The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Corporate Jets

No less than six different times during yesterday's news conference, President Obama suggested that we must—absolutely must—eliminate tax loopholes for the fat cats who own corporate jets. [It's worth noting in passing that an extension of the loophole for corporate jets was part of the President's very own stimulus bill in 2009]. No matter that eliminating these loop holes would result in a deficit reduction of 1/10th of 1 percent—symbols matter.

Okay, I get it.

So here’s a set of modest suggestions that will allow the President to create other symbolic cuts. The Executive Office of the President (EOP) currently employs 1800 people. How about a symbolic gesture of a 10 percent staff reduction—all in the name of decreasing the cost of government. After all, these bright, hard-driving folks at EOP will have no problem finding jobs in the private sector, and with a burdened pay rate of at least 100,000, that would save the federal government 18,000,000 bucks annually.

But lets not stop there. There are in the neighborhood of 30,000 employees in the legislative branch. You read that correctly—30,000. How about the President suggesting a 10 percent staff reduction to his Democratic colleagues and to the Republicans as well. After all, the best and the brightest who work for Congress would have no trouble landing a private sector job, would they? The savings—a cool $300 million annually.

Of course, I could go on to the various government departments where there are far too many political appointees and lifetime bureaucrats and not enough real work (plenty of made-up work, though) to keep them busy, but you get the point.

Or how about this? Most of Barack Obama’s admirers among the Hollywood A-list have acquired a wide array of tax loopholes that benefit the entertainment business. For example, deductible plastic surgery for actors or accelerated depreciation schedules for moguls. How about eliminating those?

Nah, strident class warfare is much more fun for the President. After all, corporate jet owners are such an easy target. The problem, I guess, is that the President is only too willing to look at the easy targets, but does not have the political courage or the leadership ability to address the difficult ones—you know, the spending cuts that will actually reduce the deficit in a meaningful way.

Update (6/30/11):

Even Gloria Borger of CNN (certainly no enemy of Barack Obama) is beginning to become frustrated with the President’s leadership approach:
What might actually have counted as news is if the president, as the nation's leader, had proposed a definitive way out of the budget mess -- or at least drawn some lines in the sand.

Instead, we learned that we need a "balanced approach" to the debt mess. That Obama is willing to "tackle entitlements" (presuming, of course, that nothing is done to touch Medicare beneficiaries). And that taxes -- the kinds that affect "millionaires and billionaires," corporate titans and their personal jets -- should be on the table.

Just for the record, getting rid of a tax break for corporate jets may be a fine idea, but it isn't going to solve the deficit problem since it will amount to only about $3 billion over the next decade. But it's a good line.

Earlier today on rabidly pro-Obama MSNBC, Mark Halperin of Time [a clear media friend of the President] referred to the President's demeaner during the news conference in markedly unflattering terms. He was pulled from the air.

Richard Fernandez of The Belmont Club provides useful insight: "A political enterprise is in real distress, not when it is attacked by its enemies which is normal, but when it can no longer be praised by its friends. And when those friends must deliver praise or respect through gritted teeth then the incipient trouble is all the greater."

The Obama presidency is in trouble, not because of the GOP "obstructionists" as the Left would have you believe, but because of the President's obvious inexperience, his extreme ideology, his hyper-partisan approach to just about everything, and his inability to lead all the American people. Even his friends are becoming disillusioned.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Over the years, I have written about the class warfare fantasy ideology that is a mainstream meme among those on the Left. But those on the Right are not immune to their own illogical (some would say, irrational) ideologies. This week, one of the Right’s favorites was in full bloom as New York state passed legislation to legalize gay marriage. Within seconds, most Republican presidential candidates, many right-leaning senators, and the vast majority of conservative commentators robotically stated: “marriage is defined as a union between and man and a woman,” as if somehow, that justifies direct blatant discrimination again a particular class of people.

Most of these same conservatives then go on to suggest that gay marriage is a “threat” to the institution of heterosexual marriage. How exactly? Does gay marriage somehow abridge the rights of heterosexual couples to be married? Does it cause marriages to end in divorce? There is never any answer to how the “threat" manifests itself, but otherwise logical people state it anyway.

