Aid for the non-existent 4

Whatever a government does, it does badly. That is the rule. Therefore, the less a government does the better for the nation. It should do only those things that it alone can do – chiefly, defend the country, protect the citizens by enforcing the law.  What it should never do, above all, is manage the economy. That’s the lesson socialists never learn. 

Only a small part of the $787 billion ‘stimulus package’ – money stolen from future tax-payers by the Democrats in power –  has been spent, but a second such governmental act of theft is already being mooted. On what have the ill-gotten government gains  so far been spent?

Mona Charen gives examples in Townhall:

The Social Security Administration admits that it mailed out 10,000 checks (using stimulus funds) to “deceased persons.” The SSA blamed pressure to spend the money quickly.

A non-existent lake in Oklahoma is going to get $1 million for a guardrail.

Union, N.Y., (population 56,000) was notified that it would be receiving a $578,661 stimulus grant to prevent homelessness. The town fathers were nonplussed as 1) they had never applied for the grant, and 2) they do not have a homelessness problem. But note the number: It’s so non-round, so specific. Is there a department at HUD responsible for inventing plausible-sounding numbers?

The state of Wisconsin, Coburn reports, has 1,256 structurally deficient bridges, more than Florida, Colorado, Arizona and Alaska combined. Yet no stimulus funds are flowing to repair those bridges. Instead, the feds are sending $15.8 million in transportation stimulus money to repair 37 rural bridges that hardly anyone uses. Why? It seems the rural projects were more “shovel-ready” and got pushed to the head of the queue.

But perhaps the most emblematic example of your tax dollars at work is this one: Road signs are being purchased at a cost of $300 apiece advertising that “This construction project” is being paid for with stimulus funds. Illinois alone has already spent $150,000 on such signs.

    Read the whole article here.

Posted under Commentary, Economics, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, July 10, 2009

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Behind the smokescreen 63

 … Obama and the Democrats are steadily pursuing their sinister agenda. 

Michelle Malkin writes (see the whole article here):

I ask you now to turn away from the bogus bonus smokescreen over $165 million in taxpayer-backed compensation packages for AIG employees. It is a pittance compared to the gargantuan spending spree happening right under our noses. The AIG bonus price tag amounts to one tenth of 1 percent of the total AIG giveaway ($85 billion in September, $37.8 billion in October; $40 billion in November; $30 billion in early March), which took place with the assent of a Republican administration, a Democratic administration and the congressional leadership of both parties.

Taxpayers might be less skeptical of the born-again guardians of fiscal responsibility if these evangelists were actually practicing what they preached. While the Obama administration now issues impassioned calls to stop rewarding failure, they moved Thursday to dump another $5 billion into the failing auto industry. That’s on top of Thursday’s announcement by the Federal Reserve to print $1 trillion to buy Treasury bonds and mortgage securities sold by the government – which no one else wants to buy.

Financial blogger Barry Ritholtz tallied up $8.5 trillion in bailout costs by December 2008 between Federal Reserve, FDIC, Treasury and Federal Housing Administration rescues (not including the $5.2 trillion in Fannie and Freddie portfolios that the U.S. taxpayer is now explicitly responsible for). Then there’s the (at least) $50 billion proposed by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in February to bail out home owners and lenders who made bad home loan decisions, which would be just a small sliver of the $2.5 trillion he wants to spend on the next big banking bailout, which would draw on the second $350 billion of the TARP package over which an increasing number of Chicken Little lawmakers are having buyer’s remorse.

Phew. We’re not done yet: As AIG-bashing lawmakers inveighed against wasted taxpayer funds and lamented the lack of accountability and rush to judgment that led to passage of the porkulus bill that mysteriously protected the bonuses, the Senate quietly passed a $10 billion lands bill stuffed with earmarks and immunized from amendments. GOP Sen. Tom Coburn, fiscal conservative loner, pointed out that none of the provisions for special-interest pork projects – including $3.5 million in spending for a birthday bash celebrating the city of St. Augustine, Fla. – was subject to public hearings. That’s on top of the pork-stuffed $410 billion spending bill passed two weeks ago.

Oh, and did I mention that the House passed a $6 billion volunteerism bill (the "GIVE Act") on Wednesday to provide yet another pipeline to left-wing advocacy groups under the guise of encouraging national service?

Also coming down the pike: the Obama administration’s "cap-and-trade" global warming plan, which Hill staffers learned this week could cost close to $2 trillion (nearly three times the White House’s initial estimate) and the administration’s universal health care scheme, which health policy experts reported this week could cost about $1.5 trillion over the next decade.

It is no wonder that when earlier this week Vice President Joe Biden told local officials in Washington that he was "serious, absolutely serious" about policing wasteful spending in Washington, he was met with the only rational response his audience could muster: laughter.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Friday, March 20, 2009

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Obama’s gang takes over 162

 From the Heritage Foundation

Remember ACORN? The Association of Community Organizations for Reform (ACORN), which has been plagued by allegations of voter fraud and abuse? It appears the chips just keep getting cashed in for the group that President Barack Obama once counseled as an attorney [and whose personnel he trained – JB] First it was discovered that they were going to literally ‘cash in’ on the $800 Billion “Stimulus” bill that lawmakers ensured would give them access to hundreds of millions of dollars. Not really the ’stimulus’ people were expecting. Then it was discovered that the White House and Congressional leaders were pushing for a new ‘Fairness Doctrine’ at the behest of ACORN.

Now we learn that President Obama has recruited them as “National Partners” to the 2010 U.S. Census. Remember the Census? The Census was one of the reasons Senator Judd Gregg withdrew his name from consideration for Commerce Secretary after he learned the White House would be moving the ‘non-partisan’ agency under the control of the ‘ultra-partisan’ White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

And this from the American Spectator:

In recent months demands for ACORN to be investigated under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) for repeated incidents of electoral fraud have been growing. But voting-related fraud is just the tip of the iceberg. ACORN runs a mob-style "protection" racket known within the radical direct-action group as the "muscle for the money" program, a lawyer told the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties today… The taxpayer-subsidized ACORN network, which owes millions of dollars in back taxes, also played a major role in the subprime mortgage mess that has undermined Americans’ support for free market problem-solving and set off a worldwide chain of financial troubles. And then there’s ACORN’s eight-year-long coverup of the million-dollar embezzlement by founder Wade Rathke’s brother. When ACORN board members Marcel Reid and Karen Inman demanded to see the financial documents, they were expelled from the group. What else is ACORN hiding?

But Congress is giving them more money and more power. The ideal people, ACORN, to trust with the Census?

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Friday, March 20, 2009

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Where the young will find themselves 13

 Our top favorite columnist (for being not only right but also funny) Mark Steyn writes:

This is the biggest generational transfer of wealth in the history of the world. If you’re an 18-year-old middle-class hopeychanger, look at the way your parents and grandparents live: It’s not going to be like that for you. You’re going to have a smaller house, and a smaller car – if not a basement flat and a bus ticket. You didn’t get us into this catastrophe. But you’re going to be stuck with the tab…

The Teleprompter Kid says not to worry: His budget numbers are based on projections that the economy will decline 1.2 percent this year and then grow 4 percent every year thereafter. Do you believe that? In fact, does he believe that? This is the guy who keeps telling us this is the worst economic crisis in 70 years, and it turns out it’s just a 1-percent decline for a couple more months, and then party time resumes? And, come to that, wasn’t there a (notably unprojected) 6.2 percent drop in GDP just in the last quarter of 2008?

Whatever. Growth may be lower than projected, but who’s to say all those new programs, agencies, entitlements and other boondoggles won’t also turn out to cost less than anticipated? Might as well be optimistic, right?…

We love the youthful sense of living in the moment, without a care, without the burdens of responsibility… But we also love the idealism of youth: We want to help the sick and heal the planet by voting for massive unsustainable government programs. Like the young, we’re still finding ourselves, but when we find ourselves stuck with a medical bill or a foreclosure notice it’s great to be able to call home and say, "Whoops, I got into a bit of a hole this month. Do you think you could advance me a couple of trillion just to tide me over?" And if there’s no one at home but a couple of second-graders, who cares? In supporting the political class in its present behavior, America has gone to the bank and given its kids a massive breach-of-trust fund.

