June 10, 2011

IBD: ‘U.S. Goes On An Energy Starvation Diet’

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:41 pm

Remember, promising during their presidential and congressional campaigns to starve the nation of the energy it needs for its economy to continue functioning effectively, let alone continue growing, is one of the key items I identified which created the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy three years ago. That investors, businesspeople, and entrepreneurs saw what these promises implied, reacted with horror, and battened down the hatches, which have largely stayed that way for the past three years, is a matter of historical record.

In July 2008, I detailed what the Terrible Triumvirate wanted. In April 2009 (“‘Going Galt’ Got Going Last Summer”), I looked at the carnage of the previous 10-plus months, and assigned a major part of the blame to their energy agenda (the rest went to promises of punitive taxation and the decades in the making, Democratic Party-driven housing and mortgage-lending messes):

Starting in June and all the way through to Election Day, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid repeatedly told the country that they were ready, willing, and would soon be able to starve the country of the conventional sources of energy it needs to keep its economic engines running, regardless of the consequences, bowing before what may be the greatest hoax in human history. Enough high producers to make a difference believed them, and abandoned their previous guarded optimism.

In an editorial last night, Investors Business Daily noted that the Obama, Pelosi, and Reid have essentially gotten their way, i.e., we’re starving:

The Environmental Protection Agency has two new rules it wants to impose on utilities that use coal. But the rules make sense only if you want less energy, higher prices and fewer jobs.

Remember then-candidate Barack Obama’s comment in January 2008 that the price of electricity would “necessarily skyrocket” once his policies went into effect?

It’s now coming to pass — just as OPEC has decided it doesn’t want to pump more oil. Get the picture? We’re being systematically starved of energy, and our economy is suffering. Just don’t ask the White House to help.

… According to a study the economic consulting firm National Economic Research Associates conducted for the coal industry, the two new rules mentioned above will by themselves cost electric utilities $184 billion by 2030 and kill 1.4 million jobs.

… But if these EPA rules go into effect, the cost of energy will shoot up 11% to 23% in just a few years.

In the pipeline, according to a study by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the agency has 30 major regulations and more than 170 new major policy rules that will create massive new costs for utilities.

With this regulatory siege, Obama’s EPA is trying to get “cap-and-trade through the back door,” ALEC says, referring to a Democrat-backed but business-opposed approach to controlling pollution with economic incentives. The EPA “has pushed ahead in its regulatory onslaught without regard to economic realities or democratic accountability,” ALEC says.

… Contrary to peak-oil promoters and other pooh-pooh-ers of American potential, our country is rich in energy resources. These include 1.2 trillion barrels of oil, 2,500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 486 billion short tons of coal — plenty to power millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in economic output for hundreds of years. Policies that prevent their extraction defy logic.

That’s true unless the “logic” is driven by a set of values that is not based in looking to do what is best for one’s country and its citizens. Energy policy is one of many reasons why, when asked based on that definition whether Barack Obama is a patriot, GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain gave the only answer he could: “No.”

Lickety-Split Links (061011, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:51 am

At 11:05 a.m. PT yesterday, Rand Simberg at Pajamas Media asked:

Hey Democrats: Why Does Weiner Have To Go, but Bill Clinton Didn’t?
Where was the outrage from Dems when Bill was committing actual federal felonies to cover up his actual sex scandal?”

Good questions. But the answer appears to be that Weiner shouldn’t have to go either. In a 7:21 p.m. ET Thursday Associated Press item, Laurie Kellman reported: “On Wednesday, Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa., became the first of a half-dozen Democrats to say he should leave office.”

Wow, counting congresspersons, Senators, and prominent others, that’s maybe 2%-3%. Democrats aren’t saying that Weiner has to go, and the lesson is obvious.

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As Austan Goolsbee leaves the White House, Michelle Malkin reminds her readers:

Apparently, Obama is tired of hearing from them, too. The Hill newspaper reports that he has stopped receiving daily economic briefings that were once treated with the same emergency status as national security briefings. So, the central planners continue to be paid to fail — while their boss looks the other way at the destruction, whistling into what he calls America’s temporary “head winds.”

There may be an exception, but this seems to be the quickest decimation of an economic team of a president in his first term that I’ve seen in my lifetime. The linked Washington Post item notes that after the departures of Romer, Orszag, Summers, Bernstein, and now Goolsbee, the White House is left “with no economist in a prominent position.”

That leaves Treasury Secretary Geithner. The country is in the best of hands (not).

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Mickey Kaus sees indications that the quality of Ford Motor Company’s products is becoming suspect, with a troubling precedent: “Didn’t Boeing’s innovative 787 Dreamliner have troublesome quality problems when (Alan) Mulally ran that company?” The answer is “yes.”

