Right Thinking From The Left Coast
I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. - Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Wisconsin Aftermath

Remember the Democratic talking point as you read this: the reforms in Wisconsin were all about union-busting, not the budget.  Got that?  Good.

The property tax bill on the typical Wisconsin home would rise by less than 1% annually over the next two years under Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget, the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office reported Friday.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau also said Walker’s plan would put the state’s finances in the best shape they’ve been in for more than 15 years.

It found the so-called structural deficit - the imbalance between spending and tax revenue as laid out in state law - for the 2013-’15 budget would be $31 million. That assumes Walker’s budget passes the Legislature without new spending increases or tax cuts that would add to the deficit.

Under its existing form, Walker’s budget leaves the state with a fraction of the structural deficits seen in the past eight budget cycles. The next lowest structural deficit in recent years was $1.5 billion, or 48 times as much as what Walker’s proposing.

There’s a lot going on in that budget and I suggest you read the whole thing.  School funding is cut, but so are tax subsidies to businesses.  Some money is shell-gamed from reserved funds.  It also ends a state income tax credit for poor people that offsets the FICA payroll taxes—said taxes theoretically going to their own retirement.

There’s plenty to criticize if you’re a liberal or even just leftish.  But what can’t be criticized is the math—the budget is coming into line.  That’s more than you can say on the federal level, where S&P issued a new warning about US debt and our politicians have found the amazing courage to “consider” cutting tax subsidies for the environment-ruining, car-destroying, poor-people starving boondoggle called ethanol.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/19/11 at 12:08 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

All The Statements that Are Fit to Sign

What irritates me about this story is not so much that Obama has broken another promise—I expect that.  It’s what he’s broken a promise over:

In a statement issued Friday night, President Obama took issue with some provisions in the budget bill – and in one case simply says he will not abide by it.

Last week the White House and congressional Democrats and Republicans were involved in intense negotiations over not only the size of the budget for the remainder of the FY2011 budget, and spending cuts within that budget, but also several GOP “riders,” or policy provisions attached to the bill.

One rider – Section 2262—de-funds certain White House adviser positions – or “czars.” The president in his signing statement declares that he will not abide by it.

I don’t know the history enough to know where the Constitution ends up on this.  Congress controls the purse strings, but the President control the executive.  But that’s a fight for the Courts or the floor of Congress.  For the President to essentially line-item veto a provision—and not really for a Constitutional reason—is the sort of thing we used to deservedly bash up Bush for.

And this is what Obama breaks his promise for?  White House czars?  Really?  There’s nothing more objectionable that Congress has done in the last two years that he could have broken that pledge on?  He’ll tolerate the destruction of the DC voucher program, let stand provisions on prisoner treatment, countenance endless encroachments on personal and economic liberty ... but, by gum, he won’t put up them with telling Ron Blum to take a hike.  This time, Congress has gone too far!

Lee’s words are looking more prophetic with each day.  The powers that Bush assumed were not the problem: it was the power he passed on to his successor, power that successor is more than eager to embrace.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/19/11 at 11:14 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

What’s costing the government so much

I posted recently about how the problems we have right now are caused because government has simply been spending too much, not because, as the leftiods will tell scream at you, government isn’t taxing us enough. In fact, I pointed out that at the current rate of spending, they are going to have to sock it to the middle class, and sock it to them hard. Of course, the leftists will deny that and lie about how they can confiscate enough from the “rich”, but the key here is what will qualify as rich so they can steal enough cash from the people.

