Author Archives: Matt Vespa

About Matt Vespa

I'm a staunch Republican and a politics junkie who was recently the Executive Director for the Dauphin County Republican Committee in Harrisburg. Before that, I interned with the Republican Party of Pennsylvania in the summer of 2011 and Mary Pat Christie, First Lady of NJ, within the Office of the Governor of NJ in 2010. I was responsible for updating his personal contact list. My first political internship was with Tom Kean Jr's. U.S. Senate campaign in 2006.

The Lonely Position of Neutral

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I hate raising taxes.  I find high tax rates immoral.  However, we lost the election.  An increase in revenue is inevitable.  What’s perverse about this whole episode is that if we fall off the cliff – Democrats will get everything they want. They’ll get their tax increases, their revenue, and defense cuts.  They would complete their decade-long project of ending the Bush Tax Cuts and gutting of the Pentagon.  They have no incentive to meet us halfway, or negotiate in a meaningful way to make sure the markets don’t tank.  They don’t need to.  They won.  In the meantime, Americans should prepare for the worst.

Since the tax hikes from falling off the cliff are far more severe, I’ve written in previously that Republicans will have to swallow the concept of raising taxes.  However, there is latitude within this debate.  Republicans should press Democrats to increase the tax rate on those making $500,000 a year, instead of $250,000.   As George Will aptly noted on This Week a few months ago, a Chicago school principal with twenty years experience, who is married to a cop with twenty years experience, is almost rich in the eyes of the Obama administration.  Cops and school principals aren’t your typical fat cats, hence this is an area where conservatives on the Hill could construct a narrative that this tax increase – within this particular income bracket – a) isn’t really hitting the rich and b) effects professions associated with the middle class.

There’s been some movement towards pushing the amount of taxable income above the $250,000 bracket, and addressing other areas relating to federal spending.  As Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane at The Washington Post wrote on December 9, continued negotiations have produced the following:

●Fresh tax revenue, generated in part by raising rates on the wealthy, as Obama wants, and in part by limiting their deductions, as Republicans prefer. The top rate could be held below 39.6 percent, or the definition of the wealthy could be shifted to include those making more than $375,000 or $500,000, rather than $250,000 as Obama has proposed.

Obama wants $1.6 trillion over the next decade, but many Democrats privately say they would settle for $1.2 trillion. Boehner has offered $800 billion, and Republicans are eager to keep the final tax figure under $1 trillion, noting that a measure to raise taxes on the rich passed by the Senate this summer would generate only $831 billion.

●Savings from health and retirement programs, a concession from Democrats necessary to sell tax hikes to GOP lawmakers. Obama has proposed $350 billion in health savings over the next decade. Boehner has suggested $600 billion from health programs, and an additional $200 billion from using a stingier measure of inflation, reducing cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients.

●Additional savings sufficient to postpone roughly $100 billion in across-the-board agency cuts set to hit in 2013, known as the sequester, and to match a debt-limit increase. The sequester, perhaps paired with an automatic tax hike, could then serve as a new deadline, probably sometime next fall, for wringing additional revenue from the tax code and more savings from entitlement programs.

I like the fact that liberals are willing to increase the rates on those making $500,000, which we can fix if we retake Congress in the 2014 midterms.  However, concerning the entitlement spending, I want deeper cuts that are also immediate.  Nevertheless, the dynamic is the same – and it’s no love fest.

As Meredith Shiner and Daniel Newhauser of Roll Call wrote in the early morning hours on December 11:

…the primary differences between the two sides remain. Boehner’s office said the speaker is waiting for the White House to come back to Republicans with more spending cuts. And the White House says the president is waiting for the GOP to give more on revenue. Two years of fighting over how to rein in the federal debt is now coming down to two weeks of deal-making at best and he-said/she-said at worst.

“The Republican offer made last week remains the Republican offer, and we continue to wait for the president to identify the spending cuts he’s willing to make as part of the ‘balanced’ approach he promised the American people,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, who confirmed conversations with the White House “are taking place” but declined to specify the nature of those talks.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One that Obama has offered specifics on cuts — pointing to the president’s original deficit reduction plan that has repeatedly been dismissed by the GOP. Carney added that the Republicans are the ones stalling talks by not giving more detail on what they would be willing to do on revenue.

Frankly, both deals are bad. I’m not happy with either of them.  I know that caving on our principles won’t make liberals like us better.  Yet, as in the 2012 election, it’s all about messaging and making the argument.  Barack Obama pervasively made the argument that Bush ruined the economy, and raising taxes will fix it.  Mitt Romney and his communications team, which was always on defense, never made the argument against this claim. Conservatives don’t have the high ground in this fight.

Montgomery and Kane wrote that “a Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll last week found that a majority of Americans would blame the GOP if talks between Obama and Boehner fail to avert more than $500 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts set to hit in January, potentially sparking a new recession.”  Now, Pew and WaPo are left-leaning polls, but it doesn’t matter. It’s almost axiomatic that the GOP will be savaged by public opinion if we go over the cliff.  While Democrats can take cover under a cloud of legitimacy and have the sober satisfaction that they’ll get what they want anyway, even if Republicans won’t budge on tax increases.

Our movement doesn’t need anymore setbacks right now.  With the debt ceiling, that’s a different debate. But for now, we may have to hold our noses and increase taxes on people making $500,000 or more, which is the only (gulp) compromise Republicans should accept on revenue.  They should also keep pressure on the White House for more immediate cuts to federal spending.  Now, while some, like NYT’s Helene Cooper, say that Obama would own the recession if we fall off the cliff, I’m still dubious if that would happen.  Some said that Obama’s extension of the Bush Tax Cuts in December of 2010 would be an albatross around his neck during his re-election campaign.  It wasn’t.  As I’ve said, I hate raising taxes, but the alternative not to, at this time, could be more damaging than the vote for them.  It should give conservatives more incentive to win in 2014.

Right now, debt talks will probably remain in neutral as the car tumbles towards the jagged rocks below.

In short:

 

In Treatment

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Yes, Republicans are in treatment after their catastrophic loss last November.  We kept our majority in the House due to gerrymandering, and we lost two seats in the Senate.  Romney’s loss was bad, but our inability to gain seats in the Senate was ignominious.  Democrats were tasked with defending twenty-three senate seats, and twelve of those races had eminently beatable incumbents.  However, due to some of our party members’ obsession with rape and pregnancy, we’re short two seats when the next congress convenes.

What’s becoming increasingly clear is that the conservative movement is on defense.  For the past quarter century, it’s been the opposite.  I dare say that progressives have gotten inside the conservative psyche with ruthless efficiency.  Furthermore, we have an operational deficit.  Democrats are eons ahead of Republicans concerning targeting future voters.  The era of Karl Rove is over, and an heir apparent is absent.  President Obama outspent Mitt Romney ten to one on social media in his re-election effort.  The other side gets it – and they look cool doing it.  Obama’s team is the best out there.  It’s the meanest, toughest, and most vicious collection of political minds we’ve ever faced – and we lost.  There’s not way Eric Fehrnstrom, or anyone on Romney’s team, would’ve been able to counter their skills.  So, where do we go from here?

Abby Livingston at Roll Call wrote on December 10 that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus announced a new initiative to tackle the issues where Republicans are lacking.  It’s called the Growth and Opportunity Project.

There will be five chairmen of the effort. They are:

  • Henry Barbour, a national committeeman from Mississippi
  • Sally Bradshaw, a veteran senior strategist in Florida and national politics
  • Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary
  • Zori Fonalledas, a national committeewoman from Puerto Rico
  • Glenn McCall, a national committeeman from South Carolina

The objective of the group, according to a release, is “reviewing past practices and also making critical recommendations for the future” in eight areas:

  • campaign mechanics and ground game
  • messaging
  • fundraising
  • demographic partners and allies
  • third-party groups
  • campaign finance issues
  • presidential primaries
  • lessons learned from Democratic campaign tactics

Politico first reported the news and also noted that a similar self-examination is occurring with the Republican super PAC American Crossroads. And last week, CQ Roll Call reported that a similar postmortem occurred with regards to Republican digital efforts in 2012.

Yes, we all should remember the infamous Project ORCA, which was an unmitigated disaster. For example, GOTV operations were virtually paralyzed in Colorado.  The price for centralizing a decentralized campaign tactic was leaving 30,000 Romney volunteers unable to conduct strike listing, make phone calls to remind Republican voters, and turn them out in general.  Never. Again.

However, even conservative grassroots organizations, like Americans for Prosperity, have to lick their wounds.  They spent close to $120 million on this election cycle, which ended with conservative influence decreased in Washington.  Concerning the loss, I asked Stephanie Fontenot, AFP’s New Media Manager, if the organization had any plans to release more ads to put pressure on Republicans to not raise taxes during the volatile fiscal cliff negotiations.  She said “as for ads – we’re doing a lot of our reach organically, really concentrating on getting our followers and activists to push this out and put on the pressure online. Twitter gives us a unique way to get our message out in a more direct way to each member and his/her staff.”

