Sacrificing the Military to Entitlements
Bruce Thornton, FrontPage Magazine
We shouldn't be surprised that Vladimir Putin is dismissing President Barack Obama's flabby threat of "costs" and damage to Russia's "standing in the international community" if Russia annexes part of Ukraine––as if the ruthless Putin, currently arming and backing the Syrian butcher Assad and the genocidal mullahs in Iran, gives a hoot about his international reputation. And after so many of Obama's toothless "deadlines," "red lines," "game-changers," "I don't bluffs," and "no options are off the table," who can possibly take this administration seriously? But let's not forget why the president has gotten away with this foreign policy of apology, retreat, and appeasement in a world bristling with brutal aggressors. Too many Americans are sick of military involvement abroad, with 52% in a Pew poll last December saying the United States "should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own." More important, many don't want to spend money on defense if it means cuts to entitlements. Consider that at the same time the Ukraine crisis was heating up, more cuts to our defense budget were announced.
Democrats Defeat Cruz's Effort to
Protect Americans from IRS Abuses
Andrew C. McCarthy, PJMedia.com
As an enthusiastic fan of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), I am sorry that an ongoing project prevented me from participating in PJM's Cruz symposium. But this relevant news just came over the transom, so I thought I'd at least pass it along. As I've previously noted, Obama administration officials have been working the codify in federal law the IRS harassment and obstruction of conservative organizations that President Obama and Attorney General Holder claimed to find "intolerable," "inexcusable," "outrageous," and "unacceptable" back when the scandal first came to light. As usual, it has been Senator Cruz leading the charge to try to stop them. In the Senate today, Cruz offered two amendments that would have safeguarded the First Amendment rights of Americans against being profiled and targeted for IRS harassment. Specifically, it would have made it unlawful for IRS employees to...
IRS to Politically Engaged Citizen Groups: Shut Up
Andrew M. Grossman, The Cato Institute
Surveying 19th-century America, Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at the proliferation and importance of civic associations, writing: "Everywhere that, at the head of a new undertaking, you see the government in France and a great lord in England, count on it that you will perceive an association in the United States." It took a few centuries, but America is starting to look more like France and England did in Tocqueville's time. Our would-be lords are seizing the prerogative to carry out the public good -- as they see it, of course. And they're enlisting the IRS to do the dirty work. Their targets are so-called "social welfare organizations" organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code. C4s, as they're known, are charged with promoting the common good, and for that, they are exempt from the taxes that apply to for-profit corporations. Just as in Tocqueville's day, different associations have different visions of the common good. The AARP, Sierra Club and American Motorcyclist Association rarely see eye to eye on any given issue. But each is free to pursue its own vision, whether that's pushing for greater Medicare benefits or running ads opposing a gas-tax hike.
Obama’s Plan for a Declining Military
James Jay Carafano, PhD, The Heritage Foundation
Randy Forbes is a lonely man. President Obama’s stewardship of American armed forces has been a dismal failure, yet few on Capitol Hill have waved red flags over it. Forbes, however, has been waving them furiously. The Republican congressman from Virginia recently penned a pointed letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. It’s a warning shot, discharged in anticipation of the Quadrennial Defense Review, the report the Pentagon must deliver to Congress every four years to layout the long-term plans, concerns and requirements for the armed forces. "The QDR has become an exercise in lowest-common-denominator thinking that fails to light a way forward for our long-term military planning,” Forbes wrote Hagel. The lawmaker fears that the forthcoming QDR will amount to little more than a rubber stamp for slashing military capabilities and lowering readiness. Forbes should prepare to be disappointed. By all accounts the QDR is in the can. The administration is simply debating whether to release it before—or after—it submits its FY2015 budget. Regardless of the sequence, both documents will likely hit the street early next month—just in time for March Madness.
New Obama Initiative Tramples
First Amendment Protections
Byron York, The Washington Examiner
The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..." But under the Obama administration, the FCC is planning to send government contractors into the nation's newsrooms to determine whether journalists are producing articles, television reports, Internet content and commentary that meets the public's "critical information needs." Those "needs" will be defined by the administration, and news outlets that do not comply with the government's standards could face an uncertain future. It's hard to imagine a project more at odds with the First Amendment. The initiative, known around the agency as "the CIN Study", is a bit of a mystery even to insiders. "This has never been put to an FCC vote, it was just announced," says Ajit Pai, one of the FCC's five commissioners. "I've never had any input into the process," adds Pai, who brought the story to the publics' attention in a Wall Street Journal column. Advocates promote the project with Obama-esque rhetoric.
