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Posts Tagged ‘Democrats’

The debt ceiling deal framework released by the Speaker’s office (in powerpoint form) does a great job of spinning a troubling bill.  Now to be clear, I am a debt-ceiling raise proponent, and I supported both bills that passed the House.  I support the goal of cutting spending in two tranches, and I support automatic cuts that enforce discipline on the political actors to reduce spending commensurate with the debt limit increase.

But the “triggers” that are intended to create incentives for all parties to achieve a solution by Thanksgiving create a no-win scenario for Republicans in November. To wit:

  • The Medicare cuts that would go into effect if the Joint Committee’s (“JC”) recommended cuts are not enacted are supposed to scare Democrats into accept the JC’s proposal.  Not so.  The cuts to Medicare don’t reduce benefits — they reduce reimbursements to doctors and hospitals.  So rather than require seniors to pay something for their health care and thereby make better decisions, the Medicare cuts would drive more health care providers away from serving Medicare patients, making health care less available for seniors.  No cost-reductions there – seniors will still get care, but they’ll have to drive farther and wait longer to get it.  That’s rationing by a thousand cuts.  So if Republicans fail to accept the JC proposal, they will give Democrats another talking point in their Mediscare campaign (Tea Party radicals, not Obamacare = health care rationing for seniors) without saving a dime in actual health care costs.
  • Despite representing around 20% of the federal budget, defense will comprise 50 cents of every dollar in the “trigger” cuts that occur if the JC’s recommendations are not passed by Congress.   If ever there was a sign that the Democratic Party has abandoned national security as a political issue, this is it.  Prominent figures across the center-right, from Allen West to John Bolton to Joe Lieberman, have sounded the alarm against these cuts, which would not come with any fundamental restructuring of our vision of defense policy.  We’d still be in Iraq (and losing ground).  We’d still be in Afghanistan (but leaving too soon).  We’d still be in Libya (for some unknown reason).  And we’d still be defending Europe from a superpower that we helped vanquish two decades ago.  But we’d be doing all of these tasks, which no other military in the world could handle simultaneously, with less armor, less ammunition, fewer soldiers, and less high-tech weaponry.  Think we’ve got a peace dividend to cash?  Consider the following graph.

h/t Heritage Foundation

And then consider that Democrats have a once-in-a-decade opportunity to strike a $750 billion hole in defense and blame it on the Tea Party, merely by refusing to make further cuts in spending.  Is there anything easier for a Democrat than refusing to cut the national budget?

Why in the world, then, would Democrats ever be serious in trying to achieve a consensus for spending cuts in November?  The alternative to military and Medicare cuts are domestic programs, precisely the things they refused to cut all summer in the face of debt default.  The automatic cuts are great for them politically, and the Medicare cuts can be undone once Democrats regain control over the budgetary process (to cheers from the Left and seniors, who will come back “home” to the Democrats).  The defense cuts, however, will be permanent — they will enrage the Right, starve our military of resources, and all but demand a pullback from “overseas contingency operations” that Obama can now say he is forced to end due to budgetary concerns.

This deal is a blueprint for Democratic political revival over the next 15 months.  Do not throw the Democrats into that briar patch, Republicans.  Admiral Ackbar knows best.

You knew it was coming.

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As discussed in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece today, there’s emerging evidence that Democrats intend to move all of their most controversial legislation — and their hearts’ deepest desires — to a lame duck session after the November elections.  That way, their members don’t have to take tough votes in advance of their elections in the fall, but Democrats still get to take advantage of their once-in-a-generation situation of huge majorities in Congress with a friendly president.  Card check, cap-and-trade, higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy — it’s all in the lame-duck agenda.

There is nothing illegal, unconstitutional, or improper about this.  It is, however, anti-democratic, cynical, and entirely preventable.  In response, the 41 Republican members of the U.S. Senate should issue a joint statement, signed by everyone, making it clear that while they will attend and participate in any session of the Senate that is called, they will all vote against cloture on every piece of legislation brought to the floor during a lame-duck session (at least assuming there is no imminent threat to the nation or somesuch thing).

That kind of statement, made now rather than in November, will take the pressure off folks like Scott Brown and Olympia Snowe.  They might be inclined to vote in favor of certain of the Democrats’ measures on a substantive basis, but they have to resent being used to pass legislation that, had it been voted on in October, could have won the Republicans a couple more Senate seats.  By saying now that they’re happy to vote on anything they bring up before November, they give themselves cover in case they are forced to vote on items their constituencies would expect them to support.   Senators can then say, “I would have voted for it if the Democrats had operated with transparency and honor before the election, but I can’t support this manipulative lame-duck agenda, no matter what it is.”

