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Mona Charen
Mona Charen
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Responsibility -- If Only

Comment

In his inaugural address, President Obama promised to initiate a "new era of responsibility." These heights were to be scaled following a successful campaign to transcend the "old politics" of Washington, D.C. Two weeks is a short period of time on which to judge an era, so let's just say it hasn't gotten off to a roaring start.

The hallmark of this new era is apparently the cap on executive compensation for banks taking bailout money from Uncle Sam. This makes Democrats giddy, as they despise high salaries for executives, except when those executives are Democratic former members of Congress, former Democratic presidents, and trial lawyers. Some of us find the whole notion of government caps on income obnoxious, but will shed no tears for executives who will have to make do with $500,000. If they had run their companies more competently, they wouldn't be dancing to Uncle Sam's tune. (Here is an under-reported story: the failure of boards of directors to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders by curbing unwarranted executive compensation. Where were the corporate raiders when we needed them?)

If responsibility means anything, it means being accountable for one's behavior. Tom Daschle, Nancy Killefer, Bill Richardson, and Timothy Geithner — that's a pretty significant percentage of appointees to show up with ethical clouds. Richardson, the abortive Secretary of Commerce, apparently was caught up in a Blagojevich style "pay to play" scheme in his home state of New Mexico. Exit Richardson. Nancy Killefer, tapped by Obama as the administration's "performance czar," reportedly failed to pay unemployment taxes for her household help and had a tax lien imposed on her home by the District of Columbia. Tom Daschle failed, among other things, to pay taxes on a limousine and driver provided by a "good friend." He didn't know, the former majority leader of the U.S. senate explained, that the IRS considered the limo income. Until the evening before Daschle's withdrawal, President Responsibility had stood behind him. Asked at a Monday night meeting if he still supported Daschle, Obama said "Absolutely." But the next day, the president acknowledged that he had "screwed up," and that there cannot be two different standards, "one for prominent people" and another "for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes."

Good TV.

Very good TV. Except for one thing: Survey the cabinet table and there in a place of honor sits Tim Geithner at the Treasury Department. This "prominent person," whose department oversees the IRS, failed to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for four years running. A number of observers believe that if Daschle had been named first, he would be holding his post and Geithner would have been the one to bow out rather than the reverse. There certainly doesn't seem to be any principled difference between the two. Which kind of tax avoidance is more culpable — failing to report income or simply failing to file? Hmm.

Everywhere you look in American life today you see a desperate need for more responsibility. But the stimulus bill the Obama Administration has taken ownership of actually encourages irresponsibility rather than the reverse.

Certainly governors and state legislatures are not being held accountable for their reckless spending sprees. As Stephen Spruiell has reported in National Review, $79 billion of the "stimulus" bill is devoted to the "State Fiscal Stabilization Fund." What's that? It's a system by which those states that have not hugely overspent their available tax revenues, like Indiana, North Dakota, and Virginia, will pay for those states, like California and New Jersey, that have. Another $89 billion is slated to help states meet their obligations to Medicaid — a program that is everywhere in deficit. But rather than reform the bottomless pit that is health care spending by government, the Democrats propose to expand the government's role with SCHIP. Government, as Milton Friedman taught, has vastly increased the percentage of national wealth spent on health care through tax exemption and Medicare/Medicaid. Friedman estimated that 60 percent of the total increase in costs between 1946 and 1997 was attributable to those two things.

We're bailing out the car companies and the banks and the states and let's not forget ACORN (they can apply for some of the $4.19 billion in "neighborhood stabilization activities"). We don't ask how you used the money we gave you last year or whether you got results. Remember (oh, how quaint it seems now!) when Obama promised to go through the budget line by line and zero out those programs that weren't working? Good or bad, effective or not, straight or crooked, everyone is being bailed out now. It's a new era all right, but responsibility is only dimly visible in the rearview mirror.

To find out more about Mona Charen and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.



Comments

2 Comments | Post Comment
So here's how it works: as a candidate for the presidency, one can make allegations, slander, pontificating predictions, promises, and statements of "fact" with impunity. Once ensconsed in the white or black or shades of gray house, the now president can consider all the blather he uttered during the race to be simply the stuff of election politics, and it now has no meaning, merit, or culpability. Try running a marriage that way.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Juanito Verde
Fri Feb 6, 2009 7:19 AM

OBAMA AND ‘TAX & SPENDERS' “SCARE TACTICS!”