Congress Unconscionably Silent
on Obama's Constitutional Crimes
Andrew Napolitano, Reason Magazine
The political philosopher Edmund Burke once remarked that all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good folks to do nothing. A glaring example of the impending triumph of a constitutional evil that could be stopped by folks who have been largely silent is the tyranny coming from the White House. And the folks who can stop this and are doing nothing about it are our elected representatives in Congress. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It established the three branches of government, and it delegated "all legislative powers" to Congress. American law rarely uses the word "all." Yet the Framers chose that word precisely to confine law writing to Congress and to prevent a president from altering federal law by the selective manner of his enforcement of it and thereby effectively rewriting it. The same Framers sought to guard against the same evils by compelling the president to swear at the commencement of his terms in office that he will "faithfully" enforce the laws. The use of the word "faithfully," like the use of the word "all," is intended to assure voters that they can count on a president who will do the job they hired him to do by enforcing federal laws, not evading them, and by enforcing them as Congress has written them, not as the president might wish them to be.
What Holder Is Not Saying
About Letting Felons Vote
Michael Mukasey, The Wall Street Journal
There is a worthwhile debate to be had over whether state laws that disenfranchise felons should be changed or even eliminated. There can be an interesting discussion of how the history of such laws affects that debate. But you would not have known that from Eric Holder's treatment of the subject in a Feb. 10 speech at the Georgetown Law Center in Washington. The US attorney general told us that statistics can be read to show that felon disenfranchisement laws actually promote recidivism. He said that such laws, which vary from state to state, are rooted in outdated notions going back to colonial days (when no one did any voting). He said that they were used during Reconstruction intentionally, and have been used since (whether intentionally or not is left hanging in the air) to deny the vote to blacks--who make up a larger percentage of those convicted of felonies than they do of the general population. The statistical argument derives from a recent study in Florida that showed a lower recidivism rate for felons whose right to vote had been restored than for those whose right hadn't. However, there is more going on here.
The Untouchable Profits of
Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac
Gretchen Morgenson, The New York Times
Would you buy stock in a company that barred you from sharing in its future earnings? Of course not. Participating in the upside is what stock ownership is all about. And yet, as of December 2010, holders of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac common stock were subject to such a restriction by the US government. They didn't know it at the time, though, because the policy was not disclosed. This month, an internal US Treasury memo that outlined this restriction came up at a forum in Washington. The memo was addressed to Timothy F. Geithner, then the Treasury secretary, from Jeffrey A. Goldstein, then the under secretary for domestic finance. In discussing Fannie and Freddie, the beleaguered government-sponsored enterprises rescued by taxpayers in September 2008, the memo referred to "the administration's commitment to ensure existing common equity holders will not have access to any positive earnings from the GSE's in the future." Securities laws require material information to be disclosed. This material information was kept from companies' shareholders.
Why Should We Trust Barack Obama
on the Issue of Immigration Reform?
Jim DeMint, The Heritage Foundation
Pres. Obama has been quite up-front about it: he refuses to enforce laws he dislikes and unilaterally changes others without the consent of Congress. The Supreme Court may soon have to decide the constitutionality of all this but, in the meantime, many are wondering why Congress would believe they can trust the president to work with them in good faith on any issue. Still more are scratching their heads over the notion that now, when Obamacare is hurting millions and the economy is still sputtering, Congress should put off dealing with those problems and, instead, work with Mr. Obama on immigration. No one seems to understand it. No wonder people are so fed up with Washington. According to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 63% say our nation is headed in the wrong direction. The most recent Pew Survey found that 80% of Americans now distrust the federal government. How bad is that? When Pew first asked that question during the Eisenhower administration, only 23% of Americans distrusted their government.
Obamacare As a Jobs Killer
James Hall, NewMediaJournal.us
Economic illiteracy is a hallmark of most political policies. The prime example of this principle is the idiocy out of the Obama administration that maintains that the Affordable Care Act is favorable to job seekers. The ranks of progressive euphoria reporting on the joys of Obamacare want to spin the latest Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) analysis as favorable. As these imbeciles push out their demented dreams for a neo-Great Society, the facts of trade and industry need to be buried in order to institute the total welfare state. In the face of ignoring that productive employment is a worthy and necessary goal for a healthy economy, avid Obama supporters cannot escape empirical reality. Even a flagship liberal publication like Atlantic is obliged to ask, Is Obamacare a Job-Killer After All? "The reduction in CBO's projections of hours worked represents a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024. Although CBO projects that total employment (and compensation) will increase over the coming decade that increase will be smaller than it would have been in the absence of the ACA."
Bring Back the Debt Ceiling
Romina Boccia, The Heritage Foundation
Congress is in the process of abdicating its power to control the borrowing of the US government, at a time when the national debt exceeds $17 trillion and continues growing unabated. It waived this power twice last year, "suspending" the debt limit and thereby granting the US Treasury temporary blank-check borrowing authority. The latest suspension expires this Friday at midnight. The approach of that deadline should have sparked serious Congressional deliberations of how to reduce the growing debt burden on taxpayers. Instead, lawmakers are considering simply suspending the debt limit for up to an entire year, further abdicating their power to control borrowing. The debt limit serves as an important congressional check on federal spending and borrowing. Without a debt limit, all control over borrowing decisions shifts to the Treasury secretary, who is appointed by the president. Effectively, this concentrates borrowing authority in the executive branch, and hands the president a blank check to borrow against the US taxpayer.