Views on the News – 2/18/2012
By: David Coughlin
This November’s election will not be decided by voters affirmatively choosing the Republican candidate, but rather voters deciding whether they were going to reject Barack Obama. Second-term elections are always a referendum on the incumbent, not the challenger. In 1980, Americans chose to give Jimmy Carter the boot. Inflation and interest rates had gone through the roof on his watch, and unemployment had risen. The Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan, and its surrogates had made inroads in the United States’ own backyard. Carter made Americans feel bad about themselves, so they voted him out of office. Americans made a huge gamble when they picked Barack Obama in 2008. They chose an inexperienced and little-known but charismatic figure who promised change at a time when the country was in deep crisis. In many ways, he was a blank slate on which voters wrote their own hopes and dreams. They saw in him what they wanted to see. In November, the voters will decide whether or not they made a mistake and, if so, a big enough one to gamble again on the new guy. Obama’s biggest challenge in 2012 will be running against the Barack Obama of 2008:
· Will Americans be sick of his grandiose rhetoric?
· Will they believe they’re better off now than they were four years ago?
· Will they believe he delivered on that “hope and change” message?
· Or will they feel cheated?
His record has been dubbed “debt, doubt, and decline.” The best thing the Republican nominee may have going for him is that he is not Obama. November voters may just have had enough of Obama to try their luck again by picking the other guy, no matter who he is.
(“Referendum on the Incumbent” by Linda Chavez dated February 10, 2012 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/lindachavez/2012/02/10/referendum_on_the_incumbent )
>From running up trillions in debt and deficit, to the vast expansion of the size and scope of federal bureaucracy, Obama has done more in three years to supplant our 236 year-old Constitutional Republic with a Euro-style socialist autocracy, than a lesser Marxist could have accomplished in a lifetime. Karl Marx once said: “The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion.” When Karl Marx speaks, Barack Obama listens. Despite two pathetic feints at “compromise,” Obama’s illegal requirement that faith-based groups pay for policies providing immoral “reproductive services” remains in full force. The Obama administration offered its non-compromise “which instead of forcing religious employers to pay for birth control, it will force insurance companies to offer the drugs free of charge to all women, no matter where they work.” Who do you think pays for the insurance policies that provide “free” birth control, sterilizations and abortifacients to employees? The very religious organizations doctrinally prohibited from paying for these “services” in the first place. This “compromise” is nothing but a South Side Chicago shell game, dressed up as a concession. This is a battle Barack Obama and Democrats cannot win. He has two choices: He can either stubbornly stand firm and continue to give the GOP a tremendous election year bat with which to beat him about the head and neck; or he can cave and further cultivate the narrative that he is weak and impetuous. The President has suffered a self-inflicted wound so deep that it may not heal before November; especially since, as evidenced by his latest illusory “accommodation,” he can’t seem to stop picking at the scab.
(“When Karl Marx Speaks, Barack Obama Listens” by J. Matt Barber dated February 11, 2012 published by Cybercast News Service at http://cnsnews.com/blog/j-matt-barber/when-karl-marx-speaks-barack-obama-listens )
How many times will the Americans have to be hit over the head before they understand that Obama is the most corrupt, dictatorial, and ideologically driven President in American history, and that his entire being and psyche are devoted to transforming the country not only into a socialist utopia, but into a nation permanently governed by a radical oligarchy? So many seem to not care or are deliberately oblivious to the long-term implications of his actions, many of which mirror those of the despots that ran roughshod over the last century. The recent ruling by the Obama Department of Health and Human Services forcing religious institutions to provide either directly or through private insurance not only contraceptives, but abortion pills and sterilization is not a matter of women’s rights, but a means of setting the precedent and foundation to force organized religion to be subservient to the state. The passage of ObamaCare, from which this edict stems, has nothing to do with healthcare; rather, it is a vehicle to ultimately control the day-to-day activities of the American people through the dictates and mandates emanating from an overarching bureaucracy. Once fully implemented, individual liberty and freedom, the hallmarks of the nation’s history, will be eradicated forever. The Obama regime has shown a callous disregard for the sanctity of life, as no administration in the nation’s past has so aggressively promoted abortion, and, through the rationing mechanism in ObamaCare, the very real prospect of government-sponsored euthanasia. Nothing reveals Obama’s dictatorial mindset more than his relationship with Congress. His recent actions in unilaterally making appointments that are subject to Senate approval while the Senate was still in session are blatantly unconstitutional and done to marginalize Congress. His appointment of innumerable “czars” is a means of bypassing Congress and their oversight of the federal Cabinet departments. His Department of Justice has been transformed into an advocacy group to enforce the left-wing radical version of social justice while refusing to be accountable to Congress. Obama has resorted to utilizing executive orders and volumes of regulations from various agencies under his command