Views on the News
February 13, 2010
Views on the News*
Politicians on both side of the political aisle are tone deaf to the growing dissatisfaction with the institutions of national government and the parties vying to control them. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey found that although 52% of the nation's voters retain a favorable view of President Obama, only 38% have a similar appraisal of the Democratic Party. The Republicans fare even worse; just 30%, fewer than 1 in 3 voters, view the GOP favorably. A recent CBS News poll found that nearly half of all Republicans, 45%, disapprove of their party's congressional delegation. A national Washington Post/ABC News poll found that just 24% of Americans, fewer than 1 in 4, trust congressional Republicans "to make the right decisions for the country's future." The House and Senate Democrats didn't fare all that better, and are trusted by just 32%. Less than half (47%) have confidence in Obama's ability to make the right decisions. Discontent with the present and apprehension about the future have become the background noise of our politics, yet both sides of the Congressional aisle seem deaf to the din. Low approval rating for Congress, distrust of the media, and unease with “experts” in the Obama administration is what is behind the emergence of the TEA Party movement. When people's mistrust of their elected officials and the political parties reaches these low levels, politicians either need to start listening to their voters who put them in office or polish their resume since their time in office is very limited!
(“The winter of America’s discontent” by Tim Rutten dated February 5, 2010 published by Los Angeles Times at http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-rutten6-2010feb06,0,1034960.column )
The TEA Party activists all agree: government is too big; Spending is out of control; Individual freedom is at risk; and President Obama’s policies are making the situation worse! TEA Party is a unique populist movement that has more grass roots movers, shakers, and members, than any populist movement ever seen in our country. These activists are highly energized and a huge majority are disgusted with both political parties. "Populist Constitutionalism" is an apt description of this movement since love and respect for the Constitution is driving the movement. The Constitution (and a real federal government) is the set of principles that can unite all Americans (with the possible exception of the most radical of those on the left who want to see some kind of socialist central state.) Social conservatives, fiscal conservatives (that might be liberal on some social issues), libertarians, and moderates can agree to disagree about issues like abortion, legalized drugs, gay marriage, etc. The Constitution teaches all of them that the resolution to these problems should be conducted on the state or community level, as opposed to the national, level. Issues, including health care, “cap and trade,” and excessive regulation of businesses are outside of the specific powers granted to the federal government. The battle of ideas will be fought as an ongoing educational process by tone deaf and constitutionally ignorant politicians, who do not represent their voters. The TEA Party teaches a multitude of Americans what they are no longer taught in our public schools and universities: America was, from the beginning, intended to be a grand experiment in freedom and local and state control. The TEA Party does not have now need a charismatic leader, even though Sarah Palin is viewed as a possible nominal leader. Sarah Palin has successfully linked herself and the TEA Party movement with the conservative principles and policies of Ronald Reagan. Democrats have tried to demonize the coalition, casting it as an extreme right-wing part of the GOP, but instead they have further distanced themselves from mainstream Americans. Republicans have sought to cajole the coalition into the GOP fold, but more likely the TEA party will take over the Republican brand. The mainstream media (MSM) spent the last year treating the Tea Party movement as if it were a cancer on the body politic, not an organic outcry from a citizenry that had enough, but now is forced to treat it with grudging respect. Populist constitutionalism is the surest and clearest path to save our republic from the government takeover of private industry.
