Friday, April 29, 2011

Birthers And Trump

Sorry for the last few days' of delinquency. Work has been quite literally insane, evenings have been packed, and I got a new computer that I've been trying to put into shape. Blogging just hasn't been in the cards, but I'll try to get back into the swing of things.

One of the biggest things that has happened in the last couple of days is that Barack Obama finally released his long-form birth certificate. As far as I'm concerned, it's pretty much irrelevant -- and became so on January 20th of 2008 -- because whether or not Barack Obama truly is a natural born American citizen (as the Constitution requires) isn't nearly as important as his policies and what he has done as President. Seriously, think about it - what if we find 100% ironclad proof that he was born in Kenya. So what? Just because everything he's done instantly becomes legally invalid doesn't change reality. The fact that we have Obamacare, unemployment near 10%, new trillions of dollars of national debt, government ownership of huge swaths of private insurance/car companies and banks, skyrocketing gas prices, troops in three wars, and absolutely no leadership credibility on any issue of foreign policy...none of that changes one bit, so to me it's an irrelevant question.

But...some people have really gotten fixated on it, and it's remained a political hot button issue. In recent weeks, Donald Trump grabbed the issue and pounded it to pieces. Amazingly, he got results, and for the first time in almost three years Obama has released his birth certificate. It will be interesting to see if there is any professional analysis done on it to thoroughly test its validity. After all, one might reasonably ask why it took them three years to release it. One equally reasonable answer is that, well, it takes time to create a really good forgery. ;)

Anyway, after forcing the issue with the birth certificate, the Donald is now calling for Obama to release his college records. This, too, was quite the controversy, for a couple of reasons. First, Obama's papers, thesis, and other records would undoubtedly prove very enlightening on his philosophy and motivations. Again, this would have been incredibly useful before the election. At this point, we have more than enough real world evidence of Obama's philosophy and motivation, and at this point we really don't need this documentation. The other reason people want this information is that Obama's transcripts and financial records from college might show one very interesting fact: whether or not Barack Obama enrolled and/or sought financial aid as an American citizen or a foreign national.

Again, to me, this is irrelevant now. But hey, go for it, Mr. Trump. If nothing else, it'll be very interesting to watch the fireworks.

The White House is saying it's not going to happen, but the predictably reliable liberals in the media are now attacking Trump, already calling him a racist.

All this is mildly amusing and interesting, but I do think there are a couple extremely relevant things that we can learn here. First, look at a recent Rasmussen poll of what GOP voters think of potential GOP candidates:

Republican primary voters at this early stage of the game now give billionaire developer Donald Trump the edge over presumptive favorites Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee in the race to be the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2012.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters finds Trump with 19% support, just ahead of the former governors, Massachusetts’ Romney at 17% and Arkansas’ Huckabee with 15%.

Does that send a shiver down your spine, too? Donald Trump is leading the GOP pack of candidates?? WHAT?! Since when is this guy a Republican, much less a fiscal conservative? The guy declares bankruptcy with his companies as a strategic move whenever he feels it's necessary, and he utilizes every possible loophole and economic foible he can find to make himself more profitable. I read somewhere (unfortunately, I didn't get the link) this week that his history of campaign donations shows vastly more support for Dems than Reps. Good thing this is a way-too-early measure of GOP support, because if this guy ends up being the GOP nominee, we're finished.


We must ask ourselves why Trump is doing so well, right? Sure, he's got huge name recognition, both from his real estate ventures, and from The Apprentice. But I think there's a greater reason: Trump is fighting. He's scolding the media for carrying Obama's water all the time. He's calling a spade a spade, and challenging Obama to prove his claims. He's talking boldly and saying plainly what needs to be said.

Pretty damned refreshing, huh?

Sarah Palin is the only other person who appears willing to do these things, but she's the Left's favorite target and has been for years now, and they can at last partly mitigate what she says through sheer volume of bad press. Trump, however, was one of them until he burst onto the scene with this birth certificate stuff. He's caught them off guard, and is now going to become a target much like Palin.

But the greater issue is that he's fighting. Hey, GOP...are you getting this? Americans are gravely concerned about the direction of this country and the people leading it right now, and they want elected representatives who share that level of concern and are willing to go to the mat for it. Most of you are severely lacking when it comes to fighting on the behalf of the American people, and if that doesn't get fixed fast, this country will never get back on track.

I believe that while Donald Trump would be a horrendously irresponsible choice of nominee for the Republican party, what he's doing right now is exactly what is needed, and should be both heeded and replicated wherever possible.

Just my humble opinion.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Debt, Waste, And More Fairness Talk

First, let me say that I will be hitting some non-political topics this week. I've got a couple really cool things I want to share that have nothing to do with the 'p'-word, so come back soon for a change-up.

