Much of the media fails to alert readers and listeners to Media Matters' political biases

Much of the media refers to Media Matters for America as a completely objective source to evaluate media coverage. Looking through news reports since the beginning of June finds some outlets alert readers to Media Matters' biases. For example, The Hill newspaper writes: "the liberal group Media Matters." The NY Times notes: "liberal watchdog group Media Matters." Other comments at CNN, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, public radio station WFPL, and Media Bistro are the same.

On the other hand, other media outlets don't warn readers or listeners of any biases: Politico (here and here), the Washington Post's Salon, Discover magazine, Foreign Policy, MSNBC, Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Miami Herald, and not very surprisingly AOL's Huffington Post. While I have tried to be inclusive pointing to all the media stories that I have found, the one exception is that I have excluded obviously left wing media outlets such as Mother Jones. Outside the United States you have the UK Guardian.

Labels: ,

The Obama administration's weak arguments on Obamacare

Is this really the type of argument that the Obama administration wants on the record? From the Washington Examiner:

During the Sixth Circuit arguments, Judge Jeffrey Sutton, who was nominated by President George W. Bush, asked Kaytal if he could name one Supreme Court case which considered the same question as the one posed by the mandate, in which Congress used the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution as a tool to compel action.

Kaytal conceded that the Supreme Court had “never been confronted directly” with the question, but cited the Heart of Atlanta Motel case as a relevant example. In that landmark 1964 civil rights case, the Court ruled that Congress could use its Commerce Clause power to bar discrimination by private businesses such as hotels and restaurants.

“They’re in the business,” Sutton pushed back. “They’re told if you’re going to be in the business, this is what you have to do. In response to that law, they could have said, ‘We now exit the business.’ Individuals don’t have that option.”

Kaytal responded by noting that the there's a provision in the health care law that allows people to avoid the mandate.

“If we’re going to play that game, I think that game can be played here as well, because after all, the minimum coverage provision only kicks in after people have earned a minimum amount of income,” Kaytal said. “So it’s a penalty on earning a certain amount of income and self insuring. It’s not just on self insuring on its own. So I guess one could say, just as the restaurant owner could depart the market in Heart of Atlanta Hotel, someone doesn’t need to earn that much income. I think both are kind of fanciful and I think get at…”

Sutton interjected, “That wasn’t in a single speech given in Congress about this...the idea that the solution if you don’t like it is make a little less money.” . . .


Palin's emails show that she was far from being a Republican Partisan while governor

The LA Times has this:

Even as her name was floated as a potential national political figure, Palin maintained a combative stance against her own party. In early August 2008 — just weeks before she joined the GOP ticket — the governor cautioned her staff that "we need to remember the GOP, for the most part ... has not had any support or assistance provided our administration so our time and efforts will continue to be spent on serving Alaskans, not party politics." . . .

The emails also reveal her tense relations with members of her home-state congressional delegation. Her suggestion that Alaska's then-Sen. Ted Stevens needed to explain his role in a corruption scandal upset other Republican leaders, including Rep. Don Young. . . .

CNN described Palin as a hard working governor, who wanted the press to go after her and not her staff.


Goolsbee claims that deficit "not materially worse" under Obama

What can one say about this? Even after the bailout passed in late 2008, Obama was accurately saying that the deficit was up to about $455 billion. What is it now? $1.65 trillion? Goolsbee must have a strange definition of "materially."

The moderator, Bob Schieffer, of the third debate put it this way: "We found out yesterday that this year's deficit will reach an astounding record high $455 billion."

Labels: ,

New EPA Regulations will cost $180 billion, increase unemployment, and raise costs

This is just an example of Obama's policies creating chaos in the economy. The jobs will eventually come back even if at a lower pay rate, but in the interim these new costs will eliminate jobs in some parts of the economy. From US News & World Report:

Two new EPA pollution regulations will slam the coal industry so hard that hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost, and electric rates will skyrocket 11 percent to over 23 percent, according to a new study based on government data.

