How come we are so far in the red? Where’s all our money going?

Taxation Without Cessation

How come we are so far in the red? Where’s all our money going?

Redacted from an editorial by Jeffrey H. Anderson

The Weekly Standard Editorial
January 21, 2013

While the press was distracted by the misnamed “fiscal cliff” we began the New Year with a 13-figure deficit and a 14-figure national debt-the result of today’s Americans borrowing vast sums of money and putting it on future Americans tab. The two parties offer rather different explanations for the cause of this unsustainable transfer of wealth from the young and the unborn to the old, which the “fiscal cliff deal — at least on paper— only made worse.

President Obama and the Democrats suggest that federal tax revenues have fallen, while federal spending has generally proceeded at reasonable levels. Republicans suggest that tax revenues have more or less flatlined, while spending has skyrocketed. Neither explanation is fully accurate. In truth, taxes have risen substantially. Yet these substantial increases in federal taxation have been dwarfed by an explosion in federal spending.

According to White House, Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and U.S. Census tallies, when John F. Kennedy was in the White House in 1962, federal tax revenues were $534 per capita or $4,178 in today’s dollars. Last year, according to those same sources, federal tax revenues were $7793 per capita. So, from 1962 to 2012, taxes rose 87 percent even after accounting for inflation and population growth. In other words, across the past 50 years, real (inflation-adiusted) per-capita taxes have nearly doubled.

Of course, this 87 percent increase in per-capita taxation hasn’t remotely kept the federal government from racking up higher deficit spending. With JFK in the White House in 1962, the federal government spent 7 percent more than it had available to spend-$1.07 going out for every $1 coming in. With Obama in the White House, it has spent $1.56 for every $1 available.

…What are we spending such colossal sums of borrowed money on? Well, we’re clearly not spending them on defense. According to official White House and CBO tallies, from 1962 to 2012, the share of total federal spending that went to national defense fell from nearly half (49 percent) to less than a fifth (19 percent). Where, then, is all of the borrowed money going? Here’s a hint: Medicare and Medicaid—and now Obamacare—didn’t exist in 1962.

… Over the past 50 years, defense spending has essentially flatlined, taxation has nearly doubled, total federal spending has far more than doubled, and nondefense spending has quadrupled. In that light, only the most stubborn ideologue could blame our mind-boggling deficits on insufficient taxation or excessive defense spending.

… Just days after the 40th-anniversary celebration of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as private extravagance.” He warned that “public debt” is the “fore horse” of the “frightful team” of public mismanagement that leads to the “misery,” “suffering,” “wretchedness,” and “oppression” of private citizens.

As we begin 2013, we would do well to start heeding Jefferson’s warning. The only way to escape our worsening fiscal calamity is by substantially reforming Medicare and Medicaid to make them affordable, replacing Obamacare (which will require having a 2016 Republican presidential candidate who can persuasively advance a replacement), enacting pro-growth policies, and—most simply—cutting federal spending almost across the board. A half-century during which we’ve nearly doubled our taxes and quadrupled our non defense spending is a sufficiently lengthy experiment in gross fiscal mismanagement. It’s time for overdue leadership and meaningful reform.

The Media and the Tea Party

By L Brent Bozell III

Media Watch Center – America’s Media Watchdog

The liberal media will stop at nothing to cripple the Tea Party. They are attacking this grassroots movement because it is:

1) An effective force for conservatism
2) They need a bogeyman to blame for the economic disaster caused by the socialist policies of President Obama and his allies in Congress

The Media is all geared to help  left-wingers in the 2012 elections. Here at the Media Research Center (MRC) we’ve documented and exposed the media attacks against the Tea Party since it was born during the Obamacare battle in early 2010. Since then, the vitriol hurled by left-wing journalists against conservatives has grown coarser, in contradiction to all their pleading about “civility.” This was abundantly obvious in the fight over raising the federal debt ceiling in July and August.

Let’s look at some examples from that battle  and remember this is the same media that somehow blamed the Jan. 8 Tucson shooting of Congresswoman Gabriella Gifford and the killing of five others,  on the rhetoric of conservative talk radio and the Tea Party.

Remember also that President Obama gave a nationally televised speech in Tucson after the shooting calling for “more civility in our public discourse.” He also said, “at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized … it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”

Okay, now fast forward to the debt-ceiling debate. On July 27, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman  blared, “If sane Republicans do not stand up to this Hezbollah faction in their midst, the Tea Party will take the GOP on a suicide mission.”  (Huh? The usual non-sequitar idiotic Friedman conclusions).

