Geese and Ganders

March 4, 2013 at 5:34 pm


Remember a couple of years ago when Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that his goal was to make President Obama a one-term president? The media went nuts. They equated those candid-but- thoroughly-unsurprising remarks with wanting the country to collapse.  Ever since, the Administration has used McConnell’s comment against Republicans every time they opposed Obama on anything.  An MSNBC host called what McConnell said “pathetic.”  Sen. Chuck Schumer wondered if the Republicans “aren’t trying to slow down the economic recovery for political gain.”  Google the term: “Mitch McConnell goal to defeat Obama,” if you have a free afternoon to wade through the national main-stream outrage.  The only thing more ridiculous than the blog posts were the “comments” to the blog posts – apoplectic sputtering, interrupted by occasional (numerous ) accusations of treason.

Flash forward to last Sunday.  The lead story in the Washington Post, front page, was “Obama Sees 2014 as Key to Legacy.” Quoting key Obama allies, the article describes in great detail how Obama plans to defeat the House Republicans almost a year and a half from now to take back the House.  He is clearly obsessed with the idea, and is at least as open about it as McConnell was about defeating him. He is raising money, helping to recruit candidates and has launched a political “non-profit” group that would give access to Obama for a contribution of $500,000. These efforts, the story goes, will allow Obama to take the House and push his “progressive agenda on gun control, immigration, climate change and the economy (read new stimulus spending) in his final two years.”  While we say “what’s good for the goose” … the media begs your pardon while it collectivity yawns.

Keep in mind that this lack of coverage comes while Obama is getting his fanny kicked on sequester, having failed to sufficiently frighten the American people or intimidate House Republicans.  Getting caught lying about janitors being laid off in the Capital, almost simultaneously with his Education Secretary getting caught doing the same thing with regard to teachers, didn’t help his strategy to terrify.

The point here, of course, is that it is perfectly okay to work to change one branch of government (even if you have to bring back selling the Lincoln bedroom to do it), but it is outrageous to work to change another branch.

An even more significant point is the fact that Obama is well on his way to one major achievement:  Project Overreach.  First with the sequester, then with his selling of access, and third with his notion that gun control is a winner for Democrats.

It’s funny how the pendulum swings.

Sequester: A not so bad Idea whose time has come

February 21, 2013 at 8:56 am

sequesterRepublicans on Capitol Hill are once again desperately trying to slow down the spending train in which we are all passengers, and which is racing toward the cliff. And once again President Obama is giving demagoguery a bad name as he tests the limits of the short sightedness and ignorance of the American people.

Obama, as he stepped off the golf course, said that sequestration,  which was originally his idea, now will precipitate the destruction of the world as we know  it. Our leader believes that everyone from firemen to food inspectors will be decimated if the cuts go through, and, of course, Republicans will be at fault.

Even though Obama is eagerly rolling up his newspaper again, Republicans on the Hill are refusing to act like whipped puppies this time around. They are insisting that unless Obama comes up with substitute spending cuts, the sequester as previously agreed to by both parties and signed by the President will go through. Although still fearful of Obama’s skills at misleading the public, and unlike the Bush tax cut expiration fight, they don’t have to lift a finger in order to strike a blow for deficit reduction. The sequester is automatic. It has already passed.

It’s not that across the board cuts are a great idea. Ideally, cuts would be made where cuts should be made and not in other places. We still have a double digit number of jobs programs and a shrinking battleship capacity. We have crumbling infrastructure, yet will have less to spend.  And the sequester does not affect entitlements, which are badly in need of restructuring.

But get this: the sequester would cut one and a half percent from domestic spending. That’s about a week’s worth of government spending, as we run up trillion dollar deficits year after year and  approach a $17 trillion national debt. We are like the drunk who, after buying rounds for the house all night, leaves a few pennies on the counter and congratulates himself for his frugality.

The point here: if we don’t cut spending now and in this way, when in the world will we? Our “leader” has shown that he will not cut anything except the military unless he is forced to. So now Obama has outsmarted himself  and signed off on a sequester that he thought would never come to pass. He did not count on the fact that his overreaching, belligerent demagoguery would stiffen the Republican spine.

Republicans are a political party, not a suicide pact, and sometimes they have to pay the price for losing elections by biding their time and choosing their battles wisely. Let’s face it. We are not going to make any real progress toward fiscal sanity while the Democrats control most of Washington. During this time Republicans must  stay alive, speak the truth, not follow every diversion Obama throws their way, and maintain their credibility. By not caving on sequester they show that they are willing to take a political risk for the sake of the long-term benefit of our country.

It has been observed how often doing the right thing turns out to be good politics. I think the notion that the sequester will throw us into a recession is absurd. It’s a $16 trillion economy. This is a drop in the bucket. I think the result will be just the opposite when reluctant businessmen, foreign investors and credit-rating agencies see that we are at least making a start toward deficit reduction.

Besides, it will be worth the spectacle. As the economy improves after the Republicans hold fast, Obama won’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Phony Compromise Is No Solution

May 7, 2012 at 3:27 pm

A few days ago I sat on a panel primarily made up of former Members of Congress. The Association of Former Members, along with the National Archives sponsored this discussion, which was moderated by a distinguished university professor. It’s safe to say it was a full-fledged, typical Washington group of well-intentioned pontificators. It’s amazing how smart we former Members get, once we are out of office. Surprisingly (to me, any way) it was well attended.