I mentioned a few weeks ago the calamitous reality of the U.S. auto industry. General Motors has 96,000 employees but provides health benefits to over a million people. They can never sell enough cars to make that math add up. In fact, selling cars doesn’t help, as they lose money on each model. GM is a welfare project masquerading as economic activity. And, after the Obama transformation, America will be, too… 

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Sunday, March 15, 2009

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Debauching the currency of liberty 110

 Mark Steyn writes in the National Review, commenting on what he calls the ‘bailoutapalooza’: 

For six months now, Paulson, Geithner, and the gang have talked about it as a kind of technical correction, a recalibration that will re-inflate the credit bubble and get us back to “normal.” But it’s not about the arithmetic, it’s about restoring the concept of “moral hazard” that is vital to any functioning market but which the “socially liberal/fiscally conservative” circle-squarers have all but rendered extinct. No government can guarantee universal homeownership, or absurd returns on mediocre assets as a permanent feature of life. And to attempt to do so is to strip language of meaning. You’re debauching the currency — not in the “fiscal” exchange-rate nickel-’n’-dime sense, but something more profound: the very currency of liberty — property, contract, citizenship, responsibility.

(Read the whole column. It’s mostly about Arnie, the governor of ‘Collyvornya’, and it’s very funny.)

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, March 10, 2009

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USSA 132

 Phyllis Schlafly explains how the economic crisis has been used by the Democrats to advance their redistributionist agenda by means of the ‘Stimulus’ Act:

Here are some of the major "change" provisions of the 1,000-plus page act that all admit no member of Congress read before passage. This list doesn’t include any of the dozens of "porky" items that Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., boasts Americans don’t care about (and usually don’t know about).

First, the stimulus bill repeals the essentials of welfare reform passed by the Republican Congress in 1996. It was reluctantly signed by President Bill Clinton after he realized the public was demanding reform, and after it proved popular, he tried to take credit for it.

LBJ’s Great Society welfare was probably the worst of all liberal policies because it was directly responsible for destroying marriage by subsidizing illegitimacy and divorce, thereby creating a matriarchy dependent on government handouts. It wasn’t poverty that destroyed marriage in the lower-income classes, it was the liberal policy of giving taxpayers’ money to women, thereby making the husband and father irrelevant and even an impediment to the flow of easy money.

By setting limits on government handouts, the 1996 welfare reform encouraged welfare recipients to get jobs or job training, to make themselves self-sufficient and to end their long-term dependency on government.

The Obama stimulus plan increases the taxpayers’ money that the federal government gives to the states for welfare, and reverses incentives by giving bonuses to states that put more people on welfare. The stimulus is even worse than the Great Society policies of the 1960s.

That is a good example of the Obama goal to spread the wealth around (regardless of the harm it does).

Second, the stimulus plan calls for nearly doubling federal spending on education, which means doubling federal control. This money gives Obama the opportunity to spread his friend William Ayers’ "social justice" teaching (i.e., that America is an oppressive and unjust society) throughout K-16 education. This goal will be facilitated by Obama’s appointment of Arne Duncan for secretary of education, who like Obama and Ayers, is an alumnus of the Chicago political machine…

Third, the stimulus plan calls for Obama "change" by giving government control over access to medical treatments plus surveillance over online medical records for every American. Giving bureaucrats the power to decide which procedures have "clinical effectiveness" and may be used means nationalizing the health care industry and rationing medical care.

Fourth, the stimulus bill greatly expands by about $23 billion nearly every element of the welfare state, including food stamps, Medicaid eligibility, the earned income tax credit, the Special Supplementary Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and child-support enforcement for single moms. The governors have just awakened to the fact that the stimulus plan will require their states to raise business taxes if they accept this new free money.

Fifth, Obama’s claim that the stimulus plan cuts taxes is a fraud. A large percentage of the alleged tax "refunds" is just another handout because it will go to people who don’t owe any income taxes.

Sixth, the announced purpose of the stimulus is to create jobs, but Obama’s photo-op to illustrate this at Caterpillar Tractor in Peoria, Ill., turned into a political donnybrook. National television showed Obama speaking to some of the 20,000 whose jobs have been outsourced by Caterpillar and implied that the plan will enable them to be rehired. Minutes later, Obama was contradicted by Caterpillar’s CEO, who warned that, on the contrary, more layoffs are coming. It looks like the stimulus will create more government jobs plus an estimated 300,000 jobs for illegal aliens, but not much for anyone else.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, February 25, 2009

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The truest measure of public opinion 30

 From Power Line:

Bill Otis sent us this email today:

McCain’s bounce had evaporated, and Obama re-took his lead in the polls, in mid- to late-September. At that time (September 19, specifically), the Dow Jones stood at 11,388.

By the end of September, as Obama’s lead widened and solidified, the Dow had fallen to 10,325.

It continued its slide through October. The day after the election, it dropped 486 points to 9139.

By inauguration day, when reality could not be finessed any longer, it had fallen to 7949.

In the month since the inauguration, it has continued to drop, and is now at 7530 [Ed.: Now 7466.]. This is the lowest it has been in 12 years, lower by a considerable measure than it was in the immediate aftermath of 9-11 (when the denizens of Wall Street had to fear not just for their portfolios, but for their physical survival).

To sum it up, the market has lost a third of its value in a scant four months – the four months in which it became clear that Obama would become, and then did become, President.

We hear all the time that the market dive is due to factors that occurred on Bush’s watch. That sounds quite plausible; indeed, it’s partly true. But mostly it isn’t, because it misses the central fact that the direction of the market is about the future, not the past. In other words, the market is much more about expectations than about the financial report for last quarter (which has almost always been anticipated and thus discounted). So it’s not Bush’s or Paulson’s blunders that have put the market where it is today. It is the (unfortunately realized) expectations about Obama’s stewardship of the economy that are driving this train, or trainwreck.

Paul [Mirengoff] comments: Of course, Obama re-took the lead in September, I would argue, because people figured out that the economy was collapsing.

I think that’s right. There is much in the current economic crisis for which Obama can’t be blamed–the real estate bubble that led to the financial collapse, which started to come to light in the fall and assured Obama’s election. Obama is responsible for all of that only to the extent that he was one of many in Congress who did nothing to help solve the problem. And he was, of course, very much on the take from Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac.

But granting all of that, it seems clear that investors are now voting with their wallets. In my view, just about everything the Obama administration has done (or announced its intention to do) will hurt the economy. The "stimulus" bill, to name just one example, was a joke. Obviously a great many investors agree; hence the ongoing decline in the stock market and the record prices being paid for gold–the classic hedge against bad government policies. The declining stock market and related price shifts are registering a vote of no confidence in the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Friday, February 20, 2009

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Mighty handy for totalitarianism 101

Consider this:

216 of the [‘Stimulus’ Act’s] 1,071 pages deal with a project not directly aimed at short-term economic stimulus, and these 216 pages were themselves divided into two distinct parts (139 pages in "Division A" of the law and 77 pages in "Division B").

Together, these 216 pages provide the legal framework for collecting every American’s personal medical records into a federally coordinated electronic system…

Division A includes a section called "Title XIII – Health Information Technology," which provides for "the development of a nationwide health information technology infrastructure."

In the law’s jargon, this infrastructure is supposed to allow for the "enterprise integration" of the "qualified electronic health record" of "each person in the United States by 2014."

What do "qualified electronic health record" and "enterprise integration" mean? A "qualified electronic health record," the law says, "means an electronic record of health-related information on an individual that – (A) includes patient demographic and clinical health information, such as medical history and problems lists; and (B) has the capacity – (i) to provide clinical decision support; (ii) to support physician order entry; (iii) to capture and query information relevant to health care quality; and (iv) to exchange electronic health information with, and integrate such information from other sources."

This mandate that your "electronic health record" (EHR) be able to communicate with "other sources" goes to the definition of "enterprise integration." This term, the law says, "means the electronic linkage of health care providers, health plans, the government and other interested parties to enable electronic exchange and use of health information among all the components in the health care infrastructure in accordance with applicable law." …

In plain English: Over the next five years, the Obama administration intends to create a federally run electronic exchange that includes every American’s "medical history and problems lists."

‘Other sources’ can include data held by any government department – the IRS for instance. A total dossier of information about you will be available to any bureaucrat at any moment with a click or two This is a tool for totalitarianism that Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot would have envied.  

Read the Terence Jeffrey column we are quoting here. 

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, February 18, 2009

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