Let’s get one thing straight before we start: George W. Bush was not perfect. As a conservative, I disagreed with “No Child Left Behind” and the prescription drug bill. Both were liberal policies that were ill-conceived and cost too much. However, I believe history will give Mr. Bush a lot more credit than many do today.
Unfortunately, the former president has provided the Dems with a couple of straw-men to hide behind that have been left largely untouched by republicans. These straw-men are that “George Bush wrecked the economy” and/or that it was his deregulation that caused the economic collapse. On the latter point, there isn’t one actual policy of George Bush’s that anyone can point to that caused the economic collapse. And the liberal talking point about “deregulation” is just that: a talking point. It has no basis in fact because there were no regulations that were done away with that had anything to do with the collapse. The idea that the Bush Administration deregulated anything that led to the collapse is a complete myth, and if you push any liberal on what specific deregulations they’re referring to, they won’t be able to come up with any.
The former point, that Bush generally “wrecked the economy” with his policies, has been trumpeted by our current president since he began his run for the presidency. Barry has stated time and time again that he “inherited” an economy wrecked by the policies of the Bush Administration and that Bush took a budget surplus from Bill Clinton and created a trillion dollar deficit. Now, it’s possible, or even likely, that conservatives are ignoring these claims simply because they can. After a year and a half of unmitigated failure on the part of B.O. and a Dem-controlled Congress, why unnecessarily dredge up the unfriendly past? Barry isn’t scoring any points by continuing to blame his predecessor. Nevertheless, I’ve always found the claims that Bush wrecked the economy to be frustratingly over the top. Well, Brian Riedl of the admittedly conservative Heritage Foundation agrees. He’s authored an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal about the Bush economy, and I recommend you read all of it. Since I have read it, however, I’ll provide some highlights below:
1. Bush tax cuts ruined Clinton surplus. Simply put, there never was a surplus. It was based upon CBO forecasts that assumed, as liberals often do, and unrealistic utopia.
[The surplus projection] assumed that late-1990s economic growth and the stock-market bubble (which had already peaked) would continue forever and generate record-high tax revenues. It assumed no recessions, no terrorist attacks, no wars, no natural disasters, and that all discretionary spending would fall to 1930s levels.
And those Bush tax cuts for the wealthy that the libs continue to scream about to this day?
Specifically, the tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 are responsible for just 4% of the swing. If there were no Bush tax cuts, runaway spending and economic factors would have guaranteed more than $4 trillion in deficits over the decade and kept the budget in deficit every year except 2007.
2. The deficit is the result of Bush’s policies. You really should read the actual article for all the nitty-gritty details, but simply put, the Bush policies that the libs claim caused most of the huge deficit, i.e. two wars, prescription drug benefits, and tax cuts, amounted to a deficit of $161 billion. While no small potatoes, it’s a hell of a lot less than where our current deficit sits (projected at approximately $13 trillion over ten years). And Reidl brings up an even better point: why single out the Bush policies, when they comprise approx. 1/3 of the total deficit?
Third and most importantly, the White House methodology is arbitrary. With Washington set to tax $33 trillion and spend $46 trillion over the next decade, how does one determine which policies “caused” the $13 trillion deficit? Mr. Obama could have just as easily singled out Social Security ($9.2 trillion over 10 years), antipoverty programs ($7 trillion), other Medicare spending ($5.4 trillion), net interest on the debt ($6.1 trillion), or nondefense discretionary spending ($7.5 trillion).
In addition to identifying the source of the majority of our deficit, the foregoing brings up a different argument for a different day: what constitutes a legitimate government function (military spending vs. entitlements, for example)? Regardless of your answer, it is clear that our current president’s spending dwarfs the spending of Mr. Bush, and is simply unsustainable.
Putting this together, the budget deficit, historically 2.3% of GDP, is projected to leap to 8.3% of GDP by 2020 under current policies. This will result from Washington taxing at 0.2% of GDP above the historical average but spending 6.2% above its historical average.
Entitlements and other obligations are driving the deficits. Specifically, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and net interest costs are projected to rise by 5.4% of GDP between 2008 and 2020. The Bush tax cuts are a convenient scapegoat for past and future budget woes. But it is the dramatic upward arc of federal spending that is the root of the problem.
These points must be remembered come November. Whether it’s deliberate or not, the current administration is spending us into a hole that we won’t be able to simply tax our way out of. These policies can be stopped if republicans re-take at least one house of Congress, thereby reviving the checks and balances that our government relies upon to function.
Sherman’s March to the Sea? It appears that the Dems may attempt the legislative equivalent on their way out of Washington. Many are predicting the Dems will lose the House in this November’s election, which would rid us all of Nancy “I represent the views of .001% of America but dictate national policy” Pelosi and force the president’s move to the center, much like Clinton had to do after the 1994 mid-term elections (no, he wasn’t always a moderate).
But the Wall Street Journal reports that a dastardly plan is being hatched: pushing through legislation that the Dems don’t have the guts to push now, during the “lame-duck” period between the actual election and the transfer of power (a few months). Card-check, new taxes, additional environmental regulations? Would the House Dems really work so hard to force policies down the throats of Americans who don’t want them? Of course they would! See, for example, the healthcare bill.
Now, should we all panic like some are doing? I don’t think so. This “lame duck” session strategy really only applies to the House, because as we all know, any law requires ratification by both houses of Congress (see below). As long as the Republicans in the Senate remain committed to using the filibuster, as they have been so far, all of the unpopular laws passed by the House will die in the Senate. So, instead of taking Pelosi’s threats as a bad thing, remember that the only reason the lame-duck route is being thrown out there is because she’s very concerned about losing her majority in November.
Maybe I should amend my home page about why I became a conservative. See, I was born and raised in Michigan, and its economy has been in the toilet even when the rest of the country was doing well. Then I moved to California, which is now practically bankrupt. Now I live in Illinois, which is even worse than California when it comes to fiscal discipline. All three of these states are democratic hell-holes, and, not coincidentally, entitlement black-holes. Spending on every human interest story and after-school special that held out its hand was able to be ignored when the economy was good. Now that the economy continues to lag, the lunacy of the left is revealed.
A New York Times article today provides a revealing look at just how dependent we have apparently become on those government entitlements. Illinois is currently $5.01 billion in the red. Comptroller Dan Hynes states,
‘This is not some esoteric budget issue; we are not paying bills for absolutely essential services,’ he says. ‘That is obscene.’
Hynes is right–it is obscene. But not because we aren’t paying for “essential services.” The amount of money this state has committed to paying for practically everything is what’s obscene. A goal of government has never been to become a major part of the economy. Many complain about companies being “too big to fail,” but few complain about the government being too big to fail. In addition to its own budgetary boondoggle, Illinois is also a microcosm of the federal government spending too much on too many so-called “essential services.” Make no mistake, there are legitimate governmental functions out there that should be receiving tax dollars…but we’ve moved far past them.
Someone needs to run for office and actually take a stand against run-away government spending, instead of just saying it. Someone needs to say no to the human interest stories. Someone needs to remind this country of what it is, not what it has become. Essential services don’t include public education. They don’t include endless unemployment benefits. They don’t include corporate subsidies. They don’t include housing subsidies. They don’t include this:
The Community Counseling Centers of Chicago is another of those workaday groups that are like the stitches on a baseball, holding together poor and working-class neighborhoods. With an annual budget of $16 million, the agency tends to families torn by crime and violence as well as people who are psychologically stressed and abusing drugs.
‘Two weeks ago, I had days to meet my $420,000 payroll and all I was looking at was a $200,000 line of credit from a bank,’ recalled [Chief Administrative Officer John] Troy.
$16 million a year? For community center? You don’t think that’s being mismanaged at all? There are entire cities that run on that budget. $420,000 in payroll? Again, for a community center? Now I know why our president was a community organizer. Instead of implementing some sort of fiscal restraint years ago on programs like this, Illinois citizens in towns like Carbondale, many of whom have never even been to Chicago, are now having money taken out of their pockets for this $16 million per year monstrosity. Why? Because no one has the guts to stand up to those who spit out the “these people need help” meme.
Legislators this year raised the retirement age and slashed benefits. Though changes apply only to future employees, the legislature claimed immediate savings.
“Savings upfront and reforms down the road,” said Mr. Hynes, the state comptroller. “It’s just bad habits and bad practices.”
I’m not exactly sure what Hynes is trying to say here, but Illinois’ problems go well beyond “bad habits and bad practices.” Illinois, like California and Michigan, has placed an overwhelmingly heavy burden on the majority of the population for the benefit of the “those in need of help” minority. Of course, since no one actually attempts to define who those people are, and what constitutes “need,” the government just throws more and more money at them. Illinois’ budget disaster is largely the result of arbitrary determinations of need, made by those running for office. That’s the exact opposite of good government.
More broadly, Illinois is caught between blue state convictions about social safety nets and a red state aversion to taxes. For years, the Democratic-controlled legislature has passed budgets that are, in effect, in deficit. Lawmakers routinely skip around the state’s balanced-budget law, with few consequences. (Republicans are near monolithic in voting against any tax increases and borrowings. When one broke ranks to try to keep the pension solvent, he was stripped of a committee position, reducing his pay and pension.)
This is where the New York Times goes from reporting the news to offering its opinions. Illinois isn’t “caught between blue state convictions about safety social safety nets and a red state aversion to taxes.” It’s caught between the corrupt political machine in Chicago, which is driven entirely by a small group of liberals, and the rest of the state. And those monolithic Republicans? The article fails to mention that they are in the perpetual minority in the Illinois legislature. The implication that Republicans have some hand in the budget crisis is laughable.
Of course, the response of Mr. Hynes, as it is with all liberals, isn’t to cut spending…it’s to raise taxes.
‘Only the most delusional people think you can solve this without raising taxes,’ he said.
Well Mr. Hynes, and by extension, Mr. Obama, you’re delusional to think that raising taxes will improve anything. We would still have government full of corrupt politicians who vote themselves raises and refuse to cut spending because it might cost them votes. How much in governmental salary are you making Mr. Hynes? How about Mayor Daley? Governor Quinn? Before government employees, who are paid with my taxes, stick their hands in my pockets again, why don’t they do their part?
On this Fourth of July, remember that we don’t depend on the government, but it does depend on us. Even better, remember it in November. In the meantime, I will continue to pressure my wife into a new move…to South Dakota.
Before we begin what is always a contentious issue (combining both religion and politics), let’s get a few things out of the way. Yes, I do read the Huffington Post, sometimes. Yes, I am a Christian. Yes, I do believe every Christian should bring their Christianity into every segment of their life. No, I don’t know who Jim Wallis is. Yes, I think Mr. Wallis is doing a disservice to Christianity with his article.
With all of that being said, let’s get started.
Mr. Wallis posted an opinion piece on the Huffington Post website a few days ago. The topic was whether libertarianism is consistent with Christianity. When I first examined the piece, I said to myself, “self, libertarianism is obviously not consistent with Christianity. But then again, neither are any of the other political philosophies.” At this point, I wasn’t going to write this post, but then I realized that Mr. Wallis wasn’t just arguing against libertarianism being considered “Christian,” but was advocating that liberalism was a decidedly more Christian perspective. When I read something this stupid, I feel compelled to respond.
Mr. Wallis examines five “points” of libertarian thought, and tries to analyze them in a sort of “What Would Jesus Do?” fashion. Two thoughts immediately came to mind. First, I haven’t heard anybody actually advocate that libertarianism was consistent with Christianity, so what’s the point of his post? Second, I have never been a fan of the W.W.J.D. fad, because I consider it to be unnecessarily manufactured religion. Also, since we are all imperfect beings, no one can actually answer the question with any amount of certainty.
I’m not going to examine Mr. Wallis’ five points in the manner that he presents them, i.e. is libertarianism consistent with Christianity. Instead, I’m going to address a liberal assertion he makes in each of his points, and compare it to Christian principles.
1. Loving your neighbor is a better Christian response than telling your neighbor to leave you alone. Both compassion and social justice are fundamental Christian commitments, and while the Christian community is responsible for living out both, government is also held accountable to the requirements of justice and mercy.
An important point to be made about government: it is not, and I would argue cannot, be “Christian.” Why? First of all, the United States government is secular. Second, it is a man-made construct whose goal is to keep people from stepping on each other; not dispense “social justice,” whatever that liberal phrase means.
Now, Wallis’ point about loving one’s neighbor being “better” than telling one’s neighbor to leave them alone may be a more Christian position. It’s true that, as Christians, we are called to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” We are not called, however, to “love our neighbor” at gun point. Government cannot compel me to love my neighbor. Instead, government simply keeps me from killing my neighbor, or vice versa. One should certainly not be filing their taxes with the warm and fuzzy feeling that they “helped their neighbor (although Joe Biden might).”
2. In Romans 13, the apostle Paul (not the Kentucky Senate candidate) describes the role and vocation of government; in addition to the church, government also plays a role in God’s plan and purposes. Preserving the social order, punishing evil and rewarding good, and protecting the common good are all prescribed; we are even instructed to pay taxes for those purposes!
Wallis is correct when he says God commands Christians to respect the authority of political leaders because their authority was given them by God. Wallis’ assertion that we pay taxes to protect the common good, however, is a fiction, at least as set forth in Romans 13. Paul did state, at Romans 13:6, that we are to pay taxes to the governing authority. However, the only purpose taxes serve, at least as set forth in Romans 13, is to pay politician salaries, as they “give their full time to governing.” There is no mention of public welfare. Also, the article he links to doesn’t even mention the Bible.
As an aside, Wallis uses this opportunity to incorrectly associate libertarians with a belief they don’t actually hold. It’s the same belief I hear associated with conservatives in general, from time to time.
To disparage government per se — to see government as the central problem in society — is simply not a biblical position.
When did small government advocates suddenly become anarchists? Neither libertarians, nor those slightly less conservative, “disparage government per se.” Instead, they/we disparage an unnecessarily large and intrusive government, which consists not of leaders whose interests are the people, but of leaders whose only interests are establishing and maintaining their power over the people.
3. Libertarians seem to believe in the myth of the sinless market and that the self-interest of business owners or corporations will serve the interests of society; and if they don’t, it’s not government’s role to correct it.
This is an example of why I don’t like “W.W.J.D.?” I have no idea what Jesus would think about the free market. I’m guessing he wouldn’t like it, since its motivating factor is greed, but what do I know? Sensing the same difficulty, Wallis quickly dumps the religious analysis, and moves on to analyze the free market vs. “practical issues that the public sector has to solve.” As a practical issue, there is no question the free market is a significant improvement over a more socialized economy. One need only look at history to figure that out. Some government regulation is obviously necessary, but how much? Obviously a balance must be struck, but I fail to see a “this much regulation is more biblically-based than that much” answer.
4. “Leave me alone to make my own choices and spend my own money” is a political philosophy that puts those who need help at a real disadvantage. And those who need help are central to any Christian evaluation of political philosophy.
This is my most-despised liberal argument made to Christians because it seeks to take advantage of our beliefs. The “aren’t you called to help the poor” nonsense. This line of reasoning actually works on a lot of Christians, and the “social justice” argument has caught hold in some denominations. The argument is incorrect though, because it misses a huge point. Christians are called to help the poor, or those in need generally, freely. In other words, we do it voluntarily, for the express purpose of helping someone. I said this earlier, but it bears repeating. Paying your taxes does not constitute charitable giving. Why? Because it’s forced. I’ve always found it ironic to hear liberals, or Europeans, criticize this country for its lack of compassion, when this country is the most charitable nation in the world.
It is incorrect to argue that “those who need help are central to any Christian evaluation of political philosophy.” As indicated earlier, the central issue to a “Christian evaluation of political philosophy” is whether the leaders are acting with justice and mercy; not whether the elderly receive medicare.
5. Finally, I am just going to say it. There is something wrong with a political movement like the Tea Party which is almost all white.’
In my humble opinion, Wallis ruins any sort of credibility that he may have had prior to this point. It’s the liberal meme of “the Tea Partiers hate Obama because he’s black, and so they’re all racists, and they marry their cousins, etc.” Wallis takes it a step further though, by arguing that, because they’re all racists, their political positions must be non-biblical. There are so many half-assed assumptions and simple untruths in this point that it’s difficult to even focus a response. I guess I’ll leave it simply at this: racism is non-biblical, and not all of the Tea Partiers, or libertarians, or conservatives, are racist. Plus, “racism” isn’t a political party or ideology, so I’m not sure why it reared its ugly head here.
Conclusion: None of the political parties are biblically based. They are, instead, human constructs formed for the practical purpose of running a government. Nothing more, nothing less. I would caution Wallis on one thing, however. The minute you start throwing stones about biblically based political ideologies, be prepared to absorb them yourself. Life starting at any time other than the moment of conception is not biblically based. A woman’s right to choose an abortion is not biblically based. The right to cheat on your spouse is not biblically based. Finally, the right to gay marriage is not bibically based. Therefore, if our government is biblically based, all of the foregoing should be made illegal. I won’t hold my breath.
American citizen, and radical Yemeni cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki has been put on the C.I.A’s hit list. In other words, he’s been “designated for death.” The article lays out the on-going debate with respect to Awlaki; namely, should our government be able to mark a citizen for death without due process? An anonymous counter-terrorism official says absolutely:
“American citizenship doesn’t give you carte blanche to wage war against your own country,” said a counterterrorism official who discussed the classified program on condition of anonymity. “If you cast your lot with its enemies, you may well share their fate.”
That’s a great statement, if you’re Rambo and it’s a movie. This is the real world, though, and the clear answer to the question posed by the article is no. An American citizen must have due process. That’s simply how it works.
Now, the whole issue of citizenship is really just a red herring, right? The Supreme Court ruled long ago that one’s citizenship could be rescinded by the federal government under certain circumstances (See Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, for example). One of those circumstances is treason. Awlaki’s call to kill Americans, and his alleged involvement in planning the Christmas day airline bombing, certainly constitute treason. Rescinding his citizenship would be easy (and should be done).
The article indirectly brings up a larger question, though. How far are we willing to go to kill terrorists? Following 9/11, President Bush said we would kill terrorists (not just Al Qaeda) where they were found, and would deal forcefully with any country that harbored them. Irregardless of the WMD issue, the war against Iraq was in keeping with Bush’s warning. Iraq harbored terrorists, and so they were dealt with forcefully.
It’s dicey to argue that everyone on the C.I.A.’s hit list is an actual terrorist (humans are fallible after all). That being said, what would we have our government do? I find very few things to be legitimate functions of government, but the defense of its people is certainly one of them. And what’s the point of living under government if not for self-preservation?
The answer is simple: If we can’t detain him, we should kill him where he stands. If we are unwilling to do so, the fight will increasingly come back to our shores.
I don’t listen to much conservative talk radio, because I find many of them to be over the top (I’m looking at you Beck). Instead, during my hour and a half drive to and from work, I listen to progressive talk radio. Why? Because they’re nuts and it keeps me awake.
This morning, Bill Press delighted in reflecting upon Utah’s ouster of Republican incumbent Senator Bennett. “Republicans eating their own.” I don’t know how to analyze this assertion because I don’t know what a Republican is anymore. Bennett’s ouster is certainly a victory for our representative democracy, however.
Senator Bennett, and other incumbents like him, was a problem; and not because he voted in favor of the bailout. He was a problem because he was a three-term Senator. When someone is a three-term Senator, they are no longer a representative, they are a monarch. Senator Bennett, and others like him, are the reason why we need term limits.
Senator Bennett ignored his constituents: the people of Utah. He was also a member of Congress who helped us arrive at our current predicament. While not a current member of the majority, he was part of the Republican majority that led to Nancy Pelosi becoming third in line for the presidency. Unfortunately, he, and others like him, became entrenched in Washington, and ignored everyone except the special interest groups and lobbyists.
Neither Senator Bennett, nor any Senator, should have been able to get past two terms. I have a difficult time believing that the Founders, them being part-time politicians, would have been in favor of the Ted Kennedy’s, and Arlen Specter’s, and the John McCain’s of America, men who have become full-time (and life-time) politicians. These men maintain their position not because of their popularity, but because of their war-chest.
A little, or a lot, of blood-letting i government is good. Individual Congressman have failed in representing their constituencies for too long, and hopefully the American people will wake up and take this opportunity to do their jobs: vote.