Tag Archives: Dick Durbin

Does the Gay Lobby Regret Supporting Obama? by Gregory Hilton

Two of the most prominent special interest groups supporting the Obama campaign were organized labor and the gay community. Labor poured in over $400 million last year to all of the Democratic campaigns. The UAW definitely benefitted from the GM bailout and they now own 55% of Chrysler. The $787 billion stimulus was a good return on the SEIU’s $100 million investment, and free trade legislation is not going anywhere. These initial victories must have been encouraging, but now labor’s legislative agenda is dead. Union card check is not going to pass.
My guess is that many gay activists are also having second thoughts about the President. How do you think they feel now that former Vice President Dick Cheney is more supportive of their agenda than Obama?
Public opinion is now decisively inclusive of homosexuals, and anti-gay prejudice has been declining for a long time. On the other hand our nation is still not ready to accept gay marriage. This was demonstrated in Maine this week. Maine is about as far away as you can get from the Bible Belt, and the state gave Obama 58% of the vote in 2008. Nevertheless, its five month gay marriage law was repealed on Tuesday.
Nearby Massachusetts with its influential media market has for years promoted gay marriage. The pro-gay forces had a huge fundraising advantage over their opponents in Maine, but they still lost. Opponents said Maine’s domestic-partnership law provides same-sex couples with enough equality. The opponents did not object to gay couples having 100% of the legal rights and privileges of straight couples, but they said it was not necessary to change the definition of marriage that has existed for the last 2,500 years.
Many of them supported civil unions as an alternative. The big difference between civil unions and gay marriage is that the latter have religious connotations, the former only legal ones. Most Americans support legal sanction for gay couples but not a religious sanction. President Obama appears to hold the same nuanced position.
Gay marriage has not survived an electoral test in any jurisdiction. Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut all voted in an identical manner to Maine. In the weeks leading up to the vote the White House was asked for a comment on the Maine ballot question, and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the President had “no position.”
In a 2004 interview with the Chicago Daily Tribune, during his Senate campaign, Obama said, “I’m a Christian. And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.” President Obama has appointed gay people to several prominent posts in his administration, but despite pleasant words, he has largely abandoned the promises he made to them.
The federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was signed by Bill Clinton in 1996 and protects states from being forced to recognize out-of-state gay marriages. It was passed overwhelmingly by the Senate, 85-14, with Sen. Joe Biden (DE) joining 28 other Democrats in voting yes. Bill Clinton used this issue prominently in his 1996 re-election. He boasted about his opposition to gay rights in paid commercials run on Christian radio stations.
Last year candidate Barack Obama promised to repeal DOMA, and he has repeated that pledge in the White House. In June his Justice Department defended DOMA before the Supreme Court. They submitted a brief comparing same-sex relationships to incest and pedophilia. The gay community understandably erupted and the President was forced to file another brief. The current position is for the Justice Department to defend DOMA while the Obama administration is saying the law is unfair and discriminatory.
Despite the rhetoric, DOMA is not going to be repealed. The DOMA repeal effort is being led by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), a gay freshman, and lesbian Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). The prime sponsor is Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and they have nearly 100 co-sponsors. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), another openly gay lawmaker, is not participating in the effort because he says it is useless. He is not even listed among the co-sponsors. Over 280 lawmakers support DOMA.
The President has also said he is in favor of “changing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) legislation in a sensible manner.” This is the legislation used to remove gay people from the military. It was considered a compromise in 1993 and its prime sponsor was Barney Frank. The President has promised DADT will be repealed in early 2010, but that is not going to happen.
This week the number two Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Dick Durbin (IL) said DADT will probably not be taken up next year. Durbin wants to avoid controversial issues during an election year. Obama’s Secretary of the Army has suggested segregating gay soldiers, separate but equal style, as an alternative to fully repealing DADT.
President Obama could get rid of DADT with a stroke of his pen. It can be done by executive order. He has the power to stop gay military discharges today, but more than 600 people have been forced out of the armed services under the DADT policy during the Obama administration.
During the 2008 campaign Obama said “I’ll be a fierce advocate” for gay rights. On October 10, 2009, he addressed the nation’s most prestigious gay event, the annual gala of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). HRC has achieved nothing substantive for gay equality on a federal level in the last twenty years.
Columnist Andrew Sullivan describes HRC as a “Rotary Club for affluent gays, and their prime job is to explain to the gay community why it is never in the Democratic party’s interest to do anything for gay people that might actually resemble equality. They do get a lovely Obama speech. Like that costs him anything or proves anything.”
President Obama said “I’m here with a simple message: I’m here with you in that fight. . . . My expectation is that when you look back on these years, you will see a time in which we put a stop to discrimination against gays and lesbians — whether in the office or on the battlefield. . . We are moving ahead on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve this country. I will end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. That’s my commitment to you. . . . I’ve called on Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.”
The President did not mention the Maine vote in his remarks, and his promises regarding DADT and DOMA are empty. My guess is that gay activists are no longer hoping for real change.

