Wednesday, March 3, 2010
By Kaitlyn Czajkowski
As Greece faces billions of dollars in debt payments coming due over the coming months, the nation is attempting to avert a loan default — which would rock world markets — by implementing a series of tax hikes, benefit cuts, and begging for a bailout from their European neighbors.
This plan of action pleases few, least of all the government employees who have taken to the streets in riot after learning that their pensions, salaries, and benefits would be cut. The news is not much better for Greece's neighbors, France and Germany in particular, now tasked with the job of bailing the nation out to avoid the fall-out of a total economic collapse.
But just like the Obama Administration was not going to let a systemic bank fail, Europe also won't allow Greece to fail, Josef Joffe, publisher of a weekly German newspaper, Die Ziet, told The New York Times. "Europe has become a huge welfare state for everybody, for states as well as individuals," he said.
But riots in the street and bailouts from her neighbors? How did things get this bad? Unrestrained spending, cheap lending, and the lack of any significant reforms left Greece in the place she is in today—with her national debt, figured at $413.6 billion, larger than the country's economy.
The deficit-to-GDP — how much more the country spends than takes in as compared to the nation's entire economic output — is at 12.7 percent. Greece's credit rating is also the lowest in the eurozone, discouraging any new investment in the economy.
Starting to sound familiar yet? The cause behind Greece's economic woes are not so different from what's also been going on right here at home. Don't think it could happen here?
This year alone, the deficit-to-GDP will total over 10 percent under Barack Obama's budget. And Democrats and Republicans alike are beginning to recognize the dangerous place we're in.
On Monday, even the Democratic House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer, warned "It is enough to look across the Atlantic at Greece's extreme economic crisis and understand: it can happen here. If we don't change course, it will happen here."
And while Greece may recover from her economic trials, the future may not be quite so rosy for the United States. The Greek economy is both small enough (compared to the rest of the European Union) and important enough (an economic failure in Greece would weaken the euro and the European Union) to be bailed out by her European neighbors.
If faced with a similar crisis, the United States would not have a similar rescuer. For now, the Treasury is able to sell the national debt all over the world. But, if markets eventually force the nation's off-balance sheet obligations on-budget — as they should be — the nation's creditworthiness would most certainly be impaired. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were nationalized in 2008, carry alone $6.3 trillion in debts that has not yet been added to the $12.4 trillion national debt.
When it is, the national debt will total $18.7 trillion, as ALG News has previously reported. And the impact will be catastrophic.
After the 2008 bailouts, Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) predicted a dire outcome here in the United States. "We're going to have riots," he told ALG News. According to DeMint, people will recognize the unfairness of the system when they too, like the auto companies and banks, begin to lose their jobs and feel the pinch of the economy. "The unfairness of it becomes more and more evident as we go along," DeMint said, and while "they're going to hurt… we don't have the money to bail everyone out."
Senator DeMint is right. The chaos already seen in Greece today will spread globally as the sovereign debt crisis claims more victims. Undoubtedly, there will be severe budget cuts, and public sector employees will be particularly hard hit. Just make sure you're out of the way when the riots begin.
Kaitlyn Czajkowski is a contributing editor to ALG News Bureau.
By Kevin Mooney
Successful business leaders who must navigate their way through challenging economic climates understand how important it is to maintain flexibility and dexterity in their decision making.
Apparently, no less than the U.S. Postmaster General John Potter has come around to this way of thinking in response to three separate studies that show his agency stands to lose $238 billion over the next decade with radical issue.
Recalcitrant labor unions figure prominently into the equation here as unreasonable demands intersect with economic realities. Three studies -- by Accenture, the Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey and Co. -- reviewed the Postal Service's books and presented 50 options for cuts and new services. The agency's business model is so irredeemably bad to the point where it cannot be salvaged.
In upcoming negotiations, Post Office officials will pursue greater latitude with their union counterparts especially where health-care costs are concerned, Potter said. He also insists that Congress revoke a 2006 law requiring the Postal Service to prepay its retiree health benefits, to the tune of $5 billion per year.
No other federal agency or Fortune 500 company makes such payments, Potter observed.
There is a larger issue at work concerning the relevance of organized labor to the needs of workers in the 21st Century and its impact on America's competitive posture.
The manufacturing economy of the 1940s and 1950s has been replaced with an information-based and knowledge-based economy. Robotics and computers have replaced the kinds of jobs where the same functions were performed day in and day out, James Sherk, a labor expert with the Heritage Foundation has noted.
"Who you are is what matters," Sherk says. "You are not just a cog in the machine. Individual talents, skills and initiatives are what count. In an economy where workers are much more mobile between jobs and there is no expectation of having one job for life unions make less sense because collective contracts are not as relevant."
The political influence labor bosses have over the Obama Administration and Congressional leaders also translates into business uncertainty. Pending legislation that would dramatically benefit Big Labor has worked against business and job creation as investors and owners question whether or not to expand.
Making matters worse, coercive measures like the anti-democratic card check bill and the binding arbitration would most likely drive small business owners out of business.
Policymakers should look for ways to reward and encourage entrepreneurs who risk their capital instead of legislating in favor of union bosses who blithely ignore economic realities.
Kevin Mooney is a contributing editor to ALG News Bureau and the Executive Editor of Timescheck.com.
Democrats Stab Bunning in the Back, Republicans Rally around Paying for $10 Billion Unemployment Extension
By Robert Romano
How hard is it to cut $10 billion out of the $3.6 trillion federal budget? That's what Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) wanted to know. It's a good question: Can the U.S. Senate cut anything at all to pay for new spending?
With the national debt now reaching the uncanny heights of $12.4 trillion, soaring towards 100 percent of the GDP within a few short years, it is a question that may come to haunt lawmakers. And sooner rather than later.
Controversy ensued last week when Bunning objected to unanimous consent on H.R. 4691, forcing a floor debate on the issue of whether or not to pay for an unfunded $10 billion extension in unemployment benefits. At first, Bunning proposed paying for it out of a portion of the unspent $787 billion "stimulus."
Monday, on the floor of the Senate, Bunning explained his stand, "If we can't find $10 billion to pay for it, we're not going to pay for anything. We will not pay for anything fully on the floor of the U.S. Senate." He's right. If the Senate cannot bring itself to cut $10 billion to pay for unemployment benefits, how will it ever balance a budget that is $1.56 trillion in deficit?
To offer some perspective, that $10 billion comprises less than one percent of the total budget — 0.27 percent to be exact. Congress' pathetic display in the face of Bunning's challenge to cut something — anything — to pay for the bill tells the American people everything they need to know about Washington's commitment to fiscal responsibility.
Instead, the American people will be forced to pay interest on this unemployment extension — and all other deficit-spending. By 2020, interest owed on the national debt will total $840 billion. That's 38.79 percent of present day revenue, just to pay interest on the debt.
Despite pressure from Democrats, the media, and even members of his own party, Bunning stood his ground, demanding a debate on how to fund the $10 billion without borrowing money from Japan, China, and Saudi Arabia.
Finally, last night, it appeared that Bunning had prevailed when he accepted a deal that would have allowed an up-or-down vote on the amendment that would have funded the deal. In the lead-up, Bunning made the case for the very pay-go rules that had just been enacted into law by the Democrat majorities of Congress.
Bunning relished the opportunity, and in a statement after the deal was reached, he said, "I hope Senate Democrats tonight vote for their own pay-fors and show Americans that they are committed to fiscal discipline. I will be watching them closely and checking off the hypocrites one by one."
Obviously concerned about the prospects of Bunning's up-or-down vote actually succeeding, and Bunning walking away victorious, Democrats sought to deny Bunning his opportunity to hold Congress to its word. At the eleventh hour, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) broke the deal, raising a point of order against the consideration of Bunning's amendment, which would have paid for the unemployment benefits and other programs by repealing a $24 billion "black liquor" tax credit subsidy.
Bunning at first looked like a deer caught in headlights, but quickly recovered, requesting that the Senate waive Boxer's objection by a Yay or Nay vote. The amendment was then defeated by a vote of 53 to 43, upholding the Boxer objection. Senate Republicans rallied to Bunning's defense (not one of them voted to uphold the objection), and were joined by Democrat Senators Russ Feingold, Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, and Joe Lieberman.
Even Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), who earlier had accused Bunning of "hurting the American people" for his stand, voted to waive the objection so that Bunning would get his up-or-down vote on his amendment.
The American people will undoubtedly treat this roll call as an up-or-down vote on the principle of the Bunning Amendment, which is that new government spending should be paid for, and not borrowed.
After being betrayed on the floor of the Senate, Bunning issued a statement, saying, "Democrats tonight showed their true colors by going back on their word on the agreement I had reached with Majority Leader Reid to have an up-or-down vote on my amendment to fully pay for the unemployment extension and other federal programs. Instead, Senate Democrats used a procedural gimmick so they would not have to vote on my pay-for amendment. What are they so afraid of?" Indeed. Probably that his amendment was about to pass.
Bunning continued, "I support the underlying [unemployment extension] legislation and support those who are out of work and need a helping hand. What I do not support is the hypocrisy displayed by Senate Democrats. Just over a month ago Democrats passed pay-go legislation and then turned around and waived it for the next two major pieces of legislation that were considered by the Senate. What was the point of passing pay-go legislation? If Democrats continue to ignore their own rules I will oppose future legislation that is not paid for."
For his courage in taking a principled stand in defense of American taxpayers, Bunning deserves praise. With the nation's ability to pay back its debts being diminished by the day by an out-of-control federal Leviathan, now is the time for the GOP to hunker down and oppose deficit-spending on every front.
Congressional Republicans have also learned a lesson that no deal made with the Democrat leadership can now be trusted. The knife in Bunning's back on the floor of the Senate is ample evidence of that. There can be no compromise where there is no basis for trust.
So, to answer the question: How hard is it to cut $10 billion out of the $3.6 trillion federal budget to pay for new spending? Next to impossible. Ultimately, the unemployment extension did pass 78 to 19. And sadly, it was not paid for.
Robert Romano is ALG News Senior Editor.
Today, Barack Obama delivered his latest incarnation of ObamaCare, wherein he green-lighted the use of the budget reconciliation process, as reported by the Daily Caller. In his prepared remarks, he stated, "I believe the United States Congress owes the American people a final vote on health care reform. We have debated this issue thoroughly, not just for a year, but for decades… I have therefore asked leaders in both of Houses of Congress to finish their work and schedule a vote in the next few weeks."
Top Capitol Hill sources have suggested to ALG News that the reconciliation program would work on the following scheduled:
1) The House would go first, moving the Senate-passed legislation by Friday, March 19th.
2) The House will then pass the reconciliation package of "fixes" by March 23rd.
3) Senate will take up both bills and pass them before Easter.
All against your wishes, I might add. These people still haven't learned their lesson. The American people simply do not support this legislation.
Let's keep fighting! Here are all the phone numbers for Blue Dog and other so-called "moderate" Democrat members of the House that should be targeted (excepting Parker Griffith from the list, who is now conferencing with House Republicans and has expressed opposition to the ObamaCare bill). Here's the Senate numbers.
And, we need to get back on CapWiz and let members of the House and Senate know what we think about their intransigence! The reconciliation process is intended for minor budget fixes, not to be used to eliminate the filibuster. Enacting ObamaCare in this manner will solidify one-party rule in the nation and wreck some of the careful constraints that were placed on the Senate.
If you think the government's too big now, just think of how bad it would be if all the Senate needed was 51 votes to nationalize entire sectors of the economy!
In today's edition of the Liberty Action Report, Senate Democrats stab Senator Jim Bunning in the back, Obama finds an alternative
Please send your letters to the editor at Robert@getliberty.org. We publish all points of view! Today, Beth Babson writes:
"While they're bashing each other over unemployment benefits and who will fund it there are millions of people out of work and wondering how to feed themselves and their families this week - not just next week or next month. Let's not forget it is the policies which got us here in the first place. I happen to be better off than a lot of people and my personal situation is dire, depressing if not scary and seems as if no light at the end of the tunnel to be seen yet.
"In May it will be two years I've not worked after losing a stock market job (while yep --- those bosses sure seem to have made out pretty well while us workers were put in the streets) and lived off credit after going through savings. I know we can't wait much longer as most people usually plan on 3-6 months savings if a job loss happens. Quit the fighting over how to fund unemployment benefits and stop the policies which destroyed American jobs so we don't have to depend on unemployment and can provide for ourselves. By making it worse we are forced to depend on benefits and I worry this is more than part of the problem of turning ourselves into a Socialist nation."
Thank you, Beth, for your courage out there and for speaking the piece of millions of Americans who, yes, are struggling—and want government to get the heck out of their way!
We'll push this back. We'll never relent. We'll never stop until representative government is restored in this nation. Never surrender.
ALG Senior News Editor
The Oklahoma City Thunder, up until Tuesday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings, had a perfect 2-0 record during their home stand at the Ford Center, defeating Minnesota and Toronto handily.
This game was the third and final game at home before they go on a Western road trip. While the Thunder and Kings both shot north of 50 percent, the duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook exploited the Kings’ frontcourt and backcourt as they combined for 69 points, enabling Oklahoma City to have a perfect home stand and defeating Sacramento 113-107.
The Thunder, with the stingiest defense in the league, allowed the Kings to shoot 54 percent, yet were more aggressive – both on the boards and going to the free-throw line.
Sacramento managed to rally from 10 points down to take a 29-28 lead on a Donte Greene 3-pointer in the opening minute of the second quarter. James Harden drained a 3-pointer at the end of the first period that didn’t count because he released the shot just after the horn sounded. Once the Kings lead got to 37-32, Durant and Westbrook re-entered the lineup for the Thunder and they (the team) scored the next five points to tie the game.
Durant had a pair of jams off Westbrook assists in a three-possession span as Oklahoma City built a seven-point lead, and Westbrook made it 65-58 on a running trey at the halftime horn.
Fast-forwarding to the fourth quarter, the Kings were within three when Carl Landry hit two free throws with 2:15 left to go in the game, abut Nenad Krstic lobbed the ball to Durant for the alley-oop flush at the opposite end of the court. Landry had a followup dunk which made it 111-107 with 34 seconds left, but the Kings decided not to foul and the shot clock rand all the way down before Durant missed a baseline jumper. Francisco Garcia missed a contested trey attempt in the final 5 seconds, and Durant grabbed a key rebound and sealed the win for Oklahoma City with a pair of free throws.
Durant led all Thunder scorers with 39 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal while Westbrook chipped in 30 with 5 rebounds, 13assists and a steal; Jeff Green added 15 with 5 rebounds, an assist, a steal and 2 blocks while Krstic poured in 14 with 9 rebounds, an assist and a steal.
Tyreke Evans led the Kings with 27 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals while Landry added 17 with 7 rebounds and 2 steals; Beno Udrih and Garcia chipped in 13 apiece – with Udrih grabbing 5 rebounds, dishing out 4 assists while Garcia made three treys, grabbed 3 boards and dished out 2 assists.
Oklahoma City (36-23) plays again on Wednesday when they travel to Denver to take on the Nuggets while Sacramento (20-40) makes the short flight to Houston to take on the Rockets – also on Wednesday night.
Former Mass. governor and 2008 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told David Letterman he has no plans to run for president in 2012.
Romney appeared on Tuesday's edition of "Late Show with David Letterman."
Asked if he would run for president in 2012, Romney replied, "No plans for that at this point -- I'll keep the door open."
The answer prompted Letterman to joke: "He's running, of course he's running ... I can tell by the cologne."
"Now what about that Sarah Palin -- she's not ready to be president, is she?" Letterman pressed.
"She's terrific," Romney said. "She really is, she's terrific. She's got energy, passion -- by the way, you know, be careful what you say about her, by the way ... . She has a rifle, you know."
Letterman also questioned Romney about an alleged altercation he got into with a passenger on a flight back from the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
"A guy beat you up on the plane. Do I have this right?" the host said.
"Not exactly right," Romney said. "Well, there's not a lot to add. The fellow in the seat in front of my wife put his seat back during the takeoff procedure and, as we've all heard 10,000 times, 'Please put your tray table and the seat back in the upright and locked position.' And so I tapped him on the shoulder and I reminded him of that direction, and he became somewhat agitated, and they removed him from the airplane and he didn't like that, by the way, and gave me a good swat and he broke my hair."
Posted by Lori Ziganto
The increasingly irrelevant National Organization for Women has finally issued a statement regarding New York’s Governor Paterson and his involvement in intimidation and witness tampering. Allegedly.
ALBANY, N.Y. — The National Organization for Women on Tuesday urged New York Gov. David Paterson to resign because of a report he directed two staffers to contact a woman about a domestic violence case involving one of his top aides.
The group is highly influential in Democratic politics and called for the governor’s resignation despite what it considers Paterson’s “excellent” record of strong support for women’s issues and in combatting domestic violence.
“It is inappropriate for the governor to have any contact or to direct anyone to contact an alleged victim of violence,” said Marcia Pappas, president of NOW New York State. “This latest news is very disappointing for those of us who believed the governor was a strong advocate for women’s equality and for ending violence against women.”
“It is now time for the governor to step down,” she said in the written statement.
Firstly, in the interest of transparency and all, I think N.O.W. should change it’s name to National Organization for “our kind of” Women. Or, lose the women term altogether, as it has become quite clear they are simply an arm of the left and that their goal is to push a political agenda. Secondly, bless their little hearts! They are disappointed. Poor dears. Perhaps if they were ever intellectually honest, they wouldn’t be so disappointed. The rest of us know that the left victimizes women constantly.
He has an “excellent” record regarding women’s issues, they say. I suppose because he treats all women equally by cheating on them all? Maybe he splits up the cocaine in fair portions? Perhaps he has saved poor little women by creating jobs in New York; Harry Reid says unemployment is big cause of domestic violence and all. Nope, he hasn’t done that either.
Still, if he was Ted “waitress sammich” Kennedy or Bill Clinton, who was prone to batiking subordinate’s dresses with bodily fluids, they’d continue to support him in order to continue to receive that sweet, sweet liberal policy. Instead, they are calling for him to step down. Therefore, I can only conclude that they are racist and sight-ist. Racism is always the reason when one doesn’t agree with a black man, isn’t it? At least, according to the Press and Democrat “leadership” (redundant?) it is. N.O.W.s “typical white person” side must be coming out here and they are “bitterly clinging” to their fear of diversity.
When the New York Times reported that President Obama had tried to get Governor Paterson to step down months ago, it was intimated that the pressure was being applied to make room for an Andrew Cuomo run. At the time, I thought to myself “Hmm. Andrew Cuomo is white, yes? As Professor Janeane Garafalo would say ‘See? Racism. Straight up.’” Today, I’ve been validated.
I promise to use my prescience for good and not evil. No, that’s a lie. I, of course, will use it to monger evil, as we Conservative thugs are wont to do.
She did it again….allegedly.
Notoriously flinty fashion model Naomi Campbell attacked her limo driver, slapping and punching him while he drove the 39-year-old around Manhattan.
But that’s not even the weird part.
The chauffeur stopped and called 911. That’s when Campbell hopped out of the car and made a run for it….in heels (so they don’t stand a chance of catching the catwalk queen).
According to reports Campbell has not been seen since. Her spokesman Jeff Raymond has said, “There shouldn’t be a rush to judgement. There is more to the story than meets the eye.”
The 27-year-old driver – whose name hasn’t been released yet – said that Campbell hit him from behind causing his head to strike the steering wheel of the black Cadillac Escalade he was driving. He told police that’s how his right eye got bruised.
Campbell was reportedly on her way from a Manhattan hotel to Astoria Studios in Queens.
In 2000, Campbell pleaded guilty in Toronto to a 1998 assault on a personal assistant.
In 2005, she reportedly slapped another assistant and then hit the hapless aide with a BlackBerry.
In 2006, the Brit Bombshell was arrested in New York for attacking her housekeeper with a cell phone.
In 2008, the Afro-Jamaican was arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport on suspicion of hitting a police officer after her luggage was lost.
Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill March 3, 2010 in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., has requested a leave of absence from his post as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., released a brief statement today saying she will honor his request.
"I commend Chairman Rangel for his decades of leadership on jobs, health care, and the most significant economic issues of the day," Pelosi said in the statement.
The 20-term Democrat from Harlem has been under increasing pressure to relinquish the gavel of the powerful tax-writing committee. Republicans have led the campaign against Rangel; however, in recent days his support among Democrats has softened sharply. Last week, the House ethics committee admonished Rangel for participating in trips to the Caribbean, paid for by donations from private companies. The committee found Rangel's conduct to be in violation of House gift rules. For his part, Rangel has maintained that he was unaware of the source of the funding for the trips. He has said he's paying the price for the actions of his staff.
The Caribbean trip flap is only the most recent in a series of ethics allegations against Rangel involving his personal finances. Last year, he was accused of failing to disclose income he received from a rental property in the Dominican Republic. The ethics panel has not disclosed its findings from this and other investigations into alleged violations by Rangel.
Rangel's announcement comes after weeks of defiant statements that he would not step down. His letter to Speaker Pelosi did not address the reason for his decision. In a press conference this morning, Rangel cited a desire not to distract from efforts by the Democratic caucus to advance health care and job-creation legislation.
Regarding who will replace Rangel as chairman of Ways and Means for the duration of his leave of absence, committee leadership typically reflects seniority among members from the majority party. Next in line for the Ways and Means gavel is Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif. The Northern California congressman has served 19 terms to Rangel's 20.
The government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released a statement of its own.
“Given that he has been admonished by the notoriously lax House Ethics Committee and remains the subject of an investigation into many other ethics violations, it is appropriate that Rep. Rangel has -- at least temporarily -- stepped down from his position as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee," wrote CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.
By Michael Swartz
At a time when the political winds should be at their back the Republican Party may be ill-poised to make the electoral gains conventional wisdom and history dictate they should at this fall's midterm elections.
Nowhere was this more evident than at last weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference, better known by the acronym CPAC. One case in point: Rep. Ron Paul, who showed outstanding fundraising ability but few votes in the 2008 Presidential campaign, won 31% of the vote in a straw poll of preference for the 2012 Presidential nomination. The 76 year old Texas Congressman beat out such luminaries and former candidates as Mitt Romney (who had won the previous three CPAC straw polls), Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Huckabee.
Huckabee was also critical of CPAC, an event he skipped for the first time in several years, noting that the gathering had taken a more libertarian turn and focused less on conservative social issues. He also pointed out that the numerous TEA Parties had taken some of the luster off CPAC – however, over 10,000 participants registered for the event, making its 37th edition the largest ever.
There's no question the TEA Party movement, which began with rallies about a year ago and became popularized by a nationally televised rant from CNBC correspondent Rick Santelli, has affected the GOP over the last year. While these newly-minted political advocates helped secure Chris Christie's and Bob McDonnell's victories in their respective New Jersey and Virginia races for governor and financially put Scott Brown in a position to be elected to the Senate, they also created a rift in the New York 23rd Congressional District race, allowing a Democrat to win there for the first time in over a century. Certainly this movement has caused GOP Chair Michael Steele no shortage of headaches during the first half of his two-year tenure.
Of course, Democrats have taken notice and are attempting to use this rift to their advantage. In Nevada, embattled Senator Harry Reid received some help as a group billing itself as the Tea Party placed a candidate on the November ballot. Organizers of the actual TEA Party movement in Nevada claim they know nothing about candidate Jon Ashjian or the ten people who are listed as the Tea Party's slate of officers. Yet the group obtained the required 250 signatures and filed the requisite paperwork under the Tea Party moniker. Reid needs the third-party assistance as recent polls show he trails two of the leading GOP contenders, Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian, by double-digits.
With a mindset of fiscal conservatism and dislike of President Obama's agenda, those who comprise the TEA Party movement seem like the Holy Grail of supporters for the Republican Party. But many in the GOP establishment dislike the libertarian streak present among TEA Party participants while social conservatives like Huckabee fret their pet issues will continue to get short shrift. And TEA Party protesters themselves dislike many Congressional Republicans who supported unpopular Bush-era policies and entitlements, dismissing them as "Democrat-lite."
Perhaps herding cats would be an easier task, but to win in November the Republicans will have to walk the tightrope of appeasing their existing base while integrating the TEA Partiers by appealing to their fiscal side. But TEA Partiers don't mind the Republicans being the "party of no" because they fear the effect of President Obama's statist policies, so standing firm in opposition and not heeding the siren song of "bipartisanship" with the unpopular Obama agenda may be the key to turning over Congress this fall.
Michael Swartz, an architect and writer who lives in rural Maryland, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer for Americans for Limited Government.
By Kaitlyn Czajkowski
Barack Obama announced his appointments to the Bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform this past Friday, February 26th, nominating none other than Andy Stern. Stern is one of the White House's most frequent visitors, and President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), an organization with close ties to ACORN and a substantial Democratic campaign contributor.
But for a bipartisan panel, supposedly created to "improve the fiscal situation," and "achieve fiscal sustainability," Stern must have some qualifications that make him an ideal addition to this panel. Right?
As J. Justin Wilson, Managing Director for the Center for Union Facts told LaborPains.com last week, "Stern and his unions know a thing or two about government debt, as they do their fair share to contribute to it. The SEIU has single-handedly driven more than a few states to the edge of fiscal insolvency. "
For instance, in 2009, SEIU members in California earned wage increases nearly double the national average, despite the fact that California's economy is in one of the worst in the nation.
Of course, those economic woes are not limited to the state of California, as municipalities across the fruited plain have suffered revenue shortfalls in the wake of the recession. As reported by ALG News previously, the Pew Center for research found that at the end of the fiscal year in 2008, there was a $1 trillion gap between the $2.35 trillion states and participating localities had set aside to pay for employees' retirement benefits, and the $3.35 trillion price tag necessary for keeping up payments on promised benefits.
As Pew notes, public sector unions have long blocked the switchover to defined contribution plans from defined benefit plans, which would automatically put a cap on the current unfunded liabilities facing states across the country. Public sector unions, we would note, that Andy Stern represents.
But then perhaps it wasn't Stern's commitment to debt reduction and a balanced budget that earned him a place on this debt-reduction commission. Instead, maybe it was Stern's commitment to patriotism and American pride. Take a look at the pride that caused Stern in January to declare all Senators opposed to Obama's health care plan "terrorists."
Or, perhaps it was Stern's commitment to stimulus spending which earned him the nod. "The aftermath of a severe financial crisis" calls for more deficit spending, Stern recently told New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman.
Clearly not a fiscal hawk by any stretch of the imagination, this is the man President Obama plans to put on a "bipartisan" commission, seeking ways to balance the budget by 2015, and making interest payments on the national debt, which will reach $840 billion by 2020.
While Stern claims to be absolutely concerned about the national debt over the long term, he believes spending our way into prosperity over the short-term is the only solution to the recession. Making matters worse, he is opposed to any cuts in the pay or benefits of the public sector unions he represents that are draining state and local government coffers.
This appointment sends a message, that instead of being placed on this commission to reduce the national debt and spending, Stern has instead been appointed to do just the opposite. As a member, Stern will work to ensure (thus calming the fears of all left-wingers) that the United States continues to raise taxes on its citizens to pay for entitlements, balances state budgets like California, New York, and Illinois, spends herself into a bottomless pit, and still fails to meet her commitments.
Overall, the appointment of Stern sends another message to the American people — a message that Obama is far from serious about this commission and his commitment to the reduction of our national debt.
The verdict? As J. Justin Wilson put it, putting Andy Stern on a debt reduction commission is the equivalent of putting a tax cheat in charge of the Internal Revenue Service. But then, this is Washington, and crazier things have happened before.
Kaitlyn Czajkowski is a contributing editor to ALG News Bureau.