Sunday, July 31, 2011

New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hold In Global Warming Alarmism

New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hold In Global Warming Alarmism By James Taylor/Forbes
NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth's atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.

Study co-author Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA's Aqua satellite, reports that real-world data from NASA's Terra satellite contradict multiple assumptions fed into alarmist computer models.

"The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show," Spencer said in a July 26 University of Alabama press release. "There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans."

In addition to finding that far less heat is being trapped than alarmist computer models have predicted, the NASA satellite data show the atmosphere begins shedding heat into space long before United Nations computer models predicted.

The new findings are extremely important and should dramatically alter the global warming debate.

Scientists on all sides of the global warming debate are in general agreement about how much heat is being directly trapped by human emissions of carbon dioxide (the answer is "not much"). However, the single most important issue in the global warming debate is whether carbon dioxide emissions will indirectly trap far more heat by causing large increases in atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds. Alarmist computer models assume human carbon dioxide emissions indirectly cause substantial increases in atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds (each of which are very effective at trapping heat), but real-world data have long shown that carbon dioxide emissions are not causing as much atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds as the alarmist computer models have predicted.

The new NASA Terra satellite data are consistent with long-term NOAA and NASA data indicating atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds are not increasing in the manner predicted by alarmist computer models. The Terra satellite data also support data collected by NASA's ERBS satellite showing far more longwave radiation (and thus, heat) escaped into space between 1985 and 1999 than alarmist computer models had predicted. Together, the NASA ERBS and Terra satellite data show that for 25 years and counting, carbon dioxide emissions have directly and indirectly trapped far less heat than alarmist computer models have predicted.

In short, the central premise of alarmist global warming theory is that carbon dioxide emissions should be directly and indirectly trapping a certain amount of heat in the earth's atmosphere and preventing it from escaping into space. Real-world measurements, however, show far less heat is being trapped in the earth's atmosphere than the alarmist computer models predict, and far more heat is escaping into space than the alarmist computer models predict.

When objective NASA satellite data, reported in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, show a "huge discrepancy" between alarmist climate models and real-world facts, climate scientists, the media and our elected officials would be wise to take notice. Whether or not they do so will tell us a great deal about how honest the purveyors of global warming alarmism truly are.

James M. Taylor is senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

Baby Talk--Obama condescends to us ignoramuses

Baby Talk The Weekly Standard by William Kristol

I was struck by these sentences in President Obama’s speech:

Now, what makes today’s stalemate so dangerous is that it has been tied to something known as the debt ceiling – a term that most people outside of Washington have probably never heard of before.

Understand – raising the debt ceiling does not allow Congress to spend more money. It simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up.

Consider the condescension implicit in the president’s statement—“a term that most people outside of Washington have probably never heard of before.” These “people outside of Washington” are not little children being lectured on an obscure subject by a worldly adult. These people outside Washington are ... citizens. Judging by the polls, most of us have opinions about whether, and under what conditions, the debt ceiling should be raised. We don’t seem to be as ignorant as Obama thinks we are of the term or concept of a debt ceiling. But the president assumes we’ve never bothered our pretty little heads about such a thing.

And he doesn’t want us to start bothering our pretty little heads about it now. So Obama instructs us as to what the debt ceiling is. He claims that “raising the debt ceiling does not allow Congress to spend more money.” That statement might be true about a rise in the debt ceiling that would take us only through the rest of the current fiscal year, for which funds have already been appropriated by Congress. It is simply not true about the increase Obama is asking for, which is designed to cover the next fiscal year and a bit more. The fact is, Obama’s $2.4 trillion increase (a number that never appears in the speech) does precisely what Obama says it doesn’t: it “allow[s] Congress to spend more money.” It is not the case that Obama’s debt ceiling hike “simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up.”

It would be nice to have a president who spoke candidly to his fellow citizens as adults.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Speaking of Shared Sacrifice . . .

Speaking of Shared Sacrifice . . . by Roger Kimball

So the president wants “millionaires and billionaires” to “share in the sacrifice everyone else has to make.” Right. A couple of points: by “millionaires and billionaires” he means middle-class folks with a family income of $250,000 or above. By “sacrifice everyone else has to make” he means everyone except the 43.4 percent of tax filers who pay no federal income tax — many of whom, in fact, get a check from the government, i.e., from the other 50-odd percent who do pay federal income tax. (Remember this: the government has no money of its own: what money it disperses it gets from individuals and businesses.)

A “sacrifice everyone else has to make.” That sounds nice. What do you suppose it means? And what sacrifice do you suppose the president himself is making? Here’s an idea: Why doesn’t he figure out how much it actually costs to run the White House and then indulge in a little shared sacrifice by cutting (say) 20 percent. And why doesn’t he order his cabinet to make similar “shared sacrifices” in their own departments?

I know, I know: don’t hold your breath on that. But let’s think a bit more about the president’s speech yesterday. I think Scott Johnson at Powerline has it right when he highlights the large element of euphemism deployed in the speech:

Here are a few of the euphemisms Obama has contributed: revenues (taxes), shared sacrifice (taxes), asking for something (taxes), millionaires and billionaires (taxes on individuals earning more than $200,000 a year or couples earning more than $250,000 a year), the balanced approach (translation: taxes).

As Scott notes, the euphemisms are “almost laughable,” with emphasis on the adverb.

Actually, I think Scott is too generous. What the president’s speech bristled with are not euphemisms, exactly — inoffensive words doing duty for offensive ones — but blatant misrepresentations, which I suppose might be considered a euphemism for “lies.”

One salutary thing to come out of the debate about raising the debt ceiling is that the president’s inner redistributionist has peeked through his usually disconnected persona. During the 2008 campaign, Obama famously, or infamously, told Joe the Plumber that he wanted to “spread the wealth around,” i.e., take money from person A and give it to person B. He wasn’t usually so candid, though he did make it clear that individual economic success was something he despised. In the infancy of the United States, Chief Justice John Marshall observed that “the power to tax is the power to destroy.”

I used to think that it would be a good idea to acquaint Barack Obama with that saying. The alarming spectacle of his administration lurching from one disaster to the next makes me suspect that he knows it all too well. The power to tax is the power to destroy, and there are things he wishes to destroy, above all wealth independent of the state. One other observation from Chief Justice Marshall: “Indeed, in a free government almost all other rights would become worthless if the government possessed power over the private fortune of every citizen.” Keep it in mind as you ponder the rhetoric of our masters in Washington.

Obama’s tax-hike obsession

Obama’s tax-hike obsession by James Pethokoukis
It’s the great mystery of the debt ceiling debate: Why is President Barack Obama so darn adamant about raising taxes? “This may bring my presidency down, but I will not yield on this,” Obama told Republicans before dramatically exiting their budget meeting last week.

“This,” of course, is his demand that large spending cuts be “balanced” with tax increases on wealthier Americans, entrepreneurs, investors and unpopular businesses such as Big Oil and Wall Street. But why insist on higher taxes in the middle of weakest economic recovery in the post-World War II era?

Wouldn’t standard Keynesian economics, much beloved in the White House, actually call for cutting taxes (or increasing spending) to boost aggregate demand?

Doesn’t Obama know that even his former chief economist, Christina Romer, says tax increases “will tend to slow the recovery in the near term.” Not that things look much better a few years out. The International Monetary Funds sees economic growth below 3 percent through 2016. And Democrat-friendly Goldman Sachs now thinks a double-dip recession is possible even as it lowers its growth forecast and raises its prediction for unemployment.

But Obama’s tax obsession becomes understandable when you realize the long game he’s playing: Big Taxes to fund Big Government. Decade after decade. See, it’s an almost universal belief among left-of-center journalists, economists, policymakers and politicians that Americans must pay higher taxes in coming years to cover the medical expenses of its aging population – not to mention all sorts of brand new social spending and green “investment.” Dramatically higher taxes. On everybody. And if we have a debt crisis, maybe those tax increases come sooner rather than later.

And it’s not even a secret, really. Here’s liberal economics columnist Ezra Klein of The Washington Post:

The reality is that we’re going to have higher taxes in the coming years, and beyond that, we’re going to have higher taxes than we’ve traditionally had during periods in which taxes were relatively high.

And liberal economics columnist David Leonhardt of The New York Times outlines a completely implausible scenario — at least to himself — to avoid massively higher taxes:

For taxes to remain where they are, Washington would need to end Medicare as we know it, end Social Security as we know it, severely shrink the military – or do some combination of the above.

How high? Three liberal think tanks recently devised budgets to put the U.S. government on a sustainable fiscal path through 2035. Their plans, collectively, called for Washington to collect an average of 23.6 percent of GDP vs. the post-World War II average of 18.5 percent. To put that in further perspective, the highest level of tax revenue that Uncle Sam has ever taken is 20.9 percent in 1944.

And to reach such a stratospheric level of taxation, these groups are calling for unprecedented tax hikes via millionaire surtaxes, higher taxes on alcohol and tobacco, securities transaction taxes, higher taxes on capital gains, higher taxes on corporations, higher death taxes, carbon taxes, and gasoline taxes. None of which, supposedly, would hurt economic growth. Even worse, all those tax hikes would still fail to balance the budget. And when you move past 2035, taxes would almost certainly need to go even higher.

That is the high-tax future the liberal establishment has in store for America. No wonder Obama rejected his own debt commission last December. It would limit the tax and spending burden to 21 percent of GDP. Neither is nearly enough for the Obamacrats and their successors. Just look at Obama’s budget from last February. Over a decade, it never reduces spending to less than 23 percent of GDP and spending is actually higher at the end of the ten-year span than in the middle. And eventually all that spending would need to be paid for via higher taxes. Recall that back in 2009, the White House floated a trial balloon about a instituting a value-added tax to pay for healthcare reform or general debt reduction.

Underlying all this longing for higher taxes is a belief government can’t and shouldn’t be cut. Nonsense. Both the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation have devised workable fiscal plans that would keep taxes below 20 percent of GDP. And Rep. Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity shows how to reduce spending to below 19 percent of GDP by 2040. And rather than managed decline toward a slow-growth, EU-style social welfare state (that even the EU can’t afford anymore,) these plans would help keep America growing and living standards rising as they have for decades. Those are high stakes in the debt ceiling debate — and in the battles over taxes and spending in the years to come.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Blaming It All On the Tea Party

Blaming It All On the Tea Party by James W. Ceaser and John York

With the breakdown of negotiations on a so-called grand bargain on the debt limit demanded by President Obama, liberal commentators have sought a convenient scapegoat to account for the impasse. Not surprisingly, they have begun by rounding up the usual suspect: the Tea Party. Its intransigence, so the line goes, has sunk this great deal.

For two years now, “Blame the Tea Party First” has been the Democrats’ favorite mantra. “Firsters” invoke the Tea Party to make sense–for themselves–of the otherwise inexplicable fact of large-scale public opposition to President Obama, and they hold the Tea Party responsible for many of the nation’s deeper problems, from incivility in our discourse to an inability to set aside intransigent partisanship.

Generosity in describing one’s foes is a rarity, especially among conspiracy theorists. But Firsters have carried their animus against the Tea Party to unprecedented heights by failing to credit it with what is today right before everyone’s eyes. Without the Tea Party, there would be no debt limit negotiations going on, just as there would have been no budget reduction deal last December. Without the Tea Party, President Obama would not be posing as the judicious statesman, but would be pushing –as in truth he still is–for more stimulus and further investments in high-speed rail. Whatever pressure now exists to treat the debt problem derives directly or indirectly from the explosion of energy that has been generated by the Tea Party.

In lambasting the Tea Party movement for its stubborness, Firsters have silently acknowledged what for two years they had all but denied. Instead of being in fact a front for racism or opposition to abortion, the “baggers,” as they have been derisively called, are genuinely insistent on cutting spending and containing the growth of government. Everything is less complicated than it seems. Supporters of the Tea Party are who they said they were.

A stroll down memory lane provides a reminder of the Firsters’ shifting characterizations of the Tea Party. About the only constant in their analysis has been its political opportunism. The baggers have been charged with seven deadly sins.

1. They are uneducated poor racists. All honor for this accusation goes to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who referred to the grassroots movement as “astroturf,” comprised of swastika-carrying radicals. Since then others have joined in: Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson saw “no coincidence” in “the birth of a big, passionate national movement — overwhelmingly white and lavishly funded — that tries its best to delegitimize… the first African-American president.”

2. They are uneducated poor dupes. In this description, the racism is not denied, but it is almost beside the point; the real issue is that Big Money has been manipulating the ignorant and gullible masses. Paul Krugman , the Nobel-prize- winning economist turned film-critic, offered this helpful advice to Tea Party activists in the New York Times,: “This is not the movie you think it is. You probably imagine you’re starring in ‘The Birth of a Nation’ but you’re actually just extras in a remake of ‘Citizen Kane’…[in which Kane] just puts politicians on his payroll.”

3. They are privileged whites who don’t want to pay their fair share. As poll evidence started to show, Tea Party supporters were not as poor or as dumb as was initially thought. On the contrary–for this CBS/NewYork Times Poll, at any rate– they were older, wealthier, and better educated than the general public. Never mind. Firsters just adjusted the image, having it that these people just wanted to protect their own, indulging, as Harold Meyersson would have it, in a “politics of racial resentment and the fury that the country is no longer only theirs.”

4. They are folks with understandable concerns, but they don’t comprehend what will solve our problems. This is probably the most sympathetic and patronizing treatment of the Tea Party, and it gained ground as the size of the Tea Party itself became apparent. It had to be treated now with some delicacy. Yes, Firsters acknowledged, these are mostly good and decent people–they may even care dearly about their children–but they need some guidance. In the time-honored tradition of legislators to revise and resubmit their remarks, Nancy Pelosi now began to find common turf with the Tea Party: “We share some of the views of the Tea Partiers.” The president let it be known “that there are strains in the Tea Party that are troubled by what they saw as a series of instances in which the middle-class and working-class people have been abused or hurt by special interests and Washington, but their anger is misdirected.”

5. They are just the old-conservatives rebranded. This is the Ecclesiastes argument, that there is nothing new under the sun. Although slightly angrier than other conservatives, and maybe just a little bit more libertarian, in fact they are pretty much “full spectrum” conservatives concerned not only with fiscal issues but social issues. They offer nothing different than the Republican Party of old. According to a New York Times sketch of the movement, “They do not want a third party and say they usually or almost always vote Republican.” Almost six in ten went so far as to hold a favorable opinion of former President Bush.

6. They are parts of a fragile and conflicting coalition. This charge, like the last one, brought some consolation, as it indicated that the movement was weaker than thought and would not be able to withstand the test of holding together in real votes. Scholars took the lead on this characterization, with a team led by Harvard Professor Theda Skocpol arguing that the “affection of grassroots Tea Partiers for major programs like Social Security is at odds with the policies pushed by many of the elite national organizations that fund their protests.”

7. Supporters are historical fetishists, concerned with quaint and outmoded things like the principles of the Revolution and the Constitution. E.J. Dionne, one of the first Firsters, has been long lecturing the Tea Party folks that they have been serving the wrong part of history, 1773, rather than the Constitution, which was a pro-government document. He recently lectured his “friends in the Tea Party” that they are “drawing all the wrong conclusions” which will lead to “some remarkably foolish choices.” Jill Lapore, professor of history at Harvard who has written a full length book on the movement, goes a step further than Dionne, condemning the movement for the folly of an “originalism” that would seek to apply directly the ideas of yesteryear, even if correctly understood, to today. She would evidently throw out of court, as would Dionne, the originalism of one Tea Party supporter who had the temerity to offer this application of the Founders’ political system: “I’m sick and tired of them wasting money and doing what our founders never intended to be done with the federal government.”

Despite the accident of its name, the Tea Party is not a political party, but a political movement, according to Peter Berkowitz, “one of the most spectacular grass roots political movements in American history.” A feature of such movements in American politics, whether on the Left or the Right, is that they are unformed and inchoate. Their boundaries–who is in and who is out–remain ill-defined, as there is no authoritative organizational structure that exercises control of the “members.” It’s therefore almost always possible for interested investigators to find, somewhere, what they are looking for. So the Tea Party movement has had its share of ideologues (Ron Paul) and flakes (Christine O’Donnell)–although the same might be said, respectively, of the Democratic Party’s Sheila Jackson Lee and Anthony Weiner.

Given the porousness of the movement, any serious analysis demands perspective and discipline, qualities that in political commentary today are in short supply. What Firsters have instead provided is a grab bag of charges from which they pick the one that best fits the need of the moment. On some days it may be that the Tea Partiers, as Michele Bachmann so colorfully expressed it, are a bunch of “toothless hillbillies coming down out of the hills,” on others that they are some country-club Republicans teeing up for a round of golf. One moment the movement is weak and fragile, another it has captured the Republican Party, which, according to David Brooks, “has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.” Where these characterizations do not undermine themselves by contradiction, they often amaze by their absurdity. In the most malicious and persistent charge–that of racism, which serves as a prophylactic to protect O’bama from any criticism–the evidence offered is a small number of African Americans in the movement. But how many African Americans, already the most liberal group in America, should one expect to join a movement opposing Barack Obama? And of course when one does, like Herman Cain, and upon a strong showing in a debate wins the respect of the hordes of racists, he immediately becomes subject to the most unseemly attacks by those free of any hint of racial prejudice.

In this week’s controversy, Firsters are promoting the narrative of Barack Obama as the great statesman of the hour, willing to go the extra mile for a great bargain. Somewhere and sometime, according to this fantastic account, Obama experienced an 11th-hour conversion to spending restraint. Only no one–no one–has seen or knows what he wants. It is the phantom of the budget, staged with wondrous smoke and mirrors and accompanied by the old refrain, now growing stale by repetition, of Obama worship. We are witnessing the sorry spectacle of high-minded commentators, who only recently were chanting in unison for greater transparency in our politics, and who now bite like a school of perch at the cheap plastic lures and leaks being tossed out by White House flaks. These are men and women without an ounce of pride in either themselves or their craft.

At the end of the day, the choice the nation faces is pretty clear–even if both sides will at one day face a point of reckoning. One side wishes a more constrained federal government and greater austerity in our welfare programs. It will hold or cut these programs to the point where it finds it cannot go much further, at which time other remedies may need to be considered. If one wants a model for this approach, it is necessary to look no further than the policies of some of the red-state governments (or Great Britain). The other side wishes a federal government at and beyond the level of 2008 and beyond the current level. If one wants a model for this approach, the blue-state of Illinois or California will do just fine. This side will continue to maintain and expand government, cutting national defense to the bone and adding more “revenues,” up to the point it becomes literally unsustainable. That point has not been reached yet.

This is the choice the nation faces. As of 2011, it has not been definitively made. Perhaps 2012 will be the year of the Tea Party.

James W. Ceaser is professor of politics at the University of Virginia and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. John York is a graduate student in politics at the University of Virginia.

The president’s national poll numbers aren’t good, but they’re worse in battleground states.

Obama’s Battleground-State Blues - Josh Kraushaar -

The president’s national poll numbers aren’t good, but they’re worse in battleground states.

President Obama’s job approval rating in the latest national polls has been in the danger zone, ranging from 42 percent (Gallup) to 47 percent (ABC News/Washington Post), with every survey showing him with higher unfavorables than favorables. Needless to say, it’s not a good place for a president to be, especially since his numbers have worsened over the past two months.

The race for president isn’t a national contest. It’s a state-by-state battle to cobble an electoral vote majority. So while the national polls are useful in gauging the president’s popularity, the more instructive numbers are those from the battlegrounds.

Those polls are even more ominous for the president: In every reputable battleground state poll conducted over the past month, Obama’s support is weak. In most of them, he trails Republican front-runner Mitt Romney. For all the talk of a closely fought 2012 election, if Obama can’t turn around his fortunes in states such as Michigan and New Hampshire, next year’s presidential election could end up being a GOP landslide.

Take Ohio, a perennial battleground in which Obama has campaigned more than in any other state (outside of the D.C. metropolitan region). Fifty percent of Ohio voters now disapprove of his job performance, compared with 46 percent who approve, according to a Quinnipiac poll conducted from July 12-18.

Among Buckeye State independents, only 40 percent believe that Obama should be reelected, and 42 percent approve of his job performance. Against Romney, Obama leads 45 percent to 41 percent—well below the 50 percent comfort zone for an incumbent.

The news gets worse from there. In Michigan, a reliably Democratic state that Obama carried with 57 percent of the vote, an EPIC-MRA poll conducted July 9-11 finds him trailing Romney, 46 percent to 42 percent. Only 39 percent of respondents grade his job performance as “excellent” or good,” with 60 percent saying it is “fair” or “poor.” The state has an unemployment rate well above the national average, and the president’s approval has suffered as a result.

In Iowa, where Republican presidential contenders are getting in their early licks against the president, his approval has taken a hit. In a Mason-Dixon poll conducted for a liberal-leaning group, Romney held a lead of 42 percent to 39 percent over the president, with 19 percent undecided. Even hyper-conservative Rep. Michele Bachmann ran competitively against Obama in the Hawkeye State, trailing 47 percent to 42 percent.

The July Granite State Poll pegs the president’s approval at 46 percent among New Hampshire voters, with 49 percent disapproving. A separate robo-poll conducted this month by Democratic-aligned Public Policy Polling shows him trailing Romney in the state, 46 percent to 44 percent.

Polls are just a snapshot, and these illustrate that the sour economy has been taking its toll on the president’s popularity. There’s plenty of time left before November 2012, but the fundamentals—projections of long-term slow economic growth, a White House struggling to tailor a message on job creation, and an energized Republican base—don’t bode well. The president’s best hope is for a deeply polarizing Republican nominee, such as Bachmann, to emerge.

Obama’s performance so far on the debt-ceiling debate hasn’t improved his standing, either. Pundits may have graded the president a winner in the battle, but it wasn’t long ago that the White House was demanding a clean debt-ceiling increase from congressional Republicans. Now, it appears that whatever deal ends up being struck will be much closer to the GOP’s terms, with the president looking less consequential in the whole process.

Obama let his frustration show at last Friday’s press conference, looking helpless while talking down the prospects of economic growth without a long-term deal. He may end up being forced to either accept a debt-ceiling package crafted by House Republicans or threaten a veto that could send markets reeling. And somehow, he manages to become more popular after all is said and done?

At this point, even a last-minute agreement that runs until after the presidential election benefits no one politically. It only underscores how broken Washington is, and that’s not good news for any incumbent, including the president.

For some time, the conventional wisdom has been that 2012 will be a close presidential contest, with a best-case scenario for Republicans of winning the race with a map similar to George W. Bush’s 2004 victory over Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

But if the president can’t turn things around, that logic could prove badly outdated. If Obama is struggling in the Democratic-friendly confines of Michigan and Pennsylvania (as recent polls have indicated), it’s hard to see him over-performing again in more-traditional battlegrounds such as Colorado, Nevada, and Virginia.

Unless the environment changes significantly, all the money in the president’s reelection coffers won’t be able to expand the map; it can only defend territory that’s being lost. And just as House Democrats played defense to protect the growing number of vulnerable members in last year’s midterms, Obama is looking like he’ll be scrambling to hold onto a lot of the states that he thought would be part of an emerging Democratic majority

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Federal Spending in Perspective

Federal Spending in Perspective Mercatus

Federal Spending in Perspective by Veronique de Rugy

The country faces difficult tradeoffs in putting the federal budget on a sustainable path. This chart by Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellow Veronique de Rugy compares federal spending and its key components as shares of GDP on average over the past 40 years, before the recession began, and in 2021 under the Congressional Budget Office’s current-law baseline projections.

During the past 40 years, government spending has ranged from as low as 18.2 percent of GDP in 2000 and 2001 to as high as 25 percent in 2009; revenues have averaged 18.0 percent of GDP. As a result of this overspending, budget deficits will continue to rise from 1.6 percent (2007) to roughly 6 percent (2021) of GDP.

Entitlement spending is the main driver behind this increase over the historical baseline. Under current law, CBO projects that spending on Social Security and major health care programs—mainly Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program—would be 12.2 percent of GDP in 2021; a 70 percent increase relative to the historical average. All spending apart from this and interest payments on the debt have averaged 11.5 percent of GDP during the past 40 years. That broad category includes defense (largest single item), food stamps, unemployment compensation, veteran’s benefits, transportation, and other programs.

Assuming current tax and spending policies persist through 2021, limiting federal spending to 18 percent of GDP would require cutting spending by one-fourth. We can continue to fuel the spending fire—and ignore these chilling facts—or we can extinguish it by putting federal spending in proper perspective.

Veronique de Rugy explains the trajectory of federal spending under three plans at NRO’s The Corner.

We already were headed for a downgrade because of too much, not too little, debt

We already were headed for a downgrade because of too much, not too little, debt by William A. Jacobson

Yesterday Moody’s issued a warning of a possible debt downgrade if the debt ceiling dispute created a situation in which the U.S. defaulted, even though Moody’s acknowledged that “the risk is low.”

Obama is using the possible downgrade as a major bargaining chip in negotiations with Republicans, threatening to take his case to the public (as if he hasn’t already?):

“Don’t call my bluff,” the president said. “I am not afraid to veto and I will take it to the American people.”

If Moody’s, the credit rating agency that announced a review of U.S. credit, downgrades the United States, President Obama said, ”it will be a tax increase on every American.”

But a threatened downgrade by a major ratings agency is nothing new. Both Moody’s and S&P have been warning for months about possible downgrades unless the U.S. addressed the rising debt problem. The rising debt, not failure to incur more debt, was the concern.

In January, Moody’s issued the following warning:

Moody’s Investors Service said it may need to place a “negative” outlook on the Aaa rating of U.S. debt sooner than anticipated as the country’s budget deficit widens.

The extension of tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush, the chance that Congress won’t reduce spending and the outcome of the November elections have increased Moody’s uncertainty over the willingness and ability of the U.S. to reduce its debt, the credit-ratings company said yesterday.

“Although no rating action is contemplated at this time, the time frame for possible future actions appears to be shortening, and the probability of assigning a negative outlook in the coming two years is rising,” wrote Steven Hess, a senior credit officer in New York and the author of the report. The rating remains “stable,” according to the report.

Here was a headline from January:

In April, S&P warned of a possible downgrade because of rising U.S. debt levels:

Sounding the alarm about the country’s deep fiscal problems, Standard & Poor’s on Monday downgraded its outlook on the U.S. credit rating to “negative,” raising the likelihood the U.S. will lose its coveted ‘AAA’ rating as Washington struggles to fix its beleaguered balance sheet….

“We believe there is a material risk that U.S. policymakers might not reach an agreement on how to address medium- and long-term budgetary challenges by 2013; if an agreement is not reached and meaningful implementation is not begun by then, this would in our view render the U.S. fiscal profile meaningfully weaker than that of peer ‘AAA’ sovereigns,” S&P said in the statement.

Get it? Regardless of the current political fight over raising the debt ceiling, we were on a path to a debt downgrade not because we were not incurring enough debt, but because we were incurring too much.

So the current debate over a downgrade due to failing to raise the debt limit is a sideshow. The issue is how we put ourselves on a path to lowering our debt, not how we raise the debt level.

Raising the debt limit without a plan to reduce our debt accomplishes nothing.

Is Obama a pathological liar?--Duh!

CURL: Is Obama a pathological liar? - Washington Times

“Mendacity is a system that we live in.” - Brick, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”

In the weird world that is Washington, men and women say things daily, hourly, even minutely, that they know deep down are simply not true. Inside the Beltway, we all call those utterances “rhetoric.”

But across the rest of the country, plain ol’ folk call ‘em lies. Bald-faced (even bold-faced) lies. Those folks have a tried-and-true way of determining a lie: If you know what you’re saying is patently false, then it’s a lie. Simple.

And lately, the president has been lying so much that his pants could burst into flames at any moment.

His late-evening news conference Friday was a tour de force of flat-out, unadulterated mendacity — and we’ve gotten a first-hand insider’s view of the president’s long list of lies.

“I wanted to give you an update on the current situation around the debt ceiling,” Mr. Obama said at 6:06 p.m. OK, that wasn’t a lie — but just about everything he said after it was, and he knows it.

“I just got a call about a half-hour ago from Speaker [John A.] Boehner, who indicated that he was going to be walking away from the negotiations,” he said.

Not so: “The White House made offers during the negotiations,” said our insider, a person intimately involved in the negotiations, “and then backtracked on those offers after they got heat from Democrats on Capitol Hill. The White House, and its steadfast refusal to follow through on its rhetoric in terms of cutting spending and addressing entitlements, is the real reason that debt talks broke down.”

Mr. Boehner was more blunt in his own news conference: “The discussions we’ve had with the White House have broken down for two reasons. First, they insisted on raising taxes. … Secondly, they refused to get serious about cutting spending and making the tough choices that are facing our country on entitlement reform.”

But back to the lying liar and the lies he told Friday. “You had a bipartisan group of senators, including Republicans who are in leadership in the Senate, calling for what effectively was about $2 trillion above the Republican baseline that theyve been working off of. What we said was give us $1.2 trillion in additional revenues,” Mr. Obama said.

That, too, was a lie. “The White House had already agreed to a lower revenue number — to be generated through economic growth and a more efficient tax code — and then it tried to change the terms of the deal after taking heat from Democrats on Capitol Hill,” our insider said.

The negotiations just before breakdown called for $800 billion in new “revenues” (henceforth, we’ll call those “taxes”), but after the supposedly bipartisan plan came out — and bowing to the powerful liberal bloc on Capitol Hill — Mr. Obama demanded another $400 billion in new taxes: a 50 percent increase.

Mr. Boehner was blunt: “The White House moved the goalpost. There was an agreement, some additional revenues, until yesterday, when the president demanded $400 billion more, which was going to be nothing more than a tax increase on the American people.”

But Mr. Obama, with a straight face, continued. “We then offered an additional $650 billion in cuts to entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security.”

The truth: “Actually, the White House was walking back its commitments on entitlement reforms, too. They kept saying they wanted to ‘go big.’ But their actions never matched their rhetoric,” the insider said.

Now, Mr. Boehner and the real leaders in Congress have taken back the process. He’ll write the bill and pass it along to the president, with this directive, which he reportedly said to Mr. Obama’s face in a short White House meeting Saturday: “Congress writes the laws and you get to decide what you want to sign.”

Watching the one-third-of-a-term-senator-turned-president negotiate brings to mind a child spinning yarns about just how the living room lamp got broken. Now, though, the grown-ups are in charge; the kids have been put to bed. Ten days ago, the president warned the speaker: “Dont call my bluff.”

Well, Mr. Boehner has. He’s holding all the cards — and he’s not bluffing.

• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Some Facts About the Debt Limit

Some Facts About the Debt Limit by John Hinderaker/Powerline

This chart by the Heritage Foundation offers a great deal of information about the history of changes in the debt limit–which, of course, tracks closely with the history of growing federal debt. You can see at a glance how the skyrocketing debt of the last few years smashes all historical precedent:

The chart also responds implicitly to some recent Democratic Party talking points. The Democrats like to point out that the ceiling was raised 18 times during the Reagan administration. That’s right, an average of about once every six months. In other words, those increases were small and highly temporary, as you can see from the chart. It is also noteworthy that the total increase in the debt ceiling during the Reagan years was almost exactly equal to the increase in the debt ceiling during the Clinton administration. Neither, however, is in the same universe with the spiraling debt the Democrats have racked up since they took control of Congress in 2007.

Oh my: CCB bill gets 2-1 approval among adults in CNN poll

Oh my: CCB bill gets 2-1 approval among adults in CNN poll by Ed Morrissey

Tina touched on this in the previous post, but it’s important enough to look into the numbers. Harry Reid might consider the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act the worst piece of legislation in the history of, well, legislation, but he doesn’t get much company among American adults. In the latest CNN poll, two-thirds of voters favor the idea of tying a raise in the debt ceiling to spending caps and a balanced budget amendment, and this isn’t a survey of conservative-leaning likely voters, either. However, if you expect the CNN story about its own poll to highlight this result, then you obviously haven’t been reading CNN long (via Poor Richard’s News):

Americans are hungry for a solution to the debt ceiling debate but there is a big partisan divide that isn’t going to make a solution easy to achieve, according to a new national survey.

And a CNN/ORC International Poll also indicates that while Democrats and independent voters are open to a number of different approaches, Republicans draw the line at tax increases, and many of them oppose raising the nation’s debt ceiling under any circumstances.

“That may create a problem for the Republican party, because most Americans think that GOP has been acting irresponsibly in the debt ceiling talks and they will blame congressional Republicans, not President Barack Obama, if no action is taken on the debt ceiling by August 2,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

One has to go thirteen paragraphs into the story to find CNN addressing this at all:

Republicans like the “cut, cap, and balance” approach to the debt ceiling, as do Democrats and independents. Most Americans support a balanced budget amendment, and most, but not as many, think an amendment is necessary to get federal spending under control. A balanced budget amendment passed the House earlier this week, but a vote in the Senate is expected to fail.

Er, yeah. In other words, a consensus exists across all political lines that the CCB/BBA approach would be a good idea. When one scrolls down to the crosstab sections of the raw data, the consensus becomes very, very clear. The CCB/BBA approach wins majorities in every single demographic — including self-described liberals. Sixty-three percent of Democrats back the House bill. The least supportive age demographic is 50-64YOs at 62/37; the least supportive regional demographic is the Midwest at 61/39. Even those who express opposition to the Tea Party supports it 53/47.

In other words, it’s a clean sweep. Simply put, there is no political demographic at all where the CCB/BBA doesn’t get majority support. The BBA on its own does even better. It gets 3-1 support (74/24), and except for those Tea Party opponents (56%) and self-professed liberals (61/37), doesn’t get below 70% support in any demographic.

Guess what doesn’t get much support? The McConnell plan. Respondents rejected the idea of letting Obama raise the debt ceiling on his own, 34/65. Not one single demographic supports the idea, not even Democrats (40/60) or liberals (34/65).

To quote Barack Obama, the American people are sold — on the Republican plan passed in the House to deal with the debt-ceiling and spending crises. Too bad CNN buried the lede.

The MSM’s ‘Media Matters’ Blackout

The MSM’s ‘Media Matters’ Blackout

While they scramble to bury Rupert Murdoch, they ignore the blatant violation of tax-exempt status by George Soros' pet outfit. by Seton Motley

The MSM is enjoying a very quiet laugh at the expense of one of their competitors: the Fox News Channel. They’re not saying a word about the all-encompassing, possibly illegal abuse Fox News is experiencing at the hands of the George Soros-funded (to the tune of $1M) Media Matters for America.

Media Matters was co-founded by current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, something which she proudly proclaims. Her fellow founder is David Brock, the fallen conservative journalist who thereafter drifted leftward. Media Matters is an alleged media “monitor,” describing itself on its website thusly:

Launched in May 2004, Media Matters for America put in place, for the first time, the means to systematically monitor a cross section of print, broadcast, cable, radio, and Internet media outlets for conservative misinformation (emphasis mine).

Around March of this year, Brock announced Media Matters was dramatically diminishing said “cross section” by openly declaring “war on Fox.” (The official announcement came just after Soros’ $1M check cleared.) The above link is to the only mainstream outlet I could find that mentions this story.

Brock says Media Matters will hound Fox News with “guerrilla warfare and sabotage.” For instance:

Media Matters, Brock said, is assembling opposition research files not only on Fox’s top executives but on a series of midlevel officials. It has hired an activist who has led a successful campaign to press advertisers to avoid Glenn Beck’s show. The group is assembling a legal team to help people who have clashed with Fox to file lawsuits for defamation, invasion of privacy, or other causes. And it has hired two experienced reporters, Joe Strupp and Alexander Zaitchik, to dig into Fox’s operation to help assemble a book on the network, due out in 2012 from Vintage/Anchor.

This isn’t “media analysis.” This is a multi-million dollar leftist PR hit squad. Brock is doing all of this because he claims Fox News has become the titular head of the Republican Party.

And herein lies a legal problem for Media Matters.

Media Matters is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)3 organization. Esteemed attorney C. Boyden Grey explains what that means:

(T)hat is, an organization that can receive tax-deductible contributions to engage in educational activities. The more precise purpose was to counter alleged media bias and so to “identify occurrences of excessive bias in the American media, educate the public as to their existence, and to work with members of the media to reduce them.”

What (Media Matters for America) MMA actually is doing, however, moves far afield from identifying possible bias to mounting a campaign to undermine a major media outlet and to promote the Democratic Party and progressive causes associated with it. Mr. Brock himself has described this new strategy as “a war on Fox,” an effort “to disrupt [Rupert Murdoch‘s] commercial interests” and look for ways to turn regulators against News Corp.’s media outlets.

MMA’s activities should disallow its tax-exempt status in two fundamental ways. First, IRS rulings make clear that attacks on individuals, statement of positions that are unsupported by facts, and use of inflammatory language and other distortions will cost an organization its tax-free status. Second, in declaring “guerrilla warfare” on Fox as the “leader” and “mouthpiece” of the Republican Party and in developing a sophisticated Democratic-leaning media training boot camp, MMA has transformed itself into an aggressive advocate for Democratic and progressive causes and thus produced a second deviation from exempt educational activities.

Per Brock’s own words, if he views Fox News as the head of the Republican Party and has publicly dedicated his organization to going after it, than Media Matters has ceased to be an “educational” entity and has become a political one.

Yet will an investigation commence under President Obama’s IRS? Please don’t halt respiratory activity waiting for that to occur. Racialist shakedown artist Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition — another tax-exempt organization — looks to be a serial violator of IRS law. But as Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly pointed out way back in 2001, that has hardly mattered:

(I)n 1998, the Rainbow Push Coalition cited 1.2 million dollars in travel expenses. But no receipts were provided in the Illinois tax return. You try that.

In 1982, the IRS reviewed Jackson’s nonprofit status. About one million dollars was unaccounted for. Jackson was ordered to repay about seven hundred thousand to the government. It took him years to do it. The IRS did not charge him interest or a penalty. You try to get that deal.

Jesse Jackson is a millionaire but does not have a full-time job. He gets paid to speak and apparently has a steady income flow. He provided his mistress with $40,000 in moving expenses, a $365,000 house and $10,000 a month in child support. Was any of that tax-exempt money? Enquiring minds would like to know.

The government seems to be afraid of Jesse Jackson. He has not been audited since 1982, even though he was a million light. The press is afraid of Jackson, as well. The New York Times played the mistress story on page 26.

Back to Media Matters: the Washington Post reported on Brock last December, but completely by accident. From the article “Outfoxed by Fox News? No Way”:

It takes only an instant for a visitor to Media Matters for America’s headquarters in downtown Washington to sense its mission, if not its methods. A few steps into its modern offices, which resemble a newspaper newsroom, a pair of prominently displayed signs spell out the basics: “Fox Keeps Fear Alive,” reads one; “Restore Sanity, Fight Fox,” reads its companion.

Fighting Fox is what Media Matters does, relentlessly and obsessively. In the six years since its founding, the watchdog group has evolved from an all-purpose scourge of the conservative media into Fox News Channel’s veritable shadow and constant irritant. From well before sunrise to long after it each day, teams of young researchers sift through video clips and transcripts of programs hosted by Fox stars such as Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly to find dubious facts, logical contradictions, and poisonous — at least to Media Matters’ liberal sensibilities — rhetoric.

Juxtapose this gigantic MSM mess with the very recently breaking story of Fox News Channel owner Rupert Murdoch’s problems with his British paper News of the World, which he has now shut down after it came to light that they had hacked telephones in pursuit of stories.

Like Media Matters’ illegal behavior, this too is a big story, and it deserves coverage. Which it has received in heaps.

The media has for months missed that the government should probably yank Media Matters’ tax-exempt status. But they were lightning quick to point out potential government action against Murdoch and Fox News. On ABC’s This Week, Stephen Brill helpfully pointed out:

Well, there is an issue here in the United States. … News Corp has a lot of FCC licenses. There is still a clause in the federal communications law that requires that you have to be of good character to have such a license. And I was reading last night just in the approval that they gave to Comcast to take over NBC, there was actually some guy who challenged the character of Comcast, because when they installed a cable system somewhere they had hurt his building and hadn’t paid for it. And this became a big legal proceeding, actually.

So, here, I am reasonably certain that someone, you know, maybe someone from the political left or whoever, is going to make a big deal of, you know, whether they are fit to have their FCC licenses under the current management.

Yet another opportunity for leftists to improperly and irresponsibly slam their opponents with the massive hammer of government — and it’s the Jurassic Press pointing out the opening. But when leftists are in apparent violation of the law and government action is actually warranted … again, don’t hold your breath.

Seton Motley is a writer, activist, commentator, consultant, political/policy strategist, lecturer, and the president of Less Government, an organization dedicated to, well, less government. Including protecting the First Amendment from governmental assault. He's also editor in chief of, a project of the Center for Individual Freedom.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What happened to global warming?--Maybe our own pollution is cooling the planet

What happened to global warming? - Science Fair -

What happened to global warming?

This week's heat wave notwithstanding, scientists have been puzzled as to why global warming has occurred at a slower pace since 1998, following decades of increasing temperatures.

A new study out today in the journal Science reports the cause could be an increase in the amount of aerosols – tiny, airborne solid and liquid particles from both natural and man-made sources – high up in the stratosphere.

In the study, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other agencies found that an increase in stratospheric aerosols decreased the global warming that would have otherwise occurred by 25 percent since 1998.

"There was less warming than you would have had without the aerosols," says study co-author John Daniel of NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo.

Sea salt, dust and volcanic ash are three common types of natural aerosols; these airborne particles can also come from man-made sources from the burning of fossil fuels.

"Most of the global warming of the past half-century has been driven by continuing increases in anthropogenic greenhouse gases," the study reports, "but natural aerosols from particular 'colossal' volcanic eruptions have significantly cooled the global climate at times, including for example the 'year without a summer' experienced after the eruption of the Tambora volcano in 1815 and notable cooling after the Pinatubo eruption in 1991."

Daniel added that he wouldn't have thought that the aerosols would still be a factor now, this long after the 1991 volcanic eruption of Pinatubo.

The stratospheric aerosol increase could also be due in part to human emissions of sulfur precursors (such as sulfur dioxide from burning coal), the authors point out in the study.

This study follows another study earlier this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which found that China doubled its coal consumption from the years 2003 to 2007, leading to a huge increase in sulfur emissions that may have had a cooling effect on the planet. The researchers in that study suggested that this cooling effect may have counteracted ongoing warming due to increased carbon dioxide concentrations, permitting natural forces to predominate the planet's temperature.

Will there be a point in the future at which the impact of aerosols on global temperatures will be less of a factor than it is now?

"What happens in the future depends on the cause of the aerosols," says Daniel. "If it's volcanic, it depends on what volcanoes do. If its sulfur, it depends on what our pollution is."

The paper does not address how man-made versus natural activities contribute to aerosol creation, which they say is a question to be explored in further studies.

As for aerosols' impact on climate models used to estimate future global warming, according to the study, "climate model projections neglecting these changes would continue to overestimate the … global warming in coming decades if these aerosols remain present at current values or increase."

Once again, Paul Ryan takes on Obama

Once again, Paul Ryan takes on Obama By Jennifer Rubin

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) again and again has proved himself to be the most effective proponent of conservative economic principles.

Last night he sent around to budget committee colleagues a memo, a copy of which was obtained by Right Turn, setting forth some key facts and arguments. His central point is that “balance” doesn’t require tax hikes. As he puts it, “The House already passed a budget that puts us on the path to balance, and will vote next week on a Balanced Budget Amendment. To get to fiscal balance, the two critical elements required: spending restraint and economic growth. Tax hikes adversely undercut both of these key ingredients.”

The memo then provides some much needed context for the arguments on the debt ceiling:

A “Balanced Plan”?

l During the past two years Democrats enacted huge tax increases (see today’s Wall Street Journal editorial, “Taxes Upon Taxes”), which were accompanied by unprecedented increases in spending, deficits, and debt.

l While insisting on additional tax increases, the Obama Administration opposed revisiting the huge spending increases in the new health care law or implementing fundamental entitlement reform that would get spending on these programs under control.

l The last time there was a bipartisan budget agreement, it balanced the budget by cutting spending and cutting taxes. The 1997 bipartisan budget agreement between President Clinton and a Republican Congress balanced the budget by bringing spending down to 18.2% of gross domestic product.

Taxes and Revenues (Americans are not under-taxed)

l Expiration of 2001/2003 Tax Relief. Taxes will rise by $3.5 trillion if the 2001/2003 tax relief, the AMT patch, and the estate tax compromise expire at the end of 2012 as scheduled under current law.

l Health Care Law’s Tax Increases. The health care bill adds another $813 billion in taxes over 10 years. In addition to these taxes, other legislation has increased taxes (the SCHIP extension law included tax increases of $75 billion).

l Tax Engineering. The Obama Administration wants to extend the one-year temporary payroll tax cut (total cost of $112 billion), while increasing taxes on small businesses.

l Tax Increases and the Top Rate. As a result, these tax increases push the effective top rate from 35% today to 44.8%.

l Current Tax Burden. Under current law (before expiration of 2001/2003 tax relief and implementation of the new health care taxes), the top 1% of income taxpayers (over $380,000 in annual income) already pay 38% of income taxes. The bottom half of income taxpayers pay 3% of income taxes.

l Revenues Growing Without Tax Increases. Despite a weak economy and the temporary reduction in Social Security taxes, according to CBO, revenues grew by 8.5% through the first 9 months of this year and expect revenues in 2011 will be $75 billion to $85 billion higher than they estimated in March.

l Republican Budget & Revenues. Under the House Republican budget, which extended tax relief and repealed tax increases in the new health care law, revenues still grow by nearly $2 trillion over the next 10 years.

l President’s Budget & Tax Increases. The President’s budget increases taxes by $1.2 trillion.

Democrats and the left punditocracy often argue that “all” President Obama wants is to go back to the Clinton tax rate. If only. And if we are to take Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) seriously, Senate Democrats want a $2 trillion tax increase.

Ryan makes the case that the problem is spending and the ensuing debt, neither of which Obama is willing to seriously address:

Spending is the Problem

l 24% Increase in Base Spending. Non-defense discretionary spending grew by 24% for the first two years of the Obama Administration, adding $734 billion in spending over the next 10 years.

l Health Care Law Spending Increases. The new health care law included $1.4 trillion increase in spending, including expanding eligibility in Medicaid by one-third and creating a brand new health care entitlement.

l Stimulus. CBO currently puts the stimulus bill’s cost at $821 billion.

l Record Total Spending. The Federal government will spend $3.6 trillion this year, 24% of gross domestic product (GDP) and the highest burden on the economy since World War II. Spending has historically averaged a little over 20% of GDP.

l President’s Budget & Spending. According to CBO, the President’s budget never spends below 23% of GDP and by the end of the decade is right back at 24% of GDP.

l Republican Budget. The House Republican Budget would cut $6.2 trillion in spending from the President’s budget.

Deficits and Debt

l $1 Trillion Deficits. The deficit is on track to exceed $1 trillion this year, the third year in a row that deficits have exceeded $1 trillion.

l President’s Budget & “Framework.” According to CBO, under the President’s budget, annual deficits never fall below $700 billion and end the decade exceeding $1 trillion. When asked about the President’s April 13th new budget framework, Director Elmendorf testified, “We don’t estimate speeches.”

l Debt Explosion. Since President Obama took office, the total debt has grown from $10.6 trillion to $14.3 trillion, nearly a $4 trillion increase. This year total debt will exceed the size of the economy.

l Republican Budget. The Republican budget reduces the deficit by $4.4 trillion, puts the budget on a path to balance, and begins to reduce debt held by the public as a burden on the economy by 2014.

The president in public wants to operate on platitudes and generalities. Work together. A balanced approach. Eat your peas. The White House is avoiding specifics for a reason: The facts reinforce the public’s sense that the real issue is that we are spending too much. Republicans would do well to speak in specifics and to emphasize that real “balance” means spending at a slower rate (you’d think Ryan’s plan would actually halt the upward climb in spending; it merely restrains it a bit more than Obama’s) and keeping the size of the public sector in check so the private sector can grow and create jobs.

Once again we see that Ryan is the most effective spokesman and advocate for Republicans, in part because he is thoroughly versed in the details. Imagine if he were to debate Obama. In the fall of 2012. On national TV. With the presidency at stake. Is there any doubt who would come off better?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Happy 40th Birthday, Allison Krause

(Great song--hit play and let it load and buffer for uninterrupted play)

The Sistine Debt Ceiling by Ramirez/Powerline

The Sistine Debt Ceiling by John Hinderaker
Michael Ramirez reminds us, in typically entertaining fashion, that the problem we face isn’t the debt ceiling, it’s the debt; and the debt problem is a spending problem:

White House stokes debt-ceiling crisis

White House stokes debt-ceiling crisis By Jennifer Rubin

A Republican aide e-mails me: “The Speaker, Sen. Reid and Sen. McConnell all agreed on the general framework of a two-part plan. A short-term increase (with cuts greater than the increase), combined with a committee to find long-term savings before the rest of the increase would be considered. Sen. Reid took the bipartisan plan to the White House and the President said no.”

If this is accurate the president is playing with fire. By halting a bipartisan deal he imperils the country’s finances and can rightly be accused of putting partisanship above all else. The ONLY reason to reject a short-term, two-step deal embraced by both the House and Senate is to avoid another approval-killing face-off for President Obama before the election. Next to pulling troops out of Afghanistan to fit the election calendar, this is the most irresponsible and shameful move of his presidency.

As for the House, why not pass the deal that Sen. Harry Reid agreed to, send it to the Senate and leave town? Enough already.

Election 2012: Romney 43% Obama 42%

Election 2012: Romney 43% Obama 42%

In a very early look at Election 2012, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are essentially even.

A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows Romney attracting 43% of the vote while Obama earns support from 42%. In April, Obama held a five-point edge over Romney.

President Obama currently trails a Generic Republican by six points, 47% to 41%. In match-ups against individual Republicans, the president picks up between 41% and 49% of the vote no matter which Republican is presented as a potential opponent.

The match-up surveys of 1,000 Likely Voters were conducted from June 24-July 17, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error for the surveys is +/- 3% with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Romney leads by seven among men but trails by five among women. The president leads among voters under 40 while Romney has the edge among older voters.

The former Governor leads by eight among unaffiliated voters and picks up 78% of the Republican vote. The president earns 84% of the vote from his own party.

Polls conducted a year-and-a-half before an election provide a snapshot of where things are today but give little indication of what the mood might be on Election Day. If the economy substantially improves before November 2012, President Obama will be heavily favored to win re-election. If the opposite happens and the country endures a double-dip recession, just about any Republican challenger would be favored. If the economy stays as it is today, the race could be very competitive.

A good measure of the president’s re-election prospects is his Job Approval rating among likely voters. His final vote total is likely to be very close to his final Job Approval figures.

Romney leads the polls for the GOP nomination among Republican Primary voters. However, it is far too early for the polls to give a sense of who is likely to emerge as the Republican nominee. In 2008, John McCain never took the lead in a national primary poll until December 31, 2007.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Operation Fast and Furious: Designed to Promote Gun Control

Operation Fast and Furious: Designed to Promote Gun Control by Katie Pavlich

"Internal ATF emails seem to suggest that ATF agents were counseled to highlight a link between criminals and certain semi-automatic weapons in order to bolster a case for a rule like the one the DOJ announced yesterday [Monday]."

Townhall has obtained the email which states "Can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same FfL and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales. Thanks Mark R. Chait Assistant Director Field Operations."

The rule:

“The international expansion and increased violence of transnational criminal networks pose a significant threat to the United States. Federal, state and foreign law enforcement agencies have determined that certain types of semi-automatic rifles – greater than .22 caliber and with the ability to accept a detachable magazine – are highly sought after by dangerous drug trafficking organizations and frequently recovered at violent crime scenes near the Southwest Border. This new reporting measure -- tailored to focus only on multiple sales of these types of rifles to the same person within a five-day period -- will improve the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to detect and disrupt the illegal weapons trafficking networks responsible for diverting firearms from lawful commerce to criminals and criminal organizations. These targeted information requests will occur in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas to help confront the problem of illegal gun trafficking into Mexico and along the Southwest Border.”

Once again, liberals and the Obama Administration are focused on guns rather than criminals and federal government incomptence. Operation Fast and Furious is looking more and more like a set up from the beginning to push Obama and Holder's radical anti-Second Amendment agenda as they used law abiding gun shop owners to enable government officals to break the law, then turned around and blamed the very same gun shops for illegal gun trafficking, despite those shops being forced by ATF to help ATF agents carry out Operation Fast and Furious, and now, those shops are being punished through new Justice Department gun control measures. Obama and Holder both have long records of being outspoken opponents of gunrights and both support the reinstatement of the "assault" rifle ban, better described as a ban on semi-automatic rifles. From the June issue of Townhall Magazine:

President Obama is calling for "commonsense" gun reforms, but as a man with a long a history of acting to limit Second Amendment rights and advocating gun control who tapped an attorney general with the same ideology -- and possibly the biggest gun trafficking scandal in U.S. history with his name written all over it -- is the president really calling for reforms or more government control?

As an Illinois state senator, Obama endorsed and spoke in support of an outright ban on ownership of all handguns and favored the licensing and registering of gun owners. Before his run for public office in 1996, Obama filled out a questionnaire expressing his support for a ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.

Meanwhile, Rep. Darrell Issa and Senator Charles Grassley continue their investigation of Operation Fast and Furious and have requested detailed communications records, including emails, memos, briefing papers and handwritten notes from and between senior DOJ officials in two letters sent to Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday. Records referring to large firearms trafficking within the Phoenix ATF office have also been requested. This information must be provided by July 18 at noon:

As our investigation into Operation Fast and Furious has progressed, we have learned that senior officals at the Department of Justice, including Senate-confirmed political appointees, were unquestionably aware of the implementation of this reckless program. Therefore, it is necessary to review commncations between and among these senior officials. As such, please provide all records relating to communications between and among the following individuals regarding Operation Fast and Furious:

1) David Ogden, Former Deputy Attorney General
2) Gary Grindler, Office of the Attorney General and Former Acting Deputy Attorney General
3) James Cole, Deputy Attorney General (editors note: Cole issued the new reporting rules for border state gun shops Monday)
4) Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General
5) Kenneth Blanco, Deputy Assistant Attorney General
6) Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General
7) John Keeney, Deputy Assistant Attorney General
8) Matt Axelrod, Associate Deputy Attorney General
9) Ed Siskel, Former Associate Deputy Attorney General
10) Brad Smith, Office of the Deputy Attorney General
11) Kevin Carwile, Section Chief, Capital Case Unit
12) Joseph Cooley, Criminal Fraud Section

Generic Congressional Ballot: Republicans 44%, Democrats 38%

Generic Congressional Ballot

Generic Congressional Ballot: Republicans 44%, Democrats 38%

For the second week in a row, Republicans hold a six-point lead over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot, this time for the week ending Sunday, July 17.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 44% of Likely U.S. Voters would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate, while 38% would choose the Democrat instead. This is identical to findings last week. The GOP's support has remained in the narrow range of 41% to 44% since late March, while Democrats have earned 37% to 40% in the same period.

Republicans have led on the Congressional Generic Ballot ever week since June 2009, leading by as much as 12 points and as little as two. The week before Election Day last November, support for Republicans peaked at 51%, the highest level of support either party has enjoyed in the last two years, but GOP support tapered off since then.

Democrats enjoyed a seven-point lead on the Generic Ballot - 42% to 35% - when Barack Obama took office as president in late January 2009, but their support has generally remained in the mid- to upper 30s since June of that year. Republicans began to close the gap following the stimulus debate in February 2009.

Republicans lead by 15 points among male voters and run even with Democrats among female voters. GOP support is higher among voters over 30.

Voters not affiliated with either of the major parties prefer the Republican by 40% to 25% margin, but another 34% of that group remain undecided or lean towards a third-party candidate.

Business owners 'fear' Obama, says casino owner Wynn

Business owners 'fear' Obama, says casino owner Wynn - The Oval: Tracking the Obama presidency

Well, we don't think casino magnate Steve Wynn will be attending any President Obama fundraisers in Las Vegas.

Wynn blasted Obama on a recent conference call with investors, saying business people are sitting on their money out of "fear of the president."

"I'm telling you that the business community in this company is frightened to death of the weird political philosophy of the President of the United States," Wynn said. "And until he's gone, everybody's going to be sitting on their thumbs."

A partial transcript:

"Everybody complains about how much money is on the side in America. You bet.

And until we change the tempo and the conversation from Washington, it's not going to change. And those of us who have business opportunities and the capital to do it are going to sit in fear of the President.

And a lot of people don't want to say that. They'll say, 'oh God, don't be attacking Obama.' Well, this is Obama's deal, and it's Obama that's responsible for this fear in America.

The guy keeps making speeches about redistribution, and maybe we ought to do something to businesses that don't invest or holding too much money. We haven't heard that kind of talk except from pure socialists.

Everybody's afraid of the government, and there's no need to soft peddling it, it's the truth. It is the truth. And that's true of Democratic businessman and Republican businessman, and I am a Democratic businessman and I support Harry Reid. I support Democrats and Republicans.

And I'm telling you that the business community in this company is frightened to death of the weird political philosophy of the President of the United States. And until he's gone, everybody's going to be sitting on their thumbs.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Presidential flummery and questions left unasked

Presidential flummery and questions left unasked By: Hugh Hewitt

Bravo, Jake Tapper.

Finally from a member of the increasingly supine White House press corps came a question that demanded of the president specificity as to his alleged willingness to "upset his base."

Tapper asked the president on Friday to "tell us one structural reform that you are willing to make to one of these entitlement programs that would have a major impact on the deficit?"

The president spoke a long time in response but provided no such specificity about even one such reform, revealing again that the would-be Emperor of the Big Deal has no plan beyond a political operation to assign blame for any unpleasant consequences of a collision with the existing debt ceiling.

Tapper prefaced his excellent question with the not-so-excellent statement that "we have an idea of the taxes that you would like to see raised on corporations and on Americans in the top two tax brackets," and that really isn't true. We actually don't know the specifics of the president's tax hike list and we don't know what sort of "revenues" he thinks these tax hikes would bring.

Most suspect that all of the president's tax agenda wouldn't raise anything close to the amount of money he implies it would, and the impact on economic growth of another round of tax hikes is never discussed by the president or pushed by the overwhelmingly left-of-center, recovering JournoList fraternity covering the debt crisis in detail.

The few honest brokers like Tapper get a question a month, which is buried under an avalanche of asides and self-referential quips about AARP cards and the president's wealth.

The key questions are what federal expenditures does the president want to cut and by how much, and what taxes does he seek to raise, by how much, and what revenue would those hikes generate?

Search for any article that begins with those facts and you will have found the rarest of Manhattan-Beltway media elite products, an unspun account of the president's "plan."

There is no such plan, of course, any more than there is a budget from the Democrat-controlled Senate. This massive abdication of responsibility, of basic seriousness, goes unreported because it does not reflect well on President Obama and the White House press corps knows that access depends on not embarrassing the boss.

But there is no excuse for the leadership of the House GOP not to have hammered this message home on many occasions throughout every day.

"Send us your nondefense spending cuts, Mr. President," Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor ought to be saying, again and again and again on every cable and radio talk show that will have them.

"Come clean, Mr. President, with your list of tax hikes and the revenues you say they will raise."

The president avoids specifics because the numbers in his world don't add up in everyone else's universe. It is all a giant head fake, a show for the adoring scribblers and broadcasters, something to write about other than the awful reality of a hemorrhaging federal budget.

Rarely have so many reporters done so little to illumine so important an issue. Obama's devastation of the economy is rivaled only by his damage done to the Manhattan-Beltway media elite's credibility.

Examiner Columnist Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who blogs daily at

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

No big budget deal? Blame Obama, not Boehner

No big budget deal? Blame Obama, not Boehner

President Barack Obama could have done two things that might have saved his Mother of All Budget Deals.

First, he could have embraced market-centered, consumer -focused reforms to Medicare. That was about as likely as him accepting an Obamacare rollback. Second, he could have agreed — as House Speaker John Boehner and Republicans suggested — to sharply reduce tax rates in return for fewer special tax deductions/breaks/loopholes/subsidies. Recall that is what his own debt commission recommended.

Instead, he apparently offered to keep top individual rates where they are, at 35 percent, in exchange for tax reform. Now that’s a big tax hike. But it’s also revealing. As a GOP source on the Hill put it:

(Use link for article with charts)
Their fierce insistence on higher taxes is beyond bizarre. … The bipartisan consensus on tax reform (broader base & lower rates) was championed by President’s fiscal commission, and yet now is being rebuked by the President. Lowering top rates that would help make America more competitive was too large a leap for a true class warrior.

Obama agrees with the left-of-center consensus that America is dramatically undertaxed. Those tax rates from his fiscal commission would have resulted in revenue higher than the historical 18-19 percent of GDP, as seen in this chart:

(Use link for article with charts)

But 21 percent of GDP — the highest in U.S. history — isn’t nearly enough for the Obamacrats. Even if Obamacare is successful in bringing down health costs, top liberal policy wonks think far more revenue will be needed to deal with an aging America. First, this budget from the Economic Policy Institute. It sees revenue at 24.1 percent of GDP, which still leaves a huge budget gap:

Then there is this plan from the George Soros-backed Center for American Progress, which operates as the White House’s outside think tank. It sees revenue at 23.8 percent of GDP, even adding a carbon tax and transaction tax into the mix.

(Use link for article with charts)

In short, Obama sees a need for a permanently bigger government and a lot more tax revenue to fund it. Had Obama agreed with his own debt commission and Republicans, a big agreement was possible. Or he could have proposed real reforms to entitlements. But he declined and there wasn’t a mega-deal. Don’t blame Boehner for that.

Where are the jobs?

Issue could cost Obama his job By Salena Zito

Where are the jobs?

Not the stimulus signs, rhetoric about "shovel-ready" economic voodoo or propping-up of an anemic manufacturing sector, but the real jobs?

Polls at the beginning of July showed President Obama in an increasingly hazardous position with voters on jobs and the economy.

A McClatchy-Marist poll put his economic approval rating at just 37 percent among registered voters. A Gallup poll found U.S. economic confidence had plummeted by 7 percent since June.

Last year, Obama used Pennsylvania's Allentown Metal Works as a backdrop to tout his stimulus and job-creation success. A couple of months later, the plant closed.

Vice President Joe Biden told a Pittsburgh crowd that 250,000 to 500,000 jobs would be created each month by the start of last summer. The numbers never even came close.

To date, this administration's handling of our economy is a failure.

"Excepting some unanticipated major event, the election will largely ride on the state of the economy and public perceptions of how Obama has handled it," said Mark Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University.

All the political opposition must do is seed as much doubt as possible, early and often, about Obama's economic leadership, and he will have a political problem more potent than his rhetorical skills.

On a "Factory Belt" tour last month, Obama spoke about new worker-training partnerships between government and academia in political battlegrounds Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

It was an attempt to project confidence in our economic future -- but it's hard to sell glacial-speed job growth.

"In the short term, there may be some support for the president because he is 'doing something' about the economy," explained Rozell, "but, ultimately, the real test is whether economic circumstances improve in time for election day next year."

In politics, perception is what counts.

Last weekend, this White House Council of Economic Advisers released its seventh quarterly report. It showed the Obama stimulus added or saved fewer than 2.4 million jobs -- at a cost to taxpayers of more than $250,000 per job.

Most Americans cannot understand how that can be considered sound economic reasoning. They find it difficult to rally around what looks, to them, like foolishness.

The private sector has regained about 30 percent of the manufacturing jobs it lost in the recession -- jobs created despite regulatory policies detrimental to manufacturing's expansion.

Add the administration's health-care policies (which drive up the cost of employment by increasing medical insurance costs) and environmental policies (which drive up the price of energy, particularly in Western Pennsylvania, where coal is a major source), and you can see why the private sector is skittish about enlarging payrolls.

That means the president has not only a small-business problem, but a blue-collar-worker problem. Both are sources of independent voters so essential to winning elections.

Add, too, the Dodd-Frank bill, which Larry Lindsey, former Federal Reserve governor, says "has made it much more difficult for banks to make business loans, as more of their resources must be devoted to regulatory compliance and (the) building of capital than to granting loans."

Partnerships are the key to economic growth. The great 20th-century economist Joseph Schumpeter described entrepreneurs as "gap-fillers and input-completers," meaning they bring together everything needed to create output and jobs in one place -- basically by partnering with various groups.

It's better that entrepreneurs, not government or academia, be central to this process because they typically know how to get things done, risk their own money and face real consequences if they fail.

"While the president often talks about having 'created' jobs ... he didn't," explained Lindsey. "Such jobs that have been gained have been produced by risk-taking entrepreneurs."

All that "shovel-ready" stimulus money filled many state budgets, but not so many private-sector job openings.

The president's resume includes little that indicates he knows how to create jobs -- which may, in the end, contribute to him losing his job.

Salena Zito can be reached at or 412-320-7879

Read more: Issue could cost Obama his job - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review