Archive for the ‘Domestic Policy’ Category

It’s indisputable that California is experiencing middle class flight in unimaginable proportions. This article, written in 2009, talks about a situation that’s unimaginable in most states.

It starts by saying “With new data suggesting that a net 50,000 to 100,000 people left Los Angeles County last fiscal year, the San Fernando Valley is emerging as the poster child for middle-class flight — even as L.A. politicians try to spin an almost opposite tale.” Then it gets into the nitty gritty of the situation, saying “The Valley was once America’s suburb, the nation’s most firmly rooted bastion of families holding jobs sufficient to pay for homes, cars, leisure and college tuition. Its more than 1 million people poured such a wealth of taxes into downtown’s municipal treasury, subsidizing other areas, that Valley secession was seen as an attack on L.A.’s fiscal health.”

Rather than admitting that they’re going nowhere fast, California’s politicians told whoppers:

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently claimed that people are moving here. But, in fact, an L.A. Weekly analysis based on U.S. Census data clearly shows that for the middle class, the opposite is true. L.A. grew in 2007-2008 due to high birth rates among the poor and working class, mostly Latinos, and due to illegal immigration. But since 2001, on the key measure of an area’s ability to attract the middle class, 901,426 more citizens have fled the county for other states than arrived from other states, and last year, they continued that flight.

If this editorial’s headline doesn’t get your attention, nothing will:

How can a place with 58,000 homeless people continue to function?

It continues:

Consider the pairs of thick gloves that George Abou-Daoud has stashed inside the nine restaurants he owns on the east side of Hollywood. When a homeless person accosts his customers, Abou-Daoud says, he can no longer count on the police for help; unless there’s an imminent threat to safety, he contends, they don’t respond quickly and can’t just haul the person away. So he’s had to take matters into his own hands, literally, by physically ejecting problematic homeless people himself. That’s why he has the gloves; to keep his hands clean.

When media outlets like CBS Network News cover the homeless crisis, it’s impossible to ignore:

LA Times columnist Steve Lopez offers this grim perspective of LA’s homeless crisis:

It isn’t a hyperbole to say that California’s reputation as the best place to live is quickly dying. It once had a significant middle class. Now California is made up mostly by elitists and illegals. Between the homeless crisis, the high taxes and the super-excessive regulations, what’s to love about California? Couple that with the fact that the taxpayers’ money is going to pay for social programs for illegal aliens. Why should people who’ve worked hard and played by the rules pay taxes so people who shouldn’t be here can milk the system?

Couple that with the fact that illegal aliens are treated better than the middle class and you’ve got the kindling for a civil war in California. Jerry Brown took over the state and finally run it into the dirt. That’s what happens when Democrats run the state from top to bottom.

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Thursday afternoon, I had the privilege of interviewing House GOP Policy Committee Chairman Thad McCotter on a variety of subjects.

We started with the health care debate going on. I started by saying that, from an outsider’s perspective, it looked like Senate Democrats were like a dog chasing its tail. Chairman McCotter said that he wasn’t into predicting legislative outcomes, especially in the Senate. He said, though, that he took particular note of Howard Dean criticizing the bill from a left-of-center perspective. Chairman McCotter then said that the AFL-CIO and the SEIU not showing up for the Democrats’ pass health care rally was especially noteworthy.

Sticking with health care, I said that I’ve ended a number of health care posts this way:

Only in Washington, DC, could they pass a bill that increases the deficit, raises taxes and still leaves 25,000,000 people uninsured and still call it reform.

The laughter from the other end of the phone told me that Chairman McCotter appreciated the sarcasm.

I then asked whether signing a health care bill into law might start the next round of layoffs. I said that I was basing that on businessmen and women talking about not hiring because of uncertain labor costs. Chairman McCotter said that he’s warned Republicans that just knowing what the labor costs are isn’t enough. He said that knowing that you’re being taxed too much won’t help job creation.

Chairman McCotter said that it’s important that we bring certainty to the labor costs but that we also make labor costs affordable enough so that businesses have an incentive to start hiring and growing their companies again. According to Chairman McCotter, that isn’t possible without controlling spending and reducing government’s intrusion into our lives.

The next subject that we talked about was the day-to-day work that the House GOP Conference was doing in voting against irresponsible spending. Chairman McCotter said that that’s a daily fight that they must get right each time so that “the sovereign American people” will trust Republicans to govern again.

