Move Along, Nothing To See Here

Yesterday the Washington Examiner posted an article with the headline, “Fun with the Fed: Inflation is low, but the cost of living is up.” Meanwhile, CNS News posted the following graph yesterday:

Price of Ground Beef Hits All-Time High in November

It is hard for anyone who has been in a grocery store in the past year to believe that inflation is low.

The Washington Examiner reports:

From July to August, the “Core Consumer Price Index” did not move. That means zero inflation, if you use the measure of inflation the Federal Reserve uses when setting monetary policy. But core CPI omits volatile prices like food and energy. If you have a family, you’re probably pretty aware that food and utility bills are a big factor.

The result: The inflation measure that guides Fed decisionmaking has little resemblance to the inflation measure that guides family budgetmaking.

This is another example of the government manipulating numbers to get the desired result. Any resemblance to what is actually taking place and what the government is reporting is purely coincidental.

The Washington Examiner lists some of the price increases in the last year that impact families trying to live within their budget:

Food at home is up 2.9 percent.

Electricity is up 4.1 percent and gas bills are up 5.8 percent.

Coffee is up more than 50 percent from last year.

The article reports:

The net result is that life has gotten considerably more expensive for me since this time last year. I’m not saying this ought to guide our monetary policy. I’m just saying that core CPI doesn’t track the cost of living.

Media Bias Is Reflected In What You Hear Reported As Well As What You Don’t Hear Reported

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article today about a Muslim man who has killed four people in America as an act of retribution for U.S. military action against Muslims in the Middle East. The story was reported in some New York and New Jersey newspapers in August.

On August 21, nj.com reported:

According to court documents filed Wednesday in Washington state, where he is accused of killing three other men, Ali Muhammad Brown said he considered it his mission to murder 19-year-old Brendan Tevlin as an act of “vengeance” for innocent lives lost in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Iran.

“All these lives are taken every single day by America, by this government. So a life for a life,” he told detectives, according to the documents.

…Prosecutors say Brown is a devout Muslim who had become angered by U.S. military intervention in the Islamic world, which he referred to as “evil.” He also referred to drug use as inherently evil.

“During the interview Brown also stated that, as part of his beliefs, if a ‘man sees evil then he must take action against that evil’,” according to court papers.

Essex County authorities have characterized Tevlin’s June 25 murder as a robbery that turned violent when Brown fired 10 shots into the popular college student’s vehicle, which was stopped at a red light at the corner of Walker Road and Northfield Avenue in West Orange.

Why would the authorities characterize Brendan Tevlin’s murder as a robbery when Muhammad Brown told the authorities that he killed Brendan Tevlin and the other men because of his Muslim religion?

The article at Power Line reports:

Brown has a long criminal history that includes a prosecution for conspiracy to commit bank fraud in 2004. Authorities believed that Brown and 13 other men were using the bank fraud scheme to finance terrorist groups overseas, but were never able to prove where the money went, so Brown pled guilty to a single count and was released in 2005. So it is reasonable to infer that he has been a jihadist for a long time.

John Hinderaker at Power Line concludes:

Still, if you didn’t know better, you might think that national news outlets are leery of linking the words “serial killer” and “devout Muslim.” If Brown had told authorities he was a Tea Party member, I am sure we would have heard a lot more about him.

America has always had people who commit crimes and murder people for various reasons. What we have not been dealing with until the past fifteen years is people who live here and feel an obligation to murder Americans in the name of Islam.

The Unemployment Numbers Are Lying And This Is How We Got Here

On September 5, the Weekly Market Wrap at NASDAQ listed the unemployment rate at 6.1 percent.

The article also reported:

In economic news, in the week ending August 30, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims (unemployment benefits) was 302,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 298,000. The 4-week moving average was 302,750, an increase of 3,000 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 299,750.

So we have an increase of unemployment claims, but an unemployment rate holding steady at 6.1 percent. How does the government do that? Easy–shrink the labor force so the percentage stays the same.

Today’s Washington Examiner reports:

It came as quite a disappointment last Friday when the Labor Department announced that the U.S. economy created only 142,000 net jobs in August. Even worse, this anemic number came with a downward revision of a combined net 28,000 jobs for the previous two months.

Now add to these a third unwelcome piece of news: The U.S. labor force participation rate — that is, the share of working-age Americans who are either working or seeking work — has returned to a multi-decade low of 62.8 percent, down from 65.9 percent before the recession. This number, which has been in a nosedive ever since the 2008 recession began, remains mired at levels that haven’t been seen since women began entering the workforce in large numbers. Fewer Americans are in the labor market today than at any point since 1978.

President Obama is not responsible for what happened before he took office, but his policies have resulted in the failure of the economy to rebound from the 2008 recession.

I apologize for the length of what is to follow, but every now and then I think it is a good idea to remember how we got here.

The recession is not President Obama’s fault; it is not President Bush’s fault; it is not the result of greedy bankers, capitalism, or Wall Street. It is the result of faulty government regulation. The recession was the result of the housing bubble–it’s roots go back to the 1977, when President Jimmy Carter signed into law the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) passed by Congress. Congress had good intentions–the law was passed to help low-income families buy houses. The idea was to reduce discrimination in housing loans. In 1995 President Clinton modified the law–the idea was to make the paperwork easier to navigate and to make the CRA ratings of banks available to the public. The securitization of CRA loans (including subprime mortgages) began in 1997.  In 1999 Senators Chris Dodd and Charles Schumer worked on legislation that allowed the Federal Deposit Insurance Act  to allow banks to merge or expand into other types of financial institutions. Under pressure from political action groups, banks began issuing more subprime loans–selling them in groups in investment packages along with loans that had a better chance of being paid back.

In October 2000, Fannie Mae announced a pilot plan to purchase $2 billion of “MyCommunityMortgage” loans. The pilot lenders agreed to customize affordable products for low and moderate-income borrowers. There is nothing wrong with the intention here, but it is not a good idea to lend money unless you have a reasonable expectation of getting it back. The increase in loans caused the price of housing to rise faster than the rate of inflation (which is traditionally the rate of the rise of housing costs). Companies began offering ‘interest only’ and ‘variable interest’ loans so that people could make lower payments on larger houses while the value of their houses increased.  Banks were forced to issued subprime mortgages or pay large penalties to the government. Fannie Mae prospered because it made more loans and sold them. It’s executives raked in amazing amounts of money. The companies writing the subprime mortgages wrote sweetheart mortgage loans to their friends in Congress. In 2004, 92 percent of the loans issued by Fannie Mae were variable-interest- rate loans; in 2005, 91 percent were variable-interest-rate loans. Fannie Mae guaranteed the mortgages they granted and sold them to banks and investors. Home ownership and home prices continued to rise. Then, in 2004, interest rates began to rise, and gasoline prices climbed. In 2007 the subprime mortgage market collapsed because low-income families could not pay their mortgages. Foreclosures increased. There were no buyers. Home prices began to drop. By September of 2008, twelve banks had failed during that year because of worthless government securities issued by Fannie Mae.

So did anyone try to stop this runaway train? Yes. In 2003, President Bush proposed legislation to overhaul the housing finance industry. The President wanted to create a new agency within the Treasury Department to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Democrats in Congress blocked the legislation, saying it might interfere with the ability of low-income families to buy homes. Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts, stated, “The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.” Melvin Watt, a Democrat from North Carolina, stated, “…and in the process weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing.” In 2005, John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, warned of an upcoming mortgage collapse. He sponsored the Housing Enterprise Regulatory Act of 2005 (www.govtrack.us Bill S-190). The purpose of the bill was to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Democrats blocked the bill. The bill was reintroduced in 2007. Again, it was blocked by members of the Senate who had received benefits from the companies involved in the subprime scandal. Senator Chris Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut, had received a sweetheart loan from one of the companies. Jim Johnson, a key member of the Obama campaign team, also received a sweetheart loan from Countrywide Mortgage. From 1991 through 1998, Jim Johnson was the CEO of Fannie Mae. Johnson received $21 million during his tenure there.

The original intent of the CRA was good. It is a wonderful idea to give everyone an opportunity to buy a home. Unfortunately, the expansion of the CRA had the exact opposite effect. Because the government interfered in the free market, a bubble was created. Expectations of what a house should be changed during that time. In the 1960’s and 1970’s there was the concept of a ‘starter home.’ A starter home was usually a relatively inexpensive small house that was affordable, and the equity gained while living there could be used to buy a larger house after a couple started a family. That concept is gone. Look around. What are people building in your neighborhood? The housing bubble reflected a change in what Americans expect in housing. We have lost our moorings for the sake of conspicuous consumption. There is nothing wrong with owning a large home, but we need to balance our wishes with our income; otherwise, America will drown in personal debt as well as federal debt.

A Perspective From A Good Reporter Who Continues To Be A Good Reporter

Sharyl Attkisson was part of the Washington bureau for CBS News. She resigned earlier this year when after investigating the Fast and Furious scandal and the Benghazi scandal, she realized that the network was not interested in reporting the stories she was investigating. The major networks have a political agenda, and they do not deviate from that political agenda regardless of how important a scandal is.

The video below is found on YouTube. It is Sharyl Attkisson on ABC This Week explaining how Watergate would be handled today:

More information on Sharyl Attkisson’s reporting can be found on her website.

Even Uninformed Voters Won’t Believe These Statements

Yesterday the Washington Free Beacon posted a video showing Democrat’s recent statements about the security of our southern border. The video is also found at YouTube.

