Views on the News – 3/16/2013
By: David Coughlin
For most of his first term, President Obama successfully sold a line to the public that economists will tell you is intellectual snake oil, blaming the slow economy almost entirely on President George W. Bush, and Mitt Romney was unable to persuade U.S. voters otherwise. Recent economic news, timed with the start of Obama’s second term, suggests that the political debate, if not the actual economy, is at an important milestone. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average reached new levels; the unemployment rate finally dropped below the rate where he started as President; and the Federal Reserve Board reported that Americans have recovered the staggering $16 trillion lost in wealth since the recession. Things are not really as good as the numbers suggest, and they are all but certain to get worse. If the $85 billion in cuts in the federal budget sequester go through as planned, gross domestic product will slow 0.5%, and about 750,000 jobs could be lost by the end of the year, the Congressional Budget Office says. This is a very different American economy than the one we thought we had before the recession, and not in a good way. It’s not just that 7.7% unemployment is still very high and something of a grim new “normal,” along with still-high long-term unemployment. There is little prospect of a consensus over tax reform or deficit reduction that will change that. The high Dow numbers conceal a darker truth about inequality and a still-ailing economy beset by bottomed-out interest rates that make bonds unattractive. Those low interest rates are the sign of an economy that is nowhere near to a full recovery from the financial crisis of 2008, while the high level of stock prices shouldn’t be cause for celebration; it is, in large part, a reflection of the growing disconnect between productivity and wages. Even Attorney General Eric Holder is warning that the biggest banks have grown not only too big to fail, but too big to prosecute. Obama-era changes such as the health care surcharge on upper incomes, along with an increase in top tax rates back to the Clinton level, will have only minor impacts, especially relative to the changes that occurred after the New Deal. Obama has his work cut out for him if he wants “his” economy to look like a positive legacy four years from now.
(“It’s Obama’s Economy – at Last” by Michael Hirsh dated March 8, 2013 published by National Journal at http://www.nationaljournal.com/whitehouse/it-s-obama-s-economy-at-last-20130308 )
The regular rules of order in Congress are that: the committees hold hearings, both parties have input into the writing of legislation, and eventually the Senate and House leaders have a conference to come to mutually agreeable terms; this conference report results in a bill that is submitted to the President for signing, but the President doesn’t seem to follow the old established rules. He wants the speaker to visit the White House, meet with him and his inner circle, and, particularly with regard to issues of spending, sign an unconditional surrender. Analysts have seen this as proof of Obama’s totalitarian ambitions or an inflated political ego. Others characterize it as a sure sign that he is pursuing socialism. Those who seek to understand President Obama may benefit from studying the governing tactics of Chicago’s Mayor Daley I. Chicago’s Mayor Daley I gained absolute power by gaining absolute control over the budget. Congress’s authority to write a budget is determined not by a Home Rule Commission, but by the Constitution, but President Obama was able to cleverly subvert Congress’s power of the purse this way: the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate has not passed a budget in four years. Once the Senate refused to pass a budget, the House then had no input into budget decisions and, as a consequence, policy-making. A policy that is not funded may as well not exist. The GOP-controlled House is reduced to going along with continuing resolutions. President Obama has a small group of insiders who decide what the policy shall be and the language of bills. This spending is not blind; it has gone toward public-sector unions and units of government largely controlled by Democrats. Like Daley I, Obama is using federal dollars to assure the long-term electoral security of his party. The only constraint President Obama faces is that he desperately wants to raise the debt limit, but for that, he needs House cooperation. Since the House refuses to raise the debt limit, Obama seeks to turn the voters against the Republicans and win the House back. Obama has to compromise with the House, but he has no experience doing so. President Obama is confined by this paradigm, because he has no understanding of, or inclination to engage in, the legislative process. Because he does not have to deal with the legislature, he does not understand politicking. In his view of governing, his only hope is to raise the debt limit and once again achieve majority control of the House. President Obama did not become President with the intention of ruling as an autocrat; it is more accurate to say that autocracy is the only style of political leadership he knows.
(“The Chicago Roots of President Obama’s Leadership Style” by Michael Bargo Jr. dated March 11, 2013 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/03/the_chicago_roots_of_president_obamas_leadership_style.html )
For the first time since Obama took office, there is a chance that a fiscal budget can be passed, with each participant at least talking about actively participating. House Republicans have submitted a plan to change course, introducing a budget that balances in 10 years, without raising taxes while Democrats in the Senate and the White House do not see the need for any budget constraints. This Republican budget matches spending with income: spending will increase by 3.4% but will not exceed what it collects in revenue, or 19.1% of gross domestic product each year. Because the U.S. economy will grow faster than spending, the budget will balance by 2023, and debt held by the public will drop to just over half the size of the economy. A balanced budget is a reasonable goal, because it returns government to its proper limits and focus. Smaller deficits will keep interest rates low, which will help small businesses to expand and hire. The House Republican budget will expand opportunity in major areas like energy; it will protect and strengthen key priorities like Medicare; it will encourage social mobility by retooling welfare; and it will fix the broken tax code to create jobs and increase wages. This budget will put the country on a path to North American energy independence. This budget also repeals the President’s health-care law and replaces it with patient-centered reforms, while protecting and strengthening Medicare. Starting in 2024, we’ll offer eligible seniors a range of insurance plans from which they can choose, including traditional Medicare, and help them pay the premiums. This budget extends the welfare reforms of 1996 to other federal aid programs. It encourages states to get people off the welfare rolls and onto payrolls. This Republican budget also begins to simplify the tax code by closing loopholes and consolidating tax rates with the goal being just two brackets: 10% and 25%. This budget is focused on returning the United States to once again become a haven of opportunity. Meanwhile the Senate Democrats under Patty Murray are crafting a budget proposal that never balances, and calls for $1.5 trillion in new tax increases, at least $100 billion in stimulus spending, and a smattering of nebulous spending cuts, most of which can be chalked up to accounting gimmicks. Murray’s budget, which is woefully light on specifics, essentially does not offer any definitive solution to the nation’s long term problems, but feels free to reject the Republican alternative without offering any thing to replace it. Although required by law to submit their budget blueprint no later than the first Monday in February, President Obama now says that he may not send a budget plan up the Hill until the middle of April. This is the fifth year running of Democrat incompetence and distain for the budget process. The economy will grow, and the country will regain its strength. Washington owes the American people a balanced budget and all we need is national leadership, and that is where we have the biggest void!
(“The GOP Plan to Balance the Budget by 2023” by Paul Ryan dated March 12, 2013 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323826704578353902612840488.html?KEYWORDS=paul+ryan+GOP+Plan+to+Balance+the+budget
“The Democrats’ Budget” by Andrew Stiles dated March 14, 2013 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/342932/democrats-budget-andrew-stiles )
Liberalism was originally named for its chief aim, liberty, which is now known as Classical Liberalism, yet, now the term liberalism has been co-opted by socialism. “Classical liberalism” is the term used to designate the ideology advocating private property, an unhampered market economy, the rule of law, constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and of the press, and international peace based on free trade, including freedom of contract and exchange and the free disposition of one’s own labor. Historically, liberalism has manifested a hostility to state action, which, it insists, should be reduced to a minimum. The philosophy of liberty devolved into doctrinaire, pedestrian socialism, with its inane fixation on controlling the habits of men and extinguishing their freedoms. Old Liberals were content with laissez-faire until they realized this method would not work to make the world a better place. They then decided to adopt more government controls for economics and communitarian vision of property ownership. The Old Liberals defined themselves as fierce advocates of freedom, however recipients decided to use this opportunity. The New Liberals are fixated upon outcomes, specifically the great aims of Utilitarianism, “the greatest good for the greatest number,” or practically speaking, happiness and pleasure. Ironically, liberalism itself grew as a reaction against the welfare state and the bureaucratic “rage to govern.” There are no known successes in socialist countries, only failures, with somewhere between 100-200 million humans needlessly slaughtered:
· USSR – The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or USSR lasted from 1922 before dissolution in 1991. Socialism, or Russian Marxism was never a success, supported by failed leadership, poor central planning and the inherent defects of Marxism.
· China – If any country challenges the USSR’s record for economic failure and outright disaster, it would certainly be communist China, with Chairman Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward representing the largest human disaster in recorded history, as up to 40 million Chinese starved to death or died as a result of this foolish and evil policy.
· Vietnam – Vietnam is still officially a communist country. Experts believe the war and continued failed socialist policies have dreadfully damaged the economic vitality of this beautiful land. This is even admitted by communist officials.
· Cuba – Cuba is also still communist and its economic, political and human rights record is an astounding failure. Cuba was artificially kept afloat by the Soviets during much of their history, for its strategic importance, until the USSR fell apart.
The strength of capitalism can be attributed to an incentive structure based upon the three Ps: (1) prices determined by market forces, (2) a profit-and-loss system of accounting and (3) private property rights. The failure of socialism can be traced to its neglect of these three incentive-enhancing components. The main reasons socialism fails are: it does not account for price of commodities, and therefore cannot adequately ration any finite good; it treats human motivation as a perverse fiction, irrelevant for producers, and therefore ignored; and finally it cannot value humans as being any different than machines.
