American Elephants

The Tangled Web of “So-Called Scandals” by The Elephant's Child

In theory, Democrats should be as disturbed by the IRS scandal as Republicans. Yes, most of the IRS politicized tax enforcement was directed at the Tea Party, anything with names like “patriot” or “liberty” or “freedom,” “Constitution,” nefarious names that clearly indicate right-wing extremism, for quite obviously if Republicans regain a majority, there’s tit for tat, or turnabout’s fair play or plain old “payback,” not that they would, but they might. Democrats are more concerned with the immediacy of the attacks on the Obama administration, which cannot, by definition, do anything wrong.

We have the “so-called scandals” which just deny the whole thing, but that’s not likely to work, so they have switched to the concept that the real IRS scandal is the use by conservatives of 501(c) tax status as a shield for political advocacy. The 501 (c) designation is supposed to be, they say, for “social welfare,” not anything “partisan.”

Professor Richard Epstein points out that the criteria for Section 501 (c)(4) organizations are open-ended. Few complex organizations are operated exclusively for any single purpose, and many applicants have different ideas of what counts as “social welfare.”So you have loose standards and thousands of applications.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administrations reported on May 14 that the Exempt Office of the IRS actions were not politically biased, but were attributable to the confusion of lower staff members who for three years, had never quite understood their job assignments. This is what we politely called, in my childhood, “road apples.” The delays and nitpicking questions were specifically designed to hold off approval until after the November 2012 elections.

Epstein says that the larger disease of which IRS misbehavior is only a symptom, is something that has taken root in many of the major administrative agencies in the United States — permit power.

Private individuals are not allowed to engage in certain activities or to claim certain benefits without the approval of some major government agency. The standards for approval are nebulous at best, which makes it hard for any outside reviewer to overturn the agency’s decision on a particular application.

That power also gives the agency discretion to drag out its review, since few individuals or groups are foolhardy enough to jump the gun and set up shop without obtaining the necessary approvals first. It takes literally a few minutes for a skilled government administrator to demand information that costs millions of dollars to collect and that can tie up a project for years. That delay becomes even longer for projects that need approval from multiple agencies at the federal or state level, or both.

Professor Epstein offers the mission statement of the FDA as an example” “The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics and products that emit radiation.” Absolutes are unattainable, and there is a whole universe of gray area there. How safe is safe enough, how deadly are side effects, how many trials are needed. The mission statement allows the agency to slow down, for years, any approval or disapproval.

501(c)(3) organizations are barred from partisan campaign activities. Media Matters for America, a left-wing agitprop organization uses that cover for its daily attacks on conservatives. The Center for American Progress, which was supposed to be the left-wing think tank to match the Heritage Foundation has both 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) designations and has never had so much as a non-partisan thought pretty much demolishes the “social welfare” argument. Under the 501(c)(4) designation, organized labor had spent, as reported by the Journal in July 2012 $4.4 billion on politics and lobbying since 2005, mostly funded by union dues. Democrats always include a carve-out for unions in their proposals to require disclosure of political spending, and demonstrates why they are so furious about the Supreme Court Citizens United decision.

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

“Don’t Know,” “Not Me,” “Not to The Best of My Memory” by The Elephant's Child

Did Barack Obama personally order the IRS to attack Republican groups, deny them
501 (c)(4) status, get their names and the names of everyone even slightly associated with them —The committees want to know how far the rot reaches. Is this only recent? And who ordered what done?

Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal points out that the IRS scandal started at the top. The president is fully in denial mode, noting that the IRS is an “independent” agency, but it isn’t necessary for President Obama to pick up the phone. In full view for five years, Obama has publicly suggested that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds. He has publicly called out by name political opponents he would like to see pressured into invisibility.

On Aug. 21, 2008, the Conservative American Issues Project ran an ad highlighting the ties between candidate Obama and Bill Ayers, formerly of the Weather Underground. The Obama campaign and supporters were furious, and they pressured TV stations to pull the ad — a common-enough tactic in such ad spats.

What came next was not common. Bob Bauer, general counsel for the campaign (and later general counsel for the White House), on the same day wrote to the criminal division of the Justice Department, demanding an investigation into AIP, “its officers and directors,” and its “anonymous donors.” Mr. Bauer claimed that the nonprofit, as a 501(c)(4), was committing a “knowing and willful violation” of election law, and wanted “action to enforce against criminal violations.”…

In early August 2008, the New York Times trumpeted the creation of a left-wing group a(a 501(c)(4) called Accountable America. …the group—as the story explained —would start by sending “warning ” letters to 10,000 GOP donors, “hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions.” The letters would alert “right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.”

Sen. Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee on Sept. 26, 2010, wrote to the IRS commissioner Dough Shulman asking him to survey major 501(c)(4) organizations to ensure that political campaign activity was not the organizations primary activity, and investigate their major donors.

Two years later, on Feb. 16, 2012, seven Democratic Senators (Bennet, Franken, Merkley, Schumer, Shaheen, Udall and Whitehouse wrote to Shulman to ask if the IRS is investigating whether political groups were improperly posing as “social welfare organizations” to receive the 501(c)(4) status, and asked the IRS to “impose a strict cap on the amount of political spending by tax-exempt, nonprofit groups,” and prevent them from “abusing the tax code.”

“And 2010 was the year Democrats went full-bore pressuring the IRS to investigate nonprofit politicking which resulted in the IRS targeting Tea Party and other nonprofit applicants who were ideological opponents. Letters from 10 high-profile Democrats…pressured the IRS to investigate nonprofit politicking, even threatening legislation to change IRS standards if the IRS didn’t act.”

“The IRS is behaving “passively,” complained Carl Levin to Shulman in July 2012, adding “How long after a complaint to the IRS does a compliance review begin?” Sen. Levin also asked Shulman to look into a dozen groups, including Americans for Prosperity, 60 Plus Association, Patriot Majority USA and Club for Growth.”

Former commissioner Doug Shulman testified last Wednesday that back in March 2012, there was “absolutely” no special targeting of conservative groups going on. “At no time, to the best of my memory, was I ever given the impression that these [IRS employees] were only [looking closely] at conservative groups.

So there you go. Nobody knows anything, Everybody denies everything. Your Government at work.

ADDENDUM: I should perhaps mention that Democrats profess to be extremely concerned that anything groups like the Tea Party do, should be concerned with “social welfare activities” and not anything political, especially not political fundraising. The amusing part is that the Center for American Progress has both 501 (c)(3) and 501 (c)(4) organizations devoted to fundraising from social welfare organizations like the Democracy Alliance. And the Center for American Progress is certainly not political, are they? Nah.

Electronic Medical Records: Not Cost Effective, Not Efficient. by The Elephant's Child

I had a routine Doctor’s appointment his week. My doctor had left her old group and is now with a new group. Same town, same hospital. I told her that she looked a lot happier. She agreed that she was. She said they were shortly going to digitize all their records as required by ObamaCare. She added that it was just a mess. There is so much opportunity for error. She said that some of the records she receives, she can hardly read. Having accurate records is essential.

Buried in the stimulus law of 2009, was an electronic-medical-records “incentive” program.Michelle Malkin reports that :

Oversight is lax. Cronyism is rife. The job-killing and privacy-undermining consequences have only just begun. The program was originally sold as a cost-saving measure. In theory, modernizing record-collection is a good idea, and many private health-care provides have already made the change. But as with many government “incentive” programs, the EMR bribe is a tax-subsidized, one-size-fits-all mandate. … Penalties kick in for any provider that hasn’t switched over by 2014.

…$4 billion has already gone out to 82,535 professionals and 1,474 hospitals and a total of $6 billion will be doled out by 2016. But the feds’ reckless profligacy, neglect and favoritism have done more harm than good.

A recent report by the HHS Inspector General said essentially that no one is actually checking to see if the transition from paper to electronic is improving patient outcomes or health services. The claim that the EMR conversion would reduce paperwork was based on hope rather than evidence, and many doctors say that it is actually doubling the amount of paperwork in their practices. Malkin again:

Billionaire Judith Faulkner, Obama’s medical information czar and a major Democratic contributor, just happens to be the founder and CEO of Epic Systems — a medical-software company that stores nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population’s health data. Another billion-dollar patient-record database grant program has doled out money to the University of Chicago Medical Center (where first lady Michelle Obama and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett both served in high-paid positions).

It seems the cost-savings predictions were grossly overstated. Epic Systems, Faulkner’s company is famed for its lack of interoperability. antiquated, hard-drive dependent software firms that refuse to share data with doctors or hospitals using alternate platforms. And what is a company like Faulkner’s doing with this enhance power to consolidate and control American’s private health information. Epic and other large firms spent hundreds of thousands lobbying for the Obama EMR giveaway. It seems not to be a coincidence that Epic’s sales have been skyrocketing in recent years, double what they were four years ago. Obama named billionaire Democratic donor Faulkner as the only industry representative on the federal panel overseeing the EMR $19 billion “incentives” program from which her company benefits. Crony-capitalism indeed.

Now the person who supervised the IRS political pursuit of anyone who might potentially donate to the election campaign of the President’s opponent has been moved from that section to being in charge of the IRS grab for every American citizen’s medical records. This is unprecedented and disturbing. If the IRS is an agency that cannot be trusted with our private financial information, uses their power to force you to reveal information to which they have no legal or ethical right, then we are all expected to hand over all our private medical history and current treatment for whatever they want to use it for.  Are you going to go for that?

President Barack O’Blameless by The Elephant's Child

President Barack O’Blameless sent out aide Dan Pfieffer to explain that the president was absolutely not to blame for anything whatsoever, and that the White House had only learned that there was an Internal Revenue Service when everyone else did, and they were all shocked, shocked, and they didn’t know anything about Benghazi either. What was needed now was a little cooperation from the Republicans who were trying to make partisan mountains out of partisan molehills. Republicans were just trying to go on fishing expeditions. Breach of public trust, false allegations, partisan swamp. Inexcusable, top-down investigation yadda, yadda.

Bob Schieffer was not having any of it. You sound exactly like the Nixon administration. Mr. Pfieffer, this is the executive branch, and the president is supposed to be in charge of it. The President is right out there when it’s something good, claiming credit, so how come he took three days to comment? Why are you here? Where’s the White House Chief of Staff? Serious problems, I shouldn’t make fun, but really! “Is this president out of touch?” Highly amusing, not convincing.

Pay No Attention to the Excuses. There Is No Excuse! by The Elephant's Child

I don’t think I have ever heard anything quite a shocking as Steven Miller’s testimony before  the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday on the targeting of organizations that might have been able to raise money to oppose the reelection of Barack Obama.

” I do not believe that partisanship motivated the people who engaged in the practices described in the Inspector Generals’ report. …Foolish mistakes were made by people trying to be more efficient in their workload selection.  …We provided horrible customer service. It’s my belief that what happened here is not illegal, but it was unappropriate. It’s my belief that what happened here was not illegal, but I suppose that there are some facts that might come out that would indicate otherwise, but it’s not my area.”

So he said he is accountable and  pushed up his previously announced retirement by a couple of weeks. Mistakes were made. Always the passive voice. In an earlier day he might have been run out of town on a rail.

So the United States Treasury Department is crooked. The agency within that department that collects taxes and has the legal power to investigate citizens’ and businesses’ financial affairs believes that they are free to conduct their investigations in a manner which will determine the results of a national election. But that’s not illegal, it’s just trying to be more efficient. Not inappropriate. You cannot trust the Internal Revenue Service. They are not only untrustworthy, but they do not understand what is wrong with what they have done.

The President of the United States, in complete defiance of manners, custom, and the separation of powers defined by the Constitution, which he took an oath to defend, called out the Supreme Court of the United States in the middle of a State of the Union Speech to tell them they were wrong in their Citizens United decision that said corporations has the same right to donate money as unions did. So it starts right at the top, in spite of any allegation of innocence.

Targeting of pro-life groups began in 2009. An IRS agent told the Coalition for Life of Iowa that approval of their application for tax-exempt status was withheld. They were told to send a letter to the agency signed by the entire board—under perjury of the law—stating that they do not picket, protest or organize any other groups to picket or protest any Planned Parenthood clinic.

The Obama administration was aware of the IRS scandal five months before the election. Ace of Spades notes that it’s about a union: the National Treasury Employees Union (NETU). Anything indicating conservative leanings like “Tea Party,” “Patriot,” were not only denied tax exempt status to which they were entitled, donors to right-leaning think tanks names were illegally given to their opponents, but other agencies were directed to investigate such groups. The Tax Professor’s blog includes a long list of links for those who want to understand what the IRS is up to more clearly.

Meanwhile, you might want to investigate the Cayman Islands or other tax sheltering venues.

What Do You Believe And When Did You First Believe It? by The Elephant's Child

All of the scandals, with their talking points and lack of answers to questions — all of it, which apparently the President was completely unaware of until he found out right when the rest of us did — the purpose of every bit of it,  was to cover up unpleasant facts that might have been detrimental to the President’s reelection. Mull that one over.

We are expected to believe that the President of the United States whom everyone on both sides of the aisle agrees is a skilled politician, and who never seems to forget politics for a moment, who has been widely accused of conducting a permanent campaign, and seems to enjoy making campaign speeches above anything else  — that political person was unaware that there was a disruption in Benghazi with a dead Ambassador and three more dead Americans that might reflect badly on his campaign if the facts were known.

Although he had made his contempt for the Tea Party and Republicans in general widely known, he was completely unaware that some “low-level” folks in a back room in Cincinnati were working hard to keep any possibility of donations to the Romney campaign put off till after the election. This is the same man who was inadvertently caught on a live mike telling  President Medvedev to let Vladimir know that he would have more options after the election. This was also the same president who ordered defense contractors not to issue pink slips or make any announcement of coming unemployment until after the election (in direct conflict with the law that required them to announce) and he promised to pay their fine or waive the fines.

But being entirely aware that these actions might be seized on by the other side to make him look bad, went to great effort to put anything unpleasant off “till after the election” — but he was entirely unaware of the activities of the IRS that were directly related to his reelection effort.  Here’s the president’s statement:

I’ve reviewed the Treasury Department watchdog’s report, and the misconduct that it uncovered is inexcusable.  It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it.  I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives.  And as I said earlier, it should not matter what political stripe you’re from — the fact of the matter is, is that the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity.  The government generally has to conduct itself in a way that is true to the public trust. That’s especially true for the IRS.

First, we’re going to hold the responsible parties accountable.  Yesterday, I directed Secretary Lew to follow up on the IG audit to see how this happened and who is responsible, and to make sure that we understand all the facts.  Today, Secretary Lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS, because given the controversy surrounding this audit, it’s important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward.

Second, we’re going to put in place new safeguards to make sure this kind of behavior cannot happen again.  And I’ve directed Secretary Lew to ensure the IRS begins implementing the IG’s recommendations right away.

Third, we will work with Congress as it performs its oversight role.  And our administration has to make sure that we are working hand in hand with Congress to get this thing fixed.  Congress, Democrats and Republicans, owe it to the American people to treat that authority with the responsibility it deserves and in a way that doesn’t smack of politics or partisan agendas.  Because I think one thing that you’ve seen is, across the board, everybody believes what happened in — as reported in the IG report is an outrage.  The good news is it’s fixable, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to work together to fix it.

All very impressive, except that the Commissioner of the IRS was due to leave in June anyway, so requesting and accepting his resignation is just another cover-up. And we have a long history of this president never, ever being responsible for anything.  Was it Jay Carney who tried to blame the IRS scandal on Bush, because the commissioner was a Bush appointee?

Targeting Political Enemies By Fair Means or Foul. by The Elephant's Child

Once a scandal emerges, more people feel free to talk, or want to proclaim themselves on the correct side of the controversy. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) gets to handle all the financial information of citizens and businesses who pay taxes because they don’t give out information to anyone, whether government official, press, or private citizen. Apparently the IRS office that handles applications for tax-exempt status has felt free to release the applications and tax returns of citizens, organizations, and businesses that do not hew to the reigning party line freely.

The progressive-leaning investigative journalism group ProPublica says the Internal Revenue Service office that targeted and harassed conservative groups during the 2012 election cycle gave them nine confidential applications of conservative groups whose tax-exempt status was pending. The initial spin was that the perpetrators were low-level people in some back office in Cincinnati.  It seems that groups that seemed to be associated with the Tea Party, patriotism, the Constitution, the Declaration, were pro-Israel, expressed any opposition to the Federal Government, the National Debt, the Budget Deficit.

ProPublica, undoubtedly on the advice of attorneys, wants to get out ahead of the scandal and admit that they received, and made public information from applications or returns, assuming that they were newsworthy. Oddly, they did not target any groups with the word “progressive” or who received millions from the Sandler Foundation or George Soros” Open Society Foundations. ProPublica was initially given millions from the Sandler Foundation to “strengthen the progressive infrastructure” meaning very liberal. The group has won two Pulitzers for their investigative reporting — attacks on oil companies, the health care industry, opposition to fracking, and coal, of course:

Throw in a couple of investigations making the military look bad and another about prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and you have almost the perfect journalism fantasy— a huge budget, lots of major media partners and a liberal agenda unconstrained by advertising.

ProPublica is not the only Soros-funded organization stacked with members of the supposedly neutral press. There’s the Center for Public Integrity, which received $651,650 from the Open Society Institute in 2009 alone. The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN) which received close to $1 million from Open Society from 2003-2008. They lean to stories on climate change, illegal immigration and the evils of corporations.

