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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

RINOS, RINOS Everywhere

"I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution ... taking from the federal government their power of borrowing." — Thomas Jefferson (Letter of November 26th, 1798)

There is an old poem about an ancient mariner who is adrift in a small boat on the ocean and he bemoans; “water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.” The same can be applied to so-called conservatives in Washington and the media regarding the current debate over the raising of the debt ceiling — RINOS, RINOS everywhere and not an ounce of unity or courage.

The Republican controlled House is beginning to cut and run in face of the opposition from the likes of Harry Reid and Barack Obama. While Obama is losing the war in the polls the Republican leadership and the conservative press is willing to surrender for fear of facing blame for a government shutdown and losing at the polls in 2012.

An example of this is an editorial in the Wall Street Journal and read on the floor of the Senate by none other than he biggest RINO of them all, John McCain. The editorial board of the Wall Street Journal opines:

“Under the two-phase Boehner plan, Congress would authorize $1 trillion in new debt in return for $1.2 trillion in budget cuts over the next decade. Most of that will come from caps on domestic discretionary spending over 10 years—the Pentagon and homeland security are exempt—with automatic spending cuts if the caps are breached. While one Congress cannot bind another, the proposal would at least guarantee real reductions in fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

The danger for the GOP is that the committee could end up proposing tax increases, since the committee's only remit is the deficit, not the larger fiscal landscape or the size of government. A poorly chosen Republican nominee could defect, and any structural change to entitlements almost certainly can't pass the Senate.

Then again, unless the plan passed, Mr. Obama couldn't request the additional $1.6 trillion debt ceiling increase that he would soon need. The political incentive is for a reasonable package, and many Senate Democrats also don't want to vote for tax increases before 2012.

Strangely, some Republicans and conservative activists are condemning this as a fiscal sellout. Senator Jim DeMint put out a statement raking the Speaker for seeking "a better political debt deal, instead of a debt solution" (emphasis, needless to say, his). The usually sensible Club for Growth and Heritage Action, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation, are scoring a vote for the Boehner plan as negative on similar grounds.

But what none of these critics have is an alternative strategy for achieving anything nearly as fiscally or politically beneficial as Mr. Boehner's plan. The idea seems to be that if the House GOP refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a default crisis or gradual government shutdown will ensue, and the public will turn en masse against . . . Barack Obama. The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame. Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the tea-party Hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.

This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell into GOP Senate nominees. The reality is that the debt limit will be raised one way or another, and the only issue now is with how much fiscal reform and what political fallout.

If the Reid plan passes the Senate after Mr. Boehner's plan failed in the House, Mr. Boehner would be forced to beseech Nancy Pelosi and the White House to deliver Democratic votes to raise the debt limit. Mr. Obama's price could be the tax increases that the GOP has so far rejected. But who knows what else Mr. Obama would demand, and Congress might rush through, amid a political panic and financial market turmoil as the Treasury closed down government services to meet its debt obligations.

It's true that the Boehner plan doesn't solve the long-term debt problem, but Mr. Obama won't agree to anything that does. The GOP plan also may not prevent a U.S. national credit downgrade, but it has a better chance of doing so than Mr. Reid's. The Boehner plan is the most credible proposal with a chance of becoming law before the 2012 election.”

Here we have a reputable conservative leaning paper taking shots at the Tea Party, the folks responsible for giving the Republicans control of the House and an almost majority in the Senate in 2010. Now they want to turn on the Tea Party and their supporters for not falling in lock step with Boehner and McConnell. They claim that the current Boehner plan is the best deal we can get and the Republicans should take it. They ask where are the other plans that could be presented to the American people.

Just think for a moment on those days in 1776 at the Philadelphian Assembly Hall when the delegates to the Continental Congress were in heated debate over the adoption of a Declaration of Independence. There were those like Adams, Jefferson, Lee and Franklin who wanted to move forward with the Declaration. And here were those like Dickenson and Rutledge were I opposition. Their opposition was not based on philosophical principles, but on tactics. They wanted a wait and see strategy and to that end they drafted a letter to George III stating their grievances, but offering an olive branch of moderation. King George rejected the offer and those in favor of the Declaration won he debate and on July 4th 1776 we became an independent nation.

In another example of willingness to surrender we can look at George Washington, the Commander of the Continental Army, and his travails. Washington had never won a battle. He was running out of food, clothing ammunition. His army was in decline due to enlistments being up and some desertions. He was quartered at Valley Forge during one of the worst winters in decades. There were those who wanted to make a deal with the British and declare some sort of a truce with General Howe, the Commander-in Chief of the British forces in the colonies. But then came Trenton!

What if the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal or Weekly Standard had been present at these events? Or if pundits like Charles Krauthammer, Karl Rove or other so-called conservatives had been pontificating of these events? It they would have had their way the British would have won and as Franklin quipped the members of the Continental Congress would have all been hanged together.

The conservative debate over the Boehner plan is very similar to the one over the continuing resolution that averted a government shutdown in April. Conservatives who thought Republicans would pay the political price for any shutdown, thus setting back the cause of more meaningful spending cuts, thought avoiding that scenario while getting even token budget cuts was a victory. Conservatives who were less concerned about the fallout of a government shutdown wanted nothing less than real spending cuts.