Folks, if you care about America and it's future, you'll fight this latest Stimulus Package
by staying in touch with the politicians who are supposed to be working for Americans.
Guess what, they're only working for themselves. Their pockets are very deep and these
‘fat cats' are very greedy!
i just pulled up the following, which is Obama-Biden trillion dollar proposed budget,
added already to our trillions of dollars of debt, and counting, due foreign countries!
Guess what's going to happen to America when interest isn't paid on these notes?
The heading - ‘THREE FACTS ABOUT OBAMA AND POVERTY!' Surely, this is a joke?
Taxpayers know this is beginning of Obama and the ‘tax and spenders' final icing on
cake for Bankrupting America! All the trillions now owed was started when social,
welfare and housing programs were created; thus, stopping the illegitimates from doing
nothing, but lying around, having more illegitimates. ANYONE LISTENING? Illegitimates
are creating ‘TERRORISM ON AMERICAN SOIL' and ‘Obama-Biden and Tax and
Spenders' want to INCREASE AND ADD TO SAME PROGRAMS? My God, where's the
sanity in this?

It's obvious this document/proposal was written by someone who is'unfamiliar and
untrained' as all of this ‘proposal' is written into laws, and under several Departments! A
couple really come to mind: Department of Housing and Urban Development and
Department of Social Services, as this is where all the illegitimates gather to collect
money they're not entitled to!

This hyped-up document/proposal cost Taxpayers lots of money and is useless as a lot
of the politicians trying to use ‘Scare Tactics' and Taxpayers no longer are listening! It
looks like these ‘fat cats' will do and say anything to get this ‘Stimulus' package passed
for their very deep pockets! If you are a Taxpayer, don't you wonder why?
Take a very close look at last paragraph - RE: Illinois - and to think, Illinois has been
receiving millions for several years, and they're broke because of the ‘same social,
welfare, and housing programs, already on books, and they're trying to send them
through again! Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out this illegitimate mess had
bankrupted America and, it seems, politicians want to eliminate what we now call
America! If they didn't want to do this, why would they have sold America out for Nafta
and Cafta?

