July 19, 2016

Larry Kudlow, Omnihawk

My impression of Mr. Kudlow has always been that he is a man of the eastern metropolises - a polite way of calling him erudite, elitist, and dismissive of "cowboy" wisdom. That's not the way his editorial reads to me today.

War Hawk-

So when Donald Trump made it clear that this, in fact, "is war," deserving of a declaration of war, he distinguished himself. No one else has done it. Not Congress. Not Obama. Certainly not Clinton.

Jobs Hawk, Prosperity Hawk and Pence Hawk-

In Indiana, which has been hard hit by manufacturing losses, job declines and shrinking wages, Governor Pence combined tax cuts with spending restraint to spur the Hoosier economy. In this important respect he would be an excellent spokesman within the industrial Rust Belt, which includes Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. These states have all suffered similarly, but they're states where polling suggests Trump could carry the day in November. Pence helps get him there.

GOP Hawk-

Contributing to GOP unity, Pence is a churchgoing evangelical family man. He believes that "the sanctity of human life is the central axiom of Western civilization." In this respect he will be an important bridge to social conservatives. And he might just soften the opposition of the Never Trump movement.

And finally, if not "Trump Hawk," most definitely Trump-Pence Hawk-

So this was a week where we learned a Trump-Pence ticket will seek to declare and wage war to destroy ISIS. We learned that the GOP ticket is pro-growth, ready for tax cuts and deregulation. And we learned that the ticket will be allied with traditional and social conservatives. With these credentials, Trump-Pence is in position to carry states in November that no Republican has won in decades.

It was also a week where Clinton's polls were like stocks looking for a bottom. Trump-Pence is a winner for the GOP.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:33 PM | Comments (2)
But nanobrewer thinks:

Kudlow has his moments, this is one. Must say, that I've followed a few of his stock picks over time. Luckily, I didn't blow any cash on any of his recommendations. I'm sure some have been good, I've only spot-checked him, but color me unimpressed. Another gaudy and cheesy NY'er...

Now, if he can "unbundle" the overwrought, preening and pedantic commentariat over what can help a company, and the economy as a whole, as DJT's economic spokesperson, then we will have taken a small step forward.

Posted by: nanobrewer at July 21, 2016 10:32 AM
But jk thinks:

Kudlow stock picks? He is a buy-and-hold, ETF/index, reinvest your dividends investor, I marveled that CNBC kept him on -- his old Democrat partner, Jim Kramer, was the and the stock picker.

He's an East-coastie. The closest he has been to a firearm is watching "Gunsmoke" on television. But he worked for Reagan in the OMB and has been a tireless advocate for supply-side economics. A lot of his personal friends were in the towers on 9/11, and he has been an indefatigable hawk ever since.

I am still a fan, but I have been disappointed by a lot of people I think should know better. Kudlow is making a quixotic Senate Bid, and I suspect the only enthusiasm a Republican can find in The Nutmeg State is to throw a little red meat at the Trumpians. I don't know.

And, hey, I like Gov. Pence too. I thought that was a solid pick.

Posted by: jk at July 21, 2016 3:36 PM

May 12, 2016

Make Washington D.C. Work Again

Since the Indiana primary, I have been squinting my eyes in search of silver linings in the dark cloud of Trump. I think I see faint outlines, and have attempted to sow optimism both on these pages [3rd and 4th comments] and privately.

One of those faint outlines is fairly well drawn out by Washington Times' Charles Hurt. It is not fair to cherry pick but I think his close is most enticing:

Donald Trump may terrify Democrats and horrify Republicans in Washington. He may be a vulgarian to the professional Beltway punditry that has blithely ignored the devolution of the American dream.

But, looking down from the clouds painted inside the dome of the U.S. Capitol, the founders are smiling and see the first hope in decades for returning power to the people.

[emphasis mine]

By Charles Hurt - - Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Unruly voters have elected an opportunistic showman as their presidential nominee. They were aided by infiltrators in the primary who were not even Republicans.

The nominee, Donald Trump, is a reality star billionaire real estate developer who has a history of vacillating political allegiances. He even made campaign donations to the most evil countess of the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton, who is designed to be her party’s nominee against Mr. Trump.

Into the breach steps Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan, the highest elected Republican in the land. He declares he is not ready — in good conscience — to support his own party’s nominee for president because Mr. Trump has not demonstrated he is a good and principled conservative.

And, once again, the Washington political punditry begins another wildly premature funeral dirge for Mr. Trump’s campaign, the Republican Party’s hold on power in Washington.

