‘Republicans are the Taliban of the USA’: Congressional Shooter was Bernie Sanders Supporter, Leaned Slightly Anti-TrumpPosted: June 14, 2017
(CNN) Jose Pagliery reports: James T. Hodgkinson, the man identified as shooting a Republican member of congress and four others on Wednesday morning, was a small business owner in Illinois who defined himself publicly by his firm support of Bernie Sanders‘ progressive politics — and his hatred of conservatives and President Donald Trump.
This is based on CNN’s review of Hodgkinson’s Facebook profile, public records, and three years of impassioned letters to his local newspaper.
“Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.” he posted on his personal Facebook page on March 22.
“Republicans are the Taliban of the USA,” he posted in February.
Hodgkinson, 66, was married and lived in Belleville, Illinois. He started his own company, JTH Inspections, in 1994 and conducted home inspections and mold/air quality testing. But he quit that job on New Year’s Eve last year, according to his Facebook profile.
Federal law enforcement identified Hodgkinson as the shooter who attacked Rep. Steve Scalise, a congressional staffer and members of the congressional police force, Wednesday morning in Alexandria, Virginia. President Donald Trump said the gunman had been killed.
His online presence was largely defined by his politics. For example, his public Facebook posts date back to 2012 and are nearly all about his support for leftist politics. He was passionate about tax hikes on the rich and universal health care.
In the last year, most of his Facebook posts consisted of signed petitions on Change.org with titles like: “Bernie — please run no matter what;” “Hillary Rodham Clinton should concede the nomination to Bernie Sanders;” and “Healthcare for all Americans.” Read the rest of this entry »
Small businesses employ over 57 million Americans. And yet, the government’s taxes and regulations overwhelmingly favor big businesses at the expense of small ones. Why? Find out in this short video.This video is part of a collaborative business and economics project with Job Creators Network and Information Station. To learn more, visit informationstation.org.
The free market needs and deserves a moral defense.
[VIDEO] Charles Krauthammer on Trump Budget Proposal: Cuts Dead on Arrival, Entitlements Are What MatterPosted: March 17, 2017
Charles Krauthammer dismissed Trump’s budget as “dead on arrival” and pointed out that entitlements are what matter, even if proposed cuts focus on domestic discretionary spending such as public broadcasting:
“This is a budget, like every other one I’ve seen in decades that I’ve been here, it is dead on arrival at Capitol Hill. Capitol Hill is a huge morgue of presidential budgets. There is not one that actually croaked into life. They all come in dead. They are wish lists. They are expressions of one’s interests, and a way to respond to promises. The beginning of this, the premise of this is defense. In the eight years under Obama, we had a real destruction of the defense budget. Obama came in, it was about 4.6 percent of GDP. When he left, it was 3.2 percent. To put it in context, under the sainted John Kennedy it was around 10 percent. We are at the lowest ebb since about Pearl Harbor, and you can see it in the readiness, so that had to be done.”
“All the real stuff, where the money is — the Willie Sutton bank money — is in entitlements, which isn’t even in here. The problem is it’s not in here because we’ve got a president who promised in the campaign, unlike just about every other Republican opponent, he wasn’t going to touch a hair on the head of entitlements. So if you don’t, it all has to come out of the domestic discretionary spending, and when you do that, you end up with these cuts which are never going to happen, and you get the old perennials. Big Bird is going to get roasted again, or at least proposed to be. I guarantee you, he will or she will — I’m not sure which it is these days — it is going to escape unscathed.”
Source: National Review
Charles Krauthammer said that Trump’s tax-return reveal was only favorable for him, and went on to argue that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer hurt his own cause by stridently criticizing the president.
Organizing for Action, a group founded by Obama and featured prominently on his new post-presidency website, is distributing a training manual to anti-Trump activists that advises them to bully GOP lawmakers into backing off support for repealing ObamaCare, curbing immigration from high-risk Islamic nations, and building a border wall.
Paul Sperry reports: An Obama-tied activist group training tens of thousands of agitators to protest President Trump’s policies plans to hit Republican lawmakers supporting those policies even harder this week, when they return home for the congressional recess and hold town hall meetings and other functions.
“A script advises callers to complain: ‘I’m honestly scared that a known racist and anti-Semite will be working just feet from the Oval Office … It is everyone’s business if a man who promoted white supremacy is serving as an adviser to the president.’”
