ANYONE ELSE TIRED OF OUR DO NOTHING CONGRESS—ESPECIALLY GOP LEADERSHIP?
President Trump met with Sen. Schumer and Rep. Pelosi in hopes of getting something done that the GOP majority in both Houses of Congress couldn’t or wouldn’t do. HOW SAD IS THAT? Ideologues, recalcitrant-power-hungry-loners, and zealous factions (e.g., the Freedom Caucus) have tied the GOP and Congress in knots. Congressional Leadership, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are doing a poor imitation of leaders. The obscure and outdated filibuster has allowed the need for eight Democratic votes to hold the entire Senate captive. Well intentioned members of Congress as every bit as frustrated as the majority of their supporters, because an "obstinate few" are getting in the way of "collaborative many.”
To propose “vote them out of office next time around” is an imperfect, and in fact “stupid" solution. It means waiting for 18 months, finding a better candidate (not a trivial step, since many of these were elected by people who like their obstinacy), and throwing away the majority to actually DO SOMETHING POSITIVE FOR AMERICA AND AMERICANS.
Worse yet, The GOP—if there is such a party in reality now—continue to allows warring intra-party factions and inappropriate bureaucratic traditions (see below) to enable rampant Democrat obstruction. Trump nominees for important offices are held up interminably. He cannot even populate his administration or the vacant judicial positions—no matter how good (or bad) the candidates are. Furthermore, by permitting “perfection” in particular ideological views to stop positive legislation from getting the votes to become law, the GOP members of Congress, (especially in the Senate) have brought progress to a halt. It seems to me—and much of America—that some members of Congress are the opposition to what’s best for America, unless it passes their particular “litmus test,” based on narrow, selfish, or purist perspectives that totally ignore what’s good for Americans overall—and what those Americans want them to get done.
AN EXAMPLE OF OBSTRUCTION THAT NEEDS TO BE STOPPED
The Al Franken Standard from the WSJ 9/13/2017
Democrats continue to obstruct President Trump’s nominees by every petty means possible, from procedural tricks to anti-Catholic smears (see our editorial, “Democrats and ‘Dogma,’” last week). So now might be the moment for Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley to show Democrats that there are limits to their abuse of Senate rules.
Minnesota Democrat Al Franken unleashed the latest ploy last week, announcing that he will refuse to return his “blue slip” on the nomination of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Blue slips are a bipartisan tradition whereby Senators can block votes on nominees to the lower federal courts from their home states. Mr. Franken wants to turn this courtesy into a pocket progressive veto of Trump nominees.
The Senate comedian is also aiming to establish a new standard for what counts as disqualifying for the judiciary. Judge Stras is held in high esteem across Minnesota legal circles, has earned the highest rating from the liberal American Bar Association, and was elected with greater margins to his court seat than was Mr. Franken to the Senate. Judge Stras was on Mr. Trump’s short list for the Supreme Court, and even Mr. Franken’s minions have been unable to gin up a flaw in his legal record.
Mr. Franken claims instead that Judge Stras is unfit by virtue of his role models. The Senator is offended that the judge early in his career “worked as a law clerk for Justice [ Clarence ] Thomas,” and that he even once described that Supreme Court Justice as a “mentor.” Judge Stras also dared to speak at a Federalist Society event, where he “talked about how the jurisprudence of Justice [Antonin] Scalia helped to shape his own views.” Shocking stuff.
Under this Franken Role Model Standard, Democrats are justified in opposing any nominee who admires any widely esteemed Senate-confirmed Supreme Court Justice that he doesn’t like. Perhaps he thinks the late Justice Scalia wrote too well and was too intelligent to be Mr. Franken’s idea of a judicial model.
Blue slips were once reserved for nominees with ethical baggage, but Mr. Franken wants to use them for the crime of admiring the wrong people. Mr. Trump was elected in part on an explicit promise to appoint judges in the mold of Antonin Scalia, so the Franken standard pre-emptively disqualifies any Trump nominee.
Chairman Grassley needn’t stand for such nonsense. The blue slip has been around since 1917, but only a few Judiciary Chairmen have chosen to treat it as an absolute veto. Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy gave home state senators a “reasonable” deadline to return slips, and then put it to a committee vote on whether to proceed if they weren’t returned. Democrat Joe Biden reserved the right to ignore blue slips so long as an Administration consulted with home state Senators. Republican Strom Thurmond gave Members a mere seven days to return slips, then sometimes voted on nominees even over blue-slip objections.
Mr. Grassley has authority under Senate rules to suspend the blue-slip tradition on a case-by-case basis, and Mr. Franken’s abuse deserves to become his first example. The Iowan would also be justified in setting a time limit for returning a slip, since Mr. Franken also exploited the tradition by dragging out his decision on the Stras blue slip for months.