The Outlook for Social Security and Medicare Is Grim, Will Congress Continue to Ignore this Crisis? by Gregory Hilton

In 2005 Many Lawmakers Claimed There Was No Security Security Crisis

In 2005 Many Lawmakers Claimed There Was No Security Security Crisis

The Outlook for Social Security and Medicare Is Grim, Will Congress Continue to Ignore This Crisis? by Gregory Hilton–
Last week the Social Security and Medicare Trustees released their 2009 annual report and it contains plenty of grim news. According to the Trustees, the outlook for both programs is dire for a variety of reasons. The annual Social Security surpluses will disappear for good in 2016, and the system will then start paying out more every year than it takes in. Lawmakers will then have to raise taxes or slash spending on other federal programs to pay benefits.
In releasing the report Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said, “The longer we wait to address the long-term solvency of Medicare and Social Security, the sooner those challenges will be upon us and the harder the options will be. . . . The President explicitly rejects the notion that Social Security is untouchable politically, and instead believes there is opportunity for a new consensus on Social Security reform.” For many years George W. Bush tried to find that consensus. He devoted the first 60 days of 2005 to Social Security and Medicare reform, but no progress was made. President Obama can not meet with a similar fate because the consequences are so serious.
Spending on Social Security and Medicare totaled more than $1 trillion last year, accounting for more than one-third of the federal budget. Since 2004 the Trustees have been advocating an immediate increase in payroll taxes by 2.02 percentage points. The 2009 Trustees Report says that in “net present value,” Social Security has promised to pay out $7.7 trillion more in benefits than it will receive in taxes. “Net present value” means Congress would have to invest $7.7 trillion today to have enough money to pay all of Social Security’s promised benefits between 2016 and 2083.
That’s more than twice what the federal government will spend this year on everything it buys, and this investment would be on top of the funding Social Security will collect through payroll taxes. The Medicare situation is far more serious because future obligations exceed dedicated taxes by $89 trillion. Medicare’s liability is about 5 1/2 times the size of Social Security’s ($18 trillion) and about six times the size of the entire U.S. economy. An excellent editorial on the crisis in both Social Security and Medicare appeared in last week’s Washington Post:

You’d have to have been living under a rock to be surprised by this week’s news from the Social Security and Medicare trustees that the programs are in trouble. In a nutshell: The U.S. population is aging, health-care costs are spiraling upward and neither program has the money to cover promised benefits. In addition, politicians have known this for many years, and yet no progress has been made in fixing the programs.
The deteriorating economy has made things worse. The date when the Social Security trust fund will start running deficits has moved closer by a year, to 2016, and the date of trust fund depletion has advanced by four years, to 2037. The Medicare hospital insurance trust fund is already running a deficit and will be exhausted by 2017. Furthermore, the size of the Social Security surpluses has shrunk, posing a problem for the government since it relies on these funds to help plug its deficits. Over the next seven years, the cumulative surpluses will be $157 billion instead of the previously estimated $454 billion, forcing the cash-strapped feds to borrow even more than they had expected. Even in the face of such bad news, there are those who will argue against the urgency of reform, using the defensive arguments that the problems in Social Security are exaggerated by overly pessimistic assumptions (they are not); that Medicare can be fixed only by making changes to the entire health-care system (both Medicare and the system need fixing); or that those who advocate reforms are trying to secretly dismantle the programs (oh, please).

