Thursday, February 28, 2013
As opposed to standing in front of a TV camera and some local police officials threatening the loss of their jobs, why doesn't President Obama work with Congress to come up with a solution?
As opposed to invoking fear, why doesn't he go to these same extreme lengths to create a sense of stability?
Instead of threatening the jobs of Americans, why doesn't he offer a way to cut spending without implementing layoffs?
Last week, I unveiled a plan to offset the anticipated layoffs by cutting unnecessary spending within our federal budget.
The first way to do this is by bringing the federal employee pay in line with the private jobs.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the average compensation of a federal employee is 16% more that their private equivalents. By reducing salaries to align more with their counterparts, we could save as much as $32 billion per year.
Next we must stop hiring federal employees.
As I noted earlier, since taking office President Obama has increased domestic agencies' budgets by 17%. Every year thousands of federal employees retire or leave their jobs.
In 2011 roughly 62,000 people ended their careers with the government. By not replacing all federal bureaucrats we could save anywhere from $60 billion to $200 billion over the course of 10 years.
Another way to reduce spending is by reducing federal employee travel by 25%.
The latest data provided by the General Services Administration suggested that the federal government spent $9 billion on travel. Reducing these travel funds by 25% will save us $2.25 billion per year.
Next, we must focus military research strictly on military needs. According to research done by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., $ 6 billion has been spent by the Department of Defense on research that has nothing to do with military or military-related health inquiries.
To save $19 billion annually, we should require competitive bidding for government contracts. By repealing the Davis-Bacon Act and ending blocked government contracts the government could save money by making pay competitive to all government employees.
The Heritage Foundation estimates that this will save $9 billion a year.
Also, many contracts in the federal government are provided to companies without requiring a competitive bid — or the opportunity for the government to contract work at the lowest price possible.
This provision would require the government to competitively bid all contracts. It would save an additional $10 billion a year.
Finally, we must stop giving foreign aid to countries that burn our flag. We spend more than $40 billion a year on foreign aid.
When we're dealing with a budget crisis here at home, it's only responsible to keep this money here. This provision would eliminate half the foreign aid budget.
Sequestration is inevitable, necessary, and only a first step. Our nation's leaders should be coming up with even more solutions to our debt problem.
Not every federal dollar is well spent and in order to dig our nation out of this financial hole, we must make real, clear and sensible cuts.
A true leader would look for a way to stabilize our nation by solving the crisis, which is why I have unveiled this alternative plan.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Paul is, in essence, a non-interventionist who's been trying to rebrand himself as a realist to better influence a party that's been dominated by hawkish voices since the early 2000s. And his strategy, crucially, has been neither the "go along to get along" approach that McCarthy criticizes nor some kind of frontal, guns-blazing assault on the "Fox-fed" ideas of "Tea Party neocons." Instead, Paul has done what successful politicians tend to do: He's picked his battles, done outreach to his critics, and consistently framed his arguments in language that conservative voters and activists understand. This has enabled him to break with the party's hawkish tilt on a number of substantive questions, from the Libya and Syria debates to issues of executive power to the question of whether containment should be an option for dealing with Iran, without coming in for anything like the attacks that greeted Hagel's nomination. He's put his foot in his mouth here and there and taken fire from both his friends and foes along the way, and future world events (particularly events related to Iran) may upset his tightrope walk. But at the moment he seems like living, breathing proof that there's room for actual foreign policy debate within the Republican coalition, and that not every non-hawk need be dismissed as a RINO and read out of the party.
What Paul seems to understand is that the Republican base doesn't really have a detailed set of foreign policy positions: What it has, instead, is the cluster of sympathies and instincts (pro-Israel, pro-military, nationalist rather than globalist, fretful about radical Islam, skeptical of international institutions) that Walter Russell Mead has famously dubbed"Jacksonianism," which can incline G.O.P. voters for or against different policy choices depending on how those options are presented. So if you want to reach the base, and move the party, you need to speak the base's language and respect its basic outlook on the world — which is something that Paul has done much more successfully than many members of Washington-based realist community.
This means, for instance, talking about war powers rather than the U.N. when the White House is contemplating a war of choice. It means invoking the constitution rather than international law to critique Obama's drone campaign. It means invoking Israel's own internal debates, rather than just blasting AIPAC's influence in Washington, to make the case for caution vis-a-vis a military strike on Iran. And it means finding ways to be a party loyalist on some votes in order to gain maneuvering room on others — as Paul tried to do, admittedly somewhat clumsily, by voting against cloture for Hagel but then voting to approve nomination.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
I don't think this is a fatal blow but the good Senator did damage his brand today, causing many of the people who he has convinced that he is not like his father to rethink their support of him. I think though that as long as he remains the tip of the spear, fighting government largesse and foreign aid to enemies of the United States, that people will forgive one vote, especially one as meaningless as the approval vote (the cloture vote was the key vote and he voted the right way there). This vote may still haunt him though in the 2016 primaries.
"We announce our surrender before we get started on every battle," Paul said. "That literally is our problem."
"We need to say over and over again…that the sequester was [Obama's] idea, that he's the one who's laying people off, we aren't, and that we have an idea to fix the sequester in a way that avoids any layoffs," he added.
"To announce after we got a filibuster that we are already giving up, when we didn't even get a piece of paper or anything — what a waste of time!" Paul said. "That is people who don't know what the hell they're doing."
Monday, February 25, 2013
Sunday, February 24, 2013
It was the Republican Party that ushered in abolition, then emancipation and then voting rights. And blacks — virtually all blacks — became Republicans.
Democrats in Louisville, led by Courier-Journal editor Henry Watterson, were implacably opposed to blacks voting. Watterson wrote in the Courier-Journal that his opposition was "founded upon a conviction that their habits of life and general condition disqualify them for the judicious exercise of suffrage."
The first 20 African-American U.S. congressmen were all Republican. The Republican Party has had more African-American U.S. senators than have the Democrats.
One of those Republicans was Edwin Brooks of Massachusetts, who remarked that if Democrats had the incredible history of emancipation and election of African-Americans you'd hear about it non-stop.
The Republican Party's history is rich and chock full of black history and the fight for civil liberties.
I still believe in a Republican Party that has a zeal for equality before the law. A party that prizes the sense of justice that Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of when he said: "an unjust law is any law the majority enforces on a minority but does not make binding upon itself."
The status quo traps many in a crumbling system of hopelessness. That’s a sobering fact that we need to meet head-on.
In America, poverty should not destine a child to educational failure. Instead, we all should have access to a great education, whether we live on a country club lane or in government housing.
I believe equality in education will only be achieved when we allow school choice for all: rich or poor, white, brown or black. Let the taxes paid for education follow every student to the school of his or her family’s choice.
Competition has made America the most prosperous nation in history. Competition can make our educational system the envy of the world.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Do you believe that the President has the authority to order lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without a trial?
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Endorsements from the Kentucky senator and his congressman father, Ron Paul, were critical in a primary race where the GOP establishment lined up against Cruz and behind Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, an arch-conservative whom the Tea Party nonetheless made out to be a moderate. But Cruz didn't return the favor by endorsing the elder Paul's presidential bid.
"[A]nd now for the rebuttal to the GOP response from 2016 Libertarian Party Nominee Rand Paul #sotu," tweeted Brad Todd a principal at On Message Inc., a Republican media firm whose clients include Jindal (and have included Paul in the past, when they made television ads for his Senate race).
"I don't see Bobby Jindal being much of a player on Rand or Marco's side of the field," said one senior Republican operative associated with Paul. "Quite frankly I see him as the 2016 version of Tim Pawlenty without the Minnesota nice."
There are several statistical methods that seek to rate candidates’ ideology on a left-right scale. FiveThirtyEight uses three of these methods in evaluating the ideology of Senate candidates as part of our technique for forecasting those races. The same methods can be applied to presidential candidates.
The first of these systems, DW-Nominate, is based upon a candidate’s voting record in the Congress. The second method, developed by Adam Bonica, a Stanford University political scientist, makes inferences about a candidate’s ideology based on the groups and individuals who have contributed to his campaign. The third method, from the Web site OnTheIssues.org, works by indexing public statements made by the candidate on a variety of major policy issues.
Not every rating system is available for every candidate: those who have never served in Congress have no DW-Nominate score, for example. And the methods sometimes disagree. The libertarian-leaning Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is rated as being extremely conservative by DW-Nominate and by Mr. Bonica’s method, which tend to give more emphasis to a candidate’s record on economic issues. But he is rated as fairly moderate by OnTheIssues.org, which also evaluates his stances on social policy. Sarah Palin is also rated as extremely conservative by Mr. Bonica’s system, but as relatively moderate by OnTheIssues.org. (Keep in mind that before being selected as John McCain’s running mate, Ms. Palin had some history as a reform-minded governor of Alaska.)
Nevertheless, we can usually get a reasonably good objective measurement of a candidate’s ideology by essentially taking an average of the three approaches. (Because the measures are not on the same scale, I normalize Mr. Bonica’s scores and the OnTheIssues.org scores to give them the same mean and standard deviation as DW-Nominate.) The higher the score, the more conservative the candidate.
DW-Nominate scores normally run on a scale that goes from negative 1 for an extremely liberal candidate to positive 1 for an extremely conservative one. To make the result more legible, I have multiplied all scores by 100 — so that, for instance, a moderate Republican might have a score of 25 rather than 0.25. Mr. Rubio achieves a score of 51 by this method.
In America, there's an ingrained (and for the most part healthy) tendency to assume that politicians have a more ambitious agenda than the focus-grouped porridge they offer in public....
Back to Rand Paul. He's obviously moderating his image — successfully. He seems reasonable, calm and thoughtful. But he leaves room for the suspicion that there's a more aggressive agenda behind the facade. But that agenda is less scary. Whereas the typical Republican often talks in a way that fuels (unwarranted) fears of theocracy and the Handmaid's Tale, there's something about the way Rand Paul talks that fuels the suspicion he'd actually be much more libertarian than he lets on. Of course, that suspicion is one reason why conservative hawks distrust him so much and leftwing doves give him so much of a pass. But when it comes to domestic policy, he gives the impression that if he actually got his hands on the levers of power he'd just leave us alone.
Because his rise fuels a narrative the media loves — civil war on the right — Paul's libertarianism will be treated as charming and harmless for a while more. The fact that the left likes his foreign policy dovishness and the "neocons" don't also makes him a useful foil for some liberals. But you can be sure that if he got real power and influence within the party or if he were the actual GOP nominee, his charming libertarianism would instantaneously terrify a lot of people. But for now, it all works for him.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
"Where would we cut spending? Let's start with ending all foreign aid to countries that are burning our flag and chanting 'Death to America.' In addition, the president could begin by stopping selling or giving F-16s and Abrams tanks to Islamic radicals in Egypt."...
Over ten years, that adds up to $90 billion. (Traditional congressional baseline budgeting, which assumes inflation growth, would bring the 10-year figure even higher, but Paul in his speech suggested he rejects that approach.)So Paul, in theory, has identified about 2 percent of the $4 trillion in cuts he says is necessary.
So let's see, he says Democrats must be willing to cut domestic programs and Republicans must be willing to cut defense. That clearly covers more than foreign aid. He also says he favors the sequester which cuts discretionary domestic spending across the board, again, clearly more than foreign aid. Then he talks about specific pro-growth policies such as cutting corporate taxes, introducing a flat tax and cutting regulation. All of those pro-growth policies could cut the deficit by sparking economic growth which leads to greater tax revenues.
Monday, February 18, 2013
Karl Rove, on Fox News Sunday, was beating his chest saying that he was the largest outside group supporting Rand Paul in his race in 2010 and that we need more Rand Paul's and less Christine O'Donnell's. See the video here:
And then Jen Rubin actually wrote a column titled "Why Rand Paul is Formidable" just a little more than a week after she wrote that he was confused.
I guess they feel that they shouldn't dismiss him so easily. He could be the nominee in a few years.
Friday, February 15, 2013
If you're launching a missile on U.S. troops, if you are launching a missile toward the United States, if you are hijacking a plane, if you are setting off a bomb, if you are leveling an AK-47 at any one of our soldiers — by all means and with great expedition, we will drop a drone bomb on you. No one is arguing against employing immediate and lethal force against anyone whose finger approaches a trigger.
President Obama's drone killing goes a great deal further, however. Mr. Obama tells us that an "imminent threat" need not be "immediate." What? Only a group of lawyers could argue that imminent really means the opposite.
The most infamous American killed by drone was Anwar al-Awlaki. He was targeted for months — long enough and publicly enough that his father actually protested in court but was not heard.
Now, I have no sympathy for al-Awlaki. From what I've read in the lay press, I have concluded that he was a traitor. As a juror, I would have voted to convict him of treason. My question is, since his targeting was public and prolonged, why did we not try him for treason? If he didn't show up, we could have tried him in absentia. If secret testimony was needed, it could have been heard before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Why should we do all this for a traitor? Because we're Americans. Because we prize our belief in trial by jury overseen by a judge. It is in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Because what makes us distinctly American is our belief in adjudicated justice. Because what the terrorists wish to destroy is exactly that freedom.
Moreover, a few weeks after we killed al-Awlaki, we killed his 16-year-old son with a drone strike. Can a 16-year-old be a terrorist or a traitor? Absolutely, but am I the only American who believes that this 16-year-old also deserved the contemplation of a jury and a judge?
The president is a politician. He is a politician from a party opposite mine, but my opposition to his drone killing is an opposition to any politician, Republican or Democrat, becoming an imperial executioner-in-chief. No politician should ever be granted that power....
I have no sympathy for murderers and rapists within the United States. I do, however, insist that the murderers and rapists we punish be guilty and found guilty by a jury and a judge.
Why? Why can we not just kill Americans who dissent? For one, because our government has already shown recklessness in defining who is a terrorist. Fusion centers in Missouri defined pro-life and pro-border-security hawks as potential terrorists. The Department of Justice produced a list of characteristics of terrorists that we should report to the government: people missing fingers; people who've changed the color of their hair; people who like to pay in cash; people who have more than seven days of food; and people who buy weatherized ammunition.