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Posts Tagged ‘bipartisanship’

QOTD, Helsinki edition

Posted by Richard on July 17, 2018

Condemnation of Trump and the Helsinki summit has been near-universal. Media commentary has spanned the spectrum from “Trump should be removed from office by any means necessary” to “Trump should be summarily hanged for treason.” Democrats and Republicans (with the exception of Sen. Rand Paul) seem to be in bipartisan agreement that every word Trump uttered was reprehensible and deplorable, and that we must punish Russia with more sanctions at the very least, and possibly go further.

Which brings me to today’s quotes, a couple of reminders concerning bipartisanship:

We have two parties here, and only two. One is the evil party, and the other is the stupid party. Occasionally, the two parties get together to do something that’s both evil and stupid. That’s called bipartisanship.
— M. Stanton Evans

Universal, bipartisan agreement on anything is usually the first sign that something deeply unwise is about to happen, if only because there is nobody left to ask skeptical questions.
— Tucker Carlson

As for skeptical questions, a friend sent some of us a link to this Disobedient Media article about Mueller’s indictments of a dozen Russians for hacking the DNC et al. Confession: my eyes started to glaze over about a third of the way through this very dense and detailed dissection of the Russian hacking claims, and I only skimmed the rest. But if even a third of what I read is correct, Mueller’s claims regarding Guccifer 2.0 fall completely apart.

A more likely conclusion is that someone went to considerable trouble to make it look like Guccifer 2.0 was Russian government operatives. Pure speculation on my part, but I’m thinking that that someone might be CrowdStrike, hired by the DNC to look into its server breach(es) and the only organization that ever had access to the DNC servers (the FBI never did).

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Will wonders never cease? Good bipartisanship!

Posted by Richard on November 16, 2012

Unlike the media talking heads and beltway pundits, I’m not a fan of bipartisanship. Usually, when members of the Stupid Party and the Evil Party join forces, the result is something that’s both stupid and evil. But in Colorado today, we have an example of bipartisanship worth cheering:

DENVER — Congresswoman Diana DeGette Friday formally introduced legislation in Congress aimed at resolving the uncertainty around states legalizing marijuana, which remains illegal at the federal level.

DeGette, a Denver Democrat, joined with Aurora Congressman Mike Coffman and other Republicans to introduce the “Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act”, which would exempt states where lawmakers or voters have legalized marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act, which classifies the drug as a controlled substance.

Three cheers for DeGette, Coffman, and the colleagues who are joining them.

The passage of Amendment 64 is bringing the unlikeliest people together in support of the Tenth Amendment and is adding a whole new aspect to the concept of nullification.

BTW, I’m pretty certain that this is the first time I’ve ever said anything nice about DeGette, who’s my representative. I once observed that “she’s accomplished the difficult task of making me look back fondly at Pat Schroeder’s time in office.”

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The baseline budgeting scam

Posted by Richard on August 5, 2011

A new CNN/Gallup poll shows most Americans disapprove of the debt ceiling deal, and CNN claims it's because of the process. Nonsense. It's the substance. An earlier CNN poll found that 2/3 of Americans favored the much tougher Cut, Cap and Balance Act, including a majority of every single demographic surveyed, even liberals.

Most Americans recognize a failure to honestly address the spending and debt crisis when they see it. If they knew just how the baseline budgeting scam works, they'd be even more disgusted by this sham "debt control" deal, which will increase the federal debt by at least $7 trillion (that's $7,000 billion) in the next 10 years. And that's assuming some pretty rosy projections for economic growth. 

Baseline budgeting proponents began with a seemingly reasonable suggestion: "Instead of starting each budgeting process from scratch [zero-based budgeting], why don't we use the previous budget as our starting point and make adjustments from there?" Then they added, "Of course, we'll need to adjust the previous budget numbers to account for inflation, population growth, increased demand for services, and a big fat dollop of 'What the heck, we can get away with it!' to create the baseline for next year." And they've been getting away with it for years.

The result of this process is that the starting point for each new federal budget — the baseline, which by bipartisan ruling class consensus represents "no spending increase" — is about 7-8% higher than the previous year's spending. Fiscal year 2011 spending is going to be about $3,800 billion. So, under baseline budgeting, if FY 2012 spending increases only to $4,066 billion, that's no increase at all! "Look how fiscally responsible we are! We held spending to the current level!" 

Of course, a 7% annual increase means the budget will double in 10 years to about $7,600 billion. But the baseline budgeters call that a 10-year spending freeze!

So let's put this "historic" Congressional compromise into perspective. They've agreed to $900 billion in "cuts" over 10 years, and their bipartisan committee is supposed to come up with $1,500 billion more in "cuts" this fall. If they really do (and Obama, Reid, et al, are already clamoring for the $1,500 billion to be mostly "revenue enhancements," i.e., tax increases), then the 2022 budget will be "cut" from its $7,600 billion baseline to a mere $5,200 billion. 

That's a 37% increase over 2011. They call that a massive cut. The establishment, ruling class Republicans are congratulating themselves for this monumental achievement. They're telling the Tea Party that they've won, that they've "changed the terms of the debate" and "turned things around."

Um, no. They've slowed the rate at which we're approaching the apocalypse. They've bought themselves another year or two (and maybe helped Obama buy another term) before the US turns into Greece. They've once again kicked the can down the road. And a significant proportion of the American people — far more than ever before — recognize this deal as the irresponsible charade that it is.

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A rare case of good bipartisanship

Posted by Richard on July 20, 2010

As a general principle, I assume that when the Stupid Party and the Evil Party embrace bipartisanship and work together on a bill, the result will be both stupid and evil. That's a useful, but over-broad generalization, and S.3518 is the exception that proves the rule. Jacob Sullum explained:

The SPEECH Act has all the earmarks of bad legislation, starting with the strained acronym in its name (which stands for "Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage"). Its chief sponsors in the Senate include Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). Worst of all, it passed the Senate unanimously yesterday and is expected to win easy House approval within a few days. Has anything good ever emerged from such circumstances?

Well, now something has. The SPEECH Act, aimed at discouraging "libel tourism," would let Americans block enforcement of foreign defamation judgments on First Amendment grounds. The law was championed by Israeli-American criminologist Rachel Ehrenfeld, who faced a British lawsuit by Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz over her 2003 book Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed—and How to Stop It. …

The First Amendment Center has more about the Ehrenfeld case and New York's 2008 passage of the Libel Terrorism Protection Act, a.k.a. "Rachel's Law." It provided protection for journalists and authors at the state level similar to what will be afforded by the SPEECH Act. Within a year, Florida and Illinois had also adopted Rachel's Law, and it was introduced in several other states and the US Congress.

Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld is president of the American Center for Democracy and on the advisory board of Brigitte Gabriel's American Congress for Truth. ACT's activist sister organization, Act! for America, has been instrumental in this fight, and has lots of information about it.

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Republican socialist health care

Posted by Richard on September 4, 2009

Inevitably, when the Democrats propose some radical, leftist, big-government program that moves us closer to socialism, some Republicans will support a slightly different radical, leftist, big-government program that moves us closer to socialism at a slightly slower pace or along a different path. Case in point: Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Judd Gregg (R-NH) are co-sponsoring Sen. Ron Wyden's (D-OR) "Healthy Americans Act," S. 391 (PDF). Here are the first two paragraphs of the summary (emphasis added):

Requires each adult individual to have the opportunity to purchase a Healthy Americans Private Insurance Plan (HAPI), which is: (1) a plan offered by a state; or (2) an employer-sponsored health coverage plan. Makes individuals who are not enrolled in another specified health plan and who are not opposed to coverage for religious reasons responsible for enrolling themselves and their dependent children in a HAPI plan offered through their state of residence. Sets forth penalties for failure to enroll.

Establishes standardized coverage and state options for HAPI plans. Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to promulgate guidelines concerning the benefits, items, and services to be covered. Sets forth requirements for setting premiums. Requires the Secretary to establish the Healthy America Advisory Committee to provide annual recommendations concerning modifications to the benefits, items, and services required.

Note the double-talk: It seems to "require" us only to "have the opportunity," but there are "penalties for failure to enroll." And the "guidelines" that it requires the Secretary of HHS to "promulgate" are essentially mandatory. Other key features:

  • It raises federal health care spending by over six times as much as Obamacare.
  • It outlaws all plans that don't meet the detailed government requirements, thus severely limiting our choices.
  • It requires all employers and individuals to "make shared responsibility payments for HAPI plan premiums," with stiff fines for those who don't.
  • It directs the IRS to collect the money, with employees' "shared responsibility payments"  withheld from their paychecks.
  • It restricts the tax deductibility and controls content of pharmaceutical advertising, and it lets the FDA determine whether a new drug intended to treat a condition for which other drugs exist offers "new value." 
  • It puts virtually all aspects of health care under the control of the federal or state governments, establishing among others: 
    • "school-based health centers" 
    • Chronic Care Education Centers
    • state Health Help Agencies to administer HAPI plans and "promote prevention and wellness"
    • State Choices for Long-Term Care Program
    • Healthy Americans Public Health Trust Fund

I think it's pretty awful, but I'll give the senators this: They accomplish all this and more in only 168 pages, compared to the 1018 pages of H.R. 3200. That brevity and efficiency of language earns a bit of grudging respect.

The Club for Growth has specifically targeted Sen. Bennett (who is up for re-election in 2010), sending a letter about S.391 to 3200 likely delegates to the Utah GOP convention and running a TV ad state-wide. You can see the ad here and click through to the letter. You can also help fund the ad, as I did.

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The Limbaugh compromise stimulus plan

Posted by Richard on January 27, 2009

The other day, President Obama explained to Congressional Republicans what he means by a bipartisan stimulus plan: the Republicans should acknowledge that he won and go along with whatever he wants. So much for the new inclusive politics.

Rush Limbaugh has proposed a real bipartisan compromise (link may work only a short time for non-subscribers). He noted that Keynesians think you can best stimulate the economy with lots of federal spending on "infrastructure," while supply-siders think the best way to stimulate the economy is tax cuts, putting more money in the hands of the people and businesses that create jobs. Both sides have many supporters, and he argues that a real bipartisan stimulus plan would give both sides a fair shake:

Mine is a genuine compromise.  So let's look at how the vote came out, shall we?  Fifty-three percent of voters in this country — we'll say, for the sake of this proposal, 53% of Americans — voted for Obama.  Forty-six percent voted for Senator McCain, and 1% voted for wackos.  Let's give the remaining 1% to President Obama, so let's say that 54% voted for President Obama and 46% voted for Senator McCain.  As a way to bring the country together and at the same time determine the most effective way to deal with recessions, under the Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan of 2009, $540 billion of the one trillion will be spent on infrastructure as defined by President Obama and the Democrats.  The remaining $460 billion, or 46% that voted for Senator McCain, will be directed towards tax cuts, as determined by me.  

These tax cuts will consist primarily of capital gains tax cuts and corporate tax rate cuts.  So Obama gets $540 billion to spend his way.  The other people of this country who did not vote for his way get $460 billion spent the way they would like it spent.  This is bipartisanship! This is how bipartisanship really works.  Okay, Obama wins by a 54-46 majority, so he gets 54% of the trillion bucks.  Spend it his way.  We get 46% of the trillion bucks to spend our way, and then we compare. Then we see which stimulus actually works and works the fastest, and I will guarantee you that if this plan is adopted, just the announcement that $460 billion will go toward paying for tax cuts, capital gains, and corporate tax rates — we could throw in some personal income tax rate reduction in order to make sure that the voters don't think it's all about helping the big guys.  But we need jobs, do we not?  

Who hires people?  Businesses!  Businesses need tax cuts.  The US corporate tax rate is obscene.  It is the highest of all industrialized nations.  It's 35%.  Cut it.  Cut it in half.  Make the capital gains rate go away for three months, and then get out of the way to see what happens on Wall Street.  And once Wall Street starts ticking up 500 points a day, you watch what happens to the rest of the private sector.  It will follow right along.  This would ensure a bipartisan compromise bill, as Democrats have said that they're always about. It would satisfy the American people's wishes, as polls currently note; and it would also serve as a test, going forward, as to which approach best stimulates the growth of jobs — and it can be measured side by side.  It could be determined where the new jobs are coming from

If Congress has got to pass a massive stimulus bill, I'd rather see this than the steaming pile of pork (much of it to be spent 2, 3, 4 years down the road) they're currently putting together. Although I'd rather see a long-term capital gains cut than a short suspension.

Of course, the Limbaugh plan has zero chance of even being considered. The Republicans are too gutless and disorganized to embrace and promote it. The Democrats won't even listen to anything with Rush's name on it. And I suspect many of them know he's right about which will be shown to produce more jobs, and they can't afford to fail that test.

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