Obama’s Legacy of Wasteful Spending. Wait until you see the nonsense that government has spent your money on.
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Here is yet another example of civility form the left wing media elite…
Remember how the far left in America has said since the rise of the Tea Party that the right is awash in “violent rhetoric”? What about the proposition to kill the Boy Scouts like one would kill a rabid dog? That is what a columnist for The Atlantic has implied.
James Hamblin, the magazine’s health editor, proclaimed his desire to kill Boy Scouts based on his distaste for their recently re-affirmed policy of refusing to admit openly gay members. Hamblin feels justified in using violent, even hateful rhetoric to attack the Boy Scouts merely because he disagrees with them.
Boy Scouts is an organization that was and is so close to being great. Remember when they had to put Old Yeller down because he got rabies? It’s not like he was a bad dog, but he got a brain infection and he tried to eat Travis
Apparently the First Amendment only applies if you agree with gays?
It should be noted that Hamblin posted his desire to kill Boy Scouts the day after another gay activist tried to do just that, kill people with whom he disagrees. Hamblin posted his hate-mongering screed the day after a gay activist entered the Washington DC headquarters of the Family Research Council intent on mass murder.
Hamblin next went on a hyperbolic trip of accusations that the Scout’s policy will “cause.”
Perpetuating a culture where gay teenagers — who are already commonly battling notions of inferiority and self-hatred — can be openly and decidedly told they aren’t welcome among a preeminent organization that purports to represent and define a standard of behavioral ideals, is dangerous. It’s a decided step back in rejecting the culture of gay bullying. We will see more depression, and more suicide. We’ll see more discrimination of every sort, and more hatred.
But notice the absurdity in Hamblin’s statement. He says that the Scouts “define a standard of behavioral ideals.” But how can one have standards and ideals if one simply pushes them aside for every disgruntled group that comes knocking at your door claiming discrimination? The Boy Scouts aren’t breaking any laws and aren’t illegally discriminating and since the Scouts base their ideals on Christian principles, they have steadfast principles quite regardless of whether Hamblin likes them or not.
Read more HERE.
Niall Ferguson, MA, D.Phil., is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford.
His books include Paper and Iron: Hamburg Business and German Politics in the Era of Inflation 1897-1927 (1993), Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals (1997), The Pity of War: Explaining World War One (1998), The World’s Banker: The History of the House of Rothschild (1998), The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700-2000 (2001), Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power (2003), Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (2004), The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006) and The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World (2008).
Ferguson has written and presented five major television series, including The Ascent of Money, which won the 2009 International Emmy award for Best Documentary. His most recent books are High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg (2010) and Civilization: The West and the Rest, also a major TV documentary series. Civilization will be published in the U.S. on November 1 and will air on PBS in 2012.
See our other Niall Ferguson coverage HERE.
Prof. Niall Ferguson:
Why does Paul Ryan scare the president so much? Because Obama has broken his promises, and it’s clear that the GOP ticket’s path to prosperity is our only hope.
I was a good loser four years ago. “In the grand scheme of history,” I wrote the day after Barack Obama’s election as president, “four decades is not an especially long time. Yet in that brief period America has gone from the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. to the apotheosis of Barack Obama. You would not be human if you failed to acknowledge this as a cause for great rejoicing.”
Despite having been—full disclosure—an adviser to John McCain, I acknowledged his opponent’s remarkable qualities: his soaring oratory, his cool, hard-to-ruffle temperament, and his near faultless campaign organization.
Yet the question confronting the country nearly four years later is not who was the better candidate four years ago. It is whether the winner has delivered on his promises. And the sad truth is that he has not.
In his inaugural address, Obama promised “not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.” He promised to “build the roads and bridges, the electric grids, and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.” He promised to “restore science to its rightful place and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost.” And he promised to “transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.” Unfortunately the president’s scorecard on every single one of those bold pledges is pitiful.
In an unguarded moment earlier this year, the president commented that the private sector of the economy was “doing fine.” Certainly, the stock market is well up (by 74 percent) relative to the close on Inauguration Day 2009. But the total number of private-sector jobs is still 4.3 million below the January 2008 peak. Meanwhile, since 2008, a staggering 3.6 million Americans have been added to Social Security’s disability insurance program. This is one of many ways unemployment is being concealed.
In his fiscal year 2010 budget—the first he presented—the president envisaged growth of 3.2 percent in 2010, 4.0 percent in 2011, 4.6 percent in 2012. The actual numbers were 2.4 percent in 2010 and 1.8 percent in 2011; few forecasters now expect it to be much above 2.3 percent this year.
Unemployment was supposed to be 6 percent by now. It has averaged 8.2 percent this year so far. Meanwhile real median annual household income has dropped more than 5 percent since June 2009. Nearly 110 million individuals received a welfare benefit in 2011, mostly Medicaid or food stamps.
Welcome to Obama’s America: nearly half the population is not represented on a taxable return—almost exactly the same proportion that lives in a household where at least one member receives some type of government benefit. We are becoming the 50–50 nation—half of us paying the taxes, the other half receiving the benefits.
And all this despite a far bigger hike in the federal debt than we were promised. According to the 2010 budget, the debt in public hands was supposed to fall in relation to GDP from 67 percent in 2010 to less than 66 percent this year. If only. By the end of this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), it will reach 70 percent of GDP. These figures significantly understate the debt problem, however. The ratio that matters is debt to revenue. That number has leapt upward from 165 percent in 2008 to 262 percent this year, according to figures from the International Monetary Fund. Among developed economies, only Ireland and Spain have seen a bigger deterioration.
Not only did the initial fiscal stimulus fade after the sugar rush of 2009, but the president has done absolutely nothing to close the long-term gap between spending and revenue.
His much-vaunted health-care reform will not prevent spending on health programs growing from more than 5 percent of GDP today to almost 10 percent in 2037. Add the projected increase in the costs of Social Security and you are looking at a total bill of 16 percent of GDP 25 years from now. That is only slightly less than the average cost of all federal programs and activities, apart from net interest payments, over the past 40 years. Under this president’s policies, the debt is on course to approach 200 percent of GDP in 2037—a mountain of debt that is bound to reduce growth even further.
And even that figure understates the real debt burden. The most recent estimate for the difference between the net present value of federal government liabilities and the net present value of future federal revenues—what economist Larry Kotlikoff calls the true “fiscal gap”—is $222 trillion.
The president’s supporters will, of course, say that the poor performance of the economy can’t be blamed on him. They would rather finger his predecessor, or the economists he picked to advise him, or Wall Street, or Europe—anyone but the man in the White House.
There’s some truth in this. It was pretty hard to foresee what was going to happen to the economy in the years after 2008. Yet surely we can legitimately blame the president for the political mistakes of the past four years. After all, it’s the president’s job to run the executive branch effectively—to lead the nation. And here is where his failure has been greatest.
On paper it looked like an economics dream team: Larry Summers, Christina Romer, and Austan Goolsbee, not to mention Peter Orszag, Tim Geithner, and Paul Volcker. The inside story, however, is that the president was wholly unable to manage the mighty brains—and egos—he had assembled to advise him.
According to Ron Suskind’s book Confidence Men, Summers told Orszag over dinner in May 2009: “You know, Peter, we’re really home alone … I mean it. We’re home alone. There’s no adult in charge. Clinton would never have made these mistakes [of indecisiveness on key economic issues].” On issue after issue, according to Suskind, Summers overruled the president. “You can’t just march in and make that argument and then have him make a decision,” Summers told Orszag, “because he doesn’t know what he’s deciding.” (I have heard similar things said off the record by key participants in the president’s interminable “seminar” on Afghanistan policy.)
This problem extended beyond the White House. After the imperial presidency of the Bush era, there was something more like parliamentary government in the first two years of Obama’s administration. The president proposed; Congress disposed. It was Nancy Pelosi and her cohorts who wrote the stimulus bill and made sure it was stuffed full of political pork. And it was the Democrats in Congress—led by Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank—who devised the 2,319-page Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank, for short), a near-perfect example of excessive complexity in regulation. The act requires that regulators create 243 rules, conduct 67 studies, and issue 22 periodic reports. It eliminates one regulator and creates two new ones.
