July 13, 2010

IBD Op-Ed Wonders Where Social Security/Medicare Trustees’ Report Is; Rest of Media Doesn’t

SocSecBrokeCard0309Once again, it’s clear that reading editorials and op-eds at publications like the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily becomes a requirement to be truly informed when a Democratic administration in power.

On July 6, Peter Ferrara at IBD noted that the annual report from the trustees of the Social Security and Medicare system is long overdue, and wondered why:

Are Overdue Reports Concealing ObamaCare Impact On Medicare?

Every year, the Annual Report of the Social Security Board of Trustees comes out between mid-April and mid-May. Now it’s July, and there’s no sign of this year’s report. What is the Obama administration hiding?

The annual report includes detailed information about Social Security and its financing over the next 75 years, produced by the Office of the Actuary of the Social Security Administration.

The Congressional Budget Office reported last week in its Long Term Budget Outlook that Social Security was already running a deficit this year. According to last year’s Social Security Trustees Report, that was not supposed to happen until 2015, with the trust fund to run out completely by 2037.

With the disastrous Obama economy, the great Social Security surplus that started in the Reagan administration is gone completely.

Every year, the federal government has been raiding the Social Security trust funds to take that annual surplus and spend it on the rest of the federal government’s runaway spending, leaving the trust funds only with IOUs backed by nothing but politicians’ promise to pay it back when it’s needed. Now even that annual surplus is gone. How soon will the trust funds run out completely now?

(But) The implications for Social Security aren’t what the Obama administration is hiding by delaying the annual trustees reports. Those annual reports also include information regarding Medicare over the next 75 years. What the administration is trying to hide are sweeping draconian cuts to Medicare resulting from the ObamaCare legislation, which the annual report will document.

The administration is trying to delay the report until mid-August, when it’s hoping the country will be on vacation and won’t notice. Or maybe the delay is because the White House is trying to bludgeon the chief actuaries for Medicare and Social Security into fudging the numbers.

The Social Security “IOUs backed by nothing but politicians’ promise to pay it back when it’s needed” are from a government that itself has well over $10 trillion dollars in other debt, before counting Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and a host of other off-the-books liabilities. Then there are the additional tens of trillions in actuarial liabilities.

Ferrara didn’t note that the administration announced a delay until June 30 back on April 5, “so that the new report can reflect the impact of the recently passed health care overhaul.” But they’re now almost two weeks late. What are they waiting for? A really, really busy news day? A Friday night midsummer doc dump?

Meanwhile, no one in the rest of the press appears to be the least bit curious.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

‘This Is One Insult Too Far’

Yes, it is (direct YouTube link):

Yours truly can’t stay up with all things all the time, but the offensive plan to build a mosque on the site of one of the buildings collaterally damaged in the 9/11 attacks demands notice, so that anyone who might be in a position to help stop this will be aware, and can act. The building to be torn down is one preservationists once wanted to save. Now they now they have “somehow” lost interest in the idea.

Hats off to the heroic Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs for taking up the cause (her latest related posts are here, here, here, and here; her complete archive on the topic is here).

Hats off to Pamela and all who organized and attended the “Stop the $100 Million Mega Mosque” rally (my name for it) on June 6 in Lower Manhattan — an event that the establishment press either totally ignored or downplayed to an insulting level. Two examples:

  • You’ll see from this New York Times search that the Old Gray Lady didn’t cover the protest or anything else related to the Ground Zero mosque between June 3 and July 12, when Rep. Peter King started asking questions about its propriety.
  • This CNN iReport claimed that only a few hundred attended, when anyone looking at the pictures below will see that the numbers were clearly in the thousands).

Oh, and thanks to my Chicagoland newswatcher, who finds things I’ll never otherwise find, who e-mailed me the photos of the “few hundred” that follow (click on each image for a larger view):

StopMegaMosque1 StopMegaMosque2 StopMegaMosque3 StopMegaMosque4

StopMegaMosque5 StopMegaMosque6 StopMegaMosque7 StopMegaMosque8

Lickety-Split Links (071310, Noontime)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 11:41 am

“Recovery Summer” Watch — Small business isn’t buying what the administration is selling, because its customers aren’t buying enough of what small businesses are trying to sell:

Small businesses grew more pessimistic about their economic outlook in June in the face of weak sales and political uncertainty, the National Federal of Independent Businesses said on Tuesday.

