Category Archives: Liberal Press

The Cee Lo Green Budget

Review & Outlook: The Cee Lo Green Budget – WSJ.com.

The liberal press will never target this…

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This was supposed to be the moment we were all waiting for. After three years of historic deficits that have added almost $4.5 trillion to the national debt, President Obama was finally going to get serious about fiscal discipline.  … Hosni Mubarak was more in touch with reality last Thursday night.

The White House actually touts as tight-fisted a budget proposing a record $1.645 trillion deficit for fiscal 2011, due largely to a new surge in spending to 25.3% of GDP. That’s more spending than in any year since 1945. Federal debt held by the public—the kind we have to pay back—will rise to 75.1% in 2012, which is the highest since 1951 and more than double what it was as recently as 2007.

This $3.73 trillion budget does a Cee Lo Green (“Forget You,” as cleaned up for the Grammys) to the voter mandate in November to control spending. It leaves every hard decision to the new House Republican majority. And it ignores almost entirely the recommendations of Mr. Obama’s own deficit commission. No wonder the commission’s Democratic co-chairman, Erskine Bowles, said Monday that this budget goes “nowhere near where they will have to go to resolve our fiscal nightmare.” And he’s an ally.

How unserious is this budget? Although the White House trumpets $2.18 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade, those savings are so far off in the magical “out years” that you can barely see them from here. More than 95% of the savings would happen after Mr. Obama’s first term in the White House is over, and almost two-thirds of the promised deficit reduction would arrive after 2016. Pretending to cut deficits by pushing all real cuts into the future is Budget Flimflam 101.

From hard experience, we know that what matters are the cuts and reforms a White House is willing to make now. The Obama budget doesn’t cut a penny from the deficit in the last seven months of fiscal 2011. Over the next three years—through 2013—the spending reductions in this budget add up to a paltry $20 billion net, out of a projected $3.5 trillion deficit. That’s a 0.57% reduction in red ink and less than what the feds spend every two days.

As for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other entitlements, which account for roughly 60% of federal expenditures, the proposed savings are close to zero. The President would allow these programs to continue on automatic pilot, meaning they nearly double to $2.7 trillion in 2021 from $1.4 trillion in 2010.

Every serious analyst agrees that the time to fix these retirement programs is before 75 million graying baby boomers start collecting the benefits and voting as beneficiaries rather than as net payers. Meanwhile, Medicaid spending would grow by 115% over the next decade thanks to that renowned deficit reducer, ObamaCare.

The proudest White House boast is that its budget would cap domestic discretionary spending at current levels for five years. These are programs ranging from NASA to the Washington Metro to school lunch programs to wind turbine grants, which overall and including stimulus expanded by more than 80% in Mr. Obama’s first two years. This spending freeze would cut these programs from 2011-2013 by a grand total of $14 billion.

By contrast, the plan now emerging from House Republicans would cut about $80 billion immediately, and nearly $280 billion over three years—some 20 times the White House savings. Mr. Obama’s budget also assumes annual economic growth of more than 4% from 2012-2014. That’s far more robust than anything this recovery has produced so far, and it is at least a percentage point higher than most private economists or the Congressional Budget Office predict.

We’d love to see that happen, because deficit reduction depends above all on economic growth to generate more tax revenue. But those growth targets would be undermined by the sizable tax hikes in Mr. Obama’s budget. After 2013 the capital gains and dividend tax rates would rise to 20% from 15%, and the highest income tax rate, paid mostly by noncorporate businesses, would rise to 39.6% from 35%. The Administration foresees a $700 billion windfall, but history shows that higher rates are unlikely to yield anywhere near that amount. . . .

This will go down as canny politics in Washington, as the President lies in wait to ambush Republicans when they propose their real spending cuts. Then he hopes he can cut them to ribbons on his way to re-election. That may be the White House game plan, but we wonder if the politics will play out that way. The American people also want a President to lead, and this budget is so transparently cynical it may help Republicans make their case that if they don’t lead, no one will.

