RINOcracy.com was founded in May, 2013 as a voice within the Republican Party, albeit a voice dissenting from party orthodoxy on some significant issues. The 2013 “Welcome to RINOcracy,” which appears below, explained the origin of the name, some of my political background and offered brief thoughts on several issues. Now, however, things have changed.[…]
Current debate over trade policy revolves around two confusingly similar acronyms: TPP and TPA. The first, TPP, refers to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed free trade agreement among 12 Pacific nations. The second, TPA, refers to Trade Promotion Authority, (sometimes known as “Fast Track”), which provides for expedited consideration of trade agreements by Congress. The two are closely linked because, in the view of many observers, passage of TPA will be essential to concluding and ratifying the TPP agreement. Together, the TPP and TPA provide an interesting mix of policy and politics. […]
The following guest blog is by John Swindell, retired Vice President and Managing Director of RR Donnelley Financial.
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Our current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour went into effect in July, 2009, and is not indexed to any measure of inflation. President Obama and fellow Democrats are now proposing to increase the federal minimum wage to approximately $10 per hour in a couple of stages. Early battle lines are being drawn along traditional ideology, with Democrats supporting the raise by citing the moral imperative to fight poverty and reduce income inequality and Republicans opposing the raise by repeating the long-held belief that the laws of economics negate the impact of minimum wage increases, repeating the old adage that you get less of what costs more – higher wages equals reduced employment. Democrats counter that a plethora of studies have shown no ‘employment effect’ of increasing minimum wage. A recent Glenn Hubbard Op Ed in The Washington Post disagrees, citing a book by David Neumark and William Wascher: “a higher wage almost surely reduces employment.” A recent editorial in Investor’s Business Daily argues that the studies frequently cited by minimum wage supporters did not include wage increases of the magnitude now being contemplated and, further, that the periods studied were relatively short and failed to account for longer-term impacts.
Schadenfreude: a feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people.
Republicans may be forgiven if they have indulged themselves in a bit of Schadenfreude over the continuing debacle of Obamacare. To be sure, that debacle could hardly have come at a more opportune time. The furies unleashed by the website failures and the cancellation of insurance policies served to soften, if not erase, the public disdain for the Republicans’ recent antics: the ill-advised gambits with the government shutdown and the debt ceiling. Nevertheless, those furies, and the agonies they have produced in Democrats, may prove to be ephemeral. A diet of Schadenfreude does not provide much nutrition, and it surely is not a policy. […]
Senator Mike Lee has not been a favorite of RINOcracy.com. Most particularly, we strongly disapproved of his effort, along with that of Ted Cruz, to seek the defunding of Obamacare at the price of a government shutdown. Nevertheless, we salute Senator Lee for his willingness to address an issue that most Republicans have tended to tiptoe away from: income inequality. While the subject is often raised by liberals, a typical Republican response has been to mutter a complaint about “class warfare” and attempt to change the subject.
Senator Lee, however, has introduced legislation intended to mitigate economic hardship through tax reform, and it has drawn favorable comment from several quarters. Nevertheless, as constructive as his proposal may be, Lee’s recognition of our underlying problems and the need for action–by Republicans–may be even more important. Speaking in September to the American Enterprise Institute, Lee’s remarks are worth quoting at some length: […]
Senator Patty Murray and Representative Paul Ryan have drawn the short straws: they chair the Conference Committee that is charged with reaching a budget agreement that will avert a second round of crises over a government shutdown (January 15) or a collision with the debt ceiling (February 7). The entire committee, totaling 29, consists of the entire Senate Budget Committee (12 Democrats and 10 Republicans) and 7 House members (4 Republicans, 3 Democrats).
No one, it is fair to say, is overly optimistic about the outcome. If the Grinch does not steal Christmas, he will be hovering not far away. It is a positive sign that Senator McConnell has expressly ruled out the use of a shutdown, and by implication a threat of default, as bargaining chips. As he put it rather colorfully, “One of my favorite sayings is an old Kentucky saying, ‘There’s no education in the second kick of a mule.’ ” Nevertheless, Ted Cruz and his cohorts in the Senate, and the Tea Party Oozlums in the House appear to have an appetite for mule kicks that is not easily satisfied. Moreover, the Conference Committee itself is hardly lacking in gritty conservatives: 9 of the 14 Republicans, including Ryan, voted against the bill that ended the just concluded crisis. (As noted in a prior blog, however, their votes were “free” in the sense that they were not required for the passage of the bill and may not reflect a tolerance for shutdown or default.) […]
The latest episode of our Washington soap opera descended into self-parody, recalling Carol Burnett’s classic “As the Stomach Turns.” Faithful to the formula, the episode ended with the major characters surviving but faced with dire predicaments just ahead. So it was with the bill finally passed by the Senate and House to end the government shutdown and the threat of imminent default. The crisis is over, but not for long: the operation of the government has been continued only through January 15 and the debt ceiling suspended only through February 7.
The most popular phrase to describe Wednesday night’s Congressional action is “kicking the can down the road.” If the beloved William Safire were still among us, he would no doubt enlighten us as to the origin of what has now become a cliché. In Safire’s absence, Timothy Noah of New Republic used Nexis to trace the term back to arms control discussions in the eighties. Noah suggested that kicking the can down the road had not been a bad idea in the earlier context and, writing last January, argued that it might even be the best approach to the budget deficit. Indeed, even in the most recent crisis it was certainly preferable to allowing a government default or even prolonging further the shutdown. But surely enough is enough. Lurching from crisis to crisis is not only a distraction from addressing other important issues, it also deepens public cynicism, and exacts a toll on the economy when we can ill-afford such a burden. That toll could be dubbed most fittingly “The Tea Party Tax” (or in the lexicon of RINOcracy.com, “The Oozlum Tax”). […]
Ted Cruz and the Oozlums have worked their will and the government has shutdown, at least in substantial part. (Newcomers to RINOcracy.com see Blog No. 12 for a definition of Oozlums.) Ironically, owing to the structure of appropriations laws, and arcane interpretations of the Anti-Deficiency Act, one part of the government that will not shutdown is…Obamacare. But elsewhere pain aplenty there will be.
Blog No 12 pointed out that a neither a shutdown, nor a default precipitated by a failure to raise the debt ceiling, are likely to escape punishment by the financial markets. Evidence of that result has already begun to accumulate. The losses in the stock market have thus far been manageable, but if the shutdown continues very long, or as the specter of default draws closer, the financial consequences will inevitably become more severe. At that point, Senator Cruz and the Oozlums will be widely recognized for their accomplishments as Wealthbusters. […]
A development in Congress last week seemed peculiar even by the standards of that troubled institution. For years, Republicans have been complaining – quite reasonably – about the failure of the Senate to pass a budget. Pass a budget, they said, and proceed with the process of negotiating a reconciliation of the budget passed by the House in the ordinary way. Now that the Senate has, after four years, finally passed a budget, three Republicans in the Senate, self-styled “tea-party conservatives,” have blocked the appointment of a Conference Committee to do exactly what the Republicans had been demanding. Senator John McCain’s description of that tactic as “bizarre” seems altogether fitting. […]