Politics lovers viewed the fiscal cliff negotiations in strategic and tactical terms.
Some time around 9PM Mountain on New Year's Eve, I confess I lost interest. I knew they would do what they would, that I wouldn't likely like it, and that it would not really solve anything. I didn't dream that we would get a full $0.02439024390243902439024390243902 in spending cuts for every dollar of tax increases, but there you have it.
And yet, I close the day in good cheer. The S&P 500 is up 36.23 (The Nazz almost a hundred!). American business will put up with all kinds of bad $%&*. When given the opportunity, there are more Dagny Taggarts than John Galts.
And, hey, there are now going to be more Famous Dave's!
"I've had four calls today from existing franchisees wanting to expand," said Dan DiZio, chief executive of Philly Pretzel Factory, a chain of 125 pretzel shops. "Uncertainty is a killer in any business and the pretzel business is not exempt."
John Gilbert, chief executive of Famous Dave's of America DAVE +6.20%, a chain of 185 barbecue restaurants, said consumers were holding back from dining out as they waited to see whether and how much their taxes would increase. "People have to eat but not at restaurants," he said. "We live and die by same-store sales and guest counts and when customers don't know what to plan for, it has a huge impact on businesses like ours."
I see very little likelihood that a cataclysm would have -- in this political environment -- lead to better policy and more liberty. I toast the 112th for putting just enough oil in the engine to make it to Jan 20.
Fume at Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell all you want, but here's the problem: The chance to gain leverage in these negotiations was on Election Day, and the GOP came up with bubkes that day. Sequestration and the expiration of all of the Bush tax cuts presented an awful status quo to begin with, and there was really no better alternative that would get A) passed in a Senate controlled by Harry Reid and B) signed by President Obama. They don't want what we want, and we don't want what they want. And time was on their side in several ways, not least of which was that as of noon Thursday, a new Congress, with even more Democrats, is sworn into office. -- Jim Geraghty
S. 3412 is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad bill. I hate S. 3412 because it allows taxes to increase by $80ish B (that's a guess) next year. I hate that it raises revenues by increasing marginal rates rather than through tax reform-induced economic growth and by eliminating or scaling back tax deductions. I hate that it raises taxes on successful small business owners. I hate that it raises capital gains and dividend taxes. I hate that it creates more uncertainty and another cliff at the end of 2013. I hate that it doesn’t contain any spending cuts or entitlement reforms.
Other than that, Keith? Yeah -- I like it too!
If you share my policy views but think the President is not bluffing, and if you think that America cannot, under any circumstances, risk a no-bill scenario, then S. 3412 is your Option C. It does exactly what President Obama has been calling on Congress to do, it allows tax rates to increase on the rich. It just doesn’t also do other things that we know he wants to do, but which he has not been making the centerpiece of his kick-Republicans-around PR campaign.
I encourage you to read the whole piece. I think Keith Hennessey has found the parliamentary maneuver to vote "Present" and pass a Democratic bill. He does not mention sitting back and making popcorn.
This answers commenter AndyN's question as well if I read it right. And, unlike Hennessey, I'm no enemy of the sequester -- Jeeburz it cuts spending! Oh noes, not that!!!
It's certainly true that Republicans can't stop a tax rate increase if Mr. Obama is determined to make it happen. The Bush-era rates automatically go up on January 1, and the House can't extend them alone.
But Mr. Obama also can't get what he wants without House Republicans. He needs their votes to extend current rates for lower-income taxpayers, as well as to prevent the Alternative Minimum Tax from hitting 27 million more taxpayers. Most of those new AMT taxpayers live in high-tax Democratic states. Meanwhile, the death tax rate reverts to 55% and a $1 million exemption. Senate Democrats running for re-election in 2014 won't want that on their resume.
For all of his bluster about blaming Republicans, Mr. Obama also knows a budget failure would do enormous harm to his chances of second-term success. It would guarantee at least two more years of trench budget warfare and poison the chances of immigration or other reform. Another recession would be on his watch, not on George W. Bush's.
The point is that Republicans have more leverage than they imagine, and they ought to act like it. A good start would be for the House to pass a bill this week extending all the tax rates for six months and fixing the defense spending cuts coming in January. Then ask Senate Democrats to pass their own bill, and they can negotiate with the President under regular Congressional order.
I'm still in the Brave Sir Robin camp myself -- just being fair and balanced
CNSNews.com -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) told a recent gathering of the Women's Political Committee that the spirits of suffragists Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul spoke to her at the White House.
Pelosi said she heard them say: "At last we have a seat at the table".
If they tell you to hurt Leader Reid, Madame Speaker...oh, never mind.
Senator Reid has still not disproven the allegations of Pederasty against him! Why, if somebody wanted to be an author at ThreeSources, and had accusations of pederasty, he would not be approved. I see no reason not to expect as much from the US Senate Majority Leader...
A sagacious commenter once remarked that you cannot go wrong with a Firefly reference. Maybe some other blog, I don't know...
But on the "Unhappy Anniversary" of Dodd-Frank, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (HOSS - TX) recounts his days on the right but losing side of this atrocious bill. The whole WSJ Guest Editorial is superb, but this part is worthy of "Quote of the Day:"
Having incorrectly diagnosed the problem, Dodd-Frank's authors wrote 400 new regulations. These generally fall into one of two categories: those that create uncertainty and those that create economic harm.
I have admonished a certain blog brother that appraising politicians -- like training a dog -- should be done on the most recent event. Yes, I could point out that Senator Mark Udall has raised taxes and opposed tax cuts over his years as my Congressman and my Senator.
Or I could applaud him for a supply-side beer tax cut.
"Beer is an important part of our economy. With the excise tax lowered, capital will increase and we can invest that back into the companies," he said.
Under Udall's proposed Brewers Excise and Economic Relief Act of 2009, excise tax on a barrel of beer would drop from $18 per barrel to $9 per barrel, and from $7 to $3.50 per barrel for smaller producers.
If only that same effect of increased capital and investment worked for other industries.
Senator Bernie Saunders, who insulates himself from a clever (?? - VT) appellation by being an avowed Socialist, is pretty upset mind you about this Ricardian Economics thingy!
This was posted on Facebook by a very nice new grandmother woman I work with and with whom I don't wish to pick a fight.
What are you gonna do? Gramma said "it makes me sick to my stomach" and I am confident she doesn't mean the demagoguery and Sen. Saunders's failure to appreciate competitive advantage.
UPDATE: Heh. Professor "White Power Toothbrush" Reynolds piles on "to me the real issue is that they're terrible. They look like something from an SNL skit about America becoming a gay military dictatorship."
There is a certain Lady Gaga-ness about them . . .
Voting for Rand Paul's Amendment to disarm the Milk Police:
Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)
John Boozman (R-AR)
Jim Coburn (R-OK)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Jim DeMint (R-SC)
Mike Johanns (R-NE)
Ron Johnson (R-WI)
Mike Lee (R-UT)
Rand Paul (R-KY)
Jim Risch (R-ID)
John Thune (R-SD)
Pat Toomey (R-PA)
David Vitter (R-LA)
Roger Wicker (R-MS)
Cue the Washington Post's Ezra Klein, who is as good a pal as Kent Conrad will ever have in the press. He writes that the good senator (routinely described by one and all as a "budget hawk," "a deficit hawk," etc., despite his inability to, you know, produce a budget) wants to become more bipartisan. But those freaking GOP bastards really just want to run against any plan and any vote to raise taxes and spending: -- Nick Gillespie
Provide energy and jobs for his constituents? The nerve!
Baucus -- who wants to win another term back home in Montana in two years -- remains a fan of the pipeline, which would be built partly across his state.
If regular order is followed, his vote combined with those of all the Senate GOP negotiators would form a majority bloc to accept the House's Keystone language, which orders regulators to issue permits for the project.
And if that happens, and the compromise bill clears Congress in that form (which would be likely), the president would be pressured to veto the job-creating highway bill at an extraordinarily inopportune time.
James Pethokoukis points out that -- before Chairman Ryan endorsed Governor Romney -- Romney endorsed Ryan by taking so many of his ideas onboard.
For comparison purposes--and to show just how dramatically Ryan has shifted the GOP policy agenda--look at what GOP nominee John McCain was offering on Medicare reform in 2008. During his second debate with Barack Obama, McCain was asked how he would fix Medicare. His answer: "What we have to do with Medicare is have the smartest people in America come together, come up with recommendations, and then, like the base-closing commission idea we had, then we should have Congress vote up or down."
I can accept serious criticism of the 2012 GOP Budget and the Ryan Plan to cut entitlements. But Jeeeburz do Libertarians have a gift for making the perfect the enemy of the good.
And now they are dragging Tea Party GOPers into their trap -- which the WSJ Ed Page claims, looks an awful lot like Leader Pelosi's and President Obama's trap.
The GOP critics are wrong on the economics and politics. Mr. Ryan's plan may not balance the budget within 10 years, but that's the wrong policy guidepost. Mr. Obama can easily balance the budget faster--by raising taxes.
Mr. Ryan wants to avoid a tax increase and reform the tax code because he realizes that the budget will never balance over the long term without economic growth faster than today's 2% a year. By stressing budget balance over growth, Mr. Chocola and the tea-party critics are falling into Mr. Obama's deficit and tax trap.
The green eyeshade libs also fall for static scoring and an artificial sanctity for ten and twenty year projections. It will be impossible to pass something like the GOP budget in the 112th Congress, extremely difficult in the 113th. If the crowd who would most appreciate the direction loses interest, then we will get something very similar to the President's budget.
Anything else to add, Mister Gigot?
Mr. Ryan is thinking ahead of his critics by focusing on the two most important priorities: growth and reform. Without both, limited government will be nothing more than a tea party slogan and a balanced budget will be nothing more than a tax-increase trap.
Justice is its most beautiful as raiment to its ugliest claimant.
Heinous people are entitled to their rights; and when their rights are asserted, we -- the less obnoxious -- can feel more comfortable in the guarantee of ours. I love to live in a country whose highest court chose Phelps over Snyder. In that spirit, I am going to defend one of my least favorite Senators of all time: Ted Stevens (Graft - AK).
