Deficits

United Liberty Podcast: Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA)

Tom McClintock

“Congress should be cutting spending, reducing the regulatory burdens that are crushing the economy — freedom works, and it is time we put it back to work.” — Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA)

Just a couple of days after President Barack Obama laid out his agenda for the next year in his State of the Union address, I sat down with Rep. Tom McClintock, a Republican who represents California’s Fourth Congressional District, to get his thoughts on the proposals being pushed by the White House, the Senate’s refusal to pass a budget, ObamaCare, and a few other issues.

On the State of the Union, Rep. McClintock, who has been among the staunchest defenders of economic freedom and the Constitution in Congress, was dismissive of President Obama’s agenda. “[W]e heard this song before,” he noted. “I think that his words have to be measured against the last four years of his deeds.”

He rhetorically asked, “What have been his policies? Higher taxes, much higher spending, out of control deficits, crushing business regulations. And what have those policies produced? Family take home pay has declined over these past four years, the unemployment rate is higher than when we started — it would be much higher except for the millions of Americans who have given up even looking for work.”

“What did he propose? More of the same,” Rep. McClintock stated. “Taking bad policy and doubling down on it doesn’t make it good policy.”

Rejecting False Choices and Exposing Lies

As August 2nd approaches, stipulated by Treasury Secretary and tax cheat Timothy Geithner as the date when the U.S. will reach its statutory debt limit, our illustrious president, Barack Obama, becomes more and more unhinged. From highly partisan, contemptuous and fact-challenged press conferences, to his angry and petulant exit from a meeting with Republicans on the issue, it is clear that Obama is feeling the pressure. This is compounded by the fact that the historically weak-willed Republicans seem shockingly willing to be proven vertebrates, and actually refuse to back down on principle (Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s recent suggestion to completely abdicate constitutional duty and give all power to the president notwithstanding).

From class warfare rhetoric about tax breaks for corporate jet owners (signed into law by Obama in the 2009 stimulus bill, and less than a rounding error on the federal budget) to fear mongering the elderly to think Social Security checks will not go out, nothing is beneath this integrity-challenged president in his quest for power. He tirelessly repeats his Marxist mantra of needing to get “millionaires and billionaires” to “pay their fair share” and be a part of the “shared sacrifice”, despite the fact that the top 1% of all income earners (a group starting at $380,354/year and including millions of small businesses that file taxes under personal returns…hardly millionaires and billionaires) paid 38% of total tax revenue, while the bottom 50% paid only 2.7%. The top 5% starts at $159,619 and accounts for 58.7% of taxes paid.

Coming to Expect the Unexpected

Shortly after the 2008 presidential election, historian Michael Bechloss gushed with praise for President-Elect Barack Obama, declaring him to be “probably the smartest guy ever to become President”, and raving that his IQ is “off the charts”. When interviewer Don Imus inquired as to what Obama’s IQ is, Bechloss admitted that he did not know, but that did not keep him from gushing effusive praise. We are left to take a historian’s word for it, because Obama has steadfastly refused to release his college transcripts, and his policies while in office certainly do not lend credence to the claims of his brilliance. In fact, if we had to judge the president by the effectiveness of his policies, Obama would be the functional equivalent not of the class valedictorian, but of that weird kid that sat in the corner and ate paste while talking to himself.

On matters of the economy, the president and his advisors seem to be particularly clueless. Consider some statements from the administration of late:

In a recent video clip making the rounds, Obama responds to a question about the near $1 trillion “stimulus” package and its effect on the economy by laughing and then declaring “ ‘Shovel-ready’ was not as shovel-ready as we expected.” This is, you will recall, the same stimulus package that Obama demanded must be passed immediately if we were to stem the possibility of another Great Depression. We were promised (by Christina Romer, the first chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors) that if we passed it, unemployment would stay below 8%. Well, we DID pass it, and we have been rewarded with unemployment levels between 9-10+% for well over two years. Now, we have high unemployment AND staggering quantities of additional debt crippling the economy.

President Pyro and the Field of Straw Men

Eight hundred and fourteen days. That is how long it has taken me to lose my last shred of respect for the current President of the United States. Erupting onto the national political stage at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama was immediately praised as a rising star. A charismatic, well-spoken young politician, he clearly had a future in politics. A tall, lanky senator from Illinois, he drew comparisons to Abraham Lincoln. A black man that avoided being characterized as a black politician (as opposed to a politician who happens to be black), he avoided bombastic speeches about racism and reparations. He gave white Americans still harboring guilt over our ancestors’ participation in the evil of the human slave trade the chance to prove they were no longer racist by voting for him. His entire campaign was a nebulous celebration of “Hope and Change”. He was the post-racial, post-partisan candidate that as president would heal the divide between black and white, Republican and Democrat.

That was then, this is now.

Last month, having given speech after speech decrying the need for fiscal responsibility and the need to rein in the deficits and get the debt under control, President Obama unveiled a $3.7 trillion dollar federal budget that increased federal spending and projected (based on unrealistically optimistic growth rates for the next few years) $1.6 trillion in deficits for the year, with annual deficits averaging around $1 trillion over the next decade. It increased spending. It did nothing to control the largest contributors to the deficit and long term debt (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on the $14.2 trillion national debt). In short, the serious discussion he claimed to want regarding fiscal responsibility was nowhere to be found in his budget.

It’s Time For An Adult Conversation

By February 2011, now just over four months away, America will know whether the Republican Party that they have returned to power in the House, along with the increased number in the Senate, truly are a new breed of Republicans (or rather, a return to the traditional Republicans of the past…true limited government, low tax conservatives), or whether we have the same mess as before in new packaging.

To be sure, Republicans are unlikely to accomplish much in 2011 and 2012, at least from an administrative standpoint. Even if they regain a majority in the House (very likely) and Senate (an outside possibility requiring all the stars to align), they are still faced with an opposition president wielding veto power, a president who has vowed that there will be “hand-to-hand combat in Washington” if Republicans win. Despite his lofty rhetoric of ushering in an era of true bipartisanship, Obama’s latest comments reveal what most of us already knew. Namely, that “bipartisanship” to Democrats means Republicans must vote for everything that the Democrat majority passes or be labeled as “obstructionist”.

This is the same president who, shortly after taking office in January 2009, and when facing Republican opposition to the stimulus package, repeatedly reminded Republicans that he’d won the election. Therefore, the implication being, America has accepted his goals and his agenda and there will be no compromises. The stimulus package was rammed through with almost no Republican support (a good thing, because now Democrats have to take full responsibility for its failure), as was ObamaCare (passed with NO Republican support, also a good thing).

A Failure to Communicate

“What we have here…is a failure to communicate.”

In the movie classic Cool Hand Luke, these are the words spoken by the warden to Luke, a young prisoner who makes a brief but daring escape from a chain gang. The warden, a cruel, iron-fisted man who ruled the prison like it was his own dictatorship, was determined to break the spirit of Luke, a happy-go-lucky young man thrown into prison for cutting off the tops of parking meters one night while drunk. His failure to break Luke infuriated the warden, and the escape attempt offered the warden an opportunity to kick Luke violently to satisfy his own rage, as well as make an example to the other prisoners of what happens to those that do not conform to the dictates of power.

The Obama administration has become the modern-day version of that warden. As American citizens become less and less trusting of the agenda of Obama, Pelosi and Reid, having seen the failed promises and resulting damage to our economy, Democrats have moved into damage control.

At first they attempted to woo us by eloquence and persuasion. We were told that 95% of Americans would get a tax cut, that the stimulus bill would keep unemployment under 8%, and that we could add 30 million people to the insurance rolls, increase benefits and still bring the cost down. Anyone who’d ever run a business or balanced a checkbook saw this for the utter nonsense that it was. Yet the Democrats used outright lies, bribery and threats to pass their agenda. Seeing their popularity wane as the “hope and change” of the campaign season turned into the reality of “rope and chains “ of massive debt, they have become more and more desperate to regain control of the narrative.

Greenspan, The Fallen God

For years liberals, conservatives, independents, DC, Main Street and Wall Street seemingly defied all normality and not only embraced, but nearly worshiped the same individual, Alan Greenspan. After rising in 1987 to the position of Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the most powerful financial position in the world, he presided over the most sustained period of economic growth in the history of America. He rode the wave of private sector technological achievements that created abnormally high productivity growth. To many it was his greatness that brought about the increase in income, increase in homeownership, increase in credit, increase in all things material — while still maintaining price stability.

CBO director: Obamacare will increase deficits, creates disincentive to work

CBO Director Doug Elemendorf appeared before the congressional committee yesterday to testify on his agency’s budget outlook report. As one might image, given its explosive findings, the most the discussions centered around Obamacare.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) kicked off the hearing by noting that the CBO report shows that “autopilot spending” are driving budget deficits, but he quickly turned to the findings related to Obamacare.

“This report says the debt gets worse, and we have slower economic growth compared to the last forecast,” said Ryan in his opening remarks. “But what is particularly troubling is CBO’s projection of labor force participation. CBO says that about half of this decline is attributable to the aging of the population — most notably the retirement of the ‘baby boom’ generation.”

But CBO also says that government policies, especially the President’s healthcare law, are discouraging work. Washington is making this problem worse,” he said. “This does not have to be our fate. We need to reverse this decline.”

Elemendorf parsed through various parts of the report, going through points related to the federal budget and the economy, both in the short- and long-term. But he also touched on parts of the report dealing with Obamacare.

“The baseline projections show what we think would happen to federal spending, revenues, and deficits over the next 10 years if current laws were generally unchanged,” Elemendorf told the House Budget Committee. “Under that assumption, the deficit is projected to decrease again in 2015 to [$478 billion].”

Today in Liberty: Amash wants to avoid debt ceiling theater, anti-NSA bill moves in Arizona

“What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don’t like something to saying that the government should forbid it. When you go down that road, don’t expect freedom to survive very long.” — Thomas Sowell

— Conservatives urge Boehner forego “theater” on debt ceiling: Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Raul Labrador (R-ID), two of the most conservative members of the House, are urging Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) avoid political theater and pass a clean debt ceiling rather than delay the inevitable. “Our constituents are fed up with the political theater. If we’re not going to fight for something specific, we might as well let the Democrats own it,” said Labrador. Amash was more resigned to the ends of a showdown, saying, “It’s going to end up being clean anyway.”

— Oh, Chris Matthews, you are such a pitiful person: The MSNBC host says that complaining about President Obama’s use of executive power and lawlessness is “second-term birtherism.” Make fun of birthers all you want, we don’t mind. But the constitutional limits on the executive and separation of powers is not something that should be so easily tossed aside. No word on whether Matthews still gets a thrill up his leg when he hears Obama speak.

Obama knocks Republicans, bloggers in post-shutdown speech

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama told reporters on Wednesday evening that he’d have a lot to say about the government shutdown and debt ceiling following the House’s passage of the measure.

Boy, did he ever?

During a 20-minute speech on Thursday morning, President Obama spent a lot of time decrying “brinksmanship” and lecturing Republicans who opposed a spending measure that didn’t defund or change his signature law. He also took shots at groups and bloggers that oppose his administration.

“We know that the American people’s frustration with what goes on in this town has never been higher. That’s not a surprise that the American people are completely fed up with Washington,” said President Obama. “At a moment when our economic recovery demands more jobs, more momentum, we’ve got yet another self-inflicted crisis that set our economy back. And for what?”


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