Motto I try to live by: Quality rather than appearance
Ethics rather than rules
Knowledge rather than achievement
Integrity rather than domination
Serenity rather than acquisition
Ayn Rand: Man is an heroic being
His own happiness as the main purpose of his life
Productive achievement as his noblest activity
Reason as his only absolute
Article on Obama's strategy for getting re-elected. Out of FDR's playbook. Rex Tugwell was an acknowledged Communist sympathizer and admirer of Stalin. Read "The Forgotten Man" by Amity Shlaes. (See 1 below.)
This from a very dear long time friend and fellow memo reader whose family escaped Castro at night, were able to take nothing with them and were among the country's social elite.
Fortunately the story ends happily as they regained their medical licenses and became respected psychiatrists. "Dick, this is what has happened to Cuba under communism.
Will we be like this in 50 years?
This country of ours is being taken over but not by socialists but by communists and islamists.
What a nefarious combination!!!!!!!
I cant wait till 2012. I truly hope America does something about its destiny."
D.C. is where it is at. Doesn't this make you feel comforted that our D.C bureaucrats are so well fed and are being taken care of in the fashion they are seeking for all of us peons! Go Obama. You have brought about marvelous change. The kind to which we all aspire. Another four years and you might have everyone working for the government and think how rich we will become. (See 2 below.)
Confirms my thinking. Just a matter of when. (See 3, 3a and 3b below.)
Another view of Obama's mortgage forgiveness plan. (See 4 below.)
On the surface and after a quick perusal, Perry's Flat Tax proposal appears preferable to Cain's 9-9-9.
Perry's plan is a take on Steve Forbes's plan which was good when he pushed it and looks even better now but Cain got the ball rolling and hopefully something will come of it but would not hold my breath. (See 5 below.)
Meanwhile, Perry just can't keep on track and his lack of personal appeal undercuts his thinking. Perry's plan if sold by Cain would make me feel better about its possible passage. (See 5a below.) ---
Let's hear it for Obama and Socialism. (See 6 below.)
This was written by the brother of a dear friend, our personal attorney and fellow memo reader. His brother spoke for me at The JEA Speaker Series last year. (See 7 below. )
1) Obama's Re-Election Model Is FDR
With the economy sinking in 1937, Roosevelt accused business of sabotage.
By PAUL MORENO
President Obama is cozying up to the "Occupy Wall Street" movement, intending to make resentment of big business a central theme of his re-election campaign. Here he's following the lead of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who tried to convince the public that Wall Street was to blame for the double-dip recession that plagued his second administration.
In late 1937 the American economy, which had been recovering slowly since 1932, contracted even more sharply than it had after the stock market crash in late 1929. Industrial production fell by a third, stock prices fell by 50%, durable goods production by almost 80%. Payrolls fell 35%, and unemployment climbed back to 20%.
Roosevelt was initially nonplused, slow to appreciate the severity of the downturn. But once he saw the need for action, he called Congress into special session and undertook a massive new public-spending program.
Roosevelt and his advisers blamed the recession on a "capital strike," trying to deflect public alarm about the United Auto Workers' sit-down strikes—really illegal occupations of assembly plants—onto the shoulders of corporations. They even claimed that big business was deliberately refusing to invest and increase payrolls as part of a political gambit to destroy the New Deal.
Privately, FDR told Robert Jackson, head of the Justice Department's antitrust division (and a future Supreme Court justice), "Bob, I'm sick of sitting here kissing [businessmen's] asses to get them to" invest and increase employment. Publicly, Jackson agreed in a December 1937 speech that the country faced a "strike of capital" by business in order to get New Deal legislation repealed. He denounced the notion that the president's program was antibusiness. Given the "astounding profits under the present administration," he said, "big business will never be able to convince the American people that it has been imposed on, destroyed, or even threatened. It has merely been saved from ruin and restored to arrogance."
Interior Secretary Harold Ickes upped the ante, claiming that the economy was dominated by a handful of interlocked plutocrats who were on a "sit-down strike" against the government. "It is happening here," he said in an NBC radio speech, alluding to Sinclair Lewis's novel, "It Can't Happen Here," about a fascist takeover of America. The nation really did face the specter of "big business fascism."
In his 1936 re-election campaign, Roosevelt had likened big business to "autocratic institutions that beget slavery at home and aggression abroad" and "a power-seeking minority." Now, with the economy in a serious downturn, he returned to this theme, calling on Congress in April 1938 to investigate industrial concentration, reiterating his first-term complaint about "banker control of industry."
Later that year, with the midterm election looming, he claimed that "the growth of private power [reaches] a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism." A few days before the election, the president said that "if American democracy ceases to move forward . . . to better the lot of our citizens, then Fascism and Communism, aided, unconsciously perhaps, by old-line Tory Republicanism, will grow in our land."
