Earlier this week, as the Democratic National Convention was getting underway, the U.S. national debt hit $16 trillion. Politicians – particularly the Republicans – went crazy online posting on social networks about how we should resist the Democrats and their desire to run the debt up even higher.
As if Republicans in Washington are much different.
The irony, of course, is that so many of the Republicans screaming about the debt are big contributors to (and causes of) it. But while we should definitely be concerned about debt, focusing primarily on it as our problem opens the door for raising taxes. Our national debt isn’t our primary problem; it’s just a symptom of a much, much bigger problem: spending.
If we control spending, we control debt. For far too long, spending has been out of control, and the result is an out of control debt.
We have an annual deficit (because of excessive spending), and the fight in Washington is over a fraction of that deficit. Republicans push for huge deficits, but their huge deficits are slightly smaller than what the Democrats want.
Dan Mitchell recently asked the question, “Does the $16 trillion debt really matter?” That’s a great article from Dan, well worth your time for a thorough read. In short, yes, it does. But focusing on the debt as the disease isn’t the answer.
Over the last couple of years, libertarians have complained about the emphasis conservatives, particularly the Rick Santorums and Mike Huckabees their movement, have placed on social issues. We’ve noted that conservatives should focus their message on issues where they can attract agreement — such as repealing ObamaCare, lessening regulation on businesses, cutting spending, and reducing taxes.
While I support same-sex marriage and have grown increasingly pro-choice within reason, the Republican National Convention was a largely a breath of fresh air from this perspective . That’s not to say that I agree with everything said on the budget, economy or foreign policy, but the discussion of social issues was relatively mild with Republicans choosing instead to place a heavy focus on the economic record of President Barack Obama.
But watching the Democratic National Convention off-and-on for a couple of days, one can’t help but notice the heavy emphasis on social issues. There is certainly a discussion and defense of President Obama’s economic record, but abortion, same-sex marriage, and labor unions been featured heavily.
Of course, this is really isn’t surprising. Democrats have tried to change the narrative at several points since the beginning of the year; usually by complaining that there is some supposed “war” being waged against a segment of the American public.
Now that new numbers have been released by the Congressional Budget Office, it’s time once again for me to show how easy it is to balance the budget with modest spending restraint (though please remember our goal should be smaller government, not fiscal balance).
Jorge Gonzalez is a motion designer and political activist living and working in Midtown Atlanta. In his free time, he enjoys filming, photography, and reading.
I recently had a discussion with a close friend of mine who is a very “progressive” guy. He’s the type that buys into all the horror stories about Republicans and libertarians. You know, we don’t care about the poor or women’s rights or worker’s rights and we’re cruel, intolerant etc etc. He started off the conversation by claiming “Romney panders to stupid people. Obama does not…Obama doesn’t bend his beliefs to fit an uneducated and sensationalistic base.” If you didn’t fall out of your chair just now at the sheer stupidity and myopia of a statement like that, then I ask you to read on, dear Reader, because what follows may be of interest to you.
Speculation over Mitt Romney’s possible running mate has been rampant over the last few days. While other names are being floated, including David Petraeus and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, most observers seem to agree that it’s likely down to three candidates — Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.
Out of the three, Rep. Ryan is garnering the most attention. Many conservatives seem to want him included on the ticket, and they’re laying out a strong case. David Harsanyi, for example, explains that Rep. Ryan “would add a measure of number-crunching earnestness to a campaign (and then, more importantly, should it happen, to an administration) that lives on broad strokes.” However, some want him to remain in remain in the House, where, as chairman of the Budget Committee, he has laid the blueprint to fiscal reform. My colleagues Jeremy Kolassa and George Scoville have already touched on the need for Rep. Ryan to remain in the House for exactly this reason. Over at Outside the Beltway, Doug Mataconis noted that, as Vice President, Ryan would be largely marginalized.
Written by Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
According to the Associated Press, Mitt Romney supports postponing the sequestration cuts scheduled for January 2, 2013 by at least one year:
The Republican presidential contender said Friday during a campaign trip to Las Vegas that the cuts would be “terrible,” particularly for the military.
Congress approved the cuts as part of a deal to reduce the deficit. They were designed to help lawmakers come up with a better plan. But that didn’t happen — so the cuts are scheduled to go into effect next year.
Romney says he wants President Barack Obama and lawmakers to work together to put, in his words, “a year’s runway,” in place to give the next president time to reform the tax system and ensure the military’s needs are met.
In other words, Romney’s position on sequestration is no different than the rest of the spendthrifts in Washington.