Meanwhile, loyal and thoughtful conservative voters who do not care for Mr. Trump’s bombast and harbor justifiable concerns about his devotion to Republican “principles” are despondent.

There goes the White House, they say, the Senate, the House and the Supreme Court. And, with socialist Democrats running amok, there goes the republic and the world’s greatest beacon of hope and freedom.

Or, perhaps we are seeing something entirely different. Maybe this is a rekindling of the finest dreams envisioned by our founders.

In a time of great economic distress with high unemployment and a sluggish economy, a non-ideological businessman is pitted for the presidency against an insufferable and strictly partisan hack who has been an integral cog in the broken political system for three decades.

The businessman will win. And the party hag will be sent off to a long-needed retirement of bitterness and scorn.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans will keep the House and — if they don’t screw it up — keep the Senate.

Yet, with the Supreme Court in the balance, these Republicans in Congress will maintain a skeptical eye down Pennsylvania Avenue at their new leader. They will question his motives and pick apart his proposals.

When his proposals wobble too far from the conservatism they are now vowing to protect, lawmakers can reign him in. If he nominates someone to the Supreme Court who is not worthy to replace the late, great Justice Antonin Scalia, they can reject the nominee.

And the voters will reward them for it! The democratic republic our founders envisioned will be restored!

For too long, both parties have fallen into the deep rut of partisan blindness. On both sides of the aisle, party politics comes before American interests at every turn.

Story Continues →

Continued from page 1

Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have unilaterally surrendered vast amounts of power to the presidency. Congress — the first branch of government closest to the will of the people — as been neutered.

Former President George W. Bush had his Republicans in Congress and President Obama has his Democrats. As a result, Americans have been saddled with a vast expansion of the federal government into every aspect of our personal lives. The debt burden is, literally, unfathomable.

Donald Trump may terrify Democrats and horrify Republicans in Washington. He may be a vulgarian to the professional Beltway punditry that has blithely ignored the devolution of the American dream.

But, looking down from the clouds painted inside the dome of the U.S. Capitol, the founders are smiling and see the first hope in decades for returning power to the people.

• Charles Hurt can be reached at charleshurt@live.com. Follow him on Twitter via @charleshurt.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:42 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

I cannot open that page. One of the ads assaults my browser both on iPad and two different browsers on Windows. I'll take your word, but if I may generalize...

I read many items that suggest a GOP voter should overcome bad personality traits: "Vote for the boorish lout, It's important?" My vote is currently unclaimed because I find his professed policies actually worse than Sec. Clinton's.

Should Sen. Sanders prevail -- and I still find that probability nonzero -- I will vigorously support Trump. Because they are equally bad on trade and Mister Trump is clearly better on domestic policy. Vulgarianism and all.

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2016 9:45 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I meant to warn about the heavy scripting. I'll try to lift the text and paste into the "continue reading."

Yesterday my sister, with the help of Scott Adams, helped me see why Donald appeals to so many, so much more powerfully, than he does to Three Sourcers. It's because he addresses them on an intentionally irrational level. Those of us who look for consistency in principles are listening to a man who speaks a foreign language. (It's not just Donald who does this, by the way, but many, or even most, successful politicians.)

It goes like this.

Posted by: johngalt at May 13, 2016 12:04 PM

October 16, 2013

Open for Redistribution!

After a lengthy "government shutdown" in which the greatest public sacrifices were borne by visitors to America's National Parks, Congress appears poised to "re-open" the federal government. One cannot truthfully say "for business" but for whatever it is that the federal government, particularly the "nonessential" portions of Leviathan, normally does.

I support this "surrender." Important points have been made:

1) Fully 43% of federal civilian employees are non-essential, and could likely be let go, gradually and humanely, of course.

2) Republicans, at least a handful of them, have warned Americans loudly and clearly that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will make most of them worse off than they were before. They are on record as having tried to stop it before it did whatever damage is sure to come.

3) By the way, did we mention that federal government spending is out of control and we really can stop it if enough voters send us enough principled house members in '14? Toward this end, every vote between now and then adds to the ideological war chest in coming primary battles.

Now, fellow Lilliputians, it is time to step back and let Leviathan stumble along his predictable path. There are triplines in place, put there not by the Administration's partisan opponents, but by the selfish interests of millions of Americans. "I work for a living, and I vote."

One point of caution I can think of now is to be prepared to deflect calls by the Administration to "fix" or "rework" or "tweek" Obamacare as a cover for its failings. The proper rebuttal will be, this law is flawed in its premise and must be replaced with a system that delivers cost-effective care as demanded by a customer base that is free to make purchasing choices at the point of care. You know, like iTunes.