Posted by AlexinCT on 04/19/11 at 10:54 AM in Decline of Western Civilization   Deep Thoughts   Left Wing Idiocy   Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Server stuff, your opinions needed
by JimK

Okay, so here’s the deal. Y’all might have noticed the server is continually going down these past couple of weeks. It’s the same old bug in the Qmail server, and no amount of troubleshooting or technical support from the provider seems to fix it. The only thing that works is to reboot the machine, catch it before it goes haywire and run a cleaning script to clear the mail queue & associated folders. Then we wait for the problem to happen again.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

This server still costs the same $254 a month it always has. So this constant crashing is grating on my last nerve. Also, the box gets about $0 in Blogads per month. That is primarily (okay, exclusively) mainly due to my abandoning most of the sites that it houses. However, truth be told, I have lost my heart for daily grinding on politics, and that is not likely to change any time soon. I simply can’t take maintaining the levels of anger and vitriol one needs to be effective in this current blog world.

Worse, I cannot afford to keep carrying the cost. Thanks Obama! (Oh look, there’s the anger.) But, I have found a more affordable place that will allow me to scale up and down in need & cost, and they seem to be far more capable than our current provider, and I hope to move stuff in the next two weeks so as to avoid the new billing cycle and that $254 charge. However: I have almost no interest in trying to upgrade all these ExpressionEngine sites and trying to import them and keep them running. I propose the following:

1. Create a new RTFLC out of Wordpress, and attempt to create an archive out of the current EE site with link structure and searchability intact. If that doesn’t work, this is the one site I am willing to do the work on to move over. I’ll probably have to weed out old comments, maybe older than 12 months though, because the database is MASSIVE, and the server won’t let me FTP a copy of it for whatever reason. It times out before it ever finishes (this has always been true, and no one can tell me why). So older comments might be lost, but not the posts. Your opinions on this plan are encouraged!

2. Create a static archive of LeeInChina, with the domain name, and keep that forever. That’s just smart, since no one is - or should - ever post to that domain again.

3. Static archive of Moorewatch, attach it to a sub-domain of RTFLC and break all Google links to it., This is more for professional reasons than anything else. MW is an albatross around my wife’s neck, and she’s about to embark on a career that really takes her reputation into account. Unfortunately that fat asshole attached her name to something she had no part in, and while at the time we never imagined it would matter that much, that fat fucking douchebag has created a situation that may affect her and her future client base, so I want to break the Google link between her name, his name and the site. Hell, it won’t hurt me to have my last name severed either, I can imagine some people wouldn’t hire me to show them how to lift weights just because of that piece of shit film....on the one hand fuck those people, but on the other hand, I need to earn a living. - Again, your opinions and suggestions on this plan are encouraged.  Also, revive forums here and invite all MW forum users over to RTFLC to save what is left of the community.

4. If I host a site for you, I’m sorry but that’s gonna have to stop. It’s not a question of money: it’s a question of time and tech support.

Basically I just want to know if anyone has any ideas re: 1 and 3 that I haven’t thought of. I need to get rolling on this pretty much this week, so barring any new ideas, this is my plan to be implemented sometimes at the end of the week, probably starting this coming weekend.

Posted by JimK on 04/19/11 at 10:13 AM in Site News  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why Polls Don’t Matter

The Left Wing is in a tizzy because Donald Trump—now a born-again culture conservative and purveyor of myths even the birthers won’t touch—is leading (PDF) the GOP presidential field.

Almost every month, the top four candidates have been in a statistical tie, with various candidates jockeying back and forth for slim leads.  But for the first time in three months, when Mike Huckabee had a ten-point lead over Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, PPP has found a candidate who puts serious distance between himself and the rest of the field: Donald Trump.

Trump leads with 26% over Huckabee’s 17%, Romney’s 15%, Newt Gingrich’s 11%, Palin’s 8%, Ron Paul’s 5%, and Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann’s 4%.

OMG!!  Trump is leading the GOP field.  It’s the end of the world.  The Republicans are all racist birthers!

Um, no.  The PPP polls is next to useless.  Concentrate on the important number up there: 26% The Donald does not even command a majority of GOP support.  He has an unconstrained plurality among eight different candidates.  Name recognition and the stimulation of birther enthusiasm can explain all of that.  If we get into the debates and it becomes clear that Trump doesn’t know fuck all, if we get to the point where his shady personal and financial history have come up, and he still leads the field (with something interesting like 40% against two other candidates), then we can panic.

Polls a year and a half before an election are stupid, anyway.  Four years ago, Hillary and Rudy Giuliani were guaranteed to face off in 2008.  Four years before that, Howard Dean was going to be the Democratic challenger.  Four years earlier, John McCain was going to be the next President.  By this point in 1991, no one had heard of Bill Clinton.  By this point in 1975, no one had heard of Jimmy Carter (and by this point in 1979, everyone wished they still hadn’t.)

Polls mean shit.  Early polls mean shit.  Unconstrained pluralities with eight names mean shit.  PPP is giving the Donald the only thing he really wants out of this election—attention.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/18/11 at 11:09 AM in Polls and Surveys  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The left will HAVE to rob the middle class to keep their spending up

That’s what becomes obvious from this WSJ article about where the tax money is.

A dominant theme of President Obama’s budget speech last Wednesday was that our fiscal problems would vanish if only the wealthiest Americans were asked “to pay a little more.” Since he’s asking, imagine that instead of proposing to raise the top income tax rate well north of 40%, the President decided to go all the way to 100%. Let’s stipulate that this is a thought experiment, because Democrats don’t need any more ideas. But it’s still a useful experiment because it exposes the fiscal futility of raising rates on the top 2%, or even the top 5% or 10%, of taxpayers to close the deficit. The mathematical reality is that in the absence of entitlement reform on the Paul Ryan model, Washington will need to soak the middle class—because that’s where the big money is.

There you have it: the middle class will have to be socked, because that’s where the money is. Don’t take my word for it. Here is the WSJ article explaining the problems the left have when they tell the lie they can cover their massive spending by just confiscating the wealth of the rich:

Consider the Internal Revenue Service’s income tax statistics for 2008, the latest year for which data are available. The top 1% of taxpayers—those with salaries, dividends and capital gains roughly above about $380,000—paid 38% of taxes. But assume that tax policy confiscated all the taxable income of all the “millionaires and billionaires” Mr. Obama singled out. That yields merely about $938 billion, which is sand on the beach amid the $4 trillion White House budget, a $1.65 trillion deficit, and spending at 25% as a share of the economy, a post-World War II record. Say we take it up to the top 10%, or everyone with income over $114,000, including joint filers. That’s five times Mr. Obama’s 2% promise. The IRS data are broken down at $100,000, yet taxing all income above that level throws up only $3.4 trillion. And remember, the top 10% already pay 69% of all total income taxes, while the top 5% pay more than all of the other 95%.

We recognize that 2008 was a bad year for the economy and thus for tax receipts, as payments by the rich fell along with their income. So let’s perform the same exercise in 2005, a boom year and among the best ever for federal revenue. (Ahem, 2005 comes after the Bush tax cuts that Mr. Obama holds responsible for all the world’s problems.) In 2005 the top 5% earned over $145,000. If you took all the income of people over $200,000, it would yield about $1.89 trillion, enough revenue to cover the 2012 bill for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—but not the same bill in 2016, as the costs of those entitlements are expected to grow rapidly. The rich, in short, aren’t nearly rich enough to finance Mr. Obama’s entitlement state ambitions—even before his health-care plan kicks in.image

So who else is there to tax? Well, in 2008, there was about $5.65 trillion in total taxable income from all individual taxpayers, and most of that came from middle income earners. The nearby chart shows the distribution, and the big hump in the center is where Democrats are inevitably headed for the same reason that Willie Sutton robbed banks.

And there you have it. The rate at which the cost of these entitlements are growing so far surpasses that of even the wealthy to produce new wealth, that the middle class will have to be raped to cover the gap between outlays and receipts. The left’s been trying real hard to tell you that all they need to do is bend the rich over the barrel and play “Deliverance” with them - after all, these crooks stole their money! And that’s just social justice to take it back – to close the gap, but that’s bullshit. The rich don’t have the money to cover these expenses, even if we take it all each year, and that’s a fact. And note that so far we have NOT looked at the added cost of Obamacare in these calculations, which means that the outlays from government are going to be far higher than these baslines while the available pool of cash isn’t. Obamacare is going to be the proverbial bullet to the head.

