Economy & Budget

The Dog Days of Summer

The weather in Washington, D.C. has been rather pleasant, all things considered, but that doesn’t mean the nation’s capital has avoided the dog days of summer.

In Congress, the dog days of summer mean it is the appropriations season. With 13 appropriations bills to complete before the end of the fiscal year at the end of the September, the Congress usually slogs away at spending bills designed to keep the government open.

These are especially dog days for the taxpayer, because the Democratic Congress is trying to go on a spending binge.

ACORN Cried Foul Over Minimum-Wage Hike; What Would Edwards Do?

As he wrapped up his three-day poverty tour through the South yesterday, Louisville, Ky.'s Courier-Journal reports that presidential candidate John Edwards (D) told a crowd in Prestonsburg, "We're going to raise the national minimum wage so people working for the minimum can actually provide for a family.”

That’s all well and good for a Democratic candidate who’s trying to position himself as THE liberal in a crowded field of liberal candidates. But again, it begs the question: Why then would John Edwards campaign with the liberal activist organization ACORN, which in 1995 sued California to be exempt from the minimum-wage law, arguing, “the more that Acorn must pay each individual outreach worker … the fewer outreach workers it will be able to hire.” (John Fund, The Wall Street Journal.)

A lot of small-business owners would make the same argument. Then again, Edwards isn’t out campaigning on behalf of America’s entrepreneurial class, is he?

Can't Get Enough

“Please help me before I spend again!” Oh, you won’t hear any member utter those words on the House floor this summer during debate over the annual spending bills, but their actions betray their sentiments as well as their desperation. They repeatedly show arrogant disdain for the voters who beg to be heard: “Stop! For the love of Pete, just stop the spending!”

Just last week, House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) coyly announced he will publish a list of earmarks in the Congressional Record before a House-Senate conference committee will vote on final passage. How noble of you, Mr. Chairman!

Unfair Rules

This country is about equal opportunity, not equal outcome. How many times have we heard that? It's the American way to give everybody the same fair chance at success. What a wonderful theory.

So let's talk about all the equal opportunity here in the U-S of A, shared by rich and poor alike: 

Them That Got v. Those That Don't

Let's talk about our economic system. More and more it is ruled by a Tyranny of the Quarterly Report. Profits über alles. No longer is business governed by anything more than the amoral push to constantly increase earnings and reduce expenses. That has become the only way top executives can keep their jobs and their obscene compensation.

And how do they do that? Let's see: They can "improve productivity," which often means cutting jobs. They can reduce expenses, which often means cutting jobs and product quality. They can move their operations to a Third World country where they can pay near slave wages, and leave their workers and communities in the dust, as well as the consumer, who is less likely to be protected from dangerous goods. 

A Strong Economy, A Weak Stomach

“This is far and away the strongest global economy I’ve seen in my business lifetime,” Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson recently said to Fortune magazine.

People investing in the stock market would seem to agree. It broke another record yesterday, and barring unforeseen circumstances, will break the 14,000 barrier by the end of the summer.

While America hums along, the rest of the world is going like gangbusters. Most of the big growth is happening overseas, in places like China, India, Chile and even in some African countries. But we are growing too, as is Europe. A rare time when the world is growing together.

Just Asking: Top 10 Things I (Occasionally) Think About

10. The AP reports that half of the faculty of the University of Alabama will be denied Crimson Tide football tickets for the coming year. Wouldn’t it be better if a college administration really put the brakes on faculty excess by, say, denying tenure to left-wing professors who don’t really teach?

9. Speaking of left-wing professors, what will occur sooner, John Edwards going to the Hair Cuttery or the president of Duke taking ANY action against the “Duke 88” who signed hateful letters against the Duke Lacrosse players? The left wing is firmly in control of American college campuses.

8. Why so little mention that the federal deficit is projected to fall substantially again in 2007 without a tax increase? Could it be that the national media is interested in the deficit only as an excuse to raise taxes?

Deficit Politics

A small story, getting smaller all the time, is the deficit. It stands now slightly north of $200 billion, or about 1.2 percent of the gross national product. The historic rate is about 2.4 percent. In wartime, the historic percentage is much higher (for example, during the Second World War, the percentage was in the upper 30s). Take away spending for the war, and we probably would have a small surplus. Imagine what spending programs the Democrats would propose if we actually did have a surplus!

The war drives the left crazy because they want to spend the money on bigger government. When the Democrats say they want to bring the troops home, they mean that they want to bring the troops home so they can spend more of the taxpayers’ money on universal healthcare, midnight basketball, windmills and stuff like that.

Just Asking: Top 10 Things I Occasionally Think About

10.    How can liberal Democrats be so outraged about President Bush commuting Scooter Libby’s jail sentence (but not his fine or conviction), yet be so sanguine about President Bill Clinton doing basically the same thing (lying to a grand jury)  and escaping any sanction at all? Indeed, he is now the toast of the town and slated to become our next co-president. Shouldn’t a president be held to a higher standard than anyone else?

9.    If the economy is so bad, why are lines so long to buy a new telephone costing upwards of $700? Is this a great country or what?

8.    Did the concern about “too much money in politics” evaporate when Democratic candidates began out-raising Republicans in this year’s presidential campaign? 

How's That for Gratitude?

“Congress weighs end to tax break for hedge funds,” says the headline from today’s New York Times. Apparently Democrats are planning a huge tax increase on hedge-fund operators.

A story from Bloomberg News service last August said this: “Democrats are collecting more than two-thirds of the campaign donations from employees of the biggest hedge funds and buyout firms, as the party taps into one of Wall Street's fastest-growing sources of wealth.”

So, how’s that for gratitude?

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the Democrats were going to find ways to raise taxes on most Americans. They don’t have to say anything. That’s what they do.

But these smart hedge-fund operators really deserve what they are getting from the Democratic majority that they largely delivered.