Friday, August 17, 2012

The Final Five: August 18, 2012



Would you like to receive The Final Five in your inbox each night? Click here to sign up for our e-mail list.

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Air France: Out of Gas? Ask Passengers to Pitch In
Crew on an Air France plane diverted to Syria asked passengers if they had the money to purchase extra fuel to finish the trip.


Topic One: Food Stamp Folly
Why our entitlement programs are in trouble: "Total federal and state spending on means-tested welfare more than doubled between 2000 and 2011 -- from $431 billion to $927 billion. Around one third of the population now receives some type of means-tested welfare aid. Average cost: $9,000 per recipient. And there’s no end in sight. Except that, sooner or later, there has to be. As Margaret Thatcher once quipped of socialism, “sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money.” A day of reckoning can be postponed for a while, but not delayed indefinitely.

“The president’s budget calls for ruinous and unsustainable budget deficits,” Rector says. “An important step in reducing future unsustainable federal deficits would be to return total welfare spending to pre-recession levels.” But unless lawmakers get serious about addressing this threat, it won’t happen. The national debt is more than $16 trillion -- and climbing.

"To make matters worse, all this debt is truly for naught because the programs that it’s financing do little to reduce poverty. If anything, they encourage it, because they don’t follow the reform model of the ‘90s: reduce dependence by requiring work as a condition for receiving aid. Recipients can do nothing all day and still get their taxpayer-funded checks."

The D.C. Daily: August 18, 2012


Would you like to receive the DC Daily in your inbox every morning. Click here to sign up for our e-mail list.

House and Senate

Subject to the provisions of S. Con. Res. 59, both houses of Congress have adjourned until 2:00 PM on Monday, September 10, 2012.


Executive Agencies
(You can view the entire Federal Register here.)

Significant Proposed Rules:

Significant Final Rules:
There were no significant final rules printed today.

Presidential Documents:
There were no Presidential documents printed today.


Supreme Court
The Court has now completed its work for the October 2011 term. The Court will hold the first oral arguments of the October 2012 term on Monday, October 1.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Final Five: August 16, 2012



Would you like to receive The Final Five in your inbox each night? Click here to sign up for our e-mail list.

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Man Accused of Stealing Marijuana From Police Station
A man stole a bag of marijuana being stored as evidence from a police station...with an officer in the room.


Topic One: Bad Bailouts
The farce of the auto bailout 'success': "For anyone who understands the nature of GM's "success," and of Obama's previous attempts to prop up American companies like Solyndra against Chinese competitors, this campaign rhetoric is somewhat dispiriting. It serves as a troubling confirmation that Obama has learned absolutely nothing from three and a half years of trying unsuccessfully to reshape and reinvigorate the American economy through bailouts and subsidies. Obama's industrial plan continues apace, oblivious to the losses and failures it has created so far.

"Within days of Obama's statement came the news that taxpayers are now expected to lose $25 billion on the automotive industry's $85 billion rescue. This represents an upward revision from the previous estimate of $22 billion, yet it nonetheless assumes that GM is valued at $22 per share as it was in late May. GM has since suffered a 40 percent decline in profits year-over-year, a 3 percentage point loss of U.S. market share year-over-year for the month of July and brutal press for its flailing attempts to expand in Europe. The current GM share price is just above $20, so the latest estimate is almost certainly too low already.

"The true lesson of the GM and Chrysler bailouts is not that they succeeded, but that one can force even the worst company or industry to succeed temporarily by dedicating enough of taxpayers' hard-earned money to the task."


Related Story: GM headed for bankruptcy

The D.C. Daily: August 16, 2012


Would you like to receive the DC Daily in your inbox every morning. Click here to sign up for our e-mail list.

House and Senate

Subject to the provisions of S. Con. Res. 59, both houses of Congress have adjourned until 2:00 PM on Monday, September 10, 2012.


Executive Agencies
(You can view the entire Federal Register here.)

Significant Proposed Rules:

Significant Final Rules:

Presidential Documents:
  • Executive Order 13623: establishing a policy for preventing and responding to gender-based violence globally.
  • Presidential Notice: continuing the national emergency established by the Export Administration Act of 1979 for one year.