So cut it anyway you want, in the end the collectivst nanny staters will have to soak the middle class they are pretending to be doing all of this for, and soak them hard they will. At the rate that the cost of the nanny state is growing, we simply do not have the wealth to sustain it, even after we soak the middle class as well, to keep it up. Collectivism just serves to make everyone but the elite masters live in poverty and misery, as history has shown repeatedly, but these morons simply refuse to give up on their egotistical belief that they will actually be the first to bend reality to their ideological will. My guess is that these collectivist scum know that they can’t fix the problem by ripping the rich off, but they don’t care as long as it helps the greedy and jealous moonbats that buy this shit continue to froth at the mouth.

In the mean time the real world keeps moving on, wealth keeps getting destroyed while people’s life long investments get wiped out, and Emperor Nero keeps fiddling while Rome burns. The Cloward & Piven group currently running the country into the ground keeps winning however. The lesson is simple: the nanny state is unsustainable. We are too close to running out of other people’s money to make it keep working. And that’s not going to change no matter how hard the left hopes it will or pretends it can make it so. Broke is broke.

Posted by AlexinCT on 04/18/11 at 10:32 AM in • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Is it April first today?

That’s what I thought when I saw that WaPo’s “Outlook” section had an article today - April 18th, tax day 2011 - by Walter Mondale of all people, entitled ”How to Raise Taxes Without Losing Votes”. Walter Mondale? The moron that lost in a landslide to Ronald Reagan in 1984 after he got caught telling his VEEP on a mike they didn’t know was on how they were going to tax our asses off when they won? That Walter Mondale? He is giving advice on how to make taxes election year gold? My guess is that he is going to propose more class warfare rhetoric and meaningless platitudes despite his advice to donkeys to “In particular, avoid generalities, and clearly link taxes to addressing concrete national needs”, something I would love to see the left try after the fiscal discipline displayed by the demcorats over the first two years of the reign of Obama. That’s going to be a hoot.

But I had to laugh my ass off when Mondale tried to make the argument that he had lost the election but won the argument against Reagan, because Reagan was forced to raise taxes anyway. Well sure Walter, but ignore the fact that Reagan had to allow congress to raise taxes because when they saw that his tax cuts had spurred some massive economic growth and had set the economy on fire, raising government income drastically, they tripled if not outright quadrupled their spending, mostly on the expansion of the welfare state, leaving no other option but to hike taxes. And that’s where we are today. The left has known that despite the fact that almost 50% of Americans don’t pay taxes, taxation, no matter how it is sold by the marxists class warfare mongers, pisses those that work instead of just vote for a living, off.

But please Walter, carry on. And I so hope demcorats follow your advice. Tell the American people that you have promised the impossible and without confiscating most of, if not all our wealth, can’t deliver. Even in the short term. Because that’s the truth. Man, this one sure as hell was one funny April fools joke of an article.

Posted by AlexinCT on 04/18/11 at 10:22 AM in Deep Thoughts   Elections   Fun and Humor   Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday, April 17, 2011

You Betchya

I started this post by writing “The Obama Administration, in an appalling over-reach”.  But really, do I need to type those words anymore?  Almost everything these guys do is an overreach.

A thriving online poker industry catering to Americans but operating from abroad to evade U.S. gambling laws could be wiped out by criminal charges against top executives in the business.

Eleven people, including the founders of the three largest poker sites open to U.S. players, were charged by a federal grand jury with bank fraud, money laundering and violating gambling laws. The government also is seeking to recover $3 billion from the companies.

Congress, in 2006, passed a very stupid bill trying to outlaw internet gambling.  The Bush Administration went to absurd lengths to enforce it, even arresting one online poker exec while he was changing international flights.  All to protect adults from betting their own damned money.  Yes, there are people who many bankrupt themselves gambling.  But is preventing that—or more likely, shunting that to even shadier operators—worth creating a society in which the government is constantly looking over our shoulder onto our laptops, slapping our fingers and saying, “No. Baaad citizen.”?

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the courts.  The gambling sites were, at minimum, trying to slither around the law.  That may be enough for the charges to stick.  The government will get what it wants—moral grandstanding and a lot of cash—never forget the money.  But the net benefit to Americans?  Minimal.  The benefit to compulsive gamblers?  None.  It’s the fucking internet, guys.  You can’t stop people from doing what they want on the internet.  All you can do is make it riskier.  Or put it into government hands.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/17/11 at 05:53 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kloppenburg crashes & burns.

It’s official: Kloppenburg loses vs. Possner despite a nationwide mobilization by unionists and donkeys all the way up to the WH, Kloppenburg fails to steal the election. The move not to report a whole town and let the donkey hang themselves with jst enough cheater votes, whether preplanned or not, was brilliant. Sure there will be a recount, but as of now this is how it stands:

MADISON, WI – With the submission of the Milwaukee County canvass report, the Government Accountability Board has received the results of the Supreme Court election as certified by all 72 Wisconsin counties. The results as certified by each county indicate that David T. Prosser received 752,323 votes and Joanne F. Kloppenburg received 745,007 votes. Pursuant to law, the Board may not certify the official statewide results at this time. By law the Board may not certify statewide results until either the passage of the deadline for filing a recount or the completion of a recount.

The deadline for filing a recount request is Wednesday, April 20 at 5:00 p.m. The difference of 7,316 votes represents a margin of 0.488%. State law provides that a recount petition involving a margin of 0.5% or less does not require a filing fee. A request for a partial or full recount of the 2011 election for Supreme Court Justice is within that margin and would not require a filing fee. If the difference were more than 0.5% but less than 2%, the petitioning candidate would be required to pay a fee of $5 per ward involved in the recount. There are 6,906 voting wards in the state.

The margin of victory is just to big to overcome with even 2 or 3 trunks full of “suddenly found ballots”, so I doubt this goes the other way. However, considering the amount of money & effort by the unions, and the likely cheating by the left to try to close the gap, this is a huge victory for Walker and what he is doing. There might yet be hope for America if we are willing to stop these crooks from raping the tax payers of WI over a “negotiating table”.

Of course, here in CT it is starting to look like our governor lied when he said he would lay off union state workers if he couldn’t get concessions from them, and there is even tlak now that this is all a giant ruse to keep people distracted until the heavy taxe increases in his new bill go into effect. It seems like my state was the only one to actually double down on a surfire losing hand. Damn.

Posted by AlexinCT on 04/15/11 at 07:52 PM in Deep Thoughts   Elections   Left Wing Idiocy   Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The lesson in this tragedy is….

Well, can’t say I am surprised to learn that an evil person did research to make sure a state had no death penalty before committing a heinous murder, as this story says he did:

Smirnov arrived in Chicago last weekend, using the Internet to locate Vesel’s home, Berlin said. He then used a GPS tracking device, which he glued to Vesel’s car, to track her movements via the Internet, Berlin said.

He was waiting for Vesel when she went to her car in the parking lot of the Windsor Office Park in Oak Brook, Wednesday night. “He ran up to her, he began shooting, he reloaded and shot her some more,” Berlin said. “She fell on the ground and he kept shooting. He shot her numerous times.”

Smirnov then fled the scene, calling Chicago police to tell them he had killed a woman in Oak Brook, Berlin said. Chicago police contacted Oak Brook authorities, and Smirnov turned himself in to a Romeoville police officer. Eleven shell casings were recovered at the scene, Berlin said, and investigators found the gun in Smirnov’s car.

Berlin said Smirnov had done research on the Internet to determine if Illinois had the death penalty, deciding to go through with Vesel’s murder when he discovered it does not.

