One suggestion early in Obama’s speech stood out because it is so easily refuted by simple numbers. Namely, his latest attempt to scapegoat the Bush Administration and portray his own record deficits as somehow attributable to it:
We increased spending dramatically for two wars and an expensive prescription drug program -– but we didn’t pay for any of this new spending. Instead, we made the problem worse with trillions of dollars in unpaid-for tax cuts -– tax cuts that went to every millionaire and billionaire in the country; tax cuts that will force us to borrow an average of $500 billion every year over the next decade. To give you an idea of how much damage this caused to our nation’s checkbook, consider this: In the last decade, if we had simply found a way to pay for the tax cuts and the prescription drug benefit, our deficit would currently be at low historical levels in the coming years.”
But take a look at the actual historical deficit data, with particular attention to 2007, which was the last year under a Republican Congress and White House. That year’s deficit came in at $161 billion, which is one-tenth the size of Obama’s projected record $1.65 trillion 2011 deficit. That 2007 deficit was also down from $378 billion in 2003, when the tax cuts, Iraq invasion and drug benefit occurred. In his usual straw-man manner of argumentation, Obama mocked those who claim we can reduce our debt by eliminating “waste, fraud and abuse,” but what better way to characterize his latest un-presidential harangue?
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.”
Tellingly, no one disputes this now. Instead, Emanuel’s defenders (including the Chicago Board of Elections) support the theory that a candidate’s intent to return should be read-in (i.e. judicially legislated) as an exception to the residency requirement. The state appeals court had none of it. In a straightforward opinion, a 2-1 majority ruled for textual integrity and struck Emanuel’s name from the ballot. Of course, he’s appealing it to the state supreme court, but that shouldn’t deter that body from applying the same plain meaning of the statute to his situation.
No one is saying that Rahm Emanuel can never run for mayor of Chicago, just that he must comply with the legal standards for assuming the office. If that’s too much to ask of Rahm, then maybe it would be too much to expect a faithful application of other laws once he’s in office.
In this week’s Liberty Updatecommentary “2012 May Be Even Brighter for Conservatives Than 2010,” we note that there are reasons why 2012 might bring even more conservative change than this week’s results regardless of the political climate two years from now. In the Senate, Democrats must defend 23 seats, many of those in red states like Montana, whereas Republicans need only defend 10 (most of which are in red states like Wyoming, Utah and Texas). And in the House, post-census redistricting in states that elected Republican governors and legislatures this week may add even more seats to the 60+ they won two days ago.
Here’s another encouraging (and related) factor for conservatives. The same post-census realignment that will facilitate more conservative wins in the House will also alter the Electoral College, thereby affecting the 2012 presidential race. How significant that effect will be one cannot yet say, but every point will count if that White House contest is as close as two of the previous three have been.
How’s this for drive-by media bias? Today’s Washington Post runs the deceptive headline “Report Gives Stimulus Package High Marks.” Hmmm. That sounds like a counterintuitive “Man Bites Dog” story worth reading. So who issued the report? The Post’s first paragraph admits that it comes from White House itself. Worse, it was overseen by that respected rock of good judgment and common sense, Vice President Joe Biden.
Even with that baked-in bias, the White House report doesn’t seem to focus on how the $814 billion “stimulus” supposedly succeeded. Rather, it emphasizes how the effort has already distributed 70% of the allocated funds, and managed to avoid “the fraud charges that plague more routine government spending programs.” That’s it? That’s the best that even Joe Biden can claim? That should actually come as discouraging news, not encouraging news, to “stimulus” proponents. After all, if 70% of its funds have already been spent, but we still haven’t experienced its promised results, what remains other than $814 billion added to our nation’s debt? The White House promised that unemployment would top out twelve months ago at 8% if the bill passed, but we remain stuck at 9.6%. Instead of igniting our economic furnace, it has merely clouded growth and undermined the business and hiring climate.
The White House and its apologists speculatively claim that the “stimulus” averted another great depression, but today’s Wall Street Journal carries an analysis by former Senator Phil Gramm devastating that assertion. Gramm compares U.S. growth and employment figures to other developed countries that didn’t engage in the irresponsible “stimulus” profligacy we did, and shows that we lag far behind. As the Post story notes, Obama’s “stimulus” was “the largest effort in U.S. history to counteract the effects of a recession.” All it has done is prove once again that government doesn’t create jobs or growth, but economic uncertainty and debt.
In Friday’s Liberty Update commentary “The ObamaCare Fit Hits the Shan,” we noted how quickly the negative consequences of ObamaCare are arriving in the form of higher health care spending and insurance rates.
