Category ►►► Fed Spending: to Infinity and Beyond!
January 9, 2013
Best "In a Nuthouse" Explanation of the Year!
Of course, the year is still young...
This is ripped straight from Rich Galen's most recent Mullings; and if you're not reading Mullings -- for free! (but please send a $30 donation at fundraising time) -- you're missing a treat and a wonder.
Here's the bit, sent in by one of Rich's readers; and boy does this just put the federal debt cliff on that old nutshell:
- U.S. Tax revenue: $ 2,170,000,000,000
- Fed budget: $ 3,820,000,000,000
- New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
- National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
- Recent budget cuts: $ 38,500,000,000
Let's now remove 8 zeros and pretend it's a household budget:
- Annual family income: $ 21,700
- Money the family spent: $ 38,200
- New debt on the credit card: $ 16,500
- Outstanding credit card balances: $ 142,710
- Total budget cuts so far: $ 38.50
One quibble: I believe the national debt is closer to $16 trillion than $14 trillion -- leaving the "household budget" in dutch for $160,000 samolians, not $142,710; but who's counting? (Certainly not Obama, Geithner, or "Pinky" Reid!) But that just gilds the cake.
I wonder if a simple YouTube of someone pointing at a chart very like unto this one could go viral, and maybe shake the faith of a few Obamolytes?
September 4, 2012
Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been Better Off?
At last! The reanointment campaign of President Barack "You didn't build that" Obama is finally ready to detail exactly what way Americans are better off now than they were four years ago. In a New York Times piece, they finally get down to the nitty gritty of economic, cultural, and national-security improvement since January 20th, 2009.
Here's the lede:
A day after fumbling a predictable and straightforward question posed by Mitt Romney last week -- are Americans better off than they were four years ago -- the Obama campaign provided a response on Monday that it said would be hammered home during the Democratic convention here this week: "Absolutely."
That answer, "absolutely," comes from Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign mangler, at the Democratic National Convention on Monday:
In fact, on Monday the campaign settled on a definitive answer of, as the deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter put it, "Absolutely."
There it is, in black and white (or whatever colors you've chosen for your font and background): Stephanie Cutter has categorically, unequivocally, hysterically answered that "better-off" question for all time: Ab-so-lootely we're better off now than when Obama assumed the position. Absolutely!
Who could argue with that?
Let's not be unfair; Cutter did go on to give detailed and specific reasons why we're better off:
Followed down a hallway by a local news crew asking the "better off" question in the convention center here, Ms. Cutter described the economic scene four years ago -- the auto companies teetering near bankruptcy, bank failures -- and said, "Does anyone want to go back to 2008? I don’t think so."
I'm not so sure: Perhaps those voters who lost their jobs under the Obama administration long for 2008, which they might see as the golden age of employment.
Today's real unemployment/underemployment rate -- what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls the U6 labor underutilitzation rate -- includes those unemployed and actively looking for a job, those unemployed who would like to work but have given up in despair, and those who are working part time but want to work full time.
That U6 unemployment number is significantly higher now than it was when Obama seized the reins of power.
Back then, on January 20th, 2009, the U6 rate was 14.2%. It had been rising in the waning days of the Bush administration; and it continued rising throughout Obama's first year, hitting a peak of 17.1% in December, 2009.
That big run-up of 2.9% represented nearly 4.5 million more people unemployed or underemployed than when Obama was inaugurated.
The U6 rate stayed more or less around that point for another year, then finally began to drift downward a little in December, 2010. It wafted back towards the "inauguration rate" over the next year, hitting 14.5% in March, 2012; but then the U6 unemployment number took off again. Today it hovers at 15.0%... still noticibly higher than it was when Obama was sworn at by the Chief Justice. The 0.8% rise in the U6 rate from 2009 corresponds to 1.24 million more Americans out of work or underemployed than when Obama's term began.
At no point has total unemployment/underemployment dropped back down to Obama's inauguration rate; on employment, the president is still underwater. Those hoping for employment are certainly no better off today than they were four years ago... and I doubt the extra one and a quarter million unemployed/underemployed Americans are mollified by the fact that Barack Obama seized General Motors and gave huge bailouts to his Big Banking cronies.
Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland echoed Cutter's claim anent Obama's stellar record on job creation, though he offered a slightly more cautious version:
Mr. O'Malley provided another answer on Monday on CNN: "We are clearly better off as a country because we’re creating jobs rather than losing them. We have not recovered all that we lost in the Bush recession. That’s why we need to continue to move forward."
But they've also "not recovered" all the extra jobs lost in the Obama recession; they're still short, as we noted, by 1.24 million jobs since inauguration.
Forward! Progress! Ab-so-lootley!
Let's press on, guvnor. Surely there must be some objective measurement to back up Stephanie's cutting ejaculation of "Absolutely!"
Oh, here we go; Slow Joe Biden issues an unanswerable proof:
Speaking in Detroit on Monday, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said during a union rally, "You want to know whether we’re better off?" He answered: "I’ve got a little bumper sticker for you: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive."
Well, yes; it's true: Osama bin Laden is dead. On the other hand, his organization, al-Qaeda, and its kissing cousins in the Taliban, are significantly more powerful today than they were at the end of Bush's term. So there is that.
Throughout all of 2008, 151 Americans were killed in Afghanistan by enemy action, according to the notoriously right-wing news source, the Hufflepuffington Post. But last year, that number had exploded to 398, down from 492 in 2010. Seems like quite a lot more Taliban/al-Qaeda activity, especially for a war whose expiry date has already been announced.
And of course, radical Islamism in general (Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq, et al) has been on the march for the last couple of years. It's true that one extremely bloody mass murderer was finally taken down -- by U.S. Navy SEALs, by the way; not by Barack Obama personally, no matter what he may fantasize. But as George W. Bush warned during his presidency, bin Laden, or even al Qaeda, is not the entirety of radical Islamism; in fact, Iran is the most dangerous radical-Islamist power, and it has been since the 1979 revolution.
President B.O. has done virtually nothing to check the overarching threat of jihadism and its related components, from nuclear weapons; to massacres of Jews, Christians, and Animists; to subversion of democracies or emerging democracies; to cross-border warfare; to "lawfare" and other elements of dawa, supporting sharia law by means short of violent assault. In fact, Obama reserves his strongest condemnations not for radical Islamists, but for Israel, the lone fully democratic nation in the Middle East.
With the uninhibited rise of radical Islamism across the world and even here in the United States on Barack Obama's watch (the Fort Hood massacre, for example), we are not better off on terrorism than we were four years ago... even with the death of an old man hiding in Pakistan.
Joe Biden's second point is technically true: General Motors is, in some sense, still "alive" (though I don't quite see how the attribute of "life" comports with the general Democratic Progressivist rejection of corporations as "persons" under the law). However, all those former stockholders of GM -- millions of Americans (including a great many retireees) in their 401K plans and pension funds -- might not feel better off... as their holdings were looted by Obama to give his Big Labor pals a stock jackpot. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Maybe the Democrats are happy to stand on bailouts for bankers, "Government Motors," and claiming credit for the heroic deeds of America's Special Forces; but it does seem just a little squirrelly to me.
Their next point... oh. Oh dear; I'm afraid we have managed to plod all the way through the triumphalist New York Times article. There is nothing else in the article.
Yet isn't it peculiar that in this entire litany of reasons in the New York Times why we're better off today than we were four years ago, not a single Democrat points to ObamaCare or the trillion-dollar "stimulus?" It's as if the two signal achievements of the Obama administration have faded, like the Cheshire Cat, leaving only their deficits behind.
We began this inquiry with the Reagan/Romney Riddle: "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" I reckon we'll just have to watch the
debacle spectacle unfold to see what evidence they can cite, besides that already (?) introduced, to justify Cutter's Comprehensive Confirmation: "Absolutely!"
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
July 12, 2012
Erskine Bowles Over Obamunism
I was struck by this statement from liberal Democrat Erskine Bowles, Bill Clinton's chief of staff during an nterview on CNBC -- along with frequent Econ-101 crony (and former Republican senator from Wyoming) Alan Simpson, with Warren Buffett sitting in to kibbitz. The topic was the looming "fiscal cliff" at the end of this year; as the year dies, so too will the Bush across-the-board tax cuts... and at the same time, those horrid, mindless, automatic spending cuts will kick in. The combined effect can devastate the American economy:
The combination of the two occurring at the same time, known as "the fiscal cliff," could siphon $500 billion out of the economy next year alone and $7 trillion over a decade, according to some estimates.
Congress must act to adjust the timing or scope of the fiscal adjustments, but likely won't deal with tax and spending issues in an election year, says Bowles, co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform with Alan K. Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming.
"If I had to tell you the probability, I'd say the chances are we are going over the fiscal cliff. I hate to say it, but I think that's probably right," Bowles tells CNBC. [Emphasis added. -- DaH]
But here is the thought provoker that seized my attention:
Calling deficits "a cancer" Bowles says the country must work to improve its fiscal health.
"If you take last year 100 percent of the revenue that came into the country, every nickel, every single dollar that came into the country last year was spent on our mandatory spending and interest on the debt," Bowles says.
