Archive for October, 2011
October 31st, 2011 at 6:16 pm
Peter Schiff Takes on Occupy Wall Street
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Ever since he ran for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut last year, Euro Pacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff has been a hero to libertarian-leaning Republicans throughout the nation, including to a few of us here at CFIF).

With that in mind, Schiff certainly didn’t have to do anything to further establish his bona fides. Yet this financial titan — a self-identified member of “the one percent” — had the courage to wade into Occupy Wall Street and face his detractors head on. Check out the video below:

October 31st, 2011 at 2:52 pm
More Calls for Holder to Resign

So now the Daily Caller reports that 17 congressman have called for the scalp (figuratively speaking) of Attorney General Eric Holder. To which my question is, why only 17?!?!?

October 31st, 2011 at 1:14 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: Scary
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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.

October 28th, 2011 at 6:51 pm
REINS Act Moving Forward

Previously, I’ve written about the need to pass the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act by Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY).  If passed, the bill would require all new bureaucratic rules costing $100 million or more to have an up-or-down, standalone vote in Congress, plus the President’s signature before going into effect.

The main purpose of the REINS Act is to give Congress a check on the administrative state so that job-killing regulations get a chance to be eliminated before going into effect.

This is yet another example giving the lie to President Obama’s charge of a do-nothing Congress, the House majority continues to move bills that will help the economy.  The House Judiciary Committee reported the bill favorably yesterday.  Here’s hoping it gets fast-tracked for a full House vote soon.

October 28th, 2011 at 6:26 pm
Happy Birthday, Lady Liberty

Ed O’Keefe reports on the 125th birthday of the Statue of Liberty.  Here’s his summary of today’s festivities:

The National Park Service is hosting a series of events Friday to mark the Oct. 28, 1886 dedication of one of the nation’s most iconic landmarks. In an effort to recreate some of the original festivities (which included an appearance by President Grover Cleveland), the U.S. Coast Guard plans to sponsor a flotilla of vessels, the New York Fire Department fireboats plan to provide a water spout display and the Park Service is hosting a morning concert.

Later, in a nod to the 21st century, officials plan to unveil a new “torch webcam” providing viewers with views of New York Harbor and the statue from within Lady Liberty’s torch.

Of course, Lady Liberty has also hosted some famous speeches, including this memorable 4th of July jewel from Ronald Reagan 25 years ago.

As the Occupy fill-in-the-blank mob-ocracy exposes our great cities to squalor, let Reagan’s speech and today’s festivities remind you there is an alternative.

October 28th, 2011 at 12:21 pm
2.5% GDP: Lackluster Is the New Outstanding in the Age of Obama
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So the government reported tepid 2.5% gross domestic product (GDP) third quarter growth yesterday, and the market celebration it triggered says a lot about the bleak nature of the Obama economy.

First of all, that reading fell below consensus expectations of 2.7% growth.  Second, 2.5% falls almost a full percentage point below the post-war historical average of 3.3% quarterly growth.  Third, GDP should be growing even faster than that 3.3% long-term average during a period of so-called “recovery” – recall that the most recent recession officially ended nine quarters ago in June 2009.  At a similar point during the Reagan recovery in 1984, GDP grew at a 7.1% rate following consecutive quarters of 9.3%, 8.1%, 8.5% and 8.0% growth.  And at the same point during the Bush recovery from the Clinton/Gore tech bubble downturn and 9/11, GDP grew 3.7% following a previous quarter of 6.7% growth.  Fourth, 2.5% growth is insufficient to significantly improve the nation’s festering unemployment problem.

A 2.5% rate certainly beats the 0.4% and 1.3% readings for the preceding two quarters of 2011, but America’s desperate need for new economic leadership becomes clear when such a lackluster result is seen as “good” news.

October 28th, 2011 at 12:15 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:

Senik:  Blow up the Boxes: GOP Presidential Candidates are Getting Bold on Tax Reform
Hillyer:  Federal Workforce Savings Made Easy
Lee:  Support for Gun Control Falls to Record Low
Ellis:  Congressman to Bureaucrats: “Stop Sitting on Our Assets”

Freedom Minute Video:  The United Nations: 66 Years of Bilking the American Taxpayer
Podcast:  Occupy Wall Street and the Obama Administration’s Double Standards
Jester’s Courtroom:  To the Moon and Back Lands Astronaut in Court

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.

October 28th, 2011 at 11:03 am
Podcast: Occupy Wall Street and the Obama Administration’s Double Standards
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Troy Senik, former presidential speechwriter and Senior Fellow at CFIF, discusses the double standard applied by the media with respect to the Occupy Wall Street rallies versus the Tea Party movement, and the Obama Administration’s double standard regarding presidential war powers.

Listen to the interview here.

October 28th, 2011 at 10:11 am
Video – The United Nations: 66 Years of Bilking the American Taxpayer
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United Nations Day was earlier this week.  In honor of the occasion, CFIF’s Renee Giachino looks back on the world body’s 66-year history and highlights how a dream of an institution to protect the goals of world peace has, in reality, been a forum for some of the world’s worst despots, funded with U.S. taxpayer money.


October 27th, 2011 at 9:57 pm
Re: Businesses Are Scared to Death
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Quin writes below, quite sensibly, that, when it comes to reforming the tax code, changing corporate rates should take precedence over reforming individual rates, reasoning that the economic anemia in private sector business is one of the largest obstacles to renewed growth. I find that analysis completely salutary, although I differ with him on a few particulars in the post.

First, Cain, Perry, and Gingrich all have corporate tax reform as a part of their plans. Cain, of course, would reduce it to 9 percent (although his addition of a federal sales tax would offset some of those savings). Perry would drop it to 20 percent, while Gingrich would take it down to 12.5 percent. As Quin notes, Santorum’s plan is quite good too, although I recoil a little at the fact that he eliminates the tax only for the manufacturing sector. There’s not a particularly good economic rationale for such differential treatment of industries under the tax code (not to mention that it’s a kissing cousin to the “picking winners and losers” criticism that the right has correctly embraced of late — although at least in this case it’s about who gets rewarded the most, not punished).  This leads me to believe that this section of the plan is politically motivated, aimed at boosting Santorum with blue-collar voters of the type that are essential to winning elections in labor-heavy states like his native Pennsylvania.

I’m also not convinced that passing personal income tax reform would be a heavier legislative lift than corporate tax reform, for reasons that Quin lays out. Personal rates are visceral and instantly understandable. Because there are several intellectual steps one has to go through to understand the effect of corporate rates on personal income, I think that may be the harder sell.

These are extraordinarily minor differences in the big picture, however. We all agree on the broad thrust of the argument: without flatter, fairer, more transparent taxes, America will be unnecessarily suppressing the ingenuity that could lead to an economic renaissance. But that change won’t come unless the keys to the White House change hands in January 2013. That’s just one more reason why next year’s election is so vitally important.

October 27th, 2011 at 12:27 pm
Businesses Are Scared to Death

Ashton asks me if I know of businesses eager to expand. The answer is no. Or, rather, “Bleep no!” And today’s news about the dollar falling even farther will worry them even more. Obama regulatory policy, Obama/Reid fiscal policy, and Bernanke’s recklessly inflationary monetary policy all have given businesses the willies. Now comes word that consumer confidence, already low, has fallen even more precipitously. Nothing will give businesses confidence until the leftists in the executive branch are gone.

That said, I agree wholeheartedly with the main thrust of Troy’s excellent column about tax reform — bold reform of individual income taxes is desperately needed, and Mitt Romney’s failure to propose such a thing is another horrendous mark against him — but I disagree that individual tax reform should come first in this horrid economy, and I disagree that only four people still have a chance to win the Republican nomination.  Individual tax reform, no matter how designed, will take tremendous time and effort to work through the legislative process, with all sorts of trade-offs along the way. And in this economy, the problem isn’t really coming from individuals, it’s coming from a failure of corporations to re-invest the mountains of cash on which they now sit.

All of which is to say that the best way to cut the Gordian knot, for the current economy, is to completely eliminate corporate income taxes in one fell swoop. Almost as good is to cut them in half, and eliminate them entirely for manufacturers, as Rick Santorum would do.  Which leads us to the failure to mention Santorum as a real contender for the nomination. A word to the wise: Check out his grassroots organization in Iowa. It’s the single best one to date.

Sure, voters are focused on how their taxes, not corporate taxes, will change. That’s why 9-9-9 proved so sexy. But they care about jobs as well, and if the sale is made right, they’ll see that the good jobs will come fastest from corporate tax reform, not individual tax reform. All Santorum need add when he’s discussing his tax proposal is that he has always supported various versions of the flat tax, that the idea isn’t anything new, and that so many off-the-shelf flat-tax plans have been out there for a quarter-century that the exact details don’t matter. He’s for a flatter, simpler individual tax code, period. But you don’t worry about income taxes if you don’t have a job, and a one-stop corporate-tax slash is the best way to achieve that.

October 27th, 2011 at 9:43 am
Ramirez Cartoon – Attn. Air Force One Passengers: Taxpayers’ Wallets Can Be Used As a Flotation Device
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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.

October 26th, 2011 at 10:03 pm
ACORN Joins the Group of Liberal Special Interests Backing Occupy Wall Street
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I’ve posted before on how the ‘Occupy’ protests — supposedly an outlet for the disenfranchised and underprivileged — have cast their lot with powerful left-wing special interests like the teachers unions. Now, according to Big Government, ACORN is getting in on the action:

Fox News reported earlier today that remnants of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), the radical community organizing group that collapsed after its corruption was exposed by Big Government, are playing a “behind the scenes” role in organizing the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.

The Fox News investigation followed Matthew Vadum’s report two weeks ago at Big Government that ACORN was paying people to attend the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York through the Working Families Party, an ACORN front group.

Now, Big Government has learned that in an email sent by Fithian to Occupy organizers and supporters on October 22, 2011, she reported that the “New Bottom Line”–an effort to move as much money out of major banks as possible on November 5th–is being led by several ACORN-linked organizations: “National People’s Action, National Pico Network, and Alliance for Just and Sustainable Economy and other key state groups like ACCE in CA, NYCC in NY, or MORE in St. Louis.”

I don’t begrudge these groups their ability to participate in these protests. That’s a natural consequence of the robust rights of free association present in a liberal society. What I do object to, however, is the ‘Occupy’ movement’s continued rhetorical claims to be a voice for the voiceless when it’s doing the bidding of some of the most powerful and well-heeled liberal special interests in the nation. This isn’t a left-wing revolution promoting “people power.” It’s just the same old tax-and-spend crowd, only this time on the sidewalks.

October 26th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
More on Obama’s War on Ambition

Quin’s point is well taken.  Obama-era regulations and rhetoric are scaring away the kind of investment growth the country needs to get Americans back to work.  On the regulatory side, increased capital holding requirements stack dollar bills in bank vaults while small business loans dry up.  Cost-of-employment drivers like Obamacare and the EPA’s threatened regulation of carbon make any rational employer look for ways to enhance productivity and efficiency instead of staffing up.  Simply put, under President Obama it’s cheaper to do more with less to keep what you have rather than risk the money and regulatory gauntlet trying to increase market share.

On the rhetoric side, my recent column on the five most recent dumb statements by the president contains just a sample of his daily assaults on the ambition and energy of America’s job creators.  What the president fails to see is that a sustainable government depends on a vastly more prosperous private economy.  Until he learns the importance of that relationship, we’re likely doomed to being (and producing) much less than we otherwise would.

Btw, Quin: I’m sure you’ve got business contacts in the Mobile-D.C. corridor.  Are any of them looking at the current and future regulatory scene and thinking, “Gee, what a great time to expand”?

October 26th, 2011 at 10:12 am
Whaddya Mean “We,” Kemosabe?

Jimmy Carter lives, but he has big jug ears and he can’t talk without a teleprompter. This is about the fourth time in recent weeks that Barry O has sounded like Carter complaining about national malaise (yes, I know Carter himself never used the word, but Carter did describe it). (For instance, see item number two, about Americans getting “soft,” in Ashton’s story.)  The One says we have lost our ambition and our imagination. Well, no… but his heavy layer of government and his insistence that government do all our thinking and choosing for us has certainly made it hard for us to exercise the ambition and imagination that remain central facets of the American character. We have not lost them; they’ve just been somewhat smothered under Obama’s boots. If he wants us to get our ambition back, he might want to consider taking a permanent vacation, and taking all his rule-by-(illegal)-fiat administrative commissars with him.

October 25th, 2011 at 5:44 pm
Blame Bush! Consumer Confidence Returns to Recession Levels
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In an ominous sign, the nation’s consumer confidence plummeted in October to lows not seen since March 2009, three months before the last recession officially ended.  After improving to 46.4 in September, the measure fell 7 points to 39.8, well below what economists expected.  That reading is also far below the 90 level that economists generally agree indicates a healthy economy.

So along with the cyclical recovery following the last recession, consumer confidence rose but has now returned to lows not seen since that time.  It will therefore be interesting to watch Barack Obama and liberals attempt to once again scapegoat the Bush Administration for this, almost three years since Bush departed office, and five years since his party last controlled Congress.

October 25th, 2011 at 3:28 pm
Like It or Not, This is Your Presidential Field
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I’m in agreement with Quin’s sentiment, expressed below, that the Republican presidential field could have benefited from a few more entrants, especially if it was accompanied by getting rid of some of the dead weight currently in the field (at this point, I’d be happy for the debates to be four-man affairs with Romney, Perry, Gingrich, and Cain). For some perspective, imagine the lineup on stage for a debate between those who passed on the race: John Thune, Sarah Palin, Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, Mitch Daniels, Bobby Jindal, Haley Barbour, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie. That’s a group that is depressingly more presidential than our current crop.

