'Rule of Rulers' – Coburn: 2013, Most Unproductive, Damaging

Editor’s Note – The author of the following article in the Wall Street Journal, Tom Coburn, is a Republican Senator from Oklahoma and is most famous for his annual “Waste Book.” Along with his focus on government waste, fraud, and abuse, he highlights other major negative issues that happened in 2013 here.

SUA agrees with Coburn that 2013 is perhaps not only the least productive year in government in recent memory, but we add that it may also be the most damaging to America since 1913, the year of the Income Tax, the Federal Reserve, and changing the method for choosing Senators by popular vote. (Amendments 16 and 17)

Of these, it is the opinion of SUA that besides the Obama administration’s ‘rule of rulers’ tactics that circumvent the Constitution and Congress, and the ObamaCare lies and fraud, the next worse issue was the complete failure of Congress and its abysmal approval rating in 2013. However, it is disingenuous of the media to constantly group all in Congress as a monolithic bloc upon which the low approval rating is discussed or polled. Why?, because Congress has been reduced to a one man show – the Harry Reid Show.

Harry Reid wields his "Iron Fist" control over America's legislative needs. The "Rule of Rulers"!
Harry Reid wields his “Iron Fist” control over America’s legislative needs. The “Rule of Rulers”!

No matter your political stripe, Harry Reid surpasses Obama in singularly ruling America with an iron fist. If a more scientific poll were performed, one conducted on each house of Congress separately, and by the individual in both, the picture would be stark. The left can talk about the Tea Party Caucus as if it were an alien being, and blame the Republicans for everything because of them, but the actual troll at the bridge has been, and continues to be, Harry Reid.

Painting all of Congress with a broad brush is a favorite talking point of Obama, and his willing minions do not care that he includes his supporters in his invective words. They will say and do anything for their ideological goals and control freak nature – all at the peril of “We the People” and our Republic. By lumping them as one, they achieve success with their misconception, misinformation, and demagogic tactics to confuse you the American citizen into believing their tripe.

Please read on and comment below:

Tom Coburn: The Year Washington Fled Reality

‘Message discipline’ can win elections but is not a healthy way to run a country.

By Tom Coburn –WSJ Online

The past year may go down not only as the least productive ever in Washington but as one of the worst for the republic.

While the Senate debates the bipartisan budget plan, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a longtime deficit hawk, outlines his annual “Wastebook,” which points a critical finger at billions of dollars in questionable government spending, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
While the Senate debates the bipartisan budget plan, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a longtime deficit hawk, outlines his annual “Wastebook,” which points a critical finger at billions of dollars in questionable government spending, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In both the executive branch and Congress, Americans witnessed an unwinding of the country’s founding principles and of their government’s most basic responsibilities.

The rule of law gave way to the rule of rulers. And the rule of reality—in which politicians are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts, as Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan liked to say—gave way to some politicians’ belief that they were entitled to both their own opinions and their own facts. It’s no wonder the institutions of government barely function.

On health care, President Obama oversaw a disastrous and, sadly, dishonest launch of his signature achievement. The president gave an exception to employers, but not to individuals, without any legal basis, and made other adjustments according to his whim. Even more troubling was his message over the past three years that if you like your plan, you can keep it, and that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. We now know that the administration was aware that these claims were false, yet Mr. Obama continued to make them, repeatedly.

In 2014, millions of Americans will likely discover that the president’s claim that the average family will save $2,500 on health insurance was equally disconnected from reality.

The president apologized in part for his statements, but his actions reveal the extent to which he has conformed to, rather than challenged, the political culture that as a presidential candidate he vowed to reform.

The culture that Mr. Obama campaigned against, the old kind of politics, teaches politicians that repetition and “message discipline”—never straying from using the same slogans and talking points—can create reality, regardless of the facts. Message discipline works if the goal is to win an election or achieve a short-term political goal. But saying that something is true doesn’t make it so. When a misleading message ultimately clashes with reality, the result is dissonance and conflict. In a republic, deception is destructive. Without truth there can be no trust. Without trust there can be no consent. And without consent we invite paralysis, if not chaos.

