The Petulant Circus Clown Drowns Out any Substance

Friday, October 12th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Family Values, Foreign Policy

Was Joe Biden on drugs or did he use Al Gore for his debate prep?

That’s the question anyone viewing the debate on TV should be asking.

Biden’s appalling petulant behavior, in conjunction with the moderator’s refusal to moderate the debate instead of debate the debate, allowed Biden to get out of control and make a clown of himself.  That is all anyone will remember.  The laughing, flailing, sighing, interrupting, smug and condescending demeanor, etc.  Taken as a whole, it’s hard to imagine that after weeks of practice he was unable to control his disposition for 90 minutes.

There’s a difference between passion and petulant anger, and Biden clearly exhibited the latter.  That is what will be remembered by the average voter.  Unfortunately, the lack of a coherent debate format, along with so much time spent on foreign policy, probably caused most voters to tune out the substance.  With Biden interrupting Ryan 86 times, and Martha Raddatz jumping in during the rest of his time, Ryan only had a few opportunities to shine, unlike Obama who actually spoke for more time during last week’s debate, despite Romney’s domination.  As such, he didn’t have an opportunity to win the debate outright.  But that won’t matter.  The rest of the analysis is just for the politicos.

In terms of substance, here are some observations:

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Obama’s Tax Deduction Lie

Friday, October 5th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Taxes

Obama thinks the American people are stupid.  Throughout the debate, Obama regurgitated his talking points about a balanced solution to the debt crisis.  In the process he insulted the intelligence of every voter by intimating that the budget can be balanced by eliminating a few tax credits.  No, he didn’t commit to tackling the tens of trillions in unfunded liabilities to Medicare and Social Security.  He declined to confront the ballooning cost of all the welfare programs.  The only thing he wanted to discuss was eliminating a few tax credits for oil companies and corporate jets.

In May 2011, the Senate took up a bill to eliminate $2 billion worth of tax credits for the gas and oil industry.  Let’s overlook their fallacious charges that these are unique handouts to the industry – and treat them as if they are expenditures.  We are slated to spend over $3.6 trillion this year, yet Obama is obsessing over $2 billion in tax credits.  Here are some of the major expenditures for last fiscal year, including the so-called handouts to big oil (in billions):

Yes, these tax credits barely register among our major ‘expenses.’

Using a 10-year budget frame, we are expected to spend another $46 trillion.  Democrats claim that their plan to cut the oil tax deductions would save us $21 billion over 10 years.  That amounts to .00045% of our estimated outlays.

What about the much beleaguered corporate jet tax deduction?  That would save $3 billion over ten years – $300 million per year.

Mitt Romney rightfully lambasted Obama for overlooking the $90 billion in subsidies for green energy while focusing on a few billion in deductions he feels he could demagogue.

But there’s more to the story than just the dollar figure comparison.  For Obama, a universal tax deduction to those who already pay a lot of taxes is a handout, while a parochial handout to a sectarian interest that pays no taxes is a tax cut.  And the fact is that green energy companies have no tax liability.  Perforce, their tax credits are nothing more than refundable handouts.

The green energy sector is even more parasitic when scrutinized by performance.  Consider this chart detailing our energy usage by source for 2009; solar, wind, and biomass are barely on the map, even though they are almost completely subsidized.  Here is a chart from the Institute for Energy Research comparing federal subsidies per unit of production of different energy sources:

As you can see, Solar is being subsidized by over 1200 times more than fossil fuels, while Wind enjoys over 80 times more in taxpayer cash.  The reality is that no amount of subsidy can compensate for the impotence of green energy.

Moreover, while most of the government’s investments in green energy are in the form of direct subsidies, Oil and Gas companies don’t receive subsidies; they enjoy universal credits and deductions that are afforded to all businesses.    Additionally, oil and gas companies pay an effective corporate tax rate about 55% higher than that of most other industries.  All the while, the renewable-energy sector is ostensibly kept afloat by the taxpayer, offering nothing in terms of revenue.

Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal laid out the facts about who pays taxes and who doesn’t.