American students are all familiar with the "Red Scare" that followed World War I, and even more with the one led by Joseph McCarthy in the early years of the Cold War. But they almost never hear of the "Brown Scare" of the 1930s, when liberals painted political opponents as incipient fascists.
FDR told former speechwriter Rex Tugwell late in 1937 that he "wanted to scare these people into doing something." It was an odd strategy, trying to vilify business into creating jobs. And it didn't work well.
While his lieutenants were trying to depict American industrialists as brownshirts, Roosevelt's 1937 efforts to "pack" the Supreme Court and to purge conservatives in the 1938 Democratic primaries made him look like the real threat to democracy. In March of that year he felt compelled to tell the press that he had "no inclination to be a dictator." Nevertheless, the Republicans recovered from near-extinction in the midterm and the New Deal came to a halt.
President Obama is perfectly capable of resorting to antibusiness demagoguery. In his 2010 State of the Union he berated the Supreme Court for allegedly reversing "a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests—including foreign corporations—to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities."
And in one of his speeches last summer on debt reduction, the president singled out "corporate jet owners and oil companies" for allegedly unfair tax breaks, and he asked "how can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries?" We may hear more, much more in coming months, if the economy continues to flounder.
Mr. Moreno is a professor of history at Hillsdale College and the author of "Black Americans and Organized Labor: A New History," (Louisiana State University Press, 2006).
2) Life is good in the capital of crony capitalism
By: Gene Healy
In the wake of Apple CEO Steve Jobs's death -- and in the midst of the ongoing "Occupy Wall Street" protests--came an ominous report from Bloomberg News last week:
"Beltway Earnings Make U.S. Capital Richer Than Silicon Valley." According to the latest Census figures, Washington, D.C. is now the wealthiest metropolitan area in the United States.
That's good news for local property values, but I can't say it fills me with hometown pride. After all, Silicon Valley's wealth was earned -- just rewards voluntarily given for producing innovations that have dramatically improved our lives.
In contrast, D.C.'s prosperity reflects a parasite economy that battens on wealth created by others. We live in a vast, metastasizing tick of a city, swollen on the lifeblood it drains from the body politic. This is one race the home team deserved to lose.
As former Slate reporter Jack Shafer once put it, "Washington doesn't make anything except scandals." But its "regulatory powers, its executive orders, its judicial decisions, its ability to conjure money out of thin air, and its budget-making authority," give D.C. the ability to dictate "who can do business and how."
This city's wealth is largely based on what public choice economists call "rent-seeking," using the political process to rig the game in one's favor -- through subsidies, tariffs, regulatory advantages, and other benefits unavailable via free and fair competition.
"The rent-seeking is too damn high!" economist Alex Tabarrok quipped upon reading the Bloomberg report. True enough: spending on lobbyists set another record last year, at $3.5 billion, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Other factors that allowed Washington to edge out San Jose, according to Bloomberg, include "federal employees whose compensation averages more than $126,000," the burgeoning Military/Homeland-Security Industrial Complex, "the nation's greatest concentration of lawyers," and a glut of federal dollars that's kept regional unemployment three points lower than the national average.
Indeed, as the Wall Street Journal reported last year, the District and neighboring congressional districts in Maryland and Virginia soaked up over $3.7 billion of President Obama's stimulus package--almost $2,000 per resident, "nearly three times the national average."
To the extent the "Occupy" protests aimed at Wall Street and K Street have a common theme, it's concern about economic inequality. Given the Occupiers' complaints about "Crony Capitalism," though, this doesn't look like simple leftist resentment of the productive. But this "We are the 99 percent" business is far too pat.
As my former colleague Will Wilkinson argued in a 2009 Cato Institute Study entitled :Thinking Clearly about Economic Inequality," "at best, income inequality is a distraction." Wealth disparities are not, by themselves, some sort of automatic indicator of injustice.
Unequal wealth can be a just result of free and fair exchange, where talented Americans reap rewards from providing goods and services their fellow citizens greatly value -- as in the case of Steve Jobs--in which case, there's no injustice to remedy.
Or it can be the result of "predation by political elites," in which case, it's the predation that should be tackled directly, Wilkinson argues, so "the fire is the problem, not the alarm."
That the hometown of the political class has passed the home of the creative class in wealth and influence is genuine cause for alarm. Washington, D.C. is the capital of Crony Capitalism -- and it's only growing richer. That inequality is worth worrying about.
Examiner Columnist Gene Healy is a vice president at the Cato Institute and the author of "The Cult of the Presidency."
3)Gaffney: Rise of Sharia Law Will Bring War to the Middle East
By Martin Gould and Kathleen Walter
War is on its way in the Middle East as Muslim countries are determined to force a showdown over the future of Israel, Ronald Reagan’s assistant defense secretary Frank Gaffney warned in an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview.