Taking unilateral, extralegal action—like delaying the employer mandate for a year when Mr. Obama realized the trouble it would cause for businesses—is part of a pattern for this administration. Immigration and border-security laws that might displease certain constituencies if enforced? Ignore the laws. Unhappy that a deep-water drilling moratorium was struck down in court? Reimpose it anyway. Internal Revenue Service agents using the power of the state to harass political enemies? Deny and then stonewall. Unhappy with the pace of Senate confirmations for nominees? Ignore the Constitution and appoint people anyway and claim that the Senate is not in session.

The Obama administration hardly has a monopoly on contributing to Washington’s dysfunction. Congress more than earned its 6% national approval rating, a historic low.

Congress’s most significant action this year was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision to undo 200 years of precedent that requires a supermajority to change Senate rules. To speed the approval of executive appointments and judicial nominations, Sen. Reid resorted to raw political power, forcing a vote (52-48) that allows the Senate majority to change the rules whenever it wants. In a republic, if majorities can change laws or rules however they please, you’re on the road to life with no rules and no laws.

The supermajority safeguard that prevented senators from destroying the institution in which they serve is now largely gone. Gone also are members of the majority who understood the need to protect minority rights. There are no more Robert Byrds to quote Cicero, who said, “In a republic this rule ought to be observed: that the majority should not have the predominant power.”

Instead, we have a majority leader who has appointed himself a Rules Committee of one. Referring to the right of the minority to offer changes to bills under consideration, Mr. Reid said: “The amendment days are over.” Like President Obama, Mr. Reid is great at message discipline but weak on the rule of law and reality. His narrative about Republican obstruction of appointees is a diversion from his own war against minority rights. Even before his wrecking of the supermajority tradition, Mr. Reid had already used Senate rules to cut off debate and prevent the minority from offering amendments 78 times—more than all other Senate majority leaders combined.

On the budget, Democrats and Republicans alike are celebrating the avoidance of another nihilistic government shutdown as a great victory. The choice to not commit mass political suicide may be a step toward sanity, but it isn’t reform. Solving the problem—fixing entitlements, reforming the tax code and consolidating the government’s $200 billion in duplicative spending—would be reform. Yet as my annual Wastebook report showed, even in this year of budget-sequestration anguish, the federal government still managed to fund the study of romance novels, provide military benefits to the Fort Hood shooter and even help the State Department buy itself Facebook FB +0.97% fans.

If Congress wants to get serious, and be taken seriously, it can start by doing its job. It can debate and pass individual appropriations bills—a task that Congress has not completed in eight years. And perhaps Congress can cut some of the stupidity in government spending. The House deserves some credit for trying—it passed four appropriations bills—but the Senate deserves none. Mr. Reid did not pass a single appropriations bill in 2013, thus shielding vulnerable members of his party from having to make tough votes.

How the nation’s leaders perform in Washington is a reflection of the country, and culture, they represent. Moral relativism and postmodern disregard of truth has been promoted by academia for decades; sometimes it seems that the best students of that thinking can be found in Washington. We live in a time when laws and rules are defined however the holders of power decree, and “messaging” is paramount, regardless how far the message is from reality.

The coming year presents an opportunity to Americans who hope for better. Despite Washington’s dysfunction, “We the People” still call the shots and can demand a course correction. In 2014, here’s a message worth considering: If you don’t like the rulers you have, you don’t have to keep them.

Mr. Coburn, a Republican, is a senator from Oklahoma.

'Sequester', Continuing Resolutions, and the Un-Budget

By SUA Staff – All the talk about cuts and ‘sequestration’ is mind-numbing to say the least. If you listen to or read what the White House has issued, you’d be hiding under your bed in a fetal position. If you listen to reason though, after cutting through the political spin and tortured explanations, you see a different picture.

Check the actual budget numbers here. As required by the Budget Control Act of 2011, Obama finally reported on the impact:

These are among the findings in a new 394-page report by the White House that was delivered Friday to Congress, detailing line by line what will happen next year if Washington fails to act to head off about $100 billion in military and domestic spending cuts scheduled to begin Jan. 2. The Obama administration had been reluctant to specify the impact of sequestration, as the automatic, across-the-board spending reduction is called. But once forced to do so by Congress, the White House budget office did not scrimp on the details. (Read more here.)

