Republicans 47 Democrats 46

…That is what the most recent USA Today/Gallup would read like if politics were a sporting event.  This score does not really provide us with anything substantive, so we need to break down the game-time statistics instead.  For this, I decided to go to The Huffington Post.  Keep your friends close, your enemies non-friends closer (in the spirit of civility and the censoring of Huckleberry Finn).  This is the equivalent of reading the Washington Post to see how the Cowboys played… nevertheless, I am certain that we can gleam some valuable insight by considering HuffPo’s point-of-view.  Here’s how it starts out:

Forty-seven percent of respondents said that they had a favorable view of the GOP, while 43 percent said they had an unfavorable view. Since late in 2005, Gallup has rarely found the party with an unfavorable rating below 50 percent

Now, I am no professional writer.  However, I am a graduate of Montgomery County’s public schools, and remember being taught that if you are going to write numbers stick to writing them out or writing the number (forty-seven or 47), but do not mix.

The article points out that Republicans have a 47% Favorable rating, and a 43% Unfavorable rating.  Not overly impressive, except when it is mentioned that Republicans carried out a November landslide with worse favorable numbers.  The Democrats have a 46% Favorable rating, and 47% Unfavorable one.  This isn’t very good for the party that tends to enjoy high favorable marks because, let’s face it, they come across as the bleeding-heart caring type.  Everyone is more favorable of the parent that says ‘yes’ all of the time, and never punishes, and is the push-over; while the other parent is the one that really molds your disciplined being.  That is what Americans need, they need the disciplinarian.

Despite all of the wonderful information that can be taken from this poll, and all of the analysis that can be done, Huffington Post chooses to live in the past:

As the Gallup poll’s trend data shows, public views of the parties can shift quickly. As recently as May of last year, Gallup found that only 36 percent of Americans had a positive view of the Republican Party while 58 percent had a negative view, for a net rating of -16.

…Really…?  Who’s living in the past now?  By the way, this was how the article was closed-out.  Brava HuffPo!

-rj

Obama Rating Spike Par For Course

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:

  1. It makes him look generally more favorable and increases his poll percentages (which obviously is the reason this is being written).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

The Party of Oh… Crap

I am a Cowboys fan… Dallas Cowboys.  Let me give you a quick synopsis of what that meant this past year:

Dallas Cowboys start season as Super Bowl contenders, and Jerry Jones hints constantly at looking forward to the Cowboys playing in the Super Bowl at the brand new Texas Stadium (which, of course, is bigger than YOUR stadium).

Dallas Cowboys go 0-2… win 1 game, then lose the next 5.

1-7 for the team that had high hopes.  Many wept, Redskins fans rejoiced; we crumbled.

HOWEVER,

I now get to see what it felt like to be a Skins fan, and watch your rivals crumble under the weight of their own egos and expectations (Well, I got to twice, when the University of Texas precipitously fell to the bottom of the Big 12 South; below Baylor!).  Did anyone pay attention to the events of tonight on Capitol Hill?

I am watching the Democratic Party collapse tonight.  I’m popping popcorn, drinking a Shiner, and laughing at what I am hearing and reading.  Democrats were short of the 60 votes they needed to try and pass the DREAM Act in the Senate, so they shelved it.  Bear in mind, it is being placed on hold temporarily because the democrats have before the end of the year to try and legislate themselves some-million votes nation-wide.  Nevertheless, a victory for Republicans.  Next, Democrats failed to get the 60 votes needed for a procedural motion on the 2011 Defense Authorization Bill, which included the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell provision.  Since that failed, Senators have promised to re-introduce a free-standing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell bill on the floor; but this is not exactly a morale booster for Senate Democrats today.  Finally, Democrats are none-too-pleased with the President and his reaching across the aisle on the issue of tax cuts.  How mad could they be?  Well, Rep. Shelley Berkley acknowledged that someone in the Democratic Caucus hissed “F*** the President” as they debated the bill.  As Ron White says: there’s some good news.  The outcome is that the Democratic Caucus came out and announced their stance on the bill, which follows what was said inside the caucus in the end.

Democrats seemed poised to enter into the wilderness as they relinquish control of the House.  Perhaps Sam Tannenhaus will write a book about the death of legislative liberalism?  But for right now, kick back and enjoy the new “Best Show on Earth,” because in two years, that might be us again…

-rj

Sorry Y’all

OK, I want to admit right off the bat that we here at theLobbyist have been fairly derelict in our duties.  This has been an exciting election season, and many of us are caught up in the fervor by campaigning for some of our local guys, or perhaps ypu have noticed that out ConservativeCongress site has blown up recently as people become more and more aware that CC exists to help people identify the conservative Congressional candidates in their district.