We are constantly told that journalists are neutral, and it isn’t true. They bemoan the influence of money in politics, yet make no mention of the influence of money in journalism. They need be more up front about their connections, their funding and who sits on their boards. There is a reason why they are losing money, losing subscribers and losing advertising.

And trust for the IRS is gone. Everybody lawyer up. Obama seems unconcerned. He does not take this seriously, any of this.  He has never felt, as far as I can tell, that the words he says particularly matter. What he says today doesn’t necessarily stand. He might say something different tomorrow. Whether it’s because he doesn’t think you will remember, or that he doesn’t think you’ll care, I don’t know. He got a full four Pinocchio’s from the Washington Post for his claim that he identified the Benghazi attack at the time as a terrorist attack.

All these scandals are inflating into vast bubbles, and the more you find out, the more questions there are.

ObamaCare: Worse Than Your Worst Dreams! by The Elephant's Child

Sebelius II

There has been a flood of articles recently on the forecasts of increasing costs for healthcare. The Society of Actuaries has said that health claims will shoot up an average 32% under ObamaCare. Some states will see claims rise as much as 80%, while only five states could see them drop a little. The reason is that millions of the uninsured will get coverage, or be forced to get coverage, and that will cause them to double their health spending. That will create upward pressure on premiums.

Many employers will dump their coverage for workers once ObamaCare kicks in, and those people will be more expensive to insure than people already in the individual market. In other words, higher premiums for almost everybody, and the “Affordable Care Act” will become much less affordable.

Back in 1960, people paid almost half the nation’s health care tab out-of-pocket. By 22012, that figure had dropped to just over 10% with the rest paid by government health programs or increasingly generous (tax subsidized) workplace health benefits. Natural reaction by ordinary people: when it’s free, you use more of it. And today there are far more inducements to use health care than there have ever been.

There have been campaigns for fitness, campaigns against obesity, with the intent of addressing “rising” health care costs, but is the awareness of fitness, good health, strength, diet, dental health, not to mention all the diseases that may strike that are causing the rising.

Saturday and Sundays on the radio are given over to paid programming for alternative medicine and alternative potions. “Health Food stores” offer goods free of any suspected unhealthy ingredient; and all things “natural,” and “organic” for you and your pets.

Each special ingredient is the one thing that, taken religiously, will give you a longer, healthier life. The latest seems to be green coffee beans, it was white tea for a while, and pomegranate seeds before that, and some Inca  berry.  And if all that weren’t enough, the First Lady of the United States and the Mayor of New York will remind you that they are keeping official tabs on what you do.

This intense focus on your potential health will drive you to ever-increasing use of the health care establishment. Increasing prices? The administration responds with a yawn. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), in charge of administering ObamaCare and its mandates and waivers, said those who are paying more will get more generous coverage, so what’s the big deal.

“Some of these folks,” Sebelius said, referring to those hit by ObamaCare’s price spikes, “have very high catastrophic plans that don’t pay for anything unless you get hit by a bus. They’re really mortgage protection plans, not health insurance.”

Astonishing. The HHS Secretary, a former state Insurance Commissioner, does not understand the principle of insurance.

Insurance operates on the principle that you pool the cost of the big risks that don’t happen often, but would be difficult for most people to pay. It is the big catastrophe that makes insurance a good deal. Insurance for every little thing that you could reasonably easily pay for out-of-pocket raises the cost of everything because you are paying administrative fees in addition to the cost. If you expect to spend $10,000 for groceries next year, you wouldn’t buy grocery insurance, nor would you expect your auto insurance policy to pay for new windshield wipers or oil changes.

What Obama and his administration are attempting to force down everyone’s throats is not insurance, it is massively expensive prepaid health care.

Attempting to drive down all out-of-pocket spending simply pushes up the cost of health care in its entirety. At the same time it creates an incentive to use more health care. That’s not all the incentives though. As increasing use raises the cost of health care, the government will be forced to devote more effort towards cutting costs, and forcing doctors and suppliers to cut their costs — seeing more patients in less time, ordering fewer tests, using fewer supplies, cutting back on personnel, and destroying the quality of medicine.

The incentive for doctors and hospitals becomes not only cutting costs, but finding a way to be adequately reimbursed. This is where Britain’s National Health Services (NHS) find themselves. Old people die sooner because of inadequate care, linen not changed, drinking water not supplied. Doctors retire early, fewer of our best and brightest go into medicine. Doctors have to be imported from other countries. We are already seeing the effects of the tax on medical devices. They are laying off workers, cutting back. The United States leads the world in new technology in medical devices, but when they are forced to cut back, it is innovation that gets cut.

ObamaCare began with a lie, that medical costs were rising inexorably. Not true. Costs were declining as new diagnostic tools and new medicines saved lives and expense. Democrats, behind the closed doors where they were constructing the plan, were not concerned with improving American health care, they were concerned with gathering in more Democratic votes by more voters dependent on Democrat largesse. Their admiration for Britain’s National Health Service spoke of the ability of NHS to capture British votes for the Labor Party, while Democrats told themselves how wonderful it would be when poor people could get health care for free.


Obama Is Running Out of Excuses! by The Elephant's Child

It has been widely reported today that economic growth for the fourth quarter didn’t exactly come in —  up, as promised — but the economy shrank. The average forecast among 50 economists surveyed earlier this month was for 1.6% GDP growth, which is not anything to celebrate, but the economy “unexpectedly” declined 0.1%, the first decline since early 2009.

The economy shrank last quarter. The deficit topped $1 trillion last year. U.S. debt shot up $5 trillion over the past four years, and joblessness is at 7.8%. Not only that, but our debt is now 103.8% of our Gross Domestic Product.

The Obama administration’s automatic response — “it’s the Republicans fault.” Oh please. That’s getting tiresome.

So there you go. Nice going, Mr. President. But why were you running around late last  year telling everyone how great the economy was doing? Liberals were quick to blame “spending cuts.” Jared Bernstein, a former Obama economic advisor complained the “austerity at [a] time when we need a fiscal push” is the problem. Oh right, another stimulus is just what we need, the others have worked so well. Brilliant!

I don’t know just what cushy jobs all the departing Obama economic advisers have found, but I’m sure they are big money ones. Remind me never to invest in any company they are advising.

Did nobody notice that the moment election results were announced, the Dow Jones Industrials promptly dropped by 300 points? Did nobody notice the massive layoffs  by American business in advance of the end of the year? a) it doesn’t matter. b) that’s a lot more people without jobs or c) it’s the Republicans fault?

There are things happening all over the country and all over the world that one might notice. Millions of people are picking up their lives and their businesses and moving out of California to any place with lower taxes and less regulation. Ditto, Illinois. Ditto, New York.

Texas, which has cut back on spending significantly, is a magnet for those departing other states, and Gov. Rick Perry is talking about refunding taxes to the citizens. Republican governors in other states are slashing spending, enacting right-to-work laws, and reforming entitlements, and making at least part of the U.S. economy healthier.

France’s new Socialist president put in a 75% tax rate on the rich, which was promptly overturned by the courts, and he has promised to reinstate. Gerard Depardieu has departed via Belgium for somewhere in a Russian dependency. Former French President Nicolas Sarcozy may move to London. And many wealthy French already have.

Democratic Party communications director Brad Woodhouse tweeted that this was “the best-looking contraction in U.S. GDP you’ll ever see.” Uh huh. Slow to non-existent growth has become the new normal. Joblessness has been over 7% practically forever.

The AP suggests: “…defying expectations for slow growth and possibly providing incentive for more Federal Reserve stimulus.” That has worked so well so far. This is not a learning administration. They only know one song.

In a recent interview NAACP CEO and president, Ben Jealous told the MSNBC host that Black Americans are doing far worse than when President Obama first took office.  White people are doing a bit better, Black people are doing far worse. The Labor Department reports that black unemployment was at 12.7 % when President Obama took office. As the employment rate for the nation dropped below 8%, black unemployment increased to 12.9% and then to 14% in December.

The flow of regulation has increased exponentially since Obama began his second term. Big business has found themselves targets of media attacks and government regulations. The combination of big media and big government would make any executive or entrepreneur think long and hard about starting a business or trying to grow.

The United States has 497 billion tons of recoverable coal in the United States — enough to provide electricity for 500 years at current consumption rates — coal has the potential to be an important resource for cheap energy far into the future. President Obama famously promised to bankrupt the coal industry, apparently because of a misunderstanding that the CO2 from coal-fired plants contributes to “global warming.”

Hasn’t been any warming in this century, and may not be any for another 30 -35 years. CO2 has increased in the atmosphere, but there has been no warming. None. Coal-fired generation in the U.S. has decreased from a 48% share of the generation market in 2008 to a 35% share in the first six months of 2012.

It is just not promising, not promising at all.

Our Irresponsible Media, Irresponsible Again. by The Elephant's Child

Do you remember Polifact’s  “Big Lie of the Year?” Well, of course the fact-checking record of the fact checkers is not exactly pristine. It remains highly tinged with partisan bias, and a distinct lack of self-awareness. This was a big one, though.

