Monday, March 31, 2008

OMB Watch Launches New Resource Center

OMB Watch Launches Regulatory Resource Center

Today, OMB Watch launched a web-based Regulatory Resource Center at www.ombwatch.org/regresources. The Resource Center provides tips for advocates who want to get involved in regulatory decision making and educational resources for anyone interested in how the federal regulatory process works.

The first part of the Regulatory Resource Center is the Advocacy Center. The Advocacy Center shows users how to comment on federal regulations and provides instructions for using Regulations.gov, the government's portal for public comments. The Advocacy Center also has instructions for filing a petition for rulemaking and tips on how to find rules in the Federal Register.

The second part of the Resource Center is the Policy Library. The Policy Library contains a flowchart showing how rules move through the regulatory pipeline; a list and brief description of rulemaking agencies; background information describing how the regulatory process works from beginning to end; and a glossary of common terms relating to regulation. The Policy Library also has a reference section, which provides links to legislation, executive orders, and government reports on regulatory policy.

In October 2007, OMB Watch released a developmental version of the Regulatory Resource Center and surveyed the public for comments and ideas. Responses to the survey were overwhelmingly positive. A number of respondents complimented OMB Watch on its efforts to centralize all information about the regulatory process in one place. One respondent called it "a tremendous gift to citizens and to students."

OMB Watch will continue to improve the site based on public needs, comments, and concerns. We welcome and encourage feedback at any time. Please e-mail us with your comments at RegResources@ombwatch.org. ...Read more!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

With Tax Increases Like This, Who Needs Pork?

Today, Sen. Obama Is Scheduled To Give A Major Address On The Economy:

"Obama Has A Major Economic Address In New York [On March 27, 2008]." (Mike Allen, "Obama To Hit McCain On Economy," The Politico's "Playbook," 3/26/08)


Obama Has Proposed A Laundry List Of Tax Hikes On The Campaign Trail, Which Would Hurt The Economy:

Obama Has Called For Higher Income Taxes, Social Security Taxes, Investment Taxes, And Corporate Taxes, As Well As "Massive New Domestic Spending." "Obama's transformation, if you go by his campaign so far, would mean higher income taxes, higher Social Security taxes, higher investment taxes, higher corporate taxes, massive new domestic spending, and a healthcare plan that perhaps could be the next step to a full-scale, single-payer system. Is that what most Americans want, someone who will fulfill a Democratic policy wish list?" (James Pethokoukis, "Barack Hussein Reagan? Ronald Wilson Obama?" U.S. News & World Report's "Capital Commerce" Blog, www.usnews.com, 2/12/08)

Obama Has Also Called For Tax Hikes On "Dirty Energy" Such As Coal And Natural Gas. Obama: "What we ought to tax is dirty energy, like coal and, to a lesser extent, natural gas." ("Q&A With Sen. Barack Obama," San Antonio Express-News, 2/19/08)
The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore: "[Obama] doesn't believe that raising tax rates is going to hurt the economy and if he becomes President ... tax rates will go up almost across the board." (The Wall Street Journal Website, www.wsj.com, Accessed 2/13/08)

CNBC's Larry Kudlow: "[Obama] has a very punitive high-tax campaign plan for the economy." (Larry Kudlow, "Obama, The Very-High-Tax Candidate," National Review's "The Corner" Blog, nationalreview.com, 2/11/08)

Ben Stein: "Mr. Obama could become president and derail everything because his understanding of economics is 100 percent wrong. ... I must say I'm so scared about Mr. Obama becoming president. I can hardly tell you." (CNBC's "Kudlow & Company," 2/14/08)

Alan Reynolds, Senior Fellow At The Cato Institute: "In Short, Obama Is A 'Tax-And-Spend' Liberal..." (Alan Reynolds, Op-Ed, "Tax Delusions," New York Post, 2/15/08)

Obama Said He'd Provide Tax Relief For Working Families, But Voted For A Budget That Raises Taxes On Americans Earning As Little As $31,850:

