Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Law, Politics, Progressivism, Taxes, The United States | Tags: No President is Above the Law, The Meaning of the Constitution, What is a Law?
Cynthia Burwell, Director of the White House Office of Management And Budget testified before the Senate Budget Committee on the problematic problem of President Obama’s just submitted budget. Currently, federal discretionary spending is capped by the Ryan-Murray comprehensive spending bill that President Obama signed just 10 weeks ago. So ranking Republican Jeff Sessions asked Ms. Burwell whether the president’s budget increases spending above the Ryan-Murray level passed by Congress and signed by the president into law.
Cynthia Burwell, presidential appointee, refused to give a straight answer to a simple yes or no question. She implicitly acknowledged that the president’s budget does indeed pay no attention whatsoever to the agreement that Republican and Democrats agreed to less than three months ago. She kept claiming that it is “paid for.” That simply means that in addition to ignoring the spending caps, the president’s budget raises taxes to pay for it. Sleazy work from a sleazy administration that is choosing to ignore the limitations the Constitution places on his actions. Out of control and unrestrained by reality.
I am a great admirer of the fearless Senator Jeff Sessions.
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, National Security, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: Dead on Arrival, Fantasy and Unicorns, The President's Budget Request
The President’s budget — released a month late, in the midst of a faltering, dismal economy, and amid rising global threats — and, he claims, in the midst of “an era of austerity”— he actually proposes a budget that would sharply cut defense spending and impose $1.8 trillion in tax hikes. Bwa-ha-ha-ha. This is a budget request, and it demonstrates that Obama is not much connected to reality, which is worrisome.
His budget rests on the assumption that real GDP growth this year will be 3.1%/ The Congressional Budget Office suggests 2.7% and the consensus in the financial sector is for 2.5%.
He expects us to believe that — all evidence to the contrary — he can add $100 billion in spending on top of the “baseline” this year and next, but then he’ll get serious about spending restraint as he prepares to leave office.
The federal government is more than $17 trillion in debt. Obama’s budget proposal does nothing, nothing at all, to reduce that debt. Instead it adds hundreds of billions of dollars to it every year. The president’s rosiest economic projections say the budget would add $8.3 billion to the national debt, otherwise more. Obama says:
This budget adheres to the spending principles members of both Houses of Congress have already agreed to.
President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 into law on December 26,2013, a little more than two months ago. His budget breaks the spending caps by $56 billion in 2015, and by $791 billion over the ten years of the budget proposal. His budget will increase total spending by 63 percent from today’s levels over the next decade.
President Obama’s budget never balances — ever!
He wants to plow more money into repairing crumbling roads and bridges and into rail projects. He really doesn’t change his mind, does he.
He claims that his budget “ensures we maintain read, modern and capable defense forces to address any threats we might face, including threats from terrorism and cyberattacks.”Yet the only part of the government that sees real spending cuts is defense, which he wants to cut back to pre-World War II levels. Defense cuts of $1.14 trillion over the next decade account for more than half of his proposed $2.2 trillion in deficit reduction. I think we’re in “shovel-ready job territory” here. Roughly half of the new taxes go to new spending rather than deficit reduction.
President Obama’s plan nearly quadruples interest costs — the fastest growing item in the budget. Interest this year will be $223 billion but would rise to $812 billion in ten years.
I’m pretty much done with these promises of, although we’re not reducing the debt by much this time, but —in the future it will be different. Uh huh.
Did you know that Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was an Economics major?
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Liberalism, Progressivism, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: Keynesian Fairy Tales, Last of the Big Time Spenders, What Austerity?
President Obama says his new budget will finally end the dreary “era of austerity.”
What? Dreary era of austerity? On what planet? The federal government will spend $561 billion more this year than it did in 2008. That’s a 19% increase at a time when inflation rose just 9%. Obama has set the country on a permanently higher spending path. Federal outlays are on track to reach 22.4% of the gross domestic Product (GDP) by 2024, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Deficits have dropped slightly in the past two years, and expected to fall again this year and next, but that’s due to revenues bouncing back from recessionary lows as much as it is to spending restraint imposed by the GOP. By 2022, the deficit will top $1 trillion again and will go on up from there, as will the national debt.
