Archive for February 13th, 2011

Chalk up another victory – at least on the rhetorical level – for the Tea Party.

President Obama will release his fiscal year 2012 budget tomorrow and he’s apparently become a born-again fiscal conservative. Here are some excerpts from a Washington Post story.

President Obama will respond to a Republican push for a drastic reduction in government spending by proposing sharp cuts of his own in a fiscal 2012 budget blueprint that aims to trim record federal deficits by $1.1 trillion over the next decade. …two-thirds of the savings would come from spending cuts that are draconian by Democratic standards… When it lands Monday on Capitol Hill, Obama’s plan will launch a bidding war with Republicans over how deeply and swiftly to cut, as the two parties seek a path to fiscal stability for a nation awash in red ink.

I’m skeptical of battlefield conversions, particularly when politicians utilize the dishonest Washington definition of a budget cutincreasing spending by less than previously planned. So the first thing I’ll do when the budget is released is to visit the Historical Tables of the Budget website and see what spending is projected to be in 2011 and what Obama is asking for in 2012.

Those numbers probably won’t be accurate since the Obama Administration (like previous ones) will use best-case assumptions, but at least we’ll get a sense of whether:

a) spending actually is being cut (I’m not holding my breath for this miracle), or

b) spending is frozen at current levels (this approach would balance the budget by 2017, but it’s almost as unlikely at the first option), or

c) spending is being restrained (perhaps 2 percent growth, enough to keep pace with inflation), or

d) spending is growing far too fast (say 4 percent growth, pushing America quickly in the wrong direction), or

e) spending is continuing to explode (5 percent growth, 6 percent growth, or even more, meaning we’ll be Greece sooner than we think).

My guess, for what it’s worth, is that the Obama Administration will claim (d) but will actually be proposing (e) if more realistic assumptions are used.

Needless to say, I hope I’m wrong. But other parts of the Washington Post story give me little reason for hope. The White House apparently is ignoring entitlements. Heck, the Administration apparently isn’t even planning on meeting the President’s own deficit goal.

The blueprint ducks the harder task of tackling the biggest drivers of future deficits: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid… Obama’s blueprint does not even hit the short-term goal he set for his commission – reducing deficits to 3 percent of the economy by 2015.

The White House also plans to play a shell game with certain parts of the budget. Supposed spending cuts in health care won’t generate taxpayer savings. Instead, they’ll be used to finance more spending on Medicare, enabling the President to cancel savings that were promised as part of Obamacare. The interest groups win and the taxpayers lose.

The Obama blueprint also seeks to eliminate two budget gimmicks that Congress has long used to mask the true depth of the red ink: His proposal would offset higher Medicare payments to doctors by cutting $62 billion from other areas of federal health spending. And it would adjust the alternative minimum tax through 2014 to prevent it from hitting middle-class taxpayers, covering the cost by limiting the value of itemized deductions such as charitable contributions and mortgage interest for wealthy households.

The same shell game takes place on the tax side of the fiscal ledger. The White House plans to cancel one future tax increase and “pay” for that change by imposing another future tax increase. Once again, taxpayers get the short end of the stick.

Unless the Washington Post story is completely inaccurate, the Obama Administration is not changing course. There may not be any major initiatives to expand the burden of government, like the failed stimulus or the budget busting government-run healthcare scheme, but it certainly does not seem like there are any plans to reverse direction and shrink the burden of government.

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I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Young Americans for Freedom. During the 1960s and 1970s, it was the main organization for young conservatives and libertarians, and it was a great rallying point for those who were unhappy about the big-government policies of the Republican establishment.

On a personal level, I started a YAF chapter at the University of Georgia and even attended the 1979 national convention (my aging memory may have the wrong year, but I think that’s right). Along with Ronald Reagan, YAF was part of my political and philosophical development.

So I was disappointed to see that YAF just announced that it is booting Ron Paul off its National Advisory Board. Politico reports.

The Young Americans for Freedom has voted the Texas congressman off its national advisory board in the aftermath of his straw poll win at CPAC over his positions on national security issues. “It’s a sad day in American history when a one-time conservative/libertarian stalwart has fallen more out of touch with America’s needs for national security then our current socialist presidential regime,” said the group’s national director Jordan Marks. The dispute between Paul and the group seems to stem from Paul’s anti-war activities and the prominence of his supporters at conservative events like CPAC.

My disappointment has nothing to do with foreign policy issues, or the policy positions held by YAF or Congressman Paul. My knowledge on these issues is too limited to make any sweeping pronouncements. Instead, I am saddened by the blatantly inconsistent application of conservative purity tests.

I can’t find a current National Advisory Board for YAF anywhere on the Internet (can anyone help me with this?), but I did find sites indicating that both Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich are members of the Advisory Board. Assuming this information is true, has YAF jettisoned Dick Cheney for being part of an Administration that imposed the no-bureaucrat-left-behind bill that further centralized education and bloated the Department of Education? Or did they dump the former Vice President because the burden of federal spending doubled during the Bush-Cheney years?

Or did they get rid of Newt Gingrich for supporting the horrific Medicare prescription drug entitlement? How about Newt’s recent sellout on ethanol? Was that enough of a last straw?

I don’t mean to pick on Cheney or Gingrich. I actually think Cheney was a positive force in the Bush Administration (and I’m even willing to be photographed with the former Veep). And I spent many weekends in 1978 as a student volunteer helping Gingrich first get elected in 1978 and I applaud him for his revitalization of Congressional Republicans in the early 1990s and the role he played in restraining government spending in the mid-1990s.

After all, shouldn’t sauce for the goose also be the sauce for the gander?

I’ve never thought of myself as a “big tent” guy. Heck, regular readers of this blog know that I’m waging a one-man crusade to discredit and ostracize George W. Bush and Karl Rove.

I am ecumenical, however,l about expanding the universe of allies. That’s why I’m glad that the gay group, GOProud, is part of the movement for smaller government. And I’m equally pleased that social conservatives are part of the movement because of their strong support for limited government, individual responsibility, and constitutional principles. Similarly, I’m glad that there are allies for liberty who are neo-cons and allies for freedom who are isolationists.

It goes without saying that there is no unanimity on either policy or tactics in the broader coalition for limited government. And groups that focus on specific issues such as gay marriage or Iraq understandably will lock horns on a regular basis.

But groups like Young Americans for Freedom, which claim to represent the entire conservative movement, should have a big tent approach. Or, if they decide that purges are okay, they should be consistent and cut ties with anybody who deviates from the supposed party line.

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