Galluping Inability

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

According to Gallup, here are the job approval numbers for other presidents at this stage of their terms, a year before the re-election campaign:

— Harry S. Truman: 54 percent.

— Dwight Eisenhower: 78 percent.

— Lyndon B. Johnson: 44 percent.

— Richard M. Nixon: 50 percent.

— Ronald Reagan: 54 percent.

— George H.W. Bush: 52 percent.

— Bill Clinton: 51 percent.

— George W. Bush: 55 percent.

Barack Hussein Obama  43 Percent

What’s more, Gallup finds that Obama’s overall job approval rating so far has averaged 49 percent. Only three former presidents have had a worse average rating at this stage: Carter, Ford, and Harry S. Truman. Only Truman won re-election in an anti-Congress campaign that Obama’s team is using as a model.

Heard last night on MSDNC on the Rachael “Mad Cow” Maddow show Barney Frank’s advice to President Obama on his re-election (where Obama has had 54 events in the 42 days) was to run against the Republicans pointing out that “they are nuts”.

Thanks Barney, it sounds very much like the one I have been saying for a very long time — “Vote for Me, the Other guy’s an asshole!”

The fact that the Democrats are more nuts doesn’t come into it. After all, most extreme liberals think they are “centrists” and the “extremists” are anyone that isn’t them (aka Republicans, Independents, and Conservatives).

Then there’s this: Which is Brilliant and to the Point.

Debt scale update: The U.S. government is already borrowing every three days what all of America spent on Black Friday. And that was the biggest Black Friday on record.

In the last three years, the president has taught us a great deal about America, the world, and himself.

Before Obama, many Americans still believed in massive deficit spending, whether as an article of fairness, a means to economic growth, or just a lazy fallback position to justify an out-of-control federal government. But after the failure of a nearly $800 billion “stimulus” program — intended to keep unemployment under 8 percent — no one believes any more that an already indebted government will foster economic growth by taking on another $4 trillion in debt. In other words, “stimulus” is mostly a dead concept. The president — much as he advised a barnstorming President Bush in 2005 to cease pushing Social Security reform on a reluctant population — should give it up and junk the new $500 billion program euphemistically designated as a “jobs bill.”

Obama has also taught us that prominent government intervention into the private sector often makes things worse, and invites crony-capitalist corruption. Nearly three years into this administration, it is striking how seldom Barack Obama brags about Cash for Clunkers, the Chrysler and GM bailouts, or Solyndra. He either is quiet about them or sort of shrugs, as if to say, “Stuff happens.” Even creative bookkeeping cannot mask the fact that the auto-company bailouts (begun, to be sure, by the Bush administration, but made worse under Obama) will prove a huge drain on the Treasury. No one even attempts any more to convince us that we will like Obamacare once we read the legislation, or that it will save us costs in the long run, or that it will cheer up businesses so that they will invest and hire. All that was dreamland, 2009, and this is reality, 2011, when we hear only “It could have been worse.”

Obama has also taught us that a president’s name, his father’s religion, his ethnic background, loud denunciations of his predecessor, discomforting efforts to apologize, bow, and contextualize past American actions — none of that does anything to lead to greater peace in the world or security for the United States. And by the same token, George Bush’s drawl, Texas identification, and Christianity did not magically turn allies into neutrals and neutrals into enemies.

The Obama legacy in the War on Terror is as Predator-in-Chief — boldly increasing targeted assassinations tenfold from the Bush era, on the theory that we more or less kill the right suspected terrorists; few civil libertarians care much, apparently because one of their own is doing it.

Even Chris Matthews’s leg has stopped tingling. There will be no more Newsweekcomparisons of Obama to a god. Even the Nobel Prize committee will soon grasp that it tarnished its brand by equating fleeting celebrity with lasting achievement.

“Green” will never be quite the same after Obama. When Solyndra and its affiliated scandals are at last fully brought into the light of day, we will see the logical reification of Climategate I & II, Al Gore’s hucksterism, and Van Jones’s lunacy. How ironic that the more Obama tried to stop drilling in the West, offshore, and in Alaska, as well as stopping the Canadian pipeline, the more the American private sector kept finding oil and gas despite rather than because of the U.S. government. How further ironic that the one area that Obama felt was unnecessary for, or indeed antithetical to, America’s economic recovery — vast new gas and oil finds — will soon turn out to be America’s greatest boon in the last 20 years. While Obama and Energy Secretary Chu still insist on subsidizing money-losing wind and solar concerns, we are in the midst of a revolution that, within 20 years, will reduce or even end the trade deficit, help pay off the national debt, create millions of new jobs, and turn the Western Hemisphere into the new Persian Gulf. The American petroleum revolution can be delayed by Obama, but it cannot be stopped.

One lesson, however, has not fully sunk in and awaits final elucidation in the 2012 election: that of the Chicago style of Barack Obama’s politicking. In 2008 few of the true believers accepted that, in his first political race, in 1996, Barack Obama sued successfully to remove his opponents from the ballot. Or that in his race for the U.S. Senate eight years later, sealed divorced records for both his primary- and general-election opponents were mysteriously leaked by unnamed Chicagoans, leading to the implosions of both candidates’ campaigns. Or that Obama was the first presidential candidate in the history of public campaign financing to reject it, or that he was also the largest recipient of cash from Wall Street in general, and from BP and Goldman Sachs in particular. Or that Obama was the first presidential candidate in recent memory not to disclose either undergraduate records or even partial medical. Or that remarks like “typical white person,” the clingers speech, and the spread-the-wealth quip would soon prove to be characteristic rather than anomalous.

Few American presidents have dashed so many popular, deeply embedded illusions as has Barack Obama. And for that, we owe him a strange sort of thanks. (Victor David Hanson)

But remember, “Vote for me, The other guys nuts!!” 🙂

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

Moral Hazard

Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc-ra-cy)- a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing,and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed,are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

THE $7 Trillion Dollar Secret

The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing.

The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.

Saved by the bailout, bankers lobbied against government regulations, a job made easier by the Fed, which never disclosed the details of the rescue to lawmakers even as Congress doled out more money and debated new rules aimed at preventing the next collapse.

A fresh narrative of the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009 emerges from 29,000 pages of Fed documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and central bank records of more than 21,000 transactions. While Fed officials say that almost all of the loans were repaid and there have been no losses, details suggest taxpayers paid a price beyond dollars as the secret funding helped preserve a broken status quo and enabled the biggest banks to grow even bigger.
‘Change Their Votes’

“When you see the dollars the banks got, it’s hard to make the case these were successful institutions,” says Sherrod Brown, a Democratic Senator from Ohio who in 2010 introduced an unsuccessful bill to limit bank size. “This is an issue that can unite the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. There are lawmakers in both parties who would change their votes now.”

The size of the bailout came to light after Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, won a court case against the Fed and a group of the biggest U.S. banks called Clearing House Association LLC to force lending details into the open.

The Fed, headed by Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, argued that revealing borrower details would create a stigma — investors and counterparties would shun firms that used the central bank as lender of last resort — and that needy institutions would be reluctant to borrow in the next crisis. Clearing House Association fought Bloomberg’s lawsuit up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the banks’ appeal in March 2011.

