Archive for May 25th, 2013

Last month, Amity Shlaes came to Cato to discuss her superb new book about Calvin Coolidge.

I heard her discuss the book back in January while participating in Hillsdale College’s conference on the 100th anniversary of the income tax, but the book is so rich with information that I was glad for the opportunity to listen to her provide additional insights on a great President.

I also got to provide some commentary on the book and the lessons that we can learn from the Coolidge era.

I managed to talk for more than 15 minutes, but I could have boiled my remarks down to these two points.

  1. Small government is the best way to achieve competent and effective government. Coolidge and his team were able to monitor government and run it efficiently because the federal budget consumed only about 5 percent of GDP. But when the federal budget is 23 percent of GDP, by contrast, it’s much more difficult to keep tabs on what’s happening – particularly when the federal government operates more than 1,000 programs. Even well-intentioned bureaucrats and politicians are unlikely to do a good job, as illustrated by this Eric Allie cartoon.
  2. Higher tax rates don’t automatically lead to more tax revenue. Coolidge and his Treasury Secretary practiced something called “scientific taxation,” but it’s easier just to call it common sense. Since Amity’s book covered the data from the 1920s, I shared with the audience some amazing data from the 1980s showing that lower tax rates on the “rich” led to big revenue increases.

But if you don’t believe me, listen to these powerful remarks from “Silent Cal.”

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I’ve been sharing one-liners from the late-night talk shows for a long time, mostly because I enjoy mocking politicians (and also because the folks at News-max are very good at compiling them).

So I think I have at least a vague sense of where they are coming from. Well, ever since Jay Leno announced that he’s retiring, it sure seems like his jokes have veered in an anti-Obama direction.

Enjoy his latest, as well as contributions from others.

Jay Leno

  • Time magazine found a picture of President Obama at his high school prom back in 1979. Let me tell you how long ago that was. Back then, Obama had to ask a girl for her phone number. He couldn’t illegally obtain it through the Justice Department.
  • It is not looking good for President Obama. Today, his teleprompter took the Fifth. In fact, the White House has changed its slogan from “Yes, we can” to “No, I can’t remember.”
  • The latest scandal in Washington, of course, is raising questions about the IRS. You know, I have a question. Why is it called the Internal Revenue Service? How is having your money confiscated a service?
  • A Democratic congressman said that he worries that the IRS scandal might have a chilling effect on the IRS and that they might be afraid to audit people. So finally some good is coming out of all of this.
  • White House officials continue to insist that President Obama knew nothing about the IRS scandal until we all heard about it in the news last week. They said because there was an investigation under way, it would have been inappropriate to tell him. And besides, Obama was too busy not knowing anything about Benghazi.
  • Anthony Weiner has formally announced he is running for mayor of New York City. He posted a video announcing it just after midnight — and traditionally, being online in the middle of the night has always worked so well for Mr. Weiner.
  • President Obama gave the commencement address at Morehouse College over the weekend. Great speech, very inspiring. He told the young graduates their future is bright — unless, of course, they want jobs.
  • The White House admitted President Obama’s chief of staff had advance warning that the IRS was targeting conservative groups. President Obama says the first time he heard about the IRS and AP scandals was from the media. See, that’s why President Obama holds press conferences. It’s not to explain what’s going on. It’s to find out what’s going on.
  • These White House scandals are not going away any time soon. I’ll tell you how bad it’s looking for President Obama: People in Kenya are now saying he’s 100 percent American.
  • This week will mark the 37th time House Republicans have tried to repeal Obamacare. If Republicans really wanted to do away with Obamacare they should just endorse it as a conservative non-profit and let the IRS take it down.
  • President Obama announced the appointment of a new acting commissioner of the IRS — the other guy was fired. See, they’re called “acting commissioner” because you have to act like the scandal doesn’t involve the White House.
  • A lot of critics are now comparing President Obama to President Nixon. The good news for Obama? At least he’s no longer being compared to President Carter.
  • This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Watergate hearings. For those of you too young to remember, back then the administration had an enemies list. They were spying on reporters, and they used the IRS to harass groups they didn’t like. Thank God those days are gone forever.
  • A lot of critics are comparing President Obama to President Richard Nixon, which is unfair. Nixon’s unemployment rate was only 5 percent.
  • Today the White House unveiled its latest high-tech weapon: the IRS audit.
  • I love what IRS commissioner Steve Miller said today about this whole targeting conservative groups thing. He said, “Mistakes were made, but they were in no way made with a political or partisan motivation.” Yeah, “Mistakes were made” — try saying THAT during your next IRS audit.

