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, May 26, 2011

Fear Not, GOP, You Have the Initiative on the Budget
President Barack Obama, after dissing Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu, only to put himself in the position of receiving a stern and well-deserved lecture from said prime minister, is spending time traveling and seemingly trying to ignore the national debt and deficits.

It is to be hoped that Republican congressional leaders will stand firm on the idea of serious budget cuts, but this is far from certain. The best way forward, in my view, is to unite behind the Paul Ryan plan and not accept anything else, other than minor (and I mean minor) tweaking. This will require more political courage than some have seemed willing to show. And the Democrats are feverishly working to advance their weak position. Can the GOP rise to the challenge?

First, of course, the Democrats are already attacking the Medicare provisions of Ryan’s plan. Never mind that these provisions fall into the out years and won’t affect anyone who is now over 55 years of age. Even then, it will be a more efficient and means-tested plan that assures the likelihood that Medicare will still be around. If nothing is done, it will surprisingly soon be extremely difficult to fund Medicare and Social Security. The liberals would rather demagogue the issue and try to scare the recipients of these benefits, than face up to their responsibility to deal with reality.

The Democrats’ actions should be seen as a good political opportunity for the Republicans, assuming that the GOP doesn’t cower in fear of political risks. Whenever such challenges present themselves, there is going to be substantial risk to any person or group that attempts to responsibly take them on. Remember G. W. Bush’s Social Security proposals? He took extreme heat from the opposition, who couldn’t be bothered to suggest anything of their own. Here are some suggestions for the Republicans (which mostly they’ve already thought of, I hope).

1. Don’t fear a government shutdown. This may very well be the only way to effectively assert majority power in the House of Representatives, where the GOP has control of the purse strings.

2. Counter the Democrats’ fear tactics with the facts on the unsustainability of Medicare if changes aren’t made. The right changes will preserve it.

3. Understand that up to now there has been no serious proposal to effectively cut spending, other than Paul Ryan’s plan. Rep. Ryan seems to be the best defender of his work. GOP leaders should understand what he is proposing. They would do well to support it if they are actually serious about the deficit. Cutting a trillion dollars over ten years won’t help much when the debt is increasing well over $1 trillion per year. Someone should be doing the math.

4. Don’t allow any tax increases. This would stop the recovery. Point out the absurdity of raising taxes on the “rich” who earn $250,000 a year and still struggle to stay in business because of government over-regulation. Tax increases on the “rich” would hurt everyone.

5. Be aware that the Democrats want to increase the number of Americans who pay no income tax (currently about half), then count on them to support increasing taxes on everyone else. If possible, they will try to promote the entitlement mentality and encourage Wisconsin-type demonstrations by anyone who fears there may be a reduction in government benefits.

6. Help people to understand the problem: If serious measures aren’t undertaken now, there probably won’t be any, this side of a serious collapse that would make 2008’s financial crisis look like a minor downturn.

7. Understand the weakness of the Democrats’ position. They have offered little to nothing outside of demagoguery and scare tactics. But they can’t deny that there are serious fiscal problems.

It’s still possible to get on top of this debt problem. But it ultimately must include serious reform of entitlements if these programs are to be preserved at all. Paul Ryan has offered a credible approach. Certainly no Democrat has done that. The Democratic leadership sees no need to submit a budget proposal at all. They just demand tax increases.
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Who to Support for President in 2012? Why Not Herman Cain?

Herman Cain of Georgia (Photo:
I am prepared to support the GOP nominee in 2012 against President Barack Obama. I don’t know of any that I wouldn’t prefer over Mr. Obama. The race has gotten off to a rather rocky start, with several supposed contenders not showing up for the South Carolina debate. People there will probably remember who was there and who wasn’t.

Herman Cain was declared the winner of the debate – a fairly obvious choice in my view. He gave thoughtful, logical, and clear answers to the questions that came his way. His track record shows that he is well-informed on the issues and can articulate a conservative point of view. Back to him a bit later.

Newt Gingrich’s well-publicized “gaffe” on Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget plan didn’t help his cause, and, just as bad, was his statement about health insurance mandates being OK. That alone shows a serious problem vis-à-vis the Constitution. He tried to backtrack on all this, but some damage was done, and if Charles Krauthammer is right, that’s enough to wreck whatever chance Newt had for the nomination. I’m not quite so sure, since comebacks are not at all uncommon in politics.

Mitt Romney’s chances are in doubt because of his unapologetic support of Romneycare in Massachusetts. While that program is on only slightly firmer constitutional ground than Obamacare (which is clearly unconstitutional), it’s still a government insurance mandate, and a form of socialized medicine.

Rep. Ron Paul (TX) is running, and while he is unlikely to win, he could be a factor because of money-raising ability, and the fact that his ideas are being taken a good deal more seriously now than in past years. The deficit and general economic situation make the idea of sound money seem more attractive, and the Fed has brought plenty of doubt upon itself in terms of monetary policy. On the other hand, his debate performance was overshadowed by Cain's. And not many people support legalizing heroin.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (MN) would probably be a good compromise candidate, but may not have enough appeal to be the front-runner.

Out of the race, as we all know, are Mike Huckabee, Hayley Barbour, and Donald Trump. Trump appeared to have little to no chance for the nomination, but the other two were potentially viable candidates.

We still haven’t heard (as of this writing) whether former Gov. Sarah Palin (AK), Gov. Mitch Daniels (IN), Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN), or Gov. Chris Christie (NJ) will be running, although at least two of these probably will. Establishment figures are said to be enthusiastically courting Mitch Daniels to run, fearing that no one else might be attractive enough to defeat Barack Obama. [1] If the GOP gets a genuine conservative, Tea Party-type candidate who can explain and advance actual conservatism (limited government, low taxes, strong defense, and free markets), that candidate can win. If another “moderate” like McCain (e.g., Huntsman or Gary Johnson) is nominated, the race will probably be lost.

Back to Herman Cain. The Daily Caller reported on May 18 that polls after the S. C. debate show that Cain is one of the leading candidates, rather than near last place as previously [2]. He does not have the name recognition (yet) that the others have, some having run and lost in 2008, but he has several things some of the others do not: real-world leadership experience, private sector work experience, executive responsibility in business, and an appealing common-sense approach to things. He can see the conservative side of the issues, which should be obvious to all who are supposed to be conservatives, but for some reason isn’t. Some “conservatives” like the big-government approach to things, and would be content to try to “improve” the Democrats socialist ideas.

C. Edmund Wright, at American Thinker, lists his countdown of reasons why Cain should make a good candidate. One of these is

7. Will break every rule set for him by “strategists”: This one might be my favorite. Cain has never counted on political strategists to get him where he is now, and this alone separates him from all other candidates. Lord help the first “strategist” from the RNC who advises Cain to “tone it down” or “soften his position.” [3]

Another plus Wright emphasizes is that Cain’s candidacy would neutralize the race card and maybe we could just get over this race thing. He lists several other good reasons to consider Cain.

In case you missed the S. C. debate or haven’t heard much about or from Herman Cain, here are a couple of short videos that may interest you. See YouTube for more.

Cain announces exploratory committee with Neil Cavuto on 1/12/11:

On gasoline prices:

[1] Mike Allen, “GOP elite see Mitch Daniels as 2012 savior,” 05/18/2011, Politico.

[2] Alexis Levinson, “What a difference a debate makes: Cain surges to the top in latest TheDC/ConservativeHome Tracking Poll,” 05/18/2011, The Daily Caller.

[3] C. Edmund Wright, “Top Ten Reasons to Support Herman Cain for President,” 01/26/2011, American Thinker.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Paul Ryan-type Budget Plan Is Best Hope for Budget Sanity; Boehner Should Maintain His Strong Stand

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), official portrait
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio has said that there will be no raising of the debt limit unless serious budget cuts, involving “trillions, not billions,” accompany any such legislation. Here is one area the GOP must stand firm on. The hope that they would is the main thing that contributed to their 2010 election success.

The Democrats have shown that they really don’t want anything beyond simply nominal cuts, those being cuts that won’t matter in the actual spending situation. Republicans have, I think, been too shy about the idea of shutting down the government, if the need should arise.

As I mentioned recently, the House GOP majority must assert its power over the budget if any actual progress is to be made, shutdown or not. If the GOP doesn’t approve it, it can’t happen. If somehow a GOP budget is passed by Congress, it would still face a possible presidential veto. Boehner needs to maintain his position that there will be substantial cuts, or no debt limit increase will be approved. Period.

Americans for Limited Government posted the following video of remarks by Boehner to the Economic Club of New York, and added their own comments:

As reported by The Hill,
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Boehner was being inflexible by refusing to move from his opening position that the nation’s borrowing limit should only be raised with a deficit-reduction deal built on trillions in spending cuts and no new taxes…. “Maximalist positions do not produce compromise,” said Carney, who described Boehner as restating his “starting position” with his New York speech. [1]

It would be nice to get Democrats on board with the kind of cuts Boehner has in mind, but it will likely require a stand of inflexibility, at least no compromise on major points, to get any kind of budget that will keep our economy viable over the next few years, let alone growing. Democrats have very little in the way of ideas to grow anything except debt and government. They have demonstrated that they are unable to improve the employment picture to any significant degree.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has done admirable work in producing his “Plan for Prosperity,” and, while it may need some tweaking here and there, it currently represents one of the few, if not the only, serious plan to address the actual problems, including entitlements. Democrats are anxious to use his plan to scare seniors into thinking that Medicare is going away, when in fact, if the types of changes he proposes are not implemented, Medicare will have to go away, because it will not be possible to fund it. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security represent tens of trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities, which do not show up on the formal budget.

A Ryan-type plan that seriously and credibly addresses the entitlement issues, and seriously cuts current spending, even into the future, is probably the only route, at this point, to avoiding a disastrous collapse. Even if the plan became law, there are still deep concerns. One, a future Congress can repeal it; two, the Fed can so damage the dollar that the numbers may become meaningless in a currency collapse. But without a cut on the scale proposed by Ryan, or even greater, we are only greasing the skid to the edge of the cliff. And gravity will take over.

[1] Erik Wasson, “Carney: Boehner being inflexible on debt,” 05/10/2011, The Hill.

Illustration: Public domain.
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