For now, though, we need to once again address the economy. I think it's safe to say that one thing we can all agree on is that we should trim government of all unnecessary fluff, right? Yeah, we'll have some disagreements over what exactly is 'unnecessary', but can we agree on unused federal buildings? Huge and unused stockpiles of gold (that just happen to be at historical high prices and are almost certainly on a bubble that is about to pop)? Those things alone would dump hundreds of billions of dollars into the federal Treasury. How about half a trillion dollars worth of unused land grants, or another half trillion in unspent TARP/direct loans? We're talking some serious debt that could be paid off with these unused assets. Why do you and I have garage sales or list things on Craigslist? To get rid of junk that we don't use or want, and to make a little money doing it. Same concept applies here, and the government should get on it right away.

But cutting government waste and excess with things like this -- and other measures that you and I would consider common sense -- will never happen, at least not while liberals are in charge. It's simply not a part of how they view the world. Heritage explains (emphasis mine):
Congress does not have a vault of money waiting to be distributed. Every dollar Congress injects into the economy must first be taxed or borrowed out of the economy. No new spending power is created. It is merely redistributed from one group of people to another.

Congress cannot create new purchasing power out of thin air. If it funds new spending with taxes, it is simply redistributing existing purchasing power (while decreasing incentives to produce income and output). If Congress instead borrows the money from domestic investors, those investors will have that much less to invest or to spend in the private economy. If they borrow the money from foreigners, the balance of payments will adjust by equally raising net imports, leaving total demand and output unchanged. Every dollar Congress spends must first come from somewhere else.
This is the economic reality that conservatives understand, but liberals either can't grasp it or refuse to do so. Here's the bottom line:
Conservatives believe that the federal government should have limited powers and that—beyond providing for the common defense and enforcing contracts— government should stay out of economic affairs as much as possible. Conservatives believe most federal spending is suspect and should be cut if it has not proven to be effective (such as on programs like COPS, FEMA fire grants, and Head Start). Progressives, on the other hand, see the federal government as a giant jobs program so that any cut to any federal program, no matter how ineffective or wasteful, would be a harm to the economy.
That's why liberals will never tolerate cuts to government, reductions in redundant government programs, or anything of the sort. If you've been paying attention, you know that the only sector that has seen significant job growth since Barack Obama and the Democrats took over in 2008 is in government jobs. Everything else is either flat or still declining. And, if you were paying attention to the whole stimulus madness, you know that there really was no actual empirical data backing up the administration's claims of jobs 'saved or created'; instead, the administration simply used a formula like this:

Number of dollars spent = number of jobs saved or created

That's all they needed to think about because that's what their worldview dictates: government increase equals economic increase, and government jobs equals overall jobs. Never mind the reality that government produces nothing and therefore by definition cannot increase economic output, and never mind the reality that that increasing government actually taxes the economic output of the country through increased taxation, regulation, and more people sucking money out of the economy (by working for a non-productive entity, the government)...never mind all that. All liberals want to acknowledge is their demonstrably false idea that more government is a good thing.

The notion of people paying their 'fair share' is repugnant to conservatives because they understand that the 'fair share' being paid by successful and productive citizens is vastly greater than that of the 'fair share' being paid by those working for the government, and especially those relying on government assistance. For example, here's a visual comparing the percentage of income earned to taxes paid for various income groups:

This is fair? It's obviously not. And yet...liberals think the rich should be paying even more!

This is my favorite common sense explanation of how our system of taxation works:
Bar Stool Economics
Suppose that every day ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. He said, "Since you are all such good customers, I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80."
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes, so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men -- the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share"? They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay! And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before, and the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got $10!"

"Yeah, that's right,' exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!"

"That's true!!"shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only $2 ? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up any more. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Author unknown
For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.
It's not rocket science. Just remember this the next time you hear a liberal whining about how the rich should pay more, or that the rich don't pay their 'fair share'.

Finally, we must once again examine President Barack Obama's policies in relation to the economy. Like it or not, as President he's in the driver's seat for another year and a half, so what he believes about the economy is something that we have to consider. Unfortunately, he doesn't appear to be engaged enough to even know his own economic plan:
When Barack Obama gave a much-anticipated speech on the budget and deficit spending last week, it turned into a disappointing mix of ambiguities and demagoguery. Most people couldn’t discern any “plan” at all in the speech, only hazy promises with few specifics. As it turns out, Obama himself doesn’t appear to be aware of even those few specifics he did offer. In yesterday’s Facebook townhall event, Obama not only mischaracterized the scope of the Republican plan to cut deficits, he also mischaracterized his own:

That’s actually wrong on three counts. First, Obama’s plan doesn’t reduce the national debt at all. It reduces by $4 trillion dollars the amount that Obama originally promised to add to the debt through deficit spending in his earlier budget projections. Obama’s plan adds at least $7 trillion to the national debt by its end, with projections rapidly increasing thereafter. Secondly, Republicans have a plan to cut deficit spending — not debt in the short term — by over $6 trillion, using the far less rosy baseline figures of the CBO over the Pollyannaish predictions of growth coming from the OMB.

