December 10, 2019

Give Americans a Chance to Vote for Congress and the President on Different Days

votingPresident Trump continues to draw enormous crowds at rallies across America’s heartland even as Nancy Pelosi’s House Democrats continue to move towards impeachment. National polls show all the leading Democratic candidates extending their leads over Trump, but national polls can be misleading. The U.S. doesn’t hold a national election and Trump remains extremely popular with his base. Despite the Democrats’ leads in the polls, another recent survey found that a majority of Americans believe Trump will be reelected.

However the election turns out, a large portion of America is going to be very angry.

It would seem our system of government isn’t working for the vast majority of Americans, most of whom identify as either conservative or liberal, if not Republican or Democrat. The right is enraged the Democrats are trying to overturn the results of the 2016 election, as they see it, while the left is enraged – well, Trump just seems to enrage them, period, no matter what he does.

Unfortunately, neither of America’s largest political tribes seems able to conceive of stripping the federal government of any of the enormous power it holds, most of which is arguably illegitimate per a strict reading of the Constitution, past SCOTUS rubber stamp decisions notwithstanding. The left has suggested eliminating the Electoral College and packing the Supreme Court with progressive-minded judges, both moves which would result in even more concentrated power in Washington. Meanwhile the right has lined up behind Trump’s use of flimsy “national emergency” reasoning to usurp everything from war powers to gun control to tariffs from Congress.

So, if the political acrimony can’t be diminished by reducing the power of the federal government and major constitutional changes are unlikely to succeed, what can Americans do besides go on hating each other until something worse than Twitter rants become the norm?

One answer may be to make it easier for Americans to get what their voting patterns consistently say they want: gridlock.

Nonstop anger has been a constant in American political life for this entire century. But if you ask most Americans what the opposing political party has actually done that has offended them, there are only a handful of concrete answers.

For the left, it was the Iraq War, the Patriot Act and tax cuts during the Bush administration; for the right, Obamacare more than anything else during Obama’s reign. President Trump hasn’t really signed any significant new legislation besides the 2017 tax reform. That and his handling of immigration under existing law are probably the only two concrete things Democrats could come up with for why they hate him so. The rest is just personality politics.

All these successful bills over which Americans have vehemently disagreed in recent decades share one thing in common – they were all passed when one party held the White House and both houses of Congress. And except for the 2002 and 2004 elections, while America was still in hunker down mode after the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks, American voters consistently have reacted by taking away at least one house of Congress from the party holding the White House.

Contrary to what the media constantly tell us or what the hardcore minority bases in either party might say, the American electorate as a whole seems to prefer gridlock to Congress “getting something done.”‘

Congress already possesses the power to override state election laws, “except as to the Places of chusing Senators.” Congress asserted this power in 1845 to mandate all states hold presidential elections “the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.” It subsequently designated the same day for House and Senate elections.

Congress should reverse the latter statutes and mandate the opposite – that congressional elections must be held on a different day from presidential elections. If a constitutional amendment could succeed making that mandate even harder to overturn, so much the better.

Holding presidential and congressional elections on different days would allow voters to avoid playing “Washington Roulette” – voting for the president and Congress all at once and hoping there isn’t a one-party-sweep bullet in this years’ electoral chamber. Certainly, Americans could still elect one party to the White House and both Houses of Congress if they wanted. But recent electoral history suggests they wouldn’t if they could help it. And had separate elections been the rule for the past forty years, the legislation most unpopular with one side or the other might never have been passed.

“Get out the vote” proponents would complain that making Americans show up at the polls twice would reduce voter turnout, but that just begs the question of whether capturing the votes of those who would pass merely based on convenience really results in better elected officials. It would also likely be argued that separate elections would harm lower income earners who might not have the flexibility to get off from work to vote. That can easily be overcome with expanded polling hours.

What get-out-the-voters are really worried about is exposing how few Americans really care about federal elections. Most Americans already skip the midterms and only a slim majority vote in most presidential elections. Holding the presidential and Congressional elections on separate days would probably lower turnout for both and quell the perennial talk of a “mandate” from any one election for either party. That would be a bonus.

Americans have nothing to lose and everything to gain by holding their presidential and congressional elections on different days. Before taking drastic steps everyone will eventually regret, they should try this minor adjustment and observe the results. There is no better way to return “power to the people” than by giving them the option to impose gridlock on the federal government at their discretion.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

21 Months Later, Nothing in DC Has Changed Under Trump

Publication1Despite 21 straight months of screaming headlines from both anti-Trump and pro-Trump media, virtually nothing about Washington, DC and it’s empire has changed.

There are still US troops and their suppliers voraciously consuming taxes all over the world. Not a single regulatory agency has been eliminated or significantly cut. Entitlements continue their headlong sprint towards fiscal oblivion. And federal spending continues to outpace inflation, faster under Republicans, as usual.

And honestly, neither Republicans nor Democrats voted against any of that.

Trump was able to win the 2016 election not because he was going to radically change Washington, DC, but because he was going to superficially change its marketing from “progressive” to “conservative.” To be fair, he never promised to cut anything. On the contrary, he promised not to touch Social Security or Medicare and to increase spending on the military. He’s kept both promises.

He did promise to eliminate two regulations for every new one, but that is a very vague promise. Suppose there was one regulation that said all construction workers had to wear hard hats and another regulation that said they all had to wear safety googles. Repealing both regulations and replacing them with one that says, “All construction workers must wear hard hats and safety goggles” is perfectly consistent with Trump’s promise. Is that what his regulators are doing? It’s hard to tell. It appears the federal register is smaller, but is the economy fundamentally less regulated? What happened to getting rid of whole federal departments, as Republicans promised to do just six years ago?

The truth is the so-called Swamp continues because most Americans don’t really want to drain it, despite overwhelming evidence that everything it does creates large-scale human misery. Just ask any ten neighbors if they’d support cutting Social Security or Medicare, much less eliminating either, or cutting the military by even 30% (which would still leave it by far the largest in the world). Ask them if they’d support getting rid of the Departments of Education, Agriculture, or even the completely useless Department of Commerce.

When push comes to shove, they won’t even support getting rid of the TSA, which is Oh-fer in seventeen years on preventing actual terrorist attacks and still has a well over 90% fail rate in detecting dangerous items on its own tests. That’s not to mention the nightmarish surveillance state, five years after Edward Snowden exposed it. Americans are only upset about it when it spies on politicians – a completely backwards position in a supposedly free country.

The mid-term elections are approaching and the usual “this is the last chance to save the republic” rhetoric is already reaching a fever pitch. In reality, nothing about the republic has changed or will change until a critical mass of Americans truly want less government. Right now, that’s hard to imagine considering who wins elections.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Progressives Sink to New Low Using Teenagers as Political Pawns for Gun Control

Picture3Just when you thought the left-wing totalitarians among us couldn’t sink any lower, they have. Not content to simply exploit the tragedy of school shootings in the third person, they have now recruited teenage survivors to organize themselves as a political special interest group, demanding hundreds of millions of innocent people be forced to their will.

Shame on their parents for allowing children who have no experience yet in the real world – and no, being shot at in those soft-target prisons known as “public schools” is not the real world – to be used as political pawns by people who don’t care about them one bit.

The media lionizing these misinformed adolescents – as well as whoever is encouraging and/or funding this latest propaganda effort – are hoping no one would dare dispute the word of “the children” who survived the tragedy. I hope they’re wrong.

The answer should be some tough love to the little darlings, along these lines:

“Listen you little brats. I’m sorry you were exposed to this terrible tragedy and lost friends and loved ones. And I’m glad you survived. But none of that gives you the right to “demand” the rights of hundreds of millions of innocent people be violated, leaving them more vulnerable to precisely the kind of tragedy you just experienced.

Get back to us after you’ve paid taxes for a few years, rather than consumed them. And if you’re going to demand anything, demand your parents pull you out of the Progressive Brainwashing Centers that have skewed your thinking so badly and almost got you killed.”

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

An Extended Tax Reform Debate Will Subject Us to the Usual Absurdities

liarJohn McCain’s confirmation he’d vote against the House tax reform bill as currently proposed means Republicans won’t be able to lower taxes – for some people – nearly as quickly as most of them want to. In all, three Republican senators have indicated their unwillingness to vote for the plan, meaning Republicans would need Democratic votes to get it through.