$7.77 Trillion

The amount of money the central bank parceled out was surprising even to Gary H. Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 1985 to 2009, who says he “wasn’t aware of the magnitude.” It dwarfed the Treasury Department’s better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year.

“TARP at least had some strings attached,” says Brad Miller, a North Carolina Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, referring to the program’s executive-pay ceiling. “With the Fed programs, there was nothing.”

Bankers didn’t disclose the extent of their borrowing. On Nov. 26, 2008, then-Bank of America (BAC) Corp. Chief Executive Officer Kenneth D. Lewis wrote to shareholders that he headed “one of the strongest and most stable major banks in the world.” He didn’t say that his Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm owed the central bank $86 billion that day.
‘Motivate Others’

JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon told shareholders in a March 26, 2010, letter that his bank used the Fed’s Term Auction Facility “at the request of the Federal Reserve to help motivate others to use the system.” He didn’t say that the New York-based bank’s total TAF borrowings were almost twice its cash holdings or that its peak borrowing of $48 billion on Feb. 26, 2009, came more than a year after the program’s creation.

Howard Opinsky, a spokesman for JPMorgan (JPM), declined to comment about Dimon’s statement or the company’s Fed borrowings. Jerry Dubrowski, a spokesman for Bank of America, also declined to comment.

The Fed has been lending money to banks through its so- called discount window since just after its founding in 1913. Starting in August 2007, when confidence in banks began to wane, it created a variety of ways to bolster the financial system with cash or easily traded securities. By the end of 2008, the central bank had established or expanded 11 lending facilities catering to banks, securities firms and corporations that couldn’t get short-term loans from their usual sources.
‘Core Function’

“Supporting financial-market stability in times of extreme market stress is a core function of central banks,” says William B. English, director of the Fed’s Division of Monetary Affairs. “Our lending programs served to prevent a collapse of the financial system and to keep credit flowing to American families and businesses.”

The Fed has said that all loans were backed by appropriate collateral. That the central bank didn’t lose money should “lead to praise of the Fed, that they took this extraordinary step and they got it right,” says Phillip Swagel, a former assistant Treasury secretary under Henry M. Paulson and now a professor of international economic policy at the University of Maryland.

The Fed initially released lending data in aggregate form only. Information on which banks borrowed, when, how much and at what interest rate was kept from public view.

The secrecy extended even to members of President George W. Bush’s administration who managed TARP. Top aides to Paulson weren’t privy to Fed lending details during the creation of the program that provided crisis funding to more than 700 banks, say two former senior Treasury officials who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak.
Big Six

The Treasury Department relied on the recommendations of the Fed to decide which banks were healthy enough to get TARP money and how much, the former officials say. The six biggest U.S. banks, which received $160 billion of TARP funds, borrowed as much as $460 billion from the Fed, measured by peak daily debt calculated by Bloomberg using data obtained from the central bank. Paulson didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The six — JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup Inc. (C), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Morgan Stanley — accounted for 63 percent of the average daily debt to the Fed by all publicly traded U.S. banks, money managers and investment- services firms, the data show. By comparison, they had about half of the industry’s assets before the bailout, which lasted from August 2007 through April 2010. The daily debt figure excludes cash that banks passed along to money-market funds.
Bank Supervision

While the emergency response prevented financial collapse, the Fed shouldn’t have allowed conditions to get to that point, says Joshua Rosner, a banking analyst with Graham Fisher & Co. in New York who predicted problems from lax mortgage underwriting as far back as 2001. The Fed, the primary supervisor for large financial companies, should have been more vigilant as the housing bubble formed, and the scale of its lending shows the “supervision of the banks prior to the crisis was far worse than we had imagined,” Rosner says.

Bernanke in an April 2009 speech said that the Fed provided emergency loans only to “sound institutions,” even though its internal assessments described at least one of the biggest borrowers, Citigroup, as “marginal.”

On Jan. 14, 2009, six days before the company’s central bank loans peaked, the New York Fed gave CEO Vikram Pandit a report declaring Citigroup’s financial strength to be “superficial,” bolstered largely by its $45 billion of Treasury funds. The document was released in early 2011 by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, a panel empowered by Congress to probe the causes of the crisis.
‘Need Transparency’

Andrea Priest, a spokeswoman for the New York Fed, declined to comment, as did Jon Diat, a spokesman for Citigroup.

“I believe that the Fed should have independence in conducting highly technical monetary policy, but when they are putting taxpayer resources at risk, we need transparency and accountability,” says Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee.

Judd Gregg, a former New Hampshire senator who was a lead Republican negotiator on TARP, and Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who chaired the House Financial Services Committee, both say they were kept in the dark.

“We didn’t know the specifics,” says Gregg, who’s now an adviser to Goldman Sachs.

“We were aware emergency efforts were going on,” Frank says. “We didn’t know the specifics.”
Disclose Lending

Frank co-sponsored the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, billed as a fix for financial-industry excesses. Congress debated that legislation in 2010 without a full understanding of how deeply the banks had depended on the Fed for survival.

It would have been “totally appropriate” to disclose the lending data by mid-2009, says David Jones, a former economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York who has written four books about the central bank.

“The Fed is the second-most-important appointed body in the U.S., next to the Supreme Court, and we’re dealing with a democracy,” Jones says. “Our representatives in Congress deserve to have this kind of information so they can oversee the Fed.”

The Dodd-Frank law required the Fed to release details of some emergency-lending programs in December 2010. It also mandated disclosure of discount-window borrowers after a two- year lag.
Protecting TARP

TARP and the Fed lending programs went “hand in hand,” says Sherrill Shaffer, a banking professor at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and a former chief economist at the New York Fed. While the TARP money helped insulate the central bank from losses, the Fed’s willingness to supply seemingly unlimited financing to the banks assured they wouldn’t collapse, protecting the Treasury’s TARP investments, he says.

“Even though the Treasury was in the headlines, the Fed was really behind the scenes engineering it,” Shaffer says.

Congress, at the urging of Bernanke and Paulson, created TARP in October 2008 after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. made it difficult for financial institutions to get loans. Bank of America and New York-based Citigroup each received $45 billion from TARP. At the time, both were tapping the Fed. Citigroup hit its peak borrowing of $99.5 billion in January 2009, while Bank of America topped out in February 2009 at $91.4 billion.
No Clue

Lawmakers knew none of this.

They had no clue that one bank, New York-based Morgan Stanley (MS), took $107 billion in Fed loans in September 2008, enough to pay off one-tenth of the country’s delinquent mortgages. The firm’s peak borrowing occurred the same day Congress rejected the proposed TARP bill, triggering the biggest point drop ever in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. (INDU) The bill later passed, and Morgan Stanley got $10 billion of TARP funds, though Paulson said only “healthy institutions” were eligible.

Mark Lake, a spokesman for Morgan Stanley, declined to comment, as did spokesmen for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

Had lawmakers known, it “could have changed the whole approach to reform legislation,” says Ted Kaufman, a former Democratic Senator from Delaware who, with Brown, introduced the bill to limit bank size.
Moral Hazard

Kaufman says some banks are so big that their failure could trigger a chain reaction in the financial system. The cost of borrowing for so-called too-big-to-fail banks is lower than that of smaller firms because lenders believe the government won’t let them go under. The perceived safety net creates what economists call moral hazard — the belief that bankers will take greater risks because they’ll enjoy any profits while shifting losses to taxpayers.

