June 16, 2011

Quote of the Day: Mark Steyn

Filed under: Economy,Quotes, Etc. of the Day,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:55 pm

It goes back to last Friday (“Default, dear Brutus, is not in our stars”), but the truth of the following statement certainly hasn’t changed in the meantime:

There is not enough money on the planet for what the Permanent Governing Class is doing. If Americans decline to grasp that central truth, this country will die.

Rasmussen: Romney 33%, Current and Potential Competitors 67% (Update: Romney Wins the Coveted Al Gore Endorsement, Praise From CAIR)

Filed under: Activism,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:20 am

Not Mitt AgainRasmussen’s specifics (HT Hot Air):

- Romney – 33%
- Bachmann – 19%
- Cain – 10%
- Gingrich – 9%
- Paul – 7%
- Pawlenty – 6%
- Santorum – 6%
- Huntsman – 2%
- Someone else – 8%

This is a very, very soft 14-point lead. Romney is the only guy many voters have heard of; Bachmann just announced; Cain’s name recognition is still low; Paul’s (and Cain’s, and Bachmann’s) supporters will never move to Romney; and, because of the RomneyCare millstone, most others will fiercely resist a move to Romney if/when any of the other guys drop out.

The biggest problem with Romney is obvious, and has been proven time and time again. I hope opponents will employ this five-word crystallization: He has no Constitutional compass.

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UPDATE: Romney has picked up the coveted Al Gore endorsement (internal link in original) —

Former Vice President Al Gore on Wednesday praised GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney for his acknowledgement of global climate change.

Gore, who has championed climate issues since losing the 2000 presidential race, posted a note on his blog that praised Romney for being consistent on his position that humans have contributed to rising global temperatures.

Too bad the consensus appears to be moving towards a cooling earth.

UPDATE 2: Praise for Romney continues to pour in. Here’s anotherUnindicted terrorist funding co-conspirator CAIR is saying good things about the Mittster (HT Creative Minority Report via commenter Greg).

UPDATE 3: I also meant to note that Rick Perry’s entrance would be more likely to take support from Romney and other establishment candidates (Pawlenty, Gingrich, Santorum) than from Bachmann, Cain, or Paul.

The Kasich-Rock Gaming Casino Deal

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:18 am

I am no fan of casino gambling (look how it turned around Detroit — not), but if you’re going to have it, you might as well get the best possible taxpayer deal.

Here is a bit of The Cincinnati Enquirer’s coverage of the Kasich-Rock Gaming deal:

Calling an end to a months-long taxation spat that led to a month-long suspension of casino construction in Cincinnati and Cleveland, Rock Gaming and Ohio Gov. John Kasich unveiled the terms of their truce on Wednesday, headlined by the developer’s agreement to pay an extra $110 million over a decade to Ohio covering both of its properties.

… In the end, it was difficult to say who “won” the dispute. After calling the 2009 casino amendment a “raw deal” for Ohio, Kasich secured extra $10 million to $12 million annual payments over the next 10 years from two projects that were already projected to generate a combined $385 million in gambling taxes a year.

Rock Gaming ultimately paid more money, but nothing close to what Ohio officials threatened.

Under terms of the agreement reached Saturday, Rock Gaming will make five annual payments of $10 million to Ohio, followed by five annual payments of $12 million. Those payments are on top of normal business taxes, a 33 percent tax on gambling revenues and a $50 million one-time fee for each property for a license.

In exchange, the Kasich administration agreed to drop Ohio’s bid to apply its Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) against total betting as lawmakers have been suggesting during the budget process – sparing Gilbert’s casinos a combined $25 million annual additional tax burden. Instead, the CAT will only apply to the casino’s winnings.

The results:

  • It’s isn’t definitively stated whether the casinos will open on their targeted completion dates, or whether the recent delays will cause the openings to slip. The guess here is that there won’t be any slippage, given that the targeted opening dates are so far out (Spring 2013? How can it take so long? Are the local bureaucracies or job work rules in the way?). That’s a good thing, because the state receipts lost by missing by a few more months would wipe out much of the $110 million gained.
  • Kasich gets a “see, I told ya” against those who said the voter-approved constitutional amendment(s) meant that nothing was negotiable.
  • The “it’s difficult to say who ‘won’” statement means that Kasich at the very least avoided a potentially significant embarrassment.

