Tag Archives: Economy

Abject union thuggery

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We’ve all seen the video of the Lansing, Michigan union protests.  They’re mad that Gov. Rick Snyder passed a right-to-work law, which would curtail the power unions have in the state.  It’s Wisconsin reloaded.  However, the level of thuggery and violence has reached a whole new level.  Union supporters thought that they could really make a difference in this debate by tearing down an Americans for Prosperity tent, which was located outside the state capitol building.  The tent had women and children inside – and one union supporter assaulted conservative commentator and Fox News contributor Steven Crowder multiple times during the chaos.  Crowder has been receiving death threats ever since he dared to cover the event.

American for Prosperity released this statement to the press on December 11:

LANSING, Mich. – Americans for Prosperity – Michigan State Director Scott Hagerstrom today released the following statement in response to the passage of Right-to-Work legislation in Michigan:“The passage of Right-to-Work is a win/win for Michigan. Not only is this legislation critical to Michigan’s economic recovery, it is a victory for workers who for too long, have been forced to join and financially support a labor union.

“This is also a win for union protestors, even though they might not know it yet, as they will have the freedom to choose to join a union, and will no longer be forced. I commend Michigan lawmakers who courageously stood up, despite union intimidation and violence, for worker rights. “This is about giving private-sector and public-sector union members in Michigan more rights, not less, by allowing workers to chose whether or not to join a union and how their hard-earned dollars are spent. At the end of the day, Right-to-Work legislation gives workers more freedom and more rights. Isn’t that what democracy looks like?

“Despite this victory, it took place amid union brutality and violence. I am saddened by union protestors’ complete disregard for safety and freedom of speech, tearing down an AFP tent and stomping on peaceful AFP demonstrators trapped under the tent.

“Angry, violent union protestors are yelling, screaming, and physically assaulting citizens they disagree with all while chanting “this is what democracy looks like.” That isn’t what democracy looks like, democracy is about free speech and peaceful assembly, not putting people’s well-being in danger just because you disagree with them.”

AFP-Michigan has taken the lead on rallying grassroots activists to contact their legislators in support of right-to-work legislation. Hundreds of activists have met with their lawmakers to stress the importance of this issue, and thousands have phoned in their support for workplace freedom.

Now, AFP released footage of attendees underneath the tent, as they tried to keep it came crashing down.

So, as unions throw a temper tantrum over their loss of political clout, they decide to take it out on decent Americans, who happen to disagree with them on the issue of labor.

O’Doyle Rules!

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:

 

Welfare State Advocate Spews Inaccuracies on PBS NewsHour

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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

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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.

Free trade is for idiots

For decades, globalists and libertarian free trade ideologues have been telling us that free trade has been “good” for America, that it’s a traditional conservative/Republican policy, and that any suggestion that America should protect its industry – i.e. protectionism – is a Big Government policy and a betray of “free market principles”. Free trade is the religion of the CATO Institute, the Mercatus Center, the Heritage Foundation, and the so-called Club for (Corporate Profits) Growth, which should call itself the Club for Corporate CEOs’ Greed).

But they are wrong. Protectionism, not free trade, has traditionally been the policy of conservatives and Republicans, and it is the policy on which nations ascend economically; they descend on free trade.

Every nation which ever became a great power – from England under the Acts of Navigation, to Colbert’s France, to the US from 1861 to 1945, to postwar Japan, to China today – became such because it protected its economy (especially its industry).

Unlike Hamilton, Clay, and Lincoln, the free trade ideologues at the forementioned organizations never built a great nation.

Republicans won their first presidential election in 1860 (while also capturing the Senate) running on a pledge to institute tariffs to protect the industry. And they did. This nearly insulated America’s (or rather, the North’s) growing industry, allowing it to become the envy of the world. Successive Republican Presidents and Congresses continued these policies, shielding American industries with protective tariffs, thus allowing these industries to grow and leading America to overtake Britain (and the rest of the world) by all measures of industrial production (including coal mining and steel production) by the 1890s.

Protectionist tariffs on foreign products also allowed Congress to keep the books balanced and pay Civil War debts quickly while keeping taxes on Americans and American companies low. Before 1913, there wasn’t even any federal income tax.

America thus became the greatest industrial power on Earth, the envy of the world.

I said “successive Republican Presidents and Congresses”, because a protectionist economic policy proved itself to be not only economically successful, but also politically popular. From 1860 to 1924, the GOP – then known as the Party of Protection – put 12 presidents in the White House, versus only 2 Democrats.