Moral hazard arises because an individual or institution does not take the full consequences and responsibilities of its actions, and therefore has a tendency to act less carefully than it otherwise would, leaving another party to hold some responsibility for the consequences of those actions. For example, a person with insurance against automobile theft may be less cautious about locking his or her car, because the negative consequences of vehicle theft are (partially) the responsibility of the insurance company.

If Congress had been aware of the extent of the Fed rescue, Kaufman says, he would have been able to line up more support for breaking up the biggest banks.

Byron L. Dorgan, a former Democratic senator from North Dakota, says the knowledge might have helped pass legislation to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, which for most of the last century separated customer deposits from the riskier practices of investment banking.

“Had people known about the hundreds of billions in loans to the biggest financial institutions, they would have demanded Congress take much more courageous actions to stop the practices that caused this near financial collapse,” says Dorgan, who retired in January.
Getting Bigger

Instead, the Fed and its secret financing helped America’s biggest financial firms get bigger and go on to pay employees as much as they did at the height of the housing bubble.

Total assets held by the six biggest U.S. banks increased 39 percent to $9.5 trillion on Sept. 30, 2011, from $6.8 trillion on the same day in 2006, according to Fed data.

For so few banks to hold so many assets is “un-American,” says Richard W. Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “All of these gargantuan institutions are too big to regulate. I’m in favor of breaking them up and slimming them down.”

Employees at the six biggest banks made twice the average for all U.S. workers in 2010, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics hourly compensation cost data. The banks spent $146.3 billion on compensation in 2010, or an average of $126,342 per worker, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s up almost 20 percent from five years earlier compared with less than 15 percent for the average worker. Average pay at the banks in 2010 was about the same as in 2007, before the bailouts.
‘Wanted to Pretend’

“The pay levels came back so fast at some of these firms that it appeared they really wanted to pretend they hadn’t been bailed out,” says Anil Kashyap, a former Fed economist who’s now a professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “They shouldn’t be surprised that a lot of people find some of the stuff that happened totally outrageous.”

Bank of America took over Merrill Lynch & Co. at the urging of then-Treasury Secretary Paulson after buying the biggest U.S. home lender, Countrywide Financial Corp. When the Merrill Lynch purchase was announced on Sept. 15, 2008, Bank of America had $14.4 billion in emergency Fed loans and Merrill Lynch had $8.1 billion. By the end of the month, Bank of America’s loans had reached $25 billion and Merrill Lynch’s had exceeded $60 billion, helping both firms keep the deal on track.
Prevent Collapse

Wells Fargo bought Wachovia Corp., the fourth-largest U.S. bank by deposits before the 2008 acquisition. Because depositors were pulling their money from Wachovia, the Fed channeled $50 billion in secret loans to the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank through two emergency-financing programs to prevent collapse before Wells Fargo could complete the purchase.

“These programs proved to be very successful at providing financial markets the additional liquidity and confidence they needed at a time of unprecedented uncertainty,” says Ancel Martinez, a spokesman for Wells Fargo.

JPMorgan absorbed the country’s largest savings and loan, Seattle-based Washington Mutual Inc., and investment bank Bear Stearns Cos. The New York Fed, then headed by Timothy F. Geithner, who’s now Treasury secretary, helped JPMorgan complete the Bear Stearns deal by providing $29 billion of financing, which was disclosed at the time. The Fed also supplied Bear Stearns with $30 billion of secret loans to keep the company from failing before the acquisition closed, central bank data show. The loans were made through a program set up to provide emergency funding to brokerage firms.
‘Regulatory Discretion’

“Some might claim that the Fed was picking winners and losers, but what the Fed was doing was exercising its professional regulatory discretion,” says John Dearie, a former speechwriter at the New York Fed who’s now executive vice president for policy at the Financial Services Forum, a Washington-based group consisting of the CEOs of 20 of the world’s biggest financial firms. “The Fed clearly felt it had what it needed within the requirements of the law to continue to lend to Bear and Wachovia.”

The bill introduced by Brown and Kaufman in April 2010 would have mandated shrinking the six largest firms.

“When a few banks have advantages, the little guys get squeezed,” Brown says. “That, to me, is not what capitalism should be.”

Kaufman says he’s passionate about curbing too-big-to-fail banks because he fears another crisis.

‘Can We Survive?’

“The amount of pain that people, through no fault of their own, had to endure — and the prospect of putting them through it again — is appalling,” Kaufman says. “The public has no more appetite for bailouts. What would happen tomorrow if one of these big banks got in trouble? Can we survive that?”

Lobbying expenditures by the six banks that would have been affected by the legislation rose to $29.4 million in 2010 compared with $22.1 million in 2006, the last full year before credit markets seized up — a gain of 33 percent, according to OpenSecrets.org, a research group that tracks money in U.S. politics. Lobbying by the American Bankers Association, a trade organization, increased at about the same rate, OpenSecrets.org reported.

Lobbyists argued the virtues of bigger banks. They’re more stable, better able to serve large companies and more competitive internationally, and breaking them up would cost jobs and cause “long-term damage to the U.S. economy,” according to a Nov. 13, 2009, letter to members of Congress from the FSF.

The group’s website cites Nobel Prize-winning economist Oliver E. Williamson, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, for demonstrating the greater efficiency of large companies.
‘Serious Burden’

In an interview, Williamson says that the organization took his research out of context and that efficiency is only one factor in deciding whether to preserve too-big-to-fail banks.

“The banks that were too big got even bigger, and the problems that we had to begin with are magnified in the process,” Williamson says. “The big banks have incentives to take risks they wouldn’t take if they didn’t have government support. It’s a serious burden on the rest of the economy.”

The Moral Hazard.

Dearie says his group didn’t mean to imply that Williamson endorsed big banks.

Top officials in President Barack Obama’s administration sided with the FSF in arguing against legislative curbs on the size of banks.
Geithner, Kaufman

On May 4, 2010, Geithner visited Kaufman in his Capitol Hill office. As president of the New York Fed in 2007 and 2008, Geithner helped design and run the central bank’s lending programs. The New York Fed supervised four of the six biggest U.S. banks and, during the credit crunch, put together a daily confidential report on Wall Street’s financial condition. Geithner was copied on these reports, based on a sampling of e- mails released by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

At the meeting with Kaufman, Geithner argued that the issue of limiting bank size was too complex for Congress and that people who know the markets should handle these decisions, Kaufman says. According to Kaufman, Geithner said he preferred that bank supervisors from around the world, meeting in Basel, Switzerland, make rules increasing the amount of money banks need to hold in reserve. Passing laws in the U.S. would undercut his efforts in Basel, Geithner said, according to Kaufman.

Anthony Coley, a spokesman for Geithner, declined to comment.
‘Punishing Success’

Lobbyists for the big banks made the winning case that forcing them to break up was “punishing success,” Brown says. Now that they can see how much the banks were borrowing from the Fed, senators might think differently, he says.

The Fed supported curbing too-big-to-fail banks, including giving regulators the power to close large financial firms and implementing tougher supervision for big banks, says Fed General Counsel Scott G. Alvarez. The Fed didn’t take a position on whether large banks should be dismantled before they get into trouble.

Dodd-Frank does provide a mechanism for regulators to break up the biggest banks. It established the Financial Stability Oversight Council that could order teetering banks to shut down in an orderly way. The council is headed by Geithner.

“Dodd-Frank does not solve the problem of too big to fail,” says Shelby, the Alabama Republican. “Moral hazard and taxpayer exposure still very much exist.”
Below Market

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, says banks “were either in bad shape or taking advantage of the Fed giving them a good deal. The former contradicts their public statements. The latter — getting loans at below-market rates during a financial crisis — is quite a gift.”

The Fed says it typically makes emergency loans more expensive than those available in the marketplace to discourage banks from abusing the privilege. During the crisis, Fed loans were among the cheapest around, with funding available for as low as 0.01 percent in December 2008, according to data from the central bank and money-market rates tracked by Bloomberg.

The Fed funds also benefited firms by allowing them to avoid selling assets to pay investors and depositors who pulled their money. So the assets stayed on the banks’ books, earning interest.

Banks report the difference between what they earn on loans and investments and their borrowing expenses. The figure, known as net interest margin, provides a clue to how much profit the firms turned on their Fed loans, the costs of which were included in those expenses. To calculate how much banks stood to make, Bloomberg multiplied their tax-adjusted net interest margins by their average Fed debt during reporting periods in which they took emergency loans.
Added Income

The 190 firms for which data were available would have produced income of $13 billion, assuming all of the bailout funds were invested at the margins reported, the data show.

The six biggest U.S. banks’ share of the estimated subsidy was $4.8 billion, or 23 percent of their combined net income during the time they were borrowing from the Fed. Citigroup would have taken in the most, with $1.8 billion.

“The net interest margin is an effective way of getting at the benefits that these large banks received from the Fed,” says Gerald A. Hanweck, a former Fed economist who’s now a finance professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

While the method isn’t perfect, it’s impossible to state the banks’ exact profits or savings from their Fed loans because the numbers aren’t disclosed and there isn’t enough publicly available data to figure it out.

Opinsky, the JPMorgan spokesman, says he doesn’t think the calculation is fair because “in all likelihood, such funds were likely invested in very short-term investments,” which typically bring lower returns.
Standing Access

Even without tapping the Fed, the banks get a subsidy by having standing access to the central bank’s money, says Viral Acharya, a New York University economics professor who has worked as an academic adviser to the New York Fed.

“Banks don’t give lines of credit to corporations for free,” he says. “Why should all these government guarantees and liquidity facilities be for free?”

In the September 2008 meeting at which Paulson and Bernanke briefed lawmakers on the need for TARP, Bernanke said that if nothing was done, “unemployment would rise — to 8 or 9 percent from the prevailing 6.1 percent,” Paulson wrote in “On the Brink” (Business Plus, 2010).
Occupy Wall Street

The U.S. jobless rate hasn’t dipped below 8.8 percent since March 2009, 3.6 million homes have been foreclosed since August 2007, according to data provider RealtyTrac Inc., and police have clashed with Occupy Wall Street protesters, who say government policies favor the wealthiest citizens, in New York, Boston, Seattle and Oakland, California.

The Tea Party, which supports a more limited role for government, has its roots in anger over the Wall Street bailouts, says Neil M. Barofsky, former TARP special inspector general and a Bloomberg Television contributing editor.

“The lack of transparency is not just frustrating; it really blocked accountability,” Barofsky says. “When people don’t know the details, they fill in the blanks. They believe in conspiracies.”

In the end, Geithner had his way. The Brown-Kaufman proposal to limit the size of banks was defeated, 60 to 31. Bank supervisors meeting in Switzerland did mandate minimum reserves that institutions will have to hold, with higher levels for the world’s largest banks, including the six biggest in the U.S. Those rules can be changed by individual countries.

They take full effect in 2019.

Meanwhile, Kaufman says, “we’re absolutely, totally, 100 percent not prepared for another financial crisis.”(Bloomberg)

Feel better now? 🙂

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

 Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

Matter of Identification

A Classic Thanksgiving Moment, Brought to you by your friends at WKRP:

And as God is my witness, I still think Spending Even More will work!! — Barack Obama. What a Turkey. 🙂

Here’s another reason to throw them all out:

The Senate is set to vote on a bill next week that would define the whole of the United States as a “battlefield” and allow the U.S. Military to arrest American citizens in their own back yard without charge or trial.

“The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself,” writes

Chris Anders of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/senators-demand-military-lock-american-citizens-battlefield-they-define-being

Under the ‘worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial’ provision of S.1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:S.1867:, which is set to be up for a vote on the Senate floor Monday, the legislation will “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who supports the bill.

But remember who controls the Senate– The Democrats.

So throwing them all out sound pretty good at this point.

In October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration officially approved so-called DNA barcoding – a standardized fingerprint that can identify a species like a supermarket scanner reads a barcode – to prevent the mislabeling of both locally produced and imported seafood in the United States. Other national regulators around the world are also considering adopting DNA barcoding as a fast, reliable and cost-effective tool for identifying organic matter.

And since humans are “organic matter” how long before they come for you!??

Then there’s money and power.

The war against the financial sector is no accident. Rather, it was carefully planned over decades as part of a social crusade to wipe out what the left calls “financial apartheid.”

Starting in earnest in the 1990s, coat-and-tie radicals gathered in Washington and conspired to use banks to “democratize” credit. They socialized the mortgage industry after declaring traditional underwriting standards “racist.” Bankers were ordered to “reinvest” in unprofitable areas, and reallocate capital to people who posed credit risks.

When those risky loans went bad, radicals blamed “greedy” bankers and “predatory” lenders. Today, they want to punish bankers and lenders by forcing them to “repair the damages” that they themselves caused. And they don’t care if it drives many of them out of business.

In fact, President Obama is deliberately trying to downsize the financial sector. He and his social engineers think it accounts for too big a share of the economy. Obama says his sweeping new regulations are designed to clamp down on bank profits and limit the finance industry’s influence in the U.S. economy.

“What I think will change, what I think was an aberration, was a situation where corporate profits in the financial sector were such a heavy part of our overall profitability over the last decade,” he said, adding that his “more vigorous regulatory regime” will “inhibit” the industry’s growth.

Think about it: Obama is engineering a controlled starvation of America’s most vital industry — capital, the lifeblood of the economy — as punishment for allegedly causing a crisis that anti-bank community organizers and housing-rights zealots like him actually caused.

Why is Obama at constant war with “fat cat bankers” and Wall Street? His mentor, Chicago socialist Saul Alinsky, identified banks as one of the “power sectors” topping the industrial food chain, and therefore a top “target” for street agitators like Obama.

“The target, therefore, should be the banks,” Alinsky wrote in “Rules for Radicals,” the bible of the left.

This was drilled into Obama by his Alinsky trainer, Jerry Kellman, who first hired Obama as a South Side Chicago organizer, according to the book, “The Great American Bank Robbery.” “The real enemy,” Kellman told Obama, are “the investment bankers.”

Obama was trained in Alinsky agitation tactics in Los Angeles and Chicago. After Harvard, he returned to South Side to train Acorn and National People’s Action leaders. They, in turn, deployed busloads of thugs to terrorize bankers into making easy loans and subsidies in a multitrillion-dollar shakedown that sped the collapse of the banking and housing industries.

Obama also represented alleged victims rounded up by Acorn and NPA in class-action lawsuits against Citibank and others. The ilk that wrote “Rules for Radicals” wrote the rules for “fair lending.” Now they’re helping write them again to leverage banks anew, and make credit for the uncreditworthy even easier.

This financial disaster didn’t just happen. It was engineered. It was designed by people with radical agendas to redistribute credit and, ultimately, your wealth. And they are just getting started. (IBD)

Big Brother is Watching.

But at least you’ll have your bar coded fish!!

 

The Wacky & The Sublime

Irony Alert:

Am I the only one that finds this ironic?

The Associated Press is reporting that Occupy Wall Street is planning a benefit album, the proceeds of which will help fund the movement protesting income inequality.

They hope to raise between $1 million and $2 million with the project.

So I guess not all millions are bad. Apparently, if activist groups have them and not Wall Street, it’s totally fine.

I’m sure you’re intrigued enough now to want more details, which includes this gem: Michael Moore is planning to sing.

Occupy Wall Street has a benefit album planned with Jackson Browne, Third Eye Blind, Crosby & Nash, Devo, Lucinda Williams and even some of those drummers who kept an incessant beat at Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.

Participants in the protest movement said Wednesday that “Occupy This Album,” which will be available sometime this winter, will also feature DJ Logic, Ladytron, Warren Haynes, Toots and the Maytals, Mike Limbaud, Aeroplane Pageant, Yo La Tengo and others.

Activist filmmaker Michael Moore is also planning to sing.

I’d give them money just to avoid hearing Michael Moore Sing!! 🙂

“We are the Occupiers!!!”

Catchy. 🙂

The Senate Republican Budget press office sent out this rather incriminating timeline of the Democrats’ complete lack of leadership and responsibility on the deficit issue. We’re now over $15 trillion in debt, and they don’t look like they’re taking it any more seriously than back in January. Case in point: the country still doesn’t have a budget. (and on Jan 12, 2012 it will be 1,000 days!)

Here’s the timeline sent out by the GOP Budget Committee press office:

January 25 – In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposes freezing “annual domestic spending for the next five years.” This freeze would lock in elevated spending levels (24 percent non-defense discretionary, not including stimulus) and produce an estimated $3.8 trillion in deficits over the period in question. Subsequent analysis revealed that, because the White House shifted and hid new spending, non-defense discretionary spending would actually increase even further next year.

February 14 – President Obama proposes a budget with $8.7 trillion in new spending (CBO’s re-estimate actually finds $9.6 trillion in new spending).

February 15 – The House of Representatives begins debate on a bill that would cut spending by $61 billion. President Obama promptly issues a veto threat.

April 11 – Press Secretary Jay Carney: “We should move quickly to raise the debt limit and we support a clean piece of legislation to do that.”

April 13 – President Obama delivers a speech where he lays out a “framework” that he claims will lead to $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10–12 years. In reality, using OMB’s own numbers, deficits under the “framework” are $3.2 trillion higher than the president’s own fiscal commission.

April 15 – The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passes its budget, which cuts $6 trillion in comparison to the President’s budget.

April 19 – S&P assigns a negative outlook to the U.S. credit rating, signaling at least a one-in-three likelihood that the agency will lower the nation’s long-term rating.

May 1 – Total federal spending since President Obama took office reaches approximately $8 trillion.

May 11 – Austan Goolsbee, chair of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, says it is “quite insane” to tie spending cuts to the debt limit increase.

May 17 – Chairman Conrad continues to delay the unveiling of his latest secret budget, announcingthat “I’ll say something later — not today, probably… There are a lot of conversations under way.”

May 18 – Majority Leader Reid says it would be “foolish” for Senate Democrats to offer a budget.

May 19 – Chairman Conrad announces he will not reveal a budget to the public until after the Gang of Six produces a proposal.

May 25 – The Senate rejects President Obama’s budget by a vote of 0-97.

May 23 – Senator Schumer, when asked why there is no alternative to the House-passed budget, answers, “To put other budgets out there is not the point.”

May 26 – GOP Senators join Ranking Member Sessions in asking Reid not to break for the Memorial Day recess until Senate Democrats bring forward a budget so the Senate can fulfill its duty.

June 7 – Even some Senate Democrats become anxious about their party’s lack of a budget.

June 29 – Chairman Conrad tells Politico, “Senate Democrats have reached an agreement on a plan — just now — and we’ll be putting that out sometime soon.” (Note: the plan was never made public, but a leaked outline revealed that it contained as many as $2 in tax hikes for $1 in spending cuts.)

June 29 – Sessions renews call for the Senate to remain in town to deal with its budget and debt ceiling work.

July 1 – Sessions and Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch ask the president to reveal, in detail, what his deficit reduction plans actually are. No response is received, and the president’s February budget remains the only plan he has ever put on paper (thus the only plan that can be estimated by CBO) and shared with Congress or the American people.

July 8 – On the 800th day since Senate Democrats passed a budget, the unemployment rate rises to 9.2 percent (the third straight month above 9 percent).

July 19 – Amid continuing calls for the president to reveal what spending cuts he actually supports, Carney says that “leadership is not proposing a plan for the sake of having it voted up or down…”

July 22 – At a press conference discussing his position on negotiating a debt limit increase, President Obama declares, “The only bottom line that I have is that we have to extend this debt ceiling through the next election, into 2013.”

August 2 – Following passage of the debt limit increase package in the Senate, President Obama callsfor America to “live within our means” immediately before advocating a further increase in government spending, framed, as usual, as “investments.”

August 3 – Government borrowing tops 100 percent of GDP as the U.S. accumulates $4 trillion in gross debt under President Obama, well above the 90-percent threshold identified by economists Rogoff and Reinhart as when debt harms economic growth and brings down job creation.

August 5 – S&P downgrades the U.S.’ credit rating from AAA, the first time the nation has had less than the top rating since receiving it in 1917.

September 8– Shortly after the passage of the debt limit deal and the spending cuts that went with it, President Obama announcesa second stimulus bill that would cost $447 billion. CBO later admitsthat stimulus spending depresses long-term economic growth.

September 18– President Obama unveilsa deficit reduction plan that he claims will reduce deficits by $3 trillion through a combination of tax increases, war savings, and other spending cuts. But a Budget Committee analysis reveals that, thanks to a number of budget gimmicks, the plan would reduce deficits by only $1.4 trillion and would rely entirelyon tax increases.

October 14– 900 days pass since Senate Democrats last offered a budget plan.

November 7– The Congressional Budget Office reportsthat total federal spending increased in Fiscal Year 2011 by $145 billion over the previous year’s level.

November 9– House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi claims that Democrats didn’t pass a budget when they controlled both chambers of Congress because “Republicans would have filibustered it,” but as she should know, budget resolutions can’t be filibustered.

November 11– As the supercommittee continues its tense negotiations, President Obama departsfor a nine-day trip to Bali, Indonesia, and Australia.

November 13– Supercommittee member James Clyburn, the House Assistant Democratic Leader,saysthat a draft Democrat proposal has been outlined. A Budget Committee analysisestimatesthis outlined proposal to contain a dramatic tax increase-to-spending cut ratio of 4:1.

November 16– On the 931st day since Senate Democrats offered a budget, the U.S. gross national debt tops $15 trillion.

November 18– In search of common ground, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey puts forwarda draft proposal with both spending cuts and tax revenue. Democrats summarily rejectthe offer.

November 21– New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg chides President Obama, saying that “It’s the Chief Executive’s job to bring people together & provide leadership. I don’t see that happening [with the] #SuperCommittee”

November 22– President Obama placesmultiple calls, over the course of the month, to European leaders regarding their countries’ debt problems. Meanwhile, Jay Carney says it was “absolutely not” a problem for “him not to have been as involved” with the supercommittee negotiations.

(and liberals will swear he was in there actively from the beginning!)

Now he’s off Golfing again….Now that’s quite a turkey!

Small Business Saturday

Remember the outrage from the administration over hefty bonuses paid to AIG executives in 2009? Back then, shortly after AIG was bailed out by American taxpayers, the company went through with already planned bonuses to top executives.

The bonuses, which totaled $165 million, sparked a hot national debate over how much freedom private companies should have to pay large bonuses after they had become dependent on taxpayers. The House and Senate passed measures calling for the taxing of executive bonuses for bailed-out companies to the tune of 70-90 percent.

The president reacted forcefully: “”[I]t’s hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay. How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?”

Last week, another set of bonuses for bailed-out companies got decidedly less bad press. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to whom taxpayers have already given hundreds of billions, doled out $12.79 million in bonuses to its executives for meeting modest goals.

One could argue that there’s no outrage from the administration over the Fannie and Freddie bonuses because the total amount of bonuses is so much smaller.

But in fact, the average executive bonus is far larger.

Fannie and Freddie spent $12.79 million on 10 bonuses for an average of $1.27 million per bonus.

AIG spent $165 million on 400 bonuses for an average of $412,000 per bonus.

That’s about three times the level of bonus for bailed-out Freddie and Fannie execs compared to AIG. Some have argued that the AIG bonuses were different because they went to people who caused the problem, which is true, but only partly. A lot of them were going to people outside the parts of AIG that caused the trouble, but the criticism of AIG remains valid.

At Fannie and Freddie, the bonuses are going to those who are attempting to mitigate taxpayer losses, and the argument is that Fannie and Freddie have to compete with private sector salaries in order to get the best to do the mitigating.

Nonetheless, lawmakers are moving toward limiting bonuses for these executives. Even if true, it is a galling argument that we must shell out more money to Fannie and Freddie simply because they’ve already lost so much of our money that we need to give them lots of our money to prevent the loss of more of our money.

Doesn’t the president wonder, “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?” (Mary Katherine Ham)

Nope. From what I hear, he’s been off golfing again. Gotta have your priorities. 🙂

After all, wouldn’t you want to make millions of running your company into the ground!!

WACO, Ga. — A west Georgia business owner is stirring up controversy with signs he posted on his company’s trucks, for all to see as the trucks roll up and down roads, highways and interstates:

“New Company Policy: We are not hiring until Obama is gone.”

“Can’t afford it,” explained the employer, Bill Looman, Tuesday evening. “I’ve got people that I want to hire now, but I just can’t afford it. And I don’t foresee that I’ll be able to afford it unless some things change in D.C.”

Looman’s company is U.S. Cranes, LLC.  He said he put up the signs, and first posted pictures of the signs on his personal Facebook page, six months ago, and he said he received mostly positive reaction from people, “about 20-to-one positive.”

But for some reason, one of the photos went viral on the Internet on Monday.

And the reaction has been so intense, pro and con, he’s had to have his phones disconnected because of the non-stop calls, and he’s had to temporarily shut down his company’s website because of all the traffic crashing the system.

Looman made it clear, talking with 11Alive’s Jon Shirek, that he is not refusing to hire to make some political point; it’s that he doesn’t believe he can hire anyone, because of the economy. And he blames the Obama administration.

“The way the economy’s running, and the way my business has been hampered by the economy, and the policies of the people in power, I felt that it was necessary to voice my opinion, and predict that I wouldn’t be able to do any hiring,” he said. 

Looman did receive some unexpected attention not long after he put up his signs and Facebook photos. He said someone, and he thinks he knows who it was, reported him to the FBI as a threat to national security. He said the accusation filtered its way through the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and finally the Secret Service. Agents interviewed him.

“The Secret Service left here, they were in a good mood and laughing,” Looman said. “I got the feeling they thought it was kind of ridiculous, and a waste of their time.”

So Bill Looman is keeping the signs up, and the photos up — stirring up a lot of debate.

“I just spent 10 years in the Marine Corps protecting the rights of people… the First Amendment, and the Second Amendment and the [rest of the] Bill of Rights,” he said. “Lord knows they’re calling me at 2 in the morning, all night long, and voicing their opinion. And I respect their right to do that. I’m getting a reaction, a lot of it’s negative, now. But a lot of people are waking up.” (11alive.com)

Comment on website: Herbert Hubbel · Howell High School

Last year I was unemployed the early part of the year. I had one very good position that I was first in line for. But as soon as Obamacare passed and he learned more about it from his insurance carrier, he cancelled hiring me or anybody else. I am still in touch with the company owner and he still has not hired anybody due to his benefit cost and other expenses climbing rapidly due to Federal Government rules and regulations implemented by the Obama administration.
#2: We are not hiring because there are not enough sales to support more employees. The view over the horizon, because of Obama, is cloudy and risky, at best. We are already in precarious positions and just trying to hold on. Many, many businesses have folded. Many, like me, have put all our retirement funds into the business just to keep the minimum number of employees just to hold on, waiting for the next election, hoping for anyone but the destroyer of this economy. The economy goes up and down. Obama is using the bad economy as a tool to accoumplish his goals. Read his books. Listen to his words. He gets more of what he wants when we are suffering and vulnerable. OWS is a great example.

The US economy is resilient and will recover on its own, excluding the unthinkable decisions Obama has made. If those decisions are not obvious to any of you, then you are not paying attention, or you wouldn’t believe them if they were explained to you. But just a very few are the housing failier and domestic oil. Obama gets an F-. How about Cash for Clunkers and $8500 for home purchases, all at the expense of gov. spending at taxpayers expense. Union payoffs for political campaign funds. The list is endless.

 It’s not that businesses want to punish Obama by not hiring. Businesses exist to make a profit, hire and expand, and make more profit. We have no choice now in not hiring because Obama’s decisions are destroying this economy and our futures. We have no choice until sanity returns to DC. Don’t forget to vote against EVERY Democrat US Senator. It will take real power to undo what has been done.

Fascinating…

Because what celebration of small business would be complete by the Obama administration without reaffirming the mounds of red-tape that Obama and his confederates have saddled small business with?

“Overall, the Obama Administration imposed 75 new major regulations from January 2009 to mid-FY 2011, with annual costs of $38 billion,” reports Heritage. 

In contrast, there were only six deregulatory actions by the Obama administration saving $1.5 billion says the Heritage report. 

And those costs were just the cost by the government to implement the regulations, not the overall cost to industry- that is; not the costs to you and I.  

In terms of the overall impact on the economic health of the country, the figure is much higher. 

