CRNC Research Compendium April 2011

Editor: Brandon Greife, Political Director

College Republican National Committee

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Table of Contents
The Real Budget Battle Begins This Week! Rebutting the Myth that Republicans Hate the Poor! Obama 2012: Click the “Dislike” Button! Americans Increasingly Disenchanted with Obama’s Policies! Our Important Role to Play in the Looming Budget Battle! Budget Battle Woes, Still! Deficit Deniers Begin Their Wrongheaded Assault on GOP Budget! The Captain Goes Down With the Ship! Obama, Like Woods, Must Make Room for New Faces! Racing the Time Clock, Again! You Win Some, You Lose Some! Obama Reverses Course, Admits Deficits Require Reform! Liberal’s Chief Critique of a “Path to Prosperity” Falls Flat! Obama’s Plan to Fix the Deficit? Uh, He’ll Get Back to You! And So It Goes! Obama Puts Presidential Bid Above America’s Wellbeing! Taxpayer Receipt Legislation Gaining Steam!

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Obama’s Pessimistic Vision for America! S&P Reveals the Truth About Obamanomics Tue. 04.19 ! Deficits Destroying America Like Steroids Killed Baseball! Obama Deaf to New “Shot Heard Round the World”! Fighting Back – Dispelling Liberal Myths About Paul Ryan’s Deficit Plan! Paul Krugman’s “Sickening” Attempt to Ration Health Care! Liberals Introduce the "Tax and Spend the People’s Money Budget”! Start Your Engines…! New Poll Shows Voters Willing to Reform Entitlements! Will Washington Wake Up to Looming Student Loan Bubble?! What a Slow British Recovery Means (and Doesn’t Mean) For Us! Senate Democrats Admit – Deficit Reduction Must Be Part of Debt Limit Vote!

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The Real Budget Battle Begins This Week
In basketball generally, and the NCAA in particular, the regular season doesn’t matter much. Sure you’ve got to win, but that’s not particularly difficult for the truly elite teams, but the Tournament or the Playoffs is an entirely new season. It’s one loss and you’re out, no time for off days, bad games, or poor shooting nights; your stars have to be rested, your team has to be healthy, and your coach has to be firing on all cylinders. The same goes in the battle over our budget deficit. Over the last few months the focus has been entirely on the Continuing Resolution (CR) – the level of funding the government will run on for the remainder of 2011. But in terms of the deficit the CR is just the regular season. Yea, it matters, but you better keep an eye on the real reason you play the game – the playoffs, or in this case, the 2012 budget. After weeks of negotiations, most of them contentious, Congressional Republicans and Senate Democrats appear to be nearing a deal. Of course there are many things that have yet to be worked out (including a bottom line cut), but a deal appears more imminent than it did just a few weeks ago. It has been a long road to get to the point where Republicans and Democrats can begin to discuss cutting tens of billions from the 2011 budget. Initially, House GOP leaders proposed $35 billion in cuts. The low-ball figure angered many conservatives who successfully pushed Republicans to up the ante to $61 billion. Of course that in turn angered the heck out of Democrats who claimed the cuts were “outrageous,” “idiotic,” and “extreme,” even going as far as saying they would kill children. Now, it appears we may be ending pretty darn close to where we started – with the GOP and Democrats purportedly settling on $33 billion in cuts. Even though it is nowhere near what conservatives wanted it is still the largest single-year budget cut in history. But the truth is, whether it’s $61 billion or $33 billion, it’s chump change compared to a $1.65 trillion deficit and a $14 trillion debt. But before you get mad, before you run off to call your Congressman and tell them what a nogood piece of _______ they are, and ask them what kind of idiot doesn’t realize we need bigger cuts, just hold your horses for one minute. First, understand that the battle over the Continuing Resolution was just one game in a very long season. Republicans were playing it smart, resting their starters, tweaking some strategies, and hoping their opponents were expending a ton of energy before the real fireworks begin.

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For all the grief over the CR, we’re just now entering the budget playoffs. On Tuesday the Republicans will introduce their 2012 Budget, a document that will go well beyond discretionary spending and begin the real fight – reforming entitlements. And that is just what Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan says he intends to do. The Weekly Standard writes: The Ryan budget will include significant cuts to domestic discretionary spending. But more fundamentally, it will reform Medicaid into block grants to states to give governors maximum flexibility. It will transform Medicare into a defined contribution program that will be stable for decades to come. And it will propose fundamental tax reform to remove loopholes and increase efficiency and spur economic growth. This is a comprehensive strategy that, over the long term, will reduce spending not by billions but by trillions of dollars. You can almost see Dr. Evil putting a pinky to his lips. This (THIS!) is the real deficit reduction game. This is not to say that the CR debate was not important, for it certainly set the tone for what is to come forward, but the budget proposal is the place to turn your focus. Republican Congressmen have begun to realize that. Representative Steve Schweikert (R-AZ) told the Hill that the Ryan budget is more important than the current debate over the 2011 spending. “That document is everything,” Rep. Schweikert said. And he’s right. It is everything. The chance to finally put a real dent in the debt that threatens our future. The opportunity to fundamentally reform our broken entitlements that will add trillions to our deficit over the next decades. Pro-growth tax reform. Converting Medicaid into a block grant program. Transforming Medicare from a defined benefit to a defined contribution plan. It is an ambitious document that will require an enormous expenditure of political capital. That is why Republicans could not afford to fulfill every conservative demand in the battle over the CR, they were saving their energy for the championship game. But they’re not playing for a trophy, they’re playing for our budgetary lives, literally. The prosperity of our nation, and especially of our generation, hangs in the balance of our ability to solve our deficit problems. From that perspective the Republican strategy appears smart. Let’s hope they are rested and ready for the budgetary battle to come.

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Rebutting the Myth that Republicans Hate the Poor
You’re a bad person. What? You didn’t know. Sorry you had to find out by reading a blog. Not exactly the best place to make deep personal revelations. What exactly am I talking about? Why, the fact that you hate poor people of course! What’s that? You say you don’t really hate the poor? Impossible! I’ve read it splashed across nearly every media outlet – Republicans are doing everything they can to take from the poor to give to the rich. Consider this thoughtful analysis written just today from some of our Lefty friends: Economist Joe Stiglitz wrote an article entitled, “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%.” Blogger Kevin Drum wrote “congressional Republicans don’t care about poor people. But then, that’s hardly anything new.” And Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein wrote a blog entitled “Republican policies don’t care about poor people,” which actually begins with the line “I’m not saying that congressional Republicans don’t care about poor people.” Oh really? Interesting choice of title then. So there you have it, if you’re a Republican, and given you’re reading this, you likely are, then you don’t care, and possibly don’t like, poor people. Ergo, you’re a bad person. Sorry I had to be the one to break it to you. Of course, this is all ridiculous. Republicans, unlike Democrats, don’t rely on invoking class warfare in order to sell their brand of politics. To us it is not about poor or rich (or black and white for that matter), it’s about freedom and opportunity. You see, when Democrats try and paint the picture of Republicans they always point to the same things – their desire for tax cuts, their disdain for big government programs, and occasionally, their call for elimination of the death tax. The argument goes that Republicans spend all of their time pushing tax cuts for the wealthiest ___ percent of the population, want to eliminate such and such program for the poor, and want millionaires to be able to pass on tidy little trust funds to their children. Democrats point to the fact that all of these things would raise the deficit. And couldn’t that money be better spent on giving more tax cuts for the poor!

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So is that all there is to the story? Is it true that we, or at least our policies, discriminate against the poor. No. Don’t buy that hooey. We fight for tax cuts for everyone because we believe that it is your money, not the government’s. It just so happens that Republicans have been really good at securing tax cuts for the middle and lower classes. People always forget that the Bush-era tax cuts also lowered rates across the board (including for the middle class), increased the deduction for married couples, and created a child tax credit, among many other cuts and credits. So when liberals like Ezra Klein write, “If the GOP had wanted, they could’ve used that money for more tax cuts for the poor, or even the middle class,” ask him how that’s possible considering 47 percent of Americans don’t pay federal income tax. Forty-seven percent! Of course Republicans will be the first to tell you that’s not ideal, but neither is the assumption that the wealthy, who are deserving of as much freedom from government control as everyone else, deserve to pay the entire tax bill for America. The deeper reason we fight for tax cuts is our fundamental belief in the limited role government should play in our lives. That conflicts with the liberal notion that government has an active role to play in redistributing wealth in order to raise the general welfare. As conservatives expected all along, and as should have been made clear to everyone over the past five years, weaving an enormous social safety net merely serves to trap us all beneath it. Governments the world over have found the hard way that they simply cannot support big government. Our three largest entitlements, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, are the primary drivers of our historic deficit. They’re finances will only get worse unless something is done to change them. That seems to be the inevitable result of any big-government program. As these programs finances worsen, their ability to help the poor will be diminished to irrelevance. Is that the outcome that liberals envisioned? Helping one generation of poor at the cost of leaving future generations to flap in the wind? That seems to be a short-sighted and counterproductive way of achieving your stated intent. Republicans, on the other hand, promote policies that are not only fiscally sustainable, able to help future generations of poor achieve self-sufficiency, but that are full of optimistic individualism. We believe that if provided not with hand-outs, but with the tools to succeed, individuals can thrive on their own hard work and character. It’s the same principle as “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Republicans not only want to teach you to fish, we want to make sure the government doesn’t require a lengthy permit process before you can fish.
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Unfortunately, Democrats likely can’t be made to see that. They are blinded in the best cases by their altruism, and in the worst cases by their deserve for class warfare. Either way, they’ll continue to drone on about how Republicans hate the poor. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Obama 2012: Click the “Dislike” Button
Early this morning President Obama announced, via an online video, that he was running for president again in 2012. Not shocking by any means. But the real kicker is his timing for the announcement. “I find it kind of ironic that the week we’re trying to engage the president, the Democrats and the country with an honest debate about our budget, with real solutions to fix this country’s problems and prevent a debt crisis, the president is launching his re-election campaign.” Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin on Fox News Sunday. I am in agreement Rep. Ryan. Not only is it ironic that there is a budgetary crisis in America currently that President Obama has not played a major role in but, also all of the negatives that the President has accrued over that past two years. Let’s take a look:
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Debt accumulation of over $6 TRILLION dollars. Steady unemployment of nearly 10% and nearly 15% for the 18-25 age bracket which is at the highest sustained level since the Great Depression. Three wars being fought: Iraq, Afghanistan and the newly acquired fight in Libya. Rising gas prices that are predicted to hit the $5 mark in the coming months. Zero intervention in the budgetary crisis debate. The unconstitutional Health Care Reform Act, which completely ignores the Tenth Amendment. 51% “somewhat disapprove” of the President’s job in the White House. The bankruptcy and default of the country if the debt ceiling isn’t raised.

The eight fore-mentioned items, in my mind, really make a strong presidential candidate and leader for the United States. Don’t stress, it’s only sarcasm. But in all seriousness who in their right mind would want to re-elect someone that is yet to improve anyone’s lives. However, there are still Obama lovers out there that are entrusting their lives in his leadership.
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“I saw the energy and hope that he had for this country….I knew that someday I would be able to reelect him.”- Mike a college student from New York. Ed from North Carolina said, “I don’t agree with Obama on everything…but I respect him and I trust him.” Trust him? Seriously?! All of the campaign promises he made during the 2008 cycle have been broken and 2012 will not be any different. President Obama has been the one in control of the ALL levels of government for the past two years and nothing positive has come out of it. The blame game is null and void here. There is not one Republican that he can blame for the lack of action and rebuilding policies in the White House. Give it up Obama. The same ploy as last time is not going to fool the majority. Look at the facts America. We can’t afford another four years of failed policies. America just needs a change from the present, not a change from the past. Obama continues his campaign in an email sent to various supporters: “We’ve always known that lasting change wouldn’t come quickly or easily. It never does. But as my administration and folks across the country fight to protect the progress we’ve made — and make more — we also need to begin mobilizing for 2012, long before the time comes for me to begin campaigning in earnest.” This issue at hand isn’t Obama running; it’s Obama winning…again. The importance of activism in the fight against ridiculous government spending and astronomical deficits needs to be fought NOW. The outreach to country needed to happen yesterday. Americans need to become informed about these issues and realize why they should care about the issues that affect their everyday lives. The government is controlling all of it; from the price you pay at the pump to get to work, to the job opportunities that are available to you, to how much you dish out every tax season to none other than the government. The outreach and gains that occurred in 2010 were nothing less than fantastic. Let’s keep the right change happening and make 2012 the right win for our future.

