Views on the News
February 6, 2010
Views on the News*
Last year, President Obama swept into office on a promise to confront tough choices and now released a budget proposing the largest debt and spending spree in American history. The budget reveals that overall federal outlays will reach $3.72 trillion in fiscal 2010, and keep rising to $3.834 trillion in 2011. As a share of the economy, outlays will reach a post-World War II record of 25.4% this year. In fact, this year's proposal shows annual budget deficits as much as 49% larger than last year's proposal, raising the debt by an additional 6% of GDP over the same period. The budget submitted by President Obama is not quite dead on arrival, but it’s not even worth debating the point. Set aside the fact that it is based on overly optimistic growth assumptions and policy decisions that are only remotely feasible. It is a spending spree that will drive up both taxes and deficits. Annual deficits under the Republican Congress have become monthly deficits under the Democrat Congress. In addition, the President's budget would:
· Permanently expand the federal government by nearly 3% of gross domestic product (GDP) over 2007 pre-recession levels;
· Raise taxes for 3.2 million small businesses and upper-income taxpayers by an average of $300,000 over the next decade;
· Borrow 42 cents for each dollar spent in 2010;
· Run a $1.6 trillion deficit in 2010--$143 billion higher than the recession-driven 2009 deficit;
· Leave permanent deficits that top $1 trillion in as late as 2020;
· Double the publicly held national debt to over $18 trillion; and
· Increases taxes by $2.8 trillion worth over the decade.
Buried in the budget are the impacts from several proposed legislation initiatives:
· Quantifies $597 billion of new health care entitlement spending, and $712 billion of new taxes;
· Shows the impact of “cap and trade” as a blank line to be filed in later after the budget is already passed hiding additional tax burden associated with this economy killing program;
· Recommends a National Energy Tax to raise $843 billion;
· Gives states $25 billion to extend the “stimulus” bill Medicaid subsidy;
· Add another $1 billion to the “stimulus” bill high-speed rail projects; and
· Add $1.35 billion to continue the President’s “stimulus” bill “Race to the Top” education challenge.
President Obama would run up more debt over his eight years than all other Presidents in American history, from George Washington through George W. Bush, combined. The national debt figure does not include the $5 trillion of Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac mortgage-backed debt! In January 2007 when Democrats took control of Congress, the CBO projected an $800 billion surplus over the ten-year period FY2008-2017. Today, covering the same period (including the actual deficits from FY 2008 and FY 2009 as well as what the President proposes in his budget for fiscal years 2011 through 2017), that $800 billion surplus turns into a $9.2 trillion deficit. As a result of these deficits, net interest spending would reach $840 billion in 2020. President Obama has offered a budget that does nothing to address the nation's serious short-term and long-term fiscal problems, and indeed makes them worse. By doubling the national debt over pre-recession levels, America could head toward the tipping point when rising debt levels will become too large for global capital markets to absorb, potentially triggering a financial crisis, an interest rate spike, and gigantic tax increases. Runaway spending is the problem, yet Obama’s budget includes no plan for long term restraint. All of this spending must be financed, and so deficits and taxes are both scheduled to rise to record levels. The reality is that even these still-high deficits are based on assumptions for growth and revenue gains from record tax increases starting January 1, 2011. Even these huge tax increases won't be enough to pay for the spending that this Administration is unleashing in its first two remarkable years.
(“Obama’s Budget Seeks $2 Trillion More in Spending and Deficits Than Last Year” by Brian M. Riedl dated February 1, 2010 published by The Heritage Foundation at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Budget/wm2787.cfm
“Stimulus: Secret sequel in the budget” by Tami Luhby dated February 1, 2010 published by CNN Money at http://money.cnn.com/2010/02/01/news/economy/stimulus_extensions/index.htm
“The President’s Priorities” dated February 2, 2010 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704107204575039671922399114.html
“RSC Policy Brief: Highlights of the President’s FY 2010-2020 Budget Proposal” by Tom Price dated February 2, 2010 published by Republican Study Committee at http://rsc.tomprice.house.gov/PolicyAnalysis/2010PolicyBriefs.htm )
The weight of Obama's own arrogance is triggering his own demise, because in his case his ego is his Achilles' heel. The Obama regime had all the power: the White House; a majority in the House; a majority in the Senate; and a compliant liberal media. Almost from day one, Obama began unconstitutionally usurping power by nationalizing banks and the auto industry. During his State of the Union speech, Obama used his "bully pulpit" to bully the free market, banks, insurance companies, Republicans, and even the Supreme Court. Obama governs the Chicago way: no compromise; simply seek to destroy your opponents. At town hall meetings across America, "we the people" passionately said "no" to government-run health care. As an exclamation point to our national "No," hundreds of thousands of protesters showed up in Washington, D.C. Unbelievably, the Reid/Pelosi tag-team are still conniving and scheming to force ObamaCare down our throats. While the Obama regime appeared powerful, unstoppable, and spreading "like a green bay tree," a change was happening across America. Americans were awakening from their Night of the Living Dead Obama zombie trance. Following key losses in November, Republican Scott Brown's shocking win in Massachusetts confirmed that Obama's spell has been broken. While the TEA Party movement has played an extremely vital role, Obama's biggest problem has been his arrogance and his ego. Contemptuously, Obama believes he can use America's ignorance of history and the facts, his superior intellect, and his amazing oratorical skills to ignore the Constitution and the will of the American people. Obama arrogantly remains relentless in his quest to implement his rejected overreaching agenda despite an America that no longer supports him or his leftist agenda.