David Letterman

  • I feel bad for Barack Obama. He’s got the Benghazi scandal, the IRS scandal, and the FBI wiretapping phones. The president is in so much trouble politically, he’s thinking about killing bin Laden again.
  • Have you folks been paying attention to what’s going on in Washington? In a matter of six weeks we have three big scandals, and it looks like President Obama and all his buddies in the White House may go to prison. Finally, some good news for the Romney campaign.
  • People always say this to me: “Hey, Letterman,” they say. “Why don’t you make jokes about Obama?” All right, I’ll tell you why. I don’t make jokes about him. Because I don’t want the FBI tapping my phone, that’s why.


  • A new international poll finds that the least popular country in the world is Iran. After hearing this, North Korea said, “What do we have to do?”
  • During a Senate hearing yesterday, Senator John McCain said it was too hard to always have to update apps on his iPhone. No one has the heart to tell him the device he was holding was a garage door opener.
  • President Obama is in a lot of hot water lately. Despite the scandals, 53 percent of Americans say they approve of the job he’s doing. The other 47 percent are being audited.
  • A new report just came out. It says someone close to the president knew about the IRS scandal and kept his mouth shut. In other words, we can rule out Joe Biden.
  • In a new interview, Joe Biden says he spends four or five hours every day with President Obama. In response, Obama said hiring that Obama impersonator was the best decision he’s ever made.
  • Since President Obama took office, the Democratic Party has lost nine governorships, 56 members of Congress, and two Senate seats. In his defense, Obama said, “Well, I did promise change.”

Jimmy Fallon

  • Time magazine just released a picture of a 17-year-old President Obama with his prom date. They would’ve published a picture of Joe Biden with his prom date, but his mom didn’t want to be photographed.
  • A woman in New Jersey just found her missing dog after she grilled pork in her backyard and he came home because of the smell. Unfortunately, he was immediately shoved out of the way by Governor Chris Christie.
  • Vice President Joe Biden met with two undocumented immigrants this week to promote the new immigration bill. When they learned they had to sit down with Biden, they went ahead and deported themselves.
  • These scandals at the White House are just getting worse. It turns out that President Obama’s chief of staff knew about the scandal at the IRS three weeks before the president found out. Obama was like, “Anything else you guys aren’t telling me?” And Joe Biden was like, “Uh . . . I broke the copier.”
  • Eagles’ offensive lineman Evan Mathis posted a picture on Instagram that shows him relieving himself on an IRS building with a caption that says, “Audit this!” Or as the IRS said, “OK, see you tomorrow at noon.”
  • President Obama is not having a good week. With three scandals shaking the White House, they’re saying this is one of the worst weeks of Obama’s presidency. Obama was like, “How could things get worse?” And Joe Biden was like, “You rang?”
  • It was just revealed that the Department of Justice secretly recorded the phone calls of AP journalists for two months. Obama promised reporters that the incident will be immediately investigated — by the Department of Justice.

Craig Feruson

  • The IRS has a new boss after it came out they unfairly targeted tea party groups. The president says the new IRS chief is not only good with numbers, but he has more integrity than the last guy. The new guy is Bernie Madoff.

For previous version of these one-liners, click here, herehereherehereherehereherehere,hereherehereherehereherehere, and here.


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