Mona Charen considers a real “threat” that both liberals and conservatives prefer not to address because discussion of it is politically incorrect:
The statistics are familiar. In 1970, 85.2 percent of children under 18 lived in a two-parent family. In 2005, it was 68.3 percent and dropping. Forty percent of births in America are to unwed parents. Broken down by ethnic group, the figures are 30 percent among whites, 50 percent for Hispanics and 70 percent for blacks.

Single mothers (and occasionally fathers) find it much more difficult to be the kind of autonomous, self-supporting individuals that our system of government was designed for. Single parents turn to the government for assistance in dozens of ways. Pearlstein [author of the book, From Family Collapse to America's Decline] cites economist Benjamin Scafidi, who has offered a rough calculation of how much family breakdown costs American taxpayers annually. Scafidi considered TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), Food Stamps, housing assistance, Medicaid, S-Chip, child welfare services, justice system costs, WIC, LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program), Head Start, school breakfast and lunch programs, and foregone tax receipts. The annual bill to taxpayers: $112 billion.

But Scafidi was being conservative, Pearlstein argues. He didn't include the Earned Income Tax Credit, the costs to schools that accrue from additional discipline problems, the special education costs that increase in lock step with chaotic family environments, and the added burdens on Medicare and Medicaid that result from more unmarried older Americans. Scafidi explains that "high rates of divorce and failure to marry mean that many more Americans enter late middle age (and beyond) without a spouse to help them manage chronic illnesses, or to help care for them if they become disabled."

The flight from marriage is transforming the complexion of American society -- increasing inequality and decreasing self-sufficiency.

So the next time you hear a conservative talk about marriage definitions and threats, recognize that cultural definitions, like all things, evolve over time and that threats are real only when they can be demonstrated with tangible evidence, not shrill counter-factual proclamations. The conservative fantasy about same sex marriage is abject nonsense.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


The New York Times reports:
GAZA — Two luxury hotels are opening in Gaza this month. Thousands of new cars are plying the roads. A second shopping mall — with escalators imported from Israel — will open next month. Hundreds of homes and two dozen schools are about to go up. A Hamas-run farm where Jewish settlements once stood is producing enough fruit that Israeli imports are tapering off.

But according to a “report” that is so biased that it is laughable, the NYT uses progress in Gaza to further the meme that all Palestinian problems are due to Israeli transgressions. A few paragraphs into the “report,” the NYT's intrepid reporter (editorialist?) comments:
Thousands of homes that were destroyed in the Israeli antirocket invasion two and a half years ago have not been rebuilt. Hospitals have canceled elective surgery for lack of supplies. Electricity remains maddeningly irregular. The much-publicized opening of the Egyptian border has fizzled, so people remain trapped here. The number of residents living on less than $1.60 a day has tripled in four years. Three-quarters of the population rely on food aid.

“Israeli antirocket invasion?” I actually laughed out loud. In a 1200 word article that castigates Israel for its “blockade,” the NYT sees fit to mention the reason for the “blockade” with a single adjective—“antirocket.” Not a word of context or a description of magnitude, not a word about historical background or an explanation of Hamas’ murderous charter calling for the destruction of a sovereign state—nah, the Left wing editors of the NYT (not to mention its “reporter”) consider a single word—antirocket—to be sufficient.

Four thousand rockets fired randomly by the sainted Hamas at civilian targets in Israel? No worries. After all, the Left has adopted Hamas as its poster child for “the oppressed.” And the oppressed can be as murderous as they like.

More from the Times:
“We have 100 percent vaccination; no polio, measles, diphtheria or AIDS,” said Mahmoud Daher, a World Health Organization official here. “We’ve never had a cholera outbreak.”

The Israeli government and its defenders use such data to portray Gaza as doing just fine and Israeli policy as humane and appropriate: no flotillas need set sail.