Supreme Court
The Court has now completed its work for the October 2011 term. The Court will hold the first oral arguments of the October 2012 term on Monday, October 1.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Final Five: August 15, 2012



Would you like to receive The Final Five in your inbox each night? Click here to sign up for our e-mail list.

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Cresskill Considers Drive-Thru Ban
Cresskill, NJ, is considering a ban on all drive-thrus--including those at the pharmacy and bank--because of traffic problems.


Topic One: Ryan and Medicare
Obama demagagues the Ryan plan: "Obama thinks he will be able to demonize Ryan because of his plan to reform Medicare by making its cost structure sustainable for generations to come.

"His plan... would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in healthcare costs to seniors," Obama said in a statement Saturday.

"Like a lot of attacks Obama has leveled at Romney, this one is untrue, but you can expect the attacks to get even more vicious in the weeks to come. The Washington Post cites one Democratic ad that depicts Ryan "as physically pushing a senior citizen in a wheelchair off a cliff."


Related Stories: Romney campaign goes on the offensive on Medicare || Unhorrified women, senior citizens, and youth cheer Ryan in Colorado

Bill of Rights or Bill of Restrictions

As debate over whether to ratify the new constitution raged across the thirteen states, one criticism was that it lacked of a bill of rights. In many states, ratification was only secured upon the promise that a bill of rights would be added as soon as the new government took office. After taking office, the First Congress proposed twelve amendments, and ten of them were ratified to become the Bill of Rights. (In 1992, one of the two amendments that had not been previously ratified reached the three-quarters threshold and became the twenty-seventh amendment, but it is not usually considered as part of the Bill of Rights. The other proposed amendment remains unratified.)

The the Bill of Rights is very specific as to whose Rights it protects. It is not protecting the rights of government; it is protecting the rights of the people. As it grants right to the people (and some to the states), it becomes a bill of restrictions to the government. The first amendment bars Congress from infringing on rights of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petitioning. The second amendment prevents infringement of the right to bear arms. The third keeps the military from forcing people to allow soldiers to live in their homes. Through all ten amendments, we see that freedom is given to the people and restrictions are given to the government.

Over time, however, Congress and the courts have turned the Bill of Rights into a bill of restrictions on the people. The first amendment begins, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...” This phrase has been used repeatedly to argue that the mention of religion in any form is prohibited. Mentioning God's impact on your life in a graduation speech does not involve Congress in any way, but this amendment has been used to restrict religion in our schools. Instead of granting people the right to exercise their religion free from government interference, this phrase of the first amendment is now being used to restrict both free exercise of religion and free speech.

Freedom of speech has also been turned into a restriction. Throughout America's history, the freedom of speech has been protected by the government except in cases where it created actual harm. Defamation and the commonly cited example of “yelling fire in a crowded theater” qualify as cases where actual harm can be inflicted by speech, and this type of speech should be restricted. However, some people are now asking the government to outlaw “hate speech.” This type of speech, while it may be offensive and incorrect, does not cause actual harm. While this type of speech should be tolerated, it should not be illegal either. Attempts by the government to restrict freedom of speech should not be allowed in this instance; however, just because someone has the right to say something does not mean that they should say it. If they do engage in that type of speech, individuals still have some recourse. If the person is a business owner, we can refuse to patronize their business. If the person has a radio or television show, we can refuse to watch the show. Even if it is just someone who lives down the street from you, we can use our right to free speech to oppose their speech. As a society, we are looking to government to solve these problems instead of letting the freedom of choice solve them.

There are plenty of other rights that are being violated by our government. Freedom of the press was threatened recently when the White House wanted to allow an interview with the “press pool” (a collection of news agencies that share costs of covering political events), but refused to allow one member network to be a part of it. The White House did back down under pressure from other media outlets. The freedom to assemble is threatened by an endless permit process just to hold a public meeting. Permits should be necessary for some types of assemblies, such as those that need large amounts of space or that will close streets. However, groups should be allowed to hold meetings on their own property free of public restrictions. The freedom from unwarranted search and seizure is violated every time we go to an airport and have to be groped by federal agents before boarding a plane.

The authors of the constitution gave the people the Bill of Rights and restricted the rights of government. Unfortunately, the government today is turning the Bill of rights into restrictions on the people. The limitations on these rights were placed upon the federal government, not upon the people. However, the government is now using our rights to restrict our rights. Freedom is being threatened, and if we do not reverse course, “the land of the free” will soon become “the land of the restricted.”

