Another day, another fiscal-cliff deal gone down the drain. John Boehner, already taking heat from the right for his softening stance on raising taxes, has come out with another offer to the president and the left. Called “Plan B”, the plan formerly had the support of Nancy Pelosi. Plan B would set the lower limit for raising taxes at the $1 million level. Plan B is very similar to the same bill that had Senate Democrats’ support in 2010.
For her part, in an interview with Andrea Mitchell, Pelosi now says she only supported the plan to “smoke out the Republicans”, and see at what level they would consider raising taxes. Pelosi was negotiating purely in bad faith, it seems. She did not have anything serious to bring to the discussion, and she was merely wasting time. That, or she is negotiating from the standpoint of “getting an inch, and taking a foot”. Whatever her motive was, it is plain to see how destructive and pointless it was.
Mitch McConnell says he would support the Plan B design, but he would do so with reservations. McConnell would rather have a bill that did not raise taxes on anybody. With Boehner’s support of this newest plan, numerous other House members raised objections to the new tax considerations, but they seem to recognize that without any plan, taxes would greatly rise. The gambit now is to “shield” as many people from the massive tax increases as possible. Sean Duffy, Jim Jordan, and Raul Labrador all seemed lukewarm at best to the prospect of voting for any tax increases, with Labrador refusing to even share his criticisms.
Called out for his part (or non-part) in the fiscal-cliff talks was Harry Reid. One Republican adviser said Reid has been on the sidelines for the cliff negotiations. Reid has also claimed that, despite numerous revisions to their positions, and despite the most recent offer, Republicans “…have threatened to abandon serious negotiations”. Perhaps more proof that he is merely running interference for the White House, Reid also claimed that President Obama has not heard from Boehner since Boehner’s new offer on Monday.
President Obama has balked at every offer the Republicans have proposed so far. Threatening a veto of everything has him in the position of a win-win situation. On one hand, if nothing happens, and taxes explode, he can continue to spend, thanks to the new revenues. On the other hand, if the Republicans cave in, he can both claim he negotiated the excellent deal, and privately, he can tell his sycophants he made Boehner and the Republicans submit. White House officials are also now claiming that the President will refuse to negotiate with Republicans out of principle. That of course, will allow President Obama (and Reid) to claim they attempted to negotiate, but were simply prevented from passing any legislation by the blocking Republicans (yet again).
To the left, the worst thing to come of failed fiscal-cliff talks is that President Obama has to postpone leaving for his Christmas vacation. They face: finally getting huge tax increases, yet again, furthering the narrative of a blocking, do-nothing, Republican party, and they get huge military cuts. Merry Christmas, America.
Yesterday’s monumental wins by Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch are still being celebrated today by the right, and bitterly bemoaned by the left. As the left put their faith in exit polls shared by media sources MSNBC and others, the races looked like they would be fairly close. Despite the president’s reluctance to show his support for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (until an 11th hour tweet), maybe it was somehow possible Barrett still had a good chance to keep the race close. As it turns out, the race was not really that close at all, and for all their spending, democrats were left with a big bag of nothing, going 0-2 in the recall races.
As an analytical guy, I think that there are some very strong, very significant, takeaways from this special recall election.
- The Wisconsin voters did not buy the rhetoric that having public employees pay a fraction of their own insurance costs would somehow put them into the poor house. The voters, who typically pay more for their own insurance, and had to then pay a lion’s share of public sector employees’ costs had enough. After the past few years of burgeoning governments, and massive spending by both state and federal governments, voters let their votes speak for them: enough is enough. The left would be careful not to neglect the message that progressive policies, and its empty rhetoric, is now at an all-time nadir.
- Despite media sources’ best efforts to sell the president as a friendly every man, and someone who’s infinitely more capable than his administration and his track record shows, he has still only has lukewarm support among some big names, even on the left. The biggest story of this election is the revelation that Bill Clinton, patron saint of democrats, still has a distaste for Obama. In the last presidential election, against Hilary, a shocked Bill Clinton revealed that the Obama campaign “played the race card on me…and they planned to do it all along.” Is it the result of two massive cults of personality, butting heads? The result of the greatest contemporary democratic president (Clinton) and the man who’s billed as the greatest democratic president (Obama)?
- We also learned that state democrats and other Barrett supporters were angry at the Democratic National Committee for not spending any funds against Walker and Kleefisch, but that the DNC helped in other ways. I wonder if the “extensive resources” mentioned in the Kos article is in any way tied to the out-of-state buses taking people to polling places? Could this be a result of the national DNC attempting to save and pool money for the lackluster Obama campaign throughout this summer and fall? Might the national elections this fall mirror these attempts to unfairly sway elections, but on a much, much larger scale?
- Lastly, the distinct lack of enthusiasm on the left may continue to spread as college graduates struggle to find jobs where there are none, and high school students, who will generally do odds jobs or other minimum wage work, see those jobs evaporate as over-qualified adults take the positions. The distinct lack of job creation, coupled with an influx of new workers, added to a stagnant economy overall, does not bode well for Obama’s re-election hopes. As he admitted himself, if he could not turn around the economy, he would be a one-term president.
I was recently reading a book by British author, economist, and historian, Niall Ferguson, called “Colossus“, where he compared the British Empire to the American pseudo-empire. Ferguson made it very clear that the American version was far differing in its outcomes than the British, which had numerous factors working in its favor. One of the most glaring differences was that British citizens were far more willing to move to colonies and conquered areas, both to build and develop a British-style administration and to improve infrastructure over decades, where American citizens would rather simply stay put.
There were a number of factors Ferguson cited, in a list by historian David Landes, that are tactics that second- and third-world countries’ economies and legal systems should use to improve and grow. Upon reading this list, I grew dumbfounded as many of the things enumerated within that list, are the polar opposite of the policies of President Obama and his administration, in the last three years in the United States. Instead of moving “Forward” (if you will forgive the use of the already hackneyed campaign slogan of Obama’s), the president acts in ways that are completely contrary to common sense and pro-American beliefs. I post the list below (also posted in one of Ferguson’s previous works, “Empire“) along with my thoughts as I read the tactics:
1. secure rights of private property, the better to encourage saving and investment
This item put me in mind of the egregious Gibson guitar raids in the summer of 2011. Secure rights of private property? Hardly – the U.S. government twice raided the Gibson factory, citing a law from 1900 (more commonly known as the Lacey Act, found here with amended text), that was originally written to protect the trade of feathers for hats. Amended and broadened in 2008, the law now includes plants. Despite legal sales, approved by Indian and Malagasy authorities, the U.S. Feds raided and seized Gibson wood stocks anyway.
2. secure rights of personal liberty...against both the abuses of tyranny and...crime and corruption
Can we honestly say the administration has done this? My mind goes to the loss of Brian Terry’s life, as a result of the “Fast & Furious” scandal, a flawed, illegal, haphazardly executed gun selling operation. Refusing to apologize to Terry’s family, A.G. Holder still balks at producing the papers Congress is requesting from his D.O.J. Another example that is also connected to this program, is the ongoing scuttlebutt that the program’s design was to negatively effect the power of the 2nd Amendment.
3. enforce rights of contract;
I do not feel like there is much more to say than bringing up the government take over of the student loan program, and its take over of healthcare in the country. The government came in, and while promising one thing, delivered everything but.
4. provide stable government...governed by publicly known rules;
Have we seen a good example of this from Democrats? Between their “deemed to have passed” legislation, and a completely “tabled” Senate (also led by Harry Reid and Democrats) – can we honestly call this a “stable government”? With state Congresses fleeing the states to prevent votes on hotly contested legislation, who needs rules and stability? There are plenty of easily understood rules, but if the people in charge choose to ignore them, what do we have?
5. provide responsible government;
Responsible government? Again, I’d like to bring up “Fast & Furious”. Eric Holder continues to serve as Attorney General, and the threat of contempt of Congress does not seem to phase him. Another thought is the numerous, unanswerable czars of the president’s and the regulatory agencies (think: E.P.A.) that are using their power (with little, if any) oversight and accountability.
6. provide honest government...[with] no rents to favour and position;
How could I not think of the Solyndra mess? Loaning millions of dollars to the business, only to saw it wasted, as the company blew through it, at its (well-known and purposely overlooked) high burn-rate, and where it was later revealed that a big investor was George Kaiser, one of President Obama’s campaign bundlers. As far as no favor to position – how about the benefit of being a Congressional member? Access to a legal way to get in on nearly impossible-to-join IPOs and investments, that normal Americans were held out of?
7. provide moderate, efficient, ungreedy government...to hold taxes down [and] reduce the government's claim on the social surplus
While the cry of the left is ”Well, Bush did it too!”, when they defend Obama’s questionable actions, whatever Bush may have done does not hold a candle to the extent of Obama’s odious actions. Obama has expanded the deficit more than any other president in history. How would he and his party seek to pay for their bills? Taxes, of course. Create some new ones, and expand the old ones – simply tax, tax, tax, then they can spend, spend, spend. The administration raided Medicare Advantage funds to help pay for Obamacare (to the tune of $204 billion).
So, if the list contains directions for a well-maintained and least troublesome government, why would the president do anything otherwise? If I were a cynic, I might offer Rahm Emmanuel’s quip, “Never let a crisis go to waste.” Create a crisis, and then ride in to save the day. The only problem is that there are far too many crises, and too many unaccountable people, following their own rules, in Washington.
This week, the news brought us the usual reports of violence, danger, and other assorted evils beyond our southern border. To hear the number of times news anchors frighten American listeners with the tales of Mexican citizens and government officials’ beheadings and murders, you could be forgiven for wondering if the anchors are mixing up stories of the Middle East violence with that of Mexican drug cartels. Violence may never have been as elevated as it is in northern Mexico at this moment, partially thanks due to lackadaisical administration starting with Janet Napolitano and stretching to Eric Holder’s Department of Justice. From officials like these, we are told the border with Mexico has never been safer — the same border through which thousands of guns were: purchased in the United States, given to Mexican drug traffickers, transported haphazardly, and promptly lost in Mexico. Of course, the repercussions of that entire fiasco are still being felt – thousands of Mexican citizens are being threatened and killed, and travel advisories are issued for Americans to steer clear of entire Mexican towns. They simply aren’t safe, we are told. Unless, you are a 13 year old member of the Obama family, with dozens of Secret Service agents on a spring break jaunt. Then, you might be ok. Showing what can only be described as a “Rosie O’Donnell-esque” double standard when it comes to firearms (they’re fine if they are protecting someone near and dear to them, but you dumb Americans really are not to be trusted with such things…)
Now, I have no issue with the First Daughter having a vacation, and even taking friends along (and I certainly do not wish them to travel without adequate safety precautions) – what I do take issue with, is a president who tells the American people, with a straight face, that we need to engage in “shared sacrifice”, and get this country back to work. A president who, after ordering that, sends his family on an international trip for fun.
So this is not just a Democratic understanding; this is an understanding that I think the American people hold that we should not be asking sacrifices from middle-class folks who are working hard every day, from the most vulnerable in our society — we should not be asking them to make sacrifices if we’re not asking the most fortunate in our society to make some sacrifices as well.
Is there a dearth of culture here domestically, Mr. President? Is spending dollars here at home (and stimulating the American economy) not needed any longer? There are plenty of Americans still feeling the sting of your inability to reinvigorate the economy, and Harry Reid’s continuous Senatorial budget failings. You could have actually followed your own advice, and even earned some kudos from some Americans, but instead, you have apparently decided, like so many other Americans, that your onerous advice and rules should not apply to you and your family. The average American cannot afford to send their junior high school family member on international spring break trip, and they surely could not pay for the required security detail necessary (I doubt you could either – am I wrong to assume it is taxpayer-funded?)
So, the September 7th jobs address to the joint houses of Congress has now been moved to September 8th, and undoubtedly, democrats will howl and moan that Boehner played dirty or did not have the right to rebuff the president. It is my understanding that for anyone to enter the House chamber and address the body, they must be first invited by the Speaker. So it seems as though Boehner was well within his rights to tell the president the 7th was a no-go date. While this address will undoubtedly sound like something new to democrats and presidential supporters, everyone else may hear more of the administration’s continued promises of jobs and economic turn around. So, far, the administration was been long rhetoric, and short actual physical job creation (I know, I know Obama supporters – he has saved or created millions of jobs). I am still unsure what a “saved” job actually looks like, and if either Jay Carney, Joe Biden, or the president himself were pressed to describe one, the silence would be deafening.
I have taken the liberty to prepare a score sheet of sorts, for what I expect to be the main idea(s) of the address, along with the president’s former actions that show it would not be a safe bet to buy into any of his bulls– er, rhetoric. A few things intrigue me as to why the address is actually necessary at all, and a commentator on FNC said that the president must have something “big” to talk about or reveal, and that is the reason for the joint Congressional address. I wonder if Joe Biden’s trip to China may have something to do with the need to address the American public, yet again? Perhaps our Chinese Uncle Moneybags is going to cut off the free-flowing money (finally!)
First possible topic: High-speed rail? Remember that issue he was pressing, as some sort of billion-dollar boondoggle that would lift the nation out of recession? Then, last November, a wave of Republican and Conservative leaning governors won elections, and refused the money earmarked for the rail. Obama did not seem too pleased by it, but played it as a move by the governors to hurt their own states. The governors, for their parts, said they did not know of, want to be responsible for, or have anything else to do with the rails’ projected future liabilities. With Amtrak as a model, who can blame them for rejecting federal, subsidized transportation? I am sure the Chinese bullet train derailing and killed scores before Biden’s visit did not lend support either.
Next possible topic: More infrastructure spending? The first round of spending was sold to the American people as “shovel-ready”, and as a way to better the country – indeed, how could we lose out on this deal? Well, we seem to have. The unemployment rate is still north of 9%, and the president himself infamously joked, “Well, I guess the jobs weren’t as shovel-ready as we thought…” No, Mr. President, they certainly weren’t, but I would be very interested in where all this spending was done, and how it is providing a return on Americans’ investment.
Next possible topic: The president will stand in front of Congress, and, with a straight face, call for more “new tone and civility”. This (again) despite people like Congressman Andre Carson claiming at a Black Caucus event, that some Congressional Tea Party members would like to see “you and me” hanged from trees. The call for civility did not take the first time, and I doubt the president would even bother mentioning it again – so, make this my “outside possibility” topic.
Final possible topic: The amnesty/Dream Act fiasco that seems to be gaining momentum on the left? This could certainly be a topic of the address, since the “Fast and Furious” program was directly shown to be a factor in the deaths of two American law enforcement officers in Mexico, and since heads have already begun to roll this week. What will be the gist? Who knows – perhaps the president will again claim his support for illegal immigrants, brought to America as children, and try to play that as a blanket amnesty step. He may just call for the tightening of the borders and thousands of new hires of border guards. But then, how many votes would that cost him?
So, I am sure we have all heard by now, the effect that the complete and catastrophic failure to raise the debt ceiling is going to cause: American debt default, Social Security checks may not be sent out, soldiers will not be paid, and quite possibly, the whole damned world may cease to exist. Democrats, in no real position to try to claim even an iota of financial responsibility, are now telling us that unless they are enabled to continue to spend as they have for the past two years, everyone’s life is going to get much, much tougher. It is a new spin on their old unspoken belief that they know better than Main Street, USA, how to run everything and spend tax dollars. Oh, no, silly taxpayer – it is not you who sees everyday, how valuable tax money could be used — it’s the politicians in Washington D.C. who know better. If you want to say something about it, well go ahead, and maybe we can get a pork-barrel project sent your way – with your Congressman’s name all over it, of course. The tax-and-spend-and-give-the-constituents-crumbs is a cycle which seems to have finally gotten so bad, that an entire political movement has risen up to try to bring it to a complete halt.
The excuses for why the government has so taken to tax dollars worse than ever before runs the gamut, from “It was the last guy’s fault we are running short now”, to the more dramatic, “It’s simple – if we do not get more money, the government (and all of its associated ‘freebies’ for people) are going to end.” Now, I have never been one easily swayed by threats and intimidation, and the dramatic, threatening tactics are just as wasted on children throwing fits in grocery stores aisles. Leading up to the current budget crisis/debt ceiling talks, it had always been my understanding of government that the legislative branch was supposed to prepare and pass a budget for the president’s signature. Except now, for the 800 and who-knows day, there has been no budget passed. The Senate happily plays whatever the president’s game is that week, and neglects the country’s most important business. They’ve done next to nothing to solve the current debt-ceiling fiasco, and seem perfectly content to allow six of its senators to cobble together a plan. This bi-partisan plan, the country’s financial savior as the left would have us believe, is long on hope, and short on actual details. I guess “hope” in D.C., is still recognized as some sort of political asset to be sold to the American people. The thing is, the people aren’t buying anymore. The president’s budget plan, when sent to the Senate was narrowly voted down, 97-0. Yes, that is right, not even the president’s own party would vote for his monstrosity.
The Senate’s “Gang of Six” plan would have the net effect of $3.75 trillion dollars in deficit reduction. When pressed for how the plan would actually work, the authors turned to the typical Washington explanation, “Trust us – it will really fix things.” Apparently, the easily-swayed-by-Senators President Obama was happy to sign on, anticipating a lower than expected cut to entitlements. Truth is, the plan does not seem to address any entitlement reforms at all. The earlier created, Mitch McConnell plan would have a $1.5 trillion deficit reduction effect. At this time, there is no point in even describing the McConnell plan, since the left is happy to support the useless G.O.6 plan, and the House of Representatives has passed “Cut, Cap, and Balance”.
So, where does this leave us? Moody’s, the company recognized as a trusted source of ratings for countries’ bonds, has threatened to downgrade the United States’ rating if nothing is done. The CCB plan, creates a deficit reduction of $6 trillion over ten years. Moody’s has said that to maintain a Aaa rating, the agency would need to see serious deficit reduction – their number? At least $4 trillion. Obama has gone on record as saying if the CCB plan somehow makes it through the Senate, he would veto it. So, I ask you readers – who’s fault would an “under funded” government be at that point? To think, all the years that the U.S. has enjoyed an Aaa bond rating. Of course, that was back when the Senate passed budgets as they are charged with doing.