Of course, the people that don’t like the death penalty will tell you it is never a deterrent, and when horrors like this happen and we discover the lack of the death penalty did factor in, they will ignore it because realty shouldn’t be allowed to mess with that narrative. Me, I understand the death penalty, because some people plainly need killing.

Posted by AlexinCT on 04/15/11 at 05:54 AM in Decline of Western Civilization   Deep Thoughts   Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Refereeing the Budget Bullshit Match

There are lot of numbers flying around about the various budget proposals.  Thankfully, we have the internet—a realm in which people are not so beholden to the political class and can therefore cut through the deceptions.

First, on the GOP’s $38.5 billion in cuts, which some sources are saying as low as $352 million:

There’s a difference between the amount of money an appropriations committee has to spend (their “budget authority”) and the amount of money they actually do spend (their “outlays”). The numbers you hear — $38.5 billion in cuts, if you’re measuring by what we spent in 2010, or $78.5 billion, if you’re measuring against the president’s 2011 budget request — are talking about “budget authority.” But some of that money wouldn’t have been used anyway. The Census Bureau, for instance, had $2 billion or so sitting around that it didn’t end up needing. That money got sucked back in this deal. But if it hadn’t gotten sucked back in this deal, it’s not like it would have gone to pizza parties. It probably just wouldn’t have been used. It’s like the philosophers always wondered: If a tree never grows in the forest, can it really be cut?

The authority/outlay distinction doesn’t get you down to $352 million, however. Rather, that’s what you get if you’re only looking at money saved by the end of this year. But a lot of the money will actually be saved next year, or in the years to come (the Pell Grant cuts, for instance, stack up over time). So the CBO took a longer view (pdf), too, and estimated that “federal outlays over the 2011-2021 period that are between $20 billion and $25 billion lower than the amount of outlays that would be expected from having 2011 appropriations set at the same level as 2010 appropriations.”

I haven’t delved into this as deeply as Ezra Klein has, but I would think that budget authority can be redirected in many circumstances.  I know, having worked for contractors who have unspent budget authority, that having it clawed back is a big deal.

But I’m afraid the GOP’s budget deception is nothing compared to the hokus pokus Barack Obama unveiled.  Hennessey:

OMB says the President’s February budget reduces the 2021 deficit to 3.1% of GDP. CBO said the same policies would result in a 4.9% deficit in that year. That’s a big gap, and the same will likely be true here. CBO is likely to say that the President’s specific policies don’t come close to hitting his stated deficit targets. If they’re right, the trigger would not be a failsafe and would kick in with big tax increases.

As for those failsafes?

The President’s proposal is similar to past triggers in that it exempts all discretionary spending, Social Security, and interest on the debt. While past triggers limited the amounts that Medicare and Medicaid could be cut, the President’s trigger appears to exempt them entirely. The White House fact sheet says the trigger “should not apply to Social Security, low-income programs, or Medicare benefits.” Elsewhere it says the trigger applies only to mandatory spending.

In other words, 90% of the budget is exempted from these automated cuts.  This is same bullshit politicians have been doing for thirty years.  I remember the days of Graham-Rudman-Hollings, which supposedly triggered “across the board” spending cuts.  It never did because Congress simply ignored the automatic spending cuts or over-rode them.  This is even worse.

What the failsafe really amount to is across-the-board automatic tax increases.  This is sort of the inverse of “starve the beast”—hope that tax hikes will scare Congress into controlling spending.  But if history is any guide, Congress will simply over-ride the automatic tax increases too (except maybe for “the rich").

But at least it cuts defense spending. Only it doesn’t. Under Obama’s plan, defense spending would increase more than it does under the Ryan plan.  But at least it cuts Medicare spending.  Only it doesn’t.  Peter Suderman has the details on Obama’s laughable plan to rein in Medicare spending with a really awesome committee board.