Democrats blew up the filibuster for judicial nominees in 2013 to pack the D.C. Circuit, and it boomeranged on them with the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. That might make them desperate, but it doesn’t give them the right to block a President’s nominees merely because a left-wing Senator thinks someone admires the wrong Justices. (Appeared in the September 13, 2017, WSJ print edition. )
YOU WILL NEVER READ THE WHOLE TRUTH IN THE MAJORITY OF THE MEDIA
The TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME, which is doing anything to hurt the President of the US and his office and authority infects many large and supposedly legitimate news organizations. The NYTimes, for years followed the motto, “All the news that’s fit to print.” Now it follows a different one: "If it hurts Trump, headline it and print it, fact-check it later and if it’s wrong, bury a retraction on page 10.” The Washington Post has also decided to follow that principle. The corollary one they have chosen is: "If it helps Trump, bury it, give it no coverage at all. Pretend it never existed.” These two papers and a series of other liberal big newspapers (throwbacks to a bygone era) still are the source, along with Associated Press, for most of the storied picked up by mid-size papers who cannot afford big staffs to chase national news, or to pay liberal OpEd syndicated writers. Thus all the news is skewed.
CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, et. al. ARE THE MEDIA ARM OF THE DEMOCRATIC TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME
FOX NEWS is the outlier, leaning Right of Center (Conservative) on many topics, and many commentators (Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, to name two of them.) Talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, et. al. are still solidly conservative, and Rush seems to see value in the Trump “drain the swamp” perspective. The Wall Street Journal is close to centrist, but still Right of Center (due to its fiscally conservative perspective). The WSJ also has a group of strong Right-leaning OpEd and Columnists, (Dan Henninger, Kim Strassel to name two). Thus what happens is this: PEOPLE WATCH AND/OR READ SOURCES THAT REINFORCE WHAT THEY ALREADY BELIEVE, THUS BECOMING MORE ENTRENCHED IN THEIR BELIEFS. NOTE; I AM NO EXCEPTION TO THAT RULE.
CAN ANYONE TELL ME WHY THERE IS NOT A MASSIVE INVESTIGATION OF HILLARY CLINTON, SUSAN RICE, JAMES COMEY, ETC.?
If a Special Counsel was ever called for, it is not investigating vague Trump’s Russian ties. It is to investigate known, massive, countless illegal actions by this gang of Obama minions. Call or write your Congressional representatives and insist on that investigation…DO IT NOW!
IF YOU WANT TO WASTE TIME AND MONEY, BUY AND TRY TO READ HILLARY’S BOOK (IT MAY WORK BETTER THAN AMBIEN)
Nuf said. She’s still a reprehensible example of what the claims to be. Better yet, read my book THE CHINESE CONSPIRACY, which is as timely as ever as it nears its 7th birthday. https://www.amazon.com/Chinese-Conspiracy-John-Mariotti-ebook/dp/B00472O93G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505671567&sr=8-1&keywords=the+chinese+conspiracy+mariotti
BERNIE SANDERS IS DANGEROUS—HE HAS NO IDEA OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE NONSENSE HE SPOUTS
Or maybe he just doesn’t care. He’s old and won’t live forever. Maybe he thinks his legacy is to give free everything to everyone and let those how outlive him figure out how to stop from destroying the country with the massive indebtedness. It seems the Sanders’ style of hand-grenade throwing is becoming the approach to Democratic Party prominence. Elizabeth Warren is only slightly less dangerous. I think she may understand the consequences of her ideology and actually believe they are OK.
IF YOU DON’T THINK THE INSECURE US POWER GRID ISN’T A HUGE NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUE—THINK AGAIN
Ask anyone who’s gone through the aftermath of hurricanes HARVEY & IRMA, what happens when an entire area (most of Florida) is without electricity for a sustained period of time. It’s grim. People suffer and some die. Costs run into the billions. Only because of a concerted effort by other states and places have the consequences of IRMA been partly mitigated. A week later, power is just being restored to a fraction of the places where it was lost. Sewage is backing up because the pumping stations that keep it flowing to its rightful destination have no power. Nursing homes are now being evacuated because with no AC and 90+ temperatures, the elderly are suffering and some are dying. Traffic signals don’t work. Services are overwhelmed. Tell Congress that hardening the US Power Grid against either solar flares or and EMP attack is a good place to spend a few ($2-4) billion on Infrastructure—RIGHT NOW—FAST.
YES, NORTH KOREA IS A NUCLEAR THREAT RUN BY A MURDERING, POWER-CRAZED, UNSTABLE LEADER.
Haven’t so many of the leaders who have wreaked global havoc been power-crazed, murdering and unstable? Sure they have. There is one solution—and only one—that must be pursued, very quietly, and very quickly. Take Kim Jong Un out of power! Of course he won’t go quietly, but unless the Chinese “man up” and shut down North Korea’s flow of everything, none of the other solutions work. They have all been tried, to no avail. Brutal? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely. How? Very carefully, because our experience has shown that the next person in power may be no better—or even worse? But what are the alternatives. No experts will say this on big media. It’s too inflammatory. But remember Hitler? Stalin? Idi Amin?Saddam Hussein? Muammar Gaddafi? Nuf said?
Finding America’s Lost 3% Growth
If the country can’t grow like it once did, then the American Dream really is irretrievably lost.
By Phil Gramm and Michael Solon
Sept. 10, 2017 4:04 p.m. ET
Growth deniers are declaring that America’s economy has lost its ability to grow at 3% above inflation. If that’s the case, maybe we should go back to where we lost 3% growth and retrace our steps until we find it. For only with 3% or higher growth does America experience measurable progress in poverty reduction, strong job creation and income growth. If 3% growth is irretrievably lost, so is the American Dream.
Did America actually experience 3% real growth to start with? Yes. In the postwar era, the U.S. averaged 3.4% annual growth from 1948 through 2008. We averaged 3% growth for half of the George W. Bush presidency (2003-06). From 2009-12, the Obama administration, the Congressional Budget Office and the Federal Reserve all thought they saw 3% growth just around the corner. If the possibility of 3% growth is gone forever, it hasn’t been gone very long.America enjoyed 3% growth for so long it’s practically become our national birthright. Census data show that real economic growth averaged 3.7% from 1890-1948. British economist Angus Maddison estimates that the U.S. averaged 4.2% real growth from 1820-89. Based on all available data, America has enjoyed an average real growth rate of more than 3% since the founding of the nation, despite the Civil War, two world wars, the Great Depression and at least 32 recessions and financial panics. If 3% growth has now slipped from our grasp, we certainly had it for a long time before we lost it.So poor was our economic performance during the Obama presidency, with its 1.47% economic growth, that now many Americans believe 3% growth is gone forever. The CBO has slashed its 10-year growth forecast to a measly 1.8% per year. If we never see 3% growth again, our grandchildren may point to 2009 and say, “That was when the American economy ran out of gas.”While Obama apologists like to claim that labor-productivity and labor-supply factors preclude 3% growth, most of the growth constraints we face today are directly attributable to Mr. Obama’s policies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that labor-productivity growth since 2010 has plummeted to less than one-quarter of the average for the previous 20, 30 or 40 years. Productivity fell during the current recovery, not during the recession. With high marginal tax rates, especially on investment income, new investment during the Obama era managed only to offset depreciation, so the value of the capital stock per worker, the engine of the American colossus, stopped expanding and contributed nothing to growth.A tidal wave of new rules and regulations across health care, financial services, energy and manufacturing forced companies to spend billions on new capital and labor that served government and not consumers. Banks hired compliance officers rather than loan officers. Energy companies spent billions on environmental compliance costs, and none of it produced energy more cheaply or abundantly. Health-insurance premiums skyrocketed but with no additional benefit to the vast majority of covered workers.In a world of higher costs, productivity plummeted. Productivity measures the production of things the market values that flow from the employment of labor and capital. Try listing the Obama-era regulatory requirements that generated the employment of labor and capital in ways that actually produced something you buy.True, America is aging. In 2006, when the labor force participation rate was 66.2%, the BLS predicted that demographic changes would push it down to 65.5% by 2016. Under Mr. Obama’s policies, it actually fell further, to 62.8%, and the number of working-age Americans not in the labor market spiked to 55 million.By waiving work requirements for welfare, lowering food-stamp eligibility requirements and easing standards for disability payments, Mr. Obama’s policies disincentivized work. Disability rolls have expanded 18.6% during the current recovery, compared with a 16% decline during the Reagan recovery. The CBO estimates ObamaCare alone will reduce work hours by 2% and eliminate 2.5 million jobs by 2024. At the current 1% growth in the civilian population above the age of 16, a mere reversion to the pre-Obama labor-force participation rates would supply more than enough workers to generate a 3% growth rate.Even baby-boomer retirement is driven in part by public policy. When Social Security paid its first check in 1940 average life expectancy was 64 years and benefits started at 65. Today early retirement is available at 62. Life expectancy is now projected to be 79 years. People are healthier, morbidity rates have fallen dramatically, and the retirement age can and should be raised.Bad policies—not bad luck or a loss of God’s favor—have driven down labor productivity and the labor supply. We can change those policies. If reversing Mr. Obama’s policies simply eliminated half the gap between the projected 1.8% growth rate and the average growth rates during the Reagan and Clinton recoveries, it would deliver 3% real growth generating nearly $3.5 trillion in new federal revenues over the next 10 years. That’s not as much as the $4.3 trillion in revenues lost by Mr. Obama’s slow growth, but it’s more than Mr. Trump promises to bring back by reversing his predecessor’s policies.America without 3% growth is not America. Since 1960, the American economy has experienced 30 years with growth of 3% or more. Seventy-nine percent of all jobs created since 1960 were created during those years. The poverty rate fell by 72% and real median household income rose by $20,519. In the 26 years when the economy had less than 3% growth, just 21% of all post-1960 jobs were created, the poverty rate rose by 37% and household income fell by $12,004. With 3% growth, the American dream is achievable and virtually anybody willing to work hard can live it. Let 3% growth die and a lot of what we love most about our country will die with it.Mr. Gramm, a former chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Solon is a partner of US Policy Metrics.
Please use this email address: [email protected]
See my my latest commentary at