Best of all, since the "reopening" is only for 2-3 months, we get to do this all over again soon... with myriad Obamacare horror stories betwixt. What a country!


"I am canceling insurance for us and I am not paying any f**king penalty. What the hell kind of reform is this?

Oh, ok, if we qualify, we can get some government assistance. Great. So now I have to jump through another hoop to just chisel some of this off. And we don't qualify, anyway, so what's the point?"

ht: Terri

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:55 PM | Comments (1)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Shorter version: "Let it burn."

The only downside to all this is that when Obamacare - and one fine day not long after that, Leviathan himself - crashes, there are going to be people on the other side saying that it was doomed because we didn't cede enough authority or enough resources to it. That we tried it only halfway, and didn't go big, and it was the fault of the conservatives. Some - true believers of the left and a large posse of voters with room-temperature IQs - will buy that.

All that being said, we are going to see in our lifetimes Carthage salt itself. That's going to be both historic and spectacular.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 16, 2013 6:38 PM

October 11, 2013

Otequay of the Ayday

Wobbly Republicans should remember why they got into this fight in the first place: to stop ObamaCare. If they cave now, they'll have given up their best chance to spare the country this monumental disaster. -IBD Editorial: Is GOP Caving With Victory at Hand?
Posted by JohnGalt at 4:59 PM | Comments (0)

October 1, 2013

If a government shut down in Washington D.C., would it even make a noise?

It's Shutdown Eve and there's a fun meme trending on Twitter: #ObamaShutdownHitSongs

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:31 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

These are pretty awesome. I retain my sense of humor.

Posted by: jk at October 1, 2013 11:05 AM
But johngalt thinks:

"I, like, big, cuts and I cannot lie." LOL

Did you see my original one, Monty Python inspired? I was actually humming it on my way home, before I ever discovered #ObamaShutdownHitSongs

"I'm a Democrat and I'm Okay, I Sleep All Night and I Fib All Day."

Posted by: johngalt at October 1, 2013 6:39 PM

September 24, 2013

Political Heresy

Ted Cruz's "rule breaking" fillibuster begins.

"Each day I learn what a scoundrel I am," Cruz said of reading media reports that quote Republican lawmakers and aides critical of him. "Most Americans could not give a flying flip about politicians in Washington. Who cares? Most of us are in cheap suits with bad haircuts. Who cares?"
Posted by JohnGalt at 4:43 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2012

What's That Got To Do With The Price of Tape in America?

For five minutes recently, the floor of the US House of Representatives turned into a TEA Party rally. Rep. Mike Kelly (TPD-PA) courtesy of Breitbart.

"But we don't use red tape." "Oh yes we do. It costs one point seven five trillion dollars."

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:42 PM | Comments (4)
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Note to Mitt: Can you please talk like this once in awhile?

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at July 30, 2012 12:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Hmmm, yes that sounds good but aren't we in the electoral phase where he needs to "run to the middle" to achieve a plurality? Not that getting government boots off of employers' necks isn't a winning issue but the POTUS' demeanor needs to be more warm, friendly and reassuring. For example, I would have preferred Mitt to congratulate the British people for "what I'm sure will be a fabulous and memorable Olympics" rather than nitpicking - validity notwithstanding - a failing or two of some organizing committee.

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2012 1:45 PM
But jk thinks:

Wow, I lose the ecletic music title yesterday and today brother jg out-pragmatists me. I'm clearly a worthless appendage on this blog -- oh, wait the hosting fees are due!

Posted by: jk at July 30, 2012 1:56 PM
But johngalt thinks:

On the contrary brother, one of your responsibilities is to keep me grounded in realpolitik. Your cause is aided by two particular single-white-male individuals now interacting with me on a regular basis. Specific identities are unimportant but they don't make thirty-somethings the way they used to. (Or maybe I just don't remember what it was like to be a single 30-something male.)

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2012 4:38 PM

January 23, 2012

Conservatism Won't Sit in the Back of the Bus

The WSJ Ed page analysis of The Gingrich Challenge is 20/20. If Romney can't beat Gingrich he probably can't beat Obama, and if Gingrich doesn't discipline himself, stay on message, and broaden his appeal then he won't succeed either.

The Republican nominee will have to make a sustained and specific case that Mr. Obama's policies made the recovery weaker than it should have been (stimulus, health care), squandered resources on political boondoggles (Solyndra), and how and why GOP policies will do better. Mr. Romney's 59 economic proposals are fine but forgettable little ideas. He needs a big idea.

