Free Markets, Free People

GOP


Romney wins Iowa … or something

Ok, just being flip, but I’ve never really thought that much of the caucus process and still don’t.  All this excitement, work and rhetoric over approximately 225,000 votes.  Yes I understand the possibility of winnowing the field (think Newt will finally take the hint?).

So Romney won – by 8 votes out of about 225,000 total.  That’s not as surprising to me, frankly, than who came in second.  Very disappointing to the Paulbots, I’m sure.  But Rick Santorum?  Seriously?

And will Huntsman, Bachman, and Perry drop out or hang on through New Hampshire?  After all it’s not that long till NH and again, Iowa is a caucus state.   I don’t see any of the three doing significantly better there than Iowa, but still they may give it a shot.

Cain was beaten by “no preference”.  The only “candidate” missing, as far as I’m concerned, was “none of the above”.  My guess is NOTA had a shot at at least 2nd or 3rd, and who knows, with that field, might of pulled out a win.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


NYT: Dealing with reality by calling the result racist

Perhaps not openly, but certainly more than just by implication.

Here’s the problem as stated in the lede of the NY Times editorial:

Buried in the relatively positive numbers contained in the November jobs report was some very bad news for those who work in the public sector. There were 20,000 government workers laid off last month, by far the largest drop for any sector of the economy, mostly from states, counties and cities.

Oh, my.  So, it would seem that city, county and state governments are finally dealing with the reality of their fiscal condition and, unfortunately, doing what must be done to meet the new reality of limited budgets, right?  It’s about time.  Many of us pointed out that the “stimulus” only put off reality, it didn’t supplant it.   At sometime in the near future (like now) those government entities were going to have to deal with the reality of decreased tax revenues and shrunken budgets.

Well, not according to the NY Times which manages to stretch this into something completely different.  You see, it is a grand plan being pushed by the racist GOP in case you were wondering:

That’s one reason the black unemployment rate went up last month, to 15.5 percent from 15.1. The effect is severe, destabilizing black neighborhoods and making it harder for young people to replicate their parents’ climb up the economic ladder. “The reliance on these jobs has provided African-Americans a path upward,” said Robert Zieger, an emeritus professor of history at the University of Florida. “But it is also a vulnerability.”

Many Republicans, however, don’t regard government jobs as actual jobs, and are eager to see them disappear. Republican governors around the Midwest have aggressively tried to break the power of public unions while slashing their work forces, and Congressional Republicans have proposed paying for a payroll tax cut by reducing federal employment rolls by 10 percent through attrition. That’s 200,000 jobs, many of which would be filled by blacks and Hispanics and others who tend to vote Democratic, and thus are considered politically superfluous.

Wow … in a world of groundless claims, that’s perhaps one of the most groundless I’ve seen.  The case isn’t even cleverly built.  I mean how do you like the claim “many Republicans … don’t regard government jobs as actual jobs”.  Really?  Since when?  As I understand “many Republicans” they support a small and limited government but see this one as an outsized behemoth.  I agree with them.  What they talk about is cutting the size of government. And the intrusiveness of government. That necessarily means cutting jobs.  But they don’t support cutting the size of government because it will make those that are “considered politically superfluous” unemployed.  That’s just race baiting nonsense. They support it because that’s the conservative ideology based in a foundational concept of this nation.

By the way, unlike the NY Times, most people don’t consider the government to be a “jobs program”. Government is a necessary evil not a method of “getting ahead”.  It is there to serve, not provide “a path upward” (although there is nothing wrong with those who’ve been given the opportunity to take advantage of it).  It is there to be just as big as it needs to be and not one bit bigger.  But who or what color those who work in government are is irrelevant … even to the GOP.

Finally, what you most likely won’t hear is the NY Times whining about are any cuts in defense which will see troop strength radically reduced.  Those are good government job cuts too.  And many blacks and Hispanics have chosen that field as “a path upward” too.  But those are jobs they’re fine with being cut.  After all, if they cut more of those they can probably fund the 230,000 new bureaucrats wanted by the EPA to enforce it’s regulations.

