This temporary reduction in the Social Security Payroll Tax, which costs about $140 Billion, was put in place by the Administration and Democrat majority Congress in order to stimulate the economy. Once in place, while American workers appreciate the average $20 per week of additional take-home pay, this reduction has been part of the failed stimulus efforts by the Administration. On top of the failure of the stimulative effect of this temporary tax reduction, is that the Administration and Congressional Democrats seek to offset the costs to the country in terms of increasing the deficits resulting from this temporary tax reduction by passing permanent tax increases on the top 5 or 6% of American workers.
Now we are being told that the GOP House leadership and their caucus who are opposing a functionally unworkable 2 month temporary extension of the temporary tax reduction are the grinch's who are attacking 160 million American workers - while they are being so intransient and stubborn on insisting on their own 12 month temporary extension of the temporary tax reduction which is fully paid for by spending reductions elsewhere.
The theater over this debate is now the real story. The issues around the logistical nightmare, and costs, associated with a temporary 2 month extension to buy time for more negotiations to get a permanent tax increase in place to fund the temporary tax reduction, the chronic overspending and fiscal irresponsibility present inside DC, and the desire to continue to do the same failed policies again and again while expecting different results are lost in the hyperventilation over the political campaign. Cable news programs are running footage of the House leadership refusing to honor the House Democrats requesting a vote on the 2 month extension - and portraying the House's intent to conference on the differences between the House and Senate versions of the temporary extension as being a shocking abuse of power.
Even the reliably conservative Op-Ed pages of the Wall Street Journal buy into this misplaced rhetoric as they castigate the GOP Congressional leadership for their failures on this issue. The issue is not the hammering they deliver to the GOP Congressional leadership - as it is well deserved. Senate Minority Leader McConnell has been particularly silent and ineffective - scared not only of the bias in the media, but afraid to confront rebels within his own conference like Maine Senators Snowe and Collins, plus empty suits like MA Scott Brown.
The National Review is one of the few media elements that is staying with the facts and supporting the decision by the House GOP to reject the Senate's 2 temporary tax reduction extension in favor of their own 12 month temporary tax reduction extension. Any temporary tax reduction is a mistake - but a 12 month extension is less of a mistake than a 2 month extension along with 'promises' to negotiate more once the Christmas holiday break ends in mid-January.
Also included in both the Senate and House bills are the requirement that the Obama Administration either grants the Keystone XL pipeline an approval within 60 days or is prepared to come to Congress to make the case as to why not constructing this pipeline is in the 'national interest'. The President is on record with delaying any decision on the pipeline until 2013 - afraid to anger a critical portion of his base either the environmentalists who oppose the pipeline or union members who are in favor of the pipeline. However, there is another fundamental reason as to why Barack Obama cannot approve of this project. This project does nothing to advance the size, scope, and power of the Federal Government. That is, to Obama, far more important than boosting prosperity, creating jobs, and lowering energy costs.
60% of American's support the construction of the pipeline to bring oil from Canada's province of Alberta to US refineries along the Gulf coast. But this is no longer the story it once was...thanks to the mainstream media...
The other major story that has the media hyperventilating this morning is the news that Ron Paul is surging towards the lead, or is in the lead, in the Iowa polls. The latest Iowa State University poll has Paul with a solid lead over both Mitt Romney and the fading Newt Gingrich. The mainstream media is dancing like a 10 year old who has to take a leak in their excitement over Paul winning in Iowa - or either winning the GOP nomination or running as a third party candidate. Somehow they are revelling in the thoughts that Ron Paul would do for the Democrats what Ross Periot did for Bill Clinton or Ralph Nader did for George W. Bush.
The problem with this is that Ron Paul is the worst possible candidate that the GOP has in the running- far worse than Jon Huntsman or Rick Santorum - two who are trailing in the polls significantly. Paul's baggage is both horrific and daunting - particularly around his misguided foreign policy.
Paul believes that America is the root of all problems in the world - and that we are the only reason why other entities and nations act in the manner that they act - not their own goals or agendas. He has condemned the US for drone attacks on terrorists like the al Qaeda recruiter, propagandist, and operations officer al-Awaki - who was not only a mentor to several 9/11 attackers, but also the mentor to Nidal HassanUS in contempt for it's killing of the al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Ladin earlier this year...
Ron Paul opposed the killing of Osama Bin Ladin - Rep. Ron Paul took an interesting position for a likely presidential candidate Tuesday – he explained to a Iowa radio station why he would not have ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden.In addition to the questionable statements and positions contained in Ron Paul's newsletters that Paul consistently tries to distance himself from, one of Paul's main constituencies is the 9/11 truther movement - those like Paul supporter Alex Jones who believe that the Bush Administration was behind the destruction of the Twin Towers in NYC (via implosion). Paul refuses to distance himself from this whacked out point of view.