Americans Increasingly Disenchanted with Obama’s Policies
Americans are iffy on President Obama. That’s not exactly a revelation. Over the past two years his approval ratings have fallen faster than American Idol’s ratings after Simon Cowell left. It’s not that Americans don’t like him. It’s just that he’s not the same guy we thought we voted for.

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The latest Gallup poll bears out that wishy-washy attitude, towards not only the man, but his ideas. The headline of the poll reads: “Obama Still Fares Better on Foreign Than on Domestic Issues,” but in reality it should have been “Americans Kinda Don’t Like Anything Our Prez is Up To.”

Obama’s highest approval ratings come in foreign affairs, where 46 percent approve and 47 percent disapprove. On the main domestic issues – healthcare policy, the economy, and the deficit – his numbers are even further underwater. Looking at the numbers it kind of reminds me of how die-hard sports fans are feeling right about now. The Super Bowl is over and a lockout is looming, the NCAA Championships will soon be behind us, leaving us with barren wasteland of sports – regular season baseball, golf, and NASCAR. We should all let out a collective whoop-dee-doo! Yea, sports fans can kind of get in to each of those sports. We’ll follow the Yankees and maybe go to a few baseball games with our families, we’ll probably watch the Masters and cheer on Tiger Woods, and we’ll turn on some races when nothing else is on. OK, that last one is a lie. There is always something better on. The Amazing Race of Real Housewive Survivors would be a better entertainment option than watching a bunch of cars turn left. The fact is, we as sports fans are left to try and pick the best amongst a menu of terrible options. Which is kind of the situation the Gallup poll describes. Asking Americans which of Obama’s policies they approve of is like asking a sports fan to pick between watching golf and NASCAR – do we really have to? At worst its an utter disaster and at best we’re left saying “meh.” I mean, what does it say about the utter failure of your presidency when your highest approval ratings are in foreign policy. People think Obama handled Libya better than the economy.

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LIBYA! The Libya where the French (the FRENCH!) were more militarily decisive than we were. Yet its been two weeks and still nobody is sure what the mission is. All President Obama has seen fit to tell us is that democracy is good and Qaddafi is bad. Obvious statements in an uber-complicated situation does not a foreign policy make. And yet that is where we rate him most highly. That is not so much a statement about how mediocre his foreign policy is rather than just how utterly awful his domestic policy has been. A disjointed mess of contrasting policy and statements with no real cohesion. It’s as if Charlie Sheen is his chief of staff. It’s no wonder then that we have historic deficits, a mountainous debt, and very few jobs to show for it. Americans are looking for something to cheer for. But like the summer sports season, President Obama hasn’t provided us with many options.

Our Important Role to Play in the Looming Budget Battle
It’s time. The biggest political battle, potentially of our lifetimes, begins today with the release of Republicans 2012 budget proposal. Now, I’m not one for pep-talks, inspirational speeches, or stirring monologues, but I could this would be the time to bust one out. This will not be an easy argument to win. Republicans have met the problem head on – taking on not one, but a million, political third rails. Medicaid, Medicare, defense spending, if there is a special interest group with money to spend, you can bet the Republicans’ budget will have offended it. And that’s where we come in. We are the general interest. The many, but often the silent, who recognize that we’re likely going to have to give a little in order to prevent losing a lot. Unfortunately, the loud minorities will try and drown out our reason. They will say we’re hurting the poor, the elderly, children, the middle class – damn near everyone except the rich. Influential liberal thinker and writer E.J. Dionne fired his opening salvo yesterday, a clear attempt to get a head start on bashing the budget proposal before it has even been unveiled. “This is all extreme and irresponsible stuff,” Dionne writes. “The president knows it. The coming week will test who he is. When Ryan releases his budget, will the president finally engage?”

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“’This is our time,’ Obama liked to say during the 2008 campaign. This most certainly is his time to stand up for the vision of a practical, progressive government that he once advanced so eloquently.” What liberals won’t admit is that they haven’t advanced a vision of practical, progressive government. In fact, they’ve done the exact opposite. The Congressional Budget Office’s latest “Long Term Budget Outlook” showed just how impractical big-government progressivism is. According to the CBO, if current trends continue, “the growing imbalance between revenues and noninterest spending, combined with spiraling interest payments, would swiftly push debt to unsustainable levels. Debt as a share of GDP would exceed its historical peak of 109 percent by 2012 and would reach 185 percent in 2035.” Except it wouldn’t. Global investors would never let it reach that point. A debt crisis would ensue, our economy would tumble, and we would enter a recession that would make this one look like a period of prosperity. The reason for our deficits is not hard to see. Beyond the ridiculous one-time payments for things like the bailouts of Fannie and Freddie and the stimulus, the main drivers are Medicaid and Medicare. Don’t believe me. The CBO says, “all of the projected growth in primary outlays as a share of GDP in coming years stems from increases in mandatory spending, particularly in spending for the government’s major health care programs: Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and insurance subsidies.” We must reform these programs if we ever want to get a handle on a deficit problem that is quickly spiraling out of control. This is exactly what Republicans will propose today. Yet it is exactly the thing that will cause liberals to heap scorn upon them. It is this that will pose the biggest threat to our party’s political chances in 2012. To be honest the Republican’s plan is a difficult sell. It asks for fundamental changes to programs that Americans have become very comfortable with. But it is a fact, not an opinion, not a preference, a fact, that these programs cannot continue in their current form. Maintaining them would require doubling the historic level of tax revenue in United States history. It has often been tried, mostly by tinkering with the top tax rate, but it has never succeeded. Tax revenues always hover around 18 percent. So if the status quo is demonstrably unsustainable, and Democrats are ready to bash the every living daylights out of the conservative vision for reform, the question becomes…what’s their plan? Higher taxes won’t work. If cutting Medicare is an unpopular proposition, just wait until you offer to double tax rates. There is not enough defense cuts a liberal could make to come
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close to balancing the budget. Entitlements must be dealt with. They cannot just imagine them away with cute phrases like “we must stand for the vision of a practical, progressive government.” If Democrats really want to engage in this debate, and not just undermine Republican attempts at true change, then we demand a plan. Conservatives are prepared to present their vision for a better, more sustainable future. We should be prepared to defend it from the baseless attacks it is sure to be confronted with.

Budget Battle Woes, Still
With a government shutdown still looming, congressional leaders are set to meet with President Obama today. However, all signs appear to show that little progress will be made as Republicans and Democrats continue to spar over spending cuts. This war of numbers could grow even more tense with Paul Ryan (R-WI) set to unveil a fiscal year 2012 plan that would cut over $6 trillion over ten years, far greater than the $1 trillion the White House is touting. It’s hard to see how both sides can reconcile the differences. Yet, it’s the current 2011 spending plan that still needs addressing. So, how did we ever get so far as to STILL not have any 2011 budget? Well, the simple answer is the Democratic majority of the 111th Congress. It would have been extremely easy to get a budget through Congress with their vast majorities in both houses. Alas, their perpetual “kicking of the can” brings us to where we are now. With only a few days left in the current Continuing Resolution, House Republicans are preparing for a work-stoppage and shutdown of the government. On a side note, what exactly is a government shutdown? When most people hear those words on the television or read them in a newspaper, the image of backed up mail service, halting of Social Security checks, and Congressmen back in their constituencies blaming the other party for such inefficiency. Well, only the third one would probably come to pass. Despite the loaded language behind the reports of government shutdown, the government does NOT truly stop everything. A government shutdown stops all “non-essential” services. So though a government may “shutdown,” police still patrol the streets, the armed forces continue to function, prisons still run, air traffic controllers still monitor the skies, the mail comes despite the rain, the sleet, and the dark of night, and Social Security checks still arrive. The last time the federal government shutdown was the infamous 1995 shutdown which weighed heavily on the Republican-controlled Congress. What makes this year different? Many people
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see that, although the Republicans would initiate the shutdown, the fault does lie greatly with the previous Democratic Congress. It’s their failure to act that brought us to the countdown to the shutdown today. Let’s just hope the Republican fiscal year of 2012 proves more decisive than the debacle of 2011.

Deficit Deniers Begin Their Wrongheaded Assault on GOP Budget
Representative Paul Ryan’s daring plan to solve America’s debt problem has arrived, bringing with it a rash of criticism from the left.
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“A path to poverty for America’s seniors and children” – Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi “Pulling the rug out from under seniors” – Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) “Waging a war on American workers” – Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA)

And in reality, those were the nicest things they had to say. I couldn’t find anything written on the liberal blogs that was family friendly enough to post here. As you can see, Democrats are working the political angles to the best of their ability. Their criticisms will inevitably focus on three groups – children, seniors, and the poor (and when they have time left in their soundbite, the middle class). It all makes for very good politics, but if you peel back the righteous indignation you’re left with a very clear picture – these guys are scared out of their minds. Why? Because they literally have no substantive response. Nothing. Zip. Nada. They can boohoo all they want about how bad the Ryan plan is, but as of now the only plan I’ve seen from Democrats is to spend more money and hope things work themselves out. That’s not a plan, it’s a death wish. We may as well all become Druids and start practicing child sacrifice, it would arguably do less damage to future generations than ignoring the debt burden today’s government is leaving them. Now don’t get me wrong. Paul Ryan’s budget is tough medicine. It means Americans get less from their government with the understanding that they will be able to provide more for themselves. It fundamentally changes popular programs – a politically tricky exercise, even in this unique fiscal climate.

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It transforms Medicare from a defined benefit plan, to provide premium support payments to all beneficiaries. That is, seniors will receive a check equal to what current Medicare beneficiaries receive plus inflation that they can then use in the marketplace to make their own healthcare decisions. Medicaid would also get a facelift, changing the current system to one, which provides states with block grants to cover the costs of health coverage for the poor. All of that is political dynamite. Don’t handle it properly and you’re liable to blow you and your party’s future straight into oblivion. But use it correctly and you can begin the process of clearing the rubble from our broken entitlement system so we can get to work on laying a new foundation. Regardless, it’s going to be hard, mostly because Democrats will make sure it’s as painful as possible. But it’s also necessary. That is the key point that we must not lose sight of. The criticisms of the plan will be hard to hear and some of them (OK, probably only a few of them) may make us question whether this is a good idea after all. But when that doubt arises, ask yourself, what is the alternative? If we don’t reform these programs now, our debt won’t allow them to exist in their current state for much longer. The status quo is no longer an option. We either begin the process of negotiating real reforms, or we watch our crumbling entitlement programs collapse. And who benefits from that? Surely not the poor, the elderly, or the children, whom the left are using as human shields to defend their big-government agenda. Years of free-spending have pushed us into a situation where waiting and hoping are no longer options. The times demand action. Democrats should also be afraid because it puts an end to the notion that tax increases are absolutely necessary in order to balance the budget. Democrats were very clever about their desire for tax increases. They would never say it directly. In that, they learned from the foibles of George Bush Sr. and his “Read my lips” moment. But the fact is they were content to watch government and deficits grow to the point that it would be impossible to disagree with the notion of raising taxes. But as Ryan’s budget makes clear, not only do we not need to raise taxes in order to balance the budget, we can functionally cut taxes and still achieve a fiscally responsible outcome. That’s right, the plan includes no tax hikes, and yet despite all the warnings by the chicken little’s on the Left, the sky doesn’t fall. Instead it averts a debt crisis, eliminates our deficits, and lowers our debt-to-GDP ratios to below historic levels. So the next time you hear anyone say, we’re going to need to raise taxes to solve this problem, don’t say a word, just kindly point them to the Republican’s 2012 budget.

