Book 3 Chapter 8
The kids were late getting up and it gave us time to get filled in on all the things they were doing. The list had been expanded several times and was still growing. I listened and cringed at some of them. I could just see the subpoenas from the alphabet federal agencies.
”You have run all this by the corporate lawyers and other specialists, haven’t you?” I asked.
”We are doing everything by the book and they have approved each step,” Marcy replied.
”OK,” I said.
By the time they were finished, the kids were up, ready for breakfast and another day of playing. Breakfast took nearly an hour between the lack of staff and kids unable to make up their mind on what they wanted. I told my mates and the kids that I had a few things to do but would be back in a bit.
Washington was dead this time of a morning on a holiday. With a few Secret Service agents and Ziva, Abra and Farah and one White House photographer, we rode to the Tomb of the Unknown in four of the GSA Suburbans. We were a few minutes early so I got to watch a lot more. We were the only ones there.
I stood at attention and counted every step and mentally timed every turn. It was a solemn few minutes; no one said anything. I watched the changing of the guard as I had done so many times. Other than a few Secret Service, no one knew that I came here late at night to clear my head and keep my thinking going in the right direction.
After a few minutes watching the new guard I asked to be taken to the cemetery where so many American soldiers were buried. I walked the rows to Betty’s grave. I had the row and numbers memorized and placed several small flowers by the marker. They would be gone on Monday when the caretakers made the rounds. I said a prayer while on my knees by the cross. I could hear the photographer’s camera clicking, even though he was well away. I wish he wouldn’t but there needed to be a record, or so they said.
Thirty minutes later I was back in the Oval Office. I glanced at the intelligence updates and then went back to my family. On the floor I played with the kids and talked with my mates.
There were no fires that needed to be put out anywhere in the world that I could do anything about. The Christian population in Iran celebrated its first Christmas without the heavy hand of an oppressive Muslim government restricting them.
In Egypt several Christian churches were attacked. It was the same every year and Christian holiday. The government promised swift action, but no one was ever arrested or prosecuted.
The same happened in several other countries in Africa. Some things in the world never changed. Just the places, dates and times.
Marcy and Jenny had brought the checks that gave away the forty million that I received as my share from the sale of JBG to TSCIC. They were certified checks drawn on my Midwest Bank account. Even so, I needed to sign them.
Ten million went to the Shriners Children’s Hospital, another ten million went to St Jude Children’s Hospital and eight million went into an account to buy food for the Nimule refugee camp. I would match all the donations from the public or finish out a C5 load.
The rest was divided among the three volunteer fire companies that always helped at Morton Field and the one on Chincoteague Island where Uncle John’s beach house is that we used from time to time.
The animal lovers had finally stopped the annual pony penning and sale that was their major fund raiser. They had petitioned the National Park Service and protested while including false adds that the adopted ponies were being mistreated. The liberals had caved in and forced the Department of Interior to shut it down.
The penning and sale were to control the size of the herd. The Island could only sustain a certain number of wild horses. Everyone who bought one had to prove they could financially care for the pony and had an approved place for them to stay. But it didn’t matter.
What the animal lovers didn’t know was that all the stallions had now been neutered. In a few years – as they died of old age – there would be no wild horses on the island.
There was always someone from the city that just had to ignore the signs and tried to pet the wild horses or crawl into the corals to get a better picture or to feed them. They always ended up kicked, bit and hurt and it was always the horse’s fault. No horses – no problem.
All of recipients had to sign a nondisclosure form that they could not discuss or make any statements about who the donor was. I wanted it to be totally anonymous. Two lawyers were going to deliver the checks before the end of the year and explain the form.
We had discussed in depth about me giving the money away. There were no objections from the girls; we had beautiful children and each year it was heartbreaking during the holidays to see the children needing so much help in the fund drives. With all that Marcy was doing and had planned, we would be anything but poor.
With all that out of the way we had more family time. In two days we would be back on Summers Lane for the family Christmas gift opening over the weekend.
We left Washington late Friday afternoon, the girls and kids in two JBG Helicopters and the White House team in three Marine helicopters. I had to land at Morton while the girls landed behind the office.
The supper that was waiting for us had been made by the chefs. Tomorrow I was going to spend time in the gym, much to the dismay of the agents that had been assigned to work out with me.
Some of the boys and girl’s toys were left at the White House for them to play with when they were there. Most were brought home to join the collection they already had. This year’s gifts were loaded up with educational toys for JJ and RJ. Takeo and Sara got toys to play with.
