The White House Court Jesters of Sequester

Traffic alert: There’s a massive clown car pileup in the Beltway. And with the White House court jesters of sequester behind the wheel, no one is safe. Fiscal sanity, of course, is the ultimate victim. President Obama has been warning America that if Congress allows mandatory spending “cuts” of a piddly-widdly 2 percent to go into effect this week, the sky will fall. The manufactured crisis of “sequestration” was Obama’s idea in the first place. But that hasn’t stopped the Chicken Little in Chief from surrounding himself with every last teacher, senior citizen and emergency responder who will be catastrophically victimized by hardhearted Republicans. Curses on those meanie Republicans! How dare they acquiesce to the very plan for “cuts” — or rather, negligible reductions in the explosive rate of federal spending growth — that Obama himself hatched? How low will the kick-the-can Democrats go? Among the ridiculous claims the administration is making: The National Drug Intelligence Center will lose $2 million from its $20 million budget. That scary factoid appears in an ominous Office of Management and Budget report purporting to calculate the Sequester Disaster. So lock the doors and hide the children, right? Wrong. As Reason magazine’s Mike Riggs points out, the NDIC shut down in June 2012, and some of its responsibilities were absorbed by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Ready for more reckless, feckless farce? Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano played Henny Penny during a panicked speech at the Brookings Institution Tuesday. She warned that her agency’s “core critical mission areas” would be undermined by the sequester. To cynically underscore the point, “waves” of illegal aliens were released this week from at least three detention centers in Texas, Florida and Louisiana, according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed the release of some illegal immigrants Monday night, but would not say how many or from which detention centers. The real punch line, as I’ve reported relentlessly, is that the catch and release of criminal illegal aliens has been bipartisan standard operating procedure for decades. The persistent deportation and removal abyss allows hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens — many of them known repeat criminal offenders — to pass through the immigration court system and then disappear into the ether because we have no determined will to track them down and kick them all out of the country. While Napolitano shrieks about decimation of the DHS workforce, DHS workers tell me that the double-dipping of retired ICE brass — who get back on the payroll as “rehired annuitants” — is rampant. While this open-borders White House phonily gnashes its teeth over the sequester’s effect on national security, its top officials are lobbying for a massive nationwide amnesty that would foster a tsunami of increased illegal immigration for generations to come. The shamnesty beneficiaries will be welcomed with open arms, discounted college tuition, home loans and Obamacare. And as every outraged rank-and-file border agent will tell you, DHS top officials have instituted systemic non-enforcement and sabotage of detention, deportation and removal functions. In another emetic performance, Obama parachuted into a Virginia naval shipyard this week to decry Pentagon cuts that would gut our military. But I repeat: The reductions in spending are CINO: Cuts In Name Only. If the sequester goes into effect, Pentagon spending will increase by $121 billion between 2014 and 2023. Fiscal watchdog GOP Sen. Tom Coburn adds that $70 billion is spent by the Defense Department on “nondefense” expenditures each year. Send in the clowns. Wait. Don’t bother. They’re here. Michelle Malkin is the author of “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies” (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is malkinblog@gmail.com. COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

Calvin Coolidge Gets New Deal in Revisionist History

For years, most Americans’ vision of history has been shaped by the New Deal historians. Writing soon after Franklin Roosevelt’s death, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and others celebrated his accomplishments and denigrated his opponents. They were gifted writers, and many of their books were bestsellers. And they have persuaded many Americans — Barack Obama definitely included — that progress means an ever bigger government In their view, the prosperous 1920s were a binge of mindless frivolity. The Depression of the 1930s was the inevitable hangover, for which FDR administered the cure. That’s one way to see it. But there are others, and no one is doing a better job of making a counter argument than Amity Shlaes, whose 2008 book “The Forgotten Man” painted a different picture of the 1930s. Shlaes agrees that Roosevelt’s initial policies seemed to end the downward deflationary spiral. But then bigger government, higher taxes and aggressive regulation led to further recession and years of achingly slow growth. Sound familiar? Now Shlaes has produced a book tersely titled “Coolidge.” It shows the 30th president in a far different light than the antique reactionary depicted by the New Deal historians. Calvin Coolidge began his political career during the Progressive era, a time of expanding government. But he came to national notice when that era was ending in turmoil. It was a time of revolution in Russia and attempted revolutions elsewhere in Europe, a time of continuing war in parts of the world even after the armistice formally ended World War I. At home, it was a time of unemployment and inflation, of bombs set off before the attorney general’s house and on Wall Street, of labor union strikes in coal and other basic industries. Coolidge was governor of Massachusetts and in charge of the Boston police when they went on strike in September 1919. The cops had legitimate grievances. But the strike was followed by nights of violence and murder, looting of department stores and shops. Coolidge fired the striking policemen. He explained why in a telegram to labor leader Samuel Gompers. It concluded, “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime.” “The time for disruption was over; in order for the next day to be better,” Shlaes writes, “law must be allowed to reign now.” Coolidge became a national celebrity. The Republican bosses in the smoke-filled room picked someone else to be Warren Harding’s running mate. But the convention delegates stampeded and nominated Coolidge. That made Coolidge president on the sudden death of Harding (who comes off much better here than in the New Deal histories) in August 1923. Shlaes tells how he settled into a routine of meeting regularly with the director of the new Bureau of the Budget, paring down spending any way he could. Coolidge’s Republicans had small majorities in Congress, and many favored big new spending programs — veterans’ bonuses, farm subsidies. Coolidge said no, with vetoes that were sustained. At the same time, he pressed Congress for tax cuts. After Coolidge won a full term in 1924, the top income tax rate was reduced from the wartime 70 percent to 25 percent. An economy that lurched from inflation to recession between 1918 and 1922 suddenly burst into robust economic growth. That helped Coolidge achieve budget surpluses ever year — surpluses that he used to pay down the national debt. In the summer of 1927, while vacationing in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Coolidge announced, “I do not choose to run for president in 1928.” All the political indicators — random sample public opinion polls had not yet been invented — suggest he would have won a second full term. And would have been in office when the stock market crashed in October 1929. The New Deal historians depict the prosperity of the Coolidge years as illusory. In their view, the binge would inevitably be followed by the hangover. More recent economic historians have suggested that policy mistakes by the Federal Reserve were the prime cause of the deflationary downward spiral. The onerous Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1930 may have been a culprit, too. In any case, the standard of living of millions of Americans improved in the Coolidge years. Automobiles, refrigerators and radios became commonplace possessions. Shlaes doesn’t argue that Coolidge’s policies could or should be replicated today. But she does establish that the 30th president is worthy of more respect than previous historians have accorded him. Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2013 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