Israel’s critics say the fact that the conditions in Gaza do not rival the problems in sub-Saharan Africa only makes the political and human rights crisis here all the more tragic — and solvable. Israel, they note, still controls access to sea, air and most land routes, and its security policies have consciously strangled development opportunities for an educated and potentially high-achieving population that is trapped with no horizon. Pressure needs to be maintained to end the siege entirely, they say, and talk of improvement is counterproductive.

The “reporter” for the NYT conveniently fails to mention why Israel “still controls access to sea, air and most land routes …” Again, those silly 4,000 rockets landing in Israeli towns, schools, and shopping districts, and Hamas' refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist might have just a little something to do with it. Nah, not possible, implies the NYT “reporter.” After all, those steel bars, the cement, and the other 3,000 tons of construction supplies per day that are smuggled into Gaza are applied only for peaceful purposes. No chance, whatsoever, that some of the materials are siphoned off to build fortified rocket launching sites, After all, if that were the case, the NYT's intrepid “reporter” would have found evidence of it … right?

So from the NYT we learn that luxury hotels are being built in Gaza, medical care is better than most of the developing world, BMWs and Kias are becoming commonplace on the streets, restaurants are booming, but wait … “all of this belies the misery that lies beneath.” It looks like the Palestinians—the world's most vocal victims—aided and abetted by the blatant bias of the NYT, want us to believe that even when things improve, they really don’t. That’s standard practice for the Palestinians, and the blatant media bias? That’s standard practice for The New York Times.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Modern Depression

Over the past month, supporters of the President have developed an oft-repeated narrative that claims that the administration has “created 2.1 million jobs” over the past 30 months. Like many claims that come from this administration, this claim is highly questionable.

Mort Zuckerman provides more honest (and gloomy) economic numbers:
In the face of the most stimulative fiscal and monetary policies in our history [almost 1 trillion dollars in administration spending], we have experienced the loss of over 7 million jobs, wiping out every job gained since the year 2000. From the moment the Obama administration came into office, there have been no net increases in full-time jobs, only in part-time jobs. This is contrary to all previous recessions. Employers are not recalling the workers they laid off from full-time employment.

The real job losses are greater than the estimate of 7.5 million. They are closer to 10.5 million, as 3 million people have stopped looking for work. Equally troublesome is the lower labor participation rate; some 5 million jobs have vanished from manufacturing, long America's greatest strength. Just think: Total payrolls today amount to 131 million, but this figure is lower than it was at the beginning of the year 2000, even though our population has grown by nearly 30 million.

These numbers are very troubling, but they are not the end of the bad news.

For an administration that promoted hope and change, it’s ironic that the President seems unable to change his failed approach to the economy. He needs to create an atmosphere in which the private sector has the confidence to begin expanding their business and hiring people to accomplish that goal. But business confidence only occurs when stability is present, not when threats of more taxes, more government spending, more deficits, more regulation, more health care burdens, and more ill-conceived and scientifically dubious environmental constraints are the daily narrative coming from the white house.

I suspect that part of the problem is that the President simply does not understand the private sector. He has never started a company, never met a payroll, never lead a private enterprise, and never managed a private sector project. In fact, he has never worked for any meaningful length of time in the private sector and has had very little actual experience in it.

Therefore, he leads from behind, offering no detailed plan for moving forward. He is, however, perfectly happy to criticize those that do provide such plans.

As a consequence, an ever increasing percentage of the American public have the feeling that we’re adrift—that our current leadership doesn’t have a clue. As they say, “hope” is not a plan.

At the conclusion of his lengthy article, Zuckerman writes:
Clearly, the Great American Job Machine is breaking down, and roadside assistance is not on the horizon. In the second half of this year (and thereafter?), we will be without the monetary and fiscal steroids. Nor does anyone know what will happen to long-term interest rates when the Federal Reserve ends its $600 billion quantitative easing support of the capital markets. Inventory levels are at their highest since September 2006; new order bookings are at the lowest levels since September 2009. Since home equity has long been the largest asset on the balance sheet of the average American family, all home¬owners are suffering from housing prices that have, on average, declined 33 percent (compare that to the Great Depression drop of 31 percent).