The subject of the evening was modern political campaigns and how they have changed. The obvious points were made about modern technology (i.e., “You can’t get away with nothing.”), social media, the huge amounts of money raised and spent, the negative TV ads and the increasing divisiveness in politics.

According to most of my colleagues on the panel, this divisiveness is responsible for almost everything that ails our government. Why? Because it keeps us from achieving the ultimate solution to all of our problems. And that solution? “Compromise.”

If we could only get back to the glorious days of compromise, we could solve our fiscal problems practically over night. The most favored compromise of the hour, of course, is the one favored by all of the “right thinking” people in Washington, the main-stream media, and the Democratic Party (maybe they are all one and the same): Let’s raise taxes in exchange for spending cuts. Presto! It’s the obvious solution to all our debt and deficit problems, if only “we,” meaning Republicans, would only compromise. So, when it came to my turn to speak, I had a slightly different view … 180-degrees different.

Unfortunately, due to limited time, I had to put aside a couple of ideas that immediately came to mind. For example, that President Obama was doing more to divide this country than all of the other politicians put together.  Also, that tax increases in a near-recession are always a bad idea.


Instead, I focused on the main topic at hand, and I took the position that compromise itself was greatly overrated. Compromise begs the questions: “Compromise what?” and “Compromise to do what?” In fact compromise is often the easy solution for the politician, not the difficult one.  It’s a way to kick the hard can down the road. Compromise is one of the reasons we’re in the fix we’re in today. What is the history of the “raise taxes and reduce spending” compromise that is so popular in elite circles today? It is this: We get the tax increases but not the spending cuts.

After having already enacted major tax cuts in 1982, Ronald Reagan agreed to raise business and excise taxes in exchange for spending reductions. Taxes went up, but so did spending by $450 billion.

President George H.W. Bush cut a similar deal with Democrats. Again, we got the taxes but the spending cuts never materialized.

There is simply no proven way to guarantee that the spending-cuts part of the compromise will be implemented. Is it any wonder that Republicans are taking a hard line of this?  Since spending is the source of the problem anyway, cuts must be enacted first.

Meanwhile, even though we balanced the budget for a few years in the ’90s, we have steadily walked toward the edge of the fiscal cliff as our entitlement obligations grow. The edge is where we stand today. The elections in France and Greece demonstrate that it’s virtually impossible to cut spending once the bond markets, because of a country’s profligacy, throw a country into crisis. We must avoid this fate at all costs. But spending controls must be done straight up and not as part of another phony compromise.

-Fred Thompson

Base Appeal

March 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm
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Not to put too fine a point on it, but…

The survival of any democracy depends on character of its people. This fact is especially troublesome when your own president is betting on the stupidity and cravenness of the people he is supposed to be leading. Barack Obama’s speech Wednesday was the most cynical and blatantly dishonest political hogwash that most of us have ever heard.

As our country is drowning in debt and thoughtful Americans are trying to figure out how we can avoid becoming Portugal, it has become obvious that we elected a president who will avoid responsibility at all costs, and when it is no longer possible to do so, he will try his best to demagogue and divide his way to a political solution that will benefit only himself.

This kind of cynicism is not something to which one is born. A person has to work at it, grow into it. Every step of Obama’s political path has been marked by rank opportunism – from repeatedly voting “present” in Illinois to voting against increasing the debt limit in the Senate.  As president, he ignored his own debt commission in December, minimized our fiscal crisis in his State of the Union address in January, and totally failed to address our fiscal problems in his budget in February. Now, shamed into responding to Congressman Paul Ryan, President Obama responds not with policy, but with a partisan attack, sending his campaign strategist, not his economist, to shill for what passes in this administration as a “plan.”

But lets’ be clear, there was no “plan.”  It was a personal attack on Ryan and a barrel full of McGuffins: Grandma vs the rich, “tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires,” how much money the super-rich make, ridiculous economic assumptions, promises pushed out over twelve years, and the burning of the usual assortment of Obama straw men. Never mind that President Obama only recently lost the class warfare fight, and nothing can be done about the “Bush tax cuts” for another two years, these dead horses are apparently good for another whipping.

Congressman Ryan and the debt commission are talking about real tax reform and moving forward, and President Obama  wants to take another bite out of small business because “Warren Buffet doesn’t need another tax cut.” He even tried to associate himself with the Senate “gang of six” deficit-reduction plan in order for his own plan to have some semblance of credibility. There’s just one problem with that ploy: the “Gang of Six” hasn’t yet come up with a plan!

Republicans, of course, will respond accordingly to this farce, as they must, and pretend to take the President’s speech seriously. Privately they are outraged. “The speech” makes everything harder, including, avoiding a debt default. The Gang of Six, the debt commission, and other Democrats and Republicans are striving mightily to work together to preserve the economic security and stability our country. There will be fewer and fewer such people if they see that the President of the United States can undo their efforts by so brazenly appealing to ignorance and envy for his own  political purposes.

But more importantly, if President Obama is correct about the susceptibility of the American people to such an appeal, the country cannot survive it. It is important, at this moment in our history that we once again, and perhaps with a hint of finality looking ahead to November 2012, that we make it clear to him that we will not fall for Obama false promises and craven rhetoric.