Overall, the rules aimed at making the air cleaner could cost the coal-fired power plant industry $180 billion, warns a trade group. . . .

Labels: ,

Red light cameras losing money

ABC News has this.

The [Los Angeles] Police Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday calling for an end to the traffic cameras, claiming their costly presence does not actually make streets safer. The decision still has to be approved by the City Council, but according to Councilman Dennis Zine, the move was a right one.

"The program has many flaws," he told ABCNews.com. He said that Los Angeles loses about $1 million annually to keep the cameras up. Tickets which are issued cost drivers about $500, but for each ticket the city receives less than $150, he said. . . .

More than 500 U.S. communities have employed the use of red-light cameras, but some have also been unplugging the cameras lately.

In November of last year, Houston residents voted for an end to the cameras. In Anaheim, Calif., that same month, residents there overwhelmingly voted against having the cameras. . . .


45% of net US Job Creation during recovery from just Texas

From the WSJ:

Richard Fisher, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, dropped by our offices this week and relayed a remarkable fact: Some 37% of all net new American jobs since the recovery began were created in Texas. Mr. Fisher's study is a lesson in what works in economic policy—and it is worth pondering in the current 1.8% growth moment.

Using Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, Dallas Fed economists looked at state-by-state employment changes since June 2009, when the recession ended. Texas added 265,300 net jobs, out of the 722,200 nationwide, and by far outpaced every other state. New York was second with 98,200, Pennsylvania added 93,000, and it falls off from there. Nine states created fewer than 10,000 jobs, while Maine, Hawaii, Delaware and Wyoming created fewer than 1,000. Eighteen states have lost jobs since the recovery began.

The data are even more notable because they're calculated on a "sum of states" basis, which the BLS does not use because they can have sampling errors. Using straight nonfarm payroll employment, Texas accounts for 45% of net U.S. job creation. Modesty is not typically considered a Texas virtue, but the results speak for themselves.

Texas is also among the few states that are home to more jobs than when the recession began in December 2007. The others are North Dakota, Alaska and the District of Columbia. If that last one sounds like an outlier at first, remember the government boom of the Obama era, which has helped loft D.C. payrolls 18,000 jobs above the pre-crisis status quo. Even so, Texas is up 30,800. . . .


Very nice article on Michele Bachmann in the WSJ

You can read the article here.

Ms. Bachmann is best known for her conservative activism on issues like abortion, but what I want to talk about today is economics. When I ask who she reads on the subject, she responds that she admires the late Milton Friedman as well as Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams. "I'm also an Art Laffer fiend—we're very close," she adds. "And [Ludwig] von Mises. I love von Mises," getting excited and rattling off some of his classics like "Human Action" and "Bureaucracy." "When I go on vacation and I lay on the beach, I bring von Mises."

As we rush from her first-floor digs in the Cannon House Office Building to the House floor so she can vote, I ask for her explanation of the 2008 financial meltdown. "There were a lot of bad actors involved, but it started with the Community Reinvestment Act under Jimmy Carter and then the enhanced amendments that Bill Clinton made to force, in effect, banks to make loans to people who lacked creditworthiness. If you want to come down to a bottom line of 'How did we get in the mess?' I think it was a reduction in standards."

She continues: "Nobody wanted to say, 'No.' The implicit and then the explicit guarantees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were sopping up the losses. Being on the Financial Services Committee, I can assure you, all roads lead to Freddie and Fannie."

Ms. Bachmann voted against the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) "both times," she boasts, and she has no regrets . . . .



How hard is it to catch campaign donors who give money in other people's names?

It would seem pretty difficult to catch these types of violations. You would almost need one of those involved to come forward with a complaint. I wonder what percentage of these violations are caught, but it could be very small.

A wealthy donor to high-profile Democrats, including Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to charges he made illegal campaign contributions.

Delaware liquor executive Christopher Tigani faced two counts of willfully making campaign contributions in the names of others — a violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act — and two counts of making false statements on his tax returns, according to court documents unsealed in U.S. District Court in Delaware on Thursday. . . .


