Category: budget

Politics and Policy: Does it Matter Who’s Driving?

By , March 13, 2012 3:09 pm

The following paragraph in a post on caught my eye today:

This is a good time for a disclaimer-Some people might call me right of the right wing when it comes to personal views and voting. When it comes to trading, politics absolutely need[s] to be put aside. I take a pragmatic view of things and never confuse politics with policy.

Which, in turn, reminded me of one of my posts that had the following poll result:

Which brings me back to the claims in the first post I referred to: “When it comes to trading, politics absolutely needs to be put aside.” I get TheMacroTrader’s point: when creating policy, we need to operate from facts. But remove all politics from the equation? I’m not so sure about that proposition. Remove all politics, and any sane person would vote for Romney, based on the poll result I posted above. But the fact is that all kinds of considerations enter into virtually all of our decisions. In the case of Romney, many won’t vote for him because of his stand on abortion, but they’d be happy to have him managing their financial affairs. Likewise, facts can only tell us so much about oil: that we’ve probably passed peak oil; that many reasons other than Obama account for the recent rise in the price of gas; etc. But then there’s this in that post:

T Boone Pickens is not lying when he says that every President since Nixon has declared that we will be energy independent and then has proceeded to do nothing.

Is this time different? Will one of the candidates–including our current President–step up and do something? And so we’re back to politics.

All You Need to Know to Know There’s a Big Problem on the Horizon

By , March 12, 2012 2:02 pm

“New York City’s annual pension contributions have increased to $8 billion from $1.5 billion over the past decade.”

Affordable Care Act: It’s About Power, and It Always Has Been

By , June 8, 2011 3:23 pm

Ilya Shapiro nails it, and apparently, so did the judges of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Obamacare–the Affordable Care Act–is and always has been about power. Washington wants is. The people, at least people like me, don’t want to give it to them.

As the lawyer representing 26 states against the federal government said, “The whole reason we do this is to protect liberty.” With those words, former solicitor general Paul Clement reached the essence of the Obamacare lawsuits. With apologies to Joe Biden, this is a big deal not because we’re dealing with a huge reorganization of the health care industry, but because our most fundamental first principle is at stake: we limit government power so people can live their lives the way they want.

This legal process is not an academic exercise to map the precise contours of the Commerce Clause or Necessary and Proper Clause — or even to vindicate our commitment to federalism or judicial review. No, all of these worthy endeavors are just means to achieve the goal of maximizing human freedom and flourishing. Indeed, that is the very reason the government exists in the first place.

And the 11th Circuit judges saw that. Countless times, Judges Dubina and Marcus demanded that the government articulate constitutional limiting principles to the power it asserted. And countless times they pointed out that never in history has Congress tried to compel people to engage in commerce as a means of regulating commerce.

In case anybody cares, I feel the same way about Climate Change. Even conceding that the globe is warming, I’m not willing to kneel before the would-be climate demigods, certainly not before them move from their Mount Olympus mansions and give up their jets. Yes, Al, I’m talking about you.

What We Need Then Are More Affordable Care Act Waivers, Right?

By , June 6, 2011 1:05 pm

In October last year, Obama granted McDonald’s and 28 other firms waivers from having to comply with his Affordable Care Act. With that in mind, consider the following.

Prior to the release of the May jobs report, Morgan Stanley, according to MarketWatch, estimated that McDonald’s would account for roughly half the jobs created in May 2011.

Morgan Stanley estimates McDonald’s hiring will boost the overall number by 25,000 to 30,000. The Labor Department won’t detail an exact McDonald’s figure — they won’t identify any company they survey — but there will be data in the report to give a rough estimate.

In fact, total private-sector employment grew by 83,000 in May. Thus IF Morgan Stanley was right, Mickey D’s was responsible for as much as 36% of the private sector jobs created last week. (If you use the total non-farm payroll, which includes government jobs, job growth was even weaker at just 54,000; thus, Mickey D’s could have accounted for up to 55% of new jobs.)

In any case, job growth was weak in May, and McDonald’s probably created a large number of those jobs; thus, logic compels the following question: Should Obama grant waivers to all businesses?

Who Are You Going to Believe?

By , May 25, 2011 10:58 am

The weasely, lying fear mongers?

Or the person who actually takes the time to lay out the facts?

This Money Is Apparently Not Paying Attention To Those Mouths

By , May 17, 2011 9:39 am

The talking heads have had nothing good to say about Mitt Romney lately, and especially since his healthcare speech in Michigan last week. Are his backers not paying attention? What do they see that the talking heads don’t?

The Lessons Are Obvious . . . to Some

By , May 14, 2011 2:42 pm

So what does a 51 foot-high floodgate in Japan have to do with our $14.377 trillion dollar debt? Do I really have to explain?

The more important question is who is going to step up and be our Mayor Kotaku Wamura? There’s a surfeit of poseurs. Who’s the real thing?

Baghdad Bobbette

By , April 18, 2011 10:19 am

Standard & Poor’s just shot a big gun across the bow of our ship of state, warning of

a “material risk” the nation’s leaders will fail to deal with rising budget deficits and debt.

At least one player in the government bond market agrees:

“It’s truly a shot across the bow and a message to Washington, which has been clowning around on this and playing politics when they should toss ideology aside and focus on achievement,” said David Ader, head of government bond strategy at CRT Capital Group LLC in Stamford, Connecticut. “The bond market is still trying to find out what to make of it. People don’t know what to do. If you sell Treasuries, what do you go in to? No one knows.”

So what’s Treasury’s response?

Treasury Assistant Secretary Mary Miller said today that S&P’s outlook on the U.S. credit rating “underestimates” U.S. leadership.

We believe S&P’s negative outlook underestimates the ability of America’s leaders to come together to address the difficult fiscal challenges facing the nation,” Miller [NKA Baghdad Bobbette] said in a statement. (emphasis supplied)

Our debt may becoming more expensive, but this response is priceless.

UPDATE: As Barry Ritholtz’s post at The Big Picture reminded me, the S&P is very late with its take on this party, a party Bill Gross walked out of over a month ago.

He’s Baaaaack! And So Is His Cheer Squad!

By , April 17, 2011 6:07 pm

Barack Obama is back, and the press–in the person of Jonathan Alter–is carrying his water, again. In a column titled Republican Horror Movie Sequel Hits Theaters Alter breathlessly warns Republicans to

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

And why? Because of that speech BO gave last this week at George Washington University. You know, the one universally panned as not serious, awful, presidential politicking at its worst? Yeah, that one.

So why is Alter experiencing that special tingle? Well, for one, BO’ s a great story teller. I agree, but then I’m thinking of story in the sense that the man says whatever is to hand, whether it’s true or not. When his lips move, well, my antennae go up. I don’t think that’s what Alter meant.

The other think that’s ginned up the good columnist is that idea that

Most important, the president stressed the fundamental American values of fairness and compassion.

In other words, we’re back to Joe the Plumber talk–redistribution.

A highlight of Alter’s piece for me was his admission that Democrats are given to demagoguery. In taking his swipes at Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, Alter writes,

Older, independent voters that Republicans won in 2010 will despise the Ryan plan once it filters down to them. A Democratic war cry of “They’re killing Medicare!” isn’t demagoguery this time. It’s true.

No, in fact it’s not true and Democratic talk like this continues to be demagoguery, especially given the fact that they refuse to offer a plan of their own with any specifics in it. Exactly how would they deal with Medicaid and Medicare, plans that Alter in one breathe says are “wildly popular” yet “must be reformed”?

As he admits, we’ll get no help from the Annointed One.

The president offered few specifics about how to save $4 trillion over 12 years beyond letting the tax cuts for wealthy expire in late 2012. That won’t be enough. But teeing up tax cuts for the rich as a campaign issue will clearly help the Democrats, as it did in 2008.

Yeah, that should scare Republicans. Drag out the hoary ghost of campaigns past, the “tax cuts for the wealthy” meme. If this is BO’s game, it brings to mind this game:

He’ll not win this time, not throwing like that. I’m not sure our fawning press will manage to carry that ball over the plate.

The Men (Women and Children) Behind the Curtain

By , April 11, 2011 8:10 am

Or as Pogo might say,

Today in The Washington Post,
Robert Samuelson writes,

We in America have [elected a] suicidal [president]; the threatened federal shutdown and stubborn budget deficits are but symptoms. By suicidal, I mean that [president] has promised more than [he] can realistically deliver and, as a result, repeatedly disappoints by providing less than people expect or jeopardizing what they already have.

Okay, so I changed a few things, the word president for the word government, for example. Or the word elected for the word created. But Samuelson could have written what I’ve posted and still have been right. Right?

Anyway, he actually says that our suicidal government is so in part because

[We] depend on it for so much that any effort to change the status arouses a firestorm of opposition that virtually ensures defeat.

Why is that? Surprise of surprises, because

The Census Bureau reports that in 2009 almost half (46.2 percent) of the 300 million Americans received at least one federal benefit: 46.5 million, Social Security; 42.6 million, Medicare; 42.4 million, Medicaid; 36.1 million, food stamps; 3.2 million, veterans’ benefits; 12.4 million, housing subsidies. The census list doesn’t include tax breaks. Counting those, perhaps three-quarters or more of Americans receive some sizable government benefit. For example, about 22 percent of taxpayers benefit from the home mortgage interest deduction and 43 percent from the preferential treatment of employer-provided health insurance, says the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Kind of makes you lose hope that things are going to change.

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