Statism

Obama Demands More Revenue to Fix Deficit, Misses Point Completely

You mad, bro?

President Obama’s plan to fix the deficit and national debt? Call for more tax revenue:

President Obama insisted Sunday that additional tax revenue will need to be part of future deficit deals, but said hikes in tax rates may not be necessary.

In a pre-Super Bowl interview with CBS, the president outlined his vision for further deficit reduction, which he said was essential, but in a way that preserves the government’s ability to continue spending on key programs.

He also emphasized that the seemingly continuous stream of Washington standoffs was wreaking havoc on confidence in the U.S. economy.

Republicans have insisted that the revenue side of the deficit equation was dealt with during “fiscal cliff” talks, which resulted in a compromise that saw rates climb on the nation’s top earners. But Obama flatly rejected the notion that future talks would explicitly focus on spending.

“There is no doubt we need additional revenue, coupled with smart spending reductions, in order to bring down our deficit,” he said.

Uh, no, Mr. President. What we need is not additional revenue; what we need is to reduce spending across the board. We need to cut defense spending, which is the highest in the world. We need to cut and reform entitlements. We need to drastically scale back federal education spending, which has done absolutely nothing to educate our children. We need to acknowledge that the federal War on Poverty has been useless and reform our welfare system. We need to end foreign aid. We need to cut back on environmental spending, since that has done nothing useful. What we do not need is “additional revenue.”

US Sues Standard & Poor’s Over Credit Ratings, Forgets It Made The Mess Itself

Oh, what a tangled web we weave. The United States government has sued credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s over the ratings it gave to mortgages just before the financial crisis:

The U.S. government is accusing the debt rating agency Standard & Poor’s of fraud for giving high ratings to risky mortgage bonds that helped bring about the financial crisis.

The government said in a civil complaint filed late Monday that S&P misled investors by stating that its ratings were objective and “uninfluenced by any conflicts of interest.” It said S&P’s desire to make money and gain market share caused S&P to ignore the risks posed by the investments between September 2004 and October 2007.

The charges mark the first enforcement action the government has taken against a major rating agency involving the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

According to the government filing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the alleged fraud made it possible to sell the investments to banks. The government charged S&P under a law aimed at making sure banks invest safely.

S&P, a unit of New York-based McGraw-Hill Cos., has denied wrongdoing and said that any lawsuit would be without merit.

It is without merit, but not for the reasons S&P thinks. See, this whole thing is hilarious, because the situation itself was created by the government. That’s right; if it wasn’t for government meddling in the credit rating market, this would never have happened:

Obama’s Secret Power To Kill Anyone, Anywhere, at Any Time

drones

Naomi Wolf—eeeeeeek! I know, I know, but bear with me, please—had a very interesting column in the Guardian about a new independent documentary called Dirty Wars, tracking the use of secret assassins by the US government. It neatly dovetails with the recent release of a DOJ memo outlining the legal case for drone strikes on Americans. Together, the two items reveal that we are living in a very different world, one where the American president has unlimited power to kill anybody, without any sort of legal repercussions whatsoever.

Wolf writes:

The film Dirty Wars, which premiered at Sundance, can be viewed, as Amy Goodman sees it, as an important narrative of excesses in the global “war on terror”. It is also a record of something scary for those of us at home – and uncovers the biggest story, I would say, in our nation’s contemporary history.

One Statement That Reveals All You Need To Know About Politics & Business

POLITICO has a new story on how big money donors from NYC are reacting to the changes in the Republican Party. The most interesting part of it, though, is one statement that so perfectly encapsulates the big government-big business relation:

“Everyone in the financial industry, much like the business world, look at politics as an investment, and they just don’t feel like they got much of a return,” said one financial services Republican lobbyist. “I think it is going to be tough this time.”

The moral of the story? That liberals, who are always decrying big business and want to increase big government to control it, are fools. Since businessmen view political contributions as an investment, the larger you make government, the more money businessmen will invest in it.

And, of course, the best way to do that is through campaign contributions and lobbying. Randall Holcombe, a professor of economics at Florida State University and a research fellow at the Independent Institute, explains why:

When government is limited, both in its budget and its regulatory powers, businesses seek profits through innovation and productive activity. Big government inevitably influences business profitability because taxes lower profitability, subsidies can raise it, government expenditures can aid business projects, and regulations can provide both benefits to firms and erect barriers for their competitors. So, with big government, businesses have to turn their attention toward those activities of government that influence their profits.

The notion that big government can control crony capitalism is exactly backwards. Big government causes crony capitalism.

No, the GOP isn’t wisening up on military spending

Jason Pye has already written about this story in POLITICO about Republicans thinking of cutting military spending (thanks for ninja-ing me, boss), but I have my own thoughts about what they’re reporting on, and I’m deeply skeptical anything will change:

On a hot July night six months ago, 89 House Republicans joined more dovish Democrats to do the unusual for Washington: cut $1.1 billion from the GOP’s proposed budget for defense in 2013.

Then came Hurricane Sandy and the New Year’s Day tax bill, and as many as 157 House Republicans voted Jan. 15 to endorse a much bigger cut, taking nearly $10 billion from the Pentagon to help pay for disaster aid. It was a huge swing by any measure and one followed this week by a Monday night Senate vote in which the overwhelming majority of Republicans endorsed their own across-the-board defense cut worth tens of billions of dollars over the next nine years.

Welcome to the new “dare you, double dare you” school of deficit politics — just a taste of what’s to come March 1 when much deeper spending cuts take effect under the sequester mechanism dictated by the 2011 debt accords.

House Republicans seem determined to let the cuts take effect if only as payback to President Barack Obama for humiliating them over taxes. The White House and Senate Democrats are so far feigning indifference. And while “the boys” play tough, much could depend on two women thrust into Senate committee chairmanships this year: Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) on Appropriations and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on the Budget panel.

Despite Obama’s second term, there is light at the end of the tunnel

As the presidential inauguration comes upon us today, I can’t help but think that we’re seeing Bush’s fourth term. Barack Obama, while talking up a good liberal game on international peace and social issues, is really quite similar to his Republican predecessor. He has widely broadened the use of drones pioneered with Bush 43. His signing of the NDAA act authorizing indefinite detention is merely a sequel to the PATRIOT Act Bush signed in 2001. And his recent executive orders on guns have elicited much the same outrage from conservatives that liberals had over Bush’s signing statements.

Combined with staying the course on military spending, staying the course on not making any significant reforms to entitlements, staying the course on the War on Drugs, and staying the course on corporate bailouts…

…and I’m wondering if George W. Bush ever left.

Certainly, there are differences. George W. Bush championed a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, while the Obama Administration has just given up on defending the Defense of Marriage Act. Obama is also far more supportive of a woman’s right to choose, while George W. Bush was pro-life (mostly). But on nearly all other issues, ranging from torture, to war, to government spending, our 44th president is little more than an “expansion pack” to our 43rd — doing the same things, only worse.

Taxes and Spending Are Only Part of the Equation: Don’t Forget Regulations

Grover Norquist

Much hash has been made lately over Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, from his organization, Americans for Tax Reform. The Pledge forces anyone who signs it to not vote for tax increases, unless there is reduction in taxes elsewhere (for instance, voting to raise excise taxes but cutting income taxes, though don’t quote me on that.) It’s also been in the news because some Republicans have backed away from the pledge, not wanting to be feel like they’re in a straight jacket while engaged in fiscal cliff negotiations.

Jonathan Bydlak, president of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, writes in National Review that while Grover’s push is admirable, it’s not entirely sufficient:

For years, Grover Norquist and Republicans have tried “starving the beast” of the federal government by capping taxes. While they’ve been highly successful at preventing tax increases, they have been less effective at addressing one problematic aspect of fiscal policy: the ability of the Federal Reserve and Treasury to borrow more and more to finance massive spending, as they have done under the Bush and Obama administrations. It’s simple: Borrowing today means a higher tax burden tomorrow when the debt comes due. True fiscal responsibility, then, requires us to curb spending in addition to limiting tax rates.

Jovan Belcher Shooting Not A Case For Gun Control

jevon_belcher

I’m not a sports guy, so I didn’t find out until this morning, but Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend, then shot himself in front of his coaches.

Naturally, some are calling this an example of why we need gun control. People like…Bob Costas:

You knew it was coming. In the aftermath of the nearly unfathomable events in Kansas City, that most mindless of sports clichés was heard yet again, ‘Something like this really puts it all in perspective.’ Well if so, that sort of perspective has a very short shelf life since we will inevitably hear about the perspective we have supposedly again regained the next time ugly reality intrudes upon our games. Please.

Those who need tragedies to continually recalibrate their sense of proportion about sports, would seem to have little hope of ever truly achieving perspective. You want some actual perspective on this? Well a bit of it comes from the Kansas City-based writer Jason Whitlock, with whom I do not always agree, but, who today, said it so well that we may as well just quote or paraphrase from the end of his article.

The Fiscal Cliff: Let’s Just Dive Off And Get It Over With

fiscalcliff_banner

Everyone is fearing the fiscal cliff set to hit the country this New Year’s, a point when various tax cuts (including the Bush tax cuts) expire and automatic budget cuts agreed to in last year’s budget deal go into effect. Everyone is—except a growing number of politicians and pundits, who think that going over the fiscal cliff might be a good idea.

Senator Rand Paul, writing in the Wall Street Journal, seems to think so:

Americans are told that they face a “fiscal cliff” if automatic federal spending cuts and tax increases occur at the end of the year. I’m not in favor of jumping off a cliff, but the logic of the supposed threat needs to be questioned.

The fiscal-cliff narrative assumes that spending cuts are bad for the economy. It follows, then, that more spending (and therefore more government debt) are good for the economy.

Didn’t we try that with President Obama’s trillion-dollar deficit-spending spree? You remember the stimulus—the one that created or “saved” American jobs at a cost of $400,000 per job. The one that left the unemployment rate over 8% for 43 consecutive months, the longest span since the Great Depression.

So is it good for the federal government to borrow more and spend more, or is it good for the economy to spend less and borrow less? These questions might need to be addressed before we wring our hands in despair at the possible fiscal cliff.

David Harsanyi also thinks going over the cliff would be better than trying to concot a deal at the last minute, though for him, it’s a bit more on the politics side than anything else:

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.


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