Archives for December 2011
Stephen Slivinski is senior economist at the Goldwater Institute. Previously he was director of budget studies at the Cato Institute, senior economist at the Tax Foundation, and a senior editor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Mr. Slivinski is the author of the book, Buck Wild: How Republicans Broke the Bank and Became the Party of Big Government, published in 2006.
One thing that makes Newt Gingrich an attractive presidential candidate to many conservatives is his term as Speaker of the House and his role as the captain of the Republican Revolution of 1994. But a closer look at the history of the years between 1995 and when he stepped down as speaker in 1998 show that Gingrich was usually at odds with those pushing the Reaganite vision of a truly limited federal government. In fact, when the Republican Revolution succeeded at all it was often in spite of Newt Gingrich, not because of him. Unfortunately, too many conservatives have forgotten this or perhaps may not have known it at all.
Gingrich does indeed come across as an eloquent defender of limited government principles. In 1995, he envisioned the new GOP congressional majority presaging a cultural revolution in Washington, D.C. “The real breaking point is when you find yourself having a whole new debate, with new terms. That’s more important than legislative achievements,” Gingrich told a reporter on the first day of the 104th Congress. “We’ll know in six months whether we have accomplished that.”
Yesterday, I noted new polling from the American Research Group showing that Rick Perry was making a bit of a comeback in Iowa. That may or may not be true. Polls are difficult to read and nearly everyone shows something different, but what we do know is that Newt Gingrich’s support is fading.
The latest poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), which is a Democratic firm, shows that Ron Paul is now in a statistical tie with Gingrich. Here is how the field shapes up in the Hawkeye State, at least according to PPP:
- Newt Gingrich: 22% (-5)
- Ron Paul: 21% (+3)
- Mitt Romney: 16% (—)
- Michele Bachmann: 11% (-2)
- Rick Perry: 9% (—)
- Rick Santorum: 8% (+2)
- Jon Huntsman: 5% (+1)
- Gary Johnson: 1% (—)
- Other/Not sure: 7%
PPP also shows Paul with the highest favorability, 61%, of any of the Republicans candidates. Only 31% have an unfavorable view of the Texas Congressman.
When these results were release yesterday, I saw several conservative scoff at them. For example, RedState’s Dan tweeted this:
Folks, Ron Paul can’t crack 20% in IA http://bit.ly/rPwWkZ in 2008 he drew 9% there to Mitt’s 26%. His ceiling’s too low.
Just in time for Christmas, EconStories, the folks that brought us the Hayek/Keynes rap videos (“Fear the Boom and Bust” and “Fight of the Century: Keynes vs. Hayek Round Two”), have finally rolled out some swag, including t-shirts and coffee mugs:
In a modern example of Frederic Bastiat’s “The Seen and the Unseen,” in Seattle, school adiminstrators are finding out that their ban on junk food has actually hurt student activities:
The Seattle School Board is considering relaxing its ban on unhealthful food in high schools amid complaints from student governments that the policy has cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars in vending-machine profits over the past seven years.
The policy, approved in 2004 — before any state or federal regulations on school nutrition had been established — put Seattle on the cutting edge of the fight against childhood obesity.
But board members now acknowledge they probably went too far. The restrictions, which are more strict than the now-crafted state and federal nutrition guidelines, allow only products such as milk, natural fruit juice, baked chips and oat-based granola bars.
Perhaps not surprisingly, many students are not particularly interested in those items.
(I just want to insert a “Duh!” in here. Like, seriously?)
In 2001, before the junk-food ban was passed, high-school associated student body (ASB) governments across the city made $214,000 in profits from vending machines, according to district data. This year, they’ve made $17,000.
The district promised in 2006 to repay ASBs for the revenue they lost because of the policy. But it never did. So the ASB organizations — which subsidize athletic uniform and transportation costs, support student clubs, hold school dances and fund the yearbook and newspaper, among other expenses — have had to cancel programs and ask students to pay significantly more to participate on athletic teams and in school clubs.
While reading Twitter this morning, I saw the ever erudite Larry Sabato tweet: “New “Justice Party” (if real) hurts Obama. Others will hurt Rs. Close election can be determined by few votes here & there going to Inds.” (Sorry; I’m not yet on “NewNewTwitter,” so I don’t have that embed function. Yet.)
Looking up this “Justice Party,” which I had never heard of before, I found some interesting things, namely, that it is basically a vehicle for the former mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah to run for president:
SALT LAKE CITY — Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson has formed a new political party and plans to run for president.
To be known as the Justice Party, Anderson sees it as a grassroots movement that over the long term will bring about the shift in American politics that he says citizens crave.
“The people are the ones who always bring about major change in this country, and we need to provide that power to people throughout the country,” he said Wednesday on KSL Radio’s Doug Wright Show.
“They want to see an alternative party. They recognize that these two militarist, corporatist parties have brought us to this disastrous place to where we are today.”
Well, I can certainly sympathize with that—and I’m very glad Mr. Anderson is using “corporatist” to describe the two parties. If we’re going to make any headway in this country, we need to get people to understand that we have today is by no means “capitalism,” but rather cronyist corporatism, and I think on that front, we are slowly winning.
Unfortunately, I don’t really think Mr. Anderson is on the right track, if you catch my drift:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.