The Rise and Fall of Hope and Change

The Rise and Fall of Hope and Change

Alexis de Toqueville

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.
Alexis de Tocqueville

The United States Capitol Building

The United States Capitol Building

The Constitutional Convention

The Constitutional Convention

The Continental Congress

The Continental Congress

George Washington at Valley Forge

George Washington at Valley Forge

Thursday, April 21, 2011

House Freshmen Flunk First Test

From Dick Morris:

HOUSE FRESHMEN FLUNK THE FIRST TEST




By DICK MORRIS & EILEEN MCGANN



Published on DickMorris.com on April 15, 2011



Printer-Friendly Version



Three-quarters of the freshman class of Republican Congressmen - the group that was going to change America - succumbed to party pressure and voted to accept the Boehner sellout deal he struck with President Obama. How disappointing for those of us who worked hard to elect them and vested such hopes for change in their candidacies.



Please go to DickMorris.com for a list of the House freshmen who voted for the Boehner deal - sixty-one of them. The link is in the top left column. Also, please find on our site the names of the 59 men and women of courage and conviction who voted against the sellout compromise.



We cannot read the names of those who folded without a sense of exquisite pain. These were the people who were going to change Washington. Now it is evident that Washington is changing them.



It is not only the paltry nature of the $39 billion in cuts they accepted or even that they broke the basic campaign promise - and premise - on which they were elected, but that they were too frightened to use the lever available to them - shutting down the government. The Republicans would have won that fight. We had hoped that those freshmen who battled the odds so bravely to secure their seats would continue to fight just as vigorously to save America from fiscal ruin, but it was not to be.



Please go to DickMorris.com and read the names of the freshmen Republicans who voted for this deal. Again, the link is in the top left column. It is very important that you write or call them to give them a simple message: either they show more backbone next time or you will withdraw your support.



Theodore Roosevelt said of William Howard Taft that he had the "backbone of a chocolate ├ęclair." The same could be said for three-quarters of our freshmen.



Let's salute the Congressmen who showed that they would keep their word to their voters. Freshmen Scott Rigells (Va), Steve Chabot (Ohio), Cory Gardener (Col), Morgan Griffith (Va), Andy Harris (Md), Robert Hurt (Va), Raul Labrador, Steve Pearce (NM), Scott Tipton (Col), Alan West (Fla) and Ben Quayle (Ariz).



Engraved beside each name, in our minds, is the time we spent campaigning for them and we cannot but feel a warm glow that we helped to put them in office. Those of you who donated to their campaigns should feel especial pride.



For the others, we apologize. If they continue to act as pawns for the Speaker, we need to admit that we should not have asked you to donate funds to them or to help them get elected. And we won't again.



Of course, there is still room for redemption. There will soon be bitter fights over the 2012 budget and legislation to raise the debt limit. Our straying freshmen may yet discover their courage. Your calls and letters to them will help. Please, if you recognize the name of your Congressmen on the list of compliant freshmen or the name of someone to whom you have donated, please call them and express your shock and chagrin. Maybe, maybe they will get the message.



Libertarians Decry Budget Deal As Travesty

From The Libertarian Party:

Libertarians call spending compromise "travesty"




WASHINGTON - Libertarian Party Executive Director Wes Benedict issued the following statement today:



"Just in time for Tax Day, the Republicans and Democrats in Congress have joined hands to clobber American taxpayers.



"According to the Associated Press, the 2011 spending compromise will 'cut federal outlays from non-war accounts by just $352 million through Sept. 30....When war funding is factored in the legislation would actually increase total federal outlays by $3.3 billion relative to current levels.'



"This is happening at a time when federal spending and deficits are at unprecedented high levels. Federal spending this year is expected to be about 5 percent higher than last year. This is a travesty.



"In 2000 under Bill Clinton, federal spending was $1.79 trillion. This year it's expected to be at least $3.63 trillion.



"Neither Democrats nor Republicans have made any serious proposals to change the course of the federal government. In particular, both President Obama's and Congressman Ryan's 2012 budget proposals are absurd. I fear that America will soon be overtaken by events. Inflation, high interest rates, high unemployment, and probably other unforeseen problems will start to force everyone's hand. One way or another, people aren't going to get what they have been led to expect.



"Unless American voters stop supporting Republicans and Democrats very soon, and start supporting Libertarians and Libertarian policies, I believe our future, and the future of our children and grandchildren, will be bleak."



The Cato Institute has produced a short video about the bill, "Obama/Boehner's Phony Spending Cuts."



For more information, or to arrange an interview, call LP Executive Director Wes Benedict at 202-333-0008 ext. 222.



The LP is America's third-largest political party, founded in 1971. The Libertarian Party stands for free markets, civil liberties, and peace. You can find more information on the Libertarian Party at our website.





###



P.S. If you have not already done so, please join the Libertarian Party. We are the only political party dedicated to free markets and civil liberties. You can also renew your membership. Or, you can make a contribution separate from membership.





Obama Blows Up the Bridge

From Town Hall:




Pat Buchanan



Obama Blows up the Bridge

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"Rather than building bridges, he's poisoning wells," said Rep. Paul Ryan, after listening to Barack Obama's scathing attack on his deficit reduction plan as a shredding of America's social contract with the elderly and poor.



Ryan is right. Yet, with Obama's partisan savagery, virtually calling the GOP plan immoral, we have clarity.



There will be no grand bipartisan bargain on taxes and spending.



The two parties on Capitol Hill and the president will not be coming together to solve the gravest financial and fiscal crisis America has faced since the Great Depression. Between them today is a high wall and a deep ditch.



The heart of the Ryan plan is to turn Medicaid into block grants to the states, so each can decide for itself how best to use the funds, and to convert Medicare into a program where the U.S. government would provide citizens with the funds and freedom to chose whatever health insurance they wished to buy.



Obama denounced both.



But if the Republican Medicare and Medicaid proposals are dead on arrival in Harry Reid's Senate and Obama's White House, Obama's plan to raise taxes is equally lifeless.



On MSNBC's "Morning Joe," this writer asked Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform exactly how many GOP members of the House had taken his pledge not to raise taxes.



His response: "The commitment that 235 Republican members of the House and 40 Republicans in the Senate have signed is the Taxpayer Protection Pledge -- it says no raising taxes. So, taxes are off the table."



Seems clear. But if virtually every GOP member of the House and 40 GOP senators have signed a pledge not to raise taxes, how can they dishonor that pledge?



How could they agree to raise the top U.S. income tax rate back up to the 40 percent of the Bill Clinton era, as Obama demands, then go home and tell voters they had no choice, that to get a deal with Reid and Obama they had to let the government take a larger share of the income of American citizens?



They cannot.



Put bluntly, a vote by a Republican House to raise taxes as part of a big budget deal would be an act of collective suicide by the party of Speaker John Boehner.



And the Democrats?



With the exception of the civil rights acts of the 1960s, no programs are more hallowed in party mythology than Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.



Are Democrats, after the "shellacking" of 2010, going to go home and tell their constituents they voted to cut Medicaid benefits?



Are they going to tell the old folks of the Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation and the retiring baby boomers that Medicare in the future will not be as generous as it has been in the past, that we are going to have to start rationing their health care?



The new Republican governors -- Scott Walker in Wisconsin, John Kasich in Ohio, Chris Christie in New Jersey, Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania -- all have resisted raising taxes, as has Andrew Cuomo, Democrat of New York, who enjoys remarkably high poll numbers for the times we live in.



The praise these governors are receiving, even when embattled, has also steeled the spine of congressional Republicans against any tax increase.



But if Democrats are not going to do even minor surgery on Medicare and Medicaid and Republicans are not going to raise taxes, there is no hope of big budget deal to cut a deficit now running at 11 percent of gross domestic product.



And that raises another question.



How long can the Federal Reserve continue financing these deficits?



China, choking on U.S. debt, is reportedly beginning to divest itself of U.S. bonds. Japan will need to sell U.S. bonds to get hard currency to repair the damage from the earthquake and tsunami. And the Fed is about to end its QE2 monthly purchases of $100 billion in U.S. bonds.



Where is the Fed going to borrow the $125 billion a month to finance this year's deficit of $1.65 trillion, and another of comparable size in 2012?



Bill Gross' Pimco, the world's largest bond fund, has sold all his U.S. bonds and begun to short U.S. debt. Pimco is betting that the value of U.S. Treasury bonds will begin to fall.



We may be about to enter a maelstrom.



No big budget deal is brokered. The deficit endures, and another looms in 2012. To finance them, the Fed borrows at the rate of $30 billion a week wherever it can.



