The Patriot Post Digest
“The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife.” –Thomas Jefferson
Government & Politics
Ron Paul’s $1 Trillion Idea
Reports of a new era of fiscal austerity are not only greatly exaggerated, they are absolutely false. The federal government’s fiscal 2011, which ended Sept. 30, proved to be the most expensive year ever with $3.6 trillion in outlays, and $1.3 trillion of that in pure deficit spending. Sure, the deficit as a share of GDP is down three-tenths of 1 percent from fiscal 2010, and Washington is using that pathetic benchmark to brag about its belt-tightening, but as we reported last week, real spending outlays actually increased 4.2 percent from the previous year. And three-tenths of 1 percent amounts to just a few billion dollars, which is little more than a rounding error considering the numbers involved.
Naturally, Democrats claim that this outrageous spending is all in the name of economic recovery and that Republican budget cutting has actually stymied an economic recovery. Therefore, despite Democrat caterwauling to the contrary, there has been literally no budget cutting so far.
GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul has a plan to change all that. Titled “Restore America,” Paul aims to cut $1 trillion in spending during his first year in office, in part by “eliminating five cabinet departments (Energy, HUD, Commerce, Interior, and Education), abolishing the Transportation Security Administration and returning responsibility for security to private property owners, abolishing corporate subsidies, stopping foreign aid, ending foreign wars, and returning most other spending to 2006 levels.”
Some other elements include using block grants for states to solve their own problems with Medicaid and other welfare programs; cutting the federal workforce by 10 percent, as well as the pay of congressional members and the president; lowering the corporate tax rate from a crippling 35 percent to a more competitive 15 percent; eliminating the death tax; and repealing ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank financial regulations.
There is much for conservatives to cheer in Paul’s plan. It’s important to lay out a broad vision for what Republicans would do once in control of the White House and Congress again. Paul proposes to cut almost as much in one year as the much-ballyhooed congressional super-committee will recommend over a 10-year period. Furthermore, it’s not as if Paul is trying to turn back the clock on the last century, as Democrats so love to charge. He’s merely pointing to 2006 — just five years ago — as the goal. Finally, who wouldn’t want lower taxes and fewer regulations? Well, besides Democrats and Flea Party protesters.
However, there are also problems with the plan. For one, it would take a Republican super-majority in Congress to even consider doing any of the things in Paul’s plan, and many Republicans don’t agree with its prescriptions. Many of Paul’s proposed eliminations are sacred cows in Washington, not least of which is the Department of Education. Yes, it duplicates state power and resources and is unconstitutional to boot, but even Ronald Reagan couldn’t eliminate it, and it was less than a year old when he took office.
Primarily, however, Paul offers little explanation for the thinking behind his proposals, much less how to achieve them. The entire plan consists of a one-page executive summary, followed by charts and graphs of one sort and another. Paul must make a better case for why the departments of Commerce and Interior, for example, are unconstitutional or unnecessary, and how he would implement an orderly transition. The would-be commander-in-chief also needs to explain how zeroing out line items for wars or foreign aid serves our national security interest.
That said, Congressman Paul has long been a voice — sometimes the lone voice in Congress — of constitutional government. He has done a service to the overall presidential debate and his country by steering the conversation toward real and drastic cuts, not just nips and tucks. We hope he expounds on this plan and that it receives a serious hearing. It’s certainly time for a reality check.
Hope ‘n’ Change: CLASS Dismissed
The Obama administration last week shelved CLASS, a major portion of ObamaCare, because they could no longer defend its inevitable insolvency. CLASS (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports), a leftist pet project even before it was included in ObamaCare in 2009, was designed to operate as a self-sustaining voluntary insurance program that workers would pay into during their careers, then collect from if they came to require long-term care later in life. CLASS could operate without a taxpayer subsidy only if large numbers of healthy workers joined it, which was unlikely given their current coverage and the program’s high premiums. Thus, disabled beneficiaries would drain the program and make it insolvent unless the federal government mandated participation or created an additional payroll tax to fund it, two possibilities with which Democrats are perfectly comfortable.
Democrats knew well of this major flaw in CLASS during the ObamaCare debate in 2009, yet continued to push for its inclusion because it was the linchpin of their argument that ObamaCare was not only deficit-neutral but would actually cut the deficit. They claimed that CLASS would reduce the deficit by $80 billion over 10 years, accounting for 40 percent of ObamaCare’s total supposed savings. In reality, in 10 years, the program would have collapsed by virtually every calculation. But by then, it would be too late, and the American people would have been stuck with yet another unfunded entitlement.
The CLASS disaster was averted due to a Republican provision that called for actuarial analysis before its implementation, proving the program’s solvency over a 75-year period before its implementation. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius finally admitted last week that this benchmark was unattainable, and now the administration wants to “revisit” CLASS. Senate and House Republicans, however, have introduced new legislation calling for outright repeal. Strangely, Obama has threatened to veto legislative repeal. CLASS’s downfall is a clear demonstration of big government hubris, further proof that all of ObamaCare should also be consigned to the scrap heap.
The BIG Lie
“I believe all the choices we’ve made have been the right ones.” –Barack Obama, whose hubris knows no bounds
In related news, Reuters reports, “An unofficial gauge of human misery in the United States rose last month to a 28-year high as Americans struggled with rising inflation and high unemployment. The misery index — which is simply the sum of the country’s inflation and unemployment rates — rose to 13.0, pushed up by higher price data the government reported on Wednesday.”
New & Notable Legislation
Senate Democrats pushed for a vote this week on a $35 billion component of the Obama “jobs” bill that focuses on providing support for public school teachers and first-responders. It’s a new Democrat strategy to pass the $447 billion “mini”-stimulus bill piece-meal rather than as a single package, which the president demanded in vain for several weeks. It failed Thursday.
The first portion chosen for debate focused on public sector union, employees who Reid believes are getting the short end of the economic stick. Reid “reasons” that “private sector jobs are doing just fine. It’s the public sector where we have lost huge numbers.” Only a big government worshipper could see a smaller public sector as a problem. And only Harry Reid could possibly believe that the private sector is doing “just fine.” His premise fails every reality test. The total number of new jobs in the far-larger private sector may exceed those in government, but in terms of the percentages of jobs in both categories, the federal government’s employment numbers (as well those as many states) and employee salary average dwarfs that of private sector workers.
This Week’s ‘Braying Jackass’ Award
Last week, Vice President Joe Biden warned that failure to pass Stimulus Jr. would lead to fewer cops and, therefore, more rapes and murders. Apparently, he liked the refrain, because this week he repeated it and took it further:
“The other thing I’ve heard from my friends who oppose this whole jobs bill [is] that ‘this is just temporary.’ Let me tell you,” Biden thundered, “it’s not temporary when that 9-1-1 call comes in and a woman’s being raped and a cop shows up in time to prevent the rape. It’s not temporary to that woman. It’s not temporary to the guy whose store is being held up and has a gun pointed to his head if a cop shows up and he’s not killed. That’s not temporary to that storeowner. Give me a break — temporary. I wish these guys who called this temporary, I wish they had some notion of what it’s like to be on the other side of a gun, or a 200-pound man standing over you telling you to submit.”
Biden makes a great case for Americans’ Second Amendment rights to carry guns and defend themselves. But he’s talking about jobs, specifically those of police. All else aside, when was the last time a 9-1-1 call prevented a rape or murder? Police are critical to maintaining law and order, but they rarely prevent crimes. Furthermore, shameless demagoguery doesn’t change the fact that the first stimulus was a failure. Why should we be saddled with a second one?
Warfront With Jihadistan: Leaving Iraq
As previously reported, the Obama regime’s Iraq policy has been one of withdrawal and surrender. Last month the Pentagon announced plans to have at least 27,000 troops remain in Iraq at year’s end. When the White House later ordered that number lowered, U.S. commanders replied through gritted teeth that they could make do, barely, with 10,000 troops. When the White House came back with, “Yeah, how about 3,000?” U.S. commanders were reportedly “livid.” Now it appears Obama is abandoning all pretense of caring about Iraq and will bring all but 160 — that’s one hundred sixty — of the currently deployed 45,000 troops home by the new year. The remaining troops will serve as a protective force for the U.S. embassy.
If implemented, this decision will end more than eight years of U.S. involvement in the Iraq war, despite uncertainty about that country’s security forces and political stability. Although Iraq’s armed forces have made significant progress, they still require U.S. aid for training, air and naval support, intelligence and counterterrorism operations, and logistics. Unfortunately, Iraq’s government is not helping. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, concerned about looking like an American puppet as well as antagonizing Iran, is ignoring his own military, which supports an extended American military presence. Additionally, during negotiations for an extended presence, Iraqi leaders in parliament have refused to give U.S. troops immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts. The U.S. cannot stay without such immunity, exposing American soldiers to the whims of an Islamic judicial system.
Politically, Obama will finally get to say he ended “Bush’s war” (even as he takes military action of his own in Libya, Uganda and Yemen) just in time for the 2012 campaign. As for Iraq, only time will tell if it succeeds or ultimately succumbs to the murderous political dementia that is endemic to the region. America has fought nobly and sacrificed greatly to give an Arab Islamic country a shot at freedom. It will be up to the Iraqis to keep it.
Libya Ends While Another Conflict Begins
The present administration has a curious way of looking at warfare. In situations where the United States is at least indirectly threatened by the specter of radical Islam, Barack Obama is tripping over himself looking for a way out. But if he has a chance to take out the leader of a country that poses no threat, well, Obama is all over it. Just ask Moammar Gadhafi.
Well, you could if Gadhafi were still alive. Libya’s longtime brutal dictator was killed by fighters who overtook his hometown of Sirte Thursday. Deposed and forced from Tripoli in August, Gadhafi had fled to Sirte as a last refuge. As his enemies closed in, he attempted to flee once more, but was taken alive by revolutionary forces before being killed. With his death and the fall of the last of his regime’s strongholds, the National Transitional Council will move to consolidate power and reunify the nation. Memo to Moammar: Sic semper tyrannis!
Historian Victor Davis Hanson summed it up: “The Middle East is a very different place than it was on 9/11: Saddam dead, Osama bin Laden dead, Qaddafi dead, Mubarak near dead, and Assad reeling. Much of this transition is due to the decision after 9/11 to push for radical change in the Middle East, started by George Bush and more or less continued uninterrupted by Barack Obama. After the capture of Saddam, Qaddafi saw a glimpse of his own fate; one wonders how many Middle East despots are doing the same as they view the ghoulish pictures of a seemingly dead Qaddafi that are now all over the Internet.”
Meanwhile, Obama has sent U.S. forces to Uganda to oppose Joseph Kony, the leader of a ragtag group of miscreants calling themselves the Lord’s Resistance Army. The group, primarily child soldiers forced into taking up arms and led by Kony’s iron fist, has been terrorizing central Africa for a number of years, though it cannot be construed as a threat to American national security. Now Kony, by all accounts a scoundrel of the highest degree, finds himself the target of 100 American military advisers deployed to Uganda last week in a “non-combat role.” U.S. forces were sent to help regional military units fight off this guerrilla group and take care of Kony once and for all. While Congress has allowed the president plenty of leeway in dealing with Kony through a resolution passed in 2010, military force wasn’t specifically authorized.
Immigration Front: Deportation Up, Alabama’s Law Down
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released numbers on Tuesday indicating that nearly 400,000 illegal aliens had been deported in fiscal 2011, the highest number on record. According to The Hill, “Of the 396,906 people removed from the U.S., more than half — 216,698 — had been previously convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, according to the ICE numbers, which represent a 90 percent increase in the number of criminals deported over those for fiscal 2008. The numbers mark a 10 percent increase over criminals removed in fiscal 2010 — about 195,000.” The news comes after the Department of Homeland Security announced in August a shift of focus to deporting aliens with criminal records.
The White House is touting the numbers as evidence of success in stemming the tide of illegal immigration. How Barack Obama juggles that success with his goal of shoring up a disappointed Hispanic electorate could be key to his re-election efforts. Some Republicans also remain unconvinced. “The Obama administration is cooking the books to make it look as if they are enforcing immigration laws when in reality they are enacting amnesty through inaction,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX).
While appearing tough on deportations, the administration is taking aim at states that try to enact and enforce immigration laws. Alabama’s recent crackdown law, challenged by the Obama Justice Department, was stayed in part by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruled that the state cannot, as its law says, require schools to verify immigration status or empower police to charge immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally. Construction businesses and schools had reported significant drops in their respective Hispanic populations while the law was in effect for three weeks.
Business & Economy
Obama Spokesman: ‘We’re Fighting for the 99 Percent’
The last time we checked, average Americans didn’t overstay their welcome on private property or create a mountain of trash and a fetid funk that drives tourists away. Yet Occupy Wall Street is getting political support, at least tacitly, from a number of Democrats in Washington who see this radical and semi-coherent “Flea Party” as the Left’s answer to the Tea Party. Even though the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hasn’t followed up on a recent e-mail launching a petition drive in support of the protests, they’re not backing off their statements. Nor did White House spokesman Josh Earnest, who said earlier this week that “the interest of the 99 percent of Americans [will be] well-represented” as Barack Obama launches a bus tour through Virginia and North Carolina to tout his jobs plan. In fact, the protesters are even working toward their own convention next year, where they aim to draft “The 99 Percent Declaration” in a dark mockery of our nation’s founding.
Meanwhile, both the Socialist Party and American Nazi Party — two peas in a pod — have released statements supporting the OWS movement. On top of that, Obama tried to add a civil-rights angle to the struggle, claiming Dr. Martin Luther King would have supported the protests.
Occupy Wall Street is a nascent movement barely a month old and not even clear on its goals, but it does seem to be getting much attention from the dissatisfied Left. Yet when Wall Street tycoons are among the most fervent bundlers for Obama’s campaign, his professed support of the protests seems to ring a bit hollow. Indeed, it takes immense chutzpah to accept $22 million from a group of financial services businesses over the last two election cycles — in this cycle so far, he has taken in more Wall Street money than all the GOP candidates combined — and yet align oneself with a motley crew of hard left protesters who claim to be average Americans.
On a related note, it seems that some of the protesters are just there to swipe other protesters’ cameras, phones and other corporate-made toys. “Stealing is our biggest problem at the moment,” said one occupier. Well, it’s really not their biggest problem, but it’s the one they’re noticing. Rather like Obama’s noticing that his teleprompters were stolen earlier this week. Gotta have the essentials.
Income Redistribution: Transparency and Solyndra
The “transparency” Barack Obama’s campaign promised in 2008 has turned as clear as mud. In the latest segment of the Solyndra saga, the White House has refused a request by the House Energy and Commerce Committee to turn over internal White House communications, including e-mails on Obama’s Blackberry, relating to the federally bolstered — and now bankrupt — solar-panel manufacturer. In a letter to the committee, White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler said that complying “implicates longstanding and significant institutional Executive Branch confidentiality interests” and that “the three federal agencies most directly involved in the Solyndra loan guarantee [Energy, OMB, and Treasury] … are all cooperating with the committee’s investigation.” But the committee remains far from convinced that the White House wasn’t also directly involved in the $535 million loan guarantee.
Furthermore, and far from assuaging doubts, Treasury officials testified last week on Capitol Hill that they have never seen a government loan restructuring quite like this one in which a company’s investors were placed ahead of taxpayers in the recovery line. Doubts only intensify when one considers that some of these outside investors have close ties to the Obama White House. Digging more deeply into the White House’s involvement in the Solyndra loan may be the only shovel-ready project this administration has actually produced. The truth, though, is that further digging is precisely what this “most transparent” administration is trying desperately to avoid.
Regulatory Commissars: Geithner Cheers Regulation
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told a Senate committee this week that government regulations are great and don’t hurt anybody. In fact, he said, “It is very hard to find evidence across the economy today that regulation is having a material effect on growth at all.”
And Geithner is dead serious. Despite the last three years’ economic stagnation and job loss, coinciding with his boss’s unprecedented regulatory regime, Timmy believes the government is right on course.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) rebutted Geithner by quoting none other than General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, the crony capitalist who also happens to be the chair of the president’s own job council: “He said … the final priority is improving collaboration between government and business with regard to regulation. Decades of overlapping and uncoordinated regulations create unnecessary hurdles and increase burdens for entrepreneurs and businesses large and small in this country.” But neither Geithner and his boss nor the useful idiots on the Left will be swayed by any of that.
Culture & Policy
Second Amendment: Obama on Fast and Furious
In an interview with ABC this week, Barack Obama was asked about the ATF’s Fast and Furious operation. Obama said, “Our overarching goal consistently has been to say we’ve got a responsibility not only to stop drugs from flowing north, we’ve also got a responsibility to make sure we are not helping to either arm or finance these drug cartels in Mexico.” That much is obvious. “It’s very upsetting to me to think that somebody showed such bad judgment that they would allow something like that to happen,” he continued. “And we will find out who and what happened in this situation and make sure it gets corrected.” He concluded, “people who have screwed up will be held accountable.”
That’s all well and good, but forgive us if we’re skeptical. It was reckless and unconscionable that so many weapons walked across the border to Mexico, but was it merely “bad judgment”? We firmly believe that the intent of the program — getting American guns into Mexico to prove that there is such a problem — was exactly as it played out. Well, except for the part where they got caught. Perhaps that’s what Obama meant when he said “people who have screwed up will be held accountable.” The screw-up was getting caught, and somebody’s got to pay for that.
Around the Nation: Back Rent for Ground Zero Mosque
Con Edison keeps the lights of New York City shining, but now the utility giant may also accomplish what millions of angry Americans could not: prevent the Ground Zero mosque from opening. This won’t be accomplished as the mosque’s power supply company, however, but as its landlord.
The dispute concerns the piece of prime Manhattan real estate on which the mosque is to be built. The developer, Park 51, owns a five-story building on the eastern side of the property, while Con Ed owns a former substation on the western side. Park 51 had eventually planned to purchase the Con Ed building, knock down both structures, and construct its $100 million, 15-story “community center.” In the meantime, Park 51 had a lease under which rent was $2,750 a month; this rate was set in 1972 and is unheard of in present day New York. Now Con Edison has raised the rent to a whopping $47,437 a month, retroactive to July 31, 2008. When Park 51 refused to pay the $1.7 million in back rent, Con Ed threatened to terminate the lease and evict. This would effectively kill the plans for the controversial project.
Park 51′s lead developer, Sharif El-Gamal, has speculated that the utility company is caving in to “political pressure”; this is an interesting statement, considering that both Barack Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg publicly support the project. A hearing is set for Nov. 17, and until then a court enjoined Con Ed from terminating the lease.
Village Academic Curriculum: Texas-Sized Problem
Over the past several years, schools across America have stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance for fear of somehow appearing jingoistic. Now one teacher in McAllen, Texas, has asked students in her intermediate Spanish class to memorize and recite the Mexican National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance. Her reason: She grew up in Mexico and loves that country. Apparently, in the upside-down world of progressive educators, this is not seen as utterly offensive to average American citizens.
A 15-year-old student disagreed, especially since the assignment was given the week after the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. When she complained, the school principal argued that she should follow the curriculum, and a district spokesman stated that the assignment was essentially “no different than memorizing a poem or a passage of Shakespeare.” The girl’s father believes otherwise. “Our kids don’t even know the [American] national anthem,” he said, “and here we are … teaching them to memorize and perform the national anthem for Mexico. I just think it’s so backwards.”
The school eventually gave in, permitting the student to write an essay about Mexican history instead. The simplest solution might have been for students to learn a Spanish translation of the American Pledge. What a novel idea.
The list of ailments, maladies, annoyances, disasters and catastrophes caused by global warming just keeps getting longer. At one time, that list was more than 600 items long, and we can now add to it again. According to Jim Hanna, the director of sustainability for Starbucks, climate change is threatening the world’s coffee supply. “What we are really seeing as a company,” Hanna said, “as we look 10, 20, 30 years down the road — if conditions continue as they are — is a potentially significant risk to our supply chain, which is the Arabica coffee bean.” And if you prefer beer to coffee, be very afraid: It’s on the list of imperiled pleasures, too. Unfortunately, these aren’t the only shortages at stake. Climate researchers also believe that polar bears and many other animals — maybe even humans — are or will be literally shrinking because of the effect of climate change on their habitat and food supply. Looking on the bright side, though, it’s pretty clear that Al Gore could stand to lose a few.
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team
(Please pray for our Armed Forces standing in harm’s way around the world, and for their families — especially families of those fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, who granted their lives in defense of American liberty.)
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