February 6, 2009 on 5:17 pm | In Politics of Government Contracting | 2 Comments

Happy Birthday Ron. That’s right. It is Ronald Reagan’s birthday. He was originally a Democrat, but in 1962 he noted that he had not left the Democratic Party – the party had left him. Do you wonder what he would think of the situation in his beloved California where state employee furloughs began today to save money? Or of the current world order, so different than what he brought about by causing Mr. Gorbachev to take down the wall?

And of the current “stimulus” package I suspect he would be staunchly on the right in this debate. He, after all, inherited Jimmy Carter’s financial debacle (which contrary to what you hear in the popular media WAS the worst financial situation since the Great Depression – not the current economic slide.) And he recovered in record time by reducing taxes and making government smaller. During his tenure we created 19 million new jobs. Yes. 19 million. And he got America her respect back after the Viet Nam war, not by coddling dictators and European socialists. But by standing up to them. We do seem to be on a different track today.

Are you old enough to remember the Savings and Loan crisis of 1986? Do you recall that we citizens were shocked and appalled that the federal government was going to take $8 billion of our hard-earned dollars paid in taxes to bail out the thrifts? Even adjusting for inflation, that number pales in comparison to the $750 billion already expended, coupled to the $800 to 900 billion that is now under consideration. What it must be like to be able to spend with wanton abandon knowing that you can just tax the people more to replenish the coffers. Would Reagan approve? Of course not.

But we don’t have the Gipper around any more. We have his legacy and his words – spoken so eloquently on so many occasions. He once said, “As government expands, liberty contracts.” We are on the cusp of change, as we were promised. And we can be sure that it is not a change with which Ron would agree. We can only wait and see if this approach can work as well as his did. Either way, improved economy or giant increase in government spending – those of us who know government contracting are in for a very busy time.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

January 26, 2009 on 10:47 am | In Politics of Government Contracting | Comments Off

It is a matter of some interests that the Supreme Court today issued five opinions that are essentially all unanimous decisions. The variety of cases (criminal law, trade, ERISA, and retaliation under sexual harassment laws) usually sees a split among the “conservative” and the “liberal” sides of the bench. Not so today. Does this harbinger a new-found discipline by Chief Justice Roberts? Perhaps the SCOTUS has decided to also adopt the concept of “change” in their decisions. Or more likely – it’s just one of those days when the “easy” cases with which they all agree are easier to get reviewed and published. Hard to say from this perspective.

Each of the cases proceeded in the usual manner through the lower courts and the decisions were not decided the same way by each court that reviewed them. So there was clearly an opportunity for a divergence of opinion on the issues. Police were given additional powers during a traffic stop, dumping was determined to exist despite the attempt to separate “goods” and “service” contracts, and prosecutorial immunity for certain acts was upheld.

Much has been written lately about the new administration and what the concept of “change” really means. Some pundits say that it is socialism in sheep’s clothing; some say it is a needed divergence from the “illegal” actions of the Bush administration. It is interesting that when a bad liberal president leaves office, (i.e. Carter), he does so with the respect of the opposing party, yet when a perceived “bad” conservative president leaves, he is booed and jeered at the inauguration. So much of “reaching across the aisle” as the incoming president chose to not criticize the unruly, disrespectful crowd. Some say that our republic is in danger of failing. Some say the current president is not constitutionally qualified; some say he is not experientially qualified. Whatever.

The fact is that we have three branches of government. The Legislative side continues to show its utter dysfunctionality regardless of which party is in power and continues to have the lowest public perception ever recorded. The votes for president are, on a rough order of magnitude, evenly divided. So the only independent voice of reason left is that of the courts, and ultimately the Supreme Court. It is good, although of minimal comfort in the grand scheme of things, to see that at least these nine people of different backgrounds and ideologies can reach unanimous decisions on such a broad array of issues. There is hope for out republic. Despite change.

Welcome to OUR New President

January 20, 2009 on 8:55 am | In Politics of Government Contracting | Comments Off

As I write this our new president is taking the oath of office. By the time I am done, we will have a new president. I use the terms “our” and “we” because under the American system of government we undertake a national revolution every four years – a revolution without the shooting and recriminations. We cede power to the popularly elected individual and the outgoing “regime” hands over the reins. Not every one agrees that this was the best choice for our country, but that does not matter. He was elected by the people of the states, the electoral college voted for him, and today he takes the oath of office. He is the president of the United States of America.

It is no secret that I do not support most of his views. I think he is simply wrong on abortion, the economy, socialism, and international affairs. I am intrigued how far left he was during the primaries, how centrist he moved (relatively) during the election, and how his initial selections for his cabinet have shown a continued drift to center. Maybe he will fool me. I actually hope he does because we cannot withstand another president like Carter, or for that matter Clinton. When Bush was elected through the same process in 2000, the far left screamed that he “stole” the election. I suppose there are a lot of ways to steal an election and I believe that organizations like ACORN are quite adept at doing so. But Bush won according to the rules, and the third branch of government ratified it. There was nothing illegal about it. Of course there are lingering questions about Obama’s citizenship. There is testimony that a court would find credible of those who claim to have been present at his birth in Kenya. This potential illegitimacy says nothing about the man or his views. It does say a great deal about how we view our constitution. If he was born in Hawaii, then there is no issue. If his parent’s declaration of his Indonesian citizenship was a fraud, an error, or his American citizenship was reclaimed, then there is no problem. But I confess that I do find it curious that the simple production of a single piece of paper would resolve this issue once and for all. So I do question a man’s judgment when rather than produce the record, he hires a bevy of lawyers to fight the court case. It does cause lingering questions.

So what if he is an “illegal” president? What if he is, constitutionally, unqualified? I’m not sure that matters once he is sworn in. He will be “our” president. I truly dislike the un-American jerks who touted bumper stickers saying “Bush is not MY President.” Yes he was. You were just too childish to accept it. Now it’s Obama. I’m not happy about it, but I care enough for America to wish him stunning success as the leader of the free world – a world that is much freer today than it was eight years ago. I truly hope that he leaves a similar legacy.

What does this have to do with government contracting? A lot actually. The Federal government is going to spend a great deal of money in the next few years. Some of it will be give-aways. Some of it will be public works money. And some of it will be the usual expenditures necessary to keep our government running. Some 480 Billion dollars worth each year just in procurements. Whether you support specific federal programs or not, there is tremendous opportunity for the business community. There is even greater opportunity if you fit within one of the various preference programs established by the government to encourage participation in the process by various preference groups. There is reason for hope. Maybe not in the manner touted during the campaign speeches, but hope nonetheless. Here at CCS we will do our part to make sure the procurement process works as it should. That the rules are followed. And that our clients have the best advantage in the competitive marketplace. Who sits as Commander in Chief is less important than that our American system of justice, government, and capitalist economy continues to thrive. And I am definitely on board that train of thought.

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