And thirdly, Obama promised a twelve-year plan, not a 10-year plan, a point he made repeatedly in last week’s speech ...
And even Democrats are perplexed by this idea of a 12-year plan. I'll let you know if I ever hear of a rational explanation of it; until then, I suspect it's some kind of number-jiggering going on, similar to how they jiggered the numbers on Obamacare to make it appear (using faulty assumptions and irresponsibly optimistic economic projections) to save money over the long haul by starting the higher taxes at the beginning of the 10-year window and only kicking in the 'benefits' in year 4. Still, I think Hot Air's conclusion is dead on:
It’s bad enough to have a President who confuses debt and deficit. It’s worse to have a President who can’t keep his own plan scope straight.
If he can't do that, can we really expect him to make good on it? And can we reasonably expect him to have a well-designed, sound economic plan in the first place? And the fact that he's a liberal only compounds the problem.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Economy, Front And Center

As usual, the economy is front and center on the political radar. Let's hit some highlights.

Recently, the S&P officially downgraded the American economic outlook to 'negative'. The White House immediately downplayed its significance, but the GOP was right to point out that it is a wake-up call to action NOW. Not ten years from now, not 50 years from now...NOW. Much can be (and has been) said about what triggered this change from the S&P, but I can't find any fault in the logic of Erick Erickson at RedState:

For the past year, Democrats have spent freely arguing that their free spending ways did not matter. In fact, Barack Obama’s proposed budget for 2012 increases the national debt to 116% of gross domestic product, even while adding $2 trillion in tax increases.

It is not that budget proposal that became the straw to break the camel’s back.

It was not even his trillion dollar stimulus plan or his multi-trillion dollar stimulus plan than became the straw to break the camel’s back.

In fact, it was Barack Obama’s disastrous speech last week that broke the camel’s back.

As James Pethokoukis noted, Obama’s muddled plan to solve the crisis was “fastened together by the chewing gum and sticky tape of rosy economic assumptions and fiscal opacity.” But more so, it was Barack Obama’s angry words and denunciation of Paul Ryan’s own plan that drove S&P to its conclusion.

S&P said

We view President Obama’s and Congressman Ryan’s proposals as the starting point of a process aimed at broader engagement, which could result in substantial and lasting U.S. government fiscal consolidation. That said,we see the path to agreement as challenging because the gap between the parties remains wide. We believe there is a significant risk that Congressional negotiations could result in no agreement on a medium-term fiscal strategy until after the fall 2012 Congressional and Presidential elections. If so, the first budget proposal that could include related measures would be Budget 2014 (for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2013), and we believe a delay beyond that time is possible.

Remember, up until the President’s attack, even Democrats on the Deficit Commission were praising Paul Ryan’s willingness to engage the issue “at an adult level.” Everyone expects congressional partisans to take pot shots, but for the President of the United States to have a temper tantrum over it akin to a three year old denied a lollipop? That’s unheard of.

The President’s open hostility to an adult plan while offering no substantive plan of his own was the straw that broke the camel’s back. And because Mr. Obama still cannot deal with the issue as an adult, we will keep heading down this treacherous road.

Barack Obama was also caught on a hot microphone admitting that he was trying to implement his Leftist agenda through the outlandish spending in his budget. We kind of knew that already, but it was one of those moments when the true man peeked out from behind the mask, and one we should remember as he moves forward with his proposals.

A relative handful of jobs have started coming back, causing the unemployment rate to dip below 9% for the first time in months, but the vast majority of those jobs are government jobs which don't produce anything. Indeed, there are more government workers than manufacturing workers in all but two states, and there are now more government workers nationwide than there are workers in manufacturing, farming, fishing, forestry, mining, and utilities...combined. This is a different problem to discussed in a different post, but even with those modest gains the percentage of employed workers in the country remains at its lowest point in decades. The reality is that any hint of recovery is either a total mirage, or something that will, in the long run, make genuine recovery even harder.

And most Americans knows this. In fact, 6 in 10 would rather see spending cuts than increased taxes. It's common sense, and the only people who don't get it are the ignorant or the upper crust elite (hm, interesting how those two go together). Even more interesting is the fact that if you look at a poll of whether to extend the last round of tax cuts (George W. Bush, in 2001 and 2003), Republicans and Independents support making those cuts permanent in overwhelming numbers...but not Democrats. Apparently, Democrats like paying taxes and want to pay more. Well hey, if they want to pay more of their 'fair share', there's nothing stopping them from doing so. They can write out a check to the Treasury Department any time they want. Hm, I wonder why they're not doing that? Surely they wouldn't be hypocritical on this sort of thing, would they...?

Here's one really, really easy solution that should be a no-brainer: eliminate duplicate government programs. That would save at least $100 billion a year. Chump change, really, but at least a genuine start toward reducing the egregious waste in government, and a signal that our elected leaders are serious about putting things back on the right track. But they're not doing it. Here's an example of how easy this really is:

The GAO examined numerous federal agencies, including the departments of defense, agriculture and housing and urban development, and pointed to instances where different arms of the government should be coordinating or consolidating efforts to save taxpayers’ money.

