Archive for the ‘paul ryan’ category

When Truthful Words Mislead

November 2, 2016

“President Obama has been a disaster. He has presided over the worst economic recovery in history. Hillary Clinton means more of the same for another 4 years.” So, elect Republicans, including Donald Trump in order to elect real change”. Hmmm.

Do these words sound familiar? They should. The first paragraph represents one of the primary campaign threads the GOP is using. But do these words represents truthful statements?

Surprisingly, the answer is yes, these words are truthful. They simply, however, are misleading and not relevant.

First, one has to recall that it was during the last Republican Administration (2000 to 2008) when large tax cuts (promised by Replicants if elected in 2016) were introduced and subsequently (1) the Federal Budget went from an annual surplus to an annual deficit, and after 7 lack luster years of uneven growth (under “W”), (2) the country’s economic growth crashed into a severe recession (approaching the depths of a depression).

Second, the recession was not limited to the US economy. Rather, the broken US bubble dragged most of the rest of the world (including China) into similar recessions. Those countries which responded with “stimulus” policies, stabilized and then experienced economic growth, and those which chose austerity, saw contraction or at best anemic growth.

Third, the average GDP growth rate for George W Bush’s 8 years was 1.8% ending in the largest economic contraction since the 1929 crash. During President Obama’s Administration, GDP growth has averaged about 1.8% with no period over 3%. Rather than feast and bust GDP growth, Obama years have been marked but steady but unspectacular growth. More importantly, one must realize that the GOP controlled Congress resisted all of President Obama’s calls for stimulus from 2010 until now. With a world report card visible to everyone, blaming the lower level of GDP growth on President Obama is grossly misleading.

Ironically, the steady but slow GDP growth might just as easily be seen as a sign of the US economy’s inherent economic strength, which without stimulus is still one of the best in the world. The push-pull Congressional-Presidential relationship is currently not suited for a comprehensive domestic growth policy.

President Obama’s presidency has experienced its share of setbacks, many self inflicted. Truthful but clearly misleading statements, however, do no one a service. Republican leaders know the difference and have intentionally created “truthful but misleading” statements for the purpose of distracting voters and convincing them to expect better results than are likely.

Truthful but misleading is not a Donald Trump phenomena. Trump prefers overtly untruthful and misleading statements since they require less time to think up. People, however, like Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell both know better and occupy leadership positions where Americans have been conditioned to expect “non-misleading” statements. Both elected officials occupy key Congressional positions and Ryan is second in line to succeed the President should it be necessary.  They know better but are content not to do better.

Hmmm.

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They Still Don’t Get It

June 15, 2016

The GOP leadership along with a dozen or so “at risk” Republican Senators had a very bad week, especially since the shootings in Orlando. While many GOP “big wigs” have squirmed on how to distance themselves from their support of Donald Trump, the majority of Republican leaders have not hinted that the Republican Party has a basic disconnect with the majority of Americans.

So many Republicans are on record supporting, with no exceptions, the NRA “on controls on guns” that avoiding some blame for the 49 Orlando dead takes a linguistic virtuoso. Expressing sympathy much less empathy for the dead gays who were at the Pulse bar last Saturday is even harder. And finding ways to side step Donald Trump’s patently un-American proposal to ban all Muslims from America has exposed many GOP candidates to the hint that they may not be so tough on terrorist, an apparent “no-no” in the Republican ranks.  Voters are seeing this too.

Mitch McConnell’s admonition, “stay on message” apparently wasn’t received by Trump, or at least understood for what it really means. McConnell was attempting to tell Trump, “believe what you will but say only what is written on paper”.

When Trump went off reservation this weekend attacking Hillary Clinton and President Obama for not saying the words “radical Islam”, Trump drew the spotlight away from the economy (read jobs) or any of the pet GOP policies like tax cuts (for the wealthy), religious freedom (legal discrimination against gays and women), and the Supreme Court (appointing conservative nominees).

As time is progressing, voters are beginning to understand the consequences a GOP Presidency will bring, even well beyond the fitness a Donald Trump might be as President.

With over 4 months until the November elections, there is plenty of time for a anti-GOP landslide to form. Not only will Trump be defeated but it is becoming more likely there will be huge GOP Congressional losses too.

You Must Be Kidding

June 10, 2016

It seems certain now that the Presidential race will be between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, a world famous entrepreneur versus a world famous States person. Hmmm.

Since Trump announced his candidacy and began competing against 16 other GOP hopefuls, his modus operandi has been marked by xenophobia and personal and derogatory statements. Muslims and Mexicans became the everyday persons’ enemy, and Trump would take care of them. With regards to other candidates, Trump simply bullied them with taunts rarely receiving equally effective replies. Jeb Bush was low energy, Marco Rubio was Little Marco, Ted Cruz was Lie’n Ted, and so on. Even more rare was any discussion of policies or whether these policies were connected to the problems the US faces.