The federal Energy Information Administration reports that the industry paid some $35.7 billion in corporate income taxes in 2009, the latest year for which data are available. That alone is about 10% of non-defense discretionary spending—and it would cover a lot of Solyndras. That figure also doesn’t count excise taxes, state taxes and rents, royalties, fees and bonus payments. All told, the government rakes in $86 million from oil and gas every day—far more than from any other business. […]

Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest oil and gas company, says that in the five years prior to 2010 it paid about $59 billion in total U.S. taxes, while it earned . . . $40.5 billion domestically. Another way of putting it is that for every dollar of net U.S. profits between 2006 and 2010, the company incurred $1.45 in taxes. Exxon’s 2010 tax bill was three times larger than its domestic profits. The company can stay in business because it operates globally and earned a total net income after tax of $30.5 billion in 2010 on revenues of $370.1 billion.

Now let’s contrast that with green energy companies:

For comparison, nuclear power comes in at minus-99.5%, wind at minus-163.8% and solar thermal at minus-244.7%—and that’s before the 2009 Obama-Pelosi stimulus. In other words, the taxpayer loses more the more each of these power sources produces.

If Obama wants his green-energy campaign donors to be on equal footing with oil companies, maybe they should begin producing something useful and actually incur a tax liability before they receive tax credits.

Beating an Empty Chair

Thursday, October 4th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Elections

We’ve all been critical of Mitt Romney from the beginning of the primary and throughout the general election for his lack of core principles, pale-pastel ideas, flaccid attacks on Obama, and lack of specifics.  I have not shied away from pointing out that the Romney convention along with his acceptance speech was a disaster.

So what about his debate performance?

To paraphrase Michele Obama, this is the first time I’m genuinely proud of Mitt Romney.  Romney was sharp, prepared, fact-oriented, devastatingly focused, and specific enough for the target audience.  He was armed with the facts of Obama’s unprecedented period of stagnation and rising costs and had scathing and cogent answers for everything Obama said.  Most importantly, he dominated.

No, Romney did not come with sharp bold colors like Ronald Reagan.  He never was an articulate defender of unfettered free markets and limited government.  He never will be.  And five weeks before the election in the midst of the debate was never going to be the time to change.  He came with his pale pastel marker.  However, here is the difference.  This time, Romney pressed down with his pale pastel marker so hard that there was indeed a bold contrast to Obama.

Romney hit on many of the themes we’ve pushed for so long; incomes down, prices up; health insurance premiums skyrocketing.

Obama, on the other hand, embodied the empty chair of Clint Eastwood.  He rambled incoherently about the same talking points he’s been using for the past few years.  While Romney offered new pungent attacks on Obama’s tenure with devastating focus and facts; while Romney finally broke new ground on his policy positions, Obama resorted to his tired lines of investing in math and science teachers.  Romney sounded like he was using his own words; Obama sounded like he was channeling Stephanie Cutter.  The only difference between him and the empty chair is that Obama appeared to be genuinely irritated.  Contrast that to Romney who managed to eviscerate Obama while still appearing quite amicable.

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The Key to the Debate

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Elections, Issues

The key ingredient of Romney’s performance at tonight’s debate will be his willingness to show voters how Obama’s ‘progressive’ policies are having a regressive effect on middle class workers, consumers, and savers.  We’ve beat this drum incessantly here at the Madison Project.  Unfortunately, Romney has yet to pin the tail on the donkey.

Due to Obama’s central-planning, crushing regulations, Obamacare, and redistribution, the cost of living has skyrocketed while incomes have plummeted and job creation has not kept up with the population growth.  Yet, Obama has successfully portrayed himself as a crusader for the middle class, even as Obamacare has driven up the cost of health insurance, his ethanol policy has driven up the cost of food, and his anti-energy policies have driven up the cost of electricity and gas.  The amazing thing is that the so-called rich – whom Obama demonizes on a daily basis – are actually benefiting from some of his policies, such as the monetary stimulus and near-zero interest rates.  Big banks are reaping the benefits of QE2 and 3 even as retirees are seeing their savings vanish.

Here is the money quote from a new analysis reported by Investors Business Daily – one which Romney must cite in the debate:

Since 2009, the middle 20% of American households saw their average incomes drop 4%. In 2011 alone, they fell 1.7%. The poorest 20% have fared even worse under Obama, Census data show. Their incomes have dropped more than 7% since 2009, and are now lower than they’ve been at any time since 1985, after adjusting for inflation.

Meanwhile, the wealthiest have managed to eke out gains in two of the past three years. In 2011, the top 20% saw their average income climb almost 2%, the Census data show.

And much of those profits are being reaped by the “evil” bankers who are sucking up the funds from QE3 at the expense of savers and consumers.

Think of it this way.  Median household income has dropped $4,520, or about one month’s average wages, since President Obama took office, yet gas prices have increased by more than $2 per gallon.  For many people, that increase has resulted in an annual increase that is as much or more than the decline in disposable income.

One of the biggest failures of the Romney campaign – one which is driving Obama’s lead in Ohio and other key Midwestern states – is their lost ground among blue-collar women voters.  In 2008, Obama only won 41% of non-college educated white women while he was winning 53% nationally.  And for good reason.  He is an elitist radical leftist who puts EPA regulations ahead of job growth.  Yet, Romney has done so poorly relating to them and attacking Obama for raising the cost of living that they are backing Obama with 52% of the vote in Ohio, according to National Journal.

Clearly, these voters are not married to Obama.  In fact, Obama has thrown them out of the party.  They are there for the taking if Romney will just speak to them on the bread and butter issues.  These debates will provide him with the only unfiltered means of communicating with them.  Will he seize the moment?

Obama Lies About Welfare Reform

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Issues

While Obama has been a pretty consistent and principled socialist, there are times when he has vacillated for political expedience.  In light of the current fight over Obama’s gutting of welfare reform, we might want to take a trip down memory lane and study Obama’s position on welfare reform.

1997:  During a floor debate in the Illinois legislature (one of the few times he showed up), Obama said the following about the 1996 welfare reform bill: (page 42)“…I probably would not have supported the federal legislation, because I think it had some problems.”

1998: In a speech before the Brookings Institute, Obama said, “I was not a huge supporter of the federal plan that was signed in 1996…”

Then in 2008, ABC News noted the following about Obama while he was running for president: “Barack Obama aligned himself with welfare reform on Monday, launching a television ad which touts the way the overhaul ‘slashed the rolls by 80 percent.’ Obama leaves out, however, that he was against the 1996 federal legislation which precipitated the caseload reduction.”

And now that he is president?

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Obama Apologizes to Islamists on September 11

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Foreign Policy

Yesterday, we marked the 11th anniversary of the September 11 Islamic attacks on our nation.  Following those heinous attacks we promised to stay on the offense against Islamic terror and to weaken those nations which support their activity.

Eleven years later, we have a president who is building up new Islamist governments across the Middle East – ones that are backed by our biggest enemies; Al-Qaeda and Iran.  Concurrently, he is throwing our troops into a meat grinder in Afghanistan as they are forced to fight a social work operation while Obama’s henchmen negotiate with the Taliban.

In a grimly apropos “celebration” of 9/11, radical Islamists stormed the American consulates in Egypt and Libya – two nations where Obama helped install Islamic governments; a pro-Al-Qaeda government in Libya and a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt.  In Egypt, the democracy-lovers tried to raise an Al-Qaeda flag on the embassy wall; in Libya, they killed the Ambassador and three other staffers.  Yup, the flag that was flying at half-mast for 9/11 was replaced by an Al-Qaeda flag.  They were upset about an American made film about Islam that failed to airbrush their violence.  They responded by…demonstrating the point of the film.

So, do you feel safer now that Mubarak and Gadhafi are out of power?  The Arab Spring is definitely something that Obama ‘did build.’  And he wants more.  Obama is pushing Congress to approve a new aid package for the “Arab Spring governments,” including a $1 billion bailout of Egyptian debt.  Now there is word that Senator Bob Corker (RINO-TN), who is slated to become the next chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, is supportive of Obama’s Muslim Brotherhood bailout.

The most egregious thing is that instead of holding the “governments” and the people of those rat hole nations accountable, Obama’s diplomats in Cairo issued…..you guessed it… an apology!

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The Definition of Stupid: Another Legislative Surrender

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Debt

Get ready for another weak ground out into a double play in the upcoming budget battle.

Shortly before the August recess, we reported that Republicans planned to pass a clean 6-month CR which funds Obamacare and appropriates $1.047 trillion in spending – commensurate with Obama’s request instead of the House budget.  The idea behind the “deferment” strategy was twofold; to delay the major battles to 2013 in the hopes of winning back the Senate and to preclude the need for the lame duck session, when wayward members would use the must-pass budget bill to pass extraneous bad legislation.