"Mandatory spending is principally the entitlement programs -- Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. What that means is every single dollar that we spent last year on these two wars, national defense, homeland security, education, infrastructure, high value-added research, every single dollar was borrowed and half of it was borrowed from foreign countries," Bowles adds. [Emphasis added]
"That is crazy. It's a formula for failure in any organization."
Sometimes one looks and wonders; other times, one simply looks.
Bowles and Simpson say that we must cut at least $3 trillion in federal spending over the next ten years, which can only be done by tackling so-called "entitlement" spending head on, since that's where most of the money's spent; coupled with a trillion dollars in increased revenue, which of course requires a dramatic increase in the American gross domestic product -- since you can't squeeze blood out of a sow's ear.
And speaking of massive entitlement reform and economic growth, wasn't there some feller named Ryan who had some pertinent ideas for both requirements?
June 28, 2012
The Trillion-Dollar Taxman
As I understand the ObamaCare decision, Chief Justice John Roberts found that the individual mandate cannot be constitutionally justified under the Commerce Clause; that clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article I, § 8, ¶ 3) cannot be used to force Americans to buy government-specified products.
However, the so-called penalty for not buying medical insurance can, in theory, be "reasonably" considered a federal tax... thus, not the mandate per se, but the punitive imposition of taxes for failing to comply with it, can be justified under Congress' general taxing authority.
In other words, when Congress passed the misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, what Democrats actually enacted was a trillion-dollar tax hike on the American people... coupled with a vast array of regulations, controlling every aspect of health insurance, that is odious, outrageous, and offensive to liberty.
If the Romney campaign, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) do not immediately cut commercials dubbing this president the "Trillion-Dollar Taxman," then they should resign in disgrace.
Note that the Obamunists also attempted, fortunately without success, to enact another, even more staggering tax increase -- the "carbon tax" that was the central part of Barack "Big Stick" Obama's Cap and Tax scheme -- which could have ended up far more costly even than the trillion-dollar ObamaCare tax itself.
And now they threaten to raise taxes even higher by smugly allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. Yet despite this cascade of "revenue enhancements" that dwarf all previous tax attacks, Obama persists in hurling us into financial oblivion via his trillion-dollar-a-year deficit-spending addiction. The cataclysm we now face certainly validates what conservatives and libertarians have said for many decades: The motto of Big Government is and will always be, never enough!
There is no logically conceivable limit to taxation, no magic level that would cause Democrats to say, "All right, that's enough tax; from now on, we must reduce the deficit by cutting spending." Even a tax rate of 100% is insufficient for the insatiable government maw: Even in a state of pure socialism, where the government brazenly asserts that the entire GDP belongs to the Dear Leader, the acolytes of totalitarianism can still monetize debt by simply printing enough "fiat" money to pay it off in worthless paper... at the cost of Weimar-Republic style hyperinflation (at its peak, from January to November 1923, 2.7 billion percent).
In a very real sense then, Big Government can even "raise taxes" on those already paying everything they earn to the feds: Whatever allowance the government gives to the people for basic necessities, that money itself plummets in real value until the paper itself is far more valuable than the currency printed on it. (If only currency were edible!)
Frighteningly, that appears to be the path that Democrats are, if not eager, then at least prepared to follow. Call it the Grecian burn; but who's left to bail us out?
Jettisoning the last vestige of Democrat rule has become a matter of national survival; the Left has made it an existential imperative, a holy crusade. If November's vote does not reflect that paradigm change, if it's another "business as usual" election, then we may be doomed as a people, at least for generations. And it may ultimately turn out that the skeptics in 1776 were right: As soon as the people discover they can vote themselves largess, then Democracy may encode its own final collapse.
Throw the bums out; we have no other option.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
January 7, 2012
Does Social Santorum Trump Fiscal Santorum?
It's not an easy question for a non-conservative anti-liberal like myself to answer. First, I enthusiastically support some of Rick Santorum's social positions -- he promotes a more robust civil society; supports restricting legal marriage to traditional, one man-one woman; and he has offered bills to expand funding of adult stem-cell research and application.
But I recoil in horror from others, notably his demand that schools teach the "scientific alternative" to evolutionary biology (by which he means the thoroughly un-scientific and misnamed "intelligent design"); and he is completely opposed to embryonic stem-cell research funding, without consideration that such research can probably be done without destroying the embryos. (I'm using Wikipedia's list of some of his positions, though I did backtrack as much as possible to the primary-source interviews and Santorum's own site.)
But considering the second part of the question -- whether his positions on social issues are so extreme as to drive me away, despite his fairly good fiscal and foreign policies (which are at least somewhat better than Romney's) -- I'm on firmer ground. Santorum supports House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-WI, 96%) spending-cut plan and pushes for moderate reforms to Medicare and Social Security, but nothing spectacular like privatization (too bad). On the foreign-policy front, he supports the War Against Radical Islamism (WARI) and wants to bomb Iran's nuclear sites (good if he can pull it off, bad if he tries and fails).
So which side wins? Although I am appalled by what a friend of mine refers to as Santorum's "Flat-Earth Catholicism," I just don't think it would ever come up in a Rick Santorum presidency, not substantively. I doubt any state is going to attempt to outlaw "sodomy," adultery, or contraception; and even if it tried, surely the opinion of the POTUS would matter little if any in the ensuing court fight.
Where the social stances might really matter, however, is in the election itself. I'm not worried that President Santorum would install a "Nehemiah Scudder" style prophetic theocracy (though 2012 is the very year the Rev. Scudder takes over, according to Robert Heinlein's "future history" timeline!); but a great many voters might fear just that. Irrational, yes; but elections rarely turn on rational and logical cogitation alone. Would Santorum's goofier social stances so frighten away voters not on the religious right?
Yes, probably some. But how many? Fortunately, most of Santorum's apostasies from the norms of modern thought are fairly technical in nature, such as the distinction between science and so-called "intelligent design," which looms very large indeed within the real scientific community but likely induces nothing from the mass of voters but a puzzled "Eh?" Most of the social positions will just zoom along below the electoral radar.
I believe the biggest danger would be Santorum's suggestion that, contrary to the Supreme Court's decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, Americans have no fundamental right to privacy. Such a stance may make sense in a technical, legal sense, at least as the Court clumsily expressed the thought in the case in question; but the vast majority of Americans passionately believe that there exists a fundamental core of individual liberty, inside of which government may not legislate.
The Court shouldn't have called it "privacy;" and it certainly shouldn't have concluded (in Roe v. Wade) that the right of "privacy" includes the right to abort zygotes, foetuses, and even babies within minutes of being fully born. (Actually, I believe that last position is an abomination even under Roe; my, what progress we have made!) Ne'theless, nearly everybody agrees that there is an irreducible shell of personal liberty surrounding every man and woman that protects him from a totalitarian government run amok.
I can prove my case with a single example: Does anybody believe that it would be constitutional for a state to enact a law proscribing how many times per week a husband and wife are allowed to make love in their own home?
If you answer No, then you necessarily believe that (a) such a law breaches that fundamental core of individual liberty, the irreducible shell; and (b) there are inviolable limits to federal and state government beyond those explicitly written into the Constitiution.
To the extent that voters believe Rick Santorum's dismissal of a "right to privacy" means he rejects the irreducible shell of personal liberty described above, said voters will be very likely to vote for Barack H. Obama over the "theocratic" Rick Santorum.
Santorum's vital task, then, is to reassure Americans that his thinking on what most people envision when they hear the word "privacy" is still aligned within the mainstream of modern thought; that he does not advocate government control over aspects of life that the huge majority believe belong to the conscience of the individual, not the diktats of a Council of Experts.
If Santorum can assure voters -- including the arrogant author of this post -- that he is not a "Flat-Earther" on any social issue that really counts, then we might be persuaded to support him more than Mitt Romney. That is, until and unless Santorum's campaign collapses like all the other not-romneys before him.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
October 15, 2011
Nein, Nein, Nein!
So why do I so adamantly oppose Herman Cain's "9, 9, 9" tax plan -- 9% income tax, 9% corporate tax, 9% national sales tax -- even though I like him personally as a candidate?
Several reasons, each of them as simple and non-technical as the plan itself.
First of all, I shudder at the thought of any kind of national sales tax (NST) at all. I have long opposed the tendentiously named "Fair Tax" pushed by so many so-called conservatives; if you want a glimpse of tax hell, look what's happened to all the nasty NSTs and VATs throughout Europe and in Japan: They start low but almost immediately begin quietly creeping upward.
(A value-added tax, VAT, is a sales tax on every incremental step of creating a product; it's even more insidious than an NST, because you can't even tell how much you're being taxed... it's a little bit here, a little bit there, so opaque that even the feds often have no clue.)
If an out-of-control government raises your income or property taxes, you feel it good and hard the next time you write a whopping big check to the government. You can even compare today's tax bill to yesteryear's. But when the feds slyly raise the NST, you can't immediately tell: You only know prices are higher; you can't distinguish the effects of the NST from inflation. Therefore, raising taxes is infinitely easier when tax victims aren't sending a check to the feds every year.
