It’s Time for Principles

I truly wish elections didn’t turn so much on the state of the economy. I’d rather people have a more basic understanding of principles that emanate from a Biblical foundation—economic, moral, education, governing—and a fidelity to the limits imposed by constitutional authority. Those limits were placed there by the Founders for the sake of preserving our liberties.

There are times when the bad state of the economy will work out in favor of the change I desire [the current situation, hopefully], but it also works the other way: think “Bill Clinton.” So, as I said, it would be preferable if the electorate weren’t so fluid, tossed by every wave of economic uptick and downturn.

As 2012 approaches, many will simply look at how the economy is functioning and make choices based on that. If things continue as they are, Obama is in trouble:

While mouthing the platitudes of controlling the deficit and reducing spending [anyone remember his promise to go through the budget line by line, eliminating pork?], he has never met a spending cut he has liked, except possibly for defense, which just happens to be the main reason for the government to exist in the first place.

The president recently went to Europe to attend the G8 meeting. On the way to the meeting, he stopped off in Ireland, from which some of his ancestry hails. That country has had some of its own economic woes:

Obama’s counterparts in the Congress aren’t doing much better at facing reality. By law, the Congress should have passed a budget by April 15. The House, controlled by the Republicans, did its part before that date. We’re still waiting on the Senate. Now, who is in control there? Oh, right . . .

Majority Leader Harry Reid has even said he doesn’t plan to put forward a budget. The strategy is to continue criticizing the Republicans’ plan. This is not new territory for Sen. Reid. When the whole Congress was controlled by Democrats before the last election, neither the House nor the Senate passed a budget. For them, apparently, politics takes priority.

It should work against them. If the electorate truly understood the requirements and saw clearly that the Senate Democrat leadership is ignoring its responsibilities, that leadership should have to pay dearly in 2012. Will that happen?

Meanwhile, Republicans—or some of them, at least—are attempting what has been long considered the political impossibility of tackling out-of-control entitlements. In the past, any attempt to make changes to Social Security, in particular, has been political suicide. Social Security often has been labeled the “third rail of American politics.”

Will they have the backbone to do what’s necessary? If the voters wake up and realize the whole system is on the verge of collapse and something meaningful has to be done, there is hope. Again, I would prefer that Republicans do the right thing even if their plans don’t show well in public opinion polls, but backbone is stiffened when there is some degree of public support.

So, voters of America, will you do what is right or continue to be tossed here and there by the winds of economic fortune?

It’s time to be Biblically principled.

The Senate Goes AWOL

Six senators—dubbed “The Gang of Six”— have been working to come up with some kind of budget deal that they think everyone will accept. Of course, they could just adopt the Ryan plan already passed by the House, but that is anathema to the Democrat-controlled Senate. So these six, comprised of three Democrats and three Republicans, have labored to find something that will work.

No more. The six have been reduced to five with the withdrawal of Sen. Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma. He finally concluded that Democrats were not serious about real spending reductions. In other words, he’s come to a moment of clarity.

And Harry Reid, supposed majority leader, isn’t in any hurry to offer a plan. He spends most of his time blaming Republicans, despite the fact that House Republicans have put forward a plan that has passed that chamber.

Sen. Reid is about as phony as they come.

While the Senate fiddles, the U.S. economy fizzles. The debt continues to grow:

There are a few other problems as well:

To add to the consternation, there’s the issue of the debt ceiling being reached. What should Congress do about that? Well, a lesson from private life might be helpful:

Maybe it would be better to learn to live within our means and cut back? Nah, what am I thinking? That would show too much common sense.

Budget Battles–Now & Later

The Republican House passed a continuing resolution that will keep the government operating one more week and fund the military for the rest of the year, to ensure that those in harm’s way are not treated like dirt. The Democrat Senate, however, refuses to follow suit. If there is a shutdown, just who is to blame here? If logic applies at all, most citizens ought to be disgusted with the Democrat leadership.

While Republicans are attempting to deal responsibly with the budget issue, Democrats are once again playing politics—the same accusation President Obama launched against the Republicans. Harry Reid’s heroic effort to save the Cowboy Poetry funding appears to have impeded progress:

As Republicans work to put out the fiscal fire, their actions are being interpreted differently:

I’m still trying to figure out just what the Democratic plan for taking care of the national debt might be. Since they have offered no real plan, what is their fallback position?

This current budget battle is for this fiscal year only. As I noted in yesterday’s post, the only reason this is still an issue is that the Democrat-controlled Congress refused to pass a budget by last October. Once we finally get this behind us, the next budget battle will begin. Rep. Paul Ryan, Republican from Wisconsin, has drafted a detailed plan to tackle the deficit over the next decade. It even enters the field of entitlements, showing the way to rework the entire Medicare and Medicaid systems. He has something that a lot of politicians lack:

The only question now is whether he and his Republican supporters will get a fair hearing for this plan. The House certainly will consider it seriously, and make any amendments it deems necessary, but will the Senate, under Harry Reid, even bother to look at it? It’s not difficult to predict its future in that body. Hopefully, down the road, after the next election has tossed Sen. Reid from his exalted position, we can move forward. It’s a shame, though, that we’ll have to wait that long.

The Great Disappearing Act

Congress passed another stopgap continuing resolution so the government can continue to function. This needs to end sometime, and our deficit problem must be met head-on. That, of course, will require some tough choices on spending, but it won’t be easy to get Democrats to agree to those cuts.

