March 18, 2009

Another Typical Government Cost Overrun ….

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:43 pm

…. and it isn’t even law yet:

Health care overhaul cost may reach $1.5 trillion

Your lungs may work just fine, but the estimated price for universal health care could take your breath away. Health policy experts say guaranteeing coverage for all Americans may cost about $1.5 trillion over the next decade. That would be more than double the $634 billion ‘down payment’ President Barack Obama set aside for health reform in his budget.

It’s only the beginning if they get their way. And there will be rationing nonetheless, as there already is in Massachusetts.

________________________________________

UPDATE: Separately but typically, the damage estimate on cap-and-trade carbon taxation (all to bow down to what is one of the biggest hoaxes in human history) is really triple what’s advertised

President Obama’s climate plan could cost industry close to $2 trillion, nearly three times the White House’s initial estimate of the so-called “cap-and-trade” legislation, according to Senate staffers who were briefed by the White House.

A top economic aide to Mr. Obama told a group of Senate staffers last month that the president’s climate-change plan would surely raise more than the $646 billion over eight years the White House had estimated publicly, according to multiple a number of staffers who attended the briefing Feb. 26.

“We all looked at each other like, ‘Wow, that’s a big number,’” said a top Republican staffer who attended the meeting along with between 50 and 60 other Democratic and Republican congressional aides.

All of this assumes that anyone will feel like producing anything under this onerous regimen.

AIG: Misdirection 101

Bob Owens (HT Michelle Malkin) suggests some perspective, and an appropriate focus for righteous indignation (bold is mine; link was in original):

Barack Obama’s lack of leadership in a down economy has now hit crisis proportions, as his claimed inability to block millions of dollars in bonuses for executives of bailout recipient AIG has caused even his supporters to turn on him (Note: Tim Geithner said that he’s taking it out of the company’s hide; see this post from early this morning for details and implications. — Ed).

But while the ire of Congress and the media focus are on the $165 million that AIG paid out in bonuses to their executives, the president is hoping you won’t notice the $100 billion in taxpayer bailout dollars that AIG paid out to other banks, including $58 billion to foreign banks and $36 billion given to French and German banks alone.

The Obama administration is allowing AIG to bail out the rest of the world with your tax dollars.

So by all means, the president is happy to have you railing at “evil” but relatively small potatoes AIG executive bonuses, as it points your outrage away from his own far more costly executive abuses.

Meanwhile, CNBC’s Rick “Tea Party” Santelli gave proper instruction on the relative importance of certain letters:

From a report on Santelli’s appearance by the Business & Media Institute:

“Now think about it this way – maybe I’m missing something, but the outrage seems to be about ‘M’s – millions of dollars, right? Hundred and sixty five dollars, OK?” Santelli said, as he drew a large capital “M” on a sheet of paper. “I would think that it should be looked at as a pretty big positive because when you go from the ‘M,’ maybe you should try to go to the ‘B’s – which is the billions of dollars. And maybe that’s going to even enlighten for the ‘T’ – trillions of dollars.”

“Squawk Box” co-host Becky Quick suggested the outrage wasn’t over the $165 million amount, but the “rewarding of bad behavior.” Yet, Santelli thought the bonus issue was being used to resonate with the average American, instead of attempting to examine the much larger pools of money.

“Don’t you think that this dynamic – the average guy reading his newspaper – is really starting to be in-tune with this?” Santelli said. “And, I think bonuses really strike a chord as to the dynamic you’re talking about. But there’s many degrees of intensity if one really wants to shine the light on the money that’s being scrutinized. You know, there’s ‘M’s, there’s ‘B’s, and then there’s ‘T’s.

The federal government alone spends more than twice as much as those AIG bonuses every hour, every day, 24-7-365. In fact, under Obama’s new budget, it will only take Uncle Sam 24 minutes and 6 seconds to spend that much:

ObamaBudgetPerHour0309

Where’s the (properly placed) outrage?

Positivity: Two passing motorists rescue disabled man from burning car in Brighton Township

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Livingston County, Michigan:

Friday March 13, 2009, 2:14 PM

Police are praising the actions of two men who may have saved the life of a disabled Fenton man after his minivan caught fire on busy US-23 near I-96 just outside Brighton Friday morning.

Edward Gren, 40, of Livingston County’s Parshallville, and another motorist who hasn’t been identified, helped save 50-year-old Kevin Conkey of Fenton from a fire that engulfed his vehicle, said State Police Sgt. Mark Thompson of the Brighton post.

“They not only alerted him to the fire, but stuck around and rendered aid, which is what any good citizen should do,” Thompson said.

It happened in the southbound lanes of US-23 in Brighton Township at about 6:15 a.m.

Gren was driving behind Conkey’s vehicle when he noticed flames and smoke coming from the undercarriage near the gas tank, so he sped up to alert him, Trooper Karla Aguzzi said.

After Conkey pulled to the shoulder of the road, Gren also pulled over – a decision that may have saved Conkey’s life, police said. Conkey, who is paralyzed from the waist down, likely wouldn’t have been able to safely escape his vehicle or get to his wheelchair in the trunk, police said.

“I was panicking, I would’ve fallen out at the level of the flames, and (Gren) pulled me out,” Conkey said.

Gren said: “(Conkey) said ‘I can’t move my legs.’ He grabbed me around the neck and I scooted him out and took him onto the embankment.”

After he moved Conkey, Gren went back for his wheelchair and even returned a third time for a box of Conkey’s personal effects.

“I think (Gren) is a true hero,” Conkey said.

But Gren called Conkey the hero.

“He’s kind of a hero himself, when you consider what he’s been through, his condition,” Gren said. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

Porkopolis’s Catch of the Week: Sherrod Brown Cast the Deciding Vote for Allowing AIG Bonuses He Now Opposes (Bigger Point: Geithner Acts As De Facto Financial Dictator)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:51 am

Sherrod Brown’s Bluster:

March 17, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy, today called on American International Group (AIG) Chairman and CEO Edward Liddy to immediately renegotiate contacts to prevent $165 million in bonus payments to AIG executives.

“AIG’s actions are a slap-in-the-face to hardworking Ohio families,” said Brown. “Bonuses at companies like AIG—companies relying on taxpayer funds to stay afloat—are an outrage. I hope AIG executives voluntarily return these bonuses. If they don’t, I will push to have them recouped through the U.S. tax code.” …..

Brown first condemned AIG’s proposed bonus payments on November 14, 2008.

“Paying out hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses to the employees of a company that is essentially insolvent smacks of greed, arrogance, and worse,” Brown continued in his statement.  “We shouldn’t be financing one dime of bonuses for AIG employees whose actions took the form of reckless endangerment.”

(Aside — “Hundreds of millions” means “$200 million or more.” Brown can’t count to two. This puts him in an even worse position than Barack Obama, who can’t count to 50, and Joe Biden, who can’t count past three.)

Wait. A. Minute.

Tax Cheat Tim Geithner was one of the guys who thought it was okey-dokey to throw money at AIG, apparently without conditions:

Geithner worked with Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke on the government-engineered sale of Bear Stearns Cos., the bailout of American International Group Inc. and the decision not to prop up Lehman Bros. Holdings Inc.

In the real world, the above means that Geithner did the detail work.

Prudent lenders write bonus caps into loan agreements. Apparently Tax Cheat Tim didn’t. Now, under instructions from Dear Leader “to use the government’s leverage to pursue ways to ‘block these bonuses,’” Geithner has said that he is going to take the bonuses back from the company, but not (yet) from the individuals who may have collected these bonuses.

But here’s the sad part: While we haven’t been paying enough attention, AIG has been nationalized anyway, since Uncle Sam “now holds a(n) 80 percent stake in the company.” The left pocket (actually, the far-left pocket) is in essence collecting from the right pocket.

Please, please, note that Geithner can make his bonus pullback stick NOT because he can do so under the government’s lending and/or investment contracts with AIG (if there even ARE any), but ONLY because he has the awesome powers (oh, excuse me, “leverage”) of Uncle Sam to cover for his incompetence. Who would dare oppose this takeback? Tax Cheat Tim is also Tyrant Tim.

Now let’s get back to the normally invisible Sherrod Brown, who SOBer Porkopolis notes has been thoroughly busted:

(Brown is the same Senator who) was shuttled back to Washington D.C. by Obama on a White House provided plane to cast the deciding vote on the Spending Stimulus Bill.

It was Brown’s vote that put into law the provision guaranteeing the payments (emphasis added):

(iii) The prohibition required under clause (i) shall not be construed to prohibit any bonus payment required to be paid pursuant to a written employment contract executed on or before February 11, 2009, as such valid employment contracts are determined by the Secretary or the designee of the Secretary.

Y’know Senator, if you would have read the bill before your vote, you would have caught this. Your histrionics after you voted into law bonuses you condemned only shine a bright light your proactive refusal to do the job Ohioans elected you to do, which requires at an absolute minimum a working knowledge of legislation you support.

The mislabeled “stimulus” package is law because of Sherrod Brown’s deciding vote. If he didn’t have time to read and understand the bill, he should have demanded more time, or voted against it on principle. He didn’t. He just waved it through.

Five words of advice, Senator: Own up, or shut up.

Positivity: Man says waitstaff saved his life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 12:14 am

From Abilene, Texas:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The last thing Walter Wheat remembers from the night of Feb. 21 is getting up to leave Abuelo’s Mexican Food Embassy.

He didn’t make it far.

He passed out.

Wheat wasn’t lightheaded or having a heart attack. He was suffering an abdominal aortic aneurysm. The aorta — the main vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body — ruptured.

What saved his life, he and his wife, Dorris, are convinced, were three Abuelo’s employees who performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him until emergency responders arrived.

The former city councilman is quick to call those three employees — Jessica Shafer Grant, Courtney Henry and Jeff Womble — heroes. He knows he’s lucky to be alive — the survival rate for this type of aneurysm is about 20 percent.

“God was on my side,” said Wheat, who was in the hospital until March 2. “He told me, ‘I’m not finished with you,’ and I hope I don’t let him down.”

Walking by from waiting tables in a different section of the busy restaurant, Grant began CPR when she was told Wheat had no pulse.

“Nobody else was really doing anything, they were kind of scared,” Grant said. “I said I can do mouth-to-mouth.”

Henry started doing chest compressions, and Womble took over for her.

Grant, who works as a full-time dental assistant for Dr. Robert Hawley, knows CPR but had never had to use it. She thought her actions were not helping.

“That feeling, whenever my mouth was over his, it really felt like his soul was leaving his body,” Grant said. “When he started breathing I was just amazed by it.”

Grant rolled Wheat onto his side until emergency medical personnel arrived. After Wheat was taken to Hendrick Medical Center, Grant returned to her table. They had asked for more tortillas, a drink and something else she couldn’t remember.

“They were like, ‘Really? You just saved this guy’s life and you’re worried about us?’” Grant said. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.