“The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.” –Patrick Henry
GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Instead of discretionary spending topping out at $967 billion in 2014 (down from $986 billion in 2013), next year’s spending will increase to $1.012 trillion and then $1.014 trillion in 2015. The increase is split between defense and domestic programs, giving both parties something. To “pay” for $63 billion in new spending for the next two years, there will be, over 10 years, $85 billion in savings from new fees (such as for airport security) and minor reforms to entitlements and other government programs. The Big Three entitlements are the biggest drivers of the federal debt, and chipping away with small reforms is better than nothing.
As with any compromise, not everyone is happy. The Wall Street Journal reports, “More than 20 conservative leaders signed a statement released Tuesday opposing any deal that raises spending levels or increases revenue. They included the leaders of the Family Research Council, the Tea Party Patriots, the tea party-aligned FreedomWorks and the American Conservative Union.” And as commentator George Will wryly observed, “saving” $23 billion over 10 years “is a rounding error on the [$17 trillion] debt. … It’s trivial.”
We share Heritage’s objections, but allow us to offer a slightly different strategic perspective. First, this budget deal certainly doesn’t adequately address the core problem: The federal government spends far too much money. The sequester wasn’t ideal, but at least it reduced spending growth and it was already law; undoing it seems counterproductive. However, as Ryan notes, “This bill reduces the deficit by $23 billion, it does not raise taxes, and it cuts spending in a smarter way. I see this agreement as a step in the right direction.”
Ryan is looking beyond the next two years with an eye toward addressing long-term debt. Yes, conservatives want far more than he was able to accomplish this time, but to achieve that we have to win elections. And to do that, conservatives must not lose sight of the primary objective for 2014 and 2016, which is to ensure Democrats are saddled with the disaster of ObamaCare. Sometimes the cost of strategic objectives is high.
Don’t interpret our analysis as surrender, when in fact it reflects the best strategic option at our disposal now – other than taking up arms and marching on Washington, which we think might be the second best option!
The Free Enterprise Model
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ECONOMY, REGS & TAXES
Income Redistribution: Last GM Shares Sold
When the Obama administration put taxpayers on the hook for $49.5 billion to prop up the auto giant, the government received in return a 60.8% stake, or 912 million shares, in GM. With the sale of the remaining shares, the government recovered $39 billion of the bailout. For those in the administration who can’t apply basic math, that’s a $10.5 billion difference – a far cry from Obama’s “every taxpayer dollar” repaid claim.
Naturally, the president omitted this small fact in his announcement, instead touting his refusal to let GM fail and bragging that his administration “bet on what was true” and “that bet has paid off.” In no other arena – indeed, in no sane reasoning anywhere – would a 21%, $10.5 billion loss be called a payoff. Indeed, it certainly didn’t pay off for the American taxpayer. But then again, none of Obama’s policies have, so why would we expect this one to be any different?
Patriot Act Author Challenges NSA
In a March Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified that the National Security Agency (NSA) does not – at least “not wittingly” – collect massive amounts of information on Americans. In May, of course, NSA contractor Edward Snowden stole and released a vast trove of information on NSA programs, revealing that the NSA does, in fact, collect records on virtually every phone call made in the U.S. among other sweeping electronic surveillance. That led Clapper to apologize for his “misleading” statement.
Patriot Act author Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) now wants Clapper fired and prosecuted for lying to Congress. He also wants NSA director Keith Alexander fired for overseeing the mass surveillance. Something tells us, however, that neither will happen.
Furthermore, Sensenbrenner introduced the USA FREEDOM Act, which seeks “To rein in the dragnet collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and create an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC.” The prospects of Sensenbrenner’s bill are unclear.
CULTURE, SCIENCE & FAITH
Air Force Removes Nativity
The ironically named Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) pressured officials at Shaw to remove a Nativity scene after allegedly receiving some small number of complaints from offended Airmen. Paul Loebe of the MRFF wrote, “It was very sectarian in nature and a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution as well as a blatant violation of Air Force Instruction 1-1, Section 2.11.” Nothing could be further from the truth, but that’s what these leftists specialize in – obfuscating truth and spreading lies.
By the way, the MRFF is run by Mikey Weinstein and is causing all the trouble over the oaths. Evidently, the military fears Weinstein, and he needs only make a phone call to have religious liberty suppressed. Besides, it is the Christmas, er, holiday, uh, winter solstice season in which certain displays of joy, um, intolerance are attacked and banned by the Left.
Pittsburg Tribune-Review: “Under ObamaCare, employers with at least 50 employees must offer qualifying health coverage to full-timers. By 2015, this provision is projected to add $2.24 per hour to the cost of providing single coverage to an employee, according to [The Heritage Foundation’s] James Sherk and Patrick D. Tyrrell. … Together with the aforementioned minimum-wage proposal, ‘employers that provide health insurance would have to pay at least $13.27 per hour for workers with the required single health coverage’ by 2016, Sherk and Terrell report. If employers opt instead to pay the penalty, the cost would be at least $12.71 per hour for each full-time employee. Businesses already operating within tight profit margins would be forced to cut jobs, roll back workers to part-time hours or both, thereby eliminating what typically are first-time employment opportunities. The minimum-wage proposal and what’s already contained in ObamaCare will do considerably more economic harm than any conceivable good.”
Re: The Left
Columnist Arnold Ahlert: “There is a sense of unraveling that transcends the normal ideological disagreements that have roiled this nation to varying degrees throughout our history. Both sides of the ideological divide have endured presidents with whom they disagree, sometimes vehemently. Yet I’m getting the sense that millions of Americans of every stripe are now aware that we are in uncharted waters. We are being led by a man who is at once so very full of himself, even as virtually everything that goes wrong is either something he is unaware of, or someone else’s fault. It is remarkable that in the entire five years after this president promised to fundamentally transform the United States of America, not a single reporter has asked the ultimate question: Transform it into what, Mr. President? We have three more years to learn the answer. For millions of Americans, it doesn’t get any creepier than that.”
Faith and Family
Columnist Mona Charen: “Obama spoke about income inequality in a recent address but failed to mention one of the most significant contributors to rising inequality in America: the marriage gap. … Unlike trust funds, marriage is available to everyone and confers the same benefits on the rich and poor. There is no substitute for two married parents who care for each other in sickness, spell each other in child and elder care, watch the kids while a spouse takes night classes and contribute to thriving communities. … Without the basics of security and permanence in their personal lives, people find it much more difficult to rise out of poverty or maintain middle class lifestyles. They are also far less happy. If you care about the poor and the middle class, you ought to worry about marriage.”
For more, visit The Right Opinion.
Columnist John C. Goodman: “We have spent $15 trillion ‘fighting’ poverty since 1965 and we are currently spending $ trillion a year – an amount equal to about $22,000 per poor person or $88,000 for a family of four. Yet our poverty rate today (16%) is higher than when we started (14%)! If there has been a War on Poverty, poverty won. Is it not obvious that we are subsidizing and enabling a way of life? To put it bluntly, we are paying young women to have children out of wedlock. We are paying them to be unemployed. And we are paying them to remain poor.”
Barack Obama: “When I took office, the American auto industry … was on the verge of collapse. … In the midst of what was already the worst recession since the Great Depression, another one million Americans were in danger of losing their jobs. As president, I refused to let that happen. … When things looked darkest for our most iconic industry, we bet on what was true: the ingenuity and resilience of the proud, hardworking men and women who make this country strong. Today, that bet has paid off. The American auto industry is back.”
The BIG Lie
Barack Obama: “When we do things right, they don’t get a lot of attention. If, on the other hand, you’ve got an office in Cincinnati, in the IRS office that … is trying to streamline what is a difficult law to interpret … and they’ve got a list, [then] suddenly everybody’s outraged. … I’ll point out that there are some so-called progressives … perceived to be liberal commentators who during that week were just as outraged at the possibility that … the Democratic Party, in some way, discriminated against these folks.”
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes: “I think everyone at this table agrees that [the Tea Party is] bad for the country, really bad for the country, terrible, destructive in all the ways we talk about all the time. … I think what you’ve seen with the Tea Party is they are reckless. I mean, they are reckless with the country. They’re reckless with people’s lives, but they are also reckless politically.”
MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry: “I want to talk today about a controversial word. … A word that was originally intended as a derogatory term, meant to shame and divide and demean. The word was conceived of by a group of wealthy white men who needed a way to put themselves above and apart from a black man. To render him inferior and unequal and to diminish his accomplishments. … Y’all know the word that I’m talking about: ObamaCare. … Short of bringing about world peace before he leaves office, the Affordable Care Act will loom large in the president’s legacy as the singular accomplishment of his two terms.”
From the ‘Non Compos Mentis’ File
Barack Obama: “I think Joe Biden will go down in history as one of the best vice presidents ever.”
Message from “Santa” by environmental group Greenpeace: “Dear children, regrettably I bring bad tidings. For some time now, melting ice here in the North Pole has made our operations and our day-to-day life intolerable and impossible and there may be no alternative but to cancel Christmas. I have written personally to President Obama, President Putin – all world leaders. Sadly my letters have been met with indifference. Needless to say these individuals are now at the top of my naughty list. My home in the Arctic is fast disappearing and unless we all act urgently then I have to warn you of the possibility of an empty stocking forevermore. Please help me.”
Comedian Jay Leno: “This winter storm has left thousands without electricity. It’s as if President Obama had taken over the power companies.”
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team
Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform – Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen – standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families.
Read more excellent articles at The Patriot Post
- Monday Digest News From the Swamp: Spending Deal Near + More (papundits.wordpress.com)
- Mission Accomplished – or Not + More – Wednesday Digest (papundits.wordpress.com)
- Leaders in Congress unveil two-year budget deal (usatoday.com)