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Speaking about the new financial services legislation that they were up all night to complete, Sen. Chris Dodd saw fit to paraphrase Nancy Pelosi in one of her finer moments:

“No one will know until this is actually in place how it works. But we believe we’ve done something that has been needed for a long time. It took a crisis to bring us to the point where we could actually get this job done.”

Am I the only one who is flabbergasted that the Democrats think this is an acceptable line of argument?  Would you ever tell your boss, “You know, I think it’s a great company, but we’re going to have to buy it to find out what’s in it.”  Or “Yeah, I think we did great last quarter, but we’re going to have to file that financial statement to find out what’s in it.”  It’s the political equivalent of buying a car off Craigslist without seeing it first, and justifying it by saying, “It took me losing a lot of money on a few other lemons to reach this historic achievement.”

It would almost be overlooked as a vapid statement by a 70-something Senator who didn’t sleep the night before, but Pelosi’s statement has been mocked so thoroughly — it appears in seemingly every story about the health care bill containing nasty surprises — no politician worth his salt could repeat such words without instantly realizing his error.  Of course, the guy is retiring, after all.

No wonder Democrats are hitting historic lows in the generic ballot.  As Barone says, it’s a lethal mixture of pervasive incompetence and unpopular ideology.

UPDATE: Rob Long pointed out this gem from the same press conference. about the same bill.

“This is about as important as it gets, because it deals with every single aspect of our lives,” said Sen. Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.), a chief architect of the compromise.

Oh, good.  So we don’t have to worry at all.

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We all knew that Chicago wasn’t about to blame President Obama for their stunning Olympic flop.  Instead, the city’s politicians decided to mimic their favorite son’s most cherished rhetorical flourish – Blame Bush.  The Sun-Times summarized it by saying that “President Obama could not undo in one year the resentment against America that President Bush and others built up for years.”

The Rev. Jesse Jackson demonstrated exquisite message discipline:

“There must be” resentment against America, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said, near the stage where he had hoped to give a victory speech in Daley Center Plaza. “The way we [refused to sign] the Kyoto Treaty, we misled the world into Iraq. The world had a very bad taste in its mouth about us. But there was such a turnaround after last November. The world now feels better about America and about Americans. That’s why I thought the president’s going was the deal-maker.”

State Rep. Susana Mendoza was a bit more muddled.  At first, she felt like lashing out at the IOC like they were a bunch of right-wing nutcases, calling the vote “political and mean-spirited.”  But once she realized that they probably supported universal health care and cap-and-trade legislation, she changed her tune to one more confused than outraged:

“I travel a lot. … I thought we had really turned a corner with the election of President Obama. People are so much more welcoming of Americans now. But this isn’t the people of those countries. This is the leaders still living with outdated impressions of Americans.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, on the other hand, showed her Washington polish by wielding a nameless “consul” as her cudgel against the Bushian stench that still poisons the world’s opinion of America:

“He said … he was hearing that there wasn’t enough time for Barack Obama to dispel the old image. … But I don’t know if that’s it.”

But the White House realized that while this line of attack has its benefits, distracting the blame as it does from the President himself, it also means that the President hasn’t brought hope and change to the world, and that he’s not had a meaningful impact on America’s international standing.  We can’t have that, so cue Robert Gibbs:

“No, I think you saw both at the U.N. General Assembly, you saw at the G20 last week … I think virtually every measure of our standing in the world is different than it was just this time last year. So I don’t read too much of that into this.”

Don’t worry, Gibbs – give yourself a good night’s sleep and I’m sure you’ll find a way to make this all Bush’s fault without suggesting that your boss is weak and ineffectual.  I just have no interest in helping you do it.

UPDATE: In case you doubted that this was a coordinated line, Sen. Roland Burris also took the time to blame Bush for Chicago’s Olympic’s vote.

h/t American Thinker, Dana Loesch, and CMR.

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As you may have heard, our Secretary of Health & Human Services (and presumably our Administration) believes that Congress should honor the memory of Sen. Kennedy by taking over one-sixth of the American economy:

“Hopefully, at every step of the way, people will ask themselves: ‘What would Teddy do?’ and move it forward,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

“If people are truly interested in honoring his legacy,” she added, “the best possible legacy is to pass health reform this year and get President Obama a bill he can sign.”

What a gracious gesture!  But passing health care reform may not be enough to fully capture Ted Kennedy’s impact on American government.  Thus, I propose five more things that one can do to honor the memory of the liberal Lion of the Senate:

1.  Consummate a Manchurian Candidacy.  Since Kennedy thought it appropriate to enlist the Soviet Union’s assistance for his own presidential aspirations in exchange for help in tearing down the Reagan Administration from within, it’s only fitting that some enterprising pol promise Iran some nuclear appeasement in exchange for assistance in winning office.