Obama: "We could be fighting to put the American dream within reach for every American - by giving tax breaks to working families ..." (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks On Iraq And The Economy, Charleston, WV, 3/20/08)

Obama Voted In Favor Of The Democrats' FY 2009 Budget. "Adoption of the concurrent resolution that would set broad spending and revenue targets over the next five years. The resolution would allow up to $1 trillion in discretionary spending for 2009." (S. Con. Res. 70, CQ Vote #85: Adopted 51-44: R 2-43; D 47-1; I 2-0, 3/14/08, Obama Voted Yea)

The Democrats' Budget Would Raise Taxes On Individuals Earning As Little As $31,850. "Under both Democratic plans, tax rates would increase by 3 percentage points for each of the 25 percent, 28 percent and 33 percent brackets. At present, the 25 percent bracket begins at $31,850 for individuals and $63,700 for married couples. The 35 percent bracket on incomes over $349,700 would jump to 39.6 percent." (Andrew Taylor, "Presidential Hopefuls To Vote On Budget," The Associated Press, 3/13/08)

The Club For Growth's Andrew Roth Notes The Budget Would Result In "The Largest Tax Hike In U.S. History." "The Democrats' FY09 budget does not extend the Bush tax cuts. As a result, Americans are set to be hammered with the largest tax hike in U.S. history." (Andrew Roth, "Tax Hike Impact By Congressional District," The Club For Growth's "Club For Growth" Blog, www.clubforgrowth.org, 3/12/08)


Obama's Liberal Spending "Suggests A Lack Of Seriousness In Confronting The Nation's Fiscal Condition":

"Hillary Clinton And Barack Obama Champion Fiscal Responsibility On The Campaign Trail, But Both Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Are Promising Massive New Spending Without Providing Details On How They'd Pay For It." (Kevin G. Hall and Margaret Talev, "Clinton, Obama Ignore Budget Crisis, Promise Billions," McClatchy Newspapers, 2/22/08)

USA Today: "[C]linton and Obama both offer a long list of new spending proposals that suggests a lack of seriousness in confronting the nation's fiscal condition. Obama has received more criticism, perhaps deservedly so, because his list is somewhat longer." (Editorial, "Democrats Promise A Lot, But Who Will Pay The Bill?" USA Today, 2/25/08)

Robert Bixby, Executive Director Of The Concord Coalition, A Budget Watchdog Organization: "I couldn't help but think, 'Where is he [Obama] going to get the money to pay for these things?'" (Kevin G. Hall and Margaret Talev, "Clinton, Obama Ignore Budget Crisis, Promise Billions," McClatchy Newspapers, 2/22/08)

NOTE: Obama Claims He's Fiscally Conservative. Obama: "I am a progressive, but I always tell people that if you're a progressive you should be fiscally even more conservative than the so-called conservatives. ... The reason is, there are a lot of needs where we need to spend money, so we can't afford to waste money on stuff that we don't need." (April Castro, "Obama Touts Conservative Spending Approach," The Associated Press, 2/28/08)


Obama's Plan To Alleviate The Mortgage Crisis Has Been Criticized By Economists And Industry Experts:

"Among The Proposals To Rescue Distressed Borrowers, The Obama Plan Was Singled Out For Criticism By Financial Industry Experts." (Jessica Holzer, "Major Bailout Is Unlikely On Sub-Prime Mortgages," The Hill, 9/4/07)

Obama Supports Creating A Mortgage "Bailout Fund." "[S]en. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who is vying with Clinton for their party's presidential nomination, advocated fining unscrupulous lenders to partially pay for a bailout fund for distressed borrowers." (Jessica Holzer, "Major Bailout Is Unlikely On Sub-Prime Mortgages," The Hill, 9/4/07)

"Opponents Argue That Bailouts Send The Wrong Message To Recipients And Do Nothing To Discourage Future Irresponsible Behavior." (Robert Schroeder, "Should Washington Come To Aid Of Troubled Borrowers?" Dow Jones' MarketWatch, 8/31/07)
"Economists Question Whether Obama's $10-Billion 'Foreclosure Prevention Fund' Would Cover The Thousands Of Americans Who Already Have Lost Homes And The Thousands More Who Are In Danger." (Stephen Braun, Nicholas Riccardi and Maria La Ganga, "Rivals Differ On Foreclosure Cure," Los Angeles Times, 2/21/08)
Obama Said Fining Lenders Would Only "Partially" Cover The Cost Of His $10 Billion Bailout Fund - So Do Taxpayers Have To Pay The Rest?