The fact that Washington is not effectively handling the border crisis is bad enough, but do they have to insult our intelligence in the process?

A Rather Weak Resume´

Victor Davis Hanson posted an article at National Review today which sums up the presidency of Barack Obama. The article is simply entitled, “ Don’t Mess with Messiahs.  Whenever things go wrong, it’s the fault of those obstructionists in Congress.

The article describes the President’s latest whine:

In Obama’s most recent — and embarrassing — public whine, he lashed out at the once-obsequious press. In his now customary first-person I/me/my/mine lament (e.g., “They don’t do anything, except block me and call me names. . . . If they were more interested in growing the economy for you and the issues that you are talking about instead of trying to mess with me, we would be doing a lot better. . . . The critics, the cynics in Washington, they’ve written me off more times than I can count.”), he lambasted the partisan culture of Washington. He lashed out at the Tea Party, the House Republicans, his opponents in general, and all those who would unreasonably oppose his blanket amnesties, his climate-change taxes and regulations, the shutdown of the Keystone-pipeline project, Obamacare, and $9 trillion in new debt.

Mr. Hanson points out that President Obama acts as though he was not in charge when the VA scandal occurred, the IRS scandal occurred, Benghazi was overrun, and the Middle East imploded. Who, then, is running the show?

As it becomes more obvious that President Obama’s economic policies are not working, he seems inclined to continue them.

The article points out:

…Yet the administration’s reaction seems to be more deficit spending, more zero interest rates, more regulations, more restrictions on new energy development, and more class-warfare rhetoric.

Again, the message seems to be something like, “One way or another we are going to grow government, broaden the progressive base, increase the number of Americans on entitlements, raise taxes, cheapen the value of money, run up deficits, pile up regulations — and let you nitpickers worry about the high unemployment, sinking GDP, and declining household income.” The point is not to find the best way to help ordinary Americans, but to find a way to ram through a progressive economic agenda without much concern over whether it works or makes things worse.

Hang on to your hats–this President does not seem to learn from his mistakes.

The Initial Case Against The Internal Revenue Service

As the investigation into the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) continues and the Democrats continue to obstruct the investigation, there is one part of the investigation that is finished.

Scott Johnston at Power Line reported yesterday that under a consent judgment entered earlier this week, the IRS agreed to pay $50,000 in damages to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). The IRS released the donor list of NOM to a gay rights group that opposed the legislation NOM was supporting.

The article reports:

NOM’s statement on the settlement is posted here. The statement quotes NOM chairman John Eastman: “In the beginning, the government claimed that the IRS had done nothing wrong and that NOM itself must have released our confidential information. Thanks to a lot of hard work, we’ve forced the IRS to admit that they in fact were the ones to break the law and wrongfully released this confidential information.” Hmmmm.

That sounds strangely similar to what is happening in Washington in the investigation of the IRS’s targeting of the Tea Party.

The article at Power Line concludes:

Reminder: The charge that Richard Nixon “endeavored” to misuse the IRS made its way into the second of the three articles of impeachment voted against him by the House Judiciary Committee. Nixon’s efforts to misuse the IRS were futile. They went nowhere. Nixon and his henchmen desired the IRS to “screw” their political opponents, but their efforts were a pathetic failure.

Nixon henchman Jack Caulfield astutely complained that the IRS was a “monstrous bureaucracy…dominated and controlled by Democrats.” As we have come to see, Caulfield was on to something. By contrast with Nixon’s failures to misuse the IRS, the IRS has very effectively “screwed” Obama’s political opponents, and we have yet to learn what the president knew and when he knew it.

Why Voter Education Is Important

The Corner at National Review posted a picture of the flier that Thad Cochran passed out before the Mississippi Republican primary election.

This is the picture:

aaaaaaaathadcochranI am ashamed that a Republican ran this sort of campaign. However, this campaign would have been much less effective on an educated voter base. In the end, the voters are responsible for who they send to Washington. As much as I hate to see Harry Reid stay in power, I hope Senator Cochran loses in the general election. This is a disgrace. It is also a reason conservative Republicans should stop giving money to the Republican Party, but only donate to individual candidates.

The Democrats have branded the Tea Party as racist as a way to undermine the message of smaller government and lower taxes. It is a shame that some establishment Republicans have chosen to echo that message. The Tea Party represents the only hope of change in Washington. That is why the political class is so opposed to their message.

The Problem With Walking Down The Middle Of The Road Is That You Tend To Get Run Over

Hot Air posted an article today about the New Hampshire Senate primary. It seems as if Eric Cantor‘s defeat might have been the beginning of a trend. Scott Brown has been seen as the favorite to be the New Hampshire Senate candidate, but things may not be that simple.