2.  Make a slanderous, incendiary, public address against someone you don’t care for. It was good enough for Robert Bork, so why not for your personal enemy?  Preferably, your scurrilous accusations should have an impact on his career.

3.  Call something you dislike its originator’s “Vietnam.” Kennedy, who came of age during and earned his political stripes opposing his brother’s war in Vietnam, kept trying to relive those golden days by declaring subsequent missions he opposed to be “Vietnams.”  Iraq was “George Bush’s Vietnam,” and Northern Ireland was “Britain’s Vietnam.”  Try it yourself!  Windows Vista is “Microsoft’s Vietnam.”  Your over-mayonnaised sandwich is “the kitchen’s Vietnam.”  Your daughter’s unkempt playroom is “Julie’s Vietnam.”  You’ll find that it’s incredibly satisfying, it requires almost no effort or accuracy, and the media will be remarkably receptive.

4.  Manipulate a neutral rule to benefit your political party. Senator Kennedy has been hailed as a master of the legislative process and a key broker of bipartisan compromise.  That may be true, but he was at his best when he was fixing the game in his team’s favor.  Need an example?  On the eve of what he believed to be his friend John Kerry’s election to the presidency, he got the Massachusetts legislature to change the rule allowing a governor to select an interim Senator to one requiring a special election.  The governor at the time was Mitt Romney, a Republican; an election would have invariably resulted in a Democratic Senator.  When he was on his deathbed, however, Kennedy asked the legislature to switch it back — to make sure that his fellow Democrats in Washington had a 60th vote to pass health reform (the governor was now a Democrat).  How can you top that kind of cynical mendacity?  Some recommendations include censoring the mailings of your political opponents; effectively banning the primary media outlet of the opposition; or fixing the Census to overcount your most reliable voters (and undercount the terminally-misguided).

5.  Convince someone of your approach, then blame them when it fails. In 2001, all the political world hailed President Bush and Senator Kennedy’s joint effort on the No Child Left Behind Act.  Billions more for education; accountability for schools; new programs for teachers – it was a revolution in federal education policy, and it was largely the realization of Kennedy’s long-held wish list for education reform.  But once parents and teachers started to complain about the high-stakes tests, the absurd assumptions, the unfunded mandates, the byzantine rules, and the total lack of local control, Kennedy blamed the Bush Administration for “poor administration” of the program and a failure to fund it.  No matter that his Congress holds the purse-strings, or that the program was a fairly faithful implementation of his vision – if a government program doesn’t work, it’s a Republican’s fault or it needs more money.  Kennedy didn’t even do a good job of shifting blame for his mistake – I’m sure you can do better.

So ask yourself, “What would Teddy do?,” and get to work!  If the answer doesn’t make you a favorite of the Washington elite, it might just get you a disease, a DUI, or a trillion-dollar deficit.  Any others to add to the list?

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Senator Jim DeMint has highlighted a nasty little morsel in the Democratic stimulus legislation:

(2) PROHIBITED USES OF FUNDS.—No funds awarded under this section may be used for—

(C) modernization, renovation, or repair of facilities—

(i) used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity; or

(ii) in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission; or construction of new facilities.

That’s right — the Democrats are insisting that if stimulus funds are used by a university to repair or renovate a campus building, that building is forever banned from housing “sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity.”

Think about that for a minute.  If a Syracuse dining hall has its windows replaced by the bill, students will be prohibited by federal law from saying a prayer before their meals.  If Duke University builds a classroom building to house its art department with stimulus money, in the year 2120, the local U.S. Attorney can go to court to enjoin the school from moving its Divinity School into the structure.  If the University of Georgia so much as changes a lightbulb purchased with stimulus money in its Chapel, it can arguably never host another marriage ceremony.  And perhaps most importantly, no sectarian university could ever contemplate receiving funds from the stimulus bill, because the bill would require it to establish a “no God allowed” building in the middle of its campus.

It’s an outrageous violation of the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, which any Senator should understand upon first reading.  Established Supreme Court precedent has plainly prohibited government entities, such as public schools, from preventing individuals from exercising their religious liberty in orderly ways on public property.  But Sen. DeMint has already tried to remove the language via amendment, and the AMENDMENT FAILED.

In case you wondered if liberalism had truly run amok in this bill, this should decide the matter for you.  Even I never expected the Democrats to sink this low in week 3 of the Obama Administration.  Get on the phone, folks, and put an end to this madness.

Campus transit during the Obama Administration?

Campus transit during the Obama Administration?

Update: Malkin and the Corner are all over this.

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