THE WHITE HOUSE WANTS A LIST

The Wall Street Journal

  • APRIL 25, 2011

Want a federal contract? Show politicians the money.

  • EXCERPT FROM THIS ARTICLE:And what do you know? The draft order doesn’t cover federal employee labor unions, the Democratic allies whose free speech rights were recognized alongside corporations in Citizens United. Nor do the disclosure requirements extend to recipients of federal grants, which often run into the millions of dollars. These donees are usually Democrats too.

  • Here’s another reason to think the 2012 campaign is underway with a vengeance: If a company wants a federal government contract, from now on it will first have to disclose if the company or its executives gave more than $5,000 in political donations.

This latest federal rule comes courtesy of a new executive order now being drafted in the White House. The order would implement parts of last year’s Disclose Act, which failed to pass Congress but was a favorite of Democrats because it would deter political contributions by business after last year’s Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision. White House press secretary Jay Carney confirmed last week that the order is in the works after former Federal Election Commission official Hans von Spakovsky obtained a copy of the draft. Continue reading THE WHITE HOUSE WANTS A LIST

AMERICA'S EVER EXPANDING WELFARE EMPIRE

FORBES

Apr. 22 2011
By PETER FERRARA

A fundamental misconception about America’s welfare state misleads millions of voters to reflexively support ever bigger and more generous government. William Voegeli fingers the attitude in his book, Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State: “no matter how large the welfare state, liberal politicians and writers have accused it of being shamefully small” and “contemptibly austere.”

Barbara Ehrenreich expresses the attitude in her book, Nickled and Dimed: “guilt doesn’t go anywhere near far enough; the appropriate emotion is shame” regarding the stingy miserliness of America’s welfare state. In light of the current budget debate, with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan putting fundamental entitlement reform on the table, this misconception especially needs to be corrected.

America’s welfare state is not a principality. It is a vast empire bigger than the entire budgets of almost every other country in the world. Just one program, Medicaid, cost the federal government $275 billion in 2010, which is slated to rise to $451 billion by 2018. Counting state Medicaid expenditures, this one program cost taxpayers $425 billion in 2010, soaring to $800 billion by 2018. Under Obamacare, 85 million Americans will soon be on Medicaid, growing to nearly 100 million by 2021, according to the CBO. Continue reading AMERICA'S EVER EXPANDING WELFARE EMPIRE

THE RADICAL GRADUALISM OF PAUL RYAN

Published on The Weekly Standard (http://www.weeklystandard.com)

The status quo is far more ‘extreme’ than the Republican budget

Yuval Levin

April 18, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 30

Late last month, Senator Charles Schumer of New York led a conference call in which Senate Democrats briefed reporters about the ongoing budget battle. At the outset, unaware that his comments were already audible to reporters on the line, Schumer provided some marching orders, advising his colleagues to describe Republican proposals as radical. “I always use the word extreme,” he said. “That’s what the caucus instructed me to use this week.”

It was no surprise, therefore, that when House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan released the Republican budget proposal for 2012 last week, Democrats in Washington called it radical and extreme. The White House labeled the plan unbalanced. Representative Chris Van Hollen, the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, called it “ideology on steroids.” Iowa senator Tom Harkin said the Ryan plan “gives new meaning to the term extreme.”

But it wasn’t only Democrats who seemed struck by the radical character of Ryan’s proposal. Many supporters of his budget, too, noted above all its boldness, or its wholehearted fiscal conservatism, which is just another way to say that he proposes a dramatic change. Continue reading THE RADICAL GRADUALISM OF PAUL RYAN

ANOTHER HOPELESS EU BUREAUCRACY

Published on The Weekly Standard (http://www.weeklystandard.com)

Europe’s common foreign policy is dead on arrival.

James Kirchick

April 18, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 30

Brussels
It’s supposed to be the crowning achievement of the decades-long dream that is European integration: Last December, the European Union inaugurated its European External Action Service (EEAS). Intended to implement the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European suprastate, the EEAS hopes to recruit some 5,400 civil servants and operate with an annual budget of over $4 billion. With a secretariat in Brussels and EU embassies around the world, the EEAS would resemble the foreign ministry of a sovereign state and allow for “the progressive framing of a common defense policy that might lead to a common defense.”

That’s the theory anyway. Given all of the internal strife the EU is facing (namely, a debt crisis that has thrown the very future of the eurozone in doubt), the notion that these squabbling 27 nations can come together to implement policies outside the EU’s borders seems more than a bit premature. Nothing better demonstrates this than the continent’s fractious response to the crisis in Libya. Continue reading ANOTHER HOPELESS EU BUREAUCRACY

WIKILEAKS DISCLOSES NEW DETAILS ON WHEREABOUTS OF AL-QAEDA LEADERS ON 9/11

THE WASHINGTON POST

By Peter Finn,        Sunday, April 24

On Sept. 11, 2001, the core of al-Qaeda was concentrated in a single city: Karachi, Pakistan.

At a hospital, the accused mastermind of the bombing of the USS Cole was recovering from a tonsillectomy. Nearby, the alleged organizer of the 2002 bombing in Bali, Indonesia, was buying lab equipment for a biological weapons program. And in a safe house, the man who would later describe himself as the intellectual author of the Sept. 11 attacks was with other key al-Qaeda members watching the scenes from New York and Washington unfold on television.

Within a day, much of the al-Qaeda leadership was on the way back to Afghanistan, planning for a long war.

A cache of classified military documents obtained by the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks presents new details of their whereabouts on Sept. 11, 2001, and their movements afterward. The documents also offer some tantalizing glimpses into the whereabouts and operations of Osama bin Laden and his Egyptian deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The documents, provided to European and U.S. news outlets, including The Washington Post, are intelligence assessments of nearly every one of the 779 individuals who have been held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since 2002. In them, analysts have created detailed portraits of detainees based on raw intelligence, including material gleaned from interrogations. Continue reading WIKILEAKS DISCLOSES NEW DETAILS ON WHEREABOUTS OF AL-QAEDA LEADERS ON 9/11

OBAMA'S PERMANENT SPENDING BINGE

The Wall Street Journal

  • APRIL 22, 2011

If government got by with 20% of GDP in 2007, why not in 2021, when GDP will be substantially higher?

Palo Alto, Calif.

Americans are clamoring for a fact-based debate about the budget, but the numbers they’re hearing from Washington are terribly confusing. Here’s an example: Speaking at a Facebook town hall meeting here on Wednesday, President Obama sometimes talked about saving $4 trillion, at other times $2 trillion, and he varied whether it was over 10 years or 12 years, never mentioning any one year.

A simple chart, like the one nearby, would greatly clarify the debate. It shows total federal government spending year-by-year for the two decades starting in the year 2000. Spending is shown as a percentage of GDP, which is a sensible and quite common way to assess trends: When the percentage rises, government spending rises relative to total income or total goods and services produced in our economy.

For the past decade, the chart shows the recent history of government spending. For the next decade—the window for the current budget—it shows three different spending visions for the future.

The uppermost line shows outlays under the official budget submitted by Mr. Obama to Congress on Feb. 14. The lowest line shows the House Budget Resolution submitted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan on April 5, while the third line shows year-by-year outlays I estimated from the 12-year totals in the new budget proposed by the president on April 13.

The chart clearly reveals a number of important facts that are not coming up in town hall meetings. Most obvious is the huge bulge in spending in the past few years. In 2000 spending was 18.2% of GDP. In 2007 it was 19.6%. But in the three years since 2009 it’s jumped to an average of 24.4%.

Second, and perhaps even more striking, the chart shows that Mr. Obama, in his budget submitted in February, proposed to make that spending binge permanent. Spending would still be more than 24% of GDP at the end of the budget window in 2021. The administration revealed its preference in the February budget for a much higher level of government spending than the 18.2% of GDP in 2000 or the 19.6% in 2007.

Third, the House budget plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) simply removes that spending binge—it gradually returns spending as a share of GDP back to a level seen only three years ago.

taylor

Continue reading OBAMA'S PERMANENT SPENDING BINGE

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' – OF JOBS IN TEXAS

The Wall Street Journal

  • APRIL 22, 2011

Hounded by taxes and regulations, employers in the once-Golden State are moving East.

  • By John Fund
Austin, Texas

It wasn’t your usual legislative hearing. A group of largely Republican California lawmakers and Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom traveled here last week to hear from businesses that have left their state to set up shop in Texas.

“We came to learn why they would pick up their roots and move in order to grow their businesses,” says GOP Assemblyman Dan Logue, who organized the trip. “Why does Chief Executive magazine rate California the worst state for job and business growth and Texas the best state?”

The contrast is undeniable. Texas has added 165,000 jobs during the last three years while California has lost 1.2 million. California’s jobless rate is 12% compared to 8% in Texas. Continue reading CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' – OF JOBS IN TEXAS

SHAMEFUL U.S. INACTION ON SYRIA'S MASSACRES

THE WASHINGTON POST

By Editorial, Friday, April 22, 5:16 PM

FOR THE PAST five weeks, growing numbers of Syrians have been gathering in cities and towns across the country to demand political freedom — and the security forces of dictator Bashar al-Assad have been responding by opening fire on them. According to Syrian human rights groups, more than 220 people had been killed by Friday. And Friday may have been the worst day yet: According to Western news organizations, which mostly have had to gather information from outside the country, at least 75 people were gunned down in places that included the suburbs of Damascus, the city of Homs and a village near the southern town of Daraa, where the protests began.

Massacres on this scale usually prompt a strong response from Western democracies, as they should. Ambassadors are withdrawn; resolutions are introduced at the U.N. Security Council; international investigations are mounted and sanctions applied. In Syria’s case, none of this has happened. The Obama administration has denounced the violence — a presidential statement called Friday’s acts of repression “outrageous” — but otherwise remained passive. Even the ambassador it dispatched to Damascus during a congressional recess last year remains on post.

Continue reading SHAMEFUL U.S. INACTION ON SYRIA'S MASSACRES