Mike Kueber's Blog

August 9, 2011

Bill O’Reilly’s prescription for America

Filed under: Economics,Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 4:52 am
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The O’Reilly Factor starring Bill O’Reilly is America’s highest rated cable news show.  Although many in America think O’Reilly is a conservative ideologue (like Sean Hannity), those who watch his show know that he isn’t.  In fact, true-blue conservatives think he is downright squishy.  He has been tolerant of President Obama’s policies and skeptical of the TEA Party.  Over the past few months, I think O’Reilly could be fairly characterized as right-center in the political spectrum, just as the American electorate is.

On his show earlier tonight, however, O’Reilly appears to have given up on President Obama and his administration.  His
exceptionally long Talking Points Memo described in detail the President’s failures, most particularly his reluctance to lead, and endorsed the TEA Party mandate for a smaller government.

At the end of the Memo, O’Reilly took the unusual step of proposing specific solutions to America’s fiscal problems.  Perhaps he was trying to provide a contrast to President Obama’s unwillingness to get specific, but if people bother to examine O’Reilly’s solutions, I think they will find them to be problematic:

  1. Return spending to the 2008 level, which would save $920 billion.  This simple-minded proposal reminds me of the Mack-Penny plan to cut spending by 1% a year.  It is nothing but a meaningless target.  You can’t cut entitlement spending by decree – more people are making more claims, and they are “entitled” to be paid.
  2. Institute a small national sales tax to save Medicare and capture income from our $1 trillion
    underground economy
    .  Wow – this is a big idea that would be anathema to the TEA Party because they believe we are Taxed Enough Already.  But they could be persuaded if the tax was essentially revenue neutral.
  3. More revenue by instituting a flat tax and repealing loopholes that allow corporations to stash
    money overseas
    .  I have never heard of anyone who wants a flat tax that raises revenue.  This would be opposed by the left because they want a progressive tax and the right because they don’t want to increase revenue.  Regarding corporate overseas profits, neither the left nor the right proposes confiscating this wealth, and I have no idea why O’Reilly thinks that government should.
  4. Medical tort reform.  According to O’Reilly, sleazy lawyers are fabricating lawsuits that jack up medical costs.  Many states, like Texas, have already legislated in this area, and other states are free to do so.  There is no reason to nationalize this area of law.
  5. Repeal ObamaCare, which is far too expensive for businesses, and let free market drive down medical costs.  This proposal seems to be purely ideological because the free market was doing a terrible job of driving down medical costs before ObamaCare became law.
  6. “Revise somewhat” Medicare and other entitlements.  This may be true with respect to Social Security, but most rational people believe that Medicare and Medicaid need more than a Band-Aid.

If O’Reilly’s prescription were submitted as a budget bill, both sides would declare it to be DOA – i.e., dead on arrival.  But I give him credit for trying, just like the Simpson-Bowles Commission, the Gang of Six, and the Obama-Boehner negotiations.
Nothing will work, however, unless the moderates in the middle take control of the situation.

May 10, 2011

If kill missions are OK, why isn’t torture?

While watching Bill O’Reilly’s TV show last night, I learned two things:

  1. His show, The O’Reilly Factor, is taped.  I learned this fact when Bill closed the show by saying he was in Boston to watch the Celtics’ game against the Miami Heat.  I immediately changed channels and joined the Celtic/Heat game at the start of the fourth quarter.  Although I had assumed that some of the show’s segments might be taped, I am a bit disappointed that the show is not as lively as it seems.  Don’t tell me that Bryan Williams isn’t live.
  2. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon is not ready for prime time.  On Sunday I saw Donilon on Meet the Press (his first appearance) and was struck by his lack of command.  Although he was given relatively easy questions from David Gregory about the highly successful Osama mission, he continually gave nonresponsive answers.  Even worse, his talking points were poorly drafted and horribly delivered.  In reviewing the transcript, I counted six times where he said, “With regard to that, I’d like to make (two, three, or four) points.”  Last night’s The O’Reilly Factor showed that Donilon also appeared on FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace and was completely unable to answer Wallace’s question about why the Obama administration was unwilling to waterboard a terrorist, but it was willing to shoot an unarmed terrorist.  Although Donilon was obviously prepped for his interviews, this line of questioning seemed to catch him off-guard and he was completely unable to think on his feet.  If I were President Obama, I would keep this guy away from public interviews.

Regarding an appropriate answer, I haven’t seen the pundits discuss Wallace’s question.  In my opinion, the terrorists should be treated like the enemy combatants that they are.  Therefore, it is appropriate to kill a combatant unless he is “conspicuously surrendering,” but after surrendering, it is wrong to torture him.  This, of course, begs the question, because we don’t have an agreement on whether waterboarding is torture.  I think I agree with O’Reilly and Bush-43 – i.e., waterboarding is borderline torture than should be utilized only in extenuating circumstances authorized by POTUS. 

Most people forget that, when Bush-43 authorized waterboarding against three terrorists, he declined to authorize two types of enhanced interrogation that he concluded crossed the line into torture.  Perhaps there is a Pulitzer waiting for the enterprising journalist who identifies those types of interrogation.