Obama administration caught hiding information in effort to shut down the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility

So much for their support for nuclear power. Obama's appointee to head the Nuclear Regulatory Commission got caught hiding data.

The U.S.'s top nuclear-power regulator "strategically" withheld information from his colleagues in an effort to stop work on a controversial proposed waste dump, according to a report by the agency's internal watchdog, a finding likely to inflame debate about how to handle the nation's nuclear waste.

The June 6 report by Nuclear Regulatory Commission Inspector General Hubert T. Bell offers an unflattering portrait of the NRC and its leader, Gregory Jaczko, who is described as having a temper that makes it "difficult for people to work with him."

At issue is a directive by Mr. Jaczko to agency staffers that effectively halted work on a key NRC report about a proposed waste repository at Nevada's Yucca Mountain. The inspector general alleges that Mr. Jaczko wasn't forthcoming with his fellow NRC commissioners about the implications of his directive.

The report, which is expected to be circulated on Capitol Hill on Friday, finds no evidence that Mr. Jaczko broke any laws in moving to halt the NRC's work on Yucca Mountain—a point Mr. Jaczko stressed in a written statement responding to the report. . . .


Appearance on Fox News: Bernanke Can't Deny Obama's 'Recovery' is Bad

Labels: ,

Companies leaving Illinois due to higher corporate income taxes


Senator Jeff Sessions explains to CNN Host why just spending more isn't the solution



When politicians don't understand how contracts work

Frank-Dodd is doing huge damage to the economy. If you want one simple example, here is a piece in today's WSJ.

Last summer, Congressman Barney Frank and then-Senator Chris Dodd stayed up all night writing new rules for America's multitrillion-dollar derivatives markets. The reforms were sold as punishment for Wall Street, but Main Street woke up to new regulations that are giving corporate treasurers headaches. Now all market participants could be suffering from a wicked legislative hangover come July 16.

According to the Dodd-Frank law, that's the day when the old legal regime for so-called swaps contracts must expire. As the name implies, swaps are contracts in which two parties agree to exchange, say, a fixed interest rate for a floating one, or an obligation to pay in dollars for a commitment to pay in euros. The use of such products has exploded as companies try to reduce their financial risks while focusing on their core business. Caterpillar wants to spend its time making bulldozers, for example, rather than guessing about currency movements in every country where it sells equipment.

But even the regulators now acknowledge that there's no way they will be able by July 16 to finalize all the new rules that are supposed to replace those destroyed by Dodd-Frank. So what happens to all these swap deals? Legal opinions differ on whether parties on the losing side of such contracts will be able to sue and have them declared null and void.

A 2000 law clarified that swaps were not considered futures contracts, which by law must trade on exchanges. But by knocking out the 2000 law and replacing it with nothing, Dodd-Frank made it possible for a judge to rule that over-the-counter swaps are now illegal futures contracts, and therefore invalid. This latest Dodd-Frank gift to the U.S. economy could throw into question all existing swaps trades. The stakes are enormous given that these markets have a notional value of close to $600 trillion. . . .

Labels: ,

Will a Democrat Circuit Court Appointee Declare Obamacare Unconstitutional?

So far whether the judge was appointed by a Democrat or a Republican seems to completely explain how they have voted on Obamacare's mandates. This circuit court case may change that.

All three judges on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals panel questioned whether upholding the landmark law could open the door to Congress adopting other sweeping economic mandates. . . . .
Chief Judge Joel Dubina, who was tapped by Republican President George H.W. Bush, struck early by asking the government's attorney "if we uphold the individual mandate in this case, are there any limits on Congressional power?" Circuit Judges Frank Hull and Stanley Marcus, who were tapped by Democratic President Bill Clinton, echoed his concerns later in the hearing. . . .
Hull also seemed skeptical about the government's claim that the mandate was crucial to covering most of the 50 million or so uninsured Americans. She said the rolls of the uninsured could be pared significantly through other parts of the package, including expanded Medicare discounts for some seniors and a change that makes it easier for those with pre-existing medical conditions to get coverage. Dubina nodded as she spoke.
The appeals court panel, which did not indicate when it would rule, has several options. But Hull and Dubina asked the lawyers on both sides to focus on a particular outcome: What could happen to the overhaul, they asked separately, if the individual mandate were invalidated but the rest of the package were upheld? . . .



