New on NewsReal – The Obama Presidency in Review, and a Preview of Hope and Change 2012

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

To nobody’s surprise, President Barack Obama has formally announced that he will seek reelection with a video that’s clearly geared toward motivating fans rather than attracting newcomers, as it’s decidedly light on reasons why the incumbent Democrat should be given four more years in the White House.

Fortunately, Newsweek White House correspondent Daniel Stone gets a bit more specific on the Daily Beast, laying out the case he expects Team Obama to make. Let’s take a look at his points, as well as the flip side.

Last week’s economic report showed an unemployment rate continuing to fall—incredibly slowly. It’s not good enough, but it still is progress, Obama will say. Defending the actions the administration took—especially the $987 billion Recovery Act—will fall to Joe “the stimulus sheriff” Biden, who will be fortified by a team of crack researchers preparing colorful graphs showing lines with positive slopes. Obama the president had trouble arguing the hypothetical that “we’d be worse off if I did nothing,” but Obama the candidate might have better luck. Any Republican will publicly doubt him, but would only be able to offer the same hypothetical that he or she would have done any better.

On the other hand, Obama’s going to have to explain the fact that he explicitly claimed his stimulus plan was needed because it would prevent unemployment rising to 8%, we passed it…and unemployment rose past 8% anyway. He’ll have to answer for record job losses. And while the latest economic news is encouraging, it’s tentative—labor force participation is still low, and Obama is unlikely to support one policy that could accelerate recovery further still:

The United States has stood alone while the rest of the developed world has moved forward with a pro-growth strategy of slashing corporate tax rates. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reports that its 30-nation membership cut corporate tax rates an average of 7.1 percentage points in the past decade, and the United States will have a federal corporate tax rate one-third higher than the OECD average of 25.7 percent.[2] When Japan’s corporate tax rate is lowered, the United States is one of three nations that will not have reduced the rate.

Corporate taxes are considered the most inefficient of all tax systems. They increase the cost of capital and slow economic growth. Nearly every economist believes that that tax burden falls on individuals, namely the workers and shareholders of the company. A more efficient corporate tax system would increase economic growth and boost the labor market.[3]

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

New on NewsReal – Hannity Calls Out "Partisan Hack" Weiner for Bush-Bashing Defense of Obamanomics

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

You want a surefire way to cause a cable news stir? Just pit old foes like Sean Hannity and Rep. Anthony Weiner against each other, throw in Rep. Michele Bachmann for good measure, and voila! The battle gets picked up by everyone from Mediaite and The Blaze to News Hounds and the Huffington Post.

Last night’s topic of debate was the United States’ current financial mess:

HANNITY: All right, Congressman, here’s why we are in this position. This is just a fact. You had both Houses of Congress last year — run by the Democrats. You had White House. You guys didn’t pass a budget. It is your responsibility. You should have passed the budget. You didn’t pass a budget. Now we find ourselves at this impasse.

All the Democrats are offering — it’s $4.5 billion in cuts. We have a $1.65 trillion deficit this year, after nearly three trillion of Obama debt in his first two years. And we also have, you know, $3.7 trillion budget.

You can’t find more than $4.5 billion to cut?

WEINER: Well, frankly, let’s get the history right. The Bush administration drove the economy into a cliff and we’ve been digging out ever since.

HANNITY: Blah, blah, blah.

(CROSSTALK)

WEINER: Well, let me answer the question. It’s true we also did add a trillion dollars of additional debt and deficit by giving tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires — something many of us opposed. But the fact is, if you look at the president’s budget –

Once again, Bush Derangement Syndrome rears its ugly head. We’re in Barack Obama’s third year as president; it’s remarkable that Democrats still don’t feel embarrassed to lay the blame for all of America’s woes, including the Obama job losses, at the feet of his predecessor. If you still think Obama has little to do with all the red ink we’re drowning in, check out this post at Maggie’s Notebook, which highlights a couple unnerving analyses of Obama’s fiscal policies. They point out that Obama’s gotten credit for the repayment of TARP loans that should go to Bush, and that “the latest Obama budget is his third straight budget calling for over a $1 trillion in spending – which no other president has ever done, and in fact no president has even asked for half that. And get this: Anderson says Obama’s three year spending binge is 37% higher than G.W.’s ENTIRE 8-YEAR PRESIDENCY.” (I’ve tackled Obama’s drunken-sailor ways before here.)

Read the rest at NewsRealBlog. 

New on NewsReal – Paul Begala Accuses Republicans of Hypocrisy to Distract You from Obamanomics

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Former Clinton flunky Paul Begala thinks he’s discovered a novel comeback to spending cutters, but all his latest Daily Beast column really does is show how little the Democrats take fiscal discipline seriously. Begala applies a variant of the old “conservatives want to cut everything except what benefits them” routine to Tea Party favorite Rand Paul and his fellow Kentucky Republicans:

Kentucky has given us Makers Mark bourbon, Churchill Downs, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Kentucky has also given us Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, tea party favorite Sen. Rand Paul and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers. While Rogers was once dubbed the “Prince of Pork” and McConnell has hauled so much pork he’s at risk for trichinosis, they are now converts to Sen. Paul’s anti-government gospel.  McConnell says President Obama’s new budget is “unserious” and “irresponsible” because it merely cuts projected deficits by $1.1 trillion.  “The people who voted for a new direction in November have a five-word response,” McConnell said, “We don’t have the money.”

Yes, Paul. Republicans, like most politicians, often don’t practice what they preach. And your point is what, exactly? Mitch McConnell spends like a drunken sailor; therefore Tea Partiers shouldn’t be taken seriously? Nope, that doesn’t compute, since “Tea Party” and “Republican” aren’t synonymous to begin with—the Tea Party, after all, is a informal shared banner under which many Americans have united, not an organized political party with the power to enforce uniform standards on politicians; in fact, Tea Partiers and Capitol Hill Republicans clash on this very issue.

Hal Rogers was the Prince of Pork; therefore the national debt isn’t out of control? Have you taken a look at it lately? Even to a corporate fatcat shilling, war-profiteer loving right-wing monster like me, fourteen trillion dollars sounds like a lot of money.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

New on NewsReal – "Archie" Brings Obama and Palin Together, Does More Uniting Than the Real Uniter We Elected

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Considering how often left-wing propaganda infiltrates our popular culture, it’s only fair that we acknowledge entertainment media that opts to remain above the fray. You may have heard about one such example: the current Archie story arc in which the comic-book world’s most beloved teenagers cross paths with Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. ComicsAlliance has a new preview of the latest issue’s first five pages, which cast the political powerhouses in some of the least partisan light they’ve ever been under.

The story so far: Archie and Reggie are competing for student council, and their respective supporters decide some star power is in order to boost their chances. Veronica arranges for Archie to be photographed with the visiting President of the United States, while Trula gets a snapshot of Reggie with the former Governor of Alaska. Unfortunately, neither politician knows he/she’s being used as an endorsement…

It’s possible that the final issue might contain subtle jabs at their guest stars, but the previewed pages suggest we’re in for a lighthearted tale that genuinely portrays Obama and Palin as spirited, good-natured patriots. Indeed, this playful imagery seems to be about as confrontational as things get:

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

The Democrats Hate Democracy

Exhibit A, courtesy of Charles Krauthammer:

A month ago, Medicare issued a regulation providing for end-of-life counseling during annual “wellness” visits. It was all nicely buried amid the simultaneous release of hundreds of new Medicare rules.


Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D.,Ore.), author of Section 1233, was delighted. “Mr. Blumenauer’s office celebrated ‘a quiet victory,’ but urged supporters not to crow about it,” reports the New York Times. Deathly quiet. In early November, his office sent an e-mail plea to supporters: “We would ask that you not broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists . . . e-mails can too easily be forwarded.” They had been lucky that “thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it. . . . The longer this regulation goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it.”

So much for Democratic transparency — and for their repeated claim that the more people learn what is in the health-care law, the more they will like it. Turns out ignorance is the Democrats’ best hope.
And regulation is their perfect vehicle — so much quieter than legislation. Consider two other regulatory usurpations in just the last few days.
On December 23, the Interior Department issued Secretarial Order 3310, reversing a 2003 decision and giving itself the authority to designate public lands as “Wild Lands.” A clever twofer: (1) a bureaucratic power-grab — for seven years up through December 22, wilderness-designation had been the exclusive province of Congress, and (2) a leftward lurch — more land to be “protected” from such nefarious uses as domestic-oil exploration in a country disastrously dependent on foreign sources.
The very same day, the president’s Environmental Protection Agency declared that in 2011 it would begin drawing up anti-carbon regulations on oil refineries and power plants, another power grab effectively enacting what Congress had firmly rejected when presented as cap-and-trade legislation.

For an Obama bureaucrat, however, the will of Congress is a mere speed bump. Hence this regulatory trifecta, each one moving smartly left — and nicely clarifying what the spirit of bipartisan compromise that President Obama heralded in his post-lame-duck December 22 news conference was really about: a shift to the center for public consumption and political appearance only.

Read the rest. It’s an outrage that this country has gotten to a point where unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats can make de facto laws outside of the legislative process, contrary to the will of the people, and that a political party called Democratic of all names relies upon this sleazy, un-American, anti-democratic process to implement its agenda. Let’s hope the incoming Congress has at least a few Republicans who have the spine to call this out as the disgrace it is.

New on NewsReal – Yet Another Reason ObamaCare Is Even Worse Than You Think

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

I don’t think this is quite what outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted the American people thinking about when she said we needed to pass ObamaCare to “find out what’s in it,” but a new Daily Beast column by Shikha Dalmia of the Reason Foundation is a perfect example of why that statement rightfully scared people half to death. Dalmia takes a look at aspects of the “reform” that haven’t gotten much attention thus far, but threaten to transform American healthcare into “one big entrapment scheme”:

[I]n an effort to offset [the “doc fix’s”] $20 billion price tag, it has included a little twist to squeeze working families called “exchange recapture subsidy.” Under this provision, the government will go after low-wage families to return any excess subsidies they get under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

When the government hands out subsidies, it will use a household’s income in the previous year as the basis for guessing what the household is qualified to get in the current year. But if the household’s income grows midyear, the subsidy recapture provision will require it to repay anywhere from $600 to $3,500, compared to the $450 that the law originally called for.

This will make it very hazardous for poor working families to get ahead. In the original law, the loss of subsidy with rising income already meant absurdly high effective marginal tax rates—the implicit tax on every additional dollar of income earned. How high? The Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon puts them at 229 percent for families of four who increase their earnings by an amount equal to 5 percent of the federal poverty level or $1,100. In other words, a family that added this amount to an income of $44,700 would actually see its total income fall by $1,419 due to the loss of subsidies.

The subsidy recapture provision—essentially a tax collection scheme—means that low-wage, cash-strapped families will have no escape from these perverse tax rates. Many of them will find themselves owing the government thousands of dollars in back taxes. Since it is unlikely that they will have this kind of money sitting around, they will face a massive incentive to either fudge their returns or work for cash to avoid reporting additional income. Either way, Uncle Sam will come after them, just as it does with recipients of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the negative income tax scheme that is the inspiration behind Obamacare’s subsidies. In 2004, EITC recipients were 1.76 times more likely to be audited than others, no doubt because it is easier for the government to recover unpaid taxes from poor people than “lawyered up” rich people.

Read the rest at NewsRealBlog.

New on NewsReal – Celebs Butting Into Politics: Jon Voight Isn’t the Problem

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

They may be outnumbered by their leftist counterparts, but Hollywood does have its share of conservatives. Among the most vocal and unapologetic is Jon Voight, who appeared on last night’s “Hannity” (guest-hosted by the incomparable Mark Steyn to discuss President Barack Obama’s deadly ineptness on nuclear proliferation, as characterized by the White House’s precious START Treaty:

VOIGHT: I hear Obama trying to convince the American people that if we give up our nuclear weapons, this will set a fine example and all other countries will follow suit. What a dangerous and naive notion that is. If President Reagan wasn’t such a powerful force of strength, we never would have seen Premier Gorbachev take down the Berlin Wall […] every American citizen should be up in arms and calling their senators to reject this Obama’s START Treaty. It’s, you know, without our nuclear might, we would be subject to becoming a weak nation and what would follow would be much more severe than what we are currently going through with 9.6 unemployment, add that to the idea that our allies are very concerned about their safety and they are warning us not to reduce our nuclear power because their very protection is dependent on our strength.

At Mediaite, Mark Joyella is perplexed that Fox News would bring in a mere actor to discuss foreign affairs


Read the rest at NewsRealBlog.

New on NewsReal – How ObamaCare and Its Apologists Make a Mockery of the Constitution

My latest NewsRealBlog post:
As a victory for constitutional originalism and a major blow to Barack Obama’s agenda, Judge Henry Hudson’s ruling against ObamaCare’s individual mandate has many conservatives cheering. But is it too soon to break out the champagne glasses? UC Boulder law professor Paul Campos thinks so. At the Daily Beast, he says that the Left may yet have the last laugh:

Judge Hudson’s decision, by ruling the individual mandate unconstitutional but leaving the rest of the Affordable Care Act intact, would, if it were to stand up on appeal, essentially be a death sentence for the private medical insurance industry in America.

After all, under the remaining provisions of the ACA, insurance companies would still be legally required to enroll applicants despite whatever pre-existing conditions the applicants might have—but they would no longer benefit from the crucial legislative quid pro quo that anyone who did not purchase insurance would be subject to a penalty in the form of a tax.

Perhaps (though it’s unclear how big the difference will be, since many will buy health insurance regardless of whether the law says they must). But that’s the thing about conservatives: we don’t assume that the courts will resolve all our political goals for us. Instead, we’re holding our lawmakers’ feet to the fire to see ObamaCare repealed legislatively. Likewise, if the individual mandate is unconstitutional, it’s unconstitutional. If an act of Congress can’t operate without a provision the Constitution doesn’t allow, that’s an argument against the act, not for the provision.

Of course it’s always possible that the Supreme Court would strike down the ACA as a whole. But given that even many of the biggest opponents of the law concede that its other provisions are constitutional, this seems extremely unlikely.

“Many” ObamaCare critics concede the constitutionality of the rest of the law? Name one.

Read the rest at NewsRealBlog.

Around the Web

Is WikiLeaks an agent of liberty? No way, says Janet Daley.

Another powerhouse from my NRB colleague, Megan Fox: 28 Revolting Quotes That Define the Pro-Abortion Left.

The Other McCain has the scoop on a lefty academic and commentator who’s been charged with carrying on a sexual relationship with his own daughter.

Check out this priceless takedown of Andrew Sullivan’s never-ending dishonesty.

Doug Powers slaps down Bernie Sanders’ class-warfare demagoguery.

Has the Republican Party learned nothing? (That’s a rhetorical question, by the way).

Investors’ Business Daily has more on the not-so-dreamy effects of ObamaCare on the medical profession.

And in Iran, Stuxnet, the world’s early Christmas gift, keeps on giving.

Kurtz on Why "Speech Policeman" Frum Should Turn In His Badge (Updated)

At National Review, Stanley Kurtz, author of the acclaimed new Obama expose Radical-in-Chief, has a great article taking David Frum to task for his war against those who use harsh rhetoric Frum wants to place out of bounds. He explains that Frum’s idea of “reckless demonization” actually includes reasonable, substantive arguments:

What exactly do Galston and Frum mean when they say they intend to “call out” those who use labels like “racist” and “socialist” in public debate? I think I can answer that question, since a series of attacks engineered by Frum on my then-unpublished book, Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism, appears to have been a dress rehearsal of sorts for the operation of No Labels.


On July 27, 2010, I announced the forthcoming publication of my book at National Review Online’s blog, the Corner. The announcement made it clear that my book was the result of more than two years of empirical and historical research into Barack Obama’s political past, and would marshal “a wide array of never-before-seen evidence to establish that the president of the United States is indeed a socialist.” Frum, however, didn’t wait to consider my evidence or argument, or even bother to read my book. Instead, he invited a self-described Democratic activist who writes under the pseudonym “Eugene Victor Debs” to attack the very idea of my book — before either had read it.


I would probably not have responded to an anonymous attack on an unpublished book were it not for the fact that I knew and respected Frum, who warned me in advance that Debs’s piece was coming and invited me to respond. I did reply to Debs, after which, to my surprise, the attacks kept coming, both from Debs and from Frum himself . In my responses to Frum and Debs, I finally began to speak more frankly about my dismay and puzzlement at their persistent attacks on a raft of new evidence that I had not yet even had a chance to present to the public. Oddly, since the actual publication of Radical-in-Chief, there has been not a word about the book from either Frum or Debs.


He also explains how Frum’s mission will likely have the opposite of the affect Frum claims to want:

All Galston and Frum have done is to make explicit — and reinforce — the mainstream press’s existing determination to ignore and silence critics of Obama’s radicalism. Once No Labels gets going, public resentment at these silencing techniques is bound to increase. Contrary to Galston and Frum, the way to reduce polarization is not to suppress disagreement but to invite reasoned debate on the issues that actually divide us. Since a substantial portion of the public views the president as a covert radical, let the topic be debated in the widest and most respectable forums. If the president’s accusers offer mere bluster, or his defenders are living in denial, we shall see it all then. A true public debate on this issue in the pages of the mainstream press would rivet the public’s attention and immediately raise the level of discussion. By further suppressing this debate, on the other hand, Galston and Frum promote distrust and enmity between Left and Right.


None of this is particularly mysterious — or at least it ought not to be to those who have learned from the classical liberal approach to democratic debate recommended by John Stuart Mill in On Liberty. Mill discourages the creation of implicit or explicit rules banning any substantive claim in public debate, calling on us instead to judge a given argument according to the quality of its reasoning and the degree to which it fairly represents and successfully parries opposing points of view […]


It is not the job of those who cherish liberty of thought and discussion to ban claims of Obama’s socialism or of Tea Party racism, but to subject all of these assertions to the scrutiny of serious debate. While many or most accusations of Tea Party racism are baseless, legitimate complaints are possible and cannot be ruled out in advance. If Tea Party critics have serious evidence of racism, let them present it. If their evidence is tissue-paper thin (as most of it has been), that weakness can be (and has been) exposed.

It’s a great read. Needless to say, I agree with Kurtz 100%, and have little patience for Frum-style civility crap. It’s worth noting one additional thing, though – Frum doesn’t actually believe in his professed mission. If he did, he wouldn’t have developed a record as one of the most vicious, dishonest character assassins around.

UPDATE: My NewsReal colleague Mark Meed has more sharp analysis of this “No Labels” nonsense, including Frum’s selective reading of surveys to reach his preferred picture of what the American people want.