Social Security has long been debated on Capitol Hill and no progress has been made in recent years. It is a system that is currently broken, and it will go bankrupt by the time the eldest baby boomers retire. We need to act sooner rather than later to fix this program because every day we wait costs us more and more.
Once again, President Bush did not want to wait and issued repetitive warnings about the looming crisis. He tried to do something about it and in advocating social security reform Bush quoted John F. Kennedy, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”
However, every effort to reform entitlements was blocked. This is not some sudden problem brought on by the recession. This issue was identified years ago and ignored by the very same people who are now trying to lay blame elsewhere.
Over the next 25 years the number of people receiving Social Security is going to increase by 100 percent. Over the same 25 year period the number of people paying into Social Security is going to increase by only 15 percent. When Social Security began there were roughly 40 workers for every one retiree. During the 1950s it was 16 workers per one retiree. Today the ratio is three to one, and soon it will only be two workers per one retiree. Baby Boomers are filing for Social Security benefits at a rate of about 10,000 a day and this will continue for the next 20 years.
Below are several quotes from the 2005/2006 Congressional debate. As you will notice, liberal lawmakers repeatedly told us not to worry because Social Security would not become insolvent until 2052. They offered no alternative proposal. They just criticized Bush’s plan.

“Despite the White House scare tactics, Social Security remains sound for decades to come. The real threat to Social Security comes from Republicans, most of whom support and voted for privatizing Social Security.” – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, May 2006

“The President says the Social Security system is in crisis. He predicted last night that at a certain time the Social Security system would be bankrupt . But it is not in crisis, and it will not be bankrupt . He is simply wrong.” – Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND).

“The President is barnstorming the country telling the American people that Social Security is a sinking ship and private accounts are the lifeboats into which we should jump. But the administration is manufacturing a crisis that does not exist in order to dismantle Social Security .
“Despite the administration’s claims, Social Security will remain solvent for nearly 50 more years. Even after that, Social Security would still be able to pay 70 to 80 percent of benefits. Modest changes to the system would enable Social Security to pay full benefits well beyond the next 50 years.” – Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)

“The good news is that Social Security is financially strong and will remain strong for decades to come. This year Social Security will run a surplus in the neighborhood of $150 billion. The cumulative Social Security surplus now stands in excess of $1.6 trillion. And guess what. Every single one of those dollars is invested in rock solid Treasury securities backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government.” – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)

“The President says there is a crisis in Social Security, which seems to be a strange choice of words because Social Security will be solvent until George W. Bush is 106 years old. Let me say that again because this is important. Social Security will remain solvent until this President reaches age 106. But he and others in the administration have said there is a crisis, it is going to go broke, it is going to be flat busted.” – Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)

“Your previous speaker said incorrectly that Social Security would be in the red in 2018. That’s simply not true. The more money going out than coming in doesn’t start until 2030. There’s time for us to do this right.” – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

“The Congressional Budget Office, which is a bipartisan, has said that Social Security will be rock solid through the year 2052 without any changes whatsoever. There is no need to create private accounts. This is a non solution, it creates a problem.” – Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH).

“I rise to help dispel the ridiculous myth that Social Security is in a state of crisis. If you listened to the President at the State of the Union or out on the stump, you have heard the President use words like ‘broke,’’ ‘busted’ or ‘bankrupt .’ Social Security is neither broke nor bankrupt . The program is certainly not in crisis. A crisis is an imminent problem. Yet, while the President cries ‘crisis,’ Social Security continues to bring in more than it pays out in benefits. According to the Social Security trustees, the program will continue to do so for the next 13 years, until 2018, when the trust fund will be tapped to help pay for benefits.’ – Rep. Gene Green (D-TX)

“The President says Social Security will be bankrupt in 2041. It will not be bankrupt ; it will pay 75 percent of promised benefits under very conservative economic assumptions into the indefinite future, or 2053 if we use the estimates of the Congressional Budget Office. So it would not be bankrupt in any sense.” – Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR)

“There is a shortfall that will exist in 2052, but the notion we are headed for bankruptcy, that this is the path for bankruptcy, is inaccurate.” – Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI)

“President Bush and Vice President Cheney have been trying to scare the American people into thinking that there’s some kind of a crisis facing Social Security. The administration is trying to convince us that somehow Social Security faces a fiscal collapse. Well, that is just bald-faced lies.” — Roger Hickey, Co-Director of the Campaign for America’s Future.

“Social Security isn’t a big problem that demands a solution. It’s a small problem, way down the list of major issues facing America, that has nonetheless become an obsession of Beltway insiders.” — Paul Krugman of The New York Times in November 2007. Krugman is the recipient of the Nobel Prize for economics.