Always remember one fact – there are no cuts in the baseline budget – its just a reduction in planned increases to the non-existent “Un-Budget.” The cuts they speak of are in the increases now ‘portraying’ an actual budget.

Many followed the “sky is falling” lead and gave us their look at the impact based upon White House and administration assertions, but those of course are a function of leadership or lack thereof. Read the article by Matthew Green at KQED: “The Sequester Explained in Plain English” and you will see how far they reach; try not to laugh too hard.

But, this week, even Obama had to walk back a lot of what was being told but the real impact is on the military but indeed the ‘sequester’ is in place and next is the CR, or continuing resolution:

Across-the-board federal spending cuts began Friday, clearing the way for a series of budget battles that will consume much of Congress’s energy and threaten to eclipse other items on President Barack Obama’s second-term agenda.

Mr. Obama signed an order late Friday directing $85 billion in cuts to domestic and defense programs, after holding a fruitless meeting with congressional leaders who remained at odds over how to avoid the reductions, known as a sequester.

The more immediate concern is the need to keep the government operating after March 27.  Next week, the House is expected to pass a Republican bill to extend funding for many government programs—including defense, education, and veterans’ benefits—at the ‘pre-sequester’ level of $1.043 trillion for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the same level as the year before. But it would also carry a provision saying that sequestration would apply. That would bring the cost of the bill below $1 trillion, which is considered key to winning support from House GOP conservatives. (Read more here.)

Of course, a detailed look at the many duplicated programs, other waste, fraud, and corruption would have easily eclipsed the measly 2% the $85 billion ‘sequester’ this year if they were removed. Obama had promised in 2008 that he would do just that, but alas, in over four years, none of that took place. “And, absolutely, we need earmark reform. And when I’m president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.”

The only persons of note who did look were Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) (See his budget here.) and Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) who has been producing his “Waste Book”. Take a look at the 2011 and 2012 reports from his office. Here are a few highlights:

“Waste Book” 2011:

  •  $75,000 to promote awareness about the role Michigan plays in producing Christmas trees & poinsettias.
  • $15.3 million for one of the infamous Bridges to Nowhere in Alaska.
  • $113,227 for video game preservation center in New York.
  • $550,000 for a documentary about how rock music contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • $48,700 for 2nd annual Hawaii Chocolate Festival, to promote Hawaii’s chocolate industry.
  • $350,000 to support an International Art Exhibition in Venice, Italy.
  • $10 million for a remake of “Sesame Street” for Pakistan.
  • $35 million allocated for political party conventions in 2012.
  • $765,828 to subsidize “pancakes for yuppies” in the nation’s capital.
  • $764,825 to study how college students use mobile devices for social networking.

“Waste Book” 2012:

  • The most unproductive and unpopular Congress in modern history – (Congress) $132 million
  • Professional sports loophole – (Taxes) $91 million
  • OH SNAP! Junk food, luxury drinks, soap operas, and billions of dollars in improper food stamp payments – (Department of Agriculture) $4.5 billion
  • Oklahoma keeps unused airport open to collect federal checks – (OK) $450,000
  • Moroccan pottery classes – (U.S. Agency for International Development) $27 million
  • Out-of-this-world Martian food tasting – (HI) $947,000
  • When robot squirrels attack – (CA) $325,000
  • USDA’s caviar dreams – (ID) $300,000
  • Bailed out tourist boat sinking private business – (AK) $3.3 million
  • Phantom, unused grant accounts draw fees – (Department of Health and Human Services) $2 million
How broken is the Federal Government? Its just insanity and the President does not want it to change – that is the only explanation that adds up. Then there is the stimulus watchdog, VP “Sheriff” Joe Biden – let’s see that accounting as well. Take a look here, or here, its not a pretty picture, and the accounting is still incomplete. So we ask, how is the ‘sequester’ really important other than the now and future diminished military, and what happens next when the CR is upon us in the weeks ahead?

Army Details Where Sequestration Will Hit Hardest

By Michael Hoffman – Military.com

Army leaders got down to the gritty details of how sequestration will affect the service with examples ranging from the reduction of day care hours to delaying weapons programs to asking soldiers to collect trash on post.