So I want to say, I’m sorry.

Here we are on the crest of a wave that is scheduled to level the political landscape in two days and those of us writing at theLobbyist have let you down.  Nevertheless, we are going to get up off our rear-ends (and enjoy it when we kick the Democratic establishment onto its rear-end) and get things up here for our readers.  Thanks!

-the editors

Interview With Peter Roff, Senior Fellow at Institute for Liberty

Dustin Siggins: The CBO says not doing the Obama tax increases would increase the deficit by over $3 trillion over ten years. Your response?

Peter Roff: Keeping tax rates where they are under current law is the right thing to do. Allowing them to go up, as Obama intends, will further depress an economy that’s already flat on its back. Taking more money out of the private sector- which already isn’t hiring, innovating or expanding- is a recipe for disaster.

DS: So should Republicans campaign on spending cuts to offset what CBO says?

PR: It’s a false argument for two reasons:

  • It’s current law- to pay for something that is current law is absurd. Under current law, you bring in X taxes. They believe that if tax rates go up, it will bring in an additional figure: Y. So when they talk about a $3.5 trillion dollar hole, what that really means is it’s X+Y-Y, Y being the hole. They are getting X now, even in a static analysis. If you leave current law where it is, they will get X next year. They expect to spend X+Y, so they want to tax at X+Y. If they spend at X+Y, and only tax at X, there will be the hole.

DS: What is reasonable spending reform unrelated to the tax rates?

PR: Cut off the stimulus. Repeal ObamaCare, and replace it with a patient-centered, market-oriented system. Cut the federal work force across the board, including non-military Defense Department positions (i.e. cutting civilian defense employees). The American public is concerned about federal spending in ways they have never been before. But the real issue is bringing growth back to the American economy. How do you do that? You put an end to economic uncertainty. People have to know what the cost of hiring will be and what their taxes and regulatory costs will be. And THAT’S what you have to stimulate the economy. Encourage the American people to engage in economically-productive activity, rather than punish them.

Comparing Bush Spending to Clinton Spending

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?

Lewison’s response:

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.

Democratic Leadership & Liberal Groups Missing The Long View

The Hill had this article yesterday, showing some substantial financial rewards reaped by vulnerable Democrats after voting for health care reform:

Vulnerable House Democrats who supported the healthcare bill last month reaped big financial rewards.

Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports show the crucial yes votes cashed in between March 21 and the end of the first quarter on March 31. They received big money from Democratic-leaning political action committees (PACs) and fellow Democratic members of Congress.

Several of these members were last-minute yes votes, which helped push the legislation to passage.

Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) raised more than $140,000 from PACs and fellow members in the final 10 days of the quarter — which was more than one-third of the $400,000 total he raised for the entire quarter.

Rep. Scott Murphy (D-N.Y.) raised more than $100,000 from political committees after deciding to vote yes on the bill, and he raised about $475,000 overall.

Reps. Debbie Halvorson (D-Ill.) and Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) weren’t far behind, each raising more than $90,000 from PACs and fellow members of

Congress in the final week-plus of the quarter. Halvorson raised $410,000 total, while Giffords raised nearly $500,000.

Frequent givers included labor unions and left-leaning groups like the Human Rights Campaign PAC. Several liberal members of Congress who championed the bill, including Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), also rewarded those who voted yes with contributions.

While members flooded each other’s coffers in the final days of the first-quarter fundraising period, House leaders gave little to those who voted no on healthcare reform. In the final week-plus of the quarter, neither Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) nor Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) gave money to any member who voted no.

This, of course, is standard politics- reward those who help you, ditch those who don’t. Heck, it’s standard in life. Still, it’s clear that leading Democrats and liberal groups are a) as big on ideological purity as the Republican Party is accused of, and b) unwilling to look at the longer picture, namely that it’s the Democrats who voted against the law that are the ones Democrats NEED if they want to win consecutive elections, and have a long run at ruining America’s financial future.

Of course, these so-called “conservadems” and “DINOs” will be replaced by relatively moderate Republicans and conservatives in many districts, as the political pendulum swings, and in a year I’ll probably be criticizing RINOs and moderate conservatives as they vote for bad bills. However, given the lack of support from their leadership, and the strength of the conservative movement heading into the midterms…maybe we’ll actually have a conservative House, not just a Republican majority House. At that point, we can start putting good legislation on the table, not just opposing bad legislation.

