Views on the News
March 6, 2010
Views on the News*
Barack Obama believes his own hype that his oratory will overcome all objections to convince others to do what he wants, but his track record demonstrates that the power of his words is overrated and does not work. One casualty of the serial crises confounding American politics of late is President Obama’s charisma, heretofore seemingly one of his greatest assets. Obama was convinced that his presence would sell the United States as a future Olympic site, but his Copenhagen visit fell flat and Chicago was eliminated on the first ballot. Obama was then convinced that his presence would convince other countries to embrace climate change targets, but his Copenhagen visit resulted in no firm commitments. His much heralded jobs summit was all talk and no actionable plans with unemployment stuck around 10%. Now his health care summit was sold as an exchange of ideas, but Obama stage managed the event to be a partisan defense of his rejected health care government takeover with no negotiation and no movement by either side. The problem for any charismatic leader is that the he must continually prove himself: if he wants to be a prophet, he must perform miracles; if he wants to be a war lord he must perform heroic deeds; if he wants to be a great peacemaker, he must make peace; and if he wants to be a great President, it is not enough to announce transformative plans, he must achieve them. Charisma needs to be stoked by continual success, but Obama’s problem is one that his opponents pointed to during the campaign, a lack of substance. Obama’s oratory magic works well with kool-aid drinking sycophants, but fails miserably when political and national opponents listen and question his words and the details of his plans.
(“The next health fight” by Grace Marie Turner dated February 27, 2010 published by New York Post at http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/the_next_health_fight_1ytMYxzCXXrKlmTSqXiIWI
“No We Can’t” by John H. Chettle dated March 8, 2010 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/no-we-can%E2%80%99t )
Barring an unforeseen miracle, our out-of-control spending is going to lead to some very painful decisions that will make a lot of people, including conservatives, very unhappy in the near future. Here are the ugly truths about what our government behavior means for our country's future:
· Entitlements must be cut - By 2030, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will make up 75% of our budget spending. Unless we get a handle on entitlement spending, it will be impossible to get our deficits under control. That means the age eligibility for these programs must be raised and the amount spent per person will need to be dropped to try to close the gap between what we take in and what we pay out. The sooner we start making changes, the less shock there will be to the system when the inevitable changes start to take place.
· Our military is going to weaken - By historical standards, the United States is not spending an extraordinary percentage of our budget on defense. However, we are spending an extraordinary amount of money on defense for a nation that's flat broke. The United States military is doing more to promote world stability than any other 20 nations combined, but we simply can't afford to keep it up.
· Taxes are going up - Ronald Reagan was right when he said that, "The problem is not that people are taxed too little; the problem is that government spends too much." We've allowed our government to spend so far beyond its means for so long that it's going to be almost impossible to close the gap by merely cutting spending. Taxes must go up on the rich, the middle-class, and even the poor, simply be to pay for what we've already spent.
· Economic growth is going to stagnate - The bigger the government grows and the more it borrows, the less virile the economy becomes. As the CBO has said, “Large budget deficits would reduce national saving, leading to more borrowing from abroad and less domestic investment, which in turn would depress economic growth in the United States.” Less growth means less jobs, less prosperity, and handing future generations of Americans a country that doesn't hold as much promise as the one that we grew up in.
· We will have a world where the United States isn't a super power - As the growth of the US economy slows, our military declines, and we become ever more dependent on the foreign powers that hold our debt, the United States will cease to become a super power. Instead of being a colossus striding the globe, we'll just be another Russia, China, France, Britain, or Germany.
Sadly, we've run so aggressively towards a socialist oblivion that our country may be on the backside of the mountain and unable to climb back to the top. Time will tell, but after all the privileges we've had growing up as Americans, we have an uphill battle not to leave the country worse off rather than to pass on the promise, the potential, and the dream of America to future generations.
