Conservative Political Commentary

[Under the Radar?] Anti-socialist, anti-communist, anti-globalist, pro-Constitution, and usually with an attempt at historical and economic context (This blog was given its name before I decided it was going to be a political blog.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

“Pledge to America” Looks Like a Winner

House GOP Leader John Boehner
According to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the “Pledge to America,” unveiled September 23, 2010 by House Republican Leader John Boehner and other GOP Congressional leaders, is a non-exhaustive list of items that represent the first things that should be done if the GOP gains a majority in Congress. As he points out, the whole conservative agenda could not be accomplished while Barack Obama is president, but many things could be done.

I see the “Pledge to America” as a strong positive statement that GOP members of Congress should be evaluated by, and to which its supporters must be held accountable. For all the possible criticisms of it, it represents something far, far superior to the Obama agenda, and, if adhered to faithfully, it should save our country from a lot of misery and loss, and correct some glaring problems.

The document represents a governing philosophy that is very much different from that of the current Administration. It honors the words of the founding documents, and recognizes such common-sense things as the need to control spending and to stop tax increases.

From a draft of the document, found here, I have quoted from it (in bold) and made some comments (not in bold).

America is an inspiration to those who yearn to be free and have the ability and the dignity to determine their own destiny.

Whenever the agenda of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to institute a new governing agenda and set a different course.

These first principles were proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, enshrined in the Constitution, and have endured through hard sacrifice and commitment by generations of Americans.

In a self-governing society, the only bulwark against the power of the state is the consent of the governed, and regarding the policies of the current government, the governed do not consent.

It should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention that the current regime is consciously ruling contrary to the wishes of the American people in many policies, notably proposed tax increases and Obamacare, as well as a foreign policy that disrespects America’s past and panders to dictatorial regimes that wish us no good.

An arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites makes decisions, issues mandates, and enacts laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many….

The need for urgent action to repair our economy and reclaim our government for the people cannot be overstated.

The situation is serious and getting worse daily. The so-called recovery has led to very little economic growth or job growth, and a second dip appears probable. Meanwhile, our Federal government is aggressively pursuing European-style socialist policies that will result in permanent double-digit unemployment and a poorer, weaker nation. However, the ruling elites will fit in better with their international counterparts.

A plan to create jobs, end economic uncertainty, and make America more competitive must be the first and most urgent domestic priority of our government. So first, we offer a plan to get people working again. We will end the attack on free enterprise by repealing job-killing policies and taking steps to assure current businesses and future entrepreneurs that the government will not stifle their ability to compete in the global marketplace.

By permanently stopping job-killing tax hikes, families will be able to keep more of their hard-earned money and small businesses will have the stability they need to invest in our economy and help grow our workforce. We will further encourage small businesses to create jobs by allowing them to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income.

Americans view the economic issues as most urgent. The GOP could do a lot to get government out of the way and let the markets solve the problem. At any rate, the government must promote private sector economic activity. The Keynesian approach of recent years has grown government, deficits and debt on a massive scale, but that’s about all. Even that phony growth is bound for collapse unless fundamental changes are made.

We offer a plan to repeal and replace the government takeover of health care with common-sense solutions focused on lowering costs and protecting American jobs. We will enact real medical liability reform; allow Americans to purchase health coverage across state lines; empower small businesses with greater purchasing power; and create new incentives to save for future health needs. We will protect the doctor-patient relationship, and ensure that those with pre-existing conditions gain access to the coverage they need. We will permanently end taxpayer funding of abortion and codify the Hyde Amendment.

The GOP could do a lot, if in the majority, to repeal or at least de-fund the hated Obamacare program. The steps listed for replacing it are meritorious, but even doing nothing would have been better than Obamacare. While the document is not strong on details about social issues, it certainly represents a strong step in the right direction from the anti-life positions of Obama and company.

Why the Pledge Is Important
The “Pledge to America” stakes out positions and principles showing great contrast with the Obama agenda. This includes the idea of self-government as opposed to central planning. It promotes the responsibility of Congress, as the people’s representatives, to act as needed without having legislative powers usurped by the president and executive agencies.

Just these changes of philosophy -- limited government, more freedom, and low taxes, are light years from Obama’s ultimate design.

