Questions for President Obama: “The $600 billion or so in defense cuts, coming on top of $487 billion in cuts already legislated in 2011, will have a devastating impact on our military capabilities as your own defense secretary and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have warned. The cuts are especially draconian because they will hit every line item in the defense budget equally, regardless of merit. You said during the third presidential debate that the cuts won’t happen. But what will you do to prevent them? So far you’ve been absent from the budget negotiations that have occurred between House and Senate members — and leaders of your party have been dragging their feet because they want to use the threat of defense cuts to bludgeon Republicans into agreeing to tax increases. . . . Are you going to hold the men and women in our armed forces hostage in order to achieve your domestic policy goals?”
The question for Republicans is what will they do about it? “Mitt Romney did a superb job of winning the support of white voters, sweeping almost every white demographic group and rolling up a landslide margin among whites. But that was not enough to win a presidential election in the America of 2012. . . . The handwriting is on the wall. Until Republican candidates figure out how to perform better among non-white voters, especially Hispanics and Asians, Republican presidential contenders will have an extraordinarily difficult time winning presidential elections from this point forward.” Just shouting louder at their white base isn’t going to do it.
He won’t escape questioning. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.): “I have no doubt now that we will need to talk with David Petraeus. And we will likely do that in closed session. But it will be done, one way or the other.”
The FBI has some questions to answer as well. “Senior lawmakers on Monday sharpened their criticism of the FBI over its handling of the investigation that led to the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus.The lawmakers questioned how FBI officials began an investigation into Petraeus and yet did not inform the congressional Intelligence Committee heads — or President Obama — that such a high-level probe was under way.”
Newt Gingrich is asking the right questions. “This was a party-wide defeat and should be thought of as a profound wake up call. The voting population is different than Republican models. The turnout mechanism is different than Republican models. The communications systems (both macro and micro) are different than Republicans thought. . . . For the conservative movement and the Republican Party to succeed in the future (and while they are not identical the two are inextricably bound together) we will have to learn the lessons of 2012. An intellectually honest and courageous Republican Party has nothing to fear from the current situation. If we learn and implement the right lessons we will have a tremendous 2014. If we then continue to implement the right lessons we will win the presidency in 2016.” When enough people agree the GOP’s stance on immigration reform is a major problem Gingrich can be an important leader.
The question is when the Democrats realize that delaying on the fiscal cliff and clinging to tax hikes are only making a recession more likely. “Politicians are locked in a battle that will determine which Americans pay higher taxes. But many investors aren’t waiting to find out the answer. The prospect of higher taxes on capital gains is prompting many to unload some of their winning stocks. Tax-induced selling is one factor some market watchers attribute to the recent declines, including stumbles in highfliers such as Apple, which has tumbled 8.1% this month. Broadly, stocks suffered their worst week of declines in five months.”
The question remains whether there are lawmakers willing to defend defense. “A principal victim in the absence of a deal to address the fiscal crisis has been and will continue to be the national security budget. Republicans and Democrats alike have been prepared to see hundreds of billions of dollars cut from the defense budget, with even more cuts coming if Congress fails to avoid the automatic ‘sequestration.’ The already shrunken foreign-aid budget is also being cut at a time when, in the Middle East, for instance, we need to be spending more, not less, to support stable economies as the basis for democratic reform. It would be one thing if the world were kindly affording us a timeout, a nice period of placidity in international affairs, while we get our house in order. But the world is not cooperating.”