Sunday, December 9, 2012

December 9, 2012

Shock Therapy for Obama's Super-Sized Gov't
by Robert Robb
December 7, 2012

I’ve been having irresponsible thoughts. Or at least I’ve been thinking more favorably about something I have previously denounced as irresponsible: not increasing the federal debt limit.

There is no good end in sight for the non-negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff. And the impasse goes far deeper than the question that preoccupies the public discussion about whether to increase the tax rates on the affluent.

The tax rate issue is a matter of firmly-held principle and important political symbology on both sides. But it’s not the heart of the impasse.

According to President Obama’s own budget staff, increasing the top two rates to 36 percent and 39.6 percent would only raise $442 billion over ten years, or only about a fifth of the $1.6 trillion in tax increases Obama is demanding.

Obama’s own budget actually proposes to raise significantly more -- $750 billion – through the approach proposed by Republicans in the non-negotiations: limiting the deductions of the affluent. In addition to reinstating the limits that existed prior to the Bush tax cuts, Obama’s budget proposed capping the value of all itemized deductions for the top-two tax rates at 28 percent.

So, as politically important as the rate issue is, resolving it would only reveal an even bigger – and probably irreconcilable – divide. What Obama is really trying to do is to force Republicans to finance – through higher taxes and increased borrowing – the size of the federal government Obama thinks appropriate.

And Obama likes his government supersized. Obama’s budget proposes locking in federal spending at 23 percent of Gross Domestic Product, an unprecedented level since the end of World War II. Obama has proposed no constraints that would bring spending below that level and consistently dismisses as non-starters any such proposals by others.

Obama likes to cite the Clinton economy in support of his positions. But federal spending as a percentage of GDP was just 18 percent at the end of Bill Clinton’s tenure. The difference between Obama-level spending and Clinton-level spending is more than $700 billion a year.

The Simpson-Bowles debt commission recommended that federal spending be brought down to 21 percent of GDP. The difference between Obama-level spending and Simpson-Bowles level spending is around $300 billion a year.

Republicans in the House undoubtedly won’t, and shouldn’t, agree to finance Obama-level spending. After all, they were elected in 2010 to put a brake on Obama’s spending and were returned to power this election.

But where and when to draw the line is substantively and politically dicey. Obama clearly intends to push Republicans to the edge of every cliff – the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and sequestration; maxing out the debt limit – counting on them to blink at the end.

At no point will Republicans have the upper hand politically. But blink each time, and they end up financing Obama-level spending.

So, perhaps it’s time to think about the unthinkable: not increasing the debt limit.

This does not have to mean default. Existing debt can be rolled over under the current limit. Servicing the debt only costs around $250 billion a year, which could be made a priority.

What it would mean is that on-going spending would have to be on a pay-as-you-go basis. Spending would have to be reduced from $3.6 trillion to around $2.8 trillion.

That’s a huge cut. But spending as a percentage of GDP would be close to the 18 percent it was under Clinton. In fact, if the Clinton spending discipline of limiting growth in outlays to around 3 percent a year had been maintained during the profligate presidencies of George W. Bush and Obama, that’s about what the size of the federal budget would be today.

Not increasing the debt ceiling would be shock therapy for the country, with uncertain economic and political ramifications. A more gradual decline in spending as a percentage of GDP, such as proposed in Paul Ryan’s budget or by the Simpson-Bowles commission, would be infinitely preferable and more responsible.

But if the only choices are financing Obama-level spending or shock therapy, then at least some thought has to be given to shock therapy.

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Antinomianism: The Soft Heresy
by Daniel Ciofani
December 9, 2012

The election of 2012 fused principles of state and church demanding Americans follow one distinct path. The country chose to follow a path that is fiscally illogical, covetous of private property, dismissive to personal initiative, mythological towards freedom, repentant to a planet, subjugating of the religious to the secular, deadly to the unborn, disrespectful to the sick and aged, encouraging to the sexually deviant, and destructive to family.

So how could our nation, so strongly and freely steeped in Judeo-Christian principles, have chosen such a path willingly? First, let us quickly address the Judeo portion of our heritage. Quite simply, there used to be twelve tribes of Israel. Now there are but two; Judah and Benjamin (and a sprinkling of Dan). So when and why did the other tribes evaporate? This I will leave to the more learned, but I have a hunch that they weren't doing something right.

Let's focus in on our good Christian friends.There are many makes, models, colors, and flavors of Christianity to freely choose from in our society. After five hundred years of reforming, reshaping, and reshaking Christianity, the truth is that there is not much difference among each of the varieties. Oh sure, on paper or parchment there are fundamental differences, but they are difficult for the average laity to describe without stumbling. Rarer yet are clergy who attempt to describe their branch's differences, for fear of losing half their flock.

This can be interpreted as a good thing, however. After all, Christianity started out as one Faith and the spirit of ecumenism fosters all to become one family again. Perhaps the old passage, "There is one Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism" rings truer than ever. Amidst all the church rules and laws, maybe we can agree with Augustine, "Love, and do what you want!"

So how could a Christian faith so unified with other denominations all across the country vote so consistently to outlaw its own historical and religious values? How could Christianity vote for ideas that run counter to mathematical, logical, civil, moral, and Biblical laws? It's really quite simple. It's not that there aren't enough Christians in the country, for there are plenty. It's because Christians are saved! (Or think they are.) Their prayer, song, and presence in the Lord, made possible through the gift of Salvation, calls them to be exempt from earthly laws. In short, many Christians are practicing a style of Christianity known as Antinomianism. Here is the definition:
an•ti•no•mi•an•ism (noun) 
1. Theology; The doctrine or belief that the Gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law, whether scriptural, civil, or moral. 
2. The belief that moral laws are relative in meaning and application as opposed to fixed or universal.
In case you are wondering, Antinomianism is a Christian heresy. This gentle and soft heresy is popular for many reasons. First, it's very old. The original Antinomians were Gnostics. They believed that Christianity was a secretive and privileged message that only the learned understood. They were the climate-changers of their day. The Gnostics held those who just didn't get it in contempt. With that secret knowledge, you could do whatever you wanted in this life, because the material world was ultimately unimportant. Antinomianism made a return during the Reformation, and Luther had to formally put the heresy in its place. Sure, the Just shall live by Faith. Sure, good works don't get the job done. However; Faith and bad works means all bets are off. Even the Council of Trent made a case for its specific heresy. All Christians get to clearly understand this one: antinomianism is an equal opportunity Salvation destroyer.

Today Antinomianism is alive and well in all churches. We have all met many Antinomians. They are the Christians comfortable with bankrupting the country and confiscating others' property. They are Christians who somehow believe that Salvation has a quota based on skin color. They are the pro-choice Catholics, and the Anglicans who encourage the homosexual clergy. They include the Lutherans who pray long and hard for their church to finally move from Sola Scriptura to Some-a-Scriptura. They are even the Evangelicals who actively await the destructive end, while not even voting to prevent it. They are Saved, so they do whatever they want, even if it's deadly. All of these Christians use their gift of Faith as an escape valve for their own irresponsible moral, religious, and Biblical decisions and public policy.

And so the next time you attend church, ask your spiritual leader if he or she is an Antinomian. Most will say that they'll have to get back to you on this one, while they go and look it up. When they do respond, they'll contend, of course not! You'll then have to ask them to describe one religious law of the faithful, defended strongly by your church in secular society. If your spiritual leader has no response, then you have met another Antinomian. No matter how the conversation goes, it is common practice for all religious leaders to suggest, for the sake of the Church, that you pray on it. In the meantime, for the sake of the Church, the Devil too, will be preying on it.

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Luke 6:46 46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

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