Organizing for Action, a group founded by Obama and featured prominently on his new post-presidency website, is distributing a training manual to anti-Trump activists that advises them to bully GOP lawmakers into backing off support for repealing ObamaCare, curbing immigration from high-risk Islamic nations, and building a border wall.
“The goal is to make Republicans, even from safe districts, second-guess their support for the Trump agenda.”
In a new Facebook post, OFA calls on activists to mobilize against Republicans from now until Feb. 26, when “representatives are going to be in their home districts.”
The protesters disrupted town halls earlier this month, including one held in Utah by House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, who was confronted by hundreds of angry demonstrators claiming to be his constituents.
The manual, published with OFA partner “Indivisible,” advises protesters to go into halls quietly so as not to raise alarms, and “grab seats at the front of the room but do not all sit together.” Rather, spread out in pairs to make it seem like the whole room opposes the Republican host’s positions. “This will help reinforce the impression of broad consensus.” It also urges them to ask “hostile” questions — while keeping “a firm hold on the mic” — and loudly boo the the GOP politician if he isn’t “giving you real answers.”
“Express your concern [to the event’s hosts] they are giving a platform to pro-Trump authoritarianism, racism, and corruption,” it says.
“The manual, published with OFA partner ‘Indivisible,’ advises protesters to go into halls quietly so as not to raise alarms, and “grab seats at the front of the room but do not all sit together.’ Rather, spread out in pairs to make it seem like the whole room opposes the Republican host’s positions. ‘This will help reinforce the impression of broad consensus.’”
The goal is to make Republicans, even from safe districts, second-guess their support for the Trump agenda, and to prime “the ground for the 2018 midterms when Democrats retake power.”
“It also urges them to ask ‘hostile’ questions — while keeping ‘a firm hold on the mic’ — and loudly boo the the GOP politician if he isn’t ‘giving you real answers.’”
“Even the safest [Republican] will be deeply alarmed by signs of organized opposition,” the document states, “because these actions create the impression that they’re not connected to their district and not listening to their constituents.”
After the event, protesters are advised to feed video footage to local and national media. Read the rest of this entry »
Legacy: Barack Obama came into the White House in 2009 promising a “new era of responsibility.” What he’s left President Trump is a government careening toward fiscal ruin.That’s what the latest report from the Congressional Budget Office shows.
The CBO report looks at what federal spending and revenues will look like over the next decade if the government is left on autopilot. The picture is grim.
Deficits this year are expected to be $559 billion. By 2023, the government will once again be running trillion-dollar annual deficits that will quickly climb in the following years.
Left unchanged, the national debt will worsen by an additional $10 trillion in a decade, equaling almost 90% of the economy.
And that’s despite the fact that, thanks to Obama’s multiple tax increases, revenues are on track to consume more than 18% of the nation’s economy, which is a full percentage point above the average since 1967.
Spending, however, is completely out of control. It’s set to climb from 20.5% of GDP next year to 23.4% by 2027. The post-1967 average was 20%.
ObamaCare subsidies alone will, according to the CBO, climb 22% this year and 20% the next — thanks to the massive increase in premiums. This cost explosion is in addition to the vast increase in Medicaid spending ObamaCare already generated. And it’s all on top of fast-growing Social Security and Medicare, both of which are rapidly headed toward insolvency.
Perhaps the biggest driver of future deficits, however, is the incredibly sluggish economy the CBO expects current economic policies to produce. Read the rest of this entry »
The drapes were a change from the crimson drapes former President Obama had in his Oval Office, the Hill reported.
The change was first spotted as Trump signed executive orders on Obamacare and other things as his initial major acts as President. Read the rest of this entry »
THE BIG IDEA: President Trump completed his hostile takeover of the Republican Party last July, and on Friday he completed his hostile, if temporary, takeover of Washington.
In some significant ways, Trump is more like a corporate raider of the 1980s, when he came of age, than a typical politician of 2017. Thirty years ago, Gordon Gekko might have been more likely to deliver the speech that the billionaire businessman did today than Ronald Reagan.
No president has ever before referred to “the establishment” in his inaugural address nor declared that every country in the world ought to pursue its own self-interest. But the guy who ended the Bush dynasty and then vanquished the Clinton machine, in a period of 17 months, put “the establishment” of both parties on notice once more.