Obama: "We can partially pay for this fund by imposing penalties on lenders that acted irresponsibly or committed fraud." (Sen. Barack Obama, Op-Ed, "Fine Unscrupulous Mortgage Lenders," Financial Times [London, UK], 8/29/07)

Both Clinton's And Obama's Mortgage Proposals Would Place "Some Added Burden On Taxpayers." "On the housing front, both candidates have put forward proposals that would put at least some added burden on taxpayers." (Nick Timiraos, "Candidates Differ On Housing," The Wall Street Journal, 2/20/08)


Obama Wants Larger Government Role In Free Market Economy:

Obama Said "We've Depended On Government Action To ... Make The Market Work Better." Obama: "[W]e have a tendency to take our free-market system as a given, to assume that it flows naturally from the laws of supply and demand and Adam Smith's invisible hand. ... And although the benefits of our free-market system have mostly derived from the individual efforts of generations of men and women pursuing their own vision of happiness, in each and every period of great economic upheaval and transition we've depended on government action to open up opportunity, encourage competition, and make the market work better." (Barack Obama, The Audacity Of Hope, 2006, p. 150)

Obama: "But our history should give us confidence that we don't have to choose between an oppressive, government-run economy and a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism. ... What might such a new economic consensus look like? ... [W]e can begin to modernize and rebuild the social contract that FDR first stitched together in the middle of the last century." (Barack Obama, The Audacity Of Hope, 2006, pp. 158-159)


Obama Received A "Perfect Liberal Score" On Economic Issues From The National Journal:

"In 2006, [Obama] Was One Of 13 Senate Democrats With A Perfect Liberal Score On Economic Issues." (Richard E. Cohen, "Left To Right," National Journal, 3/3/07)

Obama Gets Poor Marks From Tax, Spending And Business Interest Groups:

Americans For Tax Reform Gave Obama A Lifetime Rating Of 7.5 Out Of 100. (Americans For Tax Reform Website, www.atr.org, Accessed 1/29/08)

Citizens Against Government Waste Gave Obama A Lifetime Rating Of 22 Out Of 100. (Citizens Against Government Waste, "CCAGW Challenges Presidential Candidates On Earmarks," Press Release, 12/27/07)

The National Taxpayers Union Gave Obama A Grade Of "F" For His Fiscal Voting Record. (National Taxpayers Union Website, www.ntu.org, Accessed 9/25/07)

The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Gave Obama A 55 Percent Rating In 2006. (U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Website, www.uschamber.com, Accessed 9/17/07)
And here is the rest of it.
...Read more!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

McCain Versus the Pork Addicts

By Robert Novak.

WASHINGTON -- The congressional Republican establishment's charade, pretending to crack down on spending earmarks while actually preserving their uncontrolled addiction to pork, faces embarrassment this week when the Democratic-designed budget is brought to the Senate floor. The party's presidential nominee-presumptive, Sen. John McCain, is an uncompromising pork buster with no use for the evasions by Republican addicts on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Jim DeMint, a first-term reform Republican from South Carolina, will propose a no-loopholes one-year moratorium on earmarks as a budget amendment. McCain has announced his support for the DeMint amendment and will co-sponsor it. DeMint wants to coordinate McCain's visits from the campaign trail to the Senate floor so the candidate can be there to speak for and vote for the moratorium.

