So now the Republicans want to go all Tony Soprano on the Fed. On Tuesday, the GOP's four congressional leaders sent a formal letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The Fed today finishes a critical two-day meeting, during which it will discuss whether to swing into action again, taking steps that could boost economic growth and reduce unemployment. Many and probably most mainstream economists think that's the right thing to do. The Republicans do not. They were not happy the last time the Fed intervened.
The Republican Party has never been confused with a nonprofit charity, but it was not so long ago that elements of the GOP enjoyed displaying a little human tenderness. Jack Kemp, the former football star and vice presidential nominee, is probably best known for his supply-side philosophy, but as a Congressman and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, he brought what The New York Times said was “more zeal to America's poverty problems than any national politician since Robert Kennedy.” Then there was George W. Bush.
The numbers in President Obama's new plan for health care spending can be confusing, so how about a picture? Or, at least, a pie chart?
[Note: This will make more sense if you read this first.] I'm a sap, a specific kind of sap. I'm a David Brooks sap. When the conservative New York Times columnist praised President Obama for putting forward “heterodox” ideas “drawn from the middle of the ideological spectrum,” I believed him. When he warned that a double-dip recession would be “terrible for America's workers, fiscal situation and psyche,” I believed him. But I am a sap. Today Brooks criticizes Obama, more in sadness than anger, for relying more heavily on tax increases than entitlement cuts to reduce the deficit.
Whatever their differences, the leading Republican candidates all swear that they love states’ rights.
President Obama’s new deficit reduction plan includes about $320 billion in cuts to government health care programs. Most of the cuts from Medicare and that is sure to get a lot of people’s attention, if not now then in the presidential campaign. But these reductions are less severe, and less worrisome, than some of the proposals Obama indicated he was willing to support over the summer, while he was negotiating with House Speaker John Boehner.
The most important part of President Obama's proposal for deficit reduction may be the threat he's making with it. As noted previously, the proposal calls for around $2 trillion in new deficit reduction -- more than $4 trillion if include the savings from drawing down military forces and already enacted cuts from the summer debt ceiling deal.
President Obama has made all kinds of speeches and proposals about how to reduce the deficit. But, at least recently, he hasn’t submitted a formal plan – a fact Republicans and their allies constantly use against him. That will change Monday, when the Obama administration introduces a detailed proposal on how to reduce the budget deficit. Overall it will call for about $2 trillion in new* deficit reduction over the next ten years, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters on Sunday evening.
This week, Pennsylvania Republicans created a stir by proposing to shift the way the state apportions electoral votes in presidential contests, switching from winner-take-all to the Maine plan, in which one electoral vote is awarded to the winner of each Congressional district, and then two are given to the winner of the state.
Should Rick Perry win the Republican presidential nomination, he’ll no doubt be eager to tack to the political center. The first order of business will no doubt be to taper off his most populist rhetoric, including his recent talk of treasonous monetary policy and Ponzi entitlement schemes. But if it comes to wooing independents in the general election, he may also be able to leverage a surprising aspect of his record as governor of Texas: criminal justice reform. Texas, of course, has the largest and one of the harshest penal systems in the country, and the most active death chamber.