Tuesday, August 2, 2011

As Senate Votes, McConnell Declares Tea Party 'Won,' Reid says Tea Party 'Disconcerting' - The Note

As Senate Votes, McConnell Declares Tea Party 'Won,' Reid says Tea Party 'Disconcerting' - The Note

Obama Reflects On Debt Fight: Didn't Need This "Manufactured Crisis"

Obama Reflects On Debt Fight: Didn't Need This "Manufactured Crisis"

Republican states balancing their budgets

Their success should be a model for overspenders in Washington - Frank Donatelli -The Washington Times

At a time when Washington continues to struggle to trim deficits that approach $1.5 trillion annually, Republican-led states, along with a few Democratic officials, continue to take the tough steps necessary to balance their state budgets without tax increases. Here are a few of those states and the policies they have put in place to achieve these impressive results:

In Virginia, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell stood firm against tax increases last year and balanced his state’s two-year budget. Virginia taxpayers were rewarded when Mr. McDonnell recently announced a surplus of $311 million for the fiscal year just completed because of higher-than-expected tax receipts....

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal and the first Republican legislative majority since Reconstruction passed a $25 billion budget that closed a $1.5 billion hole without tax increases.....

Missouri’s Republican-dominated legislature adopted a 2012 state spending plan of $23.2 billion - $500 million lower than last year. This figure includes an additional $170 million of cuts implemented by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, making Missouri an example of bipartisan cooperation in spending restraint....

At least two states saw no such bipartisan cooperation, yet in both cases, small-government forces triumphed. In North Carolina, the first Republican legislative majority since the 19th century enacted a balanced-budget plan that closed a $2.5 billion deficit (12 percent of the total budget) and allowed “temporary” sales and income tax increases enacted by the Democratic majority in 2009 to expire....

In Minnesota, the Republican majority faced off against the very liberal Gov. Mark Dayton. Mr. Dayton, of course, proposed to increase taxes on the “wealthy.” The Legislature stood firm against any tax increases, resulting in a shutdown of state government for nearly three weeks. The final agreement closed a $5 billion deficit without raising taxes... MORE at the link

Monday, August 1, 2011

What led to `Project Gunwalker'?

What led to `Project Gunwalker'?Pauline Arrillaga/The Associated Press at Breitbart

Ten days before Christmas, ATF agent John Dodson awoke, got his morning coffee, switched on the TV news—and heard the words he had dreaded every day of every month he had been a member of the gun-trafficking investigative team called the Group VII Strike Force.
A Border Patrol agent had been shot dead in a gun battle with suspected bandits. The agent was 40, only months older than Dodson himself, another ex-military man who chose to serve his country by working for the U.S. government....

Seven months later, Fast and Furious has fast become a political thorn for the Obama administration, prompting calls for the resignation of ATF's acting director, stirring the debate over gun control and straining relations with Mexican officials. Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General to look into what happened, and Obama has vowed to take "appropriate actions."

Meanwhile, a parade of ATF agents have come forward, offering astonishing testimony in condemnation of their own employer over a probe they now call embarrassing, shameful, dumbfounding. They include some of the Group VII agents, including Dodson, Casa and Alt, but also another Phoenix-based supervisor, an ATF intelligence specialist and three Mexico-based agents.

"Put bluntly, it is inconceivable in my mind ... to allow firearms to disappear at all," Darren Gil, the former ATF attache to Mexico, testified Tuesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "It is even more inconceivable that a competent ATF special agent would allow firearms to cross an international border, knowing that they are ultimately destined for the hands of the worst of the worst criminals...." (Read the rest)

EDITOR'S NOTE—This story is based on interviews with ATF agents, past and present; gun dealers who cooperated in Fast and Furious; court records in the Fast and Furious case; the testimony of current and former ATF agents before congressional committees and to congressional investigators; and a review of internal ATF emails and investigative documents assembled as part of the congressional inquiry into Fast and Furious as well as government strategy documents and reports regarding ATF's approach to gun probes.

Pauline Arrillaga, a Phoenix-based national writer for The Associated Press, can be reached at features(at)ap.org.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rep. Kristi Noem: The Debt Plan Is a Win for Tea Party Freshmen

Herman Cain wins Western Conservative Summit Straw Poll; Rick Perry Second

Presidential candidate Herman Cain won the straw poll at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver this weekend with 48 percent of the votes, followed by Texas Governor Rick Perry. - ABC News

On Saturday, Cain placed second in the Smart Girls Conference straw poll, losing to Rep. Michele Bachmann by only 4 votes.

Rick Perry, who is considering a presidential run, placed second receiving 67 votes after delivering a speech to the group Friday night.

Fed up with debt limit talks, Pottawattamie GOP chair to endorse Herman Cain - desmoinesregister.com
News: Herman Cain Beats Rick Perry and I Just Bought My Ticket to Des Moines - The Other McCain

The President's remarks on The Deal

California: Teacher pension system on dangerous path to insolvency

STATE LAWMAKERS have pushed the California teacher pension fund toward a financial cliff and are now standing on the side of the road, apparently hoping divine intervention will stop the ensuing plunge off the edge. - contracostatimes.com
While most pension systems in California -- including the largest, the California Public Employees' Retirement System -- are irresponsibly manipulated with unrealistic actuarial assumptions, at least they are making small efforts to reduce their debts in the coming decades. They aren't talking about insolvency.
That's because they control their destinies -- they have authority to require more contributions from employers and workers to correct for financial shortfalls. The teachers' retirement system does not.

A Debt Deal Has Been Reached

Deal reached on raising debt ceiling - middletownpress

WASHINGTON—Racing the clock to avoid a government default, President Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders reached historic agreement Sunday night on a compromise to permit vital U.S. borrowing by the Treasury in exchange for more than $2 trillion in long-term spending cuts.

Officials said Speaker John Boehner telephoned Obama at mid-evening to say the agreement had been struck.
No votes were expected in either house of Congress until Monday at the earliest, to give rank and file lawmakers to review the package.

GOP on verge of huge, unprecedented political victory

it apppears the GOP is on the verge of pulling off a political victory that may be unprecedented in American history. Republicans may succeed in using the threat of a potential outcome that they themselves acknowledged would lead to national catastrophe as leverage to extract enormous concessions from Democrats, without giving up anything of any significance in return - Washington Post

Not only that, but Republicans — in perhaps the most remarkable example of political up-is-downism in recent memory — cast their willingness to dangle the threat of national crisis as a brave and heroic effort they’d undertaken on behalf of the national interest. Only the threat of national crisis could force the immediate spending cuts supposedly necessary to prevent a far more epic crisis later.

Again and again, Dems drew lines in the sand that they promptly erased as the threat of default grew. A clean debt ceiling hike? Dropped. Cuts to Medicare benefits? They’ll likely be in that committee’s crosshairs. The insistence on revenue hikes? Withdrawn.

.... The road that was taken is leading to a deal in which Dems are aggreeing to take huge amounts of money out of the economy when the recovery is shaky at best. It also seems to ensure that Dems will agree to entitlements cuts heading into an election where the GOP was supposed to be deeply vulnerable over their drive to end Medicare as we know it. Dems will promise to salvage victory in the form of “smart” entitlement reform. Maybe so. For now, it appears the GOP is on the verge of a huge and unprecedented victory.

GDP Report Shatters Illusion of Jobless, Productivity-Packed Recovery

GDP Report Shatters Illusion of Jobless, Productivity-Packed Recovery - The Atlantic

It's hard to overstate how much today's GDP report blew up our understanding of the recovery. The recession was deeper than we knew, and the economy is weaker than we thought. We weren't making new jobs, because we weren't making new things, period. The economy grew less than 1% in the first half of 2011.

Yesterday, analysts thought the economy was expanding by 2.5% a year. This morning, they learned GDP grew by only 1.6% in the last four quarters. This is a remarkable discovery. It's the difference between thinking we're expanding at a decent, if disappointing, pace, and knowing we're growing around half our historical norm.

Analysts also thought, as recently as twelve hours ago, that the economy declined 6.8% and 4.9% in the quarters bisected by Obama's inauguration. It turns out the actual declines were much steeper: 8.9% and 6.7%.

Recessions compared - The Economist

The Senate’s cloture vote on Harry Reid’s debt bill just failed 50-49.

Senate blocks Reid debt plan, bipartisan deal close - Reuters
Here we go again. - Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion

Sunday Debt Deal said to be "Very close"

Sunday Debt Deal Watch - Michelle Malkin
Debt compromise - neo-neocon
Open thread: Senate to vote on debt bill at 1 p.m., or maybe not - Hot Air
McConnell Says ‘Very Close’ to Deal on Debt-Ceiling Agreement With Obama - The Other McCain
Top Sen. Republican: deal very close on default - AP