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A Budget Sinkhole

Wednesday, March 25, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

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This graphic from The Heritage Foundation’s The Foundry blog, posted by Conn Carroll, is all anyone needs to see as the budget debate moves towards it conclusion in the Congress. All Republicans and responsible Democrats must act together to emphatically reject this ruinous plan.

Critics are struggling to find the right words, and many say such a plan isn’t “sustainable.” Others say it is a recipe for “European style socialism.”

But New Hampshire’s Judd Gregg got it right: This sort of wild spending will bankrupt the United States, destroying the value of its currency in the process and unleashing a wicked inflation that will diminish everyone’s existing wealth while crippling the ability of young people to successfully accumulate wealth.

Responsible Democrats know this cannot be the blueprint for the future, and perhaps understand that the president wanted to be able to promise all of his many constituencies the moon and the stars and then leave it to the Senate to impose some minimum sanity of the plan.

Senate Democrats especially have to step up and impose restraint on this scheme. They know it is a recipe for a disaster, and they have to stop it.

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The President at Notre Dame

Tuesday, March 24, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama to be its honored guest at this year’s commencement is shocking to many Notre Dame alums and of course to many Catholics. Imagine the reaction if the National Right to Life Committee were to invite President Obama to receive its leadership award. By contrast, imagine if the ACLU were to invite Secretary Rumsfeld to receive its leadership award. Both organizations could easily be seen inviting high profile opponents of its policies and central organizing principles to debates and forums, but not to be honored as a champion of its cause, and that is the problem of ND’s invitation to the president.

In a single gesture, ND has undone much if not all of the work of last fall during which the Roman Catholic hierarchy in America labored mightily to deliver the message that the Church really does mean what it says about protecting the unborn. The public rebukes to Speaker Pelosi and candidate Biden about their distortion of Church teaching on abortion underscored the resolve of the Church’s leadership to deliver a message about the centrality of the Church’s position on life to the Church’s mission in the world.

By inviting President Obama to be honored, Notre Dame’s leadership undermines all of that effort in a stroke, sending a message to the entire culture that those crazy bishops and cardinals don’t speak for Catholicism in America. The country’s preeminent Catholic institution just doesn’t care about abortion, or embryonic stem cell research, or even late term abortion or the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, at least not enough to stand in the way of a good party and a lot of camera time.

CatholicVote and the Cardinal Newman Society is organizing a protest, but too late. President Obama will soon have his reply to every objection to his abortion policies that will ever be mounted by any Catholic leader: “As I said in my commencement speech at Notre Dame,” will begin every answer he is ever obliged to deliver on the subject, a reminder to every voter on every occasion that no matter what the Church teaches about life, what the Church’s most visible institution in America has done about life is to demonstrate beyond argument that the issue doesn’t really matter to Catholics.

Of course the cardinals and the bishops should speak to the issue, but they know that the University is beyond their control, and thus their powerlessness over the institutions they supposedly control will be demonstrated if they do. What ND has also done is also to demonstrate that the Church is really impotent in its control over its own institutions. Sort of a bonus point for the leadership there in its unannounced but apparently quite real mission to undermine Catholic faith and teaching.

How To Describe The President’s Agenda?

Monday, March 23, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

“Sweeping?” “Massive?” How about “radical?”

Yesterday’s New York Times article by Stephen Labaton sketches out an agenda of government control over the private sector which pushes out far, far beyond troubled banks that accepted TARP funds. The key graphs:

Officials said the proposal would seek a broad new role for the Federal Reserve to oversee large companies, including major hedge funds, whose problems could pose risks to the entire financial system.

It will propose that many kinds of derivatives and other exotic financial instruments that contributed to the crisis be traded on exchanges or through clearinghouses so they are more transparent and can be more tightly regulated. And to protect consumers, it will call for federal standards for mortgage lenders beyond what the Federal Reserve adopted last year, as well as more aggressive enforcement of the mortgage rules.

The administration has been considering increased oversight of executive pay for some time, but the issue was heightened in recent days as public fury over bonuses spilled into the regulatory effort.

The officials said that the administration was still debating the details of its plan, including how broadly it should be applied and how far it could go beyond simple reporting requirements. Depending on the outcome of the discussions, the administration could seek to put the changes into effect through regulations rather than through legislation.

One proposal could impose greater requirements on company boards to tie executive compensation more closely to corporate performance and to take other steps to ensure that compensation was aligned with the financial interest of the company.

The new rules will cover all financial institutions, including those not now covered by any pay rules because they are not receiving federal bailout money. Officials say the rules could also be applied more broadly to publicly traded companies, which already report about some executive pay practices to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

I will begin the program by discussing this article, and will review the specifics with economist Brian Wesbury, Congressmen David Dreier and John Camopbell, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as the show progresses. The Times article is a trial balloon to see just how aggressive a push can be mounted for remaking the private sector into the ward of the federal government. The private sector –from Main Street to Wall Street– had better mount an immediate campaign to stop this power grab, and wherever the president attempts to impose it by regulation as opposed to legislation, should stand by the courthouse foor ready to challenge every extra-constitutional measure.

For more on the radical nature of the president’s ambitions, see Scott Johnson’s short essay at Powerline.

UPDATE: The EPA adds another part of the predicate for the massive expansion of the government’s power.

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