With so much attention on the turf war between Congress and the President, it’s easy to overlook another…
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Federalism on the Firing Line

With so much attention on the turf war between Congress and the President, it’s easy to overlook another, equally disturbing separation-of-powers crisis – the swift erosion of federalism.

Just as the U.S. Constitution assigns certain powers and duties to the three coequal branches of the federal government (legislative, executive, and judicial), so too does it differentiate lines of responsibility between the federal and state governments. This latter idea is known as federalism, and it’s in pretty bad shape according to a thought-provoking essay by Richard Epstein and Mario Loyola.

In particular, the practice of conditioning receipt of federal money on capitulation to federal regulations is turning states into mere enforcement officers.

“Federal officials exert enormous influence…[more]

July 31, 2014 • 02:46 pm

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The Vindication of George W. Bush Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, January 03 2013
Ten years of supposed liberal ascendancy has come to mean almost complete permanence of Bush tax cuts that originally faced nearly unanimous Democratic opposition.

“I just wanted to thank so many on the other side after all these years, for finally acknowledging publicly that ninety-eight percent of the Bush tax cuts helped the middle class.” 
~Representative Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) 

Even in the wake of Barack Obama’s re-election, events vindicate the man whom he distastefully scapegoats:  George W. Bush. 

Consider first this week’s “fiscal cliff” stalemate. 

Since November, liberals have claimed a sweeping ideological mandate, a validation of their political agenda, at least insofar as higher taxes were concerned.  Obama himself wasted no opportunity to assert that voters were offered a choice of higher or lower taxes, and they opted for the former.  A watershed shift, they seemed to think. 

Viewed from a broader perspective, however, reality is very different. 

Obama and his party just did something that Republicans couldn’t do even when they controlled both houses of Congress and the White House.  Namely, make the Bush tax cuts permanent for approximately 99% of Americans. 

To reinforce the point, note that higher tax rates were set to automatically take effect on January 1.  Accordingly, if Obama and fellow Democrats had done nothing, the Bush tax cuts that they’ve spent the past decade demonizing would vanish at the stroke of midnight. 

By way of contrast, back in May 2003 Congress enacted the cuts by the slimmest of margins, 50 to 50 in the Senate (with Vice President Dick Cheney casting the tiebreaking vote) and 231 to 200 in the House.  Among Democrats, the Senate ratio was 46 to 2 against, while the House ratio was 198 to 7 against.  Ten years later, despite an election that improved their party balance in both the Senate and House, as well as a re-elected President and a Republican party in disarray, Democrats sought only a tax hike on a tiny portion of Americans. 

Thus, ten years of supposed liberal ascendancy has come to mean almost complete permanence of Bush tax cuts that originally faced nearly unanimous Democratic opposition. 

Events in Syria provide additional vindication for President Bush. 

Alarmed by the sudden possibility that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad might use chemical weapons, Obama warned, “If you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences, and you will be held accountable.”  Considering that Assad already faces brutal execution from his own officials if he attempts to flee Syria, and from opponents should they topple his regime, Obama’s weak admonition probably doesn’t top his list of concerns. 

Nevertheless, as Foreign Policy Initiative Executive Director Jamie Fly observed this week in The Wall Street Journal, Obama’s “lead from behind” manner has left the U.S. reactive rather than proactive toward the sudden Syrian WMD threat: 

“When the regime of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi fell last year … thousands of conventional weapons proliferated because of American and European unwillingness to back an external stabilization force.  The Obama Administration, failing to learn the lessons of Libya, is reportedly planning for a light-footprint approach should the Assad regime fall.” 

As a result, according to Fly, the threat lies not in use by Assad, but by other agents if he falls.  In other words, precisely the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, who had used WMD on multiple occasions against domestic and external foe alike. 

So far, however, there is little ridicule of Obama for assuming the presence and potential threat of Syrian WMD.  Weapons, by the way, that may have arrived via Iraq.  Accordingly, ominous threats in that theater provide a new context through which events ten years ago are viewed. 

Of course, Obama’s vindication of Bush hardly ends there.  Guantanamo Bay remains open.  The Patriot Act was recently extended.  The Iraq troop surge was repeated in Afghanistan.  Budget deficits that Obama labeled “unpatriotic” while campaigning in 2007-2008 have been quintupled.  And so on. 

Meanwhile, Bush’s public likability rating continues to ascend. 

Expect that to sustain as Obama’s second term proceeds. 

Question of the Week   
Which of the following merged to form the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) within the Department of Homeland Security?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
 
"Thanks to rockets rising over Gaza, jet debris falling onto Ukraine, and children wading across the Rio Grande, Americans barely have had time to focus on Obamacare. Mounting global and domestic chaos, however, cannot mask forever the deep and severe flaws in Obama’s pet program. From insurance cancellations to premium increases to gross ineptness, Obamacare likely will roar back into the news…[more]
 
 
—Deroy Murdock, Hoover Institution Media Fellow
— Deroy Murdock, Hoover Institution Media Fellow
 
Liberty Poll   

Is significant, proven plagiarism sufficient to disqualify, in the minds of voters, any candidate for public office?