As I said last night, this isn’t a plan.  It’s less of an insult than his previous FY2012 budget and it at least acknowledges the elephant on its way off the Empire State Building.  But it is still a proposal built on budget bullshit.  As politics, it might be a winner.  As policy, it’s a loser.

We need a little bit more than that.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/14/11 at 07:35 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Sandy Springs Model

An interesting mini-documentary from Reason.

The Sandy Springs model is not perfect, of course.  Doubtless, contracts will have politics involved.  And while the model works in an affluent suburb, it may have more problems in a big crime-ridden city.  However, the big crime-ridden cities aren’t exactly being run like models of efficiency.  Given the choice of tradeoffs, I know which one looks better.

PS - You know half the reason I put this up is because I grew up in Atlanta and the accents make me feel like I’m home.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/14/11 at 05:15 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Prez’s New Plan

A few thoughts on Obama’s volley on the Burgeoning Budget Battle.  I will not describe it as a “plan” since it clearly isn’t one.  It’s more of a rebuttal with a little ground given.

First, I think conservatives are wrong to respond to this so negatively.  While the President isn’t giving as much ground as I’d like, his proposal has three dollars in spending cuts for every dollar in tax hikes.  It’s a huge step from his earlier joke of a budget proposal and a big step toward the Simpson-Bowles plan that is, I think, clearly becoming the most likely thing to happen.

(To be fair, the Democrats went completely non-linear when Ryan unveiled his proposal.  Compared to Pelosi et al.’s rhetoric about starving seniors to death, the GOP response to Obama has been comparatively mild).

The main conservative opposition stems from an opposition to any tax hikes whatsoever.  While I sympathize, I just don’t think that’s a realistic point of view.  We’ve made commitments to seniors, to our creditors and to the defense of this country.  That alone can not be sustained at the current tax rates. However, any tax hikes, as I said below, need to come with enough reform to, on balance, reduce the deadweight loss to the economy—that being the bargain Reagan struck when he raised taxes to attack the deficit. And they need to be broad-based.  The pitiful returns one gets from raising taxes on just “the rich” exposes the main driver of Democrat support for tax hikes—economic control, not revenue.

The biggest problem with the Obama proposal, for me, is its reliance on magical thinking for reducing Medicare spending.  It doesn’t raise the retirement age and certainly doesn’t cap spending the way Ryan’s plan does.  It relies on Congress to control itself in issuing coverage mandates and for Committees of Wise Men to decide what treatments should be covered.  Obama and his liberal allies support these ideas because they believe that people are stupid, the market is useless and government is benevolent and wise.  My attitude can be easily discerned from my tone.  If we leave spending restrain in the hands of Congress, rather than the market, there will be no spending restraint whatsoever.  And committees of wise men will not decide healthcare spending based on science or cost-benefit analysis; they will decide based on politics and influence peddling.

Finally, it’s important to remember something in this budget debate—anything we do is only binding today.  Relying on future Congresses to somehow show the spending restraint we refuse to exercise now is simply kicking the can down the road.  Increasing spending now, projecting that future Congress will rein it in and counting that as a “spending cut” is simply bullshit.  While long-range plans are the key to deficit control, the commitment to that control is what Congress does right here and right now.  That’s why raising the retirement age or cutting current spending or even raising taxes is important—it’s something that would actually happen right now rather than something we kinda sorta hope future leaders will make happen.

In the end, this is not really a serious proposal or a serious speech.  It does not even attempt to project spending over the timeline that Ryan does nor does it restrain spending as sharply.  Indeed, it has the usual blather about pointless “investments” in useless stuff like high-speed rail.  I suspect that if the CBO scored this, they would find that it doesn’t work at all without a broad-based tax hike.

All that having been said, I think today’s speech is a good sign.  It’s a sign that we’ve got the Democrats pointed somewhat in the right direction.  Every time the President speaks, he’s moved a little bit closer to reality.  The Democrats have now admitted the scale of the problem—something they spent years denying.  They’re acknowledging the kinds of steps that need to be taken.  They’re still laboring under the delusion that tax hikes on the rich and magical medicare thinking can fix the problem.  But the CBO will continue to put the lie to that.

