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Views on the News

Views on the News*

November 23, 2013

 

Losing to Barack Obama in 2012 shook the confidence of many Republicans and it's easy to understand why, but many people are missing the fact that the GOP is well positioned to thrive over the next couple of decades:

·    We have the most potent grassroots movement in politics:  The GOP has the Tea Party Movement, while the Democrats HAD the Occupy Movement.  The Tea Party Movement is about small government, cutting spending, and sticking to the Constitution. 

·    2010 was the GOP's best year since 1948:  It's funny to hear, "The Republican Party can't win anymore," when the GOP had its best year since 1948 less than three years ago: the GOP added 6 Senate seats, 63 House seats, and 680 seats in state legislatures. 

·    We should control the House at least until the next census: The GOP controls the House, because of gerrymandering, will likely remain firmly in control until the next census. 

·    The party is thriving on the state level: The GOP is doing fantastic on the state level. We control 29 governorships and in the state legislatures, we control the upper chamber in 30 states and the lower chamber in another 28 states. 

·    Our numbers with minorities are only going to go up:  The GOP made its first real attempt to showcase minority Republicans during the last GOP convention and the RNC has just begun to pour serious money and manpower into minority outreach.   

·    Short Term: ObamaCare means a strong 2014:  The GOP must hammer away relentlessly at ObamaCare and highlight scandals like Fast and Furious, the IRS persecution of the Tea Party, and Benghazi next summer while taking care not to aggravate the base. 

·    Barack Obama gives us a medium term opening:  The economy has been bad the entire time he's been in the White House; there are 10 million more Americans out of work than when he came into office. He's incredibly divisive, his foreign policy is in chaos, and his signature achievement is the Hindenburg of government policies. 

·    Long term, the ground is very unfavorable to the Democrats:  Unfortunately for all of us, we have a little too much socialism in this country and we are indeed running out of other people's money. This is bad for the country in general, but it's catastrophic for the Democrats whose entire electoral model is centered around recklessly spending money. 

If we want our children to have the same opportunities and bright future that previous generations of Americans have grown up with, then this country needs a conservative Republican Party to dominate our political process over the next couple of decades. 

(“8 Reasons The Republican Party Has A Bright Future” by John Hawkins dated November 16, 2013 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/johnhawkins/2013/11/16/8-reasons-the-republican-party-has-a-bright-future-n1747543 )

Obama wasn’t the first politician to lie and he won’t be the last, but most politicians who lie don’t have an army of reporters swarming around them to explain that they didn’t lie, but just inflated their misspeaking.  One man alone did not get up in front of the microphones and cameras and lie over and over again, because the entire liberal establishment lied and it’s still lying.  The media’s lies and excuses, even more than the original Obama lie, reveal why liberals can never be trusted.  Obama lied because he didn’t think Americans deserved to keep their health plans… or the truth.  He lied because he is a liberal.  The lie was baked into the nature of the progressive movement that he identified with and its social experiments with human lives for the greater good that he participated in.  Lying isn’t incidental to a liberal; liberal is another word for liar.  Someone who believes, as Obama and his media cronies do, that Americans are too stupid and ignorant to be trusted to choose their own health care, isn’t about to trust them with the truth.  Liberals don’t believe that the people they lie to are their equals.  If they did, not only wouldn’t they lie to them, but they wouldn’t subscribe to a skewed leftist take on liberalism that compels them to take away choices from people for their own good.  You don’t take away someone’s right to choose unless you think that they are inferior to you.  That’s the difference between liberals and conservatives.  Conservatives respect people’s choices. Liberals don’t respect someone’s choices; because they don’t respect them.  If Obama had trusted and respected Americans, he wouldn’t have lied to them about ObamaCare.  But if he had really trusted and respected them, he wouldn’t have inflicted ObamaCare on them.  Obama’s crime isn’t the lie; it’s the cover-up of the crime.  The crime is that Obama packaged a tax, a welfare program and a government takeover of health care together and called it reform.  The media has shown that Obama’s lie was no isolated incident by lying about the lie for the same reason that he told the lie.  The health plan lie wasn’t the lie of one politician protecting his reputation; it was the big lie of a liberal establishment protecting its agenda.  The liberal media manipulates its readers, listeners and viewers the same way that liberal governments manipulate their citizens.  Not only hasn’t Obama stopped lying about his lie, but the media and the rest of his movement haven’t stopped lying about his lie.  Obama’s big health care lie shows why liberals can’t be trusted.  Liberals believes its members are superior to ordinary people and cannot be trusted to represent them or to tell them the truth.