The article explains:

One of the candidates, Karen Testerman, has dropped out of the race and tossed her support to former Senator Bob Smith…

Ms. Testerman made the following statement:

It is time for all of us to put aside pride and focus on our greater GOAL, that of fighting for Family, Faith and Freedom. I will not force our principle-driven primary voters to make a self-defeating choice. After much prayer and consultation, I will step aside to allow Senator Bob Smith to be the ONLY conservative name on the primary ballot.…

Senator Smith has a well-earned reputation of standing firm for our conservative beliefs and values and for fighting Washington to stop their overreach. Bob Smith was TEA Party before it had a name.

Scott Brown is a good man, but he has never claimed to be a conservative. He won the special election in Massachusetts to become the Senator to replace Ted Kennedy for two reasons–first of all, the Democrats did not see him coming and did not mobilize, second of all, he knocked on almost every door in the commonwealth and ran as the fifty-first vote against ObamaCare. The fifty-first vote didn’t work out because the Massachusetts Secretary of State delayed seating him in the Senate long enough so that he didn’t get to vote on ObamaCare, but that was the intention. The second time Scott Brown ran in Massachusetts, the Democrats threw everything they could at him to make sure he didn’t win. He didn’t have the support of the Tea Party and was totally outspent and outmaneuvered.

The New Hampshire Tea Party conservatives have never been a fan of Scott Brown. It is not a surprise that they would support a more conservative candidate.

At Least Some Of The Republicans Are Listening

The defeat of Eric Cantor this week in a primary election in Virginia sent shock waves through the Republican leadership. It should have. The message was clear. Listen to your constituents or be voted out of office. However, the Washington establishment has forgotten how to listen.

The Hill posted an article today announcing that Representative Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) was running to replace the defeated Representative Eric Cantor (R-Va.) as House Majority Leader. The establishment Republican candidate is Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), currently the majority whip.

The article reports:

Labrador received support for his late-breaking bid Friday from a fellow conservative stalwart. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.).

In his endorsement, Amash said he could think of “no one more qualified to be our next leader” than Labrador. He also took aim at GOP leadership, arguing that Cantor’s stunning loss should be a lesson in caution for anyone eager to simply move McCarthy up the ladder.

“Washington Republicans can bury what happened last Tuesday with piles of excuses. But if they view Tuesday as an anomaly, they do so at their own peril,” he said. “We can’t respond to a stunning loss by giving a pat on the back and promotion to the same team. It’s time for someone new, someone conservative.”

Amash has repeatedly split with party leaders on a host of legislative issues, and is currently facing a primary challenger who has been boosted by business groups seeking to oust him.

This will be a test for the Republican party. The Tea Party (and the conservative movement) are not dead. Republicans and many Democrats are tired of Washington spying on them, intruding into their lives, and passing legislation that lowers their standard of living. The guilt falls on elements of both parties.

If you are tired of the non-listening establishment that has been running Washington lately, call your Republican house member and let him know that the promotion of the ‘next in line’ is not a good idea. It’s time for new people and new ideas.

 

The People vs. The Establishment

The internet is abuzz this morning with interpretations and hand wringing over Eric Cantor‘s defeat in the Virginia primary.

The Washington Examiner reports:

One House Republican, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Cantor’s loss was a “big win” for President Obama because it could empower the more hardline elements in the GOP and damage the effort on the part of some Republicans to broaden the party’s appeal to cross ethnic and gender lines. Cantor lost to college professor Dave Brat, who campaigned as an anti-immigration reform candidate and affiliated with activists and talk radio hosts who identify with the Tea Party.

I don’t see this as a win for President Obama–I see it as a win for people who are disgusted with ‘business as usual’ in Washington. Since when do we call people who believe in the Constitution and the Tenth Amendment radicals? I think our founding fathers would turn over in their graves if they saw what has happened to the nation they birthed.

Elections are the way Americans can express their satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with their leaders. I think the Americans in Eric Cantor’s district just made their opinion very clear.

It Just Gets Worse

Yahoo News has posted an article today reporting that the five terrorists that were released from Guantanamo to Qatar have been moved to a residential community and will be allowed to move freely around the country. There is a one-year ban imposed on the terrorists that will theoretically prevent them from traveling outside the country. How long will it be before they make internet contact with their friends and resume terrorists activities?

The article reports:

Following the deal under which freed the last American soldier held in Afghanistan was freed, concerns have been expressed by some U.S. intelligence officials and congressional advisers over the role of the Gulf Arab state as a bridge between Washington and the world of radical Islam.

The Gulf official said the Taliban men, who have been granted Qatari residency permits, will not be treated like prisoners while in Doha and no U.S. officials will be involved in monitoring their movement while in the country.

“Under the deal they have to stay in Qatar for a year and then they will be allowed to travel outside the country… They can go back to Afghanistan if they want to,” the official said.

The more we learn about this deal, the worse it gets.