Last week Trump was true to form and announced on national television that a judge hearing a fraud suit against Trump University should recuse himself because the judge was Mexican and was biased. These words totally unglued GOP leaders who had held their noses and elected to support Trump. Yesterday, Trump began to walk back his comments, or at least water them down.

Today Trump announced a major speech as early as next Monday in which he would “tell it like it is” about the Clintons, Hillary his opponent and Bill as well. There are no shortage of “Clinton conspiracy” stories and Bill Clinton’s philandering is well known too. Will Trump do it again?

Trump’s style has been to bully his opponent and in the process keep the name Donald Trump on the 7/24 media spotlight. The “Trump Brand” will fix all that is wrong, he tells his supporters. Trump’s supporters, in turn, accept that whatever issue they want improved or eliminated they are sure Trump will deliver on his promise.

In short, Trump has tried to use personal attacks and playing to some voters fears as a means to distract an opponent while avoiding any real, fact filled discussion of policy. Will that be enough to defeat Hillary Clinton?

If you look into the eyes of Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell, one can tell they despise Trump and probably do not think he will win. Ryan and McConnell do care about retaining control of the House and Senate, however. So, they will be putting on the game face each and every day. This is the best they can do with the cards the way they are.

The GOP is praying for an FBI indictment over Hillary’s private email server but that is a long shot. Short term, Ryan and McConnell must tidy up after the Donald makes a mess with some outlandish statement.

Justice would suggest a Clinton win in November along with a serious loss of House seats and a loss of control of the Senate. Following 8 years of just saying no and the piece de resistance, stone walling Merritt Garland’s Supreme Court appointment, the majority of Americans should deliver a message, the last eight years is not how to execute governance.

Of course, Donald Trump could put forward a fiscally conservative, social progressive (libertarian like) set of policies and surprise everyone on his grasp of the key issues. I wonder whether his message will be substance based or one more rehash of anti-Clinton rhetoric which the ultra conservatives have handed out for the past 24 years?

When Small Thinkers Lead The GOP

June 6, 2016

Over the weekend, presumptive GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump stirred up another hornets nest. Trump called for Judge Gonzalo Curriel, who is presiding over the “Trump University” fraud trial, to recuse himself. Asked why, Trump said because he was Mexican and with Trump’s promises to build a wall between the US and Mexico, Trump felt the Judge was not being “fair”. Hmmm.

Defendants call for Judges to recuse themselves all the time. So what’s the big deal?

Most defendants call for recusals within the trappings of courts and legal procedures, not the spotlight of television interviews. But, the choice of venues is not the main issue.

Trump’s already well established prejudices against Mexicans (and probably Hispanics in general) and Muslims make his statements against Judge Curriel not news. Trump was just being Trump.

The real news is the spotlight which is now showing how small and “not ready for prime time” that GOP House and Senate leaders really are.

Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is narrowly focused upon maintaining GOP control of the Senate and will make whatever deals and concessions necessary to build large enough coalition of loyal voting Republicans. As a consequence, the GOP is willing to panders to a diverse collections of factions and themes, like the NRA (guns without restrictions), evangelicals (forcing their views on others), tax cuts (which benefit the wealthy who do not need the cuts), neoconservatives (who brought us the Iraq invasion and occupation), and privatization of Social Security and Medicare (safety net for senior citizens).

House Speaker Paul Ryan while less obvious in his deference to these groups, never the less has found it necessary to also pander albeit in a more thoughtful way. Ryan speaks of building a strong economy but proposes solutions, including repealing Obamacare, which could devastate the most vulnerable while rewarding those best off.

For McConnell and Ryan, their legislative agendas should be enough to mortally wound the GOP Presidential standard bearer. The refusal to allow the Senate to act upon President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee was just another manifestation of a Party totally adrift from custom, the Constitution, or the best interests of the majority of Americans. It’s all about now.   Hmmm.

Following months of rejecting the Trump candidacy (in favor of some other candidate representing some minority faction within the GOP), McConnell and Ryan have both endorsed Trump and vow to support his election as President. In doing so, McConnell and Ryan have made clear that they are not about thoughtful governance. Instead they are about expedience and letting the future take care of itself. For the average American, this should be a lonely message.

Trump has placed both McConnell and Ryan in a difficult position.  Regardless of what they really think, both have made calculations that unless Trump does well in the general election, the GOP will do poorly in general.

Trump has found little value in pandering to each of the GOP minority factions and has delighted in antagonizing Hispanics, Muslims and women. When McConnell and Ryan announced their Trump endorsement, over arching principles, what little of them existed, went out with the bathwater.

Most analysts have observed that the success of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump signal a desire by a large and growing segment of Americans to see government do more about income inequality (more better paying jobs). The 2008 and 2012 GOP Platforms could not be more out of step with US demographics and only fantasy towards narrowing income inequality. Sweeping Platform changes are sorely needed for the 2016 Platform but it appears it will be same old, same old.

