Archive for June, 2011

Who’s right about Libya and the law: Congress or Obama?

A showdown looms between the White House and Congress over the war in Libya.

At issue is the War Powers Resolution, passed by Congress during the Nixon administration and ignored by every president since then. A bipartisan group in the House, including newfound bedfellows Speaker John Boehner and Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich, is demanding that President Obama adhere to the law.

Speaking of strange bedfellows, the situation has led to the New York Times editorializing (somewhat begrudgingly) in favor of the Boehner position while the Wall Street Journal editorial board has backed Obama’s stance.

Should Obama submit to the War Powers Resolution and get Congress’ approval to continue the war in Libya?

  • Yes, the law’s the law. (108 Votes)
  • No, this is within his constitutional mandate. (42 Votes)
  • Who knows? I’m no constitutional scholar. (29 Votes)

Total Voters: 179

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As the Times put it, the War Powers Resolution “says that 60 or 90 days after notifying …

Continue reading Who’s right about Libya and the law: Congress or Obama? »

“Gang” splits on ethanol subsidies; Saxby votes to keep ‘em

Reversing course, the U.S. Senate today voted 73-27 to repeal a $6 billion tax credit that subsidizes the production of ethanol. One curious thing about the vote is how members of Georgia’s Saxby Chambliss, and the rest of his “Gang of Six” working to balance the budget, voted.

Members of the six who voted to end the subsidies: Mike Crapo, R.-Idaho; Mark Warner, D.-Va.; and Tom Coburn, R.-Okla. (who says he’s “on sabbatical” from the gang at present).

Voting to keep the subsidies: Kent Conrad, D.-Mont.; Dick Durbin, D.-Ill.; and our own Chambliss.

Curiouser, Chambliss was quoted just Tuesday saying he did not support extending the tax credit. His spokeswoman, Bronwyn Lance Chester, just emailed me this explanation for his “no” vote:

As you saw in Tuesday’s Congressional Record, he said on the floor that he was voting for cloture because he didn’t believe Coburn’s amendment deserved to be filibustered. But he also stated he believes that because the tax credit is built …

Continue reading “Gang” splits on ethanol subsidies; Saxby votes to keep ‘em »

Weiner to quit; Dems seek new excuse for ignoring debt crisis

With — “embattled” doesn’t quite cut it — Rep. Anthony Weiner expected to announce his resignation this afternoon, congressional Democrats will be rid of the “distraction” they’ve bemoaned for nearly three weeks now.

I’m sure that, with the airwaves now made safe for more serious news, those same Democrats will reveal their plan for ending trillion-dollar deficits, making entitlements sustainable and paying down debt, post-haste. And not simply anoint a new attack dog to take Weiner’s place on the cable TV shows.

Right?

Right??

– By Kyle Wingfield

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Continue reading Weiner to quit; Dems seek new excuse for ignoring debt crisis »

NATO’s future: Let Europe bear the cost of defending Europe

For 58 of NATO’s 62 years of existence, the United States has had an ambassador to the military alliance. For many of those years, particularly the most recent ones, our man in Brussels has had a constant, overarching mission: Beg our allies to spend more on their own militaries.

Such was related to me once by one of those ambassadors. So it didn’t surprise me last week when departing Defense Secretary Robert Gates unloaded on those allies that view the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as a means of outsourcing their national defense to us.

As Gates warned, that outsourcing won’t hold up forever.

The trans-Atlantic alliance, Gates said, had finally reached the long-feared gap between “those willing and able to pay the price and bear the burdens of alliance commitments, and those who [only] enjoy the benefits of NATO membership.”

Of the 28 NATO members, Gates said, just five spend as much on defense each year — more than 2 percent of gross domestic product — as they agreed. …

Continue reading NATO’s future: Let Europe bear the cost of defending Europe »

Obama 2012: A spoon for every worker! (video)

Our smartest president evah says employment is struggling because of the likes of — wait for it — ATMs (the relevant discussion begins at the 2:00 mark):

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For those who can’t/won’t watch the video, here’s what he said:

There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.

He went on to say some other, noncontroversial things about retraining people with the skills they’ll need in the future. But his starting point for the necessity of such retraining is revealing.

