From Heritage Foundation.
One squishy liberal I know was posting an editorial on Facebook yesterday which complained that the government was not doing enough for veterans.
Why! In fact, the government in 2013 is still actually paying survivor benefits to two (or possibly 10) living offspring of veterans of the War Between the States.
The Des Moines Register notes:
The Civil War payments are going to two children of veterans — one in North Carolina and one in Tennessee — each for $876 per year.
Surviving spouses can qualify for lifetime benefits when troops from current wars have a service-linked death. Children under the age of 18 can also qualify, and those benefits are extended for a lifetime if the person is permanently incapable of self-support due to a disability before the age of 18.
Take Mrs. Lowery above:
(Her father, Hugh) Tudor moved with his unit through Kentucky and Tennessee to the East Coast. He probably would have participated in Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s march to the sea except that an apparent case of the measles kept him back.
Born in Iowa in 1847, the son of Welsh immigrants lived in Missouri most of his life. That he has a daughter proudly talking about him in the year 2012 is a remarkable mathematical stretch, but not a stretch of the truth.
After the war, Lowrey’s father settled in Dawn, Mo., a farming community south of Chillicothe, with his wife, Elizabeth Watkins. They had been married 50 years when she died in 1917. They had no children.
Three years later, at age 73, Tudor married 36-year-old Mary Morgan, who hadn’t been married before but who had known “Mr. Tudor” her whole life.
Besides romance, Lowrey says, probably there were practical concerns. He likely needed a housekeeper and she security. And it seemed he still fancied having children.
Indeed, to the new union came two daughters, HuDean Grace in 1924 and Juanita Mary in 1926.
Despite President Obama’s recent dinner with Republicans, it is increasingly obvious that Barack Obama has no real intention of compromising with the GOP in order to achieve the so-called “Grand Bargain” that would reduce entitlement spending, increase revenues, and begin balancing the federal budget.
Politico reports on one prominent Republican’s congressman’s encounter with the president.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the third-ranking House Republican, told us about an exchange he had with Obama at Saturday night’s white-tie Gridiron dinner. During a break in the program, McCarthy saw an empty chair next to Obama and decided to seize the chance. Surprised Obama wasn’t working the room, and thinking the president really is a loner, McCarthy walked up to the head table. He found the president was reading his BlackBerry. ...
“I’m waiting for my dinner invitation,” the Republican joshed to Obama, referring to the president’s recent evening out with Republican senators. “I listen to Paul,” Obama replied, according to McCarthy, referring to House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. Then, in what McCarthy took as a reference to a political charm offensive, he recalled Obama saying, “You guys give us too much credit. We’re not doing all that stuff you think we are.” As told by McCarthy, Obama then said that if Republicans are going to get entitlement reform, “You need me.” As McCarthy walked away, the congressman thought: “He’s still a law professor. He’d rather lecture you and put a red mark on your paper than talk to you.”
Rep. McCarthy’s aperçu appears to be reinforced by Obama’s subsequent interview with George Stephanopoulos, in which the President openly stated that he was not interested in balancing the federal budget “just for the sake of balance.”
Obama stressed that what matter to him was how the budget was balanced, not that it should be balanced. What he cares about is sticking to his left-wing ideological guns. Obama clearly intends to do nothing contrary to his class warfare agenda to restore economic confidence and avert fiscal disaster.
Really, though, Barack Obama is much worse than he appeared to Rep. McCarthy. His loyalty to theory obviously crosses the border dividing advocacy from action. And Barack Obama’s character is much more that of the fanatic than the contemplative intellectual. What has going on in Washington during the Obama Administration has not been a panel discussion or a colloquium. The administration has proceeded ruthlessly on every front simply to impose its will and get its way. What is most striking has been the absolute unwillingness of this President to subordinate his ideological agenda to economic reality.
Obama’s intransigence and complete indifference to consequences identify him really as a terrorist, rather than a mere theorist and professor. If Barack Obama is a professor, he is a professor resembling Peru’s Abimael Guzman, the founder of that country’s Shining Path guerilla movement. In the final analysis, President Obama has adopted a desperate modus operandi consisting essentially of holding a loaded gun aimed at the economic well-being of Americans and declaring himself perfectly willing to pull the trigger if his political opponents fail to surrender to his demands for an enormous payoff consisting of drastically increased taxes on businesses and upper income Americans.
We can only hope that Republicans recognize that nothing positive can possibly be gained by negotiating with terrorists.
Yuval Levin puts the oh-so-terrible impact of the automatically-triggered sequester into perspective. It doesn’t shut down the federal government. It does not starve the poor or leave America defenseless. It doesn’t even really reduce federal spending. It merely slightly slows already budgeted spending.
Let’s get a grip. In its first year, fiscal year 2013, which ends September 30, the sequester would involve a total of $85 billion in spending cuts. That’s a reduction of 3% from what federal spending otherwise would have been this year. But even that significantly overstates the effects the sequester would actually have this year. The federal government is so lumbering and huge that it can’t even reduce its own spending that quickly. That’s why “first year” cuts are always so difficult in even the most fiscally conservative budget proposals. The Congressional Budget Office (on page 11 of its latest budget outlook, published earlier this month) estimates that while FY 2013 spending will ultimately be reduced by $85 billion, “discretionary outlays will drop by $35 billion and mandatory spending will be reduced by $9 billion this year as a direct result of those procedures; additional reductions in outlays attributable to the cuts in 2013 funding will occur in later years.” So in this fiscal year, we would actually be looking at a $44 billion spending cut, or less than a 1.5% reduction from what federal spending otherwise would have been. It would mean that federal spending in 2013 will be about $3.553 trillion. In 2012, federal spending was $3.538 trillion. Yes, that means that even with the sequester we will be spending slightly more in 2013 than we did in 2012. In fact, we will be spending more than we did in any year in American history except for 2011 (when we spent $3.598 trillion).
Democrats and their media allies will be blaming Republicans, if the Sequester comes to pass, but Bob Woodward (no Republican) points out the truth.
What is the non-budget wonk to make of this? Who is responsible? What really happened?
The sequester and the debt ceiling, explained: President Obama and lawmakers are facing several important fiscal deadlines. One is to avoid the $1.2 trillion in spending cuts included in sequestration and another is raising the country’s debt ceiling. Here is a look at some of the issues involved in these two fiscal challenges.
The finger-pointing began during the third presidential debate last fall, on Oct. 22, when President Obama blamed Congress. “The sequester is not something that I’ve proposed,” Obama said. “It is something that Congress has proposed.”
The White House chief of staff at the time, Jack Lew, who had been budget director during the negotiations that set up the sequester in 2011, backed up the president two days later.
“There was an insistence on the part of Republicans in Congress for there to be some automatic trigger,” Lew said while campaigning in Florida. It “was very much rooted in the Republican congressional insistence that there be an automatic measure.”
The president and Lew had this wrong. My extensive reporting for my book “The Price of Politics” shows that the automatic spending cuts were initiated by the White House and were the brainchild of Lew and White House congressional relations chief Rob Nabors — probably the foremost experts on budget issues in the senior ranks of the federal government.
Obama personally approved of the plan for Lew and Nabors to propose the sequester to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). They did so at 2:30 p.m. July 27, 2011, according to interviews with two senior White House aides who were directly involved.
Nabors has told others that they checked with the president before going to see Reid. A mandatory sequester was the only action-forcing mechanism they could devise. Nabors has said, “We didn’t actually think it would be that hard to convince them” — Reid and the Republicans — to adopt the sequester. “It really was the only thing we had. There was not a lot of other options left on the table.”
I missed the part about there being some democrat president who actually wanted to cut retirement programs, but that (flattering-to-his-own-side) detail aside, I think Mr. Yglesias is basically right. A kind of all-time first.
The welfare state has entropy, Original Sin, and Man’s Fallen Nature on its side. Opposing it, reducing it, reforming it is hard. Being a liberal is like ordering a second Martini or agreeing to have dessert, easy. That’s actually why there are so many liberal politicians. The guys determined to be elected, at any cost, figured out long ago which side has the easier task.
What we learned, in other words, is that even with a Democratic President in the White House who’s eager to cut spending on retirement programs they still don’t get cut. That’s how robust the welfare state is. Recall that the last time we had a Republican President in the White House what he did was make Medicare benefits significantly more generous. Recall also that Mitt Romney ran on a pledge to increase Medicare benefits for ten years and then offset that by cutting benefits for younger people in the future. That’s how robust the welfare state is. Concern trolling about Democratic senators’ willingness to blink on taxes is neat, but all we’re seeing again and again is confirmation of Paul Pierson’s thesis from Dismantling the Welfare State?, namely that dismantling the welfare state is incredibly difficult.
If you want to worry about something, worry about the United States of America. What we’ve seen time and again for the past five years is a breakdown of responsible party government in the United States. Nobody gets their way legislatively, so nobody has to take the fall when things work out poorly.
State of the Union, 1/1/13
A driver was stuck in a traffic jam on the highway outside Washington , DC. Nothing was moving. Suddenly, a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down the window and asks, “What’s going on?”
“Terrorists have kidnapped Congress, and they’re asking for a $100 million dollar ransom. Otherwise, they are going to douse them all in gasoline and set them on fire. We are going from car to car, collecting donations.”
“How much are you willing to give?” the driver asks.
The man replies, “Roughly a gallon.”
Hat tip to Theo.
An accountant explains.
Hat tip to Theo.
When conservatives struggle against the left-wing impetus toward more socialism and more statism, we have a fundamental problem because the odds are stacked against us. We are ourselves funding, through our taxes, the very same operations and organizations which constitute the real base of the democrat party.
Just look in Craigslist for Employment advertising in the not-for-profit category. The numbers of them out there are staggering.
Dan Greenfield explains that we can win in the long run by reducing the size of our adversary, simply by defunding it.
Take a look at your tax bill. Take a look at your property taxes, especially. Much of the money you pay goes to fund the infrastructure of the left, its government bureaucracies and its non-governmental organizations, which still rake in fortunes in government grants. That infrastructure is wrapped up in a thousand divisions and causes, many of which sound benign, from health to civil rights, from education to diplomacy, from the environment to better government, all of which sound nice at a distance, but exist to embed and perpetuate the power relationships of the left.
The right does not need this kind of infrastructure. A system that is not out to control everyone’s behavior all the time, that is not looking to turn every tenth person into another warm body in its endless war against individual freedom, does not need this kind of manpower or indoctrination. Grandiosity, the sheer size of the left, makes it vulnerable. That size is built on a maze of groups, agendas, laws and guidelines in the name of a thousand causes, which intersect with one another to form the beast that we are up against.
The beast is big, but it’s vulnerable. It needs power and money to live. It gains that power by serving as an intermediary between people and the government, even when it is the government. The more intermediaries it adds on, to demand one thing or another, to organize the people, while demanding that the government listen to the people it has organized, while paradoxically taking grant money from the government to organize the people to demand that the government listen to them—the more power and money it gains.
The first and most popular attack on the beast is to take away its compulsory powers. It’s popular because Americans don’t like being compelled to do things. Decades of brainwashing have gotten people to repeat some, “It’s for our own good” talking points. But it’s still unpopular, and most people are not so far gone, that they won’t cheer when given a way to opt out.
From the Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation.
Mark Steyn is in good form.
What we know so far is this: All eleven Secret Service men and all ten U.S. military personnel staying at the Hotel Caribe are alleged to have had “escorts” in their rooms that night. All of them. The entire team.
Twenty-one U.S. public servants. Twenty-one Colombian whores. Unless a couple of the senior guys splashed out for the two-girl special. “Some of them were saying they didn’t know they were prostitutes,” explained Congressman Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
“Some are saying they were women at the bar.”
Amazing to hear government agents channeling Dudley Moore in Arthur: “You’re a hooker? I thought I was doing so well.” It turns out U.S. Secret Service agents are the only men who can walk into a Colombian nightclub and not spot the professionals. Are they really the guys you want protecting the president?
Congress is not happy about this. “It was totally wrong to take a foreign national back to a hotel when the president is about to arrive,” said Representative King.
It’s wrong to take a “foreign national” up to the room, but it would have been okay if she’d been from Des Moines? We’re all in favor of outsourcing, but in compliance with Section 27(e)viii of the PATRIOT Act this is the one job Americans will do?