“For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost,” he said, as leaders from each side of the aisle looked on stoically. “The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. … What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.” Read the rest of this entry »
“His presidency, if the path is any indication, it is going to be nothing like previous presidencies. The direct communication with the public through Twitter, the lack of political correctness, the idea that he would make new foreign policy off the cuff in a transition period. The transition was the most remarkable I have ever seen. I mean, he became essentially the president and was acting like one. He made the dollar slip just a couple days ago with a single tweet.”
Sara Gonzales reports: The Washington Post marked the end of the Obama administration with a list Thursday that likely didn’t please the outgoing president’s supporters.
For the last five years, the Post has made its political Fact Checker a staple of the publication. Ranked by “Pinocchios,” contenders receive one Pinocchio for a little lie and can earn up to four Pinocchios for the most outrageous of fibs.
Though the Post ran its trademark Fact Checker during President Barack Obama’s first campaign, it wasn’t until 2011 that it became a fixture there, so admittedly the publication missed some blatant dishonesty.
But the newspaper has fact-checked more than 250 statements made by the current president. On his last full day in office, the Post published a catalogue of Obama’s 10 biggest lies.
Included on the list, unsurprisingly, was Obama’s statement to the American public while rallying for Congress to pass his signature health-care legislation, Obamacare: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”
“If you like your health-care plan, you can keep it”
This memorable promise by Obama backfired on him in 2013 when the Affordable Care Act went into effect and at least 2 million Americans started receiving cancellation notices. As we explained, part of the reason for so many cancellations is because of an unusually early (March 23, 2010) cutoff date for grandfathering plans — and because of tight regulations written by the administration. So the uproar could be pinned directly on the administration’s own actions.
Another whopper was Obama’s claim that all but 10 percent of the federal deficit was due to former President George W. Bush’s policies. Pushing back against criticisms of running up the deficit at an unparalleled rate with stimulus packages and bailouts, Obama made this claim during his 2012 campaign.
“90 percent of the budget deficit is due to George W. Bush’s policies”
During the 2012 campaign, Obama repeatedly reminded voters that he became president during a grim economic crisis. But he went too far when he claimed that only 10 percent of the federal deficit was due to his own policies. About half of the deficit stemmed from the recession and forecasting errors, but a large chunk (44 percent in 2011) were the result of Obama’s actions. At another point, Obama also falsely suggested that the Bush tax cuts led to the Great Recession.
And throughout Obama’s two terms in office, he has been quick to dismiss clear acts of terrorism — using phrases like “workplace violence” or blaming a YouTube video for an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The Post also included his categorization of the Benghazi attack as “an act of terror” and his reference to ISIS as a “JV team.”
“The day after Benghazi happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism”
Obama did refer to an “act of terror” in the immediate aftermath of the 2012 Benghazi attacks, but in vague terms, wrapped in a patriotic fervor. He never affirmatively stated that the American ambassador died because of an “act of terror.” Then, over a period of two weeks, given three opportunities in interviews to affirmatively agree that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist attack, the president obfuscated or ducked the question. So this was a case of taking revisionist history too far for political reasons. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Charles Krauthammer: Obama is Deluding Himself ‘Into Believing He was a Great Historic Success’Posted: January 16, 2017
It’s pretty satisfying to see that Obama was completely done in by his own hubris – when he wasn’t able to get any bipartisan support for his far left schemes, he just pushed them through by abusing the power of the executive branch.
But without a successor to secure those gains, he has built his legacy “on sand,” as perfectly stated by Krauthammer…(more)
The New York senator was promoting the Democrats’ fight to protect Obamacare, calling on his followers to add the Senate Democrats account on Snapchat to follow along.
“Starting tonight, @SenateDems are on @Snapchat. Add to hear more on our fight to protect healthcare & tell GOP: Don’t #MakeAmericaGreatAgain,” Schumer tweeted, then deleted.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 9, 2017
Donald Trump has made no secret of the fact that he intends to rip up Barack Obama’s legacy when he takes office – ending the Trans-Pacific Partnership, redrawing Obamacare and loading up Guantanamo with “some bad dudes”.
However, one expected action is likely to be less controversial, certainly in Britain: that of restoring the bust of Winston Churchill to the Oval Office.
Mr Trump, who has frequently professed his admiration for Britain’s wartime leader, was asked earlier this week whether he was considering returning the bust, sculpted by Jacob Epstein, to the White House.