One area that Republicans  – and conservatives  – desperately need to improve on is Hispanic outreach. We cannot continue to lose the Latino vote by a margin of 75%-23% again.  Additionally, Romney lost the Cuban vote in Florida, which paints an even bleaker picture when a once reliable bloc of voters switches sides.  To put things into perspective, Bush won 44% of Hispanics in 2004.

Fontenot said that “our [the conservative] message of economic freedom affects all Americans and we seek to reach Americans as a whole. We do recognize the need to craft that  message so that everyone is able to receive it. We are currently working on op-ed’s that will be published in English and in Spanish. Our AFP-Florida state chapter sends most of their press releases in more than one language.”  I couldn’t agree more.  However, the next step is actually putting some boots on the ground to touch voters in those communities.  Hispanics have a lot that is malleable with the Republican Party. It’s time we capitalize on that with a renewed fervor.

While AFP is looking to target Latinos and use social media to articulate conservatism to the masses, it all falls on how the establishment will take this new era.  Will they continue their efforts to moderate the party?  Will they finally decide that growing a backbone is essential in this fights?  I’m not sure.  The Republican Party’s sixty minutes aren’t up yet.

Welfare State Advocate Spews Inaccuracies on PBS NewsHour

The PBS NewHour has yet to invite a hard core conservative on the program to talk about the fiscal cliff.  Last week, they had NYT’s columnist, left-wing economist, and Obama cheerleader – Paul Krugman to detail his view.  Then, they had Sen. Bob Corker ( R-TN), but the December 6 broadcast was the most interesting. PBS invited the Norquist of the left Max Richtman, of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, that we shouldn’t be in a rush to reform our entitlement spending.  After all, when the unfunded liability of both programs is around $100 trillion dollars, what’s the big hurry? Where’s the fire?

Richtman started his argument with semantics and a false narrative.  First, he wants to call these programs ‘earned benefits,’ instead of entitlement programs.  Second, it’s called welfare when the baby boomers’ parents received all of these benefits by paying next to nothing in contributing to the system.   The entire interview beset on a throne of lies.

When the question related to the solvency of Social Security arose, Richtman confidently said that this program doesn’t add a dime to the deficit. As USA Today aptly pointed out on November 27, Social Security ran a deficit of $48 billion last year.

Furthermore, Richtman thinks the American lifespan hasn’t increased.  Therefore, Medicare is safe.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s talk about Medicare again for a moment…

MAX RICHTMAN: OK.

JUDY WOODRUFF: … the other large so-called entitlement program.

We heard — we have heard a lot of conversation about raising the eligibility age. We know Americans are living longer. Why isn’t that a reasonable solution? President Obama himself has said that’s something that should be considered.

MAX RICHTMAN: Well, it’s not true that — as you know, not all Americans are living longer.

We might be able to do a program like this for a long time, but there are some jobs that are much harder to continue working and have health care benefits and have those available.

Raising the age for eligibility in Medicare would be particularly hard on communities of color. These are people, for the most part, they tend to have poorer health conditions at an earlier age. They have accumulated less wealth to pay for health care out of their pockets between, let’s say 65 and 67 because of lower lifetime earnings, and they have shorter life spans. So we don’t need to do that. We don’t need to look at reducing benefits, whether it’s by raising the age for eligibility or means-testing the program or charging seniors more.

This is a lie.  And Woodruff made no effort to correct him in this area.  Even John Podesta’s Think Progress and National Public Radio posted stories showing that the elderly Americans are living longer, are healthier, and have increased their chances of living to eighty-five or older.   Pharmacology has increased American life by almost two decades, and it’s rather amusing to see those on the left omit this accomplishment since it chips away at their welfare state narrative.   In terms of a percentage, Americans who are 85 and older represent the fastest growing segment of the population.  Demographics don’t lie, and math, not the reformers of our welfare state, are the enemy.

Now, Richtman says they aren’t against reform.  They’re just against reform right now.  Nothing is more indicative of an organization that prefers to kick the can down the road.  Richtman’s grand plan for reform rests with “improving the efficiencies of the programs, by maybe bringing in some more revenue, [but] not going back to the old mantra of let’s cut, cut, cut.”  Yes, tax increases are the option of choice for liberals for any economic defect.  As for “improving the efficiencies.” I commend Richtman for being purposefully vague.

As Christmas is approaching, there is one item on my list.  Invite Grover Norquist on the PBS NewsHour.

 

AFP-PA presents taxpayer Xmas list, urges PA governor to reject exchange program

It’s Christmas Winter solstice/holiday time – and Governor Corbett seems tepid to reject the federal-state health care exchange program, which will be instituted under Obamacare.  Mitt Romney implemented a similar program, at the state level, when he was Governor of Massachusetts – which explains why conservatives were unable to make the 2012 election a referendum on Obamcare.  As Grace-Marie Turner at Forbes wrote in her column on December 1o, “at least 21 states have said they definitely or probably will not set up state exchanges, with Ohio, Wisconsin, Maine, Nebraska, South Carolina,Georgia and Indiana most recently joining the opposition.”

Furthermore, concerning American enterprise – and the nation’s socioeconomic fabric as a whole – Turner added:

Businesses: Companies with more than 50 employees are searching for ways to avoid the penalties for not complying with the law’s employer mandate. They must either provide government-approved health insurance or pay a fine of $2,000 for each full-time worker. But companies can escape the fines if they make the painful decision to cut workers to part-time – defined in the law as less than 30 hours a week.

Denny’s franchise owner John Metz of Florida said he would “love to cover all employees” with health insurance, “but to pay $5,000 per employee would cost us $175,000 per restaurant, and unfortunately, most of our restaurants don’t make $175,000 a year. I can’t afford it.”

Religious leaders: The Obama Administration’s decision to force employers to provide access to contraception, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization at no cost to their employees has prompted 40 lawsuits by Catholic dioceses and other organizations claiming it violates their First Amendment protection of religious liberty.

Although churches themselves are exempt, the mandate applies to religiously affiliated hospitals, colleges, charities and social service agencies. Cardinal Timothy Dolan recently said the Catholic Church will “not obey” the Obama Administration’s HHS mandate, a policy he classified as “immoral.”

In the Keystone state, Jennifer Stefano, State Director for Americans for Prosperity- Pennsylvania, is holding a rally in Harrisburg this week to support the taxpayers and economic freedom. She’ll be presenting a “taxpayer’s Christmas holiday wish list.”

Americans for Prosperity to bring Santa and “Naughty/Nice List” to State Capitol

Hosting Press Conference to Urge Governor Corbett to Reject Health Care Exchange

Washington Crossing, PA— Americans for Prosperity-Pennsylvania (“AFP-PA”) will host a press conference this Thursday, December 13th at the state capitol to urge Governor Corbett to put Pennsylvania on Santa’s “Nice” list. The group is joined by Santa Claus, Representative Gordon Denlinger, doctors, and business leaders who want Governor Corbett to reject a state health care exchange and support other policies that lower the state tax burden.

“Americans for Prosperity is proud to bring Santa Claus to the Capitol to present the ‘Taxpayer’s Christmas wish list’,” explained Jennifer Stefano, state director of Americans for Prosperity. “At the top of that list is for Governor Corbett to announce he will fully reject setting up a state or a joint federal-state health care exchange.”

WHAT: Press conference to urge Governor Corbett to opt out of the state health care exchange.

WHEN: Thursday, December 13, at 10:30am

WHERE: Pennsylvania State Capitol Rotunda

WHO: Representative Gorden Denlinger (R – Ephrata)

Jennifer Stefano – State Director of Americans for Prosperity – Pennsylvania

Leo Knepper – Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania

Nathan Benefield – Commonwealth Foundation

Kirby Sensenig – President of Richard Sensenig Co.

Dave Nace – Wickersham Construction

Anna McCauslin – Manufacturer & Business Association

Dr. James W. McManaway III – Pediatric Ophthalmalogist

Twenty other states have chosen not to establish a state level exchange as provided for in the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). The deadline for the Governor to inform the federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services if Pennsylvania will be establishing an exchange is Friday, December 14, 2012.

Rep. Denlinger submitted a letter in July, which he re-submitted on December 4, 2012, urging Governor Corbett to opt out of the state level exchange as well as the Medicaid provision of the ACA, which this summer’s Supreme Court ruling made optional. Forty-seven (47) other state legislators signed the letter.

Stefano said of the letter, “We thank Rep. Denlinger and the other representatives who have taken a bold stand for the people of Pennsylvania.  They join a growing number of Governors and state legislators across America who are standing up for working families and small business owners this Christmas season.”

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Jennifer Stefano at [email protected] or call 610-207-7901.

Paul Blart Could’ve Done Better in Benghazi

Well, it seems that mall security could have done a better job protecting our compound in Benghazi.  According to Kerry Picket, who recently made her move to Breitbart News, “a source with personal knowledge of the security situation in Benghazi … were shocked to learn State Department security personnel agents were not immediately armed. Additionally, agents separated from Ambassador Chris Stevens left to retrieve their M4 weapons in a separate building. Only one returned to protect the Ambassador, while the other two hunkered down in the barracks, the source relayed.”

Picket, who posted the story Dec. 10, also wrote that her source said:

“From the accounts I read, those guys were not ready. When the attack came that night, they had to go back to the other room and grab their weapons. Then the worse part about it was they never even returned to be with the Ambassador. One returned to be with the Ambassador with his rifle. The other two went back to where there were [sic] barracks. And two stayed in that same building where there were radios and other weapons and the safe and other stuff was there.

There were no shots fired in return. On the embassy property, just the embassy property, none of those security agents blasted a single bullet from a single pistol or rifle at all in defense of the Ambassador—nothing.”

Furthermore, during this closed hearing, where this information was ascertained, representatives on the panel were “inquisitive.” And demanded to know what was going on the night Ambassador Stevens was assassinated.

The source described, “Part of the problem was they never really wanted to fully staff it [consulate], and so the numbers were really low.” He then added, “At one point in time they only had one State Department (security) personnel there in Benghazi. That was in April.”

Picket added that:

State Department Security personnel at the Benghazi embassy were each armed with M4 long guns and side pistols. In October, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charlene Lamb testified on Capitol Hill to the House Oversight Committee that during the attack, security agents raced to a separate building to get their weapons and tactical gear but only one of the agents could return to the Ambassador, thereafter.

“Gunfire was heard from multiple locations on the compound. One agent secured Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith, the information management officer, in the safe haven, “she said. “The other agents retrieved their M4 submachine guns and other tactical gear from Building B. When they attempted to return to the main building, they encountered armed attackers and doubled back to Building B,” Lamb added.

According to the Breitbart News source, the State Department security agents are “six week temporary duty assignments.”

This new development brings to new light the level of negligence that was displayed by the administration by not protecting Ambassador Stevens in a political hot zone.

Six Degrees of Grover Norquist

Grover Norquist is evil. Grover Norquist is an impediment to good governance. We’ve all heard the pundits detail – ad nauseum – about how the founder of Americans for Tax Reform is a pernicious force within our political discourse. However, what’s depraved about this whole episode in Norquist bashing, which I’m sure he’s thoroughly enjoying, is that it’s beginning to become part of the liberal lexicon to marginalize conservative principles. Or to put in another way, anything that’s against the liberal agenda is Norquist-esque. Hence, why it seems that liberals find little Grover Norquists in every level of conservative activism. The left’s latest target is NumbersUSA.

Jane C. Timm of MSNBC wasted no time in smearing Roy Beck, Founder of NumbersUSA, as the “Grover Norquist of the anti-immigration lobby” in her December 4 column. Beck’s organization seeks to curb the levels of immigration into this country. However, they aren’t anti-immigrant. In fact, Roy Beck has written that:

Nothing about this website [or this organization] should be construed as advocating hostile actions or feelings toward immigrant Americans; illegal aliens deserve humane treatment even as they are detected, detained and deported. Unfortunately, to write about problems of immigration is to risk seeming to attack immigrants themselves. Even worse is the risk of inadvertently encouraging somebody else to show hostility toward the foreign-born as a group.

I encounter too many immigrants and children of immigrants in daily affairs where I live in northern Virginia to take those risks lightly. From five continents, members of immigrant families have passed through my home, especially in the persons of friends of my sons. They are among the physical therapy patients of my wife; they are participants in youth activities which I lead; they are friends at my church, which has received national recognition for creating local service to new immigrants; they are neighbors; they are business clerks and owners where I trade.

Thus, as is the case for millions of other Americans, I have a very personal stake in not wanting to provoke hostility or discrimination toward the foreign-born who already are living among us.

But our kindly feelings toward immigrants must no longer stifle public discussion about the effects of immigration numbers.

One area of discussion centers on the increasing amount of immigrants dependent on government welfare programs. According to Judicial Watch’s report on the subject, which was released in April of 2011:

[The] census Bureau data reveals that most U.S. families headed by illegal immigrants use taxpayer-funded welfare programs on behalf of their American-born anchor babies. Even before the recession, immigrant households with children used welfare programs at consistently higher rates than natives, according to the extensive census data collected and analyzed by a nonpartisan Washington D.C. group dedicated to researching legal and illegal immigration in the U.S.

The results, published this month in a lengthy report, are hardly surprising.Basically, the majority of households across the country benefitting from publicly-funded welfare programs are headed by immigrants, both legal and illegal. States where immigrant households with children have the highest welfare use rates are Arizona (62%), Texas, California and New York with 61% each and Pennsylvania(59%).The study focused on eight major welfare programs that cost the government $517 billion the year they were examined. They include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for the disabled, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), a nutritional program known as Women, Infants and Children (WIC), food stamps, free/reduced school lunch, public housing and health insurance for the poor (Medicaid).

Food assistance and Medicaid are the programs most commonly used by illegal immigrants, mainly on behalf of their American-born children who get automatic citizenship. On the other hand, legal immigrant households take advantage of every available welfare program, according to the study, which attributes it to low education level and resulting low income.

Without a doubt, immigrants are keeping the United States more economically vibrant than Europe – which has become older and grayer over the past decade. However, the amount of immigrants trapped within the webs of the Democrats’ dependency agenda is a legitimate topic of debate. It strikes at the heart of equality of outcome vs. equality of opportunity. What good are immigrants if they become entangled in a welfare state? That isn’t necessarily living up to our reputation as the land of opportunity.

However, any such diversion from the liberal narrative, which is amnesty, is derided as anti-immigrant. The passage of the STEM Act on November 30, mostly along party lines, showed the deep divide liberals and conservatives have on the issue. According to Elise Foley at The Huffington Post, who reported on this development, “Democrats opposed the bill because they want a more comprehensive approach, Republicans argued a piecemeal process would be a better path forward.” The bill increased visas for foreign nationals studying to earn advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Timm concluded her piece with a rather frivolous question asking Beck if he “see similarities with Norquist’s role on taxes.” Of course, he does. Beck said, “in terms of style, there are some similarities between us, but he asked people to sign a pledge—that’s airtight…we are not that way. There are sometimes reasons for compromise…and you know…Grover Norquist is an open borders kind of guy.” He also filed a response to Timm’s piece on the same day. In his column, he wrote:

I spent about 90% of my long interview with the MSNBC reporter talking about how I created NumbersUSA in 1996 to carry out the recommendations of the bi-partisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform that was chaired by the late civil rights icon Barbara Jordan — and about how that commission was responding to a two-century debate about how loose or tight immigration policy should make the U.S. labor market. Looser labor markets hold down wages, while tighter labor markets push wages up and press employers to greater degrees of efficiency to justify the higher wages. The Barbara Jordan Commission (video) came down on the side of a tighter U.S. labor market. So does NumbersUSA.

In fact,”the commission found that the renewal of mass immigration over the last 30 years has created great economic injustices against the most vulnerable members of our society. Fighting against those injustices has always been at the heart of NumbersUSA’s activism, although neither that nor the commission itself was mentioned in the long MSNBC article.” Does this mean Rep. Barbara Jordan is anti-immigrant? In one category, Congresswoman Jordan proposed an:

elimination of other family-based admission categories, including:

  • Adult, unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens;
  • Adult, married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens;
  • Adult, unmarried sons and daughters of legal permanent residents; and
  • Siblings of U.S. citizens.

Furthermore, she recommends that the level of admission for immigrants be set at 550,000 per year. That’s close to the NumbersUSA immediate goal of 500,000, which Beck describes as “a great compromise with contending interests.”

To say that Beck is the Grover Norquist of the immigration debate is a stretch. This is becoming a default setting for liberals when they lose legislative battles, or see outcomes they find unpalatable. One man cannot stop the massive leviathan of American government and to assume that Norquist, or Beck, could is absurd in the extreme.

The fact is that both sides are split on this issue. Republicans have the business wing and the conservative wing duking it out over this area of policy. Free-market conservatives, who favor a more lenient policy towards immigrants, especially illegals, since they provide a source of cheap labor, against cultural conservatives, who wish to see federal immigration laws more stringently enforced in the country. There’s nothing controversial about law and order.

Democrats have their tolerant wing and big labor fighting over what to do on immigration. Big labor hates losing contracts due to the cheap labor illegal immigrants provide, while tolerant liberals wish to emulate Lady Liberty without exception. Hence, why it’s been a nightmare to pass comprehensive reform in Congress.

Nevertheless, Beck and NumbersUSA represents a part of the debate, and they’re grounded in principle. They must have known MSNBC wouldn’t have been nice to them in their coverage, but they agreed to the interview anyway to articulate their positions. Immigration will be a highly salient issue for many years to come due to the demographic shift it has instigated. Republicans faired poorly with Latinos, and groups like NumbersUSA, will be at the forefront to give their opinions on how conservatives should frame the narrative. Groups who are more moderate than NumbersUSA should also made themselves known in this discussion. Let the great debate begin.

Speaker Boehner – What Are You Doing Up There?

Is it revenge of the squishy Republicans?  It sure isn’t the reaffirmation of conservatism within the Republican Party.  On December 4, Matthew Boyle at Breitbart reported that the House GOP had begun purging conservatives from various committees.  In a time when Republicans need strong, principled conservatives to thwart the aggressive expansion of the state under Obama, Speaker Boehner and company inanely decide that they’re the problem.  Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.  Squishy Republicans are part of the problem.  President and CEO of FreedomWorks Matt Kibbe aptly said at BlogCon Charlotte last spring that sometimes “you need to beat the Republicans before you can beat the Democrats.”

Kibbe made the same statement at a Young Republican event in Franklin County, PA in February of 2012.  It’s a saying that’s starting to become axiomatic, especially as these debt negotiations continue to have a repetitious character of a bad deal being countered by a delusional one.  The first salvo was fired at Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) on December 3 when “Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other top Republicans were huddled in a Steering Committee meeting… that panel, which is controlled in large part by Boehner, decides who sits on the various House committees,” according to John Bresnahan Jake Sherman of Politico.

Sherman and Bresnahan added that ” Schweikert — who was en route from Arizona to Capitol Hill on Monday — will now serve on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) will replace Schweikert on the Financial Services Committee. Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman, said a member’s voting record isn’t the sole determinant of his or her committee assignments. ‘The Steering Committee makes decisions based on a range of factors,’ Steel said” – or ones grounded in a purge list. Boyle wrote that:

in remarks to the Heritage Foundation’s Bloggers Briefing on Tuesday [Dec. 4], Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp confirmed the existence of such a list. “We’ve heard from multiple sources that someone walked in with a list of votes and said if you didn’t reach a particular scorecard of what was considered the right vote – which by the way, in most cases, was not the conservative position – then [they said] ‘we’re going to have to remove you from the committee,’” Huelskamp said.

“All that took place behind closed doors, which is again a problem with Washington, D.C. – whether it’s the budget negotiations, whether it’s everything else, it’s usually done behind closed doors,” he explained. “I think, as conservatives, this is where we can win: We’ve got to be willing and able to talk about things in public instead of being afraid of actual public scrutiny.”

Huelskamp later told Breitbart News he thinks House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Whip Kevin McCarthy owe it to the American people to be transparent about this decision making process – and that they should publicly release the list.

Breitbart’s Boyle noted that the criteria within the list is unknown.  And the name of the person who initiated the purge is unknown. FreedomWorks has been urging conservatives to demand answers from Speaker Boehner.

In the final days before the start of a new Congress, John Boehner and the Republican establishment is quietly purging crucial House committees of strong fiscal conservatives, including:

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (KS) – House Budget Committee (96% FreedomWorks Lifetime Rating)

Rep. Justin Amash (MI) – House Budget Committee (100% FreedomWorks Lifetime Rating)

Rep. David Schweikert (AZ) – House Financial Services (96% FreedomWorks Lifetime Rating)

These three principled legislators have stood with the Constitution even when it was unpopular to do so. Their dedication to the principles of lower taxes and limited government is now being punished by a Speaker who would rather concede to the big spenders in Congress instead of making the tough choices.

Call John Boehner and tell him to restore these genuine fiscal conservatives to their respective committees.

Call House Speaker John Boehner Now

Office Phone Number: (202) 225-0600

Amanda Terkel at Huffington Post wrote the conservative butcher’s bill on December 4 listing:

Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) from the House Budget Commtitee. Reps. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) [who] lost their positions on the Financial Services Committee.

The four members are known for occasionally bucking leadership and voting against Boehner’s wishes. Amash, Huelskamp and Schweikert are popular with the conservative movement, while Jones has made a name for himself by speaking out against U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.

Huelskamp and Amash were also the only GOP votes against Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget plan this year, arguing that it didn’t cut spending enough. The Steering Committee recently recommended that Ryan stay on as Budget Committee chairman.

Luckily, the Senate is safe from Boehner’s reach.  At least principled conservatives, like Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), remain in a blocking position.  Chris Moody of The Ticket, which reports on politics for Yahoo! News, wrote yesterday that Sen. DeMint “slammed House Republican leaders for the “fiscal cliff” proposal they offered earlier this week.”

“Speaker [John] Boehner’s $800 billion tax hike will destroy American jobs and allow politicians in Washington to spend even more, while not reducing our $16 trillion debt by a single penny,” DeMint said in a statement. “This isn’t rocket science. Everyone knows that when you take money out of the economy, it destroys jobs, and everyone knows that when you give politicians more money, they spend it. This is why Republicans must oppose tax increases and insist on real spending reductions that shrink the size of government and allow Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money.”

I know I’ve said I’ll stomach slight tax hikes for now, but it seems Democrats aren’t going to budge on their end relating to families making more than $250,000 a year.  In fact, Moody wrote “Democrats dismissed it quickly, calling for a bill that would increase taxes on households earning more than $250,000 per year and more federal spending on infrastructure, which were not included in the Republican plan.”

While caving for tax hikes is one thing, purging conservatives in various House committees is another.  It’s simply irrational for Speaker Boehner to rid himself of the most vociferous defenders of freedom and limited government in Congress.  Conservatives are the vanguards against the usurpatory nature of government, and the implementation of a hyper-regulatory progressive state.  Does any rational person feel that a squishy Republican will exude the same amount of tenacity and steadfastness exhibited by a conservative?  No, they’ll cave, Democrats will gain ground, and the American taxpayer will pay for it.

Republicans can play with who is saddled with the tax hikes, and as I’ve said previously, a slight hike on anyone making over $1 million isn’t insane. But the spending cuts that follow need to be deep and enacted immediately.  Furthermore, most of those cuts need to be focused on curbing the welfare state.  However, with the climate becoming more toxic and Republican moderates declaring war on the conservative wing of the party – I’m starting to lean towards being more intransigent towards tax hikes.  If Democrats won’t come halfway, then we shouldn’t indulge them.

Nevertheless, Speaker Boehner seems to be making it all the more easier for Democrats to expand the size and scope of government.  What are your doing up there, Speaker Boehner?

Originally posted on The Young Cons.

 

 

Spielberg’s Lincoln Isn’t Pro-Obama

As most people, I went and saw Lincoln.  I’m no fan of biopics, but this one was rather good. In fact, it was excellent.  Daniel Day-Lewis will probably win another Academy Award for Best Actor, and it was not a pro-Obama film.  Many conservatives feared that the movie would be allegorical about the 44th president.  Steven Spielberg, Tony Kushner, and Doris Kearns Goodwin are liberal, but the film focused on how the 16th president delicately maneuvered to have slavery abolished in this country.  There is nothing liberal, or conservative, about this point in history.  I hope both sides would agree that slavery is unjust.

When Lincoln is told that the 13th Amendment was two votes shy of the 2/3 majority needed, he reminded the congressman, and some members of his cabinet, that those votes must be ascertained.  When questioned how to do that Lincoln said, “I am the President of the United States, clothed with immense power, and I expect you to procure those votes.”  Some of my conservative friends say that it’s a pro-Obama scene. I disagree.

Lincoln was a war president – and war presidents wield extraordinary power.  This isn’t controversial. It’s fact.  Furthermore, this film was in production for over ten years.  Spielberg bought the rights to Goodwin’s book in 2001, which is long before Barack Obama was on the national stage.

What should be noted is that the film shows how Lincoln was uncompromising on his position about slavery and its abolition.  He employed political operatives who used unscrupulous methods to secure votes for the amendment’s passage in the House.  Furthermore, it showed the political genius of Lincoln.  He carefully maneuvered through the dynamics of the 13th Amendment and the planning of the Hampton Roads Conference – which was a failed attempt to end the war in February of 1865.  The Confederate delegation insisted on their independence, and no deal was made.

However, Lincoln knew that if such news would break, the amendment would be finished.  Why pass such a poisonous amendment that everyone knew would be a deal breaker with the Confederacy?  Nevertheless, Lincoln’s considerable political acumen prevented disaster, and slavery was outlawed.

As I mentioned before, the film shows how compromise isn’t always the best option.  Furthermore, in politics, you’re going to have to get down into the gutter to get things done.  Barack Obama is always talking about compromise, or gives off the veneer that he’s willing to do so, but fails miserably at achieving his goals. He’s a loser.  Whereas, Lincoln saved the country, won the Civil War, and abolished slavery.  If liberal Hollywood wanted to make this film as a comparison to Obama, then they should have picked someone else.

Second, Obama would’ve hated the tactics Lincoln used to pass the amendment.  Third, Goodwin’s book was called Team of Rivals.  Lincoln had one of his political rivals in his cabinet, Edwin Stanton, to serve as Secretary of War, which was, and remains to be, a very powerful position since its reincarnation as Defense Secretary.

Do you think Obama would appoint a Republican to an equally powerful position under similar circumstances?  Lastly, Lincoln, as I’ve said before, accomplished his legislative goal.  The keyword is accomplished.

In the end, Lincoln is our greatest president.  Not only because he abolished slavery – but he also began the process that developed into the national identity we hold today.  After 1865, Americans began viewing themselves as Americans.  Prior to 1865, an intense regionalism was ingrained into our socioeconomic fabric where states were viewed as separate countries.  As such, without the evolution of such a uniting force, Americans wouldn’t have come together as strongly as we did during the Spanish-American War, World War II, or on 9/11.  Barack Obama is never, and will never, set forth a new identity like the one Lincoln managed to construct after winning the Civil War.  He simply can’t since he’s not American.  He is a citizen by birth, but concerning understanding the social dynamics and traditions of America – he’s as hopeless as Jefferson Davis.

Originally posted on The Young Cons.

Fear Thy Primary

Sen. Saxby Chambliss has decided to part company with Grover Norquist.  In so doing, he invites a primary challenge.  Representatives Paul Broun, Tom Price, and former secretary of state Karen Handel have all been maneuvering to oust Chambliss from his Senate seat in 2014.

Joshua Miller at CQ Roll Call reported on November 19 that conservatives just aren’t happy with Chambliss. Debbie Dooley, national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, did not equivocate: “Senator Chambliss is not very popular among a lot of the conservative grass roots.”

Conservatives “don’t feel he’s as conservative as the base is,” said Virginia Galloway, the state director for the Georgia branch of Americans for Prosperity. “Sometimes when he sees himself being a statesman, conservatives see him as being a sellout.”

CQ roll call continued:

The crux of the base’s concern is Chambliss’ history of reaching across the aisle to work on solutions to issues such as immigration and federal debt. Another thing that rankled some of the base: his involvement in the bipartisan effort to come up with a solution to the debt ceiling crisis as part of the “gang of six.”

Chambliss will almost certainly have a primary challenger from the right. But over the next months, the decisive factor in determining his true vulnerability is whether a GOP congress member will run or whether Chambliss will face off against a less-formidable challenger.

Heck, even conservative blogger Erick Erickson considered challenging Chambliss, but decided to take a pass last week. Aaron Blake at The Washington Post listed four reasons why Chambliss is a vulnerable incumbent on November 30.

1. While it’s not clear who might have the wherewithal to challenge Graham, there are plenty of candidates ready to challenge Chambliss. Price and Broun both have very conservative records, and Handel, of course, has a statewide resume.

2. Chambliss had a weak showing in 2008. Despite being an incumbent, he ran a few points behind Sen. John McCarin (R-Ariz.) at the top of the ticket and actually needed to go to a runoff to keep his seat against Democrat Jim Martin, who wasn’t seen as a top-tier opponent. (Chambliss did beat Martin by double-digits in the runoff, for what it’s worth.)

3. He’s from South Georgia. Chambliss is from Moultrie, which is very far from Atlanta and from most of the state’s population centers. Thus, it seems logical that a candidate from the Atlanta area could beat him by regionalizing the race.

4. He’s got a tone problem. While Chambliss has got a largely conservative record, he’s hardly a conservative favorite. In fact, when it comes to the National Journal vote ratings, Chambliss has scored more conservative than Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) the last two years, and he was tied for the most conservative senator in 2010.

While I’m not so up in arms about him filing a petition for divorce from Grover Norquist, the reality that Chambliss unpalatable to the conservative grassroots is a problem.  The power of the incumbent is omnipresent in elections; but if he, or she, finds that their relationship with the grassroots is shaky – then they should either update their resumes or quickly get cozy with them.

Money is a powerful asset, but former Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) outspent his Republican challenger, Richard Mourdock, by a 3-to-1 margin and still lost the primary.  In fact, Lugar was shellacked.  This is what happens to representatives that anger or become disconnected with grassroots organizations.

Mr. Chambliss isn’t a conservative favorite. But to say that his conservatism poses a liability, as stated by Blake, is wrong.  Republicans should primary each other based on that notion.  However, if they have a history of selling out, or working too closely with the other side, then by all means initiate the purge.  We have an American party and a European one.  Bipartisanship is very overrated under these circumstances.

Obama, GOP Throw Their Dogs In The Ring

I’m sure a lot of you exuded similar reactions to the president’s laughable fiscal proposal to prevent the nation from going over the cliff.  He asked for $50 billion in additional stimulus and $1.6 trillion in tax hikes “as part of any ‘fiscal cliff’ deal,” according to CNBC.  In all:

The plan calls for $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue over the coming decade, extending the 2 percentage point payroll tax deduction or something comparable to it, and $50 billion in stimulus spending on infrastructure projects.

The White House seeks $960 billion over the coming decade by increasing tax rates and taxes on investment income on upper-bracket earners, and $600 billion in additional taxes.

The only new spending cuts in the plan would come from administration proposals curbing health-care programs by $400 billion over the coming decade and modest cuts from non-health programs like farm subsidies and cutting Postal Service costs and through higher fees on airline tickets.

The plan would also boost spending by extending unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, deferring looming cuts to Medicare payments to physicians, and helping homeowners refinance “underwater” mortgages.

Geithner also requested the equivalent of a permanent extension of the government’s borrowing ability to avoid wrangling over the issue as in last year’s summertime crisis over raising the so-called debt limit.

Tax increases, more stimulus, and a black check on raising the debt limit.  Yeah, hell no.  It never ceases to amaze me how the president seems to forget that his mandate, if he had one, is a hollow shell.  Obama was re-elected by the 47%, who don’t pay federal taxes, while most of the Tea Party caucus in the House were re-elected as well.  Thus, the tax hike fire Obama stoked on the campaign trail was tempered by the fact that the American people re-elected a vociferously anti-tax Republican majority.  According to The Hill, they reported on December 3 that the Republican counteroffer included “$2.2 trillion [in cuts] with a combination of spending cuts, entitlement reforms and $800 billion in new tax revenue.”  Both dogs are in the ring.

Republican officials said their offer amounted to $4.6 trillion in deficit reduction when compared directly to the White House offer, which they emphasized was more than what the White House had put on the table.

In its own deficit plan, the White House counts legislation that has already been enacted, savings from future interest on the debt, and savings from the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Republicans do not count those as new savings, so their offer amounts to $2.2 trillion in future deficit reduction.

The $800 billion in new tax revenue matches what Boehner offered Obama during their 2011 negotiations for a grand bargain. Republicans are keeping to their opposition to tax rate increases, and aides said Monday they believe that $800 billion can be raised from the wealthy through other means, which their offer does not specify.

Senior Republican aides argued that their offer represented a “fair middle ground” because unlike the White House, they did not use their budget proposal as their opening bid. The House budget contains no revenue increases and included far-reaching changes to Medicare and Medicaid that Democrats consider non-starters.

So, there we have it.  We have two deals.  One is bad. The other is delusional.  Concerning Medicare, we all know that the program poses the most serious threat to our long term financial solvency.  As ABC’s Cokie Roberts said on This Week last Sunday, the nation lacks an appropriate amount of young people to keep the elderly on these programs at the current rate.  Alas, a liberal agrees that Mr. Arithmetic, not Mr. Ryan – or Mr. Republican – is the enemy of Medicare.  However, forty-two liberal members of the House have signed on to a bill that prohibits any spending cuts  to the welfare state.  It’s a game of give and take, as well all know – and I’m hoping a deal be finalized before December 31.  Furthermore, I’m hoping more Democrats see the way of Cokie Roberts when it comes to entitlement spending.

Glenn Reynolds (aka Instapundit), had a few suggestions for the GOP in his op-ed column featured in USA Today on December 3.

1. Adopt the Bowles-Simpson Plan. The plan was the product of a bipartisan commission, chaired by Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson, appointed by President Obama to address America’s ballooning deficits and national debt. Most experts agree that it’s a pretty good plan. President Obama didn’t like it because it shrinks government too much.

Tough. It’s a plan, which is more than President Obama has offered, and from a bipartisan commission he appointed. Can Obama get away with vetoing that? Can Senate Democrats get away with rejecting it and bringing on the automatic cuts and tax increases of the sequester? Doubtful. Plus, though the press tends to cover for Obama and blame Republicans, media types love Bipartisan Commissions.

2. Tax the revolving door. I mentioned earlier that Washington is getting richer while the rest of the country gets poorer. (And others are noticing this). One reason why this happens is the revolving door — people shuttle between government, where they make rules governing business, and lobbying, where they make money by taking advantage of those rules.

Well, if you want less of something, tax it. So I recommend a 50% “excess salary” surtax on the earnings of government officials on the Executive Schedule — cabinet and subcabinet officials, mostly — in excess of their government salaries for the first five years after they leave. So, leave a cabinet job paying about $200,000 for a job paying $1 million a year, and the government will take half the $800,000 difference.

[…]

3. Make Hollywood Pay Its Fair Share. At the DNC, actress Eva Longoria offered to pay more taxes. Well, back during that Eisenhower era that the Dems are so nostalgic for, there was a 20% excise tax on movie theater revenues. It was established to help pay off the post-World War II debt. Now we’re in debt again. Bring it back. For added fun, extend it to DVD sales, movie downloads and music on CDs and over the Internet. As a great man once said, at some point, you’ve made enough money. If we need more tax revenue, who better to pay it than Hollywood fatcats with their swimming pools and private jets?

In the meantime, the clock is ticking.

Republicans Will Have to Swallow Tax Hikes

As I’ve said previously, I hate tax increases, but I’ll settle if a 10:1 deal is reached.  Ten dollars of spending cuts, including welfare state cuts, for every one dollar raised in revenue.  It’s a rational deal.  If we can retake the Senate, and maintain our majority in the House; then perhaps we can discuss making other changes more palatable for the job creating and investing class.  However, in this brief time where I am open to such compromise, the chances of such a deal is unlikely.  But I’m still holding an optimistic grin.

Yes, Democrats will get what they want of we go off the cliff – and Republicans will be blamed for it. Joel Pollak at Breitbart described how Republicans were failing ‘negotiation 101.’  In his November 27 post, he wrote that Republicans need to focus on:

Framing the debate. The negotiations are now about the meaning of “revenue,” rather than about how to reduce runaway federal spending. President Obama says “revenue” and means increases in tax rates for the wealthy; when House Speaker John Boehner uses the same term, he means cutting loopholes and deductions while keeping rates the same. But both sides are talking about making the rich pay more to close the gap.

Aside from the fact that the wealthiest Americans bear a disproportionate share of the federal income tax burden–disproportionate even to their disproportionate wealth–and the fact that taxing the rich at a 100% rate would not solve the deficit and debt problem, there is a principle at stake here: that the government does not have an inherent claim to wealth and income that Americans have earned through their own labor and risk.

Arguably, the wealthy–like the rest of us–owe only for what provides the opportunity for all to earn and enjoy income in safety. Furthermore, too much of today’s public spending hurts the public–creating waste, reinforcing cronyism, and building dependency. But Republicans lost the chance to frame the debate around spending last year when they dropped the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan after obstruction from the Democratic Senate.

It’s true.  The job creating and investing class pay a disproportionate share of the taxes, but Mitt Romney lost.  President Obama campaigned heavily on raising taxes on the wealthy, and he won that argument on November 6.  This was due to Republicans not making the argument against such hikes.  Furthermore, there wasn’t even a single ad in the ’12 cycle that hit Obama on his hypocrisy surrounding the Bush tax cuts.  He extended them in December of 2010, which was a tacit agreement of Republican economic policies, regardless of the ‘hostage’ talk – which was pure drivel. I agree with Pollak that the government is taxing too much of Americans’ hard-earned money, and that it’s immoral for members to say that those monies are government property, but there was an election about this – and we lost.

In short, the reason why Republicans will be forced to raise taxes is due to the fact that we have poor leadership and bad messaging.

Media and culture. Democrats blocked “Cut, Cap, and Balance”–but the Tea Party was blamed for obstructionism. Obama destroyed a grand bargain by insisting on increased tax rates–but House Republicans suffered more media criticism when ratings agencies lowered the U.S. credit rating a few days later. Today, more Americans blame the GOP for the fiscal cliff impasse even though the sequester was Obama’s original proposal.

More is at work here than simple media bias. The Democrats have consciously pursued a media and cultural strategy to reinforce the idea that Republicans are the guardians of the rich–even though the wealthiest are actually a Democratic constituency. In the summer and early fall of 2011, for example, after the downgrade and with the economy creating net zero jobs, Occupy Wall Street began–and the Democrats latched on.

The movement failed, but Democrats salvaged the “99% vs. 1% meme,” setting a trap that Mitt Romney fell into with his comments about the “47 percent” last spring. Obama has also made the effect of spending cuts visceral for many Americans; Republicans have failed to describe the cost of debt in similar terms. That media and cultural edge allows Obama to rig the game in his favor. It’s time Republicans found an answer.

Here is the answer is simple.  It’s time to have a Reagan throwback.  Not necessarily on everything during the Reagan administration, but reconnecting with  middle class Americans.  Conservatives and Reaganites were a coalition of blue collar, middle class, ordinary, and right-of-center Americans – who took a liking to a lot of Republican policies.  For example, it explains the Arkansas bleeding of Democratic voters until Bill Clinton came into the picture.

Shifting away from Wall Street will also have a positive impact on our Hispanic outreach, since Latinos view Republicans as the party of the rich.  Yes, it’s an incorrect assumption, but it’s not to say that we can do better with the folks in the American middle class.  It’s time to challenge Democrats’ core constituency.  I’m not saying we should be anti-wealthy, or engage in class warfare, but we need to find candidates who are popular both on ‘main street’ and ‘Wall Street.’  Let’s face it.  Wall Street isn’t, and shouldn’t, come off scott-free from the ’08 financial meltdown.  On the other hand, they didn’t deserve Dodd-Frank either.

Coming back to the fiscal cliff, Republicans should insist on entitlement cuts.  After all, the president agrees with this position as well.  It’s also put him at odds with his fellow party members – forty-two of which signed on to a deal that called for zero cuts to the welfare state.  Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), in Napoleonic stature, has found her Waterloo by leading a coalition of cliff jumpers in the U.S. Senate.  To counter this, Republicans may have to take flak from the base by insisting that tax rates only rise for millionaires.  There is a winnable argument to be made that $250,000 isn’t rich when all of the mitigating elements are factored in, such as location, utilities, property taxes, state income taxes, sales tax etc.  For example, urban residents making this kind of money, and they should be congratulated on it, don’t feel rich once all the bills are paid – and they’re right.  The GOP has a winning narrative in this period between elections.

On the other hand, they can fight to keep the 2% cut in payroll taxes.  James C. Capretta wrote in National Review on November 27 that “this tax cut lowered the Social Security payroll tax from about 12 to 10 percent on all earned income (up to a limit of just over $100,000 annually). In January, if the cut is not extended, all 155 million American workers will see this two-percentage-point hike in their taxes. The Obama administration is ready to let it expire because it fears a long-term cut might create pressure for additional Social Security reform — which is precisely why the GOP should support keeping payroll taxes, as well as income taxes, as low as possible.”

Concerning entitlement reform, Capretta added that:

There should be no deal on long-term taxes without far-reaching reforms to health-entitlement programs. And what’s far-reaching? For starters, the entirety of Obamacare should be on the table for revision and retrenchment. The law sets in motion the largest entitlement expansion in a generation. It’s far better to scale the program back now before it gets started than to wait and hope it can be scaled back later.

Republican governors have substantial leverage in these negotiations because they can opt out of the Medicaid expansion in Obamacare, thanks to the Supreme Court. If 25 or so Republican governors refuse to put more people into an unreformed Medicaid program, it will put tremendous pressure on the Obama administration, which is desperate to see the Medicaid expansion occur during the president’s second term. The congressional GOP should use this leverage to move Medicaid toward fixed financing and maximum state flexibility.

Most importantly, if there are any cuts, they need to be immediate.  Conservatives stress this because in such fiscal deals during the Reagan and Bush 41 days, they were promised –  but never implemented.  While those on the left, like Matt Yglesias, think a grand bargain is impossible, and negotiations towards one is hurting the country.

Jennifer Stefano, PA State Director for Americans for Prosperity, stated in a news release on November 20 that she thinks:

 …it is funny people are criticizing the president for being abroad in Asia during this crisis. The President can be abroad in Asia and do exactly what he has been doing in the White House; which is absolutely nothing to prevent the economic calamity that will come on all Americans because of his fiscal policies..at the end of the day there are issues.  And on the issues there are things that are right and there are things that are wrong.  President Obama’s tax hikes are going to continue to crucify small businesses in this country… along with Obamacare, it is a crushing blow to the entrepreneurial spirit and as well as to the bottom line.

Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, aptly noted in Forbes on November 29 that such reforms to get our fiscal house in order will take more time, and that Congress should extend all the tax cuts for one more year.  This would provide a buffer from the cliff, and give representatives the necessary cushion to come up with a comprehensive long terms plan to tackle our debt and deficit.

This is why FreedomWorks has activated its grassroots members to call Congress with a two-part message. 1) Keep your promise on the sequester savings. 2) Pass a one-year extension of all current tax rates, so America has time to pass serious tax and entitlement reforms.

By the way, there is some good news hiding in all the dust of the “fiscal cliff” fracas. The coalition of committed fiscal conservatives in Congress has grown in the past two elections. Constitutional conservatives in the House held on to the historic gains of 2010, while the Senate just picked up three principled fiscal conservatives in Ted Cruz, Jeff Flake, and Deb Fischer to replace GOP establishment types Kay Bailey Hutchison, Jon Kyl, and Olympia Snowe.

This new generation of legislative entrepreneurs is re-populating Washington with innovative energy. Expect these principled leaders to put real specifics on the table, craft thoughtful budget solutions, and carve pathways to needed tax and entitlement reforms next year – all things Senate Democrats haven’t seen fit to do for the past 3 years.

Fiscal conservatives are once again at the table, but we won’t bargain with ourselves against an arbitrary deadline. Your move, Harry Reid.

Extending the tax cuts for one more year – I’m for it! However, there’s a fat chance that will happen.  Reid, Pelosi, and liberal Democrats won’t back a deal with such extensions.  As I’ve said, politically, Republicans have little to stand on without getting blasted by the media, and the American people.  We need to stand our ground with the spending cuts for sure.  No compromise there, but concerning taxes – they’ll have to go up.  It’s time to face reality for now.  Come 2014, hopefully, we’ll have a comprehensive tax reduction and reform plan that is palatable to everyone, and we can return to a sense of fiscal sanity.

Is It A Woman’s World?

I won’t lie.  I found Suzanne Venker’s piece about the ‘war on men‘ interesting, thought-provoking, and controversial.  In the process, she has reaped a whirlwind of left-wing hate.  It’s no surprise that today’s economy is better suited for women.  Manufacturing, the lynchpin of male labor, has collapsed – and now scores of men are left without the skills necessary to maneuver in the services economy.  Women are out-educating us, out-earning us, and out-performing us in the workforce.  In short, Venker says men are being stomped on, and we should be angry.  I couldn’t disagree more.

As Angela Morabito at The College Conservative wrote on November 28, women are just more ambitious at the moment.  Also, she disagreed with Venker, with whom she says got ‘gender politics wrong.’  As such, she injected a little Adam Smith into her argument.

It is true that women are getting more college degrees than our male counterparts.  That’s not because we are angry. It’s because you have to compete to get into college and the majority of the recent winners have been female. It is not because we are female that we have won: Competition drives the application process. Competition is what also should drive the economy. When we compete based on merit, and one team wins, all competitors improve in the process.

However, I would say that affirmative action policies also had a part in increasing women’s enrollment into higher education.  Yet, that’s a separate debate.  Furthermore, Morabito added that:

We  [conservatives] cannot be – nor should we be – the side that thinks women are too ambitious, too smart, or too driven. America needs all hands on deck to pull us out of this recession.  Individual liberty, personal responsibility, and freedom can still work for us today. These principles are strongest when everyone, including women, participates.

This is real conservative feminism: Women have the same freedoms as men and the same responsibilities as men. Wealth is allocated according to what we do with our freedoms and how we manage our responsibilities.  Gender doesn’t need to enter the equation.  The Left is going to freak out about it because they think women need special government “help.” But what we’re seeing now is that it’s just not true – we aren’t some feeble, marginalized group that flounders without Big Brother.

Yet, I feel inclined to defend Venker for a moment.  she mentioned in her column – and it’s true – that men worked to sustain themselves, find a woman, love her to death, and start a family.  We’re then happily burdened with providing and protecting our families, and that’s what we’ve been doing for nearly ten thousand years.  The system worked, and I liked it.

I’m the product of a household where Dad worked and Mom stayed home caring for me, loving me (to death), feeding me, and fussed over me.  She did this with my older brother and sister as well.  As a little tyke, I was King Tut.  Life was good.  However, the dynamics have changed, and we must adapt.  We’re a nation of two income households, but women have increased their share of bacon they bring home.

Liza Mundy has written about this shift in her new book, The Richer Sex, where she predicts that women will be the majority of breadwinners by 2030.  She calls it the ‘Big Flip.’  However, there have been many ‘big flips’ in socioeconomic history.  The Industrial Revolution, the invention of the Cotton gin, and the transition from an agrarian to a manufacturing-based economy in the U.S. are all prime examples of such shifts. But women were never as involved as they are now.  Hence, guys, and some conservative gals, shouldn’t freak out as much.  This is all part of the cyclical life of economic progression.  We shouldn’t be afraid.

Where Venker, I think, freaked out women, especially left-wing women, is her assertion that they’re the ones responsible for being incompatible with marriage due to their focus on building a career.  To be precise, Venker said that “fortunately, there is good news: women have the power to turn everything around. All they have to do is surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs. If they do, marriageable men will come out of the woodwork.”  This is troll city.  I can only imagine the uproar that would ensue if a woman told men to surrender their masculinity to be successful in the 21st century economy.  My response would’ve been similar: “like hell I will!”

On this rare occasion, I actually agree with what Lauren Boyle’s November 27 column on Huffington Post, where she noted that Venker’s piece degrades men.

So, if you’re keeping score at home, Venker has 1) implied that young men are pathetic, 2) flat-out stated that they don’t want to compete with women and 3) suggested that, if not corralled, all men want is sex and meaningless relationships without responsibility. If that isn’t offensive to men, what is?

Venker refers to the hundreds of men upon which she bases her opinions. But these men she describes bear no resemblance of the young men I know, who celebrate the successes of women in their lives and value them for their professional contributions.

Well, that’s because we know our existence depends on it! No, just kidding, but given the Republican Party’s abysmal stance with young, single women – we should embrace female advances in the workplace.  It’s very much aligned with conservative values.  After all, we’re the party that supports free market achievements.  Morabito puts it succinctly:

Conservatism, at its core, means equality of opportunity. We’re not there yet in this country, but we get closer every time we cut bureaucracy and improve our schools. This is, after all, what makes it easiest for more people to achieve at a high level. In a free market we all compete with one another. In a free market workers are valued for their skills, and not because of any union or demographic group they may belong to. The free market cares about cost and value. It does not care about male versus female.  Venker’s “war on men” is unfounded, just like the “war on women.” It’s time for men and women on both ends of the political spectrum to call for a ceasefire.

YES! Taking a step back from the gender politics for a second, the emphasis on the equality of opportunity is highly salient.  Both Republicans and Democrats used to agree on this.  However, we’ve seen a perverse reversal within American liberalism that stresses equality of outcome, which is indicative of the liberal dependency agenda. An agenda that is being implemented aggressively at the federal level by this current administration.  The more people on food stamps or any government program, equalizes the playing field, and enhances the public good.  Our constitution was never meant to be compatible with social dynamics of this nature.

Morabito sets the ground work for a winning narrative ahead of the 2014 elections.  Democrats needs to divide, identify, and exploit groups to win.  Hence, why they have a fetishistic attitude towards the ‘war on women,’ abortion, contraceptives, MediScaring, and racism – which are all tools that are successful in galvanizing a rabid liberal electorate.  That’s how Obama won in 2012.  Then again, it also helps the opposition when your side doesn’t make the argument.  Nevertheless, if Republicans can convey a message that is malleable with the 21st century economy – it will shatter the ‘demography is destiny’ narrative liberals are peddling right now.  Furthermore, telling women to not be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen in order to be marriageable also helps.

Granted, there are still jobs that are better executed by a specific gender.  Case in point, Morabito aptly says men are better suited for professional football and women are better Victoria’s Secret models. Yet, these examples are rare.  Nevertheless, I would say the Venker does focus too much on being ‘doom and gloom.’  As I’ve said before, we, as guys, need to adapt.  Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men, aptly made the observation that women are more flexible, and men are cardboard in this new economy.  That’s ok.  We just need to stretch more.

Like modernizing the messaging of conservatism, I look at this challenge with optimism.  Bring it on! As Barney Stinson would say, “challenge accepted.”

On a more personal note, it’s not a bad thing women are more ambitious to get into the trenches.  I have a sister, who is a mother of two, that works full-time in the human resources department at the Philadelphia Art Museum.  My sister-in-law does the same work at a non-profit in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.  I have two nieces, ages 13 months and two years old, and I hope they’re offered the same opportunities that were afforded to me. After all, they’re Vespas – and hard-work is a cornerstone of our family.

So, for the guys who are part of the ‘pissed off coalition,’ which Venker alludes to in her piece.  I suggest look at your family dynamics.  Are you really going to tell members of your own family, who are female, that they should surrender her femininity in order to get married?  That would be absurd.  It’s not a woman’s world, then again it’s no longer a man’s world either.  It’s not the end of men, but a beginning of an equilibrium amongst men and women in the workforce.  To keep the balance, guys need to get more animated, and stop slamming reading as a ‘girly’ activity.  When did that become a hallmark of masculinity?

Finally, let’s think of it in these terms.  As men, we’ve ruled the world since the beginning of time.  I don’t know about you, but I would be exhausted.  Thank God for women to help us pick up the slack.

Originally posted on The Young Cons.

How Falling Off The Fiscal Cliff Impacts You

I’ll say it again, Democrats want to go off the fiscal cliff.  They’ll get their tax increases – $600 billion dollars worth– their revenue increases, and cuts to defense, which has been a goal of theirs for the past ten years.  Goodbye Bush tax cuts, Hello Obama tax hikes.  With the fledgling coalition of ‘cliff jumpers’ led by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), let’s see how the impact will affect us who aren’t on Capitol Hill.

According to Paul Katzeff at Investors Business Daily, he wrote on November 16 that ending the Bush tax cuts will also be detrimental to the middle class.  Contrary to popular belief, the Bush tax cuts has beneficial mechanisms, like credits for lower income households and reductions to the marriage penalty, all of which help the middle class.  While conservatives know this, it’s hard to break the deafening noise of the liberal media.

Katzeff added:

The typical American family will be hit with an extra $3,222 in taxes, the [Tax] Foundation says. That’s based on a two-child family with median income of $74,563. The tax increase will amount to 4.32% of that family’s income. The Foundation’s analysis compares that family’s tax bill in 2011 — the latest year that an AMT patch existed — to what it would be in 2013, assuming all Bush and Obama tax cuts expire, the AMT remains unfixed and the 2% payroll tax cut also expires. The AMT keeps hitting more middle-income taxpayers because the standard deduction and certain itemized deductions such as state and local taxes do not reduce its bite. Also, its exemption does not grow automatically with inflation.

Families in high-individual-income states such as New Jersey would be hit hard by currently slated AMT changes. The AMT exemption level would revert to what it was 12 years ago: $45,000 for married joint filers vs. $74,450 in 2011. And credits such as the child tax credit would no longer be allowed to offset AMT liability.

But, contrary to political conventional wisdom, families in lower-income states, like Arkansas, would also take an outsized hit. That’s because three tax cuts that everyone will lose — the cut in the child tax credit, end of the 10% bracket and reduced standard deduction for married filers — are fixed increases that do not hinge on income. As a percentage of income, those increases will be biggest for lower-income families.

New Jersey is set to take the largest blow, with a looming tax increase on the typical family totaling $6,933.

As more Republicans flee Grover Norquist, Founder of Americans for Tax Reform, and his anti-tax pledge – it’s a forgone conclusion that revenue increases will occur IF there is a deal.  However, Republicans should ask themselves why swallow such a demand when it’s been over 1300 days since the Democratic Congress has passed a budget.  It’s not logical or moral for Republicans to cave to the soulless, rotten liberal cadre of robbers this easily during the negotiations.

The only acceptable outcome, which I would still be unhappy with, is a deal that calls for at least eight dollars in spending cuts for every new dollar in revenues.  The ten-to-one deal is even more “palatable.”  I hate tax increases – but the outcome of the election will make it hard for conservatives to hold their ground.  Yes, the Tea Party Caucus was re-elected, with the exception of a couple of members, and Obama was re-elected by the 47% who don’t pay taxes, so there isn’t a mandate – but the clock is ticking.

Concerning revenue, Republicans should push to raise the rates on those making $500,000 or more.  I’m not a fan of Warren Buffett at all – but his plan to increase the rates on the incomes of those people is reasonable for now.

  • First, he only calls for raising taxes on Americans earning more than $500,000 a year, not the $250,000 that President Obama is focused on. Families who earn $250,000 and live in major cities justifiably point out that this salary does not leave them feeling “rich.” So, raising the definition of rich would go a long way toward making these tax hikes more palatable.
  • Next, he calls for a minimum 30% tax on Americans making $1 million to $10 million or more, regardless of how this income is generated. One of the most egregious elements of the tax code is that some of America’s highest earners pay much lower tax rates than average earners, because they generate their income from capital gains or dividends or have figured out how to shelter it by taking advantage of various loopholes. This tax would ensure that most income is treated the same way.

Americans living in urban areas, with rent and other utilities, see their $250,000 income dwindle rapidly, and don’t feel rich.  They’re right.  As George Will aptly noted, a Chicago school superintendent with twenty years experience, who is married to a police captain with twenty years experience is almost rich within the tax increase parameters of the Obama administration.

As I’ve said, I hate raising taxes, but we cannot be the party that is blamed for going off the cliff.  Democrats have planted their flag on the side of willingly going off.  That’s perverse, and wrong.  Let’s be the party that said NO!  We’re the part of no.  We don’t want to cut defense by the hundreds of billions.  We don’t want $600 billion in tax increases for the American taxpayer.  We have an opportunity to blunt the trauma of falling off the cliff.

However, I also understand the political ramifications if we do have a deal – and history hasn’t been to kind to us.  John Fund wrote today in National Review that:

many old Washington hands recall that Republicans agreed on tax-increase-for-spending-cuts deals in 1982 under Ronald Reagan and in 1990 under George H. W. Bush. These deals politically damaged the party in the short run, and they also proved to be bad policy. The 1982 budget deal, which promised seven dollars in spending cuts for every three dollars in tax increases, was never honored. Congress agreed to less than 27 cents in spending cuts for every dollar of tax increases, and President Reagan came to bitterly regret his decision to approve the deal. Ed Meese, Reagan’s senior counselor at the time and later his attorney general, recalls that the 1982 deal ‘was the worst domestic-policy mistake of the Reagan administration.’

So, this time Republicans must insist the cuts be enacted immediately.  Furthermore, I like the idea Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has concerning transparency if a deal is reached.  A week-long debate on any aspect of the bill, including amendments, edits, and revisions.  All will be televised on C-SPAN for the public to see –  if they don’t fall asleep first.

Yet, we cannot forget back when “Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner admitted [last February] in congressional testimony that the administration lacks a long-term plan to deal with the nation’s soaring $16 trillion debt. “We’re not coming before you today to say we have a definitive solution to that long-term problem,” he told House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan. ‘What we do know is, we don’t like yours.”  I’ll try to temper my cynicism, but being optimistic about government is difficult.

I hope for a deal, but, at the same time, will start cashing out my investments in the stock market in preparation for the day of reckoning.

Flashback: Do You Remember Those Racist Condi Rice Cartoons?

As liberals continue to counter the criticism directed towards Ambassador Susan Rice with the race card, Eliana Johnson at National Review aptly noted how similar criticism was lobbied at Condoleezza Rice when she was nominated for Secretary of State.

In my previous post, “Deciphering Susan Rice without Being Racist” – Katrina Vanden Heuvel was exposed as using the terms “incompetent” and “liar” to describe Rice —  Condoleezza Rice. Vanden Heuvel is the editor and publisher of the far left magazine The Nation. Eliana Johnson detailed on November 21 how left-wing media outlets and members of Congress were hurling similar accusations of incompetence and politicking at Condoleezza Rice that are we seeing ahead of Susan Rice’s possible nomination for Secretary of State.

Johnson wrote that:

[Condoleezza] Rice’s nomination, noted the Washington Post, garnered “the most negative votes cast against a nominee for that post in 180 years.” As the Senate debated her nomination, Senator Barbara Boxer charged that Rice “frightened the American people” into supporting the Iraq War; Senator Jim Jeffords accused her of being part of an effort to “distort information” in the service of “political objectives”; and Senator Pat Leahy, who voted in her favor, endorsed her by saying that her tenure as national-security adviser lacked “strong leadership, openness, and sound judgment.”  

Hey, that’s racist.  But so is this cartoon by Ted Rall, who has the then-Secretary of State saying she was Bush’s ‘house nigga.”

 

Jeff Danziger, whose cartoons are syndicated in The New York Times, had a caricature of “a big-lipped, barely literate Condoleezza Rice, nursing the aluminum tubes cited by the White House as evidence of Iraq’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

Johnson is dead on in her assessment that there’s a difference when someone calls you a “house nigga,” and when someone calls you incompetent.  One is blatantly racist, while the other is isn’t.  It’s not that hard to comprehend.  Ambassador Rice misled the American people  – and we deserve answers.

President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

From Heritage, President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation.

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well as the iron and coal as of our precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Remember your thanks for today, but also the countless military families who will have an empty seat at their dinner tables tonight.

Originally posted at The Young Cons.