Free Markets, Free People

Nancy Pelosi

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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Krugman and Pelosi – two peas in an economic pod

Remember a few days ago I pointed out how Nancy Pelosi was out and about claiming that unemployment benefits was the greatest job creator in the world?

Well guess where she probably got it from – Paul Krugman?

Wait: there’s more. One main reason there aren’t enough jobs right now is weak consumer demand. Helping the unemployed, by putting money in the pockets of people who badly need it, helps support consumer spending. That’s why the Congressional Budget Office rates aid to the unemployed as a highly cost-effective form of economic stimulus. And unlike, say, large infrastructure projects, aid to the unemployed creates jobs quickly — while allowing that aid to lapse, which is what is happening right now, is a recipe for even weaker job growth, not in the distant future but over the next few months.

I won’t bother you with the reasoning that says this is absolute nonsense – that was covered in the Pelosi post.  What’s surprising is how desperate Krugman is to have his way with increased deficit spending – to stoop to this level of argument.  Suffice it to say, this doesn’t increase “consumer demand” or support “consumer spending”.  Unemployment benefits are a fraction of what the household was making before so what it goes toward is the maintenance of necessities and not much else.

To see a Nobel prize winning economist reduced to this  – a political hack – is rather revealing.  It certainly, at least in my mind, makes everything he writes that is purportedly about his specialty suspect.  If this is his argument, then he hasn’t got an argument, and if you read the rest of his screed you’ll discover it is only an excuse to attack the GOP – falsely, of course.

Krugman has all but ruined his reputation as an economist with nonsense like this. Of course when a person becomes identified with the clueless, like Nancy Pelosi, and their arguments, the decent into full “hackery” is complete.

~McQ

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Basic economic ignorance

If ever there was an indicator – an example – of the appalling level of economic ignorance to be found among our national legislators, this from Nancy Pelosi is perfect:

Talking to reporters, the House speaker was defending a jobless benefits extension against those who say it gives recipients little incentive to work. By her reasoning, those checks are helping give somebody a job. "It injects demand into the economy," Pelosi said, arguing that when families have money to spend it keeps the economy churning. "It creates jobs faster than almost any other initiative you can name."

Pelosi said the aid has the "double benefit" of helping those who lost their jobs and acting as a "job creator" on the side.

Demand is not created or "injected" by jobless benefits. At best may be, at some level, maintained. But it also could be argued that if the drop in income in an area is wide enough (former salary income v. jobless benefit income) it could cost jobs.

For instance the store clerk in a grocery store can be economically justified if the average grocery bill in the area is X. But if it falls to Y, which is likely with belt tightening by those receiving lesser unemployment benefits, then the clerk’s salary is no longer economically justifiable.

Jobless benefits rarely lend themselves to purchases outside the necessities because they’re usually not a great amount of money. The benefits are a maintenance income. What they mostly do is allow the recipient to pay for food, clothing, shelter and transportation, or some combination of those necessities.

Employers don’t create businesses and jobs in anticipation of receiving some of a person’s unemployment check. So unemployment checks are not out there creating jobs "faster than almost any other initiative you can name". In fact, their extension most likely inhibits job seeking (as the person and/or family adjust their lifestyle to the income until all necessities are covered).

This is an amazing example of the appalling economic ignorance that has gotten this country in the financial hole it is in and seems bound and determined to dig it deeper. And she’s 3 heartbeats away, folks.

~McQ

[MICHAEL ADDS:] The left has been pushing this idea for awhile. I tackled it back in January:

If you look closely at the chart you will be unsurprised to find that government spending is calculated to provide substantially more “bang for the buck” in creating wealth and jobs. That’s unsurprising because this chart is intended to support a progressive prescription for the economy. Of course it will show government as the answer.

Without arguing the statistical or modeling specifics behind the chart, there is one glaring item that reveals how much magical thinking went into its creation. By far the most “stimulating” actions set forth are “Temporary Increase in Food Stamps”(calculated to create 9,803,333 jobs), “Extending Unemployment Insurance” (9,236,667 jobs), and “Increased infrastructure Spending” (9,010,000 jobs). The closest tax-cutting measure, according to this analysis, in job creation is a “Payroll Tax Holiday” which is estimated to create 7,253,333 jobs. Do you see the problem?

How, exactly, do food stamps and unemployment benefits create jobs? Arguably, spending on infrastructure could create construction jobs on a temporary basis, although that hasn’t proven to be the case with the stimulus bill that was passed. But there is simply no logic to the idea that providing government benefits to the poor and unemployed will serve to create jobs, much less 9 to 10 million of them. That’s just magical thinking.

And again in February. Based on whatever studies they’ve compiled to prove their point, the Democrats are going to simply go with this economic model sans examination.

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