Posts Tagged ‘Mitch McConnell’

Enough is Too Much Already!

The recent elections delivered the most crushing defeat a political Party has suffered since Ronald Reagan’s 1984 Forty-nine state landslide.  Democrats were rejected by every voting block demographic: young, old, men, women, rich, poor.  Everyone said, “Enough is too much already!” Exit polls everywhere say their handling of the economy and the general direction of the country were the major reasons.  BHO tried to make the election about him as he tries to make everything about him.  His party spent millions trying to run away from him, his record, and his agenda.  However in the end the President’s repeated statements that his policies were on the ballot and that all these Democrats had supported him and his agenda outweighed his friends protests that they hardly knew him.

After the 1994 Contract With America Congress came to town in a similar wave of rejection for the Progressives and their agenda, President Clinton was eventually dragged by his advisor Dick Morris to the signing table and he eventually signed on to the Contract’s legislation.  This brought about everything he is credited with today: a balanced budget and reforming welfare.  After his comeuppance he took the microphone to remind us he was still relevant.

After his recent shellacking BHO came to the world’s stage to tell us he hadn’t lost because the two thirds of the electorate who didn’t vote support him.  He has declared himself to be the voice of those not interested enough to pry themselves off the couch long enough to vote and the advocate of those who care enough to show up.  This is a bold attempt to organize the anarchy of the militantly apathetic.

Since his meteoric messianic rise from the South Side of Chicago to the Oval Office BHO has governed against the will of the American people.  When he, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid used parliamentary sleight-of-hand to shove Obamacare down our throat they knew the majority of the public opposed it.  When the President used executive orders to implement the Dream Act he knew the representatives of the people had rejected it.  When he announced the surge in Afghanistan and at the same time announced the coming evacuation, when he cut and ran from Iraq setting the stage for ISIS to rise, when he encouraged the Arab Spring to overthrow our allies and empower our enemies leading to the wholesale slaughter and dispossession of the Christians of the Middle East, he knew all of these acts were contrary to the will of the people.

So it should be no surprise that after the largest shout by the voters since the 1940s that they want him to stop his fundamental transformation of America he plans to move ahead with his import-a-voter campaign.  Any moment now he will announce another decree from the imperial presidency.  In the wave of his hand that disregards the wave of the people he will legalize millions of illegal immigrants.  These are people who have broken our laws.  These are people whose goal is to take jobs from Americans.

I know that we are told constantly by the Corporations Once Known as the Mainstream Media that these people are doing the jobs Americans refuse to do.  If this is so then why are the majority of people in the very sectors that employ the majority of illegals: farming, construction, lawn care, manufacturing, restaurants, and service still legal American workers?  Why when the INS staged a raid on chicken processing plants and rounded up the illegal immigrants who had these difficult and unpleasant jobs were there legal workers lined up to replace them?  Americans are hurting for jobs.  The unemployment figures are smoke and mirrors.  They do not reflect all the millions who have quit looking, those who are working part-time who want full time, or those whose benefits have run out.  The central government in a transparent attempt to put a good spin on a massive problem only counts those who are receiving unemployment benefits.  Then again the official inflation report leaves out food and energy for an unreal twist to a real problem.

BHO knows the Congress will do nothing to stop him.  Boehner has already taken impeachment off the table and if the Clinton interlewd taught us anything, even when a president is obviously guilty a Republican senate will not convict.

It almost seems as if BHO is intent on igniting a violent reaction from those who believe in limited government.  This would give him an excuse for an even more autocratic response.  He told us before he was elected that what we needed was a civilian defense force as well armed as the armed services.  Today he is hurriedly militarizing the police as he pink slips the army

We must avoid this trap.  We need to urge our elected representatives to do all they can to stop any and all unconstitutional actions on the part of the executive.  They need to reassert the power and authority of the legislature to reasserting the system of checks and balances that is at the heart of the American system of government.  If need be the legislature should use its power to curb the federal courts.  They have the power to make place any issue beyond the scope of judicial review.  They even have the power to abolish all federal courts below the Supreme Court.

