March 7, 2011

CBO Estimates Highest Single-Month Spending and Deficit Ever

The call at the Washington Times is a bit premature, but the subheadline is dead-on:

U.S. sets $223B deficit record; Dwarfs Hill’s cutting goals.

The current record for worst monthly deficit is $220.909 billion in February 2010.

Here’s the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate, which is NOT the final word:

CBOdeficitEstimate0211

The February deficit amount won’t be official until the Monthly Treasury Statement comes out on Thursday afternoon, and the numbers could change by enough for the Times to be wrong.

Nonetheless, 20 months after the end of a recession, these observations are germane:

  • The lack of significant growth in receipts is disappointing (8% year-to-date; some of that may be due to receipts from Ben Bernanke’s quantitative easing efforts, thus not reflecting a pickup in economic activity).
  • Spending remains ridiculously high. If CBO’s $333 billion estimate for the past month is correct, it will be an all-time single-month record. If it’s not, it’s still ridiculously high.

But Goldman Sachs, Ben Bernanke and the Associated Press all agree that you don’t dare cut spending at the federal, state, or local level, because if you do, economic growth will stall.

Blast From the Past: Backdoor 2011 Porker Moran (D-Va.) Used Expletive in 2006 Boast Over His Earmarking Intentions

Democratic Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia caused a bit of a stir last week when he said on CSPAN’s Washington Journal program that, as paraphrased by Daniel Strauss at The Hill, “lawmakers are getting around the new ban on earmarks by convincing Obama administration officials to fund their pet projects.”

Those who have followed Moran’s less than illustrious career recall something he said in 2006 that makes his determination to make earmarks happen by any means necessary not at all unexpected.

In June of that year, Scott McAffrey at Northern Virginia’s Sun Gazette reported on Moran’s intentions if the Demcrats were to win a Congressional majority the following November (one example of R-rated language follows):

Moran: Democratic Majority Means More Money for 8th District

If Democrats win back control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran said he would use his position in the majority to help funnel more funds to his Northern Virginia district.

Moran, D-8th, told those attending the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner on June 9 that while he in theory might oppose the fiscal irresponsibility of “earmarks” – funneling money to projects in a member of Congress’s district – he understands the value they have to constituents.

“When I become chairman [of a House appropriations subcommittee], I’m going to earmark the shit out of it,” Moran buoyantly told a crowd of 450 attending the event.

Colorful language and campaign hyperbole aside, Moran has a lot to gain if Democrats topple the GOP’s 12-year control of the House. His relative seniority of eight terms would make him a powerful member of any Democratic majority.

In early 2009, the Favor Factory section at the Seattle Times reported that Moran had kept his expletive-contaning promise, obtaining $40.6 million in earmarks in 2008, while receiving $890,000 in campaign contributions from the beneficiaries of those earmarks during the previous five years.

Thus, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Moran would openly boast of getting earmarks achieved in the underhanded manner described above. I thought that the Executive Branch was supposed to tell bureaucrats how to carry out their assigned duties. Silly me.

It also shouldn’t surprise anyone that Moran’s potentially controversial comment received virtually no coverage other than at the Sun Gazette in 2006, or anywhere else since then. A Republican making a similar comment would have caught a great deal more flak for such an utterance, and would still be hearing about it to this day.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Bill Whittle: ‘The End of the Beginning’

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:20 pm

Today’s history lesson explains what has transpired, and identifies where we are in the evolution of the historical relationship between individuals, families, and their societies:

One extended point: Certain of those described as late 19th century “robber barons” were the original practitioners of comprehensive crony capitalism (sentence amended at 7:40 p.m. from what was seen previously to reflect a commenter’s valid points). The Obama administration is best seen as a 21st century attempt to recreate their reign, this time with the federal government as their nexus of power. The current administration, contrary to its rhetoric of hope, change and transformation, really is the defender of the status quo. They wish to extend the status quo to virtually every aspect of everyday life. They are the reactionaries. They are the ones holding back the revolutionary progress and promise of the Information Age. It is clear that they won’t give up their centralized power without a ferocious fight.

I’m also heartened to see Whittle recognize the poison that the 17th Amendment (direct election of U.S. Senators) has represented in its nearly 100 years on the books. The Founders wanted the states to have a direct legislative place at the table; they no longer have one. This has served to exponentially enhance the power of the federal government.

Obamacare would never, ever have become law if Senators were selected by their state legislatures. That alone demonstrates what a huge mistake the 17th represents.

Headlines and Highlights (030711, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 10:35 am

Ann Althouse has continued to be on the scene in Madison:

As they say, “Keep scrolling.”

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Even if you’re a fan of the coal-powered Chevy Volt, which by the way sold a non-electrifying 281 units in February, this video will make your head hurt.

And yes, it is an officially sanctioned production of Government/General Motors, whose stock by the way closed on Friday below its initial public offering price.

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At the New York Times, David Carr claims (“The Fading Power of Beck’s Alarms”) that “Fox and Glenn Beck Stare into a Dark Future” (that’s the search engine-optimizing window title). Artificial ratings peak-picking rules the day; of course he’s going to be down from last summer’s national rally time period, but to say that indicates weakness is absurd, especially given the pathetic competition.

Based on Thursday’s cable ratings, I’d say that Carr engages in wishful thinking. It’s like saying late-1990s dynasty New York Yankees were facing a “dark future” because they were only in first place by 10 games instead of 15.

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Obamacare waivers have passed the 1,000 mark. So much for equal protection.

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Michelle Bachmann stands by “her” characterization of the Obama administration as a “Gangster Government.“ Well of course she should. It has been a Gangster Government since before the even-keeled Michael Barone first coined the term in May 2009 in the wake of the government’s rip-off of secured non-TARP lenders during Chrysler’s bankruptcy proceedings.

A year ago Barone called Gangster Government “a long-running series — because it has been. In the wake of Florida judge Vinson’s ruling voiding Obamacare in its entirety, the administration’s continued granting of waivers as if nothing has happened is a more current Gangster Government example.

Update: This is what gangsters and tyrants do —

Despite openness pledge, President Obama pursues leakers

In just over two years since President Barack Obama took office, prosecutors have filed criminal charges in five separate cases involving unauthorized distribution of classified national security information to the media.

… legal experts and good-government advocates say the hard-line approach to leaks has a chilling effect on whistleblowers, who fear harsh legal reprisals if they dare to speak up.

Not only that, these advocates say, it runs counter to Obama’s pledges of openness by making it a crime to shine a light on the inner workings of government – especially when there are measures that could protect the nation’s interests without hauling journalists into court and government officials off to jail.

… leak prosecutions brought under Obama amount to “almost twice as many as all previous presidents put together,” noted Daniel Ellsberg, who changed history and helped set a legal precedent when he handed the Pentagon’s top-secret assessment of the Vietnam War to New York Times reporters four decades ago. “The campaign here against whistleblowers is actually unprecedented in legal terms.”

Gangsters aren’t fond of snitches.

If you’re a Democrat, you have to be going way over the top to be getting a call-out from Daniel Ellsberg.

Positivity: The prayer of a champion — Police officer who gave his life for others lived the prayer he wrote

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:25 am

From the Archdiocese of Indianapolis (HT Catholic News Agency):

February 11, 2011

All coaches have teams and players that they’ll never forget—no matter how many years pass.

And when tragedy strikes a former player, a coach often feels the heartbreak deeply because of the dreams they once shared, the triumphs they celebrated together, and the disappointments they endured together.

Roncalli High School head football coach Bruce Scifres had that feeling when he first heard the news that Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer David Moore had been shot four times while making a traffic stop on Jan. 23.

To help deal with the heartbreak of knowing that Moore was fighting for his life, Scifres pulled out a copy of the football yearbook that he made in 1999—the season when Moore was one of the four co-captains who helped lead Roncalli’s football team to a 15-0 record and an Indiana State High School Athletic Association championship.

“As part of the yearbook, I always ask our seniors to write a reflection about what their football experience means to them,” Scifres recalled. “His reflection was short and profound. To understand it fully, you have to know that still today, David, pound for pound, is the strongest player to ever walk through Roncalli. As a senior, he was 195 pounds, and he bench-pressed 400 pounds and dead-lifted 600 pounds. Still, his primary strength was from within.”

Scifres then shared Moore’s reflection: “The amount of success you have is dependent on the amount of faith you have. In order to achieve this faith, one must understand that no amount of iron in the weight room is equal to the iron nails of the cross.”

A tribute from a teammate

Tony Hollowell witnessed that faith and dedication every day he spent with Moore as a co-captain on that 1999 Roncalli football team—along with the other two co-captains, Greg Armbruster and Ryan Brizendine. Their bond was tight, the bond that develops when people make a commitment to a goal and each other. (Related: Father John Hollowell’s tribute at Officer Moore’s funeral)

When Hollowell learned the news that Moore had been shot, he remembered those 15 games in 1999 when he walked on the field, “knowing David was right by my side.”

He also remembered the last time that he saw Moore.

“I told him, ‘I am so glad that a man like you is protecting our families,’ ” recalled Hollowell, now a first-year seminarian for the archdiocese at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology.

The full extent of the heartbreak for Hollowell and Scifres—and everyone else who knew Moore—came on Jan. 26 when the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer died.

When Roncalli had a school Mass to remember and celebrate the life of Moore, Roncalli’s president, Joe Hollowell, who is Tony’s father, asked Scifres to share his thoughts about Moore with the current students.

Scifres read Moore’s quote from the 1999 football yearbook. He then shared the remarkable prayer that Moore wrote and delivered at Roncalli’s all-sports banquet in the spring of 2000.

The prayer of a champion

“Dear Lord,

“We are gathered here tonight in your name to honor those athletes who have not only taken the field for Roncalli, but who have taken to the battlefield for you.

“It is not always on the sports field that we do our battle, but on the field of everyday life. We do not battle for the goals nor the touchdowns, or the blue rings, but for the cross that we will carry to you.

“Allow not our memories to be filled by the highlight tapes or the dazzling plays, but instead by the prayers that began our games and the huddles we made to praise you after our victories and even our defeats.

“Let us not only think it was the weight of the iron in the weight room or the long hours at practice that made us victorious, but the weight of the cross and the hours on our knees that made us great.

“As for the seniors who have taken off their Roncalli jersey for the last time, help us remember that the competition has just begun. For the real battle is not with the pigskin or the round ball, but with the crosses that you have laid upon us.

“Allow us to be coached by your love, and let all of us give you, our true coach, 110 percent. That is where we will find the true meaning of a champion.

“In the name of your Son, Christ Jesus, we ask this blessing. Amen.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.