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Why The Freedom Of Information Act Is Important

Judicial Watch is an organization that has held both Democrat and Republican politicians accountable to the people who voted for them. One of their best weapons used to hold politicians accountable is the Freedom of Information Act. Even when the press has walked away from a story, Judicial Watch keeps looking for information. In the case of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Scandal, their tenacity has paid off.

The Daily Caller is reporting today that Judicial Watch has obtained emails showing that Democrat Senator Carl Levin pressured the IRS to target conservative groups.

The article reports:

Levin, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ permanent subcommittee on investigations, wrote a March 30, 2012 letter to then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman discussing the “urgency” of the issue of possible political activity by nonprofit applicants. Levin asked if the IRS was sending out additional information requests to applicant groups and citing an IRS rejection letter to a conservative group as an example of how the IRS should be conducting its business.

The article reports that the IRS targeting is easily traceable to Washington, D.C.:

IRS official Holly Paz wrote a July 6, 2010 email to Washington-based IRS lawyer Steven Grodnitzky “to let Cindy and Sharon know how we have been handling Tea Party applications in the last few months.” Grodnitzky replied to the email, confirming that the Washington-based Exempt Organization Technical unit (EOT) was designing the targeting in the nation’s capital.

“EOT is working the Tea party applications in coordination with Cincy. We are developing a few applications here in DC and providing copies of our development letters with the agent to use as examples in the development of their cases,” Grodnitzky wrote.

“Chip Hull [another lawyer in IRS headquarters] is working these cases in EOT and working with the agent in Cincy, so any communication should include him as well. Because the Tea party applications are the subject of an SCR [Sensitive Case Report], we cannot resolve any of the cases without coordinating with Rob,” Grodnitzky wrote.

“Rob” is believed to be then-IRS director of rulings and agreements Rob Choi, who was based at the agency’s Washington headquarters, according to Judicial Watch.

This use of the IRS for political purposes by whichever party is in power will continue unless it is stopped in its tracks now. I strongly recommend that you email your Representative and your Senators and tell them that you want those who used the IRS for political purposes held accountable. Otherwise, this will be the new normal.

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After A While, You Have To Wonder If This Is Intentional

Yesterday, the Daily Caller reported that one of the taxes in ObamaCare will result in the loss of between 152,000 and 286,000 jobs by 2023. The tax is the health insurance tax which charges insurance companies according to their percentage of the insurance market — the more health plans sold (Obamacare’s goal), the more insurers are required to pay.

The tax will actually impact small businesses, raising their insurance costs. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) estimates that 57 percent of the jobs lost will be in companies with less than 500 employees. Small business is the backbone of the American economy, the economic policies of the Obama Administration are undermining the strength of our economy.

The article reports:

The federal government expects to collect $8 billion from the tax in 2014, $11.3 billion in 2015, with the pot growing to $14.3 billion by 2018. While the Obama administration may have intended for the tax to take a hit at insurers’ profits, the cost of the tax will likely be passed along to those purchasing the plans — which in the vast majority of cases are employers.

The American Action Forum, a Washington-based free-market think tank, estimates that the health insurance tax will add $101 onto customers’ premiums in 2014 and $143 in 2015 and 2016.

ObamaCare is not good for Americans, and it is not good for the American economy. We need to elect people in November who are willing to repeal it. There are ideas in ObamaCare that can be included in new healthcare programs, but ObamaCare has to go.

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A Caution To Conservatives

William F. Buckley is said to have stated that Conservatives should ‘support the most viable conservative candidate.’ That’s a very important statement.

The exact quote:

“The wisest choice would be the one who would win. No sense running Mona Lisa in a beauty contest. I’d be for the most right, viable candidate who could win.”
-William F. Buckley Jr.

Right now there are two parties in Washington–the first is composed of the Democrats and the establishment Republicans, and the second is composed of the conservatives who have been elected since 2010. The 2014 mid-terms are important. They will determine whether the Democrats and establishment Republicans continue their tax and spend ways or if fiscal sanity makes an appearance.

Many Republican candidates who have been in office for a while are being challenged for the first time in primary campaigns by more conservative candidates. There is nothing wrong with the fact that establishment candidates are being challenged, but I have a word of caution.

In a world of instant news, cell phones that record and take pictures, twitter and facebook, candidates need to be more disciplined than they ever have been. Because the opposition is more than willing to take any comment out of context and twist words, candidates need to adhere to a specific group of lukewarm comments in order to get elected. I am not suggesting that candidates lie or misrepresent themselves, but I am saying that discipline on the part of the candidates will be crucial to this election.

Primary elections are important. You can judge a candidate by the way he runs his primary campaign–does he speak without thinking, does he make statements that cause him to have to  backtrack, is he respectful of the people who come out to hear him and eventually support him?

My advice to conservatives is simple–make sure your candidates are ready for prime time. Otherwise, you will be wasting money and time and accomplishing nothing.