“Women’s organizations, are opposing Bush’s social security plan. They include the American Association of University Women, the League of Women Voters, the National Women’s Law Center, the National Council of Women’s Organizations, the Older Women’s League. All of these organizations are opposed to these risky privatization plans.” – Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)

“There were no WMD’s and there is no social security crisis.” – Full page newspaper ads sponsored by Moveon.org According to their website, “Beating back George Bush’s plan to kill social security was the first major victory for the broadly defined netroots movement.”

“Yesterday while making remarks in Milwaukee, President Bush again distorted the facts on Social Security by saying that young workers were ‘paying into a bankrupt system.’ But, nearly all analysts agree that this is simply untrue. ‘Now, if you’re a senior you have nothing to worry about because it’s got plenty of money for you. But if you’re a young worker, a young entrepreneur, a young mom paying into the system, you’re paying into a bankrupt system unless the United States Congress decides to act.’
“Social Security now runs a surplus, raising more in taxes than it pays in benefits. In 2018, the Trust Fund will start paying out more in benefits then it collects in taxes and will need to begin drawing on its interest earnings and reserves to help pay for benefits. But according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the reserves in the Social Security Trust Fund won’t be depleted until 2052.” – Former Governor Howard Dean (D-VT), Chairman, Democratic National Committee

Many of the above politicians and pundits continue to believe that a problem does not exist. If you combine Social Security and Medicare then we have been paying out far more than what is being received from taxes and premiums. To cover that deficit, we are currently using 1-in-7 income tax dollars. By 2020, it will be 1-in-4, and by 2030, 1-in-2. According to John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis: “Basically, elderly entitlements are on a path that will crowd out spending on every other federal program. Throw in Medicaid, and health care spending alone will crowd out every other thing the federal government is doing by mid-century!”

Left Wing Rhetoric Has Been Far Worse Than Limbaugh by Gregory Hilton

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich Addresses the 2009 CPAC Conference

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich Addresses the 2009 CPAC Conference

Rush Limbaugh’s anti-Obama rhetoric at yesterday CPAC conference was over the top, but the other side makes the same mistake. Far too many people avoid facts or a calm explanation of their viewpoint. They instead try to destroy another person’s character. There are people like this in both political parties and they little interest in compromising for the good of our nation.
Examples of this are easy to compile. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) gleefully said every 100 deaths in Iraq equaled another seat for the Democrats in Congress. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) called Bush a “loser” and said our troops “have lost in Iraq.” He also called the surge a failure BEFORE it even get started.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) called Osama Bin Laden a ‘freedom fighter’ and claimed he was more popular in Afghanistan because he “built schools, roads and hospitals.” She said we were the ones killing Afghani people and not Al Qaeda.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) compared American behavior at Guantanamo Bay to that of “Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings.”
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) said Abu Gharaid, where no one died, was “just as bad as the 6 million Jews being killed.”
Sen. Bob Byrd (D-WV) said the American guards at Guantanamo were “no better than and no different than the Nazi concentration camp guards.” Not even one death had been reported at Guantanamo at the time of remark.
NAACP Chairman Julian Bond said there was no difference between “The American flag and the Confederate swastika”. Former Sen. John Glenn (D-OH) said “It’s the old Hitler business.” Garrison Keillor called our guards “Brownshirts in pinstripes.” Linda Ronstadt described them as “A new bunch of Hitlers,” and Al Gore used the phrase “Digital Brownshirts”.
This rhetoric is not constructive, and Adolf Hitler and the Nazi’s have no relation with a democratic United States and our humane military.
When Mohammed al-Qahtani, the suspected 20th hijacker of September 11, 2001, was experiencing chest and head pains he was given a CAT scan and put on a heart monitor. A radiologist was flown to Cuba for consultation, and an operation was scheduled right away. The Nazi’s did not do that.
The most unfortunate thing about the quotes I selected is that they were all from Al Jazeera broadcasts on both their English and Arabic news site. They were used to inflame our opponents in the Middle East. As far as political rhetoric is concerned, so much of the debate today involves personal destruction.
I know little about Michelle Malkin but she is in the political arena and it is fine to disagree with her viewpoint. I would not call her, or any other person, a pig. A liberal pundit did that today. I do not believe politicians are windbags, and practically all of them have good motives. I will disagree with lawmakers, but I will not question their intelligence if they are on the other side.
I sincerely admire many liberal lawmakers who disagree with me, and I would never say their election was an “insult to the human race.” That quote is from the same pundit. I address these lawmakers in a civil tone and with respect for the position they hold.