Leahy's Room without a View
In what many see as a warm-up for the confirmation battles to come, Senate Democrats rushed President Obama's first judicial nominee, David Hamilton, to his hearing yesterday over the objections of most Republicans. Speaking for his GOP colleagues, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) complained that Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) had scheduled a "drive-by hearing" just two weeks after the official nomination. By comparison, senators had an average of 166 days to prepare under President Bush. Considering that Hamilton was responsible for more than 1,200 opinions, it would be virtually impossible to comb through these rulings in the 15 days Leahy provided.
Republicans were so outraged by the Democrats' haste that they boycotted the hearing entirely. If they had attended the meeting, they might not have known where it was. At the last possible minute, Leahy moved the hearing away from the Senate office building (where they are traditionally held) to a tiny room off the Senate floor where he knew the proceedings couldn't be webcast. The location–in addition to being video–prohibitive-was too small to accommodate members of the public.
To those familiar with the protocol, it soon became a question of what the Senate Democrats were trying to hide. In a word: Hamilton's record. Described by the White House as a "moderate," Judge Hamilton has been surprisingly hostile to religious freedom, life, and basic public safety. In two of his most controversial cases, first striking Jesus's name from public prayers in the Indiana legislature and later abolishing abortion waiting periods, his decisions were immediately overturned. In the case of Indiana's sectarian prayers, Hinrichs v. Bosma, Hamilton wrote that it was unconstitutional to pray in Jesus's name but entirely acceptable to pray in Allah's. The 2005 suit was significant enough that FRC filed an amicus brief. What a tragic commentary on this administration that a man who banned prayers in Christ's name is eligible for a promotion.
Washington Gets Rich or Kills Charities Tryin'
While members of the right and left try to dissuade him, the President is digging in his heels on a plan that could have a catastrophic effect on American philanthropy. As part of his budget, the White House has insisted that Congress reduce the tax deductions for upper-income givers. In his press conference last month, the President tried to frame the idea as a way to soak the upper class. "…[T]his provision would affect about one percent of the American people."
Even if his estimate were true, that "one percent" makes almost half of all charitable contributions, Dick Morris points out in a recent op-ed. "This proposal is not about saving money," Morris writes. "It is about controlling it." The President is so busy spinning the plan as punishment for wealthy Americans that he has completely–and intentionally–ignored the devastation this would do to the charities themselves.
"There's very little evidence," the President said, "that this has a significant impact on charitable giving." The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University begs to differ. By their calculations, the highest-income households would decrease their giving by a whopping $3.87 billion! Make no mistake. The impact of this plan is to starve churches and other nonprofits that actually help the poor and replace them with ineffective (and liberal) government programs. It's an idea so fundamentally un-American that each of us should be raising our voices in opposition. Contact your representatives today and ask them to keep generosity alive.
In Support of Dr. King and Pastor Hoye
While sitting in a Birmingham jail–after being imprisoned on Good Friday in 1963 for breaking the law because it violated his moral conscience–a great man wrote, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." That man was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As we approach Good Friday 2009, another man sits in prison in Oakland, California for standing outside an inner-city abortion facility with a sign reading, "Jesus loves you and your baby. Let us help you." That man is Rev. Walter B. Hoye.
The wrongful jailing of this peace-loving pastor continues to stoke the fires of the pro-life movement. Conservative African-American leaders are hopeful that Oakland's wrongful incarceration of Pastor Hoye will draw attention to the greater abuse of black women and babies by these so-called "family planning" clinics. On day 15 of his 30-day sentence, Hoye now sleeps on a top bunk in a large cell together with dozens of other inmates. On a juice-only fast, he is faithfully sharing the Gospel with fellow prisoners, some of whom have accepted Christ.
We're asking that you take a few moments to write Rev. Hoye a note of encouragement while he serves his time. You can reach him at Walter B. Hoye II, PFN# BGR852, Santa Rita Jail 5325 Broder Boulevard, Dublin, California 94568-3309.
- Posted March 24th, 2009 at 10.20am in Ongoing Priorities.
President Barack Obama has repeatedly claimed that his budget would cut the deficit by half by the end of his term. But as Heritage analyst Brian Riedl has pointed out, given that Obama has already helped quadruple the deficit with his stimulus package, pledging to halve it by 2013 is hardly ambitious. The Washington Post has a great graphic which helps put President Obama’s budget deficits in context of President Bush’s.
What’s driving Obama’s unprecedented massive deficits? Spending. Riedl details:
- President Bush expanded the federal budget by a historic $700 billion through 2008. President Obama would add another $1 trillion.
- President Bush began a string of expensive financial bailouts. President Obama is accelerating that course.
- President Bush created a Medicare drug entitlement that will cost an estimated $800 billion in its first decade. President Obama has proposed a $634 billion down payment on a new government health care fund.
- President Bush increased federal education spending 58 percent faster than inflation. President Obama would double it.
- President Bush became the first President to spend 3 percent of GDP on federal antipoverty programs. President Obama has already increased this spending by 20 percent.
- President Bush tilted the income tax burden more toward upper-income taxpayers. President Obama would continue that trend.
- President Bush presided over a $2.5 trillion increase in the public debt through 2008. Setting aside 2009 (for which Presidents Bush and Obama share responsibility for an additional $2.6 trillion in public debt), President Obama’s budget would add $4.9 trillion in public debt from the beginning of 2010 through 2016.
UPDATE: Many Obama defenders in the comments are claiming that the numbers above do not include spending on Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush years. They most certainly do. While Bush did fund the wars through emergency supplementals (not the regular budget process), that spending did not simply vanish. It is included in the numbers above. Also, some Obama defenders are claiming the graphic above represents biased Heritage Foundation numbers. While we stand behind the numbers we put out 100%, the numbers, and the graphic itself, above are from the Washington Post. We originally left out the link to WaPo. It has been now been added.
CLARIFICATION: Of course, this Washington Post graphic does not perfectly delineate budget surpluses and deficits by administration. President Bush took office in January 2001, and therefore played a lead role in crafting the FY 2002-2008 budgets. Presidents Bush and Obama share responsibility for the FY 2009 budget deficit that overlaps their administrations, before President Obama assumes full budgetary responsibility beginning in FY 2010. Overall, President Obama’s budget would add twice as much debt as President Bush over the same number of years.