We had plenty of time to play with the kids together now that we were forced to have a Secret Service cook. I had no idea that cooking and dishes took that much time out of the day.
We planned another vacation to Deep Water Cay at the end of February. That would give me two months to work with the new Congress and my agenda for the first year.
Sunday came and went, the family time was well enjoyed by all. The kids had too many toys to play with and more clothes they would out grow long before they were worn out.
Monday, I alone went back to Washington after spending time with Andy and Robert and long goodbyes with the family and the kids. There were a million things still to do in the JBG organization. Marcy was working on the business change and that was keeping everyone busy.
Vicky was still working short the one thousand security people that had been that had been contracted to the State Department and DOD as interpreters. There were still thirty days on the original contract and both agencies had requested a sixty day extension. Ching Lee was short several hundred from the college security division.
Time was running out on the planning and zoning to deny the permits for the two projects. I hadn’t thought about the timing, but with the holidays thrown in there were only sixteen working days in the thirty day window they had to approve or reject. Two public hearings were scheduled in the next ten day period.
There had been no raging ‘fire and brimstone’ letters in the letters to the editor in Elmo’s paper and that was surprising. It was a different story in the papers from Baltimore and Annapolis.
Baltimore and Anne Arundel county were a different story. Both county commissions were threatening lawsuits to stop construction if the county approved the projects. They were being pushed by the ‘Save the Bay Foundation’ and the Baltimore construction unions – plumbing, electrical, stone and iron workers.
Those unions had no special influence in the county like they did on the western shore. ‘No union approval’ over there was the kiss of death for a project. The commissioners were scared of the unions on the western shore; not over here.
All the commissioners were re-elected in our county and I knew what they thought of the unions.
Janet Ashworthy – the EPA design engineer certified by the EPA – had done all the sewage studies of the county sewage plant. She designed the expansion that would be needed and we had agreed to pay for. She had also done the studies on the ground water necessary for the water tower that we were going to pay for.
Those studies were delivered to the county environmental department and the planning and zoning department the day after we made the presentation.
On Monday my office was full from the opening bell. The agency was watching another new terrorist group making noise in Somalia and Ethiopia. NSA and the CIA wanted me to authorize getting a more detailed intelligence gathering put in place. Of course, they wanted help from the JBG embassy people, Robert and Andy.
I wondered if they were self-funded, or who was funding them. For me that was the most important thing, without money they would have to resort to kidnapping and ransom attacks. That would supply intelligence so we could find them over time.
Vice President Harrison and I worked on my administration’s agenda for the first year. On January fifth the new House and Senate members would be sworn in. Most had been contacted by my staff expressing the need to meet soon.
Thursday I went back home, I was going to spend the New Year at home with my family. This year we had planned a New Year’s party. We wanted to close out the last year and all its problems and to welcome in the New Year with the promise of a better one.
On January second, I was back in the Oval Office and there was a fire storm brewing in the liberal media. The budget had been signed just days before Christmas and it contained the negotiated cuts in spending and tax increase. The IRS had sent e-mails to all professional tax preparers with the forms and instructions to use for all the tax forms they prepared.
The IRS also did a blanket mailing of the forms and instructions to all tax payers that were delivered before January 1 so all those early birds that planned to file their taxes to get fast refunds in January had the necessary forms.
The tax wasn’t going to apply to anyone with a net worth less than five billion anyhow, but to make the tax legal, everyone had to fill out the new form and attach it to the 1040 form. That was the first thing to hit the media.
The next thing to hit was the finalized budget with all the cuts that that Congress and I had agreed on. Right off the top was the cuts to entitlements, the first being unemployment benefits.
The budget cuts finally ended the boosted unemployment rates from the decade past pandemic. Congress could never bring themselves to do it and I twisted their arms and made them do it by adding sweeteners.
The unemployment benefit hadn’t been updated for years and was based on a seven dollar and ninety five cent minimum wage. Minimum wage was now sixteen dollars an hour and the new formula was to be fifty percent of six hundred and forty dollars a week. That was a weekly benefit of three hundred and twenty a week if you were unemployed. It eliminated the federal higher rate and continuous extensions.
The added kicker in the new rules was one could only draw unemployment benefits for two years and then they were ended. It was a return to the pre-pandemic rules for that section.
There were many millions of people still drawing the pandemic boosted benefit years later. Yet, there were millions of help wanted ads for the job market. Free money was addicting as any drug.
