This town is known by many colorful metaphors. Some can be repeated in print; a whole host of others cannot. The one that seems most fitting to describe the post-centennial days of President Obama’s administration is an open-air carnival, where the country’s most left-leaning carpetbaggers come to peddle their wares. Center stage in this gluttonous festival resides the largest carousel, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the Johnson era, rotating around its axis of federal spending. Circling on this merry-go-round sit several policy initiatives and executive decisions that are flawed to the core. They openly mock the very moderation the Democrat Party espoused as the centerpiece of its working agenda, and lead one to conclude that paybacks and kickbacks will be the two-sided calling card of this Congress’s term.
A timid budget plan. We begin with the president’s most recent commitment to fiscal austerity and his party’s response, which amounted to a collective yawn. This Congress isn’t serious about budget cuts. It doesn’t have to be. Democrats can simply wag their finger at Republican naysayers, recite the tired “don’t lecture me on deficits” line, and then spend with abandon. Besides, the president’s budget reads more like an AIG bonus wish list than a lean tight blueprint. The $17 billion in savings is exactly half of what his pork-belly predecessor proposed last year, and still, budget analysts predict Democrats won’t make even those sheepish cuts a reality.
Feed the spending beast. The Federal City is desperate for cash, in any form. The more it feeds, the more its desperation grows to continue the frenzy. And that desperation has clearly clouded the Democrats’ judgment on international tax policy. The president’s announcement last week amounts to an 8 percent increase in corporate tax rates (the nation’s job producers, by the way). You think tax fraud is wrong? So do I. And yet just $8.7 billion of Mr. Obama’s $210 billion proposal would come from ending actual tax evasion.
Cap, trade and tax. Even in areas where consensus among the majority party remains weak and tentative, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her merry band of egalitarian do-gooders push onward. Centrist Democrats have heard enough from their constituents that higher energy prices in exchange for comprehensive climate controls is untenable. Despite the obvious pain of cap-and-trade, environmentalists have staked their entire agenda on this measure, and Mrs. Pelosi and Rep. Henry A. Waxman will roll a few of their own to ensure these green checks are cashed.
Clear and present danger. And while the Congress speeds toward these reckless policies with little sense of their workability, it has completely slammed on the brakes of immigration reform. If the recent swine flu epidemic originating in Mexico doesn’t send a clarion call to evaluate our nation’s border policies, then we truly have a cluster of tone-deaf ideologues on Capitol Hill.
A new arms race. One issue that is quietly percolating on the congressional agenda is cybersecurity. The recent attacks by international hackers on the nation’s air traffic control operations, power grid and a top secret weapons system have Democrats penning a new page in their regulatory manifesto. They now want to give the president unprecedented powers to shut down entire networks at one bureaucrat’s discretion with the hip new title of =E 2czar.”
Has the not-so-tech-savvy government proven itself more competent than private enterprise in combating cybersecurity? While the Pentagon exhausted nearly $1 billion on cybersecurity efforts in the last six months, spies were still able to steal the blueprints of a $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter jet.
What has prompted this government-knows-best mentality? It is the private sector, after all, that owns 85 percent of our nation’s critical infrastructures, and it is the marketplace that is pioneering the means to ward off the “bad guys.” For instance, a company in Miami understands that Internet users don’t need to leave the house when a criminal gets the key; they just need to change the lock. Passwords, usernames, key fobs and security questions rarely stop an online predator. So the creators of Authentest developed a fundamentally new paradigm, exchanging these erratic points of access to something natural — the way you type. The software knows if it is you, your identical twin or a cyber spy from China trying to access your bank account or the blueprints of a jet fighter. If the unique behavioral pattern of your hands on the keyboard doesn’t match, access is denied — even if the online criminal has the correct log-in information.
China and Russia are gnawing at the bit to access our “secured” online universe, and Congress appears content to shut the power off on ourselves, leaving innovation in the dark. While there is no part of the left’s manifesto that encourages collaboration with America’s businesses, it needs to happen. Cooperation between the private and public sectors is essential to pown the opposition. Current measures in this Congress would instead force the U.S. to watch as foreign cyber-platoons advance in front of us.
Campaigning Democrats advertised a core of moderation, but practicing Democrats leaped left. Republicans’ deteriorating strength has left them with little power to tug right especially with the recent defection of Sen. Arlen Specter, looming ascension of Al Franken, and a president standing high in national polls. But peddling cotton candy taxes and pork-on-a-stick won’t rotate the Congressional Carousel. The majority party wields the muscle to change, but storm clouds among the electorate brew as this power is abused, bringing a forecast of rain to their pompous carnival.