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.

Advertisements

The Lack of Civility Begins at the Top, But Taps into Ignorance and Resentment from the Bottom

This article was originally written in Sept. 2012 following the Democratic National Convention.

The Republican Convention was an attempt to humanize Governor Mitt Romney.  The Democrats and their surrogates have spent the past three months portraying Romney as a heartless businessman who does not care about average people.  After all, his persona is generally stiff and he is not charismatic on the television screen.  On the contrary, this is Obama’s greatest asset.  Are we voting for a successful manager or a celebrity?   This conundrum results from our poor education in social studies and civics.  Few students understand that our Constitution is a document generated by citizens limiting the powers of the federal government.  This contract between the people and the government is unique in the history of mankind as Mark Levin has shown.  Our President has remarked that he wants to fundamentally change that relationship.

Mark Levine cited the declining viewership numbers for the Republican Convention as a curious problem.  He asked why half the audience tuned into the Convention this year versus 2008.  Clearly, the press coverage has helped drive up Romney’s negatives.  The lack of enthusiasm for Romney by many conservatives has added to this decline in interest, but can’t explain it thoroughly.  The general distaste for things political is more aptly due to the many disappointments that our leaders have given us.  It is no wonder that politicians that provide new services are rewarded by re-election.  The electorate lacks the background to challenge the cost or unintended consequences.  The press selectively gives the daily news and analysis knowing that the ignorance of the public is their greatest weapon in shaping national opinion.  Much of the coverage implied that the Republicans lied during their speeches. 

A perusal of most American history textbooks from high school curricula portray the industrialists of the early 1900’s as robber barons who enriched themselves at the expense of ordinary people.  Many college texts give capitalism a negative implication.  The great wealth that results from individual efforts is rarely the model that is encouraged.  One must attend a graduate business school to study any encouragement of the entrepreneurial spirit.  Yet, most MBA programs are geared toward larger corporations, rather than small businesses. The left plays into this narrative which is underlined by Marxist theories.

The President requested that our politics be elevated while appearing in Tucson, Arizona after the shootings that killed several and wounded Representative Gabby Giffords.  Yet each day brings a reduction in the level of discourse.  This decline reflects an animosity by the President’s supporters toward traditional families, a dislike of capitalism, a challenge to individual liberty in favor of statism, and a desire to enact programs despite our ability to manage the cost.  The administration deflects from the poor state of the economy, while the opposition consistently attacks the President.   The most disturbing character of our leadership is that our President condones the animus.  The President questioned the efforts of business leaders when he said they did not build it without government support.  Obama said that the private sector was doing well.  The President’s comments demonstrate a skewed understanding of economics and enterprise which results from the biases of academia.   Commentators missed the irony that President Clinton reached out to Republicans to enact legislation that benefited the nation, unlike President Obama.

We are given a daily dose of inflammatory rhetoric from the campaigns.  Most have seen the Super PAC ads showing a like Ryan look-a-like throwing an elderly lady off a cliff.  Recently the First Lady produced an ad implying the Romney’s election would result in more cancer deaths.  The Vice President gave a speech now repeated for several days in which he discussed Romney’s plan to remove “the chains from Wall Street.  But they are going to put ya’ll back in chains.”  This, said to a predominately black audience, has racial undertones.

Hyperbole and dishonesty appears to be an often used tactic.  The California Democratic Chair, John Burton, likened the Republicans to Goebbels from the Nazi era.  They demonize Romney and Ryan, using words such as “extreme”, “hateful”, and “evil” which is meant to make them unacceptable.  Clearly, the administration’s record must be presented as interest group (such as the UAW) successes, rather than for the nation as a whole.  At the Democratic National Convention film from the campaign between the deceased Senator Kennedy and Mitt Romney was used to attack Romney.  Where is the decency in this approach?  Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC Chair, recently stated that Israeli Ambassador Oren had accused the Republicans of being a threat to Israel which was untrue.  The fight over the platform language concerning the use of the term “God” and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel demonstrates the lack of candor which is now commonplace in politics.  The press and politicians often play on the ignorance of this minutia.