Utah Senator Mike Lee has been speaking out against proposed tax increases. He makes some great points in this article on the Daily Caller last week.
Lee points out first that it’s a partisan issue. It seems like everything these days in Washington is strictly partisan. The bickering between parties gets old (especially when both parties are saying the same thing), but I don’t think this is typical Republican finger pointing. Lee is one of a select few senators who isn’t utterly useless; he is the type of senator who would call out his Republican colleagues if this weren’t specifically an issue of Democrats being ridiculous.
Despite his would-be willingness for exposing hypocrisy within his party, Lee does make a few points the Republicans would like you to remember as we head toward November.
For example, the pushing of tax increases to push class warfare, or, in Lee’s words, “dividing Americans by income and pitting them against one another.” Lee even goes as far to say that these calls for higher taxes are out of desperation because “the electorate realizes Democrats are out of ideas.”
He also says that the responsibility for fixing budget woes lies with the Congress, not with the American people, and that the proposed tax increases will stifle job growth. He’s right on all accounts, but this is all buzzword stuff that every Republican regurgitating through November.
Lee is one of the strongest members of the Senate on fiscal issues, and though he included the big buzzwords, he was exactly right when he said, “The proposal does not solve the problem of out-of-control deficits and debt.”
Debt and deficits. There’s the real problem.
We’ve recently noted that House Republicans have largely been a disappointment when it comes to cutting spending. Since taking control of the chamber in January 2011, the national debt has increased by over $1.59 trillion and reasonable amendments to bills that would cut spending have been shot down with many Republicans opting not to keep the promise they made to voters in the fall campaign. There is also talk of bringing back earmarks, an untransparent process that is often corrupt.
So why are the spending cutters in the House? The Club for Growth has tracked the 25 votes on amendments that would cut spending and found the consistent budget hawks in the lower chamber (I’m only posting those that score 100%, for sake of space):
As I’ve said before, I’m no fan of hate crime legislation. Those types of laws legally raise the importance of one group of people over another, which is wrong. Additionally, they punish crimes based on perceived motivation, making the reason for a crime more important than the crime itself.
Last week the House voted on H.R. 3541, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), which criminalizes gender selection as the reason for getting an abortion. Anyone who signs a form saying the reason is something else can still have the abortion because H.R. 3541 only criminalizes the motive, not the procedure.
On top of that, it makes it a crime for doctors to not report people suspected of getting an abortion for the wrong reasons. Doctors who fail to do so could be imprisoned for a year. Pay attention to this; it’s a prison sentence for inaction.
Embracing stupid hate crime legislation is something that shouldn’t be done, but this is an election year. The Republicans are trying to make the Democrats look like they hate women. I’m no fan of the Democrats’ agenda, but come on. Are we really going to buy into the concept that a major political party in our nation hates women?
We’ve got record levels of deficit spending. We’ve got a failed monetary policy that’s weakening our currency. We’ve got wars all over the globe that we can’t afford. We’ve got coming problems in the health care industry. We’ve got so many issues that should be at the center of debate in this election year, and the GOP is wasting time trying to criminalize motive.
As expected, President Barack Obama rolled out his budget proposal for FY 2013, which, as we noted yesterday, comes with a $1.33 trillion budget deficit. As you can imagine, there is a lot to parse through it the proposal, which has been all but declared dead-on-arrival in Congress.
Some of the budget proposals are familiar. President Obama is once again pushing tax hikes on individuals earning more than $250,000 — more than the millionaires and billionaires he so frequently targets. James Pethokoukis has a run down of the tax hikes in the budget:
Obama’s new budget isn’t about economic growth or cutting debt or creating a “built to last” economy. The Obama campaign is built around the idea of reducing inequality. So in his budget, Obama takes the populist whip to the wealthy and to business:
1. The top income rate would be raised to 39.6 percent vs. 35 percent today.
2. Under the “Buffett rule,” no household making over $1 million annually would pay less than 30 percent of their income in taxes.
3. Between now the end of a second Obama term, Obama proposes $707 billion in “net deficit reduction proposals.” Of that amount, only 16 percent is spending cuts.
4. The majority of small business profits would be taxed at 39.6 percent vs. 35 percent today.
5. The capital gains rate would rise to 25.0 percent (including the Obamacare surtax and deduction phase out) from 15 percent today.
6. The double-tax on corporate profits (including dividends) would increase to 64 percent based on the statutory corporate tax rate (58 percent using the effective tax rate), easily the highest among advanced economies.