July 19, 2011

Rep. Jim Jordan on Today’s Cut, Cap and Balance Vote, and the Gang of S*cks (UPDATE: ‘CC&B’ Passes the House)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:04 pm

Completely correct, especially in regards to the Gang of S*cks:

Why isn’t he running for Senate?

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UPDATE: In an email received just a short time ago, Boehner has held up his end of the bargain (direct link) —

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement praising the House for passing “Cut, Cap, and Balance” legislation to stop the Washington spending binge and rein in the deficits that are hurting job growth:

“Americans are still asking, ‘where are the jobs?’ And while President Obama simply talks tough about cutting spending, House Republicans are taking action. ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance’ is exactly the kind of ‘balanced’ approach the White House has asked for – it provides President Obama with the debt limit increase he’s requested while making real spending cuts now and restraining future government spending and debt that are hurting job growth.

“House Republicans are the only ones to put forward and pass a real plan that will create a better environment for private-sector job growth by stopping Washington from spending money it doesn’t have and preventing tax hikes on families and small businesses. The White House hasn’t said what it will cut. And Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget in more than two years. The President should abandon his veto threat, and urge Senate Democrats to quickly pass the ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance’ plan to help get our economy back to creating jobs.”

The Gang of S*cks

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:28 pm

I’m not inclined to go borderline graphic, but the supposed plan being pushed by the Gang of Six is so breathtaking irresponsible and out of touch, I don’t know what else to do.

Except that I’ll lean on the estimable Doug Ross, who has assembled some reaction from around the center-right blogosphere:

The “Gang of Six” bipartisan plan to “reduce our nation’s deficits” has touched off a wide range of reactions. My personal highlights:

The Washington Examiner‘s Conn Carroll: “Gang of six plan raises taxes by $3 trillion – they are using a CBO baseline that assumes the AMT continues as written today and that the current Bush rates expire. Last August, the CBO said those policies would amount to a $4.8 trillion tax hike. Which means the the Gang of Six plan probably raises taxes by about $3+ trillion over current rates.”

Daniel J. Mitchell: “The entire package is based on dishonest Washington budget math. Spending increases under the plan, but the politicians claim to be cutting spending because the budget didn’t grow even faster.”

The Foundry: “The Gang of Six promises — an unenforceable promise — that some time in the next six months Congress will enact a second law with all kinds of Christmas presents for everybody – The Gang of Six circulated a plan that has Congress enact a law now whose principal elements (1) make unspecified spending cuts and unspecified tax increases to yield a $500 billion reduction in the federal deficit, and (2) impose spending caps on discretionary spending, but not on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and welfare programs that are the main cause of out-of-control spending.”

The American Spectator‘s Joseph Lawler : “Perhaps the reason the Gang of Six plan is politically viable is that is mostly a promise to make cuts in the future, rather than a measure to cut spending now.” Not good.

Doug’s overall reax: “This plan is outrageous. This is another hack job by Beltway insiders bent on preserving the status quo, massive deficits and, eventually, complete economic collapse.”

My overall reax: It produces a partial vacuum by action of the lips and tongue. Hence the headline.

What about “Stop Spending!” don’t they understand?

Steve Wynn, By Articulating the Fright, Confirms the Timing of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:53 pm

It is accurate to say that what Wynn describes in the following excerpt was correctly anticipated three years ago full transcript here):

And I’m saying it bluntly, that this administration is the greatest wet blanket to business, and progress and job creation in my lifetime. And I can prove it and I could spend the next 3 hours giving you examples of all of us in this market place that are frightened to death about all the new regulations, our healthcare costs escalate, regulations coming from left and right. A President that seems, that keeps using that word redistribution. Well, my customers and the companies that provide the vitality for the hospitality and restaurant industry, in the United States of America, they are frightened of this administration. And it makes you slow down and not invest your money.

… And those of us who have business opportunities and the capital to do it are going to sit in fear of the President. And a lot of people don’t want to say that. They’ll say, God, don’t be attacking Obama. Well, this is Obama’s deal and it’s Obama that’s responsible for this fear in America.

The guy keeps making speeches about redistribution and maybe we ought to do something to businesses that don’t invest, their holding too much money. We haven’t heard that kind of talk except from pure socialists. Everybody’s afraid of the government and there’s no need soft peddling it, it’s the truth. It is the truth. And that’s true of Democratic businessman and Republican businessman … And I’m telling you that the business community in this company is frightened to death of the weird political philosophy of the President of the United States. And until he’s gone, everybody’s going to be sitting on their thumbs.

Wynn could have substituted two words for “sitting on their thumbs” which lefties ridicule but which perfectly describe what has happened: “Going Galt.”

We’ve all strident talk of “redistribution,” punitive taxation, intense regulation, energy starvation, and the like for years. But in May or June of 2008, it became clear that a group of those led by Barack Obama holding those core beliefs had a real chance of gaining enough power to make it happen. Until May or June 2008, there was at least a ghost of a chance that Hillary Clinton and not Barack Obama would be the nominee of the Democratic Party, and that sane heads would prevail among the supposedly committed party superdelegates who in reality had a chance to change their minds at any time they liked ahead of their vote at the convention. While no angel, it could be said, based largely on her husband’s two terms, that Hillary Clinton would not be as indifferent as Obama had been towards a tanking economy and a brutal job market, and would have changed direction if things weren’t working. It has become clear that Obama won’t, even after an electoral shellacking that made 1994 look like the traditional definition of a tea party.

A significant number of businesspeople, entrepreneurs, and investors caught the May-June 2008 sea change early on, and as a result, the economy, which was barely holding on, began to seriously deteriorate. That’s when the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy began. In short order, in July 2008, the recession as normal people define it began

It didn’t take long for the business community as a whole to get up to speed on what it faces, and Wynn is right: Economic malaise will continue until the Obama administration’s regime of fear changes, and it’s too late for Barack Obama to change that, even if he wanted to. Because at this point, no one will believe it.

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UPDATE: Here’s an irony worthy of discussion.

In the full conference call transcript, you’ll find Wynn praising another country. Guess which one –

September will be our fifth anniversary in the _______ in ______, and we love it there. We are so grateful to be part of that market and to be allowed to participate in that community. We find the political environment, the regulatory environment, the human resource environment that we’re in to be absolutely delicious. Life is quite straightforward in ________. The government is predictable. Our employees are eminently trainable. They’re anxious to please. They have a fabulous attitude, whether they’re local ______ people, __________ people, folks from the __________, they’re just wonderful and all of that’s come together to help us deliver the kind of product that we’ve always been delivering.

Here’s the complete quote:

September will be our fifth anniversary in the People’s Republic of China in Macau, and we love it there. We are so grateful to be part of that market and to be allowed to participate in that community. We find the political environment, the regulatory environment, the human resource environment that we’re in to be absolutely delicious. Life is quite straightforward in China. The government is predictable. Our employees are eminently trainable. They’re anxious to please. They have a fabulous attitude, whether they’re local Macau people, mainland Chinese people, folks from the Philippines, they’re just wonderful and all of that’s come together to help us deliver the kind of product that we’ve always been delivering.

There are obviously two ways to take this:

  1. Wynn likes the predictability of a state-run Communist regime, which is obviously not a good thing.
  2. The Communist regime has become sufficiently capitalist, or at least has become that way in Macau, that it has set its people and businesses free to create wealth and prosperity and is functioning at a higher level of economic freedom than the U.S. under Obama.

So which one is it?

UPDATE 2: Yes, it is unfortunate, as seen in the transcript, that Wynn still sees Harry Reid as being on his side. In that sense, he still doesn’t get it. He’s in a distinct minority in the business community.

Housing News: Positive, But Hardly Cause For Celebration

Here are this morning’s easonally adjusted specifics from the Census Bureau (small PDF):

BUILDING PERMITS

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in June were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 624,000. This is 2.5 percent (±1.3%) above the revised May rate of 609,000 and is 6.7 percent (±2.0%) above the June 2010 estimate of 585,000.

Single-family authorizations in June were at a rate of 407,000; this is 0.2 percent (±1.0%)* above the revised May figure of 406,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 198,000 in June.

HOUSING STARTS

Privately-owned housing starts in June were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 629,000. This is 14.6 percent (±10.9%) above the revised May estimate of 549,000 and is 16.7 percent (±11.8%) above the June 2010 rate of 539,000.

Single-family housing starts in June were at a rate of 453,000; this is 9.4 percent (±11.1%)* above the revised May figure of 414,000. The June rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 170,000.

HOUSING COMPLETIONS

Privately-owned housing completions in June were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 535,000. This is 1.7 percent (±12.0%)* below the revised May estimate of 544,000 and is 39.3 percent (±6.6%) below the June 2010 rate of 881,000.

Single-family housing completions in June were at a rate of 436,000; this is 0.0 percent (±14.5%)* equal to the revised May rate of 436,000. The June rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 89,000.

The raw numbers for June:

  • Permits — 63,100 (43,100 SF; 20,000 2+ units). Comparables for June 2010 and June 2009: 59,200 and 61,300 overall; 42,900 and 47,000 for SF.
  • Starts — 62,900 (45,300 Single Family; 17,600 for 2+ units). Comparables for June 2010 and June 2009: 53,800 and 59,100 overall; 45,500 and 49,200 for SF.
  • Completions — 46,900 (38,300 SF; 8,300 2+ units). Comparables for June 2010 and June 2009: 77,700 and 70,300 overall; 60,100 and 44,400 for SF.

Single-family starts and permits are flat as a pancake vs. last year and down from 2009, which was anything but a good year. These numbers should be significantly exceeding last year and be ahead of or at least even with 2009 if the industry was really making a comeback. Single-family completions are even worse, but that is probably the result of low starts and permits during the past year.

My CNN headline email claims that “Stocks open higher after strong housing report. Dow gains 103 points, Nasdaq rises 1.2% and S&P 500 adds 0.8%.” Give me a break. The results beat the steady declines which have dominated the past year or so, but there are plenty of other reasons for the stock push-up, not the least of which is that momentum in Washington seems to be running against the tax-and-spenders — for the moment.

Reminder Number 327: RomneyCare Is a Failure, As Should Be Mitt Romney’s Presidential Candidacy

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:41 am

mittagainFrom a Monday Investors Business Daily editorial:

In a study that’s likely the first of its kind, the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University near Boston took a look at health care costs in Massachusetts and found that they have increased significantly since RomneyCare became the law:

• State health care spending has increased by $414 million in the last five years.

• Private health insurance costs have gone up by $4.3 billion.

• An additional $2.4 billion in federal money has been spent on Medicaid in the state.

• Medicare spending has risen by $1.4 billion.

Add these up and the cumulative cost of RomneyCare is nearly $8.6 billion. The promise of cost-containment has not only been broken, it’s been ripped asunder in spectacular fashion.

Clearly, what we are seeing in Massachusetts is a sobering preview. “If the federal law is modeled after the Massachusetts law,” the authors of “The High Price of Massachusetts Health Care Reform” write, “it stands to reason that Massachusetts’ experience with health care reform provides an idea of what is in store for the country under the federal law.”

The Beacon Hill Institute’s press release is here, and its full study (large PDF) is here.

Here’s a quote from the study about the Bay State’s costs and defenders’ predictable excuse:

The Division of Health Care Finance and Policy estimates that per capita spending on health care in Massachusetts is 15% higher than the rest of the nation, even when accounting for the state’s higher wages and spending on medical research and education.

… The (state’s) report mistakenly identifies market failure, not policy failure, as the driver of rising health care costs. Like most studies that identify “market failure” as the problem, the report recommends more government intervention in the health care market

Of course. They’ll keep intervening until they control it all — a statist’s dream.

This is not how Democrats see things, of course. Governor Deval Patrick considers RomneyCare a health reform model for the nation.

For this and so many other reasons, Republican Party primary voters and caucus participants cannot possibly nominate Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney for President. If we had a principled Republican Party instead of a bunch of patrician “whatever” sideline-sitters, leaders would be pursuing a “Not This Mitt Again” effort the background, saying demanding that Romney withdraw — now.

Positivity: Simple advice to Class of 2011 — Be good and be nice

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From Daryn Kagan, who is both:

3:23 PM Saturday, June 4, 2011

“Daryn, would you have any words of advice to share with my son who is looking to get into journalism?”
So began a recent email from a woman I went to college with.

“Sure,” I replied. But why keep it to just that young man? I can share with you, as well. My advice is pretty short and simple.

Be good and be nice.

By “good,” I mean be willing to work your you-know-what off. No assignment is too small. No shift is too inconvenient. No city is too small or too far away to move to in order to get your big break. That sense of entitlement that you weren’t meant to pay your dues? You can leave that at the door. Work really hard to learn the ropes until you are an asset to have on the team. I started out in the business with tons of folks more talented and better looking than me. My secret sauce was my drive to work hard and get good.

By “nice” I mean, well, be nice. Viewers might see just one anchor or reporter on their screen, but trust me, TV news is a team sport. It takes a village to produce a good product and more selfishly to make you look good on the air. It’s the subtle way I’ve seen the most powerful and least powerful people on my team go the extra mile to help out, simply because they like me and know I show them respect.

Sure, you will see plenty of examples of the not-so-good and not-so-nice along the way. I remember the beautiful blonde up-and-coming news anchor who flung her chicken biscuit across the studio because the teleprompter operator didn’t order it correctly from the fast food stand downstairs. Never mind, that “chicken biscuit fetcher” was not in the description of that young person’s entry-level job. There was the actress the network was trying to turn into a news anchor who chewed out a make-up artist because she didn’t glue in her puppy-dog shaped hair extensions just so.

Sure, there was a time when it looked like some of those kind of people were zooming past me on the career and opportunity ladder. Stick around long enough and you’ll see that kind of behavior has some oomph, but no last. Neither of those women are in the business anymore.

“Well, neither are you,” I reminded myself. That is true. When CNN let me go after 12 years, many asked, “Why didn’t they keep you longer?” I knew the better question was, “How did I ever last so long?” After all, I outlasted seven different management changes. The answer was simple. I was good, and I was nice.

Go here for the rest of her column.