The Republicans have a glaring problem which can be seen from the podium.  They advocate success and relate their stories of upward mobility in the United States.  The vast majority of Americans has not tasted this success and has no understanding of how to accomplish it.  This is the rub:  the Democrats have used class warfare because it speaks to the resentment of the majority of people.  They view Mitt Romney’s success as a negative:  he is too rich to understand normal people and is aloof and detached.  After listening to the tales of Romney’s personal commitment to families during difficult times, could anyone continue to feel that he is the Ebenezer Scrooge of Dickens tales?  But the liberals will still call for his tax returns and claim he evaded taxes in the Cayman Islands.  Stephanie Cutter continues in her position after remarking that Romney committed a felony.  The President could end this tone instantly.

After the Republican Convention, it is clear that Romney has given women a place at the table.   Now liberals will question their policies:  Do they pay equal amounts for the same work?  Will they give women full contraceptive and reproductive rights without any additional costs?  Will the gender gap close after these conventions?  The Democrats will portray the opposition as anti-female.  Sandra Fluke’s speech at the DNC was inflammatory.  Yet the Democrats complain that the speeches at the RNC were a personal attack.  Perhaps the divide is too great to bridge.  However, the class warfare employed by Elizabeth Warren conflicts with Michelle Obama’s statement that her husband does not view people differently.  The conflict between the parties deepens as the public appetite for details decreases since we cannot hold them accountable.  Our ignorance and envy of success may undermine any public discourse.  It certainly limits any chance for compromise.

Will The Re-Election Of President Obama Encourage More Violence in the Middle East?

This article was originally written during the earliest period of response by Israel to the rocket fire from Gaza in Nov. 2012.

 

During 2012 Hamas has fired over 800 missiles and mortars from the Gaza strip into Israel.  The recent uptick in firings has led to retaliatory strikes by Israel.  This resulted in the assassination of Hamas’ military leader Ahmed Jabari.  At least 450 rockets have been fired during the past three days.  Israel has called up 16,000 reservists for an anticipated ground war and possible incursion into Gaza.  Already 30 people have died in the hostilities.

 

The Prime Minister of Egypt, Hesham Kandil, visited Gaza on Friday with a hope of ending hostilities.  He has indicated that his country supports Hamas, a change from the past administration of Hosni Mubarak.  But, the violence continues.

 

The escalation was predictable.  Hamas leaders in the Gaza consistently test the leadership of the PLO and Mahmoud Abbas who controls the West Bank.  He is weak and has asked the U.N. to recognize his territory as a new nation.  That effort threatens his financial support from Israel and the U.S.  Another challenge to Palestinian unity comes from Tunisian based Farouck Kaddoumi, who called for a federation between the West Bank and Jordan.  In the Middle East the status quo is unacceptable and is exploited by hopeful challengers.

 

 Prime Minister Netanyahu has called for early elections and must be perceived as protecting his country.  Iran threatens Israel and continues to enrich uranium at a faster rate.  Such work can only be aimed at bomb production.  He has told the world that Iran will reach the red line at some time in the spring.  Does Netanyahu believe that Obama will help if he attacks the Iranian nuclear facilities?

 

The Palestinian attacks had to be answered by Israel.  Netanyahu has had a poor relationship with President Obama, though he is close friends with Governor Romney.  Obama has supported Israeli defense, but with restraint.  Netanyahu cannot expect Obama to have his back, which results in a more aggressive response.  So full war threats mount.

 

Israel has four Iron Dome missile batteries to protect the country.  Another battery is to be delivered soon.  Defense Minister Barack is seeking three more batteries.  Missile defenses have limitations:  They cannot be used when the rocket firings are too close.  They cannot hope to stop every attack.  They are reactive and not offensive.  They do not control destiny.  Therefore, a ground war is more likely.

 

The attacks on Israel have involved Tel Aviv and Jerusalem using Iranian rockets.  Iran encourages strife and turmoil through its terrorist surrogates.  Weapons abound and move throughout the region.   Thanks to the Libyan civil war efforts by the West to oust Kaddafi, sophisticated Western weapons are in the hands of Islamists.  These weapons have been smuggled to Hamas in the Gaza.  Iran uses surrogates to test Israeli defenses.  Will Hezbollah fire missiles from Lebanon and widen the war?