Other cuts were coming in handouts for immigrants in the form of the length of time they were able to draw from the programs. There were individuals that had been getting money for ten and a some as many as twenty years.
The new rule was two years and then the money was cut fifty percent for the final and third year of eligibility. They came here for a better life, it was time to go to work and earn it. After three years – if they could not make it – it was time to go back to their home country.
I had pushed for the time limits to motivate them become a true part of America or leave, the free ride was over. Practically all of them were going to experience the fifty percent cut starting January one.
The JBG Mexican security zone had all but eliminated illegal crossings at the southern border. The new game was to fly from Mexico City to Canada and come across the northern border. Canada was being tough on the process by forcing the airlines to only allow passengers to book flights into Canada with round trip tickets and no refunds.
The next big announcement was the DOD had agreed to reduce the size of the military by cutting active troop numbers and close twenty percent of the military bases in two years. The target plan was fifty billion the first year with one hundred billion in cuts at the end of the second year and thereafter.
The Navy had already provided twenty billion with the cancellation of the last Fordson carrier, the necessary crew and complete air wing.
The first complete list of candidates for base closings was to be out in sixty days. West coast training facilities and bases were on the cutting block because of the high cost and political opposition. The Washington state Bremerton Navy yard was going to take a major hit in a couple of ways. They were going to lose one of the two task forces stationed there – and possibly both – with those being shifted west. One went to Russia and the other to the Philippines. California was losing both task forces as it was reassigned to the Philippines or Guam.
The bases themselves were terribly expensive to operate because of all the lunatic laws and rules the fruitcakes had passed. That insanity was multiplied by the high cost of support services from the local area to the bases.
Germany was going to lose four military bases and the UK was going to lose an equal number. These eight were to be eliminated by consolidation. The plan was to keep the bases under a new standby plan yet to be fully developed.
There were to be cuts in other agencies as well. The EPA was losing billions in funding and were going to be forced to streamline policies and procedures as well as elimination of thousands of rules and regulations that were decades past outdated.
The Agriculture Department was going to take hits as well. The liberals had turned the department into an entitlement agency instead of an organization that was to help farmers continue to grow food for the nation.
Twenty years ago, each American farmer was producing enough food to feed two hundred people. All the recent regulations from different agencies had reduced that to less than one hundred. Our nation was growing and we needed to produce more food ourselves without depending heavily on imports.
The Department of Energy was another one to get cuts. The heavy subsidies for solar and wind was ended. Thirty years was enough at the money trough. I had cut the funding by fifty percent last year and the new budget ended all the subsides.
The division that oversaw electric generation was filled with anti-anything generation of green environmentalists. A shakeup in the rules and procedures was coming like a freight train.
The reserve generation capacity we once had was gone. Many areas were heading towards rolling blackouts in severe cold and high heat summer seasons. We needed the reserve back desperately – we needed dependable electricity for manufacturing and our homes as a necessity.
I was determined there would not be the rolling blackouts that had become the normal in third world countries and California during the brush fire season.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission was getting a shakeup as well in the form of a major house cleaning. The anti-nuke administrators appointed and hired by previous administrations were going to be terminated.
They had signed their pink slips after the utilities that I had met with delivered the evidence of complaints and the NRC’s tactics. My new investigative branch was already putting the cases together.
Another change was coming in grants to the states. Instead of getting lump sum grants from the federal government for education, road building and other federal aid, it was going to be in twelve monthly increments.
Teachers didn’t get paid a lump sum – a year’s salary – they got paid weekly or bi-weekly, so why give the states the year’s worth of money at one time. The same was true for road and bridges. Contractors got paid based on percentages of completed work so why give the state a complete check for the project up front. If the project was a four year project, the contractor was paid over the four year period.
With Marcy’s guidance the White House budget people were able to find out how the states were playing that game. The states were taking the lump sum payments and putting them in their investment accounts withdrawing the funding as needed.
The federal government was borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars at a time to be able to do the lump sum grants. Under the new budget the Treasury Department was permitted to split the grants up by each month. It would give the financial markets more stability and save millions of interest on the national debt.
It would also allow the Treasury to monitor more closely the actual needs instead of just a wild ass guess and then borrowing the money. If Congress thought there was money, they wanted to spend it. With the changes in the revenue and the reductions in agencies, there may be times that the Treasury wouldn’t need to borrow at all or nearly nothing.
The states were not happy and were letting everyone know it. It was an Oh-well, tough luck thing in my opinion.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.