Reality Check

As we head into Michigan and Arizona, the Republican party needs a reality check.  Fortunately, here it is:

Rick Santorum

The media is doing their best to paint Santorum as some sort of radical conservative religious whacko.  Hardly.  Santorum on social issues is saying what most Republicans are thinking.  The thing is, conservatives are scared to death of Obama winning re-election and many will gladly sacrifice what they believe to take the candidate everyone is telling them can win.  But here’s the thing, Obama’s economy has about a 26% approval rating and any Republican looks amazing economically next to Obama.  If Obama wins, it will be because he runs an incredible marketing campaign, race bates, and paints his opponents as somehow more socially radical than he is.  It won’t be because Obama saved the economy, unless moderates and independents are even more gullible and stupid than we thought.

What should keep Republicans up at night about Santorum is his passion on Iran.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want Iran to get a nuclear weapon.  I think they will use it on Israel if they do.  But America is not ready to commit to another war.  I think we would have to see another 3,000 US civilians die on one day before the majority of Americans get the stomach for what Santorum has been talking about.  That includes what he has talked about with central America.

Mitt Romney

Romney is uninspiring by design.  His economic plan is a mixture of timid populism.  In the end, what he is running on is his record of creating a great deal of personal wealth and success, as well as his management skills.  But Warren Buffett, another populist, has also made great personal success through good management, and I think he would be a terrible President.  If this election were solely about the economy,the DNC would be looking for a new candidate and Romney would already be the GOP candidate.  The fact is, as long as Romneyites continue to downplay social issues, they will continue to loose the support of the majority of conservatives who actually care about social issues.  Believe it or not, many Americans on both sides of the aisle hold the value of their social and religious issues higher than the economy.   For example, many pro-lifers would sacrifice a great deal of wealth to stop the murder of the unborn.

What keeps Republicans awake at night about Mitt Romney is the fact that even his economic plan has been as malleable as his social stances.  What was supposed to be Romney’s conservative strength has instead turned into calls to raise the minimum wage and tax the rich to redistribute to the poor.  In each case, this was a reaction from the Romney campaign to criticism from the left.

Newt Gingrich

Newt is the smartest candidate and he has the best ideas.  It is no secret that I believe this.  But Newt is easily destroyed by opponents and the media.  He has tried to run a cheap campaign with little or no ground game, which makes victory as visionary as a base on the moon.  Part of Newt’s problem is that now his electability is questionable instead of Santorum’s.  Newt isn’t going to win anything until he re-establishes himself as the only electable anti-Romney.  Every time Santorum wins another state, Newt’s chances dim even more.  Get ready for things to start looking real bad as Santorum wins Arizona and maybe Michigan.

What keeps Republicans awake at night about Newt Gingrich is how easily he is destroyed by negative campaigning and how weak his campaign structure is.  If Newt can’t beat the unelectable Santorum and uninspiring Romney in every state, how would he propose to beat Obama?

Ron Paul

No one ever thought Ron Paul would win, except maybe his 10% who also think that being obnoxious will win people over.  However, it has been noted that Paul seems to have a cozy relationship with Mitt Romney.  Perhaps Paul also thinks only Romney can beat Obama.  Or, as some have suggested, maybe Paul has a secret deal with Romney to secure a VP slot for him or his son.  Actually, a Romney/Rand Paul ticket would be an incredibly smart idea and might be the only thing that can bring the extremes of the Republican party back together.  The only thing, of course, other than Obama himself.

What keeps Republicans awake at night about Ron Paul is his Iran policy.  Yeah, maybe we aren’t ready to go to war in Iran like we did in Iraq.  But I also don’t think most Americans are ready to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that Iran isn’t a threat.  I think fewer Republicans have an appetite to continue the World America Apology Tour under a different name.

