Morning Briefing for November 16, 2011

RedState Morning Briefing

For November 16, 2011
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1. We Sent ‘Tea Party’ Republicans to Washington for This?

In the House Republican’s Pledge that I told you was a “Pledge to Nowhere,” you find this language:

“tax increases must be prevented” and “We will help the economy by permanently stopping all tax increases”.

Got it? The House GOP pledged, also known as a promise, to stop “all tax increases.” It was their promise.

According to The Hill, the Republicans are about to give a capital “F” and a capital “U” to the tea party and throw in the towel on their Pledge.

Lawmakers emerged from the closed-door meeting saying Hensarling had made the case that offering some new revenue — $300 billion in at least one publicized offer — would be a good trade to secure a permanent extension of the George W. Bush-era tax rates.

So we’re going to keep permanent the Bush tax cuts that no one really thought would actually expire next year even though they technically are supposed to and replace those with a $300 billion tax increase?

To rub salt into the tea party’s wounds, “Hensarling received a standing ovation following his presentation.” Yes, a Republican got a standing ovation by Republicans for proposing a tax increase.

To be fair, if there are serious structural reforms to the tax code and serious concessions by the Democrats on entitlement reform, I would want to look seriously at the plan. But, based on what we know so far, the Democrats have offered nothing publicly substantive and the GOP is offering up a bunch of smoke and mirrors on the House side to cover up the fact that House leaders are actually proposing a tax increase on the American public.

Yet again the GOP is negotiating with itself. Given the way the GOP is operating on itself in public, I’m surprised it isn’t blind.

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2. House Republicans Set to Again Violate Their Pledge to America

With much fanfare in the midst of their campaign to take back control of the House of Representatives, House Republicans unveiled their Pledge to America. Many conservatives thought it was an enormous missed opportunity to lock a new Republican majority into a bold reform agenda. But House Republicans said that they wanted to under promise and over deliver. Who knew their conservative critics would end up being the keeper of their low expectations?

Unfortunately, Leadership’s commitment to their Pledge deteriorated quickly upon taking control. The Pledge called for a $100 billion cut in nondefense spending, but since this was going to be too hard in an abbreviated fiscal year, they decided to “prorate” that amount. Conservatives at the Republican Study Committee fought their Leadership and got them closer to $100 billion, but not all the way.

However, the Pledge also promised to transform the way the House of Representatives as an institution would be run. They promised to end the practice of packaging spending bills and other related legislation into so-called “omnibus” bills. Specifically, House Republicans pledged to “end the practice of packaging unpopular bills with ‘must pass’ legislation to circumvent the will of the American people. Instead, we will advance major legislation one issue at a time.”

Since it doesn’t actually say the word omnibus, did they mean something else? No, the passage was widely known to mean an end to omnibus bills. In fact, according to an October 2010 post on Speaker Boehner’s own blog, “House Republicans have also called for an end to the practice of passing massive ‘omnibus’ spending bills, arguing such bills make it too difficult to cut spending and too easy to shield spending projects from public scrutiny and debate.”

Now, House Republicans are about to violate this pledge too.

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3. A Tale of Two Pipelines

One of the reasons we’re supposed to be wary of the Keystone XL Pipeline is its alleged threat to the Ogallala Aquifer, the water source for much of the Great Plains.

The pipeline would be separated by almost 400 vertical feet from the aquifer, which is not actively recharged. That makes it extremely unlikely that even a large pipeline leak would contaminate water supplies.

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4. CBO Director Admits Stimulus Will Shrink Economy

We could have done a lot of good things with the $830 billion that was flushed down the toilet through the 2009 stimulus. That money could have been used to permanently transform our entitlement programs to free-market personal ownership accounts. It could have been used for massive pro-growth tax cuts. Instead, it was used to grow perennial dependency and for special interest handouts. But all of the supercilious smart economists say that it helps stimulate the economy, right? After all, it is called stimulus.

Well, earlier today, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf admitted to Senator Sessions that in the long run the stimulus will shrink the economy. He testified at a Senate Budget Committee hearing that the stimulus will indeed “be a drag on GDP” over the next ten years. Any diligent student of history already knew that, but now we have the “gold standard” of budget and economic scoring to affirm that self-evident truth. Nevertheless, fear not, the stimulus will have a stimulating effect in the short-term. That’s why we are enjoying a robust annual average GDP growth of…..1.4%.

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5. Senator Coburn: The Agony of a Pragmatic Conservative Amidst Inflexible Liberals

Senator Tom Coburn released a report, Subsidies of the Rich and Famous, detailing a list of subsidies, transfers, and “tax breaks,” that are paid to individuals with Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of over $1 million. The report found that millionaires have received at least $9.5 billion in “government payments” since 2003 and $113.7 billion in “tax breaks” since 2006. Accordingly, Coburn concludes that many of these tax deductions should be eliminated, while benefits for the rich should be means-tested or reduced.

As our debt approaches $15 trillion, Coburn’s heart is undoubtedly in the right place; however, many of his proposals are misguided. While some of the deductions enumerated in this report should be eliminated immediately, most of the savings will come from revoking universal tax deductions from those who already have the highest tax burden. Additionally, while some of the subsidies, such as the farm and green handouts, should be abolished, most of Coburn’s savings on government benefits would come from reducing Social Security payments to the rich. Social Security payments, unlike welfare and other subsidy programs, represent real money that was paid into the system through payroll taxes. Any effort to deny those payments from the rich would engender further redistribution of a program that was not conceived for redistribution. Also, it would ostensibly be a 12.4% tax increase on those high-income earners, as they would pay the tax without receiving the retirement checks.

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6. HELP: I’ve Made it to Round 2, Now Vote to Get Me to Round 3!

If you were reading RedState a few weeks ago, you may have seen a post by Neil asking for help expanding the RedState Radio Empire by voting for me in a contest at my local AM flagship station WBT in Charlotte, NC.

Put simply, the contest will put someone on the air on Sunday nights from 6-8pm and then, following that 3 month period, may be given a full contract to be a permanent host at the station.

When the word went out from RedState to start voting for me, my ‘likes’ went through the roof and I quickly moved into 1st place. Unfortunately, this upset a handful of people who were also hoping to win and rampant cheating began.

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