In April, while campaigning in Pennsylvania, Vice President Joe Biden promised the American people: "I'm here to tell you, some time in the next couple of months, we're going to be creating between 250,000 jobs a month and 500,000 jobs a month. ... We caught a lot of bad breaks on the way down. We're going to catch a few good breaks because of good planning on the way up." And for a while it looked like Biden was a genius. In May, the Labor Department reported that nonfarm payroll employment rose by 290,000 the previous month and in June they reported that the U.S. economy added another 431,000 jobs. President Barack Obama's "good planning" was working! But then the next report showed the U.S. economy lost 125,000 jobs in June and then the August report found another 131,000 jobs were lost in July. Today the Labor Department released the September jobs report, showing nonfarm payrolls decreased again by 54,000 and that the nation's unemployment rate rose to 9.6%.
By every objective measure, President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package has been a complete failure. When President Obama was selling his stimulus plan to the American people, he promised it would save or create 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010. At the time, employment stood at about 135.1 million, according to the Labor Department's most commonly used measure. That established an Obama jobs target for December 2010 at 138.6 million. According to the latest jobs report, total U.S. employment stood at 130.3 million in August, which means the cumulative Obama jobs deficit stands at 7.5 million.
Despite the mounting evidence of failure, the Obama administration is still completely unapologetic. Defending her tenure as chair of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer told journalists at the National Press Club Wednesday: "The current recession has been fundamentally different from other postwar recessions. ... Precisely because such severe financial shocks have been rare, there were no reliable estimates of the likely impact. To this day, economists don't fully understand why firms cut production as much as they did, and why they cut labor so much more than they normally would, given the decline in output." But after first admitting that the experts don't understand the current crisis, she then confidently asserts:
It is clear that the Recovery Act has played a large role in the turnaround in GDP and employment. In a report that Jared Bernstein and I issued during the transition, we estimated that by the end of 2010, a stimulus package like the Recovery Act would raise real GDP by about 3½ percent and employment by about 3½ million jobs, relative to what otherwise would have occurred.... The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, CEA’s own estimates, and estimates from a range of respected private sector analysts suggest that the Act has already raised employment by approximately two to three million jobs relative to what it otherwise would have been.
Got that? Romer first admits that her magic Keynesian formulas were completely useless in predicting how bad the recession would be, and then she turns right around and uses those exact same formulas to justify the success of the stimulus. If that bootstrapping weren't audacious enough, Romer then went on to claim that "the United States still faces a substantial shortfall of aggregate demand" and that "structural changes in the composition of our output or a mismatch between worker skills and jobs" having nothing to do with continued high unemployment. So instead of changing course, Romer wants us to double down with a second round of economic stimulus.
How much more stimulus does the Obama administration want to spend? Romer wouldn't say, and the White House is desperate to avoid calling any new action "stimulus," but The Atlantic's Megan McArdle has crunched the numbers and come up with a ballpark size of how big the original economic stimulus package would have to have been if we take the left's Keynesian economics as gospel: "Full employment is perhaps 4.5-5%. If we assume that stimulus benefits increase linearly, that means we would have needed a stimulus of, on the low end, $2.5 trillion. On the high end, it would have been in the $4-5 trillion range."
Even the Obama administration doesn't want to add another $5 trillion to our $13.5 trillion national debt. That is why the Obama administration is pushing a $921 billion tax hike set to take effect on January 1, 2011. There is only one word for proposing $981 billion in taxes to pay for trillions in failed stimulus spending in the midst of 9.6% unemployment: audacity.
Tonight President Barack Obama will deliver a prime-time Oval Office address on Iraq. Acting as President of the United States, the leader of a country, not a movement, tonight would be a perfect time for Obama to give due credit to those commanders who made the current progress in Iraq possible. He should thank General Ray Odierno, who implemented the counterinsurgency strategy that led to the dramatic decrease in violence in Iraq, General David Petraeus, who oversaw all coalition forces in Iraq during the surge, and President George W. Bush, who had the courage to explain the new strategy to the American people at a time when it was extremely unpopular to do so.
Unfortunately, if the Weekly Address President Obama delivered from his rented vacation home on Martha's Vineyard is any indication, none of that will happen. Instead of uniting the country behind our effort in Iraq, this is how President Obama chose to open his remarks: "As a candidate for this office, I pledged I would end this war. As President, that is what I am doing. We have brought home more than 90,000 troops since I took office." The President's love affair with first person singular pronouns aside, this is just plain false. Throughout the campaign, candidate Obama promised the progressive movement that he would "immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq," specifically calling for the removal of "one to two combat brigades each month."
On August 12, Iraq’s top military leader, General Babaker Zebari, warned that Iraqi security forces will not be able to fully secure their own country until 2020. "If I were asked about the withdrawal," he said, "I would say to politicians: The U.S. Army must stay until the Iraq Army is fully ready in 2020." The President should acknowledge this need for continued military assistance, signal that the U.S. remains firmly engaged as a dependable ally, and dispel the growing perception that Washington is intent on a quick exit regardless of the dangerous consequences of such a gamble.
Instead of sending these calming signals, President Obama seems intent on giving sustenance to our enemies by sticking to arbitrary and unrealistic political deadlines. For Iraq, Obama again made clear on Saturday that he plans to remove all troops by the end of 2011. And in Afghanistan, President Obama still maintains that he will begin drawing down forces by July 2011. One would hope that the Obama administration would have learned from its abject failure to close Guantanamo Bay that arbitrary political deadlines are a fool's errand.
As a candidate, Barack Obama could afford to indulge in irresponsible rhetoric about "ending" the war in Iraq without regard for the disastrous consequences of losing that war. But as President, Obama should act decisively as the nation’s commander-in-chief and protect vital American interests by successfully finishing the jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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FEATURED VIDEO “If we think so little of the American people that the federal government has to take over healthcare and health insurance, I really don’t understand how we can expect America to succeed in the future if our people are that incapable of solving these basic problems. Sometimes we have to see what we don’t want to truly understand what we do want, and how to strive for it.” -- Larry Patterson
Larry Patterson, a Heritage Foundation member and a concerned American, recently spoke with Heritage's Rob Bluey about his apprehensions--shared byother small business owners--about the future of our country, especially the government’s growth into the healthcare field.
With an exploding budget crisis, President Obama is proposing spending cuts, but not where you’d think. Has he decided to stop campaigning on behalf of Democratic Congressional members up for reelection at the taxpayers’ expense to the tune of two million dollars? No. Has he decided not to spend $100,000 per teaching job to bail out teachers’ unions? No. Instead, he has decided to cut defense funding and reclassify what constitutes defense spending. The National Security Strategy now declaring a focus on climate change, green energy, and women’s rights.
Iran and North Korea are rapidly developing nuclear weapons capability while the Obama administration relies on more of the same sanctions that not only haven’t worked, but that the administration itself continues to undermine. We are still fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and facing the continued threat of terror attacks, all while President Obama nickel and diming American’s safety. In 2007 America spent near historic lows as a percent of GDP on defense. With this further reduction in defense spending, America is even more vulnerable to attack from rogue states, terrorist groups, and conventional military powers such as China and Russia.
“Defense is not the culprit of our budget woes, and it shouldn’t bear the brunt of the Obama Administration’s efforts to look fiscally responsible. This year, defense accounts for 19 percent of all federal spending, compared with 57 percent for our entitlement programs.”
At such a crucial turning point in America’s history, the first year and a half of President Obama’s administration has been devoted to passing “stimulus” packages that have not spurred the promised economic growth, a government takeover of the healthcare industry opposed by a majority of voters, and climate change legislation whose costs would far outweigh any benefits all while the deficit continues to expand. When discussing two wars America is fighting in the Middle East our President consistently fails to mention the word “victory.” Our nation’s military deserve to have the resources and support necessary to protect the American people, not to have their own budget slashed to pay for pet projects coveted by the President’s base and other liberal interest groups.
In the newly published Solutions for America The Heritage Foundation gives recommendations for a defense strategy that will actually defend the American people.
Other Heritage Work of Note
On Human Events Heritage’s Rob Bluey outlines the new Heritage release Solutions for America, proving that conservatives have innovative solutions for getting our country back on the right track.
Multinationals are faced with the following dilemma: Protect their bottom line and the jobs of their employees (many of whom are poor citizens of the developing world), or acquiesce to the demands of far-left organizations like GreenPeace? On FoxNews.com Heritage Research Fellow James Roberts discusses this issue, asking “How is it socially responsible to deny a livelihood to them and their families?”
With America pulling out the last of its combat troops from Iraq, Heritage’s James Carafano outlines America’s victory beyond what most thought was possible three years ago, and offers advice for the future of US operations there.
The Department of Commerce has been boasting the funding of a $30 million coastal restoration project in the wake of the BP oil spill. There is one problem, as Heritage’s Rob Bluey points out: the project was approved almost four years ago and the funding approved months before the spill.
In a piece on Forbes.com The Heritage Foundation’s Derek Scissors tracks down Chinese investments in order to get a more accurate picture of the economic climate there beyond the communist government’s “official” data.
In Other News
Thanks to the surge strategy recommendations of John McCain (R-AZ) and its implementation by former President George Bush, Iraq is looking like a success story for one of the first times since the 2003 invasion. The last US combat troops have pulled out of the country two weeks ahead of their scheduled departure, and the US is on schedule to withdraw the remaining 50,000 troops by the December 31, 2011.
Despite the administration’s claims of a recovering economy, jobless claims spiked this past month with 12,000 more Americans out of work and filing for unemployment benefits.
On the first anniversary of the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has again condemned the Scottish decision to free the convicted mass-murderer.
Once one of America’s strongest economies, California will likely be forced to pay its state employees, who are the highest paid in the nation, using IOUs. California is one of the nation’s most heavily taxed states, and also has one of the highest rates of unemployment, currently at 12 percent.
There is little wonder as to why. Since 2000, federal spending has grown across the board. Discretionary spending has expanded 79 percent faster than inflation. The federal government now spends $30,543 per household compared to $21,875 per household in 2000. Under President Obama’s budget, Washington is projected to spend $3,618 billion, raise $2,118 billion, and run a $1.5 trillion deficit in 2010. By 2020 President Obama’s budget would double the publicly held national debt.
On every issue, the left has only two answers: more federal spending and more federal control. Conservatives have not, and should not, shy away from opposing these policies. But conservatives also must offer an alternative vision of America's future; one that is consistent with our nation's founding principles and empowers the people to compete in the 21st century. Today, The Heritage Foundation is releasing just such an alternative: "Solutions for America"
Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner describes Solutions as "a comprehensive guide for getting our nation back on the right track. Some of the policy recommendations are groundbreaking. Others are familiar. Some are being debated right now. They all have two things in common: They return power to the people, and they are all transformational ideas." For example, Solutions recommends:
Cap Federal Spending: Washington has no enforceable limits on its spending and discretionary spending has nearly doubled since Congress let its spending caps expire in 2002. Congress should enact a firm cap on the annual increase in total government spending, limited to inflation plus population growth. Lawmakers should exert all effort to keep overall federal spending to less than 20% of U.S. GDP, the historical post–World War II average for federal spending.
End the Era of Entitlements: Spending on the Big Three entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) is on autopilot - increasing automatically every year without any budgetary scrutiny. Congress must bring entitlement spending into the congressional budgetary process. We should raise the Social Security retirement age, and encourage people to work longer by eliminating payroll taxes for those over the retirement age. We should let needy families choose how to spend their Medicaid dollars and establish a new Medicare "defined contribution" system as we transition away from today’s costly and inefficient fee-for-service system.
Restore Our Free Economy: Our corporate income tax rate, currently the second highest in the developed world, must be cut to restore U.S. competitiveness. The corporate tax rate should be set at or below the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development average of 26% to eliminate the incentive for businesses and jobs to move overseas. We should also stop taxing businesses as individuals, but rather reduce rates to 25%, which would help business to grow and create jobs.
Revive Federalism: Over the course of the 20th century, the administration of government has been increasingly centralized under the federal government. In 1900 almost 60% of government spending took place at the state and local levels. Today, the federal government spends more than twice as much as all other levels of government combined. Washington must cede vast swatches of its policymaking authority—and the funding that goes with it—to states willing to reassume leadership in traditional state roles such as transportation, education, health, homeland security, and law enforcement.
Invest in Peace through Strength: A robust military is the surest way to deter aggression and reinforce U.S. diplomacy. To accomplish this, the Pentagon procurement holiday must end. Congress must refurbish our armed forces, especially our depleted Navy fleet and vital missile defenses.
These are just some of the ideas contained in the more than 20 chapters and over 120 specific policy recommendations contained in Solutions for America. Contrary to what the President says, these ideas are not based on fear, but on faith in the American people and the vision of our nation's founders. The policies articulated in Solutions are calculated to make that vision a reality, to build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish.
In its annual report to Congress on Chinese military capabilities, the Pentagon said China is investing heavily in ballistic and cruise missile capabilities that could one day pose a challenge to U.S. dominance in the western Pacific.
North Korea has taken its propaganda war against South Korea and the United States to a new frontier: YouTube and Twitter.
In The Washington Post, Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow in Public Policy and Chairman of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies Ed Meese details how Judge Vaughn Walker's same-sex marriage ruling ignores precedent, evidence and common sense.
According to U.S. Chamber of Commerce economist Martin Regalia, the impending Obama tax hike "is going to be a bullet in the head for an awful lot of people that are going to be laid off and an awful lot of people who are hoping to get their jobs back."
Over the last four weeks, The Heritage Foundation sent multiple teams of respected energy, environment, homeland security and response experts to the Gulf to study the federal response to the oil spill. These three delegations, with more to come, have traversed the areas hit hardest by the crisis, talking to response workers, affected oil crews, fishermen, elected leaders and BP representatives. What we found is simple: President Obama’s administration has turned a crisis into a disaster, and someone needs to be held accountable.
Accountability is in short supply in Washington these days. Fingers are pointed in every direction for our nation’s economic woes. President Obama’s favorite target of choice is the past administration for nearly every problem he faces. Yet, the oil spill has only two central characters: BP and the Obama administration. BP is (very) slowly taking accountability for its creation of this crisis. Tony Hayward was finally dismissed as CEO, and they have promised full financial restitution for direct and indirect victims. On Day 100 of the spill, it’s time the Obama administration followed suit.
And what exactly does the administration have to be held accountable for? An environmental disaster made worse by federal incompetence. An unnecessary drilling moratorium that has pulled the plug on a Gulf economy already on life support. A claims process that was negotiated in secret, leaving few answers to why claims aren’t being processed and transparency is lost. A slow response that wasted clean weather days as hurricane season fast approaches, and a decision-making structure led by politics rather than duty.
Environmentally, the President and his eco-left echo chamber consciously chose to ignore the damage caused by the oil in favor of focusing on future tax increases that would expand government largesse. The President’s initial push for cap-and-trade taxes as a response to an oil spill was so disconnected and oblivious that it was quickly brushed off by the Democrat-controlled Senate. Even so, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said yesterday cap-and-trade taxes were still possible this year if any energy legislation passes the Senate and the bill goes to conference.
Details of the Reid-Boxer bill the Senate will market as a response to the oil spill released last night confirm that increased taxes are the Majority Leader's first priority regardless, with a "drastic increase" in the price of oil per barrel that will be paid at your local gas pump, breaking the President's promise that taxpayers would not foot the bill for the oil spill. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) also said the bill would create a permanent "jobs moratorium" in the Gulf.
And while focus in Washington has remained on legislative matters, the President’s administration failed to issue emergency permits to protect Louisiana’s fragile coastline. Paid-for barriers were delivered, only to sit on the sidelines, as federal bureaucrats spent months debating three-year old emergency operations plans, only to decide not to implement protective measures.
Efforts were stopped to divert oil into more easily skimmed areas. The problem of skimming the oil was made even more increasingly difficult by the questionable dispersants, authorized by the EPA, which either drove the oil under water or diluted it into impossible-to-clean droplets. And even if the oil could’ve been easily skimmed, the skimmers simply weren’t deployed, whether by ignorance of the Jones Act or an unbelievable rigidity to emergency placement. Skimmers sat in ports across America waiting for another disaster while this one went ignored.
The drilling moratorium takes what is a terrible situation for Gulf residents and turns it into a long-term economic catastrophe. President Obama is not listening to any oil and gas experts as he implements a moratorium that could affect our energy production for a decade. Two federal courts have blocked the moratorium, yet the President ignores the rule of law and proceeds with a de facto moratorium regardless. Ports are cutting rental rates, jobs are being lost, rigs are leaving the Gulf in droves and confidence in American energy contracts is being shattered. Meanwhile, this doesn't affect rising demand, meaning an increasing dependence on foreign oil.
Jim Funk of the Louisiana Restaurant Association told New Orleans Fox 8: "You're looking at figures as high as 30,000 high paying jobs are gonna be lost as a result of this moratorium." And that's just the restaurant and catering business. Layoffs in the offshore transport business have already begun. John Henry, who runs a cement company that services offshore rigs, told Forbes they're already slowing down operations. And CNN reports, companies as far away as Ohio, Tennessee and elsewhere may also lose work as a result of Obama's jobs moratorium. These reports are all in addition to the jobs already lost on the fleeing rigs.
The complicit media chose the President’s negotiation of a secret liability deal with BP as proof he was in charge. But while his strong-arming produced a supposed $20 billion payout, it was settled behind closed doors. Americans never saw any contract that was agreed to between our government and BP, yet that didn't stop the media from celebrating it.
Now we learn that BP is claiming a $9.9 billion tax credit from the expenditure, meaning American taxpayers are now on the hook for half of the supposed settled amount, and the White House is once again proven inept. Congressman James Oberstar (D-MN) called the development "reprehensible." David Desser, managing director of Juris Capital said: "You would have thought in advance of that meeting, [the White House] would've thought of all those issues..." Yes, you would think. Additionally, the claims process itself is operating in the dark, with state and local officials unable to track individual claims.
As Tropical Storm Bonnie approached last week, emergency and elected officials in Louisiana mobilized. The federal government did not. The clean-up operations halted, yes, and plans were in place for re-deployment. But Americans along the Gulf coast did not hear from the Secretary of Homeland Security what the government’s response would be to a potential storm that would be made only worse by their own delays in the clean-up. Leadership was obvious at the state and local level. It was absent in Washington.
President Obama has made it clear he couldn't care less about the oil spill or Gulf residents. He has barely mentioned the crisis since he gave a forced Oval Office address over a month ago. Amid complaints surrounding his three vacations this month, most recently to Maine, he reluctantly is taking his family to Florida in two weeks for a photo-op.
Florida is hospitable to this visit, since Governor Charlie Crist--formerly a Republican, now an Independent due to the pressure of primary politics--has been proven a better ally than Louisiana’s Governor Bobby Jindal. Louisiana residents deserve better than to have politics come between them and a responsive White House. Their share of this disaster is overwhelming, and to be so ignored is unacceptable. Yet, even leading Florida Democrats, like gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink, charge the administration with being “out of touch with reality” when the White House does visit.
Two weeks after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, FEMA Director Michael Brown resigned due to public pressure over the federal response to the crisis. It has now been 100 days since the deadly Deepwater Horizon accident. The clean-up efforts have failed. The moratorium is simply kicking a dying man while he is down. Who is accountable in President Obama’s administration? Apparently, nobody.
The CBO released a report yesterday on the risk of Greece-like debt crisis here in the U.S. concluding: "Unless policymakers restrain the growth of spending, increase revenues significantly as a share of GDP, or adopt some combination of those two approaches, growing budget deficits will cause debt to rise to unsupportable levels."
The left has a long history of using the courts to advance their agenda. In just the past decade, liberals on the Supreme Court argued that:
There is no individual right to bear arms;
The government can limit free speech by individuals and groups in political debates, while "virtual child pornography" remains protected;
Private property can be seized by the government for use by private developers; and
“Evolving standards of decency” change the meaning of the Constitution and allow judges to limit law enforcement.
These radical leftist arguments need to be exposed as inconsistent with an original understanding of the Constitution. Our highest law is not an empty vessel to serve the cause of ever-larger government. Yet many on the left believe there is a fundamental “right to health care” -- and the Supreme Court could hear a challenge to Obamacare.
Fortunately, there’s an alternative to the liberal march. The Heritage Foundation -- America's leading conservative public policy organization -- is vigorously combating the left’s judicial agenda. We’re working to educate lawmakers and candidates on the meaning of the Constitution and the role of judges so we can help shape the debate. We’re refuting the left in the media and in communities nationwide. And we’re getting the text of the Constitution into the hands of millions of Americans.
As we develop our plans to fight judicial activism and defend the timeless principles of the Constitution, we need the input of aware citizens on these and other important issues. We need to know what matters to grassroots conservatives like you. We want to know what you think of Elena Kagan’s nomination and what you believe should be a judge’s highest priorities.
Though conservatives have reason for optimism in 2010, we have a hard fight ahead of us. The left is still powerful. They still hold the White House and a majority in Congress and they will continue to advance their radical agenda. And with their position threatened in the polls, they may try to ram through even more of their agenda in 2010.
Earlier this month while in Brussels, Vice President Joe Biden told the European Parliament that while "some American politicians and American journalists refer to Washington, DC as the 'capital of the free world' ... it seems to me that this great city, which boasts 1,000 years of history and which serves as the capital of Belgium, the home of the European Union, and the headquarters for NATO, this city has its own legitimate claim to that title." How revealing.
One might hope that the Obama administration would look at the path Europe has gone down (a bloated welfare state that saps economic growth and bleeds military spending) and decide to change course. But President Barack Obama's speech at West Point on Sunday quashed any such hopes. Speaking to graduating Cadets, President Obama laid out the increasingly identifiable pillars of the Obama Doctrine: greater reliance on international institutions; substituting soft power for hard power; and a more subdued and less self-reliant America – a scheme designed more to manage American decline than to ensure its people remain safe, free and prosperous.
Instead of cutting domestic spending and reining in entitlements, President Obama passed a $862 billion failed stimulus and created a brand new health care entitlement all while laying the ground work for future cuts to our nation's defenses. As Krauthammer wrote Friday: "This is retreat by design and, indeed, on principle."
Perhaps, the worst thing about the speech was that the President made it in front of the men and women who will have to live with the immediate consequences of his actions. The Obama Doctrine will put them in harm’s way without the modern equipment they will need; with allies who will increasingly doubt our resolve; and at the mercy of an international order that will value their lives for less than the power which the White House wants to put in their hands.
According to Rasmussen Reports, support for the repeal of Obamacare has jumped to its highest lever ever with 63% of voters now in support of repeal.
According to a new analysis by USA TODAY, during the first quarter of this year, paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history while government-provided benefits — from Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs — rose to a record high.
Big labor ally Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) is introducing a $165 billion bailout for troubled union pension funds.
Is this any way to run a country? Should the President of the United States be passing off responsibility to "independent" commissions? Should Congress be passing off responsibility for securing our nation's borders to an unaccountable commission of experts? How is any of this consistent with our nation's First Principles or the United States Constitution? It's not. The authors of our Constitution never meant to create a federal government with the power to force you to buy health insurance, let alone one where it would be unelected bureaucrats who determine what type of health insurance you could buy.
Our Founding Fathers specifically created a Constitution dividing the legislative, executive and judicial functions of government into three branches so that the separation of these powers would limit the size and scope of the federal government. Americans would know who to punish for bad policies at the ballot box because it would be clear who was responsible for creating and enforcing them. But that is very obviously not the system we have today. Our federal government has devolved into an incomprehensible mish-mash of alphabet soup government agencies and commissions that no one American could possibly understand. Why is our country in this state? What happened?
The Progressive movement happened. Hillsdale College Associate Professor of Political Science Ronald Pestritto explains:
For the American pioneers of the administrative state--the Progressives of the late 19th and early 20th centuries--this older, limited understanding of government stood in the way of the policy aims they believed the state ought to pursue in a world that had undergone significant evolution since the time of the Founding. They believed that the role of government, contrary to the perceived ahistorical notion of Founding-era liberalism, ought to adjust continually to meet the new demands of new ages. As Woodrow Wilson wrote in The State, "Government does now whatever experience permits or the times demand." ... It is the Progressives' desire to free bureaucratic agencies from the confines of politics and the law that allows us to trace the origins of the administrative state to their political thought. The idea of separating politics and administration--of grounding a significant portion of government not on the basis of popular consent but on expertise--was a fundamental aim of American Progressivism and explains the Progressives' fierce assault on the Founders' separation-of-powers constitutionalism. It was introduced into the United States by Progressive reformers who had themselves learned the principle from what was then the "cutting edge" theory of history and the state developed in 19th century Germany.
President Barack Obama, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are the modern heirs of the Progressive campaign to eviscerate the rule-of-law-based limited government envisioned by the U.S. Constitution and replace it with an expert-ruled European welfare state. Everything this regime has done since assuming power (TARP, the Presidential Task Force on Autos, Obamacare, EPA global warming regulations) empowers unaccountable expert committees and commissions. Commenting on Congress' new immigration commission, Rutgers University political science professor Ross Baker told The Washington Post: "It's the ultimate expression for the need for political cover." Enough cover. It's time Washington is held accountable.
The Treasury Department announced yesterday that the federal deficit for April soared to $82.69 billion, more than twice the $40 billion deficit that Wall Street economists had predicted. An April deficit is rare for the federal government (there has been a surplus in 43 out of the past 56 years) and the announcement marked a record 19th consecutive month that the Treasury has posted a shortfall. Like those who said there was no housing bubble, some on the left who crave an ever larger federal government are still saying that Americans have nothing to worry about. That we can borrow and spend forever. But many in the center left are beginning to wonder if emulating Europe, as President Barack Obama's policies are pushing us to today, is such a wise policy.
The Washington Post reported on its front page that the bailout of Greece was forcing "European governments [to] rewrite a post-World War II social contract that has been generous to workers and retirees but has become increasingly unaffordable for an aging population." And a New York Times headline blared In Greek Debt Crisis, Some See Parallels to U.S. with David Leonhardt reporting: "The numbers on our federal debt are becoming frighteningly familiar. The debt is projected to equal 140 percent of gross domestic product within two decades. Add in the budget troubles of state governments, and the true shortfall grows even larger. Greece’s debt, by comparison, equals about 115 percent of its G.D.P. today."
If we want to avoid Europe's fate, we must drastically cut federal spending. Since World War II, federal spending has generally remained between 18 and 22 percent of GDP. During the Bush Administration, spending increased from 18.4 to 20.9 percent of GDP. But under President Barack Obama's policies, federal spending reached 24.7 percent of GDP in 2009 — the highest level in American history outside of World War II. And President Obama's budgets will only make the problem worse. Before the recession, federal spending totaled $24,000 per U.S. household. President Obama would hike it to $36,000 per household by 2020 — an inflation-adjusted $12,000-per-household expansion of government. Commenting on President Obama’s budget, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) tells National Review Online: "This budget presents a choice of two futures. ... This budget is about more than specific programs or policies. It is really about the American idea, and whether we want to move towards a European-style welfare state."
There is another way. Simply bringing real federal spending back to the inflation adjusted $21,000 per household average that prevailed in the 1980s and 1990s would balance the budget by 2012 without raising a single tax on anyone. Even returning spending to the pre-recession level of 20 percent of GDP would eliminate two-thirds of the projected 2019 budget deficit without raising taxes.