(“Tea Party Activists ‘Fed Up’ with Obama Agenda” dated February 6, 2010 published by News Max at http://www.newsmax.com/InsideCover/tea-party-convention-gop/2010/02/06/id/349170
“Populist Constitutionalism and the Tea Party” by Larrey Anderson dated February 7, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/populist_constitutionalism_and.html
“Success of Tea Party Forces Media to Show Some Respect” by Christian Toto dated February 9, 2010 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=35537 )
Conservatives understand that liberals often demonize their opponents rather than debate the merits of the issues because the tactic works to deflect and obfuscate the criticism. Liberal progressives are angry that reality doesn't cooperate with their ideologically driven solutions and it's easier to blame others than to face up to the unpleasant truth of their failed ideas. Democrats frame almost any issue stressing their supposedly good intentions and the Republicans' alleged lack of compassion to avoid a genuine debate and scrutiny of their policies. In the area of foreign policy Obama thought replacing the unilateralist cowboy at the top with a humbler multilateralist, and the path would finally be cleared to fix vexing international issues such as curbing carbon emissions and dealing with the mullahs in Iran. Obama’s approach was supposed to produce a more cooperative Tehran and Moscow, fewer terrorists in the Muslim world, and vast new initiatives to fight global poverty. Instead, Iran has murdered dissenters while speeding up its nuclear program, Russia hasn’t discernibly budged even after the U.S. abandoned its missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland, a Muslim suicide bomber was stopped at the last minute from blowing up a plane over Detroit on Christmas, and global gatherings have produced even less concrete action than usual. The Copenhagen crackup demonstrated that no amount of international do-goodism is going to prevent countries from acting in what they perceive to be their own self-interest. In domestic policies Obama found that many of his policy fantasies can serve as a salve when you live on the margins of the policy debate, but will quickly be challenged when he tires to implement them. Obama and the Democrats have been peddling the creation of up to 5 million “green jobs” in America, through a combination of cap-and-trade carbon permits, home weatherization, clean coal, higher gas mileage standards, environmental regulation, and various renewable-energy mandates, but there’s no evidence the theory is even true. The debate over phantom jobs “saved or created”, against a backdrop of double-digit unemployment, will continue to plague Obama’s credibility as double counting and imaginary zip codes make him a laughingstock. Americans already have found empty pots at the end of other Democratic rainbows. Like many of the Democrat party faithful’s long-nurtured beliefs, this hope has disintegrated on contact with reality. Now that progressive economic thought has its first real foothold in Washington since the 1970s, many long-marginalized ideas are being dusted off for real-world testing, and hopefully the growing unpopularity of central planning will dissuade the enthusiasts from inflicting their experiments on the rest of us in the first place.
(“Lashing Out Beats Accountability” by David Limbaugh dated February 9, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/DavidLimbaugh/2010/02/09/lashing_out_beats_accountability
“Back to the Drawing Board” by Matt Welch dated March 2010 published by Reason Magazine at http://reason.com/archives/2010/02/08/back-to-the-drawing-board )
The $787 billion “stimulus” was passed last winter and other than rewarding liberal special interest groups, it has not accomplished any of its economic goals. All the massive infusion of taxpayer cash has done is deprive our consumer-driven private sector of much-needed oxygen, while sending our annual deficits and national debt soaring to previously unthinkable heights. Democrat Senators contend they need another $100 billion or so to spend our way out of this recession, despite demonstrable failure with their first attempt. The $154 billion Spawn of “Spendulus” passed in the House on a party-line vote in December is crammed to the gills with special-interest spending. Half of the money would go to government bureaucracies already overflowing with “Stimulus One” money. In order to hide this fact the new bill is instead called a “jobs” bill, as if renaming the same policies will yield different results. Both this “stimulus” bill and the last one can be divided into roughly four parts: 1) unemployment relief, 2) aid to state governments, 3) public-works projects, and 4) tax gimmicks. The only real jobs that a government stimulus stimulates are government jobs, so more than 2.1 million government workers will be on the federal payroll by the end of 2010. Extending the duration of subsidies to the unemployed is sometimes justified, depending on the severity of the recession, but continuous extensions of unemployment aid encourage some job-seekers to hold out as long as they qualify for such relief, waiting for better jobs than the ones they’re offered. Such workers are undoubtedly contributing to the swelling ranks of the long-term unemployed or quitting the job hunt altogether, and one reason the unemployment rate is dropping is that the population of active job-seekers is shrinking. When the administration says that the previous stimulus bill “saved or created” nearly 2 million jobs, it is mostly talking about state-government employees it claims would have been laid off absent a massive transfer of federal dollars. The public-works spending from the previous stimulus bill accounts for a much smaller share of the administration’s “jobs created or saved” tally. There is a good chance that the government employees hired to promote “Green Jobs” outnumber the actual permanent “Green Jobs” created. The tax rebates in the first stimulus bill mostly took the form of checks cut to taxpayers and at least had the effect of putting money in people’s pockets. For the new stimulus, however, the Democrats have seized upon a sillier tax gimmick: giving businesses a tax credit for every new worker they hire, encouraging businesses to game the system to qualify for the credit without actually increasing their labor forces. Temporary tax credits to hire new workers have virtually no permanent job-creating effect. In budget terms, these kinds of temporary tax credits are scored as tax expenditures, i.e. spending. Only a permanent reduction in the marginal business tax rate has the incentive effect for long-run job creation. Obama hopes the public will not notice that his new “jobs bill” is composed of the same policies that were in the old “porkulus” bill. None of these former elements have contributed significantly to the recovery, and the enormous deficits required to pay for them put future growth in jeopardy. We'll only be informed of the last-minute sweeteners, “Cash for Cloture” handouts and backroom deals after the ink of the President's signature is dry. Reportedly, public-sector unions are pushing hard to include their precious card-check plan, which would allow Big Labor bosses to sabotage workers' rights to a federally supervised private-ballot election. Reportedly, Democrats plan to stuff a reauthorization of the Patriot Act into the bill to make it harder for Republicans to oppose it. While voters may not love the Republicans, they do want political balance back in Washington. They don’t want any of this manufactured, left-wing, class-warfare populism. What voters want is traditional, commonsense, center-right, free enterprise, which basically says to the government, “Please, let me keep more of what I earn, and please, just leave me alone.” The time has come for our government to get out of the way, allow the American people to prosper, create wealth, build businesses, and advance technology, and let the United States be the number-one country in the world from now until forever.
(“Stealth Stimulus” dated February 8, 2010 published by National Review Online at http://article.nationalreview.com/424250/stealth-stimulus/the-editors
“Porkulus II: Return of the Phony Jobs Boondoggle” by Michelle Malkin dated February 10, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/MichelleMalkin/2010/02/10/porkulus_ii_return_of_the_phony_jobs_boondoggle
“The ‘Green Jobs’ Scam Unmasked” by Howard Rich dated February 12, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/HowardRich/2010/02/12/the_green_jobs_scam_unmasked
“The Washington, D.C., Disconnect” by Larry kudlow dated February 12, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/LarryKudlow/2010/02/12/the_washington,_dc,_disconnect )
There is no reason for 1,000+ page bills to undermine American prosperity and our way of life, when a simple plan is possible to address our nation’s most pressing domestic challenges. Fiscal Obamaism is not just a temporary, Keynesian, countercyclical spike in spending; it is deficits to infinity and beyond. The CBO reports that, in the 10th year of Obama's budget, the federal government will spend nearly a trillion dollars a year, just on interest! This traps us as a country and inflation will wipe out savings and hurt people on fixed incomes. A plunging dollar will make goods more expensive, and high tax rates will undermine economic growth. It is the path of national decline. Congressman Paul Ryan has proposed a plan, first introduced in 2008, called “A Road Map for America's Future” (HR 4529), that is a comprehensive proposal to ensure health and retirement security for all Americans, to lift the debt burdens that are mounting every day because of Washington's reckless spending, and to promote jobs and competitiveness in the 21st century global economy. It is a radical plan to balance the federal budget by slashing the sacred cows of American entitlement spending: Social Security and Medicare. Entitlements have traditionally been a third rail for politicians, which makes this plan unique, and since Democrats have no ideas how to address the impending bankruptcies, they have instead chosen to attack this plan. The difference between the Road Map and the Democrats' approach could not be more clear: it restrains government spending, and hence limits the size of government itself; it rejuvenates the vibrant market economy that made America the envy of the world; and it restores an American character rooted in individual initiative, entrepreneurship and opportunity. Here are the principal elements:
· Health Care. The plan ensures universal access to affordable health insurance by restructuring the tax code, allowing all Americans to secure an affordable health plan that best suits their needs, and shifting the control and ownership of health coverage away from the government and employers to individuals. It provides a refundable tax credit to purchase coverage and keep it with them if they move or change jobs. It establishes transparency in health-care price and quality data, so this critical information is readily available before someone needs health services. State-based high risk pools will make affordable care available to those with pre-existing conditions.
· Medicare. The plan secures Medicare for current beneficiaries, while making common-sense reforms to save this critical program. It preserves the existing Medicare program for Americans currently 55 or older so they can receive the benefits they planned for throughout their working lives. For those under 55, it creates a Medicare payment to be used to purchase a Medicare certified plan. The payment is adjusted to reflect medical inflation, and pegged to income, with low-income individuals receiving greater support. The plan also provides risk adjustment, so those with greater medical needs receive a higher payment. The proposal also fully funds Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) for low-income beneficiaries, while continuing to allow all beneficiaries, regardless of income, to set up tax-free MSAs.
· Social Security. The plan preserves the existing Social Security program for those 55 or older. For those under 55, the plan offers the option of investing over one-third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts, similar to the Thrift Savings Plan available to federal employees. This proposal includes a property right, so those who own these accounts can pass on the assets to their heirs. The plan also makes the program permanently solvent by combining a modest adjustment in the growth of initial Social Security's benefits for higher-income individuals, with a gradual, modest increase in the retirement age.
· Tax Reform. The plan provides the option of a simplified system that promotes work, saving and investment. This highly simplified code has just two rates and includes a generous standard deduction and personal exemption, no tax loopholes, deductions, credits or exclusions and eliminates the alternative minimum tax. It promotes saving by eliminating taxes on interest, capital gains, and dividends, eliminates the death tax, and replaces the corporate income tax with a business consumption tax of 8.5%.
Ryanism is not only a technical solution to endless deficits; it represents an alternative political philosophy. Democrats have attempted to build a political constituency for the welfare state by expanding its provisions to larger and larger portions of the middle class. Ryan proposes a federal system that focuses on helping the poor, while encouraging the middle class to take more personal responsibility in a dynamic economy. It is the appeal of security vs. the appeal of independence and enterprise. The CBO estimated that Ryan’s plan would accomplish what no other recent proposal could claim to do – it would strengthen the economy and put the government’s finances on a sustainable track. It is not too late to take control of our fiscal and economic future, but the longer we wait, the bigger the problem becomes and the more difficult our options for solving it. The Road Map for America’s Future promotes our 1) national prosperity by limiting government's burden of spending, mandates and regulation, 2) ensures the opportunity for individuals to fulfill their human potential and enjoy the satisfaction of their own achievements, and 3) it secures the distinctly American legacy of leaving the next generation better off.
(“A GOP Road Map for America’s Future” by Paul D. Ryan dated January 26, 2010 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703808904575025080017959478.html#printMode
“A Roadmap for America’s Future” by Budget Committee Republicans at http://www.roadmap.republicans.budget.house.gov/
“Obama on the Path to Ruin” by Michael Gerson dated February 10, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/MichaelGerson/2010/02/10/obama_on_the_path_to_ruin )
President Obama has asked for a bipartisan health care summit on February 25th, but partisan Democrat preconditions may undermine its effectiveness before it even begins. House Republicans had sought to be included in health care negotiations since May 2009, but Democrats excluded them from the process. Republicans suspect that this summit will be another symbolic bipartisan gesture with no real progress on a topic that the President can not even convince his own party to agree on. While Obama is trying to create an appearance of “bipartisanship” in summoning leaders to the White House to try to breathe life into health care, Republicans have required that any closed door Democrat deal, such as the budget reconciliation process, be revealed prior to convening this summit. Republicans need to be on their toes and aggressive in this summit, and not let it devolve into a question and answer session with the President hogging the microphone. Obama asked for a meeting, not a lecture or a media conference, and Republicans need to demand equal time to present their ideas. The last NPR poll found that by 58 to 38 the American people were against the existing Democrat health care reform bills, and 61% indicated that the best approach was to scrap the existing proposed legislation. Republican leaders called for scrapping the partisan bills that passed the House and Senate last year and replacing them with new, bipartisan legislation to reform health care. It would be very difficult to have a bipartisan conversation with regard to a 2,700-page health care bill that the Democratic majority in the House and the Democratic majority in the Senate can’t pass. The Republicans need to make the cost-cutting part of the health care summit about tort reform, constantly raising the subject as the counter to the president's proposed $500 billion cut in Medicare. Then Republicans need to discuss other cost-saving measures, such as allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines and other measures to encourage competition. Republicans should also zero in on the need for more doctors if we are to expand the number of patients covered. The Republicans need to point out that in Massachusetts, where Mitt Romney inflicted a version of ObamaCare on the state, the waiting time to see a doctor in Boston is now 63 days, which will be felt primarily by the elderly and will lead to premature deaths. Finally, Republicans need to explain their own proposals for reforming health care -- including Medical Savings Accounts and expansions of current tax breaks to encourage people and small businesses to purchase insurance. Then, Republicans need to keep up a steady drumfire of criticism of the President's proposals. With proper preparation, the Republicans can turn this health care summit into a nationally televised Town Hall meeting such as frustrated Democrat Congressmen last August.
(“Republicans Seek to ‘Start Over’ on Health Care Legislation” by Fred Lucas dated February 10, 2010 published by Cybercast News Service at http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/61158
“GOP Needs to Make Case at Health Care Summit” by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann dated February 10, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/DickMorrisandEileenMcGann/2010/02/10/gop_needs_to_make_case_at_health_care_summit
“GOP demands Reid & Pelosi Disavow Healthcare Deals” by Connie Hair dated February 12, 2010 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=35621 )
Exaggeration and alarmism have been a chronic weakness of environmentalism since it became an organized movement in the 1960s when every ecological problem was instantly transformed into a potential world-ending crisis, from the population bomb to the imminent resource depletion of the “limits to growth” fad of the 1970s to acid rain to ozone depletion, always with an overlay of moral condemnation of anyone who dissented from environmental correctness. With global warming, the environmental movement thought it had hit the jackpot — a crisis sufficiently long-range that it could not be falsified and broad enough to justify massive political controls on resource use at a global level. Former Colorado senator Tim Wirth was unusually candid when he remarked in the early days of the climate campaign that “we’ve got to ride the global-warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing — in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.” The global-warming thrill ride looks to be coming to an end, undone by the same politically motivated serial exaggeration and moral preening that discredited previous apocalypses. On the heels of the East Anglia University “Climategate” scandal have come a series of embarrassing retractions from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) regarding some of the most loudly trumpeted signs and wonders of global warming, such as the ludicrous claim that Himalayan glaciers would disappear within 30 years, that nearly half of the Amazon jungle was at imminent risk of destruction from a warming planet, and that there was a clear linkage between climate change and weather-related economic losses. The sources for these claims turned out to be environmental advocacy groups — not rigorous, peer-reviewed science. Dissenters who pointed out these and other flaws in the IPCC consensus were demonized as deniers and ignored by the media, but they are now vindicated. Climate scientists are acting as enforcers of liberal orthodoxy, not seekers of objective truth. To be sure, these climate hoax revelations do not in and of themselves mean that the idea of anthropogenic global warming is false, but this is probably the beginning of a wholesale revision of the conventional wisdom on climate change.
(“Climate Gotterdammerung” dated February 10, 2010 published by National Review Online at http://article.nationalreview.com/424508/climate-gtterdmmerung/the-editors
“Liberals and Scientific Method” by Mona Charen dated February 12, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/MonaCharen/2010/02/12/liberals_and_scientific_method )
President Obama’s first year in office was marred by numerous confidence-busting security faux pas that negatively affected public opinion and recent pronouncements further undermine confidence. Last week Dennis Blair, the Director for National Intelligence, testified he is “certain” there will be an attempted terrorist attack in the U.S. in the next three to six months, but he provided no details or assurances the Obama administration is doing anything to stop it. Blair’s unsupported warning is another example of why average Americans are losing confidence in President Obama’s ability to protect the country. Blair’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee was much starker than his view last year, which emphasized considerable progress against al Qaeda. Blair and other intelligence officials told a Senate committee that al Qaeda had adjusted its tactics to more effectively strike American targets domestically and abroad. A January Washington Post-ABC News poll found only 47% of Americans have confidence that Obama is making the right decisions for the country’s future. The same poll found 62% of Americans also believe the country is on the wrong track. National security and foreign affairs are the president’s primary constitutional duties, but those critical duties consumed only 15% of Obama’s State of the Union address. Consider his performance on three of his duties to appreciate why Obama is losing public confidence: fighting terrorism, conducting foreign affairs and leading the armed forces. Only one in four Americans believe Obama’s policies are making America safer from terrorism. Obama’s anti-terrorism policies illustrate why he is losing public confidence. 56% of Americans disapprove of his decision to close the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo bay, Cuba and bring the terrorists to this country for trial. 67% disagree with Obama’s decision to try Khalid sheik Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind, in a New York City federal civilian court, a decision which the president is now reconsidering after a public backlash. 61% reject Obama’s decision to treat the terrorist as a common criminal by granting him constitutional rights. 63% of Americans worry Obama will not go far enough to investigate terrorism because of concerns about constitutional rights. Obama’s handling of foreign affairs fails to engender confidence as well. Regarding Iran’s atomic weapons program, most (69%) Americans believe Obama is not tough enough. Public confidence is wavering regarding Obama’s Afghanistan strategy. Last year, Obama changed the war strategy twice. Americans are not impressed with his war plan with 46% of all Americans expecting the situation to get worse. Obama is desperate to get the troops home before the 2012 elections. It also appears Obama will appease the Russians by accepting limited U.S. verification of Russian missile-flight data to check on Moscow’s new developments and he has already abandoned our European-based mid-course missile defense system against Iran, at Russia’s insistence. Obama is giving up too much to the Russians with nothing but promises in return which contributes to more confidence busting decisions. Finally, Obama’s handling of the military undermines public confidence. The administration lacks a focus on what’s important other than using the armed forces as fodder for Obama’s radical agenda. The unfocused Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) includes a key Obama priority, linking climate change to national security even though the science is disputed. The report tasks the Pentagon with reorganizing operations around issues including climate change diverting military satellites to monitor natural phenomena like glaciers rather than spending fulltime tracking terrorists. President Obama’s actions on fighting terrorism, conducting foreign policy and commanding the armed forces undermine public confidence much as intelligence director Blair’s failure to address public anxiety about his “certain” attack did. Obama is failing to succeed in his primary constitutional duties which should cost him politically and diplomatically and America will be less safe as a result!
(“Americans Lack Confidence in Obama’s Terror Policy” by Robert Maginnis dated February 9, 2010 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=35544 )
* 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:
· Civil Rights at http://returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/civilrights.php
· Employment at http://returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/employment.php