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When Cuts Aren’t Cuts

The CATO Institute posted an article yesterday about Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget proposal.

The article included this chart which tracks spending in the coming years under Congressman Paul Ryan’s proposed budget:

The chart below compares Paul Ryan’s budget against the CBO projections of the federal budget:

Notice that there are no actual spending cuts in Paul Ryan’s budget–it simply represents a slower rate of growth.

The article reports:

Chairman Ryan’s budget would spend $42.6 trillion over the next ten years. Opponents will say that Ryan’s budget slashes federal spending, while supporters will say that it includes large budgetary savings. The reality is that Ryan’s budget would increase spending at an annual average rate of 3.5 percent, or from $3.54 trillion in 2014 to $5.0 trillion in 2024. Only in Washington would that be considered substantial restraint, let alone slashing.

Until we change the culture of Washington, we can expect to see Congress drive America into bankruptcy. If you want to see change, you need to change the people you vote for. Continually voting for the people who keep spending high will not result in lower spending.  Most of the establishment Republicans (as well as the Democrats) have forgotten their promises to cut spending. Those Republicans need to be replaced by people who will remember their promises.

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The Discussion About Common Core Continues

Today I attended a public meeting of a joint legislative committee in North Carolina that is studying Common Core and will likely make recommendations on its implementation in the state. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a set of standards for K-12 in English and Math. It will later include Science and Social Studies. It is a top down program coming from Washington, D.C., that is copyrighted and not tailored to meet the needs of each individual state. The Common Core program is heavily funded by the Bill Gates Foundation.

There were sixty speakers at the meeting and another forty or fifty in the audience listening to the arguments. Generally speaking, those who supported Common Core spoke of the need for educational standards. I don’t think anyone would dispute that educational standards are needed–the question is whether those standards will be handled locally or handed down from Washington, D.C.

The arguments against Common Core were varied. Some people argued that the dictation of educational standards from Washington, D. C. was unconstitutional. Other speakers expressed concern about the amount of data that will be collected on the students in the Common Core program and what will be done with that data. There was a serious question as to whether privacy rights of students and parents will be protected.

The most convincing argument against Common Core came from parents of children in kindergarten through grade three. Those parents were nearly in tears as they described the impact Common Core was having on their children–the children hate school and are suffering anxiety attacks due to the pressure of constant testing. The children are also being asked to understand concepts that are not age-appropriate to them.

Two other objections to Common Core were that the program has not been tested and that no one has put a specific price tag on the cost of implementing and maintaining the program.

After listening to the statements made this morning, I can only conclude that it would be unwise to implement a set of academic standards without adequately testing them or knowing how much they would cost. I would strongly suggest that the State of North Carolina set its own academic standards by observing other states that have been successful in doing this. Massachusetts (before Common Core) is a very good example of a state that greatly improved its academic standards without any help from the federal government. This is probably the only time I will ever suggest that North Carolina follow the example of Massachusetts, but this is the one time Massachusetts has set a good example.

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Hiding Tax Money Outside The Budget

The Heritage Foundation posted an article today about government-sponsored entities (GSEs). These organizations have an off-budget status (excludes them from federal budget rules and processes) which hides their real cost to taxpayers.

The article cites the example of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae:

The Treasury is keeping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the taxpayer-backed loan guarantee giants, off the federal budget.

How is this possible?

In 2008, the government took control of Fannie and Freddie and agreed to shield the entities from bankruptcy. Now that the country has recovered from that housing crisis, and money is coming back in through these government-sponsored entities (GSEs), their true cost remains hidden.

…It’s jaw-dropping that such massive flows of taxpayer money could be kept outside the federal budget. And as you can imagine, keeping that cash off the books distorts the overall budget picture.

Just for a start, the housing entities’ “profits paid to the Treasury in 2013 alone have resulted in federal spending and deficits being underreported by more than $100 billion,” says Boccia, the Grover M. Hermann Fellow.

This affects public perception of the deficit—and even lawmakers’ perceptions as they make plans to spend more in the coming year’s budget.

The obvious solution to this is to eliminate GSEs. They have become another way that Washington can control more taxpayer money without being held accountable.

There will be an election in November. All of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate will be up for re-election. Unless we elect people who will actually represent us and not become part of the Beltway establishment, we will be watching America descend into bankruptcy.

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Sometimes It Just Takes A While For The Truth To Come Out

Fox News posted an article today about some of the testimony on the attack on Benghazi that simply does not add up. The testimony relates to whether or not the attack was a spontaneous event or the result of careful planning.

The article states:

In addition to Rogers’ (Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee) assessment, military experts say the mortar strike on the CIA base was evidence of a planned terror attack, and because it forced the evacuation of the annex, it must have been known immediately in Washington. But in a letter to the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in January 2013, Morell said “the nature of the attacks suggested they did not involve significant pre-planning.”

