April 21, 2011

‘Fiscal Solution Window Closing’

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:15 pm

Note: This item has been carried to the top because of its importance.

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From Washington, a press release concerning projects with which I am proudly associated (bolds and links to bullet-pointed media articles within the press release are mine):

MOAwindowClosing0411April 21, 2011

Fiscal Solution Window Closing
New analysis reinforces urgency of S&P outlook

April 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – The PJ Institute (PJI) today released a special report on the U.S. debt, analyzing the window of time that America may have to fix the debt crisis before the country could no longer be able to borrow money.  A new PJI analysis shows the window narrowing from 11 years to six in the last nine months, reemphasizing the urgency of our situation.  This report is part of PJI’s Maxed Out America project.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110421/DC87520 )

“The United States must make immediate and permanent fiscal adjustments,” said Laurence Kotlikoff, Boston University professor and consulting economist on PJI’s economic initiatives.  ”We are running out of time.  The window America has to reduce the deficit and national debt is collapsing.  Nonetheless, Congress is failing to take the situation seriously, doing far too little during the latest government shutdown showdown.”

In 2007, the U.S. had 21 years to reduce its spending before its debt consumed 90 percent of its GDP. Some experts consider that debt-to-GDP ratio as the trigger point for economic decline, including the point at which nations can’t find lenders willing to finance their spending.  As recently as June 2010, that time interval shrunk to 11 years, or by 2021.  Now, we estimate that it has shriveled to only six years to 2017 based on a new PJI analysis that factors in the President’s original 2012 budget, which was submitted in January of this year.

“It is time to stop the political infighting and move toward a meaningful solution,” Kotlikoff continued.  “Uncle Sam cannot afford to panic its creditors, which could happen in six years or tomorrow morning. Once panic sets in, it’s game over, as we’re seeing with Portugal, Greece, and Ireland.”

PJI’s special report was reinforced with news from Standard and Poor’s earlier this week, which warned that the U.S.’s credit rating could be downgraded if a plan is not developed to reduce the deficit and national debt by 2013.  This came behind Pimco’s announcement that the investment company will stop backing U.S. Treasury bonds. Headlines from across the country reflect the dire straits we now find ourselves in:

  • The Guardian:  ”Worst since Pearl Harbor:  Debt blow for U.S. economy”
  • Financial Times:  ”S&P sounds alarm on U.S. debt”
  • New York Times:  ”Wall St. Sends Warning to U.S. on Debt Levels – Markets fall sharply” (Added by Tom: Article has since been revised to “S.&P. Lowers Outlook for U.S., Sending Stocks Down”)
  • Washington Post: “S&P lowers its U.S. debt outlook – Top credit rating could be lost”
  • Wall Street Journal: ”U.S. Warned on Debt Load:  S&P Signals Top Credit Rating Is In Danger, Stoking Political Battle on Deficit”
  • LA Times: “Warning Raises Stakes in U.S. Debt Debate:  Standard & Poor’s says it could lower nation’s credit rating in the next two years, jolting financial markets” (Added by Tom: Article has since been revised to “Surprise warning on U.S. debt comes as Washington inches away from gridlock”)

PJ Institute

The PJ Institute™ (PJI), the research and educational division of Pajamas Media™, provides in-depth analysis on a variety of topics – from the economy and personal finance to history and its impact on the present.  Additionally, PJI offers its research and education through an array of new media and social media technologies.

PJI has two economic initiatives – Maxed Out America and the National Economic Rescue Initiative.  More specifically, theMaxed Out America initiative explores both the amount of time until, and the date when, the U.S. could buckle under its debt burden.  We identify the Fiscal Solution Window as the interval of time the U.S. has to reverse it ever-growing deficit spending and mounting debt.

For more information, please visit www.pjinstitute.com.

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ADDITIONAL COMMENT

The following comment is mine, and mine alone:

As seen above, in roughly four years, the window has shrunk from 21 years to six (if we’re lucky, and I don’t think we are). This is what the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy, the recession they and their party caused, and the pathetic and ongoing “Rebound? What Rebound?” supposed “recovery” has brought us.

We can’t play a game of chicken and wait until 2013 to seriously deal with this.

Another Trump Card Is a Joker: He Likes the Kelo Ruling

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:12 pm

Great, via the Club for Growth (HT the PJ Tatler) on Tuesday:

The Club for Growth today noted that Donald Trump once tried to use eminent domain to evict an elderly widow from her Atlantic City home to build a limousine parking lot, and has repeatedly tried to use eminent domain as a tool of his development business:

“First we find out Donald Trump is a liberal on taxes, health care, and trade. Now we find out he’s an abuser of eminent domain. Eminent domain abuse is an assault on freedom, pure and simple” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “No real conservative would ever use eminent domain in order to take the private property of citizens. I’m shocked and appalled by these revelations. Club members and conservatives ought to know where Donald Trump stands on the issues.”

… Trump on pro-eminent domain Supreme Court case Kelo v. New London: “I happen to agree with it 100 percent”:

CAVUTO: You know, the one thing that sticks in the craw of a lot of people with this court, Donald — and I don’t know where you come down on it, but this eminent domain issue that essentially allowed someone’s home to be bulldozed, as was the case in New London, Connecticut, if it gets in the way of developers. Now, you’re a pretty successful developer in your own right. What did you think of that decision? Was the court overdoing it with that decision?

TRUMP: Well, it’s sort of not a good one for me to say, because I noticed every article written about it said, “Will Donald Trump take over your home?” sort of using me as the example, Neil. And it’s sort of — it’s an interesting situation to be in. But I happen to agree with it 100 percent, not that I would want to use it. But the fact is, if you have a person living in an area that’s not even necessarily a good area, and government, whether it’s local or whatever, government wants to build a tremendous economic development, where a lot of people are going to be put to work and make area that’s not good into a good area, and move the person that’s living there into a better place — now, I know it might not be their choice — but move the person to a better place and yet create thousands upon thousands of jobs and beautification and lots of other things, I think it happens to be good. (Fox News, 7/19/05)

Longtime BizzyBlog readers know what I think of the Kelo ruling. An August 2005 sample:

If the Kelo Seven are being selfish, shortsighted, obtuse, etc., it’s their right. They earned that right when they took ownership of their property. So-called larger societal goals beyond those that truly benefit the common good (roads, bridges, etc.) don’t enter into the equation. Sorry, Mr. Kennedy.

That includes the right to be financially “stupid” from someone else’s perspective. Absent legitimate public use, per the Fifth Amendment, property owners entertaining offers to sell or not to sell get to decide whether to stay or go. Period, the Kelo majority be damned.

As to Trump, if he isn’t actually a Democratic plant, he might as well be. Given his contributions history (readers will have to put in a spam filter code to see it), it would be foolish to rule out that possibility. The Donald is doing everything a Democratic plant would do to hog attention and distract from genuine candidates.

‘Rebound? What Rebound?’ Update

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:59 am

Weekly initial unemployment claims, with the usual upward revision of the previous week, further elaboration unnecessary:

UnempClaims041611

Almost 16 months after I asked “Rebound? What Rebound?” — we’re still waiting for it.

IBD: Obamacare’s Costs Keep Rising, Media Yawns (Surprise, Surprise)

In a Wednesday evening editorial:

You’d think that when the Congressional Budget Office reported that Obama-Care would cost tens of billions of dollars more than it originally claimed, that would be news. Guess again.

Last month the CBO — Congress’ official budget scorekeeper — updated its forecast for ObamaCare’s price tag. Instead of $931 billion over seven years, the CBO now says it will cost $971 billion to pay for higher Medicaid costs, subsidies, tax credits and the rest — a $40 billion increase.

At the same time, the CBO now says ObamaCare’s new taxes — the penalties for not buying coverage, taxes on high-cost plans, and so on — will be $24 billion higher than it projected last March.