Gingrich has been talking about these big ideas. However...

Mr. Gingrich will also eventually need a more inclusive message than he is now offering. He made a stab at it in his South Carolina victory remarks by mentioning the strengths of his competitors. His bow to Mr. Paul's "sound money" platform was especially shrewd, but then he kept talking and talking in his familiar undisciplined fashion.


He needs to practice the politics of addition with independents and nonconservatives.

The TEA Party is dead, they say? Not so quick. But remember it's the message, not the messenger, that we will reward.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:50 PM | Comments (1)
But nanobrewer thinks:

Listening to a few of Hugh Hewitt's callers tonight led me to the insight that Newt's biggest appeal is to those who want to see someone who can "Sock it to Him" (so to speak). The dramatic reversal from the polls to the result in SC must have quite a bit to do with his retort over Marianne's interview.

I understand this appeal to conservatives and ... well, hell... anyone with working synapses sick of the abominations that emanate from the chattering class in this Obamanation. Besides, a negative campaign is easier to map out.

Yo', I say, to said synapses: how does this get us the independents? I think it a bad idea to engage in sucker punch campaign with a media-backed, immoral, Chicago politician whose got a $B+ war chest and the executive branch ready and willing to lay mines, false trails and trip wires. So much for easy map-making.

I think we need a more positive message than Newt is able to deliver, and let Obama slink into the gutter.

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 23, 2012 11:41 PM

May 20, 2011

Hoss Nominee

The Post-Clinton (That would be President William J, not his wife) GOP Wave produced some colorful characters. But I am wondering how many of them have reached potential. Speakers Livingstone and Hastert leave a tarnished legacy. Speaker Gingrich's calamitous first weeks as a 2012 candidate do not inspire with the vigor of '94. John Kasich has a good gig as Governor of Ohio. I still think of him highly but wince at his 2000 Presidential run. I was supportting him strongly and he went on at great length in a debate about the importance of the Federal Government placing the Ten Commandments in every Public School classroom. Ow, that still stings.

I am going to suggest Leader Richard Armey as The Hoss of the Class of 1994. Some of his lobbying work did not go down well with the cognoscenti, but a fella has to eat, and the First Amendment is clear on our right to petition the Government.

He was one of the first and the few to embrace the Tea Party movement, coauthoring a manifesto. And he is at it today on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, underlining the importance of choosing a 2012 candidate who supports vigorous entitlement reform:

Instead of throwing grandma off a cliff, we are trying to save grandma's Medicare. The case for reform has gotten stronger since 1995. Spending, borrowing and debt are all far greater problems now. Global bond markets are now openly skeptical of Washington's ability to pay its creditors, as evidenced by Standard & Poor's recent downgrade of U.S. debt from "stable" to "negative." Such a downgrade would make higher borrowing costs and a painful fiscal restructuring likely, unless large spending reductions are enacted soon.

We go into this fight on much better ground than 16 years ago. There was no tea party then. A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that three-fifths of Americans want a balanced budget. And according to a recent FreedomWorks poll, conducted by Luntz Global, 78% of swing-state voters think "no spending should be off-limits," while 88% believe entitlement reform is "urgent and necessary."

Mr. Ryan has bravely started a debate the country needs, putting forth a proposal that fiscally conservative, limited-government reformers can strongly support. If we could improve on his plan in just one respect, it would be to give seniors still more choice and control.

I'll second that emotion, Smokey. I cannot imagine supporting a status quo Republican in 2012.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:26 PM | Comments (0)

April 3, 2008

Now Is The Time

...for all good men to come to the aid of the party. A good friend -- and honest lefty interlocutor -- sends this graphic:


And asks: "What is the real benefit of maintaining a HUGE national debt?"

I respond:

1) I treasure my position as your favorite Republican, but I cannot defend the GOP on spending. They have lost their way. I can’t really handle the loony Libertarians, but if I had a choice for a tight-fisted party, I would take it. I am happy that Senator McCain, my third choice in the primaries, is known for being tough on spending. Senator Lott is retiring and Senator Stevens will soon be in jail – the party might find its small government roots after all. Current Democratic candidates are pursuing far more spending than Presidents Clinton or Carter.

2) To answer your question, there is no benefit to debt, the benefit is the thing you bought with the money. I owe $xxxxxxx on my house and don’t claim my mortgage as my favorite thing in life. But I am pretty happy to have a house and it has been good for me emotionally and financially, well worth carrying manageable debt. (Personal segue, we are giving up on stairs and are moving to a one-floor condo.)

3) President Reagan increased the debt in a Faustian bargain with a Democratic Congress, He told Leader Wright that they could continue with domestic spending if they would fund his war on Communism. The debt shot up, but the Berlin Wall fell ten years later. That is pretty good ROI. President Bush “spent the money” on tax cuts, which are an unalloyed good, and defense, covered in point four.

4) As a general rule, I would suggest that the Republican administrations’ spending tended to be on defense, which enjoys a clear Constitutional purview. I oppose many Democratic programs not for their cost as much as their expansion of the scope and size of government. Again, I cede point #1, President Bush has been no angel. I could have left No Child Left Behind behind and am pretty soft on Medicare Part D.

5) Your graphic is instructive, but I would like to see it with two changes: One, index for inflation -- real debt or better still, showing debt as a percentage of GDP would be more instructive. Bringing back the mortgage analogy, my payments have doubled since I bought my first house but my income has quadrupled; graphing my indebtedness would look worse than your graph but wood not capture significant data. Second, I would color it with sweet gridlock in a pretty mauve, and one-party rule as diarrhea brown. W’s reign has expanded government because he lacked an opposition party. He who governs least governs best in my world.

Anybody else care to take the bait?

Posted by John Kranz at 2:53 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

Bill Clinton raised taxes, the national debt went down. George W Bush cut taxes, the national debt went up. Where's the big mystery?

Meanwhile, Ma and Pa American get to keep more of the money they earned, while their government spends like it knows there will be a Democrat president again someday.

Posted by: johngalt at April 3, 2008 7:59 PM
But jk thinks:

Et tu, jg? President Bush raised record revenues by cutting taxes (not sure how many 'round these parts want to celebrate that, but it is factual). President Clinton raised taxes early, but cut cap gains taxes later on with a little GOP help. I reject your implication that raising taxes is the key to lowering debt.

But I appreciate your reminder that We the People get to keep the money. I have two lefties on the email thread and that matters nothing to them. Nor does Constitutional purview.

Posted by: jk at April 4, 2008 11:35 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I clearly oversimplified, but who wants to read a witty quip that goes into excruciating detail. My point was meant to be that "the National Debt" is not the proper metric for a successful presidency since it only really indicates how flush the government bureaucracy's bank book is. This is typically in inverse proportion to that of America's taxpayers (of all income levels) who actually CREATE the wealth in the first place.

I look at the reflection of this graph in a glassy lake to see the effect that matters to me.

Posted by: johngalt at April 6, 2008 10:00 AM
But jk thinks:

And I’d say you scored with "the reflection of this graph in a glassy lake."

Perhaps it is time for me to admit that the Laffer Curve is a political loser. I believe it, but it is counter-intuitive and easily demagogued. First principles might be a better move.

Posted by: jk at April 6, 2008 4:24 PM

February 26, 2008

Spirit of '94!

Thank you for your reconsideration, Rep. Shadegg:

Politics is so full of stories of pressure groups tearing elected officials down or trying to defeat an idea or bill, it's noteworthy when a large group of activists spontaneously join to try to keep a good person in the public arena. It's even more noteworthy when they succeed.

That's what happened last week when Rep. John Shadegg, a noted conservative from Arizona, reversed his decision of ten days ago to retire from Congress. Instead, he announced he will stand for re-election.

Instrumental in his decision was a letter from 146 of his GOP House colleagues urging him to stay, along with a similar letter from the heads of 33 conservative organizations echoing the need for him to continue to provide a voice for smaller government and individual empowerment. As we noted in PD last Tuesday, his friends in the House especially look to him for leadership on entitlement reform.

But Mr. Shadegg said there other voices that meant as much in his rethinking. Literally thousands of conservative voters contacted his office urging him to stay and fight for their cause. When he arrived at the Phoenix airport at 5:30 one morning last week, a security guard suddenly turned to him and simply said: "Run again." A shocked Mr. Shadegg could only respond: "Thanks."

One advantage of having Mr. Shadegg remain in Congress is his expertise on health care, where he is the lead author of a bill to allow people to purchase individual health care policies across state lines, opening that market to needed competition. Should either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton end up in the White House, you can bet that those fighting a government takeover of health care will be glad to have the Arizonan on their side in that debate. -- John Fund, Political Diary

Posted by John Kranz at 5:06 PM

December 20, 2007

Oh Happy Day!