The WSJ Ed Page suggests that the famous "60th Vote" for ObamaCare was not Sen. Arlen Specter but rather Sen. Mark Begich, who defeated a Stevens incumbency hobbled by a politically-motivated prosecution.
These prosecutors, working in Justice's ironically named Public Integrity Section, trampled on Stevens's rights by ignoring the Brady rule, which requires prosecutors to share exculpatory evidence with the defense. The feds then won a conviction on ethics charges less than two weeks before Election Day in 2008.
Stevens, a Republican who had been highly popular in Alaska prior to the prosecution, lost a close race to Democratic challenger Mark Begich. Mr. Begich went on to become, yes, one of the 60 Senate votes for ObamaCare in 2009.
Within months of the election, as the federal abuses came to light, Stevens' conviction was set aside. But the election result, highly influenced by the bogus conviction, never was. As Judge Sullivan recently noted in explaining all the reasons that the report should be made public, the Stevens loss "tipped the balance of power in the United States Senate." And in favor of ObamaCare.
Hard to weep for a porker like Sen. Stevens, but we have to hold elections above that.
I linked to Senator Mark Udall's survey for Congressional priorities. The results are in:
Udall was my old Congressman in überliberal Boulder, and I first thought that this extremely balanced distribution represented CO-2. I've calmed down a little that it is the whole state. But having watched it go purple and then indigo -- I think this augers well for liberty.
It may be the 27th, but the generosity still lives in my veins.
The Hawaii Reporter well, reports, and Instapundit links that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is also vacationing in The Aloha State.
Pelosi spent the last two Christmas holidays in Kona at the same hotel in an elaborate suite that rents for $10,000 a night.
The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai's details its luxurious setting and amenities on its web site: "Gloriously revitalised, this natural tropical paradise offers more than ever to explore -- with a newly expanded Spa, beachfront dining, fashion boutiques and new Deluxe Suites, in addition to Jack Nicklaus signature golf. Set on the Big Island's exclusive Kona-Kohala Coast, this showpiece resort captures the essence of Hawaiian design, culture and tradition."
She's richer than God and spending her own dough, is she not? There is $34K for security, but she is in the line of succession, so we'd pay that in Poughkeepsie probably.
Coming soon: Senator Chuck Schumer is really a saint...
It appears that the Tea Party has not yet cleaned up the GOP. The WSJ Ed Page discusses two House Republicans who are joining a fight to increase the loan amount available for a taxpayer backstop.
It's a question that House Speaker John Boehner might consider as he reads a letter that Florida Republican Bill Posey and New York Democrat Gary Ackerman are circulating to fellow Members for signatures. The letter supports an amendment to an appropriations bill that recently passed the Senate to increase the mortgage limits that Fannie, Freddie and the Federal Housing Administration can insure to $729,750 from $625,500 in certain markets for two years. California Rep. Gary Miller, the Republican who rivals Barney Frank in protecting Fannie, introduced a similar bill in May.
"Members may differ on long-term policy solutions for the housing markets, but it would be premature for the sake of the economy to shut down access to this credit right now," the letter argues. The Congressmen say raising the limits "will not cost taxpayers one dime" because Fan and Fred can charge more to insure more expensive homes. Anyone remember Bill Clinton's 1995 claim that expanding taxpayer-backed mortgages "will not cost the taxpayers one extra cent"?
I'm up early this morning, and Ms. McArdle is on fire:
If we add in the Medicare surtaxes which start in 2013, then for a person earning a million dollars a year (we really need a better word for this than "millionaire", which already has a meaning), the marginal tax rate on long-term investment income for this group jumps to 24% in 2013, from 15% now, while the marginal tax rate on earned income will be (assuming the Bush tax cuts expire like they're supposed to) 48.5%. This of course does not include any state income taxes, or property taxes. The tax penalty on earned income seems likely to rise well over 50% for the typical high earner under Democratic plans. Most left-leaning pundits and wonks do not seem to believe that millionaires pay attention to decreasing returns to effort. I confess, I'm a bit more skeptical.
The real question, however is this: what do you do for an encore? They're hiking taxes on this lucky group 5% to pay for one temporary jobs measure. What happens the next time Democrats need some money to pay for something? Surely we need to leave millionaires a little something for themselves on their marginal dollar, say 10%--a sort of tip for good service. And the state and local tax people will want their bite too, so you'll need to leave another 10-15% so that those high-tax jurisdictions where sound Democratic politicians like Senator Schumer campaign can enjoy their full bite.
A tip for good service! Again, Megan McArdle is few people's idea of a right-wing nutjob. She's that rare breed of an honest lefty (well, left of center anyway). I'm comforted that she is giving this little respect to this in The Atlantic.
Faced with the prospect of a cut in federal spending, Senator Reid chose to once again risk a government shutdown in a desperate attempt to protect the federal jack for "a clean-energy program popular with Democrats and the Obama administration."
The WSJ Ed Page sees some correlation between the announced 30,000 layoffs at BofA and the hyperregulation of the financial sector in the 112th Congress and current Administration. Now hang on, it is pretty complicated. But if you think about it, you might see that they have a point:
[Bank of America CEO Brian] Moynihan didn't say this, but we will: These layoffs are part of the bill for the last two years of Washington's financial rule-writing. After loose monetary policy had combined with insane housing policy to create a financial crisis, the Democrats who ran Washington in 2009 and 2010 enacted myriad new rules that had nothing to do with easy money or housing.
Take the amendment that Illinois Democrat and Senator Dick Durbin (with the help of 17 Senate Republicans) attached to last year's Dodd-Frank financial law. Mr. Durbin's amendment instructed the Federal Reserve to limit the amount of "swipe fees" that banks can charge merchants when customers use debit cards.
How exactly does forcing banks to charge Wal-Mart less money for operating an electronic payment system prevent the next financial crisis? Readers may wait a long time for a satisfactory answer, but the cost of this Dodd-Frank directive is straightforward.
Good thing the President is releasing a solid jobs bill today to get these 30K jobs back.
Don't know what to expect from the sooper-dooper-debt panel, but I will call myself pleased with the GOP picks:
The panel is known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction and was established to find $1.5 trillion in additional budget savings over 10 years, but markets have been looking for signs that it may be able to do even more.
Senators Jon Kyl, Rob Portman and Patrick Toomey were selected by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for inclusion on the high-profile 12-member panel.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, appointed Representatives Dave Camp, Jeb Hensarling and Fred Upton.
Am I supposed to be happy? Colorado Senator Mark Udall (used to be my Congressman) has crafted a means to comply with the debt bill's requirement for a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA). He's offered one with a provision to "outlaw tax cuts for people making more than $1 million a year unless the country has a budget surplus."
"My proposal is a responsible approach to requiring a balanced budget that would prevent future Congresses from making some of the same mistakes that have led to our debt crisis," the Colordao Democrat said.
Udall's co-sponsors include Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
All the Democratic Senate "moderates" lined up in a row. Did somebody on this blog say something about Democrats being able to duck and cover behind an amendment (I co-sponsored it, people!) without altering their spendthrift ways? Did this prescient pundit mention McCaskill by name? I should do a search...
Larry Kudlow had me pretty well convinced that last week's slide had much to do with the debt-ceiling contretemps. So, big break to the upside today, right?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 250 points, or 2.07%, to 11881.49, in recent trading. The blue-chip index is on track for its eighth consecutive decline, which would be its longest since October 2008. It has lost more than 700 points during the skid, dating back to July 22.
I commented earlier today that the Progressives in congress and the White House are lamenting the current debt-limit "compromise" bill as a ruse to make conservatives believe it is good for taxpayers (by cutting spending and not raising tax rates.) Then I read Marc Thiessen explain how "the 'hobbits' won."
The fight for a balanced budget amendment must go on. But Tea Partyers should recognize just how much Obama and the Democrats caved: $2 trillion in spending cuts. No tax increases. A new precedent that debt-limit hikes must be accompanied by equal or greater cuts in spending. And the potential for a balanced budget in 10 years. That the Tea Party accomplished all this in just six months — at a time when the GOP controls one-half of one-third of the federal government — is remarkable.
Now, this conclusion is rooted in the assumption that "the package sets an important new precedent that debt-limit increases must be “paid for” with commensurate cuts in spending." And that "according to Sen. Rob Portman, a former White House budget director, if we cut a dollar of spending for every dollar we raise the debt limit, we will balance the budget in 10 years — something that even the Paul Ryan budget would not achieve" is also correct.
Taking those on faith I too would back the compromise. (But y'all know my opinion of faith.) Being both an optimist and a cautious conservative I s'pose I'll have to put away my matches and focus on 2012.
Clearly, a significant chunk of Pelosi's caucus is outraged. Progressive Caucus chairman Raul Grijalva (D., Ariz.) said the proposed deal "trades people's livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it." Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D., Mo.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, called it "a sugar-coated Satan sandwich." The two chairmen have scheduled a joint-press conference on Monday to call on President Obama to raise the debt ceiling by invoking the 14th amendment.
WASHINGTON -- The Republicans are killing Keynesian economics with their attempt to cut spending as the economy rebounds from a recession, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a floor speech on Sunday.
"I would say ... that symbolically, that agreement is moving us to the point where we are having the final interment of John Maynard Keynes," he said, referring to the British economist. "He normally died in 1946 but it appears we are going to put him to his final rest with this agreement."
Insert standard disclaimers that Lord Keynes offered a bit more to the science than an excuse for Sen. Durbin to take my money. But if it is true, as Senator Durbin understands and uses Keynesian Economics, then this is quite the bill indeed.
While we're waiting for the House to pass the Boehner Bill this evening, thus forcing the Senate and White House to make good on their threats to risk "default" by killing the House compromise, let's have some more fun. Did anyone hear Sen. John McCain read this into the record yesterday?
The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against . . . Barack Obama. The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.
This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell into GOP Senate nominees.
I'm sure that Senator nicey nice was attracted to the passage by the shots it took at the TEA Party ladies but the Hobbit line is the one that, as dagny suggested, "might stick" to the TEA Partiers. And why not? The Hobbits were the good guys! And defeating Mordor is a life or death matter. We just need to remind ourselves that it took the Hobbits three books and at least as many movies to get the job done. It ain't gonna happen with one debt-limit vote.