Second, if we ever instituted an NST, I believe that all those states that have sales taxes would begin raising them, secure in the knowledge that shellshocked taxpayers wouldn't be able to distinguish how much of the increased sales tax on a purchase was due to the federal sales tax and how much due to the state sales tax: When voters start screaming, each side can point a finger at the other; in the confusion, voters never know whom to punish.
Third, Cain's 9, 9, 9 proposal shoots at the wrong target. We do have a minor tax problem; income and corporate taxes should be lower, simpler, and less riddled with social engineering loopholes. But the real problem we face, the existential problem, is not taxing but spending: under both Democratic and Republican Congresses, we are spending ourselves into oblivion. (Worse under the Left, of course, but unconscionable even from the GOP.)
Cain has said virtually nothing about how he would reduce spending; he seems to believe that shifting the revenue source -- he himself says that 9, 9, 9 would be "revenue neutral," meaning we get no tax reduction at all -- will automatically make Congress more fiscally responsible.
But why? What would cause politicians to stop spending money we don't have? We have a transcendental deficit right now; that means that congressmen and senators (and presidents) care nothing that we spend multiples of all revenues collected. What about 9, 9, 9 would change that fundamentally unbalanced equation?
And even if it did, we're right back to problem number one: With so much pressure to "balance the budget," what could be easier than turning 9, 9, 9 into 9, 9, 11, then 9, 9, 15, then eventually 9, 9, 22?
Then with all that bright, shiny new tax money, isn't the most likely congressional response to be... more spending? As "Che" sings in Evita:
When the money keeps rolling in, you don't ask how
Think of all the people guaranteed a good time now!
Herman Cain's biggest problem is that, so far at least, he's a one-note pony; and that single note, his 9, 9, 9 plan, crumbles to dust under scrutiny.
His other problem is that he has no experience running any kind of a government bureaucracy, none, nada. Government agencies simply do not function like corporations, even very large corporations. I'm sure we'd be better off if they did; but it's a mug's game trying to transmogrify the former into the latter. (Cain's only quasi-governmental experience was serving on and chairing the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Banks of Omaha and of Kansas City, which are not government agencies.)
With not one day spent running such a beast, he'll be punked by the permanent administrative state, guaranteed. Kind of like what happened to Merv Griffin when he got involved in a big hotel real-estate deal with Donald Trump: the Donald drank Merv's milkshake and ate him alive.
Herman Cain is a great guy, so far as I can tell; and he can do a great service by focusing debate on what really matters right now: the existential threat posed to the United States by Barack H. Obama and the demented Democrats. He might make a good vice president; one hopes he can learn to handle a bureaucracy in time to run for the big chair again in eight years. But right now, his only trick -- 9, 9, 9 -- is just a catchy and clever red herring.
October 11, 2011
Barack H. Obama: the Whine We Have Been Waiting For
The president is grim; the moan-scream media is in full offensive-tackle mode (I think they're all left offensive tackles); the media's puppetmasters at the DNC are already pondering substitutions -- Hillary for Slow Joe, maybe even Hillary for B.O. himself, and anybody at all for Eric Holder.
But the Senate isn't playing ball; at the moment, they seem to be enaged in a complicated set of war games:
United against Barack Obama, Senate Republicans voted Tuesday night to kill the jobs package the president had spent weeks campaigning for across the country, a stinging loss at the hands of lawmakers opposed to stimulus-style spending and a tax increase on the very wealthy.
Forty-six Republicans joined with two Democrats to filibuster the $447 billion plan. Fifty Democrats had voted for it, but the vote was not final. The roll call was kept open to allow Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. to vote. The likely 51-48 eventual tally would be far short of the 60 votes needed to keep the bill alive in the 100-member Senate.
Based on what I've been hearing, I'm quite certain that the Republican filibuster actually gave cover to Senate Democrats -- of which there are 53, counting socialist Bernie Sanders (S-VT, 100%) and "independent Democrat" Joe Lieberman (iD-CT, 79%); had the GOP allowed a vote, I am confident that at least two more Democrats would have voted against Bride of Stimulus, defeating the bill by 51 to 49.
Earlier, Obama signalled that he would be willing to drop his call for a special surtax on Americans earning more than $200,000 per year (or $250,000 per family), so long as he could get a "millionaire's tax" in trade; anything, just so long as he can sock some rich person somewhere with a totally unfair and unAmerican tax penalty for being too successful. But it doesn't seem to have been enough to overcome senators worried more about the fate of the economy (and their own upcoming elections) than about punishing wealth.
Senate Democrats themselves seem to agree:
Democrats were not wholly united behind the measure. In addition to Nelson and Tester, Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who aligns with Democrats, said they oppose the underlying measure despite voting to choke off the filibuster.
If they all voted their consciences, the bill would have gone down by 52 to 48!
B.O. seems incredulous, in his typically mean-spirited, peevish, whiney way; in fact, he can summon up only one possible reason (personal animosity, probably driven by racism) why his plan crashed and burned:
"Any senator who votes no should have to look you in the eye and tell you what exactly they're opposed to," Obama said to a union audience in Pittsburgh. "I think they'll have a hard time explaining why they voted no on this bill -- other than the fact that I proposed it."
It passeth understanding (at least it passeth mine) that, what with...
- Mad tea partiers hyperventilating about federal deficits over a trillion dollars as far as Man can measure,
- Independents transmogrifying en masse into Republican voters,
- And with even many Democrats starting to wonder whether their kids will grow up in a democratic republic or a liberal-fascist, totalitarian, nanny-state
...that the man up top can't understand why we recoil from another unstimulating stimulus.
But perhaps he does understand; and what really passeth Obama's understanding is how "We the People" caught on to the scam so darned quickly. After all, he was assured that the peons were all nincompoops by the MSM, the union bosses, the Hollywood Party, the masses "Occupying" fill-in-the-blank, the enviro-mentals, the rump end of the Old Left... by just everybody!
Yeesh. Sometimes you just don't know who to trust.
September 21, 2011
Who's That Creepin'?
Why it's good, ol' Mr. Sanity, the prodigal son come home at last!
One of my greatest frustrations for the past two and a half years has been the persistence of blindness: In the eyes of the American voter, the Untouchable who currently squats in la Casa Blanca, has somehow eluded and evaded all culpability for the fiscal calamity that has overtaken us. "It's Bush's fault!" has been the order of the day for 974 of them; Barack H. Obama's greatest eloquence has always come when pointing the finger at somebody else.
But as the man said, you can run on and on, but great God a'mighty gonna pull you down. And that's just what is finally happening: According to a USA Today/Gallup poll, Americans have finally dumped ownership of this wretched economy into the One's squirmy lap:
A slight majority of Americans for the first time blame President Obama either a great deal (24%) or a moderate amount (29%) for the nation's economic problems. However, Americans continue to blame former President George W. Bush more. Nearly 7 in 10 blame Bush a great deal (36%) or a moderate amount (33%).
Those assigning Bush significant blame have steadily dropped from 80% in July, 2009 to 69% today; at the same time, those assigning significant blame to Obama have steadily risen, from 32% then to 53% today. I suspect the lines will cross over sometime within the next year, and more Americans will blame Obama than Bush.
Gallup notes that the reason Bush still receives more blame than Obama is that Democrats are loath to blame Obama at all:
Americans are more likely to blame Bush than Obama mainly because a much higher percentage of Republicans assign a high degree of responsibility to Bush compared with the percentage of Democrats blaming Obama, 50% vs. 25%. At the same time, partisans are equally likely to say the president of the opposing party bears significant blame: 83% of Republicans blame Obama and 86% of Democrats blame Bush.
Only a quarter of Democrats blame Obama for the rotten economy even a little! Methinks a bit of wagon-circling hath crept into this Gallup poll. (The GOP is significantly more just and fair-minded, as usual; that is because staunch Republicans support philosophies and ideas, while yellow-dog Democrats support their leaders, with all the fervor of Nicolas Chauvin.)
But reality cannot long be denied: Simply looking at the annual deficits, how they sprouted like virulent weeds as soon as Obamunism took hold in America, should make it clear as can be who has done the most harm to our national finances:
United States budget deficits 2000 to 2021 (actual and projected)
- Note that George W. Bush's last budget, FY 2008 (from October 1st, 2007, through September 30th, 2008) -- under a Congress completely controlled by Democrats -- showed a deficit of $450 billion.
- The first budget to be substantially affected by the economic policies of Barack Obama was FY 2009, which ran from October 1st, 2008 through September 30th, 2009; Obama was the POTUS and gleefully ramming Obamunism down our throats for more than eight of those twelve months. That first Obama-driven budget showed the nation's very first unlucky 13-digit deficit, $1.4 trillion, more than thrice Bush's last deficit.
We can all agree that even a deficit of nearly half a trillion is unconscionable, and surely W. could have fought harder against the insane spending priorities of the Democratic Congress. Still, it's impossible to ignore the stunning increase that accompanied President B.O.'s ascension to the Delphic Throne.
