Written by Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
On Monday, I posted a lengthy entry here comparing the different plans for military spending: the current Obama administration/OMB baseline, CBO’s latest estimate for sequestration, Mitt Romney’s plan to spend four percent of GDP on the Pentagon’s base budget, and Paul Ryan’s plan.
I should have taken a bit more time checking my numbers, because I ended up comparing apples to oranges (or 050 to 051, in budget-wonk-speak).
Thankfully, the ever-watchful Carl Conetta at the Project on Defense Alternatives spied the error, and set me straight. The gap between the Ryan plan and the current baseline (President Obama’s plan) is less than I had previously reported. The gap between the Ryan plan and the Romney plan is larger. The new numbers, and a revised chart are enclosed below.
I have had to make some inferences, so Governor Romney has some wiggle room. Romney’s surrogates have clarified other aspects of his plans for military spending, most recently here, but I still don’t know what is included when he says he will have a “goal of setting core defense spending—meaning funds devoted to the fundamental military components of personnel, operations and maintenance, procurement, and research and development—at a floor of 4 percent of GDP.” And no one seems to know how soon he intends to achieve that goal.
Much has been made of last week’s presidential debate, which was decisively won by Mitt Romny, but Thursday’s match-up between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is just as highly anticipated and just important for the Republican ticket:
Conservatives have been licking their chops in anticipation of a debate between Paul Ryan and Joe Biden ever since Ryan was announced as the Republican vice presidential candidate. After GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s strong performance in the first presidential debate, the pressure is on Ryan to maintain the momentum, and many on the right don’t think that will be difficult.
Confidence in Ryan’s intellect is matched only by a sense that the gaffe-prone vice president can’t be taken seriously. “Ryan is going to be a great, articulate spokesperson out there. He is going to wipe up the floor with Biden in the debates,” Republican strategist Ed Rollins told Fox News this summer. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has said of Biden: “I think the vice president of the United States has become a laugh line on late-night television.”
But Biden’s no fool, and the sky-high expectations for Ryan could set him up for failure. The House Budget Commmittee chairman from Wisconsin may be smart, but he struggles to give policy specifics when pressed by journalists. Biden may make clumsy remarks, but he’s a seasoned debater, with a gut connection to the middle-class voters who’d be hit by budget cuts Ryan has proposed.
During a recent campaign rally, Vice President Joe Biden made a very honest admission. As you know, Biden is the type of guy who will tell you what’s on mind, many times to the detriment of his boss, President Barack Obama. But during the campaign rally, Biden told supporters that the middle class “has been buried for the last four years”:
Biden made the remark at a campaign rally while arguing that Republicans would raise taxes on the middle class. He said the tax hike would be especially bad given what the middle class has been through over the last four years.
“This is deadly earnest, man. This is deadly earnest,” the vice president said. “How they can justify, how they can justify raising taxes on the middle class that has been buried the last four years — how in Lord’s name can they justify raising their taxes with these tax cuts.”
Sigh. As a general statement, Republicans don’t want to raise taxes, and to say otherwise is just plain false. What they’re trying to do is maintain all current tax rates for all taxpayers. Sure, Republicans have a strong belief that tax cuts are good, but the reasoning in this instance is that increasing taxes — even just on higher-income earners — would hurt the economy. This is something in which Keynesians used to believe.
Mitt Romney’s campaign is, of course, seizing on the remarks, using them to point to the failures of President Obama’s economic agenda. The Hill notes that Biden later changed his comments to say that Republican ticket would take America back to economic policies that “buried” the middle class.
The Federal Reserve announced a third-round of quantitative easing (QE3), during which the central bank will purchase $600 billion bonds in hopes that the debt monetization will stimulate the economy and thus bring down the unemployment rate by one-percentage point.
The move has already been met with derision by GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-WI), who called the Fed’s actions “insidious” during a speech in Florida on Saturday. Before the Federal Reserve announced its decision last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that many economists expressed doubt that another round of quantitative easing would do anything to stimulate the economy. And if they do manage to do anything, it could be as, Neil Cavuto explains, “substituting bubbles”:
The risk with forcibly keeping interest rates low is you create another bubble, which is odd because we’re in the fix we’re in because we burst out of a real bad financial bubble.
My fear is that we’re substituting bubbles.
We’re encouraging the very reckless hedging and leveraging that brought on the last financial meltdown.
I’m not saying that happens again. But you don’t have to be Nostradamus to see where this kind of stuff goes. It’s inflationary, for one thing, and likely prompts a continued run-up in commodity prices that had stalled for a while.
There is no denying that Mitt Romney has had a rough go of things lately. President Barack Obama managed to get a decent bounce out of the Democratic National Convention, though it seems to be diminishing in recent polls, and the aftermath of the attack on the United States Embassy in Libya was contentious thanks to the media focusing on his criticisms of Obama rather than the substance of his comments about the incident.
The latest outrage is that Mitt Romney has written off 47% of voters who he says will never vote for him because they are too dependent on the government:
During a private reception with wealthy donors this year, Mitt Romney described almost half of Americans as “people who pay no income tax” and are “dependent upon government.” Those voters, he said, would probably support President Obama because they believe they are “victims” who are “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”
Late last week I saw a headline about Paul Ryan that said he didn’t think the federal government should interfere with states on the medical marijuana issue. That’s not exactly what I’d expect to hear coming from the Romney/Ryan ticket, but I certainly wasn’t upset by it.
I think Ryan was making a point that too many people miss. When talking about the War on Drugs as a Republican in favor of ending it yesterday, it’s a hot topic, and I’m not usually in the majority. The argument I run into so often is this:
Drugs are bad. People shouldn’t use drugs. We should ban drugs.
End of argument.
And that’s without getting into the cost of law enforcement, the overcrowding of prisons for nonviolent crimes, the cost of outsourcing prison space, the dangers of prohibition, or the fact that prohibition simply doesn’t work.
The ironic part of this is that these folks who cheer for calls to return to the Constitution couldn’t legitimize the War on Drugs with any portion of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.
And that, I think, was Ryan’s point. This isn’t a federal issue. It’s a states’ issue. If marijuana is to be legalized – for medicinal or for any other use – it’s an issue for the states to decide, not the federal government.
Just days after the end of the Democratic National Convention, it looks like President Barack Obama has managed to pick up a few points in national polling, which skews the view of the race because it’s a head-to-head match-up against Mitt Romney. With that said, however, there hasn’t been any real movement in the electoral vote count compared to our last few looks at the race.
Romney’s campaign is urging Republicans not to get too worked up about recent polling, but an internal memo shows that they are in a bit of a panic over the last numbers. President Obama has his own problems to worry about as a new poll out of New Mexico shows Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s nominee, getting some support from Democrats, putting Romney within five points. Johnson, who served two terms as Governor of New Mexico, has also managed to pull support from Obama in Colorado.
With the 2012 presidential election expected to be close, a lot of attention is being focused on third party candidates. One candidate who has really received a lot of attention as a “spoiler” is Libertarian Party presidential candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. Republicans appear to be so worried about Johnson that they have been accused of trying to deny him access to the ballot in some states. The perception is that voters who vote for Gary Johnson would normally instead vote for Mitt Romney and therefore split the anti-Obama vote. However, I’m not sure this is necessarily true. I’m inclined to think that a vote for a candidate is a vote for that candidate, not a vote for or against someone else.
Wayne Allyn Root, 2008 Libertarian Party’s Vice Presidential nominee and political commentator, resigned this morning from the Libertarian National Committee (LNC) to, according to his resignation letter, “elect good people and change the direction of this country outside of a third party.”
In the letter to the LNC, which is available at Independent Political Report, Root explains that his decision much is not unlike those of previous Libertarian Party presidential candidates, including Ron Paul and David Koch; both of whom left the LP to become prominent Republicans.
When I asked if he was now backing Mitt Romney, Root responded, “I am,” adding, “I don’t deny that Romney and Ryan aren’t libertarians, but Romney is a pro-business capitalist and Obama is a Marxist-socialist.”
“The economy has been trashed. This is about my kids’ future, it’s about my businesses,” said Root. “There is no hope for America if Obama is re-elected.”
Root, who lives near Las Vegas, noted in his resignation letter that he “plan[s] to join Tea Party U.S. Senators like Rand Paul, Jim DeMint, Marco Rubio and Mike Lee in the near future, representing the great state of Nevada.” It’s obviously too late for him to run this year. It would 2016 before Root could make a run, presumably against Sen. Harry Reid; though Root told me that he believes the Democratic leader will retire.
Bob Barr, a former Republican Congressman from Georgia and the 2008 Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee, backed Newt Gingrich during the GOP primary. Barr has indicated that he will support Romney in 2012.
Disclosure: I served as campaign blogger for Barr/Root in 2008.
I had an epiphany this week. Dyed-in-the-wool Liberals think I’m a bad person. I don’t mean they just disagree with me; they truly think I am evil. While I believe most liberals to be generally well-meaning, but misguided or uninformed, many think of me as a hateful person who revels in human suffering and who cares only for myself. They see my calls for budget cuts as proof that I don’t care about the poor, and am fine with old people starving and dying in the streets. They see any criticism of President Obama’s policies as proof of racism. They see my opposition to anti-global warming legislation and regulation as prima facie evidence that I don’t care for the environment.
This is nothing new, of course. It is stuff you hear all the time. But I guess I always assumed it was over-the-top, hyperbolic rhetoric meant to fire up their base. I am no stranger to hyperbole. My Facebook debates with my liberal friends are replete with it, my comments often marinated in sarcasm. It’s part of the fun of debating liberals; taking the truth and giving it a conservative, candy-coated shell. Yet at the end of the day, we all know that the core of our comments represent our true beliefs, but those beliefs are sprinkled with a heavy helping of trash-talking.
My epiphany came in the form of the unscripted comments of one David Chalian, unaware he was speaking near an open microphone. No run-of-the-mill Occupy protestor, Chalian was the Washington Bureau Chief for Yahoo! News, former political editor for PBS Newshour, and faculty member at Georgetown University. This is a seasoned political media member, which makes his comments all the more shocking.