August 30, 2011

AP’s Kuhnhenn: Obama ‘Hamstrung’ by ‘Limited Tools’ to Improve Economy and Increase Employment

Poor President Obama. There’s only so much he can do to lift the economy. He’s tried so much already, yet somehow it just hasn’t worked. Now his options are limited by those darned Republican demands for “fiscal austerity” and a “tight debt ceiling” (of “only” $2.4 trillion) which was only raised by enough to get him through his reelection effort (in 14-1/2 months).

This is the utter garbage in a Tuesday morning report (“Obama faces tight restraints in crafting jobs plan”) the Associated Press’s Jim Kuhnhenn expects his wire service’s readers, listeners, and viewers to swallow, and its subscribing media outlets to non-skeptically publish and broadcast.

If I were to use my annotated style of taking apart a story, I’d have at least 30 items. Other than his very late segment addressing the worthy recommendations of economist Kevin Hassett, virtually every sentence is a teeth-grinder, and almost every statement by anyone other than Hassett is a forehead-slapper.

Here are my nominees for the top three ridiculous passages in Kuhnhenn’s calamity:

(opening sentence)

Hamstrung by budget cuts and a tight debt ceiling, President Barack Obama is preparing a September jobs package with limited tools at his disposal to prime the economy and crank up employment.

Jim, there are no cuts. Spending continues to increase. Any items advertised as “cuts” are only reductions in projected spending per the Congressional Budget Office assuming Congress just sits there and doesn’t try to do its job. If you can point to a major budget where actual spending in fiscal 2012 is projected to be less than fiscal 2011 spending — let alone fiscal 2007, before Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid followed by President Obama tore the roof off of anything resembling spending control — I’d like to know what it is. The federal government is on track to spend well over 35% more in fiscal 2011 (about $3.7 trillion) than it did in 2007 (about $2.7 trillion). “Budget cuts”?

(Paragraph 9)

He also has lent support to a proposal to create an “infrastructure bank,” a fund that would be seeded by the government but fed by private investment to pay for major road, bridge and other public construction. Even advocates of the plan, however, say that proposal probably would not be in place to generate jobs for about two years.

Then why is he bothering?

(Final paragraph)

“The debt deal doesn’t allow any sizable amount of deficit spending or increased spending,” he (Lawrence Mishel, president of the liberal Economic Policy Institute) said. “If you ‘re going to pay for it later, how do you do that when you have a tight amount of debt that you can take on over the next year and a half?”

This is downright pathological. “The debt deal” allowed the national debt to increase by $2.4 trillion over roughly 18 months. That’s a $133 billion per month average. That’s a “tight amount”? Someone should ask Mishel what he thinks would be “loose.”

As for “any sizable amount of deficit spending or increased spending” — Lord, we’ve run almost $4 trillion in official deficits during the last three fiscal years (fiscal 2009 and 2010 actuals per the Treasury Department, $1.42 trillion and $1.29 trillion; projected fiscal 2011, $1.28 trillion; projected three-year total, $3.99 trillion), while the national debt ballooned by $4.6 trillion from September 30, 2008 through yesterday ($14.625 trillion minus $10.025 trillion. How high would these numbers have to get before they become “sizable”?

Rush’s reaction to Kuhnhenn’s report during the opening segment of his show today was similar to your truly’s, and his ending echoes the point I made in the second paragraph of this post’s introduction (bolds are mine):

AP is very concerned here, folks. They’re making excuses for Obama, even before he delivers the big jobs speech that’s coming up sometime next week. And remember how they used to do that for Bush? Make excuses? Yeah, guess not. In any case, what this AP story boils down to is that the first round of stimulus is drying up, and according to AP, that’s why the GDP, economic growth, is down to 1%. Isn’t that cool? Economic growth is down, not because of unemployment, not because Obama has targeted the private sector, not because he has shrunk the private sector while growing the government. No, no, no, no. Our economic slowdown is due to the fact that the first stimulus is now drying up.

So consequently Obama is now desperate for another round of stimulus in order to keep the GDP in positive territory and out of an official recession in an election year. The trouble is that Obama can’t spend much without raising the debt ceiling yet again, as AP points out. Hey, it’s real problem. We just went through a debt ceiling fight, raising it another two point whatever trillion dollars and we can’t go back to it too soon. People didn’t want the debt ceiling raised this time. So the AP is wringing its hands and they’re all concerned over the restraints poor Obama faces in announcing his jobs program.

In the middle of three years of failure, you have a major news organization that’s making the case for Obama in advance for more of the same, which is going to get us more of the same: smaller private sector, fewer jobs, no salary or wage increases. Utter failure. And yet they are promoting it. They are making the case for it. Well, both. Making the case for it and for him.

But the point is they’re saying Obama must up spending to get reelected. How many more votes can he buy? How many more votes can he buy? If this was the way to reelection, he ought to be at 70, 80% in the polls. So I look at this and I chuckle, I laugh, and then I sorta scratch my head because this is a major problem. This story is gonna run in newspapers and on websites all across the country, and a bunch of people (are) gonna read it and think that it’s the way it is. I mean it’s the height of ignorance, of being uninformed, and journalistic malpractice at the same time.

It isn’t journalistic malpractice only if you’re in Jim Kuhnhenn’s Cave on Planet AP.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Update: Wausau, Wis. Mayor Tells Labor Day Union Sponsors to Invite GOP Pols or Pay All Costs

The plot thickens.

On Sunday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that “GOP politicians aren’t welcome in this year’s Labor Day parade” in Wausau, Wisconsin, because, according to the Marathon County Central Labor Council, which until today apparently thought it was the only sponsor of said parade, “organizers choose not to invite elected officials who have openly attacked worker’s rights.”

The Labor Council found out today from Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple that they are not the parade’s only sponsor, as a video replay of a local station’s news segment at Breitbart (HT to NB commenter “DaChew“) informs us (transcript follows the jump; bolds are mine throughout):

(more…)

Quick Hits (083011, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 10:21 am

Warren Buffett, who believes taxes aren’t high enough on people in his pay and earnings grade, is quite astute at tax avoidance. A Wall Street Journal editorial points out that his firm’s effective tax rate on the $300 million a year in preferred stock dividends it receives from its recent $5 billion investment in Bank of America will be 10.5%. Update, August 31: According to a Berkshire Hathaway response carried at TaxProf, the rate will be 14.175%. The dollar amount in the following paragraph has been changed to reflect that rate.

Given that he’s so gung-ho about how the rich need to be “coddled” less and taxed more, one wonders why Buffett won’t voluntarily pay about $48 million extra each year in taxes on those dividends to get the rate up to about 30%, which in his mind would be his fair share.

Update (via commenter Greg): “Warren Buffett, hypocrite” –

………Berkshire Hathaway owes back taxes since as long ago as 2002. If Buffett really thinks he and his “mega-rich friends” should pay higher taxes, why doesn’t his firm fork over what it already owes under current rates?

Really, the amounts in dispute are probably far less than what he thinks he and other rich guys should be paying. Why waste the lawyers’ and accountants’ fees and the government’s time?

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“Obamacare,” a term now accepted by the President, is still a loser in the polls, with one of the latest being Rasmussen, where likely voters polled want it repealed by 57-37 (HT Life News).

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For the fourth time in two weeks, a poll supports the notion that Rick Perry is the front-runner for the GOP nomination by double digits, and that Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney is in the midst of a long goodbye.

The real debate within the GOP should be over whether Rick Perry is the best person to promote the sensible conservatism (a redundant term) inherent in the values and positions of Tea Party sympathizers. Mitt Romney isn’t in that conversation, and isn’t even trying to be in that conversation.

Update, 9:30 p.m.: My oh my. Even though it’s Zogby (HT Hot Air), the numbers are worth noting. Perry 41, the next four 40 (Romney 12, Paul 11, Bachmann 9, Cain 8). But in a one-on-one vs. Obama, the best performer among the top five declared candidates, at 46-41, is Michele Bachmann. ORPINO (the Ohio Republican Party In Name Only) and other GOP establishment types will be displeased to know that Mitt Romney (at 40-45) is the worst.

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Okay, we’re overdoing it on the polls, but the obvious snarky response to this is too irresistible: “One in four Democrats wants to dump Obama.”

That should read: “One in four Democrats admits to wanting to dump Obama; many more won’t admit it for fear of being labeled a raaaaaaaacist.”

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From the “Words Fail” Dept.: “President Obama’s uncle had Social Security ID” — and a driver’s license. Since 1992. Oh, and he’s “the subject of a previous deportation order.”

Next thing you know, someone’s going figure out that he’s been voting.

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Of course it is (“A Social Security system Bernie Madoff would love”):

A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment plan that pays returns to investors with their own money, rather than with actual profits. It lures investors with higher-than-usual payouts — money coming, of course, from new investors.

Since Ponzi schemes depend on perpetual growth and pay out more than they takes in, they’re ultimately doomed to failure. The only question is how much money a scammer can pilfer before the pyramid crashes down or the law sniffs the scheme out.

… Whether or not a Ponzi scheme and Social Security share much in common rests on whether one accepts the fundamental premise that Social Security’s benefits are guaranteed.

The author makes some good points, but didn’t get to the heart of things:

  • There’s no debate over whether today’s taxes from workers are used to pay today’s retirees. They are.
  • There’s no debate over whether taxes being collected from workers are enough to pay today’s retirees. They aren’t. Taxpayers in general are making up the currently $50 billion a year difference — the equivalent of one Bernie Madoff scandal annually; thanks to the recession and subsequent “Rebound? What Rebound?” recovery, that situation isn’t projected to turn around. In other words, the Ponzi scheme has already failed, and the country as a whole is covering its losses.
  • Finally, there’s no debate over whether Social Security benefits are guaranteed. They aren’t. The courts have said so, as noted at the link: “[W]orkers have no contractual or property rights to any benefits whatsoever.”

Additionally, the fact that Social Security’s annual shortfalls are being “covered” with deficit spending means that today’s taxpayers and generations yet unborn are paying current retirees’ retirement benefits.

Positivity: Rhode Island 9/11 Mass to honor the fallen

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:40 am

From Providence:

Aug 28, 2011 / 01:06 pm

While the nation was forever changed by the events of Sept.11, 2001, comparably few know personally the feeling of having lost someone they had known in the terrorist attacks of that day.

In 1996, Linda George had graduated from Providence College. After college, she landed a good job with T.J. Maxx, her friend and fellow P.C. alum Mike Manning remembers. On Sept. 11, George was headed from Boston to the West Coast on a business trip, a trip cut short when terrorists targeted New York’s World Trade Center with the aircraft she was flying on, killing everyone on board. In all, nearly 3,000 people would die that day in New York City, at the Pentagon, as well as in a desolate field in Shanksville, Pa.

“She was a great friend of mine,” said Manning, who graduated from P.C. in 1997 and then joined the army.

Maj. Manning, who serves as the legislative liaison for the Rhode land National Guard, has joined several of his colleagues from the armed forces in working with the Diocese of Providence to plan a Mass to mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

“This is a day for us to take pause, to take a knee and remember those who were lost,” Manning said.

“We’ve been at war for 10 years now. It’s important to mark this significant event.”

The Mass of Remembrance and Blessing will be held on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 1 p.m. at the Cathedral of SS. Peter & Paul in Providence. All are invited to attend.

Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin will preside over the Mass, while Chaplain Col. Father Robert L. Marciano, state command chaplain of the Rhode Island National Guard, will serve as the homilist.

Father Marciano was one of several chaplains who suited up and waded through the wreckage from the Pentagon attack to offer prayers for the dead as the remains of the 184 victims there were recovered.

“At the end of the Mass, there will be a roll call of heroes read,” said Fr. Marciano, noting one of the most poignant moments planned around the service.

The Mass is being said for all citizens and members of the police, fire and military and their families. Personnel from these groups are requested to wear their uniforms for the Mass. Representatives of different branches of the military will present the colors at the beginning of Mass.

“The Mass promises to be a very beautiful and prayerful event for our whole church community,” said Bishop Tobin. …

Go here for the rest of the story.