By 1945, America, partially thanks to its protectionist policies and partially due to the destruction that WW2 inflicted on Europe and Asia, accounted for 42% of the world’s industrial production.

But then, something happened.

American political elites (including, increasingly, Republicans) caught the free trade virus and indulged in suicidal “free trade” economic policies.

The US joined the WTO organization, where it doesn’t have a vote, signed the GATT, and signed free trade agreements with many countries, opening its markets to their products while they kept their markets firmly closed to American goods and services.

Thus, the US stopped posting trade surpluses and, starting in 1971, began to run trade deficits which, since 1971, have been growing almost nonstop.

Big corporations, always greedily lusting for more profits and bigger salaries for their CEOs, began shipping jobs overseas.

By the 1980s, the situation was so dire that Ronald Reagan recognized the problem and asked the Congress to institute protective tariffs.

Yet, America’s slide towards the abyss on the skis greased by free traders was only slowed down, not stopped. In 1992, the US, at President Bush’s behest, suicidally signed NAFTA, opening its market to cheap Mexican products. In 1993, Republicans saved NAFTA from defeat by voting for it together with the pro-free-trade wing of the Democratic Party. Republicans literally rescued NAFTA from the dustbin of history (where it belongs) by voting for it – and thus own it.

The result? Millions of good-paying industrial jobs were lost, as factories were shipped to Mexico. Before 1993, the US had a trade surplus with Mexico. Since 1993, it has had a trade deficit with that country every single year.

In 1994, China began, on a large scale, its campaign to maximize its exports while closing its market to imports, and thus to steal Western industries, by devaluing its currency by 45%. Simoultaneously, tariffs on foreign products were hiked, and export rebates to Chinese exporters began to be provided, similarly to how they are provided in Japan.

(Japan has a 15% VAT rate on products sold on its soil, but it provides a rebate to its exporters for every product they sell abroad. So cars exported to the US face no American tariffs and are even rebated by the Japanese government, while American cars exported to Japan are taxed 15% as soon as they arrive at the Yokohama docks).

Yet, despite Chinese cheating on trade, the Congress – dominated by Republicans – gave China Most Favored Nation trade status, thus absolving Chinese products of most tariffs (while China did not reciprocate). In 2001, the Congress gave China that status permanently. In 2002, a Republican President allowed China to join the WTO. Thus, Chinese products enter America almost free of any tariffs or duties, but American products shipped to China are subject to steep tariffs.

Yet, Republicans, instead of learning from their mistakes, doubled down on their “free trade” policies. They gave Vietnam Most Favored Nation status in 2007. They gave President Bush an unconstitutional unilateral “expedited” negotiation authority to negotiate even more one-sided, unfair free trade agreements for dupes. They supported the FTAs Bush signed with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea late in his term.

In the 2008 election, all leading Republican candidates – McCain, Romney, and Giuliani – ran on free trade platforms.

The eventual Republican nominee, John McCain, even scaremongered people about “the siren song of protectionism” and went to a closed Ohio factory (which was closed because its owner shifted production overseas).

It didn’t endear him any voters, however. In the 2008 election, proud free trader John McCain was crushed 373-165, by the biggest margin of any Republican candidate since Barry Goldwater, losing even longtime Republican states like North Carolina, Indiana, and Virginia.

The election of Barack Obama probably gave some Americans hope that he would uphold his campaign promise to withdraw the US from NAFTA and to protect the US industry. He didn’t. He has barely been willing to impose tariffs on imported tires to save the tire industry.

With their own free trade mistakes costing them politically and the country economically, Republicans should have had, by 2012, learned that they were wrong and should have proposed a better policy, right? Wrong. Most Republicans continued to cling to their free trade ideology, as did the 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, who lambasted Obama for not signing any new FTAs for dupes (as if that were a bad thing), pledged to negotiate new FTAs, and firmly embraced free trade ideology. And although he pledged to designate China a currency manipulator if elected, and to enforce intellectual property laws, he wasn’t willing to do anything more than that, and even these half-measures earned him the ire of free trade ideologues such as the think-tanks and organizations listed above.

So, as the year 2012 begins to draw to an end, let us take inventory of 67 years of “free trade policies”.

They have destroyed the greatest industrial base the world has ever seen.

They have caused 55,000 factories to be closed and production to be shifted to countries where people work for slave wages and where there are no real environmental protection laws.

They have caused tens of millions of Americans to lose their well-paying manufacturing jobs and middle class worker wages to stagnate, in real terms, for over 2 decades.

They have brought about disastrous consequences for national security, as America is now dependent on foreign countries for essential things, even things essential for defense, such as Rare Earth Elements and the products made from them.

They have cost the Republican Party successive Congressional and Presidential elections, as former industrial powerhouses such as Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, and Virginia – formerly red states – have turned against the GOP and become blue or purple states. Republicans have not win Michigan since 1984 and have lost both Ohio and Virginia in both of the last 2 presidential elections.

The GOP’s reputation as the Party of Protection has been tarnished and replaced by the reputation of a party that kowtows to big businesses and outsources jobs overseas.

America, formerly self-sufficient and producing everything in the world, now imports virtually everything it needs, from textiles and simple products to cars and Advanced Technology Products like computers and cell phones.

America lost her crown as the biggest exporter in the world to Germany in 2003, which itself was overtaken by China around 2010.

America’s trade deficits with Mexico, Japan, the EU, and the world at large are the highest they have ever been.

America’s trade deficit with China is the highest ever between any two countries.

And what were these trade deficits paid for with? Borrowed money. America is now the largest debtor in world history.

And to pay for lost revenue from abolished tariffs on foreign products, taxes are being hiked on Americans and American companies.

Can America be rescued? Yes, it still can, but there isn’t much time, and it will require a complete break with the free trade ideology and policies of the free trade ideologues running the CATO Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Mercatus Center, and the Club for Corporate CEOs’ Greed. The US should:

  • Immediately implement the Export-Import Certificates proposed by Raymond, Howard, and Jesse Richman. This means that no country would be allowed to export more to the US than it imports from America.
  • Immediately impose a 25% tariff on all Chinese products imported into the US. China will then have a choice between letting American products into its market or financing the US Pacific Fleet.
  • Strictly enforce intellectual property laws.
  • Write, and strictly enforce, product quality standards on all imported products.
  • Terminate the useless Export-Import Bank.
  • Withdraw from NAFTA, the WTO, and the GATT.
  • Abolish all loopholes in the taxcode and use the resulting revenue (as well as the revenue coming from tariffs on Chinese products) to cut taxes across the board for all Americans and all American companies. The corporate income tax rate should be no higher than 12.5% (it’s 35% today).
  • Designate China as a currency manipulator.

Tens of millions of jobs will then be created and production will be shipped back to the US – because then, in order to sell products in the huge American market, you will have to produce things in the US. And foreign countries wishing to export to the US will have to open their own markets to American products on the basis of reciprocity.

Green Energy Equals American Decline

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A Chinese auto company having just won the auction for bankrupt A123 Systems, one of Barack Obama’s car battery darlings that received a $249 million grant from the Obama government further illustrates why the White House playing capital investor with taxpayer funds investor is a very bad idea.

When Obama took office in January 2009, five million “green” jobs were promised, yet nowhere near that number have been created. The companies Obama invests in keep failing because Americans do not want to purchase inefficient energy at inflated prices.

Furthermore, eighty percent of the green loans, loan guarantees, and grants given out by Department of Energy went to Obama campaign backers:

•SunPower, after receiving $1.5 billion from DOE, is reorganizing, cutting jobs.

•First Solar, after receiving $1.46 billion from DOE, is reorganizing, cutting jobs.

•Solyndra, after receiving $535 million from DOE, filed for bankruptcy protection.

•Ener1, after receiving $118.5 million from DOE, filed for bankruptcy protection.

•Evergreen Solar, after receiving millions of dollars from the state of Massachusetts, filed for bankruptcy protection.

•SpectraWatt, backed by Intel and Goldman Sachs, filed for bankruptcy protection.

•Beacon Power, after receiving $43 million from DOE, filed for bankruptcy protection.

•Abound Solar, after receiving $400 million from DOE, filed for bankruptcy protection.

•Amonix, after receiving $5.9 million from DOE, filed for bankruptcy protection.

•Babcock & Brown (an Australian company), after receiving $178 million from DOE, filed for bankruptcy protection.

•Solar Trust for America, after receiving a $2.1-billion loan guarantee from DOE, filed for bankruptcy protection.

•Nevada Geothermal, after receiving $98.5 million from DOE, warns of potential defaults in new SEC filings.

Progressives continue to promote global warming, or to use the most recent and now more popular vernacular: climate change.  The narrative is that planet earth is experiencing a warming climate due primarily to the emission of man-made ”greenhouse gases”.  The most often and specifically referenced gas is carbon dioxide.

According to Matt Rosenberg at Atmosphere Composition, the earth’s atmosphere is composed primarily of Nitrogen and Oxygen. Together, the two comprise about 99% of the gas in the atmosphere. Here’s a listing of the key components of the atmosphere:

Nitrogen – 78.084%

Oxygen – 20.95%

Argon – 0.934%

Carbon Dioxide – 0.036%

Neon – 0.0018%

Helium – 0.0005%

Methane – 0.00017%

Hydrogen – 0.00005%

Nitrous Oxide – 0.00003%

Ozone – 0.000004%

In addition, water vapor is variable but typically makes up about 1-4% of the atmosphere.

Progressives would have the world’s population believe that fluctuations in a trace element of earth’s atmosphere (0.036%) caused by the burning of fossil fuels like petroleum and coal has resulted in such catastrophic events as the melting of earth’s polar ice caps and glaciers.  They contend this will lead to the flooding of coastal areas and the extinction of species.

A nation of over 300 million people, which currently derives less than 5 percent of its energy from “alternatives” cannot expect to put an immediate end to the use of fossil fuels.  This could quite possibly bring the nation’s ailing economy to a grinding halt, resulting in a massive loss of business, leading to a dramatic decrease in already insufficient tax revenue and an extremely painful increase in unemployment.

Is putting an end to the use of petroleum worth the accompanying reduction in the living standards and the overall prosperity of a nation?  Is it worth the resulting ballooning of America’s national debt and further devaluation of its currency?

“progressives” feel an ongoing, compulsive need to force America to accept their “green energy solution”. Proposals made by the current administration and fellow “progressives” indicate a desire to achieve this end at all costs come what may.  Stiffer regulations on auto emissions and mileage, EPA regulations on energy providers, resistance to development of domestic natural resources, deficit government spending on inefficient and uncompetitive solar, wind, tide and bio-fuel technology dominate the political landscape.

America’s public and industrial infrastructure is based on the use of petroleum, natural gas and coal.  Nearly everyone drives a vehicle that burns gasoline or diesel fuel. Public transportation relies on fossil fuels as well. Natural gas, heating oil and coal are used in furnaces to heat homes and places of business. Coal and nuclear power generate electricity, which powers countless devices; the uses of which are taken for granted every day. Coal, natural gas and petroleum products power American’s industrial complex, the base of the American economic engine. America’s economy depends heavily on the existing sources of power. These methods of providing and consuming energy are all deeply ingrained into America’s business, manufacturing and home life.

Why does America continue spending hundreds of billions of dollars on foreign energy while America has undeveloped energy? Why not keep those billions of dollars at home, in America’s cash starved economy?

At a time when millions of Americans are looking for work, the economy is starving for liquid capital, and the IRS is in desperate need of revenue why not take advantage of America’s wealth of natural resources? Why not give Americans jobs drilling for oil and natural gas or digging for coal? Why not put people to work building refineries and power plants? Why not give energy employees jobs delivering gas, coal and natural gas to consumers? How many peripheral jobs will be created in the process? For every new oil well, power plant, refinery or mine there will be new infrastructure built, followed by grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls, housing, schools, and everything else everyday Americans need for their lives.

All generated by the only force capable of powering America’s economic recovery: the private sector.

And none of those jobs could possibly be moved overseas.

http://mjfellright.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/green-energy-equals-american-decline/

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Why Tax Rates Instead of Loopholes?

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The Obama Administration has been adamant about raising tax revenue by raising marginal rates rather than by closing loopholes and capping deductions, even though the latter solution would raise as much revenue as the former. Why all the insistence on rates?

Loopholes in the tax code have historically been used to manage behavior, as well as to reward and punish those who are in or out of favor with the powers that be. If President Obama gets his way, he will still be able to use loopholes to reward his wealthy contributors, while also using the tax code to punish those who oppose his policies.

A flatter, fairer tax code with few deductions and loopholes would mean that those donors who favored the President with their millions, would have to pay like everyone else.

It is not about the revenue, it IS about the power.

Speaker Boehner – What Are You Doing Up There?

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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.

 

 

A “Quick and Dirty” Look at Obama’s Tax The Rich Plan

I couldn’t resist. I saw the following article and I just had to write about it: http://money.cnn.com/2012/11/14/news/economy/obama-taxes-deficit/index.html?hpt=hp_t3 

Yes, I know that in the post-2012 election era, my blog will naturally pivot to more philosophical writings, but some economic analyses will come up here and there. This is an example of one of these economic analyses.

As many readers of my blog know, rarely would I conduct an analysis on a simple article such as the one listed above. Usually, as seen in this previous analysis, I prefer digging deeper and analyzing primary-source data… usually involving IRS data tables, OMB information, or anything of the like. Since this is a simple analysis of the second-hand information discussed in an article, it is officially a “quick and dirty” look.

The CNN Money article talks about Obama’s hard-line plan on raising taxes on the wealthy. At the bottom, it goes on to list the various increases in revenue for each tax-raising move. Keep in mind, these revenue figures summed up over a period of 10 years. They are:

- Letting the Bush-Era Tax Cuts Expire for High-Income Earners: $1 trillion in revenue raised over the next decade

– Limiting Tax Breaks (and, I’ll assume deductions): $500 billion in revenue raised over the next decade

– Increase Carried Interest Tax Rates: $13.5 billion in revenue raised over the next decade

– Imposed the Millionaire Minimum Tax (the “Buffett Rule”): $47 billion in revenue raised over the next decade

– Enact Business Tax Proposals: Though not explicitly clear, this would raise $240 billion in revenue raised over the next decade

Now, using simple math, these five main tax increases raise $1.8 trillion in revenues over the next decade. If divided equally over 10 years, that’s $180 billion per year. To put this in contrast, the budget deficit for Obama’s 2013 budget is between $909 billion and $1.1 trillion, depending on whose estimate you’re looking at. For conservative numbers sake, we will use the $909 billion value, and we can see that by enacting ALL the tax hikes Obama wants, he would be shrinking the 2013 budget deficit by a very small amount. In 2013, should all these tax increases work like Obama has said they would, our government would still have a $729 billion deficit. Basically, as stated numerous times throughout this blog, increasing taxes on the wealthy does very little to close the deficit. While it does have a small benefit with respect to direct revenue increases, the negative effects of increased expenses on job creators and small business owners will hurt employees’ pockets, ultimately slowing down the economy further.

There is another part of this proposal Obama has promised: spending cuts. So far, I’ve only looked at the revenue side of this plan. It’s time to look at the spending cut side. Examining the CNN article, Obama claims he will cut $4 trillion from the federal budget over 10 years. This is obviously an average savings of $400 billion per year.

Let’s now take a look as to how this all plays out. The following figures are simple linearly-extrapolated numbers based on the conditions we know currently exist in the 2013 budget:

For 2013 – Government expenditures: $3.808 trillion / Government revenues: $2.902 trillion.

According to Obama’s $400 billion per year spending cut savings, let’s assume the government will then spend about $3.4 trillion per year over the next 10 years (granted this is difficult to predict since entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare are expected to rise in cost due to the aging population). Let’s also assume that the government, based on the $180 billion per year increase in tax revenue, will take in $3.083 trillion per year over the next 10 years. The budget situation would look something like this (all dollar figures are in trillions of dollars):


*Based on current budget estimates

Again, it must be stated that assuming expenditures and revenues stay the the same year after year is a tough sell, but, being that all this discussion centers on estimated spending cut savings and estimated revenue increases, it’s semi-safe to say that this chart displays a good approximation of average values. Notice that even with $400 billion per year in spending cut savings factored in with $180 billion per year in additional revenues, significant deficits remain, and more importantly, the total national debt still balloons to over $19 trillion in 10 years. Unfortunately, as the population ages, expenditures are going to rise, and as the economy declines further because of exogenous forces like slow economic growth worldwide and endogenous forces like business-stifling tax increases, revenues are going to shrink. This chart shows very optimistic scenarios, and realistically, it’s doubtful that if passed as Obama wants it, this spending cut and tax increase plan will produce deficits smaller in size than the ones shown here.

In short, though this is a “quick and dirty” look at Obama’s budget plan proposal, it leads me back to the original conclusion: increasing taxes will do little to help our budget, and spending decreases via entitlement reform are really the budgetary remedy this country needs. If nothing is done soon, as time goes on, our entitlement spending will swallow us further into the black hole of debt oblivion.

To view the original post and see its follow-up comments, visit The Elephant in the Room: http://loudmouthelephant.blogspot.com/2012/11/a-quick-and-dirty-look-at-obamas-tax.html

Fear Thy Primary

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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

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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

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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?

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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.

“He Said She Said” with Demetrius & Stacy

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 When: Wed, Nov 28, 10PM EST/7PM Pacific

What: Have you ever wondered what Black Conservatives think about the political issues of today? Well wonder no more, “He Said, She Said” with Demetrius and Stacy. brings you an inner peek into the mind of the conservative, bold, full strength, and unfiltered.

Tonight: Special guests: Rep. Tom Price (@RepTomPrice), chairman of House GOP Policy Committee and Bethany Bowra (@BethanyBowra), Founder of NextGenerationVoters, and blogger at Smart Girl Politics and RedState.com


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