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Posts Tagged ‘government’
November 11th, 2013 at 8:12 pm
Remember When Veterans Day Was Celebrated in October?

Kudos to the artful dodgers in the public relations office at the Department of Veterans Affairs. While preparing a lesson for my kids this morning on the history and significance of Veterans Day, I came across this delightful tidbit on the politics that motivated a brief change on when the holiday was celebrated.

“The Uniform Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-963 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day,” says the VA’s website. “It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.”

“The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971,” the entry continues. “It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.”

It’s not hard to understand why so many people were upset. In a previous part of the very same historical write-up, the VA mentions that since 1954, November 11 had been the universally celebrated day Americans celebrated its military veterans. The date is rooted in Armistice Day celebrations that commemorated the end of hostilities in World War I that “went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” I.e. November 11, 1918.

And yet, despite all this, Congress tried to rewrite history so that federal workers could get a few extra guaranteed three-day weekends. I’m glad to see that grassroots opposition to such an inane federal power grab quickly and decisively resulted in a total repeal.

I’m also glad to know that this interesting piece of American history was included on a government website. I give a heartfelt hat tip to the nameless content writer who gave this husband and father hope that the same fighting spirit alluded to can still be summoned for even greater affronts to freedom today.

March 1st, 2013 at 2:10 pm
Paul: Sequester is a 5% Cut on a 17% Increase

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) shines a spotlight on the true impact of today’s sequester cuts:

If the sequester were to take effect, our spending would only be cut by 2.3%. Let me repeat that — these “eviscerating” cuts will leave our country with 97.7% of our current spending, cutting a mere $85 billion from this year’s $3.6 trillion budget.

The sequester barely begins to skim the surface of the problem. Since taking office, President Obama has increased federal domestic agencies’ budget by 17%. This 17% increase since 2008 will have to endure a 5% cut.

Even with the sequester, the federal government will spend more in 2013 than it did in 2012 — or more than $15 billion.

An editorial in Investor’s Business Daily spells out in greater detail just how much federal spending has grown during the Obama Administration:

…here are some examples — using the OMB’s data and projections — showing the growth in spending for various federal functions since 2008 (percentage increases are inflation-adjusted):

• Transportation: up $36.6 billion, an increase of 37.5%.

• Education: up $30.8 billion, or 25%.

• Housing assistance: up $16.4 billion, or 31.4%.

• Community and regional development: up $11 billion, or 36.5%.

• Natural resources and environment: up $9.5 billion, or 21.3%.

• Farm income stabilization: up $6.8 billion, or 39.5%.

• General government: up $5.9 billion, up 26.6%.

This doesn’t exhaust the list of nondefense discretionary spending; it leaves out energy boondoggles and the burgeoning food stamp program, among others.

Other important budget items immune from sequester are federal entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, to name just the most recognizable three.

While any budgets cuts are going to be painful, the $85 billion on the chopping block now is, to use Paul’s word, a “pittance” when one considers that for the fifth year in a row the federal budget is likely to carry a $1 trillion deficit.

December 28th, 2012 at 12:16 pm
“America Works” Better With Less Welfare

Peter Cove writes in City Journal about the success of America Works, his for-profit company that specializes in getting jobs for long-term welfare recipients:

In the past 27 years, America Works has placed more than 250,000 poor people, with an average of five to six years on the rolls, in private-sector jobs, with an average starting wage of $10 per hour plus benefits. In our New York program, to take one example, more than half of these new workers were still on the job after 180 days. The employers that we have worked with include prestigious companies, such as Time Warner, Cablevision, Aramark, J. C. Penney, and American Building Maintenance Industries. Most of these employers keep coming back, asking for more of our referrals.

In his article, Cove recounts his transformation from welfare-state-liberal to work-first reformer.  The theme throughout is that long job training programs are colossal wastes of time and money compared to the America Works model:

…clients with shaky self-confidence are best served by early success in getting a job, not by long periods of preparation. Our weeklong training sessions are narrowly focused on the attributes and skills needed to land an entry-level job. Our trainers work with clients on the basics, such as maintaining a businesslike personal appearance, speaking properly, preparing a résumé, and showing up on time. Clients quickly learn that success depends on self-discipline and their own motivation and effort.