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The next few days, weeks, and months will be filled with political attacks over this ambitious plan to solve our debt crisis. But like those who vigorously defended the idea that the Earth was flat or violently fought the notion that the sun was the center of the solar system, these debtdeniers will eventually fade into intellectual oblivion. Everyone deep down understands that our government has a spending problem, it just so happens we now have a plan to fix it.

The Captain Goes Down With the Ship
Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Reid were called into the Oval Office late last night in a last ditch effort to avoid a shutdown of the federal government. President Obama claimed to have a “constructive” discussion and that he and Congressional leaders should be able, “to complete a deal, get it passed and avert a shutdown.” The President seems to be taking a strong leadership role, working with others to get the job done, how Presidential. The only question is: Where was he six months ago? We are currently six months and seven days into fiscal year 2011 with a continuing resolution set to expire tomorrow and a deal between the two parties still not settled. He has had plenty of time to pass a budget and solve these issues. Congress should be focused on the national debt limit and budgeting for fiscal year 2012. Yet, a lack of strong leadership now brings the country to the point of shutting down: national parks would close (including the beloved Smithsonian Institute), federal agencies would work off of significantly reduced staff (even the White House would have a smaller staff), and the IRS would halt audits and paper claims. And to think, it has taken six months and seven days to come to this conclusion. Unfortunately, it seems that the President’s ship of state has only skirted the shoals of finance while visiting the islands of Libyan intervention and re-election campaigns. In six months and
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seven days, President Obama has seen his party take a “shellacking” in the midterms, worked with UN and NATO forces to oppose Gaddafi’s killing of civilians, travelled the world, helped the country heal after the horrific shootings in Tucson, and announced his bid for 2012. And in all that time, he could not find a few days to sit down with Congressional leaders to deal with the out-of-control spending, rising debts, and fear among many Americans of what the financial future holds. And so, with one day left, the President finally takes the helm to steer the state away from total chaos. As the country waits to see what will happen next, only the next few hours will determine the fate of the federal government. It seems that the only hope left is a last minute deal between Boehner and the Republicans and Reid and the Democrats. If only President Obama had dealt with this sooner, there would be something different to complain about.

Obama, Like Woods, Must Make Room for New Faces
Tiger Woods has elevated himself from an athlete to a cultural phenomenon. His results on the golf course matter far less than his actions off of it. Who he is dating is a much more interesting question than what he shot on the third round of a golf tournament. In much the same way, if not for the same reasons, Barack Obama has followed a much similar path. There are more similarities between the two than most people think of. Both Tiger and Obama ushered in a new racial era in their respective fields. Golf was the ultimate white man’s game and the men who filled the White House were as white as the house they lived in. Beyond race, both men also expanded their reach to a demographic that golf and politicians had long assumed would be impossible – young adults. Young people followed the rise (and subsequent fall) of Tiger Woods, bringing a newfound interest in the entire sport of golf with them. Suddenly it was no longer just football and basketball that carried the banner of youth appeal, golf, of all sports, was firmly vying for the attention of young adults. President Obama achieved much the same thing in the realm of politics, making it cool to be up on the latest political news, to have Obama bumper stickers, and to, dare I say, vote. Now they are all consuming entities. The black holes of their genres in that nothing can escape their gravitational fields. If it’s a discussion of politics you can be sure President Obama’s name will somehow find its way into the conversation. If golf is on, you can be sure Tiger’s every shot will be shown, dissected, and likely praised. The question nobody seems to be asking is, “do these two men still deserve it?”

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Tiger’s infidelity, divorce, and subsequent implosion of his golf game has dominated headlines. That’s fine for People and US Weekly, but is that what the readers of Golf Digest should want? Woods has become a pop-culture side-show and yet this past weekend’s Masters was still the Tiger-show. The trouble is, he came in fourth. Given the coverage, you wouldn’t have known it, but the real story was a trio of youngters – Charle Schwartzel, Jason Day, and Adam Scott – who finished atop the leaderboard. Unfortunately, their run was completely blotted out by the shadow Tiger Woods’. In my mind, that is a sad thing. Tiger Woods is one of, if not the greatest player of all time, but in charting his decline are we missing the next great thing? I’m worried the same overshadowing effect is happening with President Obama. There is no doubt he is a cultural icon; a phenomenal politician with a buttery voice and a gift for oratory. His meteoric rise through the ranks, from Illinois Senator to bestselling author to President of the United States, is one for the history books. But he is not without his faults. Granted, that his mistakes are of a wholly different variety than Woods. We’re talking ill-advised economic policy, not porn stars, Ambien addiction, and custody battles. Nevertheless, President Obama’s policy foibles have begun to impact people’s views about his job performance. The latest Pew Research Poll shows some troublesome numbers for President Obama. Among the results – by a 56% to 39% margin, Americans disapproved of Obama’s handling of the economy, and by a 59% to 33% margin, voters disapproved of the job he is doing on the federal budget deficit. Perhaps the most surprising result was the growing divide between President Obama, and his most loyal of followers, young adults. Pew writes, Even some groups that have generally positive opinions about Obama, such as young people, are critical of his handling of the federal budget deficit. Overall . . . nearly twice as many young people disapprove as approve of his handling of the federal budget deficit (57% to 29%). On this issue, the views of young people are similar to those in older age groups. In fact, young people’s approval of Obama’s handling of the deficit was the lowest of any age group. The dislike of his policies doesn’t show in the early discussion over the 2012 presidential election. Obama still dominates the field, with no other up-and-comer garnering nearly as much coverage or interest.

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The cult-of-personality that surrounds Obama and clouds the field, hides the field of worthy challengers and their solutions to America’s greatest challenges. People like Paul Ryan, Mitch Daniels, and Marco Rubio, who are young, if not in age, but in their relation to the political discourse, are overshadowed in favor of the tired ideas of our President. Obama had his moment. In it he accomplished quite a bit. But in three short years the challenges our country faces have immeasurably changed and unfortunately he has not adapted to them. It’s time for some new faces and some new ideas; however, that seems impossible given the slavish devotion we, or at least our media, has with our current President. Tiger and Obama both brought their fields to new heights of public interest and popularity. Overall, the public has been blessed to have seen them leave their mark. But it’s time for the next generation of stars. It’s time for the Rory McIlroys and the Paul Ryans to have their chance in the spotlight, not off in the wings, waiting for the aging stars to exit stage left.

Racing the Time Clock, Again
The clock is ticking once again and this time its’ not over the budget. According to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the new dooms day deadline is set for May 16th; a mere 35 days away. On this date, if not before, our nation will reach its’ debt ceiling. It is more than likely that the bell at the top of the “test your strength machine” at the fair will be ringing in our ears before the May 16th estimate. There is no reason for the debt ceiling to be raised past $14.3 trillion, the current ceiling, unless serious reforms are put into place and this is the LAST time the ceiling will be raised. “There will not be an increase in the debt limit without something really, really big attached to it,” House Speaker John Boehner said at a fundraiser Saturday night. So you ask, “the U.S. is going to hit the debt ceiling, so what? “ Here are the facts: If the nation hits its’ debt ceiling, it defaults. In other words once any extra Treasury Department resources are exhausted, military salaries, Social Security payments and jobless benefits will all cease to exist. All current U.S. obligations will be void including all foreign investments, which will lead to a loss of confidence in America’s ability to full through on its’ commitments. America will no longer be able to borrow from other countries to keep the country running.

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In addition, defaulting will “drive up interest rates and erode home values.” The bottom line, the financial crisis that Americans are currently facing will be leisurely walk in the park compared to the crisis to come. With the projected fiscal 2011 deficit sitting at $1.6 trillion, of which Congress cut only $38.5 billion over the weekend, and the public debt increasing at $125 billion every month, the debt situation is dire. “In order to avoid an increase in the debt limit, Congress would need to eliminate annual deficits immediately,” Geithner wrote. The country is spending money at astronomical levels. According to the Congressional Research Service, “the debt ceiling has been raised 74 times since March 1962. The ceiling was last set at $14.3 trillion in February 2010.” This vicious cycle has to stop. In an attempt to put the debt crisis in the history books for good, Rep. Paul Ryan has recently released a budget proposal that would cut $6 trillion over the next 10 years. This is about making the right decisions now,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., told “Fox News Sunday.” Congress needs to come to a consensus on a plan that will allow for the pouring of concrete over the debt ceiling. The youth of America cannot keep afloat on this nation’s debt any longer.

You Win Some, You Lose Some
So…recap: on April 8, 2011, Congress did a little Hail Mary throw at the eleventh hour (literally) and saved the government from shutting down. Oh, the great drama of it all! But let us see who the REAL winners and losers were on this one… Winning (just saw Charlie Sheen on the O’Reilly Factor) Speaker Boehner – In a time when parties are as cohesive as water and oil, John Boehner was able to keep the Republican House members relatively together (save a few here and there). No, he was unable to deliver the $60 billion Republicans originally demanded. However, the fact that he could get Democrats to go from zero to $38.5 billion in cuts shows that he is very competent at his job. Long story short: Boehner’s got Tiger’s Blood. U.S. Military – Yes, for a few days it was feared that our brave men and women in the armed services who are sacrificing their lives for the sake of freedom would not be receiving their paycheck. Yet, there’s talk of making sure that any future debates would NOT touch military

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pay. After all, it is the very least this country could do. Long story short: people the military.

still respect

D.C. Tourists – All through Friday, visitors to our nation’s capital rushed to see the Smithsonian museums and famous monuments/landmarks in case they would not be open the next day. Nevertheless, tourists were able to go back and see what they missed in the rush to glance at anything they could. They were even able to revel in the always-fun National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. Long story short: D.C. is fun, fun, fun, ‘til the government takes the money away. Losing (maybe that’s what Charlie Sheen should be touting) Democrats – After all their howling and wailing, they eventually gave into Boehner, McConnell, and Republican demands for spending cuts. In the end, they gave Republicans about 2/3 of their original goal. Long story short: Dems lose momentum. Republicans – $100 billion…no, $60 billion….no, $38.5 billion…there we go. Granted, that 38.5 is the largest spending cut in history, it’s still just under 2/5 of the original goal. Yes, we are already six months and twelve days into the fiscal year, but many were hoping for a bit more. Long story short: Republicans gain momentum, but at a cost. President Obama – The savior of the eleventh hour (as some are painting him) went against just about everything he stands for in signing this bill: spending cuts, spending cuts, spending cuts, and negotiating with Republicans. Furthermore, his far removal from the whole process is reflecting badly on his leadership ability. Long story short: 2012 is gonna be tough. Compromise – Long story short (Democrats): BAD, BAD, BAD! Long story short (Tea Partiers): BAD, BAD, BAD! In conclusion: Can’t wait for the Debt Ceiling debates!

Obama Reverses Course, Admits Deficits Require Reform
Given the critical success of The King’s Speech you know Hollywood producers are searching President Obama’s past for some speech impediment. You’d not only get one movie, you’d get a series that would make the James Bond franchise look like the model of brevity. If there is a

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problem you can’t count on Obama to act, but you can take it to the bank that he’s gonna give a speech. And so it goes with the deficit. On the past week’s Sunday shows, White House adviser David Plouffe announced that President Obama would be making a speech in the near future about deficit reduction and laying out the groundwork for Medicaid and Medicare reform. Someone should tell him he’s a little late to the party on these issues, the GOP has been talking about them for more than a year now, and won back the House based on a promise to reduce spending. Nevermind any of that, when Obama talks people listen. But Obama’s team appears to be relying on more than just that fact, they’re also hoping you’ve developed a selective memory. That you’ll forget everything he’s done in the past and focus solely on what he’s saying now. This, of course, requires a lot of forgetting. Forget that he just sent in a $3.7 trillion budget proposal with the highest annual deficit in the nation’s history. Forget that we’ve set record deficits in each year of his presidency. Forget that rather than reform entitlements, he created an entirely new one with Obamacare. Forget that his reckless spending is one of the main reasons he’s now having to give a speech about the need for fiscal responsibility. So why the sudden about face? Because this man is not change, he’s the consummate politician, consumed not with the idea of bringing a breath to fresh air to Washington, but with ensuring that his brand of stale politician stays around for four more years. He’s a used car salesman to the core. After all, he’s spent the past four weeks attempting to lead his party’s charge against the modest budget cuts proposed in the Republican’s continuing resolution. Now, after narrowly averting a government shutdown by unwillingly giving in to Republican cuts, Obama turned right around and attempted to sell it as his own! This guy has no shame. In his weekly radio address, Obama sold the compromise as “an agreement to invest in our country’s future while making the largest annual spending cut in our history.” He also argued that “beginning to live within our means is the only way to protect the investments that will help America compete for new jobs.” Who is this guy? It certainly doesn’t sound like the same man who has racked up more debt than any President in history. Oh that’s right! It sounds like a guy who is up for reelection in less than two years and is running scared at the thought of running on his record.

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We could criticize him for this very clear attempt to play to voter’s concern, nay, fear over our looming debt crisis. You simply don’t spend the way he has over the past three years if you are truly concerned about the impact the growing debt will have on future generations. He simply senses a political opportunity and is ready to exploit it to its fullest. We could nail him for it, but fortunately our job has already been done for us. Liberals have picked up on Obama’s change in tone and are wondering where oh where their fearless leader went. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman asks, “What happened to the inspirational figure his supporters thought they elected? Who is this bland, timid guy who doesn’t seem to stand for anything in particular?” The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent wonders, “How much are Dems going to be asked to trade away in core liberal priorities in the execution of [Obama’s political] strategy.” And The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait questions, “Why didn’t President Obama at least fight the Republicans to a draw? Why, if he had to move in their direction, did he wind up adopting deeper cuts than even John Boehner originally proposed?” The answer is: Obama senses that he’s been too liberal for the past two years and now must course correct. It’s probably the smart political thing to do given voters obvious concern with his lurch to the left. It’s definitely the economically correct thing to do given our looming debt crisis. So despite his questionable motives, and all-too-obvious switcheroo, we’re still happy to have him engage in the deficit conversation.

Liberal’s Chief Critique of a “Path to Prosperity” Falls Flat
The first rule of politics is to never let your opponent frame the debate. That’s sure fire way to be stuck playing defense in a game where offense wins elections. That means you have to get out in front and define not only you and your ideas, but also your opponent and his. For this post, I’m tossing that rule out the window. I’m going to talk about what is, at least in my mind, the single biggest perceived weakness of Republicans’ “Path to Prosperity.” Why? It’s not because I’m an intellectual masochist. It’s because in a debate with this much importance, the rules of politics must be set aside, The problems of our times demand a little dose of honesty. So what is the biggest problem in the Paul Ryan’s budget plan? I’ll leave it to liberal blogger Ezra Klein to explain. In doing so, I hope you the reader understand, that I’m ceding all ability to

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spin the argument in my favor, and allowing him to set the debate on his own terms. So here goes… Klein writes, In 2030, traditional Medicare insurance, CBO estimates, would only cost 60 percent as much as the private options Ryan is offering. But under Ryan’s plan, seniors would pay two-thirds of the cost, while under traditional Medicare, they’d pay only 25 percent. That’s not cost control. That’s cost-shifting. And even assuming Congress would turn a deaf ear to the cries of seniors, it wouldn’t solve our nation’s fiscal problems. It would just shunt them off the federal budget and onto family budgets, and make them worse. That is the most stinging and substantive critique I can find of the Republican’s plan. It’s an actual idea and concern, not just some thoughtless wailing about “extreme” or “draconian” cuts that will “kill children.” But if you put aside Ezra Klein’s editorializing and actually think about what he’s saying, the criticism may stop being a criticism at all. Given some thought, it may highlight one of the “Path to Prosperity’s” biggest assets. I’m talking about choice. And the power that choice has to lower costs, not based on some CBO formula, but where it matters…in the marketplace. Now before I get too far into the debate, let’s first get it out of the way that the status quo Klein is arguing for is simply untenable. It is a fiscal fantasyland where our debtors are content to treat the dollar as if it was nothing but Monopoly money. Medicare is growing well beyond the government’s ability to fund it, a fact that President Obama even admitted to earlier this week. Something must be done, if you can’t admit that, then stop reading now. With that said, let’s look at the critique more closely. Klein, and other liberal thinkers, argue that Ryan’s plan won’t save any money, but is instead just shifting costs from the federal government to individuals. What this fails to admit is that the government is already shifting costs. Trillions of dollars in costs to be exact, onto future generations, in the form of unsustainable deficits. It also fails to admit that those deficits will have to be paid for in higher taxes, or what Democrats call “revenues” which would also spell financial trouble for “family budgets.” Given that cost-shifting is part of the equation, one must ask, isn’t it preferable to shift costs to the people utilizing the service, versus future generations who have no seat at the bargaining ta-

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ble? If controlling costs is our end goal, current purchasers of healthcare would seem to be much better positioned than people who are potentially not even in existence at the present moment. But the true benefit of this so-called cost-shifting is the ability it has to some much needed competition into the market for healthcare. The fact is programs like Medicare hide costs and thus do a terrible job at controlling them. How much does a heart transplant cost? How about an MRI? Or a round of chemotherapy? Or even something as commonplace as a mammogram? The truth is, most of us have no idea because our insurance takes care of it one way or another. When we are unaware of what something costs we are much more likely to overutilize a service and much less likely to comparison shop. So when Klein points out that Ryan’s plan shifts cost, he should also mention that it shifts the power of choice, from a government board to the individual healthcare purchaser. To some liberal government-knows-best types that may seem like a bad idea, to me, it seems like the best way to lower costs.

Obama’s Plan to Fix the Deficit? Uh, He’ll Get Back to You
President Obama gave another one of his now-patented speeches – full of seering jabs at Republicans mixed in with soaring platitudes about what American can be. It was heavy on rhetoric and light on specifics. The kind of speech that was an absolute joy to listen to, at times making you question if you’re voting for the right party, but at the end you’re left wondering what the heck the point was. I was looking around for the Principal from the movie Billy Madison to stand up and say: “What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.” But what makes Obama so good, is that he gets away with it every time. His plan for every crisis is to eventually come up with a plan. The problem is, eventually never happens, and by sheer luck or circumstance the public always forgets that Obama was going to come up with a plan in the first place. That won’t be the case this time because this debt isn’t going anywhere so it will be interesting to see what he comes up with. But as for now, let’s just say I’m not impressed with the bare bones he’s laid out thus far.

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To be fair, Obama started strong. He laid out the problem that young people face in no uncertain terms. “Some of you, particularly the younger people here . . . might be wondering, “Why is this so important? Why does this matter to me?” Well, here’s why. Even after our economy recovers, our government will still be on track to spend more money than it takes in throughout this decade and beyond. That means we’ll have to keep borrowing more from countries like China. That means more of your tax dollars each year will go towards paying off the interest on all the loans that we keep taking out. By the end of this decade, the interest that we owe on our debt could rise to nearly $1 trillion. Think about that. That’s the interest — just the interest payments. Then, as the Baby Boomers start to retire in greater numbers and health care costs continue to rise, the situation will get even worse. By 2025, the amount of taxes we currently pay will only be enough to finance our health care programs — Medicare and Medicaid — Social Security, and the interest we owe on our debt. That’s it.” The troubles arose when he actually attempted to lay out a four-part solution to the problem: cut domestic spending, trim the defense budget, reduce healthcare spending, and reduce expenditures in the tax code. Boil it down and get rid of all the namby-pamby rhetoric and there’s really only two new things here: expand Obamacare and raise taxes. That, he says is the cure for all that ails us. Yea right. Here’s just some of the flaws in the President’s logic:

It’s not a plan, it’s a list of nice talking points. Unfortunately, the CBO doesn’t score speeches, meaning the President can throw around nice big round numbers without the slightest bit of fear that someone will prove him wrong. Case in point: Obama says, “We believe the reforms we’ve proposed to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid will . . . sav[e] us $500 billion by 2023, and an additional $1 trillion in the decade after that.” And I believe that the solution to our deficit is to convince the tooth fairy to give out more than a quarter per tooth. Gimme a break. This is a ten-year “plan.” The trouble is, America’s biggest challenges won’t arise until after that time frame. The baby-boomers are only starting to retire and the vast bulk of their Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare expenses won’t come for another decade. What will the President do then?

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The ten-year flaw has two enormous corollaries. First, Obama’s plan saves $400 billion less than the Ryan plan despite its grandfathering of those 55 and older. That fact should tell you everything you need to know about the phony savings of Obama’s “plan.” Second, if Obama would have written a multi-decade plan the explosion in entitlement costs would necessitate not only raising taxes on higher incomes, but those in the middle class as well. Nobody will be spared if our spending trajectory isn’t dramatically altered. Of the $4 trillion President Obama says his plan will save, he’s already prepared to mark $2 trillion of as “mission accomplished.” Between the $1 trillion in deficit reduction he’s claiming in his budget and $1 trillion in anticipated savings from Obamacare, the President is already halfway to his goal. Except nobody really expects the $1 trillion in cuts to come to fruition and fewer than nobody believes that Obamacare will save $1 trillion. Labeling the fourth step as “reducing spending in the tax code” is disingenuous and untrue. If we’re going to have an honest debate, call things what they are. “Reducing spending in the tax code” is just Washington jargon for raising taxes. And while we’re on the subject, I don’t see anywhere in Obama’s “plan” that accounts for the negative impact higher taxes will have on economic growth. Guess he’s really trying to focus on the positives.

Then again, it’s hard to provide substantive criticism of President Obama’s plan because there it has no substance. I have a feeling that’s exactly what Obama wanted. As Representative Paul Ryan said of Obama’s less than tangible critique, “He’s basically a pyromaniac in a field of straw men.” Sadly, unless he comes back to the bargaining table with a real plan, all of America might end up getting burned.

And So It Goes
Yesterday, President Obama delivered his debt reduction talk at George Washington University. As usual, the President gave a rather eloquent speech which highlighted what he believes is the way to restore our once prosperous economy. Too bad the President was mistaken. His mantra of: Tax the wealthy, tax the wealthy, tax the wealthy is getting a bit out of date. Both he and the good ole Democratic party are beginning to sound like your grandpa’s LP that has been on the turntable a wee bit long. It is time to make true reform. True reform is what Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is pushing. His plan reduces the deficit by $6 trillion over ten years while President Obama touted a $4 trillion cut over twelve years in his speech yesterday. Hmm….which one reduces the deficit quicker? President Obama wants to increase the burden of taxation on the most successful Americans. He says it is only fair that those who have more should give more. But how much more? After all, the top 1% of income earners account for almost 40% of all taxes taken in by Uncle Sam. On the other end of the spectrum, the entire
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lower 50% of income earners pay around 3%. Fair? Maybe, maybe not. What should happen? Keep the Bush tax cuts in place and dramatically halt and reverse the gross amounts of spending that is, in effect, mortgaging the future generations if something is not done NOW. Who raises taxes just as the nations begins recovering from a prolonged recession? That is a business-killing, job-killing move who helps no one in the end. Why doesn’t government instead simplify the tax code, decrease the amount of loopholes that are so prevalent in any audit, and let faithful capitalism do what it always does, succeed. No matter what side of the aisle, people agree that unless the deficit problem is taken care of, the present generation in power will be the first in all of American history to leave the country in worse shape than when they found it…what a legacy the next generation has to follow.

Obama Puts Presidential Bid Above America’s Wellbeing
As budgetary plans go, Obama’s speech was a bunch of crap. It was a highly polished and thickly deodorized piece of crap, but crap nonetheless. But the more I think and ponder about how on Earth our President could be so thick-headed as to go up against uber-wonk Paul Ryan, armed with nothing but four ideas that a kindergartener would find simplistic, the more I realize this wasn’t a speech about the budget at all. This wasn’t about beginning the serious conversation about our deficit that Republicans have been longing for. This was nothing more than the first campaign speech for the 2012 presidential race. What a shame. That realization becomes even clearer when you go back and look at the scorecard over the past four months: First, President Obama proposed a budget. It was a god-awful monstrosity of a budget that was so ridiculous in its unwillingness to tackle spending that it is now only remembered by its initials – WTF (Winning the Future…although upon seeing the details we all mumbled the more common meaning of those letters). Second, House Republicans under the leadership of Representative Paul Ryan created and introduced a budget. Although views are widespread, it is uniformly praised for being an honest attempt to solve our most difficult budgetary problems. No sacred cows were spared, no punches were pulled, and every liberal screamed in terror. President Obama’s budget reportedly packed up its bags and caught the first Greyhound bus outta town, shaking his head and whispering “I know when I’m beat”

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Third, Senate Democrats have continued to punt on producing a budget document. It’s as if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was at the blackjack table, got dealt a pair of threes and, thinking himself very bold, decided to stay. No, it’s just dumb. You can’t win if you don’t even try. Sadly, in Washington-style gambling Democrats think they can take the pot solely by making fun of Republican’s hand, which in this case happens to be blackjack. They might be right. Fourth, President Obama gives a speech. Remember he’s already presented a budget, one that didn’t mention entitlements, ignored all of the deficit commission’s proposals, and focused on making “investments,” a sadly obvious euphemism for spending. Rather than a budget, this was a meandering collection of idealistic thoughts, bad economics, and rosy assumptions. Compared to Paul Ryan’s detailed plan for saving our future, it’s clear that the only thing Obama’s “four pillars” are good for is stringing up our social safety net and turning it into a hammock in which we can all while away the days before our financial collapse. So if last night wasn’t President Obama’s budget, what was it? It was the opening salvo in the 2012 elections. Washington Post reporter Dan Balz summed it up, saying: Obama knows that reaching an acceptable deal with the Republicans would allow him to claim that he had tamed the partisan beast in Washington. Absent such a bargain, Wednesday was all about laying the foundation for a grand debate between the president and his Republican challenger in 2012. I actually think Balz gives President Obama too much credit. There was nothing in that speech that signaled compromise. In a sentence I daren’t try to improve on, columnist Jonah Goldberg called the speech “A farrago of distortions, self-righteous non sequiturs, and ideological fatwas in the cause of extending his presidency at the expense of both the country and his honor.” It was a speech that was solely aimed at shoring up, then firing up, his liberal base. Yee-haw you could hear em’ scream, we’re back to the good ol’ days of Bush-bashing, Progressivism-praising, big government, where there a tax-hike and Washington-dollar can solve all our ills. It was one hell of an election speech. The problem was that in the process of getting reelected, the country, and its finances, will go to hell. But winning liberals will not be enough to win the election. President Obama knows this, which is why by the end of this debate he will inevitably begin pushing for a deal between the two warring factions. In doing so he will appear to have elevated himself above the partisan bickering which he just instigated. It’s a brilliant strategy for winning elections. There are no doubt many people who will fall for it. So in the days leading up to the elections, when you hear President Obama call for the parties to cease fire for the good of America, remember this speech. RememApril Compendium! xxviii

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ber that it wasn’t a budget, that it wasn’t the foundation for a true debate, it was picking a fight knowing he would be the only winner.

Taxpayer Receipt Legislation Gaining Steam
Imagine spending one-sixth of your annual income on something and then walking out of the store without asking for a receipt. Actually, you walk away less informed than that. You walk away without even knowing what it was you purchased at all. That would seem to be an insane proposition. After all, nobody, regardless of the state of the economy is prepared to spend that kind of cash without knowing what they were getting. Yet that’s what we do every single year with our taxes. We get our paycheck, enjoy a fleeting sense of pleasure that we now have money in our bank accounted, which quickly switches to a moment of shock and awe about how much of the federal government took as its share, and then we go about our daily lives. That’s a fairly incomplete chain of thought when you think about it. After all, we have no clue indicating how we should feel about where our tax dollars are going. Should we be utterly pissed that the government is frittering away more money than they should on certain programs. Or should we be pleased that the government’s priorities fall fairly in line with our own. We aren’t given enough information to make these judgments. Instead, in truly paternalistic fashion the IRS does the bureaucratic equivalent of patting us on the head, telling us everything is OK, and sending us back to bed so the grownups can talk. I’m pleased to say that bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate seeks to pull back the curtain and reveal what the government is doing back there. The idea is for a taxpayer receipt – an itemized breakdown of exactly where your tax dollars of going. A picture is worth a thousand words in this case, so here’s an example of a receipt for someone making around $35,000:

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This is a great idea. The only sad thing is, the only reason it is getting any action in Congress is that both sides believe it will benefit them. Democrats believe two things: (1) If we break down the larger deficit picture into bite-size pieces, to show exactly what we spend money on, then Americans will be much more loathe to cut and (2) That it will make Republican attempts to cut smaller things like the EPA seem more trivial, and thus more difficult. Republicans believe the exact opposite, that Americans in general have no idea just how big a portion of their paycheck

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goes to paying for our largest programs. It will also allow them a powerful visual to show just how much taxes must be increased to pay for the operating deficits in all of these programs. It’s tough to tell who is right, though if I had to bet, I’d say it would benefit Republicans more. Regardless, this initiative should be supported no matter which party it helps or hurts. A more open process is not a partisan issues, it’s a matter of providing accurate information about how the government spends our money. And with Washington spending more and more of it, racking up tens of trillions of debt in the process, the need for transparency will grow increasingly important. In the beginning I asked you if you would ever make a thousand dollar purchase without asking for a receipt in return. Now that it appears taxpayers are finally on the verge of being treated as intelligent consumers, perhaps its time they start demanding a return policy. After all, there’s little doubt that Washington is broken.

Obama’s Pessimistic Vision for America
Thus far, I’ve explained what I consider to be the major flaws of Obama’s budget plan and spoke about how it was more campaign speech than deficit plan. But President Obama’s national address on the deficit was something else – it was an attempt to undermine and offer a competing vision to Republican’s vision of the future. Essentially, that is what the debate over spending and deficits is all about. Do we want a biggovernment society that attempts to meet the needs of its people through social welfare programs, or do we want a society based on free enterprise and free markets, with a social safety net to catch those of us who fall. The debate over what America should look like in the future began with an op-ed written by Arthur Brooks and Paul Ryan in the lead-up to the midterm elections. They argued that, “finding the right level of government for Americans is simply impossible unless we decide which ideal we prefer: a free enterprise society with a solid but limited safety net, or a cradle-to-grave, redistributive welfare state.” In their view, which I share, those who wish to claim the mantle of compassion for the downtrodden must remember that, “The greatest threat to our social insurance programs today is the icy indifference shown by those unwilling to have an adult conversation on how to avert their looming collapse.”

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It is an inherently compassionate belief that understands that the government’s obligation to society extends beyond this generation. That there is nothing kindhearted about ignoring, or only cosmetically reforming, social welfare programs at the benefit of today’s society rather than tomorrow’s. Nevertheless, President Obama attempted to reframe the debate and cast conservatives’ desire to save the system as an attempt to destroy it. In his speech, President Obama argues, “These are the kind of cuts that tell us we can’t afford the American that I believe in and I think you believe in. I believe it paints a vision of our future that is deeply pessimistic.” He then lapses into purely partisan drivel, saying that “it’s a vision that says if our roads crumble and our bridges collapse, we can’t afford to fix them.” And that “if there are bright young Americans who have the drive and the will but not the money to go to college, we can’t afford to send them.” Of course that’s all baloney (to put it nicely), but his point is made, the liberal progressive vision for America is the one that is really about compassion and optimism. An overemphasis on the present is not optimism, just as dooming the future to debt levels that will necessitate higher taxes and fewer benefits is not compassionate. Nevertheless, the choice must still be made about what we prefer – an opportunity society with a reliance on free enterprise and a governmental back-stop, or a social welfare state that attempts to equalize results through greater government control of markets, and our lives. If President Obama’s latest poll results, taken after his speech, are any indication, America is choosing the former. The latest Gallup three-day average finds that 41 percent of Americans approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president. That ties his all-time low. The biggest reason for the drop is a precipitous decline in the support from independents. Currently, 35 percent of independents approve of the president, an incredible nine percent lower than his 2011 average. With the economy improving and jobs slowly returning one would think President Obama’s approval would begin to tick in the right direction. They’re not. This tells me that Americans are beginning to weigh the options presented to them over the past week and are tending to agree with the conservative vision for the future. Despite the deeply partisan attacks, the soaring rhetoric, and the national platform that Republicans lacked, President Obama did more to harm than help his case.

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America is beyond the point of believing in Obama speeches. We’ve heard so many promises, only to have them broken, that we’re finally able to see beyond his oratorical niceties. We’ve pulled back the curtain to see that the liberal vision of America is the pessimistic one. It’s the one that shackles us to a future version of America a far cry from the one we want.

S&P Reveals the Truth About Obamanomics Tue. 04.19
With the S&P release of the its’ decision to lower the United State’s credit outlook to “negative” from “good” yesterday, GOP leaders are pilling guilt and pressure on the Democrats to enact major fiscal reforms now. The verdict is now out: Obamanomics is not the answer to our nation’s debt problem. Republican leaders agree to raise the debt ceiling, in order to save the country from default, ONLY if there is a serious debt reduction plan in place. Otherwise the vicious cycle of debt will continue to spiral out of control. The S&P lowered the credit outlook because “they see no clear path planned to address the “very large budget deficits and rising government indebtedness.” This statement should be a huge red flag to all Americans, especially Democratic politicians. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Monday morning said in a statement that it’s a “wake-up call to those in Washington asking Congress to blindly increase the debt limit.” Kevin McCarthy of California agrees with Cantor in his release of a similar statement. “Today’s announcement from S&P should be a wake-up call to those who believe we can postpone the serious reforms needed to address our out-of-control government spending and debt.” From all angles of the Republican Party, GOP leaders agree that the current fiscal crisis in our country is coming to a head faster than anyone could have ever imagined. The country is jet setting straight toward a Great Depression 21st century style; and it won’t be pretty. Reforms to our nation’s spending need to occur immediately in order for the country to survive and thrive at the level that it should be. The America that we all know and love is becoming a train wreck fast than you can say Obamanomics. Media outlets are trying to downplay the S&P warning as “not the end of the world”. However, it is indefinitely a blow horn of a wake up call to politicians. The debt clock is in FF *fast forApril Compendium! xxxiii

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ward) and not stopping until the reforms are put into place. The dire situation in which our nation is facing is forcing politicians to make difficult and harsh decisions fast. The good news is however, that the vote to raise the debt ceiling can turn our nation around. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill) stated that the vote, “offers a chance to save the dollar and our economy” Hopefully Democrats got the hint that raising the debt ceiling is not the answer to our debt problem. The debt denying Democrats better wake up and collaborate with Republicans on actual reforms in order to keep America strong and prospering.

Deficits Destroying America Like Steroids Killed Baseball
It’s springtime in America, which means baseball is back in full swing. Whether you love or hate it, hard-ball is a national pastime, as American as apple pie. In fact, baseball has been a part of our DNA as early as the 1850s and has reflected, and often led cultural shifts in the United States. During its centuries-long tenure as one of America’s most popular sports, it has undergone its fair share of problems. From the Black Sox, to Pete Rose, to the cancellation of the ’94 World Series, baseball has often had to regain the trust of America. But among these problems the Steroid Era may pose the biggest threat. It’s easy to see why steroids became popular among players and ignored among management. Scoring jumped, salaries soared, and records fell, and, as the saying went “chicks dig the long ball.” But it was a short-lived high, followed by scandal, legal trouble, and declining attendance. It was the ultimate black-eye for America’s game. Our government faces much the same problem. Deficits are their steroids. For years Washington has been spending, and spending, and spending in a desperate attempts to buy voter interest. It has largely worked. Voters, like the MLB, has largely been willing to turn a blind-eye from our representatives spending habits in return for more and bigger government benefit programs. But just as Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, and Sammy Sosa’s demolition of Roger Maris’ home run record was an illusion, so too was the notion that Washington could give us something for nothing.

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Now that fantasy is coming crashing down. Our deficits, brought on by an addiction to biggovernment spending now threatens everything America has built. The latest sign of our imminent decline came today when prominent credit rating agency Standard & Poor lowered its outlook on US bonds. In a statement, S&P said, “Because the U.S. has, relative to its “AAA” peers, what we consider to be very large budget deficits and rising government indebtedness and the path to addressing these is not clear to us, we have revised our outlook over the long-term rating to negative from stable.” Perhaps more alarming was the White House’s response. “We simply believe that the prospects are better,” said Jay Carney, the President’s chief spokesman. That would be like baseball commissioner Bud Selig getting up in the middle of 2005 and saying, “Rather than consider these steroid allegations, we choose to believe that player’s are simply eating better and working out harder.” But just as Americans saw Barry Bonds’ head grow to the size of a watermelon, we can see that Washington has an enormous spending problem. The impacts of our fiscal hubris are already coming to fruition. Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, the so-called “BRICS” nation, just concluded a meeting to discuss the inadequacies of the current monetary order – namely, one dominated by the dollar. Leaders of the BRICS nation cited Washington’s neglect over its global monetary responsibilities as necessitating a global shake up. In a statement they argued a “broad-based international reserve currency system providing stability and certainty” was needed given new realities. Essen-

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tially, the BRICS are worried that our enormous deficit is going to debase the dollar, hurting not only us, but disrupting the world economy. Losing our status as the world’s reserve currency, as the BRICS nations hope, would be economically disastrous for the United States. Since the dollar is universally accepted, there is a far larger market for dollar-denominated debt than with other currencies. Effectively, that means we are able to sell our debt with lower interest rates. If that ends, and interest rates on our $14.2 trillion debt skyrocket, not only will we immediately have to curtail our spending habits (not a bad thing) but we’d have to pay hundreds of billions more dollars annually in interest payments. That’s our tax dollars we’re talking about. So if we’re sticking with the baseball analogy it losing our status as the reserve currency because of our deficit would be as if sports-fans decided that they had had enough of the steroids and betting scandals in baseball and were going to change allegiances to football. Oh wait. That actually happened. Baseball hasn’t completely faded from the American psyche. It’s still raking in money. But it has lost its place as the American game. Much the same thing is happening to the United States. Unless something drastic happens, we’ll always be a world power, our economy is just too big for that to change. But our place at the top is not assured. Deficits, like the steroid controversy, has the ability to gradually erode support in the world. The question is, will Obama be like Commissioner Bud Selig, stick his head in the sand, and act as if all is well with the world? Sadly, that appears to be the case.

Obama Deaf to New “Shot Heard Round the World”
Yesterday marked the 236th anniversary of the “Shot Heard Round the World.” No, baseball nerds, I’m not talking about the Bobby Thompson home run that clinched that won the 1951 World Series for the New York Giants. I’m talking about the beginning of the Revolutionary War, when 700 British troops marched into Lexington to capture the Patriot arsenal. Having received early information about the planned operation, 77 armed “minutemen” were there waiting for the Red Coats. After some initial confusion, and an order by the American commander for his men to disperse, a shot rang out. The rest, as they say, is history. One gets the feeling that a much more modern version of the “shot heard round the world” was heard earlier this week when Standard & Poor issues a stern warning about our unsustainable levels of debt. To be fair, this is not the historical equivalent of the Revolutionary War, but it does

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signal a very important battle facing our nation over the coming years – the battle over our deficits. We’re no Paul Revere, but we’ve been doing the best to sound the alarm over debt, deficits, and spending for more than two years now. Thanks to the success of the Don’t Put it On Our Tab program, young adults are demanding a seat at the table to tell Washington to stop mortgaging our future. But is Obama listening? Despite S&P’s “shot heard round the world” and our consistent pounding of the debt drum, our President seems to be doing nothing to ready the troops. One of his chief lieutenants, Secretary Tim Geithner said Tuesday that there is “no risk” the U.S. will lose its top credit rating. Upon hearing S&P’s warning, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, said “We simply believe that the prospects are better.” That’d be the equivalent of Paul Revere saying he “was pretty sure” he didn’t see any lanterns hung in the Old North Chuch that night. While Obama’s team appears flatfooted in the face of mounting evidence that reforms our desperately needed, voters have caught on. In a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, 44 percent of Americans said the economy is getting worse, the highest percentage in more than two years. In addition, 57 percent now disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy, matching the highest level of dissatisfaction since he was elected; and 46 percent “strongly” disapprove, a new high. America sees what Obama’s team cannot, or chooses not to, see – that his policies and lack of leadership are doing little to foster an economic recovery. Instead, gas prices are skyrocketing upwards, inflation is becoming a real threat, and foreign nations are beginning to wonder whether our deficit should mean an end to the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. Rather than answers, the best President Obama has been able to muster is returning to his favorite weapon, or should I say crutch – a speech. The same old cocktail of tired bromides, pointed partisan rhetoric, and soaring, but transparent, attempts to channel our history, now just leave us with a hangover. So what does it all mean? How does a slumping economy and a president whose only solution is to talk it back to health translate into politics? It means Obama could lose. That same Washington Post poll found that President Obama’s approval rating had fallen seven points since January to 47 percent, with 50 percent of voters saying they disapproved. It was enough for Salon’s news editor Steve Kornacki to proclaim, “if the economy doesn’t improve – or gets worse – the GOP will be well-positioned to oust Obama in 2012.” Of course, President Obama will deal with a whole host of other challenges than the economy. Gas prices have

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soared, a long-term budget deal seems unlikely given his stance, and tax rates must once again be renegotiated. The battle lines have been drawn. Obama’s mission is clear. He must take a leadership role and work with Republicans to come up with a solution to our looming debt crisis. Reducing our debt is the only way to allay the fears of investors, get capital off the sidelines, and grow our economy in a fiscally sustainable way. Our debt is quickly growing out of control. S&P fired a shot, hoping to spur action against our deficit, but did our commander in chief hear it? We certainly did, which is why we will be working tirelessly to elect a President capable of leading this nation into battle. The battle over our deficit.

Fighting Back – Dispelling Liberal Myths About Paul Ryan’s Deficit Plan
There is just not enough time in the day to dispel every liberal myth that pops up. Most days I feel like I’m playing whack a mole. Fun, except for the fact that I’ve been playing for years now, have developed the equivalent of tendinitis in both elbows, and those darn moles just keep popping up faster-and-faster. I need a bigger hammer. Typically, I attempt to dispel one dumb liberal myth per blog post, but with the misconceptions flying fast and furious around Republicans’ deficit reduction plan, new measures must be taken. So here I’ll attempt to break down three: (1) That poor polling of the Medicare plan should derail attempts at reform, (2) that the Ryan plan’s tax cuts fly in the face of his deficit reduction attempts, and (3) that we don’t even need to discuss entitlement reform to solve the deficit. The first problem is the biggest. Nothing gives politicians the heebie-jeebies like bad poll numbers. And admittedly, polls show that Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal is going over about as well as Rebecca Black’s Friday music video. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 65 percent of Americans think Medicare should “remain as it is today” rather than be changed so that “people over 65 would receive a check or voucher…they can use to shop for their own private health insurance.” Liberals have attempted to adopt the same line that conservatives took when Obamacare was polling poorly. They’re calling Republicans hypocrites for using poor poll results to argue vocif-

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erously against Obama’s health reforms while ignoring them to push their own Medicare reforms. What they fail to understand is the dramatic difference between the two. Obamacare promised something for nothing. It created another entitlement and hid the pricetag. That should have been a fairly easy sell. It wasn’t – a reflection that it was a pretty terrible idea. Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform does something much harder. It takes another program, like Obamacare, in which the federal government has overpromised, and makes it fiscally sound. To do so, it has to cut through the politician-created illusion of a free lunch. Given the need to bring us back down to reality, it is little surprise that Medicare reform doesn’t poll well. The real surprise is that Democrats couldn’t sell people on another government program. The next myth, propagated by writers like Jonathan Chait of The New Republic is that Ryan’s plan not only cuts Medicare, but it does so in order to provide tax cuts for the rich. That’s more ridiculous than the sad fact that the Snuggie – a blanket with arms – actually made someone rich. There is no tax cut in Paul Ryan’s plan. He maintains the current rates, which have been law for more than a decade. When you dig past this patent ridiculousness, it’s easy to see that Ryan’s plan seeks to restrain Medicare spending growth in order to avert a tax increase on everyone. The final myth that I’ll dispel here is one that makes me sad. Sad that time must be spent, words must be typed, and gigabytes must be forever wasted to rebut such a ridiculous notion. The idea, a growing one among liberal wonks, is that there is a very simple plan that will solve our budget problems – do nothing. A normal person would stare at $14.3 trillion in red ink and $1 trillion deficits as far as the eye can see and say that’s preposterous, but not this vanguard of American liberalism. Their position can be summed up in one graph, or as Ezra Klein called it “The graph all budget discussions should start with:

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The graph shows that if the tax code is left alone, in that the Bush tax cuts expire and the Alternative Minimum Tax continues to creep downward, revenues will somewhat coincide with the growth of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other spending. Liberals like to use this graph to show that the budget can be balanced without radically reforming entitlements. What this graph also shows, but what liberals fail to mention when explaining it, is that balance is only achieved through massive tax increases. Historically, taxes have averaged 18% of GDP, under this scenario taxes would nearly double, to 31% of GDP. Moreover, this huge new tax burden would be carried by the middle class, as the Alternative Minimum Tax, gradually expands to hit lower earners. Ross Douthat explains in the New York Times, Today, for instance, a family of four making the median income — $94,900 — pays 15 percent in federal taxes. By 2035, under the C.B.O. projection, payroll and income taxes would claim 25 percent of that family’s paycheck. The marginal tax rate on labor income would rise from 29 percent to 38 percent. . . Such unprecedented levels of taxation would throw up hurdles to entrepreneurship, family formation and upward mobility. I won’t even get into the multiple reasons why the graph is wrong (it doesn’t discuss exploding interest costs, for instance), suffice it to say that it still paints an unsustainable future. Entitlements must be reformed, the question, and one that rightly deserves debate, is how to go about doing it. Sadly, if liberals continue to rely on tricks like these, it doesn’t appear that adult conversation is forthcoming anytime soon.