ObamaCare Crippled By States

President Obama boasts that his ObamaCare legislation will reduce the number of uninsured by thirty million. But recent actions by the states to reject his proposed expansion of Medicaid auger about a 25% reduction in his stated goal. The Roberts decision affirming the constitutional validity of the individual mandate in ObamaCare left the states free to decline the expansion of Medicaid specified in the legislation without facing a penalty for doing so. ObamaCare mandated – and now suggests – that states cover people for Medicaid up to 133% of the poverty level. For a family of one, that comes to $11,490. For a family of two it is $20, 628. For three it is $26,000 and for a family of four it would be $31,000. Now, states are going through the process of deciding if they will expand their Medicaid eligibility as Obama suggests or will opt out as the Supreme Court permits. Twenty-one states — with almost half of the U.S. population — have either indicated that they will opt out or are considering doing so. Now, at least twelve states have decided not to participate: Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Idaho. In addition, nine states are considering opting out: Florida, Wisconsin, Utah, Tennessee, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas, Alaska, and Indiana. The combined population of the opt-out states is 86 million (28% of the nation) and the undecided states is 57 million (another 18% of U.S. population). But, the impact of these opt-outs is even greater than even these numbers would suggest. Of the thirty states (including DC) who have indicated they will participate, six already offer Medicaid to those with 133% of the poverty level. There would be no increase in coverage for these states under the ObamaCare Medicaid provisions. These states have a combined total of fifty million people (16% of the country). So, 62% of Americans will be unaffected by the ObamaCare expansion of Medicaid! In addition, twelve states who are accepting the new Medicaid eligibility standards already cover 100% or more of the poverty level. While they will slightly increase their coverage, it would not be by much. These states have a combined population of 68 million (22% of the population). So, here is the extent of the Medicaid expansion, one of the two key elements in ObamaCare: • States refusing expansion = 28% of U.S. Population • States which may refuse = 18% of U.S. Population • States already over 133% eligibility = 16% of U.S. Population • States already at 100-133% eligibility = 22% of U.S. Population Total = 84% of U.S. Population So, only 16% of the US population stands to “benefit” from the increased Medicaid eligibility levels in ObamaCare. ObamaCare advertises that it will reduce the number of uninsured by thirty million. About ten million of them were to come from Medicaid expansion. Now it looks like the bulk of this expansion will not happen, potentially lowering the number of uninsured covered to the 22-24 million range, effectively a one-quarter cut in the impact of ObamaCare. The states are rejecting expansion of Medicaid for several reasons: • While ObamaCare promises to reimburse states for all the cost of the expansion for three years, it only reimburses 90% after that period is over. Since the full implementation of the ObamaCare standard would increase Medicaid coverage by about 50%, these costs are likely to be severely burdensome. • Governors are worried that an expansion of Medicaid eligibility will trigger an influx of those now eligible into the Medicaid program. The Kaiser Foundation estimated that half of the growth of Medicaid expected by 2022 would come from those currently eligible. These new Medicaid recipients would be a big burden on states and the feds would only pick up an average of 60% of their cost. But, Governors are on the lookout and are rapidly mitigating the effects of ObamaCare on their Medicaid costs.

Abraham Lincoln

Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” has been a box-office hit and nominated for 12 Academy Awards, including best picture, best director and best actor for Daniel Day-Lewis, who portrayed our 16th president. I haven’t seen the movie; therefore, this column is not about the movie but about a man deified by many. My colleague Thomas DiLorenzo, economics professor at Loyola University Maryland, exposed some of the Lincoln myth in his 2006 book, “Lincoln Unmasked.” Now comes Joseph Fallon, cultural intelligence analyst and former U.S. Army Intelligence Center instructor, with his new e-book, “Lincoln Uncensored.” Fallon’s book examines 10 volumes of collected writings and speeches of Lincoln’s, which include passages on slavery, secession, equality of blacks and emancipation. We don’t have to rely upon anyone’s interpretation. Just read his words to see what you make of them. In an 1858 letter, Lincoln said, “I have declared a thousand times, and now repeat that, in my opinion neither the General Government, nor any other power outside of the slave states, can constitutionally or rightfully interfere with slaves or slavery where it already exists.” In a Springfield, Ill., speech, he explained, “My declarations upon this subject of negro slavery may be misrepresented, but can not be misunderstood. I have said that I do not understand the Declaration (of Independence) to mean that all men were created equal in all respects.” Debating with Sen. Stephen Douglas, Lincoln said, “I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of … making voters or jurors of Negroes nor of qualifying them to hold office nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races, which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.” You say, “His Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves! That proves he was against slavery.” Lincoln’s words: “I view the matter (Emancipation Proclamation) as a practical war measure, to be decided upon according to the advantages or disadvantages it may offer to the suppression of the rebellion.” He also wrote: “I will also concede that emancipation would help us in Europe, and convince them that we are incited by something more than ambition.” At the time Lincoln wrote the proclamation, war was going badly for the Union. London and Paris were considering recognizing the Confederacy and considering assisting it in its war effort. The Emancipation Proclamation was not a universal declaration. It detailed where slaves were freed, only in those states “in rebellion against the United States.” Slaves remained slaves in states not in rebellion — such as Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware. The hypocrisy of the Emancipation Proclamation came in for heavy criticism. Lincoln’s own secretary of state, William Seward, said, “We show our sympathy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free.” Lincoln did articulate a view of secession that would have been welcomed in 1776: “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better. … Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can may revolutionize and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit.” But that was Lincoln’s 1848 speech in the U.S. House of Representatives regarding the war with Mexico and the secession of Texas. Why didn’t Lincoln feel the same about Southern secession? Following the money might help with an answer. Throughout most of our history, the only sources of federal revenue were excise taxes and tariffs. During the 1850s, tariffs amounted to 90 percent of federal revenue. Southern ports paid 75 percent of tariffs in 1859. What “responsible” politician would let that much revenue go? Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

Liberal Media: Obama’s Front Line

It seems the liberal media are more concerned about Sen. Marco Rubio’s midspeech sip of water than about President Obama’s State of the Union commitment to double down on his disastrous policies. What will it take for once-reasonable people to become alarmed at the state of this nation’s fiscal condition, its stagnant economy and its egregious unemployment? Is there no number of irresponsible liberal policies from an extremist liberal president that will exceed their willingness to tolerate? Do liberal media — and rank-and-file Democrats, for that matter — believe that this recklessness can go on forever? Knowing President Obama’s capacity for fiscal folly and for scapegoating others for problems he’s caused, even I find it hard to believe he could stand before the nation and masquerade as a Washington outsider — as a crusader against the squalid conditions he is engineering and exacerbating. Are these media people truly engulfed in as blinding an ideological fog as it seems? Or are they just cynical co-conspirators in Obama’s deceitful self-depiction as a model bipartisan who is actually seeking a “balanced approach” to resolving our fiscal crisis — as opposed to leveraging the crisis to further gouge the “wealthy”? Balanced? We all know — it’s undeniable — that we have a spending problem and that we are not taxed too little. Our government is bloated beyond belief, and Republicans have already joined Obama in raising the rates and reducing the deductions for the evil ones. Yet he continues to resist meaningful entitlement reform and real spending cuts and all the while deceives the American people with the scandalous whopper that he has already implemented more than half the cuts we need to “stabilize” the debt problem. Shame on the media for allowing him to get away with this! Shame on them for not refuting his misrepresentations about the enormous cost and tax increases unfolding with Obamacare. While Obama is obstructing solutions for real crises and manufacturing phony ones (gun control), he is accusing Republicans of conducting “business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next.” No other occupant of the Oval Office has come close to such an adolescent level of projection — of falsely accusing his political opponents of the very tactics he has employed. But his cohorts in the media and elsewhere gleefully give him a pass. They sit silently as Vice President Joe Biden boasts that the administration will not permit the Constitution to get in its way of imposing further restrictions on guns. They say nothing as Obama proposes draconian solutions for mass shootings that violate the Second Amendment, downplay the real cause of the problems and outright ignore scientific research. They are mute as Obama makes his dictatorial threats to take unilateral executive action if Republicans refuse to comply with his demands for more business-killing programs in service to the gods of global warming. They dutifully disregard the inevitably negative consequences of Obama’s calls for increases in the minimum wage. At what point do these self-congratulatory people feel a tinge of remorse for promoting policies that harm the people they promise to help? Are they honestly unaware that there is a level beyond which you harm, rather than help, people by exploding our food stamp rolls, forcing employers to pay wages higher than they can afford, extending unemployment benefits and legislating other transfer payments? Does it ever occur to them that we wouldn’t need to have all these counterproductive programs of “compassion” if our most beneficent president would quit smothering the private sector with his onerous spending, taxes and regulations? Apparently not, because we see no curiosity from them, much less any criticism, about Obama’s grandiose plan for universal preschool for every 4-year-old in the United States, while he opposes school choice solutions to help free inner-city children from inferior schools. We see no economic analysis that would show the inverse relationship between the amount of money the federal government has poured into education and the results it has produced. I don’t expect the media to understand, let alone affirm, that it’s free market competition, not government central planning, that has created wealth in this country, but how about a modicum of honesty from them about the utter waste and failure of Obama’s stimulus package, which he promised would get the economy moving again? Then again, how can we realistically expect the leftist media to hold the perennially unaccountable Obama to account for anything in his 2013 SOTU address when they have wholly ignored his broken promises from past SOTU speeches, such as his pledge to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term, his assurance that his stimulus plan would save or create 3.5 million jobs in two years, his avowal that Obamacare would result in universal health insurance coverage and his declaration that he would create gazillions of green energy jobs? America’s liberty burns while the media fiddle. David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book, “The Great Destroyer,” reached No. 2 on the New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction. Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

Who Failed Chicago?

