DeMint lays out endorsement pledge

Even though the race for the GOP presidential nomination is underway (though the field may not be entirely set), there hasn’t been many endorsements from members of Congress or high-profile Republicans. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who often represents the tea party in Washington, is wants candidates to sign before he’ll endorse:

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) threatened to withhold his support for Republican presidential candidates unless they sign a pledge requiring fiscal reforms in exchange for raising the debt limit.
The pledge, crafted by several conservative groups, would have signatories vow to oppose raising the debt limit unless three conditions are met: 1. Substantial cuts in spending (Cut), 2. Enforceable spending caps (Cap), and 3. Congressional passage of a balanced budget amendment (Balance).

“I’m telling every presidential candidate, if your name isn’t on this list, don’t come see me,” DeMint said.

Support from the South Carolina senator will be especially coveted by White House contenders, both for the boost in a key primary state and because of his status as a conservative icon within the GOP. DeMint challenged House and Senate candidates to sign the pledge, too.

DeMint backed Romney four years ago, but he has since said that he won’t do so again unless the former Massachusetts Governor repudiates RomneyCare; which isn’t likely to happen.

There will be a few candidates willing to sign DeMint’s pledge, perhaps Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain or Ron Paul, but none of them stand much of a chance to win the nomination.

Apparently, GM CEO hates poor people?

Jason has already mentioned this, but in case you missed it; GMs CEO Dan Akerson thinks that Americans aren’t buying enough fuel efficient cars.  His answer isn’t surprising from the head of General Government Motors either.  He thinks that the United States tax code is the place to make people do something they don’t really want to do in the first place.  His suggestion, as told to the Detroit News (emphasis mine):

“You know what I’d rather have them do — this will make my Republican friends puke — as gas is going to go down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas,” Akerson said.

“People will start buying more Cruzes and they will start buying less Suburbans.”

That’s right, Akerson wants upwards of a dollar tax on gas to push a government approved agenda down people’s throats.  Of course, outside of CEO-Land, there are millions of Americans who can’t actually afford to buy new cars.  They’re called poor people.

Is Pawlenty on the rise?

Earlier today, I noted the importance of Iowa to Tim Pawlenty’s hopes to capture the Republican nomination. And we’re there is going to be a lot of emphasis on that fact over the next two months, it’s worth noting that he had an excellent week last week:

A successful economic speech, one rival’s campaign implosion and another’s decision to skip an influential Iowa straw poll have given Tim Pawlenty a very good week.

His campaign hopes to keep the momentum going, getting the traction its needs to catapult the relatively unknown former Minnesota governor into a top contender for the Republican presidential nomination.

The mass staff resignations from Newt Gingrich’s campaign, combined with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s decision to skip Iowa’s Ames Straw Poll, gives Pawlenty an opening on which his campaign could capitalize.
The Pawlenty campaign’s gameplan has always relied on seizing moments in the race to help build the Minnesotan’s image and popularity.

Pawlenty was the most immediate beneficiary of the Gingrich implosion. Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), who was Gingrich’s campaign co-chairman, jumped to Pawlenty’s campaign following the mass resignations of the former Speaker’s staff.

Conservatives have also been swooning over Pawlenty after his “Better Deal” speech in Obama’s backyard, at the University of Chicago, on Tuesday. The plan, which would eliminate a number of deductions while slashing the top individual and corporate tax rates, won crucial praise from the right, whose support Pawlenty will need in the primaries.

GM: Tax Americans more so they’ll buy our cars

Since the auto bailout apparently was enough, General Motors wants more government favors to influence Americans into buying fuel efficent cars by increasing gas taxes to as much as $1 per gallon:

General Motors CEO Dan Akerson doesn’t think people are embracing fuel-efficient cars fast enough, and he’s got a brilliant solution to “nudge” consumers in the “right” direction: raise the federal gas tax by as much as one dollar per gallon.

You read that right. A dollar per gallon. It’s 18.4 cents right now.

Akerson has loads of praise for the nice people who gave him billions of dollars, so he could continue his unsustainable business model. He told the Detroit News “I have nothing but good things to say about them.” He’s not talking about you, silly. Your free choices are what brought GM’s unsustainable business model to the edge of bankruptcy. He’s talking about the nice government people who took those billions away from you by force, and used them to override the judgment of the market.

Now your judgment in car purchase must be over-ridden once again, and massive new taxes are ideal tool for getting the job done. The Detroit News tells us Akerson believes “a government-imposed tax hike will prompt more people to buy small cars and do more good for the environment than forcing automakers to comply with higher gas-mileage standards.”

Weekly Standard: Rudy Giuliani is running for president

Over at the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol reports that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will enter the race for the Republican presidential nomination:

I’m told by two reliable sources that Rudy Giuliani intends to run for the GOP nomination for president in 2012. He may throw his hat in the ring soon.

Rudy’s theory of the race: In the fall of 2007, he decided he couldn’t compete with both Mitt Romney and John McCain in New Hampshire, and disastrously decided to try to pull back there and pitch his tent in Florida. This year, he’ll commit everything to New Hampshire, where he thinks he has a good shot at beating Romney—whom he criticized there earlier this week. He then thinks he can beat whichever more socially conservative candidate(s) is left by winning what are still likely to be winner-take-all primaries in big states like California, New York, and New Jersey.

Rudy’s message: I’m tough enough to put our fiscal house in order and to protect us from enemies abroad. The U.S. in 2012 is in bad shape—like New York in 1993. The budget crisis is as severe—and seemingly intractable—as the crime/welfare crisis was in New York then. Rudy dealt with that when people said it couldn’t be done. He’ll deal with this.

US now holds $61.6 trillion in unfunded liabilities

While there are varying estimates on the unfunded liabilities (financial commitments that Congress has made), USA Today put out a sobering reminder yesterday of just how dire our fiscal solvency is:

The government added $5.3 trillion in new financial obligations in 2010, largely for retirement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. That brings to a record $61.6 trillion the total of financial promises not paid for.

This gap between spending commitments and revenue last year equals more than one-third of the nation’s gross domestic product.

Medicare alone took on $1.8 trillion in new liabilities, more than the record deficit prompting heated debate between Congress and the White House over lifting the debt ceiling.

Social Security added $1.4 trillion in obligations, partly reflecting longer life expectancies. Federal and military retirement programs added more to the financial hole, too.
The $61.6 trillion in unfunded obligations amounts to $527,000 per household. That’s more than five times what Americans have borrowed for everything else — mortgages, car loans and other debt. It reflects the challenge as the number of retirees soars over the next 20 years and seniors try to collect on those spending promises.

Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, wrote just last week that platitudes and promises of unicorns aren’t going to get us very far; Congress has to deal with entitlements, not by growing them or pushing growth-slowing taxes, but by repealing and reforming:

Pawlenty unveils economic plan

With voters increasingly blaming President Barack Obama for the nation’s economic woes, Tim Pawlenty, former Governor of Minnesota and a Republican presidential hopeful, hoped to capitalize by laying out his economic plan; making it clear that the policies of the man he hopes to replace are hurting the nation:

Offering a “Better Deal,” a construction in the economic messaging tradition of Democrats beginning with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, Pawlenty will promise a target of 5 percent yearly economic growth, which hasn’t been seen in the United States since the economy expanded at a 7.2 percent clip in 1984. To his benefit and likely no accident, his prescription of how to equal that achievement is similar to the policies of then-President Reagan.

Pawlenty offers a breathtaking series of tax cuts, beginning with a reduction in the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, and an income tax policy that closely mirrors Ryan’s fiscal 2012 budget framework, offering only two rates, 10 percent and 25 percent, for households that make up to and more than $100,000, with a generous minimum exemption for cuts of nearly one-third to individual tax bills. The plan also eliminates taxes on capital gains, dividends, and estates, representing a dramatic reduction in overall revenue.

Club for Growth on Mitt Romney (you’re gonna want to read this one, folks)

Just like in 2008, the Club for Growth is putting together a series of white papers on candidates running for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. They’ve already looked into the records of Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain. Next up is Mitt Romney; and it ain’t pretty.

The Club for Growth, which has received some good press on this release, points out that Romney has had a mixed record on taxes, supporting “fee” hikes, closing tax “loopholes” and tax hikes on businesses as Governor of Massachusetts. However, they do note some positives; such as unsuccessful proposals to cut the state’s income tax and a successful one-year rebate on the capital gains tax; certainly not an easy feat with a Democratic legislature.

But ulitmately, the Club concludes that Romney has been inconsistent on taxes; noting that while he supports keeping the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent, he has also opposed pro-growth reforms:

House GOP to bring “clean” debt limit vote

House Republican leaders have scheduled a “clean vote” for next week on increasing the debt ceiling, though it seems that there isn’t enough support to pass it:

The GOP-led House plans to hold a vote next week on a “clean” increase to the debt limit that doesn’t include any spending cuts, in a bid to show President Obama and Democrats that such a measure cannot pass without conditions attached.
The plan by the GOP leadership team is to schedule the vote on the suspension calendar, normally reserved for non-controversial items such as naming post offices, and require a two-thirds vote of the House for passage. Most House bills usually require a simple majority to pass. This legislative route also means no amendments can be offered to bills.

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., has garnered the support of 114 other Democrats for a increasing the debt limit with no strings attached, but that would be far short of the votes needed to pass the GOP measure.

Many are scoffing at the idea of this vote, saying that it sends the wrong message to those investing in our debt and to Wall Street. Eh, not really. It does send a message to the White House that Congress cannot keep increasing the nation’s borrowing limit with our curbing our addiction to spending; as Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) noted in his most recent Texas Straight Talk:

Is Giuliani running for president? Maybe

Back in January, I mentioned in passing that Rudy Giuliani was considering another bid for the GOP presidential nomination despite performing poorly in 2008. But given the questions surrounding the Republican field, it appears that Giuliani is seriously considering it:

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose presidential campaign fizzled in 2008, is leaning toward another race for the White House, according to a close associate.  New York Republican Rep. Peter King, who has known Giuliani for more than 40 years, says the former mayor “is very close to saying he’s going to run.”

“If he were to make the decision today, he would run,” says King.

Speaking at a dinner with reporters in Washington, King, who was an enthusiastic Giuliani supporter in 2008, said the former mayor has been quietly lining up support and exploring strategy. Giuliani has also examined the mistakes his campaign made in ‘08, when he did not seriously compete in a contest until the Florida primary, by which time he was hopelessly behind in the race.

The recent CNN poll out of New Hampshire shows Guiliani tied with Newt Gingrich for third, behind Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, among Republican primary voters. But there are a lot of factors that Guiliani would need to consider before taking another plunge into electoral politics.

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