The White House is facing a significant credibility gap, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. The scandals that have plagued the administration over the last several weeks — the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups, the DOJ’s intimidation of the press, and lingering questions over Benghazi — have caused voters to question the “honesty and integrity” of President Barack Obama and his administration:
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released late Tuesday shows 55 percent believe the IRS targeting of conservative groups raised questions about the administration’s “overall honesty and integrity.”
A plurality, 43 percent, believe that the IRS scandal is part of a “widespread effort” on the administration’s part to target political opponents, while 29 percent blame the actions on a few rogue officials.
Fifty-eight percent say the administration’s handling of the attack on the Benghazi, Libya, diplomatic post also raises questions about the honesty of the White House. The same number say the Justice Department’s subpoenaing of reporter email and phone records in national security leak investigations also raises concerns.
Thirty-three percent say Obama is mainly or totally responsible for the IRS scandal, with 37 percent holding him accountable for the DOJ reporter subpoena controversy. Obama faces the most questions over the Benghazi incident, with 41 percent believing he bears responsibility.
Much ado has been made over President Obama’s selection of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to serve as the next National Secrutiy Advisor because of her role in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya. But Benghazi is only a symptom of a larger problem with Susan Rice: she’s a hardcore interventionist.
Since her involvement in the Clinton Administration’s response to the Rwanda Genocide - during which she served on the National Security Council - Rice has never objected to an American intervention.
Now seen as a “voice for intervention,” Rice was quoted in the aftermath of Rwanda::
“I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.”
Eh, excuse me: Going down in flames?
What’s also concerning is that Susan Rice has viewed foreign policy as an extension of politics; in 1994, she is quoted as saying, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?”
In a memo to department and agency heads posted on the White House website, President Barack Obama said that his administration is “committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government” and noted that “[o]penness will strengthen our democracy.” But, as has too often been the case with this administration, the rhetoric hasn’t lived up to reality.
For an administration that was supposed to be the most transparent in history, it certainly does go to great lengths to hide what its doing. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been embroiled in the Climategate scandal, which revolved around former agency administrator Lisa Jackson’s use of private e-mail to conduct government business.
Another example of this pernicious secrecy emerged this week. The Associated Press tried to obtain e-mails from the Labor Department via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In what was a clear attempt to discourage the news agency from obtaining the information, the Labor Department tried to charge the AP more than $1 million (emphasis mine):
Some of President Barack Obama’s political appointees, including the Cabinet secretary for the Health and Human Services Department, are using secret government email accounts they say are necessary to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages, according to a review by The Associated Press.
There has been a lot of talk over the last few weeks about “rate shock” thanks to ObamaCare. While apologists for the law insist that it will still be beneficial, premiums for insurance plans in California’s ObamaCare exchange could jump by a daunting 146%, with young people on the losing end of the increases.
It was documented months ago that young people, in particular, would be seeing higher premiums because of ObamaCare. Why? Because the law requires insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions and prevents age-discrimination. Like any other business that has to conform to a government mandate, insurance companies have to find a place to make up the cost to make sure that they are both maintaining their reserves and earning a profit for their shareholders.
Some, like Ezra Klein, insist that this is a “debate we had.” But Peter Suderman points out that all of the rhetoric leading up and after the passage of ObamaCare never mentioned anything about rising premiums — in fact, it was, as noted above, quite the opposite:
Liberal wonks like Klein may have talked about it—we’ll get to that a little later. But the president and his administration did not talk about it much at all. Rather, the overarching message from the White House, and from the law’s supporters generally, was that Obamacare would cause health insurance premiums to drop.
Congressman Kelly has been quickly building a name for himself on The Hill. While not nearly as interesting as Darrell Issa, Trey Gowdy, or Rand Paul to many people, the substance of what he’s been saying in various hearings of late has been worth a great deal of attention. And now, it seems he’s getting at least a little:
Obviously, Megyn Kelly from Fox News is impressed with that enlightened speech from the Pennsylvania Congressman. But that is just one of many these days. Kelly has regularly been catching the attention of conservatives and libertarians with his pro-limited government tirades, and calls for accountability in the Obama Administration.
“Isn’t it incredible what you’re going through to maintain your First Amendment rights? This is not a problem that’s in Cincinnati — this is a problem that’s deep in the bowels of this government.”
“If at some point we cannot stop this culture of fear – this government-sponsored fear – then we are really coming up short on what the oath is that we took. We took an oath of office not to defend the rights of Republicans, or Democrats, or Libertarians … We took an oath to defend our Constitution.”
Just last week a friend joked, “Between you, me, and the NSA reading this text message right now.” It’s a joke that has become common in the post-9/11 world, but we got a sobering reminder as to why it’s no longer funny.
The National Security Agency (NSA) obtained a court order in April requiring Verizon to turn over phone records of all calls on its network for no apparent reason at all. Glenn Greenwald broke the story last night at The Guardian (emphasis mine):
The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.
The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.
The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.
Catesby Jones is worried about his small business. The Internet has given his company, Peace Frogs, an outlet to offer goods and services to customers. But that will be put at risk if Congress passes the Internet sales tax.
By reaching out to a worldwide base of customers, companies in rural parts like ours can thrive and have a much bigger presence than they otherwise would through traditional sales.
This is why I’m incredibly concerned about the Internet sales tax that’s being debated in Washington.
It’s an attack on small businesses like mine. If you look at who’s lining up for and against the misnamed Marketplace Fairness Act, mostly large corporations are beating up on us small guys. They have the lobbyists, they have the muscle, and they have what it takes to impose burdensome regulations on online entrepreneurs.
The Internet offers the best opportunity for Gloucester natives to come home and operate a business. There aren’t many other enterprise vehicles that allow this type of flexible marketplace. But an Internet sales tax would threaten the well-being of my family and my employees’ families and result in higher costs for my customers.
Written by K. William Watson, trade policy analyst with the Cato Institute’s Herbert A Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Do you remember the 112th Congress—the one that repeatedly almost shut down the government while still managing to raise taxes and spending? It turns out they did some interesting things with trade policy. The votes recorded in Cato’s congressional trade votes database have been counted, tabulated, and analyzed, and the results are mixed. The predictable legislative outcome was that with a Republican House and Democratic Senate, the 112th Congress furthered the bipartisan establishment trade policy of reciprocal tariff reduction and unilateral subsidy expansion.
The more interesting revelations come from looking at the voting records of individual members. Rather than simply noting whether a policy would promote or diminish free trade or would increase or decrease America’s engagement in the global economy, Cato’s Free Trade, Free Markets methodology distinguishes between barriers (like tariffs and quotas) and subsidies (like loan guarantees, tax credits, and price supports). This distinction enables us to place members within a two-dimensional matrix.
Given all of the criticism and scrutiny the Internal Revenue Service is facing from both Congress and the American people over its targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups, one would think that agency officials would be digging deeper in trying to figure out who was responsible. But that hasn’t happened, at least not to this point.
On Monday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government held a hearing on the scandal that has plagued the IRS. Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) asked acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel about accountability in the agency and if anyone had asked employees in the Cincinnati office who was responsible.
During his first round of questioning, Rep. Graves asked Werfel who had been held accountable. Werfel pointed to the two resignations — then-acting Commissioner Steven Miller and Tax Exempt Division chief Joseph Grant — that have happened since the scandal became public knowledge.
“So, a resignation is accountability? Is that what you’re telling the American people?” asked Graves. As Werfel began to answer, Graves cut him off to as inquired about Lois Lerner, the embattled director of the IRS’s Tax Exempt Division. “Is Lois Lerner being on administrative leave, is that accountability? Is Lois Lerner still being paid today?”
“She is,” responded Werfel.
“Is that your definition of accountability?” Graves shot back.
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our necessities but of their advantages.
— Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapter II
It was in this work and in this passage that Smith first began to describe the “invisible hand” of the market — the way that the rational self-interests of individual actors in a market, acting in concert with each other, yield efficient allocations of resources.
By the design of some grand cosmic joke, noted George Mason University economist Don Boudreaux in 2011, today is also John Maynard Keynes’s birthday.