The authority is there in the Constitution if our elected representatives will use it.  They can right the ship of State before it capsizes into the shabby swamp of socialist collectivism.  However I am sorry to say these bold new fresh faces we have just sent to Chicago on the Potomac will learn how to play the game before they get there.  They will reaffirm John Boehner and Mitch McConnell as the same old same old and before we can say wave the wave will have broken against the cliff of status quo that is the Washington establishment.  Our new heroes will bend over backwards to reach across the aisle, and they will do nothing to stop our rule-by-decree executive who allows his dedication to anti-colonialism color every decision.

We may have been a colonial power.  We may have been aggressive at times in our past.  However, America is the greatest force for good that this world has ever known.  We have provided the model for individual liberty, personal freedom, and economic opportunity for the world.  American exceptionalism is a reality even if the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue doesn’t understand it.

Without enough votes to override a veto there is little chance of rolling back the transformation. Just remember gridlock is out friend.

Keep the faith. Keep the peace.  We shall overcome.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ © 2014 Contact Dr. Owens  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens



Senate to Vote on Health-Law Repeal

The Wall Street Journal FEBRUARY 2, 2011


GOP Seizes on Ruling Calling the Measure Unconstitutional Senate Majority  Leader Harry Reid responds Tuesday to a proposal by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to repeal the health-care legislation.

WASHINGTON—Senate Republicans, seizing on a court ruling that the health-care overhaul passed last year is unconstitutional, will push ahead with a vote to repeal the legislation.

The Senate effort, expected Wednesday, is almost certain to fail, likely ensuring that the push by Congress to undo the health measure goes no further, at least until the next election.

But GOP leaders said the law was unpopular, and that given two court rulings declaring all or part of the legislation unconstitutional, they were sending an important message by holding the vote. Two other federal judges have upheld the law.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell


“The importance of a repeal vote becomes more evident every day,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.). “Americans view it as an important decision point, a marker that shows we’re serious about a return to limited government.”

He added, “At this point, it would be a dereliction of duty if Republicans didn’t fight for repeal.”

The GOP-controlled House voted to repeal the health measure in January.

Democrats said that erasing the law would undo provisions that were already helping Americans, such as one allowing children to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26.

They also downplayed Monday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson calling the law unconstitutional.

“I don’t think this should be a ‘gotcha’ moment,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.). “I think this should be a moment of trying to quit using an honest and sincere effort to get affordable and accessible health care for Americans, quit using it as a political football, and let’s try to come together and try to fix anything that needs to be fixed.”

Judge Vinson’s decision said Congress had no authority under the Constitution to require people to carry health insurance or pay a penalty, as the legislation does. The law’s supporters say Congress has that right because the Constitution gives lawmakers the power to regulate interstate commerce

The case is expected to end up at the Supreme Court. Lawyers said the court was likely to have a chance to hear the case as soon as its 2011-12 term, as two federal appellate courts in Richmond, Va., and Cincinnati are already considering the law.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond is reviewing two challenges to the health law on an expedited basis and will hear oral arguments in May. That means a decision could be ready in time for the Supreme Court to hear an appeal and issue a decision during its next term, which begins in October and runs through June 2012. However, the high court has discretion on when and whether it hears cases.

The 26 states that won Monday’s decision are weighing whether to ask the Supreme Court to hear the case before it has been fully litigated in lower courts, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday, but the Supreme Court rarely grants such requests.

The legislative and judicial jockeying has ensured that the health law stays in the spotlight almost a year after its passage. Republicans say that’s because the law is unpopular, while Democrats say Republicans are wasting time. Polls show the public roughly divided on the law.

In Tuesday’s maneuvering, Democrats offered an amendment to remove a requirement in the health law that businesses file a tax form when they buy more than $600 from a single vendor. That provision, designed to raise funds by making tax evasion harder, has been criticized by both parties as a burden on small business.

Republicans responded by offering an amendment to repeal the entire law. Democrats agreed to a vote on it and said they welcomed the chance to explain again why the law is a good thing. They plan to raise a “point of order” saying repeal will add billions to the deficit. GOP leaders would need 60 votes to overcome the objection. Both votes are expected Wednesday.

