Economy & Budget

What worries you?

I was speaking to a group of college students recently and raised the question of what worries them about their future. I followed up by asking whether they were optimistic or pessimistic. A student answered that her hopes were to secure a job upon graduation and that she was neither optimistic nor pessimistic. I wasn't surprised in hearing that answer, because it seems that many in the younger generation do not think deeply about the implications of out-of-control spending. Obviously, many don't think about nor do they understand the impact of out-of-control debt on their future. They simply hope that everything is going to be OK.


Justifying the spending addiction

Republican leaders should — and I’m confident that they will — take a principled position to save our nation from further bankruptcy, which is what a rational populace would call our situation. The president knows only the blame game; he doesn’t know about accepting responsibility. Someone has to step up and take on the role of grown-up; don’t count on it being Obama. In his four total years in the Senate, he (along with Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Charles Schumer, Patty Murray and, oh yeah, Joe Biden) opposed raising the debt ceiling, and now as president viciously demagogues those who do the same thing he did in 2007. He is shameless.


The GOP needs a new vocabulary to win debt showdown

In late February 2012, with the Republican presidential primaries in full swing, I told a reporter from The Hill newspaper that eventual nominee Mitt Romney should be more mindful of his words on the campaign trail, particularly as they related to immigration and unions. His divisive rhetoric, I said, could come back to haunt him in a general-election match-up with President Obama.
I went on about my day, confident I’d given an honest and accurate assessment. I had campaigned for John McCain in 2008 and saw then how the Obama campaign would dig up statements and use them at the most critical moments. And it’s not just the Obama campaign. In this age of YouTube and handheld cameras, candidates will be held responsible for every public utterance.


Reid, Pelosi and Clinton are right: POTUS can act to avoid a debt-ceiling crash

If America is faced with a national default because of Republican obstruction against raising the debt ceiling, in my opinion President Obama has authority under Article 4 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to act unilaterally if necessary to avoid a debt ceiling-induced default. If default is the only other option, the president should exercise this authority.

Unilateral presidential action to avoid a debt-ceiling default is the second worst option, and should be avoided if at all possible. Unilateral action sends an awful message to financial markets. While I believe such action would be reluctantly approved by a narrow Supreme Court majority after an inevitable challenge, judicial approval is not certain. Bipartisan and comprehensive budget, spending and revenue negotiations on all outstanding issues is a far more desirable outcome.


The house always wins

The president is not a socialist. However, he is a statist. The current term for this is crony capitalism. He does not want the state to own the means of production and the assets in the economy, but he wants the state to control the economy indirectly, through regulation for the benefit of the “friends” of the state. The private sector still owns businesses and assumes business risks, but the government tells individuals and businesses whom to hire, what to pay, what to make, how to invest, and how much to pay the government in tribute for its “protection.” Much like in a casino, the house always wins. The government plays with house money, and there’s just no competing with that. This, in turn, has an unsubtle impact on the way the government is run and the policies that are implemented, as the cronies’ special treatment is reinforced with their success.


Obama’s loo-worthy Treasury appointment

President Obama announced that he is appointing current Chief of Staff and former OMB Director Jack Lew to be the nation’s next secretary of the Treasury.

Lew, whose signature featuring a bunch of loops with no discernible letters has become an Internet viral sensation, is a fitting replacement for a Treasury secretary who blamed TurboTax for his failure to properly pay his taxes. After all, Lew is the man responsible for developing two budgets for the Obama administration to submit to Congress. Lew’s budgets were so well thought of that they received a grand total of zero votes.


Not a single Republican or even a single Democrat voted for the two budgets that Lew was instrumental in creating.


New work schedule

One of the unforeseen effects of the Affordable Care Act is redefining what full-time employment is. It once was a 40-hour workweek, but the act now requires full medical benefits for 30 hours or more. For that reason, many employers are only offering jobs to individuals who will only work for less than 30 hours. This is further redefining work hours for people who now have two jobs and frequently work more than 40 hours between the two and have no healthcare benefits.

There is an important lesson that can be learned by examining the causes and effects of an overactive government in a free, capitalistic society. The free market and the populace will always react in ways that benefit themselves or at least allow themselves not to be severely harmed or injured.


Credit-rating threat could help GOP in debt-ceiling showdown

No question, the early reviews on the fiscal-cliff deal have not been good for Republicans.
President Obama “Rick-rolled” the GOP, forcing members to back a big tax hike for the first time in 20 years, to add nearly $4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade and to vote against their own Speaker’s proposal to address the crisis.
There were some things to like. The Bush tax cuts finally were made permanent for all who earn less than $400,000, the Alternative Minimum Tax was reformed, and the structure of the deal provides three more opportunities for Republicans to push for spending cuts.


Tax relief for 98 percent of Americans

The Alternative Minimum Tax has finally been altered so that it won’t hurt middle-income families. For years, people have assumed this was just a tax on the wealthy but it was never indexed to inflation. In fact it has been modified or revamped 19 times in the last 42 years. Now it is indexed to inflation, so many families that worked their way into it, or were sitting on the bubble worrying about qualifying for it, now will do neither.


More cliff-diving to come

The leadership has now averted the much-talked-about fiscal cliff , which was never the threat that it was purported to be. Rather, it provided a wonderful opportunity for the do-nothing Senate to craft legislation that supports the president's agenda of wealth redistribution.

An honest analysis of the bill makes it clear that it really doesn't address the fundamental problems of massive federal deficits as far as the eye can see. In fact, over the next 10 years it increases the national debt by $4 trillion.