(“Ego, Obama’s Achilles’ Heel” by Lloyd Marcus dated February 3, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/ego_obamas_achilles_heel.html )
Obama was elected based on his charisma, and political magic as a blank slate that devotees projected onto him what they wanted or wished, but the reality of actually governing the country has demolished his fragile facade. Much like the Greek Icarus, who was enamored with his ability to fly, saw his wax wings melt by the sun, so goes Obama’s popularity melted when Americans woke up to finally look at results from his leftist agenda. There was no internal coherence to the coalition that swept him to power. There was understandable racial pride on the part of the African-American community that came around to his banners after it ditched the Clinton dynasty. There was cultural "cool" and racial absolution for the white professional classes who also embraced him. He had won an election, but he took it as a plebiscite granting him a writ to remake the basic political compact of this republic. Obama's self-regard, and his reading of his mandate, overwhelmed all restraint. Democrats acted on the belief that speed was of the essence to the Obama team and the powerful barons in Congress. Americans are waking up with a whopping Obama-hangover, and it's not a pretty sight. Daily, it dawns on ever more Americans that the man in the White House is not the one they thought they met when he waltzed onto the stage and stole their hearts at recent Democratic National Conventions. The economic “stimulus,” ObamaCare, the large deficits, the bailout package for the automobile industry were nothing short of a fundamental assault on the givens of the American social compact. The hubris of Obama would allow him to pontificate on any and all topics and he and his teleprompter quickly became over-exposed. Obama was smitten with his own specialness. Europeans contributed to his hubris by overdoing the enthusiasm for the star who had risen in America. For his part, Obama played along, and in Ankara, Cairo, Paris and Berlin he offered penance aplenty for American ways. While the Europeans and Muslim crowds hailed him, they damned his country all the same. The close call on Christmas Day at the hands of the Nigerian jihadist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab demonstrated that the terrorist threat had not receded. The President tried to recover by finally proclaiming “we are at War.” The "bluest" of states, Massachusetts, voted in a Senator who had behind him three decades of service in the National Guard, who proclaimed his pride in his "army values" and was unapologetic in his assertion that it was more urgent to hunt down terrorists than to provide for their legal defense. There had been that magical campaign of 2008 moment and the true believers want to return to it, but reality is merciless, so the magical spell is broken.
(“The Obama Spell is Broken” by Fouad Ajami dated January 31, 2010 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704094304575029110104772360.html?mod=rss_Today%27s_Most_Popular
“Watch Obama’s Actions, Not His Words” by Floyd and Mary Beth Brown dated February 5, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/FloydandMaryBethBrown/2010/02/05/watch_obamas_actions,_not_his_words )
Once the policy intentions of the Obama Administration and their allies in Congress became clear, people started turning away from their elected officials in record time. The last 12 months have brought clarity to our political system. Not only had the American people voted the Democrats into office, but they had put the left-wing in charge. The elements that view European-style socialism as a model for America now had the opportunity they persistently and surreptitiously pursued for more than a generation. Democrats launched two major, and unpopular, legislative initiatives and carried out wholesale takeovers of several large private enterprises. Those people who actually understood the “Cap and Trade” bill were profoundly alarmed by its effect on the nation’s economy. Americans of all stripes were sufficiently disgusted by the complexity, deceit, and utter bribery wrapped in the Health Care Bill to affect one of the largest electoral upsets in modern American politics. Americans have been conditioned for over forty years by the mainstream press that the policies being proposed by the current administration are what this country needs. The most prestigious newspapers have relentlessly editorialized on the errors of Republican policies and the goodness of the left’s wisdom. Most Americans are still viewing the left-wing slanted media, but they’re no longer duped by the media mouthpieces. For forty years, any pretense of even-handedness has been tossed aside on college campuses. Students continually must endure classes where college professors express their left-wing opinions freely and without recrimination. Ultimately, the lack of free interchange of ideas has turned out wave after wave of college graduates who are hopelessly indoctrinated. In 2006, far more Americans identified themselves as conservative (38%) than liberal (24%). Four years later, after a year of Obama, the figures are similar, except that now, only 21% state they are liberals; a nearly two-to-one edge for conservatives! Americans still believe that private enterprise is more effective than government programs. They believe charity is compassionate and that government programs are not. Americans have been most upset with Republicans when they have bought into the left-wing’s policies and started acting like Democrats. When Republicans started spending like leftists and loading the national budget with earmarks, the American people voted them out of office. Americans understand that less government means more freedom. Historically, Americans have always rejected the efforts of the left to turn our freedoms over to a controlling central government. The icing on the cake was the death of the Air America radio network. In the only example of the left-wing attempting to communicate its message through the mass media where they clearly labeled themselves and their views, they crashed and burned. Americans saw with a clear eye what would continue to happen under left-wing leadership, and through the ballot box have resoundingly said NO in Virginia, New Jersey, and now Massachusetts.
