Sequester? I’ll Take Two, or Three, or …

February 20, 2013

If the automatic budget cuts set in motion back in 2011 – known as the “sequester” – go into effect soon, as will be the case without Congressional action, people will die. At least that is if the level of rhetoric to which President Obama has now lowered himself to bears any actual resemblance to reality. (Let us leave out for now that politics seldom ever really bears any resemblance to reality to begin with.)

Speaking in front of cameras Tuesday – and flanked by uniformed first responders otherwise known to political cynics as ‘prop people’ often used for emotional, rather than rationale, appeals – Obama warned of the following (abbreviated to prevent potential reader nausea):

“Emergency responders … their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded… FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go… Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.”

Who, according to Obama, will be to blame for these supposedly outrageous “meat-clever”-type cuts? The usual suspects: “Congress.” Or what he really means: Those evil, rich-loving Republicans who only cater to ‘special interests.’  Never mind the minor detail that the sequester was actually the Obama administration’s idea. In fact, Obama was at one point adamant against backtracking on it. In November of 2011, he warned, “I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts – domestic and defense spending.” He added, “There will be no easy off-ramps on this one.”


But don’t sweat the details, right? Political rhetoric is much more preferred in situations like this. And none is more preferred than the rhetoric that claims this sequester actually represents ‘cuts’ – and the “meat-cleaver” kind at that! Unfortunately, in ‘Washington-speak,’ most references to ‘cuts’ are really just slow-downs in the rate of projected growth. Assuming the sequester takes place, the federal budget will actually still grow by $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years. Translation: We’re still going to spend more, just not as much as we had originally planned. Similar to as if an employee were to get a slightly smaller raise instead of larger raise, only employers usually actually have that money to spare for the slightly smaller raise.

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Political Rhetoric: What to Watch for in the State of the Union

February 12, 2013

In case logic gets a little lost during tonight’s speeches (both the State of the Union and the Republican response), it might be useful to once again provide another little primer for those less familiar with political rhetoric. This may help sort through the nonsense.

First, if a politician says they favor “investing” in this or that government program, they really mean they want to spend more money (money the government really doesn’t have these days). When they do not favor the program, they’ll actually call it spending – but maybe add the adjective “wasteful” in front of it for the effect.

obama_rubio_1Second, notice the use of the word “access.” It’s one of the most used political catchphrases these days. When Party 2 says that Party 1 wants to deny Person X “access” to B, what that means in actuality is that Party 1 has no problem with Person X buying their own B, but it does not want to make a law forcing Persons Y and Z to pay for Person X’s  B.

Third, watch out when Party 2 says all of our problems are the results of Party 1’s policies, or vice-versa. That is seldom ever really the case. There is plenty of blame to go around to indict both parties.

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Real Charity

August 25, 2012

It’s a common narrative in many elections, and this year is no exception. Democrats care about the poor; Republicans do not. Progressives are concerned about those who have less; conservatives only care about the rich. It’s been stated so many times, many have come to believe it.

Then come periodic studies on actual charitable giving – you know, the kind where people actually give their own money instead of relying on the government. Turns out the oppositie may be true.

The latest is a recent report from The Chronicle of Philanthropy showing that those in many “red states” give more as a percentage of their income than in many “blue states.” For example, the eight highest states in their ranking (those that gave the most as a share of income) went for John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. The seven lowest ranking states went for President Obama. See this chart for the details.

This is nothing new. Back in 2004, I wrote a column noting a similar study with similar results. Back then, all of the top 25 states that gave the most in relation to their average incomes all went to George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election, and 19 of the bottom 25 went for John Kerry.

Despite the rhetoric from progressives about “giving back” and the need for spreading the wealth around, it appears they don’t practice it as often in their private lives. That includes some in the current administration.

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Obama: Supreme Court Shouldn’t Overturn Passed Legislation

April 3, 2012

At what point do you just stop taking anything any Washington politician says seriously? In a place where incoherent and meaningless rhetoric abounds, it becomes hard to avoid.

One of the latest examples being this recent blurb from President Obama on why the Supreme Court overturning the Affordable Care Act would be hard to imagine:

Ultimately I am confident that the Supreme  Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a  democratically elected Congress.

And I just remind conservative commentators  that for years what we have heard is that the biggest problem on the bench was  judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint; that an unelected group of  people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well,  this is a good example. And I’m pretty confident that this court will  recognize that and not take that step.

And with that he quite possibly places a lot doubt on his supposed expertise as a former constitutional law professor. What could he possibly even mean by these statements? It may be helpful to pick them apart.

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February 4, 2011

It’s always good to learn a foreign language. I hear it helps your employment prospects?

The Waivers List

January 29, 2011

As an objection lesson, below is a list of health plans that have been granted waivers from the requirement in the new healthcare ‘reform’ law ending yearly benefit limits. There are two main problems with this scenario. One is that it flies in the face of the promise that Americans would be able to keep their existent health insurance plans if they want to. The other is that it grants the authority to an appointed, unelected government official – the Health and Human Services Secretary – to simply exempt certain companies from a law.

While you think about those issues, gaze upon this list of over 700 plans that have been granted waivers (Warning: It’s long!):

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‘Invest’ or ‘Spend’?

January 25, 2011

A key word to look for in not only tonight’s State of the Union address but virtually every other political speech is the word ‘invest.’ Invest is a commonly used euphemism used by politicians to describe what programs they want to spend taxpayer money on. The key is that no matter how they use it, it always really means “spend.”

If they the support the program, they want to ‘invest’ government resources in it. If they oppose it, they call it “spending.”

Nothing really changes in the words (read: euphemisms) used in these speeches, just the mouths speaking them.

For more on government ‘investing’ in dubious programs it can’t afford to fund, click here.

We Cannot Afford More Toys

November 17, 2010

Watching the fallout from both sides on the release by the co-chairs of President Obama’s Deficit Commission of a draft proposal is a bit like watching young kids pouting in a toy store when their parents tell them that they cannot get all the toys they want because their parents lack all the money to pay for them. The left doesn’t want cuts in entitlements. The right doesn’t want to cut defense spending.

If we are ever going to solve our debt problem, or at least make a dent in it, we will have to grow up. The few grown-ups in this situation have to take the lead. But fiscal maturity is not an attribute many voters or politicians have often displayed.

It’s always easier to delay the sacrifice associated with fiscal responsibility. But, in the end, failing to grow up will have dire consequences.

Poll: Obama on Voter Fear and Irrationality

October 25, 2010

President Obama recently said the following:

Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now and facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time is because we’re hardwired not to always think clearly when we’re scared. And the country’s scared.

In light of these comments (more detailed report on them here), here is a poll:

Scared Votes

October 24, 2010

In case you missed his quote:

Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now and facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time is because we’re hardwired not to always think clearly when we’re scared. And the country’s scared.