Right Thinking From The Left Coast
No legacy is so rich as honesty - William Shakespeare

Monday, April 25, 2011

The ACLU and Terry Jones

This is interesting ... but thankfully not surprising:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has weighed in on the Terry Jones saga, filing a brief supporting the controversial pastor’s right to protest this afternoon in front of a mosque.

In the eight-page brief to the 19th District Court, the ACLU argued that efforts to make Jones pay a peace bond to protest outside the Islamic Center of America constitute prior restraint of his rights to free speech and assembly.

...

But prosecutors argued in court today that Jones’ protest could compromise public safety because the Ford Road mosque is located in a heavily trafficked area near churches, a senior center and schools. Police also argued that Jones — who has burned a Quran — has had threats against his life.

The city has said Jones can move the protest to other “free speech zones” elsewhere in the city or pay a peace bond — as much as $100,000 — to cover police costs if he demonstrates at the mosque. He refused, setting up today’s court battle.

It’s fairly obvious to me: Terry Jones is a piece of shit; even a piece has First Amendment Rights.

The courts have been fairly clear on this: people can not be charged a fee for police protection because their speech might provoke violence. This is why everyone from the KKK to the Illinois Nazis gets to have their say.  The First Amendment does not protect you from the consequences of your speech.  If Terry Jones starts a riot or blocks traffic or something, he can be punished.  But he’s an American.  He gets to say whatever he wants.  And good on the ACLU for standing with this vile creep.  I just suggest they take a shower afterward.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/25/11 at 05:41 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday, April 24, 2011

No freaking way!

WTF?

A shadowy lobby group which pushes the case that global warming is a real threat is being funded by the taxpayer and assisted by the BBC.

Huh? What’s that all mean? Well, it means this:

The little-known not-for-profit company works behind the scenes at international conferences to further its aims.

One of its key supporters headed the official investigation into the so-called “Climategate emails”, producing a report which cleared experts of deliberately attempting to skew scientific results to confirm that global warming was a real threat.

Another scientific expert linked to the group came forward to praise a second independent investigation into the Climategate affair which also exonerated researchers.

Set up with the backing of Tony Blair, then the Prime Minister, and run by a group of British MPs and peers the organisation, Globe International, started life as an All Party Group based in the House of Commons.

It is now run as an international climate change lobbying group flying its supporters and experts club class to international summits to push its agenda. Last year, it said, it spent around £500,000 flying its supporters to these meetings.

Emphasis mine. Read that again: people that are lobbying government in favor of AGW were important players in both of the shams that exonerated the unscientific and criminal behavior of the AGW cultists exposed by the East Anglia Climategate scandale. The rest of the story is about how this group of people is using the BBC and their government connections to get massive quantities of money to lobby others in government to favor their AGW agenda, for profit of course. This whole AGW/green scam is about collectivism writ large, but on the way the people pushing it plan to make themselves a shit load of money doing so. And in return we will get nothing but misery and government control of energy, which allows them thus to control us peasants.

At least the fucking oil companies produce a product that is giving us something in return. These crooks are just redistributing wealth created by others, in a grand scheme to give themselves incredible power over our lives, and stealing as much of it for themselves as they can. And in the process they have no problem pretending to do impartial analysis to conclude their scam, despite all the evidence to the contrary, is legit. Heh!

Posted by AlexinCT on 04/24/11 at 04:05 PM in Left Wing Idiocy   Politics   Law, & Economics   Polls and Surveys   Religion and Sky Pixies   Science and Technology  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Can you tell they are lying scum?

No? Remember the donkeys telling us GWB’s government was in bed with the oil companies when gas prices was flirting with the high $3.00 a gallon amounts? Have a look at this video for a refresher and the reaction now that we are flirting with gas at $5.00 a gallon....



Let me repeat the question: where is the MSM on this now that prices are racing to $5.00 a gallon? Our economy is getting hammered by these gas prices, which combined with the devaluation of the dollar and the disastrous economic conditions the last 4 years of demcorat control of federal government spending, are causing massive inflation in basic necessities like food, and what’s the MSM saying? That high gas prices are AWESOME! Why? No, not because the Obama admin is in bed with the oil companies, which they sure as hell are if a price hike means that when Bush is president, but because it will force people to take the crappy, inefficient, and politically bullshit, green economy as something good?