I pointed out that they were doing a very good job with that in the House and, most importantly, that they were doing an outstanding job listening to the American people. Chairman McCotter said that “listening to our bosses, the sovereign American people, is a priority.” I noted that people were upset with the Democrats for not listening to them on health care. I said that the Democrats’ ignoring the American people was fueling a fire that won’t be extinguished anytime soon.

Again, Chairman McCotter said that it’s their job to be responsive to the people and to walk the walk, that that’s the only way that the American people would start trusting them again.

Chairman McCotter said that the House Republican Policy Committee has worked diligently to put together the principles that Republicans would govern by. He told me to check out their website, which I plan on doing this afternoon. He said that everyone should “order a free copy of the Policy Committee’s pamphlet We the People: WIDE AWAKE.” I’ve already ordered my copy. I’d suggest that you follow this link to order your copy today, too.

Here’s a brief excerpt from Wide Awake:

We Are Wide Awake
They were “Wide Awakes” – Americans marching through sleepy hamlets for candidate Abraham Lincoln and the cause of human freedom. They were “Republicans!”

Today, Republicans continue to embrace our enduring duty to:

1. Expand human liberty and self-government;

2. Conserve our cherished way of life and its foundations of faith, family, community and country;

3. Empower Americans to achieve constructive, necessary change; and

4. Defend America’s national security.

And we act upon five permanent principles:

1. Our liberty is from God not the government;

2. Our sovereignty is in our souls not the soil;

3. Our security is from strength not surrender;

4. Our prosperity is from the private sector not the public sector; and

5. Our truths are self-evident not relative.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Those are the underlying principles that guide the House GOP’s policy proposals. Frankly, they’re the type of principles that inspire me to work hard to elect more men and women to the House and Senate. These principles are the type of principles that should guide the next generation of conservatives.

In September, 2007, I wrote a post titled “Without a Vision, the People Perish.” Thanks to Chairman McCotter’s leadership, conservatives have a new vision to aspire to and uphold.

Another topic that we discussed was the role out-of-control spending is playing in hurting the economy. Chairman McCotter said that people and small businesses know that tax increases are inevitable once they see spending rising at the level that it’s increased already this year.

I asked whether the Bush tax cuts expiring next year was having a negative effect on the economy. Chairman McCotter said that the Bush tax cuts expiring, Cap And Trade, Stimulus II and health care, combined, were dragging the economy down. He said that, as a rule, the private sector needs to know that government spending is under control.

He then said that it’s important to start from the right premise, which is that the private sector is the only path back to a healthy economy and sustained prosperity. Chairman McCotter mentioned several times that government’s job is to get spending controlled so that the private sector could start putting their innovation to work in reviving the economy.

I mentioned that the Democratic leadership, as it’s currently configured, would never admit their errors and change directions. I said that’s why the 2010 elections were important to changing policy. (Again, the conversation didn’t stray into campaign strategy. This was just something mentioned in passing as part of the solution for our policy woes.)

The other thing that I found refreshing was Chairman McCotter’s enthusiastic support for the TEA Party movement. In fact, to the House GOP leadership’s credit, they’re all enthusiastic supporters of the TEA Party movement.

The interview confirmed my hunch that Rep. McCotter is one of the GOP’s rising stars. I’ve heard numerous times that Paul Ryan is “the smartest guy in the room on policy.” Having interviewed him, I can attest to the fact that he’s an exceptional talent policywise. After Thursday’s interview, though, I think that there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between Mssrs. Ryan and McCotter. Together with Conference Chairman Pence, the House GOP has an impressive trio at the top of the leadership chain.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative’s Thomas Schaller isn’t sure what derailed Obamacare. That’s evidenced by his string of questions in his latest column. Here’s the list of questions:

Was the White House’s public relations rollout insufficient to counter the stronger-than-anticipated resistance from healthcare opponents? Was the public option always just a bargaining chip to give away in exchange for what the president really wants? What happened to the vaunted Obama campaign apparatus, which was supposed to morph into a machine delivering support for Obama’s agenda? Did Obama simply lack the political will or political capital? Or should he have been less of a consensus seeker and more of a Rove-ian steamroller?

the simple explanation is that it’s none of the above. Obamacare failed because the American people found out what’s in H.R. 3200. The minute they did is the minute they turned on Obamacare. It didn’t have anything to do with packaging. It isn’t that President Obama didn’t have the political will.

When objective people look back at this, they’ll agree that CBO Director Elmendorf’s testimony torpedoed any chance of passing the wide-ranging reforms that President Obama wanted. Here’s what Director Elmendorf said during testimony:

Under questioning from Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Elmendorf told the Senate Budget Committee that the congressional proposals released so far do not meet that second test.

“In the legislation that has been reported, we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount and, on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs,” he said.

Another thing that hurt the Democrats’ chances for passing this bill was President Obama’s increasing unpopularity. He portrayed himself as a moderate, a post-racial, post-partisan healer who believed in transparency, accountability and puppies. Now he’s seen as just another liberal with a better than average speaking ability.

When it comes to selling transformational changes to the most personal of all domestic policies, salesmanship isn’t what matters. Substance is what matters. Still, Democrats can’t resist blaming the people who couldn’t block anything mathematically:

Apparently, Obama is no LBJ (presidential version), either. Given the reflexive Republican biting of Obama’s extended hand, perhaps the president should have dispensed from the start with any serious effort to find accommodation with the GOP. The White House could have spoken otherwise for public consumption, but it should have assumed all along that this would be a Democratic-led proposal. Instead of wasting energy on trying to persuade Republicans, it could have worked over dissenting Democrats in the Senate, and had a better shot at jamming the public option through.

The notion that President Obama reached out to Republicans in anything more than a token way is laughable. Having them up to the White House, saying a few flowery words about bipartisanship, then restarting the partisanship the minute the GOP leadership has left the building isn’t bipartisanship. It’s an empty photo-op.

2. Obama misplayed his hand by failing to properly explain what the public option is, how it works, who will have to pay for it, and, most of all, to show that he’s prepared to fight for it.

A president has to be educator in chief as well as commander in chief. But the White House lost control of the public option narrative very early on because, as Salon’s own Joan Walsh wrote on July 21, Obama hesitated from the start to lay down clear markers and defend them publicly. “I’m clear about why this is a tough fight for Obama. But I think he may be making it harder than it needs to be. I realize it’s difficult to define when still playing politics, necessarily, but I really want to know his bottom line,” Walsh pleaded, noting that on a range of disputed elements, including the public option, Obama was curiously vague and uncommitted about his intentions. That he has been only slightly more clear and committed in the ensuing month hasn’t helped.

First off, President Obama’s agenda is audacious but he isn’t. He’s the most risk-averse president in recent history.

More importantly, it’s becoming apparent that President Obama lacks Bill Clinton’s wonkishness. Conservatives said throughout the campaign that he lacked the experience to be competent. Now we’ve been proven right.

The other thing that’s happening is that conservatives are winning battles by being conservative:

Inside Washington, they were urged to reduce the influence of pro-lifers in the party and distance themselves from conservative talk radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh. They were told to warm up to Mr. Obama, the new master of American politics, and they were told to fret about all those voting blocs that were drifting away from the GOP—Hispanics, young people, gays, urbanites, blacks, voters in Northeastern states and independents. To survive, in short, they needed to move the party to the center. Conservatism was dead.

In hindsight, it’s fortunate that they ignored the Beltway wisdom. But it was a gamble—it wasn’t clear at the time that a strategy of pure opposition would do anything other than marginalize Republicans.

Anything that’s considered conventional wisdom isn’t worthy of respect. Outside-the-box thinking is what changes minority parties into majority status. It also helps return the White House to its rightful place.

It took awhile but Republicans started taking the advice I gave the day after the 2006 disaster:

3. We need to pick some fights on the most important issues of the day.

The first fight I’d pick is on national security. I’m hearing that the Democrats are thinking of ways of gutting the Patriot Act. It’s important that President Bush knows that ‘We the Activists’ will fight with him if the Pelosi puppets attempt to gut the Patriot Act.

Simply put, it was important that we stopped walking on eggshells and started responding to the Democrats’ radical policies with confidence. Thanks to the leadership of House Republicans like Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, Thaddeus McCotter, John Boehner, Tom Price, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy and John Kline, we’re on offense.

Gone from the House GOP Conference are the people who just went along. They’ve been replaced by people who believe in conservatism. More importantly, these new leaders know how to explain the main tenets of conservatism in plain-spoken language.

On health care, it’s nice that Republicans have offered several alternatives to Mr. Obama’s government-heavy plan. But these alternatives have played no role in turning America against the president’s ideas. Opposition to ObamaCare in all its parts (not only its cost) has been the chief factor in flipping public opinion.

And that opposition has validated the noisy protests at Democratic town-hall meetings. Absent Republican opposition in Washington, the protests could be dismissed as insignificant. Together, congressional Republicans and their grassroots allies have become an influential force.

Simply put, Paul Ryan and Mike Pence have more credibility on health care than does President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and congressional Democrats. That’s before we factor in people like Dr. Phil Gingrey, Dr. Tom Price, Dr. Charles Boustany, Dr. John Fleming and Dr. Tom Coburn. These gentlemen can talk from firsthand experience about what it’s like to fight with the Medicare bureaucracy to get procedures approved.

Because they’re able to talk from experience, those that hear the ‘doctor’s caucus’ message determine that they’re credible and worth listening to. Best of all, these gentlemen know what’s in H.R. 3200. They’ve pointed out with specificity and authority H.R. 3200’s shortcomings.

That, more than anything else, is what sunk Obamacare. It didn’t help that Henry Waxman wrote a bill that’s considerably to the left of the American people. The Democrats viewed this as the perfect opportunity to ram through highly ideological legislation.

On that, they guessed wrong.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Karl Rove’s weekly column in the WSJ is must reading for me, as I suspect it is for many people. This week’s column certainly doesn’t disappoint. It’s Mr. Rove’s belief that President Obama’s policy stumbles are creating an opportunity for revival within the GOP for 2010. I heartily concur. Here’s the opening paragraph of Mr. Rove’s column:

Something powerful is stirring in the land, and it may not be good news for President Barack Obama, his agenda or the Democratic Party. Mr. Obama said Tuesday night his budget moves America “from an era of borrow and spend” to “save and invest.” But people are realizing he would add $9.3 trillion to the national debt, doubling it in six years and nearly tripling it in 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). How can that be “save and invest”?

I suspect that the Rick Santelli-inspired Tea Party Movement has given people a rallying point. Families and small businesses are cutting back and prioritizing spending. Washington is on a spending spree. AIG-sized companies are the beneficiaries of Washington’s largess. Christopher Dodd is expressing outrage at the AIG bonuses that his legislation codified into law. People see Washington’s ineptitude, especially personified by Treasury Secretary Geithner.

Factor these things together and it’s easy to understand why “something powerful is stirring in the land.”

I further suspect that the stimulus bill was the initial catalyst. After Speaker Pelosi ramrodded the bill through the House and the bill was published online, bloggers started going through the bill line by line. What they found was a disgusting list of things. Most of the money was spent on President Obama’s political allies.

Mostly, though, President Obama is governing like the radical he is while trying to sound moderate in tone. Unlike the campaign, people aren’t buying into President Obama’s schtick.

Meanwhile, House Republicans voted unanimously against the stimulus bill. Even after Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and ‘Benedict Arlen’ Specter voted with Senate Democrats, people still noticed that Republicans were the party of fiscal sanity in DC.

Americans are also worried about Mr. Obama’s plans for $1.9 trillion more in taxes. These tax hikes won’t just affect the “rich,” as he claims. His cap-and-trade carbon tax will hit everyone who consumes energy, that is, every American. Taxes on the top 5% of filers will result in lost jobs and wages for small businesses and less charitable giving. The administration claims higher taxes are required for deficit reduction. But its spending increases are half again as large as its tax hikes.

The last thing blue collar America can afford is President Obama’s cap-and-trade tax increase. Heating bills are already high enough, thanks mostly to Democrats’ refusal to drill on the OCS.

The joke that’s travelling around the Right Blogosphere is that President Obama still hasn’t solved any problems. Instead, the joke goes, the only thing President Obama knows how to do are massive government takeovers and spending unprecedented amounts of money while racking up unprecedented and unsustainable deficits.

Then-candidate Obama’s campaign was a smooth-running machine. President Obama’s administration is supplying late night talk show hosts with a steady stream of material.

Thanks to that, the GOP’s biggest task might just be looking competent and/or reasonable. That shouldn’t be difficult considering the fact that they’ll be viewed against the radical backdrop that President Obama is painting.

The dynamic he has set in motion could spur the emergence of strong competitors to Mr. Obama in 2012 who take a strong, principled stand against record-setting deficits, debt and taxes. It may also strengthen Republican chances in next year’s midterm elections.

Democrats should, for example, be troubled by a new National Public Radio poll showing Republicans tied or ahead in generic matchups for Congress. And while the midterms are 20 months off, Republican gubernatorial hopefuls in Virginia (Attorney General Bob McDonnell) and New Jersey (former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie) are ahead in two states Barack Obama carried last year that vote this fall.

The tide has turned since November’s elections. The only thing left to be determined is whether this is the start of a wave election or just a really good year for Republicans. We’ll have to wait another 20 months to find that out. What’s certain is that Democrats face an uphill fight in 2010.

Thank You, President Obama.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Then-Sen. Obama promised that he’d restore America’s image around the world if elected. That’s hit a bump in the road:

The president of the European Union slammed President Barack Obama’s plans to have the U.S. spend its way out of recession as “a road to hell,” underscoring European differences with Washington ahead of a crucial summit next week on fixing the world economy.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, told the European Parliament on Wednesday that Obama’s massive stimulus package and banking bailout “will undermine the liquidity of the global financial market.”

It doesn’t sound like respect for us is increasing. Instead, it sounds more like people are criticizing our new president, almost to the point of mocking him. In this instance, I think that’s appropriate. Peter Orszag, President Obama’s budget director, has even been quoted as saying that the current debt and deficit levels aren’t sustainable.

That isn’t a starling revelation for anyone with a high school math comprehension level.

I appreciate Prime Minister Topolanek speaking bluntly about President Obama’s budget. It’s time people started telling President Obama that his economic policies aren’t sustainable and his spending habits are irresponsible.

Prime Minister Topolanek’s statement undercuts something President Obama said during Tuesday night’s dismal press conference:

At the end of the day, the best way to bring our deficit down in the long run is not with a budget that continues the very same policies that have led us to a narrow prosperity and massive debt. It’s with a budget that leads to broad economic growth by moving from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest.

At the end of the day, President Obama’s budget sends the deficits skyrocketing. Because they invest most of their money in ideological policies, they’re really creating alot of things that simply won’t last. That means high inflation.

President Obama’s cap and trade policies are nothing more than a backdoor attempt to ratify Kyoto without formally ratifying the treaty. It’s also the enactment of a massive job-killing, regressive tax increase. Enacting this tax increase will hurt every blue collar family in America. President Obama said so in this video:

There you have it. Then-Sen. Obama told people that his cap and trade legislation will bankrupt coal power plants. In this video, President Obama admits that “energy prices will necessarily skyrocket”:

President Obama is putting Democrats in a difficult position by pushing this legislation. If they vote for cap and trade, Capitol Hill Democrats will be on record as saying they’re for energy prices “necessarily skyrocketing.” That’s a difficult sell when times are good. It’s understatement to say that times aren’t good.

President Obama campaigned with the mantra that “95% of Americans won’t see a tax increase.” While that might be true in terms of income taxes, his cap and trade tax will hit blue collar families, especially those in nortern tier states, with an earthshattering hit. That’s before considering the inflation spike it will cause.

That’s before considering the inflationary, anti-growth effect the stimulus bill, the omnibus bill and his first budget will have.

That’s before considering the possibility that Mr. Geithner’s TARP II blueprint might fail miserably.

The closer you examine President Obama’s policies, the more difficult it is to see the economic worthiness of his policies.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

The times that I agree with NYTimes supercolumnsists Mo Dowd, Paul Krugman and Frank Rich can be counted on one hand. Actually, they can be counted on one finger. Mr. Rich’s column in this morning’s edition of the Times is that first time. Here’s what I’m agreeing with:

A CHARMING visit with Jay Leno won’t fix it. A 90 percent tax on bankers’ bonuses won’t fix it. Firing Timothy Geithner won’t fix it. Unless and until Barack Obama addresses the full depth of Americans’ anger with his full arsenal of policy smarts and political gifts, his presidency and, worse, our economy will be paralyzed. It would be foolish to dismiss as hyperbole the stark warning delivered by Paulette Altmaier of Cupertino, Calif., in a letter to the editor published by The Times last week: “President Obama may not realize it yet, but his Katrina moment has arrived.”

Six weeks ago I wrote in this space that the country’s surge of populist rage could devour the president’s best-laid plans, including the essential Act II of the bank rescue, if he didn’t get in front of it. The occasion then was the Tom Daschle firestorm. The White House seemed utterly blindsided by the public’s revulsion at the moneyed insiders’ culture illuminated by Daschle’s post-Senate career. Yet last week’s events suggest that the administration learned nothing from that brush with disaster.

It’s time that President Obama stopped walking around in the fantasy/rock star world that he’s currently in. People are noticing that his administration hasn’t produced any solutions to the nation’s biggest problems. That’s the biggest reason why his poll ratings are dropping.

Instead of going on Leno and ESPN, he should be working overtime to put a plan together that deals with the troubled assets on financial instituion’s book. Because he isn’t doing that, people are getting the perception that he’s more interested in maintaining a high profile than he’s interested in doing the hard work of returning the United States to being a prosperous nation.

Another major factor in the American voter’s loss of confidence in him is his irresponsible budget. It’s an ideology-driven budget. It isn’t a statement of the nation’s priorities.

I suspect that Paulette Altmaier speaks for most people in this paragraph of her LTE:

We are not interested in the level of outrage the administration is feeling, but in the effectiveness of its response. So far, it has come across as hapless and completely ineffectual. This Obama voter would like to be spared the speeches and the posturing on the Sunday morning shows; action is what is needed.

Democrats expressed outrage over the AIG bonuses was their attempt to minimize the PR hit they took for not paying attention.

Within 24 hours, Summers’s stand was discarded by Obama, who tardily (and impotently) vowed to “pursue every single legal avenue” to block the bonuses. The question is not just why the White House was the last to learn about bonuses that Democratic congressmen had sought hearings about back in December, but why it was so slow to realize that the public’s anger couldn’t be sated by Summers’s legalese or by constant reiteration of the word outrage. By the time Obama acted, even the G.O.P. leader Mitch McConnell was ahead of him in full (if hypocritical) fulmination.

President Obama’s promise to “pursue every single legal avenue” to retrieve the AIG bonuses is meaningless because the bill that the House passed isn’t constitutional. That’s becoming President Obama’s trademark.

The more President Obama dons his Ordinary Joe personality, the more people will wonder if he’s all showhorse instead of him being a workhorse. Right now, we need a workhorse president who’ll “focus like a laser beam” on our economic troubles instead of giving puffpiece interviews. Those interviews might keep him popular as a person but they won’t make his irresponsible policies popular.

If President Obama’s deer-in-the-headlights act doesn’t disappear soon, he’ll suffer a big hit PR-wise. We need a leader, a substantive person with coherent policies.

In short, we don’t need a showhorse president. We don’t need another Katrina moment.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Coach K isn’t impressed with President Obama’s bracketology skills for March Madness. According to this article, it’s a safe bet (a little hoops lingo for you Vegasdwellers) that it isn’t so much about President Obama’s picks that’s got Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski upset:

Of course, the president’s choice drew a reaction from the Tar Heels’ most intense rival.

“Somebody said that we’re not in President Obama’s Final Four, and as much as I respect what he’s doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said from the Blue Devils’ first-round site in Greensboro, N.C.

President Obama is taking his role as First Celebrity seriously. Unfortunately, I can’t say that he’s taking his role of Economic-Problem-Solver-In-Chief seriously. The image President Obama is setting isn’t that of a serious policymaker. It’s sad that he isn’t taking his responsibilities seriously when we’re just weeks after we were staring at the possibility of a total catastrophe.

President Clinton inherited a growing economy but his actions proved that he was indeed “focusing like a laser beam” on the economy. President Obama inherited a mess but he’s devoting time to evening bashes at the White House, guest appearances on Sportscenter and Jay Leno, seemingly focusing little attention to serious policymaking.

Frankly, it’s time for President Obama to start taking his day job seriously. Wall Street’s and Main Street’s reactions tell us that they aren’t confident in his abilities to solve the economic problems confronting us. His Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, still hasn’t put a plan together that helps solve the banking system problem.

For that matter, they aren’t monitoring how the TARP funds are being spent. If they were monitoring the TARP funds, they would’ve known that AIG was spending more than $450 million on retention bonuses. Instead, the White House said that they didn’t know about these bonuses until after they’d been paid out.

After President Obama finishes his Celebrity Tour, I hope he returns to the White House with a newfound sense of seriousness. It’s troubling to watch President Obama paying more attention to Jay Leno and Sportscenter than he’s paying to America’s economic difficulties.

The AIG bonuses flap has consumed the Beltway’s chattering classes. The REAL SCANDAL is the fact that Tim Geithner isn’t paying attention to how TARP money is being spent. I posted here that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs can’t even keep his stories straight:


Jake Tapper, ABC: AIG, is the Administration confident that it, that it knows what happened to the tens of billions of dollars previously given to AIG?

Press Secretary Gibbs: Is it confident – I’m sorry?

Jake Tapper, ABC: That they know, that you guys know what happened to the previous billions before you hand over this next $30 billion?