There’s no indication that extra payments from Rock Gaming can also be obtained from Ohio’s other casino operators, but it’s hard to see why not.

Initial Unemployment Claims 414K; Building Permits Up; Housing Starts Up v. April, Down v. Last Year; Home Completions Flat v. April, Way Down v. Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:40 am

Initial Claims: seasonally adjusted 414,000K, down from previous week’s upwardly revised (of course) 430K. Not seasonally adjusted claims were 395K, down about 12% from last year’s level.

Housing info (Census Bureau release):

BUILDING PERMITS

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 612,000. This is 8.7 percent (±1.5%) above the revised April rate of 563,000 and is 5.2 percent (±2.4%) above the May 2010 estimate of 582,000.

Single-family authorizations in May were at a rate of 405,000; this is 2.5 percent (±1.1%) above the revised April figure of 395,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 190,000 in May.

HOUSING STARTS

Privately-owned housing starts in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 560,000. This is 3.5 percent (±12.4%)* above the revised April estimate of 541,000, but is 3.4 percent (±8.7%)* below the May 2010 rate of 580,000.

Single-family housing starts in May were at a rate of 419,000; this is 3.7 percent (±9.5%)* above the revised April figure of 404,000. The May rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 134,000.

HOUSING COMPLETIONS

Privately-owned housing completions in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 544,000. This is 0.4 percent (±14.6%)* above the revised April estimate of 542,000, but is 22.5 percent (±9.2%) below the May 2010 rate of 702,000.

Single-family housing completions in May were at a rate of 431,000; this is 2.9 percent (±17.0%)* above the revised April rate of 419,000. The May rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 108,000.

More later.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘ATMs and Other Machines are Exempt from ObamaCare’) Is Up (Update: An ATM ‘Guest Posts’ at Boehner’s Site)

stop_obamacare-300x300It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Saturday (link won’t work until then; the title won’t have “ATMs” in it, though it’s a good if imperfect hook at the moment) after the blackout expires.

Special thanks to PJM for getting the column up so quickly after submission.

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Supplement: Not emphasized in the column was the point that it isn’t just existing businesses which make decisions on how to structure themselves. The decision on whether or not to hire people is one over which start-up and early-stage businesses must also agonize.

The default decision in today’s economic landscape is not to hire if it can at all be avoided. How is it accomplished? Three ways:

  1. The founder or founders do things themselves or use free spouse/partner/family help.
  2. They outsource as many functions as possible to other companies, who then get to wrestle with the hiring/non-hiring decision.
  3. They use temporary help services (495,000 of the 550,000 jobs added since the recession ended are temp jobs).

To slightly amend a quote from the column: ” If you believe that having additional employees — or any employees — around will become cost-prohibitive in 2014, you avoid hiring them today.”

Those who do come onto the payroll are given the clear understanding that it’s part-time, involves no employee benefits, and that it could end at any moment.

Also: In a radio appearance on a station down in Georgia during the past week, the host told me the story of an entrepreneur she knew who had to let about 20 people go when his business seriously contracted during the recession. She said that he now survives with about four employees (I don’t remember the exact number she said), but that he has decided not to staff up in the future — even if it means not growing as fast as he would like — so that he doesn’t have to repeat the wrenching experience of terminating good people. The guess here is that this entrepreneur is not alone in his outlook.

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UnhappyATMUPDATE: It’s good to see Speaker John Boehner’s peeps have a sense of humor (internal links and bolds are in original) –

Guest Post: Blame Washington Democrats’ Economy, Not the ATMs!
Posted by An Automated Teller Machine (ATM) on June 15, 2011

I didn’t do it.

President Obama says I’m to blame for high unemployment – part of the “structural” problems with the economy. Yes, he actually said my electronic brethren and I – who dispense cash and make lines move a little more quickly at the airport – are part of the reason 1.5 million fewer Americans have jobs than when the “stimulus” was enacted.

But before the president fingered us as responsible for job losses, he sought to take credit for the sluggish economy.

And even DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) said this morning that Democrats own the economy. I don’t. I’m just an ATM. I don’t own anything.

So if there are any “structural issues” with our faltering economy, as the president said, it’s likely because of his policies – not ATMs. For example:

  • SPENDING TOO MUCH: Democrats want to spend more of your money (and rack up more debt). I want you to spend it. The Democrats who run Washington spent almost a trillion dollars on a “stimulus” that didn’t work (and bragged about it during “Recovery Summer”) — and they want to spend more! They haven’t passed a budget that spurs job growth and stops spending money we don’t have (note: Republicans have), and even worked with an army of lobbyists to fight spending cuts. You won’t catch me spending any of your money; I just want you to have it.
  • TAXING TOO MUCH: Democrats want to take away more of your money through tax hikes. I just give you your money. Democrats imposed massive job-crushing tax hikes, penalties, and mandates in their health care law. And many want new tax hikes on small businesses. ATMs? We just give you your money. Sure, a lot of ATMs charge higher fees than we used to – and I apologize for that, seriously – but it’s only because Democrats in Washington made us do it (see Dodd-Frank regulations – and the next bullet). Democrats treat you like an ATM; I am an ATM.
  • REGULATING TOO MUCH: Democrats complicate life for job creators by creating more red tape. I simplify things. The regulatory onslaught of recent years has paralyzed small businesses. From ObamaCare to Dodd-Frank, the national energy tax to the government takeover of the internet, excessive regulations – imposed and proposed – raise costs and create an environment of uncertainty  that hurts job growth. Me? I just let you walk up, punch in some numbers, and take some cash. Simple.

ATMs and airport kiosks (and even teleprompters) are tools that help make life a little easier. Republicans have a plan for jobs that would make life a little easier for families and small businesses (Jobs.GOP.Gov) by removing barriers that are holding back our economy.

Instead of treating the American people like an ATM – and then blaming us for our economic woes – maybe the White House should take a cue from Republicans and focus on jobs?

Or perhaps ATMs really are smart enough to have opinions of their own …

Positivity: Plans for Pope Pius XII museum revealed

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Rome:

Jun 15, 2011 / 05:54 pm

A leading Italian politician is giving his support to plans for a museum in Rome to commemorate the memory of the wartime pontiff, Pope Pius XII.

“I’ve taken on the impetus of this important idea that wishes to give the proper place in history to this great Pope,” Italian Senator Stefano De Lillo told CNA.

“During his life he was exalted by all, and at the time of his death the Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir, said that he died a ‘grande giusto’ – a ‘great, just man.’”

The plans for the museum are at an early stage but they have already been discussed at an international conference organized by Sen. De Lillo this month. The idea has also gained the support of the former Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks, however, is the continually recycled accusation that Pope Pius didn’t do enough during the war to save Jews from persecution. Sen. De Lillo hopes the new museum can help set the record straight.

“There are so many writings from Italian and Roman Jews who thank the Pope for having permitted them to seek refuge in convents, institutes and churches throughout Rome. It is estimated that at least 5,000 people were saved through the direct action of the Pope.”

“We can say that a museum of this type can help give back a just historical truth, in full harmony with our elder brothers of the Jewish religion, with whom our rapport is extremely good,” the Italian lawmaker said.

The museum idea was initially given to Sen. De Lillo by the 90-year-old New Jersey nun, Sister Margherita Marchione, who has been campaigning since 1995 to clear the name of Pope Pius XII. In fact, over the past 16 years she’s become one of his leading biographers.

Sen. De Lillo says the museum would “bring together all of the documentation that the sister possesses, along with other documentation possessed by other sites.”

He also wants to mark what he sees as the bravery and loyalty of Pope Pius towards the citizens of Rome during the war. …

Go here for the rest of the story.