That debate is playing out once again. Conservatives who think Republicans will be hurt by August 2 passing by without an increase in the debt ceiling support the Boehner plan. Those who think Republicans can survive that deadline want something much stronger. The biggest problems facing conservative Boehner plan supporters this time is that 1.) The CBO score of the CR turned out to be so deflating last time and 2.) The CBO has already scored the Boehner plan this time around before the vote, with less than dazzling results.

Instead of blasting away at other conservatives and questioning their motives and intelligence they should be attacking the enemy — Barack Obama and the Democrats. They should be promoting other plans like the one put forth by Connie Mack (the husband of my Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack) in which he proposes the one penny solution.

President Barack Obama proposed his 2011 budget during February 2010. He indicated that jobs, health care, clean energy, education, and infrastructure would be priorities. The total requested spending was $3.83 trillion and the federal deficit was forecast to be $1.56 trillion in 2010 and $1.27 trillion in 2011.(This budget was rejected by the Senate with a vote 0f 97-0). Total debt is budgeted to increase from $11.9 trillion in FY2009, to $13.8 trillion in FY2010, and $15.1 trillion in FY2011.

On February 14, 2011, President Obama released his 2012 Federal Budget. The report updated the projected 2011 deficit to $1.645 trillion. This is based on estimated revenues of $2.173 trillion and outlays of $3.818 trillion.

Right now under the tyranny of the Obama administration the federal government is on track for increasing spending at the rate of 7.5% each year. This means that federal spending would be $4.104 trillion in 2013, $4.412 trillion in 2014 and $4.743 trillion in 2015 and if revenue doesn’t increase our deficit will rise to $2.570 trillion. With unemployment holding a 9.5% there is little chance that revenues will increase over the next two or three years. How will we cover this deficit? We will borrow the money from China.

What will this money be used for? As Obama has stated it will be used for social programs that bring little or no benefit to our nation and for paying for the increases in the salaries and benefits of the federal work force.

Representative Connie Mack and Senator Rand Paul have a better plan. It is called the “Penny Plan.” In the Penny Plan the Congress will be forced to cut federal spending by 1% each year for the next six years until the federal budget was capped at 18% of GDP.

The copper-plated penny — you can find them virtually anywhere.

While some question its very existence, to Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., it's the key to trimming a bloated government. He's nicknamed the measure, officially known as One Percent Spending Reduction Act, "The Mack Penny Plan."

"It's a bill that says to Congress that you'll have to cut 1 percent - or one penny — out of every federal dollar for six years," he explained.

He told CBN News if Washington embraces his idea, it would cut $7.5 trillion, cap federal spending at 18 percent of the economy, and balance the budget in eight years.

"It's one penny out of every federal dollar. It's not a lot of money. This is something we should be able to do easily," Mack said.

According to my Excel spreadsheet the numbers for Mack’s plan would look like this:

FY 2012 – $3.382 trillion

less one percent = $3.348 trillion cap

FY 2013 – $3.348 trillion

less one percent = $3.315 trillion cap

FY 2014 – $3.315 trillion

less one percent = $3.282 trillion cap

FY 2015 – $3.282 trillion

less one percent = $3.249 trillion cap

FY 2016 – $3.249 trillion

less one percent = $3.216 trillion cap

FY 2017 – $3.216 trillion

less one percent = $3.184 trillion cap

But if Washington can't, the plan comes with a fail-safe trigger — a 1 percent across-the-board cut in all federal spending.

The one cent solution is gaining supporters on Capitol Hill. So far, Mack's proposal has around 40 co-sponsors, and Sen. Mike Enzi, (R-Wyo.), recently introduced the same legislation in the Senate. The plan also has its own grassroots network with supporters in every state.

But Michael Linden, director for tax and budget policy at the Center for American Progress, says when it comes to entitlements like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, Mack's plan runs into problems.

"The cost of running the Social Security program goes up every year, not because Congress is changing how much we're giving to each beneficiary, but because there are more beneficiaries," the Florida lawmaker said.

"And if the benefit just keeps pace with inflation," he continued, "the cost of Social Security goes up every year because of prices and because of more people."

But Mack believes the beauty of his plan is that Congress could cut some programs more and some less — so long as it makes a total reduction of 1 percent from spending each year.

"Either the Congress is going to decide where those cuts are going to come from, or it's going to be across the board," Mack said. "And most members would rather us find ways to make those cuts without doing across the board. That is really the stick out there."

"The Congress and the president need to work together, or, if not, all of us will go home sharing in the responsibility that we cut across the board," he warned.

As the debt ceiling deadline gets closer, Mack and other Republicans are insisting that GOP negotiators include their demands in any agreement.

"The only way I'm voting to raise the debt ceiling is if we have a Balanced Budget Amendment, if we have my bill, and if we put caps on spending and an automatic rollback of the debt ceiling," Mack said. Click here for more information on "The One Percent Spending Reduction Act"

The major problem we have with any debt reduction is the intransigent man in the White House, Barack Obama.

The politicians most responsible for America's debt crisis are portrayed by the media as "grown-ups" while those least responsible for it are dubbed "intransigent." Veteran profligate spenders have been credited in recent days with a "balanced approach" to the crisis, even as Tea Partiers in Congress with no fingerprints on the debt have been cast as recklessly indifferent to it.

The mainstream media exclusively defines "intransigence" as conservative opposition to non-negotiable liberal demands. Hence, President Obama's willingness to risk default rather than drop his insistence on tax increases isn't considered intransigent and reckless but principled and mature.

Polls suggest that this media manipulation of the debate over the debt ceiling is paying off for the Democrats. One recent poll says that the American public views Republican leaders as more responsible for the stalemate than Obama. Perhaps a political version of the Stockholm Syndrome is at work here. Obama certainly likes to play the captor turned hostage negotiator, saving the people from a crisis into which he has thrown them. On he other hand polls show that 66% of Americans want no new taxes and a reduction in spending. So much for polls.

At his barrage of press conferences in recent days, Obama has presented himself as the people's advocate who is bravely confronting a problem that both Democrats and Republicans have long ignored. This role ill-befits a president who spent two and a half years pooh-poohing the calls of deficit hawks.

He said at one of the press conferences, striking a remarkably patronizing tone: "Now, what is important is that even as we raise the debt ceiling, we also solve the problem of underlying debt and deficits. I'm glad that congressional leaders don't want to default, but I think the American people expect more than that. They expect that we actually try to solve this problem, we get our fiscal house in order."

Obama considers it very heroic that he is even contemplating unspecified spending cuts and expects Republicans to make a similar "sacrifice" and swallow tax increases. This line of negotiation is a self-serving diversionary sham given that the crisis is due wholly to overspending. He is simply using a crisis that he compounded through trillions of dollars in heedless expenditures to push an ideological agenda extraneous to the issue under discussion.

An honest media would expose this gambit as raw exploitation of a self-generated crisis. But, instead, it treats his euphemistic calls for tax hikes — he wants any deal to include a "revenue component" — as the epitome of reasonableness, and has assisted him in turning the discussion into a referendum on Republican flexibility.

Obama is, in effect, asking overtaxed Americans for yet another bailout, a bailout that will allow him to resume the very deficit spending that catapulted the country into this crisis in the first place. Republicans have properly pointed out that tax increases will only make a bad economy worse. But the more fundamental argument against what Obama proposes is that it is unjust: Why should the American people have to pay more taxes for Washington's habitual mistakes?

Overspending politicians are in no position to demand "sacrifice" from others, including from the rich whose already enormous tax payments make spending sprees in Washington possible. "Millionaires and billionaires can afford to do a little bit more," says Obama, adding that "we can close corporate loopholes so that oil companies aren't getting unnecessary tax breaks or that corporate jet owners aren't getting unnecessary tax breaks."

The media calls this the "balanced approach" of "grown-ups," but it is nothing more than scape goating by a childish community organizer who would rather engage in juvenile and idle class warfare than acknowledge his own complicity in the crisis. He had two and a half years to fix the problem and he didn't. Corporate jet owners, oil company executives, small business owners, and Tea Partiers aren't responsible for this mess; he is. While he was monitoring the "sacrifices" of others, he was making none himself and burying America in debt.

If we must suffer this man for another term we must get a totally Republican controlled Congress that in the words of Thomas Jefferson “ In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”

I would like to close this post with a quote from Russell Kirk’s book, The American Cause:

“The constitutions of the American commonwealth are intended - and have successfully operated - to restrain political power: to prevent any person or clique or party from dominating permanently the government of the country. Sir Henry Maine, the nineteenth-century historian of law, remarked that the American Constitution is the great political achievement of modern times. The American constitutional system reconciles popular government with private and local rights. It has been called “filtered democracy” - that is, the reign of public opinion chastened and limited by enduring laws, political checks and balances, and representative institutions. It combines stability with popular sovereignty.

It is one of the great premises of American political theory that all just authority comes form the people, under God: not from a monarch or a governing class, but from the innumerable individuals who make up the public. The people delegate to government only so much power as they think is prudent for government to exercise; they reserve to themselves all the powers and rights that are not expressly granted to the federal or state or local governments. Government is the creation of the people, not their master. Thus the American political system, first of all, is a system of limited, delegated powers, entrusted to political officers and representatives and leaders for certain well-defined public purposes. Only through the recognition of this theory of popular sovereignty, and only through this explicit delegation of powers, the founders of the American Republic believed, could be the American nation keep clear of tyranny or anarchy. The theory and the system have succeeded: America never has endured a dictator or tolerated violent social disorder.”

I firmly believe that Americans are not ready to abandon the Constitutional principles of limited government, nor are they ready to allow the federal government to continue to overstep those principles. We have achieved the greatest freedom of any people on earth and history has not provided another prospect for bettering mankind. What it has shown us is that government must be bound “…from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” But, if through the transformation and chaos orchestrated from the left in their quest for social and economic “justice” we should fall into anarchy we will lose this Republic and never regain it.

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