Strategic tips for the GOP in the debt limit fight

One of the most important elements in any type of conflict is to control the ground you fight on.  In politics, that usually means controlling the issues that will be discussed.  And for Republicans in the pending fight over the debt limit, that means taking the issue of defaulting on our debt payments off of the table and focusing on spending.

In our country’s fiscal wars there have been three major moving parts: 1) taxes, 2) spending and 3) borrowing.  Republicans don’t want tax increases and Democrats don’t want spending cuts, which left borrowing to finance the spending.  But now increasing payments on borrowing threaten to gobble future revenue for spending and mandate future taxes; which brings us the recurring battles over the debt ceiling.

Despite the tax hikes in the recent “fiscal cliff” deal, neither Obama nor any Democrats will publicly state that the rich are now “paying their fair share”.  They know that with the great unwashed, the politics of envy (AKA, jealousy) is always gold.

They also know that facing up to spending means facing up to reality, and facing reality means making choices, which will set some elements of the Democrats’ coalition at odds against each another.  If pretty much your entire political party is built out of constituent groups bought off with tax dollars, then you better keep the punch-bowl filled or the party’s over.

All of which means that this will be a fight for long-term political survival – where a lot of Republicans who supported the fiscal cliff deal (and it’s tax hike) try to get some of their anti-tax virginity back, and Democrats work to avoid cutting taxpayer subsidies to their political coalition.

Obama’s main weapon is his rhetoric.  He will attempt to control the terms of the debate to cower Republicans into keeping the spigot open by making Republicans look irresponsible for not wanting to borrow more money to pay back money we’ve already borrowed.  He will claim that Republicans are going to put the nation into default, and the media will enthusiastically carry his water.

What Republicans should do is simple:

First, have the House pass legislation directing the Treasury to pay all upcoming US debt payments via the first-fruits of all revenue.  The dirty little secret about this “default” business is that we collect more than enough revenue to pay our debts, it’s just that we spend so much more than we take in on everything else.

Second, when Reid and Obama reject option number one, have the House pass legislation authorizing the Treasury to sell bonds (raise the debt limit) for the specific amount of money relative to three-months of new debt payments.  At this point, default is no longer an issue.  Republicans will have taken action (twice now) to “pay our bills” as Obama says.  Now whether or not there is a default would lay squarely with Reid and Obama.

Third, (and in conjunction with the second item) announce that there will be no debt limit extensions for “new” spending (rather than debt payments) until Congress passes a budget.  Democrats have prevented passage of a budget for over three years because a lack of one locks in the high rates of spending growth that were part of the last budget in 2009.  They want the beast to keep growing on auto-pilot.

The argument for Republicans to make is that it is irresponsible to agree to further debt limit increases without an actual plan for how that future borrowed money would be spent.  This should be non-negotiable.  Once there is a budget, it could trigger another debt extension that would allow time for negotiations over entitlements, which are the real drivers of the debt.

Fourth, when negotiating on spending, propose something that almost eighty percent of Americans support (which is about thirty percent more than ever supported Obamacare) – across the board spending cuts.  After putting up with years of Democrats swinging the word “fair” like a club, it’s time for Republicans to do the same.  And Americans agree that “across the board” is “fair”.

Fifth, take a page from Obama’s playbook and include a demand that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the debate at hand: demand a one-year moratorium on new regulations…for the good of the economy.

The point of all of this is that it will leave Obama and the Democrats either putting us into default themselves, or agreeing to negotiate cuts in spending and give the GOP a boost on fiscal issues with the public.  This would alter the political playing field for the foreseeable future towards real reform and ground that Democrats don’t like.

By the time Obama leaves office, fifty percent of our country’s national debt from George Washington to today would have been pilled up under his administration.  That’s his legacy.

By focusing on the spending, Republicans can make him and the Democrats own it

Some thoughts for our new conversation on guns

Welcome to our latest national “conversation” about guns, a conversation demanded by those who have lost all recent conversations about guns.

It features an extremely loathsome group of politicians and other opponents of the Second Amendment who want to exploit the deaths of the young children in Newtown, Connecticut in order to advance a political agenda.  In fact, New York Democrat congressman Jerrold Nadler even used the word exploit, suggesting they can pass new gun restrictions “if the President exploits it”.

After such tragedies the cry is always to do something, anything, in order to make the story go away.  Then there is a rush to pass a law – any law – and rushed laws are almost always bad.  And it’s in such times that enemies of liberty always creep in hoping to use the moment to push their agenda before people calm down and look at things rationally.

But since liberals insist on having this conversation, let’s take a moment to review some things that we know, and that the left will surely overlook.

We know that over forty percent fewer homicides are committed with guns than those without guns.  We know that violent crime is at a thirty-seven year low.  We also know that this drop in violent crime coincided with a boom in gun ownership and states allowing concealed weapons permits.

We know that the liberal anti-gun BradyCampaign.org ranks Connecticut as having the fifth most restrictive gun laws in America.  And we know that over four-hundred and fifty school age kids were killed in Chicago in 2012, another bastion of anti-gun laws.

We know that inanimate objects don’t commit murder, people do.

We know that a recent study by the liberal Mother Jones magazine demonstrated that approximately two-thirds of mass killings since 1980 were committed by the “mentally unstable”.  And we know that the two biggest common factors of mass killings are mental instability and gun free zones (followed closely by media hype).

We know that a study of all mass shootings since 1950 involving three or more victims demonstrates that all but one has occurred in “gun free zones”, (the exception being the incident involving Congresswoman Gabby Giffords).  We know that after the Batman movie shooting in Colorado evidence showed that the killer had seven theatres within a twenty mile radius of his home.  Six allowed concealed weapons.  One didn’t.  Guess which one he targeted?  We know that places like Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech were so gun-free that nobody was able to stop the killers until the cops showed up and dozens were dead, (good job liberals!).

On the other hand, how many massacres or mindless shootings do you hear about happening at gun shows?

And let’s not forget to add the media to this conversation, without whom no one would know the names of the killers.  The media gives these creeps exactly what they crave – attention.  Some even get their own specials on cable.  The cliché about media coverage used to be that, “if it bleeds, it leads”; now it does so on multiple 24-7 cable channels, with celebrity style coverage of the killer and body count graphics that resemble a video game scoreboard.  And throughout the sensationalized coverage, they contribute to public ignorance by using words like “automatic”, “semi-automatic”, “assault weapon” and “military style” all interchangeably.

Of course the liberal goal here is new, more restrictive gun laws, but no current or proposed law would have stopped Adam Lanza or anyone else from doing what he did, unless the law was chiseled on a brick and thrown at his head.

There’s now another call for longer waiting periods before you can purchase a gun.  But how many examples of gun violence do you know of where the perp decided to buy a gun and then wait until the end of the waiting period to commit the crime?

What about banning “high capacity” gun magazines?  A red herring, since anyone with functional hands can swap out a clip on a pistol or riffle in two seconds at most.  And since “automatic” weapons (the “hold the trigger and let her rip” kind) are already illegal, nothing is gained by limiting magazines.

Then there’s the magical “Assault Weapons Ban” we hear so much about.  Of course the term “assault weapons” is specious, as all weapons are “assault weapons”.  Just ask anyone who has ever been stabbed with a steak knife.  “But these are military style weapons”, cry liberals.  Of course they may LOOK like something you see in a Rambo movie, but functionally they are no different than any deer rifle or shotgun.  One pull of the trigger, one shot.  Esthetics doesn’t make a weapon more dangerous.  Just saying.

And while we’re having this conversation, can we talk about our culture’s increasingly diminished sense of the value of life, given that we have legally killed over fifty million unborn children since 1973?  In fact, more are killed on the taxpayer’s dime every day than all of the “mass shooting” victims of the past decade.  Yet the same crowd that found a right to an abortion in a document that doesn’t mention abortion wants to pretend that “right to bear arms” doesn’t mean “right to bear arms”.  Go figure.

It’s worth pointing out that gun control laws are supposedly aimed at the very people who are already breaking them – (genius!) – but they always end up impacting the liberties of people who were legally minding their own business.  And there’s always a problem of imagination, meaning that if someone wants to kill a lot of people, they’ll find or create the means to do so, (see: 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing).

How about we deal with the crazy people instead?  The point should be stopping the people who are likely to commit such violence (aka the mentally ill), as opposed to infringing on the liberties of several hundred million people.

Since the mass killings that gave rise to this “conversation” are almost always the handiwork of the mentally disturbed, I vote for the former.