April 9, 2011

Steyn on the Fiscal Crisis

Filed under: Economy,Quotes, Etc. of the Day,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:24 am

Pro or con on the “historic” shutdown-avoidance deal? I’d say the proof will be how much lower than $3.819 trillion the final year-end number comes in. Besides, the “drama” resumes on Thursday.

Mark Steyn understands that the current fiscal 2011 arguments, though important, pale in comparison to 2012 and beyond, and that being led by the most out-of-touch president in memory does not help (internal link added by me):

My comrade Jonah Goldberg compares America’s present situation to that of a plane with one engine out belching smoke. But, if anything, he understates the crisis. Air America doesn’t need a busted engine because it’s pre-programmed to crash.

Our biggest problem is Medicare and other “entitlements.” They’re the automatic pilot of Big Government. Whoever’s in the captain’s seat makes no difference. The flight is pre-programmed to hit the iceberg, if you’ll forgive me switching mass-transit metaphors in midstream.

For some reason, Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Harkin & Co. don’t seem to mind this. If you recall the smile on the face of the “automatic pilot” in “Airplane!” as he’s being inflated, that’s pretty much the Democrats’ attitude to binge-spending as a permanent fact of life.

For a sense of Democratic insouciance to American decline, let us turn to the president himself.

… The cost of a gallon of gas has doubled on Obama’s watch, and this gentleman (in Pennsylvania) asked, “Is there a chance of the price being lowered again?”

As the Associated Press reported it, the president responded “laughingly.” “I know some of these big guys, they’re all still driving their big SUVs. You know, they got their big monster trucks and everything . . . If you’re complaining about the price of gas, and you’re only getting eight miles a gallon — (laughter) . . .”

That’s how the official White House transcript reported it: Laughter. Big yuks. “So, like I said, if you’re getting eight miles a gallon, you may want to think about a trade-in. You can get a great deal.”

… Message: It’s your fault.

… America, 2011: A man gets driven in a motorcade to sneer at a man who has to drive himself to work. A guy who has never generated a dime of wealth, never had to make payroll, never worked at any job other than his own tireless self-promotion, literally cannot comprehend that out there beyond the far fringes of the motorcade outriders are people who drive a long distance to jobs whose economic viability is greatly diminished when getting there costs twice as much as the buck-eighty-per-gallon it cost back at the dawn of the Hopeychangey Era.

So what? Your fault. Should have gone to Columbia and Harvard and become a community organizer.

Another 10 years of this, and large tracts of America will be Third World.

… What’s about to hit America is not a “shock.” It’s not an earthquake, it’s not a tsunami, it’s what Paul Ryan calls “the most predictable crisis in the history of our country.” It has one cause: spending.

Even Mr. Steyn understates the urgency, as will be shown here and elsewhere in the coming week.

Positivity: Family of five among 1,900 ‘joyfully’ received at rite

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:00 am

From Ellenwood, Georgia:

Apr 3, 2011 / 04:50 pm

Tonya Roque and her four children are looking forward to Easter, a holy day that will hold special significance for them as they and nearly 2,000 others enter the Catholic Church in North Georgia at the close of this Lenten season.

On Sunday, March 13, the Roques joined the thousands who filled the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center for the Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion, a celebration led by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory and Atlanta Auxiliary Bishop Luis R. Zarama.

This Easter in its parishes and missions, the archdiocese anticipates baptizing 647 catechumens, those who have never been initiated before into a Christian community. Another 1,265 candidates, those previously baptized in the Christian faith, will be initiated into the Catholic sacraments of Eucharist and confirmation.

It was an exciting time for the Roque family, who, as new Catholics, will be entering the faith of their husband and father, Fernando. They were seated with the other candidates and catechumens from St. Philip Benizi Church, the Catholic community in Jonesboro where the family will become parishioners.

Tonya Roque did not grow up in a Christian family, but said she has attended all types of Christian services during her life. But when she first started seeking more information about the Catholic Church, she felt confirmed that she was heading in the right direction.

“There is a difference when you walk into a Catholic church,” she said. “Everyone is so welcoming. It felt like a family.”

Her husband’s family in Texas is Catholic and first exposed her to the faith. She remembers attending celebrations with the family during a visit at Christmas 2009. She attended Las Posadas, a nine-day celebration reflecting the nine months Mary was pregnant with Jesus. Each night was spent at a different home where reenactments of Mary and Joseph’s journey and search for shelter took place. The sense of community among the faithful was inspiring to her and she felt called to try and foster the same closeness within her own family.

‘It Was Time To Make A Change’

Her journey to the Catholic Church officially began last year when Roque and her children began attending RCIA classes at St. Philip Benizi. It has been several months of prayer, learning and discernment, which eventually led her to the Rite of Election this past Sunday. They are catechumens.

“There was a time when I knew myself that it was a time to make a change,” she said about her family life. “I wanted to show them the right way to live.”

She began calling around to different churches and eventually spoke to Mary Mauldin, director of faith formation at St. Philip Benizi.

“The first person I talked to was Mary and just talking to her over the phone about the Catholic religion, I knew that was the place I wanted to go,” she said.

Roque and her four children, Justino, 17, Leticia, 16, Lisa, 14, and Joshua, 11, all began to participate in RCIA shortly afterward. They have been learning about the richness and depth of Catholicism, which has led to family discussions about God, something for which Roque is grateful.

Go here for the rest of the story.

Overnight Spin Cycle: AP Trims Initial 8-Graf Report on Shutdown Avoidance to 4, Brings Obama Into ‘Historic’ Deal (BizzyBlog Update: ‘Substance-Free?’ and More)

And while we sleep, it will probably be spun around in quite a variety of ways.

What appears to have been the very first Associated Press report at 11:05 p.m. on the final-hour deal that averted a threatened government shutdown came from David Espo at the Associated Press (Espo’s byline appeared at the AP’s main site, but that report was supplanted by a second one to be discussed shortly; Espo’s report it saved here in full as a graphic for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes):

Congress, White House reach deal to avoid government shutdown

Perilously close to a government shutdown, congressional leaders reached agreement with the White House late Friday night on a deal to cut tens of billions of dollars in federal spending and avert the closure.

House Speaker John Boehner informed the GOP rank and file of the accord, reached in grueling negotiations over several weeks, an official said.

“We have an agreement,” concurred a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Jon Summers.

… Officials said it would keep the government in funds through the middle of next week.

… Republicans said the deal called for $39 billion in spending cuts, a measure that one official said Boehner told his rank and file marked the “largest real-dollar spending cut in American history.”

Over a decade, the agreement would cut more than $500 billion from the federal budget, Boehner added, according to a participant in the meeting.

The agreement marked an extraordinary reach across party lines and the first test of a new era of divided government …

Espo’s 11:19 p.m. report, reproduced in full graphically below, appears to be mostly an attempt at a start-over. It oh-so-predictably gets President Obama by name into the first paragraph and puts the verbiage about the reported “historic” significance of the spending cuts into his mouth (and into the headline) instead of Boehner’s:

APonShutdownDeal040811at1119pm

So now Barry’s the hero, and Boehner gets second billing, with the same set of facts and circumstances, proven in realtime. Zheesh.

Can’s wait to see how the AP slices and dices this deal in the coming day or so. Then it looks like we’ll be returning to the laundry room by about Wednesday — make that Thursday.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: It’s hard to take a lot of comfort from Speaker Boehner’s joint press release with Harry Reid:

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) tonight released the following statement:

“We have agreed to an historic amount of cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year, as well as a short-term bridge that will give us time to avoid a shutdown while we get that agreement through both houses and to the President. We will cut $78.5 billion below the President’s 2011 budget proposal, and we have reached an agreement on the policy riders. In the meantime, we will pass a short-term resolution to keep the government running through Thursday. That short-term bridge will cut the first $2 billion of the total savings.”

Call me cynical or some kind of unreasonable “purist” or the detector of a multi-decade pattern of getting misled and betrayed, but if all they have in the bag is $2 billion, the rest can be the subject of strategic reneging — and probably will be.

UPDATE 2: Roger Simon is impressed (internal link is in original) –

He is a much more impressive man than I thought he was. He has a skill we could all learn from: don’t make it personal.

Most of us – myself very much included – are governed to a great degree by our anger. We also want to be the smartest person in the room. (Obama, of course, suffers severely from this, as does Gingrich.) We forget the object is to win, not to be RIGHT! So in the midst of that the proverbial forest is lost for the trees.

While I agree with Roger Kimball that what has been achieved here is but the tiniest tip of the tip of a particularly giant iceberg, I suspect Boehner may have changed the atmosphere.

Hope so.

UPDATE 3: From Chris Stirewalt at Fox News makes some interesting observations (bolds are mine) —

Boehner is unusual for his willingness to share credit and power. While previous speakers have tended toward being either commanders or captives of their caucuses, Boehner has been neither.

Recall how Obama framed the debate when Boehner looked jammed up on the spending plan – the $33 billion in cuts he was offering was about the same amount that Boehner’s leadership team had initially recommended. The president thought he was picking at a scab here because those budget cuts were roundly rejected by the rank and file of Boehner’s caucus.

But the speaker didn’t try to jam through that plan or stick up for the low-balling leadership, he told his caucus to work out whatever plan they wanted and that he would sell it. It looked like weakness to Democrats, but actually strengthened Boehner’s hand. He had given the fiery freshmen a chance to blow off steam and enhance their sense of ownership of the legislation.

It also showed Democrats that Boehner was sincere when he said that he wouldn’t sell out his caucus.

Okay, if so, let’s hope Boehner resists the temptation to get full of himself, like Gingrich did — well actually, that’s how Newt has been during his two decades in the spotlight, which is why he could be rolled. I’d say the prospects for Boehner maintaining his cool while everyone else is going nuts are good. He’s in the job he’s always wanted, and he’s not thinking about his next step up the ladder. He just wants to do the best he can for his country in his current job. Imagine that. I just he hope he’s aiming high.