Two days later, MSNBC’s Steven Rattner seriously argued  “the problem with this is it’s like a form of economic terrorism. I imagine these Tea Party guys are like strapped with dynamite, standing in the middle of Times Square at rush hour and saying, ‘Either you do it my way, or we’re going to blow you up, ourselves up, and the whole country up with us.”  In other words, Tea Party Americans are like radical Islamic suicide bombers! Is that civil discourse?

That same day, July 29, Bloomberg News’ Margaret Carlson described Tea Party lawmakers as the “nihilist caucus”, which is, ‘Listen, we want to burn the place down.’ … They’ve strapped explosives to the Capitol and they think they’re immune from it. The Tea Party caucus wants this crisis.”

(Note to Carlson: By the way, President Obama’s communist friends, Bill Ayres and Bernadine Dohrn did in fact, participate in actual bombings of the Capitol and the Pentagon in 1971-72 and somehow got away scott-free!)

Over at CBS, the marginally more rational Bob Schieffer exclaimed, “Some people say the Republican Party has been held hostage by the Tea Party.” At least at CBS Tea Partiers have been downgraded from terrorists to kidnappers. Howard Fineman of The Huffington Post threw another twisted analogy into the mix by telling viewers of MSNBC’s Hardbail, “What’s going on here, as I see it, is a kind of slow-motion secession…. The Tea Party people are saying, we want to secede from that society.”

Hardball  host Chris Matthews (of Obama speech making shivers run up his leg fame) smeared the Tea Party for backing real spending cuts and a balanced budget amendment as part of the debt-ceiling deal. After the vote on the deal, Matthews lamented, “What I saw at least was one guy with a knife and the other trying to avoid being cut. It was a thug attacking a victim. It was a mugging. The mugging continues, again and again and again. The people who perpetrated this assault on the president will come back to do it again.” Nice civility, don’t you think?

Putting the arsenic-icing on the rhetorical cake, totally predictably Far Left, New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd snapped: “Tea Party budget-slashers were like cannibals, eating their own party and leaders alive. They were like vampires, draining the country’s reputation, credit rating and compassion. They were like zombies, relentlessly and mindlessly coming back again and again to assault their unnerved victims, Boehner and President Obama.”

Not surprisingly, the oh-so sensitive left-wing media said nothing about this vile rhetoric. While the debt deal was a loser for conservatives – no real spending cuts and no balanced budget – the hberal media also know the political fallout is bad for Obama especially the downgrading of America’s credit rating by Standard & Poor’s. So, they’re trying to shift the blame to the Tea Party.

In an MRC press release, yours truly (Brozell III) said, “To blame the Tea Party for the S&P downgrade is like blaming the Betty Ford Clinic for alcoholism. The entire existence of the Tea Party movement has been based on an attempt to stop the runaway spending of Washington – by the likes of John Kerry.

This is a well-coordinated effort by the left-wing to deflect bad news – very bad news away from their very left-wing President Obama.” The liberal media will do anything to cut the Tea Party off at the knees and cover for Obama and liberals in the 2012 election year. The discourse is only going to get worse.

Media Watch Center is tracking, exposing, and neutralizing that well orchestrated serial dishonesty every day, through our MRC divisions online, and in print, on talk radio, television, Facebook,Twitter, and through our MRC Action Team. The battle is intensifying and we are advancing, so stay tuned.

Sincerely,
L. Brent Bozell III
Founder and President, Media Research Center

High Noon at the UN

By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought”

“Israel Hayom” Newsletter, September 12, 2011

President Obama joins the campaign against the Palestinian UN initiative in spite of his belief that the UN is the quarterback of international relations, in defiance of his closest advisors – UN Ambassador Susan Rice, Director of Multilateral Affairs Samantha Power and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett – and irrespective of his support of Palestinian claims and his assumption that the Palestinian issue is the root cause of Middle East turbulence and the crown jewel of Arab policy-making.

However, President Obama operates within the Federalist system which precludes an omnipotent president, and significantly constrains his maneuverability. It accords Congress – a bastion of support of the Jewish State – power equal to that of the President, domestically and internationally. The clout of Congress grows in direct correlation to the weakness of Obama, whose popularity plunged from 65% in January 2009 to 39% in August 2011.

Obama is aware that House and Senate Democratic leaders, such as House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee Howard Berman, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and former Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Robert Menendez, would suspend foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority, should the Palestinians proceed with their UN initiative. The President is cognizant of the fact that their support is critical to his reelection aspirations in November 2012.