Firsthand Reasons Why Farm Subsidies are Unnecessary

Last week, my father and I were griping about the size and scope of the federal government, and he noted that the Department of Agriculture is unnecessary. After all, as he said, farmers know what to plant and not plant- something he knows from his many friends and acquaintances in farming, and especially from a farmer he met on a week-long cruise in the Bahamas. Furthermore, farmers know what people want because they follow the commodities markets, not any government official’s advice.

Today, while on the Metro, I ran into a group of students, teachers and chaperones from Missouri visiting DC. In talking to one of the chaperones, it came out that he was a farmer. I asked him about farming, and farming subsidies, and among other things, he said the following:

1. His family has been farming for one hundred years- they don’t need the government telling them what to plant and what not to plant.

2. His family’s farm receives government subsidies to farm in a certain way- but according to the chaperone, he and his family could actually make more money without the subsidies, farming as they wished.

The guy admitted different farms receive more or less money, depending on when they apply, etc. However, when I asked him whether three-quarters of federal farm subsidies go to the largest ten percent of farm companies- something I read recently- he said that sounded about right.

When it comes down to it, this guy verifies what the rest of us know- government subsidies distort markets. Congress needs to get rid of farming subsidies- as well as the entire Department of Agriculture- as soon as possible, both to allow the free market to grow more food more efficiently- remember the higher-than-normal African starvation in 2008, because of high gas prices (and government-subsidized ethanol being used for gas instead of food)- but also to cut the federal budget by over $25 billion. Both Democrats and Republicans in DC say they want to be fiscally responsible…well, this is an easy place to start.

New York Times Is Off By A Bit

Following the tradition of liberals nationwide, The New York Times editorial– which I found thanks to a link on Daily Kos- this morning encouraged Democrats to push for health care reform through any means possible. It did a fair job of tackling how reconciliation would work, and how Republicans are using sound bites against it that are not entirely accurate. However, there are a few misnomers that should be addressed.

First, the editorial says this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix health care in this country. Beyond the ideological/philosophical disagreements, health care reform could take place without the misleading “once-in-a-generation” label and political risk therein and still be incredibly effective. Tort reform, insurance purchasing across state lines, getting rid of the insurance monopoly exemption, cutting fraud/waste/abuse and, most importantly, beginning the ideas of payment reform proposed by the Dartmouth Atlas Group. These are relatively simple reforms that would decrease health care and health insurance costs; decrease the number of unnecessary, expensive and sometimes harmful tests done to protect doctors and increase profits at the expense of the patient; create quality of care incentives as opposed to quantity of care incentives; and provide higher coverage through the simple idea that less cost has a direct proportion to higher insurance. (Since Democrats constantly argue- correctly- that higher costs decrease coverage, I assume they will agree with me.)

Secondly, the Times seems to be okay with making the final bill budget-neutral by raising taxes. That may end up being the case- doubtful but possible- but why not make changes that won’t raise taxes many billions of dollars? THAT would be a true budget-neutral situation.

Thirdly, the editorial says the Senate and House bills are outrageous violations of a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. I don’t need to explain why this is a detestable and ridiculous point of view- abortion is not a right. LIVING is a right.

The editorial accurately portrays Republican talking points about reconciliation a bit overreactive, and largely about politics. This is the state of Washington, where the parties argue for political reasons as much as to help the country (though I think most Democrats and Republicans are saying what they are about health care for the latter reason as well). Why do we want to centralize more control of health care in Washington, where politics, not efficiency, are the standard? Secondly, as someone wrote last year (I forget who), there hasn’t been a free market in health care in America for over 40 years. If we say health care is too expensive, should we blame the market…or the government that is colluding with insurance companies and has created a horrible payment system in Medicare that permeates our entire medical system?

Conservative Congress

Yesterday, the citizens of Illinois cast their votes in the first primary election for national office. Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias were nominated to battle it out for President Obama’s senate seat. A strong shift in public sentiment, most recently demonstrated by Republican Scott Brown’s win over Democrat Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts special election to replace the late Ted Kennedy’s, leads many to predict a win for Kirk.

While there are those who would celebrate any Republican victory as a win for conservative principles, it is important to remember that not all Republicans are also conservative. While both Kirk and Brown alike position farther right on the political spectrum than their rivals in the Democratic Party, they fall terribly short of what conservatives are searching for. Kirk’s call for federal subsidies to fund a state-run public transportation program, and Brown’s refusal to take a firm stance on abortion are just two examples. Such waffling is unacceptable.

If Freedom is to succeed, Americans must elect leaders who refuse to straddle the political fence. If Illinois has taught us anything, it is that we must begin as early as the primary elections to speak up, and make our voices heard.

J. Austin Russell

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