None of the Senate’s 53 Democrats and independents have publicly expressed support for full repeal, meaning the GOP effort will likely fall short. Recognizing that repeal is a long shot—even if the Senate joined the House in enacting repeal, Mr. Obama would almost certainly veto it—Republicans are pushing smaller bills to alter the health law or chip away at it.

In the House, lawmakers last week introduced a measure to curb medical-malpractice lawsuits. In the Senate, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) and others have introduced a measure repealing the law’s $20 billion tax on medical device makers.

All 47 Senate Republicans have said they will vote for repeal, and Mr. McConnell appealed on the Senate floor for Democrats to join the effort.

“For all those who supported the health law, it’s an opportunity to re-evaluate your vote, to listen to your constituents who are desperately trying to get your attention,” he said.

—Brent Kendall contributed to this article.

Senator McConnell Comments on the President's State of the Union Address


GOP Slams 6,000 Earmarks in Trillion-Dollar Omnibus Spending Bill

15 Dec 2010 02:14

By David A. Patten

Republicans are blasting a last-ditch Democratic effort to pass a massive spending bill laden with about 6,000 earmarks as a “smack in the face to taxpayers.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell fired away at the bill from the floor of the Senate, saying it “repeats all the mistakes voters demanded that we put an end to on Election Day.”

“Americans told Democrats last month to stop what they’ve been doing: bigger government, 2,000-page bills jammed through on Christmas Eve, wasteful spending.”

Most Democrats are rallying around the bill, however, seeing it as perhaps their last opportunity to get pet spending projects passed before the 112th Congress takes office. In both the House and Senate, incoming Republicans have agreed to ban earmark requests.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada praised the 1,924-page, $1.1 trillion spending bill Tuesday as “a very good piece of legislation.” Reid hopes to bring the bill up for a vote this week. House Democrats would vote on it on Saturday.

Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, tells Newsmax that virtually no member of Congress has time to read the massive omnibus legislation. Even worse, he says, is that the joint explanatory statement that explains the specifics of the spending request has not yet been published, he says. That document will be more than 1,000 pages as well.

“That’s how you actually find out how the money have been sliced and diced across the various programs and accounts,” Ellis says. “It’s clearly not going to be made available to the public much before the Senate votes on it, and we’re all being asked to buy a $1.1 trillion pig in a poke.

“They had all year to get this thing done, and done in a manner that was at least partially intelligible to the public and to the budget watchers,” Ellis tells Newsmax. “Instead, we have this enormous sausage that they’re trying to stuff through, really virtually sight unseen.”

Republicans say they will push for a continuing resolution in place of the huge omnibus bill. But the GOP push to stop the bill may fall short because of defections from within their own caucus.

Republican senators such as Kit Bond of Missouri and Bob Bennett of Utah don’t have to worry about running for re-election. Both sit on the Senate Appropriations Committee that crafted the omnibus.

“This is exactly the kind of secretive, pork-laden, massive spending bill that’s driven approval of Congress to an all-time low, and induced a voter rebellion last month,” Brian Riedl, lead budget analyst for the Heritage Foundation, tells Newsmax.

Legislative experts say the omnibus bill reflects the inability of Congress to fund government operations in an efficient manner.

Because the 111th Congress was unable to pass a spending bill in a timely way, Democratic strategists rolled 12 separate bills into one omnibus measure.

Keeping everything in one bill makes it more difficult to excise specific provisions that legislators find objectionable. But it also results in a mammoth piece of legislation that may go unread until months after the bill becomes law.

Unsatisfied with the simple continuing resolution the House passed that would keep the government running until the next Congress takes over in January, the Senate is proposing the earmark-laden omnibus as one last spending hurrah before legislators leave town. Grass-roots conservatives are particularly angry that the bill includes $1 billion to fund the healthcare bill that may be unconstitutional, based on a judge’s ruling in Virginia this week.

Because the authorization for government spending is expiring, Republicans could be accused of shutting down the government if they are able to block the omnibus bill. But GOP senators say they would be happy to vote for a continuing authorization such as the one already passed by the House.

