April 1, 2009
Earlier this evening, I participated in another conference call* with Congressman Bob Goodlatte, along with Jim Hoeft (who recorded it for a podcast at Bearing Drift), K.D. Weeks, and Leslie Carbone. The main topic, of course, was what the Republicans in Congress are doing to resist the Obama administration's massive spending binge, and various shady schemes such as "cap and trade." I was encouraged that the House GOP caucus is very active in formulating a coordinated response to the Democrats, letting people know that there is an alternative to Big Government. But whether in this "honeymoon" period most Americans are of a mindset to think carefully about the long-term implications of the choices being decided right now is another matter.
As usual, I asked the Congressman a question that was very hard to answer: Which of the various initiatives being introduced by President Obama is considered by Republicans to be the most menacing? Goodlatte thought about it and replied that it was the enormous level of spending and borrowing. He did mention in particular the threat posed to our economy by Obama's health care proposals, which could lead to a diminished quality and promptness of medical services, force small businesses to shut down, bust the budget, or all of the above. For example, the SCHIP program (see Jan. 28) was obviously created as a first step toward broader federal government involvement in health care, which has been the Democrats' objective all along. Goodlatte hopes that the (relatively) conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats might be persuaded into offering a compromise measure on health care that would avoid the European-style hellish bureaucracy, but some legislators in that faction are less conservative than others. It is going to take a lot of behind-the-scenes negotiation and public consciousness-raising to prevent President Obama's most egregious proposals from being enacted, so as to preserve what is left of our free enterprise system.
* I was part of a similar conference call in February, when Congressman Goodlatte introduced the "Tax Code Termination Act."
President Barack Obama and First Lady arrived in London for the G-20 summit, their first appearance on the world stage. Image counts above all in politics, and we should at least be thankful that our First Couple have the charisma to beguile a "global community" that was until recently very hostile to the United States. Whether the smiles and admiration will translate into greater cooperation with the U.S. government is not yet known. The Obamas were introduced to Queen Elizabeth, presenting her with an iPod (!!!), but somehow I doubt that Her Majesty would find such a device useful. The BBC reports that London is catching "Michelle Obama fever," with frequent comparisons to Jack and Jacqueline Kennedy. Perhaps the Obamas will visit the countryside around Avon, where the legendary Kingdom of Camelot was supposed to have been...
There is much more serious business to attend to, of course, such as trying to reach an agreement on a coordinated global response to the recession. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have stoutly resisted Obama's push for a big increase in "stimulus" spending, to their great credit. Even the Russian media has poked fun at the U.S. government for its spendthrift ways, and in a cartoon image, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was gaily tossing dollar bills in the air.
Richard Viguerie was spreading a rumor that Ron Paul has replaced Michael Steele as Chairman of the Republican National Committee, but of course it's just an April Fool's joke.