With family in Cairo and Alexandria, I am very well attuned to the goings on in Egypt at the current moment. After speaking with uncles and cousins via landlines (all other communication is shut down in Egypt) I have begun to understand the complexity and severity of the issue.
I have been asked by many people, why is this happening and what caused this? In response, this is an issue of a corrupt government. Close to half of Egyptians are living off less than $1 a day and the citizens simply expect basic human rights and their inalienable right to freedom. Despite the stereotype of the Middle East, religion has not played a part in the protests…yet.
All of this was compounded with the brutal police killing of Khaled Mohamed Said in June 2010. This killing of a man in his twenties ignited a spark against the government. What is more amazing about this, is the impact that Facebook has had in changing the environment in the Middle East. After the brutal killing of Said, a message on a Facebook page dedicated to Said talked about a protest that would happen on the national holiday celebrating the efforts of the police force in Egypt. The date was January 25, 2011. After hearing about the protest, Mubarak’s response surrounded the theme of ‘well let the children do what they wish’. Not knowing how upset the people were and how much of an issue for change this would become, the police force was unequipped which bolstered the protesters.
As of 6:00 pm EST on January 28, 2011, President Mubarak spoke to the people promising to remove his ministers but remained bold in his belief that he should stay in power. This will not happen. Protesters are upset with the Parliament in Egypt but they are more forceful with their words and actions as it relates to President Mubarak and his corruption.
What does this mean for Egypt going forward? Egyptians must make it known quickly that they want a moderate in power. If this does not happen then the Muslim Brotherhood will find itself in power, despite what others believe. Egyptians’ best choice at the present time is Mohammed ElBaradei, though seen as an outsider and unaware of Egyptians concerns; he gives Egypt the greatest opportunity to remain credible in the Middle East. Other names like Amr Moussa (former Minister of Foreign Affairs) have come to the surface as a potential replacement. However member of Mubarak’s ministry is an unlikely choice.
The protests right now are focused on all the right things: corruption, human rights, and freedom. If however, the Muslim Brotherhood gains power it would make this protest about religion. If this does happen, it is over for Egypt. What would that mean for the rest of the Middle East? With similar revolutions happening in Tunisia, Algiers, Jordan, and Yemen; what happens in Egypt will likely control how the citizens in other countries decide to elect their leaders.
If we look at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as an example for how countries under this type of rule act, we see irrationality in foreign affairs. Fault is absolutely on both sides. However, many of the demands from the Palestinians are so dramatic that Israel has to deny them. They are dramatic because if there is peace there would not be a need for Hamas or the PLO. If these types of regimes take over the Middle East, you can expect the same irrationality (or rationality whichever way you think). Also, if this type of regime took over, what would happen to the economy of Egypt? Despite what others believe, Egypt is not as oil rich as their neighbors and a large portion of the economy is driven by the tourism of the history rich nation. However, if the Muslim Brotherhood takes over, you would see a decline in tourism revenue resulting in even greater poverty.
It is very crucial for Egyptians to continue to fight for the right things, freedom from an authoritarian and a corrupt government and human rights. It must be stated that in this fight, Egyptians must not lose sight of a better Egypt, an Egypt that is credible around the world and a beacon for true freedom for other Arabs to see.
Make the right decision Egyptians, the world is watching!
When it comes down to it, there are really only five first-tier issues facing America:
1. We need jobs, and fast. The policies enacted by Presidents Bush and Obama have failed to stimulate the economy.
2. We need to eliminate the deficit in the next 2.5 years.
3. We have too many abortions committed every year.
4. We have two conflicts overseas being run ineffectively and inefficiently.
5. Corruption and transparency in government are at unacceptably high and low, respectively, levels. Additionally, Big Government and Big Business collusion is at a level that is entirely unethical.
President Obama should, but won’t, admit that the State of our Union is precarious, and should do the following:
1. He will push for a flat tax or a national sales tax, as well as the concurrent elimination of all other federal taxes in America on our citiWzens.
2. He will push to eliminate or lower the minimum wage.
3. The Federal Reserve will be audited annually, and will have less power.
4. He will follow through on his recent op-ed to eliminate some regulations.
5. He will repeal the Affordable Care Act, and push to institute tort reform and Dartmouth Atlas-style payment reform. He will also increase the size of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) so it can begin to cut down on the $100 billion, give or take, of fraud in Medicare and Medicaid.
