Tim Geithner is the Secretary of the United States Department of the Treasury. During his confirmation hearings he was billed as the only man smart enough to handle our nation’s economic problems. What, then, to make of this quote from Secretary Geithner?
“The effective tax rate on the energy industry in the United States today is much, much lower than the average. It’s lower because the tax code provides a substantial amount of subsidies to those private companies. We propose, for lots of reasons, mostly because we think it’s fair and more efficient, to dial some of those back.”
Is that true, or regime spin? Please allow Forbes to put some facts to Mr. Geithner.
America’s three biggest oil companies, ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips, all endure income tax burdens of more than 40%–higher than the statutory U.S. rate of 35%. Exxon, with a 45% rate, tallied $21.6 billion in worldwide income taxes for 2010. Wal-Mart Stores paid $7.1 billion (at a rate of 32.4%) in income taxes.
That’s from April of last year. How could Timmy get his numbers so wrong? Is out of incompetence? Or is it out of dishonesty, to slam an industry that Democrats hate and want the rest of us to hate and blame for the gas prices that have risen about 92% since Obama’s inauguration? Or maybe Tim was just kidding around. He’s known for bringing the funny to serious debates.
Does it matter, really? The bottom line is that whichever way you go, you can’t trust anything coming from the current regime. One day they’re lying about the XL Pipeline, the next, they’re spreading untruths about how much the big oil companies pay in taxes.
Americans are feeling better about the nation’s economy but not about its politics, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.
Despite building optimism that the United States is pulling out of its long downturn, those surveyed are inclined to judge President Obama’s tenure a failure, give his Republican rivals record low ratings and view both political parties with a skeptical eye.
The bottom line: a rocky political landscape that doesn’t strongly favor either side.
If you were a president who for three years presided over an economy with more than 13 million unemployed, a growth rate gasping around 2%, an historic credit downgrade and underwater home mortgages drifting like icebergs toward the American Titanic, what would you do?
You’d do what Barack Obama’s done: Reboot.
With his recently announced campaign platform—An Economy Built to Last—President Obama has essentially constructed a virtual economy. Instead of the economy we all live in, he’s making one up and inviting us to pretend we are living in it. Welcome to the Sim City Economy.
In his State of the Union Address, Mr. Obama described what will be a major claim of his re-election campaign—that he renewed the American dream by bailing out General Motors. About the defensibility of this policy we can argue. But as is his wont, Mr. Obama erected a generalized theory of social betterment atop this one event. “What’s happening in Detroit can happen in other industries.” Mr. Obama announced. “It can happen in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Raleigh.”
What’s interesting about this claim is that the corridor between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, much of it economically moribund for years, is experiencing a rebirth thanks to real economic forces, not a president who types in the name of another beleaguered city and hits Ctrl-Shift-Enter to solve its problems.
Most of this revival is taking place around the godforsaken city of Youngstown, Ohio, and the formerly dying steel towns west of Pittsburgh, an area better known today as the Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Field. Last summer, a French steel company, Vallourec & Mannesmann Holdings Inc., began construction on a new $650 million plant to make steel tubes for the hydraulic fracking industry. About 400 workers are building it. Nothing Barack Obama has done in three years—not the $800 billion stimulus or anything in his four, $3 trillion-plus budgets—is remotely related to the better times in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
But other than grudging acknowledgment of the private entrepreneurs’ natural-gas success, don’t expect to hear the carbon-based word “fracking” much in the president’s stump speech when he paints in the numbers of the American economy as he imagines it. That pitch will run more toward the ideas in the Presidential Memorandum released this Tuesday, directing the Department of Agriculture to put in motion a program called “Promoting a Bioeconomy.”
Pray tell, what is that?
The Obama Bioeconomy will come to life after the Ag Department “increases the purchase of biobased products” under a program that originated in the 2002 farm bill. After mandating a 50% increase in products designated as biobased, “items like paints, soaps and detergents . . . are developed from farm grown plants, rather than chemicals or petroleum bases.” This, the president says, “will drive innovation and economic growth and create jobs at marginal cost to the American public.”
You can’t make this up. On the other hand, that’s the point: You can make this up, and then sell it, or try to sell it, as An Economy Built to Last.
A malfunctioning cable may have been responsible for the claim that some particles may be able to travel faster than light speed, a potentially embarrassing outcome for physicists who had publicized the findings with great fanfare just a few month ago.
In September, scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, said that ghostlike particles called neutrinos zapped from a lab in Geneva to one in Italy had seemingly made the trip in about 60 nanoseconds less than light speed—a finding that garnered headlines around the world. It also induced much head-shaking among skeptical scientists who said they were convinced that the result was an error.
It turns out the only ghost may have been in the machine after all. CERN says it had identified two possible effects that could have affected the experiment: one relates to an oscillator used to provide time stamps for estimating particle speeds, and a possible glitch in a fiber-optic cable.
I took this image yesterday in Camarillo, CA.