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Paul Krugman’s “Sickening” Attempt to Ration Health Care
It’s been far too long since I’ve had a good Krugman-bashing column. For those of you who don’t read regularly enough to understand that first sentence, first off, why not!?!?, and secondly, it’s become a mini-hobby of ours to read and dispel the myths that uber-liberal economist and columnist Paul Krugman attempts to pass off as fact. Just how long has it been? Well, if our count is right then it’s been since October and a lot has happened since then. Republicans took the House, protesters shook the Middle East, Prince William and Kate Middleton reigned the tabloids, and Rebecca Black was the bane of the internet. In other words, we’re due for another Krugman-centric column. Fortunately, the Nobel-winner turned fallacy-spinner always provides some sort of ridiculousness deserving of our attention. This week’s “it-would-be-funny-if-liberals-didn’t-take-him-deathly-serious” comment by Krugman was this: Here’s my question: How did it become normal, or for that matter even acceptable, to refer to medical patients as “consumers”? The relationship between patient and doctor used to be considered something special, almost sacred. Now politicians and supposed reformers talk about the act of receiving care as if it were no different from a commercial transaction, like buying a car — and their only complaint is that it isn’t commercial enough. What has gone wrong with us? Us? Is this one of those attempts to pass off your own ideological weaknesses onto the unsuspecting public? It’s like when your girlfriend breaks up with you with the pseudo-compassionate “It’s not you, it’s me” line. You both know it’s not true. So pardon us if we refuse to indulge in Krugman’s attempt to lump us into some faceless gang of wrong-headed John Does. Krugman’s lament, that health care has eroded its focus on relationships to one of bottom-lines, is aimed at Republican’s plan to “make government health care programs more responsive to consumer choice.” This, we are told, is not only a terrible idea, but the “idea that all this can be reduced to money – that doctors are just ‘providers’ selling services to health care ‘consumers’ – is, well, sickening.” Pardon me while I gag. What is truly sickening is the utter hypocrisy of Krugman’s argument. One need look no further than Democrats’ own plans for health care to understand how preposterous this argument is. The Democrat-passed Obamacare plan’s entire attempt at cost-saving was predicated on the idea of driving a wedge between the doctor-patient relationship. The idea
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was for a panel of government bureaucrats to make decisions on what treatments were worthwhile, which procedures cost to much, and weigh the number of lives saved versus the cost to the taxpayer. This was Democrats best idea for savings. To see but one example of this gross distortion of the doctor-patient relationship look no further than the George-Orwell-cound’t-have-named-it-better-himself “Independent Payment Advisory Board.” The board is tasked with finding and implementing savings in Medicare, including designated procedures that the program will and won’t fund. Now members of both parties are expressing unified dislike of the idea. Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Congress should not “delegate Medicare decision-making to 15 people appointed by the president.” Democrats, such as Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) are equally as upset, “It’s our constitutional duty, as members of congress, to take responsibility for Medicare and not turn decisions over to a board. Abdicating this responsibility, whether to insurance companies or to an unelected commission, undermines our ability to represent our constituents, including seniors and the disabled.” Rather than put the decision-making in the hands of government-goons, the Republicans had the idea of simply allowing the government to write a check to Medicare beneficiaries. This money could then be used by seniors to pursue whatever treatment options they preferred. Somehow in Krugman-land, this patient-centric plan is “sickening” for its preservation of consumer choice, but Obamacare’s Board is somehow right as rain. The fact is, it is Democrats, not Republicans, who are pushing the “idea that all this can be reduced to money.” Of course, Krugman even admits this in his post, saying “We have to do something about health care costs, which means that we have to find a way to start saying no. . . Before you start yelling about “rationing” and “death panels,” bear in mind that we’re not talking about limits on what health care you’re allowed to buy with your own money. We’re talking only about what will be paid for with taxpayers’ money.” So I guess the money you pay in taxes is no longer “your own money.” Now that though really is, to steal a word from Krugman, “sickening.”

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Liberals Introduce the "Tax and Spend the People’s Money Budget”
For something called “The People’s Budget” I’m finding very few people actually have any idea what it is. I’m endeavoring to change that. Mind you, that’s not because it is particularly good, but because for something that we, the people, have apparently given our endorsement to, it is terrible. The inaptly named “People’s Budget” is a product of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, i.e. the left wing’s left wing. These people are so liberal, Lyndon B. Johnson rolls over in his grave at the mere mention of them. That said, their budget rests on a positive premise – the elimination of the deficit – but accomplishes that task by completely ignoring Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security and relying almost exclusively on tax hikes. And boy, are we talking tax hikes! Although the Progressives tell us that their budget “eliminates the deficit in a way that does not devastate what Americans want preserved,” they apparently don’t believe worker’s income should fall into that category. They allow the Bush-tax cuts to expire, the majority of which lowered middle-class taxes; introduce a millionaire tax rates in which they add tax rates up to 49 percent; increase taxes on capital gains; drastically increase the death tax, with a top rate of 65 percent; dramatically raise payroll taxes to pay for Social Security; and introduce a rash of new taxes on businesses including higher rates, a “financial crisis responsibility fee” and a “speculation tax.” Of course it is difficult to understand just radical that last paragraph is because although the tax hikes are clear enough, their effect on the average person’s wallet is less discernable. Unfortunately, it appears the authors of “The People’s Budget” intended it that way In fact, the authors talk about taking “millionaires and billionaires” but completely ignore the effect their budget will have on the middle class. Could they possibly pull this off? Can they expand the welfare state (they add the public option to an already-broken Obamacare), increase spending by around $1.5 trillion over the next decade, and still maintain taxes for the middle class? Unless they can work miracles, then no, this is patently absurd. But lo and behold they can work miracles! If you take a look in the budget’s appendix you find an assumption that the plan’s net effect on economic growth would be a positive .3 percent! As brilliant economist Tyler Cowen writes on his blog Marginal Revolution, the idea that a 70 percent income tax rate and a 50 percent capital gains rate could lead to economic growth is just, well, silly.
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There have been some good criticisms of the funny assumptions behind the Ryan plan, but actually this budget isn’t better, either in terms of its final conclusions, its adherence to best scientific practices, or its transparency in getting to its results. Should we not apply equally high standards to both the Ryan budget and this? There are plenty of good arguments that taxes have to go up, but this particular proposal isn’t one of them. Although Cowen doesn’t exactly spell it out, instead choosing to poke fun at the assumptions, the dramatically higher taxes in “The People’s Budget” would spell doom for the economy. Chief among the plan’s problems, especially for the middle class, is dramatically higher payroll taxes. These are among the most economically harmful taxes imaginable because they make it directly more expensive for businesses to hire new workers. Unemployment would necessarily skyrocket and jobs would flock overseas. A higher capital gains rate would contribute to the problem. By taxing investment and capital formation we diminish economic growth, reduce the incentive to save, and hurt productivity growth. Of course, that’s if businesses for some unknown reason decide to stay in the United States under this senseless budget plan. In fact, following the people’s budget would give us the highest capital gains tax rate in the world, higher than Denmark (45%), Sweden (30%), the UK (18%) and economic powers like Germany, India, Hong Kong, and Singapore, all of which have a zero percent rate. Liberal economist Paul Krugman, who drools like a toddler at the thought of raising taxes, obviously loves this plan. Although his adoration is obviously misplaced, he does ask a good question: “Why does this plan get no attention, while the cruel fantasies of the right get headlines?” I don’t know the answer, but I’m happy to do my part to share this merciless plan of the Progressives with the rest of the world. Only then will people understand just how sane Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity really is.

Start Your Engines…
As the national average of gasoline goes ever upward ($3.86 according to AAA), the Obama administration seems to be stumbling when it comes to solving this ever-present dilemma. With the range of $3.69 to $4.53 depending on where you are in the nation, it is beginning to cost a small fortune to fill up the tank. And what is the Obama team doing to alleviate this mess? Well…nothing. They are doing nothing out of the ordinary. The President is still touting the “No More Drilling” mantra and is holding up the “RENEWABLE ENERGY” banner for the entire world to see (or be annoyed by, depending on your point of view). His administration continues to vilify the oil companies and speculators. Well, here is a headline: They are just responding to the current oil markets. As the price of a barrel of oil shoots up, so too must the pent up frustrations of conApril Compendium! xliv

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sumers, who are trying to find ways to cut back on the driving, shoot up as well. While President Obama plays the usual blame game (he’s only mentioned the high prices under Bush a couple of times), he also makes his redundant pep-talk on the values of renewable energy resources. While this is a good goal to obtain in itself, the practice that Obama is calling for is simply illogical and idiotic. Halting offshore drilling and focusing solely on wind/solar/hydroelectric, the President simply does not understand the dynamics of it all. Truthfully, he claims that it would take years for offshore drilling to make it really worthwhile; well, we really should have started years ago (wow, Obama actually not totally at fault!). However, if we start immediately, then we would be a year closer to the day when the U.S. offshore drilling rigs produce most of the vast amounts of oil needed to power the nation. In the meantime, as we wean our country off foreign sources of energy, THEN we can invest heavily in renewable resources to continue self-sufficiency. That said, there are other opportunities for energy: natural gas and nuclear. For the former energy source, consult T. Boone Pickens. As for the latter, yes, it can be dangerous (please insert a prayer for those affected in Japan here), but it is also a very reliable source of energy if manipulated properly. This is the United States, the most technologically advanced nation on earth. In the words of FDR (I know, a democrat) portrayed by Jon Voight (a good ole conservative) in the movie Pearl Harbor, “Do not tell me it can’t be done!”

New Poll Shows Voters Willing to Reform Entitlements
Somehow poll results have become like baseball statistics – i.e. a replacement for the thing they purport to represent. Baseball statistics have always been sacred. The 500 home-run club, the 300 win club, Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak, Cal Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive games played, and Pete Rose’s 4,256 hits. These are just a handful of benchmarks to which all current and future players will be judged on. The inviolability of these numbers is what made the achievements of players like Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds seem so wrong. It was not only an affront to the game, it threatened to undermine the sanctity of statistics. Unfortunately, baseball has moved beyond statistical reverence, into numbers worship. We look at statistics and think we know the player, we look at a box score as a substitute for watching the game, but in the end we are left deceived. There is no substitute for being there. A similar thing is happening in politics. Poll results are becoming the engine for action in D.C. and it’s threatening to take our nation off the rails. Nowhere has this practice become more egregious than the debate over our national debt.

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Conservatives, including me, have been quick to point out that when asked, voters say the deficit is one of their main concerns and requires immediate action. When asked how they would address the problem, people favor spending reductions over tax increases by a wide margin. Liberals are equally as quick to point to polls showing that when the questions ask about detailed cuts to programs like Social Security or Medicare, their notions begin to change. When these questions are asked, voters favor tax hikes for higher earners over modest benefit reductions to government programs. So how do we reconcile these often-conflicting results into a cogent deficit reduction strategy that is both economically sound and politically feasible? We can’t. But it’s not because we’re doomed (although we might be) it’s just because we’re asking the wrong questions. Previous polls don’t represent reality, they exist in some alternate universe where our preferences are not constrained by well, anything. They allow us to say that we want to reduce the deficit, but also that we don’t want to make any cuts to any programs. If we could somehow come up with a plan that accomplished that, it’d be truly awesome, and people would be fools to not support it. But the fact is, reducing the deficit is going to require some hard choices, even harder than saying we’re going to tax the wealthy at a 100 percent rate, because that too is impossible. Fortunately for us, the Program for Public Consultation has considered the issue and come out with a survey to dig deeper into what American’s true deficit solution would be. So if you’re following along at home, they’ve studied the studies and come up with a poll to better the polls. Yes, it seems silly, but the results are potentially groundbreaking (or at least they would be if the study hadn’t already been shoved into the internet dustbin). The director of the study, Steven Kull, likened prior polls to asking, “Would you like to have some cake? Yes. Would you like to eat your cake? Yes. Ah, they want to have their cake and eat it too!” To fix that, Kull helped fashion a poll that forces respondents to choose, even if is only the most tolerable of a number of unwanted sacrifices. The study presented adults with a discretionary budget shortfall of $625 billion and further deficits in Social Security and Medicare. Respondents were then given a number of policy prescriptions such as raising the retirement age, reducing benefits, and cutting programs. The results should embolden our politicians who may have been scared off by the politics of budget cutting. For instance, in Social Security, majorities elected to raise the limit on wages subject to the payroll taxes and increasing the retirement age to 68. In Medicare, 59 percent said it would be either “acceptable” or “tolerable” to raise the retirement age and 61 percent said the same for raising premiums to $135.
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When push comes to shove, people are willing to accept changes to our beloved entitlement programs. The problem is polls have never given people the push, or the shove, they needed to make the decisions. The result has been disastrous. Politicians have become fetishistic about poll numbers, following them like the gospel, without even considering if they were asking the right questions. The result has been government programs being built atop government programs in a never ending political quest to fulfill every constituent’s need – either real or imagined. Now that we’ve pulled back the curtain on the poll numbers we see the number that matters – the bottom line. And it ain’t pretty. Hopefully, our politicians will grow to understand that they can’t understand the complex needs of voters by studying a poll anymore than a sports fan can understand a game by looking at the box score.

Will Washington Wake Up to Looming Student Loan Bubble?
In hindsight the collapse of the housing bubble should have been very easy to see. The price of homes was skyrocketing year after year. The seemingly endless growth led politicians to push policies encouraging homeownership as the pathway to wealth and led lenders to feel complacent about giving homes to people they would have laughed out of their office 20 years before. Or, as Oprah would say, “you get a house, you get a house, you get a house, everybody gets a house!” But then it all fell apart. As it turns out not everyone can afford a $400,000 house. Who knew! The result were numerous foreclosures as people figured out that their home was worth immensely less than they were going to have to pay for it. Banks, who had purchased and bundled all of these bad loans into “mortgage backed securities” either went under or were bailed out by taxpayers. The economy tanked, unemployment soared, and an entire generation of Americans may never recover. Given that it’s pretty hard to imagine how the past three years could have gone any worse, one would think we would be keeping a close eye for any other bubbles in our midst. But as the immortal Harry Dunne from Dumb and Dumber said, “Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this . . . and totally redeem yourself.” Of course, that “something like this” was trading a van for a small scooter when they had to travel from Nebraska to Colorado.

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It’s hard to feel that we’ve done any better. We’re on the brink of trading one crisis for another. I’m talking about student loans. Malcolm Harris analyzes the eerie similarities between the two situations in the fledgling political magazine N+1. He finds, that “since 1978, the price of tuition at US colleges has increased over 900 percent, 650 points above inflation.” That makes the housing bubble, in which home prices only increased 50 points above inflation, seem relatively benign by comparison. Perhaps that would be sustainable if the wages of college graduates was at least doing something to keep pace. But alas, salaries have largely stagnating, which has helped make student loans the single largest source of debt. Nevertheless, just as the Department of Housing and Urban Development pushed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lend to more low-income buyers in the name of meeting “affordable housing goals,” the Obama Administration is pushing more at-risk students into expensive colleges. And not just a few more; he has set a goal of adding 11 million more college graduates by 2020. Although that may sound like a laudable goal, so to did providing homes for the poor, the problem is that in both cases we may end up pushing people into debt burdens they simply can’t afford The parallels don’t end there. Harris explains: “During the expansion of the housing bubble, lenders felt protected because they could repackage risky loans as mortgage-backed securities . . . [to] theoretically spread the risk of default . . . But since this wouldn’t be America if you couldn’t monetize your children’s futures, the education sector still has its equivalent: the Student Loan Asset-Backed Security.” With default rates rising, this situation will eventually turn disastrous. The default rate has gone up every year since 2005. We can’t provide true default numbers because statistics aren’t even kept for loans that default after the first two years of payment. To hide just how bad things have gotten, lenders have been handing out deferments and forbearances quicker than Democrats can spend money. In fact, a mere 40 percent of student loans are in active repayment. A new study by the Higher Education Policy, finds that 41 percent of recent borrowers are either delinquent or in default on their payments.

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So what needs to be done? Sadly, there’s so much that it goes beyond the scope of this blog, but here are a few quick suggestions to get things back on the right track:

Eliminate the bureaucracy: In his article (this guys good!) Harris points to a Department of Education estimate that by 2014 there will be more administrators than instructors at four year colleges. If you’re wondering why tuition is skyrocketing, thereby driving up student loan debt, there’s a big chunk of your answer. Get government out of the student loan business: In 1993, Congress established a “public option” for students in an attempt to achieve lower rates for students. By 2007, Congress was back to tinkering, mandating that lenders maintain interest rates so low they couldn’t make a profit. To compensate the federal government began purchasing loans and never looked back. Now, with the passage of the student loan reform as part of the healthcare bill, the Department of Education is the exclusive originator of student loans, meaning that if the market collapses a bailout is in store. But risk-free loans could provide further incentive for colleges to continue to jack up the rates, knowing that Uncle Sam won’t shut off the tap to meet its education goals Utilize the free markets: A college degree used to give you a leg up in the job market. Now, with diplomas as ubiquitous as the Kardashians, a grad degree is the supposed

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ticket to success. This one-size fits all approach to education has to end. Some career paths need not include a college degree, much less four more years of graduate school. We need to encourage things like trade schools, apprenticeship programs, and community colleges so that young adults can truly shop for an educational opportunity that best suits their wallets and their career goals. The looming student loan crisis is easy to see. Then again, so was the housing bubble. The question is, are we as a society ready to set aside our blind altruism and greed in the name of avoiding it.

What a Slow British Recovery Means (and Doesn’t Mean) For Us
What better day to talk about the British economy than the day of the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton? The hype has reached epic heights of ridiculousness. Here’s just a sampling of the Royal Wedding stories I’ve seen over the past few days:
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A British beer distributor created “Viagra ‘Royal Virility’ Beer,” with three beers equaling one little blue pill. Its advertising slogan? “Arise Prince Willy.” Sigh. A British plumber named Barmy Baz (you can’t make this stuff up) got a tattoo on his teeth of the Prince William and Kate Middleton. I wish I were a fly on the wall when he goes for a job interview, “Excuse me, I think you have something stuck in your teeth.” “Oh, you must mean Kate Middleton.” “I’m sorry?” “I have Kate Middleton tattooed on my teeth.” “Ah, I see. Well, there’s the door.” Perhaps I’d feel a little more sorry for him if it actually looked anything like the royal couple, but instead it looks like a bad portrait of Jodi Foster. For those of you who, like me, are literally nauseous at the thought of reading one more Will and Kate story, you’re in luck because they’ve made Royal Wedding sick bags! That’s right, for a little under $5 you can have a barf bag, I’m sorry, apparently they’re called “Throne Up” bags, so you can upchuck in style.

But I digress, there are actually things happening in Britain beyond a wedding, things that may have great importance to something other than the tabloid industry on our shores. You see, the United Kingdom, where politicians aren’t so scared of their own shadow that they actually do things, passed an austerity budget in order to avert economic collapse due to their huge deficits.
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Conservatives in the United States have been attempting to do something similar. It’s little wonder then why we’ve been looking on anxiously to see how budget cuts are going over across the pond. Today’s GDP report provides the first indication, and, much to the chagrin of the Lefties, it was decidedly mediocre. The report showed that GDP grew by 0.5% in the first quarter, a 1% improvement over the 0.5% contraction seen in the fourth quarter of 2010. Liberals will no doubt crow at the result. “See! See!” they’ll yell, “we told you more government spending is what we needed.” They’ll once again go to their closets, dust off their Keynes’ bobble-heads and proclaim that they were right all along. To which I say, bollocks! These bloody liberal blighters have cocked-up the economy for years now with their dodgy deals. If these prats think one GDP report is enough to make us turn-tail then their gormless gits. Alright, now that I’ve used up every British insult I know, on to some true analysis. First off, it’s not as if they didn’t try the big-government thing for a long. As British Labour (the equivalent of Democrat) Prime Minister James Callaghan once said, “We used to think that you could just spend your way out of a recession and increase employment by cutting taxes and boosting government spending. I tell you, in all candor, that option no longer exists; and that insofar as it ever did exist, it only worked by injecting bigger doses of inflation into the economy followed by higher levels of unemployment as the next step. That is the history…” They had their chance, how about we give something new a try. Second, quit pretending as if they even had an option. Unfortunately, not even the best economists in the world have quite figured out how to continuously spend more than you take it without terrible long-term consequences. It reminds me of the scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when Wonka tells the children he was trying to do the impossible – create a candy that tastes like a four course meal. The problem was he couldn’t get it to work and told the kids not to try any. A spoiled brat named Violet jumps up and does it anyway. Next thing you know she turns into a blueberry. Confused by the idiocy around him Charlie asks his Grandpa Joe why she didn’t listen to which grandpa responds, “Because, Charlie, she’s a nitwit.” That’s exactly what all these big-government liberals are – nitwits. It’s more likely that we’ll find a way to turn children into blueberries than it is that we’ll find a way to rack up deficits with no economic consequences. As economist Tyler Cowen explained on his blog,
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“The case for the cuts is not that they will spur growth, but rather forestall a future disaster. That’s hard to test . . . It’s fine to call the case for the cuts underestablished, but that’s distinct from claiming that poor GDP performance shows the cuts to be a mistake.” Finally, give it some time people! Brilliant economist Milton Friedman used the analogy of a recovering alcoholic to explain the difficulty of weaning ourselves off of big government spending. “The cure for alcoholism is simple to state: stop drinking. It is hard to take because. . . the bad effects come first, the good effects come later. The alcoholic who goes on the wagon suffers severe withdrawal pains before he emerges in the happy land of no longer having an almost irresistible desire for another drink.” The economy will need time to adjust. When the government isn’t artificially pumping money into the system the markets will eventually reach a healthier equilibrium, but not before a period of lower economic growth. Patience my friends, you’re on the path to prosperity. And that concludes the economic lesson. You may now go back to consuming endless coverage of a real British story you care about – the Royal Wedding.

Senate Democrats Admit – Deficit Reduction Must Be Part of Debt Limit Vote
President Obama should look older. A few average years in the White House is generally enough to make a President appear to age faster than the villain at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. And this presidency has been anything but average. A recession unlike anything we’ve seen since the Great Depression, a health care debate that was enough to give Bill Clinton PTSD flashbacks, two wars, countless natural disasters, an oil spill, spiking gas prices, the list goes on and on. Now I’m not saying the President couldn’t softened the impact of a lot of those blows, but c’mon he’s been through a lot. And all we get is a few gray hairs. Either he spends every second in between meetings doing yoga or he’s a pretty cool customer, but either way it’s impressive. In fact, I’d put him right at the top of the career lead in “Ratio of Wrinkles and Gray Hairs to Crisis Level Events Managed.” His latest headache may be the straw that breaks Obama’s back. I’m speaking about the looming vote on the debt limit.

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Obama was doomed from the start on this. His entire strategy was built around three simple steps: (1) Make it sound like a failure to raise the debt limit would equal a world directed by Michael Bay – an Armageddon-ish, end of civilization scenario with lots of explosions and no direction, (2) whenever possible use a hostage taking metaphor, and (3) paint any attempt by Republicans to cut the deficit as a clear and unequivocal attempt to shoot that hostage. Of course that whole plan kind of went down the crapper when it was discovered that President Obama voted against raising the debt limit just five years ago. At the time Obama said, “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of a leadership failure . . . Leadership means that the ‘buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren . . . Americans deserve better.” Yea, pretty tough to recover from that. The only response Obama could come up with was to send his Press Secretary Jay Carney out to say, “He now believes it was a mistake.” He couldn’t even say it himself! That’s right next to “I didn’t inhale and never tried it again” and “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is” (both by Bill Clinton) in the “Lamest Excuse or Attempt to Deflect Blame Without Actually Addressing the Issue” Award. Now the President is being put in the even more awkward position of having to tell Senators that they absolutely must vote to raise the deficit (and while they’re at it they shouldn’t do anything to reduce spending). Good luck with that Jedi Mind Trick: Yes, I voted against the debt limit for much the same reason you are, but that isn’t the history you’re looking for. This time is different. It could be Armageddon. Did I mention it’s like uh, a hostage situation… To nobody’s great surprise, some levelheaded Democrats are immune to Obama’s wiles. The Washington Post reports, Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a freshman who is running for reelection next year. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) told constituents during the Easter recess that he would not vote to lift the debt limit without a “real and meaningful commitment to debt reduction.” They’re not alone. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) a faithful White House ally is now saying she’s “hopeful” a debt ceiling vote will come with a plan to cut the deficit. Given that she says almost everything with a smile (oh those Midwesterners!), that’s pretty much the equivalent of yelling “Hey, Obama! Get your butt in gear and do something about this!”

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Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) has been a little less cryptic in his criticism. “As catastrophic as it would be to fail to raise our debt ceiling, it’s even more irresponsible to not take this opportunity to own up to our unsustainable spending path,” said Sen. Udall, “If we don’t take action to reduce our deficit spending, Congress will be facing this same debt ceiling vote in the near term – still with no end to our deficits in sight.” Somewhere Obama is buying a “Touch of Grey” by the caseload and praying that something, anything would go right for him. Of course, he could make this easy on himself and simply own up to the fact that we absolutely must have a workable plan to reduce the deficit. Given that seems unlikely, our President will have to live with the stress that he’s governing to the far left of even his own party. But hey, at least the “birther” thing is behind him

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