I don’t share Quin’s optimism, however that the field is going to change. Mike Pence has pretty safe odds to become the next Governor of Indiana, a prospect that’s not worth sacrificing for a long shot presidential bid out of the House of Representatives. Bobby Jindal would have engaged in something just short of electoral fraud if he jumped in the race only days after winning a second term as governor (the Iowa Caucuses will actually be held before he is even sworn in for his next term).

One factor, however, is nearly dispositive: timing. Next Monday is the filing deadline for the Florida Primary. Tuesday is the deadline in South Carolina. If we’re going to see anyone else in the field, it’s going to have to happen in the next few days. Putting together a campaign on that timeframe — particularly when most of the big donors and premium staffers have already been snatched up — is next to impossible, which means this field is almost certainly set. Like it or not, the next time you the see the candidates take the stage at a GOP debate, you’ll be looking at the future Republican presidential nominee.

October 25th, 2011 at 11:38 am
Still Room for an Entrant Into The GOP Field

I’ll admit it: Early this year, if Mike Pence had decided to run for president, I would have been “all in” for him. Here, Bill Kristol suggests that Pence is one who still should consider changing his “no go” decision. (Oh, what a nice thought!) The larger point that Kristol makes, a point that is right on target, is that there is absolutely no reason why the current shape of the race must remain in place. The vast majority of GOP voters are not yet even remotely committed to any particular candidate. In that light, my column today at The American Spectator names yet another person who party big-wigs ought to try to recruit: Bobby Jindal, who just won re-election as Louisiana governor in a landslide. As you’ll see in my column, Jim Geraghty also has a big Jindal feature in the latest issue of National Review.

To be clear, I’m not saying Jindal would get my vote even if he ran. I might still vote for Rick Santorum. I still see the appeal of Herman Cain.  Whatever. But that’s the point: I’m like more than 80 percent of Republican voters: I’m still able to be swayed.  So, dear reader, are you, almost assuredly. At Real Clear Politics, Scott Conroy says we shouldn’t be fooled, for instance, by Santorum’s low polling numbers, because his organization in Iowa is remarkably strong. I agree.

Right now it appears, for instance, that if either Herman Cain’s outlandish lack of a clue on foreign and defense policy or his weak campaign organization catches up with him and he starts to sink, the next conservative poised to make a challenge is Newt Gingrich, who was given up for dead almost as soon as he entered the race with a thud in the spring. Who woulda thunk that Gingrich could rehabilitate himself? (Who woulda thunk Republican voters would look past Gingrich’s sordid past, his implosion as Speaker based on his arrogance and mercurial nature, his habit of saying nasty things about conservatives, his huge negatives among independent voters, his pathetic pandering on ethanol and on global warming nonsense in general, his habit of sticking his foot in his mouth, or any of his other manifold weaknesses?) But if Gingrich can rise from the political dead all the way to third in the polls, why can’t Santorum catch the next wave? Or why can’t a Jindal jump in with just the right finesse and surge like Cain did, and like Perry and Bachmann did before Cain?

This race remains wide open, folks. Keeping it wide open is a good thing, not a bad one, because it allows more relevant information to surface and tests the candidates more strenuously, making the eventual nominee far more hardened and ready for whatever Barack Obama’s minions can throw at him.

October 25th, 2011 at 10:31 am
Bobby Jindal for HHS Secretary?

Last week, Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal coasted to an easy reelection thanks in large part to a strong record of accomplishment in reforming his state’s previously out-of-control healthcare system.  Here’s what a writer in Forbes has to say about Jindal’s version of reform:

While Jindal’s record on reducing health-care spending is impressive, even more impressive is how he stayed focused on improving the quality of Louisiana health care, putting paid to the Democratic conceit that the only way to improve health-care quality is with more government spending, and that anyone concerned about budget deficits is destined to harm those most in need.

If a Republican wins the White House in 2012, he or she will need an energetic expert running the Department of Health and Human Services in order to repeal and replace Obamacare with a free market alternative.  If records matter, Bobby Jindal should be every fiscal conservative’s choice for what may be the most consequential cabinet position over the next four years.

October 25th, 2011 at 10:12 am
Paul Ryan, Mark Begich Have Best Congressional Websites

The Congressional Management Foundation, a non-profit entity that rates congressional websites, gave top marks to the office portals belonging to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Mark Begich (D-AK).  Besides artistic eye appeal, one of the key elements of a superior website is the ease with which visitors can access important information.

On that score, Ryan and Begich’s websites appear to be outliers.  According to Congressional Management, “A significant number of member websites lack basic educational and transparency features and content valuable to their constituents.”  Then again, if you’ve ever encountered the ugly unhelpfulness of most government organs, you probably already knew that.