6. He will convince his fellow Democrats to make the individual health insurance market less government-influenced.
7. He will try to raise the Social Security retirement age to 70 in the next two decades, and wall off Congress’ ability to take from the Social Security Administration (SSA) trust fund. Means-testing of Social Security will also take place.
8. He will eliminate or cut down the size of the Departments of Education and Agriculture, and eliminate all $90+ billion in private-sector subsidies to various energy, agriculture and other industries.
9. While the President should ban abortions, the fact is that he supports them. Given this reality, he should support H.R. 3, which bans all federal funding of abortions. He should also work to enact more welfare reforms and proper sexual education so that young people don’t think of abortion as a) necessary, and b) birth control.
10. He should get out of Iraq and Afghanistan by the end of this year, or at the latest by the end of 2012. We’ve spent more lives and dollars in those nations than ever expected, and there is no end in sight. Sending more troops to protect one’s political rear end does not count as a “strategy.”
11. He should push for term limits, and complete transparency for all Members of Congress. As an example: All donors to campaigns and Members will be recorded and posted on A Member’s wall and official website. The amount donated will be posted as well, and the issue(s) this person related their funding to. This will be done within 24 hours of the donations.)
12. Cap-and-trade should be off the table, and the lightbulb ban should be ditched.
13. Members should stop receiving pay the day they leave Congress. The idea of a lifetime pension is ridiculous for a public servant.
14. There should never be another TARP-style bailout ever again.
Obviously, I am a rather conservative individual, and President Obama is not. However, I think many of the above suggestions are not extreme, and in fact are things that could be supported on a bipartisan basis. Unfortunately, the event is more about political partisanship than actual results, which is symptomatic of why our nation is headed into deep, deep trouble in the next few years.
Update: Silly me- I forgot to mention in the “jobs” portion of this post that he should allow more opportunities for nuclear power, and in the budget section that he should push for reform of our defense contracting policies.
Financially, The United States of America is heading the way of Greece, Britain and France. Rebellion and fiscal implosion are possible (likely?), and a dedicated third party is almost definite, if we don’t balance the budget by 2013. Unfortunately, few Members of Congress are willing to take the political risks necessary to balance the budget at all, never mind by 2013.
Fortunately, at least some Republicans are willing to take a stab at eventual balance of the budget. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has his Roadmap, but I do not consider it all that serious since it adds debt for over 50 years before balancing the budget. We can’t afford that. What we can perhaps afford is the Ryan-Rivlin proposal which, as Veronique de Rugy shows here, significantly diminishes the cost of health care over the next 40 years and saves hundreds of billions annually while doing so.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to worry about the long-term debt if we can’t get past the short-term. This is where the decent, though not nearly expansive enough, Spending Reduction Act kicks in. Proposed this week in The Washington Examiner by Senator Jim Demint (R-SC), the House’s Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) and the RSC’s Budget and Spending Taskforce leader Scott Garrett (R-NJ), it aims to cut $2.5 trillion in discretionary spending over the next decade.
However, no plan to balance the budget is complete without looking at national defense and budgetary fraud, and this is where Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) enters the field of play. First with his various attempts to combat $100 billion in Medicare and Medicaid fraud (see one example from the last Congress here), and secondly with his detailed memorandum last year, Coburn is a one-man wrecking machine in the Senate.
If even half of the potential savings in these efforts are realized, the federal budget would drop by over $200 billion right away. Add in the medium-term and long-term impacts of defense and health reforms and we might actually have a balanced budget before Indiana governor Mitch Daniels hits his second term. (Of course, with Chris Christie as his vice president, maybe it will happen even faster. One can only hope.)
At times the only thing that surprises me is the incoherent gullibility of many in the conservative and moderate movement. Either that or some liberals that were polled have found some renewed faith in the promised one.
Consider though a couple of stats from the latest poll outside of the 53% approval rating:
- Only 45% approve of his handling of the economy. Some states hit 18% unemployment this week.
- 56% believe the country is on the wrong track.
- 71% believe that we will have to eventually give up on Afghanistan.