(“5 Ugly Truths Americans Will Have to Face” by John Hawkins dated March 2, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/Common/PrintPage.aspx?g=73c2ce6f-f6c8-4b53-8cd1-3d31873c4cfd&t=c )
The American people no longer respect Congress to represent their best interests and thus we can expect larger than normal turnover in the next election. The Rasmussen Reports survey found that only 10% of Americans believe Congress is doing a good or excellent job, while 71% rate Congress’s job performance as poor. Only 9% think “most members of Congress are sincerely interested in helping people,” while 81% feel they are “more interested in their own careers.” Last year, many conservatives warned that the massive stimulus package represented a permanent expansion of government. The Congressional Budget Office found that a permanent expansion of the most popular programs would cost $3.27 trillion over 10 years (a 414% increase in spending compared to the original stimulus). President Obama and his allies in Congress promised the stimulus would be targeted, timely and temporary. However the President’s 2011 budget request continues many of those supposedly “temporary” programs such as the Pell Grant increases and the expansion of the earned income and childcare tax credit. As most Americans realize, the economic recovery promised by the stimulus never occurred. The big government liberals in power believe the answer is to spend even more money and systematically expand the power and reach of government into the private sector. Now the Senate will soon begin debate on the American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act, also known as “Stimulus III.” This new legislation would extend several expensive provisions from the earlier “stimulus,” including Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP). We know by now that the Administration and its allies are committed to increased spending and ramming ObamaCare through via reconciliation. However, liberals and conservatives have both recognized the danger posed by the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to place a hidden tax on American energy. Neither Congress nor the Administration seem to believe spending is a problem. Instead they appear to believe spending in and of itself is a solution. Last year’s stimulus failed to resuscitate the economy, but it has strengthened government. Americans are tired of both big spending and big government. The American people are watching. If lawmakers fail to heed the voter’s warnings, Members of Congress could end up limping home for Easter like wounded lambs and begin packing their bags. Maybe with term limits Congress would begin to represent the American people, instead of only representing themselves.
(“Change, loose change, spare change, and crooks” by Paul Jacob dated February 28, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/PaulJacob/2010/02/28/change,_loose_change,_spare_change,_and_crooks
“Old Tricks and Misguided Priorities” by Dan Holler dated March 1, 2010 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=35814 )
Conservatives and liberals are worlds apart in their ideology; an ideology that is now more than ever serving as the impetus for liberal’s bold and endlessly complex legislation foisted on the already burdened American people. Conservative cling to the power of equality of opportunity and unfettered freedom; while liberals, on the other hand, are fearfully willing to sacrifice the hard earned dollars of honest Americans for the freedom of equal outcomes. The recent contentious political issues to better test and illuminate this hypothesis:
· Healthcare - The Left is willing to sacrifice individual freedom to choose doctors, opting instead to impose a state-run monopoly on medical care at the expense of a market driven health system. They want to redistribute income from the more productive to the less productive; from the young to the old; from the healthy to the less healthy. Conservatives look towards market solutions to resolve many of the existing health care issues, depending on the invisible hand of rational behaviors and the proper incentives.
· Cap and Trade - Under the Democratic plan, income derived from a cap and trade scheme would be redistributed from productive carbon producing enterprises to non-carbon emitting enterprises. Jobs would be lost, shifting from the USA to less responsible, emerging countries. Wealth would also shift from America to non- compliant nations; for what reason. Spotty, inconclusive scientific evidence that reduced carbon emissions would prevent global warming has undermined the scientific justification and conservatives question asking average American to pay more for energy to save an iceberg in a remote part of the north he may never see when that same person is struggling to pay that month’s mortgage.
· Union Card Check - Democrats were willing to sacrifice the sanctity of a secret ballot to insure that Unions could fleece more American workers. This is a desperate bid to win at all costs, even if it meant cooking the ballot box at union halls.
· McCain-Feingold - Democrats howled when the Supreme Court recently overturned corporate prohibitions in the landmark McCain-Feingold law. When you abridge someone’s right to speak out for causes, no amount of demagoguing will cover that injustice.
In the real world, most Americans are neither completely liberal nor conservative in their overall views. Views and opinions change, based on one's own station in life and through differing circumstances. Conservatives look back to the Founders (they approached the building of this nation with the freshest of views) chief among them was the unfailing pursuit toward more, not less, freedom. When it comes to the personal lives of Americans it is important to realize that views and opinions continue changing as individuals move up the economic bracket, get an education, have a family and gain a matured perspective. Our laws are continuously based on fundamental social philosophies of what elevates the quality of the society as a whole. After all, we do not only live for ourselves, but we are active members in a society of people in which dignity, respect and honor must be at the core of growing our great nation. Conservatives will never be able to cogently persuade a true liberal who is more than willing to sacrifice his freedom and income (and yours) so that there is absolute perceived equality. Likewise, liberals will never persuade conservatives to sacrifice their individual freedom and hard earned wealth to be redistributed by bureaucrats and politicians in Washington, DC. The Left and Right will never meet, and it’s probably good that they don’t, for conflict is at the heart of democracy. I’m just glad I am a conservative and on the side of liberty!
(“An Unbridgeable Philosophical Divide?” by Armstrong Williams dated February 23, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/ArmstrongWilliams/2010/02/23/an_unbridgeable_philosophical_divide )
Americans have become more dependent on government than at any time since the Depression. We Americans pride ourselves on our independence, and use that term in one of our founding documents - the Declaration of Independence. This spirit is fading with each new year, each new state and federal program, each new unachievable promise made to a growing throng of citizens looking to government to get by in life. Last year, for the first time since the Great Depression, Americans took more aid from the government than they paid in taxes. Transfer payments (unemployment, Social Security, food stamps, Medicaid, Medicare and other forms of government welfare) grew $231 billion last year to just over $2.1 trillion. Meanwhile, individual taxes shrank $325 billion to $2.1 trillion, slightly less than transfer payments - we are taking more in welfare than we're paying in taxes. The temptation is to write off all this as a fluke, a recession-based aberration, but the trend has been in place for years. The Heritage Foundation tracks a "dependency index" that gauges just how much we lean on government for our well-being. In 2008, the most recent year for which data are available, the index stood at 238 — compared with a starting value of 100 in 1980. That means our dependency on government has grown 138% since the year before Reagan became president. Economist Gary Shilling has his own dependence gauge that showed that 52.6% of Americans got "significant income" from government in 2007. This makes today's debate over the government's takeover of health care — one-sixth of the economy — and other key industries, such as autos and banking, all the more urgent. With $45 trillion in planned spending over the next decade, the U.S. will soon look more like one of the fiscally bloated, economically sclerotic members of the European Union than the America that has for a century been the world's economic trailblazer. The further we move away from a market economy and toward government control, the more dependent we and our children become.
(“Gov’t Dependents: The New Majority” dated March 1, 2010 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=522584 )
When President Obama concluded the seven-hour, made-for-television faux summit on health reform, he more or less announced his intention to cram his signature bill through the Senate in the form of reconciliation, but Americans overwhelmingly reject this approach. The first thing to remember is that there are only two bills under discussion, the House and Senate, since Obama unveiled his outline and it has never been documented as a bill that can be financially evaluated or voted upon. The CNN/Opinion Research poll found only 25% of Americans want the current ObamaCare bills (either one of them) to be passed and turned into law. The CNN poll also showed that 48% of Americans wished the President and Congress would scrap the current bills and start the discussion and process on health care reform all over again. At the summit the Republicans attempted to remind the President, the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, and the Senate Majority leader that the objective was supposedly to "listen" to the Republicans share their health care ideas. This quickly became ludicrous when "supposedly listen" translated into Republicans given less than two full hours, of the seven and a half the event took, to actually speak. Since 85% of the population is insured, the primary concern for most of the currently insured is cost control, not expansion of access. The great majority of the population do not believe that the various reform bills are "paid for" (with Medicare cuts, tax increases, and new fees), regardless of what the OMB says and what the bills' advocates claim. What seems to have been lost in the discussion is how poorly the President’s ideas worked when tried in Tennessee and Massachusetts: both raised state budget costs far more than estimated; both raised premiums more than expected; both crowded out private insurance with government insurance; both degraded health care quality with rationing; and both were unsuccessful eliminating uninsured in their states. Obama hasn't improved the economy, the unemployment situation has not stabilized, much less improved, Gitmo is still open, four terror attacks against the U.S. have happened on his watch, and people are tired of all of his speeches, while seeing no results. A recent New York Times poll showed that 70% of Americans are angry or dissatisfied with how Washington is handling the people's business; 80% said that members of Congress are more interested in pandering to special interest groups than in serving the needs of people who elected them; and 81% said members of Congress across the board deserve to be thrown out. A new CNN poll out this week goes a step further and shows that 56% of Americans now think the federal government poses a threat to their rights. The entire debate around the cronyism of the stimulus bills, the takeover of private enterprise in the bailout programs, the usurpation of the free market on the health care debate, and the desire to raise the most punitive taxes against consumers ever imagined in the cap and trade legislation all contribute to this feeling. If Obama is successful passing his health care reform bill that 75% of the nation do not want, the next thing Congressmen should do is to pack their bags, since voters will remember and send these representatives packing!