Among the 6,000 earmarks the media has uncovered so far in the massive legislation the Senate is trying to push through just weeks after Democrats sustained their work landslide of the post-World War II era:

Literal pork: Almost $350,000 is earmarked to study the management of swine waste in North Carolina.
$235,000 for the management of invasive weeds in Nevada.
$300,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society in Hawaii. Founded in 1973, the society sails a “voyaging” boat throughout the Pacific, studying how ancient Polynesian people settled far-flung lands.
Funds are devoted to a variety of agricultural needs, including research of maple syrup in Vermont, control of potato pests in Wisconsin, the development of virus-resistant grapes in Washington state, and peanut cultivation research in Alabama.
$80 million for states and Indian tribes to pay for preservation of Pacific salmon.
$13 million for clean-water initiatives in rural villages in Alaska.
$450,000 for the World Food Prize.
$500,000 for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute.
$200,000 to install solar panels at a food bank in Arizona.
If the bill passes Congress, it would be up to the president to decide whether to accept it.

Incoming House Speaker John Boehner, a longtime foe of the earmark practice, signed onto a letter last week asking Obama to veto the measure. Boehner issued a statement on Tuesday blasting the bill as a “smack in the face to taxpayers.”

There are two provisions in the bill that Obama may oppose. One would effectively block civilian trials of Guantanamo Bay prisoners in the United States, while another would allocate $450 million for development of a second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said he will urge the president to veto any bill that contains money for a second engine, which the Pentagon says it does not want.

In what some saw as a statement suggesting the president would be reluctant to veto the bill, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday:

“Obviously one of the things that has to be done before Congress leaves is how we’re going to pay for the operation of government going forward.”
GOP Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina is threatening to mount a filibuster, and may insist that all 1,924 pages of the bill be read into the record before any vote is taken.

Obamanomics Takes a Holiday

A two-year tax reprieve is better than current law but far from ideal.
Does President Obama like or loathe the two-year tax deal he has struck with Republicans? It was hard to tell from his grudging, testy remarks Monday and yesterday, but perhaps that’s because he realizes he is repudiating the heart and soul of Obamanomics as the price of giving himself a chance at a second term.

In accepting the deal to cut payroll and business taxes and extend all of the Bush-era tax rates through 2012, Mr. Obama has implicitly admitted that his economic strategy has flopped. He is acknowledging that tax rates matter to growth, that treating business like robber barons has hurt investment and hiring, and that tax cuts are superior to spending as stimulus. It took 9.8% unemployment and a loss of 63 House seats for this education to sink in, but the country will benefit.

In this sense, the political symbolism is as important as the policy. Mr. Obama is signaling that businesses must be encouraged to make profits again so they can hire more workers, that “the rich” he so maligns should be able to keep more of what they earn, and even that wealth built up over a lifetime shouldn’t be confiscated wholesale at death. In policy if not in Presidential rhetoric, class war and income redistribution are taking a two-year holiday.

The tax deal is at best a transition from the failure of Obamanomics to what we hope is a better growth agenda.

This is not to say the deal is optimal for economic growth, and Republicans should not pretend it is. A two-year reprieve is far better than an immediate tax increase amid a still fragile recovery, but it also means that the policy uncertainty is carried forward. In the Keynesian universe, “temporary” tax cuts are virtuous because they stimulate immediately while ostensibly allowing government to reclaim the revenue later when the economy is stronger.

In the real world, businesses make investments based on the estimated return on capital over time, including the expected tax rate. What matters is the overall cost of, and return on, capital. The temporary nature of the tax cuts will provide less incentive to invest than would permanent reductions in the cost of capital. (See Messrs. Cooley and Ohanian nearby.)

The provision to allow business a 100% expensing deduction for 2011, and 50% in 2012, will help growth in those years. But it will do so in part by pulling investment forward from 2013. This is good for President Obama’s re-election chances, but not so good for increasing the permanent level of business investment.

