George W. Bush

No, Saxby Chambliss is not a fiscal conservative


In a significant win for grassroots fiscal conservatives, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) announced on Friday that he would not seek re-election in 2014. It didn’t take long for many establishment Republicans begin railing about the loss of another potential compromiser in the Senate.

Over at Slate, Dave Weigel, who runs a great blog that is a must-read, tried to point out that Chambliss isn’t the moderate that many on the right have made him out to be:

[W]hat non-conservative votes did Chambliss ever cast? Bush tax cuts? He was an aye. Iraq War? Aye. DOMA? Aye. Gay marriage constitutional amendment? Aye. Ryan budget, which was never going to pass in the Senate? Aye. Partial birth abortion ban? Aye. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal? Nay. Assault weapons ban? Nay. And so on.

All Chambliss did, to irritate conservatvies, was 1) providing a vote for a compromise, when said compromise would pass without him, and 2) talking to Democrats about maybe passing a deficit deal that might have raised taxes. He didn’t stick a dagger in Robert Bork, as Arlen Specter did; he didn’t work out a bipartisan health care bill that was mined for Obamacare, as Bob Bennett did. The role of “unacceptable compromiser” is being defined downward.

It’s true that Chambliss has carried the traditional conservative line on social issues and the Second Amendment, points that Weigel specifically makes. There is no argument to the contrary. Being from Georgia, I can tell you that there is much more to the dissatisfaction with Chambliss than his willingness to compromise, though that certainly is a significant factor.

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.

No, Congress isn’t going to repeal the 22nd Amendment

Jose Serrano

While laying in bed on Sunday evening trying to recover from the world’s worst cold, I got an e-mail from a family member with a link to a story with the headline — “Abolish Presidential Term Limits Bill Introduced.” The family member remarked, “Well, here you go!  If this is true, the first move has been made toward Obama’s third term.”

This story has been out on Facebook and Twitter over the last couple of days and, frankly, the reaction is a bit absurd. H.J.Res. 15, introduced by Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), would indeed repeal the 22nd Amendment, which was ratified in 1951.

The 22nd Amendment states:

Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

Section 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.

Ben Swann chats with Paul Ryan about his big government conservatism

Paul Ryan

Despite not being their ideal candidate, Republicans became excited once Mitt Romney named Paul Ryan as his running mate. Ryan’s two budgets — the “Roadmap for America’s Future” and the “Path to Prosperity” — became rallying points for conservative activists and many in the Tea Party movement. It should be noted that FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth supported other alternatives because they didn’t feel that Ryan’s proposals didn’t balance the budget quickly enough.

While he has been able to cast himself as a budget cutter and small government advocate, Ryan’s voting record tells a different story. Back in May, I noted some of Ryan’s big government leanings, including his votes for Medicare Part D, TARP, and the auto bailout.

Earlier this month, Ben Swann, a Cininnati-based report, sat down with Ryan and went over some of the votes over his career in Congress, putting the GOP vice presidential nominee on the defensive for supporting big government.

On Medicare Part D, Ryan explains that the program came under cost projections, but Swann notes that the program has added over $9 trillion in unfunded liabilities to an already broken program.

Swann also shows video of the debate on TARP, where Ryan explains, “[T]his bill offends my principles, but I’m gonna vote for this bill in order to preserve my principles.” That’s no different than what George W. Bush said after TARP was passed, that he “abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.”

Welfare spending rises significantly under Obama

Barack Obama

It goes without saying that George W. Bush was a big spender. In fact, he was the biggest spending president since Lyndon B. Johnson, who implemented the so-called “Great Society,” creating new entitlements — Medicare and Medicaid. Some Republicans argue that Bush’s spending spree was mostly for defense after 9/11, but doesn’t tell the whole story.

Bush increased spending on a variety of non-defense programs, raising non-defense discretionary spending by 5.4% during his eight years in office. In a study on welfare spending published earlier this year by the Cato Institute, Michael Tanner noted, “Federal welfare spending increased significantly under the Bush administration.” Democrats, playing the part of budget hawks, were complaining about budget deficits and the national debt. Barack Obama, then a senator from Illinois, said that Bush’s spending binge was “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.”

But while the the fiscal irresponsibility of Bush was outrageous, as Tanner explained, President Obama “has thrown money at anti-poverty programs at an unprecedented rate.” How quickly has welfare spending grown? According to a new report from the Congressional Research Service, welfare spending under President Obama has grown by 33%, a truly astounding number:

Americans skeptical of government promiting “traditional values”

Traditional Values

Politicians on both side of the aisle like to use government to coerce people into living moral lives, often aligning with some view of “traditional values.” President George W. Bush was guilty of this. More recently, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have carried that message forward in the Republican Party. But a new poll from CNN shows that Americans are increasingly skeptical of using government to promote these so-called “traditional values”:

The biggest: The number of Americans who say that the government should promote traditional values has fallen to an all-time low, a finding that might benefit many Democrats,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

According to the survey, just four in 10 registered voters believe the government should promote traditional values, down from 53% in 2010 and 57% in 2008.

“Between 1993, when CNN began asking that question, and last year, a majority of respondents have always said that the government should promote traditional values. Now, for the first time, more than half say the government should not favor any particular set of values,” adds Holland.

More Americans are also not happy with the government intervention in their daily lives. According to the CNN poll, “Six in 10 say the government is doing too much that should be left to individuals and businesses. That finding could favor Republicans.”

Democrats no longer fighting for civil liberties

Democratic Party Platform Civil Liberties

There has been an image going around on new media sites recently noting that the language supporting civil liberties in the 2008 Democratic Party platform — including specific lines calling for revisiting the PATRIOT Act, reining in executive power, and the surveillance state — is now missing from the current platform. Christina Lopes and Tom Knighton have already noted civil liberties have fallen to the side, and the frustration from advocates of the issue toward President Barack Obama.

In yesterday’s Cato Daily Podcast, Caleb Brown chatted with Julian Sanchez about the omission of civil liberties from the Democratic Party’s platform, President Obama’s record on the issue, and the silence from many of those who previous called for curtailing government overreach on civil liberties:

National debt crosses $16 trillion threshold

National Debt Clock

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.”

The GOP is Actively Moving to the Left

Earlier this month, I said that one of the reasons you may want to vote for Mitt Romney is if you think the GOP is too conservative. My premise in that statement is that the party will move the direction of its leading politicians until they are rejected. Based on some new data, we see that already taking place, without Romney even being elected.

The data is part of a poll that compares responses of registered voters in April and then again four months later in August. The telling data is with voters who consider themselves “conservative” or “very conservative.” Here is the chart used on that WP article I linked to above:

Notice the blue sections in the image. In April, roughly one-fourth of conservative and very conservative voters said Romney was too liberal. In August, those numbers decreased, and there was an increase in the number of voters who say Romney’s views are “about right.”

Of course, this doesn’t hit specific issues. It’s a question about a candidate. If respondents were asked specifically about issues, we probably wouldn’t see such a quick change. Two important things that would impact this data have happened since April:

1. Romney is the last man standing.

Where Has The Anti-War Movement Gone?

The anti-war movement has all but disappeared. You would think that with both major party conventions coming up, they would take the opportunity to demonstrate, especially with the media being concentrated at the conventions. However, there are no plans to demonstrate and in fact you don’t hear a whole lot about the war in Afghanistan anymore. Short of putting Cindy Sheehan’s face on a milk carton, we really need to find where the anti-war movement has gone because 2,000 American soldiers have now died in Afghanistan. If war was bad when George W. Bush was president, why isn’t it bad now that Barack Obama is in the Oval Office?

Not only has Obama expanded the war in Afghanistan and kept Bush’s Iraq withdrawal timeline; he even started a new war in Libya. Plus, the Obama administration appears to heading down the road to war with both Syria and Iran. Obviously, the wars have not stopped. American soldiers have not stopped dying overseas and drone strikes certainly haven’t stopped all over the world. Why has the press and so-called anti-war activists ignored the ongoing wars?

The only unfortunate conclusion to make is that the anti-war movement were either at best pawns of the Democratic Party or they really don’t have a problem with war in general, but only with wars launched by Republican presidents. This isn’t just a phenomenon confined to the left, because the right only generally believe in limited government when a Democrat is president. All this means is that when a Republican is elected president and decides to go to war, it will be easy to dismiss war opponents as partisan hacks. It will be just a way to silence debate and opposition by the War Party.

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