American Elephants

Mika Brezezinski takes on Niall Ferguson by The Elephant's Child

Niall Ferguson, British historian now at Harvard University, wrote for Newsweek and Time Magazine appeared on Morning Joe .  Mika Brzezinski was not happy with the historian’s portrayal of President Obama’s involvement in the crisis in Cairo, and took him on directly.

Fund the Things That Work. Cut the Ones That Don’t. by The Elephant's Child

From an article in the Foundry, the Heritage Foundation blog:

Standing in front of a Baltimore County middle school yesterday, President Barack Obama said “Even as we cut out things that we can afford to do without, we have a responsibility to invest in those areas that will have the biggest impact in our future.  And that’s especially true when it comes to education.” Accordingly, the president’s budget includes a $13 billion increase in Department of Education spending from the 2010 budget.  But this is hardly the first time a White House has significantly raised education spending.

Since 2001, federal education spending has already increased by 100 percent, and going back to 1970, it has almost tripled.  And what have we gotten for the federal “investment” in our future?  Nothing, Nada, Zip. Funding allocated for the Department of Eduction, $77.4 billion, a 22 percent increase over 2008 levels. 

The Federal Department of Education’s spending has completely failed to raise student achievement over the past 30 years.

In any very large enterprise, there is going to be large amounts of waste and inefficiency. The bigger the enterprise, the more waste.  But there are huge programs that we know don’t work, and hope keeps triumphing over common sense.  The federal government doesn’t belong in the education business.

Head Start has been studied over and over, and it has been determined in each study that it simply does not perform.  Any small benefits have vanished by 3rd grade, and there is no improvement over time. Yet the intent of the program was beneficent.  They meant well.  So will the program continue forever, always funded, because this time it might be different?

The federal government has $700 billion in unspent funds gathering dust in accounts all over Washington.  There’s $12.2 billion of unspent funds at Agriculture; $16.4 billion at Labor; $25.2 billion at HUD; $71.4 billion at Defense, and $309.1 billion at Treasury.

The Department of Energy is backing a $1 billion plan to turn wood chips into an oil substitute.  This would be about 4 times larger than any previous guarantee for biofuels.  There’s a long cautionary tale about Range Fuels for which President Bush ponied up $76 million and funds committed by taxpayers eventually reached $162 million plus about the same amount in private funds. The company created only one batch of methanol, not ethanol.  There should be a lesson here, but nobody is paying any attention to lessons.

The administration is embarking on a campaign to promote the U.N. and America’s role in the organization. The White House is sending Susan Rice, our UN ambassador out to make a series of speeches throughout the spring. She will talk about how the world body should be strengthened rather than forced to reorganize.  The UN has a long record of accomplishing nothing, refraining from preventing genocide, not halted starvation.  It is a corrupt organization that we support to the tune of $1.25 billion a year, roughly 25 percent of the organization’s budget.  The problems at the UN are probably too deep to be reformed.

Maybe we could just fund the things that work, and set aside all the hopey changey stuff till after we get the budget under control.

The Budget Battle Begins. A Cynical Opening Play. by The Elephant's Child

Over at Chicago Boyz, Lexington Green lays out what he believes Obama’s Budget Battle strategy to be. Obama’s strategy  is deeply irresponsible and intended not to save the country, but to get Obama reelected.

Obama has sent a budget to Congress. It makes no effort whatsoever to either cut or control spending.  He is not, as some people claim “failing to lead.”  He is setting up a confrontation, and he plans to win.

Obama is betting that he can force the GOP to make their proposed cuts, which he can blame them for, which he can truthfully say he does not support. Then he can attack the Republicans for making the cuts. He will appeal to the people who are suffering from the cuts, and strip away GOP support. They will be angry and mobilized.

Obama then plans to force the GOP into a funding crisis just as Clinton did. Obama plans to destroy the GOP reform wave of 2011 just as Clinton destroyed the GOP reform effort in 1995.

Obama’s team attempted to use the Tucson massacre in the same fashion that Clinton used the Oklahoma City bombings, to discredit the GOP. Obama is acutely aware of the Clinton playbook. This is another re-run.

If Obama wins, then the GOP / Tea Party effort is over and the Democrats have won the whole ball game. Obama gets reelected, the GOP is finished as a political party, and we have a mess for some number of years while a new party forms. But odds are it will be too late by then. A majority of people will be dependent on the Government.

It is that serious. Obama’s brazen, no-cuts budget proposal is not a sign of weakness.

It is a bold chess move that demands a strong response.

Other than a few gimmicks and a few cynical “cuts” like slashing the heating oil subsidy for grannies in the Northeast (that aren’t going to happen) it is simply the same budget he submitted last year with an increase in spending for his useless green fantasies tucked in.   He has decided to go for a showdown— probably at the advice of the Center for American Progress — because it worked for Clinton, and he thinks it will work for him.  Bipartisanship is simply not part of the president’s policies.

Obama believes deeply in what he calls his “gift” — his ability to sway public opinion with his rhetoric. A compliant media will help to shape the public mood, and nobody understands all this economics stuff anyway.

Obama’s strategy is shown most clearly by his complete ignoring of the work of his own Fiscal Commission, which did serious work and recommended $4 trillion in needed cuts over ten years.  The  fact that he did not take their recommendations seriously is telling.

Obama is betting that Republican reforms will scare people.  He has often demonstrated his lack of respect for either the knowledge or education levels of the American people.  He is betting that people will be unable to follow the arguments in the budget battle, be  bewildered by the big numbers, and easy to influence with his speeches about how Republican reforms will harm them and damage the nation.  Swaying public opinion is right up his alley.

It is a transparent effort, and deeply cynical.  But this is not the timid Congress of 1995.  These new members of Congress were elected to go forth and do battle.  The people who elected them believe in free enterprise and American exceptionalism, and they will be heard.

How Big Is the U.S. Debt? by The Elephant's Child

Professor Antony Davies, from Duquesne University, explains just how big our debt is. He doesn’t leave out the parts that no one usually mentions — the entitlements that we have promised to our own people.

Is is a terribly serious matter that cannot be ignored, much as some politicians would prefer to just keep coasting along.

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