Tag Archives: Compromise

White House threatens veto of bipartisan small businesses tax cut bill

It’s actually for research and experimentation, and small businesses.

Investors Business Daily reports on the story.

Excerpt:

The White House move this week to torpedo a deal between House Republicans and Senate Democrats to extend dozens of expiring tax breaks suggests that the executive action legalizing 5 million unauthorized immigrants may have been no fluke: Compromise appears to be near the bottom of President Obama’s agenda for his last two years in office.

Despite — or perhaps because of — the Republican wave election that capsized Democrats’ Senate majority, Obama is tugging his party further left, which could make it harder for the GOP to govern effectively. A shift away from the center might seem counterintuitive, but it’s consistent with the Democrats’ post-mortem election analysis that put the blame on the party’s failure to focus enough on its economic agenda.

The White House’s veto threat, which apparently surprised dealmakers, was “really pretty stunning” considering that soon-to-be-demoted Majority Leader Harry Reid was its quarterback, said Chris Krueger, political analyst at Guggenheim Partners’ Washington Research Group.

In blowing apart the deal, estimated to cost $440 billion over 10 years, the White House lined up behind liberal Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who attacked it as “a massive handout to big corporations” that asks “working families to pick up the tab.”

The Obama administration used the same justification in explaining its threat to veto the bill if it reached the president’s desk: “It would provide permanent tax breaks to help well-connected corporations while neglecting working families.”

The centerpiece of the deal is a $160 billion provision to make permanent and expand a research and experimentation tax credit, an idea that the administration has supported. The next two biggest pieces, both about $73 billion over 10 years, would make permanent the American Opportunity tuition tax credit and an allowance for small businesses to write off capital investments permanently.

Individuals would be able permanently to deduct sales taxes instead of income taxes, important for residents of states like Florida and Texas, at a cost of $34 billion. Controversial wind production taxes would be extended but phased out over two years, costing $20 billion.

Other smaller pieces include extending a financial-crisis related provision to shield the value of written-down mortgage principal from taxation; making permanent an expanded deduction for users of mass transit; and making permanent tax-free charitable contributions from tax-protected retirement accounts.

That last point about being able to give away your retirement plan tax-free is huge for me, because that’s what I planned to do with my 401K when I retire, since it doesn’t look like I am going to ever get married. If that tax break on charitable deductions from retirement accounts is ever revoked, it would be bad news for the apologists and Christian scholars I donate to. But it’s in keeping with the leftist idea that individuals like me are only good for earning money, but it takes a big secular government to know how to spend it. They have other plans for my money, like free abortions, IVF and sex changes. Yay, big government!

What would happen if Paul Ryan headed the Budget committee?

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Rep. Paul Ryan
Rep. Paul Ryan

Politico has a profile of Paul Ryan and discusses his policy ideas.

Excerpt:

Ryan will easily win a seventh term in this swing district. But as this budget wonk is poised to take command of the Budget Committee chairmanship in a Republican House, he’s going to have to navigate factions of no-compromise conservatives and angry post-election liberals if he expects to find a Goldilocks-type solution on the federal budget.

Ryan stands to be the most important player in what may be the most consequential budget debate since the government shutdown of 1995. He is perhaps the only Republican in Congress who seems able to negotiate with both John Boehner and Barack Obama, but he still has to prove that his legendary budget expertise can be translated into real action if he’s granted the power of the Budget Committee gavel.

[…]His critics concede that Ryan is the federal official who has offered the most detailed plan — titled the “Roadmap” — that is currently on the table. Democratic budget experts have begun to measure his approach and his skills, but they voice uncertainty over whether they can do business with him.

“Because of Ryan’s open and engaging personality and intelligence, people like to deal with him. But it’s unclear whether he can reach agreement on big contentious budget issues with people on the other side of the aisle who have strong philosophical differences with him,” said Bob Greenstein, executive director of the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “Will he be willing, despite the radical nature of his proposals, to work out significant compromises in the next two years? We shall see.”

[…]“Paul is more of a detail guy,” said Mike Sommers, policy director for Minority Leader John Boehner. “The road map takes on big issues in a serious way. It is a logical progression of his work. He is dealing in depth with the leading issue of the day.”

Former Sen. Bob Kasten (R-Wis.), who hired Ryan immediately after his 1992 graduation from Miami (Ohio) University, remains a huge fan. “His road map is the real thing on where we need to go. Even Democrats who criticize him respect Paul Ryan for having the courage to show what needs to be done.” Although many of its details may not survive, Kasten said, “the road map will become overarching in the emphasis on reducing spending in the next two years.”

Asked about Ryan’s deal-making skills, he added, “Obama will have to make a decision. If he continues with his Keynesian policies, it will be a nightmare. … Paul doesn’t want to blow up the government. He wants to see it work in a fiscally responsible way.”

As an undergraduate, Ryan majored in economics and he hoped to pursue further studies in economic modeling, notably on currency forecasting. But his job with Kasten led to staff positions with the late Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) at Empower America and then with Sam Brownback of Kansas in both the House and the Senate. He returned to Wisconsin in 1998 to run for an open House seat and was elected at age 28 with an impressive 57 percent win.

If the Republicans take the House, he should be given the Budget Committee gavel.

Should you reject the Biblical view of Hell based on emotions?

I noticed this post up at Dr. Glenn Peoples’ blog.