As Democratic support is unlikely, the American public will have to endure several weeks or months of grandstanding, proposed amendments, and further neutering of any real benefit to taxpayers. The worst thing about these rituals is they are always largely a debate over absurdities. Here are just a few of the perennial favorites.

Over Ten Years

Both sides of any tax and spending debate use the “over ten years” canard. Those politicians claiming their plan will “balance the budget” claim their bill will do so in ten years, always after increasing spending this year. Those opposing the same plan will pick out spending lines they don’t like, whether increases, decreases, or new spending, and use the ten-year canard to make the impact seem bigger than it is.

For example, if Republicans proposed cutting $100 billion from domestic spending (a mere 2.5% of the overall federal budget), Democrats would wail Republicans were depriving the public of $1 trillion of desperately needed services. Republicans would claim they were saving taxpayers $1 trillion. Neither side would acknowledge the $1 trillion is a rather small percentage of the ten-year federal budget.

In reality, Congress has no power to pass any bill that can’t be changed in as little as two years. Spending bills are debated every year. So, anything politicians say and the media parrot regarding a spending bill’s effects over the next ten years is largely hot air. All that really matters is what their proposals will do next year. And that news is virtually never good.

Read the rest at Foundation for Economic Education…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Newsweek: Trump’s Tax Reform is Aimed at Punishing Democratic Voters

dmoe votersOn October 19, Republicans passed the first $4 trillion federal budget in U.S. history, a version of which narrowly passed the House on Thursday.

At $4.1 trillion, the budget represents an approximately 5 percent increase in spending over the last fiscal year of the Obama administration and sets the stage for President Trump to do what every GOP president has done since WWII: increase spending far more than did his Democratic predecessor.

Simple arithmetic will tell you that if spending increases, either taxes or deficits must increase, too. But although the GOP has been happy to let deficits explode in the past, they will have a harder time defending them this time around after their eight-year assault on Obama’s deficits, which increased debt from $10 trillion to $20 trillion.

Therefore, Republicans are going to have to raise taxes to avoid bigger deficits.

They have set out to do exactly that to their political opponents while cutting taxes for their supporters.

All of this makes their current narrative about eliminating the state and local deduction from federal tax liability especially unseemly.

They claim the deductions force low tax states to subsidize high tax states like California, but that’s not true. California and New York pay more in federal taxes than they reap in federal benefits.

That isn’t to defend the egregious taxation in states like New York. But as Republicans love to remind us, the wealthiest 20 percent of Americans pay most of the income taxes and most of those people live in blue states Republicans are targeting for effective tax hikes.

Read the rest in Newsweek…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Big-Spending Republicans Seek Tax Hikes on Blue States

taxincreasesignTen days ago, Republicans passed the first $4 trillion federal budget in U.S. history, a version of which narrowly passed the House on Thursday. At $4.1 trillion, the budget represents an approximately 5% increase in spending over the last fiscal year of the Obama administration and sets the stage for President Trump to do what every GOP president has done since WWII: increase spending far more than did his Democratic predecessor.

A History of Spending Increases

Simple arithmetic will tell you that if spending increases, either taxes or deficits must increase, too. But although the GOP has been happy to let deficits explode in the past, they will have a harder time defending them this time around after their eight-year assault on Obama’s deficits, which increased debt from $10 trillion to $20 trillion.

Therefore, Republicans are going to have to raise taxes to avoid bigger deficits. They have set out to do exactly that to their political opponents while cutting taxes for their supporters. All of this makes their current narrative about eliminating the state and local deduction from federal tax liability especially unseemly. They claim the deductions force low tax states to subsidize high tax states like California, but that’s not true. California and New York pay more in federal taxes than they reap in federal benefits.

That isn’t to defend the egregious taxation in states like New York. But as Republicans love to remind us, the wealthiest 20% of Americans pay most of the income taxes and most of those people live in blue states Republicans are targeting for effective tax hikes. To raise spending by $200 billion and then claim the moral high ground based on fake news is exasperating even by Washington’s standards.

Read the rest at Foundation for Economic Education…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Newsweek: As Congress and Trump Grind to a Halt, the Government Rumbles On

gettyimages-642093036 Newsweek

Donald Trump in the East Room at the White House on February 16, 2017 in Washington, DC.MARIO TAMA/GETTY

President Trump spent the weekend embroiled in yet another Twitter skirmish, this time with retiring Republican Senator Bob Corker. Trump may even have suffered a rare defeat on his own turf, based on Corker’s hilarious rejoinder about someone missing their daycare shift at the White House. If Trump has a soul, even he laughed at that one.

But many blame this kind of drama as a major contributing reason to Trump “not getting anything done” so far during the first year of his presidency. Even those on the blood-in-their-eyes, Trump-hating left make this criticism. One would think they’d be glad he’s not getting anything done, but apparently, a government not doing anything is even worse for them than one doing things they don’t like.

If only “not getting anything done” were true. The Pentagon goes on waging war, uninterrupted by elections, supposed gridlock, or even “government shutdowns.” War has become the normal state, with “an act of Congress” required to stop it, rather than start it.

Domestically, all of Washington’s unconstitutional regulatory agencies have hummed along without pause. The FDA is still driving up prescription drug prices by keeping thousands of generics off the market. The TSA is still violating the 4th Amendment millions of times per day while virtually never discovering dangerous items brought on board, even during their own tests. And the Social Security Administration goes on cutting checks as if it didn’t have tens of trillions in unfunded liabilities.

Read the rest at Newsweek…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

How Long Can Americans Go on Hating the President and Each Other?

redandblueTrump Derangement Syndrome rages on, the latest symptoms flaring equally based on causes both legitimate and ridiculous. A key characteristic of the syndrome is its ability to evoke the same outrage over the president retweeting a harmless (and let’s admit it, funny) meme as threatening to destroy an entire nation. The breathless apoplexy over absolutely everything Trump-related, down to the shoes his wife wears while traveling, has desensitized Trump’s supporters to behavior even they should be concerned about.

It is true Trump has inspired new levels of hostility — even for politics — but Americans have been hating the president for this entire century, which is no longer in its infancy. Bush may not have been “literally Hitler,” but he was Hitler nonetheless to the Democrats, just as Obama was “literally Mao” to conservatives. But the proud American tradition of hurling invectives at the president isn’t nearly as ominous as the trend towards violence. Both the right and the left have mobilized armed groups, not just carrying signs but ready for violence. In fact, violent resistance is the far-left Antifa’s stated raison d’etre.

US Government Power Has Never Been Higher

It isn’t that the three men who have held the office since 2001 are monsters. Anyone who paid attention when Bush, Obama, or even Trump was caught in a quiet moment “off the record” would have to admit that they seem like reasonably likable people. That’s the rub. Government makes nice people do terrible things, things even they themselves would have considered barbarous before taking office.

Unfortunately, most Americans do not bat an eye at the worst offenses committed by the presidency, namely the killing of millions in undeclared wars of choice with nations who have never attacked the United States. But Americans on both the right and the left are increasingly feeling the effects of ceding power over domestic affairs to Washington and the executive branch in particular. The stakes of presidential elections are much higher now that Washington doesn’t just regulate interstate commerce, but regulates the minute details of how businesses are run, how crops are grown, what local public schools teach and even what signs they put on their restrooms.

Read the rest at Foundation for Economic Education…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Trolling Bernie Sanders Part 1

I know. It’s a little like when Kramer was beating up those ten and twelve-year-old kids at his karate school on Seinfeld. But it’s just too hard to resist trolling the commie con man, if for no other reason than to expose him to his confused supporters. So, by popular demand, some highlights from my past few months trolling Bernie.

IMG_0798 IMG_0812 IMG_0814   IMG_0873 IMG_0901   IMG_0785 IMG_0796

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

It’s Time to Repeal and Replace the Republican Party

Gop slash 2President Trump attempted Friday to put a smiley face on the defeat of the American Health Care Act (ACHA), known to its opponents as “Obamacare Light.” From his perspective, the failure to secure enough Republican votes to pass the AHCA will lead to a “better bill” in the long run, because that future bill will have bipartisan support. The president did not elaborate on how the bill he envisions would be better or what about this bill, which he virtually threatened members of his own party to vote against, he didn’t like.