Well, Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama’s Health and Human Services Secretary, seems to believe that she can terrify the economic laws of supply and demand into deference. Attacking private health insurers for doing nothing more than adjusting their bottom lines to meet business realities imposed by ObamaCare mandates, Sebelius ordained:
There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases. We will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections.”
Karen Ignagni, who leads America’s Health Insurance Plans, provided an Economics 101 primer that Sebelius should have received in college by saying, “It’s a basic law of economics that additional benefits incur additional costs, and the impact on premiums depends on the type and amount coverage policyholders had before.”
Simple economics aside, who does Sebelius think she is? A Soviet-era commissar who can cow American citizens and businesses by thundering such threats? Ms. Sebelius, you’re about to receive a true lesson in “zero tolerance” when Americans head to the ballots in November.
In one of the most telling departures from the previous Administration, Obama officials decided to eliminate the White House’s fact-checking team soon after taking office. After President George W. Bush received heavy criticism for 16 words he said in his 2003 State of the Union Address, The Decider decided to hire a team of fact checkers to confirm the validity of every word the president spoke to the public.
The result was a process that killed any portion of presidential remarks that couldn’t be 100% verified. The moral of the story: facts matter. At least they did to the last occupant of the White House.
Now it seems like facts are inconveniences that can be swept under the rug. That is, unless their absence appears on top of the new Oval Office rug in the form of a misattributed quote. On President Obama’s redesigned floor emblem appears the quote “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Though it’s attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr., it actually belongs to antebellum abolitionist Theodore Parker.
Unlike Vice President Joe Biden, King didn’t forget to give credit for a line he made his own. Next time, Mr. President, get the facts straight before you commit taxpayer money to honor something that isn’t true.
The Times wants to draw a sympathetic portrait of the heroic Obama cadre that suffers so much on our behalf. These are six-figure jobs that wear out one’s hands on the Blackberry, true, but serve as valuable stepping-stones to even higher-paying corporate jobs. And this is still a recession. This raise-the-bar griping will not go down well with the coal worker in Montana, the welder on a 30-story scaffold, or the oil worker offshore (e.g., it is not as if a Blackberry is going to blow up in one’s hands, or an acoustical tile is going to fall and crush one in the West Wing). It is all too reminiscent of the various explanations we’ve heard for why Michelle’s Costa del Sol sojourn was an understandable and much-needed refresher before the more arduous odyssey ahead on Martha’s Vineyard.
Tens of thousands of gallons more oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday after an undersea robot bumped a venting system, forcing BP to remove the cap that had been containing some of the crude.
The setback, yet another in the nine-week effort to stop the gusher, came as thick pools of oil washed up on Pensacola Beach in Florida and the Obama administration tried to figure out how to resurrect a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. (Emphasis mine)
Why on this great blue marble of ours is the Obama Administration trying to force the shut-down of nearly three dozen properly working oil rigs when there are now tens of thousands more gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf from a totally different site?
Maybe it’s debatable whether a moratorium should be sought. But how can it be that this seems to be the only solution the White House is willing to fight for when it could be doing a lot more good getting the federal bureaucracy to start helping state and local governments clean up the mess right now? Is the Office of the President of the United States really this impotent?
The Beatlemaniacs among us never would have predicted this, but what a refreshing antidote Elton John provides to Paul McCartney.
This month, McCartney put his foot in his mouth and provided even more evidence that John Lennon was the intellectual force behind the Beatles when he slurred President George W. Bush and mindlessly fawned over President Obama. In public comments following his White House performance, and wearing a cheesy Members-Only style 1980s coat, McCartney said, “after the last eight years, it’s great to have a president who knows what a library is” before scurrying offstage. This ignored Bush’s well-known prolific reading habit, and came one day after McCartney admonished reporters to “lay off” Obama.
Brilliant, Paul – the press’s primary job, after all, is to “lay off” the leader of the free world.
But now compare the case of Elton John. This month, Sir Elton famously performed at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding, naturally upsetting the hyper-sensitive liberal chattering class. Then, last night, John performed in Israel in defiance of other performers’ mindless boycott of that isolated nation. He proudly stated that the other musicians’ boycotts “ain’t gonna stop me from playing here, baby,” and added, “we do not cherry-pick our consciences.”
No word yet on whether John will perform alongside Toby Keith at the next Grammy ceremony, but it’s nice to see some sanity among the pop music class.
In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses the ongoing White House scandal involving Congressman Joe Sestak and key questions that those involved should have to answer before the White House is let off the hook.
For three months, the White House has refused to say whether it offered a job to Representative Joe Sestak to get him to drop his challenge to Senator Arlen Specter in a Pennsylvania Democratic primary, as Mr. Sestak has asserted.
