Friday, December 31, 2010
What are our priorities?
• We can leave tax rates alone and massively cut spending. Even over a ten year horizon, this would effectively mean the end of Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and robust defense spending. It would also structurally weaken our economy as the multiplier effect of such cuts would be profound.
• We can leave spending alone and massively raise taxes. This would produce a better economy than the first option, but we would still be operating well under capacity. Eventually, the lack of spending discipline would not bode well in the markets and our Arab and Chinese creditors would insist upon ever higher interest rates on our trillions of dollars of debt.
• We can prudently cut spending and reform entitlements “bending the curve” of costs relative to GDP. We can carefully raise/reform taxes to eventually bring in 21% - 25% of GDP, the amount determined by the scope of the aforementioned spending cuts and entitlement reforms. We can structurally align the budget so that spending and revenues are in synch. We’ll have deficits during recessions and surpluses during growth. You remember – like we had under Clinton.
The options above are our honest choices. We will not “grow our way out” of this massive deficit, as Reagan and Bush promised when cutting taxes. Hard choices will need to be made – the kind that we have mostly avoided the past thirty years.
What the release did not mention is the loss of 63 House and six Senate seats, and a mid-December Gallup poll approval rating of 13%. Never has a Congress done so much and been so despised for it.
While this may appear to be a contradiction, it is no accident or even much of a surprise. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party had been waiting since the 1960s for its next great political opening, as we warned in an October 17, 2008 editorial, "A Liberal Supermajority." Critics and some of our readers scored us at the time for exaggerating, but in retrospect we understated the willful nature of that majority.
Democrats achieved 60 Senate votes by an historical accident of prosecutorial abuse (Ted Stevens), a stolen election (Al Franken) and a betrayal (Arlen Specter). They then attempted to do nearly everything we expected, regardless of public opinion, and they only stopped because the clock ran out.
The real story of 2010 is that the voters were finally able to see and judge this liberal agenda in its unvarnished form. For once, there was no Republican President to muddle the message or divide the accountability. The public was able to compare the promise of 8% unemployment if the government spent $812 billion on "stimulus" with the 9.8% jobless result. They stood athwart liberal history in the making and said, "Stop."
Note well, however, that the Democrats still standing on Capitol Hill remain unchastened. In her exit interviews, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she would do it all the same way again, and her colleagues have seconded her lack of remorse by keeping her as their leader despite their November thumping. Her consolation to defeated Democrats was not to invite them to the House caucus meeting when she denounced President Obama's tax deal with Republicans.
Note, too, that the organized left and its media allies are also beginning to rewrite the story of the 111th Congress as an historical triumph. The same people who claimed that ObamaCare was a defeat because it lacked a public option are suddenly noting it will put 32 million more Americans on the government health-care dole. It won't be long before liberals and the press are defending the 111th Congress's every achievement as historic.
There is a lesson here both about modern liberalism and for Republicans who will soon have more power in Congress. For today's left, the main goal of politics is not to respond to public opinion. The goal is to impose the dream of an egalitarian entitlement state whether the public likes it or not. Sooner or later, they figure, the anger will subside and Americans will come to like the cozy confines of the cradle-to-grave welfare state.
This is the great Democratic bet with ObamaCare. The assumption is that once the benefits start to flow in 2013 the constituency for "free" health care will grow. As spending and deficits climb, the pressure for higher taxes will become inexorable and the GOP will splinter into its balanced budget and antitax wings. A value-added tax or some other money-machine will pass and guarantee that the government will control 40% to 50% of all economic resources.
If the price of this bet was losing control of the House for a moment in time in 2010, Mrs. Pelosi's view is so be it. You have to break a few Blue Dog careers to build a European welfare state. Liberals figure that as long as President Obama can be re-elected in 2012, their gamble will pay off and the legacy of the 111th Congress will be secure. The cheerleaders will write books about it.
The lesson for Republicans is to understand the nature of their political opponents and this long-term bet. The GOP can achieve all kinds of victories in the next two years, and some of them will be important for economic growth. But the main chance is ObamaCare, which will fundamentally change the balance of power between government and individuals if it is not repealed or replaced.
While repeal will no doubt founder in the Senate in the next two years, Republicans can still use their House platform to frame the debate for 2012. They can hold hearings to educate the public about rising insurance costs and other nasty ObamaCare consequences. And they can use the power of the purse to undermine its implementation.
The difference between the work of the 111th Congress and that of either the Great Society or New Deal is that the latter were bipartisan and in the main popular. This Congress's handiwork is profoundly unpopular and should become more so as its effects become manifest. In 2010, Americans saw liberalism in the raw and rejected it. The challenge for Republicans is to repair the damage before it becomes permanent.
Forget the liberal hype about a comeback: 2010 was a stunningly bad year for Barack Obama, and 2011 could be even worse
Ignore the revisionist hype in sections of the liberal media about President Obama staging a (mythical) political comeback – this is a presidency with an approval rating of 45 percent (according to the RealClear Politics poll of polls), that presides over a nation where just 27 percent of voters think the country is moving in the right direction, and which just 29 percent of Americans think will be returned to power in 2012. The White House may be claiming a couple of political wins in the dying embers of the lame duck Congress after expending a great deal of political capital in the Senate over the reckless ratification of the Moscow-friendly START Treaty and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but these are issues barely on the radar screens of most American voters in the lead-up to 2012, an election which will be dominated by the economy and health care reform.
The political landscape still looks strikingly bleak for the “transformational president” as he goes into 2011. 2010 was a stunningly bad year for Barack Obama, no matter how much the likes of The New York Times or The Washington Post might try to sugar coat it. Here are four key reasons why it was a year Obama will want to forget:
1. The midterm elections were a defeat of epic proportions for the Obama Presidency
When Barack Obama spoke of a “shellacking” at the midterms, it was a huge understatement. The Republicans scored a significantly bigger win than they did in 1994, with their biggest gain in the House of Representatives in 62 years – since 1948. Fortunately for the Democrats, just 37 Senate seats were up for election, preventing what would have been an almost certain handover of power in the upper house too. Republicans also made huge gains at the gubernatorial level, with the GOP now holding 29 governorships to the Democrats’ 20. Republicans also picked up 680 seats in state legislatures, the highest figure in the modern era.
2. Conservatism grew increasingly dominant in America
The midterms were certainly no flash in the pan, but part of a broader conservative revolution that swept America in 2010. As a recent Gallup survey showed, 48 percent of Americans now describe themselves as “conservative”, compared to 32 percent who call themselves “moderate”, and just 20 percent who call themselves “liberal”. Conservatives now outnumber liberals by nearly 2.5 to 1, a ratio that is likely to increase in 2011. The percentage of Americans who are conservative has risen six points since 2006 and eight points since 1994. Barack Obama, the most liberal US president of the modern era, has a natural liberal constituency comprised of just one in five Americans, which certainly does not bode well for 2012.
3. The Left lost ground and engaged in a brutal civil war
2010 was a monumentally bad year for the liberal establishment in the United States, not only in electoral terms but in terms of increasing divisions within its ranks, as well as the continuing decline of the “mainstream” liberal media. Conservative media, from Fox News to The Wall Street Journal, have had a tremendous year, increasing market share while establishment giants from CNN to network news outlets continue to decline. The White House unwisely took on Fox in a major offensive, and spectacularly lost. Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and a constellation of conservative talk show hosts have had a bumper 2010. In the meantime, America’s disillusioned liberal elites are increasingly aiming their fire at each other, in scenes reminiscent of the bloodthirsty finale of Reservoir Dogs. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman perfectly captured the brutal post-midterm atmosphere on the Left in a fiery broadside against the president: “Whatever is going on inside the White House, from the outside it looks like moral collapse — a complete failure of purpose and loss of direction.”
4. The Tea Party became more powerful than the president at the ballot box
The Tea Party was the big victor of 2010, and spectacularly humiliated the White House by running rings around it. A small grassroots movement with barely any resources evolved into the most successful US political movement of this generation, sparking a national protest against the Big Government policies of the Obama administration, and a powerful call for a return to America’s founding principles. The Tea Party was initially mocked and jeered by its political opponents, including the president, but later came to be feared by the Left as it flexed tremendous political muscle. As I noted in September, a CNN poll showed that “while just 37 percent of Americans are more likely to vote for a candidate if backed by Barack Obama, a far larger 50 percent will vote for a Tea-Party endorsed candidate.” The Tea Party continues to gain momentum following the midterms, where it scored significant successes, and a late November USA Today/Gallup poll showed the Tea Party virtually neck and neck with President Obama in terms of voter opinion on who should influence government policy.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Though his football remarks got the most attention in our sports-crazed culture, the throw-away line about China provided the legs that carried the story to “NBC Nightly News” and the BBC. Just this month, U.S. education officials were surprised by a report that showed students in China outperforming American kids by a wide margin in reading, math and science.
Pre-wussification, we were an economic powerhouse, and our children were the best-educated in the world, until we decided to sheathe our little princes and princesses in bubble wrap. We give them graduation ceremonies for getting through nursery school, a trophy just for showing up at soccer. We’ve removed play from the playground to keep them from scraping a knee. We intervene like lawyers in every dispute.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
GOP candidates rush to get into Senate racesPhilip Elliott
Friday, December 24, 2010
Despite the deficit commission's call for tax reform with fewer tax credits and lower marginal tax rates, the left wing of the Democratic Party remains passionate about making the U.S. tax system more and more progressive. They claim this is all about payback—that raising the highest tax rates is the fair thing to do because top income groups supposedly received huge windfalls from the Bush tax cuts. As the headline of a Robert Creamer column in the Huffington Post put it: "The Crowd that Had the Party Should Pick up the Tab."
Arguments for these retaliatory tax penalties invariably begin with estimates by economists Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics and Emmanuel Saez of U.C. Berkeley that the wealthiest 1% of U.S. households now take home more than 20% of all household income.
This estimate suffers two obvious and fatal flaws. The first is that the "more than 20%" figure does not refer to "take home" income at all. It refers to income before taxes (including capital gains) as a share of income before transfers. Such figures tell us nothing about whether the top percentile pays too much or too little in income taxes.
In The Journal of Economic Perspectives (Winter 2007), Messrs. Piketty and Saez estimated that "the upper 1% of the income distribution earned 19.6% of total income before tax [in 2004], and paid 41% of the individual federal income tax." No other major country is so dependent on so few taxpayers.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Things ended up going much better than anticipated, huh? Obama looked so weak - absent leadership - just three weeks ago. It looked like he had been cowed by McConnell, the threat of Filibuster and the impending GOP House. Now, he hops on Air Force One headed to Hawaii looking like a conquering hero. Looking back at his first two years, it is hard not to be awed. We on the center and left should not second guess this guy. As Bob Shrum pointed out last night, he has earned our respect and confidence. We need to give him space and let him operate without a lot of guff. He will have plenty of battles ahead with the right and many ambitious would-be presidents.
It might be said that Obama has True Grit.
Speaking of which, I re-watched the classic on TIVO last night and this morning. What a GREAT MOVIE. Scene after scene was so compelling. I can barely talk about Little Blackie or the ending. I can't wait to see the new one with Bridges & Damon.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Except that there is a point regarding the spending of current contributions and the lack of perspective by our elected officials.
We need to raise the retirement age and we need to come to grips with the idea of....we can't afford everything.
Let’s get a few things straight…
1. As a career politician, you have been on the public dole for FIFTY YEARS…
2. I have been paying Social Security taxes for 48 YEARS (since I was 15 years old. I am now 63)…
3. My Social Security payments, and those of millions of other Americans, were safely tucked away in an interest bearing account for decades until you political pukes decided to raid the account and give OUR money to a bunch of zero ambition losers in return for votes, thus bankrupting the system and turning Social Security into a Ponzi scheme that would have made Bernie Madoff proud…
4. Recently, just like Lucy & Charlie Brown, you and your ilk pulled the proverbial football away from millions of American seniors nearing retirement and moved the goalposts for full retirement from age 65 to age 67. NOW, you and your shill commission is proposing to move the goalposts YET AGAIN…
5. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying into Medicare from Day One, and now you morons propose to change the rules of the game. Why? Because you idiots mismanaged other parts of the economy to such an extent that you need to steal money from Medicare to pay the bills…
6. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying income taxes our entire lives, and now you propose to increase our taxes yet again. Why? Because you incompetent bastards spent our money so profligately that you just kept on spending even after you ran out of money. Now, you come to the American taxpayers and say you need more to pay of YOUR debt…
To add insult to injury, you label us “greedy” for calling “bullshit” on your incompetence. Well, Captain Bullshit, I have a few questions for YOU…
1. How much money have you earned from the American taxpayers during your pathetic 50-year political career?
2. At what age did you retire from your pathetic political career, and how much are you receiving in annual retirement benefits from the American taxpayers?
3. How much do you pay for YOUR government provided health insurance?
4. What cuts in YOUR retirement and healthcare benefits are you proposing in your disgusting deficit reduction proposal, or, as usual, have you exempted yourself and your political cronies?
It is you, Captain Bullshit, and your political co-conspirators who are “greedy”. It is you and they who have bankrupted America and stolen the American dream from millions of loyal, patriotic taxpayers. And for what? Votes. That’s right, sir. You and yours have bankrupted America for the sole purpose of advancing your pathetic political careers. You know it, we know it, and you know that we know it.
And you can take that to the bank, you miserable ___ __ _ _____.
Always say what you mean ! !
always mean what you say ! !
NEVER COMPROMISE ........
Sunday, December 19, 2010
In 2010, though, Hatch and Bennett’s votes were different.
“The American people want the government to secure our borders, create jobs and reduce the deficit.” Hatch said. “Instead, Senate leadership is insisting on ignoring the will of the people.
Why the turnaround? In July, “If they’ve lived good lives, if they’ve done good things, why would we penalize them and not let them at least go to school?”
But his spokeswoman, Antonia Ferrier, was careful at the time to point out that Hatch had not signed on to the current version of the DREAM Act. “He believes that we have to get tough on border security because the American people will have no faith in any immigration legislation until we do that,” she said in an email.
And The Republican leadership can't figure why they can't attract "the brown vote." Orrin just could not find the time to vote on the dream act, what a guy! I guess I if your parents carried you across the border at a young age and your willing to get shot at to gain citizenship it's just not enough for you republicans. Orrin born on base in the right zip code as Eric has said many times, they just can't see beyond themselves. What a selfish bunch of bastards!
Monday, December 13, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
The freedom to employ children in manufacturing? The freedom to keep kids out of school to work in the fields? The freedom to pay workers low wages and require a six day, 72 hour work week? Freedom to die in the streets for lack of basic health care?
We had that "freedom" 100 years ago. It is the progressive movement, the New Deal, and similar policies that created our huge middle class. Genuine, sustainable prosperity is not delivered by Republicans. You need only look at the last century for verification.
The crux! A Conservative believes that free people will achieve and act nobly. A Progressive belief is that absent government intervention we will enslave and ignore our fellow citizens. A Conservative believes in his fellow man and understands that left to his own and owning his self and his property, prosperity will ultimately ensue. A Progressive abdicates that responsibility believing that for the greater good, individual achievement and private property must be subordinated.
I'm glad I'm a Conservative. So are the citizens of previous communist countries. Their central planning did not exactly "work out".
By WALTER WILLIAMS
Immorality in government lies at the heart of our nation's problems. Deficits, debt and runaway government are merely symptoms. What's moral and immoral conduct can be complicated, but needlessly so. I keep things simple and you tell me where I go wrong.
My initial assumption is that we each own ourselves. I am my private property and you are yours. If we accept the notion that people own themselves, then it's easy to discover what forms of conduct are moral and immoral.
Immoral acts are those that violate self-ownership. Murder, rape, assault and slavery are immoral because those acts violate private property. So is theft, broadly defined as taking the rightful property of one person and giving it to another.
Who Owns You?
If it is your belief that people do not belong to themselves, they are in whole or in part the property of the U.S. Congress, or people are owned by God, who has placed the U.S. Congress in charge of managing them, then all of my observations are simply nonsense.
Let's look at some congressional actions in light of self-ownership. Do farmers and businessmen have a right to congressional handouts? Does a person have a right to congressional handouts for housing, food and medical care?
First, let's ask: Where does Congress get handout money? One thing for sure, it's not from the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus, nor is it congressmen reaching into their own pockets.
The only way for Congress to give one American one dollar is to first, through the tax code, take that dollar from some other American. It must forcibly use one American to serve another American.
The passions that swirled around Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court case that ended 10 years ago Sunday, dissipated quickly. And remarkably little damage was done by the institutional collisions that resulted when control of the nation's supreme political office turned on 537 votes out of 5,963,110 cast in Florida.
Many controversies concerned whether particular votes could be said to have been cast properly. Chads are those bits of paper that, when a ballot is properly cast by puncturing spots next to candidates' names, are separated from the ballot. In Florida, there were "dimpled" chads that were merely dented and "hanging" chads not separated from the ballots. Furthermore, there were undervotes (ballots with no vote for president) and overvotes (votes for two presidential candidates) and ill-designed (by a Democrat) butterfly ballots.
The post-election lunacy could have been substantially mitigated by adhering to a principle of personal responsibility: Voters who cast ballots incompetently are not entitled to have election officials toil to divine these voters' intentions. Al Gore got certain Democratic-dominated canvassing boards to turn their recounts into unfettered speculations and hunches about the intentions of voters who submitted inscrutable ballots. Before this, Palm Beach County had forbidden counting dimpled chads.
Once Gore initiated the intervention of courts, the U.S. Constitution was implicated. On Nov. 7, Gore finished second in Florida's Election Day vote count. A few days later, after the state's mandatory (in close elections) machine recount, he again finished second. Florida law required counties to certify their results in seven days, by Nov. 14.
But three of the four (of Florida's 67) counties - each heavily Democratic - where Gore was contesting the count were not finished deciphering voters' intentions. So Gore's lawyers persuaded the easily persuadable state Supreme Court - with a majority of Democratic appointees - to rewrite the law. It turned the seven-day period into 19 days.
Many liberals underwent instant conversions of convenience: They became champions of states' rights when the U.S. Supreme Court (seven of nine were Republican appointees) unanimously overturned that extension. But the U.S. high court reminded Florida's court to respect the real "states' rights" at issue - the rights of state legislatures: The Constitution gives them plenary power to establish procedures for presidential elections.
Florida's Supreme Court felt emancipated from law. When rewriting the law to extend the deadline for certification of results by the four counties, the court said: "The will of the people, not a hyper-technical reliance upon statutory provisions, should be our guiding principle." But under representative government, the will of the people is expressed in statutes. Adherence to statutes - even adherence stigmatized as "hyper-technical" - is known as the rule of law.
In the end, seven of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices (and three of the seven Florida justices) agreed on this: The standardless recount ordered by the Florida court - different rules in different counties regarding different kinds of chads and different ways of discerning voter intent - violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection of the laws.
Two of the seven U.S. justices favored ordering Florida's court to devise standards that could pass constitutional muster and allowing the recount to continue for six more days. Five justices, believing that the recounting had become irredeemably lawless, ended it.
Once Gore summoned judicial intervention, and Florida's Supreme Court began to revise state election law, it probably was inevitable that possession of the nation's highest political office was going to be determined by a state's highest court or the nation's. The U.S. Supreme Court was duty-bound not to defer to a state court that was patently misinterpreting - disregarding, actually - state law pertaining to a matter assigned by the U.S. Constitution to state legislatures.
Suppose that, after Nov. 7, Florida's Legislature had made by statute the sort of changes - new deadlines for recounting and certifying votes, selective recounts, etc. - that Florida's Supreme Court made by fiat. This would obviously have violated the federal law that requires presidential elections to be conducted by rules in place prior to Election Day.
Hard cases, it is said, make bad law. But this difficult case seems to have made little discernible law. That is good because it means no comparable electoral crisis has occurred. What the Supreme Court majority said on Dec. 12, 2000 - "our consideration is limited to the present circumstances" - has proved true. And may remain true, at least until the next time possession of the presidency turns on less than one ten-thousandth of a state's vote.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Wish her luck, she seem to follow Reagans dictom, no telling how far you can get if you don't care who get's the credit. I'm not sure she runs.
The publication of the findings of the president's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform was indeed, as the report was titled, "A Moment of Truth." The report shows we're much closer to the budgetary breaking point than previously assumed.
The commission itself calculates that, even if all of its recommendations are implemented, the federal budget will continue to balloon—to an estimated $5 trillion in 2020, from an already unprecedented $3.5 trillion today. The commission makes only a limited effort to cut spending below the current trend set by the Obama administration.
Among the few areas of spending it does single out for cuts is defense—the one area where we shouldn't be cutting corners at a time of war. Worst of all, the commission's proposals institutionalize the current administration's new big spending commitments, including ObamaCare. Not only does it leave ObamaCare intact, but its proposals would lead to a public option being introduced by the backdoor, with the chairmen's report suggesting a second look at a government-run health-care program if costs continue to soar.
It also implicitly endorses the use of "death panel"-like rationing by way of the new Independent Payments Advisory Board—making bureaucrats, not medical professionals, the ultimate arbiters of what types of treatment will (and especially will not) be reimbursed under Medicare.
The commission's recommendations are a disappointment. That doesn't mean, though, that the commission's work was a wasted effort. For one thing, it has exposed the large and unsustainable deficits that the Obama administration has created through its reckless "spend now, tax later" policies. It also establishes a clear bipartisan consensus on the need to fundamentally reform our entitlement programs. We need a better plan to build on these conclusions with common-sense reforms to tackle our long-term funding crisis in a sustainable way.
In my view, a better plan is the Roadmap for America's Future produced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.).
On health care, it would replace ObamaCare with a new system in which people are given greater control over their own health-care spending. It achieves this partly through creating medical savings accounts and a new health-care tax credit—the only tax credit that would be left in a radically simplified new income tax system that people can opt into if they wish.
The Roadmap would also replace our high and anticompetitive corporate income tax with a business consumption tax of just 8.5%. The overall tax burden would be limited to 19% of GDP (compared to 21% under the deficit commission's proposals). Beyond that, Rep. Ryan proposes fundamental reform of Medicare for those under 55 by turning the current benefit into a voucher with which people can purchase their own care.
On Social Security, as with Medicare, the Roadmap honors our commitments to those who are already receiving benefits by guaranteeing all existing rights to people over the age of 55. Those below that age are offered a choice: They can remain in the traditional government-run system or direct a portion of their payroll taxes to personal accounts, owned by them, managed by the Social Security Administration and guaranteed by the federal government. Under the Roadmap's proposals, they can pass these savings onto their heirs. The current Medicaid system, the majority of which is paid for by the federal government but administered by the states, would be replaced by a block-grant system that would reward economizing states.
Together these reforms help to secure our entitlement programs for the 21st century. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Roadmap would lead to lower deficits and a much lower federal debt. The CBO estimates that under current spending plans, our federal debt would rise to 87% of GDP by 2020, to 223% by 2040, and to 433% by 2060. Under Rep. Ryan's Roadmap, the CBO estimates that debt would rise much more slowly, peaking at 99% in 2040 and then dropping back to 77% by 2060.
Put simply: Our country is on the path toward bankruptcy. We must turn around before it's too late, and the Roadmap offers a clear plan for doing so.
For two years, President Barack Obama has pretended that terrorism is a crime, that prisoners are unwanted, and that Gitmo is unneeded. As a presidential candidate, he declared: "It's time to show the world . . . we're not a country that runs prisons which lock people away without ever telling them why they're there or what they're charged with." Upon taking office, he ordered Gitmo closed within the year.
But the president's embrace of the left's terrorism-as-crime theories collided with his responsibility to protect a great nation. Now the reality of the ongoing war on terror is helping to shatter the Gitmo myth and end its distortion of our antiterrorism strategies.
This week the intelligence community reported to Congress that one-quarter of the detainees released from Guantanamo in the past eight years have returned to the fight. Though the U.S. and its allies have killed or recaptured some of these 150 terrorists, well over half remain at large. The Defense Department reports that Gitmo alumni have assumed top positions in al Qaeda and the Taliban, attacked allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and led efforts to kill U.S. troops.
It surely is not Unions, Welfare or Social Justice
But, says the rational man, we can't afford free lollipops, we told you that years ago when we started giving them out. We told you we would eventually go broke. We don't have the money.
Yes you are right, we can't afford them, you greedy rational man, you need to buy more, and without free lollipops everyone will be sad so now we also need free gummy bears.
Free gummy bears? I just told you we could not afford lollipops and now you are adding gummy bears? We certainly can't afford gummy bears.
We can afford gummy bears for everyone if you will just buy them you upper earner you.
But I can't afford to "earn" if you keep taking so much of my "earnings". Why can't people buy their own gummy bears and lollipops?
Because you bad rational man, people need help, and because you work so hard and take so much of the "money", we need to extend the current extra syrup offer for another year, it is so hard to find syrup and being without syrup makes people sad.
But, says the rational man, if we have no money and I said we can't afford free lollipops or gummy bears, how do you think we can afford free syrup?
Because you are not giving enough Mr. ultra rich person.
But, people like me already pay over 70% of the taxes, over 50% of my income is taken and over 50% of everyone else does not even pay taxes! And all that sweet stuff will give everyone a tummy ache.
Free Health Care!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
So Simple that a Caveman Could Understand:
Next thing you know Madoff is one of the most hated men in America and he is off to jail. Some of you know this, but not enough of you.
Madoff did to his investors what the government has been doing to us for over 70 years with Social Security. There is no meaningful difference between the two schemes, except that one was operated by a private individual who is now in jail, and the other is operated by politicians who enjoy perks, privileges and status in spite of their actions.
Do you need a side-by-side comparison here? Well here's a nifty little chart.
'The taxpayer: Someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination.'
- Ronald Reagan
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Here's the real story. For three decades, an increasing share of the benefits of economic growth have gone to the top 1 percent. Thirty years ago, the top got 9 percent of total income. Now they take in almost a quarter. Meanwhile, the earnings of the typical worker have barely budged.
The vast middle class no longer has the purchasing power to keep the economy going. (The rich spend a much lower portion of their incomes.) The crisis was averted before now only because middle-class families found ways to keep spending more than they took in -- by women going into paid work, by working longer hours, and finally by using their homes as collateral to borrow. But when the housing bubble burst, the game was up. Now tell me about trickle down again I forgot!
The guy who extended the tax rates for everybody after promising to let them expire for the "rich" and making them his number 2 issue won?
They guy who promised to close Gitmo (Issue number 1) the funded of which has now been eliminated, by his own party, is sitting pretty.
And....and I just love this...the plan outlined by the former Speaker of the House to stimulate the economy... wait...here it is...make sure unemployment insurance is extended to over 3 years. Yes! That is a winning plan, support (but lose) tax increases on job creators and fund unemployment?
It is obvious that the "O" is attempting to triangulate, however it is unclear if pissy triangulation is possible...could either Rich?
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Debates about judicial review concern the propriety and scope of judicial supervision of democracy and involve the countermajoritarian dilemma: How to square the principle of popular sovereignty with the practice of allowing appointed judges, accountable to no contemporary constituency, to overturn laws enacted by elected legislators? A case destined for the Supreme Court concerns the health-care law. The Constitution establishes a government of limited and enumerated powers. Which one empowers Congress to force individuals to purchase health insurance and to punish those who do not?
Supporters of the mandate answer: the power to regulate interstate commerce. Opponents reply: Unless that power is infinitely elastic, it does not authorize Congress to forbid the inactivity of not purchasing a product from a private company. If the power is infinitely elastic, Congress can do anything - eat your broccoli, or else - and America no longer has a limited government.
Fortunately, a Texas judge recently wrote an opinion that provides pertinent clarity about the tension between judging and majoritarianism. The Texas Supreme Court, on which Don Willett sits, struck down a law for violating the Texas Constitution's prohibition of retroactive laws. The law immunized one company from a pending lawsuit by a man dying of asbestos exposure. The question was: Should the court blindly defer to the Legislature's judgment that its police power - its general authority to protect the public welfare - trumped the constitutional ban on retroactive legislation?
Has the U.S. Supreme Court construed the commerce clause so permissively that Congress has seized, by increments, a sweeping police power that enables it to do virtually anything it wants? Willett's words, applied to the Obamacare mandate debate, highlight this question: When does judicial deference to legislative majorities become dereliction of the judicial duty to discern limits to what majorities are lawfully permitted to do?
Thus a legislature's judgment that a measure is desirable does not relieve a court of the duty to judge whether it is constitutional. "The political branches decide if laws pass; courts decide if laws pass muster," wrote Willett. Judges must recognize that legislators' policymaking primacy "is not constitutional carte blanche to regulate all spheres of everyday life; pre-eminence does not equal omnipotence."
The judiciary's role as referee of constitutional disputes is, Willett says, "confined yet consequential." But, "If judicial review means anything, it is that judicial restraint does not allow everything." And there can come a "constitutional tipping point" where, by excessive deference to a legislature in the face of a constitutional limitation, "adjudication more resembles abdication." Then a state's police power (or Congress's power under the commerce clause) can "extinguish constitutional liberties with nonchalance."
Like the U.S. Constitution, the Texas Constitution, Willett notes, is "irrefutably framed in proscription." It "declares an emphatic 'no' to myriad government undertakings," no matter how much a majority might desire them. So does the U.S. Constitution, as in the first words of the Bill of Rights: "Congress shall make no law . . ."
"There is," Willett explains, "a profound difference between an activist judge and an engaged judge." The former creates rights not specified or implied by the Constitution. The latter defends rights the Framers actually placed there and prevents the elected branches from usurping the judiciary's duty to declare what the Constitution means. Let us hope the Supreme Court justices are engaged when considering the insurance mandate.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
David Laidler: Many commentators are claiming that, in Japan, with short interest rates essentially at zero, monetary policy is as expansionary as it can get, but has had no stimulative effect on the economy. Do you have a view on this issue?Milton Friedman: Yes, indeed. As far as Japan is concerned, the situation is very clear. And it’s a good example. I’m glad you brought it up, because it shows how unreliable interest rates can be as an indicator of appropriate monetary policy.During the 1970s, you had the bubble period. Monetary growth was very high. There was a so-called speculative bubble in the stock market. In 1989, the Bank of Japan stepped on the brakes very hard and brought money supply down to negative rates for a while. The stock market broke. The economy went into a recession, and it’s been in a state of quasi recession ever since. Monetary growth has been too low. Now, the Bank of Japan’s argument is, “Oh well, we’ve got the interest rate down to zero; what more can we do?”It’s very simple. They can buy long-term government securities, and they can keep buying them and providing high-powered money until the high powered money starts getting the economy in an expansion. What Japan needs is a more expansive domestic monetary policy.The Japanese bank has supposedly had, until very recently, a zero interest rate policy. Yet that zero interest rate policy was evidence of an extremely tight monetary policy.Essentially, you had deflation. The real interest rate was positive; it was not negative. What you needed in Japan was more liquidity.
