Archives for May 2012
And good lessons at that. No, seriously. Sweden—the country that is usually held up as an example on the left—actually shows that cutting spending is the way to go. From Investors’ Business Daily:
Sweden has a reputation as the prototypical cradle-to-grave socialist European nation, and the political left has long yearned for America to be more like the Scandinavian nation.
But it’s looking through a smudged window. With little notice, Sweden has changed.
The turnaround has been driven in no small part by the election of Fredrik Reinfeldt as prime minister in 2006. He took office in October of that year and by January of 2007, tax-cutting had begun. The Reinfeldt government also cut welfare spending — a form of austerity — and began to deregulate the economy.
That doesn’t sound like the Sweden that American Democrats hold up as the standard.
But as Finance Minister Anders Borg told the Spectator, the Reinfeldt government was simply continuing the last 20 years of reform.
Far from hurting Sweden’s economy, the changes have improved it. And they’ll likely help to protect it from the 0.3% economic decline now forecast for the euro zone in 2012.
That’s right—Sweden, of all places, is cutting spending and shrinking government, and has so far kept itself out of the economic downturn (or day I say disaster?) that has befallen Europe.
Reiterating their support for full repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act, key Republicans are now campaigning on promises that their version of health care reform will implement some of the same provisions as the one they have spent years campaigning against:
Speaking to more than 100 students at American University, Cantor said, “What you will see us do is to push for repeal of the healthcare bill, and at the same time, contemporaneously, submit our replacement bill, that has in it the provisions [barring discrimination due to pre-existing conditions and offering young people affordable care options].”
Cantor stressed that while he supports full repeal of the current law, Republicans share some of the same goals as Democrats, although they propose different ways of achieving them.
“We too don’t want to accept any insurance company’s denial of someone and coverage for that person because he or she may have pre-existing condition,” Cantor said, addressing a young woman in the audience who noted that she had a pre-existing health condition.
“And likewise we want to make sure that someone of your age has the ability to access affordable care, whether it’s under your parents plan or elsewhere,” Cantor added.
Polls in Texas have recently showed that Ted Cruz, who is being supported by conservative and Tea Party groups, is closing in on David Dewhurst, the establishment pick in the race to fill the seat being left open by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX). But a new poll from the University of Texas shows that Dewhurst’s lead over Cruz is now in single-digits and headed to a runoff:
If the 2012 Texas Republican primary election for the U.S. Senate were held today, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst would fall short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff election, according to a University of Texas at Austin/Texas Tribune poll.
When asked whom they would support if the 2012 Texas Republican primary election for U.S. Senator were held today, 40 percent of GOP primary voters named Dewhurst, followed by Cruz at 28 percent, and former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert at 15 percent. The leading candidate would need at least 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff election on July 31.
Dewhurst’s lead was even narrower among likely voters, leading Cruz 40 to 31 percent, with Leppert polling at 17 percent. Likely voters are defined by the survey as those who indicate an interest in politics and report voting in most elections (274 respondents in the survey sample said they intended to vote in the GOP primary and were also identified as likely voters).
Daron Shaw, professor of Government at The University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the poll, said Cruz has been able to position himself to the right of the lieutenant governor for a May 29 Republican primary where that’s a big advantage — and he’s done that in a year in which insurgent candidates have been scoring big wins against establishment Republicans.
Late last week the House passed the 2013 NDAA. Last year during this process, allowances were made that allowed for the indefinite detainment – without trial – of people in the U.S. who were suspected of participating in terrorist activities or associating with people who did.
Keep in mind we’re talking about people merely suspected of a crime. Also keep in mind that the verbiage was so broad that it would be fairly easy for someone to accidentally fall into that category.
Cries came from civil libertarians over due process, and Michigan Congressman Justin Amash took the lead fighting the NDAA’s unconstitutionality on the Republican side of the aisle. He partnered with Democrat Adam Smith of Washington to offer an amendment to change the law to follow the Constitution. The GOP leadership pushed a competing amendment from Louie Gohmert of Texas. It passed the vote, and the Smith-Amash failed.
I asked my Congressman, Tom Graves, for an explanation of his opposition to the Smith-Amash amendment, and he referred me here. The concern from Graves was that “[the Smith-Amash] amendment would extend Constitutional rights and the right to judicial review to anyone apprehended in the United States,” something the Republicans are hesitant to do.
Except that’s how the process is supposed to work.
The concerns over the 2012 NDAA touched on a large portion of the Bill of Rights – arguably the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments, and most definitely the Sixth Amendment. The disagreement between the GOP leadership and Amash’s position is whether the Constitution protects citizens or persons.
Consider these amendments. (The emphasis in these quotes is mine.)
Last week, I noted that the President Barack Obama’s attacks on Mitt Romney over Bain Capital may well backfire given his own failures on the economy — everything from four straight years of trillion dollar budget deficits, the every increasing national debt, and a still-high unemployment rate.
However, during a press conference yesterday, President Obama said that Romney’s time at Bain Capital will be a significant part of the narrative during the campaign — doubling down on rhetoric:
President Obama on Monday declined to back down from his campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital despite criticism from some Democrats.
Asked at a press conference in Chicago about criticism from Newark Mayor Cory Booker regarding his campaign’s attacks on Romney’s work in private equity, Obama defended the tactic and said it’s fair game in a race where Romney has played up his business credentials.
“This is not a distraction,” Obama said. “This is what this campaign is going to be about.”
“If the main basis for him suggesting he can do a better job is his track record as the head of a private equity firm, then both the upsides and the downsides are worth examining,” Obama said.
