The adult in the Senate

April 23, 2011

In the debate over whether we should raise America’s debt limit (aka “Can I please borrow more because I’m sure the dice will turn hot, soon,” also known as the Obama Budget), we’ve heard predictions of disaster from those who say it must be raised (or a global financial apocalypse will ensue) and shrieking demands from those who say it would be an ultimate betrayal of the Republic if the ceiling were raised one penny.

Okay, I’m engaging in a little hyperbole here, I admit. There are reasonable people making arguments on both sides: that raising the debt limit is needful because even the chance of an American default would introduce dangerous uncertainty into the markets; and that refusing to raise it is necessary to make America go “cold turkey” on its addiction to debt financing, just like cutting up an individual borrower’s credit cards. But there’s also no doubt that there are hard core partisan ideologues on both sides fanning the flames of intransigence for political gain, abetted by a media that thrives on drama and the latest crisis.

However, there are a few adults in the room — or, in the case, the United States Senate. Among them is Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), who penned an article about the debt ceiling that rips the irresponsible behavior of the Obama administration, particularly Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and asks conservatives to take a deep breath and realize there are reasons to raise the limit one last time. First, regarding Geithner and his intellectual dishonesty:

On last Sunday morning’s talk shows, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner once again implied that, if the debt limit is not promptly raised, the United States will default on its debt and the resulting catastrophe will be the fault of congressional Republicans.

But Secretary Geithner knows that congressional delay in raising the debt limit will in no way cause a default on our national debt. If Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling, the federal government will still have more than enough money to fully service our debt. Next year, about 7 percent of all projected federal government expenditures will go to interest on our debt. Tax revenue is projected to cover at least 70 percent of all government expenditures. So, under any circumstances, there will be plenty of money to pay our creditors.

Moreover, as the Congressional Research Service has noted, the Treasury secretary himself has the discretion to decide which bills to pay first in the event that a cash flow shortage occurs. Thus, it is he who would have to consciously, and needlessly, choose to default on our debt if the debt ceiling is not promptly raised upon reaching it. It takes a lot of chutzpah to preemptively blame congressional Republicans for a default only he could cause.

Thus we have it from a rock-ribbed fiscal conservative that refusing to raise the debt ceiling would not be the end of civilization as we know it. Shock and surprise, President Obama and his tax-cheat Treasury chief are trying to scare us with another ginned-up crisis to force the action they want. I think we saw this show before, when it was called “Porkulus.”

On the other hand, Senator Toomey has words of caution for debt-purists who reject any raising of the debt ceiling as an abomination:

To be sure, absent an increase in the debt limit, the resulting sudden, drastic spending cuts would be very disruptive and undesirable. That is why I have always argued that we should raise the debt limit once we have adopted the needed spending cuts and budgeting reforms. But disruptive and undesirable spending cuts are not the same thing as a catastrophic default on our debt.

In other words, yes, there would be unavoidable and painful cuts if the ceiling were not raised. However, while they would not constitute a economic Ragnarok, it would be better to avoid them by raising the limit one last time — assuming serious spending and budget reforms were part of the deal.

This, folks, is good politics, the art of getting what you want by taking less than 100% now, knowing you’re likely to get the rest, later, because momentum is on your side. The public wants federal spending and the debt reined in, even if it hasn’t worked through all the implications, yet. But they also want Congress to get along and do the country’s business: battles over lines of ideological purity lead the vast middle of the nation to call a pox on both parties’ houses. Thus Toomey’s approach, holding out for major reforms but avoiding even any hint of a default, is a good position: it positions the Republicans as firm but reasonable, and forces Team The One to be the spoilers. Assuming all the major players on our side carry this message to the public, we have a strong hand to play in the upcoming screaming argument debate.

And this leads back to my comment about “adults in the room.” I’ve been impressed with the freshman class the Republicans sent to both the House and the Senate: Allen West, Renee Elmers, Christie Noem, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Pat Toomey, among others: we’ve sent some good ones to office. While the debate and the process won’t be easy, Toomey’s article (read the whole thing) is an example of a new congressional class that has the maturity to put country ahead of party and wisdom ahead of intransigence, and is willing to chastise their own leadership when needed.

Now we just need the kiddies to listen to them.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Department of Injustice: “Don’t enforce the Voting Rights Act.”

July 9, 2010

I linked to this in an update to the previous post, but this really deserves a post of its own: In November, 2009, the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice was told not to enforce the law regarding the integrity of voter rolls:

A lesser-known provision also obliged the states to ensure that no ineligible voters were on the rolls — including dead people, felons, and people who had moved. Our current Department of Justice is anxious to encourage the obligations to get everyone registered, but explicitly unwilling to enforce federal law requiring states to remove the dead or ineligible from the rolls.

In November 2009, the entire Voting Section was invited to a meeting with Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes, a political employee serving at the pleasure of the attorney general. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss Motor Voter enforcement decisions.

The room was packed with dozens of Voting Section employees when she made her announcement regarding the provisions related to voter list integrity:

  • “We have no interest in enforcing this provision of the law. It has nothing to do with increasing turnout, and we are just not going to do it.”

Jaws dropped around the room.

Yeah, I bet they did. What’s next, mandatory registration at all cemeteries?

No Cabinet officer has been impeached since Secretary of War William Belknap under President Grant. It will never happen under a Democratic Congress, but Eric Holder is a shining example of someone who deserves to be the next.


Shouldn’t Ken Salazar be impeached?

June 23, 2010

Okay, we know it isn’t going to happen for two reasons:

  1. It’s a Democratic-controlled Congress through at least next January.
  2. And, as far as we know, he’s committed no criminal act, and precedent would seem to require that.

And yet, shouldn’t the Secretary of the Interior be impeached or, at the least, be fired or forced to resign for blatantly lying in the report that justified the Gulf drilling moratorium?

Much to the government’s discomfort and this Court’s uneasiness, the Summary also states that “the recommendations contained in this report have been peer-reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering.” As the plaintiffs, and the experts themselves, pointedly observe, this statement was misleading. The experts charge it was a “misrepresentation.” It was factually incorrect. Although the experts agreed with the safety recommendations contained in the body of the main Report, five of the National Academy experts and three of the other experts have publicly stated that they “do not agree with the six month blanket moratorium” on floating drilling. They envisioned a more limited kind of moratorium, but a blanket moratorium was added after their final review, they complain, and was never agreed to by them. A factor that might cause some apprehension about the probity of the process that led to the Report.

That’s from the ruling (PDF) of Federal Judge Martin Feldman, whose restraining order blocked the moratorium. To translate that last sentence, it’s a nice way of calling Secretary Salazar a big, fat liar. For background on the controversy over the experts’ opinions and Salazar’s fictionalization, read this article from NOLA.com, which also reports Interior as claiming “the White House made us do it.”

Since it’s evident that Secretary Salazar is willing to lie to the American people and misrepresent facts in court in order to serve the (anti-drilling) political needs of the White House, and since he’s quite happy to use those lies to justify actions that would do undoubted harm to the people  of the Gulf states during a time of national disaster, shouldn’t he be forced out? Shouldn’t he be hounded into resignation? Shouldn’t his boss be made to pay a political price by firing him for being revealed as a willing and dishonest tool? Hasn’t he lost the confidence of the American people as steward of our natural resources?

Or does he get a pass for all this?

(via Michelle Malkin)


Media bias? Surely you jest!

May 8, 2010

At Pajamas Media, Bob Owens has a good article on the double standard of the mainstream media when it comes to covering politically motivated violence:

During the recent health care debate in Congress, the media was quick to latch on to every perceived slight or hurt, real or imagined, directed at Democrats. They offered wall-to-wall coverage of phoned-in threats of violence against Democratic representatives, even as they hastened to downplay the stray bullet that crashed through an office belonging to Republican Eric Cantor.

These same media outlets were quick to pounce on reports that a handful of Democratic offices were vandalized, and they seemed to relish in discussing the glory-hound, former militia leader who sought to claim credit for the handful of broken windows.

The message from the media was clear: any violence against their liberal allies will be broadcast far and wide, and any threat or slur will be published as fact, no matter how dubious the claim.

The reverse, sadly, is not true, and that is not a recent development.

When speculating about why the media refuses to honestly cover the violence perpetrated by the Left, Owens comes to a conclusion that’s a mirror image of one I came to a few years ago when The New Republic published the fraudulent stories of Scott Thomas Beauchamp. Then, I speculated that TNR fell for Beauchamp’s slanderous stories about the US military in Iraq because they wanted to believe them. In the case of the MSM and left-wing violence, Owen offers the flip-side: they don’t want to believe, and so they pretend as much as they can that it does not exist.

Neither is healthy for journalism or democracy in America.