Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quick Hits - April 18, 2012

The feckless Senate Democrats have once again decided to punt on their fiscal (and legal) responsibilities as the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, North Dakotan Democrat Kent Conrad announces that despite his promises last week to mark up a budget for a Senate vote this week - Senate Democrats under Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Las Vegas) will bring any budget forward for consideration prior to this November's election.

An annual budget is required by federal law, however, under Harry Reid's leadership, the Senate Democrats have gone nearly 1,100 days without passing a federal budget.  Reid continues to resist putting a budget forward - and has been pressuring the retiring Senator Conrad to back down from his plan to move a budget based on the Bowles / Simpson Deficit Reduction Commission forward.  A similar budget was introduced in the House - but defeated by a huge bipartisan margin 382 votes against - 38 votes for.

Harry Reid and a number of Senate Democrats believe that the Deficit Reduction bill and compromise reached last fall superseded the need for a budget - however, two weeks ago the Senate Parliamentarian (appointed by Reid) resoundly rebuffed that contention by saying the Senate does need to pass an annual federal budget.

Needless to say, Senator Harry Reid has no interest in having the Senate fulfill its responsibilities to the American people.

This leads us to note the latest grim milestone for the Obama Presidency.  After 39 months in office, President Obama has overseen an increase in the national debt of more than $5 trillion dollars. 

3 months ago, President Obama achieved the dubious distinction of surpassing the $4.89 trillion added to the national debt during the 8 years of the President George W. Bush Administration.  (Yes, that's right, in basically 3 years, President Obama overspent as much as his 'unpatriotic' predecessor did in 8 years.)  Looking at his fourth consecutive fiscal year with a greater than $1 trillion annual deficit, President Obama is actually on pace to exceed $6 trillion in new debt prior to the expiration of his term in January 2013.  In fact, it's very possible that we will hit this unprecedented threshold before the November elections!!

By June of this year, President Obama will have increased the national debt more than the first 42 Presidents of the United States did COMBINED.  The total federal debt did not exceed the current $5.027 trillion level of the Obama increase thusfar until the last year of Bill Clinton's first term in office.  Quite an accomplishment for our President.

This is before the full effect of another major Obama boondoggle hits the American taxpayer - and the American national debt totals - the costs associated with Obamacare - which is now estimated to add over $1.75 trillion to the national debt over the next decade - with expectations that this could increase to $2.4 trillion over the decade from 2014-2023....

These higher Obamacare costs are despite some major tax increases and new taxes that were created to try to mitigate the huge costs associated with the government taking over 1/6th of the national economy.  We're already looking at a major 'Taxmageddon' on January 1, 2013 as the 2% temporary Social Security Payroll Tax reduction expires, the 2001-2003 tax cuts expire (which effect far more than just a 10% across the board tax hike), increases in capital gains and dividend taxes, return to the marriage penalty, and increased estate taxes.  But according to the Heritage Foundation, on top of this nearly $400 billion in taxes hitting on 1/1/13, another $502 billion over the next decade will hit to 'pay for' Obamacare.

The President’s health law will be partially paid for by tax increases and the creation of new taxes. When Obamacare first passed, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that its tax hikes would total $502 billion over the next 10 years. But most of the new, higher taxes don’t kick in until later in the decade, which means that once all of the law is fully implemented, the taxpayers’ tab will be much bigger than originally estimated.

A new study by the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) revealed today that Obamacare will impose higher taxes totaling $4 trillion between now and 2035, with substantial hits on working Americans. That works out to more than $1.7 trillion over a decade—more than triple the original 10-year score.

There is a major problem with the mindset of Democrats when it comes to fiscal responsibility - or should I just call it as it is - fiscal irresponsibility. We're told that the tax system needs to be based on fairness - but already the top 10% of income earners pay 70% of the total tax bill - and the bottom 50% only pays about 2% of the total tax bill.

We're looking at billions in new taxes - yet the deficit is soaring as spending hits an unprecedented 24% of GDP - far above past spending levels. And for all of this spending, we're getting billions going to green energy firms which go bankrupt, government agencies that spend the dollars irresponsibly, and massive entitlements intended to ensure that those who receive the entitlements are beholden to the progressive Democrats that are driving the country into the ground.

There is a fundamental challenge with the viewpoint of the progressive Democrats towards leadership and their responsibility of leadership. They don't believe they are accountable. Problems are the result - not of their own mismanagement and mistakes - but always the fault of someone else. Hypocrisy and double standards are commonplace - not the exception which should be (rightfully) reviled.

Patterico posts an interesting approach towards the arrogance of the progressive Democrat and their responsibility to the country, Constitution, and American people with his post on Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan - the former Solicitor General of the US who was active in developing the defense of Obamacare before being appointed to the SCOTUS. It's a descriptive and instructive post...
Describing her move from serving as President Barack Obama’s solicitor general to serving on the Supreme Court, Justice Elena Kagan said last week that “sometimes I think that the job doesn’t really change at all.”

As solicitor general, Kagan’s job was to advocate the Obama administration’s position in cases brought to the Supreme Court. As a justice, Kagan’s job is to judge cases brought to the Supreme Court.

The video referenced is here.

“So, sometimes I think that the job doesn’t really change at all–that as solicitor general my life was spent trying to persuade 9 people and now it’s just trying to persuade 8 people,” said Kagan.