"In seven months, I think the expectation for Allen West and the rest of us to correct something that has been a disease going on for 30 years Let's be realistic in our expectations. It takes 5 miles to turn an aircraft carrier around. I can tell you this: We have started that motion," West said.
Those TEA Party Republicans are so extreme and unreasonable.
Yesterday I called your office in Fort Collins and asked them to register my support for a "no compromise, no surrender" position on the debt limit issue. Today I am urging you and the rest of the house freshmen to support the Boehner Bill.
Your principled stand over the past week has resulted in: Elimination of all tax hikes, substantive and actual cuts in government spending, and a limited debt cap increase. President Obama and the Democrats have lost on virtually all of their demands.
While I personally have little fear of government default I believe most Americans do, and would view inaction on the debt limit as irresponsible and a "failure to compromise" as unreasonable. Putting the Boehner bill on the president's desk will put him in a no-win position. Failure to do so will give him his only chance to score political points.
I believe the accomplishments of you and your peers are remarkable. You will have my support and that of those like me whether or not you back the Boehner bill. I think you'll earn the respect and support of less principled voters if you show the reasoned maturity to take what you can get and send it, with bipartisan support, to the president.
As my blog brother and I recently wrote, "It is time to take what we can get, move on, and make the 2012 elections a serious referendum on the size of government." http://www.threesources.com/archives/009511.html
I sent this despite being emailed by Grassfire Nation that "Rep. Gardner to vote on 'Debt Ceiling' bill TOMORROW"
According to Politico, this morning, Speaker Boehner bluntly told wavering GOP lawmakers this morning to "get your a-- in line" behind his debt ceiling bill as he scrambles for votes.
Your Congressman is being strong-armed and intimidated to accept and support a bill that doesn't do what was promised!
Now we are being told that Boehner will bring spending legislation to the House floor for a vote tomorrow (Thursday, July 28).
Thanks for the tip. I have my own message for my congressman, thank you.
Boehner: "The White House has never gotten serious about tackling the serious issues our nation faces -- not without tax hikes -- and I don't think they ever will. The path forward, I believe, is that we pull together as a team behind a new measure that has a shot at getting to the president's desk. It's won't be Cut, Cap & Balance as we passed it, but it should be a package that reflects the principles of Cut, Cap & Balance. We're committed to working with you -- and with our Republican colleagues in the Senate -- to get it done. No one is willing to default on the full faith and credit of the United States."
Rubin: That suggests to me that the House Republicans will pass a bill, send it to the Senate and let the Democrats decide if they want to send the country into default.
Don Luskin says what I think -- with a level of panache I have not achieved in a long time:
Right at 0:35 after the commercial and the introductions:
It is all blue smoke and mirrors and that's what's so great about it.
The last thing we want is for Washington to legislate -- in haste -- some dumb deal. You know what it's going to be: it will raise taxes this year and it will cut spending never.
What we need is to stand down, for both sides to disengage, for us to just avoid a default, avoid a downgrade. And we'll have a referendum on this in 2012 and the Republicans will sweep the Congress. And then we'll deal with this the right way, Larry. That is the most bullish scenario and that is exactly what is happening.
I opened myself to criticism for saying I'd accept all indignities in the Gang-of-six (Go6) plan. While I am not retracting, let us not forget compromise by its nature also includes some positive elements. The blog optimist bows before the world's optimist, Larry Kudlow. Kudlow has some concerns but:
There are a lot of known unknowns about the new "Gang of Six" budget proposal. But conservatives should hold back from trashing it. Why? There's a large, pro-growth tax-reform piece in the plan that would lower tax rates across-the-board. This is a stunning reversal of the Obama Democrats' soak-the-rich, class-warfare campaign.
And right now, the Gang of Six package is the first real pro-growth tax reform of all the debt-ceiling plans. It acknowledges the need for a growth element in order to solve our budget bankruptcy and limit spending, deficits, and debt. It would boost the economy and broaden the base (by reforming or limiting numerous deductions). As a result, more income would be taxed at lower rates in a rising economy, throwing off a hell of a lot more revenues than we're getting today. Rising revenues from lower tax rates are a good thing.
In the Gang of Six plan, there are a lot of planned spending cuts across-the-board for all the cabinet departments. There is spending-cap enforcement. And, importantly, the plan would repeal the CLASS Act, an Obamacare entitlement for long-term health-care insurance that would exponentially elevate future federal spending. This would mark the first step toward undoing Obamacare.
The WSJ Ed Page is a bit more skeptical, but highlights the same advantages
That's especially true of the tax reform outline, which suggests moving to no more than three income tax rates, with a top rate in a range between 23% and 29%. This would be "paid for" by closing loopholes and tax preferences, but a marginal rate tax reduction of that magnitude would be worth giving up a lot. It could be by far the most pro-growth tax change since the 1980s, and the U.S. needs faster economic growth now above all else.
In the end, I am sympathetic to those who claim the Democrats are over-hyping the downsides to not increasing the debt ceiling. But Kudlow and the WSJ Ed Page folk are pretty smart and are not anxious to test the theory. If responsible people were dictating policy, I'm sure we'd be fine. But Secretary Geithner and President Obama have a perverse incentive to capitalize on calumny. I, for one, don't trust them to put patriotism over politics.
I don't care how bad parts of it suck, I love the Gang-of-six plan! Crazy about it! Would marry it and bear it strong sons!
Leaders of a bipartisan "Gang of Six" senators said Tuesday that they've reached an agreement on a major plan to cut the deficit by more than $4 trillion. The deal, which was quickly endorsed by President Obama, pushed stocks higher.
The DJIA is up 208 at 3:25 EDT, Larry Kudlow will be giddy tonight.
But mostly, the GOP will be able to back down, get a few wins and live to fight another day. We (we kimosabe?) were getting our right wing asses kicked trying to govern from one house of Congress.
Yaaay tax hikes! Yaaay fake cuts that will never materialize! Sweet NED, we dodged a bullet!
And not just any Democrat -- my personal Democrat!
Jared Polis (D - CondoOfLove) pens a guest ed in the WSJ today that sparkles with good ideas. It's a read the whole thing, and Coloradans without subscriptions should ping me for an email (UPDATE: It's on his site).
He has four revenue ideas that all fall outside of tax increases in my book:
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the bipartisan 2007 Senate immigration bill would have boosted revenues by $15 billion by 2012 and by $48 billion by 2017. The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, also found that forcing undocumented immigrants to get right with the law would boost their productivity and thus the incomes of U.S. households $180 billion a year by 2019, thereby further increasing tax revenues.
New revenues can also be found by changing the way we treat Internet gaming, which is currently both underground and offshore. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement currently spends millions of dollars trying to shut down and prosecute Internet gaming sites, but they remain a casual click away for any interested gambler. Legalizing and regulating online gaming, as Reps. John Campbell (R., Calif.) and Jim McDermott (D., Wash.) have proposed, would generate $42 billion in additional revenue over the next decade, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
In my home state of Colorado, and in 15 other states and the District of Columbia, local revenues have increased by millions of dollars since lawmakers decided to legalize and regulate medical marijuana. By reducing the current 100% confiscatory tax on marijuana to more reasonable levels, we can make revenues increase. If we were to nationally legalize, regulate and reduce federal taxes on marijuana, we could receive as much as $2.4 billion in additional revenue annually, according to a 2005 study conducted by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron.
We can also institute a one-year amnesty program for federal taxpayers. This can quickly raise substantial revenues, boost our economy, and provide a broader tax base as former tax cheaters come out of the shadows and file returns. To reduce the fiscal burden on states, we could implement state tax amnesty programs alongside any federal one. According to economist Arthur Laffer, a one-year amnesty program could provide $800 billion to $1 trillion in additional revenues over 10 years.
Not sure my blog brothers will dig all four, but you have to give props to a leftist Democrat's quoting CATO, Jeffrey Miron, and Art Laffer.
[The title alludes to the first of the "Nanny McPhee" movies by and with Emma Thompson. I have just discovered these (there are two I know of) and they are gems.]
Coloradans should expect snow about any time but I doubt measurable has been recorded in August at any elevation habitable by homo sapiens.
But Coloradans would not normally expect their Senator (and my former Congressman) Mark Udall (D - CO) to team up with Sen. Tom Coburn (HOSS - OK) to cut government.
The unfortunate truth is that some outdated federal regulations or programs persist simply because they haven't been properly reviewed. To help fix that, I've introduced legislation to establish a Senate committee with the sole purpose of identifying and targeting wasteful and underperforming federal government programs that should be cut or eliminated.
This bipartisan committee would be an important step toward making government more efficient and responsive to the American people. But we can't stop there.
In fact, this week, I also joined Republican Senator Tom Coburn in introducing an amendment that would require that Congress get a warning when proposed legislation creates duplicative programs. It would also require that Senate committees justify the need for legislation that overlaps with other laws or regulations. These important steps will help change the culture in Congress and encourage meaningful oversight.
I think we've just learned how candidate Romney can afford to take a pass on calling for an end to the ethanol subsidy. Because Congress just took a giant step toward ending it before he might ever take office.
Ethanol subsidies have been a sacred cow in American politics since the late 1980s, and their demise came Friday not with a whimper but with a bang. By a vote of 73 to 27, the Senate declared an end to what Republican Senator John McCain called the "corporate welfare" that had gone on for far too long, and that had become enshrined in presidential politics as a ticket of admission to the Iowa caucuses. Now the legislation moves to the House, where deficit-conscious Tea Party conservatives could provide a similar winning margin.
Read the article to see how Sen. Tom Coburn (HOSS-OK) was the key figure in the watershed vote.
With all respect to Martin Niemöller, it's a shock to see your own industry on the Congressional Nationalization Buffet Table. In what James Taranto calls "the worst idea out of Congress in the last few minutes," gub'mint is going into commercial software:
Egged on by [Republican Illinois Senator Mark] Kirk at a hearing this month, [Democrat Illinois Senator Richard] Durbin, chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Internal Revenue Service, wants a disinterested IRS to look into drawing up software like TurboTax and offering it free to Americans on the agency's website. "We can eliminate the middle man," Durbin said. "It may save taxpayers money."
