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.”

obama_1st-responders-sequester

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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The Upside to Gridlock

November 7, 2010

With the House of Representatives soon to be under Republican control, the government will be divided. The two parties, divergent as they are on ideological grounds, will likely not compromise on much. Such leads to a situation often derided as “gridlock.”

Those on the left, right and in the middle opposed to such gridlock say it is not good for our country. They argue that it means nothing will get done. But given the amount of things done over the years that have added to our massive debt, there may be something to be said for government not doing anything.

Republicans may argue that this gridlock is not acceptable. Their argument is that they must gain the Senate and the presidency in 2012. Then, they can go through with their agenda. It’s an agenda they claim, as they have done before with no significant results, will mean an end to wasteful government spending and a reduction in both the size of our government and its debt. But many of those same Republicans, when asked over the last week since the elections, have been hard pressed to spell out what they specifically would cut to make a significant dent in the debt. All too often they have resorted to the old “cut discretionary spending” mantra. The problem with that is, discretionary spending only makes up a small portion of overall federal spending.

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Words for the Weekend – 11-5-10

November 5, 2010

“Republicans campaign like Libertarians and govern like Democrats.”

                             — Harry Browne


Secret, ‘Special’ Interests

October 17, 2010

The latest tactic progressives are attempting is to scare voters into thinking that behind every conservative, Tea Party or Republican candidate or group are secret, foreign corporations and individuals propping them up with funding. The implication is that these ‘special’ interests represent a threat to our system of democracy. 

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=obama+mtv&iid=9952373″ src=”http://view.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9952373/obama-participates-mtv-bet/obama-participates-mtv-bet.jpg?size=500&imageId=9952373″ width=”234″ height=”136″ /]Part of the issue stems from a recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. FEC, in which the majority of the justices ruled that corporations have free speech rights in respect to their ability to fund political opinion. Many Democrats and progressives, including Obama, have at many times railed against the decision.

One group under attack is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Recently, there has been an effort to insinuate that the Chamber is backed by foreign special interests, despite little evidence to prove it. The Chamber’s head of government affairs has even asserted that the push to disclose donor information may be an attempt by the Obama administration to intimidate those who fund the organization. Other conservative-leaning groups, like Americans for Prosperity, have also come under fire from Obama and other Democrats desperately hoping to find a way to minimize the severity of their predicted election losses next month.

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Government Over-spending: Whose Fault?

September 7, 2010

Thomas Sowell’s latest column points out a fact that is often lost on people who, quite frankly, do not understand the structure of the U.S. government. That fact is that spending levels are almost always the fault of the Congress, not the president.

He notes this to debunk the popular myth that our spending woes are largely the fault of the previous administration:

The party line that we are likely to be hearing from now until the November elections is that Obama “inherited” the big federal budget deficits and that he has to “clean up the mess” left in the economy by the Republicans. This may convince those who want to be convinced, but it will not stand up under scrutiny. No President of the United States can create either a budget deficit or a budget surplus. All spending bills originate in the House of Representatives and all taxes are voted into law by Congress.

Sowell goes on to note that Democrats controlled Congress before Obama was sworn in as president and Obama was a member of that Congress in that time period. He also points out that Republicans controlled the House of Representatives during the period in which former President Clinton was given credit for a budget surplus.

All of this is not to say that Republicans are guiltless — far from it. These simple facts do, however, put things into perspective — particularly in light of the constant harping from the current administration seeking to blame everything on their predecessors. The success of their attempts at blame is reliant upon the ignorance of voters to how our government functions.