Note, though, that his emphasis is still on expanding the monetary base as much as needed to start and maintain an economic expansion. This implies he saw an excess money demand problem in Japan, just as there is one today in the United States. He understood, though, the need to expand the monetary base through purchases of long-term securities rather than short-term ones. This is because short-term securities are close to a perfect substitute for the monetary base at a zero percent policy rate. Swapping perfect substitutes does not change anything in one's portfolio of assets and therefore has no effect on spending. Thus, Friedman saw the need for purchasing long-term securities, which are not perfect substitutes with the monetary base.
Although Milton Friedman probably would have preferred a rule-based approach to QE2, this excerpt is the smoking gun that ends all debate on whether he would have supported QE2. The case is closed.
Madison’s general discussion of balance of power as it is addressed in the proposed Constitution reflects his views on securing liberties for individuals and minority segments while limiting the power of government and seeing that it derives its power from the people and is responsive to the collective needs.
He describes the purpose of government as ‘justice.’ And states that, ‘if men were angels, government would be unnecessary.’
It is impressive to see with 20-20 hindsight how well we have been served by the US Constitution, and although it has been amended from time to time, the bulk of the framework remains intact.
Madison begins by asking how power is to be partitioned in the government. He answers, “by so contriving the interior structure of the government as that its several constituent parts may by their mutual relations, be the means of keeping each other in their proper places.”
He goes on to argue that the branches of government should be designed to have a ‘will of their own.’ “…and consequently should be so constituted that the members of each should have as little agency as possible in the appointment of the members of the others.”
He goes on to say that if this principle were rigorously adhered to all appointments would be made by the people. He then goes on to offer a specific example, selection of federal judges, which because of the specialized qualifications required the best mode of choice should be the one that best ‘secures these qualifications.’ Further as the federal bench appointments are appointments for life it will, ‘soon destroy all sense of dependence on the authority conferring them.’ Meaning that the judges will not be beholden to the body that appointed them and that there is less cause for concern that they will behave in a biased manner once appointed.
He specifically states that the separate branches and departments of government should be constituted so that, ‘each department has the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others.’
“Ambition must be made to counterattack ambition.”
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”
“But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature.”
“..you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
Always concerned about a tyranny of the majority, he writes, “A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”
Regarding the apparent dominant role of the legislative branch, he writes, “The remedy for inconveniency is to dived the legislature into different branches; and to render them, by different modes of election and different principles of action, as little connected with each other as the nature of their common functions and their common dependence on the society will admit.”
Specifically in defense of the proposed American constitution, he argues, “ In the compound republic of America, the power surrendered by the people is first divided between two distinct governments, and then the portion allotted to each subdivided among distinct and separate departments. Hence a double security arises to the rights of the people. The different governments will control each other; at the same time that each will be controlled by itself.”
On protecting the rights of a minority interest, “…the society itself will be broken into so many parts, interests, and classes of citizens, that the rights of individuals, or of the minority, will be in little danger from interested combinations of the majority. In a free government the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights.”
So Madison reaffirms his long standing belief that religious freedom is an essential ingredient in the American model. He is essentially arguing in favor a diverse pluralistic society. He might well have been pleased to see how diverse the United States has become two hundred years later.
He sums up in a philosophic tone, “Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever had been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.”
He goes on to argue that it individual states were broken off from the Confederation that they would suffer internal factions that the people would soon call for some third power to intercede on their behalf.
Madison believed that the larger the society the more capable it would be of self-governing, and that the proposed constitution offered a “judicious modification and mixture of the federal principle.”
In Federalist 10, Madison argues in favor a republican structure as the only antidote to factions unavoidably created by the differing interests of men. He defines factions as ‘a number of citizens actuated by some common purpose or interest, adverse to the rights of others, or the aggregate interests of the community.’
He finds that factions are inherent to societies of men, “The latent causes of faction are thus sown into the nature of man.”
He finds that they often arise from opinions regarding religion, government and property.
“Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser creditors, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, accentuated by different sentiments and views.”
He deduces that there only two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction, ‘the one by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.’
He further deduced that removing the causes of factions can in turn only be accomplished by two methods, “the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.”
The concept of abolishing liberty is without merit; it belies the purpose of government. It is “worse than the disease.” Likewise the “second expedient is as impractical as the first is unwise.”
Consequently, since the causes of factions cannot be removed, Madison argues, controlling the effects of factions is the only possible remedy.
“If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote.”
How then is the minority to be protected from a majority faction? Either by diluting passions or interests such than no majority faction forms, or by setting up an obstacle to the majority faction’s ‘schemes of oppression.’
So, Madison finds that the larger a society is the less likely it is to have majority factions to contend with. The larger the society, the more likely that there are numerous smaller factions. In the second case, where a majority faction already exists, only a republican government can protect the minority.
On why republicanism is superior to direct democracy, he offers, “…to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. …it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves.”
Madison argues that the larger a society was the better it would function as a republic, likewise the union of states would be better prepared to counter a faction than if the states operated independently in all respects. He offers specific examples,
“The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States. A religious sect may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it must secure the national councils against any danger from that source. A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire State.”
In Greece earlier this month, Al Gore made a startling admission: "First-generation ethanol, I think, was a mistake." Unfortunately, Americans have Gore to thank for ethanol subsidies. In 1994, then-Vice Presiden
Gore ended a 50-50 tie in the Senate by voting in favor of an ethanol tax credit that added almost $5 billion to the federal deficit last year. And that number doesn't factor the many ways in which corn-based ethanol mandates drive up the price of food and livestock feed.
Sure, he meant well, but as Reuters reported, Gore also said, "One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president."
In sum, Gore demonstrated that politicians are lousy at figuring out which alternative fuels make the most sense. Now even enviros like Friends of the Earth have come to believe that "large-scale agro-fuels" are "ecologically unsustainable and inefficient." That's a polite way of saying that producers need to burn through a boatload of fossil fuels to make ethanol.
Gore also showed that most D.C. politicians can't be trusted to put America's interests before those of Iowa farmers. But there is one pursuit in which homo electus excels: spending other people's money.
Beware politicians when they promise you "the jobs of the future." Last week, the Washington Post ran a story about a federal grant program in Florida designed to retrain the unemployed for jobs in the growing clean-energy sector. Except clean tech isn't growing as promised. Officials told the Post that three-quarters of their first 100 graduates haven't had a single job offer.
In May, President Obama came to a Fremont, Calif., solar plant where he announced, "The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra." This month, Solyndra announced it was canceling its expansion plans. The announcement came after voters rewarded the green lobby by defeating Proposition 23 -- which would have postponed California's landmark greenhouse gas reduction law AB32 -- because voters bought the green-jobs promise.
Monday, November 29, 2010
We need to cut military spending, and cut " foreign aid." The very people who want to slash Social Security and Medicare are shouting for more unpaid Bush tax cuts for millionaires.
Are we that crazy we want people to work till their 70, really!
Now having said that we can look at means testing for Social Security, and here is one I just learned. Some of these millionaires on their second wives (trophy wives) and are on Social Security over 65 years of age their children under the age of 18 are eligible and get up to half of their Daddy's Social Security till they are 18. Whether they are his biological father or his step children.
That just seems wrong to me ! If those old guys want to trade in their first wives for young trophy wives isn't that reward enough!!!!!
Sunday, November 28, 2010
While he played the role of the nation's kindly grandfather, his operatives divided the American people, using "wedge issues" to deepen grievances especially of white men who were encouraged to see themselves as victims of "reverse discrimination" and "political correctness."
Yet even as working-class white men were rallying to the Republican banner (as so-called "Reagan Democrats"), their economic interests were being savaged. Unions were broken and marginalized; "free trade" policies shipped manufacturing jobs abroad; old neighborhoods were decaying; drug use among the young was soaring.
Meanwhile, unprecedented greed was unleashed on Wall Street, fraying old-fashioned bonds between company owners and employees.
Before Reagan, corporate CEOs earned less than 50 times the salary of an average worker. By the end of the Reagan-Bush-I administrations in 1993, the average CEO salary was more than 100 times that of a typical worker. (At the end of the Bush-II administration, that CEO-salary figure was more than 250 times that of an average worker.)
When it came to cutting back on America's energy use, Reagan's message could be boiled down to the old reggae lyric, "Don't worry, be happy." Rather than pressing Detroit to build smaller, fuel-efficient cars, Reagan made clear that the auto industry could manufacture gas-guzzlers without much nagging from Washington.
The same with the environment. Reagan intentionally staffed the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department with officials who were hostile toward regulation aimed at protecting the environment. George W. Bush didn't invent Republican hostility toward scientific warnings of environmental calamities; he was just picking up where Reagan left off.
Reagan pushed for deregulation of industries, including banking; he slashed income taxes for the wealthiest Americans in an experiment known as "supply side" economics, which held falsely that cutting rates for the rich would increase revenues and eliminate the federal deficit.
Over the years, "supply side" would evolve into a secular religion for many on the Right, but Reagan's budget director David Stockman once blurted out the truth, that it would lead to red ink "as far as the eye could see."
Lets push harder - right now - in an effort to humiliate Kim Jong Il and his heir apparent son. They will have the option of escalating - a point beyond which they utterly lose the whole game - or backing down and losing the confidence of the Peoples Army and the Central Committee. Finally, China will understand that their ongoing support of Pyongyang is simply too expensive. The stakes are too high to let this tiny regime continue to thwart the will of the international community and stir up the possibly of nuclear weapons programs in Tokyo and Taipei.
What if they escalate? What do we do then? We have sufficient, massive airpower to quickly punish the North Koreans. It would be bloody, indeed, however their wad would be exhausted early on and artillery damage to Seoul would likely be far less than has been feared. The upside of such a war would be the end of the North Korean nuclear threat. We would have nipped it in the bud at great expense, however, at a tiny fraction of the potential cost in the years ahead.
Would they go nuclear? Thats highly doubtful. In fact, the evidence suggests they do not have a reliably deliverable bomb. If our shock and awe was properly targeted, we could take this possibly entirely off the table at the onset of hostilities. Obviously, they would know that going nuclear meant certain suicide - the US would be in a position to answer quickly and finally.
The "Two for One" nature of the victory is obvious. North Korea's success to date has emboldened the Iranians. Teheran would pay close attention to the events in Korea. If Pyongyang's nuclear production is shut down, Iran's would soon follow. There would be a new proliferation paradigm in place and it would not be hospitable to new nuclear states. Quite the opposite.