Posts tagged ‘spending’
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A Perspective by Daniel Horowitz | March 01, 2017
State of the Union Addresses are usually full of carefully-crafted platitudes presenting the president’s agenda in a unifying tone from a position of strength. Typically, no new ground is plowed at these events. In recent years, they have fallen flat for presidents of both parties. But given that Trump is such an unconventional president, a conventional policy speech — carefully crafted with a serious but upbeat tone — is exactly what he needed in order to recover his stalled momentum.
In many ways this was the best speech he has given to date. In fact, it was a perfect presentation of his agenda. To be clear, not all of his agenda is conservative, but that is already baked into the cake. Amidst a month of endless muddled messaging, ramblings about the media, Republican infighting, and competing factions within his own administration, last night was his only opportunity to take his message directly to the American people. It was also a time to move beyond campaign rhetoric and embrace the reality of his party controlling all of government and the need for a forward-looking message.
Here are my quick observations on the policy aspects of the speech, divided into what conservatives should consider good and bad..
Coming into the speech, rumors were swirling in the media that Trump would embrace some sort of amnesty. Not only did that not occur, but Trump reclaimed the term “immigration reform” and used it to describe what the word truly means: finally restoring our immigration system to its historical values before Ted Kennedy destroyed it. That means only admitting immigrants who love our values, do not become a public charge, and do not threaten our way of life. It also means implementing a sane legal immigration system that is not based on chain migration. He put Democrats on defense so that they will have to explain why they oppose merit-based immigration.. For those of us who’ve worked on this issue for years, this speech was just what the doctor ordered.
Trump spoke to the morality, not just the legality, of his immigration moratorium, which we called on him to do earlier this week. As Trump said,
“It is not compassionate, but reckless, to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur. Those given the high honor of admission to the United States should support this country and love its people and its values.” He also charted a completely new path on the entire premise and goal of refugee policy: “The only long-term solution for these humanitarian disasters is to create the conditions where displaced persons can safely return home and begin the long process of rebuilding.”
Earlier today, I laid down the gauntlet for Trump to finally speak directly to the problems of Obamacare. I argued he needed to call for full repeal and hold Democrats accountable for creating this disaster but then blocking its solution. Trump did not disappoint in the macro-messaging. The guiding principles he laid out on health care were sound. He actually touched on the central point missed by GOP congressional leadership — that we should focus on lowering costs rather than expanding coverage as an end to itself, saying: “The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we will do.” Unfortunately, he contradicted that messaging by hinting at a pre-existing condition mandate and refundable tax credits — two elements of the establishment plan that will actually keep prices high. Nonetheless, the overall plan was as good as we can hope for from any Republican at this moment and needs to be bolstered by allies in the administration.
4. Foreign policy:
Although the details were a little sparse for a speech this long, he made it clear that the era of nation building is over. “My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America,” said Trump in a very effective punchline. At the same time, President Trump spoke to defending American security without apologizing and waging an unflinching war against radical Islamic terror. And thank God, as this is the first time in years a president has mentioned our alliance with Israel without pushing the odious “two state solution.”
5. Drugs and crime:
Although crime is a policy mainly dealt with on a state level, I’m glad Trump used his “job” as ‘citizen in chief’ to address rising crime rates. This is one area of Trumpism that is actually more in line with traditional conservatism, even though it deviates from the current dogma among “right-leaning” policy elites. The same is true for the drug epidemic. He let the liberal open borders crowd own the disaster that is taking place in our communities thanks to drugs pouring over the border.
1. No mention of life and religious liberty:
While we’ve come to expect social conservatism to take a back seat, it’s a shame that these issues didn’t even receive the traditional obligatory mention, especially given the persecution that is taking place at the hands of the sexual identity lobby and the courts. He could have easily woven in respect for the conscience and private property decisions of others into this unifying speech and would have been a good ambassador for the cause. He won with overwhelming support from evangelicals and other faith-based groups in this country. It’s a shame they were left out tonight. Then again, the rest of the party is just as bad on this issue, so it’s not as if Trump is changing the party’s true position. Nonetheless, conservatives need to fight harder to address fundamental rights and judicial reform.
Let our policies stand on their own merits and the media’s desire to destroy them will be that much harder.
2. Ivankacare, porkulous, spending, and debt:
As always, there was no mention of balancing the budget, the threat of debt, or the need to cut spending. In addition, President Trump promoted “Ivankacare” and the full blown $1 trillion porkulous he calls an infrastructure rebuilding package. Conservatives should not back down in their opposition to these bad ideas. We don’t need another massive entitlement; we need to repeal Obamacare so that mothers don’t have to work more to pay for a second mortgage. Likewise, the talk of “crumbling infrastructure” is a dubious left-wing talking point. And to the extent there are problems with our infrastructure it’s because of the inefficient, failed federal monopoly on highway spending. Trump said, “the time has come for a new program of national rebuilding.” He is right, it’s time to devolve transportation and education spending to the states in order to improve those important functions.
Moreover, Trump must remember that we cannot have economic growth with such long-term debt. Also, the trade deficit he speaks of is only a problem because of our fiscal deficit and the misallocation of investments pouring into this country.
3. The protectionist trade policies:
Nothing new here, but still very problematic. Much of the appeal of “buy America” and “stopping companies from going overseas” stems from the general feeling that we have lost our economy and sovereignty. But were Trump to really propose a solid agenda ending venture socialism — taxation, regulation, and subsidization — along with his virtuous immigration ideas, those problems would go away over time and trade won’t have to be the bogeyman. Furthermore, enactment of true free market policies is the best way to keep companies in America.
Overall, there was really nothing new regarding Trump’s non-conservative views, and I believe they were overshadowed by the solid parts of his speech on immigration and Obamacare. It’s something we must continue to work on as we fight to defend his good policies.
President Trump must now harness the energy from this successful speech and deliver specific policies to Congress on taxes, immigration, and health care. He must whip GOP leaders into shape, get everyone in his administration on the same page, stay on message, and let his policies speak above the rancor of the media. Trump should focus relentlessly on his policies (hopefully the more conservative ones) and back them up with a series of policy speeches while simply ignoring the media. Yes, the media is the enemy, but we must not be our own worst enemy. Let our policies stand on their own merits and the media’s desire to destroy them will be that much harder.
Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican presidential candidate, conducted a 90-minute takedown late Thursday of his own Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, who he characterized by name as a weak leader unwilling to fight for conservative causes. Cruz, a Tea Party conservative, frequently bucks Senate GOP leaders and has on at least one other occasion criticized McConnell in a Senate floor speech.
But late Thursday, he took on McConnell with renewed antipathy, using pie charts to demonstrate that the Kentucky Republican has bolstered the Democratic agenda rather than conservative goals during his ten-month tenure. “Why is a Republican majority leader fighting to accomplish the priorities of the Democratic minority?” Cruz asked.
Cruz criticized a broad budget and debt limit deal the Senate is scheduled to vote on early Friday, arguing that the accord gave President Obama and Democrats all that they wanted, with nothing in return for Republicans seeking to rein in spending and shrink the debt.
Many conservatives have waved off as insignificant a provision in the bill that aims to cut the cost of the nearly insolvent Social Security Disability Insurance program with heightened fraud scrutiny.
The legislation increases spending by $80 billion over two years, breaking budget caps. It also suspends the nation’s $18.1 trillion borrowing limit until March 2017.
“This means that Republican majorities in both parties will be extracting nothing significant from President Obama,” Cruz said in opposition to the bill. “This deal means that Republican leadership will have fully surrendered.”
Cruz’s drubbing didn’t stop with the budget.
Using pie charts, Cruz made the case that McConnell has helped to pass legislation opposed by the majority of Senate Republicans but supported by the majority of Democrats.
Climate change legislation and an amendment to revive the Export-Import were among the measures brought to the floor despite opposition from a majority of Republicans, Cruz noted. The provisions passed with mostly Democratic support.
Cruz said McConnell should employ an old GOP House rule to bring to the floor only legislation that has a majority of Republican Senators backing it. He said the established congressional leaders aren’t looking out for ordinary Americans but rather big corporations, who cut them checks for them at D.C. cocktail parties and reward them later with million-dollar jobs.
Cruz also targeted now former Speaker John Boehner, who retires Friday. Boehner wrote much of the budget deal Cruz opposes. “The lame duck speaker, on his way out, will no doubt land in a plush easy chair, in the Washington D.C. cartel, and will soon be making millions of dollars, living off the cartel,” Cruz said.
Cruz said Americans are onto the scheme and are tired of Republicans making promises on the campaign trail, only to shy away from big fights once elected. “That frustration is driving every day, the growing rage from the American people,” Cruz said.
McConnell has traditionally chosen to avoid responding to Cruz’s attacks and has discouraged other GOP lawmakers from defending him on the Senate floor. Most Senate Republicans support McConnell and have privately and publicly accused Cruz of using floor diatribes to raise campaign cash from the conservative base and support for his presidential bid.
Jim Manley, a former top aide to Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Cruz had taken an unprecedented step in attacking McConnell Thursday night. “I have never, EVER, seen anything like it,” Manley said on Twitter. “McConnell should not dignify with a response, but wow.”
To try to force the party’s hand, Senate Democrats say they will block every annual spending bill unless Republicans agree to a budget summit. Republicans, for their part, say they have no intention of caving to Democratic demands. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) say they won’t convene a budget summit and warn Democrats could earn the wrath of voters by blocking bills to fund the military.
Unless someone blinks, none of the 12 annual spending bills will be approved by this summer — leaving Congress on the brink of a shutdown in late September.
“Democrats once thought it was insanely radical for Republicans to oppose too much spending, but now think it’s perfectly reasonable to shut down the government when the spending bills don’t spend enough,” Boehner stated in a Monday memo to reporters. “We’re headed for another shutdown,” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) said of Republicans last week. “They did it once, they’re going to do it again.”
Democrats appear eager to return to shutdown politics, which have benefited their party in the past. When the government shut down for 16 days in 2013, Republicans largely got the blame. “If our Republican colleagues want to keep quietly paddling toward a government shutdown, that’s their choice,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said earlier this month.
Don Stewart, McConnell’s spokesman, said Democrats will get the blame for a shutdown because they’re taking the funding bills hostage. “It’s hard for someone who’s vowed to filibuster and block spending bills to blame someone else for shutting down the government,” he said. Still, Republicans are wary of the issue, given its history on Capitol Hill.
One likely way out is passing a continuing resolution (CR) at the end of September that would keep current funding levels in place. Some Democrats believe McConnell is angling for such a solution. The GOP leader has spent much of the year making the case that Republicans can govern ahead of a 2016 election in which his members face a difficult political map. Twenty-four Republican senators will be up for reelection, many of them in states won by President Obama in the last two presidential elections. “I think he sees that as the endgame. Everything else is just going through the motions,” said a Democratic leadership aide. “McConnell has already resigned himself to a CR.”
This would keep the GOP’s reputation for governing intact and spare the Senate leader from having to side with defense hawks who want to boost spending over fiscal conservatives in his conference who don’t want to lift the budget caps. A stopgap measure would extend current funding levels set by the accord reached at the end of 2013 by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), at the time the respective heads of the Senate and House Budget panels. Their deal halted the automatic spending cut known as sequestration. But extending it for another year would not offer any relief because the spending cap set by the 2011 Budget Control Act for fiscal 2016 is slightly higher than the top-line number set by Murray and Ryan for fiscal 2015.
McConnell, as usual, is playing his cards close to the vest, offering little hint of his next step after forcing Democrats to vote on the popular defense appropriations bill later this month. He and Boehner could agree to high-level budget talks later in the year, but only after forcing Senate Democrats to vote against a series of appropriations bills, giving ammunition to the argument that Democrats are obstructionists.
Democrats argue it will take at least two months to hash out a deal on a top-line spending number, which means a stopgap is the intended outcome. “If you wait until the end, you’re going to get a [continuing resolution,]” New York Sen. Charles Schumer, the third-ranking Senate Democrat, said at a press conference last week. “That’s what they want,” added Reid, who was standing next to his deputy.
GOP aides and strategists say McConnell will do everything in his power to avoid a shutdown — though he is unlikely to make his move until after the August recess. “If it has to go up until the brink of a shutdown, we’re likely to see a CR situation happening. I find it very unlikely that the Senate Republicans would allow a shutdown to occur on their watch,” said Ron Bonjean, a GOP strategist and former Senate leadership aide.
The chore for McConnell and Boehner could be further complicated once the government needs to raise its debt limit. That’s likely to happen this fall. “I made it very clear after the November election that we certainly are not going to shut down the government or default on the national debt,” McConnell said earlier this year in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “We’ll figure some way to handle that, and hopefully it might carry some other important legislation that we can agree on in connection with it,” he said.
Another agreement to lift the spending caps when Republicans control both chambers of Congress would not go down well with Tea Party conservatives. The first Ryan-Murray deal was somewhat more palatable because Democrats controlled the Senate at the time. One conservative GOP aide said McConnell has weakened his own negotiation position by promising in advance not to let a government shutdown happen. The aide argued that Democrats can feel confident of winning concessions on spending increases by creating an impasse that threatens a shutdown.
The following article is more evidence of the importance of the 2014 elections. So, why is the media, even FOX, so focused on the 2016 elections?
Jerry Broussard (MrB)
Posted By Michael Minkoff on Jan 14, 2014
The most improved players are in Eastern Europe, including Estonia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic. These countries have gained the most economic freedom over the past two decades. And it’s no surprise: Those who have lived under communism have no trouble recognizing the benefits of a free-market system. But countries that have experimented with milder forms of socialism, such as Sweden, Denmark and Canada, also have made impressive moves toward greater economic freedom, with gains near 10 points or higher on the index scale. Sweden, for instance, is now ranked 20th out of 178 countries, up from 34th out of 140 countries in 1996.
The U.S. and the U.K., historically champions of free enterprise, have suffered the most pronounced declines. Both countries now fall in the “mostly free” category. Some of the worst performers are in Latin America, particularly Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia. All are governed by crony-populist regimes pushing policies that have made property rights less secure, spending unsustainable and inflation ever more threatening.
I think it’s important for us to realize that the United States is being plunged into an economic quagmire that European and Eastern nations have already suffered through and are exiting. While we extol the virtues of government regulations, universal blah blah blah, and socialist utopias, former socialist states are abandoning these same ideologies in favor of the laissez-faire economic policies that traditionally characterized the US. And why are formerly socialist countries abandoning socialist policies? Because they just don’t work. I don’t know how long it will take for us to figure that out. How many other countries need to destroy themselves pursuing socialism before everyone just agrees that big government top-down economic controls paralyze economies and dissipate economic potential? Seriously. This is frustrating.
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