How lame is the “racist” argument today?  Well, here’s your latest example.  I’m sure your no more surprised at the source than I am.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Democrats increasingly down on ObamaCare

Very interesting survey concerning ObamaCare.  Kaiser Family Foundation does a monthly tracking poll.  Their October poll yielded some surprise results.  Note that this comes as we have been learning more and more about the details of the ObamaCare law:

  • After remaining roughly evenly split for most of the last year and a half, this month’s tracking poll found more of the public expressing negative views towards the law. In October, about half (51%) say they have an unfavorable view of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), while 34 percent have a favorable view, a low point in Kaiser polls since the law was passed. While Democrats continue to be substantially more supportive of the law than independents or Republicans, the change in favorability this month was driven by waning enthusiasm for the law among Democrats, among whom the share with a favorable view dropped from nearly two-thirds in September to just over half (52%) in October.
  • Americans are more than twice as likely this month to say the law won’t make much difference for them and their families as they are to say they’ll be better off under the law.  Forty-four percent say health reform won’t make much difference to them personally, up from 34 percent in September. Meanwhile 18 percent say they and their families will be better off, down from 27 percent last month. (The share who thinks they’ll be worse off personally held steady at roughly three in ten, where it has been since the law passed in 2010.) Here, too, changes in views among Democrats helped shape the overall change. 

That’s a bit of a sea-change on the Democratic side.

It’s also significant for another reason.  It makes the case for repeal stronger.  While Republicans have always been against it, that’s been fairly easy for Democrats to wave off.  Indies are a little harder to wave off.  But when other Democrats are less supportive of the law, to the point that fewer and fewer have an favorable view of the law, well that makes it increasingly harder for Democrats to justify keeping it.

Something is causing their support to erode and the GOP needs to figure out what it is and use it to make their case.

As election time nears, this is an issue they can use as a secondary one to the economy.  It was unpopular when it passed.  It has remained mostly unpopular and, with this sort of poll, we see the unpopularity expanding into Democratic ranks.  It appears it is something the GOP could get majority consensus on.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


How should the GOP respond to the Obama demand for increased taxes?

I have a pretty good idea, but first, here’s the gist of the demand:

President Obama pressured Republicans on Wednesday to accept higher taxes as part of any plan to pare down the federal deficit, bluntly telling lawmakers that they “need to do their job” and strike a deal before the United States risks defaulting on its debt.

Declaring that an agreement is not possible without painful steps on both sides, Mr. Obama said that his party had already accepted the need for substantial spending cuts in programs it had long championed, and that Republicans must agree to end tax breaks for oil and gas companies, hedge funds and other corporate interests.

So how should the Republicans answer this demand?

Well, as I mentioned in my post about why the GOP should stand firm on declining to raise taxes, the problem isn’t tax revenue.  It is, quite simply, spending.

What the Democrats and Obama will promise you is they’d use any increased revenue brought in by increased taxes to reduce the deficit and debt.  But that is never how it really works and we know that.  It’s like giving an alcoholic another shot – he’s going to drink it.  Revenue isn’t the problem.  Spending is the problem.

So what the GOP must do is say, “Mr. President, when the government has proven that it can indeed cut spending and cut it drastically, and it has done everything it can conceivably do in that regard, if there is a revenue problem at the bottom of it, then we can discuss tax increases.  But until such a time that it is proven – through action, you know actual cuts – that the government has done all it can in the area of spending cuts, there’s nothing further to discuss in terms of tax increases.”

Period.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


GOP–pay attention to this poll

Pay attention to this because it is important:

The portion of Americans who say they believe the U.S. is on the wrong track is higher than it was at any point during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, when unemployment peaked at 10.8 percent after the 1981-82 recession, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll. The ABC poll showed the wrong-track number during Reagan’s first term peaking at 57 percent in October 1982. The Bloomberg poll shows 66 percent of Americans think the U.S. is going in the wrong direction now.

This is the number I continue to talk about because to me it is the truest indication of the mood of the country.  The mood is obviously critical to the re-election, and wrong track polling has consistently indicated the way previous elections are going to go.  There is a threshold that portends bad news for the incumbent, and we’re well past that.  The question is, will it stay there?  The answer seems to be, by all indications and forecasts, yes.

As the public grasps for solutions, the Republican Party is breaking through in the message war on the budget and economy. A majority of Americans say job growth would best be revived with prescriptions favored by the party: cuts in government spending and taxes, the Bloomberg Poll shows. Even 40 percent of Democrats share that view.

This should be something every GOP politician should have tattooed on his or her inner eyelid to help them focus.  Concentrate on the message about the economy – it’s a winner.  Wander off into wedge issues and you give your opponent an opening and a way to distract the public.   If you do that you deserve to lose.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Is a government shut down gaining favor among voters?

Apparently, according to a Rasmussen poll, a majority think a government shutdown would be a good thing if it led to deeper cuts in spending.

I’m not sure how seriously to take this in light of other polls which say Americans want cuts but not to any number of our most expensive entitlements.

