expensive, so add another $6.4 billion for weapons cleanup.

Now, we’re at $636 billion and counting.

How about homeland security? We’ve got to figure that in, too. There’s the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which will run taxpayers $35.5 billion for its national security activities in fiscal 2013. But there’s funding for homeland security squirreled away in just about every other federal agency as well. Think, for example, about programs to secure the food supply, funded through the US Department of Agriculture. So add another $13.5 billion for homeland security at federal agencies other than DHS.

That brings our total to $685 billion.

Then there’s the international affairs budget, another obscure corner of the federal budget that just happens to be jammed with national security funds. For fiscal 2013, $8 billion in additional war funding for Iraq and Afghanistan is hidden away there. There’s also $14 billion for what’s called “international security assistance”—that’s part of the weapons and training Washington offers foreign militaries around the world. Plus there’s $2 billion for “peacekeeping operations,” money US taxpayers send overseas to help fund military operations handled by international organizations and our allies.

That brings our national security total up to $709 billion.

We can’t forget the cost of caring for our nation’s veterans, including those wounded in our recent wars. That’s an important as well as hefty share of national security funding. In 2013, veterans programs will cost the federal government $138 billion.

That brings us to $847 billion—and we’re not done yet.

Taxpayers also fund pensions and other retirement benefits for non-veteran military retirees, which will cost $55 billion next year. And then there are the retirement costs for civilians who worked at the Department of Defense and now draw pensions and benefits. The federal government doesn’t publish a number on this, but based on the share of the federal workforce employed at the Pentagon, we can estimate that its civilian retirees will cost taxpayers around $21 billion in 2013.

By now, we’ve made it to $923 billion—and we’re finally almost done.

Just one more thing to add in, a miscellaneous defense account that’s separate from the defense base budget. It’s called “defense-related activities,” and it’s got $8 billion in it for 2013.

That brings our grand total to an astonishing $931 billion.

And this will turn out to be a conservative figure. We won’t spend less than that, but among other things, it doesn’t include the interest we’re paying on money we borrowed to fund past military operations; nor does it include portions of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration that are dedicated to national security. And we don’t know if this number captures the entire intelligence budget or not, because parts of intelligence funding are classified.

For now, however, that whopping $931 billion for fiscal year 2013 will have to do. If our national security budget were its own economy, it would be the nineteenth largest in the world, roughly the size of Australia’s. Meanwhile, the country with the next largest military budget, China, spends a mere pittance by comparison. The most recent estimate puts China’s military funding at around $136 billion.

Or think of it this way: National security accounts for one quarter of every dollar the federal government is projected to spend in 2013. And if you pull trust funds for programs like Social Security out of the equation, that figure rises to more than one third of every dollar in the projected 2013 federal budget.

Yet the House recently passed legislation to spare the defense budget from cuts, arguing that the automatic spending reductions scheduled for January 2013 would compromise national security. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said such automatic cuts, which would total around $55 billion in 2013, would be “disastrous” for the defense budget. To avoid them, the House would instead pull money from the National School Lunch Program, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicaid, food stamps and programs like the Social Services Block Grant, which funds Meals on Wheels, among other initiatives.

Yet it wouldn’t be difficult to find savings in that $931 billion. There’s plenty of low-hanging fruit, starting with various costly weapons systems left over from the Cold War, like the Virginia class submarine, the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, the missile defense program and the most expensive weapons system on the planet, the F-35 jet fighter. Cutting back or cancelling some of these programs would save billions of dollars annually.

In fact, Congress could find much deeper savings, but it would require fundamentally redefining national security in this country. On this issue, the American public is already several steps ahead of Washington. Americans overwhelmingly think that national security funding should be cut—deeply.

If lawmakers don’t pay closer attention to their constituents, we already know the alternative: pulling school-lunch funding.




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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 09:47 AM


Plus, the Health Care (28%) includes the VA Healthcare System, which is the largest healthcare system in the Country. Statisticians can make up any numbers game to suit their needs.




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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 10:01 AM


Quote: Originally posted by Hook  
Thank you, I enjoyed reading this and agree with the premise of the article.

Beyond that, I will NEVER, EVER vote for another president from Texas.



I thought Ted Cruz was born in Canada (to an American mother working there)?




