Arrogance isn’t the Answer

Making Sense

I’m getting tired of President Obama blaming Republicans for everything.

This week it was immigration.

In Las Vegas the president called for a policy that would provide a clear path to citizenship for illegal residents who pay their taxes, learn English and abide by the law.

He warned that if bipartisan talks in Congress break down in bickering, he’ll use his bully pulpit and present an immigration bill based on his ideas — ideas that barely mention the need to secure the border as the first order of business.

The president and his liberal friends in the media like to make everyone think it’s Republicans who’ve been thwarting comprehensive immigration reform all these years.

But the dirty little political secret is that it’s the Democrats who are really the ones who don’t want to see immigration reform happen anytime soon.

As long as immigration policy remains a political football to fight over, Democrats can use the issue as a way to brand Republicans as anti-immigrant and continue to capture the vast majority of Latino voters.

If the GOP wants to have a future, it has to get its act together and get its ideas out to the Hispanic community — 16 percent of Americans. Hispanics are receptive to those ideas when they know the truth.

Right now, Latinos and all immigrants who come to America legally or illegally see Republicans as the party of exclusion, not inclusion.

Except for Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, the GOP is seen as the party that tells immigrants “We want you out of the country.”

But Republicans should be welcoming and embracing immigrants, not appearing to scare them off. Until the party changes, Democrats will own the Latino vote the way they own the black vote.

The Republican Party also has to prove that Marco Rubio isn’t its only Latino. Rubio is great. I love seeing him in the Senate and I’d love to see him in the White House someday.

But the GOP has some other great Hispanic political leaders out there who need to be seen and heard on immigration. In fact, liberal CNN recently admitted that among statewide officeholders, Republicans are more diverse than Democrats. Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, plus rising Senate star Ted Cruz of Texas are among that group.

We — the Republican Party and the country — need to hear their ideas. Not at the end of the immigration reform argument, but now, at the beginning.

Meanwhile, the country desperately needs a president who knows how to lead.

We need a leader who doesn’t stand up and point fingers at the other side but instead opens the door to the White House, invites both sides in, finds commonality and signs the subsequent legislation.

Unfortunately, we don’t have such a president. We have a leader who is arrogant. We have a leader who never gets off the campaign trail long enough to lead. And who spends most of his time demonizing the opposition.

My mother taught me a basic truth that President Obama should learn — “You can’t listen if your mouth is always open.”

President Obama’s mouth is always open. It’s time for him to shut his mouth, open the White House doors and do what my father Ronald Reagan would have done. It’s time for him to stop talking and start inviting.

—–Copyright ©2013 Michael Reagan. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns contact Cari Dawson Bartley at cari@cagle.com or call 800-696-7561.

Mickelson Chokes

Making Sense

Phil Mickelson choked on a gimme putt this week, but it wasn’t on a golf course.

According to the AP’s golf writer, America’s most popular golfer “put his popularity on the line with polarizing comments about how much he has to pay in state and federal taxes.”

“Polarizing comments”?

Good grief.

Now it’s “polarizing” for an American to hint that because of the higher federal and state income tax rates on millionaires leveled by Sacramento and Washington, he might have to migrate to Florida or Texas?

Though he had every right to, Mickelson didn’t knock Obama or gripe like a Tea Partier about the federal, state and local tax bite on his estimated $45 million in annual earnings — about 62 percent.

Mickelson spoke the truth. Most pro golfers already live in Florida, and for good reason. It’s not because of the warm weather, it’s because there’s no state income tax.

Tiger Woods, who bravely stuck up for Mickelson, has admitted without shame that he moved to Orlando years ago to escape California’s income tax, which is now set at 13 percent on California’s 35,000 remaining millionaires.

Ditto for Rush Limbaugh, who became a Floridian because of New York’s confiscatory state and local taxes.

It’s outrageous that any American — Mickelson, Woods, Mitt Romney or super-liberals like Babs Streisand or Bobby Redford — is forced to fork over 60 percent of their honest earnings to government.

But it isn’t just wealthy pro golfers who are being driven out of California by high taxes.

Before Jan. 1, an older surgeon I know closed his practice, laid off his four employees, sold his house and moved to Nevada.

He was still a practicing surgeon, not because he needed the money but because he loved being a surgeon.

But the higher income tax rates now in effect under Proposition 30 for those earning more than $250,000 were too much for him and so the Broken State of California lost a good surgeon and four other jobs.

It’s a shame Mickelson turned out to be such a wuss. Wouldn’t it have been great if he had stood tall and become a tax-protesting hero — the Gerard Depardieu of America?

Depardieu, the wealthy and popular French actor, shocked the liberal intelligentsia of Europe with his defiant, politically incorrect and very public stand against France’s confiscatory tax on the rich.

Decrying the 75 percent levy his socialist government is trying to put on millionaires, he moved to Belgium, gave up his French passport, and accepted the grant of citizenship from Russia, where the income tax is a reasonable, flat 13 percent.

Mickelson, meanwhile, chickened out.

