What’s In My Interest?

I had the impres­sion sev­er­al days ago that momen­tum for health care reform slowed down some while Pres­i­dent Oba­ma was over­seas. A lot of the news in the past cou­ple of days has been that reform will only get done if the Pres­i­dent is active­ly work­ing to push it through congress.

I was also under the impres­sion that most Repub­li­cans would pre­fer that health care not pass.

And yet…

He [for­mer Sen­a­tor Zell Miller] drew more applause from the most­ly Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors …when he said Oba­ma need­ed to spend more time in Wash­ing­ton and less time trav­el­ing abroad. “Our globe-trot­ting pres­i­dent needs to stop and take a break and quit gal­li­vant­i­ng around,” Miller said, adding that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel needs to put “Goril­la Glue” on his chair to keep him in the Oval Office.

Ignor­ing the pos­si­ble racial slur here, I don’t under­stand the applause. If the Repub­li­cans want health reform to fail, then I would think they would not want the Pres­i­dent glued to his chair in the oval office, but would pre­fer him fly­ing around the globe.

Unless it was the racial slur.…

Hat tip to The New Republic

Justice Confirmation Hearings

I had a chance to actu­al­ly watch a lot of Tues­day’s hear­ings for con­fir­ma­tion of Sotomay­or. The hear­ings should prob­a­bly be called pos­tur­ing hear­ings. It does seem that much of what is said by the sen­a­tors has as much or more to do with shap­ing their own image as it does with try­ing to learn about the nominee.

The Repub­li­cans, under­stand­ing that Sotomay­or’s con­fir­ma­tion is a for­gone con­clu­sion, have their only hope of pre­vent­ing her con­fir­ma­tion by catch­ing her in an error. They return to the same sub­jects over and over wait­ing for Sotomay­or to make a mis­take. Sotomay­or has han­dled all the ques­tions with aplomb.

Sotomay­or was cor­rect to walk away from her “wise Lati­na woman” com­ment, but she walked too far away. It is not true that a wise Lati­na woman will make a bet­ter deci­sion than a white male. It is true that a wise Lati­na woman might make a dif­fer­ent deci­sion that is just as good as the white males. And it some­how nev­er gets men­tioned that for 180 years all of the Supreme Court Jus­tices were white males and in the next forty years all but four Jus­tices have been white males.

To watch the hear­ings is to enter a fan­ta­sy world where white males are the stan­dard for objec­tiv­i­ty. Where white males are nev­er influ­enced by their life expe­ri­ence as a white male. But, of course, a Lati­na woman is going to always be influ­enced by her life expe­ri­ence as a Lati­na woman (even though she has a lengthy record of not favor­ing minorites).

The truth is that any jus­tice is going to be influ­enced by his or her life expe­ri­ence. That’s the way it is, the way it has always been, and the way it will always be.

It is also the way it should be.

It is also that case that every judge should be able to empathize with the peo­ple who will be affect­ed by deci­sions. This repeat­ed mantra of “fideli­ty to the law” is not mean­ing­less. Fideli­ty to the law should be the guid­ing prin­ci­ple, but the law is not com­plete. If it were, there would be no need for judges. Con­ser­v­a­tives are hap­py to have empa­thet­ic judges, just as long as the judge is a con­ser­v­a­tive. Google “Ali­to empathy”.

Final­ly, an “activist judge” is a judge with whom the speak­er does not agree.

Con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings should turn on one ques­tion only: Is the nom­i­nee qual­i­fied to sit on the Supreme Court. This is deter­mined by ask­ing the nom­i­nee about var­i­ous issues that the Court has dealt with and like­ly will deal with. If the nom­i­nee can intel­li­gent­ly dis­cuss the sub­tleties of the var­i­ous issues, then the nom­i­nee is qualified.

Sotomay­or is clear­ly qualified.

Pence For President?

Is Mike Pence think­ing about run­ning for Pres­i­dent? I first asked this ques­tion on June 17. Now CQ Pol­i­tics thinks so, too.

House Repub­li­can Con­fer­ence Chair­man Mike Pence of Indi­ana recent­ly added his name to that list [of poten­tial can­di­dates for pres­i­dent for 2012] by sched­ul­ing a trip to Iowa start­ing July 25 — just before the final week of the hec­tic July session.

Remem­ber, you read it here first!!

Hat tip to TPMDC.

Short Memory

Can any­one, with a straight face, say that they under­stood the urgent­ly need­ed stim­u­lus plan to be a “two year plan.” If you say yes you are a liar. If some­one would have asked Oba­ma before pas­sage he would have denied it.

Where to begin?

Jan­u­ary 11, 2009

Oba­ma takes office Jan. 20 and is press­ing Con­gress to act quick­ly on a two-year eco­nom­ic stim­u­lus plan of about $775 bil­lion that includes new gov­ern­ment spend­ing and tax cuts.

Jan­u­ary 12, 2009

Oba­ma takes office Jan. 20 and is press­ing Con­gress to act quick­ly on a two-year eco­nom­ic stim­u­lus plan of about $US775 bil­lion that includes new gov­ern­ment spend­ing and tax cuts.

Jan­u­ary 13, 2009

That com­pares with Pres­i­dent-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. plans for a two-year stim­u­lus pro­gram of about $775 bil­lion, or about 2.8 per­cent of GDP.

Jan­u­ary 15, 2009

In his week­ly radio address on Jan. 10, 2009, Barack Oba­ma said the No. 1 goal of his eco­nom­ic stim­u­lus plan is to cre­ate 3 mil­lion new jobs in the next two years

Jan­u­ary 29, 2009

…the two-year stim­u­lus plan would pro­vide up to $1,000 per year in tax relief for most families…Obama said.…“This recov­ery plan will save or cre­ate more than 3 mil­lion new jobs over the next few years.”

Feb­ru­ary 2, 2009

This is a two-year bill. The bill that we’re talk­ing about is a two-year bill.

Feb­ru­ary 3, 2009

Obama’s plan will cre­ate 3 – 4 mil­lion jobs over the next two years.

Feb­ru­ary 06, 2009

The Kingsport Times quot­ed the gov­er­nor say­ing he would do any­thing he could to help pre­serve state jobs, but cau­tioned the $800 bil­lion stim­u­lus now before Con­gress is a two-year program.

Feb­ru­ary 08, 2009

Chris Wal­lace: “The Con­gres­sion­al Bud­get Office says only 64 per­cent of the House plan actu­al­ly gets out into the econ­o­my in the next two years. So how is that timely?”

Lar­ry Sum­mers: “I think this econ­o­my is still going to need some sup­port two years from now. And so I think the idea that not 100 per­cent of it spends out in the next two years is actu­al­ly a pru­dent one.”

Feb­ru­ary 9, 2009

The plan that we put for­ward will save or cre­ate 3 to 4 mil­lion jobs over the next two years.

Feb­ru­ary 17, 2009

Now, what makes this recov­ery plan so impor­tant is not just that it will cre­ate or save 3.5 mil­lion jobs over the next two years, includ­ing 60,000-plus here in Colorado.

Feb­ru­ary 18, 2009

Oba­ma said the law would save or cre­ate 3.5 mil­lion jobs over the next two years.

Feb­ru­ary 24th, 2009

Over the next two years, this plan will save or cre­ate 3.5 mil­lion jobs.

Happy Independence Day

Bart Gragg points me to an arti­cle about Noreen Evans, an Assem­bly Mem­ber in Cal­i­for­nia. Cal­i­for­nia, as I under­stand it, is in the midst of a seri­ous bud­get cri­sis. Evans is quot­ed in the arti­cle as saying

This mantra out there ‘live with­in our means,’ while it sounds real­ly nice, while it sounds real­ly sim­ple and it sounds real­ly respon­si­ble, it’s meaningless.

My first thought is that Mr. Coupal, of The Howard Jarvis Tax­pay­ers Asso­ci­a­tion, did not give enough con­text for the quote. I found a You Tube video of Evans’ com­ments. She added to the quote above:

Our means are com­plete­ly with­in our control…In good times we rou­tine­ly give away tax­es and in lean times we nev­er replace those tax deduc­tions or close those loop­holes. We con­tin­u­ous­ly bor­row, which is an enor­mous cost that we shift on into future years and we find our­selves now with a deficit, an ongo­ing struc­tur­al deficit that we sim­ply can’t close.

It is not clear who put the video togeth­er, but it is clear it was not done by some­one in agree­ment with Evans. I give cred­it to who­ev­er did it for pro­vid­ing a fuller context.

OK. That appears to be what was said. In my book, giv­en the con­text, Evans is cor­rect (but also wrong). Since the gov­ern­ment con­trols what the means are, to live with­in one’s means is, at best, a slip­pery con­cept. The prob­lem here is that it is still nec­es­sary to live with­in the means, whether it is by increas­ing the means or decreas­ing the living.

My grasp of what is hap­pen­ing in Cal­i­for­nia is slim at best and most­ly ground­ed in Jay Leno jokes (and I have not watched Leno in sev­er­al months). So from here on out I am talk­ing in the con­text of the fed­er­al government.

No one in gov­ern­ment will use the con­trol of the means so that we live with­in our means. 

No one. Not the Democ­rats and not the Repub­li­cans.* I want so much to write:

The Democ­rats vote to maintain/​add pro­grams and raise tax­es while the Repub­li­cans want to cut pro­grams and cut tax­es and some­how this results in lots of pro­grams and low taxes.

But that would not be true. Repub­li­cans say they want to cut pro­grams and cut tax­es, but the empha­sis is cut­ting tax­es and the real­i­ty is cut­ting tax­es. Cut­ting pro­grams just gets lip ser­vice. It is my under­stand­ing that even Rea­gan man­aged to elim­i­nate only one pro­gram in eight years.

Democ­rats can­not raise tax­es suf­fi­cient­ly to pay for all the pro­grams because Repub­li­cans will raise hell and, we the peo­ple vote the Democ­rats out and the Repub­li­cans in and the tax­es get cut but not the pro­grams. Gen­er­al­ly, the Repub­li­cans are hap­py to run with deficits as long as tax­es are low and the deficits are not caused by any new programs.

The Democ­rats run on the issue of need­ed new pro­grams and we the peo­ple agree and vote them in. Pro­grams get added, some tax­es get raised (but not enough and deficits con­tin­ue) and Repub­li­cans run on cut­ting taxes.….

Note that the com­mon­al­i­ty in both sides of the prob­lem is we the peo­ple.

We the peo­ple like our pro­grams. We the peo­ple would of course rather have low­er tax­es than high­er tax­es if giv­en the choice. What’s a con­gress­man and sen­a­tor to do?

Two hun­dred and thir­ty three years ago, fifty six men, rep­re­sent­ing the thir­teen colonies, signed the Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence. Their sig­na­tures appear just below the last sentence:

And for the sup­port of this dec­la­ra­tion, with a firm reliance on the pro­tec­tion of Divine Prov­i­dence, we mutu­al­ly pledge to each oth­er our lives, our for­tunes and our sacred honor.

Their lives, for­tunes and sacred hon­or.

Our con­gress­man and sen­a­tors today are not will­ing to put their own reelec­tion on the line, let alone their lives, for­tunes and sacred hon­or. And there you go. We the peo­ple want pro­grams with­out tax­es and our elect­ed offi­cials are not will­ing to dis­il­lu­sion us for fear we will not reelect them.

Three days ago I post­ed A Sea of Red Ink. My hope expressed there is that by run­ning the deficit/​debt up to unprece­dent­ed lev­els, our reps will then have no choice but to show some back­bone, risk reelec­tion, and fix the problem.

In the mean­time, if you com­plain your tax­es are too high, be sure you include in your com­plaint what pro­gram you would also have cut.

My best to Cal­i­for­nia. I hope they fig­ure some­thing out.

*Yes, Ron Paul would prob­a­bly cut every­thing, but one man is not enough (and peo­ple would want him lynched after their favorite pro­gram got cut).

Running for President?

Is it my imag­i­na­tion, or is Indi­ana Con­gress­man Mike Pence sud­den­ly all over the nation­al media late­ly? As I looked at a video fea­tur­ing the con­gress­man this morn­ing the thought jumped into my head: Mike Pence is think­ing about run­ning for Pres­i­dent (you read it here first!).

On the oth­er hand, he has­n’t post­ed on his blog since April 27.

Then again, giv­en the recent luck the GOP has had with social media*, Pence’s stale blog might be bet­ter than the alternative.

I doubt I’ll be vot­ing for him.

* See also TPMDC.