It is five years since the financial crisis began, but the central problems—excessive financial concentration and excessive financial leverage—have not been addressed.
Today a mere 10 too-big-to-fail financial institutions are responsible for three quarters of total financial assets under management in the United States. Yet the country’s largest banks are at least $50 billion short of meeting new capital requirements under the new “Basel III” accords governing bank capital adequacy.
And then there was health care. No one seriously doubts that the U.S. system needed to be reformed. But the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 did nothing to address the core defects of the system: the long-run explosion of Medicare costs as the baby boomers retire, the “fee for service” model that drives health-care inflation, the link from employment to insurance that explains why so many Americans lack coverage, and the excessive costs of the liability insurance that our doctors need to protect them from our lawyers.
Ironically, the core Obamacare concept of the “individual mandate” (requiring all Americans to buy insurance or face a fine) was something the president himself had opposed when vying with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. A much more accurate term would be “Pelosicare,” since it was she who really forced the bill through Congress.
Pelosicare was not only a political disaster. Polls consistently showed that only a minority of the public liked the ACA, and it was the main reason why Republicans regained control of the House in 2010. It was also another fiscal snafu. The president pledged that health-care reform would not add a cent to the deficit. But the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation now estimate that the insurance-coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net cost of close to $1.2 trillion over the 2012–22 period.
The president just kept ducking the fiscal issue. Having set up a bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, headed by retired Wyoming Republican senator Alan Simpson and former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles, Obama effectively sidelined its recommendations of approximately $3 trillion in cuts and $1 trillion in added revenues over the coming decade. As a result there was no “grand bargain” with the House Republicans—which means that, barring some miracle, the country will hit a fiscal cliff on Jan. 1 as the Bush tax cuts expire and the first of $1.2 trillion of automatic, across-the-board spending cuts are imposed. The CBO estimates the net effect could be a 4 percent reduction in output.
The failures of leadership on economic and fiscal policy over the past four years have had geopolitical consequences. The World Bank expects the U.S. to grow by just 2 percent in 2012. China will grow four times faster than that; India three times faster. By 2017, the International Monetary Fund predicts, the GDP of China will overtake that of the United States.
Meanwhile, the fiscal train wreck has already initiated a process of steep cuts in the defense budget, at a time when it is very far from clear that the world has become a safer place—least of all in the Middle East.
For me the president’s greatest failure has been not to think through the implications of these challenges to American power. Far from developing a coherent strategy, he believed—perhaps encouraged by the premature award of the Nobel Peace Prize—that all he needed to do was to make touchy-feely speeches around the world explaining to foreigners that he was not George W. Bush.
In Tokyo in November 2009, the president gave his boilerplate hug-a-foreigner speech: “In an interconnected world, power does not need to be a zero-sum game, and nations need not fear the success of another … The United States does not seek to contain China … On the contrary, the rise of a strong, prosperous China can be a source of strength for the community of nations.” Yet by fall 2011, this approach had been jettisoned in favor of a “pivot” back to the Pacific, including risible deployments of troops to Australia and Singapore. From the vantage point of Beijing, neither approach had credibility.
His Cairo speech of June 4, 2009, was an especially clumsy bid to ingratiate himself on what proved to be the eve of a regional revolution. “I’m also proud to carry with me,” he told Egyptians, “a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: Assalamu alaikum … I’ve come here … to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based … upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition.”
Believing it was his role to repudiate neoconservatism, Obama completely missed the revolutionary wave of Middle Eastern democracy—precisely the wave the neocons had hoped to trigger with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. When revolution broke out—first in Iran, then in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria—the president faced stark alternatives. He could try to catch the wave by lending his support to the youthful revolutionaries and trying to ride it in a direction advantageous to American interests. Or he could do nothing and let the forces of reaction prevail.
In the case of Iran he did nothing, and the thugs of the Islamic Republic ruthlessly crushed the demonstrations. Ditto Syria. In Libya he was cajoled into intervening. In Egypt he tried to have it both ways, exhorting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to leave, then drawing back and recommending an “orderly transition.” The result was a foreign-policy debacle. Not only were Egypt’s elites appalled by what seemed to them a betrayal, but the victors—the Muslim Brotherhood—had nothing to be grateful for. America’s closest Middle Eastern allies—Israel and the Saudis—looked on in amazement.
“This is what happens when you get caught by surprise,” an anonymous American official told The New York Times in February 2011. “We’ve had endless strategy sessions for the past two years on Mideast peace, on containing Iran. And how many of them factored in the possibility that Egypt moves from stability to turmoil? None.”
Remarkably the president polls relatively strongly on national security. Yet the public mistakes his administration’s astonishingly uninhibited use of political assassination for a coherent strategy. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London, the civilian proportion of drone casualties was 16 percent last year. Ask yourself how the liberal media would have behaved if George W. Bush had used drones this way. Yet somehow it is only ever Republican secretaries of state who are accused of committing “war crimes.”
The real crime is that the assassination program destroys potentially crucial intelligence (as well as antagonizing locals) every time a drone strikes. It symbolizes the administration’s decision to abandon counterinsurgency in favor of a narrow counterterrorism. What that means in practice is the abandonment not only of Iraq but soon of Afghanistan too. Understandably, the men and women who have served there wonder what exactly their sacrifice was for, if any notion that we are nation building has been quietly dumped. Only when both countries sink back into civil war will we realize the real price of Obama’s foreign policy.
America under this president is a superpower in retreat, if not retirement. Small wonder 46 percent of Americans—and 63 percent of Chinese—believe that China already has replaced the U.S. as the world’s leading superpower or eventually will.
It is a sign of just how completely Barack Obama has “lost his narrative” since getting elected that the best case he has yet made for reelection is that Mitt Romney should not be president. In his notorious “you didn’t build that” speech, Obama listed what he considers the greatest achievements of big government: the Internet, the GI Bill, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam, the Apollo moon landing, and even (bizarrely) the creation of the middle class. Sadly, he couldn’t mention anything comparable that his administration has achieved.
Now Obama is going head-to-head with his nemesis: a politician who believes more in content than in form, more in reform than in rhetoric. In the past days much has been written about Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s choice of running mate. I know, like, and admire Paul Ryan. For me, the point about him is simple. He is one of only a handful of politicians in Washington who is truly sincere about addressing this country’s fiscal crisis.
Over the past few years Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” has evolved, but the essential points are clear: replace Medicare with a voucher program for those now under 55 (not current or imminent recipients), turn Medicaid and food stamps into block grants for the states, and—crucially—simplify the tax code and lower tax rates to try to inject some supply-side life back into the U.S. private sector. Ryan is not preaching austerity. He is preaching growth. And though Reagan-era veterans like David Stockman may have their doubts, they underestimate Ryan’s mastery of this subject. There is literally no one in Washington who understands the challenges of fiscal reform better.
Just as importantly, Ryan has learned that politics is the art of the possible. There are parts of his plan that he is understandably soft-pedaling right now—notably the new source of federal revenue referred to in his 2010 “Roadmap for America’s Future” as a “business consumption tax.” Stockman needs to remind himself that the real “fairy-tale budget plans” have been the ones produced by the White House since 2009.
I first met Paul Ryan in April 2010. I had been invited to a dinner in Washington where the U.S. fiscal crisis was going to be the topic of discussion. So crucial did this subject seem to me that I expected the dinner to happen in one of the city’s biggest hotel ballrooms. It was actually held in the host’s home. Three congressmen showed up—a sign of how successful the president’s fiscal version of “don’t ask, don’t tell” (about the debt) had been. Ryan blew me away. I have wanted to see him in the White House ever since.
It remains to be seen if the American public is ready to embrace the radical overhaul of the nation’s finances that Ryan proposes. The public mood is deeply ambivalent. The president’s approval rating is down to 49 percent. The Gallup Economic Confidence Index is at minus 28 (down from minus 13 in May). But Obama is still narrowly ahead of Romney in the polls as far as the popular vote is concerned (50.8 to 48.2) and comfortably ahead in the Electoral College. The pollsters say that Paul Ryan’s nomination is not a game changer; indeed, he is a high-risk choice for Romney because so many people feel nervous about the reforms Ryan proposes.
