Mid-Term Elections - A Leftist's View...And A Fisking

It isn't often I get to fisk someone's post on another blog. It's rare I get to do so twice in as many weeks. It's even rarer when I get to do it to the same blogger. I am going to enjoy this.

A Warning: This is a lengthy post.

Our friend Paulina, an occasional commenter here at WP, has posted about her confusion in regards to the upcoming elections. Let's help clear up her confusion, shall we?

The midterms are almost upon us, and the latest polls show Republicans overall ahead by 10%. As it stands now, Dems will probably keep the Senate majority (51 to 49) but the House is up for grabs. This is sad news indeed. And to be honest, I don't entirely understand the reason why Republicans are favored. So here is my post about why Dems are better than Republicans for the future of this country. (But mostly it's me being really mad).

She doesn't understand why Republicans are favored? Hmm. I think I can explain that easily – The people are tired of being ripped off by a spendthrift, thieving government filled with people who really don't really give a rat's ass about the American people except how to exploit them (and their money). Not only that, but Americans are tired of being condescended to by those very same people in government who have never had to meet a payroll, don't understand what it's like to run a business, and truly believe they are far better qualified to run our lives than we are.

Better yet I can explain it in fewer words: The government doesn't have a clue what the American people are really like or what they want, which is primarily to be left alone. Certainly the Democrats, including the President, don't understand this. They stopped listening to the American people once they got into office. That's why they'll likely be on the losing end of the mid-term elections.

The last line sums up a lot of her problem: she's emoting rather than actually thinking.

The economy and jobs situation in the US is still pretty sh***y. Unemployment rates are high, banks that profited from the bailout aren't lending, corporations are turning a profit but not hiring. Little guy on the street gets screwed. Surely this is bad, but has everyone forgotten WHY we are in this mess???? Did we forget the Bush tax cuts and pointless wars that depleted the treasury? Did we forget the deregulation of the banks that allowed this entire subprime-mortgage/housing bubble, economy-downturn thing to happen in the first place?

She'll get no argument from me about the economy and unemployment, but I'm not buying her explanation.

The Bush tax cuts weren't a contributing factor to the deficits. It was Congress's profligate spending that was the biggest factor. After the tax cuts the economy grew and with it, tax revenues. Revenues were the highest they've ever been. But Congress increased spending faster than the revenues grew.

Business may be making profits but they aren't hiring for a very good and sound business reason: Obama's hostility towards business and Congressional efforts to slap even more taxes, more regulations, and more onerous (and expensive) programs on them. Until they know what the effects of all of them will be they aren't likely to invest in expanding their businesses. Why should they when it's highly likely they'll be punished by the government for their efforts? Talk about a disincentive!

I'd like to know what deregulation of the banks she's talking about. It certainly didn't happen during the Bush Administration. Maybe she means the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 during the Clinton Administration? The act separated commercial banks from investment banks. The repeal allowed a the merging of the two, which in turn led to some of the problems we saw in the collapse of the housing bubble.

Also, the so-called pointless wars were a small percentage of the overall deficit. Afghanistan was not a pointless war. The Taliban were supporting and hiding Al Qaeda, refusing to hand them over after 9/11. They gave aid and comfort to the enemy. That were given the opportunity to avoid war. They refused. We obliged them and with the help of the Northern Alliance, threw the murdering medieval bastards out.

Iraq was merely the continuation of the original Gulf War – Saddam had continuously violated the terms of the cease fire agreement since shortly after the Gulf War , so hostilities resumed. (Yes, I know it's simplistic, but in the end that's what it boils down to.)

The bail out and taxes deserve their own little paragraph. Republican's bailed out the banks (upper class). Democrats bailed out the car industry (middle class). Bush cut taxes for the rich (still in effect!), Obama cut taxes for the low/middle class AND is trying to cut taxes for small business which the Republicans in Congress are blocking. And don't even get me started on all the shit the Republicans blocked these past few years, including health coverage for 9/11 rescue workers! And they are upset about a community center!??!?!?

