Mike Lee discusses the Balanced Budget Amendment

The Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) has evaded Republicans during this session of Congress and American taxpayers even longer. Back in 1995, the BBA, which was a part of the Contract with America, was just one vote away from becoming a reality when it failed in the Senate (it had already passed the House with the necessary 2/3). Despite setbacks in Congress, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and others are still pushing the BBA and keeping pressure on the White House and, at times, their own leaders to back this common sense measure.

Here is an update from Sen. Lee, courtsey of Fox News, on the effort in Congress and what could happen if the budget continues to grow at an unsustainable rate:

Conservatism versus the Charlatans of Sophistry

Today, the level of political animus and vitriol seems to be on a nearly vertical trajectory, with both sides pulling out all rhetorical stops in an effort to win converts to their ideology. For a time this seemed to be just a partisan war, but I am beginning to believe that it is much, much deeper than that. I believe we are at one of those great crossroads in our nation’s history where we must assess who we are and what values we hold before we can come to agreement on policies that reflect those beliefs. On the ideological left is a philosophy which elevates the state above the individual, which says we as individuals can’t be trusted to make correct decisions and must therefore be governed by a technocrat oligarchy of (theoretically) unbiased bureaucrats. These are the intellectuals and the scientific “experts” who are smarter than the rest of us and will therefore make wise decisions that we are forced to accept now, and at some distant point in the future we will pay homage as beneficiaries of that wisdom.

This philosophy can be seen in efforts to ban the incandescent light bulb, regulate salt and sugar intake in our diets along with the use of trans-fats; in the use of the tax and regulatory codes to force us into smaller, more fuel efficient cars. It can be seen in attempts to ban all public expressions of religious belief and in the rigging of the free market in favor of “renewable” energy sources by providing taxpayer subsidies that hide the true cost.

On the ideological right is a philosophy that holds the individual above the collective, that sees government as a necessary evil to be kept under tight constraints and against which we must jealously guard our liberties from the encroachment and expansion of government power.

Ron Paul’s latest ad attacking Newt Gingrich

In a new web ad, Ron Paul’s take another hard shot at Newt Gingrich for “selling access” to Washington, nothing several dozen ethics complaints filed against him during his time in Congress and time as a lobbyist and consultant for Freddie Mac. The ad also notes that Gingrich personal wealth grew substantially by the time he left Congress. And Paul once again points out that Gingrich backed an individual mandate for health insurance.

The video was released on the same day a new poll out of Iowa shows Gingrich is losing ground as both Mitt Romney and Paul are within five points:

House GOP pushes the Pro-Growth Budgeting Act

Since taking control of the House of Representatives after the 2010 mid-term election, Republicans have been looking for ways and presenting plans to deal with the budget crisis by cutting spending and avoid tax hikes that could further slowdown our economic recovery. Unfortunately, those proposal have largely done ignored by the White House and Senate Democrats, who still control the majority in that chamber.

But Republicans are undeterred by the insistance of Democrats to impose more regulation and taxes in this very tough economy and are still pushing new ideas. In a recent op-ed at the Chicago Tribune, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) explains the latest legislative fixes offered by the House GOP that would make Congress accountable for the budget, promote transparency, and require the CBO to look at the consequences of spending:

Earlier this year, House Republicans presented a budget to the Congress that would cut nearly $6 trillion in spending, reform the tax code and improve and strengthen programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. We drafted, debated and passed a plan to put our nation on a path to prosperity. President Barack Obama, along with Democrat leaders on Capitol Hill, responded with demagoguery while offering no credible plan of their own — no plan to pay off the debt and no plan to save and strengthen health and retirement programs for seniors.

Elected leaders should not be able to avoid their responsibilities in such a cavalier manner. And yet, under the broken budget process in Washington, they have been able to get away with doing nothing as the debt piles even higher.

Rick Perry moving up in Iowa?

After coming on strong in August and September and largely stealing Michele Bachmann’s thunder, Rick Perry was knocked down a peg after a some bad debate performances and gaffes. But don’t look now, Perry may be making a comeback in Iowa, at least according to a new poll from the American Research Group (ARG).

  • Newt Gingrich: 22% (-5)
  • Ron Paul: 17% (+1)
  • Mitt Romney: 17% (-3)
  • Rick Perry: 13% (+8)
  • Michele Bachmann: 7% (+1)
  • Rick Santorum: 7% (+1)
  • Jon Huntsman: 5% (+2)
  • Other: 1%
  • Undecided: 12%

As you can see, Perry has seen an 8 point jump in his numbers since the last ARG poll, while Gingrich and Romney have declined. Here are some other key points from the poll from the Houston Chronicle:

Perry’s in fourth with 13 percent, almost as much as the 14 percent support he had in September when his campaign trail looked a bit smoother than it’s turned out to be.

Perry, however, jumps slightly ahead of Paul (still within the four-point margin-of-error) with strong Republican respondents, pulling 14 percent of their support to Paul’s 13 percent. But Paul rules the Independent vote in Iowa—a full 39 percent of respondents identifying as Independents say they’ll vote for him. Gingrich is first with Republicans and second with Independents, but Jon Huntsman, perennially stuck at the bottom of the pack, is close behind him with Independents, polling with 13 percent of their support.