It was a lie told in the critical state of Ohio in the final days of a close campaign — that Jeep was moving its U.S. production to China. It originated with a conservative blogger, who twisted an accurate news story into a falsehood. Then it picked up steam when the Drudge Report ran with it. Even though Jeep’s parent company gave a quick and clear denial, Mitt Romney repeated it and his campaign turned it into a TV ad.

And they stood by the claim, even as the media and the public expressed collective outrage against something so obviously false.

The public, of course, did not express collective outrage. That was Polifact pretending more attention that existed. And they did not accurately represent what Mitt Romney said in the ad:

[Mitt Romney] Says Barack Obama “sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China” at the cost of American jobs.

Here’s what Reuters reported on Thursday:” Fiat and its U.S. unit Chrysler expect to roll out at least 100,000 Jeeps in China when production starts in   2014 as they seek to catch up with rivals…”

Mitt Romney was also scoffed at for mentioning dangers in Mali.


Unnecessary Regulation May Devastate the Economy and Your Budget. by The Elephant's Child

Republicans complain about “Big Government” all the time, but I’m not sure that the threat is well understood. We need a government because anarchy is not good. In this country we have assigned certain tasks to government. Making and enforcing a basic framework of laws is necessary to make the country function and become livable. We are a nation of laws.

It is not enough for government to do those certain assigned tasks, they always want to do more. Way more. You might think they would proudly do their assigned functions extremely efficiently, and so well that the citizens would rise up and applaud. Well, no.

Some governments have constitutions that explain what the people are allowed to do but the government can do whatever they darn please, and they do. The government of the European Union isn’t exactly elected as we understand the word, and they don’t really have to report to anyone. So they have gotten all silly about the shape that bananas must have, and requiring farmers to write the hen’s name and address on the eggs they sell, and not paid very much attention to what should be their primary function — efficiently managing the government’s money, and the relations between the states.

Perhaps those folks we elect, and we really have to start looking closely at their qualifications, don’t really understand the process of making laws. The two houses of Congress are inclined to make a big general law of thousands of pages that nobody reads, but here’s the troublesome part. They assign the particulars, figuring out the nasty details and how much it will cost and  how much it will interfere in the lives of the citizens who elected them, to an agency. The government is swarming with agencies, offices, bureaus and whatnot, and the first thing you know there are ten different agencies all doing the same thing, and nobody knows if any of them are doing a good job. And we pay for all the duplication.

Congress does not want to be blamed for regulations. So that’s the part they pass on. But regulation costs — big time. Wayne Crews who investigates regulation for CEI estimates the cost of regulation to the American economy is around $1.8 trillion a year. But the costs come right down to us all at the level of our household budget.

During the first three years of the Obama Administration, 106 new major federal regulations added more than $46 billion a year in new costs for Americans, That is almost four times the number and five times the cost of the major regulations issued by the Bush administration during their first three years. President Obama announced, with the usual fanfare, in January 2011 a new get-tough policy on overregulation. He acknowledged that “rules have gotten out of balance” and “have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs.” He promised a comprehensive review. Thirty-two new major regulations appeared that year, increasing the costs by $10 billion annually along with $6.6 billion in one-time implementation cost.

The White House put a whole slew of regulations on hold during the campaign. There were quite a significant number of things that had to wait until the election was over. No sense letting the public know about things they wouldn’t like. How many new regulations will business have to deal with? Nobody knows. The administration has failed to issue a report, required by law, that would set out Obama’s regulatory agenda — due every April and every October.  Spring and Fall 2012 are still missing.  The reason? There are as many as 4,100 rules in the pipeline, and the administration kept them bottled up for “review” until the president was safely re-elected, because many of them will cost jobs. Couldn’t have that right before the election.

Here’s one example, courtesy of ObamaCare, governing vending machines and restaurants, requiring them to display nutritional information. The regulations were expanded to include grocery stores and virtually all food service chains.  The estimated cost: $1.1 billion with 1.4 million additional paperwork burden hours.

The National Association of Manufacturers has pointed out that new EPA regulations in the pipeline could total up to $1111 billion by govt. estimates and $138 billion by industry estimates. Construction costs could total another $500 billion. Jay Timmons, CEO of the manufacturing group warned of a” devastating ripple effect” that could be felt throughout the economy if federal rules are not relaxed or delayed. Some manufacturers are likely to close their doors for good. Can’t have those Ohio voters finding out about that until after the election.