The answer seemed to catch Iowa radio host Simon Conway off guard; he asked Paul to repeat it.
In fact Ron Paul courts these believers just as he courts and accepts the support from Alex Jones, white supremacists like those of Stormfront, the John Birch Society, or the neo-Confederacy and anti-Americanism of his former Chief of Staff Lew Rockwell and the von Mises Institute.
Ron Paul even considers Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier currently facing charges of espionage and aiding foreign powers for his role in downloading and providing to Wikileaks hundreds of thousands of classified documents, a 'hero' and a 'patriot' for his actions to damage the United States...
Paul has called Manning, a crossdresser with acknowledged mental problems, a “hero” and “patriot” for stealing government secrets and providing them to WikiLeaks.With Ron Paul, we have the one candidate in the Presidential race who would be worse than Barack Obama in the White House. And that is why the mainstream media is playing up the Paul candidacy.
Manning, who served as an intelligence analyst in Iraq, is charged with one of the most spectacular and damaging leaks of classified information in this country’s history. The death penalty has been strangely ruled out in his case, but he could still face life in prison.
Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the “irresponsible posting of stolen classified documents by WikiLeaks puts lives at risk and gives adversaries valuable information.”
UPDATE - Leon Wolf, writing on RedState, has more on why Ron Paul is a pathetic candidate in a piece titled, "Ron Paul Hates Republicans and Everything They Stand For". In this, Wolf raises questions about those candidates that Ron Paul actually endorses - since he rarely endorses candidates. Beyond kind of endorsing the 2008 Libretarian Candidate for President, Bob Barr, Paul also endorsed a strong neo-Confederate, Chuck Baldwin, anti-semite and certifiable leftist loon Cynthia McKinney, and Ralph Nader. That's right - Ron Paul selected two out right socialists and big government advocates, McKinney and Nader, to throw his political endorsement behind.
These are just more reasons as to why Paul is a complete joke as a candidate - let alone a viable candidate deserving of support from anyone outside of the extreme nutter fringe.
Speaking of stupidity, Bruce Cumings, an academic at the University of Chicago, who is touted as the 'left's leading scholar of Korean history' is on record believing that 'North Korea is a misunderstood land' and that the failure of the state of North Korea is significantly because of American actions and policies. He goes on to say that the US has a "significant responsibility that all Americans share for the garrison state that emerged on the ashes of our truly terrible destruction of the North half a century ago". As with most of the card carrying 'Blame America First' crowd, the argument of this academic is complete horse hockey.
I'm sure if pressed, Cumings would echo the standard meme of the hard left, like that of Jacques Delors and others, who say the problem with North Korea is not the embracing of communism and the police state, but in their implementation of communism. Whoopi Goldberg, one of the screeching shrews on ABC's morning show The View, went on the record with her praise of communism saying, "On paper, it makes perfect sense" before complaining about the fact that it hasn't been implemented properly. The level of this intellectual bankruptcy continues to astound me.
In Europe, European banks eagerly grabbed nearly $639 billion in cheap loans from the European Central Bank in an effort to stave off their insolvency issues...
The near half a trillion euro take-up of ECB funds represented the most the bank has ever pumped into the financial system and exceeded almost all forecasts. A total of 523 banks borrowed with demand way above the 310 billion euros expected by traders polled by Reuters,
"The take-up was massive ... much higher than the expected 300 billion euros. Liquidity on the banking system has now increased considerably," said Annalisa Piazza at Newedge Strategy.
The funding should bolster banks' finances, ease the threat of a credit crunch and may tempt them to buy Italian and Spanish bonds, thereby easing the currency area's sovereign debt crisis.
But analysts said there was little prospect of the cash being hurled at the debt of euro zone weaklings and, while an interbank lending freeze may have been averted, the lack of trust between banks to lend to each other remains unresolved.
This amounts to nothing more than another band-aid intended to help the banks and nations continue to kick the can down the road while ignoring the fundamental problems that plague the EU...not unlike focusing the breadth of the fiscal debate in this country on if we should extend a temporary payroll tax reduction for another 12 months or another 2 months...while we spend $4 - $5 billion a day we don't have.
On This Day in History -
December 21, 1620 - The Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock.
December 21, 1945 - General George S. Patton died from complications resulting from his injuries (and paralysis) suffered in an auto accident on December 9th.
December 21, 1988 - Pan Am Flight 103 is destroyed by a terrorist's bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland killing 259 on board the aircraft and 11 on the ground. The Libyan Government was determined to be behind the terror attack.