I guess that’s what you get with small thinkers.

Trump Versus Clinton?

March 16, 2016

Yesterday’s primaries in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, and Missouri may have revealed the Democrat and Republican standard bearers for the November general election. Based upon stronger than forecasted performances, it looks like it will be Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Two New Yorkers, two centrists (most issues), and two candidates who will have to overcome large negative approval numbers. Hmmm.

Clinton’s candidacy has attracted  a broad coalition of Democrats and Independents and most importantly large pluralities among ethnic and racial minority groups.

Trump, now being called a “populist”, has attracted a loyal following who find the rest of the Republican Party (and Hillary too) simply lacking in skills, interest, or motivation to implement policies that will improve their lot in life. Trump’s supporters and potential supporters can be found in both parties, largely but not exclusively with blue collar workers.

There remains the possibility that either or both Trump and Clinton might not receive their party’s nomination, but after yesterday’s primaries, the odds favor their success.

  • Here’s some events to look for:
  • Clinton and Sanders will campaign together with indications Sanders would have input into a Clinton Administration.
  • Conservatives are absolutely perplexed. They are appalled at Trump and do not trust his conservative credentials. Even worse, conservatives are apoplectic about Hillary and feel a certain rage about her getting the upper hand. As a consequence, many republicans won’t vote.
  • Trump will go into overdrive to steer the campaign conversation to Hillary’s character and trustworthiness. His scorched-earth approach will harden his “unfavorables” and deepen social conservative unease.
  • Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell will be sorely tested. While both are accomplished politicians and more than able to endorse Trump while privately disgusted, they face the problem of what type of a platform to support, a standard fiscal and social conservative one, or one that is more silent on social issues.
  • Trump will need some magic with Hispanic voters. His double downed positions on deporting the 12 million or so undocumented immigrants, while philosophically consistent with an anti-immigrant policy is totally impractical to image how deportation could happen. Unless he backs away from this extreme position (which appeals mainly to ultra-conservatives who won’t vote for him anyways), his chance of gaining Hispanic voters is a pipe dream.
  • The FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server will most likely end with a cloud of uncertainty. The FBI may go silent and the Justice Department, through authorized leaks, will say it has long been policy to remain “non-partisan” during major elections. If Hillary is elected, the Justice Department will permanently end the investigation and if she loses, the Justice Department will end it because there is no further interest in stopping her candidacy.
  • Thanks to Mitch McConnell and his refusal to consider a Supreme Court nominee, there will be a growing number of Congress members whose seats are at risk if Democrat victory appears likely. Voter adverse reaction will not be limited to Congressional candidates. Look for Trump to speak out and urge Republicans to cease being obstructionists. Trump will act this way in an attempt to build an image of consensus builder.
  • At he end of this Presidential campaign, expect a sizable number of Tea Party and Conservatives to announce the formation of a new Party. The new party will openly hold the rest of the Republican Party hostage seeking full control, The rump Republican Party will seek Independents to join, and Congressional control will lie in whether they are successful.

I wonder whether this speculation will be enough to keep the 7/24 news media busy?

Speaker Paul Ryan

October 31, 2015

Change always offers an opportunity for selecting a different path. Sometimes that path involves different goals or sometimes it is just a different approach to reaching the same goals. The election of Representative Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House begs the questions, which option will mark his time as Speaker?

Wouldn’t any meaningful reform of the tax code entail either raising taxes (a Republican no-no) or beg reducing government spending (read cutting entitlements) if marginal rates were lowered? An elimination of exemptions, deductions, and loop holes, without lowering tax rates, would necessarily increase tax revenues. Any revenue neutral tax code reform would, in addition to favoring some groups, still come with a deficit and in a spirit of change, would put pressure on Congress to lower spending, hence a reduction in entitlements.

If this were to play out under Speaker Ryan’s watch, it would represent the same goals (help the wealthy and decrease efforts on poverty or the needy). The Republican rhetoric, however, will sound nothing like that. This approach will be hailed as an attempt to eliminate tax code favoritism and improve the campaign over poverty reduction.

The GOP claim that current Government regulations undercut individuals’ efforts to climb out of poverty. According to conservatives, Government rules makes it too easy for an individual to accept government money and not join the work force. Hmmm.

As the GOP see it, Government subsidies and direct payments should instead flow to State Governments who are much closer to the situations in their States. The Federal Government should, Republicans say, provide “block grants” to States replacing direct payments to individuals. States could then decide eligibility rules “appropriate” for their specific situation (and could use any excess portion of the block grant as the State saw fit. Hmmm.

