Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Byron York’
January 9th, 2013 at 1:50 pm
Amend Budget Act, Not Constitution to Cut Spending?

Here at CFIF we’ve promoted the idea of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would require Congress to pass balanced budgets every year with certain 60 percent supermajority thresholds for raising taxes or the debt ceiling.

The idea comes with a stellar pedigree since conservative icons like Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, and the Contract with America all supported various Balanced Budget Amendments.

Alas, the BBA has yet to become law, and with the current lineup of liberals running the U.S. Senate and White House, it will be awhile before such an idea can be seriously discussed in Washington.

That said, Byron York says that Republicans might have an opening in the coming fight over raising the debt ceiling to get closer to a balanced budget; albeit by amending a statute, not the Constitution.

On its face, the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 sets out a clear deadline for passing a budget by April 15 every year.  The problem, however, is that there is no enforcement mechanism to punish Congress if it fails to do so.  With Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Democrats failing to pass a budget for the last 1,351 days as of today, the budget law’s impotency is on full display.

York reports:

“The law doesn’t have teeth,” says a Senate aide involved in the fight.  “Sen. Sessions and others have proposed process reforms to give the budget law teeth (one reform would make it harder to pass spending bills without a budget), but the debt ceiling is the strongest leverage we have on this. This is the opportunity.”

In other words, it is precisely because the budget law has no enforcement provision that Republicans believe they need some other form of leverage, in this case the debt ceiling deadline, to force Reid and his fellow Democrats to move.  In addition, whatever happens in the debt ceiling standoff, it seems clear that the original budget law should be amended to include some sort of enforcement method.

This strategy strikes me as a great way to get real value in return for raising the nation’s debt ceiling.  Imagine how much different Obama’s first term would have been if instead of ignoring the House Republicans’ Paul Ryan-inspired budgets, the President and Senate Democrats had to negotiate its terms up against a hard deadline.  Liberals would have been forced to debate conservatives on specifics instead of substituting scare tactics for policy.

So far, Republicans have said they want entitlement reform in exchange for upping the ceiling, and for good reason since spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone account for about 44 percent of the federal budget (other entitlements push the total to 62 percent).  Moreover, since entitlement spending is not discretionary, meaning it isn’t determined in the normal appropriations process but by eligibility formulas, reining in federal spending will require statutory changes that can only be gotten when the stakes are very high.

But if York is right, then Republican strategists would be wise to include changes to the Congressional Budget Act along with spending reforms to entitlements.  Winning both would improve the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook by helping conservatives change the way Washington does business.

December 12th, 2012 at 6:00 pm
NOW They Want No Device Tax

As readers here are probably aware from all the prior pieces I’ve written on this topic, I believe one of the worst items in ObamaCare is the medical device tax, and I believe one of the worst pieces of political malpractice committed by the Romney team was the failure to campaign against it. Well, here’s more proof  of just how potent a political issue it should have been and of how awful a tax it is: Sixteen Democratic U.S. Senators and two Senators elect have written to Harry Reid asking that the device tax be “delayed.” (Quoting from a piece by Byron York) :

“[The senators wrote that] The medical technology industry directly employs over 400,000 people in the United States and is responsible for a total of two million skilled manufacturing jobs,” the senators wrote in a December 4 letter to Reid.  “We must do all we can to ensure that our country maintains its global leadership position in the medical technology industry and keeps good jobs here at home.”

Beyond that, the senators say, the medical device industry “has received little guidance about how to comply with the tax” — a reference to the apparently confused and halting nature of the Obama administration’s implementation of Obamacare.

Several of them have gone further, calling for full repeal of the tax. This should be an easy issue. It should be part of a stand-alone bill, not part of Fiscal Cliff negotiations. It enjoys a veto-proof majority. It’s time to kill this bad policy before it takes effect — or, at least, such seems to be the reasonable sentiment behind this letter from these oft-unreasonable senators.

July 17th, 2012 at 5:51 pm
Romney Needs to Toughen Up

In a typically insightful column, Byron York says there are at least five reasons why Mitt Romney’s campaign seems to be flailing.  Two jumped out at me:

Romney’s business history and taxes are two issues left unresolved from the primary campaign.  During the primaries, Republicans didn’t want to hear fellow Republicans criticizing Romney’s record at Bain Capital.  Some characterized attacks on Romney’s Bain history as attacks on capitalism itself.  Democrats and many independents don’t feel the same way, and Obama and his SuperPAC allies are relentlessly slamming Romney’s business history both nationally and in key states around the country.

Newt Gingrich complained loudly — some called it whining — when Romney first hit him with a negative ad barrage in Iowa.  Then, when Romney attacked on a far bigger scale in Florida, Gingrich reacted badly again.  Privately, the Romney campaign, which at times seemed to delight at kicking the hell out of a Republican opponent, had no respect for Gingrich’s tendency to complain when attacked.  Just take it and hit back harder — that was the way they saw it.  Now, however, Romney is complaining about Obama’s attacks.  Romney is far more self-controlled than Gingrich, but the effect is the same; he’s whining about the other guy treating him badly.  It’s the same thing that happened in the primary campaign, only with Romney on the hurting end.

The good news for Romney is that these are correctable problems.

There is an excellent defense to the “vulture capitalism” charge the Obama Administration is recycling from the GOP primaries – Troy wrote it back in January.

As for hitting back, one of the factors York mentioned but I didn’t excerpt was that GOP SuperPACs aren’t landing as many punches on Obama as Democratic SuperPACs are landing on Romney.  The latter is drowning in negative ads in swing states.

Of course, legally, SuperPACs can’t coordinate with presidential campaigns.  But York’s reporting implies that those running GOP SuperPACs aren’t sure how hard to hit Obama and on what issues.  My guess is that Romney doesn’t know himself, and is communicating that with his defensive rhetoric.

Of course, that’s not how the Obama campaign operates.  Like Romney in the primaries, they’re in the general to win.

Unsurprisingly, the Democratic SuperPACs aren’t suffering from the confusion plaguing Romney and his SuperPACs; probably because they know President Obama will “just take (whatever Romney throws)” and want his supporters them to “hit back harder.”

Like I said above, these are correctable problems, if Romney is willing to make the changes necessary to sharpen his rhetoric and toughen up his persona.

So far, that’s a BIG if…

December 29th, 2011 at 12:10 pm
Can Santorum Continue Into NH and SC?

In one of a spate of stories today about Rick Santorum’s surge in Iowa, Byron York notes in print the same potential drawback I’ve been hearing from all across the conservative spectrum:

A number of commentators have observed that even if Santorum flies high in Iowa, he faces trouble ahead.  That is true.  In the RealClearPolitics average of polls in New Hampshire, Santorum is in sixth place, with 3.8 percent of voters.  In the same average of polls in South Carolina, he is in seventh place, with 2.7 percent.  So yes, a Santorum surge could be short-lived.  But his answer would likely be: First things first; do well in Iowa and see what happens then.

The answer to that is that Santorum actually has done a lot of the same, or at least very similar, nuts-and-bolts organizing work in those next two states as he did in Iowa. In South Carolina, for example, where well-liked conservative former U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett is Santorum’s state chair, Santorum has county organizations in 42 of the 46 counties — by far the most of any candidate (according to the Santorum campaign), with Gingrich reportedly in second with 33 counties organized. And in NH, according to the Santorum campaign, the Pennsylvanian has more “endorsements” than any candidate other than Romney.

If this campaign has shown anything thus far, it is that the electorate is very volatile and that support for a single candidate can double, triple, quadruple, even quintuple in the matter of just a few weeks. It happened for Cain, Bachmann, Perry, and Gingrich. Is there any doubt that if Santorum does really well in Iowa, his “flavor of the month” status could quickly boost him elsewhere?

Finally, as I was writing this, Fox News just reported that Rasmussen is out with a new poll that confirms the CNN poll: Santorum in third, with 16 percent….

September 12th, 2011 at 4:02 pm
Perry’s Ponzi Scheme Comment Not Hurting Him

Byron York breaks down a CNN poll showing that Republican voters 65 and older (i.e. eligible to receive Social Security) favor Texas Governor Rick Perry for president more than any other GOP candidate.

This flies in the face of the current criticism of Perry’s widely discussed comment at last week’s debate that Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme.”  As far as I can tell, no one has yet shown that Perry is incorrect since in both Social Security and a Ponzi scheme the money from later investors (or taxpayers) goes to benefit earlier investors (or taxpayers).

If anything, Perry should be applauded for speaking the kind of tax-and-spend truths necessary to get a handle on the nation’s fiscal problems so we can begin to fix them.

Admittedly, there is one noticeable difference between the programs that Cato’s Michael Tanner explains perfectly:

Of course, Social Security and Ponzi schemes are not perfectly analogous. Ponzi, after all, had to rely on what people were willing to voluntarily invest with him. Once he couldn’t convince enough new investors to join his scheme, it collapsed. Social Security, on the other hand, can rely on the power of the government to tax. As the shrinking number of workers paying into the system makes it harder to continue to sustain benefits, the government can just force young people to pay even more into the system.

In fact, Social Security taxes have been raised some 40 times since the program began. The initial Social Security tax was 2 percent (split between the employer and employee), capped at $3,000 of earnings. That made for a maximum tax of $60. Today, the tax is 12.4 percent, capped at $106,800, for a maximum tax of $13,234. Even adjusting for inflation, that represents more than an 800 percent increase.