… “The performance of the economy is mediocre at best, given the extent of the decline over the past two years,” the NFIB survey concluded. “Pent-up demand should be immense, but it is not triggering a rapid pickup in economic activity.”

Very few small businesses plan to create new jobs, according to respondents. The survey showed that only 10 percent of firms plan new hiring, that is down 4 points from May, the NFIB said. About 8 percent of firms plan to reduce their workforce, up one point from the previous month, the group said.

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Recovery Summer Watch II – Clear thinker Michael Barone on what consumers are doing in the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy:

Obama economy sends Americans to their mattresses

… I call it the mattress economy.

People seem to be following this investment strategy. Step one: Go to Mattress Discounters and buy the biggest mattress you can find. Step two: Take it home and stuff all your money in it. Step three: Lie down and get some rest.

This hurts the economy, but it’s a rational response to the Obama Democrats’ public policies.

It almost makes you wonder if there’s a baby boom on the way. :–> Although it wouldn’t really help for a couple of decades, Social Security and Medicare could use one.

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If the Republicans somehow pull off the feat of achieving a Senate majority, the party should give serious consideration to naming Tom Coburn its majority leader. That would make too much sense, so I don’t expect it.

Although I don’t agree with 100% of what he says in this interview (HT Instapundit), the clear articulation of his view exemplifies why he would be such a good fit.

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Institutionalized Gangster Government Watch (original column here) — The Obama administration apparently doesn’t care that its drilling moratorium has now been slapped down twice in court. Instead it has, as it promised after its first court loss, created a fresh new ban that apparently requires a fresh new legal action to be stopped.

This is what authoritarians who don’t respect the legal process and rule of law do.

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The myth of “The Population Bomb” is hopefully beginning its long-deserved journey to the ash heap of history.

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A WaPo-ABC poll says (HT Hot Air), among other things, that “nearly six in 10 voters (i.e., nearly 60%) say they lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country.”

(My opinion) About 15% know he isn’t making the right decisions for the country, and are perfectly satisfied with that, because they believe, as does the president, his 20-year preacher (until he was thrown under the bus, sort of), and so many of his other associates, that America deserves a comeuppance, and that they’re just the ones to deliver it.

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Leftists love to call conservatives “mean-spirited.” I’ll show you mean-spirited.

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Here’s a three-word suggestion to Newt Gingrich, whosaid Monday he’s seriously considering seeking the Republican presidential nomination and will announce his decision early next year”: Please, please, don’t.

Michelle Malkin nuked Newt in October of last year, and examined the “baggage” in 2007.

I share her one-word reax to the possibility of a Newt nomination: “Gag.”

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Yeah, this move (“NAACP To Condemn Tea Party For Racism”) (HT Sister Toldjah via Dan Riehl) is disgusting, and it does “rise to the level of evil.”

The assertion is obviously, obviously, obviously false. And they have to know it.

Related: So now there’s racism in Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert’s reaction to LeBron James’s departure? Careful now, Jesse, Cavs’ fans of all colors are as angry at James as they’ve been at anyone since Art Modell. Are they all racists too?

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Speaking of obvious things, it’s been about a year since Al Franken, the illegitimately elected Senator from Minnesota, stole his U.S. Senate seat (second item at link).

This (“Felons Voting Illegally May Have Put Franken Over the Top in Minnesota”) is merely further confirmation.

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Yeah, there’s been some reaction to this (“Most Transparent Administration Ever Makes Effective Reporting from Gulf a Felony,” “punishable by a fine of up to $40,000″) in the establishment press. But if Bush 43 had done it, the news would have led all three evening newscasts and made every front page in America.

Positivity: Brooklyn diocese opens sainthood cause for priest who fought bigotry

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 9:19 am

From Brooklyn, New York:

Jul 13, 2010 / 06:14 am

The Diocese of Brooklyn has officially opened the Cause of Canonization for Msgr. Bernard J. Quinn, a 20th century priest known for fighting bigotry and reaching out to the community’s African American population.