In the post, he quotes a number of prominent Christian theologians who affirm a belief in Hell, such as Tertullian, Thomas Aquinas, Jonathan Edwards and Isaac Watts. He chooses these people to quote because they seem to argue that the bliss of those who enter Heaven will be enhanced by seeing the suffering of those who are in Hell. I’m not going to cite the lurid passages he does, but I did want to cite his conclusion for you to comment on.

He writes:

But modern believers in eternal torment wouldn’t endorse this, would they? Would they actually endorse a theology of hell in which we sit and watch millions of people, including our lost children and friends, actually being tortured in fire – and would they agree that we will gain happiness and pleasure from the sight?

Glenn holds to the view of annihilationism, such that the damned are annihiliated after being punished.

Now let me just state right off that I have no knowledge of whether I am going to be happy seeing the damned in Hell, that’s not in the Bible, and I have no idea what Heaven will be like.

Now let me briefly provide one or two reasons why I believe in Hell, BASED ON MY EXPERIENCES with non-Christians.

  1. Jesus talks about Hell in the Bible as a real place
  2. Jesus taught that the greatest commandment is to love God
  3. No one desires God and no one wants to be bound by a love relationship with God
  4. Each person is responsible for accepting or rejecting God
  5. People who rebel against God hold to a worldview that is irrational and unsupported by evidence
  6. I have more sympathy for God than I do for people who reject him

My view of Hell is based on my preference for the plain meaning of the Bible over my emotional desires, and my experiences dealing directly with non-Christians during evangelism. I think that annihilationists are just not willing to sit down with non-Christians and ask them why they are not ready to become a Christian. When I do that, I find that non-Christians 1) reject the moral demands of Christianity, 2) justify that selfishness by believing in speculations that make Christianity seem false, and 3) refuse to test those speculations logically or empirically.

Let me give you just one example from my undergraduate tour in university. I met a Mormon friend whom I had known in high school who just returned from his missionary service. By that time, I had discovered apologetics in earnest, so I asked him a question: how do Mormons reconcile their belief in an eternal universe with the evidence for a creation out of nothing?

He replied “we don’t determine our beliefs based on science”.

And I said, “that’s fine. Let me know if you ever get curious about what science says about God, and we can certainly talk about it”.

I keep non-Christians as friends as long as I am able to be myself, and talk about what I believe occasionally. (Although I oppose pursuing amusement and pleasure for its own sake).

Once you have enough encounters like this with atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. you begin to realize that no one wants to talk about whether God exists and what he is really like. No one is looking for an answer to their speculations against Christianity, e.g. – “who made God?”. They just want to get their degrees, get good-paying jobs, and be left alone to pursue pleasure. Some do turn to non-Christian religions and fads of their own choosing, but those are embraced as a means to increased happiness.

My non-Christian male friends are happy to spend their entire lives climbing corporate ladders, chasing women, following sports, drinking, buying geeky junk, and playing video games, etc., rather than setting aside a measly 90 minutes to watch a debate on whether God exists. I actually did a survey of non-Christians a while back, and you can read about their worldviews. Notice how there is no search for truth there. Just a desire for autonomy from any authority that might block their hedonism. It’s really quite in-your-face!

Implicit in any rejection of God is the rejection of Christ’s sacrifice of his own life in place of the life of each sinner. You don’t just walk away from a sacrifice like that. I understand that people have questions about the fairness of the requirement to explicitly confess faith in Christ in order to be reconciled with God, or the problems of evil and suffering, or religious pluralism. But we have answers to those questions. The problem is that non-Christians are not sincere in their desire to find those answers.

What do you expect God to do with such people? This is GOD we are talking about here, people. Not Santa Claus! When I hear people talking about annihilationism, it really makes me wonder whether they read the Bible at all (e.g. – Romans 1), and then bothered themselves to actually test and see if the Bible is correct about its diagnosis of human nature as inherently sinful. In my opinion, what is happening here is that Christians who reject Hell prefer their own emotional desires for the plain meaning of the Bible.

Everyone has to choose whether they sympathize with God or with people who rebel against God. And don’t dismiss me as a meany. My non-Christians friends are the only ones who know whether I treat them well. They are the ones who will have to judge for themselves whether I show love for them by what I do, regardless of my view of Hell. I trust that anyone who knows me personally will accept my apologies to them for expressing my views so harshly, but I think the Bible is clear on this.

UPDATE: Glenn has written to me to assure me that he is not taking his position for any other reason than because he thinks the Bible teaches annihilationism. So, I thought I had better add that here so no one would think ill of him. He has other material on his blog where he makes the Biblical case that I had not looked at.

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Animal rights activists oppose research that can save millions of lives

It is an axiom of my profession (software engineering) that “there is no silver bullet”. Every design decision represents a compromise – a trade-off – between two competing goals. As someone who loves animals very much, I think that it is important that my readers understand the benefit that we get when we allow medical researchers to experiment on animals to develop new cures.

The story is here. (H/T Secondhand Smoke via ECM)

Excerpt:

A new malaria vaccine has been shown to provide 100% protection in mice. If it can approach that level in people, it could slash the toll from one of the world’s worst scourges, according to Stefan Kappe of Seattle Biomedical Research Institute (SBRI). “We’re shooting for 90%-plus protection,” said Kappe, who is the leader of the international collaboration behind the vaccine. “I am extremely optimistic this will work. The initial trials on Kappe’s vaccine are tentatively scheduled to start in January at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval is required.

Either we are going to save many human lives or save a few animal lives. It’s that simple. We cannot do both.