But as countries begin to choke on U.S. debt, the market starts to dry up. To attract investors, the Fed must raise interest rates, which sends bond prices sinking and forces interest rates up across the economy.



With interest rates rising, gas prices rising and inflation rising, the squeeze is on, and there is talk of a double-dip recession.



And if that happens, Obama is toast. But, then, so are we.



To find out more about Patrick Buchanan, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.



COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM

















Tags: Jobs , Budget and Government , GOVERNMENT Spending , Debt , Deficit , Paul Ryan









Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .

The House GOP Loses Its Way

From Town Hall:




Hugh Hewitt



The House GOP Loses Its Way

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My pal Dr. Eric Hunter at the National Center for Voice and Speech at the University of Utah reminds me that April 16 is World Voice Day.



This is an appropriate occasion to urge the president to save his overworked and increasingly ineffective vocal chords and to implore the House GOP leadership to begin to use theirs.



Whatever the merits, the budget deal negotiated by the president with Harry Reid and John Boehner last week has been branded a giant exercise in Beltway subterfuge, accomplishing next to nothing in terms of spending control and providing yet again an opportunity for various well-heeled lobbyists and deeply connected special interests to work the Beltway's "third party" of appropriators for a special round of legislative winks and nudges.



What was initially trumpeted as a big win for the Speaker began to shrink under close scrutiny so that Friday's triumph became Monday's draw and Thursday's defeat. Whatever the vote on the floor --and unhappy freshmen are being "whipped" hard even though this vote will create enormous political hardship for many of them-- the Tea Party rallies this weekend will be trashing the deal which the Congressional Budget Office calculates will lower the spending for FY 2011 by a mere $352 million --not billion, but million-- dollars.



The worst part of this was not the low impact on the actual deficit or the loss of every rider of importance.



The worst part was the apparent intent to mislead the conservative base about what had been accomplished, an astonishing choice in the age of new media where the Tea parties are wired through TeaPartyPatriots.com and the world of talk radio nets up the conservative activists and undecided center every day all day.



Only Beltway sharpies are buying what Beltway sharpies are selling --they and the Manhattan-Beltway media elite which appears about as competent as a cement slab when it comes to digging out details of deals the president wants kept obscure.



The good news is that the Speaker gets a do-over immediately with the debt ceiling negotiations. Hopefully he will bring in some new communications advisors and keep serious conservatives at his side rather than just the old guard appropriators who have led him into this trap where the Dems are winning and the conservatives are furious with their leadership and its refusal to fight for the "pledge" that was so prominently featured in the fall.



The sense of separation between the Beltway GOP and the rest of the party, and especially the gap between how the governors are leading and the way the House leadership is negotiating bodes horrible for the re-election efforts of dozens if not scores of GOPers. This stuff defines a member. It sticks. Some may hope to surf another wave, but waves come only infrequently and sometimes in the opposite direction.



When former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty denounced the budget deal on Wednesday, that was the clearest signal of all of what the national party thinks of the half-dozen or so House leaders who did the deal.



There is time for the House leadership to change course, tactics and results, but it is rapidly running out. Start with the "strategists" who came up with "hide the ball" approach. Start using the platforms. Start using the voice.















Tags: Congress , Barack Obama , Budget and Government , John Boehner , Budget Deal , GOP









Hugh Hewitt

Hugh Hewitt is host of a nationally syndicated radio talk show. Hugh Hewitt's new book is The War On The West.

Ryan Rolls His Eyes At New Biden Commission

From Town Hall:




Kevin Glass



Ryan Rolls His Eyes at New "Biden Commission"

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Rep. Paul Ryan made a forceful case for his Path to Prosperity budget this morning and blasted the argument that President Obama outlined in a speech in downtown Washington, DC. He highlighted the irreconcilable differences between his plan and the President's, while admitting he'd been tricked into thinking that Democrats were ready to have a serious conversation about America's entitlement crisis and fiscal future.



"We realized that this wasn't about building bridges. It was about partisanship. What we got yesterday was the opposite of what he said was necessary to is this problem."



Ryan arrived, as usual, flanked by an armada of charts and graphs. "It wouldn't be me if I didn't bring some charts," he announced as he arrived. He supplemented what he said on future debt with many of the same charts he has used to reinforce his case for aggressive reform.



While the President's speech yesterday was billed as his layout of a competing budget vision, no actual plan came out. The only document that the White House produced is a transcript of the Obama speech. "This was a speech, not a plan," Ryan said. "There is no plan, as far as I can tell."



In fact, many of Ryan's charts had to compare his budget projections to the February Obama budget out of necessity. The lack of an actual Obama plan seemed to frustrate the congressman, as he has had to continue comparing his plan to Obama's "fundamentally unserious" budget proposal.



In advance of the speech, the Obama administration sent officials to brief members of Congress on Capitol Hill. But it wasn't an economist from the Treasury Department, or a budgeter from the Office of Management and Budget that the Administration used to put their best foot forward with opposition GOP budgeting legislators. "He sent his campaign manager to discuss the plan," Ryan said, indicating that he believed this was more of a campaign stunt, not a serious policy proposal.



President Obama's speech laid out the path forward from his empty rhetoric to an agreement, saying, "in early May, the Vice President will begin regular meetings with leaders in both parties with the aim of reaching a final agreement on a plan to reduce the deficit and get it done by the end of June." This sounded strikingly similar to farming out the dirty work to other people.



Ryan said Obama "wants another commission – the Biden Commission. We've had so many commissions… why don't we just do our jobs? We keep punting to other people."



In a round of appearances yesterday, the congressman struck similar chords. "I've never seen a President give a speech like this before. I've never seen a President stoop to this level of distortion, demagoguery and partisanship," he said on the Mark Levin show yesterday. "He invited us to come to the speech... We were led to believe that there was going to be an olive branch. And then we get this total political broadside. I expect these kinds of comments from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid - that goes without saying - but to get these things from the President, it's just amazing to me."



Ryan's response was hosted by Economics 21, a nonprofit research organization.















Tags: Barack Obama , Budget and Government , Debt , Paul Ryan









Kevin Glass

Kevin Glass is the Managing Editor of Townhall.com.

Obama: Incorrigible Statist And Debt Menace

From Town Hall:




David Limbaugh



Obama: Incorrigible Statist and Debt Menace



In my book "Crimes Against Liberty," I described President Obama as dishonest, hyper-partisan, a bully, a narcissist and a hard-core left-wing ideologue. Anyone who thinks my description is exaggerated or too harsh didn't hear his Wednesday speech on the budget.



One might have expected that a newly elected president who had "inherited" such a disturbingly high deficit, a growing national debt, and a forecast of unfunded entitlements soon to explode because of baby boomer demographics alone would roll up his sleeves and tackle this deficit and debt problem.



Instead, Obama saw that $1.3 trillion deficit, licked his Marxist chops, and used it as an excuse to double down on the profligate spending that was driving our budgetary problems in the first place. He proposed -- and secured -- an $800 billion "stimulus" package.



With messianic winds at his back, Obama proceeded to implement the plan, which couldn't have even qualified as a bona fide stimulus measure in the eyes of an avowed Keynesian. It was a combination of political paybacks, pork and unprecedented waste, with millions going to phantom ZIP codes under the watchful eye of Obama's stimulus cop, ol' sleeping Joe Biden. Adding insult to the sham claim that this money was designed to stimulate, just a fraction of the money was spent in the first year.



Hindsight confirms what many of us predicted: The stimulus did not stimulate. Unemployment became much worse, and the debt continued to explode. Obama's solution was to ignore the entitlements issue and devise new ways to bankrupt the nation, from cap and trade to Obamacare to reversing welfare reform.



Finally, everyone started to recognize our impending national financial crisis, thanks to the alternative media and the tea party. Obama went through the motions of establishing a "bipartisan" deficit commission, but when it recommended remedial action, he shelved it. He then presented his 10-year budget plan, which he said wouldn't add a penny to the debt but in fact would add some $8 trillion. Then he was AWOL, pretending to be above the "childish" partisan fray occurring in Congress over continuing resolutions.



Next, Rep. Paul Ryan produced his "Path to Prosperity," which boldly addressed entitlements, other spending issues and the oft-forgotten component of balancing budgets, economic growth. Obama was forced out of hiding to give us yet another speech on the budget.



His speech was insulting, misleading, reckless and disgraceful. Instead of offering serious, specific proposals, he gave us generalities and partisan and class warfare. In the words of Ryan in an interview with radio host Mark Levin, Obama basically accused Ryan and other Republicans of being un-American -- of "pitting children with autism or Down syndrome against millionaires." Ryan said he'd never seen a president give a speech that stooped to this level of partisanship, demagoguery and distortion. Obama's "poisoning the well."



