Archives for November 2012

French Socialist Minister of Nationalization: “Obama Does It!”

In what is sure to raise eyebrows and cause some headdesk moments across the world, the French Industry Minister, a member of the ruling Socialist Party, has said that what he’s doing is what Obama is doing:

The French politician who said Indian steel company ArcelorMittal should leave the country has told CNBC that his government is only acting like U.S. President Barack Obama.


Eric Feferberg / AFP/Getty Images

French Minister for Industrial Recovery, Arnaud Montebourg poses as he arrives at the Hotel Matignon (the Prime Minister’s official residence) in Paris.

Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg, a member of the governing Socialist party, caused controversy last week when he said that the Indian company, which employs close to 20,000 people in France, should leave after it said it would have to close down a factory.

The French government announced on Thursday that it could nationalize the factory in question, with backing from an unnamed businessman.

The news raised the specter of the nationalizations of the early 1980s, which were instigated by Hollande’s predecessor Francois Mitterrand.

Montebourg told CNBC after a meeting with trade unions in Paris: “Barack Obama’s nationalized. The Germans are nationalizing. All countries are nationalizing. I’ve also noticed the British nationalized 6 banks.”

Can the GOP ignore social conservatives?

For years it has been conventional wisdom that the GOP needs the votes of social conservatives to win elections.  Defined loosely, a “social conservative” is someone who has very traditional, restrictionist views on so-called “social issues” like abortion and same-sex marriage.  These voters are mostly white and evangelical Christians.  They support strong restrictions on abortion and oppose any recognition of gay couples.  In short, they are basically anti-libertarians.  As such, the moderate wing of the party has always them as a necessary but disliked coalition partner.

In recent years, though, the tide has started to turn against this strategy.  The portion of the electorate that votes strictly on social issues is shrinking.  Attitudes are changing on gay rights and, while the country tends to lean pro-life, it’s fairly clear that most voters are repulsed by the extreme views held by some pro-life polticians.  It’s clear, then, that the GOP can’t rely on anti-gay rhetoric and severe positions on abortion to win.

The call, then, naturally is coming from those who never even liked social conservatives to push this portion of the voting population to the wayside.  Some, like my colleague Jeremy Kolassa, argue that the GOP should entirely ignore social conservatives.  The thinking goes that moderating on abortion and gay rights will gather enough new votes to make it possible to live without hardline social cons.

Obama makes an astoundingly unrealistic “fiscal cliff” proposal

You mad, bro?

Yesterday afternoon, details came out of a proposal that the White House had made to House Republicans over the so-called “fiscal cliff.” In the proposal, President Obama asked for $1.6 trillion in tax hikes. As you might imagine, that was far too high a price:

The White House is seeking $1.6 trillion in tax increases up front, as well as $50 billion in additional stimulus spending, as part of any “fiscal cliff” deal, Republican aides said Thursday as talks aimed at averting the economy-rattling cliff turned testy.

President Barack Obama also wants a permanent increase in the federal debt ceiling, a one-year expansion of jobless benefits and an extension of the payroll tax credit, these aides said.

The latest proposals were presented by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who visited Capitol Hill Thursday to discuss the fiscal cliff with leaders of both parties.

After Geithner’s visit, Republican House Speaker John Boehner publicly lambasted the Obama administration, saying “the White House has to get serious.”

Some spending cuts were included in the proposal, about $400 billion over 10 years — ranging from farm subsidies to postal service costs. However, the White House wants an additional $50 billion for infrastructure spending.

None of this is going to happen; nor should it happen. House Speaker John Boehner, as well as some other Republicans in both chambers, have already signaled a willingness to bend on tax revenues, a prospect met with dismay and derision amongst conservatives and libertarians (myself included).

Cato Institute New Media Lunch: “The Republican Problem”

This year’s election served as a shock to Republicans, and now they’re scratching their heads trying to figure out what went wrong. With more Americans expressing viewpoints consistent with personal liberty — including marijuana legalization and support for gay marriage — the conservative movement, which makes up a chunk of the Republican-base, must now adapt to the changing political atmosphere or continue to suffer at the ballot box.

So what is a path forward for the Republican Party? In short, they need to become more libertarian. On Wednesday, December 5th, our friends at the Cato Institute will host a new media lunch, featuring a panel on this very subject at its Washington, DC campus.

Panelists will include:

  • Walter Olson, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute
  • Alex Nowrasteh, Immigration Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute
  • Jason Pye, Editor at United Liberty (that’s me!)
  • Mike Riggs, Associate Editor at Reason Magazine

The event begins at noon and will run until 1:30pm. Zachary Graves, Director of New Media at the Cato Institue, will moderate the discussion.

You can RSVP and check out the details by clicking here.

R STREET: 3 Taxes We Should Kill

As the fiscal cliff looms ahead of us, the R Street Institute has just come out with a “A TAX HIT LIST FOR THE 113TH CONGRESS” (PDF) naming three taxes that we should kill. Namely, they’re looking at the Corporate Income Tax, the Estate Tax, and tariffs.

From the report, on corporate income taxes:


While the corporate income tax is politically popular and has strong populist appeal, many economists have called it into question. For example, conservatives such as American Enterprise Institute economist Kevin Hassett and liberals like former Obama advisor Austan Goolsbee have studied the deadweight losses and other distortions imposed by the tax. As a result, policy analysts from across the political spectrum believe that it simply shouldn’t exist. It generates an enormous amount of economic dislocation relative to the revenue it raises, while encouraging myriad behaviors that do little or nothing to promote economic growth in the name of legal tax avoidance. Meanwhile, the potential benefits of eliminating it are substantial.

Though obscured by their structure, corporate income taxes are just another form of individual taxation. Every dollar of corporate income tax is ultimately paid by one of three groups of people: employees, customers, or shareholders. Because corporations pass all costs on to these groups, corporate income taxes inevitably lead to some combination of lower wages, higher prices, and lower returns for investors.

A Laffer Curve Warning about the Economy and Tax Revenue for President Obama and other Class Warriors

Written by Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Being a thoughtful and kind person, I offered some advice last year to Barack Obama. I cited some powerful IRS data from the 1980s to demonstrate that there is not a simplistic linear relationship between tax rates and tax revenue.

In other words, just as a restaurant owner knows that a 20-percent increase in prices doesn’t translate into a 20-percent increase in revenue because of lost sales, politicians should understand that higher tax rates don’t mean an automatic and concomitant increase in tax revenue.

This is the infamous Laffer Curve, and it’s simply the common-sense recognition that you should include changes in taxable income in your calculations when trying to measure the impact of higher or lower tax rates on tax revenues.

No, it doesn’t mean lower tax rates “pay for themselves” or that higher tax rates lead to less revenue. That only happens in unusual circumstances. But it does mean that lawmakers should exercise some prudence and judgment when deciding tax policy.

COMMENT CHECK: Obama Has No Mandate, And Might Does Not Make Right

A commentator going by the handle of “Travis” posted an, shall I say “intriguing” comment on my recent post about Grover Norquist. Travis writes:


This has nothing to do with the evil media, this has everything to do with elections.

Your slash-taxes-and-government policy preferences were put up to a vote earlier this month, and they lost. The American people re-elected a president who campaigned on raising taxes on the wealthy, protecting entitlements and preserving government services.

This is just the bandwagon fallacy.

To illustrate my point, let me put it to you this way: Suppose Candidate A (for a naughty word Jason says I cannot type) campaigns on a platform of fixing our economy by killing all the poor people. Now, let’s say that, for whatever reason, a majority of Americans disagree with Candidate A’s policy position, yet, strangely, they end up electing him into office anyways. Does this mean that Candidate A’s policy to kill the poor is the right thing to do?