And here are two that are off the charts bizarre:
- 40% polled believe Obama is a moderate.
- 11% polled believe Obama is a conservative.
Seriously, who are these people being polled and what cave do they live in that still have telephone service in which to be selected for polling? Bare in mind that 3 years ago 55% considered Obama a liberal and at current after selling out Europe’s missile defense to Russia, spending more money in 2 years than Bush did in 6, pushing through a health care bill, backing FCC regulatory control over the Internet, and attempting to push through a massive global warming based energy policy, only 45% consider him liberal. Explain that one…
So why does Obama suddenly come of as a moderate and receive a bump in approval rating? My personal guess is that he received a slight resurgence in faith from liberals by way of the missile treaty and allowing gays in the military to be more forthright in their *cough* preferences. Additionally, he’s probably re-captured some moderates and confused conservatives via his opinion editorial in the Wall Street Journal that came across as pro-business to some. And you’re welcome to disagree with me, but personally I felt that the Tucson memorial speech was simply another ra-ra campaign speech, which would certainly be seen as favorable by some.
In the end, Obama is a brilliant man, and he puts intelligent people around him. Everything he is doing to appear to be having a change of heart and open arms toward conservatives and the Republican Party is fake. And furthermore, it is strategically designed to appear that way. The reasoning is simple:
- It makes him look generally more favorable and increases his poll percentages (which obviously is the reason this is being written).
- If he makes nice then it increases the chance of conservative members of Congress letting down their guard and voting in favor of Obama goals oriented legislation in the future which is a win for his administration.
- He wins (for the most part) in any case. If Reps ignore his gestures of working together and finding middle ground, then he bashes the GOP in the next presidential election for working against him. If Reps work with him, then he uses that to his advantage during the next election and says that the GOP was not really doing anything different.
This is simply par for the course with Obama. Don’t let the rug get pulled out from under you.
Nothing boils my blood faster than a conversation on the “separation of church and state”. The temperature rating will quickly escalate to levels comparable to the surface of the sun when I am additionally “informed” that the phrase is in the Constitution.
Michael Prell has a great article today on dumb people who get pissed off at anything to do with Christmas because it has the word Christ in it. Which if anyone recalls is the reason the holiday began in the first place. Best Buy and Amazon did not establish the event, though we have had Santa and given gifts for a very long time. But the point really is that the anti-Christmas sentiment is quite perplexing. Everyone knows Easter is about the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. People know that Thanksgiving was established to give thanks to Jehovah. But Target isn’t banning its employees from saying, “Happy Easter”.
Anyway, Prell talks about this guy who failed at bombing the “Holiday Tree” in Portland. And he points out the irony in that this Muslim terrorist tries to go blow up a Christian symbol that was already neutered by the city government and wasn’t even called a Christmas tree anymore. So basically this guy just wanted to murder people. Why? Because Islam is a peace loving religion…
(By the way, Prell mentions that after this guy tried to murder people in Portland via a weapon of mass destruction the Portland Mayor increased security around local mosques…not Christian churches…the local mosques. He wanted to make sure there was no backlash on the local Muslim community that is “peace loving”. You can’t make this stuff up.)
The kid was Somalian, and their Prime Minister assures us that Somalia is a peace loving country with peace loving people. He apparently forgot about that little incident with Mohamed Farrah Aidid. They made a movie about it. It was awesome!
One thing that I think is very important that Prell points out is the double standard that Christianity is treated with. It’s really treated like a plague by most of our government. Like they don’t want the stench of it anywhere near them or someone will complain. Only in America does the majority rule until a fraction of the population gets their feelings hurt.
What exactly is so threatening about Christians, at Christmastime, celebrating a national holiday which was proclaimed by Congress back in 1870? This is the part where the Anti-Christmas Brigade will jump up and recite from its holiest of holy scriptures: Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, in which he wrote of “a wall of separation between Church & State.”
The funny thing about that wall is: it appears to only be impervious to Christians.
Earlier this year, President Obama smashed through that wall when he, too, invoked the name of Thomas Jefferson — not to oppose, but to defend the expression of religion in the biggest town square in America: New York City and the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.” He said “Thomas Jefferson wrote that ‘all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion’” and he upheld “the principle that people of all faiths…will not be treated differently by their government.”
But people of different faiths are treated differently by their government.
Just a few miles down I-95 from the Ground Zero Mosque, the government of Philadelphia banned (and then unbanned) “Christmas Village.” In Portland, the “Christmas Tree Bomber” had to settle for trying to bomb a “holiday tree,” because the government of Portland already got to the infidels before him and changed “Christmas tree” to “holiday tree.” And, lest you think that this targeting of Christianity is limited to Christmastime, recall the case of 12 Christian students in Washington State who were suspended for praying at school. By contrast, USA Today reports that “some public schools and universities are granting Muslim requests for prayer times, prayer rooms and ritual foot baths, prompting a debate on whether Islam is being given preferential treatment over other religions.”
Yesterday in a post by Melissa Clouthier, whom many of you know as @MelissaTweets on Twitter, she discussed the “needless division between social cons and fiscal cons”. Clouthier believes that the 60 new congressmen and six new senators that make up the new conservative entrants into Congress are already finding areas within the Republican agenda to disagree with rather than coming together to fight against liberals and progressives. Clouthier points to an article in Politico in which the GOProud and some tea party leaders have called for Republicans to focus only on fiscal issues and leave the social issues at home for another day
Clouthier proposes the question, “Does this mean that the majority of Republicans or even Independents no longer care about social issues like abortion and gay marriage?” She says no. But she goes on to list several reasons why many do not want social issues at the forefront of any discussion in Congress at the moment.
She lists the following, and I respond to each:
1) “If the country goes belly up, the social issues become moot.”
This just doesn’t make any sense. I’m not quite sure what world an individual lives where they believe that social issues are no longer important just because there are economic hardships. We can look back to many times in our countries history in which social issues were still fundamentally important even in times of strife or struggle. Consider the foundations of our country. When Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence the focus of this declaration was to establish liberty and freedom from tyranny from the British Empire. The states at this point in time existed under the harsh thumb of taxation and the watchful eye of British troops. The main point of the Declaration of Independence and what the representatives from each state as a whole were uniting together for was to establish independence from this foreign power. And yet one of the main struggles in writing the document for Jefferson was the social issue of slavery.
2) “Social issues serve to divide in a time when the American populace needs to be united against an overreaching government.”
This is true…well the back bit. The current administration of the United States along with the actions of Congress are overreaching. The government is spending more money than they take in and they are taking on responsibilities they were never intended to take on and spending tax money on programs that they were never empowered to create.
We know that the government is acting in a far-reaching manner because the creator of the Constitution, James Madison, stated, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents”.
However at the same time the Obama administration has pushed back against social issues as well. The administration has financially supported abortion in foreign countries, has encouraged the gay agenda, has fought against traditional moral values, and spit in the face of the fact that our country was very much founded as a Christian nation. Part of the very definition of conservative-libertarianism (Which Clouthier claims as her ideology, as do I.) is that the individual who holds that ideology is an individual who finds that there is tension between liberty and morality. The very nature of the conservativism within conservative-libertarianism is to maintain a strong belief in traditional moral and family values.
I hold that an individual who is willing to throw away part of their ideology to fight for another part of their ideology never held true to the first part to begin with. You cannot simply put on speckled glasses and focus on one sector in which the Obama administration and current Congress have been detrimental. The administration and out-going Congress have rendered havoc in both fiscal and social arenas. Why in the world would we as conservatives allow our fundamental principles and beliefs to be trampled on for the sake of money. Because in the end, that is exactly what we are doing. I will not apologize for the statement and belief that moral social values are the bedrock of society. I have no desire to be fiscally rich and morally bankrupt.
3) “Limiting the government necessarily also means stopping the funding to egregious socially repugnant issues.”
Clouthier’s third point is abstract. She isn’t wrong but she isn’t right either. You can limit the funding of “egregious socially repugnant issues” (By the way I love your phrasing of that Melissa!) and it will deal with many social issues via limiting or stopping the funding that backs certain social programs. However not all social issues are social programs just like not all social programs have anything to do with social issues. So limiting or stopping funding for certain programs is not the end-all be-all solution for social issues.