According to a report by U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), as of February 2011, “Nine federal agencies spent approximately $18 billion annually to administer 47 separate employment and job training programs.”  Unfortunately, the Government Accountability Office says that “little is known about the effectiveness of most programs.”

Which do you prefer?  A for-profit company with 27 years of experience getting people into jobs they keep, or 47 cross-cutting initiatives that can’t prove whether or not they are effective?

August 18th, 2012 at 9:33 pm
Moody’s Warns It May Downgrade California Municipal Debt

The Huffington Post summarizes a new Moody’s Investor Service report that could significantly alter municipal California’s fiscal future:

Moody’s reports that some cities are turning bankruptcy as a new strategy to take on budget deficits and avoid obligations to bondholders, an emerging dynamic that could have ripple effects throughout the investment community.

The municipal bond market has long been characterized by low default rates and relatively stable finances, Moody’s said, but that outlook is beginning to change as bankruptcy becomes a tool for cash-strapped cities.

Already three California cities – Stockton, San Bernardino, and Mammoth Lakes – have filed for bankruptcy.  HuffPo quotes Moody’s as saying that of California’s 482 cities, more than 10 percent have declared a fiscal crisis.

Historically, municipal bonds have been some of the safest investments on the market because cities are presumed by analysts to want to pay back their debt in order to maintain access to public bonds.  (Bonds pay for things like school buildings, roads, sewage systems, etc.)

Since California is responsible for 20 percent of the nationwide muni bonds in circulation, a downgrade by a ratings agency like Moody’s would have a significant negative effect on the value of heretofore safe investments.  If investors see California as an unsafe bet – and why wouldn’t they – expect to see the muni bond market dry up and even more cities opting for bankruptcy.

In other words, this is very bad.

June 14th, 2012 at 2:39 pm
CATO: Obama Admin Rewrites Cost-Effectiveness Rules Because Pet Projects Are Too Expensive

Look!  In the street!  Is it slow?  Is it expensive?  Then it must be a federally subsidized streetcar project!

Randal O’Toole (pdf), a transportation scholar at the Cato Institute, explains how the Obama Administration is literally rewriting the rules to make an inefficient mode of transportation easier to fund:

The Obama administration is currently rewriting the rules for Small Starts [a federal program to subsidize local mass transit projects], and the draft rules, issued January 25, 2012, effectively eliminate the cost-effectiveness requirement.  Instead, the administration proposes to judge projects by how well they promote “livability,” which Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHoood defines as, “If you don’t want an automobile, you don’t have to have one.”  In this case, it evidently also means, “If you don’t want to take a bus, taxpayers will provide an expensive rail alternative.”

Why the need to change the funding criteria?  O’Toole explains:

When the [Federal Transit Administration] applied the [cost-effectiveness] rules to the Small Starts program, however, streetcar advocates complained that the rules discriminated against streetcars because streetcars did not save time.  Instead, advocates argued, the FTA should evaluate streetcars based on their perceived contributions to livability and economic development.

Among other uses “livability” is code for “high density,” a term that translates into smaller living spaces crowded together in apartment buildings instead of single family homes with a yard.

California Governor Jerry Brown is notorious for preaching an “era of limits” that lets the state’s freeway system decay in order to force people into high density housing in the urban core.  With everybody living on top of each other, cars become unfeasible and mass transit suddenly becomes relevant.

But even in this Orwellian vision, streetcars like the ones favored by the Obama administration don’t make economic sense because buses can go faster, seat more people and cost less to operate because they don’t depend on railway lines to move.

No matter.  With the new rules in place 45 cities are lining up to qualify for streetcar subsidies.

If the Feds are paying, who cares about the costs?

June 13th, 2012 at 5:08 pm
When Police Care More About Revenue than Crime

Creative carpooling or rogue riders?

Today, the Wall Street Journal details how commuters over the George Washington Bridge between New Jersey and New York are picking up passengers at bus stops near the bridge in order to pay a reduced toll.

E-ZPass customers pay $9.50, while those paying cash must cough up $12.  (Each toll will rise another $3 by 2015.)

