ObamaCare

A Radical Fix for Washington: Have Congress Do Its Job
If Congress performed more of the tasks assigned to it by the Constitution, it also would feel compelled to act more responsibly

ILLUSTRATION: ALEX NABAUM
By Gerald F. Seib
May 17, 2018 11:29 a.m. ET

Here’s a simple yet radical thought on how to fix much of what ails Washington: Have Congress do its job.

When attempting to explain the myriad problems that plague the nation’s capital, people talk of partisanship, polarization and a White House in perpetual chaos—and there’s certainly plenty of all that to go around. Yet every one of those problems is exacerbated by the way Congress has abdicated or shirked its duties.

Maybe, just maybe, if Congress accepted and performed more of the tasks assigned to it by the Constitution, it also would feel compelled to act more responsibly—to find the compromise, to overcome the partisanship, to reach the durable solution. Like the young adult who leaves home and suddenly has to live with the consequences of his or her own actions, it would have to start doing the mature thing.

Instead, we often are living with the opposite. For years, Congress has punted its Constitutional responsibilities down Pennsylvania Avenue to the president. It’s often unable to perform its most basic function, which is to pass spending bills, instead resorting to giant catchall spending measures that nobody has read and that leave the executive branch to fill in many policy blanks. In a similar illustration of its problems, a House crippled by intramural feuding on Friday failed to pass a farm bill, another piece of core legislation.

On problem after problem, in other words, Congress has said in effect, “We’re not responsible”—which only liberates it to act irresponsibly. Continue reading

 

Photo courtesy of Amanda Croy

Colorado’s Gubernatorial Race 2018: The Hot Topics

 | 

Talking Points

The topics that will dominate candidates’ messaging throughout the campaign season.

Growth

It is the best of times…or is it the worst of times? That depends a lot on how you feel about Colorado’s growth. “Normally, the economy would be the highest issue for most voters,” Paul Teske, a dean at CU Denver, says. “There will be a lot of talk about sustaining the boom.” But, adds DU’s Seth Masket: “There are a lot of different areas of the state that are adversely affected by this growth.” Transportation has become a perennial funding battle at the Capitol and could benefit from strong gubernatorial influence (read: political pressure) to make Republicans and Democrats find bipartisan ways forward. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in Colorado is three percent (it was 8.9 percent at the end of 2010), which on its face is great news, but that near-full employment causes woes for companies desperate to fill jobs. Wages—particularly in the metro area—haven’t kept up with cost-of-living expenses, which means that although people are finding work, they may not be able to pay bills. And the biggest expense for many voters is rising housing costs. Mix that all together, and the moment is prime for a gubernatorial candidate to stand out by creating a unique vision for Colorado’s future.

Education

This may seem like a topic that matters most to people who are raising families, but this year, candidates will compel everyone to think about Colorado’s education system (funding here ranks in the bottom third of all states in the country). Which makes sense: Property owners help pay for schools, employers benefit from a well-prepared workforce, and we all want the best for society’s youngsters, right? But how we ensure we have a strong education system is quite a bit more complicated. Magellan Strategies’ David Flaherty says Republican candidates should be talking about education right now and through November. “It’s the one issue we completely give to the Democrats,” Flaherty says. “It’s unfortunate because it’s one of the top two issues for unaffiliated voters.”

Tabor

Conversations about addressing growing pains or giving more money to teachers inevitably evolve into talks about what to do about Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), which limits government spending to match population growth and inflation increases.

Under TABOR, which passed in 1992, leftover revenue is returned to the taxpayers. Proponents herald the limits on government spending; detractors warn that TABOR isn’t robust enough to respond to real-time needs, like shifting populations in schools due to high housing costs.

But Coloradans tend to like the control TABOR gives them: A January 2018 report from the American Politics Research Lab at CU Boulder found that “support among Coloradans outpaces opposition,” with 45 percent of respondents supporting TABOR.

That number has fallen since 2016, and the study notes that more than a quarter of respondents had “uncertainty about a position.” In short, there’s room for candidates to make TABOR the issue of the campaign.

Republican candidates are likely to support working within TABOR’s constraints. Democrats will probably talk more about reform or repeal.

Guns

 

Continue reading

Trump Keeps His Predecessors’ Promises

He’s not the first to argue for tariffs, border security and an embassy move—only the first to deliver.

President Donald Trump at the White House on March 22 shows a presidential memorandum targeting China's economic aggression.
President Donald Trump at the White House on March 22 shows a presidential memorandum targeting China’s economic aggression. PHOTO:ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG

What else could explain the sudden rise of supposedly nativist, protectionist and isolationist forces? Or Mr. Trump’s victory, which the self-proclaimed experts failed to predict? In this case America’s elites are uncharacteristically too humble: They do not give themselves enough credit for the politics they helped create.

Mr. Trump’s populism is the direct result of the establishment’s hypocrisy. He is implementing policies that more-mainstream figures from both political parties have promised for years but then failed to accomplish. In this way, they built the demand for the actions they now denounce as destructive and even racist. Moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, pushing back against China’s unfair trade practices, securing the border—aren’t those are just empty campaign promises? No candidate thinks he can actually get them done, right? Somebody forgot to tell Mr. Trump.

Start with foreign policy. A bipartisan chorus of Washington mandarins complains that the U.S. is retreating from international leadership, creating a void increasingly filled by a rising China. Yet Mr. Trump is simply doing what his predecessors pledged to do. Before 9/11 intervened, George W. Bush promised a “humble” foreign policy and fewer overseas deployments. In 2008, Barack Obama criticized Mr. Bush for being more focused on rebuilding Iraq than America, and he promised to do the reverse. Mr. Obama opposed the Iraq surge, but as president announced his own surge in Afghanistan. Then when President Obama began to draw down troops there, he said America needed to focus on “nation-building here at home.”

Despite the rhetorical flourishes—and Mr. Obama was gifted at those—he was pilloried by the left for leaving residual U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, for selling arms to the Saudis despite their war in Yemen, for ineffectively seeking regime change in Syria and Libya, and for provoking Russia over Ukraine. Mr. Obama’s failures in execution cannot disguise the gap between his campaign rhetoric and reality. The Obama White House continued in a bipartisan tradition of saying America should not be the world’s policeman, then acting as if just the opposite were true.

On trade, Mr. Trump’s plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum, as well as to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, are said to risk a trade war and threaten economic destruction not seen since the Smoot-Hawley tariffs of the 1930s. Yet in 2002, President Bush imposed his own tariffs on steel, though they were temporary and more limited. During the 2008 campaign, Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton both advocated threatening to leave Nafta as a way to negotiate better terms.

Mr. Obama’s campaign subsequently had to fight reports that it had secretly reassured the Canadian government that this was all an electoral ruse. A memo from the Canadian Consulate in Chicago described an Obama adviser as cautioning that the anti-Nafta rhetoric “should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans.”

The campaign insisted that the adviser had been misinterpreted, and no back-channel communication had taken place. Whatever the case, Mr. Obama’s subsequent time in office confirmed the substance. While on the stump he was happy to rail against perennial trade deficits, America’s loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs, and China’s currency manipulation and intellectual property appropriation. But President Obama did nothing much to counter them.

So, too, with Mr. Trump’s signature issue: the border wall and his accompanying rhetoric against illegal immigration. He may have finally discovered the first shovel-ready infrastructure project Democrats do not want to fund. But some kind of barrier on the border has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support or at least acceptance. In 2006, Sens. Obama and Clinton both voted for the Secure Fence Act, which President Bush signed into law. Then in 2013, every Democrat in the Senate voted for a comprehensive immigration reform that included 700 miles of border fencing. Yet today Mr. Trump’s wall is described in near-apocalyptic terms.

The lesson is that rhetoric matters. Establishment politicians have been borrowing nationalist rhetoric to win elections and then maintaining the same old activist foreign policy, free trade and lax immigration enforcement. They have spent years offering cheap talk, with no intention of following through. Now they are shocked that Mr. Trump, an outsider, does not play their sophisticated game.

If they believe in a liberal, multilateral world order, governed by institutions and rules they see as being threatened by Mr. Trump’s ethos of America First, they should make that case—but they should trust voters enough to do it honestly.

Mr. Jindal was governor of Louisiana, 2008-16.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-keeps-his-predecessors-promises-1522792613?mod=djemMER

Last fall, Oprah Winfrey spoke with 14 Michigan voters, seven of whom voted for Donald Trump. Winfrey sat down with the voters again to get their thoughts on Trump’s first year in office Continue reading

The Reagan Club meets on the first Thursday of every month at The Amazing Grace Community Church ( 541 E 99th Pl, Thornton, CO, 80229) from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. with doors open at 6:00 p.m.. We feature different programs and speakers as we honor the 40th President. The Reagan Club of Colorado seeks to promote the Constitution, smaller government, lower taxes, personal freedom, helping candidates, and educating the public about one of our greatest presidents, Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Recent Comments