 

An old adage reminds us to “beware what you wish for”.  Democratization of the Middle East comes at a peril.  Islamists gain in the elections and oppose American policy. The President encouraged the Arab spring revolution which began in Tunisia.  Syria is engulfed in civil war.  Egypt has turned against America as the Muslim Brotherhood has seized control.  This was predictable as the Islamists are most organized.  Egypt receives about $2 billion per year from the U.S.  We have leverage, but Obama is loath to use it against Arab nations.  Peace is not in the offering.  The Obama foreign policy in the Middle East is under pressure. 

 

Some call for the President to engage in Mid East peace talks.  Until the Palestinians are willing to accept the existence of Israel, there can be no peace. This means the end of the “right of return”, which would lead to a Muslim majority in Israel.  Israel sought a partner in Abbas, but his influence dwindles.  He sought a seat at the UN, but was rebuffed.  America appears unengaged.  Foreign overtures by the U.S. are limited to the Afghanistan war.

 

Our influence in the Syrian crisis is limited since Russia is a continuing protectorate. Russia supports President Assad against the rebels.  Syria is also the strongest ally of Iran in the Arab world.  The hegemony continues since no Arab state is willing to engage Syria in battle.  America provided air power to assist the rebels in Libya.  However, this time the President is unwilling to do the same.  In Libya, he used air power at the behest of the Europeans; this was done without seeking Congressional support. Ironically, Libya was no longer an enemy of U.S.A. as Khadafy resumed relations with our nation after the second Iraq war began.

 

The Syrian civil war threatens to involve other nations.  Missiles from Syria have crossed into Turkey.  Will combatants decide to involve Israel in the Golan Heights and redirect the war?  The policy of leading from behind (as the administration described the Libyan effort) may allow Islamists in Syria to misjudge our resolve.  Our country provides funds to many of the players, but will this translate into influence?

 

As the hearings regarding the murder of four Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th begin, some events become evident.  People will argue whether the President was aware of the deteriorating conditions in Libya.  There will be fights over his handling of the post-attack reaction.  Our Middle East enemies will note that he was unengaged, a sign of weakness.  Every void is an opportunity for aggressive action.

 

Our low profile in Libya left a small footprint.  The Ambassador requested more security, but the

Department of State denied a greater military presence.  This policy was naive and foolish.  Radical elements in the Middle East are always testing for weakness.  Moderation has never been a hallmark of strength in the area. 

 

Our departure from Iraq has not evolved into a peaceful condition there.  Bombings occur regularly and the extreme elements of the Sunni and Shiite communities vie for relevancy.  As we draw down in Afghanistan, more extreme elements of the Taliban will arise.  The administration has shown a desire to reduce aggressive rhetoric.  Will these efforts result in peace?  Can they keep us out of conflicts?  Or will we be an unwilling victim of hostilities for years?  In the Middle East, overtures for peace have often been confused for weakness.  Weakness in the Middle East invites conflict.

 

Projection of power requires financial strength and a solid economy.  The discussions to avoid the “fiscal cliff” will help maintain this stability.  Any solution that weakens our economy will threaten our military strength.  This may ultimately lead to more hostilities in the Middle East as the stabilizing influence provided by the U.S.A. shrinks.  President Obama’s budgetary policies do not offer sustained economic growth.  In the end, spending beyond ability was the ruin of the great military empires of the past and will lead to more wars.

President Obama Is The Same Person That We Elected in 2008

This article was originally written during February 2011 while the media was claiming that the President was mainstream.

On a daily basis much of the media tells us that the President is moving toward the political center. They feel he is emulating President Clinton and will triangulate. This is quite perplexing to the outside observer since they are different personalities. President Clinton had no ideological compass, while President Obama clearly holds strong progressive views. Perhaps the most striking comment made by the President on Sunday during his interview with Bill O’Reilly was his refusal to concede a move toward the center in recent months. He stated that he is the same person that the nation elected two years ago. This reiterates the statement made by Valerie Jarrett recently. So what is going on? The President has correctly stated the situation. Will the press stop trying the help him get re-elected by putting the most favorable light on his actions?
President Clinton held no true ideology, while being a liberal. Obama is a socialist and is trying to do a head fake as commonly used in basketball. A look at many issues reveals his concern for social justice and economic reform. His programs are not capitalist in orientation. While he claims an interest in small business protection and encouragement, the policies demonstrate antagonism. How can you share the wealth without taking it from those with it?
Obama rushed to pass the Stimulus Plan in March of 2009. He rushed to get the Health Care Reform bill to Congress. The Congress used questionable methods to pass the reconciled legislation in April 2010. He had no trouble with the procedures and signed the legislation. The President insisted on rushing the Nuclear Reduction Treaty with Russia through the Senate during the lame duck session of the 111th Congress. The President in conjunction with the overwhelmingly liberal and large Democratic majority Congress succeeded in passing Investment and Banking Reform legislation. The large number of new regulations continues the progressive effort to control the business sector.
The President is a master of the head fake. He constantly spins the mid-term election results as a vindication of the need for health care reform with cost control and availability despite pre-existing conditions. But this is not the lesson of the November 2010 elections. Instead, the change in direction demonstrates the electorate’s disapproval of the policies undertaken by the President and the Congress. Nobody can say for certain which policy is at fault, but the lack of job growth, soaring budgetary deficits and less certain future must be considered. The President is the same liberal/socialist who began his career as a community organizer. The political reality of the mid-term elections has forced his hand and style. As a result, the Bush era tax cuts were extended. However, the President negotiated a reduction in Social Security withholding taxes for the employee. This will not help in creating any jobs, since it is not a reduction for the employer. This is his version of the “rope-a-dope” in which he accomplished an increase in spending while transferring income or redistribution of wealth.
The left, though some may challenge him in a primary, has no other option in 2012. The President has sought to remake the Democratic coalition. The primary support comes from the unions and government workers. Seniors have traditionally supported the Democrats due to Social Security and Medicare. However, senior support of Democrats has waned in the past elections as other policies have moved too far to the left for their tastes. As a result, the President has not been a strong supporter of the elderly. Hence, the Social Security and Medicare have not gotten the increases in funding usually supported by Democrats. The President allowed a sacrifice of funding for Medicare to ensure adequate funds for the health care reform bill. Obama did not push for an increase in Social Security funding for inflation. This transfer of money toward the youth, immigrants, and uninsured may derive from the President’s desire for social justice, but also seeks new potential voters. A desire for a comprehensive immigration reform is an attempt to court Hispanic voters.
The President reaches out in public, as he did at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce speech, but there are no changes in policy. In the speech the President offered to reduce business regulations, but failed to mention the great number his legislation added. Obama promised to “share the wealth” in 2008, but how does this create jobs? It does not. Any transfer of wealth from individuals will necessarily cost jobs, but that is the progressive approach to government. In one week the administration has unveiled several more programs aimed at government growth. On Tuesday a program to bail out states that borrowed money for unemployment insurance payments was proposed. This increase in costs for employers will not result in more private sector jobs. On Wednesday, the Vice President unveiled a program to spend $53 billion to expand rail service. Again, government solutions are offered rather than private sector ones. Our President is correct that he has not changed. Is this not socialism?
Members of the TSA are seeking unionization. The administration is behind this effort. Again, the policies are supportive of organized labor. The administration still wants to see the union “card check” legislation passed. The President still wants to see the petroleum industry limited. The EPA is still considering regulating the carbon-emitting industries. The administration has not obeyed the federal court ruling concerning the moratorium on deep water drilling. The President has chosen to ignore the rulings by federal judges against the health care reform bill. He has offered a small correction by eliminating the tax 1099 reporting requirement. This is hardly compromise.
A willing group of legislators may see a move toward the center, but this is a mistake. Watch the actions of the administration and do not let the words fool you. The President has offered a budgetary spending reduction of $600 billion over ten years, but is short on specifics. The only move toward the center can be found in style. The President is the same person the country elected two years ago. Believe him!