Republicans make no mention that this could have significant unintended consequences if their assumption “that people are just lazy and do not look for work if there is a government handout available”. For instance, why won’t these “lazy people” just migrate from State to State in search of more generous benefits? Why wouldn’t some States preferentially make it more difficult for groups or classes of residents thereby encouraging them to “self-migrate” to another State. And what would all the States do when the economy enters a recession or near depression?

To the GOP’s credit, this could be a plan.   There are no Democrat plans other than to spend more. The historic track record of spending more is not brilliant. Unemployment, single parent families continue to rise, and the US workforce seems to be becoming less able to take on higher tech, better paying jobs.

What a mess. America has Scrooge on one side and a foolish (good hearted) spender on the other. Hmmm.

There must be a middle ground. During Bill Clinton’s time, he supported an entitlement reform aimed at harnessing the “welfare queens”. Cutting back did increase the effort of many to find employment. Would it work again?

Maybe but maybe not.

Like so many social problems, the causes are complicated and demand more complex solutions. America’s unemployed include the unlucky (laid off for example), street people, mentally challenged, single family moms (who can’t afford child care), physically disabled, unskilled, along with those who just are lazy and willing to accept less in life. Globalization has outsourced a lot of low skill jobs and low entry wages make little incentive for many to join the work force. Hmmm.

The success of Paul Ryan will be tied to whether he really tries for change and if he connects these goals to comprehensive plans with step by step results testing. For example, select four States and test the approach. Does it work? Than if so, expand.
Hmmm.

Should I hold my breath.

Dreaming of America’s Next Third Party?

October 10, 2015

Congress is quite the scene these days. With Speaker Boehner’s offer to resign, the Republican faction simply needs to pick a replacement and get on with business. Following the Kevin McCarthy false start, Paul Ryan is home this weekend contemplating whether he should step forward. Alas, the wheels of progress seem hopelessly misaligned. Instead of meshing, these wheels are grinding. Hmmm.

The cause for Boehner’s resignation is the same cause for the GOP’s inability to pick a replacement Speaker. There are about 40 strongly conservative (Tea Party children) who caucus as Republicans but who are unwilling to follow Boehner’s leadership. This pack of 40 are quite comfortable with brinkmanship tactics such as shutting down the Government and defaulting on the Nation’s debt. While the rest of the GOP caucus members would not be confused with Democrats, these 40 stand alone in their conservative positions and their choice of tactics.

So, maybe we should think of them as a third party. Forty members is a reasonable start for a Congressional transition to a multi-party body. In today’s Congress, the 114th, the Republican caucus consists of 247 members. Democrats list 188 members. The total for the House is 247.

So where is the third party?

If the block of 40 were to caucus by themselves, the Republican caucus would drop to 207, still larger than the Democrats’ 188 but no longer a majority of all Representatives. No majority, no leadership positions.

Several members of the group of 40 speak passionately that the feud with the main Republican group is more about process and transparency. They claim Speaker Boehner keeps all matters to a small group and simply expects these 40 to vote as directed. These spokesmen say that if only it were an open process and they could put forth whatever amendments they wished, they would be prepared to accept the outcome of the vote and life would be great.

Speculation, however, leads one to think this is a clever tactic to build a voting record for the other GOP Representatives (look Representative so and so voted against this or that). The idea would be that in future elections, with plenty of negative advertising, to purge the less conservative Representatives from the roles. Pretty clever way to hijack a more centrist GOP.

Getting from here to there may prove testing. The 40 claim the majority (the other 207) are only interested in making deals with special interests and are too quick to abandon “principles”. If the 40 were to gain more members or unintentionally spawn the creation of other “third parties, what would lobbyists do?

I can just imagine how the K-Street crowd might react if they woke up to five or six parties in Congress. How would they convince enough to vote for their clients? How much more money would it take?

Don’t think this could happen? Consider the Bernie Sanders movement. Big banks have certainly earned the imposition of new rules, betting the average person’s money on high risk transactions where if successful, banks won, if unsuccessful depositors lost. Hmmm.

How about a new “green” movement? With South Carolina having just experienced a Biblical proportion flooding, the possible connection to global warming is troublesome. With a few more of these calamities, even Southerners might take note.

Even more worrisome would be future parties centering on labor (read unions) or economic class. Or how about a “people’s party” reminiscent of Argentine’s Perone?  This may seem out of the question but when Social Security is slashed, Medicare is cut back and Medicaid is held hostage, a “peoples” outcry might not be so far fetched.

America’s two party system has worked well over the years. It is based upon the principle that a one vote plurality is sufficient to win (until the next vote). The gang of 40 must make up their mind whether to separate and part from the GOP caucus, or change their strategies and stick it out playing within the rules.  Openness and transparency are worthy goals but with the current backdoor deals financed by special interests, this goal is unrealistic even though worthy.

Wishing for a third party might not bring ones desired results but with a continuation of the group of 40, a third party is not so farfetched.