No wonder the general economic mood is one of alarm. The Conference Board measure of U.S. consumer confidence slumped to 60.8 percent in May, down from 66 percent in April and well below the average of 73 in past recessions, never mind the 100-plus numbers in good times. Never before has confidence been this low in the 23rd month of a recovery. Gluskin Sheff's Rosenberg captured it perfectly: We may well be in the midst of a "modern depression."


Friday, June 17, 2011

Looking at Fannie

In November of 2008, our economic house of cards began to topple. At that time I wrote:
All of us who have temporarily seen our balance sheets spiral downward have real reason to question the rank stupidity, voracious greed, and total lack of responsible behavior by everyone involved in the sub-prime credit scandal. Whether it’s the California farm worker whose $14,000 per year salary justified a $500,000 delayed interest home loan; the dishonest mortgage broker who gave it to him; the regulators and politicians who looked the other way; the Wall Street investment banker who consolidated that dysfunctional loan with millions of others and sold them to insurance and banking executives who were more interested in year-end bonus than in fiduciary responsibility, we have good reason to condemn them all.

The thrust of that post was optimistic, suggesting that our problems were transitory and that as soon as we got our spending and debt under control, things would begin to improve. Little did I know that the incoming Obama administration would increase spending and debt to levels that were unprecedented in our history.

But that’s not the topic of this post.

One of the real culprits of the economic collapse—Fannie Mae—often goes unmentioned. A new book, Reckless Endangerment, by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner, outline the scandalous behavior of well-connected Washington Democrats who used Fanny Mae to enrich themselves, fund their pet activist projects, and put the entire home mortgage system at risk. David Brooks reports:
The story centers around James Johnson, a Democratic sage with a raft of prestigious connections. Appointed as chief executive of Fannie Mae in 1991, Johnson started an aggressive effort to expand homeownership.

Back then, Fannie Mae could raise money at low interest rates because the federal government implicitly guaranteed its debt. In 1995, according to the Congressional Budget Office, this implied guarantee netted the agency $7 billion. Instead of using that money to help buyers, Johnson and other executives kept $2.1 billion for themselves and their shareholders. They used it to further the cause — expanding their clout, their salaries and their bonuses. They did the things that every special-interest group does to advance its interests.

Fannie Mae co-opted relevant activist groups, handing out money to Acorn, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other groups that it might need on its side.

Brooks characterizes this as “the most devastating scandal in recent history,” and yet, we hear very little about it in the legacy media. Part of the problem is that most of the players are Democrats who did nothing illegal. They provided members of congress with large campaign contributions, they lowered borrowing standing to assist the poor achieve home ownership and then branded as “racist” those who worried about the quality of the resultant loans. Their champion, democratic Congressman Barney Frank, fought regulators who raised warning flags, and to quote Brooks: “… was arrogantly dismissive when anybody raised doubts about the stability of the whole arrangement.”

The bottom line:
Fannie was a cancer that helped spread risky behavior and low standards across the housing industry. We all know what happened next.

Why does the legacy media spend enormous time on the salacious activities of a junior (now ex-) congressman from New York, but doesn’t mention Morgenson and Rosner’s new book or interview them on it? Could it be that Fannie Mae—a darling of Left-leaning politicians including the President—is considered untouchable because of it underlying politics? Possibly. But the silence might also be due to a tacit understanding that the elite of Washington know best. These masters of the universe (Washington style) can and do play fast and loose with hundreds of billions of our tax dollars, and no one is held accountable. It’s a travesty.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

49 Percent

With 16 months to go before the 2012 presidential elections, it’s silly to rely on polls to provide any insight whatsoever into the public’s view of the candidates. However, one thing is clear—polls can be used as propaganda tools. After all, if you work to convince the public that a candidate is popular or unpopular, it may sway those on the fence.

