T Nation

Hope and Change


I'm sure it's for the best. The speaker knows what's best for all of us. Too bad if you live in a district that elected a Republican representative. You don't count anymore.


Pelosi Moves to Silence Minority By Erasing Long-Standing House Rules

Worst. Congress. Ever.
Speaker Pelosi plans to erase House rules that were written around Newt Gingrich?s "Contract with America" which would effectively silence the minority.
Connie Hair at Human Events reported:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to re-write House rules today to ensure that the Republican minority is unable to have any influence on legislation. Pelosi?s proposals are so draconian, and will so polarize the Capitol, that any thought President-elect Obama has of bipartisan cooperation will be rendered impossible before he even takes office.

Pelosi?s rule changes -- which may be voted on today -- will reverse the fairness rules that were written around Newt Gingrich?s ?Contract with America.?

In reaction, the House Republican leadership is sending a letter today to Pelosi to object to changes to House Rules this week that would bar Republicans from offering alternative bills, amendments to Democrat bills or even the guarantee of open debate accessible by motions to recommit for any piece of legislation during the entire 111th Congress. These procedural abuses, as outlined in the below letter obtained by HUMAN EVENTS, would also include the repeal of six-year limit for committee chairmen and other House Rules reform measures enacted in 1995 as part of the Contract with America.

After decades of Democrat control of the House of Representatives, gross abuses to the legislative process and several high-profile scandals contributed to an overwhelming Republican House Congressional landslide victory in 1994. Reforms to the House Rules as part of the Contract with America were designed to open up to public scrutiny what had become under this decades-long Democrat majority a dangerously secretive House legislative process. The Republican reform of the way the House did business included opening committee meetings to the public and media, making Congress actually subject to federal law, term limits for committee chairmen ending decades-long committee fiefdoms, truth in budgeting, elimination of the committee proxy vote, authorization of a House audit, specific requirements for blanket rules waivers, and guarantees to the then-Democrat minority party to offer amendments to pieces of legislation.

Pelosi?s proposed repeal of decades-long House accountability reforms exposes a tyrannical Democrat leadership poised to assemble legislation in secret, then goose-step it through Congress by the elimination of debate and amendment procedures as part of America?s governing legislative process.

So... this is what hope and change looks like.


Good find, Hedo - "Hope and Change" in practice doesn't quite square with the marketing, but I am not entirely sure Obama supporters would bother understanding any of the details enough to know.

More good government "Hope and Change":

[i]Anyone who follows politics will recall the hue and cry that greeted President Bush?s 2005 proposal to allow workers to save a portion of their Social Security payroll taxes in personal accounts. But even many who follow politics today could be forgiven for failing to realize that the incoming Barack Obama administration is, in its stimulus proposal, suggesting something far more radical for Social Security.

For those who don?t recall the specifics of the 2005 debate, let?s refresh the memory. Workers could have saved four percent of their wages, up to a cap of $1000 (rising each year), in Social Security personal accounts. The money would have remained within the broader Social Security system and the accounts administered by the federal government. The money could only be used to fund future retirement benefits, in effect replacing part of an unfunded benefit promise with a funded reality.

Because participation was to be phased in, the amounts of money proposed in 2005 appear modest by the standards of the current economic debate: $30 billion in 2009, $61 B in 2010, and $95 B in 2011. None of this money could have been spent, or diverted to purposes unrelated to funding Social Security benefits.

This 2005 proposal was greeted in superheated tones. The AARP ran television ads comparing even this modest sheltering of payroll taxes with the destruction of someone?s home. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities warned of dire fiscal consequences, alleging a loss over two decades of $5 trillion from Social Security. Such eye-popping figures were arrived at via a number of assumptions and extrapolations well beyond the specifics of the President?s actual proposal.

Fast forward to 2009. To sell an economic stimulus package, the incoming Obama Administration has urged the passage of what has been termed $300 billion in ?tax relief,? including a tax cut for ?95% of workers and their families.? When during the 2008 campaign it was pointed out that far less than 95% of Americans actually even pay income taxes, the Obama campaign asserted that there would nevertheless be tax relief in the form of a refund against payroll taxes ? in other words, Social Security.
The use of the preposition ?against? is a classic example of Washington-speak that confuses the reality of what is being proposed. In this case, the terminology blurs the answer to the question: will workers be receiving a refund of payroll taxes, or not? This bothered me enough to contact an expert on Social Security policy, a friend of mine, who had the same grave concerns about this proposal.
If the answer is ?no,? then the proposal is for a spending program, not tax relief, and should be understood as such. If the answer is ?yes, workers are receiving a refund of their Social Security payroll taxes,? then a new problem arises. We cannot simultaneously send this money back to taxpayers and deposit it in the Social Security Trust Fund at the same time. One can?t do both without double-counting the money.