“I’m afraid there’s a war coming, a very serious, perhaps cataclysmic regional war,” he said. “It will be presumably over, at least in part, the future existence of the state of Israel. It may involve all of its neighbors, as they have in the past, attacking Israel to try, as they say, to drive the Jews into the sea.
“It may involve the use of nuclear weapons,” Gaffney predicted. “But whatever form it takes and whenever it occurs, it is unlikely to be contained to that region, and we must do everything we can to prevent freedom’s enemies from thinking they have an opportunity to engage in that kind of warfare.”
That means standing “absolutely, unmistakably” as one with Israel and doing everything to prevent Iran getting its hands on nuclear weapons.
Gaffney, who now heads up the nonprofit Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., was speaking on the day that the “moderate” Islamist party Ennahda claimed victory at the ballot box in Tunisia and the day after Libya’s new rulers declared that country will be run on Islamic principles and under Sharia law.
Gaffney does not believe Ennahda is really a moderating force. “I don’t believe there is such a thing as a moderate Islamist party,” he said. “The challenge with Islamists is that they seek to impose what they call Sharia on everybody, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.
“They may, as a matter of tactical expediency, choose to do so in incremental ways, often nonviolently, at least initially.
“The problem is that, because ultimately they must — according to Sharia, according to what they believe is God’s will — make everyone feel subdued in order to achieve their God-mandated direction, they will not remain moderate. They will not be satisfied with anything less than the ultimate supremacy of Sharia and they certainly will not resist the use of violence when it becomes expedient to get their way.”
Gaffney, who writes a regular column for Newsmax, foresees a rising tide of Islamist governments growing throughout Middle East and North Africa and spreading even further.
“We’re witnessing not just the violent kind of jihad that these Islamists believe God compels them to engage in, but also, where they must for tactical reasons, a more stealthy kind, or civilizational jihad as the Muslim Brotherhood calls it. We’re witnessing that playing out, not only in places in the Middle East but also in Europe, in Australia, in Canada and here in the United States as well,” he said.
The spread of Sharia, which Gaffney said often is referred to as “Communism with a god,” is “the most urgent and grievous challenge we face as a free people.
“Those who follow this program of Sharia believe that God is directing them to engage in jihad or whatever form of warfare is necessary to accomplish their goals . . . .Through stealth, they have successfully penetrated important parts of the free world including our own government and civil society institutions.”
The Obama administration has to stop “embracing” the Muslim Brotherhood, Gaffney said.
“This is legitimating our enemies,” he said. “It is facilitating their influence operations and their penetration and it greatly increases the prospect that they will be successful at what the Muslim Brotherhood’s own documents indicate is their desire, which is to destroy western civilization from within.”
Gaffney noted that Ennahda had won what appears to be a clean election in Tunisia, but that doesn’t mean there ever will be another vote there.
“The problem is not simply democracy. People are pointing to Tunisia as a perfect example of democracy at work. Democracy is fine if all you want is one-man-one-vote one-time. That is precisely what the Muslim Brotherhood and its like-minded Islamist friends want.”
The Obama administration must apply pressure to ensure that democracy has a future there and elsewhere in the region, Gaffney said.
“The president and his administration are not even pursuing that,” he said. “What we are likely to wind up with, not just in Tunisia, not just in Libya, not just in Egypt, but probably in due course in Syria — as we have in Lebanon, as we have in Gaza and probably will have down the road in Yemen, Bahrain, maybe Saudi Arabia — is the takeover, the unmistakable takeover, perhaps through the ballot box, of people who will not seek or allow others freedom, who will impose Sharia and who will use whatever resources they amass as a result, not only to suppress their own people, but to endanger us.”
3a) Captain America Abandons the Entire Middle East
By James Lewis
I doubt President Obama loves the name "Captain America," but that's the job he was elected to do in 2008. National security is the president's first job. But Obama has been by far the most catastrophic captain of the ship of state in American history in every conceivable way.
The last two weeks have seen more dagger-stabs in the back to the Muslim Middle East: yes, Obama has tried shafting Israel over and over again, but also the much more fragile Saudis and Gulf oil states, a very vulnerable Egypt (by publicly endorsing overthrowing President Mubarak and supporting a Muslim Brothers grab for his office), Libya (which had abandoned its nuclear program after Bush invaded Iraq), and now Iraq itself.
Retired Army General John M. Keane just denounced Obama's off-like-a-rabbit strategy from Iraq. Keane was the author of the "U.S. surge" that essentially won that war --though not to the point of permanent stability. We stayed in Japan and Germany for decades after winning those wars.
"I think it's an absolute disaster," said Gen. Keane. "We won the war in Iraq, and we're now losing the peace."