That said, let’s look at the numbers in the Rasmussen report.  Again, as far as I’m concerned, the key demographic here is “independents”.  They’re the swing vote in any national election.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of Democrats say avoiding a government shutdown is more important than deeper spending cuts. Seventy-six percent (76%) of Republicans – and 67% of voters not affiliated with either of the major parties – disagree.

That works out to 57% of the total saying that deeper spending cuts are more important than avoiding a government shutdown.

To most that would mean the GOP is on the right track pushing deeper cuts.

Oh, and one little note here, just in passing – all of this could have been avoided if the Democratic Congress had done its job last year and passed a budget.  As it turns out, I’m glad they didn’t because just like the health care bill, I’m sure we’d have been stuck with an expensive monstrosity.  But what’s happening now about “government shutdown” is a direct result of Congressional Democrats not doing their job. 

That said, let’s look at another interpretation of the numbers from Rasmussen.  This one shows the divide between “we the people” and “they the politicians”:

There’s a similar divide between Political Class and Mainstream voters. Fifty-two percent (52%) of the Political Class say avoiding a shutdown is more important than deeper spending cuts. Sixty-five percent (65%) of Mainstream voters put more emphasis on spending cuts.

Seventy-six percent (76%) of Political Class voters say it is better to avoid a shutdown by authorizing spending at a level most Democrats will agree to. Sixty-six percent (66%) of those in the Mainstream would rather see a shutdown until deeper spending cuts can be agreed on.

Most of those in the Political Class (52%) see a shutdown as bad for the economy, but just 38% of Mainstream voters agree.

So … what is it going to be GOP?  Stick with your guns or cave?

BTW, using the Rand Paul “we spend $5 billion a day in government” standard, a shut down sounds like a money saving opportunity doesn’t it.  Call each day a defacto spending cut.  10 days, $50 billion. 
 
I like it.

~McQ


Blue Dogs — might as well support the GOP budget

As mentioned in the previous posts, the Blue Dogs in Congress aren’t feeling the love from minority leader (don’t you love that title) Nancy Pelosi and the crew.  And that may have a beneficial effect for the GOP.

Blue dogs didn’t feel the love of voters last November either, with about half of them going down to defeat after they supported the health care law. Message sent, message received.  Sooo … they’re taking a look at the Republican budget and some are saying (surprise, surprise) it might be something they can support:

Blue Dog Democrats might support a plan from House Republicans to cut $32 billion in discretionary spending this year, a spokesman for the fiscally conservative bloc said Monday.

Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) said the Blue Dogs are waiting to see the details of the proposed GOP cuts before taking a position. The draft legislation from the House Appropriations Committee is due on Thursday.

Now, of course, the GOP doesn’t need a single Democrat in the House to pass the budget.  Just as the Democrats didn’t need a single Republican to pass health care.  But having a “bi-partisan” budget with significant enough Democratic support to call it that (and not snicker) would put more pressure on Democrats elsewhere. 

But the comments from Ross and other Blue Dogs suggest at least some of the coalition’s members are willing to defect from their party and vote for the plan despite the vocal opposition of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). 

Last week Pelosi rejected the GOP plan and said that $32 billion in proposed cuts “will come at the expense of economic growth and American jobs.”

“We must put our fiscal house in order, beginning with an aggressive attack on waste, fraud and abuse; but we must do so without jeopardizing targeted investments that are helping the private sector grow and hire new workers,” Pelosi said.

Got to love it  — “waste, fraud and abuse”, the fall back of those who don’t intend to cut a dime while still talking about cutting spending.  No one ever does anything about “waste, fraud and abuse” except talk about it.  No one.  And If Ms. Pelosi is so fired up about aggressively attacking it, why wasn’t that a priority when she was Speaker?

However the GOP doesn’t get off Scott free either – what happened to the $100 billion in cuts promised prior to the election?  Why $32 billion (one of the questions I plan on asking Paul Ryan if I get the chance)?

Anyway, back to the point at hand – minority leader Pelosi is simply reaping a bit of what she’s sown:

The Blue Dog openness to the GOP comes amid strained relations with Pelosi. On Monday, Blue Dog leader Rep. Heath Shuler (N.C.), who challenged Pelosi for the job of Democratic leader in the 112th Congress, said the coalition has been shut out by the leader’s office.

So, no surprise – the Blue Dogs aren’t liberal enough for the leadership (yes that’s today’s theme).   In fact, they recently met with Bill Clinton to plot a bit of strategy:

The 26-member Blue Dog Coalition met Monday in New York with former President Clinton to discuss ways to move a centrist political agenda through a divided Congress. Clinton advised the group on ways to handle the situation and discussed budget, housing and energy policy, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) said.

“One of the reasons we invited President Clinton was he had to work with Republicans after the ’94 election,” Ross said.

Now you know if that coalition is plotting a “move to a centrist political agenda”, it along with just about everyone else have decided that the “main stream” Democrats are way to the left of them.   And they may find more leverage with the opposing party by being the designated “bi-partisan” validator with some “compromise” from the GOP to include some of their ideas.

And Nancy and the gang?  Out in the cold gobbling on about “waste, fraud and abuse”.  About the only real example of waste, fraud and abuse I’ve seen is the minority leader herself.  A waste of time, a fraud as a representative of the people and an abuse of power all rolled up into one liberal politician.  Can we do away with her?   It will certainly save taxpayers money.

~McQ


Guess who voted against the Senate ban on earmarks?

I assume none of these names will come as a particular surprise to anyone. 8 GOP Senators joined Democrats in voting down a ban on earmarks for the next two-years. They were:

Sens. Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), James Inhofe (Okla.), Dick Lugar (Ind.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Richard Shelby (Ala.) voted against an amendment to food-safety legislation that would have enacted a two-year ban on the spending items. Retiring Sen. George Voinovich (Ohio) and defeated Sen. Bob Bennett (Utah) also voted against it.

Of the 8, only one – Dick Lugar – faces reelection in 2012.

As has been said by many, the ban on earmarks is mostly symbolic since the amount of funds earmarked each year are a veritable drop in the ocean compared to the rest of the federal budget. But the symbolism of members of the Senate foregoing a spending tradition dear to incumbents to emphasize that government in all areas must cut back on its spending would have been a powerful one indeed. Instead

Instead, the usual suspects decided that midnight drop-in earmarks unvoted upon or debated, are absolutely critical to the functioning of the federal government and funding projects in their state.

Of course, somewhere in the next few years, all 8 of them will “go on the record” about wasteful spending.  They’ll also claim we must cut spending in all areas of government.

But when given the opportunity to put their words into action – well, there are the results.

~McQ


Earmark ban–you have to start somewhere

It is easy to be cynical about politics today, especially for long-time observers.  Years of watching fingers carefully placed in the political wind to determine its direction has given those watching the process a decided and well earned reason for cynicism. 

But that has to be leavened somewhat with the understanding of how this political process works, why the incentives it offers is one of the main reasons it is broken, and then applaud actions which  – no matter how seemingly small or insignificant they are – work toward changing those incentives in a meaningful way.

It has been said by many that “earmarks” are both trivial and insignificant when it comes to the budget deficit.  They’re barely 1% of the budget.  We’re told they’re no big thing in world of trillion dollar deficits.

Yes they are significant.  For many reasons.  Most obvious among them is they’re part of that incentive system that encourages profligacy and waste.  As one wag pointed out, they’re the Congressional “gateway drug” for profligacy and waste on a much grander scale.

Secondly while it is easy to waive away “1%” of the budget as “insignificant”, you have to ask, “is it really?”  Certainly in terms relative to a 2.8 trillion dollar budget, a few billion dollars doesn’t seem like much.  But it is

We know – all of us, even the left – that we must cut spending.  Period.  There’s no argument about that.  The argument is where we cut.  And how much.  Cutting 1% of spending wrapped up in earmarks should be a “no-brainer”.  It is a good first step.  If you’re going to say to the country, “we’ve all got to cut back”, what better way – speaking of leadership – is there to make the point than to cut out spending that is advantageous to you politically.

That’s certainly the case with earmarks and has been for decades.  It is the Congressional method of using tax dollars to help ensure a high return of incumbents on election day.  So the symbolism involved in cutting them out is important.  Especially, as I noted, when the country is going to be asked to take cuts in things which they find advantageous to themselves.

That all brings me to Sen. Mitch McConnell essentially reversing himself and signing on to the earmark ban.  I’m cautiously optimistic that the GOP leadership is actually beginning to get the message that I think was transmitted loud and clear on November 2nd.   Said McConnell:

“What I’ve concluded is that on the issue of congressional earmarks, as the leader of my party in the Senate, I have to lead first by example,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “Nearly every day that the Senate’s been in session for the past two years, I have come down to this spot and said that Democrats are ignoring the wishes of the American people. When it comes to earmarks, I won’t be guilty of the same thing.” 

Good. What I’m not going to do is look this particular gift horse in the mouth and try to determine whether it is a cynical political ploy or genuine. I’m simply going to take it at face value and put a plus next to earmark reform. I’ll take McConnell at his word and demand that he now be consistent in applying the same received message to areas of spending that will indeed make a huge difference.  Or said another way, I appreciate the sentiment and the symbolism of the earmark ban, but that doesn’t satisfy me or anyone else.  It just indicates some seriousness and willingness to do what is necessary to rein in the government’s spending.  While appreciated, it in no way means anything much more than that.

McConnell acknowledges the “wishes of the American people”.  Those wishes were clearly expressed as a much smaller, much less costly and intrusive federal government.  Banning earmarks is as good a place to start as any.  But the serious work of cutting government down to size must continue immediately after the ban is in effect.  The electoral gods will have no mercy on the GOP in 2012 if the American people don’t see a concerted effort by the party toward that goal.

~McQ


New York Times suddenly discovers governing as a priority for new GOP majority

A New York Times editorial is all over the place today in its hysterical concern that Republicans are going to spend all their time investigating what Democrats have been doing these past 2 years. Let me say upfront that while there are certainly things which need investigation, the GOP can indeed hurt themselves if the investigations seem to be excessive or perceived to be "witch hunts". However, perhaps the most interesting part of the editorial is its title, an obvious shot directed at the GOP’s supposed preference for investigating over what the NYT feels is its real job – "Try Something Hard: Governing".

Funny – I don’t remember the NYT admonishing Congressional Democrats or the administration to do that when the obvious focus of both should have been jobs and the economy and not a horrific health care bill.

Also understand the premise the NYT tries to advance here. Using a Darrell Issa quote, "I want seven hearings a week times 40 weeks", they attempt to imply that’s all Republicans will be doing. That will hardly be the case.

Then we’re treated to absurdities like this:

This combativeness from the new House majority is an early symptom of its preference for politicking over the tougher job of governing in hard times. Its plans already feature the low cunning of snipping budget lines so the Internal Revenue Service cannot enforce key provisions of the health care reform law. (Why not defund Postal Service document deliverers while they’re at it?)

Why not – while the NYT calls it "low cunning", it is indeed a method by which the legislative chamber "governs". The NYT and similar media voices seemed to understand that when Democrats in Congress threatened to defund the war in Iraq. Now it’s "a feature of low cunning". A cry to govern by the NYT with a follow up criticism of doing so by the means the House is able to employ.  Absurd. 

Regulation?  Well, last time I looked it was Congress who decided what regulations were and agencies who enforced them as the law provided by Congress said.  Apparently that’s not the case anymore per the NYT:

The new majority will showcase hearings devoted to what Representative Fred Upton, the ranking Republican on the energy committee, called a “war on the regulatory state.” What he means by that is the Environmental Protection Agency’s daring to accept scientific evidence that human activity is driving global warming. Similar hearings, rooted in the vindictive rhetoric of the 2010 campaign, are likely for the new consumer protection bureau, immigration enforcement, and more.

How 2008 of the NYT to claim the EPA is accepting “scientific evidence” in its drive to regulate CO2.  Obviously the carrier pigeon hasn’t made it to the Grey Lady yet that says not only is the “science” not settled, it is in total disarray and largely discredited.  More importantly it isn’t up to the EPA to decided what science it is or isn’t going to accept.  Its job is to enforce the law as it is written and amended by Congress.  And to this point, there’s nothing in the law which allows the EPA the power or authority they are attempting to assume.  What the Republican Congress wants to do is make that abundantly clear to the bureaucrats there.  That’s governing.  That’s oversight.

The same for the activist who has been named to the Consumer Protection Agency – the job there is to enforce existing law, not make it up as you go or enforce it arbitrarily according to an ideological agenda.  And of course, immigration “enforcement”, which is again being arbitrarily applied by the bureaucrats as they see fit vs. applying it as the law demands, is in the same boat. 

Reining in the bureaucracies as they attempt to overstep their bounds time and time again is “governing”.  It is “oversight”.  And those are two jobs the Democratic Congress has done poorly if at all as witnessed by the examples I’ve given.  And there are plenty more.

The Times acknowledges, even after its ignorant tirade above, that it is the job of Congress to oversee how the laws it has passed are implemented and followed.  And that it also has a duty to oversee the executive branch.

In principle, Congress’s oversight of the executive branch can be a vital necessity. Politically, however, both parties push its limits from time to time. Now is no time for myriad searches for sensational distractions when the nation’s voters cry out for solid progress.

This is the only worthwhile paragraph in the entire NYT editorial.  If taken alone, it speaks perfect sense.  When taken in the context of the rest of the editorial, it is a pitch for no investigations, since it is obvious that while the Times is pretending to call on the GOP House to “govern” it really doesn’t want it doing anything in that area which may point to administration malpractice or malfeasance or allowing executive agencies to interpret law as it sees fit instead of as it is written.

Tough cookies.  To paraphrase Barack Obama – “they won”.

~McQ

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