Posts Tagged ‘fiscal conservative’
August 25th, 2011 at 1:32 pm
Fareed Zakaria Becomes Woodrow Wilson

Whatever shred of credibility Fareed Zakaria retained as a conservative pundit from his celebrated book The Future of Freedom has now been officially lost thanks to follow-ups like The Post-American World and today’s essay “Does America Need a Prime Minister?”

In the essay, Zakaria uses the recent S&P downgrade of American sovereign debt to note that “no country with a presidential system has a triple-A rating from all three major ratings agencies.”  He then uses this to support his thesis that the United States would be better served by chucking separation-of-powers and moving to a British-style parliamentary system where the executive and legislative branches are the same.  After all, Britain still has a triune triple-A rating!

How wonderfully anti-American of the Harvard PhD.  Throughout the essay one realizes that Zakaria has wandered so far from the insights of the Founding generation that he now endorses the very system – and possibility for tyranny – that the American Revolution fought to end.  So too did another PhD-turned-constitutional-scold: Woodrow Wilson, the godfather of America’s progressive movement.

Wilson believed that government needed to be professionalized and removed from popular control so that it could act quickly and decisively to cure whatever ailed the populace.  He favored the parliamentary system because it gave enormous power to one man: the Prime Minister.

To appreciate how far Zakaria has wandered from core American principles about the proper way to construct a government, consider this passage from today’s essay:

In the American presidential system, in contrast, you have the presidency and the legislature, both of which claim to speak for the people. As a result, you always have a contest over basic legitimacy. Who is actually speaking for and representing the people?

In America today, we take this struggle to an extreme. We have one party in one house of the legislature claiming to speak for the people because theirs was the most recent electoral victory.  And you have the president who claims a broader mandate as the only person elected by all the people.  These irresolvable claims invite struggle.

There are, of course, advantages to the American system – the checks and balances have been very useful on occasion. But we’re living in a world where you need governments that are able to respond decisively and quickly.  In a fast-moving world, paralysis is dangerous. Other countries are catching up – if not overtaking – America.

Who are these other countries?  Members of the European Union with a currency and debt crisis several times worse than our own?  China with its unsustainable population demographics and monetary policy?  Arab dictatorships that are being toppled by the month?  Latin American oligarchies that nationalize industries to buy off the masses with the wealth of entrepreneurs?

The problem we are experiencing in Washington, D.C. is not America’s constitutional design of checks-and-balances and separation-of-powers.  If anything, the ability of the House GOP to slow down the liberal agenda to tax-and-spend the nation into bankruptcy is due solely to the very “paralysis” intended by our constitutional framework.

If Zakaria wants to end the paralysis in D.C., he should vote for pro-growth fiscal conservatives in 2012 and urge all of his readers to do the same.

May 5th, 2011 at 11:41 am
Congressman: Predator Drone a “Good” Earmark

At least one congressman is using the death of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden to draw attention to what may sound like an oxymoron: a “good” earmark.

Former House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) reminded reporters that it was his decision to dramatically increase funding for predator drones – the unmanned airplanes directed to kill targets halfway around the world.

Previously used only for clandestine or “black ops” missions, the U.S. Air Force was in the process of developing unmanned spy drones for expanded military use in the early 1990s, but Lewis felt the process had been moving too slowly.

From his seat on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Lewis, who later rose to the chairmanship of the full committee, attached the funding boost and language requiring the Air Force to speed up development of the drones to a spending bill that ultimately became law.

In the years since, the program has become a staple in the United States’ intelligence-gathering efforts overseas and has been incorporated as a regular component of the Defense Department’s annual budget.

Predator drones weren’t responsible for killing bin Laden, but they are the Obama Administration’s favorite means for hunting terrorists.

Currently, House Republicans have banned the practice of earmarks like Lewis’ $400 million boost to the predator drone program.  When the policy gets revisited after the 2012 elections, it will be interesting to see if Lewis and others will be able to change their colleagues’ – and fiscally conservative voters’ – minds.

H/T: Riverside (CA) Press-Enterprise

May 3rd, 2011 at 2:00 pm
Poll: 40% Still Undecided on Ryan Budget Plan

Rasmussen Reports says that 40% of Americans are still undecided on whether to support the “Path to Prosperity” budget plan by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).  CFIF strongly endorses the House Budget Committee Chairman’s attempt to rein in federal spending, while giving Medicare beneficiaries more choices in their health care decisions.

According to the poll, 26% of likely voters support Ryan’s plan, while 34% oppose it.  That leaves 40% who still don’t know enough about Ryan’s proposal to have an opinion.

The liberal media is already waging a misinformation campaign against Ryan and other sensible fiscal conservatives.  For a primer on the “Path to Prosperity” go here.

In order to change the culture in Washington, voters need to change the terms of the debate.  Educating yourself and others on Ryan’s plan gives fiscal conservatives the ammunition they need to win the hearts and minds of the 40% still undecided.

April 1st, 2011 at 2:32 pm
Police & Fire Flee GOP, Back Big Labor

Politico highlights how the budget battles between the Tea Party and Big Labor are threatening to shift firefighters and police officers into the Democratic Party, setting up a dilemma for fiscal conservatives.

The blowback from unionized first responders is being felt by Republicans in Ohio, New York, and Wisconsin.  In the latter, Republican Governor Scott Walker tried to exempt police and fire from the ban on public employees collectively bargaining, but they still refused to follow his order to remove protesting teachers from the state capitol.

Ironically, Politico quotes one police union leader saying his members are going to hold pro-union Republicans “accountable” for the cuts being made to balance state budgets.

Apparently, it’s a different kind of accountability than one based on sustainable funding formulas.  If the GOP is serious about reining in runaway government spending, it’s going to have to take on all public employee unions, and demand lower compensations (e.g. pensions, buy-outs, overtime, retirement eligibility, etc.).

We’ll see who has the stomach to make that case anytime soon.

March 18th, 2011 at 1:03 pm
House GOP Votes to Defund Pro-Government Propaganda Outlet

One of the many important votes the new House Republican caucus has taken includes yesterday’s vote to defund National Public Radio (NPR).

While the bill is expected to die in a Democrat-controlled Senate, the measure puts a majority of House members on record as supporting the complete defunding of a government agency that unabashedly promotes pro-state liberalism.  One of the hardest things to do in politics is get a majority of legislators to vote “Yes” on something – especially when the bill has little chance of becoming law.

But this group of House Republicans is different.  These votes and others are setting out clear distinctions between conservative and liberal spending priorities.  In 2012, voters will know exactly how candidates prioritize taxpayer money.

March 17th, 2011 at 7:41 pm
House GOP Leaders Losing on Two Fronts

There’s a confrontation brewing between fiscal conservatives in the House GOP caucus and their leadership over how best to handle the budget crisis.  House leadership wants to keep negotiating while passing short-term spending bills to avoid a shutdown.  Fiscal conservatives like Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) are voting No and getting killed for it.

Pence is fighting back.

“I have no doubt that Speaker John Boehner and Republican Leader Eric Cantor and the rest of our leadership will privately, and if needs be, publicly denounce any effort to essentially bad mouth the intentions of Republicans that are simply fighting for fiscal responsibility,” the former GOP conference chair said Thursday morning on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.”

It’s funny to hear that the House leadership is fuming at fiscal conservatives for voting their principles when those same leaders say that the latest budget extension is the last one.  With House leadership moving towards the fiscal conservatives’ position, maybe leadership is just ticked that they’re losing negotiations with both Democrats and Republicans.

February 19th, 2011 at 7:38 pm
House GOP Gets 60% of its $100 Billion Loaf

After originally pledging to cut $100 billion in spending this year the House GOP leadership settled for a cut of $30 billion.  Then, the Tea Party-backed freshman caucus weighed in and forced a rethink.  Early this morning, the House voted to cut $60 billion in this year’s budget.

That’s real, measureable progress.  Getting 60% of a loaf may not satisfy everyone’s hunger for budget cuts, but it is still a victory for fiscal conservatives.  Well done.

February 4th, 2011 at 2:11 pm
Fed’s Bernanke Tells GOP ‘Hands-Off- Debt Ceiling Vote

Since a majority of the smart people in Washington, D.C., agree that the nation’s astronomically high $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, chattering class consensus says all the “sane” members of Congress will stand together and once again extend America’s line of credit.  With that in mind, GOP budget cutters are proposing to get deep spending cuts in return for raising the debt ceiling.