Born in Newark in 1888, Msgr. Quinn later realized as a young priest that African American Catholics were being neglected in his diocese and sought the permission of the local bishop to begin as “apostolate to Blacks.”

After serving as an army chaplain in France during WWI, Msgr. Quinn returned and with diocesan support bought a former Protestant church in Brooklyn. The church was blessed and dedicated to St. Peter Claver on February 26, 1922.

In an effort to help children orphaned by the Great Depression, Msgr. Quinn also began Little Flower Children Services. He publicly opposed the Klu Klux Klan when they allegedly burned the orphanage to the ground on two separate occasions.

According to the Diocese of Brooklyn, when the priest died at the age of 52 in 1940, over 8,000 people attended his funeral.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, the current Bishop of Brooklyn, recognized the saintly witness of Msgr. Quinn, and on June 24, 2010, he officially opened the diocesan phase of the cause for the canonization of the much-loved priest, during a Vespers service at St. Peter Claver parish.

“Almighty God blessed the Diocese of Brooklyn by sending Father Quinn to minister among us,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “That ministry did not end upon his death but has continued to grow and take root in the hearts and souls of the faithful and clergy of this church in New York, which has continually ministered to the poor and oppressed.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

Japanese Voters Reject Ruling Party and Doubling ‘VAT Tax’; AP Calls It a ‘Sales Tax,’ Ignores U.S. Implications

http://i739.photobucket.com/albums/xx40/mmatters/JapanesePMKan0710An outraged electorate has just handed Japan’s ruling party its hat in elections for half of the seats in the upper house of that country’s parliament in a direct reversal of election results from a year ago. Opposition parties made major gains.

The results constitute a resounding rejection of a massive value-added tax increase proposed by a guy whose immediate predecessor of the same party sounded an awful lot like the U.S. President Barack Obama when he led his party to a historic victory a year ago. But, as will be shown later, you wouldn’t know that from reading the Associated Press’s coverage of Sunday’s returns.

But first, a bit of background: The 2010 version of Naoto Kan (pictured at top right in an AP photo) is round two of an attempt by the country’s Democratic Party (no direct relation that I know of, but philosophically they’re nearly clones) to “remake” the island nation. If that sounds depressingly familiar, it should. The parallels of Kan’s same-party predecessor’s victory to Barack Obama’s 2008 electoral win are eerie, as this August 2009 election night report from Eric Talmadge the Associated Press will demonstrate (bolds are mine):

Japan opposition wins landslide victory
Vote seen as a barometer of frustrations over high unemployment, falling exports

Japan’s opposition swept to a historic victory in elections Sunday, crushing the ruling conservative party that has run the country for most of the postwar era and assuming the daunting task of pulling the economy out of its worst slump since World War II.

A grim-looking Prime Minister Taro Aso conceded defeat just a couple hours after polls had closed, suggesting he would quit as president of the Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled Japan for all but 11 months since 1955.

“The results are very severe,” Aso said. “There has been a deep dissatisfaction with our party.”

Unemployment and deflation – and an aging, shrinking population – have left families fearful of what the future holds.

Fed up with the LDP, voters turned overwhelmingly to the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, which ran a populist-leaning platform with plans for cash handouts to families with children and expanding the social safety net.

The Democrats’ plan to give families 26,000 yen, or $275 (U.S.), a month per child through junior high is meant to ease parenting costs and encourage more women to have babies. Japan’s population of 127.6 million peaked in 2006, and is expected to fall below 100 million by the middle of the century.

The Democrats are also proposing toll-free highways, free high schools, income support for farmers, monthly allowances for job seekers in training, a higher minimum wage and tax cuts. The estimated bill comes to 16.8 trillion yen ($179 billion) if fully implemented starting in fiscal year 2013 – and critics say that will only further bloat Japan’s already massive public debt.

Adjusted for relative population size, the stated $179 billion amount would be the equivalent of about $435 billion in the U.S. That may not seem like much compared to the Obama and the Democrats’ $800 billion-plus “stimulus” of last year, but keep in mind that Japan spent the better part of the 1990s trying to make government stimulus work with little success. Also note that Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), as the author of the Lost Decade’s stimulus, has hardly been deserving of the “conservative” label the AP’s Talmadge applied to it.

