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FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

Testing: Briefing


MONDAY, DECEMBER 19th

1. The Obama Tax Cuts Are Just Bait for the GOP

Obama’s whole model is to lead by being unthreatening. He’d rather have someone else make the tough decisions. He figures that tax-cut proposals will work like catnip on Republicans in Congress. Then they’ll have the big fights with the Congressional Democrats that Obama would prefer not to have.

2. TARP II Demands Real Debate

The entire rationale on which it was presented to Congress was thrown out within days of its passage. To date, it has become apparent that the plan has not achieved one of its pivotal goals – making credit available to individuals and businesses.

3. Will the Stimulus Stimulate?

Polls show the stimulus bill is popular with the public, but do they realize what’s in it and that the original New Deal did not solve the problems it purported solved?

4. Tim Geithner Did What Leona Helmsley Did. She Went to Jail. Will He Go to Treasury?

Geithner is allegedly a brilliant career bureaucrat. He’s a political insider with his own ties to Obama, as Obama’s mother once reported to Geithner’s father. Having never worked in the private sector, he has cooked his personal books like one of the Wall Street swindlers Team Obama routinely excoriates.

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1. The Obama Tax Cuts Are Just Bait for the GOP

Obama’s whole model is to lead by being unthreatening. He’d rather have someone else make the tough decisions. He figures that tax-cut proposals will work like catnip on Republicans in Congress. Then they’ll have the big fights with the Congressional Democrats that Obama would prefer not to have.

It’s generally held by people who still think that economic freedom is a good idea, that private people and businesses, rather than government, should decide how we spend our resources. (Yes, there still are a few of us left.) This is why conservative orthodoxy holds that tax cuts are a good idea.

But let’s be very clear about why conservatives, in general, like tax cuts: because they’re a way of limiting the size of government. The goal isn’t lower taxes per se (although there is much experience to suggest that lower marginal tax rates do make economies more efficient). Rather, the goal is to keep the government small.

But we’re debating a Keynesian stimulus package here. Smaller government isn’t even in the room, much less on the table. Obama still intends to borrow all the money that would be used for the tax cuts. This doesn’t make the government smaller at all. It’s a bait-and-switch, and all conservatives should be very suspicious of the idea for that reason.

The question Republicans should be asking Obama is: If a $300 billion borrow-and-rebate plan is such a good idea, what’s wrong with just reducing the overall size of the stimulus package by $300 billion? Let’s go from $850 billion down to $550 billion and forego that much of the borrowing, instead.

2. TARP II Demands Real Debate

The entire rationale on which it was presented to Congress was thrown out within days of its passage. To date, it has become apparent that the plan has not achieved one of its pivotal goals – making credit available to individuals and businesses.

The Senate voted this afternoon to approve more TARP money for the President. As it stands, the Department of the Treasury cannot clearly detail how they have spent the first half of the money, and the recent auto bailouts indicate that the program has devolved into little more than a slush fund. Yet we are now expected to release another $350 billion without knowing how it will be spent, let alone how the first half was spent.

Senator David Vitter believes it is apparent that any move to release further funds should include a real and serious discussion of how the money will be spent. We cannot afford, and our kids and grandkids cannot afford, for us to continue digging our nation deeper and deeper into debt.

3. Will the Stimulus Stimulate?

Polls show the stimulus bill is popular with the public, but do they realize what’s in it and that the original New Deal did not solve the problems it purported solved?

NBC news and the Wall Street Journal have completed a detailed poll of the American public, examining popular views on the risky spending scheme being considered in Congress. The headlines about the poll say things like ‘Public Backs Obama Stimulus Plan,’ and ‘Americans Strongly Back Obama and His Stimulus Plan,’ and they’re largely right.

But read a little deeper, and there are clear signs that the American people are worried about this plan. A plurality of the American public is already worried about things like a Big 3 bailout, government-run health care, and coming tax increases. In the back-and-forth over Obama’s economic agenda, he needs to be careful not to take actions that will give credence to such concerns.

An initial review of the “stimulus” by Congressman John Boehner’s office found these spending proposals:

  • $600 million for new cars for the federal government
  • $1 billion “to minimize undercounting of minority groups” in the 2010 census
  • $400 million for NASA for global warming
  • $400 million for “National Treasures”
  • $6 billion for colleges/universities, many of which have massive billion dollar endowments
  • $166 billion in direct aid to states, many of which have failed to budget wisely
  • $650 million more for digital television conversation coupons

Despite a promise from President-elect Barack Obama to listen to Republican ideas, the plan distributed by House Democrats today includes not a single GOP proposal.

President-elect Barack Obama believes government spending is the best way to bailout America from its economic woes, and liberals in Congress are having no trouble finding ways to spend your hard-earned money. The price tag of the so-called stimulus plan has steadily increased from $775 billion last week to $850 billion today.

Liberals like to say the New Deal programs of their hero Franklin Delano Roosevelt saved America from the Great Depression. All of that government spending, they argue, gave Americans jobs and boosted the economy.

The numbers don’t tell the same story. Unemployment data from the 1930s — during FDR’s first two terms — remained above 20% despite New Deal spending. Liberals criticized the data arguing it didn’t account for the entire workforce. Even when prisoners, government relief workers and the institutionalized are accounted for, unemployment follows the same pattern — and remains much higher than the normal unemployment rate of 5.5%. Conservatives shouldn’t shy away from this fight. Government spending alone will not revive the economy.

4. Tim Geithner Did What Leona Helmsley Did. She Went to Jail. Will He Go to Treasury?

Geithner is allegedly a brilliant career bureaucrat. He’s a political insider with his own ties to Obama, as Obama’s mother once reported to Geithner’s father. Having never worked in the private sector, he has cooked his personal books like one of the Wall Street swindlers Team Obama routinely excoriates.

Let us assume the oh-so brilliant Geithner - who does his own taxes because he is so smart – did innocently forget to pay the employer’s share of taxes related to an employee. That could happen; the Democrats sank Linda Chavez’ nomination as Labor Secretary over less.

Even so, there is the matter of Geithner’s own taxes. The International Monetary Fund sent notices to Geithner making clear he was responsible for his payroll taxes. He had direct knowledge that he was responsible, but he still refused to pay. He even accepted reimbursement from the IMF for those taxes and signed certifications that he’d paid them.

When he finally decided to pay, Geithner paid only enough to avoid potential criminal liability for failure to pay taxes. He willifully shortchanged the tax system even though he’d already been reimbursed for the taxes. There is no issue of mistake here. Geithner knew he had a tax obligation, took steps to pay his taxes, and deliberately paid only so much as to avoid criminal liability, but not so much as to pay his entire obligation.

Compare Geithner’s treatment by the media to Sarah Palin’s treatment.

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