“We repose an unwise confidence in any government, or in any men, when we invest them officially with too much, or an unnecessary quantity of, discretionary power.” –Thomas Paine, Serious Address to the People of Philadelphia, 1778
TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS
After impressive 5% GDP growth in the third quarter of 2014, the initial estimate for the fourth quarter is growth of just 2.6%. Given rising consumer confidence, this may be puzzling. Bloomberg reports, “Cheaper gasoline and the largest employment increase since 1999 are boosting household confidence, increasing the odds that consumer spending can sustain gains following its biggest advance in almost nine years. At the same time, business investment is cooling as companies such as Caterpillar Inc. say plunging oil prices, a rising dollar and slowing growth abroad hurt sales globally.” Barack Obama’s job approval ratings have risen following the third quarter boost, but the fourth quarter number indicates we’re not out of the woods just yet – indeed, far from a real recovery, we’re seeing tepid and unstable growth. We’ll just leave it to Joe Biden to sum it up: “To state the obvious, the past six years have been really, really hard for this country.” More…
Two years of “free” college recently became a signature proposal for Barack Obama’s so-called “middle-class economics.” Well, that’s not good enough for Joe Biden – he wants four years free. “We’ve been ahead of the curve, except now people are catching up,” Biden explained. “No other country in the world had universal education for 12 years, including Great Britain, for the first quarter of the century, and only until recently have they started that in China and other countries. Nobody has the great research universities we have.” He added, “So what’s the next logical move to stay ahead of the curve? 14 years. If I had my way, and could figure out how to pay for it, there should be 16 years; college should be free.” Even when Democrats make these pitches, though, they can’t help but acknowledge that it isn’t at all “free.” The only obstacle Biden lists is figuring out how to pay for it. Do we hear a 2016 platform taking shape?
This may be another sign establishment Republicans won’t challenge Barack Obama’s executive amnesty. In the 2013 fiscal year, Obama released 36,007 immigrants who were accused of committing crimes as minor as traffic violations and as serious as murder. On Friday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) quietly released a list itemizing the crimes committed by 1,000 of those released illegal aliens. Unfortunately, he chose to do so after the confirmation hearing of Obama’s potential new attorney general, Loretta Lynch. The Daily Caller reports, “Had the list been made public at the hearing, GOP senators could have pushed the media to focus on the huge cost of Obama’s 2010 decision to minimize enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws. But that attention would have also increased public pressure to reject Lynch, who is supported by Democrats and their allies in the media.” Grassley’s belated move shows that many Republicans are content not critiquing the Obama administration, despite lip service about stopping Obama’s executive overreach prioritizing the deportation of criminal illegal immigrants – even as it’s already clear Obama’s policy has failed. More…
This may be another reason why former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was forced from the Pentagon. In an interview with CNN, Hagel admitted he faced pressure from the Obama administration on releasing prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. “Not everyone at the White House has agreed with me,” Hagel said. While the Obama administration wants Gitmo emptied quickly, Hagel said he resisted the pressure from Obama, pressure from Congress and pressure from the press “because I have the responsibility and I play my own game here.” He added, “And that is because, by law, I am the one official in government charged with certification of release of detainees. I take that responsibility very seriously.” These remarks demonstrate Obama is still working behind closed doors to make good on his campaign promises – no matter the consequences. More…
Well, this marks a shift in U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East – the U.S. is talking to the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. A senior U.S. official told The Wall Street Journal, “We have to take pains not to end up inflaming the situation by inadvertently firing on Houthi fighters. They’re not our military objective. It’s AQAP [al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula] and we have to stay focused on that.” Let’s get this straight: Iran backs a group that has destabilized Yemen’s pro-American government. In response, the U.S. cozies up to the group because the enemy of our enemy is our friend. Furthermore, Hot Air’s Noah Rothman points to a story about how Israeli intelligence believes the U.S. has given into 80% of Iran’s demands while hashing out the nuclear deal. When did Iran stop being the state sponsor of terrorism bent on creating a nuclear bomb? When Barack Obama cast aside the nation’s true objectives. More…
For more, visit Right Hooks.
Yep, smiling New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped the groundhog last year and it later died of its injuries. He really put the ground in groundhog.
By law, today is the day the U.S. president must submit his budget to Congress. The word “budget” implies balancing a list of expenditures taken from projected revenue. Instead, Barack Obama’s $4 trillion budget will continue to blow the lid off the federal debt while taking from those who work in order to spend on those who don’t. “Middle-class economics” at its finest.
Obama’s projections claim that, over the next 10 years, growth of the $18 trillion malignant tumor known as the federal debt will be slowed by $1.8 trillion. He claims this will be accomplished through a formula of tax increases rather than generating more taxpayers or increasing consumer wealth for spending.
He calls this “the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”
But his pitch is nothing new. Every single one of Obama’s seven budgets has included major tax increases. Then again, it is Groundhog Day.
