Retreat!

It seems the Republican Party has decided to stop shooting itself in the foot, finally. With the announcement that Republicans will now support an unconditional 3 month debt limit extension, party leaders have finally made a smart move. This welcome news could not come soon enough, as congressional approval ratings hover just above single digits and the president’s rhetorical onslaught against Republicans continues unabated.

Without some change in strategy, the Republican Party is headed for certain disaster in 2014. I learned the straight-forward concept of majority rules growing up with younger twin brothers. Whenever our parents allowed us to vote on something, invariably the twins would vote one way and I would vote another. Two beats one every time in a democratic process, a concept that has escaped many Republicans for far too long in their role as opposition party to a Democratic president and senate.

The Republican death spiral owes as much to a president intent on using his considerable oratory skills at their expense as it does to their own intransigence. By framing many of his arguments in terms of fairness while simultaneously unfairly characterizing the opposition, the president has deftly positioned himself with many Americans as the only responsible adult in the room, which of course, could not be further from the truth. The president speaks in platitudes of a fair and balanced tax system, while 48% of Americans pay no federal income tax and the top 5% generate 59% of all government tax receipts.

Two recent statements by the president, one concerning deficit reduction and the other concerning gun control, further exemplify his willingness to play loose with facts while continuing to engage in attack mode against Republicans.

“But it seems as if what’s motivating and propelling at this point some of the House Republicans is more than simply deficit reduction.  They have a particular vision about what government should and should not do.  So they are suspicious about government’s commitments, for example, to make sure that seniors have decent health care as they get older. They have suspicions about Social Security.  They have suspicions about whether government should make sure that kids in poverty are getting enough to eat, or whether we should be spending money on medical research.  So they’ve got a particular view of what government should do and should be.”

“There will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical, all-out assault on liberty, not because that’s true but because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves. And behind the scenes, they’ll do everything they can to block any common-sense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever.”

With an opponent like the president who is willing to mis-characterize your positions in such an egregious manner, and a public willing to hear what they like and disregard the rest, House Republicans have decided correctly to pursue a new approach. This approach will be successful as long as House Republicans can maintain patience and confidence. The president’s agenda of bigger government and bigger deficits is a losing proposition, and this fact will become more fully realized by the public in the course of time. Instead of aggravating for change in terms that are clearly aggravating many Americans, House Republicans need to seize present opportunities where they can be successful.

This new strategy will entail operating in a much more bi-partisan manner on issues that are important to many Americans, namely immigration reform and gun control. Find common ground with Democrats on these issues and pass some legislation so you can also claim some of the credit when the president signs new laws into place.

Continue to work to limit the growth of spending, but do it in much smaller increments. Visions of a grand bargain on tax and entitlement reform must be forgotten, at least for now. Until Republicans have more power, continuing to advocate for big change will remain a big waste of time. Patiently bide your time until circumstances change and the need for entitlement reform becomes a more urgent priority among the electorate.

Remain confident that the principles of limited government, low taxation and personal responsibility will soon become more important to a public that is certain to grow ever more distrustful of the president’s trickle up economic theory that obviously does not work and will never work.

Above all else, remember that the principles that unite Republicans must never be used to divide Americans. Seek always to demonstrate how Republican ideals are the only way less advantaged Americans, especially minorities, can become empowered to realize their full potential, as opposed to the statists now in power who want government to control all aspects of our economy and society.

The olive branch of a 3 month debt limit extension is really more an act of preserving what little power Republicans now have than anything else. To maximize opportunities for gains in 2014, House Republicans must stand together in pursuit of their common objectives, and the only way to do that is to pay proper respect to the current balance of power. By the time election season heats up again, the president and his party will have driven the country further into the ground, and by then the American people will be ready to be led in a different direction.

Advertisements
Posted in Budget / Debt Limit | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Living Large in Istanbul

I came across an interesting factoid today concerning wasteful spending which epitomizes the Idiocracy known also as our government. Late last year, a Department of Justice report revealed that the Drug Enforcement Administration spent $1.18 million dollars to host a conference in Istanbul, Turkey in 2008. That’s one-point-one-eight million dollars for 368 DEA agents to convene at the lavish Conrad Istanbul Hotel overlooking the Bosphorus Straits.

Summit Bar

Now, this article is particularly interesting because I have actually been to this hotel before. I didn’t stay there, because it was too expensive for my budget. The Conrad was simply a convenient place to meet a colleague of mine who lives in Istanbul. Instead, I chose to stay at the Crowne Plaza Old Town, which has at least two fewer stars than the Conrad and certainly no view of the Bosphorus.

A room at the Conrad runs about $400 per night.

1 King Business Terrace Suite

A room at the Crown Plaza sets you back about a $229 per night. And, I did not have rose petals on my bed when I checked-in, either.

Crowne Plaza Istanbul

Remember the news report last year about the GAO conference in Las Vegas that cost $863,000? Those guys ain’t got nothing on these DEA agents!

In closing, if $1.18 million seems like chump change, then perhaps you will be more impressed to know that the Department of Justice spent a total of $121 million on conference related expenses in 2008 & 2009. Remember those years? The stock market was tanking, the economy was in free-fall, and employers were shedding 500,000 jobs per month. Meanwhile, the government was spending money faster than they could print it.

According to last week’s WSJ interview with Speaker John Boehner, President Obama told Speaker Boehner during the Fiscal Cliff negotiations that “we don’t have a spending problem” and that “I am getting tired of hearing you say that.”

Really? No spending problem?

Note: The full report about the DOJ inquiry into the DEA conference can be accessed by clicking here.

Posted in Budget / Debt Limit, Wasteful spending | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Insanity revealed

Television news shows featuring Members of Congress from each party often yield little, if any, substantive dialogue. The dribble-drabble, hocus-pocus, mind-numbing, and highly partisan discussions, where Members talk past each other and interrupt each other incessantly, can get really old, really fast. These shows leave some viewers, like myself, extremely frustrated and more curious than ever to know what the facts really are in a given situation.

That’s why I decided to do my own research about the Clinton tax increases when the Fiscal Cliff mess was all over the TV during the holidays. Click here to see a chart that I created which reveals actual tax receipts, expenditures, and corresponding deficits or surpluses from 1983 to 2011, including my notes about recessions and changes in tax rates during this time period. This information can also be found by clicking on Budget in the site’s header.

Different people will interpret the data in different ways, but it is interesting (but not surprising) how much tax receipts increased following the Clinton capital gains tax cuts of 1997 and the Bush tax cuts of 2003. The data also show that Clinton spending was relatively modest compared to ‘Big Spending 43,’ but no president has ever spent more than the one we have now. Yet, the most revealing and disturbing data is the insanity revealed in the surplus/deficit column. No doubt, Republicans own our fiscal mess as much as Democrats, but at least the former has passed a budget that addresses our deficits, while the latter has failed their constitutional duty to pass one in almost 4 years.

Posted in Budget / Debt Limit, Taxes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Our expanding welfare state

According to the Senate Budget Committee’s Ranking Minority Member, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the government spent enough on welfare in 2011 to send $60,000 to every family living below the poverty line. The daily equivalent would be $168 for every family in poverty, while the median family daily income of all Americans is $138, or 20% less than what the government spends for all anti-poverty programs.

Total-Welfare-Spending-Equates-To------Per-Day-For-Every-Household-In-Poverty-PhotoGallery

The government absolutely should have safety net programs to help the poor; however, the government absolutely wastes a bunch of money on these means tested programs. More information concerning the government’s exorbitant and highly inefficient anti-poverty measures can be found by clicking here, or by simply clicking on Poverty on the home page of this blog.

Posted in Budget / Debt Limit, Poverty | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Europe: Getting uglier by the day

This post of another blog post gives us an update on the deteriorating situation in Europe. Click here to learn what America might face one day unless something is done to break Washington’s horrific addiction to out of control spending.

Posted in Budget / Debt Limit | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Obama’s ‘Fair & Balanced’ Tax Package

Click here for an article from the Heritage Foundation that summarizes all the new tax increases that the President recently signed into law.

And click here for a rather depressing Huffington Post article concerning the unconscionable corporate tax breaks that were also part of the President’s new tax package.

Posted in Taxes | Leave a comment

Editorials of the Week

“Capitol Hill – The Surreal World” by Maureen Dowd of The New York Times, January 6, 2013.

Ms Dowd does a great job of describing the attributes of Joe Biden that I respect and like so much.

“Our Decadent Democracy” by George Will of the Washington Post, January 2, 2013.

I usually need a dictionary close by when reading Mr. Will, and this article, in which he does a great job of debunking certain commonly held political assumptions, is certainly no exception.

“President Obama’s Debt Problem” by Glenn Thrush and Reid Epstein of Politico.com, January 3, 2013

“The Debt Ceiling Isn’t Obama’s Problem. It’s the GOP’s Problem” by Greg Sargent of the Washington Post, January 4, 2013.

I know Mr. Sargent is talking politics, but the gist of his message is still WRONG. The debt problem is America’s problem!!

Posted in Editorials | Leave a comment