When the latest NBC/WSJ poll was released yesterday, I was surprised to see that President Obama had a 49 percent overall approval rating. After all, his administration’s performance on the economy has been abysmal, and people normally vote their pocketbooks.

But then I took a look at the population of people who participated in the poll, and things became very clear indeed. The datatechguy blog reports:
We’ll start with the splits [of those who participated in the poll]:
Strong Democrat …………….. 19
Not very strong Democrat ….. 13
Independent/lean Democrat …10
Strictly Independent ………….14
Independent/lean Republican ..10
Not very strong Republican ….11
Strong Republican …………….13
Other (VOL) …………………… 8
Not sure ……………………….. 2

So this means that the skew of the poll to begin with is 42% dem vs 34% GOP. Gee do ya think an 8 point difference in party affiliation might have something to do with the numbers? I’d say polling nearly 25% more democrats than republicans might help the democrats bottom line figures a tad.

Now lets see how those people voted last time
Voted for Barack Obama ….. 42
Voted for John McCain ……. 32
Voted for someone else ……. 5
Not sure ……………………… 3
No, Did Not Vote …………… 18
Not sure ………………………. -

The spread of Obama voters vs McCain voters in this sample is 3 points greater than his actual 2008 election spread but lets look deeper:

Nearly 1 in 5 of the people who answer claimed they did not vote last time in an election that drew huge turn out, so lets extrapolate those figures without the 18% that claim they didn’t vote. What kind of spread does that leave us compared to the actual 2008 results (52.9 Obama vs 45.7 McCain)?
Voted for Barack Obama ….. 52
Voted for John McCain ……. 40
Voted for someone else ……. 6%

In the last election President Obama got 52.9% of the vote so the poll reflects that figure within 1% but John McCain got 45.7% of the vote. This means this poll under-represents McCain voters by over 11%

Hmmm. The 49 percent approval number is misleading and clearly biased.

I’m not the least bit surprised that NBC reported the 49% result without providing context. After all, NBC has been a shill for President Obama since his 2008 campaign. But The Wall Street Journal allowing it’s name to be connected with this result is both surprising and disappointing. Someone dropped the ball at WSJ.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Nation

The Nation is a magazine and website that is unabashedly pro-Obama. Its editorial content is an excellent window into the thinking of those on the Left of the political landscape. It was something of a surprise, therefore, to see the following comment from The Nation’s Editors:
Barack Obama is trapped in ominous economic circumstances, partly of his own making, and time is running out for his presidency. The character traits that got him to the White House—the cool style of avoiding sharp-edged conflict and mediating political differences—threaten now to make him a one-term president. Character is destiny. At this point, only Obama can save Obama, but to do that he must change himself.

This grim prognosis may sound premature, but bad economic news confirms what we have been warning for months: the president’s strategy is failing. People know this. The longer Obama persists in claiming things are on the right track, the more he damages his credibility. Severe economic distress is what defeats incumbent presidents (cf. George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter).

The editors are realistic in their assessment, but they then diverge from reality and place blame on the hated Republicans who they argue would “obstruct” more stimulus spending. Following the lead of Leftist economists such as Paul Krugman and Robert Reich, the editors are convinced that more spending and even bigger government are the only road that will avert economic calamity. They write:
He [Obama] has to force his opponents out into plain view and turn their vicious behavior into a political asset for himself. He can achieve this by demonstrating concretely whose side he is on. First, he must acknowledge that although his original stimulus helped avert a depression, it failed to produce a robust recovery. Next, he must propose a battery of emergency measures that deliver directly to citizens who are suffering—job creation, foreclosure avoidance, prosecution of fraudulent bankers and other interventions that will help ordinary citizens survive the hard times. He shouldn’t overpromise on results, already a mistake of his presidency. But he should make it clear that he intends to help people stay above water, however long the troubles last.

Let’s consider this for just a moment. Since by their own admission, a three quarter trillion stimulus “failed to produce a robust recovery,” we need to do more of it? Since “emergency measures that deliver directly to citizens who are suffering—job creation, foreclosure avoidance, prosecution of fraudulent bankers and other interventions” have failed to create jobs, have failed to stem the tide of foreclosures, have allowed the financial sector to continue business as usual, we should try them all again? And “other interventions” are what exactly? Following the lead of the President, no details or specificity is provided. In the view of the editors, lets make believe the deficit isn't a very serious problem and adopt the fantasy that we can use taxpayer money to spend our way out of it.

On the other hand, the President’s opponents believe that when tactics fail demonstrably, you must change tactics.

The President’s opponents have committed another crime as well. They have produced detailed plans to revive the economy. These plans rely on different tactics to be sure, but when a country is faced with “severe economic distress” it would seem reasonable to try something different when the current approach is an abject failure.

President Obama, democratic leaders, and the editors of The Nation have criticized Paul Ryan’s and Tim Pawlenty’s plans as “the failed policies of the past.” I guess the Nation's editors fail to see that the very policies they suggest are demonstrably “the failed policies” of the past two years.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

You've Got Mail

As the 2012 presidential election moves closer, it’s fascinating to watch the main stream media as they circle the wagons to promote and protect their chosen candidate. They are largely unwilling to present in-depth analysis of the President’s dismal record on the economy, on unemployment, on federal spending, and on the deficit. Sure, they report the basic facts, but they assiduously avoid delving deeper.

Can you just imagine the media coverage if a Republican President had failed as badly in resurrecting a moribund economy. The focus would be relentless. After all, that hypothetical administration would have presided over the distribution of almost a trillion dollars of borrowed taxpayer money to “stimulate the economy.” All to no effect. Human interest stories on the unemployed would be daily fare, with subtle condemnation of the phantom administration’s ineffective policies.

Today, four million people have been out of work for more than a year. Worse, half of the private jobs that were created last month (54,000—a paltry number indeed) were created by McDonalds—one of the companies that was exempted from Obamacare, thereby allowing them to hire without the negative mandates imposed on other large employers. One wonders how many large companies that were not exempted are holding back on hiring because the provisions of the President’s ill-conceived healthcare program are onerous. We’ll never know.

So if the MSM is not covering the President’s failures, what are they doing? Two of the flagship newspapers in the country (The NYT and WaPo) seem to be obsessed with Sarah Palin and her 25,000 emails. So obsessed, in fact, that both papers have enlisted hundred of readers to pour through the emails looking for juicy tidbits that can be used to further denigrate the former governor. But why? Sarah Palin is not a presidential candidate nor is she likely to become one.

The answer is really pretty simple. By spending thousands of column inches or minutes of airtime on Palin (or another non-candidate, Donald Trump), the MSM can avoid presenting the ideas of other serious candidates who might challenge their guy. After all, if they can make Palin look bad (that’s not hard to do!), they hope that the stink will rub off on other serious Republican candidates. For example, if they focus on Palin, they can keep the public from learning about people like Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, and a serious contender for the Republican nomination.

Unlike the President, who has studiously avoided presenting a detailed plan for federal spending and the economy, Pawlenty (and Congressman Paul Ryan) had the courage to propose a detailed plan. But rather than present Pawlenty's plan and discuss its impact, the MSM would rather look at Sarah Palin’s emails.

I suppose you could argue that the MSM paid as little attention the the President’s economic plan. But there was a different reason—they wanted to avoid embarrassing him. President Obama’s budget proposal in April was so bad that it was voted down in the Democratically-controlled Senate 97 – 0!

Did the MSM spend meaningful time dissecting the President's proposal or the overwhelming vote against it. Did they ask whether the President was less than serious about the economic catastrophe that has befallen our country? Did they ask why every Democratic Senator voted against the President’s plan? Every single one? Did they ask why the Presdient isn't leading on this critical issue?

Nah, they’d rather obsess about Sarah Palin.

Friday, June 10, 2011


With all of the negative economic news, most of the media has seemingly forgotten about the specter of Obamacare and is unwilling to discuss its negative impact on the economy, federal spending, and the debt. In general, the media prefers to recycle the administration’s spin, that the new health care law will “reduce” overall health care costs and improve healthcare. This spin occurs despite a growing body of nonpartisan evidence that indicates otherwise.

The Boston Herald comments:
Even as yet another federal court ponders the constitutionality of Obamacare, the bad news about its impact just keeps on coming.

This week a report by the respected McKinsey & Co. found that at least 30 percent of employers are likely to stop offering their workers health insurance as a routine benefit once the federal law kicks in.

As many as half of those 1,300 companies surveyed said they would “definitely” or “probably” drop such coverage even with a government imposed penalty of as much as $2,000 per worker for companies with more than 50 employees.

We have already seen the first of wave of Obamacare’s unintended consequences with the government granting more than 1,372 waivers to companies, unions and insurers who wanted to continue to offer low cost plans that didn’t necessarily meet the new and rather expansive and expensive Obamacare guidelines.

For a moment, let’s discount the health care waivers that have, by and large, been granted to politically correct constituencies or employers who might otherwise drop insurance altogether right now. If 1,372 companies and unions are asking to be waived, there’s something in the new law that tells them that (1) it will cost them money and/or (2) that it will not improve care. Even more concerning is McKinsey’s projection that 30 percent of all employers will drop health coverage altogether.

Of course, some people believe that forcing companies to drop coverage was the covert objective of Obamacare all along. Once companies bail, universal health care would follow as the crisis deepens. That may be a bit extreme, but it does make you wonder.

After all, the federal government does such a good job controlling costs in Medicare—an entitlement that cost hundreds of times more than original projections when it was instituted in the 1960s and will be in default in less than 14 years. All we need to do, according to Democratic proponents who are currently using “healthscare” tactics to frighten seniors, is eliminate fraud and abuse and of course, tax the rich. Yeah, that’ll work.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Taking a Risk

I have studiously avoided any direct comment on Congressman Anthony Weiner’s behavior. I will continue to do so. However, the broader lessons to be learned are noted by Dana Milbank:
To make it to Congress, lawmakers have already been successful, and lucky. They stood out in their state legislatures, their businesses or their military careers. Once in office, they are surrounded by sycophantic staffers and lobbyist supplicants. Their members-only perks include drivers, special treatment on airplanes and the power to skip metal detectors. Because so few of them come from competitive districts, their lopsided victories and adoring supporters make them more and more impressed with their own might.

To amuse themselves, and to test their power, many of them take risks — a small gift, a playful remark, a bit of rhetorical excess — and, each time they get away with it, they become more convinced of their invincibility. They become thrill-seeking adolescents, taking ever-greater risks until they retire or get caught.

Milbank goes on to state that lawmakers take risks, not only in their sexual endeavors, but in the leadership roles we’ve elected them to perform.

This morning I listened to democratic Senator Dick Durbin expound on the economy, the debt, and solutions he might have to the economic problems we face. In what is becoming a distressingly common answer among Democrats, Durbin proceeded to criticize concrete proposed solutions by Republicans, claiming that they were policies that “got us into these problems in the first place.” That’s a meme you’ll be hearing frequently as the election season approaches.

But what you won’t be hearing are viable alternative solutions. Durbin, along with President Obama and most members of the Democratic leadership, has decided to take a risk. He talked about eliminating waste and abuse, and other peripheral cost cutting measures, even though these would do virtually nothing to reduce the deficit. He avoided providing any real solutions of his own.

Durbin and his brethren have decided to put the country at risk—all in the name of preserving profligate programs that they adore. No matter that these programs—from social security to Medicare, from social spending to jobs programs—are going to bankrupt this nation if nothing is done, they believe it’s worth the risk to delay, hoping that it provides political advantage.

I honestly don’t care whether Congress Weiner resigns for taking the risk he took. He put none of us at risk in doing so. But Durbin, the President and others who have decided to play chicken with the economy? They are taking a risk that puts all of us at risk—and that’s unacceptable.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

The Doctor

After a dismal set of employment figures was released this week, followed by housing numbers that are even worse, Barack Obama gave a speech in which he used a medical metaphor. He suggested, as he often does, that he is a victim of George W. Bush’s mismanagement of the economy. There’s nothing new there.