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Last line of defense: “Obama defaults to economic blame game.” It’s the fault of Bush (“challenges that have been unaddressed over the course of the previous decade”), and, as correctly interpreted by the Daily Caller, “investors, consumers and even the media.”

It’s never Obama’s fault.

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Related to the previous item, in an Associated Press report which seems to have disappeared from its main home page:

Gov’t faults 3 lenders over mortgage-aid efforts

The Obama administration is blaming the three largest U.S. mortgage lenders for the failures of its foreclosure-prevention program. It says they’ve done little to help people at risk of losing their homes.

Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have failed to help enough people permanently lower their mortgage payments so they can stay in their homes, the Treasury Department said Thursday.

Based on those lenders’ lackluster success for the first three months of 2011, the government is withholding financial incentives that amounted to up to $1,000 per permanent loan modification. Treasury said the three lenders incorrectly determined that many people were ineligible for the program.

The lenders are disputing the data. They say the findings are based on old reports, not audits from the first quarter of the year as Treasury claimed. One of them, Wells Fargo, is formally appealing the government’s decision to cut off its incentives.

… More than 1.6 million troubled homeowners received trial modifications over the past two years. Roughly 44 percent of those who applied, or about 700,000, have had their mortgage permanently lowered as of April. A majority of the applicants, or about 843,000 homeowners, have dropped out of the program.

… The Treasury Department said that when the program began, most of the lenders did not have the needed staff or resources to help the many homeowners seeking lower mortgage payments.

So Treasury’s “answer” was to pile on mountains of paperwork and arbitrary, capricious, and ever-changing regs while assuming that the already understaffed banks would be able to instantly respond. Since they couldn’t, and didn’t, it’s all the banks’ fault. Horse manure.

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Walter Russell Mead at the American Interest, about a book (“Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon”) on the true origins of the housing and and mortgage-lending messes:

If (NY Times Business reporters Gretchen) Morgenstern and (noted financial analyst Joshua) Rosner are to be believed, the American dream didn’t die of old age; it was murdered and most of the fingerprints on the corpse come from Democratic insiders. Democratic power brokers stoked the housing bubble and turned a blind eye to the increasingly rampant corruption and incompetence at Fannie Mae and the associated predatory lenders who sheltered under its umbrella; core Democratic ideas may well be at fault.

This is catnip to Republicans, arsenic to Dems. If Morgenson and Rosner are right, there is someone the American people can blame for our current economic woes and it is exactly the cast of characters that a lot of Americans love to hate. Big government, affirmative action and influence peddling among Democratic insiders came within inches of smashing the US economy.

“Some of us” have been saying these things all along, because the evidence has always been there, but it’s welcome to see the case made in a comprehensive fashion.

Positvity: Ill. man returns bag with $17,000 in cash

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:06 am

From Rolling Meadows, Illinois:

Story Published: Jun 9, 2011 at 12:10 PM PDT

Robert Adams craved an ice-cold drink and a burrito after finishing his shift on a sweltering workday, but not having enough money left him with two obvious choices: Stop at the ATM, or find a bag containing more than $17,000 in cash.

“I wanted to get a large horchata, which is almost like a rice or coconut milk,” Adams told the Daily Herald (Arlington Heights) for a story published Wednesday. “I would have grabbed a chorizo burrito, too, but I didn’t have enough money.”

That changed Monday when the Chicago-area man stood at a Chase ATM in Rolling Meadows, looked down and discovered on the sidewalk near a newspaper box a clear plastic bag containing receipts, checks and $17,021 in cash – mostly $20 and $100 bills bound by a rubber band.

“I see this plastic bag. It’s clear plastic and it’s half full of money,” Adams said. “I figure this is a joke. Somebody took some napkins and made it look like money. This has to be a setup. People are going to look at me and start laughing.”

Adams said he never had the urge to keep any of the money.

“It’s not my money. I shouldn’t take it. I don’t care if you put another zero on there, I wasn’t raised to take money that isn’t mine,” said Adams, a 54-year-old single man who lives in Arlington Heights and credits his deceased parents for teaching him right from wrong. “If I saw you drop it, I’d say, `Excuse me, sir. I think you dropped something.”‘

The word “Chase” was printed on the bag, so Adams carried it inside the nearby branch.

“I walk up to the teller and say, `I think you might have left this outside,”‘ said Adams, figuring an employee left it behind after restocking the ATM. But employees told him the machine is filled from inside and the money didn’t belong to the bank.

Adams then called police, who along with bank officials later determined the money was meant for an ATM in Midlothian and had been under the care of Loomis, an armored truck company. Rolling Meadows police took the money to the station, where it was picked up by a Loomis official.

Go here for the rest of the story.