Moreover, the US Congress constitutes the most authentic representative of the American people, who – especially upon the tenth anniversary of 9/11 – consider Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims as part of the terrorist threat, view the UN as a role-model of ingratitude and treat Israel as a special, capable, democratic and unconditional ally.

The US campaign against the Palestinian initiative at the UN is driven by the American People’s and Congress’ identification with the Jewish State, and by their mistrust of the UN and the Palestinians. According to a May 26, 2011 CNN poll, 82% of Americans consider Israel an ally and a friend, compared with 72% in 2001. 67% support Israel, while only 16% support the Palestinians, who are as unpopular as Iran (15%) and North Korea (17%). According to a February, 2011 Gallup poll, 68% consider Israel an ally; the April 2011 Rasmussen Report shows that most Americans oppose foreign aid to Arab countries but support foreign aid to Israel; a September 2010 Rasmussen Report indicates that most Americans are willing to defend militarily only five other countries – Canada, Britain, Israel, Germany and Mexico; and the April 2010 Quinnipiac Polling Institute determines that 66% expect Obama to improve treatment of Israel.

According to a February, 2011 Gallup poll, 62% of Americans think that the UN is performing poorly, compared with 30% in 1953. A February, 2011 Rasmussen Report determined that only 27% of likely US voters regard the UN as an ally of the US, while 15% consider the UN an enemy and 54% are undecided.

Congressional attitudes toward the UN reflect public resentment of anti-American bias in the UN, a home court for anti-US countries in general and Islamic and rogue regimes in particular, even though the US funds 22% of the UN budget. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, recently introduced the United Nations Transparency, Accountability and Reform Act, which would cut off US contributions to any UN entity that grants membership, or any other upgraded status, to the Palestinian Authority.

According to Ros-Lehtinen, “UN obsession with castigating Israel — from the Human Rights Council and the Goldstone Report and the Durban conferences to the multitude of UN bodies created for the sole purpose of condemning Israel — has eliminated UN credibility…. The UN’s most infamous anti-Israel act came in 1975, when the General Assembly voted to declare that ‘Zionism is racism.’”

Will Israel leverage the US attitude toward the UN and the Palestinian Authority, or will it persist in the policy of indecisiveness and retreat, which was initiated by the 1993 Oslo Accord?

Glenn Beck visits Israel and speaks to the Knesset

Glenn Beck is a friend of Israel. He is a friend of the Jewish people

Glenn Beck visits Israel and speaks to the Knesset

By Ben Shapiro
July 18, 2011 – Daily Mailer, FrontPage

Comment by Gail Winston, Middle East Analyst & Commentator:

One huge mistake, exaggeration, mis-perception that has been cast against Glenn Beck is that Glenn said: [paraphrased] “He is for a two-state solution. The Palestinians should have a state BUT: [this part has been deleted by the MSM Main Stream Media] BUT, A STATE NOT IN ISRAEL BUT, WEST OF THE JORDAN RIVER.”

Since Glenn Beck’s dramatic rise to prominence two years ago, he has been portrayed by many members of the left as a kook. The members of the left condemning Beck most loudly, to my utter dismay, have been Jews. Jon Liebowitz, aka Jon Stewart, has dedicated his show to mocking Beck as a religious freak and a nut job; in his episode on Beck’s departure from his Fox News show, Stewart donned Beck-like glasses and then scoffed, “Glenn Beck was sent here by Jesus to take the 5:00 p.m. slot between Neil Cavuto and Shepard Smith for 27 months.”

Rob Eshman of the atrocious Los Angeles Jewish Journal said that Beck’s expose of self-hating Jew and anti-Israel fanatic George Soros was “the verbal equivalent of a Der Sturmer cartoon.” Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, which spends far less time targeting radical Muslims who want to murder Jews than commentators who love Israel, condemned that same Beck vs. Soros episode as “completely inappropriate, offensive, and over the top.” The Jewish Funds for Justice, a far-left Jewish organization, ran a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal taking on Beck.

Let me say this: I stand with Glenn Beck, and against these (frequently misguided and self-destructive) Jews and their organizations. Glenn Beck is a friend of Israel. He is a friend of the Jewish people. And anyone who argues otherwise is either lying or ignorant.

Beck possesses a moral clarity with regard to the Jewish State that has no equivalent in the leftist Jewish community. He recognizes that Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians is not a conflict over land or over population exchange, but over fundamental values.