At the time, we weighed both the pros and cons of this strategy.  Now we learn that some of our concerns have come to fruition, as the proposed CR is neither clean nor will it prevent the lame duck session.  Here are some things to consider.

  • Welfare Reform: Earlier this week, we pointed out that Republicans have an opportunity to force Obama’s hand on his gutting of welfare work requirements.  The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is set to expire September 30.  Even with control over just one-half of……etc, Republicans can force Obama’s hand by simply refusing to pass a TANF reauthorization without an agreement to reinstate the work requirements.  They can pass a reauthorization with a provision banning Obama’s state waivers of the work requirements, ship it off to the Senate and dare Reid and Obama to rail against an 80/20 issue.  This would literally provide us with an opportunity to contrast a paycheck president vs. a food stamp president.

Instead, House Republicans have cooked up a ‘dirty’ CR that contains a ‘clean’ extension of TANF without the work requirement provision.  This will allow Democrats in the Senate to pass the CR, while concurrently consummating Obama’s violation of welfare reform without engaging in a standalone fight on the issue.

But fear not, House Republicans plan a cover vote next week on a resolution of disapproval of Obama’s HHS waiver.  That would be fine if they wouldn’t be approving it this week.  We’ve seen this rodeo a million times before.  They punt on their only consequential opportunity to force an issue, while opting for a vacuous gesture that won’t go anywhere, especially without a parallel commitment from McConnell to bring up the resolution in the Senate.  This resolution vote provides House Republicans with a worthless talking point.  They can make believe they are fighting against the Obama Administration’s waive of work requirements, when they are actually surrendering the policy at a time when they have the power to undo the waiver.

  • Extra Spending: This is the first CR in history that actually slightly increases spending as opposed to “continuing” current levels.  To begin with, the agreement for this CR is a funding level of $1.047 trillion, not the current level of $1.043 trillion.  Moreover, as we pointed out a few weeks ago, CBO is now projecting that discretionary spending will only reach $1.039 trillion in FY 2013 based on the current budget.  As the housing market begins to recover, CBO is predicting that FHA receipts from premiums for loan guarantees will increase, netting much of that extra revenue and offsetting up to $8 billion in spending.  Yet, amazingly, instead of pocketing the savings and calling it a day at $1.039 trillion, both sides have agreed to plus up the rest of the spending accounts by 0.6% in order to “comply” with the $1.047 topline number.  You read the correctly.  Once they agreed to spend more money, they are incapable of saving it even when CBO shows that their budget could result in $8 billion less than expected.  Leave no spending behind!
  • Disaster Relief: This is an old trick that has already been used during this Congress.  This bill contains $6.4 billion in unpaid for disaster spending over and beyond the abovementioned spending cap.
  • Lame Duck: Not surprisingly, despite passing a CR funding government until March 27 2013, Congress still plans to come back for the lame duck session, when outgoing “suicide bombers” are willing to vote for terrible legislation.  The whole point of this strategy was to eliminate the lame duck session and prevent tacking on bad bills to the CR.  Now we are tacking on a bad bill to the CR….and still incurring the dangers of the lame duck session!

The House plans to vote on this bill some time this Thursday.  Please call your Republican members and tell them to abide by their promise to cut spending.  More importantly, ask them if they are willing to stand up to Obama on welfare reform.

Some people are saying that Republicans should close up shop if they can’t win in this environment.  More aptly said, they should close up shop if they are unwilling to embrace a fight against Obama on an 80/20 issue – one that cuts to core of the election.

The State of the Race

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Elections

There are a lot of questions and uncertainty swirling around the political world concerning the state of the race and what it portends for November.  People on our side are trying to make sense of the polls.  They are trying to make sense of why the biggest failure of a president in the midst of an economic and jobs crisis is leading in the polls.  They are trying to ascertain the erratic nature of voter behavior.

