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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Obama abdicates

Last week our illustrious president held a press conference in order to try to push his compromise on the extension of the Bush tax cuts (somewhat misnamed as these have been the tax rates for the last 10 years, so it's really an extension of the current rates not a tax cut.)
Facing a revolt in his own party, Barack Obama decided to call in the big guns — former President William Jefferson Clinton.
And then he ducked out of his own press conference to go to a Christmas party.
You read that right — just a couple of minutes into the press conference he called to try to mollify his base the president, the leader of his party, his country and the free world — ceded leadership to one of his predecessors.
It's pretty sad when the president cannot even rally his own party behind a proposal.
It's even sadder when he ducks out of the press conference he called because "he's been keeping the first lady waiting for 30 minutes."
So we were then treated to the spectacle of Bill Clinton, once again with the presidential seal behind him, handling the press as masterfully as ever.
I'm no fan of Bill Clinton. I could was poetic for hours about the failings, both political and moral, of Bill Clinton. I certainly didn't agree with most of what he had to say in the presser. Everyone who has read my column knows where I stand on taxes.
However, Clinton at least exhibited leadership.
It's becoming painfully obvious even to members of his own party. Even to the people who most strongly supported him, that Barack Obama is exactly what we on the right said he was — an inexperienced, lightweight, ideologue.
I don't want to beat a dead horse, but before the election everyone on the right was scratching their head trying to figure out why a junior senator who had been in office less than two years was even running.
Then we scratched our heads trying to figure out how he got nominated.
Then we were duct taping our heads back together when he got elected.
We saw this coming.
We knew what he was.
If this seems a bit like "I told you so," perhaps it is.
But any joy we on the right take in saying "I told you so," is more than offset by the horror we feel at what he's doing to this country.
We prayed that whatever his personal ideology, he would realize that in order to govern effectively he would have to compromise.
And then he proceeded to jam unpopular bill after unpopular bill down our throats. He alienated our closest allies while trying to cozy up to our enemies in the theory that if we were just nice to them they would like us. They simply snickered behind their hands and ramped up their opposition to us.
The man who is supposed to be the leader of the free world has been unable to deliver anything internationally. Not at the G20, not at Copenhagen. He couldn't even get the Olympics in Chicago.
The Founders wisely created an executive branch. No committee, and that's what congress is, can exercise power. Someone, ultimately, has to be in charge. The problem now is no one seems to be.
As a result our nation is floundering. Obama seems now to be blown by the wind.
Steven Green over at the blog Vodkapundit suggested over the weekend that perhaps it's time to invoke section four of the 25th Amendment.
The 25th Amendment was ratified in the aftermath of John F. Kennedy's assassination to clarify what happens when the president is unable to perform his duties, but is still alive.
Section four is a rather frightening section which allows for the president to have his power removed without a formal impeachment.
It reads in part: "Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President. "
I would agree with Mr. Green except that doing so would give us Acting President Joe Biden, who is even less a leader than the man currently occupying the oval office.
Someone, however, is going to have to step up and lead this nation. Perhaps that will be Speaker-elect John Boehner or someone else within Congress — I don't know.
What I do know is that there will be no true economic recovery, let alone a renaissance of this nation without leadership.
All IMHO, of course.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tax increases still hanging fire

So as I write this, everyone in the country who has a job — and granted that's not many of us it seems — is set to take a pay cut on January 1.
A pay cut you say? Yes, sir.
The tax cuts signed into law by then-President George W. Bush which cut taxes for every American with a job are set to expire Jan. 1. President Barack Obama announced Monday night he had reached a deal with Republicans which would extend the cuts for another two years, add over a year of unemployment benefits and several other things here and there.
The Democrats are not happy, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has yet to sign off on it as of press time.
The Democrats keep saying they want "tax-relief" for the middle class, and try to imply that extending the tax cuts for income earners under $200,000 is somehow a tax cut.
Now I'm not certain how keeping tax rates at their current level constitutes a tax cut or "relief" in any shape, form or fashion.
But then, over the years I've several times tried to put myself in the mind of a liberal and the mental gymnastics required have always left me with a sprained brain.
So let's look at this from a logical stand point.
The liberals call extending the cuts (and keep in mind these aren't really cuts, these are tax rates which have been in effect for 10 years now, so in reality this is a tax hike) for any individual who makes more than $200,000 a year and families who make more than $250,000 "irresponsible," and "welfare for the rich."
I generally wouldn't look at someone who makes that sort of salary as "rich." Comfortable perhaps, but not rich.
Most of us know someone or have a relative who makes that sort of money, and they're often struggling just as much as anyone else. Moreover, that class of folks generally includes most small business owners. You know, the people who do most of the hiring?
Moreover, that's gross income, not net.
As an example, I was once a small business owner myself. Little sole proprietorship. My best year, before the tanking economy put me out of business more than $100,000 passed through my hands. Key here — passed through. I was lucky to get to keep around $20,000 of that — and in point of fact it was quite a bit less after cost of inventory, fuel costs, repairs and all the rest.
But all of it counted as personal income, regardless of how much I actually kept.
This is often the case with small businesses.
Then of course there's the uncertainty factor. Among the reasons employers have not been hiring is they don't know what the tax rates will be after the first of the year. When business owners are uncertain about what's coming they tend to sit on their money.
If we want them to start hiring, then we need to provide some stability — something the administration does not seem to understand.
In addition, we need to keep in mind our economy is in many ways a service economy — in other words, for there to be economic growth people need to be spending money.
Again it's the uncertainty factor. If I don't know what my pay check is going to look like after the first of they year, then I'm unlikely to spend money.
Also, and this theory is sound, has worked every time it's been tried, if you let people keep more of their money, they will spend it. Then the economy grows, then revenues to the federal government go up. If you don't believe me, look it up. Check first what happened when John F. Kennedy cut taxes, then check to see what happened when Ronald Reagan dropped the top rates.
To his credit, President Barack Obama seems to finally be realizing he got his head handed to him in November and that he's going to have to compromise. The problem is the liberals in Congress are still living in a world all their own and are trying to block extension.
I think some sort of compromise will be reached, probably tied to continuing unemployment benefits and it will likely happen this week.
Regardless, we've got to get away from the nutty policies we've had for the last two years and start doing some things to get the economy back on track. Extending the tax cuts is the first step.
All IMHO, of course.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nibbled to death by Lame Ducks

For those of us who wished to see a conservative ascendancy in Congress this last election it's easy to be euphoric about the overwhelming nature of the victory.
The problem is, all those new conservatives have yet to be seated — and the Congress is still in session, and the Democrats are still the majority.
The lame-duck session is considering several pieces of legislation and if we're not careful we may find ourselves nibbled to death by lame ducks.
The Republicans are pushing hard to get the Bush tax cuts made permanent before the end of the year and we all take a pay cut.
Now, the Dems are trying to tell us that they don't want to raise taxes and that they're pushing for a middle-class tax cut.
None of that is true.
Should the Bush tax cuts expire, we'll all see the largest tax-hike in American history, you can't call it anything else when taxes go UP.
What the Dems say they're trying to do is extend only those portions they like. Mostly middle class tax rates.
But this is not, despite what they say, a tax-cut for the middle class. It means that the middle class just gets to keep paying what they have.
Harry Reid, (D-Nevada), the current Senate majority leader is currently pushing the DREAM act, which he's trying to attach to a defense authorization bill, which would allow illegal immigrants who came here under the age of 16, who spend two years in the military or college to apply for legal status. Amnesty by the back route anyone?
Now the first part of that I actually have no problem with. Certain foreign nationals are already allowed to serve in the military — there are a lot of Jamaicans in the Marine Corps for instance — and it seems to me if you want to serve the country you ought to be rewarded for it. The second part I have big issues with. Two years at the local junior college is not quite the same thing as a hitch in the Corps.
There's also a move to ratify a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, this is a bit of a problem in my mind.
First, while Russia is not currently a major strategic thread, Vladimir Putin is reminding me more and more of old Uncle Joe Stalin. Not in the "I'm a psychotic, sociopathic mass murderer," sort of way. But he does have a distinct flavor of the old Russian imperialism about him. It is entirely possible that Russia could again be a strategic threat within a few years — especially if we continue to allow ourselves to decline in the manner we have.
China is, and is likely to grow as a strategic threat. The Chinese are pushing hard to be a superpower and we must be able to counter that threat. The biggest problem with the new START treaty is it prohibits the modernization of our current stock of warheads.
While our current nuclear arsenal is sufficient to deter the strategic threats we currently face, it's a safe bet that as they age our capability will degrade as our opponents' improves.
There are several other bills pending in Congress and some confirmation hearings which would, just as an example, make a highly inexperienced and pro gun control ATF agent head of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.
Next week congress's Thanksgiving break will be over. Before then I suggest people educate themselves on the bills that are pending and start making some phone calls and writing a few letters.
Much of what the president would like to ram through while he still has the ability to do so are things which the latest election repudiated. Let's see if we can't stop him.
All IMHO, of course.