(“Liberalism: A Basic Primer – Or, Why Leftism is Failure Incarnate” by Kelly OConnell dated March 10, 2013 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/53671 )
When he first ran for the White House, President Obama promised foreign policy miracles, but none of those miracles have appeared; in fact they even got worse. Now North Korea vows a “pre-emptive nuclear attack” and Iran is closer to nukes than ever. In 2007, he confessed that “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors, and I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” Someone so full of himself saw the world’s big, complex challenges as a mere Rubik’s Cube in the hands of Albert Einstein. “Throughout the Middle East, we must harness American power to reinvigorate American diplomacy,” which “could bring success even when dealing with long-standing adversaries such as Iran and Syria,” Obama wrote. He further promised that he would “develop a strong international coalition to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.” He claimed he would do this through “sustained, direct, and aggressive diplomacy — the kind that the Bush administration has been unable and unwilling to use.” Reality is very different today in 2013. North Korea, under a young, new dynastic dictator filling his father’s and grandfather’s shoes, weeks after conducting its most advanced-ever underground nuclear tests, declares that “Since the United States is about to ignite a nuclear war, we will be exercising our right to pre-emptive nuclear attack” upon the “aggressor” America. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s passed, toughened sanctions from the U.N. Security Council against North Korea “will bite, and bite hard,” but in reality will clearly do nothing to stop this fanatical dictatorship. Similarly, sanctions against Islamo-fascist Iran have done nothing to stop its steady advance toward nuclear weapons. After four years-plus of a cocksure President with virtually no foreign policy experience, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on blind faith in his leftist vision, and despite the demise of Osama bin Laden, the U.S. is now undeniably less safe than we were.
(“Obama’s Foreign Policy Miracles Never Materialized” dated March 8, 2013 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/030813-647390-world-is-more-dangerous-than-before-obama.htm )
Republicans lost the Presidential election by a hairs breadth, and the echo chambers rang with cries of fixing the message; Republicans were beaten up over the Obama tax hikes, and once again, the echo chambers rang with cries of fixing the message; but what if the message already resonates with the vast majority of Americans, and it is only the delivery that needs to be addressed? When people are polled on their beliefs, the Republican Party is in the minority on nothing. The Republican Party aligns best with the country, often on the 70% and 80% sides of important issues. No wonder the strategists are baffled. How can 80% of Americans think they are overtaxed and have no trust in government, but then side with President Obama’s plans to raise taxes and grow government? How can 80% think that the Federal government has a spending problem, and then side with Obama’s plans to spend more? There is a disconnect between beliefs, knowledge and the political reality. President Obama can say anything he wishes, to any depth of deception, and with few exceptions, the press will not only accept it, but protect it; meanwhile, the People are prevented from hearing the unfiltered Republican message. The vast majority of Republicans are great and on-message, but as long as the media bias exists, that message will be obscured from the public eye; replaced with Democratic dogma and deception. These problems can be fixed by following six basic rules:
· Re-befriend the media – Indoctrination requires a lie with which to suck people in, and a lack of challenge. Challenge that lie, and the indoctrination will crumble.
· Stick by your principles, regardless of what the polls show – Do what you believe is best, be consistent with your principles, explain your reasons clearly, and people will side with you after all the hype is over.
· Keep it simple, honest, and sharp – Media bias is an umbrella, and drizzling facts and figures will never get through it. Use a lightning bolt of simple, straight forward ideas.
· Find real examples – Our government *bleeps* people. Some of our agencies think it is their job to *bleep* people. Find out places where Federal agents have felt “threatened” there before. Visit those companies, and you will have your horror stories.
· End the circular firing squad – Republicans have a penchant for helping the media defame other Republicans. When a Republican sticks his foot in his mouth, Republicans circle up and aim inwards.
· Stop being petty – Focus on the core issue at hand: big government is a big failure, and an albatross around our necks. The Republican plan is to re-evaluate the size and scope of government, bring it back to the core missions, and lift a weight off of the People.
The successes of the 1980′s and mid-1990′s were due to a simple and powerful message; when government is the problem, less government is the solution. The failures of the late 2000′s began to occur as the message was clouded by contradictory actions. The party of “government is the problem” became the party of “throw good money after bad.” The party of reason became the party of “gotcha” politics and spineless compromise. The winning message is still at the core of the Republican Party and philosophy, and still resonates with the vast majority of the American People; Republicans just need to do a better job of living by and championing it.
(“Winning the Message” by Anthony J Ciani dated March 11, 2013 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/03/winning_the_message.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).