The D.C. Daily: August 15, 2012


Would you like to receive the DC Daily in your inbox every morning. Click here to sign up for our e-mail list.

House and Senate

Subject to the provisions of S. Con. Res. 59, both houses of Congress have adjourned until 2:00 PM on Monday, September 10, 2012.


Executive Agencies
(You can view the entire Federal Register here.)

Significant Proposed Rules:
There were no significant proposed rules printed today.

Significant Final Rules:
There were no significant final rules printed today.

Presidential Documents:
There were no Presidential Documents printed today.


Supreme Court
The Court has now completed its work for the October 2011 term. The Court will hold the first oral arguments of the October 2012 term on Monday, October 1.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Final Five: August 14, 2012



Would you like to receive The Final Five in your inbox each night? Click here to sign up for our e-mail list.

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Hearse Driver Dies While Taking Body to Funeral
The driver of a hearse was found slumped over the steering wheel as she took a body to a funeral.


Topic One: Medicare Reform
Reform is the only way to keep from throwing grandma off the cliff: "The reality is that the status quo that Democrats pretend is an alternative to "privatization" is already irretrievably gone and Medicare is already changing, for worse or for far worse. The Affordable Care Act pegs Medicare spending to the growth of the economy plus 1% with the crude across-the-board cuts to providers identified by Mr. Foster. A bureaucratic panel of 15 men and women will enforce the cap by decreeing how medicine should be practiced and how doctors and hospitals are organized.

"Premium support is the only other plausible health-care choice, as well as the only way to pay for the promises government has made while still maintaining economic growth. The model has been tested in the real world, and it works: Not only does it already apply to members of Congress, it looks a lot like Medicare Advantage, whose private plans cover nearly a quarter of seniors, and the 2003 Medicare prescription drug benefit, whose premiums, amazingly for health care, won't increase by even a dollar next year."


Related Stories: Will your doctor treat you if you have Medicare? || 'Grannies' like Paul Ryan || The Ryan Plan vs. The Obama Plan

Paul Ryan: The Right Choice

Just prior to going to bed Friday night, I received an email which stated that "sources had confirmed" that Romney would be introducing Paul Ryan as his vice presidential candidate the next morning. The idea of a Romney-Ryan ticket sounded exciting, but I also had some reservations. While Ryan's budget is a conservative gem, Ryan's previous record is definitely not. However, the pick of Paul Ryan was a smart choice, and I believe it was the right choice.

First, Paul Ryan was the right choice because it focuses the election back on the debt. In my post, Election Year ADD, I wrote that the Obama strategy was to focus the race on anything except the debt and the economy. It does not matter if the talk is about free contraception, the killing of Osama, or the death of Joe Soptic's wife, every time the focus of the race moves away from the debt and the economy, Obama's numbers start to inch upward. Outside of his district, Paul Ryan is basically known for one thing: the budget. By choosing Paul Ryan, Romney refocuses the race squarely on one of Obama's biggest problems.

Second, choosing Paul Ryan helps Romney in Wisconsin. Wisconsin has historically been a Democrat stronghold; the last time it voted Republican was in the Reagan-Mondale election of 1984. However, polls show that the race is close, and the double victory of Scott Walker in 2010 and this year's recall give hope that the state might turn red. I am hesitant to use the outcome of a gubernatorial election to predict how the state will vote for President (my own state of Kentucky has voted reliably for Republican presidents and Democratic governors), but Walker's success in the recall shows that the state might be turning a little more red. Choosing Ryan may not change the ultimate vote of the state, but it certainly would not hurt Romney's chances there.

Third, Paul Ryan has shown that he can win in Democratic areas. The last time Ryan's district voted for a Republican was the last time the state of Wisconsin voted Republican: 1984. Yet, Ryan consistently wins big in his congressional races. His lowest share of the vote--57 percent--was in his first election, and when Obama carried the district by four percent in 2008, Ryan took 65 percent of the vote. While he will probably not be able to win over the same percentage that he did in his 2008 congressional race, Paul Ryan's ability to win over Democrats will also help the Romney-Ryan campaign.