Or, Why Your Worries About Double-Dipping or A “Second” Recession Are Utterly Preposterous And Make You Seem Completely Out Of Touch With Reality
While doing some reading over the weekend, I came across this blog entry by Brad Plumer over at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog (the one headed by Ezra Klein) about the Bush tax cuts expiring and how that will affect the economy:
To put this in perspective, the Federal Reserve expects the economy to grow at a roughly 2.9 percent pace in 2013. If Congress does nothing at the end of this year, much of that growth could be wiped out, and there’s a strong possibility that the United States could lurch back into recession. (Granted, a lot could depend on how the Fed reacts in this situation.)
That bolding is my own emphasis. And it really irritates me.
I know that the National Bureau of Economic Research, the official decider of recessions and other economic forecasts, declared the Great Recession to be officially over in 2009. I know there is an official, academic definition of recession: two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth (otherwise known, in normal person English, as “GDP shrinking.”) I know this is what Brad is talking about when he says “lurch back into recession.”
Though this is only his first term in Congress, Rep. Tom McClintock has, according to The Hill, become the leader of the budget hawks in the House Republican caucus, who are fighting to end the endless river of red ink flowing from Washington:
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) has emerged as a leader of deficit hardliners in the House and become a thorn in the side of GOP leaders.
While McClintock does not criticize other Republicans by name, he is clearly dissatisfied with the amount of spending cuts House Republicans have achieved since winning the majority in 2010.
“This government doesn’t spend money unless the House authorizes it. We are more than a year into a period where we have controlled the House and we are a trillion dollars deeper in debt,” he told The Hill in an interview. “The buck starts here. We can’t blame the president.”
McClintock, who has been in the House since 2008, led the 93-member defection against reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank this month with an impassioned floor speech.
“Legitimate companies have plenty of access to private capital, they don’t need these subsidies. The illegitimate ones don’t need to be propped up with the hard-earned dollars of working taxpayers,” McClintock said on the floor.
The Ex-Im bill was negotiated by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who supports ending export credits but compromised with Democrats to extend the bank for three more years. In one concession won by Cantor, the bill for the first time orders the administration to begin international talks to end export financing.
That wasn’t enough to sway McClintock, however. He argued that, although the bank turns a profit, it could one day blow up in taxpayers’ faces like Fannie Mae.
You always hear about how the left is so tolerant, so open-minded, so embracing, so encouraging of individual people to be themselves and live their own lives.
The introduction of Senators Schumer and Casey’s new tax collection law—and some of the commentary on it—shows how much of that is just totally bupkiss.
As many of you are no doubt aware, Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook, gave up his US citizenship in 2011 and became a permanent resident of Singapore. Many believe this is because of his stake in the Facebook IPO—he could pay upwards of $100 million on that if he’s still a citizen due to capital gains taxes. (Although I’m pretty sure you still have to pay taxes for some odd number of years after you renounce your citizenship, though I may need to check that out.)
Doug Mataconis blogged about this last week over at Outside the Beltway, where he notes that it’s probably an unconstitutional law and is going nowhere. But it was in his comments that I found something much more illuminating: how the left truly sees this.
We immediately start off, right at the beginning, with this, from a guy named “Norm”:
This guy is a scumbag.
Well, isn’t that nice and compassionate and caring. Doug challenges him, to which Norm responds with:
He came to America and benefited from the safety and education and business opportunities that taxes help fund. Only now he doesn’t want to pay the taxes that fund those things he benefited from.
Ipso facto…scum bag.
At the G8 summit at Camp David this weekend, the leaders issued a statement calling for more growth (ie. more government spending) instead of austerity.
CAMP DAVID, Md. — Leaders of the world’s richest countries banded together on Saturday to press Germany to back more pro-growth policies to halt the deepening debt crisis in Europe, as President Obama for the first time gained widespread support for his argument that Europe, and the United States by extension, cannot afford Chancellor Angela Merkel’s one-size-fits-all approach emphasizing austerity.
Pointedly recognizing “that the right measures are not the same for each of us,” the leaders of the Group of 8 nations, at a meeting hosted by Mr. Obama at Camp David, committed to “take all necessary steps” to strengthen their economies. They said they wanted to keep Greece in the euro zone and vowed to work to promote growth in Europe, though behind the scenes distinct differences remained over what kinds of stimulus policies to pursue.
“Our imperative,” the leaders said in their statement, “is to promote growth and jobs.”
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen Republicans begin to criticize President Barack Obama on various ancillary issues. Some of them are valid. Others not so much. Poll after poll shows that Americans are more concerned about the economy and jobs than other issues that may pop up in the news or the various memes that may arise from either the right or the left.
Here are some of the oft-repeated issues that have come up in recent days that conservatives and Republicans should stay away from if they hope to beat Obama and Democrats in the fall.
Social Issues: We’ve been over this one before thanks to the contraceptive kerfuffle earlier this year. It ended up being a bad issue for Republicans and they took a hit with women in the polls. They were largely right, in that taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to fund contraceptives and that the mandate was an infringement of the First Amendment on religious organizations that now have to pay for something to which they may have a moral objection.
More recently, however, it looks like they learned their lesson. When President Obama announced his support for gay marriage at the state-level, Republicans in Congress were mostly silent, though they did reinterate their support for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which is facing a legal challenge. That doesn’t mean that it won’t come up again during the course of the next several months, as we get close to November.
Polls show that social issues, such as gay marriage and abortion, are not on minds of voters, particularly independents. And perhaps even more of important are polls that show a majority of Americans are supportive of gay marriage.