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This seems more of an Obama than a Ryan Problem

Just caught this on AOL. Isn’t it the president’s job to reach out to the leaders of the opposition:

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Do legacy media prefer stories about crazy Republicans to ones about Democratic incompetence?

Two days ago, the Washington Examiner’s Byron York reminded us of a Democratic failure our friends in the legacy media tend to neglect:

Lawmakers are required by law to pass a budget each year by April 15, but there’s no provision to punish them, or even slightly inconvenience them, if they don’t.  In [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid’s case, the Senate last passed a budget in April 2009, 1,351 days ago as of Wednesday.

Not quite sure how to refine a google news search to compare the number of articles written about and amount of broadcast “news” time devoted to Todd Akin’s crazy comments on rape and those on the failure of Reid’s Senate Democrats to meet their legal obligations in passing a budget.

Seems the Missouri Republican fit the legacy media narrative about Republicans being fringe characters, but somehow Mr. Reid’s inaction is at odds with their conviction about the Democrats being the more responsible party.

Just a thought.

Nancy Pelosi’s Spendthrift Record as Speaker

Just caught this in a Washington Examiner editorial on Nancy Pelosi’s determination to stay on as House Democratic Leader:

Just look at Pelosi’s record as speaker. When she first took the gavel on Jan. 3, 2007, the federal government was on track to spend just $2.7 trillion that year. The federal deficit was a mere $160 billion, and the cumulative national debt was $8.7 trillion. Only 7 million Americans were unemployed, and the nation’s unemployment rate was just 4.6 percent.

Four short years later, when Pelosi handed the gavel back to the Republicans, the country looked a bit different. Spending had soared to $3.6 trillion. The federal deficit was $1.3 trillion, and the national debt was $14 trillion. Fourteen million Americans were unemployed, and the unemployment rate had almost doubled to 9.1 percent.

Wonder why Democrats don’t hold this politician to account for her record.

Hey, Harry, Where’s the Budget?

Found this on Facebook:

So, will our legacy media will ever get around to covering Reid’s do-nothing Democratic Senate?

What specific Obama policies did Republicans filibuster in the 111th Congress?

Because I will be attending a conference all day today entirely unrelated to politics, I won’t have much (if any) time to blog.  In order to get something up that might stimulate some discussion, in lieu of a traditional post (is there such a thing as a “traditional” blog post?), I’ll share part of an exchange from the thread following a left-of-center Facebook friend’s post..

Answering one of his friend’s contention that there were many reasons to vote against Mitt Romney, “most of which would seriously damage the country and the world”, I replied that the incumbent’s policies have already done enough damage:

It’s time for a change and some real reform. And given today’s [this exchange was on Friday] anemic employment numbers, we know the current policies aren’t working. Romney is far from perfect, but at least his policies will start to repair the damage of the last 3 1/2 years.

An Obama supporter retorted, “The reason why the recovery has been anemic is that every single attempt the democrats have attempted to try to fix the economy have been filibustered by the republicans. ”

Reminding him how much of his agenda the president pushed through from 2009-2010, I asked this interlocutor to specify which particular bills Republicans had successfully filibustered in the 111th Congress. (And what attempts Obama had made to lobby moderate Senate Republicans to switch their votes on cloture.)  Not just that, I asked Obmaa’s defenders to specify further which particular Bush policies helped drive us into the ditch.

None did.  Maybe some of our critics can.

Had Obama been more humble and magnanimous in 2009 . . .

Just shy of three-and-one-half years ago, Barack Obama entered the Oval Office with more good will perhaps than any newly-elected president since Jimmy Carter. He had vowed to change the tone in our nation’s capital, a vow welcome after sixteen years (with a brief hiatus just after 9/11) of polarized politics.

And yet a year after Obama’s inauguration, Gallup reported that the Democrat’s approval was the most polarized for any “First-Year President.

I recalled that abrupt shift yesterday when following the link Jay Cost’s insightful piece on “Obama’s dilemma” (more on that in my next post) to Sean Trende’s article from the previous day “about what Obama could have done differently in 2009“.  That article also merits your time — and attention.

Trende approaches the topic from a slightly different perspective than I did when considering the swift drop in Obama’s approval.  Trende considers the different policy approaches the president should have taken.  Instead of a constant re-pivot to the economy, the Democrat, Trende contends, could have kept his focus on the economy.  I wondered about the incumbent’s tone, whining about the problems he inherited, blaming Republicans for obstruction (or being beholden to the politics of the past).

