Free Markets, Free People

Nancy Pelosi

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

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Quote of the Day–Nancy Pelosi’s final lie edition

Seriously, this is just a shameless lie.  Nancy Pelosi at her final news conference as Speaker of the House summing up the House’s priorities under he leadership:

"Deficit reduction has been a high priority for us. It is our mantra, pay-as-you-go."

No. It hasn’t.

When the Pelosi Democrats took control of Congress on January 4, 2007, the national debt stood at $8,670,596,242,973.04. The last day of the 111th Congress and Pelosi’s Speakership on December 22, 2010 the national debt was $13,858,529,371,601.09 – a roughly $5.2 trillion increase in just four years. Furthermore, the year over year federal deficit has roughly quadrupled during Pelosi’s four years as speaker, from $342 billion in fiscal year 2007 to an estimated $1.6 trillion at the end of fiscal year 2010.

~McQ

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The major “accomplishment” of the 111th Congress

While Democrats hail this Congressional session as a huge success (again, it really depends on how you define “success” doesn’t it?), there’s one “accomplishment” they’ll be trying to ignore.  Doug Mataconis gives us the numbers:

According to the United States Treasury, the National Debt on that day was $8,670,596,242,973.04. As of December 24th, it was $13,866,145,290,604.69. That’s $5,195,549,047,631.65 in new deficit spending in over just under four years.

Nice, huh?

Over 5 trillion dollars.  Roll that around on your tongue – 5 trillion in new debt in 4 years.  That’s more debt added than any other Congress in the history of our country and more than all of the first 100 combined.

The previous record holding Congress?  The 110th at $1.92 trillion, also a Democratic Congress presided over by Pelosi.  Oh and remember Ms. Pelosi’s pledge (the other one, not the “most ethical” Congress in history pledge) as she took the office of Speaker of the House?

“After years of historic deficits, this 110th Congress will commit itself to a higher standard: Pay as you go, no new deficit spending,” she said in an address from the speaker’s podium. “Our new America will provide unlimited opportunity for future generations, not burden them with mountains of debt.”

Another in a long line of political lies.  And yes, I consider this a lie since Pelosi and gang had absolutely no intention of following that pledge – none.  It was a pure and unadulterated falsehood.  Two Congressional sessions and 5 trillion dollars later, it’s clear how much of a falsehood it really was.

The cost?  Now will cost every man, woman and child in America is on the hook for $44,886.57 each. 

Meanwhile Obama, et. al, are touting this as the “Season of Progress”.

Progress toward the poor house maybe.

The GOP better get to work on day one, because we can’t afford the Democrats.  They’ve had their run and look at the mountain of debt they’ve accumulated.

Thanks a trillion, Madam Speaker.

~McQ

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Debt Commission–harsh medicine?

The chairs of the Obama Debt Commission – charged with putting a blueprint together to reduce the deficit and put the government’s finances on sound footing – have released their preliminary recommendations.   And their recommendations are, as most who have monitored this situation should know, harsh.  Of course they must be – because the government has spent itself into a position where harsh and drastic measures are both necessary and called for.

Expect those that compose much of that government, at least on the left, find such austerity “unacceptable” in the words of Nancy Pelosi (whose PAYGO has been so instrumental in preventing this situation from being worse /sarc).  Before we get into the recommendations, let’s get one thing clear:

Those changes and others, none of which would take effect before 2012 to avoid undermining the tepid economic recovery, would erase nearly $4 trillion from projected deficits through 2020, the proposal says, and stabilize the accumulated debt.

That’s $4 trillion from a projected $10+ trillion in projected deficit spending over the next 8 years.  So we’re still talking about years of deficit spending.  And not one dollar will come off the debt – it will only “stabilize” it.

The point is that if doing what is necessary to cut the deficit spending of the next 10 years by 40% is “unacceptable”, imagine what any solution given to tackle the debt will be.  Paul Krugman calls the recommendations “unserious”. 

Really?  Is there anyone out there who doesn’t understand that there is absolutely nothing “unserious” about the problems we face or the fact that to solve them drastic spending cuts are necessary?   Krugman is apparently incensed that the recommendations involve 75% spending cuts and 25% tax increases (the tax increases are essentially the elimination of deductions, the lowering of taxes across the board and the broadening of the tax base).

But how in the world do you stop deficit spending if you don’t drastically cut spending itself?

The commission chairs recommend cuts or changes is all areas – entitlements, defense, non-discretionary spending, discretionary spending.  Some thing sure not to please anyone.   For instance, they recommend raising the retirement age on Social Security for future retirees, as well as cutting benefit increases.  In defense, their goal is 100 billion in cuts.  As I’ve said before, defense cuts can be made and should.  Just so it is fat and not muscle that goes.

The plan is harsh medicine for the minority that believe that government is the answer to everything.  And, as you’ll see (just watch) they will fight these recommendations tooth and nail.  Republicans, on the other hand, have reacted cautiously.  I’m not sure why.  They’ve talked about cuts in spending and simplifying the tax code for years.  Here’s a commission talking about both and recommending they be done.

Politics, fingers in the wind, and ideology begin to emerge.  What the chairmen have done is taken the discussion from a nebulous “we’d like to see spending cuts” to “put up or shut up” with specific recommendations.

It is going to be instructive to see how both parties and the president react.  It is the latter, in particular, I’m interested in watching:

Mr. Obama created the commission last February in the hope it would provide political cover for bold action against deficits in 2011. His stance now, in the wake of his party’s drubbing, will go a long way toward telling whether he tacks to the political center — by embracing such proposals — or shifts to the left and leaves them on a shelf.

Anyone – who votes for “leaves them on the shelf?”

~McQ

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Pelosi’s propaganda piece

If you’ve ever wondered what pure “spin” looks like, you have as your most current example an article under Nancy Pelosi’s name in USA Today.  It is a marvel of context free and, frankly, fact free verbiage designed to do nothing more than paint an alternate picture of reality.  It is an attempt to effect how history will be written.  And it is laughable on its face.

Essentially what Pelosi does is provide a list of discredited Democrat talking points in essay form, never once acknowledging that most if not all have been debunked, shown to be untrue or simply a figment of very fertile imaginations.

My favorite part is where the soon to be minority leader, if that, finally lays out the welcome mat for Republicans – after 6 years of all but shutting them out of the Congressional process.

And, in the running for the most appalling lie among many is this line included after Pelosi lists the “accomplishments” of the 111th Congress:

And we did all of this while restoring fiscal discipline to the Congress by making the pay-as-you-go rules the law of the land.

Good lord.  An estimated 6 trillion in further debt heaped upon the country during her watch and she has the audacity to play the PAYGO card?  This and the previous Congress under Democratic rule have been the most profligate in our history.  And Ms. Pelosi attempts to say everything has been paid for?  

Democrats – if you keep this person in your leadership after her 4 years as the Speaker what little is left of your tattered credibility is as good as gone.  She is divisive, extreme, partisan to a fault and the perfect leader to ensure you don’t see a majority in the House again for a decade or so.  She is the gift that keeps on giving for the GOP.

~McQ

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It’s the voters, not us …

In another variation of the “it’s not the message, it’s the delivery”, Nancy Pelosi has informed the world that, “we haven’t really gotten the credit for what we have done”. 

Well Ms. Pelosi, you will get all the credit you deserve on November 2nd.

Pelosi’s remarks reflect a growing trend of frustration expressed by Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill and at the White House. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said last week that Democrats’ biggest failure in this election has been not to adequately sell their accomplishments to voters …

You simply cannot be any more disconnected than this.  3 trillion in debt, almost 10% unemployment and the Democrats 18 month priority?  A monstrosity of a healthcare bill that will increase the deficit.

Another note to Ms. Pelosi – it’s hard to grab “credit for what you’ve done” when every single candidate out there is running away from those “accomplishments”.    Nope – what they’ve “done” is exactly what they’ll be receiving credit for on election day.

By the way, Ms. Pelosi – PAYGO has been a raging success, hasn’t it?

~McQ

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Indies say Dem leadership too extreme

As we near the mid-term elections and people start paying attention (and early voting begins), we’re naturally seeing some tightening of the races.  However, one thing that hasn’t been tightening, per many polls, is independents going for the Democrats.

Anyone who has watched elections over the years knows full well that indies are the swing vote that, for the most part, determine the outcome of most elections.  Some refer to them as the mushy middle.  Others see them as voters truly independent of the 2 party system and not satisfied with either.  And during each election, they pick the side which best represents the direction they’d prefer to see the country go on the often mistaken assumption that the winner will head that way.

All that being said, keep in mind as you hear stories about tightening races that one thing that hasn’t been tightening is the Democratic hold on independent voters – at least not in this election cycle.  Why? 

Remember, this is a Congressional election and as much as the GOP might like it to be a referendum on Obama (and to some degree it will be) it’s mostly about the Congress we have.  Indies aren’t very enamored with it or its leadership (Nancy Pelosi is at 29% and Harry Reid is lower).  A new poll makes the point:

The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll found that 61 percent of likely independent voters in 10 battleground House districts — a critical swing demographic — think the leadership under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is more liberal than they are.

[…]

“That’s a very significant finding that tells you where independents are likely to go,” said Mark Penn, president of Penn Schoen Berland, which conducted the poll. “In terms of independents, Reid and Pelosi are viewed as out of step.”

And that feeling is likely to effect the independent vote, because it is strictly a numbers game that keeps the leadership in place.  Change the numbers, i.e. vote for the other party’s candidate, and if the change is large enough, you change the leadership.  Pelosi’s the most likely to lose her leadership job (and, rumor has it that even if Dems somehow hold on to the House, she may not be Speaker), but if Reid manages a win in Nevada, his power in the Senate may be neutralized by GOP gains in that chamber.

I got a bit of a chuckle with this quote:

“The inability to define Boehner and McConnell as out of touch with mainstream values was a strategic failure of the Democrats in the election,” said Simon Rosenberg, a veteran of the 1992 Clinton war room and president of NDN, a center-left think tank and advocacy group.

“The Democrats have done a bad job this election cycle defining the Republican Party as out of touch with American values,” he said.

It is hard to define the other side as “out of touch with American values” when the Democrats were proving every day and in every way how out of touch they were.  The GOP does indeed have it’s ‘out of touch’ problems, but they’re insignificant in comparison (at least at the moment) to the Democrats.

For instance:

Jim Kessler, vice president for policy at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank, said many Democrats have played into the Republican strategy by attacking business.

“A lot of the Democrats are resorting to economic populism, and the polling shows that voters aren’t buying it,” he said. “ ‘Corporate America’ is a Washington term. Outside Washington, that’s business and the people who employ you.”

The anti-business, government union party – is that really how the Democrats want to be identified?  Is it any wonder independents are deserting them in droves?

~McQ

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Charlie Cook – November wave will sweep Democrats out of House

There are polls and then there is Charlie Cook – probably one of the most respected of Democratic election analysts. And he’s earned that respect by being one of the most accurate Democratic election analysts in the past. As the Wall Street Journal notes, Cook and his staff probably spend more time analyzing individual House and Senate races than anyone in the business.

And Charlie Cook says Nov. 2nd looks bleak for House Democrats.  The GOP needs a minimum of 39 seats to take back the House.  Cook says that the range he predicts is a gain of 35-45 seats with the chances of reaching the high side much greater than reaching just the low side.

He points to 53 seats as key since these were seats held by Republicans just 4 years ago.

In the Senate, the chances of the GOP taking control are much less probable.  They’d have to take 16 of 18 contested seats and that’s probably an electoral “bridge too far”.

So why does he think the first Tuesday in November is shaping up to be a bad day for Democrats?  History is the teacher:

The basis of his analysis is simple: This doesn’t look or feel like a normal midterm election. "There are two kinds of elections," he said. "There’s sort of the Tip O’Neill all-politics-is-local, and then there are wave elections. We’re seeing just every sign in the world that this is going to be a wave, and a pretty good-sized wave."

What Cook is seeing is all the signs pointing too a 1994 wave election where a fed up electorate sweeps the majority party out of power.  I’d add that another way to explain it is whether or not the election is nationalized (voters have an axe to grind with national leadership) or localized (no real national issues over local ones).  In this case, it is all about national issues and the majority party’s agenda.  And that’s not good news for the Democrats since a large majority of those polled consistently point out the country is on the wrong track.

The open question is will the Democrats find a way to convince voters that what they’ve done with their time in Congress is beneficial and something for which they deserve reelection:

On the other hand, Democrats might figure out how to do a better job convincing the nation of the wisdom of their policies. The apparent return of General Motors to health after President Barack Obama’s bailout might help. Mr. Obama, who, despite his problems, remains far more popular than his party’s congressional leaders, stands the best chance of making that case.

And Democrats’ money advantage, which Mr. Obama was working to enhance this week with a fund-raising tour, will help in the stretch run.

Above all, Democrats might finally get their base more excited.

All indications point to a less than excited base – in fact, there’s open warfare between the White House and the “professional left”.  “Exciting the base” also means women, latinos and the young turning out for Democrats as they did for Obama.  I simply don’t see that in the cards.   And every poll I see says the independents, the most sought after demographic in party politics, going increasingly to the GOP side.

As for Obama’s personal popularity, we may all like someone for many often indefinable reasons – but that doesn’t mean we consider him competent or we’d reelect him or those like him again.  I think many times, popularity is very overrated in polling.  And you see that when you compare popularity with job performance numbers.  Obama has very good popularity ratings while also having very high job disapproval ratings.

All in all, I think Cook will be proved right again.  Dems are going to lose the House and we should finally be rid of Nancy Pelosi.  At that point, we can at least quit worrying about Joe Biden’s health since she’d no longer be third in line for presidential succession.

~McQ

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Pelosi wants an investigation into mosque foes

It was as inevitable as the sun rising in the east – some politician at a national level was going to call for an investigation into one side or the other of the Ground Zero Mosque debacle.

Unsurprisingly, it was Nancy Pelosi and equally unsurprising, she wants the opposition investigated:

"There is no question there is a concerted effort to make this a political issue by some. And I join those who have called for looking into how is this opposition to the mosque being funded," she said. "How is this being ginned up that here we are talking about Treasure Island, something we’ve been working on for decades, something of great interest to our community as we go forward to an election about the future of our country and two of the first three questions are about a zoning issue in New York City."

That’s right, Ms. Pelosi – it’s a local problem and the sum of your answer should have been, “that’s a local problem for the citizens of New York to sort out”.  Period.  End of statement.

But she couldn’t leave it there.  Oh, no – she has to “join” others calling for an investigation “into how this opposition to the mosque is being funded.”

Really?  Have they broken any laws?  Have they done anything other than voice their displeasure about the proposed project?  Aren’t they attempting, by mostly social pressure, to change the minds of those who want to build the mosque near what they consider hallowed ground?  If this were a union protesting, would you be eager to look into their funding?

Who and how they are funded isn’t any of your business, Madam Speaker.  And throwing that sort of rhetoric around is simply an act of attempted political intimidation.  While I may disagree with some who protest, I back their right to do so to the hilt.  It is as much “political speech” as most of the pap the Speaker of the House spews forth on a daily basis.

Why these national politicians feel the need to weigh in on this (on both sides) only reflects the apparent common assumption among all politicians that everything is a freakin’ national political issue. There are very real, important and weighty issues that deserve the time and the debate much more than this stupidity.

And, just as I agree that those who want to build the mosque have every right to do so where they choose if they own the property, I also agree that those who find it inappropriate and an “in your face” move by members of the Islamic faith have every right, within the law, to protest that decision and attempt to persuade the builders to abandon the project.

As long as the protesters fulfill their legal obligations as they protest, Madam Speaker, the issue is none of your or any other national politician’s business.  And threatening them with “investigations” only goes to point out how casually thugish our national government has become.

~McQ

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Lame ducks, last hurrahs, Congress and card check

It appears that Congressional Democrats are finally at the “acceptance” stage of the grieving process over their upcoming losses in Congress.  And the reality of those losses is propelling some to look at the lame duck session of Congress as the last opportunity to pass some of their and their clientel’s most desired legislation.

For instance:

In the House, Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters last month that for bills like "card check"—the measure to curb secret-ballot union elections—"the lame duck would be the last chance, quite honestly, for the foreseeable future."

And you can count on them pulling out all the stops to do so.  The same goes for the Senate:

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, chair of the Senate committee overseeing labor issues, told the Bill Press radio show in June that "to those who think [card check] is dead, I say think again." He told Mr. Press "we’re still trying to maneuver" a way to pass some parts of the bill before the next Congress is sworn in.

Of course they are – the handwriting on the wall is in seemingly permanent marker.  What they’re doing, frankly, isn’t surprising or unusual.  But it could be very damaging.  John Fund quotes Jay Rockefeller as saying, “I’ve got lots of things I want to get done”.   The lame duck also said:

"It could be a huge deal," he told Roll Call last month. "We could get the country on a sound long-term fiscal path."

Which Fund opines, undoubtedly means new taxes in exchange for extending some (but not all) of the Bush tax cuts.

But wait there’s more.  Fund lists a few probable lame duck priorities for the Democrats:

Senate ratification of the New Start nuclear treaty, a federally mandated universal voter registration system to override state laws, and a budget resolution to lock in increased agency spending.

Then there is pork. A Senate aide told me that "some of the biggest porkers on both sides of the aisle are leaving office this year, and a lame-duck session would be their last hurrah for spending." Likely suspects include key members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Congress’s "favor factory," such as Pennsylvania Democrat Arlen Specter and Utah Republican Bob Bennett.

And finally:

President Obama failed to mention climate change legislation during his recent, Oval Office speech on the Gulf oil spill was that he wants to pass a modest energy bill this summer, then add carbon taxes or regulations in a conference committee with the House, most likely during a lame-duck session.

That’s a very ambitious and, frankly costly and destructive lame duck legislative agenda.

Whether or not they can get all those balls in the air remains to be seen. Blue Dog Democrats, who face the toughest races of all, may not be as easily gulled into supporting any of these items given the fallout from health care reform.

But that probably won’t stop Pelosi and Reid – of Obama – from pushing the agenda since they have to be aware this is likely their last chance to do so.  And they proved with health care that they’ll throw anyone under the bus to get what they want.

To include the American people.

~McQ

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