“More specifically, the total cost of federal regulations has increased to $1.75 trillion,” writes the federal government’s own Small Business Administration.

Heritage reports that that’s nearly twice the amount that the government collects annually in individual income taxes. Ouch!

The costs are a hidden tax, not just on the rich, says Heritage, but on everyone equally.

But because regulations prevent the creation of new jobs, it hits the poor and middle class particularly hard, “while the updated cost per employee for firms with fewer than 20 employees is now $10,585 (a 36 percent difference between the costs incurred by small firms when compared with their larger counterparts),” says the SBA.

In other words, small employers take it on the chin at the rate of $3,810.60 per employee more than the big guys do.

It’s not hard to figure why the Obama administration is creating jobs at a post-war low. Jobs aren’t the goal. Fundraising is. That’s why dog and pony shows like Small Business Saturday loom so large for Obama and his corporate pals.

They serve as a reminder that Obama “cares” about little guys [cough, hack], while giving him an opportunity to put the squeeze on the Big Guys. 

If Reagan was the Great Communicator, Obama is the Great Fabricator.

For Obama, every day is just another episode of the Beltway Unreality show, where acting is much more important than actually doing something; where pop-culture trumps substance. (John Ransom)

And as we all know, it’s all about him.

 

A History Lesson

Michael Ramirez Cartoon

Ann Coulter: Bored with the Penn State scandal because it didn’t implicate any prominent Republicans, the mainstream media have suddenly become obsessed with Grover Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.” They are monomaniacally fixated on luring Republicans into raising taxes.

And then if they do, it will be a campaign commercial against every Republican 24/7/365 for the next 3,000 years! A Multimedia Sensation! A Divine Revelation!

Just look at how obsessed they are with the Bush Tax Cuts, Reagan, etc.

If Democrats could balance the budget tomorrow and quadruple government spending, they’d refuse the deal unless they could also make Republicans break their tax pledge. That is their single-minded goal.

But the media are trying to turn it around and say that it’s Republicans who are crazy for refusing to consider raising taxes no matter how much they get in spending cuts.

Tell a Lie often enough, especially 24/7/365 on dozens of channels and you tell the people anything you want and it can become “truth”.

At Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate on foreign policy, for example, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked the candidates for the one-millionth time if they would agree to raise taxes in exchange for spending cuts 10 times larger than the tax hikes.

Why are Republican refusing to have anyone but a Liberal as moderator so they can bait them. Are they masochists too?

Terrorism can wait — first, let me try to back you into a corner on raising taxes.

Amazingly, Blitzer cited Ronald Reagan’s statement in his autobiography, “An American Life,” that he would happily compromise with Democrats if he could get 75 or 80 percent of what he wanted — implying that today’s Republicans were nuttier than Reagan if they’d refuse a dollar in tax hikes for $10 in spending cuts.

Wolf should have kept reading. As Reagan explains a little farther in his autobiography: He did accept tax hikes “in return for (the Democrats’) agreement to cut spending by $280 billion,” but, Reagan continues, “the Democrats reneged on their pledge and we never got those cuts.”

Yeah, but that’s not liberal “history”. The one that always favors them. Orwell would be proud.

Maybe that’s why Republicans won’t agree to raise taxes in exchange for Democratic promises to cut spending.

For Americans who are unaware of the Democrats’ history of repeatedly reneging on their promises to cut spending in return for tax hikes, the Republicans’ opposition to tax increases does seem crazy. That’s why Republicans need to remind them.

From the moment President Reagan succeeded in pushing through his historic tax cuts in 1981 — which passed by a vote of 323-107 in the House and 89-11 in the Senate, despite Democrats’ subsequent caterwauling — he came under fantastic pressure to raise taxes from the media and the Democrats.

You will notice it is the same culprits pushing for tax hikes today.

So in 1982, Reagan struck a deal with the Democrats to raise some business and excise taxes — though not income taxes — in exchange for $280 billion in spending cuts over the next six years. As Reagan wrote in his diary at the time: “The tax increase is the price we have to pay to get the budget cuts.”

But, of course, the Democrats were lying. Instead of cutting $280 billion, they spent an additional $450 billion — only $140 billion of which went to the Reagan defense buildup that ended the Evil Empire.

Meanwhile, Reagan’s tax cuts brought in an extra $375 billion in government revenue in the next six years — as that amiable, simple-minded dunce Reagan always said they would. His tax cuts funded the entire $140 billion defense buildup, with $235 billion left over.

If Democrats had lied only a little and merely held spending at the same level, Reagan could have smashed the Russkies, produced the largest peacetime expansion in U.S. history with his tax cuts and produced a $235 billion budget surplus. (Jobs created in September 1983: 1.1 million; jobs created in September 2011: 150,000.)

But the Democrats not only refused to implement any budget cuts, they hiked government spending. To the untrained eye, that appears to be the exact opposite of cutting the budget.

Even the gusher of revenue brought in by Reagan’s tax cuts couldn’t pay for all the additional spending piled up by double-crossing Democrats — more than twice as much as Reagan’s spending on defense.

Reagan’s defense spending crushed the Soviet war machine. What did Tip O’Neill’s domestic spending accomplish? (I mean, besides destroying the black family, increasing single motherhood and creating government bureaucracies that can never be eliminated.)

Unable to learn from the first kick of a mule, President George H.W. Bush made the exact same deal with Democrats just a few years later.

Pretending to care about the deficit — created exclusively by their own profligate spending — Democrats demanded that Bush agree to a “balanced budget” package with both spending cuts and tax increases.

In June 1990, Bush did so, agreeing to tax hikes in defiance of his “read-my-lips, no-new-taxes” campaign pledge.

Again, Democrats, being Democrats, produced no spending cuts, and within two years the increased federal spending had led to a doubling of the deficit.

The Democrats didn’t care: All that mattered was that they had tricked Bush into breaking his tax pledge, which they celebrated all the way to Bush’s defeat in the next election.

On CNN’s “Crossfire,” then-congressman Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., gloated: “All the spin control in the world can’t undo the fact that the president is moving away from (no new) taxes.”

An article on the front page of The New York Times proclaimed that “with his three words, (‘tax revenue increases’) Mr. Bush had broken the central promise of his 1988 campaign.”

As the next presidential campaign got under way, CNN interviewed a “Reagan Democrat,” who said: “Bush says, ‘Read my lips.’ Remember when he said that? We got taxes anyway. Clinton says, I will raise your taxes because we have to do something about that national debt.”

Democrats had effectively taken away the Republican Party’s central defining issue — low taxes — and the Republicans got nothing in return.

(I take that back: We got a stained blue dress for the Smithsonian. So, an OK trade.)

On the campaign trail, Bill Clinton taunted Bush for breaking his tax pledge, saying, “He promised 15 million new jobs, no new taxes, the environmental president, an education presidency. It was a wonderful speech. But now we don’t have to read his lips; we can read his record.”

Apparently, Republicans can read the Democrats’ record, too. They know that Democrats will promise to cut spending in exchange for tax increases and then screw Republicans on the spending cuts.

It’s been 20 years since they pulled that scam, so Democrats figure it’s time to make Republicans break a tax pledge again. As long as no one knows the history of these “deals,” the media can carry on, blithely portraying Republicans as obstructionist nuts for refusing the third kick of a mule.

Good, I hope not.

Who is the bigger fool, the fool or the fool who follows it? Or in this case, whose the bigger fool, the fool who thinks Democrats will keep any promises to cut spending or any Republicans who’d believe them??

And to celebrate the passing of another Turkey day, a real “fish” story to tell your kids about how generous and kind Big Government is.

IT’S THE ONE THAT WAS TAKEN AWAY!

This fish story may lack the epic qualities of Ernest Hemingway’s 1952 classic“The Old Man and the Sea,” but for New Bedford’s Carlos Rafael, the outcome was about the same. In both cases, despite capturing and bringing home a huge fish, powerful circumstances conspired to deprive the luckless fishermen of a potentially huge reward.

Boat owner Rafael, a big player in the local fishing industry, was elated when the crew of his 76-foot steel dragger Apollo told him they had unwittingly captured a giant bluefin tuna in their trawl gear while fishing offshore.

“They didn’t catch that fish on the bottom,” he said. “They probably got it in the midwater when they were setting out and it just got corralled in the net. That only happens once in a blue moon.”

Rafael, who in the last four years purchased 15 tuna permits for his groundfish boats to cover just such an eventuality, immediately called a bluefin tuna hot line maintained by fishery regulators to report the catch.

When the weather offshore deteriorated, the Apollo decided to seek shelter in Provincetown Harbor on Nov. 12. Rafael immediately set off in a truck to meet the boat.
“I wanted to sell the fish while it was fresh instead of letting it age on the boat,”he said.“It was a beautiful fish.”

It was also a lucrative one. Highly prized in Japan, a 754pound specimen fetched a record price at a Tokyo auction in January this year, selling for nearly $396,000. These fish can grow to enormous size. The world record for a bluefin, which has stood since 1979, was set when a 1,496-pound specimen was caught off Nova Scotia.

However, when Rafael rolled down the dock in Provincetown there was an unexpected and unwelcome development. The authorities were waiting. Agents from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement informed him they were confiscating his fish — all 881 pounds of it.

Even though the catch had been declared and the boat had a tuna permit, the rules do not allow fishermen to catch bluefin tuna in a net.

“They said it had to be caught with rod and reel,” a frustrated Rafael said.“We didn’t try to hide anything. We did everything by the book. Nobody ever told me we couldn’t catch it with a net.”
In any case, after being towed for more than two hours in the net, the fish was already dead when the Apollo hauled back its gear, he said.

“What are we supposed to do?” he asked. “They said they were going to give me a warning,” Rafael said. “I think I’m going to surrender all my tuna permits now. What good are they if I can’t catch them?”

No charges have yet been filed in connection with the catch, but a written warning is anticipated, according to Christine Patrick, a public affairs specialist with NOAA who said the fish has been forfeited and will be sold on consignment overseas. Proceeds from the sale of the fish will be held in an account pending final resolution of the case, NOAA said. No information on the value of the fish was available Friday.

“The matter is still under investigation,”said Monica Allen, deputy director with NOAA Fisheries public affairs. “If it’s determined that there has been a violation, the money will go into the asset forfeiture fund.”

Aka, the government’s coffers.

“If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a life time”  as long as he abides by everyone of the thousand of petty regulations, fees and permits that will allow the government to tax you and then take it from you because you missed 1. 🙂

“I think I’m going to surrender all my tuna permits now. What good are they if I can’t catch them?” (The Hull Truth)

The Permits were to fund some government bureaucrats fat ass pension. Now they’ll have to raise taxes to make up for it!! 🙂

http://townhall.com/video/fisherman-bags-the-big-one-only-to-lose-it-to-big-government

Be Thankful they are  from the Government and they are here to help you!

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel

Thanksgiving 2011

I am just thankful to be alive.

After yesterday’s car accident that totaled my car what else is there to say.

The false accusations of  “sexual harrasment” at Fry’s Electronics an hour earlier is another story for another day.

What a day!! 😦

So I turn it over to one of my favorite writer, Thomas Sowell.

“Alice in Wonderland” was written by a professor who also wrote a book on symbolic logic. So it is not surprising that Alice encountered not only strange behavior in Wonderland, but also strange and illogical reasoning — of a sort too often found in the real world, and which a logician would be very much aware of.

If Alice could visit the world of liberal rhetoric and assumptions today, she might find similarly illogical and bizarre thinking. But people suffering in the current economy might not find it nearly as entertaining as “Alice in Wonderland.”

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the world envisioned by today’s liberals is that it is a world where other people just passively accept whatever “change” liberals impose. In the world of Liberal Land, you can just take for granted all the benefits of the existing society, and then simply tack on your new, wonderful ideas that will make things better.

For example, if the economy is going along well and you happen to take a notion that there ought to be more home ownership, especially among the poor and minorities, then you simply have the government decree that lenders have to lend to more low-income people and minorities who want mortgages, ending finicky mortgage standards about down payments, income and credit histories.

That sounds like a fine idea in the world of Liberal Land. Unfortunately, in the ugly world of reality, it turned out to be a financial disaster, from which the economy has still not yet recovered. Nor have the poor and minorities.

Apparently you cannot just tack on your pet notions to whatever already exists, without repercussions spreading throughout the whole economy. That’s what happens in the ugly world of reality, as distinguished from the beautiful world of Liberal Land.

The strange and bizarre characters found in “Alice in Wonderland” have counterparts in the political vision of Liberal Land today. Among the most interesting of these characters are those elites who are convinced that they are so much smarter than the rest of us that they feel both a right and a duty to take all sorts of decisions out of our incompetent hands — for our own good.

In San Francisco, which is Liberal Land personified, there have been attempts to ban the circumcision of newborn baby boys. Fortunately, that was nipped in the bud. But it shows how widely the self-anointed saviors of Liberal Land feel entitled to take decisions out of the hands of mere ordinary citizens.

Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner says, “We’re facing a very consequential debate about some fundamental choices as a country.” People talk that way in Liberal Land. Moreover, such statements pass muster with those who simply take in the words, decide whether they sound nice to them, and then move on.

But, if you take words seriously, the more fundamental question is whether individuals are to remain free to make their own choices, as distinguished from having collectivized choices, “as a country” — which is to say, having choices made by government officials and imposed on the rest of us.

The history of the 20th century is a painful lesson on what happens when collective choices replace individual choices. Even leaving aside the chilling history of totalitarianism in the 20th century, the history of economic central planning shows it to have been such a widely recognized disaster that even communist and socialist governments were abandoning it as the century ended.

Making choices “as a country” cannot be avoided in some cases, such as elections or referenda. But that is very different from saying that decisions in general should be made “as a country” — which boils down to having people like Timothy Geithner taking more and more decisions out of our own hands and imposing their will on the rest of us. That way lies madness exceeding anything done by the Mad Hatter in “Alice in Wonderland.”

That way lie unfunded mandates, nanny state interventions in people’s lives, such as banning circumcision — and the ultimate nanny state monstrosity, ObamaCare.

The world of reality has its problems, so it is understandable that some people want to escape to a different world, where you can talk lofty talk and forget about ugly realities like costs and repercussions. The world of reality is not nearly as lovely as the world of Liberal Land. No wonder so many people want to go there.

AMEN.

Now stay safe.

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell