Sequestration and the Future of the GOP

Less than two days to go before the sequestration of $85 billion for fiscal year 2012-2013 kicks in and the weak-kneed Republicans are struggling to find a compromise that gives the President another victory. They fear another loss in public perception of their management of the American economy. This demonstrates on many levels why last November’s election gave split results.

Arguments from moderate Democrats and Republicans now emanate suggesting the need for flexibility in making these cuts. They want to give the President the authority to adjust these cuts. The President has continuously used Executive Orders to accomplish political aims beyond the intent of the Constitutional framers. Yet, curiously, he refuses to use that power in this case. This can only mean that he does not want to improve the situation. Maximal pain gives him the edge in growing the government and increasing spending despite the lack of revenue. Previously, he had to present the cuts that would result under this legislation; these could have been massaged for the benefit of the public, yet he chose to make them draconian.

In the end, he hopes to eliminate the GOP majority in the House in 2014, which would free him from lame-duck status for the last two years of his term. This is another issue given to him to demagogue. Why are we spending $2 billion in the Transportation Department to send employees to training conventions? Could this be more important than adequate numbers of traffic controllers? Does anyone expect legal challenges in this regard? So much for the argument he made on Monday.

Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano claimed that we will have less safe borders due to these cuts. They have threatened to release 10,000 illegal aliens held by ICE in Arizona due to lack of beds and manpower. This is unfortunate since these aliens have committed crimes necessitating the incarceration. Yet, the Department has started releasing some criminals ahead of the Sequester. Again, maximal pain and political punishment are meted out for a state that has opposed the President.

The Sequester has been delayed for two months which was to give both parties time to find a more reasonable and intelligent way to make the cuts to the growth in spending. Therefore, the real cuts will be about $68 billion. The Sequester was intended to be too onerous to ever occur. Yet, we are again at the last minute scarring the public. Never fail to use a crisis to get what you want. The President managed to take a rather expensive golfing trip only a week ago. No urgency then to sit down with the Congress.

The idea for this Sequester originated in the White House according to Bob Woodward. The President denied this during the election, but finally the White House Press Secretary admitted this fact. Why have the Republicans not constantly mentioned it and used it against the President as a flip-flop? The public relations disaster for the GOP is of their making. The general press will certainly support the President, but the GOP must adjust to this by creating new outlets for information

The total being saved for the entire year is less than the amount the Federal government borrows in one month to maintain the budgetary debt. This is the most important argument that the Republicans can make on the national level to gain back the White House. It robs our future generation’s wealth and threatens to bankrupt our nation. This is enough reason to make some cuts to spending. Weakened politicians see the polls holding them at fault for the Sequester, but the President ultimately will pay a price for lost jobs and weak economy.

Some Republicans are now calling for more taxes and loophole reductions. Can the Republican base ever trust these leaders if they falter on this issue. Some worry that giving the President more flexibility increases his power. Yet, the lack of an annual budget hides his already increased power through continuing resolutions. The President will never have enough taxes in place to satisfy his spending desires. Therefore, the budgetary gap will never be closed.

The national debt now approaches $17 trillion. Together with unfunded governmental liabilities at the state and federal levels, there is in excess of $70 trillion in future liabilities. There is insufficient money in the entire world to guarantee this debt. This Sequester does not reduce spending, but reduce the rate of growth. This fight will determine whether sanity ever returns to our national priorities.

On the political level, a loss for the President will embolden the opposition. This will strengthen them when they battle over the debt ceiling authorization in May. Recently, it was recognized by the CBO that over $100 billion in payments was made to people in error last year alone. This exceeds the amount of the Sequester. The federal spending has doubled since 2000. At this rate, we cannot hope to achieve a balanced budget.

The President has gotten Democrats to call for a “balanced approach” to the effort to reduce our federal budget deficit. Poll testing show this resonates with the public. It is time for the GOP to provide a definition for this term that truly is balanced. The future of the GOP as a dominant party requires this realignment. The President uses “fairness” as the mantra, but what is fair about robbing from your children and grandchildren?

Our capitalistic system will fall if private banking capital is crowded out by federal borrowing. This is the aim of our President: To weaken the system that fuels the private sector, thereby strengthening the government sector in our economy. He is already redefining the conception of “socialism” by growing the government influence over businesses rather than by direct ownership of those businesses. The regulatory control over health insurance and the banking system demonstrates this effort. Because the GOP and Mitt Romney did not make this the focus of the campaign, many stayed home and did not vote. Social issues are important, but this is the essential divide between the two national parties.


A Plea to the 112th Congress to Heed Our Founding Fathers

This article was written in January 2011 as the Republicans assumed power in response to overreaching by President Obama during the previous two years. After the fiscal cliff negotiations concluded last evening giving us a very poor compromise, it is necessary to remember that the House is our only protection from an imperial presidency. The Senate is dysfunctional and will not pass a budget nor vote on any legislation it receives from the House limiting spending. As a new House is sworn in, we can hope that some sanity will emerge and halt our glide toward insolvancy.

With new leadership in Congress, the conservative ascendancy has begun. Are Representatives John Boehner and Eric Cantor prepared to follow our founding fathers’ intentions? Our country was founded on principles rarely taught today. Opposing socialist governance is not enough. Our founders were not conservatives or progressives. As Enlightenment era of enthusiasts, who valued the individual decision maker, they resembled modern day libertarians. Founders wanted the least powerful federal government that could unite the several sovereign states. Their earlier attempt at small federal government failed when they abandoned the Articles of Confederation in 1787. The Constitution was developed with many compromises allowing the states autonomy while providing a central government that could govern a large and diverse nation. Since much of American history is taught from the prospective of an apologist, students are not given an appreciation of this great experiment in freedom. Our founders were radical in their approach, but they were not collectivists.
President Obama’s worldwide apology tour reflected the progressive theme that American individualism is grandiose and threatening to the world. When he says the country has been arrogant, he is expressing the historical approach taught in many American schools for the last 50 years. His speeches set a new tone throughout the world, but little else has resulted. Our allies’ political orientation, democratic socialism, is in contrast to our country’s “cowboy mentality” which results from our individualistic survival mode. Our President had aimed at remaking our image, but he has missed the distinction between the American and European approaches: Our system was designed specifically to limit change while the Parliamentary system encourages it. Our Constitution requires a 2/3 vote of Congress and ¾ vote of the states for an amendment. Our society may evolve. Although our Constitution may be changed, it is not “evolving document”, otherwise it cannot serve as a contract between the people and the government it created.
History textbooks often neglect the religious and social imperatives underlying the “manifest destiny” dogma. Students are rarely taught that “manifest destiny” was the moral compass for westward expansion of the nation during the 1820 through 1860’s. Religious undertones accompanied this social imperative that Presidents such as Jackson and Polk asserted. However, with the removal of religion from curricula, this expression of American exceptionalism is eliminated. Xenophobia and persecution of the Native Americans become the causes. Arguing over the amount of government rather than the effectiveness of programs cedes the point to progressives. Our founders were theists, but ensured that our government would not become a theocracy through the First Amendment. Yet, they did not intend to eliminate religion from our lives, as this is among our most precious freedoms. While liberals frequently use humanistic terminology through their concern for society, they are principally incremental socialists.
President Obama sees the Constitution as a “negative limitation” of the government. He understands the founders attempt to limit central power against the natural instinct of politicians to expand power. The President wants the Constitution to be a set a “positive affirmations” empowering the government to correct societal ills. This is socialism. However, since history lessons focus upon dates, places and names, rather than upon enduring lessons of humanity and human nature, we are ill prepared to recognize this conclusion. We become prey to politicians who want to remake this country without transparency. Historians may point to our country’s failures, but ours is an enduring attempt at freedoms. Governmental growth has not eliminated poverty, ignorance, sickness or decay of our infrastructure. Cuba, the former Soviet Union, France, and Greece give us a glimpse of our future if we continue on this path.
Great movements require social imperatives to unite populations and endure difficult times. This was the purpose of arguing against “taxation without representation” during the American Revolution. President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation gave purpose to Northern soldiers during the American Civil War. Some argue that religion serves the same purpose: to encourage humans to behave in a manner not consistent with their nature. The United States is a great movement of people toward unification without loss of individualism. Although the nation is evolutionary, our core document, the Constitution is not. Many governmental programs are inefficient and burdensome. While they originate as well intentioned efforts, few citizens can identify positives when describing the government agencies they must negotiate. Overreaching and expansion of government has resulted in budgetary deficits which threaten our greatest imperative, our survival. We must not surrender to politicians who do not respect our founding principles.
Today we are told that our politics are divisive. This has been the norm. Few are aware that our first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton, was killed by President Jefferson’s Vice President, Aaron Burr in a duel. President Washington assembled the greatest Cabinet. Yet two friends, Adams and Jefferson became bitter enemies resulting in the end of the Federalists and the creation of the Democratic-Republicans. The vitriol at that time exceeded the present rhetoric. While Jefferson opposed the expansion of federal power in the Alien and Sedition Act of 1798, he then expanded the Presidential power with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. This expansion of power stands in sharp contrast to President Washington. Few would expect pleasantries between the warring parties during the Civil War. The press, with its own political prejudices, will not support reduction of the government in its reporting. We can hope that the incoming Congress heeds this lesson.
Socialists seek government expansion. President Obama desire to “redistribute the wealth” ignores the founder’s intent. The founders desired a system of equal opportunity, rather than equal outcome. Several changes to the Constitution were necessary to accomplish equitable opportunity. First, citizenship was conferred on former slaves after the Civil War; then women were given the right to vote. Our founders were successful white males who did not seek economic equality. They thought this was not possible. They created a system that allows creative persons to flourish. The incoming Congress must not stifle this creativity and should reverse impediments already in place.
Congress cannot solve all societal ills and generally hinders creative people. The marketplace of ideas and business hold the best hope for our economic recovery. Restraining federal growth and influence is necessary. Entrenched people will fight this move aggressively as their special interests are threatened. Our long-term debt and obligations threaten our future wealth and economic vitality. This malaise can end only if the expansion of government is curtailed. We wish these leaders well and recognize the uphill battle that they face.