On Tuesday, the Army executed a four-hour, service-wide planning exercise to outline the choices service leaders will have to make should Congress fail to avert the $500 billion in budget cuts associated with sequestration, which is slated to start Friday.

The Army stands to lose the most from their budget mainly because it’s the largest service in the military. In 2013, Army budget officials must cut $18 billion from the service’s budget before Oct. 1 should sequestration occur.

The $18 billion cut is not solely due to sequestration. An extension of the continuing resolution that funds the military at 2012 levels will cost the Army $6 billion in 2013. Another $6 billion bill is included in the $18 billion total due to emerging requirements from the war in Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Karen Dyson, the director of the Army’s budget office, explained.

No matter the source, Army leaders said Wednesday that the service will have to make drastic cuts across the Army to services, training and operations. The sequestration legislation handcuffs Army officials from protecting certain accounts other than pay, operations in Afghanistan and Korea, and the Wounded Warrior program.

Making matters harder for officials will be the furlough that Defense Department civilians must take as part of the Pentagon’s cost saving measures in dealing with sequestration. Starting in April, civilians will have to take one unpaid furlough day per week until Oct. 1. This will limit the services the Army can provide and make it tougher to make up for the reduction in funds, Dyson said.

Brig. Gen. Curt Rauhut, the director of resource management for Installation Management Command, went as far to say the service will have to ignore holes in roofs and have soldiers collect trash on post. Funding for sustainment, restoration and modernization of the Army’s installations will be reduced by $2 billion, he said.

“All sustainment will be limited to life, health and safety issues and we don’t actually have enough money to fund all life, health and safety issues,” Rauhut said.

Families on base will feel the effects of the cost saving measures. Rauhut offered a few examples.

Army leaders would have to reduce hours for child development centers on post and even consider closing them on certain days, he said. Sequestration would also mean the Army would have to “eliminate or severely reduce youth sports on our installations,” Rahaut said.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno has explained to Congress for weeks that the sequestration cuts would mean he’d have to curtail training for nearly 80 percent of the service in order to save funds for units training to deploy to Afghanistan or in Korea.

Odierno had previously suggested that units deployed to Afghanistan might see their tours extended because of the lack of training funds. However, with the shrinking force footprint in Afghanistan, the Army should be able to bring currently deployed soldiers home as scheduled, Dyess said Wednesday.

“We have not made a decision on an extension for any units at this time so I think we should stick to our plan and bring those units back because really our footprint is shrinking,” he said.

However, Dyess and Dyson said the ultimate decision when Army units return from Afghanistan is made within theater.

Sequestration will affect when Army equipment in Afghanistan is returned to the U.S. If the budget cuts with sequestration stretch into 2014, the Army will be put in a bind. During the Iraq withdrawal, the Army saw expenses increase by $5 billion in the last quarter before the retrograde was complete, Dyson said.

Army officials expect a steeper challenge in leaving Afghanistan – a land locked country bordered by Iran and Pakistan. Dyson said the Army has already seen the projected cost of leaving Afghanistan sky rocket because the service has had to depend more on air transportation due to the challenge ground convoys have had crossing into Pakistan.

“We have to fly equipment in and out of theater and our second-destination charges for air transportation have been increasing far beyond what we had projected in the budget,” Dyson said.

Maj. Gen. Robert Dyess, the director of Army Force Development, confirmed that the sequestration cuts will likely delay the withdrawal of equipment and personnel from Afghanistan past the 2014 deadline set by President Obama. Gen. Dennis Via, head of Army Materiel Command, said the same thing on Feb. 20 at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Winter Symposium.

Army modernization programs also stand to lose funding at a time when the Army is set to revolutionize its battlefield radios and vehicle fleet. Dyess said that rather than cancel programs because of cuts, most will be delayed.

Dyess and Dyson made sure to point out that every weapons program will have its budget slashed by 9 percent. Dyess listed mission command, aviation and Science and Technology as the Army’s three largest accounts that stand to lose the most.

“The [budget] reductions … define a fiscal outlook that is dire and as far as I know is unprecedented for our Army,” Dyson said.