Mitt Romney is not the best candidate for the presidency I can imagine. But he was clearly the best of the Republican contenders for the nomination. He brings to the presidency precisely the kind of experience—both in the business world and in executive office—that Barack Obama manifestly lacked four years ago. (If only Obama had worked at Bain Capital for a few years, instead of as a community organizer in Chicago, he might understand exactly why the private sector is not “doing fine” right now.) And by picking Ryan as his running mate, Romney has given the first real sign that—unlike Obama—he is a courageous leader who will not duck the challenges America faces.
The voters now face a stark choice. They can let Barack Obama’s rambling, solipsistic narrative continue until they find themselves living in some American version of Europe, with low growth, high unemployment, even higher debt—and real geopolitical decline.
Or they can opt for real change: the kind of change that will end four years of economic underperformance, stop the terrifying accumulation of debt, and reestablish a secure fiscal foundation for American national security.
I’ve said it before: it’s a choice between les États Unis and the Republic of the Battle Hymn.
I was a good loser four years ago. But this year, fired up by the rise of Ryan, I want badly to win.
So of course, leftist bloggers had a cow, tried to get Prof. Ferguson fired etc, all without actually responding to his core arguments. They try to nitpick and vilify. The tactics of the far left have not changed in decades. They are in fact, laughable.
Prof Ferguson responds:
“We know no spectacle so ridiculous,” Lord Macaulay famously wrote, “as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality.” But the spectacle of the American liberal blogosphere in one of its almost daily fits of righteous indignation is not so much ridiculous as faintly sinister. Why? Because what I have encountered since the publication of my Newsweek article criticizing President Obama looks suspiciously like an orchestrated attempt to discredit me.
My critics have three things in common. First, they wholly fail to respond to the central arguments of the piece. Second, they claim to be engaged in “fact checking,” whereas in nearly all cases they are merely offering alternative (often silly or skewed) interpretations of the facts. Third, they adopt a tone of outrage that would be appropriate only if I had argued that, say, women’s bodies can somehow prevent pregnancies in case of “legitimate rape.”
Their approach is highly effective, and I must remember it if I ever decide to organize an intellectual witch hunt. What makes it so irksome is that it simultaneously dodges the central thesis of my piece and at the same time seeks to brand me as a liar. The icing on the cake has been the attempt by some bloggers to demand that I be sacked not just by Newsweek but also by Harvard University, where I am a tenured professor. It is especially piquant to read these demands from people who would presumably defend academic freedom in the last ditch—provided it is the freedom to publish opinions in line with their own ideology.
Let me begin by restating my argument. President Obama should be judged on his record in office. In my view, he has not only failed to live up to the high expectations of those who voted for him, but also to the pledges he made in his inaugural address. (In order to be fair, I deliberately did not judge his performance against his campaign pledges.) The economy has performed less well than the White House led us to expect, despite a bigger increase in national debt than it led us to expect (exhibit 1).
1. FY2010 Budget and Outcomes / Latest Projections
Note, however, that I cut the president some slack on the economy. He inherited a bigger mess than most people appreciated back in November 2008. And forces beyond his control (Europe) have clearly dampened the recovery. Here’s what I wrote:
It was pretty hard to foresee what was going to happen to the economy in the years after 2008. Yet surely we can legitimately blame the president for the political mistakes of the past four years. After all, it’s the president’s job to run the executive branch effectively—to lead the nation. And here is where his failure has been greatest.
Notice, then, that my central critique of the president is not that the economy has underperformed, but that he has not been an effective leader of the executive branch. I go on to detail his well-documented difficulties in managing his team of economic advisers and his disastrous decision to leave it to his own party in Congress to define the terms of his stimulus, financial reform, and health-care reform. I also argue that he has consistently failed to address the crucial issue of long-term fiscal balance, with the result that the nation is now hurtling toward a fiscal cliff of tax hikes and drastic spending cuts.
The second part of my argument is that these failures of domestic leadership have fed into a failure of foreign policy. As commander in chief, President Obama has earned a relatively strong public reputation mainly thanks to a campaign of assassination that liberal bloggers would have excoriated if it had been conducted by his predecessor. His withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan will, in my view, prove to have been premature. More importantly, he has been indecisive in his responses to the revolutionary wave that has swept the Middle East since the Iranian “green” revolution of 2009. And, finally, he has been inconsistent and ineffective in his handling of the major strategic challenge of our times, the rise of China. (By the way, I base these judgments on a great many off-the-record conversations with influential policy-makers here and abroad. When a very senior military man asks you: “Have we any global strategy beyond just trying to hang on?,” you have a right to wonder if the answer might be “No.”)
I concluded by arguing that, for all these reasons, voters would be better advised to vote for Mitt Romney, especially now that he has picked Paul Ryan as his running mate. (Repeat disclosure: I made it clear in the piece that I was a John McCain supporter four years ago and am a friend of Ryan’s.)
So much for my argument, which not one of my critics has addressed. Instead, they have unleashed a storm of nit-picking and vilification. Well, let’s start with the nits.
I have already dealt with Paul Krugman’s opening salvo on the effects of the Affordable Care Act on the deficit. The point (still not grasped by Andrew Sullivan, who thinks I was just talking about the gross costs) is that the net effect of ACA on the deficit is not positive if you look at the likely costs and the likely revenues from the tax hikes that will finance it. To get to the Congressional Budget Office’s conclusion that, over 10 years, the ACA will reduce the deficit, you need to believe that the act will half the rate of growth of Medicare costs. I am not inclined to be optimistic about that.
Incidentally, while we are on the subject of the CBO’s projections, since March 2010 it has already increased its estimate of the gross costs over 10 years from $944 billion to $1,856 billion, its estimate of total revenue from $631 billion to $1,221 billion, and its estimate of total Medicare cuts from $454 billion to $743 billion. This really is a fast-moving target.
But the clincher is the CBO’s latest long-run budget forecast, according to which total federal government expenditure on health care is projected to rise from 4.9 percent of GDP this year to between 13.8 and 15.1 percent in 75 years’ time (see exhibit 2). The two scenarios the CBO presents imply either a massive tax hike, taking federal revenues from 15.8 to 29.8 percent of GDP, or a massive rise in the debt, to above 250 percent of GDP.
2. Health-Care Spending Projections
Matthew O’Brien followed up Krugman with “A Full Fact-Check.” Actually, this isn’t actually a fact check because O’Brien doesn’t successfully identify a single error. He just offers his own opinions.
Let’s take all 11 of them one by one. (It’s boring, I know, but necessary.)
1. NF: The total number of private-sector jobs is still 4.3 million below the January 2008 peak.
MO’B: The private sector has actually added jobs since Obama was sworn in.
Both these statements are true. I picked the high point of January 2008 because it seems to me reasonable to ask how much of the ground lost in the crisis have we actually made up under Obama. The answer is not much. You may not like that, but it’s a fact (exhibit 3).
3. Total Private Employment From the Current Employment Statistics Survey (National)
2. NF: Meanwhile real median annual household income has dropped more than 5 percent since June 2009.
MO’B: I can’t replicate this result. It’s difficult, because Ferguson does not cite his source.
Well, either Newsweek starts publishing footnotes or Matthew O’Brien reads a little more widely than just official statistics, which generally lag months behind. The monthly data for Median Household Income Index (HII) is produced by Sentier (exhibit 4).
4. Real Median Household Income, 2000–2012
3. NF: Nearly half the population is not represented on a taxable return–—almost exactly the same proportion that lives in a household where at least one member receives some type of government benefit.
MO’B: It is true that 46 percent of households did not pay federal income tax in 2011.
In other words, my fact is true. Because I specifically said “taxable return.” You don’t tend to record your sales tax payments on those.
4. NF: By the end of this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), [debt-to-GDP ratio] will reach 70 percent of GDP. These figures significantly understate the debt problem, however. The ratio that matters is debt to revenue. That number has leapt upward from 165 percent in 2008 to 262 percent this year, according to figures from the International Monetary Fund.
MO’B: This is incorrect. Ferguson had it right the first time—the number that matters is debt-to-GDP, not debt-to-revenue. The former reflects our capacity to pay; the latter our willingness to pay right now.