Newest Fox News piece: Don't Single Out Standard & Poor's for Being 'Political'

My newest piece starts this way:

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke couldn't deny the obvious in his speech Tuesday in Atlanta. The economy is bad, with Obama’s “recovery” is setting records for being anemic and the unemployment stuck above 9 percent. Almost 5 million Americans have completely given up looking for work and left the labor force since the "recovery" that started in June 2009.
GDP growth the seven quarters into the Obama recovery has averaged an annual rate of only 2.8 percent, a fraction of the 4.6 percent average growth during recoveries since 1970.
And this recovery would have been even worse if the Federal Reserve hasn't been pumping in trillions of newly printed dollars into the economy, with the so-called "Quantitative Easings" 1 and 2. The current round of this injection, QE2, is scheduled to end on June 30th and will end up putting in almost $900 billion ($600 billion from buying government bonds and $280 billion from buying mortgages). But the Bernanke's announcement today of a new round of printing money is bad news. . . .

Labels: ,

Romney Care was supposed to reduce emergency room visits, the opposite happened

Another health care myth bites the dust in Massachusetts.

Contrary to expectations that easier access to primary care would reduce ER use, the total number of ER visits at 11 hospitals increased slightly after reform was implemented -- a pattern similar to that seen in other states.

"There was perhaps a perception that if we could just get people insurance they won't need the ER anymore," said Dr. Peter Smulowitz, the study's lead author from Harvard Medical School in Boston. But, "you cannot ever redirect every visitor, perhaps even the majority of visitors, away from the ER," he told Reuters Health.

Estimates have shown that the state's reform was successful in cutting its number of uninsured people by about three quarters.

Supporters of the reforms hoped that insurance would allow people to see a primary care doctor before health problems get serious enough to warrant an ER trip, with the added bonus of easing pressure on crowded emergency departments.

To assume that insuring more people will drastically cut down on the need for emergency care "is a dangerous policy choice," Smulowitz said, partly because there are many different factors that influence statewide use of ERs. . . .


Romney worried about man-made climate change and wants to do something about it

Romney adheres closely to the unscientific liberal line on this.

Labels: ,

Palin knows American History better than her liberal critics

Experts back Sarah Palin’s historical account

Sarah Palin yesterday insisted her claim at the Old North Church last week that Paul Revere “warned the British” during his famed 1775 ride — remarks that Democrats and the media roundly ridiculed — is actually historically accurate. And local historians are backing her up.

Palin prompted howls of partisan derision when she said on Boston’s Freedom Trail that Revere “warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms by ringing those bells and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.”

Palin insisted yesterday on Fox News Sunday she was right: “Part of his ride was to warn the British that were already there. That, hey, you’re not going to succeed. You’re not going to take American arms.”

In fact, Revere’s own account of the ride in a 1798 letter seems to back up Palin’s claim. Revere describes how after his capture by British officers, he warned them “there would be five hundred Americans there in a short time for I had alarmed the Country all the way up.” . . .

Labels: ,

Joyce Foundation is paying Journalists to write gun control news stories

How many gun control news stories can $5,000 buy? Apparently a whole series of news stories in the Columbus Dispatch.

Labels: ,

Illinois Gerrymander may eliminate virtually all congressional Republicans in state

Is it possible that the Democrats have over reached? I hope so. If you go after too many seats, you might lose what should have been solid seats. On the other hand the Dems have made sure that a lot of Republicans have to run against each other. The story is available here.



"Castle doctrine clears two arrested in St. Louis fatal shooting"

If someone breaks into your home and attacks you, how far should you have to retreat before you can fire your gun in self-defense?

