Barack Obama

White House Budget Director Refuses to Answer Whether Obama’s Proposal Ignores the Law

 Sylvia Burwell

President Barack Obama appears to have ignored the Democrats’ decision to pass on pushing through a budget and decided to make a move on his own.

Obama’s recently unveiled $3.9 trillion budget would raise more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years and increase spending $56 billion above statutory caps in the next year alone, which means that the President did not consider the spending caps both the White House and Congress agreed to last year before he decided to unveil his plan.

During a Budget Committee hearing yesterday, Sylvia Burwell, Obama’s White House Budget Director, seemed to struggle to answer Sen. Jeff Sessions’ (R-AL) question regarding the president’s budget proposal. While Obama’s plan would increase spending, Burnwell refused to answer Sessions when asked whether the budget would allow more spending than what had been already agreed to previously when the President signed the Ryan-Murray budget.

According to the Budget Director, “there are some questions that are not simply Yes or No questions.” Her justification and defense of the new budget proposal ignores the budget already signed by the president. When asked if she wanted Congress to change the Ryan-Murray budget so that the increased spending proposed by Obama would then become a possibility, Burnwell also struggled to respond.

Report on DOD Response to Benghazi Released by House subcommittee

After reviewing thousands of pages of a series of Benghazi-related documents, including classified emails and situation reports, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations released a summary of its members’ particular reviews regarding what is known of the circumstances surrounding the Benghazi attack and the Department of Defense’s response.

According to Think Progress, the Subcommittee concluded that “there was no way for the U.S. military to have responded in time to the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya to save the four Americans killed that night,” but according to the report, “given the uncertainty about the prospective length and scope of the attack, military commanders did not take all possible steps to prepare for a more extended operation.”

In other words, what the Subcommittee concluded appears to sound nothing close to what Think Progress reported.

The White House, the Subcommittee found, failed to address a growing concern related to the deteriorating security situation in Libya, which created a particularly vulnerable situation for U.S. personnel stationed in Benghazi. The Subcommittee also found that the response of our military was “severely degraded because of the location and readiness posture of U.S. forces, and because of lack of clarity about how the terrorist action was unfolding.”

Jon Stewart Is In Denial

I’ve always admired Jon Stewart’s willingness to question his own side, and to demand substantive answers from his guests. In his recent interview with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), however, he seemed to be arguing with himself. After asking how Democrats can make a stronger case for the competence of government, Stewart lamented “…because on our end, it looks like it’s a bit chaotic.”

From his hilarious ripping of the NSA to pressing Pelosi on why healthcare.gov is such a mess, (to which she replied “I don’t know”) his subtle skepticism about certain government initiatives while believing others to be essential has always puzzled me. It seems obvious that his aversion to concentrated power in the hands of the rich, would be difficult to achieve while entrusting the people they’ve paid to prevent it.

He touched on this Thursday with a question that not only highlighted a lack of awareness on the part of Pelosi but hints at a growing disillusionment among Stewart and many on the left:

“Is it possible that the people within the system don’t have enough distance from it to see…These corporations lobby to get all kinds of arcane things put into the regulations that makes it harder for these small businesses…Can our congress maybe not see the corruption inherent in that?”

Americans Value Privacy Over Security, Survey Results Suggest

President Obama’s claim to be responding to people’s concerns related to the NSA’s surveillance programs hasn’t gained momentum, mainly because most Americans still believe that his promised reforms will do nothing to address the real problems.

According to Politico, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows that over 60 percent of people who participated said they value privacy over surveillance tactics disguised as anti-terror protections carried out by agencies like the National Security Agency. Since the last time this question was asked of respondents back in August by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, the percentage of Americans that claimed to value privacy over security has gone up two points.

Since NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden made his revelations public, President Obama has been scrambling to gain the public’s trust back but none of his efforts seems to be paying off. He has recently promised to review NSA’s surveillance system by ensuring that new limits are going to be imposed to the intelligence committee. According to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Obama’s reforms are not going to be effective mostly because the President has misdiagnosed the problem.

According to the most recent poll, only 34% of respondents claimed to support Obama’s reform proposals concerning the FISA court procedures and the creation of a panel of attorneys that would offer counter-arguments to the government, while only 17% say Obama’s proposal to move collected phone data out of the NSA’s hands is valid.

Everyone’s ideas are racist except mine

There are a few ways that a policy gets to be called racist: it is intended to negatively affect one race over another, it results in a negative affect on one race over another regardless of intent, or it has historically been used to negatively affect one race over another regardless of present intent or eventual result.

The first two are justifiably used to disqualify certain policies; of course we shouldn’t enact things that are intended to or serve to foster racial discrimination. But the latter is used as a fallacious smear tactic almost exclusively against conservative and libertarian policies. If that’s how we’re going to debate, it’s long past time the historically racist origins of certain liberal policies got considered too.

Federalism gets a bad rap obviously because of slavery and Jim Crow laws. The mantle of states’ rights was used for a long time as a means to get away with any number of heinous injustices and atrocities. That is almost never the case today, yet one risks being labeled racist for suggesting it, whether the issue to which federalism is to be applied has anything to do with race or not.

Well, if the putative federalist in question is a Republican, that is. Democrats are free to cling to states’ rights when it is convenient without having to worry about similar ad hominem attacks. Even after President Obama’s hailed conversion on the issue of gay marriage, he maintains that states should be free to decide the issue themselves.