“But the White House wants everyone who suspects that something untoward, or even illegal, might have happened to rest easy; though it still will not reveal what happened, the White House is reassuring skeptics that it has examined its own actions and decided it did nothing wrong. Whatever it was that it did.” — Peter Baker,The New York Times
That’s about as succinct an explanation of a growing kerfuffle as can be written. The kerfuffle is growing because the second worst White House Press Secretary in living memory, Robert Gibbs, decided to run a cutesy stonewall when Sestak first made his allegation (when the White House was against his candidacy before it was for his candidacy), and now has escalated it into the annals of political kerfuffledom.
It would take a Special Prosecutor longer to get an office set up than it would to resolve this.
Someone (maybe multiple someones) carrying a White House briefcase said something to Sestak about a job, seemingly linked to him abandoning his candidacy. Couldn’t have been a very long conversation.
Interview Sestak. Interview the someone (or someones). Conclude whether or not there is reason to believe the conversation crossed the legal line. Conclude whether or not any party interviewed committed perjury during the really brief investigation. Proceed to grand jury or issue a report.
But hey. Summer’s here. Let’s instead have yet another spittle-spewing Washington circus.
Admit it; the headline isn’t impossible to believe. It’s even less surprising to realize that all of the major criticisms of the Manchurian Candidate-turned-President – lacks relevant experience, a paper trail, or any notable accomplishment aside from self-promotion –are being lodged against his most recent Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. Sure, as an Assistant White House Counsel, former Harvard Law dean, and Solicitor General she’s held some important positions. But a light scrubbing of that parchment is revealing almost no key accomplishments with any of them.
After reading all of Kagan’s scholarly publications in two decades as an academic – three law review articles, two small essays, and two brief book reviews – law professor Paul Campos makes this observation about its quality in The Daily Beast:
At least in theory Kagan could compensate somewhat for the slenderness of her academic resume through the quality of her work. But if Kagan is a brilliant legal scholar, the evidence must be lurking somewhere other than in her publications. Kagan’s scholarly writings are lifeless, dull, and eminently forgettable. They are, on the whole, cautious academic exercises in the sort of banal on-the-other-handing whose prime virtue is that it’s unlikely to offend anyone in a position of power.
How Obama-esque. Until, that is, ultimate power is achieved and the offending can begin in earnest.
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that the White House will put its “boot on the throat of BP” to make certain the oil company takes all necessary measures to control the spill and minimize its effects in the Gulf.
The image evoked by Mr. Gibbs is one of the harshest I’ve seen used by the White House against a private organization. Not even Wall Street has been so rebuked. Come to think of it, this administration hasn’t used such language against a sworn enemy like Iran. Stop and think about the image Mr. Gibbs invokes. The boot belongs to the party in power, the White House, while the choking and gasping wind-pipe belongs to BP.
Of course BP is worthy of a tough reprimand and should be held responsible for its role in the Gulf disaster. It’s just unnerving when those in power use such intimidating language when talking about a civil matter.
And it’s the Tea Parties that are accused of over-the-top language?
Maybe White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel isn’t the only senior administration official who’s on uncertain terms with President Obama. In the span of a few minutes, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reminded reporters that imposing a national value added tax (VAT) “wasn’t something that the president had under consideration,” and a deputy of his reiterated that point after Obama appeared on CNBC.
The problem is the president himself told CNBC that the VAT is still on the table. What to make of the press office’s bookend statements denying the substance of the chief’s own words? Exactly what it is: denying the truth that one of the most destructive taxes available is being considered to pay for the explosion in government spending. We were warned – sort of.
According to The Hill newspaper, Democrats reached a tentative compromise on health care just days before Massachusetts elected Scott Brown. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) stated that an agreement was reached on January 15.
Of course, it is an indictment of this Administration’s transparency pledge that you’re reading about this news in February and didn’t watch the discussions live on C-SPAN. Senator Harkin’s revelation underscores just how deceptive the White House was in negotiating the future of health care behind closed doors and how important Scott Brown’s victory was in defeating ObamaCare.
A few million Americans in Massachusetts made their voices heard loud and clear, but judging from last week’s State of the Union Address, the White House is still not listening.
Today, the White House officially released its Budget for Fiscal Year 2011. It is $3.8 trillion and consumes four large volumes. What does it say about fiscal responsibility when your budget is thousands of pages and costs $236?
After a $1.4 trillion deficit in 2009, the White House projects a larger $1.56 trillion gap in this fiscal year. To “trim” the massive sinkhole of red ink, the Administration proposes raising income taxes (though President Obama bragged about his tax record during his State of the Union Address) and energy taxes to reach a “manageable” $1.27 trillion shortfall next year.
Click here for the Office of Management and Budget website to review the budget, historical tables and analytical perspectives.