Rep. Tancredo has dropped out of the GOP Presidential race, Senator Trent Lott has resigned his Senate Seat -- can Sen. Ted Stevens's arraignment be far behind?

Seriously, I thank Tancredo and Lott for their service, but I am happy to be moving on.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:32 PM

January 15, 2007

We Lose a Spending Cutter in the 111st

He's about as flashy as a -- oh wait, I have overloaded my simile generator. Colorado’s Senior Senator did not grab headlines or face time with Chris Matthews, but he racked up an impressive record for cutting taxes and spending.

There was some excitement about whether he would seek another term in 2008, but Andrew Roth at Club for Growth reports that Senator Allard will honor the two-term limit pledge he made to voters in 1996.

Allard, who was re-elected with Club member support in 2002, will be leaving a big hole for fiscal conservatives in the Senate, having compiled a great voting record over the last 10 years. He received a 98% on the Club's 2005 scorecard, while getting eight "A's" and only one "B" on NTU's scorecard.

I volunteered for his campaign in 2002 and am proud of any little thing I did to put him over the top in a close one. There are two years to recruit, but it is almost certain that a Democrat will pick up this seat. The electorate has turned purple at best and the national Democrats and liberal 527s have realized that Colorado is a good value. If you seek to buy an election, the media time and presence in far less expensive than a more populous area.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:19 PM

April 5, 2006

GOP Mojo

The Wall Street Journal Ed Page has some ideas for the GOP "to use the few productive weeks it has left to establish a 2006 record and 2007 agenda that are worthy of re-election."

They, correctly, diagnose the malaise that has spread over the GOP base (cf, ThreeSources) and provide some suggestions which are more appealing than the "we don't suck as bad as the other guys" defense, which is sadly the only one I have got left if Congress doesn't get their WSJ today.

May we suggest a Plan B? How about at least fighting for the agenda that elected them the last time? It's obvious at this stage of the 109th Congress that little will actually become law, especially with Democrats able to filibuster in the Senate. But if Republicans were seen to be fighting for some principles, voters might actually decide it's worth showing up on November 7.

They suggest bold moves on topics all the Republicans around here could agree with: cutting taxes, health care choice, endangered species overreach, congressional reform. Even if they lose in Congress, they provide a reason for the Republicans to show up at he polls.
On election night in 2004, Democratic campaign consultant James Carville asked: Where did all these Republican voters come from? Unless Republicans set a new legislative course over the next seven months, a deposed House Speaker Denny Hastert may soon be wondering: Where did all the Republican voters go?

Posted by John Kranz at 11:28 AM

April 4, 2006

Farewell, Hammer

WSJ.com - DeLay Won't Run for Re-Election:

WASHINGTON -- Succumbing to scandal, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said Tuesday he is resigning from Congress in the face of a tough re-election race, closing out a career that blended unflinching conservatism with a bare-knuckled political style.

Good for him. I imagine he will have a very successful post-Congressional career. And I believe that the party will be better poised for the 2006 midterms without him.

Not disrespecting him, but I also hope that this departure will allow the GOP to recover eh Spirit 0f '94. Leader DeLay, though an effective legislator, has come to stand for the incumbency party we dislike.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:01 PM

March 30, 2006

Death of the conservative GOP?

Tim Chapman

    Last week, Senator Arlen Specter declared the death of a conservative Republican Party. After the Senate approved an amendment he offered to bust the budget by $7 billion for more domestic spending, Specter rejoiced. The Pennsylvania Republican bragged to reporters, “The Republican Party is now principally moderate, if not liberal!”

    Specter’s comments may be truer than many Republicans would like to admit. But conservatives in the Senate have not disappeared. There are some left, like the junior Senator from Nevada, John Ensign.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by AlexC at 12:37 PM | Comments (3)
But LatteSipper thinks:

Mr. Chapman gave a glowing account of Senator Ensign's principled voting record. The following quote from the senator explaining his votes against raising the debt ceiling and the Senate Budget Act is quite refreshing:

"Too many members of Congress are too involved in grabbing what they can for their states or districts without enough emphasis on overall fiscal restraint for the sake of the nation as a whole," Ensign said. "We need to usher in a new era of fiscal sanity. I am not willing to subject my children and grandchildren to the level of debt that Congress has created."

While enumerating the Republicans who voted against the raising of the debt ceiling, an editorial in the Washington Times on March 19th (http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20060318-101313-5792r.htm) appears to challenge the sincerity of Senator Ensign's vote:

"In a genuinely sincere vote, buttressed by his eight years of opposition to congressional and presidential overspending, Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn opposed it as well. Two other Republicans -- Conrad Burns and John Ensign, both of whom are up for re-election and both of whom voted for the pork-infested transportation bill last year -- also voted against raising the debt ceiling."