General Keane is not the kind of man to talk about "absolute disaster" if it isn't literally true. "Forty-four hundred lives lost," Gen. Keane said. "Tens of thousands of troops wounded. Over a couple hundred thousand Iraqis killed. We liberated 25 million people. There is only one Arab Muslim country that elects its own government, and that is Iraq."
"We should be staying there to strengthen that democracy, to let them get the kind of political gains they need to get and keep the Iranians away from strangling that country. That should be our objective, and we are walking away from that objective."
The Heritage Foundation is also sounding the alarm. Even Senator McCain sounds outraged and alarmed, and it takes a lot to do that.
Now StrategyPage reports that the Syrian Army is on the run against the rebels, meaning that Sunni Muslims are likely to take over from the minority Shiite regime of the Assads.
Just last week StrategyPage reported that the "Arab Spring" has turned into an enormous massacre, taking some 25,000 lives. But watch -- the New York Times still thinks it's Springtime for Hitler in Tehran.
Add to all that the giant Islamist election turnout in Tunisia, and the new piratical "liberators" of Libya, and we are seeing a huge radicalization and throwback of the entire Arab Middle East.
The winners? The radical reactionaries of Iran, Turkey, and the Sunni Arab countries. The losers? Modernization, democracy, and peace.
In maritime history, the captain would be the last person to abandon ship. In Obama's administration, the captain is "leading from behind."
Just watch his dust as he scampers off over the horizon.
When Jimmy Carter shafted the shah of Iran in 1979, a million people died in the resulting Iran-Iraq War. The Gulf War of 1992 followed Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, another consequence of Jimmy's gross abandonment of the most stable regime in the Middle East.
Obama has now wrapped up Carter's betrayal of the Muslim Middle East. Carter destroyed only one powerful American ally. Obama has started to do in all the others.
There's just one spot of light in the Egyptian darkness: Israel is turning out to be the single most stable government in the region, bar none. While Syria is tottering and Egypt has crashed, while Libya is now controlled by rebels with reported al-Qaeda links and even Tunisia has huge radical Muslims demonstrations, with an al-Qaeda civil war going on in Yemen and Iranian nuclear weapons soon to be 50 miles away from Saudi oil fields, only Israel has not even bothered to have a parliamentary election. Israel has seen a big but peaceful "Cottage Cheese Rebellion" against the high price of food.
Israel (and Cyprus) have together discovered a vast shale source of natural gas under the Mediterranean, thereby driving the radical Turkish "neo-Ottoman" regime into stuttering incoherence. Because Israel liberalized its economy under Benjamin Netanyahu as finance minister ten years ago, it has largely escaped the chaos of the Greek and Spanish defaults, to be followed by other European governments running out of welfare money to buy votes.
If you want to have a permanent American ally in the Middle East, you've got to have only one choice left: Israel. Egypt has lost control over the Sinai Desert, the huge buffer between the contending tank armies of previous wars. Syria has a Russian naval base. Lebanon is controlled by Iran. Iran has now been run for thirty years by hair-raising maniacs with an advanced nuclear program.
If Obama's suicidal actions in the Middle East don't lead to a major regional war, it will only be a matter of dumb luck. I'm placing my bets the other way. I'm sorry. I think we're in for big, big trouble.
Jimmy Carter's stab-in-the-back to the shah killed more than a million people and enabled the rise of the first truly throwback (12th-century) Islamofascist regime in the Middle East.
Pretty soon, Obama will have to return his Nobel Peace Prize to Oslo. I sure hope the Peace Prize Committee included return postage with his shiny medal, so he won't have to spend his own money FedExing it back to sender.
3b)Who lost the world? Obama has paved the way for an explosive era
By Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
Conventional wisdom has it that the 2012 presidential election will be all about the dismal economy, unemployment and the soaring deficit. That appears a safe bet because such matters touch the electorate, are much in the news at the moment and have indisputably become worse on Barack Obama's watch.
It seems increasingly likely, however, that the American people will have a whole lot more to worry about by next fall. Indeed, the way things are going, by November 2012, we may see the Middle East - and perhaps other parts of the planet - plunged into a cataclysmic war.
Consider just a few of the straws in the wind of a gathering storm:
• Moammar Gadhafi's death last week prompted the Obama administration to trumpet the president's competence as commander in chief and the superiority of his "small footprint," "lead-from-behind" approach to waging war over the more traditional - and costly and messy - one pursued by George W. Bush. The bloom came off that false rose on Sunday when Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council, repeatedly declared his government's fealty to Shariah, Islam's brutally repressive, totalitarian political-military-legal doctrine.
Among other things, Mr. Abdul-Jalil said Shariah would be the "basic source" of all legislation. Translation: Forget about representative democracy. Under Shariah, Allah - not man - makes the laws.
