Category: Marc Thiessen
Thiessen: ObamaLeaks in the White House
| January 28, 2013 | 5:00 pm | Marc Thiessen | No comments

Published for The Washington Post, January 28, 2013

After highly classified details of a U.S. cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear program were made public, President Obama went to the White House press room to denounce those who suggested the leaks were coming from his top national security aides. “The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive [and] it is wrong,” the president declared.

Well, the Federal Bureau of Investigation may disagree. The Post broke the news Sunday that the FBI has launched an “aggressive” investigation into “current and former senior officials suspected of involvement” in the leak that Obama personally ordered cyberattacks on the Iranian nuclear program using a computer virus called Stuxnet. The New York Times story which first revealed the details of the cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear program cited as sources “members of the President’s national security team who were in the [Situation Room]” and even quoted the president asking during a top secret meeting: “Should we shut this thing down?” Only Obama’s most trusted national security advisers would have been present when he uttered those words.

Now several members of that inner circle are receiving promotions. Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough has just been named the new White House chief of staff. And John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser, has been nominated to be next director of the CIA. With the investigation reaching the top echelons of the administration, it is time for the White House to come clean and tell the American people which of Obama’s senior advisers is under investigation. There are no confirmation hearings for the chief of staff post, but Brennan will soon appear before the Senate on Feb. 7 for his confirmation hearings. If confirmed, he will be responsible for protecting our nation’s secrets. Congress has a right to know what he knows — and if he is being questioned by the FBI in the leak probe.

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Thiessen: An inaugural gift from the GOP
| January 22, 2013 | 5:04 pm | Marc Thiessen | No comments

Published for The Washington Post, January 21, 2013

They should be holding today’s inauguration on the deck of the USS Missouri instead of the steps of the U.S. Capitol, so Barack Obama can formally accept the surrender of the GOP. Before Obama even places his hand on the Bible today, his rout of the House Republicans is already virtually complete. Not only have Republicans capitulated on taxes by violating their no tax pledge, Republican leaders have now announced that they are capitulating on spending as well, by violating the “Boehner rule.”

All this before Obama’s second term even began.

In the 2011 debt-limit standoff, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) established the Boehner rule, declaring that henceforth Republicans would insist on at least one dollar in spending cuts for every dollar in debt limit increase. This may have been one of the most important fiscal policy innovations in a generation. The rule is simple, it is perfectly reasonable, and it is broadly popular. A recent poll found that 72 percent of Americans agreed that “Any increase in the debt limit must be accompanied by spending cuts and reforms of a greater amount.” Only 22 percent disagreed.

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Thiessen: The Democrats’ magic-coin fantasy
| January 16, 2013 | 2:36 pm | Marc Thiessen | No comments

Published for Washington Post, January 14, 2013

If there were any doubt that leverage had shifted to Republicans in the debt-limit standoff, it was dispelled when Obama supporters urged the president to create $1 trillion out of thin air by minting a magic coin. Seriously.

On Saturday, the Treasury Department finally put a halt to the magic-coin insanity, declaring, “Neither the Treasury Department nor the Federal Reserve believes that the law can or should be used to facilitate the production of platinum coins for the purpose of avoiding an increase in the debt limit.”

No kidding.

What is so sad is that, until Treasury issued that statement, supposedly serious people were advocating doing just that. On Friday, White House spokesman Jay Carney refused to rule out the idea (as he had previously ruled out resorting to the 14th Amendment to ignore the debt limit). In a letter to Obama last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Majority Whip Dick Durbin, vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus Chuck Schumer and the incoming Budget Committee chairwoman, Patty Murray, urged the president “to take any lawful steps to ensure that America does not break its promises and trigger a global crisis — without congressional approval, if necessary.” Since the 14th Amendment was off the table, the only step he could take “without congressional approval” was minting a platinum coin.

In a town that specializes in stupid ideas, this one reached a new level of stupid. Think about it: If the president could really create a trillion dollars out of the ether simply by minting a single $1 trillion coin, why would we stop at one? We could mint 17 of these puppies and eliminate the national debt! Heck, we could mint 18 and have a trillion-dollar surplus!

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Thiessen: Republicans should start acting like Obama
| January 8, 2013 | 10:00 am | Marc Thiessen | No comments

Published for The Washington Post, January 8th, 2013

I wish more Republicans were like Barack Obama.

Really. Give the president his due: he fights for what he believes in.

In his first year in office, Obama faced a popular backlash against his stimulus spending bill and saw a Republican elected to Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in a referendum on Obamacare. Yet despite these and other setbacks, the president declared he had no intention of moderating his approach. “The one thing I’m really clear about is that I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president,” Obama said in a January 2010 interview.

That attitude is precisely why Obama is a now two-term president.

Instead of backing down in the face of a rising tea party movement, Obama doubled down. He knew full well that that the majority of Americans disagreed with Obamacare, but he believed it was the right thing to do. So he rammed it through Congress, passing it over the near-unanimous opposition of the Republican Party and the objections of the American people.

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Thiessen: After the cliff, a better deal for the GOP
| December 31, 2012 | 10:10 am | Marc Thiessen | No comments

Published for the Washington Post, December 31, 2012

The world did not end when we reached 12/21/12 on the Mayan calendar — and it won’t end when we go over the fiscal cliff at the stroke of midnight. Quite the opposite, the chances for a good tax and debt reduction deal will improve significantly in the New Year.

To see why a good deal is unlikely today, consider: Democrats and Republicans are supposed to be negotiating a deficit reduction deal. Yet according to Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Senate Democrats actually demanded $600 billion in new spending yesterday — more new spending than new tax revenue.

Think about that. Instead of negotiating how best to reduce the deficit — the right mix of tax increases and spending cuts — Democrats wanted to wanted to spend all the tax increases. We should be negotiating over how we are going to reduce the deficit — not whether to reduce the deficit. As Portman tweeted this morning, “Wld b crazy to avoid #fiscalcliff w MORE spending & NO deficit reduction.”

If Democrats are so delusional that 24 hours before we reach the fiscal cliff they are asking Republicans to increase the deficit with $600 billion in new spending, there is little chance they will offer an acceptable compromise before midnight. But the chances for a deal favorable to the GOP will improve dramatically after Jan. 1. Here are three reasons why that is the case:

First, it will be easier to cut a deal when taxes go back to the Clinton rates at midnight — because the baseline for negotiations will be reset. Everything either side proposes will be a tax cut and no one is being asked to violate his or her principles. Under the Clinton rates, it is far easier to see a scenario in which we achieve fundamental tax reform — and both sides can claim victory.

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Thiessen: Why not let taxes rise on the middle class?
| December 28, 2012 | 10:17 am | Marc Thiessen | No comments

Published for The Washington Post, December 28, 2012,

Barring a last-minute breakthrough, taxes will go up for every U.S. taxpayer on Jan. 1 — and that’s a development conservatives should welcome.

Don’t get me wrong: It would be better not to raise taxes on anyone, pursue pro-growth tax reform and cut the size of government instead. But that’s not what the American people voted to do last month. Americans cast their ballots for big government.

Now it’s time to pay for it.

Until now, the growth of government under President Obama has not hit the pocketbooks of most Americans. During Obama’s first term, federal spending grew to more than 24 percent of GDP — the highest it has been since 1946. Yet almost no one in the country (except smokers and those who frequent indoor tanning salons) saw their taxes rise. Quite the opposite: 160 million Americans saw their payroll taxes reduced from 6.2 to 4.2 percent.

How can we expect people to care about the growth of government if it doesn’t cost them anything?

Instead of paying for the current miasma of spending, we’ve been borrowing the money from our children and grandchildren. The national debt has grown by nearly $6 trillion in the four years since Obama took office. That generational theft cannot continue. We must not keep financing big government by passing the bills on to the next generation. Ideally, we would stop the spending binge and live within our means. But if the nation is not up to that, then we should all pitch in and pay for it — all of us.

Sorry, taxing the rich won’t solve our problems — that’s nothing but fiscal snake oil the president has been selling. He is demanding $1.3 trillion in higher taxes on the wealthy over 10 years. Imagine he got it. We are adding nearly that much to the national debt every single year. Taxing the rich would not put even a minor dent in our debt. It would pay for less than three weeks of federal spending every year. The only way to pay for the current expansion of government is to raise taxes on the middle class.

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Thiessen: Republicans should stand and fight
| December 11, 2012 | 9:53 am | Marc Thiessen | No comments

Published for The Washington Post, December 11, 2012

When the 1st Marine Regiment was encircled by communist forces at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, Marine Col. Lewis “Chesty” Puller was said to have declared: “We’re surrounded. Good! Now we can fire in any direction.”

It’s time for congressional Republicans to adopt some of Puller’s courage — and strategy — when it comes to their fiscal stand-off with Barack Obama.

Like Puller’s Marines, the GOP is surrounded. That means Republican leaders have only two options: 1) Surrender. 2) Stand and fight.

Right now, it seems as if they are seeking the least painful way to surrender. It’s time to stand and fight instead. Republicans can still shoot their way out of their current predicament. It won’t be pretty and they will have to fight ugly — but they can still win. Here is a three-step battle plan for doing so:

STEP ONE: Stand your ground on taxes. You’ve already conceded hundreds of billions in new revenue through limiting deductions. If Obama refuses to compromise, pass legislation extending current tax rates for all Americans. Let Obama reject it and take us over the “fiscal cliff” — and then be prepared to live under the Clinton tax rates while negotiations on tax reform continue. In the short term, Americans may blame you. You can recover from that. What you will never recover from is surrendering your principles and giving up your brand as the party of low taxes and limited government.

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Thiessen: Republicans should stand and fight
| December 10, 2012 | 5:22 pm | Marc Thiessen | No comments

Published for The Washington Post, December 10, 2012

When the 1st Marine Regiment was encircled by communist forces at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, Marine Col. Lewis “Chesty” Puller was said to have declared: “We’re surrounded. Good! Now we can fire in any direction.”

It’s time for congressional Republicans to adopt some of Puller’s courage — and strategy — when it comes to their fiscal stand-off with Barack Obama.

Like Puller’s Marines, the GOP is surrounded. That means Republican leaders have only two options: 1) Surrender. 2) Stand and fight.

Right now, it seems as if they are seeking the least painful way to surrender. It’s time to stand and fight instead. Republicans can still shoot their way out of their current predicament. It won’t be pretty and they will have to fight ugly — but they can still win. Here is a three-step battle plan for doing so:

STEP ONE: Stand your ground on taxes. You’ve already conceded hundreds of billions in new revenue through limiting deductions. If Obama refuses to compromise, pass legislation extending current tax rates for all Americans. Let Obama reject it and take us over the “fiscal cliff” — and then be prepared to live under the Clinton tax rates while negotiations on tax reform continue. In the short term, Americans may blame you. You can recover from that. What you will never recover from is surrendering your principles and giving up your brand as the party of low taxes and limited government.

Full post here

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Thiessen: In ‘cliff’ talks, Obama on brink of disaster
| December 4, 2012 | 9:43 am | Marc Thiessen | No comments

Published for The Washington Post, December 4, 2012

Right now, Republicans are running scared in the “fiscal cliff” standoff — and Democrats know it. As Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) crowed last week: “You can smell the winds. When so many Republicans say, ‘Hey, we’re going to have to give in to the Democrats,’ that’s how it works around here.”

Congressional Republicans need to buck up — Obama and the Democrats are overplaying their hand.

The Democrats think they are in a win-win situation. If they bully Republicans into agreeing to raise tax rates before the end of the year, they win — because Democrats get both their new revenue and the self-destruction of the GOP brand as the party of low taxes. If Republicans refuse to cave, Democrats are convinced they still win — because tax rates on the wealthy go up automatically Jan. 1, and they can blame Republicans for any tax increases on the middle class.

This is a major miscalculation. First, their ability to blame the GOP depends on their ability to convince Americans that Republican intransigence is to blame for any failure to reach a year-end deal. But right now, only Democrats are saying they want to go over the cliff. Some — including Schumer and Sen. Patty Murray — are saying so in plain English. With his offer to the GOP last week, President Obama effectively joined the Democratic chorus for fiscal cliff-diving.

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Thiessen: GOP should resist a ‘fiscal cliff’ down payment
| November 27, 2012 | 9:21 am | Marc Thiessen | No comments

Published for The Washington Post, November 27, 2012

With the “fiscal cliff” looming and no “grand bargain” in sight, talk in Washington has turned to a “down payment” — a package of spending cuts and revenue increases that would help us avoid the cliff and give leaders more time to strike a long-term deal. House Speaker John Boehner says such a mini-deal would serve as “a down payment on — and a catalyst for — major solutions, enacted in 2013, that begin to solve the problem.”

Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Passing a down payment now could very well doom the chances for major tax and spending reforms next year.

Since Republicans are (for the moment) holding firm to their opposition to raising tax rates, the only way to increase revenues in a down payment is to close loopholes and limit or eliminate deductions — something Republicans have expressed a willingness to do as part of a larger deal for tax and spending reform.

As the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, there’s a lot more revenue here than most people realize. According to the liberal Tax Policy Center, capping all itemized deductions at $50,000 a year would yield $749 billion in extra revenue over 10 years — almost as much as the $823 billion that President Obama’s plan to raise tax rates on top earners would yield in the same period. Moreover, such a cap would soak the rich first. The top one-fifth of income earners would pay more than 96 percent of the higher taxes.

Full post here 

 

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