This week, Beck travelled to Israel, where he spoke eloquently about the Fogel family butchered in its sleep by Palestinian terrorists earlier this year. “There’s something bigger than politics here,” he stated. “I don’t think in my lifetime I’ve seen a more clear definition of evil that has been dismissed.” In fact, Beck dedicated several segments on his Fox News show to explicating the Fogel family slaughter, exposing the American people to the true face of moral monstrosity as embodied by the Palestinians who celebrate such murders.

In his speech to the Knesset, Beck explained that he understood the conflict between Israel and anti-Semites the world over: “I got my first death threat, because I came back and said the truth – the conflict is about the destruction of Israel and the end to the Western way of life …. What’s disturbing is that if a guy gets on television or the radio and says the truth, and that’s so unusual, then Israel and the Western way of life are in great danger.”

More impressive than his speech to Knesset is the fact that Beck does tell the truth to the American people about the Israel situation. Too many on the conservative side of the aisle – Israel supporters! – will not label the conflict in pure moral terms. They grant legitimacy to President Obama’s attempts to leverage Israel into concessions, or to the mad musings of Thomas Friedman, who believes that a few bucks can buy off Palestinian radicals. They pretend that if the conditions are made just right, then peace will be achieved.

Beck, on the other hand, sees the conflict as it is, in its stark contrast between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. And he stands with the forces of light in that battle. “Where you go, I will go,” he told Knesset, quoting the Book of Ruth. “Where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people are my people. Your God is my God, and where you die I shall die.”

Israel has never had friends before like Glenn Beck and the religious conservative movement in America. Jews are afraid to embrace Beck because he is so overtly religious, so utterly unafraid of mentioning God in public or with regard to Israel. That is why Jews should embrace him. The Judeo-Christian notion of God is the unifying factor between America and Israel.

Beck sees the war, even though many Jews do not. Some Jews are too cosmopolitan for Beck – Jon Stewart, for example, doesn’t bear any great love for Israel, since that would presumably be “ethnocentric” and unprogressive. Some Jews are too parochial, like Eshman, thinking that Beck represents an old-school religion that will result in pogroms, or at the least, closed country clubs.

Those Jews are dead wrong. Beck is an ally, and a very real one. He represents millions of Americans who ally with Israel and the Jews. Jewish Americans ought to roll out the welcome mat to Beck. He’s certainly rolled out the red carpet for Israel.

Article printed from FrontPage Magazine: http://frontpagemag.com

The least competent manager of our diplomatic portfolio in a long time.

By WALTER RUSSELL MEAD
Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College and Editor-at-Large of The American Interest magazine

The Dreamer Goes Down For The Count

I had never thought there were many similarities between the pleasure-loving Charles II of England and the more upright Barack Obama until this week. Listening to his speeches on the Middle East at the State Department, US-Israel relations at the AIPAC annual meeting and most recently his address to the British Parliament the comparison becomes irresistible.

“Here lies our sovereign king,” wrote the Earl of Rochester about King Charles: Whose word no man relies on. Who never said a foolish thing Or ever did a wise one.”

This seems to capture President Obama’s Middle East problems in a nutshell. The President’s descriptions of the situation are comprehensive and urbane. He correctly identifies the forces at work. He develops interesting policy ideas and approaches that address important political and moral elements of the complex problems we face. He crafts approaches that might, with good will and deft management, bridge the gaps between the sides. He reads thoughtful speeches full of sensible reflections.

But the last few weeks have cast him as the least competent manager of America’s Middle East diplomatic portfolio in a very long time. He has infuriated and frustrated long term friends, but made no headway in reconciling enemies. He has strained our ties with the established regimes without winning new friends on the Arab Street . He has committed our forces in the strategically irrelevant backwater of Libya not, as he originally told us, for “days, not weeks” but for months not days.

Where he has failed so dramatically is in the arena he himself has so frequently identified as vital: the search for peace between Palestinians and Israelis. His record of grotesque, humiliating and total diplomatic failure in his dealings with Prime Minister Netanyahu has few parallels in American history. Three times he has gone up against Netanyahu; three times he has ingloriously failed. This last defeat — Netanyahu’s deadly, devastating speech to Congress in which he eviscerated President Obama’s foreign policy to prolonged and repeated standing ovations by members of both parties — may have been the single most stunning and effective public rebuke to an American President a foreign leader has ever delivered.