In short, the result of Mr. Obama's $2 billion expenditure to oust Gadhafi is a regime that will be led by jihadists, controls vast oil reserves and has inherited a very substantial arsenal (although some of it - including reportedly as many as 20,000 surface-to-air missiles - has "gone missing"). This scarcely can be considered a victory for the United States and probably will prove a grave liability.
• An Islamist party called Ennahda seems likely to have captured the lion's share of the votes cast in the first free election in Tunisia. Although we are assured it is a "moderate" religious party, the same has long been said of Turkey's governing AKP party. Unfortunately, we have lately seen the latter's true colors as it has become ever more insistent at home on jettisoning the secular form of government handed down by Mustafa Kemal Attaturk and acted ever more aggressively abroad. A similar transformation can be expected, later if not sooner, of any Shariah-adherent political movement.
• In Egypt, meanwhile, the agenda of the Islamists' mother ship - the Muslim Brotherhood - is being adopted even before elections formally bring it to power. The interim military government has abetted efforts to punish and even kill the Coptic Christian minority. It has facilitated the arming of the Brotherhood's franchise in Gaza and allowed the Sinai to become the launching pad for al Qaeda and others' attacks on Israel.
Egypt's transitional regime also helped broker the odious exchange of more than 1,000 convicted terrorists held by Israel for a single soldier kidnapped and held hostage for five years by Hamas. Upon their release, the convicts with Jewish blood on their hands received heroes' welcomes even as they affirmed their desire to destroy Israel and called for the seizure of still more Israelis to spring their comrades still behind bars. This does not augur well for either the Jewish state or for our interests.
• The increasingly mercurial Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has announced that - despite the long-running, immensely costly and ongoing U.S. effort to protect his kleptocratic government - in a war between Pakistan and the United States, Afghanistan would side with Pakistan. The magnitude of this insulting repudiation of America is all the greater since Pakistan is widely seen as doing everything it can to re-establish the Taliban in Kabul.
In Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has touted his success in thwarting Washington's belated (and halfhearted) efforts to keep a significant number of U.S. forces in his country after the end of this year. His coalition partner and fellow Iranian cat's paw, Muqtada al-Sadr, already is boasting that he also will drive out the American contractor personnel who are, for the moment, expected to provide a measure of security after the military withdraws. In that case, we may well see the mullahs' agents take over a U.S. embassy for the second time since 1979 - this one the newest, largest and most expensive in the world.
Add to this litany an emboldened and ascendant China, a revanchist Russia once again under the absolute control of Vladimir Putin, a Mexico free-falling into civil war with narcotraffickers and their Hezbollah allies on our southern border and you get a world that is fraught with peril for the United States. Matters are made infinitely worse by the prospect of reckless budget cuts hollowing out the U.S. military.
The Republican candidates to succeed Mr. Obama are beginning to find their voices on the national security portfolio. They will be formally debating the president's sorry record in coming weeks. The question the American people will want answered is not only "Who lost the world?" but what they will do to get it back.
4)Morici: Obama Mortgage Plan to Spark Credit Crisis
By Forrest Jones
President Barack Obama's plan to allow homeowners owing more than their houses are worth to refinance will create a credit crisis down the road, says Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Business and former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission.
The program seeks to prevent foreclosures by allowing homeowners still current on their federally guaranteed mortgages to refinance even if their home values have dropped below what they still owe.
"That is a prescription for more failed loans and another crisis in mortgage finance down the road or huge losses for U.S. taxpayers that can only be accommodated by even bigger deficits and printing money," Morici writes in a RealClearMarkets column.
"For example, homes underwater by 50 percent today will sooner or later be sold and then what? Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac get stuck with the loss. Either future homebuyers seeking loans will have to pay outsized fees to cover these fees, or the taxpayers bail out these government sponsored institutions yet again. Either way, the housing market will take a big future hit, for campaign largess granted today."
Furthermore, the program doesn't address declining home values and won't likely fuel consumer spending by freeing up money otherwise going to hefty housing payments.
"It is politically inspired and an economically irresponsible act that could easily result in many more foreclosures and another credit collapse down the road," Morici says.
Other critics say the move will increase burdens on taxpayers.
"It has the added negative effect of transferring consequences, liabilities, and risks from the financial institutions which entered into loans that are now underwater ultimately to taxpayers," says House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus, according to Reuters.
5) My Tax and Spending Reform Plan
Individuals will have the option of paying a 20% flat-rate income tax and I'll cap spending at 18% of GDP
By RICK PERRY
The folks in Washington might not like to hear it, but the plain truth is the U.S. government spends too much. Taxes are too high, too complex, and too riddled with special interest loopholes. And our expensive entitlement system is unsustainable in the long run.
Without significant change quickly, our nation will go the way of some in Europe: mired in debt and unable to pay our bills. President Obama and many in Washington seem unable or unwilling to tackle these issues, either out of fear of alienating the left or because they want Americans to be dependent on big government.
On Tuesday I will announce my "Cut, Balance and Grow" plan to scrap the current tax code, lower and simplify tax rates, cut spending and balance the federal budget, reform entitlements, and grow jobs and economic opportunity.
The plan starts with giving Americans a choice between a new, flat tax rate of 20% or their current income tax rate. The new flat tax preserves mortgage interest, charitable and state and local tax exemptions for families earning less than $500,000 annually, and it increases the standard deduction to $12,500 for individuals and dependents.
This simple 20% flat tax will allow Americans to file their taxes on a postcard, saving up to $483 billion in compliance costs. By eliminating the dozens of carve-outs that make the current code so incomprehensible, we will renew incentives for entrepreneurial risk-taking and investment that creates jobs, inspires Americans to work hard and forms the foundation of a strong economy. My plan also abolishes the death tax once and for all, providing needed certainty to American family farms and small businesses.
My plan restores American competitiveness in the global marketplace and provides strong incentives for U.S.-based employers to build new factories and create thousands of jobs here at home.
First, we will lower the corporate tax rate to 20%—dropping it from the second highest in the developed world to a rate on par with our global competitors. Second, we will encourage the swift repatriation of some of the $1.4 trillion estimated to be parked overseas by temporarily lowering the rate to 5.25%. And third, we will transition to a "territorial tax system"—as seen in Hong Kong and France, for example—that only taxes in-country income.
The mind-boggling complexity of the current tax code helps large corporations with lawyers and accountants devise the best tax-avoidance strategies money can buy. That is why Cut, Balance and Grow also phases out corporate loopholes and special-interest tax breaks to provide a level playing field for employers of all sizes.
To help older Americans, we will eliminate the tax on Social Security benefits, boosting the incomes of 17 million current beneficiaries who see their benefits taxed if they continue to work and earn income in addition to Social Security earnings.
We will eliminate the tax on qualified dividends and long-term capital gains to free up the billions of dollars Americans are sitting on to avoid taxes on the gain.
All of these tax cuts will be meaningless if we do not control federal spending. Last year the government spent $1.3 trillion more than it collected, and total federal debt now approaches $15 trillion. By the end of 2011, the Office of Management and Budget expects the gross amount of federal debt to exceed the size of America's entire economy for the first time in over 65 years.
Under my plan, we will establish a clear goal of balancing the budget by 2020. It will be an extremely difficult task exacerbated by the current economic crisis and our need for significant tax cuts to spur growth. But that growth is what will get us to balance, if we are willing to make the hard decisions of cutting.
We should start moving toward fiscal responsibility by capping federal spending at 18% of our gross domestic product, banning earmarks and future bailouts, and passing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. My plan freezes federal civilian hiring and salaries until the budget is balanced. And to fix the regulatory excess of the Obama administration and its predecessors, my plan puts an immediate moratorium on pending federal regulations and provides a full audit of all regulations passed since 2008 to determine their need, impact and effect on job creation.
ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank and Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley must be quickly repealed and, if necessary, replaced by market-oriented, common-sense measures.
America must also once and for all face up to entitlement reform. To preserve benefits for current and near-term Social Security beneficiaries, my plan permanently stops politicians from raiding the program's trust fund. Congressional IOUs are no substitute for workers' Social Security payments. We should use the federal Highway Trust Fund as a model for protecting the integrity of a pay-as-you-go system.
Cut, Balance and Grow also gives younger workers the option to own their Social Security contributions through personal retirement accounts that Washington politicians can never raid. Because young workers will own their contributions, they will be free to seek a market rate of return if they choose, and to leave their retirement savings to their dependents when they die.
Fixing America's tax, spending and entitlement cultures will not be easy. But the status quo of byzantine taxes, loose spending and the perpetual delay of entitlement reform is a recipe for disaster.
Cut, Balance and Grow strikes a major blow against the Washington-knows-best mindset. It takes money from spendthrift bureaucrats and returns it to families. It puts fewer job-killing regulations on employers and more restrictions on politicians. It gives more freedom to Americans to control their own destiny. And just as importantly, the Cut, Balance and Grow plan paves the way for the job creation, balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility we need to get America working again.
Mr. Perry, a Republican, is the governor of Texas and a candidate for president.
5a)Perry Muddles Flat-Tax Message With Dig at Obama on ‘Birther’ Issue.
By Patrick O'Connor
GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry stepped on his own message Tuesday by joking about the so-called birther issue in an interview to trumpet his ambitious proposal to establish a 20% flat tax on individuals and corporations.
The Texas governor is set to unveil a tax plan Tuesday in South Carolina that would allow Americans to choose between their current tax rates or a flat 20% on wage income.
But Mr. Perry muddled that message by wading back into a long-dormant controversy over whether President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. and is therefore ineligible for the presidency.
“It’s a good issue to keep alive. It’s fun to poke at him,” Mr. Perry told CNBC’s John Harwood, according to a Twitter post from Mr. Harwood.
Mr. Perry had revived the birther controversy in an interview that ran in Parade magazine over the weekend. In that interview, he said Donald Trump still doesn’t believe the president was born in Hawaii. Mr. Perry said he has no reason not to believe the president but wouldn’t dismiss the controversy outright.
The Texas governor wants to make the flat-tax proposal the hallmark of his campaign and hopes its introduction will revive his prospect after a sustained drop in the polls. Mr. Perry also announced a slate of staff changes on Monday night meant to refocus his campaign.
The flat-tax proposal, which he wrote about in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Tuesday, would preserve popular deductions for mortgage interest and charitable deductions for people who earn less than $500,000-a-year. It would also increase the standard deduction to $12,500 for individuals and dependents. And it would eliminate taxes on inheritance and investment income, while scrapping scores of other tax breaks. The plan also would lower the corporate tax rate to 20% from 35%.
In the CNBC interview, Mr. Perry brushed aside the expected attacks that his plan would benefit the wealthy at the expense of lower- and middle-income Americans, saying he wants wealthier people to have money to invest in their businesses.
“It’s a tax cut across the board. It doesn’t matter what strata you’re in,” he said. “I’ll take the criticism, if that’s what comes.”
The Texas governor acknowledged that his plan would likely cause the deficit to spike in the short-term because the government would lose much-needed revenue.
“I’m looking long-term,” he said in response to a question about the deficit impact. “I’m looking to get this country back on the track.”
Before unveiling the plan, Mr. Perry also took aim at his top rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has been tailoring his message to middle-class voters, calling the former private equity investor a “fat cat.”
6)MEMO TO OWS PROTESTERS: IF SOCIALISM OR THE WELFARE STATE WORKED, THEN...
THEN USSR WOULD BE THE RICHEST COUNTRY ON EARTH.
1.AND NORTH KOREANS WOULD LIVE BETTER THAN SOUTH KOREANS.
2.WEST GERMANS WOULD HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET INTO EAST GERMAN.
3.FLORIDIANS WOULD BE TRYING TO GET INTO CUBA.
4.MAO'S CHINA WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN AN IMPOVERISHED LAND OF STARVATION AND MODERN CHINA WOULDN'T BE THE 2ND LARGEST ECONOMY IN THE WORLD.
5.GREECE, IRELAND, ITALY AND SPAIN WOULDN'T BE GOING BANKRUPT AND DESTROYING THE EURO-ZONE.
6. RHODE ISLAND, ILLINOIS AND CALIFORNIA WOULDN'T BE GOING BANKRUPT.
IT'S A FACT. EVERYWHERE IT'S BEEN TRIED Hayek was rght whe he wrote: "THE ROAD TO SERFDOM."
As Margaret Thatcher said about Socialism: "Sooner or later, they run out of other peoples' money."
7) Political journeys of an ‘idealist without illusions’
By David Lowe
“There was no more eloquent and effective advocate on behalf of every major democracy movement over the past three decades” than former U.S. Congressman Stephen J. Solarz. He was not only “a muscular voice on foreign policy …who challenged dictators and colleagues alike,” but he was one of that rare breed – a reflective practitioner whose memoirs are as educational as they are entertaining.
Memoirs by political figures are often written to defend and justify one’s career, answer critics, settle scores, or simply entertain. The political memoirist who writes to educate and succeeds in doing so is rare indeed. Such is the case of the late Stephen J. Solarz in his recently published autobiography Journeys to War and Peace: a Congressional Memoir (Brandeis University Press, 2011).
Solarz represented the 13th Congressional District encompassing part of the New York City Borough of Brooklyn from 1974 to 1993. The child of a broken home in which he was abandoned first by his mother and later by his step- mother, he acquired an interest in politics at an early age. Managing an unsuccessful congressional campaign as a young graduate student in government at Columbia in the mid-1960s, he learned, among many valuable lessons, “the politically toxic effects of our escalating involvement in Vietnam.”
After a brief stint in the New York State Assembly, Solarz managed to defeat a popular Brooklyn congressman by capitalizing on the latter’s indictment for bribery and perjury, which, as his friend Barney Frank later pointed out to his audience’s amusement at a Solarz campaign fundraiser, would become a recurring pattern, each time advancing his career. Joining the celebrated “Watergate class” of young liberal Democrats elected in 1974, Solarz decided that a seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee would enable him “to combine my personal commitment to Israel and to ending the American military involvement in Vietnam,” two popular positions in a district that had both the largest number of Jews and Holocaust survivors in the country and a sizeable anti-war constituency.