Some Responses
Michelle Malkin offered her thoughts on the “Pledge” on Fox News:

Politico reports:
In confronting Obama, Republicans make clear that a takeover of the House could lead to a contentious two years, and possibly gridlock, if both sides aren’t willing to compromise. Most of the ideas have little chance of becoming law in a divided government, but the “Pledge to America” is aimed at defining an agenda for a party that has been accused of not having one in the Obama era. [1]
Divided government is very likely, but that would be immensely preferable to an authoritarian president supported by a rubber-stamp Congress that's even more radical than himself, if that's possible. Too bad we didn't have enough gridlock to prevent Obamacare and other unread thousand-plus-page bills from being passed.

 The editors of National Review see the “Pledge” as a favorable development:

…The inevitable question will be: Is the pledge as bold as the Contract?
The answer is: The pledge is bolder. The Contract with America merely promised to hold votes on popular bills that had been bottled up during decades of Democratic control of the House. The pledge commits Republicans to working toward a broad conservative agenda that, if implemented, would make the federal government significantly smaller, Congress more accountable, and America more prosperous…. [2]
Eric Erickson of RedState ridicules the document as something that will very soon be forgotten by the GOP and everyone else.

There is no call for a Spending Limitation Amendment or a Balanced Budget Amendment. It is just meaningless stuff the Democrats can easily undo and that ultimately the Senate GOP will even turn its nose up at.
The entirety of this Promise is laughable. Why? It is an illusion that fixates on stuff the GOP already should be doing while not daring to touch on stuff that will have any meaningful longterm effects on the size and scope of the federal government. [3]
For me, the issue is not the document so much as the GOP maintaining a commitment to its content. Paul Ryan says there is specific legislation relating to the stated positions. The Pledge recognizes that Republicans have often failed to limit government and spending while they were in power.

It’s true that some enacted or became what they had campaigned against. That would demonstrate a problem with integrity, not with their stated goals. The dizzying cocktail-party circuit of the Beltway is said to pull people in, who then compromise their principles in order to gain popularity and maintain social standing. That represents human weakness, not weakness of the principles that had been claimed, then abandoned.

If the GOP would like to actually stay in power once they have gained it, they need to embrace their inner conservative and get on board with the Tea Party. Act boldly to fundamentally change the government’s attitude and the abuses in the way Congress operates. Place principle above self-promotion. Have more respect for the founding documents than for the New York Times’ latest comments.

Otherwise, after a short while in power, there’ll be another fascist-socialist-Marxist like Obama who will get his own party in power. The thing about liberals is that they never quit. They’re always there, ready to challenge. They must be held in check for the good of the country. With liberals in power, there will be no end of excessive spending until the currency is worthless, and no end to finding more “rights” and “victims” that taxpayers must support against their will.

But for now the “Pledge” appears to me to be a positive, timely, and possibly brilliant idea from the unfairly-maligned Republican Party. I hope it leads to a lot of success. Republicans need to regain power soon because our country is headed in exactly the wrong direction in too many ways. Democrats don’t have and won’t get the answers.

[1] Richard E. Cohen, Jake Sherman, and Jonathan Allen, “‘Pledge to America’ promises fight, gridlock” 09/23/2010, Politico.

[2] The Editors, “We’ll Take the Pledge,” 09/22/2010, National Review Online.

[3] Eric Erickson, “Perhaps the Most Ridiculous Thing to Come Out of Washington Since George McClellan,” 09/22/2010,

Photo: House Republican Leader John Boehner, official portrait, via Wikipedia.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Some Comments on President Obama’s Cleveland Speech on the Economy

In this article, I am commenting on some of the things President Barack Obama said in his September 8, 2010 speech in Cleveland, Ohio (more precisely, Parma, Ohio). Lest his remarks be taken uncritically, I have tried to provide some counterpoint. The President’s statements are in bold and everything else is not in bold. [1]

Instead of coming together like past generations did to build a better country for our children and grandchildren, their argument is that we should let insurance companies go back to denying care for folks who are sick, or let credit card companies go back to raising rates without any reason.  Instead of setting our sights higher, they’re asking us to settle for a status quo of stagnant growth and eroding competitiveness and a shrinking middle class.

The argument is that we should not have socialized medicine, and while the insurance industry regulations need to be revisited, it was not necessary, and it is an unwise policy to replace the entire health care structure. Most Americans agree with this. Obama’s and liberals’ answer to everything is more government control and/or more government spending. I haven’t heard any conservatives “asking us to settle for a status quo of stagnant growth and eroding competitiveness and a shrinking middle class.” Those are precisely the things Obamanomics are bringing us through higher taxes, over-regulation, bailouts and government takeovers. If government would simply get out of the way, a free market would very soon restore prosperity.

“Past generations” felt compelled to support the big government policies of FDR during the Great Depression, which vastly expanded government size and power, and contributed to worsening and prolonging the Depression. (See my previous article here.)

With all the other budgetary pressures we have – with all the Republicans’ talk about wanting to shrink the deficit – they would have us borrow $700 billion over the next 10 years to give a tax cut of about $100,000 each to folks who are already millionaires.  And keep in mind wealthy Americans are just about the only folks who saw their incomes rise when Republicans were in charge.  And these are the folks who are less likely to spend the money – which is why economists don’t think tax breaks for the wealthy would do much to boost the economy.

“Economists” in that last sentence must refer to Keynesian economists who think the only solution to our economic problems involve massive government spending. Obama shows his narrow outlook on this situation when he says the wealthy are “less likely to spend the money.” If they did receive a continuation of the Bush tax cuts, they would be very likely to spend the money on business investment that would create jobs.

How they can still get people to believe the following myths is somewhat surprising:

Myth #1: The Bush tax cuts decreased, and continuation of them would decrease revenues to the government. Not so. Check tax cuts back to JFK, Reagan, and Bush, and you will find that revenues to the government increased under these tax cuts. Revenues would increase again if all the Bush tax cuts were extended. Boehner’s suggestion of extending all the Bush tax cuts for two years, and rolling back spending to 2008 levels, would produce a substantial improvement quickly. If businesses knew their tax rates were frozen for two years, they would feel free to expand and hire.

Myth #2: Increasing taxes on the wealthy does not harm others in society. Not so. Increasing taxes on the wealthy equals increasing taxes on those who are in a position to provide jobs, if the economy encouraged it. Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show clearly that this isn’t happening now. Obama’s argument appeals mainly to class envy.

This isn’t to punish folks who are better off –- God bless them.  It’s because we can’t afford the $700 billion price tag... And for those who claim that our approach would somehow be bad for growth and bad for small businesses, let me remind you that with those tax rates in place, under President Clinton, this country created 22 million jobs and raised incomes and had the largest surplus in our history.

Jobs were created and the surpluses happened after Republicans gained control of Congress in 1994. Clinton and Gore got on board with this reality, announcing that “the era of big government is over,” something that Obama would never do. For him, the era of big government is just beginning. And, punishing some of the wealthy by redistributing some of their wealth would please Obama.

As Jake Tapper of ABC News reported,
The president defined the Republican economic philosophy as, “Cut taxes, especially for millionaires and billionaires.  Cut regulations for special interests.  Cut trade deals even if they didn’t benefit our workers.  Cut back on investments in our people and our future.” [2]
“Millionaires, billionaires, and special interests” means employers, whose wealth and income Obama wants to redistribute. Of course, here, as elsewhere, when Obama says “investment,” he means “government spending.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in a statement pushed back against Mr. Obama’s speech.
“If the President wanted to have an immediate impact on hiring, he could begin by changing his mind and announcing today his opposition to the job-killing tax hikes on small businesses,” McConnell said, “ America’s job creators have already been hit with higher health care costs and related taxes, new bureaucracy and a financial regulation bill. Americans want jobs, not more government, more debt and more taxes. Let’s start today with a declarative statement against tax hikes on the small businesses that are critical to expand and create jobs.” [3]
And, Obama would have us believe that it’s somehow John Boehner’s fault that our economy is in such dreadful condition.

The President derided House Minority Leader John Boehner as representing simply saying “no” to Obama’s policies without proposing any positive steps to helping the economy. Not true, of course, but the “no” aspect is valuable too. As one of Jake Tapper’s commenters said,
No is a pretty sound position when the nation is careening off a cliff in massive debt.
America is on a path to bankruptcy. This is no longer news and no longer debatable. What remains in question is, what are we going to do about it? [4]
Interestingly, The Hill is reporting today (09/08/2010) that momentum is building for extending all the Bush tax cuts, since the President avoided a direct veto threat, and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) expressed support for extending them:
Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), a centrist who has been a key vote on several Obama administration initiatives, said Thursday that he supports extending all of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts until the economic recovery has taken root. Raising taxes on wealthier taxpayers could hurt the economy, he said…. 
Tax policy experts expect Congress to approve an extension of all of the Bush-era rates in a lame-duck session after the elections. [5]
This could make Obama’s argument a moot point, which would be good news. Also, that's the only good argument I've heard for having a lame-duck session. The Democrats are trying to figure out something to help the economy before the elections (such as announcing this?), and they know that Obama’s policies aren't working.

The past several months have helped many Americans gain perspective on Obama’s policies. People who previously had little desire to follow day-to-day politics now find that they must pay closer attention, because these things hit them in the pocket book, lessen their freedom, and weaken the nation. After Election Day, it appears that Obama’s party will be less powerful in Congress.

[1] Items in bold are from “Remarks by the President on the Economy in Parma, Ohio,” 09/08/2010,

[2] Jake Tapper, “Still Fear vs. Hope? Obama Attacks John Boehner, GOP’s Economic Vision,” 09/08/2010, ABC News, Political Punch.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Commenter “Skip” at Tapper article 09/08/2010. See [2].

[5] Vicki Needham and Ian Swanson, “Momentum builds for extending all of President Bush’s tax cuts,” 09/09/10, The Hill, On the Money blog.

Photo: Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, official portrait, via Wikipedia.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Obama Blames Bush and Whines about the Economy, or Happy Labor Day to the Unemployed

Now President Barack Obama wants approval for a $50 billion “jobs bill,” that Republican leaders rightly point out would have little effect other than increasing US indebtedness when spending is already out of control. No new jobs would be brought about until next year perhaps, and the bill is hardly worth its price tag.

And Obama has turned up the volume, for campaign season, on his “Blame Bush” strategy, which by now is wearing quite thin. Obama, during his presidential campaign seemed to be confident about having all the answers, but since his economic policies have been a big failure thus far, he has to blame Bush, propose more stimulus, and do more whining.

An AP article reporting on Obama’s newest stimulus proposal includes the following about Obama’s statements to a “cheering crowd at a labor gathering” in Milwaukee:
Casual in brown slacks and open-collar white shirt with rolled-up sleeves, Obama took a populist tack in his speech, mixing attacks on Republicans with praise for working-class and middle-class Americans.
He said he'd “keep fighting, every single day, every single hour, every single minute to turn this economy around.” He said interest groups he has battled “talk about me like a dog.” [1]
I’m not sure if he meant that even during vacation times he’d keep “fighting.” Or when he could spare some time from whining about groups that “talk about me like a dog,” he’d “fight.” He did say every single day, hour, and minute. That doesn’t leave much time for other things. Such inspirational rhetoric from the Chief.

He talks about helping the middle class at the same time he is destroying the middle class. And young people trying to enter the job market are probably rethinking their devotion to the Messiah’s “hope and change” promises. There have been changes, but not what was hoped for. There are 14.9 million people still unemployed, and another 8.9 million underemployed [2], and still more who have given up looking for work, but Obama hails the “positive news” of 54,000 private sector jobs created.

Oh, and by the way, Obama wants to exempt companies from paying Social Security taxes on newly-hired people that were unemployed. And, he wants to continue R&D tax benefits. In the context of the employment and tax picture as seen by employers, these things are not enough to encourage hiring to any significant degree.

Further, the AP article reports as follows:
He also acknowledged that the past eight months of modest private-sector job growth hasn't been enough to bring down the unemployment rate. He said economic problems facing families today are “more serious than ever,” and seemed to ask the audience in Milwaukee — and voters nationwide — for patience.
“Now here's the honest truth, the plain truth. There's no silver bullet, there's no quick fix to these problems,” he said, adding that it will take time to “reverse the damage of a decade worth of policies” that caused the recession. [3]
He’s right about the problems getting worse under his administration. And his policies certainly can’t and won’t improve things much. He is wrong about “‘a decade worth of policies’ that caused the recession,” if he means something other than the real estate bubble and the misbehavior of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, resulting from actions and inaction of the Democrats and the Fed, and Bush’s ill-advised last-minute acceptance of (Democrat) Paulson’s demand for a $700 billion bail-out blank check.

Obama’s beloved health care bill ensures that there won’t be fiscal sanity for the foreseeable future, and his promotion of the cap and trade bill proves he doesn’t care. Obamacare and the impending EPA regulations on CO-2, plus the end of the Bush tax cuts, the double-dip, and the worsening of real-estate troubles, virtually guarantee that banks and businesses will keep holding on to their cash for some time. Economists who say the economy will improve around 2014 may be counting on Obama being out of office by then. If Republicans gain control of Congress this year and de-fund Obama’s main initiatives and overturn his regulations, and extend the Bush tax cuts, things could get better much sooner.

Meanwhile, the President stays in campaign mode, though his message now is far less appealing to his election supporters than in 2008. But he can campaign. He just isn’t good at governing.

[1] Darlene Superville, Associated Press, “Obama assails GOP, promotes new jobs program,” 09/06/2010. Yahoo! News.

[2] Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The Employment Situation -- August 2010,” 09/03/2010.

[3] Superville, see [1].

Photo: Vintage 1956 postage stamp with Labor Day theme (

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Obama vs. Arizona at the UN

President Barack Obama’s continuing efforts to favorably impress the thug dictators of the United Nations recently included a report (found here) to the UN Human Rights Council as part of their Universal Periodic Review.

In a display of Obama’s sizeable ego, the report took credit for vast improvements that have not happened yet, and probably never will, such as the benefits of the Obamacare law.

The President, who seemingly never tires of criticizing America before her enemies, gave Arizona an unfavorable mention as a human rights problem (which it isn’t), and, not to worry, his administration has taken legal action against the disliked law, and a federal judge has issued an injunction against parts of it.

Perhaps he wished to embarrass the state of Arizona into making changes, but he has only succeeded in embarrassing himself, and, by extension, the United States. America has found Obama to be an embarrassment on numerous occasions, this being merely one of the latest.

The very mention of Arizona’s recently-passed immigration law is an act undermining not only the sovereignty of Arizona, but that of America. The logical end of this action would be UN observers in Arizona making sure no one’s rights are violated. That would sit well with some of Obama’s fascist and communist friends.

Governor Jan Brewer, who has courageously stood up for protecting Arizona from illegal aliens, including drug runners, people smugglers, and murderers, which Obama has resolutely refused to do, reacted in a proper and predictable way:
Brewer's office … says the law's mere inclusion is “downright offensive” because “human rights, as guaranteed by the United States and Arizona Constitutions, are expressly protected in SB 1070.” [1]
As Ben Johnson at Western Journalism reports:
On Obama’s command, Attorney General Eric Holder has sued the State of Arizona for passing a law that he criticized without reading, and which merely upholds federal law. (He gave sanctuary cities a pass.) He now threatens an additional lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio for “racial profiling” when arresting illegal immigrants near the Mexican border. [2]
Johnson goes on to state that Obama has hauled not only Arizona, but also the two-thirds of the American people who support Arizona’s law, before the UN. [3]

Thus we have an act of poor representation and poor leadership of America and the state of Arizona. A President should not criticize internal laws before foreign officials. Period. Was it done for favor with repressive regimes of the world? For political gain with the socialist-Marxist base? Or perhaps mainly to feed his desire for personal admiration?

Brett Schaefer at the Heritage Foundation points out that the 25-page report mentions President Obama over 20 times, and that the report is used for political purposes. [4]

[A]s discussed in a recent Heritage paper, the larger problem isn’t what is in the report; it is why we are participating in this farce in the first place. The Bush Administration rightly distanced the U.S. from the HRC and withheld the U.S. share of funding from it. When President Obama decided to support and engage the council, he extended America’s credibility to a fatally flawed body. He also made it inevitable that the U.S. would participate in the dog-and-pony UPR show that it has proven to be—a process little more than a “mutual praise society” for repressive regimes. [5]
The U.S. would do well to avoid this kind of interaction with this kind of body. There is nothing to be gained by it, and a good deal to be lost. Maybe we can get John Bolton back in a few years.

[1] Ginger Rough, Casey Newton, Mary Jo Pitzl and Alia Beard Rau, “Jan Brewer takes issue with report on immigration law,” Political Insider column, 08/29/2010, The Arizona Republic.

[2] Ben Johnson, Floyd Reports, “Obama Hauls Arizona Before the UN Human Rights Council,” 08/25/2010, posted by Caleb at Western Journalism.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Brett Schaefer, “Arizona Heat: Another Reason to Question U.S. Participation in the Human rights Council,” 08/30/2010. The Foundry blog at Heritage Foundation.

[5] Ibid.

Illustration: Arizona state flag, (