The Economy & the Political Will

The budget battle looms. Debate over how to reinvigorate the economy is ongoing. At least now the Republicans have a voice in this debate and can have an effect on the budget. If they make their case well, they can frame it in a way most Americans will grasp. They actually have a lot going for them, considering the president’s track record:

In his State of the Union Address, Obama kept talking about “investing.” He repeated that theme when speaking to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce the other day. Some translation, though, is necessary when he uses certain terms:

If he continues to have his way, we’re going to have to revise the charts we use to gauge the deficit:

Or build larger rooms.

And who can forget the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in that room—the one nobody wishes to touch?

Unless we’re willing to tackle the entitlements, all the debate will be for nothing. Bold moves are necessary. Is there enough political will to make those moves?

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.

Return of the Constitution

I remember standing in the freezing rain outside the Capitol on inaugural day 2001, watching George W. Bush replace Bill Clinton as president. It’s hard to describe the relief that swept through the crowd once he took the oath of office. Eight years of one of the sleaziest episodes in American presidential history had mercifully come to an end.

I wasn’t present on Wednesday when the Republicans once again took control of the House of Representatives, but something similar to that 2001 feeling returned. At least one step had been taken to redeem the congressional follies of the past four years.

I’m not going to speculate what was going through John Boehner’s mind in this picture as he held the gavel, but for many of us, this political cartoon captures the emotion accurately:

New Speaker Boehner, once Nancy Pelosi finally yielded the floor to him, gave a sober, humble address about taking care of the nation’s business. While Boehner is not a charismatic speaker, he spoke words of truth. Aren’t we tired yet of charismatic speakers who spout little else but platitudes? Wednesday’s transfer of authority will hopefully give us more responsible leadership in the House:

Then yesterday, the new Republican leadership made its first order of business a reading of the Constitution on the House floor. Critics called it a publicity stunt, yet when all members were sworn in, what were they pledging to do? Uphold the Constitution. Why then is the reading of the document they pledge to follow and maintain a stunt? I fear that for some of those representatives, this was the first time they’ve heard some of these provisions.

Yes, I know it won’t change anyone’s mind about what is constitutional. Progressives will mouth the pledge and proceed to undermine the authority of the Constitution. But reading it publicly served a good purpose—it was a reminder to the entire nation that lawmakers are not supposed to flout its authority. The Republicans’ new rule that each piece of legislation must also include a specific constitutional authorization serves that same purpose. Some lawmakers will have to be very creative to provide their constitutional rationales for what they want. At the very least, it opens up a much-needed debate on original intent.

For many years, I have been a voice calling for a return to the governmental limitations found in the Constitution. Please forgive me if I feel a sense of elation at this turn of events. I realize that this is only a beginning, and that the representatives’ resolve will be tested, but I rejoice still to see this day. Will even better days arrive?

Unrenewed Minds

I don’t stun easily anymore. Yet, last Friday, while attending the commencement ceremony at my university, one of my faculty colleagues did stun me with a bit of information. We were talking about the current generation and the influences on their lives. He noted that in his classes, he asks students what they consider their main source for learning about politics and the issues of the day. He reported that the majority answered—Comedy Central.

In other words, this generation looks to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as its fount of knowledge regarding current affairs.

This means that at my evangelical Christian university, students are getting their information from two individuals who have little or no regard for the faith they [the students] claim is the cornerstone of their lives.

It’s revelations such as this that have the power to keep me from going back to sleep in the middle of the night [which is when I'm writing this].

Is this the new Lost Christian Generation? Is this generation going to help shape the culture, or is it the other way around?

Speaking of generational shifts, on Saturday, the Senate passed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The House already had done so. It now goes to the president’s desk where he will rejoice at this blow against “discrimination” as he signs it into law. The vote in the Senate was 65-31.

One of the Republican senators who voted in favor of the repeal was Richard Burr of North Carolina. Burr is normally considered a solid conservative vote. When asked why he decided to vote in favor of repeal, his answer was most revealing. He said “this is a policy that generationally is right.” What does that mean? He elaborated:

A majority of Americans have grown up at a time [when] they don’t think exclusion is the right thing for the United States to do. It’s not the accepted practice anywhere else in our society, and it only makes sense.

Look carefully at that explanation. On what basis did Burr make his decision? He voted as he did simply because a new generation now believes differently about homosexuality. He has adopted the new groupthink that those who oppose homosexuality are unjustly excluding a segment of our society from their rightful place at the table, so to speak. He looks around and sees homosexuality becoming increasingly acceptable and determines to go with the flow.

There were 31 Republicans who voted against repeal, but I’m not aware that any of them showed any backbone with respect to the moral issue involved. Their arguments against repeal were primarily tactical/practical. No one apparently wanted to cross that line into a discussion of basic right and wrong. While I still maintain there is a qualitative difference between Republicans and Democrats on philosophy of government and foundational moral values, I do fear that portion of the Republican Party that just wants to go along to get along.

The culture, in general, has made its peace with the sin of homosexuality. Sin? Why do I use such loaded terminology? I do so because I continue to stand by Biblical truth. The book of Romans in the New Testament clearly lays out the case. If you haven’t read it recently, here’s what it says:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them … [and] they are without excuse.

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools …

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. …

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper … and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

This is the passage that President Obama, while running for the office, demeaned as “obscure.” There’s nothing obscure about it. Will the new generation, particularly those who claim to be Christians, stand up for Biblical principles? The future hangs on that generational decision.

Let me close with another admonition from the book of Romans:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

This Was Hostage Week

There’s been a lot of hostage talk this week. It started with President Obama and has become the mantra in Democrat talking points. I don’t get to listen to Rush Limbaugh often, but I did hear this week his revealing litany of audio clips of numerous Democrats saying almost the same thing—and always using the word “hostage” in reference to the Republicans and the continuance of the Bush tax cuts. Supposedly, we’re to believe it’s the Republicans who don’t want those tax cuts to remain in effect. Cartoonists have picked up on this “hostage” theme, but not in the way Obama intended:

I think that illustration explains what’s really been taken hostage through the Obama policies. Remember that ditch analogy he likes to use?

Right.

Of course, as I noted in a previous post, there are reasons to be concerned about the new tax deal, such as the highly expensive extension of unemployment benefits.

Are those rotten apples? Unlimited unemployment benefits are certainly rotten for the economy. When will they ever end? There will always be pressure to extend—maybe permanently.

Perhaps we just don’t understand the Obama strategy.

Why didn’t we think of this earlier?

The Tax Deal

It appears an agreement has been reached between Democrats and Republicans with respect to the Bush tax cuts—they will be extended for two years for all taxpayers [I was going to write "all Americans," but then I realized many Americans pay no income tax---52% of us cover the other 48%].

In announcing this agreement, President Obama was more than a little testy. In fact, he came across as downright petulant. One could be forgiven for calling his demeanor pouty. He obviously hated announcing the tax deal as he continued to pound Republicans as the evildoers who were holding taxpayers “hostage.”

Inadvertently, he displayed his true nature as someone who truly is ideological to the point of anger over having to compromise. What it really comes down to is that he’s not used to not getting his way. This whole “president” thing hasn’t worked out the way he envisioned. He would much rather be a monarch.

He’s not the only one unhappy; the radical Left in his party is having fits as well, and most are angry with him. Democrats may have had to compromise, but they’re visibly upset at what appears to be a Republican victory:

Two years into his presidency, Obama’s star has fallen, not only among independents but also within his own ranks. How bad is it?

Astute observation.

Posturing, Politics, and Principle

The congressional song and dance on the extension of the Bush tax cuts has been fascinating to watch. The Democrats try to position themselves as the champions of the middle class while excoriating the Republicans as tools of the filthy rich. The Republicans, meanwhile, push for extending the tax cuts to all Americans rather than just the middle class. That puts them in a bad light in the eyes of some, but those who can analyze and think clearly realize the stakes:

Taxing the rich never helps the middle class. Hopefully, a large enough segment of the middle class is beginning to recognize the false posturing for what it is.

Regardless of how this turns out in the lame-duck session, Republicans can revisit in January any horrible decisions made now. I’m disappointed by the results of the Senate race in Alaska, of course. Even though a Republican (of sorts) won there, that winner won’t be of much help righting the ship of state. Lisa Murkowski’s write-in campaign led to some strange vote counting:

In spite of the inertia Murkowski and some others bring to the Republican table, I’m still generally hopeful. There are some principled representatives taking their seats for the first time next month; let’s see what they can accomplish.