The following Obama-Biden ‘hyped-up' proposal should be read very carefully to see
how politicians can ‘twist and turn words' for their benefits. Taxpayers are now paying
close attention to what's affecting their homes, their jobs, and their stability!
======================================================================
a.. Barack Obama will expand access to jobs: Obama and Biden will invest $1 billion
over five years in transitional jobs and career pathway programs that implement proven
methods of helping low-income Americans succeed in the workforce.
b.. Make work pay for all Americans: Obama and Biden will increase benefits for working
parents, raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011, and provide tax relief to low-
and middle-income workers.
c.. Support rural and urban areas: Obama and Biden will invest in rural small
businesses, improve rural schools, and attract more doctors to rural areas. And they will
work with urban leaders to increase the supply of affordable housing and address the
unique challenges of every metropolitan area.
In this Section:
a.. Expand Access to Jobs
b.. Make Work Pay for All Americans
c.. Strengthen Families
d.. Increase the Supply of Affordable Housing
e.. Tackle Concentrated Poverty
More on Poverty:
a.. Watch More Videos
b.. Read the Plan
c.. Read the Plan to Fight Hunger
d.. Read the Urban Poverty Speech
Present your ideas:
Speak your mind and help set the policies that will guide this campaign and change the
country.
Plan to Combat Poverty:
The Problem Poverty Rising: There are over 37 million poor Americans. Most Americans
living in poverty work, but still cannot afford to make ends meet.
Minimum Wage is Not Enough: Even when a parent works full-time earning minimum
wage and EITC and food stamps are factored into their income, families are still $1,550
below the federal poverty line because of the flat-lined minimum wage.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden's Plan:
Expand Access to Jobs:
a.. Help Americans Grab a Hold of and Climb the Job Ladder: Obama and Biden will
invest $1 billion over five years in transitional jobs andcareer pathway programs that
implement proven methods of helping low-income Americans succeed in the workforce.
b.. Create a Green Jobs Corps: Obama and Biden will create a program to directly
engage disadvantaged youth in energy efficiency opportunities to strengthen their
communities, while also providing them with practical skills in this important
high-growth career field.
c.. Improve Transportation Access to Jobs: As president, Obama will work to ensure that
low-income Americans have transportation access to jobs. Obama will double funding
for the federal Jobs Access and Reverse Commute program to ensure that additional
federal public transportation dollarsflow to the highest-need communities and that urban
planning initiatives take this aspect of transportation policy into account.
d.. Reduce Crime Recidivism by Providing Ex-Offender Supports: Obama and Biden will
work to ensure that ex-offenders have access to job training, substance abuse and
mental health counseling, and employment opportunities. Obama and Biden will also
create a prison-to-work incentive program and reduce barriers to employment. Make
Work Pay for All Americans
a.. Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit: Obama and Biden will increase the number of
working parents eligible for EITC benefits, increase the benefits available to parents who
support their children through child support payments, increase benefits for families
with three or more children, and reduce the EITC marriage penalty, which hurts
low-income families.
b.. Raise the Minimum Wage to $9.50 an Hour by 2011: Barack Obama and Joe Biden
believe that people who work full time should not live in poverty. Even though the
minimum wage will rise to $7.25 an hour by 2009, the minimum wage's real purchasing
power will still be below what it was in 1968. As president, Obama will further raise the
minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011, index it to inflation and increase the Earned
Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers can earn a living wage that allows
them to raise their families and pay for basic needs such as food, transportation, and
housing - things so many people take for granted.
c.. Provide Tax Relief: Obama and Biden will provide all low and middle-income workers
a $500 Making Work Pay tax credit to offset the payroll tax those workers pay in every
paycheck. Obama and Biden will also eliminate taxes for seniors making under $50,000
per year. Strengthen Families
a.. Promote Responsible Fatherhood: Obama will sign into law his Responsible
Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act to remove some of the government penalties on
married families, crack down on men avoiding child support payments, and ensure that
payments go to families instead of state bureaucracies.
b.. Support Parents with Young Children: Obama and Biden will expand the
highly-successful Nurse-Family Partnership to all 570,000 low-income, first-time mothers
each year. The Nurse-Family Partnership provides home visits by trained registered
nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families.
c.. Expand Paid Sick Days: Today, three-out-of-four low-wage workers have no paid sick
days. Obama and Biden support guaranteeing workers seven paid sick days per year.
Increase the Supply of Affordable Housing
a.. Supports Affordable Housing Trust Fund: Obama has supported efforts to create an
Affordable Housing Trust Fund to develop affordable housing in mixed-income
neighborhoods.
b.. Fully Fund the Community Development Block Grant: Obama and Biden will fully fund
the Community Development Block Grant program and engage with urban leaders
across the country to increase resources to the highest-need Americans. Tackle
Concentrated Poverty
a.. Establish 20 Promise Neighborhoods: Obama and Biden will create 20 Promise
Neighborhoods in areas that have high levels of poverty and crime and low levels of
student academic achievement in cities across the nation. The Promise Neighborhoods
will be modeled after the Harlem Children's Zone, which provides a full network of
services, including early childhood education, youth violence prevention efforts and
after-school activities,to an entire neighborhood from birth to college.
b.. Ensure Community-Based Investment Resources in Every Urban Community: Obama
and Biden will work with community and business leaders to identify and address the
unique economic development barriers of every major metropolitan area. Obama and
Biden will provide additional resources to the federal Community Development Financial
Institution Fund, the SmallBusiness Administration and other federal agencies,
especially to their local branch offices, to address community needs.
c.. Invest in Rural Areas: Obama and Biden will invest in rural small businesses and fight
to expand high-speed Internet access. They willimprove rural schools and attract more
doctors to rural areas. And they will implement a bold climate change and energy
independence plan that will revitalize rural America through new investments in
renewable energy production, including wind, solar and biofuel investments. Barack
Obama's Record
a.. Tax Relief for Low-Income Working Families: Obama created the Illinois Earned
Income Tax Credit for low-income working families in 2000 and successfully sponsored a
measure to make the credit permanent in 2003. The law offered about $105 million in tax
relief over three years.
b.. Housing: In the Illinois State Senate, Obama championed multiple pieces of
legislation to help low-income families find adequate affordable housing.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Shirley deLong
Fri Feb 6, 2009 8:25 AM
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