Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz recently claimed that GOP efforts to get what they want in the debt ceiling debate is akin to dictatorship in recent comments reported by Politico. I understand that tensions are high right now. The debt ceiling issue is dominating the political landscape right now and a lot of folks just want it over. I have little doubt that Wasserman Schultz is one of them. Unfortunately for her, she really needs to understand the difference between GOP efforts and dictatorship.
Her quote from Politico:
“This is not leadership. This is almost like dictatorship. I know they want to force the outcome that … their extremists would like to impose. But they are getting ready to spark panic and chaos, and they seem to be OK with that. And it’s just really disappointing, and potentially devastating.”
Please note the scare words, namely “dictatorship” and “extremists”. This is a usual tactic designed to paint your opponent as unreasonable, regardless of anything approaching a fact. Now, I’m not saying the GOP hasn’t be intransigent, because to an extent they have been. But dictatorship?
Here’s the definition of dictatorship, courtesy of dictionary.com.
The Senate voted 51-46, along strict party-lines Friday to kill the House Republicans “cut, cap and balance” legislation.
The measure would have cut spending by $111 billion in 2012, capped spending over the next decade and prohibited more borrowing until Congress passes a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
President Obama had threatened to veto the bill, which was dead on arrival in the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called the legislation “very, very bad” and said it was a waste of the upper chamber’s time.
During the debate on “cut, cap and balance,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) argued the GOP plan would solve the nation’s deficit crisis if Democrats would join Republicans in supporting it.
“This isn’t rocket science,” said McConnell. “We could solve this problem this morning if Democrats would…join us in backing this legislation that Republicans support.”
Supporters of the proposal have cited a CNN poll in recent days showing that voters support some parts of it, specifically the Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA). That’s not a surprise since BBA proposal are politically popular. However, the “Cut, Cap and Balance” proposal passed by the House only called for a BBA. It didn’t attain the 2/3 requirement to pass a constitutional amendment.
As August 2nd approaches, stipulated by Treasury Secretary and tax cheat Timothy Geithner as the date when the U.S. will reach its statutory debt limit, our illustrious president, Barack Obama, becomes more and more unhinged. From highly partisan, contemptuous and fact-challenged press conferences, to his angry and petulant exit from a meeting with Republicans on the issue, it is clear that Obama is feeling the pressure. This is compounded by the fact that the historically weak-willed Republicans seem shockingly willing to be proven vertebrates, and actually refuse to back down on principle (Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s recent suggestion to completely abdicate constitutional duty and give all power to the president notwithstanding).
From class warfare rhetoric about tax breaks for corporate jet owners (signed into law by Obama in the 2009 stimulus bill, and less than a rounding error on the federal budget) to fear mongering the elderly to think Social Security checks will not go out, nothing is beneath this integrity-challenged president in his quest for power. He tirelessly repeats his Marxist mantra of needing to get “millionaires and billionaires” to “pay their fair share” and be a part of the “shared sacrifice”, despite the fact that the top 1% of all income earners (a group starting at $380,354/year and including millions of small businesses that file taxes under personal returns…hardly millionaires and billionaires) paid 38% of total tax revenue, while the bottom 50% paid only 2.7%. The top 5% starts at $159,619 and accounts for 58.7% of taxes paid.
As the debt debate continues with no end in sight (not even Aug. 2nd) some people are getting understandably upset. They want to know who to blame, and if anything that’s come up so far will actually fix the problem. Well, I have good news and bad news.
The good news is that the Cato Institute has come out with another outstanding video on the situation. The bad news is that you have to blame everybody, and no, there isn’t really a good solution coming out yet:
Again, there will be no dismantling of unconstitutional (or just flat out bad) programs and departments, just “trimming” around the edges, which won’t be good for the long term as they’ll a piece of cake to overcome. The “Cut Cap Balance” idea is a good start, but the Democrats will never go for it, and it’s only that—a start.
So Senator Mitch McConnell has released a “solution” to the debt ceiling crisis. Jason has already jumped on this topic, but I feel the need to add my own two cents. For me, the crucial portion of this non-solution is that it gives additional power to the White House, and perpetuates a seeming tradition of Congress abdicating responsibility that we’ve seen over the past decade.
The entire deal punts the debt and spending over to the President. Essentially, he decides to raise the debt limit. While Congress can pass a “bill of disapproval” with a two-thirds majority, the President can simply veto, which would then require a 2/3 vote to override. The plan would also require the President to make spending cuts roughly equal to the increase in the debt limit (as I understand it.) Yet there is no enforcement mechanism that I can see to ensure he does so. What would Congress do if he raised the debt limit with no corresponding cut in spending? Stamp their feet? It might be all they can do.
Haven’t we seen enough power consolidated in the Oval Office yet?
I mean, the President can assassinate people with a drone without so much as a whoopsie-daisy; have anyone imprisoned on suspicion of terrorism and interrogated; can have a lovely jaunt off to war and only send Congress a politely-worded letter; formulate budgets and tax policy while merely requesting Congressional approval; through executive agencies and department make and enforce law without a vote; and now we’re going to give him the power to unilaterally raise the debt limit with requirements that are so wishy-washy they make Natty Light look good?
In his press conference, President Barack Obama said that we must close the deficit by tackling everything—naturally, with as many contradictions as possible—including entitlements, though we must still “keep faith with seniors and children with disabilities.”
It sounds grand and noble, but the problem is that if Obama decides to “keep faith” with seniors, he’s going to have to do that by vigorously screwing over the next generation. As Professor Lawrence J. Kotlikoff of Boston University points out in a recent Bloomberg column, we’re broke. (Yes, I know that’s his schtick. But he’s absolutely right.)
How big is the fiscal gap? By my own calculations using the CBO data, it now stands at $211 trillion — a huge sum equaling 14 times the country’s economic output. To arrive at that figure, I assumed that annual noninterest spending, as well as taxes, would grow indefinitely by 2 percent a year beyond 2075, the point at which the CBO’s estimates end.
Most of that comes from entitlement spending, which was where Cato policy analyst Michael Tanner came up with the $119.5 trillion in the hole figure just a few months ago. Obviously, it’s getting worse all the time.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released the 2011 Long-Term Budget Outlook yesterday. As you might expect, both sides are talking up the aspects of the report that play to their talking points. For example, if you listen to our progressive/liberal friends, they’re quick to point to charts in the report showing that budget deficits wouldn’t be as large if the 2001/2003 tax cuts hadn’t been extended. Of course, most, if any at all, don’t acknowledge that the CBO also says this in the report:
Changes in marginal tax rates (the rates that apply to an additional dollar of a taxpayer’s income) also affect output. For example, a lower marginal tax rate on capital income (income derived from wealth, such as stock dividends, realized capital gains, or the owner’s profits from a business) increases the after-tax rate of return on saving, strengthening the incentive to save; more saving implies more investment, a larger capital stock, and greater output. However, if that lower marginal tax rate increases people’s after-tax returns on savings, they do not need to save as much to have the same future standard of living, which reduces the supply of saving. CBO concludes, as do most analysts, that the former effect outweighs the latter, such that a lower marginal tax rate on capital income increases saving. A higher marginal tax rate on capital income has the opposite effect.
As every last soul has surely heard by now, Osama bin Laden is dead. Finally located and taken out by American special forces, the death of bin Laden marks a significant moment for America. The occasion was marked by numerous celebrations and expressions of profound relief and satisfaction, coupled with a harsh brushing of the wounds left by 9/11. Whether it helps Obama’s political fortunes is yet to be seen, but it surely has raised Americans’ spirits.
But one question still remains in the minds of many - were the sacrifices we have made up to this point worth it? Over the past nine years Americans have had their privacy invaded, their values called into question, and their coffers tapped to fund two wars expensive in both treasure and blood. We’ve certainly engaged in some ugly practices in our anger over what bin Laden did to us on that fall day in 2001. Your average citizen may never know the true extent of the things done in the name of fighting terrorism.
It’s clear to me then that we have paid an immense price for this victory, one that is hard to justify in retrospect. It’s hard to look at the way our lives have profoundly changed and not say that, despite the fact that his life ended at the point of an American rifle, Osama bin Laden will go down as a victor. His actions have altered the American landscape permanently and have led us to do things that we ought be ashamed of.
Congressman Tom McClintock stated many times recently that America is headed towards a “sovereign debt crisis” that our only hope is to make serious budget cuts or the “Titanic will hit the iceberg”. Congressman Ron Paul says that the collapse of the dollar is “imminent” if Washington doesn’t drastically change. A group called No American Debt was officially launched last night by their Chairman George Pataki. They say that they will address these serious issues and brings them to the foreground of discussion.
According to their website, No American Debt is a group dedicated to holding elected officials accountable for our debt crisis. Their purpose is to educate the public about the debt and they will focus their efforts to persuade President Obama and Republican candidates for President to propose real solutions to the number one issue facing our country today.
Former Governor of New York George Pataki is the Chairman of No American Debt. Speculation has arisen that Pataki would be running for President, although he has recently stated that he will not be running for President in 2012. He did say, however, “but I’ve been around politics long enough to know you never say never”.
George Pataki announced No American Debt on April 20th on the Sean Hannity Show (See Below). Since then the Wall Street Journal has also featured them in an Article.
Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the second most powerful Democrat in the Senate, was exposed this week for engaging in a coordinated effort to paint Republicans, and especially those with ties to the TEA Party movement, as “extremists”. Speaking to fellow Senate Democrats (and not realizing that the media had already been connected in on the conference call), Schumer explained that he “always use[s] the word extreme”, because “that is what the caucus instructed me to use this week”. This intentional attempt at character assassination comes because House Speaker Boehner is getting pressure from freshmen Republicans and the conservative base to do something more than offer lip service to fiscal responsibility.
Indeed, the problem is not that Republicans are too extreme. The problem is that they are not extreme enough; the $61 billion in budget cuts, from a $3.78 trillion dollar budget which increases the deficit by about a trillion and a half dollars, is little more than a rounding error. Much deeper cuts to spending are necessary if we are to get our fiscal house in order, and Republicans had better show some spine and get serious if they expect to keep the support of conservatives and the majority of independents come November 2012.
To be sure though, any Republican with an ounce of intelligence and awareness knew these attacks would come. After all, this is an administration who refuses to acknowledge the radical Islamic roots of the terrorist attacks on American soil over the last few years, yet whose Department of Homeland Security two years ago published a report entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment”. Obama himself has repeatedly refers to his political opposition as being extreme and dangerous.