What a bunch of scumbags these loser shillers in the MSM are.

Posted by AlexinCT on 04/23/11 at 10:37 AM in Deep Thoughts   Elections   Left Wing Idiocy   Politics   Law, & Economics   The Press Machine  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, April 22, 2011

No Right To Work

I always thought we would know Obama by the people he surrounded himself with.  Well, lookie what his new NLRB has done:

For businesses, it was the type of action they have feared from a National Labor Relations Board dominated by Democrats. For labor unions, it was the type of action they have hoped for. And for both, it may be a sign of things to come.

These fears and hopes were stirred this week when the labor board’s top lawyer filed a case against Boeing, seeking to force it to move airplane production from a nonunion plant in South Carolina to a unionized one in Washington State. Boeing executives had publicly said they were making the move to avoid the kind of strikes the airplane maker had repeatedly faced in Washington; Lafe Solomon, the labor board’s acting general counsel, said the company’s motive constituted illegal retaliation against workers for exercising their right to strike.

It cost Boeing $2 billion to build their South Carolina plant. 

This is a lot more than a labor dispute.  Solomon has also filed suit against four states that passed Constitutional Amendments against card check and is expected to forbid workplaces from trying to decertify until at least a year after certifying..  When you look at his actions, the motive for tabbing him and the other new members of the NLRB becomes clear: the Obama Administration quietly taking sides in an interstate economic brawl.

Pro-labor states has been steadily losing jobs, businesses and entire industries to right-to-work states for decades now.  When I lived in Texas, Toyota opened a plant near our house.  They didn’t choose Texas over Michigan because of the big hats.  Well, not entirely.

The NLRB is taking steps to try to stop this from happening.  If companies continue to vote with their feet, the future of Big Labor is bleak—at least outside of government jobs.  And so they must be stopped.  Because, apparently, trying to minimize the headaches of a labor union is now retaliation.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/22/11 at 08:26 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The next time some libtard tells you that the corporate world is in bed with republicans…

Point out that the facts don’t back that lie up and that the big corporations know the party that will help them rake in the cash while giving them all those evil loopholes moonbats go bonkers over are the donkeys. Don’t expect the MSM regulars to say anything: they are usually too busy covering for the crooks in this administration, but the WSJ has the scoop.

General Electric Co. reported a 77% increase in first-quarter earnings, lifted by marked improvement at its GE Capital financing arm and gains at most of its industrial units. The company also boosted its quarterly dividend by a penny to 15 cents. The move marks GE’s third dividend increase in the past year, although the payout remains well short of GE’s 31-cent dividend from before the financial crisis and economic downturn.

“Our environment continues to improve and get better,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Jeff Immelt on a call with analysts, noting that the restructuring of GE Capital was ahead of plan while the quarter saw a record backlog of orders for its industrial products and services.

See that bolded section above? That’s corporate speak for “Them donkeys are helping rig the game so we can send jobs overseas, rake in big cash from both government subsides and sales, and avoid paying taxes in the US - which usually really means they avoid making their consumers pay taxes - while squashing anyone that could compete with us, and they do it for peanuts on the dollar”. Obama didn’t make Immelt a member of his Czar entourage for nothing. That billion dollars he wants to raise for the 2012 campaign is going to come from big unions and big corporations like GE, which love how the government helps them squash the competition - with the consumer losing out all the time - in return for cash. And GE isn’t the only one they do this for. They made the tax payers bail out the unions and turned General Motors into Government Motors for a reason. Now they want to sell off GM stock, at a big loss for the tax payers to boot. Maybe that move is so the GM execs can then start raking in big money and donate big money, right in time for the 2012 race, since when GM is no longer owned by the Obama Admin, it becomes free to hand out huge pay raises and bonuses to the GM execs again. I don’t buy the story that they are panic selling because it will be good for the tax payer.

The next time some moron tells you how the republicans are the party in bed with corporate America, remember and remind them that corporate America, those mega-billion dollar giant companies, are always friends with demcorats. That’s not a coincidence or a fluke, but precisely because those large corporations know, not just who is for sale and whom they can get to write laws that let them avoid taxes or competition, but that demcorats love the relationship between big government and big industry. It’s one of the mechanics behind the whole government planned economies bullshit you get in collectivists governments. Look how well it worked for the USSR.

Posted by AlexinCT on 04/21/11 at 08:42 AM in Decline of Western Civilization   Elections   Left Wing Idiocy   Politics   Law, & Economics   The Press Machine  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why Polls Mean Dick, Part 795

A number of Debt Deniers—hmm, it’s nice to thrown their own verbiage at them—are crowing about this poll:

Despite growing concerns about the country’s long-term fiscal problems and an intensifying debate in Washington about how to deal with them, Americans strongly oppose some of the major remedies under consideration, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey finds that Americans prefer to keep Medicare just the way it is. Most also oppose cuts in Medicaid and the defense budget. More than half say they are against small, across-the-board tax increases combined with modest reductions in Medicare and Social Security benefits. Only President Obama’s call to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans enjoys solid support.

78% oppose cutting Medicare.  69% oppose cutting Medicaid.  56% oppose cutting defense (you won’t hear the left talk about that one, however).  72% favor raising taxes on the successful.

A few things:

1) The critics are being very selective.  When you pair tax hike with cuts to entitlements, support rises to 45%.  This is why I think a grand bargain, a la Simpson-Bowles, will be the eventual resolution.

2) This is not really new information.  We’ve seen polls like this before that show the only spending cuts people really want is foreign aide.  We’ve also seen governors and nations cut spending drastically, become extremely unpopular in the immediate aftermath but then regain popularity when people realize the budget problem has been fixed.  The budget fixes of the 90’s weren’t popular either.

3) We are not a democracy.  Polls mean nothing.  Yes, I know the GOP cited polls in opposing Obamacare (and I dinged them for it then).  But the Left is living in a glass house.  They chose to ignore the polls last year on Obamacare.  Now polls suddenly mean everything.  It is always thus in politics: when polls support you, they’re intensely important; when they oppose you, they mean nothing.  I’ve always said polls mean nothing, because…

4) What this polls tells me is that many Americans are still in denial.  We simply can’t balance the budget without taking on entitlements.  Left unattended, Medicare and Medicaid will eventually consume 10-15% of the GDP by 2050, at least.  Social Security will consume another 10-15%.  Taxes will go up on everyone—and massively—to pay for that.  As for “taxing the rich”, raising taxes on the rich will not solve our debt problems, as we have demonstrated about a million times.  You would have to raise them to nearly 100% just to balance the budget today.  And that’s under a static assumption that thinks the rich will continue to work and earn money when the government is taking all the marginal income.  (Or under magical liberal thinking, were taking all the rich’s money mystically spurs the economy.) Even Obama’s own projections—with his fantasyland Medicare cost controls, tax hikes on the successful and a booming economy—still leaves us tens of trillions of dollars in the hole.  If you don’t believe me, believe him.  Even under the most optimistic liberal assumptions, the budget problem does not solve.

Of course, we could cut entitlement spending in other ways—such as eliminating the doc fix to Medicare and enforcing price controls on prescription drugs.  This will improve the financial situation ... by chasing doctors out of the Medicare system and making sure no new expensive medications hit the market.  This is assuming the government has the courage to enact such controls, a courage it has demonstrated ... um, never.  You could also believe—as many liberals do—in the magical power of government to deliver better healthcare for less money, this being a power it has a demonstrated ... um, never.

The only information contained in this poll is that 80% of American do not understand the nature of the problem we face.  That’s a massive fail by the GOP and our media.  We need more people playing with balanced budget calculators of any kind so that they can see firsthand what kind of challenges we face.  It also demonstrates the political risks the GOP are taking in attacking the debt issue in realistic terms.

But as for informing policy?  I’d sooner decide policy by sheep entrails.

Update: I want to put this as bluntly as a I can.  No one—no one who is serious about the debt is denying the need to control health care costs.  From the leftiest liberal to the rightiest conservative, all of the serious pundits and politicians know that entitlements are the problem.  They disagree about how to address this.  Liberals think that more government control will make the system more efficient.  Conservatives believe that market forces will bring costs down.  But fundamentally all serious players in this debate know where the money is.

If anyone cites this poll as a reason to oppose the GOP plan, you know that they are fundamentally unserious about the debt.  Because this poll reflects a mentality that is unserious about debt.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/20/11 at 01:51 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

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

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
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