Friday, December 7, 2012

December 7, 2012

DeMint Move Ignites Talk of 2016 Presidential Run
by David A. Patten
December 6, 2012

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint’s surprise announcement that he will leave the U.S. Senate in January to take over leadership of the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank has ignited speculation among grass-roots conservatives that DeMint may use the new post as a launching pad for a presidential bid in 2016.

“Jim DeMint will have a bigger microphone than before,” conservative direct-marketing pioneer Richard Viguerie tells Newsmax. “If he wants to, this opens up a lot more opportunities for him. I think there’s a decent chance that he’ll be a serious presidential candidate in four years.”

Viguerie called the move to Heritage “an intermediate step.”

“It’s going to be a boon to the cause, to Heritage,” he said. “And it gives [DeMint] a major opportunity to run for president in four years. And if so, he would be the instant front-runner among most conservatives.”

DeMint already had effectively term-limited himself by announcing he would not seek another six years in the Senate. When GOP hopes of seizing control of the Senate were dashed in November, he was looking at four more years of life as a back-bencher, with relatively little influence over legislation passed by the upper chamber.

But now, grass-roots sources tell Newsmax, the prospect of a DeMint-for-president campaign is creating significant buzz among movement conservatives.

“I was totally shocked,” Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer tells Newsmax. “When I saw the news Thursday morning, tears welled up in my eyes.

“He is our rock in the United States Senate,” she adds. “But at the same time, I know Jim DeMint, and he is not going anywhere. I have always thought he would make a great president, and I have always thought he should make a run. …I think this is probably a step in that direction, and I hope it is. Because he’s not just a senator, he’s a statesman.”

In part, DeMint has at times contributed to that speculation. In November, in an interview with McClatchy Newspapers, he backed off his previous, unequivocal insistence that he had no interest in running for president.

Nor is this the first time DeMint’s name has been linked to Oval Office aspirations. In March 2011, he addressed a conference of conservatives in Iowa. That trip to the first GOP caucus state triggered widespread speculation that he might be considering tossing his hat in the ring. DeMint quickly squelched those rumors, however.

Thursday evening, DeMint was asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer if he would have stayed in the Senate had GOP standard-bearer Mitt Romney won the presidency. Had Romney won, any path for DeMint to run in 2016 would likely have vanished.

“I would have thought differently about it,” DeMint confessed. “But I told [outgoing Heritage chief] Ed [Feulner] four years ago, half-jokingly, that when people ask me to run for president, I said, ‘The only president I want to be is president of the Heritage Foundation. Because they’re about ideas, and their ideas are backed up by solid research. And the thing that breaks my heart is [that] as Republicans we’re not doing a good job of convincing Americans that we care about every one of them, and that our policies are going to make their lives better.’”

Shortly after the announcement that he would be taking over the Heritage Foundation, DeMint said that he felt he would be more influential in the national debate at Heritage than in the Senate.

Citing his marketing background and private-sector experience prior to coming to Washington, DeMint said: “A lot of my role in the Senate has been stopping bad things and saying no to bad things. But we need to do more than that, and tell Americans what we’re for.

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"Political Games" From Whom?
by Carol Platt Liebau 
December 6, 2012

The White House has effectively conceded that the President's "plan" (note the sarcastic scare quotes) for avoiding the fiscal cliff cannot even pass the US Senate, which is controlled by Democrats.

“We don’t have 60 votes in the Senate,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said, adding the White House was “very confident” that Democrats support the principles outlined in Obama’s plan.

Please.  Not only does the Obama plan not have the sixty votes required to overcome a filibuster, it doesn't even have the fifty-one votes it would need to pass (note that Senator McConnell promised a floor vote, meaning that Republicans would agree to a straight up-or-down vote).  And the Democrats' refusal to vote on it reveals just how unpopular it is -- if Democrats thought the President's plan would be popular in anything besides the vaguest outlines (what passes in Washington for "principle"), the Democrats would quickly vote on it and force the Republicans to sustain an unpopular filibuster.  The truth is that even the Democrats don't support it -- and they don't want to be on the record one way or the other.

But hey, just for the record, this isn't the first time the US Senate has effectively rejected the President's budgetary policies.  After all, senators voted down his proposed 2013 budget 99-0; his 2012 budget fell on a 97-0 vote.

In any case, as anyone knows, it isn't that hard to agree in "principle" if the "principles" are abstract enough.  No doubt 100% of Congress would agree with the principle that we ought to "do what's best for the American people" -- the tough part of leadership is in the details . . . the part the President regularly outsources to Congress.  So much for leadership.

So there's no small irony here when Jay Carney accuses Republicans of playing "political games that aren't serious."

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It's Nothing But a Power Play
by Charles Krauthammer
December 6, 2012

Let’s understand President Obama’s strategy in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations. It has nothing to do with economics or real fiscal reform. This is entirely about politics. It’s Phase 2 of the 2012 campaign. The election returned him to office. The fiscal cliff negotiations are designed to break the Republican opposition and grant him political supremacy, something he thinks he earned with his landslide 2.8-point victory margin on Election Day.

This is why he sent Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to the Republicans to convey not a negotiating offer but a demand for unconditional surrender. House Speaker John Boehner had made a peace offering of $800 billion in new revenue. Geithner pocketed Boehner’s $800 billion, doubled it to $1.6 trillion, offered risible cuts that in 2013 would actually be exceeded by new stimulus spending and then demanded that Congress turn over to the president all power over the debt ceiling.

Boehner was stunned. Mitch McConnell laughed out loud. In nobler days, they’d have offered Geithner a pistol and an early-morning appointment at Weehawken. Alas, Boehner gave again, coming back a week later with spending-cut suggestions — as demanded by Geithner — only to have them dismissed with a wave of the hand.

What’s going on here? Having taken Boehner’s sword, and then his shirt, Obama sent Geithner to demand Boehner’s trousers. Perhaps this is what Obama means by a balanced approach.

He pretends that Boehner’s offer to raise revenue by eliminating deductions rather than by raising rates is fiscally impossible.

But on July 22, 2011, Obama had said that “$1.2 trillion in additional revenues . . . could be accomplished without hiking tax rates, but could simply be accomplished by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions and engaging in a tax reform process.” Which is exactly what the Republicans are offering today.

You’ve heard of situational ethics. This is situational mathematics.

As for the alleged curative effect on debt of Obama’s tax-rate demand — the full rate hike on the “rich” would have reduced the 2012 deficit from $1.10 trillion to $1.02 trillion.

That’s a joke, a rounding error.

Such nonsense abounds because Obama’s objective in these negotiations is not economic but political: not to solve the debt crisis but to fracture the Republican majority in the House. Get Boehner to cave, pass the tax hike with Democratic votes provided by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and let the Republican civil war begin.

It doesn’t even matter whether Boehner gets deposed as speaker. Either way, the Republican House would be neutered, giving Obama a free hand to dominate Washington and fashion the entitlement state of his liking.

This is partisan zero-sum politics. Nothing more. Obama has never shown interest in genuine debt reduction. He does nothing for two years, then spends the next two ignoring his own debt-reduction commission. In less than four years, he has increased U.S. public debt by a staggering 83 percent. As a percentage of gross domestic product, the real marker of national solvency, it has spiked from 45 percent to 70 percent.

Obama has never once publicly suggested a structural cut in entitlements. On the contrary, he created an entirely new entitlement — Obamacare — that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will increase spending by $1.7 trillion over 11 years.

What’s he thinking? Doesn’t Obama see looming ahead the real economic cliff — a European-like collapse under the burden of unsustainable debt? Perhaps, but he wants to complete his avowedly transformational social-democratic agenda first and let his successors — likely Republican — act as tax collectors on the middle class (where the real money is) and takers of subsidies from the mouths of babes.

Or possibly Obama will get fiscal religion and undertake tax and entitlement reform in his second term — but only after having destroyed the Republican opposition so that he can carry out the reformation on his own ideological terms.

What should Republicans do? Stop giving stuff away. If Obama remains intransigent, let him be the one to take us over the cliff. And then let the new House, which is sworn in weeks before the president, immediately introduce and pass a full across-the-board restoration of the George W. Bush tax cuts.

Obama will counter with the usual all-but-the-rich tax cut — as the markets gyrate and the economy begins to wobble under his feet.

Result? We’re back to square one, but with a more level playing field. The risk to Obama will be rising and the debt ceiling will be looming. Most important of all, however, Republicans will still be in possession of their unity, their self-respect — and their trousers.

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