In Praise of Harmony & Mutual Respect

The budget/debt ceiling bill passed the House last night, and the Senate is slated to vote on it today. Half of the Democrats opposed it; sixty-six Republicans also said no to it. The Democrats’ objections were that there were no tax increases, there were spending cuts, and it called for the Congress to send a balanced budget amendment to the states for ratification. Republicans’ objections were that most of the spending cuts were too far down the road, there is the possibility for tax increases in the future if a special commission deems them necessary [although they would still have to pass both houses to take effect], and the debt ceiling was raised in the process.

I don’t have any sympathy with the Democrat objections, but I understand why some Republicans couldn’t bring themselves to support the measure. This is not a bill that makes a fundamental change. At the same time, I understand why the majority of Republicans went along with it: when you control only one part of the Congress and there is a president who will veto anything stronger, you go for the best deal you can get, and it does change the debate at least. No longer will Congress be pushing new spending programs; the discussion will now center on how to make effective cuts in spending. In other words, I see the strengths of both Republican positions.

What we have here is not a basic philosophical difference among most Republicans, but merely a tactical one. Is this not supportable because it doesn’t do enough, or is it instead the first step along an arduous policy road on the way to the ultimate goal?

I know some people’s passions are running high on this issue, and there are those calling for new leadership in the Republican party. Yet from other accounts I have read, even many of the Republicans who rejected this bill had words of praise for Speaker Boehner and his leadership team. They recognize he did his best, and they appreciate his efforts in a tough political climate. Although they may have voted against this specific piece of legislation, they are hopeful that it really can be a first step after all. They certainly need to pull together now if anything more significant is to be achieved. Initial reports indicate they can go forward unified in what they seek to accomplish overall.

It’s always nice to see harmony. Then, of course, there is the opposite of that. Yesterday, Vice President Biden met with disgruntled House Democrats to explain why he and the president support the bill. By all accounts, it was a heated meeting, and in the midst of that heat, a few verbal shots were fired. Apparently, the VP and/or other members of the Democrat caucus called members of the Tea Party “terrorists.”

Once again the Party of Civility leads the way into a new and brighter future where mutual respect forms the cornerstone of our political system.

Identifying the Extremists

For weeks now [I could say “for years,” but I’m trying to limit it to the present debate] we’ve been treated to a steady stream of invective from Democrats saying that “Tea Party wingnut extremists” are the barrier for reaching a budget deal. What exactly are those “extremist” views? Please choose among the following:

  • A desire to live within our means as a nation rather than going even more trillions of dollars in debt
  • A call for a balanced budget amendment—such as those that exist currently in many states—to ensure that wiser spending decisions are made
  • A reluctance to raise the debt ceiling once again, in hopes that we can turn our spending habits around
  • An attempt to reduce our current debt by $4-6 trillion to stave off the downgrading of the nation’s credit rating

These are radical, wild-eyed proposals? These are extremist policy stances?

They used to be called wisdom.

On the other side, calls for raising taxes will only hurt the economy. By the way, the very people the Democrats say they want to help—the needy—will be hurt the most by the reduction in jobs those raised taxes will cause. They are also the ones who will suffer the most by a downgraded credit rating, as costs will rise and interest rates on loans will shoot up.

And here’s some more basic knowledge that people need to learn: tax cuts do not cause deficits; as the Reagan years revealed, revenues increased significantly by lowering the tax rates. The only reason the deficits went up during Reagan’s presidency is that spending increased faster than the new revenues, thanks to a Democrat House of Representatives that promised to cut $3 in spending for every $1 dollar raised in revenue. Needless to say, they reneged on that promise.

How about a real example of extremism? Here’s former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sharing her keen insight into the budget process:

What we’re trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget. We’re trying to save life on this planet as we know it.

I’m sure glad she’s not prone to overstating anything. At least she didn’t extend her remarks to the galaxy or the universe.

Yes, there are extremists out there, but they need to be identified more accurately.

More Fiscal Crisis . . . and the Reasons for It

Talks broke off again yesterday between President Obama and Speaker Boehner regarding the debt crisis. Obama held a press conference first, claiming the Republicans just don’t know a good deal when they see it. Boehner followed with his own, noting that they were close to an agreement until Obama made a last-minute demand for more tax increases. He still labors under the ideology that seeks to drain as much out of the private sector economy as possible for the benefit of government control. I’m grateful Boehner rejected his “generous” terms.

Of course there’s another reason why the president is anxious to get more money:

The plain fact, though, is he could take ALL the money from every rich person in the country and still not have enough to cover the massive outlay of expenses for which he is responsible. And if he did so, he would undercut all economic growth. He seems bent on continuing his usual pattern:

Amazing, isn’t it, that the media portrays him as the adult and Republicans in Congress as the petulant children? Republicans in the House have twice passed legislation that would be fine steps toward reining in the spending and setting up a more responsible system. How have they been received at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue?

Then there’s that other “remedy” offered by the so-called Gang of Six. Now, there are some good people in that group, such as Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, but their proposal again focuses too much on raising revenue immediately and taking control of spending somewhere down the road—which means it would never happen.

While the fiscal fire rages, and the administration burdens businesses with more regulation and uncertainty about the future, the prospects for recovery are bleak:

Two Democrat big businessmen, one of them the CEO of Home Depot, blasted Obama this week, saying, in effect, he doesn’t know what he is doing. Well, I could have told them that back in 2007 or 2008. Late to the game, but if the lesson sticks, there might be hope in 2012. In November, that is.

Cut, Cap, and Balance Was the Right Move

The Republican-led House of Representatives has passed a bill called “Cut, Cap, and Balance.” It calls for cutting spending back to 2008 levels, capping spending to a certain percentage of the GDP, and raising the debt ceiling only if both Houses of Congress send a balanced budget amendment to the states for ratification. Political commentators are calling it dead from the start.

I agree, to a point. Will it pass the Senate? It might have a small chance [some Democrats might actually be afraid of losing theirs seats if they don’t sign on to it], but the real issue is whether Majority Leader Reid will even allow it to come to a vote. Even if it did pass the Senate, it would face a certain veto from President Obama. That’s why the political class is saying this was merely symbolic and a waste of time. That’s the part with which I disagree.

It’s important for the Republicans to stake out their position. The people of this country need to know what they stand for. They also need to know if they will abide by the promises they made in the last election. Since Republicans control only half of the Congress and have to deal with a president hostile to their efforts, there is little hope they will achieve this time what they seek, but this is all groundwork for the 2012 election. It shows, first of all, that they are serious about changing the direction of the country economically. Second, it can serve as a rallying point for the message that the Senate and the presidency must be in their hands if anything is going to be accomplished.

Therefore, I endorse what they have done. Sometimes in losing, you win.

If the voters can ever remove the blinders from their eyes, they will see what Obama’s economic policies are actually doing and how pitiful and insincere his “solutions” are:

There’s some concern on the Right about the provision for a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget—that it might hamstring the government or that it will be ineffective. Yet already the Democrat response to the call for this amendment is to decry its ability to stop any effort to raise taxes. I will consider seriously any concerns expressed, but I currently believe it’s still the only way to introduce fiscal sanity.

We shouldn’t have to need a constitutional amendment for this, but desperate times call for stronger measures.

Welcome to the Real World, Mr. President

The other day at the budget talks, President Obama abruptly ended the meeting and, according to Republican Eric Cantor, just walked out after chiding Cantor and saying, “Don’t call my bluff.” Now that’s an interesting statement. What did he mean? If you parse this accurately, apparently he’s saying, in effect, he’s actually bluffing when he declares that Republicans have to meet his criteria for dealing with the debt ceiling. Perhaps he’s only bluffing when he sadly opines that the money may not be there to pay Social Security recipients. If that’s the case, go ahead, Republicans, call his bluff.

Of course he may have just mixed up his words and said something he didn’t intend to say. You know, like he’s visited all 57 states. Or how we can save on gas by inflating our tires rather than drilling for oil. Or confusing Memorial Day with Veterans Day. I’m sure it was a simply slip-up when he declared the border fence was complete, that the Mexican holiday was called Cinco de Cuatro, and that corps is pronounced corpse.

Hey, no problem, because he’s the smartest person who’s ever been president. How do I know that? Easy—all the media tells me so.

What comes out of that meeting, though, is something that surfaces repeatedly and on which I’ve commented before. When it comes right down to it, Obama’s pretty thin-skinned. Less flattering descriptions might be “immature,” “childish,” or “petulant.” I think he really believes all his press about being so smart, and how dare lesser mortals try to correct him. He’s gone through his entire life with all the privileges: classy private schools, a Harvard law degree [who paid for that?], a smooth path in elections [primarily by finding ways to disqualify his opponents]. I’m not sure he knows how to handle anyone who actually disagrees with him. He finds it rather incomprehensible.

Welcome to the real world, Mr. Obama. That’s where the rest of us live.

Only in the realm of Obamadom can a government continue to spend more than it receives, and then blame it on not receiving enough. A reality check is sorely needed.

What he apparently doesn’t realize is that this can’t go on forever. You can’t add another $5 trillion to the debt over the next three years [like he did in the last three] and remain solvent. He’s now beginning to talk about the problem, but his solution is so insufficient it hardly qualifies as a solution. In fact, no one quite knows what it is. That’s probably because it doesn’t really exist. He just goes merrily on his way thinking nothing will change. Not true. There will be a day of reckoning.

And then he has the nerve to call out Republicans for being irresponsible—the very party that has passed a budget in the House, but which he and the Senate under Harry Reid rejected. By the way, if that August 2 deadline comes and goes, there will still be enough money coming in to the government to pay Social Security, the military, and all essential services. There just won’t be enough for everything the government pays for all the time. This could be a good thing; it would force the government for the first time to live within its means.  As I’ve explained countless times, if we would return to constitutionality and only legislate and spend money on things the Constitution gives authority to spend money on—we would be out of debt in no time.

Pressing the Dislike Button

Facebook has its “Like” button; I’m choosing to press a “Dislike” button today in my blog.

How much do I dislike President Obama’s stance on economics, the budget, and the debt talks? Let me count the ways.

First, I dislike his view of how to handle a budget:

Is that really the way he would handle his personal finances? If not, why handle the nation’s that way? If it is the way he handles personal finances, he has no business leading a country.

Second, I dislike the overt hypocrisy he displays:

There’s probably a whole lot of covert hypocrisy taking place as well, but I don’t know about that—it’s covert.

Third, I dislike his scare tactics and menacing words. They kind of come across in this way:

Finally, I dislike his disingenuousness. He claims to really want to bring the nation back to economic health, but I think he has an ulterior motive:

I could probably think of more, but that’s enough for today. You probably have your own you can add.

Battles in the Budget [and Philosophical] War

The budget battle has only begun, and one very important part of that will be the debt ceiling. House Republicans had their first vote on it last week, denying the Obama administration its desire to raise the limit.

It was only the first shot in this war. More will be forthcoming.

Then there’s the ongoing fight to repeal Obamacare. It’s really quite amazing how something that was billed as great for everyone has become the focal point of many groups wanting waivers from its requirements—and the administration doesn’t seem reluctant to give them.

Businesses see disaster approaching, so they naturally want to avoid it. Of course, the best way to avoid it is to throw it out completely.

Also on the health front is the problem with Medicare—its bankruptcy. Yet one political party doesn’t even want to think about it until much much later.

On Medicare, I take a position different from both liberals and most conservatives: I don’t think it should even exist. First, there is no constitutional authority for it; second, it is driving the nation into greater financial chaos; finally, it is program Karl Marx would have loved. Here we are getting all exercised [rightly] about Obamacare, yet we act like Medicare is wonderful. Philosophically, there’s little difference. Medicare was the brainchild of LBJ’s Great Society.

Well, I don’t expect my position to get anywhere at this point. If we can at least get it closer to a free-market solution, we will be headed in the right direction. I’ll take small steps in the right direction anytime; they can lead to bigger steps.