Cartoon of the Day: Obama’s Plan to Drown the Rich

Cartoon of the Day: Obama’s Plan to Drown the Rich

August 18th, 2010

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Why Obamanomics Has Failed

Why Obamanomics Has Failed

June 30th, 2010

By ALLAN H. MELTZER, The Wall Street Journal

The administration’s stimulus program has failed. Growth is slow and unemployment remains high. The president, his friends and advisers talk endlessly about the circumstances they inherited as a way of avoiding responsibility for the 18 months for which they are responsible.

But they want new stimulus measures—which is convincing evidence that they too recognize that the earlier measures failed. And so the U.S. was odd-man out at the G-20 meeting over the weekend, continuing to call for more government spending in the face of European resistance.

The contrast with President Reagan’s antirecession and pro-growth measures in 1981 is striking. Reagan reduced marginal and corporate tax rates and slowed the growth of nondefense spending. Recovery began about a year later. After 18 months, the economy grew more than 9% and it continued to expand above trend rates.

Two overarching reasons explain the failure of Obamanomics. First, administration economists and their outside supporters neglected the longer-term costs and consequences of their actions. Second, the administration and Congress have through their deeds and words heightened uncertainty about the economic future. High uncertainty is the enemy of investment and growth.

Most of the earlier spending was a very short-term response to long-term problems. One piece financed temporary tax cuts. This was a mistake, and ignores the role of expectations in the economy. Economic theory predicts that temporary tax cuts have little effect on spending. Unless tax cuts are expected to last, consumers save the proceeds and pay down debt. Experience with past temporary tax reductions, as in the Carter and first Bush presidencies, confirms this outcome.

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The perfect society: A land without wealth?

The perfect society: A land without wealth?

Anthony W. Hager

Utopia! It’s the holy grail of egalitarian busybodies far and wide. If only outcomes were equal, as defined by the egalitarians themselves, the world would become a place of balanced chi and seamless harmony. These societal engineers have long believed in their unique intellects and superlative abilities, which qualify them to distribute wealth and contentment to a longing world. Sadly, there’s no shortage of these do-gooders.

A New York State Assemblyman envisions an increased millionaire tax. If passed, high income earners–who already bear a disproportionate share of New York’s tax burden–will pitch in an additional 11-percent. The broken record known as Hillary Clinton still laments how “the rich” don’t pay their “fair share” of taxes. Oregon, too, has joined the chorus.

Earlier this year Oregon voters passed Measures 66 and 67, raising taxes on individuals and businesses that wealth redistributors, in their profundity, have deemed excessive winners in life’s lottery. Typical class envy tactics preceded that electoral outcome. Proponents argued that education, public safety and health would suffer if the initiatives failed. The poor, naturally, would take it on the chin.

The entire premise of a perceived “fair share” is ambiguous at best. Would the egalitarian consider taxation equitable if the “rich” surrender, say, 75-percent of their income to government? Hillary Clinton, Oregon voters and New York assemblymen might think so. But anyone with a toehold on reality understands that productive people shoulder the tax burden now. The top one-percent of earners pays 28-percent of federal income taxes. Additionally, over the last 30 years the taxation on incomes above $75,000 has steadily increased while declining on incomes below that threshold.

Arguing that wealthier Americans pay little or no taxes is misleading. No, make that an outright lie. And that’s not the only mischaracterization offered by the “soak the rich” crowd.

In promoting Measures 66 and 67 the Oregon Center for Public Policy claimed that “asking” Oregonians to “contribute” more in taxes would improve the state’s fiscal structure. Certainly some taxation is necessary for governments to execute legitimate functions. But referring to tax increases as “asking” people to “contribute” is unadulterated spin, sufficient to strain even the strongest gastronomical constitution. And it’s so typical of the egalitarian social engineer.

Charitable organizations solicit contributions, and contributors alone determine their level of participation. No such choice exists with taxation. Tax levies aren’t a request on government’s part, and taxes aren’t contributed sans duress. Taxes are compulsory and their collection is ultimately a matter of force.
 
Sadly, there’s little to be achieved in arguing taxation with egalitarians. Redistributionists are so devoted to equalizing all incomes and imposing their Marxist vision on society that debate has become futile. Equally futile are the protests of the productive, whose incomes are sacrificed upon the perverse altar of egalitarianism. The producer’s right to their production will never match the needs of the oppressed when it comes to conjuring empathy. Therefore the “rich” are safely marginalized, demonized and dismissed.