Fourth, the selection of Paul Ryan gives him a platform to continue his push for budget and entitlement reform. Ryan is term limited by Republican rules to three terms as the chair or ranking member of the Budget Committee. While he could certainly continue to revise and introduce his budget, he would lose the position he was able to use to push for passage of his budget. As Vice President, he would also serve as President of the Senate, where he would be able to work towards passage of his budget plan.

Finally, the selection of Paul Ryan will have a much smaller impact on Congress than the selection of some of the other "frontrunners". Even Nancy Pelosi has admitted that it is unlikely that Democrats will win the House this year, and the resignation of Paul Ryan will probably not affect the final standing of the House. However, choosing a senator could have a large impact on the final standing of the Senate. This year there is the possibility that the Senate could be decided by one vote, and choosing a senator for Vice President could put control of the entire Senate in the hands of one special election sometime in 2013.

Paul Ryan supported TARP, the auto bailouts, and Medicare Part-D during his time in Congress, and he is certainly not deserving of any awards as a conservative legend. However, despite his high-spending past, he eventually came to realize the destructive path that our nation is taking, and he has provided us with an alternative path. It is possible that we could have done a little better than Paul Ryan as our VP candidate, but we definitely could have done much worse.

The D.C. Daily: August 14, 2012


Would you like to receive the DC Daily in your inbox every morning. Click here to sign up for our e-mail list.

House and Senate

Subject to the provisions of S. Con. Res. 59, both houses of Congress have adjourned until 2:00 PM on Monday, September 10, 2012.


Executive Agencies
(You can view the entire Federal Register here.)

Significant Proposed Rules:

Significant Final Rules:

Presidential Documents:
There were no Presidential Documents printed today.


Supreme Court
The Court has now completed its work for the October 2011 term. The Court will hold the first oral arguments of the October 2012 term on Monday, October 1.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Final Five: August 13, 2012



Would you like to receive The Final Five in your inbox each night? Click here to sign up for our e-mail list.

Tonight's Crazy Story:
Olympics: These Moments Took Gold for Weird, Strange and Bad
From marijuana-laced food to lost keys to London's largest stadium, these events from London deserve the gold for the strange and odd.


Topic One: Paul Ryan
Obviously, no Final Five today could be complete without a discussion of Romney's VP pick. John Steele Gordon writes that this pick makes the election about two competing ideas: reform vs. kick-the-can. "The people seem to understand that we need to change our fiscal ways to avoid disaster and have rewarded those who have advocated it and brought it about (see the 2010 congressional elections, the Scott Walker recall election, the popularity of Mitch Daniels in Indiana, Chris Christie in deep-blue New Jersey, etc.). Paul Ryan has produced a plan to change our fiscal course. It balances cuts in federal spending with reforms that will mitigate the pain of these reforms. It take spending only back to what it was in 2008, not 1928, as the Times essentially argues. Mitt Romney chose the author of the plan and the leading Republican voice for budgetary matters as his running mate. Thus the Republican Party is now, inescapably, the party of budgetary and entitlement reform. It will win or lose on that issue November 6.

"What is the liberal plan to address the impending crisis? Well, there isn’t one. When George Bush put forth a plan to reform Social Security in 2005, the Democratic alternative consisted, in its entirety, of the word “No!” They managed to block it. Social Security was still running surpluses in 2005. It is not now. The liberal alternative to the Ryan reform plan, to the extent that there is one, is to demagogue all reform proposals, kick the can down the road and hope, like Dickens’s classic deficit financier, Wilkins Micawber, that something will turn up."


Related Stories: Smart Democrats Should be Worried || How the VP pick was kept a secret || Romney raises $3.5M in 24 hours after introducing Ryan || Greater Risk. Greater Reward.

The D.C. Daily: August 13, 2012


Would you like to receive the DC Daily in your inbox every morning. Click here to sign up for our e-mail list.

House and Senate

Subject to the provisions of S. Con. Res. 59, both houses of Congress have adjourned until 2:00 PM on Monday, September 10, 2012.


Executive Agencies
(You can view the entire Federal Register here.)

Significant Proposed Rules:
There were no significant proposed rules printed today.

Significant Final Rules:

Presidential Documents:
There were no Presidential Documents printed today.


Supreme Court
The Court has now completed its work for the October 2011 term. The Court will hold the first oral arguments of the October 2012 term on Monday, October 1.