Archive for January, 2010

Where’s My TARP Money?

January 27, 2010

I listened to the President’s State of the Union address tonight.  I noticed one thing in particular that he said: we have received back most of the money that we spent last fall through the “Trouble Asset Relief Program” bank bailout.  But in order to get back the rest of the money from the banks, the President wants to levy a fee on them.

His argument is that if these banks can afford to give out huge bonuses to their executives, then they can certainly afford to give bailout money back to the taxpayers.  So, Mr. President, I will be expecting my share of the TARP money whenever you get it from the banks.  Just make out the check to me, and write “TARP” on the memo line. 

…Oh, wait.  I guess I forgot that the word “taxpayers” can be used to refer, not to payers of taxes, but to the beauracratic juggernaut that forcibly collects taxes from payers of taxes known as the federal government. 

Maybe the taxpayers should turn Obama’s argument back on him: if the federal government can afford to shell out trillions of dollars in every direction doing who knows what, then certainly it can afford to give its returned TARP money back to the taxpayers.  And when I say, “give its returned TARP money back to the taxpayers,” I mean actually giving it back in the form of tax cuts.  I don’t mean spending it on something else.  Because spending it on something else is not really, you know, giving it back.

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What Does the Massachusetts Election Mean?

January 20, 2010

In what is the greatest political irony that I have ever seen, Ted Kennedy’s successor in the Senate may now become the single vote responsible for killing a health care proposal (Kennedy’s signature issue) that until now was almost a foregone conclusion. 

There are a number of things that one could say about this massively significant event.  But I will only say one thing here, and that is this: President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Senator Reid now have the opportunity to throw out this health care proposal and do the following three things:

(1) Focus on the issue that matters most to Americans right now: jobs.  Congress can stimulate economic growth, not by increasing government control over the economy (which is what 2009 was all about) but by allowing the market to do what it does unhindered by excessive taxation and regulation: grow and produce jobs.  If the Democrats decide to table health care for a while and give attention to real economic growth, then the perception that they are using an economic crisis merely for the purpose of furthering a leftist agenda will largely evaporate. 

(2) When the time comes, go back to square one on health care and build a real bipartisan consensus with reforms that actually will lower costs.  The only way to do this is to empower individuals in their personal health care decisions and thereby force health care providers to compete for business.  Big government solutions are not going to work, and it is clear that Americans do not want more government control over their personal health care decisions. 

(3) Moderate the leftist agenda of 2009 and begin to govern from the center.  Obama sold himself in 2008 as this kind of leader, but he has been anything but to this point. 

From where I sit, this would be a wise course of action for Democrats that may help them rebuild the public’s confidence in them prior to the 2010 elections.  However, having lived with Obama, Pelosi, and Reid for a year, I know full well what they are going to do.  They are going to ignore Massachusetts and go full-steam ahead with their left-wing agenda.  They are enslaved to ideology to the point that they have no political sense.  Reid has almost certainly dug his own grave, which will become apparent in November, and Pelosi just might lose her position as Speaker of the House and be replaced by a Republican to be named later.  And even though he won’t be up for reelection this year, Obama will likely find his power greatly weakened by shifts in Congress in November (even if Republicans do not gain majorities).  In spite of all of this, however, I can almost guarantee that we will see no change whatsoever from this trio in Washington.

The real question is, will the rank-and-file Democrats in Congress continue to follow their leaders over the cliff?  That is where the real significance of Massachusetts will be seen.

The Road to Hell: Paved with Good Intentions

January 5, 2010

“The Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical congress in history.” — Nancy Pelosi, 2006

I wonder how Speaker Pelosi would grade herself and her party on having fulfilled this intention. 

Is honesty the hallmark of 2,000 page bills that, because of their sheer enormity and complexity, are designed to hide political payoffs to special interests?

Is “openness” the term one would use to describe the partisan closed-door meetings that have defined the modus operandi of this Congress?

Is the sale of key Senate votes in exchange for federal dollars targeted at states like Louisiana and Nebraska best described as “ethical”? 

Speaker Pelosi’s statement appears to be the Democratic equivalent of the infamous “Read my lips: no new taxes.”