Not so fast, says Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.  Playing his faux apolitical persona to the hilt yesterday, Bernanke said House Republicans should “not play around” with the debt ceiling vote to extract any spending concessions.  That would make a fiscal issue too political.  Instead, they should treat spending and tax issues separately; exactly the unconditional debt raising approach espoused by the Obama Administration.

But the logic of the Republicans’ negotiating tactic is clear: get spending cuts now so that the debt limit becomes a true ceiling once more instead of a temporary marker.  Having a limit on one’s credit card does not require the user to treat it as a goal.  It’s an emergency option, not a default.  Because fiscally conservative House and Senate members are the only public officials actually trying to get control of the budget, demanding concessions from the debt ceiling vote may be the only way to make progress in a fractured government.

If Bernanke is too partisan to see that, he should at least recognize that politics isn’t just an exercise in means; it’s the attainment of principled ends as well.

January 21st, 2011 at 1:39 pm
Huckabee in Pole Position for GOP 2012 Nomination

Surprisingly, former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) comfortably leads all other likely Republican contenders for the party’s 2012 presidential nomination.  Though the lead is of dubious predictive value, the Other Man From Hope, Arkansas continues to be a genuine political force attractive to millions of Americans.  He did, after all, win the 2008 Iowa caucuses and come within a hair’s breath of winning Missouri’s primary.  Had he won the latter, the nomination fight would have boiled down to him and Senator John McCain (R-AZ), with favorable odds for an eventual Huckabee win.

So far, Huckabee says he won’t make a final decision on running until this summer.  The reason being his distaste for an 18-month campaign; a distaste shared by many voters.  Though Huckabee ran afoul of some fiscal conservative groups for some infrastructure spending increases he implemented as governor, he rightly pointed out that all of them were either mandated by federal judicial rulings, or popularly approved by Arkansas voters.

From all accounts Huckabee is probably the most normal person likely to run for president this cycle.  That alone may explain his widespread appeal.  Time will tell if it is enough to get him the nomination this time.

H/T: Political Wire

January 13th, 2011 at 7:58 pm
Hoosier President?

Governor Mitch Daniels (R-IN) delivered his State of the State Address on Tuesday night to a joint session of the state legislature.  Among several terrific proposals to make government leaner and more efficient, Daniels suggested the following fiscal policy:

And, to hasten the return of an even stronger fiscal position, I again ask you to vote for lasting spending discipline by enacting an automatic taxpayer refund. When the day comes again when state reserves exceed 10 percent of annual needs, it will be time to stop collecting taxes and leave them with the people they belong to. Remember what the Hoosier philosopher said: “It’s tainted money. ‘Taint yours, and ‘taint mine.” Beyond some point, it is far better to leave dollars in the pockets of those who earned them than to let them burn a hole, as they always do, in the pockets of government.

Republicans in Washington, D.C. and around the country should be listening to the Hoosier State governor who just might be the right man for the presidency in 2012.  Check out the entirety of Daniels’ speech here.

December 21st, 2010 at 11:39 am
California (Once Again) a Microcosm of Govt. Financial Crisis

In a not-quite-as-bad-as-reported op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, State Treasurer Bill Lockyer (D-CA), downplays the Golden State’s fiscal outlier status among the several states.  Setting aside some of his premises, it’s worth zeroing-in on a paragraph that should be the starting point for debates on spending at any level of government.

Fiscally, we have to get smarter, think longer and stop hoping for a miracle. Californians have to assume more responsibility for deciding what they want government to do and how much they’re willing to pay for public services. We have to design a saner system for financing public schools.

Like a majority of voters everywhere, Californians are attracted to pricey programs, but are allergic to their costs.  Ergo, budget deficits.  With House Republicans facing a divided Senate and a liberal President, making a commonsense case for balancing spending with revenues will be the single most important task during the next Congress.  Let’s hope fiscal conservatives at all levels of government are united on this front.

December 17th, 2010 at 3:17 pm
CNN & Tea Party Express to Host GOP Presidential Debate

Hats off to CNN for continuing to push the format boundaries of presidential debates.  True, the network’s “You Tube” Democratic debate is remembered best (or is it worst?) for relaying a question from a talking snowman, the recent alliance with Tea Party Express to host a GOP presidential debate is intriguing.  According to CNN’s press release the debate will occur over Labor Day weekend in 2011 in Tampa, FL, site of the 2012 Republican National Convention.  For fiscal conservatives, this debate should be an interesting contest between candidates to prove how much they like reducing government.

December 9th, 2010 at 1:15 pm
Paul Ryan is Making Sense (Again)

Amid solid recommendations to put Medicare and Medicaid on a sustainable financial path, Obama Debt Commission member and Roadmap author Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) staked out very defensible ground for today’s conservative leaders to Roll Call’s Mort Kondrake:

And the incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee described himself as having been mentored by the late Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), believing in “a prosperous opportunity society built atop a solid safety net.”

“I am not a laissez-faire, Hobbsian libertarian,” he told me. “I believe in a circumscribed safety net, one that helps people get back on their feet and is there for people who can’t help themselves. But I believe in a pro-growth, limited-government, free-enterprise society that encourages people to make the most of their lives.”

Anyone else for a one-on-one debate between President Barack Obama and Rep. Ryan on healthcare reform next January?

July 19th, 2010 at 9:00 pm
The Republican Version of ‘Deflation’

According to some economists, deflation is the biggest financial risk to the American economy.  In a nutshell, deflation means prices are decreasing, which is usually caused by merchants trying to stimulate declining demand by selling goods cheaper.  If the lower prices don’t sell, people get laid off, factories shut down and there is no joy in Mudville.

It turns out that many Republican Senate candidates are threatening their own version of deflation; part economic, part emotional.  Former presidential speechwriter Marc Thiessen shows that many of the favored GOP Senate challengers are, in fact, big spenders.   Mark Kirk (IL), Mike Castle (DE), Roy Blunt (MO) and John Hoeven (ND) – even one-time Tea Party darling Scott Brown (MA) – are all “vetted” politicians whose records predict senators who will be voting “Yes” when it comes to spending in the national interest.

In an election cycle where Tea Party-backed a candidate like Sharron Angle (R-NV) is being called “wacky” for daring to suggest Social Security should be privatized, it’s easy to overlook the fact that Republican control of the Senate may not have much effect on the chamber’s legislative output.

Nothing would deflate Tea Party aspirations more than a Republican Senate that could get more members to caucus with the likes of pro-stimulus, pro-financial reform Olympia Snowe (R-ME) rather than fiscal conservative stalwart Jim DeMint (R-SC).  If that happens, get ready for a third party bid that severely cripples the Republican brand.

May 24th, 2010 at 11:47 am
Djou In, Paul Out?

The last few days offered a study in contrasts.  Charles Djou won a plurality special election becoming just the third Republican to represent Hawaii in Congress.  He did so by sticking relentlessly to a pro-growth, low tax message that resonated in a heavily Democratic district.  While Djou won’t vote with the GOP on every issue, his commitment to fiscal conservatism will be a huge factor in whether he gets reelected to a full term in November.

Contrast Djou’s steady drum beat approach to Rand Paul’s improvisational jazz.  The Kentucky GOP senate nominee erased the euphoria of a double digit beat down of the establishment candidate last Tuesday by questioning the constitutionality of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a federal law mandating racial equality.  His points aside, Paul took his eye off the ball by engaging the issue.  The 2010 midterm election results – and Rand Paul’s popularity – are not the product of a national rethink on the scope of Congress’s power to enforce the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

It’s about the economy, Rand.  The safest ground for limited government types this cycle is to stay on message that tax-and-spend must end.  Just Djou it.

May 22nd, 2010 at 4:52 pm
Just Djou It

Republican Charles Djou appears to be closing in on the special election victory CFIF highlighted months ago.  If he does become the congressman from President Barack Obama’s Hawaiian hometown, not only will the Aloha State be sending a staunch fiscal conservative to the House of Representatives, it will mean Djou will have the power of incumbency in the fall.  Assuming he wins, it will be interesting to see how he uses his voting record to maintain his conservative credentials while not alienating a majority of voters in a heavily Democratic district.

April 12th, 2010 at 2:33 pm
Romney, Pawlenty Back Charles Djou

Hopefully, Charles Djou (R-HI) will be throwing a luau for all the GOP heavies weighing in on his race to replace the retiring congressman, Neil Abercrombie (D-HI).  The May 22nd special election is getting Djou plenty of face time with CFIF and National Review.  Now, he can claim endorsements by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and outgoing Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

Pray tell, could fiscal conservatism be set for an electoral comeback?