Of course, to Washington, these extra taxes are a good thing since they bring the government’s “net cost” down. But to the rest of us, it looks like the price of ObamaCare just went up by $64 billion.

The media’s response has been a collective yawn. …

… costs are almost certain to be far higher than even the new CBO forecasts suggest, once the reform’s vast and complex network of mandates, subsidies and regulations fully kicks in over the next three years.

… The plan’s high-risk pools, for example, have been a bust. Instead of the 375,000 enrollees the administration expected, just 12,000 signed up.

… Meanwhile, the administration has been forced to hand out more than 1,168 waivers to companies, unions and other groups — covering more than 2.9 million workers — who complained they would have to either hike premiums sharply, or drop coverage altogether.

And ObamaCare is already pushing up the cost of private insurance. Last fall, Hewitt Associates and Mercer both said reform was contributing to premium hikes this year. Even the AARP — an ardent backer of reform — told its own employees that ObamaCare was partly to blame for the rise in its insurance costs.

As usual with IBD, read the whole thing.

No one should be surprised. The surest thing besides death and taxes is that a major government initiative will cost exponentially more than advertised.

Positivity: Rosary-making ministry touches Catholics worldwide

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Davenport, Iowa:

Apr 16, 2011 / 01:17 pm

In Rome in October 2002, while waiting with Catholics from around the world for a papal Mass to begin, Roy and Roberta Wilson believed they saw the Blessed Mother’s hand at work.

As the couple passed time by making knotted cord rosaries, nearby pilgrims showed interest. Members of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City, the Wilsons tried to teach rosary making to the Catholics, many of whom didn’t speak English.

“Amazingly, they learned the quickest of any group we’d ever taught,” Roberta said. Then, she learned why.

“A man three or four rows behind us said, ‘Praise to Our Lady of the Rosary!’ It was her feast day. So we had some help from her.”

The Wilsons believe Mary has guided them throughout the 14 years they’ve been making and donating knotted cord rosaries, which Roy said have gone to Catholics on six continents. The couple makes 1,200 to 1,300 of the devotional aids each year, and several Catholics who learned the art from the husband and wife also make and donate rosaries.

The ministry has spread further than the Wilsons imagined it would when Roy took up the craft in 1997.

That year he was on a retreat at which a fellow participant, who was often seen carrying cords, piqued his curiosity. “I had to ask, ‘What are you doing?’” The man showed Roy a rosary and asked, “Would you like to learn to make these?”

Roy, who works as a tile setter, learned. “When I got home, I had to make the rosaries; I didn’t know why. I think Our Lady was whacking me around a bit.”

As he continued crafting them, requests poured in from friends, family and fellow parishioners. Seeing he needed help fulfilling those requests, Roberta started making rosaries, too.

Since then rosaries have gone to hospitals, rest homes, mourners at funerals, residents of several foreign countries and, with the help of St. Wenceslaus’ Knights of Columbus, to U.S. troops overseas. The cord rosaries are hard to break, so they’re well suited for children and soldiers, said Roberta, a school teacher.

The most challenging request for rosaries came in 2008 from a Slovakian seminarian who met a friend of the Wilsons while in the United States. The seminarian, now Father Jan Dolny, asked for 600 rosaries for everyone who would attend his ordination Mass — just two months away. Friends and family of the Wilsons ended up helping the couple make 850 rosaries — while praying for each future recipient.

The agnostic boyfriend of one such recipient later went through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, Roberta said. “He was overwhelmed by the idea that someone in a different country was praying for him.”

Brother Erik Ross, a Dominican friar native to Wisconsin, also was moved by gifts of rosaries that the Wilsons sent his community in Poland in 2008. Many of the rosaries went to people whom missionary priests minister to in various countries, Br. Ross e-mailed the Wilsons. “Your generosity, and the generosity of your whole network of rosary-makers, is just astonishing… you are an example and witness to all of us,” he wrote.

Hearing such examples of how rosaries and prayers have touched people keeps the Wilsons going, Roberta said.

Roy agreed. “Realizing I can help promote the faith and bring people closer to God is my reward.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.