At right is one of the large machines they use when harvesting the strawberry crop. To the left, a farm hand drives a tractor applying pesticides to the rows of fruit.
Click to see it larger.
It was a rather odd sight: as an array of museum officials, including former first lady Laura Bush, took up shovels at the groundbreaking for the first national museum dedicated exclusively to African-American history and culture, the nation’s first black president sat watching, no shovel in hand.
…When he finished and returned to his seat, a call was put out for groundbreakers to gather at the front of the stage. Obama then stood, buttoned his jacket and prepared to join in. But an official whispered something to him and he sat back down as museum officials and members of the museum’s advisory council, including the former first lady, picked up shovels for the ceremonial turning of the dirt. The Obamas remained on stage.
White House officials said that only museum officials and advisers were scheduled to take part in the shoveling. They said that was part of the agreed upon plan between the White House and the museum.
Fresh Air’s Terry Gross interviews Tim Weiner, author of a surprising new book on the FBI based on 70,000 pages of documents newly declassified.
He presents a very nuanced view of J. Edgar Hoover, discounting rumors of his alleged homosexuality, his reasons for bugging and harassing Martin Luther King, the complicity of JFK and RFK in domestic spying and much more.
The Heartland Institute is a libertarian organization accused of trying to inject politics into climate science (now, there’s good one!) by funding AGW skeptics. Yesterday, the WSJ noted the small dollars involved.
So how flush is Heartland? The documents show the group is expecting revenues of $7.7 million this year, mostly from private donations and grants. Mr. Koch’s “heavy” funding came to $25,000 in 2011, though the Heartland “Fundraising Plan” has it hoping for an increase in 2012. To put those numbers in not-for-profit perspective, last year the Natural Resources Defense Council reported $95.4 million in operating revenues, while the World Wildlife Fund took in $238.5 million.
Press coverage has focused in particular on Heartland’s plans to produce and distribute “educational material suitable for K-12 students on global warming that isn’t alarmist or overtly political.” Heartland is budgeting $200,000 this year for the effort, which in the past has “had only limited success,” per one of the documents. Little wonder if teachers aren’t returning Heartland’s calls: Last year the World Wildlife Fund spent $68.5 million on “public education” alone.
Today brings news that Peter Gleick, a leading climate scientist, perpetrated fraud in order to obtain Heartland Institute documents. Instapundit has a bunch of links:
MEGAN MCARDLE ON PETER GLEICK’S GLOBAL-WARMING FAKERY: “I hardly know what to say about the latest developments in the Heartland document dump. Profanity seems too weak, and incredulity too tame. . . . Gleick has done enormous damage to his cause and his own reputation, and it’s no good to say that people shouldn’t be focusing on it. If his judgement is this bad, how is his judgement on matters of science? For that matter, what about the judgement of all the others in the movement who apparently see nothing worth dwelling on in his actions? When skeptics complain that global warming activists are apparently willing to go to any lengths–including lying–to advance their worldview, I’d say one of the movement’s top priorities should be not proving them right.”
Plus this: “After you have convinced people that you fervently believe your cause to be more important than telling the truth, you’ve lost the power to convince them of anything else.” Indeed.
And Jonathan Adler observes: “This is just incredible (and not only because Gleick was chairing a working group on scientific integrity at the time of his actions). . . . Much of the clmate science community seems unable to condemn Gleick’s conduct (see, e.g. here), just as some environmentalist groups and climate activists have a hard time acknowledging the frequent exaggeration or ‘sexing up’ of climate studies to accentuate the threat posed by climate change. (And I say this as someone who believes climate change is a problem and supports appropriate policies to address the threat.)”
There’s a pattern here. ClimateGate, the ClimateGate whitewash, the stonewalling of the University of Virginia in complying with freedom of information requests, NASA’s coy press releases that exaggerate facts — it all suggests insecurity from professionals who profess to be secure in their knowledge.
A few years ago, the folks on Martha’s Vineyard, a favorite Massachusetts island getaway for New England liberals, were under siege by a wild turkey named Tom. Unlike most turkeys who can be scared off by waving your hands or shouting at them, Tom enjoyed nothing better than attacking people. Shouting and waving merely egged him on. Compounding the problem, Tom led a flock of like-minded birds. If you think of the Hells Angels, but with wattles and feathers, you’ve got the picture.
Tom would even terrorize people in cars, daring them to come out and face him man to turkey. If they chose to wait him out, he’d peck the paint off their doors.
One day, the folks who rented cribs and cradles to vacationing tourists couldn’t make a delivery because Tom was chasing them around their truck, trying to draw blood with one of his spurs. In a panic, they dumped the stuff in the front yard and drove off. When the cops were called, Tom attacked them. Four bullets later, Tom was dead.
Naturally, Martha’s Vineyard being a community of liberals, it was the cops who came in for tons of grief. These are, after all, the same folks who get their shorts in a knot when American soldiers shoot jihadists, so you can imagine their outrage over a turkey being whacked.
I am recalling this event not merely to amuse you at the expense of liberal chickens, although that would normally be motive enough. This time, I am leading up to a reason why I think it’s time we divided America. I mean, can you imagine a town in Oklahoma, Montana or Alaska, being held hostage by psychotic poultry? That bird would only have had to look cross-eyed at a Texan and his next appearance would have been on a dinner platter with a side of cranberries.
It only makes sense to divide the United States along political lines. I’m not saying it would be easy, but it’s pretty obvious that the nation is growing increasingly polarized with roughly half the population favoring a huge federal government that oversees everything from smoking to nutrition, while the other half believes that the federal government has gone from being a necessary evil with the emphasis on necessary to one that is increasingly evil.
As I see it, the entire Pacific coast, along with the Northeast, favors Obama and the Democrats. Unfortunately, those two areas are separated by about 2,500 miles. Therefore, I would suggest connecting those two parts of the country with, say, a 30 mile corridor south of the Canadian border that would run through parts of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. That America would include California, Washington, Oregon, New York, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey. We conservatives would give up Hawaii in exchange for Alaska. You can see where that would make for an odd-looking country, but no odder than the congressional districts that have been gerrymandered by the Democrats here in California.
I’m not being capricious about dividing a nation that has already cost 600,000 American lives lost during the war that was waged to preserve the Union. I simply see no other way to resolve the differences when half the population regards abortion as murder and the other half feels that young girls are entitled to state-funded abortions without parental consent. The same separation exists between those who favor same-sex marriages and those who don’t; those in favor of capital punishment and those who oppose it; those who respect the Second Amendment and those who’d like to abolish it; those who favor class and race warfare and those who believe their America is above such things; those who regard compulsory union membership as a good thing and those who don’t; those who defend public schools but send their own kids to private schools and those who believe in vouchers and home-schooling; those who oppose drilling for oil and digging for coal, and those who realize that alternative sources of energy might be sufficient for a house, but not for an industrial nation; and those who think that the rights of insects trump the rights of human beings and those of us who are sane.
If you believe that the bigger the federal government grows, the better it is, you will be right at home in the new America. If you not only believe that illegal aliens and jihadists are entitled to the same rights as a citizen, but believe that the government should intrude in every aspect of your life, including those that it is precluded from by the U.S. Constitution, you might even consider running for public office.
Just to avoid any possible confusion as to boundaries, we’d build a very high wall at both our southern and northern border.
There would be no hard feelings between our two nations, but knowing how opposed liberals are to military action and how unwilling they are to fund the Pentagon, they should not expect us squander our blood or treasure racing to save them if they are ever invaded by Canada or, for that matter, by a flock of really angry turkeys.
More federal education aid, the higher the college costs. From Minding the Campus.
It’s called “the Bennett Hypothesis,” and it explains–or tries to explain–why the cost of college lies so tantalizingly out of reach for so many. In 1987, then Secretary of Education William J. Bennett launched a quarter century of debate by saying, in effect, “Federal aid doesn’t help; colleges and universities just cream off the extra money by raising tuition.” Now Andrew Gillen, research director of CCAP–the Center for College Affordability and Productivity–has tweaked the data and produced a sophisticated “2.0″ version of the hypothesis. It’s filled with heavy math, game theory and terms like “inelastic fairly vertical curves.” You probably won’t read it. We know. But it’s important. So here are some smart people who have read it, and have something to say: Peter Wood, Hans Bader, Richard Vedder, George Leef and Herbert London.
Peter Wood: They Are Insatiable
Long before I knew it was called the “Bennett Hypothesis” I knew that colleges and universities increase tuition to capture increases in federal and state financial aid. I attended numerous meetings of university administrators where the topic of setting next year’s tuition was discussed.
So long before I heard of “Bowen’s Rule,” I was also familiar with the idea that “in the quest for excellence, prestige, and influence, there is virtually no limit to the amount of money” a university could spend…
The regnant phrase was “Don’t leave money sitting on the table.” The metaphoric table in question was the one on which the government had laid out a sumptuous banquet of increases of financial aid. Our job was to figure out how to consume as much of it as possible in tuition increases. This didn’t necessarily mean we were insensitive to the needs of financially less well-off students. A substantial portion of the money we captured would be reallocated as “tuition discounts” or “institutional aid.” That is to say, just as Andrew Gillen observes, we combined Bennett Hypothesis-style capture of external student financial aid with “price discrimination.”
And we did all this in the pursuit of educational excellence. It was a large private university in the shadow of world-ranked neighbors and it was attempting to pull itself up in the world of prestige and influence by its bootstraps. There were townhouses that needed buying; laboratories that needed building; faculty stars that needed hiring; classrooms and residence halls that needed refurbishing; symphonies that needed performing; grotesque modern sculptures that needed displaying; and administrators that needed chauffeuring.
“It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep…but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
Unleaded regular gas cost me $4.07 yesterday in California.
Recall this from Victor Davis Hanson nearly a year ago.
In the face of $4 a gallon gas, President Obama claimed that domestic oil and gas production was at a record level — failing to note that such expansion was due entirely to prior leases granted during the Clinton and Bush administrations of the sort that he has so far mostly denied. During the 2008 campaign, the president promised that under his leadership electricity prices would skyrocket and those who produced power through coal plants would be “bankrupted.”
His secretary of energy, Steven Chu, in 2008 advocated ratcheting American gasoline prices up to European levels and, a year earlier, had complained that we had too much fossil fuels in America, enough, in fact, to “cook us.” So are we supposed to strive for astronomical gas prices to ensure fewer carbon emissions, the success of the government subsidized Chevy Volt, and actualization of the green dreams of a Van Jones as outlined by Chu and Obama in 2007-8 — or will they imperil recovery and must be postponed until after the reelection of Barack Obama?
Obama and Chu still have a ways to go before achieving their goal, but they’re trying. Germans are currently paying $9 a gallon.
Bossy folks on the American left want to the government to regulate the Internet. So do the worlds’ autocrats, although for different reasons.
On Feb. 27, a diplomatic process will begin in Geneva that could result in a new treaty giving the United Nations unprecedented powers over the Internet. Dozens of countries, including Russia and China, are pushing hard to reach this goal by year’s end. As Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said last June, his goal and that of his allies is to establish “international control over the Internet” through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a treaty-based organization under U.N. auspices.
If successful, these new regulatory proposals would upend the Internet’s flourishing regime, which has been in place since 1988. That year, delegates from 114 countries gathered in Australia to agree to a treaty that set the stage for dramatic liberalization of international telecommunications. This insulated the Internet from economic and technical regulation and quickly became the greatest deregulatory success story of all time.
Since the Net’s inception, engineers, academics, user groups and others have convened in bottom-up nongovernmental organizations to keep it operating and thriving through what is known as a “multi-stakeholder” governance model. This consensus-driven private-sector approach has been the key to the Net’s phenomenal success.
In 1995, shortly after it was privatized, only 16 million people used the Internet world-wide. By 2011, more than two billion were online—and that number is growing by as much as half a million every day. This explosive growth is the direct result of governments generally keeping their hands off the Internet sphere.
Net access, especially through mobile devices, is improving the human condition more quickly—and more fundamentally—than any other technology in history. Nowhere is this more true than in the developing world, where unfettered Internet technologies are expanding economies and raising living standards…
A Powerpoint presentation obtained by The Daily Caller shows that during a July 2008 meeting, the $789 million Rockefeller Brothers Fund proposed to coordinate and fund a dozen environmental and anti-corporate activist groups’ efforts to scuttle pipelines carrying tar sands oil from Canada to the United States.
The most recent incarnation of that pipeline plan, the Keystone XL project, was the subject of intense public controversy until the Obama administration rejected it in January.
The 2008 meeting consisted of presentations from Rockefeller Brothers Fund program officer Michael Northrop, Corporate Ethics International Executive Director Michael Marx, Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Susan Casey-Lefkowitz and the director of a Canadian activist group called the Pembina Institute.
Northrop’s presentation described the extraction of oil from Canada’s vast tar sands oil deposits as a threat to environmentalists’ efforts to curb global warming. He outlined a ”globally significant response” consisting of a “network of leading US and Canadian NGOs” engaged in a “coordinated campaign structure.”
TheDC made repeated requests for comments from Northrup, Marx and Casey-Lefkowitz. None of them responded.
The subject of U.S. interests raining money on environmental organizations north of the border is a front-burner issue in Canada…
Indeed it is, as the LAT notes in its lead story today.
Reporting from Fort St. James, Canada—The prime minister is talking about being “held hostage” by U.S. interests. Radio ads blare, “Stand up to this foreign bully.” ATwitter account tells of a “secret plan to target Canada: exposed!”
Could this be Canada? The cheerful northern neighbor: supplier of troops to unpleasant U.S.-led foreign conflicts, reliable trade partner, ally in holding terrorism back from North America’s shores, not to mention the No. 1 supplier of America’s oil?
Canada’s recent push for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the nation’s West Coast, where it would be sent to China, has been marked by uncharacteristic defiance. And it first flared in the brouhaha over the bananas.
Responding to urgings from U.S. environmentalists, Ohio-based Chiquita Brands International Inc. announced in November that it would join a growing number of companies trying to avoid fuel derived from Canada’s tar sands, whose production is blamed for accelerating climate change and leveling boreal forests…
Obama has to go.
Judging by the email I receive from my readers, there are a lot of Republicans who feel that Mitt Romney doesn’t pass the conservative litmus test. Some of them even threaten to sit out the presidential election if Governor Romney secures the nomination. Although I do my utmost to be polite in my response, the truth is, I regard such people as idiots and loons.
First of all, in any competition, you can only choose the best of the contenders, not the ideal. So, would I be more enthusiastic about Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio and Mitch Daniels? Yes, I would be. I would also favor George Washington, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, three other guys who are not in the race.
But when it comes to choosing between Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, I find the choice an easy one. Newt Gingrich lugs around more baggage than a team of redcaps. When a politician has been involved in this many scandals involving sex and money, I just naturally assume he’s a Democrat. Besides, this is a guy who has sat on a couch with Nancy Pelosi and promoted the global warming hoax; he has attacked free market capitalism; and dismissed Paul Ryan’s economic plan as “right-wing social engineering.”
Ron Paul seems an amiable sort of guy. He reminds you of an elderly uncle who shows up at family reunions, has a few drinks and winds up asleep at the dinner table, with his head resting in the mashed potatoes. Although I would never wish to be accused of fomenting ageism, the fact remains that if he were elected, he would be in his 80s before the end of his first term. A guy that age should be taking naps regularly, not running the most powerful nation on earth.
In terms of policy, anyone who is cavalier about a nuclear Iran; believes that 9/11 was our own fault; and supports gutting and neutering the U.S. military, is someone who should not be trusted anywhere near sharp tools, heavy machinery or the Oval Office.
Rick Santorum strikes me as a decent man. He also strikes me as a perennial lightweight. He comes across like a male ingénue. Between his tinny voice and his sweater vests, I keep expecting him to run on stage and say, “Tennis, anyone?” Also, as Newt Gingrich has pointed out, as a senator, he was in the hip pocket of the Pennsylvania unions, supported Arlen Specter’s re-election and was the crown prince of earmarks.
As a personal aside, I should mention that when I interviewed Senator Santorum for my latest collection of interviews, I asked him if he was in favor of term limits. When he said he was, I asked him why, in that case, after serving two terms in the House and two terms in the Senate, had he run for a third term? He said, “Because I favor more than two terms for the Senate.” I told him that was what separated politicians from normal people.
Having explained why I would not like to see the other three contenders get the nomination, the main reason that I would like to see Mitt Romney carry the GOP standard is because I regard him as the best bet to defeat Barack Obama, the worst and the most dangerous president in American history.
Although many Republicans do not consider Romney a true conservative, the fact is America is not a truly conservative nation. It’s not Party bosses who shove people like Bob Dole, John McCain and the Bushes, down our throats, as some folks insist is the case. They happen to be the folks who win our primaries. The country is pretty evenly divided between conservatives and liberals. It is the 20% in the middle who call themselves moderates and independents who determine winners and losers, and they are put off by candidates, Democrat or Republican, they regard as extremists. They are far more likely to support Romney, a man whom even his opponents call a moderate, than they are either of the other three.
The thing to keep in mind is that if conservatives can’t win GOP primaries, what makes anyone think they can win general elections, when, for reasons I’ll never understand, liberals and middle-of-the-roaders are allowed to vote?
Most conservatives insist on litmus tests to determine the purity of Republican candidates. But the fact is they’re fooling themselves. They’ll dismiss Romney simply because he was the governor of a liberal state and had to compromise with a legislature that was jam-packed with Democrats. What they fail to acknowledge is that our hero, Ronald Reagan, would not have passed a similar test in 1980. As the governor of a liberal state, he twice raised taxes; he shut down California’s mental institutions, releasing thousands of psychotics who crowd our streets to this day; and he signed the most liberal abortion bill in America.
And while it’s convenient to overlook the fact, Reagan got played for a sucker by a left-wing Congress that promised to shut down the Mexican border, and foolishly signed the amnesty bill that saw our illegal alien population soar from three million to 15 million. Too bad that in this all-important matter, Reagan trusted, but didn’t verify!
Mitt Romney may or may not be a RINO, but the last one we had in the White House wasn’t all that terrible. As I recall, he got rid of Saddam Hussein; he prevented a repeat of 9/11; he placed Sam Alito and John Roberts on the Supreme Court; and, for good measure, he kept Al Gore and John Kerry out of the Oval Office.
If all that Mitt Romney does is evict Barack Obama, he will have earned his place on Mount Rushmore.
From a Michael Kinsley column:
“Inexperienced” was their [the GOP] favorite one-word accusation against President Obama. It is witheringly dismissive without seeming overtly hostile or in any way racist.
Pointing out that Obama had never worked a 9-5 job, never held any executive position and never authored any significant legislation? How could that ever be racist?
If it is, then so is Michelle Obama who said
Sometimes you just have to laugh. The LAT assigned three reporters to investigate the voting membership of the Motion Picture Academy. The story ran big with multiple pages and graphs.
The gist: the Academy is too white and too old. Lord knows, this issue keeps me awake at night.
What they never asked about was politics.
I’d bet that 80% or more are liberal Democrats. These are the people who tell America stories, who actually shape the public’s understanding about the role of business, about environmental causes and about history.
Lefty LAT columnist Michael Hiltzik gets one thing right in his column about Obama’s payroll tax cut extension.
…It’s because with every extension of the payroll tax holiday, which was first enacted in 2010, the prospect that Congress will ever restore the tax to its statutory 6.2% of covered income recedes a little bit further over the horizon. And that’s bad medicine for Social Security.
To be fair, thus far the payroll tax holiday hasn’t impaired Social Security’s fiscal resources one bit. By law, 100% of the cut must be compensated for by transfers from the general fund; those transfers have come to about $130 billion since 2010, covering the original “temporary” one-year holiday and a two-month extension passed late last year.
The new extension will require a further transfer of about $94 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
First, the reason Obama chose this as a “stimulus” is because so many citizens do not pay taxes, so there’s no possible tax break to give them. You can get cheaper than free.
Hiltzik argues that the money the federal government must borrow to cover the loss of dollars into the trust fund will not impair Social Security’s fiscal resources.
This is fantasy. The Social Security trust fund is not a real asset — the excess money paid into SS was not invested to pay tomorrow’s seniors. It was spent. Gone.
The federal government owes SS all that money, but since the federal government has no savings, it can only honor that debt by taxing future generations or by borrowing.
Where did the “$130 billion in transfers since 2010″ come from? Borrowed money.
Bernie Madoff sits in prison, while our pols party on.
This one wasn’t filmed in Iran, for obvious reasons. But it’s an Iranian story of life in a stifling theocracy. As a first feature, it bodes well for director Maryam Keshavarz.
This evoked memories of “The Lives of Others,” which is high praise.
We use expressions (mostly correctly) in daily life that we have no clue to their origins.
Take “hands down” which means easily. I always thought it came from poker, where the winner took the pot without showing his cards.
Jockeys need to keep a tight rein in order to encourage their horse to run. Anyone who is so far ahead that he can afford to slacken off and still win he can drop his hands and loosen the reins – hence winning ‘hands down’. This is recorded from the mid 19th century; for example,‘Pips’ Lyrics & Lays, 1867:
“There were good horses in those days, as he can well recall, But Barker upon Elepoo, hands down, shot by them all.”
The Food Police State is rumbling.
“It may be better to live under robber barons,” wrote C.S. Lewis, “than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep…but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” Now there was a fellow who knew a thing or two.
Lewis would not be surprised by a recent jeremiad in the journal Nature, arguing that sugar is just as bad for you as tobacco and alcohol, and we all ought to be forced to eat a lot less of it. The authors think it would be grand if the government slapped hefty taxes on foods with added sugar, and outlawed the sale of sugary drinks to minors, and kept sugary-drink-selling stores away from schools and any place inhabited by people who are poor and fat and therefore, presumably, stupid. (Well—“low-income areas plagued by obesity” is how the news stories put it. But we all know what they meant.)
Self-appointed food police have been pitching Twinkie taxes, soda taxes, and so on for years. And like advocates of every stripe, they are sometimes prone to exaggerating.
Last month researchers (including one at Virginia Tech) claimed slapping a penny-per-ounce tax on soft drinks would raise $13 billion in revenue, save $17 billion in health costs, and prevent (kid you not) 2,600 premature deaths a year—all because it would lead the average adult American to cut nine calories a day. Nine.
The road to a svelte figure begins with the first calorie, no?
Meanwhile, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has ginned up some good publicity by erecting a couple of anti-cheese billboards in Albany, New York—dairy country, that is. The billboards show a man’s fat gut and a woman’s hamhock thighs and say it’s all cheese’s fault.
The FDA, for its part, continues to move forward with plans to restrict salt. The agency started studying the issue five years ago. By last December it had published a proposal in the Federal Register seeking comments on “current and emerging approaches designed to promote sodium reduction.”
But the FDA will have to work faster if it wants to keep up with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. His administration already is spearheading a “nationwide effort to reduce salt in restaurant and packaged foods.” It also has banned trans-fats and smoking in bars, launched a P.R. campaign against occasional smoking, and is in the process of restricting alcohol sales and advertising in the city.
Bloomberg is doing this with the approval of his own conscience: As he said at a U.N. conference last fall, making “healthy solutions the default social option” is “ultimately government’s highest duty.” New York Sen. Chuck Schumer evidently agrees and wants to get in on the action. He has asked the FDA to review and possibly ban powdered caffeine. He’s worried a new product called AeroShot could become the next “club drug.” No word yet on Schumer’s thoughts about NoDoz or coffee.
As Lewis said, such paternalism “stings with intolerable insult.” It stings all the more because in some cases the government has exacerbated the very problem supposedly requiring redress. Take high-fructose corn syrup, which the Nature piece urges regulating more tightly and which is widely used as a sweetener in the U.S.
Why is it widely used? Blame Washington’s import quotas on foreign sugar – and its massive subsidies for corn. Corn is the run-away winner in the farm subsidy Olympics: The Environmental Working Group estimates Americans have shelled out nearly $80 billion in corn subsidies over the past decade and a half.
So first we’re forced to pay on the front end for the overproduction of corn, thereby encouraging the use of high fructose corn syrup, and now we’re supposed to pay again on the back end, through soda taxes and the like, to prevent ourselves from drinking too much of it. Brilliant…
Naivete breeds scorn. Washington Post.
MOSCOW — A nasty spate of anti-Americanism set off by Vladimir V. Putin has grown into waves of attacks aimed at the new American ambassador and Russian opposition leaders, raising questions about the future of U.S.-Russian relations.
The attacks started just before the December parliamentary elections and have intensified as the March 4 presidential vote approaches. Although widely viewed as aimed primarily at a domestic audience, they have grown shriller and more aggressive, provoking debate about whether Russia is deliberately giving a cold shoulder to President Obama’s effort to promote more productive relations.
A main target of the attacks is Michael McFaul, the new ambassador, a longtime democracy advocate and Russia expert who as a top aide to Obama has been an architect of what the White House calls a “reset’’ with Moscow.
The anti-American campaign bears trademark Soviet and KGB thinking, reflecting the mindset of many of the high-level officials appointed by Putin as well as their efforts to protect their power and privileges from the gathering opposition.
U.S. officials say that they understand internal politics are behind the fusillade but that the effect remains worrying, raising concern about whether Russia recognizes the extent of the possible damage, simply doesn’t care or is foreshadowing a change in foreign policy. “It’s getting to the point where it’s going to be hard to undo,” said one administration official in Washington who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.
Putin is taking a trick from Obama: demonize someone to distract from your own failure.
A controversial method of drilling for natural gas, called fracking, has boomed in recent years—as have concerns over its potential to cause environmental contamination and harm human health. But a major review of the practice, released today, uncovered no signs that it is causing trouble below ground. “We found no direct evidence that fracking itself has contaminated groundwater,” said Charles Groat of the University of Texas (UT), Austin, who led the study.
The report, released here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which publishes ScienceNOW), doesn’t give this form of natural gas extraction a clean bill of health. Rather, it suggests that problems aren’t directly caused by fracking, a process in which water, sand, and chemicals are pumped into wells to break up deep layers of shale and release natural gas. Instead, the report concludes, contamination tends to happen closer to the surface when gas and drilling fluid escapes from poorly lined wells or storage ponds.
Groat, a former director of the U.S. Geological Survey, emphasized that the $380,000 report was independent from the natural gas industry and conducted only with university funds. Underlying white papers were peer-reviewed, he told ScienceNOW, and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) was consulted on the overall scope and design of the study…
So why continue to refer to it as “controversial?” Is man-made global warming ever dubbed that?
Obama’s stock excuse for his failures is that an uncompromising GOP just won’t be reasonable and do what’s good for the country (translation: obey him).
Big Baloney (aka the GOB media for Got Obama’s Back) help him peddle this whopper.
Case in point was Democrat Ron Wyden and Republican Paul Ryan’s bipartisan proposal to save Medicare. Medicare, as Obama has noted, cannot survive as is.
…Ticked off by Washington’s failure to tackle big problems? Spare a moment for Oregon’s senior senator. Mr. Wyden is the Democrat who in December had the audacity to team up with House Republican Paul Ryan on a proposal to reform and strengthen Medicare—the entitlement that is pushing the country, and seniors, off a cliff. As bipartisan exercises go, this was big, thoughtful, promising.
It was also a complete anathema to a Democratic establishment that is ideologically opposed to change, and cynically intent on using Mediscare to beat Republicans in 2012. Mr. Wyden, as a result, is taking a beating from his own.
“Ron Wyden, Useful Idiot,” railed New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. “Is Ron Wyden trying to get Mitt Romney elected?” fumed the Nation magazine. Ron Zerban, a Democrat running for Mr. Ryan’s seat, accused Mr. Wyden of giving the GOP cover and proclaimed him no longer a “Democrat.”
The White House went defcon, insisting that the plan would cause Medicare to “wither on the vine.” House Democrats hissed the plan would end “Medicare as we know it.” Most informative was the gripe of a former Senate staffer: Mr. Wyden was taking away “a key argument for Democrats that are trying to retake the House.” The nerve!
Ugly, yes, though it washes over Mr. Wyden, who by Washington standards is one odd duck. On his voting record alone, he ranks with the best of progressives. Yet he’s spent most of his 16 Senate years working from the backbench, with Republicans, on big problems—with some 150 bipartisan bills to date.
Neither a headline-seeker nor a party rebel, he’s best described as a wonk, a workhorse, a doer. That’s kept him popular in his home state where—by contrast to the Beltway storm—the editorial boards praised his outreach to Mr. Ryan, and where seniors in recent town halls have been equally receptive.
As for this town, “you can’t have been in Washington for more than 15 minutes and not have known what was coming,” says a cheery Mr. Wyden, who agreed to an interview (and true to poindexter form, spent it talking policy). The big issues require bipartisan buy-in, he says, “and you are never going to get good policy if you don’t try.” He rejects Democratic complaints that he should have waited until after the election. “There is never really a good time to take on big, tough issues,” he says. Elections are in fact the opportunity to highlight them.
And Lord knows he’s trying. Mr. Wyden has been stressing to colleagues that this joint proposal is different from Mr. Ryan’s initial reform—which Democrats attacked—and offers plenty to reassure his party…
I can certainly understand why Gingrich is so angry with Mitt Romney. It’s because of all the negative ads that Romney ran in Iowa. You know, the ones that told the truth about Gingrich’s having been censured by Congress for financial shenanigans when he was the Speaker of the House; that he had fully supported mandated health care; that he had joined Nancy Pelosi and Al Gore in promoting the fraud known as global warming; and that he had been paid 1.6 million of our tax dollars by Freddie Mac.
Frankly, I think that nobody was more surprised than Newt when he found himself riding high in the polls back in December. After all, this was the same guy who went off to the Greek islands with Mrs. Gingrich at the start of the primary season, leading his entire election team to quit, after having decided that he obviously wasn’t a serious candidate. It also helps explain why he didn’t bother getting his name on the Virginia ballot. All along, I figured that he had thrown his hat in the ring for the very same reason that Pat Buchanan used to throw his. It’s called branding, the human equivalent of the way that Coca Cola, GE and Disney promote themselves. By keeping his name in front of the public, it helps Newt sell books, videos and make certain that his big, fat lecture fees remain big and fat.
As for Ron Paul’s groupies, they’re always insisting that his detractors don’t really understand the subtle nuances of Paul’s foreign policy, and that, in any case, his domestic policies are utterly sublime. The problems are two-fold: one, the major reasons that young nincompoops champion his domestic platform is because it pretty much consists of legalizing drugs and making certain that the military draft is never reinstated; and, two, his foreign policy would, to an even greater extent than Obama’s, gut the U.S. military and encourage the likes of Russia, China and the Islamists, to start licking their chops.
When Ron Paul’s fans insist that voters overlook a few of his nuttier notions in order to appreciate his overall message, I’m reminded of those screwballs who want people to ignore Louis Farrakhan’s racism and anti-Semitism because, after all, he encourages his followers to dress neatly, bathe regularly and marry the mothers of their children.
I suppose that while we’re at it, we should never forget that Mussolini made the Italian trains run on time and that “Hanoi Jane” Fonda was good to her elderly father.
I read that about half the members of Congress are millionaires, and that their median worth is $913,000. And that’s excluding their home equity. Those are pretty impressive numbers when you realize that they’ve somehow managed to accumulate all that wealth in spite of having to maintain two separate residences on an annual salary of about $170,000. Isn’t it a shame that they’re never able to employ those same talents when it comes to solving America’s financial woes?
Some of my readers get irked by my insistence that liberals are not only stupider than conservatives, but far nastier. The latest example was the way that Alan Colmes went after Rick Santorum. In case you missed the news, it seems that when Rick and his wife lost their baby boy, Gabriel, two hours after he was born prematurely, they decided to take him home so that the rest of the family could acknowledge their brother’s existence.
But, according to Colmes, the Santorums took Gabriel home so that his siblings could “play with him” for a few hours. Only someone as morally rancid as Colmes, an Obama shill who regularly insists liberals are the most compassionate of people, would try to scuttle Santorum’s candidacy by insinuating that he was some sort of monster who encouraged his kids to perhaps toss their brother around like a Frisbee.
However you may feel about what the parents did, and whether or not you would have done the same thing in their tragic circumstances, I think we can all agree that Colmes, in his snide comments, proved that his inner self is even more vile than the smirking skull he presents to the world.
It also bears noting that while Colmes sheds crocodile tears over the plight of little Gabriel, in keeping with liberal hypocrisy he insists the government continue funding Planned Parenthood’s efforts to abort 350,000 babies a year.
Finally, according to the Mayan Calendar, the world is supposed to come to an apocalyptic end on December 21st. I am of two minds about the prediction. On the one hand, I’d hate to think that I might never see another Christmas or another birthday. On the other hand, if, by some awful turn of events or through some political skullduggery, Obama actually gets himself re-elected on November 6th, the end couldn’t come soon enough for me.
The LAT amuses with a big feature on Ed Schultz, MSNBC’s mad-dog liberal talker. The gist is that he’s successful.
Schultz, however, isn’t content with anemic ratings. He’s presenting himself as the one true advocate for the working man. On the air and in promotional spots, he reminds viewers that he’s standing up for the unemployed and the middle class.
Which is ignorant because liberal policies are in large part responsible for middle class woes.
“They’re appealing to the anxious worker and to the middle class and to the liberal constituency,” Jamieson said.
Ratings suggest the tactic is working. This year through early February, Schultz’s nightly viewership has averaged 608,000, a 60% increase from his ratings during the same period in 2010, according to Nielsen. He’s surpassed Cooper, who airs in the same time slot, though he has more than a million fewer viewers than O’Reilly, who also airs at 8 p.m.
Let’s go to the numbers for January 2012:
The O’Reilly Factor: 2,934,000
The Ed Show: 860,000
So, yes, that is more than a million, 2,074,000 to be exact.