Of course, after Japan’s Democrats came to power, they had to deal with the annoying question of how to close the obvious budget deficits they were building. Their answer, as has all too often been the case with U.S. Democrats, was to raise taxes, despite the tax-cut pledge cited in Talmadge’s AP report.

In a Monday story, the AP’s Jay Alabaster gave readers many of the details on how that idea was received by voters, but left out a really, really important one:

Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/tom-blumer/2010/07/13/japanese-voters-reject-ruling-party-and-doubling-vat-tax-ap-calls-it-sal#ixzz0tXSbVs8q

Japan braces for gridlock after ruling party loss

Japan’s ruling party faced the prospect of political gridlock Monday after an election setback that could undermine its attempts to reduce a ballooning budget deficit and revive growth in the world’s second-largest economy.

Half of the 242 seats in the upper house of parliament were up for grabs Sunday. The ruling Democratic Party of Japan won only 44 seats – far below its stated goal of 54 – while opposition parties made major gains.

That leaves the Democrats and their tiny coalition partner with 110 seats, well below their majority of 122 before the vote. The conservative Liberal Democratic Party won 51 seats, bringing its total to 84.

… the results are a dramatic contrast to the Democrats’ landslide victory just a year ago, when they seized control of parliament and ended the rival Liberal Democrats nearly unbroken 55-year rule.

Losing the majority in the upper house will make it more difficult for the Democrats to move ahead on their agenda, which includes cutting wasteful spending, making government more open and creating a solid social security system for a rapidly aging and shrinking population.

… In office just a month, Kan has warned that Japan’s finances could face a Greece-like meltdown if it doesn’t cut back on soaring debt – twice the country’s GDP – and suggested raising the sales tax as a solution.

But voters, already suffering from the economic downturn, rejected that idea.

Kan acknowledged defeat early Monday morning, saying he failed to fully explain his proposal to raise the sales tax from 5 percent to as much as 10 percent in coming years.

Kan, a former finance minister with roots in grass-roots activism, enjoyed support ratings of more than 60 percent when he took office in early June.

“Sales tax”? What is this “sales tax”?

It turns out that Alabaster was really referring to a de facto value-added tax, as shown here in this description of Japan’s tax structure:

Japan Consumption Tax

The tax is similar to value added tax and is, in fact, imposed on most sales and services provided in Japan and on imports. A taxpayer may offset the consumption tax paid on expenses against the tax he has to pay on his income. Consumption tax is 5%. Companies whose sales per year are less than 10 million yen are tax exempt.

Imagine that. Yes Virginia, the “consumption tax” is effectively a VAT tax, as it is imposed on “consumption” by both individuals and companies. Every time “consumption” occurs, i.e., at every stage of production and distribution, the tax kicks in. The 10 million yen exemption is the U.S. equivalent of about $114,000, meaning that only very small businesses are exempt.

It seems that the AP and Mr. Alabaster didn’t want to give their U.S. audience the impression that voters elsewhere have rejected a steep increase in VAT taxes. Why, accurate and responsible reporting might have made American readers more resistant to allowing this dangerous idea to get started. Apparently, Alabaster and the AP want to see a VAT tax come to pass in the U.S. so badly that they are willing to blatantly misrepresent events overseas in the name of that cause.

Beyond the self-evident deception just described, if what has just transpired in Japan’s elections had taken place at the expense of a conservative government trying to cut taxes while a conservative or Republican president occupying the Oval Office was trying to do the same thing, we would never have heard the end of it. As it is, you can virtually take it to the bank that the establishment press will fail to identify the obvious comparison between what Japanese voters have rejected to what the Obama administration both is doing (letting the Bush tax cuts expire, an action I like to refer to as “repealing the tax system that grew the economy for almost six years”), and wants to do more of, including the VAT tax.

Raising taxes in a debt-drenched nation during a flat or allegedly recovering economy, in addition to being economically dumb, is an electoral loser. What part of “no” don’t these people understand?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.