On Tuesday, President Obama and the first lady used the State of the Union spotlight to pay tribute to an innocent teenage girl shot and killed by Chicago gang thugs. On Friday, Obama will travel to the Windy City to decry violence and crusade for more gun laws in the town with the strictest gun laws and bloodiest gun-related death tolls in America. Does the White House really want to open up a national conversation about the state of Chicago? OK, let’s talk. Obama, his wife, his campaign strategists, his closest cronies and his biggest bundlers all hail from Chicago. Senior adviser and former Chicago real estate mogul/city planning commissioner Valerie Jarrett and her old boss Richard Daley presided over a massive “Plan for Transformation” in the mid-1990s to rescue taxpayer-subsidized public housing from its bloody hellhole. How’d that work out for you, Chicago? Answer: This social justice experiment failed miserably. A Chicago Tribune investigation found that after Daley and Jarrett dumped nearly $500 million of federal funding into crime-ridden housing projects, the housing complexes (including the infamous Altgeld-Murray homes) remained dangerous, drug-infested, racially segregated ghettos. Altgeld is a long-troubled public housing complex on Chicago’s South Side, where youth violence has proved immune to “community organizing” solutions and the grand redevelopment schemes championed by Obama and company. In fact, as I’ve reported previously, it’s the same nightmarish ‘hood where Obama cut his teeth as a community activist — and exaggerated his role in cleaning up asbestos in the neighborhood, according to fellow progressive foot soldiers. As always, Obama’s claims to success there were far more aspirational than concrete. In the meantime, lucrative contracts went to politically connected Daley pals in the developer world to “save” Chicago’s youth and families. Another ghetto housing project, the Grove Parc slum, was managed by Jarrett’s former real estate empire, Habitat, Co. Jarrett refused to answer questions about the dilapidated housing development after ascending to top consigliere in the Obama administration. But as the Boston Globe’s Binyamin Appelbaum, who visited the slums several years ago, reported: “Federal inspectors graded the condition of the complex an 11 on a 100-point scale — a score so bad the buildings now face demolition. … (Jarrett) co-managed an even larger subsidized complex in Chicago that was seized by the federal government in 2006, after city inspectors found widespread problems.” Grove Parc and several other monumental housing flops “were developed and managed by Obama’s close friends and political supporters. Those people profited from the (federal) subsidies even as many of Obama’s constituents suffered.” Democrats poured another $30 million in public money into the city’s public schools to curb youth violence over the past three years. The New York Times hailed the big government plan to fund more social workers, community organizers and mentors and create jobs for at-risk youth. But watchdogs on the ground exposed it as a wasteful “makework scheme.” One local activist nicknamed the boondoggle “Jobs for Jerks” because “it rewards some of the worst students in the school system with incredibly rare employment opportunities while leaving good students to fend for themselves.” Obama and his ineffectual champions of Chicago’s youth will demand more taxpayer “investments” to throw at the problem. But money is no substitute for the soaring fatherlessness, illegitimacy and family disintegration that have characterized Chicago inner-city life since Obama’s hero Saul Alinsky pounded the pavement. As Heather Mac Donald noted in a damning indictment of the do-gooders’ failures, “Official silence about illegitimacy and its relation to youth violence remains as carefully preserved in today’s Chicago as it was during Obama’s organizing time there.” Team Obama will find perverted ways to lay blame for Chicago’s youth violence crisis on the NRA, Sarah Palin, Fox News, George Bush and the tea party. But as the community organizer-in-chief prepares to evade responsibility again, he should remember: When you point one finger at everyone else, four other fingers point right back at you-know-who. Michelle Malkin is the author of “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies” (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is malkinblog@gmail.com. COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

Congressional Hearings Show Obama Treading Dangerous Global Path

There were two extraordinary disclosures in Thursday’s testimony of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey before the Senate Armed Services Committee. One is that there was no communication between them and Barack Obama or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the seven hours of Sept. 11, 2012, when Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were attacked and murdered in Benghazi. This is a vivid contrast with those photos we’ve seen of the president and his leading advisers watching the video of the attack on Osama bin Laden. At a 5 p.m. meeting, when it was first known that Stevens was under attack, Obama did issue Panetta and Dempsey a directive to do whatever they could to protect him. And then left the matter, in Panetta’s words, “up to us.” After the meeting, according to White House records, Obama did have a one-hour phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a phone call The Weekly Standard editor William Kristol has called “non-urgent, politically useful.” But he apparently wasn’t curious about what was happening in Benghazi. He wasn’t too concerned either the next morning, when after the first murder of a U.S. ambassador in 33 years he jetted off on a four-hour ride to a campaign event in Las Vegas. I don’t think you have to be a Republican partisan to consider that unseemly. Obama’s odd response to the Benghazi attack and the efforts, surely choreographed by his White House, to attribute it to a spontaneous response to an anti-Muslim video suggest that his first priority was winning re-election — and that Benghazi was an irritant that must not be allowed to stand in the way. The other disclosure in the testimony of Panetta and Dempsey was that they, Secretary Clinton and CIA Director David Petraeus all backed aid to the Syrian rebels and that the president decided against it. Of course, that was his decision to make under the Constitution. And there are reasonable arguments against involvement. We could end up aiding the wrong rebels. We could get sucked into a quagmire. We have seen in chaotic Libya and in the fighting in neighboring Mali and the hostage-taking in Algeria negative developments that have flowed from our “leading from behind” support of those seeking to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi. But there are also arguments for aiding the Syrian rebels if, as Obama stated months ago, you want to see the regime of Bashir Assad ousted from power in a country far more strategically located than Libya. And if you want to reduce the bloodshed going on now for more than a year. Evidently those arguments weren’t persuasive to Obama. On Syria, he chose to lead from very far behind. “This now looks increasingly like a historic mistake,” writes Walter Russell Mead in his invaluable American Interest blog, and not just because it helps the rebels aligned with Islamist terrorist groups. “Iran seems much less worried about what this administration might do to it,” Mead writes. “The mullahs seem to believe that faced with a tough decision, the White House blinked.” And, he adds, “both the Israelis and the Sunni Arab states have smelled the same weakness.” The two disclosures last Thursday came at a time when other presidential actions sent a similar message. One was the withdrawal of one of the two aircraft carriers scheduled to patrol the Persian Gulf. The other was the nomination to be secretary of defense of former Sen. Chuck Hagel, a longtime opponent of not only military action but also economic sanctions against Iran. The Hagel nomination was baffling. Most incoming secretaries of defense in the last 40 years have had extensive experience in the Pentagon, at the White House or on the congressional armed services committees. Hagel has none of these. And, as he admitted at the end of a confirmation hearing, when he misstated administration policy, “There are a lot of things I don’t know about.” “A decade of war is ending,” Barack Obama declared in his second inaugural. His response to Benghazi, his decision on Syria and his nomination of Hagel suggest he thinks he can draw down our forces and avoid military conflict. But weakness is provocative and retreat invites attack. Threats abound — Iran, North Korea, China versus Japan. Obama’s moves may end up making war more likely, not less. Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2013 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Obama’s Imperiousness Doesn’t Have a Permanent Shelf Life

