Not All Talk Is Cheap

Not All Talk Is Cheap
By the Editors

We would wager that President Obama’s speech will go over well. Much of it sounded good to us. The president says that he does not believe in big government and, indeed, wants to abolish ineffective government programs. He seeks to avoid as much as possible bailing out irresponsible homeowners, bankers, and automakers. He promises to stand up against protectionism. He claims that nobody making less than $250,000 a year will pay a single dime more in taxes. He favors tax-free universal savings accounts for retirement. He is, judging from the speech, uninterested in promoting social liberalism. And even where we disagreed with what he said, he usually made a cogent, reasonable-sounding case for his position.

He lost us, however, on “nobody messes with Joe.” People don’t mess with Joe Biden because they’re busy ridiculing him. As for the centrist tenor of his remarks, we confess to being among the cynics about whom Obama has so often warned. We do not see how Obama’s cap-and-trade plan to fight global warming, or his plan to tax small businesses for health-care coverage, is compatible with his tax-cut promise in any but the most technical sense. We think Obama’s focus on high-school and college graduation rates, while popular, is precisely wrong, a distraction from the more important task of seeing to it that young people know more and gain more skills. We suspect that Obama’s hope that ailing automakers survive while unwinding unwise commitments would be more likely to come true if his administration permits orderly bankruptcies. We worry that government attempts to nurture the industries of tomorrow have typically failed.

Obama’s comments on foreign policy were platitudinous, and brief: Iraq got a sentence; Afghanistan shared one with Pakistan. Obama’s heart lies elsewhere. We were told that the U.S. should “not shun the negotiating table,” as though the last administration had. Perhaps someone can brief Obama on the progress of the six-party talks about North Korea. 

We wonder whether our cynicism may catch on in the months ahead. Obama’s many nods to the residual conservatism of the public may be sincere, but they do not seem to be reflected in his actual program. Nor does the balance of power on Capitol Hill seem likely to result in the moderation of that program.

Obama is often said to be a figure full of promise. Republicans should hold him to account for his best promises, and point out the unpleasant implications of his worst ones. 

National Review Online –


MSNBCer Says “Oh God” Before Jindal Response

FACT CHECK: Obama’s words on home aid ring hollow

 FACT CHECK: Obama’s words on home aid ring hollow


Feb 25, 3:15 AM (ET)


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$27,383 Stimulus ChecksIt’s Official. The Gov Is Giving Away Money! How Much Do You Get?
Obama Is Giving You MoneyRead How I Got a $12K Check From The Economic Stimulus Package.

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama knows Americans are unhappy that the government could rescue people who bought mansions beyond their means.

But his assurance Tuesday night that only the deserving will get help rang hollow.

Even officials in his administration, many supporters of the plan in Congress and the Federal Reserve chairman expect some of that money will go to people who used lousy judgment.

The president skipped over several complex economic circumstances in his speech to Congress – and may have started an international debate among trivia lovers and auto buffs over what country invented the car.

A look at some of his assertions:


OBAMA: “We have launched a housing plan that will help responsible families facing the threat of foreclosure lower their monthly payments and refinance their mortgages. It’s a plan that won’t help speculators or that neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford, but it will help millions of Americans who are struggling with declining home values.”

THE FACTS: If the administration has come up with a way to ensure money only goes to those who got in honest trouble, it hasn’t said so.

Defending the program Tuesday at a Senate hearing, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said it’s important to save those who made bad calls, for the greater good. He likened it to calling the fire department to put out a blaze caused by someone smoking in bed.

“I think the smart way to deal with a situation like that is to put out the fire, save him from his own consequences of his own action but then, going forward, enact penalties and set tougher rules about smoking in bed.”

Similarly, the head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. suggested this month it’s not likely aid will be denied to all homeowners who overstated their income or assets to get a mortgage they couldn’t afford.

“I think it’s just simply impractical to try to do a forensic analysis of each and every one of these delinquent loans,” Sheila Bair told National Public Radio.

OBAMA: “And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.”

THE FACTS: Depends what your definition of automobiles, is. According to the Library of Congress, the inventor of the first true automobile was probably Germany’s Karl Benz, who created the first auto powered by an internal combustion gasoline engine, in 1885 or 1886. In the U.S., Charles Duryea tested what library researchers called the first successful gas-powered car in 1893. Nobody disputes that Henry Ford created the first assembly line that made cars affordable.

OBAMA: “We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy. Yet we import more oil today than ever before.”

THE FACTS: Oil imports peaked in 2005 at just over 5 billion barrels, and have been declining slightly since. The figure in 2007 was 4.9 billion barrels, or about 58 percent of total consumption. The nation is on pace this year to import 4.7 billion barrels, and government projections are for imports to hold steady or decrease a bit over the next two decades.

OBAMA: “We have already identified $2 trillion in savings over the next decade.”

