Archive for July, 2011
July 31st, 2011 at 3:13 pm
Front-Load the Spending Cuts

As House and Senate negotiators scramble to fashion a deal that can garner 60 votes in the Senate, 216 or 217 votes in the House, and President Alinsky’s signature (I still smell a last-minute torpedo job from The One), three keys should guide the Republican leaders. First, defense spending should be significantly protected. Second, absolutely no tax hikes should be part of the “trigger” mechanism for the second round of savings, and the Senators and House members appointed by GOP leaders to the commission should also be known anti-taxers who have signed the ATR pledge. Third, and this is of utmost importance: In order to reassure conservatives, the domestic discretionary spending cuts should be even more front-loaded than the Boehner plan was. The revised Boehner plan cut $22 billion in the first year; the new one OUGHT to cut at least $25 billion, and it should accordingly cut more in the second year than Boehner’s revised plan did.

Frankly, we should not care much what the caps are in years nine and ten; but history shows that spending caps actually tend to work in the first two or three years at least — and that if savings are achieved for more than one year, the “baseline” for future spending tends to drop and stay dropped for another two or three years — so the first two or three years are crucial.

Frankly, as long as these three conditions are met, I think Reaganite conservatives will have won, on behalf of the public, a reasonably decent victory.

July 29th, 2011 at 12:34 pm
Pathetic Economic Growth Report Illustrates Failure Of Obama Spending “Stimulus”
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Barack Obama and liberals fraudulently claim that their massive spending binge “prevented another Great Depression.”

It’s more accurate to say that their spending and regulatory onslaught stifled our natural cyclical recovery and heaped more debt upon the American people.

Today’s economic growth report card from the Commerce Department provided the latest evidence of that reality, as if any additional clarity was necessary.  For the second quarter of 2011 (April through June), American gross domestic product (GDP) only grew 1.3%.  That fell substantially below the expected 1.8% rate, which itself constitutes sluggish growth.  Moreover, first quarter GDP was revised shockingly downward to 0.4% from its initial 1.9% estimate.  That is simply pathetic and unacceptable.

In comparison, the American economy jolted to life after Ronald Reagan’s very different response to the early 1980s recession (which was actually worse than the most recent recession, despite liberals’ persistent claims to the contrary).  According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in the eight quarters since Obama’s wasteful “stimulus” in 2009, we’ve witnessed growth rates of 1.7%, 3.8%, 3.9%, 3.8%, 2.5%, 2.3%, 0.4% and now 1.9%.  That’s an average of just 2.5%.  But in the eight quarters following the effective date of the Reagan tax cuts, GDP exploded at rates of 5.1%, 9.3%, 8.1%, 8.5%, 8.0%, 7.1%, 3.9% and 3.3%.  That’s an average of 6.7%.

Today’s depressing report simply shows once again that lower taxes and less government create prosperity, while bigger government and more spending create stagnation.

July 29th, 2011 at 12:04 pm
This Week’s Liberty Update
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Center For Individual Freedom - Liberty Update

This week’s edition of the Liberty Update, CFIF’s weekly e-newsletter, is out. Below is a summary of its contents:

Hillyer:  Next Step: Growth
Lee:  Mutiny: Even Liberal Democrats Blast Obama’s New Auto Mandates
Senik:  Leaving the Heavens Behind: What the End of the Space Shuttle Program Means for America’s Future

Freedom Minute Video:  John Kasich’s “Silent Revolution” in Ohio
Podcast:  Why We Should Fear the Food Police
Jester’s Courtroom:  With This Ring, I Thee Sue

Editorial Cartoons:  Latest Cartoons of Michael Ramirez
Quiz:  Question of the Week
Notable Quotes:  Quotes of the Week

If you are not already signed up to receive CFIF’s Liberty Update by e-mail, sign up here.

July 29th, 2011 at 10:03 am
Podcast: Why We Should Fear the Food Police
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In an interview with CFIF, Julie Gunlock, senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum, discusses the government’s growing involvement in our food choices and why it is not the government’s job to tell adults what they can or cannot eat.

Listen to the interview here.

July 29th, 2011 at 8:43 am
Video: John Kasich’s “Silent Revolution” in Ohio
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In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino reminds us that, despite the focus on Washington, “real change often happens at the state level.”  Giachino spotlights Governor John Kasich’s “silent revolution” in Ohio as a perfect example.