Netanyahu beat Obama like a red-headed stepchild; he played him like a fiddle; he pounded him like a big brass drum. The Prime Minister of Israel danced rings around his arrogant, professorial opponent. It was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters go up against the junior squad from Miss Porter’s School; like watching Harvard play Texas A&M, like watching Bambi meet Godzilla — or Bill Clinton run against Bob Dole.

The Prime Minister mopped the floor with our guy. Obama made his ’67 speech; Bibi ripped him to shreds. Obama goes to AIPAC, nervous, off-balance, backing and filling. Then Bibi drops the C-Bomb, demonstrating to the whole world that the Prime Minister of Israel has substantially more support in both the House and the Senate than the President of the United States .

President Obama’s new Middle East policy, intended to liquidate the wreckage resulting from his old policy and get the President somehow on to firmer ground, lies in ruins even before it could be launched. He had dropped the George Mitchell approach, refused to lay out his own set of parameters for settling the conflict, and accepted some important Israeli red lines — but for some reason he chose not to follow through with the logic of these decisions and offer Netanyahu a reset button.

As so often in the past, but catastrophically this time, he found the “sour spot”: the position that angers everyone and pleases none. He moved close enough to the Israelis to infuriate the Palestinians while keeping the Israelis at too great a distance to earn their trust. One can argue (correctly in my view) that US policy must at some level distance itself from the agendas of both parties to help bring peace.

But that has to be done carefully, and to make it work one first needs to win their trust. Obama lost the trust of the Israelis early in the administration and never earned it back; he lost the Palestinians when he was unable to deliver Israeli concessions he led them to expect.

The President is now wandering across Europe seeking to mend fences with allies ( Britain, France, Poland ) he had earlier neglected and/or offended; at home, his authority and credibility have been holed below the waterline.

Everyone who followed the events of the last week knows that the President has lost control of the American-Israeli relationship and that he has no near-term prospects of rescuing the peace process. The Israelis, the Palestinians and the US Congress have all rejected his leadership.

Peace processes are generally good things even if they seldom bring peace; one hopes the President can find a way to re-launch American diplomacy on this issue but for now he seems to have reached a dead end — and to have allowd himself to be fatally tagged as too pro-Israel to win the affection of the Europeans and Arabs, and too pro-Palestinian to be trusted either by Israel or by many of the Americans who support it.

Internationally, this matters a great deal; domestically it matters even more. The President has significantly less capacity to act than he did a week ago. The Bin Laden dividend, already cruelly diminished by what The Daily Caller said was the administration’s “victory lap in a clown car” is now history. The GOP, in trouble recently as voters recoil from what many see as Republican extremism on issues like Medicare and public unions, will be able to use the national security card in new and potent ways.

As the stunning and overwhelming response to Prime Minister Netanyahu in Congress showed, Israel matters in American politics like almost no other country on earth. Well beyond the American Jewish and the Protestant fundamentalist communities, the people and the story of Israel stir some of the deepest and most mysterious reaches of the American soul. The idea of Jewish and Israeli exceptionalism is profoundly tied to the idea of American exceptionalism. The belief that God favors and protects Israel is connected to the idea that God favors and protects America .

It means more. The existence of Israel means that the God of the Bible is still watching out for the well-being of the human race. For many American Christians who are nothing like fundamentalists, the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land and their creation of a successful, democratic state after two thousand years of oppression and exile is a clear sign that the religion of the Bible can be trusted.

Being pro-Israel matters in American mass politics because the public mind believes at a deep level that to be pro-Israel is to be pro-America and pro-faith. Substantial numbers of voters believe that politicians who don’t ‘get’ Israel also don’t ‘get’ America and don’t ‘get’ God. Obama’s political isolation on this issue, and the haste with which liberal Democrats like Nancy Pelosi left the embattled President to take the heat alone, testify to the pervasive sense in American politics that Israel is an American value. Said the Minority Leader to the Prime Minister: “I think it’s clear that both sides of the Capitol believe you advance the cause of peace.”

President Obama probably understands this intellectually; he understands many things intellectually. But what he can’t seem to do is to incorporate that knowledge into a politically sustainable line of policy. The deep American sense of connection to and, yes, love of Israel limits the flexibility of any administration. Again, the President seems to know that with his head. But he clearly had no idea what he was up against when Bibi Netanyahu came to town.

As a result, he’s taking another ride in the clown car, and this time it isn’t a victory lap. I hope I’m wrong, but I think the next intifada got a lot closer this week. (Hashem forbid!)