Prosecutors have declined charges against two arrested in the shooting death of an intruder in April because they said the killing was justified under Missouri's "castle doctrine" law.
Police arrested a woman, 29, and a man, 37, after the April 6 shooting death of Emmett Terry. Police said Terry broke into his ex-girlfriend's home in the 4600 block of Oregon Avenue and tried to attack her.
Police have said the woman had had a restraining order against Terry.
Authorities say the woman shot and killed Terry, of the 1900 block of Semple Avenue. He died at the scene. . . .

Labels: ,

30% of companies say they’ll stop offering health insurance coverage because of Obamacare

From Market Watch:

Once provisions of the Affordable Care Act start to kick in during 2014, at least three of every 10 employers will probably stop offering health coverage, a survey released Monday shows.

While only 7% of employees will be forced to switch to subsidized-exchange programs, at least 30% of companies say they will “definitely or probably” stop offering employer-sponsored coverage, according to the study published in McKinsey Quarterly.

The survey of 1,300 employers says those who are keenly aware of the health-reform measure probably are more likely to consider an alternative to employer-sponsored plans, with 50% to 60% in this group expected to make a change. It also found that for some, it makes more sense to switch. . . .


Even the Washington Post calls Obama's auto bailout accounting "phony"

Obama claims that only his spending on Chrysler has been paid back. Doesn't take responsibility for money spent at the very end of the Bush administration even though Bush spent the money at Obama's urging. From the Washington Post:

. . . Let’s look at the claims in the order in which the president said them.

“Chrysler has repaid every dime and more of what it owes American taxpayers for their support during my presidency — and it repaid that money six years ahead of schedule. And this week, we reached a deal to sell our remaining stake. That means soon, Chrysler will be 100 percent in private hands.”

Wow, “every dime and more” sounds like such a bargain. Not only did Chrysler pay back the loan, with interest — but the company paid back even more than they owed. Isn’t America great or what?

Not so fast. The president snuck in the weasel words “during my presidency” in his statement. What does that mean?

According to the White House, Obama is counting only the $8.5 billion loan that he made to Chrysler, not the $4 billion that President George W. Bush extended in his last month in office. However, Obama was not a disinterested observer at the time. According to The Washington Post article on the Bush loan, the incoming president called Bush’s action a “necessary step . . . to help avoid a collapse of our auto industry that would have had devastating consequences for our economy and our workers.”

Under the administration’s math, the U.S. government will receive $11.2 billion back from Chrysler, far more than the $8.5 billion Obama extended.

Through this sleight-of-hand accounting, the White House can conveniently ignore Bush’s loan, but even the Treasury Department admits that U.S. taxpayers will not recoup about $1.3 billion of the entire $12.5 billion investment when all is said and done.

The White House justifies not counting the Bush money because, it says, that money was completely spent when Obama was making a tough political decision on whether to extend another loan. In other words, a decision to do nothing at the time would have resulted in the immediate loss of the $4 billion that Bush had extended.

This is chicanery. Under the president’s math, Chrysler paid back 100 percent of Obama’s loan and less than 70 percent of Bush’s loan. A more honest presentation would combine the two figures to say U.S. taxpayers got back 90 percent of what they invested. In fact, that is how the Treasury and other administration officials frequently portray it; it is just when Obama speaks that the numbers get so squishy.

The White House justifies saying that Chrysler will be in 100 percent “in private hands” because there will no longer be government ownership once Fiat completes its purchase of the U.S. stake. For the record, the United Auto Workers will own 46 percent of the company. . . .

Labels: ,

What would the government debt be if they calculated it the way businesses do?

The government notion of debt is really a meaningless concept, it never looks at the obligations that you owe in the future, just how much you have paid out more than you had in the past. Here is an attempt to try to count all those obligations that the Federal government is accumulating.

