So often today, those that protest statist or liberal policies are derided as being ignorant or as having nefarious motivations. The working class is often portrayed as being too stupid to know what is best for them; therefore, an elite, benevolent intelligentsia is needed to pat us on the head before brushing aside our concerns and running the country for us. Years ago, Bill Clinton dismissed a reporter’s question as to whether the budget surplus realized from having a balanced budget (thanks to the Republican takeover of the House) would be returned to the taxpayers by explaining that the taxpayers could not be trusted to spend the money “the right way”. The recent passage of the health care bill was done against the will of the majority of voters, but our concerns were dismissed as we were told that once it was passed, only then would we be able to learn what was in it, and just how good it would be. Well, it has passed, and we are finally learning what is in it, and it’s not good at all.
It is trendy in circles of intellectuals today to dismiss the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, to say that what they designed is not relevant two centuries later, or that we need a “living” Constitution, which sways with the political winds and means what we want it to mean at that specific point in time. This shows an extreme lack of historical perspective at just how unique and brilliant our founding documents are.
The U.S. Constitution was passed in 1787. It contains a mere 4,400 words and yet has successfully governed a nation which began with a few million citizens to today, when we number over 300 million. So brilliant was its construction that it has only been amended 27 times, one of which (prohibition) was repealed.
Podcast: Senate Retirement, Air Marshals, Full Body Scanners, Michael Yon, ObamaCare, Pottawattamie vs. McGhee, & More
Since the sequester took effect in March, the White House has been quick to claim that lagging job growth is a result of the these very modest cuts to spending growth. In Obamanomics, government spending and deficits are virtues. But last week, Conn Carrol pointed to a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco making the case that tax hikes — not spending cuts — are to blame for the poor economic recovery:
Why is the Obama recovery the weakest recovery since the Great Depression? According to a new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, it is not because the federal government failed to borrow and spend too little during the height of the economic downturn.
In fact, the San Francisco Fed reports that “federal fiscal policy was unusually expansionary during the Great Recession” thanks largely to the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic stimulus program passed by Congress in 2009. As a consequence, federal government saving in the recession fell faster—that is, the deficit grew faster—than our historical norm would predict.”
Looking ahead, however, the Fed does see fiscal policy slowing growth, but not, as liberals would have you believe, due to spending cuts:
The House of Representatives is taking its time with the Internet sales tax, which is a good thing. They’re allowing it to go through the proper process, unlike the Senate, and that’s giving more time for opponents to make their case against the proposal.
What we already know about the Internet sales tax, absurdly named the “Marketplace Fairness Act,” is troubling. Not only is the proposal constitutionally questionable, it would turn Internet retailers into a tax collecting agents for 45 states and the District of Columbia and more than 9,600 taxing jurisdictions.
“[T]hat’s 46 returns (45 states with sales taxes plus the District of Columbia), which have to be filed monthly or quarterly, and 46 potential audits every year,” wrote Jacob Sullum earlier this month at Reason, “not to mention all the misunderstandings, disputes, and hassles that fall short of an audit.”
That is a regulatory nightmare for business, and customers could feel the effects. The Heritage Foundation points to a recent interview by a small business owner who explained that compliances costs will lead to prices increases for consumers:
Despite the Justice Department coming under fire for its seizure of AP phone records, which put the press in the middle of the Obama Administration’s war on whistleblowers, Attorney General Eric Holder is planning another controversial move.
Holder, who is certainly no stranger to scandal due to the DOJ’s involvement in Operation Fast and Furious and his subsequent refusal to turnover documents related to the gun-running scheme, is planning to use “regulatory power to make smaller changes” to gun control laws:
In an interview with Attorney General Eric Holder, after discussing the IRS scandal of seizing AP phone records, NPR’s Carrie Johnson checked in with Holder on the issue of gun control. According to Johnson, Holder stated that although the White House lost the battle over expanding background checks for gun purchasers, the administration will be trying again later this year to push gun control in Congress and using their “regulatory power to make smaller changes in the meantime.” Confirming the administration’s unrelenting commitment to what many believe is an infringement of the Second Amendment, Holder declared that the goal is, “moving the needle in the way in which the American people want, which is to make guns less accessible to people that should not have them.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is still living in Fantasyland when it comes to ObamaCare. During an interview on MSNBC, a frequent mouthpiece for Leftists, the ex-House Speaker claimed that ObamaCare is responsible for bringing down the budget deficit:
“Many of the initiatives that he passed are what are coming to bear now, including the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi said in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. “The Affordable Care Act is bringing the cost of health care in our country down in both the public and private sector. And that is what is largely responsible for the deficit coming down.”
The CBO reported last week that the federal budget deficit declined in the first seven months of fiscal year 2013 compared to 2012.
It’s true that the budget deficit will shrink this year, but that’s because of increasing tax revenues, not because of ObamaCare. Additionally, we’re finally — after nearly four years — coming out of a recession, so tax revenues inching up is not surprising.
Health insurers are already seeking premium hikes, which could rise even higher, to deal with the added strain of the law and implementation efforts are becoming a disaster, both of which have caused many Democrats to become concerned. Even more troublesome is the effect that ObamaCare is having on businesses, including moves to cut hours to prevent from having to offer workers insurance benefits.
The Food and Drug Administration may be setting its sights on caffeine. The regulatory agency has announced a plan that could limit the sale of beverages containing caffeine — including coffee and energy drinks — to consumers who are 21-years-old and up:
A few European countries have moved toward regulation — in Sweden, for example, many grocery stores do not sell energy drinks to people under 15. The United States is not likely to lead the charge into federal regulation tomorrow or next year, but when Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at the Food and Drug Administration, was asked last week, “Is it possible that FDA would set age restrictions for purchase?” he responded:
We have to be practical; enforcing age restrictions would be challenging. For me, the more fundamental questions are whether it is appropriate to use foods that may be inherently attractive and accessible to children as the vehicles to deliver the stimulant caffeine, and whether we should place limits on the amount of caffeine in certain products.
One of the great myths of the last decade is that the Bush Administration deregulated the economy. President Barack Obama has made this claim on multiple occasions as he and his supporters made their case that more regulation was needed after the Great Recession. But the truth of the matter was that George W. Bush was, as Veronique de Rugy wrote at Reason back in January 2009, the “biggest regulator since Nixon.”
“The Bush team has spent more taxpayer money on issuing and enforcing regulations than any previous administration in U.S. history,” wrote de Rugy. “Between fiscal year 2001 and fiscal year 2009, outlays on regulatory activities, adjusted for inflation, increased from $26.4 billion to an estimated $42.7 billion, or 62 percent.”
But since taking office in 2009, President Obama has ramped up regulation. In fact, he’s claimed the not-so-honorbale mantle of “biggest regulator since Nixon” from his predecessor.
According a new report by James Gattuso and Diane Katz from the Heritage Foundation, President Obama has imposed almost $70 billion in regulatory burdens on Americans, ranging from new financial rules via Dodd-Frank, ObamaCare, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Unlike federal taxation and spending, there is no official accounting of total regulatory costs,” noted Gattuso and Katz. “Estimates range from hundreds of billions of dollars to nearly $2 trillion each year. However, the number and cost of new regulations can be tracked, and both are growing substantially.”
Rep. Paul Ryan’s big government leanings are shining through once again. The House Budget Committee Chairman and former Republican Vice Presidential nominee has endorsed the “concept” of the online sales tax, though he doesn’t specifically like Marketplace Fairness Act, which is the Senate’s version of the scheme:
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) supports the principle that online retailers should have to pay state sales taxes.
In an emailed statement to The Hill, Ryan clarified that he does not support the Senate’s legislation on the issue.
“It’s got to be done the right way. I think the legitimate concern is can it be used to do other forms of taxation or retroactive taxation? You have got to make sure it doesn’t do that. I don’t think the Senate bill is written in a tight enough way to do that,” Ryan said.
He added that it’s unfair for a local brick-and-mortar retailer to have to collect sales taxes when online competitors are exempt.
During a House Small Business Committee hearing last week, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who served as director of the Congressional Budget Office from 2003 to 2005, explained that the compliance costs of ObamaCare — passed as the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” — could cost businesses up to $24 billion and 80 million hours of paperwork.
“The [Affordable Care Act] is very costly,” Holtz-Eakin explained to the committee. “It has about $24 billion in reported regulatory compliance costs. These are estimates that come from the administration itself. Eighty million hours of paperwork time spent complying with those regulations. To give you some perspective - that’s 40,000 full time employees filling out paperwork for a year nonstop”
Responding to a question from Rep. Tom Rice about the affects of the bill on the economy and ostensibly the American people, Holtz-Eakin said, “This is a negative; I don’t think there’s anyway around that.”
“Whatever your other objects might be, if you set out to enhance job creation and growth in the United States, you wouldn’t pass a bill with a trillion dollars of tax increases, a large entitlement program, and this amount of regulation,” Holtz-Eakin continued. “That isn’t a good strategy.”
Holtz-Eakin also noted that the insurance tax will be passed onto consumers in their health insurance premiums. He also agreed with Sen. Max Baucus’s recent comments that the implementation efforts of ObamaCare will be a “train wreck.”