January 11, 2008

Big US Budget News Stuck in the Biz Pages: Spending Is Way Up

The Treasury Department released its Monthly Treasury Statement for December this afternoon.

Though Uncle Sam did run a surplus last month, the year-to-date figures are alarming:

UStreasRecsDisbs1207

It should be pretty clear that the big news in the above figures is that federal spending during the first quarter of the fiscal year was almost 9% higher than during the first quarter a year ago. If the spending increase had been held to only 5%, this fiscal year’s quarterly deficit would have come in virtually the same as last year’s.

Yet it took these publications the following number of paragraphs to get to the year-to-date spending news:

  • Wall Street Journal (requires paid subscription) — eighth paragraph.
  • Reuters — seventh paragraph, though it did note in the first paragraph that the deficit had widened, and in the second paragraph that “slower growth in receipts failed to keep up with higher spending.”
  • Associated Press — fourth paragraph.
  • MarketWatch (requires free subscription) — fourth paragraph. Reporter Robert Schroeder reported that “December is typically a deficit month,” even though the government has shown a December surplus in seven of the ten years prior to 2007 (2006, 2005, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, and 1997).
  • Thomson Financial at Forbes.com — eighth paragraph.

For those who are wondering, most of the roughly $58 billion spending increase came from higher interest on federal debt ($15.3 billion), higher military spending ($13.9 billion, probably reflecting higher troop levels in Iraq than a year ago), the Social Security Administration ($12.3 billion), and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs ($5.0 billion).

The decent collections results show that the supply-side tax cuts of 2003 still have some receipt-generating steam left in them. Given the investment disincentives that will only grow as 2010 approaches (because income tax rates are scheduled to increase significantly in 2010 without congressional action), it’s reasonable to wonder how much longer the improvement in receipts will continue.

The downplay of the spending aspect of the fiscal year results thus far by the business press virtually assures that it won’t get picked up in general news stories, and that the general public will therefore not be aware of it. This will enable presidential candidates to tout new and/or expanded government programs without having to answer difficult questions about what they would do about where spending is already heading.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Cleveland (Leaders Dumber Than a Box of) Rocks

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:13 pm

Commenter 69bronco says it best about this (“Cleveland sues 21 banks over subprime mess”):

Cleveland is stuck in some sort of parallel universe that I can’t understand.

This is unassisted municipal suicide.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (011108)

Filed under: Health Care,Immigration,Scams,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:42 am

Really bad news for the Economic Left (except on illegal immigration – ugh) — The Wall Street Journal is making all of its editorials available for free at this new address.

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John Fund asks, “How can anyone object to asking for ID” at the voting booth?

It appears that the Supreme Court, which heard a case over Indiana’s ID-requirement law earlier this week, is sympathetic to upholding it, based on the justices’ general lines of questioning.

In a “totally unrelated” development — “Voter cited by opponents of Indiana’s ID law registered in two states.”

The obvious attempts to game the system by those who oppose voter ID and other reasonable verification and control measures explain why I’ve been saying that voting, with only rare exceptions allowed for absentee balloting, has to take place in person, and only on Election Day. Open-ended “early balloting,” especially by mail, is an open invitation to large-scale voter fraud.

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Ann Coulter’s dad recently died. Here is her outstanding tribute to him.

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Fred Thompson, who did really, really, really, really well in last night’s GOP debate, is the fave in a Right Wing News Temperature Check” of center-right blogs.

Obviously, further education is in order, because, if Fred isn’t in the race, Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney is the center-right fallback.

Start here, guys and gals.

Positivity: Adopted son finds birth mom at his workplace

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Grand Rapids, Michigan (HT Good News Blog):

December 18, 2007 20:39PM

For years, Steve Flaig, a delivery truck driver at the Lowe’s store on Plainfield Avenue, had searched for his birth mother.

He found her working the cash register at the front of the store.

For several months, he and Christine Tallady had known each other casually as co-workers. Last Friday they met for the first time as mother and son.

“I have a complete family now, all my kids,” said Tallady, who has two younger children. “It’s a perfect time of year. It’s the best Christmas present ever.”

For Flaig, it was the reunion he had dreamed of for much of his 22 years. He had always known he was adopted, and his parents, Pat and Lois Flaig, who raised him since his birth, supported his decision to search for his birth mother.

It was a tough decision for Tallady, unmarried at the time, to give him up when he was born on Oct. 5, 1985, but “I wasn’t ready to be a mother,” she said.

She left the adoption record open, figuring he might want to contact her someday, and she often thought of him, particularly on his birthday. But life went on. She got married, had two more kids.

Four years ago, when Flaig turned 18, he asked DA Blodgett for Children, the agency that arranged his adoption, for his background information. A couple of months later, it came, including his birth mother’s name.

He searched the Internet for her address and came up empty. In October, around the time of his 22nd birthday, he took out the paperwork from DA Blodgett and realized he had been spelling his mother’s surname wrong as “Talladay.” He typed “Tallady” into a search engine and came up with an address on West River Drive less than a mile from the Lowe’s store.

He mentioned it to his boss, and she said, “You mean Chris Tallady, who works here?” He was stunned.

“I was like, there’s no possible way,” he said. “It’s just such a bizarre situation.”

He had been working at Lowe’s for two years. She was hired in April as head cashier.

Over the past two months, “I would walk by her, look at her from a distance, not knowing how to approach her,” Flaig said. “You don’t come stocked with information on how to deal with this.” …..

Go here for the rest of the story.