Two of the witnesses that have previously testified before the committee are expected to be called back–former CIA Director David Petraeus and his ex-deputy Michael Morell.

The article reports:

In addition to Rogers’ assessment, military experts say the mortar strike on the CIA base was evidence of a planned terror attack, and because it forced the evacuation of the annex, it must have been known immediately in Washington. But in a letter to the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in January 2013,Morell said “the nature of the attacks suggested they did not involve significant pre-planning.”

…Separately, Morell is accused by Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee of misleading lawmakers over the White House’s role in the so-called Benghazi talking points by stating the text was provided to the administration for their awareness, not for their input. Emails later released by the administration showed otherwise. Morell, who excised half of the talking points text, previously told Fox News that “neither the Agency, the analysts, nor I cooked the books in any way.”

When pressed on the sophistication of the mortar attack, two sources familiar with Petraeus’ statements to Congress said he also seemed to downplay the necessary planning and skill, stating the mortars could have been fired from the back of a truck with the same accuracy.

None of the five military officers contacted by Fox News said the truck explanation was plausible.

There has been so much misinformation put out by the Obama Administration about Benghazi that I really wonder what in the world is the truth and what is the reason for all the misdirection. It is amazing to me that the only person who has actually spent time in jail for the Benghazi attack is the filmmaker of the video that had nothing to do with the attack. The bad guys have been interviewed by CNN, but somehow out government can’t find them. It would be really nice if we found out what all the lying was about so that we could move on to other things.

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Phantom Spending Cuts

One of the biggest scams in Washington is something called baseline budgeting.  It is a way for Congress to claim that they are making spending cuts while increasing the amount of the federal budget. It is actually a rather clever use of the language to mislead the American public. Hopefully the public is beginning to get wise. The budget recently announced by President Obama and the way it is being reported by most of the press is an amazing example of political doublespeak.

Yesterday the Washington Examiner posted an article explaining the real numbers behind the President’s budget and the fact that in the stories in most of the media, the exact numbers are not being reported. All that is being written is that the President’s budge represents a reduction in government spending.

In a nutshell:

...in the current year, the federal government is expected to spend $3.77 trillion. With all the spending cuts being talked about, a reasonable person might assume that spending next year will be down a bit. But it’s not. In fact, the president’s budget calls for spending $3.90 trillion in 2015. That’s approximately $230 billion more than this year. It’s not a one-year aberration either. Spending increases are projected every single year for the next decade and beyond.

It’s hard to write that the president’s budget is cutting spending by $600 billion while also reporting numbers showing spending going in the opposite direction.

Sadly, Washington reporters have chosen to overcome this difficulty by leaving the real numbers out of their stories. That’s a huge problem. We can reasonably expect politicians to spin the numbers and hide the truth because that’s what they do. However, in a free society with a free press, we should be able to count on journalists to report the facts rather than the spin. Unfortunately, we can’t.

Until the average voter gets wise to this sort of journalistic spin, we can expect government spending to increase. This is a game played by both political parties and by journalists. The Washington insiders are not fighting about cutting the budget–they are fighting over who gets to spend the money. Until America elects fiscal conservatives to office, Washington will continue to drive the country into bankruptcy.

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Question Of The Day

On Monday, Fox News reported on President Obama’s interview with Bill O’Reilly:

Obama addressed concerns over Benghazi, the launch of HealthCare.gov and the IRS, during the interview Sunday before the Super Bowl. He adamantly rejected the suggestion that the IRS was used for political purposes by singling out Tea Party groups seeking tax exemption.

“That’s not what happened,” he said. Rather, he said, IRS officials were confused about how to implement the law governing those kinds of tax-exempt groups.

“There were some bone-headed decisions,” Obama conceded. 

But when asked whether corruption, or mass corruption, was at play, he responded: “Not even mass corruption — not even a smidgen of corruption.”

The question of the day (and it is not an original question) is, “if there was not a smidgen of corruption, why did Lois Lerner take the fifth rather than testify before Congress?”

Yesterday Scott Johnson at Power Line posted a letter from William Henck, a man who has worked inside the IRS Office of the General Counsel as an attorney for over 26 years. I am not going to post the letter as it is very long, but I strongly suggest that you follow the link to Power Line and read the letter. It is chilling.

Scott Johnson also posted a story at Power Line today about Cleta Mitchell, who he describes as the most dangerous woman in America. Ms. Mitchell is the Washington attorney who represents several clients victimized by the criminal misconduct of the IRS over the past four years. A video of her testimony before Congress on Thursday is included in the article. She is smart and articulate–she does represent a danger to the Obama Administration. Please watch the video to see why.

The IRS scandal is dangerous to America. It means that whichever party is in power in Washington can use the IRS to target its enemies. This is an impeachable offense, and any administration that engages in this behavior should be faced with the threat of impeachment.

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An Interesting Solution To “Inequality”

Jonah Goldberg posted an article at Townhall.com today that offers an interesting solution to the ‘inequality’ President Obama and some of the political left seem to be focused on lately. Oddly enough, the solution does not include giving more money or power to Washington.

In referring to the culture of Alaska (many of Mr. Goldberg’s wife’s family members live in Alaska, so he has spent some time there), he notes:

In my experience, Alaska stands out in another way: social equality. When I started going there regularly, I was shocked to discover how casually different economic classes intermingle. Scanning the attendees of a party or patrons of a restaurant, it’s pretty much guesswork to figure out who’s a millionaire and who’s a mechanic. Nothing like that happens in places like Washington, New York or Los Angeles, where upper and lower classes get along little better than the Morlocks and Eloi did in H.G. Wells‘ “The Time Machine.” But it does happen in lots of places — liberal and conservative — outside the Amtrak Acela corridor.

Mr. Goldberg points out a very logical solution to ‘inequality’ in America:

For practical purposes, people don’t live in the United States of America. They live in their neighborhoods, towns and communities. Yes, these are American communities, but your neighbors live in your neighborhood, not seven states over. Your kids don’t go to “U.S. schools”; they go to the school down the road.

Yet most of our money goes to the government in Washington, and so does most of the power. Why not flip that around? Want to see the rich, poor and middle class interact more? Give them a reason to show up to a city council or school board meeting. Sure, money has power at the local level, too, but so do votes.

Moreover, when rich people get their way at the local level, people usually know who they are and why they are doing things. And you can bend their ear at the supermarket or at soccer practice.

But when all the decisions are made in Washington or New York, most Americans are simply out of the loop.

And they resent it.

Having lived in New England for many years, I attended many Town Meetings where budgets, roads, zoning, and community growth were discussed. It was a way to see politics on a local level, and it was a way to be involved in the politics of your town. The taxpayers voted on the budget; the taxpayers voted on the zoning; and the taxpayers got to see their elected city officials at work. The taxpayers also had a chance to talk to their elected officials after the meeting. I don’t know if a Town Meeting would work in a larger setting, but certainly if more Americans felt that they had some sort of power, they would attend some of the various committee meetings in their cities and towns. Involving taxpayers in their local governments would be a step forward. I think Mr. Goldberg is on to something.

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Upside Down Logic At Work

On Wednesday Bill Bennett and Christopher Beach posted an article at Politico about the legalization of marijuana. The article points out the contradiction of a liberal philosophy that wants to legalize marijuana while banning large sodas, sugary foods, trans fat, smoking tobacco, etc.

The article points out:

In his recent New Yorker interview, President Obama remarked, “I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life.” But then he added, “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.” Of the legalization in Colorado and Washington—never mind the unresolved conflict between state and federal law—he said, “it’s important for it to go forward.”

Got that? The same president who signed into law a tough federal anti-cigarette smoking bill in 2009 now supports marijuana legalization.

The article concludes:

What explains this obvious paradox? Do these liberals think that marijuana is somehow less harmful than a Big Gulp soda or a bucket of fried chicken? It’s hard to believe that’s the case, given the vast amount of social data and medical science on the dangers of marijuana.

Marijuana is destructive, particularly when used by teenagers. Does the people who want to make it legal believe teenagers will not be able to get it and smoke it? That hasn’t worked real well with either cigarettes or alcohol. Most of us probably know a teenager who used pot and paid a price later on–either in his ability to learn, moving on to other drugs, or side effects from some of the things added to the marijuana. Are we willing to make this drug easier for teenagers to obtain? This sounds like a bunch of 60’s hippies who are finally in control wanting to mainstream their counterculture. This is not good for our children, and it is not good for our society.

 

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What Agenda?

The Washington Examiner posted an article today pointing out that the big three networks gave the Chris Christie bridge scandal 17 times more news coverage in one day than they gave the IRS scandal in six months. Hmmm.

The article reports:

Since Wednesday night, NBC News included six reports over 14 minutes and 14 seconds. CBS devoted five reports over 12 minutes and 27 seconds. ABC managed 4 stories over seven minutes and 47 seconds, said MRC.

As a comparison over the last six months, NBC featured five seconds on updating the IRS story. CBS responded with a minute and 41 seconds. ABC produced a meager 22 seconds.

Make no mistake, this is about taking out the person the Democrat party considers the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination. It also needs to be noted that as the polling numbers now stand, Chris Christie defeats Hillary Clinton in a Presidential campaign.

At this point I would like to state that I don’t want the Republicans to run Chris Christie for President. I think we can do better. There are other governors out there who have good track records, conservative credentials, and a lot more class than Chris Christie.

 

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