On one major point, however, Trende’s thinking (approximately) parallels my own:

the president would have been much better off breaking the stimulus up into five or six pieces, spread out over his first 100 days. His presidency would have had a very different narrative attached to it if the first major piece of legislation passed by his administration had been $275 billion in tax cuts — or even better, two or three pieces of tax-cut legislation, grouped by subject — followed a week later by the unemployment compensation, followed a week later by the infrastructure spending, followed a week later by health care and education assistance, finished off with a miscellaneous bill.

For one thing, the headlines would have been dominated by the tax cuts, aid to the unemployed and to education, and so forth. Instead, there was a massive, amorphous “stimulus” with a $787 billion price tag for people to digest.

Quite frankly, Republicans would have supported at least some of the measures — in fact, the “mini-stimuli” approved throughout late 2009 and 2010 almost all passed with substantial Republican support. So it would have been with a “pure” tax-cut bill that kicked off the president’s term.

If he had insisted on breaking up the stimulus, the president would instead of needing to rally his own party for one big vote, would have constantly been reaching out to Congress, likely forging different coalitions for each bill — working with Republicans on several.

We would see him working energetically — over a period of weeks — on measures to stimulate the economy.  And that energetic image would likely have become impressed in Americans’ minds.  They may not supported his every policy, but at least appreciated his constant effort. (more…)

But, Nancy, you didn’t hold a vote on DOMA repeal when you were Speaker (& Democrats Held Majority in the House)

On Facebook, super-sweet left-wing blogress Pam Spaulding links this article from the Washington Blade, Pelosi vows to drop DOMA defense in Democratic House:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) vowed to drop congressional defense of the Defense of Marriage Act in court if Democrats retake control of the House in November.

Um, Nancy, please do tell me why you don’t bring up DOMA repeal when you were Speaker and had a 76-vote (256 Democrats to 178 Republicans) majority in the House.  We wouldn’t have to worry about litigating this issue if Congress had repealed the legislation.

RELATED: When they had a majority, House Democrats never voted on repealing DOMA, yet now they’re campaigning on Obama’s support of same-sex marriage

When they had a majority, House Democrats never voted on repealing DOMA, yet now they’re campaigning on Obama’s support of same-sex marriage

On its website, The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) bills itself as “the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the House.”  And last night via a friend’s Facebook link, I learned that this outfit was garnering signatures in support of the president’s new stand on gay marriage:

That takes some cheek. Since a Republican Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, Democrats have controlled the House for four years, from January 3, 2007 until January 5, 2011.  Not once did then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) hold a vote on repealing that legislation.  Not once did she hold a vote on giving benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of federal employees.

These Democrats now praise Obama’s support of same-sex marriage, yet, when they had a chance to act on the issue they did nothing.

Something tells me that once the DCCC gets your name, they’re going to be hitting you up for campaign contributions.  Maybe this thing is all about fundraising after all.

Had Obama moved forward on same-sex civil unions when his party had majorities in both houses of Congress, he might not be facing outcry over his gay marriage stand today

Yesterday, when I announced my determination to slow down the pace of blogging this week, I had intended to post only a handful of pieces on gay issues, first to indication my opposition to North Carolina’s Amendment One, then to offer a followup on the Grenell Matter, noting how that latter showed not the anti-gay animus that some Democratic partisans and gay activists were determined to find in the GOP, but the party’s own awkwardness on gay issues (for more on that, just read the passage I quoted in this post from the Huffington Post‘s Jon Ward).

Where the presumptive Republican nominee has handled social conservative concerns about a gay staffer in a most awkward manner, his Democratic counterpart has shown incredible “cowardice,” as one blogger put it, in handling the issue of gay marriage.  Bruce blogged that Obama “stepped in it.”  Others have been even less forgiving.

The real problem is that Obama didn’t try to find some sort of compromise in the first two years of his term when he had overwhelming Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.  Had he had some significant political savvy, he might, for example, have sat down with gay leaders and pointed to the passage of Prop 8 in California, saying that it wouldn’t be prudent to push forward on gay marriage per se, but would instead focus on civil unions (touting such legislation as the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (H.R. 2517), a bill in the 111th Congress “which would grant domestic partners access to federal employee health care benefits“); he would have been wise to ask these leaders to identify key Republicans (e.g. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in the House and Susan Collins in the Senate) who would be willing to help spearhead such efforts.

The Democrat would then be able to point to efforts (likely successful) he had made to advance the cause of same-sex couples.  There might not be a public outcry over gay marriage had he had accomplished something in terms of federal recognition of same-sex civil unions, even if just for government employees. (more…)

The simple answer to your question, Jennifer, is, “Yes,”
(gay marriage advocates are being taken for fools)

Let me begin by reminding you of some important facts.  Democrat Barack Obama was elected president in November 2008, with strong support from gay groups, including many supporting state recognition of same-sex marriage.

When he took office, the president’s party, the Democratic, enjoyed overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress.  From July 7, 2009 until February 4, 2010, that majority was filibuster-proof, that is, Senate Democrats didn’t need a single Republican vote to invoke cloture; they could vote on any item they wanted to.  Said legislative Democrats never voted to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act or even to pass a federal civil unions bill.  They only got their act together to vote on repealing Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT) after the election, but before the swearing in, of a Republican Congress in November 2010.

In short, Democrats in the 111th Congress had the chance to act on issues of concern to gay Americans, but failed to do so.

Now to the question.  Earlier today, Jennifer Rubin asked, “Are gay-marriage advocates being taken as fools?

On “Meet the Press,” Vice President Joe Biden said he’d be “comfortable with gay marriage,” an odd formulation for an important matter of public policy. (This is truly liberalism’s triumph of good intentions over actions.)

. . .

This is becoming the proverbial Lucy and the football. One wonders how often pro-gay-marriage activists, like poor Charlie Brown, are going to fall for this stuff.

. . . .

First, forking over lots of money gives you access; threatening to cut it off gets you attention. The leverage is with the gay community, whose financial and electoral power is considerable. But as long as the campaign takes gay voters (like Jews, Hispanics and union members) for granted, there is no reason for President Obama to move on this before the election.

Maybe had HRC not been so quick to endorse Obama, they might have been able to extract some concessions from the Democrat.  It seems though that the heads of that and other gay groups would rather be loved by the Democrats than see legislation passed recognizing our relationships.

UPDATE:  Deborah Kerr reminds us (@ 2:35 below) how HRC treats Obama: (more…)

Which is the stronger majority?

On Monday, the president said this about the Supreme Court review of Obamacare, “Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”  Emphasis added.

On March 21, 2010, the U.S. House  passed the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” by a vote of 219-212, with 34 Democrats joining 178 Republicans in opposition.  No Republicans vote for the bill.  (That’s a 7-vote margin.)

Fewer than ten months later, on January 19, 2011, the chamber, under new leadership, in large part because of opposition to said Act, acted to repeal the legislation by vote of 245-189, with three Democrats joined the sizable Republican majority.  (That’s a 56-vote margin.)

Would you agree with me that a 56-vote margin is a stronger majority than a 7-vote margin in a legislative body which hadn’t grown any larger between the two votes?

FROM THE COMMENTS: JP offers, “Also for great true ‘Strong Majorities’ see 0bama’s budgets. He got total agreement with no votes at all from BOTH parties. That’s a strong majority.”

UPDATE:  Seems I wasn’t the only one to make this observation.

If taxing the rich is so important to President Obama . . .

. . . why didn’t he submit legislation to the 111th Congress when the Democrats had a majority in the House and a super-duper majority in the Senate (filibuster-proof for six months)?

And why aren’t our friends in the legacy media asking him about this oversight?

Question came to mind as I was reading Rush’s response to Obama using Warren Buffet’s secretary as a prop:  ”There’s something inherently unfair about the Republican tax code, as though Warren Buffett’s secretary is eating pork and beans while sitting in the sewer grate, while her boss is flying around on his NetJets planes. And, lo and behold, she was up there!”  Read the whole thing.

Republican tax code?  Democrats had full power for two full years and didn’t try to reform it.  So, shouldn’t we be calling it a Democratic tax code?

FROM THE COMMENTS: chad writes:

Republicans need to do a better job explaining double-taxation with dividends and capital gains. The way it is now, people hear about how so-and-so made all this money and only paid 15% while some much poorer person paid 20% or more, never getting the explanation as to how this is an apples-to-oranges comparison so long as we have high corporate income taxes that take a huge cut of profits before they become dividends or capital gains.

Indeed.

So, tell me again, why did young people vote for Obama?

Maybe it’s that they don’t want to grow up. From Yahoo!’s homepage today:

The real story though is that although they helped elect the incumbent, delivering two-thirds of their votes to Barack Obama, they’re the group suffering the most from his economic polices. Although that Democrat saw his American Recovery and Reinvestment Act sail through a Democratic Congress in 2009, that supposedly stimulative legislation has failed to generate the jobs he promised.

And now only “only 55 percent of young Americans have jobs, [the] lowest [figure] since WWII“:

Unemployment among young adults is at its highest point since World War II, new data show. And it’s having a disconcerting impact on the trajectory of their careers and lives.

We have a monster jobs problem, and young people are the biggest losers,” Andrew Sum, an economist with the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University told the Associated Press.

Just 55.3 percent of people between 16 and 29 were employed in 2010 on average, the according to new figures released by the Census Bureau. That represents an enormous drop from 67.3 percent in 2000. Among teens the figure was less than 30 percent.

Emphasis added.

Misdiagnosing cause of financial crisis, our elected officials gave more power to regulators who helped cause crisis

Nobel-prize winning economist Gary S. Becker had a piece in the Wall Street Journal on Friday which is perhaps the best short comprehensive piece on the ongoing economic malaise, from the causes of the financial crisis of 2008 to the failure of the immediate past Congress and current administration to remedy the situation.

The University of Chicago economics professor reminds his readers that “government behavior also contributed to and prolonged” the financial crisis: “Regulators who could have reined in banks instead became cheerleaders for the banks.”

Given that markets melted down in a Republican administration, Democrats cleaned up at all levels in the 2008 elections. Once in power, they turned to their party’s tried and true response to economic crises: more government spending. Congressional Democrats put together a near-trillion dollar “stimulus plan”, and “Leading government economists, backed up by essentially no evidence, argued that this spending would stimulate the economy by enough to reduce unemployment rates to under 8%.”

Although a lot of economic theory supports the notion that higher spending stimulates the economy, the historical record tells a different story.

Instead of economic expansion on par with previous economic recoveries with accelerating job creation and declining unemployment, the Democratic stimulus instead produced . . .

. . . a sizable expansion of the federal deficit and debt.

The misdiagnosis of widespread market failure led congressional leaders, after the 2008 election, to propose radical changes in financial institutions and, more generally, much wider regulation and government control of companies and consumer behavior. . . .

Although regulatory discretion failed leading up to the crisis, Congress nevertheless added to the number and diversity of federal regulations as well as to the discretion of regulators. (more…)

Cleaning up Obama’s Messes

In today’s WSJ.com’s Political Diary (available by subscription), Stephen Moore quips “The Laffer report on the two presidents”, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama “is aptly entitled ‘The Odd Couple.’ In this case Reagan would be Felix, because he cleaned up the mess; and Mr. Obama is more like Oscar, who leaves a bigger mess behind.”

Seems Democrats believe the incumbent can repeat the feat of the most successful domestic policy president of the 20th century and win reelection despite middling polls during his third year in office. Problem is is that the Gipper’s poll numbers steadily increased in 1983 while in the corresponding year of his term, Obama’s have drifted downward.

Moore is onto something when he talks about Obama having left a bigger mess behind [than the one he "inherited"]. One reason House Republicans haven’t been able to devote more time on conservative reforms is that they have had to clean up messes the previous Congress left behind, such as its failure to pass a budget and to increase the debt ceiling high enough to accommodate the spending increases it did pass.

In addition to the messes the last Democratic House left the current Republican one, there are the messes Obama will leave to his successor, including notably two of the “big” pieces of legislation he signed, the health care overhaul and the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill, each increasing federal control over our economy. Not to mention all the new regulations administration appointees have foisted on the private sector, particularly those imposed by the EPA.

The next president is going to have to devote the better part of his first year in office just cleaning up the messes the incumbent is making today.

Obama wants GOP to hike taxes to pay for his party’s profligacy

President Obama, I believe, made two crucial decisions, deciding perhaps (at least in the first case) by choosing not to decide that make his grandstanding on the tax issue little more than political demagoguery.  In the first case, he chose not to stand up to congressional Democrats when they presented him with their $800-billion dollar “stimulus.”   The second was when he agreed to extend the tax Bush tax cuts.

Now, wherever he goes, whatever he does, he talks about shared sacrifice and people paying their fair share, by which he means that he wants Congress to tax “millionaires and billionaires.”   Yet, if he thought we needed to raise more revenue from taxpayers, why then did he sign off on extending the tax cuts?  WIthout doing anything, they would have just lapsed and, presto chango, millionaires and billionaires (not to mention small business owners) would be sacrificing a little more to Uncle Sam.

And today the president and the various left-of-center pundits are lecturing Republicans for rejecting tax increases altogether.  Yeah, but Republicans didn’t support the Democrats’ supposedly stimulative spending spree which the president pushed without providing a means to pay for it.  And now the president’s supporters are demanding Republicans support tax increases to pay for that ill-advised piece of profligacy.  And pay the political price for it as well.

The primary reason Republicans are focusing on spending cuts is because the Democrats have ratcheted spending up to levels so high that George W. Bush looks stingy by contrast.  Many of us who would be happy just getting spending down to Clinton-era levels.

President Obama: The Man Without a Plan

On Tuesday, I linked the closing question of Stephen Green’s insightful post on the Obama administration, but the beginning of that post also merits your attention (as does the middle).  He used Steve McCann’ thoughtful piece at American Thinker, linking the president’s behavior in the debt ceiling debate to his overall failure of leadership, as his jumping-off point.

McCann contends that

Barack Obama’s only interest in the debt ceiling debate was to raise the borrowing limit sufficiently to get by the next election, and as a cudgel to denigrate the Republicans. His concern was not for the American people and the impact of overwhelming national debt, nor an impending and inevitable credit downgrade. Rather, he was determined that raising the debt ceiling would not become an issue during the presidential campaign. . . .

The destruction wrought by the nearly $5.5 Trillion (more than a third of the total debt of a nation 222 years old) he will have added to the nation’s balance sheet by the end of his term was immaterial, thus no detailed plan was forthcoming from the White House, and no lie or accusation aimed at the opposition was too absurd to tell.

The Democrat has, McCann observes, “abdicated all responsibility to the Congress, in particular the House of Representatives, which has little choice but to assume a role they are not structured to do: lead the country as best they can until November 2012.”  Indeed, Obama been doing that since the dawn of his administration where he let congressional Democrats draft the “stimulus” as they would later write the health care overhaul.

Seems the election of a Republican House threw a wrench into his plans of governance.   (more…)

Guess it must be George W. Bush’s Fault

Just caught this on Instapundit:

WHO OWNS THE DEBT-CEILING ISSUE AGAIN? “Of the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling we have now, $4.5 trillion got added by Democrat-controlled Congresses since taking control in 2007. That corresponds exactly with the expansion in spending by Democratic Congresses over the same period.”

The day the president lost the tax issue

December the 7th may be the day that lives infamy, but December the 6th marks the day President Obama lost the debate on taxation.  On that day last year, as Washington Post writers Lori Montgomery and Shailagh Murray put it, the Democrat “and congressional Republicans . . . reached a tentative accord on a far-reaching economic package that would preserve George W. Bush administration tax breaks for families at all income levels for two years”.

To return tax rates to their level before the Texas Republican took office, all Obama had to do was, well, nothing.  The tax rates set early in Mr. Bush’s term would have expired on their own.

In working out this compromise, then signing the bill, the president essentially conceded the argument on taxes.  And yet now it appears the agreement he had worked out with congressional leaders fell apart because Speaker Boehner wouldn’t accede to his demand for “additional revenues” (AKA more taxes).

If the president so wanted additional revenue, why then didn’t he just sit back last December and let the Bush tax rates lapse?

Why couldn’t it have been settled before 2010 Elections?

Glenn Reynolds notes how convenient it is that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner [says the] Debt-Ceiling Must Be Settled Until After 2012 Election. He wants Congress to “take default off the table for the next 18 months … through the election.”

Might have been more convenient for Democrats to settle it before the 2010 elections when they had the votes to do so, considering, that is, how they used those votes to increase the debt as an astronomical pace.