Her example of Gov. Christie’s defunding abortion clinics in New Jersey as solely a fiscal policy solution just doesn’t work either. You can paint a white horse black but that still doesn’t make it a black horse. Christie is dealing with social issues. Just because he dealt with it via fiscal means through rescinding funding does not mean that he was not dealing with a social issue.
Now don’t get me wrong, Melissa Clouthier is a fine conservative-libertarian. But I think that she missed the boat on this one. I did not send my representatives to Washington to have my ideology represented in part. I want my representatives to be debating and discussing the issues, all the issues. I want them debating social issues. There is nothing wrong with debate and discourse. Additionally, there is nothing even remotely insinuating that debate and discourse over social issues will prevent a conservative representative or senator from carrying out their due diligence when it comes to fiscal issues. There is no evidence, especially considering that none of these rookies have even taken a step into the halls of Congress, that they will not be able to deal with social issues and deal with fiscal issues at the same time.
Finally, someone please explain to me when we would get back to social issues if we put them on hold? Who decides when the economy is back on track? How good would it have to be? And who would decide what is good? Who is the almighty and ubiquitous voice we trust to say, “Okay everyone, we have now won the fiscal battle in Washington, it’s now okay to start discussing and defending social issues”. The idea is ridiculous. Getting fiscal issues “right” in D.C. could be a 20 year battle, conservative majority or not. And who decides what “right” is? Let’s also bare in mind that conservatives don’t totally agree on how to get fiscal problems solved either.
Fiscal issues are “how issues” and how issues will always exist and those problems will always need to be solved. Social issues are “why issues” and why issues will always be questioned and debated. You cannot put social issues on hold in the legislature anymore than it would be possible to decide that our country would put fiscal issues on hold and reserve that time to discuss social issues.
Today is a great day for Conservatives. There is a weariness in our souls that has somewhat dissipated. But something has been troubling me for some time now, and I think that it is important that we all take a minute to find some perspective.
I’ve repeatedly heard from television talking heads, my radio, and politicians that now the work will begin to reduce spending, provide tax breaks, repeal Obamacare, push nuclear energy, so on and so forth. But folks, that’s just not going to happen. I’d be willing to bet that none of that happens.
This election was not about actively reversing trends. We just don’t have the power to do that. Our side will not be able to push an agenda, and even if our side could do that, the likelihood of President Obama signing anything Conservatives sent to him is slim to none. In military strategy you have the “rollback” and you have “containment”. The rollback is the complete annihilation of the enemy. And containment of course is a strategic blockade.
What this election was truly about was creating a two year containment or a blockade. We all saw very clearly how much damage could be done in two years with a Progressive president and a Congress full of his sheep. The results of this election simply keep President Obama in check, when he was clearly not in check the last two years. 2012 should be Conservatives goal for really seeing a reversal of trends.
Perspective is an important thing, and it will be increasingly important as we edge closer to 2012. Why? Mainly because Conservatives have made a stand, the Tea Party has made a stand, and that passion, involvement and trend needs to continue into the 2012 presidential election. If we lose perspective though, and talking heads and politicians begin waxing poetic about how they are about to roll all of Obama’s policies back over the next two years, then the reality is that Conservatives could be in the same pot of boiling water in two years time that Liberals and Progressives are currently sitting in.
Now is not the time for politicians to be making promises that Congressional Conservatives do not have the power to act on, and talking heads and radio show hosts should be reminding viewers and listeners of this fact. We would simply be setting ourselves up for failure. Under-promising and over-delivering should be the slogan of every Conservative in office right now. For the last two years we have been playing a football game without a defense or an offense. We just got our defense in play to keep Obama from out right scoring. But the reality is that we won’t have an opportunity to get an offense into the game until 2012. If we all keep that in mind over the next short 24 months, and keep our passions and involvement high, then we can take back the Senate and potentially the presidency and start the Republican Rollback of the Progressive movement.
The annals of English history shall record you in one light or the other. You have snatched back a rudderless country out of the hands of directionless leftists – and for this, we across the Atlantic are thankful. But don’t light your cigar just yet, sir. You have failed your first test of fortitude.