The same goes for the temporary cut in the payroll tax in the name of encouraging more hiring. The one-year cut to 4.2% from 6.2% in the employee portion of the Social Security tax increases the incentive to work. Because it doesn’t favor some workers over others, it is also superior to the tax credits that Democrats wanted. But the proposal does nothing to reduce employer costs, even as ObamaCare is raising those costs as its mandates and regulations take effect.

This incentive to work also conflicts with the disincentive to work provided by another extension in jobless benefits. The deal’s 13-month extension will cost taxpayers about $56 billion. As economist Larry Summers noted before he joined the White House, every jobless person has a “reservation wage,” or the minimum wage he’ll accept to take a job. The jobless rate will thus stay higher for longer as benefits induce some people to hold out for a better job than those that are available.

Another half-victory is the provision to set the estate tax at 35%, with an exclusion of $5 million. The rate was set to return to 55% with a $1 million exclusion on January 1, and Mr. Obama had wanted 45%. While the 35% rate also lasts only two years, the level of bipartisan support will make this rate politically difficult to increase even if Mr. Obama wins re-election. Meanwhile, Republicans can continue to campaign for repeal of this immoral tax on a lifetime of thrift.

Should Republicans have held out for more, since they would return in January with a stronger position? We wish they had won a longer extension, kicking the next possible tax hike further into the future. As it is, Mr. Obama made clear on Monday that he’ll try again to raise taxes in 2013, figuring he’ll be politically stronger if the economy improves. The growth policy victories here are partial and temporary.

Yet this deal is superior to anything we could have imagined six months ago. Much credit goes to Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans for holding together against the class war attacks of Chuck Schumer and other Democrats. By holding firm, they divided the opposition. This proves again that Republicans win the economic debate when they make the case for lower taxes for everyone in the name of faster growth and job creation.

They should nonetheless not advertise this deal as an economic panacea. It is at best a transition from the failure of Obamanomics to what we hope is a better growth agenda when it expires in two years. GOP Presidential candidates in particular can explain why this deal improves on the last four years but also where it falls short and how to restore the prosperity of the 1980s and 1990s. Tax reform is one promising area for Republicans to tackle in the wake of endorsements by the deficit commission and Mr. Obama’s own economic advisory group.

As for Democrats, many and perhaps most in Congress will oppose this deal as an ideological betrayal by Mr. Obama, but it is really an admission of reality. Democrats lost the election because their economic policies failed. Their caterwauling now is mostly short-attention-span theater for the MSNBC crowd. Mr. Obama’s heart is still with the left, and he’s making it very clear that he’ll return to fighting to redistribute income in 2012, but for now he had to dump the Democrats to save his Presidency. As he likes to say, elections have consequences.

Return of Estate Tax Looms as Final Impediment to Extending Bush Tax Cuts

By Ryan J. Donmoyer – Nov 29, 2010 12:00 AM

President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress barely mention it as they spar with Republicans over whether to keep income-tax reductions for top earners. Ending the uncertainty over extending Bush-era tax cuts may rest on resolving a decade-long debate over death and taxes.

The federal levy on estates is set to increase the most of all as tax cuts expire Jan. 1, jumping from zero to 55 percent for fortunes worth more than $1 million at death. President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress barely mention it as they spar with Republicans over whether to keep income-tax reductions for top earners.

A new tax on multimillion-dollar estates may emerge as the final hurdle to a deal that preserves most or all of former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts, analysts said. Congress has unsuccessfully sought at least a half-dozen times to resolve the issue since 2000, including an abandoned effort last December to prevent the estate tax’s expiration.

“The history on the estate tax is every time there’s almost an agreement someone leaves the table in the belief they’ll get a better deal next time,” said Clinton Stretch, a managing principal at the Washington consulting firm Deloitte Tax LLP.

With Obama planning to meet with bipartisan congressional leaders at the White House tomorrow, three main factions have formed in the Senate, none of which has the 60 votes needed to advance an estate-tax proposal. One includes Republicans such as South Carolina’s Jim DeMint who favor permanent repeal. Another is led by Democrats including Majority Leader Harry Reid who support a top rate of 45 percent that would apply after a $3.5 million tax-free allowance.

Moral Issue

A third faction, led by Arizona Republican Jon Kyl and Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln and embraced by Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, backs setting the top rate at 35 percent after a $5 million exemption.

Forging an agreement has proven more complicated than splitting the difference on the numbers because this has been cast as a moral issue, said Lee Farris, senior organizer on estate-tax policy for United for a Fair Economy, a Boston-based group that advocates reinstating the estate tax.

Opponents criticize the estate tax as an unfair levy that destroys family businesses while proponents of the tax, who include billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, view it as essential to preserving meritocracy in U.S. society. That argument has gained steam this past year with the deaths of at least five U.S. billionaires, including New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

“People are more dug in on their estate-tax positions on both sides than they are on the other positions,” Farris said.

Central Feature

The one-year repeal of the tax in 2010 was a central feature of the Bush tax cuts. It was repealed for only one year because a deal made in 2001 between Republicans and deficit-wary Democrats gradually reduced the tax through 2009 before it was repealed. The same bargain placed the Dec. 31, 2010, expiration date on all of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts with which Obama and Congress are now wrestling.

The repeal also was the pinnacle for business groups and anti-tax activist organizations such as the American Family Business Institute and Americans for Tax Reform.

In the past year trade groups such as the National Federation of Independent Business and the National Association of Manufacturers, alarmed by the possibility of a 55 percent rate in 2011, have pivoted toward urging lawmakers to adopt the approach favored by Kyl and Lincoln. Though Lincoln lost her bid for re-election on Nov. 2, she says she still backs the proposal to set a top rate of 35 percent after a $5 million exemption.

Separate Laws

The business groups have been frustrated with a sequence of three separate estate-tax laws starting in 2009, when the first $3.5 million of an individual’s estate passed to heirs tax-free before a 45 percent rate kicked in. The Congressional Research Service says using those parameters in 2011 would subject 0.25 percent of U.S. estates to any tax in 2011 and generate $18.1 billion in revenue.

By contrast, a 55 percent top rate, with a $1 million exclusion, would affect 1.76 percent of estates and generate $34.4 billion in revenue, the CRS said. That’s enough to fund the departments of Labor and State. The Kyl-Lincoln approach would subject just 0.14 percent of estates to any tax and generate $11.2 billion, according to the CRS.

The anti-tax groups say they will continue to pressure lawmakers for repeal.

“What we would very much like to see is an extension of death taxes where they are right now, see an extension of the zero rate,” said Dick Patten, president of the group founded by Alabama lawyer Harold Apolinsky and funded heavily by investment banker Raymond Harbert, the son of a billionaire heiress.

The group refers to the levy as the “death tax,” even though 99 percent of U.S. residents don’t accrue a large enough fortune in their lifetime to pay it.

Most lawmakers likely will be wary of setting a tax-free allowance at $1 million, when it was $3.5 million only a year ago, said Jade West, a lobbyist for the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors. “It doesn’t take a lot to get to a million.”

The GOP Earmark Victory

The Wall Street Journal

NOVEMBER 16, 2010.

The party takes a big first step toward public trust.

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday positioned his party to pass its first major test with the public, declaring he will today support a unilateral moratorium on GOP earmarks. The Kentuckian and other old-guard Republicans had been resisting the ban—which is sponsored by South Carolina’s Jim DeMint and has the backing of nearly every newly elected Republican to the Senate. Their opposition threatened to split the party on a key first vote and leave frustrated voters with the impression that Republicans would go back to spending as usual.

Mr. McConnell saw that danger and had the wisdom to reverse himself. “Old habits aren’t easy to break, but sometimes they must be,” he said in a strong statement on the Senate floor. For two years, he said, he has accused “Democrats of ignoring the wishes of the American people. When it comes to earmarks, I won’t be guilty of the same thing.” It was a necessary act of leadership by the Minority Leader and should reinforce his authority in the larger battles ahead.

His new position also clears the way for a big GOP vote in favor of the ban. With House Republicans also poised to pass a moratorium—thanks to leaders Eric Cantor and John Boehner—the Grand Old Party will stand united against the special-interest projects that have become the poster child of Washington’s spending blowouts.

That cohesion will let Republicans cast the spotlight onto Democrats, who have been in control of the earmark favor factory the past four years. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn is already saying he will force a public Senate vote on a moratorium that would apply to both parties. The last time such a vote hit the Senate floor, in March, only four Democrats were in favor. Now Democrats have to decide if they want to be the lone party defending pork.

The spotlight will also be on President Obama who, post-election, said an earmark ban is one area in which he’d like to work with Republicans. With the , having done its part, several Republicans are now calling on the President to prove his words were more than rhetoric, by promising to veto any bill with Democratic earmarks. This ought to be an easy call for Mr. Obama, given that his own deficit commission has called for an end to the spending perks.

Earmarks behind them, Republicans can now turn to harder and bigger cost-cutting of the sort that really will cut the size of government, and deficits. Having proved they were capable of giving up their own personal spending privileges—earmarks admittedly account for only 2% to 3% of spending—Americans may trust them more to make big spending cuts. Should Democrats continue to earmark, the GOP can make a new sport out of identifying their opponents’ wasteful projects to the public, and forcing votes on them.

Republicans still have plenty to prove if they are to regain voter trust. As first steps go, a unilateral earmark ban is a big one.

Echoes of the Great Depression

As in the 1930s, policy uncertainty and hostility to business have retarded recovery. At least this time around the political price for economic failure promises to be swift.

The Wall Street Journal
OCTOBER 1, 2010

This may not be your grandfather’s Great Depression, but many aspects of today’s situation would remind him of the 1930s. If the recession that officially ended a year ago feels uncomfortably surreal to you yet familiar to him, it’s probably because the recovery went missing.
During the average recovery since World War II, gross domestic product (GDP) surpassed the pre-recession high five quarters after the recession began. It has never taken longer than seven quarters. Yet today, after 11 quarters, GDP is still below what it was in the fourth quarter of 2007. The economy is growing at only about a third of the rate of previous postwar recoveries from major recessions.
Obama administration officials such as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner have argued that without their policies the economy would be worse, and we might have fallen “off a cliff.” While this assertion cannot be tested, we can compare the recent experience of other countries to our own.
The chart nearby compares total 2007 employment levels in the United States, the United Kingdom, the 16 euro zone countries, the G-7 countries and all OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries with those of the second quarter of 2010. There are 4.6% fewer people employed in the U.S. today than at the start of the recession. Euro zone countries have lost 1.7% of their jobs. Total employment in the U.K. is down 0.6%, G-7 average employment is down 2.4%, and OECD employment has fallen 1.9%.

This simple comparison suggests two things. First, that American economic policy has been less effective in increasing employment than the policies of other developed nations. Second, that if there was a cliff out there, no country fell off. Those that suffered the most were the most profligate, such as Greece, and their problems can’t be blamed on the financial crisis. While the most recent quarterly growth figures are just a snapshot in time, it is hardly encouraging that economic growth in the U.S. (1.7%) is lower than in the euro zone (4%), U.K. (4.8%), G-7 (2.8%) and OECD (2%).

