Storified by Brian Empric· Sat, Mar 30 2013 17:02:02
Since February 2009 when Obama held a so-called Fiscal Responsibility Summit at the White House and our debt was $10.8 trillion, he’s added another $6 trillion to the amount that we and our children will have to repay, while reneging on his commitment back then to take responsibility “right now, in this administration…”
“Let's say your car is on cruise control at 100 miles per hour, and there's a brick wall in the distance. The responsible course of action would be to slow down gradually and turn the car so it's no longer pointed toward the brick wall. But if President Obama were driving the way he conducts fiscal policy, he'd be lowering the speed to 98 miles per hour and continuing on the same trajectory -- simply assuming he'd be able to slam on the brakes right before impact.”
“As with past financial crises, there are always voices warning about the inevitable but others who want to keep dancing until the music stops… There are several problems with waiting for an actual crisis to hit before taking action. To start, it limits the range of options available to lawmakers and results in ugly policy…”
“Emergency measures are likely to be much more disruptive to the economy and to people's lives. As the Congressional Budget Office wrote last month, ‘Deciding now what policy changes to make to resolve that long-term imbalance would allow for gradual implementation, which would give households, businesses, and state and local governments time to plan and adjust their behavior.’ It's also fairer to spread the policy changes among multiple generations, rather than imposing more drastic measures on a future generation.”
“How can anyone take President Obama seriously when he tells us our national debt is no big deal? Well, we have to take him seriously, because, unserious thinking or not, he has serious power, including the power to obstruct progress on reducing the debt.”
“The enormity of our annual interest payments on the debt alone renders Obama's dismissiveness about the debt surreal.”
“House Speaker John Boehner framed the problem quite accurately when he summarized the parties' respective positions. ‘Republicans want to balance the budget. The president doesn't,’ said Boehner. ‘Republicans want to solve our long-term debt problem. The president doesn't. We want to unlock our energy resources to put more Americans back to work. The president doesn't.’”
“Republicans need to launch a 24/7 public campaign blitz explaining Paul Ryan's new budget, which is based on real and specific numbers and proposes to balance the budget in 10 years and make structural changes to our entitlement programs to put them on a sustainable path.
“Democrats and liberal journalists are already out in force, savaging Ryan and the other Republicans -- again -- for their good faith effort to save the nation from a Grecian-style bankruptcy.
“I am convinced that if the Republicans will strike back with as much fervor as Obama constantly hits them and take their winning case to the people, the people will finally learn the truth: that Ryan's plan would not throw seniors or the poor under the bus and is, in fact, their best chance for the future and certainly the best hope currently on the table to restore America's solvency.”
“President Barack Obama on Monday nominated Tom Perez, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, as labor secretary - a job that would give him a key role in the administration's efforts to raise the minimum wage and reform immigration laws.”
“Obama urged the Senate to confirm Perez quickly. He said he would be an integral part of his economic team as the administration works with Congress to try to overhaul immigration laws to give the country's 11 million illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship.”
“Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama called Perez ‘the wrong man for this job’ and criticized him for being too aggressive helping undocumented immigrants find work as part of an advocacy group called Casa de Maryland.”
“Senator David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana, said he would block Perez's nomination until the Justice Department answered questions about enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act in his state.
“Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he was concerned about Perez's role in persuading the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, to withdraw a Fair Housing Act case from the U.S. Supreme Court last year.”
“No matter what progress Republicans may make in electoral politics over the coming years, it will be difficult to roll back the steady march of liberalism that has taken place inside our cultural, bureaucratic and legal institutions -- from academia to regulatory agencies to the Department of Justice -- but we have to try.”
“Radical liberals are characteristically activists, strategists and organizers. Their plan to infiltrate and dominate academia was hardly spontaneous, and its effects have hardly been sporadic… The same phenomenon occurs throughout the nation's regulatory bureaucracies. Liberals have managed to place so many ideologically charged people inside powerful administrative agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, that these institutions tend to be radicalized from the bottom up.”
“They don't have the same reverence for the Constitution and the rule of law as conservatives. They view things through an ideological prism and act in deference to their ideology and their political ends more than their conservative counterparts. They see themselves as activist agents for change, as crusaders with the lofty goal of advancing an agenda so morally superior that they don't think twice about bending and twisting rules and selectively interpreting laws and regulations to serve their agenda.”
“We have to do a better job of exposing radicals and preventing them from overthrowing our constitutional guarantees from inside our government…”
“He’s done it with a package of tools, some of which date to George Washington and some invented in the modern era of an increasingly powerful presidency. And he’s done it with a frequency that belies his original campaign criticisms of predecessor George W. Bush, invites criticisms that he’s bypassing the checks and balances of Congress and the courts, and whets the appetite of liberal activists who want him to do even more to advance their goals.”
“Arguably more than any other president in modern history, he’s using executive actions, primarily orders, to bypass or pressure a Congress where the opposition Republicans can block any proposal.”
“Presidents since George Washington have signed executive orders, an oft-overlooked power not explicitly defined in the Constitution. More than half of all executive orders in the nation’s history – nearly 14,000 – have been issued since 1933.”
“Most presidents in recent history generally have issued a few hundred orders, and hundreds more memorandums and directives… But, experts say, Obama’s actions are more noticeable because as a candidate he was critical of Bush’s use of power. In particular, he singled out his predecessor’s use of signing statements, documents issued when a president signs a bill that clarifies his understanding of the law.”
“In his first two years in the White House, when fellow Democrats controlled Capitol Hill, Obama largely worked through the regular legislative process to try to achieve his domestic agenda. His biggest achievements – including a federal health care overhaul and a stimulus package designed to boost the economy –came about with little or no Republican support.
“But Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 2010, making the task of passing legislation all the more difficult for a man with a detached personality who doesn’t relish schmoozing with lawmakers…”
“’The president looks more and more like a king that the Constitution was designed to replace,’ Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said on the Senate floor last year.”
“The plagiarist with the slow-grow hair plugs and the chipmunk fake teeth and the made-up stories about heroics on the football field who quietly won five student draft deferments during the Vietnam War really did become vice president…”
“[W]underboy Joey, despite his hardscrabble Scranton roots and spectacular work ethic (he did hold an actual job for some 18 months before going on the government dole 43 years ago) will not grow up to be the president of the United States. He’s already tried twice, in 1988 and again in 2008 (the latter after giving voters a full generation to forget why they didn’t like him the first time around).”
“The chatter started right around the time then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton got sick, fell down, bumped her head and disappeared for six weeks… Suddenly, all this talk swirled that Joey was going to run in 2016, you know, pick up the mantle of his mental mentor and try to see if he could top the $10 trillion in debt his boss is on pace to rack up…”
“At 70 years old, the Gaffe Machine won’t have time to wait another 20 years so America can forget all the stupid things he says and does…”
“This week brings more to pile onto the horror that the working-man’s vice president charges rent to the Secret Service to use a cottage adjacent to his waterfront home in Wilmington, Del. He and his entourage spent $460,000 for a single night in London earlier this year. And they spent another $585,000 for a night at a five-star hotel in Paris. The stays came amid the crisis in Washington over the budget.
“What’s more, he flies to Delaware nearly every weekend — first from his taxpayer-funded home in Washington on a chopper to an Air Force base, then on Air Force Two. The weekly jaunts have cost Americans more than $4 million so far (according to an article on the Newsmax website).”
Storified by Brian Empric· Fri, Mar 29 2013 19:07:25
Satellite radio show host Armstrong Williams (@arightside) writes about a reportreleased last month by the Henry Jackson Society (a bipartisan,British-based think tank), “Al-Qaeda in the United States: A CompleteAnalysis of Terrorism Offenses,” which showed that 24% of al Qaeda terroristsembraced radical Islam later in life with the fervor of religious converts.
“The report is more than 700 pages, and is a painstakingand meticulous review of all 171 al Qaeda or al Qaeda-inspiredterrorists who were either killed during their attacks or convicted incourt in the U.S.”
“It reveals that the bulk of the terrorists in the U.S.are not highly trained foreign nationals infiltrating our borders to attack us,butour neighbors next door.
“More than half of the terrorists wereAmerican citizens. A shocking 82 percent of the terrorists killed or convictedwere U.S. residents. Ninety-five percent were men, and they lived instates from coast to coast and across the heartland.”
“Another remarkable data point is that 52percent of the attackers were college-educated and nearly 60 percentwere either pursuing education or were employed at the time of their arrests. Thesefacts punch gaping holes into the self-defeating assertion that thosewho hate America are driven to terrorism because they are ignorant ordowntrodden.”
Chad Bray reports that Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a 47-year-oldson-in-law of Osama bin Laden and onetime spokesman for al Qaeda, plead notguilty earlier this month in a lower Manhattan federal courthouse of conspiringto kill American citizens, and he faces life in prison if convicted. The next hearing is April 8.
“At the brief hearing in Manhattan federal court, Mr. AbuGraith, who was ordered detained, was wearing blue prison garb and was led intothe ornate ceremonial courtroom in handcuffs.”
“Assistant U.S. Attorney John P. Cronan told the courtthat after Mr. Abu Ghaith was taken into custody, he gave a 22-page statement tolaw enforcement. That statement, in the form of a Federal Bureau ofInvestigation report, as well as a number of DVDs containing speeches by Mr.Abu Ghaith, were turned over to his lawyers, the prosecutor said.”
“Mr. Abu Ghaith was captured in Jordan after he wasdeported from Turkey, according to people familiar with the investigation. Hewas detained in Turkey last month after leaving Iran, where U.S. officials believed hehad been hiding for a decade, according to people familiar with thematter.”
“Mr. Abu Ghaith is being held at the MetropolitanCorrectional Center in lower Manhattan, one of two federal facilities in NewYork City that house defendants awaiting trial.”
“According to the indictment, Mr. Abu Ghaith appearedwith Mr. bin Laden the day after the (Sept. 11) attacks and said a ‘greatarmy’ was gathering against the U.S. In another statement, he advisedMuslims, children and opponents of the U.S. ‘not to board any aircraft and notto live in high rises,’ according to the indictment.”
Mark Steyn (@MarkSteynOnline) writes of drones,paramilitarized bureaucracies and all-seeing governments.
“I’m a long, long way from Rand Paul’s view of the world(I’m basically a 19th-century imperialist a hundred years past sell-by date), butI’m far from sanguine about America’s drone fever. For all itsadvantages to this administration — no awkward prisoners to be housed at Gitmo,no military casualties for the evening news — the unheard, unseen, unmanneddrone raining down death from the skies confirms for those on the receiving endal-Qaeda’s critique of its enemies: As they see it, we have the best technologyand the worst will; we choose aerial assassination and its attendantcollateral damage because we are risk-averse, and so remote, antiseptic,long-distance, computer-programmed warfare is all that we can bear. Ourtechnological strength betrays our psychological weakness.”
“The guys with drones are losing to the guys withfertilizer — because they mean it, and we don’t. The drone thus has come tosymbolize the central defect of America’s ‘war on terror,’ which is that it’sall means and no end: We’re fighting the symptoms rather than thecause.”
“The same bureaucracy that booked Samira Ibrahim for anaudience with the first lady and Anwar al-Awlaki to host prayers at the Capitolnow assures you that it’s entirely capable of determining who needs to be zapped by adrone between the sea bass and the tiramisu at Ahmed’s Bar and Grill.But it’s precisely because the government is too craven to stray beyondtechnological warfare and take on its enemies ideologically that itwinds up booking the first lady to hand out awards to a Jew-loathing,Hitler-quoting, terrorist-supporting America-hater.
“Insofar as it relieves Washington of the need to thinkstrategically about the nature of the enemy, the drone is part of the problem.But its technology is too convenient a gift for government to forswear at home.America takes an ever more expansive view of police power, and, whilethe notion of unmanned drones patrolling the heartland may seem absurd,lots of things that seemed absurd a mere 15 years ago are now a routine featureof life. Not so long ago, it would have seemed not just absurd but repugnantand un-American to suggest that the state ought to have the power to fondle thecrotch of a seven-year-old boy without probable cause before permitting him toboard an airplane. Yet it happened, and became accepted, and is unlikely ever to bereversed.”
“We have advanced from the paramilitarization of thepolice to the paramilitarization of the Bureau of Form-Filling. Two years agoin this space, I noted that the U.S. secretary of education, who doesn’t employa single teacher, is the only education minister in the developed world with his own SWATteam… That the education bureaucracy of the Brokest Nation in Historyhas its own Seal Team Six is ridiculous and offensive. Yet the citizenry don’t find itso: They accept it.”
“I mention in my book that government is increasinglycomfortable with a view of society as a giant ‘Panopticon’ —the radial prison devised by Jeremy Bentham in 1785, in which the authorities can seeeveryone and everything. In the Droneworld we have built for the war onterror, we can’t see the forest because we’re busy tracking every spindlysapling. When the same philosophy is applied on the home front, it willnot be pretty.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorializes that the logicof elevating the Distinguished Warfare Medal for military personnel who operatedrones over established honors given for valor on the battlefield is inexplicable. Courage counts, and a medal for valor should outrank one for desk duty.
“Drones have changed the face of modern warfare. Killingenemy soldiers, while still a brutal act, is no longer as intimate as it was inthe last century. Nowadays the distance between target and targeter can bethousands of miles, and launching an attack can look more like a video game.”
“From the perspective of the victim and the collateraldamage that results, it doesn't matter whether the assault came from anAmerican soldier in a hideout 200 feet away or a military base 7,000 milesaway. In either case, the target is extinguished.”
“(Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey and Rep. TimMurphy) object to the Defense Department's decision to rank the Distinguished WarfareMedal higher than the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star, two honors thatcan be earned only in the face of combat. The Purple Heart goes to woundedsoldiers, but in the new hierarchy it will sit lower than the award given to aservice member pushing buttons in the safety and comfort of a controlroom in the United States.”
“War is hell, but the Pentagon doesn't haveto make it worse by losing perspective on loyal troops' sacrifice.”
Charles Krauthammer writes that the war on terror is notgoing away, but it needs a new rulebook when it comes to drone warfare. 4,700 are estimated to have been killed bydrone, without any protest from the hypocrites, whereas “George W. Bush wasexcoriated for waterboarding exactly three terrorists, all of whom are nowenjoying an extensive retirement on a sunny Caribbean island…”
“In choice of both topic and foil, Rand Paul’s nowlegendary Senate filibuster was a stroke of political genius. The topic was,ostensibly, very narrow: Does the president have the constitutionalauthority to put a drone-launched Hellfire missile through your kitchen— you, a good citizen of Topeka to whom POTUS might have taken a dislike —while you’re cooking up a pot roast?”
“The correct response, of course, is: Absent an activecivil war on U.S. soil (of the kind not seen in 150 years) or a jihadistinvasion from Saskatchewan led by the Topeka pot roaster, the answer is no.”
“The vexing and pressing issue is the use ofdrones abroad. The filibusterpretended not to be about that. Which is testimony to Paul’s politicaladroitness. It was not until two days later that he showed his hand, writing in The Post, ‘No American should be killed bya drone without first being charged with a crime.’ Note the absence of therestrictive clause: ‘on American soil.’”
“Outside American soil, the Constitution does not rule, nomatter how much Paul would like it to. Yet Paul’s unease applies tonon-American drone targets as well. His quarrel is with the very notion of thewar on terror, though he is normally too smart to say that openly andunequivocally. Unlike his father, who implied that 9/11 was payback for oursins, Paul the Younger more gingerly expresses general skepticism about notjust the efficacy but the legality of the entire war.”
“The war’s constitutional charter, the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), hasproved quite serviceable. But the commander-in-chief’s authority is so broad —it leaves the limits of his power to be determined, often in secret memos, bythe administration’s own in-house lawyers — that it has spawned suspicion,fear and now filibuster.
“It is time to rethink. That meansnot repealing the original AUMF but, using the lessons of the past 12 years,rewriting it with particular attention to a new code governing drone warfare andthe question of where, when and against whom it should be permitted… Allwe need now is a president willing to lead and a Congress willing to takeresponsibility for the conduct of a war that, however much Paul and hisacolytes may wish it away, will long be with us.”
Back in 1787,Alexander Hamilton wrote FederalistNo. 23, one in the series of articles frequently used to interpret the intentof the Constitution, especially in Supreme Court decisions. He observed:
“The authorities essential to the common defense arethese: to raise armies; to build and equip fleets; to prescribe rules for thegovernment of both; to direct their operations; to provide for their support.These powers ought to exist without limitation, because it is impossible to foresee or define the extent and varietyof national exigencies, or the correspondent extent and variety of the meanswhich may be necessary to satisfy them. The circumstances that endanger thesafety of nations are infinite, and for this reason no constitutional shacklescan wisely be imposed on the power to which the care of it is committed.This power ought to be coextensive with all the possible combinations of suchcircumstances; and ought to be under the direction of the same councils whichare appointed to preside over the common defense.”
AndrewC. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the NationalReview Institute, writes that Congress, not theConstitution, should curtail the president’s war powers. The president can be shackled “by trimminghis sails in the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), not bytrimming his constitutional power.”
“It was Wednesday, shortly beforeSenator Rand Paul’s bravura 13-hour filibuster, the Jimmy Stewart star turn inPaul’s crusade to have the Constitution ban a bogeyman of his own making: thekilling of American citizens on American soil by America’s armed forces— a scandal that clearly cries out for action, having occurred exactly zerotimes in the 20 years since jihadists commenced hostilities by bombingthe World Trade Center.
“At a hearing of the Judiciary Committee, Senator TedCruz was grilling Attorney General Eric Holder. Cruz seemed beside himself — inthe theatrical spirit of the day — over Holder’s refusal to concede that theimaginary use of lethal force conjured up by Paul would be, underany and all circumstances, unconstitutional…Yet my sympathies were with Holder. I found myself wishing he’d stood by hisequivocal guns.”
“To cross Paul admirers can mean being castinto the neocon darkness, along with all those other cogs in themilitary-industrial complex who dream of a global American empire — and that’s evenwhen the offense is not compounded by suggesting that Eric Holder might havebeen right about something. So let me say outright: I am against using our armedforces to kill our citizens in our homeland.
“That puts me in the same camp as about 99.9 percent ofAmericans. In part, that owes to our natural, patriotic predilection. Butthere’s another part of the explanation — just as important, but less wellnoticed: After 20 years, we understand the particular conflict we are in.We can confidently say that, in the war authorized by Congress a dozen yearsago, wedo not need to use lethal military force inside our country.”
“Contrary to Senator Paul’s assertions, and those ofsenators Cruz and Mike Lee, who lent their voices and scholarly heft to Paul’sfilibuster, the Constitution does not prohibit the use of lethal force in theUnited States against American citizens who collude with the enemy.
“American history and jurisprudence teach that Americancitizens who join the enemy may be treated as the enemy:captured without warrant, detained indefinitely without trial, interrogatedwithout counsel, accused of war crimes without grand-jury proceedings, tried bymilitary commission without the protections of civilian due process, andexecuted promptly after conviction. That is because these measures arepermissible under the laws of war, and the Constitution accommodatesthe laws of war — they are the rule of law when Congress has authorizedwarfare.”
“The Constitution enables the government to marshal allthe might necessary, under any conceivable circumstances,to quell threats to the United States. The Framers, with a humility thatcontrasts sharply with our certitude, understood that some threats could beexistential in nature…”
“In the ongoing conflict, the enemy does not havefortifications inside our territory that would enable its operatives to keepthe police at bay. As long as we catch them in time, our enemies can be safely taken intocustody. And if we catch them on the precipice of deadly action,ordinary law-enforcement principles allow for the use of lethal force to stop them.
“But that may not always be the case.We could have enemies with much greater capabilities, enemies including traitorousAmericans. The fact that we do not appear to need lethal military forcein the homeland in this conflictdoes not mean we will never need it.”
“Senator Paul has the controversy he sought because theObama administration arrogantly claimed nigh-limitless power to kill anyone,anywhere, at the president’s whim. Thereis no reason to believe the president actually intends to abuse such power — hehas not done so to this point…”
“Senators Paul and Cruz have suggested that theconstitutional claim they’ve posited — viz., presidents are not empowered tokill Americans on American soil absent an imminent threat of violence — is ‘easy,’‘clear,’ and ‘obvious.’ I respectfully disagree. It is none of thosethings. What is easy, clear, and obvious is that if we do not needcertain troublesome authorities to fight a war successfully, Congresscan withhold them… Why does it make a difference whether thiscurtailment comes from the AUMF rather than the Constitution?”
“If all the senator really has in mind is somecurtailment of presidential overreach, the right way to do that is to limit theAUMF. If his ambition is greater, if he believes the country would bebetter off ending the war paradigm and returning to peacetime due process, theforthright way to do that is to repeal the AUMF. That would be aterrible mistake, but one we could withstand, however painfully. Whatwe might not be able to withstand is the shackling of constitutional powers wemay someday need to sustain the United States.”
Storified by Brian Empric· Thu, Mar 28 2013 18:30:47
“The National Republican Congressional Committee is the first GOP entity to take specific steps to try to rectify the party’s widely acknowledged polling debacle… The Republicans’ 17-seat House majority is their last bulwark against full Democratic control of the federal government, and senior party officials say they don’t intend to lose that firewall thanks to shoddy polling.”
“The committee has formed a new Strategy Department tasked with projecting district-by-district population changes and mapping best- and worst-case turnout scenarios for campaigns to use in guiding their surveys.”
“The NRCC-organized talks between pollsters have also produced a set of standards and practices that campaigns will be urged to follow for 2014. Pollsters will be expected to have at least 30 percent of their samples made up of cell phone users, if not more – an attempt to capture more of the Democratic-leaning young voters who eluded GOP survey-gatherers last year.”
“Since the 2014 congressional map is essentially set – unlike last cycle, when redistricting left many states in flux until late in the cycle – Republicans have an opportunity to develop a common set of assumptions about turnout and then look for opportunities to shift the playing field in the GOP’s favor, strategists said.”
“[T]he NRCC effort may be the narrowest and most tangible effort so far to improve the GOP’s campaign machinery, and the one most likely to yield real results over the short term.”
“For the first time, I am wondering about the long-term viability of the Republican Party. I say this not as an advocate of its demise or restructuring but as an observer of troubling signs.
“The Republican Party is thought to be the institutional vehicle for the advancement of conservative policies, but for decades, the conservative movement has been frustrated with the party's deviation from conservative principles -- its refusal to live up to its decidedly conservative platform.”
“I'd feel better if the ongoing competition between Reagan conservatives and establishment Republicans were the only big fissure in the GOP right now, but there are other cracks that threaten to break wide open, too. Our problems transcend our differing approaches to the size and scope of government and to fiscal and other economic issues.
“Reagan conservatism is no longer under attack from just establishment Republicans; it's also under attack from many inside the conservative movement itself. Reagan conservatism is a three-legged stool of fiscal, foreign policy and social issues conservatism. But today many libertarian-oriented conservatives are singing from the liberal libertine hymnal that the GOP needs to remake its image as more inclusive, more tolerant, less judgmental and less strident. In other words, it needs to lighten up and quit opposing gay marriage, at least soften its position on abortion, and get on board the amnesty train to legalize illegal immigrants. I won't even get into troubling foreign policy divisions among so-called neocons, so-called isolationists and those who simply believe we should conduct our foreign policy based foremost on promoting our strategic national interests.”
“I belong to the school that believes the Republican Party must remain the party of mainstream Reagan conservatism rather than try to become a diluted version of the Democratic Party. This does not mean Republicans can't come up with creative policy solutions when advisable, but it does mean that conservatism is based on timeless principles that require no major revisions. Conservatives are champions of freedom, the rule of law and enforcement of the social compact between government and the people enshrined in the Constitution, which imposes limitations on government in order to maximize our liberties. If we reject these ideas, then we have turned our backs on what America means and what has made America unique. What's the point of winning elections if the price is American exceptionalism?”
“First, the committee declared that the GOP ‘must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.’ ‘If we do not,’ the committee said, ‘our party's appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.’
“Committing so firmly to comprehensive immigration reform is not only a measure of the GOP's anxiety over its dismal showing among Hispanic voters last November. It's also a gamble that risks exacerbating tensions between the party's elites and grass roots.”
“Two-thirds of Republican voters believe a pathway to citizenship will just encourage more illegal immigration,” says pollster Scott Rasmussen, “and 58 percent of all voters believe federal policies continue to encourage illegal immigration.”
“The RNC's other exception to the no-policy rule involves gay marriage. ‘There is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and rights of gays -- and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the party is a place they want to be,’ the report says. ‘If our party is not welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out.’
“That is not a flat-out declaration that the RNC supports gay marriage -- but it's pretty close…”
“In a new ABC News-Washington Post poll, just 34 percent of Republicans support gay marriage while 59 percent oppose it. Among those who call themselves conservative Republicans, support is at 24 percent, with 71 percent opposed. On another hot-button issue sure to receive extensive coverage in the press, the Washington-based party elites have placed themselves in opposition to the grass roots.
“A lot of what the RNC autopsy committee recommends is uncontroversial. The party certainly needs an upgrade in technology, voter contact, communications -- in pretty much every aspect of its operations. But its two forays into policy could come back to haunt the RNC in the not-too-distant future.”
“The GOP’s prescription to cure the ills that helped bring on yet another disastrous presidential cycle would revamp its presidential nominating rules in ways to benefit well-funded candidates and hamper insurgents - a move that quickly heated up the already smoldering feud between the Republican establishment and the tea party-inspired base.”
“John Brabender, Santorum’s chief adviser, said the reforms would favor the moneyed candidates.
“While I commend Chairman Priebus for taking important steps to remedy Republicans’ recent election failures, I am troubled by the possibility of a condensed presidential primary process which undoubtedly gives an advantage to establishment backed candidates and the wealthiest candidates,” said Brabender.
“Any changes to the party’s nominating process would have to be ratified by the full membership of the RNC. The first debate on the recommendation will take place next month at the party’s spring meeting in Los Angeles, but party veterans don’t expect any final resolution on the 2016 plan that soon.”
“The general idea of a shorter primary has strong appeal among many Republicans who prefer beating Democrats than beating up on each other.”
“Conservatives have been particularly suspicious of the committee since it was announced last year because three of the best-known members — (former Bush spokesman Ari) Fleischer, (Florida GOP strategist and Jeb Bush adviser Sally) Bradshaw and (Mississippi GOP committeeman Henry) Barbour — are pillars of the party establishment. And after reading the primary recommendations, these movement Republicans feel vindicated their concerns were well-placed.”
“Here is what is wrong with the Republican Party. This author taught in a sales training seminar firm in Eastern Europe, International Trendsetters. The solutions are overwhelmingly time-tested and proven in real life. This is not theory. Republicans are chronically making classic rookie sales mistakes.”
“You must explain how a policy benefits the voter. Bad salesmen talk about features -- the radio has a better tuner. Good salesmen talk about how the radio benefits the customer -- you will enjoy the music more and set a better mood for your love interest because it sounds better and clearer.”
“RNC Chairman Reince Priebus explained that we must talk about how Americans benefit from low taxes and lower national debt… We fail to explain why those details actually matter to the voter… But isn't it obvious? No. Classic rookie mistake. It's obvious to you if you spend lots of time thinking about these things. It's not obvious to busy people who have other things to think about, which they feel are more important in their lives. Yes, you have to draw them a map.”
“Republicans skip over too many steps and assume too much. The American voters are smart. But they haven't spent as much time thinking about your topic as you have. We have to be able to empathize with the busy listener and even remember how we were when we first learned about these issues.
“It is amazing that the GOP has been so bad at this, when Ronald Reagan was so good at it. If anyone is thinking of running for office, Step #1 is to listen to every speech Ronald Reagan ever gave. Several times. Reagan ‘got’ it. Then the GOP lost it.”
“If you don't explain how GOP policies benefit the listener, their minds will fill in the vacuum with other explanations. If you don't provide a reason, their minds will provide one for you.”
“We view objections with dread. A voter tells you why they don't like the GOP. Time-tested sales techniques have proven that objections are opportunities. When a prospect tells you what he is concerned about, you now have the opportunity to address his or her concerns… most sales succeed after not just the first negative response, but after several negative issues are raised and discussed. But you have to care about the other person as much as you care about yourself to answer their concerns fully, fairly, and respectfully.”
“You are not going to win over any hearts or minds sitting in your office across the street from the Capitol South Metro station (the RNC headquarters). It is common sense that you have to go out and talk to Hispanics, Blacks, and other groups.”
“Will they buy your product? I don't know. But I do know this: They will never buy your product if you don't go talk to them and ask. Many a salesman has struggled with having a call list but wasting the day avoiding making the sales calls. Most salespeople -- and Republicans -- spend most of their time making excuses to avoid going out and talking to people they might win over.”
“Democrats are able to talk directly to voters, unfiltered, without having to beg reporters to cover the issues or people they want, while controlling the spin placed on each news tidbit.”
“Sales experts study how to get messages across because real money is on the line. Sales principles are the solutions for the GOP.”
“It’s tempting to ascribe value to their report based on its size alone: 219 recommendations! But a closer examination of the prescriptions shows a lot of bureaucratic bumbling — lots of listening sessions and new councils and minority group committees. Anyone searching for meat will have to chew through a lot of fat first.”
“The report contains a brief section on candidate recruitment. But it fails to address the single most important reason that the Republican Party lost in 2012: Willard Mitt Romney… Voters just didn’t like our guy, as evidenced by his stagnant approval ratings throughout the campaign.”
“The report calls GOP governors ‘America’s reformers in chief’ who show the need to ‘modernize the Party.’ But it’s difficult to think of a big decision made by a Republican governor that hasn’t been on the conservative radar screen for a long time. GOP governors succeeded by applying long-held principles, not by throwing those principles overboard in the name of modernity.”
“Naturally the Growth and Opportunity Project is worried about losing young voters. But its recommendations for connecting with today’s youth are both shallow (‘Establish an RNC Celebrity Task Force’!) and shortsightedly focused on social issues.”
“The autopsy makes the common mistake of assuming comprehensive immigration reform is a tonic for the GOP’s problem with Hispanic voters. We can debate the merits of such a proposal, but it’s simply not true that support for looser immigration policies will convert Latinos… Hispanics, unfortunately, are falling for the big-government promises of economic liberalism.”
“Early on, the report encourages Republicans to shed the party’s reputation as a tool of big business and ‘be the champion of those who seek to climb the economic ladder of life’…”
“The report recommends updating both the Republican Party’s social media outreach and data analytics, both of which are crucial to attracting new voters, especially young ones.”
“So will the autopsy have a serious impact? Probably not. On the campaign side, Republican consultants are already aware of most of the report’s diagnoses. On the ideas side, conservative thinkers and activists are hardly inclined to take their cues from a bunch of party suits. Give the news cycle a few more spins and the autopsy will likely be forgotten.”
“There are seven states now represented by Democrats that Mitt Romney won last year (the list above, plus North Carolina). Republicans need to carry most of them, and retirements in West Virginia and likely South Dakota help.”
“Historical patterns favor the GOP. Midterms tend to bring out a higher share of whiter and older (read: Republican) voters. Typically, a reelected president’s party loses seats in the next election…”
“Another tier of opportunity for Republicans is a trio of swing states represented by Democrats: Minnesota (Al Franken), Colorado (Mark Udall) and New Hampshire (Jeanne Shaheen). All three senators appear to be in solid shape; knocking off any one of them would be a big boon for Republicans.”
“Republicans have defeated only three sitting Democratic senators — Tom Daschle, Russ Feingold and Blanche Lincoln — in the past decade. That makes winning open seats all the more critical for the GOP. Enter West Virginia, South Dakota and Iowa.”
“Other open seats are less up for grabs. Democrats are favored to hold Sen. Carl Levin’s seat in Michigan (though Republicans promise to contest it) and almost certainly will keep Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s New Jersey seat. The same is true for Republicans in Nebraska and Georgia, where Sens. Mike Johanns and Saxby Chambliss have called it quits, respectively.”
“Republicans get to play offense this cycle. Democrats must defend 21 seats, compared with 14 for Republicans. The only GOP senator in a state Obama carried, Maine’s Susan Collins, is running again and should win handily.”
Storified by Brian Empric· Wed, Mar 27 2013 19:14:47
“Since 1974, Capitol Hill's ‘baseline’ has automatically increased spending every year according to Congressional Budget Office projections, which means before anyone has submitted a budget or cast a single vote. Tax and spending changes are then measured off that inflated baseline, not in absolute terms.”
“The baseline scam also exists in many states, and no less a Democrat than New York Governor Andrew Cuomo denounced it in 2011 as a ‘sham’ and ‘deceptive.’ He wrote in the New York Post that state spending was ‘dictated by hundreds of rates and formulas that are marbleized throughout New York State laws that govern different programs—formulas that have been built into the law over decades, without regard to fiscal realities, performance or accountability.’ Then he proceeded to continue baseline budgeting.”
“In Washington, Democrats designed this system to make it easier to defend annual spending increases and to portray any reduction in the baseline as a spending ‘cut’… Republicans used to object to this game, but in recent years they seem to have given up…”
“If Republicans really want to slow the growth in spending, they need to stop playing by Beltway rules and start explaining to America why Mr. Obama keeps saying he's cutting spending even as spending and deficits keep going up and up and up.”
“Clearly, the budget process is broken. In four of the past five years, the president has missed his budget deadline. Senate Democrats haven't passed a budget in over 1,400 days. By refusing to tackle the drivers of the nation's debt—or simply to write a budget—Washington lurches from crisis to crisis.
“House Republicans have a plan to change course… We stop spending money the government doesn't have. Historically, Americans have paid a little less than one-fifth of their income in taxes to the federal government each year. But the government has spent more.”
“Under our proposal, the government spends no more than it collects in revenue—or 19.1% of gross domestic product each year… On the current path, we'll spend $46 trillion over the next 10 years. Under our proposal, we'll spend $41 trillion. On the current path, spending will increase by 5% each year. Under our proposal, it will increase by 3.4%...”
“Yet the most important question isn't how we balance the budget. It's why. A budget is a means to an end, and the end isn't a neat and tidy spreadsheet. It's the well-being of all Americans. By giving families stability and protecting them from tax hikes, our budget will promote a healthier economy and help create jobs. Most important, our budget will reignite the American Dream, the idea that anyone can make it in this country.”
“The other side will warn of a relapse into recession—just as they predicted economic disaster when the budget sequester hit. But a balanced budget will help the economy. Smaller deficits will keep interest rates low, which will help small businesses to expand and hire…”
“Anyone who attacks our Medicare proposal without offering a credible alternative is complicit in the program's demise.”
“All we need is leadership. Washington owes the American people a balanced budget. It isn't fair to take more from families so government can spend more… We House Republicans have done our part. We're offering a credible plan for all the country to see. We're outlining how to solve the greatest problems facing America today.”
“A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 35% of Likely U.S. Voters favor the Republican plan proposed by Congressman Paul Ryan. Half (49%) of all voters oppose the Republican plan, but another 16% are not sure…”
“However, only 19% favor the Democrats' option proposed by Senator Patty Murray. Sixty percent (60%) of voters oppose the Democratic plan. Twenty-one percent (21%) are not sure…”
“Sixty-three percent (63%) of Republicans agree with the plan that balances the budget in 10 years without raising taxes. Seventy percent (70%) of Democrats and a plurality (49%) of voters not affiliated with either party are opposed.
“However, only 26% of Democrats support their party’s plan while 40% are opposed. Eighty percent (80%) of Republicans and 64% of unaffiliated voters oppose the plan.”
“Seventy-two percent (72%) of Tea Party voters favor the GOP plan, and 89% oppose the Democratic plan.”
“What in the world is going through the minds of European officials with their crazy, destructive demands with Cyprus? Seizing a portion of peoples’ bank deposits is the kind of thing one would expect from Argentina or other kleptocratic third-world governments. It sets an awful precedent shredding the rule of law, which is the bedrock of a free and vibrant society…”
“What the Europeans are doing here guarantees that there will be disastrous runs on banks and money market funds when we have another financial crisis – which we will, since authorities today really don’t know what they are doing on the economic front…”
“The Cyprus move is portrayed as a way to recapitalize that island’s shaky banks. But stealing deposits guarantees banks’ failures as soon as their doors re-open – if they ever do. After all, the Cypriot government may reject their agreement with the European Commission, European Central Bank and the IMF out of fear of both apoplectic voters and angry Russian depositors. Make no mistake, this deal is about as voluntary as those famous gangster words, ‘We have an offer you can’t refuse.’”
“The poor judgment of the political and economical leadership of the West today rivals that of their predecessors of the 1930s and 1970s. Under their misguided policies the wealth-creating private sector is continually squeezed with growth-killing taxes and regulations and the power of Big Government expands. Most countries have made, at best, small reforms when big ones – especially on the tax cutting front – are needed.”
“[I]f Republicans plan to place entitlements in their cross hairs, they will be risking a high-profile and explosive fight with President Barack Obama, who has said there is no way he’ll consider changes to entitlement programs without corresponding tax increases. House Republicans have said they compromised on raising tax hikes in the fiscal cliff deal on Jan. 1.”
“House GOP leadership is also eyeing several bills to hike the debt cap with different budgetary reforms — those bills might hit the floor as soon as May. One option under discussion includes trying to tie tax reform to the debt ceiling. Republicans are also mulling another path, which would tether entitlement reforms Obama has previously supported to the debt ceiling. Those reforms include increasing the Medicare eligibility age, means testing Medicare and changing the formula for calculating government benefits.”
“Of course, the House is not alone in deciding how the debt ceiling issue is resolved… Obama has said he’s not interested in negotiating over the debt ceiling, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) still has control over his chamber. Reid’s strategy often lines up with Obama’s.”
“The House-side maneuvering on the debt ceiling also plainly displays that the talk of a grand bargain, for now, is just that: talk. The ability to come to some sort of massive fiscal deal is still a pipe dream, of sorts, for those who deal with the reality of legislating on Capitol Hill.”
“This legislation would not only result in the termination of current tax delinquent federal employees, but would prohibit the future hiring of federal employees with tax liens.”
“The legislation also requires federal agencies to conduct reviews of public records to determine if tax liens have been filed against current employees or applicants.”
“Nearly 312,000 federal workers and retirees owed more than $3.5 billion in back taxes as of Sept. 30, 2011, the (Internal Revenue Service) agency reported earlier this month…”
“The IRS says most residents who owe back income taxes file returns but cannot pay the full amount at tax time. Others have their tax bills increased through audits and cannot pay the higher bill.”
“Most Americans want to end government subsidies for these ‘too big to fail’ institutions, and half want to see those megabanks broken up.”
“The government currently provides nearly $100 billion in subsidies to the largest banks because they are deemed ‘too big to fail’. Just seven percent (7%) of Americans support continuing these subsidies, while 76% are opposed. Sixteen percent (16%) are undecided.”
“Fifty-three percent (53%) still prefer a financial system with more competition and less regulation. Twenty-six percent (26%) would rather have more regulation and less competition in the financial system. Another 21% are not sure…”
“Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Democrats and 51% of adults not affiliated with either major political party support breaking up the megabanks, a plan that just 40% of Republicans favor.”
Storified by Brian Empric· Mon, Mar 25 2013 19:23:37
“The turnabout (of the stock market) is testament to healthy corporate profits and the resilience of America's free enterprise system. And it's a huge relief to workers whose 401(k) plans are tied to equities. But the risky little secret of the rebound is that it is powered in significant part by the easy-money policies of the Federal Reserve, which must one day end.”
“[T]he time is approaching to scale back the bond-buying spree and get ready to unwind some of the Fed's massive portfolio, which now tops $3 trillion. The longer the policy lasts, the more likely it will end unhappily.”
“Savers, particularly older ones trying to live on income from their investments, are starved for safe options. They've been forced into stocks, which is one reason the market has been acting as if it's on steroids. Further, with borrowing costs low, Congress and the White House have less incentive to rein in the national debt.”
“The market is ‘hooked on the drug’ of easy money, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher told Reuters… Fisher's comparison of Fed policies to a drug is apt. Markets might not like the idea of the drug being withdrawn now, when the Fed holds a portfolio of $3 trillion. But the withdrawal symptoms will be a lot worse once the portfolio grows to $4 trillion, or more.”
“The longer the Fed's easy-money policies go on, the greater the risk they will distort markets, create new bubbles and set the economy up for another fall.”
“With the White House closing its doors to public tour groups in order to save money for the sequester, it's worth remembering some of the other costs the White House incurs annually.
“Like the ‘Chief Calligrapher,’ Patricia A. Blair, who has an annual salary of $96,725, and her two deputies, Debra S. Brown, who gets paid $85,953 per year, and Richard T. Muffler, who gets paid $94,372 every year.”
Other #CutWaste opportunities here
“Let’s be honest about one thing: The budget introduced yesterday has about as much chance of becoming law as Nancy Pelosi does of being elected pope.”
“But at least it is a budget. It has now been more than four years since the Senate produced such a document. While Senate Democrats have pledged to do so this year, recent reports suggest that they are struggling to come up with a plan that can garner support from a majority of their members…”
“[T]he Ryan budget provides a view of Republican priorities and their vision for how to increase economic growth, reform entitlements, and balance the budget. While timid and imperfect, Ryan’s plan shows that Republicans are at least looking in the right direction.”
“On the spending side, Ryan would mostly retain the sequester, and would further reduce spending by $5.7 trillion from the current ten-year baseline, bringing the budget into balance by 2023.
“However, while we can undoubtedly look forward to news stories about how Ryan would slash spending, his budget doesn’t actually cut spending at all; it merely slows the rate of growth. Indeed, under Ryan’s proposal, federal spending would still grow by an average of 3.4 percent every year…”
“Ryan’s budget would leave us with roughly $20.85 trillion in debt in 2023, which is $5.29 trillion lower than under the current baseline but still a $4.15 trillion increase over what we currently owe…”
“The budget would also block-grant Medicaid and food stamps (the latter would be reformed more gradually, as the unemployment rate decreases), and reform civil-service pensions by requiring increased contributions from federal workers.”
“As Ryan says, ‘balancing the budget is a means to an end,’ that end being a growing economy and freer, more prosperous society.”
“Based on the premise that national economies grow by about 1 percent less when debt exceeds 90 percent of GDP, the president of the AAF (American Action Forum)—and former Congressional Budget Office director—Douglas Holtz-Eakin predicts that the Republican budget would allow for 5 percent more in economic growth than under current law, translating to that estimated 5 million new jobs in 10 years.”
“But despite the benefits of lowering the debt-to-GDP ratio, there is not widespread bipartisan agreement on whether balancing the budget should be a top priority. Ryan's plan would balance the budget through spending cuts alone. The Democratic plan calls for a combination of discretionary spending reductions, tax increases and boosting infrastructure spending, but it does not balance the budget in the foreseeable future.
“In an interview with ABC News this week, President Barack Obama said he was not interested in balancing the budget ‘just for the sake of balance. My goal is how do we grow the economy, put people back to work, and if we do that we are going to be bringing in more revenue.’”
“Over the next decade, spending under Murray's budget would increase by 62 percent... As the chart shows, the budget would increase a bit each year, under the Democratic plan.”
“Murray’s budget spends $2.2 trillion more in 2023 (the last year of the budget window) than the 2013 levels – a 62% increase (significantly outpacing inflation),” says a staff member on the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee.
“Ryan’s plan is revenue neutral… meaning that it is not an overall tax hike. Senate Democrats say in the Chairman’s Mark that their budget includes ‘only’ $923 billion in higher taxes over the next 10 years, but it turns out to be much higher. Buried elsewhere in their budget is $580 billion in additional tax hikes, bringing the total to $1.5 trillion.”
“Both budgets call for comprehensive tax reform, but they disagree on what that should look like. Chairman Ryan proposes simplifying and streamlining the tax code, highlighting the ‘maze’ of deductions, credits, limitations, and phase-outs that clutter the tax code. He also calls for rate reduction, on both the personal and corporate side… Representing a different vision, Senate Democrats want to ‘restore fairness to the tax code’ by making it even more progressive…”
“Although both plans call for eliminating loopholes, both are woefully short on specifics. Neither dives into the details of which deductions should be cut…”
“Chairman Ryan proposes to simplify our broken tax code by turning our seven individual income tax brackets into two, and then bringing down the marginal tax rates to 10% and 25%... Murray’s budget doesn’t lower personal income tax rates…”
“Chairman Ryan would cut the top corporate tax rate to 25 percent, but Murray’s budget would leave it untouched. AFP supports cutting the corporate tax rate—which is currently the highest in the industrialized world, at 35 percent—since low rates is a principle of optimal taxation and it would produce myriad positive results for the economy. According to a brand-new study from Tax Foundation, cutting the federal corporate tax rate to 25 percent would incite economic growth, more wages and job creation, and higher tax revenue.”
“So it looks like we've all been sentenced to spending at least two more years in budget hell with Barack Obama. Under the rules of budget hell set the past four years by the prince of Pennsylvania Avenue, you're not allowed to do anything real about federal spending. You can only fight over federal spending. Forever.”
“Amid the sequester smackdown with the White House, Republicans did something off-script: They called the Obama bluff. They let the sequester's spending cuts occur, and the apocalypse didn't descend. The only thing that cracked was the president's approval rating.”
“Ever since Ronald Reagan legitimized the efficacy of tax cuts, Democrats have sought to discredit his idea and restore the New Deal theory of a Keynesian multiplier, which dates to 1931. It holds that more public spending will revive a struggling economy… No president has believed more in the miracle of the multiplier than Barack Obama…”
“(Economist Alberto Alesina, a professor at Harvard University) has identified the alternative. His, and others', work the past decade with how struggling economies revive suggests that the Obama spend-more solution is the opposite of what the U.S. should be doing.”
“The path back to stronger growth, argues Mr. Alesina, is a combination of significant, permanent cuts in public spending and relatively small tax increases, if any.”
“Adjustments based upon spending cuts,” the economists concluded, “are much less costly in terms of output losses than tax-based ones. Spending-based adjustments”—that is, cuts—“have been associated with mild and short-lived recessions, in many cases with no recession at all. Tax-based adjustments”—tax increases—“have been associated with prolonged and deep recessions.”
“Fiscal plans based on large, permanent spending cuts are associated with renewed growth more than any alternative policy mix that has been tried. Indeed, spending cuts without big tax increases look to be the only thing that really works…”
“No worries, America. Debt is a preoccupation of the fringe, a mere distraction for anyone interested in progress. And anyway, as President Barack Obama explained this week, ‘we don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt. In fact, for the next 10 years, it’s going to be in a sustainable place.’
“That’s a pretty convenient position, wouldn’t you say, for a man who’s helped pile on trillions of dollars of new debt and created an entitlement that promises to escalate this non-crisis crisis of ours?”
“Right now, we’re spending more money to pay interest on debt than we’ll spend on education, homeland security, transportation and veterans’ benefits combined this year. Surely, there’s something better to spend that money on. And those interest payments are a significant tax on Americans — a debt tax that Washington doesn’t want to talk about. And just wait until interest rates rise, because at some point they will.
“Hey, I didn’t even come up with the previous paragraph. I cribbed it from a speech given on the Senate floor in 2006 by an up-and-comer named Barack Obama. He’s so articulate I couldn’t resist. But those were the stormy days when debt mattered because Republicans were … well, Republicans.”
“Of course, debt isn’t always a bad idea. We build things for the next generation, and they should chip in, no doubt. But right now, public debt is more than 75 percent of gross domestic product. So when do we get to worry? At 100 percent?”
“Last month, the Congressional Budget Office released its revised baseline for spending, taxation, and deficits for the next decade. It is not pretty. The gross federal debt is expected to increase by nearly $10 trillion over 10 years, from $16 trillion today to roughly $26 trillion in 2023.
“Beyond the 10-year horizon, the fiscal picture only gets worse. Without major reforms, the government’s vast array of health entitlements—starting with Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and Obamacare—are set to grow from about 5 percent of gross domestic product today to 9 percent in 2033, 12 percent in 2053, and 15 percent in 2073. There is no way the nation can afford that bill, absent a shocking increase in taxation. What’s more, taxes would have to be raised again and again and again, as health entitlements are expected to grow faster than the economy.”
“Much has been written about the nation’s awful budgetary outlook, but one aspect that is often overlooked is the effect the country’s debt and deficit will have on the American political landscape.”
“Right off the bat, the looming debt crisis explains why House Republicans persist with a policy solution that has not been politically popular in the past. Today’s House GOP believes it has no choice; the duties of responsible governing require a solution to this problem, even if such a solution is unpopular… The fiscal situation also explains why Senate Democrats have failed to produce a budget in four years. Senate majority leader Harry Reid has a hyper-transactional approach to politics, always preferring to shield his members from tough votes, or sweeten the pot for them when he has no choice.”
“Together, the different approaches that House Republicans and Senate Democrats have taken in dealing with the nation’s fiscal mess illustrate the profound changes occurring in American politics. Reid has chosen the fiscally irresponsible but politically easy path; Ryan the opposite. It is either one or the other, because the two goals are now mutually exclusive. A responsible policy requires a departure from the status quo—meaning higher taxes, entitlement reforms, or both—that will be politically dangerous.”
“Politicians of generations past could pass a budget or agree to raise the debt ceiling without much trouble because they never really had to worry that the debt was out of control. Today, they have no such luxury. Hence the persistent fighting over what were once perfunctory tasks.
“Until the public makes up its mind about what to do next, all bets about American politics are off. The near-term political outlook is messy, fraught with finger-pointing, demagoguery, and vitriolic rhetoric as both sides try to position themselves…”
“One thing, though, is clear: The political center as we know it today will no longer exist. For generations, Americans have demanded more, more, more from their government, which has been able to supply it without burdening the citizenry with onerous taxes. No longer. The time for painful choices is at hand.”