Don't furlough me, bro:
More than three dozen federal workers picketed outside the Bolling Federal Building in Kansas City Wednesday, calling for an end to the automatic federal spending cuts known as sequestration. “Sequestration stinks,” one protest sign said. The automatic sequester cuts went into effect earlier this month. They require tens of thousands of federal workers to take unpaid furloughs, and many workers are now being notified of their furlough schedule. Most furloughs won’t take effect until April. “Federal employees are hard-working Americans just like everyone else,” said a statement from Shannon McPeek, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1336. “Less money in their pockets means less money to spend locally on food, clothing, and other goods and services.” The demonstration was part of a national day of protest by federal workers and labor leaders.
"Sequestration stinks"? Hey, blame the president -- it was his idea, and he rejected every realistic option to replace it. This wasn't just a Kansas City event, incidentally; Buzzfeed compiled a highlight reel of news coverage from around the country yesterday, as federal workers took to the streets to vent about the brutal, across-the-board "cuts" that reduced overall spending by...less than two percent. They were wasting their breath anyway; the Democrat-held Senate passed their version of the House's CR earlier this week, thus solidifying the sequester-induced lower spending baseline for the remainder of the year. Sorry, bureaucrats, those slightly lowered outlays are here to stay -- at least for the rest of 2013. (Senate Democrats undo the last nine years of sequestration in their new budget, replacing the cuts with hundreds of billions in tax increases and double counting the "savings" while they're at it). The president is expected to sign the funding measure, although he'll undoubtedly use the occasion to grouse about the built-in sequester cuts that, er, he proposed.
In any case, "sequester stinks" just ain't going to cut it in terms of breaking through to the public. To accomplish that, you really need to exaggerate job losses, lie about pink slips and pay cuts, invent scary stories about denied healthcare services for little kids, needlessly shut off popular Washington frills, set criminals free, and -- if you're really soulless -- exploit accidental troop deaths to really make your point. Speaking of the penultimate item on that laundry list, Sen. Jon Cornyn is demanding that Congress investigate the Department of Homeland Security's decision to release thousands of detained illegal immigrants, including some aggravated felons. DHS officials' excuses have ranged from incoherent to implausible, and Cornyn wants a deeper probe. Here's a portion of a letter the Texas Republican send to New York Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer:
I am writing to request that the Subcommittee conduct full oversight of the recent United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency decision to release 2,228 persons from immigration detention, hundreds into Texas, for no legitimate reason. These actions, made at the direction of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leadership, call into question the Department’s commitment to its core national security missions and raise serious concerns about the judgment of high-level DHS officials. As the Subcommittee with oversight responsibility for the Department of Homeland Security, I believe that it is our duty to hold hearings on this matter in the next month. Though multiple members of Congress and state governors have requested detailed information about these DHS actions, we have yet to receive a response from the Department. What we do know is that at least 700 of these detainees were directly released into Texas. We also know that at least 30 percent of these released detainees had criminal records—potentially including aggravated assault, financial crimes, theft, larceny, drug offenses, drunk-driving, and domestic violence. At least 8-10 of the criminals released by DHS were classified as “Level one offenders”—the most dangerous group of criminals detained by ICE. This is unacceptable. I am also very troubled that senior DHS officials, including ICE Director John Morton, have attempted to downplay the seriousness of releasing more than 600 criminals from their custody and into the general population.
I'm sure Schumer will get right on that. Yesterday's protests and Democrats' histrionics help illustrate why reducing spending is so difficult in this town, even when the public supports the cuts and can smell the scare tactics from a mile away. Hell, even when a government agency wants to shed costs, Congress stands ready to stand in the way.
The Republican-held House of Representatives has passed Paul Ryan's FY 2014 budget, as well as the final version of a "continuing resolution" that will fund the federal government through the end of the current fiscal year. The latter item locked into place the reduced spending baseline established by the sequester. It does not defund Obamacare, although the GOP FY 2014 budget does. As I wrote earlier, the House rejected a trio of Democratic alternative budgets yesterday, including the Senate Democrats' offering -- which raises taxes by $1.5 trillion, increases overall spending, adds $7 trillion in new deficits and never balances. Robust bipartisan majorities torpedoed all three resolutions. The House Republican blueprint holds the line on taxes, reduces deficits by $4.6 trillion compared to the current path, and balances within ten years. It passed on a mostly party-line vote, 221-207; every Democrat and a handful of Republicans voted no. The GOP majority has complied with the law and passed a budget every year since gaining control of the House in the 2010 elections. Senate Democrats shirked their legally-mandated budgetary duties for nearly four years, but are finally poised to pass a plan of their own in the coming days. The president remains historically and unlawfully delinquent on his FY 2014 fiscal plan. Here's Paul Ryan laying out the case for his latest proposal and contrasting it with Democrats' vision:
[President Obama] set a record this year: Two months with no plan, while we have trillion dollar deficits and a debt crisis on our horizon. They have time for the attacks, but no time to offer serious solutions. His party's leaders are unfortunately failing to offer a serious account of our challenge. No serious plan to grow the economy or create jobs. No plan to ever balance the budget. Take more -- trillions of dollars more -- to spend more in Washington. That's what got us in this mess in the first place."
Over on the Senate side, they're in the midst of a "vote-a-rama," in which each party is guaranteed 25 hours of debate on the majority's budget resolution. This allows Senate Republicans to introduce a slew of amendments and force tough votes; Democrat Senators will have nowhere to hide. This, by the way, is precisely the reason why Democrats flouted the law and refused to produce budgets for the last three-plus years. They didn't want to expose themselves to uncomfortable votes, preferring instead to attack the other side's solutions. This year their pay is contingent upon producing a budget, so they've cobbled one together. So far, Democrats have already killed an amendment that would have restored funding to facilitate White House tours for school groups. Apparently the resources associated with those sequester cuts just aren't fungible. (Remember, the president threatened to veto a Republican plan that would have afforded him increased flexibility on this stuff. He has since blamed a series of unpopular-by-design cuts on the fact that his "hands are tied"). Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions has also offered an amendment requiring Democrats to produce a plan -- any plan -- that would balance their budget within ten years. That's also expected to go down in flames, likely along strict party lines. Sen.
Pat Toomey Orrin Hatch is also expected to advance an amendment that would repeal Obamacare's harmful medical device tax, which has bipartisan support. Your move, Dems. I'm told the Senate budget debate could continue long into the night, or might bleed over into tomorrow, depending on how Harry Reid manages the schedule. If you're interested in watching these events unfold in real time, you can click back and forth between the hoops tourney and C-SPAN 2.
UPDATE - Unsurprisingly, Senate Democrats have been assailing the House-passed budget as brutally austere and devastating to children and the elderly. This "monstrous" plan increases federal spending by an average of 3.4 percent per year, saves Medicare, and balances. The Democrat plan accelerates spending beyond the current rate of increase of nearly five percent annually, keeps Medicare on its death march and never balances -- all despite a hefty tax hike.
Time flies when you're frantically moving goalposts and remaking one-sixth of the US economy, doesn't it? Three years ago today, the House of Representatives approved the Senate-passed healthcare bill, sending it to the president's desk to become the law of the land -- all without a single Republican vote in either house of Congress. In the lead up to that moment, were effectively peddled legislative perfection. Obamacare would reduce family premiums, bend the national health spending curve downward, insure 46 million Americans, cover everyone for no additional cost, and actually reduce national deficits. The law has since survived enduring public opposition and a razor-thin Supreme Court decision, even as each element of the promised panacea has begun to crumble. Rather than launch into another new omnibus post recapitulating all the flaws of the president's signature legislative accomplishment, I'll just encourage you to go back and read these pieces, dating back to 2010. The steady stream of bad Obamacare-related news has continued to flow this year -- ranging from projections of major premium spikes, to various unpleasant "surprises," to reports of utter logistical disarray, to attempts by Democrats to demagogue and unravel more elements of their own law, to revelations of its true long-term price tag. Keep in mind that most of the "Affordable" "Care" Act hasn't even been implemented yet, although it has already spawned more than 20,000 pages of regulations that with govern your life. As a very special Obamacare birthday present, here's a New York Times profile of a small business that's trying to grapple with the major hit they're about to endure:
The company is one of thousands of small businesses that employ more than 50 full-time employees and thus will be required to offer health insurance to their workers — or pay into a government fund — beginning Jan. 1. Rachel Shein and Steve Pilarski, the married owners of the bakery, which employs 95 people, estimate this could cost their business up to $108,000, and they are weighing their options as the date approaches. “Our revenues are about $8 million, but the food business is a low-margin industry so cutting $108,000 out of our profits, which are just over $200,000, is a big deal,” said Ms. Shein, who is the chief executive. They are evaluating different ways to comply with the new law and finance the expense.
The three options they're weighing? (1) Providing insurance to all required employees, wiping out most of their profit in the process (which would cripple their ability to expand or reinvest in the business). (2) Not offering a plan, "dumping" employees into the taxpayer-funded Obamacare exchanges, and paying the associated fines. That fine/penalty/tax, by the way, would be higher than the initial cost of providing coverage, but might be more advantageous due to concerns over creeping costs and compliance expenses. Both of these first two options would entail raising prices and passing costs down to their customers, which would place the company at a competitive disadvantage against rivals who employ fewer than 50 employees -- and are therefore exempt from the mandate. (3) they may slash the size of their full time staff by outsourcing certain jobs to outside vendors, in hopes of dipping beneath the 50-employee mandate threshold. Conservative warnings about negative effects on businesses, swelling public costs and job losses weren't fantasies. The Left's reaction to all of this? Quit whining. Really:
Just a week ago Five Guys burgers announced the cost of Obamacare compliance was going to force them to raise prices. Matt Yglesias, who writes for Slate, was quick to call them "whiners:" Obamacare is going to reduce his profits by about one-eighth and he (and any investors in his business) will eat the loss. With corporate profits as a share of the economy at an all-time high, nobody's going to cry for him either. In other words, eat the 1/8 loss of profits and shut up about it. I pointed out on Twitter that it was weird Yglesias hadn't said anything about Baked in the Sun and his response was that he'd already said all he had to say. The cost of compliance and the potential loss of revenue from smaller competitors--it's all irrelevant. Just stop whining, he explained.
I'll leave you with two parting gifts. First, a new poll, via Phil Klein:
Obamacare’s formal name is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll, even Democrats are skeptical that the law will improve health care quality and reduce costs. Kaiser’s health tracking poll found that 37 percent of Democrats said “the cost of health care for the nation as a whole” would be better as a result of the law, just 39 percent said health care quality would be better and 27 percent said consumer protections for private insurance would be better. However, 53 percent of Democrats said the law would improve access to health care for the uninsured. The numbers are worse for the population as a whole. When Republicans and independents are included, just 21 percent believe Obamacare will improve costs and 24 percent say it will improve quality.
Which brings us to our second item, in the form of a priceless* Pelosi flashback. Here's the former House Speaker explaining how Obamacare would cut deficits and create "four million" jobs:
*My mistake. It's not a "priceless" clip. It's a $6.2 trillion clip.
UPDATE - Hey look, another story about small businesses expressing "confusion and fear" over Obamacare.
The House on Wednesday rejected the Senate Democratic budget in a 154-261 vote, with 35 Democrats voting against the blueprint from their upper chamber colleagues. House Democrats were instructed to vote for the Senate Democratic budget, but 35 of them defected...The House also rejected the budget from the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in a 105-305 vote...The Progressive Caucus budget was also rejected 84-327, but it managed to pick up a few more votes compared to last year. Most Democrats voted against this bill, just as they did last year when it was rejected 78-346.
They would have voted on the president's budget as well, presumably, but it doesn't exist. This executive abdication is unparalleled over the last 92 years of American presidents, dating back to the passage of the current law. Here's a list of the Democrats who voted no on their own party's budget, perhaps because it raises taxes massively, punts on every major reform, and never, ever balances. Coincidentally, many of the blue "no" votes were cast by vulnerable incumbents being targeted by the NRCC. Funny, that. Mary Katharine Ham makes two good points about last evening's events: (1) "Opposition to Democratic priorities continues to be consistently more bipartisan than the coalition that passed Obamacare." (2) The 'no' bloc "may be surprised to learn that they all hate old people and children, or whatever evil it is Democrat Budget Deniers are allegedly guilty of today." Indeed. Stay tuned for updates on Paul Ryan's latest "Path to Prosperity." The full floor debate and roll call votes are available on C-SPAN...
Democrats' sequester tower of terror continues to collapse, floor by floor. Amidst the media fact checks and stomach-turning posturing, Republican members of Congress are using hearings to hold bureaucrats' feet to the fire over the claims and actions of their departments. Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) blew the cover off of the administration's duplicity on supposed cuts to pediatric vaccinations a few weeks ago; yesterday, it was South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy's turn at bat. Watch as he grills a Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary as to why his team released ten "level 1" aggravated felons from federal custody, supposedly due to sequester cuts:
GOWDY: "There was nothing else [you] could do as a cost savings measure. Is that your testimony?"
BORRAS: "No, that is not my testimony."
My personal favorite exchange was the bit where Gowdy "asks" Borras how long the department had to prepare for sequestration, knowing exactly what the correct response would be: More than a year and a half. And yet they were hoping the American people would simply accept the notion that they couldn't spare $1,200 bucks to keep violent felons locked up, ostensibly because of small across-the-board federal spending reductions. Not cuts, reductions in the rate of growth. Remember, the president proposed and signed this law, then attempted to pawn off its supposed ill-effects onto Republicans -- hoping to count on the credulous media the spread the distortions. When the GOP wouldn't cave, the administration mobilized to set the vast apparatus of the federal government to work against the interests and well being of the American people in order to justify their hysterical predictions of widespread misery. I'll leave you with the infamous quote that sums up this deeply cynical and reckless approach to governance: "It is our opinion that however you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be."
UPDATE - As I wrote earlier, multiple polls indicate that Democrats' propaganda isn't working.
The House of Representatives is expected to take up Paul Ryan's budget today, as the Senate begins debate on Democrats' first fiscal roadmap in nearly four years. The House GOP version balances in ten years, without raising taxes, by reducing the rate of spending growth and reforming entitlement programs. Senate Democrats propose $1.5 trillion in tax increases and hundreds of billions in phony savings, yet their ledger never approaches balance. The president's offering is still nowhere to be found. Ryan's plan would shave $4.6 trillion from deficits over ten years, compared to the current spending path; the Reid/Murray approach actually raises overall spending by hundreds of billions. As these contrasting paths forward are discussed on Capitol Hill, read through this Wall Street Journal op-ed by two Stanford University economists. They argue that their thorough analysis suggests that the House budget would boost the economy and inspire confidence in American employers, investors and creditors:
According to our research, the spending restraint and balanced-budget parts of the House Budget Committee plan would boost the economy immediately. With the Budget Committee's proposed tax reform included, the immediate impact would be even larger. The entire plan would raise gross domestic product by one percentage point in 2014, equivalent to about a $1,500 increase for each U.S. household. Ten years from now, at the end of the official budget horizon, we estimate that the entire plan would raise GDP by three percentage points, or more than $4,000 for each U.S. household...
The long-run economic gains from restraining government spending would not, despite what critics claim, harm the economy in the short run. Instead, the economy would start to grow right away. Why? First, the lower level of future government spending avoids the necessity of sharply raising taxes. The expectation that tax rates won't need to rise provides incentives for higher investment and employment today. Second, since the expectation of lower future taxes has the effect of raising people's estimation of future disposable income, consumption increases today. This change comes thanks to Milton Friedman's famous "permanent income" hypothesis that the behavior of consumers reflects what they expect to earn over a long period. According to our macroeconomic model, the higher level of consumption induced by the House budget's effect on consumer expectations is large enough to offset the reduced growth of government spending.
Third, the new budget's reduction in the growth of government spending is gradual. That allows private businesses to adjust efficiently without disruptions. Still, our macroeconomic model likely underestimates the positive impact of the House budget plan. The model doesn't account for the greater economic certainty that results from preventing the national debt from soaring to dangerously high levels and from stabilizing the federal tax burden.
Meanwhile, what would the Senate budget accomplish? Ta da:
Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee summarize many of the budget gimmicks we've covered and conclude that Democrats' plan amounts to "virtually no deficit reduction whatsoever" -- a far cry from Murray's claim of $1.85 trillion in lowered deficits:
Even the claimed deficit reduction is a fallacy because it relies on several egregious gimmicks and accounting tricks. The largest such gimmick is that the budget eliminates the sequester but does not count the elimination of these cuts as the spending increase that it is. (Chairman Murray’s staff conceded under questioning that, properly accounted, their actual deficit reduction would be closer to $700 billion.) Other gimmicks further reduce that figure, including an unrealistically low estimate of war spending and a doc fix that is assumed but not paid for. Altogether, the Senate Democrat budget contains virtually no deficit reduction whatsoever. Underneath all the gimmicks and spin is more a fundamental issue: what’s actually in the Murray budget? What are the actual policies and reforms? They don’t exist. The never-balancing budget contains no actual fiscal reforms of any kind—just a massive tax increase to fuel a massive increase in government.
Over the coming weeks and months, the two parties will battle over ownership of the word "balance." Democrats will embrace the president's definition: A political euphemism for raising taxes in exchange for any spending "cut," no matter how counterfeit. Republicans will promote their actually balanced budget. This is a fight the GOP believes it can win because balanced budgets are widely popular, even among many Democrats:
But the message of bringing the federal government’s books into balance — the central idea behind the Wisconsin lawmaker’s 2014 spending plan — was quietly tested in 18 competitive House races in a late-February poll by the National Republican Congressional Committee. It was a winning argument across a broad swath of politically moderate — and nearly split — districts…When talking about the Democrats’ plan, Republicans criticize it for attempting to raise taxes and the fact that it doesn’t balance the budget. Republicans say they’re trying to seize the message “balanced” back from President Barack Obama, who said last week he doesn’t consider balancing the budget a top priority. The internal party polling shows that Republicans think there’s massive political upside to talking about balancing the budget… The poll showed that 45 percent of Democratic voters think “balancing … the federal budget would significantly increase economic growth and create millions of American jobs.” A sky-high 61 percent of independents and 76 percent of Republicans agree.
Jim Pethokoukis is skeptical of Republicans' substance here, suggesting that their balanced budget is more of a messaging tool than an airtight set of policies. Fine. This budget has no chance of becoming law with Harry Reid and Barack Obama standing in the way, so why not try to win some narrative fights for once -- especially while pursuing generally sound policies and goals? Whether Republicans can stay on message is another story, though yesterday's budget press conference was a decent start:
At the very least, they successfully coordinated tie colors, in honor of St. Patrick's Day.
He's down to 47/50 -- underwater with men and women alike and every age group except for young voters, among whom he still doesn't hit 50 percent approval. The president retains dominant high marks with Democrats, but has sunk to 41/53 among independents. CNN's nationwide survey of adults fortifies other recent findings that Obama's standing has dipped considerably since his re-election. Perhaps he once again overestimated his own ability to outmaneuver the enervated Republican opposition. The (ongoing) sequester show certainly didn't help matters, and the GOP may be in the process of retaking the high ground on "balance." Ed Morrissey suggests that The One's slumping job rating may be among the least of his worries:
His standing on the issues is even shakier. Overall, 54% of respondents disagree with Obama on “issues that matter most to you,” with only 44% agreeing. On specific issues, it’s even worse. Obama just spent weeks insisting that the sequester would be a disaster and that Americans wanted a “balanced approach” to budgeting rather than spending cuts. Only 31% agree with him on federal budgeting after that campaign, with 67% disapproving (although Republicans do even worse at 19/79). Obama only edges House Republicans on the issue by a single point, 47/46, a dissipation of the bully pulpit advantage. Respondents also rebuke him for not engaging enough with Republicans, with 56% saying he should be doing more.
The Republican Party -- unsurprisingly -- is still significantly upside-down (38/54), though that's not too far off from the (42/50) rating they drew in the CNN's poll in the aftermath of the GOP's historic 2010 sweep. Democrats' favorability has receded from its recent high water mark (52/43) to slightly inverted at (46/48), which is precisely where they were in November of 2010. This new survey also asks a series of questions about gun control, public zeal for which is fading. By a 55 percent to 43 percent margin, a majority says the government should impose "no" or only "minor" restrictions on gun ownership, as opposed to "major" limits or a total ban. In December, the numbers were roughly reversed (46/52). Is it any wonder that Democrats are in full retreat over controversial elements of Dianne Feinstein's gun control package? One final note, circling back to the sequester: Fully 64 percent of Americans say they've been mostly or entirely unaffected by the small budget reductions called for in the Budget Control Act. Only 11 percent say they've been impacted a "great deal." The sky hasn't fallen for the vast majority of Americans, which may explain why certain Democrats are exhibiting a sick desperation to revive the public's fears. More on this later...
March Madness tips off tonight, and to my knowledge, President Obama has yet to share his 2013 projections with an anxious nation. If our Commander-in-Chief doesn't release his picks before the play-in games begin -- let alone in an ESPN televised special, as in previous years -- it will be the first time in his presidency that he's missed the deadline. His respect for budgetary deadlines, by contrast, has been consistently elastic. Since 1921, every president has been required by law to submit his plan for funding the the federal government no later than the first Monday in February. Various presidents have missed a deadline or two along the way; Obama has bricked 80 percent of his. This year Congress initiated the federal budget process, the first time any president has failed to beat the legislative branch to the punch since the law requiring him to do so was implemented nearly a century ago. Obama's delinquency is unprecedented. House Republicans have produced a web video highlighting the president's misaligned priorities:
The dichotomy is actually pretty forceful in its simplicity:
The president’s history of submitting NCAA brackets:
2009 – On Time
2010 – On Time
2011 – On Time
2012 – On Time
President Obama’s history of submitting budgets:
2009 – Late
2010 – On Time
2011 – Late
2012 – Late
2013 – Late
As a political strategy, Obama's annual bracket hoopla is a master stroke. He's reached low propensity voters, flashed his college basketball acumen, and cemented his cool image. And unlike budgeting, Obama is exceptionally good at picking basketball games. How could casual viewers really dislike a politician with the ability to intelligently break down which mid-major program is most likely to don the glass slipper down the stretch? It's almost enough to make you forget that he's neglecting core governing responsibilities. This year, Obama has not only blown by his statutory budget due date, he's also airballed his subsequent self-imposed one. It now appears that we won't see a FY 2014 presidential budget for at least another three weeks. White House spokesman Jay Carney scolded reporters for worrying their pretty little heads over "the law" and "calendars" last month, urging them to consider "substance over deadlines." The deadline question is already settled. On substance, we have a fairly good idea of what to expect. After all, the White House has already applauded Senate Democrats' pitiful offering, which massively increases taxes, fakes much of its deficit reduction, increases net spending, and never approaches balance. That might sound great to Obama, but even the liberal Washington Post editorial board is aghast:
Partisan in tone and complacent in substance, it scores points against the Republicans and reassures the party’s liberal base — but deepens these senators’ commitment to an unsustainable policy agenda. . . . It is on the issue of entitlements that the Democrats’ document really disappoints. . . In short, this document gives voters no reason to believe that Democrats have a viable plan for — or even a responsible public assessment of — the country’s long-term fiscal predicament.
I'll leave you with a flashback to Townhall's 2011 montage on this subject. Two years later, it all still applies:
Team Frivolous Political Exercise has once again defeated Team Basic Governance in a blowout. Does this even qualify as an upset anymore?
Such is the state of the Republican Party's wheezing brand: Even when voters support their ideas by large margins, they still think they side with Democrats. Via The Hill:
More voters trust the Democratic Party than the Republican Party on budgetary issues, according to the results of a new poll for The Hill — even though a strong majority actually prefer Republican fiscal policies. Respondents in The Hill Poll were asked to choose which of two approaches they would prefer on the budget, but the question’s phrasing included no cues as to which party advocated for which option. Presented in that way, 55 percent of likely voters opted for a plan that would slash $5 trillion in government spending, provide for no additional tax revenue and balance the budget within 10 years — in essence, the path recommended by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) last week. This was almost twice as many voters as opted for a proposal that would include $1 trillion in added tax revenue as well as $100 billion in infrastructure spending, and which would reduce the deficit without eradicating it. Only 28 percent of voters preferred this option, which reflects the proposal put forth by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) last week. An even stronger majority of respondents, 65 percent, said U.S. budget deficits should be reduced mostly by cutting spending rather than by raising taxes. Just 24 percent said the budget should be balanced mostly by increasing revenue.
That's a two-to-one advantage for the Ryan Budget over the Reid/Murray plan; garnering 55 and 28 percent support, respectively. An even smaller percentage back Democrats' tax-heavy emphasis. The Senate proposal -- which never balances -- hikes taxes by $1.5 trillion, yet only achieves $700-$800 billion in deficit reduction over ten years, while accelerating spending beyond the unsustainable current baseline. And yet...
As soon as respondents heard the words “Republican” and “Democrat,” the picture changed drastically. A plurality of voters, 35 percent, said they trust the Democrats more on budgetary issues, while 30 percent said they trust the Republicans more. A full 34 percent said they trust neither party.
Simply adding party identifiers results in major shift from strong backing for the conservative plan to a virtual three-way tie among the two parties and none of the above. The good news for Republicans is that the public is ready to embrace a budget that dramatically reduces spending, doesn't raise taxes, and achieves balance within a decade. Better still, now that Democrats have finally been forced to abandon their cynical budget abdication strategy, the American people finally have the change to weigh two competing ideas. It's no longer just the endlessly-demagogued Republican plan versus nothing. And surprise, surprise: A super majority of Americans rejects Democrats' unbalanced, tax-and-spend binge. When it comes to responsible, restrained, pro-growth economic policies, Republicans are the only game in town. On a policy level, this is encouraging. The bad news is entirely political. The GOP's tattered image remains a huge impediment to policy success, as many voters edge away from Republican policies they support in principle as soon as they hear it's branded with a scarlet R. Even if one is inclined to dissent from some of the remedies prescribed in the RNC's post election self-assessment, it's achingly clear that a messaging and perception face-lift is in order. The House Republican budget is scheduled for debate and a floor vote tomorrow. The Senate is tangled up in a CR and budget amendment vote-a-rama that may last all week. I caught up with House Budget Committee Vice Chair Tom Price at CPAC for a discussion about the two parties' clashing budgets. The Georgia Congressman and medical doctor mounted a defense of Republican's fiscal vision, and contrasted it with the Senate's proposal:
House Democrats, incidentally, put forward their own budget yesterday. It would raise taxes by $1.2 trillion, hikes revenues more than it would cut (rightly excluding the Budget Control Act savings passed in 2011), and doubles the Senate version's new "stimulus" tab to $200 billion. Though it increases spending even more than Senate's version, both Democratic plans largely ignore entitlement reform, speeding the collapse of the safety net in the relatively near future. The ranking House Budget Committee Democrat says using certain actuarial assumptions (which are dismissed by Republicans as unrealistic), his caucus' budget would balance by...2045.
I've long contended that those who lazily equate MSNBC and Fox News probably don't watch of either network, especially the latter. While Fox's opinion programming clearly slants to the right (albeit with no shortage of left-leaning guests), much of its news programming is robust, fair and balanced. Not so at MSNBC. According to a new nonpartisan analysis by the respected Pew Research Center, MSNBC barely boasts any news coverage at all:
True to its motto, MSNBC has been leaning forward. To the point that its opinionated programming far outweighs its “factual reporting,” according to a new Pew study. While Fox News, too, had more opinionated programming, the network had a much smaller discrepancy between opinion and straight reporting. The study — which came as part of Pew Research Center’s annual “State of the Media” report — states that opinionated programming comprised 85 percent of MSNBC’s airtime (versus 15 percent of “factual reporting”). Meanwhile, Fox News had opinion 55 percent of the time, with 45 percent straight news.
The accompanying chart brings the discrepancy into even starker relief:
Liberals and conservatives will never reach total agreement on what qualifies as unbiased "factual reporting," but Pew's metric doesn't attempt to measure the subtleties of biased news coverage. It only quantifies how much of each network's programming broadly qualifies as fact-based journalism, as opposed to opinion and subjective analysis. As the chart illustrates, CNN and Fox fall into the same general range, with the two forms of programming splitting airtime roughly evenly. MSNBC is out on an island of opinion, devoting more than 20 hours per day to commentary, rather than reporting. And if you've ever had the misfortune of watching MSNBC from 6am through 11pm on any given weekday, you know that it's no stretch to estimate that at least 85 percent of their opinion content eminates from one end of the political spectrum. In the final week of the election, MSNBC's opinion programming was literally 100 percent anti-Romney and pro-Obama. I'll leave you with liberal Glenn Greenwald riffing on MSNBC's servile raison detre:
Last month, MSNBC's Al Sharpton conducted a spirited debate about whether Obama belongs on Mount Rushmore or instead deserves a separate monument to his greatness (just weeks before replacing frequent Obama critic Cenk Uygur as MSNBC host, Sharpton publicly vowed never to criticize Barack Obama under any circumstances: a vow he has faithfully maintained). Earlier that day on the same network, a solemn discussion was held, in response to complaints from MSNBC viewers, about whether it is permissible to ever allow Barack Obama's name to pass through one's lips without prefacing it with an honorific such as "President" or "the Honorable" or perhaps "His Excellency" (that really did happen)...I wonder: does someone who goes from being an Obama White House spokesman and Obama campaign official to being an MSNBC contributor even notice that they changed jobs? Impressively, David Axelrod left the White House and actually managed to find the only place on earth arguably more devoted to Barack Obama.
NBC News' cable offshoot abandoned any pretense of ideological balance years ago. It's now been formally established that MSNBC has also forfeited any claim to being a "news" organization, based on its own programming decisions.
Carney: Okay Fine, Senior Officials Knew the IRS Report was Coming, but Nobody Told Obama | Guy Benson