“I am, indeed, I am,” he said, during an interview at the New York Times, at which he was sitting in front of a picture of Churchill.
Mr Obama replaced the Churchill bust with one of Martin Luther King in the Oval Office in 2009, soon after he took over the presidency, causing outrage on both sides of the Atlantic.
Boris Johnson controversially wrote earlier this year, while he was Mayor of London, that Mr Obama’s decision to send the bust back to the British embassy in Washington had been a “snub to Britain”.
Mr Johnson, who is now Foreign Secretary, suggested it might have been linked to Mr Obama’s “ancestral dislike of the British Empire”.
However, Mr Obama later explained that he had a second sculpture of Churchill, who had an American mother and was the only person ever granted an honourary US passport, in his private quarters.
President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to dismantle Dodd-Frank, but a full repeal of the financial regulation law is unlikely without 60 votes in the Senate. Instead, the GOP might weaken the law without tearing it up. WSJ‘s Shelby Holliday reports.
President Barack Obama rejected the idea of a bigger meaning in the election results.
Sarah Wheaton writes: Sure, the Democrats suffered crushing losses last week, President Barack Obama acknowledged Monday. But, he argued, it wasn’t any sort of repudiation of his party leadership or presidency.
If Obama has done any second-guessing since President-elect Donald Trump’s shocking victory last week, he didn’t betray any of it during his most extensive set of comments since the election.
In a press conference and in two separate conference calls with supporters, Obama rejected the idea of a bigger meaning in the election results. His policies? Helped millions and maybe even billions. His personal popularity? Still sky-high. His party? Well, he was busy with Syria and the economy – you can’t expect him to do everything.
“We are indisputably in a stronger position today than we were when I came in eight years ago. Jobs have been growing for 73 straight months. Incomes are rising. Poverty is falling. The uninsured rate is at the lowest level on record. Carbon emissions have come down without impinging on our growth,” Obama said during Monday’s press conference, his first since Election Day.
“We’ve helped millions of people in this country and probably billions of people around the world,” he added on another call with donors, elected officials and other supporters organized by the Democratic National Committee.
During the campaign, as Trump threatened to undo much of what Obama is most proud of — whether it was tearing up his landmark executive order on carbon limits, reneging on the Iran deal or repealing Obamacare — Obama saw justification to argue repeatedly that “our progress is on the ballot.”
But on Monday, Obama shot down the idea that rhetoric like what he used on the campaign trail should be taken seriously.
“This notion that somehow all the work we did suddenly gets stripped away,” Obama said on the DNC call. “Let me tell you something: We got more done than any administration in the last who-knows-how-many decades and if they roll back 15 or 20 percent of that, we’re still 80 percent ahead.”
He added, “And that’s not going to be as easy as I think some people feel, particularly if we continue to make the case and mobilize.” Read the rest of this entry »
(Washington, D.C.) – The Senate Ethics Committee has cavalierly dismissed a June 25, 2015 complaint from the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) and nine other signatories alleging that senators or Senate employees committed fraud and broke federal laws when they submitted applications to the Washington, D.C. Small Business Exchange, claiming status as a “small business.” As a result, rather than being subjected to the Obamacare healthcare exchange as individuals, senators and their staff were able to buy insurance and qualify for taxpayer-funded subsidies as employer and employees. The September 21, 2016 response from the committee stated that the allegations had been “carefully evaluated” and “that there had been no violation of Senate Rules.” The committee made clear that it would not reconsider its decision or take any further action.
“The Senate and Senate offices are plainly not small businesses. The falsified documents were a blatant attempt by senators to shield themselves from the harmful effects of Obamacare. This committee’s arbitrary and capricious decision is another sad example of why taxpayers have such contempt for their elected officials.”
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as ObamaCare, required members of Congress and their staff to enroll in individual plans through the new healthcare exchanges. As open enrollment approached in 2014, members and staff realized that by enrolling as individuals, they would no longer receive generous taxpayer-funded contributions to help pay their insurance premiums as they had for decades under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. They would instead only qualify for subsidies if their household income was less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, just like tens of millions of other Americans who had to purchase insurance in the individual market.
To get around this problem, senators from both sides of the aisle worked with the White House and the Office of Personnel Management to convince the agency to issue special guidance permitting them and their staff to enroll in the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), which was also created under Obamacare. The applications that were submitted to the D.C. Small Business Exchange farcically claimed that the Senate and/or each Senate office is a small business with fewer than 50 employees. The employer was identified as “Twenty Congress,” and the statements were sworn to be true. Read the rest of this entry »
Lawmakers, press and the public need to understand the strength of this “doubling down” phenomenon of and guard against it when adopting policy positions.
In simplified form, the dynamic runs as follows:
1) Government, in response to a perceived need, takes action to meet that need in a manner that distorts economic behavior and produces predictable adverse effects.
2) The public consequently experiences problems and expresses concern.
3) The problems themselves become justification for additional government actions that worsen the distortions and the resultant problems.
4) As problems worsen, the public more urgently demands corrective actions.
5) Steps #3 and #4 are repeated ad infinitum.
We have seen and continue to see this dynamic operate in many areas of economic policy. To cite but a few:
Worker Health Benefits
With the best of intentions the federal government has long exempted worker compensation in the form of health benefits from income taxation. Lawmakers aren’t scaling back the flawed policy that fuels these problems.There is wide consensus among economists that the results of this policy have been highly deleterious. As I have written previously, this tax exclusion “depresses wages, it drives up health spending, it’s regressive, and it makes it harder for people with enduring health conditions to change jobs or enter the individual insurance market.” Lawmakers have reacted not by scaling back the flawed policy that fuels these problems, but rather by trying to shield Americans from the resulting health care cost increases. This has been done through the enactment of additional health programs and policies that further distort health markets and which themselves drive personal and government health spending still higher.
Federal Health Programs
The federal government has enacted programs such as Medicare and Medicaid to protect vulnerable seniors and poor Americans from ruinous health care costs.
The positive benefits of these programs co-exist with well-documented adverse effects. For example, it is firmly established that creating these programs pushed up national health spending, driving health costs higher for Americans as a whole. Consumer displeasure over these health cost increases subsequently became a rationale for still more government health spending, rather than reducing government’s contribution to the problem. Examples of this doubling down include the health exchange subsidies established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as its further expansion of Medicaid. As the problem of high health care costs remains, proposals have proliferated to expand government’s role still further; for example, some have proposed making Medicare available to the entire US population. Though intended to provide relief, such legislation inevitably adds to national health spending growth. Read the rest of this entry »
Dave Boyer reports: When President Obama signs into law the new two-year budget deal Monday, his action will bring into sharper focus a part of his legacy that he doesn’t like to talk about: He is the $20 trillion man.
“The Boehner-Obama spending agreement would allow for unlimited borrowing by the Treasury until March 2017. This deal piles on billions of dollars to the national debt by increasing spending over the next three years and then not paying for it for a decade — with half of the offsets not occurring until 2025.”
— Paul Winfree, director of economic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation
Mr. Obama’s spending agreement with Congress will suspend the nation’s debt limit and allow the Treasury to borrow another $1.5 trillion or so by the end of his presidency in 2017. Added to the current total national debt of more than $18.15 trillion, the red ink will likely be crowding the $20 trillion mark right around the time Mr. Obama leaves the White House.
“Of this $154 billion, about $78 billion is paid for honestly. The remaining $56 billion of the legislation — mostly the war spending increase and interest costs — is not paid for at all.”
When Mr. Obama took over in January 2009, the total national debt stood at $10.6 trillion. That means the debt will have very nearly doubled during his eight years in office, and there is much more debt ahead with the abandonment of “sequestration” spending caps enacted in 2011.
“When Mr. Obama took over in January 2009, the total national debt stood at $10.6 trillion. That means the debt will have very nearly doubled during his eight years in office, and there is much more debt ahead with the abandonment of “sequestration” spending caps enacted in 2011.”
“Congress and the president have just agreed to undo one of the only successful fiscal restraint mechanisms in a generation,” said Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union. “The progress on reducing spending and the deficit has just become much more problematic.”
“We will be raising the debt ceiling in an unlimited fashion. We will be giving President Obama a free pass to borrow as much money as he can borrow in the last year of his office. No limit, no dollar limit. Here you go, President Obama. Spend what you want.”
— Sen. Rand Paul
Some budget analysts scoff at the claim made by the administration and by House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, that the budget agreement’s $112 billion in spending increases is fully funded by cuts elsewhere. Mr. Boehner left Congress last week.
