ORA: Obama thought he was getting a lifesized version of Pulsar, The Ultimate Man Of Adventure off e-bay…. and ended up with a borring transportation secretary doll instead. The worst thing is, not only will Obama’s efforts to make the organs move never bring about a pulse in this thing, it didn’t come with any mission disks either!
When spam-bots try and induce you to piggy-back their spammy message on your blog, they install a spam filled comment on an older post. Non-bloggers may not get what I’m saying, but bloggers know…. They know. So this comment showed up on an older post:
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Now, it doesn’t make a lick of sense, and like most of the crap I write here on my blog, that is not uncommon. What IS uncommon is that there were no hyperlinks hidden within the text… How the hell are you going to infect me, or try to trick me to go to your malicious site if I have no where to go?????
Hey, Mr Spammer! You Suck! Don’t come back here until you’ve at least learned the simple basics of spamming. Jeez!
There is so much cool stuff going on right now…. The health care summit, the Chile earthquake, more Climategate fallout…. Yet I just don’t feel like writing anything. So I’m taking the day off. I’m cleaning my little home recording studio nook, and will be recording something later today.
For the last two weeks, Rush has been telling the Republicans not to go to the Obama Health Care Summit. Here is some video of him giving this advise.
They went anyway…. and scored some points. You can tell because there is no news of “Obama’s Spectacular Triumph” to be found in today’s papers or in the news. Hell, even Obama’s # 1 blogger cheerleader is conceding his guy didn’t dogreat. For reference, this is what we usually see from Andrew Sullivan when anything Obamais the topic (Andrews love of all things Obama is a mirror image to Rush’s view of all things Obama. In the end, they kinda cancel each other out). It is ironic. For the last week, Rush was demanding that the Republicans not even go to the thing. Yet, as it turns out, they would have been in a weaker position, would have been void a positive political notch on the post had they followed his advise.
Even if they wouldn’t have come out ahead, as with the other Obama summits, at least the beer was probably good.
I have to agree with Harry Reid on this one… It hurt to type that…. Just kidding. I’m not that fragile. Here is Reid.
He does have a valid point. I don’t care who it is. If the point is valid… it is valid. If the Republicans HAVE used reconciliation to get things they wanted through congress, which it appears they indeed have, then they have no standing to complain that Democrats are using the same method to get what they want. Do I like this bill? No. Do I like this procedure? No. But what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
This procedure has been used a number of times by both Republican and Democratic administrations. Politico notes:
Using the measure to advance controversial administration priorities is hardly unusual. Bush used the process to push through his 2001 tax cuts, while Bill Clinton employed reconciliation to win approval of a deficit reduction package…,
The term “Nuclear” implies both rarity of use and an unimaginable consequence of the action. Reconciliation is neither. When the Republicans were thinking of changing Senate rule to disallow the ability of the minority to filibuster judges, it was nuclear because the Senate hadn’t made this kind of rule change in a very long time, and the change was intended to explicitly hog-tie the minority party. The use of Reconciliation, though I don’t agree with its use here, would be nothing new, and would be following the rules already in place. Think Progress, not a favorite site by any means, never the less has a list of some of the instances where it was used:
Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1980
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981
Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1982
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1983
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993
Balanced Budget Act of 1995 (vetoed)
Personal Responsibility and Budget Reconciliation Act of 1996
Balanced Budget Act of 1997
Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997
Taxpayer Refund and Relief Act of 1999 (vetoed)
Marriage Tax Relief Act of 2000 (vetoed)
Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001
Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005
Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005
Note they are ALL budget specific. A better argument against the use of Reconciliation is that it is supposed to be used only for budgetary purposes. The list above clearly supports that line of attack. Of course there is one problem. The very same Republicans complaining about the use of Reconciliation, the “New Nuclear Option”, for the health care bill, tried to use the procedure to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling in 2005. They ultimately failed, but they tried. From a cached ABC News report:
WASHINGTON Mar 2, 2005 — A Senate showdown over an Alaska wildlife refuge is expected within weeks as Republicans plan to use a budget measure to overcome strong opposition to allowing oil drilling in the protected area.
It will be first big environmental issue facing the new Congress.
Republican leaders indicated Tuesday that they plan to press the issue of drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as part of a so-called budget reconciliation process, which cannot be subject to a Democratic filibuster a tactic that has blocked the refuge’s development in the past.
Given the wider GOP majority in the Senate, Republicans said they think they have the best chance yet to open the presumably oil-rich but environmentally sensitive Alaska refuge to oil drilling, which has been one of President Bush’s top energy priorities.
Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg, R-N.H. said it was reasonable to assume ANWR, as the refuge is commonly called, would be part of the budget measure.
“The president asked for it, and we’re trying to do what the president asked for,” Gregg said Tuesday after meeting privately with Republicans on his panel…..
Supporters of pumping the refuge’s oil believe they have the 51 votes needed to get the measure through as part of the budget process. Opponents aren’t ready to concede that, although they remain certain that GOP leaders don’t have the 60 votes needed to overcome a certain filibuster by opponents if ANWR drilling is in separate legislation.
And you wonder why I have absolutely no delusions that the Republican party has changed at all.