As I said, the Democrats are getting pointed in the right direction.  A bit more turning and a strategically placed boot in the ass and we might actually get somewhere.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/13/11 at 06:56 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

How Budget Cuts Tally

Hmm.  Looks like the media has discovered baseline budgeting:

A close look at the government shutdown-dodging agreement to cut federal spending by $38 billion reveals that lawmakers significantly eased the fiscal pain by pruning money left over from previous years, using accounting sleight of hand and going after programs President Barack Obama had targeted anyway.

You should really read the whole thing.  For example, the cuts include not extending a 1-year $350 million dairy price support program from FY2009.  In another instance, simply capping a fund allows the entire thing to be counted as saving.  They estimate the amount of real cuts is closer to $14 billion than $40 billion.

This is not exactly surprising.  Congress has used spending gimmicks like this for decades to weasel out of budgetary restrictions.  And it is worth pointing out that Pelosi’s Congress would almost certainly have spent these funds, one-year programs or no.

In the end, however, all of this amounts to pennies on the dollar.  The real money is in defense, entitlements and taxes (and with the latter, only over the broad base, not just on “the rich").  Cutting the last one would be reckless in the middle of a fiscal year.  Cutting the second requires statutory changes.  And raising taxes shouldn’t happen without big spending cuts and a massive overhaul of the tax system that results in a net decrease in deadweight loss on the economy.

As I said, the real fight is for FY2012.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/13/11 at 10:49 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Romneycare shows future for Obamacare

And the future looks like it portends shitty quality and access of care, at much higher prices for all the peasants and fools.

Taxpayers now spend $2.5 billion more on our state’s health care budget. The direct cost of Romneycare has gone from less than $100 million a year to at least $400 million — and even that number is suspect. But we do know we’ve spent more than $35 million in a single year on health services for illegal immigrants, and tens of millions more on illegal, unallowable or outright bogus claims. If you want to know why Romneycare’s costs keep rising, check out this simple statistic from the Patrick administration: In 2006, 85 percent of the insured in Massachusetts got their coverage through private group coverage at work. Today that’s down to 79 percent. Meanwhile the percentage on the MassHealth dole has doubled, and more than 150,000 people are now subsidized through Commonwealth Care. Romneycare supporters like Brandeis University health policy professor Stuart Altman brag that “the basic reason for the reform was to extend coverage, and on this, we have done amazingly well.” But that’s only if you use the phrase “extend coverage” to mean “the government forced you to buy your own insurance.”

Higher costs, rampant abuse by locals & illegals, bigger annual state budget deficits, and from people that are actually subjected to Romneycare that I know, this all comes with reduced access – longer wait times caused likely from the government’s need to ration - and lower quality to boot. Of course, those that still support Romneycare, and Obamacare as well for sure, will tell you that it’s the people’s right to get free healthcare!

Those of us that know better understand there is no right to healthcare, this isn’t free, and in general we all lose when we try to do stupid shit like this, because universal “free” healthcare not only forces the bureaucrats running the show – if you go by the people you meet in other government functions they will be uncaring and mad with their own power, making insurance company employees look like angels - to ration and lower the quality of care to keep their ballooning costs down, but seems to hinge on forcing everyone to pay into a system that sucks and they would rather avoid. Well in the case of who pays and is subjected to the shitty care, the politicians in MA as the ones in DC have exempted them and many of their key constituencies – the ones that donate big time- from such requirements the rest of us peasants will have to deal with.

Don’t worry, Obamacare will be the one government bureaucracy that will reverse the trend and actually do more good for less. Obama, the donkeys, and the CBO – working of one of the most blatantly rigged scores delivered by proponents ever - said so! Pay up suckas!

Posted by AlexinCT on 04/12/11 at 08:52 AM in Health Care   Left Wing Idiocy   Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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