American Elephants

Obama’s Approach to Economics by The Elephant's Child

One of the problems is that President Obama learned his economics from Saul Alinsky, I guess. We are not allowed to see his transcripts, so no one knows if he ever had a course in economics. He was reported to be the best student of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals ever.

Andy McCarthy summed up the Alinsky approach in his excellent book, The Grand Jihad.

Alinskyites, though, are more sophisticated, patient, and practical. They bore in, hollowing out the system from within, taking on the appearance and argot of the heartland. Their single, animating goal is to overthrow the capitalist social order, which they claim to see as racist, corrupt, exploitative, imperialistic, etc. Everything else — including the cultivation of like-minded Islamists — is negotiable. They reserve the right to take any position on any matter, to say anything at any time, based on the ebb and flow of popular opinion. That keeps them politically viable while they radically transform society. Transform it into what, they haven’t worked out in great detail — except that it will be perfect, communal, equal and just.


Here He Goes Again — Delaying 2015 Enrollment Till After the Election. by The Elephant's Child

With all the revelations about ObamaCare, the terrifying escalation of costs for an individual health care policy and the accompanying drastically larger deductibles, Democrats are plainly worried about the 2014 midterms. So the Obama administration is back to its old tried and true tricks.

Health and Human Services plans to delay the start of the second year of Obamacare enrollment by one month to allow insurers more time to set rates after assessing their plan experiences during 2014, a department official said Thursday night.

The decision means that sign-ups for the 2015 plan year would begin on Nov. 15, 2014 and end on Jan. 15, 2015 instead of the Oct. 15-Dec. 7 window previously announced. The date change, first reported by Bloomberg, also lengthens the enrollment period by a week. Doing so would give companies more opportunity to account for individuals, particularly young adults, who come in late during the plan’s first year, which has gotten off to a rocky start. The goal is premiums that more accurately reflect costs for those insured.

The new calendar would move the start of the 2015 open enrollment season to shortly after the November midterm elections.

This is nonsense. Insurers calculate the changes from the previous year every year in setting new rates. They haven’t forgotten how to do it just because of Kathleen Sebelius. So far the federal government has been unable to convince healthy young consumers to buy comprehensive health insurance they don’t need, to pay for everyone else. This will force premium increases on everyone else to pay for the lack of the young.  Letting people know how much the ObamaCare policies they are being forced to buy are going to cost them just before an election is, um, unfortunate timing. Which of the Chicago bunch was it who said “elections are too important to be left to chance?”

Employer-provided group health insurance  is where costs will either skyrocket, or consumers will be kicked out of their group coverage altogether. There’s going to be a lot of outrage when it hits home for company employees.

I used to consider government departments as often inept as all bureaucracies are, but not as agencies involved in attempting to change election outcomes by manipulating data and calendars and changing regulations. Americans traditionally and rightly don’t place a lot of trust in their government. They really do work for us — and you have to keep an eye on your employees.

This president, however, has gone to extraordinary lengths to politicize government departments to achieve his political aims. What the long-term damage to the country will be, we will learn in coming years. That there will be long-term damage is assured.

Another of Obama’s Green “Investments” Goes Belly-Up by The Elephant's Child

President Obama may have learned his ideology from his family and mentors and from  his professors, but he learned his politics in Chicago. Chicago has long been the home of extraordinarily corrupt Democrat politics. You give me your financial support and I will see that you get government contracts to make you rich, which you will repay by giving me financial support and electoral support. I will get you a contract to build government sponsored housing, and you will sell me some land at a reduced price. If they don’t get caught, everybody gets rich.

Chicago politics have driven the Obama administration. Union supporters and Environmental supporters must get their payback. Supporting the “battle against climate change” offers the vehicle. The enviros want clean green energy, the unions want union jobs, and the bundlers want to invest in promising green technology, and the government is happy to provide the funding.

Trouble is that the world energy picture has changed while Obama wasn’t paying attention. We have abundant supplies of oil and natural gas, and hundreds of years of supplies of coal. Far greater supplies than Saudi Arabia. The “green” technologies have turned out to be inefficient, not cost-effective, and unable to produce energy is any significant quantities. CO2 is increasing while the climate gets cooler, and there has been no warming for 17 years.  The draft IPCC report shows 20 years of overestimated global warming. The enviros are fighting a losing battle.

Obama used his fifth State of the Union address to extol the virtue and job-creating power of federal “investment” in solar, wind, and advanced battery development. Everybody is giving up on electric cars, and the Department of Energy’s Office of the Inspector General has, in a scathing report issued Wednesday, said that LG Chem Michigan Inc. has misused most of the $150 million in  federal grants to build a battery cell manufacturing plant in Holland, Michigan. The company used taxpayer dollars to pay employees to volunteer at local nonprofits, play games and watch movies.

Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman said that “even though the facility had produced  a large number of test cells, the plant had yet to manufacture battery cells that could actually be used in electric vehicles and sold to the public.”

Barely 200 of the promised 440 jobs expected to be created by the project had, in fact, been created. Production of lithium-ion batteries is not likely to begin anytime soon if sales of GM’s Chevy Volt— whose batteries currently come from  LG Chem operations in South Korea — do not accelerate.

LG Chem has spent $142 million of its $150 million federal grant, and the company expects to continue satisfying any U.S. demand for its batteries from plants overseas. Only 3 of the planned 5 production lines have been built.

I.G. Friedman’s report is another searing indictment of the Obama Energy Department’s $2.4 billion Vehicle Technologies Program, an ideologically driven program to back green-energy technology investments with taxpayer dollars and create American jobs.

The way these things are supposed to work is for business to respond to a public need for a product, not for the government to pick winners and losers. They are pretty good at the loser part, but really lousy at the winners. For the taxpayers’ $150 million, you have no batteries, no real jobs, and another business that has squandered the money.

You start with a failing car company that is in deep trouble because of their overpaid union workers, unfunded pensions, and overgenerous work rules. You screw the investors and the taxpayers, and reward the unions— even giving them a big share of the company. Then you order them to make an electric car that is still in the experimental stage and sell it for an outrageous price to a public that doesn’t want it. Obama describes this as an auto industry that has come roaring back.

Electric cars have been a pipe dream since the turn of the 19th century. They just seemed so promising, but nobody could figure out how to make a battery that would compete with the internal combustion engine. Knowledgeable engineers have said that batteries require a breakthrough from a source as yet unknown. Some of the electric cars are sexy looking, but have a nasty habit of catching fire. Costs range from over $40,000 to well over $100,000. Resale value gets a little iffy when replacement batteries cost considerably upwards from $15,000, and the needed grid to support recharging does not exist.

LG Chem is just another in the long list of examples of the risk of allowing federal bureaucrats to use taxpayer dollars to bet on private-sector players in emerging technologies that are considered politically correct.  Never works. Isn’t there a song about the Yugo?

The President is Playing Politics With The Constitution and the Law. by The Elephant's Child

Unable to allow Republicans to dominate the news with the Iowa Caucuses,  President Obama traveled to Shaker Heights, Ohio to give a speech at the high school, on the economy.  What made the news was not the soaring rhetoric, but the fact that the President of the United States announced his intention to act in total and utter disregard to the U.S.Constitution, which he solemnly swore to preserve, protect and defend. He said:

When Congress refuses to act and as a result hurts our economy and puts people at risk, I have an obligation as President to act without them.

The President’s power over what are called “recess appointments” comes from Article II, section 2, of the Constitution, which grants him the authority “to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.” As John Yoo points out,”the Senate adjourns for short periods of time, and the question becomes when does an “adjournment” become long enough to turn into a “recess?”

In the past Attorneys General and Presidents have thought that an adjournment would have to be longer than at least 10 days to become a “recess.” In the Founders’ day, it took a long time to get from Philadelphia to their home states and back by horseback, and it was pretty clear. The Senate is not officially in adjournment, but is holding “pro forma” meetings, where little or no business is conducted,  to prevent Obama from making exactly such appointments. This is a tactic that Harry Reid used to prevent George W. Bush from making “recess” appointments.

It is the Senate who decides whether or not they are in session,  it is not up to the President. He cannot decide the legitimacy of the actions of the Senate, nor can the Congress have the right to decide whether the President has thought long enough about granting a pardon. Separation of powers is an important and essential characteristic of our Constitution, and not only protects the authority of each branch of government, but acts as a brake on their actions.

Roger Pilon of the Cato Institute says that the president, under Article II, section 2, may make temporary recess appointments — but only when the Senate is in recess. Mr. Pilon said:

All of Obama’s appointments yesterday are illegal under the Constitution. And, in addition, as too little noted by the media, his appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is legally futile. Under the plain language of the Dodd-Frank Act that created the CFPB, Cordray will have no authority whatsoever.

He added: “So what is this? It’s politics — Chicago politics, plain and simple.  If any doubt remained, three years into his presidency, that Obama is a master demagogue, with class warfare as his central tool, this incident should dispel it.

Richard Epstein adds that” within the framework of the current law, …it is for the Senate and not for the President to determine whether the Senate is in session. The usual view in all cases is that the internal rules of each institution govern its operations, and for the President to say that the Senate is not in session when the Senate says that is is, introduces a set of constitutional confrontations that we would be far better off doing without.”

Epstein questions the whole idea of “recess appointments,” though he agrees with John Yoo on the Constitution and the law.  It’s a thoughtful discussion.

The Supreme Court has held that the National Labor Relations Board cannot operate with only two members, so the question of legitimate appointments will not go away. Neither the President’s appointments to the NLRB nor his appointment of Richard Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will have any authority, so there will be more court cases. Anyone who disagrees with rulings by these people will be free to ignore them or to sue.

Press secretary Jay Carney said today that :

We hope to work with Congress to continue to take action on that to continue to grow the economy and create jobs. Separate from that, and this was the case last year and will be the case this year, we can’t wait for Congress to act.  And when Congress refuses to act, and Republicans choose the path of obstruction rather that cooperation, then the president is not going to sit here, this gridlock in Washington is not an excuse for inaction.

He’s going to take the actions that he can take using his executive authority to help the cause here, to help Americans deal with this challenging economy.  And they can be small, medium or large actions and they don’t have to be just executive authority actions.

If you pay attention to the President’s actions and not his rhetoric, it’s clear that he has no idea how to improve the unemployment situation. Business has pointed out that ObamaCare is the number one reason for business’ reluctance to hire. Obama has essentially shut down the energy sector and thousands of potential jobs because he is pursuing a green fantasy. His agencies cannot stop piling on regulations that make for an uncertain business climate. Our corporate taxes are the highest in the world. It’s no wonder that business looks to conducting their business where they are better treated.

The late Walter Wriston said it very clearly:

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.

You might copy that off and send it to your Congressman or Occupy protester.

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