Instead of tackling the spending issue head-on, Obama said the problem is that the rich don't pay enough. And, I kid you not, he suggested setting up another bogus commission.



As Ryan pointed out, this is not a tax problem; Americans, especially the wealthy, are taxed enough. The top 1 percent of earners pay about 38 percent, and the top 10 percent almost 70 percent. Hiking their taxes would decrease, not increase, revenues.



Just as he did with the health care summit, Obama lured the Republicans to this meeting with overtures of bipartisanship, reconciliation and compromise. But as Ryan related, Obama didn't even offer to meet Republicans halfway. He sneered at them in full campaign mode, defiantly promising more of his failed, reckless solutions.



He offered not the slightest acknowledgment that his policies have contributed to this crisis. Rather than concede that we can't continue on this destructive path, he lectured us on how we must continue on this path.



The America of Obama's dreams is not the one of self-reliance and entrepreneurship to which he paid phony lip service at the beginning of his speech. It is an America in which the government, rather than the private sector, creates wealth and leads ignorant, helpless people by the nose from cradle to grave, from preschool to the academy, with the caveat that if they succeed too much, they will make themselves enemies of the state and targets for punitive action. Obama's new American dream is an American nightmare.



Just as Obama refused to hear the American people on his dastardly Obamacare and insisted that they "take another look" at his plan -- a 55th look, to be precise -- he is now insisting that we continue to bankrupt America, because he refuses to abandon his Marxist determination to confiscate and redistribute private property and consummate his grandiose vision of transforming America from a land of equal opportunity to one of equal outcomes -- depressed outcomes.



He is an incorrigible, militant statist who will not stop of his own volition, so he must be defeated. If this latest performance doesn't awaken the lingering Obama apologists to the full extent of his aversion to solving America's problems, nothing will, and they must be defeated, too.

















Tags: Barack Obama , Budget and Government , Budget









David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh, brother of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, is an expert in law and politics and author of new book Crimes Against Liberty, the definitive chronicle of Barack Obama's devastating term in office so far.

Budget Battle, Budget Prattle

From Town Hall:




Jonah Goldberg



Budget Battle, Budget Prattle

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I cannot remember a more depressing week in Washington.



The Republicans boasted a heroic accomplishment: slashing $38.5 billion from the budget, purportedly the largest cuts in history.



But the cake was made from sawdust.



Strip away the gimmicks and shine a light on the shadows, and it turns out the real cuts amounted to $352 million, or less than 1 percent of what was promised.



America borrows $4 billion a day. So we likely borrowed more than we cut in the amount of time the GOP leadership spent bragging about its "victory."



It is a dismal, dreary, mope-inducing performance that makes one wonder what the point of the 2010 elections were.



If this was the best deal possible, fine. Republicans control only one house of Congress, and you can only achieve what is achievable. But they should have said so, admitted it frankly, and sworn to do better. Instead, the leadership touted their salt cracker of a budget cut as a feast, causing many to doubt they really grasp what their own voters want.



But as depressing as the Republicans' performance was, at least they're fighting for the right cause, their sails pointed in the right direction.



What can be said of President Obama's speech this week?



Vice President Joe Biden reportedly fell asleep during the president's address. It would speak better of the man if he closed his eyes not out of weariness but as part of a prolonged wince as he listened to his boss spew a farrago of distortions, self-righteous non sequiturs and ideological fatwas in the cause of extending his presidency at the expense of both the country and his honor.



Just two months ago, Obama introduced a $3.73 trillion budget that did nothing to address America's long-term fiscal problems and added $1.6 trillion in debt (an amount roughly equal to Bill Clinton's annual budgets). It was a great and glorious punt, a rhetorical can-kicking of historic proportions. But now the president throws his budget away, concedes the scope of our fiscal wound and then proposes applying a quack's poultice to heal it.



Entitlements, he admits, are gobbling up the budget; they must be "on the table." But even as he puts the plates on the table with one hand, he removes them with the other, insisting his cooks can save the meal with price controls and rationing.



And if that doesn't work, 12 years and three presidential terms from now, a series of fictional "failsafes" will kick in and some magical commission will genie-blink even more fictional cuts.



Obama prefers this to the Republican approach, which would introduce market forces into health care in order to save a calcified system from collapsing under the weight of state controls. Indeed, he couldn't even acknowledge this is the intent of Republican plan, preferring instead to recycle ancient barbs and insults about conservative cruelty and class warfare.



In a speech billed as being full of specifics, it had precious few save the president's passionate desire to raise taxes on "the wealthy." Rhetorically, Obama defines the "rich" as millionaires like himself or billionaires like Warren Buffet. But in reality he sets his sights considerably lower: households (and small businesses) that make more than $250,000 a year.



As for shared sacrifice, it is hard to find any in his proposal. Six out of 10 U.S. households receive more from the government than they pay in taxes. If "shared sacrifice" is the standing order of the day, where is theirs? The president suggests that repealing Bush's tax cuts will save the day. But the vast bulk of those cuts go to people making less than $250,000 a year. The president wants to keep those cuts as his idea while talking about shared sacrifice. Meanwhile, as The Wall Street Journal notes, if you taxed everyone who makes over $100,000 at a rate of 100 percent, you still wouldn't raise enough to balance president Obama's budget, never mind pay off any debt.



The only good news to come from all of this is that the battle is now joined. The president has staked his banner in the soil of reactionary liberalism. Good. By setting his fortifications so far to the left of the middle ground, he gives the forces of reform room to advance far.



The rank and file are ready for battle, with the tea parties at the forefront. The only question is whether the GOP's generals have the stomach for the fight. And that question raises as much dread as hope.















Tags: Congress , Budget and Government , Deficit , Republicans , Budget Deal









Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online.

Political Cartoons

From Town Hall:

Political Cartoons by Robert Ariail


Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

Read Before You Vote

From The Heritage Foundation:


Read Before You Vote




A budget agreement that fell short in dollars but was advertised as "the largest spending cut in history" is being challenged by new reports that the old ways of Washington have yet to be overcome. News outlets such as The Washington Post, Fox News and the Associated Press suggest "creative accounting" may have been used to get to the figure of $38.5 billion in cuts. We're still pouring through the numbers, but this is a good time to remind the public that Congress needs to do the opposite of what former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) recommended last year when she said "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."



The National Journal reports: "…the final cuts in the deal are advertised as $38.5 billion less than was appropriated in 2010, but after removing rescissions, cuts to reserve funds, and reductions in mandatory spending programs, discretionary spending will be reduced only by $14.7 billion."



Clearly, $14.7 billion cut from a $3.5 trillion budget is less than advertised and far less than expected. So far, our initial analysis has found at least $12.2 billion and as much as $20.6 billion in cuts in the final agreement should be reviewed thoroughly. These include $6.2 billion from the 2010 Census and it remains to be seen how much of that spending would have ended regardless. Then there’s $6 billion from rescissions of funds that were not likely to be spent anyway.



The AP reports: "The details of the agreement reached late Friday night just ahead of a deadline for a partial government shutdown reveal a lot of one-time savings and cuts that officially 'score' as cuts to pay for spending elsewhere, but often have little to no actual impact on the deficit."



Granted, there are real cuts in this package. But what is the long-term effect on the deficit as a result of this compromise? Members of Congress must take the appropriate time to review the budget before passing it. House leaders promised 72 hours of public review time on legislation. The public should take the time to review the nature of the cuts carefully.



The House appropriately debated their initial package of $61 billion in cuts at great length, in public and with a great deal of transparency. But a similar Senate debate never took place.



This could have all been avoided if the Senate had simply done its job and debated the budget rather than Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) punting that legislative responsibility to the White House. However, with a government shutdown looming as result of Reid's negligence, the American public was treated as bystanders rather than watchdogs.



In the end, there is no arguing that cuts were made and many ineffective government programs were terminated. We have still moved a great deal from the days of trillion dollar "stimulus" packages and the failed notion that government growth equates to economic growth. But if they are to achieve serious reform on behalf of the American people as they debate the 2012 budget and the debt limit, lawmakers must reject the business-as-usual practices of Washington.



To preserve credibility with the American people, Congress must clearly articulate what specific spending cuts do and don't do to address out-of-control spending and reduce our nation's deficits and debts. And Congress must act in a transparent fashion and deliver real cuts that deliver substantial savings over the long-term. Only then will the culture of our nation's capital indeed be transformed, and the real spending reforms that are necessary to put America's fiscal future on a sustainable path will be realized.

