Archives for March 2012
With all of the excitement over this week’s arguments in the Supreme Court, the on-going race for the Republican nomination for president has largely fell off the radar. However, there is still plenty of news to share, but not all of it is good, depending on which candidate you’re backing.
Republicans in Wisconsin will head to the polls next Tuesday, April 3rd, to cast their votes in the race. And while Rick Santorum had been doing well there recently, it looks like Mitt Romney has surged to the front in the latest poll:
The GOP race for president has flipped in Wisconsin since last month, with Mitt Romney overtaking Rick Santorum in the latest poll by Marquette Law School.
Romney leads Santorum 39% to 31% in a survey of GOP primary voters taken last Thursday through Sunday.
Ron Paul is running third in the poll with 11%, followed by Newt Gingrich with 5%.
The new numbers represent a major shift from Marquette’s February poll, which showed Santorum leading Romney in the state 34% to 18%, followed by Paul at 17% and Gingrich at 12%.
They are also roughly consistent with a poll done almost one week ago on March 21 by Rasmussen Reports, which showed Romney leading Santorum 46% to 33%.
If Santorum loses in Wisconsin, the pressure will only increase on him to drop out of the race. Many are saying that if he wants to be a player in 2016, assuming Romney doesn’t beat Barack Obama, than he needs to bow out very soon. But people close to Santorum say that a exit from the race is unlikely.
As you know, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) presented his budget last week. While there are some positives in his proposal, it doesn’t do enough to get the country back on a sustainable path. This is why conservatives in Congress, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and the House Republican Study Committee, have rolled out their own separate proposals to deal with the long-term fiscal issues that pose a real threat to our future prosperity.
So, let’s say you’re a conservative or libertarian and you’re trying to figure out what budget to get behind. Well, our friends over at FreedomWorks have put together a handy budget report card (click on the chart below to open the PDF) that will help compare and contrast the various options on the table:
So-called “progressives” in Congress have also rolled out their own budget, which is worse than what President Barack Obama has submitted, raising taxes by 40% and increasing the deficit by some $6 trillion.
For quite some time now, the nation has been subject to the news from the long campaign to see which Republican will face off against President Obama in the November election. Every policy position, every gaffe and misstep, every utterance is analyzed under the microscope of public opinion and the bloviations of the paid and unpaid punditry alike, looking for some morsel of insight or some new angle from which to attack.
One may wonder if this has always been the case, and if not, why is it so now? The answer is that the importance of the office of the presidency has magnified exponentially over the last century due to the fact that we have seen a steady erosion in the philosophy and doctrine of federalism (restricting government power overall, and allocating decision-making to the most local level possible so as to be always answerable to the people), and a steady increase in the size and scope of government in our lives. Therefore, the decision as to who will be president has taken on an enormous importance because the office has become so powerful that the decisions made by the president have a ripple effect that can at times feel like a tsunami.
Under the ObamaCare bill, the Secretary of Health and Human Services has enormous power in dictating how a fifth of the U.S. economy will be directed. That is not an elected position answerable to the voters and taxpayers (unfortunately, the two are not synonymous), but a position appointed by the president, with the advise and consent of the Senate (theoretically at least, as evidenced by the new Obama precedent in which he feels he can now be the sole determiner of when the Senate is actually in session). Likewise, the IPAB (Independent Patient Advisory Board), alias “death panel”, is an appointed board which will determine how much and what type of medical care you may receive and at what price point you will be cut off from further treatment.
Zach posted video yesterday of Tim Sandefur, who in a press conference at the Cato Institute last week, discussed the constitutionality of ObamaCare and the impact Medicaid expansion would have on the states.
Sandefur also sat down with Nick Gillespie and Reason TV to further discuss ObamaCare, the individual mandate, the Commerce Clause, and the scope of limited government if the law is upheld by the Supreme Court:
While Barack Obama says that his administration is concerned about rising energy costs and has an “all of the above” energy plan, the Environmental Protection Agency has imposed new carbon emissions regulations new coal plants:
The Environmental Protection Agency will issue the first limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants as early as Tuesday, according to several people briefed on the proposal. The move could end the construction of conventional coal-fired facilities in the United States.