in order to put in place his radical policies and sidestep Congress and the will of the people. In furtherance of Obama’s transformative goals, he and his minions are in the process of shackling the free market through unfettered government control and influence. It is the aim of the Obama presidency to create a so-called “government-business partnership” wherein the government chooses the winners and losers based upon their allegiance to and support of the regime. The massive spending and debt incurred over the past three years are the byproduct of Obama’s overarching objective to make certain that the overwhelming majority of the populace becomes, by necessity, dependent on the government, thus more subservient and easily controlled. Whether the country becomes insolvent or the middle class ceases to exist is immaterial. The history of the United States and its traditions of liberty and individual freedom should be a bulwark against the successful emergence of someone like Barack Obama and his cronies. Yet the majority of the citizenry, the media, the opposition party, the members of Congress, and the judiciary are not shouting from the highest hilltop and taking action to stop the Obama regime’s unconstitutional acts and power-grabs. It is not hyperbole to say that we see someone in the White House whose character reflects the worst and most dangerous traits to be found in a national leader, and we are stunned that the majority of the American people do not understand what is happening to the most successful society in the history of mankind. We know that the only viable solution to avoid the stormclouds gathering over the horizon is to relegate Barack Obama and his regime to a footnote in the annals of American history.
(“In the Footsteps of Twentieth Century Despots” by Steve McCann dated February 13, 2012 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/02/barack_obama_in_the_footsteps_of_twentieth_century_despots.html )
President Obama claims to be on a moral crusade for “fairness,” suggesting that his soak-the-rich class warfare will stop “millionaires and billionaires” from grabbing more than their fair share of wealth, but the most likely outcome is that he will end up grabbing more than his fair share of power, and everybody else will be poorer. It would be hard to name a single case where class warfare appeals to envy and resentment are associated with faster growth rates, more private sector jobs and higher living standards for ordinary people. Moreover, not even hard-core communists seem to have believed in the morality of class warfare. It was always a cynical strategy to provide political cover for a power grab. The modern gospel of class warfare was developed by Karl Marx. Marx and his comrade Friedrich Engels claimed that (1) there was relentless class struggle between capitalists (the “bourgeoisie”) and workers (the “proletariat”), (2) the workers would become poorer and poorer, and (3) eventually there would be a revolution by workers against capitalists. This revolution didn’t happen, because capitalism delivered higher living standards that benefited everyone. Since Marx promoted violence, it wasn’t surprising that his ideas flourished in some of history’s most barbaric regimes. The first was the Soviet Union, thanks to Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (“Lenin”). Lenin made his Bolsheviks the most successful revolutionary faction that became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Stalin didn’t seem particularly concerned about the fine points of Marxist doctrines like class warfare. Conversely, Stalin found that the slightest deviation from Marxist orthodoxy was a convenient rationale for authorizing the murder of “class enemies.” Like Stalin, communist China’s Chairman Mao seemed to view class warfare not as a moral principle but as a doctrine that could help him gain power. The Soviets demanded that their Chinese comrades promote a peasant revolution, so they could exploit the resulting political chaos. Mao’s highest moral principle was to pursue his own self-interest, regardless of how many people suffered as a consequence. Although Marxism generally hasn’t appealed to Americans, progressives have endlessly attacked the private sector and suggested that there’s no limit to how much good politicians might do if only they had more power. Progressives have embraced the soak-the-rich doctrine of class warfare. It has done less harm here than in communist regimes, because we have had constitutional limitations on government power, but class warfare has done harm anyway. Theodore Roosevelt was America’s first progressive President. He denounced private businesses as he sought to gain more power. He accused Standard Oil and other businesses of being wicked monopolists, even though output of oil, steel, electricity, cars, food, hair pins and just about everything else was increasing dramatically, while prices were going down, down, down. TR blamed the 1907 financial crisis on “certain malefactors of great wealth [who brought about] as much financial stress as they possibly can, in order to discredit the government.” When Franklin Delano Roosevelt became President in 1933, he began denouncing investors and entrepreneurs. His speeches bristled with barbs like “over-privileged,” “excessive profits,” “excessive private power,” “unscrupulous money changers,” “economic royalists,” “privileged princes” and “economic tyranny.” FDR declared that “the duty rests upon the Government to restrict incomes by very high taxes.” He increased the tax burden with higher personal income taxes, higher corporate income taxes, higher excise taxes, higher estate taxes and higher gift taxes. When investors and entrepreneurs would like to have hired people, the New Deal discouraged them from doing that, and double-digit unemployment persisted all thru the 1930s. Class warfare has had terrible consequences, then as now, and when politicians go around peddling class warfare, they’re drawing from a poisoned well.
(“Economic Fairness: President Obama’s Most Cynical Tactic” by Jim Powell dated February 12, 2012 published by Forbes at http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimpowell/2012/02/12/economic-fairness-president-obamas-most-cynical-tactic/ )
Like magic stagecraft, Obama’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2013 is a disingenuous bit of misdirection with a tax increase on the wealthy and defense spending cuts that will never materialize, and the White House asserts that in the President’s second term revenues will soar, outlays will fall, and $1.3 trillion annual deficits will be cut in half like the lady in the box on stage, but like most magic it is not real, just sleight of hand and stagecraft. President Obama’s fourth budget promises a fourth straight year of trillion-dollar deficits, a fourth straight year of masking new spending with lame gimmickry, and a fourth straight year of asking Congress to yoke the American people with a historically massive tax hike. The President has decided to campaign, instead of govern, as he ducks this country’s fiscal problems with a DOA 2,000 page, 10 pound farce. All voters need to do is suspend disbelief for another nine months and ignore the first four years. The real news in Obama’s budget proposal is the story of his four years, and what a tale they tell:
· Four years of spending of more than 24% of GDP, the four highest spending years since 1946, spending will increase by $193 billion to $3.8 trillion, or 24.3% of GDP.
· Another deficit of $1.327 trillion in 2012, also an increase from 2011, and making four years in a row above $1.29 trillion, and the last time that happened? Never.
· Revenues at historic lows because of the mediocre recovery and temporary tax cuts that are deadweight revenue losses because they do so little for economic growth. The White House budget office estimates that for the fourth year in a row revenues won’t reach 16% of GDP; the last time they were below 16% for any year was 1950.
· In 2008 while campaigning, Obama said that the $4 trillion in debt accumulated under President Bush was “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic,” but apparently adding an astonishing $5.7 trillion in debt in a single Presidential term is acceptable for a “transformative” President like Obama.
· This doesn’t include the debt that future taxpayers owe current and future retirees through the IOUs in the Social Security “trust fund.”
It is a budget that claims $4 trillion in deficit reduction through a series of cheap tricks that don’t stand up to even the gentlest of scrutiny:
· Fully half of the savings come from the administration’s claiming as its own the already committed $2 trillion in cuts won by Congressional Republicans in the debt-limit deal.
· Some $850 billion comes from not spending war dollars that were never going to be spent anyway (thanks for the “sleeves out of your vest”).
· Another $430 billion comes from jury-rigging the baseline to hide the cost of the infamous Medicare “doc fix.”
· In February of 2009, the President vowed “to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office, but he has fallen wildly short of that mark, doubling the Bush record deficit each year in office.
· In 2008 while campaigning, Obama said that the $4 trillion in debt accumulated under President Bush was “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.”
The only thing that you can be certain will become law in this budget if Obama is re-elected is the monumental tax increase:
· His plan would raise tax rates across the board on anyone or any business owners making more than $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples.
· The President’s plan would also cancel the investment tax rate reductions that have been in place since 2003, impose a new investment income tax hike of 3.8%, and introduce the new “Buffett rule” on the rich.
· Tax rates will rise as follows: capital gains to 30% from 15% today; dividends to 30% from 15%; the estate tax to 45% from 35%, and the end to the temporary payroll tax cut and end to the state and local bond interest deductions.
· The President wants a new “global minimum tax” without any specifics, but said the White House will be saying more by the end of the month.
· Despite its tax increases, the White House still predicts that the annual budget deficit will be $901 billion in 2013 and never fall below $575 billion in any of the next 10 years.
· A contradiction of this plan is that the White House predicts accelerating real GDP growth of 3% in 2013 and 4.1% by 2015 even as the economy is whacked by these tax increases.
Then the campaign rhetoric kicked in and the White House promised all of this will magically change in 2013 if Obama is re-elected:
· Next year, revenues will suddenly leap to 17.8% of GDP thanks to tax increases on the wealthy, which we are supposed to believe will have little impact on growth.
· Meanwhile, spending will fall by one percentage point of GDP to 23.3%, thanks to the automatic cuts in last year’s debt-ceiling bill, with more than half of those are scheduled to come out of defense, which even Obama’s Defense Secretary says are unacceptable and will be renegotiated next year no matter who wins in November.
· The cuts also include an estimated $1 trillion in savings in domestic discretionary programs that also won’t happen, especially because Obama’s budget proposes to add $350 billion to these programs.
· This budget also proposes no meaningful reforms in entitlements, which are the fastest growing part of the budget and will grow even faster once ObamaCare really kicks in.
Last year when Obama’s budget was voted on by the Senate, it was defeated 97-0 and this year’s versions will undoubtedly suffer the same fate, if it is ever voted on. The political reality of budgeting is that voters should only believe what they can see, which is what politicians are proposing now, but promises of future spending cuts are a mirage, and he needs to point to this mirage because Obama’s fiscal record is the worst in modern American history.
(“The Amazing Obama Budget” dated February 14, 2012 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204883304577221342883636060.html
“Ball Four” dated February 14, 2012 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/290988/ball-four-editors
“Obama Spend It Now” by Andrew Stiles dated February 14, 2012 published by Washington Free Beacon at http://freebeacon.com/obama-spend-it-now/ )
There is a general sense that the end of the era of American pre-eminence, if and when it comes, need not mean the end of the present international order, with its widespread freedom, unprecedented global prosperity (even amid the current economic crisis) and absence of war among the great powers. The present world order was largely shaped by American power and reflects American interests and preferences. If the balance of power shifts in the direction of other nations, the world order will change to suit their interests and preferences. For several decades, the balance of power in the world has favored democratic governments. In a genuinely post-American world, the balance would shift toward the great-power autocracies. The creation and survival of a liberal economic order has depended, historically, on great powers that are both willing and able to support open trade and free markets, often with naval power. In the past, the largest and most dominant economies in the world have also been the richest. Nations whose peoples are such obvious winners in a relatively unfettered economic system have less temptation to pursue protectionist measures and have more of an incentive to keep the system open. American economic dominance has been welcomed by much of the world because the U.S. has always benefitted its partners. Finally, what about the long peace that has held among the great powers for the better part of six decades? Would it survive in a post-American world? American predominance would be replaced by some kind of multipolar harmony, but multipolar systems have historically been neither particularly stable nor particularly peaceful. Conflicts erupt as a result of fluctuations in the delicate power equation. There is little reason to believe that a return to multipolarity in the 21st century would bring greater peace and stability than it has in the past. The era of American predominance has shown that there is no better recipe for great-power peace than certainty about who holds the upper hand. Many foreign-policy experts see the present international order as the inevitable result of human progress, a combination of advancing science and technology, an increasingly global economy, strengthening international institutions, evolving “norms” of international behavior and the gradual but inevitable triumph of liberal democracy over other forms of government, forces of change that transcend the actions of men and nations. Americans certainly like to believe that our preferred order survives because it is right and just, not only for us but for everyone. We assume that the triumph of democracy is the triumph of a better idea, and the victory of market capitalism is the victory of a better system, and that both are irreversible. The idea of inevitable evolution means that there is no requirement to impose a decent order, but international order is not an evolution; it is an imposition. This is domination of one vision over others, in America’s case, the domination of free-market and democratic principles, together with an international system that supports them. The present order will last only as long as those who favor it and benefit from it retain the will and capacity to defend it. If and when American power declines, the institutions and norms that American power has supported will decline, too. Or more likely, if history is a guide, they may collapse altogether as we make a transition to another kind of world order, or to disorder. The U.S. was essential to keeping the present world order together and the alternative to American power is not peace and harmony but chaos and catastrophe, which is what the world looked like right before the American order came into being.
(“Why the World Needs America” by Robert Kagan dated February 11, 2012 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203646004577213262856669448.html )
David Coughlin is a political pundit, editor of the policy action planning web site “Return to Common Sense,” and an active member of the White Plains Tea Party. He retired from IBM after a short career in the U.S. Army. He currently resides with his wife of 40 years in Hawthorne, NY. He was educated at West Point (Bachelor of Science, 1971) and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (Masters, Administrative Science, 1976).