The areas that Obama singles out for big spending hikes are hardly starved for funds. He wants more money for early childhood education programs, but Head Start’s budget has soared by 25% since Obama took office to $8.6 billion. The stimulus pumped another $2 billion into the program in 2009. Study after study has shown that there is no lasting benefit from the Head Start program. The thinking seems to be that rich people send their kids to fancy early childhood programs, so if you give the same benefit to poor or minority children, they will do as well as the rich kids. It seems to be simply expensive babysitting.
Obama also wants to spend big on college tuition aid. Federal aid has already climbed 32% on his watch according to the College Board. According to Forbes magazine, student loan debt now tops $1.2 Trillion! Kids are emerging from college, many not having completed a degree, with enormous debt — and cannot find a job.
Since the “age of austerity” is over (?) Obama wants more federal job training money, for programs that have more than tripled, and about training that is questionable in producing employment. And he wants more money for transportation — for California’s train to nowhere? He wants to order business to boost the minimum wage, on their own dime. More lost jobs.
Obama seems to think that the people who have lost jobs are unqualified for new jobs, and unless they are retrained for something different, are unemployable. He does not understand the burden that the federal government has imposed on business with ObamaCare.
The burden of excessive regulation, high taxes, and add plain old fear of what the federal government might do. The IRS, the EPA, the FCC, the EEOC, the DOL, and all the other myriad agencies and bureaus have gone after business to emphasize federal control. Business observes what has happened to other businesses, and hunkers down to try to avoid being noticed. More jobs are to come from a newly educated workforce, not from making it easier for business to grow, expand, and hire. We still have the highest corporate tax in the world.
Well, maybe the people who are mourning the death of President Roosevelt today will be relieved that we are ending the” dreary age of austerity.” Some of the folks still believe. If this is austerity, imagine what profligacy might be.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, History, Progressivism, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: Jobs & Unemployment Are #!, Most Important US Problems, Obama's Biggest Worry is Inequality
A new Gallup poll this month shows that nearly one in four Americans cites jobs and unemployment as the most important problem facing the country, up from 16% in January. The government and politicians had topped the list since the government shutdown in October.
The Recent Trend in top Five “Most Important” U.S. Problems
Economy in General……………………………………………..20%
Dissatisfaction with government/Congress/politicians’
poor leadership/corruption/ abuse of power…………………19%
Poor healthcare/hospitals; high cost of healthcare…………..15%
Federal Budget deficit/ Federal debt……………………………8%
Ethics/Moral/Religious/Family decline, dishonesty…………….5%
Education/Poor Education/Access to Education………………4%
Lack of Money……………………………………………………3%
What is one to make of this? We have just been informed that Americans are getting dumber and dumber, that they are unaware that the Earth orbits the sun. Jimmy Fallon did a man in the street thing asking people how they felt about President Roosevelt’s death, and did they want to send condolences to Eleanor?
Democrats were significantly less concerned about everything but jobs and unemployment. Republicans were unsurprisingly concerned more than Independents and Democrats about the economy, healthcare, Federal budget deficit and debt, morals and ethics. Democrats were slightly more concerned about education and poverty, hunger and homelessness.
General satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States was a sluggish 22%.
Curiously, President Obama’s priorities are quite different. He’s trying really hard to deflect interest from ObamaCare, which in spite of all sorts of “executive repairs” isn’t working. His biggest priority seems to be Income Inequality. What he doesn’t want to mention is how much money the government is redistributing, nor how much more would be needed to close the income gap. That project would require redistribution on a massive scale. The CBO found that those in the bottom fifth of the income scale received $9.62 in federal spending for every $1 they paid in federal taxes of all kinds. People with low incomes pay little in taxes, but receive a lot of transfers.
Households in the top fifth, received 17¢ in federal spending for every $1 they paid in all federal taxes. High-income households pay a huge amount in taxes compared to what they get back in government spending. The middle class households received $1.19 in government spending for every $1 they received in federal taxes.
Families in the top fifth have an average market income of $311,400 and pay $65,573 more in taxes than they receive in spending. We would need to take another $164,227 in higher taxes to lower their incomes to the national average.
“Capital will go where it is wanted and stay where it is well treated. It will flee from manipulation or onerous regulation of its value or use and no government power can restrain it for long.”
President Obama’s other major priority seems to be global warming, which doesn’t even show up in the public’s interest, with some justification, because most people are probably wondering if this is the start on a new ice age. There has been no warming for over 17 years. The President talks about “carbon pollution, but there is no such thing. We are a carbon-based species. CO2 is a natural fertilizer that helps plants to grow. Carbon is one of the building blocks of life. No carbon, no life.
Obviously Mr. Obama does not read Gallup polls, nor would he pay attention if he did. He apparently swallowed the Keynesian fairy dust tale — hook, line and sinker. If you want to boost the economy, you push money into the economy. It will have a magical mystery multiplication effect, somehow, and every dollar spent will result in two dollars of economic activity. If you tell him that it doesn’t work, he will say it’s wrong to compare this recovery to past recoveries. Greatest recession since the Great Depression, Bush’s fault, etc., etc., etc.
Filed under: Freedom, History, Politics, Taxes, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: "Silent Cal", The 30th President, The Roaring Twenties
“It is a great advantage to a president, and a major source of
safety to the country, for him to know he is not a great man.”
Do you recognize this man? This is Calvin Coolidge. He inherited the position of chief executive when scandal-plagued President Warren Harding died in office in August, 1923. He was elected in his own right in 1924. Amity Schlaes’ new biography, titled simply Coolidge, highlights some of the achievements the nation enjoyed during Coolidge’s time in the White House.
Under Coolidge, the top income tax rate came down by half, to 25 percent. Under Coolidge, the federal budget was always in surplus. Under Coolidge, unemployment was 5 percent or even 3 percent. Under Coolidge, Americans wired their homes for electricity and bought their first cars or household appliances on credit. Under Coolidge, the economy grew strongly, even as the federal government shrank.
Under Coolidge, the rates of patent applications and patents granted increased dramatically. Under Coolidge, there came no federal antilynching law, but lynchings themselves became less frequent and Ku Klux Klan membership dropped by millions. Under Coolidge, a man from a town without a railroad station, America moved from the road into the air.
After he won a full term, Coolidge pressed Congress for tax cuts. The top income tax rate was reduced from the wartime 70 to 25%. The economy burst into robust economic growth. Now we call it “the Roaring Twenties.” That helped Coolidge achieve budget surpluses every year — surpluses that he used to pay down the national debt.
He also said:
“Don’t expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong.”
Filed under: Economy, Health Care, Liberalism, Democrat Corruption, Progressivism, Taxes, Capitalism, Law, Statism, Regulation | Tags: Absence of Thought, Misunderstanding Incentives, No Careful Research
• The members of the gang who constructed ObamaCare in the back rooms of Congress, do-gooders all, were anxious to see that ObamaCare made the people healthier. Problem — obesity. Lots of people were too fat. (Nevermind that overweight people are apt to live longer) The obvious solution was to tell the people how many calories the food they were eating contained. (Nevermind that there is no evidence that calorie labeling is effective in combating obesity. Multiple studies have shown that this simply is not the case. A study in Philadelphia showed that the regulation had no effect whatsoever on fast food consumption, and most people didn’t even notice the labels in McDonald’s.)
Common sense would indicate that pizzas, burritos and sandwiches are apt to have choices of many ingredients, each one of which requires a calorie count, that can be ordered in many combinations (hold the olives).
Although the law is designed to target corporate fast-food giants, in practice it will largely affect individual franchises that effectively operate as independent small businesses. For example, over 80 percent of McDonald’s locations are owned and operated by franchisees. Each of these franchisees will now be tasked with complying with the mandate–paying for new signage, removing profit-generating advertisements to make room for the calorie data, updating menus every time recipes change, and accommodating inspectors. Furthermore, it’s unclear what penalties restaurateurs will face if they inadvertently fail to comply.
The regulation is doomed to fail, because the do-gooders inability to keep its hands off our lunches outran thought and careful analysis.
• Consider the absurdity of developing a new government-run health care plan because health care costs too much — and coming up with a plan that actually raises the cost of health care and the cost of insurance policies — that increases the cost of each item used by the medical profession with a tax levied on “medical devices” — and then expects future costs to go down because of the medical innovation that is discouraged by a tax that forces many innovators out of business.
• Consider the absurdity of developing a new government-run health care plan because there are so many people who don’t have health insurance. We were told that 46 million Americans were in desperate need of health insurance. This was the reason for the Federal Government to take over 1/6th of the U.S. economy. After five months of ObamaCare a questionable 3 million people have enrolled, but not necessarily paid.
About 39 percent of the uninsured are in five states —Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. About 21 percent of the uninsured are not citizens. Up to 14 million are eligible for existing programs — Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, veterans benefits — but have not enrolled. 9.1 million have household incomes of at least $75,000 and could purchase insurance but don’t want to. Increasing numbers are signing up for concierge medicine outside the system.
• In the State of the Union address, President Obama received a standing ovation when he said “Because of this law, no American can ever again be dropped or denied coverage for a preexisting condition like asthma, back pain, or cancer.” This was not true in January, and it has not been true since Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in 1996. That law required all individual insurance plans to have guaranteed renewability. It also prohibited all group health-insurance plans sold to businesses from denying coverage to individuals because of preexisting conditions. Medicare covered anyone age 65 or older regardless of preexisting conditions, ditto Medicaid. That wasn’t an intrinsic absurdity — just a plain lie.
• They were sure that computerizing all medical records into a national high tech database would save the U.S. more than $81 billion annually. That turned out to be a flawed study. Evidence on efficiency and safety are mixed, errors widespread, and most medical centers developed their own systems at great expense, but they don’t necessarily talk to each other, let alone talk to the federal government, nor is it clear that to be desirable. The problem seems to be that the systems were developed by High tech engineers instead of developed by clinicians to develop what would work for them. In some cases the doctors are followed around by ‘scribes’ who record data so the doctor doesn’t have to. How many typos do you do each day?
Are you mad yet?
Filed under: Politics, Economy, Health Care, Liberalism, Democrat Corruption, Progressivism, Taxes, Capitalism, Law, Regulation | Tags: The IRS Got Slapped Down, DC Court of Appeals, Silencing Opponents!
“The IRS may not unilaterally expand its authority through such an expansive, atextual and ahistorical reading of the law.” The Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia Circuit used these words in a February 11 ruling that struck down an Obama administration regulation on tax preparers.
In the same week, President Obama illegally delayed the employer mandate and out of thin air created a bizarre loyalty oath to administer to companies suffering from ObamaCare, a federal court unanimously smacked down his IRS for executive overreach.
Federal judges should use this phrase as a guideline and include it in future rulings, replacing “IRS” with “Health and Human Services” or “the President of the United States,” as the case in question requires.
The background: In 2009, Obama named former H&R Block CEO Mark Ernst as deputy IRS commissioner. He led the devising of new regulations for tax preparers. The new rules required paid tax preparers to be licensed, pay fees and undergo federally approved training every year. No big deal for the big Tax preparer outfits or those who did it full time, but it would drive out of business the Mom and Pop tax preparers who hang out a shingle once a year and make a few thousand helping people with their taxes.
There’s a federal law that Obama appointees were barred from participating in any matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.So Obama hired Ernst as a “civil servant” rather than as a political appointee. But Congress never gave the IRS any authority to regulate tax preparers — none. The administration dealt with that by pretending that federal law says something that it doesn’t. Didn’t work. The IRS can regulate tax attorneys, accountants or agents who represent taxpayers in battles with the IRS over audits, tax-court cases and appeals. Helping to prepare a tax return is not practice before the IRS.
Much of Obama’s recent actions in revising laws to fit his agenda seem to be much more related to Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals than to whatever he learned or didn’t learn in law school.
Was Obama rewriting the rules for the employer mandate politically motivated? Is it possible that people who get their health insurance at work will be upset when they find they are losing their policies, or losing their doctors, or having the cost of their health insurance skyrocket? Is it possible that the rules will cause employers to let people go?
If medium-sized employers fire workers to get under the threshold for being required to offer insurance, these firms are now required to certify to the IRS, under penalty of perjury that ObamaCare is not a factor in the firings. ” To avoid ObamaCare costs you must swear that you are not trying to avoid ObamaCare costs.“
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Health Care, Law, Liberalism, Politics, Regulation, Taxes, The United States | Tags: Bad Assumptions, ObamaCare Flaws, Unworkable Mandates
Surely you expected this. Everyone has been talking about when larger businesses have to face up to the employer mandate in ObamaCare. Will they meet the mandate, with policies that are acceptable to the ACA? Will thousands of people be dropped by their policies? Will thousands of people be cut back to 28 hours so the companies don’t have to supply health insurance. Will they join everyone else in being furious that they can no longer see their doctor, but must search for a new one?
— If the employer mandate were to take effect immediately, you would have a lot of angry people right before the mid-term elections. Can’t have that. Charles Krauthammer said that” delaying the employer mandate simply to ease political pain before an election is the kind of stuff they do in banana republics.”
— CNS News points out that President Barack Obama’s Treasury Department today issued a new regulation that for the second time directly violates the plain and unambiguous text of the Affordable Care Act by allowing some businesses to avoid the law’s Dec, 31, 2013 deadline to provide health insurance coverage to their employees.
— There are an avalanche of regulations still to come under ObamaCare. 28 new paperwork rules will cost $1.4 billion a year to comply with. It would take 22,800 employees working full time to complete the new paperwork. These regulations will cost $1.4 billion annually just in completion of the paperwork.
— Many assumptions in heath-care myths we live by turn out to be completely untrue. Swedish researchers report that antioxidants make cancers worse in mice. It is already known that the antioxidant beta-carotene exacerbates lung cancers in humans. Not exactly what you hear given the extravagant claims about antioxidants. The Annals of Internal Medicine: “Beta-carotene, vitamin E, and possibly high doses of vitamin A supplements are harmful.” Moreover, “other antioxidants, folic acid and B vitamins, and multivitamin and mineral supplements are ineffective for preventing mortality or morbidity due to major chronic diseases. Such revisionism is a constant in medicine. There was a time when every kid had their tonsils removed— grossly unnecessary surgery.
— It has been assumed that insuring the uninsured would save huge amounts of money because they wouldn’t keep using the emergency room. When the uninsured were put on Medicaid, they increased their ER use by 40 percent.
—Electronic records will save zillions, they thought. ACA threatens penalties for those who don’t convert by the end of 2014. The earliest effects are to create a whole new category of previously unnecessary health workers, called scribes, who follow doctors around and fill in the records so the doctors don’t have to do it themselves.
— Most of Obama’s rewrites, delays, exemptions and administrative retrofits are far too numerous to count and most of them are quite dubious legally. When a law passes both houses of Congress and is signed by the president, then it is officially THE LAW. If it is desired to change it, it has to go back to Congress and get amendments passed and signed.
— One big thing is that ObamaCare requires insurance policies to cover not just the expense of catastrophic illness, which is the normal use of insurance; but it forces policies to cover all sorts of routine medical expenses that most people will not need. If you are a 63 year-old woman, you will be paying for childbirth and well child visits, as well as Sandra Fluke’s contraceptives. Wanting to give people nice benefits is all very well, but it does not lend itself to less expensive medicine.
— Obama’s architects made the enormously flawed assumption that health insurance makes people healthier, tending to drive health care costs down over time. Very flawed assumption. The architects did not anticipate the behavior of people who do not share their approach to the world. There are lots of us out there.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Liberalism, Progressivism, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: Economic Stress, The Essentials of Subsistence, The Value of Work
Kevin Williamson had a splendid essay in National Review on Saturday, entitled “Men at Work: Revisiting the alienation of labor.”
Unemployment at the individual level often is traumatic: Economic stress is difficult in and of itself, but it also can disturb family life, may lead to isolation from one’s friends and community, and may provide an occasion for shame, even when that shame is unjustified. Because we are the richest people that human civilization ever has seen, there is no reason for anyone to go wanting for the mere essentials of subsistence; because we are the richest people human civilization ever has seen, it is very difficult to be satisfied with the mere essentials of subsistence. …
If we assume that these workers can count, and we assume that they know their own affairs, then the conclusion is not simply — never simply! — that “more than 2 million people will decide not to work,” but that the wage paid by this particular manifestation of the welfare state (in the form of insurance subsidies) is better than the wage on offer for doing work.
With one hand, the state puts downward pressure on wages — especially for those at the bottom end of the earnings spectrum, who are, by economic definition, those regarded by their employers as most easily replaced, and who therefore bring relatively little negotiating power to the table. With the other hand, the same state inflates the wages of non-work, not only through the new health-care law but through various other manifestations of the welfare state, including the ever-longer extension of unemployment payments. We are sometimes scandalized to learn that these programs spend a great deal of money on people who do not really need them. That is the minor scandal. The major scandal is that so many people do need these programs. …
The diversity of human interests, human desires, and human abilities is in effect infinite, and so too, therefore, are the uses of labor and opportunities for employment. Surely there are many paths to a “right livelihood” waiting to be discovered. And yet there sits official Washington, along with its supramarginal gurus in the media, trying to figure out how to “create jobs” like an ape doing one of those monochromatic jigsaw puzzles with half the pieces missing, desperately working at “manipulating the world in order to get what we want from it,” forcing together pieces that do not fit.
And that is the perverse price of politics: that there are so few jobs to be had when there is so much work to be done.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Freedom, Health Care, Law, Liberalism, Progressivism, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: Hurts American Incomes, January Jobs Numbers, ObamaCare Kills Jobs
Perhaps the gales of laughter have reached ears in the White House. Can you possibly believe that they didn’t know that people would find their insistence that losing a job was liberating and you would no longer be locked in a job and could write poems or make music. In any case, people do not seem to be feeling “liberated” by the lack of jobs.
The January job numbers were dismal. Spinning 113,000 gains in hiring is not too hard, because anything over 100,000 sounds like a positive, but back to back gains in hiring were the weakest in three years. The 48,000 rebound in construction probably reflects a bounce-back from weather-depressed readings in December. The fall in the unemployment rate reflects, not more people hired, but more people dropping out of the work force.
ObamaCare will reduce the incomes of most Americans. It will redistribute wealth, but the redistribution will be stunningly lopsided. According to a study from the liberal Bookings Institution ObamaCare will increase the income of Americans in the lowest 20 percent of the income scale — especially in the lowest 10 percent. But all other income groups, even those who make modest incomes in the $25,000 range will experience a decline in income because of ObamaCare. It will increase income by 9.2 percent for those in the lowest bracket. For everybody else, it will reduce their income by about 0.9 percent.
Republicans have argued all along that the ACA would end up costing the economy jobs, and the cost would be enormous. Previously the CBO’s cost estimate came to $848 billion over its first decade, but that has now grown to more than $2 trillion. The claimed deficit neutrality of ObamaCare was a myth which the GOP said it was all along. The CBO does not predict the number of job switchers or “free agents” It projects the net reduction in hours worked in the American economy — and that projects lower tax revenues— for a system that relies on tax revenues for the subsidies that keep their fantasy going.
A reduction of 2.5 million FTEs from ObamaCare would result in a reduction of $80.5 billion each year in gross compensation, even at the low-income average of $35,000 a year. That means less economic activity and lower tax revenues, thanks to the decrease in income that the loss of 2.5 million FTEs entail— no matter how they disappear. The greatest effect will be on the working middle class — just the folks Obama claims to want to help the most.