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?)