Ah, I can see her memory has again failed her. Blaming the Republicans for the bank bailouts? Really? Too bad it was the Democrats who pulled that off. Yes, Bush may have been in office, but the Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate. If they really didn't want to bail out the banks, then why did they pass the legislation? They had more than enough votes to kill it. Could it be because the legislation that created the bailout – H.R. 1424 - was sponsored by Representative Patrick J. Kennedy, a Democrat? Naw, that couldn't be it. It must have been the evil thought-control rays used by the GOP to get the Democrats to do their bidding.

In regards to the auto industry “bailout”, again her memory fails her. It wasn't so much a bailout as it was a government takeover of GM and Chrysler, using over $60 billion of taxpayer money to short circuit the usual Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, bypass established bankruptcy law, rip off the bondholders (mostly mutual funds owned by pension and retirement funds) who should have been first in line for redress, and instead handed over bondholder funds to the UAW. That's right, the UAW, the same folks that helped force GM and Chrysler into Chapter 11.

Another memory failure? Obama cut taxes for the lower and middle classes when? Did I miss that? I recall something as part of the stimulus program that temporarily rebated income taxes. In other words they were tax credits, not tax cuts, and those 'cuts' will have to be paid back. And how did he cut taxes for low income people who weren't paying taxes? No one has been able to answer that question for me yet. About the only tax 'cut' that comes to mind is the annual adjustment to the trigger level that forces taxpayers to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax. That's nothing new.

I know Obama has proposed tax incentives for small businesses (which is not the same thing as tax cuts), but I am not aware of any actual tax cuts. (I would know as my wife and I are small business owners and we haven't heard squat about any tax cuts that would affect us in any way, shape, or form.)

And those tax incentives? Any idea what they are? I do. They are basically tax credits for hiring new employees. Like that's going to work. Businesses won't hire employees unless they have work for them to do. The tax credits won't even come close to covering the actual cost of adding more employees. They certainly won't induce my wife or I to hire anyone. We can barely cover our payroll, bills, rent, and other expenses as it is. Another employee will end up putting us in the red, even with the tax credit.

All this shows is that the President and his financial advisors haven't got a clue about why businesses hire new employees. And let's not get into the new taxes and fees that will be leveled on small businesses under the provisions of ObamaCare.

As far as “ all the shit the Republicans blocked these past few years, including health coverage for 9/11 rescue workers”, Paulina had better look at the legislation that was supposed to do that. It included so many riders and amendments that would allow waste, fraud, and a whole host of new entitlements that had nothing to do with 9/11 rescue workers and victims that it became an odious piece of legislation. If all it had done was address the health coverage as originally intended the GOP would probably have signed on. But it didn't. Shame on the Democrats for trying to use such a sleazy tactic to ramrod through pet projects and money wasting programs that wouldn't have stood a chance of passing any other way.

Here is a little list of the Dems major accomplishments lately from USA today:

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: The $862 billion "stimulus bill" invested in transportation and energy projects, tax cuts and education grants.

Oh, yeah, that's been such a big success. The only problem is that less than $55 billion has been allocated to infrastructure (building or repairing roads, bridges, and railways; water and sewer systems; electrical distribution and generations systems; communications [broadband access]; etc.), things that will be needed when the economy recovers. (Alternative energy and efficiency upgrades for homes, government buildings, and commercial facilities were not included in the total above.) What about the other $823 billion in stimulus funds? Wasted on unimportant things as far as I can see.

Affordable Health Care for America Act: The law $940 billion in the first 10 years will create new health care exchanges, expand insurance coverage to 32 million people who have gone without, close gaps in Medicare prescription-drug coverage and forbid insurance companies from rejecting people for pre-existing conditions.

This was an abominable piece of legislation that will cost hundreds of billions more than Congress has projected and provide nothing but substandard health care. How can anyone have voted for this piece of crap without knowing what was actually in it? That's insanity. It should not have passed as written because it has so many hidden and buried costs, obligations, and outright unconstitutional provisions that it should be scrapped in its entirety. Congress should start with a clean sheet of paper and try again, this time with complete transparency and true bipartisanship (not the “Sit down, shut up, and vote the way we tell you!” kind of bipartisanship as practiced by the Democrats in Congress) and with ideas that will actually work without destroying our health care system. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “We have the worst health care system...except for all the others.”