Prime Minister Cameron took a step toward a Chamberlainian philosophy this last week. In a chilling statement, the PM denounced the Jewish state and embraced an anti-Semitic agenda propagated by the terrorist organization and ruling Palestinian power, Hamas. Not only did Cameron condemn Israel’s completely legal blockade of an extremist funded flotilla, but he also had the audacity to liken Gaza to a prison camp. In all due respect Mr. Cameron, the Jewish people are all too aware of what a prison camp is, particularly the few surviving with numbers tattooed on their arms. Would they not concur that a real prison camp has no access to 4 star restaurants, resorts and air-conditioned multi-level shopping centres?
Where has our ally gone? Since when does such blistering condemnation come from the historically supportive (or at least compliant) United Kingdom?
A well-placed Westminster informer had this to say about the Gaza remark:
“Whatever Cameron may be from day to day, he is always and foremost a pragmatist. He does not make mistakes. So we must assume that his “prison camp” comments were deliberate, and, given that, we must therefore assume that the effects of the comments would have been predicted. Israel furious, Israel’s critics temporarily appeased. A speech like that would have gone through the Foreign Office, Downing Street, the National Security Council, and countless policy advisors. In other words, Cameron knew that what he was saying was going to hit the headlines. So there must be a bigger agenda at play here. Turkey’s entry to the EU? Winning support in the left-wing press? Appeasing his Liberal coalition partners? The only certainty is that Cameron was certain of what he was saying.”
Just last week the German military was coordinating exercises for the Jewish state. This is a world upside down. Leave it to the enlightened Germans to realize the indispensable stabilizing force of tolerance and civility Israel has established within the region. Does anyone think for a moment that a Hamas-controlled state would allow such NATO military coordination within its borders? Particularly when the target of the exercises is the Taliban, Hamas’ ideological brethren?
Timing is everything. Unfortunately, it is not on Israel’s side. Treating the Jewish people with condescension is particularly in-vouge. President Obama’s disdainful, arrogant tone set a trend in March when he all but threw PM Netanyahu’ out of the White House. Let us not forget the Presidents bow to a Saudi King nine months earlier. The Obama Administration has conducted a policy of cooling toward Israel and warming toward the Arab world that is unprecedented. Mr. Cameron has no doubt taken pretences from his inexorably-linked political counterpart and blindly added to the atmosphere of Jewish derision.
The ultimate flaw for centrists such as Cameron and leftists like Helen Thomas is their apostatizing is done from a political runway. For them, it is always in fashion to side with the faux plight of the Palestinians and never within the context of reality. Indeed, this dogma of Palestinian land entitlement is as logical as relinquishing Texas, California and Arizona back to Mexico. The argument beholds a historical ignorance and factual bias that would make a North Korean journalist proud.
In a freak act of journalistic integrity, Ashraf Abu al-Houl, writer for Egypt’s largest news paper Al-Ahram, described his recent visit to Gaza:
“A sense of absolute prosperity prevails, as manifested by the grand resorts along and near Gaza’s coast. Further, the site of the merchandise and luxuries filling the Gaza shops amazed me. The resorts and markets have come to symbolize prosperity, and to prove that the siege is formal or political, not economic.”
Such honesty makes few waves in a media cycle bent on portraying Israeli cruelty and Palestinian injustice. Wherein the reality remains: Hamas is enriching itself by fuelling the conflict. They follow an old prescription of keeping the people poor while their aristocracy grows richer by taxing and exploiting the masses. The Jewish people are then used as a red herring. We have all seen this before.
Sadly, this would not be the first time this century we’ve witnessed a weak-minded PM capitulating to the concept that a violent, anti-Semitic enemy had the right to lay siege upon a land because they were historically entitled to it. Thank Providence that the Jewish Nation wields one of the world’s finest militaries aided by a supportive American military not in an isolationist slumber.
Our weak-minded allies should cease playing euro zone appeasement politics with our common enemy. Cameron should follow in a strong English tradition of calling evil for what it is and meeting it with force of verb and action. Failure to do so will surely condemn him to the company of the naive idea of “Peace in our time” instead of the more rational “Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”
Yesterday, Jed Lewison of Daily Kos put up a post comparing Clinton’s eight years of spending to Bush’s eight years of spending. The post- which cited the very reputable Tax Policy Center for its budget claims- showed just how badly Bush spent compared to Clinton. According to Lewison, Clinton saved over $100 billion in his final budget, Fiscal Year 2001.
