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Today in Washington – July 27, 2010

President Obama wants to reduce criticism of his unpopular government.  It is to be expected, because the American people have little confidence in the Obama Administration and the federal government.  Even left wing Think Tank, the Center for American Progress (CAP), has released data that “more than a quarter of the public says they have little or no confidence in government.”  This report is evidence that, even the left agrees, the federal government and the Obama Administration are not implementing policies to turn around the perception that the federal government is non-responsive and too big. 

No wonder the President wants Congress to pass the DISCLOSE Act to stifle criticism of government.  From McClatchy:

“And you’d think that reducing corporate and even foreign influence over our elections would not be a partisan issue. But of course, this is Washington in 2010,” Obama said. “And the Republican leadership in the Senate is once again using every tactic and every maneuver they can to prevent the DISCLOSE Act from even coming up for an up or down vote.”

The DISCLOSE Act is a bill that would restrict political speech.  Opponents of the DISCLOSE Act worry that this new act will chill First Amendment activities mere months before Congressional elections.  The Senate will have a vote today on whether to commence debate on the DISCLOSE Act.  The House is expected to take up 22 Suspension votes, including the Senate passed War Supplemental, and a resolution calling for the withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Pakistan.

The CAP report, Better, Not Smaller, argues that President Obama is presiding over the “lowest rating on record for confidence in federal government.”  The report has some good points, yet they seem to argue that we need better technocrats in government and the elimination of inefficiencies will solve all of our problems.  Conservatives agree that a more efficient government will save taxpayer dollars and restore some confidence. 

I read this report expecting a left wing argument for bigger “better” government, yet this report has some good ideas that most conservatives would support.  Conservatives do have a fundamental disagreement with the left, because many conservatives still are angry with government expansion under TARP, No Child Left Behind and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. 

You would think that CAP and the Tea Party Movement have teamed up when you read the below blurb from the report:

The message to politicians and policymakers is clear. Government will not regain the public trust unless it earns it. And earning it means spending taxpayer money more carefully—and doing what works.

I can’t do justice to this report in a short blog post, but conservatives should take note that the left wing CAP agrees that the American people are mad and disappointed with the federal government and by extension the Obama Administration.  And to CAP’s credit, there are some common sense solutions proposed to perceived federal problems.  For example, a few of the popular and common sense CAP proposals are to:

Require every federal agency to set clear goals that are measured by real-world results.

Reform the federal budget process, so that spending decisions are based on objective evidence about what works and what does not.

Consolidate federal programs where there is significant overlap.

These ideas have the most support in the CAP survey.  These ideas would be a 100-0 propositions with the support from liberal Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and conservative Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).  There right-left agreement on these common sense issues, yet this Administration has not taken actions to use similar ideas to restore confidence of the American people in the federal government.  I bet conservatives and liberals would support a simple bill to eliminate duplicative programs and to force agencies to have measurable goals for both Congressional Republicans and Democrats to review during the appropriations process.  Also, measurable goals for the American people to review may restore some confidence.  If the federal government is going to forcibly take money from the American people, they better spend it efficiently.  Other proposals don’t have the same level of support.

Ensure that people nominated by the president to lead government agencies receive a quick up-or-down confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate. 

This is a backhanded slap at the filibuster rule.  Efficiently rubber stamping the President’s nominees is not a good idea.  You watch these liberals change their tune come 2012, if there is a Republican President and Congress.  Just wait and see the rhetoric at CAP change from a demonizing of the filibuster to the official CAP talking points from 2005:

As early as this week, a “nuclear option” could be invoked to remove the 200-year-old tradition of the Senate filibuster, the tool that empowers 41 or more senators to prevent a narrow majority from abusing its power. The filibuster is one of the only ways to encourage genuine bipartisan cooperation and compromise on important issues that come before the Senate. The nuclear option is currently being considered by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and being pushed by the Religious Right, who would like to confirm President Bush’s judicial nominees. American Progress has put together this resource guide to help you understand the issues.

The CAP report is interesting.  From a quick scan, it appears that CAP did not engage in blaming the Bush Administration for the Obama Administration’s dismal poll numbers.  The talking point “(insert issue) was inherited from the Bush Administration” is clearly getting tired and old.  The American people are angry and I would have to expect that when even the lefties at CAP feel free to criticize the current President and his percieved ineffectiveness, there is some serious trouble brewing for the party in power this fall.  Maybe CAP and the Tea Party Movement can agree that the federal government is on the wrong track and it needs to change quickly.

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