Opponents of the AHCA opposed it because it was too much like The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) itself. Trump’s comments beg the question for anyone hoping for less government in health care, rather than more: How exactly will participation by the Democratic Party make the next bill better?

It’s fair to say Trump is far from a typical Republican, especially on health care. He’s supported single payer government health insurance in the past, even as recently as his 2016 campaign. But what about the rest of the GOP? If the House of Representatives is any indication, merely tweaking and renaming Obamacare was a viable solution to what they have denounced for seven years as the first step down the slippery slope to socialism.

This is by no means an isolated incident in the GOP’s history. Despite running on reducing the size and influence of the federal government, Republican presidents and Congresses have consistently presided over more significant expansions than the Democrats. A look at historical data on federal outlays reveals that federal spending increases far more when a Republican is in the White House than under a Democrat, regardless of which party controls Congress.

Beginning with Nixon, federal spending has virtually doubled during the administrations of all three two-term Republican presidents. Even Eisenhower increased it fifty percent, despite two year-over-year cuts in 1954 and 1955, respectively, equaling the percentage increase under LBJ’s “Great Society” (although the latter was accomplished in one term). Spending increased far less under Democratic Presidents Clinton and Obama than under any post-war Republican president who served two terms. It seems unlikely that trend will change under President Trump, who has proposed $60 billion in increases to military and Homeland Security spending.

Republican rhetoric also typically includes “slashing” regulations on economic activity, but the reality rarely bears any resemblance to the rhetoric. Like many of his Republican predecessors, Eisenhower created an entire new department, Health, Education and Welfare, which paved the way for LBJ’s medical entitlements. Nixon created the EPA, which alone is responsible for some of the most stifling regulation on business. Reagan is widely credited for massive deregulation, but most of the meaningful deregulation was passed while Carter was president. George W. Bush’s only two meaningful economic policies were the economically destructive Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the TARP bailout.

Over the entire sixty-four years since 1953, voters truly interested in reducing the size and influence of the federal government have decried what have recently come to be called, “RINOs,” (Republicans-in-Name-Only). This is a term popularized during the Tea Party era to describe Republican politicians who run on shrinking the federal government, but who govern more like liberal Democrats once in office. If only a real Republican could be elected, say the grass roots, then the federal government would finally be brought back within its constitutional limits.

But when have these “real Republicans” ever existed? Once upon a time? If one goes back to its founding in 1854, the Republican Party was the big government party. By 1860, the platform included all the familiar big government planks from its predecessors, the Whigs and the Federalists. And spend big they did, particularly on railroads and other infrastructure, in addition to raising protectionist tariffs.

It wasn’t until Woodrow Wilson and the new Democratic Party leapfrogged the Republicans in terms of big government that Republicans even campaigned on shrinking the federal government, which wasn’t exactly a radical idea following the spending and regulation ramp-up during the largest war in human history to that point. Evidently, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge are the only “real Republicans” to have ever occupied the White House. And let’s not forget that both merely returned policy to that of their 19th century Republican predecessors. Harding and Coolidge praised Alexander Hamilton’s economic policies and governed accordingly.

Considering the present Republican administration, there has never been a better time for those truly interested in smaller government to confront reality: the ninety percent of Republican Congressman who would have voted for the AHCA are the real Republicans. They represent what the Republican Party has been about for the entire 163 years of its existence: big government conservatism.

It’s time to repeal the GOP and replace it with a party truly committed to less government, free markets and a peaceful foreign policy. While the numbers associated with third parties are not encouraging, one cannot ignore the vast potential represented by that half of the electorate who don’t vote at all. Together with the large number of Republican and Democratic voters who “hold their noses” and vote for the lesser of two evils, a new party formed from the Libertarian, Constitutional and Reform Parties, marketed to disaffected non-voters, could represent a viable alternative.

At this point, what could those seeking smaller, less intrusive government possibly have to lose?

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.