Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Growth only way to avoid U.S. economic collapse

From James Pethokoukis via Instapundit:

Lucky this baby didn’t land during the G20 meeting! America’s fiscal judge, the Congressional Budget Office, has produced another nightmare report. The bad news: U.S. debt-to-GDP will hit 858 percent by 2080, roughly ten times today’s level. The “good” news: The economy would implode long before. But avoiding that fate requires just the right balance now between austerity and a push for real, private-sector led economic growth.

Of course, that’s the very debate dividing the U.S. and Europe right now. How deep should spending cuts be? How high should taxes go? Should the pain come sooner or a bit later? Even the Obama White House isn’t of one mind. Some top advisers, such as Larry Summers, see the weak recovery as an argument for more spending. Others, like exiting budget chief Peter Orszag, think it’s time to start slashing and hacking.

The CBO feigns agnosticism on such matters. Its job is to merely run the numbers, and let policymakers drawn their own conclusions. And the numbers are alarming. Under its most likely scenario – the one where politicians keep spending and otherwise acting like politicians — debt as a share of the total economy will reach 87 percent by 2020, 185 percent by 2035.

And the economy itself? Well, CBO computer models stark to get hinky at high debt levels. So director Douglas Elmendorf and staff just plug in an assumption that GDP keeps rolling along at a so-so 2 percent annually with 10-year Treasuries stuck at 3 percent. Both, the CBO admits, are highly unlikely.

But here’s the thing: To keep scary debt scenarios at bay, the more growth the better. If labor productivity, for instance, increased like it did in the 1960s — or 50 percent faster than CBO’s dreary forecasts — the debt load in a quarter century would be 25 percent less. Or this: If the economy were to grow a bit faster than its 20th-century average, about 3.5 percent, a much wealthier America would be able to afford projected spending without raising taxes. The long-term budget gap would vanish.

So growth helps a lot. Indeed, some 30 debt-plagued nations since 1980 have tried to reduce their indebtedness through such austerity measures. In practically all cases, according to a study by financial giant UBS, the increase in national debt was only slowed, not reversed, by such policy pain.

After all, it wasn’t just spending cuts that helped Canada — a favorite example of successful austerity — escape its 1990s debt trap. An export-led boom also helped grow the debt-GDP denominator. That would be a tough path for America to follow, but it can follow some other Canadian examples such as cutting taxes on companies and capital low. Spending cuts also seem to hurt growth less than tax hikes. There really is no other path

Spend, Baby, Spend

From David Harsanyi at The Denver Post: via RealCLearPolitics:

Not long ago, President Barack Obama ordered the creation of a commission that would report back to him with policy recommendations on cutting the federal deficit.

And as great leaders throughout history have proved, the most effective way to tend to any intergenerational crisis is to create a bipartisan commission to study it -- but only after midterm elections.

You, the public, are only asked to suspend your disbelief and accept that the president is deeply worried about the deficit, the huge national debt and the federal spending explosion. As a candidate, after all, the president assured us that he would scour the budget "line by line" for any wasteful spending, yet today we've seen the national debt climb to $13 trillion, and federal spending is nearly 25 percent of gross domestic product. Washington likely will spend $1.56 trillion more than it took in last year -- putting the Bush administration to shame.

At the G-20 summit, in fact, for the first time in history, the U.S. president is the one advocating that other nations hasten their bankruptcy agendas, increase government debt and strengthen control economies by offering more "stimulus."

Hasn't the president heard? His own administration doesn't have the nerve to refer to the trillion-dollar government/union boondoggle as a "stimulus" anymore. Today the preferred White House parlance is "emergency" bill.

Yet the audacity of hope dictates that the president turn the tables on his critics and start kicking some serious tea party butt. That's why we heard this from him: "Next year, when I start presenting some very difficult choices to the country, I hope some of these folks who are hollering about deficits and debt start stepping up, because I'm calling their bluff."

Now, by "difficult choices," rest assured we're talking about a bundle of tax increases -- because no one in Washington right now will significantly cut spending. Democrats claim that nothing can be taken off the table in the budget fix. Which is good to know when the discussion turns to capital gains cuts, corporate tax cuts or slashing entitlement programs and subsidies for those morally sound industries the left loves.

Republicans, on the other hand, face a political dilemma, as well. They are bluffing. Cutting funding for the National Endowment for the Arts? The Department of Education? Senate salaries? Is that going to do the trick? If the Republicans want to be credible on the issue, they must do more than reverse Obamacare, which is improbable in the short term, anyway.

A recent Pew Research poll found that 23 percent -- a growing number -- of Americans believe that the federal budget deficit is the top concern facing the nation. If the opposition party -- needing redemption on this issue -- can't offer a coherent, viable long-term strategy to undo the damage done by reckless spending, it is going to be doomed to remain in the minority for a long time.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Doctor's Take On Health Care

At RealClearPolitics:

By Mariela Resendes, M.D.

As a practicing doctor in California it troubles me that those with the ability to influence health care legislation have either been politically motivated to remain silent, or strikingly inarticulate when it comes to voicing the major issues patients and taxpayers will face with the new health care bill. My own, long-held view has been that any reform should be of the free market variety.

In that sense, I'm increasingly scared as I learn more about what's inside the health legislation passed by Congress not long ago. Despite the rising level of unhappiness with what has transpired, it dismays me that the general public, like me, is not fully aware of the financial tsunami that is on the way for patients, insurers and hospitals thanks to this legislation, not to mention the irregular way in which it was passed.

In the newspapers we all read that the legislation was passed via reconciliation. Most people do not understand what this represented. What Congress did was to pass this legislation under the Congressional Budget Act of 1984, which allows a loophole to avoid a 60 vote filibuster in laws which refer to changes in revenue and spending amounts; i.e. budgetary issues.

The legislation which Congress passed certainly does affect the budget, but clearly the bill's intent wasn't budgetary; rather it concerned dramatic changes for a large portion of our economy: health care. Given the bill's intent, one can only hope that the upcoming elections bring greater ideological balance so that what promises to be damaging can at the very least be amended.

"Obamacare", as it is colloquially termed, is financially a disaster for doctors, hospitals, insurers, and will ultimately be a disaster for our nation's budget. It is also unfortunate for patients needing care.

Obamacare's proponents tout the legislation's cost controls, along with expansion of coverage for those who currently do not have insurance. The policy wonks seek cost containment and "efficient" use of resources. More realistically, cost containment could only be achieved if access to care were rationed.

Rationing in mind, Rahm Emmanuel's brother published a very well received paper in the New England Journal Of Medicine about efficient or optimal deployment of resources in health care. The upshot is that a young man is worth spending a lot of money on, a young child much less, and for seniors, pretty much nothing; all in a calculated return on investment model.

For physicians, Obamacare initially offered promises of tort reform, as well as promises to reverse the Medicare cuts that made it so difficult for physicians to practice. Neither is in the final legislation. As a result, doctors will continue to practice defensive medicine, and for doing so will face 20%+ cuts in their Medicare payments.

Physicians in primary care will initially see an income boost from 2011-2014, thus encouraging them to take on indigent patients the system needs to absorb. Unfortunately, starting in 2014, the payments per patient will fall for primary care doctors too.

Specialists will receive a financial hit right from the beginning. The goal here is to have less in the way of specialists, and more general practitioners. On its face this will drive more doctors into early retirement.

As for the physicians that choose to continue practicing, they'll have difficulty staying afloat financially, and many will seek employment opportunities similar to those of "foundation" practices (such as those seen in states like California where hospitals can't employ physicians), or hospital owned practices in other states.

The explicit goal here is to slow the move toward private practice. Doctors in foundation types of practices act more like union or shift-workers, and less like professionals. Their productivity tends to be lower than in traditional private practices; ergo more doctors are needed for a similar number of patients. Considering a scenario of rising physician retirement alongside a large increase in the number of patients, it is unclear how treatment and diagnosis will occur in a timely fashion.

Hospitals are similarly not going to fare well, and many will simply go under. Previously, hospitals took in higher payments from privately insured patients in order to care for those who couldn't pay, or for those covered by Medicaid. At the same time, hospitals which had a higher number of indigent patients also received what is called disproportionate share funds from state and federal governments. Rural hospitals in particular received extra funds.

But with Washington's new mandate, the expectation is that all of the previous non-paying patients will now pay for themselves such that subsidies for indigent-care will be eliminated. Unfortunately, this will occur in concert with reduced inflows from privately insured patients whose costs will be reduced to Medicaid levels.

In short, the money from the increased volume of "paying" patients is not enough to counter the loss of disproportionate funds and decreased classic private insurance payments. The net result will be a deficit for many hospitals. They will not be able to keep their doors open if they sustain persistent losses, which is what is expected.

Many insurance companies will be squeezed out of existence thanks to rules that will bar them from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. And unlike the federal government they won't be able to operate in the red forever. The end result points to a single-payer system run out of Washington.

Looking ahead, it is increasingly apparent that by 2020 we will have severe cuts in service thanks to rising retirement among doctors, a decrease in the number of private insurers, and a reduction in the number of hospitals due to federal mandates that fail to marry costs with services. The end result will be rationing and delay of elective procedures, denial of expensive but effective treatments a la England, and most likely a single-payer system the likes of which is seen in other, less advanced health care systems around the world.

Dr. Resendes is in private practice. She spent the previous 5 years as the Managing Partner/CEO of the largest Radiology practice in the San Joaquin Valley of California, CMI Radiology Group.

Ask you docotor what he/she thinks!-SP

Rick Santelli Does It Again!! "Stop spending, stop spending, stop spending"!!!

At YouTube via Drudge:

It REALLY is that simple!!!!!!  Rick Santelli is  a Real American Hero!-SP

Monday, June 28, 2010

Americans relate to Founders, not Progressives

From Michael Barone at The Washington Examiner:

Democrats are reportedly planning to raise $125 million for a campaign to sell Obamacare to the voting public. Apparently the idea is that what 50-plus presidential speeches and statements and months of congressional debate could not do can be done by $125 million spent on everything from TV ads to community organizers.

Maybe. But there seems to be a more fundamental problem here. The Obama Democrats didn't set out to produce an unpopular stimulus package, an unpopular health care bill and an unpopular cap-and-trade scheme.

They thought these initiatives would be popular. In their view, history is a story of progress from small government to big government and, as historians of the New Deal wrote, that progress is especially welcome in times of economic distress.

The massive unpopularity of the Obama Democrats' programs suggests that view of history is defective. Let me propose another, starting with the Founding Fathers.

The Founders believed there was a tension between representative government and the right to life, liberty and property. So they wrote the Fifth Amendment to insure that no citizen was deprived of those rights without due process of law.

In Britain, that tension had been limited by allowing only property owners to vote. That way, those without property could not elect representatives who would steal from the rich and give to the poor.

In the early years of our republic, that precaution did not seem necessary. We were a nation of farmers where land was plentiful and labor scarce. The large majority of citizens then considered relevant -- white adult males -- actually owned the land they farmed. There was no danger in allowing all of them to vote, because the large majority owned property.

The definition of relevant citizens in time expanded to include blacks and women. But as Americans and immigrants increasingly clustered in enormous cities, and as large industrial factories employed thousands of low-skill workers, the percentage of property owners fell.

One hundred years ago, most urban Americans rented rather than owned their homes. Many had no bank accounts and few had significant financial assets. Elites worried that this proletariat might rise in revolution.

In this America, the Progressives argued that the Founders' vision was obsolete. Property rights should be subordinate to human rights. Government should regulate economic activity and "spread the wealth around," as Barack Obama told Joe the Plumber.

This view animated the New Deal in the 1930s and appealed to the non-property-owning majority. Franklin Roosevelt sowed the idea, harvested by the New Deal historians, that an ever-expanding government was both good and necessary. Democrats were referencing this when they said they were "making history" by passing their health care bill.

Their problem is that the America of the Progressives and New Dealers no longer exists. Government home finance programs helped make us a nation of homeowners. Technological progress and deregulation squeezed out transportation and communications and made the necessities of life less costly, enabling citizens to accumulate significant wealth in their working years.

True, we carried some of these things too far. Efforts to raise homeownership over 65 percent resulted in a housing price crash. Poorly understood financial innovations resulted in the financial crisis of 2008.

But we still live in an America like the America of the Founders, and unlike the America of the Progressives and the New Dealers, in which a majority of citizens are or have every prospect of becoming property owners. And a nation of property owners is less willing to plunder the property of others in search of some promised gain than a nation where most people don't and will never own significant property.

So when Susan Roesgen, then of CNN, upbraided a Tea Party protester in 2009 by reminding him that he was getting a $400 tax rebate thanks to the Democrats' stimulus package, she was met with utter dismissal. You don't sell out your property rights for a mere $400.

The polls and the post-2008 election results show that the purported beneficiaries of the Obama Democrats' programs are unenthusiastic about voting and people with modest incomes are trending heavily Republican. The only enthusiasm for the Obama Democrats' policies comes from David Brooks's "educated class": people who are or identify with the centralized experts tasked by the Obama Democrats with making decisions for the rest of us. Unfortunately for the Obama Democrats, they, unlike property owners, are not a majority in today's America.

Baron Hill/Joe Biden Protest Update!!!

From WHAS-11 in Louisville:

Great job Fellow Patriots!!!-SP

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Don't Forget Baron Hill/Joe Biden Protest in Jeffersonville, IN Monday!!!

Here is the contact info :

BaronHill/Joe Biden TEA Party Demonstration

500 Missouri Avenue

Jeffersonville, IN

Contact Info:

Kelly Khuri
Mark Holwager or 812 498 5847

Please spread the word to ALL Ninth District Patriots!!
This will be your opportunity to show the Progressive Washington elite that we're not going to roll over!!  We need to reasseert our prescence!!  Please be there!!-SP

FreedomMakers Rally in Terre Haute, IN August 7!!!

Please plan on attending this AWESOME event!! This is not your typical's going to be like a Tea Party on Steroids!!! Bring your lawn chairs and join us for a day of education! I promise, when you leave this event you will have an action plan to restore our FREEDOMS!

Pre-Regisration is requested. $5 per person to cover the expenses of the day (nobody's getting rich here!) payable by check to The United Freedom Makers with "Aug 7 rally" in the memo line (mail to Sarah Seaton 1122 East Walnut Street Boonville, IN 47601)

or by Paypal to account: (please include a note in the message line to indicate the number of attendees and names).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Is U.S. Now On Slippery Slope To Tyranny?

From Thomas Sowell at IBD:

When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics.

Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were particularly susceptible to Hitler's rhetoric and had far less basis for questioning his assumptions or his conclusions.

"Useful idiots" was the term supposedly coined by V.I. Lenin to describe similarly unthinking supporters of his dictatorship in the Soviet Union.

Put differently, a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive.

In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it.

The president's poll numbers are going down because increasing numbers of people disagree with particular policies of his, but the damage being done to the fundamental structure of this nation goes far beyond particular counterproductive policies.

Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere.

And yet that is precisely what is happening with a $20 billion fund to be provided by BP to compensate people harmed by their oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Many among the public and in the media may think that the issue is simply whether BP's oil spill has damaged many people, who ought to be compensated.

But our government is supposed to be "a government of laws and not of men."

If our laws and our institutions determine that BP ought to pay $20 billion — or $50 billion or $100 billion — then so be it.

But the Constitution says that private property is not to be confiscated by the government without "due process of law."

Technically, it has not been confiscated by Barack Obama, but that is a distinction without a difference.

With vastly expanded powers of government available at the discretion of politicians and bureaucrats, private individuals and organizations can be forced into accepting the imposition of powers that were never granted to the government by the Constitution.

If you believe that the end justifies the means, then you don't believe in constitutional government.

And, without constitutional government, freedom cannot endure. There will always be a "crisis" — which, as the president's chief of staff has said, cannot be allowed to "go to waste" as an opportunity to expand the government's power.

That power will of course not be confined to BP or to the particular period of crisis that gave rise to the use of that power, much less to the particular issues.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt arbitrarily took the United States off the gold standard, he cited a law passed during the First World War to prevent trading with the country's wartime enemies. But there was no war when FDR ended the gold standard's restrictions on the printing of money.

At about the same time, during the worldwide Great Depression, the German Reichstag passed a law "for the relief of the German people."

That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people — indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others.

If the agreement with BP was an isolated event, perhaps we might hope that it would not be a precedent. But there is nothing isolated about it.

The man appointed by President Obama to dispense BP's money as the administration sees fit, to whomever it sees fit, is only the latest in a long line of presidentially appointed "czars" controlling different parts of the economy, without even having to be confirmed by the Senate, as Cabinet members are.

Those who cannot see beyond the immediate events to the issues of arbitrary power — vs. the rule of law and the preservation of freedom — are the "useful idiots" of our time. But useful to whom?

Malice and Incompetence

From Jerry Pournelle:

I don't think there's much doubt about the objectives of President Obama and the intellectuals who generate his philosophical principles. They were all pretty clear during the campaign. Obama sat in Wright's church for nearly twenty years, he worked for Acorn and is proud of it, and he made it pretty clear that he considered spreading the wealth around a good idea. His foreign policy is derived from liberal left principles, his policies come straight out of academic socialist theory, and he has never made any secret of his distaste for federalism and states rights. Some of this was obscured by campaign rhetoric, but none of it was hidden.

It's probably true that most of those who voted for him didn't see it that way. After all, Obama was part of the Chicago machine, and that's politics. It's all politics, politicians don't really mean what they say anyway, and he was the candidate of Hope and Change. Besides, did you expect us to vote for the Creeps who spent like drunken sailors, expanded government in all fields except regulation, gave us TSA which may or may not have made us safer (surely there were better ways?) but certainly made us understand that we are subjects, not citizens, brought us Abramoff, and presided over the Great Recession. Obama may at bottom have been a hard socialist masking his views in clouds of rhetoric, but that wasn't really obvious, and what a great way to rid the country of the residual guilt of slavery! Obama was clean and articulate and didn't have an accent unless he wanted to, he could make a great speech, and --

In the cold light of the months after the inauguration it became apparent that Obama meant every word and implication of his remark about spreading the wealth around, and he intended to use his office, and the super majority the election of Al Franken gave him, to implement as much of the Acorn program as possible. He gave press conferences, then discontinued them for political reasons. He made speech after speech, continuing the campaign, and the speeches were more and more dictated by the academic leftists of which he has always been a part. It wasn't so much that a mask of centrism slipped, as that it became clear that it was never all that firmly affixed in the first place. Obama is a liberal socialist and always has been.

So the question becomes, is liberal socialist democracy evil or incompetent, or just plain wrong?

Are political opponents evil or wrongheaded? Are Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, both Liberal Democrats, part of a malicious conspiracy? Their objectives are pretty clear and plain. If Liberal Democracy is a conspiracy, it hasn't done much of a job of hiding its objectives. They've been clear since the days of Beatrice and Sydney Webb. So have their tactics: there is no enemy to the left. Solidarity forever. The union makes us strong. George Bernard Shaw was aware of Stalin's starvation tactics and the Ukraine famine, but chose not to say anything about it because Solidarity was a guiding principle. So were many others, for the same reasons. Being a communist fellow traveler was quite fashionable among intellectuals. It took the Hitler Stalin Pact to break the subservience of American intellectuals to the Popular Front, and even then many stayed with the communists. Recall Fred Pohl: An intellectual friend, well known in science fiction circles of 1940, brought the news of the Fall of Paris to the Germans to Fred and other editors.

"He bought us wine, held up his glass, and proposed a toast: "To the liberation of the bourgeois capital by the people's forces of socialism." I drank his lousy wine. But it lay sour in my stomach while I brooded in my office all that day."

Was that incompetence or malice? Was it incompetence or malice to drink the lousy wine and brood?

I do believe that socialism is entirely antithetical to the Constitution of 1789 as Amended. For a very long time the Supreme Court of the United States believed that as well. Now the Court is divided on the subject. A majority of the Congress is held by a party that doesn't purport to believe in socialism, but which elects a leadership that enacts laws based on the socialist philosophy. Government ought to take care of people. Government should spread the wealth around. You are entitled to benefits not because of your virtues, and the wealthy are obligated to pay for your entitlements. It's their duty and your right.

Is it malice to believe that? I would say a great many of the academics in these United States believe it, and many more do not dare dispute it because those who do believe it make it dangerous for anyone in academia to dispute the consensus. Are they all malicious? They certainly believe that those who oppose them are malicious.

And of course it's not all that clear cut to begin with. Most of those who voted for Obama didn't believe that he believed all the tenets of academic Liberal Socialist Democracy. Are all those who voted for him malicious? Is it malice to be seduced into hoping that Hope and Change were real, especially given the past history of the Creeps who were in charge?

Liberal Socialism is wrongheaded. I think its end results are terrible. It's also seductive. Most Liberals I know believe they have good intentions, and that so long as they have good intentions they cannot be called malicious or evil.

I believe that the upcoming election is the most important election in decades, and that its effects will be felt for decades to come. What's at stake are the very principles of this nation. Surely that's clear enough? Clearly I believe that those who voted in this government were mistaken. I want those people back on our side. (emphasis mine-SP).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Obama v BP

America’s justifiable fury with BP is degenerating into a broader attack on business

At The Economist:

FOR over a month, Barack Obama watched the oil spill spread over the Gulf of Mexico with the same powerless horror as other Americans. Finally, lampooned by his countrymen for his impotence, he was spurred into action. He attacked the only available target—BP—and, to underline the seriousness with which he takes this problem, he gave his first Oval Office address on the subject.

The address got poor reviews; the attack on BP better ones. This week the firm bowed to pressure, and announced that it was, in effect, handing over $20 billion to the government to pay for compensation and clean-up, as well as cancelling the payment of any dividends this year and setting up a fund—of a mere $100m—to compensate unemployed oil workers.

This may do Mr Obama some good. Whether it will benefit America is more doubtful. Businessmen are already gloomy, depressed by the economy and nervous of their president’s attitude towards them. This episode will not encourage them.

Booted and spurred

There is good reason for Americans to be furious with BP. The authorities reckon that the oil may be flowing at a rate of 60,000 barrels a day—far more than the company estimated, and the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez every four days. Efforts to stem the toxic plume have met with only modest success (see briefing).

A permanent solution may be available in August, but only if the drilling of relief wells to intercept and plug the stricken one goes according to plan.

BP already had a miserable safety record in America. In 2005 an explosion at one of its refineries in Texas killed 15 people. In 2006 corrosion in its pipelines led to a sizeable spill on Alaska’s North Slope. Since then, regulators have often fined it for breaking safety standards. There are indications that BP’s approach to the drilling of the Macondo well was similarly slapdash. Engineering measures that might have prevented the calamity were not carried out, tests of safety equipment delayed. The firm’s emergency-response plan spoke of protecting the area’s walruses—an easy task, since there aren’t any—and consulting an ecologist who had died in 2005.

America has a well-developed system for getting companies to pay for the damage they do; and BP long ago accepted that it would pay in full. But that was never going to satisfy the country’s corporate bloodlust. An outfit called Seize BP has organised demonstrations in favour of the expropriation of BP’s assets in 50 cities. Over 600,000 people have supported a boycott of the firm on Facebook. Several of BP’s gas (petrol) stations have been vandalised.

The politicians, eager as ever to stay in tune with the nation, joined in. Ken Salazar, the secretary of the interior, vowed to keep the government’s boot on BP’s neck. At one of the many recent hearings at which BP executives have been hauled over the coals, a Republican congressman suggested that the chairman of BP’s American arm should commit ritual suicide. Mr Obama said he was looking for arses to kick.

After the macho rhetoric came the demands for cash. Mr Obama decided to “inform” BP that it must put adequate funds to meet all compensation claims into an escrow account beyond its control, although he has no authority to do so. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, instructed it not to pay a dividend until all claims tied to the spill are settled. Her fellow Democrats in Congress are trying to raise BP’s liability retroactively—the sort of move America’s courts rightly frown on. Mr Salazar, on even thinner legal ice, suggested that the government would hold BP accountable not just for the harm directly done by the spill, but also for the jobs lost in the oil business thanks to the freeze on oil drilling in deep water that he himself has imposed.

Investors seem to be worried that the wrath of American officialdom will ruin BP. They have driven down its value by $89 billion since the well erupted, far in excess of all but the most dire forecasts of the ultimate costs of the spill. Corporate America, normally quick to resist government intrusion, has kept strangely silent, as though businessmen are afraid of the consequences of sticking their heads above the parapet.

The attack on BP seems to have paid off for the administration, in that the firm has caved in to most of its demands. Mr Obama’s swipes at the company have lent him an unfamiliar air of forcefulness. And, as everybody in Washington knows, so long as BP meets its commitments, government attempts to meddle in the firm’s management, much less seize its assets, will be rejected by the courts. So why not keep going?

Vladimir Obama

For several reasons. The vitriol has a xenophobic edge: witness the venomous references to “British Petroleum”, a name BP dropped in 1998 (just as well that it dispensed with the name Anglo-Iranian Oil Company even longer ago). Vilifying BP also gets in the way of identifying other culprits, one of which is the government. BP operates in one of the most regulated industries on earth with some of the most perverse rules, subsidies and incentives. Shoddy oversight clearly contributed to the spill, and an energy policy which reduced the demand for oil would do more to avert future environmental horrors than fierce retribution.

Mr Obama is not the socialist the right claims he is (see article). He went out of his way, meeting BP executives on June 16th, to insist that he has no interest in undermining the company’s financial stability. But his reaction is cementing business leaders’ impression that he is indifferent to their concerns. If he sees any impropriety in politicians ordering executives about, upstaging the courts and threatening confiscation, he has not said so. The collapse in BP’s share price suggests that he has convinced the markets that he is an American version of Vladimir Putin, willing to harry firms into doing his bidding.

Nobody should underestimate the scale of BP’s mistake, nor the damage that it has caused. But if the president does not stand up for due process, he will frighten investors across the board. The damage to America’s environment is bad enough. The president risks damaging its economy too.

The Helpless Titan

From Doc Zero at Hot Air (hat tip to Instapundit):

The current federal government of the United States is the largest, best-funded organization in human history. Our public debt has grown to over $13 trillion. We pay hundreds of billions per year just to service this debt. The federal government has over two million civilian employees. The Postal Service, all by itself, employs more people than any American company except Wal-Mart. Our government has shed almost every vestige of Constitutional restraint over the last few decades, exercising powers that would have shocked the Founding Fathers.

And yet, this federal titan is currently face-down in the oil-soaked waters of the Gulf of Mexico, its flabby arms twitching feebly. It has become too bloated to stand up. It can only lie there and scream threats at private citizens and corporations, until vast sums of money are shoveled into its maw, to sustain it for a few more years.

It’s not necessary to ignore the misdeeds of British Petroleum to criticize the appalling performance of our massive super-State. Big Government and Big Business have become so entwined that any disaster on the scale of the Gulf oil spill, or the subprime mortgage crisis before it, will have both public and private agencies to blame. Suggesting that government cannot be criticized until every one of its private-sector “partners” has been bankrupted or nationalized is a recipe for tyranny. We should study the example of BP and understand that only one half of the government-business alliance can call press conferences at will, addressing a media prepared to extend them unlimited credit for their good intentions.

One of the reasons Big Government is so helpless in the face of an actual crisis is that it never learns anything, because it evades blame and consequence for its failures. The politicians who brought you the subprime crisis are richer and more powerful than ever before. The Gulf oil crisis may well end the same way, if the Democrats use a lame-duck session of Congress, plus resources from their new minions at BP, to shove cap-and-trade legislation down America’s throat. Like ObamaCare, such a bill can inflict serious wounds to American liberty during the two years it will take to replace a President determined to veto repeal attempts.

Indulging the urge of politicians to increase their power and wealth produces a government that spends all its time feeding, instead of doing the things it’s supposed to be doing. It is blinded by hunger, and uninterested in duties that yield no direct political reward. The lavishly funded agency in charge of regulating offshore drilling scarcely bothered to inspect the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. It’s painfully obvious that the Administration didn’t notice the Gulf crisis until it became a political problem. Our vast government apparatus was completely unaware of a large supply of containment boom until Jake Tapper, an ABC reporter, told them about it.

Even now, as oil begins fouling the coasts of our Gulf states, the federal government is entirely focused on shielding itself from blame, and taking advantage of the crisis to absorb more money. Out on the high-octane open waters, they’re shutting down oil-skimming barges over trivial bureaucratic issues. Bobby Jindal, the desperate governor of Louisiana, has taken to ignoring the comatose federal giant slumped across his coast, and getting things done on his own. Unable to think rationally or compare costs to benefits, the government panicked and shut down offshore drilling… just as previous generations threw hysterical fits, and killed nuclear power and DDT. We’re spending an awful lot of our children’s money on this government, and getting very little value in return.

No Presidential speech could obscure the fact that incalculable, perhaps irreversible damage has already been done, while union politics prompted the President to ignore valuable offers of assistance from foreign ships. Innovative strategies for dealing with the oil gather cobwebs while the Administration focuses on the really important task of securing a $20 billion down payment on a massive new slush fund. Of course Obama and the Democrats will steal much of this money, the same way they robbed the taxpayers for political cash and called it a “stimulus.” The reptilian Bart Stupak has already floated the idea of raiding the BP fund for health care money. I wonder if some of it would end up paying for abortions.

Over at Liberty Pundits, Melissa Clouthier watches in horror as Obama and BP dance a stiff, lightheaded tango of incompetence, and wonders:

Long term, do Americans want the President to have the right to confiscate or bully funds from a company that is clearly wrong-doing but the law has not meted out justice, yet? This seems like a dangerous precedent.

It’s especially dangerous because the government is likely to spend most of its time confiscating and bullying, rather than getting its hands dirty with the duties it should be fulfilling. Incompetence is the opportunity cost of corruption.

Conservatism and the Spirit of Reform

"Republicans squandered their hard-won reputation as the party of ideas. It's time to reclaim it."

From Peter Berkowitz at The Wall Street Journal:

In 1955, in the first issue of National Review, William F. Buckley Jr. exuberantly proclaimed that the task for conservatives was "to stand athwart history, yelling stop."

In these tumultuous times, it still is. But for those devoted to conserving individual freedom, preserving what's positive from the past can never be their only task. Conserving freedom always also requires reforming existing institutions and practices.

Conservatives tend to be suspicious of reform and distrustful of the impulse to improve, seeing in both perennial threats to freedom. This is exacerbated by the common tendency, on the right and the left, to equate reform and improvement with the progressive aspiration to remake society. Conservatives warn—with a good deal of dismal political history on their side—that owing to ineradicable human arrogance, ignorance and error, big plans to centrally regulate human affairs are bound to go awry.

But that's no excuse to conflate reform, which is often necessary to advance the cause of political liberty, with the progressive interpretation of it. Indeed, conservative reform will very often involve devising policies to limit government in the face of relentless progressive pressure to expand its reach and responsibilities.

Conservative reform is particularly necessary today. Revolutions in telecommunications and transportation continue to transform business, the family and the environment. The threat of transnational terrorists employing biological, chemical, radiological, nuclear and cyber weapons demands greater resourcefulness and agility at all levels of government, as well as greater cooperation among federal, state and municipal officials. And the vast expansion of the federal government undertaken by President Barack Obama and the Democrats has focused the electorate on government's cost and role in a way not seen since Ronald Reagan ran for president.

Unfortunately, over the past decade, conservatism in America has squandered the reputation for reform that it earned in the 1980s and 1990s. President Reagan led the way with his signature tax cuts, which launched two decades of stunning economic growth. Gov. John Engler in Michigan (1991–2003) and Gov. Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin (1987-2001) gained national prominence for the benefits they brought to their states by cutting taxes, promoting school choice and renovating welfare. The 1994 Republican congressional campaign's Contract with America, which drew on President Reagan's 1985 State of the Union Address to propose concrete legislation to make the federal government more transparent and accountable, promised a new era of conservative reform.

The promise was not fulfilled. Congressional Republicans grew complacent and in some cases corrupt. While he ran as a reformer in 2000—remember "compassionate conservatism"—President George W. Bush was soon consumed with two wars and never regained his footing after Hurricane Katrina.

The reform efforts the Bush administration did undertake—the No Child Left Behind Act, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and the campaigns to overhaul Social Security and deal with immigration—fizzled at best. Perhaps most damaging to conservative reform over the past decade was the profligate spending that united President Bush and congressional Republicans.

In 2007 and 2008, taking advantage of the nation's war-weariness, candidate Obama sonorously invoked hope and change while deftly playing down the content of the change he hoped to bring about, thereby obtaining for his party a monopoly on the spirit of reform.

To earn the opportunity to be embraced again as the majority's governing creed, conservatism must recover its reformist heritage. In fact, prudent reform—grounded in limited government and respect for tradition, order and virtue—has deep roots in the conservative tradition.

No one appreciated that more than Edmund Burke, a founding father of modern conservatism. In "Reflections on the Revolution in France" (1790), his great polemic against radical political change driven by abstract theory, Burke insisted that "a state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation."

In the causes that defined his political career—reconciliation with America, toleration for Irish Catholics, and securing the rights of the native population of India—Burke demonstrated that conserving freedom could require alteration of popular policies, breaking with entrenched practices, and upholding abroad the universality of individual rights.

Like Burke, contemporary conservatives should take their bearings from the principle of freedom and the conditions that sustain it. The question to ask in every case is whether current arrangements or proposals for alternative ones are more likely to promote individual responsibility, self-reliance and opportunity. The answers should recognize that a federal system favorable to local self-government, respectful of religion and supportive of the family is a time-tested way of cultivating individuals capable of conserving free institutions and taking advantage of the opportunities freedom affords.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan are among those officeholders in the process of recovering reform as a conservative virtue. In November, Meg Whitman, the new Republican nominee in California, and Brian Sandoval, the new Republican nominee for governor in Nevada, stand a good chance to join their ranks.

Today's conservative reformers appreciate that within its limited sphere government should be excellent. Promoting individual responsibility, self-reliance and opportunity requires targeted action, beginning with health-care reform that really controls costs by eliminating barriers on insurance companies operating across state lines and limiting malpractice damages; public-sector reform that reins in unions by reducing benefits and expanding accountability; and education reform that through school-choice programs gives parents, particularly in low income and minority communities, greater control over their children's education.

That's a big agenda and it doesn't even address immigration and energy or national security and foreign policy. It's a long way from standing athwart history yelling stop.

In 1965 Buckley launched a quixotic campaign for New York City mayor, running as a practical reformer and issuing detailed position papers on water, welfare, education, fiscal affairs, crime, taxation, housing, pollution, drugs and transportation. He hadn't changed his mind about the importance of tradition. Rather, his platform was built around the conviction that tradition cannot be conserved without political freedom, and that political freedom cannot be conserved without restraining and reforming government.