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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 10:02 AM


Nothing mentioned here about the "Black Budget". Google it. Or Black Projects. Or Gov't building underground bases. None of that is shown in Military budgets or Defense budgets.
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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 10:31 AM
Here's some current data from the 2014 budget



www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258



Policy Basics: Where Do Our Federal Tax Dollars Go?
PDF of this Policy Basic (4pp.)
Updated March 11, 2015
In fiscal year 2014, the federal government spent $3.5 trillion, amounting to 20 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Of that $3.5 trillion, over $3.0 trillion was financed by federal revenues. The remaining amount ($485 billion) was financed by borrowing. As the chart below shows, three major areas of spending each make up about one-fifth of the budget:

Social Security: Last year, 24 percent of the budget, or $851 billion, paid for Social Security, which provided monthly retirement benefits averaging $1,329 to 39.0 million retired workers in December 2014. Social Security also provided benefits to 2.3 million spouses and children of retired workers, 6.1 million surviving children and spouses of deceased workers, and 10.9 million disabled workers and their eligible dependents in December 2014.

Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and marketplace subsidies: Four health insurance programs — Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Affordable Care Act marketplace subsidies together accounted for 24 percent of the budget in 2014, or $836 billion. Nearly two-thirds of this amount, or $511 billion, went to Medicare, which provides health coverage to around 54 million people who are over the age of 65 or have disabilities. The remainder of this category funds Medicaid and CHIP, which in a typical month provide health care or long-term care to about 70 million low-income children, parents, elderly people, and people with disabilities. Both Medicaid and CHIP require matching payments from the states.

Defense and international security assistance: Another 18 percent of the budget, or $615 billion, paid for defense and security-related international activities. The bulk of the spending in this category reflects the underlying costs of the Defense Department. The total also includes the cost of supporting operations in Afghanistan and other related activities, described as Overseas Contingency Operations in the budget, funding for which totaled $92 billion in 2014.

Two other categories together account for another fifth of federal spending:
Safety net programs: About 11 percent of the federal budget in 2014, or $370 billion, supported programs that provide aid (other than health insurance or Social Security benefits) to individuals and families facing hardship. Spending on safety net programs declined in both nominal and real terms between 2013 and 2014 as the economy continued to improve.

These programs include: the refundable portions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, which assist low- and moderate-income working families through the tax code; programs that provide cash payments to eligible individuals or households, including Supplemental Security Income for the elderly or disabled poor and unemployment insurance; various forms of in-kind assistance for low-income families and individuals, including SNAP (food stamps), school meals, low-income housing

assistance, child care assistance, and assistance in meeting home energy bills; and various other programs such as those that aid abused and neglected children.

Such programs keep millions of people out of poverty each year. A CBPP analysis using Census’ Supplemental Poverty Measure shows that government safety net programs kept some 39 million people out of poverty in calendar year 2013. Without any government income assistance, either from safety net programs or other income supports like Social Security, the poverty rate would have been 28.1 percent in 2013, nearly double the actual 15.5 percent.

Interest on the national debt: The federal government must make regular interest payments on the money it has borrowed to finance past deficits — that is, on the national debt held by the public, which reached nearly $13 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2014. In 2014, these interest payments claimed $229 billion, or about 7 percent of the budget.

As the chart above shows, the remaining fifth of federal spending goes to support a wide variety of other public services. These include providing health care and other benefits to veterans and retirement benefits to retired federal employees, assuring safe food and drugs, protecting the environment, and investing in education, scientific and medical research, and basic infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and airports. A very small slice — about 1 percent of the total budget — goes to non-security programs that operate internationally, including programs that provide humanitarian aid.

While critics often decry “government spending,” it is important to look beyond the rhetoric and determine whether the actual public services that government provides are valuable. To the extent that such services are worth paying for, the only way to do so is ultimately with tax revenue. Consequently, when thinking about the costs that taxes impose, it is essential to balance those costs against the benefits the nation receives from public services.







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[*] posted on 3-29-2015 at 10:43 AM


Quote: Originally posted by monoloco  
Well, at least you are willing to pay for it. Most of the conservatives I talk to are happy to just put the expense onto their children and grandchildren.
Conservatives are spending their children's future? It was the current administration that has more than tripled the National Debt.



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Desert Hawks; El Rosario-based ambulance transport; Emergency #: (616) 103-0262