The irony could hardly be greater. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, an ardent earmarker, is smart enough politically to realize how unpopular the practice is with the Republican base. Consequently, McConnell combines anti-earmark rhetoric with evasive tactics to save pork. But McCain, surely not the presidential candidate that McConnell wanted, is leading his party with a pledge to veto any bill containing earmarks. McConnell is running for re-election from Kentucky bragging about the pork he has brought the state.

Read the rest of the article here. ...Read more!

Barack Obama on Iraq - Change You Can Count On.

Where Does Obama Stand After Several Years Of Contradictory Statements And Failed Leadership On Iraq?


Today, Obama Is Scheduled To Give A Speech On The Fifth Anniversary Of The Iraq War:

"[W]ednesday, March 19, 2008, Five Years After The Iraq War Began, Sen. Barack Obama Will Deliver A Major Speech On The War In Iraq And Our National Security In Fayetteville, N.C." (Ben Smith, "Moving On From Race," The Politico's "Ben Smith's Blog," www.politico.com, 3/18/08)


Obama Introduced Iraq Withdrawal Legislation, Then Warned That Insurgents Would Wait Us Out:

"[O]nly After Mr. Obama Opened A Presidential Exploratory Committee Did He Introduce Legislation To Withdraw American Combat Brigades From Iraq By March 31, 2008." (Jeff Zeleny, "As Candidate, Obama Carves Antiwar Stance," The New York Times, 2/26/07; S. 433, Introduced 1/30/07)

At The Same Time That He Supported Withdrawal, Obama Warned That Iraqi Insurgents Would Just "Lie Low" Until American Troops Leave. Obama: "What the militias are essentially doing is they've just pulled back. They've said as long as there's these increased troop presence, we'll lie low, we'll wait it out. As soon as the Americans start leaving and redeploying into other areas, we will come back in..." (CNN's "Larry King Live," 3/19/07)


Obama Warned Against A "Precipitous Withdrawal ... Driven By Congressional Edict":

Obama Warned Against A "Precipitous Withdrawal ... Driven By Congressional Edict." Obama: "[H]aving visited Iraq, I'm also acutely aware that a precipitous withdrawal of our troops, driven by Congressional edict rather than the realities on the ground, will not undo the mistakes ... It could compound them. It could compound them by plunging Iraq into an even deeper and, perhaps, irreparable crisis." (Sen. Barack Obama, Congressional Record, 6/21/06, p. S6233)

Obama: "A Hard And Fast, Arbitrary Deadline For Withdrawal Offers Our Commanders In The Field, And Our Diplomats In The Region, Insufficient Flexibility To Implement That Strategy." (Sen. Barack Obama, Congressional Record, 6/21/06, p. S6233)


11 Months After Being Elected To The Senate, Obama Gave His First Major Foreign Policy Speech On Iraq, Which Repeated Ideas Already Voiced By Other Democrats:

"[Obama] Campaigned Strongly Against The War In His Bid For The Senate In 2004, But When He Arrived In Washington He Waited 11 Months To Deliver A Major Speech On Iraq." (Jeff Zeleny, "As Candidate, Obama Carves Antiwar Stance," The New York Times, 2/26/07)

Obama's First Major Address On Iraq Repeated Ideas Already Voiced By Other Democrats. "In his campaign, Obama forcefully opposed the war, yet it wasn't until late November that he delivered his first major Iraq policy address. And by the time he reached the lectern at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, other Democrats already had articulated many of the same ideas about not immediately withdrawing troops from Iraq." (Jeff Zeleny, "The First Time Around," Chicago Tribune, 12/25/05)


Obama Said He Did Not Know How He Would Have Voted On The Iraq War And Claimed There Was "Not Much Of A Difference" Between His Position And The President's Position:

Obama Said He Didn't Know How He Would Have Voted On The Iraq War Resolution. "In a recent interview, [Obama] declined to criticize Senators Kerry and Edwards for voting to authorize the war, although he said he would not have done the same based on the information he had at the time. 'But, I'm not privy to Senate intelligence reports,' Mr. Obama said. 'What would I have done? I don't know. What I know is that from my vantage point the case was not made.'" (Monica Davey, "A Surprise Senate Contender Reaches His Biggest Stage Yet," The New York Times, 7/26/04)