Most striking about these comparisons is their similarity to the U.S. experience in the Great Depression. Using data from the League of Nations’ World Economic Survey, we can look at unemployment in developed nations between 1929 and the end of 1938. Ten years after the stock market crash, total employment in the U.S. was still almost 20% below the pre-Depression level. The decline in France was similar. But in the U.K. and Italy, total employment was up 10% and 12%, respectively. Industrial production on average in the six most developed countries was almost 16% above their 1929 levels by the end of 1938, but industrial production had declined by 20% in the U.S.
Today’s lagging growth and persistent high unemployment are reminiscent of the 1930s, perhaps because in no other period of American history has our government followed policies as similar to those of the Great Depression era
. Federal debt by the end of 1938 was almost 150% above the 1929 level. Federal spending grew by 77% from 1932 to 1934 as the New Deal was implemented—unprecedented for peacetime.
Still the economy did not take off. Winston Churchill gave a contemporary evaluation of the Roosevelt policy by observing, in the April 24, 1935, Daily Mail, “Nearly two thousand millions Sterling have been poured out to prime the pump of prosperity; but prosperity has not begun to flow.”
The top individual income tax rate rose from 24% to 63% to 79% during the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations. Corporate rates were increased to 15% from 11%, and when private businesses did not invest, Congress imposed a 27% undistributed profits tax.
In 1929, the U.S. government collected $1.1 billion in total income taxes; by 1935 collections had fallen to $527 million. In 1929, individual income taxes accounted for 38% of government revenues, corporate taxes accounted for 43%, and excise taxes for 19%. By 1939, individual income taxes made up only 26% of federal revenues, corporate income taxes made up 29%, and excise taxes made up 45%.
When Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau suggested to President Roosevelt that the administration cut income tax rates in 1939, Roosevelt, apparently concerned about the possible effect of deficit-financed tax cuts on interest rates, asked, “You are willing to pay usury in order to get recovery?” Morgenthau said that he responded, “Yes sir.” The president disagreed.
The Roosevelt administration also conducted a seven-year populist tirade against private business, which FDR denounced as the province of “economic royalists” and “malefactors of great wealth.” The war on business and wealth was so traumatic that the League of Nations’ 1939 World Economic Survey attributed part of the poor U.S. economic performance to it: “The relations between the leaders of business and the Administration were uneasy, and this uneasiness accentuated the unwillingness of private enterprise to embark on further projects of capital expenditure which might have helped to sustain the economy.”
Churchill, who was generally guarded when criticizing New Deal policies, could not hold back. “The disposition to hunt down rich men as if they were noxious beasts,” he noted in “Great Contemporaries” (1939), is “a very attractive sport.” But “confidence is shaken and enterprise chilled, and the unemployed queue up at the soup kitchens or march out to the public works with ever growing expense to the taxpayer and nothing more appetizing to take home to their families than the leg or wing of what was once a millionaire. . . It is indispensable to the wealth of nations and to the wage and life standards of labour, that capital and credit should be honoured and cherished partners in the economic system. . . .”
The regulatory burden exploded during the Roosevelt administration, not just through the creation of new government agencies but through an extraordinary barrage of executive orders—more than all subsequent presidents through Bill Clinton combined. Then, as now, uncertainty reigned. As the textile innovator Lammot du Pont complained in 1937, “Uncertainty rules the tax situation, the labor situation, the monetary situation, and practically every legal condition under which industry must operate.”
Henry Morgenthau
summarized the policy failure to the House Ways and Means Committee in April 1939: “Now, gentleman, we have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work . . . I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started . . . and an enormous debt, to boot.”
Despite the striking similarities between then and now, there is one major difference: Roosevelt’s policies remained popular even as the economy faltered. The magnitude of the Depression, with its lack of stabilizers and safety nets, traumatized Americans and undermined their confidence in the economic system. This induced voters, as historians would later do, to judge Roosevelt not on his results but on his intentions.
Today, however, the Obama program appears to be failing politically as well as in the marketplace. The trauma of the financial crisis did not approach that of the Great Depression, and Americans do not appear to have lost faith in our economic system or come to see government as the savior. While progressivism gave the New Deal its intellectual foundations, history today is driven by the freedom tide that produced our economic revival in the 1980s and ’90s and still drives economic liberalization in China and India.
Finally, we should not underestimate that this administration faces stronger and more united congressional opposition than FDR ever faced. The House and Senate Republican leadership has far surpassed all expectations of a minority party.
Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and John Boehner of Ohio have led a loyal opposition that, through its unity, has exposed the radical underbelly of the Obama program. Young guns like Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Jeb Hensarling of Texas have provided vision and energy.
FDR rode the tide of history while President Obama strives mightily against it.
The progressive vision that resonated in the 1930s foundered on the hard experience of the 20th century, and it has no broad appeal in the 21st. The recovery from the Great Depression did not occur until World War II was underway, but it appears, as of today, that voters will bring the latest experiment in American collectivism to an end on Nov. 2. A real economic recovery won’t be far behind.
Mr. Gramm is a former U.S. senator from Texas and former professor of economics at Texas A&M University.


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