First, his ATM example isn’t even true: Jonah Goldberg at NRO takes a look at the actual labor statistics and finds that, not only did the number of bank tellers grow even as ATMs became …

Continue reading Obama 2012: A spoon for every worker! (video) »

It’s a good thing the tea party started in 2009 . . .

… because it sounds like a much smaller percentage of Americans will even know what the Boston Tea Party was by, say, 2029. Reports the Associated Press:

Just 13 percent of high school seniors who took the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress, called the Nation’s Report Card, showed a solid grasp of the subject. Results released Tuesday showed the two other grades didn’t perform much better, with just 22 percent of fourth-grade students and 18 percent of eighth-graders demonstrating proficiency.

The test quizzed students on topics including colonization, the American Revolution and the Civil War, and the contemporary United States. For example, one question asked fourth-graders to name an important result of the U.S. building canals in the 1800s. Only 44 percent knew that it was increased trade among states.

Historic literacy and illiteracy were already in the news after Sarah Palin stirred up controversy by saying Paul Revere “warned the British” during his famous …

Continue reading It’s a good thing the tea party started in 2009 . . . »

We don’t need to end the uncertainty, just the bad policy

“Uncertainty” is one of the explanations that I and many other writers have given for the economy’s continued softness, particularly in hiring. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Clifford Asness of AQR Capital Management offers a rejoinder of sorts — arguing that uncertainty isn’t as big a problem as bad policy is:

Imagine, right now, we passed a giant additional wasteful stimulus. Imagine all the rules of Dodd-Frank were revealed and are even more stifling than we expected. Imagine we doubled the new health-care entitlement and expanded government control of health care more than previously predicted, but set all the details today. Imagine assorted government agencies passed more burdensome regulations than we anticipated, increasing both the cost of doing business and the drag of crony capitalism. But all uncertainty was resolved by passing them today.

Next imagine that the president promised, in no “uncertain” terms, to up his hectoring of business in perpetuity. Further, …

Continue reading We don’t need to end the uncertainty, just the bad policy »

N.H. debate: Romney, Bachmann up; Cain, Pawlenty down

Quick take on the New Hampshire debate:

1. Mitt Romney did nothing to diminish his front-runner status and may have even burnished it, so he’s the winner.

2. Michele Bachmann is the biggest upward mover. She was well-prepared, well-spoken, paid attention to the details and should have shed the “Palin Jr.” tag.

3. Herman Cain is the biggest downward mover. He didn’t do anything bad, but he’s starting to sound a tad repetitive and he seemingly was ignored by the questioners for long stretches of time. To be fair, just about everybody had at least one such stretch without speaking, but Cain seemed rather invisible. The expectations are higher for him now, and I don’t really think he met them Monday.

4. Newt Gingrich just might have done well enough to persuade some people to work for him. Seriously, though: He had a mostly good night, but it’s still hard to see this campaign ending with success for him.

5. Tim Pawlenty had some good answers — on growth, on labor laws, on faith — …

Continue reading N.H. debate: Romney, Bachmann up; Cain, Pawlenty down »

Second GOP debate: The magnificent seven?

As discussed earlier, the six candidates and one not-yet-candidate (Michele Bachmann) in tonight’s Republican presidential debate have much to gain. We’ll see if any of them do that — or manage to lose anything several months before the voting begins.

I’ll be making observations in the comments thread below and on Twitter. Join the fray here or there.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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Continue reading Second GOP debate: The magnificent seven? »

New Senate leader comes a year too late for Georgia Dems

The AJC’s Political Insider notes this morning that Georgia Senate Democrats next week will elect a new leader to replace Robert Brown, who is leaving his Senate seat to run for mayor of Macon. Over at Peach Pundit, Mike Hassinger describes this as “much better news for the Democratic Party than it may appear”:

With Brown leaving and the experienced [Steve] Henson positioned as leader, Georgia Dems have the potential to move way from racial divisiveness and get themselves a bit of relevance.

That may be true, but I have to think Democrats missed the best window of opportunity they’ll have for awhile. During this year’s session, with the Republican Senate leadership mired in intramural mud-slinging (Beth Merkleson, call your office), Senate Democrats could have made a huge policy impact. One need only look at the good showing House Democrats, under the strong leadership of  Rep. Stacey Abrams, made despite having a similarly undersized caucus and facing a much more unified …

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