Just last week, Harry Reid bemoaned how the proposed cuts would end a very valuable program for cowboy poetry. Let me repeat that: a very valuable program for cowboy poetry. I decided I should repeat it because you might have thought you read it wrong. No, he was serious.

I’m trying to recall which provision in the Constitution allows taxpayer money to be used for cowboy poetry. If you find it, please let me know.

So the fiscal issue is a major concern. Will Congress be able to tackle it, or will stubborn resistance to cuts lead to a government shutdown? Someone needs to face reality.

There are also social issues on the docket. For instance, Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood, which is the foremost proponent of abortion-on-demand in the country. Again, where does the Constitution authorize taxpayer money to take the lives of innocent children? Is the Congress going to be able to find common ground here?

The “great disappearing act” is going to make those issues troublesome as well.

At least we have a president who is fully engaged with the most pressing issues of the day:

He was known as “Senator Present” in the Illinois Senate when he voted “present” a multitude of times. It appears we now have “President Present.” Of course, when I consider what he would promote if he truly were engaged, it makes me thankful that he has decided to be a non-entity.

Obamacare's Fate

The House vote to repeal Obamacare was the fulfillment of a pledge to the electorate. Thus far, Republicans have kept their promise. Even though Harry Reid has said he will not allow any debate on the measure in the Senate, Republican leaders in that body are saying they have ways to make it happen. Again, it appears they are remaining faithful to the platform on which they ran in November.

It is possible that a few Democrat senators, particularly those who feel vulnerable in the upcoming 2012 elections, may jump ship and join with the Republicans if they can force a vote. If that happens, it will then all be on the president’s shoulders if he vetoes the bill. It will be him versus the Congress, making it clear to the American people that he is the obstacle to true reform. He may not like being in that position.

The “third” opinion may come from the courts. There are now 26 states combined together in one lawsuit to overturn the healthcare law, making the case that it is unconstitutional. That means that more than half the states don’t want it. This may be the quickest and most efficient route for its demise.

Forcing anyone to buy health insurance is so far removed from constitutional authority that, in a better political world, there shouldn’t even be a debate about it. But we live in this world instead, so we will have to be patient and wait for this to run its course.

Repealing Obamacare

Finally. Debate began yesterday in the House of Representatives over a bill that would repeal Obamacare. Republicans ran on this message for the November elections, so they are holding true to their promise. They are doing what their constituents required of them:

The monster has not yet been fully implemented, so now is a perfect time to kill it [oops, I ventured into dangerous dialogue territory—please, don’t anyone take that too seriously. Remember, Sarah Palin is to blame for everything, not me.]

Democrats are declaring that this would be a big mistake because repeal would raise the deficit, while keeping it would reduce the deficit. Proof? Why, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says so. Yes, as long as it is constrained to use the phony numbers given to it by Democrat leaders. There’s a principle at work here:

It is true, though, that Republicans are going to have to be in this struggle for the long haul. Repeal is not going to occur soon:

Harry Reid has already promised that if the House passes the repeal bill, he won’t allow it to come to a vote in the Senate. If only all the Senate seats had been up for that last election instead of just one-third. I do believe in the Founders’ provision to stagger the Senate elections for the sake of stability, but sometimes it would be nice to have wholesale “repeal” of most of these senators:

But at least one thing will change. In light of last week’s call for civility, we can be sure that a new tone will be set in these debates, right? Right?

Sometimes, a public repentance isn’t what it appears to be. We’ll see.

The Reid Agenda

Sen. Reid sure had an ambitious agenda for this lame-duck Congress. Considering how much he wanted to do, it would have been good if he had a year or so to present everything; instead, he tried to cram it all through in a few short weeks.

But “Dr.” Reid hasn’t been all that successful, thankfully. The $1.1 trillion omnibus bill bit the dust late Thursday. He warned the Republicans that if they didn’t support it, the government wouldn’t have the money to function. Amazingly, his 1,900-plus-page bill has been replaced by a one-pager that will accomplish the same goal. The new Congress—you know, the one the people recently elected—can tackle the details in January. By the way, this budget was supposed to have been presented before October 1. What was holding Sen. Reid back? Could it be he was trying to sneak something through again?

Mercifully, it is now extinct.

His DREAM Act, which is basically amnesty for many illegal immigrants, is up for a vote soon. Not entirely sure what’s going to happen there, but if it passes, we will have codified lawlessness. And then, there is that START Treaty with Russia that Vice President Biden says we shouldn’t worry about, even though half of it is written in Russian. We’re supposed to go ahead and rush that through also without fully understanding what might happen.

There’s no urgent need to decide this before the new year. Again, it’s far better to allow the new Congress to debate its merits.

Another possible “victory” he might achieve may be the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” with respect to homosexuality in the military. It’s already through the House [which might not have happened in January] and poised to pass in the Senate due to a number of Republican senators coming on board. Even conservatives such as Senator-elect Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania has said he would support it. This shows one of the biggest potential fault lines within the GOP: economic conservatives who have no concern for basic moral issues such as this.

There should be no distinction; traditional moral beliefs do not contradict support for free enterprise economics. The two should work together. In my view, this is one of the biggest battles ahead. If DADT is repealed, those who hold to basic Biblical truth must continue to try to reverse the repeal. The Left never gives up; neither should we.

So, Sen. Reid, you may accomplish one of your destructive goals.

Now, go home. Enjoy your break. Come back to a new reality when Congress reconvenes next year.