Thursday, March 31, 2011

HURT: Tea party not cause of budget stalemate

From Charles Hurt at The Washington Times:

To hear Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tell it, this unprecedented budget crisis should all be blamed on the tea party's supposed iron grip on the Republican Party.
"The infighting between the tea party and the rest of the Republican Party, including the Republican leadership in Congress, is keeping our negotiating partner from the negotiating table," claims Mr. Reid, the master of farce who leads Senate Democrats.
Only a true political Ponzi schemer would twist facts like this with a straight face — all part of his party's strategy to portray tea partyers and those who represent them as somehow "extreme."
In the first place, the extravagant overspending going back decades and the spineless theft from future generations can be blamed only on the slick-haired jackals who have roamed the halls of Congress for years — both Democrat and Republican.
The breathlessly patriotic Americans who make up today's tea party — wearing their red, white and blue sweaters and tricorn hats — can hardly be blamed for any of this. Except perhaps for not rising up sooner in armed outrage.
As for blaming tea partyers for the breakdown in the current budget process, Mr. Reid's calumny becomes full-fledged fantasy.
Let's review the facts.
Over the past year and a half, the vast majority of which Democrats held total control over Congress, Democrats failed to produce a single spending bill or even a simple budget.
When Democrats in the House managed to get a spending proposal through the lower chamber, those bills only went on to the Senate to die under Mr. Reid's failed leadership.
Not a single spending bill actually made it to the desk of the president, who would have gladly signed whatever his party sent him.
Come November, voters — filled with tea party rage — booted Reid's party from power in the House, severely curtailed it in the Senate and nearly tossed him out of office.
Uncowed by the voice of voters, Mr. Reid is back at it, playing the same games, blaming House Republicans and the "extreme" voters they represent for a crisis he was instrumental in creating.
As it stands, the only party involved in present negotiations that has actually produced a spending proposal are the very House Republicans whom Mr. Reid blames. That bill was not near enough to end the government's fiscal crisis, but it was a good first step and certainly austere by Washington's standards.
Of course, that proposal suffered the same fate as all the ones before it — death in the Senate on Mr. Reid's watch.
Since then, he has done nothing to produce a viable alternative.
Instead, he talks about negotiating with Republicans from both chambers to cobble together some kind of grand compromise behind closed doors.
In addition to making a mockery of the message voters sent Congress last fall, Mr. Reid's strategy is exactly the opposite of the open and honest manner in which House Speaker John A. Boehner conducted last month's spending debate in the House.
But in the end, the only way Mr. Reid gets this done is the only way he ever gets things done. In a dark alley, where horses can be traded and vast amounts of your money can be used to buy the votes of individual lawmakers.
If history in this town is any guide, that's exactly how this current impasse will be broken and next year we will be right back where we are now.

Harry Reid: "Country Doesn't Care Much About The Tea Party"

At RealClearPolitics:

Harry Reid:
"The country doesn't care much about the tea party. There is a new CNN poll out today that says this very directly. Well more than -- let's put it this way: The people who care about the tea party are a very small number who care about them positively," Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said on the Senate floor this morning.

Follow the link to listen to the video of this disingenuous SOB!-SP

Why I Won't Vote to Raise the Debt Limit

Everyone in Washington knows how to cut spending. The time to start is now.

Americans have built the single greatest nation in all of human history. But America's exceptionalism was not preordained. Every generation has had to confront and solve serious challenges and, because they did, each has left the next better off. Until now.
Our generation's greatest challenge is an economy that isn't growing, alongside a national debt that is. If we fail to confront this, our children will be the first Americans ever to inherit a country worse off than the one their parents were given.
Current federal policies make it harder for job creators to start and grow businesses. Taxes on individuals are complicated and set to rise in less than two years. Corporate taxes will soon be the highest in the industrialized world. Federal agencies torment job creators with an endless string of rules and regulations.
On top of all this, we have an unsustainable national debt. Leaders of both parties have grown our government for decades by spending money we didn't have. To pay for it, they borrowed $4 billion a day, leaving us with today's $14 trillion debt. Half of that debt is held by foreign investors, mostly China. And there is no plan to stop. In fact, President Obama's latest budget request spends more than $46 trillion over the next decade. Under this plan, public debt will equal 87% of our economy in less than 10 years. This will scare away job creators and lead to higher taxes, higher interest rates and greater inflation.
Betting on America used to be a sure thing, but job creators see the warning signs that our leaders ignore. Even the world's largest bond fund, PIMCO, recently dumped its holdings of U.S. debt.
We're therefore at a defining moment in American history. In a few weeks, we will once again reach our legal limit for borrowing, the so-called debt ceiling. The president and others want to raise this limit. They say it is the mature, responsible thing to do.
In fact, it's nothing more than putting off the tough decisions until after the next election. We cannot afford to continue waiting. This may be our last chance to force Washington to tackle the central economic issue of our time.
"Raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure." So said then-Sen. Obama in 2006, when he voted against raising the debt ceiling by less than $800 billion to a new limit of $8.965 trillion. As America's debt now approaches its current $14.29 trillion limit, we are witnessing leadership failure of epic proportions.
I will vote to defeat an increase in the debt limit unless it is the last one we ever authorize and is accompanied by a plan for fundamental tax reform, an overhaul of our regulatory structure, a cut to discretionary spending, a balanced-budget amendment, and reforms to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Chad Crowe
There is still time to accomplish all this. Rep. Dave Camp has already introduced proposals to lower and simplify our tax rates, close loopholes, and make permanent low rates on capital gains and dividends. Even Mr. Obama has endorsed the idea of lowering our corporate tax rate. Sen. Rand Paul, meanwhile, has a bill that would require an up-or-down vote on "major" regulations, those that cost the economy $100 million or more. And the House has already passed a spending plan this year that lowered discretionary spending by $862 billion over 10 years.
Such reductions are important, but nondefense discretionary spending is a mere 19% of the budget. Focusing on this alone would lead to draconian cuts to essential and legitimate programs. To get our debt under control, we must reform and save our entitlement programs.
No changes should be made to Medicare and Social Security for people who are currently in the system, like my mother. But people decades away from retirement, like me, must accept that reforms are necessary if we want Social Security and Medicare to exist at all by the time we are eligible for them.
Finally, instead of simply raising the debt limit, we should reassure job creators by setting a firm statutory cap on our public debt-to-GDP ratio. A comprehensive plan would wind down our debt to sustainable levels of approximately 60% within a decade and no more than half of the economy shortly thereafter. If Congress fails to meet these debt targets, automatic across-the-board spending reductions should be triggered to close the gap. These public debt caps could go in tandem with a Constitutional balanced budget amendment.
Some say we will go into default if we don't increase the debt limit. But if we simply raise it once again, without a real plan to bring spending under control and get our economy growing, America faces the very real danger of a catastrophic economic crisis.
I know that by writing this, I am inviting political attack. When I proposed reforms to Social Security during my campaign, my opponent spent millions on attack ads designed to frighten seniors. But demagoguery is the last refuge of the spineless politician willing to do anything to win the next election.
Whether they admit it or not, everyone in Washington knows how to solve these problems. What is missing is the political will to do it. I ran for the U.S. Senate because I want my children to inherit what I inherited: the greatest nation in human history. It's not too late. The 21st century can also be the American Century. Our people are ready. Now it's time for their leaders to join them.
Mr. Rubio, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Florida.

Bayh: Yeah, ObamaCare doesn’t address rising health-care costs

From Ed Morrissey at Hot Air:

Laura Ingraham gets Evan Bayh to admit the obvious on her show yesterday, and holds him accountable for allowing ObamaCare to pass.  Bayh laughs that off by saying “that’s true of anyone who voted for [it],” to which Ingraham responds that Bayh’s the only one on her show at the moment.  The former Senator from Indiana described himself as “50/50″ on ObamaCare prior to his vote allowing it to proceed to passage, because it didn’t address what Democrats claimed as the central point of ObamaCare — cost control:
The real issue that was not addressed, Laura, that you’ve raised now, and I think appropriately, is the cost, the cost to both the government and to your listeners. We need to take steps now to get the costs of health care under control. That was not dealt with really in an aggressive way in this legislation. I think it now needs to be.
If ObamaCare didn’t deal with rising health-care costs, then why pass it at all?  Bayh gets a little foggy on this point, claiming that Congress needed to do something about health care.  This is no mere academic point, either, as Ingraham’s right about Bayh casting a critical vote to allow ObamaCare to proceed, as did every Democrat who contributed to the 60-vote cloture approval that allowed it to pass.  If the White House and Congressional leadership insisted that the bill reduced costs and Bayh knew differently, why did he vote for the bill at all?  Better yet, where was Bayh at the time?  Shouldn’t he have been on every nightly news broadcast, telling voters that his party’s leadership was at best very, very wrong about the nature of the bill?
Now Bayh wants Congress to produce additional reform on top of ObamaCare that will actually reduce costs.  If they produce another bill expanding government control that doesn’t address costs, will Bayh let us know this time?  Or will he merely carry the party line until the truth becomes so obvious that he can’t pretend it doesn’t exist, as he did the last time?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

GOP frosh to Harry Reid: You’ve failed

At Politico:

Rick Crawford, left, and Harry Reid are pictured in this composite. | AP Photos
'Your record on spending in the Senate is one of failure,' Rick Crawford wrote to Harry Reid. | AP PhotoClose
Freshman House GOP members will send a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday ratcheting up the pressure to pass a continuing resolution for the remainder of the fiscal year that “makes reasonable, responsible spending cuts”— and promise to protest daily until he does.
“Mr. Reid, your record on spending in the Senate is one of failure,” says the letter, written by Arkansas Rep. Rick Crawford, a former radio broadcaster. “You have failed to pass a budget, failed to restrain spending, and failed to put our country on sound fiscal footing. We do not accept your failure as our own. The American people did not send us here to fail.
The letter has been signed by 30 members of the freshman class so far.
“Mr. Reid, we are letting you know that we will rally on the Senate steps every day until you pass a long-term Continuing Resolution. We call on all Americans to join our fight in restoring our country’s fiscal health,” the freshmen write in the letter, which they plan to release at a press conference near the Capitol steps Wednesday morning.
In trying to flip the conventional narrative of government shutdown politics, the freshmen are engaging in their first publicly organized effort to use the strength of their numbers as a class.
Besides Crawford, among the freshmen lawmakers to sign the letter are Diane Black (TN-06), Francisco “Quico” Canseco (TX-23), Scott DesJarlais (TN-04), Vicky Hartzler (MO-4), Mike Pompeo (KS-04), Jim Renacci (OH-16), Michael Grimm (NY-13), Frank Guinta (NH-1), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-3), Billy Long (MO-7), Tim Scott (SC-01) and Stephen Fincher (TN-08).
A full text of the letter follows, complete with a telling sign-off: “Bound together and determined.”
Mr. Reid,
We the undersigned call on you and the Senate to pass a long-term Continuing Resolution; a resolution that hears the calls of the American people and makes reasonable, responsible spending cuts.
Mr. Reid, your record on spending in the Senate is one of failure. You have failed to pass a budget, failed to restrain spending, and failed to put our country on sound fiscal footing.
We do not accept your failure as our own.
The American people did not send us here to fail. Make no mistake: any government shutdown is the result of your lack of leadership. America has a $14 trillion debt and you offered a mere $6 billion in cuts. The House heard the calls of the American people and offered $61 billion in cuts, but the Senate has not sent us a Continuing Resolution in return.
We have received nothing from the Senate except denials of the dire straits of our nation’s fiscal health.
The House of Representatives is accomplishing what we were elected to do. We’ve cut spending. We’ve terminated wasteful programs. We’ve funded the government.
Mr. Reid, we are letting you know that we will rally on the Senate steps every day until you pass a long-term Continuing Resolution. We call on all Americans to join our fight in restoring our country’s fiscal health.
The House of Representatives is doing our job, Mr. Reid. The Senate needs to start doing theirs.
Mr. Reid, it’s time to pass a bill.
Bound together and determined,

Read more:

DeMint: ‘Unless the Tea Party Stays Active, We Will Wilt’

From Robert Costa at NRO:

Washington — Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) is cheering on the Tea Party’s efforts to play hardball with Democrats on spending cuts. “I just hope that we are not so afraid of a government shutdown that we are not willing to make the right decisions,” he says in an interview with National Review Online. “That is what the Tea Party is for.”

On Thursday, Tea Party groups will rally outside of the Capitol, urging lawmakers to pass a continuing resolution that includes more than $60 billion in spending cuts for the remainder of the fiscal year along with controversial legislative ‘riders’ to defund Obamacare and Planned Parenthood, among other federal programs.

DeMint is pleased that the Tea Party is shaking up the spending debate and looks forward to joining the rally, if his schedule permits. “I am glad they are having it,” he smiles. “If it all possible, I will be there. I really appreciate that pressure. Already, too many people are forgetting that we were elected to get control of our spending and debt, and now we are arguing about cutting enough spending for a week’s worth of borrowing.”
DeMint met with House conservative leaders earlier today and advised them on how to frame their argument as Senate Democrats push for a deal. “I spoke with them about being more aggressive and bolder,” he says. “Unless the Tea Party stays active, we will wilt.”

DeMint rejects the idea that $20 billion in cuts, the rumored Democratic proposal, will be sufficient. “That’s about what we borrow in a week,” he says. “That is a ridiculously low amount of money.” Conservatives, he advises, should dig in their heels. “The riders are as important as the amount. We can’t fund Obamacare. Funding things like Planned Parenthood in this kind of environment is ridiculous.”

“Democrats have been sending signals for several months that all Republicans want to shut down the government, and we keep saying, ‘No, we don’t want to do that.’ But if Democrats shut it down over Planned Parenthood or public broadcasting, or something like that, that is an argument that we can win,” he concludes. “To hold the government hostage to continue this reckless spending is irresponsible.”

Is the Tea Party pooped? It must keep making its case

From Michael Barone at The Washington Examiner:

Has the wind gone out of the sails of the smaller-government movement? Is the Tea Party movement going through a hangover?
You can find some evidence for these propositions. In Washington, Democrats like former National Chairman Howard Dean look forward gleefully to a government shutdown, and Sen. Charles Schumer thinks he can drive a wedge between Speaker John Boehner and "extremist" Tea Partiers.
And in state capitals some new Republican governors are getting hostile receptions to their plans for cutting spending and curtailing the power of public employee unions.
In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich has only 30 percent approval, according to a Quinnipiac poll. Pennsylvania's Tom Corbett, easily elected last November, has negative ratings as well.
And in the state that has made more headlines than any other this year, Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker is facing some headwinds. He did get the Republican legislature to pass limits on the bargaining powers of state employee unions. And union dues aren't going to be deducted from public employees' next paychecks.
But the Democratic state senators' tactic of leaving the state and the often violent protests at the state capitol have mobilized public employee unions and their supporters.
A Polling Co. poll conducted for Independent Women's Voice showed 53 percent of voters with unfavorable feelings toward Walker and only 46 percent favorable. By a similar margin voters sided with the public employee unions over the governor in the recent controversy.
It should be noted that this poll has a small sample and a larger share of voters in union households (38 percent) than in the 2008 and 2010 Wisconsin exit polls (26 percent). And on issues of this kind, question wording can make a big difference in responses.
Next Tuesday voters will have their say in an election for state Supreme Court. Incumbent Republican David Prosser is being challenged by Democrat JoAnne Kloppenburg, who is giving strong hints that she'll uphold a dubious ruling by a lower court that the legislature acted illegally in limiting public employee unions' powers. A Prosser defeat would give Democrats a 4-3 edge on the court.
Off-year elections tend to have low turnout, and the public employee unions are working hard to get their voters out. It's unclear whether Tea Partiers and others whose enthusiasm and energy transformed Wisconsin from a 56-42 percent Obama state in 2008 to a 52-46 percent Walker state in 2010 will be similarly energized.
In addition, both parties have threatened to recall at least some of the other side's state senators. Recall petitions are being circulated and require relatively few signatures.
The IWV poll says that voters would oppose recalling Democratic state senators by 60 to 38 percent but oppose recalling Republicans by only 52 to 43 percent.
There's an assumption by many Republicans, seemingly shared by Walker, that voters settled these issues definitively in the November elections. But the IWV poll suggests that voters are not necessarily well-informed and have been swayed by those who frame the issue as collective bargaining "rights."
Respondents become more favorable to Walker's position when informed that public employees are paid 45 percent more than private-sector union members and that union dues have been automatically deducted and go to support candidates workers may not favor.
In New Jersey, a more Democratic state than Wisconsin, Gov. Chris Christie has won majority support in his struggles with public employee unions by making his case repeatedly, with facts and figures, and with a forcefulness that has made his town hall appearances a YouTube hit.
Christie and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, both elected in 2009, have won public acceptance of major spending cuts by making the alternatives and the facts clear.
Republicans in Wisconsin and other states, and Republican leaders in Washington, need to do the same. Given their druthers, voters oppose tax increases and spending cuts. But they're responsive to the message that in these hard economic times it's not possible to have all good things.
They have seen that vast spending increases haven't generated jobs and they understand that tax increases can choke a sputtering economic recovery. Given the facts, they understand that public employee unions inflate spending, reduce accountability and operate as a mechanism for the involuntary transfer of taxpayer money to one political party.
The press won't make that case. Republicans and Tea Partiers need to do it themselves.
Michael Barone,The Examiner's senior political analyst, can be contacted at His column appears Wednesday and Sunday, and his stories and blog posts appear on