So, what actually came of the 'shellacking' of 2010?
By Frank Salvato
We were so full of "hope" for "change." No, I am not talking about the election of Barack Obama, one of the most effective Progressive presidents in American history. I am speaking of the excitement felt within the Conservative, Libertarian and Center Right and Left political communities after the 2010 election delivered the House and a non-filibuster proof Senate to the American people. Finally, most of us thought, some balance in the federal government. Maybe, just maybe, the Progressives and Liberal Democrats in federal government would be forced to the ingenuous table of true and honest compromise; compromise fitting of a truly free people. But, as we look back over the year, what did we really get for all that so-called "compromise?"
With Republicans in control of the US House of Representatives, the body where – by the mandate of the US Constitution – all legislation relating to revenue is to begin, many on the Right and in the Center believed that the reckless and spendthrift fiscal actions of the 111th Congress would be constrained if not reversed. With a sizable number of new members identifying with the oft demonized TEA Party, there was high hope for a glimmer of fiscal sanity to emerge from the halls of Congress. And while the TEA Party members of Congress are to be congratulated for doing exactly what their constituents sent them to Washington to do, in the end, they were thwarted by establishment, inside the beltway Republicans and the despotic obstructionism foisted upon them by Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, D-NV, (to be fair, Reid was aided by a less than reform-minded Republican leadership in the senate, led by Mitch McConnell, R-KY).
In absolute defiance of the fact that it is law that Congress must pass an annual budget for the federal government, Senate Democrats – once again, led by the indignant political disgrace that is Harry Reid – refused to abide by said law in passing, reconciling and advancing to the President an annual budget. It has been over 900 days – over two years – since the last budget has been presented to the President for his signature or veto.
Of this, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL, Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, wrote:
They went on to call Reid's obstructionist tactics "a national disgrace," and they couldn't be more correct.
Debt & Deficit
On this date back in 2008, as we were approaching the catastrophe that would be the "historic election" of someone who was, arguably, the most ill-prepared person in the history of our nation to the presidency of the United States, the US National Debt stood at approximately $10.7 trillion. Our federal budget deficit was at almost $500 billion and our Gross Debt to GDP Ratio was at 75.361 percent. We weren't in the greatest financial shape and the horizon had some ominous clouds heading our way in the form of a mortgage meltdown that led to a significant recession, which led to a financial markets crisis, all of which put the world – the entire world – on the brink of financial calamity.
Today, three years later, President Obama and his financial gurus – otherwise known as the Manson Family of financial ineptitude – tell us we are "on the mend," we have "turned the corner," – even as unemployment remains around 9 percent on average, but that there is "a lot more work to do" and that we should allow him four more years to complete his work toward righting the ship of state – or, as the aware see all too well, his "transformation of the United States of America." But what have his efforts achieved?
As it stands today, the US National Debt is $15.1trillion. Our federal budget deficit is $1.3 trillion and our Gross Debt to GDP Ratio is 100.480 percent. An even more relevant number – in light of all the "fixing" that Mr. Obama, Mr. Reid and Ms. Pelosi have been doing – is the US Unfunded Liabilities, you know, the total the government is committed to paying out for all those nanny state entitlements, including Medicare, Social Security, Prescription Drug Benefits and, now, Obamacare. The Unfunded Liabilities held by the US federal government is a stunning $117.011 trillion. I'm going to write the full number out so you can see it, accurate to extent that the lower numbers are rolling so incredibly fast I can only be relevant to the billions digits: $117,011,381,000,000 and climbing.
Last Tuesday it was announced that President Obama will ask for a third increase of the debt ceiling limit this year, raising that limit to $16.394 trillion.
Boards, Agencies & Departments
With the seating of the 112th Congress, we all held the hope that some of the more activist federal boards, agencies and departments would at least have their funding scrutinized and perhaps adjusted so that the Progressive activists and special interest cronies seated to their leadership would be restrained from ruling roughshod over the American private sector through President Obama's favorite tool: legislation via regulation. But that financial leash failed to appear.
The Boeing Corporation felt the sting of the National Labor Relations Board when it fell victim to a labor union friendly lawsuit, filed by the NLRB, which sought to interfere with the construction of a new plant in South Carolina; a plant that promises to create thousands of new jobs. The lawsuit was later dropped only because Boeing, in juxtaposition to what was a sound financial business decision to move to a right-to-work State (South Carolina) from a State that rolled over to union largess (Washington), acquiesced to keeping the Washington plant open.
Striking fear and promoting uncertainty in the American business community – you know, the sector that actually creates jobs – the Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to "expand" its authority and reach, transforming the EPA into what its administrator, Lisa Jackson, says will be an agency that is more "anticipatory" in its approach to environmental issues, broadening "its focus" – or regulatory reach – to include both social and economic as well as environmental "pillars."
The vehicle for this transformation comes in the form of a $700,000 study the agency commissioned last year from the National Academies of Science. Its aim: how to use existing laws to new ends.
The EPA announced on December 21st, new national standards to cut air pollutants from power plants, a regulation that will force older facilities to close – costing thousands of people their jobs, or clean up – costing consumers more in passed on costs.
The Department of Health & Human Services, under Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, disregarding the fact that the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare) is set to be heard for its constitutionality by the US Supreme Court later this year, has moved forward with its implementation of the entitlement program. In HHS's implementation, Sec. Sebelius has issued over 1,800 waivers to the health insurance law, mostly to Progressive and labor union friendly businesses
HHS did, however, thwart the plans of another agency, the Food & Drug Administration, to lift a controversial age limit and make Plan B One-Step – or "the morning after pill," the nation's first over-the-counter emergency contraceptive, available for purchase by people of any age without a prescription.
And while there was hope that controlling the purse strings in Washington would affect Mr. Obama's dismal foreign policy record by, perhaps, scrutinizing the funding of myriad UN agency programs enveloped in graft and corruption; by questioning the allocation of funds by USAID to pro-Islamist entities in the Middle East; and by examining the distribution of foreign aid to countries, including China, Mr. Obama's foreign policy agenda has been left unscathed, for the most part.
And we see the fruits of Mr. Obama's global handiwork across the globe.
In the reckless pursuit of "hope and change," international style, the pro-democracy agenda, started administrations ago, was given a dose of steroids, only to see leader after leader in the Middle East and North Africa toppled, replaced by fundamentalist – and in some cases violent – Islamist factions. In location after location, from Egypt to Libya, from Syria to Tunisia, we are witnessing the rise of organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda sympathetic factions to the seats of power, threatening a regional war for influence between the Sunni and the Shi'ite; the Shi'ites championed by an about-to-be nuclear capable Iran, another nefarious facilitation labeled an "accomplishment."
And while it is true that US Navy Seal Team VI took out "Geronimo" – albeit not a stone's throw away from Pakistan's "West Point," it can hardly be attributed to the "extended open hand of peace" that Mr. Obama said US foreign policy in the Middle East would be under his administration. Conversely, it was the continuation and, even, the escalation of former President George W. Bush's "War on Terror" strategies that found Osama bin Laden with an extra hole in his head.
But, perhaps the biggest foreign policy disappointment – and one where Congress held significant influence to affect a positive outcome – was in the Obama Administration's refusal to confront China on its currency manipulation.
The Washington Times reported:
China owns the United States and Mr. Obama ducks the issue...he's on vacation, don't you know...as is Congress.
So, with 2011 in our rear view mirror, a year that began with so much promise for the reform of a runaway federal government; that started with enthusiasm – at least among the freshmen TEA Party class – to affect real and meaningful change for the American people and change that would see the marginalization of the anti-American despotism exhibited by Progressives elected under the Democrat banner, what did we actually receive from our elected officials in Washington? No budget; no meaningful deficit or debt reduction and, in fact, increased debt and spending; boards, agencies and departments expanding the authority and reach of government; and a foreign policy that sees fundamentalist Islamists taking control of the Middle East and North Africa, and China getting away with currency manipulation even as they continue to receive foreign aid for their biggest debtor; the United States government.
Maybe 2012 will be different...maybe not...all I know is this: for all the compromising and deal making, for all the speeches, rhetoric and congratulations, We the People are in the very same position we were in prior to the 2010 election...and it's pathetic.
And the debt clock keeps ticking...as does the nuclear clock in the Middle East...as does the encroachment of government into our lives...
Frank Salvato is the Executive Director for BasicsProject.org a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and education initiative focusing on Constitutional Literacy and the threats of Islamic jihadism and Progressive neo-Marxism. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His organization, BasicsProject.org, partnered in producing the original national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He is a member of the International Analyst Network and has been a featured guest on al Jazeera's Listening Post and on Russia Today. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel, and was featured in the documentary, "Ezekiel and the MidEast 'Piece' Process: Israel's Neighbor States." He is a regular guest on talk radio including on The Captain's America Radio Show, nationally syndicated by the Genesis and Phoenix Broadcasting Networks, catering to the US Armed Forces around the world. Mr. Salvato is also heard weekly on The Roth Show with Dr. Laurie Roth syndicated nationally on the IRN-USA Radio Network. Mr. Salvato has been interviewed on Radio Belgrade One. His opinion-editorials have been published by The American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times, Accuracy in Media, Human Events, and are syndicated nationally. He is a featured political writer for EducationNews.org, BigGovernment.comand Examiner.com and is occasionally quoted in The Federalist. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.