That was a rhetorical question, there’s really no need to answer.

Yes, Obama won the election. But just because a guy wins what is essentially a popularity contest does not mean that his policies are ipso facto the right ones and everyone else should roll over and play dead. I guarantee you that liberals would not have done that if Romney won, as they did not do it when Bush won (particularly after 2004, when he won the popular vote.)

Common Sense After a Close Election

“Now let’s pull up our socks, wipe our noses and get back in this fight.”

After listening to ten days of hand wringing and doom saying from the usual suspects that Republicans must abandon our principles if we are to survive, we need a little of Mark Twain’s common sense.  I suggest we all take it to heart.

He said, “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it — and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again — and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”

So it is in that spirit that I will begin with three incontrovertible truths about this election.

First, the same election that returned Barack Obama to the White House also returned the second largest House Republican majority since World War II - bigger than anything Newt Gingrich ever had.

Second, according to polls before, during and after this election, the American people agree with us fundamentally on issues involving the economy, Obamacare, government spending, bailouts - you name it.

Third, the American people are about to get a graduate level course in Obamanomics, and at the end of that course, they are going to be a lot sadder and a lot wiser.

That is not to say that there aren’t many lessons that we need to learn and to learn well from this election, particularly here in California.  But capitulation is not one of them.

Actually, GOP could—and should—ignore social conservatives

Of all the post-election autopsies I’ve read, this one may be the silliest. It is definitely an excercise in sticking one’s head in the sand, of deliberately ignoring what is going on around you. But since it is written by the President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, maybe I can give Richard Land some slack. Maybe. I mean, after all, it’s not like he’s going to say “Ignore me!” is he?

Here is what Mr. Land writes, in the New York Times of all places (so I suppose he’s just consigned himself to hell for writing in there):

The G.O.P. must not, and cannot, ignore its foundation and base. Exit polls show that white evangelicals made up 26 percent of the electorate, 3percent more than in 2004. Furthermore, these evangelicals voted for Mitt Romney in virtually the same percentages as the governor’s fellow Mormons (78 percent for Romney vs. 21 percent for President Obama, according exit polls by Edison Research). Obama received 26 percent of evangelical votes in 2008.

On the pro-life and same-sex-marriage issues it should also be remembered that while Obama won the total Catholic vote 50 percent to 48 percent, he won Hispanic Catholics 75 percent to 21 percent, while Romney won non-Hispanic Catholics 59 percent to 40 percent. On the issue of same-sex-marriage, the pro-same-sex-marriage forces did win their first electoral victories, but they did so in four liberal states: Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington. And, in all four cases they won by relatively small margins in spite of having outspent their opponents by margins approaching nine to one.

Smithereens Frontman Pat DiNizio & Christian Josi Team Up On Christmas Recording

As Matt Lewis reported in The Daily Caller, noted jazz recording artist and libertarian activist Christian Josi teamed up with Smithereens frontman Pat DiNizio to create a new Christmas single, “Holiday 2012.”

Josi once ran the American Conservative Union and the CPAC Conference, the largest annual gathering of right-of-center activists. DiNizo is also politically activate and once ran for Senate in New Jersey. They first met 24 years ago on the L.A. set of The Smithereens video ‘House We Used To Live In.” At the time, Josi was co-producing an episode of former KROQ personality Jim “Poorman” Trenton’s local TV show.

The new single is the classic, ‘Winter Wonderland,’ with ’White Christmas’ as the B-side (there are 2 bonus versions with no percussion.)

“While I’m a rock-n-roll songwriter and singer, I’m not a screamer, said DiNizio. “And what Christian does — is he’s keeping that important tradition alive. He’s very much a purest.”

Performed by lovers of limited government, it is a relaxed recording of the Christmas classic which you will definately want to add to your office or family Christmas party playlist.

The album will be avilable on CD Baby, iTunes, and many other outlets this week.

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