The heat is building on Eric Holder

The heat is certainly on Attorney General Eric Holder over the botched “Fast and Furious” operation, in which the ATF allowed guns to walk across the border into the hands of Mexico’s most fierce drug dealers.

Back in October, 10 Arizona Sheriffs called for Holder to resign over the operation, which was based in their state, arguing that the ATF’s actions have put those they are tasked with protecting at unnecessary risk:

That movement has grown since then. Today, more than 50 members of Congress have called for Holder’s resignation based on inconsistencies in his testimony on the issue. Some members have even floated the possibility of impeachment for officials over the operation, which many believe was hatched to build support for gun control.

Why is the Tea Party backing Gingrich?

The most interesting dynamic in the race for the GOP’s nomination for president is Tea Party-minded voters. They switched around from one candidate to the other just as quick as Mitt Romney changes on positions on issues. Frankly, it’s irritating given that a couple of the candidates they’ve gotten behind have supported big government programs and have intervention in the market.

Polls show that the Tea Party voting bloc is largely getting behind Newt Gingrich, who has emerged as their latest “hero.” My understanding of the Tea Party movement was that we were trying to fight against cronyism, corporatism, and big government; so that begs the question: Why is the Tea Party lining up for someone that epitomizes statism? Conor Friedersdorf explains that Gingrich encouraged Republicans, including George W. Bush, to betray taxpayers:

On December 7, 2003, Newt Gingrich appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” opposite Tim Russert, who asked about the beginnings of conservative discontent over President Bush’s profligate spending impulse:

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to the domestic front. Here’s the headline of yesterday’s paper: “Conservatives Criticize Bush On Spending.” You ran in 1994 with a Contract with America, pledging a balanced budget. Deficit’s now $500 billion.


MR. RUSSERT: You supported the president’s Medicare bill, another $400 billion entitlement. What happened to balanced budgets and Republicans?

Reason TV: Why Obama’s Stimulus Failed

In this new video from Reason, Veronique de Rugy, an economist at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University who has extensively studied the 2009 stimulus, explains why the the deficit spending failed to revive the economy. Reason and De Rugy use the city of Silver Springs, Maryland, who receive subsidies for transportation projects, as a case study, as well as analyzing other aspects of the stimulus spending:

NLRB drops complaint against Boeing

After months of harassment, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has dropped the complaint against Boeing after the aircraft manufacturer reached a deal with the its labor union to raise wages:

The National Labor Relations Board announced on Friday that it was dropping its politically charged case against Boeing, in which it had accused the company of violating federal labor law by opening a new aircraft production plant in South Carolina instead of Washington State.

The labor board’s acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, said he had decided to end the case after the union that represents 31,000 Boeing workers in Washington urged the board to withdraw it. That union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, had originally asked the board to file the case, but changed its mind after striking a deal with Boeing last week to raise wages and expand jet production in Washington.
After months of sharp rhetoric, Boeing and the machinists announced a surprise agreement on a new contract last week. Last week, Local 751 of the machinists’ union announced that 74 percent of its Boeing workers in Washington State had voted to ratify a four-year contract extension that included substantial raises, unusual job security provisions and Boeing’s commitment to expand aircraft production in the Puget Sound area.

The union then asked the labor board to withdraw the case.

Mr. Solomon said he was delighted that Boeing and the union had settled their dispute. “The case was always about the loss of future jobs in the Seattle area,” he said. “This agreement has resolved that issue. There is job security in the Washington area.”

14 Fixes For Our Messed Up Country

Everyone seems to be proposing fixes for our country lately, whether it’s amendments to repeal the First Amendment or ban gays or whatever. I have a few ideas of my own that I think will go a long ways towards restoring some sanity in government and fixing what’s wrong with our society. Some of these will require constitutional amendments, and I don’t expect the entire list to actually get enacted unless magic somehow returns to the world and we resurrect Barry Goldwater, F.A. Hayek, and George Washington all at once.

I originally drafted a list of some 23 ideas, but I figured that it would be way too long for a blog post, so I shortened it to 14, a baker’s dozen. None of these are simple or light fixes, they are not tweaking around the edges to ensure a marginally better outcome. Judging from the situation our government and economy is in, from the horrific hard place our civil liberties are wedged behind, and the unmanageable mess that is Washington, I don’t think that “moderate” or “conservative” changes will do anything. We cannot pussyfoot around the issue; we need radical alterations to how our government works if we’re going to get us out of this morass. Again, most of these may never pass, but that’s to be expected.

Certainly, if you wish to hear my entire list, let me know and I’ll write it up, but for now, here are my 14 ideas for fixing our country:

1. Establish Approval Voting

I’ve already talked about this idea at length here, so I will not bore you again. In this post, all I will say is that I believe if we are to get anything done—and I do mean anything—we need to systematically reform how people actually get into office. That’s the foundation upon which any democracy stands, and when you’re up to your eyeballs in tar, the only way to get that fixed is to drain the swamp and start at the beginning.


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