As Patterico notes -
The quote gets a laugh from the audience, but the implications aren’t very humorous. When I have seen Deputy District Attorneys become bench officers, they typically do not see the bench as an extension of their previous life as an advocate. While you do see the occasional “D.A. in a robe” — as well as some who bend over backwards to favor the defense — the best take on the role of a neutral umpire, and take that role seriously. They would never say: “I used to try to put the bad guys away. Now it’s no different, except that I actually have the power to do it.”

In other words, good judges don’t say: I used to be an advocate, and now I’m the same advocate, except now I have a black robe.

Who is being political on the bench?

Two new polls are out on the Romney / Obama race - and more shenanigans. The CBS / NYT poll doesn't disclose the internals - and they are showing that Obama's lead over Romney is within the polls declared margin of error. But Ed Morrissey at Hot Air is doing stellar work looking at this poll and another by Reuters / Ipsos.
CBS didn’t provide the internals of their new poll, however, so we’ll have to make do with their review of the data. The topline results match what most other pollsters are finding, within the margin of error. In fact, it matches what CNN found in their poll of general-population adults — at least before they turned a 48/47 result for Obama into a 53/41 without any explanation whatsoever.

The key here is that Obama is only drawing 46% as the incumbent and the unchallenged Democratic contender in the race.

The Reuters / Ipsos poll shows that the President has a +4 point lead over Mitt Romney - and that this comes courtesy of the pollster providing a +9 point Democrat sample...
The poll shows Obama up four over Romney, 47/43, but that’s with a stated D/R/I of 47/38/15. That’s only predictive if one believes that Democrats will gain eight points over their 2008 turnout, and have two points more of a lead over Republicans than that election provided, according to CNN’s exit polls. Without counting the leaners, the D/R/I is still an odd 29/22/49.

In either case, having a lead within the MoE on a skew of this proportion should also have the White House worried. But there is one key indicator that looks even worse for Obama, which is his approval ratings. They peg Obama approval at 49/49, which is attributable largely to the sample skew, and is hardly impressive. But his approval among independents is a disastrous 37/57, down from 42/54 in March and 45/44 in January. He’s crashing and burning in the middle, where Obama won the 2008 election.

The main focus of the media is to drive the 4, 6, 8, 10 point lead of Obama over Romney throughout the summer - hoping to influence the undecided to 'jump on the winner's bandwagon' - while ignoring the major challenges that the President has with these polls, with the Independents, and his dismal record. They are focusing on perception - not reality.

The very liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled on Arizona's Voter ID law - and largely upheld the legislation...
The Court did rule, however, that Arizona cannot turn down federal voter registration forms, which simply ask applicants to check a box indicating that they are US citizens. That’s not because such provisions would be unconstitutional – it’s because those provisions violate the federal National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (the so-called Motor Voter Act). Due to the supremacy clause of the Constitution, in areas where the federal government legislates, states cannot. It is supposedly unconstitutional for Arizona to come up with another form that requires proof of citizenship.

Senate Republicans have announced that they are joining a lawsuit challenging the legality of President Obama's January recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - saying the appointments are illegal because the Senate remained in pro-forma session - with business being conducted (the passage of the 60 day temporary extension of the temporary Social Security Payroll Tax reduction was done during a pro forma session).  The Administration continues to assert that Congress was in a 'de-facto' recess. 

I think the President is on very dubious legal ground here - particularly given past precedent regarding pro-forma sessions.

This Day in History

1775 -Paul Revere and William Dawes set out from Boston on horseback towards Lexington to warn Minuteman and their leaders, including Samuel Adams and John Hancock, that British troops are marching from Boston to Lexington to arrest the patriot leaders and then confiscate the American arsenal at Concord.

1906 - At 5:13am, an earthquake estimated at close to 8.0 of the Richter scale strikes San Francisco, CA.  An estimated 3,000 were killed in the quake and subsequent fires that the quake ignited - with almost 30,000 structures destroyed in the city.

1923 - Yankee Stadium hosts its first Opening Day - as the New York Yankees defeat the Boston Red Sox 4-1.  The stadium would host the Yankees until the end of the 2008 season.  In 2009, the team moved to the new Yankee Stadium across the street.  The old stadium has since been demolished.

1942 - 16 American B25 medium bombers, led by Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, take off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, 650 miles east of Japan - and complete their mission bombing targets in Tokyo and Yokohama before continuing on to China.  While little real damage was done to the Japanese, the raid was a huge morale boost for Americans - and a major hit to the prestige of the Japanese government.  One of the main results of the raid is that the Japanese decided to focus their next major offensive on taking Midway Island...

1943 - The Commander in Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy, and one of the primary architects around the Japanese naval aviation focus - and ultimately, the attack on Pearl Harbor - Admiral Isorku Yamamoto, was killed when his bomber / transport was ambushed by American P38 Lightning fighters while the Admiral was on a tour of forward bases.  American code breakers had determined the schedule of the tour - and provided the information for the aerial ambush.

1945 - Journalist Ernie Pyle, America's most popular WW2 war correspondent, is killed by Japanese machine gun fire on the island of Ie Shima.  Pyle, a graduate of Indiana University, is honored at the University - where it's School of Journalism is housed in Ernie Pyle Hall.  His stories focused on the soldiers - not on the battles. 
1983 - The US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon is destroyed by a suicide car bomber.  The attack kills 63, including 17 Americans.

1989 - Tens of thousands of pro-Democracy students and civilians protest the Chinese communist government in Beijing - marching through and occupying Tiananmen Square.  While there have been other pro-democracy demonstrations - this is the largest in the Chinese capital.

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