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.