Was last year's transportation bill one of those complex ones where the good aspects outweighed the bad, was the senator just going along with the herd, or was it a vote to bring home the transportation bacon to Nevada? (I haven't researched any of the specifics such as Nevada's chunk of the pie.)

Posted by: LatteSipper at March 30, 2006 6:05 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Oddly enough, Howard "Yarrgh!" Dean was on Michael Smerconish's show this AM, sounding fairly centralist on hot-button issues like immigration and the Dubia-ous port deal.


Posted by: TrekMedic251 at March 30, 2006 8:43 PM
But AlexC thinks:

There was a lot of fiscal cowardice on the highway bill. You will be hard pressed to find any supporters around here.

Posted by: AlexC at March 31, 2006 12:29 PM

March 7, 2006

Spirit of '06?

Brendan Miniter of the WSJ thinks that (free link) the retirement of House Ways & Means Committee Chair Bill Thomas provides another opportunity to distance the party from the DeLay era and recapture the spirit of '94.

House Republicans have already elected a new majority leader--John Boehner of Ohio--this year, so it is encouraging to see that they will also have a debate over taxes, spending and entitlements as they pick a new Ways and Means chairman. Holding onto the majority in Congress will require the party to return to its limited-government principles by developing new policy ideas to tackle pressing fiscal problems. That means bold ideas for big problems, like the impending insolvency of Social Security.

Today the former majority leader and once seemingly invincible Tom DeLay faces a primary election in Texas in which he may not win a majority of the vote. If that happens he will face the embarrassment of a runoff election in April. This is a harbinger for Republicans if they do not make a sharp break from the DeLay era.

Both the leading candidates come across well in this piece.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:41 PM

February 18, 2006

The Spirit of '94

From Mr. Speaker himself. The WSJ has an interview (free site!) with Speaker Gingrich.

"Do I think it's possible to offer a Social Security plan for people under 40 years of age in a positive savings account model that you could pass? Yes. Do I think it's possible to make it so complicated, so impossible to understand that you can't build any momentum for it? Yes." Then the wrap up (after a digression into football): "Let me be quite clear. I don't think 2005 was a good year for Republicans. I'd like to not repeat it. So I'm for doing things differently."

Was 1995 a good year for Republicans? I ask, a little timidly, leaning farther back in my tippy chair. It was the year Mr. Gingrich was sworn in as speaker to much euphoria on the right. But it ended with a rout by President Clinton in a budget standoff that shut down the government and, in the standard telling at least, left the Republicans in Congress looking a little bit like antigovernment extremists.

The response is sharp. "Yeah, it was a great year. It set the stage for us to balance the federal budget, reform welfare, cut taxes, strengthen defense and get re-elected for the first time since 1928." And the budget showdown? "I've never said publicly we lost that. The news media said it." True, but . . . does that mean he doesn't think it was a defeat? "Let me go back and try again. We were the first re-elected majority since 1928." That again! "Why is that a defeat?"

I was a big fan of the Speaker, watching his Pepperdine lectures and enjoying his problem solving and enthusiasm.

Oddly enough, I cannot get excited about a 2008 run. There's nothing in the piece with which I disagree but I do not see him as the man for the times.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:48 PM

February 12, 2006

Boehner Bribed to be Republican!

Pretty serious charges against the new GOP leadership over at TNR. Kim Clark pens a piece called "Loan Shark" which alleges that the new GOP leader is in thrall to lobbyists just like his predecessor.

Now, I was a Shadegg man, and would have preferred somebody with zero ties to lobbyists, but I don't know that Diogenes could find such a man in Congress.

Clark offers evidence. It seems Rep. Boehner has collected contributions from the higher-education-lending industry. And -- dang it all -- the new bill out of the House has provisions that would be favorable to....REPUBLICANS!

The platitudes apparently resonated. Boehner won. But anyone wanting proof that Boehner is no reformer need only look at the changes to federal student-loan programs that he just helped push through Congress as part of this year's budget reconciliation bill. The alterations reduce government subsidies for student loans by $13 billion over the next five years. One of the key provisions: higher fixed interest rates that will increase the payments of students and their parents by hundreds of dollars a year.

Not subsidizing the interest rate? You think he just hates kids, but Clark knows it is based in graft and corruption
[...] more than half a million dollars went to just two men: the chairmen of the subcommittee and committee that handled the changes to the student-loan program. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon of Santa Clarita, California, chairman of the Twenty-First Century Competitiveness Subcommittee, collected the most: $262,000. Boehner, who headed the House Education and the Workforce Committee until stepping down to assume his new leadership post, came in a close second with $236,000. Sallie Mae, the nation's largest educational lender, has been the single biggest donor to Boehner's PAC since 1989, contributing a total of $122,000, according to CRP data.

Of course, many of the provisions were not favorable to the lenders, but where there's smoke there's fire! Why, President Clinton had a perfectly good program that took over all the application, risk and administration -- just have the gub'mint do it, they're very good at borrowing money.
Congress could have achieved the same or even greater savings without forcing already financially pressed students and their families to shoulder even more debt had it been willing to take some business away from Sallie Mae and other lenders. Congress could have expanded a Clinton-era program in which schools forward loan applications directly to the federal government, rather than to middlemen. Several GAO and CBO studies have found that the direct-lending program costs taxpayers much less than extending loans through lenders like Sallie Mae. Government watchdogs have estimated that every dollar loaned through these middlemen costs the federal government at least 9 cents. The government, of course, can borrow more cheaply than businesses can. And it doesn't have to pay investors dividends or CEOs eight-figure pay packages like the $95 million taken home from 2000 to 2004 by Sallie Mae Chairman and former CEO Albert Lord.

So let me get this straight. A Republican adjusts a Federal program to have less involvement, pushing more administration and risk to the private sector, and setting a realistic interest rate for those who choose the program. And TNR sees this as proof of corruption.

It's going to be a long election cycle. If the Democrats want some free advice from jk -- as wrong as they are on this -- this is a good issue. Give away the store on student subsidies. The soccer moms will swoon and the moderates will see it as "a good investment in our nation." Only stingy old cruel weasels like me will point out that the private sector could likely do it better. And there is not a plurality of me. This is a winner.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:37 PM | Comments (2)
But AlexC thinks:

Just like slowing the growth of government spending is a "budget cut" so are curbing subsidies "raising interest rates"

Posted by: AlexC at February 12, 2006 5:33 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I have never understood the details of student loans but they have always seemed a bit screwy to me. I would think that interest rate would be based on risk, yet unless I am wrong, the federal government guarantees the loans. Does any of this pushing of risk to the private sector include changes to the federal guarantee program?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 16, 2006 12:41 AM

February 3, 2006

VT - Senate

Here's the inaugural Spirit of '94 post.

Richard Tarrant of Vermont is running for Senator Jim Jefford's seat.

    Richard Tarrant's campaign Web site flashes a running tally of the national debt as a protest, he says, of the ``borrow-and-spend Republicans'' in Washington.

    Tarrant is a Republican. He's also a candidate for Vermont's open U.S. Senate seat and among a group of party insurgents who want Republicans to reconcile their stated philosophy of fiscal restraint with the spending binge they've led over the past five years. The debt ticker is at $8.199 trillion and counting.

In a sick way, I've got to hand it to the Democrats. At least the Democrats are honest about the federal budget. They want more of our money and they want to spend it. The Republicans lately have not been so honest. The GOP's line is something like "we want less of your money, and we'll spend less too." Unfortunately it's not like that in practice.
    "Fiscal responsibility is part of our Republican culture," said Tarrant, a 63-year-old millionaire who co-founded Burlington, Vermont-based software company IDX Systems Corp. "Any time we go away from that, I want to distance myself.''

Hear hear!
    That Tarrant, who is vying to replace independent Senator James Jeffords, and lawmakers such as Representative Mike Pence and Senator John McCain are running hard on an issue that once was a cornerstone of the party platform illustrates the dilemma that the Republicans face before the November election to decide control of Congress.

Finally... some movement. It's too bad that Mike Pence was uninterested in the House Leadership race, but I heard his name mentioned for the '08 Presidential Race.

As for Senator McCain, he has a really long road to hoe to get back in the good graces of many Republicans and even moreso with Republican activists (the primary voting types) over his Campaign Finance Reform law.

Let's hope that there are more Republicans out there willing to run on fiscal discipline and restraint.

Posted by AlexC at 12:11 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Like my Laffey vs. Chafee concerns, the odds that a responsible conservative could get elected in a state that sends a Socialist to Congress, put Howard Dean in the Governor's seat, and went for John Kerry over George Bush 59-39% are pretty slim.

Getting rid of Senator Jeffords for *anybody* is a cause for celebration, though!

Posted by: jk at February 4, 2006 1:37 PM