(“Lying Liberal Liars” by Daniel Greenfield dated November 22, 2013 published by Front Page Magazine at http://frontpagemag.com/2013/dgreenfield/lying-liberal-liars/ )

 

As John Smith so concisely framed it, "There are two ways to enslave and conquer a nation: One is by the sword. The other is by debt." And the United States is on a path to become worse financially than Greece and Japan in ten years.  Congress has taken this country from financial stability five short years ago to the ninth worst debt-to-GDP ratio in the world.  Most in Congress and many otherwise reasonable people walk around believing that a financial disaster cannot happen here, but it has happened here and will happen here again, but this time will be far worse.  During the Great Depression, the government debt was minimal and interest expense was not a crushing problem to the government, but today is completely different.  Everyone knows the $17 trillion in gross debt but few realize the extent of our other financial problems.  We have an unfunded pension liability to federal employees of over $7 trillion and this grows almost $1 trillion per year, and couple this with the $70 trillion or so negative cash flow in the future for social programs and the failure of the United States is assured.  The way the financial crisis will happen is the same way it happens everywhere else: Interest expense gets you.  When markets fear risk, interest rates rise and lending stops. The creditor country must then balance its budget.  By this time, interest expense becomes a very large proportion of the budget, crowding out pensions, medical and Social Security.  Not all of these can be paid as promised: Something has to be cut.  Interest expense will get the U.S.  Today, we have ZIRP: Zero Interest Rate Policy that is masking our underlying problem.  This has been brought on by Federal Reserve policy and economic problems in Europe that chased investors over here.  These things will change.  We will return to higher interest rates (an average of 6% over the last 40 years) hopefully from economic activity but likely from investors' risk assessment.  In either case, interest rates can easily consume 25% of our federal tax receipts. We will be forced to balance our budget by the markets if we don't do it ourselves and we will be caught in the debt trap… in the fine company of Iceland, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy.  The crisis that too much government debt creates is an economic and currency crisis.  It is very similar to what happens when a person or business borrows too much debt: it enters the debt trap.  As we have seen around the world recently, governments borrow themselves into the debt trap without a second thought, despite warnings from their own bankers, other countries and other central bankers.  Even more astounding is that the markets continue lending far beyond reason.  This leads to recessions or depressions.  Economic growth is the only way out, but this is the tough part. The government needs more revenue and needs economic growth to get it.  They then call on the central bank to start printing money ("quantitative easing") to stimulate economic growth.  If the central bank prints too much money, hyper-inflation will crush the currency, creating a currency crisis and recession or depression.  The answer for most countries is to make "structural changes," or spending cuts. This is the only way out because new taxes hurt GDP growth.  The United States is in the debt trap but we have yet to feel its teeth because of a confluence of beneficial anomalies have kept our interest rates at near zero.  The days of zero interest rates will end and the trap will close around the country and every citizen.  The only "American" way out is how we got out of the World War II debt: Balance the budget and grow GDP at 2-3% for 30 years and return to the debt-to-GDP ratio we had in 2008. 