(“Proud American” by Bruce Bialosky dated February 1, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/BruceBialosky/2010/02/01/proud_american )
A year ago, President Obama had a tantalizing political opportunity to remake America in his image but when revealed the American people rejected first the ideas then the man. His party enjoyed a blowout election and the Democrats had hefty majorities in both houses of Congress. Obama had stratospheric approval ratings and the support of a nation profoundly fearful of the future. The Republicans were leaderless and viewed as devoid of ideas. Then Obama threw it all away! He outsourced chunks of his job to a left-wing congressional leadership that has learned nothing and forgotten nothing for the past 35 years. What came next was one appalling legislative blob after another: the stimulus package that hasn’t stimulated, the cap-and-trade monster, the health care power-grab. When Obama assumed office, he was still something of an enigma. The bottom line is that he isn’t a good politician. Politics is an art, and Obama’s basic competence is highly suspect. He lacks the personal radar an effective politician must have to know when you’re on solid ground and when you’re tilting at windmills. Obama has spent a year tilting at windmills and has been revealed as a weak leader whose credibility is shrinking, and also the ranks of his followers. He has succeeded mainly in uniting his opposition and dividing his own camp with House and Senate Democrats openly sniping at one another. The hard left, Obama’s base, is writing him off as inept. Despite its enormous cost, last year’s “stimulus” package has failed to live up to expectations, but that does not stop him from asking for another spending package focused on “jobs.” On health care, he offered no suggestions to deadlocked Democrats as to how they should pass a bill disliked by most Americans. Obama is stubborn and his advice is to keep trying what isn’t working. Like Jimmy Carter, Obama squandered much of his political capital in his first year. When he took office, the economic landscape was completely transformed, but he refused to put off health care and “cap and trade,” even though voters viewed the economy was a much higher priority. He has a different problem when it comes to his handling of foreign policy. He sold out the Czechs and Poles on missile defense to appease Russia, and got nothing in return. He stuck with “engagement” on Iran, missing an opportunity to voice full-throated support for the Iranian opposition. In dealing with China, he shrank from the topic of human rights. The question raised by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, “Is he weak?” must be answered in the affirmative. The media portrait of Obama during the campaign made much of his cool, unflappable temperament but that ignored his most telling qualities. Stubborn and weak is not what we want in a President, so it is no wonder he’s already talking about the prospect of a single term.
(“The President’s ineptness quite clear after a year” by E. Thomas McClanahan dated January 30, 2010 published by The Kansas City Star at http://www.kansascity.com/275/story/1717714.html )
There are significant disagreements over the speed and extent of climate change, the danger it poses, and its precise causes, and recent findings may remove its scientific basis. Earth’s climate has changed many times over millions of years. Environmentalists have embraced a theory that climate change is caused by human actions and must be controlled to save the planet. The Government is convinced that the debate is over, won by the scientists who insist that climate change is the result of the carbon dioxide generated by human activity. Environmentalists are now embarked on the project of "decarbonising" the economy; since carbon-based energy provides most of our electricity and powers nearly all of our transportation. The impact of their plans is a colossal, and colossally expensive, task. After years in which global warming activists had lectured everyone about the overwhelming nature of the scientific evidence, it turned out that the most prestigious agencies in the global warming movement were breaking laws, hiding data, and making inflated, bogus claims resting on, in some cases, no scientific basis at all. We've been given some clear answers that weren't serious, ranging from the famed "hockey stick" diagram, that entirely misrepresented planetary temperature trends; to smaller assertions such as, "all the glaciers in the Himalayas will have melted by the year 2035." This latter we now know was made up from whole cloth, like the polar bear die-off, and a great deal of nonsense about Arctic and Antarctic ice cover. There is not a single aspect of the "anthropogenic global warming" hypothesis that has been left standing by recent revelations, and more shoes drop every day. Meanwhile correlations between solar activity and climate change have been ignored. Recent correlations have shown that changes in climate precede carbon dioxide changes, thus totally invalidating the entire “cap and trade” approach. Hyping the climate threat increasingly doesn’t look like an accident: it looks like it was a conscious political strategy for income redistribution that has now been revealed as a hoax. The CFC/ozone depletion theory that caused a ban on CFCs has since been proven to be a hoax caused primarily by nature and economically a tremendous waste of money. The pesticide scare that caused DDT to be banned has since been scientifically disproven as a hoax but the ban doomed millions to a bleak death in Africa. It is about time that the Congress finally kills the “cap and trade” legislation since it is a junk science hoax whose only purpose is a stealth international redistribution of wealth scam.
(“We need facts, no spin, in the climate debate” dated January 31, 2010 published by http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/telegraph-view/7113594/We-need-facts-not-spin-in-the-climate-debate.html
“The Death of Global Warming” by Walter Russell Mead dated February 1, 2010 published by The American Interest at http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2010/02/01/the-death-of-global-warming/
“Manipulating the Climate Numbers” by David Warren dated February 3, 2010 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/02/03/manipulating_the_climate_numbers_100154.html
“The CFC Ban: Global Warming’s Pilot Episode” by David S. Van Dyke dated February 4, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/the_cfc_ban_global_warmings_pi.html )
The American people don’t want a government takeover of health care that limits choice and competition, funnels $1 trillion from American taxpayers to insurance companies in its first dozen years (2014 to 2025), cuts Medicare Advantage benefits by an average of $21,000 per enrollee in its real first decade, and contains enough shady backroom deals to make Jimmy Hoffa blush. Most of all, the American people don’t want a $2.5 trillion bill that does all of that and still fails to do the one essential thing: lower health care costs. Obama has asked for “a better approach,” and a small bill exists that includes seven real reforms that together would lower costs, significantly increase the number of insured, and be deficit-neutral:
· Cut costs by preventing runaway malpractice lawsuits. Relieve doctors from having to practice costly defensive medicine, by capping noneconomic and punitive damages, while continuing to allow unlimited economic damages to compensate for financial loss. Cut costs by allowing Americans to buy insurance across state lines. Allow Americans to shop for coverage from coast to coast, whether from lower-mandate states at lower prices, or from higher-mandate states at higher prices.
· Cut costs by allowing lower premiums for healthier lifestyles. Repeal federal regulations that ban companies from offering more than a 20% discount to those who eat and drink in moderation, exercise, or don’t smoke.
· Increase access to health insurance by ending the unfair tax on the uninsured (and self-insured), giving them a tax-break similar to that which is already available to those with employer-provided insurance. Provide refundable annual tax-credits of $2,500 per person or $5,000 per family directly to the American people, not to insurers. Leave employer-provided insurance, its tax-exempt status, and the rest of the tax code, intact.
· Provide further help for those who are uninsured and have expensive preexisting conditions, by increasing federal support for state-run or state-organized high-risk pools. Help all 50 states to establish or organize such pools.
· Convert some federal funds into block grants to states, and reallocate the savings resulting from reducing the number of uninsured. Provide block grants to reimburse hospitals for treating the uninsured in emergency rooms.
· Implement additional reforms from the House Republican health bill. Adopt regulatory reforms in the small group and non-group markets, standards for electronic administration, an abbreviated approval pathway for follow-on biological products, and HSA reforms.