Price of the toll for cars carrying 3 or more passengers: $6 less.

Police officers working for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey – the agency which owns and operates the bridge and six other crossings – are not amused.  They claim the practice of picking up strangers to pay a cheaper toll is dangerous to drivers.  To make the point, the cops hand out tickets for hundreds of dollars a pop.  (But they do not, mind you, patrol the bus stops for dangerous looking characters.)

Those on the receiving end have a different theory.

“In order to pad their pensions and lifestyle, they’re taking bread out of our children’s mouths,” says Ms. Javier.

According to the Journal, “With extensive overtime, some toll collectors make more than $100,000, while salaries for several officers working at the bridge topped $200,000 last year.”

Public employees gouging taxpayers to pad their compensation packages?

Fuggedaboutit.

June 4th, 2012 at 3:52 pm
The Pentagon’s $3 Billion Battleship

Technically, the pricey new ship in the U.S. Navy’s fleet as of 2014 is a destroyer named DDG-1000.  It comes equipped with electromagnetic “railguns,” a “wave-piercing” hull that doesn’t leave a wake, and “advanced sonar and missiles.”

But before you get too excited, the DDG-1000 program might get terminated before too long for two reasons.

The first is that like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the DDG-1000 is threatening to set records with cost overruns.  According to Fox News, at $3.1 billion per ship a DDG-1000 costs about twice as much as current destroyers.  (The total price tag hits $7 billion each “when research and development is added in…”)

The second is perhaps even more problematic.  Chinese Rear Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong issued a warning about the alleged capabilities of the ‘super-stealth’ DDG-1000.  All he would need to overcome the ship’s technological advantages would be to swarm the vessel with several fishing boats laden with explosives.  If one gets through – on a suicide mission, of course – it could literally blow up US taxpayers’ investment.

Nice things cost money, and even the best technology can be laid to waste by comparatively low-tech responses.  Still, public and private watch dog groups need to keep an eye on how the DDG-1000 develops.  We can’t afford not to.

April 18th, 2012 at 7:54 pm
Malkin: Real GSA Scandal is Legal Giveaways to Big Labor

Michelle Malkin says that while the million-dollar junkets enjoyed by General Services Administration officials at taxpayer expense deserve outrage, the real scandals are the $25 million+ paydays the GSA gives to Big Labor thanks to a rule implemented by President Barack Obama.

As I’ve reported previously, the linchpin is E.O. 13502, a union-friendly executive order signed by Obama in his first weeks in office. It essentially forces contractors who bid on large-scale public construction projects worth $25 million or more to submit to union representation for its employees. The blunt instrument used to give unions a leg up is the “project labor agreement,” which in theory sets reasonable pre-work terms and conditions. But in practice, it requires contractors to hand over exclusive bargaining control, to pay inflated, above-market wages and benefits, and to fork over dues money and pension funding to corrupt, cash-starved labor organizations.

One analyst told Congress that “the adoption of a PLA amounts, in effect, to a conferral of monopoly power on a select group of construction unions over the supply of construction labor.”

Since 85 percent of construction laborers are non-union, Obama’s GSA-enforced PLA is a financial boon to the shrinking unionized sector.

Echoing Malkin, the GSA administration’s luxuriant trips to Las Vegas and other locales should be prosecuted fully, but let’s not be distracted from the crony capitalism wasting several times those amounts just about every time a new federal building gets constructed.

If there’s going to be oversight – and there should be – let’s hope the bulk of it zeroes in on unwinding President Obama’s disastrous PLA.

April 9th, 2012 at 5:24 pm
Chart: ObamaCare’s True Costs

The Heritage Foundation breaks down the numbers of what ObamaCare was promised to save, and what it actually costs:

 

Combine this spending monstrosity with the $787 billion stimulus bill and you’ve got nearly $1.5 trillion added to the federal deficit before any other Obama Era policy has been discussed.  Lard on the costs of EPA regulations, the uncertainty of Dodd-Frank’s implementation, and the specter of all the Bush tax cuts vanishing next January and it’s no wonder the American economy is stagnant.  The liberals in Washington, D.C. are spending and regulating us into oblivion.

April 2nd, 2012 at 1:24 pm
The 6 Groups Responsible for California’s Budget Mess

Joe Mathews blogs at NBC Bay Area on the people and institutions most at fault for California’s budget fiasco.

The system makes the decisions, not lawmakers. And that system — the formulas and court decisions and constitutional spending mandates and tax restrictions — does not exist in any particular place that can be protested.

That’s the strange genius of this system, which is really a set of complex formulas. You can’t picket a formula’s house.

Indeed, protesting at the Capitol may be counterproductive — because it advances a false public narrative that the legislature is the problem here. The problem is the people of California, especially voters of the present and of the past.

Two years ago, in this piece for Fox & Hounds Daily, I suggested five alternative locations for protests: highways, gas stations, the prison guards’ union, retirement communities, and unsold homes.

Since then, I have one additional idea: California cemeteries.

Many of the spending mandates and tax restrictions that are strangling the budget, and higher education in particular, were put in place long ago by voters.

So long ago that many of those voters are dead. What better way to represent this problem of the dead governing the living than by taking the protest to those voters?

And what better way to show the crisis of California’s politics than to act as if politically-imposed spending formulas can’t be politically reformed?

March 24th, 2012 at 11:06 am
Mark Steyn: America About to Go Broke

Mark Steyn puts the federal government’s spending spree in a global perspective:

When you’re spending on the scale Washington does, what matters is the hard dollar numbers. Greece’s total debt is a few rinky-dink billions, a rounding error in the average Obama budget. Only America is spending trillions. The 2011 budget deficit, for example, is about the size of the entire Russian economy. By 2010, the Obama administration was issuing about a hundred billion dollars of Treasury bonds every month – or, to put it another way, Washington is dependent on the bond markets being willing to absorb an increase of U.S. debt equivalent to the GDP of Canada or India – every year. And those numbers don’t take into account the huge levels of personal debt run up by Americans. College debt alone is over a trillion dollars, or the equivalent of the entire South Korean economy – tied up just in one small boutique niche market of debt which barely exists in most other developed nations.

March 24th, 2012 at 8:52 am
More Solyndras in Energy Department Loan Scandal?

The Wall Street Journal reports that of the 32 loans made under the Energy Department’s renewable energy loan program, 10 have been put on an internal watch list for being “high risk investments”.  Though the Department redacted the identities of the companies on the list, at least one is Solyndra, the failed California solar panel company that went bankrupt last year, and left taxpayers with over $535 million in losses.

The Journal indicates that another member of the watch list may be Prologis Inc., a company approved for $1.4 billion in federal loans about six months ago.  Now, the firm says it won’t meet an upcoming deadline.

Here’s why:

Prologis originally intended to use Solyndra’s solar panels. Energy Secretary Steven Chu intervened last summer to help move the loan forward and called the Prologis project “remarkable” when it closed Sept. 30.

What’s remarkable is that Chu’s name isn’t on a White House watch list for seriously mismanaging billions in taxpayer money on failed ventures.

December 7th, 2011 at 6:41 pm
House Passes REINS Act, Senate Likely to Dither

Huzzah to the 241 members of the House of Representatives who, in a thinly bipartisan vote today (4 Democrats voted in favor), passed H.R. 10, better known as the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act.  As the acronym indicates, the bill wants to limit President Barack Obama’s ability to impose job-killing regulations on the economy.

How does the REINS Act purport to do its job?  If passed by the Senate and signed by the President then every new federal agency regulation inflicting at least $100 million in economic costs would be subject to an up-or-down vote by both houses of Congress.  ($100 million is the threshold for “major” regulations these days.)  When those bills fails – which they almost certainly will unless they are inextricably intertwined with a national security issue – the bureaucrats who dream up these obstacles to economic growth will have to go back to the drawing board and divine a less expensive way to grow the federal government.

Characteristically, the Democrats running the Senate and the one occupying the White House have promised to do nothing to help pass this bill.  (The President even threatened to veto it should enough Senate Dems have the temerity to save their states’ small business owners from the paperwork onslaught thanks to 219 new regulations poised to add thousands of dollars per worker in compliance costs.)

Today, fiscal conservatives can cheer passage of a real “job creation” bill thanks to the conservative plurality in the House of Representatives.  Next year, it will critically important to elect more of these to the Senate – and hopefully the presidency – so that America can get back to work.

November 25th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
How ‘Do-Something’ Pundits Endanger the Country

Matt Welch of Reason magazine has a wonderfully critical review of New York Times columnist’s Tom Friedman’s newest paean to government action, That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back.  In a wide-ranging essay that faults as well NYT columnist David Brooks and CNN contributor (and one-time Bush speechwriter) David Frum for their simplistic preference for more government power to fix all that ails America, Welch explains how the ‘do-something’ crowd endangers freedom.

First, a definition:

Do something. Is there a two-word phrase in politics more loaded with disguised ideological content? Embedded within is both an urgent call for powerful government action and an up-front declaration that the policy details don’t matter. The bigger the crisis, the more the urgency, the sparser the detail.

Try as its cheerleaders might, there is nothing essentially new about ‘do-something’-ism:

As The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent pointed out in response to Miller, “many of those calling for a third party are refusing to reckon with an inconvenient fact: One of the two partiesalready occupies the approximate ideological space that these commentators themselves are describing as the dream middle ground that allegedly can only be staked out by a third party. That party is known as the ‘Democratic Party.’ ” By dreaming up a third way to deliver ideas and rhetoric already associated with Barack Obama, the centrists are making the implicit admission that the president is ineffectual in the face of GOP intransigence.

As usual, claimants for a ‘third way’ are really just calling for a formula that results in an overall subtraction of individual freedom:

Fortunately for Brooks—and unfortunately for us—there is a distinct third way. Though vague on details, it involves increased taxes (especially on energy), short-term spending boosts, long-term entitlement cuts, and roughly the same foreign policy commitments as today. It calls for renewed citizen engagement, a return to political civility, and a rejection of coarse cynicism. Better teachers, trained workers, and cleaner air. Although advocated by pundits from all over the traditional political spectrum, the program is remarkably uniform when it comes to giving the government more power. Just don’t call it ideological.

Read the entire piece, here.

November 4th, 2011 at 6:55 pm
California Grows Deficit, Cuts Transparency Website

More bad news from the Tarnished State:  A memo circulated by Democratic Assembly leaders pegs California’s budget deficit for next year at $8 billion, more than double the $3.1 billion Governor Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats projected just a few months ago.  In (un?)-related news, Brown’s office shut down a transparency website from the Schwarzenegger-era that made far-flung government documents easily available.  Now, visitors are redirected to some of the relevant primary sources, but many others are not listed.

In both cases, the price of reliable information seems to be too little, too late.

October 10th, 2011 at 5:45 pm
The “Upstream” Approach to Regulatory Reform

According to an article in the journal Regulation, there are two ways to regulate the flow of administrative agency rules.  The “downstream” approach tries to “rein in onerous regulations after they have been promulgated.”  The “upstream” method allows Congress “to restrict administrative agencies before giving them rulemaking authority during the legislative process.”  The idea is to get fewer and less costly regulations with five key reforms:

1)      Require agencies to review existing regulations for inefficiency at a set time after implementation (which sounds like something similar to Texas’ Sunset process)

2)      Require agencies to eliminate duplicative rules if a new regulation would supersede an older one

3)      Limit the total number of regulations during implementation of any new law (an attempt to make rule writers more cautious when spending their regulatory chips)

4)      Establish a regulatory “pay-as-you-go” that rescinds one old rule for every new rule implemented (the authors also argue for a proportionality requirement that ensures against an economy-killing rule replacing a forgotten restriction no longer necessary)

5)      Prohibit new regulations where costs exceed benefits

The key perk of the last proposal is requiring agencies to engage in a formal cost-benefit analysis during the implementation phase.  That helps put the agency on record – and the voting public on notice – of the true impact about to hit before it’s too late.

Check out the short (4 page), tightly-argued article here.

H/T: Cato Institute

September 30th, 2011 at 7:56 pm
California Tries Local Control to Ease Budget Problems

For every crisis, there is an opportunity:

As part of the June budget agreement, the state will transfer to the 58 counties responsibilities for managing low-level offenders, as well as providing mental health, substance abuse and child protective services. It’s a Reaganesque approach – the idea that we can deliver better service at less cost by moving government decision-making closer to the people. Or, as Gov. Jerry Brown described Thursday, “It’s a bold vision of a new relationship between the state and local governments.”

It’s also a bow to fiscal reality.  Here’s to more (forced) bold thinking that gives local officials the power to best serve their neighbors.

September 27th, 2011 at 12:33 pm
Communities, Not Congress, Fund Disaster Relief

The Heritage Foundation has a masterful indictment of Senator Harry Reid’s (D-NV) ham-handed attempt to use a FEMA budget bill to score political points.  Last week, Reid deliberately killed a House-passed continuing resolution funding FEMA for $3.5 billion while cutting $200 million in subsidies similar to the Solyndra loan fiasco.  Angry at the cuts, Reid sidelined the House bill and introduced his own with no cuts and more spending.

Yet when the Senate sensibly defeated Reid’s proposal, he chastised the chamber in a bizarre floor speech that tried to pin blame on Republicans for leaving disaster victims out in the cold.

Besides refusing responsibility for holding victims hostage so more green jobs could be subsidized, Reid’s implication was that without billions in taxpayer money, citizens would be left to fend for themselves.

As Heritage shows, Reid’s argument is simply not so.  With just a bit of calling around, the think tank found that disaster victims in Pennsylvania were being assisted by the Wyoming County United Way, the Seven Loaves Soup Kitchen and the Weinberg Regional Food Bank.  Each of these private voluntary groups reported record numbers of donations and applications to assist.

As with any disaster, everyday Americans don’t wait for the government to mobilize.  Instead, they roll up their sleeves, stuff sand bags, serve hot food and help the devastated rebuild their lives and communities.  For statists like Harry Reid, people die without the government.  For those living in the real world, it’s people – not bureaucracies – that make recovery possible.

September 21st, 2011 at 12:40 pm
Issa: No Overpayment by USPS Exists

Hat tip to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and his staff at the House Committee on Government Oversight for sharing this “Myth v. Fact” explanation via email of the USPS’s alleged overpayment into the federal retirement system.

Myth: The Postal Service has overpaid by $50-$75 billion into the Civil Service Retirement System and Congress owes this money back.

Fact: There is no Postal Service overpayment.

The United States Postal Service was created in 1971 from the old Post Office Department in order to provide better mail delivery and let it act more like a business. In 1974, the Postal Service agreed to a formula to share the retiree costs of individuals who worked for both the Post Office Department and the Postal Service, calling it “proper, as a matter of principle.” Now, with revenues declining, the Postal Service argues that that formula is unfair. The Postal Service argues that if a formula it considers to be fair had been used instead, then it would be owed $50-$75 billion by the US Treasury.  This is an attempt to rewrite history. The original formula was instituted as part of a broader set of decisions concerning the creation of USPS.  For instance, those decisions included not charging any fee to USPS in return for the postal monopoly it was granted.  Another reason why it makes little sense to speak of an overpayment due to USPS is that the Postal Service had a clear requirement from 1971 until 2006 to raise postage rates to cover all costs, including its cost of retirement funding.  If a different formula had been used all these years that had resulted in lower annual payments by USPS for its federal employee retirement costs, those savings would have been used to lower the cost of postage rates.

Issa’s postal reform bill is up for consideration in a congressional subcommittee today.  You can get more information on his version of postal reform at this website.

August 25th, 2011 at 12:42 pm
Taxing the Rich Won’t Fix the Deficit

In a brilliantly written refutation of the Obama-as-Genius argument, Mortimer Zuckerman explains why even taking all the money from “rich” people and corporations won’t solve the deficit problem:

Even if the government instituted a 100% tax on both corporate profits and personal incomes above $250,000 per year, it would yield enough revenue to run the government for only six months. Why? Because under Mr. Obama’s presidency, government spending has swelled to 24% of GDP from 18%.

Spending is Obama’s original sin as president.  Unless he’s willing to repent of that folly and ratchet back on the flow of money, the American economy will stay mired in a recession.