After observing politics and public policy fights for many years, and most notably during the Obama years, I’ve picked up on several truisms regarding voter behavior:

  • In politics, you either drive the narrative or become a victim of the narrative.  You never win on defense, even if you have a good defense.  The only defense in politics is a relentless offense.  There is no middle ground, especially for Republicans.
  • Swing voters are not attracted to moderate candidates.  They are not necessarily attracted to liberals or conservatives either.  They are attracted to the most forceful and decisive candidate in the race.
  • Despite their claims to the contrary, swing voters who lack an ideological core are actually the most impressed by a show of force and are most susceptible to being swayed by negative attacks.
  • Whoever best articulates why specific aspects of the other guy’s persona or ideas will cause specific harm, irrespective of the veracity of those claims, will walk away with the election.  The facts and the data concerning the economy or anything else will not stand for itself in the eyes of the voters.  They will not delve into every aspect, or even any aspect of the monthly BLS employment report.  They will not connect the dots.  The candidates must do that for them.  Whoever connects those dots for them will win, irrespective of who is right about the facts.
  • Most voters lack a coherent ideology like those of us who follow politics more closely.  They are self-contradictory in their voting patterns.  The one thing they are consistent about is that they like winners.  You act like a winner and you will win.  If you cede ground on an issue, even if the public originally sided with you, the image of a retreating loser will move the needle away from you.
  • A candidate, particularly a Republican, who takes “the high road” and fails to launch robust and relentless attacks against his opponent, will not only lose the election but won’t even get credit for running a positive campaign.

Once you understand those truisms, the recent events are not enigmatic at all.  They make a lot of sense.

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Obama Speech: Multiply Failure, Divide the Country

Friday, September 7th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Economy, Immigration, Issues, News, Obamacare

What has always amazed me about Democrat policies is that they feign outrage over the need to implement them, even though they have already been championed by both parties, and have produced negative results.  Government has already invested in crony capitalism and has already micro-managed every sector of the economy; from higher education to agriculture, health care, and energy.  Many of these policies have been supported by administrations and congresses controlled by both parties.  And they have driven up costs; not lowered them.  For goodness sake, that’s why we are still debating these problems decades after those very policies have been implemented.

Obama’s speech was the same stale central-planning and class warfare, not just from his older speeches, but from every Democrat speech this century.

Every line of the speech is not grounded in reality; it would take copious pages to rebut.  Here is just the policy side from some lines and the summary of his plan that was sent out to the media:

If you choose this path, we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone.

So after 4 years of shutting down oil drilling, nuclear power, blocking the pipeline, and the war on coal, we will suddenly cut oil imports in half?  The sad thing is that Obama is not lying.  He will cut net imports in half; not by producing more oil, but by shutting down our economy and mandating the usage of ineffectual phantom fuels, such as ethanol, wood chips, switch grass, algae, and horse manure.

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Democrats Exposed Naked on God and Jerusalem

Thursday, September 6th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Foreign Policy

The real momentous news at the DNC yesterday was not Bill Clinton’s Clintonian speech.  It was the imbroglio over God and Jerusalem in the party’s platform, when party leaders were forced to reinsert references to God and Jerusalem to the dismay of the party faithful.   Here are a few points to consider:

1)      The two parties are a mirror image of each other in terms of the dichotomy between the party establishment and the grassroots.  Just like we wanted the Republican Party platform to reflect our beliefs, the Democrat grassroots wanted a platform to reflect their beliefs.  They don’t believe in God and they don’t believe in the Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem.  Period. The fact that the party establishment, which is more sensitive to public opinion, decided to force God and Jerusalem back into the platform does not change the pulse of the party’s grassroots.  The booing during the rules change only confirms this.

2)      Unlike the Republican Party establishment, Democrat establishment figures are not moderate; they are just more responsive to public pressure.  The platform amendments were not the result of an oversight or a technical error.  They supported these planks in the platform, as they are a clear reflection of Obama’s policies.  They were simply taken aback by the public outrage, and made those adjustments accordingly.  Remember how Obama underestimated the degree of blowback he would incur from his Middle East speech calling on Israel to retreat to pre-’67 borders.

3)      Despite the reports that Obama personally interceded on behalf of reinstating Jerusalem into the platform, it doesn’t change his views on the issue.  He is maniacally focused on his Palestinian friends to the extent that he has personally called out Israel for constructing apartments in long-established Jerusalem neighborhoods.  Biden ripped Netanyahu for the construction while he was visiting Israel.  Obama has also made it clear that he will never move the embassy to Jerusalem.

Besides, as Politico reports, Obama saw the language before it was originally approved.  Yet, in an effort to save Obama, Politico modified their original article. (H/T Big Government)

Additionally, the updated platform doesn’t exactly sound like a firm commitment on Jerusalem:

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