The proposed rule — years in the making and approved by the White House after months of review — will require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. The average U.S. natural gas plant, which emits 800 to 850 pounds of CO2 per megawatt, meets that standard; coal plants emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt.
Industry officials and environmentalists said in interviews that the rule, which comes on the heels of tough new requirements that the Obama administration imposed on mercury emissions and cross-state pollution from utilities within the past year, dooms any proposal to build a coal-fired plant that does not have costly carbon controls.
Yesterday was an interesting day at the Supreme Court. Justices heard the case on the individual mandate from both sides, with Solicitor General Donald Verrilli arguing the case for central part of ObamaCare and Paul Clement and Michael Carvin presenting the case against it. If you support the individual mandate, then it wasn’t a good day. If you oppose ObamaCare, there was reason for optimism that it will be struck down.
In case you missed it, you can listen to the oral arguments below and read the transcript from the Supreme Court’s website:
Over the last few days, there has been a lot of talk about Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal for FY 2013. Democrats are, as you might imagine, slamming it at every turn they get, claiming the spending cuts are too deep. However, many conservatives and Tea Party activists are skeptical over it because it doesn’t cut spending enough to bring the country back on a sustainable path quickly enough.
Veronique de Rudy, a research fellow at the Mercatus Center, compares both Ryan’s budget and the spending proposed by President Barack Obama and finds a marginal difference:
At $3.53 trillion in total spending, the Ryan plan is only 5 percent less than the president’s. Where the Ryan plan projects an annual average growth of projected spending from 2013 to 2022 at 4 percent, the president’s plan projects it at 5 percent.
Of the $5 trillion in savings in the Ryan plan’s 10-year spending projections, compared to Obama’s, $352 billion would come from discretionary programs, $2.5 trillion from so-called entitlements, and $514 billion from interest costs.
Apart from a modest reduction in spending for Medicare and Medicaid, the only significant difference between the two plans is the anticipated repeal of the 2010 health care law. Social Security ($10.5 trillion) and funds for the “global war on terrorism” ($500 billion) are left untouched in both plans.
Cumulative spending over the next 10 years under both the Ryan plan ($40 trillion) and the White House plan ($45 trillion) pale in comparison to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of $47 trillion—an estimate based on historical spending patterns and realistic assumptions about laws that are set to expire.
If you’ve been following the news at all, you know that today marks the beginning of Supreme Court arguments over ObamaCare. In my write-up yesterday, I explained what issues the nation’s High Court will look at over the next three days and what exactly is at stake. In my opinion, the question is, what limitations, if any, are on Congress? If they can mandate that we all purchase health insurance, essentially saying that economic inactivity can be regulated via the Commerce Clause, then what can’t they legislate?
But Jay Bookman, a columnist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, writes that not agreeing with the Obama Administration’s argument in favor of the individual mandsate is an affront to court precedent (emphasis mine):
Given the case law and precedents, if the Supreme Court decides to overturn significant portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it will also be forced to overturn at least 70 years of its own jurisprudence on the Commerce Clause. The entire balance of power between the states and the federal government and the federal government and business would change, with repercussions that would echo for decades.
Um, no. With all due respect to Jay, who I read on a regular basis despite only agreeing with him occasionally, shooting down the individual mandate would not overturn prior court precedent dealing with the Commerce Clause, rather it would place actual limitations on federal power.
We are often told about the size of the national debt, currently over $15 trillion. The problem is that many cannot fathom the numbers. However, the latest video from Learn Liberty, narrated by Antony Davies, frames the issue of the national debt in a way that most Americans can understand…by using it in terms of a family budget:
The Cato Institute (full disclosure: I work there) held a conference Friday looking at the arguments challenging President Obama’s health care legislation in the Supreme Court (oral arguments started today, get the transcript here). Here is a great video of Pacific Legal Foundation Principal Attorney Tim Sandefur discussing the constitutionality of the law, and the surprising implications of the act’s Medicaid expansion: