The Rise and Fall of Hope and Change

The Rise and Fall of Hope and Change

Alexis de Toqueville

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.
Alexis de Tocqueville

The United States Capitol Building

The United States Capitol Building

The Constitutional Convention

The Constitutional Convention

The Continental Congress

The Continental Congress

George Washington at Valley Forge

George Washington at Valley Forge

Monday, May 23, 2011

Slaves To Words

From Town Hall:

Thomas Sowell

Slaves to Words

Email Thomas Sowell
Columnist's Archive

Share Buzz



We could definitely use another Abraham Lincoln to emancipate us all from being slaves to words. In the midst of a historic financial crisis of unprecedented government spending, and a national debt that outstrips even the debt accumulated by the reckless government spending of previous administration, we are still enthralled by words and ignoring realities.

President Barack Obama's constant talk about "millionaires and billionaires" needing to pay higher taxes would be a bad joke, if the consequences were not so serious. Even if the income tax rate were raised to 100 percent on millionaires and billionaires, it would still not cover the trillions of dollars the government is spending.

More fundamentally, tax rates-- whatever they are-- are just words on paper. Only the hard cash that comes in can cover government spending. History has shown repeatedly, under administrations of both political parties, that there is no automatic correlation between tax rates and tax revenues.

When the tax rate on the highest incomes was 73 percent in 1921, that brought in less tax revenue than after the tax rate was cut to 24 percent in 1925. Why? Because high tax rates that people don't actually pay do not bring in as much hard cash as lower tax rates that they do pay. That's not rocket science.

Then and now, people with the highest incomes have had the greatest flexibility as to where they will put their money. Buying tax-exempt bonds is just one of the many ways that "millionaires and billionaires" avoid paying hard cash to the government, no matter how high the tax rates go.

Most working people don't have the same options. Their taxes have been taken out of their paychecks before they get them.

Even more so today than in the 1920s, billions of dollars can be sent overseas electronically, almost instantaneously, to be invested in other countries-- creating jobs there, while millions of American are unemployed. That is a very high price to pay for class warfare rhetoric about taxing "millionaires and billionaires."

Make no mistake about it, that kind of rhetoric wins votes for political demagogues-- and votes are their bottom line. But that is totally different from saying that it will bring in more tax revenue to the government.

Time and again, at both state and federal levels, in the country and in other countries, tax rates and tax revenue have moved in opposite directions many times. After Maryland raised its tax rates on people making a million dollars a year, there were fewer such people living in Maryland-- and less tax revenue was collected from them.

In 2009, many people specializing in high finance in Britain relocated to Switzerland after the British government announced plans to take 51 percent of high incomes in taxes.

Conversely, reductions in tax rates can lead to more tax revenue being collected. After the capital gains tax rate was cut in the United States in 1997, the government collected nearly twice as much revenue from capital gains taxes in the next four years as in the previous four years.

Similar things have happened in India and in Iceland.

There is no automatic correlation between the direction in which tax rates move and the direction in which tax revenues move. Nor is this a new discovery.

Back in the 1920s, Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon pointed out that people with high incomes were simply not paying the high tax rates that existed on paper, because they were putting their money into tax shelters.

After the tax rates were cut, as Mellon advocated, investments flowed back into the private economy, producing higher output, rising incomes, more tax revenue and more jobs. The annual unemployment rate in the next four years never exceeded 4.2 percent, and in one year was as low as 1.8 percent.

Despite political demagoguery about "tax cuts for the rich," in human terms the rich have less at stake than working people. Precisely because the rich have so many ways of avoiding taxes, a high tax rate is likely to do them far less harm than it does to the economy, on which millions of people depend for jobs.

Tags: Jobs and Economy , Taxes

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Obama's Hypocritical Rhetoric On Immigration Reform

from Human Events:

Obama's Hypocritical Rhetoric on Immigration Reform

by Michael Barone


Barack Obama's immigration speech in El Paso May 10 was an exercise in electioneering and hypocrisy. Hypocrisy because while Obama complained about "politicians" blocking comprehensive immigration bills, he was one of them himself.

In 2007, when such a bill was backed by a lame duck Republican president and had bipartisan backing from Senate heavyweights Edward Kennedy and Jon Kyl, Sen. Obama voted for union-backed amendments that Kennedy and Kyl opposed as bill-killers.

In 2009 and 2010, President Obama acquiesced in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to pass cap-and-trade and bypass immigration and in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's decision not to bring an immigration bill to the floor.

Both times the votes were probably there to pass a bill. Obama did not lift a finger to help.

But that did not stop the president who is constantly calling for civility to heap scorn on those who seek stronger enforcement. "They'll want a higher fence. Maybe they'll need a moat," he said to laughter from the largely Latino audience. "Maybe they'll want alligators in the moat. They'll never be satisfied."

Was that on the teleprompter, or was it ad-libbed? In either case, Obama was showing his contempt for those who bitterly cling to the idea that the law should be enforced.

That's no way to assemble the bipartisan coalition necessary to pass an immigration bill.

It's obvious that nothing like the legalization (opponents say "amnesty") provisions considered in 2007 can pass in this Congress. They can never pass the Republican House, where Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith is a longstanding opponent and Speaker John Boehner will not schedule a bill not approved in committee.

Nor will this Congress pass the most attractive proposal Obama mentioned, the Dream Act, providing a path to legalization for those brought in illegally as children who enroll in college or serve in the military. That failed last December in a more Democratic Senate and won't pass now.

Some new approach is needed, and Obama did little to point the way. One idea, advanced by a bipartisan Brookings Institution panel, is a bill that would strengthen enforcement and would shift the U.S. away from low-skill and toward high-skill immigration.

Canada and Australia have done this to their great benefit. And with a sluggish economy it makes little sense, as current law does, to give preference to low-skill siblings of minimum wage workers rather than to engineering and science Ph.D.s. We need more job creators, not more job seekers.

The problem here is that the lobbying forces backing comprehensive legislation don't favor such an approach. Latino groups and lobbies representing employers of low-skill workers are interested in legalizing the low-skill Latinos who make up the majority of the 11 million illegal immigrants.

High-tech firms seek more H-1B visas for high-skill graduates, but these tie immigrants to particular employers. They don't have an interest in provisions allowing these people to work for anyone they don't like or to start their own businesses, as they can in Canada and Australia.

In the absence of significant lobbying support, the only way to provide support for Brookings-style legislation is a bold presidential initiative advertising it as a clean break from past proposals.

Obama didn't come close to doing that in El Paso. He included a few words about letting in more high-skill folks, but didn't suggest any reduction in low-skill immigration.

And he said only a few words about workplace enforcement on which his administration has developed a valuable new tool.

That's a refinement of the E-Verify electronic system now available in which employers can verify the Social Security numbers of new employees.

The Department of Homeland Security has been ironing out glitches in E-Verify and, as former National Security Agency general counsel Stewart Baker reports, DHS now allows job-seekers in some states to use E-Verify before applying for a job not only to check their status but also to protect against identity theft.

The administration has been attacking state laws requiring employers to use E-Verify. If Obama were serious about enforcement, he would be calling for mandatory E-Verify. That would be a more effective tool against illegal immigration than even the strongest border enforcement.

But as Obama's record makes clear, he's not really interested in passing a law. He knows his support has been slipping among Latino voters, and he wants to goose it back up. El Paso was all about election 2012, not serious immigration reform.


Mr. Barone is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and the principal co-author of The Almanac of American Politics, published by National Journal every two years.

"We're Open For Business Now": Ohio Governor John Kasich

From Human Events:



‘We’re Open for Business Now’--Ohio Gov. John Kasich

by John Gizzi


Anyone who interviewed John Kasich during his days in the U.S. House (1982-2000), and especially as House Budget Committee chairman (1994-2000), will recall that asking the Ohioan about budgets or spending brought forth a very lengthy answer. Along with explaining the numbers and spelling out their long-term impact, Rep. Kasich would spice his talk with references to his passion for the music of the Grateful Dead and his love of basketball and tennis.

Now two weeks away from his 59th birthday, the father of two girls and governor of Ohio since January, Kasich has changed only slightly. These days, he speaks less about music and sports and almost exclusively about his administration’s grappling with the deficit and the maw of regulations businesses in the Buckeye State have to face.

“We’re in this situation now because under the previous administration, mismanagement and mangled politics were the order of the day,” Kasich told HUMAN EVENTS last week, referring to the regime of the liberal Democrat he overthrew last fall, Ted Strickland and the Democrats who were formerly in control of both houses of the state legislature.

When he spoke to us from his office in Columbus, Kasich had a lot to feel triumphant about. He had recently secured passage by the House(now in Republican hands) of a budget that, in his words, “pays off our state’s $8 billion deficit in one year and does so without raising a single tax. And we’re also going to get to keep a cut in taxes that the legislature passed years ago.”

Kasich quickly warmed to his subject. The governor and his team, he recalled, “started off with protecting the powerless of society. There were no cuts in child care or programs for the developmentally disabled or for the mentally ill.”

But, he quickly added, “We made cuts in just about every other program. Some as much as 15%.” To Kasich, balancing a budget “is not so much shutting down a particular program but reforming the program to make it more cost-efficient and more efficiently run. We did that in many programs, including those dealing with corrections, Medicaid, K–12 and higher education.”

One example Kasich cited of how reforming regulations has helped businesses involves state oversight of the trucking industry. In his words, “[I]f you owned a trucking company, you could not register with the state online. Regulations didn’t permit it. We changed that and the trucking industry is very happy."

“If state government will just stop doing little things that get in the way of business," Kasich insisted, "more businesses will stay here and more will come here, and you’ll see the economic revitalization of Ohio.”

In pursuit of this vision, the governor created a commission of experts (“people who can think outside the box”) to identify regulations that are stumbling blocks to job creation, and his administration will seek to get rid of them. Moreover, working with state Director of Economic Development (and former HUMAN EVENTS intern) Nate Green, Kasich seeks to privatize the department of economic development.

“There will still be an entity within state government and someone like Nate overseeing things,” he explained, “but the functions of attracting new business to come to the state will be performed by a private entity. It will be less costly this way, and will get more results.”

As a sign that the business community understands that the climate in Ohio is changing, Kasich pointed out that “four different companies changed their minds about leaving the state. Now, our state dug itself in a deep hole [under former Gov. Strickland’s administration], and you can’t reverse bad behavior overnight. But the business community here knows things are beginning to change and that the Kasich administration gets it. We’re open for business now.”

In a separate interview, Green explained, “[T]he companies the governor saved from leaving Ohio are Bob Evans, Diebold and American Greetings. The other company is Ruralogic, and we have helped them in-source IT work that was going to India and Africa but is now providing IT jobs in rural areas of Ohio. They have two current operations and are looking to start a third. They are going to create approximately 200 jobs in Ohio over the next three years.”

‘Profit Not a Dirty Word in Ohio ’

In so many ways, Kasich’s passionate promotion of his state as a site of jobs and opportunity is reminiscent of that of another Republican: Ohio’s longest-serving governor (1962-'70, 1974-'82), James A. Rhodes.

Soon after Rhodes unseated Democratic Gov. Michael V. DiSalle to win his first term in 1962, wrote David Broder and Stephen Hess in The Republican Establishment, "Ohio began buying big ads in the Wall Street Journal and other business organs, showing Rhodes’ eminently common-sense face and the slogan 'Profit is Not a Dirty Word in Ohio.' Any businessman likely to locate a plant in Ohio can count on a call from the governor pledging his personal assistance in settling the deal to the company’s satisfaction. Nor does Rhodes sit by and wait. He led trade missions to Europe and Asia, opening state-financed offices in Brussels and Tokyo to promote markets for Ohio products.”

As Rhodes sought reelection in 1966, the number of native industries expanding in Ohio and the number of new companies moving in were both more than five times higher than in 1962.

“Yeah, I’m where Gov. Rhodes was coming from,” said Kasich, who served as a state senator during Rhodes' final term as governor from 1978 to 1982. “But remember—he didn’t have either a corporate or a personal income tax, and he didn’t have collective bargaining to deal with.”

Kasich’s mention of collective bargaining brought up the focus in the national press on the Ohio governor’s clash with public employee unions over his plan to have those on the public payroll pay a greater share of their health insurance. With demonstrators crowding outside the state capitol with placards denouncing “Ka-SICK!,” the Republican-controlled legislature enacted landmark legislation requiring state employees to pay for 15% of their health packages.

“Look, the average donation from city workers toward their health care is 9%, and the average donation from private-sector workers is 23%,” said Kasich. “I’d say for state employees to pay 15% is pretty fair.”

Although Kasich signed the measure into law, the voters will have the last word on it in a statewide initiative this November. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees—with more than 350,000 members throughout Ohio —has made defeat of the change in health care payments its top priority. Kasich simply says: “We’ll win this.”

Working closely with two other conservative stalwarts who are the Republican leaders of the state legislature, House Speaker Bill Batchelder and Senate President Tom Niehaus, Kasich is laying out a long-term conservative agenda for his state. Not yet formalized but still very much on their plate is a plan voiced during the 2010 campaign that would eventually repeal the state income tax.

At one point in our interview, I talked to Kasich about his briefly seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2000 before leaving the House for a decade to work in investment banking and as a Fox TV host. Would he consider another run for President in 2016, I asked, or at least becoming his party’s vice presidential nominee in 2012?

“No way,” he shot back. “I’m not running for anything. This is where the action is. You’ll be hearing of and reporting about a lot of things that are happening in the states, especially Ohio. Get used to it.”


John Gizzi is Political Editor of HUMAN EVENTS.

Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell: Less Government Equals More Money

From Human Events:

Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell: Less Government = More Money

by Jason Mattera


HUMAN EVENTS had the opportunity to sit down with Gov. Robert McDonnell of Virginia for an exclusive interview at his Richmond office to discuss how he inherited two budget shortfalls in the billions, but maneuvered his way to producing a budget … surplus!

Oh, and he did it by not raising taxes.

And revenues to the government increased.

And unemployment is hovering at 6%, way below the national average.

Basically, Gov. McDonnell is a walking refutation of the liberal notion that spending and borrowing create wealth.

“You have to make those tough cuts, endure political criticism, knowing that in the long run your state is going to be healthier,” McDonnell told us. “I realize that government doesn’t create jobs, and the ones that they do they are not really the ones you want. You want the private sector ones, innovative jobs that are long-term going to grow the economy.”

Here’s him telling us how he’s eliminated government agencies, courted business development, and even cut the allegedly untouchable category of education funding.

Watch Part 1 here:


Mr. Mattera is the editor of HUMAN EVENTS and the author of Obama Zombies: How the Liberal Machine Brainwashed My Generation (Simon & Schuster). He also hosts The Jason Mattera Show on News Talk Radio 77WABC. Previously, he was the Spokesman for Young America's Foundation and a TV correspondent for Michelle Malkin. Follow Jason on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Political Cartoons

From Town Hall:

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Political Cartoons by Steve Breen

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

Political Cartoons by Nate Beeler

Political Cartoons by Steve Breen

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Obama's Best Times

From Town Hall:

Lurita Doan

Obama's Best Times

Email Lurita Doan
Columnist's Archive

Share Buzz



Despite President Obama’s warning to other Americans, the nation witnessed his own inability to resist ‘spiking the football” this past week in a Dickensian “best of times, worst of times” moment at Ground Zero in New York City.

Obama’s actions do not lessen the important fact that Osama bin Laden is dead and that our nation’s military executed a complex and sensitive field operation brilliantly. The triumph over bin Laden may have signaled “the best of times”. But, back in Washington, little-reported news stories about Obama’s and fellow Democrats’ efforts to implement rules and legislation pushing crippling taxes, wealth redistribution, trillions of dollars of debt and other disincentives that make the U.S. less competitive were a clear sign that we are also experiencing “the worst of times.”

It was the best of times because Obama made the right decision to act on the intelligence provided at enormous time, cost and effort from so many American patriots over so many years. And, it was the best of times when Obama said he knew that it would take more than just “getting Osama” to get re-elected. In other words, Obama has acknowledged that he needs to focus on a serious strategy for job creation and growing the economy.

Still, it was the worst of times because, this week, Labor unions asked legislators to increase federal government union employee benefits and, at the same time, place pay caps on the salaries of private businesses that do business with the government, thus showing that left-wing extremists intend to continue with their efforts to intrude in the day-to-day operations of private industry.

It was the best of time because, despite Obama’s snarky comments about “moats and alligators”, his speech in El Paso is an acknowledgement that it is now time to confront the problems of illegal immigration as both a policy issue and as a budget issue. Clearly, any discussion of fiscal discipline and cuts in spending by legislators in Washington must also include one of the biggest drains on the budgets of many local communities and state organizations—the costs of subsidizing the education, healthcare and support of illegal aliens.

By addressing the growing burden that illegal immigrants are placing on our economy Obama, perhaps unwittingly, made a major break with unions. Unions have been some of the strongest supporters of increased tolerance and increased benefits for illegal immigrants regardless of the cost to the American taxpayer.

But, President Obama’s draft Executive Order“Disclosure of Political Spending By Government Contractors”, makes this the worst of times too. Obama is engaging in a not-too-subtle shakedown of private sector businesses that wish to do business with the government. This Executive Order requires any business to make public its political donations for a period covering up to two years before any contract awarded by the government or two years before any contract on which the company intends to bid. This is not subtle.

Obama’s thuggish “transparency initiative” seems designed to serve a warning to those who have not donated to the party in power that they better do so soon if they want to do business with the government. This inherently corrupt use of executive power also may be intended to serve as a warning to those who have supported the “wrong” party that their donations may be used as a weapon, since the order exempts unions and grant recipients, organizations which have, traditionally, donated heavily to the Democrat party.

Discussing another prod in history of intense turmoil, Dickens wrote “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Americans are, undoubtedly, riding high since the death of bin Laden, even though his death can never replace the thousands of lives lost and the thousands of lives affected. Once again, the world has seen what American determination, persistence and innovation can accomplish. But Americans have also seen President Obama, quite possibly our “noisiest authority using superlatives to describe his actions: most historic, most unprecedented, most transparent.

We are in the midst of the best of times and the worst of time, but it now seems clear that Obama’s best actions and best ideas occur when he adopts the policies championed by George W. Bush.

Tags: Barack Obama , Budget and Government , Jobs and Economy

Lurita Doan

Lurita Alexis Doan is an African American conservative commentator who writes about issues affecting the federal government.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Political Cartoons

From Town Hall:

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Political Cartoons by Chuck Asay

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

The Truth Behind Oil Subsidies

From The Heritage Foundation:

The Truth Behind Oil Subsidies

It's easy to take shots at oil companies, especially when gas prices are rising over $4 per gallon. Playing the role of David against an enormous corporate Goliath is a great way to score political points, so it's no wonder that President Barack Obama and liberals in Congress have issued a clarion call for the end to oil subsidies as a way of wreaking revenge against those they say are responsible for the high cost of energy.

The truth, though, isn't as simple as the good-versus evil fable the left would have you believe.

On Wednesday, five Democratic U.S. senators sent a letter to the CEOs of the country's five largest oil companies declaring, "[I]f we are truly serious about cutting our deficit, it is imperative that we start by getting rid of wasteful and ineffective corporate subsidies that have outlived their usefulness."

The left's anti-subsidy rhetoric is right on. Ending all energy subsidies, including those for oil and gas, would be good for American taxpayers and consumers. But if those senators were truly serious about cutting the deficit, they wouldn't stop at just cutting subsidies for oil companies. They would also call for the elimination of subsidies for the president's pet projects such as renewable fuels, electric vehicles, wind and solar. Throw in clean coal and natural gas, too. That would be the right move for the American taxpayers. But good policy isn't their goal -- vilifying an industry is their end game.

There's another problem with the left's crusade against the oil industry. The Heritage Foundation's Nicolas Loris and Curtis Dubay explain that the broad calls for an end to oil subsidies is really code for targeted tax hikes against companies they don't like:

The President overreaches on what truly is a subsidy for oil and ignores the fact that the government does far more to hurt oil production than help it. He singles out the oil industry, which already faces a higher marginal tax rate at 41 percent compared to 26 percent for the rest of businesses in Standard & Poor’s 500.

To make matters worse, the tax hikes on the oil and gas industry proposed in the president's fiscal year 2012 budget would increase the price of oil and gas for American consumers, according to the Congressional Research Service. Loris and Dubay conclude:

Ending all energy subsidies, including those for oil and gas, would be good for American taxpayers and consumers. However, Congress should not punish the oil and gas industry with targeted tax hikes, nor should it reward other parts of the energy industry favored by the Administration.

There's much the president and Congress could do if they truly wanted to give Americans a break at the gas pump. For starters, they could provide access to our country's domestic energy reserves, roll back regulatory burdens on companies and lift the de facto moratorium on offshore drilling permits.

Attacking the oil industry might satisfy the left's bloodlust against corporate America, and it might play well in press conferences. But targeted tax hikes against industries one might not like is not an answer to the high price of gas. It might feel good in the short run, but it's not a long-term solution to America's energy problems.

Obama Saves/Creates Us!

From Town Hall:

John Ransom

Obama Saves/Creates Us!

Email John Ransom
Columnist's Archive

Share Buzz



During Obama’s campaign infomercial that CBS News produced on Wednesday regarding the economy and jobs, he showed again why he is unfitted for the job of president.

In an exchange with a Karen Gallo, a federal employee with the National Zoo who is being laid off because the rest of us can’t afford to keep paying more and more for a zoo every year, CBS News served a huge floating fastball for the president to hit out of the park.

Our country is in trouble, read the sub-text, and only Obama can save it!

Putting aside the fact that no self-respecting person with real confidence would promote themselves in this way, I wonder what Obama thought he was suppose to be doing in his first three years as president?

Now all of a sudden he wants to be relevant again?

After Gallo complained that she’ll be out of work soon, and explained that she is pregnant and building a house, Obama took his cut:

“Workers like you,” O gravely told Gallo, “for the federal state and local governments are so important for our vital services. And it frustrates me sometimes when people talk about ‘government jobs’ as if those are worth less than private sector jobs.”

No offense to the National Zoo folks, who I know work very hard, but the zoo provides no real “vital services” to anyone over 4 feet tall outside of a petting zoo.

The administration couldn’t come up with a better shill for government make-work than Gallo? In Washington, D.C.?

Obama later went on to blame rising unemployment numbers on Republicans who are demanding that governments lay-off workers.

Sorry, O, but those government jobs that you’re so fond of ARE worth less than private sector jobs. If saving/creating more government jobs could make us rich, we’d be swimming in money.

My job and those of my colleagues, is paid for by advertisers. We’re expected to increase readership, increase revenues and make a profit. I know profit is considered an ugly word in the president’s administration.

But if we can’t make a profit, then we shut our doors.

We’re the people whose income-taxes fund federal employees. Without us being successful first, the federal government shuts down. Federal employees pay income taxes too, but again, that money too starts with those us in the private sector.

The federal government has gone on an unprecedented spending spree since 2009, with the number of employees in the federal workforce going over over 2 million jobs.

Obama created those jobs, not by creating more revenue, like the rest of us do. No, he did so by cashing a blank check on the credit of the private sector.

Despite the fact that the federal government can’t make its nationalized retirement scheme and medicals schemes solvent- schemes also known as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid- after decades of reform, the credit markets still lent the Feds money.

They did so on the strength of the private sector economy. They didn’t give Obama a block grant. This wasn’t a presidential student loan for him.

It’s real money that the rest of us have to repay.

If we can’t start our “shared sacrifice” that he is asking us all to indulge him in by cutting a dozen or more government jobs at the zoo, they’re will be no hope for the private sector.

It’s time for Obama to show some sympathy for those of us in the private sector who know a lot more about what a real job looks like than he does.

Note: A previous version of this article claimed that civilian workforce of the federal government has doubled since 2009. The correct statistic that should have been cited was that the federal workforce went over 2 million jobs. We regret the error.

John Ransom: U.S. Imams Plot to Murder & Maim (Top Story- HOT!)

Morales & Chris Kacher: Chasing Stocks After the Top (New)

Mike Shedlock: IMF Head Charged with Rape (New)

Mark Baisley: School Boots Boy Scouts for Mother Earth (Editor's Pick- HOT!)

John Ransom: This Week's Top Tweets

Mike Shedlock: Stop Torturing Us; Let's Come Home

John Ransom: Email, Hate Mail and Comments from Readers (Editor's Pick)

David Malpass: QE2 a Y2K?

George Friedman: U.S.-Pakistani Relations Beyond Bin Laden

John Ransom: Holder's Lame Victory

Larry Kudlow: Boehner Lays Down the Debt-Ceiling Gauntlet (Front Page News)

Morales & Kacher: A Year of Friday the 13th

Mike Shedlock: Real Estate Bust Down Under

Cliff Ennico: A 'Rich Guy' Speaks Out Against Higher Taxes (Editor's Pick)

John Ransom: Obama Saves/Creates Us!

Bob Beauprez: Myths About Oil and Gas (Editor's Pick)

Chuck Muth: The Tax War on Nevadans

Bob Goldman: Unforgettable

Mike Shedlock: Oil Crashes (Front Page News)

Larry Kudlow: Bernanke's Quantitative Neutrality

John Ransom: Crass and Cynical on Illegal Immigration

Go to Finance Home


You can email John Ransom at

Obama And The Alligator

From The American Spectator:


A Further Perspective

Obama and the Alligator

By George Neumayr on 5.12.11 @ 6:08AM

Having hit his stride in the polls, Barack Obama seems to clutch the teleprompter less tightly these days. He looked relaxed as he addressed the subject of "immigration reform" on Tuesday and even attempted a semi-cavalier joke at the expense of those concerned about America's porous borders. "Maybe they'll need a moat," he said, dismissing their calls for more border security. "Maybe they want alligators in the moat."

George W. Bush had broached the idea of de facto amnesty shortly before 9/11, then the subject vanished. A joke about alligators in moats wouldn't have been welcome in the days after Osama bin Laden hit the country. But now that he is gone, Obama can make one and try his hand at the issue of illegal immigration.

In his speech in El Paso, he downplayed concerns about border insecurity while insisting that he has responded to them effectively: "the truth is the measures we've put in place are getting results. Over the past two and a half years, we've seized 31 percent more drugs, 75 percent more currency, 64 percent more weapons than ever before. And even as we have stepped up patrols, apprehensions along the border have been cut by nearly 40 percent from two years ago. That means far fewer people are attempting to cross the border illegally."

Would he have done any of this on his own without the political backlash to open borders? No, but he sounds at times as if he did. He followed, not led, on the issue, yet says those who saw a problem on the borders where he didn't are still crying wolf.

The crowd to whom he was appealing with his moat joke found his listing of border security accomplishments beside the point. As he began to say that he had complied with requests to build a fence, an audience member shouted, "Tear it down." As he referenced those calling for more measures, another audience member shouted, "They're racist."

Later in the speech, Obama invited this audience to "add your voices to this debate" and "sign up to help at"

Obama presents himself as a forthright leader of "immigration reform" even as he avoids defining reform in open terms. Still having to follow the public a bit, he has to couch his calls for what amounts to selective amnesty between vaguely reassuring lines about the importance of enforcing the law and the "responsibility" that illegal immigrants bear. This sounds like he wants current laws enforced, but he doesn't, at least not consistently. He considers these laws unjust and wants them discarded. That's what is meant by reform.

Another rhetorical sleight of hand in the speech was to mix the issue of illegal immigration into a safer enthusiasm for America as a nation of immigrants. To oppose "reform" that accommodates illegal immigration is not to deny the benefits of legal immigration. But Obama tries to leave that implication.

"[T]he flow of immigrants has helped make this country stronger and more prosperous. We can point to the genius of Einstein, the designs of I.M. Pei, the stories of Isaac Asimov, the entire industries that were forged by Andrew Carnegie," he said, as if to place the flow of illegal immigrants on the same plane.

One would think a speech in El Paso might have honed in on the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico, but Obama seemed more interested in talking about immigrants in the high-tech industry, as if the issue under discussion was whether or not to let geniuses from India and Asian countries work at Google.

"We should make it easier for the best and the brightest to not only stay here, but also to start businesses and create jobs here. In recent years, a full 25 percent of high-tech startups in the U.S. were founded by immigrants," he said. "That led to 200,000 jobs here in America. I'm glad those jobs are here. I want to see more of them created in this country. We need to provide them the chance."

Opposition to "comprehensive immigration reform" is hardly stuck on that issue, but it is easier for Obama to push on open doors like that one than to talk about the real problems of an open border.

Letter to the Editor

George Neumayr is editor of Catholic World Report.

Fiscal Conservatives Are Winning

From The American Spectator:


Streetcar Line

Fiscal Conservatives Are Winning

By Quin Hillyer on 5.12.11 @ 6:09AM

This is the week for bold, conservative, budget-related proposals, with major announcements from the Heritage Foundation, from Speaker John Boehner, and from a group of Republican senators led by Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey. Very good. Although some Tea Party groups may not recognize as much, conservatives are winning the political battle over budgets right now. Befuddled liberals, rocked back on their heels, are responding by pushing tax hikes. If that's their answer, they lose and we win.

Boehner's proposal is the simplest, and it's well-nigh brilliant. He called for cuts from President Obama's proposed long-term budgets that are "greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority the president is given." Also, "We should be talking about cuts of trillions, not just billions. They should be actual cuts and program reforms, not broad deficit or debt targets that punt the tough questions to the future."

And tax hikes will not be on the table.

The public can grasp this idea. This proposal paints a bright line, based on principle, easily measured. The debt limit should not rise by more than the amount by which five-year budgets are cut.

Last weekend, my friend Jim Guirard, the longtime chief of staff for former Louisiana Democratic U.S. Sens. Russell Long and Allen Ellender, was pushing a slightly different idea but one that would dovetail quite nicely with Boehner's. Guirard said Republicans should go ahead and raise the debt limit, but only by half as much as Obama requested -- with the other half absolutely dependent on Obama meeting several, measurable, strict savings targets in the meantime. Without meeting those targets, Obama could not trigger the full debt-limit hike.

Put Guirard's proposal together with Boehner's. Insist that Boehner's suggested level of cuts be made -- and that they actually be implemented, as intended, or else the higher debt limit would automatically be revoked. Or something like that.

Meanwhile, where Boehner lays out parameters, Heritage and Toomey lay out specifics. Both would balance the federal budget within ten years. Neither one would raise net taxes. The Heritage plan would fundamentally reshape large swaths of the federal government. It would combine income taxes and payroll taxes (for Medicare and Social Security) into one, flat tax system. It would provide a federal tax credit to individuals/families to purchase health insurance, rather than providing the tax break to employers. It would adopt much of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's plan to turn Medicaid into a block grant program (with added flexibility to the states) and to turn Medicare for future retirees (phased in) into a "premium support" program that would put authority and choice into individual hands. It would force domestic discretionary spending back to 2008 levels and then freeze it (with an inflation allowance only), and it would direct the federal government to sell $260 billion of assets over 15 years.

All these ideas are basically sound. Conservatives should quibble only with one of its proposed changes for Social Security: Heritage eventually would completely end Social Security payments for wealthy individuals. This is a bad idea. It makes sense to means-test the program to a certain extent, but to completely eliminate payments to some Americans would be to break faith with the idea that, at least at a conceptual level, payroll taxes are meant as a down payment for future considerations. By breaking that link entirely, Heritage would actually feed the notion that successful people are a cash cow to be milked by the less successful without any "return" due to them. This is Robin Hood, "soak the rich," punish-the-productive, feed-the-looters policy writ large. And, as we shall see, it's not necessary. Those extra savings can be achieved elsewhere.

Sen. Toomey shows how. For one thing, he would return domestic discretionary spending not just to 2008 levels (as Heritage would do), but to 2006 levels, and then freeze it for six full years (before eventually letting it rise, after that, in line with inflation). Believe it or not, this difference between the two plans could amount to hundreds of billions of dollars of extra savings.

Conservatives should just dare the left to call these levels of spending "Draconian" or "heartless."

"Oh, really?" we should say. "So… was President Clinton heartless? No? Did he approve budgets that let old ladies freeze in the streets while children starved under overpasses? Of course not. Then why would it be heartless to approve domestic discretionary spending levels that, even after adjusting for inflation and population growth, are tens of billions of dollars above what Clinton agreed to? And no, we're not talking about what he agreed to in 1995 or 1996, when Republicans were still cutting budgets; we're talking what he agreed to in 1999 and 2000, after Republicans lost their spending discipline."

If the 2006 levels were good enough to meet Clinton's standards of empathy, and then some, surely they should be good for us now.

Meanwhile, Toomey joins Heritage and Ryan in block-granting Medicaid to the states. He also joins Heritage in setting annual spending caps for welfare programs. On taxes, he would collapse the current six income-tax brackets to three, with fewer loopholes but lower marginal rates. He would index the Alternative Minimum Tax to inflation. And he would cut the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent.

That last proposal, like almost all corporate-income tax proposals in serious play these days, actually isn't anywhere near bold enough. The regular corporate income tax rate should be zero, at least for U.S.-based companies. (I explained how and why more than three years ago, here.)

All in all, though, Boehner, Heritage, Toomey, Ryan and others are driving the debate. Democrats are being forced into lower spending, and also are being smoked out as inveterate tax hikers. Economist Larry Kudlow -- a solid economic conservative if there ever was one -- has been saying all week that Republicans are winning the economic debate and winning on actual legislation as well. He told a radio show Tuesday that the GOP won in the December deal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts, that it won in the spending showdown on the Continuing Resolution, and that Boehner's proposal on the debt ceiling is a winner as well.

Kudlow is right. The left is in retreat. Even if not every provision of every conservative plan is a good idea, and even if the victories aren't as big and don't come as fast as many of us would like, the reality is that this plethora of overwhelmingly solid, conservative proposals serves to keep the pressure on, serves to keep the ball (and public policy) moving in the right direction, and puts liberals into an electoral box. They will be defending huge deficits and higher taxes, without being able to show any economic benefits from them. Unemployment will still be higher than when Obama took office; gasoline and food prices will be higher; and the number of homeowners "under water" still will probably exceed the level Obama inherited.

Now is the time for conservatives to highlight those facts and attack the left for profligacy and incompetence, rather than to continue blasting (and nitpicking) each other for supposedly insufficient "guts" or weak dedication to the cause.

Fiscal conservatives are on the move. The liberal winter is thawing. The most important battle will be in November, 2012 -- followed by a long challenge to secure the victory by implementing good policy thereafter.

The excellent news is that people like Toomey, Ryan, and the thinkers at Heritage are laying out those good policy options right now. More power to them.

Letter to the Editor

Quin Hillyer is a senior editor of The American Spectator and a senior fellow at the Center for Individual Freedom.

Political Cartoons

From Town Hall:

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

Political Cartoons by Glenn Foden

Political Cartoons by Glenn Foden

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok

Political Cartoons by Chuck Asay

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

Political Cartoons by Nate Beeler

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Friday, May 13, 2011

John Boehner's Line In The Sand

From Red State:

John Boehner’s Line in the Sand

Posted by Erick Erickson (Profile)

Tuesday, May 10th at 5:00AM EDT


Last night, Speaker John Boehner addressed the Economic Club of New York and drew a line in the sand in the debt ceiling fight. It was a monumental game changer for the GOP and puts them back on offense.

Let me back up briefing and note that the Washington Post’s own left leaning editorial board came out swinging on Sunday against the Democrats’ opposition to the Republicans’ Medicare plans. Yes, *that* Washington Post.

It is with that buttressing him that Speaker Boehner gave last night’s speech. It was a doozy.

In it, he said,

Without significant spending cuts and reforms to reduce our debt, there will be no debt limit increase. And the cuts should be greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority the president is given.

We should be talking about cuts of trillions, not just billions.

They should be actual cuts and program reforms, not broad deficit or debt targets that punt the tough questions to the future.

And with the exception of tax hikes — which will destroy jobs — everything is on the table. That includes honest conversations about how best to preserve Medicare, because we all know, with millions of Baby Boomers beginning to retire, the status quo is unsustainable.

Now, we are talking about a Speaker who promised $100 billion, then $70 billion, then $35 billion, and got only $353 million in non-accounting gimmick cuts. But this sounds like John Boehner has figured out that he is going to have to lead from the right.

Assuming Boehner is serious here and wants to move forward without typical Washington accounting gimmicks, this is a solid and bold move. The Democrats have yet to offer up any real cuts in Washington’s budget. Every cut the GOP comes up with gets attacked for killing old people and kids.

It’s time for Barack Obama to get serious. With John Boehner drawing a line in the sand at trillions of cuts, Mr. Obama better come up with some solid suggestions

And if that was not enough, Jim DeMint is drawing a line in the sand too. You want his support? You must hold the line on the budget. I hope he applies this to incumbent Senators and not just challengers and Presidential nominees.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's Not Just Amateur Hour At The White House

From Red State:

It’s Not Just Amateur Hour at the White House

Posted by Erick Erickson (Profile)

Friday, May 6th at 10:40AM EDT


There are two stories out today that suggest it is not just amateur hour at the White House where five days after Osama Bin Laden went to sleep with Davy Jones there are still more questions than answers.

No, it is also amateur hour in the House of Representatives. Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) is declaring the fight to repeal Obamacare over. That’s right. He’s giving up. They won’t pick a fight.

If that were not stupid enough, Camp said that “Instead … the GOP would turn its focus to overturning the most controversial portion of that legislation: the mandate requiring individuals to buy insurance.”

If the House GOP is successful in repealing the individual mandate, the case from Florida that threw out the entire legislation would die before getting to the Supreme Court. The GOP would yet again have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

That’s not all though. It looks more and more like Paul Ryan is retreating from the field leaving the freshman House Republicans to take all the bullets over his own plan. It begs the question if he is the dumbest smart man in America.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) paid the heaviest price, stepping on his message even before White House talks had begun. But House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also played a part by opining publicly that it’s now unlikely that any debt deal this summer will include the wholesale Medicare changes that had been envisioned in his ambitious budget plan adopted just last month.

All this was news to the rank-and-file Republicans who had voted for the Ryan plan last month and felt political heat at home over the spring recess. And it left Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) as the unlikely tough guy on the block, pulling a Cantor on Cantor, so to speak.

The House Freshman went to Washington expecting a fight. Many of them have been willing to lose re-election in a fight to the death to reform entitles and get rid of Obamacare. It is what they promised to do. But the Republican leadership seems intent on pulling the football away just as the GOP is about to kick.

If the GOP leadership won’t stand up and fight, we’re going to need somebody new.

Monday, May 9, 2011

South Carolina Debate: Herman Cain Makes A Great First Impression

From Human Events:

South Carolina Debate: Herman Cain Makes A Great First Impression

by Tony Lee


When former Godfather Pizza CEO Herman Cain was in the midst of an answer to question during the first Republican primary debate (sponsored by Fox News and the South Carolina GOP) of the 2012 cycle in Greenville, South Carolina, the buzzer rang, indicating that Cain had reached his alloted 30 seconds.

Traditional politicians usually ignore the buzzer and finish their talking points or answers. Cain, though, simply stopped his answer, unlike what a traditional politician would do in that situation.

Later in the debate, when pressed by Chris Wallace, who was one of the moderators, about his lack of political experience, Cain simply responded, in what is becoming a patented line of his, that politicians have done more harm than good in Washington and asked the audience, "how's that working out for you?"

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, and former New Mexico Gary Johnson joined Cain on stage in what many political observers called a junior varsity debate. Potential heavyweights such as Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Jon Huntsman, Sarah Palin, Mitch Daniels, and Newt Gingrich were all absent.

Cain's outsider status, his clarity in his responses, and his successful past as a businessman who turned around companies that were failing, resonated with an audience that previously did not know much about him.

In fact, in a focus group by Frank Luntz right after the debate, voters who did not know who Cain was nearly unanimously declared him the winner.

Likewise, that same focus group seemed angry that other potential top-tier candidates ignored South Carolina, a state that has been essential to winning the GOP nomination since 1980. In fact, no GOP candidate has won the nomination without winning South Carolina since 1980.

So by showing up, Pawlenty was the other winner by default. Pawlenty had measured answers on a range of issues, smartly brought up an issue that is currently dear to many in South Carolina--Boeing--especially to Gov. Nikki Haley, and criticized Obama on healthcare while also admitting his past mistakes on climate change and cap and trade.

Gary Johnson floundered and was awkward at best and Ron Paul seemed to be finding his footing. Paul seems like an aging wrestler in his last hurrah, and it is to be determined whether he is hanging around well past his shelf-life or if he can be triumphant. Paul still has a fervent group of supporters who raised nearly a million dollars yesterday during an online "money bomb."

Santorum urged debate watchers to pick a candidate who has lived and fought for social values instead of merely "checking off the boxes." He said that if Republicans give up on social issues, it would be giving up on America, and he strongly supported the importance of learning English to succeed in this country.

But Pawlenty and Cain rightfully grabbed the night's headlines.

While Pawlenty seemed to say all the right things, the support for Cain represents both a general dissatisfaction among the GOP primary electorate with the current crop of mainstream candidates and an affirmation of his straight talking, outsider status, something that this cycle's primary voters will value, as evidenced by the high poll numbers of Donald Trump in recent weeks.

The debate seemed to be a preseason matchup weeks or months before the real campaign season kicks off, but Cain's showing showed that this cycle is going to be an anti-establishment cycle where clarity and fierceness may be valued above a candidate who merely does his or her best to check off all the requisite boxes.

Candidates who were not at the debate should take note.


Tony Lee edits The Chase 2012 section and writes on politics and culture for HUMAN EVENTS. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. E-mail: ALEE (at)


Wide Left In Wisconsin

From The American Spectator:


The Nation's Pulse

Wide-Left in Wisconsin

By J.T. Young on 5.4.11 @ 6:08AM

In their recall attempt of a state judge, Wisconsin liberals aimed, fired, … and missed. State Supreme Court Justice Prosser was supposed to be the left's first major reclamation project following last November's conservative resurgence. Instead of being the "shot heard across the country," it didn't even resonate across the state. It well reminds that liberals remain "more bang than bullet" in most of America.

Wisconsin has become the center of America's political crosswinds. Last November, Republicans took control of the federal congressional delegation, defeated an incumbent Senate Democrat, won the governorship, and gained majorities in both state houses. Flush from these victories, Governor Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled state legislature moved to make good on their campaign promises to get Wisconsin's finances in order.

Rather than stand and fight, state senate Democrats chose to cut and run -- literally. Making discretion the better part of valor, they left the state altogether in hopes of denying Republicans the numbers needed to conduct legislative business. In the meantime, the Left turned Madison into a madhouse -- a cross between a campus sit-in and a Renaissance festival -- that drew national attention.

After life on the lam failed, they undertook a recall campaign to try and undo what last November did by seeking to unseat lawmakers and judges who support the cost-cutting agenda. Enter Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser. Or as liberals had hoped: exit Justice Prosser. Their strategy was to replace him with Democrat JoAnne Kloppenburg, flip the court's majority, and declare unconstitutional the Republican reforms.

The problem with the second liberal strategy is the same as the first: they keep losing.

Of course liberal apologists are no more willing to accept the people's will a second time than they were the first. So if they are somehow unable to overturn it, they will explain this race's closeness indicates dissatisfaction with the new Republican majority's policies.

We should not be too quick to let liberals claim even a moral victory here. Despite large sums of outside money, an enraged liberal establishment, and apparent liberal momentum, the Democrat lost by over 7,300 votes. And all happening in a place that, until last November, had been pretty favorable to them.

Obama won Wisconsin 56%-42% in 2008. Until last November, Democrats controlled the state senate 18-15 and the state house 52-46. They also controlled Wisconsin's congressional delegation -- holding both Senate seats and five of the eight House seats.

On the other side, conservatives were in the worst possible place in their reform process. They had endured the pain that always comes from changing the status quo, but had not received any of the benefits from savings. It was all the pain, with none of the gain. Once the legislation's reforms have time to take hold, its benefits will accrue and support will grow. Liberals of course knew this, which is why they seek to forestall its effects for as long as they can.

Political warfare, like the real thing, moves in ebbs and flows. It is the nature of both that one side rises, becomes over-extended, and allows the other side to return. November's large conservative victory immediately had many focusing already on the pendulum's next swing. Even before Wisconsin, the question was: Will liberals reclaim their 2008 heights in 2012?

Wisconsin does not give the Left an optimistic answer. Its outcome really underscores how impotent liberals are nationally. According to exit polling (by Edison Media Research/Mitofsky International of over 17,000 respondents, MOE +/- 0.7%) over the past four national elections, liberals have averaged just 21.5% of the electorate, while conservatives have averaged 35.5%. Only by receiving disproportionate moderate support can liberals win in most places.

This does not mean that they will not fight tenaciously to defend government. They will because they have to. Conservatives, on the whole, flourish in the private sector. Liberals, on the whole, do not. They seek state-run solutions because they receive a larger proportional return from them. The Left's disproportionate return means they will mount a disproportionate defense of it.

Wisconsin tells us, that while the political pendulum will continue to swing, it has not turned back the clock. Liberals took their best shot at a time when conservatives presented them an inviting target in an inviting location. And still they missed -- wide-left.

No one said that enacting a conservative agenda would be easy. Just that it is necessary. Wisconsin's recent experience contradicts neither point. What Wisconsin does say is that enactment is possible. Even here.

Letter to the Editor

J.T. Young served in the Department of Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget from 2001 to 2004 and as a Congressional staff member from 1987 to 2000.

We Don't Need A Tax Increase

From The CATO Institute:

We Don't Need a Tax Increase

by Richard W. Rahn

This article appeared in The Washington Times on May 4, 2011.



Sans Serif


Share with your friends:


President Obama and many other Democrats — and even a few Republicans — claim that the huge deficits the United States is experiencing result from the George W. Bush-era tax rate cuts. Is this true, and must we have a tax rate increase? The short answer is no.

First, a little budget history. In the 40 years prior to the 2007-09 Great Recession, tax revenues as percentage of gross domestic product were remarkably constant, never varying more than 2.3 percent above or below 18.3 percent of GDP. This fact is all the more remarkable given that the maximum individual income tax rate during this period varied from a low of 28 percent to a high of 70 percent. Federal government expenditures also were remarkably constant during this same 40-year period, never lower than 18.2 percent or higher than 23.5 percent of GDP, and deficits averaged about 2.5 percent. The debt-to-GDP ratio rose and fell during this period and was a manageable 36 percent as late as 2007. Yet, in the past four years, the debt-to-GDP ratio has almost doubled.

The accompanying table details some basic facts. In 1986 (under President Reagan), there was a tax reform, which by 1988 had a maximum individual tax rate of only 28 percent. The maximum rate was raised to 39.6 percent under President Clinton in 1993 and reduced to 35 percent under President Bush in 2003. Although tax rates went down in the 1980s, up in the 1990s and down again in the first decade of this century, each decade had some normal years (neither bust nor boom) that produced the 40-year average tax revenue of 18.3 percent of GDP. These "average" periods also had close to average deficits, but in each period, the deficit was less than the rate of economic growth, so the debt-to-GDP ratio fell.