And at long last, the American people are starting to wise up. They no longer fully swallow the One's self-serving blame shifting; and by the time of the next election, November 6th, 2012, I confidently predict that the percent still blaming Bush after four years will be in the teens, with 80% plus putting blame where it belongs... squarely on the pointy head of Barack H. Obama.
As that happens, get ready to start licking your chops; for the only thing rising faster than Obama's deficits will be his disapproval rating in the polls.
September 19, 2011
Quote of the Decade - So Far
President Barack H. Obama, explaining why he is demanding $1.5 trillion in new taxes in the depths of a recession:
"We can't just cut our way out of this hole," the president said.
No, of course not. Sheer folly. We must tax our way out of this hole!
That's the Chicago way.
September 13, 2011
A Fistful of Spam
After President Barack H. Obama gave his inspiring "jobs" speech at an embarassingly delayed joint session of Congress last Thursday (at least it inspired me to write this post), he decided to follow up and make sure that his pet reporters in the press really got the message: Obama's winning, duh!
But how to do it? Putting on his thinking cap, President B.O. came up with a cunning plan: He would use his favorite "new media" to let the press know just how much support there is nationwide for his magical mystery jobs plan.
And so he did; or rather, "and so he delegated," inducing the White House Press Office to send some e-mails touting support by a bipartisan cross-section of the nation. Just a few: The WHPO group-spammed hapless reporters with more than fifty unsolicited e-mails apiece, leaving them sputtering and furious at the administration:
"The White House Press Office has vomited all over my inbox," wrote Talking Points Memo's Callie Schweitzer.
"White House Press Office says Malia and Sasha support Obama's jobs plan," cracked Washington Examiner opinion columnist Phil Klein.
(For those of you not on the Obamic speed-dial, those last would be the First Offspring, Malia Ann Obama, 13, and Natasha "Sasha" Obama, 10.)
But as the Batman narrator frequently says, the worst is yet to come! For who were these average Janes and Joes whose unexpected support proved how universally beloved was the Obamacle? Just about the last people you would expect to support enforced unionism, higher taxes, and yet another "stimulus" package: a cauldron of lefty/green special interests, lobbyists, and pressure groups; a bludgeon of national labor unions; a corruption of ultra-liberal Democratic senators, representatives, governors, state legislators, and other luminaries of the Left; and amazingly, even a seize of members of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness -- several of whom were actually present at Obama's speech as invited guests. Who'd'a thunk they actually supported it?
Obama's tax attack and spending spree received rave reviews from the AFL-CIO, the United Steel Workers, the Teamsters, the SEIU, and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. The Center for American Progress is onboard, as is the Hispanic Federation, the BlueGreen Alliance, and even the Small Business Majority (last seen heavily promoting ObamaCare and the president's Cap and Tax bill to heal the Earth and cause the oceans to recede). Heck, he even managed to get House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury) on his side. What a coup!
All this he triumphantly spammed to his cohorts in the muss media, just to reassure him that, while the rabble may chafe under Obamunism, the Democratic elite like it just fine.
I'll lay all my beans on the table: What infuriates me most about this character currently occupying la Casa Blanca (as Sheridan Whiteside occupied the living room of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Stanley) is not that he is corrupt, which he is; nor that he is a rigid ideologue, which I reckon he is also; nor even that he is ignorant of every subject in the world but political skulduggery. What chaps my hide is President B.O.'s ham-fistedness. He's like Enron, a company that couldn't even make a profit out of accounting fraud and bribe-taking.
Obama is particularly inept at political skulduggery. If all of his cronies, bad eggs,and codependents in the Rive-Gauche media were not constantly concealing his clumsy criminalities, he would be universally seen as the Inspector Clouseau of political machinations.
And how perfectly humiliating for us to be ruled by an evil overlord who has vastly less Professor Moriarty than Edmund Blackadder about him!
August 30, 2011
The New York Times Defines "Fiscal Conservative"
Just in case you weren't sure of the definition, the New York Times shows us the perfect "fiscal conservative" in Yoshihiko Noda, incoming Prime Minister of Japan:
Yoshihiko Noda, a down-to-earth fiscal conservative, was elected prime minister by the Japanese Parliament on Tuesday in the sixth change of leaders in five years, a period of mounting economic and social challenges to the world’s third-largest economy. [Emphasis added - DaH]
And what fiscal policies does this plucky, self-deprecating, "down-to-earth fiscal conservative" intend to enact to earn that title? The Times clarifies:
In his previous role [as finance minister], he orchestrated multiple interventions in currency markets to weaken a strong yen that has battered Japanese exporters....
As a fiscal conservative, he is one of few within his party to suggest that raising taxes might be necessary to rein in Japan’s deficit....
Mr. Noda “will most likely temper his fiscally hawkish stance, which other candidates were loath to espouse, even as he champions an eventual return to fiscal responsibility,” Naomi Fink, a Tokyo-based strategist at the investment house Jefferies, said in a note....
Mr. Noda has said that he will stick to [outgoing Prime Minister Naoto] Kan’s promise to gradually phase out nuclear power, but that it remains necessary in the short term to prevent electricity shortages that could further cripple the economy. [Emphasis added - DaH]
All right, I think I've got it. A fiscal conservative is a government official who:
- Manipulates currency markets for corporatist political purposes...
- Raises taxes on a shattered citizenry during a terrible recession and ongoing disaster recovery...
- Offers, as the cornerstone of his energy policy, to eliminate (on grounds of eco-hysteria and radical enviromentalism) efficient, highly productive, and clean nuclear power, which is already up and operating, to be replaced (when?) by what, oil and coal, which must be imported at enormous cost, and the infrastructure for which Japan does not even possess? More likely by "green energy": windmills, solar cells, or perhaps banks of perpetual-motion machines to power the island nation...
- And who sees "fiscal responsibility" as a vague and distant goal he might embrace... "eventually."
Yessiree, that's the kind of steely-eyed fiscal conservative the Little Old Grey Lady pines for, in America as well as abroad.
And let's add one more qualification: Japan's Yoshihiko Noda is definitely not one of those slope-browed, slack-jawed, snake-handling, tongues-speaking, science-rejecting, theocratic "Christianists" who lurk in the United States; I'm certain he rejects "either-or" dichotomies: Right and Left, right and wrong, economic and uneconomic, true and false.
If Noda is like his brethren in the Diet, he sees the world in shades of grey, a twilight zone where the wild things are never quite asleep but never fully awake. Noda is certainly from one of the good religions that reject harsh, Judeo-Christian values -- Buddhism, Shinto, Atheism, Communism... something into which a man like Bill Keller can sink his teeth!
Perhaps now we understand Keller's urgency in getting to the bottom of all this "Christianity" stuff rampant among Republican candidates for President: Keller is still searching for those elusive, Times-approved "fiscal conservatives" in the GOP.
August 22, 2011
Bunyan Ryan Says He's Out; Let's Take Him at His Word
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI, 96%), chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee, looms like a giant in an election year focused almost entirely on the economy; he is the only person in any branch or chamber of the government not only to craft but actually enact (in his chamber, the House of Representatives) a plan to simultaneously grow the economy and shrink the government, restoring fiscal sanity. Understandably, many seek to draft him for the presidential race -- notably lawyer and blogger Beldar (here, here, here), but the ten-gallon Texan is certainly not alone.
But today, Ryan appears to have finally closed and locked that barn door before the horserace got out; he states without equivocation that he is not running:
"I sincerely appreciate the support from those eager to chart a brighter future for the next generation. While humbled by the encouragement, I have not changed my mind, and therefore I am not seeking our party's nomination for President. I remain hopeful that our party will nominate a candidate committed to a pro-growth agenda of reform that restores the promise and prosperity of our exceptional nation. I remain grateful to those I serve in Southern Wisconsin for the unique opportunity to advance this effort in Congress."
I personally was never aboard the Paul Ryan bandwagon (neither, evidently, was Ryan himself!) I think he's great where he is right now, and I'd like to see some actual executive experience before dropping him into the maelstrom of the presidency. Beldar tried to answer that charge in the first of the three Beldar links above, but his argument was weak and unconvincing hand-waving; there really is a difference between being a congressman and being a chief executive, and Ryan ain't got none'a the latter.
But clearly, he still has a strong role to play:
Ryan has said publicly he is concerned that those currently running for the GOP nomination are not addressing long-term fiscal and economic issues in a way that makes clear the magnitude of the challenges.
And I'll go further: I would strongly support him playing that role at a higher and more effective level -- for example, as Vice President of the United States. I believe he would tremendously compliment Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who doesn't seem to have much international economic or fiscal experience, and would even be an asset to the much more financially experienced Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts; alas, much of Romney's experience is negative, falling into the "fatal conceit" of believing in big-government solutions to problems more properly and effectively solved by Capitalism, rugged individualism, and American exceptionalism. I would hope that Ryan can lead a Romney or a Perry out of the socialist wilderness and into the promised land of liberty.
I think it would be wonderful if both of the two most likely nominees made a joint announcement (after sounding Ryan out, of course) that whichever of them is nominated, he will name Paul Ryan as his running mate. But I'm not going to hold my breath for more than a couple of minutes.
August 19, 2011
The Permanent Floating Unbalanced Budget Act of 2011
Aaron Worthing, guest blogger at my old stomping grounds of Patterico's Pontifications, draws our attention to the well argued and very persuasive case against a balanced-budget amendment (BBA) by political scientist Carson Holloway of Public Discourse. I was never really on board the federal balanced-budget amendment; it has always struck me as being magical thinking, utopianism -- pass an amendment, and all our spending problems will softly and suddenly vanish away.
(I liken this sort of thinking to Franklin Roosevelt declaring "freedom from want" and "freedom from fear" to be basic civil liberties.)
But the Holloway piece has really crystalized my objections to a BBA. Let me try to explain what's so dreadfully wrong with it.
Holloway's point, on a nutshell, is that there is no way to craft a balanced-budget amndment (BBA) such that it neither cripples our ability to borrow when absolutely necessary, nor allows, under cover of a ficticious "balanced budget," the same unrestricted borrowing for frivolous political reasons that Congress enjoys today. No matter how it's crafted, it will de facto sink into one fallacy or the other (I'm not sure which is worse).
Not only that, but the mere existence of a BBA in the Constitution practically compels Congress to jack up taxes whenever it overspends, probably with wide, bipartisan support: The socialist Left votes to raise taxes because, well, they always want to do that; and big-government Republicans follow suit for reasons of "fiscal responsibility." Can't violate that BBA!
Most likely, "responsible" congressmen will pass enabling legislation that automatically triggers tax hikes if the budget remains unbalanced in a fiscal year; and I can easily imagine a Democratic majority deliberately overspending, precisely in order to trigger that hike, under cover of "constitutional prescription."
Our problem isn't the lack of a BBA; our problem is that individual voters aren't holding their congressman's nose to the fire on limitless federal borrowing and spending, to infinity and beyond.
Or rather, they haven't in the recent past held Congress accountable; we took a huge step towards fiscal sanity last November and are poised to do so again in 2012. My friend and worth co-conspirator Brad Linaweaver recently sent me an e-mail bemoaning the fact that all political parties seem to have to "reinvent the wheel" every generation; and of course, Brad is absolutely right. I believe this is one of those instances, and there's nothing we can do but wait for the renaissance -- which is coming fast and strong, as witness the popular front for Capitalism... i.e., the tea-party movements.
But there is another point to be made beyond Holloway's argument: No real BBA (with teeth) has a chance in Hades of passing the current Congress or any other in the future. The only way a BBA will pass with a two-thirds vote in both House and Senate is if it's so watered down, its only purpose is to give cover to the very fiscal irresponsibility it purports to curtail. For evidence, look how easily states, which generally do have constitutional balanced-budget requirements (like my home state of California), can skirt around them by either manipulating the budget to make it facially appear to be in balance, no matter what the reality; or by simply ignoring the state constitution altogether. Not only is a BBA no panacea, it's not even a good placebo!
Worse, fighting tooth and nail for a BBA is a distraction from the real work of reining in Congress; it drains money, energy, time, and political capital that could be better utilized rolling back Obamunism. Democrats would be overjoyed to see the focus of the 2012 campaign shift from Obama's abominable economic record to a partisan tussle over a BBA... especially with the Left's proven talent at monkeying with statutory language and finding friendly judges to reinterpret out of existence any real restriction on federal power. Instead, we need to spend our considerable resources getting rid of the current squatter at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., along with his gangster government (as Michael Barone dubbed it), and cleaning out the cesspool of socialism and loony leftism in Congress -- on both sides the aisle, alas.
So let's boil the cabbage down:
- It's impossible to enact a BBA that would really work, at least in the present environment; it's utopian wish fulfillment to think some constitutional amendment will be a "magic bullet" that will solve our economic crisis.
- In the long run, the crusade to implement a BBA would cripple our ability actually to solve our terrible fiscal and economic crisis by sucking up vital political and financial resources better spent on voting the thugs out of office; it substitutes wheel spinning for actual progress, in the proper meaning of that word, away from "liberal fascism" and towards individualism, Americanism, and Capitalism.
- And in the very short run, it would remove the spotlight from liberal corruption, incompetence, and socialistic experimentation and focus it instead upon Republican "radicalism," almost certainly giving the DNC a huge boost at the ballot booth in 2012.
If a BBA becomes the main Republican economic platform plank, then I predict we will only barely retake the Senate, may actually lose seats in the House -- and Barack Obama will be easily reelected, running against "radical Republicans" who want to write wartime insolvency and automatic tax hikes into the Constitution.
It's hard to think of a worse economic strategy, for the election and for the country.
August 1, 2011
Yet Another Reason...
Taxaholic President Barack H. Obama has been tireless in demanding that the federal government balance its books on the backs of hardworking taxpayers. His position appears to be a minimalist approach to spending cuts, coupled with a two-fisted clutch for all the extra taxes he can squeeze out of a battered and reeling population. And enough deficit spending to drown America in a sea of blood-red ink.
In his latest ultimatum to the American people, Obama swears that if the Republicans don't cave and give him the massive tax increase he demands, then he will refuse to renew the Bush tax cuts, saddling us with an automatic $800 billion in hikes:
After PresidentBarack Obama presented the outlines of a deficit-cutting deal on Sunday, White House officials stressed that he would veto any attempt to extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans beyond next year unless other measures to reform the U.S. tax code were agreed....
Obama had pressed Republicans to agree to close some tax loopholes for corporations and raise taxes on the wealthy as part of a "grand bargain" deficit-cutting agreement. But Republicans balked, saying any tax hikes would hurt the economy, and that debate prevented a deal for weeks.
Now, if the deal passes, the issue of raising revenues will move to the new congressional committee. The White House said if tax reform does not succeed there, the tax cuts put forward by formerPresident George W. Bush will be history.
"The president has been clear that he's not going to sign an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. So absent any kind of comprehensive tax reform, you have $800 billion, roughly, of revenue that's going to be gained through the expiration of those tax cuts," a White House official said.
"That's something that is going to be, I think, a motivational thing for both parties, to kind of control the tax reform process as you can, as opposed to be victim to the expiration of those tax cuts."
The Obamunist, who has always longed to steal from the productive and give to the idle, sees himself in the catbird seat: The Democratic majority in the Senate will never allow Republicans to override the president's veto; so he imagines his tax attack is undefendable, forcing the GOP to cave. (We see it as indefensible.) His spokesmen typically revert to smirking, their natural style:
"The president has made clear that if we don't have comprehensive tax reform, he is not going to extend," one official said.
"And those in Congress will have to decide whether or not they will then allow the middle-class tax cuts to expire. Our sense is they probably won't. So, again, I think that's an incentive for everybody."
But Obama appears to have forgotten something important in his glee at being able to threaten the middle-income once more; he has forgotten the issue of timing. In fact, his plot has a gaping hole the GOP can hit with its eyes closed.
The Bush tax cuts are due to expire at the end of 2012... that is, on December 31st, 2012. My guess would be that Obama either pushed for or accepted that date because he didn't want to have to revisit it before the election. (Sound familiar?)
But the net effect is that the tax cuts don't expire until 55 days after the next elections -- and a scant three days before the 113th Congress convenes... and only twenty days before the president is sworn in, whether Obama or somebody new. And we'll know before the tax expires what the new Congress and (maybe) new White House will look like. More than likely, the incoming Congress will be significantly more Republican than the outgoing (112th); the GOP will probably control both chambers by strong margins.
Even if Obama is returned to la Casa Blanca, he will find himself a strangler in a strange land, whose only power is to throttle bills that don't have sufficiently widespread support among voters to encourage a few Democrats to join with all Republicans to overturn the Obamic veto, thus staving off a massive tax hike. I predict that to save his face, rather than suffer the humiliation of being overridden, Obama will cut a deal.
And of course, there is a very good chance that Obama himself will be a lame duck, solving the problem. Even if there are enough Democrats left in the Senate to filibuster the continuation of the tax cuts, the Republican majority could craft a new bill nearly identical to the old and send it through the un-filibusterable budget process.
Thus Obama's tax threat is completely empty: The "expiration" of the Bush tax cuts will be determined, not by Obama and the Senate Democratic majority, but by the Republican majority and perhaps a Republican president. The Bush tax cuts will almost certainly be either (a) extended another two years, if Obama manages to get reelected, or (b) made permanent if we have a new Republican president.
And of course, the crushing load of almost a trillion dollars in new taxes -- which looms over the American people, a Sword of Democratocles, so long as Obama occupies the White House -- gives voters yet another reason to vote the fellow out of office. Firing Obama is the swiftest and surest way to prevent the District of Columbia hoovering away even more of our own money.
Let him scurry off to New York to succeed U.N. Secretary General Nanki-Poo; that's more his style anyway, this "proud citizen of the world."
July 31, 2011
How I Accidentally Joined the "Far-Right Wing" of the Republican Party...
...and found inner-ear[mark] balance
This story is simply, as Spencer Tracy might say, "cherce." We have a new definition of the phrase "far-right wing" of which I was previously unaware:
Even by House standards, the debate was rowdy and sharp-edged, as lawmakers in both parties hooted and shouted down their colleagues across the aisle. Republicans booed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who accused Boehner of going “to the dark side” when he rewrote his debt-limit bill to add required passage of a balanced budget amendment -- a change designed to appeal to his far-right wing.
Pelosi turned toward her GOP colleagues and said it again with emphasis. “Let me repeat,” she said, “he chose to go to the dark side.”
My! I had no idea that I was a far-right winger; but I must confess to the infamous crime of believing the government should be forced to live within its means, by a balanced-budget constitutional amendment, if that's what it takes. I'm shocked, shocked to discover into what a disreputable bucket that seemingly obvious opinion plops me.
Still, I must be the very first anarcho-libertarian in history to simultaneously be a far-right conservative; so that's something, anyways. Kudos to the WaPo for promptly reporting this update in my political status; should I expect a new membership card?
July 29, 2011
Crass Ceiling - UPDATED
Update: See four grafs below...
I read that the House passed yet another bill to rescue the American economy and raise the putative "debt ceiling" and sent it along to the Senate.
The Senate rejected it out of hand, probably before it even landed on the desk of Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 75%):
At the other end of the Capitol, Senate Democrats scuttled the measure without so much as a debate on its merits. The vote was 59-41, with all Democrats, two independents and six Republicans joining in opposition.
(As of the time of this post, I cannot yet discover who the six compromised Republicans are who voted with the Democrats to kill the bill.)
UPDATE: Beldar has the skinny on which Republicans voted with the Democrats to kill the Boehner bill; but I was as wrong as Beldar himself on who they would turn out to be. In fact, rather that reject it because they sided with "Pinky" Reid, each of the six GOPpers who voted down the bill objected to it from the right: They thought it didn't have enough cuts and was too liberal!
The Sound Six Sens comprised Lindsey Graham* (R-SC, 92%), Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%), Orrin Hatch (R-UT, 100%), Mike Lee (R-UT, not yet rated by ACU), Rand Paul (R-KY, not yet rated by ACU), and David Vitter (R-LA, 95%).
* Graham is very liberal on many social and military issues, particularly on the War Against Radical Islamism; but he is typically very conservative on economic policy.
I heartily apologize to the Half-Dozen Hardboiled Yeggs, who held the line; I suspect if it was close, if it would have made a difference, they would have thought harder about whether a spending freeze -- which is what the Boehner plan amounted to -- was at least better than whatever might come next.
As President Barack H. Obama tweeted today, "The time for putting party first is over." In that spirit, when, oh when, will Republicans finally compromise -- by agreeing en masse to the Democrats' plan to raise taxes; syrocket spending; accelerate borrowing faster than the speed of light; and implement (by force, if possible) the complete leftist agenda of President B.O.?
God's Obama's sake, can't the GOP just slavishly follow the Dear Leader for a change, as the Democrats have learned to do? It would be a wonderful, bipartisan act of contrition for all the children; senior citizens; persons of color; women; cute, fuzzy, non-human, pet-like wild mammals; and special legislative interests, who the greedy corporate-jet owners in the GOP have held down for over three hundred years!
What selfish cads those Republicans must be. It's all George Bush's fault; I can feel it in my loans.
July 17, 2011
The Conservative Radical in Chief
Yesterday, President Barack H. Obama pooh-poohed the notion that any government program needed radical revamping:
Fighting back against Republican calls for greater spending cuts, President Obama said Friday that the government doesn’t need to make major changes to get its budget back on track and called for that solution to include some trims coupled with tax increases.
“Here’s the good news: that it turns out we don’t have to do anything radical to solve this problem. Contrary to what some folks say that -- we’re not Greece. You know, we’re not Portugal,” Mr. Obama said at his third press conference in three weeks, using his most powerful public relations tool to take his arguments directly to voters.
Well -- not exactly; what he really said was that no government program that was already despicably intrusive, massively overbudget, and growing like a cancer needed a radical trim; he still supports radical "reform" of those fews segments of the universe that have not yet been nationalized, including health care, energy, union-election rules, eating, the planetary climate, the biosphere, and Capitalism itself.
His only consistent philosophy of goverance is that government growth is a ratchet that only allows movement in one direction: towards increasing federal control over the individual. He wants to complete the vision of reconstructing the New Obamunist Man, and deconstructing traditional America.
In Obama's budget and debt crisis of 2011, he has so far identified approximately $2 billion in actual cuts he might be willing to swallow... assuming he gets the $600 billion to $800 billion in tax increases on millionaires (who aren't paying their fair share), oil companies (who work with icky, stinky oil), and any corporation whose employees travel often enough to make it more cost effective for the corporation to own its own jet -- not counting his own administration, which of course maintains a fleet of jets, helicopters, and limos in case the Lord Reformer, the First Family, and the First Entourage desire to travel somewhere for work or play (mostly play).
See? A balanced approach to solving the crisis, something for everyone!
At least he has shown a willingness to be flexible about the negotiations with Congress:
The president said there are three options on the table: a big deal that totals $4 [tr]illion in tax increases and potential spending cuts; a plan about half that size; and a “fallback position” that would increase the debt limit but push off action on the deficit.
In other words:
- A staggering tax increase plus a light dusting of decreases in spending increases sometime in the nebulous future.
- A staggering tax increase without even the illusion of that "light dusting."
- Raising the debt limit unconditionally to any level the resident president demands.
“'If they show me a serious plan, I’m ready to move,' he said." Well you can't say he doesn't give us options!
I think somewhere in his youth, President B.O. misunderstood the phrase, "command economy." Rather than meaning economic decisions under the direct control of a centralized government, Barack Obama misheard it as an economy that responds directly, as if by magic, to any command, demand, or pronunciamento issued by the sorcerer's apprentice -- like a command genie: "I command thee to destroy all energy production but still run all the power devices I think are cool!" *Blink!* "I command thee to double the tax rates but still have a vibrant, growing economy!" *Blink!* "I command the oceans to recede and the Earth to heal!" *Blink!*
Too bad Barbara Eden is no longer working in that line; otherwise, the emperor could command his Jeannie blink him a new set of clothes.
November 2012 cannot come soon enough for me.
July 13, 2011
Look What We Made the Obamacle Do, Part Two
I seem to have dropped a casual bombshell in the sister-post to this, and I ought to cite a source.
After writing the following --
Money comes into the American treasury all the time: quarterly tax payments, corporate taxes, employee withholding, sales of government property, fees, licenses, and so forth. I understand that such continuous income greatly exceeds the bare-bones payment obligations of the United States government -- entitlement payments and debt service. In other words, we have enough revenue to meet those obligations; just not enough to meet them in addition to all the other expensive projects that the Obamunists want to fund at the same time...
-- I received a comment from a frequent commenter who raised the obvious question: Was my back-of-the-thumbnail guesstimate about income and outgo correct? MikeR asked,
You made a claim that there is enough money to cover our bare-bones obligations. I have heard otherwise: That in the month of August, we would essentially have to choose between paying our soldiers, Social Security, and debt service. Did you have a source?
Ask and ye shall receive. I found this on the American Spectator blog, posted today:
But, assuming the debt limit is reached and the Treasury has the power to privilege certain bills over others, there's no doubt that it's within it's power to pay Social Security recipients. The federal government will take in about $172 billion in August, and owe roughly $307 billion. It will have no problem paying the interest on the debt (about $30 billion) and Social Security recipients (about $50 billion).
But what about "paying our soldiers?" The author of the Spectator blogpost, Joseph Lawler, digs deeper:
Bloomberg Businessweek has created a debt ceiling prioritization calculator, using figures from the Bipartisan Policy Center. Using broad categories, it shows which items the government could continue to fund past the deadline while avoiding a default on the debt. By BPC's calculations, it would be possible to continue paying not only for Social Security and the interest on the debt, but also Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, active duty military pay, TANF [welfare], food stamps, and Homeland Security emergency preparation and response, with billions left over just in case.
Joseph Lawler is the managing editor of the American Spectator; Bloomberg L.P., which publishes Bloomberg Buisinessweek (formerly BusinessWeek), is nearly entirely owned (88%) by Michael Bloomberg, the current Mayor of New York City and a flaming Democrat, for all that he ran for the mayorship as a "Republican." He, his company, and the magazine are hardly likely to tilt towards tea partiers, conservatives, or actual Republicans. I think it safe to trust them all on this point, which constitutes an admission against the Left's interest.
(To be a compleat completist, another commenter, LarryD, posted much of this same information in a comment to the previous post; and MikeR himself found a similar story here.)
Just remember: When in doubt, always trust Big Lizards; we may not always be right, but we're never wrong. (And Power Line. And Patterico's Puntifications, of course; trust them too. And even Beldar, when you can scrape the crust off'n him; but that's a whole 'nuther box of fish.)
July 12, 2011
Look What We Made the Obamacle Do!
First it was "Hope and Change," where any kind of change would make things better, any government spending at all would be "stimulative," and hope arose from the mere fact that a man who called himself "post-partisan" and "post-racial" had planted himself in la Casa Blanca. Under his reign, the oceans would subside, the Earth would heal, and like Milo Minderbinder's M&M Enterprises, everybody would have a share.
