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Commentary by Congressman Lester Wolff (Ret)

July 23rd, 2015



As an old pol I am amazed at the lack of understanding by the political pundits of the TRUMP phenomena.

Talking heads on TV seemed baffled by the poll results showing the Trumpeting Don leading the pack of Republicans.


I have great faith in the sagacity of the American people. The numbers this buffoon has achieved, I feel certain, do not reflect support for him, but do reflect disgust and disdain of the establishment and how the present leadership and the plethora of candidates have attacked the real problems we face today.

Trump is transposing the “you’re fired” theatrics into the political arena. The American people are tired of politicians who have double talked them to despair. Trump is a “None of the above” response and the Dancing Don is the vehicle that is driving the polls.

Instead of the Republican leadership wringing their hands and answering Trump’s idiotic charges, it should be a wakeup call. And that goes for the Democrats as well.









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Commentary by Congressman Lester Wolff (Ret)

July 18th, 2014

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The political message is jobs, but the messengers of both parties seem to have no idea as to how to provide them.

Two elements must be taken as a given.

Government can provide some jobs, but this solution is akin to the role of the pick-pocket who misdirects your attention while he dips his hand into your pocket to purloin your jewels. The point here is that there is a long term cost to this, a Band-Aid on the cancer of the overhanging debt and the fact that it only adds to the underlying danger to our basic economic foundation.

As for the private sector providing the jobs, there is no way a prudent businessman is going to add jobs that compromise his productivity or profit. 

Business is not either a philanthropic or private welfare organization.
The realistic assessment of the jobs picture is that if there are potentials, the private sector and the marketplace will flow to fill the need. Where we seem to get lost is we are too consumer oriented and not enough sales oriented.

My father used to tell me “when business is bad you can’t make money by just cutting expenses. You can cut losses that way, but to increase your ability to make a profit you must increase your sales. However, if you only increase your sales to yourself you are not achieving your mission to make a profit. You must sell to others.

So it is with government. I am reminded of a talk I had with people from a trade center in Taiwan who were briefing a Congressional mission. He told us “when a Japanese trade mission comes here it is composed of 90% sales people trying to promote Japanese goods and 10% of the group are buyers. When an American mission comes here it is composed just the opposite 90% buyers and 10 % sellers.”

This thinking must be reversed. We must aggressively sell American wares to the world There is a market out there for American products and American services 

Its time we take advantage of the demand for American goods and services . Talk to the people in the street in Asia or Europe; American products have a cache that is waiting to be recognized.

If we want to create new jobs, let’s go for the international market with a series of sales oriented private sector trade missions composed of a mix of small and big businesses.

Small business in the US is not oriented to international sales. We must provide a training exercise for small businessmen and women to learn how they can really engage in the international arena. Forums, training sessions and yes aggressive financing to help the small businessman who are not financially able to sustain a program on their own.

In the days when comity was the norm in Congress, Senator Jack Javits (a Republican) and I (a Democrat) set up the framework of a private business initiative that ultimately created the basic elements of the Overseas Private Investment Corp - OPIC (not to be confused with OPEC). This original idea was corrupted by big business which squeezed out small businesses who were not sufficiently educated to take advantage of the program. OPIC reoriented can become a job engine.

You might say that we already have in place these facilities. But here is where we have fallen down. Many of these existing entities are latent lazy and political. 

If we energize the American business community to the potential that exists out there and it produces the business that awaits, we can produce jobs for which there is a need and not an artificial stimulus that produces a political platform that political folk can stand on rather than one they can hide under.




My Way Back Machine

"I want to go back .Yes, to the “good ole days” when pressing my face against the glass display cabinet, ogling those luscious tidbits I had a myriad of choices of penny candy. I never even imagined an anemic Hershey bar for 2 dollars, or a 25 cent ticket to a comfortable seat in a neighborhood vaudeville show where the comic got his laughs from one liners with nary an expletive and without having to toque up for a concert in a bruising amphitheater listening to earsplitting music jargon from a rusty throated jumping jack who would have gotten the hook from Major Bowes.

You might say I am just an old codger whose finger doesn't fit an iPhone or who can’t fathom Microsoft e-mail but truly I did enjoy getting what today you’d call snail mail delivered 3 times a day 6 days a week

Yes, and then there was a season for all sports, not the overlap that has you surfing the channels to catch glimpses of the world series counterpoised against Saturday night football and the NBA .

Talking about seasons, our neighborhood greengrocer had fresh wholesome seasonal food not doctored by preservatives that have driven people to the organic section of the local supermarket

Hey, doctors made house calls and you didn't have to sit in the waiting room reading outdated magazines until 2 o’clock for the physician to see you for an appointment you had made for noon. We had no Medicare then ,but families took care of their own.

But then again “ DOC” the family general practitioner whose advice gave you his full attention not the 30 seconds allotted to you by an insurance company mandate.

While we’re at personal service How about talking to a real person to answer your queries instead of a machine or instead of some person in India whose attempt at English confounds even a linguist.

I paid $10 a point at NYU. I didn't have a $50,000 or $100,000 debt when I got out

Yesterday I paid $100 at the gas station to fill my tank …..when in yesteryear I told the attendant to fill me up for$5 and I didn't have to pump the gas myself .I will have to pay about $4,000 to fill the 1,000 gal tank for my heating yet it's the same gas and oil that ran my car and heated my home only a couple of decades ago

Where did the 5 cent cup of coffee go Starbucks surely keeps to its name with its 3 bucks Capuchino …… And where did the White Castle 25 cent hamburger go , a new more fanciful hamburger was recently heralded by some snobbery at $100 a pop. And how about that 5 cent cigar

Oh, there are so many scientific breakthroughs that have given us longevity and certain conveniences. But at what cost. We have lost the personal touch in our lives, the feel, that someone cares We have given over our life style to the machine and their robotic answers

Maybe I’m getting old but I do want to remind YOU those good ole days were not so bad"



You owe me !!!

I fought wars to give you the freedoms you now enjoy
I fought oppression to ensure your human rights
I carried you on my back to the moon after engineering through generations of tedious experiments (without the advantages of systems you now take for granted ) to provide technology that is the foundation of the internet and the information age by which you now live.
I suffered famine and crippling epidemics whose solutions give you a prolonged life
I walked the picket lines and suffered bangs and bruises to give you one of the finest workplaces in the world
I worked to eliminate harmful enterprises despoiling our environment to give you water you can drink and air for you to breathe (not all of us did that)
I paid my dues for your today.


It’s payup time

Don’t let misguided politicos manipulate you to defer what are today called entitlements by projecting doleful images of the future.


We have an IOU that is outstanding 
 We are those who came before you and provided the foundation for what you enjoy today . 
 We ARE entitled
   THE “EX” GENERATION “ 
  Seniors all


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Commentary by Congressman Lester Wolff (Ret)

Regardless of how you approach the “cliffhanger” , it all comes down to politics and how to overcome political intransigence and those doomsday obstructionist naysayers to achieve a solution for the real problems of jobs , the deficit .long and short term solutions and political survival . We have had enough of those “elected and self elected “whose crystal balls have shattered and are now Humpty Dumptys .

 It is with “tongue in cheek”,( or maybe not “tongue in cheek”), that I offer up as an immediate solution A proposal by the President to couple his program of tax reform with a return to “earmarks” on a grand scale. Yes, many might say this is a hair brained idea but “who is there among you that shall cast the first stone “. 

Let no one be mislead , I do not question the patriotic motivations of Members . However, deep down, many have survival as a prime concern and by trying to dig their heels in and demagogue they solidify their constituent appeal . It is with this underpinning I suggest a program package including the Presidents tax proposal of tax reform and allocating $100 million to each congressional district for infrastructure improvements, ( and infrastructure alone, creating value ) contracted out and channeled through the private sector (similar to how we spend our defense dollars ) . It would be costly… ( 43.5 billion dollars), but it would answer many of the immediate problems we face and provide ,if properly administered (and that I question ) a move toward the long term vehicle for debt reduction.

This achieves Job creation making taxpayers out of dependency( the unemployed ) with a sufficient commercial appeal that would also rebuild our decaying infrastructure and make the Members “ an offer they can’t refuse” If they did, we can go directly to the congressional constituents and give them the choice of their Congressman or direct local attention to their community

This is not “kicking the can down the road” but is a realistic realpolitik approach, providing a mechanism for immediate economic stabilization and the foundation of long term stability

Will anyone listen ? Perhaps not . But someone who has been there ………. I was a Member for 8 terms and I don't want to give the impression that survival was my motivation ) there were always some who leaned over to me and said “hey if you vote for that you will not be reelected. )has to give voice to an underlying obstacle that is truly difficult to surmount.  



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