March 19, 2009

Boehner Proves He Was Right to Throw the Stimulus Bill on the House Floor

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:35 pm

The House’s Republican leader should have flung it towards the nearest trash can.

Boehner asks some great questions:

Excerpts:

Mr. Speaker, my colleagues, I caught a little grief five weeks ago when we had the stimulus bill on the floor.  Remember the 1,100-page bill that no one had time to read and that no one did read?  Obviously the President didn’t have time to read it either because in that bill was this one sentence.  This one sentence that made it clear that someone knew that these AIG bonuses were about to be paid and they didn’t want them stopped.  So somehow in the dark of night this one sentence was added to the bill so that AIG would pay these bonuses to their executives.

“This language wasn’t in the House bill.  This language wasn’t in the Senate bill.  This language showed up in the dead of night and no one got to see it.  I’m wondering where did the language come from?  Who wrote it?  Who asked the conferees to put it in the bill?  What conferees on the part of the House agreed to this?  I’m looking for somebody to put their hand up.

“That’s the whole issue.  This political circus that’s going on here today with this bill is not getting to the bottom of the questions of who knew what and when did they know it.  Somebody was responsible to draw up this language.  Someone brought it to the conferees.  Someone brought it to the Democrat Leadership who wrote this bill in secret and put this language in there.  But we have no idea who it was.

That said, I totally disagree with the Boehner’s proposal to take 100% of the bonuses back, for three reasons:

  • One, a deal is a deal, and to the extent these bonuses were supported by contracts, changing them after the fact will introduce even more uncertainty into the economy about how solid any and all contracts are. That said, if the contractual language is as clear as I understand it is, bonuses should be retrieved from those AIG execs who contractually promised to stay and then, once the direct deposits were made, took the money and ran. Though obviously larger amounts are involved, this is is no different than forcing an employee inadvertently overpaid by a company’s payroll system to give back the amount mistakenly paid. My understanding is that an employee who tries to hang on to the money in this kind of situation can be criminally prosecuted for theft if they balk at repaying. Again, if the contractual language is ironclad, the AIG execs who took the money and ran also committed theft — very grand theft.
  • Second, retroactive targeted taxation of legally completed transactions under laws that existed at the time of those transactions is, or certainly should be, illegal.
  • Finally, as a political move, letting the bonuses stand — which I believe is the only legally defensible option anyway — would create ammunition opponents can use against any and all congressmen and senators who supported the stimulus monstrosity. Those who voted for the bill agreed to allow the AIG bonuses to be paid because they didn’t read the bill. This happened because they didn’t insist on having the time to read the bill. Plainly stated, they didn’t do the job they were elected to do, and they richly deserve to be stuck with the political consequences of that dereliction of duty. It is all on them. They shouldn’t be given cover, as Boehner is doing, by agreeing with the idea that pulling back any of the legally paid and keepable bonuses is okay. It isn’t.

I’d be willing to write off less than 0.02% of the stimulus package in return for having an easily understood Exhibit A demonstrating how utterly negligent the current congressional majority and administration are, and continue to be.

Documenting The POR Economy’s Damage

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:43 pm

My next Pajamas Media column will go up on Friday or Saturday (Update: It’s here).

I have put together two graphics that will be in it. Following up on a request from the sensible center-right blogosphere to chart the POR Economy through to its trough (we hope), I am showing the first one now:

MarketTroughBenchmarking030909

I’m using June 1, 2008 to approximate when The (POR Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy began.

The column will also have another graphic with more lookback detail that places the markets’ decline in historical perspective and considers inflation.

I’ll link to the column as soon as I learn of its appearance.

Further elaboration requires waiting until the column appears, but the above chart does a pretty good job of speaking for itself.

Those who think we should be impressed that the markets have bounced back should note that yesterday’s closes of 7487, 794 and 1491 for the Dow, S&P, and NASDAQ were still:

  • 47.1%, 49.3%, and 47.8% below their respective October 2007 highs. Given that October 2007 is the first month during which a Pelosi- Reid-passed budget was officially in place, it is fair to say that they deserve a significant share of the blame for the markets’ decline from that point forward.
  • 40.8%, 43.3%, and 40.9% below their respective closes on May 30, just before The POR Economy began. For reasons discussed when I made the call in early July, Pelosi, Obama, Reid, and their handiwork get the overwhelming share of the blame for the declines in the indices since then.