The agency found 82 federal programs to improve teacher quality; 80 to help disadvantaged people with transportation; 47 for job training and employment; and 56 to help people understand finances, according to a draft of the report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal…

There have been multiple efforts to cull the number of federal programs in recent years, but they often run into opposition from lawmakers in both parties who rush to defend individual spending provisions. In fact, GAO’s recommendations are often ignored or postponed by federal agencies and lawmakers, particularly when they could require difficult political votes…

The report says there are 18 federal programs that spent a combined $62.5 billion in 2008 on food and nutrition assistance, but little is known about the effectiveness of 11 of these programs because they haven’t been well studied.

Seems pretty simple and obvious, don't you think? And even Obama himself gives lip service to reducing waste and duplication, though he also contradicts himself in both word and deed while doing it.

The point is made, though, that even if this waste reduction happens, the key to really making a difference is entitlement reform. Think government handouts. Freebies paid for by taxpayers and greedily sucked out of existence by the 47% of people who pay no income taxes at all. These are the biggest expenditures of the federal government, and the things that most need to be cut down to a reasonable size.

And that won't happen through an increase in taxes, nor even with a reduction in the rate of growth of government (it's a baseline budget thing; let me know if you want more explanation). No, we need actual cuts in government for things to really change. It's going to take a lot of political will for someone to stand up and lead the charge, but we may be getting to the point where enough people realize that our situation is precarious enough that drastic measures have to be taken or else we risk our entire way of life foundering. Yes, it's that critical.

But don't listen to the rhetoric from the Left - though we've gone over this repeatedly, the misunderstanding persists, so it's worth revisiting again, this time in the Wall Street Journal: there simply isn't enough money to soak the rich and put things back on track. The bread and butter is the middle class, so don't let the rhetoric fool you - that's where they want to sink their grubby hands into back pockets. Here's a fantastic bottom-line analysis to illustrate the point:

As I have argued before, what we are really negotiating about at this point is not how we are going to go about paying for these things, but how we are going to go about not paying for these things. Paul Ryan’s plan for Medicare is to let Americans shop for health-care coverage and then have the government pay the first $15,000 in premiums — a reasonably generous deal. (And even more generous for the very poor.) That premium support would grow relatively slowly, putting pressure on both consumers and providers of health-care to reduce costs. This is eminently sensible — critical, in fact: The reason that cellphones and computers don’t cost $10,000 isn’t that Motorola and Apple love us: It’s that consumers spending their own money are cost-conscious, so everybody has to compete on both price and quality. The only important products in the United States that do not get better and cheaper every year are K–12 education and health care, which are about 97 percent and 55 percent dominated by the government, respectively, and therefore have little consumer-price pressure.

Obama’s alternative is another magical committee of wise men, no doubt drawn from the same stale bowl of political Froot Loops from which he spooned up his various czars and advisers, from Marxist nut cutlet Van Jones to tax-dodging Treasury boss Tim Geithner. Markets aren’t perfect, but I trust consumers to make their own decisions better than I trust Obama and these jokers to make them on our behalf. Either way, cuts are coming, and the main question now is what shape they will take and who gets to make the final choice about health-care decisions: consumers and providers, or Obama and his experts.

That's really what it comes down to. Most Americans want to choose for themselves; Barack Obama and the other radical Leftists in American government want the power to dictate these decisions to you.

And because of all this, Obama is seeing frightening (for him...for us it's really exciting) new lows in polls, even when the pollsters are skewing the results ten points in his favor. A lot could change, of course, but at this rate by the time the 2012 election comes around, we could see results even more decisive than in 2010! That would be sweet, and precisely what the country needs to begin actually recovering.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What Is Fair? An Examination Of Equality

A lot of rhetoric is being spewed about fiscal responsibility right now, from all sides (though few are actually being genuinely serious about acting on it).  It seems to me that one of the base questions that needs to be discussed is that of what constitutes 'equality' in a capitalist society.  Those on the Left would say that what really counts is equality of outcomes, meaning that everyone should be equally successful and wealthy.  Those on the Right would say that what really counts is equality of opportunity, meaning that everyone should have the same opportunities to make their own success and wealth.  The resulting difference is that we can see the overall wealth of the entire nation (all economic levels) go up across the board, but the Left will still think things are 'unfair', and continue to push for economic policies that are punitive to the top producers and the most successful people in the nation.  How?  Well, this small but crucial distinction between equality of opportunity versus equality of outcomes is something that the Heritage Foundation tackles yet again in an ongoing discussion.  Check out the whole give-and-take for an interesting debate on a broader topic, but the key point I want to pull out is this:

The left sees inequality itself as a problem. This is because equality is one of the left's highest values. The right values equality, too, but in a different sense. The left values equality in the sense of equal outcomes. The right values equality in the sense of equal opportunity. The conflict arises because equality of opportunity is incompatible with equality of outcome.

In response to Mr. Mitchell's point, let's assume for a moment that we're in an economy where the top 1 percent takes home $0.99 of every dollar (We're nowhere near that today), but everyone is still gaining. How could this be, some may ask?

If there are more dollars in the economy, everyone will gain. For example, if we had an economy that produced $100 trillion per year, instead of our current $14 trillion per year, there would be many more dollars from which everybody could take a slice. So, even though the slices of each dollar would be unequal, everyone would be taking more total slices, resulting in gains for all.

As a hypothetical, think about it like this: Would it be better to take 40 cents of every dollar in a $10 trillion economy, or to take 20 cents of every dollar in a $30 trillion economy? Alternately, assume in 1980 that the poor made $1 and the rich made $100. Assume that in 2010 the poor made $3 and the rich made $300. In this scenario, inequality has increased, but the poor have tripled their earnings. Would anyone argue that the poor aren't any better off?

Furthermore, purchasing power would continue to increase – every dollar would buy more goods and services – as I highlighted in my original post.

So how one frames this debate comes down to one's worldview: Is equality (of outcome) a goal in and of itself? If not, then why does it matter that some have gained more than others?


If all income groups have gained since 1979 – some groups by 33 percent, others by 333 percent – why does inequality matter? The answer may well depend on whether one more strongly values equality of outcome or equality of opportunity. But the statistics are clear: No matter how one slices it, all income groups have gained over the past few decades.

And yet, the Left is screaming louder than ever about the lack of 'fairness'.

In my opinion, this is one of the most fundamental differences between the Left and the Right, and a constant source of tension in terms of policies.  Think about it - the Left is constantly pushing for 'fairness' based on outcomes.  They want the poor to have more money simply because it's not fair that they're poor; the only way to equalize the situation, then, is to take money from the rich and give it to the poor.  Socialism.  The Left engineers policies toward this end all the time - just look at our tax code.  How is it fair that the most successful and the most productive members of American society are required to pay vastly higher taxes (percentage-wise) than those of lesser levels of success?  No, it's not.  It's precisely the opposite.

Similarly, reality has shown over and over that those who get a free lunch eventually demand a free lunch consisting of an all-you-can-eat buffet, alcoholic beverages, dessert, and a room to stay in afterward.  When there is no incentive to get out there, get a job, produce, and succeed...people don't.  That's why welfare is a double-edged sword.  Don't get me wrong, there's nothing inherently wrong with temporary assistance - sometimes it's necessary, and most everyone needs help from time to time.  But...that should be a VERY temporary thing, and only when genuine effort is demonstrated to get back off the assistance rolls.  That's not what we have today, however.  When people stay on welfare for 99 weeks (yes, almost two years...that's the current duration of welfare assistance), you tell me: is there really any incentive to get a job?  No.  So, unproductive people sit there, sucking resources out of those who are productive, and demanding more and more.  You can call me cold-hearted and calloused if you want, but this is the reality.  I will ask you: what's fair about simply taking money from hard-working people and giving it to people who are perfectly capable of being a productive member of society but who simply choose to be lazy instead?  Fairness??  I think not.

Unfortunately, if you play things out to their end conclusion, this is one of those game-over issues.  Don't believe me?  Look at this example from a recent Gallup poll:

Half of Americans believe the amount they pay in federal income taxes is too high, while 43% consider it about right and 4% too low.

Now, match that polling result with data from 2009 tax returns, and just take a wild stab in the dark at what percentage doesn't actually pay any federal income taxes at all.  Got a guess?  Yep: 46.9%

Shocker of a coincidence, huh?

The danger, then, is when that 46.9% crests the 50% mark and those not paying any income tax at all suddenly become the majority.  At that point, there's literally nothing stopping the majority of non-producers from simply voting themselves more goodies from the minority of producers...until there's nothing left.  This is the danger.  The Founders knew it, and did everything they could to ensure it wouldn't happen.  Their ideas have held back the tide of socialism and the Left's notions of 'fairness' -- equality of outcomes rather than equality of opportunities -- for almost 250 years, but we are rapidly approaching the tipping point at which the country begins an inevitable and unrecoverable decline.  It's up to us here and now, TODAY, to make sure this doesn't happen.  If we don't, our children and grandchildren will never experience the freedom and prosperity that has blessed us to this point in American history.

I leave you with the words of Thomas Jefferson in 1816:

"To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Quick Update

Just wanted to give a quick update now that the votes have been counted:
It wasn’t quite party-line — four Republicans (Ron Paul among them) joined the Democrats in opposition — but it was awfully close, an amazing achievement for the House GOP given the potential toxicity of this vote. DCCC chief Steve Israel is already chortling that today’s roll will return Democrats to the majority, a distinct possibility once The One hones his Mediscaring technique on the stump. But that’s beside the point: This debate has to happen and there’s no other way to force it. Obama’s perfectly content to let the country’s finances continue to melt down as long as he gets reelected, ... so unless the “Gang of Six” pulls a rabbit out of its hat, this is it. If doing nothing to reduce the country’s catastrophic debt except lying about the rich’s capacity to pay it down turns out to be a big political winner for Democrats, then good luck to them. I’m sure they’ll do a fine job implementing America’s emergency austerity plan a few years from now.
So, it's official, and passed in the House. It will almost certainly be killed in the Senate, but that'll just make for even more GOP campaign ads rightly pointing out which party is the one full of adults trying to seriously address a critical problem, and which party is full of dunderheaded idiots bent on national self-immolation as long as they burn last.

One of the more intriguing aspects of this budget was that it cut funding for a couple of Obamacare components and four of Obama's czars. But...not really:

You didn’t seriously think he was going to abide by the will of Congress, did you? Such is The One’s personal awesomeness that he can order the bombing of Libya without so much as a heads up to the legislature in advance. Surely he wasn’t about to be tripped up by a duly enacted bill that dares to cut off the money he uses for his auxiliary cabinet.

I have to say, of all the Bush policies recycled by Obama, this one’s my favorite just because it’s such a gratuitous offense to his base. You can spin many of the others on expediency grounds — he had to ramp up the drone strikes in Pakistan to crack down on terrorists, he had to keep Gitmo military tribunals going because the Republicans tied his hands — but this one’s pretty much a pure no-apologies betrayal. The bad news: Legally, it’s highly dubious. The good news: It should provoke another classic what-happened-to-the-Barack-I-knew Andrew Sullivan lament.

One rider – Section 2262 — de-funds certain White House adviser positions – or “czars.” The president in his signing statement declares that he will not abide by it.

“The President has well-established authority to supervise and oversee the executive branch, and to obtain advice in furtherance of this supervisory authority,” he wrote. “The President also has the prerogative to obtain advice that will assist him in carrying out his constitutional responsibilities, and do so not only from executive branch officials and employees outside the White House, but also from advisers within it. Legislative efforts that significantly impede the President’s ability to exercise his supervisory and coordinating authorities or to obtain the views of the appropriate senior advisers violate the separation of powers by undermining the President’s ability to exercise his constitutional responsibilities and take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”…

In other words: we know what you wanted that provision to do, but we don’t think it’s constitutional, so we will interpret it differently than the way you meant it.

Remember, one of the big advantages of using “czars” is that they perform cabinet-type functions without being subjected to cabinet-type confirmation hearings. Which means, in this case, not only is he reserving his right to skirt congressional scrutiny of important appointees, he’s reserving his right to force Congress to pay for it by ignoring their own funding strictures. He’s been using signing statements for a long time now, but I’m not sure there’s ever been an example this egregious.

Now, anyone with half a working brain and an accurate understanding of Obama's governing philosophy could have seen this sort of thing coming. GOP Majority Leader John Boehner did not, and this signing statement has him really hacked off. Yay for that show of emotion, but really? You're surprised and upset that the guy who's lied, flip-flopped, and misrepresented his way through his entire political career lied, flip-flopped, and misrepresented things on this? It's no wonder more conservatives are looking for a true conservative to lead the GOP rather than Boehner.

Throughout the entire budget/speech episode, one thing that went virtually unreported was this bombshell:

While everyone else was focused on Barack Obama bashing Paul Ryan, I noticed that he took full ownership of death panels yesterday. Naturally, Obama did not call them death panels. He called them “an independent commission of doctors, nurses, medical experts and consumers.” But his description hits dead on with what his death panels will do.

According to Barack Obama yesterday, the death panels “will look at all the evidence and recommend the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending while protecting access to the services seniors need.”

We already know what they’ll recommend as “the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending”. Barack Obama’s own advisers have told us. They will prioritize giving health care to healthier people and let sicker people die. At end of life, they will deny people life sustaining treatment because, after all, they’re going to die anyway. Note his phrasing: “protecting access to the services seniors need.” Dying people, according to Obama’s advisers, need hospice not hope. They certainly do not need expensive treatments that may buy them time to see the birth of a new grandchild or other reasons.

“We will change the way we pay for health care – not by procedure or the number of days spent in a hospital, but with new incentives for doctors and hospitals to prevent injuries and improve results. . . . If we’re wrong, and Medicare costs rise faster than we expect, this approach will give the independent commission the authority to make additional savings by further improving Medicare,” Obama said. At a time Democrats are saying Republicans want to starve old people to death, Democrats are intent on embracing a cost savings model for Medicare that incentivizes doctors to encourage people to die and, when all else fails, gives a death panel “the authority to make additional savings by” ensuring the dying elderly die quickly.

“Our approach lowers the government’s health care bills by reducing the cost of health care itself,” Obama said. Really? The only way that will happen is by rationing. You may not like the use of the phrase “death panel,” but make no mistake about it — at the end of your life, in Barack Obama’s America, his death panel will throw you under the bus in a way much closer to reality than metaphor.

You heard it here.

Finally, after all the *cough cough* hard work of taking credit for the 'compromise', Barack Obama turned to other Presidential duties like comforting and providing aid to the families of dozens of Americans killed by tornadoes dealing with another suicide bomber on an American military base playing golf. That's the 64th round of golf he's played as President. By my count, that adds up to about 2.4 rounds per month. Do you play that much? Probably're too busy.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Summarizing Today's Democrat Party In A 7-Second Sound Byte That Speaks For Itself

Ah, that explains so much...

Another Day Brings So Much Clarity

Hm. It's only been a day or so since my last update, but wow...the situation has changed a heckuva lot!

First, a couple of updates are in order. Remember how I excerpted one article talking about how a very real danger is the point at which the rest of the world loses faith in America and pulls the rug out from under us? Well, guess what? Even now, leaders from global emerging nations are meeting to discuss global financing...without an American presence. The International Monetary Fund is accusing the Obama administration of lacking a 'credible' strategy for dealing with our debt. It's hard to disagree with that, unfortunately. The point here is that this is a real danger that would have real consequences, and that's partly why there is zero time to waste in getting America's fiscal house in order. Too bad Obama and the Democrat party simply aren't interested in doing that.

Now let's take a look at this reminder from Gateway Pundit:

The key phrases here are 'I'm pledging to cut the deficit we inherited by half' and 'getting our spending under control'. Oh really? Then explain this:

That deficit he 'inherited' was under $200 billion. This year's projected deficit is $1.65 trillion. Obama's racked up monthly deficits bigger than George W. Bush's annual deficits. This is liberalism for you. Say whatever is convenient at the time, and then go ahead and expand government and reckless spending as fast as you can get away with. The facts are indisputable on this one.

Now we move on to some new developments. President Obama gave a speech yesterday in which he outlined his strategy for tackling the debt problem we face. Here are a couple of highlights:
President Obama on Wednesday called for tax increases and spending cuts he said would reduce deficits by $4 trillion over 12 years - and vehemently denounced Republicans’ own deficit plans as an assault on the elderly and poor.

In a speech that sounded as much like a 2012 election kickoff speech as a call to action on Capitol Hill, Mr. Obama said he wants to see a final deficit reduction deal by June, but also said the House Republicanproposal on the table now is not “serious.”
Funny, theirs is the only plan that has been proposed. Wouldn't that make it 'serious' by default? If he's the one who's serious about this, then where's his plan? And how can you possibly reduce deficits by raising taxes? Isn't the economy struggling enough as it is? What happens when the government starts taking even more money out of the pockets of hard-working Americans? History and reality plainly show it's only going to make things worse.

But remember, his primary purpose is not to help the economy recover. Whenever you look at what he's doing or saying, you have to look at it through the lens of his clearly stated intentions: to transform America into a socialist state. His agenda is to expand government power, which means sucking in more money from taxpayers and forcing more people to be dependent upon the government. That's why he's proposing these policies. I think it's also interesting to note that he's calling on Congress to put forward plans to do these things rather than putting his own plans out there himself; he'll be happy to swoop in at the last minute and take credit for 'success', but he simply isn't willing to dip his toes into the mud and do the work (and take the political arrows) that is necessary to hammer out a real plan. Just a side note, but one worth pointing out.

Still, if there's one thing Obama's good at, it's lying delivering a speech, right? Remember how he often left people in tears on the campaign trail? Well, this particular speech was so well-delivered that VP Joe Biden was caught on camera taking a nap.

Anyway, back to the speech. Did he make his case? Not even close...

In his deficit speech, President Obama sent a clear signal that he is still not willing to spend political capital on resolving the debt problem. Although Rep. Paul Ryan has already taken the lead on addressing the deficits by submitting a spending-only debt reduction plan, Obama failed to follow up by proposing a liberal plan. Instead, he chose a safe but unsustainable middle position ...

“I think the president heard us loud and clear. We’re willing to resolve our differences and do something meaningful but raising taxes will not be part of it,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said after joining Obama and other Capitol Hill leaders at the White House Wednesday morning.

“We don’t believe that raising taxes is the answer here,” added House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who also attended the meeting.


Freshman Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a tea party favorite, said in just five short months, Obama had gone from extending tax cuts to proposing tax hikes on those who are trying to create jobs.

“This is not just a political flip-flop,” Lee said. “It’s a reversal that will create greater instability in our economy and threaten to turn around the small gains we’ve made in employment.”

After the speech, Boehner said “any plan that starts with job-destroying tax hikes is a non-starter.”

A very informative interview with Paul Ryan can be found here. It's worth the time to listen to, so check it out. Here are some of the key points:
“When the President reached out to ask us to attend his speech, we were expecting an olive branch. Instead, his speech was excessively partisan, dramatically inaccurate, and hopelessly inadequate to address our fiscal crisis. What we heard today was not fiscal leadership from our commander-in-chief; we heard a political broadside from our campaigner-in-chief.