President Obama and his liberal cohorts are noticeably puffed up after his re-election and are making their move on a wide array of fronts. The liberals’ voracious appetite is incapable of satiety. Obama’s cockiness was on full display during the fiscal cliff negotiations, during which he treated Republicans, the only ones remotely serious about addressing our deficits and debt, as annoying stepchildren he has to endure as a nuisance. Actually listening to their ideas is not on his playlist. We’ve also seen Obama’s cockiness in his behaving as though he is above the law and doesn’t have to answer to Congress, the courts or the Constitution. Obama has brazenly ignored his legal duty to submit a budget, as if he were King Henry VIII. This is not some ministerial function, mind you, but the budget, which is at the heart of the nation’s problems today. Obama’s hubris is particularly conspicuous in his approach to immigration policy. He used the full force of his executive power during his first term to wage war against states, especially Arizona, that wouldn’t comply with his dictates on enforcement. Indeed, Chris Crane, who is the president of the union for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, confirmed on Sean Hannity’s Fox News Channel show, “(The Obama administration is) ordering us not to enforce the law.” Usually, Obama’s worldview soul mates in the Senate are in lock step with his every whim, but on immigration, a few of them at least nominally joined forces with a few Republicans to propose a bipartisan solution to the problem, about which, for the record, I remain a skeptic. But Obama was not about to be upstaged. Everything must be about him. He had to rush out to Las Vegas and give a speech to make his own proposal on immigration reform, quick to point out, “If Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away” — as if he has the constitutional power to force Congress to act when he so demands. Obama has made clear that he will not agree to make amnesty conditional on border enforcement. So he will press forward for amnesty and presumably millions more Democratic voters in his ongoing quest to fundamentally transform America so that by the completion of his eight-year reign, it will barely be recognizable to those in love with its founding principles. But in no area of policy are Obama and his leftist cabal more highhanded than in their fervor to diminish our Second Amendment rights after the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. In keeping with their typical strategy of exploiting a crisis to achieve major policy change, they have put on a full-court press on gun rights, which won’t do much of anything to solve the problem of gun violence, especially mass shootings in schools. In this top-down liberal climate, leftist elements at the state level are evidently feeling the authoritarian love, as well, for a number of states are considering such new laws as requiring gun owners to purchase liability insurance to cover damages from gun incidents. What could any of this possibly have to do with curbing gun violence? If I didn’t know better — and I don’t — I’d think the left were on a vindictive witch hunt against gun owners, those evil bitter clingers they love to hate. If all this weren’t bad enough, we’re also learning about the unfolding nightmares being unleashed with Obamacare — nightmares that conservatives warned about and that Obama deceitfully denied. Betsy McCaughey, who has studied this bad dream exhaustively, informs us that four federal agencies — the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, the Congressional Budget Office and the Department of Health and Human Services — have released new projections showing that the costs of Obamacare are skyrocketing — significantly higher than the Obama administration promised. The IRS is indicating that family plans on the health insurance exchange will cost at least $20,000 per year by 2016 and that the children of many people covered under their employer’s plan will be ineligible for a subsidy from the exchange, which will result in many children without insurance even though their parents are covered. Also, many who thought they would be covered for Medicaid expansion won’t be eligible for that, either. Finally, in line with the administration’s imperious approach to governance, the IRS and the HHS released a 73-page list of those who will be exempt from Obamacare’s insurance mandate. “Flaws and contradictions in the law,” says McCaughey, “will cause millions of people to be uninsured.” Yet I firmly believe that despite Obama’s overconfidence today, his political day of reckoning is coming. As the ravages of Obamacare materialize, the consequences from Obama’s refusal to address the debt unfold, and his economy continues to falter under his oppressive policies, he will get his comeuppance, and it may be sooner than it now appears. David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book, “The Great Destroyer,” reached No. 2 on the New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction. Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

Obama’s Three Cover-ups

Barack Obama won re-election by perpetrating three frauds: 1. He sold the American people on the idea that we were in the midst of a slow recovery. Given time, he assured us, we would grow our way out of the recession and all would be fine. Nonsense. We now learn — three months after the balloting — that we were entering a recession even as the president spoke. The fourth quarter of 2012 showed a negative growth rate of 0.1 percent, the first contraction in three years. Far from standing on the verge of prosperity, we were tumbling into a new recession. The question for us now is whether the contraction will continue and grow into a full-fledged recession. (The economic definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of contraction.) My bet is that in July — when the second quarter data is in – a recession will be evident since we re-elected the president. The fourth quarter of 2012 does not yet reflect the impact of the tax increases on the wealthy, the onset of higher insurance premiums due to Obamacare or the re-imposition of the 6.3 percent payroll tax (temporarily reduced to 4.3 percent two years ago). These looming tax increases, indeed, may have artificially increased economic growth in the last quarter. When income and capital gains rates go up, there is normally an augmented stream of revenue in the quarter before the increases take effect as people scramble to take profits and capital gains before the higher tax rates come into play. In 1986, during the quarters before Reagan raised the capital gains tax from 20 percent to 28 percent, revenues from the gains tax almost doubled to $328 billion as investors struggled to get in under the older, lower tax rate. Now, with the new capital gains rate, income tax bracket and payroll taxes in effect, the impact on the economy should be deadening. Together, they will likely amount to as much as $300 billion — 2 percent of GDP — enough, by itself to cause recession. Not since Woodrow Wilson was narrowly re-elected in 1916 on the slogan “he kept us out of war” only to declare war six months after election day, have we been as clearly misled on the key issue of a presidential election. 2. The administration’s efforts to characterize the Benghazi attack as the effect of a peaceful demonstration over a movie that got out of hand were not debunked until weeks after the attack. In the interim, President Obama sold us on the notion that he had killed al-Qaida when he slew Osama bin Laden. The attack, on the anniversary of 9/11, was obviously a premeditated terrorist assault that killed our ambassador. If Tony Blair was discredited for “sexing up” a memo about the ability of Saddam Hussein to launch a WMD attack on the United Kingdom, Obama should be held accountable for his overt lie of linking the film to the attack. ???The third cover-up is only gradually becoming apparent — the impact of Obamacare. Now, after the election is over, the IRS informs us that the minimum health insurance premium for a policy that will meet federal specifications is $20,000 for a family of five. Using Obama’s standard definition of a “hardship” as a premium that exceeds 9 percent of a person’s income, that would mean that health insurance that meets Obama’s requirements would be a hardship for any family of five making up to $220,000 a year! The gold plating of requirements for insurance included in the Obamacare legislation is going to drive health insurance out of the reach of tens of millions of people and will lead to a vast decrease — not an increase — in coverage. But Obama craftily did not issue these regulations or the IRS specifications until after the election was over. This election was won by deception and deceit covered up by a compliant media. To find out more about Dick Morris and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2013 DICK MORRIS AND EILEEN MCGANN DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Real Border Control Has to Come First in Any Immigration Deal

A bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators has proposed an immigration reform plan that appears to broadly reflect what voters would like to see. But there’s a catch. Most Americans (56 percent) want our nation to have a welcoming policy of legal immigration. With such an approach, the only people who would be excluded are national security threats, criminals and those who would seek to live off our generous system of welfare and other benefits. Sixty-one percent of Republicans favor such a policy, along with 55 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of unaffiliated voters. But while favoring such a welcoming policy of legal immigration, voters want to stop illegal immigration. Eight out of 10 think this is an important policy goal, including 58 percent who say it’s very important. Once the borders are secure, people are quite willing to support almost any proposal to legalize the status of illegal immigrants already in this country: 64 percent see this as an important goal, including 33 percent who say it’s very important. With this background, it’s no surprise to find initial support for the plan rolled out by the senators. It provides a combination of improved border security with a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here. Fifty-nine percent of voters nationwide favor the approach, while only 18 percent are opposed. Most Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters are on board. Especially popular is the inclusion of strict penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. Sixty-four percent support this provision. Voters have long been supportive of penalizing employers and landlords who profit from illegal immigration. They would rather punish them than penalize the immigrants. For most Americans, it’s easier to understand why people would want to better themselves by coming to America than to tolerate U.S. companies that knowingly encourage them to break the law. Yet despite the broad support for the outlines of the bipartisan legislation, the prospects for its passage are far from clear. The reason has little to do with the immigration issue itself and everything to do with the lack of public trust in the government. If the proposal were to become law, only 45 percent of voters believe it is even somewhat likely that the federal government would make a serious effort to secure the borders and reduce illegal immigration. That figure includes just 15 percent who think the government is very likely to make such an effort. As on most issues, Democrats are far more trusting of the government. Two-thirds of those in the president’s party think the government is likely to enforce the entire law. However, 69 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of unaffiliated voters think the government is unlikely to follow through on the provisions to reduce illegal immigration. Overcoming this skepticism is the key to maintaining support for any comprehensive reform. Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the group of eight, has said that the enforcement provisions will have to be working before the pathway to citizenship can be opened. That’s consistent with public opinion. But Rubio and his colleagues have their work cut out convincing voters that the plan really will work that way. To find out more about Scott Rasmussen, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2013 SCOTT RASMUSSEN DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM