ADDITIONAL IMPORTANT FEATURES:
Obama Makes 4 "Recess Appointments" even Though the Senate Is Not in Recess:
In early January 2012, President Obama made four appointments, which he termed "recess appointments," even though the Senate was not actually in recess. (A recess appointment is defined as an appointment, by the President, of a senior federal official while the U.S. Senate is in recess. The U.S. Constitution stipulates that the most senior federal officers must be confirmed by the Senate before assuming office, but while the Senate is in recess the President can act alone by making a recess appointment. To remain in effect a recess appointment must be approved by the Senate by the end of the next session of Congress, or the position becomes vacant again.)
Specifically, Obama appointed Richard Cordray to serve as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). And he appointed three additional people to the National Labor Relations Board.
As the Heritage Foundation explained:
Under Article II, section 2, clause 2 of the Constitution, the President has the power to fill vacancies that may happen during Senate recesses.... In this case, President Obama was seeking to fill the vacancy in the CFPB, a new agency that has come under significant criticism given its unparalleled powers to issue expansive regulations with virtually no accountability. Republicans in the Senate, to date, have refused to confirm the President’s nominees to head up the CFPB, vowing to block Senate approval until reforms are made to the agency. So President Obama has decided to act without their approval by attempting to make a recess appointment. The trouble is that Congress is not in a recess because the House of Representatives never consented, as required under the Constitution, Article I, section 5. That means that the President simply does not have the power to make this appointment....
Why take such action? The President says it’s because he can’t wait for Congress to act on behalf of the American people. The truth is that the President is hell bent on ramming through his agenda, and he is entirely unwilling to compromise with the duly elected representatives who sit in the House and Senate. By circumventing the Senate and appointing Cordray, the President can ensure that his big-government regulatory agenda is enacted without the reforms that Congress is demanding. Unfortunately, the Cordray appointment is not the only example of the President’s wanton, unilateral actions.
Apart from Cordray, the President also plans to make three appointments to the National Labor Relations Board without Senate approval, which will fundamentally alter the makeup of the board and enable the President to realize his Big Labor agenda. That means an unrestrained push to unionize businesses at all costs and punish companies that seek to grow in non-union states (as was attempted in the Boeing case) — even if it means harming both workers and the economy....
In an interview last month with 60 Minutes, the President gave warning of his intentions to preside over an imperial presidency for the next year. “What I’m not gonna do is wait for Congress,” he said. “So wherever we have an opportunity and I have the executive authority to go ahead and get some things done, we’re just gonna go ahead and do ‘em.”
The Wall Street Journal offered the following perspective on Obama's appointments:
Remember those terrible days of the Imperial Presidency, when George W. Bush made several "recess appointments" to overcome Senate opposition? Well, Czar George II never did attempt what President Obama did yesterday in making recess appointments when Congress isn't even on recess.
Eager to pick a fight with Congress as part of his re-election campaign, Mr. Obama did the Constitutional equivalent of sticking a thumb in its eye and hitting below the belt. He installed Richard Cordray as the first chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and named three new members to the National Labor Relations Board. He did so even though the Senate was in pro forma session after the new Congress convened this week....
The last clause of Section 5 of Article 1 of the Constitution says that "Neither House" of Congress can adjourn for more than three days "without the Consent of the other" house. In this case, the House of Representatives had not formally consented to Senate adjournment. It's true the House did this to block the President from making recess appointments, but it is following the Constitution in doing so. Let's hear Mr. Obama's legal justification.
Democrats had used a similar process to try to thwart Mr. Bush's recess appointments late in his term when they controlled both the House and the Senate. Prodded by West Virginia's Robert C. Byrd, who has since died, Majority Leader Harry Reid kept the Senate in pro forma session. Some advisers urged Mr. Bush to ignore the Senate and make recess appointments anyway, but he declined. Now Mr. Reid is supporting Mr. Obama's decision to make an end run around a Senate practice that he pioneered.
Some lawyers we respect argue that a pro forma session isn't a real Congressional session, and that's certainly worth debating. But that isn't the view that Mr. Reid or then-Senator Obama took in 2007-08, and it would certainly be an extension of Presidential power for the chief executive to be able to tell Congress that he can decide when Congress is really sitting and when it isn't. In any event, that still wouldn't explain the violation of the language in Section 5 above.
These appointments are brazen enough that they have the smell of a deliberate, and politically motivated, provocation. Recall the stories over the New Year's weekend, clearly planted by the White House, that Mr. Obama planned to make a campaign against Congress the core of his re-election drive. One way to do that is to run roughshod over the Senate's advice and consent power and dare the Members to stop him.
Mr. Cordray's appointment also plays into Mr. Obama's plan to run against bankers and other plutocrats. The President justified his appointment yesterday by saying that Senate Republicans had blocked Mr. Cordray's nomination "because they don't agree with the law setting up the consumer watchdog."
Yet he knows that Senate Republicans haven't called for the dissolution of the consumer financial bureau, or personally attacked Mr. Cordray, as Democrats like to claim. Republicans have said they'd be happy to confirm him if Mr. Obama agrees to reforms of the bureau that would make it more accountable to elected officials and subject to Congressional appropriations. As it stands, the bureau is part of the Federal Reserve but Mr. Cordray sets his own budget and doesn't report to the Fed Chairman. His rule-makings also don't need to worry about such inconvenient details as bank safety and soundness....
As for Mr. Obama's three NLRB appointees, he only notified Congress of his intent to nominate them on December 15. The Senate hasn't had time to hold a single confirmation hearing. The nominees, two Democrats and one Republican, will give the labor board a quorum that it wouldn't have had with the December 31 expiration of the term of previous recess-appointee Craig Becker....
Republican Senator David Vitter, who serves on the Senate Banking Committee, said that all four of the recess appointments were “illegal and unconstitutional.” “He’s gone beyond what any president has done and really shredded the constitution in practice with regard to recess appointments," said Vitter.
FrontPage Magazine columnist Joseph Klein offered a thorough analysis of the unconstitutionality of Obama's appointments:
On January 4, 2012 President Obama announced four unilateral appointments, citing the Recess Clause of the Constitution. These involved the appointment of the first director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, and appointees to fill three vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board. Predictably, the Obama Justice Department ratified his abuse of his constitutional recess appointment power. In a legal memo dated January 6, 2012, Virginia A. Seitz, the assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, concluded that the Senate’s “pro forma” sessions counted as recesses even though the Senate did not regard them as recesses. Why? Because the president says so.
Seitz claims that if during any period the Senate cannot actually conduct business on the spot and is “unavailable to perform its advise-and-consent function,” the president is free to deem the Senate in recess and make his own “recess” appointments. The absurdity of such logic means that any time between Friday and Monday when the Senate often does not conduct official business, the president can make all of the appointments he wants to.
Seitz admits that the practice of holding “pro forma” Senate sessions that were not deemed recesses by the Senate began when the Democrats controlled the Senate and a Republican occupied the White House:
Beginning in late 2007, and continuing into the 112th Congress, the Senate has frequently conducted pro forma sessions during recesses occurring within sessions of Congress… The Senate Majority Leader has stated that such pro forma sessions break a long recess into shorter adjournments, each of which might ordinarily be deemed too short to be considered a “recess” within the meaning of the Recess Appointments Clause, thus preventing the President from exercising his constitutional power to make recess appointments.
Seitz even quotes a 2007 statement by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.): “[T]he Senate will be coming in for pro forma sessions . . . to prevent recess appointments.”
Reid is still the Senate Majority Leader under whom the very same pro forma procedure is being followed this time around. The only real difference – there is now a Democrat occupying the White House.
Seitz tries to draw another distinction between then and now. In 2007-2008, she says, the Senate really wanted to block recess appointments by using the pro forma sessions. This time, Seitz argues, the House of Representatives made the Senate do it by refusing to pass any resolution to allow the Senate to recess or adjourn for more than three days:
While this practice was initiated by Senate action, more recently the Senate’s use of such sessions appears to have been forced by actions of the House of Representatives.
Under the Constitution, as Seitz acknowledges, “[n]either House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days.” (U.S. Const. Art. I, § 5, cl. 4 ). But Seitz tries to turn this provision around to her favor by arguing that, since the House prevented the Senate from adjourning for more than three days even if it wanted to, the president can help the Senate out and decide for himself that the Senate was really on an extended recess.
Seitz then proceeds to the heart of her legal argument in support of Obama’s “recess” appointments. She states that under a test first articulated by Attorney General Daugherty in 1921, and subsequently reaffirmed and applied by several opinions of the Justice Department, the “constitutional test for whether a recess appointment is permissible is whether the adjournment of the Senate is of such duration that the Senate could ‘not receive communications from the President or participate as a body in making appointments.’”
Seitz proceeds to take quotes out of context from the Daugherty opinion, which she uses to support her argument, such as the following:
[T]he president has broad discretion to determine when there is a real and genuine recess making it impossible for him to receive the advice and consent of the Senate.
Seitz neglects to mention that Attorney General Daugherty was dealing with the issue of whether the president can make appointments during a recess, no matter how long, if the recess occurred within a single session. Daugherty concluded that a 28-day intra-session break clearly did constitute a recess for purposes of the Recess Appointments Clause. However, he wrote that a break “for only 2 instead of 28 days” did not constitute such a recess. “Nor do I think an adjournment of 5 or even 10 days can be said to constitute the recess intended by the Constitution.”
Seitz concedes in a footnote that her own Justice Department has more recently used a minimum of three days of adjournment to determine whether there was in fact a recess:
[T]his Office and the Department of Justice in litigation have recognized the argument that the three days set by the Constitution as the time during which one House may adjourn without the consent of the other, U.S. Const. art. I, § 5, cl. 4, is also the length of time amounting to a ‘Recess’ under the Recess Appointments Clause. (fn 13)
The only federal court of appeals decision squarely on point was an Eleventh Circuit opinion upholding the recess appointment of a judge made during an eleven-day intra-session recess.
Lacking any precedent to support the president’s authority to make recess appointments during adjournments of less than three full days, assistant attorney general Seitz simply asserts that, for all intents and purposes, the current Senate was actually in the midst of an uninterrupted 20 day recess. Her argument is that the Senate was not conducting any official business during the shorter pro forma sessions and that the Senate was thus “unable to provide advice and consent on appointments.”
Such arguments are too weak to overcome the legislative branch’s sole constitutional authority to “determine the Rules of its Proceedings” (U.S. Const. Art. I, § 5, cl. 2). There is no authorization in the Constitution for the president to impose his own understanding of whether the pro forma sessions have the legal effect of interrupting a recess of the Senate for any purpose if the Senate has determined otherwise. There is only one express provision in the Constitution that gives the president the power to interfere with the legislative adjournment decision. Under Article II, § 3, the president “may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper.” In other words, Obama had a constitutional remedy to resolve any differences between the House and the Senate on the length of adjournment and could have even set the length of adjournment for them. He chose not to do so. He did not use the one express constitutional recourse available to him to prevent an inter-house disagreement over legislative adjournment schedules from interfering with his executive recess appointment powers.
Even if the standard of whether the Senate was unable to provide advice and consent on appointments is used to define what constitutes a recess during which the president is entitled to make a recess appointment, this argument still fails in this case.
The Senate was able to provide advice and consent, if it chose to, during its pro-forma sessions by the same procedure used last month to pass the two month extension of the payroll tax cut – unanimous consent. Seitz even admits in another of her footnotes (fn 17) that” the Senate has occasionally enacted legislation by unanimous consent during pro forma sessions.” Later, in the text of her legal memo, she acknowledges:
[I]t could be argued that the experience of recent pro forma sessions suggests that the Senate is in fact available to fulfill its constitutional duties during recesses punctuated by periodic pro forma sessions. Twice in 2011, the Senate passed legislation during pro forma sessions by unanimous consent, evidenced by the lack of objection from any member who might have been present at the time. During one of these sessions, the Senate also agreed to a conference with the House, and messages received from the House earlier in the intrasession recess were put into the Congressional Record. Conceivably, the Senate might provide advice and consent on pending nominations during a pro forma session in the same manner (emphasis added.)
This one paragraph in Seitz’s memo, citing specific examples of legislative actions conducted during pro forma sessions and conceding that the Senate had the means to provide advice and consent on pending nominations in the same manner, undercuts the entire premise of her argument that the Senate was unable to provide “advice and consent” to the president during pro forma sessions.
How does Seitz deal with this problem? She simply asserts that it does not matter:
We do not believe, however, that these examples prevent the President from determining that the Senate remains unavailable to provide advice and consent during the present intrasession recess… In our judgment, the President may properly rely on the public pronouncements of the Senate that it will not conduct business (including action on nominations), in determining whether the Senate remains in recess, regardless of whether the Senate has disregarded its own orders on prior occasions.
In other words, it does not matter to the Obama Justice Department that the Senate has demonstrated within the last month its ability to pass a major piece of legislation such as the payroll tax cut extension, pushed hard by Obama himself, during a pro forma session. Seitz, Obama’s assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, asserts that the president nevertheless still has the right to deem the Senate in recess for the purpose of making his unilateral appointments without even having formally requested Senate “advice and consent” during a pro-forma session by the same means used to pass the tax cut extension.
The entire Obama Department of Justice legal justification for Obama’s so-called “recess” appointments is nothing more than an after-the-fact rationalization of an unconstitutional act.
How Obama's Four Appointments Were the Latest Example of His Circumventing the Authority of Congress:
In January 2012, the Heritage Foundation offered this overview of how Obama and his administration had already circumvented Congressional authority from 2009-2011:
Last week, President Barack Obama took the latest step on his road toward an arrogant, new authoritarianism with four illegal appointments that entirely trampled on the Constitution’s requirements. More troubling still, the President chose to shred the Constitution all in the name of serving his Big Labor agenda while killing jobs in the process.
The President’s actions once again gave voice to his animating view of governing: doing so is much easier when one isn’t constrained by the Constitution and its checks and balances. “We can’t wait,” the President exclaimed after unilaterally appointing Richard Cordray as director of the newly inaugurated Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). He also appointed three officials to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), two of whom had been nominated less than a month before.
The policy implications of the President’s appointments? The CFPB will now have unmitigated authority to issue regulation upon regulation, contributing to the already-crippling red tape that is strangling business in America. And the NLRB will have the power to advance the President’s agenda to bolster unions across the country at the expense of job growth in a smarting economy.
For what, exactly, can’t the President wait? Quite simply, constitutional republicanism — the system of checks and balances integral to American government and political freedom. He grew impatient with the delays that inevitably accompany any legislative action an acted outside the Constitution’s mandated process. But the American people should ask, “Is such action really preferable to a deliberative, if slower-moving, constitutional republic?”
The President’s appointments last week, troubling as they are, are but the next steps on the road to a despotic form of governance that has come to characterize his Administration — and all of liberalism in America today — what authors Fred Siegel and Joel Kotkin termed in City Journal this week Obama’s “New Authoritarianism.”
Frustrated by the unwillingness of the people’s representatives to enact his agenda wholesale, Obama has, from early in his Administration, sought to enact a series of proposals through administrative fiat, not the legislative process:
* The Democrat-controlled Senate rejected his cap-and-trade plan, so Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency classified carbon dioxide, the compound that sustains vegetative life, as a pollutant so that it could regulate it under the Clean Air Act.
* After Congress defeated his stealth-amnesty immigration proposal, the DREAM Act, the Department of Homeland Security instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to “adopt enforcement parameters that bring about the same ends as the DREAM Act,” as Heritage’s Mike Brownfield explained.
* When the woefully misnamed Employee Free Choice Act–explicitly designed to bolster labor unions’ dwindling membership rolls–was defeated by Congress, the NLRB announced a rule that would implement “snap elections” for union representation, limiting employers’ abilities to make their case to workers and virtually guaranteeing a higher rate of unionization at the expense of workplace democracy.
* After an innovation-killing Internet regulation proposal failed to make it through Congress, the Federal Communications Commission announced — on Christmas Eve, no less — that it would regulate the Web anyway, despite even a federal court’s ruling that it had no authority to do so.
* In its push for national education standards, the Education Department decided to tie waivers for the No Child Left Behind law to requirements that states adopt those standards, shutting Congress out of the effort.
* Rather than push Congress to repeal federal laws against marijuana use, the Department of Justice (DOJ) simply decided it would no longer enforce those laws.
* DOJ made a similar move with respect to the Defense of Marriage Act: rather than seeking legislative recourse, DOJ announced it would stop enforcing the law.
While these efforts are all aimed at circumventing the legislative process, none was so brazen as his four illegal appointments. Last week, Obama went one step further: He violated not just the spirit of the Constitution, which vests in Congress the power to make laws, but the letter of the law as well.
The move is “a breathtaking violation of the separation of powers,” explain former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese and Heritage colleague Todd Gaziano, a former attorney in DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, in a Washington Post column. “[N]ever before has a president purported to make a ‘recess’ appointment when the Senate is demonstrably not in recess,” they note. “That is a constitutional abuse of a high order.”
Dr. Matthew Spalding, vice president of American Studies and director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics at The Heritage Foundation, explains that this “new despotism” — a government where regulations and unilateral actions replace republican governance — runs entirely counter to the Founders’ vision of America:
"The greatest political revolution since the American Founding has been the shift of power away from the institutions of constitutional government to an oligarchy of unelected experts. They rule over virtually every aspect of our daily lives, ostensibly in the name of the American people but in actuality by the claimed authority of science, policy expertise, and administrative efficiency. If this regime becomes the undisputed norm — accepted not only among the intellectual and political elites, but also by the American people, as the defining characteristic of the modern state — it could well mark the end of our great experiment in self-government."
President Obama’s actions are exactly the kind that the Founders feared and sought to guard against. His illegal appointments usurp power from the American people’s duly elected representatives, and the regulations they will promulgate will, undoubtedly, contribute to the unabated growth of the undemocratic administrative state.
Now that the President has crossed the threshold of constitutionality, there really is no telling where he may stop. There is a clear trend here, however, and it leads further and further from the constitutional order. With these illegal appointments, the President has taken to new heights his disdain for the separation of powers. Whether it will stop here depends on Congress — Will lawmakers of both parties reassert the legislature’s constitutional authority and take a stand against Obama’s arrogant new authoritarianism?
Obama Announces Military Budget Cuts:
On January 3, 2011, President Obama announced his plan to reduce U.S. troop strength by tens of thousands because ”we’ve succeeded in defending our nation, taking the fight to our enemies, reducing the number of Americans in harm’s way, and we’ve restored America’s global leadership.” ”Yes, our military will be leaner, said Obama, “but the world must know the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats.” All told, the president's proposal entailed $490 billion in spending cuts (below previously projected expenditures) over a ten-year period; these cuts were in addition to the $500 billion he had already cut out of the military budget during his first three years in office.
As a result of the new strategy, the U.S. will no longer have the capability to fight two major ground wars simultaneously.
Obama had previously killed some key military technology programs as well. For instance, 2010 saw the demise of the Airborne Laser, a project aimed at destroying enemy missiles soon after they blast off. That same year, the Future Combat Systems program, which was deigned to coordinate mobile forces and unmanned vehicles, was also terminated. In 2011, the Navy’s hypersonic electromagnetic rail gun, a project designed to intercept anti-ship missiles, lost funding.
At the time of Obama's January 2012 announcement, it was also speculated that further cutbacks could affect the F-35 fighter plane, whose radar-evading stealth technology was a key to U.S. dominance in the air.
According to author Arnold Ahlert:
"As always, this chain saw approach to the military is what every military cutback has been about for progressives: maintaining the inviolability of the welfare state, for which spending is set to hit nearly 11% of GDP by 2020, before the projected $2.6 trillion slated for ObamaCare -- a number that will undoubtedly rise -- is factored in....
“Entitlements now account for around 65 percent of all federal spending and a record 18 percent of GDP. The three largest entitlements -- Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid -- eclipsed defense spending in 1976 and have been growing ever since. If future taxes are held at the historical average, these three entitlements will consume all tax revenues by 2052, leaving no money for the government’s primary constitutional obligation: providing for the common defense."
The Hoover Institution’s Shelby Steele offered this analysis of Obama's actions:
“[The American left] seeks to trade the burdens of greatness for the relief of mediocrity. When greatness fades, when a nation contracts to a middling place in the world, then the world in fact no longer knocks on its door…To civilize America, to redeem the nation from its supposed avarice and hubris, the American left effectively makes a virtue of decline–as if we can redeem America only by making her indistinguishable from lesser nations.”
Historian Victor Davis Hanson explained why Obama's proposed defense cuts were a bad idea:
... [A] robust military keeps the peace by deterring aggressors through the appearance of overwhelming force. We often forget that the appearance of strength in peace is almost as important as the reality of strength in war. When wars end, we scale back (think 1919 or 1946) -- only to kick ourselves once tensions arise again out of nowhere, and we must scramble to catch up and rearm for an unimagined World War II or Cold War.
America's armed forces spend about 80 percent of their budgets not on bullets and bombs but on training and compensating soldiers. Often, they do a far better job shaping the minds and character of our youth than do our colleges....
Defense outlay currently represents only about 20 percent of federal budget expenditures and is below 5 percent of our gross national product. Those percentages are roughly average costs for recent years -- despite an ongoing deployment in Afghanistan. In contrast, over the last three years we have borrowed a record near-$5 trillion for vast unfunded entitlements -- from a spiraling Social Security and Medicare to expanding the food stamp program to include one-seventh of America....
Unfortunately, defense cuts do not occur in isolation. They feed a syndrome best typified by an insolvent and largely defenseless socialist Europe. The more that prosperous societies cut their defenses to expand social programs, the more the resulting dependency leads to even less defense and ever more benefits. Once the state promises to take care of the citizen, the citizen believes that more subsidies are still never enough. And once voters believe that defense spending is an impediment to greater entitlements, the fewer impediments they will pay for. The net result is something like the squabbling, soon-to-collapse European Union: trillions in unfunded entitlement liabilities, and unable to defend itself.
Many of the new cuts are aimed at the traditional ground forces, given that we are in a high-tech age of missiles, sophisticated drones and counterinsurgency missions. But the nature of war is neither static nor predictable. After World War II, Harry Truman wanted to do away with the Marines -- and then was glad he had not when they largely saved the reputation of the U.S. military during the unforeseen disaster in Korea in December 1950. After the Gulf War of 1990-91, we cut back on our ground forces, only to build them back up so that the Marines could deal with enemies in awful places like Anbar Province in Iraq.
The decline of civilizations of the past -- fourth-century-B.C. Athens, fifth-century-A.D. Rome, 15th-century Byzantium, or 1930s Western Europe -- was not caused by their spending too much money on defense or not spending enough on public entitlements. Rather, their expanding governments redistributed more borrowed money, while a dependent citizenry wanted even fewer soldiers to guarantee ever more handouts.
History's bleak lesson is that those societies with self-reliant citizens who protect themselves and their interests prosper; those who grow dependent cut back their defenses -- and waste away.
Obama Signals that U.S. May Share Nuclear Defense Secrets with Russia:
On January 4, 2012, Bill Gertz reported the following in The Washington Times:
President Obama signaled Congress this week that he is prepared to share U.S. missile defense secrets with Russia.
In the president’s signing statement issued Saturday in passing into law the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill, Mr. Obama said restrictions aimed at protecting top-secret technical data on U.S. Standard Missile-3 velocity burnout parameters might impinge on his constitutional foreign policy authority.
As first disclosed in this space several weeks ago, U.S. officials are planning to provide Moscow with the SM-3 data, despite reservations from security officials who say that doing so could compromise the effectiveness of the system by allowing Russian weapons technicians to counter the missile. The weapons are considered some of the most effective high-speed interceptors in the U.S. missile defense arsenal.
There are also concerns that Russia could share the secret data with China and rogue states such as Iran and North Korea to help their missile programs defeat U.S. missile defenses.
Officials from the State Department and Missile Defense Agency have discussed the idea of providing the SM-3 data to the Russians as part of the so-far fruitless missile-defense talks with Moscow, headed in part of by Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher, who defense officials say is a critic of U.S. missile defenses.
Their thinking is that if the Russians know the technical data, it will help allay Moscow’s fears that the planned missile defenses in Europe would be used against Russian ICBMs. Officials said current SM-3s are not fast enough to catch long-range Russian missiles, but a future variant may have some anti-ICBM capabilities....
Section 1227 of the defense law prohibits spending any funds that would be used to give Russian officials access to sensitive missile-defense technology, as part of a cooperation agreement without first sending Congress a report identifying the specific secrets, how they would be used and steps to protect the data from compromise.
The president also must certify to Congress that Russia will not share the secrets with other states and that it will not help Russia “to develop countermeasures” to U.S. defenses.
The certification also must show whether Russia is providing equal access to its missile defense technologies, which are mainly nuclear-tipped anti-missile interceptors.
Mr. Obama said in the signing statement that he would treat the legal restrictions as “non-binding.”
“While my administration intends to keep the Congress fully informed of the status of U.S. efforts to cooperate with the Russian Federation on ballistic missile defense, my administration will also interpret and implement section 1244 in a manner that does not interfere with the president’s constitutional authority to conduct foreign affairs and avoids the undue disclosure of sensitive diplomatic communications,” Mr. Obama said, incorrectly identifying the section of the law containing the restrictions.
Obama's False Claims about U.S. Oil and Gas Production During His State of the Union Speech:
During his January 24, 2012 State of the Union Speech, President Obama took credit for thee highest levels of natural gas production in more than 30 years, the highest levels of oil production in eight years, a reduction of oil imports by an average of 1.1 million barrels per day, and the transformation of the United States into a net energy exporter. Larry Bell of Forbes magazine analyzes Obama's claims:
To hear him tell it, these achievements, to the extent they really exist, are appropriately attributable to his foresight and actions, rather to than to an entrepreneurial energy industry. Speaking at a January 17 meeting of his Jobs and Competitive Council he complained about lack of recognition of this fact, stating, “Folks are acting as if that [natural gas boon] just sprung out of thin air and is one more example of the dynamism of the marketplace.” ...
First, he’s right about natural gas production being at record high levels and oil up very slightly, but he apparently forgot to mention that is occurring on private and state-owned lands, not on federal lands that presidents have control over. In fact the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has reported that both natural gas and oil production have declined on federal lands since the beginning of the Obama administration.
As for domestic oil, it is also true that production has reached slightly highest levels since 2003, but yields on federal lands have fallen 43% over the past 9 years, and have done so most rapidly under Obama’s watch. While total levels have been quite stable, EIA’s estimated production for 2012 is only about 13% higher than for the lowest year over an eight-year period (about 2,055,646,000 barrels, compared with 2,073,453,000 barrels in 2003). In January 2009 when President Obama was inaugurated, the U.S. produced 5,154,000 barrels of oil per day. By November 2011 (the last month for data), the U.S. was producing 5,874,000 barrels per day. This 700,000 increase occurred once again on private and state lands.
Not only is the Obama administration making it more difficult to produce energy on federal lands, his minions are also leasing out less lands than in the past. Due to actions that limit offshore areas where oil can be produced and cancel other leases, production on federal lands will most likely continue to fall....
Has the president, as he bragged, caused the amount of oil we are importing to be reduced? Very likely, the answer is a clear “yes”. More than half of this reduction is because of the ongoing recession along with much higher fuel prices which have caused consumers to drive less. But has the U.S., as Obama stated, become a net energy exporter? He didn’t provide any information source to back up that claim, and it contradicts EIA data that shows this to be far off the reality mark. In 2010 the U.S. imported 21 quadrillion of the 98 quadrillion BTUs of energy used.
And what about that bold new proposal to make more than 75% of undiscovered oil and gas resources off our shores available for development, while putting in place common-sense safety requirements to prevent a disaster like the BP oil spill from happening again? For historical perspective, let’s remember that when Obama was elected, nearly 100% of the offshore areas were available for exploration and development. Since then his administration has imposed severe limitations. One case in point is that despite bi-partisan support from the Virginia delegation, including Democratic senators, exploration off Virginia’s coast has been prohibited.
Do you happen to remember when the Obama administration imposed a nearly year-long deep water drilling moratorium following the BP oil spill that blocked U.S. access to an estimated 7.5 billion barrels of oil and nearly 60 trillion cubic feet of natural gas? And when that very same administration also invested more than $2 billion in trade credits with Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras to finance offshore exploration in their Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro? (Investor’s Business Daily has recently reported that an Ex-Im bank source informed them that the amount could go way higher, “in the neighborhood of $20 billion”.) Do you happen to recall that March 19, 2010 White House press conference when the president pledged that America would become one of their best customers?
Well, it seems they got a better offer. Ten months later Brazil snubbed Obama’s generosity with our money and opted to sell its oil to another country. China bought up a 40% stake in Repsol-YPF’s Brazil unit which has dibs on drilling in the offshore Santos Basin where the biggest deepwater discoveries are occurring, along with a 30% stake in Galp Energia, a Portuguese company that has also acquired rights there. Meanwhile, some of those embargoed out-of-business deep water rigs we had planned to use sailed off into the sunset to Brazil.
Having been jilted by Brazil, one might imagine that the president might be more appreciative of our neighbor to the north. Yet shortly before his State of the Union address he single-handedly rejected issuing a Keystone XL pipeline permit that does great injury to Canada as well as to American energy consumers, businesses and job opportunities. A scant one month earlier his administration imposed onerous regulations on the American economy through EPA standards that will have little or no measurable effect on health from targeted emissions.
While extolling virtues of natural gas and cheering his administration’s accomplishments, the president continues to call for higher taxes and restrictions on those industries we depend upon to produce it. Included are proposed windfall profit taxes, use-it or lose-it land fees, and agency foot-dragging on leases awaiting federal permits. At the same time, he stumps unrelentingly for taxpayer handouts and other special benefits for Solyndra-style green energy companies that can’t compete in free markets, and most likely, never will.
This is a president who promoted alarmism about a scarcity of American oil resources, mistakenly declaring in June 2010 that “We consume more than 20% of the world’s oil, but have less than 2% of the world’s oil reserves.” In reality, the Institute for Energy Research founded by fellow Forbes contributor Robert Bradley has reported, based upon government data, that North America land areas contain twice the combined proven reserves of all OPEC nations, and enough natural gas to provide for America’s electricity needs at current usage rates for the more than 500 years.
Obama Issues Edict Forcing Religious Health-Care Providers to Violate Their Own Views on Abortion and Contraception:
In January 2012, the Obama administration issued an edict mandating that religious hospitals, schools, charities and other health and social service providers provide "free" abortifacient pills, sterilizations and contraception on demand in their insurance plans -- even if it doing so violates their moral codes and the teachings of their churches.
Critics pointed out that it would be a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment if, for example, a Catholic institution were required by law to provide (and pay for) such “health care services” for people. But Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius declared that there would be no such Free Exercise violation if the institutions in question were deemed, by regulatory fiat, not religious. Charles Krauthammer explains what happened next:
And thus, the word came forth from Sebelius decreeing the exact criteria required (a) to meet her definition of “religious” and thus (b) to qualify for a modicum of independence from newly enacted state control of American health care, under which the aforementioned Sebelius and her phalanx of experts determine everything — from who is to be covered, to which treatments are to be guaranteed free of charge.
Criterion 1: A “religious institution” must have “the inculcation of religious values as its purpose.” But that’s not the purpose of Catholic charities; it’s to give succor to the poor. That’s not the purpose of Catholic hospitals; it’s to give succor to the sick. Therefore, they don’t qualify as “religious” — and therefore can be required, among other things, to provide free morning-after abortifacients.
Criterion 2: Any exempt institution must be one that “primarily employs” and “primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets.” Catholic soup kitchens do not demand religious IDs from either the hungry they feed or the custodians they employ. Catholic charities and hospitals — even Catholic schools — do not turn away Hindu or Jew.
The birth-control coverage mandate, originally announced in the summer of 2011, was intended to force virtually all employers to cover sterilizations, contraception, and abortifacient drugs. The exemption for religious employers applied only to houses of worship, not religious hospitals, schools, and charities.
On February 10, 2012, the Obama administration, reacting to harsh public criticism, announced that instead of forcing religious employers to pay for birth control, it would require insurance companies to offer the drugs free of charge to all women, regardless of where they worked: “If a woman works for religious employers with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide contraception coverage but her insurance company will be required to offer contraceptive care free of charge.”
According to pro-life Rep. Chris Smith:
“The so-called new policy is the discredited old policy, dressed up to look like something else It remains a serious violation of religious freedom. Only the most naïve or gullible would accept this as a change in policy.... The White House Fact Sheet is riddled with doublespeak and contradiction. It states, for example, that religious employers ‘will not’ have to pay for abortion pills, sterilization and contraception, but their ‘insurance companies’ will. Who pays for the insurance policy? The religious employer.”
Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League stated that the new rule amounted to a “shell game.” “At the end of the day, religious employers are still required to provide insurance plans that offer free contraceptives, sterilizations and abortifacients in violation of their moral tenets,” he said.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan stated that the Obama administration's "accommodation" solved nothing, since most church-affiliated organizations either are self-insured or purchase coverage from Catholic insurance companies like Christian Brothers Investment Services and Catholic Mutual Group, which also saw the mandate as "morally toxic." Dolan argued that the mandate also infringed on the religious liberty of nonministerial organizations like the Knights of Columbus and Catholic-oriented businesses such as publishing houses, as well as individuals, Catholic or not, who conscientiously objected.
Obama Administration Acknowledges that Obamacare Will Raise, Not Lower, Healthcare Insurance Premiums:
In 2009, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, the chief architect of ObamaCare, reviewed a report by the insurance industry contending that health insurance premiums would rise sharply with the passage of the healthcare bill (i.e., the Affordable Care Act). At that time (2009), Gruber argued that the industry report failed to take into account government subsidies that would help moderate-income Americans purchase insurance, or administrative overhead costs which he predicted would “fall enormously” once insurance polices were sold through the anticipated government-regulated marketplaces, or exchanges. “If you literally take the data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) you can see that individuals will be saving money in a nongroup market,” he said.
On September 22, 2010, in an informal discussion regarding the healthcare bill, President Obama likewise contended that “as a consequence of the Affordable Care Act, premiums are going to be lower than they would be otherwise; health care costs overall are going to be lower than they would be otherwise. And that means, by the way, that the deficit is going to be lower than it would be otherwise.”
But in February 2012, Jonathan Gruber backtracked on his previous analysis. He now told officials in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Colorado the price of insurance premiums would “dramatically increase” under the reforms.
Some of the variables surrounding Obamacare had already come into play by that point. First and foremost were the waivers to the plan, issued by the administration. The Hill claimed that as of January 2012, some 1,231 companies had received waivers from the plan. ABC News had placed the number at 1,471 in July of 2011
Regardless, Republicans contended that the waivers were either politically inspired or represented a fundamental flaw with the legislation. “I think it is an understatement to say that these waivers have been controversial,” said Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican, during an interview in March of 2011. “If they needed a waiver in 2011, won’t they need a waiver in 2012, 2013?” On June 17, 2011, the Obama administration announced it was ending the waiver program as of September 22, 2011 in order to avoid what the Huffington Post characterized as a “potential political distraction ahead of next year’s elections.”
The next variable that came into play was the CLASS (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports) Act. The original premise of the CLASS Act, a government-sponsored long-term care plan similar to those available in the private sector, was that it would be self-supporting. Those who signed up for the voluntary program would have paid a monthly premium of about $100 for insurance coverage promising cash benefits averaging no less than $50 a day. Furthermore, the CBO, which scored the healthcare bill as reducing the deficit by $210 billion in the years 2012-2021, contended that $86 billion of these savings came from CLASS. Why? Because the program would have taken in premiums for five years, before it paid out claims, making it appear to be “deficit-reducing”–in the near term.
Yet there were doubts about the ability of the program to be self-sustaining from the start, especially if a smaller group of relatively unhealthy Americans were the majority of users. Naysayers also noted that once the program got beyond the ten-year window used to calculate the above CBO numbers, the program would be inundated by cost overruns. As a result, Congress voted that the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary had to ensure that the program would be sustainable for 75 years before certifying it.
The math, including the so-called savings, did not add up. On October 14, 2011, a letter was released to Congress by HHD Secretary Kathleen Sibelius. “Despite our best analytical efforts, I do not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time,” it read. Sherry Glied, assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at HHS claimed CLASS was an isolated case. “There is a very clear difference between that kind of uncertainty and the rest of the law,” Glied argued.
Ms. Glied has a short memory. During a March 4, 2011 hearing on Capitol Hill, Kathleen Sibelius was asked by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) whether $500 billion in Medicare cuts were used to preserve Medicare or fund the health-care law. “Both” she answered. Yet despite what amounts to double-counting Richard Sorian, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, contended that the “scoring (CBO estimates) of the Affordable Care Act is entirely consistent with how legislation has been scored for the 30 years” and that “savings in programs like Medicare and Social Security are scored as improving the solvency of those programs and reducing the deficit.” Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) made far more sense. “The same dollar can’t be used twice, he said. “This is the largest of the many budget gimmicks Democrats used to claim Obamacare would reduce the deficit.”
There was also a “gimmick” that might be referred to as the Mother of All Variables with respect to the healthcare act. In their haste to pass the bill, Democrats did not bother with key details about how the new law would be implemented. Instead they left those up to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius. As a result there were 700 instances where the language of the bill said that she “shall” do something, more than 200 instances where she “may” do something, and 139 occasions where the “Secretary determines” something as well. Due to the general ambiguity, how much power yet another unelected official would actually wield remained unknown.
In backtracking on his original analysis, Gruber noted that “even after tax credits some individuals are ‘losers,’ in that they pay more than before reform.” How much more? Gruber was blunt in a presentation to Wisconsin officials in August 2011. “After the application of tax subsidies, 59 percent of the individual market will experience an average premium increase of 31 percent,” Gruber reported.
Minnesota’s numbers were no better. In a November, presentation, Gruber estimated that 32 percent of Minnesotans would face hikes similar to those in Wisconsin. People in that state had already experienced a 15 percent premium hike because the state was spending $100 million to subsidize high-risk pools. In Colorado, where Gruber delivered his analysis in January 2012, he noted that, despite tax credits contained in the healthcare bill, “13 percent of people will still face a premium increase even after the application of tax subsidies, and seven percent will see an increase of more than ten percent.” Gruber explained to the Daily Caller that his reports “reflect the high cost of folding state high risk pools into the [federal government's] exchange–without using the money the state was already spending to subsidize those high risk pools.”
(The section above is adapted from "ObamaCare Architect: Premiums to Soar," by Arnold Ahlert (February 13, 2012).
Obama Releases His 2013 Budget:
On February 13, 2012, President Obama unveiled his budget for Fiscal Year 2013. Journalist Rick Moran analyzed and discussed the budget:
It is an extraordinary document. Not because it has a ghost of a chance of becoming law, but because it reveals themes and issues the president plans to run on in the fall, while exposing the rancid nature of Obama’s redistributionist ideas: taking, taking – and then taking some more — from those who produce and create the nation’s wealth and jobs all in the name of a cynically dishonest notion of “fairness.”
It is also extraordinary because in a year that the administration projects the government will run a deficit of $901 billion dollars (a rosy scenario considering Obama has yet to come anywhere close to achieving his deficit goals), the president is proposing hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending. In essence, Mr. Obama is not taxing producers in an effort to slow the runaway spending and deficits his policies have caused. He is going to use those new found revenues in a bid to buy votes by divvying up the extra cash among favored constituencies....
His spending “cuts” included in the budget do not touch entitlements, forcing the nation’s defense to take the brunt of the cutbacks. The defense budget will fall 4%. In practical terms, it means slashing eight Army combat brigades, six Marine Corps battalions and 11 fighter squadrons, and will start to pull two Army brigades out of Europe.
Meanwhile, the Department of Energy becomes a huge winner, increasing its budget a whopping 41% — mostly to fund Obama’s green energy fiascoes. The Department of Justice makes out a big loser, with its budget falling 15%. But it is where the cuts will be made that will rile Republicans. The president proposes to massively cut a program that reimburses states and cities for jailing illegal immigrants for committing crimes. Funding would fall from $240 million to just $70 million.
The Hispanic vote is vital to his re-election and allowing illegal aliens who have committed crimes out on bail or to simply disappear will no doubt sit well with liberal Latino groups who have been agitating against enforcing any of the nation’s immigration laws....
Agency after agency, department after department, will see new spending. For the Department of Transportation, a pork-laden, five-year $476 billion highway bill and a $50 billion “infusion” for roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure. Did we mention the $47 billion for high speed rail? Such trivialities are an asterisk in this budget.
Foreign aid gets a boost, including $800 million for the “Arab Spring.” The president wants to create a “Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund” — explained in the budget document as a fund that “will provide incentives for long-term economic, political, and trade reforms to countries in transition — and to countries prepared to make reforms proactively.” Analysts are unsure if this is “new money” or simply collecting cash from other programs and placing it in a fund with a new name....
Meanwhile, Medicare and Medicaid spending continues its unsustainable pace, rising 9% in FY2013. The administration is claiming $360 billion in savings as a result of paying doctors and hospitals less for Medicare services — the old “doc fix” that is added to HHS budgets every year and is shot down every year by Congress and the AMA.
One might expect the “green” energy initiatives, the defense cuts, and the massive increase in transportation spending where Obama’s union allies will get a windfall. But it is how the president wants to raise taxes that the class warfare theme of his campaign for re-election and, what can only be described as his hatred for the successful, the entrepreneur, the savvy investor, and the small business person, becomes apparent.
Larry Kudlow sums up a few of the tax increases in Obama’s budget: "The capital-gains tax goes from 15 percent to 24 percent (including Obamacare). The dividends tax goes from 15 percent to nearly 40 percent, and that’s not including the double tax on corporate profits embodied in dividends and capital gains. The Bush tax cuts for top earners are repealed. There’s the 30 percent Buffett-rule minimum tax on millionaires. The carried-interest tax for private equity, hedge funds, and other investment partnerships goes from 15 to 39.6 percent. The estate tax jumps to 45 percent. Oil and gas companies get hit. And there’s probably more stuff in there I haven’t read yet. (Jimmy P. lays it out nicely.) Paul Ryan’s press release calls it $1.9 trillion tax hike, with $47 trillion in government spending over the next decade and the fourth straight year of trillion-dollar deficits."
Oil and gas companies will lose subsidies, which is the same thing as a tax increase and will make energy more expensive. And if you are going to die and want to pass on your estate or small business relatively intact, it would be better to go sooner rather than later. After an estate is taxed every year for purposes of income (and taxed when the money is first earned), Obama doesn’t believe that is enough. Before it is passed on to your children or spouse, it must be taxed again with nearly half of your life’s work going to the government....
Perhaps the most egregious bit of deceitful and fraudulent budgeting is in the “savings” Obama is claiming from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The administration puts that figure at a nonsensical $850 billion. Even his allies are embarrassed to defend this bit of tripe....
Writing at the AEI blog, James Pethokoukis surveys the wreckage: "All in all, Obama has proposed some $1.6 trillion in new taxes over ten years, taking tax revenue as a share of GDP to 20.1 percent in 2022 vs. a historical average of 18 percent. And despite all those new taxes, Obama’s plan would still add $6.7 trillion in new debt and make no progress in lowering the nation’s total debt levels as a share of output. The debt-to-GDP ratio is predicted to be 74.2 percent this year and 76.5 percent in 2022. At the same time, federal spending would never fall below 22 percent of GDP. Indeed, Obama — if he serves two terms — would be the first U.S. president in history to spend 22.0 percent or more of GDP for eight straight years (and then beyond). And keep in mind that these debt and spending numbers claim about $850 billion in savings from unwinding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, spending about a quarter of those phony 'savings' on highway funding."
Pethokoukis also points out the cynically dishonest projections for economic growth upon which much of the budget is based: 3.4% growth in 2015, 4.1% in 2016, 4.1% inn 2017, and 3.9% in 2018. Pethokoukis notes that the “U.S. economy has only seen a run like that three times in the past four decades. And the Obama Boom is supposed to happen amid rising tax rates, interest rates, and debt? Good luck, Mr. President.”
19 Reporters and Media Executives Join Obama Re-election Effort:
On February 17, 2012, the Washington Examiner reported the following:
... [A] whopping 19 journalists and media executives, including five from the Washington Post and three each from ABC and CNN, [have] gone into the [Obama] administration or center-left groups supporting the president.
Those inside the administration hit 14 this month when the Post’s Stephen Barr joined the Labor Department. That’s a record, say some revolving door watchers, and could even be much higher: The Post reports that “dozens” of former journalists have joined the administration, although Washington Secrets couldn’t verify that tally.
Many are in communications and speech writing offices, most prominently Jay Carney, the president’s spokesman who ran Time’s Washington bureau, and husband to ABC’s Claire Shipman. Some joined as the news business collapsed, many to finally voice their politics, and others, notably former Transportation spokeswoman Jill Zuckman, because she liked her future boss, Secretary Ray LaHood, a rare Republican in the administration. That relationship rocked: LaHood broke through the lower-tier Cabinet P.R. ceiling to become one of the most well-known Transportation secretaries ever. She had worked for the Chicago Tribune....
A former GOP Capitol Hill and cabinet spokesman added, “It’s frustrating to see so many reporters that had relationships with trusted sources give up their ‘impartiality’ and start playing for the other side. It does show that the game is stacked in favor of the other side when most reporters still working in their profession remain silent.”
Obama Aims to Sharply Reduce U.S. Nuclear Arsenal:
After having signed the New START nuclear treaty with Russia, a pact that committed the United States to reducing its arsenal of deployed strategic long-range nuclear weapons from 5,113 to 1,550 by 2018, President Obama further considered reducing America’s deployed nuclear strategic warheads to as few as 300. In February 2012, the White House directed the Defense Department to examine three levels of deployed strategic nuclear warheads: 1,000 to 1,100 warheads; 700 to 800 warheads; and 300 to 400 warheads.
Journalist Frank Crimi offered the following analysis:
Cutting America’s nuclear arsenal to 300 warheads — a level not seen since 1950 — would place the number of US strategic nuclear weapons at a level comparable with France, heightening fears that it would make America’s strategy of nuclear deterrence obsolete.
Yet, even if President Obama ultimately accepts the 1,100 level of strategic nuclear warheads, it would still represent a significant and serious nuclear cutback given that many American military officials claim that the 1,550 level mandated by New START is the lowest level that can be used to maintain deterrence of a nuclear attack.
Moreover, they argue, such a cutback in nuclear weapons would also serve to undermine the credibility of the nuclear “umbrella” that the United States extends to its allies (such as South Korea and Japan). Absent US nuclear protection, those countries may very well feel compelled to build their own nuclear forces. In fact, Saudi Arabia is already planning to initiate its own nuclear program if Iran gets a nuclear bomb.
Unfortunately, the decision to neuter America’s nuclear forces comes at the same time the Obama administration is working to heavily diminish America’s conventional forces, a process begun in January when Obama ordered a shift from the nation’s longstanding capability to fight two major conflicts at once.
That policy shift notwithstanding, the administration’s plan to cut its nuclear forces engendered harsh rebukes, with former UN ambassador John Bolton saying it was by itself “sufficient to vote against Obama in November,” while Republican Senator Jim Inhofe accused Obama of “catering to his liberal base that believes that, if we unilaterally disarm, the rest of the world will follow suit.”
For its part, the Obama administration maintains it is not pursuing unilateral cuts, but it is saying that the different nuclear level proposals being floated represent nuclear arsenal levels that could be negotiated with Russia in a future round of arms-control talks.
However, it doesn’t seem as if the Russians are in any hurry to further pare down their nuclear arsenal more than what has been mandated by New START. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin acknowledged as much when he recently said that Russia should keep its nuclear deterrence potential to ensure its strategic stability, saying, “We should not lead anyone to temptation by our weakness. That is why under no circumstances will we give up the strategic deterrence potential and we will strengthen it.”
To prove Putin’s point, in 2011 alone the Russian government announced plans that it was buying 36 strategic ballistic missiles, two strategic missile submarines, and 20 strategic cruise missiles. Additionally, during that time it reportedly modified its ICBMs and SLBMs (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles) and increased its number of MIRVS (Multiple, Independently Targeted Warheads).
Also, in December 2011 Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) announced that it would begin renovating its Topol-M and Yars RS-24 missile systems and start construction on a new 100-ton ballistic missile to replace the RS-36 Voyevoda ICBM, known as the Satan missile.
Of course, Russia isn’t the only nuclear state seeking to upgrade its nuclear arsenal. A recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) reported that both Pakistan and India “continue to develop new ballistic and cruise missile systems capable of delivering nuclear weapons” as well as “expanding their capacities to produce fissile material for military purposes.”
To that end, Pakistan has reportedly increased its nuclear arsenal from an estimated 90 nuclear warheads in 2009 to 110 nuclear warheads, with reports it can reach 150-200 nuclear warheads within a decade. In July 2011, India received from Russia its the Akula-II class “Nerpa” nuclear attack submarine, equipped with 28 nuclear-capable cruise missiles with a striking range of 3,000 kilometers.
Finally, China is reportedly modernizing every element of its strategic triad for delivering nuclear warheads (submarine-launched ballistic missiles, ground-based ballistic missiles, and weapons launched from big bombers), upgrades which include the production of two new ICBMs, a new ballistic missile submarine, and a new bomber.
In fact, China’s estimated arsenal of 240 nuclear warheads may actually be much greater than believed given that it has built a 5,000 mile network of tunnels that many analysts say conceals the true buildup of its nuclear arsenal, with reports that China may have stashed 1,000 to 3,500 nuclear devices inside the vast underground system....
[T]he president’s proposed 2013 defense budget not only cuts 15 percent from the nuclear modernization program, but it also calls for a two-year delay in the development of a new generation of nuclear carrying ballistic missile submarines.
The necessity of upgrading and modernizing America’s nuclear forces stems directly from the fact that the United States has not built a nuclear warhead in years; has old nuclear delivery systems; and is plagued by an aging and shrinking nuclear workforce.
Since America has not built a nuclear warhead since the Cold War, it has chosen instead to upgrade existing warheads with new technology. As such, those weapons, heavily modified from their original designs, are untested to ensure accuracy. That has led the Defense Science Board (DSB) to report that the United States faces “great dangers in the reliability of the guidance, re-entry systems, and propulsion of its ICBM force.” To make matters worse, America’s nuclear delivery platforms are some of the oldest in the world. For example, the average age of US nuclear delivery platforms is 50 years for the B-52H bomber; 41 years for the Minuteman III; 28 years for the Ohio-class submarine; 21 years for the Trident II D-5 SLBM; and 14 years for the B-2 bomber.
Finally, the nuclear workforce charged with developing, operating, and maintaining America’s nuclear arsenal is shrinking. According to DSB reports an aging workforce has created a “critical skills gap” as the “number of individuals working on the various programs continues to decline and the people with these skill sets are not being replaced.”
As former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates once observed, “to be blunt, there is absolutely no way we can maintain a credible deterrent and reduce the number of weapons in our stockpile without either resorting to testing or pursuing a modernization program.”
Obama Administration Apologizes for Koran Burnings in Afghanistan:
On February 23, 2012, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney offered “severe apologies” to Afghans for the burning of Korans by U.S. soldiers at Bagram Air Base. "One of the reasons that it’s appropriate to express our severe apologies for this incident is the kind of reaction that it could cause that risks putting our men and women in harms way, in further risk than they already are," Carney said. Carney said Afghans had “understandable sensitivities” about the issue and that the apology was therefore “wholly appropriate.”
Obama himself also apologized for the incident in a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. "We will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, including holding accountable those responsible," he said in the letter.
One U.S. military official said that the materials in question carried "extremist inscriptions" on them, and that there was "an appearance that these documents were being used to facilitate extremist communications."
In response to the Koran burnings, violent anti-American protests erupted across Afghanistan. In an e-mail message, the Taliban accused "the invading infidel authorities" of letting "their inhuman soldiers insult our holy book." Urging Afghans to seek revenge "until the doers of such inhumane actions are prosecuted and punished," the e-mail added: "We should attack their military bases, their military convoys, we should kill their soldiers, arrest their invading soldiers, beat them up and give a kind of lesson to them that they never dare to insult the holy Koran."
In retaliation for the burnings, an individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform shot and killed two military personnel believed to be Americans.
Obama Calls Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke to Support Her Congressional Testimony on the Obamacare Mandate that Insurance Companies Cover the Cost of Contraception:
On February 23, 2012, Sandra Fluke, a third-year law student at Georgetown University and an experienced women's-rights activist, testified about Georgetown’s policy on contraception during an unofficial hearing that was led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Fluke argued that birth control should be covered by health insurance at religious institutions. She said that her fellow students at Georgetown, a Jesuit university, pay as much as $1,000 a year for birth control because campus health plans do not include coverage of contraceptives for women. (This was untrue, however. As The Weekly Standard pointed out, a woman "can buy birth control pills for as little as $9 per month at Target." Moreover: "The federal government gives birth control to the poor through Medicaid. The federal government spends an additional $300 million per year to provide it to low-income and uninsured Americans who don’t qualify for Medicaid.")
Miss Fluke's testimony included the following remarks:
On a daily basis, I hear from yet another woman from Georgetown or other schools or who works for a religiously affiliated employer who has suffered financial, emotional, and medical burdens because of this lack of contraceptive coverage....
Without insurance coverage, contraception can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary. Forty percent of female students at Georgetown Law report struggling financially as a result of this policy. One told us of how embarrassed and powerless she felt when she was standing at the pharmacy counter, learning for the first time that contraception wasn’t covered, and had to walk away because she couldn’t afford it. Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception. Just last week, a married female student told me she had to stop using contraception because she couldn’t afford it any
longer. Women employed in low wage jobs without contraceptive coverage face the same choice.
You might respond that contraception is accessible in lots of other ways. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Women’s health clinics provide vital medical services, but as the Guttmacher Institute has documented, clinics are unable to meet the crushing demand for these services. Clinics are closing and women are being forced to go without....
One student told us that she knew birth control wasn’t covered, and she assumed that’s how Georgetown’s insurance handled all of women’s sexual healthcare, so when she was raped, she didn’t go to the doctor even to be examined or tested for sexually transmitted infections because she thought insurance wasn’t going to cover something like that, something that was related to a woman’s reproductive health. As one student put it, “this policy communicates to female students that our school doesn’t understand our needs.” These are not feelings that male fellow students experience. And they’re not burdens that male students must shoulder.
In the media lately, conservative Catholic organizations have been asking: what did we expect when we enrolled at a Catholic school? We can only answer that we expected women to be treated equally, to not have our school create untenable burdens that impede our academic success. We expected that our schools would live up to the Jesuit creed of cura personalis, to care for the whole person, by meeting all of our medical needs. We expected that when we told our universities of the problems this policy created for students, they would help us. We expected that when 94% of students opposed the policy, the university would respect our choices regarding insurance students pay for completely unsubsidized by the university. We did not expect that women would be told in the national media that if we wanted comprehensive insurance that met our needs, not just those of men, we should have gone to school elsewhere, even if that meant a less prestigious university....
After radio host Rush Limbaugh criticized Miss Fluke for her comments, President Obama called the young woman. In an interview with CBS News, Fluke said Mr. Obama thanked her for "helping to amplify the voices of women across the country," and expressed concern "that I was okay." Added Fluke: He expressed his support me, thanked me for helping to amplify the voices of women across the country who are very concerned about the very dangerous bills that we've seen and their support for the contraception policy and how much it means to them. Beyond that, he also just wanted to express concern and make sure that I was okay, which I thought was very kind and I assured him I was."
Obama Uses Air Force Aircrafts for Campaign Events:
In March 2012, The Daily Caller reported:
The U.S. Air Force is pulling nine cargo aircraft from military operations to support President Barack Obama’s stepped-up visits to campaign events.
The five medium-capacity C-130s and four heavyweight C-17s will be used to ferry security vehicles, armored limousines and communications gear into cities ahead of Obama’s campaign appearances.
In the months before November, the president is expected to fly into multiple cities per week, and speak at multiple sites per day. On Mar. 8, for example, the president will fly to Richmond, and then drive over to a Rolls-Royce aircraft-parts factory. That evening, he’ll fly down to Houston, Texas.
His wife, Vice President Joe Biden and many of his cabinet secretaries are using the Air Force’s fleet of VIP aircraft to visit more states as the election season speeds up.
The nine cargo aircraft will begin operations in April, said Maj. Michelle Lai, communications officer for the Air Force’s 89th Airlift Wing. “They’ll stand down in November 2012,” she said.
Government-Subsidized Solar Company Gets $455.7 Million Loan Guarantee from U.S. Government:
On March 18, 2012, The Washington Examiner reported the following:
A heavily subsidized solar company received a U.S. taxpayer loan guarantee to sell solar panels to itself.
First Solar is the company. The subsidy came from the Export-Import Bank, which President Obama and Harry Reid are currently fighting to extend and expand. The underlying issue is how Obama's insistence on green-energy subsidies and export subsidies manifests itself as rank corporate welfare.
Here's the road of subsidies these solar panels followed from Perrysburg, Ohio, to St. Clair, Ontario.
First Solar is an Arizona-based manufacturer of solar panels. In 2010, the Obama administration awarded the company $16.3 million to expand its factory in Ohio -- a subsidy Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland touted in his failed re-election bid that year.
Five weeks before the 2010 election, Strickland announced more than a million dollars in job training grants to First Solar. The Ohio Department of Development also lent First Solar $5 million, and the state's Air Quality Development Authority gave the company an additional $10 million loan.
After First Solar pocketed this $17.3 million in government grants and $15 million in government loans, Ex-Im entered the scene.
In September 2011, Ex-Im approved $455.7 million in loan guarantees to subsidize the sale of solar panels to two solar farms in Canada. That means if the solar farm ever defaults, the taxpayers pick up the tab, ensuring First Solar gets paid.
But the buyer, in this case, was First Solar.
A small corporation called St. Clair Solar owned the solar farm and was the Canadian company buying First Solar's panels. But St. Clair Solar was a wholly owned subsidiary of First Solar. So, basically, First Solar was shipping its own solar panels from Ohio to a solar farm it owned in Canada, and the U.S. taxpayers were subsidizing this "export."
First Solar spokesman Alan Bernheimer defended this maneuver, saying this really was an export, pointing out that First Solar paid sales taxes on the transaction.
But this subsidy undermines the arguments for Ex-Im's existence. Ex-Im, whose authorization expires May 31, is supposed to be a job creator, helping U.S. manufacturers beat foreign manufacturers by having U.S. taxpayers backstop the financing.
"It is critical that we encourage more American companies to compete in the global marketplace," Ex-Im Chairman Fred Hochberg said about the First Solar deal, saying the subsidy "will boost Ohio's economy, create hundreds of local jobs and move us closer to President Obama's goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014."
The implication here is that First Solar was "competing" with foreign solar panel makers in order to sell solar panels -- to First Solar.
This isn't the first time Ex-Im has subsidized companies selling to themselves. In late 2000, for instance, the ill-fated power giant Enron won a $132 million direct-loan package from Ex-Im (that is, from the taxpayers) in order to sell "engineering services & process equipment" to a Venezuelan power company owned 49.25 percent by Enron. Enron was both the buyer and the seller in a 1995 sale to Turkey that Ex-Im financed through a $250 million loan.
Enron's healthy feedings at Ex-Im's trough before its bankruptcy also help poke holes in another Ex-Im defense: that it operates at no cost to taxpayers.
Sure, as long as the foreign buyer pays off the debt, then Ex-Im's loans and guarantees don't increase the deficit. But Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were profitable for years, too, before they failed and taxpayers had to bail them out. Once foreign governments and foreign companies start defaulting, taxpayers pick up the tab. At least one Enron deal resulted in U.S. taxpayers contributing to the Enron bankruptcy fund. Also, Ex-Im has ended up owning a 747 after Air Nauru failed to make its payments because the island nation's economy -- dependent on seagull droppings -- went under.
This week, First Solar unloaded its St. Clair solar farm to NextEra Energy, and so First Solar's financial troubles don't threaten to put the taxpayer on the hook for this deal. But the Ex-Im subsidy itself was a great case in point as to how national industrial policy pitched in the name of helping the U.S. economy often does nothing to help the broader economy, instead helping only those companies lucky -- or politically connected -- enough to get the handouts.
Obama, Reid and most of the Republican leadership want to reauthorize Ex-Im this month and boost the amount of debt it can have outstanding. The lobbyists at Boeing, the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers agree. They'll claim Ex-Im is crucial to prosperity. And for a few companies, it is.
Obama's Misleading Rhetoric about Increased Domestic Oil and Gas Production:
On March 19, 2012, the Institute for Energy Research reported:
"... Although the Obama administration has been eager to report that domestic oil and gas production is rising, government data shows that increases have occurred principally on state and private lands while production from federal lands has decreased significantly....
"[O]il and gas companies choose where to produce, but they can only choose from what’s made available to them. Right now only 3 percent of federal lands are leased for oil and gas production, and crucial areas like ANWR, the Atlantic, Pacific, and Eastern Gulf OCS remain mostly or totally off-limits. These are resource-rich areas, and they certainly aren’t untapped because the market passed the opportunity up.
"Moreover, take the case of Western oil shale deposits, which are estimated to contain up to 5 times the amount of Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves. About 70 percent of known oil shale is on land owned by the federal government, and those sources are said to be the richest deposits – the ones markets would dictate would be the first to be accessed in order to ensure commerciality. In what can best be described as a catch-22 situation, the administration has closed off 75 percent of the small amount of federal land containing oil shale resources that it had intended to offer for lease on the premise that industry hasn’t yet proven that oil shale is economically and technically viable. In this case, the industry didn’t decide not to explore for oil shale—rather, the decision was made for it by [Bureau of Land Management director Bob] Abbey’s agency. Or rather by his boss, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has long opposed attempts to hasten the day when oil shale would replace overseas oil for as long as we will need oil.
"In addition to restrictions on available federal lands, a more lucid explanation for lagging production on federal land came from Abbey himself, who noted that the federal regulations applied to oil and gas development simply make it more expensive than producing on state or private land. Whatever moment of clarity occurred, however, was fleeting—almost in the same breath, Abbey remarked that the administration is currently considering raising onshore production royalty ratesfrom 12.5 percent to the 18.75 percent charged for offshore oil; in fact, the Department of Interior’s upcoming budget depends on an assumed 50 percent increase in royalty rates. He did not explain how adding costs to energy production on lands he already said are more expensive to produce on than private and state lands might assist the President’s promise to the American public that he 'would do everything in my power' to bring gasoline prices down. Generally, more supply assists in lower the pricing mechanism that markets recognize as the 'supply and demand' system.
"With gas prices rising, the President cannot continue to justify restricting federal lands to oil and gas production while deeming drilling a 'bumper sticker solution.' In 2008, when President Bush lifted the executive drilling moratorium that applied to most of the Outer Continental Shelf, the price of oil immediately dropped more than $9 per barrel. Oil is a globally traded commodity, and markets closely follow the decisions of policymakers to determine what future supply will look like.
"If President Obama wanted to signal that the United States is open to production, a good place to start would be to revise his administration’s current five-year offshore drilling proposal. The 2012-2017 plan put forth last November prohibits new offshore drilling and essentially only allows lease sales to occur in areas that were open when 85 percent of the lower 48 OCS was under the moratorium that was lifted in 2008....
"He might also ask his Secretary of Interior and BLM Director Abbey to go back and study what markets are telling them about their dismal record of leasing and production on the 2.46 billion acres of federal mineral estate that is lying fallow and contributing to higher gas prices, even as private and state lands produce all of the increases in supply that are happening in the U.S.
Obama's Lies about His Energy Record:
In early 2012, President Obama asserted that oil production was higher than it had been at any point in the preceding eight years. The statement was technically true, but it failed to explain that oil production was up in spite of the president’s efforts, not because of them. First, the president was taking credit for drilling permits issued by previous administrations. Furthermore, as this government resource chart reveals, the number of oil and gas leases issued on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land declined dramatically from 2,416 in 2008 to 1,308 in 2010. The acreage available for those leases also declined, from 2.6 million acres to 1.3 million acres, over the same period. In 2011, oil and gas production on federal land declined by another 11 and 6 percent, respectively, as well. A non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) report released in March 2012 revealed that 96 percent of the increase in oil production had occurred on land not owned or controlled by the federal government.
With regard to offshore drilling, the president again took credit for an increase his administration had nothing to do with. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s claim regarding an increase in oil production from 450 million barrels in to more than 589 million barrels in 2010, failed to mention that those production numbers were the result of leases issued from 1996-2000 under the Deepwater Royalty Relief Act; it also failed to mention that the Obama administration’s moratorium on oil production in the Gulf of Mexico had caused a 300,000 barrel per day decline in production for 2011, and a projected decline of more than 150 million barrels of oil in 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Obama Tells Russia's Outgoing President that He (Obama) Will Have "More Flexibility" to Make a Missile Defense Deal with Russia after the 2012 Election:
On March 26, 2012, President Obama was caught on a hot mic telling outgoing Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that if given “space,” he would have more flexibility to strike a missile-defense bargain “after my election.”
ABC newsman Jake Tapper reported:
"At the tail end of his 90 minute meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev Monday, President Obama said that he would have 'more flexibility' to deal with controversial issues such as missile defense, but incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to give him 'space.' The exchange was picked up by microphones as reporters were let into the room for remarks by the two leaders."
The exchange went as follows:
President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him [Putin] to give me space.
President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…
President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.
President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.
For video and audio of the exchange, click here.
Obama Deals a Death Blow to the Coal Industry:
In late March 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency released Subpart TTTT of New Source Performance Standards, a proposed rule that would limit carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants. No coal-fired power plant would be able to meet the emission limit (1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of power produced), but natural gas-fired power plants could. If passed, this rule would ensure that no new, modern coal-fired power plants would be built in the United States.
In National Review Online, Kevin D. Williamson made the following observations about this decision by Obama's EPA:
"The Obama administration has done something I would call odd, if odd weren’t the norm in this White House. The administration is worried about global warming. It also is worried about the American economy, particularly manufacturing, and international competition, particularly from China. The administration’s response, as you might expect, has been to enact new regulations that will increase greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide, cripple one U.S. industry and increase costs for practically all others, discourage domestic manufacturing, and subsidize manufacturing abroad, particularly in China. It takes a kind of perverted genius to do that much wrong in one move...
"I refer, of course, to new EPA regulations that will in effect ban the construction of new coal-fired power plants in the United States. And that is not all it will do: Power-plant operators have already said that they will be forced to shut down some 300 facilities producing a total of 42 gigawatts, or nearly 4 percent of the nation’s total generating capacity.
"There are many laws that are not amendable by EPA fiat or by acts of Congress. Among them are the laws of China and the law of supply and demand. This inconvenient fact makes the administration’s move particularly bone-headed.
"What happens is this: With new coal-fired plants off the table, future U.S. demand for coal is reduced. Lowered demand reduces the price. Demand for coal is still very strong in the rest of the world; India and China in particular are full of people who will want to consume more energy and energy-intensive goods as they continue to lift themselves out of poverty, and lower coal prices will encourage and enable them to do so. Energy-intensive industries, such as heavy manufacturing, also will benefit from cheaper coal, unless those businesses have the misfortune of being located in the United States, where they will be denied that benefit.
"Reducing U.S. consumption of coal will not reduce world consumption of coal; it will shift consumption from the United States to other countries — including countries with electricity-generation infrastructure that is relatively old and unsophisticated compared to that of the United States. Coal will be redirected from relatively clean U.S. plants to relatively dirty Asian plants."
Obama Warns Supreme Court Not to Overturn Obamacare:
On April 2, 2012 -- a few days after the Supreme Court had finished hearing testimony on the constitutionality of Obamacare -- President Obama challenged the "unelected" Court not to overturn his health reform law. The President staunchly defended the linchpin of the law -- the so-called individual mandate which required all Americans to purchase health insurance. "Ultimately, I am confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress," Obama said.
Michael W. McConnell, a former federal appellate judge and currently a Hoover Institution senior fellow, offered the following analysis of Obama's remarks:
By all accounts, President Obama’s lawyers did a poor job of defending the constitutionality of his signature health-care-reform law in the Supreme Court last week. So he’s rearguing the case himself. On Monday, he declared that it would be an “unprecedented, extraordinary step” for the court to overturn a law “passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”
This statement is puzzling, to say the least. It is by no means “unprecedented” or “extraordinary” for the court to strike down the act of a democratically elected legislature.
Has the president not heard of Roe v. Wade (1973), where the court invalidated the democratically enacted laws of all 50 states? And even Marbury v. Madison (1803), which struck down a section of the First Judiciary Act?
How about INS v. Chadha (1983), where the court invalidated over 200 statutory provisions, many enacted by overwhelming bipartisan majorities?
Is the president unaware that the court in recent years has declared unconstitutional the Line Item Veto Act (struck down in 1998), major portions of the Sentencing Reform Act (2005), the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1997) and two different attempts at campaign-finance law (in 1976 and 2010) — just to name some of the most prominent?
In two recent cases, US v. Lopez (1995) and US v. Morrison (2000), the court invalidated congressional statutes purportedly passed under authority of the Commerce Clause, on the ground that the statutes were not truly a regulation of interstate commerce — essentially the same rationale involved in the health-care case. Both those decisions were controversial, both were decided by narrow 5-4 majorities, and both can be distinguished from the current case. But they surely count as “precedents.”
And both statutes were passed by stronger majorities than the Affordable Care Act.
No one agrees with the results of all of the court’s constitutional cases, and some of us think the court should show greater deference toward the elected representatives of the people. But the exercise of judicial review is at the heart of our system of constitutionalism.
The high court’s power to invalidate statutes passed by a democratically elected Congress is not a nefarious conservative creation. Many in President Obama’s party called for the court to invalidate President George W. Bush’s Patriot Act, which passed the Senate 98-1. Obama’s own Justice Department is asking the court to invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act, which passed the Senate 85-12 and was signed by his Democratic predecessor, President Bill Clinton.
The courts properly pay little or no attention to whether a challenged law passed by a “strong majority” or a slim one, because this is irrelevant to any legal issue.
But, in the interest of getting the facts straight, the president might have noted that his health-care law barely squeaked through the Congress, on a largely party-line vote. By contrast, many of the statutes the court has struck down passed Congress by lopsided bipartisan majorities.
What is “unprecedented” is for the president of the United States to make political speeches about cases under consideration by the Supreme Court....
"The Worst Economic Recovery in History":
On April 2, 2012, Edward Lazear, a Fellow with the Hoover Institution, posted the following piece in The Wall Street Journal:
How many times have we heard that this was the worst recession since the Great Depression? That may be true—although the double-dip recession of the early 1980s was about comparable. Less publicized is that our current recovery pales in comparison with most other recoveries, including the one following the Great Depression.
The Great Depression started with major economic contractions in 1930, '31, '32 and '33. In the three following years, the economy rebounded strongly with growth rates of 11%, 9% and 13%, respectively.
The current recovery began in the second half of 2009, but economic growth has been weak. Growth in 2010 was 3% and in 2011 it was 1.7%. Who knows what 2012 will bring, but the current growth rate looks to be about 2%, according to the consensus of economists recently polled by Blue Chip Economic Indicators. Sadly, we have never really recovered from the recession. The economy has not even returned to its long-term growth rate and is certainly not making up for lost ground. No doubt, there are favorable economic numbers to be found, but overall we continue to struggle.
During the postwar period up to the current recession (1947-2007), the average annual growth rate for the U.S. was 3.4%. The last three decades have experienced somewhat slower growth than the earlier periods, but even in the period 1977-2007, the average growth rate was 3%. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recovery began in the second half of 2009. Since that time, the economy has grown at 2.4%, below our long-term trend by either measure. At this point, the economy is 12% smaller than it would have been had we stayed on trend growth since 2007.
Worse, the gap is growing over time. Today, the economy is four percentage points further from the trend line than it was [in] the first quarter of 2009 when this administration's nearly $900 billion fiscal stimulus efforts began. If forecasts of around 2% growth turn out to be accurate, we will add to that gap this year.
Contrast this weak growth with the recovery that followed the other large recession of recent decades. In the early 1980s, the economy experienced a double-dip recession, with contractions in both 1980 and '82. But growth rates in the subsequent two years averaged almost 6%. The high growth that persisted throughout the 1980s brought the economy quickly back to the trend line. Unlike the current period, from 1983 on, the economy was in rapid catch-up mode and eventually regained all that had been lost during the early '80s.
Indeed, that was the expectation. As economist Victor Zarnowitz of the University of Chicago argued many years ago, the strength of the recovery is related to the depth of the recession. Big recessions are followed by robust recoveries, presumably because more idle resources are available to be tapped. Unfortunately, the current post-recession period has not followed the pattern.
The 2007-09 recession was induced by a financial crisis and some, most notably economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff (authors of "This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly"), argue that financial crises pose more difficult recovery problems than do policy-induced recessions.
The early '80s recession could be viewed as induced by the Federal Reserve's tight monetary policy (i.e., raising interest rates), which was designed to rein in inflation. Growth returns more rapidly, they argue, when the policy hindering it changes (i.e., the Fed lowers interest rates) than when the economy is struggling after a severe credit crisis like the one we experienced after the 2008 collapse of Bear Stearns.
But some, Stanford economist John Taylor being their leading spokesman, argue that the current recession was caused by Fed policy as well—rates remained too low for too long in the lead up to the subprime mortgage fiasco. The Great Depression also began with a financial crisis but saw high growth rates following contractionary years, and the output lost in negative years was eventually regained through higher subsequent growth.
Are there other factors that may have contributed to the slow recovery that we are experiencing? It would be difficult to argue that government polices over the past three years have enhanced confidence in the U.S. business environment. Threats of higher taxes, the constantly increasing regulatory burden, the failure to pursue an aggressive trade policy that will open markets to U.S. exports, and the enormous increase in government spending all are growth impediments. Policies have focused on short-run changes and gimmicks—recall cash for clunkers and first-time home buyer credits—rather than on creating conditions that are favorable to investment that raise productivity and wages.
There are some positive developments. The labor market is improving, albeit slowly. Profits remain high and the stock market has enjoyed some recent success. We can hope that these indicate better times and higher growth ahead. But unless we move to a set of economic policies that are aimed at growing the economy rather than at promoting social agendas, this may be the first "recovery" in history that fails to see us return to long-term average growth.
Obama Blasts Republicans' Proposed Budget:
On April 3, 2012, President Obama delivered a speech deriding Republican Party's values and a proposed Rupublican budget (proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan). Though that Republican budget called for significant federal spending increases (from $3.6 trillion in 2012 to almost $4.9 trillion in 2022), Obama depicted it as a draconian budget that woud gut many vital programs. Among his comments were the following:
"A debt that has grown over the last decade, primarily as a result of two wars, two massive tax cuts, and an unprecedented financial crisis, will have to be paid down....
"Can we succeed as a country where a shrinking number of people do exceedingly well, while a growing number struggle to get by?...
"This is not just another run-of-the-mill political debate. I've said it's the defining issue of our time, and I believe it. It's why I ran in 2008. It's what my presidency has been about. It's why I'm running again. I believe this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and I can't remember a time when the choice between competing visions of our future has been so unambiguously clear.
"Keep in mind, I have never been somebody who believes that government can or should try to solve every problem. Some of you know my first job in Chicago was working with a group of Catholic churches that often did more good for the people in their communities than any government program could. In those same communities I saw that no education policy, however well crafted, can take the place of a parent's love and attention. ...
"I know that the true engine of job creation in this country is the private sector, not Washington, which is why I've cut taxes for small business owners 17 times over the last three years.
"So I believe deeply that the free market is the greatest force for economic progress in human history. ... But I also share the belief of our first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln -- a belief that, through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves....
"What drags down our entire economy is when there's an ever-widening chasm between the ultra-rich and everybody else.
"In this country, broad-based prosperity has never trickled down from the success of a wealthy few. It has always come from the success of a strong and growing middle class. ...
"And yet, for much of the last century, we have been having the same argument with folks who keep peddling some version of trickle-down economics. They keep telling us that if we'd convert more of our investments in education and research and health care into tax cuts -- especially for the wealthy -- our economy will grow stronger. They keep telling us that if we'd just strip away more regulations, and let businesses pollute more and treat workers and consumers with impunity, that somehow we'd all be better off. We're told that when the wealthy become even wealthier, and corporations are allowed to maximize their profits by whatever means necessary, it's good for America, and that their success will automatically translate into more jobs and prosperity for everybody else. That's the theory.
"Now, the problem for advocates of this theory is that we've tried their approach -- on a massive scale. The results of their experiment are there for all to see. At the beginning of the last decade, the wealthiest Americans received a huge tax cut in 2001 and another huge tax cut in 2003. We were promised that these tax cuts would lead to faster job growth. They did not. The wealthy got wealthier -- we would expect that. The income of the top 1 percent has grown by more than 275 percent over the last few decades, to an average of $1.3 million a year. But prosperity sure didn't trickle down.
"Instead, during the last decade, we had the slowest job growth in half a century. And the typical American family actually saw their incomes fall by about 6 percent, even as the economy was growing.
"It was a period when insurance companies and mortgage lenders and financial institutions didn't have to abide by strong enough regulations, or they found their ways around them. And what was the result? Profits for many of these companies soared. But so did people's health insurance premiums. Patients were routinely denied care, often when they needed it most. Families were enticed, and sometimes just plain tricked, into buying homes they couldn't afford. Huge, reckless bets were made with other people's money on the line. And our entire financial system was nearly destroyed.
"So we tried this theory out. And you would think that after the results of this experiment in trickle-down economics, after the results were made painfully clear, that the proponents of this theory might show some humility, might moderate their views a bit. You'd think they'd say, you know what, maybe some rules and regulations are necessary to protect the economy and prevent people from being taken advantage of by insurance companies or credit card companies or mortgage lenders. Maybe, just maybe, at a time of growing debt and widening inequality, we should hold off on giving the wealthiest Americans another round of big tax cuts. ...
""This new House Republican budget, however, breaks our bipartisan agreement and proposes massive new cuts in annual domestic spending –- exactly the area where we've already cut the most. ...
"The year after next, nearly 10 million college students would see their financial aid cut by an average of more than $1,000 each. There would be 1,600 fewer medical grants, research grants for things like Alzheimer's and cancer and AIDS. There would be 4,000 fewer scientific research grants, eliminating support for 48,000 researchers, students, and teachers. Investments in clean energy technologies that are helping us reduce our dependence on foreign oil would be cut by nearly a fifth.
"If this budget becomes law and the cuts were applied evenly, starting in 2014, over 200,000 children would lose their chance to get an early education in the Head Start program. Two million mothers and young children would be cut from a program that gives them access to healthy food. There would be 4,500 fewer federal grants at the Department of Justice and the FBI to combat violent crime, financial crime, and help secure our borders. Hundreds of national parks would be forced to close for part or all of the year. We wouldn't have the capacity to enforce the laws that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, or the food that we eat.
"Cuts to the FAA would likely result in more flight cancellations, delays, and the complete elimination of air traffic control services in parts of the country. Over time, our weather forecasts would become less accurate because we wouldn't be able to afford to launch new satellites. And that means governors and mayors would have to wait longer to order evacuations in the event of a hurricane. ...
"If this budget became law, by the middle of the century, funding for the kinds of things I just mentioned would have to be cut by about 95 percent. Let me repeat that. Those categories I just mentioned we would have to cut by 95 percent. ...
"They would have to be running these programs in the face of the largest cut to Medicaid that has ever been proposed -- a cut that, according to one nonpartisan group, would take away health care for about 19 million Americans -- 19 million.
"Who are these Americans? Many are someone's grandparents who, without Medicaid, won't be able to afford nursing home care without Medicaid. Many are poor children. Some are middle-class families who have children with autism or Down's Syndrome. Some are kids with disabilities so severe that they require 24-hour care. These are the people who count on Medicaid.
"Then there's Medicare. Because health care costs keep rising and the Baby Boom generation is retiring, Medicare, we all know, is one of the biggest drivers of our long-term deficit. That's a challenge we have to meet by bringing down the cost of health care overall so that seniors and taxpayers can share in the savings.
"But here's the solution proposed by the Republicans in Washington, and embraced by most of their candidates for president: Instead of being enrolled in Medicare when they turn 65, seniors who retire a decade from now would get a voucher that equals the cost of the second cheapest health care plan in their area. If Medicare is more expensive than that private plan, they'll have to pay more if they want to enroll in traditional Medicare. If health care costs rise faster than the amount of the voucher -- as, by the way, they've been doing for decades -- that's too bad. Seniors bear the risk. If the voucher isn't enough to buy a private plan with the specific doctors and care that you need, that's too bad. ...
"Meanwhile, these proposed tax breaks would come on top of more than a trillion dollars in tax giveaways for people making more than $250,000 a year. That's an average of at least $150,000 for every millionaire in this country -- $150,000.
"Let's just step back for a second and look at what $150,000 pays for: A year's worth of prescription drug coverage for a senior citizen. Plus a new school computer lab. Plus a year of medical care for a returning veteran. Plus a medical research grant for a chronic disease. Plus a year's salary for a firefighter or police officer. Plus a tax credit to make a year of college more affordable. Plus a year's worth of financial aid. One hundred fifty thousand dollars could pay for all of these things combined -- investments in education and research that are essential to economic growth that benefits all of us. For $150,000, that would be going to each millionaire and billionaire in this country. This budget says we'd be better off as a country if that's how we spend it.
"This is supposed to be about paying down our deficit? It's laughable. ...
"This congressional Republican budget is something different altogether. It is a Trojan Horse. Disguised as deficit reduction plans, it is really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It is thinly veiled social Darwinism. It is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everybody who's willing to work for it; a place where prosperity doesn't trickle down from the top, but grows outward from the heart of the middle class. And by gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that's built to last -- education and training, research and development, our infrastructure -- it is a prescription for decline. ...
"We also have a much different approach when it comes to taxes -- an approach that says if we're serious about paying down our debt, we can't afford to spend trillions more on tax cuts for folks like me, for wealthy Americans who don't need them and weren't even asking for them, and that the country cannot afford. At a time when the share of national income flowing to the top 1 percent of people in this country has climbed to levels last seen in the 1920s, those same folks are paying taxes at one of the lowest rates in 50 years. As both I and Warren Buffett have pointed out many times now, he's paying a lower tax rate than his secretary. That is not fair. It is not right.
"And the choice is really very simple. If you want to keep these tax rates and deductions in place -- or give even more tax breaks to the wealthy, as the Republicans in Congress propose -- then one of two things happen: Either it means higher deficits, or it means more sacrifice from the middle class. Seniors will have to pay more for Medicare. College students will lose some of their financial aid. Working families who are scraping by will have to do more because the richest Americans are doing less. I repeat what I've said before: That is not class warfare, that is not class envy, that is math. ...
"Simple concept: If you make more than a million dollars a year -- not that you have a million dollars -- if you make more than a million dollars annually, then you should pay at least the same percentage of your income in taxes as middle-class families do. On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year -- like 98 percent of American families do -- then your taxes shouldn't go up. That's the proposal.
"Now, you'll hear some people point out that the Buffett Rule alone won't raise enough revenue to solve our deficit problems. Maybe not, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. And I intend to keep fighting for this kind of balance and fairness until the other side starts listening, because I believe this is what the American people want. I believe this is the best way to pay for the investments we need to grow our economy and strengthen the middle class. And by the way, I believe it's the right thing to do. ..."
Big Tax Hikes on the Horizon for Most Americans:
On April 5, 2012, the Heritage Foundation reported the following:
Brace yourself. In a mere 271 days, you and your fellow Americans will be hit with a tax hike the likes of which this country has never seen. The Washington Post aptly called the unprecedented $494 billion tax hike “Taxmageddon,” and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke described it as a “massive fiscal cliff.” Whatever your preferred imagery, it’s a really big deal.
Despite all the warnings, President Barack Obama has kept his silence while Congress has made no apparent effort to prevent this impending calamity to families and the economy. The prevailing wisdom is that “something will get done” in a lame duck session of Congress after the election. But why wait? And why after the election?
Here’s why you should be worried. For starters, remember that this is the same President who in 2009 promised, “if your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime.” That’s a vow he’s broken, and in 2013, things are going to get even worse if this year Obama doesn’t lead and Congress doesn’t act....
The tax man won’t draw his billions from the American taxpayer with just one big needle — the massive tax increase will be the product of tax policies expiring in seven different categories, on top of five new Obamacare tax hikes taking effect. In a new paper, Taxmageddon: Massive Tax Increase Coming in 2013, Heritage’s Curtis Dubay details the tax hikes that will occur if President Obama and Congress do not act before the end of the year:
Almost 34 percent of the tax increase from Taxmageddon comes from the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts. These cuts are best known for reducing marginal income tax rates, but they also reduced the marriage penalty, increased the Child Tax Credit and the adoption credit, and increased tax breaks for education costs and dependent care costs.
Another 25 percent of Taxmageddon comes from the expiration of the once-temporary payroll tax cut. The expiration of the patch on the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) — which would raise the income threshold over which families qualify for the AMT to prevent middle-income families from paying this tax that is only supposed to impact “the rich” — accounts for 24 percent of the total potential 2013 tax increase.
The balance of the tax hikes comes in part from new taxes under Obamacare, the expiration of tax cuts in the 2009 stimulus, the expiration of a group of policies known as “tax extenders,” changes in the current policy on the death tax (in 2013, it will rise from 35 percent today to 55 percent and the exemption will fall from $5 million to $3.5 million), and the expiration of businesses’ ability to fully expense new capital investments.
This $494 billion in higher taxes will certainly hit families and business hard in 2013, but their effects are already being felt. Dubay explains that Americans must plan for tomorrow, and the tremendous uncertainty about tax policy makes the future much more uncertain, thus discouraging the investments and other actions needed to spur the economy to create jobs faster today.
Another Credit Agency Downgrades U.S. Credit Rating:
On April 7, 2012, the credit rating agency Egan Jones, one of the most important ratings firms in the world, downgraded the United States from AA+ to AA because of its concerns over the sustainability of America's public debt. The firm had previously reduced America from AAA to AA+ in July 2011, just before Standard & Poor's did the same.
"Without some structural changes soon, restoring credit quality will become increasingly difficul," Egan Jones warned. "... [W]ithout some structural changes soon, restoring credit quality will become increasingly difficult." The firm added that there was a 1.2% probability of U.S default in the next 12 months. It also cited the fact that America's total debt, which was equal to its total GDP, was rising and would likely reach 112% of the GDP by 2014.
Obama Administration Gives $1.5 Billion to Egypt, Which Is Now Dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood:
In early April 2012, the Obama administration quietly released $1.5 billion in foreign aid to the new Egyptian government, now dominated by a Muslim Brotherhood-led coalition in parliament — which was soon to be joined by a high-ranking Brotherhood member as president. The administration was aiming to curry favor with Khairat el-Shater, the Brotherhood’s newly announced presidential candidate who would run on the ticket of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party. Andrew McCarthy of National Review Online explains the implications of this:
"The Brotherhood’s actual agenda is to destabilize the United States and destroy Israel ... [and] to smash the Western model and impose sharia economics ...
"Shater is the [Brotherhood's] 'Deputy Guide.' He is a revered figure: jailed by the Mubarak Regime for much of the past two decades and regarded as the 'Iron Man' of the Brotherhood movement. Naturally, the Western press — the folks who package the Brothers as 'moderates,' 'pragmatists,' and even 'secularists' — render Shater as a 'businessman.' But he happens to be the businessman the Brotherhood has tasked to shape its comprehensive strategy for post-Mubarak Egypt. The [Brotherhood] refer to this as 'the Nahda Project' — the Islamic Renaissance.
"It turns out that a year ago in Alexandria, Shater delivered a lengthy, remarkable lecture, 'Features of Nahda: Gains of the Revolution and the Horizons for Developing.' ... Speaking in Arabic to like-minded Islamists rather than credulous Congress critters, Shater was emphatic that the Brotherhood’s fundamental principles and goals never change — only the tactics by which they are pursued. 'You all know that our main and overall mission as Muslim Brothers is to empower God’s religion on earth, to organize our life and the lives of the people on the basis of Islam, to establish the Nahda [i.e., the renaissance] of the Ummah [the notional global Muslim nation] and its civilization on the basis of Islam, and to subjugate people to God on earth.' He went on to reaffirm the time-honored plan of the Brotherhood’s founder, Hassan al-Banna, stressing the need for both personal piety and internal organizational discipline in pursuing the goal of worldwide Islamic hegemony.
"Moreover, even as the [New York] Times portrayed him as America’s salvation from a Salafi-controlled Egypt, Shater was cutting a deal with what the Associated Press described as 'hard-line Salafi scholars and clerics.' In exchange for their support, he promised to form a 'council of clerics' that would review all legislation to ensure that it complies with sharia.
"No one should be remotely surprised. As Samuel Tadros outlines in his essay, the Egyptian Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, has released a 93-page platform that proposes to put every aspect of human life under sharia-compliant state regulation. The document is unmistakably anti-Western and virulently anti-Israeli in its orientation — structuring civil society on the foundation of 'Arab and Islamic unity'; making the 'strengthen[ing] of Arab and Islamic identity' the 'goal of education'; making treaties (including, of course, the Camp David accords, by which the secular, pro-American Sadat regime made peace with Israel) subject to approval by the population (i.e., the same people who just elected Islamists by a landslide); and describ[ing] Israel, “the Zionist entity, [as] an aggressive, expansionist, racist and settler entity.'"
Republicans Sue Obama over Recess Appointments:
On April 18, 2012, Senate Republicans hired Miguel Estrada, who in 2002 had been a judicial nominee for the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, to press a lawsuit against the Obama administration's recent (January 2012) “recess appointment” of political allies to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Republicans pointed out that the Senate had technically been in session at the time of those appointments, notwithstanding the President's contention that there was in fact a recess. When the suit was announced, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said:
“The president’s decision to circumvent the American people by installing his appointees at a powerful federal agency, when the Senate was not in recess, and without obtaining the advice and consent of the Senate, is an unprecedented power grab. We will demonstrate to the court how the president’s unconstitutional actions fundamentally endanger the Congress’s role in providing a check on the excesses of the executive branch.”
Obama Overrides Congress to Fund the Palestinian Authority:
On April 28, 2012, Andrew McCarthy reported:
President Obama has decided to provide $192 million to the Palestinian Authority despite Congress’s freeze on PA funding after its president, Mahmoud Abbas, attempted to declare statehood unilaterally last September, in violation of the PA’s treaty commitments.
Obama’s “waiver” of the restrictions on Congress’s Palestinian Accountability Act was first reported in the foreign press (AFP), which is where Americans generally need to go to get news about what the U.S. administration is up to. A report from the Times of Israel is here....
White House spinmeister Tommy Vietor stated that President Obama made the decision to pour American taxpayer dollars into Palestinian coffers in order to ensure “the continued viability of the moderate PA government.” He added the claim that, as the report puts it, “the PA had fulfilled all its major obligations, such as recognizing Israel’s right to exist, renouncing violence and accepting the Road Map for Peace.”
In the real world, the very immoderate PA has reneged on all its commitments. In addition to violating its obligations by unilaterally declaring statehood, the PA has also agreed to form a unity government with Hamas, a terrorist organization that is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The PA continues to endorse terrorism against Israel as “resistance.” Moreover, the PA most certainly does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. Back in November, for example, Adil Sadeq, a PA official writing in the official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, declared that ... "this state [Israel], based on a fabricated [Zionist] enterprise, never had any shred of a right to exist…"
The Obama Administration's Assault on the Oil and Gas Industries:
In May 2012, the Heritage Foundation published an important piece titled "Is the Obama Administration Campaigning to Injure America’s Oil and Gas Industry?" It read as follows:
If it ever was a secret, it’s not a secret any longer: The Obama Administration is on a vindictive campaign to injure America’s oil and gas industry. The proof materialized last week when video of an Environmental Protection Agency official revealed the White House’s vicious attitude toward the very industries that supply the American people a reliable, affordable energy source. Yesterday, that official fell on his sword and resigned to spare the president any further embarrassment from the truth he disclosed.
Last week, Heritage’s Lachlan Markay reported on a video showing EPA Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz describe his agency’s “philosophy of enforcement” with respect to the regulation of oil and gas companies — likening it to brutal tactics employed by the ancient Roman army to intimidate its foes into submission. With a wry smile, Armendariz detailed the joy with which the EPA inflicts punishment on the disfavored industries:
"It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer the villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere and they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them. And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years." ...
None of this, though, should be a surprise coming from what very well may be the most anti-energy administration in history. For the president and his cadre of bureaucrats, “Big Oil” is the enemy that deserves to be beaten into submission.
Exhibit A: The president’s unremitting crusade to raise taxes on the oil industry by denying it access to tax credits available to other industries. This, of course, is a game of semantics and populist rhetoric. In his appeal to the American people, the president is claiming that oil and gas companies enjoy special loopholes and subsidies that need to be eliminated. In reality, they get the same tax treatment enjoyed by producers of clothing, roads, electricity, water, and many other goods manufactured in the United States. Actually, oil companies receive less of a tax break than those manufacturers. (Oil companies receive a six percent reduction while all other manufacturers receive a nine percent reduction.) Yet the president wants to impose a higher targeted tax hike and take the tax break away completely.
When President Obama lashes out at “Big Oil,” guess who’s going to pay the price? You. First, raising taxes on any company means that the costs will be passed on to consumers. If you’re tired of paying high gas prices, you would pay even more if the president levies new costs on the industry that is supplying your fuel.
Second, when the president talks about “Big Oil,” keep in mind who “Big Oil” is — it could very well be you. Thirty-one percent of U.S. oil and natural gas shares are owned by public or private pension plans. On top of that, individual retirement accounts hold 18 percent of shares, individual investors have 21 percent, and asset management companies including mutual funds account for 21 percent — comprising more than 90 percent of oil and gas stocks in 2011. That means when those companies profit, there’s a good chance you profit. And when those companies suffer, there’s a good chance that you suffer, too.
That doesn’t matter, though, to an Administration that is in an unyielding pursuit of a singular “green” agenda. Billions in taxpayer dollars are spent to fund solar companies that go bankrupt and to give tax credits to wealthy Americans so they can buy a handful of electric vehicles. Meanwhile, the president’s Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, gives himself an “A” for his work in lowering gas prices, despite their reaching all-time highs under his watch. And all the while, the president is saying “NO” to domestic energy exploration, including his decision to block the Keystone XL pipeline.
So when Armendariz spoke of “crucifying” oil and gas companies, it was not a surprise. His crime was saying what the rest of the Obama Administration — including the president — have been thinking and doing all along. Last week, Armendariz apologized and called his comments ”an offensive and inaccurate way to portray our efforts to address potential violations of our nation’s environmental laws.” In fact, though his words were vivid, they were all too accurate. The Obama Administration has an obvious political agenda that is not focused on enforcing rules, but on vindictively assaulting an industry that doesn’t comport with its green agenda — even though Americans depend on oil and gas companies each and every day....
Obama Speaks out in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage:
In early May 2012, President Obama announced, “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” This statement followed similar pronouncements by Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. According to Obama, his own position on the subject was the culmination of an “evolution” away from his previously stated position, which he made clear in 2008 a few days before the election: “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage.” That same year he told Reverend Rick Warren that marriage is a “union between a man and a woman,” adding that it is a “sacred union” with “God in the mix.” Both those statements contradicted what he had told a Chicago gay newspaper in 1996 while running for the Illinois state senate: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriage.”
43 Catholic Organizations Sue the Obama Administration:
On May 21, 2012, Fox News reported the following:
Some of the most influential Catholic institutions in the country filed suit against the Obama administration Monday [May 21] over the so-called contraception mandate, in one of the biggest coordinated legal challenges to the rule to date.
Claiming their "fundamental rights hang in the balance," a total of 43 plaintiffs filed a dozen separate federal lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the requirement. Among the organizations filing were the University of Notre Dame, the Archdiocese of New York and The Catholic University of America.
The groups are objecting to the requirement from the federal health care overhaul that employers provide access to contraceptive care. The Obama administration several months ago softened its position on the mandate, but some religious organizations complained the administration did not go far enough to ensure the rule would not compel them to violate their religious beliefs.
A statement from the University of Notre Dame said the requirement would still call on religious-affiliated groups to "facilitate" coverage "for services that violate the teachings of the Catholic Church."
"The federal mandate requires Notre Dame and similar religious organizations to provide in their insurance plans abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization procedures, which are contrary to Catholic teaching," the statement said.
Obama Calls for Ratification of the Law Of The Sea Treaty:
On May 25, 2012, columnist Michelle Malkin explained the significance of Obama's position on this redistributive initiative (italics added for emphasis):
What's green and blue and grabby all over? President Obama's new pressure campaign for Congress to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST).
The fight over LOST goes back three decades, when it was first rejected by President Ronald Reagan. He warned that "no national interest of the United States could justify handing sovereign control of two-thirds of the Earth's surface over to the Third World." According to top Reagan officials William Clark and Ed Meese, their boss believed the "central, and abiding, defect" was "its effort to promote global government at the expense of sovereign nation states -- and most especially the United States."
The persistent transnationalists who drafted LOST favor creation of a massive United Nations bureaucracy that would draw ocean boundaries, impose environmental regulations and restrict business on the high seas. They've tinkered with the document obsessively since the late '60s, enlisted Presidents Clinton and Bush, and recruited soon-to-depart GOP Sen. Dick Lugar to their crusade. Ignore the mushy save-the-planet rhetoric. Here's the bottom line: Crucial national security decisions about our naval and drilling operations would be subject to the vote of 162 other signatories, including Cuba, China and Russia.
While our sovereignty would be redistributed around the world, most of the funding for the massive LOST regulatory body would come from -- you guessed it! -- the United States. Forbes columnist Larry Bell reports that "as much as 7 percent of U.S. government revenue that is collected from oil and gas companies operating off our coast" would be meted out to "poorer, landlocked countries." This confiscatory act of environmental justice would siphon billions, if not trillions, away from Americans. International royalties would be imposed; an international tribunal would be set up to mediate disputes. There would be no opportunity for court appeals in the U.S....
It is not hyperbole to expose LOST's socialist roots. Meddling Marxist Elisabeth Mann Borgese, the godmother of the global ocean regulatory scheme, made no bones about it: "He who rules the sea," she exulted, "rules the land." LOST is a radical giveaway of American sovereignty in the name of environmental protection. And it should be sunk once and for all.
Obama Announces Plan to Stop Deporting Illegal Aliens Who Came to U.S. as "Young Children":
On January 15, 2012, the Obama administration announced its plan to stop deporting illegal aliens who had been brought to the U.S. as “young children.” Those illegals would now qualify for legal residency and work permits. “Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement. “But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case.” The new policy was expected to affect 2 million to 3 million illegal immigrants.
President Obama stated that his new policy was designed to enact as much of the DREAM Act as possible because Congress had not yet acted on its own. But Congress indeed had acted -- three times in votes that rejected granting the terms that Obama now said he would deal out all by himself.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that over the ensuing 60 days, DHS would begin handing out two-year renewable work permits to illegal youths who had not been convicted of a serious crime, had graduated high school, or had joined the military. According to Napolitano, “It is not immunity, it is not amnesty. It is an exercise of discretion so that these young people are not in the removal system.”
Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King said he planned to sue the Obama administration to halt its effort to “legislate by executive order” rather than legislative approval. Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner called Obama's decision “offensive to the millions of Americans still out of work.” “It rewards law-breaking,” Sensenbrenner said. “And it’s deeply unfair to those who came to this country legally.”
Conservative political commentator Byron York offered this analysis:
"With his announcement that he will, in effect, unilaterally enact a key feature of long-debated immigration reform, President Obama is doing something he has always wished to do: Get around a Congress that doesn't see the issue his way.
"In a speech to La Raza last July, Obama said that on the question of immigration reform, 'some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own.' Obama said he found the idea 'very tempting' but had to reject it because 'that's not how our system works.' ...
"Now, Obama has decided, in the words of an Associated Press report, to 'stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives ...'"
Obama Invokes Executive Privilege Regarding "Fast & Furious" Documents:
(NOTE: For background on the "Fast and Furious" scandal, click here.)
On June 20, 2012, Fox News reported:
House Republicans appear to be charging ahead with a high-drama contempt vote against Eric Holder, after GOP Rep. Darrell Issa said the attorney generally failed to produce the documents he requested for the probe into the Justice Department's botched Fast and Furious operation.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday [June 21]. Barring a last-minute document dump from Holder, lawmakers are poised to vote on a contempt resolution following debate ...
If the vote proceeds, Republicans have more than enough votes on committee to pass the resolution. However, Holder would not be considered to be held in contempt of Congress unless and until the full House approves the measure.
Issa and Holder have been going back and forth since last week over Issa's request for documents. Issa, R-Calif., indicated a willingness to postpone the vote after Holder indicated a willingness to make compromises and supply some documents in response to House Republicans' subpoena.
But Issa told reporters after a roughly 20-minute meeting with Holder Tuesday that the attorney general instead briefed them on the documents in lieu of delivering them....
Congressional investigators have been trying to determine if and when high-level Justice officials knew about problems with the [Fast & Furious] operation....
Holder's letter stated the Justice Department "has offered a serious, good faith proposal to bring this matter to an amicable resolution in the form of a briefing based on documents that the committee could retain."
Issa had demanded to see a trove of documents on the controversial Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operation. He also wants to know who prepared a now-retracted letter from Feb. 4, 2011, in which the department claimed the U.S. did not knowingly help smuggle guns to Mexico ...
Also on June 20, President Obama granted a request by Holder to exert executive privilege over Fast and Furious documents.
A Look at Obama's Tax Plan for 2013:
On June 21, 2012, Forbes magazine published an outstanding analysis titled "President Obama's Perfect Plan For The Economic Decline Of America." It read as follows:
Last week on June 14, President Obama announced his economic plan to finally bring economic recovery and growth to the U.S. in a much ballyhooed address in Cleveland. He threw down the gauntlet to Mitt Romney on the issue, saying “more than anything else, this election presents a choice between two fundamentally different visions of how to create strong sustained growth; how to pay down our long term debt; and most of all, how to generate good, middle-class jobs….”
Truer words have never been spoken by the President. So let’s examine the two fundamentally different visions and see which can produce strong sustained growth, pay down our long term debt, and generate good, middle class jobs.
Under President Obama’s plan, on January 1 of next year the top tax rates of virtually every major federal tax will increase, as already enacted under current law. That is because the tax increases of Obamacare would go into effect, and the Bush tax cuts would expire, which Obama refuses to renew for singles making over $200,000 a year, and couples making over $250,000. The English translation of that target for the tax increases is the nation’s small businesses, job creators and investors.
As a result, with the Bush tax cuts just expiring for these targeted taxpayers, the top 2 income tax rates would jump by nearly 20%, the capital gains tax would soar by nearly 60%, the tax on dividends would nearly triple, the Medicare payroll tax would skyrocket by 62% for the above disfavored taxpayers, and the top death tax rate would rise from the grave to 55%.
That is all on top of the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world at nearly 40%; counting the federal corporate rate of 35% and state corporate rates on average. But under Obama, there is no relief in sight. Instead, Obama is pushing still more tax increases. Under his proposed Buffett rule, the capital gains tax rate would increase by 100%, and would be the fourth highest in the industrialized world. Many OECD countries, in fact, impose no capital gains tax because it is just another layer of taxation on capital income on top of the corporate and individual income taxes. All of this would leave American businesses uncompetitive in the global economy.
How is this going to produce strong sustained growth and generate good middle class jobs? It is going to do just the opposite, as the multiple tax rate increases would only sharply reduce the incentive for productive activities, such as savings, investment, business expansion, business start ups, and job creation. That will simply encourage even more capital flight from the U.S., and a continued capital strike by the capital that remains. All this translates into yet another recession next year, with fewer jobs, rising unemployment, and soaring deficits and debt. This does not signal Obama fighting for the middle class; instead it points to him trashing the economic chances of the very voters whose favor he seeks.
The alternative GOP vision is spelled out in the budget produced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, which was passed by the Republican controlled House, and is supported by Romney. That includes individual tax reform closing loopholes and reducing tax rates to 25% for couples earning over $100,000 per year, and 10% for those making less, and corporate tax reform slashing crony capitalist loopholes and reducing the 35% federal rate to an internationally competitive 25%. And then the aforementioned Obama tax increases would be repealed. CBO has scored these tax reforms as restoring federal revenues to their long term, postwar, historical average from 1948 to 2008 of 18.5% of GDP.
The reduced tax rates under such reform would produce exactly the opposite results of Obama’s tax rate increases, increasing incentives for all of the above productive activities. That would restore traditional American prosperity and job creation as a result.
But in his speech in Cleveland, Obama opposed tax reform that would lower rates and close loopholes. He said it would be a tax increase on the middle class. The problem for Obama is that Ryan’s tax reform plan does not involve any tax increase for the middle class. His plan cuts tax rates for every taxpayer, including those in the middle class. And that has always been the Republican position.
President Reagan cut tax rates across the board for everyone, including the middle class, and expanded the personal exemption, which benefits middle and lower income taxpayers the most. President Bush cut tax rates for everyone, and for lower income workers by a greater proportion than for higher income workers. As a result, by 2007, before President Obama had even entered office, official IRS data showed that the middle 20% of all income earners, the true middle class, paid only 4.7% of all federal income taxes.
What Obama has done throughout his Presidency is the opposite of tax reform. He has expanded the loopholes and increased rates. Those loopholes have included new and expanded welfare tax credits and corporate welfare like his green energy handouts. When his own Simpson-Bowles Commission recommended real tax reform closing loopholes in return for reducing rates, Obama only paid lip service to it, but didn’t lift a finger to advance the proposal.
Problematic for Obama is that higher tax rates with more loopholes reduce economic growth, jobs and prosperity. The higher rates discourage critical job creating, pro-growth investment, and the loopholes distort markets and promote inefficiency and waste, which is a further drag on growth. Tax reform with lower rates and fewer loopholes, by sharp contrast, promotes powerful pro-growth incentives while reducing the inefficient drag of market distorting loopholes. That is why the bipartisan tax reform of 1986 under President Reagan, when America was under adult supervision, was so powerful in fueling the generation long, 25 year, Reagan boom from 1982 to 2007.
A second component of Obama’s plan is a blizzard of increased regulatory costs and barriers. The chief rainmaker here is the EPA, which is imposing through regulation the cap and trade legislation that even an overwhelmingly Democrat Congress refused to pass. That is just brewing up, but will effectively be another tax increase of trillions on the economy through higher electricity, gasoline, and other energy costs. Further EPA regulatory storms are forcing the shutdown of coal fired power plants all across the country, and preventing the construction of new ones, exactly the opposite of China. Interior and other regulatory authorities have set over 90% of available federal onshore and offshore jurisdictions off limits for oil and gas exploration and production. Obama’s regulatory minions have also refused to allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to bring Canadian oil to Gulf refineries.
Another storm front is building through hundreds of new regulations in the pipeline thanks to the Dodd-Frank legislation. Those added costs and barriers threaten the availability of business and consumer credit essential for economic recovery and new jobs. Further storm clouds arise from the Obamacare takeover of the entire health care sector, just starting to increase the costs of health insurance and care. The Obamacare employer mandate is already killing jobs before it even becomes effective, as potential employers know they will be required to buy the most expensive health coverage for each of their employees.
These added regulatory costs are all effective additional tax increases on the economy, adding still further to the prospects for renewed recession by next year. But in his Cleveland speech, Obama just derided the idea of regulatory relief as a Romney GOP policy to “eliminate most regulations.” He characterized such relief as the “promise to roll back regulations on banks and polluters, on insurance companies and oil companies” and decried that, “They’ll roll back regulations designed to protect consumers and workers.”
But the Romney GOP plan is precisely to repeal all of the above costly and unnecessary regulatory burdens through the repeal of Obamacare and Dodd-Frank. These would all amount to further tax cuts, further boosting economic recovery, jobs and growth.
In his Cleveland speech, President Obama continued to propound his fundamental economic theory that what drives economic recovery, jobs and growth is increased government spending. That is why his 2013 budget proposes the highest government spending in world history, following an $800 billion, 27% increase in federal spending from 2008 to 2012, with a proposed 53% increase in annual federal spending from $3.8 trillion today to a record shattering $5.8 trillion by 2022. This President Obama budget proposes a very grand total of $47 trillion in spending over the entire 10 years, another all-time world record.
Is draining all of that money out of the private sector really going to create strong sustained growth, pay down our long term debt, and generate good, middle-class jobs? Or is it going to bring the chaos of Greece and Western Europe to America?
Just as Obama avoids any real tax reform, his budget also fails to propose any significant entitlement reform. As a result, CBO projects that under current policies authored by the Obama budget, federal spending soars to 30% of GDP by 2027, 40% by 2040, 50% by 2060, and 80% by 2080. That compares to the long term, postwar, stable, historical average of 20% of GDP that prevailed for 60 years from 1948 to 2008, under which America prospered as the strongest economy in world history. Obama’s Huge Government spending breakout from that stable, long term level is just the perfect Grecian formula for America, as it would undoubtedly create the same spending, deficit and debt crisis here that we see in Greece and Western Europe more generally.
Maybe that is why Obama’s budget won exactly zero votes on the floor of the House, including from any Democrat, and won the same Big Sombrero on the floor of the Senate. In sharp contrast, Ryan’s budget supported by Romney passed the House with bipartisan support. For all of the yelling and screaming over the Ryan budget, it simply returns federal spending to the long term, postwar historical average of 20% of GDP, within 3 years. It averts entirely the developing deficit and debt crisis by consistently reducing the national debt, until ultimately that debt is paid off entirely. That results from the operation over the years of Ryan’s spending and entitlement reforms to be adopted today, rather than future spending cuts.
But in Cleveland, Obama once again derided such highly desirable federal spending restraint back to the long-term postwar historical average as “strip[ping] down government to national security and a few other basic functions.” Obama claims that under the Ryan budget, “here’s some of what would happen if that cut that they’ve proposed was spread evenly across the budget: 10 million college students would lose an average of $1,000 each in financial aid, 200,000 children would lose the chance to get an early education in the Head Start program. There would be 1,600 fewer medical research grants for things like Alzheimers and cancer and AIDS; 4,000 fewer scientific research grants, eliminating support for 48,000 researchers, students and teachers.”
Of course Obama’s lead in, “if that cut they’ve proposed was spread evenly across the budget,” is the tip off that all of this is fabricated. For the Ryan budget proposes no across the board spending cuts spread evenly across the budget. It focuses on wasteful and unnecessary spending that needs to be cut, and fundamental entitlement reform that solves the long term problem, leadership that Obama fails to provide. Instead Obama demagogues Ryan’s proposals, saying they would “turn Medicare into a voucher program, which will shift more costs to seniors and eventually end the program as we know it.” But Ryan’s Medicare would serve seniors far better than Medicare under Obamacare, which would actually end Medicare as we know it, as I have explained before. Obama further proclaims that Ryan’s proposals “would take away coverage from another 19 million Americans who rely on Medicaid – including millions of nursing home patients, and families with autism and other disabilities.” In truth, Ryan’s Medicaid would be better for the poor and needy than Obama’s Medicaid, as I have also explained in detail elsewhere.
Obama has been President for almost 4 years now, and does not have a good record of producing strong sustained growth, paying down our long term debt, and generating good, middle class jobs. So it should be no surprise that he is proposing for the future the opposite of everything that would produce those results. What Obamanomics has already given us is the worst recovery from any recession since the Great Depression, with the slowest growth and the highest long term unemployment, as I have also discussed elsewhere
That is why the Census Bureau reports real middle class wages and income are declining, with more Americans in poverty today than at any time in the more than 50 years that Census has been tracking poverty. And no, Obama can’t say that is because the recession was so bad, because America’s historical record is the worse the recession the stronger the recovery. Based on that historical record, we should be in the third year of a booming economic recovery by now.
So Obama doesn’t have any credibility on how to produce strong sustained growth, pay down our long term debt, and generate good, middle class jobs. Based on Obama’s economic address in Cleveland, the real question in this election is whether this is still America, or whether it is now Argentina.
Obama Reacts to Supreme Court Ruling on Arizona Immigration Law:
On June 25, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-anticipated ruling on the constitutionality of Arizona’s SB 1070. A New York Times report summarizes the major components of the decision:
The Supreme Court ... delivered a split decision on Arizona’s tough 2010 immigration law, upholding its most hotly debated provision but blocking others on the grounds that they interfered with the federal government’s role in setting immigration policy.
The court unanimously sustained the law’s centerpiece, the one critics have called its “show me your papers” provision, though they left the door open to further challenges. The provision requires state law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest if they have reason to suspect that the individual might be in the country illegally.
The justices parted ways on three other provisions, with the majority rejecting measures that would have subjected illegal immigrants to criminal penalties for activities like seeking work....
Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said, “Arizona may have understandable frustrations with the problems caused by illegal immigration while that process continues, but the state may not pursue policies that undermine federal law.” ...
In upholding the requirement that the police ask to see people’s papers, the court emphasized that state law enforcement officials already possessed the discretion to ask about immigration status. The Arizona law merely makes that inquiry mandatory if the police have reason to suspect a person is an illegal immigrant....
Justices Scalia and Clarence Thomas said they would have sustained all three of the blocked provisions. Justice Alito would have sustained two of them while overturning one that makes it a crime under state law for immigrants to fail to register with the federal government.
The two other provisions blocked by the majority were one making it a crime for illegal immigrants to work or to try [to] find work, and another allowing the police to arrest people without warrants if they have probable cause to believe they have done things that would make them deportable under federal law.
Obama said that he was “pleased” about the parts of the law that were struck down, but expressed his concern that the remaining provision could lead to racial profiling. The president issued the following statement:
"I am pleased that the Supreme Court has struck down key provisions of Arizona's immigration law. What this decision makes unmistakably clear is that Congress must act on comprehensive immigration reform. A patchwork of state laws is not a solution to our broken immigration system -- it's part of the problem.
"At the same time, I remain concerned about the practical impact of the remaining provision of the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally. I agree with the Court that individuals cannot be detained solely to verify their immigration status. No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like. Going forward, we must ensure that Arizona law enforcement officials do not enforce this law in a manner that undermines the civil rights of Americans, as the Court's decision recognizes. Furthermore, we will continue to enforce our immigration laws by focusing on our most important priorities like border security and criminals who endanger our communities, and not, for example, students who earn their education -- which is why the Department of Homeland Security announced earlier this month that it will lift the shadow of deportation from young people who were brought to the United States as children through no fault of their own.
"I will work with anyone in Congress who's willing to make progress on comprehensive immigration reform that addresses our economic needs and security needs, and upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. And in the meantime, we will continue to use every federal resource to protect the safety and civil rights of all Americans, and treat all our people with dignity and respect. We can solve these challenges not in spite of our most cherished values -- but because of them. What makes us American is not a question of what we look like or what our names are. What makes us American is our shared belief in the enduring promise of this country -- and our shared responsibility to leave it more generous and more hopeful than we found it."
Obama Scraps 287(g) Immigration Agreements:
Immediately after the Supreme Cort's ruling on Arizona's SB 1070 immigration law, the Obama administration announced that it was suspending existing agreements with Arizona police over enforcement of federal immigration laws, and that it had issued a directive telling federal authorities to decline many of the calls reporting illegal immigrants that the Homeland Security Department may get from Arizona police. “We will not be issuing detainers on individuals unless they clearly meet our defined priorities,” said one administration official.
Administration officials also said they were ending the seven so-called "287(g)" task force agreements with Arizona law enforcement officials, which proactively had granted some local police the powers to enforce immigration laws. The officials said that the seven agreements which they had signed with various departments in Arizona were not working, and they used the Supreme Court’s ruling as an opportunity to scrap them.
In reaction to the Obama administration's decision to suspend cooperation via the 287(g) task force agreements, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said: “This continued assault on the state of Arizona in regards to illegal immigration has been totally unfortunate. The bottom line is that the feds need to step up and do their job and secure our border so we can work on other issues that are a result of the borders not being secured.” “At every turn,” she said, “we see the federal government putting their finger down on other places … They rescinded the 287(g) for all law enforcement in the state of Arizona immediately after this [Supreme Court] ruling came out. They’re taking away the ability for us to work hand in hand with ICE. So now instead of being able to access the [citizenship] database we’re going to have to call in and go through ICE to verify if somebody’s illegally in the state or not. That’s an assault on Arizona. And it was only rescinded in the State of Arizona.”
CPUSA Backs Obama Reelection:
In June 2012, Marxist John Case, who writes for various Communist Party USA publications, wrote a piece titled “The danger of a Romney election,” which stated that: “Re-electing Obama is not sufficient to bring economic recovery or even relief to our people. Only a different class configuration in political power can do necessary minimum reforms to give us a chance. But re-electing Obama is absolutely essential. Now is not the time for hand washing the complexities and tactics away—or failing to triage the most critical questions from those that are less critical. We cannot win everything at once!”
Obama's Illegitimate Social Security Number:
On July 6, 2012, Jack Cashill issued the following report for WorldNetDaily.com:
If Barack Obama has an immediate eligibility problem, it is more likely to derive from the Social Security Number he has been using for the last 35 years than from his birth certificate.
Ohio private investigator Susan Daniels has seen to that. On Monday, July 2, she filed suit in Geauga County (Ohio) Common Pleas Court demanding that Jon Husted, Ohio secretary of state, remove Obama’s name from the ballot until Obama can prove the validity of his Social Security Number.
Daniels, who has vetted thousands of Social Security Numbers for numerous other clients, has done her homework. In her filing, she thoroughly documents her contention “that Barack Obama has repeatedly, consistently, and with intent misrepresented himself by using a fraudulently obtained Social Security Number.”
To acquire appropriate standing in court, Daniels has gone to the trouble of establishing herself as a valid write-in candidate for president. Before she is through, this 70-something mother of seven, who has been a licensed Ohio PI since 1995, may cause Obama more trouble than the Romney campaign.
Daniels started her investigation in August 2009. Given her profession, she has been able to access a variety of proprietary databases. What she learned without much trouble is that Obama has been using a Social Security Number with the prefix “042″ since 1986.
As she discovered, the “042″ number is reserved for the exclusive use of individuals who register in Connecticut. When she ran 10 sequential numbers before and after Obama’s, all returned with the documentation “issued 1977-1979 in CT.”
When Daniels ran the numbers immediately flanking Obama’s, she came to the firm conviction that Obama’s number was issued in March 1977 in Connecticut.
By all accounts, as Daniels thoroughly documents, Obama was then a 15-year-old living in Hawaii. There is no record of him even visiting Connecticut in or near this time frame.
To have gotten a Social Security card at this time Obama would have had to show up for a “mandatory in-person interview.” This could not have taken place in Connecticut. Obama’s sister, Maya, by contrast, uses a number appropriate for a Hawaiian resident.
Daniels checked other databases as well to validate her findings, including the Massachusetts Department of Motor Vehicles and the IRS. Yes, Obama used the 042 number to get a driver’s license when at Harvard and as recently as on his 2009 income tax return.
In her research, Daniels kept coming across what she calls a “marked anomaly,” one she had never seen before – multiple birthdates listed for the same person. The 08/04/1961 and 04/08/1961 variation made sense, but the frequent appearance of the year “1890″ did not.
The ample evidence Daniels gathered led her to believe that the 042 number Obama has been using “had previously been issued to another person,” one who lived in Connecticut between 1977 and 1979 and who was born in 1890.
This assertion can be verified. By law, the Social Security Administration will have kept on microfilm a copy of the original SS-5 application attached to a particular Social Security Number. Daniels, however, does not have access to that microfilm.
For this reason, Daniels has filed suit. “Defendant Husted, through this filing,” she argues, “has been made aware that the Democratic Candidate has been using a fraudulent Social Security Number, which would render Barack Obama ineligible under both the Ohio and U.S. Constitutions.”
Daniels asks the court, among other things, to issue an injunction against Obama’s name appearing on ballot until it is determined that he is using a proper Social Security Number.
Given the response of courts elsewhere, it is unlikely that Daniels will find satisfaction in Geauga County or from the Republican secretary of state.
What Daniels has done, however, is establish a paper trail so indisputably legitimate that even the most squeamish of conservative media will have a hard time finding fault....
Obama Announces Tax Hike on Top 3 Percent:
On July 9, 2011, President Obama announced that he would extend the Bush tax cuts for another year for people earning $250,000 or less, but allow the tax cuts to expire for those earning more. John Nolte of Breitbart.com explained the implications of that decision:
With the economy threatening to fall into another recession and job growth plummeting, Obama came before the American people today demanding taxes be raised on those making over $250,000 a year, including what he admitted would include 3% of small businesses. Even if that 3% is correct, which is disputed, that 3% means a tax increase on 900,000 small businesses.
That's nearly a million small business owners who will now be even more crippled and have less capital available to expand their payrolls -- which of course means fewer jobs for the middle class and the poor who would like to someday enter the middle class.
Moreover, Obama's announcement today puts him to the left of Nancy Pelosi, who is only proposing raising taxes on those making over $1 million a year.
And who knew this was even possible, but Obama has moved to the left of even himself. In this video you can watch the President emphatically state [in 2011] that raising taxes on anyone, including the wealthy, during a recession is a bad idea: "[W]e have not proposed a tax hike for the wealthy that would take effect in the middle of a recession. Even the proposal that have come out of Congress, which by the way were different than the proposals I put forward, still wouldn't kick in until after the recession was over. So he's absolutely right. The last thing you want to do is to raise taxes in the middle of a recession."
Senate Democrats Block Vote on Obama Tax Plan:
On July 11, 2012, Breitbart.com reported the following:
In a shocking repudiation of President Obama’s “soak the rich” economic plans, Senate Democrats today blocked a vote on President Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on those earning more than $250,000 per year. Senate Republicans had proposed an immediate vote on the measure. In fact, they proposed two votes: one to extend the Bush tax cuts in their totality, the other to raise taxes as per Obama’s plan. “My recommendation is we give the president what he asked for,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The strategy for McConnell and Republicans is simple: they want to show Americans that even Democrats recognize that the Bush tax cuts ought to be extended for all Americans. And Democrats want to avoid that vote, so they can continue posturing and conducting class warfare.
Senate Democrats, afraid of the toxic Obama plan, refused to bring either measure to a vote. ...
A Look at Obama's Devotion to Failed Keynesian Economic Policies:
In On July 12, 2012, Peter Ferrara made the following cogent observations in Forbes magazine:
Keynesian economics is the false vision of human action which says the way to promote economic recovery and renewed growth is through increased government spending, deficits and debt. If that sounds nuts, that’s because it is.
The idea is that the increased government spending and deficits will increase demand in the economy for more production, and that producers will increase supply to meet that demand, hiring more workers and reducing unemployment in the process. Keynesian economics arose in the 1930s in response to the Depression. It never worked then, as the recession of 1929 extended into the decade long Great Depression. And it never worked anywhere it’s been tried since then, in the U.S. or abroad.
By the 1970s, Keynesian policies had produced double digit unemployment, double digit inflation, and double digit interest rates, all at the same time, along with four successive worsening recessions from 1969 to 1982. Keynesian monetary policy involves running up the money supply to increase demand, with artificially lowered interest rates promoting more spending. That is where the inflation came from.
Ronald Reagan explicitly scrapped Keynesian economics for the more modern supply side economics, which holds that economic growth results from incentives meant to boost production. That results from reduced tax rates, which enable producers to keep a higher proportion of what they produce. It results from reduced regulatory costs, which also increases the net reward for increased production. And it results from monetary policies maintaining a strong, stable dollar, without inflation, which assures investors that the value of their investments will not be depreciated by inflation or a falling dollar, or threatened by repeated recessions resulting from policy induced boom/bust cycles, as in the 1970s.
The results of these Reagan supply side policies have been recounted in several prior columns, and in thorough detail in my 2011 book America’s Ticking Bankruptcy Bomb. Inflation was quickly whipped, cut in half by 1982, and in half again by 1983, never to be heard from again until recently. At the same time (which the Washington establishment said was impossible simultaneously), the economy took off on a 25-year economic boom from 1982 to 2007, interrupted by just two, short, shallow recessions, widely recognized in the economic literature, and by the National Bureau of Economic Research, as one long boom. During the first 7 years of that boom alone, the economy grew by almost one-third, the equivalent of adding the entire economy of West Germany, the third largest in the world at the time, to the U.S. economy.
Supply side godfather Art Laffer and Wall Street Journal Chief Financial Writer Steve Moore summarize in their 2008 book, The End of Prosperity,
“We call this period, 1982-2007, the twenty-five year boom – the greatest period of wealth creation in the history of the planet. In 1980, the net worth – assets minus liabilities – of all U.S.households and business…was $25 trillion in today’s dollars. By 2007, …net worth was just shy of $57 trillion. Adjusting for inflation, more wealth was created in America in the twenty-five year boom than in the previous two hundred years.”
Economist Henry Nau added in the Wall Street Journal on January 26, “the U.S. grew by more than 3% per year [in real terms] from 1980 to 2007, and created more than 50 million new jobs, massively expanding a middle class of working women, African-Americans and legal as well as illegal immigrants. Per capita income increased by 65%, and household income went up substantially in all income categories.”
Similarly, Steve Forbes wrote in Forbes magazine in 2008,
“Between the early 1980s and 2007 we lived in an economic Golden Age. Never before have so many people advanced so far economically in so short a period of time as they have during the last 25 years. Until the credit crisis, 70 million people a year [worldwide] were joining the middle class. The U.S. kicked off this long boom with the economic reforms of Ronald Reagan, particularly his enormous income tax cuts. We burst from the economic stagnation of the 1970s into a dynamic, innovative, high tech-oriented economy. Even in recent years the much maligned U.S. did well. Between year-end 2002 and year-end 2007 U.S. growth exceeded the entire size of China’s economy.”
In other words, the growth in the U.S. economy from 2002 to 2007 was the equivalent of adding the entire economy of China to the U.S. economy.
But Obama, who playacts like he was asleep during this whole time, like Rip Van Winkle, tells us it didn’t work. While many voters in 2008 thought they were electing a progressive, forward-looking President, Obama has turned out to be the most regressive, backward looking President in American history, taking us back to the failed, discredited Keynesianism of the 1930s to 1970s, as if nothing at all interesting happened from 1980 to 2007.
Apparently determined to prove once more that Keynesian economics doesn’t work, Obama’s first major act in office was to pursue the unreconstructed Keynesianism of the nearly $1 trillion so-called “stimulus,” which we now know didn’t stimulate anything except government spending, deficits and debt. Obama promised us at the time that if his “stimulus” bill passed, the unemployment rate would never exceed 8%, and would decline to 5.8% by May of this year. But in reality it was 8.2% and rising in May.
Last Friday’s jobs report for June indicated that the most commonly cited U3 unemployment rate remains stuck at 8.2%. That makes 41 straight months of unemployment over 8%, which the Joint Economic Committee of Congress confirms is the worst recovery from a recession since the Great Depression almost 75 years ago. Indeed, the last time before Obama that unemployment was even over 8% was December, 1983, when Reaganomics was bringing it down from the Keynesian fiasco of the 1970s. It didn’t climb back above that level for 25 years, a generation, which is another measure of the spectacular success of Reaganomics.
Moreover, the June unemployment rate was not much, much higher only because over 7.2 million working people have given up even looking for work under President Obama, so they are not even counted as unemployed in the U3 unemployment rate. Counting these workers, who still exist and still do not have jobs, the unemployment rate would be 11%.
Besides the 12.7 million Americans that are counted as unemployed, another 8.2 million are employed part-time for economic reasons. “These individuals were working part-time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job,” the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. Another 2.5 million workers were marginally attached to the labor force, as they “wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months,” but “[t]hey were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the [prior] 4 weeks.”
That leaves the total army of the unemployed and underemployed at 23.4 million Americans. Counting these workers, the BLS reports the U6 unemployment rate as rising to 14.9% in June. If we add in the long term discouraged workers that the BLS does not even count any more, the Shadow Government Statistics website reports the total unemployment rate increasing to 22.8% in June.
The number of unemployed Americans actually rose over the last 3 months by 76,000, 54 months after the recession started, and 3 years after it was supposedly over. Since the Great Depression, and before this last recession, recessions in America have lasted 10 months on average, with the longest previously lasting 16 months.
The unemployment rate for African-Americans rocketed up again last month from 13.6% to 14.4%, quite a jump in one month. Black unemployment has remained at such depression era levels for Obama’s entire Presidency. Hispanics have suffered double digit unemployment throughout Bush’s Presidency as well, at 11% again last month. For teenagers, the rate last month stood at 23.7%. For black teenagers, unemployment jumped last month from 36.5% to 39.3%. For Hispanic teenagers, the unemployment rate rose to 31%.
Friday’s labor report further indicated that the jobs picture has only been worsening under Obamanomics. A million more workers were suffering long term unemployment of 27 weeks or longer in June than at the supposed end of the recession 3 years ago. Moreover, the median length of unemployment had risen to 19.8 weeks in June compared to 17.2 when the recession supposedly ended.
Obama tells us that the 80,000 jobs created last month (25,000 were mere temp jobs) were “a step in the right direction.” That’s one very tiny baby step forward and two steps backward, as the working age population grew by 191,000 in the same month. Moreover, 85,000 went on the disability rolls during the month, fleeing the Obama economy for their only alternative, taxpayer dependency. Another 275,000 applied for disability during the month.
Obama’s chief economic policy advisor Alan Krueger actually boasted last Friday that private sector jobs have grown for “28 straight months for a total of 4.4 million payroll jobs created during that period.” But at the same point during the Reagan recovery, the economy had created 9.5 million new jobs. Moreover, contrary to Krueger’s claim of 4.4 million new jobs created, total jobs today are still half a million less than in January, 2009 when Obama entered office.
Krueger apparently thinks most Americans do not know that job growth is the norm and not the exception for the American economy. In the 62 years from January, 1946, after World War II, until January, 2008, jobs grew in 86% of the months, or 640 out of 744. Reagan’s recovery produced job growth in 81 out of its first 82 months, with 20 million new jobs created in those first 7 years alone, increasing the civilian work force at the time by 20%. Even George W. Bush oversaw 52 consecutive months of job growth, including 8 million new jobs created after his 2003 capital gains and dividends tax rate cuts became effective (which Obama is dedicated to reversing).
Krueger also solemnly told the public, “it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.” But as documented July 6 by Bryan Preston for PJMedia, the Obama Administration has said the exact same thing for each of the last 30 months. Do ya think 2 ½ years might constitute a trend?
Obama’s tragic jobs record reflects the dismal economic growth under his Administration’s throwback, Keynesian economic policies. For all of last year, the economy grew by a paltry real rate of only 1.7%, only about half America’s long term trend. The average so far this year has been no better. That dismal growth is further reflected in the Census Bureau reports of falling real wages under Obama, kicking median family income back over 10 years, with more Americans in poverty today than at any time in the more than 50 years that Census has been tracking poverty.
In sharp contrast, in the second year of Reagan’s recovery, the economy boomed by a real rate of 6.8%, the highest in 50 years. Real per capita disposable income increased by 18% from 1982 to 1989, meaning the American standard of living increased by almost 20% in those first 7 years of the Reagan boom alone. The poverty rate, which had started increasing during the Carter years, declined every year from 1984 to 1989, dropping by one-sixth from its peak.
Obama cannot explain away this disgraceful failure of his Keynesian economic policies by arguing it is because the recession he inherited from Bush was so bad. The American historical experience is that the worse the recession, the stronger the recovery, as the American economy snaps back to its world-leading, long-term, economic growth trend line. Based on this historical record, we should be enjoying the third year of a raging economic recovery boom right now.
This historical experience was reflected by the surging Reagan recovery boom. And it is why Obama was confident enough to tell Matt Lauer and the nation in February, 2009 regarding economic recovery: “If I don’t have that done in three years, then this is going to be a one-term proposition.” We are now well past Obama’s own self-imposed deadline, and still no real recovery. Indeed, because of the severity of the recession, Obama should have been blessed with an even more booming recovery than Reagan.
But the dismal economic performance we have suffered instead, with no real recovery from the steep 2008-2009 recession at all, is the disgraceful failure of the throwback Keynesian policies Obama so foolishly embraced when he should have known better by now. Keynesian economics does not work because if the government borrows a trillion dollars out of the private economy to spend a trillion dollars back into it, at best there is no gain for the economy on net. More likely, it is a net drag on the economy, because the private sector in general will spend the money more efficiently and productively than the public sector, and the greater deficits and debt imply future tax increases, which are also contractionary.
That is why when economists W. Michael Fox and Richard Alm examined 110 years of American history from 1901 to 2011, they found that when government spending rose unemployment rose rather than fell, and that when government spending declined unemployment declined rather than rose, exactly contrary to Keynesian doctrine, as they reported in Investors Business Daily on July 6.
The now once again thoroughly discredited, failed Keynesian economics survives intellectually only because it provides cover to the politicians, and to their leftist media cheerleaders, to do what they want to do, which is spend like spoiled children, and not pay for it. But it is long past time for the rest of us to recognize Keynesian doctrine for the now outright intellectual corruption it is, and to hold the Keynesians personally accountable for it. ...
Ending the Work Requirements for Welfare:
On July 12, 2012, President Obama's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a policy directive purporting to grant states more “flexibility” in implementing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. In reality, the policy change eviscerated the federal work requirements that were the essential ingredient of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act signed into law by president Bill Clinton in 1996 after painstaking, bipartisan efforts achieved through the democratic process.
“President Obama just tore up a basic foundation of the welfare contract,” Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) said in a statement. Jordan also characterized the move as a “blatant violation of the law.” Jordan was referring to a claim by the administration that the traditional TANF work requirements could be waived or overridden by a legal device called the section 1115 waiver authority under the Social Security law. “Therefore, HHS is issuing this information memorandum to notify states of the Secretary’s willingness to exercise her waiver authority under section 1115 of the Social Security Act to allow states to test alternative and innovative strategies, policies, and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families,” the directive states.
Yet the “mandatory work requirements” in TANF were not listed under section 1115. They were contained in section 407 of the law, precisely because Congress wanted to shield them from HHS bureaucrats. One section of the law was waivable under section 1115. That was section 402, which required states to notify the HHS about how they would comply with the other sections of the TANF. As the Heritage Foundation points out, waivers granted under section 402 only applied to the reporting requirements, not the essential parameters of the requirements themselves. The administration reasoned that since work requirements of section 407 were mentioned in section 402, all them could be re-written at will by HHS and/or state bureaucrats.
The directive asserted that alternative plans could “combine learning and work” to fulfill the work requirement, or let “vocational educational training or job search /readiness programs” count as well. In the past, some states had attempted to claim that activities such as hula dancing, attending Weight Watchers, and getting bed rest constituted “work.” Such attempts were shot down by the law as it was written. Under the guise of giving states more flexibility, the Obama administration now took what Bill Clinton himself described in a 2006 New York Times editorial as “welfare legislation shifting the emphasis from dependence to empowerment” and turned it on its ear.
By any reasonable measure, the 1996 law was a smashing success. In 1994, there were 5.1 million families on Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFCDC), the program that preceded TANF. Ten years later, the number had shrunk to 2 million, representing a 60 percent decline. The poverty rate for single women with children fell from 42 percent in 1996, to 34 percent in 2002, marking the first time the number had ever declined below 40 percent. Hunger among children, especially black children, along with the number of welfare caseloads, was cut in half by 2003.
Notably, after the 1996 TANF bill incentivized states to create welfare-to-work programs, numerous states tried to circumvent the legislation by defining as “work” such activities as bed rest, personal care activities, massage, exercise, journaling, motivational reading, smoking cessation, weight loss promotion, participation in parent-teacher meetings, or helping friends or family with household tasks and errands. In 2005, Congress closed that loophole, over the objections of then-Senator Obama.
As journalist Ben Shapiro wrote in July 2012:
"Now, Obama has walked back the 2005 legislation, using his Department of Health and Human Services to unilaterally waive those work requirements.... A high-ranking Republican staffer commented, 'Only someone with a religious faith in government would change the rules such that journaling now qualifies you for welfare assistance.'"
Obama Disparages Entrepreneurs and Praises Government:
On July 13, 2012, Obama made the folllowing remarks about entrepreneurs, and about the importance of government:
"There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)
"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
"The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires."
Ernst & Young Report on Obama's Proposed Tax Hikes:
In July 2012, an Ernst & Young report indicated that the tax hikes proposed by President Obama would have a very negative impact on th U.S. economy. Authors Robert Carroll and Gerald Prante wrote:
The concern over the top individual tax rates has been a focus, in part, because of the prominent role played by flow-through businesses – S corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, and sole proprietorships – in the US economy and the large fraction of flow-through income that is subject to the top two individual income tax rates. These businesses employ 54% of the private sector work force and pay 44% of federal business income taxes. The number of workers employed by large flow-through businesses is also significant: more than 20 million workers are employed by flow-through businesses with more than 100 employees. … This report examines four sets of provisions that will increase the top tax rates:
* The increase in the top two tax rates from 33% to 36% and 35% to 39.6%.
* The reinstatement of the limitation on itemized deductions for high-income taxpayers.
* The taxation of dividends as ordinary income and at a top income tax rate of 39.6% and increase in the top tax rate applied to capital gains to 20%.
* The increase in the 2.9% Medicare tax to 3.8% for high-income taxpayers and the application of the new 3.8 percent tax on investment income including flow-through business income, interest, dividends and capital gains.
With the combination of these tax changes at the beginning of 2013, the top tax rate on ordinary income will rise from 35% in 2012 to 40.9%, the top tax rate on dividends will rise from 15% to 44.7% and the top tax rate on capital gains will rise from 15% to 24.7%.….
This report finds that these higher marginal tax rates result in a smaller economy, fewer jobs, less investment, and lower wages. Specifically, this report finds that the higher tax rates will have significant adverse economic effects in the long-run: lowering output, employment, investment, the capital stock, and real after-tax wages when the resulting revenue is used to finance additional government spending.
Through lower after-tax rewards to work, the higher tax rates on wages reduce work effort and labor force participation. The higher tax rates on capital gains and dividend increase the cost of equity capital, which discourages savings and reduces investment. Capital investment falls, which reduces labor productivity and means lower output and living standards in the long-run.
* Output in the long-run would fall by 1.3%, or $200 billion, in todayâ€Ÿs economy.
* Employment in the long-run would fall by 0.5% or, roughly 710,000 fewer jobs, in today’s economy.
* Capital stock and investment in the long-run would fall by 1.4% and 2.4%, respectively.
*Real after-tax wages would fall by 1.8%, reflecting a decline in workersâ€Ÿ living standards relative to what would have occurred otherwise.
Obama's Failure to Demonstrate Hard Work and Attention to His Job:
On July 28, 2012, Breitbart.com reported the following:
... President Obama has focused on the celebrity aspects of his job and neglected doing much of anything that involved actual work. He's spent plenty of time on the golf course (more than 100 rounds in three and a half years), raising money (163 fundraisers and counting), giving campaign speeches, vacationing, and playing basketball.
Last month, ABC News spelled out the gory details of just how much time President Obama has spent raising money:
In the first 12 days of June, Obama has attended 21 fundraising events. All told, he has now attended 163 re-election fundraisers for his campaign and the Democratic Party – almost double the number George W. Bush attended in his entire first term (86) and more than any other president in history.
But as for the real work of the job, President Obama has been a no-show.
Consider this evidence:
He’s not received an economic briefing in over a year—since April of 2011.
He’s held only three full press conferences since last June.
He’s spent no time whatsoever meeting with members of Congress on budget matters. In fact, in his administration, almost every statutorily required budget submission has been late.
In the last six months, he's not met once with his jobs council.
Obama Sues Ohio over Early-Voting Rights for Military Personnel:
On August 6, 2012, Fox News reported the following:
In a move that puts new meaning to the term battleground, President Obama's re-election campaign and members of some military groups are on a collision course over voting rights in the critical state of Ohio.
The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee have filed a lawsuit to block a new state law allowing men and women in uniform to vote up until the Monday right before an election, while the cutoff on early voting for the rest of the public is three days earlier.
Top Obama campaign officials told Fox News in interviews that the lawsuit in no way tries to restrict the voting rights of military members. All they are trying to do is even the playing field for all voters in Ohio by allowing early voting up until Monday for everyone, including members of the military, because they believe a two-tiered, early-voting process is unfair....
However, the National Guard Association and other military groups have fired back, saying it's "offensive" for Democrats to suggest in the lawsuit it's arbitrary for service members to get special consideration.
Men and women in uniform typically get more time than other voters to send in absentee ballots since they may be serving in an overseas or domestic location that is not close to their home polling station.
"I'm just outraged by this," Mike DeWine, the Republican state attorney general in Ohio, told Fox News. "I can't believe the Obama campaign and the state Democratic Party are actually saying there's no rational basis for a distinction between someone who is in the military voting and someone who is not in the military."
The stakes in this legal battle are huge because Obama is anxious to keep Ohio's 18 electoral votes in the Democratic column this November. He has already visited the state nine times this year alone....
Obama Wants to Bail Out All Failing Industries:
At an August 9, 2012 campaign stop in Pueblo, Colorado, President Obama denounced Republican challenger Mitt Romney for opposing the auto industry bailout that Obama supported. Further, Obama said he would now like to have similar bailouts for every other industry that was battered by the recession:
“When the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse, [with] more than 1 million jobs at stake, Governor Romney said, 'Let's let Detroit go bankrupt. I said, 'I believe in American workers, I believe in this American industry, and now the American auto industry has come roaring back,' and GM is number 1 again. So now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry. I don’t want those jobs taking root in places like China, I want them taking root in places like Pueblo. You know, Governor Romney brags about his private-sector experience, but it was mostly investing in companies, some of which were called 'pioneers of outsourcing.' I don’t want to be a pioneer of outsourcing. I want to insource.”
"An America Where Prosperity Is Shared":
At an August 12, 2012 campaign fundraiser, President Obama said the following:
"My opponent [Mitt Romney] and Congressman [Paul] Ryan and their allies in Congress, they all believe that if we just get rid of more regulations on big corporations and we give more tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, it will lead to jobs and prosperity for everybody else. They have tried to sell us this trickle-down fairy dust before, and guess what? It didn't work.... It's gridlock and stalemates and dysfunction, and it's an idea propagated by the other side that somehow we're going to grow this economy from the top down and that if people at the top are doing really, really well, then everyone else is automatically going to benefit.... Do we go forward toward a new vision of an America in which prosperity is shared, or do we go backward to the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place? I believe we have to go forward."
Permitting Immigration for Welfare-Dependant People:
On August 22, 2012, the Daily Caller reported:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano are mum on why the legal requirements that immigrants and visa applicants not be reliant on government assistance have been watered down, according to some lawmakers.
The deadline for Clinton and Napolitano to respond to a letter regarding admission of immigrants on or likely to be on assistance programs from senior Republicans on the Budget, Judiciary, Finance, and Agriculture Committees came and passed Monday.
On Tuesday Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, blasted the pair for their failure to comply.
“It is unacceptable that Secretary Napolitano and Secretary Clinton have not seen fit to respond our oversight letter,” Sessions said in a statement. “It is a sound principle of immigration law that those who come to our country should be able to take care of themselves financially, yet this legal requirement has effectively been waived. Under their agencies’ guidelines, an able-bodied, working-age immigrant could receive the bulk of his or her income in the form of federal assistance and still not be deemed welfare-reliant.”
The concerns that Sessions, Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley, Finance Committee ranking member Orrin Hatch, and Agriculture Committee ranking member Pat Roberts have is the government’s interpretation of federal regulations prohibiting legal admittance of immigrants “likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.”
As the senators detailed in their letter sent on Aug. 6, immigrants can avail themselves of dozens of welfare programs at the time of their application and after without the government deeming them a dependency risk, or so-called “public charge.”
Food stamps benefits, housing benefits, energy assistance, child care services and many other programs are all inadmissible when determining an immigrant’s risk of public dependency, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s website.
“[G]uidance from your agencies specifically prevents consular and DHS officials from considering the likelihood that an alien will receive SNAP benefits, WIC payments, Medicaid, child-care benefits, foster care, energy assistance, educational assistance, other medical and health benefits, and assistance from at least fifteen different nutritional welfare programs,” the senators wrote in their letter. “This interpretation of the law, along with the actions of the USDA to recruit new immigrants to sign up for SNAP benefits, undermines both congressional intent and sound immigration policy.”
In their initial request, the senators hoped to uncover the justification behind disqualifying a slew of welfare programs from consideration of an immigrant’s public charge risk, the number of visa applicants and applicants for admission denied because of that risk, the number of visa applicants and applicants for admission granted admission despite a dependency risk, the number of immigrants admitted that later became dependent on the government for subsistence (all between 2001-2011), and if the information is unavailable, an explanation as to why it is not tracked.
“More than 100 million people in the U.S., including foreign nationals, are currently receiving some form of federal welfare,” Sessions added. “Yet despite these historic figures, the Administration is aggressively trying to boost the welfare rolls among non-citizens. USDA has even entered into a partnership with the Mexican government to expand enrollment in food stamps and the fourteen other welfare programs administered by that agency. Actions like this threaten the core premise of American immigration.”
According to the senator, there is no reason why these answers are not forthcoming....
Obama administrationlies about deportation statistics:
On August 24, 2012, the Washington Times reported the following:
The Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is charging that the Obama administration has “falsified” deportation records to artificially boost numbers — a move critics of the Homeland Security Department have long suspected.
Rep. Lamar Smith, the Texan who runs the committee, said the Obama administration has for the past several years been mixing some Border Patrol apprehensions with the deportation statistics from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency chiefly responsible for interior enforcement and for deporting aliens.
His investigation found that when the Border Patrol numbers are subtracted, deportations actually have gone down every year since Mr. Obama first took office in 2009, dropping from about 395,000 that year to about 330,000 in 2011.
And 2012 is shaping up to have even fewer deportations once the Border Patrol figures are subtracted, the committee said.
“It is dishonest to count illegal immigrants apprehended by the Border Patrol along the border as ICE removals,” Mr. Smith said. “These ‘removals’ from the Border Patrol program do not subject the illegal immigrant to any penalties or bars for returning to the U.S. This means a single illegal immigrant can show up at the border and be removed numerous times in a single year — and counted each time as a removal.” ...
The Border Patrol and ICE are the two chief immigration law enforcement branches of the federal government.
Border Patrol agents’ jurisdiction runs along the nation’s international boundaries, and many of the illegal immigrants they apprehend are returned — usually straight to Mexico — rather than put in formal removal proceedings. That is called a voluntary return, and it carries none of the penalties associated with formal deportation, which critics say means there is little risk to turning around and trying to re-enter the U.S. illegally again.
ICE, meanwhile, generally handles removals, which are more formal proceedings complete with potential penalties.
Mr. Smith’s committee obtained documents that show 72,000 people caught by the Border Patrol and sent to ICE under the Border Patrol’s Alien Transfer Exit Program are being included in the ICE statistics. Administration officials told the committee they have been including those numbers in their official count since 2011....
Democratic Platform Endorses Taxpayer-Funded Abortions:
On September 4, 2012, The Weekly Standard reported:
The 2012 Democratic party will officially adopt an extreme position on the issue of abortion on Tuesday. According to a copy of the party platform, which was released online just before midnight on Monday, "The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay."
That last part--"regardless of ability to pay"--is an endorsement of taxpayer-funded abortions, a policy that President Obama has personally endorsed. Obama wants Medicaid to pay directly for elective abortions, and Obamacare will allow beneficiaries to use federal subsidies to purchase health care plans that cover elective abortions.
According to a 2009 Quinnipiac poll, 72 percent of voters oppose public funding of abortion and 23 percent support it.
In other words, public funding of abortion--a policy President Obama actively supports--is as unpopular as banning abortion in the case of rape, a policy on which the media have focused much attention over the past two weeks despite the fact that neither presidential candidate supports it.
The 2012 Democratic party also endorses an unrestricted right to abortion-on-demand. According to the platform, on the issue of abortion "there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way."
Pro-Israel language (and reference to God) is removed from the Democratic Party platform:
On September 4, 2012, FreeBeacon.com reported the following:
Several pro-Israel sections of the 2008 Democratic Party platform have been removed from the 2012 platform—on Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, and Hamas. The new platform represents another shift by the Obama Democrats toward the Palestinian position on key issues in the peace process.
For Jerusalem, the new platform has been brought into line with the Obama administration’s policy of not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and supporting its division. Jerusalem is unmentioned in the 2012 document, whereas the 2008 and 2004 Democratic Party platforms declared “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel…It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.” The Obama administration’s refusal to recognize Jerusalem has been a point of significant controversy in recent months.
On the issue of Palestinian refugees, the new document has removed language from the 2004 and 2008 platforms specifying that Palestinian “refugees” should be settled in a future Palestinian state, not in Israel.
The 2004 platform: “The creation of a Palestinian state should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.”
The 2008 platform: The peace process “should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.”
The 2012 platform contains no language on the matter.
Previously, Obama has incorporated the Palestinian positions on Jerusalem and borders into his administration’s policies. It appears that with his party’s new platform, he is also doing so with refugees.
Gone as well is the language from 2008 on the terrorist group Hamas, which currently controls the Gaza Strip. That platform declared, “The United States and its Quartet partners should continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and abides by past agreements.”
The 2012 platform contains no mention of Hamas.
Previous platforms also contained promises to maintain Israel’s “qualitative military edge” in the region. The 2008 platform, for example, spoke of a “commitment which requires us to ensure that Israel retains a qualitative edge for its national security and its right to self-defense.” The 2012 platform mentions only that “[t]he administration has also worked to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region,” with no commitment to doing so in the future.
The Democratic platform also eliminated its previous assertion that: "We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential."
Democrats reinstate mentions of Israel and God in party platform, after public outcry:
On September 5, following much public criticism of the fact that the Democratic Party platform had failed to identify Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and had eliminated any reference to God, Democrats amended the platform to restore the references to Jerusalem and God. Party delegates meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, approved the two amendments after three voice votes and over the objections of many people on the convention floor. The passage of the amendments required a two-thirds majority. But each of the three voice votes seemed to indicate that the two sides were about evenly split, perhaps even that those opposed to the amendments outnumbered those in favor. The lack of a clear two-thirds majority was what caused the Democratic Convention chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, to call for the second and third voice votes. In each instance, it was clear that a two-thirds majority did not exist. Nonetheless, following the third voice vote Villaraigosa announced that the amendments had been passed.
Obama administration refuses to draw "red line" on Iran:
In response to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's announcement that the U.S. would set no deadlines for negotiations with the Iranian government regarding its nuclear ambitions, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the following on September 11, 2011: "The world tells Israel: ‘Wait. There’s still time.’ And I say: ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’ Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel."
Obama says he will not meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu in New York:
On September 11, 2011, the White House announced that President Obama would not be meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the latter's visit to New York later in the month for the UN General Assembly session. According to an official in Jerusalem, Netanyahu's office had sent the White House a message stating that the Prime Minister would be willing to travel to the Washington, DC to meet with Obama, so as to accommodate the President's schedule. However, said the official, the White House had rejected the request and had indicated that Obama's schedule would not allow for a meeting. On the same day Obama indicated that he would not be meeting with Netanyahu, he announced that he would be appearing on the late-night David Letterman Show the following week. At the time, concerns about Iran's nuclear-weapons ambitions were at an all-time high.
Moody's threatens to lower U.S. credit rating:
On September 11, 2012, Moody's Investors Service said that it would probably lower its triple-A rating on U.S. government debt unless congressional leaders could strike a budget deal in the coming months to bring down the country's annual deficit. "If those negotiations lead to specific policies that produce a stabilization and then downward trend in the ratio of federal debt to GDP over the medium term, the rating will likely be affirmed," Moody's said in a press release. "If those negotiations fail to produce such policies, however, Moody's would expect to lower the rating, probably to Aa1." In 2011, Standard & Poor's, one of the other big three ratings firms, had already downgraded the U.S. credit rating. (Moody's Investors Service, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch Ratings are the 3 major rating agencies.)
State Department issues veiled apology to rioters who stormed U.S. Embassy in Egypt:
On September 11, 2012, Islamist protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, where they destroyed the American flag and replaced it with a black Islamist flag that read, "There is one God, Allah, and Mohammad is his prophet." The protesters said they were angry over an obscure Internet film that was critical of the Prophet Muhammad and had been produced in the U.S. In response to the mayhem, the State Department issued a veiled apology to those Muslims whose "religious feelings" had been "hurt":
"The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others."
Muslim rioters storm U.S.consulate in Libya, kill 4 Americans:
Also on September 11, 2012, protesters professing outrage over the obscure anti-Mohammad Internet film that had earlier been used as a pretext for protests in Cairo, attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya with much greater violence. In the process, they killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya, 52-year-old Chris Stevens, and three of his State Department colleagues. Two days later, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued the following statement:
I want to say a few words about the events unfolding in the world today. We are closely watching what is happening in Yemen and elsewhere, and we certainly hope and expect that there will be steps taken to avoid violence and prevent the escalation of protests into violence.
I also want to take a moment to address the video circulating on the Internet that has led to these protests in a number of countries. Let me state very clearly -- and I hope it is obvious -- that the United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message. America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. And as you know, we are home to people of all religions, many of whom came to this country seeking the right to exercise their own religion, including, of course, millions of Muslims. And we have the greatest respect for people of faith.
To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage. But as I said yesterday, there is no justification, none at all, for responding to this video with violence. We condemn the violence that has resulted in the strongest terms, and we greatly appreciate that many Muslims in the United States and around the world have spoken out on this issue.
Violence, we believe, has no place in religion and is no way to honor religion. Islam, like other religions, respects the fundamental dignity of human beings, and it is a violation of that fundamental dignity to wage attacks on innocents. As long as there are those who are willing to shed blood and take innocent life in the name of religion, the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace. It is especially wrong for violence to be directed against diplomatic missions. These are places whose very purpose is peaceful: to promote better understanding across countries and cultures. All governments have a responsibility to protect those spaces and people, because to attack an embassy is to attack the idea that we can work together to build understanding and a better future.
Now, I know it is hard for some people to understand why the United States cannot or does not just prevent these kinds of reprehensible videos from ever seeing the light of day. Now, I would note that in today’s world with today’s technologies, that is impossible. But even if it were possible, our country does have a long tradition of free expression, which is enshrined in our Constitution and our law, and we do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views no matter how distasteful they may be.
There are, of course, different views around the world about the outer limits of free speech and free expression, but there should be no debate about the simple proposition that violence in response to speech is not acceptable. We all, whether we are leaders in government, leaders in civil society or religious leaders, must draw the line at violence. And any responsible leader should be standing up now and drawing that line.
New information surfaces regarding Libya attack:
On September 14, 2012, The Independent reported:
The killings of the US ambassador to Libya and three of his staff were likely to have been the result of a serious and continuing security breach, The Independent can reveal....
The US administration is now facing a crisis in Libya. Sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi and the supposedly secret location of the "safe house" in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under sustained mortar attack. Other such refuges across the country are no longer deemed "safe."
Some of the missing papers from the consulate are said to list names of Libyans who are working with Americans, putting them potentially at risk from extremist groups, while some of the other documents are said to relate to oil contracts.
According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and "lockdown," under which movement is severely restricted.
Federal Reserve announces it will buy hundreds of billions in bonds under new "stimulus" program:
A September 14, 2012 Reuters report said the following:
The Federal Reserve will buy a total of $600 billion of bonds under its new stimulus program announced Thursday [September 13], known as QE3, and will look for a U.S. unemployment rate of 7 percent before it halts the program, according to the median of forecasts from a Reuters poll on Friday.
Forecasts from 52 economists for the ultimate size of the program ranged from $250 billion to $2 trillion, the poll found.
The Fed said on Thursday it was launching a new program of buying $40 billion a month of mortgage-backed securities bonds that would be open ended as it sought to "improve substantially" the outlook for the labor market.
The move, leaving the program open-ended until the jobs market improves, was a "revolutionary shift in the Fed's policy reaction function," said Michael Gregory, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto. He added that there is "much more (quantitative) easing to come."
Within the poll, the median of forecasts from 13 primary dealers -- the large Wall Street institutions that do business directly with the Fed -- was for a total QE3 size of $750 billion.
In two prior rounds of quantitative easing, the Fed bought $2.3 trillion in mortgage and government debt in a bid to push down borrowing costs.
Egan-Jones lowers U.S. Credit Rating:
On September 14, 2012, Egan-Jones, an independent credit-research firm (one of 10 firms the Securities and Exchange Commission recognizes as a rating organization), downgraded its rating on U.S. government debt from AA to AA-, stating that the Federal Reserve's plans to try to stimulate the economy by purchasing mortgage bonds would weaken the value of the dollar and push up prices for oil and other commodities, leaving less for consumers to spend on other things. Further, Egan-Jones warned that the federal government's borrowing costs are likely to slowly rise as the global economy recovers.
Previously, Egan-Jones had lowered the U.S. credit rating from the top AAA standard to AA+ in July 2011. And in April 2012, Egan-Jones again lowered its rating, from AA+ to AA.
Israeli Foreign Ministry officials say U.S. ignored Arab radicalization:
On September 16, 2012, the Israeli website Haaretz.com published this important and devastating article:
For months before the most recent attacks on U.S. embassies in North African states, Foreign Ministry and U.S. State Department officials had been arguing over developments in these countries. Senior figures in Jerusalem claimed that Washington was burying its head in the sand and ignoring the increasing radicalization in states such as Tunisia and Egypt.
The Obama administration, which since the beginning of the Arab Spring has aided, directly or indirectly, the forces that brought down the dictatorial regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Lybia, now finds itself in a position of helplessness. The attack on the consulate in Benghazi, in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was killed, and the storming of the U.S. embassies in Tunis, Sanaa and Cairo, proved the great hostility to the United States and the unwillingness of these country's new leaders to challenge domestic public opinion.
Senior Foreign Ministry officials say their conversations with their Washington counterparts have focused on what Jerusalem terms "radicalizing trends" against not only Israel but also against the United States and the West in general.
One of the most recent such meetings took place a week ago, during a visit to Jerusalem by the acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, A. Elizabeth Jones.
"The Americans were constantly trying to supply explanations and excuses for events in the post-revolution Arab states, and simply ignored the problems," one senior Israeli official said, adding, "In practice the administration's ability to affect events in the Arab world has decreased immensely."
The Foreign Ministry official presented the example of Tunisia, which was expected to be moderate despite the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood. Several weeks ago Israel's ambassador to Poland, Zvi Rav-Ner, reported that the Tunisian ambassador to Poland had been called back to Tunisia unexpectedly, ending her posting there. Rav-Ner added that all five women serving as ambassadors of Tunisia in various countries had been recalled at around the same time.
The Israel embassy in Washington was instructed to report the matter to the State Department and determine whether it was aware of the development. Several days late[r] U.S. officials reported that the measure was technical only, involving the replacement of all ambassadors from the previous regime, and had nothing to do with gender discrimination.
The Foreign Ministry conducted its own examination and determined that many male ambassadors from the previous regime had not been recalled. "We knew what was happening, but the Americans preferred to find excuses," said the senior official.
A similar pattern emerged as to Israeli efforts to prevent a clause being added to the new Tunisian constitution outlawing normalization or contacts with Israel. The Foreign Ministry asked the United States to intervene, but was not satisfied by the response. "They told us, 'Don't worry, it's going to be all right, the clause will be left out,' but the clause is still in there," the official said.
Israel has also called American attention to the fact that for the past year Egypt has been dragging its feet over talks on reopening the Israeli embassy in Cairo. U.S. appeals have failed to speed things up.
Senior Foreign Ministry officials said the latest riots at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, and the weak condemnation of President Mohammad Morsi, demonstrated that despite its massive military and economic aid to Egypt the United States had failed to achieve any real influence over the Muslim Brotherhood. "Only now, after what happened to their embassies, the Americans are beginning to understand the situation," the senior official concluded, "to hear the president of the United States declared that Egypt isn't an ally, but also isn't the enemy -- that's a real earthquake," he said.
Jonathan Lis adds: In related news, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has launched a new public relations offensive in the United States. He has recorded interviews that will be broadcast today on important Sunday-morning political shows on CNN and NBC, all in an effort to persuade the American public that setting "red lines" for Iran will cool Tehran's enthusiasm for its nuclear program and reduce the likelihood of a wider military confrontation. Netanyahu is expected to point to the violent demonstrations at U.S. embassies around the world and to say, "Think what would happen if these people had nuclear weapons."
Assistant Attorney General Perez refuses to answer question about whether DOJ might ever criminalize speech against any particular religion:
In early August 2012, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division was asked, by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), a member of the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution: "Will you tell us here today that this Administration's Department of Justice will never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion?" Perez refused to answer, four separate times. Breitbart.com provided some context for this:
Last October, at George Washington University, there was a meeting between DOJ officials, including Perez, and Islamist advocates against free speech. Representatives from the Islamist side included Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). The ISNA was an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding trial in 2008, as well as functioning as a Muslim Brotherhood Front. The leader of the Islamist attack was Sahar Aziz, an Egyptian-born American lawyer and Fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a Muslim advocacy group based in Michigan. At the meeting, the Islamists lobbied for: cutbacks in U.S. anti-terror training; limits on the power of terrorism investigators; changes in agent training manuals; [and] a legal declaration that criticism of Islam in the United States should be considered racial discrimination.
Aziz said that the word “Muslim” has become “racialized” and, once American criticism of Islam was silenced, the effect would be to "take [federal] money away from local police departments and fusion centers who are spying on all of us.”
And what was the response from Perez and the DOJ officials? Nothing. That’s right: no objection, no defense of our first amendment right to free speech.
Obama USDA offering women, Hispanic farmers over $1.3 billion in discrimination payouts:
On September 24, 2012, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who believed the USDA discriminated against them between 1981 and 2000, could file claims to get a portion of at least $1.33 billion in cash awards and tax relief payments, and up to $160 million in farm debt relief. Said Vilsack:
“Hispanic and women farmers who believe they have faced discriminatory practices from the USDA must file a claim by March 25, 2013 in order to have a chance to receive a cash payment or loan forgiveness. The opening of this claims process is part of USDA’s ongoing efforts to correct the wrongs of the past and ensure fair treatment to all current and future customers.”
This marked the third time that the Obama administration had offered settlements to various interest groups. In remarks he had made in 2011, Vilsack made reference to the other two groups:
“When I was sworn in as secretary of Agriculture two years ago, President [Barack] Obama and I made a commitment to mend USDA’s troubled civil rights record. Since then, we have taken comprehensive action to turn the page on past discrimination. Last year we entered into a settlement with black farmers in Pigford II to address pending claims, and finalized a historic settlement agreement with Native American farmers under Keepseagle that faced discrimination by USDA.”
As the Daily Caller explains:
The $1.25 billion Pigford II settlement — which covered black farmers who charged that the USDA had discriminated against them when applying for loans from 1981 to 1996 but missed the filing deadline in the original 1999 Pigford settlement (named for the lead plaintiff, Timothy Pigford, in a class action lawsuit against the government) — made headlines in 2011 for the allegations of fraud in the program.
The Keepseagle settlement made $760 million available to Native American farmers and ranchers who believe they did not receive the same farm loan opportunities as whites between 1981 and 1999.
The USDA said it would use mail, media, and community advocacy groups to ensure that those eligible would be made aware of the claims process.
Healthcare Costs skyrocket under Obamacare:
On September 24, 2012, Investor's Business Daily reported the following:
During his first run for president, Barack Obama made one very specific promise to voters: He would cut health insurance premiums for families by $2,500, and do so in his first term. But it turns out that family premiums have increased by more than $3,000 since Obama's vow, according to the latest annual Kaiser Family Foundation employee health benefits survey. Premiums for employer-provided family coverage rose $3,065 — 24% — from 2008 to 2012, the Kaiser survey found. Even if you start counting in 2009, premiums have climbed $2,370.
What's more, premiums climbed faster in Obama's four years than they did in the previous four under President Bush, the survey data show.
There's no question about what Obama was promising the country, since he repeated it constantly during his 2008 campaign. In a debate with Sen. John McCain, for example, Obama said "the only thing we're going to try to do is lower costs so that those cost savings are passed onto you. And we estimate we can cut the average family's premium by about $2,500 per year."
At a campaign stop in Columbus, Ohio, in February 2008, Obama promised that "We are going to work with you to lower your premiums by $2,500. We will not wait 20 years from now to do it, or 10 years from now to do it. We will do it by the end of my first term as president."
To back that up, Obama pointed to a memo drafted by Harvard professors (and unpaid campaign advisers), which claimed that investing in health care IT, cutting administrative bloat, and improving management of chronic diseases would cut health costs by $140 billion a year. That would translate into $2,500 in premium savings for families.
But those projections were wildly optimistic, overestimating potential savings from IT, making big assumptions about disease management, and ignoring the fact that past government interventions have always increased health care administrative costs.
Meanwhile, the health reform law Obama signed in March 2010 has pushed up insurance costs. In 2011, premiums spiked 9.5%, and many in the industry blame ObamaCare for at least part of it. Premiums climbed another 4.5% in 2012, Kaiser found.
And ObamaCare will continue to fuel health premium inflation.
First, the law piles on new coverage mandates. It requires insurance companies to provide 100% coverage for various types of preventive care, bans lifetime coverage limits, extends parents' coverage to offspring up to 26 years old, and requires plans to meet certain "medical loss ratios." Coming up are rules on "essential standard benefits," limits on deductibles, bans on annual spending caps, and much more.
The experience with state mandates show that they only tend to grow over time, and get more expensive. The Council for Affordable Health Insurance found more than 2,200 state benefit mandates, which add from 10% to 50% to the cost of coverage. "One of the biggest cost drivers in our health care system is the steady proliferation of federal and state-based coverage mandates," noted CAHI's Victoria Craig Bunce.
Meanwhile, ObamaCare's insurance reforms — guaranteed issue and community rating — will likely raise premiums, too. States that have tried these reforms — which forbid insurers from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions or charging the sick more — have seen insurance premiums spiral upward as healthy people leave the market, knowing they are guaranteed coverage when they get sick. "Premium rates tended to increase, sometimes dramatically" in the eight states that tried these reforms, according to a study by Milliman, a health care consulting group.
The law's backers claim the individual mandate will prevent these rate hikes, because it requires everyone to buy insurance. But experts say millions will still refuse to buy coverage and pay the fine instead.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Gruber — who helped design ObamaCare — found that the law will hike individual market premiums in three states by as much as 30%. The Congressional Budget Office said ObamaCare would push them "about 10% to 13% higher in 2016." ...
Perhaps the best evidence that ObamaCare won't bring costs down is a report published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine and signed by nearly two dozen leading health economists and policy experts — some of whom worked for the Obama administration. The report warns that "health costs remain a major challenge" and calls for a "systematic approach" to get spending under control.
Terrorists Attack the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi, Libya:
On the night of September 11, 2012, the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya was attacked by a large group of heavily armed Islamic terrorists. Over the ensuing 7 hours, Americans stationed at the mission and at the nearby CIA annex issued 3 urgent requests for military back-up, all of which were denied by the Obama administration. By the time the violence was over, 4 Americans were dead: Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and two former Navy SEALS, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, who fought valiantly (but unsuccessfully) to drive away the attackers.
In the wake of the violence, the Obama administration immediately and persistently characterized what had occurred in Benghazi not as an act of terrorism, but as a spontaneous, unplanned uprising that just happened, coincidentally, to take place on the anniversary of 9/11. Moreover, the administration portrayed the attack as an event that had evolved from what began as a low-level protest against an obscure YouTube video that disparaged Muslims and their faith. In reality, however, by this time U.S. intelligence agencies had already gained more than enough evidence to conclude unequivocally that the attack on the mission in Benghazi was a planned terrorist incident, not a spontaneous act carried out in reaction to a video. Indeed, the video had nothing whatsoever to do with the attack.
For a detailed account of the key events that occurred before, during, and after this attack -- as well as an analysis of the Obama administration's response to the attack -- click here.
Obama Expresses Strong Support for Sequestration:
In the third presidential debate in October 2012, President Obama stated: "First of all, the sequester is not something that I've proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen."
The next morning, in an off-the-record interview with the editors of the Des Moines Register, Obama reversed course and took credit for sequestration cuts that he anticipated would eventually be "in place.":
"So when you combine the Bush tax cuts expiring, the sequester in place, the commitment of both myself and my opponent -- at least Governor Romney claims that he wants to reduce the deficit -- but we’re going to be in a position where I believe in the first six months we are going to solve that big piece of business."
Explanation and Background on the Sequestration Cuts:
The Washington Post explains:
[Sequester is] a package of automatic spending cuts that’s part of the Budget Control Act (BCA), which was passed in August 2011. The cuts, which are projected to total $1.2 trillion, are scheduled to begin in 2013 and end in 2021, evenly divided over the nine-year period. The cuts are also evenly split between defense spending — with spending on wars exempt — and discretionary domestic spending, which exempts most spending on entitlements like Social Security and Medicaid, as the Bipartisan Policy Center explains....
Under the BCA, the cuts were triggered to take effect beginning Jan. 1 if the supercommittee didn’t to agree to a $1.2 trillion deficit-reduction package by Nov. 23, 2011. The group failed to reach a deal, so the sequester was triggered....
Why did Congress and the White House agree to the sequester in the first place?
The government was approaching its debt limit, which needed to be raised through a congressional vote or else the country would default in early August 2011. While Democrats were in favor of a “clean” vote without strings attached, Republicans were demanding substantial cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit.
President Obama and congressional leaders ultimately agreed to the BCA, which would allow the debt ceiling to be raised by $2.1 trillion in exchange for the establishment of the supercommittee tied to the fall-back sequester, as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities explains. The deal also includes mandatory spending reductions on top of the sequester by putting caps on non-entitlement discretionary spending that will reduce funding by $1 trillion by 2021.
Who supported the debt-ceiling deal?
Party leaders, the White House and most members of Congress supported the debt-ceiling deal: The BCA passed on a 268-161 vote in the House, with about one-third of House Republicans and half of House Democrats opposing it. It passed in the Senate, 74-26, with six Democratic senators and 19 Republican senators opposing it.
Obama Mocks Romney's Concerns about Russia
According to Breitbart.com:
During the third presidential debate on October 22, 2012, President Obama mocked Republican candidate Mitt Romney for saying that Russia was America’s number one geopolitical threat. “A few months ago when you were asked, what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia — not al-Qaida, you said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War's been over for 20 years,” Obama said to Romney.
Obama limits oil shale exploration:
On November 9, 2012 -- three days after Obama's reelection as president -- the administration's Interior Department on Friday issued a final plan to close 1.6 million acres of federal land in the West originally slated (by the Bush administration) for oil shale development. Interior’s Bureau of Land Management cited environmental concerns for the proposed changes. For example, it excised lands with “wilderness characteristics” and areas that conflicted with sage grouse habitats.
The plan left 677,000 acres in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming open for oil shale exploration, and called for another 130,000 acres in Utah to be set aside for tar sands production.
According to The Hill: "Oil shale development is not to be confused with drilling into shale formations for oil and natural gas. The practice, which involves separating hydrocarbons bound up in rocks, has not been widely executed since Exxon's failed Colorado venture in the 1980s."
Census Bureau Issues Fake Jobs Report Just Prior to Election:
In October 2012, shortly before the November presidential and congressional elections, the Census Bureau reported a sudden, sharp drop in the U.S. unemployment rate. Journalist John Crudele discovered and revealed this information in a November 2013 newspaper column. Wrote Crudele:
In the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, from August to September, the unemployment rate fell sharply — raising eyebrows from Wall Street to Washington.
The decline — from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September — might not have been all it seemed. The numbers, according to a reliable source, were manipulated.
And the Census Bureau, which does the unemployment survey, knew it.
Just two years before the presidential election, the Census Bureau had caught an employee fabricating data that went into the unemployment report, which is one of the most closely watched measures of the economy.
And a knowledgeable source says the deception went beyond that one employee — that it escalated at the time President Obama was seeking reelection in 2012 and continues today.
“He’s not the only one,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous for now but is willing to talk with the Labor Department and Congress if asked.
The Census employee caught faking the results is Julius Buckmon, according to confidential Census documents obtained by The Post. Buckmon told me in an interview this past weekend that he was told to make up information by higher-ups at Census.
Ironically, it was Labor’s demanding standards that left the door open to manipulation.
Labor requires Census to achieve a 90 percent success rate on its interviews — meaning it needed to reach 9 out of 10 households targeted and report back on their jobs status.
Census currently has six regions from which surveys are conducted. The New York and Philadelphia regions, I’m told, had been coming up short of the 90 percent.
Philadelphia filled the gap with fake interviews.
“It was a phone conversation — I forget the exact words — but it was, ‘Go ahead and fabricate it’ to make it what it was,” Buckmon told me.
Census, under contract from the Labor Department, conducts the household survey used to tabulate the unemployment rate.
Interviews with some 60,000 household go into each month’s jobless number, which currently stands at 7.3 percent. Since this is considered a scientific poll, each one of the households interviewed represents 5,000 homes in the US.
Buckmon, it turns out, was a very ambitious employee. He conducted three times as many household interviews as his peers, my source said.
By making up survey results — and, essentially, creating people out of thin air and giving them jobs — Buckmon’s actions could have lowered the jobless rate.
Buckmon said he filled out surveys for people he couldn’t reach by phone or who didn’t answer their doors.
But, Buckmon says, he was never told how to answer the questions about whether these nonexistent people were employed or not, looking for work, or have given up.
But people who know how the survey works say that simply by creating people and filling out surveys in their name would boost the number of folks reported as employed.
Census never publicly disclosed the falsification. Nor did it inform Labor that its data was tainted.
“Yes, absolutely they should have told us,” said a Labor spokesman. “It would be normal procedure to notify us if there is a problem with data collection.”
Census appears to have looked into only a handful of instances of falsification by Buckmon, although more than a dozen instances were reported, according to internal documents.
In one document from the probe, Program Coordinator Joal Crosby was ask in 2010, “Why was the suspected … possible data falsification on all (underscored) other survey work for which data falsification was suspected not investigated by the region?”
On one document seen by The Post, Crosby hand-wrote the answer: “Unable to determine why an investigation was not done for CPS,” or the Current Population Survey — the official name for the unemployment report.
With regard to the Consumer Expenditure survey, only four instances of falsification were looked into, while 14 were reported.
I’ve been suspicious of the Census Bureau for a long time.
During the 2010 Census report — an enormous and costly survey of the entire country that goes on for a full year — I suspected (and wrote in a number of columns) that Census was inexplicably hiring and firing temporary workers.
I suspected that this turnover of employees was being done purposely to boost the number of new jobs being report each month. (The Labor Department does not use the Census Bureau for its other monthly survey of new jobs — commonly referred to as the Establishment Survey.)
Last week I offered to give all the information I have, including names, dates and charges to Labor’s inspector general.
I’m waiting to hear back from Labor.
Obama administration adding 68 new regulations per day:
On November 9, 2012, CNS News reported:
In the past 90 days, [the Obama administration] has posted 6,125 regulations and notices – an average of 68 a day. ...
The thousands of entries [listed on the website Regulations.gov] run the gamut from meeting notifications to fee schedules to actual rules and proposed rule changes.
In recent days, for example, the EPA posted a proposed rule involving volatile organic compound emissions from architectural coatings: “We are approving a local rule that regulates these emission sources under the Clean Air Act (CAA or the Act),” the proposed rule states. “We are taking comments on this proposal and plan to follow with a final action.”
Another proposed rule will provide guidance for FDA staff on "enforcement criteria for canned ackee, frozen ackee, and other ackee products that contain hypoglycin A." (Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica; unripened or inedible portions can be toxic.)
Some of the proposed regulations revise regulations already on the books.
The website also links to a video of a speech President Barack Obama gave at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 7, 2011, in which the president promised to remove “outdated and unnecessary regulations.”
“I've ordered a government-wide review, and if there are rules on the books that are needlessly stifling job creation and economic growth, we will fix them,” the president said.
A number of groups, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, expect a rush of new regulations now that President Obama has won a second term.
Obama Plans Racial Preferences on a Massive Scale:
On November 8, 2012, journalist Paul Sperry reported the following in the Investor's Business Daily (IBD):
If your organization has a policy or practice that doesn't benefit minorities equally, watch out: The Obama administration could sue you for racial discrimination under a dubious legal theory that many argue is unconstitutional. President Obama intends to close "persistent gaps" between whites and minorities in everything from credit scores and homeownership to test scores and graduation rates.
His remedy — short of new affirmative-action legislation — is to sue financial companies, schools and employers based on "disparate impact" complaints — a stealthy way to achieve racial preferences, opposed 2 to 1 by Americans. Under this broad interpretation of civil-rights law, virtually any organization can be held liable for race bias if it maintains a policy that negatively impacts one racial group more than another — even if it has no racist motive and applies the policy evenly across all groups.
This means that even race-neutral rules for mortgage underwriting and consumer credit scoring potentially can be deemed racist if prosecutors can produce statistics showing they tend to result in adverse outcomes for blacks or Latinos. Already, Attorney General Eric Holder has used the club of disparate-impact lawsuits to beat almost $500 million in loan set-asides and other claims out of the nation's largest banks.
In addition to the financial settlements — which include millions in funding for affordable-housing activists — Bank of America, Wells Fargo and SunTrust have all agreed to adopt more minority-friendly lending policies. Though the administration seeks equal credit outcomes, regardless of risk, across the entire banking industry, it doesn't have to sue every bank to achieve its goal. As a prophylactic against similar prosecution, IBD has learned the American Bankers Association recently advised its 5,000 members to give rejected minority loan applicants a "second look," which it says "can result in suggested changes in underwriting standards."
Also, the administration sent a chill through the financial industry earlier this year when it announced its new credit watchdog agency will join Justice, as well as HUD, in using the disparate-impact doctrine to enforce civil-rights laws. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief Richard Cordray warned companies the agency will "protect consumers from unfair lending practices — as well as those that have a disparate impact on communities of color." He added: "That doctrine is applicable for all of the credit markets we touch, including mortgages, student loans, credit cards and auto loans," as well as small-business loans.
For the first time, the nation's consumer credit reporting agencies, including Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, will come under federal review. CFPB examiners will subject these companies and others to an "effects test" to make sure credit transactions are racially balanced. Those who reject minority applicants for credit cards or charge them higher loan rates had better be prepared to prove to Cordray's diversity cops they aren't racist. Many have already decided it's safer to give black and Latino applicants preferential treatment, which of course is racism of another kind.
Other targets of the administration's "racial justice" juggernaut include: standardized academic testing, professional licensing examinations, employee background checks, voter ID requirements, student disciplinary codes, prison sentencing guidelines — you name it. The goal is to equalize outcomes based on race without regard for performance or merit.
According to Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, President Obama is committed to "aggressively pushing the 'disparate impact' approach to civil-rights enforcement" through which "the federal government insists that the numbers come out right — even if it means that policemen and firefighters cannot be tested, that companies should hire criminals, that loans must be made to the uncreditworthy, and that — I kid you not — whether pollution is acceptable depends on whether dangerous chemicals are spread in a racially balanced way."
Last month, moreover, the Education Department pressured the Oakland school district to impose "targeted reductions" in the number of black students suspended. The department charged that Oakland's disciplinary policy has a "disparate impact" on African-American students, who are suspended at higher rates for violent behavior. The Oakland case is the first of some 20 such investigations of school districts across the U.S. "The Obama administration is pressuring school districts not to suspend violent or disruptive black students if they have already disciplined 'too many' black students," said Competitive Enterprise Institute counsel Hans Bader. Education is also investigating a "disparate impact" complaint recently filed by the NAACP alleging the entrance exam used by selective New York City high schools illegally discriminates against blacks.
Through disparate impact suits, Holder has forced banks to adopt racial lending quotas and even open branches in minority neighborhoods. He's authorized five more lending-discrimination suits, while opening another 30 investigations against banks. And he's just getting warmed up. "The question is not does (affirmative action) end, but when does it begin?" Holder said in February at a Columbia University forum. "When do people of color truly get the benefits to which they are entitled?"
Banks had hoped the Supreme Court would declare his actions unconstitutional. But a landmark disparate-impact case was scuttled at the last minute this year when the petitioner withdrew it under pressure from Holder's civil-rights chief. Congress is probing the unusual arm-twisting — which included what appears to be a corrupt quid-pro-quo bargain — that led to the case being dropped. Most agree that had the Magner v. Gallagher case gone forward, the high court would have struck down the use of disparate impact and effectively shut down the administration's witch hunt against lenders.
On the campaign trail, Obama was mum about his disparate-impact strategy and rarely talks at all about race. He's no doubt aware of polling in his last presidential bid which found 56% of voters harbored fears he'd favor African-Americans. But his 2006 writings inform us. To close the "stubborn gap that remains between the living standards of black, Latino and white workers," then-Sen. Obama proposed "completing the unfinished business of the civil rights movement — namely, enforcing nondiscrimination laws in such basic areas as employment, housing and education." He added: "The government, through its prosecutors and its courts, should step in to make things right."
Obama visits Myanmar and repeatedly mispronounces name of honored dissident:
On November 19, 2012, President Obama visited the city of Yangon, Myanmar (formerly Burma); Myanmar had recently begun democratic reforms following a half-century of military rule. During Obama's visit, the activist and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi -- the world's most recognized pro-democracy icon -- welcomed him to the home where she once had been held under house arrest by the country's ruling military regime. Obama thanked Suu Kyi for her "extraordinary hospitality and grace," and said she "has been inspiration to people all around the world, including myself." As he stood alongside Suu Kyi and made statements to reporters, however, Obama mispronounced her name repeatedly as Aung YAN Suu Kyi. The proper pronunciation is Ahng Sahn Soo Chee.
In addition, Obama used the Burmese regime’s preferred word “Myanmar” in referencing Burma, though it is not the term officially used by the U.S. government or by Burma’s opposition activists.
Obama invites singer who called for the killing of Americans, to White House:
In December 2012, it was reported that Park Jae-sang (aka PSY), the the wildly popular Korean rap/pop singer who hit it big on YouTube with his viral “Gangnam Style” video, would be performing for the White House in a Christmas extravaganza at the National Building Museum. One of PSY's other songs contains the following lyrics:
Kill those fucking Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives.
Kill those fucking Yankees who ordered them to torture.
Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers.
Kill them all slowly and painfully.
Three-Fourths of New Jobs Have Been Government Jobs:
On December 7, 2012, CNS News reported:
Seventy-three percent of the new civilian jobs created in the United States over the last five months are in government, according to official data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In June, a total of 142,415,000 people were employed in the U.S, according to the BLS, including 19,938,000 who were employed by federal, state and local governments.
By November, according to data BLS released today, the total number of people employed had climbed to 143,262,000, an overall increase of 847,000 in the six months since June.
In the same five-month period since June, the number of people employed by government increased by 621,000 to 20,559,000. These 621,000 new government jobs created in the last five months equal 73.3 percent of the 847,000 new jobs created overall.
Intelligence Community says U.S. will no longer be lone superpower:
In December 2010, the National Intelligence Council of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report — titled “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds" — projecting that the United States would no longer be the world's only superpower by 2030. Said the report:
"In terms of the indices of overall power – GDP, population size, military spending and technological investment – Asia will surpass North America and Europe combined.... With the rapid rise of other countries, the 'unipolar moment' is over and no country – whether the U.S., China, or any other country – will be a hegemonic power.... The United States’ relative economic decline vis-a-vis the rising states is inevitable and already occurring, but its future role in the international system is much harder to assess."
Obama consults with several "progressive" advisors on tax plan:
On December 4, 2012, President Barack Obama met with several "influential progressive" advisors (as described by White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest) to strategize on how to best sell the American public on the need to raise taxes on people earning $250,000 or more, while extending the Bush-era tax cuts for all other U.S. residents. Among those in attendance were Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton, Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC host Ed Schultz, and Arianna Huffington.
Obama's Gun Task Force includes Eric Holder (infamous for the "Fast & Furious" gun scandal), and a man convicted of planning a mass murder at a Massachusetts high school in 2004:
FreedomOutpost.com reported the following:
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Barack Obama established a task force, headed by Vice President Joe Biden, to come up with solutions to end gun violence. However, one of the members of Biden’s task force has a son that has been convicted, not just charged, but convicted, of planning a mass murder at a high school in Massachusetts in 2004.
President of the National Assocation of Police Officers (and Boston Police Officer) Thomas Nee is the member in question. His son, Josephe Nee, was convicted in February 2008 for planning a Columbine-style ambush at Marshfield High School in 2004.
According to Boston.com:
Authorities learned about the plan in September of that year, when Nee went to police with two classmates and told officers that [Tobin] Kerns [Nee's 16-year-old friend] was planning a massacre at the school. Nee told police the plan involved taking ammunition and explosive devices into the school, securing the school’s exit doors with bicycle locks, and shooting students and staff.
Police arrested Kerns the following day.
Police didn’t arrest Nee until a month later, after friends of Kerns implicated Nee as the mastermind of the plot....
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