Posts Tagged ‘Stimulus’
We Won’, Part One
By Arnold Ahlert
63 House and 6 Senate seats later, “compromise” and “working together” have become the new memes for Democrat progressives and their media apparatchiks. That’s quite an amazing turnaround for those who, only a year ago, rammed a health care bill through Congress without the slightest concern for working together or compromise. It’s the very same bunch whose leader expressed his idea of compromise in two words: “I won.” Still, compromise sounds reasonable — until we get to the actual issues where progressives wish to “split the difference.” To wit:
• How do we split the difference between bankruptcy and solvency? Without the slightest interest in compromise, progressive Democrats rammed Keynesian economics down America’s throat with one stimulus package after another. They treated us to “3 million jobs created or saved,” “Recovery Summer” and “Quantitative Easing, Part 2.” The only thing “stimulated” was the unionized public sector workforce and a bunch of state governments with a pathological refusal to confront their own fiscal profligacy.
Millions of ordinary Americans didn’t get off their Barcaloungers and show up at rallies, town hall meetings, and the mall in Washington, D.C. because they wanted to slow down America’s headlong rush towards bankruptcy. They want it stopped — dead in its tracks. And the overwhelming majority of them know the bottom line: it’s the spending, stupid. Or, more importantly, it’s the spending, period. Spare us all the nonsense that raising taxes is an indispensible part of the equation. It’s only part of the equation for those members of the ruling class who wish to be relieved of making tough, responsible decisions, explaining them to a skeptical public, and standing by them when the inevitable wailing and gnashing of teeth begins.
The progressives’ “your killing granny and small children” strategy is hackneyed and tired. Bottom line: out-of-control spending is killing the whole country, grandma and small children included. And for those Americans who will inevitably say “cut every program but the one I like,” I have four words:
Snap out of it!
• Regarding war, what’s the middle ground between victory and defeat? Exactly what we’ve been witnessing the last eight years. Maybe the only thing dumber than fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda with one hand tied behind our back is telling them when we’re going to stop. Even the dimmest Afghani hillbilly can draw sustenance from that nonsense. And what does al Qaeda think when we allow them to remain open for business in North Waziristan, while were feeling up grandma and the kids at O’Hare Airport?
Memo to our clueless Commander-in-Chief: the last time we were faced with an enemy that used suicide to advances its political agenda, we nuked them. Twice. You want to “win hearts and minds?” Me too — right after we completely demoralize and destroy anyone unwilling to get with the program. In 1651, English philosopher Thomas Hobbs remarked that life was “nasty, brutal and short.” War should be an exponential expansion of that philosophy. If you can’t stomach it, bring our men and women in harm’s way home — or resign.
• What’s the middle ground between national sovereignty and a defenseless border? Again, exactly what we have now. Millions of law-breakers who not only don’t fear being here illegally, but who are now demanding the right to stay. This is perhaps the biggest black eye in history for a country which has long prided itself as being a “nation of laws, not a nation of men.” Even as Mexican drug cartels run wild — on both sides of the border — Eric Holder’s Justice Department is determined to sue Arizona into surrendering its own sovereignty for nothing more than political correctness and the progressive hope they can Dream Act their way to a 2012 Hispanic voting bloc keeping them power.
Last week a report, “Broken Neighbor, Broken Border,” complied for the House Immigration Reform Caucus was made public. It was a sobering and scary look at what may be the hottest war in the world going on right now, right on our southern border — and beyond. Two of its principal recommendations? First, “Let the states secure their own borders.” Second, engage in a “long-term deployment of a minimum 25,000 armed troops with enforcement power… on our southern border to preserve U.S. sovereignty and the lives of American citizens from organized armed forces hostile to the United States.” (italics mine)
Question: when does the deliberate failure to enforce the Constitutional mandate to “provide for the common defense” rise to an impeachable offense? As for compromise, where in the Constitution does it say that national security is a part-time job, or a pick-and-choose affair?
• What’s the compromise between free-market capitalism and all-out socialism? Thirteen trillion dollars of debt and an unemployment rate of almost ten percent. Millions of jobs outsourced to “business friendlier” locales. Out-of-control public sector unions pushing virtually every state and local government in the country to the brink of insolvency. Banks, car and insurance companies and a host of other crony capitalists who despise genuine competition, bailed out by taxpayers because they’re “too big to fail.” An ideologically-inspired and idiotic refusal to allow the housing market to find a true bottom, even as the concept of moral hazard receives a steroid shot, and responsible Americans are made to feel like fools for being responsible.
Once again for the terminally clueless: progressivism, and its redistributionist mantra, is the super-highway to sloth, serfdom and subjugation. Anyone who thinks “more government” is the answer is either a moron — or a public school and university graduate. And anyone who thinks someone will bust his butt strictly out of the goodness of his heart — as opposed to having an incentive to do so — is even dumber than that.
There are reasons the United States has long out-performed all of South America economically, despite being settled by the exact same groups of people. There are reasons one of the youngest nations in the world leapt to the head of the pack in less than two hundred years. All one has to do is cast one’s eyes towards the individual states where progressives have been firmly in charge, or to Eastern Europe, where they broke the Berlin Wall down from the inside, to understand what happens to people when the “beneficence of the state” replaces personal ambition, individual achievement — and human dignity.
For those of you who are still unconvinced, two simple questions will suffice: could socialism survive without capitalism? Not a chance. Could capitalism survive without socialism? Absolutely, positively. The former eventually “runs out of other people’s money,” exactly as it’s doing now. The latter made us the most prosperous nation on earth.
Americans have to be realistic. The rejection of progressivism is, at the very least, a two-election process. Getting a majority of Republicans in the House can only stop the progressive agenda. Rolling it back will require an equally determined electorate in 2012. Not just to put Republicans in the control of the Senate and the White House, but to put conservatives in control of the Republican party. Heaven help us all if 2012 turns into another choice between an aging squish with liberal tendencies, and a dedicated Marxist looking for four more years to undo everything this nation has stood for, for two-plus centuries. As for his partner in crime, our current as Secretary of State, anyone who thinks Mrs. Clinton is any better than Mr. Obama is kidding themselves. That’s nothing more than a choice between two deck chairs on the Titanic.
Between now and 2012, Americans need to pay attention. The Democrats are a known socialist/marxist commodity which was made crystal clear by their re-election of one of the least popular women in American politics, Nancy Pelosi, to speaker. What that means is simple: the most left-leaning conglomeration of Democrats in the nation’s history have decided to lean further left, despite a complete repudiation in the 2010 election. Does that sound like “compromise” to you?
Republicans? Perhaps all they can do for the next two years is stand on conservative principle — but they sure as hell better do that. Memo to the RNC: Americans didn’t elect Republicans, they tossed Democrats under the bus. And while some common ground with Democrats may be found, Republicans had better understand that people who put them back in power have little patience for those willing to “go along to get along” when it comes to the critical issues mentioned above. These are Americans who saw the true face of Democrat progressivism, and weren’t merely upset, but thoroughly appalled.
They don’t want compromise. They want a line drawn in the sand.
The latest bailout for public unions and spendthrift states.
To treat Washington’s spending addiction, the November elections are the taxpayer’s best chance to stage an intervention. But until then, President Obama and the Democratic Congress are determined to keep pushing strung-out state governments to take one more fix.
Witness yesterday’s 247-161 largely party-line House vote to approve a Senate bill shovelling another $26.1 billion out to state education and Medicaid programs. The White House has promoted the bill as emergency assistance for strained state budgets. But this unique brand of therapy drives states to spend more, not less. The “assistance” is so expensive that several governors were begging for relief even before Mr. Obama signed it into law.
Standing with teachers yesterday in the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Obama said, “We can’t stand by and do nothing while pink slips are given to the men and women who educate our children or keep our communities safe.” Maintaining the salaries and generous benefit plans for members of teachers unions is indeed a top Democratic priority. That’s why $10 billion of the bill’s funding is allocated to education, and the money comes with strings that will multiply the benefits for this core Obama constituency.
Specifically, the bill stipulates that federal funds must supplement, not replace, state spending on education. Also, in each state, next year’s spending on elementary and secondary education as a percentage of total state revenues must be equal to or greater than the previous year’s level.
Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi did the math and figured out his state will be worse off. Mr. Barbour says the bill will force his state “to rewrite its current year [fiscal 2011] budget. Preliminary estimates of the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration show that we will now have to spend between $50-100 million of state funds—funds that must be taken away from public safety, human services, mental health and other state priorities and given to education—in order for an additional $98 million of federal funds to be granted to education. There is no justification for the federal government hijacking state budgets, but that is exactly what Congress has done.”
For Texas, and only Texas, this funding rule will be in place through 2013. This is a form of punishment because the Beltway crowd believes the Lone Star State didn’t spend enough of its 2009 stimulus money. Apparently Texas politicians have been clinging to the quaint notion that the government should try to live within its means.
Texans also seem to have an old-fashioned appreciation for the rule of law. On Friday, 22 GOP Members of the state’s Congressional delegation sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “This provision would have Texas violate her own State Constitution,” they wrote. “The Texas Legislature has sole authority to determine State appropriations. Moreover, one Legislature cannot bind a future Legislature. Requiring the State to assure that a future Texas Legislature would commit to spend funds in accordance with these provisions would violate the Texas Constitution.”
Texas Governor Rick Perry is also opposed to this new “assistance” from the federal government. He understands that one-time payments that force permanently higher state obligations are a windfall for government employees. But if given the choice, taxpayers would just say no.
That’s because taxpayers are figuring out that these state bailouts are only making unions more reluctant to share their sacrifice. While Mr. Obama quotes the union figure of 160,000 potential lost teacher jobs, those don’t have to come out of the classroom. According to research by Eric Hanushek of Stanford University, student enrollment grew by 22% from 1990 to 2007, but teacher employment grew by 41%. Since 2000, enrollment has grown by 5% but teacher employment by 10%.
The unions themselves could have prevented some layoffs had they been willing to adjust their rich benefits. In Milwaukee, for example, nearly all of the 500 teacher layoffs announced earlier this year could have been avoided if the unions had agreed to change health plans that cost $23,000 per teacher per year for family coverage. They could have accepted a still-rich $17,000 plan. The unions chose the layoffs, betting (correctly) that Democrats in Washington would come to their rescue.
Keep in mind that this teacher bailout also amounts to a huge contribution by Democrats to their own election campaigns. The National Right to Work Committee estimates that two of every three teachers belong to unions. The average union dues payment varies, but a reasonable estimate is that between 1% and 1.5% of teacher salaries goes to dues. The National Education Association and other unions will thus get as much as $100 million in additional dues from this bill, much of which will flow immediately to endangered Democratic candidates in competitive House and Senate races this year.
So in the name of still another “stimulus,” Democrats are rewarding their own political funders, putting the most fiscally responsible states into even greater distress, and postponing the day of reckoning for spendthrift states. Oh, and Mr. Obama rushed to sign the bill Tuesday, violating his campaign pledge to give the public five days to read legislation online. As we say, the only way for voters to stop such fiscal abuse is to run this crowd out of town.