Apparently Democrats think that it is "disparaging" to call Obama's health care law "Obamacare"

This is pretty remarkable. This shows that they believe that their health care law is unpopular and they don't want the president so closely linked to it.

After two House Republicans called it "ObamaCare," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) asked the chairman whether these "disparaging" remarks should be allowed on the House floor.

"That is a disparaging reference to the president of the United States; it is meant as a disparaging reference to the president of the United States, and it is clearly in violation of the House rules against that," she said.

Because Wasserman Schultz only asked if it would be appropriate to curb the use of the term "ObamaCare," the chairman said he would not rule on a hypothetical. But he did urge members to "refrain from engaging in personalities or descriptions about personalities in general."

The indirect warning had no effect on Republicans. Rep. Denny Rehberg (Mont.), who sponsored the amendment to defund the law, said he refers to it as ObamaCare and said, "You would think he wants his name attached to his signature legislation." . . .

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Kindle books being pirated

Something authors are not going to be very happy about. The story is available here.

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What congressional debate was meant to look like

A more open process probably also means that fewer bills will get passed.

It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t on schedule and it wasn’t the least bit predictable.
But it was pure Boehner.
Long before he took the reins of the House Jan. 5, Boehner began promising that he would bring the House back to its more freewheeling roots. Over five days, there was confusion — even mayhem — on the floor as freshmen learned the legislative process and veterans dusted off their debating skills. . . .
Even some veteran Democrats praised what was the most open and sprawling floor fight the House had seen in years.
“After as little openness as we’ve had, it’s a very big change. It’s refreshing, and I think it’s a good thing,” said Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the dean of the House and a member of Congress since 1955. “We’ll see whether the members like it.” . . .

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"57% of Voters Favor Repeal of Health Care Law, 38% Opposed"

Rasmussen Reports has this:

Most voters continue to strongly favor repeal of the national health care law and they’re evenly divided as to whether the new law will force them to change insurance coverage.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% of Likely Voters at least somewhat favor repeal of the health care law while 38% are at least somewhat opposed. Those figures include 45% who Strongly Favor repeal and 31% who Strongly Oppose repeal. . . .


A picture from my recent trip to Hawaii

While I was giving a couple of talks at the University of Hawaii and making other appearances, I did take a brief trip outside and this is one of the amazing views that I saw. Click on the picture to make it bigger.


Governor Walker puts Obama in his place over advice on how to deal with Wisconsin's deficit

The WSJ has this.

Mr. Walker also bristled at comments by President Barack Obama that his bill "seems like more of an assault" on unions. "When your budget is fixed, you can stick your nose in ours," Mr. Walker said. "But in the meantime, let us fix our budget the way we said we were going to." . . .


Geithner says that Deficits are unsustainable under President's plan

Sen. Jeff Sessions: “…Under your budget, the interest increases each year. It was $187 billion in 2009, under your proposal it increases to $844 billion”

Treasury Tim Geithner: “Senator, absolutely, it is an excessively high interest burden, it’s unsustainable”

Sessions: “Well it’s your plan. That’s the plan the President submitted.”

Geithner: “You’re absolutely right that with the president’s plan, even if Congress were to enact it, and even if Congress were to hold to it and reduce those deficits to three percent of GDP over the next five years, we would still be left with a very large interest burden and unsustainable obligations over time”

Sessions: “It’s not acceptable. I’m sorry, but that’s not a plan for winning the future, that’s a plan for losing the future…”

Remember headlines such as this in early 2009? "President Barack Obama's pledge to cut deficit in half a huge challenge" or "Obama vows to cut huge deficit in half" These were promises for the 2013 budget. The projected budget deficit now for 2011 is $1.65 trillion. So much for the deficit getting smaller over time.

The White House projected Monday that the federal deficit would spike to $1.65 trillion in the current fiscal year, the largest dollar amount ever, adding pressure on Democrats and Republicans to tackle growing levels of debt. . . .

It would equal 10.9% of gross domestic product, the largest deficit as a share of the economy since World War II. . . .

The deficit would decline in fiscal year 2012 to $1.1 trillion, or 7% of gross domestic product, under Mr. Obama's plan, as a year-long payroll tax holiday and an extension of federal jobless benefits expired, administration officials said. By 2017, the budget plan says, the deficit would be shaved to $627 billion, or 3% of gross domestic product. . . .

At $1.65 trillion, the administration's projection for the 2011 deficit is significantly larger than the $1.48 trillion estimated by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office a few weeks ago. In fiscal year 2010, the deficit was $1.29 trillion. . . .

So one question is why isn't Obama really cutting spending? One possibility is that he just wants to make any Republican cut seem excessive. Possibly someone such as Obama confidant Cass Sunstein would argue for framing the issue. Making the gap between the Republicans and Democrats larger might be Obama's way of limiting the size of Republican cuts. Let's put it this way: how can $61 billion in budget cuts from a $1.65 trillion in deficit be extreme and result in forcing a budget shutdown? That is just a 3.69 % cut in the deficit. WIth $3.729 trillion in spending, this cut represents just a 1.6% cut in spending. (The White House puts the spending at $3.819 trillion.) All this concern about cuts is occurring despite the Federal government having grown by about 28 percent from 2008 to 2011 (netting out TARP and FDIC payments).

The Washington Post describes these cuts as: "House approves dramatic cuts in federal spending in 235-189 vote."

USA Today says: "House votes for big cuts in government spending."

The Associated Press: "House Passes Sweeping Cuts to Domestic Programs"

The Washington Examiner: "House vote to slash budget could lead to government shutdown"

The Economist: "Outrageous Cuts"

Of course, the $53 billion that Obama wants to put into high speed trains would almost completely offset these "dramatic cuts."

Look at the rhetoric over the shutdown.

Geithner said that the cuts would "undermine and damage our capacity to create jobs and expand the economy."

From CNN:
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the influential Democratic message man, labeled the cuts "extreme ideas."

From the LA Times: "But the vote, coming after 4:30 a.m. Eastern time following an all-night session, set the House on a collision course with Senate Democrats and the Obama administration. Both camps have dismissed the House package as extreme, especially with the economy still on such uncertain footing."

"A government shutdown would be a disaster for our nation and for our economy," Boxer said in a statement.
"It is our job to work together for the good of the American people, and that's why I call on my Republican colleagues to take the government shutdown option off the table," Boxer said. . . .

The claim is that because the Republicans are trying to cut government spending by 1.6% they are forcing the government to be shutdown.

Republican Speaker John Boehner has even refused to rule out a government shutdown if Republicans don’t get the spending cuts they want. . . .

Part of the anger is that some of the programs are being cut a lot more than 1 percent: "the measure cuts the Environmental Protection Agency's funding by a third." But that is after a nearly 50 percent increase in the EPA budget between 2008 and 2011.

Perhaps then it is not too surprising that Americans don't hold Geithner in high esteem.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is at the heart of the Obama administration's decisions about the economy, the issue voters consistently rate as most important, but more than one-third of voters now say they don't know enough about him to venture an opinion of the longtime government official.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 24% of Likely U.S. Voters have at least a somewhat favorable view of Geithner, consistent with surveys for the past two years. Forty percent (40%) have an unfavorable opinion of him. These findings include six percent (6%) who view Geithner Very Favorably and 23% who regard him Very Unfavorably. But 36% have no opinion of the powerful Cabinet secretary. . . .



Want a free pass from the police to deal drugs? Be a snitch.

So would legalizing drugs increase crime? That seems to be the implicit claim here because after all if drugs were legalized dealers wouldn't need to snitch. Supposedly what drug dealers do isn't as bad as what they are snitching on so if they didn't snitch things would get worse, right? I guess that I have my doubts.

In 1998, I was a community lawyer in inner-city Baltimore and taught an after-school law class for neighborhood kids. One evening, a boy of about 12 said something that would change my thinking forever.
"I got a question," he said, leaning forward intently. "Police let dealers stay on the corner 'cuz they snitching. Is that legal? I mean, can the police do that?" When I explained that they could, he and his friends slumped down in disgust. "That ain't right!" and "The police ain't doing their jobs!" they exclaimed. "So all you gotta do is snitch," another concluded, "and you can keep on dealing." . . .

Thanks to Nikki for alerting me to this article.

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Phantom gun control claims over the holes in the NICS background check system

The claims that states aren't providing information to Federal government for some who are denied buying guns might just be made up claims.

Washington is one of 11 states that have energetically complied with a three-year-old federal statute requiring states to provide the National Instant Check System (NICS) with the names of people who are mentally ill and thus disqualified from purchasing firearms.

Several other states have at least partly complied with the requirement, according to a review by the Associated Press, but more than half of the states – and there are some surprises on the list – have not complied and nine of those states have provided no information at all.

Buried in the text of the Associated Press story is this notation: “gun control groups have estimated more than 1 million files are missing nationwide.” There is no attribution, and no elaboration. The story does not say which groups believe this, or why. There is no reference at all.

This is how myths are created, much like the demonstrably false assertion that 80 percent of the guns (or whatever figure someone decides to use) recovered in Mexico’s drug war are being traced back to the United States. . . .

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My Friend Jack Calfee passes away

The announcement of his untimely death at age 70 is available here. Jack was a great guy and I always enjoyed talking to him over the years.


One way to raise the cost of food to college students

Guess what. When the marginal cost of food is zero students waste huge amounts of food. Rather than putting a price on the food, colleges are trying to raise the cost of students carrying away the food.

When Virginia Tech's largest dining hall reopened several years ago, some administrators jokingly dubbed it the "freshman 25" cafeteria, for the number of pounds some students might gain from the tasty fare.

Students loaded their trays with Belgian waffles, brick-oven-baked pizza, falafel, Brazilian skewered meat, pad Thai, fruit juice concoctions and elaborate desserts - so much food that even the biggest of guys with the biggest of appetites could not always clean their plates.

As food service workers watched thousands of pounds of food go to waste, the university decided to make a move increasingly common at higher-education institutions nationwide: It got rid of cafeteria trays.

The change was immediate. "The plates were coming back basically cleaned," said Ted J. Faulkner, Tech's senior associate director of housing and dining services. "It was astounding."

Most schools in the Washington region have gone "trayless" in at least one dining hall, and several nationwide have banned them altogether.

But perhaps inevitably, there has been a backlash - in part because cafeteria trays had alternative lives as sleds and collegiate souvenirs. When the University of Massachusetts at Amherst got rid of trays in several dining halls last academic year, a group of students formed a "Bring back the trays" Facebook group. One argument posted on the group wall: "What will we use for sleds now?"

Without a tray, students have to be pickier during the first sweep of the cafeteria line and make trips back for more. It results in as much as 25 to 30 percent less wasted food, according to a 2008 study of 25 campuses by food services provider Aramark.

"It's a better pace. You have to get up and walk it off" in between courses, said Cody Erickson, 20, a junior horticulture major from Sandy Spring, sitting with a small pile of cleaned-off lunch plates in Virginia Tech's D2 dining hall last week. . . .


Public school teachers in Wisconsin on massive work stopage

Boy can you imagine the horrors of making public school teachers pay the same share of their retirement contributions as everyone else.

Dozens of schools closed as a result of high absences as thousands of protesters, including students and teachers, marched on the Capitol building to demand state lawmakers strike down a bill that would require union concessions worth $30 million by July 1 and $300 million over the next two years.

The bill, which also bans collective bargaining rights for teachers, requires educators to contribute 5.8 percent to their pensions and 12.6 percent to their health care. Currently, educators pay 0.2 percent for their pensions and 4 to 6 percent of their health care costs. . . .

At the same time Americans’ support for unions dropped to the lowest levels since 1985, with just 42 percent of Americans saying they had favorable views of unions.

Favorable views of labor unions have plummeted since 2007, amid growing public skepticism about unions’ purpose and power. Currently, 41% say they have a favorable opinion of labor unions while about as many (42%) express an unfavorable opinion. In January 2007, a clear majority (58%) had a favorable view of unions while just 31% had an unfavorable impression.

The latest nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Feb. 3-9 among 1,383 adults reached on cell phones and landlines, finds that favorable opinions of unions have fallen across demographic and partisan groups. Still, far more Democrats have favorable views of unions (56%) than do independents (38%) or Republicans (29%). . . .

One can see possibly why the Republican state legislators were sent home for their own safety here.



So how big has the Federal government really gotten?

Remember that LBJ created the Great Society programs for the Federal government. This CNS News article is interesting, but they really need to adjust for inflation and growth in population.

Anyone who doubts that the trend toward socialism is pushing America toward ruin should examine the historical tables President Obama published Monday along with his $3.7 trillion budget.
In fiscal 2011, according to these tables, the Department of Health and Human Services will spend $909.7 billion. In fiscal 1965, the entire federal government spent $118.228 billion.
What about inflation? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' inflation calculator, $118.228 billion in 1965 dollars equals $822.6 billion in 2010 dollars. In real terms, the $909.7 billion HHS is spending this year is about $87.1 billion more than the entire federal government spent in 1965. . . .

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You have to sympathize with the Obama administration not having their economists testify before congress on Stimulus

I guess that it is up to the media whether this story will go away or not. Presumably if the Obama administration doesn't send a witness they think that the media won't cover the event.

The Obama White House won’t be sending a witness to defend the economic-stimulus package before a House Oversight Committee panel Wednesday.

The committee is holding a hearing on the impact of the stimulus package, which President Barack Obama signed almost two years ago. Testimony will come from a lineup of conservative economists, plus Josh Bivens of the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, who was picked by committee Democrats.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), who is running the hearing, had asked Jared Bernstein and Christina Romer, who played major roles in preparing the package to testify or suggest another witness to represent the White House. Both declined.

Officials volunteered to send witnesses from the Transportation and Commerce departments but the offers were turned down.

Ms. Romer, formerly the head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, returned to her teaching job at the University of California, Berkeley, last year. Mr. Bernstein remains the chief economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.

Republicans say that they plan to use the hearing to examine the effects of the stimulus plan on the economy “and how its results compare to projections made by administration officials.” GOP staff said that they didn’t think that witnesses from individual federal departments would be able to answer these questions. . . .

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I have a talk today at the University of Pacific Law School in Sacramento, Ca at noon.
Tomorrow I give an interview on the Rick Hamada show at 7:00 AM for an hour and then a lunch time talk at the University of Hawaii Law School Federalist Society. On Wednesday I give a talk at the Hawaii Pacific University and then tape a TV interview. Another talk on Thursday at the University of Hawaii Law School or faculty.

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Prediction: Massive increase in Unemployment When the February Government Numbers are Released

This diagram shows that the Gallup measure bounces around a lot more than the Government's measure of unemployment, but they are positively correlated and more interestingly the government's measure lags Gallup's. The Government's survey is done the middle of each month and if you move the government's estimates forward by 14 days, the charts line up a little better. My prediction is that you are likely to see one hell of an increase in unemployment when the February numbers are released next month.


So what does the Israeli Stock Market think of events in Egypt?

I was surprised that there wasn't more of a change in the Tel Aviv stock market with the events in Israel. Sure the stock market has fallen from its recent peak, but it is still only down about 3.3 percent. Now I assume that there could be further changes that could make a real impact on stock prices. If the military gives control to the Muslim Brotherhood, you might then see a real big change. But whether the stock market doesn't think that will happen or whether it is likely but not of great consequence, the stock market seems to think that it won't make very much difference.

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ABA doesn't like competition between lawyers for business, nix that advertising

At least in North Carolina (and I presume many other states), the ABA has released a finding that advertising through Groupon is an ethics violation.

Groupon is known for its great deals on everything from restaurant meals to oil changes, but can it ethically be used by law firms seeking new business?

An ethics subcommittee of the North Carolina State Bar will be considering the issue, according to assistant ethics counsel Suzanne Lever. She tells the ABA Journal the matter was sent to the subcommittee at a meeting Thursday.

Groupon allows consumers to pay one price up front for a service that is more valuable. A restaurant, for example, may offer a $50 meal for $25 that is paid immediately. One law firm that used Groupon, the Law Offices of Craig S. Redler & Associates in St. Louis, offered to provide a will and durable power of attorney for $99. . . .

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The NY Times compares Obama's 10 year reduction in spending to just one year of that change by Republicans

From the New York Times:

President Obama, who is proposing his third annual budget on Monday, will say that it can reduce projected deficits by $1.1 trillion over the next decade, enough to stabilize the nation’s fiscal health and buy time to address its longer-term problems, according to a senior administration official. . . .

The administration readily concedes, even boasts, that the president will not win any race to outcut Republicans. In the House, Republicans are trying to slash up to $100 billion in the current fiscal year alone before they begin writing their own proposed budget for 2012 and beyond. But the administration contends that its plan would leave the country in better overall fiscal health than the path Republicans envision. . . .

Half way through the article they finally note:

House Republicans will begin work on a 2012 budget after they finish trying to shrink current spending. But their proposed $100 billion cut for this fiscal year, already four months old, would translate over a decade into more than $1 trillion in deficit reductions, budget analysts say. . . .

So how are the two proposals different? After reading that the Republican proposal is draconian, the NY Times makes it look like they are actually cutting a similar amount. Fox News at least has a reaction from the Republicans.

House Republicans' top budget planner said Sunday that President Obama's soon-to-be-unveiled budget proposal does not appear to go far enough in cutting back spending over the long term.
"Borrowing and spending is not the way to prosperity," Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday." . . .