Again, hearken back to the 2005 Social Security debate. Then, the Bush Administration did not paper over the reality that money could be invested either in personal accounts, or in the Social Security Trust Fund, but not both. The Bush administration accompanied the proposal with the public release of a memorandum from the Social Security Chief Actuary showing its impact on the Trust Fund.
Critics of Social Security reform had not hesitated to charge the administration in advance with double-counting. In a December, 2004 conference call outlining pre-emptive opposition to President Bush?s anticipated proposal (featuring economic experts who would later advise President-elect Obama), the suggestion even that money would be borrowed to pay for the transition to personal accounts was greeted with derision, including the flippant charge, ?You?d go straight to jail, and deservedly so? if such a dastardly thing were tried in the corporate world.
What a difference a few years makes. Now we are talking about potentially diverting far greater annual amounts of payroll taxes, not as a transition to lower Social Security obligations but to induce stimulative consumption separate and apart from Social Security ? and, by the way, to increase borrowing far more in the interim. This has been greeted by a singular lack of curiosity about the effects upon Social Security?s finances and accounting integrity.

It may well be that relief from payroll taxes is indeed the right medicine for our economy, in the midst of a deep recession. It would provide broad-based relief to a wide spectrum of Americans with a minimum of economic distortions. It would be far more stimulative than the various pork-barrel infrastructure initiatives that have been rumored in press discussions, although this appears as an addition to those initiatives and not as an alternative to them. Further, this kind of shell game would not just postpone our eventual reckoning on entitlement reform, but actively make it much worse. Maybe we need to do that, but it sounds a lot like the hair of the dog that bit us.

We have room for honest disagreement about the right medicine for our economic woes, but no room for misrepresentation. If we are in fact returning payroll taxes to working Americans, then this loss of revenue should be reflected transparently in the Social Security Trust Fund account.

There are only two other options, neither of them desirable: indefensibly double-count the money, or replace the revenue lost to Social Security from general revenues (read: income taxes) ? that is, end Social Security?s self-financing ethic.

Turning to general revenue financing of Social Security is a severe step that warrants acknowledgment and debate before being taken. At the very least, its accounting implications should be confronted head-on. For starters, such a step would render meaningless ? if not outright deceptive ? the amounts reported to taxpayers as having been contributed to Social Security on their W-2s.

Whatever is decided, truth in budgeting must be observed. Proposals to spend should be acknowledged as proposals to spend. Proposals to refund payroll taxes should acknowledge their effects on Social Security. Anything else falls short of the transparency that Americans deserve at this critical time.[/i]


More from the part of Hope and Change.

Reid, a Senator from Nevada, is now the sole indivdual who will decide who represent the people of Minnesota. Does he feel he is the dictator now after a bloodless coup? Why bother with elections anymore?


Reid: Coleman will "never ever serve"

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered the toughest language he has ever used in arguing that Norm Coleman?s career in the Senate is finished.

?Norm Coleman will never ever serve [again] in the Senate,? Reid told Politico?s Manu Raju. ?He lost the election. He can stall things, but he'll never serve in the Senate.?

Al Franken was declared the winner today by the state?s Canvassing Board in the closely-contested Minnesota Senate race, defeating Sen. Norm Coleman by 225 votes. Coleman?s campaign has said it is contesting the result, preventing Franken from receiving an election certificate until all the legal challenges are resolved.

Reid added that he will not be trying to seat Franken in the Senate on Tuesday. When asked if Franken would be sworn in tomorrow, Reid said: "No."

In his victory statement today, Franken said he was ?ready to go to Washington and get to work just as soon as possible.? But a Franken campaign spokesman said he has not yet made plans to travel to Washington.

Senate Republican leadership has threatened to filibuster any attempt to seat Franken before his victory is officially certified.