He issued a sniveling apology this week, saying, “Finances and taxes are a personal matter, and I should not have made my opinions on them public. I apologize to those I have upset or insulted, and assure you I intend not to let it happen again.”

How pathetic.

Now it’s apparently an insult to the poor — or a thought crime — for a rich and successful American to publicly point out that his taxes are so high he’s thinking of moving to where they’re lower.

It’s too bad about Mickelson. Instead of apologizing and backtracking, he should be telling everyone about how high taxes are driving rich and successful people like him out of the state, demanding serious tax cuts and threatening to run for governor.

California is a state that already has more takers than makers. It can’t afford any more wusses.

—–Copyright ©2013 Michael Reagan. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns contact Cari Dawson Bartley at cari@cagle.com or call 800-696-7561.

Obama Ignores the Rational Answer

Making Sense

What do Al Hunt of Bloomberg News, David Gregory of “Meet the Press” and President Obama have in common — besides their liberal politics?

They all send their kids to Sidwell Friends School.

With campuses in Washington, D.C. and Bethesda, Md., the highly selective private school is where the Clintons and the Gores sent their kids, along with Joe Biden’s grandchildren.

It’s also where the local 1 Percenters and the government-media elites who can afford to shell out about $32 grand a year send their children to be indoctrinated — excuse me, educated — and to be safe.

Unlike parents across America who are worrying about how to protect their school kids in the wake of the tragic shootings in Newtown, Conn., Sidwell parents spend their days worry-free.

Their children are better protected than the printing presses at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. And it’s not because of the heavily armed Secret Service detail posted on campus to protect first-kids Sasha and Malia Obama.

It’s because Sidwell Friends — a Quaker school, by the way — is defended by guards with loaded guns. In addition to the Secret Service with its Uzis and large ammo clips, Sidwell has its own security staff of 11.

I didn’t hear President Obama mention Sidwell Friends’ solution to school safety on Wednesday when he announced his sweeping plans to reduce gun violence by banning assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, instituting tougher gun-registration laws and taking steps to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

None of Obama’s measures would have prevented the slaughter of innocents in Connecticut, but that’s not the point. The point is pure politics and the president and his crew want to take full advantage of the Newtown shootings to advance their anti-gun agenda.

At his White House media extravaganza, the president used lawmakers, law enforcement officials and children as his props. The kids, drawn from across the U.S., had written letters to the president saying they were worried about gun violence and school safety.  You can bet there were no Sidwell kids on stage with him.

While Washington’s grandstanders and anti-gun nuts prepare to fire their latest round of ineffective, politically correct, feel-good federal laws at law-abiding gun owners, at least six states are preparing new legislation that will allow teachers to carry guns into schools or require several teachers in the building to be armed.

Putting guards with guns in places that need to be protected from bad guys or crazies is not a radical idea. It’s perfectly sensible.

Politicians and celebrities use armed bodyguards all the time. We have armed guards in banks, jewelry stores and malls. After 9/11 we armed airline pilots and armed federal marshals posing as passengers.

Only politicians and hysterical celebrity dummies like Piers Morgan can’t understand why making schools gun-free zones attracts mass-murders and reduces the chances that anyone with a gun will stop them to zero.

The president never thought of using Sidwell Friends as an example of how armed guards at schools can make them safer.

He was too busy trying to score points by attacking the NRA, dreaming up laws to further oppress law-abiding gun owners and making fun of the people who know the Second Amendment isn’t about protecting duck hunters’ rights, it’s about the right of the people to protect themselves from their government.

Meanwhile, here in Los Angeles, the Catholic grade school where my daughter teaches didn’t wait around for the president or Joe Biden to come up with complicated new laws to allegedly ensure the safety of their children.

The officials at my daughter’s school decided for themselves the best way to make their campus safer. Taking a cue from the smart folks who run the Sidwell Friends School, they did a simple, effective and rational thing. They hired an armed guard.

Copyright ©2013 Michael Reagan. For info on using columns contact Cari Dawson Bartley at cari@cagle.com or call 800-696-7561.

Junk Laws

Making Sense

We have junk food, junk mail and junk bonds.

Now, thanks to our dysfunctional and devious Congress, we have junk laws like the “Taxpayer Relief Act.”

Junk laws are really nothing new. The people we send to Washington to represent us have been passing legislation larded with pork or special privileges for their friends in business, agriculture and labor since the country was born.

Insiders have always known how this cynical bipartisan game is played. But now, thanks to the failure of Congress to deal with the government debt crisis it in large part created, the average American is starting to become aware of these junk bills.

Even the liberal media were outraged by what went on when Congress passed the “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012″ — which, ironically, raised the taxes of every working American by 2 percent by returning the Social Security tax to its usual 6.2 percent level.

The “Fiscal Cliff Bill” did virtually nothing to solve the federal government’s money problems or create a single job. But it was junked up with nearly $70 billion of pure pork — including tax credits for the owners of NASCAR racetracks, wind turbine makers, Hollywood moviemakers and rum-makers in Puerto Rico.

While President Obama was promising to raise taxes on the rich but really shafting the working poor, congressional folk were so busy loading up the “Fiscal Cliff Bill” with presents for their friends that they forgot to pass the relief bill to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Members of Congress are grandmasters of deceit and dishonesty. Taking maximum advantage of every crisis or disaster that comes along, they attach their favorite pieces of pork to dishonestly named bills such as the “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012″ and the “Affordable Healthcare Act.”

Members know these big important super-bills have to pass to avert a crisis, so they junk them up with their $200 million “Bridges to Nowhere” and their $59 million tax credits for the algae-growing industry.

A perfect example of how Congress gets its junk bills passed has to with the way it funds FEMA. Congress always underfunds the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Why?

Because Congress knows each year there will always be a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy that FEMA will need billions of federal dollars to address.

And when FEMA comes asking for emergency funding, members of Congress will clean out their closets and throw every piece of junk legislation they have into the relief bill, which they know will automatically pass without scrutiny.

Another reason we get junk laws is that few members of Congress actually read these monster bills before they vote for them. Nancy Pelosi’s career quote is going to be her comment on the healthcare bill, “But we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.”

Law-making is not supposed to work that way. There’s a rule in Congress that a bill has to be posted for 48 hours before it can be voted on. But that rule has become a joke.

Just watch C-SPAN the next time a vote is being taken in the House. You’ll probably hear someone say something like, “Under suspension of the rule, we’ll now vote.”

What arcane parliamentary rule are they talking about? The 48-hour rule. No wonder Congress is always finding out after they vote what they just voted for. If members of Congress don’t read the damn bill, they shouldn’t vote on it.

I’m getting real tired of people saying, “My guy’s a good guy and your guy’s a bad guy.” They’re all acting like bad guys.

We need to start holding every member of Congress accountable. And we need more up-and-down votes in Congress, so that the next important piece of legislation doesn’t become another “Fiscal Cliff Junk Bill.

—–Copyright ©2013 Michael Reagan. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns contact Cari Dawson Bartley at cari@cagle.com or call 800-696-7561.

Waiting for the Sequel

Making Sense

The latest horror movie from Washington — “The Fiscal Cliff” — finally came to an exciting end in the early hours of 2013.

But after two years did its climax — more taxes, more spending and more chicken-livered can-kicking by our politicians — really shock any of you over the age of six?

Didn’t think so.

Spinning the budget deal as a last-minute victory for the American people, the White House and Congress are saying that all the actors knuckled down, did the right thing and created a compromise budget deal that kept the country from going over the fiscal cliff.

Bull. As usual.

The Washington In-Crowd didn’t save the country from going over the fiscal cliff, which of course they created in the first place. They just shoved the edge of the cliff a couple of months down the road.

After two years of arguing over taxes, the federal debt, government spending and how to fix the ticking fiscal time bombs of Social Security and Medicare, the professional politicians solved nothing.

They merely did the easy, politically painless stuff.

They raised tax rates from 35 percent to 39.6 on the so-called rich who make more than $400,000 individually or $450,000 as a couple. They extended unemployment benefits for a year.

They extended the Bush-era tax cuts and made them permanent, something even President Obama secretly favored because he knows that ending them would throw the economy into another recession.

But the Washington In-Crowd failed the American people yet again. They didn’t reduce the deficit by a single dollar. They didn’t create a single job. They didn’t cut or cap federal spending. They did nothing about Social Security or Medicare.

The revenues they’ll bring into federal coffers with their higher taxes on the rich will be spent by the end of the week. They were so busy doing the easy stuff they never even got around to passing a bill to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Meanwhile, while everyone was watching the chessboard to see how high taxes were going to be jacked up on the rich and successful, Congress shafted the middle class and the working poor by voting to let President Obama’s two-year-old, 2 percent payroll-tax cut expire.

The Obamamedia won’t be making a big deal out of it, of course, but nearly everyone who earns a paycheck was given a tax hike. According to the Tax Policy Center, about 77 percent of households making between $50,000 and $200,000 will be paying higher FICA taxes in 2013.

On average, starting this week, about $1,600 of an individual’s income will again be taken from his or her paycheck annually and sent directly to the bankrupt coffers of Social Security.

President Obama and the advocates of Bigger Government were the winners in our latest fiscal melodrama. Obama set the agenda and he got what he wanted. Republicans who wanted real spending cuts or some semblance of fiscal responsibility got rolled.

In two months, it’ll be time for Congress to vote on raising the federal debt ceiling. We’ll hear the same arguments and scare stories from the White House and the media about what will happen if we don’t allow the Washington In-Crowd to borrow a few more trillion dollars to keep their borrowing-and-spending racket going.

America will find itself being forced to watch another Washington horror flick. And unless voters wake up and the GOP gets its act together, “Fiscal Cliff, Part 2” is going to have the same unhappy ending for conservatives as the original.

Copyright ©2013 Michael Reagan.  For info on using columns contact Cari Dawson Bartley at cari@cagle.com or call 800-696-7561.