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The Decline and Fall of America by Marvin Folkertsma

The Decline and Fall of America The Decline and Fall of America

by Marvin Folkertsma

 Nov 17, 2012

 
A few days after the election of 2012 the very talented Michael Ramirez published a political cartoon that perhaps conveyed a more profound meaning than he anticipated. He depicted a pair of hands extending from star-studded sleeves (presumably from a mendicant Uncle Sam), which were held in supplication, as though waiting for a handout or petitioning voters to relinquish more of their earnings to the federal government. There’s another way of interpreting this image, however; the hands appeared not only pathetic and a bit contemptible, but also aged and withered, as though belonging to an old man. In which case, this representation captured perfectly the situation of the United States as it enters the second decade of the 21st century: America is getting older and is entering a state of decline.

 

No one understood the dynamics of aging societies approaching decrepitude better than Mancur Olson, an economist who taught at the University of Maryland until his death in 1998. Olson’s crowning achievement was a book published in 1982 titled, “The Rise and Decline of Nations.” Olson argued that the proliferation of interest groups (collusions or distributional coalitions, in his terms) eventually spells doom for the societies they inhabit. And proliferate they have, from 6,000 in 1959 to 22,000 at the beginning of the 21st century, according to the Encyclopedia of Associations. Like it or not, every man, woman, and child in the country is represented by an interest group.

But when we say “interest group,” what exactly do we mean? America’s master political thinker, James Madison, said it best with his definition of “faction” in Federalist 10, as comprising “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community” (italics added). So much for our contemporary, naïve notions about how factions (interest groups) proclaim to represent some greater good.

It gets worse, especially considering three additional developments. First, America’s mammoth federal government constitutes an interest group itself, which means it does all the things other public and private groups do to protect itself. Second, about half of the population receives some form of aid from the federal government, according to the Heritage Foundation’s 2012 Index of Dependence on Government, and these recipients constitute perhaps the most behemoth group of them all. Third, close to one-half of the entire population does not pay federal-income taxes, a figure that climbed from 12 percent in 1969 to 34.1 percent at the beginning of the Bush administration to its current figure as President Obama starts his second term. The question is: What does all this mean for the destiny of America?

Prepare yourself for some very bad news. As societies age, they “tend to accumulate more collusions and organizations for collective action over time,” which in normal speak means that societies become infested with interest groups just like arteries become more rigid and clogged with body gunk as you get older—a phenomenon Jonathan Rauch referred to as “Demosclerosis.” Further, groups “reduce efficiency and aggregate income in the societies in which they operate and make political life more divisive.” Example: anyone read the healthcare bill lately? And the thousands of regulations in existence and forthcoming? And consider its huge increased costs?

The keystone of this argument is a passage that is terrifying in its implications and is worth quoting in full: “The typical organization for collective action [interest group] within a society will … have little or no incentive to make any significant sacrifices in the interest of the society” and “there is … no constraint on the social cost such an organization will find it expedient to impose on the society in the course of obtaining a larger share of the social output for itself” (italics in original). This means nothing less than it says: a group will kill its host, the American republic in this case, before relinquishing even a modicum of benefits for itself.

Nations die this way, empires collapse, societies atrophy, and countries implode (like the old USSR) or are conquered from without. In the United States, this phenomenon cannot be blamed exclusively on Democrats or Republicans; both parties represent coalitions of groups that all want something from the government. Indeed, if there is any difference between Republicans and Democrats in this regard it is that President Obama has accelerated this process over the last four years. But institutionalized selfishness was a going concern before he came along.

All of which is suicidal, right? Yes, it is. Can anything be done to arrest or reverse this process? Absent some kind of revolutionary demolishing of governmental interventions, no, there probably is not. What, then, might happen to America? Considering the current economic situation, some kind of collapse is of course possible. Most likely the United States will change into something else, into a “soft” totalitarian society envisioned by Alexis de Tocqueville, where its citizens are “cared for” but weighted down by mountains of rules and bereft of any dynamism, creativity, or imagination—subservient, socialist, and senile.

And we will have no one to blame for the fall of our country but ourselves.

On Election Eve, Catholics Unite to Protect Religious Freedom by Susan Berry

 

On Election Eve, Catholics Unite to Protect Religious Freedom

 

  

4 Nov 2012
 
This last Sunday before Election Day finds Catholics across the nation, and beyond, uniting in both prayer and advocacy to protect freedom of religion as provided in the Constitution. Interestingly, the emphasis on Catholic values and teachings, as a result of the recent defense of freedom of religion, may also end up strengthening religious faith among Catholics in general.

Since the announcement of what is now familiarly termed, “the HHS mandate,” Catholics and Christians of other denominations have denounced the ObamaCare provision that demands that most employers, including those associated with churches, grant free contraception, sterilization procedures, and abortion-inducing drugs to their employees through their health insurance plans. 

This coercion to violate faith beliefs in order to satisfy government requirements has led to a veritable onslaught of litigation by Catholic dioceses and institutions, the institutions of other Christian denominations, and individual business owners. As Barack Obama attempts to be elected to a second term, he is faced with 38 lawsuits and over 110 individuals from around the country who represent those whose religious liberty is being challenged by the mandate.

In the swing state of Colorado, a group of lay Catholics has placed a full-page ad in the Sunday edition of the Denver Post to drive home the significance of religious liberty in Tuesday’s election. Regarding the ad, J.D. Flynn, chancellor of the Denver archdiocese, said, “I think the folks who organized getting the ad together want to ensure everybody understands what’s at stake not only for the Church, but for the country, when religious liberty is compromised.”

The ad features the full text of a letter written by Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila about religious freedom and the election. “I just think it speaks to the quality and commitment of the lay people in the Archdiocese of Denver that they want to support the archbishop in this way,” Flynn commented. “Our country is the product of religious liberty. When we undermine that for something as short-sighted as free contraception, everybody is in serious trouble.”

“As Americans we have a civic responsibility to vote and to participate in the political process,” Archbishop Aquila said. “As Catholics, we have a moral duty to vote with an informed conscience, and to pray for wisdom and guidance as we head to the voting booth.”

As a way to call Catholics to special prayer for religious liberty, Denver’s Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception will expose the Blessed Sacrament for Eucharistic Adoration on Election Day, November 6th.

“Our founding fathers understood that without these freedoms, especially religious liberty, our democratic experiment would fail,” Aquila wrote. He added that religious liberty faces “an unprecedented threat” from the HHS mandate, which “undermines the promise of the First Amendment.”

Catholic parents, too, have taken more notice of what their children are being taught in schools, and some have voiced objections to government interference in their parochial schools. In Orleans, Ottawa, Canada, Catholic parents denounced a high school trip into the U.S. to Ohio when they discovered their students would be going door-to-door in support of President Obama’s re-election.

The trip, which was organized by civics teacher Scott Searle, a volunteer for the Obama for America campaign, was cancelled when parents called the school board, furious that it would permit a trip to assist a U.S. president who has disdain for the values of Catholics.

“Parents were complaining that students would be supporting a politician holding pro-abortion views,” said Theresa Pierre, president of Parents as First Educators. “I think it’s valuable to introduce children to the political process, but the choice of that kind of involvement has to be in line with church teachings,” said Pierre.

As Catholics vote to elect the next president, and join with all Americans to decide the future direction of the country, many are now keenly aware that religious liberty cannot be taken for granted. Reflection on the right to practice one’s beliefs is likely to cause some to seek greater understanding of their faith as well as a desire to share that faith with others. It is not surprising, then, that Pope Benedict XVI, has declared this year to be the “Year of Faith,” and has invited all Catholics to share in a new evangelization of that faith.

Vote Catholic Principles and American Values by Fr. George W. Rutler


FROM THE PASTOR
November 04, 2012
by Fr. George W. Rutler

It was a pleasure recently to perform the marriage rites of two of our fine parishioners at Old St. Mary’s Church in Philadelphia, which at the time of the American Revolution was the third-largest city in the British Empire. Members of the Continental Congress attended a celebration of the third anniversary of the Declaration of Independence there in the presence of George Washington himself. The priest chaplain of the French ambassador, Conrad Alexandre Gérard, sang a solemn Te Deum. Catholics were still a small minority in the new country, but the Founding Fathers were well aware that the Catholic Church had been the mother of western civilization before the discovery of the New World.

Washington showed his regard for the Catholic troops at Valley Forge and helped to support a Catholic church in Philadelphia. He kept a devotional image of the Virgin Mary in his dining room at Valley Forge. Generations later, based on inherited information and sentiment, St. Katherine Drexel was certain that he had become a Catholic on his deathbed. While there is no substantial evidence for that, Washington knew that the natural-law theory enshrined in the Declaration of Independence had roots older than the Founding Fathers, and he would not have blanched to hear the names of Augustine and Aquinas among them.   

On October 9, 1774, in Philadelphia, John Adams went church shopping with Washington and attended a service in a “Romish chapel,” which was either St. Joseph’s or St. Mary’s. He described in a letter to his wife Abigail what seemed to him exotic: “. . . the poor wretches fingering their beads, chanting Latin, not a word of which they understood; their pater nosters and ave Marias; their holy water; their crossing themselves perpetually; their bowing to the name of Jesus, whenever they hear it; their bowings, kneelings and genuflections before the altar.” There was nothing like that in his Puritan world, but he found it all “awful and affecting” —and awful then meant awesome. The sermon was “a good, short moral essay upon the duty of parents to their children, founded in justice and charity, to take care of their interests, temporal and spiritual,” and “the assembly chanted more sweetly and exquisitely.” He wondered how Luther ever “broke the spell.” Adams himself was enough under the spell to donate a generous gift to the building of Holy Cross Church in Boston in 1800. A Protestant friend of his said, “no circumstance has contributed more to the peace and good order of the town, than the establishment of a Catholic Church.”

The peace and good order of our whole nation hang on how we vote. Catholics can keep faith with the Fathers of the Church and the Founding Fathers of our Nation only by voting for those who defend the fundamental right to life and the First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom.

 


 

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In 2012, Who Is for Hope and Change? by Patrick J. Buchanan

 
“Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.”
 
So wrote John Jay in Federalist No. 2, wherein he describes Americans as a “band of brethren united to each other by the strongest ties.”
 
That “band of brethren united” no longer exists.
 
No longer are we “descended from the same ancestors.”
 
Indeed, as we are daily instructed, it is our “diversity” — our citizens can trace their ancestors to every member state of the United Nations — that “is our strength.” And this diversity makes us a stronger, better country than the America of Eisenhower and JFK.
 
No longer do we speak the same language. To tens of millions, Spanish is their language. Millions more do not use English in their homes. Nor are their children taught in English in the schools.
 
As for “professing the same religion,” the Christianity of Jay and the Founding Fathers has been purged from all public institutions. One in 5 Americans profess no religious faith. The mainline Protestant churches — the Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran and Presbyterian — have been losing congregants for a half-century. Secularism is the religion of the elites. It alone is promulgated in public schools.
 
Are we attached to “the same principles of government”?
 
Half the nation believes it is the duty of government to feed, house, educate and medicate the population and endlessly extract from the well-to-do whatever is required to make everybody more equal.
 
Egalitarianism has triumphed over freedom. Hierarchy, the natural concomitant of freedom, is seen as undemocratic.
 
Are we similar “in our manners and customs”? Are we agreed upon what is good or even tolerable in music, literature, art?
 
Do we all seek to live by the same moral code? Abortion, a felony in the 1950s, is now a constitutional right. Homosexual marriage, an absurdity not long ago, is the civil rights cause du jour.
 
Dissent from the intolerant new orthodoxy and you are a bigot, a hater, a homophobe, an enemy of women’s rights.
 
Recent wars — Vietnam, Iraq — have seen us not “fighting side by side” but fighting side against side.
 
Racially, morally, politically, culturally, socially, the America of Jay and the Federalist Papers is ancient history. Less and less do we have in common. And to listen to cable TV is to realize that Americans do not even like one another. If America did not exist as a nation, would these 50 disparate states surrender their sovereignty and independence to enter such a union as the United States of 2012?
 
Nor are we unique in sensing that we are no longer one. Scotland, Catalonia and Flanders maneuver to break free of the nations that contain their peoples. All over the world, peoples are disaggregating along the lines of creed, culture, tribe and faith.
 
What has this to do with the election of 2012? Everything.
 
For if America is to endure as a nation, her peoples are going to need the freedom to live differently and the space to live apart, according to their irreconcilable beliefs. Yet should Barack Obama win, the centralization of power and control will continue beyond the point of no return.
 
His replacement of any retiring Supreme Court justice with another judicial activist — a Sonia Sotomayor, an Elena Kagan — would negate a half-century of conservative labors and mean that abortion on demand — like slavery, a moral abomination to scores of millions — is forever law in all 50 states.
 
President Obama speaks now of a budget deal in which Democrats agree to $2.50 in spending cuts if the Republicans agree to $1 in tax increases. But given the character of his party — for whom Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, food stamps, Head Start, earned income tax credits and Pell Grants are holy icons — any deal Obama cuts with Republicans in return for higher taxes will be like the deal Ronald Reagan eternally regretted.
 
The tax hikes become permanent; the budget cuts are never made.
 
In the first debate, Mitt Romney said that in crafting a budget that consumes a fourth of the economy, he would ask one question: “Is the program so critical that it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?”
 
If a President Romney held to that rule, it would spell an end to any new wars of choice and all foreign aid and grants to global redistributionsts — such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It would entail a review of all U.S. alliances dating back to the Cold War, which have U.S. troops on every continent and in a hundred countries.
 
Obama offers more of the stalemate America has gone through for the past two years.
 
Romney alone offers a possibility of hope and change.
 
Published with permission of the author. Copyright 2012, Creators.com

Why Obama Chose to Let Them Die in Benghazi By Karin McQuillan

November 2, 2012

Why Obama Chose to Let Them Die in Benghazi

By Karin McQuillan

The burning question is why Obama didn’t give orders to defend our consulate and American lives in Benghazi.  The answer is becoming clearer each time President Obama and Secretary of Defense Panetta issue a denial or explanation of their inaction. 

To the president’s surprise, he chanced on an honest reporter during a local interview on the campaign trail in Denver.  On October 26, for the first time, Obama was asked directly about the explosive reports on CBS and Fox News, a week earlier, that the CIA and our military denied direct requests for help by the Americans fighting for their lives during the seven-hour battle in Benghazi.

Denver TV’s Kyle Clark twice tried to pin Obama down by asking the key question: “Were they denied requests for help during the attack?”

Obama’s answer is the proof of his guilt, and it gives us a clue as to the doctrine informing his decision to do nothing.  The most damaging part of Obama’s evasive answer is this:

… the minute I found out what was happening, I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. … I guarantee you that everyone in the state department, our military, the CIA, you name it, had number-one priority making sure that people were safe.

This is the blatant lie that condemns the liar.  The president says here that immediately, “the minute I found out what was happening,” he gave the order to the military, the CIA, to everyone, to secure our personnel in Benghazi and do “whatever we need to.”

Yet the undeniable fact is that nothing was done.  We know that the CIA security agent in Benghazi, Tyrone Woods, asked for permission to rescue Ambassador Stevens when Stevens was still alive and in the safe room.  Woods was told twice by the CIA to stand down.  He then disobeyed direct orders and rescued the survivors at the consulate, but it was too late for Stevens and Sean Smith.

Secretary of Defense Panetta tells us the military had gunships and Special Forces less than two hours away in Sicily but felt it was too “risky” to send in reinforcements or air cover.  It would have been normal military procedure to pre-position air cover and assets from Sicily to Benghazi, but Panetta says this was not done.  The air support and FAST platoons, we are told, were left in Sicily.  All the U.S. military did was send two unarmed drones to observe the battle.

So if President Obama is not lying about his directives, he is saying that the CIA and the Defense Department and our military chain of command disobeyed the direct order of our commander in chief to do everything in their power to rescue our people under attack in Benghazi.  And that as commander in chief, Obama did nothing in response to their dereliction of duty.

That doesn’t happen.  No one believes that; the president is lying.  He did not issue directives to the CIA, our military, and State to “secure our personnel” and “do whatever we need to do.”

We know it was not the CIA on its own that made the decision to abandon Ambassador Stevens and the eight others with him in the consulate.  The CIA say they did not advise anyone in the administration to deny help to the Americans in Benghazi.  A CIA spokesman on October 27 issued this statement:

No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate.

General Carter F. Ham, the combatant commander of Africa Command (AFRICOM), says he was never asked to send help

Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican, said that General Ham told him during a visit to Libya that he had never been asked to provide military support for the Americans under attack in Benghazi.

On October 18, General Ham resigned. 

Panetta explained why no help was sent on October 26, the same day Obama was telling the Denver reporter he had ordered the military to do “whatever we need to.”

Panetta admitted we did nothing.  He says the military had the readiness and capability to help.  He says the military responded quickly and deployed forces close to Benghazi, ready and capable of responding “to any contingency.”

We quickly responded, as General Dempsey said, in terms of deploying forces to the region.  We had FAST platoons in the region. We had ships that we had deployed off of Libya. We were prepared to respond to any contingency and certainly had forces in place to do that.

Panetta then tells us why the forces were never deployed.  He says the top leadership of our military didn’t want to send reinforcements, even air support, into harm’s way.  It was too risky.  Panetta does not indicate that he knew of Obama’s supposed directives to do “whatever we need to” to save the Americans trapped in the 9/11 attack. 

“[The] basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on; without having some real-time information about what’s taking place,” Panetta told Pentagon reporters. “And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, Gen. Ham, Gen. Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.

Note that General Ham had already told Congressman Chaffetz he was never asked to provide military support. 

Panetta’s statement that we didn’t have enough intelligence to risk sending air or combat support is not credible.  We had real-time information by video, radio, and e-mail.  We had laser targets painted on their mortar nest.  When else do you send reinforcements, if not into dangerous situations? 

Max Boot writes in Commentary:

Special Operations Forces and other military forces are used to acting on incomplete information, especially in a situation where Americans are under fire and in danger of being overrun. At that point, caution is normally thrown to the wind, and Quick Reaction Forces are launched.

We certainly could have saved the lives of CIA agents Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty if  President Obama had given orders to do so.  There were two drones and perhaps a gunship overhead.  The two men died because they painted laser targets on the jihadi mortar nests.  They were radioing for air cover, expecting that the target would be bombed and the jihadi attack ended.  This is what Navy SEALs do.  We have learned from experts that American Special Forces paint such laser targets only when air cover is immediately available, as it gives away your position to the enemy.  According to these experts, Woods and Doherty must have believed that air cover was immediately available.  Their calls for air support went unanswered, and they died.

If there weren’t a manned drone and a gunship sent out — it was now six hours into the battle — that indicates that Obama and Panetta did not direct the military to be ready to intervene if necessary.  If the drone was sent unarmed and the gunship never sent, it says the military never intended to help under any circumstances. 

Bing West, a distinguished combat correspondent and former assistant secretary of defense, has produced a timeline of the Benghazi attacks, which went on for most of the night, suggesting there was plenty of time for substantial U.S. forces to scramble from the U.S. base at Sigonella, Sicily, located almost exactly as far away from Benghazi as the Libyan capital of Tripoli, from whence a small, ill-armed quick-reaction force of 22 men was finally sent. “Stationed at Sigonella,” he notes, “were Special Operations Forces, transport aircraft, and attack aircraft – a much more formidable force than 22 men from the embassy.”

President Obama says, “I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to.”  It is clear that he did not issue such a directive, or else the CIA and the military defied him.

Why would our president not come to the defense of our consulate under attack?  This is an attack on American soil.  This was a 9/11 attack by an al-Qaeda branch in Libya.  Therein lies the answer.

Obama does not believe in using the military to defend our national security, which he sees as aggressive, Republican, and cowboy.  This was Obama’s 9/11, not Bush’s.  He did not see the attack on our embassy as a jihadi attack on American soil.  He saw a group of aggrieved Muslim citizens, with good reason to be angry — the spontaneous mob enraged by an offensive video.  He would follow a Democrat policy of promoting peace, not war, in which avoiding civilian casualties is the paramount goal. 

The other answer is directly political.  It would be damaging for Obama’s already weak record to admit that there was a 9/11 attack by al-Qaeda in one of the supposed successes of the Arab Spring.  Responding militarily would have made the weaknesses of Obama’s foreign policy all too evident.  An American military response would have undercut one of Obama’s main campaign slogans: “GM is alive and Osama is dead.”

Treating Benghazi as a spontaneous mob attack inflamed by an offensive, Islamophobic video was a flimsy story, but the liberal media was quite willing to accept it without question.  Our politically corrupt media not only went along with that nonsense, but so crucified Romney for daring to comment on what happened that Romney shut up.  The story of the offensive video played to Obama’s progressive base, which believes that there is no war on terror — just bad behavior by bigoted Americans that causes Muslims to attack us.

Obama’s ideology blinded him to the need to defend American lives under al-Qaeda attack on 9/11/12.  He put his ideology and his politics ahead of Americans lives.  He let four brave men serving our country fight without help and die. 

This decision will doom Obama’s chances of re-election if widely known.  That is why our politically corrupt media is censoring this news as hard as it can.  They do not want the majority of Americans to know.  But they cannot keep the lid on.  It is too big, and too awful.  The only question is one of time before Election Day.

 

 

Cardinal Dolan on the US Election, the Radical Abortion License, Religious Liberty, Marriage, Debt and Solidarity

Cardinal Dolan on the US Election, the Radical Abortion License, Religious Liberty, Marriage, Debt and Solidarity

 

By Deacon Keith Fournier

10/7/2012

I am bothered that we are losing sight of voting as an exercise in moral judgment, in which certain priority issues-especially the life issues,

I am concerned about a culture that has become increasingly callous about the radical abortion license, and a legal system that affords more protection to endangered species of plants and animals than to unborn babies; that considers pregnancy a disease; that interprets “comprehensive health care” in such a way that it may be used to threaten the life of the baby in the womb (and, it should be noted, to exclude the undocumented immigrant as well).

 

NEW YORK, NY (Catholic Online) – On the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, one day before he headed for Rome to participate in the historic Synod on the New Evangelization, Cardinal Timothy Dolan authored another outstanding column. It was one in a series he regularly pens for the “Catholic New York”. The series is entitled “Lord, to Whom Shall We Go” and the article, entitled “Cherished Saint Brought Christ to World Around Him”, can be read in its entirety here

Our readers should be well aware of the leadership of this great Cardinal of the Church and the esteem with which he is held by this author. I write regularly about his courage and the clarity which he has brought to the leadership of the Conference of Bishops in the United States at this critical time in our history. You can click here to read the most recent of numerous articles I have written about the Cardinal Archbishop of New York. I have written many more and plan to continue the practice. He is one great gift to both Church and Nation.

However, though I share the Cardinal’s appreciation for St. Francis, the little poor man of Assisi, I was concerned that the title of the Cardinal’s recent column, dedicated to and written on the Feast of Francis, as well as its placement, might limit its readership. That would be tragic. The instruction and insights this column offers on the exercise of our faithful citizenship is simply too important! The concerns which the Cardinal shares must become the material out of which we approach this election and our own exercise of voting.

I offer below a portion of the Cardinals recent article for your serious and prayerful reflection as November 6, 2012 draws near.

*****
Timothy Cardinal Dolan

“Those Americans who have faith in God, and in His Son, Jesus, and venerate saints such as Francis, also find themselves in the middle of the world, and cherish our freedom to bring the teaching of Jesus, which we hear both in the Good News proclaimed in the Bible and in the life of Francis, to the public square and political process.”

“We’ve certainly been reminded of that these past 10 months, which have seen the religious community in the United States engaged in a major conflict with the administration over the first freedom-religious liberty, our “first and most cherished freedom.” I am deeply grateful to the Catholic people of the United States, to my brother bishops and priests, to men and women of all faiths or none at all, for accepting this challenge, and for rising to the defense of religious liberty in full.”

“In that defense, we stand for every man and woman of conscience; we seek no special favors, but we insist that the inalienable rights of religion be respected and honored in law and federal regulatory practice.”

“In the document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” published by the bishops of the United States, we are reminded that, “In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation. This obligation is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do.” And so, as I leave for Rome, I want to share with you some of the concerns that I will bring with me to the tombs of the apostles, SS. Peter and Paul, and to Assisi, the town of St. Francis.”

“I am concerned about a culture that has become increasingly callous about the radical abortion license, and a legal system that affords more protection to endangered species of plants and animals than to unborn babies; that considers pregnancy a disease; that interprets “comprehensive health care” in such a way that it may be used to threaten the life of the baby in the womb (and, it should be noted, to exclude the undocumented immigrant as well).”

“I am concerned as well for the infirm and elderly who are nearing the end of life, that they will not be treated with the respect, dignity and compassion that is their due, but instead be encouraged to seek a hasty death before they can become, according to some, “a burden to society.”

“I am worried that we may be reducing religious freedom to a kind of privacy right to recreational activities, reducing the practice of religion to a Sabbath hobby, instead of a force that should guide our public actions, as Michelle Obama recently noted, Monday through Friday.

“I am bothered by the prospect of this generation leaving a mountain of unpayable debt to its children and grandchildren, whose economic futures will be blighted by the amounts of the federal budget absorbed by debt service.”

“I am anxious that calls for a fiscally responsible society are met with claims that those calls come from men and women who don’t care about the poor; that we may be tempted to write off the underprivileged as problems to be solved, or as budget woes, rather than treating them with respect and dignity as people with potential and creativity; that we’re at times more willing to cut programs to help the sick, our elders, the hungry and homeless, than expenditures on Drone missiles.

“I am concerned that our elections increasingly resemble reality TV shows rather than exercises in serious democratic conversation.”

“I am bothered that we are losing sight of voting as an exercise in moral judgment, in which certain priority issues-especially the life issues, with the protection of unborn life being the premier civil rights issue of the day-must weigh heavily on our consciences as we make our political decisions”.
“I am worried by attempts to redefine marriage, and to label as “bigots” those who uphold the traditional, God-given definition of marriage.”

“I am anxious that we cannot seem to have a rational debate over immigration policy, and that we cannot find a way to combine America’s splendid tradition of hospitality to the stranger with respect for the rule of law, always treating the immigrant as a child of God, and never purposefully dividing a family”.

“I am worried about the persecution of people of faith around the world, especially with the hatred of Christians on a perilous incline; and the preference for violent attacks upon innocents instead of dialogue as the path to world peace.”

“I expect that many of you share these concerns. In the words of “Faithful Citizenship,” how we should respond is clear. The document says, “Our focus is not on party affiliation, ideology, economics, or even competence and capacity to perform duties, as important as such issues are. Rather, we focus on what protects or threatens human life and dignity.”

“As you consider these concerns, I will be praying for you in Rome that the humble, joyful Poverello of Assisi intercede for us, and that Mary Immaculate, patroness of the United States and Star of the New Evangelization, will inspire in us wisdom, prudence, and courage.”
– – –

Pope Benedict XVI’s Prayer Intentions for October 2012:

General Intention:New Evangelization. That the New Evangelization may progress in the oldest Christian countries.

Missionary Intention:World Mission Day.  That the celebration of World Mission Day may result in a renewed commitment to evangelization.

Keywords: Timothy Dolan,Cardinal Dolan,Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Faithful Citizenship, Catholic Vote, abortion, marriage, family, debt, solidarity, Romney, Ryan, Obama, Biden, Deacon Keith Fournier

1,200 pastors to flout IRS regulations, speak out on politics from the pulpit Sunday by Susanna Rose

1,200 pastors to flout IRS regulations, speak out on politics from the pulpit Sunday

by Susanna Rose

October 3, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Over 1,200 pastors from across the country have signed up to challenge IRS regulations that threaten churches with the loss of their tax-exempt status if they wade into politics by participating in Pulpit Freedom Sunday this Sunday, October 7. The event, associated with the Pulpit Initiative, is being held by the Alliance Defending Freedom. 

Despite IRS regulations forbidding 501c3 organizations from endorsing political candidates, pastors participating in the event are encouraged to give biblical perspectives on topics relating to the election such as abortion and gay “marriage” from the pulpit, and then to mail these sermons to the IRS.

 Pastors will be represented from all 50 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.  Thirty-three pastors participated in the first Pulpit Freedom Sunday in 2008 and since then the numbers have skyrocketed. 

Pastors of America are “not instructing people about how the bible applies to the national life of the voting electorate,” says Pastor Jim Garlow in a video about Pulpit Freedom Sunday featured at iPledgeSunday, an event held last month by the Family Research Council in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Garlow, who has been involved in the event since its inception, is the pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego, California.

Garlow notes that 40 years ago, everyone would have agreed that abortion is wrong and kills a baby inside the womb.  Ten years ago, no one would have argued that marriage is anything but between one man and one woman.  But now, says Garlow, when pastors speak out on these issues, their congregations say, “Pastor, you’re being too political.”

The IRS regulation in question, known as the Johnson Amendment, has become a popular tool of activist groups, who routinely threaten pastors who speak up on political issues with the loss of their tax exempt status. Recently one leftist organization, Americans United, sent 60,000 letters to churches nationwide urging them not to endorse political candidates this election season.

President Lyndon B. Johnson was responsible for submitting the Johnson Amendment in 1954.

In a statement on the website for the event, Alliance Defending Freedom explains, “The goal of Pulpit Freedom Sunday is simple: have the Johnson Amendment declared unconstitutional – and once and for all remove the ability of the IRS to censor what a pastor says from the pulpit.”

“Pastors should decide what they preach from the pulpit, not the IRS,” said Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley.

Garlow says, “We will not see the spiritual awakening we all long for until the pulpit is unfettered and unmuzzled.”

For more information about Pulpit Freedom Sunday, go to http://www.pulpitfreedom.org

Obama Contra Ecclesia by John Barnes

Obama Contra Ecclesia

by John Barnes
February 23, 2012

 
As the federal government draws ever nearer to the precipice of insolvency, the ability of the powers-that-be to purchase political support in an election year becomes increasingly difficult. Instead, our rulers look to the “freebies” — policy moves that, while far-reaching, cost the public treasury little (at least directly or immediately). This is just as true at the state level as it is the federal. In my home state of Washington, past overspending and a sour economy have left ruling Democrats a state budget situation no one envies. Too many pigs and not enough teats, as Lincoln would say. Instead of energizing their base by expanding entitlement spending or pouring more money into the failing K-12 system, Democrats made redefining marriage their primary legislative goal for 2012.

Likewise, President Obama decided that access to contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization is the most pressing problem facing the country right now. His administration announced earlier this year that all employers will be forced to provide insurance coverage for the aforementioned “health” services, free of charge. The exemption for religious groups is so narrow that most institutions who find such things morally objectionable will still have to comply.These moves also serve as a distraction. Note that contraception, not Obama’s abysmal budget proposal (which is chock full of accounting gimmicks and would bring the country even closer to financial collapse), dominates the national political debate currently. Back here in Washington, the headlines and fanfare surrounding state benediction of homosexual coupling kept folks’ attention away from the reality that the Democrats have no real answers to structural spending problems, underfunded public employee pensions, crumbling transportation infrastructure, a lagging economy, etc.

Given the Catholic Church’s steadfast opposition to the services it will be forced to pay for, the bishops are at the forefront of outcry against Obama’s mandate. Every single bishop has, in some way, voiced opposition. Certainly it’s refreshing to see such outcry, though as they say in marketing, it all depends on your target audience. If the bishops are aiming their statements at their flocks, the more revealing tally would be the number of Catholics who don’t much care what the bishops have to say about anything of moral gravity, particularly below the waist.

If, on the other hand, the bishops’ statements are aimed at putting political pressure on Obama, the outlook isn’t much more promising. Obama is many things, but uncalculating isn’t one of them. He’s gambling the mandate won’t cost him significant political support, and with good reason. The polling cross-tabs are on his side for now, as Gallup found recently. Pace Pat Buchanan, but his fantasy of the bishops declaring to Obama that every pastor will read a denunciation from the pulpit two weeks before the election is wishful thinking at best (however, those for whom climate change is the most pressing issue can take heart — the bishops have asked for collective action on that). A friend raised a valid point:

I have to admit that it strikes me as very odd that a rule mandating Catholic institutions, through their health insurers, offer free contraceptives to their employees is what would spark a row between the U.S. bishops and the Obama Administration. The reason I find it odd is because the coverage that the Department of Health and Human Services is seeking to require is already provided by many of the affected Catholic institutions. … This brings up the uncomfortable question about why, when we are remonstrating so vigorously against the mandate, are so many Catholic institutions given a free pass by the bishops?

Early on in this brouhaha, I took flack for suggesting that Obama’s mandate most likely won’t result in a massive exodus of Catholics from Pharaoh’s city. More than a few good folks reminded me that “it’s about conscience, not contraception.” Yes and no.

True, the fundamental issues at hand are conscience protection and the free exercise of religion. But I’m not convinced that’s how most U.S. Catholics will view this in the long run. Humans have a penchant for focusing on symptoms rather than the disease, and contemporary culture is disastrously myopic in all directions. Our only interest in the future is looting it to bribe the present, while our grasp of history and heritage lessens with every high school commencement. We don’t even look at today with sufficient depth to grasp the seriousness of the issues before us. Insofar as the average Catholic considers Obama’s mandate, I suspect it will be from the standpoint of what he’s forcing rather than his right to force it. Since large numbers of Catholics use contraception and sterilization, it’s difficult to imagine this becoming a watershed issue.

Moreover, Catholics, like a lot of Americans, have grown frighteningly comfortable with a very powerful state. The last few years provide examples of unprecedented government overreach — Obama’s mandate that every citizen purchase health insurance, his law allowing the government to indefinitely detain citizens without trial, or the Transportation Security Administration’s free hand (no pun intended) to fondle and x-ray us in airports. Will a population largely accustomed to an intrusive state find yet another coercive intrusion problematic in and of itself?

Admittedly, my conclusions are colored by my experience as a Catholic immersed in politics and public policy in the Pacific Northwest. Not without reason do we call this the pagan Northwest. The culture is uniquely secular, a fact I wasn’t able to appreciate until I lived elsewhere in the country. Washington and Oregon are, after all, the only two states where your Hippocratic-bound physician can legally help you commit suicide. But the secularism doesn’t stop at the vestibule. The mandate hoopla has been going on for a while now and I’ve heard disturbingly little from my parish. My pastor discussed it briefly and vaguely at one point, referring us to an insert in the bulletin. We have a saying in media relations: Friday is where press releases go to die. Likewise in the Catholic Church, bulletins are where announcements go to die. Credit is due to the new archbishop, who has utilized Catholic radio and the archdiocesan newspaper to inform and fire-up the flock with a fervor seldom seen from Washington’s episcopate, but in reality these mediums don’t reach many ears or eyes. And coming back to my original point, my archbishop’s message is falling upon a people not likely to be moved en masse on this issue. This was also a problem when the bishops here tried to motivate Catholics to fight redefining marriage. The measure sailed through the state legislature, and all the while I didn’t hear a peep from my parish.

As is the case elsewhere, the Washington State Catholic Conference appears more concerned with lobbying to maintain and expand social assistance programs than fend off assaults on the Church and the culture. So while many Church leaders are tip-toeing around “sensitive” issues for fear of offending the more squeamish of the flock, the Church’s lobbyists and social service functionaries are climbing farther in bed with a government that wants to silence and neuter it.

What’s more, few of my pewmates are talking about the marriage issue or Obama’s mandate. Most local Catholics I know, and most Catholics I’ve met who supported Obama in 2008, are more concerned with the struggles of everyday life than they are about issues of conscience protection or the legal definition of marriage, which can seem removed or academic. Much more tangible to them are basic questions of survival — how am I going to feed my family if the shop closes, how will I keep my home, pay the doctor bills, what am I going to do when unemployment benefits run out next month, or what am I going to do since the invisible hand wiped out my 401(k)?

Is my homeland a microcosm of the rest of the nation? For your sakes, and for more than a few reasons, I pray not. Solzhenitsyn reminded us that the line between good and evil runs not between polities but right down the middle of every human heart. The secularism, apathy and poor formation rampant here are problems elsewhere, but scenes such as a Wisconsin congregation giving its bishop a standing ovation upon news of his vociferous opposition to Obama’s mandate are encouraging. Still, I suspect that is the exception rather than the rule.

Another important question worth pondering: What role Will Obama’s ultimate opponent play in peeling away his Catholic supporters soured by the mandate? Mitt Romney’s feet-in-mouth comments that indicate an apparent aloofness to the plight of the poor don’t exactly endear him to left-leaning Catholics for whom social justice (read: wealth redistribution) is a priority. Likewise, Rick Santorum’s enthusiasm for overseas military adventures and “enhanced interrogation” techniques are just a couple features of a candidacy self-described “progressive” Catholics find downright frightening. As for Gingrich, well, let’s just say I don’t imbibe enough to consider him viable. Whichever Ringling Brother emerges from the GOP nominating circus, it’s difficult to see any of them being a major draw for Catholics who feel spurned by the president.

While I believe it was dangerously naive to think Obama’s mandate (or something like it) wasn’t coming down the pike, this isn’t about finger-pointing or “I told you so.” This isn’t even a prediction — attempting to predict the future in politics is more futile than trying to contain the Kennedy’s pelvic proclivities. Besides, in graduate school a professor warned us that historians are the worst prophets. This is about making sure we confront a terrible reality: The culture of death is playing to win. Even Catholic Obamaphile Michael Sean Winters, a darling of the “religious left,” is starting to realize this:

I confess I no longer understand Obama. He did not go to the mat to end the Bush tax cuts for the super-rich. He did not go to the mat for comprehensive immigration reform. He did not go to the mat to close Guantanamo Bay. He did not go to the mat for Card Check. He did not go to the mat for a public option in the health care reform. But, he went to the mat over the principle that a Catholic college or charity or hospital is not really religious.

We’ve grown too comfortable with the quiet atrocities decimating western Christendom. Francis Cardinal George, a prominent member of the U.S. episcopate, remarked recently, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” From our comfortable, convenient lives, it’s easy to forget that if you peel back the thin veneer of civilization, a seething cauldron of ugliness and anger stirs underneath. I experienced this firsthand as a Dominican brother with several thousand folks in the West Coast Walk for Like a few years back. Never before had I heard such vitriol thrown at me as when the pro-abortion demonstrators caught sight of my habit. Obama’s mandate is but a dressed-up, sanitized, bureaucratically sanctioned extension of that brutal reality.

Can Catholics — and all Americans committed to religious liberty and rights of conscience — unite and win this fight? Let us pray so. Blessed Pope John XXIII reminded us that, in spite of the gathering darkness, Christ has not abandoned the world he redeemed. But we fool ourselves if we think this a purely political battle and therefore place our hope in salvation by political action. If Catholics put a fraction of the time and resources into building a genuine culture of life that many have put into politics and lobbying, I suspect we wouldn’t be in such a pickle today. Politics, law, and government are the products of culture, yet too many “conservative” folks have it the other way around, and think we can transform and renew our civilization by passing laws and electing the right leaders. They — and, at times, all of us — forget one of history’s chief lessons: The kingdom will not change until the people do.

Clearly, there’s much work to be done.

We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty

We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty

 

The president of the USCCB also had strong words for Democratic minority leader, Nancy Pelosi

Timothy Cardinal Dolan

Speaking on the theme of “Let Religious Freedom Ring”, Cardinal Dolan noted that “freedom of religion has been the driving force of almost every enlightened, un-shackling, noble cause in American history. Thus, the defense of religious freedom is not some evangelical Christian polemic, or wiley strategy of discredited Catholic bishops, but the quintessential American cause, the first line in the defense of and protection of human rights,” he said.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Zenit.org) – On Monday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of NewYork and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) delivered the Fall Lecture for the The John Carroll Society, an organization within the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., that “promotes the enhancement of spiritual, intellectual and social fellowship among its members.”

Speaking on the theme of “Let Religious Freedom Ring”, Cardinal Dolan noted that “freedom of religion has been the driving force of almost every enlightened, un-shackling, noble cause in American history.”

“Thus, the defense of religious freedom is not some evangelical Christian polemic, or wiley strategy of discredited Catholic bishops, but the quintessential American cause, the first line in the defense of and protection of human rights,” he said.

The archbishop of New York went on to discuss various events of American history that underlined the value of religious freedom. He cited each event as “exhibits” in his case to prove that “religious freedom in American history has hardly been the cause of chilling, repressive, retrograde movements, but of the most liberating, ennobling ones.”

Drawing upon examples of heroism on the part of religious leaders during the American Revolution, as well as, several notable abolitionists whose stance against slavery came from a conscience formed by faith, Cardinal Dolan went onto explain how the religious convictions of notable persons within history supported, and directly caused progressive changes within the United States.

Citing historical scholar Dan McKanan, the cardinal explained that as a result of women’s role during the abolitionist movement, “the slow-but-steady advancement of women’s equality, was also a religiously animated reform movement.”

“This is good reminder, since, today, those who criticize the churches’ mobilization in defense of religious freedom often slyly muddy it with ‘war on women’ slogans,” he said.

Other historical events the cardinal said were influenced by religious freedom were the Reform Movement of the 19th century, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Peace Movement of the ’60s.

Cardinal Dolan went on to speak of the HHS mandate as a direct threat to religious freedom. The Health and Human Services (HHS) federal mandate in question would require employers of religious institutions to pay for insurance that provides abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization procedures to employees.

“Thus, to say it again, the wide ecumenical and inter-religious outrage over the HHS mandate is not about its coverage of chemical contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs — in spite of the well-oiled mantra from our opponents — but upon the raw presumption of a bureau of the federal government to define a church’s minister, ministry, message, and meaning,” he said.

The president of the USCCB also had strong words for Democratic minority leader, Nancy Pelosi. The former speaker of the House, who is also Catholic, stated last year that the Catholic Church needed “to get over their conscience thing” regarding abortion and contraception.

“No, we don’t; no, we can’t; as believers, as Americans,” he exclaimed.

Cardinal Dolan concluded his lecture, reiterating that the only freedom that the Church desires is “the freedom to carry the convictions of a faith-formed conscience into our public lives.”

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FULL TEXT CAN BE READ HERE

Why Blame Obama? by Randall Hoven

 
 September 4, 2012

Why Blame Obama?

By Randall Hoven

Let me count the ways.

Before inauguration.  Senator Obama voted for the budgets he would later blame on Bush, and for the TARP bailout.  After just two months of TARP, the Bush administration said it was done — crisis averted.  In fact, President Bush was done after using about $270 billion of the $350 B that was authorized by Congress.  But as a courtesy to the incoming president, Bush would request the second $350B from Congress if President-Elect Obama asked for it.

President-Elect Obama asked for it, and he got it.  Tim Geithner, who could not do his own taxes and who, as a regulator, did nothing about the Libor scandal, would have all $700B to play with.

We usually call TARP a “bank bailout,” but the banks are paying back every cent lent to them.  In fact, the part of TARP that went to banks is expected to return $3B to taxpayers.  And most of that was paid back quickly.  The “cost” of the “bank bailout” was less than zero!

The real bailouts.  When the dust clears, the CBO expects TARP to cost taxpayers $32B.  Who got that money if banks didn’t?  General Motors, Chrysler, and “mortgage programs.”  But GM and Chrysler went bankrupt anyway.

The U.S. auto industry was not “saved.”  Going bankrupt does not have to mean going out of business.  See, for example, Delta Airlines.  It went bankrupt in the usual, lawful way and is operating today.  On the other hand, GM could be heading into bankruptcy again, post-bailout.  Oh, and since the bailout, “GM has increased its manufacturing capacity in China by 55 percent.”

The government auto takeovers did not prevent bankruptcies.  What they prevented was the usual rule of bankruptcy law.  Instead of paying back creditors in a predictable and lawful way, the federal government simply robbed bondholders and non-UAW workers and retirees (especially at Delphi) and delivered sweet, sweet payback to the union bosses of the UAW.

The effect goes beyond the direct costs to taxpayers and specific investors and employees.  Who would make investments or long-term decisions with this kind of rule-of-man uncertainty and ascendant cronyism?

The Stimulus.  Obama sold the stimulus this way: it would keep the unemployment rate from going above 8%, the jobs were shovel-ready, and it would cost $787B.

Since the Stimulus was passed three and half years ago, the unemployment rate has not gone below 8%.  President Obama himself said, “Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.”  And the Congressional Budget Office “estimates that the legislation will increase budget deficits by about $831 billion over the 2009-2019 period.”  The stimulus stimulated nothing but our debt problem.

Spending overall.  Obama requested $350B of TARP before his inauguration.  Within weeks of inauguration, his $831-B “Stimulus” was passed.  And within days of that, he signed a $410-B Omnibus spending bill.

The Omnibus bill and much of the Stimulus and TARP spending occurred in FY 2009, a year that Democrats always try to pin on Bush.  Every dime spent in both FY 2008 and FY 2009 was due to budgets written by a Democrat-led Congress.  And President Obama reigned for the majority of FY 2009.  Democrats own FY 2009.

The result was that federal government spending shot up like a rocket in 2009, to levels unprecedented in peacetime, and stayed there.  In every year of Obama’s four years in office, federal spending was above 24% of GDP.  Prior to Obama, it had not reached that level in even one year since World War II.

Compare federal spending in Obama’s first four years to the four years that just preceded them: Obama’s 24.4% of GDP compared to Bush’s 20.1% of GDP.  In today’s dollars, that is almost $700B — every year.

Mitt Romney gets grief from Democrats for having the goal of limiting federal spending to 20% of GDP.  That simply means going back to the pre-Obama years, not the pre-FDR years.  Bill Clinton spent less than 20% of GDP.  George W. Bush spent less than 20% of GDP.  (Eight-year averages.)  Why is it considered some kind of impossible dream?

Obama did not let the financial crisis go to waste.  He permanently grew the federal government under the guise of addressing a short-term problem.

Taxing.  Obama gets a bit of a bad rap on taxes.  Outside ObamaCare (discussed below), he hasn’t really raised taxes.  OK, he raised the cigarette tax his first month in office.  And he’s always wanting to raise taxes on “the rich,” but he hasn’t pulled that off just yet.  In fact, he’s generally cut taxes.  But look at the way he does that.

Remember the big tax fight at the end of 2010, when Republicans simply wanted to keep the Bush tax rates in place?  The Republican plan was scored as adding $544B to the 10-year deficit since those rates were scheduled to increase.  Democrats, being so concerned about deficits suddenly, argued that that was too much.  They wanted to let tax rates increase on higher incomes.

So here’s how they all compromised: they kept all those tax rates in place and added yet more tax cuts to make the total bill $858B.  The “compromise” was bigger deficits than either party originally proposed.  Here were the tax cuts and credits added by Democrats.  (By the way, a “credit” is considered a “tax cut” even if you had no taxes to cut and the government sent you a check.)

  • Unemployment insurance,
  • Earned income tax credit,
  • American opportunity tax credit,
  • Child tax credit,
  • Payroll tax,
  • Investment incentives,
  • Ethanol and alternative fuels credits.

Let me tell you all the ways that was bad.

(1) These extra cuts and credits increased the deficit — even more than simply doing what the Republicans had asked for, 60% more.

(2) When the goal should be to simplify the tax code, these made it incredibly more complex.

(3) When the goal should be to reduce the progressivity of the most progressive tax system in the developed world, these made it more progressive.

(4) These cuts and credits were “targeted” rather than broad-based.  Politicians picked who the winners and losers were.

(5) The U.S. tax code became a temporary, two-years-at-a-time, made-up-as-we-go-along system.  No one can make long-term financial decisions (investing, buying a house, hiring) based on the U.S. tax system.

(6) The changes did absolutely nothing to address the fact that the U.S. has the highest corporate tax in the developed world, which incentivizes U.S. businesses to move and hire overseas.

(7) The payroll tax cuts put the already shaky entitlements of Social Security and Medicare in even more precarious positions.

In 2007, the Bush tax rates managed to raise 18.5% of GDP, above the 1960-2000 average of 18.2%.  With all the tax-tinkering in the last four years, federal revenues have stayed below 16% of GDP — the lowest levels since 1950.  (That might be a good thing, if we weren’t spending at the highest levels since 1946.)

More complex, more progressive, more anti-growth, more fiscally irresponsible, and less predictable.  Everything you want in a tax system, right?

Debt.  All you need to know about the federal debt and Obama’s plan to deal with it is contained in this chart from his own FY 2013 budget.

Look at that chart in parts. The left part is through 2007. Once we paid down our World War II debt, it never exceeded 50% of GDP.  And when Republicans took over the House of Representatives in 1994, for the first time in 40 years, they brought that debt down from 49% of GDP to 36% of GDP in 2007.

Then Democrats won both the House and Senate.  Democrats wrote the budgets for FY 2008 and ’09, and then maintained those gains with continuing resolutions ever since (not real budgets).  From 2007 to 2012, federal debt held by the public more than doubled as a fraction of GDP!  See that sharp rise up in the chart in those years?

In those few years under Obama, we blasted through the 50% threshold we had kept for over half a century.  Then, only one year later, we blasted through the Maastricht threshold of 60%.  Our public debt is now over 70% of GDP.

Over half a century of reasonably responsible fiscal policy was wiped out in one president’s term.

Now look at the chart and see what comes after 2012.  First is a little one-decade flat period manufactured by Timothy Geithner’s outlandish assumptions like real GDP growth over 4% from 2014 through 2017.  After Geithner’s make-believe 10-year window, we’re off to the races.  Our public debt goes through all levels seen by Spain, Greece, etc. and, in fact, off to infinity.  It never even levels off, much less declines.

And this is Obama’s plan.  This chart is the best his guys could come up with, even making all the bogus assumptions they could possibly invent.  His “plan” is little more than running up the most expensive restaurant bill in history and then skipping out on the check.

ObamaCare.  The CBO now estimates the gross cost of ObamaCare over the next 11 years (2012-2022) as $1,683B.  That is offset by various penalties and taxes of $515B, for a “net cost” of $1,168B.

So why does the CBO say that ObamaCare would reduce the deficit and repealing it would increase the deficit?  Because Obamacare also cuts $711B from Medicare and raises yet more taxes by $569B over the ten years of 2013-2022.

In round numbers (because the time periods don’t match exactly), ObamaCare really costs about $1.7 trillion, but it also raises taxes by about $1.1 trillion (oops, I guess Obama did raise taxes), and it cuts Medicare over $700 billion.  The CBO says.

Even if you believe the numbers, it is a massive increase in spending, a massive increase in taxes, and a massive cut to Medicare.  But I don’t believe the numbers.  Costs will go up, the revenues won’t show up, and Medicare will hobble through with various accounting gimmicks and IPAB dictates.  It expands entitlements at the very time we can’t afford the entitlements we already have.

Energy and regulation.  You might think the above litany would be enough.  But Obama wasn’t finished.

  • He killed the Keystone pipeline.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce put that at “more than 250,000 permanent jobs in the long run” that were killed.
  • He put a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf (19,000 jobs), restricted Gulf drilling overall, and outright banned drilling in the eastern Gulf for 7 years (230,000 jobs).
  • And of course, no drilling in ANWR or offshore on the east or west coasts.  But Obama is not against offshore drilling everywhere; he provided $2B in loans to Brazil to drill offshore there.
  • The Government Accountability Office estimates that new EPA regulations will result in two to twelve percent of coal plants being closed.
  • Obama is not against all energy companies — just those that actually produce energy.  You might have heard of Solyndra, a solar-panel company that received over $500 million in government funding, then went bankrupt.  Other government-funded “green” companies that went bankrupt: Evergreen Solar, SpectraWatt, Mountain Plaza, and Olsen’s Mills.  Obama has the reverse-Midas touch when it comes to green energy.  (Or maybe it has to do with his “green jobs czar” being a self-described communist.)
  • If your child was having an asthma attack and you found yourself without an inhaler (they’re not called breathalyzers), you could have made a quick trip to the local drug store and got one over-the-counter.  Not anymore.  Now you will need a prescription, and it might not work as well.
  • And of course, “pro-choice” Democrats are not so pro-choice when it comes to light bulbs.
  • Business regulations too numerous to mention: the EPA’s climate change regulations, OSHA’s “occupational noise” regulation, the EPA’s new ozone regulations, Dodd-Frank, the EPA’s training requirements for renovation projects, etc.

Question for the reader: if you were to pivot and focus on jobs like a laser, would you flood the country with new job-killing regulations as fast as your czars could create them?

I close with a quote.

“If the president loses in 2012, we will lose too, and the country will once again be in the hands of rightwing extremism. There is no option to the left of President Obama.” –Sam Webb, chair of the Communist Party USA, addressing the party in 2010.

Randall Hoven can be followed on Twitter.

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