One of the first things that should have been done is tort reform. Without that the rest is moot. Doctors are forced to practice defensive medicine, which costs money, rather than actually working to treat their patients. Can anyone blame them? Who wants to be sued because they didn't perform all the tests to back up their diagnosis or because a patient demands extra tests? So the doctors cave and perform the extra tests to gather evidence in case they're sued for malpractice. That's no way to practice medicine. Unfortunately it's far too common.

It must also be remembered that every time government adds health insurance mandates, it costs money to provide those new services. They aren't free.

Oh, and one last thing: It will take 10 years worth of revenues to pay for 6 years worth of benefits. How do we pay for the following 6 years of benefits? No one has explained that yet.

The HIRE Act: A jobs bill that provided $18 billion in tax breaks for small businesses to spur hiring and $20 billion for transit and highways programs.

I already covered that above, so I don't need to go into it again.

Auto companies bailout: Billions of dollars in government loans to struggling Detroit automakers Chrysler, General Motors and GMAC.

I also covered that, too. Basically, it was a ripoff of the bondholders and a payoff to the UAW. They should have followed the law in regards to the bankruptcies.

But it adds to the deficit people complain! Where were your complaints when Bush was waging a ludicrously expensive war in Iraq for NO REASON???? And it was off the books too! The 3 trillion dollars, that's TRILLION DOLLARS spent by using emergency approrpriation bills rather than putting it on a budget. That's 12 billion a month in Iraq, 16 billion a month if include Afghanistan. And why? Because Saddam Hussein oppressed his people? Do the oppressed people in Sudan, North Korea and Iran not count? Shall we go around liberating everyone? And why is it more important than the unemployed of THIS country???

Excuse me? $3 trillion dollars for the war in Iraq? Where the hell did she come up with that piece of crap number? Thin air? Or maybe HuffPo? Oh, wait, it was the Washington Post! Of course. That was her first mistake.

The Congressional Budget Office says otherwise. (The CBO may not be all that great in estimating the future costs of various pieces of legislation, but it does a pretty good job tabulating actual costs based upon real and verifiable numbers.) According to the CBO, the cost of Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003 – 2010) was $709 billion, which covers military and related activities (diplomatic operations and training of Iraqi security forces, including its army), but does not cover costs of State Department/USAID operations and programs. (The full CBO report can be found here, but will require a little arithmetic to separate out the costs of operations in Afghanistan and some Homeland Security operations.)

As the Fox piece linked above notes, the cost of the Iraq War is less than that of the $878 billion stimulus program.

Paulina asks why we got involved in Iraq. First she needs to be reminded of some history.

The Gulf War, which took place in January and February of 1991, ended with a cease fire agreement between the UN Coalition Forces and Saddam Hussein. It was not a surrender. It was not a truce. It was not an absolute end of hostilities. There were conditions both sides agreed to in order to maintain the cease fire. The ink was barely dry on the agreement before Saddam violated it. He continued to do so for another 12 years.

After the Gulf War UN inspectors inventoried Iraqi weapons stores, including chemical weapons and their delivery systems. 10 years later no trace of the previously counted chemical weapons could be found. Saddam had no records of what he had done with them. Intelligence services of a number of countries, including those hostile towards the US, reported Saddam still had the weapons in direct violation of a number of UN Security Council directives. The last one, UNSCR 1441, gave Saddam and ultimatum: divulge the whereabouts of those weapons or face the consequences. He chose the latter.

It wasn't until after Saddam had been captured and interrogated that we learned that he gamed the intelligence services, making it seem like he still had the weapons in order to keep Iran in check. It was a bluff that backfired on him.

Then there is the whole Obama is a Muslim thing, or he respects Muslim people more than he does his own citizens (latest Newsweek poll says most Republicans believe this s**t). Can someone tell me why this belief is so popular? I mean obviously I know why, because of our brain washed fox watching population who think that what Glenn Beck and O'Reilly tell them is fact. Sure Obama tried to mend relations with some Muslim leaders after we killed over 100,000 Iraqi people for NO REASON, but that's just good manners really.

Part of it could be his actions, where he shows deference to Muslim beliefs even when they are in contradiction to American sensibilities.

He bowed submissively to the King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, something no head of state should ever do unless he is showing submission to the King, ruler of the seat of Islam. (If it was done in error, a protocol gaffe, then the protocol officer should have been fired, particularly because this was the second gaffe Obama has made. His first was bowing to the Emperor of Japan as if he were an inferior.) It could be his cool demeanor when it comes to America and his statements that more than imply he thinks he needs to constantly apologize to the rest of the world for American exceptionalism and his less than enthusiastic endorsement of American ideals...except when he's on the campaign trail.

It could be his weak denials about his anti-Americanism in light of his 20 years attending a church that has preached black liberation theology, racism, and anti-Americanism, and his all too cozy relationship with self-avowed and unapologetic Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayer and Bernadine Dohrn.

And we did not kill 100,000 Iraqi people for no reason. It was war, and in war people die. We were careful as compared to past wars. If we had prosecuted the war like we did World War II we would have reduced every Iraqi city and town to rubble with continuous aerial bombing and artillery. There wouldn't have been 100,000 deaths (a number that so far hasn't been confirmed). It would have been millions dead.

So someone please tell me why we would want to go back to the days of reckless spending, invasion of privacy (Patriot Act anyone?) and endless [cronyism] that was the Republican majority rule?

Go back to the days of reckless spending? Say WHAT?! Obviously she hasn't been paying attention to what the Obama Administration and the 110th and 111th Congress has been spending. When Obama's first budget deficit was bigger than all of Bush's combined, that's reckless spending. The Democrats decry Bush's deficit spending in one breath and then quadruple down on it with the next. So in their minds it comes down to this: Republican deficit = bad. Democrat deficit = good. Or to put it in financial terms only the Left understands: $1.2 trillion in deficit spending over eight years is far worse than $2.4 trillion in 2 years (I am including the $600 billion deficit that was part of the Democrats “continuing resolution” sleight of hand at the end of Bush's eighth year). Or to restate it, Bush's deficits totaled a little over $600 billion in 7 years. That's less than $86 billion in deficit spending per year. So far the Democrat majority Congress has managed $1.2 trillion per year in deficit spending.

What do we have to show for it?

A chronic unemployment rate of almost 10%, increasing mortgage foreclosures, a contracting business climate, banks afraid to lend, entrepreneurs afraid to invest, businesses and consumers holding on to cash in case things get worse, and a spendthrift President and Congress that have come to believe that if they need more money they can just take it from the rich. The problem is that very shortly “rich” will be defined as “anyone with a job.”

There's something else they will learn the hard way: Eventually they will run out of other people's money to pay for all their programs and social engineering efforts.

When the Obama Administration states it wants more control of things like the Internet, political speech (the DISCLOSE Act), and use selective enforcement of the law to allow groups like the New Black Panther Party to intimidate voters and groups like ACORN to commit massive voter fraud, the Patriot Act is a minor distraction in comparison. (While I agree that a number of provisions of the Patriot Act are unconstitutional, it seems Obama and Congress want to do away with the First Amendment and make sure the only ones who will have freedom of speech are those who agree with them.)

If you want to get into crony capitalism, one only needs to look at what the present Congress and the White House have done, decrying it on one hand but practicing it to a level not seen since the old Tammany Hall days. (They make the Bush Administration look like pikers in comparison.) Obama and Congress are deciding who the winners and losers will be (GM, Chrysler, the UAW, the oil industry, etc, etc, etc.) rather than letting market forces decide. Neither Congress or the President are smart enough or wise enough to make that decision. They never have been, even going back to the days of President George Washington. But at least Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, and the rest understood that.

Republicans taking control of the House and maybe even the Senate would not be the worst thing that could happen. The worst thing that could happen would be maintaining the status quo, with an out-of-touch Democrat-controlled Congress and a clueless, incompetent, and arrogant President spending the US into oblivion while the Left cheers them on.