This idyllic intro-interlude quickly morphed into "gangster government," as Michael Barone put it: a lethal combination of legal bribery from unions and other special-interest groups, followed by wholesale privileges (literally, "private laws") granted to favored constituencies, from auto-worker unions, to teachers, to gays, to federally privileged minorities, to Silicon Valley billionaires, to silicone-mountain Hollywood elites. The president had discovered that democracy is messy, and even those who disagree with Obama are allowed to vote, protest, organize, and voice their opinions.
Faced with such disunity and "chaos" coming from bitter people who cling to their religion and their guns, what was a newly anointed Keeper of the Vision supposed to do? Naturally he had to turn to criminal mobs to appease the liberal mobs who made him -- and who could break him just as easily.
But at last, after years of increasingly dirty (and incompetent) governance coupled with crony "capitalism," the administration of Barack H. Obama slithered into its third and terminal phase: extortion government, in which the President of the United States directly threatens to inflict grievous damage, in a planned and calculating way, upon the most vulnerable of his own people -- unless his political opponents kow-tow to his every demand. (Actually, as Barack Obama considers himself a "fellow citizen of the world," perhaps he doesn't consider them "his people" in the first place.)
In a sense stronger than merely symbolic, Barack Hussein Obama has become Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre, architect of the French Revolution, the bloodiest community-organizing mob action in history.
Witness: France during the Terror had the guillotine, the "national barber;" America, held hostage, has the deficit -- the national credit card. The administration has maxed out the national credit card (even gone over the limit), and the president is beside himself that he cannot continue charging, charging, and charging to pay for his caviar tastes in government largess.
So today, in a fit of pique, Obama threatens that unless Republicans agree immediately to a Brobdingnagian hike in the national credit card's credit limit and to trilliions of dollars in new taxes and spending, he will deliberately, and with malice aforethought, refuse to send out Social Security and Veterans Benefits checks.
"I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Mr. Obama said in an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley, according to excerpts released by CBS News.
"Look what you made me do!"
But of course, the administration is responsible for all federal spending. Congress can only appropriate; it's up to the Executive actually to send out the checks. And that means the president has the legal authority and obligation to prioritize spending.
In this case, he has the duty to privilege certain spending -- interest and principal payments to bond holders and "entitlement" payments to seniors and veterans, among others -- over other types of spending, including payments to doctors and hospitals under ObamaCare; block grants to states; foreign aid; funding of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, paying vendors and federal contractors; paying for travel by government employees (including the president, Mrs. President, and their posse/entourage); money to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Mental Health, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and every other federally funded foundation or institute (no matter how worthy); and even paying federal workers.
Not to mention the hundreds of billions of dollars appropriated by Congress every year for porkbarrel projects in the districts of powerful representatives and senators.
Money comes into the American treasury all the time: quarterly tax payments, corporate taxes, employee withholding, sales of government property, fees, licenses, and so forth. I understand that such continuous income greatly exceeds the bare-bones payment obligations of the United States government -- entitlement payments and debt service. In other words, we have enough revenue to meet those obligations; just not enough to meet them in addition to all the other expensive projects that the Obamunists want to fund at the same time. (What's most galling, of course, is that Barack Obama himself and his cronies in Congress are the very culprits who brought on this terrible financial catastrophe in the first place. "Look what I made you make me do!")
The obvious solution presents itself.
Every large corporation must have a budget; and every such budget must, among other requirements, prioritize the corporation's financial obligations: What gets paid first? What gets paid second, third, nth? I suspect that if a publicly traded corporation was so mismanaged that it didn't even have a contingency plan for what bills to pay if it experienced a sudden revenue shortfall, not only would it be liable for massive lawsuits, but the SEC and the Justice Department might open a criminal investigation of the corporate officers.
Thinking of the federal government as the nation's largest (if not the world's largest) corporation, then mustn't it, too, have a heirarchy of payments to guide the president during a temporary shortfall? Isn't the obvious lack of such an emergency plan, resulting in threats to withhold pledged funds to those who could literally die from such embezzlement -- which is what the president's threat amounts to -- the very definition of financial malfeasance and nonfeasance?
But this sort of hysterical extortion is the liberal's stock in trade. I cannot begin to count how many times a Democratic governor or mayor has responded to reduced revenues by threatening to furlough police and firefighters first, before even considering laying off the thousands of non-essential government workers, from state license form filler-outers and scrutinizers, to inspectors who prowl neighborhoods to make sure nobody has the wrong kind of front lawn or too high a fence, to complicated "diversity" (affirmative action) schemes, to pothole repair, to state highway construction, to light rail, to establishment of new state parks, to city-hall barbers, to spiraling billions to state "education" funding.
It's a vile and shabby trick: Pandering to the liberal mob, Obama attacks the weakest and most vulnerable citizens by directly threatening them with penury and starvation unless Republicans cave. "Nice pension you have there; sure would be a shame if something was to happen to it..." Such intimidation of America's own citizens is so thuggish, so antidemocratic, so unAmerican that it easily rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors in the meaning of Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution.
Any ordinary person would burn with shame to threaten the old, the sick, and wounded vets just to enact his pet policies, against the clearly expressed will of the people. I can only conclude that Obama's narcissism is so advanced that he has become a functional sociopath -- the anti-Clinton -- literally incapable of feeling anybody's pain, responsive only to his own sense of aristocratic entitlement and his outrage at being thwarted.
Obama's "audacity" is positively brazen; it doesn't even occur to him to conceal his real motivation. He nakedly commands this issue to go away until after his presumed re-coronation next year:
Mr. Obama has repeatedly said he wants a deal that would allow the U.S. to avoid confronting the issue again until after the 2012 elections and vowed on Monday that he would "not sign a 30-day or a 60-day or a 90-day extension."
He insists that both sides "put politics aside" -- and simply enact the Democratic minority agenda. There's post-partisanship for you, Chicago style. What's next? Will President B.O. take a page from the National Lampoon? "If Republicans don't raise taxes and jack up the debt ceiling, we'll kill this dog!"
November 2012 cannot come soon enough. I only wonder... if Barack Obama continues on the path he has trodden for the past two and a half years, will he become the first incumbent president to lose all fifty-seven states?
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
April 12, 2011
After the umpteenth time (literally!) I've read or heard the phrase "spending orgy" or "orgy of spending," I must finally rise to a point of language.
I strongly and stentorianly object to calling the economic policy of the Barack H. Obama administration a spending orgy: In normal parlance, an orgy is a consensual sexual gathering among like-minded, willing, even eager participants; and most particularly, everyone who gets blued and tattooed enjoys it.
This hardly describes the Obamic frenzy of wealth redistribution (from everybody else to the federal government). The vast majority of bluees aren't even aware of what's happening to them, but are nevertheless frantic with the inchoate feeling that something in their lives has gone dreadfully awry. Like Winston Smith, they feel powerless to resist collaborating even in their own destruction.
So let's have an end to corrupting the word "orgy" by associating such a pleasant pastime with unwanted financial violence, unendingly perpetrated upon an unwilling population by the bloodthirsty, bureaucratic undead.
I suggest a far more descriptive term: The Obama administration, with its Democratic co-conspirators, freebooters, yeggs, and sordid gallows bait, is engaged in fiscal wilding -- which leads inexorably to mass alienation of the citizenry, widespread solipsism, and the final collapse into inhuman decadence and societal self-immolation.
A more despicable enormity is hard to imagine in a Western liberal democracy. To borrow a phrase from the Demiurge himself... President Obama must leave.
April 8, 2011
The looming shutdown hits us harder than most. As you probably know, Sachi works for the U.S. Navy as a civilian engineer. According to the Department of Defense shutdown plan, for as long as the shutdown continues, Sachi must still go to work and do her normal job -- but she doesn't get paid.
We're supposed to be reimbursed later, when the federal government regains spending authority (via a DoD appropriations bill or continuing resolution); but how late is "later?" We can go a few paychecks without paychecks, but at some point it's going to become dicey.
Neverthelesss, Sachi and I both support the firm stance that Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH, 96%) has taken so far: Above all else, we must hugely, dramatically, and permanently cut federal spending. We also support the "policy riders" cutting off federal funding for NPR, Planned Parenthood, and for the EPA's adventures in Globaloney-land; though it might be reasonable to bargain away the riders in the FY 2011 continuing resolution -- but not the FY 2012 budget and appropriations -- in exchange for even larger spending cuts, as Beldar suggested yesterday.
As you might expect, we're avidly following the discussion of what the shutdown will entail; we're particularly concerned that voters assign blame for the shutdown to those who actually caused it: the demagoguing Democrats and puerile president who set out to spend us into oblivion. Many political historians on both right and left (mostly left) blame the last two shutdowns in 1995-6 for Bill Clinton's resurgence and reelection the next year, and the fall of Newt Gingrich and the conservative revolution two years later.
In particular, folks blame one unfortunate remark by the Newtster the day after the first, five-day shutdown began:
At a breakfast session with reporters, Mr. Gingrich said he was insulted and appalled that, on the long trip aboard Air Force One this month to and from the funeral of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the president failed to invite the Republican leaders to the front of the plane to discuss the budget, and then made them exit at the rear of the plane.
