Richard Nixon

Five Things That Are Right with the Congressional Budget Process

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog published a listicle by public affairs consultant John Feehery (once a spokesman for former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, the moderate, more timid successor to revolutionary Newt Gingrich), opining on the messy federal budget process. My attempts to reach Reid Epstein, the blog’s editor, to offer a counterpoint were fruitless, so here are five reasons we should be thankful for the current federal budgeting process.

Integrity Crumbles within the “Nixonian” Obama Administration

This past week brought forth a deluge of breaking news stories regarding scandalous behavior within various agencies and departments of the Obama Administration. They all seem to point to the same thing: government overreach. Furthermore, they all have been earning Obama a litany of Nixon comparisons.

In case you missed them, here’s my (link fest!) summary of events:

1) Last week’s Benghazi revelations were twofold:

The Money Tree

They say that money doesn’t grow on trees. That’s true. It grows in banks.

I’m not talking about compounding interest either. I’m talking about creation of money right out of thin air. It is well known and understood that the Federal Reserve (and other central banks) print money at will. What’s not so well understood is that regular commercial banks essentially do the same thing. To understand this, we have to explore the nature of money, credit, and the modern banking system.

Money can be described in several ways and has a variety of characteristics.We should begin with the Merriam Webster definition: “something generally accepted as a medium of exchange, a measure of value, or a means of payment.” In early simple economies, barter was the principle means of exchange. This ultimately evolved to commodity money. Items which had a useful value on their own, are easily transportable, do not lose value or deteriorate, and are reasonably commonplace would serve as commodity money. Over the centuries, metal coins evolved out of being simple commodity money into serving as government issued currency. Generally, the metal coins face value as issued would be equivalent to the metal’s value independently. Of course, governments were notorious for devaluing the coins in a variety of ways.

Tips for the Republicans

The GOP chief knows the gig is up:

In a frank and private memo sent today to Republican National Commitee members, the RNC chairman acknowledges that the GOP has grown too addicted to ideology, places politics before policy, and is bereft of ideas — and that it’s imperative that the party shift towards a genuine effort to develop concrete policy solutions to people’s problems in order to rescue itself.

I have a few quick ideas:

Barack Obama is the president Richard Nixon always wanted to be, constitutional law professor warns

Barack Obama and Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon would envy the power that Barack Obama has consolidated into the Executive Branch. In this new, unrecognizable system of government, a president can change laws arbitrarily, paying no mind to the two other coequal branches of government.

During an appearance on Fox News’ Hannity on Wednesday evening, Jonathan Turley, a Georgetown constitutional law professor and political leftist, explained that President Obama’s flouting of a law requiring that his administration notify Congress before the transfer of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay is just latest example of the “uber-presidency.”

“[U]nfortunately our system is changing, and it’s changing without a debate, or even a discussion as to what we’re going to do in the future when we have a three branch system, a tripartite system but one branch is so dominant,” Turley told Sean Hannity. “What’s emerging is an imperial presidency, an uber-presidency as I’ve called it, where the president can act unilaterally. This is only the latest example of that.”

Gallup: Obama’s approval rating hit second-lowest mark of presidency

Barack Obama’s average yearly approval rating fell to the second-lowest point in his fifth year in office, according to a report released this morning by Gallup, and the final quarter of 2013 nearly matched the lowest of his presidency.

Consumed by scandal and controversy, the first year of President Obama second-term in office was a quite a struggle, to say the least, with the White House frequently playing defense. In May, for example, it was revealed that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had improperly targets conservative groups seeking nonprofit status.

The following month, in June, the public learned that the National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting phone records of virtually every Americans for domestic surveillance purposes. In the fall, controversy arose over the disastrous Obamacare rollout and millions of health plan cancellations caused by the law, despite frequent assurances from President Obama that Americans could keep their current coverage.

In his fifth year in office, President Obama averaged an approval rating of 45.8%, according to Gallup, the second-lowest point of his presidency.

Gallup based the results on more than 175,000 interviews conducted between January 20, 2013 through January 19, 2014. His third year in office remains President Obama’s worst, when his approval rating averaged 44.4%.

Looking at the fifth-year numbers compared to past two-term presidents, Obama ranks near the bottom, barely surpassing the 45.7% average approval rating of George W. Bush. Richard Nixon has the lowest fifth-year approval rating, at 41.1%.

Poll: 82% of Americans say U.S. is losing the war on drugs

War on Drugs

The survey of 1,000 adults, which was conducted on August 12-13, found that only 4% of Americans believe the United States is winning the “war on drugs,” a term first coined by then-President Richard Nixon in 1971 when he launched his policy initiatives to combat illicit substances .

Eighty-two percent (82%) of Americans say the United States is losing the more than 40 year battle against drugs. Thirteen percent (13%) were undecided.

Since the war on drugs began, the United States has spent over $1 trillion and incarcerated millions, giving us the largest prison population in the world, only to see the drug addiction rate remain steady. Earlier this year, a Huffington Post/YouGov poll found that 53% of Americans believe that the war on drugs isn’t worth the cost.

Radley Balko, a critic of the drug war and author of the new book, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, says that Americans are finally catching on to the problems with nation’s drug policy.

Move Over Barack W. Bush, Meet Barack Milhous Nixon

There have been plenty of parallels drawn between George W. Bush and Barack Obama when it comes to their hawkish foreign policy views and disgard of civil liberties. But the recent scandals that have hit the Obama Administration have highlighted comparisions between Obama and another Republican president — Richard Nixon.

In a new video, Revealing Politics shows that the lines coming from the White House in response to these scandals are all too reminiscent of Nixon when he was facing questions over his involvement in Watergate. However, there is one distinction that Revealing Politics makes between the two presidents. Nixon eventually took responsibility for the actions of his subordinates — Obama hasn’t, at least not yet.

Cato Institute Highlights History of IRS Abuse

IRS

As we all know, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) under fire for its targeting of Tea Party groups. This scandal, while outrageous and demanding of answers and accountability, isn’t exactly a new thing for the United States’ most disliked bureaucratic entity.

The Cato Institute has a released a new video highlighting the past administrations’ — from FDR to LBJ to Nixon — uses of the IRS to target political and ideological opponents. The video features comments from David Keating, President of the Center for Competitive Politics; Michael MacLeod-Ball, Chief Legislative Council at the ACLU; John Samples, Director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Representative Government; and Gene Healy, Vice President of the Cato Institute.

Samples and Keating noted that there are efforts in and outside of Congress to give the IRS more power to monitor groups that have tax-exempt status, which they explain is an ironic notion, given this most recent scandal. Healy also points to recent comments by President Obama, who decried voices warning of tyranny in a recent commencement address.

“I think if you’re one of these Tea Party groups that spent, in some cases, two years, under an IRS inquisition, you might start to think that these voices are onto something,” said Healy, just before a clip of President Obama joking about auditing university officials who had refused him an honorary degree.

RIP George McGovern

Written by David Boaz, executive vice president at the Cato Institute. It is cross-posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

George McGovern, longtime senator and the Democratic nominee for president in 1972, has died at the age of 90. I recall a friend at Vanderbilt University telling me, “The night McGovern was nominated, the Republicans and the hippies partied together.” Nixon won in a landslide, of course, accusing his opponent of supporting “acid, amnesty, and abortion.” Not to mention opposing the Vietnam War. Someone — maybe Art Buchwald — said it was McGovern’s fault that Nixon was reelected, because if he had run opposed he would have lost.

Over at Reason, Jesse Walker and Nick Gillespie offer libertarian appreciations of McGovern. Quoting Bill Kauffman, Walker reminds us:

In the home stretch of the ’72 campaign, McGovern was groping toward truths that exist far beyond the cattle pens of Left and Right. “Government has become so vast and impersonal that its interests diverge more and more from the interests of ordinary citizens,” he said two days before the election. “For a generation and more, the government has sought to meet our needs by multiplying its bureaucracy. Washington has taken too much in taxes from Main Street, and Main Street has received too little in return. It is not necessary to centralize power in order to solve our problems.” Charging that Nixon “uncritically clings to bloated bureaucracies, both civilian and military,” McGovern promised to “decentralize our system.”


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