It would appear that everything the Democrats want to spend money on — no matter what it is — should be supported as stimulus for the economy. It also appears that the only things they have stimulated are the debt and unemployment. So the answer, of course, is more of the same. How much stupidity have the Democrats created or saved? Do we have enough zeros?
Daily Caller has the details. Here’s a sample:
President Barack Obama used a taxpayer-funded Monday bus trip to Cannon Falls, Minn., to repeat his now common claim that Republicans put their party ahead of the nation’s interest during the July dispute over the federal debt ceiling.
“Some in Congress would rather see their opponents lose than America win … we can’t have patience with that kind of behavior anymore,” Obama told a crowd estimated at 500 supporters.
All class, this guy. I seem to recall a time when it was the very worst sin imaginable to question someone’s patriotism. But, of course, that only applies when one is accusing a war-time president of war crimes, not when an election is at stake. And Obama is diminishing the presidency on our dime, while pretending that the bus tour is not a campaign event.
Then there’s this:
“We had reversed the recession, avoided a depression, gotten the economy moving again,” Obama told a crowd in Decorah, Iowa. “But over the last six months we’ve had a run of bad luck.” Obama listed three events overseas — the Arab Spring uprisings, the tsunami in Japan, and the European debt crises — which set the economy back.
(Emphasis added.) Insty nails it, as usual:
BARACK OBAMA MUST BE A ROBERT HEINLEIN FAN! Robert Heinlein:
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as “bad luck.”
By the way, where’s your plan, champ? Waiting for some inspiration from The Vineyard?
President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law suffered a setback on Friday when an appeals court ruled that it was unconstitutional to require all Americans to buy insurance or face a penalty.
The U.S. Appeals Court for the 11th Circuit, based in Atlanta, ruled 2 to 1 that Congress exceeded its authority by requiring Americans to buy coverage, but it unanimously reversed a lower court decision that threw out the entire law.
The problem for Obama and the other Democrats is that, without the individual mandate even their screwy math doesn’t work. The law was never going to deliver anything but increased costs and diminished quality. But without the mandate, it just collapses.
Next stop, the Supreme Court. It was always going there anyway, but the circuit split (the 6th concluded it was constitutional) seals it.
Here is a list of agencies and commissions in the Golden State. A very small sampling picked more or less randomly:
California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) * California Workers Compensation Appeals Board * California Workforce and Labor Development Agency * California Workforce Investment Board * California Youth Authority (CYA) * Jobs with the State of California * Learn California * Lieutenant Governors Commission for One California * Little Hoover Commission (on California State Government Organization and Economy) * California Small Business and Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise Certification Program * California Small Business Development Center Program * California Smart Growth Caucus * California School to Career * California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) * California Refugee Programs Branch * California Office of the Ombudsman * California Office of the Patient Advocate * California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts * California Museum Resource Center * California National Guard * California Native American Heritage Commission * California Labor and Workforce Development Agency * California Labor Market Information Division
It’s pretty easy to see why California is flat broke, isn’t it? And don’t forget, many, many of these groups are busy imposing regulatory burdens on those who actually create jobs and wealth.
In his column today, WaPo’s Harold Meyerson begs President Obama to “go big on the economic solutions“:
It’s time to propose a massive second stimulus, offset by some serious tax hikes and budget cuts once the economy regains a semblance of good health. . . .
Economically, the case for a massive stimulus is a good deal stronger than the case for the rather minimal one that you’re calling for — extending unemployment insurance and the payroll tax cut, and establishing an infrastructure bank. A major stimulus is the only conceivable source of substantially increased economic activity and jobs for at least several years. . . . .
Which leaves us with this stark reality: If the federal government doesn’t intervene massively to help the economy, the economy will oscillate between neutral and reverse for many years.
What should that intervention look like? First, don’t just extend the 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee payroll tax, which is normally set at 6.2 percent. Eliminate the tax altogether, for employers and employees, at least temporarily. It would increase by $2,100 the take-home pay, and buying power, of workers making $50,000 annually. It would make it easier for small businesses to resume hiring.
Republicans have been cool even to extending the 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee tax. . . . In fact, the presumably anti-tax GOP habitually supports taxes (payroll and sales, for instance) that don’t annoy the rich — and in the case of the payroll tax, Republicans want to raise it. This is not, however, a politically sustainable position when Americans are struggling to get by.
The payroll tax can’t be suspended indefinitely without compromising Social Security, which it funds. Its suspension should end when unemployment falls to a specified level — say, 7 percent.
We’ll need other, less fleeting forms of stimulus, too. You should call for renewing aid to state and local governments. Infrastructure bank or no, you need a long-term program to make our nation navigable again. (Our knowledge of how to get from A to B has improved, thanks to global-positioning technology, even as the road, airway and rail connections between A and B have declined.)
Those kinds of projects may take years to realize. Your first stimulus failed to establish a fast track for creating less-capital-intensive jobs in maintenance, rehabilitating buildings, and child- and elder care. It deferred job creation to state and local governments, which have taken forever to set up even such relatively low-tech endeavors as home-weatherization projects. This time around, you should acknowledge the bottlenecks in your first stimulus and call for a federal job corps to do this kind of work.
In other words, Meyerson wants more spending, and more taxes, other than the tax that funds our already bankrupt Social Security system, which he wants to stop funding for a few years or so. In other words, he wants Obama to propose a bigger version of what the Democrats enacted in the first two years of his administration.
Yet there is no evidence whatsoever that such measures had any positive effect on the economy or employment. None. To the contrary, there is a strong case to be made that the Democrats’ spending, redistributive policies and threat of tax increases are a major cause of the continued economic malaise.
Just a few days ago, columnist Froma Harrop was busy attacking Tea party activists and House Republicans associated with them in, shall we say, rather harsh terms:
The tea party Republicans have engaged in economic terrorism against the United States–threatening to blow up the economy if they don’t get what they want. And like the al-Qaida bombers, what they want is delusional: the dream of restoring some fantasy caliphate. . . . That the Republican leadership couldn’t control a small group of ignoramuses in its ranks has brought disgrace on their party.
Today, Ms. Harrop laments the bankruptcy of a small town back East:
CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. — The stock market plunged over 500 points last Thursday, but no one seemed very perturbed about it in this tiny factory town. Three days before, Central Falls had filed for a Chapter 9 bankruptcy. These working-class folk see bottoms fall out on a regular basis.
* * *
If any U.S. city was destined to go bankrupt, it was this one — though Vallejo, Calif., beat it by three years. Like Vallejo, ruinous public-employee contracts sent Central Falls over the edge. Unlike the San Francisco suburb, Central Falls has a smaller, less economically diverse tax base. (The median household income is under $33,520 a year.) Its local government at the time of the bankruptcy filing was far more corrupt than Vallejo’s.
On this thin tax base, Central Falls faced an annual deficit of $5 million and unfunded pension obligations of $80 million. For a long time, its police and firefighters could retire on full pensions after only 20 years of service. So even though their monthly payouts were not princely, workers could start collecting them — and free health coverage for life — while in their 40s. Bankruptcy lets a city tear up union contracts and start over.
* * *
Being able to erase foolish spending decisions made in more prosperous times is a tempting proposition. Very few cities have tried bankruptcy so far, but many are considering it.
The experience of Vallejo offers some warnings on the dangers of going the bankruptcy route, however. Harrisburg, Pa., and others on the brink, take note.
Vallejo’s bankruptcy resulted in a $9.5 million legal bill and a black eye to its reputation. Bankruptcy is a booming announcement that the local government is dysfunctional. For some businesses, having the city’s name on the letterhead becomes an embarrassment. A lawyer and real estate broker recently moved out of Central Falls, not because he didn’t like the city, but because its name has become a stigma associated with failure.
But like other depressed factory towns, Central Falls retains its reputation as a nice place filled with nice working people. Less than an hour from Boston and loaded with some lovely housing now selling super-cheap, the city will rise. Its next generation, meanwhile, is playing soccer while the sun shines.