“Last year, in the absence of a serious budget, the President created a Fiscal Commission. He then ignored its recommendations and omitted any of its major proposals from his budget, and now he wants to delegate leadership to yet another commission to solve a problem he refuses to confront.

“We need leadership, not a doubling down on the politics of the past. By failing to seriously confront the most predictable economic crisis in our history, this President’s policies are committing our children to a diminished future. We are looking for bipartisan solutions, not partisan rhetoric. When the President is ready to get serious about confronting this challenge, we'll be here.”
And you'll be waiting for a long, long time.

But none of this is surprising, if you understand liberal thought. What's most disturbing to me is the continued failure of the GOP leadership. Remember the victory lap they took after securing $38 billion in government cuts? Hm, now we're hearing that it wasn't quite that much...
A new budget estimate released Wednesday shows that the spending bill negotiated between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner would produce less than 1 percent of the $38 billion in promised savings by the end of this budget year.

The Congressional Budget Office estimate shows that compared with current spending rates the spending bill due for a House vote Thursday would cut federal outlays from non-war accounts by just $352 million through Sept. 30. About $8 billion in immediate cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid are offset by nearly equal increases in defense spending.
Whoa! A measly $352 million?? This is the sort of budget gimmickry that Democrats usually use, not Republicans! What gives, Mr. Boehner? Are you playing the GOP base for fools? It appears so, and he doesn't like being called on it. Governor Tim Pawlenty, a potential presidential candidate for 2012, was the first to publicly point out that the Emperor was buck naked, but others have followed, including the conservative opinion think-tank NRO. Boehner's office chose to pick a fight with conservative blog RedState, but it really just comes down to semantics. RedState's bottom line is that the final net effect of the 'deal' is not $38 billion in cuts, and I have to agree that that's the thing that matters. You know, it's stupid crap like this that really makes me despise the Republicans in Washington. We already know that the Democrats have no capacity for responsible leadership and governing, but the Republicans should know better. If the GOP can't get its act together, then there really is no hope left for anything other than managing the slow decline of the nation. To continue the analogy, it'll simply be bickering over who gets to be in charge while the Titanic sinks. *sigh* Personally, I believe the future of my children and grandchildren is worth more than that, but when Republicans engage in stuff like this, it's clear they do not feel the same about the future of their own.

Anyway, NRO called this the first strike against Boehner as the Speaker and the leader of the GOP in Washington, and that's a big deal. RedState offers this thought on the matter:
The one silver lining in all of this is that the House GOP Freshmen should now be radicalized against any deal cut by the House leadership.
Man, I sure hope so! I hope the public beating Boehner is taking over this is sufficient to put him back in line in a hurry.

So, the actual vote on this deal could get interesting. Will the GOP follow Boehner, now that it's been shown that he's a hack? Time will tell.

Anyway, one of the next big economic issues coming up is the debt ceiling debate. Basically, we've overspent so much that Congress is going to have to raise the debt ceiling again in order to keep borrowing money from China to stay afloat. This is a nasty issue, too, which we'll probably get into more later. For now, I'll just offer this from Rush Limbaugh, which seems to summarize things pretty well at the moment:
There is not imminent disaster on the other side of failing to raise the debt limit. You see what's guiding all this is that which I believe is our biggest single problem today. Well, that's hard to really categorize. But if it's not the single biggest problem, it's very close. And that is the notion that not one measly thing in this country can happen unless the government is involved in it. That's destroying us. The notion that kids can't eat, that people can't learn, that products can't be manufactured, that services can't be performed, nothing can happen unless government is open and actively involved in it, and folks, that whole premise is fallacious, and yet it is destroying us.

What would happen if we don't raise the debt ceiling? Well, we couldn't borrow any more money. It's a good thing, right? If the United States government were a person or a family, would anybody loan 'em any money? Nope, just the sharks, just the predatory lenders out there. Wouldn't that force the government to finally make some real cuts, set some priorities, if it couldn't borrow any money? We keep hearing that government is like family. Family sits around the kitchen table, although I don't think families do that much anymore, families sit around the kitchen table, they pore over the monthly bills. Yeah, you can just see that, mom, dad, the 2.8 kids, the family dog, poring over the family bills. ...

Let's look at this realistically. You mean to tell me that this government cannot get along on a measly $14.3 trillion? We got a budget of $3.7, 3.9 trillion, we can't get by on that? This is absurd. We've lost all perspective. We've lost connection to reality here. A real debt limit seems to me to be exactly what we need here.
So, there you have it. Another day, another swerve in direction. And yet, we're still sitting under a mountain of debt that needs to be addressed. Once again, despite their faults, the Republican party is the only one sitting at the table and ready to take some action. Flaws and all, I'll take that over the willful and dangerously reckless obliviousness of the Democrat party any day.