That was a sound but losing conviction in 1965, less than a year after Lyndon Johnson crushed conservative standard-bearer Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential race. The conviction is just as sound in 2010 and, judging by public opinion polls and grass-roots activism, it is what the people want.

Mr. Berkowitz is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

The Gulf Spill: Everyone’s Dirty Now

From Larry Kudlow at National Review Online:

Amidst all the political jockeying over the BP catastrophe, the main players are missing what is really uppermost on America’s mind: It’s the spill rate, stupid. It’s jobs, stupid. It’s the economy, stupid. Miss, miss, miss.

All eyes in Washington, Wall Street, and Main Street were turned this week to the congressional show trial featuring beleaguered BP CEO Tony Hayward. Hayward was a disaster. He played dumb. He stonewalled. And he never got honest about the colossal failure of human judgment at BP that caused this catastrophe.

But folks, seriously, what did you expect? Before this thing is said and done, Hayward and others at BP may very well be criminally indicted by the Justice Department. Hayward could eventually do hard time for all I know. So, of course, he stonewalled. Thank Eric Holder.

What Hayward should at least have done is talk about the progress being made in capping the spill rate, which is gradually going down. To most Americans, and especially those in the Gulf, it’s the spill rate of capture that matters most. Hayward also should have talked about the new BP relief well, which could be up and running in less than a month, to end this disaster. That would be great news for America, and her economy and stock market. Plus, he could have mentioned that BP is hiring thousands of workers to fill new jobs in the cleanup effort.

But Hayward was lawyered to the gills, which doesn’t make anyone happy, including me. And that’s precisely why these congressional show trials leave me bored, tired, and depressed.

And oh, by the way, what’s the role of Congress in this catastrophe? What exactly is it doing besides presiding over these show trials? Doesn’t it have oversight authority when it comes to the Minerals Management Service that utterly failed to regulate the safety of BP’s deep-water drilling operations? Why aren’t more people talking about this?

And why in the world hasn’t Congress suspended the Jones Act, thereby allowing foreign-flag tankers into the Gulf area? What is it waiting for? We’re basically two months into this never-ending disaster. The Gulf cleanup could have been greatly aided by at least 15 foreign countries that were instead spurned after offering their tankers and other equipment. Why aren’t we accepting these offers of help?

And where, really, is the president in all this? Speaking to the nation from the Oval Office earlier in the week, he failed to declare a Jones Act waiver, and he made no call for a task force of hands-on oilmen from the likes of ExxonMobil and other big oil sisters who actually know what they are doing.

Another problem with Obama’s address was his arrogant announcement that he would inform BP’s CEO “that he is to set aside” an asset amount ($20 billion) for the government-run escrow fund to pay for the spill damages. Trouble is, there are no laws to permit our government to force such financial retribution. Not even a new TARP, at least not yet. Did someone say nationalization?

The government has no right interfering with the financial decisions of a private, shareholder-owned corporation. This sounds like GM and Chrysler all over again. Or maybe health insurers, pharmaceuticals, private investment funds, and multinational corporations. And it could end up having a serious and chilling effect on corporate investment.

Look, at least BP already agreed to pony up. Why should the government control this? Isn’t this another case of the Obama administration bullying, taxing, and regulating business as part of a social agenda to redistribute income and power from private enterprise to government? It’s a war on profits and capital.

Consider this: American companies are sitting on an astonishing pile of $1.5 trillion in unused cash. Why aren’t they investing to create new jobs? Well, it’s because massive tax and regulatory threats coming out of Washington have created a tall barrier of disincentives and uncertainty that is blocking the normal efficiency of the free-market capitalist system.

The instincts of our free economy are to promote growth. But when government blunts these instincts, the system ceases to work efficiently.

Americans do not want a cap-and-trade system. What they do want is a full-throated and comprehensive energy plan conducted on all fronts — carbon and non-carbon — that would unleash energy entrepreneurs and existing businesses to create more power and more jobs and more economic growth. Besides stopping the spill, this is the key point that Obama misses.

So, if BP is dirty, and if BP is incompetent, then so is Congress. And so is the White House, as far as I’m concerned.

The BP story is a total outrage. Once again America is not getting what it needs.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ryan: Obama is copying Euronomics that Europe now rejects

At Hot Air:

How often does a conservative Republican say in public, “I actually agree with Europe”? Perhaps only when the current President insists on setting a economic-policy course that tacks to Europe’s left. The EU wants to start scaling back government spending in order to stabilize its precarious debt position, but Barack Obama warned them today to keep the spigots wide open. Rep. Paul Ryan says it’s just a cover to get progressive wish-list programs into law by exploiting the economic crisis:

A few key quotes:

We are doubling down on this neo-Keynesian borrow and spend spree. It’s not working. We’ve lost 3.6 million jobs since the last stimulus was passed and they want to do more of the same. Bailing out state governments is the next roll of the dice. We are copying European economic policies of the past and that is going to give us a European kind of debt crisis in the future if we don’t change our policies. Yet the President is doubling down, giving us a big debt hangover. …

The President got those same centrist Democrats to vote for a budget that doubles our debt in five years and triples our debt in ten years. He got those same centrist Democrats to vote for $1.8 trillion dollars in new spending and $670 billion in new taxes in this session of Congress. He has always gotten, along with Speaker Pelosi, the votes needed to engage in their continued spending spree. …

What we have right now is a neo-Keynesian model being pushed, which means spend, spend, spend — and they still have no problem with all of these tax increases. This economic doctrine conveniently fits a political ideology. This political agenda is built upon building government programs, building up spending — and they use this economic doctrine to satisfy their political pent up demand. The so-called “stimulus” was not about jobs as much as it was spending money on all these programs that they have wanted to spend on for a long time. Now that they have Congress and the White House, the spending spigot is wide open.

The New York Times reports that Obama is feeling a little lonely on the Big Spender front:

President Obama signaled on Friday that countries in Europe should not withdraw their extraordinary spending programs too quickly.

In a public letter to other leaders of the Group of 20 nations in advance of a summit meeting in Toronto next week, Mr. Obama wrote, “Our highest priority in Toronto must be to safeguard and strengthen the recovery.” …

Mr. Obama also wrote, “We must be flexible in adjusting the pace of consolidation and learn from the consequential mistakes of the past when stimulus was too quickly withdrawn and resulted in renewed economic hardships and recession.”

That statement represented a signal to Germany and other European countries, which have moved in recent weeks to pare spending, mindful of the wrenching consequences of excessive public debts in Greece, Portugal and Spain. The United States is trying to pare its own substantial deficit. Mr. Obama reiterated a pledge to cut the deficit, now about 10 percent of gross domestic product, in half by the 2013 fiscal year, and to 3 percent of G.D.P. by the 2015 fiscal year, a level he said would “stabilize the debt-to-G.D.P. ratio at an acceptable level” by then.

But American officials are concerned that fiscal retrenchment by too many countries at once could imperil the global recovery.

They’re probably not too concerned that the US will stop spending, not with this Congress and White House. The problem is that the spending spree isn’t working. In fact, it’s counterproductive, as it sends strong signals of pending tax increases and higher costs in the near- and long-term future. Those with capital are sheltering it rather than investing, and as a result businesses are not expanding or creating new opportunities.

Europe has already learned its lesson, thanks to a painful bailout of Greece that may or may not succeed, and the likelihood that they’ll have to rescue Spain as well. The Obama administration has not.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Baron Hill/Joe Biden Protest!!! Be there!!!

Jackson County Patriots;

Below is a letter from Mark Holwager from the Jennings County Tea Party group. PLEASE try to be there on this date and time. It is very important to show your dissatisfaction with Baron Hill's recent voting record. This protest is a week from this next Monday. PUT IT ON YOUR SCHEDULE ! If you know anyone else in our group that may not have e-mail, please notify them about this event.

We are going to plan on the picnic in the park on July 4th. More details will follow.

We are also trying to get a place in the VJ Day parade. Again, plan to ride the float or walk in support with us.

Those of you who have helped with a phone tree, please call the folks on your list and remind them of the items on this e-mail.

Jon Stahl

Dear Friends,

Kelly Khuri with the Clark County TEA Party and myself of We the People of Jennings County met yesterday in Jeffersonville to plan for the upcoming event for Joe Biden and Baron Hill. The event is being held at Kye's in Jeffersonville, IN on Monday June 28, 2010 at 11:30am. The address is 500 Missouri Avenue, Jeffersonville, IN. Parking at this area may be limited by the Secret Service "we are not sure what will be blocked off". There is a ParkandTarc parking area 1/2 mile away with approximately 160 parking spaces. The address is 9th street and Illinois Ave, Jeffersonville, IN. It was exactly 1/2 mile to Kye's. You will go south on Illinois Ave, then west on 7th street then south on Missouri Ave.

Todd Young is tentatively set to speak at 12noon. We are also in the process of getting more speakers. We ask for all Patriots from Indiana and Kentucky to please come out and show our disgust with the current administration. More info to come in the following days.

We also have several requests. If anyone has access to a bull horn please contact Kelly or Mark and we also would like water donations or money for bottled water.

Please forward this info to any and all groups and people in your areas and lets give Vice President Biden a warm welcome to Southern Indiana.

Contact Info

Kelly Khuri

Mark Holwager or 812 498 5847

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

WATCH: Marine Stuns Crowd at Tea Party

I received this via email from a couple of different folks.  If you haven't seen this yet WATCH!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

And in Brown County on Thursday June 10......

Freedom Group of Brown County members and other patriots,

SPECIAL NOTICE: On Thursday, June 10, the FGBC will be co-hosting a special meeting with the Freedom Makers Coalition. They will be presenting information about using Interposition as a means of repealing Healthcare and establishing states rights. We will be using our portion of the meeting for soliciting new members for the FGBC.

It is important that as many members of our group attend this meeting as possible. We hope you will be able to attend. Check the Meet-up site for details.

While the FGBC is NOT affiliated with other grassroots groups from the State of Indiana at this time, we do,
when we deem important, co-host or support other groups events that we believe may be valuable to our cause.

FYI: Todd Young event in North Vernon

We the People of Jennings County

Citizens United!

Marshall Holwager Sr. Marshall Holwager Sr. has invited you to the event 'Todd Young for Congress/Canvassing North Vernon' on We the People of Jennings County!

Check out "Todd Young for Congress/Canvassing North Vernon" on We the People of Jennings County

Time: June 12, 2010 from 8:30am to 11am

Location: North Vernon City Park

Organized By: Marshall Holwager Sr.

Event Description:

We will be meeting at North Vernon City Park at 8:30am to canvass North Vernon for Todd Young. We will split up into groups of two and start canvassing around 9:00am and end around 11:00am. We welcome anyone interested in helping. We will meet at the Shelterhouse behind the tennis courts.

See more details and RSVP on We the People of Jennings County:

Tax Hikes and the 2011 Economic Collapse

"Today's corporate profits reflect an income shift into 2010. These profits will tumble next year, preceded most likely by the stock market."

From Arthur Laffer at The Wall Street Journal:

People can change the volume, the location and the composition of their income, and they can do so in response to changes in government policies.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that the nine states without an income tax are growing far faster and attracting more people than are the nine states with the highest income tax rates. People and businesses change the location of income based on incentives.

Likewise, who is gobsmacked when they are told that the two wealthiest Americans—Bill Gates and Warren Buffett—hold the bulk of their wealth in the nontaxed form of unrealized capital gains? The composition of wealth also responds to incentives. And it's also simple enough for most people to understand that if the government taxes people who work and pays people not to work, fewer people will work. Incentives matter.

People can also change the timing of when they earn and receive their income in response to government policies. According to a 2004 U.S. Treasury report, "high income taxpayers accelerated the receipt of wages and year-end bonuses from 1993 to 1992—over $15 billion—in order to avoid the effects of the anticipated increase in the top rate from 31% to 39.6%. At the end of 1993, taxpayers shifted wages and bonuses yet again to avoid the increase in Medicare taxes that went into effect beginning 1994."

Just remember what happened to auto sales when the cash for clunkers program ended. Or how about new housing sales when the $8,000 tax credit ended? It isn't rocket surgery, as the Ivy League professor said.

On or about Jan. 1, 2011, federal, state and local tax rates are scheduled to rise quite sharply. President George W. Bush's tax cuts expire on that date, meaning that the highest federal personal income tax rate will go 39.6% from 35%, the highest federal dividend tax rate pops up to 39.6% from 15%, the capital gains tax rate to 20% from 15%, and the estate tax rate to 55% from zero. Lots and lots of other changes will also occur as a result of the sunset provision in the Bush tax cuts.

Tax rates have been and will be raised on income earned from off-shore investments. Payroll taxes are already scheduled to rise in 2013 and the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) will be digging deeper and deeper into middle-income taxpayers. And there's always the celebrated tax increase on Cadillac health care plans. State and local tax rates are also going up in 2011 as they did in 2010. Tax rate increases next year are everywhere.

Now, if people know tax rates will be higher next year than they are this year, what will those people do this year? They will shift production and income out of next year into this year to the extent possible. As a result, income this year has already been inflated above where it otherwise should be and next year, 2011, income will be lower than it otherwise should be.

Also, the prospect of rising prices, higher interest rates and more regulations next year will further entice demand and supply to be shifted from 2011 into 2010. In my view, this shift of income and demand is a major reason that the economy in 2010 has appeared as strong as it has. When we pass the tax boundary of Jan. 1, 2011, my best guess is that the train goes off the tracks and we get our worst nightmare of a severe "double dip" recession.

In 1981, Ronald Reagan—with bipartisan support—began the first phase in a series of tax cuts passed under the Economic Recovery Tax Act (ERTA), whereby the bulk of the tax cuts didn't take effect until Jan. 1, 1983. Reagan's delayed tax cuts were the mirror image of President Barack Obama's delayed tax rate increases. For 1981 and 1982 people deferred so much economic activity that real GDP was basically flat (i.e., no growth), and the unemployment rate rose to well over 10%.

But at the tax boundary of Jan. 1, 1983 the economy took off like a rocket, with average real growth reaching 7.5% in 1983 and 5.5% in 1984. It has always amazed me how tax cuts don't work until they take effect. Mr. Obama's experience with deferred tax rate increases will be the reverse. The economy will collapse in 2011.

Consider corporate profits as a share of GDP. Today, corporate profits as a share of GDP are way too high given the state of the U.S. economy. These high profits reflect the shift in income into 2010 from 2011. These profits will tumble in 2011, preceded most likely by the stock market.

.In 2010, without any prepayment penalties, people can cash in their Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), Keough deferred income accounts and 401(k) deferred income accounts. After paying their taxes, these deferred income accounts can be rolled into Roth IRAs that provide after-tax income to their owners into the future. Given what's going to happen to tax rates, this conversion seems like a no-brainer.

The result will be a crash in tax receipts once the surge is past. If you thought deficits and unemployment have been bad lately, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Mr. Laffer is the chairman of Laffer Associates and co-author of "Return to Prosperity: How America Can Regain Its Economic Superpower Status" (Threshold, 2010).

Friday, June 4, 2010

The danger of a government with unlimited power

From George Will in The Washington Post:

Today, as it has been for a century, American politics is an argument between two Princetonians -- James Madison, Class of 1771, and Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879. Madison was the most profound thinker among the Founders. Wilson, avatar of "progressivism," was the first president critical of the nation's founding. Barack Obama's Wilsonian agenda reflects its namesake's rejection of limited government.

Lack of "a limiting principle" is the essence of progressivism, according to William Voegeli, contributing editor of the Claremont Review of Books, in his new book "Never Enough: America's Limitless Welfare State." The Founders, he writes, believed that free government's purpose, and the threats to it, are found in nature. The threats are desires for untrammeled power, desires which, Madison said, are "sown in the nature of man." Government's limited purpose is to protect the exercise of natural rights that pre-exist government, rights that human reason can ascertain in unchanging principles of conduct and that are essential to the pursuit of happiness.

Wilsonian progressives believe that History is a proper noun, an autonomous thing. It, rather than nature, defines government's ever-evolving and unlimited purposes. Government exists to dispense an ever-expanding menu of rights -- entitlements that serve an open-ended understanding of material and even spiritual well-being.

The name "progressivism" implies criticism of the Founding, which we leave behind as we make progress. And the name is tautological: History is progressive because progress is defined as whatever History produces. History guarantees what the Supreme Court has called "evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society."

The cheerful assumption is that "evolving" must mean "improving." Progressivism's promise is a program for every problem, and progressivism's premise is that every unfulfilled desire is a problem.

Franklin Roosevelt, an alumnus of Wilson's administration, resolved to "resume" Wilson's "march along the path of real progress" by giving government "the vibrant personal character that is the very embodiment of human charity." He repudiated the Founders' idea that government is instituted to protect pre-existing and timeless natural rights, promising "the re-definition of these rights in terms of a changing and growing social order."

He promised "a right to make a comfortable living." Presumably, the judiciary would define and enforce the delivery of comfort. Specifically, there could be no right to "do anything which deprives others" of whatever "elemental rights" the government decides to dispense.

Today, government finds the limitless power of dispensing not in Madison's Constitution of limited government but in Wilson's theory that the Constitution actually frees government from limitations. The liberating -- for government -- idea is that the Constitution is a "living," evolving document. Wilson's Constitution is an emancipation proclamation for government, empowering it to regulate all human activities in order to treat all human desires as needs and hence as rights. Unlimited power is entailed by what Voegeli calls government's "right to discover new rights."

"Liberalism's protean understanding of rights," he says, "complicates and ultimately dooms the idea of a principled refusal to elevate any benefit that we would like people to enjoy to the status of an inviolable right." Needs breed rights to have the needs addressed, to the point that Lyndon Johnson, an FDR protege, promised that government would provide Americans with "purpose" and "meaning."

Although progressivism's ever-lengthening list of rights is as limitless as human needs/desires, one right that never makes the list is the right to keep some inviolable portion of one's private wealth or income, "regardless," Voegeli says, "of the lofty purposes social reformers wish to make of it."

Lacking a limiting principle, progressivism cannot say how big the welfare state should be but must always say that it should be bigger than it currently is. Furthermore, by making a welfare state a fountain of rights requisite for democracy, progressives in effect declare that democratic deliberation about the legitimacy of the welfare state is illegitimate.

"By blackening the skies with crisscrossing dollars," Voegeli says, the welfare state encourages people "to believe an impossibility: that every household can be a net importer of the wealth redistributed by the government." But the welfare state's problem, today becoming vivid, is socialism's problem, as Margaret Thatcher defined it: Socialist governments "always run out of other people's money."

Wilsonian government, meaning (in Wilson's words) government with "unstinted power," is hostile to Madison's Constitution, which, Madison said, obliges government "to control itself." Thus our choice is between government restraint rooted in respect for nature, or government free to follow History wherever government says History marches.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

NUGENT: Every day is Memorial Day

We owe America's warriors who gave their lives for freedom

From Ted Nugent at The Washington Times:

I live to remember. I have not forgotten that America is still at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, that our finest citizens have volunteered to put themselves in harm's way in the name of freedom. The media overall have done a grave disservice to our warriors and their families, who have been asked to sacrifice so much. The war is now barely covered by the media.

Maybe so-called journalists have forgotten. The media have moved on.

Not me. I have chosen to dig in and never forget. Not a day goes by that I am not reminded, often painfully, that America is at war. The cards, letters, pictures and e-mails I receive on a daily basis from America's finest and their families embolden me to be a better American, to be even more appreciative of the freedoms, liberties and opportunities provided me and you with the blood of warriors. These brave American warriors and the warriors who have gone before them humble me to my core. There are no words to express my appreciation for their bravery, commitment and sacrifice. The same goes for their families, who are left behind to soldier on while their loved ones go off to war. God bless them all.

We owe it to these brave Americans and their families to win this war with our honor intact, not to telegraph to the enemy when we are packing up and leaving the battlefield. I'm no military tactician, but announcing when we are leaving the battlefield is analogous to putting an ad in your local newspaper to let all local punks and thugs know when you are going on vacation so they can plunder your home.

I stand with most Americans demanding a victory strategy, not an exit strategy.

When we commit our troops to war, we must make a commitment to them and their families that we will achieve total victory through the application of total war.

Of the thousands of brave American warriors I have met since Sept. 11, 2001, not one has expressed a desire to leave the battlefield without victory. They all want to stay and finish the job. The commander in chief should remember how freedom has been achieved throughout history and let these trained warriors do their job. That's how I remember.

As parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, we owe it to America's finest to educate the youth of the United States that many brave Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom. Teach them that freedom isn't free. Teach them that the American military has freed more people from the shackles of tyranny and slavery than any other force in the history of the world. Teach them to remember this not just on Memorial Day, but every day.

America is at war. Thousands of Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and thousands more have been wounded. Pause to remember them this Memorial Day. Say a prayer for the warriors and their families. They are the world's true freedom fighters.

Never forget them. Make every day Memorial Day.

Ted Nugent is an unstoppable American rock 'n roll, sporting and political activist icon. He is author of "Ted, White & Blue: The Nugent Manifesto" and "God, Guns and Rock 'N Roll" (Regnery, 2010).

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