Pennsylvania Democrat Senator Bob Casey Will Vote Against De-Funding Planned Parenthood

From LifeNews.com and ADF:

Bob Casey Will Vote Against De-Funding Planned Parenthood




by Steven Ertelt
Washington, DC
LifeNews.com
4/12/11 1:09 PM




The office of Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, who claims to be a pro-life Democrat, has confirmed he will not vote for an amendment to de-fund the Planned Parenthood abortion business.



Speaker John Boehner forced pro-abortion Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid to allow a vote this week on an amendment that would strip Planned Parenthood of the Title X family planning funds it receives from the federal government. While pro-life organizations say such money should not be sent to a business that does abortions, Casey disagrees.



When Bob Casey defeated Rick Santorum for a Pennsylvania seat in the Senate, pro-life advocates hoped Casey would vote the same as his predecessor and his pro-life father, former Governor and stalwart pro-life Democrat Bob Casey, Sr. But, the younger Casey has consistently opposed pro-life efforts to divert federal tax money from the abortion business.



In September 2007, Casey voted for a pro-abortion amendment sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer seeking to overturn the Mexico City Policy, which prevents international family planning funds from going to Planned Parenthood and other groups that perform and promote abortions overseas. Casey voted for the Boxer amendment and his spokesman, Larry Smar claimed Casey was taking a consistent position opposing abortion funding but funding abortion groups.



“He does not support public funding of abortion,” Smar said at the time. “The amendment he voted for would not allow public funding of abortion, which is illegal” under another provision.



Conservative writer David Freddoso responded, “The Boxer amendment does not put money directly into grants for providing abortions, but it funds groups that perform and refer them. Since money is fungible — that is, it can be used for anything — there is really no difference. That is why this amendment was so controversial, and why other pro-life senators … voted against it, and have voted against it in all of its many incarnations over the years.”



Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for National Right to Life, told LifeNews.com then: “Before the adoption of the Mexico City Policy, the U.S. government was the major funder of organizations that campaigned to legalize abortion in Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere,” he said. “If the Boxer Amendment, which Sen. Casey regrettably supported, was enacted, it would force the removal of family planning funds from private organizations that stick to non-abortive methods, in order to give those funds to organizations that are committed to the promotion of abortion.”



The last time senators voted on Planned Parenthood funding, they rejected the Vitter amendment on a 52-41 vote in October 2007. Casey voted against the amendment along with Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who also considered himself pro-life.



Jordan Sekulow, of the ACLJ, says the vote on Planned Parenthood funding in the Senate may show how pro-life Democrats are not really pro-life after all.



“Although the last-minute budget deal that lawmakers agreed to on Friday did not defund Planned Parenthood, it did guarantee that an up-or-down vote on whether to defund the abortion provider will be held in the near future. That’s a vote that three self-proclaimed “pro-life” Senate Democrats must be dreading,” he said. “Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) claim to be strongly pro-life. All three are up for reelection in 2012 and will have to take a very public stance on the defunding of Planned Parenthood. This single vote has the potential to seriously haunt their future campaigns.”



“A vote in favor of continued Planned Parenthood funding will be an effective campaign ad for these senators’ opponents,” he continued. “Of course, these wannabe pro-lifers have already lost credibility with the grassroots because of their varying degrees of support for Obamacare. All three had a chance to vote against funding the pro-abortion health care law, but none did. While it would be great to have these vulnerable Democrats vote yes on defunding the nation’s number one abortion provider, a no vote is a gift to their future Republican opponents. It is impossible to claim the pro-life mantle and simultaneously endorse the organization most responsible for promoting and executing the abortion industry’s agenda.”



Manchin, in particular, may face heat over his vote.



“Unlike Manchin’s pro-Obamacare vote, a vote not to defund Planned Parenthood cannot be explained away with some kind of “no other good options so I had to do this” talking point. The Senate’s soon-to-be scheduled vote is strictly about preventing Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds, not eliminating all federally sponsored family planning programs,” Sekulow said.



“After the vote, we will know if there is any space left for real pro-life Democrats in Washington, D.C.,” he concluded.



ACTION: Make your views known about Senator Casey’s vote by going to http://casey.senate.gov/contact

Political Cartoons

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Romney Announces Exploratory PAC

From Red State:

Romney Announces Exploratory PAC












Posted by Leon H. Wolf (Profile)



Monday, April 11th at 4:47PM EDT

41 Comments



Almost exactly five years after signing Romneycare into law, Mitt Romney has announced (via Twitter) that he is officially forming his exploratory PAC committee, which is the first official step towards an inevitable Presidential run. As a guy who reluctantly came around to supporting Romney in 2008, I cannot see how Mitt Romney expects to harness any of the anger over Obamacare which propelled Republicans to victory in 2010, given that he himself implemented a healthcare plan that is identical in all almost all its particulars. As the Boston Herald notes:





Like a form of Chinese water torture for Romney, the mandate will be front and center once again this week for every Bay State taxpayer as they struggle with the annual task of filing tax returns.



The first six pages of the instructional booklet for filing income taxes are dedicated to the mandated health insurance coverage requirements. That’s 18 percent of the booklet! By comparison, only one page explains the difficult task of calculating long- and short-term capital gains.



Even after plowing through the six pages on the 1099HC mandate, filers are warned in the “Major 2010 Tax Changes” section that fines have increased for failing to get health coverage.





At one point, Romney might have had an opportunity to argue that he tried to implement an individual mandate healthcare program, but regrettably it failed, and the whole country could hopefully learn from his mistake. His opportunity to do this with any credibility has come and gone. And now, as the 2012 election shapes up to be a referendum on the ill-conceived individual mandate of Obamacare, around comes Romney, a candidate who pushed an identical program into law in Massachusetts, asking GOP voters to give him the opportunity to take on Obama.



Romney would no doubt be a better President than Obama and I would happily pull the lever for him in November, but I fail to see the wisdom in nominating a candidate who is indistinguishable from his Democrat opponent on the largest issue of the day.

Obama: The Man And The Myth

From Town Hall:




Bill Murchison



Obama: The Man and the Myth

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So why (you ask, reasonably enough) does he bother? Doesn't President Obama know that the Republicans who wrung substantive budget cuts out of him last week aren't going to applaud this week when he calls for tax increases on "the rich" to help pay down the federal deficit? This ole dog, as we like to say in Texas, won't hunt: no way, no how.



Only after about a tenth of a second of concentrated thought do we understand what's going on. Two things essentially: PR and Democratic economics. The public relations aspect to Obama's big speech on Wednesday has back-to-back elements.



Element A is the ability it gives him to enter into sacrificial mode. As David Plouffe, his political adviser, explained it: "People like him, as he'll say, who've been very fortunate in life, have the ability to pay a little bit more." Part B is the chance to look spiffy in going after fellow plutocrats who don't -- yet -- see the need to "pay a little bit more."



If they did see it, they'd understand that this is what many Democrats believe and how they talk. Every country has its redistributionist party. The Democrats are ours. They earnestly believe that half the world's problems would be solved by Robin Hood-ism -- lifting the purses of the rich and scattering the contents around.



There isn't the least surprise in Plouffe's tipping us that his boss's economic message Wednesday will include proposals for tax hikes. (What kind we'll just have to find out, inasmuch as the package is being thrown together on a crash basis -- unlike Rep. Paul Ryan's, which took months to perfect.) The Republican House -- whose leaders kept the government "open" by city-slicking or overawing Democratic budget negotiators -- isn't going to raise taxes during a recession. Obama knows that as well as he knows the numbers behind his book royalties.



What's his game, then? Well, to beat up on the GOP as -- a familiar trope -- the party of encrusted wealth, eager, as fellow Democrat Harry Reid so eloquently put it prior to the budget deal, to throw seniors and poor people under the bus.



But beyond that? And beyond the generalized call he intends to issue for responsible cuts in spending? I point to one small straw fluttering in the wind: namely, Paul Krugman's April 11 column in The New York Times. Krugman, the quintessential left-wing economist -- who actually leaves some fellow left-wing economists in the dust when it comes to advocacy -- has all but given up on Obama. Following the budget deal this week, Krugman called his ex-hero "this bland, timid guy who doesn't seem to stand for anything in particular."



Call up his column on the Times' opinion page and then read the comments. Ow! Fetch the bandages and smelling salts! The Times' influential left-of-center readership, which turned out en masse for Obama in 2008, suddenly can't stand him. Among the choicer epithets for their fallen hero: "out-and-out liar," "empty suit," "inexperienced Chicago pol," "worst Democratic president in a century."



And the deadliest of them all: "Republican."



The hope-and-change president, it seems, is a Republican: a less honest party member, alas, than the one he replaced in the White House, delicately described by one Krugman reader as "satanic." When, in the presidential standings, you drop behind Satan, it is advisable to watch your back. Or -- here was the meat of Krugman's complaint -- get a philosophy and act on it.



Twenty-seven months into the era of Hope and Change, the perception grows and spreads, like one of those grass fires ravaging the Southwest, that Hope and Change's chief advocate lacks goals and commitments; that he's not even a liberal, just a big talker.



No more than they take a Paul Krugman column as dispositive should Republicans view the remarks of Krugman's fans that way. It does help to reflect that a certain perception concerning Obama's leadership is catching fire, for reasons resembling those underlying the call for tax increases: reasons feather-light, insubstantial, calculated as much for sound as for meaning.

















Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is a senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.



GOP Didn't Win Budget Battle, Silver Lining: Neither Did Democrats

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David Limbaugh



GOP Didn't Win Budget Battle; Silver Lining: Neither Did Dems

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The Republicans did not win this budget fight, but the cuts they were able to extract illustrate, ironically, that Democrats are finally on the defensive. Scorekeeping aside, we must build on this non-victory because it was also a Democratic retreat.



Last week, I argued that the GOP should not cave on the budget negotiations for many reasons, including that today is not 1995-96. Things are so much different now, especially because of the existential threat to the republic that the exploding national debt represents.



Not surprisingly, my position didn't prevail. The Republicans reneged on their promise to cut $100 billion (or the so-called pro rata equivalent of that, $61 billion) for the remainder of the fiscal year.



They caved because they apparently bought into the conventional wisdom that a government shutdown would be blamed on mean-spirited Republicans. Folks, if that's true, then why did the Democrats, who are in delusional denial about the debt crisis, agree to $38.5 billion in cuts?



If Democrats were as cocksure that the public would blame the GOP for a shutdown and punish its members accordingly, then why didn't they just avoid infuriating their base and hold fast at $6.2 billion in cuts or whatever farcical number they had proposed?



The answer is that they got pummeled in the November elections, and the public mood is overwhelmingly inclined toward getting this debt crisis under control. What Democrats would not compromise on, which illustrates just how much their party has degenerated, was the public funding of Planned Parenthood. That was nonnegotiable because, just as with unions, they'll never cut off funds to a group that in turn funds them.



So though I'm not happy about the result, there is a silver lining, and I hope Republicans will recognize it and build on it rather than glean the wrong lessons from the just-ended budget fight.



The correct lessons are: Democrats are on the defensive, and they know it, so the GOP must use its leverage wisely. We will not reverse our national debt crisis through bipartisan compromise, because half-measures won't do and half-measures, nay, quarter-measures are the most we can ever expect to squeeze out of the Democrats. The half-measure resolution of the just-ended budget skirmish is an example. If we think Democrats got nasty this time, just imagine what they'll say about meaningful entitlement reform.



It's true that the real battle will be over the long-term budget proposals -- Paul Ryan's vs. the Democrats'. But unless our side enters this war intending to defeat the demagogues rather than split the baby in half, we might as well start preparing for European-style austerity.



What do I mean that Democrats aren't serious and won't approach budget cutting in good faith? Well, after spending us into the occult and presenting a sham 10-year budget, Obama went AWOL during the budget negotiations. He has been cynically uninterested and dismissive about entitlement reform. Yet now we read that he is going to unveil his own plan for debt reduction this week.



But wait; he already did that, as I mentioned, with his 10-year budget, which consisted of bankrupting trillion-dollar-a-year deficits as far as the eye could see -- all while telling us he would not be adding a single penny to the national debt.



The fact that he's presenting a new plan already proves he wasn't serious about the first one. It also further demonstrates that he and his party know they have deep credibility problems on fiscal issues. In Monday's Rasmussen tracking poll, Obama's presidential approval index was minus 20 percent.



So Republicans had better be prepared to take the gloves off and point out just how unserious Obama is and how ineffective his plan would be. They will shoot themselves in the foot if they continue to treat Obama as if he were approaching this problem in good faith and in pursuit of some kumbaya compromise.



Obama's plan will not be serious in its approach to entitlement reform; it will be more smoke and mirrors on top of what he's already presented (which was nothing), and it will most likely involve tax hikes.



The problem with that is that following entitlements, the next biggest driver of our deficits is our lethargic economy, which is gasping for breath under the oppressive weight of an ever-expanding public sector, onerous taxes and crippling regulations.



Obama is congenitally predisposed against agreeing to the types of pro-growth policies that will have to accompany real entitlement reform if we are to reverse our debt picture.



So even if the GOP lost this budget battle, the Democrats didn't win it, either, which should embolden the GOP to fight harder in the war ahead. If it loses that war, it must go down fighting on principle; otherwise it reduces its chances of winning in 2012 -- the biggest showdown of all.

















David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh, brother of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, is an expert in law and politics and author of new book Crimes Against Liberty, the definitive chronicle of Barack Obama's devastating term in office so far.



©Creators Syndicate

The Grand Re-Positioning

From Town Hall:




Michael Gerson



The Grand Repositioning

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WASHINGTON -- Intentional or not, it sizzled with symbolism that President Obama announced his re-election campaign the same day his administration threw in the towel on the closing of Guantanamo Bay. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four others would be tried by a military tribunal at the prison Obama once described as a violation of "core constitutional values." A central pledge of one campaign was abandoned to kick off the next.



This reversal was soon followed by a budget agreement that Obama described as the "biggest annual spending cut in history" -- leaving his progressive base wounded and abandoned on the budget battlefield. The man that liberals elected to complete the work of Lyndon Johnson had suddenly adopted the idiom of Ronald Reagan.



These are the clearest indications yet of the way that Obama intends to run for re-election. The grand repositioning has begun -- with one notable exception. Having tilted toward the center on foreign policy and economic issues, Obama has sent a different signal on cultural ones. He has signed legislation repealing "don't ask, don't tell," given up on defending the Defense of Marriage Act and talked of new gun control laws. Republicans have sometimes been guilty of appeasing their base with winks and nods on cultural controversies. Though doubtlessly sincere in his views, Obama is employing the same approach.



The overall strategy of projecting a centrist pragmatism is probably a good one. Though Obama has seen some recent erosion in support among African-Americans and Hispanics, his approval among liberals is steady in the 70s. At a comparable point in his presidency, Bill Clinton's liberal support was in the mid-60s. Even as the professional left registers feeble protests to Obama's ideological evolution, nothing seems to shake the faith of progressive voters. They can be safely taken for granted.



In contrast, Obama's approval among independents has dropped 23 points since he took office. Democrats lost this group by a 56-to-37 margin in November. There is no re-election without reversing this trend.



But can Obama's centrist transformation succeed? There are serious obstacles.



Obama's budget record is so ugly it will not be improved with cosmetics. Having accumulated nearly $3 trillion in debt during his first two years -- having proposed a budget that adds $9.5 trillion in debt over the next 10 -- Obama will require a dramatic policy shift to change a durable impression of profligacy. To transform he must surprise. His budget speech this week is intended to begin that process. As of now, however, Obama does not control the debate. Rep. Paul Ryan's 2012 budget has drawn a political line. Those who provide a comparable alternative to Ryan are serious. Those who merely criticize are not. Traditional Democratic proposals for tax increases, coupled with marginal reductions in Medicare and Medicaid, may shore up certain political constituencies. But this approach is not likely to change Obama's fiscal image.



As Keith Hennessey, a Stanford professor and former economic adviser to George W. Bush, points out, the challenge Obama now faces is far greater than the one Clinton confronted. "The budget deficit and government spending are both much larger today than in 1995. Medicare and Medicaid are a larger share of the budget now. And unless the president proposes huge new taxes increases like a VAT (unlikely) or Medicare and Medicaid savings that match or exceed Chairman Ryan's (no way) the president's resultant deficit path will still look worse than Ryan's."



On foreign policy, Obama has made a series of tough choices -- on the Afghan surge, the conduct of the war on terror, the intervention in Libya -- without gaining a reputation for decisiveness. This is mainly because his decisions resulted from processes featuring open staff conflict and presidential hesitation. In the case of Libya, Obama acted only when regime forces were on the outskirts of Benghazi instead of when rebel forces were on the outskirts of Tripoli -- creating a protracted foreign policy problem in the process. In one poll earlier this month, just 37 percent of Americans gave Obama a good or excellent rating on his handling of national security.