(“Washington fiddles while the economy burns” by Murray T. Holland dated November 17, 2013 published by CNBC at http://www.cnbc.com/id/101200435 )

 

The Federal Reserve was originally established to be a lender of last resort to stop bank runs, a payments’ processor to clear checks, and an issuer of a uniform national currency, and from this limited beginning, it quickly evolved into a full-fledged central bank.  The list of failures is long.  Once the United States went off the gold standard, the Fed was charged with maintaining the value of the currency, yet the dollar is only worth roughly one-twenty-third of what it was worth when the Fed went into operation a hundred years ago.  The Fed is supposed to maintain full employment, which cannot be done by monetary policy alone when excessive government spending, taxing and regulations sap the vitality out of the economy.  The Fed has been given powers to regulate banks and, most recently, to “protect consumers,” which is undefined and infinitely elastic.  The existence of central banks with discretionary powers in a fiat-currency world creates moral hazard in the financial system. Because of the explicit and implicit ‘safety net’ offered by the existence of central banks, private financial institutions cannot be observed behaving as they would in absence of moral hazard.  Because of moral hazard in the financial system (privatization of gains from risky decisions and socialization of the losses) the trend has been toward ever more regulations and calls for closer supervision of financial companies.  The resulting ‘permission-and-denial’ regime opens ever wider the door to crony capitalism in the financial system.  Ever-increasing debt as a percentage of gross domestic product by most countries, coupled with ever-increasing global financial regulation, means the global banking and financial system becomes less and less efficient. Central banks have become the enablers of destructive fiscal policies by buying endless quantities of government debt, rather than disciplinarians.  In the end, they cater to irresponsible politicians. The idea of central bank “independence” is a myth.  The fact is we do not need a central bank, since many eminent monetary and financial scholars both past, such as Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman, and present, such as Richard Timberlake, Lawrence White, George Selgin, Gerald O’Driscoll and former International Monetary Fund official Warren Coats have explained better ways of running a monetary system, including a return to the gold standard.

(“The failed Fed” by Richard Rahn dated November 18, 2013 published by Washington Times at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/nov/18/rahn-the-failed-fed/ )

There have been 27 significant changes made to ObamaCare: at least 10 that Obama has made unilaterally, 15 that Congress has passed and the President has signed, and 2 by the Supreme Court, but even this large number of changes hasn’t stopped the cascade of failures.  Here is the list of changes that have already been made to the law.  Here are the changes by administrative action:

·    Congressional opt-out:  The administration offers employer contributions to members of Congress and their staffs when they purchase insurance on the ACA exchanges, a subsidy the law doesn’t provide. (September 30, 2013)

·    Delaying the individual mandate:  The administration changed the deadline for the individual mandate, by declaring that customers who have purchased insurance by March 31 will avoid the tax penalty. (October 23, 2013)

·    Employer-mandate delay:  Reporting requirements for employers were delayed by one year. (July 2, 2013)

·    Self-attestation:  The administration decided it would allow “self-attestation” of income by applicants for health insurance in the exchanges. This was later partially retracted after congressional and public outcry over the likelihood of fraud. (July 15, 2013)

·    Small businesses on hold: The administration has delayed the implementation of the SHOP (Small-Employer Health Option Program) exchanges until 2015. (March 11, 2013)

·    Closing the high-risk pool: The administration halted enrollment in transitional federal high-risk pools created by the law, blocking coverage for an estimated 40,000 new applicants, citing a lack of funds. (February 15, 2013)

·    Medicare Advantage patch:  The administration provided extra payments to Medicare Advantage plans, in an effort to temporarily forestall cuts in benefits and therefore delay exodus of MA plans from the program. (April 19, 2011)

·    Employee reporting:  The administration instituted a one-year delay of the requirement that employers must report to their employees on their W-2 forms the full cost of their employer-provided health insurance. (January 1, 2012)

·    Doubling allowed deductibles: Group health plans are allowed to apply separate patient cost-sharing limits to different services, such as doctor/hospital and prescription drugs. (February 20, 2013)

·    Delaying a low-income plan: The administration delayed implementation of the Basic Health Program until 2015 providing more-affordable health coverage for certain low-income individuals not eligible for Medicaid. (March 22, 2013)

Here are the changes by Congress, signed by President Obama:

·    1099 repealed: Congress repealed the paperwork (“1099”) mandate that would have required businesses to report to the IRS all of their transactions with vendors totaling $600 or more in a year. (April 14, 2011)

·    CLASS Act eliminated:  Congress repealed the unsustainable CLASS (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports) program of government-subsidized long-term-care insurance, which was unsustainable. (January 2, 2013)

