American Elephants

Little Things Hidden in the President’s Budget by The Elephant's Child

Little things are hidden in the 1200 pages of President Obama’s proposed budget. Sometimes they are found. The President’s budget is definitely dead on arrival, but Economist Steven Moore noticed that once again, President Obama is attempting to defund the D.C. School Voucher program. This is a wonderful program that gives at least some kids stuck in poor-performing schools vouchers (by a lottery)  that they can take to a school of their choice.

The Teachers’ Union is furiously opposed to the program. Students who get vouchers may take them to Catholic schools where teachers are not unionized. The program has been very successful in graduation rates and kids that go on to college. Makes the teachers’ union look bad. You can see the incentives here, including the incentive for the president.

Most embarrassing is that the president’s children go to Sidwell Friends School, very expensive, very exclusive, and they take some of the voucher program kids. Makes the president’s pandering to the union look bad.

Mr. Obama: “I’m proud of saving the economy.” by The Elephant's Child


Fewer native-born Americans in the United States have jobs now than were employed in November 2007, in spite of a growth in the working-age population of 11 million.

What? I thought the unemployment rate was down to 5.6 percent. Isn’t that supposed to be a good number? Obama just said we had “the fastest economic growth in over a decade.”

“Unemployment is at its lowest since 2008, the stock market is surging and a host of other economic indicators show the U.S. is making a comeback—a comeback Obama is flaunting and taking credit for more and more as he embarks on the fourth quarter of his presidency and looks to define his legacy,” that’s from CNN.

In November 2014, one in every five U.S. jobs was held by a foreign-born worker, up from one-in-six jobs was held by a foreign born worker the previous year.

The 5.6 unemployment figure is a result of the way the Department of Labor calculates the number. The BLS does not count someone as unemployed if they gave up looking after four weeks of fruitless searching. If a worker performs one hour of work a week and gets paid a minimum of $20 —that worker does not count among their number of unemployed workers.

These numbers are from Jim Clifton, the Chairman and CEO at Gallup.  He adds that if an American works part-time, but seeks full time employment, that worker does not count as unemployed. He uses the example of someone who has a degree in math or chemistry but can only find part-time work because that job is all that’s available.

Clifton emphasizes: “There is no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term  and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.” He notes “Gallup defines a good job as 30+ hours per week for an organization that prov ides a regular paycheck. Right now, the U.S. is delivering at a staggeringly low rate of 44% — which is the number of full-time jobs as a percent of the adult population, 18 years and older.”

“All of the net gain in employment since 2007 has gone to immigrants (legal and illegal)…Native [age 16 to 65] employment has not returned to pre-recession levels” said a December 19 statement from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

On Nov. 20, President Obama announced that he would provide (by executive order) work permits to five million illegal immigrants in this country.He has also given work permits to at least 50,000 Central American migrants who crossed the border in 2014.

Overall, Obama has announced plans to give work permits to an extra six million migrants, in addition to the roughly eight million legal migrants that will arrive during his eight years in the White House. That adds up to almost one new foreign worker for every two Americans who turn 18.

Even Presidential Budgets that are dead-on-arrival can be useful. This year’s budget proposal is deeply flawed and risky. With the world situation today, the Middle East in flames, Russia becoming more aggressive, China building up their military — why would the administration suggest that the U.S can get by in the coming decade with a defense budget less than half of the historical average?

“I am very confident that America is stronger, more prosperous, safer, and more influential today that it was when I took office,” Obama said.

Jonathan Gruber Returns With a Direct Tax on Body Weight by The Elephant's Child

JonathanGruberYou remember Jonathan Gruber PhD, MIT Economist, architect of ObamaCare, became famous for calling the American  people stupid, and for devising a health care plan that was designed to sweep everyone, over time, into an unworkable single-payer plan like Britain’s that is currently going broke. He has even admitted. sorta. kinda, that he knew all along that the cost of ObamaCare was not going to go down. Have to figure out some ways to save money. But he already did that — in a paper he delivered in 2010 to the National Institute for Health Care Management entitled “Taxing Sin to Modify Behavior and Raise Revenue.”He considered the case of cigarettes, alcohol, and obesity:

Ultimately, what may be needed to address the obesity problem are direct taxes on body weight. While it is hard to conceive of this approach being a common public policy tool in the near term, such taxation may be happening indirectly through health insurance surcharges.

It is important to remember that the  “Affordable Care Act” does not give you health care. It gives you a card that says you have government sponsored health insurance. It does not guarantee that you can find a doctor or a hospital that will accept your insurance.

They brag about all the formerly uninsured people they signed up for Medicaid, then to reduce the cost of all those  people, they cut way back on the amount with which they will reimburse doctors and other health care providers — which has meant that few doctors will accept Medicaid patients. Nice to have that card though.

In the case of Veterans insurance, Obama’s 2016 Budget Proposal, now that the VA scandal has kind of blown over, proposes rolling back the program that gives veterans the right to receive faster care outside of the scandalously long wait lists at the troubled Veterans Affairs medical system.

For Medicare, it’s the same deal. They added some extra gimmicks to make it sound like they were doing nice things for the old folks, then cut back on the payments to doctors and medical providers with the natural result that fewer doctors will see Medicare patients.

ADDENDUM: President Obama’s budget proposal is important only in the view it gives of his priorities. Congress will do the budget. Buried in the proposal is a $50 million cut to one of the U.S. longstanding vaccine programs for the under-insured and uninsured. This comes right at the time when we are in the middle of a severe measles outbreak, and the CDC is worried about how much it may spread. 102 cases so far, and both children and adults need to be vaccinated.

For the left, the important thing is that they have given the American people a health care plan. It makes them feel good about themselves. That the plan does not assure that you can see a doctor, or the specialist you need, or it doesn’t cover you when you are traveling, or costs more than you can afford — is not a big deal. They’ll fix that later. They really do think that way.

Explaining the Meaning of Liberty With Stories by The Elephant's Child

Ordinary and simple American stories, everyday occurrences here, unthinkable in many parts of the world.

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