(“Why Obama’s Great Bet Will Fail” by Kevin McCullough dated February 28, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/KevinMcCullough/2010/02/28/why_obamas_great_bet_will_fail
“The Big Problem with Health Care is Cost, Not Access” by Richard Baehr dated March 3, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/03/the_big_problem_with_health_ca.html
“Deaf to America” by Dan Gerstein dated March 3, 2010 published by Forbes Magazine at http://www.forbes.com/2010/03/02/health-care-summit-democrats-popularity-opinions-columnists-dan-gerstein.html?boxes=opinionschannellighttop
“Obama’s Proposed Medicaid Expansion: Lessons from TennCare” by Brian Blasé dated March 3, 2010 published by The Heritage Foundation at http://www.heritage.org/Research/HealthCare/wm2821.cfm
“RomneyCare model a dud” by Michael Graham dated March 4, 2010 published by Boston Herald at http://www.bostonherald.com/news/opinion/op_ed/view.bg?articleid=1237112&format=text )
Global Warming is only the latest “manufactured crisis” predicting the end of civilization as we know it, and requiring major cultural changes and spending billions to avoid the apocalyptic conclusion. Global warming is far from the first apocalyptic prediction, or even the first based on computer models. The belief that the world is coming to an end appears to be a universal concept based on an innate psychic need. The new apocalyptic visions are not based on revelation, but on "science." In the 1960s, Paul Ehrlich's bestseller, The “Population Bomb,” predicted the end of civilization by 1983 as a result of overpopulation, the first to base his conclusions on computer modeling. In the 1970s, the Club of Rome predicted the depletion of many of our necessary resources, including the depletion of oil by 1992, in its report, "The Limits of Growth." In 1987, the New York Times headlined an article titled "AIDS May Dwarf the Plague" to justify confronting the crisis of AIDS with mass deaths predicted. In October 2009, President Obama declared a state of national emergency because of the swine flu, which was exaggerated beyond belief. The crisis de jour is global warming, with hysteria based on the research done by the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in Eastern England. It claims that the world's largest temperature data set and its work in mathematical models was incorporated into the IPCC's (United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Nobel Prize-winning 2007 report. There are several problems with apocalyptic scenarios. For one, a genuine and avoidable crisis may be ignored due to crisis fatigue. Pathological science diminishes faith in genuine science. The world is full of swamis, faith healers, snake oil salesmen, and mountebanks. There are now thousands of professionals whose reputations are invested in maintaining the global warming hoax. The threat of global warming will eventually recede, but the need for an apocalyptic vision, however, will not since fear is the primary justification for change. All of these threats contain many of the same characteristics of the global warming threat and will again predict the end of the world; will be based on "scientific facts;" will require the creation of a massive bureaucracy; and will require the transfer of massive amounts of money to the hypothesized victims of the future crisis... too bad they are an exaggerated threat.
(“We Are Doomed – Again” by John Dietrich dated February 28, 2010 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/we_are_doomed_again.html )
The leader of a global Muslim movement has issued a fatwa, or religious edict, that he calls an absolute condemnation of terrorism. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, a former Pakistani lawmaker, says the 600-page fatwa bans suicide bombing "without any excuses, any pretexts, or exceptions." Tahir-ul-Qadri has issued similar, shorter decrees, but Tuesday's event in London is being hosted by the Quilliam Foundation, a government-funded, anti-extremism think tank. The religious scholar is the founder of Minhaj-ul-Quran, a worldwide movement that promotes a nonpolitical, tolerant Islam with hundreds of thousands of followers around the world, most of them in Pakistan or Pakistanis living in other countries.
(“Muslim leader issues anti-terror fatwa” dated March 2, 2010 published by Associated Press at http://www.nj.com/newsflash/index.ssf?/base/international-26/1267539604198630.xml&storylist=international )
Republicans have crafted campaign communications to highlight the transformation to socialism by President Obama and the Democrat to raise money this election cycle. The Republican National Committee plans to raise money this election cycle through an aggressive campaign capitalizing on “fear” of President Barack Obama and a promise to "save the country from trending toward socialism." Democrat leadership is sarcastically portrayed as “The Evil Empire,” with Obama as the Joker from Batman, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leaders Harry Reid are depicted as Cruella DeVille and Scooby Doo, respectively. Democrats, who resort to caricatures as a normal campaign technique, are squealing as if humorous parody is out of bounds. Democrats, who all too often treat their donors as cash machines, are trying to project their contempt onto the Republicans responsible for this campaign, but their exaggeration and hyperbole is not does not apply. Highlighting damage done by the current administration is precisely the technique needed to resonate with the TEA Party movement, since this has been the underlying complaint from the beginning of its creation.
(“RNC document mocks donors, plays on ‘fear’” by Ben Smith dated March 3, 2010 published by Politico at http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0310/33866.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:
· Politics at http://returntocommonsensesite.com/intro/politics.php
· Agriculture at http://returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/agriculture.php
· Education at http://returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/education.php
· Employment at http://returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/employment.php
· Environment at http://returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/environment.php