The idea was Kirk's, raised near the end of testimony from IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, whose $12 billion annual budget doesn't include any spending for free taxpayer software. Kirk estimated it would cost $20 million to $30 million to develop. He argued that Americans spend too much time and money filing taxes and that the agency should make helping taxpayers its priority.
Where? Does? One? Begin? "Cut out the middle man?" There is a vibrant market. If you don't like the US Treasury Secretary Geithner approved TurboTax, I heartily recommend the hosted TaxACT. It's nine or ten dollars for a Federal return, but I splurge for the $14.95 "Premier" that includes my Colorado State return. No freakin' doubt we'll save a gob of money having the government develop and deploy this.
My optimism and pragmatism cred was questioned this week. I shared my general ennui at the 2012 GOP Presidential race, and my blog brother suggested I revel in the change of tone and direction from previous years' debates. I'd reference Buffy in Season Six were he as geeky as me. Our heroine has been yanked out of heaven (Daniels-Rubio '12) and her friends cannot understand why general human pleasures (Herman Cain) do not satisfy her.
For the record, I think Keith and I are on solid footing as we mope about. Two of my favorite candidates (Govs. Christie and Daniels) elected not to run. Governor Romney looks to be solidifying his front -runner status, even though he is to the left of a supermajority in the US Senate on ethanol and authored the precursor to ObamaCare®. That stings a bit.
A very young, überintelligent and liberty-minded friend of mine suggested that she'd "move to Mordor" if Rep. Bachmann won. I asked her, as jg has asked me, for specific factual information that documents these repellent views. To be fair to the next Vice President, it was all small potato(e)s. Her tenure in Minnesota has been closely aligned with opposition to gay rights and promotion of traditional values. That may be a case of her enemies choosing her, I am not certain. But it does not contribute to my sunny disposition.
Back to the optimism, and the change of discussion that Chairman Ryan and brother jg like to highlight. Jennifer Rubin has a cheery post on this topic that I fulsomely recommend:
There were five critical steps after the 2010 election. First, the Senate held its ground and rejected the omnibus spending bill. Second, in a temporary and then a final vote on the continuing resolution for the 2011 budget Democrats agreed to more cuts, breaking the backs of those arguing for more spending ("stimulus"). Third, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) set down a marker: Every dollar the debt ceiling is raised requires a dollar in cuts. Fourth, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R- Ky.) made clear again this week that there will be no tax hikes. Fifth, Republicans generally did not flinch when the Democrats went on their Medicare scare campaign.
So now the question is how much to cut and can we work in some tax cuts before Congress gets to overall tax reform. Remarkable, isn't it?
Remarkable, yet none touches the Executive Branch. And as Rubin admits in the penultimate ppg:
That's the optimistic version. Or, the talks could collapse, we could suffer a technical default and the markets could freak.
The Fifth Amendment has been chucked in the trash.
As a result of the roll call, the Fed will be allowed to issue final rules on July 21 trimming the average 44 cents that banks charge for each debit card transaction. That fee, typically 1 to 2 percent of each purchase, produces $16 billion in annual revenue for banks and credit card companies, the Fed estimates.
The central bank has proposed capping the so-called interchange fee at 12 cents, though the final plan could change slightly.
James DeLong had a superb look at this in American.com today.
The Durbin amendment was a dead-of-night add-on to last year's Dodd-Frank bill that requires the FRB to issue regulations limiting the interchange fees charged by debit card issuers to an amount that is "reasonable and proportional to the cost incurred by the issuer with respect to the transaction." The meaning of this phrase is then whittled down some more: the FRB is to distinguish between "the incremental cost incurred by an issuer for ... a particular electronic debit transaction," which it can consider in setting the rate, and "other costs incurred by an issuer which are not specific to a particular electronic debit transaction," which must be ignored.
The obvious interpretation of the law is that it requires marginal cost pricing of a service that can be offered only as the result of a process of hefty capital investment. The analogy would be a law noting that it costs very little for a telecommunications company to send a TV program to a consumer, so it must charge only for the electrons used, not for the investment in laying cable, buying routers, developing the necessary software code, or producing the content in the first place.
The fact that Congress could use the phrase "incremental cost ... of a particular ... transaction" shows how out of touch it is with industrial realities. Visit a Network Operations Center for a telecom carrier or electronic funds transfer firm and you see bays the size of two football fields filled with hundreds of millions of dollars of computer equipment, and surrounded by cubic yards of concrete and security protections, in which a few people oversee the processing of 20,000 transactions per second. "Incremental cost ... of a particular ... transaction" is a ridiculous concept, since the cost of any transaction is the cost of the electrons moving over billions of dollars of capital investment.
You buy two football fields worth of servers and routers and the government dictates your price. I don't throw the S word around lightly, but if that ain't real-live, flesh-and-blood socialism...
I laughed at the idiocy of government's banning futures trading on onions. Damned Vidalia Speculators!
But, looking at the "Bust Big Oil's Chops Act of 2011," it is looking like the definition of wisdom. Let's look at the AP take:
WASHINGTON -- The Senate is voting on a bill Tuesday that would repeal about $2 billion a year in tax breaks for the five biggest oil companies, a Democratic response to $4-a-gallon gasoline that might fare better when Congress and the White House negotiate a deal later this year to increase the government's ability to borrow.
The bill is expected to be defeated in a procedural vote in the evening. But Democrats hope to build their case to include the measure in a deficit-reduction package being negotiated by key lawmakers and the Obama administration. Lawmakers from both parties are demanding deficit reduction as part of deal to increase the government's ability to borrow and avoid an unprecedented default on U.S. Treasury bonds.
"Why should Americans pay at the gas pump once and then give these subsidies to the oil companies a second time?" said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D- Nev. "We believe we need to cut government spending," he said, adding, "The place to start is with these subsidies."
The choir may quietly text their girlfriends while I rant, but I cannot leave this one alone. Is there anything in those first three paragraphs that makes any logical sense?
"a Democratic response to $4-a-gallon gasoline" If a company (or five)'s price is too high, raise their taxes. This makes the underpants gnomes' business plan look contiguous. "Now that our taxes are higher, we will be able to lower prices! Everybody wins!"
"But Democrats hope to build their case to include the measure in a deficit-reduction package being negotiated by key lawmakers and the Obama administration" Okay, this one actually parses and makes sense. The bad news is that it represents $2 Billion out of a deficit of $1.5 Trillion, and a debt of $14.5 Trillion. "Hooray! Sec Geithner will have six more minutes until he hits the debt ceiling! Crisis averted!!"
"Why should Americans pay at the gas pump once and then give these subsidies to the oil companies a second time?" Umm, Mister Leader, when you pay at the pump, you are purch-as-ing their product. When you "give them subsidies," you -- no, wait you really don't give them subsidies at all, Senator, you're making this whole thing up.
This is their contribution to the spending crisis. A pissant $2B tax hike that is as much a Bill of Attainder as anything else.
Recent demands by various factions of the Republican caucus as the price for increasing the debt limit leads The Refugee to hope that they have, perhaps, finally grown a set of cojones. Demands include such beauties as hard spending limits (i.e., percent of GDP), modifications and caps to Medicare and Medicaid spending and "tax increases off the table". Whether or not this represents organ-farming moving from the lab to politics or if they are mere prosthetic devices remains to be seen. However, any failure to keep the ball rolling is likely to result in the electorate getting testy.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus has released their "People's Budget" response to the Ryan plan.
James Pethokoukis doesn't seem what I'd call 100%, totally on board:
Here's the short version of the plan: It claims to achieve primary balance (not counting interest costs) by 2014 and overall balance by 2021. It does this via huge tax hikes (on income, corporate profits and investments) and by cutting defense spending by $2.3 trillion over a decade -- and then shifting $1.7 trillion of those savings into nondefense outlays. Those nearly $2 trillion in new "investments" would boost the growth potential of the economy by 0.3 percentage point per year over the next decade. Or so the CPC and the Economic Policy Institute claims.
If the Tea Party did nothing but send Ron Johnson to the US Senate (the anti-Lafollette?), it was all worth it. His first floor speech is on the WSJ Ed Page today (holler if you would like it emailed around Rupert's wall)
In 1902, the federal government spent 2% of the nation's gross domestic product. State and local governments spent 5%. Government was close to the governed. The size, scope, and cost of the federal government was constrained by the Constitution's enumerated powers. The individual was preeminent, and government's role was modest and pedestrian.
This body played a key role in limiting federal government expansion. Debate in the Senate was unlimited. The cloture vote did not exist. As George Washington had said, the Senate really was the saucer that cooled the tea.
I don't think we're really fighting around here. I'm guessing that most of us are pretty pleased with the first derivative of discretionary spending, though we would all like more.
The WSJ Ed Page calls it A Tea Party Victory in their lead editorial today:
One of the ironies of Friday's budget deal is that it is being criticized both by Ms. Pelosi and some conservative Republicans. We can understand Ms. Pelosi's angst. But conservatives are misguided if they think they could have done much better than Mr. Boehner, or that a shutdown would have helped their cause. Republicans need to stay united for the bigger fights to come this year, and for now they and the tea party can take credit for spending cuts that even Mr. Obama feels politically obliged to sell as historic.
I can't believe ThreeSources has been silent on Prince William's decision not to wear a wedding ring the Ryan Budget Proposal. I think it is awesome on stilts. It is probably not exactly what I may have done and yes, tough guy that I am, I could have stood even more cuts.
John Stossel's Facebook survey is running away with "it's still not enough cuts" and the wingnuttosphere is abuzz with disappointment. Yeah, I wanted to win WWII and have free cherry sundaes with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.
At a slightly lower elevation than Candy Mountain, I think we have to realize that Chairman Ryan (I still like the sound of that)'s plan is audacious and it would be a game changer to get half of it.
The guys (and sadly Veronique de Rugy) who are throwing stones have a point, but cannot be taken seriously. Harry Reid runs the Senate and Barack Obama sits in the Oval Office. To suggest we kick the can down the road until we can get a $14 Trillion cut is no more serious than the President's proposal to do nothing.
Not only does this recommendation by forecasting expert J. Scott Armstrong of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania hold promise for reducing the federal budget deficit, it could also reduce energy costs across the board nation wide.
The three researchers audited the forecasting procedures used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose "procedures violated 81% of the 89 relevant forecasting principles," Armstrong noted.
Armstrong and his colleagues recommend Congress end government funding for climate change research as well as other research, government programs, and regulations that assume the planet is warming. They also recommend Congress cease funding organizations that lobby or campaign for global warming.
"Based on our analyses, especially with respect to the violations of the principles regarding objectivity and full disclosure," Armstrong told members of Congress, "we conclude that the manmade global warming alarm is an anti-scientific political movement."
Senator Schumer tells the caucus what to say, unaware that reporters are on the line.
After thanking his colleagues -- Barbara Boxer of California, Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, Thomas R. Carper of Delaware and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut -- for doing the budget bidding for the Senate Democrats, who are facing off against the House Republicans over how to cut spending for the rest of the fiscal year, Mr. Schumer told them to portray John A. Boehner of Ohio, the speaker of the House, as painted into a box by the Tea Party, and to decry the spending cuts that he wants as extreme. "I always use the word extreme," Mr. Schumer said. "That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week."
So, guys, here it goes -- and this is straight from Corporate: when asked about the Senior Senator form New York, portray him as an "asshole." I always use the word "asshole." that's what we're supposed to use this week.
Sen. Claire McCaskill's admission that she owes nearly $300,000 in back taxes on a plane she co-owned with her husband is the latest in a series of revelations regarding the aircraft that have complicated the Missouri Democrat's already-difficult path to reelection in 2012.
The tax revelations come roughly a week after McCaskill acknowledged using the plane for both official travel and purely political business while charging taxpayers for the flights.
I mean, who among us has not occasionally failed to remember to make a $287,000 tax payment? And why shouldn't we pay for her fuel and maintenance? She's just working so hard to take care of us!
The wrong lesson from the tragedy is that nuclear power is unsafe. And we have learned that one completely.
The right lesson ... let me let Jeopardy champion, frequent Kudlow guest, and Reuters columnist James Pethokoukis say it:
You never know when a black swan will float your way. And when your credit card is nearly maxed out, dealing with emergencies can be tricky. A massive rebuilding effort may stretch Japan to its financial limits. Politicians in Washington should take note of the warning for several reasons:
The famously scary Administration budget proposals are predicated on rosy growth scenarios. One doesn't have to be too dark to envision a natural or "Man made" disaster and the potential difficulty to simultaneously watch spending and deal with it.
Anyone who doubts my "wrong lesson" needs to read blog friend LisaM's take.
The Senior Senator from the Empire State is quoted in a Yahoo/AP story on the spending bills.
"We're looking for some give on the Republican side," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. Citing House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and first-term tea party-backed lawmakers, Schumer said Boehner "needs something to bring his ... freshmen into the real world."
A real world where Senator Schumer gets to spend as much as he wants to on anything he deems important. As Buffy might say: "Project Much?"
So goes the reality of today's Washington, especially after Mr. Obama dropped his budget this week that does almost nothing about everything. To call it a punt is unfair to the game of football.
Honorable Mention (same article):
"The way I look at things is if you want to be good at this kind of job, you have to be willing to lose it. Number two, the times require this. And number three, if you don't believe in your principles, and applying those principles, then what's the point?" He mentions limited government and economic freedom. "I believe these are the best solutions. I believe they will result in growth and opportunity for the country."
By the way, newly-elected Congressman Sean Duffy from Wisconsin made one of his first efforts in Congress a bill that returns non-obligated stimulus funding to the taxpayers. Now his bill has been included in the continuing resolution the House is working on this week. It’s great to see our efforts to end government overspending become the core of actual legislation and not just something we all rally for.
Rep. Paul Ryan made an interesting comment on FOX News Sunday yesterday. Pressed about differences in the severity of budget cuts among different factions in the GOP, Chairman Ryan (I still like the sound of that) expressed hope that the conversation in Washington has shifted from "how much to spend" to "how much to cut." The blog optimist swoons.
We've discussed the required severity of cuts and structures going forward. I hold that the best hope is to change the tide of the conversation.
Example numero dos: the Obama Administration -- as Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up -- offers plans to wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The WSJ Swoons.
Our view is that there should be no federal housing guarantee. If Congress wants to subsidize housing for the poor, it ought to do so explicitly through annual appropriations. One lesson--perhaps the most important--of the financial crisis is that broad policy favors for housing hurt every American by misallocating capital and credit. The feds created incentives to pour money into McMansions we didn't need while robbing scarce capital from manufacturing, biotech and other uses that might have created better jobs and led to a more balanced and faster growing economy.
Being the Obama Administration, they offered three options with varying levels of government intrusion. But, again, the talk is how much to remove, not how much more to spend to increase home ownership.
Regular readers will know I don't go for piling on President George W. Bush just for sport. But this is a superb case against "compassionate conservatism." Home ownership is "a conservative value" ergo we should use tax dollars to improve minority and poverty ownership rates. Sounds good but in the end, it is a market distortion and concomitant misallocation of capital.
Rep. Jeff Flake, (HOSS - AZ), voted against the Appropriations Committee's proposed budget cuts.
The 27-22 vote broke down by party, with two notable exceptions: GOP Reps. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) and Cynthia Lummis (R., Wyo.) joined with Democrats and voted 'no' in protest over cuts they viewed as insufficient. Republicans very nearly lost a third member. Freshman Rep. Tom Graves (R., Ga.) had also threatened to oppose the measure, but was won over at the last minute.
Dey was too small.
He certainly didn't sign up for the Appropriations Committee to make friends.
Paul, who sits at Henry's desk, grappled with the pair's legacy. Henry Clay, he noted, is a darling of historians, but it is Cassius Clay, an unapologetic agitator, who captures his eye. "A venomous pen was his first weapon of choice, a Bowie knife his second," Paul said, smiling slightly. "He was so effective with the one, he found it wise to have the other handy."
At the risk of spoiling the ending, this Kentucky Senator thinks there's too much compromise on budget cuts. And he's ready to take out his Bowie knife.
Draconian Budget Cuts of a Magnitude that will Harm Critical Services
WaPo: Those mean ol' Republicans want to cut $30 Billion. I guess they don't like kids or something.
The figure represents a sharp reduction from President Obama's most recent budget request, and Democrats have dismissed the proposal as draconian, arguing that cuts of that magnitude would harm critical government services.
Stark, clear differences -- I'm all for it. The Democrats want to be the party that voted 100% not to repeal ObamaCare® and the party of the unlimited Gravy Train. Let's go.
Now that Keith Olberman is gone -- NO, I just can't do it. Nope, execrable as he is, there are indeed worse people in the world than Senator Charles Schumer.
All the same...
Insty points out that "While the Middle East burns and America goes broke, Charles Schumer opines on bath salts."
ALBANY, N.Y. -- U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York says he wants the federal government to ban new designer drugs known as bath salts that pack as much punch as cocaine or methamphetamines.
The small, inexpensive packets of powder are meant to be snorted for a hallucination-inducing high, but they are often marketed with a wink on the Internet or in convenience stores as bathing salts.
The Democratic senator is announcing a bill Sunday that would add those chemicals to the list of federally controlled substances. He is also pushing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban the substance in the state.
Graphing myself versus Sen. Schumer in the Nolan Chart or comparable two-axes political distribution would show true opposites. Schumer is authoritarian on personal liberty issues and confiscatory/collectivist on economic.
Add his capacity for demagoguery and, well, if he didn't have such a great personality...
UPDATE: Daily Caller (via Taranto) piles on:
"you know, we have three branches of government. We have a House. We have a Senate. We have a president."
Sen. Jim DeMint and Reps. Jim Jordan and Scott Garrett (all Republicans) penned an op-ed in The Washington Examiner on how to cut $2.5 trillion in spending over the next 10 years. Basically, this involves returning to 2006 spending level and implementing a "hard freeze" at that point.
Whether Americans realize it or not, we are all running together in a race against time. Unless Washington takes swift action to cut spending, we will chain our children to debt and rob them of opportunity to reach for the American Dream. On its own, passing the Spending Reduction Act will not get us over the finish line -- but we will get a $2.5 trillion head start.
First of all and with all due respect, given a $14 trillion debt, $2.5 trillion does not sound all that aggressive over 10 years. Yes, Federal receipts could grow to reduce the debt with an expanding economy and a flat budget. Maybe that will be enough.
More problematic, however, is that this proposal falls into the same old beltway trap. Do DeMint & Co. really believe that future Congresses would honor this spending discipline for 10 years? The Refugee finds that to be wishful thinking. Any 10 year projection regarding either fiscal savings or spending cuts is inherently crap. Moreover, this proposal does nothing to address the unfunded liabilities of entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid just as boomers enter retirement.
The Refugee would like to further point out that there is no such thing as a "finish line" unless these fine gentlemen are forecasting the end of our Republic or the disbanding of Congress. This is a never ending battle of "how much to spend and where to spend it." Fiscally responsible Congressmen cannot win this battle in the long term. As soon as the economy gives a hint of recovery and Federal revenues peek up, the Democrats and enough RINOs will vote to restore the "draconian cuts" - and up the ante - right before an election.
Although spending seems to be a problem, it is really a symptom. We cannot win the "where and how much" game until we solve the "how" game of goverment funding. Constitutional limits on spending, ending the entitlement money-grab and Constitutionally changing the way revenues are generated are the only ways to restore sanity to a Congressional spending system that inherently defies logic.
President Obama issued an executive order yesterday that "requires Federal agencies to design cost-effective, evidence-based regulations that are compatible with economic growth, job creation, and competitiveness." This is not quite the "reform" language that was peddled in the press but that is ostensibly the goal: Start to get government out of the way of private sector job growth, at least a little bit.
On the same day, Politico reported that Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), incoming chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, sought input from the private sector on what sorts of reforms would be helpful. This led to predictable outrage at HuffPo that Issa intends to mount a "purely partisan crusade" aimed at "protecting big corporations instead of creating middle class jobs." As if it is inconceivable that private sector job growth is the purview of corporations and trade associations.
I found this story while searching for reform ideas. Since I didn't find any I will start, as a public service, a group-sourced list of suggested reforms. My first entries are as follows. Please pile on in the comments.
- Abolish the federal minimum wage.
- Abort EPA efforts to regulate CO2 emissions.
- Eliminate all federal mandates for health insurance coverage and eliminate any federal restrictions on writing policies across state lines.
- Eliminate oil and gas severance taxes and expedite leases on so-called "public" lands outside of the National Parks system.
Joe Lieberman announced his intention to retire from the Senate at the end of his current term. Slate's Emily Bazelon shows her newfound respectful approach with political foes in Good Riddance, Joe Lieberman - Why I Loathe My Connecticut Senator.
"Why do I loathe, loathe, loathe my 68-year-old four-term senator? My feelings are all the stronger for being fairly irrational."
Geez, they even wear their irrationality on their sleeve, like a badge of ... something.
Not much more is worth quoting but she uses the terms "hate" and "failed to bury" and "kill the Democrats' proposal." She described a Connecticut cocktail party game called, "I hated Joe Lieberman before you hated Joe Lieberman." But what really, really chapped her, um, hide, was when Joe did something good.
"And then, most infuriating of all, Lieberman ended the last Congress by doing something good. He resurrected the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" in the Senate last month."
Republican Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas has proposed some reductions in federal outlays -- hoorah! -- that amount to . . . not much: about $44 billion in the next fiscal year, and about $156 billion over the next five years. Okay, fine, do it: Go ahead and cut foreign aid and the Robert Byrd memorial scholarship, and collect those billions in unpaid taxes from federal workers. That, along with some military-spending cuts, covers, oh, about 1 percent of the expected 2011 spending. Which is to say, Brady-s bill eliminates in one year about half of the national debt the geniuses in Washington piled upon us in the month of December alone.
I know we would all like some bold cuts. But the blog pragmatist is concerned that the perfect will be the enemy of the good. If the libertarians and tea partiers are disappointed with anything less than a return to 1880, it will play into the hands of collectivists, either with third party challenges or just general disillusionment (cf 2006, 2008).
I heard this on FOXNews Sunday. When I went to blog, I thought I might have misheard -- and I did not want to add the violent, hate filled rhetoric that poisons our political discourse. But CATO's Gene Healy heard it too. Congressman James Clyburn's take away from the horrific tragedy in Tucson is that he should not have to stand in the airport security line with the hoi polloi he represents.
For his part, Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., called for beefed-up congressional security and special treatment by the Transportation Security Administration at airports (currently available only to top congressional officials, like the speaker). Clyburn complained that "we've had some incidents where TSA authorities think that congresspeople should be treated like everybody else" -- easily the most positive news I've heard about the TSA since its inception. Flexibility is in order here, Clyburn argued, because Congress is "held to a higher standard in so many areas."
Airports are "where we feel the most ill at ease," Clyburn stated, without explaining why congresspeople would feel especially threatened in areas where they're surrounded by security officials already on the lookout for hidden weapons.
What a fine American Rep. Clyburn is. I wish nothing but the kindest regards for him for this extremely helpful suggestion.
It was predictable that frustrated gun-grabbers would leap at the opportunity to villify handguns provided by the tragic shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and numerous bystanders yesterday. But they're making it a two-fer by blaming the TEA Party movement at the same time. The first such conclusive leap I saw was posted on the same day as the shooting - 'Lock and Load and Lost in Tucson Today: What's the Matter with My Arizona?' Wherin Jeff Biggers cites Gregory McNamee-
"What is clear to me, at this chaotic moment, is that no one should be surprised by this turn of events. The bullets that were fired in Tucson this morning are the logical extension of every bit of partisan hatred that came spewing out during the last election, in which Gabrielle Giffords---a centrist, representing well and faithfully a centrist district---was vilified and demonized as a socialist, a communist, a fascist, a job-killer, a traitor, and more.
Anyone who uttered such words or paid for them to be uttered has his or her name etched on those bullets."
And Biggers himself-
Now in Arizona--and the nation--do we have the courage and wisdom to deal with our gun laws? To stop the hatred from finding its all-too-easy expression through the barrel of the gun?
"While we are all still learning details about this shooting, and particularly the 22-year old responsible for this horrendous act, we should find it unacceptable that when Americans and our elected leaders are assembling in public places, their lives are at risk from gun violence."
"America's gun culture claims its latest victims."
"If the attempted murder of one of their colleagues does not force Congress and President Obama to face the gun issue, what will?"
Perhaps worst of all is this, from former Colorado Senator Gary Hart who I have to believe truly knows better: 'Words Have Consequences'-
"Today we have seen the results of this rhetoric. (...) We all know that there are unstable and potentially dangerous people among us. To repeatedly appeal to their basest instincts is to invite and welcome their predictable violence.
So long as we all tolerate this kind of irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric (...) so long will we place all those in public life, whom the provocateurs dislike, in the crosshairs of danger.
That this is carried out, and often rewarded, in the name of the Constitution, democratic rights and liberties, and patriotism is a mockery of all this nation claims to believe and almost all of us continue to struggle to preserve. America is better than this."
Not only is Scott Brown a capable Senator from the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts ("Commonwealth," harrumph!), but this lady is not:
Today the Bay State is a liberal bastion, so you might think that "Banned in Boston" is an anachronism. But on Thursday the state's highest court will consider a case involving censorship of truthful speech. The target of state Attorney General Martha Coakley and this modern Watch and Ward Society: financial information disseminated to the general public by a hedge fund.
The Bay State is not contending that any information on Bulldog's website was false or misleading. Instead, in echoes of the state's puritanical censors of the past, officials are trying to suppress truthful information because it "arouses" the public. The website, they say, "even though not couched in terms of a direct offer," may still "condition the public mind or arouse public interest in the particular securities."
The legal team for Phillip Goldstein, the cofounder of Bulldog, will argue that Massachusetts' broad definition of "offering" violates the First Amendment. Among his lawyers is Laurence Tribe, the liberal Harvard Law professor who has just finished a stint as senior counselor for access to justice in the Obama Justice Department.
For those of you who have not given Sir Rupert his tribute this year, the problem is that, while hedge funds are limited to $1Million+ clients, the website was out there on the Internets, where a poor person or a minority -- or even maybe a child -- could see its investment advice.
Thankfully, Ms. Coakley was not seated in the 112th Congress and can protect the good people of Massachusetts.
When House Republicans unveiled details of their plan to impose a 5 percent cut on funding for legislative offices and committees, it included an additional slash at the budget of the House Appropriations Committee. The appropriators asked for and received a 9 percent cut in their budget as part of the resolution, which is expected to be approved by the full House later this week.
Cato's Roger Pilon has a great guest editorial in the WSJ today. I'd say he shares both our hopes and our fears about keeping Congress on a Constitutional track.
First, they'll have to keep the debate focused on the Constitution, not simply on policy or practicality.
Second, they'll have to reject without embarrassment the facile liberal objection that the courts have sanctioned what we have today, and thus all a member need do when introducing a bill is check the box that says "Commerce Clause," "General Welfare Clause" or "Necessary and Proper Clause."
If these clauses in the Constitution enable Congress to enact the individual health-insurance mandate, then they authorize Congress to do virtually anything. The Supreme Court was wrong in allowing Congress to exercise power not granted it by the Constitution, and courts today are wrong when they uphold those precedents--even if they're not in a position today to reverse them until Congress takes greater responsibility.
Third, Congress has to start taking greater responsibility. Congress must acknowledge honestly that it has not kept faith with the limits the Constitution imposes. It should then stop delegating its legislative powers to executive agencies. Congress should either vote on the sea of regulations the executive branch is promulgating or, far better, rescind or defund those regulations, policies and programs that never should have been promulgated in the first place (rescission may not be possible during the next two years, but defunding is). And of course Congress should undertake no new policies not authorized by the Constitution.
Pilon provides interesting history from my beloved Madison quote that the President could not "undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Federal Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." He cites case law from the new deal and takes a good whack at 20th Century Progressives.
Only a negative reference to San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers could have made it better [leave it alone, jk, the season's over...]
There's an old recording adage/joke. You ignore errors and move on, saying "we'll fix it in the mix." Kevin Mahogany did a funny song about it.
I suggest we try that in Congress, firmly putting myself in the Bill Kristol camp. Why not let the 111th pass this porkfest and split town? Then the 112th can come in and rescue us in January. HB 1, Kristol suggests, rescinds spending from the 2011 budget.
The 111th Congress began with an $814 billion stimulus that blew out the federal balance sheet, so we suppose it's only fitting that the Members want to exit by passing a 1,924-page, $1.2 trillion omnibus spending bill. The worst Congress in modern history is true to its essence to the bitter end.
Think of this as a political version of the final scene in "Animal House," when the boys from the Delta frat react to their expulsion by busting up the local town parade for the sheer mayhem of it. Bluto Blutarsky (John Belushi) did go on to be a U.S. Senator in the film, and a man of his vision must have earned a seat on Appropriations.
I suggest the GOP sit on their hands and let it go through. Beyond Kristol's (and Jennifer Rubin's) appreciation of opening the session with a huge spending cut, I suggest that the GOP will be hard pressed to show big cuts in two years. Considering a Democrat Senate and White House plus impure appropriators on Team Red, there is a danger of 2012 ads saying that the Republicans did not trim much. Why not start from a high baseline?
George Carlin, in the guise of Al Sleet, the Hippy-Dippy Weatherman, reminded us that "Behind every silver lining, there's a dark cloud!" So, in fairness to Brother br, I link to James Pethakoukis's post on why Sen. Jim DeMint opposes and may filibuster the tax deal:
But if this new trillion dollar bullet doesn't work as promised, the power of the tax-cut message would be greatly undermined. And there is good reason to think the results will be disappointing:
1. DeMint thinks America needs a "permanent economy," not a temporary one. Milton Friedman would agree. Uncle Miltie's Permanent Income Hypothesis says short-term changes income don't change spending habits, changes in long-term expectations do. PIH has been backed up by numerous studies (such as here and here and here) and argues for permanent tax cuts, not ephemeral ones.
