Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rand Paul Proposes Compromise

Sen. Rand Paul's most recent statement has a "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" with respect to his comments about Harry Reid's filibuster (see below).

More importantly, he spells out a potential compromise that he -- and presumably, other Tea Partiers -- would support:

It seems odd that the Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid would decide to filibuster his own legislation. In fact, the Senate Republican Leader offered to move the vote on this legislation up, but Democrats objected. My Senate Republican colleagues and I are here waiting in the Senate for a vote on the debt limit bill but Sen. Reid would rather delay a vote until 1:00 Sunday morning, running down the clock instead of providing real solutions and real leadership on this issue.
“I remain committed to solving this debt crisis and again offer a compromise. I am willing to give the President what he wants – to raise the debt ceiling $2.4 trillion. But there must be a long-term fix to our debt problem in the form of a Balanced Budget Amendment.

Sen. Harry Reid, Bill Killer

Sen. Harry Reid has always reminded me of a mortician. Perhaps it's all his talk about every Republican bill being "dead on arrival" in the Senate. It's hard to reconcile Reid's language of killing bills -- and his act of tabling the Boehner bill last night -- with what Reid said earlier in the day:

  • "Time is short, and too much is at stake to waste even one more minute."
  • ”We have hours - I repeat, hours - to act.hat is why, by the end of the day today, I must take action...”
Or what he said the day before:

  • "The bottom line though is this. There's only one bill in Congress that is a true compromise. We're running out of time."
Or what Reid said last week:

“Time is of the essence. We are running out of time…”

Odd, when he tabled the Boehner bill he didn't seem in any hurry.

The most maddening aspect of Reid tabling the Boehner bill is that it deprived the country of an opportunity to watch Democrats go on the record.  Give the bill an up or down vote so that we can know with certainty which Democrats will not support a balanced budget amendment and draft candidates to replace them.

Sen. Paul Opposes House Bill

I had hoped that once John Boehner amended his bill to include a call for a balanced budget amendment that Sen. Rand Paul might support it. Not so. Sen. Paul's ideological purity allows no room for compromise, which is unfortunate since he has chosen to serve in the legislative branch. He ignores the reality that much good can be achieved through sustained, incremental changes. Sure, we'd all like to see bigger, faster cuts. But the federal government didn't get this bloated over-night, and it can't be dismantled over-night.

Here is Sen. Paul's statement in response to last evening's passage of the Boehner bill:

I stand in opposition tonight to the recent debt ‘deal’ passed in the House and presented to the Senate. This two-tier approach allows for a $1 trillion debt limit increase immediately, while putting off the discussion of a Balanced Budget Amendment to a later date. I’ve pledged to not vote for any debt limit increase not tied to a Balanced Budget Amendment. Increased debt now, with promises to fix the problem later, is what has gotten us into our current debt crisis. I remain committed to working with my colleagues to find a solution that raises the debt limit while fixing the debt problem.

Sen. Jon Kyl Gives GOP Weekly Address

Sen. Jon Kyl gives this week's Republican address (video here).  It's more than just the same Republican arguments about cutting government simultaneously with raising the debt ceiling.  Sen. Kyl discusses the devastating economic news that most media ignored yesterday while focusing on the Boehner bill vote. Yesterday we learned that the economy only grew 1.3 percent last quarter, and in the first quarter grew only .4 percent.  The second dip of this recession is almost upon us.

Kyl also notes that the tax hikes -- excuse me, "revenue increases," that Democrats want to feed their massive programs will not just hit billionaires. Rather, the tax hikes will necessarily be much broader, and will therefore hit middle-class Americans, unless Democrats agree to scale back the size of the federal government. As Kyl notes, a tax hike in the midst of an economy that is even weaker than we had previously understood is a combination that will kill jobs.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hoping Boehner Gets the Votes

House Majority Leader John Boehner's plan is not perfect.  But conservatives who oppose it for not going far enough are making a big mistake.  His plan cuts government.  Not as much as it needs to be cut, but it is a start.  We will have many, many more opportunities to role back the size of the federal government.  It didn't get this big over-night and it will not be rolled back over-night.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On Obama's Speech

President Barack Obama is losing his touch, or at least his handlers are.  In last night's speech, the shot was framed so as to fit his ears precisely in the door frame behind him. Not to focus on form over substance, but it was very distracting.  Just another reminder that the magic has worn off.

That didn't stop the president, however, from attempting a sleight of hand.  He invoked his standard rationale for class warfare and the need for the rich to sacrifice.  Then he casually mentioned the number $250,000 and in the next sentence referred to millionaires and billionaires.  Since when is someone who makes $250,000 a "millionare"?  Or "billionaire?"  Never mind the fact that many people who earn $250,000 are actually small business owners who file as individuals -- the very people who need to start hiring if this vaunted recovery is ever to take place.

Obama's speech was also noteworthy for his code language.  Tax hikes are now "revenue."  Whenever Obama refers to "revenue" it is time to listen up, because he's getting ready to sock it to so-called rich.

Then there was his invocation of a "balanced approach" -- which is in turn code for tax hikes.  The odd thing about the phrase"balanced approach" is its resemblance to the Republican plan to "Cut, Cap and Balance."  For Republicans, "balance" refers to a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. constitution -- something two-thirds of Americans support.  For Obama,however, "balanced" just means more taxes.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Rand Paul Responds to Obama Speech

Sen. Rand Paul continues to impress both in terms of rapidness of response and substance. Here's his take on the president's speech tonight regarding the need to wage class warfare on jet owners in order to keep the U.S. government from defaulting on its debt.  Best about Paul's remarks -- he calls the president's bluff.  There is no need to stop cutting the checks to our military or social security recipients.  There is enough money to meet those demands.  If we have to furlough a few bureaucrats in cubicles, so be it: From Sen. Paul:

The President tonight took to the airwaves to make yet another speech – but has yet to provide a solution to address our current debt crisis, and again insisted on historic tax hikes. The plans proposed by the respective leadership of both chambers of Congress do nothing to defeat our debt, but rather perpetuate it.
“Both of the Congressional ‘deals’ would leave our nation spending more and accruing more debt – at least $7 trillion more over the next 10 years. Real spending cuts – not small reductions in proposed increases – need to be at the core of this debate, and neither plan balances ever. The Cut, Cap and Balance bill is a great starting point. Any deal must fix our debt problem, which I believe can only be solved through a Balanced Budget Amendment.
“I call on the President to stop threatening Americans with the possibility of defaulting on our debt. We have enough money coming in to keep paying out Social Security checks and the interest on our debt. Political scare tactics and smoke-and-mirror ‘deals’ won’t solve our debt problem, and in fact will likely cause a larger one by forcing the downgrading of our debt rating. This is irresponsible by all parties. It’s time for real leadership to protect our nation’s fiscal security. It’s time to balance our budget.”

Thursday, July 21, 2011

NYT "Shoots" Knob Creek Gun Range

The New York Times Magazine's blog ran a cool series of photos this week from the Knob Creek Gun Range's Machine Gun Shoot (held last April), but you have to get past the Old Gray Lady's elitist disdain for gun owners in the fly-over states.

The Times was denied a press pass.  Its photographer was able to gain access because, according to the Times, he's from West Texas (and thus privy to the secret red-neck handshake and vernacular).

Chris’s own request for a pass was denied, too. He was led to believe the reason was that managers of the range were concerned that the magazine would publish a negative story. So Chris, who grew up in Abilene, Tex., and, as he puts it, “speaks the language” of guns, persuaded the son of the man who owned the range, who persuaded the guy who was in charge of the firing line, who persuaded the range’s manager to give Chris the access he needed.

One glaring omission. The Times  failed to note  Knob Creek's singularly appropriate county location:  Bullitt County.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sen. Paul on Cut, Cap and Balance

Last night the House has passed legislation to address the nation's debt:  "Cut, Cap and Balance." Sen. Rand Paul issued a statement last night, "implor[ing" the Senate to do the same. Unfortunately, Republicans just don't have enough troops to make that happen -- this term.

Here's Sen. Paul's statement:

Tonight the U.S. House of Representatives voted with the voice of the American people in supporting the Cap, Cut and Balance Act. The gravity of our debt crisis weighs heavy on our nation’s shoulders, and I commend my colleagues in the House for passing legislation that leads us toward a solution. They have now passed the only current legislation that would both raise the debt ceiling and fix our debt problem.

I implore my Senate colleagues to follow the same path in voting in favor of this bill, and for the President and his Administration to stop playing games with this matter and support the important goal of defeating our debt and balancing our budget.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sen. Orrin Hatch Give GOP Address

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) gives this week's Republican address (video link here).Hatch makes the case for a balanced budget amendment. Recall that he introduced one in 1997, when it last by one vote.  Imagine how different our nation's financial picture would have been had that amendment been ratified!  Would Barrack Obama even run for president of a country with a balanced budget amendment?

This week he will introduce another balanced budget amendment. As Hatch observes, "the only reason congressional Democrats would refuse to pass it, is because they know the people of this country would rise up and quickly ratify it."

Here's the text of Hatch's address:

“Our nation is in the midst of one of the most critical debates in generations. It is a debate about the size, scope, and shape of our national government. It’s a debate over whether we act responsibly so our children and grandchildren aren’t left carrying the burden of unsustainable debt. 

“While the details of this debate change by the day, the fundamentals are clear. President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress refuse to come up with a legitimate plan to confront our run-away spending that has left our country over $14 trillion in debt. He refuses to reform our near bankrupt entitlement programs  -- all while pushing job-killing tax hikes.

“We’ve been down this road before, and Republicans will not go down it again. In 1990, Congress and the President struck a deficit reduction deal that combined spending cuts with tax increases. Unfortunately, while the tax hikes remained, the spending restraint did not, and our debt has only marched higher. 

“The solution to a spending crisis is not tax increases. Yet, Washington has consistently demonstrated that it cannot control its urge to spend. That is why the only long-term solution is a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. Only by restoring constitutional restraints on the ability of Congress to spend, can we constrain the growth of the federal government. 

“Think of how different our fiscal picture would be if we’d passed one in 1997. After a fierce debate, the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution that I introduced was defeated by just one vote in the United States Senate.

“Instead of sending that amendment to the states for ratification, and addressing the need for fiscal balance, fourteen years later, our nation faces a debt crisis of epic proportions. Our national debt has gone from roughly $5 trillion in 1997 to over $14 trillion today. That’s more than $45,000 for every man, woman, and child in America.

“And that debt keeps growing. According to Congress’s nonpartisan budget scorekeeper, the Congressional Budget Office, the nation’s debt could reach an astonishing 101 percent of domestic product in a decade – with interest payments that could reach over a trillion dollars a year. 

“The situation has only gotten worse after the Obama administration. In his first two years in office, discretionary spending has skyrocketed by 84 percent, including the failed stimulus, with spending reaching 25 percent of our nation’s economic output. We haven’t seen spending levels this high since World War II.

“This soaring debt is the number one issue I hear about from the people in my home state of Utah. As our economy continues to flounder, and families across Utah and all of America are forced to cut back, Washington refuses to make the tough choices that will bring down our massive debt. They know that we need immediate spending cuts; they know we need to cap spending; they know we need a Balanced Budget Amendment.

“Next week we have an opportunity to set things right. In the Senate, all 47 Republican senators back a Balanced Budget Amendment I’ve introduced with my colleagues Mike Lee and John Cornyn. It would require the president to submit, and Congress to pass, a balanced budget every year. And most importantly, it limits spending to 18 percent of gross domestic product and requires supermajorities in both houses of Congress to raise taxes.

“Unfortunately, last week the White House dismissed a Balanced Budget Amendment saying it is not good for the economy, and that our debt isn’t a constitutional issue.

“The American people know better. A Balanced Budget Amendment is essential for our economy, and our debt is definitely a constitutional issue.

“After all, the constitution belongs to the people, who determine what is a constitutional issue – not the White House. And if the debt isn’t a ‘constitutional issue,’ why is it that every state in the union but Vermont has a constitutional balanced budget requirement?

“This kind of strong budgetary reform would put us on a path to fiscal health and would prevent this White House or any future White House from forcing more debt on the American people.

“The only reason this Administration doesn’t want a constitutional amendment is because they want to keep spending the American people’s money. And the only reason congressional Democrats would refuse to pass it, is because they know the people of this country would rise up and quickly ratify it.

“A balanced budget amendment makes sense; its time has more than come. Now, Congress must act. Thank you for listening and may God continue to bless America.”

Friday, July 15, 2011

WSJ: McConnell Plan Forces Obama to Own the Debt, Economy

The Wall Street Journal has a great piece today that lays out the choice for Republicans and concludes that the McConnell plan will force the Obama administration to own the consequences for its profligate spending and borrowing.  The Boehner approach, in contrast, has not worked and cannot work so long as Republicans only control the House.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is taking heat from some in his caucus for "caving" on debt-limit talks. They might instead be thanking him for finally laying out the real choice Republicans face in this debate: 2012 or 2010.

Put another way: With President Obama now committed only to bad options, does the GOP allow him to unilaterally take ownership of his spending mess going into the 2012 election? Or does the party remain so rigidly committed to its own 2010 promises of spending cuts that it joins the president in irresponsibility?

Republicans took a flyer on the debt debate, betting that the high stakes gave them enough leverage to force Mr. Obama to accede to spending cuts. It was bold. It was a potential shot at serious spending reform. It hasn't worked.. . .

Option No. 1 is for the GOP to do a $4 trillion "big deal," in which it gets some cuts, including to Medicare, though only in return for agreeing to significant tax hikes. The president forces Republicans to make a mockery of their own tax promises, and he gets cover for what's been his goal all along. He also gets to brag to his base about that victory, even as he demoralizes conservative voters.

Option No. 2 is the smaller, $2 trillion Biden deal. Even here the White House is demanding some tax increases, while Democrats insist a significant chunk of the cuts take place in future Congresses (which can ignore them). The conservative base will deride this as budget gimmickry, and the GOP will get little credit. The president, however, will boast to the rest of America that he has clocked "significant" spending reductions, and he'll run as a deficit-cutter.

Option No. 3 is for the GOP to go to the brink and share the turmoil or shutdown that follows default. Ask Newt Gingrich how that worked out for him in 1995. Mr. Obama today owns a failing economy. Republicans are begging for joint custody. Come turmoil in August, the president will lay every unemployment uptick, every poor economic statistic, at the foot of whatever panic or pain came out of the debt-ceiling mess—and the Republicans who helped push it to that point.

All this is why Mr. McConnell earlier this week proposed to step back and give the president authority to raise the debt ceiling. If he's so committed to his positions, let him swim in them. Let him own a deficit that's on track to hit $1 trillion for his third presidential year running. Let him tell America why he's cut nothing. Let him explain a credit downgrade caused by his failure to get serious about American debt.

Let him explain the slowing economy, the high unemployment and his proposals for new taxes—next summer. Let the Democrats up for re-election have to vote (as Mr. McConnell's proposal requires) to back up Mr. Obama's profligacy. Let Americans understand, clearly, that this is what they will continue to get if they re-elect him.

Resisting this position are dozens of House Republicans who were elected in 2010 on the promise that they would get America's spending problem under control immediately. This promise has been the animating principle behind all of Speaker John Boehner's and Mr. Cantor's negotiations with the White House. This crowd is aching for a giant spending-cut number to flaunt to the base, proving they are as good as their 2010 campaign word.

Yet despite campaigning on the Constitution, most appear to have missed the whole "separation of powers" bit. You know, the part that provides a presidential veto. Republicans cannot run government from the House alone, yet many have bought into their own debt-limit rhetoric. Rather than see this as the failed gamble it is, they truly believe they have the leverage to make this president give them all they want. "Call his bluff," goes the cry.

These are the same Republicans who have spent years rightly describing Mr. Obama as ideologically committed to giant government—the architect of stimulus, ObamaCare, blowout budgets. The same Republicans who believe Mr. Obama is pursuing a deliberate strategy to turn America into a European entitlement state. Yet now they believe he'll just roll over and give up all he's attained?

If the GOP is so eager to call an Obama bluff, how about this: Call him on his argument that he is acting like a leader, working to fix the debt problem, offering the GOP the opportunity to go big. That's the story line Americans are being fed right now, and the GOP shores it up every time it agrees to another White House summit. A shame, since in fact the only Obama offers are for mediocre cuts, higher taxes, and the opportunity for Republicans to help permanently enshrine big government. That, or for joint ownership of a failing economy and/or shutdown turmoil.

Let him own it. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ann Coulter's Take on McConnell, Debt Talks

I don't recall Ann Coulter ever discussing Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in a column, so this caught my eye. Coulter's take is that McConnell has "schooled" President Barack Obama:

In general, the trend seems to be in the direction of higher spending and endless debt.

The government will just keep spending and spending until we're all on bread lines. But there won't be any bread because within 10 years, nearly the entire federal budget will go to pay Social Security and Medicare recipients. (On the plus side, a lot of us will be speaking Greek by then.)
But now, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has checkmated the Democrats. He has proposed a bill that will allow Obama to raise the debt ceiling three times, up to $2.4 trillion, over the next 18 months, but only provided Obama proposes equivalent cuts in spending each time.
Finally, the Democrats will be forced to pony up spending cuts -- or default on the debt and crash the economy.
Contrary to some hysterical Republicans, McConnell's bill does not forfeit any of Congress' authority: The House and Senate will still have to decide whether to accept Obama's proposed cuts when they write their appropriations bills.
But we will finally get some proposed cuts to federal programs from Obama, and not more nonsense about theoretical savings from "investing" in our children's future with additional spending on Pell grants and prenatal counseling.
McConnell's deal cleanly takes the debt ceiling issue off the Republicans' back and puts it on the president's back. Either the Democrats tell us what they'll cut or they'll have to admit: "We will never cut anything. Everything Ann Coulter says about us is true!"

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

McConnell: Debt Solution "Unattainable" With Obama in Office

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has never been one to sugar-coat it.

In a Senate floor speech this morning. McConnell said, in part:

“It was their commitment to big government that stood in the way of a grand bargain,” McConnell said of Democrats and the White House, “The American people don’t want that, and Republicans won’t be seduced into enabling it.”. . .

I truly believed we could get this done,” he said.  “In the end, it appears that the perceived electoral success of demagogueing a solution proved its undoing.  Or perhaps it was just the ideological commitment to preserving the size of government by the most stridently liberal members of the other side. “. . .

“Republicans will choose a path that actually reflects the will of the people — which is to do the responsible thing and ensure the government doesn’t default on its obligations. And to continue to press the administration to rein in Washington. Not to freeze it in place.  That’s why I will continue to urge the President to rein in our deficits and debt in a way that puts the short and long-term health of our economy ahead of his personal vision of government. “

Flat out, McConnell stated that he believes now that as long as President Obama is in the Oval Office, “a real solution is unattainable.”
“In my view the President has presented us with three choices: smoke and mirrors, tax hikes, or default. Republicans choose none of the above.  I hoped to do good; but I refuse to do harm.”. . .

At a moment when we needed leadership the most, we got the least. The financial security of the nation was being gambled on the President's wager that he could convince people our problems would be solved if we just all agreed to take it out on the guy in the fancy house down the street. And I’m proud of the fact that Republicans refused to play along.” 

“They asked us to join them in another Washington effort to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people. They offered us the opportunity to participate in the kind of deliberate deception of the public that has given public service such a bad name in recent years. We all saw how it worked. The Administration carefully leaked to the media, without any details, the idea that it was willing to go along with trillions of dollars in spending cuts. “. . .

The hope here was that the budget gimmicks and deferred decision-making they actually supported would have the appearance of serious belt-tightening.  But the practical effect would have been at most about a couple of billion dollars in cuts up front with empty promises of more to follow. We've seen this kind of thing before. It’s just this kind of sleight of hand governing that’s put our nation more than $14 trillion in debt. And I will not associate myself with it. I refuse to join in an effort to fool the American people.”

“We will not pretend that a bad deal is a good one,” McConnell said, “The truth is, the Democrats saw this debate as a unique opportunity to impose the type of tax hikes they want so badly but couldn’t pass even in a Democrat-controlled Senate last year.”

McConnell goes to the White House for his third straight day of meetings at 4:45 p.m.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mike Huckabee, Leave Me Alone

Mike Huckabee  just called (again). He seems like a good guy so one part of me feels bad hanging up on him.  But he is driving my family crazy.  He keeps calling us with pre-recorded solicitations to sign a petition or give money.  We keep hanging up, so I no longer recall what the issue is for which he urgently needs our help to defeat the Libruls.

This has been happening for weeks; maybe he's moved on to a new issue.  All I know is that the phone rings, someone in our family answers it and quickly hangs up. When I ask who called, I'm told, "It's Mike Huckabee again with an important message."

It would seem that technology has advanced to the point where the company working for Huckabee might infer, after the 30th, hang-up, that the people at that phone number are not interested in hearing his important message.

Perhaps I would agree with him on the issue.  He method of communication, however, has become so annoying that I am willing to risk missing out on the chance to advance whatever the cause is.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rand Paul Attacks Dems on Debt

Sen. Rand Paul has issued a statement condemning Democrats' refusal to allow a vote this week on the debt:

When I joined my fellow concerned Republican Senators last week and demanded the Senate stay in session to discuss the dire threat of our national debt crisis, I wanted the opportunity for a transparent debate on the Senate floor about how to best deal with this situation. Instead, the Senate Democrat leadership offered unrelated legislation, wasted precious time, and now have declared no more votes for the remainder of the week.

“This lack of leadership is why Americans are demanding change in Washington. My colleagues and I have a plan and we are ready to move forward. Senate Democrat leadership does not.”
Please note: The postings of "G. Morris", written by John K. Bush and which end in 2016, stated his views as of the dates of posting and should not be understood as current assertions of his views. The postings, which have not been altered since they came to an end, remain on this blog to preserve the historical record. In 2017, Mr. Bush took a position that precludes further public political comments or endorsements. He will no longer be contributing to this blog.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sen. Coats Delivers Republican Address

Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) delivers this week's Republican address.  Click here for the video. Not surprisingly, it is about the national debt. Sadly, by comparing Indiana's fiscal policies with those of the Obama administration, Coats implicitly makes the case for what a great president Mitch Daniels would have made.