fiscal issues

A Federated Approach Toward a Federated Approach

a fellow contributor here at United Liberty, wrote an interesting piece yesterday about the wisdom of not passing an all-encompassing federal budget, even in light of the chaos currently surrounding the shutdown over what gets passed as a continuing resolution and what, in the case of Obamacare, gets funded at all.

Some have argued that mandating the passage of a federal budget — and by “mandate” I mean actually tied to consequences for not doing so — is one way to prevent future shutdowns. But as DesOrmeaux argues, this may not be the most effective way to skin — or herd — a cat:

Many say we have to be responsible and pass a real budget. But the truth is the concept of a single federal budget is actually pretty new. While the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 created the first federal budget process, it wasn’t until the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 that the current version of mandatory budget proposals and resolutions was adopted. For the 150-200 years before that, all federal funding was appropriated with specific bills for programs or departments.

Paul Ryan: “We would have fixed this fiscal mess by now” under Clinton

During an interview on Sunday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) suggested that if Bill Clinton were president that the fiscal issues facing the United States could be worked out.

Ryan, who has served in Congress since 1999 and was the GOP’s vice presidential nominee in 2012, told David Gregory on Meet the Press that “if we had a Clinton presidency, if we had Erskine Bowles chief-of-staff at the White House, or President of the United States, I think we would have fixed this fiscal mess by now.” Ryan added, “That’s not the kind of presidency we’re dealing with right now.”

Noel Sheppard, who covered the story at Newsbusters, snarked, “one wonders if Ryan meant a Bill Clinton presidency or a Hillary Clinton presidency.” That aside, Ryan has a point that’s worth expounding upon.

Despite friction between then-President Clinton during the 1990s, Republicans in Congress were able to pass a balanced budget and enact welfare reform and pass capital gains tax cuts. While not all was perfect during these years as Republicans began their slide toward big government, a Democratic president and Republican-controlled legislature were able to reach a compromises that led to a largely prosperous era.

Weighing the Paul Ryan Announcement

Paul Ryan

This weekend Mitt Romney announced that his running mate would be Congressman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin. Ryan gained a lot of notoriety recently with his better-than-Obama’s budget proposal, which aimed to balance the budget in the next 3 or 4 decades.

It’s a sad day for conservatives when the hero to save them from their budget woes needs 30+ years to balance the budget.

Still, Ryan is the latest non-libertarian making waves about balancing the federal budget, so I would like to believe that Romney’s pick of Ryan is more about sending a message that he is (or that he wants to be) serious about fiscal issues rather than a pick to appease the Tea Party folks who don’t really care for Romney.

I am, however, a bit confused over the Tea Party excitement of Ryan. Sure, Romney could have made a worse choice, but Tea Party leaders are acting like the problems with Romney have vanished now that Ryan is on the ticket.

Let’s remember this is the same Paul Ryan who not only supported TARP but went to the floor of the House to beg his colleagues to do the same. This is the same Paul Ryan who supported the auto bailouts. How do those positions qualify anyone as a fiscal conservative?

Heritage: U.S. drops out of top 10 in economic freedom

The United States has dropped is no longer in the 10 top freest economies in the world, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, a joint annual study from the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal that offers a look at the economies of 178 countries.

Economic freedom in the United States has declined each year since President Barack Obama took office, from 6th in 2009 to 12th in 2014. The researchers explained that new financial and healthcare regulations have “contributed significantly to the erosion of U.S. economic freedom.”

“Over the 20-year history of the Index, the U.S.’s economic freedom has fluctuated significantly. During the first 10 years, its score rose gradually, and it joined the ranks of the economically ‘free’ in 2006,” note the researchers. “Since then, it has suffered a dramatic decline of almost 6 points, with particularly large losses in property rights, freedom from corruption, and control of government spending.”

“The U.S. is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic freedom each of the past seven years,” they added.

Hong Kong has the freest economy in the world, thanks to its fiscal freedom as well as its strong commitment to private property rights, open markets, and free trade. Researchers note that the Chinese protectorate also has a “highly motivated workforce and a high level of labor freedom,” which, they explain, “have added to Hong Kong’s economic dynamism and resilience.”

Big government Peter King says he’s “running for president”

Peter King

Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who is among the biggest war hawks in Washington, recently told a New Hampshire radio station that he’s running for president, becoming the first Republican to announce for 2016:

In a radio interview this week, the Republican lawmaker told a New Hampshire station that he was in the state “because right now I’m running for president,” according to The New York Daily News.

The visit was King’s second of four trips to the traditional home of the nation’s first presidential primary.

The announcement makes King the first Republican to officially declare their intentions to run for president in 2016.
King is serving his 11th term in the house. Over the years he has been a vocal member of his party at times, especially on foreign policy issues.

King has been very critical of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and others in the Republican Party who have expressed a cautious approach to foreign policy, frequently labeling them as ”isolationists,” which is intended to be a pejorative; though the word has lost its meaning because it has become so overused.

Chatting with Jonathan Bydlak, President of the Coalition to Reduce Spending

Jonathan Bydlak

“The sequester is quite possibly the greatest thing to have happened to the fiscal conservative cause, at least in quite some time as far as I can remember.” — Jonathan Bydlak

It’s that time of year when spending battles come to the forefront of political discussion in Washington. Various congressional committees are currently debating appropriations measures that will divvy up taxpayer dollars to fund the federal government and a litany of government programs.

Most free market groups place heavy emphasis on taxes and regulatory concerns. But the Coalition to Reduce Spending, as their name suggests, seeks to focus its efforts on spending and budget deficits.

United Liberty recently talked with Jonathan Bydlak, president of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, about his organization’s very specific focus on the river of red ink that has been flowing from Washington.

“When you think about which groups in DC tend to be the most effective, it usually, in my experience, are those that have a very focused mission and execute on that mission very effectively,” Bydlak told United Liberty. “So there’s a reason why people pay attention to the NRA or the ACLU — because their mission is very focused and they build an interest group and they are very successful at accomplishing that mission. Nobody’s really done that for the issue of spending.”

Mike Lee: Young voters should focus on the national debt

As we head into the mid-term election, Republicans are still trying to figure out how to bring them back into the fold. During a recent tele-townhall, Sen Mike Lee (R-UT) was asked how he plans to reach out to young voters and others who don’t typically vote for Republican candidates.

There was once a time when Republicans did well with young voters. Just after the 2012 presidential election, in which President Barack Obama won 60% of voters under the age of  29, Jason Riley noted at the Wall Street Journal that both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush actually won the youth vote. Riley also pointed out that “George W. Bush lost young voters to John Kerry by only 9 points and lost them to Al Gore in 2000 by less than that.”

“It’s important to remember that young voters will bear a disproportionate share, a disproportionate part of the burden associated with our $17 trillion debt,” Lee replied. “It’s a tragic thing…that these days most of the debt that we have in our federal government has been accumulated before a lot of today’s young voters were old enough to vote and, to a significant degree, a lot of that debt was acquired before they were even born.”

“That isn’t fair. It ends up creating a really pernicious form of taxation without representation,” he continued. “You’re gonna have to pay something to the government that you didn’t ever vote for, and that’s a big problem.”

Sarah Palin: Republicans should listen to libertarians

One of the more interesting discussions in currently raging in American politics is the debate over conservative-libertarian fusionism. It’s not exactly a new discussion, but rather one that has renewed interest among followers of both political ideologies.

As libertarian-leaning Republicans — including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) — gain influence in the party and appeal among independent voters, there is an increasing push for conservatives and libertarians to work together on areas of agreement. There has been resistance, of course, from some on both sides. Some prominent Republicans are resistant to some libertarian ideas that conservatives seem to be coming around on, such as restrained foreign policy and privacy issues.

While not a venue for libertarian thought, Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, told attendees at the Faith and Freedom Conference that Republicans should listen to libertarians:

“Something more is going on than your garden-variety government corruption, or even illegality,” Palin said. “As the left would say, this is shaping up to be a teachable moment. What’s going on says something fundamental about our relationship to our government.”

Biden v. Ryan: Campaign’s only vice presidential debate is tonight

Paul Ryan

It’s almost game time, folks. Vice President Joe Biden will square off tonight in Danville, Kentucky against Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) in the only vice presidential debate of the campaign.

Given Biden’s propencity for gaffes, Republicans are hoping that Ryan will shine. However, Biden has been locked away for four days doing debate prep and Democrats have telegraphed his role, which will be to relentlessly attack the Republican ticket.

While the pressure is on him to help rebound from a poor debate performance by President Obama a week earlier, the strategy employed by Biden could do more harm than good if he doesn’t rattle Ryan as the former’s favorability numbers leave much to be desired:

[A] new poll finds that Vice President Joe Biden is viewed more unfavorably than his GOP rival, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

The survey from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that 51% of registered voters see Mr. Biden unfavorably,  compared with 39% who gave him positive reviews. Independent voters largely agreed, with 52% seeing Mr. Biden negatively.

Voters were more evenly divided about Mr. Ryan, who is viewed favorably by 44% and unfavorably by 44%

Rubio: Bush “did a fantasic job” as president

If you listen to Sean Hannity and others in the conservative movement, it’s clear that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is their pick to serve as Mitt Romney’s running mate this fall. They say that he offers a contrast to Romney that will bring a needed balance and excitement to the ticket to help motivate Republicans to go to the polls this fall.

It may be true that Rubio is much more conservative than Romney, but there should be some hesitation on the part of conservatives due to recent comments by Rubio where he said that George W. Bush “did a fantastic job” as president.

I’m not naive enough to believe that Bush isn’t a hero to conservatives for various reasons, let alone that Barack Obama, who frequently blames his predecessor for many of his own failures, makes that easy to do. But from a fiscal perspective, Bush’s presidency was a disaster, and that isn’t limited to the 2008 financial crisis. While some would defend Bush’s big spending as a necessity due to the so-called “war on terror,” Veronique de Rugy noted in her analysis on spending under Bush, domestic spending alone went up by more than 20% in his first term. He expanded Medicare, adding more in unfunded liabilities to the already unsustainable government-run health insurance program.

Conor Friedersdorf also explains some of the problems with the statement made by Rubio in context of, not just fiscal issues, but also foreign policy:

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