2. The much-hyped payroll tax cut is not a supply-side cut. The Institute for Policy Innovation nails it:
One of the proposed provisions in the deal to extend the Bush tax cuts is a temporary 2 percentage-point reduction in the Social Security payroll tax, from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent. Tax cuts that stimulate real economic growth operate at the margins--affecting an additional dollar of income, or an additional dollar of savings and investment--not the first dollar of income. Supply-side tax cuts encourage additional production by stimulating additional work, saving and investment.
A payroll tax cut is not a supply-side cut and won't have much impact on economic growth. Rather, it embraces the Keynesian idea that the economy is stimulated by putting a few hundred dollars in people's pockets so they can consume more. ... If there has to be a payroll tax cut, it actually makes more economic sense to give it to the employer half of the payroll taxes than to the employee. That would at least mitigate some of the risks of hiring new employees that have been imposed by Obama administration policies.
3. All of these temporary tax cuts will do little to lower policy uncertain among business and investors. There is still plenty of reason to worry about taxes and spending in the near future. Business is already sitting on a mountain of cash, and even Goldman Sachs wonders if the expensing provision will do much in this environment:
The proposal includes expensing of business investment in 2011, similar to the policy that the president proposed in September. This should reduce corporate taxes by about $100 billion next year if enacted, but would increase corporate tax liabilities in future years. Given low interest rates and significant spare capacity, this proposal is likely to have a limited effect on corporate behavior.
4. The 13-month renewal of emergency unemployment benefits will almost certainly keep the unemployment rate higher than it would otherwise be. Research from the San Francisco and Chicago Federal Reserve banks suggests the unemployment rate would be 0.4 percent to 1.7 percentage points lower if not for the extended unemployment benefits.
Republicans didn't own the Mega-Stimulus. They will own Mega-Stimulus 2.0 in the eyes of the public. Before they sign off, they may want to seek a second opinion Dr. DeMint.
I'm calling this the first scalp of the 112th: an awesome deal on extending the Bush tax cuts. Plus 100% expensing. Plus two points off FICA. I'm giddy.
WASHINGTON -- Brushing past Democratic opposition, President Barack Obama announced agreement with Republicans Monday night on a plan to extend expiring income tax cuts for all Americans, renew jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and grant a one-year reduction in Social Security taxes.
Maybe he will "pull a Clinton" after all. Did I mention the Korean trade agreement?
I'm all in on my 2009 IRA today -- I don't care if it's up a thousand. Happy Days, here again.
Yeah, I know about the unemployment benefits extension. The cost of doing business. The net is overwhelmingly positive.
What's fascinating about [Rep. Paul Ryan (R - WI)] is that he keeps saying things that should get him into political trouble, but they don't. He wants to rework Social Security. He wants to restructure Medicare. He thinks a cheaper dollar is a bad idea. And he won reelection with 68 percent of the vote in a district that Obama carried by four points. Good ideas expressed well and with conviction are powerful things. -- James Pethokoukis
House Republicans announced last week that they plan to force a floor vote on defunding NPR in response to the firing of analyst Juan Williams last month. House GOP Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (Colo.) said that cutting funds to the publicly subsidized news organization was the winner of the conference's weekly "YouCut" contest, in which the public votes online on spending items they want eliminated. "When NPR executives made the decision to unfairly terminate Juan Williams and to then disparage him afterwards, the bias of their organization was exposed," the two Republicans said in a statement.
Defunding NPR: awesome! Having a weekly "You Cut" contest: Super awesome!
A conservative Maryland physician elected to Congress on an anti-Obamacare platform surprised fellow freshmen at a Monday orientation session by demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan takes a month to kick in.
Yeah, I could defend this if I had to. But you can understand how much one of my infamous "Facebook Friends" is enjoying this...
Color me tired of the leadership fight between Reps Michelle Bachman and Jeb Hensarling of TX. This is ginned up in the media (and my Daily Dick Viguerie email) as an important signal that the GOP is embracing the Tea Party.
Merciful Frozen Zeus on a Stick! I mean, I love the work Michelle did with The Guess Who, and some of the BTO stuff is good, but this is a fight we do not need at a time we don't need it. It's not like Hensarling is Jerry Lewis or Ted Stevens. He's a proven leader whom I trust to be very good on spending and limited government.
UPDATE: Maybe it was Randy Bachman who was in The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner-Overdrive. Sorry, I get those guys confused all the time...
I know Senator John McCain has few friends around here, but this is beautiful. He goes to San Diego to campaign, forcefully, for Sen. Boxer's opponent.
Ms. Fiorina "will never wave the white flag of surrender the way that Barbara Boxer has tried to do every single time we have been in a conflict," Mr. McCain told an audience at the Veterans Museum in San Diego. "Barbara Boxer is the most bitterly partisan, the most anti-defense Senator in the U.S. Senate today. I know that because I have had the unpleasant experience of having to serve with her."
Club for Growth is quickly becoming one of the few political institutions I feel is worthy of my largesse (or, in my case, smallesse...) Chris Chocola writes that the Alaska Senate race is neck-and-neck-and-neck. I find Joe Miller to be my favorite of the Class of '10 tea party candidates, and feel strongly that he would be one of the best voices for ThreeSources values in the 112th Congress.
I have made no secret of my appreciation for John Stossel. Looking for public figures whose philosophy most closely matches my own, Stossel would be in the top five. While his philosophy is pure, I have always sensed an underlying pragmatism.
The "UR" is Linda McMahon, WWE doyenne and GOP Senate candidate in the Nutmeg State. Stossel is right to be saddened by McMahon's backtracking on the minimum wage. She came out against, the Democrat Demagogue Machine shifted into gear, and she was forced to proffer one of those mealy-mouthed retractions we've all come to dislike. "I'm sorry I offered good economic theory in the public sphere and I PROMISE it won't happen again!"
Disappointing, yes. But that does not make her useless. She is running against The Devil Incarnate, Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal. Eliot Spitzer without the charm. And at least Spitzer approved of prostitution, Blumenthal has yet to find a business he likes.
So McMahon runs a largely self financed campaign in one of the most heavily blue states in the union against a well known incumbent Attorney General. Guessing here, but I bet AG Blumenthal would vote to double the minimum wage. Because Ms. McMahon will not stake her campaign on lowering it, I am not going to toss her over the edge.
Naive waif that I am, I have been simply-stuperfied at the level of demagoguery in the Colorado Senate Race. Buck once mentioned opposition to the 17th Amendment (page four of the libertarian hymnal). This warranted a frequently run "KEN BUCK WANTS TO REWRITE THE CONSTITUTION! TAKE AWAY YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE!" spot in the "TOO EXTREME FOR COLORADO!" DNSC series.
They drove you out of ABC Mister Stossel. Our ideas are not going to get a fair hearing in the media. Even Rand Paul seemed "neutered" in his FOX News Sunday interview. Not fair to dump on McMahon for backing out of a battle she cannot win.
It's a dangerous precedent to give QOTD to Taranto, it's hard to stop. Guitar Player magazine finally had to institute a Hall of Fame so that Eric Clapton and BB King did not win every year. But this brings tears:
Maybe it's time to reconsider Take Your Daughter to Work Day. Frank Murkowski, Alaska's former senator and governor, took little Lisa to work in 2002, and now she refuses to go home. -- His Jamesness
Now that NYAG Eliot Spitzer is (perhaps) safely ensconced in talkshowdom, we can now focus on CTAG (and Senate Candidate) Richard Blumenthal. Like Spitzer, his prosecutorial career has been one of innuendo, trial by jury, and thuggish pursuit of settlements. The due process oeuvre does not appeal to these types: better to get a subpoena and publish some embarrassing emails.
William Saletan offers a crueler assessment than I. He thinks we should hold him up to his own standards:
Richard Blumenthal, the attorney general of Connecticut, has a problem. He's running for the U.S. Senate, and he's been caught on video implying falsely that he served in Vietnam. He'd like your understanding as he explains that he simply "misspoke" about his service. He'd like you to give him a break.
But Blumenthal has never given anyone a break. He has made a career out of holding others to the strictest standards of truth--and mercilessly prosecuting them when they fall short.
May he be smacked down in November by Ms. McMahon.
Ron Wyden (D OR) [no, no joke, he's a Democrat from Oregon] is one of the more enlightened Democrats, but he was a good team player and voted for ObamaCare®. With an election looming, he now suggests a "State Mulligan." WSJ Ed Page:
Last week Mr. Wyden sent a letter to Oregon health authority director Bruce Goldberg, encouraging the state to seek a waiver from certain ObamaCare rules so it can "come up with innovative solutions that the Federal government has never had the flexibility or will to implement."
One little-known provision of the bill allows states to opt out of the "requirement that individuals purchase health insurance," Mr. Wyden wrote, and "Because you and I believe that the heart of real health reform is affordability and not mandates, I wanted to bring this feature of Section 1332 to the attention of you and the legislature."
Now, that's news. One of the Democratic Party's leading experts on health care wants his state to dump the individual mandate that is among ObamaCare's core features. The U-turn is especially notable because Mr. Wyden once championed an individual mandate in the bill he sponsored with Utah Republican Bob Bennett. We have differences with Wyden-Bennett, but it was far better than ObamaCare and would have changed incentives by offering more choices to individuals and spurring competition among providers and insurers.
With serious consideration of extending the Bush Tax Cuts, and a key leader deserting ObamaCare®, there is a delicious irony of a party coming to its senses and yet repudiating everything it campaigned on. We're going to keep those "tax cuts for the rich -- that 'drove us into the ditch?'" And that great Health Care victory "well that's okay for the other 49 states."
Next week: Public sector unions are destroying the economy!
No doubt I will run out of these items soon. Surely this won't be a daily feature!
Those wild eyed lib-er-alls at the New York Times take some whacks at Tea Party darling Sharron Angle for avoiding unfriendly press:
Ms. Angle, a Nevada Senate candidate and Tea Party darling, has steadfastly refused to talk to reporters here, leading to some unusually aggressive behavior by local television stations. In a segment fit for TMZ, one intrepid reporter chased her on foot outside a restaurant this month, repeatedly asking why she had once said that “if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies.” She ignored the questioner and tried to outpace him, in a video clip replayed across the state.
My dark thought of the day is that this might be a good strategy. She was weak in the friendly environs of a Larry Kudlow interview last night.
Kudlow started the interview with a softball: what would she do, were she elected, to restore growth. (Hint: lady, this is Larry Kudlow's show, maybe something about lower taxes or less regulation or something...) Ms. Angle gets rabidly partisan: Well, Larry the first thing to do is unseat Harry Reid! He's a job killer, we have 17% unemployment! And...
And Larry breaks in. Yes, but if you win, which might be your first legislative goals?
[Deer in the headlights]
"Repeal ObamaCare!" [Good answer, Would've been better 24 seconds ago, but we can edit that out on YouTube, Show some cute kittens playing with a toy for a while...]
I am being a bit harsh but it was not a good interview. And this was not Katie Couric or Charlie Gibson trying to trip her, this was Larry Kudlow.
I sent her $50 way back when she started. She was a tea party candidate who knocked off a "conventional GOPer" in the primary. Was that a mistake? And how many times did/will this happen this cycle?
I have had this in the back of my mind on occasion, but it was punctuated last night. Watching Kudlow, all the Bulls and Bears were in full agreement that the economy is going to heck in early 2011 when the Bush tax cuts expire. Our beloved nation will be pushed to the very edges of the Laffer curve. I'd add that invoices for the regulatory arm of Obamanomics will start coming due at nearly the same time.
Bad stuff, huh? What else will be happening next January?
Why the new, overwhelmingly Republican, Tea Party, tax cutting, limited government, fiscal responsibility 112th Congress will be installed. The one we've been dreaming of around here. Whom will the media blame for this? Wait a minute, let me think about that a while...
Now, I don't recommend losing -- and there is every chance we night. And there might be some hope that business feels the burden of uncertainty lifted and releases that $1.5 Trillion sidelined on corporate balance sheets. But it is numerically impossible to gain enough seats to fix what's broke. Aren't we in huge danger of being at the wheel when all the tires fly off?
Apologies for the metaphor count and the use of the plural first person, kimosabe. But I’m distraught.
I shall not be supporting the candidacy of iconoclastic blogger Mickey Kaus in California.
It has been a long time since I was this tempted to send money to a "D," but I will, as George Will says about "liberal thoughts," just calm down and wait for it to go away.
I like the Mickster a lot, and though he agrees with the rest of ThreeSourcers on immigration, I see many other things his way. His TV spot was the best I've seen a long time. I sense a surprise between Kaus and Professor Reynolds that Internet fundraising has not exploded for his candidacy.
I hesitate to offer my reaction as majority viewpoint, but this time I think I can. Kaus is running as a Democrat with Republican ideas. This is not an original thought, I have seen Internet comments stating this rather forcefully. But he is asking for my help to beat Barbara Boxer (hey, I said I was tempted), but if he succeeds and gets elected, we'll have -- oh boy! -- another Blue Dog. And howzthatworkinoutforya?
The real story here is that the Blue Dogs again rolled over to abet their liberal party leadership. Early last week the Blue Dogs joined Republican complaints that the original "jobs bill" from Ways and Means Chairman Sander Levin was too expensive at $191 billion. But instead of insisting on spending cuts to pay for unemployment benefits, farm subsidies and corporate welfare, House leaders cleverly split the spending and tax package into two separate bills so the debt totals would look smaller.
One more vote for Dem leadership and one more vote, when they need it, for the worst tax-and-spend policies. Sorry man, I'm sticking with partisan hackery.
George Will introduces us to a Wisconsin GOP Senate Candidate, who might be of interest to ThreeSourcers:
Before what he calls "the jaw- dropping" events of the last 19 months -- TARP, the stimulus, Government Motors, the mistreatment of Chrysler's creditors, ObamaCare, etc. -- the idea of running for office never crossed Ron Johnson's mind.
He was, however, dry tinder -- he calls Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" his "foundational book" -- and now is ablaze, in an understated, upper-Midwestern way. This 55-year-old manufacturer of plastic products from Oshkosh is what the Tea Party looks like.
He gets much of his meat from The Wall Street Journal's opinion pages
And a pro-life Lutheran to boot! Before you weep, jg, read that he wishes "Atlas Shrugged" were longer.
I'm going to claim this as another huge benefit of the TEA Parties. It has been said that "you guys are just yelling and waving signs" but these people and ideas have infiltrated GOP apparatuses
I read Peter Robinson's "It's My Party" a few years ago. He documents the difficulty of recruiting Republican Candidates. He says every Unitarian Minister and school board boss wants to be a Democratic Congressman or Senator, but the good GOP Candidates, like Johnson, can make ten times the money with one-tenth the b******t (sorry, I've been watching Penn & Teller...) in the private sector.
The most satisfying outcome across all parties and ideologies was arguably Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak's comfortable victory over Democrat turned Republican turned Democrat Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Senate primary. In defeating the 80-year-old Mr. Specter, voters showed there is at least some limit to partisan opportunism and thus committed an act of political hygiene. -- WSJ Ed Page
We did it! The Club for Growth PAC defeated big-spending Sen. Bob Bennett today in his bid for renomination by Utah Republicans. It was the first time in Utah history that an incumbent Republican Senator has been denied his party's nomination.
Bennett's defeat also marks the first time the Club's PAC has defeated an incumbent Republican senator. It will set off a political earthquake in Congress.
Bennett's defeat came at the Utah Republican nomination convention this afternoon when Bennett did not even make it to the final ballot, eliminating his chance to run as a Republican for reelection. Under state law, Bennett is also barred from running as an independent.
Bla bla bla, give us some money et cetera et cetera...
WASHINGTON – Rep. David Obey, a leading liberal Democrat and chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, intends to retire at the end of his term this year, Democratic sources said Wednesday. It is another blow to Democrats defending their majority in an election season of voter discontent.
First elected in 1969, the 71-year-old Mr. Obey is one of the House barons who have steered the Democratic Congress to its current level of public esteem. As Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, he turned the stimulus into a 40-year spending wish list that focused on transfer payments like Medicaid and food stamps and created few new jobs.
Mr. Obey has long been more liberal than his northwestern Wisconsin district, which is home to middle-class Catholic deer hunters. He's kept his seat with union support, a populist streak and by outspending opponents, but this year he faced a serious challenge from Sean Duffy, the 38-year-old Ashland County district attorney who has raised more than $500,000. Mr. Obey may be retiring before the voters do him the honor.
Charlie Rangel: "Spiro Agnew of the Democrat Party"
We know that Charlie Rangel cheated on his taxes regarding investment properties in the Dominican Republic. He claimed that he "didn't understand" the tax laws. We also know that he lied to get four rent-restricted properties in NYC. He claimed that he "unaware." Now, we learn that he violated House rules by accepting a corporately-funded trip to the Caribbean. He says that "there is no evidence that he knew" the trips were funded by a corporation, even though his staff did. (Hey, Charlie - who did you think funded it, the Tooth Fairy?) One could call this the "I'm just a dumb-f***" defense. That may be true enough, but it is clear that Rangel and Spiro Agnew are kindred souls.
I watched a few minutes of Good Morning America yesterday. Merciful Zeus! I may need therapy.
They did a story on Rep Patrick Kennedy's announced retirement, then tied it to Senator Chris Dodd's retirement, and others and... And I am screaming at the TV: "Uh, guys, any common theme (or party) connecting these retirements?"
Then the political analyst comes on and assures us that this is not a case of Democrats retiring in the face of a tough year. And then he says that more Republicans are retiring this year than Democrats.
Scuze me? They had a graphic prepared, so it was not a casual slip of the tongue. Am I truly in an Internet bubble where I only get news I want to hear? I tried a little research and found this gem from 2009 on CNN: "The 111th Congress has just barely begun as Senate Republicans brace for more grueling elections in 2010 that threaten to further weaken the party's influence in Congress." This was on the devastating news that George Voinovich (RINO - OH) was retiring. I had missed that. The news truly gets better and better...
Today, Insty links to news that Senator Evan Bayh is stepping down. Sadly, he is my favorite 'D' but I think that opens the door wide for Dan Coats.
Has anybody seen a list? Anybody else heard that there are more GOP retirements?
The departure of Bayh, who was on Barack Obama's short list of vice presidential candidate prospects in 2008, continues a recent exodus from Congress among both Democrats and Republicans, including veteran Democrats Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island.
...then it enumerates four seats that retiring Democrats will have trouble holding. So, it's a bipartisan exodous, it's just not worth noting the Republicans.
Wisconsin's Mr. Duffy describes it this way: "I'm running because this is the fight of my generation. The prior one fought the Cold War, before that it was World War II. But our fight is becoming one for the principles of free markets and against creeping socialism." He's targeting Mr. Obey for writing the $787 billion stimulus, highlighting Democrats' failed economic program. The DA (who is also a professional lumberjack athlete) is crisscrossing the district to warn about rampant spending, Medicare cuts, higher taxes and overregulation.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith announced Tuesday he is switching to the GOP, another blow to Democrats facing a potentially tough midterm election.
Griffith spoke to reporters at his home in northern Alabama, a region that relies heavily on defense and aerospace jobs.
"I believe our nation is at a crossroads and I can no longer align myself with a party that continues to pursue legislation that is bad for our country, hurts our economy, and drives us further and further into debt," Griffith said as his wife Virginia stood by his side.
The 67-year-old radiation oncologist was narrowly elected last year in a district that includes Huntsville and Decatur. President Barack Obama lost badly there to Republican John McCain.
Two Quotes of the Day? At 11:00 Mountain? Boy, this blog is going downhill...
I'm sorry, I tried to be all breezy and cynical about this, but it's time for Democrats to tell Max Baucus that it's time for him to resign. Not because he had an affair with an employee, which doesn't bother me as long as it doesn't bother the employee. But nominating your girlfriend for US Attorney, and then withdrawing the nomination when a paper says they're about to break the story, clearly indicates that you know it's unsavory. Say what you want about Republicans, but they have a much better sense than their opponents of when it's time to grab one of their own and throw him off the sled to the wolves running behind. -- Megan McArdle