THE FACTS: Although 10-year projections are common in government, they don’t mean much. And at times, they are a way for a president to pass on the most painful steps to his successor, by putting off big tax increases or spending cuts until someone else is in the White House.

Obama only has a real say on spending during the four years of his term. He may not be president after that and he certainly won’t be 10 years from now.

OBAMA: “Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.”

THE FACTS: This may be so, but it isn’t only Republicans who pushed for deregulation of the financial industries. The Clinton administration championed an easing of banking regulations, including legislation that ended the barrier between regular banks and Wall Street banks. That led to a deregulation that kept regular banks under tight federal regulation but extended lax regulation of Wall Street banks. Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, later an economic adviser to candidate Obama, was in the forefront in pushing for this deregulation.

OBAMA: “In this budget, we will end education programs that don’t work and end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don’t need them. We’ll eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq, and reform our defense budget so that we’re not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don’t use. We will root out the waste, fraud and abuse in our Medicare program that doesn’t make our seniors any healthier, and we will restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code by finally ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas.”

THE FACTS: First, his budget does not accomplish any of that. It only proposes those steps. That’s all a president can do, because control over spending rests with Congress. Obama’s proposals here are a wish list and some items, including corporate tax increases and cuts in agricultural aid, will be a tough sale in Congress.

Second, waste, fraud and abuse are routinely targeted by presidents who later find that the savings realized seldom amount to significant sums. Programs that a president might consider wasteful have staunch defenders in Congress who have fought off similar efforts in the past.

OBAMA: “Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years.”

THE FACTS: While the president’s stimulus package includes billions in aid for renewable energy and conservation, his goal is unlikely to be achieved through the recovery plan alone.

In 2007, the U.S. produced 8.4 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, including hydroelectric dams, solar panels and windmills. Under the status quo, the Energy Department says, it will take more than two decades to boost that figure to 12.5 percent.

If Obama is to achieve his much more ambitious goal, Congress would need to mandate it. That is the thrust of an energy bill that is expected to be introduced in coming weeks.

OBAMA: “Over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs.”

THE FACTS: This is a recurrent Obama formulation. But job creation projections are uncertain even in stable times, and some of the economists relied on by Obama in making his forecast acknowledge a great deal of uncertainty in their numbers.

The president’s own economists, in a report prepared last month, stated, “It should be understood that all of the estimates presented in this memo are subject to significant margins of error.”

Beyond that, it’s unlikely the nation will ever know how many jobs are saved as a result of the stimulus. While it’s clear when jobs are abolished, there’s no economic gauge that tracks job preservation. The estimates are based on economic assumptions of how many jobs would be lost without the stimulus.

Associated Press writers Tom Raum, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Dina Cappiello contributed to this story

Wall St. drops on misgivings about Obama speech

Wall St. drops on misgivings about Obama speech

  • Wednesday February 25, 2009, 10:08 am EST

By Ellis Mnyandu

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks fell on Wednesday due to disappointment U.S. President Barack Obama shed little new light about how his administration would stabilize the economy in a major speech before Congress.

Long-standing worries about recession and the fate of the banking sector persisted, sending shares of financial services companies, big manufacturers and energy companies lower.

Bank of America (NYSE:BACNews) shares fell 9.3 percent to $4.29 following news that Merrill Lynch & Co lost $15.84 billion in the fourth quarter, about $533 million more than previously estimated by Bank of America, which bought the Wall Street bank.

Shares of Citigroup (NYSE:CNews) fell more than 14 percent to $2.22 following reports that the bank may sell both its Japanese investment bank and brokerage as the embattled U.S. lender looks to raise cash from a sale of global assets.

“The market is starving for something tangible on which to hang its hat,” said Andre Bakhos, president of Princeton Financial Group in New Brunswick, New Jersey. “There was little of anything tangible in Obama’s speech to bring hope to the market today.”

The Dow Jones industrial average (DJI:^DJINews) fell 90.64 points, or 1.23 percent, to 7,260.30. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (^SPXNews) shed 9.41 points, or 1.22 percent, to 763.73. The Nasdaq Composite Index (Nasdaq:^IXICNews) lost 16.26 points, or 1.13 percent, to 1,425.57.

Late on Tuesday Obama sought to reassure Americans the country would emerge stronger from the crisis but investors found little in his speech that could help the market sustain its attempted rebound on Tuesday from 12-year lows.

U.S. regulators are due to begin stress tests on Wednesday to determine how much capital banks need. Even so, investors remain uncertain about how the government would relieve banks of money-losing assets and revive lending.

The economic calendar features a report on January existing home sales, due at 10 a.m..

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is back on Capitol Hill at the same time to testify again on the economy, this time to the U.S. House Financial Services Committee.

(Editing by James Dalgleish)

Who invented the automobile? Obama claims it was the United States. History 101 Score: F.


Who invented the automobile? Obama claims it was the United States. History 101 Score: F.


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President Obama gave his first speech to Congress this evening to talk up the bailout and his administration’s policies on everything from foreign policy to manufacturing.

The short version of the speech goes like this. Bailout, money, banks, more money, wars, more money, Gitmo, lead by example, more money.

But there was one line in the speech that is raising eyebrows:

“And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.”

We could be flippant and suggest that given how grossly inaccurate the line is, that maybe the US Government should walk away from the industry.

For the record, the answer to the question who invented the automobile is Karl Benz in Germany in 1885-86. If we want to be more pedantic, Benz invented the first true automobile, that is a car that runs on gasoline. The first “horseless carriage” was created by Frenchman Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot in 1769 (steam powered) and a Scot by the name of Robert Anderson created an electric vehicle in the 1830s. The first automobile made in the United States came along in 1893.

Obama: I’m The Greatest President In History

Obama: I’m The Greatest President In History

February 24th, 2009 Posted By Pat Dollard.


Psychopathic narcissist.

Now you know the real reason for the rush on the stimulus bill. President Black Narcissus, thinking only of his greater glorification and empowerment, was thinking about one thing only in his push to pass the stimulus bill, and it wasn’t the quality of its contents. It was the fact that he wanted to give a de-facto state of the Union address in February in which he could boast of being greater than any other who had held the office before him.

ABC News:

Obama Claim: Done More in 30 Days Than Any Other President

The Obama administration is going into tonight’s pivotal speech to Congress with the belief that President Obama has accomplished more in the first 30 days in office than any modern president.

The president will give the nation a “sober assessment” about the status of the country’s economy tonight as he assures Americans that there are “better days ahead,” according to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Obama will address a joint meeting of Congress tonight in a speech that will be shown live on national television, giving the president a chance to sketch out his agenda for the country after having authorized a massive $787 billion stimulus package as well as a $75 billionhomeowner bailout.

It will also allow the administration to brag a bit.

“President Obama has accomplished more in 30 days than any president in modern history,” a senior White House official said today in a background briefing.

Besides the economic spending, the senior official pointed to the passage of children’s health insurance, and requirements in the stimulus bill that made major changes in energy, education and tax policies, the official said, describing the bill as a “major paydown” on what candidate Obama ran on. The provisions in the bill promoting energy independence, the official said, constitute “the largest energy independence investment policy ever in the U.S.,” and maybe even in the world

U.S. plans “substantial” pledge at Gaza meeting

U.S. plans “substantial” pledge at Gaza meeting

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States plans to offer more than $900 million to help rebuild Gaza after Israel’s invasion and to strengthen the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, U.S. officials said on Monday.

The money, which needs U.S. congressional approval, will be distributed through U.N. and other bodies and not via the militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, said one official.

“This money is for Gaza and to help strengthen the Palestinian Authority. It is not going to go to Hamas,” said the official, who asked not to be named as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton planned to announce the funding at a donors’ conference in Egypt next week.

Neither the United States nor Israel have direct contact with the Islamist Hamas movement which runs Gaza and remains formally committed to the destruction of the Jewish state.

The official said the pledge was a mix of money already earmarked for the Palestinians and some new funding.

“The package is still shaping up,” he said, when asked for specifics over how the money would be spent and a breakdown of old and new funding.

In December, the former Bush administration said it would give $85 million to the U.N. agency that provides aid to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

The March 2 donors’ conference in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh resort aims to raise humanitarian and rebuilding funds for Gaza after Israel’s invasion last December to suppress rocket fire against its cities.

Preliminary estimates put damage from the offensive, in which 1,300 Palestinians died, at nearly $2 billion.

Clinton’s bid to get “substantial” funds could face an uphill battle in Congress because Hamas continues to rule Gaza and the U.S. focus is on its own souring economy.


Part of the goal of the new funding is to boost the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas, which controls the occupied West Bank.

The United States wants Abbas’s PA to play a central role in the reconstruction effort in Gaza, hoping this will increase its influence in the Hamas stronghold. Washington is also putting pressure on other donors to bolster Abbas.

“We call on donor countries to focus their pledges to meet the Palestinian Authority’s priorities, including budget support, and on projects that can be funded through the Palestinian Authority and other existing, trusted mechanisms,” said a State Department official.

The quartet of Middle East mediators — the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations — are expected to meet on the sidelines of the Egyptian conference where they will work on strategy on Gaza, U.S. officials said.

After attending the conference in Egypt, Clinton is expected to go to Israel and the West Bank — a public demonstration of Obama’s promise to make Arab-Israeli peacemaking a foreign policy priority.

Clinton’s special envoy to the region, George Mitchell, will be there this week trying to revive stalled Palestinian statehood talks complicated both by Hamas and political uncertainty in Israel after last week’s election.

(Editing by Vicki Allen and Alan Elsner)