A recent McLaughlin and Associates poll found that Americans would prefer more modest steps to health care reform by almost three to one (61% to 21%), which should tell Congress to start over and give the American people what they want
(“The Small Bill” by Jeffrey H. Anderson dated February 8, 2010 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/small-bill )
Obama's entire approach to the war is driven by his belief that Muslim extremists didn't become terrorists because of their ideology but because we have mistreated them. He thinks we have goaded potential terrorists into becoming terrorists and given existing terrorists further cause to hate us. Obama expects to turn all that around with euphemisms ("man-caused disaster," "overseas contingency operations"), a flurry of lofty rhetoric (the world O’pology tour), a few symbolic steps (closing Gitmo) and certain policy reversals (Mirandizing terrorists and trying enemy combatants in civilian courts). The result of his posture of relaxation and retreat has been an unmitigated disaster. He went out of his way to avoid identifying the Fort Hood jihadist as a terrorist; he admonished us not to jump to any conclusions about the Christmas underwear bomber; he promised to close Gitmo with no plan to relocate the prisoners; he moved the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to ground zero with utterly no consideration for the local or national security implications involved; and his Justice Department allowed the Christmas bomber to lawyer up after only 50 minutes of interrogation. He just can't seem to grasp that the real world involves more than street organizing, speechmaking, symbolic gestures and his grand appearance on the world stage as a veritable messiah. His miscalculations are disturbingly naive. The verdict on Obama's messianic approach is already in: despite his overtures, his own CIA director, Leon Panetta, just testified that al-Qaida is growing and gearing for an attack in the United States in the next three to six months.
(“The ‘Messiah’ Isn’t Delivering Peace” by David Limbaugh dated February 5, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/DavidLimbaugh/2010/02/05/the_messiah_isnt_delivering_peace )
The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) report has been transformed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates into a analytical justification for current defense plans and programs but lacks a force structure necessary to prepare for an uncertain future. As the second sentence of the QDR states, "first and foremost, the United States is a nation at war," but the remainder of the report and, more critically, the long-term budget, reflect an administration more interested in ending wars than winning them, and ready to "manage" American decline rather than preserve American leadership. The QDR makes no attempt to answer the basic question of defense planning of how much is enough? It does not even attempt to articulate a force-planning construct, such as the "two-war standard" of past reviews. In particular, the QDR:
· Substitutes "risk management" for victory. Success in war does not go to the best "balanced" but to the strongest force. The purpose of strategy is not merely to equalize all threats but to reduce the threat to a safe level.
· Freezes the size of the force and defers modernization. Events since 9/11 have shown that size matters; the U.S. Army and Marine Corps cannot keep up with the pace of operations without mobilizing hundreds of thousands of reservists and National Guardsmen every day. The QDR caps the active Army at 45 brigades, three less than the 48 planned for at the end of the Bush administration. The Air Force fleet is smaller and rapidly aging; the Navy has fewer than 300 ships compared to the Reagan-era fleet of 600. The gap between American strategic ends and military means grows and grows.
· Puts Budgets Before Strategy. Despite the legal requirement to define strategic needs first and then derive force size, structure, programs and budgets, the Obama administration imposed defense budget limits that have, by the Pentagon's own admission, constrained the review.
The 2011 budget proposal is a reflection of Obama priorities. Despite the "national security exemption" from a proposed freeze to "discretionary" budgets and the unanticipated $30 billion-plus cost of the Afghanistan surge, the level of military spending remains at post-World War II lows.
(A Nation at War, an Administration in Retreat” by Tom Donnelly dated February 1, 2010 published by American Enterprise Institute at http://www.aei.org/press/100052 )
Obama did Republicans a favor by meeting with House GOP lawmakers and reminding them of what they need to do to regain political power in the next election. Republicans have lost the perception of fiscal discipline and must demonstrate with innovative ideas how with GOP leadership the economy would be better and return to growth. Republicans pointed to their opposition to the $787 billion stimulus and the president’s budget as evidence of their commitment to fiscal responsibility, but voting “No” is not enough. There are at least four major obstacles standing in the way of a Republican resurgence over the next nine months:
· Tea Party movement. Republicans must come to terms with these grassroots conservatives to incorporate their freedom and liberty agenda.
· Cash shortage. Republicans have been bleeding membership and cash as Independents abandon the party. Fundraising with increase once the party recommits to its conservative values and Independents recognize that the GOP may represent their positions again.
· President Obama: Although the President is a likable figure, voters increasingly dislike his ideas for change. Republicans must nationalize elections to link local candidates to the nationally unpopular liberal Democrat agenda.
· Obstructionist label. Republicans need to embrace the “Party of No” label as a proud repudiation of the leftist agenda. Republicans must then replace this negative label with a positive “Party of Better Alternatives” by documenting a platform of better ideas.
The biggest challenge that Republicans have is how to exploit the alternative media to deliver factual information directly to voters unfiltered by the liberal Mainstream Media.
(“Obama reminds GOP it must work hard to reclaim seats” by Jon Ward dated January 30, 2010 published by The Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2010/01/30/obama-reminds-gop-it-must-work-hard-to-reclaim-seats/
“New media help conservatives get their anti-Obama message out” by Jerry Markon dated February 1, 2010 published by The Washington Post at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/31/AR2010013102860.html )
* There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news. I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning. Individual issue updates this week include:
· Budget at http://returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/budget.php