Central Falls may be a nice place full of nice people, but they spent too much money, made promises they could not keep, drove out businesses, and went broke. Who are the “terrorists” — the ones who desroyed the economic viability of their own communities or the ones trying to clean it up? It is amazing that people such as Harrop choose to attack the latter while giving the former a complete pass.
“I think the key is not to get too bogged down in detail.” Seriously.
Even with this kind of fluff, Obama can’t play it straight:
“If somebody asks about taxes, nobody is really interested in hearing what precise marginal tax rate change would you like to see in the tax code,” Obama said. “What they want to know is that our campaign stands for a fair, just approach to the tax code that says everybody has to chip in, and that it’s not right if a hedge fund manager is being taxed at a lower rate than his or her secretary.”
Really, “everybody has to chip in”? OK, how about the 49% who pay no federal income taxes whatsoever? Somehow, I don’t think Obama wants them paying their fair share.
On Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama said: “If somebody asks about the war, whether it’s Iraq or Afghanistan — if it’s Iraq, you have a pretty simple answer, which is all our folks are going to be out of there by the end of the year. If it’s Afghanistan, you can talk about, look, we think it’s time for us to transition to Afghan lead and rebuild here at home. So, again, it’s a values issue: Where are we prioritizing our resources?”
Out by the end of what year? I am not in favor of abandoning Iraq or Afghanistan, but who on earth would believe Obama’s time-tables at this point, even if they wanted to? Every year, its “by the end of the year,” and the deadline keeps slipping.
That’s one of the essential problems with Obama — he just makes stuff up. The end of this year becomes the end of next year, which later becomes the end of the year after that. Taxing hedge fund managers becomes taxing small business owners and those trying to acquire some modicum of wealth, and will eventually become taxing the middle class — without ever openly advocating for it, mind you — to pay for an ever-expanding welfare and regulatory state.
“Federal Reserve policy makers may start weighing additional steps to prop up the recovery after growth fell below 1 percent in the first half of this year and economists began cutting second-half growth forecasts.” The solution for government failures is always more government intervention.
Ace reports some under-reported news from Gallup’s latest poll:
Forty percent of Americans approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president in Gallup’s three-day rolling average for July 26-28, a new low for him by one percentage point. His overall approval rating essentially matches his recent rating for handling the debt ceiling negotiations.
I think one reason this debate is bleeding off President Obama’s support among the general population is that it emphasizes one of his greatest liabilities. The President is incapable of leading. There isn’t a single issue, in fact, on which this President has shown any inclination or ability to lead. His mis-handling of the debt-ceiling debate is a stark example.
Obama has been talking just about every day, but about . . . what, exactly? If the debt-ceiling is so damn important — and it very well may be, for all I know — where is the President’s plan? If he’s the adult in the room, where is his plan? If he is the voice of centrism, bipartisanship, and reason, where is his plan? If he is a leader, where is his plan?
The reason this debate is so debilitating for the President is that it further reinforces an image that is rapidly cementing — the man holding title of leader of the free world isn’t a leader at all.
Really. That’s what Eugene Robinson says:
People may dislike paying taxes, but they dislike unemployment more. Progressives should talk about bringing the nation back to full employment and healthy growth — and how this requires an adequately funded government to play a major role.
The next time Moe asks about the big idea, Democrats, say “jobs.” You might avoid a slap on the noggin and a poke in the eyes.
Here’s the problem. The Democrats have been throwing money and government programs at the “jobs problem” since Obama came into office. Their policies have been an economic disaster. So what does Robinson want? More of the same, of course!
That is not a “Big Idea,” to use Robinson’s phrase. It is a Bad Idea.
Government intervention in the economy is strangling it. The reason we are not drilling for oil in the U.S. is government. The reason businesses are not hiring is government. The reason people bought houses they couldn’t afford (or were unwilling to pay for) was government. The reason health care costs are predicted to skyrocket over the next few years is, you guessed it, government.
The Democrats controlled both houses of congress and the presidency for two full years. They pursued their progressive agenda with abandon and tried to “bring[ ] the nation back to full employment and healthy growth” through a massively funded government playing a major role in the economy. What has that brought us? Nothing good. Instead of a vibrant economy we have a stagnant one.
The solution to failures of government intervention is not more government intervention. And the solution for what ails progressives is not a bumper sticker that says “Jobs.”
Jennifer Rubin has posted a great ad by the group Concerned Women for America that is a must see. It is effective because it is so low key, and almost sweetly takes the wood to big spenders in Washington without mercy. If I were running a campaign for a conservative candidate anywhere, I would be itching to run this ad. Good stuff.
By the way, the reaction by the campaign of Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is classically stupid. Take notes, champ — do some investigation before attacking those who run ads against you. This is NOT the kind of response a competent campaign draws from third party advocates:
“The Tester campaign’s assertion that CWA lobbied Congress against child pornography protection is absolutely false. To the contrary, CWA strongly supports tough penalties for those who peddle in child pornography. And Senator Tester should have known better—it is publicly known that I was personally the victim in an attempted sexual attack by a suspected pornography addict while I was pregnant with my daughter. I was rescued by a passing motorist, and have spent the last 15 years as a champion against child pornography and indecency—including more than 3 years of public service working on this issue at the FCC. Concerned Women for America demands an apology from Senator Tester for this false and unseemly attack.”
Ouch, and well-deserved.
In a post about the debt ceiling debate at NRO’s The Corner, Michael Cannon makes a point in parentheses that instead deserves emphasis:
As a policy matter, I want to cut the federal government’s claim on the people’s economic resources by much more than 40 percent. (Dear critics, please note that it’s no kind of objection to say that cuts of that magnitude would cause vulnerable people pain. The alternatives — higher taxes or a Greek-style debt crisis — would also cause vulnerable people pain. In my estimation, they would cause more pain to greater numbers of vulnerable people.)
Precisely. The Democrats wail that any spending cuts will necessarily harm certain folks. That’s likely true, although I would argue that properly targeted cuts would mostly remove undeserved subsidies rather than impose true hardship. But whether or not, for example, farmers deserve subsidies that cost tax dollars and increase the cost of food for the rest of us, cutting subsidies people have relied upon for years will cause hardship.
But what is the alternative? Continuing their spending binge will only bring greater pain tomorrow, and grasping after additional tax dollars will only prolong the hangover.
The problem is, you eventually run out of other people’s money. What’s their plan then? It is, unfortunately, the same as the President’s plan now. There just isn’t one.
“House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D.-Md.) said on the House floor last night that if the balanced budget amendment Republicans are supporting is ratified and included in the Constitution it would make it ‘virtually impossible’ to raise taxes.” I can live with that.
But is that really what the Republicans are proposing? Of course not:
The push for a balanced budget amendment is part of the Republican Cut, Cap and Balance plan. This plan would increase the federal debt limit by $2.4 trillion in exchange for cutting federal spending by $111 billion next year and for congressional passage of a balanced budget amendment that, if ratified, would require supermajority votes in Congress to increase taxes, increase the debt limit, or spend more than 18 percent of GDP in a given fiscal year.
It would certainly make it harder to raise taxes (or spend more than the historical baseline of 18% of GDP per year), but it would not be virtually impossible. It would require wide-spread bipartisan commitment to any tax increases or expensive spending proposals.
And here I thought we were supposed to be in favor of “balanced” approaches and bipartisanship. This is all so confusing.
Hot Air has a video clip of President Obama complaining, once more, about the problems of divided government. Things would be just so much better if he didn’t have to deal with those pesky Republicans and all their plans.
Ed Morrissey responds with a couple of questions some enterprising reporter might want to ask:
Say, didn’t Democrats have the town to themselves in 2010? Didn’t they have an opportunity to raise the debt ceiling at that time, and pass a budget for FY2011 as well? In fact, Democrats still control the Senate in 2011. Where is their plan to deal with the issues? For that matter, where is Obama’s?
In addition, didn’t President Obama offer up his own budget in February of this year that utterly failed to deal with the debt crisis? And wasn’t that budget proposal so bad that it fail to receive even one vote in the Democrat-controlled Senate?
Here’s an idea — let’s make sure resident Obama has all the time in the world to spend with his daughters, golf, play basketball, or vacation by say January 2013.