Members of the U.S. Congress who succeed in influencing foreign policy are either Senators (think of Richard Lugar, John Kerry, and John McCain) or those in that select group of representatives who manage primarily through seniority to ascend to the chairmanship of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Solarz never achieved his dream of becoming the chairman, his career shortened after nine terms by a New York State redistricting plan that carved up his district and by the check overdraft scandal at the House bank in which he was identified as one of the leading offenders.
Nonetheless, he was able to use the platforms provided during his tenure by his two subcommittee chairmanships (Africa and Asia) to become a major player on issues affecting these two regions. He managed this feat through an extraordinary work ethic, a punishing travel schedule, a talented staff, and an expertise built around a formidable intellect, an insatiable curiosity, and a healthy ego that enabled him to deal directly with foreign leaders as if they were his peers.
Solarz became associated with many of the major foreign policy issues of his time, particularly those within the jurisdiction of his subcommittees: the abolition of apartheid in South Africa, the demise of the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines, the transitions to democracy in South Korea and Taiwan, and the political settlement to the conflict in Cambodia. He describes these and other involvements in international issues through the lens of his personal encounters with world figures such as Nelson Mandela, Shimon Peres, Anwar Sadat, and Lech Walesa, as well as tyrants such as Saddam Hussein, Robert Mugabe, Fidel Castro, and Kim Il Sung, the latter of whom no American official had met with since the end of the Korean War. (One wishes he had avoided placing Singapore’s longtime leader Lee Kuan Yew among “some of the world’s greatest statesmen” with whom he met, which he does in his preface.)
Journeys to War and Peace is sprinkled with the author’s witty observations and his keen sense of irony. On Ferdinand Marcos and the 1986 Philippine election: “One lesson I learned from this experience is that if you’re a dictator and want U.S. support, you shouldn’t steal an election on American television.” On his decision to oppose the embargo on Turkey for its actions in Cypress: “I figured I could compensate for the lost support of the Greek Americans by winning the support of my Turkish American constituents. So I started looking for them. After several years, I finally found one.” And on his constituents in a newly drawn Hispanic majority district: “The fact that my ancestors had left Spain five hundred years earlier when they were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula didn’t qualify me as a Hispanic in their eyes.”
Solarz describes himself as an “idealist without illusions,” arguing for an activist foreign policy in the service of moral imperatives within practical limits. Although he cut his early political teeth on opposition to the Vietnam War, his thinking was deeply informed by the Holocaust (“the greatest evil in human history”) and the obligation it brought “to do everything we could” to make sure that its victims’ suffering was not in vain, a belief he said played a major role in his effort to seek an end to the Cambodian genocide.
Solarz’s tenure in Congress coincided with the period Samuel Huntington characterized as the “Third Wave” of democratization, and much of his effort was directed toward helping to push U.S. policy behind those struggling for democracy and human rights. In an excellent foreword, Norm Ornstein describes his own meetings during trips to the Philippines and Cambodia with political elites and common citizens alike who wanted to know if he actually knew Solarz, who had become a hero to them.
Following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in the summer of 1990, Solarz met his greatest challenge when he became the leading spokesman in the House and arguably the entire Congress for military intervention. To say the least, it was not a popular position, not among his Democratic colleagues, not with his party’s leaders, and not in his district, where daily peace vigils were held outside his district office in Brooklyn. (“I wasn’t sure whether they were praying for my salvation or my defeat.”)
To Solarz, the Vietnam War was an incorrect analogy to a situation he regarded as “America’s first big test as the sole superpower left in the world,” one that would determine “whether, in the post-Cold War world, international relations would or would not be characterized by the rule of law.” He described his decision to play a leading role as the most difficult decision he had to make in his eighteen years in Congress.
Although Journeys to War and Peace focuses primarily on Solarz’s encounters with foreign leaders, its most valuable contribution comes at the end in a brief epilogue of lessons learned. Here the man who gave up a one-year career teaching political science at Brooklyn College to enter public life offers a number of thoughtful foreign policy guidelines and prescriptions on such critical matters as striking the proper balance between the moral imperative to act and its potential consequences, calculating when to use military force, and resolving seemingly intractable conflicts. An early congressional enthusiast of the National Endowment for Democracy who later served on its Board of Directors, Solarz wisely advises those seeking to determine how to promote democracy in nations with repressive regimes to “consult the leaders of the struggle for democracy there, who usually know their countries’ political dynamics better than we do.”
Steve Solarz completed this memoir only three months before his untimely death from esophageal cancer last fall. To a political career of formidable accomplishment, he has added this important volume rich in insights about how America can continue to strive for a more just and humane world.
David E. Lowe is the Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). In this capacity, he is responsible for outreach to Capitol Hill, as well as the Endowment's government and media relations, publications, events, and Board-related activities.