Press Secretary Gibbs: Yes.

That was the before version; this is the after version:

Question: Did you guys first find out about these bonuses last week?

Press Secretary Gibbs: I think that’s true, based on what I read in the newspaper…

Question: But, Robert, to follow up on Jake’s point, did Secretary Geithner make a mistake by not reviewing these contracts; they’re a year old; before he cut a new check to AIG? Why didn’t he do that?

Press Secretary Gibbs: I would certainly ask the Treasury; I’ll ask the Treasury that.

It’s difficult taking Mr. Geithner to task for not paying attention when President Obama isn’t showing proof that he’s taking his job seriously.

Let’s be blunt about something: It’s time for this president to show the American people that he’s taking his job seriously. At this point, I haven’t seen proof that he’s either serious or competent. It’s time that changed.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative


For Immediate Release
March 2, 2009
Contact (Senate): Michael B. Brodkorb
(651) 296-4184
Contact(House): Kevin Watterson
(651) 296-5989



WHO: Republican leadership of the Minnesota House and Senate

WHAT: Press conference to discuss the lack of legislative progress and priorities from the DFL leadership on solving the growing budget deficit

WHEN: TODAY, March 2, 2009 2:30 p.m.

WHERE: Room 181, State Office Building

The DFL has had ample time to put a coherent budget together. Actually, the DFL majorities had more than ample time to accomplish that. It isn’t even fair to say that the DFL majorities been hesitant in putting a budget plan together. It’s accurate to say that the DFL majorities ignored their legislative responsibilities.

Instead, the DFL majorities opted to hold choreographed hearings across the state to criticize Gov. Pawlenty’s budget. These choreographed hearings’ purpose was an attempt to sway public opinion by calling on advocates who rely on government funding to run their special interest groups to ‘testify’ that cutting budgets should be put offlimits.

At the St. Cloud choreographed hearing, several of these witnesses made it sound like cutting their budget would cause the end of the world as we know it.

It’s time for Minnesota to see what real leadership looks like. That’s what this press conference is about.

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Paul Ryan is often the smartest man in the room on economic policy. His op-ed in this morning’s WSJ offers abundant justification for that characterization. Here’s his opening shot at the Obama/Pelosi policies:

Inheriting countless challenges, Congress and the Obama administration have moved quickly on many fronts to implement their economic agenda. After two months of drastic interventions, has hope replaced fear, and confidence pushed aside uncertainty? Hardly.

The budget the president released last week, however, does provide some certainty about where we are headed: higher taxes on small businesses, work and capital investment.

Rather than just criticize President Obama and Speaker Pelosi, Rep. Ryan lays out this positive, appealing alternative agenda:

In this spirit, here is what I would do differently:

  • A pro-growth tax policy. Rather than raise the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6%, it should be dropped to 25%. The lower tax brackets should be collapsed to one 10% rate on the first $100,000 for couples. And the top corporate tax rate should be lowered to 25%. This modest reform would put American companies’ tax liability more in line with the prevailing rates of our competitors.
  • Guarantee sound money. For the last decade, the Federal Reserve’s easy-money policy has helped fuel the housing bubble that precipitated our current crisis. We need to return to a sound money policy. That would end uncertainty, help keep interest rates down, and increase the confidence entrepreneurs and investors need to take the risks required for future growth.
  • Fix the financial sector. A durable economic recovery requires a solution to the banking crisis. There are no easy or painless solutions, but the most damaging solution over the long term would be to nationalize our financial system. Once we put politicians in charge of allocating credit and resources in our economy, it is hard to imagine them letting go.
  • Get a grip on entitlements. With $56 trillion in unfunded liabilities and our social insurance programs set to implode, we must tackle the entitlement crisis. President Barack Obama deserves credit for his recent efforts to build a bipartisan consensus on entitlement reform. But we can’t solve the entitlement problem unless we acknowledge why the costs are exploding, and then take action.

It’s clear that the financial markets aren’t buying into President Obama’s economic blueprint. That’s become even more clear now that the DJI had dropped into the 6800 range, the first time it’s been this low since October, 1997.

It’s time for a thoroughly thought through change of direction instead of the intellectually flimsy change of direction that Democrats campaigned on in 2006. we can’t afford more of that new direction. It’s time that our economic policies were based on time-tested principles rather than on gimmicky policies that President Speaker Pelosi and President Obama are pushing.

There’s little chance that President Obama and President Speaker Pelosi will abandon their economic plan. Still, I’m thankful that Rep. Ryan has laid out the House Republican economic blueprint.

The GOP can’t be the party that just says no. The GOP must be the political party that says yes to appealing, intelligent policies.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Charles Babington is missing the point in this article about the GOP’s opposition to President Obama’s porkfest bill. Here’s where he goes wrong:

The GOP’s united stand against the Democratic president seems to play well in conservative districts. But it could hurt their party’s national image and its efforts to regain control in Washington.

Democrats cite polls showing considerably higher support for Obama and his economic policies than for the House Republicans who twice voted unanimously against his $787 billion stimulus package, the heart of his economic agenda. Only three GOP senators backed the bill, and congressional Republicans now are condemning Obama’s budget proposal with equal fervor.

Those polls will change the instant people notice that the Democrats’ plan isn’t lifting us out of this recession. Citing polls that show support for the Democrats’ policies now is utterly irrelevant. What matters is whether the Democrats’ policies make things better for working families and small businesses. At this point, there’s little proof that they will. There’s more proof that the Democrats’ policies will lengthen and deepen this recession. What’s worse is that President Obama’s policies will require massive additional amounts of borrowing.

While we’ve heard the talk about the national debt before, we haven’t dealt with this it on this large a scale. The CBO recognizes what it’s doing, though, saying that the GDP growth will be significantly stunted for the next decade.

QUESTION FOR MR. BABINGTON: What do you think people’s reaction will be when they find out that President Obama’s policies not only haven’t worked to shorten the recession but stunted economic growth for a decade or more? What’s the odds that people will be content with a continuation of those policies?

While that’s possible, I wouldn’t bet the proverbial ranch on it. In fact, I wouldn’t bet the money in my change jar on it.

ADDITIONAL QUESTION FOR MR. BABINGTON: Are you suggesting that Republicans would do better if they ignored conservative principles?

There’s alot of anxiety within the Obama administration. They know that they’ll be judged on whether their policies lift the economy out of its current recession. An endless barrage of CrisisSpeak and spin won’t matter to people if they’re still unemployed, their 401(k)’s have dwindled into 104(k)’s and the housing market is spiraling downward and the banking crisis hasn’t been solved.

Considering the fact that Warren Buffett said that this recession will last through 2009 and that it might last well into 2010, why wouldn’t people start expressing their disappointment in 2010 polls?

John Hinderaker’s post about Rasmussen’s polling is spot on:

Inside the Beltway and the media bubble, Barack Obama is still the man of the hour. On CNN, his speeches are even compared to sex. (Someone needs to have a talk with that commentator. I don’t think he’s doing it right.) The Democrats obviously believe that they are in a unique historical moment, of which they can take advantage by moving the country decisively to the left.

There is strong evidence, however, that the American people are not excited about the Dems’ leftward lurch. Last week, President Obama gave his first State of the Union address to an adoring Congress and unveiled his administration’s first budget. What happened? His approval rating declined.

I remember joking that Hillary’s approval ratings reached their peak after she’d stayed out of the media’s spotlight and that her approval ratings dropped like the proverbial lead balloon when she was forced into the spotlight.

That’s starting to happen with President Obama. He’s given several high profile speeches. Each time he’s given a major speech, his approval ratings drop. I’ve kidded with my brother that 401(k)’s would be in better shape if he didn’t make so many high profile speeches.

This quote shows that Rep. Elijah Cummings, (D-MD), isn’t in touch with Main Street America:

“I don’t think the strategy is going to work,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat whose district is heavily liberal. Congressional Republicans underestimate Obama’s popularity, which is likely to endure despite the huge problems facing the country, he said.

Rep. Cummings’ opinion is based on ideological preference, not on polling trends. Thus far, Wall Street and Main Street alike have said what they think of President Obama’s policies. Majority Democrats played an instrumental part in passing the stimulus bill. While that isn’t likely to hurt Rep. Cummings or Maxine Waters or Nancy Pelosi, it’s bound to hurt people like Heath Shuler and others representing swing to conservative districts.

Finally, Mr. Babington hasn’t factored in how jazzed conservatives are. Last year’s story during the primaries was about the enthusiasm gap. Having all 177 House Republicans vote against the stimulus bill twice was a huge shot in the GOP’s arm. Activists are noticing that they’re being paid attention to.

Electing Michael Steele has been a positive, too. Combine those things with Rush’s tour de force speech closing out CPAC and you’ve got the recipe for a conservative revival.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative