Scare Tactics: All Mandatory Spending Covered if U.S. Goes Over ‘Fiscal Cliff,’ with Money to Spare

Via Freedomworks:

The repeated refrain from the likes of Paul Krugman and Jay Carney is that we MUST increase the debt limit so that we don’t default on the full faith and credit of the United States, and that we continue to pay our bills. Indeed, on Monday, President Obama chastised Congressional Republicans for making spending cuts mandatory in any debt ceiling negotiation:

They can act responsibly, and pay America’s bills or they can act irresponsibly, and put America through another economic crisis,” he said. “But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy.

Funny thing about our ability to pay our bills – we don’t need to raise the debt ceiling to do that. Last night, Dean Clancy led a discussion on the debt ceiling on FreedomWorks livestream, where they featured the following chart that shows why:

DebtCeiling

As you can see, we have more than enough revenue to pay for all of our mandatory spending, including interest on our absurdly high public debt. We have so much revenue, in fact, that we can also pay for a good chunk of the discretionary (read: completely unnecessary) spending as well.

And when I call it unnecessary spending, I mean it. When I pressed FreedomWorks staff for the breakdown of the “Welfare and Other Spending” block (in grey in the chart), the reply was that it would take a while to compile a list, because it’s comprised of TWENTY TWO HUNDRED FEDERAL PROGRAMS. This includes everything – Department of Energy, Department of Education, EPA and other whole agencies, welfare, unemployment, everything. We can’t find ways to cut back our budget at least to the point where we’re not incurring new debt?

I don’t buy it, and neither should you.

Scare Tactics: All Mandatory Spending Covered if U.S. Goes Over ‘Fiscal Cliff’

Via Freedomworks:

The repeated refrain from the likes of Paul Krugman and Jay Carney is that we MUST increase the debt limit so that we don’t default on the full faith and credit of the United States, and that we continue to pay our bills. Indeed, on Monday, President Obama chastised Congressional Republicans for making spending cuts mandatory in any debt ceiling negotiation:

They can act responsibly, and pay America’s bills or they can act irresponsibly, and put America through another economic crisis,” he said. “But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy.

Funny thing about our ability to pay our bills – we don’t need to raise the debt ceiling to do that. Last night, Dean Clancy led a discussion on the debt ceiling on FreedomWorks livestream, where they featured the following chart that shows why:

DebtCeiling

As you can see, we have more than enough revenue to pay for all of our mandatory spending, including interest on our absurdly high public debt. We have so much revenue, in fact, that we can also pay for a good chunk of the discretionary (read: completely unnecessary) spending as well.

And when I call it unnecessary spending, I mean it. When I pressed FreedomWorks staff for the breakdown of the “Welfare and Other Spending” block (in grey in the chart), the reply was that it would take a while to compile a list, because it’s comprised of TWENTY TWO HUNDRED FEDERAL PROGRAMS. This includes everything – Department of Energy, Department of Education, EPA and other whole agencies, welfare, unemployment, everything. We can’t find ways to cut back our budget at least to the point where we’re not incurring new debt?

I don’t buy it, and neither should you.

Obama Gun Directive Quietly Removes Prohibition to Use Federal Funding to Advocate for Gun Control

Via The Washington Times:

The directives on gun violence President Obama signed Wednesday were meant to seem harmless. A closer look at the president’s first memorandum reveals it to be a sneaky assault on congressional authority in order to fund gun-control propaganda.

Getting this done has been on the White House “to do” list for some time. In his 2013 budget submission, Mr. Obama deleted the prohibition that has been in effect since 1995 on the use of federal funds to advocate or promote gun control.

Mr. Obama is trying to steamroll the Democratic and Republican majorities that kept the ban intact by labeling the advocacy as research. “While year after year, those who oppose even modest gun-safety measures have threatened to defund scientific or medical research into the causes of gun violence, I will direct the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to go ahead and study the best ways to reduce it,” said Mr. Obama.

Under the terms of the memo, CDC may “sponsor” another entity to conduct the research, which is a handy way of funneling taxpayer cash to sympathetic gun-control groups.

Earlier this week, anti-gun activists, including New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, spent a lot of time at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore discussing how the government-spending prohibition was hampering their plans.

Daniel Webster, director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at the school, backed the president’s plan. “I agree that the CDC should be free to fund high-quality research into the causes and solutions to gun violence, one of the leading causes of premature mortality in the U.S. that affects not only deaths and injuries, but mental health as well,” he told The Washington Times.

Congress clamped down on the spending after President Clinton used the CDC and National Institutes of Health to create material advancing his theme of treating gun ownership as a public health issue, rather than a constitutional right. Millions in taxpayer funds were blown on junk science, such as $2.6 million used to determine if teenagers who are shot are more likely to have been drinking and carrying a gun. An additional $2 million went to figure out whether moving bars and liquor stores would prevent gun violence in communities.

By calling gun violence a “public health crisis” on Wednesday, Mr. Obama echoed Mr. Clinton’s model. It’s a move that could cost lives, as shifting funding away from fighting disease creates severely misplaced priorities. In 2010, 780,213 Americans died from cardiovascular disease and 574,743 from cancer, compared with 11,078 firearm homicides.

Under the Bush administration, the CDC already conducted a two-year independent study of the laws, including bans on specified firearms or ammunition; gun registration; concealed-weapon carry; and zero-tolerance for firearms in schools. The scientists concluded in 2003 that there was “insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence.”

Congress must reassert itself and override this executive action so that more tax dollars aren’t wasted. If Mr. Bloomberg wants more propaganda, he can pay for it out of his own deep pockets.

 

Democrats Pushing for Congressional Representation for D.C. in Desperate Ploy to Shift Congressional Majority

Via CNS News:

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama is committed to representation for Washington, D.C., in Congress, said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, enough so that he is changing his license plate for presidential limos.

 

A reporter asked Carney about reports that Obama – after four years of not having the “Taxation Without Representation” plates on his vehicle, would be sporting the plates beginning Saturday.

“President Obama now has lived in the District for four years and has seen first-hand how patently unfair it is for working families in D.C. to work hard, raise children, and pay taxes without having a vote in Congress,” Carney said. “Attaching these plates to the presidential vehicles demonstrates the president’s commitment to the principle of full representation for the people of the District of Columbia and his willingness to fight for voting rights, home rule and budget autonomy for the district.”

The Constitution calls only for states to have representation in Congress. The District of Columbia, similar to U.S. territories, has a non-voting delegate in the U.S. House, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.

 

(Another) Home on ‘Gun Map’ Robbed – Only Guns, Ammo, Permits Stolen

Via Newsday:

Two handguns and two pistol permits were stolen from the New City home of a man whose name and address are listed on the website of a local newspaper as possessing gun permits, police said.

The thieves ransacked the house Wednesday night, breaking into two safes on the home’s third floor and stealing a third safe. The guns were in the stolen safe, police said.

Clarkstown police said they had no evidence the burglary was connected to the controversial map.

“The burglary is still under investigation, and there are no facts to support this correlation at this time,” Clarkstown Sgt. Joanne Fratianni said in a statement. “If the investigation develops further information, it will be released accordingly.”

Family members at the burglarized home refused to speak publicly Thursday, and police are keeping reporters off the property on the quiet suburban street.

“At this early point in the investigation, we believe it is a random crime and the home was not targeted,” Clarkstown Det. Lt. Charles Delo told News12.

The burglary comes less than a week after a White Plains homeowner — who also was listed on the Journal News website as having gun permits — arrived home to find his home burglarized, with jewelry missing and an attempted break-in of his gun safe. The thieves were not successful, and no guns were stolen.

White Plains Police Commissioner David Chong said Monday that it was “premature” to connect that burglary to the website listing but said it was part of the police investigation.

The guns that were stolen in New City included a .45-caliber Colt revolver and a .22-caliber Iver Johnson. Cash, U.S. savings bonds and jewelry were also stolen.

The homeowner’s stolen pistol permits were for Rockland and Orange counties.

The Journal News has come under criticism from elected officials and police groups for posting the interactive map Dec. 23 that showed the names and addresses of all legal gun permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties.

The newspaper has not responded to numerous calls for comment.

The head of the White Plains Police Benevolent Association, Robert Riley, has been one of the fiercest critics of the Journal News map, saying it puts the lives of police and ordinary residents in potential danger.

“The Journal News printed a virtual treasure map for criminals,” Riley said Monday. “It lets the bad guys know who is vulnerable, due to not having a gun permit, and where to go if they wanted a gun.”

 

 

 

Obama Admin. in Mad Dash to Block Access to ‘Fast & Furious’ Documents

Via Breitbart:

Attorney General Eric Holder and his Department of Justice have asked a federal court to indefinitely delay a lawsuit brought by watchdog group Judicial Watch. The lawsuit seeks the enforcement of open records requests relating to Operation Fast and Furious, as required by law.

Judicial Watch had filed, on June 22, 2012, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking all documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious and “specifically [a]ll records subject to the claim of executive privilege invoked by President Barack Obama on or about June 20, 2012.”

The administration has refused to comply with Judicial Watch’s FOIA request, and in mid-September the group filed a lawsuit challenging Holder’s denial. That lawsuit remains ongoing but within the past week President Barack Obama’s administration filed what’s called a “motion to stay” the suit. Such a motion is something that if granted would delay the lawsuit indefinitely.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said that Holder’s and Obama’s desire to continually hide these Fast and Furious documents is “ironic” now that they’re so gung-ho on gun control. “It is beyond ironic that the Obama administration has initiated an anti-gun violence push as it seeking to keep secret key documents about its very own Fast and Furious gun walking scandal,” Fitton said in a statement. “Getting beyond the Obama administration’s smokescreen, this lawsuit is about a very simple principle: the public’s right to know the full truth about an egregious political scandal that led to the death of at least one American and countless others in Mexico. The American people are sick and tired of the Obama administration trying to rewrite FOIA law to protect this president and his appointees. Americans want answers about Fast and Furious killings and lies.”

The only justification Holder uses to ask the court to indefinitely delay Judicial Watch’s suit is that there’s another lawsuit ongoing for the same documents – one filed by the U.S. House of Representatives. Judicial Watch has filed a brief opposing the DOJ’s motion to stay.

As the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform was voting Holder into contempt of Congress for his refusal to cooperate with congressional investigators by failing to turn over tens of thousands of pages of Fast and Furious documents, Obama asserted the executive privilege over them. The full House of Representatives soon after voted on a bipartisan basis to hold Holder in contempt.

There were two parts of the contempt resolution. Holder was, and still is, in both civil and criminal contempt of Congress. The criminal resolution was forwarded to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald Machen–who works for Holder–for prosecution. Despite being technically required by law to bring forth criminal charges against Holder, under orders from Holder’s Department of Justice Machen chose to ignore the resolution.

The second part of the contempt resolution–civil contempt of Congress–allowed House Republicans to hire legal staff to challenge President Obama’s assertion of the executive privilege. That lawsuit remains ongoing despite Holder’s and the DOJ’s attempt to dismiss it and settle it.

It’s unclear what’s in the documents Obama asserted privilege over, but the president’s use of the extraordinary power appears weak. There are two types of presidential executive privilege: the presidential communications privilege and the deliberative process privilege. Use of the presidential communications privilege would require that the president himself or his senior-most advisers were involved in the discussions.

Since the president and his cabinet-level officials continually claim they had no knowledge of Operation Fast and Furious until early 2011 when the information became public–and Holder claims he didn’t read the briefing documents he was sent that outlined the scandal and how guns were walking while the operation was ongoing–Obama says he’s using the less powerful deliberative process privilege.

The reason why Obama’s assertion of that deliberative process privilege over these documents is weak at best is because the Supreme Court has held that such a privilege assertion is invalidated by even the suspicion of government wrongdoing. Obama, Holder, the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and virtually everyone else involved in this scandal have admitted that government wrongdoing actually took place in Operation Fast and Furious.

In Fast and Furious, the ATF “walked” about 2,000 firearms into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels. That means through straw purchasers they allowed sales to happen and didn’t stop the guns from being trafficked even though they had the legal authority to do so and were fully capable of doing so.

Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and hundreds of Mexican citizens–estimates put it around at least 300–were killed with these firearms.

Obama Refused to Support Tougher Prosecution for School Shooters After Columbine

Via The Daily Caller:

In 1999, State Senator Barack Obama voted “present” on a bill that would require adult prosecution for discharging a gun in or near a school.

That legislation came as a response to the tragic Columbine High School shooting that year.

SB 759 provided that anyone 15 years of age or older charged with aggravated battery with a weapon in school or within 1,000 feet of a school would be charged as an adult.

It passed the Illinois State Senate in a 52-1 vote, with 5 members voting present — including Obama.

That vote followed a trend for the young lawmaker, whose controversial votes on crime legislation often raised eyebrows.

A Chicago Tribune editorial even accused Obama of being a “gutless sheep” for missing a vote on crime legislation in late 1999.

Pelosi: ‘We Took an Oath to Protect & Defend the Constitution…Which is Why We Need to Change the 2nd Amendment’

Via CNS News:

(CNSNews.com) – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said action must be taken in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School because members of Congress took an oath to “protect and defend,” although the actual oath says to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States ….”

Pelosi held a House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee hearing on “Gun Violence Prevention: A Call to Action,” where she endorsed the gun control proposals President Barack Obama unveiled today.

“Earlier this month, shortly after Newtown, all members of Congress took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and the American people,” Pelosi said.  “To protect and defend.  That is our first responsibility.”

“Today,  members of the House Democratic Caucus have come together to fulfill that duty to confront the challenge of gun violence in our society and act to ensure the safety and security of our communities,” she said.

President Obama and Democrats have called for stricter gun control legislation in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting, in addition to the 23 executive orders signed by Obama today.  Gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association (NRA), have pushed back against new gun laws, saying they will infringe on the right to bear arms guaranteed by the 2nd amendment to the Constitution.

The oath taken by members of Congress as they are sworn in does not include the phrase “protect and defend,” nor does it include anything about protecting the American people, though it does include a vow to defend the Constitution.

According to the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House administers the following oath to members:

“I, (name of Member), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

The presidential oath of office, however, states, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

During the hearing, Pelosi praised the 23 executive orders issued by Obama and endorsed his call to reinstate the 1994 “assault weapons”  ban, implement a universal background check system and institute a ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

The Democrat hearing included testimony from Janet Robinson, the superintendent of schools of Newtown, Conn., where gunman Adam Lanza murdered 20 first graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14.

Other witnesses included Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter; Scott Knight, chief of police of Chaska, Minnesota; and Emily Nottingham, the mother of Gabe Zimmerman, a staff member to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was killed during the Tucson, Arizona shooting.

“We look forward to hearing their ideas and testimony and answering the call to action on gun violence prevention,” Pelosi said.  “We are especially pleased to be doing so on the day when our president—as we continue to mourn for the families of Newtown—has told us that the time for action is now.”

“We must do everything in our power to stop this terrifying violence in the future,” she said.  “We recognize that these challenges are not new, and as President Obama said so eloquently in the days following the shooting, we can’t tolerate this anymore.”

“These tragedies must end and to end them we must change, he said, and today the president put his proposals on the table,” Pelosi said.  “He outlined 23 executive actions the administration is taking right now, he demanded action from Congress on establishing a universal background check system, restoring the ban on assault weapons, banning high capacity assault magazines, putting more police officers on our streets.  We must address issues of mental health, keeping weapons out of the hands of those in danger of doing harm to themselves or to others.”

“These common-sense proposals, among others, represents steps we can take and must take right away to put a stop to the violence,” she said.  “As the president said today, this time must be different.

“We agree,” she said.

While an autopsy was performed on the Sandy Hook killer, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who committed suicide at the scene, toxicology reports for him have not been completed. The toxicology tests could show whether there were psychiatric medications or illegal drugs in Lanza’s system.

Breaking: Dozens Reported Killed After Algerian Army Attempts Raid to Free Hostages

Via Reuters:

NOUAKCHOTT- Thirty-four hostages and 14 of their al Qaeda-linked kidnappers were killed on Thursday in an air strike by the Algerian armed forces, Mauritania’s ANI news agency reported, citing one of the kidnappers holding captives at a desert gas field.

It was not immediately possible to independently verify the information from the agency, which has close contact with the group which has claimed responsibility for the mass kidnapping.

ANI reported that the spokesman for the kidnappers said they would kill the rest of their captives if the army approached.

DoD Preparing for Massive Budget Cuts

Via Military.com:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered the military services to take steps to prepare the Defense Department for sequestration cuts that would force the military to cut $52 billion out of its fiscal 2013 budget in six months.

Defense Department leaders authorized such measures as civilian hiring freezes, contract award delays, and furloughs of up to 30 calendar days. Panetta said the Pentagon will have little time if Congress waits until March 1, the new deadline set on Capitol Hill to determine sequestration cuts.

Panetta and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued their sternest warnings yet Thursday, telling Congress the U.S. military will be unprepared in one year to protect the country if the Defense Department sustains the sweeping potential budget cuts.

“We’ll be unable to reset the force following a decade of war,” Dempsey said. “Our readiness will begin to erode. Within months, we’ll be less prepared. Within a year, we’ll be unprepared.”

Panetta outlined how the convergence of three deadlines in March threatens to “hollow out” the military. He explained that the March 1 deadline to determine sequestration cuts, the expiration of the Continuing Resolution that’s funds the Defense Department, and the debt ceiling debate will work in confluence. Panetta called it a “perfect storm of budget uncertainty.”

“We have no idea what the hell’s going to happen. All told, this uncertainty, if left unresolved by the Congress, will seriously harm our military readiness,” Panetta said.

Congressional members, who had said last year they didn’t expect sequestration cuts to occur, have changed their minds. Sequester cuts would chop $500 billion from planned defense spending over the next decade, to include $18 billion from military operations and maintenance costs in fiscal 2013.

Panetta laid out $52 billion worth of cuts the Defense Department would sustain in the six months remaining in fiscal 2013. If Congress fails to pass the 2013 budget, the Continuing Resolution that funded the Defense Department would extend through 2013 and cut $11 billion from the Pentagon’s budget.

The previous deadline to reach an agreement to avoid the sequestration trigger had been Jan. 2. Congress chose to push the deadline back to March 1 just minutes before the deadline.

Pushing the deadline back may have made sequestration cuts for the defense department more likely, said Todd Harrison, a defense analyst for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Panetta and Dempsey signaled their uncertainty and concern the sequestration cuts would be enacted by authorizing measures to stem the damages the cuts could cause. The Pentagon leaders had previously said they didn’t count on planning for the cuts because they felt they were so unlikely. Their opinion has changed.

“I’ve directed components to develop more detailed plans for how they would implement sequestration if it’s required, because there will be so little time to respond in the current fiscal year,” Panetta said. “I mean, we’re almost halfway through the fiscal year.”

One of those precautions is a furlough for civilian employees that could extend up to 30 calendar days, Panetta said. In a Defense Department memorandum issued Thursday, the furlough would extend no more than “22 discontinuous workdays.”

Panetta emphasized that the furloughs are not approved. He has only told managers to put plans in place should they be needed.

“I want to make that clear:  It’s precautionary. But I have an obligation to — to let Congress know that we may have to do that, and I very much hope that we will not have to furlough anyone. But we’ve got to be prepared to do that if we face this situation,” Panetta said.

Other measures taken to absorb the cuts include halting maintenance on equipment taxed by the past decade of war. Training evolutions for units not in line to deploy to Afghanistan would also have to be scrapped should the cuts be put in place, Dempsey explained.

Dempsey said the troops and missions deployed to Afghanistan will be protected, as well as wounded warriors and families.

“But for the rest of the force, operations, maintenance and training will be gutted. We’ll ground aircraft, return ships to port, and sharply curtail training across the force,” the Army four-star explained. “We’re on the brink of creating a hollow force, the very thing we said we must avoid.”

Panetta said he was disappointed in Congress’ inability to work together and come to an agreement to avoid the “self-inflicted” cuts outlined in sequestration. However, the former congressman is slated to leave his Pentagon post and retire to his California home.

“I’m committed to do whatever I can in the time I have remaining to try to work with the Congress to do what is necessary to resolve these issues,” Panetta said. “We have a vital mission to perform; one that the American people expect and that they are entitled to, which is to protect their safety and to protect our national security.  Congress must be a partner in that mission. I’d love to be able to do this alone, but I can’t.”