Saturday, October 05, 2013

Cruising the Web

The Obama administration has been bending over backwards to maximize inconvenience to the public during the government shutdown. Here's a partial list of how they've gone above and beyond, even trying to shut down locations that aren't federal property or are in the open air. One park ranger was willing to tell the truth about what has been going on.
“It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation,” an angry Park Service ranger in Washington says of the harassment. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”
Yup. That's your federal government. Vets from both WWII and Vietnam have had to break down barriers to go see their memorials. Somehow it is essential to use park police to keep people from seeing these memorials when it wasn't so during the 1995 shutdown.

Maybe this is why Jay Carney can't cite anything done by Obama to ease the impact of the shutdown. Where's all that unitary executive power that the President is so fond of wielding to get what he actually wants?

And they won't even let states pay for reopening national parks like the Grand Canyon with their own money. And military chaplains are being threatened with arrest if they volunteer to perform without pay their religious duties to members of the military.

Scott Johnson tallies up the "lies of Obamacare." The President and his administration repeat these lies on a regular basis. As Johnson concludes,
In their own way the willfulness and magnitude of the falsehoods with which Obama sold Obamacare are shocking. We’ve become inured to it, but it is true. This is my refrain: If only we had a free press, Obamacare would be a bloody, unrelenting scandal, like Abu Ghraib, or Watergate. As it is, it is only business as usual for liberals and liberalism.

For those who doubt Johnson's list, they might want to check out the list of states where, due to Obamacare, individuals won't be able to keep their insurance.

Niall Ferguson discusses what the real problem our politicians should be discussing.
Yet, entertaining as all this political drama may seem, the theater itself is indeed burning. For the fiscal position of the federal government is in fact much worse today than is commonly realized. As anyone can see who reads the most recent long-term budget outlook—published last month by the Congressional Budget Office, and almost entirely ignored by the media—the question is not if the United States will default but when and on which of its rapidly spiraling liabilities.

True, the federal deficit has fallen to about 4% of GDP this year from its 10% peak in 2009. The bad news is that, even as discretionary expenditure has been slashed, spending on entitlements has continued to rise—and will rise inexorably in the coming years, driving the deficit back up above 6% by 2038.

A very striking feature of the latest CBO report is how much worse it is than last year's. A year ago, the CBO's extended baseline series for the federal debt in public hands projected a figure of 52% of GDP by 2038. That figure has very nearly doubled to 100%. A year ago the debt was supposed to glide down to zero by the 2070s. This year's long-run projection for 2076 is above 200%. In this devastating reassessment, a crucial role is played here by the more realistic growth assumptions used this year.
We've known that this crisis was looming for years. Periodically, politicians, particularly Republicans, try to take on mandatory entitlements and our coming debt problems, but they get attacked by the other party, as cruel men ready to throw granny over the cliff. Remember the attacks on Paul Ryan. And get ready for new attacks if the House GOP gets over their fruitless attempts to end or delay Obamacare and start using the debt limit debates to try to address our national debt.

When that debate begins, expect to hear more of what President Obama, as he told CNBC this week, seems to think is his record of keeping his rhetoric down and bending over backwards to work with the GOP. The WSJ revisits some of that calm rhetoric and language of compromise.
How could anyone get any other idea? Well, perhaps they were in Rockville, Maryland on Thursday, when Mr. Obama told a rally that the "single-greatest threat to our economy" is "the unwillingness of Republicans in Congress to stop refighting a settled election."

He went on to taunt "the Speaker of the House, John Boehner," who he said is acting as he is only because "he doesn't want to anger the extremists in his party. That's all. That's what this whole thing is about." Well, not all. It's also about "the Republican obsession" with "denying affordable health insurance to millions of Americans. That's all this has become about. That seems to be the only thing that unites the Republican Party these days."

Aficionados of the President's "calm" may also recall his comments in 2011 about Paul Ryan's House budget. With Mr. Ryan in the front row by White House invitation, Mr. Obama said that "Their vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America" and telling Americans including "children with autism or Down's syndrome" to "fend for themselves."

....We could go on for pages, because for Mr. Obama this kind of rhetoric is routine. He behaves as if the realities of a divided government are beneath him, and his first resort is to question motives and mock as insincere any differences of principle. One reason the shutdown debate is so inflamed is because Mr. Obama's politics of division and obloquy is being repaid in kind.
If you're interested in learning how the filibuster came to be used so often for almost everything, look to Harry Reid. It's the old story in Washington. One side ratchets up the tools it will use all in the name of partisanship and the other side takes those tools and brings it to a new level.