The government added $5.3 trillion in new financial obligations in 2010, largely for retirement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. That brings to a record $61.6 trillion the total of financial promises not paid for. . . .
The $61.6 trillion in unfunded obligations amounts to $527,000 per household. That's more than five times what Americans have borrowed for everything else — mortgages, car loans and other debt. It reflects the challenge as the number of retirees soars over the next 20 years and seniors try to collect on those spending promises.
"The (federal) debt only tells us what the government owes to the public. It doesn't take into account what's owed to seniors, veterans and retired employees," says accountant Sheila Weinberg, founder of the Institute for Truth in Accounting, a Chicago-based group that advocates better financial reporting. "Without accurate accounting, we can't make good decisions." . . .

Medicare: $24.8 trillionObligation per household: $212,500
Social Security: $21.4 trillionObligation per household: $183,400
Federal debt: $9.4 trillionObligation per household: $79,900
Military retirement/disability benefits: $3.6 trillion
Federal employee retirement benefits: $2 trillionObligation per household: $17,000
State, local government obligations: $5.2 trillionObligation per household: $44,800

Labels: ,

WSJ: "Nearly 40% Who Borrowed Against Homes Are Underwater"

From the WSJ:

Almost 40% of homeowners who took out second mortgages—extracting cash from their residences to cover everything from vacations to medical bills—are underwater on their loans, more than twice the rate of owners who didn't take out such loans.

The finding, in a report to be released Tuesday by real-estate data firm CoreLogic Inc., illustrates the consequences of easy borrowing amid the housing boom's inflated prices. The report says 38% of borrowers who took cash out of their residences using home-equity loans are underwater, or owe more than their home is worth. By contrast, 18% of borrowers who don't have these loans were underwater. . . .


CBS News: "Chronic unemployment worse than Great Depression"

From CBS News:

About 6.2 million Americans, 45.1 percent of all unemployed workers in this country, have been jobless for more than six months - a higher percentage than during the Great Depression. . . .

Nearly 14 million Americans are looking for work

Summer job bummer: Teen unemployment 24 percent


Palin does very good job on Fox News Sunday

Palin does very good job on Fox News Sunday


How the Left Wing Media covered Weinergate

Legal Insurrection has a long list of left wing media claims available here. These screen shots were taken about 9 hours after Weiner's press conference.

Some such as Cannon Fire still don't accept all of Weiner's confession.

The very strained Daily Kos discussion claiming to provide proof that Weiner's twitter account was hacked. As Politico described it: "Breitbart’s seemed to be speaking not just for the last week and a half, during which left-leaning media outlets like the Daily Kos suggested he might have been involved in hacking Weiner’s Twitter account, but for his broader profile in the mainstream media. . . ."

Media Matters attacks Andrew Breitbart's "slander" for daring to discuss the Weiner case here.

Labels: , ,

Pilot using gun to stop hijacking

An old story about how an armed pilot stopped a hijacking. Back from the time when all commercial airline pilots had to carry guns when they flew.

Until now it was largely forgotten, a brief, tragic incident that lay buried in fading newspaper accounts and the memories of only a few, but the shooting of a hijacker by an airline pilot almost 50 years ago has taken on a new significance today.
It occurred shortly before noon on July 6, 1954, when a strapping teen-ager armed with a pistol commandeered an American Airlines DC-6 at the Cleveland Airport, only to be shot and fatally wounded by the captain.
The shooting ended the life of Raymond Kuchenmeister, 15. It made a reluctant hero of the late Capt. William "Bill" Bonnell of Fort Worth . . . .

Thanks to Kansas State Rep. Terri Lois Gregory for the link.



Where are the poor people with pre-existing health conditions?

Last year it looked as if only about 2.5 percent of the predicted number of people with pre-existing conditions were signing up. This was originally sold as a program that those with pre-existing conditions were desperate to get. To encourage more people signing up for the extremely needed insurance, the government cut the prices. "hoping to boost low participation" this year, the government is cutting premiums still further: "cutting premiums in some states by up to 40%."

Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies for the libertarian Cato Institute, said the lack of enrollees shows that the program was never popular to begin with.

"They're giving away health insurance, and people don't want it," he said. . . .

Administration and state officials say the issue is more about money and getting the word out. In fact, in Indiana, where enrollment stood at 177 as of March 1, the changes may not be enough. . . . .

In Nevada, where 147 people had signed up as of March 1 . . . .



Moody's gives thumbs up to Wisconsin credit rating, and warns US of possible downgrade

Moody's warns that the US might default on its interest payments, though I have to confess that there is really no nonpolitical reason for this to happen. I fear that Obama has backed himself into a corner where he has claimed 50 times that failure to raise the debt ceiling will produce a default so he will have to carry through on his promise just to maintain some credibility.

Moody's Investors Service said Thursday there is a very small but rising risk of a short-lived default by the United States if there is no increase in the statutory debt limit in coming weeks. . . .

Meanwhile, there is good news for Wisconsin.

“Or can take a look at austerity measures and… grow your way out of fiscal problems. It is why Moody’s rated Governor Walker’s budget credit positive. . . .


Day that unemployment rate rises to 9.1 percent and Obama administration is advocating $1 trillion in new taxes

Do the Democrats understand the importance of incentives? It would seem not if they are advocating a $1 trillion tax increase. This is at the same time that the Obama administration is saying that they are "trying to leverage the private sector and give incentives" for growth.

Members of the historic class 87-member freshman class were unmoved by Geithner’s insistence that raising nearly $1 trillion in taxes was the answer to the problem; especially since Republicans have stated since the beginning of the heated battle that they would not vote for any debt limit extension if tax increases paid for the difference. . . .

Of course, Austan Goolsbee was out there on all the Sunday morning talk shows saying that Obama was pro-business. Obama's "leverage" approach has been to use government money to get firms to do what he wants them to do.

President Obama intends to employ a strategy going forward to revive America’s private sector and get companies spending again, Goolsbee said.

“This president will enact [policies] to leverage corporate money,” he said, noting that was the impetus behind the Obama administration’s regulatory reform effort.

Several economic experts appearing on Sunday morning shows said U.S. firms are sitting on large stocks of funds, but those corporations are reluctant to begin spending again due to worries about the fragility of the economy. . . .

Obama's message to job creators has been clear. Hire at your own risk. Higher taxes, more burdensome regulation and crony capitalism are here for some time to come.

Labels: ,

Republicans less than convinced by Geithner's push for debt ceiling increase

Can the Democrats really explain why failure to increase the debt limit is so bad? OK, so not increasing the debt limit cuts spending by about one-third in August and September and by about 29 percent for next year.

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), who sat through most of the hour-long meeting, told The Hill that Geithner said “absolutely nothing” to convince him of the urgent need to increase the current $14.3 trillion limit by the August 2 deadline.
If Congress does not raise the borrowing authority for the Treasury secretary by August, Chabot predicted that “we’ll have to reduce the level of spending, which I’m in favor of.”
“It just looks to me like we’re moving towards that [deadline], and the administration just assumes that we’re going to raise it, and they’re sure not going to do it with Republican votes in the House unless there was dramatic changes in the level of spending. And I don’t see this White House being willing to compromise on that,” Chabot said.
In fact, last Tuesday, the House defeated a resolution that would raise the national debt limit by the administration's requested $2.4 trillion without spending cuts or reforms, on a strong bipartisan basis. The resolution failed 97-318. . . .

Geithner didn't exactly produce a lot of credibility when he made obviously false statements.

“There were a lot of groans,” from GOP freshman lawmakers when Geithner told them he didn’t ask for a vote on the doomed resolution, despite the fact that President Obama and Geithner had sent letters to Congress and “made demands” that the legislative branch vote on a clean increase, for months, according to Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.).

Guinta continued, “He backed off on that statement, and he did allude to the fact that that was political in nature. Our response was: ‘no that was not political in nature, you asked for it, the president asked for it, we gave that to you and in a bipartisan fashion Republicans and Democrats said no to a clean raising of the debt ceiling.'” . . .

Labels: ,

Liberals are upset about the victories for vouchers this year

The Left wing "Nation" magazine claims that they know why conservatives support vouchers: "the Friedmanites seem to have concerns that are less about children and good education than about privatization, small government and the blessings of the free market." Apparently left wingers don't understand that the reason some people support the market is that they think that it does a BETTER JOB providing products, including education. That means a lot better education for the children.

Early in May, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed what is probably the broadest voucher law ever enacted in this country. A few days later Oklahoma approved tax credits for those who contribute to a privately funded private school “opportunity scholarship” program. In New Jersey, on May 13, a voucher bill was approved by a Senate committee with bipartisan support. In Washington, DC, the voucher program, which was killed by the Democratic majorities in the last Congress, is all but certain to be restored. In Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, famous for his attack on union collective bargaining rights, is pushing hard to broaden Milwaukee’s voucher program to other cities and many more children.

Altogether, according to the Foundation for Educational Choice, a pro-voucher organization that lists Friedman as its patriarch, more than fifty-two bills have emerged this year, some passed, some still pending, in thirty-six states—among them Arizona, Florida, Ohio, Oregon and Pennsylvania—providing funding for vouchers, tax credits or other tax-funded benefits for private education. . . .

And early in April, using a procedural dodge, a bitterly divided Supreme Court further heartened the movement by upholding Arizona’s law providing tax credits for contributions to “school tuition organizations”—scholarship funds for private and religious schools. . . .

Labels: ,

How the government destroys the incentive to lend mortgages

Beware of government help to create loan modifications. These programs involve mortgage holders agreeing to large write offs. Why would anyone want to make a loan if they face government pressure to write down the principal by a large amount? If there are no loans, what happens to housing prices?

Citigroup is going to be expanded their FDIC Loan Modification Program after pressure from the FDIC. The current Citigroup loan modification program was not doing enough to curb foreclosures and help real homeowners. . . . "They seem to just try to coerce the industry into" the loan-modification program, said David Watts, a strategist at analysis firm CreditSights Inc. They're saying, "We want you to do this program, and we're going to make sure you do it by helping you, possibly with money and possibly with a big fat stick."

Or this from last year:

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank is going after the four largest providers of U.S. mortgages to write down second mortgages to prevent "a deepening crisis" in the U.S. housing market.
Frank, in a letter to the chief executives of Citigroup (C.N), Wells Fargo (WFC.N), Bank of America (BAC.N) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N) dated March 4, said that taking losses on the second mortgages is necessary in order to allow modifications of the first mortgages to be made, which he said is critical to preventing further home foreclosures.

At issue are so-called second lien mortgages, which theoretically are worth nothing in cases when a home's value is less than the amount owed on the first loan.

But banks that hold the second liens want to be able to collect at least something from the homeowner. And if they do not mark the loan as a loss on their books, the first lien holders are unwilling to negotiate principal write-downs with the homeowners. . . .

And more pressure here has just been announced. Mortgage holders get some money, but they have to bear big write downs.

"We are very definitely trying to facilitate more principal reductions," said Timothy Massad, Treasury's acting assistant secretary for financial stability. "It is a very important piece of the overall solution," he said.

The administration is trying through taxpayer-funded programs to prevent homeowners from losing their homes. Nearly $50 billion has been set aside from the $700 billion bank bailout known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, to help distressed homeowners.

Persistently high unemployment and a weak housing market pose a threat to President Obama's re-election prospects next year.

So far, one of the programs has helped some 670,000 distressed homeowners win lower mortgage payments. But that has done very little to help the overall housing market, which remains depressed even as other parts of the economy have started to recover.

A glut of houses for sale, foreclosures, tight credit and little demand have impeded the housing recovery. Recent data showed that home prices dropped below the low seen in April 2009 during the financial crisis. . . .
One housing counselor expressed frustration with the servicers, saying more people would still be in their homes if their principal was reduced. . . . .