I found the post interesting- not the least because Lewison cited the TPC, a partnership of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution- but also because TPC’s (and, thus, Lewison’s) claims are in direct contrast to what the Treasury itself shows in the 2000-2001 Fiscal Year, which is an increase in the federal debt of over $100 billion. I decided to contact Lewison about his claims. Below are the questions I sent, and his responses:
1. According to the Treasury, the debt increased from 9/30/2000 to 9/30/2001. What are the differences between the numbers you used and the numbers from the Treasury?
2. How much of the Bush debt you cited can be attributed to the growth in entitlements started pre-Clinton and pre-Bush years (i.e. not including the Medicare Drug Bill, etc. that added to the debt) and that obviously grew during both presidencies?
1) The increase in total debt is basically an increase in the Social Security Trust Fund (i.e., intragovernmental debt, money that the government owes itself, which accounts for a bit over a third of all debt). I’m not an expert on all the accounting rules, but if you look at the non-intragovernmental debt, it decreased. But how Social Security is accounted for is a separate issue from the overall fiscal well being of the Federal government under Bush and Clinton.
2) Outside of new programs like the Medicare drug plan, the rate of growth in entitlements should be a wash; since they are proscribed by law, both administrations would have experienced growth in them. The underlying demographics would have had to have been huge to explain the difference in overall spending growth rates.
Regarding #1, Clinton almost balanced the annual budget, but never took care of the long-term entitlement issues America was (and still is) expected to face. So while he (and his Republican Congresses) should get credit for almost balancing the budget, they should also get blame for not touching the Third Rail of politics that is Social Security. I think Lewison is mostly right on this one, though I disagree with his last sentence. (Note: the 2000-2001 recession cut into the revenues in FY2001, which Clinton could not have accounted for in his FY2001 budget, since the recession started one month after the start of FY2001.)
Lewison is a bit more inaccurate in his second point. The rate of entitlements can’t be a wash, as they continue to annually increase as a percentage of the national budget. This in no way excuses Bush and the Republicans for their spending spree(s), nor the Democrats who were in charge for two fiscal years during the Bush presidency, but it does clarify things a bit, I think.
Lewison’s post does point out that a Democratic president spent much better than a Republican president, and rightly so. He did, however, miss that that Bush was opposed by most Republicans on TARP (which Democrats mostly supported, as well as much of the Republican leadership), and while he acknowledged the drop in revenues from the recession at one point in the post, he neglected to do the final math. Using Lewison’s numbers:
- The FY2009 deficit was $1.4 trillion;
- the stimulus accounted for $200 billion of that deficit;
- and the recession accounted for $400 billion losses in revenue for FY2009.
So, while the deficit was an atrocious $800 billion, what Bush was directly responsible for in FY2009 deficit was not nearly as bad as Lewison would like to think. It certainly was not as bad as the FY2010 or proposed FY2011 budgets under President Obama (who, admittedly, has to deal with a terrible recession and seven decades of entitlements and many years of war he is not responsible for).
Overall, as I have been saying for some time, both parties need to grow up. The Debt-Paying Generation is here, as a previous post pointed out, and unless we get a batch of politicians willing to reform how much we spend on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense, the situation is only going to get worse. (And no, the new health care law won’t help prevent that financial worsening.)
Full disclosure: I informed Lewison I would likely be using his comments in a post. I am not pulling a bait-and-switch by asking him for his thoughts without disclosing I would use them.
Originally published at The Daily Caller.
I was recently speaking with one of my teachers from high school, reflecting on her summer reading assignment, JFK’s Profiles in Courage. If you have never read the book, it can be summarized quite simply in that it follows the actions of statesmen throughout the history of our country which took serious resolve and unwavering confidence. That’s not to say that these individuals who were profiled did not face fear in their hearts, fear for their jobs, and possibly fear for their lives. Fear is an emotion and it is understandable to have felt such emotion being placed in the situations that these men were embroiled.