This is effectively the same position as most elected Republicans, yet he doesn’t get called names because of it. Even the President’s signature health insurance reform grants states tremendous discretion in how much of the law’s new bureaucracy to implement themselves. Has anyone called Obamacare racist?

Have some fries with that executive order

The All-Nite Images (CC)

Because ObamaCare is such a complete failure, the president is at least slightly welcoming the latest distraction to keep the masses from noticing that problem. Protestors took to the streets demanding that the government not only increase the minimum wage, but essentially double it. Of course, while that might seem like a nice idea for people that are barely making it by with low wage jobs, it would not work out very well for them in the end.

Forbes explored this issue at length a while ago, but their findings remain just as true today. Slight increases in the minimum wage have been shown to cause job losses, as companies downsize to absorb the increased costs of their labor force. One thing that has changed is the effect of ObamaCare on the situation. Many employers are already looking at cutting hours of low wage workers to avoid the increased costs of benefits for employees.

Liberals are demonizing this action, and are still demanding higher wages, while ignoring what should be obvious. Increased costs must be paid one way or another, whether by cutting labor costs, increasing prices for consumers, or a combination of the two. Since the latter is a likely solution for many companies that employ low wage workers, that would mean the continuation of a vicious cycle for the very people that liberals would hope to help by increasing the minimum wage in the first place.

Low wage workers tend to use the goods and services of companies like fast food restaurants and WalMart, so even if their wages are increased, it probably will not help them very much in the end. A pay raise doesn’t do much good if the price of goods and services goes up, too.

US enters age of Uber-Executive

Dave Newman (CC)

As arguments over the problems with ObamaCare are raging, there was another discussion occurring on the Hill in the Rayburn Office building. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing to explore whether or not Barack Obama has been overstepping his limits during his tenure as president. Not surprisingly, two out of three Constitutional scholars were of the opinion that he certainly has, and not only with his various extensions, waivers, and fund shuffling over his landmark legislation.

Of course, the hearing was split, just as everything else has been - on party lines, with Democrats leaving the room for at least portions of the questioning. That was predictable, and while it could be slightly satisfying to point out the adolescent nature of that behavior, it’s far more important to point out some of the more interesting statements made by the scholars.

Mediaite latched onto the Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon, and his contention that this reckless power grab could lead to another revolution. While that might be the extreme, the concept that people may stop paying attention to laws isn’t such a stretch. Lawlessness breeds lawlessness, and when the example is the man that is supposed to be upholding the laws of the land, it is a dangerous situation.

Democrats In Name Only

Democrats

A frequent epithet thrown around on the right is “RINO!,” Republican In Name Only, meaning that the target calls themselves a Republican but isn’t ideologically or even tactically dedicated to the party’s platform. The irony is that the such intraparty purity tests distract from the real political target: DINOs, Democrats In Name Only.

Over the last few years, our friends on the left have become increasingly brazen about how little they value actual democracy. They may be called “Democrats”, but their latent fetish for (benevolent?) autocracy and fascism (minus the mass graves…mostly) belies the name. Just last night the President “joked” about eliminating the legislative branch of our government, and on cue his Volk brayed and whinnied at the idea:

Rand Paul talks insurance cancellations, freedom of choice

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) decided to use the story of a Kentucky family yesterday to illustrate how the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, has been hurting common Americans.

He took the story of the Mangiones to the floor of the Senate to explain why President Obama’s promise regarding people’s freedom of choice was misleading at best.

When the President announced that if you liked your insurance plan you would be able to keep it, he ensured the public that our freedom of maintaining a plan granting us the type of coverage we find fitting to our lifestyle would be respected. Now that a small number of Americans are buying insurance through the glitchy heath care exchange website, we are learning that the promise the President made hasn’t been kept.

Because individuals are required by law to purchase insurance plans that cover more than what they are willing to pay for, people’s plans are being canceled for not qualifying under the new health care laws. The same plans President Obama once said individuals could keep, if they liked it.

According to Sen. Paul, the Mangiones “had an individual policy they were happy with. They paid $300 a month.” Once they enrolled for ObamaCare, they learned that “they are now going to be asked to pay $900 a month for things they don’t want and they didn’t choose to have.”

Sen. Paul went on to explain how his own experience with signing up for Obamacare was a failure and how important it is for us to tackle ObamaCare’s freedom of choice problem by keeping the law from hurting more families.

Critics call for the opposite of a “clean” deal on debt ceiling

debt ceiling

President Barack Obama has made himself clear: he will not sign a debt ceiling bill unless it’s “clean,” meaning that he will not negotiate.

Under President Obama, the total federal debt increased by 57 percent. Once he took oath, the federal debt stood at $10.6 trillion. The total debt now stands at $16.7 trillion. Under President George W. Bush, the total federal debt rose 38 percent. President Bill Clinton’s term saw a 32 percent increase of the total federal debt.

Due to the current federal debt, critics of this administration’s pursue of an increase in the debt limit have been pressuring lawmakers to ensure that Congress does not allow for an increase. Expanding the amount of money the U.S. can borrow means one thing in the long run: that the money we now have will not be spent on useful programs that need the funding, and that more money will be necessary in order to have some, if any, of what we owe paid back.

Reason’s Nick Gillespie points out in this video for Reason TV that because of the significant growth of the federal government’s net interest payments, the government will have to find a way to obtain more revenue in order to pay some of its debt, which will inevitably lead to a reduction of private investment in productive resources, stifling the economy and keeping potential business owners from dedicating themselves to their ventures.

 


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