NewsBusters Columns

If preliminary rumblings from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform's upcoming report are accurate, I'm afraid the conservative agenda — though overwhelmingly victorious in last week's elections — might be against the ropes again, especially with GOP congressmen praising the report.

Our astronomical deficits are the result not of low taxes, but of profligate spending. So why do we accept the premise that the starting point for deficit and debt reduction discussions must be various tax hikes, tolerating unacceptably high levels of spending, and seeming to take off the table the eradication of programs the government was never intended or constitutionally authorized to establish in the first place?



At the recent Group of 20 (G 20) meeting, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner called upon the largest industrialized economies to get their current account balance — whether a surplus or a deficit — below 4 percent of their gross domestic product by 2015. Four countries have current account surpluses exceeding 4 percent: Saudi Arabia (6.7 percent), Germany (6.1 percent), China (4.7 percent) and Russia (4.7 percent.) Countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia that are "structurally large exporters of raw materials" would be exempt from the 4 percent limit, so the pressure of the U.S. proposal falls mainly on China and Germany. Our annual trade deficit of $500 billion is less than 4 percent of our GDP.

Acting on behalf of various interest groups, politicians fret over trade deficits but is it something that ordinary Americans ought to worry about? What politicians and inept people in the news media, whose duty is to inform, never bring up is that in the international trade arena, there are two accounts. One is called the current account, which consists of goods and services exchanged between Americans and foreigners. That's the account where we have a large trade deficit. Americans buy more goods and services from foreigners than they buy from us.



When it comes to the increasing sex, violence, and profanity in entertainment media, the social libertines are indifferent. They insist that children will hardly be warped or ruined by the media they consume. They chortle at the paranoia of Hollywood critics. Their mantra: If you don't like it, just turn the channel.

But if the issue isn’t indecency, but instead, say, obesity – so many of those titans of “tolerance” suddenly become the censors. Behold San Francisco, the paradise of permissive sexual attitudes. The city council may welcome flowers in your hair, but they have just voted to ban “Happy Meal” toys unless the “happy” menu is low in fat and sodium and includes fruits and vegetables.

Apparently, that villain Ronald McDonald has been leading a Vast Child-Fattening Conspiracy.



The other day, I sat down to breakfast. It was a normal day. Five daily newspapers were laid out before me. As I went over the front pages, I downed orange juice and a bowl of oatmeal powdered with brown sugar and flaxseed. Then I went off to my library with the newspapers and a cup of coffee. By then, incidentally, I was revolted.

The New York Times carried on its front page a perfectly disgusting story. It was not a news story, for it broke no news. It was, rather, a feature story, meant to inform and, I presume, to move me to action. It was about the prevalence of suicide in Afghanistan by women who use cooking oil and matches to do themselves in, sometimes successfully, sometimes incompetently and all the more painfully. This was brought to my attention even before my matutinal coffee!

It is not the first time the Times — or, for that matter, The Washington Post — has put on its front page appalling stories that did not have to be there. Both newspapers run such feature stories on the front page rather regularly — but not The Washington Times, not The Washington Examiner and certainly not The Wall Street Journal, my other three newspapers. They run repellent stories but usually inside. I think it tells you something about the biases of these newspapers.



Last weekend, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tried his hand at dissecting GOP foreign policy attitudes. I commend the senator for trying to come to grips with this vital question that is getting so little, if any, national discussion. As foreign events grow ever more threatening, the view of the now both culturally and congressionally dominant party — the GOP — becomes central to the range of political options that President Obama has, as a practical matter.

There are two factors to assess: 1) Is the pre-tea party GOP in the process of shifting significantly from its free trade, strong, assertive military posture that it has maintained for two generations and 2) do the new tea party members have a discernible position, and if so, what is it?



Chalk up another Code Red Elmo moment for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. While Islamic terrorists groom suicide bombers starting in kindergarten, the grownups in charge of protecting America can't seem to reach an elementary level of competence.

The "good" news: Hindsight-driven bureaucrats at DHS moved to ban high-risk cargo from Yemen and Somalia this week after a global air scare involving makeshift printer/toner cartridge-bombs. The bad news: More than nine years after the 9/11 jihadist attacks, untold numbers of high-risk flyers have been able to board, ride and pilot American planes — some with Transportation Security Administration approval to boot.



Liberal Democrats show no signs of reading their washout at the polls as a reason to shift to the center. President Obama told “60 Minutes” his only mistake was he passed some major legislation, but he didn’t focus enough on the messy “how” – as in “how it’s risky to pass an ObamaCare bill that a majority says it doesn’t want.”

Nancy Pelosi is the other face of the eviscerated Left. A Gallup poll in mid-October found 56 percent of Americans have a negative opinion of her, almost double the percentage that feels negatively toward incoming House Speaker John Boehner. Rather than cede the field to a new general, without the baggage, she is lunging ahead to be re-elected as leader of the shrunken House Democrats.

Now Obama, Pelosi, and their troops in the media are going to turn to the proposition that the House Republicans must be defeated. Oh, the irony. Weren’t their knickers in the tightest of knots when Rush Limbaugh stated he wanted Obama to fail? 



Now that we have new representatives, it's time to advance immediately on them and address the issue that can both rebuild our economy and relieve us of government oppression: tax reform.

As I began to point out in last week's article, Congress' plan to subsidize all its outrageous borrowing and spending will demand far more than the tax man's just collecting on expired Bush tax cuts. There are a host of other levies coming down the turnpike from Washington.



Many commentators are speculating whether President Obama will move to the center or "triangulate" in order to salvage part of his agenda and increase his chances for re-election. I don't believe he has either the inclination to move or the political skills to successfully pretend to (or otherwise outmaneuver Republicans), which leads me to conclude his re-election will depend less on his shenanigans and more on how the GOP acquits itself.

Dick Morris recently argued that Obama will not be able to move to the center or triangulate "because — even if he wanted to — he can't. The issues today are very different from those that separated the parties in 1994 and do not lend themselves to common ground." I agree with Dick but also think there's more to it.



Do Americans share President Obama's desire to impose redistributive social justice on the well off? In liberal Washington State, of all places, voters gave a definitive answer this Tuesday: No! The resounding rejection of a punitive "Robin Hood" initiative shows that it's not just red-state Republicans who oppose extreme tax hikes on the nation's wealth generators.

As Capitol Hill resumes debate on whether to extend the so-called "Bush tax cuts," the White House should pay special heed to the fate of little-noticed Initiative 1098. Its defeat by a whopping 65-35 margin doesn't bode well for Team Obama's class warriors still clinging bitterly to their soak-the-rich schemes. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner insisted this summer that saddling higher earners with higher taxes was "the responsible thing to do." Given the chance to weigh in at the ballot box, a diverse majority of voters in the other Washington determined otherwise.