Again, O’Brien is offering here an opinion as a fact. He should read my book The Cash Nexus (2001) to understand why he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Governments don’t pay interest and redemption with GDP but with tax revenues. If it were easy to increase the tax share of GDP, we wouldn’t be heading for a fiscal cliff. My numbers are correct and can be checked using the IMF’s World Economic Outlook online database.
5. NF: Not only did the initial fiscal stimulus fade after the sugar rush of 2009, but the president has done absolutely nothing to close the long-term gap between spending and revenue.
MO’B: Ferguson wasn’t always a critic of the stimulus. Back in August 2009, he wrote that “the stimulus clearly made a significant contribution to stabilizing the U.S. economy.”
This earlier statement does not contradict my article. As anyone who looks at the data knows, the stimulus had a positive but very short-run impact and failed to achieve self-sustaining growth in the way Keynesians hoped (exhibit 5).
6. NF: The most recent estimate for the difference between the net present value of federal government liabilities and the net present value of future federal revenues—what economist Larry Kotlikoff calls the true “fiscal gap”—-is $222 trillion.
MO’B: That’s a lot of trillions! But if our fiscal gap is “really” this many trillions, why can we borrow for 30 years for a real rate of 0.64 percent? It’s because this number is meaningless.
Well, O’Brien is welcome to share his opinion with Larry Kotlikoff, the world’s leading authority on generational accounting and long-term fiscal stability. What he can’t claim is that my statement is factually inaccurate. As for the argument that current low borrowing costs mean we don’t need to worry about the debt—which is like saying that mortgage default rates in 2006 meant we didn’t need to worry about subprime—that has been comprehensively demolished in a new paper by Carmen and Vincent Reinhart and Ken Rogoff.
7. NF: The country’s largest banks are at least $50 billion short of meeting new capital requirements under the new ‘Basel III’ accords governing bank capital adequacy.
MO’B: This would be damning if we had already fully implemented the Basel III bank rules. We have not.
But I didn’t say that we had already implemented Basel III. So that’s another fact “checked” and found to be … correct.
8. NF: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 did nothing to address the core defects of the system: the long-run explosion of Medicare costs as the baby boomers retire, the “fee for service” model that drives health-care inflation, the link from employment to insurance that explains why so many Americans lack coverage, and the excessive costs of the liability insurance that our doctors need to protect them from our lawyers.
MO’B: There are reasons to think the ACA will fail to address the core defects of the health care system. But it’s wrong to say it does nothing to address them. Here’s a partial list of the things Obamacare does. It tackles the long-run explosion of Medicare costs. It tries to move away from the fee-for-service model that drives healthcare inflation. And it cuts the link between employment and insurance.
Now let’s check O’Brien’s facts. So the ACA “tackles the long-run explosion of Medicare costs.” Right. That’s why the net cost of Medicare is still projected by the CBO to treble from 3.2 percent of GDP to between 9 and 10 percent by 2087.
9. NF: Having set up a bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, headed by retired Wyoming Republican senator Alan Simpson and former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles, Obama effectively sidelined its recommendations of approximately $3 trillion in cuts and $1 trillion in added revenues over the coming decade. As a result there was no “grand bargain” with the House Republicans—which means that, barring some miracle, the country will hit a fiscal cliff on Jan. 1 …
MO’B: Now, Obama did not push Congress to adopt Simpson-Bowles, but neither did Congress adopt it.
So that’s another fact “checked” and found to be correct. And if you want to gauge the president’s share of the responsibility for the failure of a fiscal grand bargain, read Matt Bai in The New York Times.
10. NF: The World Bank expects the U.S. to grow by just 2 percent in 2012. China will grow four times faster than that; India three times faster. By 2017 the International Monetary Fund predicts, the GDP of China will overtake that of the United States.
MO’B: China has 1.3 billion people. The United States has 300 million people. China’s GDP will pass ours when they are only four times poorer than us. That might happen in 2017; it might happen later … It doesn’t really matter if and when this happens. There’s nothing Obama can do to prevent China from catching up—nor should Obama want to!
Well, there you have it. It “doesn’t really matter” that for the first time since the 1880s the United States is about to cease being the world’s largest economy. Fact checked, found to be correct, and countered with an utterly naive opinion.
11. NF: In his notorious “you didn’t build that” speech, Obama listed what he considers the greatest achievements of big government: the Internet, the GI Bill, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam, the Apollo moon landing, and even (bizarrely) the creation of the middle class. Sadly, he couldn’t mention anything comparable that his administration has achieved.
MO’B: It’s bizarre that Ferguson thinks government policies didn’t help create America’s middle class. America was the first country to make high school compulsory.
Fact checked and—oh no! I really did get that wrong. It was the government that created the middle class, as well as the Golden Gate Bridge! Remind me to tell Karl Marx about this. It will come as news to him that, contrary to his life’s work, the superstructure in fact created the base. (Come to think of it, this is going to come as shock to a lot of American liberals too. Imagine! The state actually created the bourgeoisie! Who knew?)
Now, we come to the third part of the strategy. First, duck the argument. Second, nitpick. Third, vilify.
First prize goes to Berkeley professor Brad DeLong, whose blog opened with the headline “Fire-His-Ass-Now.” “He lied,” rants DeLong. “Convene a committee at Harvard to examine whether he has the moral character to teach at a university.” My own counter-suggestion would be to convene a committee at Berkeley to examine whether or not Professor DeLong is spending too much of his time blogging when he really should be conducting serious research or teaching his students. For example, why hasn’t Professor DeLong published that economic history of the 20th century he’s been promising for the past six years? It can’t be writer’s block, that’s for sure.
Runner up is James Fallows of The Atlantic for his hilariously pompous post “As a Harvard Alum, I Apologize.” Well, as an Oxford alum, I laugh.
In third place comes Krugman with his charge of “unethical commentary … a plain misrepresentation of the facts” requiring “an abject correction.” The idea of getting a lesson from Paul Krugman about the ethics of commentary is almost as funny as Fallows’s apologizing on behalf of Harvard. Both these paragons of the commentariat, by the way, shamelessly accused me of racism three years ago when I drew an innocent parallel between President Obama and “Felix the Cat.” I don’t know of many more unethical tricks than to brand someone who criticizes the president a racist.
And, finally, a consolation prize for righteous indignation goes to Dylan Byers of Politico (“ridiculous, misleading, ethically questionable”).
I could, of course, go on. By tonight there will doubtless be more. The art of the modern witch hunt is to get as many like-minded bloggers as possible to repeat and preferably exaggerate the claims until finally it becomes received opinion that you are on the brink of being fired and indeed deported in chains.
I don’t usually waste time on this kind of thing. In the Internet age, you can spend one week writing a piece and the next three responding to criticism, most of it (as we have seen) worthless.
But there comes a point when you have to ask yourself: has the American public sphere so degenerated that it is now impossible to make the case for a change of president without being set upon in cyberspace by a suspiciously well-organized gang of the current incumbent’s most ideologically committed supporters?
Famed New Zealander Trevor Louden on tour to warn Americans about Obama.
This is what government is all about. Forget roads, mass murder through warfare, or locking people up for their consumption choices: it’s making sure that no one gives out water without a permit.
This is from last week but I believe un-noted here: ABC-TV 15 from Phoenix reports that local Christian proselytizer Dana Crow-Smith was ordered by a “Neighborhood Preservation Inspector” to stop giving out free bottled water last month because she lacked a vending permit, though she was not vending.
She is threatening to sue the city with help from the Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties group with a focus on religious liberties, if the city doesn’t apologize and swear to train its enforcement officers to not make the same mistake again.
The Institute’s letter of complaint to the city.
ABC’s Mark Halperin: Media pretty much does what Obama Campaign wants…
According to a brand new book already striking fear in the hearts of public sector union bosses, America’s government workers may be the only men and women in the country still blessing their lucky stars for President Obama. Mallory Factor’s Shadowbosses: Government Unions Control America and Rob Taxpayers Blind claims that government employees make more money, work less, retire earlier, have greater job security, and have more retirement security than their private sector counterparts. No wonder Washington D.C. is getting rich while the rest of America suffers.
Here’s the bottom line, according to Shadowbosses: government service is now more lucrative than the private sector. Federal government workers reportedly averaged more than twice the salary and benefits of an average private sector worker. Even more unbelievably, there are fully 459,016 federal workers who make over $100,000 in salary – one in five federal workers.
They earn like that because many of them are members of public sector unions. And those unions work hand in glove with politicians – particularly Democratic politicians like Barack Obama – to ensure friendly people on the other side of the bargaining table. The corrupt cycle works like this: Democratic politicians negotiate rich wages and benefits for union members with taxpayer cash; the union members then pay union dues; the unions use that money to re-elect the Democratic politicians. Everybody wins, except the taxpayers.
When they are among friends the truth comes out…..
Via the Daily Caller:
Former Amalgamated Transit Union local 689 president Mike Golash, now an “Occupy” movement organizer, was caught on tape Sunday revealing his political goals: overthrowing capitalism in the United States and instituting a communist government.
“Progressive labor is a revolutionary communist organization,” Golash said during an Occupy DC “People’s Assembly” on August 19.
“Its objective,” he added, “is to make revolution in the United States, overthrow the capitalist system and build communism.”
Golash said he and his comrades are “trying to learn something from the historical revolutions of the past: the Russian revolution, the Chinese revolution, the revolutions in Cuba and Eastern Europe.”
“What can we learn from them so we can build a more successful movement to transform capitalist society?”
This writer said this from the beginning (see my old college blog), so did Sarah Palin, so did Newt Gingrich, and as I recall do did the Legal Insurrection blog.
News Anchor Chris Wallace: “That is the argument that the Obama campaign makes – that the $716 billion is all in cuts to providers and insurance companies and it will have no effect on benefits or services to the beneficiaries. Let me ask my question. Medicare’s own actuary, own actuary of Medicare – not of the Romney campaign – says that is impossible. That you can’t have the same services for $716 billion less. And let’s put up some of what the Medicare actuary says. They say that 15 percent of Medicare providers will be unprofitable by 2019. 25 percent of Medicare providers will be unprofitable by 2030. And the Medicare actuary concludes – this is his quote – in practice Medicare providers could not sustain continued negative margins and, absent legislative changes, would have to withdraw – withdraw – from providing services to Medicare beneficiaries, merge with other provider groups or shift substantial portions of the Medicare costs it to their non-Medicare non-Medicaid providers. In other words, according to the actuary, Medicare patients, millions of them will lose access to Medicare benefits.”
Former Obama Press Sec. Robert Gibbs: “If Medicare companies that are involved in the program continue doing what they are doing, which is inefficient.”
Wallace: “Wait a minute. The actuary says, in practice, Medicare providers could not sustain continuing negative margins.”
Gibbs: “If Medicare providers continue to do what we are doing. Right now, under the old program, Chris, if a senior got readmitted over and over and over to the hospital for the same illness, they got paid every single time the senior got admitted into the hospital. Why not strengthen the benefit by adding preventive health care to it and trying to ensure that the patient gets accountable care and treated before they get that disease.”
Wallace: “If the providers don’t do it, then what happens is, under your plan, this unelected board, 15 bureaucrats come in and they decide what, well, you are laughing at it but that is it. The IPAB.”
Gibbs: “I guess I am laughing at your characterization of it.”
Wallace: “Are they an elected board?”
Gibbs: “They are medical professionals, they are people we trust to make medical decisions.”
Wallace: “Are they elected by anybody? They are an unaccountable unelected board that comes in and will make decisions on what the providers and what hospitals have to do and Congress either has to vote it all up or all down.”
New Mitt Romney Ad Hits Obama for Reversing the Clinton/Gingrich Welfare Reforms
Of course it is illegal for the Army to participate in law enforcement, but since when do laws like the Posse Comitatus Act matter to far left oligarchs bent on a radicalized agenda?
In this scenario the TEA Party comes into a town, occupies it without paying for permits, etc, and takes over parts of the town illegally, while ignoring the requests from law enforcement. Now wait a minute, who behaves this way? Oh that’s right, the Obama endorsed Occupy Wall Street movement that has resulted in dozens of rapes, several deaths, arrests measured in the thousands, organized efforts to resist, even with violence – law enforcement, mass vandalism, threats etc. But it is the TEA Party folks who show up with cute signs and flags, and always clean up after themselves that are the problem.
PJTV’s Trifecta and reporter Anthony Martin respond:
A retired U.S. Army colonel who now teaches modern warfare to soldiers at the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. has co-written an article with a Civil War expert that has ignited a firestorm today among those increasingly concerned about what some say is a distinct anti-civilian tone that has infected much of the military and Homeland Security since 2009.
Retired Col. Kevin Benson and Jennifer Weber, Associate Professor of History at the University of Kansas, co-wrote an article for Small Wars Journal on a 2010 Army report titled, “U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, The Army Operating Concept 2016 – 2028.”
The report describes how the Army will respond to threats “at home and abroad” in the coming two decades and in doing so has made clear that a monumental cultural shift has occurred in the thinking of those at the top levels of military command. This shift has some government watchdogs worried, particularly given that Benson is using the platform provided at Fort Leavenworth to educate military personnel in his vision of the nature of modern warfare in America. According to the vision articulated by Benson, future warfare will be conducted on our own soil. The military will use its full force against our own citizens. The enemy will be average citizens whose values resonate with those articulated by the tea party.
The fictitious scenario used in the Army report as a teaching tool is a future insurrection of “tea party activists” in South Carolina. As the scenario goes, the tea party group stages a takeover of the town of Darlington, S.C. The mayor is placed under house arrest and prevented from exercising his duties. The police chief, the county sheriff, and other law enforcement officials are removed from office and told not to interfere. The city council is dissolved. The governor of the state, who had previously expressed solidarity with tea party goals, does little to address the situation.
A news conference is called by the new town leaders, all tea party activists, who tell the media that due to the failure of central government to address the concerns of the citizens, the Declaration of Independence has been re-imposed and the local government has been declared null and void.
Several items of interest are to be noted in the scenario the Army uses to describe the tea party activists — “right wing,” “extremists,” “insurrectionists,” all of whom are lumped together with militias and organizations that are considered “racist” and “anti-immigration.”
By contrast, those who oppose the tea party are referred to as “mainstream.”
The obvious question that arises is why would this sort of scenario, with its obviously biased and skewed portrayals, be presented as a teaching tool to military personnel? Why would the U.S. military consider the tea party to be “extremist” or “insurrectionist?” And why would the tea party be classified together with groups that are “racist, “anti-immigration,” and “extremist right wing?”
In the numerous tea party rallies that have occurred across the nation no racism was noted by any observer. Speakers included persons of all races and ethnic backgrounds. No sentiment was expressed against legal immigration but outrage was directed toward those break the law and enter the country by illegal means. And the charge that the tea party is extremist right wing is difficult to justify given that the main thrust of the movement is the protest against runaway government spending that has placed the nation on the brink of economic ruin due to its enormous and unsustainable debt.
Yet repeatedly since the election of Barack Obama in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has referred to the tea party as “potential homegrown terrorists.“
More from Anthony Martin:
…the military under the Obama administration has made sure that the words “Jihad” and “Islamic” are deleted from all official documents concerning very real threats to the safety and security of citizens. The administration went out of its way, for example, to avoid referring to the Fort Hood terrorist as an “Islamic extremist.”
Yet when describing the frightening possibility that a U.S. city could be seized by an insurgency group, its mayor, police chief, and city council removed from office and placed under house arrest, the Army chooses to use the tea party, not an Occupy Wall Street nor a radical Islamist entity, as the insurgency group in the teaching tool.
When former U.S. Rep. Gabriella Giffords, D-Ariz., was shot along with others in the infamous Tucson massacre of 2011, the Obama administration, the mainstream media, and liberal activists were quick to blame the tea party, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Mark Levin for using “hateful rhetoric” that leads unstable persons such as the Tucson shooter to undertake such violent measures.
Yet none of the those mentioned as the sources for the hateful rhetoric have ever called for violence against anyone.
Several who posted comments on the PJTV video stated that they had attended Benson’s workshop and that each time someone would point out the threat posed by groups such as Islamic extremists, or the Occupy movement, workshop leaders would turn their comments around to continue the established scenario that ordinary citizens are the ones who pose the threat due to their hysteria over Islam and liberal insurrectionist groups.
