There is no denying that Mitt Romney has had a rough go of things lately. President Barack Obama managed to get a decent bounce out of the Democratic National Convention, though it seems to be diminishing in recent polls, and the aftermath of the attack on the United States Embassy in Libya was contentious thanks to the media focusing on his criticisms of Obama rather than the substance of his comments about the incident.
The latest outrage is that Mitt Romney has written off 47% of voters who he says will never vote for him because they are too dependent on the government:
During a private reception with wealthy donors this year, Mitt Romney described almost half of Americans as “people who pay no income tax” and are “dependent upon government.” Those voters, he said, would probably support President Obama because they believe they are “victims” who are “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”
As Democrats kicked off their convention yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina, the United States crossed an ominous threshold as the national debt clock crossed the $16 trillion mark — nearly $51,000 per citizen. While we should understand that the national debt and unfunded liabilities were already unsustainable over the long term, President Barack Obama has done little to rein them in.
During his term in office, President Obama has overseen four consecutive years of $1+ trillion budget deficits, adding some $5.375 trillion dollars to the national debt since during that time. This is the same man who slammed the deficits of George W. Bush on the campaign trail in 2008. Obama, then a U.S. Senator from Illinois, told supporters, “The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents — [Bush] added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child.” Obama said that this was “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.”
Doug Mataconis passes this sad story along on Outside the Beltway from the National Journal, where it appears that Paul Ryan has just junked some of the major cuts in his plan that made it so refreshing:
Rep. Paul Ryan, in a Fox News interview that aired on Tuesday evening, renounced $716 billion in cuts to Medicare that were part of his fiscal 2013 budget.
That assertion helps strengthen an attack line on President Obama’s health reform law that had been partially undermined by the details of Ryan’s controversial budget proposal. In the interview, the House member from Wisconsin said he now favors overturning the health reform law in its entirety, including its budget-saving measures.
“I am on the Romney ticket,” Ryan told Fox’s Brit Hume. “And what Mitt Romney is proposing is to repeal all of ‘Obamacare.’ And in the House, repeatedly, I have voted with that position. I support that position. I’m pleased to support the position of getting rid of every piece of Obamacare, including the cuts to Medicare which are used to pay for Obamacare.”
Since being introduced as Mitt Romney’s running mate, President Barack Obama’s campaign and Democrats have been hammering Paul Ryan over his budget proposal. The narrative at the moment is that Ryan’s plan would “end Medicare as we know.”
The suggestion is absurd. Ryan’s plan, which was crafted with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) doesn’t touch Medicare for anyone 55 and older and only creates a a voucher system as an option to going along with the traditional program.
Romney is hitting back at Obama’s campaign on Medicare, emphasizing cuts to the government-run healthcare program that will be made as a result of ObamaCare — cuts that would have been made under Ryan’s budget, which has been noted by Ezra Klein and Avik Roy. But, as Philip Klein explains, there are dangers to Romney’s campaign if they focus too much on the issue:
In the past several days, Romney has attempted to turn the tables on Obama by noting that his own national health care law — Obamacare — cut Medicare significantly.
Since announcing Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has seen a surge of support from many of the same people who have been skeptical of his campaign. Some are still many who are not happy with the selection, perhaps best explained by Corie Whalen this morning. But writing at Newsmax, Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, is encouraging grassroots activists to get behind the Republican ticket:
Romney made a good choice — a great choice in fact. It was a real indication to grassroots America that the Romney camp is willing to finally engage on the big issues that matter most in this election. It’s not quite enough to say that Obama has failed, we know that. Incumbent presidents should not win reelection with persistent unemployment over 8 percent and a staggering $16 trillion in debt. Clearly Obama needs to be fired. But what are you, the Republicans, actually for?
Paul Ryan understands that progressivism is a fundamental threat to the American system based on bottom-up individual freedom and opportunity. He understands that economic growth comes from start-up entrepreneurs who struggle for success — who did, in fact, “build that.”
He understands the threat of the entitlement state, how it will bankrupt the country and lock future generations into a system that taxes more and more, but returns less and less. He understands economic opportunity and the need for a tax system that is low, flat, fair and honest.
He even understands sound money, and how the Federal Reserve is destroying our currency, and the economic consequences of its destruction.
Paul Ryan is one of us.
As expected, the attacks on Paul Ryan’s budget proposals are well under way. Specifically, President Obama’s campaign is attacking Ryan’s Medicare reform plan, which was a plan pieced together with Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon.
The proposal would offer a competing plan different than the current “fee-for-service” model, by giving new enrollees — those younger than 55-years-old — the option of a voluntary voucher program to purchase health insurance. Nothing would change for seniors already in the system.
But President Obama is already demagoguing the issue, claiming that the Ryan-Wyden plan would have hurt Medicare, which is our most costly long-term entitlement, and refuses to acknowledge that his own health care law cuts more than $700 billion from the government-run health insurance program for seniors.
During an interview with Wolf Blitzer yesterday, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) tried to tear down Ryan, who was picked by Mitt Romney as his running mate, claiming that the plan is “extreme” and would hurt seniors. Blitzer came back at Wasserman Schultz’s talking points about Ryan’s proposal, noting that anyone over 55 would not be affected in any way and that the traditional “fee-for-service” option would still be available for those who want it.
Here’s the video:
Last year, House and Senate Republicans pushed a deficit reduction proposal, dubbed “Cut, Cap, and Balance,” which would have cut mandatory and discretionary spending, capped federal spending at 18% of GDP, and required passage of the Balanced Budget Amendment. The plan, which had the backing of several prominent groups in the conservative movement, passed in the House; but unfortunately, it failed in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Undeterred by the expected setback, several conservative members in both chambers have continued to push the idea. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), a Tea Party favorite, announced on Wednesday that he is reintroducing an updated version of “Cut, Cap, and Balance”:
“The country is on an unsustainable fiscal path,” said Lee, a member of the Joint Economic Committee and author of the consensus Republican Balanced Budget Amendment. “Cut, Cap, Balance is the only plan with significant support in the House and Senate that will address our debt and deficits, control spending, and fundamentally change the way Washington does business.”
The legislation cuts $62 billion from discretionary spending in 2013, places caps on future spending over the next decade, and creates a glide path to balancing the budget by 2020. It also effectively “turns off” the sequester – the massive spending cuts to domestic and defense programs due to trigger at the end of the year – by amending the Budget Control Act and offsetting the cost of the sequester with other cuts.
Yesterday, I was grabbing a cup of coffee while browsing through Twitter when I saw a headline that literally made me spit my drink out of my mouth. President Barack Obama will apparently attempt to paint Mitt Romney, who has mathematically secured enough delegates to win the GOP nomination, as a libertarian (note Obama doesn’t actually use that term to describe Romney, but the beliefs describe are libertarian in nature):
President Barack Obama is previewing his next strategy in the 2012 campaign — an audacious effort to paint former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the majority GOP as radical libertarians that have abandoned mainstream American politics.
Since 2000, “we [Democrats] haven’t moved that much. … What’s changed is the Republican Party,” Obama told a group of wealthy donors gathered Monday night at a New York town-house owned by Marc Lasry. Lasry is a billionaire equity-capitalist who runs a $20 billion fund that buys up the shaky assets of failing companies.
Republicans “have gone from a preference for market-based solutions to an absolutism … [to] a belief that all regulations are bad; that government has no role to play,” said Obama, who has presided over record unemployment of at least 8.1 percent, record deficits of more than $1 trillion per year, and a record $5 trillion increase in the national debt.
The president’s divisive strategy is designed to persuade swing-voters that the former governor of Massachusetts is a radical libertarian, even though Obama has repeatedly said his health-sector law is modeled on Romney’s Massachusetts law.
While many are preoccupied with the presidential race and memes from both sides of the political aisle that have been inserted into national news, the United States’ main entitlement programs — Medicare and Social Security — are falling further into fiscal insolvency, according to reports released by their respective trustees.
James Antle, writing over at The American Spectator, has the story:
In case you missed this bit of [Monday’s] bad news, let me recap: Social Security and Medicare are running combined long-term deficits of $63.3 trillion according to reports released by the retirement programs’ trustees. The Medicare trust fund will be running on empty as of 2024 and Social Security’s fund will be exhausted by 2033, but the reality is much worse: both trust funds may as well be filled with kitty litter.
To cash in the IOUs the feds have stuffed in the two biggest entitlements’ trust funds to maintain the accounting fiction that they are insurance programs rather than intergenerational transfer payments, taxes will have to be raised or other government spending cut unless reforms are passed soon. Both programs for the elderly are already paying out more in benefits than they are collecting in payroll tax revenue.
“In 2011, Social Security’s cost continued to exceed both the program’s tax income and its non-interest income, a trend that the Trustees project to continue throughout the short-range period and beyond,” Social Security’s trustees explained. Although the payroll tax holiday was a factor, the program would have still run deficits without it.
Whether or you agree with them or not, Republicans in both chambers of Congress have put forward bold and innovative budgets that look for ways to bring the nation back on a path to sustainability.
While Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Pat Toomney (R-PA) have offered their own separate proposals, the budget put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), which has already passed the House, is the vehicle that most Republicans are choosing to reform spending, entitlements, and taxes. What are Senate Democrats pushing? Well, nothing:
April 29 will mark three years since Senate Democrats passed a budget. This dereliction of duty flagrantly violates the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act.
“On or before April 15 of each year, the Congress shall complete action on a concurrent resolution on the budget for the fiscal year,” this statute states. Senate Democrats could not care less about this federal law.
This is a milestone in human sloth. While it has taken Majority “Leader” Harry Reid of Nevada and Senate Democrats 36 months to conceive zero budgets, House Republicans have delivered two - one for each year they governed.
Nonetheless, Mr. Reid said on Feb. 3: “We do not need to bring a budget to the floor this year. It’s done. We don’t need to do it.”
“This is the wrong time to vote on the floor,” Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, declared Tuesday. “I don’t think we will be prepared to vote before the election.”