Sum Kind of Wonderful
February 08, 2013 - Friday
"Nobody said cutting spending would be easy," said Senator Mitch McConnell. And Democrats are about to find out why. After having their way with the GOP on the tax and borrowing debates, the Left's bluff may finally be called. With Congress 20 days away from an $85 billion budget shave (the first year's worth of the total $965 billion "sequester"), the President is scrambling to push off the automatic cuts that were his own idea! Like most liberals, President Obama was banking on the fact that Republicans would never allow the deep cuts to the Pentagon budget to materialize. So he set a trap--a March 1 deadline for the first wave of cutbacks to hit.
What he didn't count on is a newly austere GOP. But after swallowing $650 billion in tax hikes and watching the Obama administration pile up $5.9 trillion in debt, conservatives are ready to do just about anything to get America's fiscal house in order--even if it means blowing a massive hole in the Defense budget. If the President won't come to the table and cut spending, then the GOP will let the automatic cuts do it for him. But now that the tables are turned, Democrats are racing to replace the sequester cuts with a different plan. Of course, the problem is that the Left wants more tax hikes to be a part of it. "We want to make sure that the wealthy and well-connected continue to, you know, to be part of the solution right now," which is just Sen. Debbie Stabenow's way of saying that it's time for successful Americans (who were just hit by the January tax deal) to pony up more.
Unfortunately for Stabenow, Democrats aren't exactly in the best negotiating position. Republican leaders have made it clear that they've compromised enough--and now it's the Democrats' turn. "President Obama first proposed the sequester and insisted it become law," Speaker John Boehner told reporters. "Republicans have twice voted to replace these arbitrary cuts with common-sense cuts and reforms that protect our national defense. We believe there is a better way to reduce the deficit, but Americans do not support sacrificing real spending cuts for more tax hikes."
Now that his plan has backfired, President Obama is trying to rally Congress around a short-term deal that would head-off the automatic cuts--and a conversation about meaningful reform. On Tuesday, he hinted at his party's vulnerability. "If Congress can't... get a bigger package done by the time the sequester is scheduled to go into effect, then I believe that they should at least pass a smaller package of spending cuts and tax reforms that would delay the economically damaging effects of the sequester for a few more months." Ironically, that "smaller package" is being hatched in the Senate, which must be rusty after four years of not producing a budget.
In the meantime, Michael Tanner at NRO put together a pretty compelling case on the GOP's strategy. His column, "Don't Fear the Sequester," points out that while the military cuts would be devastating, there will hardly be starving children in the streets on March 1, as President Obama seems to imply. In reality, the sequester only trims about 2.6% of projected spending over the next 10 years. "[E]ven if the sequester goes through, the federal government will spend $2.14 trillion more in 2022 than it does today...When you consider that the federal government borrows $85 billion [the same amount cut on March 1] every 28 days, it's hard to call the sequester draconian." Not to mention that entitlement spending, the Democrats' first love, would barely be touched.
As hard as sequestration would be, doing nothing will be even worse. In my conversations with Republican leadership, it's obvious that they understand what's at stake. Drawing a line in the sand will be difficult in the short-term, but this is necessary for the long-term solvency of the nation. They have the upper hand--now it's time to follow through. "Now that we've successfully changed the battlefield," Speaker Boehner told members, "it's time to fight the battle. And we need to fight it together."
Networks Speechless on SPLC-Shooting Connection
If you missed yesterday's story, the Southern Poverty Law Center was exposed in the shooting at FRC last August, when the FBI submitted evidence to the court that Floyd Corkins used SPLC's website to identify us as a target. And while the mainstream media (the same one that accused Sarah Palin of inspiring Gabrielle Giffords's shooting) has been mum on SPLC's role, conservatives from Rush Limbaugh to Michelle Malkin are beating a steady drum on the Left's hypocrisy. FRC's own General Jerry Boykin was on the "700 Club" with Pat Robertson this morning to talk about the reckless labeling of SPLC and how it nearly led to mass murder at the FRC office. To watch the video, click below. Also, don't miss the column of one of FRC's former interns, Anna Maria Hoffman, who was in the building during the shooting. She writes about that harrowing experience in "SPLC Labeling FRC as a 'Hate Group' Endangered My Life."
Judge Not: Conservatives Fight Pick for First Circuit
With drones, blizzards, and police shootings dominating the headlines, not much has been made of the Senate's debate over judicial nominees. Yesterday, over the objection of conservative groups, the Judiciary Committee agreed to send William Kayatta to the full Senate. Originally, Kayatta's nomination had been held in the Senate, but earlier this year, President Obama renominated him to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. With the help of fellow Mainer Sen. Susan Collins (R), Kayatta's nomination now heads to the Senate floor, where FRC plans to score his confirmation vote. (We only score the most critical votes and include them on our legislative scorecard.)
As a member of the American College of Trial Layers (ACTL), Kayatta lobbied to abolish judicial elections (like the Iowa retention vote that ousted three judges for legalizing same-sex "marriage"). This disregard for accountability is seen in his ABA report on Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, where he defends her controversial decision to ban military recruiters from Harvard Law and gratuitously rates her as "Well Qualified" despite the fact that she didn't meet even the minimum standards set by the ABA. In one paper for ACTL, Kayatta argued that tying judicial salaries to congressional salaries is unfair and that judges should be paid more than Senators and Members of Congress as they "are supposed to be the brightest of us, the most fair and compassionate of us."
While the Constitution calls for an independent judiciary, Kayatta's judicial philosophy goes well beyond this, showing a clear preference for an unaccountable, activist, judicial elite, insulated from checks and balances. Contact your senators and ask them to follow Sen. Jeff Sessions's (R-Ala.) lead in opposing William Kayatta.
** Our good friend Congressman Randy Forbes has a great op-ed in today's Washington Times about the climate of hostility toward faith in our nation, "America's New Government-Imposed Religion." Don't miss it!