“It’s as if the economy got hit by a truck,” he said (paraphrasing slightly). He went on to say that the patient (the economy) will need still more time to heal. He asked for patience and noted that it could have been a lot worse if he didn’t step in.

Apparently two and a half years of care and the force-feeding of “medication” worth well over a trillion dollars of taxpayer money were inadequate to effect a cure.

Since President Obama has chosen a medical metaphor, I’ll be so bold as to continue it.

Initially, the President was the emergency room physician that worked to treat the patient that was “struck by the truck.” He called in specialists (his advisors) who prescribed an ineffective course of treatment (i.e., the ill-fated stimulus, the cash for clunkers plan, the first time home-buyer tax credit, the bailout of GM, etc.) all costing the patient huge sums of out-of-pocket and borrowed cash. Although the attending physicians predicted recovery in 18 months, things got progressively worse for the patient (it was, after all, a very big truck).

Today, President Obama is playing the role of the internist who is managing the case of the still suffering patient. With each passing month, the patient’s condition changes, but overall, the trend is not good. Recovery is nowhere in sight.

Relatives of the patient (all of us) are becoming frustrated and have asked the internist for some new ideas, for a concrete plan of treatment. The internist refuses to propose a concrete plan and at the same time dishonestly criticizes another physician (Rep. Paul Ryan) who does.

Would you stay with the internist or look for another doctor? That’s a decision that all of us will have to make in 2012.

Thursday, June 02, 2011


You’d think that President Obama would be at the forefront of those who would oppose an increase in the debt limit without a concomitant reduction in Federal spending. After all, his re-election pivots on the economy. But Barack Obama is driven by a “big government” ideology that grows the scope and control of the federal government. In order to achieve his extreme view of social justice, he must spend, let the debt be damned.

This week’s economic numbers continue to be dismal. In an editorial, Investor’s Business Daily quotes Michael Pento, senior economist at Euro Pacific Capital, "genuine government stimulus comes from low taxes, stable prices, reduced regulation and low debt. Our economic policymakers have scrupulously avoided such remedies."

Not only has the Obama administration and its supporters “avoided” these things, they have viciously attacked those who recommend them. Worse, they have been profligate spenders.

Again from IBD:
From 2008 to 2010, the U.S. borrowed over $3.1 trillion. It will borrow another $1.5 trillion this year.

At the same time, the Fed has added $2 trillion to its balance sheet, mostly to buy all that new debt.

There are dozens of economic indicators, and virtually all of them present bad news, some suggesting that we’re headed for a double-dip recession. And who gets hurt the most? The President’s core constituencies, that’s who. College students graduated last month and cannot find jobs. Minorities have unemployment rates that are 5 to 10 points higher than the already staggering national average of 9 percent. The poor watch state programs being cut because business activity is sluggish and sales tax revenues are down. Union members see jobs evaporate, and private sector job growth remains almost non-existent. And the President tells us he cares.

If that we the case, he’d forget about “taxing the rich” and growing the debt and take the steps that Michael Pento suggests. He and his surrogates give speeches intended to frighten the most vulnerable so they’ll oppose measures that are not only necessary but crucial for their own long-term interests.

Daniel Henninger comments:
The day before that speech [Obama’s major economic address at GWU in April], all Washington expected Mr. Obama to make a major policy statement about the big deficit-reduction debate then unfolding. Agree or disagree, Paul Ryan's budget released the week before was all about policy. The Republicans were actually offering to take part-ownership of the economy by spending the year in dense discussions about the deficit and spending.

Expectations raised, the president contributed nothing. Instead he dumped ridicule and derision on the Republican leadership seated before him. With that speech, Mr. Obama kicked off his 2012 presidential campaign, and in so doing politicized the economy.

It seems that our President thinks that words are all that matter. But he’s wrong. Solid plans, concrete actions, and presidential leadership are what matter. Where are they?