Presidential races are won by exciting a party's base while appealing to the middle -- always a tap dance on a tightrope. In 2008, Obama could leave a vague but reassuring impression of centrism in a campaign light on specifics. It is a harder task with a record to carry.

















Michael Gerson

Michael Gerson writes a twice-weekly column for The Post on issues that include politics, global health, development, religion and foreign policy. Michael Gerson is the author of the book "Heroic Conservatism" and a contributor to Newsweek magazine.



Finally, A Socialist Budget

From Town Hall:




John Ransom



Finally, A Socialist Budget

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Last week, The Weekly Standard pointed out a hilarious, yet wholly sad correction in the New York Times' story of March 30th about Obama's new energy policy. Obama, as you know, laid out a “new” energy policy in a speech at Georgetown University.



Turns out, it wasn’t so new.



The Times wrote:





This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:



Correction: March 30, 2011



A previous version of this article misstated how many of the president's proposals to reduce the country's reliance on imported oil were new in his speech on Wednesday. None of them were, not one of them. [Emphasis added]



I have no idea how many new ideas the Times first credited to Obama, but I'm certainly glad that even the New York Times is starting to understand that Obama is the guy who we said he was.



On the eve of the budget speech that CNN hopes will be a defining moment in the Obama presidency- gosh, let’s hope not- we already know that Obama’s speech will contain nothing new.



“If the rich were taxed at the same rates they were half a century ago,” said Obama senior advisor David Plouffe making the weekend TV circuit, “they’d be paying in over $350 billion more this year alone, which translates into trillions over the next decade. That’s enough to accomplish everything the nation needs while also reducing future deficits.”



Yes: That’s all the administration has.



Blame the rich.



It’s an old, tired game that doesn’t work. We proved that in the late 1960s and 1970s.



So why stop there? Maybe Obama can resurrect ideas that didn’t work in the first half of the 20th century too?



Rep. Jan Shakowsky, (D-IL), the most far left member of Congress, has been walking point for just such a “tax-the-rich” bill as Obama will lay out on Wednesday. She calls it the “Fairness in Taxation Act.”



Schakowsky isn’t just Orwellian, either. She is a real honest to goodness socialist- not the closet variety like Obama. She was offended by the bailout of big-time capitalists and yearned for a simpler time when wealth was just redistributed.



Schakowsy's ties to socialism go back a ways.



Schakowsky gave the keynote speech at a 2004 dinner held by the Democrat Socialists of America (DSA). Prior to that, in 2000 she received the Eugene Debs award from the DSA, honoring the memory of Debs in “her dedication to the fight for a just society.”



For the uninitiated, Eugene Debs (1855-1926) was and remains America’s most famous socialist. He ran for president under the socialist ticket four times between 1904 and 1920, the last run from prison.



Imagine the coincidence: Rep. Schakowsky’s husband also served time in a federal prison. Debs served for resistance to the draft; Schakowsky’s husband, Robert Creamer, served five months in 2006 for tax evasion and bank fraud. So obviously the Schakowsky household is very familiar with the tax code.



Good pick, Obama. Schakowsky’s just another friend from Chicago helping you Transform America.



It’s not surprising that after the GOP got a budget deal done for the balance of 2011 and Budget Chair Republican Paul Ryan introduced an ambitious attempt to reduce the national debt, that Obama would trot out his own version of fiscal “responsibility.”



Like his energy policy, however, his budget will not contain one new idea, not one.



"The least we can do is meet our responsibilities to produce a budget," Obama told a crowd in Pennsylvania last week. Unfortunately the president didn’t even do the least he could do. He hasn’t produced a real budget in three years, not one.



During the Democrat National Convention in Denver in 2008, the Republican National Committee, handed out cards calling Obama "a mile high and an inch deep," during their Not Ready tour.



The RNC might want to correct their original measurement.



Since his inauguration Obama hasn’t looked even an inch deep, not one.



Larry Kudlow: The Debt Bomb Is Coming Due

Mike Shedlock: Germany Warns on Greek Debt

Tom Purcell: Tax-Time Miseries

















John Ransom

John Ransom is the Finance Editor for Townhall Finance. You can follow him on twitter @bamransom

Monday, April 11, 2011

Changing The Culture Of Washington

From The Heritage Foundation:

Changing the Culture of Washington




This Congress was sent to Washington with a simple mandate from the American people: cut federal spending and get government under control. Friday night's budget compromise to avert a government shutdown embraced these principles, but also left plenty of work to be done. Congress has finally started cutting spending instead of running up the tab on future generations, and we hope the budget deal changed the culture of Washington. No longer should budgets be railroaded through Washington that increase spending and grow government. From here on out, the question should be: What can be cut?



One good thing to have come out of this process is that the debate has clearly shifted. Though the details of the compromise remain murky, what's clear is that the national mood is for cutting, and all the reformist ideas are coming from one side only. We'll see what President Obama has to say about reforming entitlements when he addresses the nation on Wednesday. But so far, Congressional Democrats have been unwilling to make serious efforts toward cutting spending or consider much needed reforms to an entitlements regime that has grown out of all proportions, consumes the lion's share of our federal budget and will ultimately consign America to second-class status. They refused all but the most minuscule reductions in the 2011 budget, and their response to Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wi.) ground-breaking 2012 budget has been demagoguery.



The liberal approach to the debate over the 2011 budget spoke volumes. Just last week, as a partial government shutdown loomed, liberal leaders pulled out every dirty trick in the book to protect their culture of spending. Liberal Members of Congress foolishly said Republicans were trying to "kill women" and end cancer screenings. The pitch of their tirade showed how desperate they were to maintain the status quo spending environment. It didn't work, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh.) was in the end able to deliver a compromise deal that amounted to the largest spending cut in history.



In what we can only hope is a harbinger of things to come, labor unions' power to protect the status quo was diminished as Speaker Boehner fought to allow inner-city children to safely receive a quality education. Restoring the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program was a great victory for parents in and outside of Washington who have all too often seen their needs fall second to the financial interests of union bosses. It also set the debate on future education funding to be measured in results, not federal dollars spent.



After taking care of this unfinished business from last year – for let's not forget that then Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) failed to pass a budget in 2010 – Speaker Boehner must now move on to much bigger battles over raising the debt limit and the 2012 budget.



In reality, even one of the biggest spending cuts in history is merely a drop in the bucket. A handful of days of deficit spending. A rounding error. But this should merely demonstrate how much there is left to accomplish. If the battle over such modest cuts can elicit the venom we saw from liberals this past week – imagine what is in store as we tackle the 2012 budget and the debt ceiling.



The 2012 budget debate will begin now. We cannot allow the same avoidance of responsibility to put us back into this situation next year. There will be important opportunities to cut spending and borrowing deeply and comprehensively, including real entitlement reform and limiting the size and scope of government. In this debate, liberals will look for these cuts to be brokered on the backs of our military. We must better resist those mistaken efforts.



America is still on a dangerous fiscal path. A cut of $38.5 billion will not change that. A larger one of $61 billion would not have changed that. Even one of $100 billion would not have changed that. The moral victories of the past are now merely small steps on the road to true Washington reform. The future fights over entitlement and budget reform will need to be measured in the trillions, not billions. And that debate begins today.



Political Cartoons

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Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Boehner Gave Up Too Much

From The American Thinker:

April 10, 2011


Boehner Gave Up Too Much

Lee Cary







I believe Boehner gave up too much. A TV pundit said that the Dems and Repubs "split the difference." Nonsense.





In a former occupation, I designed and taught a business negotiating skills class for the management training company I worked for then, and later wrote and sold a better class as an independent. Back then, in a Neanderthalish zero sum game, if I "drop anchor" at 100, and you drop at zero, and the final agreement is 38.5, we obviously didn't "split the difference." I lost. Particularly considering that, as you know, the federal debt jumped $54B while they were debating what turned out to be a lesser decrease in spending. Who's zoomin' who?





Boehner should have said, "We'll agree to a total decrease in spending equal to the additional debt we incurred while debating this issue. And, if you can't agree to that, let's shut down all but essential government functions - you decide what's essential - and the number we'll agree to will continue to rise as we continue to borrow more money. We won't be a party to bankrupting the nation. And that, gentlemen, is our final offer."





I believe that would have send a powerful and compelling message.





I see the whole exercise as essentially a coin toss before the big game starts. In this case, the coin landed on its edge. We the people lost, while the political parties tied. I don't see anything much good coming out of all this at the near end. Nothing, anyway, that will forestall some rendition of national bankrupcy.





My motto is: When the politicians and pundits from both political parties claim victory, the people lost. And when the politicians say the people ultimately won, I know for sure we lost.



Posted at 04:00 PM

Obama's Budget Plan This Week Will Include Health-Care Cuts For The Elderly

From Gateway Pundit and Michelle Malkin:


5:04 PM (6 hours ago)Told You So… Obama’s Budget Plan This Week Will Include Health Care Cuts for the Elderlyfrom Gateway Pundit by Jim Hoft

Sarah Palin was right.




 
(Michelle Malkin)




Obama’s budget plan this week will cut health care provisions for the elderly and the poor.

The Telegraph reported:



Barack Obama will this week propose cuts in health care provision for the elderly and the poor as he seeks to reach agreement with Republicans on bringing America’s record levels of debt under control.



Aides said that in a major speech on Wednesday the US president will lay out plans that will include reform of Medicare and Medicaid, the major subsidised health care schemes that are among the main causes of the country’s $14.25 trillion (£8.7 trillion) national debt.



“The president will be laying out his approach to long-term deficit reduction,” said David Plouffe, a senior adviser at the White House, adding that the president would call on both sides to compromise.



“If we are going to make progress the parties are going to have to come together to find common ground,” he said.



Mr Obama was last week forced into accepting $38.5 billion (£23.5 billion) in cuts demanded by Republicans for other types of spending in order to secure a last minute deal to keep the government running for the rest of the financial year.

From Gateway Pundit:


9:24 PM (1 hour ago)Planned Parenthood Spent More Than $1M to Elect Democrats in 2010from Gateway Pundit by Jim Hoft

It’s a good thing we’re funding them.

Planned Parenthood spent more than a million dollars last year to get democrats elected.

They’re still at it.




 
On March 25, the Planned Parenthood bus was in Madison, Wisconsin to protest against Republican Governor Scott Walker.




The Washington Examiner reported, via FOX Nation:



Here’s something to keep in mind as Democrats risk a government shutdown in order to preserve federal subsidies of Planned Parenthood. From the Center for Responsive Politics:



In 2010, Planned Parenthood and a California affiliate together spent more than $700,000 on federal lobbying efforts, a Center for Responsive Politics analysis of federal lobbying records finds. By comparison, all other organizations that primarily advocate for abortion rights collectively spent $247,280 on federal lobbying efforts during the same period, according to the Center’s research.



plannedparenthoodlobby.PNG
 
Planned Parenthood’s political influence efforts hardly stop at lobbying.




The organization’s political action committee, for example, donated more than $148,000 to federal candidates — almost all Democrats — during the 2010 election cycle. The PAC spent more than $443,000 overall.



Republicans voted to strip the abortion group from receiving $363 million in taxpayer funds.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Democrats' Tyranny Of The Minority

From The American Thinker:

March 24, 2011


Democrats' Tyranny of the Minority

By Peter Heck









Talk radio kingpin Rush Limbaugh has repeated for years his belief that as a political party, the Democrats feel entitled to power. When they are denied it by the results of an election, they react as though they are the victims of a grave injustice, thereby at liberty to engage in whatever tactic is necessary to retrieve what is rightfully theirs. Beginning with the Wisconsin walkout and now embodied in the temper tantrum of Indiana Democrats, the self-professed Doctor of Democracy has once again been proven right.





Statehouse walkouts are not without precedent. In fact, they are a reasonably common occurrence. But they are largely symbolic gestures -- an attempt to demonstrate the minority's outraged disapproval of the majority's agenda. Seldom do they go on for days, and until now, never have they been legitimate attempts to undermine the entire democratic process by grinding the operation of government to a halt.





Yet that is exactly what the Wisconsin Democrats attempted, and what their Indiana counterparts are still shamefully perpetrating. What is taking place in the Indiana Statehouse is far from a mere regional or petty statewide issue; it is a direct assault on the democratic process that deserves national attention and collective, bipartisan scorn. For while the Wisconsin constitution allowed the Republicans a procedural recourse to rectify the stalemate (something they employed when it became apparent the Democrats could not be lured back by compromise), Indiana Republicans have no such option.





For those who may be unaware, Indiana Statehouse Democrats staged a walkout a month ago to deny the large Republican majority the ability to enact legislation opposed by public and private union bosses - specifically right-to-work and public education reform laws. The Democrat caucus fled across state lines to Illinois (where else?), and have been holed up in a hotel demanding concession after concession to earn their return. But even after capitulating to their juvenile fit and pulling the right-to-work law off the table, Republican leaders have been unsuccessful in luring the Democrats back to work.





Indiana House Speaker, Republican Brian Bosma, acknowledged as much when he lamented, "We can't do the Madison shuffle that Wisconsin legislators were able to accomplish." The consequence of that reality? Given that Indiana has a part-time legislature, the stalemate will most likely cease only when the session adjourns and Governor Mitch Daniels calls the Assembly back into special session to pass a budget and new redistricting maps - the only items the legislature is required by law to pass. This special session may give Republicans some wiggle room, but the likelihood is that the Democrat temper-tantrum will have killed the passage of virtually every bill introduced this year.





There's a phrase for what is occurring in Indiana; it's called the "tyranny of the minority." In Federalist #10, James Madison warned against the tyranny of the majority by proposing that a republican form of representative democracy would best protect the rights of the minority. What he apparently didn't count on was that in an effort to appease their union masters, the minority would one day use those protections to obliterate the democratic process. And that is precisely what is unfolding.





It's telling that the phrase "tyranny of the minority" has been employed in recent years by Democrat apologists angry at the Republican Party's use of the filibuster to stall Democrat-sponsored legislation. Watching Republicans require a supermajority of 60 Senators to pass some of Barack Obama's most controversial policies (thereby slowing his left-wing revolution of government), Democrat consultant Peter Fenn thundered, "This is the tyranny of the minority...This acceptance of a supermajority to get anything done in America has gotten way out of hand...There is a place for a supermajority: impeachment, eviction of members, veto overrides, votes on treaties and constitutional amendments. But we should not have such requirements for the regular conduct of legislative business, especially at times like these, when action is required to move the country forward."





One must wonder where Mr. Fenn and his counterparts are now. After all, while both parties' overuse of the filibuster to obstruct legislation is a fair topic of conversation, it pales in comparison to the unseemly tactic of a group of lawmakers who hold representative democracy itself hostage by refusing to show up for work. Because while a filibuster is levied to obtain critical changes and adjustments to pending legislation, these walkouts are a brazen attempt to thwart the will of the people expressed in an election.





As Bosma explained, "We've offered a number of concessions on substitutive matters on issues of concern to the Democrats. What we have not agreed to do is to meet their demand to remove issues for the remainder of the legislative session in both chambers, which is their continued demand, that these issues just go away, really nullifying the election results of November 2."





And that's why reasonable and fair minded individuals from around the country and from both sides of the aisle should be outraged at this stunt. The dangerous precedent being set here is that whatever party loses the election should just flee the state to prevent the winners from passing any laws. This un-statesmanlike chicanery annihilates the very republican form of government our Constitution guarantees.





In his article, Fenn complained, "We have seen the rapid evolution of a nation that covets the concept of majority rule to one where the tyranny of the minority threatens to paralyze the country." Indeed it does. Nothing less than the democratic process is at stake. And ironically, it's the group of folks who euphemistically and now wholly inappropriately refer to themselves as the Democratic Party who have the gun to its head.





Peter is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana. Email peter@peterheck.com, visit www.peterheck.com, or like him on Facebook.

Obama Approval In Near Free-Fall

From The American Thinker;

March 30, 2011


Obama approval in near free fall

Rick Moran







This is quite extraordinary when you consider the president has committed American forces to a war in the Middle East. It is extremely rare for a president not to get a nice little bump in approval from the public as they instinctively back the president in a crisis.



But from poll to poll, Obama is seeing his numbers reach their nadir, or near bottom for his presidency.



First, Quinnipiac:





American voters disapprove 48 - 42 percent of the job President Barack Obama is doing and say 50 - 41 percent he does not deserve to be re-elected in 2012, both all-time lows, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This compares to a 46 - 46 percent job approval rating and a 45 - 47 percent split on the President's re-election in a March 3 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University. In a hypothetical 2012 matchup, President Obama gets 36 percent of the vote to 37 percent for an unnamed Republican challenger.



Democrats approve 80 - 13 percent of the job Obama is doing, but disapproval is 81 - 9 percent among Republicans and 50 - 39 percent among independent voters. Men disapprove 52 - 41 percent while women split 44 - 44 percent.



Voters oppose 47 - 41 percent America's involvement in Libya. In the survey concluded Monday evening as President Obama was addressing the nation about Libya, voters say 58 - 29 percent that he has not clearly stated U.S. goals for Libya.





For a president who basically lives or dies by the power of his rhetoric and speechifying to persuade voters, this is very bad news. He appears to have lost credibility on the most important issue of them all; war and peace.



Gallup shows that the public thinks Obama is something of a wimp:





Americans have grown increasingly less likely to view President Obama as a strong and decisive leader since he took office. Roughly half now believe this aptly describes, him compared with 60% a year ago and 73% in April 2009.



[...]



The decline in Obama's leadership rating stands in contrast to the stability in the trend for two other personal dimensions. Fifty-seven percent of Americans believe the president understand the problems Americans face in their daily lives, essentially unchanged from 56% in March 2010. And 51% of respondents believe Obama shares their values, similar to 48% last year. Both ratings are down from early 2009.



Altogether, Obama's ratings on being a strong and decisive leader are down a total of 21 percentage points since taking office, compared with a 15-point decline on understanding Americans' daily problems and a 9-point decline in sharing their values. Obama's overall job approval rating declined 16 points over the same time period.



I believe this reflects a continued worry about the economy and the future. Nothing much is happening with the economy - except housing values are still dropping like a stone , threatening a double dip recession and consumer spending is tanking again. Growth is anemic and we are cheering the fact that job growth was barely average last month.



Check back in late summer. If these numbers have not improved and if the economy continues to limp along - or dives back into recession - Democrats will begin to get extremely antsy about their standard bearer.





















Posted at 10:17 AM

Obama's "Let Them Eat Cake" Moment Deep-Sixed By Media

From The American Thinker;

April 07, 2011


Obama's 'Let them eat cake' moment deep sixed by media

Thomas Lifson







As gasoline prices soar, while domestic oil production struggles under regulatory and permitting burdens imposed by the Obama administration, the American public is suffering, and so are Obama's reelection prospects. The sad fact is that Obama wants high energy prices.







"Under my plan of cap and trade plan makes electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket"'; "coal powered plants, natural gas, you name it..whatever the plants were...they will have to retrofit their operations..that will cost money and they will have to pass those costs onto consumers"





In 2008, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar indicated he would still oppose a measure to open up offshore areas to new oil and natural gas drilling even if gasoline prices reached $10 a gallon.





Yesterday, speaking to a crowd in Pennsylvania, responding to a question about high gasoline prices, the mask slipped, and Obama revealed how out of touch and arrogant he is.:







"If you're complaining about the price of gas and you're only getting 8 miles a gallon, you know," Obama said laughingly. "You might want to think about a trade-in."





This is truly a "let them eat cake" moment. People struggling to pay for gasoline rarely have the resources to buy a new car. Ed Morrissey of Hot Air points out that "the last time anyone drove an 8-MPG vehicle that didn't include a half-track was in the mid-1970s." When do suppose the last time was that Obama filled the tank on his own car?





The media, hwoever, are covering up this stunning comment by Obama. Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit published a screen shot of the original AP story on the event, which included the "let them eat cake" comment.











Soon, however, the editors at AP realized their man was not looking good here, and they cut the reference, with the result that few newspapers and other media picked up on it. Ed Morrissey:







A search for "If you're complaining about the price of gas and you're only getting 8 miles a gallon" turned up 26 hits last night at 7:15 pm ET, most of them Associated Press links or links to their affiliates. In each of those, the quote was removed in later editing.





Despite his media brigade covering for him, Obama's high energy/low employment policies are hurting poor people and minorities the most, and black and Hispanic approval levels for him are falling.



Hat tip: Ed Lasky



Posted at 12:20 PM

The Democrats' Shameful Rhetoric

From The American Thinker:

April 08, 2011


The Democrats' Shameful Rhetoric

By Jeffrey Folks









There are many ways to refute an argument. The proper way to do so is with ideas, with rational argument, and with facts. If you are considering a reduction of the federal budget by $61 billion, don't resort to scare tactics. Check out what happened the last time budgets were cut toward the end of a recession -- for example, during the early years of the Reagan administration. In that case, budgetary restraint preceded two decades of unprecedented economic expansion.





It's also reasonable to make deductions from fundamental principles. Conservatives who believe in the right of self-defense have truth on their side. Instinctively, every human being knows that one has the right to self-defense when attacked. From that truth one can deduce that one has a right as well to the means of self-defense.





For the left in recent years, none of these legitimate forms of argument have been an option. This is because the left is fundamentally lacking in ideas. The "truths" that the left relies on are intellectually specious. These fraudulent ideas include the notion that all human beings have a right to an equal share of society's wealth; that government exists to control the lives of its citizens and to redistribute wealth; and that these principles are universal and so must involve the redistribution of wealth from rich nations to poor ones.





None of these truths are self-evident to anyone except ideologues on the left. Most human beings immediately recognize that egalitarianism and centralized state control are bad ideas. For this reason, it is impossible for Marxists to engage in rational argument based on ideas: they resort instead to crude forms of abuse.





When Bill Clinton turned to the audience in his 1992 town-hall debate with George H. W. Bush and mockingly said, "He just doesn't get it," that was not a form of rational debate. It was mockery. Exactly what was meant by Clinton's statement is unclear. What, exactly, was it that Bush did not get? Clinton either could not or would not say. But the sneering derision of his remark gained him points, at least with the Democratic base. They too were convinced that George Bush, Sr. did not get it.





Mockery has always been a staple of playground disputation. If you can't beat your opponent with ideas, mock him. That particular technique has been a staple of leftist rhetoric as well for the last 20 years. It was popular not just with Bill and Hillary Clinton but with the young staffers who accompanied them to the White House, and it's just as popular today.





The latest wrinkle in this disgraceful history of rhetorical abuse is Obama's practice of labeling his opponents "children." Directing his remarks especially to Speaker Boehner, the President implored Congress to "act like grown-ups."





"We don't have time for games," said the President, even as he rejected the GOP proposals out of hand. This from the man who has increased the national debt by $4.5 trillion.





Pretending that he is the adult in the matter and that Congress is a kindergarten full of screaming brats (but that only the Republicans are at fault) may seem like a good tactic to those directing Obama's reelection effort. But it does nothing to lead the discussion in a useful direction. Like all forms of derision, it is a way to avoid discussion altogether. It is the President's way of saying he has no intention of advancing any kind of ideas on the budget. As Obama made clear in his 2012 budget proposal, his idea is to raise the national debt to $41 trillion by 2030, thus putting us in the same position as Greece, Ireland, and Portugal, but with no one to bail us out.





Obama may think that calling the opposition "children" is a good way to remain above the fray, but this irresponsible ploy doesn't do the country any good. It's the same thing as calling the tea party "extremists," as Sen. Chuck Schumer did last week (or suggesting they were fascists as Nancy Pelosi was doing a year ago). Likewise, labeling your opponent the "Party of No" says nothing about your own party and its agenda.





Again, that is because Democrats don't want to talk about their agenda. How can you come out and say, "We want to create a socialist welfare state in America" or "We want to raise taxes to the point that the economy stagnates and American businesses are driven overseas"? How about, "We want to turn the country over to union bosses who will run every company into bankruptcy the way they did GM and Chrysler"? Those aren't exactly ideas to campaign on. That's why all the Democrats have left is mockery.





The rhetoric of derision is already filling the airwaves in response to Paul Ryan's thoughtful "Path to Prosperity" budget proposal. Repeating the comments of USAID administrator Rajiv Shah, Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland denounced the Ryan budget proposal as a killer of children and an assault on the elderly to boot. That argument is a version of the playground staple, "I'm not stupid, you are." ("I don't starve kids and kick the elderly out of their homes, you do!")





Most conservatives don't resort to this sort of rhetoric for the reason that they have not had to. Conservative thinking proceeds from a clear and undeniable truth: the truth that all human beings have a right "to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."





Because conservative thought never departs from this fundamental truth, it is never lacking in strong ideas. The idea that citizens have a right to live as they wish, and speak as they wish, without the interference of government is a truth that cannot be refuted. The notion that those who labor should be allowed to keep their income and spend it as they wish is a compelling idea. The idea that if we are to live in peace, we must be willing to defend ourselves against our enemies in undeniable.





Armed with these ideas, conservatives will win in every free and open debate. The left will continue to mock and deride every reform that conservatives propose, but they will only convince those who have a vested interest in seeing socialism prevail. As for conservatives, it is enough to know that "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is on our side. That phrase beats mockery and derision every time.





Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and article on American culture.