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Obama Knew the Muslim World needed Democracy

Notable & Quotable – WSJ.com.

From an article in the German news magazine Der Spiegel, Feb. 7:

Suddenly it seems everyone knew all along that President Mubarak was a villain and the U.S., who supported him until recently, was even worse. However it was actually former President George W. Bush who always believed in the democratization of the Muslim world and was broadly ridiculed by the Left for his convictions. . . .

Painful as it may be to admit, it was the despised George W. Bush who believed in the democratization of the Muslim world and incurred the scorn and mockery of the Left for his conviction. Everyone was sure—without knowing any Muslims—that the Western model of democracy could not be applied in a backward society like Iraq. Everyone knew that the neo-conservative belief in the universal desire for freedom and progress was naïve nonsense. It is possible that the critics were right, albeit for the wrong reasons. The prospect of stability and order seems to be at least as important to many people.

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Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood

Stephens: Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood – WSJ.com.

So you think they are moderates, eh?

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It’s what the good people on West 40th Street like to call a “Times Classic.” On Feb. 16, 1979, the New York Times ran a lengthy op-ed by Richard Falk, a professor of international law at Princeton, under the headline “Trusting Khomeini.”

“The depiction of [Khomeini] as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false,” wrote Mr. Falk. “What is also encouraging is that his entourage of close advisers is uniformly composed of moderate, progressive individuals.”

After carrying on in this vein for a few paragraphs, the professor concluded: “Having created a new model of popular revolution based, for the most part, on nonviolent tactics, Iran may yet provide us with a desperately needed model of humane governance for a third-world country.”

Whoops.

The Times is at it again. Last week, the paper published an op-ed from Essam El-Errian, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Council, who offered this soothing take on his organization: “We aim to achieve reform and rights for all: not just for the Muslim Brotherhood, not just for Muslims, but for all Egyptians.” Concurring with that view, Times reporter Nicholas Kulish wrote on Feb. 4 that members of the Brotherhood “come across as civic-minded people of faith.”

… Hassan al-Banna (1906-1949), the Brotherhood’s founder, was an admirer of the fascist movements of his day, and he had similar ambitions for his own movement.

“Andalusia, Sicily, the Balkans, south Italy and the Roman sea islands were all Islamic lands that have to be restored to the homeland of Islam,” he wrote in a message dedicated to Muslim youth. “As Signor Mussolini believed that it was within his right to revive the Roman Empire . . . similarly it is our right to restore to the Islamic empire its glory.”

Today the Brotherhood has adopted a political strategy in keeping with Banna’s dictum that the movement must not over-reach on its way toward “[subjugating] every unjust ruler to its command”: “Each of these stages,” he cautioned his followers, “involves certain steps, branches and means.” Thus the Brotherhood has gone out of its way in recent weeks to appear in the most benign light, making an ally of former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei and forswearing any immediate political ambitions.

But that doesn’t mean the Brothers don’t have an idea of what they’re aiming for. “We think highly of a country whose president is important, courageous and has a vision, which he presents in the U.N., in Geneva, and everywhere,” the Brotherhood’s Kamal al-Hilbawi told Iran’s Al-Alam TV earlier this month, referring to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust and 9/11 denials. “We think highly of a country . . . that confronts Western hegemony, and is scientifically and technologically advanced. Unfortunately, these characteristics can be found only in the Islamic Republic of Iran. I hope that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia will be like that.

Nor should there be any doubt about what the Brotherhood is aiming against. “Resistance is the only solution against the Zio-American arrogance and tyranny,” Muhammad Badie, the Brotherhood’s supreme guide, sermonized in October. “The improvement and change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be attained . . . by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life.

Such remarks may come as a rude shock to James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence who last week testified in Congress that the Brotherhood was “largely secular” (a remark his office later retracted). They may also surprise a coterie of Western analysts who are convinced that the Brotherhood is moving in a moderate direction and will only be further domesticated by participation in democratic politics. Yet the evidence for that supposition rests mainly on what the Brotherhood tells Westerners. What it says in Arabic is another story. …

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