Conservative Political Commentary

...usually with an attempt at historical and economic context

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NOTICE

Dear Readers,

I am placing this blog on hold for a while in order to focus on my ministry blog Eddie's Sermon Notes and Outlines. 

Thanks for reading. I'll return to this one fairly soon with more updates. Meanwhile, welcome to the other blog.

Eddie

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blueprint for Fiscal Failure

Historical government spending in the United S...Image via Wikipedia
(2008 estimate, Per cent of GDP)
President Obama’s recently released budget proposal defies comparison with the president’s words about reining in the deficit while “investing” in necessary programs. The numbers have become so astronomical that, to me, it seems doubtful that those who crafted this budget really comprehend how huge these figures are.

We’ve already increased the national debt massively in the past two years. As of now, one national debt clock is showing $14.233 trillion plus. And the administration wants to raise the debt limit. Republicans say, “Not without significant spending cuts.”

Conservative House members are striving to reach the $100 billion level in cuts promised in the GOP’s “Pledge to America.” They may accomplish this. Even so, it’s a modest amount compared to the $3.7 trillion called for in the budget for Fiscal 2012. Somehow this budget proposal, if enacted, is supposed to help reduce deficits by $1.1 trillion over a decade. But we would be running a deficit of $1.6 trillion just for FY 2012. Most of Obama’s proposed cuts, of course, are to be made in the out years, well after his current term expires.

The problem with trying to budget over ten years is that we have a new Congress every two years, and all that budgeting, were it to be enacted, is only suggestions to future lawmakers.

As stated by Christopher S. Rugaber at The Daily Caller,

The budget plan President Barack Obama sent Congress on Monday foresees a record deficit of $1.65 trillion this year. That would be just under 11 percent of the $14 trillion economy — the largest proportion since 1945, when wartime spending swelled the deficit to 21.5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. [1]

Some Proposed Budget Spending Items
Of course, now, our national debt is about the size of our GDP. For all the talk about reducing future deficits, it’s hard to view this budget proposal as a sincere effort. Apparently, things we just can’t do without, according to the Administration, include big spending increases for the following (partial list by departments), according to FederalNewsRadio.com:

Education, $68 billion, increase of 38.5%
Commerce, $10.4 billion, increase of 13.9%
Transportation, $128.6 billion, increase of 68% (includes $53 billion for high-speed trains)
Some agencies received decreases. See the excellent article for a comprehensive listing and comments. [2]


As J.D. Foster points out in a Heritage Foundation article,
The President continues to speak of painful spending cuts even as spending continues to soar. He continues his call for future tax hikes driven by ideology. He continues to express concern over budget deficits while offering only gimmicks in the short term and silence for the long-term problems for which he appointed a now-ignored deficit reduction commission. [3]

Here are some comments by conservative members of Congress on a Heritage video:



Election Results = House Mandate
Republicans won in the 2010 elections largely on the promise of restoring fiscal sanity in Washington. As long as liberals are in charge, there will be excessive spending and increasing national debt until our currency collapses, then liberals will try to start the whole process over. Fiscal irresponsibility is so evident in the president’s proposed budget that it’s difficult to believe anyone can really take it seriously. It increases rather than decreases entitlements, it proposes very costly and unnecessary programs, like high-speed rail, and calls more government intervention in just about every facet of life. And I did mention significant tax increases.

What About the Recovery?
If the GOP’s proposed cuts result in some lost government jobs, they are likely to also result in many new private-sector jobs. When “economic growth” is basically government growth, it falls well short of a healthy recovery. I hope the House GOP leaders and members will stand firm on their “Pledge to America,” and make at least $100 billion in cuts to current spending, and defund Obamacare entirely. Even all that would be relatively small compared to overall spending, but it’s a start that would demonstrate a sincere effort to save our country’s fiscal policy from disastrous results: Chronic high unemployment and possible collapse of our economy and currency. The president’s proposal represents basically just more of the same thing we already have, but made worse.

What’s needed is a substantial reduction in the size and scope of government, not just slower government growth. And the cutting should start now.


[1] Christopher S. Rugaber, “Deficit is biggest share of economy since 1945,” 02/15/2011,
The Daily Caller.


[2] Jolie Lee and the Associated Press, “Breakdown of FY2012 Budget by Agency,” 02/14/2011, FederalNewsRadio.com.


[3] J.D. Foster, Ph.D., “President Obama’s 2012 Budget Builds on Failures of the Past,” 02/14/2011, www.Heritage.org.


Illustration: Public domain.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, February 7, 2011

Constitution Wins in Judge Vinson’s Decision

President Barack Obama's signature on the heal...Image via Wikipedia
President's signature on Health Care bill
The Obama Administration has introduced numerous measures which are unconstitutional or constitutionally questionable: Cap and Trade, restrictive regulations, shutting down offshore oil drilling, etc., but none more blatantly outside constitutional limits than Obamacare. The majority of states have legal action against this law currently going on in Federal courts.

The most damaging decision to the socialized medicine law is a decision by a federal judge in Florida. This story is fairly familiar by now, but as it fades from the news cycle, it needs to be pointed out that this ongoing legal battle very well could (and should) result in the end of Obamacare.

The decision should remind the elites in charge in Washington that we still have a constitution, and that they are obligated to follow it.

In Pensacola, Florida, on Monday, January 31, 2011, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled the Obama health care reform law unconstitutional. According to his ruling, the mandate to purchase insurance or pay a penalty is unconstitutional, and is not severable from the rest of the law. Therefore, the entire law is invalid. In his ruling, the judge sided with 26 states, which, along with the National Federation of Independent Business, brought the lawsuit. [1]

This ruling (found here) is a serious blow to the health care law, and apparently ends it, unless the decision is overturned by a higher court. The judge rejected the administration’s argument that the case should be dismissed because the states did not have standing to bring the lawsuit.


One refreshing thing about the decision is that it shows respect for what the Constitution actually says, and is not simply an act of bench legislation. If the individual mandate is allowed to stand, what can’t the government require? But our Constitution establishes a federal system and a central government with limited and enumerated powers.

Meanwhile, in Congress, following the House’s vote to repeal the act, the Senate voted on February 2, by a 51-47 majority, on a strict party line vote, against repeal. The Democrats are determined to protect the law, regardless of the facts that (a) the majority of the states are suing to have it overturned, (b) the majority of American voters disapprove of the law, and (c) a federal judge has ruled it unconstitutional.

According to the ruling (Page 42 of 78)

It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party merely by asserting --- as was done in the Act --- that compelling the actual transaction is itself “commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce” [see Act § 1501(a)(1)], it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted. It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place. If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be “difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power”[Lopez, supra, 514 U.S. at 564], and we would have a Constitution in name only.

From Page 75 of 78 of the ruling:
(5) Injunction
The last issue to be resolved is the plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief enjoining implementation of the Act, which can be disposed of very quickly. Injunctive relief is an “extraordinary” [citations]. It is even more so when the party to be enjoined is the federal government, for there is a long-standing presumption “that officials of the Executive Branch will adhere to the law as declared by the court. As a result, the declaratory judgment is the functional equivalent of an injunction.” …..Thus, the award of declaratory relief is adequate and separate injunctive relief is not necessary.
[Emphasis added]

It might seem that the Administration would give this decision its due, but the Administration has chosen to ignore it as far as implementation is concerned, even for the 26 states involved in the lawsuit.

According to Heritage legal expert Robert Alt, Judge Vinson’s declaratory judgment binds the parties to the suit, which includes 26 states, the National Federation of Independent Business and the federal government. This means that, absent a court-issued stay, Obamacare cannot be further implemented as it pertains to these 26 states. So the White House now faces a simple choice: Will President Obama abide by a valid decision by a federal district court, or will he unilaterally ignore the rule of law? If the past is any indicator, the rule of law is in for a continued beating. [2]

According to Bill Wilson at IBD Editorials,

[Wisconsin Attorney General J.B.] Van Hollen has taken the proper step of following the law, which now says that ObamaCare is unconstitutional in its entirety, relieving Wisconsin of any obligation to follow it.

It is the responsibility of every state attorney general in the nation to follow Van Hollen's lead, and halt any actions to implement this unconstitutional law. To do otherwise will open states up to legal liability. [3]

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said that the Obama Administration should enforce the law regardless of the court’s decision:

Given the judge’s ruling, CNSNews.com asked Durbin on Wednesday whether he thinks the Obama administration should stop implementing the health care law.

Durbin, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said, “Personally, I don’t, because the judge was asked for an injunction, and he didn’t rule that there would be one. So he hasn’t enjoined any conduct or activity. At this point, we have 16 courts that have considered this case. [4]

As mentioned in the judge’s ruling, an injunction was considered unnecessary because of the presumption that the government would honor the ruling.

Obama apparently will continue to ignore this until the Supreme Court rules on it. Then what? The Administration has already been held in contempt of court by another federal judge.

As reported by Joe Newby of The Examiner, the Obama is ignoring another court order. The Administration has been found to be in contempt of court for defying an order to end the deepwater drilling moratorium. [5]

Newby quotes from Bloomberg’s article on the decision:

Interior Department regulators acted with “determined disregard” by lifting and reinstituting a series of policy changes that restricted offshore drilling, following the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, U.S. District Judge, Martin Feldman of New Orleans ruled yesterday.

“Each step the government took following the court’s imposition of a preliminary injunction showcases its defiance,” Feldman said in the ruling. [6]

So, does anyone notice a pattern developing? Apparently, the Administration is all for the rule of law when it suits their purposes. Otherwise, not so much.

[1] Melissa Nelson, Associated Press, “Florida Judge Strikes Down Obamacare, Says Individual Mandate Is Unconstitutional,” 01/31/2011, via CNS News.


[2] Conn Carroll, “Morning Bell: The Obamacare Assault on the Rule of Law,” 02/03/2011, The Foundry, The Heritage Foundation.


[3] Bill Wilson, “Obama Invites Crisis If He Ignores Ruling,” 02/02/2011, IBD Editorials.


[4] Nicholas Ballasy, “Durbin: Obama Administration Should Enforce Obamacare Even Though Judge Ruled It Unconstitutional,” 02/03/2011, CNS News.com.


[5] Joe Newby, “Obama Administration found in contempt of court over drilling moratotium,” The Examiner (Spokane), 02/04/2011.


[6] Ibid.

Photo: President's signature on health care bill. Public domain.


Enhanced by Zemanta