Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hitting the Debt Ceiling

The budget battles in Washington right now is contentious, but there's one element where there seems to be significant agreement is the idea of raising the debt ceiling, the artificial limit on what Congress can spend. It seems as though most proposals to deal with the looming "default" of the US involve raising the debt ceiling so we can cover our bills.

Isn't that like continuing to raise the credit limit for a shopaholic?

The problem we face isn't one that can be solved by raising the debt ceiling. We have to address the reason why we continue to hit the debt ceiling, which is...spending too much. Raising the debt ceiling doesn't address the fact we keep hitting it by spending more and more.

This is where the budget battle gets me riled up. Democrats insist we need to raise taxes now and cut taxes over 10 years, and the Republicans insist we don't need to cut taxes and we need to spend less eventually. Neither one adequately addresses the spending issue because both plans agree to spending without really looking at making real cuts in spending.

At this point, I need to clarify a point. When Congress talks about "cutting spending," they talk about reducing the rate of proposed spending. To them, saying we should spend $1 billion instead of $2 billion is a spending cut. However, they're still spending $1 billion! That's not a spending cut; that's spending!

What I want are real spending cuts. Instead of promising to spend $1 billion instead of $2 billion, I want to spend $0, especially if it's money that goes to a failed or outdated government program like the Department of Education or Superfund. Additionally, there is wasteful spending on programs that actually do provide some benefit to us, like the military. Not even the "cost-cutting" Republican plans address that. I've been skeptical of the Republican budget cut proposals for that reason, and I doubt the Democrat proposal is any better.

Until we agree to stop spending and start saving money, we're going to keep hitting the debt ceiling and going through the same charade we are now.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Quick Hits - Budget Battle Edition

The current debt crisis is a target-rich environment, so here we go...

Games People Play The Obama Administration and its supporters have accused Republicans of not dealing in good faith, and if you've listened to the media coverage, you might agree. However, it should be pointed out it's been the Left's position we need tax hikes, even after Republicans have said they wouldn't accept a plan that would include tax hikes. How exactly is that showing a willingness to negotiate?

Obama, the Adult? The Left has praised Obama's efforts to date to try to hammer out a budget deal. Whether it was Nancy Pelosi gushing that the President "has the patience of Job" to Leftists saying Obama was "the only adult in the room" at the negotiations, the narrative is being written and repeated without question. The problem: Obama stormed out of one of the meetings. Democrats are quick to point out Paul Ryan did the same thing earlier, but it's different when you're the President. The expectations are a lot higher, and after the image of Obama being cool and intellectual has been touted for going on 3 years, this show of emotion doesn't help his cause any. Personally, I think Obama has been less than adult and less than statesman in his approach, which the Left has seen and is trying to overcome with spin.

Lies, Damnable Lies, and Statistics At a press conference yesterday, President Obama said 80% of Americans want a balanced approach to dealing with the budget issues, which includes (according to him) modest tax increases. I beg to differ, sir. I think raising taxes is a horrible way to bring in revenue since it takes more money out of the economy and puts it into an entity that has no concept of how to make money or grow the economy. Anyone else see that as a problem? Raising taxes won't raise revenue, nor will it address the primary cause of the budget crisis: spending. Let's ask these same people if they would prefer significant budget cuts or higher taxes and see how many support you, Mr. President.

Let me repeat myself... I advised the GOP some months ago to consider making cuts in some of their pet projects as a means to show how serious they were about getting our fiscal house in order. They didn't take my advice, and now they're having to fight with the President over the budget while at the same time having to fight a PR war to try to persuade the country they're serious. Recent polling data shows the public trust Obama with the economy more than the Republicans. That could have and should have been been avoided by bringing more substance to their budget cuts.

Scare tactics are only for Republicans? During a recent interview, President Obama suggested he couldn't guarantee seniors would get their Social Security checks if the government were to shut down. Actually, sir, you don't make that call. It's Congress who does, and from the way it sounds, we have enough coming in on a monthly basis to pay Social Security and other interests and still have money left over, and that's without raising the debt ceiling. For you to resort to such blatant dishonesty is an indication you know you're losing the battle.

No Quiet on the Leftist Front Finally, Sheila Jackson-Lee said racism was the cause of the current budget crisis. She blamed the Republicans for wanting the economy to fail because Obama is black. No, ma'am. Republicans aren't opposing the President because he's black. They're opposing the President to try to get this country back into the black.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Matter of Perspective

Fox News and Media Matters have been engaging in a war of words for the past few months. It started when Media Matters announced it was engaging in a "war against Fox News" to make them a more responsible source of information, according to them. Fox News has fired back, suggesting Media Matters lose its non-profit status because it has engaged in partisan activity, which is against current law.

Although it might be easy to assume which side I'm taking on this, let me clarify a couple of points. First, Fox News isn't exactly a source of good journalism. As a j-school graduate, I can tell when news and opinion get mixed, and Fox News does a lot of that. When it does straight news, it's solid. However, when opinion shows like "The O'Reilly Factor" and "Hannity" dominate the network's daily programming, it's blurring a line between news and opinion, one that I cannot condone. As to whether Fox News is biased, I have no doubt that it is. Having said that, I do think they're conscious of media bias and, for the most part, strive to eliminate it from their news programming. If Media Matters is truly interested in making Fox News stronger, I say bravo!

However, I don't think Media Matters is serious in its claim because it doesn't exactly hold itself to the standards to which it holds conservative media. What Media Matters often does is take a statement out of context, whip out a quick PR release bashing it, and let others run with the story as though it were true. A good case in point is an incident involving Glenn Beck. According to Media Matters, Beck called the victims of Hurricane Katrina "scumbags," which he did. However, there was an important qualifying statement that put Beck's comment into perspective. I know because I was listening to Beck that day and heard the entire comment where Beck admonished those who were looting and committing acts of violence as "scumbags." Yet, if you paid attention only to the Media Matters version of events, you wouldn't get that context. (And didn't the Left get upset at Andrew Breitbart for allegedly taking Shirley Sherrod out of context?)

The problem I have with Media Matters is the same problem I have with Fox News: being an honest dealer with information. Both entities stretch the truth, just in varying degrees. However, even a slight stretch of the truth from a media outlet can become the perceived truth if enough people believe it and don't bother looking for the truth. Having Media Matters call out Fox News for dishonesty is funny on one level, but necessary on another. We should be holding both Fox News and Media Matters to the same consistent standard: tell the truth.

Until either one can accomplish that on a consistent basis, let them try to knock each other out.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Quick Hits

Yeah, I know I've been slacking with the blogging recently, so to make up for it, here is concentrated bloggy goodness for you all.

Budget brinksmanship: To hear the media talk, we're on the verge of a complete economic breakdown unless Congress votes to raise the debt ceiling. The Republicans want budget cuts (albeit far smaller than this blogger would like) and tax cuts, and the Democrats want budget cuts with higher taxes on the rich. Higher taxes isn't an option because that doesn't bring in the revenue necessary to keep the country afloat. Budget cuts on the level being proposed won't work because they're not really addressing the problem seriously enough. I applaud the Republicans for standing firm, but I wish they would get serious about cutting the budget in the short term. As far as the Democrats go, their calls for compromise should be taken as seriously as the calls for compromise made of them during the health care reform debate.

State governments shutting down: In a related story, many state governments are experiencing their own threats of shutdown. Of course, the Left wish to make this a political issue by comparing the state Republicans of being just like the national Republicans. Here's the thing, though: the states are running out of money, just as the federal government is. We cannot keep running up debt and expect people to keep paying for it. At some point, we have to make cuts, and the states are trying to do just that. With the economy in fragile condition as it is right now, we've come to the point where tough decisions have to be made, and some things we've taken for granted will need scrutinized. The longer we play political games, the less time we have to address the budget issues seriously. And, yes, that applies to any Republican who thought social issues were more important than dealing with the economic issues, too.

Glenn Beck signs off his Fox News show. If you heard massive cheering from the Left this week, it came because they "succeeded" in getting Glenn Beck off the air. Media Matters even held a "going away" party for him. Of course, they don't quite tell the entire story, that being the real reason Beck left Fox News: to start his own network. No matter how much you try to push the line he was fired (which begs the question of why Fox News let him keep airing his show for weeks after he was fired), Beck moved on, but he's not going anywhere. Well, except to Israel in August, but that's beside the point. Celebrate while you can, Leftists. Beck will continue to be a thorn in your sides for a while yet.

Why Sarah Palin isn't announcing yet (if at all). Given the media coverage of the Republican candidates, any candidate with an R behind his or her name is going to be scrutinized heavily. Of course, this isn't a bad thing in my opinion, provided it's done a) evenly, and b) with the intent of finding out the truth, not trying to score petty political points. So far, the media have failed miserably on both counts, in my opinion. Whether it was Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday asking Michelle Bachmann if she was a "flake" to Jon Stewart's adoption of a stereotypical "black voice" to mock Herman Cain, the media have become modern day muckrakers stumping for the Left in varying degrees. I guess when you can't defend the guy you helped get elected President, you have to cut down the people who could oppose him.

The trial everybody should have paid attention to, but didn't. Geert Wilders was acquitted of hate crime charges stemming from statements he made about Islam. Why this is such an important case is because it reaffirms freedom of speech. Oddly enough, I didn't see too many Leftists taking up for Wilders during his case, but I did see more than a few conservatives, including my good friend Warchick, taking up for him. Makes you wonder who really supports free speech in the world, doesn't it?

The trial everyone is paying attention to, but shouldn't. Yeah, I know the Casey Anthony trial has all the makings of a bad Lifetime made-for-TV movie, but should we really be spending time paying attention to it? Or at the very least, could we spend less time on it than we are? I've paid only cursory attention to the case and even that was too much. Let's spend our time on other pursuits that have a bigger impact than Casey Anthony ever will.

You know, like getting the economy going?