“Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
Each day we see proofs of the wisdom of the Founding Fathers in the creation of a federalist form of government which gave superior authority to a central government within a very limited sphere, and left all other functions to the states, or the people. Far from being the limited government which our Founders envisioned, the federal government today is a monstrous leviathan which is equal parts incompetence and avarice. This is what happens when government attains more power. Government is the only entity legally able to use force to achieve its goals. Government is a monopoly, and therefore does not have to be efficient or innovative on order to retain its “customers.” It is essentially immune from the disastrous consequences of its decisions and actions. It can compel continued allegiance and higher payments.
A timely example of the results of government expansionism is in the continued stagnancy of our economy. In the last days of the Bush presidency, and expanded throughout the Obama presidency, the federal government took steps which would supposedly save the economy from a financial collapse (which itself was the result of government interference in the market). With the passage of the “stimulus” bill, unemployment was not supposed to reach 8% according to the Obama administration, yet it did that and more. Unemployment spiked above 10% AFTER the near-trillion dollar stimulus was passed, and stayed at or above 9% for almost three years, before dropping to above 8%, a point we were not supposed to have reached at all.
In politics and in business, a consistent message is usually seen as a sign of strength. With the slow trickle of a consistent message, your brand is defined almost imperceptibly by the consumer until your message and brand are linked subconsciously.
When is this a bad idea? When there is inconsistency between your actual product and the “message” you are consistently promoting. You might get away with it for a while, but in time it creates cognitive dissonance in the consumer - they just know something isn’t right.
Case in point — the Obama administration and the jobs reports. Have those monthly talking points become a little, uh, stale? Sounding familiar? Were you expecting hope and change? Below are excerpts from jobs reports from November 2009 to present:
June 2012: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/07/06/employment-situation-june)
May 2012: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is helpful to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/06/01/employment-situation-may)
On Friday, President Barack Obama hosted a press conference at the White House to discuss the economy. It wasn’t his finest moment. In his remarks, Obama told the media that all is well in the private-sector, rather it is the public-sector that is holding the economy back. Here’s the relevant quote:
The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government. Often times cuts initiated by, you know, Governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.
It’s hard to convince many people, particularly those that will be voting in the fall, that the private-sector economy is “doing fine.” People see the news reports about tepid job creation, still high unemployment numbers, and incredibly large budget deficit. They’re no doubt wondering what planet Obama has been living on over the last three-plus years.
The press conference really could be taken as an in-kind contribution to Mitt Romney and the Republican Party. They’ve pounced on the opportunity to slam the gaffe-tastic remarks. Playing right into their hands, Obama later issued a statement emphasizing that the economy is, in fact, not doing all that well:
There have been a lot of silly “scandals” during this election season, which is a usual and normal waste byproduct of the American election process, though this year has been notably intense. Unfortunately, between the “scandals” of Obama having eaten dog while a child in Indonesia, criticism over a flubbed line in Poland, guffaws about him using the word “thingamajig” in a speech, and the resurgent “Birther” nonesense, conservatives and libertarians are losing sight of the real problems with the Obama administration. As I see it, there are two that need to be focused on relentlessly:
- The absolutely dismal economic situation, exacerbated by this president’s misguided and foolhardy policies
- The utterly atrocious record on civil liberties that President Obama has engendered, a holdover from the Bush administration (so much for “Change”)
Everything else can pretty much be secondary to this or just treated as nonsense. These are the real core problems with the Obama administration, and they are all that conservatives need to hammer him with. Forget the memes, forget the social conservatism, just focus on two things: jobs and civil liberties (which does, in case you’re wondering, tie into foreign policy. A bit.)
The economic problem is fairly straightforward: this is the worst recession since World War II, bar none. From the Calculated Risk blog, this chart shows you how badly:
President Barack Obama and Democrat have time and time again repeated the talking point that the $831 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed in early 2009, helped save the economy, which was suffering the effects of a severe recession, and helped create jobs.
However, a new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) via James Pethokoukis shows that the stimulus bill was largely wasteful considering its affects on unemployment, with a high cost for what jobs were created:
When [the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] was being considered, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that it would increase budget deficits by $787 billion between fiscal years 2009 and 2019. CBO now estimates that the total impact over the 2009–2019 period will amount to about $831 billion.
By CBO’s estimate, close to half of that impact occurred in fiscal year 2010, and more than 90 percent of ARRA’s budgetary impact was realized by the end of March 2012. CBO has estimated the law’s impact on employment and economic output using evidence about the effects of previous similar policies and drawing on various mathematical models that represent the workings of the economy. …
On that basis CBO estimates that ARRA’s policies had the following effects in the first quarter of calendar year 2012 compared with what would have occurred otherwise:
– They raised real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 0.1 percent and 1.0 percent,
– They lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.1 percentage points and 0.8 percentage points,
A few months ago, conservatives sought to gain politically by going after the contraceptive mandate implemented by the Department of Health and Human Services. This immediately became an issue of religious liberty for conservatives because it would have required religious institutions to cover contraceptives even if it was against their teachings.
Thanks to some rather nutty comments by Rick Santorum, who openly questioned the use of contraceptives, Democrats were able to spin the issue into a so-called “war on women.” The situation was exacerbated thanks to comments by Rush Limbaugh aimed at Sandra Fluke, who had argued that taxpayers should fund contraceptives. Even though Fluke’s reasoning was flawed, taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize her contraceptives, Limbaugh’s comments were completely unnecessary and wrong.
The strategy was successful in the short-term, as wedge issues usually are. However, it eventually backfired on them when Hilary Rosen, a Democratic operative, said that Ann Romney, wife of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, had never worked a day in her life.
Romney took to Twitter to defend herself, setting off a firestorm that caused Rosen to later apologize. The argument from conservatives is that Democrats are waging a “war on stay-at-moms,” largely silencing Democrats on the issue and swinging momentum back to Republicans — at least temporarily.
As you know, the Obama Administration recently rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, a head-scratcher given that gas is expected to rise upwards of $4 a gallon in the coming months. It’s also odd given the dire need for jobs, and the pipeline would have certainly aided those efforts.
Oddly, however, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said yesterday that his boss, President Barack Obama, wasn’t to blame for the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. According to the White House, congressional Republicans are to blame:
I like to think that while I am a very well informed person when it comes to US political news, I generally remain somewhat detached regarding what the latest artificially created crisis du jour facing the nation is. I find that regardless of what dire consequence both sides try to convince us will happen if the other side gets their way, life goes on, business as usual for the rest of us, and inevitably some compromise is reached which allows both sides to claim victory. It is a cycle I’ve seen play out so many times in my relatively short time on Earth that I find it quite comical. However, I do find my blood pressure rise ever so slightly when contemplating the mismanagement and lack of leadership in energy policy in this country. The recent Keystone XL Pipeline debacle is a perfect example of how DC politicians chose to put political posturing ahead of US energy security, national security and true environmental policy.
As Congress debates the extension of the payroll tax cut, a measure that the White House said would stimulate the economy and create jobs, I offered my own thoughts on alternatives that would encourage economic growth and protect Social Security.
Topping the list of unfinished business this year is the impending collision of two closely related crises: the expiration of the payroll tax cut and the acceleration of Social Security’s bankruptcy.
Last year, Congress voted for a payroll tax cut that averages roughly $1,000 for every working family in America.
As warned, it failed to stimulate economic growth and it accelerated the collapse of the Social Security system. But as promised, it threw every working family a vital lifeline in tough economic times.
We need to meet three conflicting objectives: we need to continue the payroll tax cut; we need to stimulate real economic growth and we need to avoid doing further damage to the Social Security system.
But first, we need to understand that not all tax cuts stimulate lasting economic growth. Cutting marginal tax rates does so because this changes the incentives that individuals respond to. Cutting infra-marginal tax rates - such as the payroll tax - does not.
Rick Perry has found himself at the bottom of the second tier after what seemed like a cake walk to the presidency. But the Rick Perry bankroll has pundits on the ready for the next move upward. On Monday, Perry tickled the media with a preview of his 20/20 Flat tax. His overall plan which is named “Cut, Balance and Grow” seems much less catchy, especially if he has his eye on a primetime ABC host slot.
If one were going to summarize the plan, they might suggest that Perry believes in “caps”. His 20% flat tax is optional, so essentially everyone paying more than 20% currently can move to 20% while everyone paying less can still pay their current rate. It also moves the corporate rate to 20%, kills the death tax, and removes taxes from qualified dividends and capital gains. The plan also includes capping spending at 18%. I believe talking about caps on spending as a percentage of GDP are a mistake for the simple fact that if you do this, what are the odds that congress will ever spend less than this amount? Then again, after what we’ve seen in the last three years, it doesn’t sound half bad.
James Pethokoukis breaks down Perry’s plan over at The American:
—A choice between a new, flat tax rate of 20 percent or their current income tax rate.
—The new flat tax preserves mortgage interest, charitable and state and local tax exemptions for families earning less than $500,000 annually, and it increases the standard deduction to $12,500 for individuals and dependents.
—Abolishes the death tax once and for all, providing needed certainty to American family farms and small businesses.
—Lowers the corporate tax rate to 20 percent—along with a tax holiday for foreign earnings—and moves toward territorial taxation.