July 28th, 2011 at 10:39 pm
Thomas Sowell and Charles Krauthammer Agree … Pass the Boehner Plan
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At this hour — as recalcitrant Tea Partiers look bent on defeating the Boehner Plan in the House — two of the great minds of modern conservatism are issuing a sagacious clarion call: don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good.

In his syndicated column today, Thomas Sowell writes:

Now that the Republicans seem to have gotten the Democrats off their higher taxes kick, the question is whether a minority of the House Republicans will refuse to pass the Boehner legislation that could lead to a deal that will spare the country a major economic disruption and spare the Republicans from losing the 2012 elections by being blamed — rightly or wrongly — for the disruptions.

Is the Boehner legislation the best legislation possible? Of course not! You don’t get your heart’s desire when you control only one house of Congress and face a presidential veto.

The most basic fact of life is that we can make our choices only among the alternatives actually available. It is not idealism to ignore the limits of one’s power. Nor is it selling out one’s principles to recognize those limits at a given time and place, and get the best deal possible under those conditions.

That still leaves the option of working toward getting a better deal later, when the odds are more in your favor.

Meanwhile, in his syndicated piece, Charles Krauthammer opines:

The sausage-making may be unsightly, but the problem is not that Washington is broken, that ridiculous, ubiquitous cliché. The problem is that these two visions are in competition, and the definitive popular verdict has not yet been rendered.

We’re only at the midpoint. Obama won a great victory in 2008 that he took as a mandate to transform America toward European-style social democracy. The subsequent counterrevolution delivered to that project a staggering rebuke in November 2010. Under our incremental system, however, a rebuke delivered is not a mandate conferred. That awaits definitive resolution, the rubber match of November 2012.

I have every sympathy with the conservative counterrevolutionaries. Their containment of the Obama experiment has been remarkable. But reversal — rollback, in Cold War parlance — is simply not achievable until conservatives receive a mandate to govern from the White House.

Lincoln is reputed to have said: I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky. I don’t know whether conservatives have God on their side (I keep getting sent to His voicemail), but I do know that they don’t have Kentucky — they don’t have the Senate, they don’t have the White House. And under our constitutional system, you cannot govern from one house alone. Today’s resurgent conservatism, with its fidelity to constitutionalism, should be particularly attuned to this constraint, imposed as it is by a system of deliberately separated — and mutually limiting — powers.

At this moment of maximum import, these are words to live by. Sober, principled and deliberative. House Republicans should aspire to be the same.

July 28th, 2011 at 10:45 am
The Scorecard of Conservatives for the Boehner Plan

At the American Spectator, I’ve been keeping tabs.

July 27th, 2011 at 2:51 pm
Tea Party to GOP: Backing for Your Presidential Nominee Not Assured
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Last week, Ashton took a look at the Tea Party’s irritation with the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Just as in 2008, the Tea Party believes (with good reason) that the NRSC is trying to put its hand on the scales during Republican primaries and shut conservative challengers to establishment incumbents out of key races throughout the nation.

This may not be the biggest stage on which the Tea Party movement refuses to be broken in 2012, however. This will be the first presidential election since the movement has congealed, and Tea Party leaders are making known that they don’t intend to squander their leverage. Per a report on the Daily Caller today:

The country’s largest Tea Party organization is warning that the future GOP presidential nominee shouldn’t automatically count on having the support of its grassroots activists.

“There was some controversy that was created when another Tea Party group came out and said the Tea Party movement would line up behind whoever is the Republican nominee,” Mark Meckler, a national coordinator for the organization, said during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast briefing with reporters Wednesday. “I think that’s presuming an awful lot.”

“Tea Partiers are very independent folks by nature,” he said in response to questions from The Daily Caller, “they make their own decisions, there’s no organization, no leader to tell them what to do.”

Two things are striking about this development. First, the fact that members of the Tea Party — which is now into its third year on the American political scene — still have to explain that they are a leaderless movement unified around a set of loosely-defined core principles is remarkable, particularly when that explanation is directed at Republicans, who should be conversant in Hayek’s concept of “spontaneous order“.

Second, the Tea Party — long predicted to be co-opted by the GOP — is still boldly staking out its independence. That means any Republican presidential candidate hoping to inherit the keys to the White House will have to satisfy the conservative Tea Party base, establishment Republicans, and a fair number of independents. If that sounds like a tough road to hoe, it is. But it comes with one great virtue — any candidate with such a broad appeal would be an electoral lock. And if he (or she) lived up to those principles once sworn in, it could create just the kind of political coalition needed to unwind the dangerous excesses of the Obama years.

July 27th, 2011 at 10:34 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Debt Ceiling Standoff
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

July 26th, 2011 at 2:03 pm
Fred Thompson Agrees: Declare Victory

In a brilliantly argued open letter to House Republicans, former Sen. Fred Thompson — nobody’s definition of a squishy moderate — makes the same points I have been trying to make, namely that the Boehner plan should be seen as a significant victory for conservatives. As Thompson writes, “I respectfully suggest that you rake in your chips, stuff them in your pockets, and tell the dealer to deal the next hand.” Why? Thompson explains:

There is only so much you can do in this deal. Put it into perspective. Right now we are on a path to a $26 trillion debt in ten years, and this is using bogus assumptions about growth and interest payments. The federal government spends over $10 billion a day. We have over $70 trillion in unfunded Medicare liabilities. A problem of this size can be dealt with only by persuading the American people what must be done on a consistent basis over a long period of time. It can’t be done with fits and starts and silver bullets. The issue is not where we will be when the debt-ceiling bill is done, it is where we will be in ten years.

And why is the Boehner bill a win?

At the beginning of the debt-ceiling debate, a realistic, optimistic outcome essentially would have been this: The Republicans would take the initiative and put their plan before the American people. The debt-ceiling increase would be accompanied by corresponding spending cuts. There would be no new taxes. You would drive a hard bargain in the face of unrelenting presidential and Democratic demagoguery — some of it on national television — drawing the attention and focus of the American people to the truth about our country’s fiscal and economic situation. Sure, people would initially ask, “Why are the Republicans now willing to take this thing to the wire when a debt-limit increase has usually been pro forma?” But at the end of the day, more Americans than ever before would understand what is going to happen to us as a country if we continue our current path. In this optimistic scenario, President Obama’s duplicity would become apparent, and he’d be politically diminished as a result.

As I argued, “Here’s what they understand: $1.2 trillion of savings from domestic discretionary programs, with real, enforceable budget caps, over ten years, is a huge accomplishment…. The history is this: Never before has Congress used the debt ceiling hike to force serious budget savings. Any successful use of this debate toward that end should be counted as a significant accomplishment.”

One of the biggest mistakes Republicans made in the 1995-96 “government shutdown” battle was failing to understand when they had won. Rather than pick up their winnings from the table and banking them, they kept fighting over mere scraps — and then ended up losing the scraps anyway, along with the PR victory that would have been theirs.  They did the same thing when they needlessly fought over unimportant details of the impeachment inquiry of 1998, turning public anger that had been focused against Bill Clinton into sympathy for Clinton and anger at them. Under the rules proposed by Democrat Dick Gephardt, Clinton STILL would have been impeached, without the GOP looking bloodthirsty.

This debt limit fight has reached the same point: Conservatives have engineered what should be seen as a significant victory, but they aren’t accepting what they have won. Again, they could be snatching a major defeat from the jaws of a reasonably decent victory.

July 25th, 2011 at 11:08 pm
Knowing When To Say Yes

Some hard-liners in the House are refusing to support John Boehner’s latest plan. They seem to believe it’s doesn’t achieve enough savings.

Not to be too blunt about it, but they need to get a clue.

James Capretta, who trashed the Gang of Six plan, says Boehner’s plan is okay. So does Grover Norquist.

Here’s what they understand: $1.2 trillion of savings from domestic discretionary programs, with real, enforceable budget caps, over ten years, is a huge accomplishment. And it still leaves on the table some of the low-hanging entitlement fruit (a “chained” Consumer Price Index adjustment) and some of the mid-hanging entitlement fruit (hiking the Medicare eligibility age merely to coincide with that of Social Security). So that means that part of the other $1.6 trillion in savings, to come from the later commission, is actually likely to be fairly easy to achieve as well.

The history is this: Never before has Congress used the debt ceiling hike to force serious budget savings. Any successful use of this debate toward that end should be counted as a significant accomplishment. Sure, some on the hard right — and I have ALWAYS been hard-right on cutting spending — may complain that Boehner’s plan isn’t as good as the original “Cut, Cap, and Balance.” So the bleep what. Anybody who ever expected CC&B to become law in its original form wasn’t living in the real world. James Madison and Roger Sherman didn’t design our system to allow one House to steamroll both the other congressional chamber and the president (although they did indeed give more power to the House of Reps. vis-a-vis the president, on domestic issues, than it has historically made use of).  The U.S. government is designed to force compromise.

Frankly, the Boehner plan isn’t a 50-50 compromise; it’s a win for conservatives, for fiscal responsibility, and for the nation. It effectively changes the trajectory of spending for the first time since Washington started bingeing again (after three good years) in the fall of 1998. It’s a remarkable achievement when working against the most leftist president in history. Conservatives should not torpedo it.

July 25th, 2011 at 4:38 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: On the Debt Ceiling
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

July 25th, 2011 at 1:39 pm
TODAY’S RADIO SHOW LINEUP: CFIF’s Quin Hillyer Hosts “Your Turn” on WEBY Radio 1330 AM
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Join CFIF Senior Fellow Quin Hillyer today from 4:00 p.m. CST to 6:00 p.m. CST (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as he hosts “Your Turn.”  Today’s guest lineup includes:

  • James Robbins, senior editorial writer for The Washington Times and author of This Time We Win, about the Tet offensive
  • Ned Ryun, president of American Majority and writer of a piece in the latest American Spectator print edition titled “Whither the Tea Parties?”
  • Eric Eversole, head of the Military Voting Project, just out with a report that military personnel abroad voted in very low percentages
  • Bill McCollum, former Florida Atorney General, to talk about the 27-state anti-Obamacare lawsuit that he spearheaded

Listen live on the Internet here.   Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.

July 25th, 2011 at 11:35 am
Congressional Democrats Tacitly Admitting Obama is Inept
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For the past two and a half years, it’s been the exclusive provenance of the right to point out that President Obama often seems overmatched by his job. But after this weekend’s latest round of debt ceiling negotiations — where a newly irascible President Obama was nowhere to be seen amidst the congressional horse-trading — it’s becoming clear that Democrats on the hill are starting to think the same thing. The ugly details are fleshed out by Craig Crawford, writing in the Huffington Post:

While the GOP obviously would savor a solution to the debt-ceiling crisis that gives Obama no credit, why are Democratic leaders so willing to cut him out?

The answer might be found in growing concerns among veteran Capitol Hill Democrats that their president is a lousy negotiator.

Although they see him as a talented public communicator, his short time as a senator and painfully slow learning curve as president leads congressional Democrats to think it best to take over and provide cover for him once the deal is done.

“A talented public communicator” who can’t negotiate? The Democrats are essentially saying that the president is really good at talking about his job, just weak when it comes to actually doing it. This, my friends, is what the wag who coined the phrase “damning with faint praise” had in mind.

July 22nd, 2011 at 7:27 pm
Obama Is Nearing His Goal

As I have written and argued repeatedly for months, President Obama wants a crisis. He plans to use a crisis to seize even more power for himself and for the government. Now he is a significant step closer to his goal. Despite his finger-pointing con-job in his nasty press conference this afternoon, Obama is the one who deliberately torpedoed the budget talks. He is the one who has yet to put an actual plan on the table. He is the one who refused to even let GOP negotiators talk. He is the one who insisted through most of the year that no other provisions be attached to the hike in the debt limit — that the debt limit hike should be “clean” rather than include even a single cost saving. Now, as Speaker John Boehner just said, and as so many others have said in less vivid language, “dealing with the president is like negotiating with a bowl of Jello.” He just won’t stay still. And he’s doing it on purpose. He’s doing it because he doesn’t want a deal. He wants a crisis. This is a very dangerous game he’s playing, but he’s playing to win. And if he wins, we all lose — we lose financially, and we lose at least some of our freedom. Mark my words. This is what Obama’s game is. To try to win it, he has been fibbing, faking, and fulminating. Once he wins it, he will do far worse.

July 22nd, 2011 at 1:53 pm
Holder’s Justice Department Seeks Distraction from ATF Gun Scandal in News Corp. Probe

Amid calls for more information about its failed oversight of a growing number of deadly “gun walking” schemes, the Department of Justice has found a new reason to stonewall congressional investigators: DOJ needs to divert manpower and resources to investigating Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. for possible criminal charges.