As to the last 10 days: Relieved? Yes. Impressed? No Nyet.

Lucid Links (031909)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 10:12 am

Noteworthy Net-Worthies, from a seemingly bottomless well:

President ‘Prompter’s prompter prompted Prime Minister Brian Cowen of Ireland to precisely parrot President ‘Prompter’s previously ‘Prompted press pronouncement.

PC Police are purging Patrick from St. Patrick’s Day by shamefully shilling it as Shamrock Day (HT Tim Graham at NewsBusters). Primary Patrick-purging perps include the Disney Channel, card shops, and a children’s museum in California.

Israel is really a problem for Charles Freeman, who railed against the “Israeli lobby” upon realizing that he is really not going to be chairman of President Obama’s National Intelligence Council.

From the Words Fail Dept., out of CNN — “Senate Banking committee Chairman Christopher Dodd told CNN Wednesday that he was responsible for language added to the federal stimulus bill to make sure that already-existing contracts for bonuses at companies receiving federal bailout money were honored.” This is after he spent Tuesday wailing about AIG’s bonuses.

From the “We Want This?” Dept., via AFP at Breitbart — “Britain apologises for ‘Third World’ hospital.” The people who should read the whole thing are those who believe that further socializing/nationalizing health care will have positive effects. Some key phrases found: “patients drinking out of flower vases”; “patients wandering around the hospital and patients fighting”; “screaming out in pain because you just could not get pain relief”; “400 and 1,200 more people died than would have been expected in a three-year period.”

Totally predictable — “The firestorm over bonuses paid by insurance giant American International Group has triggered alarm at other financial firms, threatening federal efforts to draw private investors into economic recovery programs.”

In case you missed it — “The Debt Star: This Is Not the Hope You Were Looking For.”

From the Further Comment Unnecessary Dept. — “The speaker of the House told a group of both legal and illegal immigrants recently that enforcement of immigration laws in the United States is ‘un-American.’”

Little-known point relating to the previous item, from NPR in 2006 — “According to a recent study, 45 percent of illegal immigrants came here on a legal visa, and then overstayed that visa.” Nancy Pelosi must be pleased as punch that we’re not enforcing the law against millions.

From last weekend, out of the “When Did ‘New’ Get Redefined to ‘Two-Plus Years Old’?” file — “Obama’s New Tack: Blaming Bush.”

Positivity: Man Stresses Importance of CPR Training After it Saved His Life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Omaha, Nebraska:

Posted: March 15, 2009 08:05 PM
Updated: March 15, 2009 08:05 PM

66-year-old Pat Dugan now knows life is too short. Last December, he was playing racquetball with his son Matt at an Omaha YMCA when his heart went into cardiac arrest, and he fell to the floor.

“We had just got started, and the lights went out,” said Pat Dugan. He had no pulse, so his son attempted CPR. “I did take CPR in 8th grade and then at college, so I somewhat knew what to do,” said Matt Dugan. But it wasn’t enough, so Matt called for help. “We’re prepared to deal with it, but it’s not a weekly or monthly deal,” said Deb Munger, YMCA Aquatics Director.

The YMCA staff quickly brought out a defibrillator to shock Pat’s heart, and had him breathing by the time Omaha firefighters arrived on scene. “Because of her training, and the people here at the YMCA, he’s alive today,” said Omaha fire Cpt. Steve Vonderharr. “You just appreciate people that do things they don’t have to do,” said Pat.

Nine years ago, the same thing happened to Pat’s brother, Mike. Except he was working out at home, and nobody was around to give him CPR. “If somebody was there, they could have saved his life,” said Pat. Now, Pat is on a mission to share his story, and stress the importance of CPR certification. “It’s a short class, very interesting, and you feel good when you leave it because you know you can do it,” said Pat. ….

Go here for the rest of the story.