PS. I just came across another list of stuff passed via “The New Nuclear Option”:
A History Of Reconciliation
For 30 years, major changes to health care laws have passed via the budget reconciliation process. Here are a few examples:
1982 — TEFRA: The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act first opened Medicare to HMOs
1986 — COBRA: The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act allowed people who were laid off to keep their health coverage, and stopped hospitals from dumping ER patients unable to pay for their care
1987 — OBRA ’87: Added nursing home protection rules to Medicare and Medicaid, created no-fault vaccine injury compensation program
1989 — OBRA ’89: Overhauled doctor payment system for Medicare, created new federal agency on research and quality of care
1990 — OBRA ’90: Added cancer screenings to Medicare, required providers to notify patients about advance directives and living wills, expanded Medicaid to all kids living below poverty level, required drug companies to provide discounts to Medicaid
1993 — OBRA ’93: created federal vaccine funding for all children
1996 — Welfare Reform: Separated Medicaid from welfare
1997 — BBA: The Balanced Budget Act created the state-federal childrens’ health program called CHIP
2005 — DRA: The Deficit Reduction Act reduced Medicaid spending, allowed parents of disabled children to buy into Medicaid
Yep. They are all health related acts. There goes that argument against using the procedure.
On the other hand, the NPR piece also twists and leaves out facts. They provide two quotes from Republicans:
Budget reconciliation, Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) told reporters Tuesday, “was never designed for a large, comprehensive piece of legislation such as health care, as you all know. It’s a budget exercise, and that’s why some refer to it as the ‘nuclear option.'”
“The use of expedited reconciliation process to push through more dramatic changes to a health care bill of such size, scope and magnitude is unprecedented,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Yet, all the examples provided above involving health care revisions were all attached to larger budgetary omnibus bills, and it appears that none were stand alone bills passed through Reconciliation.
Bruce Bartlett wrote a post today describing his amazement that Republicans are still running with the “Starve The Beast” theory of balanced budgets. He says:
This is a view I once held back in the 1970s. Just cut taxes, I thought, and pressure to balance the budget will manifest itself in the form of spending cuts that will reduce the size of government and increase growth, which would further reduce the size of government as a share of GDP.
The problem is that this idea presupposed that there was significant support in Congress to reduce the deficit.
Bingo! There’s not. And even if there were, they would never be able to agree on which items to cut, so, at best, you have a stalemate, which means nothing gets done.
E. D. Kain at True / Slant took Andrew Sullivan to task for criticizing then candidate Scott Brown, and the budgetary concept of “Starving The Beast” :
Sullivan objects to calls for tax cuts because that will, essentially, starve the beast, leading to “massive cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and defense.” That this is not stated explicitly in Brown’s op-ed is immaterial. Republicans have long believed that cutting taxes will lead to cutting spending. What they need to do now is elect fiscal conservatives instead of people like George W. Bush. These cuts, after all, will be necessary unless we decide to shift course and adopt a social democratic model which I’m not sure the U.S. is ready to do at this point in history.
Moreover, judging the present policy positions of Republicans based on the poor fiscal record of George W. Bush is an odd approach. Few Republicans will tell you that they are proud of the spending record during the eight years of the Bush administration. It seems like a strange response to that to say that because of their past failures to rein in spending, any present or future attempts to block Democratic legislative agendas are simply hypocritical. Should they instead eschew fiscal conservatism altogether? I fail to see the logic in this.
Sullivan was right…. Almost. He assumed that the government would bother to “starve the beast” instead of just lumbering on, consuming even more of everything in its path. As you will see, this is what government actually does.
There is a serious disconnect with Republicans concerning fiscal policy. and government spending, and it’s on display right here. “Republicans have long believed that cutting taxes will lead to cutting spending.” It will???? Is there some sort of placebo effect going on here that I don’t know about? This is magical thinking, much like the belief in homeopathic medicine. President Warren G. Harding cut taxes in 1921, spending increased. JFK cut taxes, and spending increased. Reagan cut taxes, spending increased. Anyone else see a pattern here? Cutting taxes has never led to cuts in spending.
The graph is a comparison of government spending vs. economic growth, measured in Gross Domestic Product. You may look at this chart and see that spending flat lined after each of the tax cuts mentioned above, which should be interpreted as either spending cuts, or at least a freeze in spending. This is not correct.After each tax cut, spending still increased. But the economy grew as fast or even faster than the rate of government spending. And note that when the economy slows and goes into a recessionary period, the spending rate, suppressed in the graph because a the good economy, inevitably catches up. Long term positive economic trends, when they occur, whether caused by tax cuts or not, actually create enormous pressure on legislatures to increase government spending. The money is there and neither Democrats or Republicans have much of an incentive not to spend it. The first round of tax cuts by the Bush administration, designed to give back the surplus created during the Clinton / Gingrich years, was a move in the right direction. Too bad they lost this policy philosophy soon afterwards.
As for the other point by Kain – “Few Republicans will tell you that they are proud of the spending record during the eight years of the Bush administration.“. OK. Fine. So who is calling for a repeal of all the crappy gobs of extra bureaucracy enacted during the horrible Bush administration. Anyone hear Republicans calling for a repeal of the new Medicare-D entitlement? What about the failure that is No Child Left Behind? What about the ever bloated Department of Homeland Security, which, was shown only last month to be ineffective at stopping terrorist threats. The creation of the DHS added tons of ineffective layers of bureaucracy where simply a few changes in the way law enforcement shares data would have done nicely. None of the major conservative mouthpieces are calling for the repeal of any of these Bush era expansions of government; not Limbaugh, not Levin, not Hannity, not Beck – and so far, neither is new conservative Senator Scott Brown.