Even though all of the alleged criminal activity attaching to News Corp. is in the United Kingdom, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is sparing no time in making a public show of his department’s willingness to discover some stateside.

Those investigating the Fast and Furious, Gunrunner, and Castaway scandals – Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) chief among them – shouldn’t let Holder lessen the pressure for answers by changing the topic.  The message to Holder should be clear: Investigate if you must, but comply with the next information deadline or be in contempt of Congress.

July 22nd, 2011 at 1:24 pm
The NRSC’s Hush Money Angers Tea Party

The fight between the Tea Party and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is heating up again.  The Daily Caller says that the group quietly gave money to Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dick Lugar (R-IN), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), among other incumbents.

Tea Party activists are claiming the NRSC is once again trying to influence GOP primaries that are likely to be contested between establishment types and newer blood fiscal conservatives.  But although Lugar has an official Tea Party opponent (Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock), no official challenger has filed paperwork against Hatch and Snowe.  (Though Rep. Jason Chaffetz is widely expected to compete against Hatch.)

The complaints of NRSC favoritism have more sway in Lugar’s case since Mourdock is actively campaigning against him.  If the Tea Party wants to make its point heard in the other cases, it better get challengers like Chaffetz to get off the fence and into the race.

July 22nd, 2011 at 1:18 pm
Obama Anniversaries Cause for Despair, Not Celebration

The Heritage Foundation has a helpful list of the Obama Administration’s many anniversaries this month:

The Obama Administration has seen its fair share of milestones this month. Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Protection Act, Obamacare is just over one year old, it has been more than 800 days since the Democrat-controlled Senate passed a budget, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau opened its doors on Thursday–the first new federal agency in nearly a decade. You’ll notice that no one is celebrating any of them.

Liberals are aghast that regulating the economic activity of millions of people is going so slow, while business owners and the unemployed are living in constant fear of growth-killing rules.

Happy Anniversaries, Mr. President!  Your laws are destroying America.

July 22nd, 2011 at 12:54 pm
John Edwards Campaign Experiencing a Different Kind of Transparency

Roll Call reports that former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has been ordered by the Federal Election Commission to repay nearly $2.3 million in misused matching funds.

The FEC’s order follows a legally required audit of Edwards’ campaign after the candidate took taxpayer money in return for capping his expenditures.  It turns out Edwards exceeded the cap and violated the law.  (For those familiar with Edwards’ post-2008 history, it’s no surprise his fiscal excess rose to the level of his personal excess.)

What does this have to do with campaign finance law?  Plenty.

To supporters, one of the goals of campaign finance laws is to increase the amount of transparency in who funds a candidate.  That goal is much easier to achieve when the hook of federal auditing is swallowed along with matching funds.  Like most liberals, John Edwards is relentlessly supportive of increasing government oversight on just about everything.  Now, the very transparency and oversight he championed for others is unearthing all kinds of sordid details he would surely prefer stay out of view.

Maybe Edwards’ inner libertarian will awaken and he’ll become an advocate for less government and more privacy.  If nothing else, he would be well advised in the future to practice a lot more discretion.

July 22nd, 2011 at 11:49 am
CFIF’s Weekly Liberty Update
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Center For Individual Freedom - Liberty Update

This week’s edition of the Liberty Update, CFIF’s weekly e-newsletter, is out. Below is a summary of its contents:

Hillyer:  The Nation Could Use Santorum-omics
Ellis:  Operation Castaway, Another ATF Gun Scandal
Senik:  Obama to America: “The Check is in the Mail”
Ellis:  “Green Jobs” from Government Subsidies Wither on the Vine
Release:  CFIF Secures First Amendment Victory for Core Speech in West Virginia

Freedom Minute Video:  Obama by the Numbers: The President’s Debt Ceiling Lie
Podcast:  Former FL House Maj. Leader Discusses Federal Debt Limit, Energy Policy, More
Jester’s Courtroom:  Vegetarians Sue for Trip to Ganges River

Editorial Cartoons:  Latest Cartoons of Michael Ramirez
Quiz:  Question of the Week
Notable Quotes:  Quotes of the Week

If you are not already signed up to receive CFIF’s Liberty Update by e-mail, sign up here.