Yet the ones who routinely call for violence against those who steadfastly resist their collectivist plans are the liberals in academia, government, the media, and left wing activist groups.
Time Magazine’s Joe Klein once accused conservatives shortly after the 2008 election that they were guilty of “sedition” and implied that sedition laws should be resurrected so that conservatives who resist the program being implemented by Barack Obama could be rounded up and jailed. Pamela Geller of the blog Atlas Shrugs has received countless death threats for merely reporting the facts on the activities of extremist Islamists. The Muslim Brotherhood stated recently that America will be “brought to its knees.” Liberal commentators on various web sites have routinely called for the deaths of conservatives such as Dick Cheney and Michelle Malkin, and when former Fox News commentator Tony Snow was diagnosed with cancer, left wing hysterics stated that they hoped he would die a slow, painful death.
But these examples are only the tip of the iceberg. President Barack Obama stated in 2008 during the presidential campaign, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” Obama’s friend and political ally Bill Ayers called for young people to kill their parents when he launched the very first “occupy” movement in Chicago in 1969. Ayers is also on record as stating that he supports the killing of tens of millions of conservatives unless they agree to be reeducated in his extremist liberal agenda.
Ayers and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn, have often stated that they have not changed their views at all since the 1960s and wish they had done much more to advance their agenda.
In addition, the Communist-Socialist-Marxist ideology is singularly responsible for the deaths of over 100 million people during the 20th century alone. Stalin murdered at least 20 million Russians. Chairman Mao murdered at least 65 million Chinese. Fidel Castro along with his henchman Che Guevara murdered hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans, a figure that many say is much too low. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge murdered at least 5 million Cambodians and Southeast Asians after the Viet Nam War.
An in-depth study conducted by a University of Texas professor in 1997 for the National Center for Policy Analysis places the figures cited above much higher.
This isn’t enough, but it is a good start:
* Corporation for Public Broadcasting Subsidy — $445 million annual savings.
* Save America’s Treasures Program — $25 million annual savings.
* International Fund for Ireland — $17 million annual savings.
* Legal Services Corporation — $420 million annual savings.
* National Endowment for the Arts — $167.5 million annual savings.
* National Endowment for the Humanities — $167.5 million annual savings.
* Hope VI Program — $250 million annual savings.
* Amtrak Subsidies — $1.565 billion annual savings.
* Eliminate duplicating education programs — H.R. 2274 (in last Congress), authored by Rep. McKeon, eliminates 68 at a savings of $1.3 billion annually.
* U.S. Trade Development Agency — $55 million annual savings.
* Woodrow Wilson Center Subsidy — $20 million annual savings.
* Cut in half funding for congressional printing and binding — $47 million annual savings.
* John C. Stennis Center Subsidy — $430,000 annual savings.
* Community Development Fund — $4.5 billion annual savings.
* Heritage Area Grants and Statutory Aid — $24 million annual savings.
* Cut Federal Travel Budget in Half — $7.5 billion annual savings
* Trim Federal Vehicle Budget by 20% — $600 million annual savings.
* Essential Air Service — $150 million annual savings.
* Technology Innovation Program — $70 million annual savings.
* Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program — $125 million annual savings.
* Department of Energy Grants to States for Weatherization — $530 million annual savings.
* Beach Replenishment — $95 million annual savings.
* New Starts Transit — $2 billion annual savings.
* Exchange Programs for Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Their Historical Trading Partners in Massachusetts — $9 million annual savings
* Intercity and High Speed Rail Grants — $2.5 billion annual savings.
* Title X Family Planning — $318 million annual savings.
* Appalachian Regional Commission — $76 million annual savings.
* Economic Development Administration — $293 million annual savings.
* Programs under the National and Community Services Act — $1.15 billion annual savings.
* Applied Research at Department of Energy — $1.27 billion annual savings.
* Freedom CAR and Fuel Partnership — $200 million annual savings.
* Energy Star Program — $52 million annual savings.
* Economic Assistance to Egypt — $250 million annually.
* U.S. Agency for International Development — $1.39 billion annual savings.
* General Assistance to District of Columbia — $210 million annual savings.
* Subsidy for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority — $150 million annual savings.
* Presidential Campaign Fund — $775 million savings over ten years.
* No funding for federal office space acquisition — $864 million annual savings.
* End prohibitions on competitive sourcing of government services.
* Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act — More than $1 billion annually.
* IRS Direct Deposit: Require the IRS to deposit fees for some services it offers (such as processing payment plans for taxpayers) to the Treasury, instead of allowing it to remain as part of its budget — $1.8 billion savings over ten years.
* Require collection of unpaid taxes by federal employees — $1 billion total savings. WHAT THE HELL IS THISABOUT?
* Prohibit taxpayer funded union activities by federal employees — $1.2 billion savings over ten years.
* Sell excess federal properties the government does not make use of — $15 billion total savings.
* Eliminate death gratuity for Members of Congress.
* Eliminate Mohair Subsidies — $1 million annual savings.
* Eliminate taxpayer subsidies to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — $12.5 million annual savings WELL ISN’T THAT SPECIAL
* Eliminate Market Access Program — $200 million annual savings.
* USDA Sugar Program — $14 million annual savings.
* Subsidy to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) — $93 million annual savings.
* Eliminate the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program — $56.2 million annual savings.
* Eliminate fund for Obamacare administrative costs — $900 million savings.
* Ready to Learn TV Program — $27 million savings.. WHY?????
* HUD Ph.D. Program.
* Deficit Reduction Check-Off Act.
* TOTAL SAVINGS: $2.5 Trillion over Ten Years
Government picking winners and losers and getting kickbacks in what has become “Greenscam”, an effort to funnel tax dollars into far left eco-extremists groups and the Democratic Party – LINK.
Read carefully – Marita Noon:
“Once real numbers have come out about renewable energy costs, people are having second thoughts,” reported Maureen Masten, Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources and Senior Advisor on Energy to Governor Bob McDonnell, VA, while addressing his “all of the above energy” strategy to meet the state’s energy needs.
The real costs of renewable energy are coming out—both in dollars and daily impacts. After years of hearing about “free” energy from the sun and wind, people are discovering that they’ve been lied to.
On Tuesday, August 14, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) approved a new renewable energy rate rider that will allow the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) to start recovering a portion of its recent development costs for building five solar facilities around the state, a pilot solar facility with battery storage, and wind resource procurements. The renewable rider could be on ratepayers’ bills by the end of the month—“depending on when the commission publishes its final order,” said PNM spokeswoman Susan Spooner.
The rate rider currently represents about a $1.34 increase for an average residence using 600 kilowatt hours of electricity per month—or a little more than $16 per year. This increase seems miniscule until you realize that this is only a small part of increases to come. PNM needs to recover $18.29 million in renewable expenditures in 2012 and the rate rider only addresses monies spent in the last four to five months. The remaining expense will be carried into 2013.
Like more than half of the states in the US, New Mexico has a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that mandates public utilities have set percentages of their electricity from renewable sources. In New Mexico the mandate is 10 percent this year, 15 percent by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020. Most states—with the exception of California (which is 33 percent by 2020)—have similar benchmarks. To meet the mandates, PNM will need considerably more renewable energy with dramatically more expense—all of which ultimately gets passed on to the customer. PNM acknowledges that the rider will increase next year and predicts the total cost recovery for 2013 to be about $23 million. By 2020, based on the current numbers of approximately $20 million a year invested, resulting in a $24 a year increase, consumers’ bills will go up about $200 a year just for the additional cost of inefficient renewable energy.
Had the PRC not approved the special rate rider, costs would be even higher. Typically rate increases are only approved at periodic rate case hearings, usually held every few years. The system of only allowing rate increases after a lengthy hearing, keeps the costs hidden from the consumer for longer but increases costs to the utility and, ultimately, the consumer, due to interest charges on the borrowed money. PNM believes the rider will allow for more “timely recovery of costs,” resulting in a $2.7 million savings.
Environmental groups, who’ve been pushing for the renewable energy increases, opposed the special renewable rate rider and have threatened a potential appeal of the PRC’s decision. It is hard to tout “free” energy when there is a special line on the utility bill that clearly points out the new charge for renewables.
So, renewable electricity is hardly free. It also isn’t there when you need it—like in the predictable summer heat of California.
To meet their 33 percent renewable mandate, California’s utility companies, like New Mexico, have been installing commercial renewable electricity facilities—with wind capable of providing about 6 percent, and solar 2 percent, of the state’s electric demand. But in the summer heat, the wind doesn’t blow much and the solar capacity drops by about 50 percent when the demand is the highest.
Despite increasing renewable capacity and an exodus of the population, California has been facing threats of rolling brown/blackouts due to potential shortages. TV and radio ads blanket the air waves begging consumers to limit electricity usage by setting their air conditioners at 78 degrees and using household appliances only after 6PM. “Flex Alerts” have been issued stating: “conservation remains critical.” “Consumers are urged to reduce energy use,” “California ISO balances high demand for electricity with tight power supplies” and “maintain grid reliability.”
Even with expedited permitting, California cannot build renewable electricity generation fast enough. Environmentalists block construction due to species habitat, such as that of the desert tortoise or the kit fox. If they oppose renewable energy construction, you can imagine the vitriol they extend toward coal, natural gas, and nuclear. There is a big push to shut down nuclear power plants and new natural-gas plants, which are ideal for meeting the needs of “peak demand,”are fought by the very same groups that are pushing electric cars.
San Diego-based, nationally syndicated radio talk show host Roger Hedgecock observed: “Right at the moment in California, building new electricity generating power plants of any kind is politically taboo. Electricity itself is becoming politically taboo.”
Texas has been faced with both increasing costs and fears of shortages. “Concerned about adequate electricity supplies,” the Texas Public Utility Commission recently voted to allow electricity generators to charge up to 50 percent more for wholesale power. The increase is to encourage the building of new power plants in the state with the highest capacity in the country for wind electricity generation.
Apparently new electricity-generating power plants are politically taboo in Texas, too—at least within the environmental community. Instead of encouraging new power plants to be built, Ken Kramer, the Texas head of the Sierra Club, said, “A better idea would be to encourage more energy-saving programs”—perhaps like setting the thermostat to 78 degrees and not turning on appliances until after 6PM.
When will Americans revolt over being forced to use less while paying more?
We know that high energy prices are just the beginning of inflation that raises the cost of everything from food to clothing to manufactured goods. When the cost of manufacturing goes up, industry moves to countries with lower-priced energy, cheaper labor, and more reasonable regulations. Jobs go overseas and we import more. The trade deficit grows, and America is less competitive.
The higher electricity costs are 100 percent due to government regulation and legislation that are unreasonably crushing American businesses and ratepayers—much like the pressure England imposed on the American colonies that launched the American Revolution.
US seizes $150M in Hezbollah-linked funds
US authorities freeze funds wired by Beirut-based Lebanese Canadian Bank; say banking institution ‘plays key role in facilitating money laundering for Hezbollah’
US authorities on Monday announced the seizure of $150 million allegedly linked to a scheme by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to launder proceeds from drug trafficking and other crimes.
The money came from a US bank account used by the Beirut-based Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB) to conduct US currency transactions, US Attorney Preet Bharara and US Drug Enforcement Administration chief Michele Leonhart said.
Washington considers the Shiite militant group a terrorist organization.
“As we alleged last year, the Lebanese Canadian Bank played a key role in facilitating money laundering for Hezbollah controlled organizations across the globe,” Leonhart said in a statement.
A December 2011 money laundering and forfeiture complaint filed in US federal court in New York targeted the Lebanese Canadian Bank and two other Lebanese financial institutions with alleged ties to Hezbollah.
US prosecutors then alleged that the LCB, the Hassan Ayash Exchange Company and Ellissa Holding wired funds from Lebanon to the United States to buy used cars, which were then sent to West Africa.
“Cash from the sale of the cars, along with proceeds of narcotics trafficking, were then funneled to Lebanon through Hezbollah-controlled money laundering channels,” the US Attorney’s office said at the time.
This is one of the big problems I have with the progressive secular left; if you read their heroes from Lenin, Walter Lippmann, almost anyone from the Frankfurt School, Antonio Gramsci, Max Weber, Saul Alinsky etc, they all advocate deception as a legitimate political tactic.
Leftism assumes that people cannot govern themselves and that freedom leaves too much to chance, and therefore the rabble must have rationality imposed upon them from above, preferably by incrementalism, but eventually by force if need be. All forms of leftism, from liberalism, progressivism, socialism, communism, marxism, critical theory, grievance studies are all favor movement towards a leviathan state ran by an oligarchy, some of the flavors wish to maintain the illusion of limited government and a genuine democratic process, some don’t.
The Obama campaign would like voters to believe that Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan would “end Medicare as we know it” — privatizing the whole system and costing seniors more than $6,000 extra a year.
But the campaign, even before Ryan was selected as Mitt Romney’s running mate, has effectively been running against the wrong Ryan plan.
The president’s accusations largely refer to Ryan’s 2011 plan, ignoring the fact that the House Budget Committee chairman rolled out a different version in 2012 — taking into account Democratic critiques. Though the 2012 plan is more moderate, Obama and his surrogates have all but ignored the newer version as they amp up their accusations against the Romney-Ryan ticket.
Most glaringly, the campaign has omitted a key point.
While Ryan’s 2011 plan proposes to give seniors a government payment to buy private insurance, his 2012 plan offers seniors a choice.
Under the blueprint, seniors could use the payment to buy private insurance or stay in traditional Medicare.
Mom, I am proud of you for going out, getting another degree. I’m proud of you for the small business that you created. And Mom — you did build that!! That’s what America is all about.
You know, my grandma moved in with us—with my mom and me—when I was in high school. She had advanced Alzheimer’s. My mom and I were her two primary caregivers. You learn a lot about life; you learn a lot about your elderly seniors in your family; you learn a lot about Alzheimer’s. Medicare was there for our family, for my grandma, when we needed it then; and Medicare is there for my mom while she needs it now, and we have to keep that guarantee.
Because so many elite media journalists just can’t seem to get this passed their skulls.
CIS: 57% of illegal immigrant households on welfare – LINK
Welfare grew by 19% under Obama! Total Obama Stimulus Bills $2.5 TRILLION – LINK
5.4 Million Join Disability Rolls Under Obama – LINK
Real GDP Tanked at 1.7%. Food Stamps and Welfare at Record Levels – LINK
Food Stamp Spending Doubled Since 2008. Welfare Spending Nearing $1 Trillion a Year – LINK
“The federal government administers nearly 80 different overlapping federal means-tested welfare programs,” the Senate Budget Committee notes. However, the committee states, the figures used in the chart do not include those who are only benefiting from Social Security and/or Medicare.
Food stamps and Medicaid make up a large–and growing–chunk of the more than 100 million recipients. “Among the major means tested welfare programs, since 2000 Medicaid has increased from 34 million people to 54 million in 2011 and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) from 17 million to 45 million in 2011,” says the Senate Budget Committee. “Spending on food stamps alone is projected to reach $800 billion over the next decade.”
The data come “from the U.S. Census’s Survey of Income and Program Participation shows that nearly 110,000 million individuals received a welfare benefit in 2011. (These figures do not include other means-tested benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit or the health insurance premium subsidies included in the President’s health care law. CBO estimates that the premium subsidies, scheduled to begin in 2014, will cover at least 25 million individuals by the end of the decade.)”
President Obama said that he believes that we should be our brother’s keeper and yet his real life brother lives in a shanty hut.
Conservative intellectual Dinesh D’Souza went to interview George Obama who has written a book. George is insightful, thoughtful, humble and very intelligent. He also rejects the collectivist, anti-colonialist ideology of his father and his brother.
George Obama’s son was very sick and the hospital bill was $1,000 so D’Souza paid the bill for him. See the video of the George Obama interview at The Blaze and read D’Souza’s column about the story HERE.
In 1990, the year before the collapse of the Soviet Union, I attended an economic conference in Moscow.
Like my father during his visits to the U.S.S.R. in the early 1930s, I was astonished and appalled by what I saw.
Simple necessities, such as toilet paper, were in short supply. In fact, there was none at all in the airport bathroom stalls for fear it would be stolen. Visitors using the facilities had to request a portion of tissue from an attendant beforehand.
When I walked into one of Moscow’s giant department stores, there was next to nothing on the shelves. For those shoppers who were lucky enough to find something they actually wanted to buy, the purchase process was maddening and time-consuming.
Although the government provided universal healthcare, I never met anyone who wanted to stay in a Soviet hospital. Medical services might have been “free,” but the quality of care was notoriously poor.
My experiences in the Soviet Union underscore why economic freedom is so important for all of us.
Nations with the greatest degree of economic freedom tend to have citizens who are much better off in every way.
No centralized government, no matter how big, how smart or how powerful, can effectively and efficiently control much of society in a beneficial way. On the contrary, big governments are inherently inefficient and harmful.
And yet, the tendency of our own government here in the U.S. has been to grow bigger and bigger, controlling more and more. This is why America keeps dropping in the annual ranking of economic freedom.
Citizens who over-rely on their government to do everything not only become dependent on their government, they end up having to do whatever the government demands. In the meantime, their initiative and self-respect are destroyed.
It was President Franklin Roosevelt who said: “Continued dependence on [government support] induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.”
Businesses can become dependents, too. If your struggling car company wants a government bailout, you’ll probably have to build the government’s car – even if it’s a car very few people want to buy.
Repeatedly asking for government help undermines the foundations of society by destroying initiative and responsibility. It is also a fatal blow to efficiency and corrupts the political process.
When everyone gets something for nothing, soon no one will have anything, because no one will be producing anything.
Under the Soviet system, special traffic lanes were set aside for the sole use of officials in their limousines. This worsened driving conditions for everyone else, but those receiving favored treatment didn’t care.
Today, many governments give special treatment to a favored few businesses that eagerly accept those favors. This is the essence of cronyism.
Many businesses with unpopular products or inefficient production find it much easier to curry the favor of a few influential politicians or a government agency than to compete in the open market.
After all, the government can literally guarantee customers and profitability by mandating the use of certain products, subsidizing production or providing protection from more efficient competitors.
Cronyism enables favored companies to reap huge financial rewards, leaving the rest of us – customers and competitors alike – worse off.
One obvious example of this involves wind farms. Most cannot turn a profit without the costly subsidies the government provides. Meanwhile, consumers and taxpayers are forced to pay an average of five times more for wind-generated electricity.
We see far too many legislative proposals that would subsidize one form of energy over another, penalize certain emissions from one industry but not another, or place protective tariffs that hurt consumers.
Karl Marx famously said: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”
The result of this approach is not equality, but rather a lowering of everyone’s standards to some minimal level.
Some people worry about the disparity of wealth in a system of economic freedom. What they don’t realize is that the same disparity exists in the least-free countries.
The difference is who is better off.
Under economic freedom, it is the people who do the best job of producing products and services that make people’s lives better.
On the other hand, in a system without economic freedom, the wealthiest are the tyrants who make people’s lives miserable.
As a result of this, the income of the poorest in the least-free countries is one-tenth of what it is in the freest.
Elected officials are often asked what they would like as their legacy. I’m never going to run for office, but I can tell you how I would answer that question.
I want my legacy to be greater freedom, greater prosperity and a better way of life for my family, our employees and all Americans. And I wish the same for every nation on earth.
Charles Koch is the Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, Inc.
From a speech Eric Holder made in 1995:
I have seen this outlined in a lecture from Brigitte Gabrielle who watched this exact same method used to conquer Lebanon with the help of secular leftists who the Islamists later slaughtered.
Brigitte Gabrielle interview:
What the Ronald Reagan 2012 National Address Would Be. We miss you Dutch.
So much for that McChicken only costing a dollar….
Papa John: I must raise pizza prices if ‘Obamacare’ survives – LINK
Cook Medical Scraps Plans to Expand Production in USA Because of ObamaCare Tax: Looking to Go Overseas – LINK
The Affordable Care Act could cost McDonald’s and its franchisees more than $400 million a year in additional health-care expenses, Chief Financial Officer Peter Bensen said on Monday.
McDonald’s estimates that each restaurant will incur between $10,000 and $30,000 in added annual costs, Bensen said in response to an analyst’s question on a conference call to discuss the fast-food giant’s second-quarter results, according to an unedited transcript of the call provided by FactSet. There are about 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S., meaning McDonald’s expects the total cost to the company and its franchisees to be in the range of $140 million to $420 million. McDonald’s owns about 11% of its U.S. restaurants, while the rest are franchised.
Bensen added that the wide range is due to a number of variables, including the number of employees per restaurant and how many are full-time workers. Spokeswomen for McDonald’s added that the final cost will also depend on what percentage of its eligible employees elect to accept health insurance from the chain, as well as any changes McDonald’s might make to its health-care plan. McDonald’s worked with its franchisees to analyze and estimate the potential costs, the spokeswomen said, which could be mitigated by higher menu prices.
Companies have moved ahead with planning for economic and other consequences of the law since a Supreme Court ruling last month upheld the vast majority of President Barack Obama’s controversial health-care law, even as congressional Republicans and that party’s presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, vow to overturn it.
“Now that the Supreme Court has ruled,” Bensen said, “[we are] increasing our conversations and disclosures with franchisees” to educate them about the potential changes and how to minimize their impact.
To put the cost per restaurant into perspective, Bensen noted on the call that the commodity-costs increases it experienced in 2011, for example, added more than $30,000 in overhead to each restaurant that year.
Cook Medical Scraps Plans to Expand Production in USA Because of ObamaCare Tax: Looking to Go Overseas – LINK
McDonald’s: ObamaCare will cost us $420,000,000 per year – LINK
Get ready to pay more for your Papa John’s pizza if “Obamacare” goes into full effect … a whopping 15 to 20 cents more.
John Schnatter, chief executive of the pizza chain, is bashing President Obama’s healthcare reform law as a policy that will force the company to choose between its customers and its investors.
And if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act rolls out as planned in 2014, Schnatter’s strategy is “of course … to pass that cost on the consumer in order to protect our shareholders’ best interest,” he said in a recent conference call.
Schnatter estimates that the legislation will cost Papa John’s about 11 cents to 14 cents per pizza, which equates to 15 cents to 20 cents per order. An average delivery charge runs $1.75 to $2.50.
The National Restaurant Assn. has criticized the healthcare legislation for having a chilling effect on expansion and hiring in the industry, which tends to be labor-intensive and burdened with thin margins.
Chains such as White Castle and Burger King have predicted surging costs due to the new regulations, which require businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to offer healthcare to such workers and their dependents.
And ObamaCare is designed to make the cost of that insurance rise dramatically.
When it comes to jobs Obama has proven to be the great destroyer.
Papa John: I must raise pizza prices if ‘Obamacare’ survives – LINK
McDonald’s: ObamaCare will cost us $420,000,000 per year in new costs – LINK
An Indiana company’s decision to scrap expansion plans due to a looming tax on medical devices has renewed pressure on the Senate to consider a House-passed bill repealing the tax.
House Speaker John Boehner, in a written statement, urged the Senate to take up the bill “as soon as possible.”
Companies in the medical device industry for months have been calling on Congress to strip the provision. Amid the complaints, though, several firms have already taken steps to cut back U.S. investment out of concern for the tax’s impact.
Cook Medical, an Indiana-based medical equipment manufacturer, last week said it’s nixing plans to open five new plants in the next five years — claiming the tax will cost between $15 million and $30 million a year, cutting into money that would otherwise go toward expanding into new facilities in the Midwest.
“Unfortunately, we have had to shelve these expansion plans and look overseas for that,” Allison Giles, vice president for federal affairs with the company, told FoxNews.com. “It’s a huge amount for us.”
She urged the Senate to take up the repeal bill, even if it has to wait for the post-election lame-duck session.
“We’re hoping that members will look at this, not so much as a health care provision, but as a jobs provision,” she said.
The Affordable Care Act imposed the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices beginning in 2013. It is projected to raise nearly $30 billion over the next decade — the House voted to repeal it last month.
The Obama administration argues that claims the tax will shift jobs overseas are overblown.
Star Parker Calls Out Tavis Smiley and Cornel West to Debate Race and Poverty. “Secular socialism vs Freedom” as Parker puts it.