In addition, at least until the final collapse of his scheme, Ponzi was more or less obligated to pay his early investors what he promised them. With Social Security, on the other hand, Congress is always able to change or cut those benefits in order to keep the scheme going.

August 26th, 2011 at 6:47 pm
No, America, You Can’t Keep Your Health Plan

Remember when in June 2009 President Barack Obama promised that under his health care reform bill, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period.  If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period.  No one will take it away, no matter what”?

Byron York makes this contradictory observation:

On the one hand, the new law orders the establishment of health care “exchanges” through which anyone can purchase government-subsidized coverage. On the other hand, the law levies fines on employers who fail to offer coverage to their employees — but sets the fine far below the cost of coverage. In 2010, the average employer paid $4,150 to cover a single employee and $9,773 for family coverage. (Both figures are about double what they were in 2000.) The new law sets fines for employers who don’t cover their workers at $2,000.

So when it takes effect in 2014, the law will give employers a choice: Continue to offer increasingly expensive health coverage, or pay a relatively small fine, save a lot of money, and let employees buy their own subsidized coverage on the exchange. The incentive seems pretty clear.

So too does the bold-faced lie Obama told (yet again) in the health care reform debate.  Whichever GOP candidate gets nominated for president should make this issue one of the main talking points of the general election.

August 5th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
Dems Bashing Bush with Bad Math

Byron York eviscerates the common liberal meme that former President George W. Bush was worse on spending and taxes than President Barack Obama.  After showing that Bush’s tax cuts increased federal revenues and shrank deficits while Obama has increased the national debt at twice Bush’s pace, York ends with a resounding rebuke of the common “eight years of Republican rule” canard.

None of this is to say that George W. Bush had a good record on spending. He didn’t, and he’s fair game for criticism. But is it honest to condemn reckless spending in “eight years of Republican rule” when Democrats controlled the Senate for four of those years and the House for two? Is it honest to talk about the “cost” of the Bush tax cuts when federal revenues increased significantly while they were in effect? And is it honest to refer to Bush’s ballooning deficits when deficits actually trended down for much of his presidency — at least before Democrats won control of Congress?

Of course Obama partisans would like to pin the president’s troubles on Bush. But they should get their facts straight first.

July 21st, 2011 at 2:01 pm
Bachmann’s Migraines Do Not Require ‘Heavy Pill Use’

Troy’s earlier point about the media creating a false story about presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R-MN) being a pill-popping migraine sufferer is borne out by reporting from Byron York.  Citing what amounts to a doctor’s note from the resident physician in the House of Representatives (released with Bachmann’s permission), York says:

The doctor says Bachmann has had “an extensive evaluation by both my office and by a board-certified consulting neurologist.”  That evaluation, he continues, “has entailed detailed labwork and brain scans, all of which were normal.”  Monahan says Bachmann’s migraines occur “infrequently,” and that when she does have a headache, she is “able to control it well with as-needed sumatriptan and odasentron.”  Monahan says Bachmann has not needed to take the medication daily.  The two drugs, he adds, are “commonly used therapies.”

With that behind us, let’s get news that really matters, like whether Joe Biden’s botox habit is compromising his ability to advise (or possible succeed!) the president.

June 30th, 2011 at 1:45 pm
Huntsman Hiring More McCain Staff

As CFIF reported earlier this month, presidential candidate Jon Huntsman (R-UT) is hiring staff that previously worked for Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in the latter’s bids for the White House.  Byron York details how many conservatives are interpreting Huntsman’s personnel hires as accurate indications of how he thinks about policy.  (Hint: Not conservative.)

Huntsman’s top campaign aide is John Weaver, who was John McCain’s top campaign aide in 2000 and in the early stages of the 2008 campaign — campaigns that often raised the ire of the GOP base. (Weaver has also worked for some Democrats.) Other McCain veterans have signed on with Huntsman, as well. Still others, like Mark McKinnon — the aide who worked for McCain in the 2008 primaries but left because he did not want to campaign against Barack Obama — also favor Huntsman. (McKinnon is a co-founder of the “No Labels” movement, much derided by conservatives.)

When Huntsman took second place in the Republican Leadership Conference straw poll in New Orleans recently, Politico reported that he benefited from the vote wrangling of former Louisiana Rep. Joseph Cao, whom conservatives well remember as the only Republican to vote for Obamacare in the House. There’s another mark against Huntsman. And that’s before conservatives consider the fact that Huntsman spent the past two years working for the Obama administration.

The conservative base pays close attention to the people who surround a candidate. In the eyes of some, personnel can trump policy. “At both the Republican Leadership Council and at Right Online (another conservative gathering), the majority of conservative activists I spoke to said they knew nothing of Huntsman’s positions,” says conservative activist Erick Erickson, “but his campaign team had the makings of the second coming of John McCain.”

Huntsman is McCain without the war record to paper over his liberal positions on illegal immigration, cap-and-tax, and healthcare reform.  Thus, he’s a left-of-center Republican hiring left-of-center staff.  If personnel drives policy, beware of a President Huntsman.

April 22nd, 2011 at 1:44 pm
Growth in Entitlements Kills Defense Capabilities

Byron York continues sounding a lone alarm over the connection between ballooning welfare spending and shrinking defense budgets.  With the United States largely abstaining from the lethal aspects of NATO’s Libyan adventure, entitlement-heavy countries like Britain and France are running out of missiles.

The reason?  Decades of budget decisions that favored butter over guns.

On a trip to Libya, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) reopens the straight talk express:

“…it’s a sobering fact that many NATO countries, even some of the big ones, are simply weak. They’ve been cutting their defense budgets for years as their welfare state commitments grew bigger and bigger. Now, they can’t mount much of a fight, even by the small-scale standards of the Libyan action. “No one will admit it, but both the British and the French are running out of precision-guided weapons,” says McCain. “They simply do not have the assets.”

Not that this evidence is convincing to modern liberals.  York also points out that members of Congress’ Progressive Caucus recently proposed a “People’s Budget” that raises taxes to expand entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid while “reducing strategic capabilities, conventional forces, procurement, and research & development programs.”

We’ve seen the future, and it’s the near military impotence of Britain and France.  The United States can and must do better.

April 19th, 2011 at 1:55 pm
Will Republicans Blink First on Debt Ceiling?

Byron York of the Washington Examiner says that although many Republicans will be tempted to let the debt ceiling debate go down to the wire, most of them will eventually vote to raise it.

The bottom line is, the debt ceiling issue won’t be settled before an extended game of chicken, one in which Republicans will undoubtedly win some concessions but will, in the end, have to give in.

With the Tea Party still licking its wounds after a much less-than-expected cut in current federal spending, don’t be surprised if raising the debt ceiling becomes the issue upon which many activists base their support for Republican members of Congress.

March 15th, 2011 at 12:10 pm
Byron York: Obama No More Invincible in 2011 Than George H. W. Bush in 1991
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Yesterday, we noted that Obama’s 2012 reelection odds may not be as high as many currently assume, especially with even higher inflation, gas prices and international chaos on the horizon.  Recalling 1991 and the supposedly invincible President George H. W. Bush, Byron York makes the same point with a brilliant summary quote:

Back in 1991, the pundits discussed how hard it would be to defeat a president with a job-approval rating of 90 percent.  Now, they’re talking about how hard it would be to defeat a president with a job approval rating of 47 percent.”

January 30th, 2010 at 9:32 pm
The Trouble with Adolescence …
Posted by Troy Senik Print

… is that nothing’s ever that satisfying. In the D.C. Examiner, the always lucid Byron York asks the compelling question: “Has Obama Become Bored Being President?”

From the piece:

He’s in his second year as president, and he’s discovered that even with all the powers of office, he can’t do everything he wants to do, like remake America. Doing stuff is hard. In the past, prosaic work has held little appeal for Obama, and it’s prompted him to think about moving on.

A little later:

What drove Obama was not just ambition, although he is certainly ambitious. As he became frustrated in each job, Obama concluded that the problem was not having the power to do the things he wanted to do. So he sought a more powerful position.

Today he is in the most powerful position in the world. Yet he has spent a year struggling, and failing, to enact far-reaching makeovers of the American economy. So now, even in the Oval Office, there are signs that the old dissatisfaction is creeping back in.

Thought for the day: what does it say about someone’s temperament if being President of the United States isn’t enough to satisfy him?

My answer: that he should probably be teaching existentialist philosophy at a community college somewhere.

December 15th, 2009 at 10:21 am
Passing Health Care Reform Even If It Kills Them

Byron York posts a great article today culled from his discussion with an anonymous Democratic strategist. The topic is the rationale motivating Democrats to pass comprehensive health care “reform” over the vociferous objections from a majority of the public. For the White House, it’s the fierce urgency of now. In the Senate, it’s the calculation that senators vulnerable in next year’s election will be at risk of losing their seats with or without passing the bill. And in the House, it’s the belief by party stalwarts like Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that the 20 or 40 members likely to be defeated because of the bill are nominal players.

But when pressed by York to explain why Democratic leaders keep pushing for something a majority of the public doesn’t want, his interlocutor reveals the essence of the liberal conceit.

“Because they think they know what’s best for the public,” the strategist said. “They think the facts are being distorted and the public’s being told a story that is not entirely true, and that they are in Congress to be leaders. And they are going to make the decision because Goddammit, it’s good for the public.”

How democratic.