In many voters' minds, that solidified the idea that a major motivating factor in the strong continuing resolution authored by Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Blob Dole was... pure pique at Clinton's lèse majesté towards Newt. To put it mildly, that impression did not help the cause.
Thus I was pleased to read this post by Beldar, speak of the Devil, to whose judgment I fake deference:
I'm no pollster, and in fact I'm intensely skeptical of public opinion polling as a proxy for the only polls that count -- electoral polls on election day. But I think there are two fundamental differences between now and 1995 that both reduce the political risk to the GOP now, as compared to then:
Beldar's two differences are:
- America is more polarized today than in 1995. Since there are fewer people truly on the fence, there are fewer who would be swayed left or right by the shutdown.
The proximate cause of the shutdown is not the GOP's attempt to cut federal spending; most voters want them to continue slashing spending anyway.
Nay, the real proximate cause of the shutdown is simple: The Democrats never passed either an FY 2011 budget or any of the major appropriations bills (which can be passed even if no budget was enacted), back in 2010, when they controlled both House and Senate by lopsided majorities (and the presidency, of course). Therefore, spending authority simply expires -- until and unless a new appropriation or a new continuing resolution is passed by both chambers of Congress and signed by President Barack H. Obama. The feds have cash... they simply have no authority to spend it!
So first, not many voters are undecided about whose fault this is; and second, among those who are, Republicans have a much better argument to make that it's the Democrats' fault.
But Beldar got me thinking, and I believe there are a number of other differences as well. I e-mailed a detailed list to him; in response, Beldar expressed faux befuddlement why I hadn't posted it on Big Lizards instead.
So what the heck; I decided to pretend that I hadn't realized it was a humorous remark -- which, considering my usual obtuseness, is an easy act to sell. Besides, I need a post today; and the only character trait more widely known than my humorlessness is my towering, colossal laziness. Since I'd already written the dadblamed thing, all I had to do was slap it into Movable Type, and voilà -- Instapost! (Apologies to GR.)
So here we go; five easy theses for why America, We the People, and Republicans are in much better shape to weather this government shutdown than any of us was in 1995:
- We don't have a bomb-throwing, conservative fire-breather as Speaker of the House, as many thought we did back then; we have the pedestrian but moderate-sounding John Boehner. It's impossible to imagine Boehner making the sort of petulant statement that Newt did in 1995.
- Back in 1995, the lamestream media enjoyed a virtual monopoly over news dissemination. Fox News Channel was still a year in the future; political blogs were barely extant before the year 2000 (even Instapundit didn't spring into existence until late 2001); political talk-radio comprised NPR and Rush Limbaugh.
Today, fewer and fewer get their news from the antique organs of unacknowledged bias; more and more read openly partisan media, both old and new. With many more viewpoints, nobody has a monopoly on spin.
- With the advent of consumer-driven news bias, voters of all ideologies have necessarily become less credulous and more skeptical, even cynical. Over the post-WWII decades, we've matured (or over-ripened) from Uncle Walter to cui bono.
Bill Clinton was a loveable rogue, and I'm sure he thoroughly enjoyed beating up on Newt Gingrich for the telltale snort. But it's an absurd over-simplification to argue that the government shutdown "caused" Clinton's reelection.
The proximate cause of Clinton's reelection was that "the party of orderly succession" chose to nominate lumpy Blob Dole against the colorful Comeback Kid. Imagine how the race might have gone had Don Rumsfeld carried through his intention to run for the presidency, and had he been nominated; he might very well have defeated the 49% president.
We don't yet know who will be the nominee in 2012; but if it's Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, or even House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan Himself (R-WI, 96%), I'm quite sure that he will do a heck of a lot better in debates, campaigning, and the eventual election than Dole's dismal 40.7%.
- Finally, today we have the example of 1995 before us; one presumes that this time, Republicans will make at least some effort to avoid the pitfalls (and pratfalls).
For all these reasons and those Beldar originally enunciated, I think we anti-Progressivists are in a much better position today than we were sixteen years ago.
And that's the way it was; keep the giraffe burning.
April 7, 2011
Stand By Your Clan: Progressivist Priorities Shall Remain in Effect During Shutdown
This just in from the Associated Depress (via the San Jose Mercury News):
Apart from the spending cuts, Republicans are demanding Democrats and the White House accept at least some of the conservative policy provisions included in the earlier legislation.
Democrats have already ruled out agreeing to stop funding the year-old health care overhaul or to deny Planned Parenthood all federal money. And Reid has said he will not agree to any of the curbs Republicans want to place on the Environmental Protection Agency.
To make it crystal clear, Democrats, including the one currently occupying la Casablanca, are perfectly happy to shut down the government, prevent people from receiving their tax refunds, wipe out tens or thousands of family vacations to the nation's capital (and Capitol) already planned and paid for, and oh yes, withhold the pay of our soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen, along with the civilian employees of the Department of Defense who are so vital to our nation's defense.
But President Barack H. "Lucky Lefty" Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-NV, 95%), and their Progressivist posse absolutely insist upon full funding for ObamaCare, full federal funding for abortions, and giving the EPA authority to wreck the economy trying to air-condition the entire Earth. Hey, you gotta draw the line somewhere!
Just so you know.
April 4, 2011
"A License to Cut" Medicare and Medicaid
My favorite blogger, ____ _________, at my favorite blog (_____ ____) has already put up a wizard of a post about Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI, 96%) plan to cut $400 quadrillion (or something like that) from the budget over the next ten years. To cut a long chase short, here's the nuts:
In that plan, Ms. Rivlin and Mr. Ryan proposed that Medicaid financing be converted into a block grant program, with states given a set allotment of money and new discretion to shape health coverage programs for the poor. Their Medicare proposal would allow those nearing eligibility to remain with the current system, and it would create a program that would provide payments to Medicare enrollees to buy private health insurance.
Top Republicans have been divided on how much to tinker with Social Security, given strong Democratic opposition, its less significant contribution to the budget deficit and the political explosiveness of making any changes to the program. Officials say the budget will probably provide guidance on how to shape Social Security based on recommendations from last year’s presidential deficit-reduction committee.
But somehow, ____ missed the Rep. John Yarmuth (R-KY, 100%) quote that really makes our limbs convulse like a high-voltage electroshock seizure -- in unadulterated glee at the profundity of serendipitous brilliance. Picture a hot under the collar, outraged, un-House-broken, union-label Democrat -- "I always voted at my party's call, and I never thought of thinking for myself at all" -- jabbing a meaty forefinger and spitting contempt:
Democrats said they intended to draw sharp distinctions between their approach and that of Republicans.
“The idea of block-granting and flexibility kind of sounds good, but it is actually code for cutting,” said Representative John Yarmuth, a Kentucky Democrat on the Budget Committee. “It is a license to cut.”
By Yngvi, I think he's got it!
February 20, 2011
Wanna see the whole problem with Obamanomics in a knothole, and with Democratic/Progressivist/socialist economics in general? Take a look at this and see if you can spot what's wrong with the picture:
The latest congressional showdown centers on spending for the current fiscal year, which is one-third over. House Republicans have promised to cut $60 billion from "discretionary non-security" programs. Those programs comprise only 12 per cent of the entire budget, and they exclude items such as the military, Social Security and Medicare, the government program that provides health care coverage for the elderly.
President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats say such cuts would be reckless and damaging at a time when the economic recovery remains fragile. They want to freeze discretionary, non-security spending at current levels for five years. That would slow or halt the typical annual climb, but Republicans say it's not enough....
At his news conference last week, Obama chastised both parties for even talking about a shutdown.
Federal spending must be tamed, the president said, but "let's use a scalpel. Let's not use a machete. And if we do that, there should be no reason at all for a government shutdown."
If you're not quite sure what I'm getting at, perhaps it would help to remind you that the current budget -- the one from which we're talking about cutting $60 billion -- is about $3.5 trillion... or to put it another way, about $3,500 billion.
If you're still stumped, then I suspect you're one of the few Democrats who reads Big Lizards! Here is the key: $60 billion constitutes less than 1.8% of the federal budget.
If Barack H. Obama considers 1.8% a "machete," then the "scalpel" he's thinking of must be a strand of monomolecular wire from Larry Niven's science-fiction stories. Just how thin and transparent does the president believe he can shave the baloney before the customers tar and feather him and ride him out of town on a rail?
But wait -- these reductions are taken entirely from "discretionary non-security" federal spending. Might the GOP cuts be huge and drastic compared to that one sliver of the budget?
By my calculations, that portion is a scant $609 billion. Yet the $60 billion Republicans want to cut still constitutes less than 10% of "discretionary non-security" spending alone. Evidently, even that's far more than the Left can tolerate.
Therefore I conclude that in reality, the deepest "cuts" Democrats will ever accept would be a modest decrease... in their proposed rate of increase of federal spending. And there's yer problem light there: The gap between Capitalist and socialist economics isn't sixty billion dollars; it's sixty lightyears.
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