Emotions however are not actions, and actions are not words. Words are funny things. They form sentences and go on to form speeches. Speeches stir emotions and cause people to talk about issues. Sometimes this causes people to become involved and take action, which is good. However the difference between words and actions is that a word may or may not cause an action, while an action will always be the process of doing. And the men of Kennedy’s most renowned work were doers.
In February of this year, my Congressman, John Linder, announced his retirement from public office. I’ve always liked Mr. Linder even though I was turned down for a position at his state office when I was 20 and looking for work while in college. It has always given me a sense of pride for some reason that my congressman introduced the Fair Tax legislation, even though I obviously had nothing to do with it. So now Linder will take his leave, and Georgia’s 7th District looks for new leadership. The heart of the 7th is Gwinnett County, a suburb of Atlanta, home of the Tripple-A Gwinnett Braves and 800,000 of your closest friends (except during rush hour). The district also contains other metro counties including Forsyth, Barrow, Newton, and Walton.
The district will be won by a Republican. That’s not a prediction, it is a statement.
So the question many are asking in the 7th at this moment is, “Who can be as good as Linder?” That’s the wrong question. Let’s ask who can be better than Linder. And that’s not a knock on Linder. That’s simply American to raise the bar and our expectations of our leaders. And to Linder’s credit, he set the bar rather high.
In the past months we’ve seen a lot of candidates in the 7th. Some have come late and some have gone early. Some even left the race to return to houses of waffles only to wind back up in state politics. There are many candidates for the seventh. Most of them have words. Some of them have even had years of career political words.
There is one candidate, however, who is a candidate of action and most certainly can raise the bar.
Some of you will recognize the name Jody Hice from The Jody Hice Show, a nationally syndicated talk show featured on over 400 stations across the country. Others of you will recognize the name from his courageous battle with the American Civil Liberties Union. Several years ago, the ACLU journeyed to Georgia to force the Ten Commandments out of the Barrow County courthouse. Jody formed an organization which raised money to fund the county’s defense, standing toe to toe against one of the most anti-American institutions of the last hundred years.
Ultimately, this fight against the ACLU later led to legislation that was passed in Georgia allowing the display of the Ten Commandments in front of government buildings as long as it was displayed in historical context along with the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
In the Fall of 2008, Dr. Hice stood with 33 other pastors across the country to challenge an IRS code that strips pastors of their right to freedom of speech by way of threatening the removal of the tax-exemption status of the churches they pastor. Get this: He mailed a copy of his speech to the IRS daring them to come after him. They didn’t. Probably a good decision on their part.
Earlier this year in January, Hice decided to step down from the pulpit. He felt strongly that his current call was in defense of his nation and he had determined that he would make a bigger push with his radio show. Now before dollars start clouding your vision, understand that Hice is not paid to run his radio program. He stepped down from a paying gig in order to do a non-paying gig full time having no idea how he would support his family all for the sake of restoring the Republic. Take a second with that in this economy. Don’t brush over that fact.
In March of this year Hice was approached and recruited to run for Congress and was made aware he could retain his radio show while representing the people of Georgia. So Hice accepted being tapped to run.
In case you didn’t catch that, I’ll write it again. The Jody Hice Show will be retained in some fashion even if Dr. Hice is elected to Congress.
Hice will be the only member in Congress who can walk out the door of the assembly chamber and walk into a radio station and sit there and tell you exactly what is going on in your government. We aren’t talking about members of Congress getting 30 seconds here and there on your favorite news network. We are talking about a radio show of several hours for a Representative to sit down and hash out with the public what is actually happening in the chamber.
That’s political Direct Media at its finest.
In the coming weeks, individuals will begin to pull levers here in Georgia during early voting leading up to the 20th of July. The vote will be of vital importance for the second most populated district in Georgia.
I have personally endorsed Dr. Jody Hice. And in full transparency so has ConservativeCongress.com, a conservative candidate evaluation platform of which I am a co-founder. But that group has also endorsed other candidates in the district who met organizational criteria as well. I was not paid to write this, I don’t work for Hice, and I have not donated to any primary campaign. Rules of which all members of ConservativeCongress.com agreed to abide by at the projects onset.
The simple truth is that I am of the conviction that actions speak louder than words. And the profiles in courage of Dr. Jody Hice putting his feet to the fire speaks for itself as the representative leadership that we need in Washington, D.C.