Obama Said There Was Not Much Of A Difference Between His Position And The President's Position On Iraq. "'On Iraq, on paper, there's not as much difference, I think, between the Bush administration and a Kerry administration as there would have been a year ago,' Obama said. 'There's not much of a difference between my position and George Bush's position at this stage.'" (John Kass, "Obama's A Star Who Doesn't Stick To The Script," Chicago Tribune, 7/27/04)


Obama Said He Would Have Opposed Funding For The War If He Were In The Senate:

Obama: "Just this week, when I was asked, would I have voted for the $87 billion, I said no. And I said no unequivocally, because, at a certain point, we have to say no to George Bush. If we keep on getting steamrolled, we are not going to stand a chance." (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks To The New Trier Democratic Organization, 11/16/03)


Obama Calculated The Political Risks Of Opposing The War, Then Gave A Speech In Line With A Key Constituency:

Obama Considered The Political Implications Before Deciding To Publically Oppose The War. "Moreover, even [Obama's former campaign manager Dan] Shomon concedes that Obama discussed the politics of his speech beforehand. 'what about the people that are for the war?' Obama asked him. 'Am I gonna have damage politically?'" (Michael Crowley, "Cinderella Story," The New Republic, 2/27/08)

Obama's Anti-War Views Were In Line With The Liberal Voting Block He Needed To Support His 2004 Senate Run. "With war looming in the fall of 2002, Obama was preparing a long-shot run for an open U.S. Senate seat ... Obama's best shot at the Democratic nomination involved consolidating a coalition of lakefront liberals and African Americans. ... [T]hough it may have been unpopular to oppose the war in Washington, that was not the case among liberals in Chicago-- among the first cities to pass an antiwar resolution." (Michael Crowley, "Cinderella Story," The New Republic, 2/27/08) . ...Read more!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Obama A Uniter?

In Case You Missed It: Obama: A Thin Record For A Bridge Builder

From The Washington Post

By David Ignatius
March 2, 2008

Hillary Clinton has been trying to make a point about Barack Obama that deserves one last careful look before Tuesday's probably decisive Democratic primaries: If Obama truly intends to unite America across party lines and break the Washington logjam, then why has he shown so little interest or aptitude for the hard work of bipartisan government?

This is the real "Where's the beef?" about Obama, and it still doesn't have a good answer. ...

But for voters to feel confident that he can achieve this transformation should he become president, they would need evidence that he has fought and won similar battles. The record here, to put it mildly, is thin.

What I hear from politicians who have worked with Obama, both in Illinois state politics and here in Washington, gives me pause. They describe someone with an extraordinary ability to work across racial lines but not someone who has earned any profiles in courage for standing up to special interests or divisive party activists. ...

[H]e also gained a reputation for skipping tough votes. The most famous example was a key gun control vote that he missed in December 1999 because he was vacationing in Hawaii. The Chicago Tribune blasted him and several other vote-skippers as "gutless." One Chicago pol says that "the myth developed that when there was a tough vote, he was gone." ...

[W]hat stands out in his brief Senate career is his liberal voting record, not a history of fighting across party lines to get legislation passed. He wasn't part of the 2005 Gang of 14 bipartisan coalition that sought to break the logjam on judicial nominations, but neither were Clinton or other prominent Democrats. ...

[O]bama bears no obvious political scars for fighting bipartisan battles that were unpopular with his party's base.

"The authentic Barack Obama? We just don't know. The level of uncertainty is too high," one Democratic senator told me last week. He noted that Obama hasn't been involved in any "transformative battles" where he might anger any of the party's interest groups. "If his voting record in the past is the real Barack Obama, then there isn't going to be any bipartisanship," this senator cautioned. ...

To View The Entire Article, Please Visit: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/29/AR2008022902784.html ...Read more!