Nineteenth century French philosopher Frédéric Bastiat pondered the socialistic activity that serves the state and that would be otherwise criminal – legal plunder: “But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”
Before we break out the microscope and look at the granular items of the Obama tax-and-spend plan, appreciate that in the federal budget there are three types of spending: mandatory spending – based on existing law and approaching two-thirds of the entire budget; discretionary spending – that which goes through the annual appropriations process and is less than one-third of total outlays; and interest payments on the debt.
Mandatory spending is largely composed of earned-benefit and entitlement programs: Social Security (almost 23% of total spending), Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, some transportation expenditures and part of our veterans’ benefits. This mandatory spending is projected to consume in excess of $2.5 trillion. So, with the exception of roads and veterans’ benefits, largely unconstitutional “mandatory” programs receive about 65% of our tax dollars.
Discretionary spending includes the military, education, housing, energy, environment and food/agriculture. Isn’t it interesting that the military budget (in the Constitution) is “discretionary” while food stamps (not in the Constitution) are “mandatory”?
To appear as appeasing Republicans, Obama will tout his call to increase military funding by reversing the “sequester” – the bipartisan shell game that reduced nominal growth and did not cut real spending. But as Obama dangles this carrot, he calls for $530 billion more in “nondefense discretionary spending” – largely entitlement spending that is already, as noted above, mammoth.
To pay for the budget-cap-busting 7% spending increase, Obama calls for new taxes on the “wealthy,” whom he despises for their success. These include:
Increasing the capital gains tax from 23.8% to 28%, which will serve as a disincentive to work, save and invest.
Implementing a new cap on all IRAs and 401(k) accounts to tax investments that provide an annual distribution of more than $210,000. Obama’s cutting you off, you greedy savers.
Eliminating dependent-care flexible spending accounts, which allow tax-free savings for those caring for a senior or dependent with special needs.
Establishing an inheritance tax of 40% of an asset’s value on top of a 28% capital gains tax applied to the increase in the asset’s value from original purchase to the time of inheritance. Obama wants you to transfer your wealth, just not to anyone in your family.
The list of new tax increases doesn’t include the proposed tax on foreign corporate profits or a bank tax directed at about 100 of the larger, profitable companies that will certainly forward those costs to customers. Nor does it include the 20 taxes hidden in the “Affordable” Care Act that will continue to pop up as the law is fully implemented.
Thanks to this redistribution of wealth, Obama claims, “We can afford to make these investments.” The $18.1 trillion debt – up from $10.6 trillion when he took office – would beg to differ. In fact, his “middle-class economics” pitch will continue to foment class division and envy while driving the nation ever deeper into debt.
Bastiat was exactly right: “The politician attempts to remedy the evil by increasing the very thing that caused the evil in the first place: legal plunder.”
The Obama administration has reached what is best described as a metastatic level of denial, aided and abetted by semantical manipulation. Last week, one of the five high-level Taliban thugs released from Guantanamo Bay prison in exchange for alleged deserter Bowie Bergdahl was caught making telephone calls to the Taliban. The same week, the same Taliban claimed responsibility for murdering three American civilian contractors and wounding a fourth at a military base connected to Kabul’s international airport. It is the same Taliban who turned Afghanistan into an al-Qaida training ground, allowing them the opportunity to plan and execute the worst domestic attack in America’s history. Despite all of this, the Obama administration is determined to label them an “armed insurgency,” not a terrorist group.
That put White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest in a bind, because, while the State Department hasn’t deemed the Taliban a foreign terrorist organization, the Treasury Department has them listed as “specially designated global terrorists” per a 2002 executive order. Hence, Earnest attempted to find a middle ground that doesn’t exist. “They do carry out tactics that are akin to terrorism, they do pursue terror attacks in an effort to try to advance their agenda,” he conceded, but they’re not a terrorist organization because their murderous sprees “have principally been focused on Afghanistan.”
This is not the first time such fecklessness has occurred. Until Secretary of State John Kerry placed them on the State Department’s terror list, his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, adamantly refused to designate Nigeria’s Boko Haram a terrorist organization, even as she hypocritically tweeted, “We must stand up to terrorism” following the kidnapping of 200 Nigerian girls last April – by a group whose level of slaughter is now comparable to that of ISIL.
Why the latest unconscionable hair-splitting? Because our equally feckless commander in chief wishes to maintain the fiction that America does not negotiate with terrorists. Toward that end, one administration hack after another has toed the administration line. Last Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, referencing the proposed prisoner swap between Jordan, Japan and ISIL, led the charge. “We don’t get into negotiation with terrorists,” he told Fox News. “We don’t pay ransom because that cash then fuels further kidnappings, which just continue to exacerbate the problem. So we’re not going to do that.”
Referencing the same swap, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki noted that every country “has the ability and the right to make decisions,” but reiterated the U.S. position that “we don’t make concessions to terrorists.” During a White House briefing last Wednesday, Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz insisted the Taliban was an “armed insurgency” and that our prisoner swaps with them “are traditional end-of-conflict interaction that happens.”
One might be forgiven for noticing that “end-of-conflict” is an equally egregious denial of reality, one that will inevitably resemble the bloody results of Obama unilaterally “ending” the conflict in Iraq. Adding insult to injury, Obama’s “no troops on the ground” commitment vis-à-vis Iraq is another fiction belied by the 1,400 servicemen currently in the country, as well as the additional 1,500 approved to be sent there by the president in November.
The administration’s latest assault on the English language can be explained in two words: Bowe Bergdahl. Both Fox and NBC News reported the decision had already been made to try Bergdahl for desertion, though three different military spokesmen denied those reports. Retired Lt. Col Bill Cowan explained the machinations behind the case: “In White House terms, not charging Bergdahl means that he was indeed worth the trade for the Taliban Five. But charging him on any level means that releasing the five Taliban was an error of monstrous proportions, one the administration will never be able to explain away satisfactorily.”
Admirable assessment, but naive. Imagine the worst-case scenario for Obama – that Bergdahl is charged as the deserter his comrades in arms allege him to be. Now imagine the president saying while that is unfortunate, we still don’t leave our soldiers behind under any circumstances. Thus, swapping five high-level insurgents for him – as opposed to five hard-core terrorists – was the only reasonable thing to do.
Note the groundwork for this has already been laid, courtesy of the aforementioned jargon about “traditional end-of-conflict” exchanges with insurgencies.
Note further the same media that rushed to defend the president when Bergdahl was released would do so again in a heartbeat. Both The New York Times and The Huffington Post impugned the soldiers in Bergdahl’s unit who claimed he deserted his post because their media appearances were “arranged” by Republican “strategists.” The Times went on to describe Bergdahl as a “free-spirited young man who asked many questions but gave no indication of being a deserter.” Even more incredibly, when the Times revealed that Bergdahl had “wandered away” on two previous occasions, they sought to attribute his third disappearance to “an environment of lax security and discipline.”
Radical Islam is waging war against West. Obama, his minions and their media collaborators are waging war on vocabulary. On Saturday, ISIL released its latest video of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto being beheaded, reminding the world that such denial, and the semantical manipulation employed to serve it, are utterly bankrupt conceits.
For more, visit Right Analysis.
TOP 5 RIGHT OPINION COLUMNS
- Stephen Moore: Obama’s Drilling Ban in Alaska Isn’t About Saving Polar Bears
- Larry Kudlow: After Mitt: A GOP Message of Incentives, Sound Money and Growth
- Peggy Noonan: America’s Strategy Deficit
- Star Parker: Freedom Is Best Way to Help Low-Income Students
- Tony Perkins: The Kids Are Not All Right
For more, visit Right Opinion.
OPINION IN BRIEF
The Gipper: “We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.”
Economist Stephen Moore: “Obama’s latest anti-fossil-fuels directive is to move off-limits to exploration and drilling some 12 million acres in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. … Obama says his motivation is to keep this land environmentally undisturbed and to protect wildlife – as if he were a modern-day Theodore Roosevelt-style preservationist. ‘Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge is an incredible place – pristine, undisturbed,’ Obama says. ‘It supports caribou and polar bears, all manner of marine life, countless species of birds and fish, and for centuries it supported many Alaska Native communities. But it’s very fragile.’ Well, no, not really. Think of a football field, and then think of placing a postcard on that field. This is roughly the size of the development footprint required to drill in these wilderness lands, compared with the entire Alaskan landmass. Thanks to horizontal drilling, the footprint from oil and gas production is getting smaller all the time. Drilling will hardly alter the majesty of the mountains or the forest lands. … This latest White House move isn’t about saving polar bears. It’s about a radical climate-change agenda to stop all domestic oil and gas drilling and coal mining, wherever and whenever possible. The middle-class Americans who will lose jobs or pay more for gas at the pump are collateral damage.”
Economist Larry Kudlow: “Mitt Romney showed once again that he is truly a class act. In his announcement that he will not be running for president in 2016, he stated, ‘I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee.’ This was unusual political humility. But let me highlight this specific phrase: ‘one who has not yet taken their message across the country.’ Message. If there’s anything the GOP needs – besides a winner – it’s a confident, incentive-based, pro-growth message. The party didn’t have one last year, but it won the midterms thanks to President Obama’s ineptness. That won’t be enough in 2016. … We’re about a year away from the first Republican primaries. The GOP has a solid bench. But the wannabes must get cracking on the central growth message of incentives, freedom of choice and sound money to unleash a new wave of American prosperity.”
Comedian Argus Hamilton: “Fox News reported that one of the five Taliban fighters the U.S. exchanged for deserter Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is re-joining the Taliban in Afghanistan. We traded them five of their guys for one of our guys. The U.S. government can’t even swap prisoners without running up an eighty percent deficit.”
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
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