Free Markets, Free People
California, of course:
“The California Republican Party is functionally dead. And how is California doing, now that liberals have successfully terminated the state’s remaining conservatives?” #1 in debt, #1 in welfare, #1 in taxing the rich. And hoping for a federal bailout, I suspect. As is Illinois, which is in similar straits for similar reasons. “One-third of all the nation’s welfare recipients live in the state, despite the fact that California has only one-eighth of the country’s population. That’s four times as many as the next-highest welfare population, which is New York. Meanwhile, California eighth-graders finished ahead of only Mississippi and District of Columbia students on reading and math test scores in 2011.”
You can warn people till you’re blue in the face (no pun intended) how the blue state model is going to end up, but sometimes it is instructive to just let it happen. Of course that assumes that those observing the train wreck try to understand how it happened and work to avoid it elsewhere. I’m not so sure that’s the case in this nation. But fair warning, given the fiscal road we’re on California is as much in our future as Greece:
“For a century or so, guided by brilliant private sector leadership, California was a beacon to the world, a land of opportunity such as never had existed in human history. Unimaginable wealth was created. Yet it required only 40 years of liberal governance to bring the whole thing crashing down. Today, California is the most spectacular failure of our time. Its government is broke. Productive citizens have been fleeing for some years now, selling their homes at inflated prices (until recently) and moving to Colorado, Arizona, Texas and even Minnesota, like one of my neighbors. The results of California’s improvident liberalism have been tragically easy to predict: absurd public sector wage and benefit packages, a declining tax base, surging welfare enrollment, falling economic production, ever-increasing deficits. Soon, California politicians will be looking to less glamorous states for bailout money. Things have now devolved to the point where California leads the nation in poverty.”
California is a state which has modeled blue government for decades, despite warning of where it’s continuance would lead.
And, shockingly to the left, it has ended up right where it was predicted it would end up. Yet, they blindly and willfully continue to march along as though the reality will change and economic laws will disprove themselves if they just persist in their actions.
California is our future. Our near future. See, it’s pretty much as simple as this:
If a country runs a deficit (as a percentage of GDP) that is equal to its growth rate, the debt level will remain constant. This year U.S. GDP will be a little less than $16 trillion, and its historical growth rate is 3.25%. That works out to what we might call a “safe” deficit of $520 billion, or even $600 billion if you allow for a little inflation. Last year, however, the U.S. deficit was $1.1 trillion — or roughly $500 billion too much.
That gap could be closed by ending all tax cuts, tax breaks and stimulus payments for everyone, according to the Tax Policy Center. But two-thirds of the burden would fall on the middle class — something both political parties want to avoid. All the proposed tax increases on the wealthy, however, even combined with the end of the payroll-tax cut, would raise only $295 billion. So unless there were spending cuts twice as big as the ones currently scheduled, the deficit would still be too large.
Those sorts of cuts aren’t even being discussed. Imagine, if you would, radical cuts in the size and scope of our current federal government. Imagine subsidies of all sorts being eliminated. Imagine backing government out of many of the areas it has no business. Imagine simplifying the tax code and giving business a warm fuzzy feeling about the business atmosphere by freezing regulation and in some instances rolling them back. Imagine all of that, because none of it is going to be done.
Instead, the solution is to “tax the rich”.
So let ‘em have it (only if they repeal the Hollywood tax cut). Tax the rich. And when it doesn’t work, and it won’t (in fact, I’m not sure what “work” means in this particular case since the amount to be collected is a mere drop in a 1.6 trillion dollar ocean of debt that’s planned each year for the foreseeable future), they’re left with a lot fewer excuses, huh?
Not that they won’t try to point fingers when their grand plan crashes.
Yup, in the end it all looks like we’re headed to California. Apparently we’re going to have to recreate that debacle on a national level before the blinders come off of the public and the realization that you can’t spend more than you have forever finally sinks in.
Whether or not it will too late to salvage the country at that point, remains to be seen.
Obama has strained to make everyone believe he is open to “negotiations” on the tax rates in dispute that are leading us inexorably to this “fiscal cliff” everyone is talking about.
The word “negotiate” implies compromise. You give a little, he gives a little, you reach a deal neither really likes but both can live with.
He has no intention of giving anything. Why should he? He can’t run for a third term. He has nothing to lose if he stands his ground. Nope, the only one’s who have anything to lose in this one are the usual deer-in-the-headlights suspects. And, of course, Obama has someone else to blame:
By taking an absolutist line, he’s basically gambling that Republicans will be more reasonable than he is and will blink. But if they don’t blink and we go over the cliff, from his point of view so what? Mr. Obama then has an excuse to blame Republicans if there’s another recession. Meanwhile, he pockets the higher tax rates that take effect on January 1 anyway, and he can then negotiate a budget deal next year without having to make any tax concessions.
He pleases his left wing for which higher tax rates are a secular religion, while pinning one more defeat on Republicans. Lest you think this is a conservative fantasy, it’s more or less the tax cliff strategy that Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington advocated on Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” and that labor leaders lobbied for at the White House on Tuesday.
So, as we wander toward Taxmageddon, fear not, either way it goes, Obama figures he wins. So why try?
Such that it was. 4 things.
One: There were no ‘hard questions’. If you look at the transcript you’ll note that the President called on reporters by name. You know why, don’t you?
Two: The Susan Rice thing. Let’s do a Candy Crowley and go to the transcript:
But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.
What’s outrageous is he just admitted that he didn’t say that Benghazi was a terrorist act as he asserted in a debate, or, one assumes, Ms. Rice wouldn’t have been spouting the video line. If Obama knew on day two in the Rose Garden that it was a terrorist attack (and the only way he’d know was through intel reports), why didn’t Rice?
What I’m concerned about is not finding ourselves in a situation where the wealthy aren’t paying more or aren’t paying as much they should; middle-class families, one way or another, are making up the difference. That’s the kind of status quo that has been going on here too long, and that’s exactly what I argued against during this campaign. And if there’s — one thing that I’m pretty confident about is the American people understood what they were getting when they gave me this incredible privilege of being in office for another four years. They want compromise. They wanted action. But they also want to make sure that middle-class folks aren’t bearing the entire burden and sacrifice when it comes to some of these big challenges. They expect that folks at the top are doing their fair share as well, and that’s going to be my guiding principle during these negotiations but, more importantly, during the next four years of my administration.
I’m not sure how many times we have to publish the percentage of taxes the top 5%, 2% or 1% pay in comparison with the rest of the population, but in reality, they pay much more than their “fair share”. This isn’t about “fair share’s”. It’s about perpetuating a myth that taxing them more will ease the debt/deficit problem (as Dale has pointed out, it will yield about $42 billion) and give Obama someone to blame if “negotiations” fail. This tax the rich scheme is the reddest of red herrings.
Four: Perputuating the “Big Lie”:
You know, as you know, Mark, we can’t attribute any particular weather event to climate change. What we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago. We do know that the Arctic ice cap is melting faster than was predicted even five years ago. We do know that there have been extraordinarily — there have been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in North America, but also around the globe.
There has been no warming for the past 10 years, Arctic ice is fine, thank you very much, and there have not been an “extraordinarily large number of severe weather events” here. In fact, we’re in a “hurricane drought” per the experts.
The good news, if you believe him, is that climate change will take a back seat to jobs and the economy. How do we measure whether this is more Obama hot air (i.e. saying one thing, doing another) or he means it?
Watch the EPA.
Jackson Diehl takes an interesting look at the Obama doctrine for foreign policy or, as some have called it, “leading from behind”. Diehl prefers to call it the “light footprint” doctrine:
Contrary to the usual Republican narrative, Obama did not lead a U.S. retreat from the world. Instead he sought to pursue the same interests without the same means. He has tried to preserve America’s place as the “indispensable nation” while withdrawing ground troops from war zones, cutting the defense budget, scaling back “nation-building” projects and forswearing U.S.-led interventions.
It’s a strategy that supposes that patient multilateral diplomacy can solve problems like Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability; that drone strikes can do as well at preventing another terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland as do ground forces in Afghanistan; that crises like that of Syria can be left to the U.N. Security Council.
Okay. I really dont’ buy into the claim that Obama hasn’t led a “U.S. retreat from the world”, but I’m willing to stipulate that to get to the rest.
The rest, of course, has to do with the ineffectiveness and potential problems this doctrine presents. And they’re not small problems either. One thing that observers of world affairs seem to pick up on fairly quickly is that someone or something will fill a power vacuum. Say what you want about “light footprints” or “leading from behind”, it has indeed created that sort of vacuum. And other countries, notably Russia and China globally and Iran regionally, are busily trying to figure out how to fill that vacuum.
Perhaps, in the long run, it is best we do withdraw somewhat. Fiscal reality demands at least some reductions and foreign policy is not exempt. But it should be done shrewdly and according to some overall plan that carefully considers the ramifications of such a withdrawal.
Secondly, it likely makes sense not to involve ourselves too deeply in situations that don’t really concern us or threaten our security. Like Libya. It is interesting that Libya was a “go”, but Syria was a “no-go”, considering the stated reasoning (or propaganda if you prefer) for intervention in Libya.
So how has it worked? Well, for a while it seemed to be working well enough – and then:
For the last couple of years, the light footprint worked well enough to allow Obama to turn foreign policy into a talking point for his reelection. But the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 should have been a red flag to all who believe this president has invented a successful new model for U.S. leadership. Far from being an aberration, Benghazi was a toxic byproduct of the light footprint approach — and very likely the first in a series of boomerangs.
Why were Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans murdered by Libyan jihadists? The preliminary round of official investigations may focus on decisions by mid-level officials at the State Department that deprived the Benghazi mission of adequate security, and a failure by the large CIA team in the city to detect the imminent threat from extremist groups.
But ultimately the disaster in Libya derived from Obama’s doctrine. Having been reluctantly dragged by France and Britain into intervening in Libya’s revolution, Obama withdrew U.S. planes from the fight as quickly as possible; when the war ended, the White House insisted that no U.S. forces stay behind. Requests by Libya’s fragile transition government for NATO’s security assistance were answered with an ill-conceived and ultimately failed program to train a few people in Jordan.
Where does that leave us?
A new report by the Rand Corporation concludes that “this lighter-footprint approach has made Libya a test case for a new post-Iraq and Afghanistan model of nation-building.” But the result is that, a year after the death of dictator Moammar Gaddafi, Libya is policed by what amounts to a mess of militias. Its newly elected government has little authority over most of the country’s armed men — much less the capacity to take on the jidhadist forces gathering in and around Benghazi.
The Rand study concludes that stabilizing Libya will require disarming and demobilizing the militias and rebuilding the security forces “from the bottom up.” This, it says, probably can’t happen without help from “those countries that participated in the military intervention” — i.e. the United States, Britain and France. Can the Obama administration duplicate the security-force-building done in Iraq and Afghanistan in Libya while sticking to the light footprint? It’s hard to see how.
It certainly is. In fact, Libya is a disaster. If the purpose of US foreign policy is to enhance the interests of the US I defy anyone to tell me how that has been done in Libya. And now there are rumors we’re going to do the same thing in Mali (mainly because much of the weaponry that the Gaddafi government had has spread across the Middle East after their fall, to include terrorist groups which are now basing out of Mali).
How will the Obama administration answer these challenges? Diehl thinks he’ll rely even more heavily on drone strikes. But again, one has to ask how that furthers and serves the best interests of the United States:
A paper by Robert Chesney of the University of Texas points out that if strikes begin to target countries in North Africa and groups not directly connected to the original al-Qaeda leadership, problems with their legal justification under U.S. and international law “will become increasingly apparent and problematic.” And that doesn’t account for the political fallout: Libyan leaders say U.S. drone strikes would destroy the goodwill America earned by helping the revolution.
Anyone who still believes the myth that we’re better loved in the Middle East right now, needs to give up smoking whatever it is they’re smoking. Adding increased drone strikes in more countries certainly won’t promote “goodwill” toward America. It will, instead, provide jihadists with all the ammunition they need to demonize the country further – which, of course, helps recruiting.
I’m not contending this is easy stuff or there’s a slam-dunk alternate solution. But I am saying that doing what was done in Libya for whatever high sounding reason has been a disaster, has not served the best interests of the United States and, in fact, will most likely be detrimental to its interests.
It is, as Deihl points out, a huge red flag. The doctrine of choice right now is not the doctrine we should be pursuing if the results are like those we’ve gotten in Libya. If ever there was a time for a ‘reset’ in our foreign policy approach, this is it.
The cultural corruption of entitlements should, by now, be well known. But it also is just as well known that our current system incentivizes the “Santa Claus” form of government vs. that of the night watchman. The end state is inevitable. It isn’t a matter of “if” but “when”.
“The more government takes in taxes, the less incentive people have to work. What coal miner or assembly-line worker jumps at the offer of overtime when he knows Uncle Sam is going to take sixty percent or more of his extra pay? Any system that penalizes success and accomplishment is wrong. Any system that discourages work, discourages productivity, discourages economic progress, is wrong.” – Ronald Reagan
You’d think that would be self-evident. Apparently it’s not. And if you doubt that, watch what happens next year as our “leaders” try to figure out how to get us to pay their way out of the mess they’ve made (and for which we’ve never, ever held them accountable).
Two things we now know the President didn’t do. First from CBS:
CBS News has learned that during the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Obama Administration did not convene its top interagency counterterrorism resource: the Counterterrorism Security Group, (CSG).
“The CSG is the one group that’s supposed to know what resources every agency has. They know of multiple options and have the ability to coordinate counterterrorism assets across all the agencies,” a high-ranking government official told CBS News. “They were not allowed to do their job. They were not called upon.”
The second from a former SEAL officer who knows the protocol necessary to launch a rescue from outside Libya:
No administration wants to stumble into a war because a jet jockey in hot pursuit (or a mixed-up SEAL squad in a rubber boat) strays into hostile territory. Because of this, only the president can give the order for our military to cross a nation’s border without that nation’s permission. For the Osama bin Laden mission, President Obama granted CBA for our forces to enter Pakistani airspace.
On the other side of the CBA coin: in order to prevent a military rescue in Benghazi, all the POTUS has to do is not grant cross-border authority. If he does not, the entire rescue mission (already in progress) must stop in its tracks.
So, bottom line – He didn’t convene the CSG which would have been the lead agency to coordinate an attempted rescue from outside the country and he apparently never gave the CBA (which only he can issue) necessary to do so.
Or, in other words, he lied about doing everything necessary to save and protect the lives of those in combat in Libya.
Finally, the cover-up and attempting to deflect the blame:
Leon Panetta is falling on his sword for President Obama with his absurd-on-its-face, “the U.S. military doesn’t do risky things”-defense of his shameful no-rescue policy. Panetta is utterly destroying his reputation. General Dempsey joins Panetta on the same sword with his tacit agreement by silence. But why? How far does loyalty extend when it comes to covering up gross dereliction of duty by the president?
Great question. Don’t expect an answer anytime soon.
But the media is engaged otherwise:
Remember how the media treated Cindy Sheehan (until she was no longer useful?)?
Contrast that with how they’re treating Ty Wood’s dad, Charles.
Kind of makes the point, doesn’t it?
A little humor sometimes does the best job of illustrating absurdity, especially when we’re talking absurd government programs:
For those on the left who still don’t get the economics thing, much less how taxations is supposed to work, perhaps a little “101″ on the taxation part of it will help you onto the road to understanding the rest:
And no, a “Department of Business” won’t help.
A horrifying combination of expiring pro-growth tax policies from 2001 and 2003, the end of the once-temporary payroll tax cut, and just a few of Obamacare’s 18 new tax hikes, Taxmageddon will be the largest tax increase EVER to hit Americans. It’s nearly $500 billion in one year, starting January 1. That’s two months away.
What that means per person:
One result you can count on:
The businesses that would pay the higher tax rates proposed by President Obama earn almost all the income earned by small businesses that employ workers. According to President Obama’s own Treasury Department, these job creators earn 91 percent of the income earned by flow-through employer-businesses. These are the biggest, most successful small businesses. They employ more than half the private workforce, according to an Ernst and Young study. Raising their taxes would destroy more than 700,000 jobs.
Meanwhile the guy in charge? Well he’s got other things on his mind:
It is worth recollecting the array of attacks from the Obama camp that failed to carry the day. Romney’s approval rating is now higher than Obama’s and the Obama team tried portraying Romney as: 1) the “vulture” capitalist; 2) a tax evader and/or a felon for signing (or not signing) Bain documents after he left to run the Olympics; 3) killer of Joe Soptic’s wife; 4) outsourcer of jobs to China; 5) determined to take contraception away from women; 6) ready to give a tax cut to the rich and hike middle-class taxes; 7) egging on the auto industry’s demise; willing to throw granny over the cliff on Medicare; 9) President George W. Bush’s political twin; and 10) Big Bird terminator.
Taxmageddon? Yeah, not so much. Romeny wants that, apparently. No mention of the 18 ObamaCare taxes by our man. Wonder why? Jobs? See result of Taxmageddon. But he’ll tell you he’s focused like a laser beam. Or is that Uncle Joe’s job? Sequestration? What’s that?
He does have a shiny new booklet out that he calls “a plan”. Nothing new, but lots of pictures.
No sweat though … after the 700,000 jobs are destroyed, he’ll talk some more about a “Department of Business”, okay?