“The Boehner-Obama spending agreement would allow for unlimited borrowing by the Treasury until March 2017,” said Paul Winfree, director of economic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation. “This deal piles on billions of dollars to the national debt by increasing spending over the next three years and then not paying for it for a decade — with half of the offsets not occurring until 2025.” Read the rest of this entry »
The need for regulatory reform has never been greater.
The number and cost of government regulations continued to climb in 2014, intensifying Washington’s control over the economy and Americans’ lives. The addition of 27 new major rules last year pushed the tally for the Obama Administration’s first six years to 184, with scores of other rules in the pipeline. The cost of just these 184 rules is estimated by regulators to be nearly $80 billion annually, although the actual cost of this massive expansion of the administrative state is obscured by the large number of rules for which costs have not been fully quantified. Absent substantial reform, economic growth and individual freedom will continue to suffer….
In a new paper titled “Red Tape Rising: Six Years of Escalating Regulation Under Obama,” the Heritage Foundation’s Diane Katz and James Gattuso write that in 2014, the government issued 2,400 new regulations, including 27 major rules that may cost $80 billion or more annually. These rules range from forcing restaurants to list calorie counts — even though past experiments have revealed that such measures fail to change consumers’ behavior — to reducing consumer choices and increasing energy prices by imposing tighter energy-efficiency mandates on the plugs that we use to charge cell phones, laptops, and even electric toothbrushes.
Washington regulatory bureaucrats’ control over the economy and Americans’ lives is intensifying. According to Katz and Gattuso, during the first six years of the Obama administration, the number of new major rules reached 184, including 13 regulations of the financial system that saw the light of day in 2014. Another 126 are in the pipeline. That’s more than twice the number imposed by President George W. Bush, who himself wasn’t shy about regulating the economy.
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Official regulatory costs are vastly underestimated because of the large number of rules for which costs have not been fully quantified. More importantly, official costs never appropriately account for the businesses, innovations, and economic growth that will never exist because of the continued accumulation of regulations. Needless to say, the need for reform of the regulatory system has never been greater….(read more)
…President Barack Obama has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to act by regulatory fiat instead of executing laws as passed by Congress. But regulatory overreach by the executive branch is only part of the problem. A great deal of the excessive regulation in the past six years is the result of Congress granting broad powers to agencies through passage of vast and vaguely worded legislation. The misnamed Affordable Care Act and the Dodd–Frank financial-regulation law top the list.
Many more regulations are on the way, with another 126 economically significant rules on the Administration’s agenda, such as directives to farmers for growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables; strict limits on credit access for service members; and, yet another redesign of light bulbs.
In many respects, the need for reform of the regulatory system has never been greater. The White House, Congress, and federal agencies routinely ignore regulatory costs, exaggerate benefits, and breach legislative and constitutional boundaries. They also increasingly dictate lifestyle choices rather than focusing on public health and safety.
Immediate reforms should include requiring legislation to undergo an analysis of regulatory impacts before a floor vote in Congress, and requiring every major regulation to obtain congressional approval before taking effect. Sunset deadlines should be set in law for all major rules, and independent agencies should be subject—as are executive branch agencies—to the White House regulatory review process.
Measuring the Red Tape
The federal government does not officially track total regulatory costs, as it does with taxation and spending. Estimates of these costs from various independent sources range from hundreds of billions of dollars to over $2 trillion annually. However, the number and cost of new regulations can be tracked, and both have grown relentlessly.
The most comprehensive source of data on new regulations is the Federal Rules Database maintained by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). According to this GAO database, federal regulators issued 2,400 new rules during the 2014 “presidential year” (January 21, 2014, to January 20, 2015). Of these, 77 were classified as “major.”
Forty-eight of the 77 major rules were budgetary or administrative in nature, such as Medicare payment rates and hunting limits on migratory birds. A total of 27 were “prescriptive” regulations, meaning that they increase burdens on individual or private-sector activity. (Two others were “deregulatory,” as explained below.) Altogether, during the six years of the Obama Administration, 184 prescriptive rules have been imposed. That compares to 76 such rules issued during the same period of the George W. Bush Administration.
Regulators reported new annual costs of $7.6 billion for the 2014 prescriptive rules based on the limited number of analyses performed by the agencies. This total cost is 15 percent less than the $8.9 billion in costs imposed during the sixth year of the Bush Administration. However, cost calculations were incomplete for 12 of the 27 Obama rules issued last year.
There was also $1.8 billion in reported one-time implementation costs for the 2014 rules, bringing the Administration’s six-year total for such costs to about $17 billion.
Only two of the 2014 rules decreased regulatory burdens, bringing the Administration’s six-year “deregulatory” total to just 17—despite a widely touted “retrospective review” initiative that President Obama claimed would take outdated rules off the books. This compares to four deregulatory actions during President Bush’s sixth year, and his Administration’s six-year total of 23.
Overall, the cost of new mandates and restrictions imposed by the Obama Administration now totals $78.9 billion annually. This is more than double the $30.7 billion in annual costs imposed at the same point in the George W. Bush Administration.
These figures are consistent with other measures of a growing regulatory burden. For instance, according to economists Susan Dudley and Melinda Warren, spending on federal regulatory agencies has increased from $20.7 billion in 1990, and $50.9 billion in 2009, to more than $53.6 billion in 2014 (in constant 2009 dollars). Similarly, total staffing at regulatory agencies has grown nearly 6.6 percent since 2009.
Dodd–Frank Dominates in 2014
Regulation of securities and the banking system dominated rulemaking in 2014, accounting for 13 of the 27 major rules issued during the Obama Administration’s sixth year. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) imposed the largest number of rules (seven), while the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency jointly promulgated five rules, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission issued one. Read the rest of this entry »
Michael Barone writes: in this presidential cycle, voters in both parties, to the surprise of the punditocracy, are rejecting experienced political leaders. They’re willfully suspending disbelief in challengers who would have been considered laughable in earlier years.
“In our system the widespread rejection of experienced leaders ultimately comes from dismay at the leader in the White House. In 1960 Richard Nixon, after eight years as vice president and six in Congress, campaigned on the slogan ‘Experience counts.’ No one is running on that theme this year.”
Polls show more Republicans preferring three candidates who have never held elective office over 14 candidates who have served a combined total of 150 years as governors or in Congress. Most Democrats are declining to favor a candidate who spent eight years in the White House and the Senate and four as secretary of state.
Psephologists of varying stripes attribute this discontent to varying causes. Conservatives blame insufficiently aggressive Republican congressional leaders. Liberals blame Hillary Clinton’s closeness to plutocrats and her home email system.
But in our system the widespread rejection of experienced leaders ultimately comes from dismay at the leader in the White House. In 1960 Richard Nixon, after eight years as vice president and six in Congress, campaigned on the slogan “Experience counts.” No one is running on that theme this year.
Nixon could, because over the preceding quarter-century the majority of Americans mostly approved of the performance of incumbent presidents. Presidents Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower still look pretty good more than 50 years later.
Barack Obama doesn’t. His deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes recently said that the president’s nuclear weapons deal with Iran was as important an achievement of his second term as Obamacare was of the first. Historians may well agree.
These two policy achievements have many things in common. Read the rest of this entry »
68% of Conservatives Identifies Court as Liberal
Following major, end-of-term rulings on the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage, unfavorable opinions of the Supreme Court have reached a 30-year high. And opinions about the court and its ideology have never been more politically divided.
“Seven-in-ten Americans (70%) say that in deciding cases, the justices of the Supreme Court ‘are often influenced by their own political views.’ Just 24% say they ‘generally put their political views aside. when deciding cases.”
Currently, 48% of Americans have a favorable impression of the Supreme Court, while 43% view the court unfavorably. Unfavorable opinions of the court, while up only modestly since March (39%), are the highest recorded since 1985.
The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted July 14-20 among 2,002 adults, finds that most of the increase in unfavorable views of the Supreme Court has come among Republicans.
“Most Americans (54%) say that the Supreme Court has the right amount of power, while 36% say it is too powerful.”
Just 33% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of the court, while 61% have an unfavorable view. Since March, the share of Republicans viewing the court favorably has fallen 17 percentage points (from 50% to 33%), while the share with an unfavorable impression has jumped 21 percentage points (from 40% to 61%). Republicans’ views of the Supreme Court are now more negative than at any point in the past three decades.
“Only about one-in-ten (7%) thinks the court has too little power”
In contrast, Democrats’ views of the Supreme Court have become more positive since March, though the change has not been as dramatic. Currently, 62% of Democrats have a favorable impression of the court, up from 54% four months ago.
There also has been a major shift in how Americans, especially those at either end of the ideological spectrum, view the Supreme Court’s ideology. The share of the public saying the current Supreme Court is liberal has doubled since March, driven by changing attitudes among Republicans, particularly conservative Republicans.
Overall, 39% of the public views the court as middle-of-the-road, 36% as liberal and 18% as conservative. The share saying the court is liberal has increased from 26% to 36% over the past few months and stands at its highest point in surveys dating to 2007. There has been a ten-point decline in the number saying the court is conservative (18% today, 28% in March), while the share saying it is middle-of-the-road is little changed (39% now, 38% then).
Opinions about the court and its ideology have never been more politically divided
Currently, 68% of conservative Republicans say the current Supreme Court is liberal – up 20 points since March and by far the highest percentage since 2007. About a quarter of conservative Republicans (24%) say the court has a middle-of-the-road approach and 5% see it as conservative.
Liberal Democrats now generally view the current Supreme Court as middle-of-the-road; in March, most saw the court as conservative. Currently, 49% of liberal Democrats say it is middle-of-the-road (up from 31% in March). Three-in-ten (30%) say it is conservative, down from 56% in March. And 17% say the court is liberal, about double the share who said this in March (8%).
Perceptions of the court’s ideology have changed less among those closer to the middle of the ideological spectrum. Moderate and liberal Republicans’ continue to be divided: 42% see the Supreme Court as middle-of-the-road; 40% say it is liberal and 13% say it is conservative. A plurality of conservative and moderate Democrats (43%) continue to say it is middle-of-the-road.
The change in independents’ views of the Supreme Court’s ideology mirrors the shift among the public: 41% say it is middle-of-the-road, little changed from 38% in March; 36% see it as liberal (up 11 points) and 18% say it is conservative (down 10 points). The share of Republican-leaning independents who say the court is liberal has risen from 38% to 54%. Just 23% of independents who lean toward the Democratic Party say the same, up a modest seven percentage points since March.
Little Change in Views of Same-Sex Marriage, Affordable Care Act. In contrast to opinions about the Supreme Court, views on two issues that were the subject of its high-profile rulings – same-sex marriage and the 2010 health care law – have shown little change. Currently, 54% of Americans favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while 39% are opposed. In May, before the Court’s ruling that made same-sex marriage legal nationwide, 57% favored and 39% opposed same-sex marriage. The public is divided over the 2010 health care law: 48% approve of the law and 49% disapprove. In February, 45% approved of the health care law and 53% disapproved.
Few Think Supreme Court Justices Set Aside Their Political Views. Seven-in-ten Americans (70%) say that in deciding cases, the justices of the Supreme Court “are often influenced by their own political views.” Just 24% say they “generally put their political views aside” when deciding cases. The belief that justices are swayed by their own political views spans partisan and demographic groups. The survey also finds that a majority of the public (56%) says the court should consider the views of most Americans when deciding cases; 39% say they should not be influenced by public opinion.
Supreme Court Not Viewed as ‘Too Powerful.’ A majority (54%) says the Supreme Court has the right amount of power, while 36% think it has too much power; 7% say it has too little power. Republicans (45%) are more likely than Democrats (32%) or independents (33%) to view the court as too powerful.
Supreme Court Favorability
Partisanship, ideology and religious affiliation are all factors in views of the Supreme Court. In addition, supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage and the 2010 health care law have starkly different opinions about the Supreme Court.
By a 63% to 28% margin, those who favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally have a favorable opinion of the Supreme Court. By almost an identical margin (63% to 30%), those who oppose same-sex marriage have an unfavorable impression of the court. The association between views of the court and opinions on same-sex marriage is far stronger than in the past.
Opinions of the court among those who approve and disapprove of the 2010 health care law are similarly divided (61% of those who approve of the law have a favorable opinion of the court, compared with just 33% of those who disapprove). Supporters and opponents of the law were less divided last year, but were similarly split following the court’s 2012 term, in which it ruled the law was constitutional.
Since March, the plunge in the Supreme Court’s favorability among Republicans has largely come among conservatives. Just 27% of conservative Republicans have a favorable impression of the Supreme Court. Four months ago, nearly half (48%) did so. Among moderate and liberal Republicans, there has been a smaller, nine-point decline in positive views of the court (45% now, 54% then). Read the rest of this entry »