IS THIS A HOLLOW REFORM AGENDA

7/31/13
In 2012 the DOF spent a total of $651 billion, including the cost of fighting in Afghanistan. The white house project budget of 2014 will be $547 billion, but with sequestration triggered that figure will fall bellows $500 billion, a loss of more than 20% in just two years.
The observation that the “growing imbalances in the defense budget” imperial “the health and long-term viability of America’s volunteer military,” and agreed on three important elements of reform: the need to close excess bases, reduce the size of the civilian workforce, and limit the growth in cost of military compensation, particularly heath care.
Back in 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission estimated that the “implementation costs” of its recommendations, the expense of moving people and agencies from old bases to new ones, environmental restoration and the like—would require an additional $21 billion outlay. Last year the GAO reported cost had risen to $35.1 billion, thus reducing the anticipated savings by 72%. In other words the real expense of the US military comes form its size, not its location.
Defense civilian workforce growth since 9-11 is 17% while the active duty military grew by just 3.4%, which meant relying on the National Guard and reserves more.
Retired Marine general, Arnold Punaro adviser to Sen. Sam Nunn said the military is becoming “a benefits company that occasionally kills a terrorist”. And it’s true that the Pentagon has a real “entitlements” problem, in which health care cost, now about 10% of the defense budget, inexorably eat away funds for training and procurement.
As with civilian entitlements reforms, the best one can hope for is to restrain the rate of growth for the future.
In sum, when the budgetary puts and takes of the “consensus” reform proposals are calculated, the net savings over the next decade—the period covered by the budget act and sequestration—vanish. The small savings to be had from even the most optimistic workforce reductions and compensation cuts probably will be offset by the expense of base closures.

Source—weekly standard, gary Schmitt, Thomas donnelly

GOVERNMENT ISN’T US

7/31/13

Obama said, “in this democracy, we the people recognize that this government belongs to us, and it’s up to each of us and every one of us to make it work better. We can’t just stand on the sidelines. We can’t take comfort in just being cynical. We all have a stake in government success—because the government is us”. Obama 2010 at U. of Michigan.
“When our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it ignores the fact that in our democracy, government is us”. Ohio State in May.
Some will warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brace and creative and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.
Obama who fancies himself a scholar president in the mold of Woodrow Wilson, it is not asking too much for him to evince a little more understanding of the constitutional foundations of the republic.
This should induce some measure of skepticism about government for it points directly at the principal -agent problem. That is how can principals (voters) make sure that their agents (elected representatives) are actually working on behalf of the public, rather than for their own personal gain. Many times for instance, the policy demands of one faction will result in harm to another. If an aggressive faction holds a numerical majority, should the minority then expect to be plundered? How does that serve the public good?
Re James Madison summarizing the republic—-“the great desideratum in government is such a modification of the Sovereignty as will render it sufficiently neutral between the different interest and factions, to controul one part of the society form invading the rights of another, and at the same time sufficiently controuled itself, from setting up an interest adverse to that of the whole society.”
The lessons of the 1770’s and 1780’s was clear: Getting the government to do “our” business is much easier said than done.
Worrying about what the government is up to is not “paranoia”. It is healthy skepticism grounded in an understanding of the self-interested nature of man as evidenced by centuries of experience. Our government has violated the republican principle on a regular basis since it was established.
In 2008 , he claims to be the reformer; today he is the chief executive of a government in desperate need of reform.
Since he arrived on the national stage, Obama has tried to recast every criticism of himself as some sort of paranoid, fringe plot cooked up by knaves or fools. He is now trying to dump American luminaries like Madison and Jefferson, who dared wonder if government was really looking out for the people, into the crazy bin with the rest of us.

Source weekly standard, jay cost

FARM BILL FIASCO

7/31/13
With this month’s passage of a farm bill that doles out tens of billions of dollars in subsidies to agribusiness interest, the republicans house has signaled that the class of 2010 dream of small government is dead.
This bill gets almost everything wrong, it’s an exercise in client politics passed through antidemocratic tactics and expands some of the least useful federal programs while outspending both the demo senate and the profligate Obama white house.
Republicans leaders behind closed doors decided to cleave off the SNAP and move the bill’s agriculture titles as stand alone legislation. The rules committee adopted an “emergency” rule governing debate on the bill that would close it off to any amendments whatsoever. Then, despite commitments to make bill language available 72 hours ahead of time, they dropped a 608 page package of legislative text a mere 10 hours before votes were called. (SOUND FAMILIAR) Tucked inside were hastily drafted and poorly understood provisions that eliminated traditional five-year sunsets for commodity subsidies. The process mimicked the worst abuses of the previous Democratic majority!.
At a cost of nearly $196 billion over 10 years, it spends $1 billion more than companion agriculture language passed by the Demo controlled senate. Thought proponents claim that is will reduce the deficit by more than $12 billion over the next decade it actually increases spending by ore than $1 billion next year and schedules most of the savings for years 6-10.
The bill increases price guarantees for commodity crops and perhaps worst of all creates a new open-ended “shallow loss” program to insulate farmer from even small declines in prices. The law sets as a floor today’s near record high prices. The 2002 farm bill cost 30% more that CBO originally projected and the 2008 bill cost 43% more. House bill is devoid of structural changes that have broad bipartisan support in both chambers. The crop insurance scheme included no limitation or caps to prevent cost form spiraling out of control. If fails to include a policy called “conservative compliance” which has helped ensure that taxpayers are not on the hook for risky and environmentally destructive framing on sensitive lands. The senate passed legislation makes both improvements including a modest means test that reduces subsidies for those with adjusted gross income of more than $750,000. Average farm income is now about 25% higher that the average household income. Prices that framers receive for their products are at or near record highs.
Reform would have meant limiting crop insurance subsidies, particularly for rich farmer and not adding expensive new entitlements like “shallow loss”.
Sounds like a page out of the demo play book????
Sources—weekly standard, Andrew moylan

REID IT AND WEEP

7/31/13
Harry Reid said that taking away the senate minority’s right to filibuster would be outrageous and even criminal. “That contempt for the rule of law and the law of rules,” Reid said, “ will set a new precedent—an illegal precedent—that will always remain on the pages of senate history.” This statement was made May 22, 2005.
The filibuster is the process by which the smaller party in the senate can prevent the closing of debate and thus a vote on any senate measure where it controls 40 votes. It is dubbed the “nuclear option”.
Now after 6 years into a demo senate majority, crushing the filibuster doesn’t look as “illegal” as it once did.
It just so happened that Reid and McCain have cut a deal whereby president Obama gets all his nominees and Republicans get to keep the filibuster for the time being—wonder if they kissed too?
The senate has often stood as an impediment to turning the fad of the week into the Law of the Land.
Republicans have been too ready to accept demo principles, particularly when it come to the CFPB.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) introduced, as part of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill has always been a bad match with the crisis it was meant to manage. The crash of 2008 was the fault of badly overleveraged banks and households.
But these were not problems of the core of the system, in the way that…that’s say, for example, the bonuses of President Obama’s Wall Street backers were.
The CFPB is an “independent government agency.” They are accountable to voters. The CFPB is antidemocratic by design. Those who devised it wanted to deck it our with special powers so that is could resist coming under the influence of financial lobbyists as other democratic institutions so lamentably had.
It is funded by a source other than congress—namely the Federal Reserve. It’s chairman, once nominated, cannot be removed for policy reasons. Congress risks turning the fed into the nucleus of a fourth, undemocratic and unaccountable branch of the government.
So I guess just change the rules as you go to “fit” the situation!

Source—weekly standard, chris caldwell

MANDATE MADNESS

7/31/13

It is not often that a president announces his decision not to enforce a law as written.
On 1/21/09 Obama said, “Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency”. 7/2/13 it had decided no to enforce the employer mandate of Obamacare requirement that businesses with 50 or more employees provided federally approved health insurance-during the firs t year that the law calls for the provisions to go in effect.
The administration all but admitted that, despite having had more than 3 years and three months since Obamacare passage to prepare to enforce the legislation it had failed to get the job done on time. The republican’s responded buy holding votes on delaying the employer mandate as a matter of law, rather than of executive fiat, delaying the despised individual mandate.
Demo members and their liberal allies showed a striking indifference to the rule of law—and to congress’s role as the sole federal entity vested with the legislative power—which many dems will likely have a hard time explaining to their constituents. (so you support President Obama’s delay of the employer mandate, but you didn’t want to delay the individual mandate and you also voted against delaying the employers mandate, even though you support obama’s delaying it?.
Contempt for the separation of powers, the rule of law, and the president’s constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. The administration called the vote to provide legislative authority for the employer mandated delay “unnecessary”. The president after all had already exercised his imaginary line-item veto.
Congress would consider passing, say, immigration reform, knowing that the president thinks he can alter or delete provisions of the laws (say the enforcement of the border, or deadlines that must be met before granting citizenship) at this whim. The plain language of obamacare declares that the employer mandate “shall apply to months beginning after 12/31/13”. It does not say that it shall apply to whatever months after that date that the president chooses to make it apply. Obama’s ‘regulatory end-run around congress is not the right way to do it”. The administration also announced it was delaying the “mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements”.
By law the only people eligible for subsidies are those who have incomes below 400% of poverty and who aren’t offered “affordable coverage” by their employer. If employers are no longer required to report what insurance benefits they offer the IRS cannot verify employees’ eligibility for subsidies. In the 606 page regulation released 7/5 the administration acknowledged this problem, stating “the exchange may accept the applicants attestation regarding enrollment in (an) eligible employer sponsored plan…without further verification.” In other words, exchange subsidies will now flow forth on the “honor system”.
The GAO estimates that in 2011 Medicare and Medicaid made a whopping $50.7 billion in fraudulent payments. That same year, the combined annual profits of the nations 10 LARGEST INSURANCE COMPANIES were $13.7 billion.!!!!
They are desperately trying to lure people into the exchanges with the promise of “free” and now largely unmonitored money.
Republicans should try and try again to force their democratic counterparts to vote on what parts of Obamacare should be delayed—and what parts of our constitutional separation of powers should be discarded. Sources—weekly standard, jeff anderson

EGYPTIAN COUP UNCOVERS ANTI-OBAMA SENTIMENT

7/30/13
Muslim Brotherhoods are killing Egyptians.
America certainly has popularity problems – despite spending billions of dollars – among the nations in the Middle East and north Africa, but it took Wednesday’s uprising in Egypt, in which a Muslim Brotherhood-linked president apparently was taken down, to reveal the full extent of dislike of America’s president, Barack Obama. Egypt is not Muslim brotherhoods and if you don’t believe that go and see what’s happening in Tahrir Square.”
The U.S. and Egypt long had been on friendly terms under former President Hosni Mubarak. However, as part of the Arab Spring movement that claimed it was in pursuit of freedom but actually installed radical Muslim elements in power in several nations, he was ousted at Obama’s encouragement. Muhammad Morsi, with all his links to the radical Muslim Brotherhood, was installed as the new president a year ago. But now the U.S. has taken a hands-off attitude, and Morsi apparently was challenged by his own military.
There is strong Egyptian perception that Obama has been interfering with the plans and hopes of Egyptian people. A report in the New York Times said as night fell over Egypt and the military appeared to take control that things were in disarray. While Gen. Abdel Fatah Said Al-Sisi made an announcement that the constitution was suspended, elections would be scheduled and the constitutional court would take charge during the transition.
Egyptian people to remain peaceful and prepare for a government that would be “diverse and include all the people.”

Source—doug ross rom blumer, newsbusters

MILLIONS FOR KENYAN FARMERS

7/30/13
Obama drops hundreds of millions on (Kenyan) farmers. U.S. spending now includes farm bill for cold storage projects.
Although the House and Senate remain in a stalemate over what to cut or keep in the controversial Farm Bill, the Obama administration is proceeding with its own plan for farmers – in Kenya. The East Africa Regional Construction initiative overall could cost U.S. taxpayers $210 million. Pack-house and cold-storage facility construction “appropriate to the Kenyan rural environment” is the first step, according to a Request for Proposals from contractors that WND discovered via routine database research. In the request, the U.S. Agency for International Development identified only the Kenyan endeavor, which aims to help farmers properly store products such as broccoli, sweet corn, potatoes and peppers.
The agency said it expects to award up to four design and construction contracts – each with a maximum value of $75 million – across East Africa over five years. However, it did not disclose the specific cost of the initiative’s Kenyan segment. USAID said the project will be advantageous for Kenyan farmers in Kitui County. The construction initiative comes as Obama separately has vowed to send many hundreds of millions of dollars in additional aid to African energy programs. Similarly, during the “President and First Lady’s Africa Trip,” as the White House touts the purportedly $100 million visit, Obama unveiled the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. The fellowship, beginning next year, “will bring more than 500 young African leaders to the United States each year for leadership training and mentoring,” the administration announced.
Program fellows – whose numbers Obama hopes to double in subsequent years – will gain access to millions of dollars in business and NGO start-up grants through the U.S. African Development Foundation and the U.S. Department of State, it said. One year ago, spending on Kenya had become so voluminous that USAID was asking for more contractors to oversee the work. A recent report said the agency – after covering up its propaganda plan to sway U.S. and international media views on U.S. assistance to Kenya – has repackaged its contractor-support plan. Although USAID admittedly cannot adequately manage the numerous initiatives it has launched in Kenya, cost-wise, overall aid dropped from a high of $830 million in FY 2009 to $460 million in FY 2013.
New programs unfolding under Obama:
A $50 million project to help decentralize national power while increasing power at the county level, despite the risk of creating 47 equally corrupt county systems.
A nationwide reading project – with a still-undisclosed cost – that seeks to improve the skills of children in tens of thousands of Kenyan schools.
Peace initiatives providing “reflective workshops” and “trauma education” to warring clans and tribes in and around Kenya. The administration acknowledged that chronic cattle rustling and other cultural practices – such as killing rivals “to prove their manhood or impress young women” – might impede the success of this program.

Sources: wnd, steve peacock