Barack Obama

The real reality check for Republicans should be a refocusing on Barack Obama.  Believe it or not, there are people out there who support him.  After Solyndra, Fast n Furious, reversing Mexico City policy, forcing religious organizations to provide abortion pills, Obamacare, and everything else Obama has done, there are actually cars on the road with Obama 2012 stickers on them.  Somehow, Obama still has a shot in this race.

What should keep Republicans awake at night about Barack Obama is that despite all that he has done to this country and to the rule of law and constitution, there are people who still support him.  The media refuses to vet Obama, even ignoring his radical social positions on abortion.  Meanwhile, in desperation Santorum is releasing economic plans that are going ignored by the party and media.  GOP candidates are doing a great job of getting their message out.  Unfortunately, their message is that each other suck.  Let’s hope that Republicans will find a way to inspire the entire base, and expose Obama on fiscal AND social issues.

Obama Raised Taxes on Buffet’s Secretary!

Populism Gone Wrong

Last night, Warren Buffet’s secretary occupied  a place of honor as an invited guest of the Obama’s to the State of the Union address.  She got to sit with the First Lady, sort of like the Iraqi woman who was invited by Bush and showed off her ink stained finger for voting.  So what exactly did Buffet’s secretary symbolize?  The downtrodden middle class who somehow pay more taxes than billionaires like her boss Warren Buffet.

There is one glaring problem with Obama using Debbie Bosanek, Buffet’s secretary, as a prop for class warfare.  As Paul Roderick Gregory with Forbes Magazine calculates, Buffet’s secretary makes at least $200,000 a year.  Fortunately, she can still call herself part of the 99% because at $200,000 a year, she only made the top 3% of income earners, not the top 1%.

But here is the best part: Obamacare raises taxes on individuals making more than $200,000.  Because of Obamacare, starting next year Warren Buffet’s secretary will pay an additional 3.8% on investment income, and an additional .9% in Medicare taxes for a total tax hike of 4.7%.  And if Obama gets his way and the Bush tax rates are eliminated for individuals who make more than $200,000, Obama will have effectively raised Buffet’s secretary’s taxes by 7.7%, or possibly as much as 9.6% if she is in the highest tax bracket.

Good job, Mr. President.  Thank you for that ever-so-perfect State of the Union prop.

Speaking of Buffet

In case you were wondering why Obama canceled the Keystone pipeline, a move the Washington Post called “insanity”, we may get some clues by following the money.  According to Bloomberg, Obama supporter Warren Buffet stands to profit big time from cancellation of the pipeline.  Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway owns the rail companies who will transport the oil in lieu of a pipeline. Crony capitalism at its best, at the cost of thousands of American jobs.  Oh yeah, and for you environmentalists who opposed the pipeline, what sort of impact do you think transporting that oil on trains will have on the environment?  Maybe you should re-think this one.

Jacksonville TEA Party Straw Poll Picks Newt

In the first ever Angie’s Subs Caucus, TEA Party members from across the Northeast gathered at Angie’s Subs in Jacksonville, Florida to discuss local and national politics and have a straw poll.  323 votes were cast and the winner was Newt with 138 votes, or 43%.  Second place?  Ron Paul, gaining 26% of the vote.  Romney finished third.

Thursday, Jacksonville will be hosting the last debate before voters in this key state hold their primary.  Recent polls have wavered back and forth with Newt erasing a double digit deficit to now have a slight lead in most polls.

Rubio Flexes Influence

Newt Gingrich pulled an add calling Mitt Romney “anti-immigrant” after Marco Rubio called out the ad as deceptive.  What this shows is the incredible respect the current Republican godfathers have for the 2010 class.  And this is well deserved.  Marco Rubio, Alan West, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, and a host of Republican governors including Scott Walker, Rick Scott, and others, represent the type of conservatism that the TEA Party loves, but that also resonates with Americans.  Part of the reason the 2012 Presidential field has been disappointing for some is because the giants of 2012 pale in comparison to the greatness of the younger Republican generation.

 

Loose Change you can believe in!

Bookmark and Share    Amid charges of “class warfare”, “betrayal” and calls to “tax the rich!” lies a very important question:

Just why are we having this debate?