What would happen if busybodies like Hillary Clinton, New York legislators and Oregon voters fulfill their collectivist dreams? If there were no private wealth the economy would become void of capital investment. Innovation and production would decelerate, with a corresponding decline in employment and living standards. The resulting misery would create greater demand on government, which puts the do-gooders in position to distribute the remaining wealth as they so determine. They will achieve their socialist dreams, but only for a season.

Such idealism has no foundation upon which to build. Since government produces little, and that which is produced is a case study in inefficiency, the egalitarian society is doomed to failure. Only the most influential busybodies will benefit from their societal and economic transformation. The rank and file do-gooder will be destined to impoverished servitude alongside their once-wealthy neighbors, whose property they helped confiscate.

So goes the nation without private wealth. Utopia? I think not.


Anthony W. Hager has authored more than 200 published articles for various newspapers, periodicals and websites. He can be reached through his website, www.therightslant.com

$7-a-gallon gas?

$7-a-gallon gas?

By BEN LIEBERMAN

Last Updated: 4:22 AM, June 18, 2010

Posted: 12:02 AM, June 18, 2010

President Obama has a solution to the Gulf oil spill: $7-a-gallon gas.

That’s a Harvard University study’s estimate of the per-gallon price of the president’s global-warming agenda. And Obama made clear this week that this agenda is a part of his plan for addressing the Gulf mess.

So what does global-warming legislation have to do with the oil spill?

Good question, because such measures wouldn’t do a thing to clean up the oil or fix the problems that led to the leak.

The answer can be found in Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s now-famous words, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste — and what I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”

That sure was true of global-warming policy, and especially the cap-and-trade bill. Many observers thought the measure, introduced last year in the House by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), was dead: The American people didn’t seem to think that the so-called global-warming crisis justified a price-hiking, job-killing, economy-crushing redesign of our energy supply amid a fragile recovery. Passing another major piece of legislation, one every bit as unpopular as ObamaCare, appeared unlikely in an election year.

So Obama and congressional proponents of cap-and-trade spent several months rebranding it — downplaying the global-warming rationale and claiming that it was really a jobs bill (the so-called green jobs were supposed to spring from the new clean-energy economy) and an energy-independence bill (that will somehow stick it to OPEC).

Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) even reportedly declined to introduce their new cap-and-trade proposal in the Senate on Earth Day, because they wanted to de-emphasize the global-warming message. Instead, Kerry called the American Power Act “a plan that creates jobs and sets us on a course toward energy independence and economic resurgence.”

But the new marketing strategy wasn’t working. Few believe the green-jobs hype — with good reason. In Spain, for example, green jobs have been an expensive bust, with each position created requiring, on average, $774,000 in government subsidies. And the logic of getting us off oil imports via a unilateral measure that punishes American coal, oil and natural gas never made any sense at all.

Now the president is repackaging cap-and-trade — again — as a long-term solution to the oil spill. But it’s the same old agenda, a huge energy tax that will raise the cost of gasoline and electricity high enough so that we’re forced to use less.

The logic linking cap-and-trade to the spill in the Gulf should frighten anyone who owns a car or truck. Such measures force up the price at the pump — Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs thinks it “may require gas prices greater than $7 a gallon by 2020” to meet Obama’s stated goal of reducing emissions 14 percent from the transportation sector.

Of course, doing so would reduce gasoline use and also raise market share for hugely expensive alternative fuels and vehicles that could never compete otherwise. Less gasoline demand means less need for drilling and thus a slightly reduced chance of a repeat of the Deepwater Horizon spill — but only slightly. Oil will still be a vital part of America’s energy mix.

Oil-spill risks should be addressed directly — such as finding out why the leak occurred and requiring new preventive measures or preparing an improved cleanup plan for the next incident. Cap-and-trade is no fix and would cause trillions of dollars in collateral economic damage along the way.

Emanuel was wrong. The administration shouldn’t view each crisis — including the oil spill — as an opportunity to be exploited, but as a problem to be addressed. And America can’t afford $7-a-gallon gas.

Ben Lieberman is senior anal yst of energy and environmental policy in The Heritage Founda tion’s Roe Institute.

Elderly and Expendable

Elderly and Expendable

Posted By Tait Trussell On June 17, 2010 @ 12:01 am In FrontPage | 6 Comments

The Obama Administration and the President’s pals in Congress have been on a deliberate course to write off America’s senior citizens as a lost cause politically. This decision is based on an internal Democrat study indicating that seniors don’t trust Obama.

The Democrats, in fact, have stiffed the country’s seniors: ranging from multi-billion dollar cuts in Medicare [1] to driving physicians to drop seniors as patients by delaying [2] and cutting federal reimbursements to such medical specialists as cardiologists and oncologists, who treat the biggest killers of seniors–heart disease and cancer.

The disdain toward seniors has included cuts in home health care [3] and payments to hospitals to new taxes on medical devices [4] on which many seniors depend. Add to this: increases in the medicare tax [5] on some working seniors and cancellation of the traditional cost-of-living boost to Social Security checks [6] for 2010 and 2011.

During the stretched-out debate over the new health law, seniors  continually heard that Medicare would be slashed by $500 billion. The final bill’s provisions included $132 billion chopped from Medicare Advantage, [7] the enhanced private version of Medicare in which 25 percent of seniors are enrolled.

Implemented over 10 years, it would chip away at their benefits and worry old folks that lower payments will force health providers to stop taking new Medicare patients.

“From all I have been able to tell so far, it’s going to hurt,” said Dalton, Ga., resident Horton Herrin, 72. The retired Georgia state employee has a private Medicare Advantage plan that is targeted for cuts under the health reform package.

Even though Obama’s 2008 election was historic in many ways his performance among seniors [8] (age 65 and over) provided one of the few low points. Exit pools showed that Obama lost to John McCain among seniors 45 to 53 percent.

According to an important 2009 analysis by Democracy Corps, founded by Democrat strategists [9] Stan Greenberg and James Carville, “The central reason that white seniors did not support Obama is that they feared the type of change he would bring. They remained skeptical about whose side Obama was on, distrusted him generally, and specifically were concerned about this level of experience. These feelings that hold white seniors back from Obama were particularly true among white senior men and seniors without a college degree….”

A recent Rasmussen Poll [10] found that 59 percent of voting seniors favor repeal of the ObamaCare law. Well aware of this skepticism of the President’s policies, Obama is certainly not depending on seniors as part of his political support base.

The latest move irking the aging was when the Senate went on Memorial Day vacation without fixing the cut in payments to doctors for Medicare patients. Seniors didn’t know if their doctor bills would be paid. As American Medical Association (AMA) President [11] James Rohack said: “The U.S. Senate turned its back on our nation’s seniors and physicians who care for them by going on vacation…without making a fix in the federal reimbursement rate for doctors who care for Medicare recipients.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) sent letters to doctors informing them that the agency had told Medicare contractors to delay processing Medicare claims for 10 business days. This was to give Congress time to fix the reimbursement legislation. But it left Medicare patients wondering if and when Medicare would pay for a visit to their doctor.

So, some seniors worried from Memorial Day until June 14 when CMS contractors were allowed to begin claims processing [12] since the threatened 21 percent cut to Medicare physicians’ payment rates had been set in the House, but still not determined in the Senate. The American College of Cardiology [13] CEO Jack Lewin branded the Senate’s failure to act “the worst-case scenario for patients and physicians.”

The Administration is further causing seniors to fret in naming a new administrator for Medicare and Medicaid [14] who believes fervently in rationing care. Dr. Donald Berwick, President Obama’s choice to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is president of the Institute of Healthcare Improvement and professor at Harvard Medical School. “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care. The decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open,” he has said.

Dr. Berwick made that statement when discussing duties of the Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER). That body was part of the original $787 billion stimulus law. CER was created to evaluate the cost of medical treatments and their outcome.  Dr. Berwick is enamored with the British system of health care, particularly the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), which is, as TIME magazine described it: “a rationing panel for British patients.” Dr. Berwick also has been quoted as saying: “I am a romantic about the (British) National Health Service. [15] I love it.”

He also has been quoted as saying “If I could wave a magic want…health care (would be) a common good—single payer (system) a nonnegotiable starting place.” Britain’s CER model “calculates a treatment by quality-adjusted life years, refusing to pay for a treatment…” costing a certain amount that doesn’t “extend a patient’s life by at least one year.”

Of course, Obama hasn’t given up completely on any possible voters in the next presidential race. His Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius sent out a slick four-color folder in May to all Medicare recipients [16] in the U.S. saying the new health law “will provide you and your family greater savings and increased quality care…so that you, and your family, and doctor—not insurance companies—have greater control over your care.”

Republican Senate leaders called it propaganda and inaccurate. They demanded that Sebelius tell who commissioned the message and approved the money to mail it. A request to CMS for the cost of the folder and it mailing is still pending.

Was Obamacare designed for ‘distribution of wealth’?

Was Obamacare designed for ‘distribution of wealth’?

June 15th, 2010

World Net Daily

Obama Planned to use Healthcare to distribute wealth?

A convicted felon and political consultant with close ties to the Obama administration helped provide a blueprint for the president’s health-care legislation, a recently released book exposes.

The book reveals Robert Creamer, husband of Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., who was one of Capitol Hill’s most visible cheerleaders for Obama’s health-care bill, later wrote his health-care platform and declared strategies are not about “policies” – “they are about the distribution of wealth and power.”

Creamer also recommended the president “create” a national consensus that the country’s health-care system is in a state of crisis in order to push a radical new health-care plan…

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Economic Cluelessness

Economic Cluelessness

Posted By Larry Elder On June 11, 2010 @ 12:20 am In FrontPage | 14 Comments

While in high school, I was standing at a bus stop next to a gas station. A kid tossed a candy wrapper on the station lot. Somebody yelled, “Hey, pick that up.” The kid, with a straight face, defended himself. He said, “I just created a job.” Someone would be hired, he explained, to pick up the trash, and this would be good for the economy.

Don’t laugh. The kid probably works for the Obama administration.

Congress is now considering yet another “stimulus” package. But did the administration’s previous one work? Of the $787 billion stimulus package, President Obama said it would “save or create” 3.5 million new jobs. Has it?

The National Association for Business Economics polled 68 private-sector members. Seventy-three percent said the employment at their companies was neither higher nor lower as a result of the stimulus package.

What about the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office? A February 2009 Washington Times article said:

“President Obama’s economic recovery package will actually hurt the economy more in the long run than if he were to do nothing, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.

“CBO, the official scorekeepers for legislation, said the House and Senate bills will help in the short term but result in so much government debt that within a few years they would crowd out private investment, actually leading to a lower Gross Domestic Product over the next 10 years than if the government had done nothing.”

What do normal, regular, real-world people think? In December 2009, a Rasmussen poll asked likely voters whether the “stimulus” helped, hurt or did nothing.

They agreed with the private-sector economists and the CBO — the stimulus did not work. And more felt it did damage than thought it helped: “A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 30 percent of voters nationwide believe the $787-billion economic stimulus plan has helped the economy. However, 38 percent believe that the stimulus plan has hurt the economy. This is the first time since the legislation passed that a plurality has held a negative view of its impact.”

Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and commentator Ed we-need-health-care-reform-and-I-don’t-care-how-much-it-costs Schultz think one way. Believers in the free market and limited government think another. As between these two camps, which one better understands how the real world works?

Zogby International asked questions about economics of nearly 5,000 people. George Mason University economist Dan Klein co-authored a report on the responses given to eight basic economic questions.

(Correct answers and “not sure” responses were ignored — only flatly incorrect responses were counted.) Do housing restrictions increase the price of housing? The answer is yes. Whether the restrictions are good or bad is a separate issue. But restrictions on any good increase the price of that good — whether houses or horseshoes. Do minimum wages increase unemployment? The answer is yes. Whether one accepts this as a worthy trade-off is a separate question. Is our standard of living higher than it was 30 years ago? It is. Whether we are “addicted” to oil or facing cataclysmic “global warming” is a separate issue. The other questions involved licensing, rent control, the definition of a monopoly, the definition of exploitation, and whether free trade leads to unemployment.

Respondents self-identified as progressive/very liberal, liberal, moderate, conservative, very conservative, or libertarian. Who did better?

“On every question,” wrote Klein, “the left did much worse. On the monopoly question, the portion of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly (31 percent) was more than twice that of conservatives (13 percent) and more than four times that of libertarians (7 percent). On the question about living standards, the portion of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly (61 percent) was more than four times that of conservatives (13 percent) and almost three times that of libertarians (21 percent).”

Maybe those with more education performed better? No, the report said. “We work with three levels of schooling: (1) high school or less; (2) some college (but not a degree); (3) a college degree or more. In our data, economic enlightenment is not correlated with going to college.”

The left blames the financial collapse on “greed,” ignoring the role played by government involvement — Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae, the Federal Housing Administration, the Community Reinvestment Act and elsewhere. Leftists point to “insufficient regulation” on Wall Street for reckless behavior, rather than to the players’ assumption that too-big-to-fail would protect them.

On the BP Gulf oil spill, Obama wants to find “whose ass to kick.” He’s called for a moratorium on new offshore drilling. But why do we drill offshore for oil more than a mile deep? Is it that on-land and safer, shallow water areas are off-limits — thus pushing companies to extract oil from more dangerous places? Have the restrictions on clean nuclear power altered how and where we obtain energy?

Republicans, in the eight-question economics poll, averaged 1.61 incorrect answers. Democrats averaged 4.59 wrong answers. So in the President’s search for “ass to kick,” start here.

Larry Elder is a syndicated radio talk show host and best-selling author. His latest book, “What’s Race Got to Do with It?” is available now. To find out more about Larry Elder, visit his Web page at http://www.WeveGotACountryToSave.com.