·    Cutting CO-OPs:  Congress cut $2.2 billion from the “Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan” (CO-OP), blocking creation of government-subsidized co-op insurance programs in about half the states. (January 2, 2013)

·    No free-choice vouchers:  Congress repealed a program that would have allowed “free-choice vouchers,” that could lead young, healthy workers to opt out and drive up costs for everybody else. (April 15, 2011)

·    No Medicaid for well-to-do seniors:  Congress changed how the eligibility for certain programs is calculated under ObamaCare. (November 21, 2011)

·    CO-OPs, IPAB, IRS defunded:  Congress made cuts to agencies implementing Obamacare.  (December 23, 2011)

·    Slush-fund savings:  Congress slashed $11.6 billion from the Prevention and Public Health slush fund and $2.5 billion from ObamaCare’s “Louisiana Purchase.” (February 22, 2012)

·    Less cash for Louisiana:  Congress saved $670 million by rescinding additional funds earmarked for Louisiana. (July 6, 2012)

·    Trimming the Medicare trust-fund transfer:  Congress cut $200 million from the funds to be cut from the Medicare Part A and Part B trust funds and sent to the Community-Based Care Transition Program established and funded by the ACA. (March 26, 2013)

·    Military benefits:  Congress clarified that plans provided by TRICARE, the military’s health-insurance program, constitutes minimal essential health-care coverage as required by the ACA. (April 26, 2010)

·    VA benefits:  Congress clarified that health care provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs constitutes minimum essential ACA health-care coverage. (May 27, 2010)

·    Drug-price clarification:  Congress modified the definition of average manufacturer price (AMP) to include inhalation, infusion, implanted, or injectable drugs that are not generally dispensed through a retail pharmacy. (August 10, 2010)

·    Doc-tax fix:  Congress modified the amount of premium tax credits that individuals would have to repay if they are over-allotted, to help offset the costs of the postponement of cuts in Medicare physician payments called for in the ACA. (December 15, 2010)

·    Extending the adoption credit:  Congress extended the nonrefundable adoption tax credit through tax year 2012. (December 17, 2010)

·    TRICARE for adult children:  Congress extended TRICARE coverage to dependent adult children up to age 26. (January 7, 2011)

Here are the changes by the Supreme Court:

·    Medicare expansion made voluntary:  The court ruled it had to be voluntary for states to expand Medicaid eligibility to people with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level, restricting the federal government from haltng funds for existing state Medicaid programs if they chose not to expand the program.

·    The individual mandate made a tax:  The court determined that violating the mandate that Americans must purchase government-approved health insurance would only result in individuals’ paying a “tax,” making it, legally speaking, optional for people to comply.

This law is being dismantled even before it takes full effect because it is so fatally flawed.  In the meantime, our elected representatives must protect them as much as possible from harm.  The 27 “fixes that already have been made to the law have not repaired the law, but some have indeed protected some Americans from even further damage.

(“Twenty-Seven Obamacare Changes” by Grace-Marie Turner dated November 15, 2013 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/article/364080/twenty-seven-obamacare-changes-grace-marie-turner-tyler-hartsfield )

The vision on which the all-encompassing and all-controlling welfare state was built is a vision of widespread helplessness, requiring ever more expanding big government.  The last thing the political left needs, or can even afford, are self-reliant individuals.  If such people became the norm, that would destroy not only the agenda and the careers of those on the left, but even their flattering image of themselves as saviors of the less fortunate.  Victimhood is where it's at.  If there are not enough real victims, then fictitious victims must be created, as with the claim that there is "a war on women."  Why anyone would have an incentive or a motivation to create a war on women in the first place is just one of the questions that should be asked of those who promote this political slogan, obviously designed for the gullible.  The real war, which is being waged in our schools, in the media and among the intelligentsia, is the war on achievement.  If the concept of achievement threatens the prevailing ideology, the reality of achievement despite having obstacles to overcome is a deadly threat.

(“The War Against Achievement Is An Ominous Trend” by Thomas Sowell dated November 18, 2013 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials-on-the-right/111813-679621-achievement-of-years-past-is-now-perversely-called-privilege.htm )

 

The developments in the six-party nuclear talks with Iran in Geneva signaled the end of American world leadership.  Global leadership is based on two things, power and credibility, and the United States remains the most powerful actor in the world, but last week American credibility was shattered.  Secretary of State John Kerry lied to Israeli and Gulf Arab leaders and threatening the Israeli people.  He lied to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Saudis about the content of the deal US and European negotiators had achieved with the Iranians.  Kerry told them that in exchange for Iran temporarily freezing its nuclear weapons development program, the US and its allies would free up no more than $5 billion in Iranian funds seized and frozen in foreign banks.  Kerry’s threats were so obscene and unprecedented that Israeli officials broke with tradition and disagreed with him openly and directly, while he was still in the country.  Normally supportive leftist commentators have begun reporting Kerry’s history of anti-Israel advocacy, including his 2009 letter of support for pro-Hamas activists organizing flotillas to Gaza in breach of international and American law.  As for Kerry’s lies to the US’s chief Middle Eastern allies, it was the British and the French who informed the Israelis and the Saudis that far from limiting sanctions relief to a few billion dollars in frozen funds, the draft agreement involved ending sanctions on Iran’s oil and gas sector, and on other industries.  The draft agreement exposed Washington’s willingness to effectively end economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran’s agreement to cosmetic concessions that will not slow down its nuclear weapons program.  Both the US’s position, and the fact that Kerry lied about that position to the US’s chief allies, ended what was left of American credibility in the Middle East.  That credibility was already tattered by US fecklessness in Syria and support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.  Of course, it wasn’t Iran that rejected the American surrender, and it wasn’t America that scuttled the proposal.  It was France.  Unable to hide behind American power and recognizing its national interest in preventing Iran from emerging as a nuclear armed power in the Middle East, France vetoed a deal that paved the way a nuclear Iran.  Kerry’s failure to reach the hoped-for deal represented a huge blow to America, and a double victory for Iran. The simple fact that Washington was willing to sign the deal, and lie about it to its closest allies, caused the US to lose its credibility in the Middle East. Even without the deal, the US paid the price of appeasing Iran and surrendering leadership of the free world to France and Israel.  To get a deal with Iran we would have to sell out all of our other allies.  That’s not only a moral problem.  Throwing over old allies like that would reduce the confidence that America’s allies all over the world have in our support.”  Certainly Obama, now universally reviled by America’s allies in the Middle East, will be diplomatically weakened.  This diplomatic weakness may not make much difference to Obama’s foreign policy, because appeasement and retreat do not require diplomatic strength.  It was America that lost credibility, not Obama.  It was America that squandered the essential component of global leadership, and that is the watershed event of this young century.  Alliances are based on the perceived longevity of the shared interests, and that perception is based on the credibility of international actors.  Until Obama became President, the consensus view of the US foreign policy establishment and of both major parties was that the US had a permanent interest in being the hegemonic power in the Middle East.  US hegemony ensured three permanent US national security interests: preventing enemy regimes and terror groups from acquiring the means to cause catastrophic harm; ensuring the smooth flow of petroleum products through the Persian Gulf and the Suez Canal; and demonstrating the credibility of American power by ensuring the security of US allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia.  The third interest was an essential foundation of US deterrence of the Soviets during the Cold War, and of the Chinese over the past decade.  Regardless of who was in the White House, for the better part of 70 years, every US government has upheld these interests. This consistency built US credibility, which in turn enabled the US to throw its weight around.  Obama departed from this foreign policy consensus in an irrevocable manner last week. In so doing, he destroyed US credibility.  Send a message to US allies and adversaries alike that Obama’s radical actions do not represent the wishes of the American people and will not go unanswered by their representatives in Congress.

(“The Demise of Pax Americana” by Caroline Glick dated November 15, 2013 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/carolineglick/2013/11/15/the-demise-of-pax-americana-n1747202 )

 

* 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.  Updates have been made this week to the following issue sections:

· Civil Rights at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/Culture/civilrights.php

                                      

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

www.ReturnToCommonSensesite.com