Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Hate to admit it...But.

While it is probably clear to most readers that I am not a big fan of the GOP generally, lately some of the actions of the Democrats in Congress have annoyed me much more.

For example, the debate over whether the New START treaty should be voted on before the next Congress comes into session next year has been all over the news in the last few weeks. Now as a rule, I have no problem with such treaties simply because nuclear arms reduction is always a good thing in my book, especially considering how large the stockpile of the United States and Russia still are now 20 years after the Cold War has ended. My problem with this treaty has been timing.

This treaty was signed by President Obama and Russian President Medvedev on April 8, 2010. Since that ceremonial signing, little has progressed with the treaty here in the United States and this uncertainty of whether it will passed has caused the Russians to become cautious of the treaty as well. So why has it taken so long for the treaty to come to a vote? Many actually predicted the treaty would be passed with little delay since it was backed from the start by Senator Lugar who is seen as one of the most influencial Republicans (and Senators in general) on matters such as these. But support from Republicans has been much less than forthcoming.

The main issues brought up by Republicans is that the treaty is more oriented in reduction and maintaince than modernization. The Obama administration denies this but the Republicans, led by Senator Kyl, have not been convinced and want more time to debate this treaty. In the same thought, others have made the point that debating the new START treaty is not as high of priority as other matters, mainly the continuation or the Bush Tax Cuts.

Another problem some see with the New START treaty has been made by conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer. He contends that while as a whole the treaty does not restrict U.S. efforts to build a real ballistic missile defense system, the pre-amble does suggest that such efforts may be restricted and contends that during the talks before the signing of this treaty there may have been some verbal deal between the American representatives and their Russian counterparts that if Russian agrees to the reductions the US will reduce its efforts to build a complete "missile shield" in return. The Obama administration denies this but Krauthammer and others contend that this should be investigated properly to make sure there were no miscommunication between the American and Russian representatives....And I agree.

While I do agree such a treaty is very important and Democrats points that there have been no inspectors in Russian to observe nuclear arsenal for over a year are quite valid, these are things that can be handled next year. Why? Because for the moment, I believe the American economy is a more important matter for the 'Lame duck' session to worry about. The New START treaty will still be there in two months and I believe thorough debate is a must on such treaties and once all is clear what the treaty will and will not do, then a vote on it can be had.

The issue of whether the Bush tax cuts should be extended or not, is in my mind more important for the 'lame duck' session to worry about right now. These tax cuts expire in a little over a month and still neither part has a concesus on what should be done. More or less, the GOP is unified in their belief that at the very least, all the tax cuts should be extended at least til next year and preferably the GOP would like to see them permanently extended. The Democrats on the other hand are all over the place with ideas of compromises but no one has a majority of support it seems. Some, like the President, believe that at the very least tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 should extended, possibly permanently while tax cuts for upper class Americans should return to their pre-Bush levels. Some have recently suggested the bar be raised to $1 million dollars instead to try and appeal to Republicans. The reasonings behind these ranging opinions from both parties is too lengthy to cover in this blog entry but there are at some solid reasoning for both sides arguments.

Ultimately, considering how little time there is left to figure this out, I think it is prudent for Democrats to quite bickering among themselves and find some compromise with the Republicans. Personally, I am not a big fan of continuing the tax cuts permanently simply because of how much they are projected to add to the deficit over the next decade (enough to make the Stimulus and TARP look like child's play). However considering the shape the economy is in right now, it is more prudent to not raise taxes on anyone at least until the economy escapes this recession. But I do believe I know why Democrats are seemingly stalling on this issue. They likely fear that if they agree to extend all the tax cuts for a few years that when the time comes to decide what to do with them again the Congress could be held completely by Republicans and they may choose to extend them permanently, and this is a valid fear but for right now they are just going to have to take that risk for the good of the economy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Deficit Reduction Plans..There are many!

Recently, the Co-Chairmen of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility & Reform published a proposed plan for reducing our deficit through a rather long list of pretty specific changes ranging from a gradual gas tax to reducing the Defense budget. Within just hours of being published, Democrats and Republicans alike showed their disdain for the proposal though Democrats have been FAR more critical of it (Soon to be EX speaker Pelosi called it "unacceptable").

Regardless of how valid or likely the proposal is, it turns out there are already several proposed such plans to reduce our deficit and bring spending under control which can make looking at just one a bit confusing and tricky. In order to clarify all such plans, the good people at PolitiFact.com have compiled a list of the many proposal. I encourage everyone to read these proposal so that they at least know what is on the table and who is behind them.

Many thanks to PolitiFact!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

On today, the day set aside to honor those who put their lives on the line for all Americans, I look to the man who proclaimed this holiday 91 years ago...President Woodrow Wilson:

‎"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with lots of pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and... justice in the councils of the nations."

Originally a national holiday honoring those who fought in World War I, it was expanded decades later by Congress to include all veterans not just those from WWI, a change sparked not by a politican but by a shoe maker from Kansas by the name of Alfred King. And as history would have it, this change was signed into law by President Dwight Eisenhower.

Finally, I leave you with these words..

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them"- John F. Kennedy

Happy Veterans Day

Friday, November 5, 2010

Leave it to Charles to Sum it up best..

The results of Tuesday's election results are still not entirely final but one thing is clear: Democrats got their 'asses' handed to them. To best sum up the results of the election results and real meaning behind them, I give the floor to Mr. Krauthammer...Take it away Charles!

"For all the turmoil, the spectacle, the churning - for all the old bulls slain and fuzzy-cheeked freshmen born - the great Republican wave of 2010 is simply a return to the norm. The tide had gone out; the tide came back. A center-right country restores the normal congressional map: a sea of interior red, bordered by blue coasts and dotted by blue islands of ethnic/urban density.

Or to put it numerically, the Republican wave of 2010 did little more than undo the two-stage Democratic wave of 2006-2008 in which the Democrats gained 54 House seats combined (precisely the size of the anti-Democratic wave of 1994). In 2010 the Democrats gave it all back, plus about an extra 10 seats or so for good - chastening - measure.
The conventional wisdom is that these sweeps represent something novel, exotic and very modern - the new media, faster news cycles, Internet frenzy and a public with a short attention span and even less patience with government. Or alternatively, that these violent swings reflect reduced party loyalty and more independent voters.
Nonsense. In 1946, for example, when party loyalty was much stronger and even television was largely unknown, the Republicans gained 56 seats and then lost 75 in the very next election. Waves come. Waves go. The republic endures.
Our two most recent swing cycles were triggered by unusually jarring historical events. The 2006 Republican "thumpin'" (to quote George W. Bush) was largely a reflection of the disillusionment and near-despair of a wearying war that appeared to be lost. And 2008 occurred just weeks after the worst financial collapse in eight decades.

Similarly, the massive Republican swing of 2010 was a reaction to another rather unprecedented development - a ruling party spectacularly misjudging its mandate and taking an unwilling country through a two-year experiment in hyper-liberalism.

A massive government restructuring of the health-care system. An $800 billion-plus stimulus that did not halt the rise in unemployment. And a cap-and-trade regime reviled outside the bicoastal liberal enclaves that luxuriate in environmental righteousness - so reviled that the Democratic senatorial candidate in West Virginia literally put a bullet through the bill in his own TV ad. He won. Handily.

Opposition to the policies was compounded by the breathtaking arrogance with which they were imposed. Ignored was the unmistakable message from the 2009-10 off-year elections culminating in Scott Brown's anti-Obamacare victory in bluer-than-blue Massachusetts. Moreover, Obamacare and the stimulus were passed on near-total party-line votes - legal, of course, but deeply offensive to the people's sense of democratic legitimacy. Never before had anything of this size and scope been passed on a purely partisan basis. (Social Security commanded 81 House Republicans; the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 136; Medicare, 70.)

Tuesday was the electorate's first opportunity to render a national verdict on this manner of governance. The rejection was stunning. As a result, President Obama's agenda is dead. And not just now. No future Democratic president will try to revive it - and if he does, no Congress will follow him, in view of the carnage visited upon Democrats on Tuesday.

This is not, however, a rejection of Democrats as a party. The center-left party as represented by Bill Clinton remains competitive in every cycle. (Which is why he was the most popular, sought-after Democrat in the current cycle.) The lesson of Tuesday is that the American game is played between the 40-yard lines. So long as Democrats don't repeat Obama's drive for the red zone, Democrats will cyclically prevail, just as Republicans do.

Nor should Republicans overinterpret their Tuesday mandate. They received none. They were merely rewarded for acting as the people's proxy in saying no to Obama's overreaching liberalism. As one wag put it, this wasn't an election so much as a restraining order.
The Republicans won by default. And their prize is nothing more than a two-year lease on the House. The building was available because the previous occupant had been evicted for arrogant misbehavior and, by rule, alas, the House cannot be left vacant.

The president, however, remains clueless. In his next-day news conference, he had the right demeanor - subdued, his closest approximation of humility - but was uncomprehending about what just happened. The "folks" are apparently just "frustrated" that "progress" is just too slow. Asked three times whether popular rejection of his policy agenda might have had something to do with the shellacking he took, he looked as if he'd been asked whether the sun had risen in the West. Why, no, he said. "