The Federal Register, published every week day and containing all proposed rules and regulations, most of which govern business activities — the left is very suspicious of business — was 81,000 pages in 2011 alone. Few of these regulations meet the “necessary”criteria, but they can surely have a devastating effect on the economy, and they will raise the cost of everything. Regulations are not free, and not necessarily needed.

Democrats Don’t Criticize Their Own, Republicans Can’t Stop! by The Elephant's Child

Have you noticed that Democrats do not criticize their own? Republicans, on the other hand can’t stop.

Democratic candidates do not make gaffes. They occasionally misspeak, but if so, it was nothing worth mentioning, just a slip of the tongue, nothing to see here, just move along.

The Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schulz said remarkably false and offensive things at every opportunity, yet they were not gaffes, nor did she misspeak, for she is an official of the Democratic party and cannot be in error. No one ever acknowledged that she might have said anything awry.

Stephanie Cutter, Deputy Obama Campaign Manager, came out with blatant lies about Governor Romney, was called on it, and continued to lie. Unacknowledged. When a Democrat is criticized, the party rallies round.

President Obama frequently faces the problem of saying one thing today, and quite the opposite on a previous YouTube video that appears on the internet promptly. Fortunately the president never makes a gaffe, the things that Republicans claim he said are just Republican lies and anyway that ‘s what he pays Jay Carney for, to explain away the inexplicable.

You may have noticed in the recent election campaign that Mitt Romney made all sorts of ridiculous claims about the economy, which is recovering nicely, unemployment, which is recovering nicely, and did not recognize that General Motors was once again No. 1 and Obama ordered the killing of bin Laden. Mitt Romney, a rich plutocrat, was doing what Republicans always do — promising more tax cuts for the rich.

President Obama spent little time on the economy which is recovering nicely, and concentrated on the really important issue which was how rich and uncaring, Romney was, how mean, woman-hating (he kept them in binders, and wouldn’t let them have contraceptives), plutocratic, rich, sends jobs to China, rich, corporate raider, uncaring, racist, is mean to animals, makes his dog ride on the roof of his car, fires people, and he is really, really rich.

Republicans were deeply disappointed in the outcome of the election. They believed that voters cared about jobs and the economy, which they apparently did. But voters thought that President Obama cared about them, and after more than a year of being told how mean Mitt Romney was, voters thought maybe he didn’t.

Republicans immediately saw clearly that they lost the election because they didn’t appeal to Hispanics. And Romney committed all these gaffes, and let Obama talk about his dog on the roof.  Republicans went through the long list of things Mitt Romney shouldn’t have said. They also blamed Paul Ryan, John McCain, Sarah Palin, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Bill Kristol, Karl Rove, Tea Party activists, Moderates, RHINOs, Republicans, Conservatives, Establishment Republicans, Republican voters, the Religious Right, those who were too concerned about social issues, and those who don’t care enough about social issues.

It has been 70 days since election day, and Republicans are still busy blaming each other. It’s what Republicans do. Democrats are always convinced that an electoral loss and the accompanying accusations are an indication that the Republican Party is over, failed, done, and Democrats will win forever and consign Republicans to the proverbial ash heap of history.

Republicans can’t help the blaming and dissension. It comes naturally.  Republicans care about the free market, free people, small and responsive government, and low taxes for everyone. Republicans are deeply worried about the profligate spending of the Obama administration. They do their worrying in public. Because they care so much about these things, they each have different ways of dealing with the problem. Arguing in public is what citizens are supposed to do; not plot behind closed doors, cooking up and passing bills that no one has seen or read. It is what the Founders intended.

This is also why we have three divisions of government. Democrats hate to be disagreed with, but they are supposed to argue and debate with their opposition.  The debate is supposed to be slow and deeply considered, not “my way or the highway.” President Obama’s latest political slander is a case in point. The president cannot stop campaigning and dividing.

But it seems as if what’s motivating and propelling at this point some of the House Republicans is more than simply deficit reduction. They have a particular vision about what government should and should not do, so they are suspicious about government’s commitments, for example, to make sure that seniors have decent health care as they get older. They have suspicions about Social Security. They have suspicions about whether government should make sure that kids in poverty are getting enough to eat or whether we should be spending money on medical research. So they’ve got a particular view of what government should do and should be.

That is not a case of ‘misspeaking. That is saying that because your opponents have the nerve to disagree, they should be slandered as uncaring. Obama has presided over four years in which 46 million Americans have descended into poverty, with no sign of a recovering economy. Let’s see how Jay Carney deals with that.


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