Increasing taxes will not solve the problem, and what money it will bring in will amount to little more than loose change, because it will go into funding expanding government, not fixing the economy. The problem is that all the talk is about raising taxes, and not about cutting spending. The debate is about the burden on the economy, and adding to the burden, and not about generating growth.

President Obama obviously feels that what worked for Osama Bin Laden, a couple of bullets in the head, will work for the American economy too, or at least by holding a gun to its head. President Obama defies anyone to disagree with him on this one, so no change there. “This is not class warfare,” Obama said. “It’s math.” But his rhetoric is about as empty as the brains in the Fed. In case we don’t get it, Obama in his speech used all his favorite phrases: “I’m not going to allow,” “I’m not going to stand for,” “I will not support” and “I will veto.”

Um, this is America’s economy we’re talking about, not your kid’s end of year school report.

To provide support for his claims, the president turned to Warren Buffet. This is one of those maneuvers where you say, look here’s someone who knows, he’s rich! A little like, look, this program works, here’s a rehabilitated drug addict!

Yet, Mr. Buffet did not gain from his income tax deductions, but from his use of investment vehicles. And so did lots of other people. So, yes, the rich benefit greatly from the tax code. But so do the poor and middle class.

The reality is that higher earners do progressively pay more. The most recently available Congressional Budget Office statistics state that middle-class families in 2007, earning between $34,000 and $50,000, paid an effective rate of 14.3 percent of their income in all federal taxes. The top 5 percent of income earners paid 27.9 percent and the top 1 percent paid 29.5 percent. The highest earners, meaning Americans with an annual income above $2 million, paid on average 32 percent of their income in federal taxes in 2005. The very rich, the top 1 percent of earners in America, paid 38 percent of income taxes in 2008.

Meanwhile, nearly half American households pay no income taxes at all, because the Tax Code says they don’t earn enough. Middle-class taxpayers get a large tax break in home mortgage interest deductions. In all, according to government statistics, last year federal taxpayers received $1.08 trillion in credits, deductions and other perks and paid $1.09 trillion in income taxes, so that’s a massive difference of $0.01 trillion.

The real problem is that this is not just a tax on the rich. It is also a tax on wealth creation, a concept that Democrats have a hard time understanding at the best of times. People pursue their dreams, and work for the rewards and to pass them on to their families and loved ones. Some people don’t want to work so hard, and so settle for less. They have a choice in how they seek their rewards in a liberal society.

In our liberal society, however, a different kind of “liberal” comes along and says government needs to intervene and tell people that they, and the government, will decide what people should do with their wealth. They do this because they believe human nature is bad, and people do not want to give their wealth away for the good of the society “liberals” want to make in their own image, so they need government to do this for them.

Yet, as Arthur C. Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute notes, “The top 10 percent of households in income are responsible for at least a quarter of all the money contributed to charity, and households with total wealth exceeding $1 million give about half of all charitable donations.”

In a liberal society, people should be free to decide how to use their wealth, and they should have the decent human nature to give some of their wealth away philanthropically. This is the moral connection, not the facile moral argument that higher taxes mean more a moral society.

When it comes to the Democrats, they are trying to legislate for their own failure of understanding human nature.

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All the World’s a Stage: Debt will not exit Left or Right

President Obama: Upstage or Upstaged?

Bookmark and Share    You know you’re in trouble when Warren Buffet comes out of the woodwork to offer a plan. And, you know you’re in bigger trouble when you kind of agree with him. Buffet’s plan is this: “I could end the deficit in five minutes. You just pass a law that says that any time there’s a deficit of more than three percent of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.” Buffet says he was only half joking, but it may be recorded as one of his more sensible observations.

The reality is that the debt talks are theater pure and simple.

Look at the backdrop: We are in a new presidential election cycle, which complicates matters. Then look at President Obama taking center stage. Maybe a reason why the Leftists are going so negative on Obama here is that even they recognize a guy wanting to keep the lead role, sorry running for election, when they see one.

