The Ronald Reagan Foreign Policy Legacy Distorted
Peter Wehner writes: One of the more amusing things to see in journalism is for committed liberals who didn’t work for Ronald Reagan, who didn’t vote for Ronald Reagan and who were fiercely critical of Ronald Reagan to invoke his name in order to instruct conservatives on how to better understand Ronald Reagan.
“J. Dionne, Jr. of the Washington Post…argues in his column that Barack Obama’s Iran strategy parallels Reagan’s approach to Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s. In fact, the lessons are exactly the opposite.”
The most recent example of this is E. J. Dionne, Jr. of the Washington Post, who argues in his column that Barack Obama’s Iran strategy parallels Reagan’s approach to Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s. In fact, the lessons are exactly the opposite.
“Both Reagan nor Thatcher were able to revise their assumptions based on new facts, new actors on the world stage, and new opportunities. They were not dogmatists. Mr. Obama, on the other hand, most assuredly is.”
For all the criticisms of the left against Reagan that he was a rigid ideologue, he was, in fact, a man who was quite willing and able to adjust his views in light of shifting circumstances. That is precisely what he and Margaret Thatcher did in the case of Mr. Gorbachev.
“Barack Obama is all about trust and completely indifferent to verify. The president was determined to strike a deal with Iran, any deal, for the sake of a deal. The Iranians, knowing this, were able to win one concession after another from the president.”
To their credit, both Reagan and Thatcher were dedicated anti-Communists. They understood the evil nature of the Soviet regime and they took a hard-line stance against it for most of their careers. But equally to their credit, they saw that Gorbachev was someone with whom, in Thatcher’s words in 1984, “We can do business together.” And they did. Both Reagan nor Thatcher were able to revise their assumptions based on new facts, new actors on the world stage, and new opportunities. They were not dogmatists.
“Mr. Reagan negotiated from a position of strength and operated within the four corners of reality; Mr. Obama negotiates from a position of weakness and operates in a world of his own imagination.”
Mr. Obama, on the other hand, most assuredly is. He has been ideologically committed to a rapprochement with Iran even before he was elected president; it has been his foreign policy holy grail for his entire tenure. Nothing was going to keep him from striking a bargain with which he was obsessed. (It explains in part why the president was so passive during the Green Revolution in 2009, essentially siding with the Iranian regime over the democratic movement seeking to topple it.)
And here’s a key difference between Reagan and Thatcher and Obama. The former revised their approach based on an accurate assessment of Gorbachev and, therefore, the Soviet regime he ruled. Read the rest of this entry »
SMIDGEN REPORT UPDATE: Improper Payments by Federal Agencies Reach World Record Cuckoo Bananas $125 BILLIONPosted: March 17, 2015
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal agencies set a new record for improper payments last year, shelling out $125 billion in questionable benefits after years of declines.
The payments included tax credits for families that didn’t qualify, Medicare payments for treatments that might not have been necessary, and unemployment benefits for people who were actually working.
“This taxpayer money was not spent securing our borders, it was not spent on national defense, and it was not spent contributing to a safety net for those in need.”
— Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Improper payments increased by $19 billion over the previous year, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. In addition to fraud, the errors included overpayments and underpayments, as well as payments made without proper documentation.
“This is a problem that is going to get worse year after year if we do not get a handle on it now.”
— Sen. Ron Johnson
While the errors were spread among 22 federal agencies, three programs stood out: Medicare, Medicaid and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Together, the three programs accounted for more than $93 billion in improper payments.
“This taxpayer money was not spent securing our borders, it was not spent on national defense, and it was not spent contributing to a safety net for those in need,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. “This is a problem that is going to get worse year after year if we do not get a handle on it now.”
Johnson’s committee held a hearing Monday on reducing improper payments.
Federal agencies are required to estimate the amount of improper payments each year as part of a government-wide effort to tackle the issue. Read the rest of this entry »
For the uninitiated, the EITC is a refundable tax credit for low to moderate-income individuals and families. An individual or family does not have to pay taxes to qualify for the credit, but must file a tax return.
According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the Internal Revenue Service’s rate of improper EITC payments for fiscal year 2012 was between 21 to 25 percent. That year, EITC payments totaled $62 billion.
Since 2009, the Fair Labor Standards Act has dictated that the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Some people think that’s too low; others think it’s too high. But it turns out that, in 35 states, it’s a better deal not to work—and instead, to take advantage of federal welfare programs—than to take a minimum-wage job. That’s the takeaway from a new study published by Michael Tanner and Charles Hughes of the Cato Institute.
America’s public-assistance system pays many people better than the jobs they’d otherwise have.
Suppose someone offered you the same amount of money that you currently make at your job on one condition — you don’t work. Might you be tempted? That is exactly the deal that our welfare system offers too many people today.
The federal government currently funds 126 separate anti-poverty programs at an annual cost of $688 billion. Of these, 72 provide cash or other benefits directly to poor families. State, county, and municipal governments often operate additional benefit programs. The combined benefits from those multiple overlapping programs can easily add up to the point where welfare simply pays better than work.