Monday, April 30, 2012

President Obama's solution for student loans: Make the taxpayers pay them

According to a 2011 quarterly report on household debt and credit, U.S. student loan debt is more than $1 trillion. The report also shows that student loan delinquency exceeds mortgage delinquency and the total debt balance for college loans exceeds credit card and mortgage loan balances.

So what is President Obama suggesting? That students default on their loans and let the taxpayers pay them off instead. His recently announced program requires taxpayers to pay off all remaining student loans for those students who have not paid their loans off within 20 years. Talk about an incentive to just walk away from a loan obligation. Once again, this administration is emphasizing the lesson that the government will simply take care of everything (even though it's the taxpayer who pays for it).

Of course, the government is also playing a role in causing the problems that need to be taken care of. Because colleges' spending is as out of control as Washington D.C.'s, they rely on the government to issue student loans to fund their spending habits. In turn, because the government is handing out student loans like candy, colleges know they can keep raising tuition costs to fund their spending. And who gets caught in the middle? Well, basically the student who graduates thousands and thousands of dollars in debt. But when loans are defaulted upon, the taxpayer is left holding the bill.

There is already a high default rate on student loans, and with the recent Associated Press survey finding that one out of two college graduates can't find jobs at all or at least not a job at the level they had hoped for, that default rate will surely rise. Add to it the President's basic invitation for students to walk away from their loans, and we have a potential disaster on our hands that will make the housing bubble look like kids' play.

But in his attempt to buy the youth vote (especially since there has been an 18-point drop in youth support for him), Obama is out stumping for his own reelection by terrifying kids that the interest rates on student loans is set to double come July. He is doing his best to stress to these potential youth votes that their financial situation is dire, and only the government can swoop in and save the day.

Conveniently, the issue is perfectly timed for the President's reelection campaign because a 2007 measure to temporarily reduce student loan rates to 3.4% is set to expire in July, hence the doubling interest rates to 6.8%. Obama wants to extend the current rate. Republicans are in the unenviable position of having to point out that an extension will hurt the taxpayer. Even the Congressional Budge Office estimates that a one-year extension of the current 3.4% rate for subsidized Stafford loans would cost $6 billion.

John P. Kline Jr., (Minnesota - R), Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, agreed that extending the low rate would be costly. “We must now choose between allowing interest rates to rise or piling billions of dollars on the backs of taxpayers,” he said. “I have serious concerns about any proposal that simply kicks the can down the road and creates more uncertainty in the long run — which is what put us in this situation in the first place.”

But rather than discuss how the issue is more complex than merely extending the current rate, the President is joyfully using it as a political weapon against Republicans to score campaign votes. And by refusing to address what actually helped lead to the crushing student loan/debt problem in the first place (out of control spending by colleges and reckless loan issuance by the government) the President is pointing fingers and using emotional tactics in hopes of terrifying or angering young voters into giving him another term.

It'll be interesting to see if the 50 percent of graduates who can't find jobs, yet are saddled with enormous debt, will fall for the President's rhetoric, or realize he has done nothing to fix the problems we face. Maybe if there were jobs available, graduates could actually honor their loan obligations. But why would the President discuss obvious problems like unemployment when, as usual, he offers no real solution for fixing anything?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

U.S. Senator: Let's do away with the Judicial Branch of government

As the Supreme Court reviews the immigration law case in Arizona, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is worried that the High Court might rule in favor of Arizona's SB 1070, which requires police to check the status of people they suspect are in the U.S. illegally with probable causes, and to arrest those they consider eligible to be deported. But Schumer is allaying his own concerns by saying that if the Court does uphold SB 1070, he'll simply introduce a bill that would go around the Supreme Court by banning states from passing laws on immigration. In other words, who needs the Judicial Branch of government anymore? We'll just bypass its decisions. For that matter, so much for states' rights as well.

"States like Arizona and Alabama will no longer be able to get away with saying they are simply helping the federal government to enforce the law when they are really writing their own laws and knowingly deploying untrained officers with a mission of arresting anyone and everyone who might fit the preconceived profile of an illegal immigrant," Schumer said at a subcommittee hearing.

First of all, the sole reason Arizona felt the need to draft this legislation is because the federal government itself is failing to enforce its own rules on illegal immigration, leaving Arizona to fend for itself against the high costs and crimes associated with illegal immigration in that state.

Second, SB 1070 was drafted to be consistent with federal law. In other words, it doesn't add anything to the existing federal law. It simply enables Arizona authorities to comply with the federal law that the federal government itself is failing to enforce.

Finally, SB 1070 does not allow anyone to be questioned solely on their perceived ethnicity. Authorities can only detain someone if they are committing established infractions (e.g., speeding, reckless driving, etc.) and only if the alleged perpetrators cannot produce proper identification can authorities then pursue their immigration status.

But none of this matters to Senator Schumer. He doesn't want states to have the right to protect themselves from illegal immigration, and if the Supreme Court sides with Arizona, he'll find a way to get his way.

Considering Schumer is the same person who stated that our three branches of government are "the House, the Senate and the President", it's not surprising that he's unaware of our real system of checks and balances created by the Legislative, Executive and the Judicial branches of government.

He's also probably not aware that his efforts to bypass the Supreme Court are unconstitutional. And yes, that does matter.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

President signs bill that makes protest a potential felony

By recently signing into law HR 347 (the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act), President Obama effectively gave federal agents power to arrest and bring felony charges against citizens engaged in protests anywhere the Secret Service is present. Nicknamed the "Trespass Bill", HR 347 narrows significantly the parameters regarding where citizens are allowed to be when on-duty Secret Service agents are present to protect the President or other government officials.

Thanks to Bill Clinton's Presidential Decision Directive 62 in 1998, U.S. presidents were granted the authority to classify any event they choose as a "National Special Security Event" (NSSE) - meaning Secret Service protection is required, thereby making the event a restricted one. NSSE classification has vastly expanded to include a wide range of public events such as Superbowl games, presidential conventions, WTO and G-8 summits, the Academy Awards, and so on.

Under HR 347, what this means essentially is that American citizens who have used the First Amendment to peacefully assemble, hold protests and publicly express their views as an important form of direct citizen action are no longer allowed to be in the very areas their protests might most likely be heard. But if they assemble there anyway, they can be tossed in prison for up to ten years.

HR 347 accomplishes this not by actually creating new crimes, but merely by making one slight change in language to an existing trespass law from 1971. But the change is significant and is what makes HR 347 so dangerous. The original law states that a person must enter a restricted area  “knowingly” and “willfully”, placing the burden of proof on the government to prove a citizen's intentions. HR 347 removes "willfully", thereby placing the burden of proof on the citizen.

As Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan), who voted against HR 347, put it, "Current law makes it illegal to enter or remain in an area where certain government officials, more particularly, those with Secret Service protection, will be visiting temporarily if and only if the person knows it's illegal to enter the restricted area but does so anyway. The bill expands current law to make it a crime to enter or remain in an area where an official is visiting even if the person does not know it's illegal to be in that area and has no reason to suspect it's illegal."

Since the President can designate any event he wishes as one requiring Secret Service protection, and because HR 347 imposes a real threat of arrest to citizens, this conveniently separates the President from the public and isolates him from questions, complaints and other forms of legitimate protests allowed under the First Amendment. Under HR 347, citizens merely in the presence of the President can now be charged with a felony for the simple act of voicing a concern or holding a sign he doesn't want to see. While the President may claim HR 347 simply adds a layer of security, since when did posters and chants constitute danger?

The real danger here is that our own government is working not to improve America, but to silence her citizens from their free speech rights. That's a threat that deserves resounding protests, but where would an American be able to make his protests meaningfully heard without being arrested? Once again our Constitution is being assaulted, while U.S. citizens are further marginalized and silenced.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

"War on women" is really a war on the individual

We've been hearing a lot lately about the supposed "war on women" that Republicans are waging against women. The left claims it is so because Republicans believe nobody should be forced to pay for contraception, abortion or other such actions that go against an individual's religious beliefs. The left is saying this means Republicans want to deny women access to healthcare. As the left would have you believe,  Republicans hate women and want us to just live miserable lives of endless suffering. Either that's true, or the left knows that accusing Republicans of this hatred will help them win support for the November election. My money's on the latter.

The real casualty in this war is not women - it's common sense - and ultimately the individual. If you peruse any of the many Internet chat areas discussing the issue, it is astounding the type of arguments being put forth by the left claiming that this Republican hatred of women is true. Here are a couple gems:

In response to a New England state's recent passage of House bills banning tax-funded Planned Parenthood and offering employers exemptions from paying for contraception/abortifacient coverage, one reader said, "Your desire to impose your religious beliefs on others is not freedom. Because someone does not follow your religious beliefs does not make them unworthy of respect. I respect your rights to believe whatever you want to cannot however impose your beliefs on others."

Here's another: "Abortion is a legal procedure, and the choice of having one is up to the woman and has nothing to do with you."

Sorry, but once you force me to help pay for a woman's abortion, it has everything to do with me. And, by the way, not wanting to pay for the abortion is not forcing religious beliefs on anyone. Though the left claims we are forcing our beliefs on others - and that's not okay with them -- apparently it is okay to force people to go against their religious beliefs by making them pay for private, elective decisions that violate their values. 

Not wanting to pay for actions deemed evil is not the same as taking away a woman's right to abortion or contraception. She can still get all the abortions or contraception she wants. But the left is complaining that some people don't wish to partake in paying for certain actions (and like bullies, the left is trying to force them to pay anyway). 

If this really is about respect and fairness toward women, then why should my right to not pay for someone's abortion or contraception not be respected? Is it only a certain group of women who deserve respect? I am not forcing my beliefs on anyone. But the left is forcing its views on me and forcing me to partake in actions I want nothing to do with. How is that fair and where's the common sense in that? As a woman, as an American, I am highly offended that the left is trying to make this a war on women, when it is actually a war on the individual and his or her freedom of conscience -- and that is an infinitely more serious battle.

Casting women as victims of a false misogyny in an attempt to maintain political control over America's destiny is a shameless tactic, but typical of the left.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Despite Obama's claims, Reagan's tax policies were nothing like his

President Obama is hinging his reelection hopes on the uninformed. He knows he can't invoke the truth to sell his campaign because the truth shows his policies harm America, so he must resort to outright lies. Such is the case with his recent claims that President Ronald Reagan would support what has come to be known as the "Buffet rule" -- a suggestion by Warren Buffet that those ultra wealthy who make money off their own money should pay higher capital gains tax rates (not income tax rates) - which currently sit at 15%. 

Not wanting to squander an opportunity to twist the truth if it can serve him personally, Obama has been happily stating that Reagan would support this notion because Reagan once said in a 1985 speech that everyone should pay their fair share in taxes. What Obama leaves out is that Reagan was suggesting this as part of a larger call for tax reform, one that closed loopholes so all workers could keep more of their own money.

But the "whole truth and nothing but the truth" does not apply to Obama. He's running with an out-of-context part of Reagan's speech to pump up support for raising taxes on the "wealthy", ostensibly to reduce debt, but really to "redistribute the wealth." To make his socialist plan more palatable to the public, he's even saying the Buffet Rule should be renamed the "Reagan rule if that would make it a little easier for Republicans to bear." Of course, in order for this to fly, he must count on people being ignorant of the truth.

First, Ronald Reagan's view on taxation was the complete opposite of Obama's. The current President wants to further stifle the economy by increasing taxes on the wealthy. Reagan cut the top tax rate on the rich from 70% to 28%. Though Reagan did raise taxes while in office, in net terms he lowered taxes - and Reagan's tax "hikes" were out of compromise in pursuit of structural reform that could benefit all taxpayers, as opposed to Obama's use of taxation as a punitive measure against the productive.

The gist of it is, President Reagan wanted a flat tax of 15%, but Democrat Dick Gephardt insisted on at least two tax rates, the higher of which was 28%. That's what became law as Reagan compromised to lower the tax rates from the 70% high. Also in the compromise was Dick Gephardt's insistence that the wealthy would have 50% of their social security payments taxed. "Wealthy" was defined to be a couple earning $32,000 annually or a single person earning $25,000 per year. 

In the Reagan speech Obama is hijacking for his own purposes, he left out the part where Reagan said, "Lower, flatter tax rates will give Americans more confidence in the future. It’ll mean if you work overtime or get a raise or a promotion or if you have a small business and are able to turn a profit, more of that extra income will end up where it belongs - in your wallets, not in Uncle Sam's pockets."

When have you ever heard Obama encourage people to work harder or champion their right to keep more money in their pockets? Instead, he just makes false promises that if the rich would only pay even more, it will somehow benefit the average worker. It's nothing but smoke and mirrors from a president who wants us to to believe that the productive and successful are hurting our economy rather than Obama's own miserable policies.

This is why Obama counts on most people not knowing that under his current regulations (including ObamaCare) and the spending and taxation initiatives outlined in his budget, that income taxes are set to rise 20%, capital gains taxes are going up 60%, taxes on dividends are approaching 100% increases, the death tax has been resurrected, and medicare payroll taxes are going up 62%. This is in addition to the corporate tax rate currently in place, which is already the highest rate in the world. While Obama is not suggesting raising it, he certainly isn't making calls to lower it. And now he wants to incorporate the "Buffet Rule" to raise taxes even higher on the upper income people and hide behind Reagan's name to sell it. 

Even with all these tax hikes, it is estimated that only about $4-5 billion a year will be raised over the next 10 years, which is less than 1% of the trillions that Obama plans to spend. So call it what you will - wealth redistribution, the Buffet Rule, or whatnot, Obama's insane tax hikes would do nothing to help reduce debt or put "more money in our pockets", but they will do everything to hurt the economy in his effort to turn us into the biggest socialist country in the world. 

Obama relies on the fact that the average person knows only what the mainstream media disclose - which isn't much - so he figures nobody will know that he's completely lying about Reagan's support and that he'll get away with it. What's worse is the average uninformed person has been brainwashed to think that the wealthy should be punished for being wealthy - that they should pay their "fair share", when in truth, as a percentage, the top earners pay the most in taxes, while the bottom 49% of wage earners pay no income tax at all. 

Meanwhile, all these rate increases, regulation costs and soaring energy prices won't hurt the wealthy - they will hurt the average person trying to find or hold onto a job at a company that can no longer afford to do business in America, and must send its resources elsewhere -- like China, which has actually lowered its tax rates. When companies can no longer sustain their businesses here because of astronomical taxes, spending and regulations, how does that help the average person? It doesn't. It's just more tricks, lies and deceptions from the most dishonest, un-presidential president our country has ever had. 

Simply put, Obama is lying about Reagan's views on taxation and the uninformed will believe him because the mainstream media will support him -- and these are the people Obama's counting on in November.

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Redefining the presidency: bullying counts, facts don't

President Obama may have gone too far with his own rhetoric this week when he took on the Supreme Court. In what seemed like a challenge to the High Court for just the possibility that it might strike down ObamaCare as being unconstitutional, the President intoned, “Ultimately I am confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.” He added, “I am confident that this will be upheld because it should be upheld.”

In response, a three-judge panel for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals told the Department of Justice that it has until today to explain whether the Obama administration actually believes the Court has the right to strike down a federal law. In a stipulation that sort of reminds you of high school English class, one judge insisted the paper must be "three pages, single space."

The high school feel of this kind of fits considering that Obama's claim that the Supreme Court has never overturned a federal law is as inaccurate as how an unprepared high school student might answer the same question on a basic history test. The correct answer is that the Supreme Court has overturned more than 150 federal laws. In fact that's the Court's job - to determine the constitutionality of legislation that comes up for such review.

Obama's assertion that ObamaCare was passed by a strong majority is also wrong. It passed the House with a 219-212 vote, including 34 Democrats who voted against it. That's hardly a sweeping victory.

The President then tried to imply the Supreme Court would be guilty of judicial activism should it overturn ObamaCare when he said, "And I‘d just remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law."

Obama's reference to "unelected officials" is interesting since he himself has appointed many unelected people to positions of power in his own administration - whether it be panels to determine if the elderly's treatment under Medicare is cost-effective, or the number of czars he has hand-picked. It's almost shocking that this president would even refer to any unelected official in a way that casts doubt on their authority considering he has given tremendous authority to just that type of person. Then again, nothing about this man is shocking except for the fact there are still people who support him.

But reminding the Supreme Court justices that they are unelected and, therefore, somehow not worthy of sound decision making, is disrespectful of the High Court. It also confuses judicial activism with the Court's rightful task of judicial review. A self-proclaimed homosexual federal judge overturning more than five million votes to uphold traditional marriage in California - after the state Supreme Court ruled to uphold it - smacks more of judicial activism based on personal views than it demonstrates judicial review. The U.S. Supreme Court's considering ObamaCare's constitutionality is exactly what it should be doing: judicial review - and it is certainly not unprecedented.

But rather than admit he made a factual mistake with his "unprecedented" comment and moving on, Obama is hoping we'll believe White House press secretary Jay Carney's claim that we all just misunderstood what Obama meant by that. According to Carney, Obama was merely referring to the precedent set for cases on the commerce clause, not Supreme Court cases in general. Please. Even the overturn of commerce clause cases is not unprecedented.

Obama meant exactly what he said. He just didn't count on the backlash and so now must back pedal. Why else would he say what he said other than to try to exert pressure on the U.S. Supreme Court to see things his way?

Judging by the challenges he has thrown down in so many areas - like states' rights (e.g., suing Arizona for trying to obey federal immigration law), oil and coal companies (e.g., when he promised his cap & trade initiatives would, by design, bankrupt the coal industry), the Catholic church (e.g., the HHS mandate on contraception coverage), the Defense of Marriage Act (e.g., claiming the DoJ would no longer defend it), women and babies (has defunded the Texas Women's Health Program because it blocks abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood; supports letting babies who survive abortions to be denied life-saving treatment), etc., - it's probably not a big surprise that Obama is now turning his ire on the Supreme Court. It's just one more step toward his attempt to re-frame the presidency as nothing more than a personal bully pulpit.

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