Entering Stage Left is his most trenchant critic Paul Krugman, writing reviews that he hopes will close this show, but he has difficulty closing a toilet seat at the best of times. He says, “let’s be frank. It’s getting harder and harder to trust Mr. Obama’s motives in the budget fight, given the way his economic rhetoric has veered to the right. In fact, if all you did was listen to his speeches, you might conclude that he basically shares the GOP’s diagnosis of what ails our economy and what should be done to fix it. And maybe that’s not a false impression; maybe it’s the simple truth.” Yes, Mr. Krugman it is the simple truth.

However, theater is about fantasy so let’s move to the next Scene.

President Obama says “Government has to start living within its means, just like families do. We have to cut the spending we can’t afford so we can put the economy on sounder footing, and give our businesses the confidence they need to grow and create jobs.” Krugman says this is conservative ideology, since government should not budget like families, and argues businesses aren’t holding back because they lack confidence in government policies; they’re holding back because they don’t have enough customers. There’s a reason for that Mr. Krugman at a time when the economy is actually growing, it’s called confidence and politicians are knocking the stuffing out of the economy in a staged fight.

So let’s go to the next Act, and the dramatic scene featuring the President addressing the audience directly.

Obama says the debt ceiling should not “be used as a gun against the heads” of Americans to retain breaks for corporate jet owners or oil and gas companies, using some of his most direct dialog to date. He wants to reduce the deficit, in part, through new tax revenue raised by closing loopholes and tax subsidies. Beneath the rhetoric to the audience, however, is a soliloquy to the Democrats of good old fashioned class warfare.

So, entering stage Right, the Republicans oppose measures that raise taxes, demanding steep reductions in the US budget deficit as the price of a debt increase. Leftist rag The Nation (I refer you to the earlier point of Krugman closing the toilet seat), says, “Republicans have been negotiating in bad faith, unwilling to compromise even an inch on their extremist and absolutist positions. Some are no longer willing to come to the table at all.” Leftists sing a chorus that the Republican Party is threatening to default on the nation’s debt and this will sabotage the global economy on the basis of narrow ideological goals. A new verse is being added as you read this, namely that the President should invoke Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, which says that “the validity of the public debt of the United States … shall not be questioned.”

Democrats and Republicans remain “far apart on a wide range of issues,” Obama, said wringing his hands as he adjusted his teleprompter prop. “Everyone acknowledged that we have to get this done before the hard deadline of Aug. 2 to make sure America does not default for the first time on its obligations. And everybody acknowledged that there’s going to be pain involved politically on all sides.”

Meanwhile, the Opening Night of this show, August 2, is fast approaching and the cast are still fluffing their lines over raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

At Thursday’s rehearsal, all the lead cast turned up and “All the leaders came here in a spirit of compromise and of wanting to solve problems on behalf of the American people.” So, it will be alright on the night! President Obama hopes Sunday’s dress rehearsal will pave the way for the “hard bargaining” necessary for a deal, because “Everybody acknowledges that there’s going to be pain involved politically on all sides,” he said. And, the chorus joined in with a handful of officials on both sides of the aisle indicating they are ready to give ground.

With all this improvisation, let’s just remind ourselves of the script: •Public debt was $14.3 trillion on 31 May, up from $10.6 trillion when Obama took office in January 2009 •Congress has voted to raise the US debt limit 10 times since 2001 •The largest expenditures of the projected $135 Billion deficit include: $80.9 Billion on Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, $72.9 Billion on government agency expenses, $31.7 Billion on Defense, and $29.0 Billion on Interest on Treasury securities.

In the show Chorus Line, the opening song ends with the lines:

Who am I anyway?

 Am I my resume?

 That is a picture of a person I don’t know.

 What does he want from me?

What should I try to be?

So many faces all around, and here we go.

 I need this job, oh God, I need this show.

Yeah, the show must go on Mr. President…it’s time for your close up.

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