Richard W. Rahn is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth.

More by Richard W. Rahn

What all these numbers show us is that the current tax regime, in normal times (with normal economic growth rates — approximately 3 percent), will produce enough tax revenue to cover the historical rate of spending with only a small and manageable deficit. The current long-term deficit and GDP-to-debt problem was caused by a big jump in federal "stimulus" spending over the past three years — not the Bush tax cuts. This has caused federal spending to rise from its historic 20 percent to up to 25 percent of GDP.

In essence, Mr. Obama and the others who are advocating tax increases — either enthusiastically or reluctantly — are saying that they want or expect the federal government to be bigger as a share of the national economy than it has been in the past and this bigger government should be financed through higher taxes. Wanting a bigger government is a value judgment. Saying a bigger government is a necessary evil because of the rising cost of "entitlements" misses the point that under present law and practice, the costs of the entitlements never stop rising as a percentage of GDP until they consume the whole pie, which obviously will not happen.


Tax Revenues and Tax Rates in "Normal Years"




Avg. Tax Revenue as a % of GDP




Avg. Outlays as a % of GDP




Deficit as a % of GDP




Max. Income Tax Rate (%)




Avg. Rate of Economic Growth (%)




Sources: Congressional Budget Office, Bureau of Economic Analysis

The real question is what percentage of our incomes do we divert to pay for entitlements and how best should this be financed? House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has set forth a plan to finance entitlement spending without increasing taxes, and he has challenged others to come up with alternative plans that can be debated.

Medicare is the single biggest problem in that it is and will continue to be a rapidly rising share of GDP under current policy. But if it is decided not to allow Medicare to increase as a share of GDP, it could be accomplished immediately by some combination of increasing co-payments, deductibles, means testing, etc. None of the entitlements is "uncontrollable" as is often alleged. The only thing lacking is the political will to make hard decisions.

Mr. Obama has made it clear in his statements and in his proposed budgets that he wants a bigger government. Yet he has proposed the most inefficient and destructive way of trying to finance this bigger government. His proposals involve increasing taxes on the rich (i.e., those earning more than $200,000 a year, which is a rather loose definition of rich). If he had even a most basic understanding of economics and public finance, he would know that there is insufficient income among this group to pay for the programs he wants. The chances of getting them to pay much more is close to zero because increases in some tax rates do not necessarily result in more tax revenue. The United States already has one of the most progressive income tax systems in the world. Thus, the only way for the government to obtain significantly more revenue is to increase taxes greatly on the lower- and middle-income groups who now pay very little. But increasing tax rates on the upper-, middle- or lower-income groups will have the nasty side effects of further slowing economic growth and increasing unemployment.

One of the first things that economic students learn is if you tax something, you get less of it, and if you subsidize something, you get more of it. Mr. Obama, in his radio address Saturday, said his solution to high gasoline prices is to increase taxes on oil companies, which produce the gasoline. Reagan understood the importance of economic growth and was the last president to have a degree in economics — and it showed. Mr. Obama wants wealth redistribution and appears never to have read a basic economics book — and it shows.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

POTUS' Priorities

From Human Events--Guns & Patriots:

POTUS' Priorities

by Oliver North


PITTSBURGH -- According to the experts, this ought to be "Obama Country." In the 2008 presidential election, the Obama "Hope and Change" machine scored big in western Pennsylvania, carrying the region with nearly 58 percent of the vote. But this week, there's little evidence of that support here in the Steel City, where more than 70,000 freedom-loving Americans have gathered for the National Rifle Association's 140th annual meeting.

On Wednesday, while NRA officials were making final preparations for the "Three Rivers Celebration of American Values," President Barack Obama made an unanticipated visit to the White House pressroom for a "special announcement." Several police officers -- veterans of the campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan or both -- were in the security operations center here when a duty officer announced that the television networks were interrupting regular programming for live coverage of urgent presidential remarks.

Because this was transpiring on the 206th anniversary of the first U.S. Marine expedition -- to "the shores of Tripoli" -- it occurred to some that the commander in chief might be going to deliver an important message about the current chaos in Libya, the Middle East or Afghanistan. But no, POTUS had something of far greater consequence on his mind -- more crucial than American troops fighting a two-front war, the NATO-generated stalemate in North Africa or a bloodbath in Syria. He wanted to talk about his birth certificate.

Obama's blessedly brief comments, delivered without the aid of a teleprompter, stunned everyone in the room. "You've got to be kidding me!" and "They broke in for that?" were the least onerous expletive-deleted comments from the "audience" in the security center.

Their critique had nothing to do with where Obama was born. Little was said about why he had waited -- "for 2 1/2 years," by his own admission -- to resolve what he described as "this kind of silliness." Instead, the overwhelming sentiment was colossal disappointment that the leader of the Free World had stooped to whine about being "distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers" while our nation confronts monumental problems.

"I'm ashamed to say, I voted for him," one of the policemen said to me as we walked out of the command post. He continued: "My National Guard unit was called up for duty in Iraq while Bush was president. After Obama was elected, I volunteered to go to Afghanistan with a police (mobile training team). Though I didn't agree with George Bush about Iraq, I never doubted he really meant it when he said he cared about all of us over there and prayed for us every day. But all Obama thinks about is himself."

That's a striking, provocative observation about Barack Obama from a self-professed former supporter. Whether the president's sudden appearance in the White House pressroom was really "impromptu," "unplanned" and "spontaneous," as administration officials claim, or part of a strategic public relations plan gone awry is irrelevant. Either way, Wednesday's surreal birth certificate announcement is evidence of extraordinary self-infatuation.

In his remarks, Obama asserted: "I've got better stuff to do. We've got big problems to solve." Yet there is little indication that this president is deeply preoccupied with issues that ought to warrant his full attention.

Less than 12 hours before he "popped in" to remind the press corps about his birthplace, nine Americans were killed in Afghanistan. Scores of rebels and refugees were butchered in Misrata, Libya, by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. In Syria, Bashar Assad's army unleashed a series of vicious assaults on unarmed protesters, making a mockery of Obama's "responsibility to protect civilians" foreign policy. In that same time frame, devastating tornadoes touched down in major American cities -- destroying homes, office buildings and schools while killing hundreds of our countrymen -- and gasoline prices hit a new high. Yet none of this warranted even a brief utterance from the president.

Supporters cite Obama's "dispassionate detachment" and his "coolness in crisis" as attributes to explain his apparent indifference to unforeseen, unexpected and unpleasant events. In 2010, when he all but ignored the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, his inaction was depicted as "taking time to consider all possible options." As events spiraled out of control in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and then Libya, it was suggested that he was "working behind the scenes to build consensus." His failure to speak out promptly about the catastrophic earthquake/tsunami that devastated Japan was explained as "stoic compassion."

Perhaps. But Wednesday's very strange birth certificate appearance suggests a far less charitable explanation for what's been happening in the Obama White House: a lengthy, ongoing session of self-absorbed navel gazing. If that's the case, America's adversaries in Tripoli, Tehran, Damascus, Beijing, Pyongyang and Caracas must have chortled when the president of the United States took time to explain to the world where and when he was born. Meanwhile, here in Pittsburgh, several hundred thousand Americans are convinced POTUS has his priorities all wrong.


Lt. Col. North (Ret.) is a nationally syndicated columnist and the author of the FOX News/Regnery books, "War Stories: Operation Iraqi Freedom," "War Stories II: Heroism in the Pacific" and "War Stories III: The Heroes Who Defeated Hitler." Lt. North hosts "War Stories Investigates: Drugs, Money and Narco-Terror" Saturday, Aug. 22, at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. EDT on Fox News Channel.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Obama's Super-Secret Presidency

From Town Hall:

John Ransom

Obama's Super-Secret Presidency

Email John Ransom
Columnist's Archive

Share Buzz



Nothing displayed Barack Obama’s Achilles’ heel better than the presentation of his birth certificate last week.

Geez. Was that so tough? I thought.

It’s not possible to overstate the lengths to which O’s administration and campaign apparatus go in order to keep secrets from the press and the American people and themselves.

In doing so, they have only succeeded in fooling the last on the list, at enormous cost to the rest of us.

As Henry Asquith, British prime minister, once observed of Britain’s war-time bureaucracy: "[They keep three sets of figures:] one to mislead the public, another to mislead the Cabinet, and the third to mislead itself."

Mike Shedlock: Coercion, Threats and Bribery by Unions

Mark Baisley: Unions, Education and Innovation

After three years of demonizing, birtherizing and moralizing, Obama finally did what he ought to have done a long time ago. He replaced rhetoric with action and released a document that we all have to show at some time or another in our life to get a passport or a driver’s license or enter the military.

Being president isn’t a birthright for a favorite son; it’s a privilege.

Documentation comes with the job.

No fooling.

It doesn’t matter that others will still think the certificate is a phony. What matters is that after a delay of three years regarding an ordinary document request, Obama, just as he has on so many occasions, delayed past the point of credibility.

But the birth certificate faux pas is not the worst of our president’s credibility problems.

Because Obama has a number of secrets that are much, much more damaging, especially so because these are secrets that he seems to be keeping from himself.

Let’s take, for example, his secret war in Libya.

Or his secret plan to end our dependence on foreign oil.

Or his secret plan to pay down America’s national debt.

Or his secret plan to create jobs.

Putting aside the secret questions raised about his identity, his religion and his ideology, supporters would be hard pressed to explain Obama’s plans in any of the policy areas from energy to war to finance.

Those are the secrets that the American people are most interested in. They are the secrets they are most confused about too.

In several well-publicized speeches Obama has tried to explain to the rest of us his plans in these areas of policy.

But they still remain a secret, even I suppose to him.

The readings from his teleprompter on those occasions, like the release of his birth certificate last week, have given us more questions than they have answers.

The only salient question, then, for 2012 is this:

Just who is Barack Hussein Obama?

It’s a question that should have been asked of him a long time ago.

Perhaps in 2010?

Is he the guy who slammed Hillary’s “public option” on healthcare reform when he was running for president or is he the guy who as president shoved it down our throat?

Is he the guy who opined while he was in the Senate that the experiment in state-building in Iraq wasn’t worth it? Or is he the guy who is engaged in wars in Afghanistan and Libya with the aim of building new nation-states as president?

Is he the guy who bragged he’d put the coal business out of business or is he the guy who gave billions away to research clean coal technologies?

Is he the kid who wanted to be prime minister of Indonesia or the candidate who wanted to be president of the United States; or is he the president who told us it would be easier to be leader of the Chinese.

I doubt he even knows.

The presidency is not a place where one finds one’s self. Instead it’s a place where one find’s out what he is made of.

Obama, it seems, would rather not know.

And that’s not really secret anymore.

See also:

Mike Shedlock: Coercion, Threats and Bribery by Unions

Mark Baisley: Unions, Education and Innovation

Larry Kudlow: Stagflation: It's Back

Kathy Fettke: Gold vs Real Estate

Bob Goldman: The Desk Chair of Death

Carrie Schwab Pomerantz: Paying Off Student Loans


You can email John Ransom at

You can follow him on Twitter @bamransom and on Facebook: bamransom.


Get John Ransom's daily market commentary at:




John Ransom

John Ransom is the Finance Editor for Townhall Finance. You can follow him on twitter @bamransom and on Facebook: bamransom.

Political Cartoons

From Town Hall:

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok

Political Cartoons by Chuck Asay

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

President Obama's Birth Certificate: Why Now?

From Red State:

President Obama’s Birth Certificate: Why Now?

Posted by Melissa Clouthier (Profile)

Wednesday, April 27th at 6:37PM EDT


To answer any question economic, foreign policy or political regarding President Obama one must only answer one question: What is good for Obama?

President Obama coughed up his birth certificate today. So, the question is: How is this good for Obama?

It has been my view that the “birther” issue turned bad for President Obama some time before the latest round in the press brought the issue to a head.

Here’s the thing about rumors: If people like you, they won’t believe even the most vicious gossip. Like a besotted lover, who refuses to see faults, a political supporter will just see all rainbows and bunnies.

When people start to dislike you, though, they’ll believe every spurious and outrageous claim. Why? Because they’re looking for evidence to support their changed belief.

Americans are looking for evidence to support their changed belief about President Obama. They once looked at their President adoringly. No Jeremiah Wrights, Bill Ayers, lack of college transcripts, lack of scholarly writing, lack of record, or lack of any sort of meaningful resumé would dissuade the public (and certainly not the lapdog press) from their devotion.

But it only takes so many smacks to the head at the gas pump and grocery store and job and bank to make people stop digging the guy who promised them everything. And I mean everything.

Liberals should know what playing with this sort of fire is like. They used it to great effect themselves. Remember the “Bush Lied, Babies Died!” chants? Yeah, well, to their chagrin, the ranting and raving didn’t work at first and President Bush got reelected.

And then President Bush’s second term came around. The press had hounded him (unlike how they cover for President Obama–who would have no approval ratings whatsoever, if the press were honest). The mantras started to work. People started believing that President Bush had lied about weapons of mass destruction. Worse, people believed that President Bush had knowledge of, or even planned the destruction wrought on 9/11. And many on the left still believe this. Why? They want to believe it–to justify their feelings about him.

Facts don’t matter in the political world at the point when people want to believe ill of you. I’ll repeat: Facts Do Not Matter.

People will add stupid evidence to smart evidence to substantial evidence. What they’re looking for is evidence.

Americans, even people who would normally not fall for a rumor that President Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii, started asking, “Yeah, why won’t the President just release the stupid birth certificate? I have a birth certificate. This is no big deal. Why is he making a big deal?”

It is easier to ask outrageous questions about the President than it is to admit making a mistake about electing him to begin with. It’s easier to believe you’re deceived than to make a stupid decision.

President Obama is nothing if not a political beast. He knows, and has known, for a while now, that the birth certificate issue is not fun for him anymore. When he was wink winking away at his buddies in the media (winky wink Jounolist!), it was delicious making people look like fools. Aren’t those right wing crazies crazy? Tee hee!!

President Obama was treating the issue like a juvenile. Unsurprising. He presides as a child.

The last two months, though, have been less fun. With his poll numbers diving and people wanting to be mad at him, President Obama decided to come out today.

Today is as good as any. He had more important information to stomp on–you know high level placements like Leon Panetta at the Defense Department whose first goal is cutting the budget. And even more interesting, David Petraeus moves to the CIA.

Even Politico questions the timing:

To say the timing was curious is an understatement — Obama thoroughly stepped on the news that he was nominating a new secretary of defense (Leon Panetta) and CIA chief (Gen. David Petraeus) by making an announcement that he could have made any time in the past two years or in the near or distant future.

Details. Andrew Malcolm elaborates:

So, here you go. Talk amongst yourselves about this birth certificate thing. While the president and his wife fly Air Force One all the way out to Chicago for the singular purpose of repaying a syndicated television show host who helped them in the crucial early campaign days of 2007.

And then, while you’re still poring over the certificate and the silliness of the entire issue, the president will be flying Air Force One all the way back to New York City tonight for not one, not two, but three Democratic fundraisers. Including one that costing attendees more than 35G’s.

To demonstrate his equanimity, Obama will also likely make a joke during those remarks about the silly birther issue, which will make him seem like a good-natured victim of these superficial clowns who’ve been chasing him to do what he well knew all along they would want him to do lo these many months.


What did President Obama talk about to the press today? His birth certificate. He could have stopped the nonsense at any time. He didn’t because it served his purposes.

He put his birth certificate out there today. Why? It served his purposes. The birth certificate rumors no longer help President Obama.