Bailout Time For Baby

The Greatest Socialist Baby, ObamaCare, needs a bailout diaper change because it’s overwhelming success in creating “better” and “more” Health Care for everyone has got some ‘wastage’ (aka poop) 🙂

When Obamacare was rammed through Congress without a single Republican vote way back in 2010, conservatives warned that the massive government program would ultimately require bailing out health insurance companies that gladly signed on.

Fast forward five years and it’s that time. Today on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are being pressured by the White House to provide money, or a bailout, to insurance companies losing money due to running government Obamacare exchanges. From The Hill

Republicans and Democrats are close to agreeing on delaying two major taxes, the “Cadillac tax” on high-benefit plans and the medical device tax.

But those proposals have run into opposition from the White House, which wants language fixing ObamaCare’s so-called risk corridors — a program intended to help insurance companies that take a financial hit by participating in government-run health exchanges.

That program is nearly out of money because of a policy rider sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on a year-end spending bill in 2014 that bars the Department of Health and Human Services from tapping into other accounts to fund it.

Rubio’s role has injected presidential politics into the debate, making it all but impossible for GOP leaders to agree to the White House’s demands.  

The talks appeared to hit a wall Monday when Republicans ruled out fixing the risk corridors, which they panned as a “bailout for insurance companies.”

“This is not on the table. Risk corridors is fully off the table,” said a Senate Republican leadership aide.

Despite the disagreement, Republicans are feeling optimistic they can get the healthcare pieces worked out.

Repealing the Cadillac tax, which hits the health plans of union members especially hard, is a priority of Reid’s and many Democrats.

But that was the “soak the rich” component of ObamaCare because only “rich”, well to do, greedy, people had those plans they said.They kneww they were lying but they didn’t care. The Agenda Uber Alles. It was a funding mechanism they used to sell the CBO (and thus con everyone else) on the BS that is ObamaCare.

My Blog Nearly 6 years ago (January 8th, 2010):

Those who think they’ll be exempt from the tax because their health care insurance isn’t one that Obama would define as a “super, gold-plated Cadillac” plan are kidding themselves. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, director of the Congressional Budget Office under George W. Bush, says 95% of Americans who are covered by plans that fit into the Cadillac category make less than $250,000 a year.

Even groups on the left get it. As Jim Kessler, vice president for policy for the progressive Third Way think tank, puts it: “A lot of those folks that have Cadillac plans have Chevy wages.”

Also don’t believe the claim that the tax will be on the insurance companies only. Sure, insurers will write the checks to Washington. But they’ll forward their costs to the customers, adding to a tax burden that’s already too punitive — and going to get worse.

“Passing the tax on to workers would result in an effective tax rate that is even higher than the specified 40%,” Curtis S. Dubay wrote in October in a Heritage Foundation WebMemo. “When the insurance companies embed the cost of the excise tax in premiums, the prices of plans will rise. A higher price means the excise tax would be higher, too.”

This would happen when the tax on a $10,000 individual plan adds $600 (40% of the $1,500 beyond the $8,500 threshold) to the cost, leaving a new premium of $10,600. The new cost will then be subject to the tax, boosting the premium another $840 (40% of the $2,100 over the $8,500 threshold). By now, that $10,000 plan is costing $11,440 a year.

“This cascading effect,” explains Dubay, “could raise the effective rate for the excise tax to 67% according to one estimate — considerably higher than the 40% specified in the bill.”

The problems don’t stop there. The growing premiums will drive many private employers that provide coverage for their workers to downgrade to cheaper insurance plans, which defeats the effort to improve health care.

A Liberal Democrat “soak the rich” scheme that blows up in their face and does the exact opposite. Nah, that never happened before…

See Alternative Minimum Tax 🙂

history2

The good news is, it looks like the Obamacare Cadillac tax will be repealed and insurance companies will have to take the hit they signed up for when they agreed to Obamacare years ago.

I’ll leave you with this, which explains why Democrats and Republicans are on board with repealing the Cadillac Tax.

They knew this 6 years ago, but THE AGENDA IS THE AGENDA, after all. 🙂

Most Americans don’t know what their insurance plans are worth. They’re happy to let their employers pay the premiums for them and believe that the money isn’t coming out of their pockets.

Very true.

Very Very true.

I heard a woman say, “Well, I just got out of the hospital. It cost $150,000. And I paid nothing. It was wonderful”

She was complaining about a $42 State Mandated charge in her car insurance. Because “I’m poor you know”. “I’m on a fixed income” (aka I relied on Social Security to pay for my glorious retirement).

And now 6 years later with the economy in the crapper because of Liberals they do it EVEN MORE now than they use.

People may not know the value of ANY insurance, but politicians know the value of politics. 🙂

“These are plans,” says the St. Pete newspaper, “that generally have very low co-pays and lots of extras.”

Sound familiar? Then either be prepared to pay more, or be stuck with a brass-plated, Yugo plan that’s more affordable. And while learning to settle for less, don’t forget: This grand reform effort coming out of Washington is supposed to improve our health care.(IBD and my Blog- January 2010).

It’s Bailout time, and you get stuck with Government “improved” Health Care and The Check.

Congrats. It’s a Whopper (from your own Burger KING). 🙂

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

Terror Speech, Rick McKee,The Augusta Chronicle,Obama, ISIS, terrorism, terror, San Bernardino

Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy

 

 

It’s a Drag

Everywhere you turn these days, liberals are bemoaning the harm caused by “austerity.” The left-wing Center for American Progress claims spending cuts will cost 2 million jobs over the next seven years. The Brookings Institution says they’ve already cost 2 million.

Former Obama Treasury Secretary Larry Summers complained last week that austerity postponed “the acceleration of recovery . . . more than it needed.” Democratic National Committee communications director Brad Woodhouse took to Twitter to wonder “what our economy would be doing if not for #GOPSequester, GOP refusal to make needed investments.”

The press has swallowed this and routinely blames bad economic news on “Washington’s austerity drive.”

The liberals’ mantra is understandable, since it supports their belief in an endlessly increasing federal government while blaming any bad economic news at Republicans who have been pushing spending cuts.

But researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco looked at the data and came to a completely different conclusion. They find that it’s not the modest spending restraint pushed by Republicans that’s harming growth prospects, it’s the massive tax cuts Obama has engineered — tax hikes that liberals and the mainstream press ignore when they whine about austerity.

The researchers compared recent and projected spending and taxes to the historic norms at similar points in a business cycle. They found while deficits have fallen of late, spending is still higher, and tax receipts lower, than the norm at this point in a recovery. Fiscal policy, they say, has held back the recovery only “slightly to date.”

Over the next three years, however, the fiscal drag on the economy is “much bigger” — cutting projected growth by about 1 percentage point. But that’s not because of sequester-forced spending cuts.

“Despite all the attention federal spending cuts and sequestration have received, our calculations suggest they are not the main contributors to this projected drag,” they wrote. Even with the sequester, they found, outlays will stay above historic norms over the next three years.

Instead, the researchers found, “the excess fiscal drag on the horizon comes almost entirely from raising taxes.”

Taxes as a share of GDP are on track to rise well above historic averages and well above rates at comparable periods in previous recoveries.

And what explains this “super-cyclical” rise in taxes?

Well, let’s see. Obama forced through a $600 billion tax hike on upper-income families at the start of this year in the name of “fairness.”

Before that, he and his fellow Democrats imposed $1 trillion of new taxes for ObamaCare, taxes that are just now hitting the economy.

As a result, federal tax revenues as a share of GDP will hit 19.3% of GDP by 2015, a level reached just six times since World War II and well above the 17.9% average over the previous 40 years.

We’d only add that Obama’s other economic policies — an out-of-control regulatory state, the looming disaster known as ObamaCare, various attempts at industrial policy among them — have also weakened what should have been a robust recovery. (IBD)

But since it all fits The Agenda, it’s good. 🙂

After years of ignoring increasingly dire warnings, America is now facing a debilitating disability crisis — one draining tax dollars (and workers) from our economy.

Yet rather than reforming our broken entitlement programs, policymakers continue turning a blind eye to the root problems associated with these unsustainable behemoths: liberally defined benefits, lax bureaucrats, rubberstamping judges and rampant overpayments.

According to Cornell University’s latest “Disability Status Report,” 37.3 million Americans (or 12.1% of our population) claimed a disability in 2011. Many of these were legitimate ailments afflicting older retirees — but America’s disability epidemic cannot be chalked up exclusively to an aging population.

According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, 10.9 million working age Americans (and family members) received disability insurance payments in February — while another 8.2 million received supplemental security income payments.

Over the course of the year the total tab for these benefits could exceed $180 billion, an ongoing explosion of disability-related dependency that has pushed this program to the brink of insolvency.

That’s not hyperbole, either. A year ago the Social Security Board of Trustees announced the disability trust fund would be exhausted in 2016 — two years earlier than the previous estimate.

Open Definition

How did we arrive at this point? Well, after remaining relatively flat during the late 1970s and 1980s, the number of disability dependents spiked by 84% from 1990-2003 while the costs associated with the program climbed from $38 billion to $77 billion annually.

The last five years have seen even more unsustainable growth as the number of workers receiving disability payments jumped from 7.1 million in December 2007 to 8.8 million in February 2013 — a 22.5% increase. Meanwhile, annual applications for disability benefits nearly doubled over the last decade — from 1.5 million in 2001 to 2.8 million a year ago.

The primary driver of this unchecked expansion is government’s ever-expanding definition of “disability” — with mitigating factor presumptions, combinations of non-severe impairments (such as “persistent anxiety” and “chronic fatigue”) and liberal interpretation standards making it much easier for individuals to claim a “total disability.”

Government even takes into account external factors such as the job market in reaching its determination.

“If there are not a ‘significant number’ of jobs available, then a claimant … is deemed to be ‘disabled’ even though he or she is still capable of competitive work, albeit at a reduced level of performance,” an article in the Cato Institute’s Regulation Magazine noted.

The impact of downwardly defining “disability” can be seen in a recent analysis of government data conducted by reporter Chana Joffe-Walt of NPR. According to Joffe-Walt’s report, there has been a fundamental shift in the nature of disability claims — away from serious and easily provable conditions and toward more dubious ailments.

In 1961 heart disease, stroke and related ailments made up the largest category of disability recipients (25.7%) — while a much smaller group (8.3%) cited harder-to-prove “back pain and other musculoskeletal problems.”

Flawed System

As of 2011, however, the heart disease and stroke category shrank to 10.6% of the dependent population while the back pain group exploded to 33.8%. Meanwhile, mental illness — another harder-to-prove category — saw its share of the disability population climb from 9.6% to 19.2%.

Last September, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., — a medical doctor — exposed several other major problems with the system when he conducted an investigation into disability benefit award decisions. According to his report, more than a quarter of disability cases analyzed by his committee “failed to properly address insufficient, contradictory or incomplete evidence.”

Coburn’s probe also found disability examiners and Social Security administrative law judges authorizing benefits “without citing adequate, objective medical evidence to support the finding; without explaining the medical basis for the decision; without showing how the claimant met basic listing elements; or at times without taking into account or explaining contradictory evidence.”

Poor hearing practices, late and insufficient evidence, misuse of medical listings and woefully outdated job listings for claimants with limited disabilities were also among the problems uncovered by Coburn’s investigation.

Taxpayers should not be forced to continue subsidizing such an inherently flawed, financially unsustainable system.

Unless action is taken now, bailout demands will likely overwhelm politicians of both parties who ignored the oncoming default all these years.

Unfortunately, with the exception of a handful of leaders such as Coburn, there remains virtually no appetite in Washington, D.C., to substantively address either the disability problem or our government’s broader entitlement addiction.

Gotta kiss up tio the dependent. They vote for politician to feed their drug habits. And politicians want them to feed their power addiction.

Michael Ramirez Cartoon

Political Cartoons by Gary McCoy

Political Cartoons by Gary McCoy

 

Merry Christmas From The Left

12-22-12

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

The U.S. Treasury is giving up $14 billion in tax revenue because of a sweetheart deal it’s giving General Motors.The automaker is expected to post its first profitable year since 2004 when it reports fourth-quarter results on Thursday. But GM won’t have to worry about being hit with a big tax bill because billions in previous losses will provide shelter for years to come.

That break will reduce GM’s U.S. tax bill by an estimated $14 billion in the coming years, and its global taxes by close to $19 billion, according to a company filing.

Companies typically get a break on future taxes because of past losses. But in most cases they lose that tax break during bankruptcy, because the losses are offset by the “income” the company receives from shedding its debt.

One reason the government might have let General Motors claim the loss, was to reduce the perceived cost of the bailout, said Linus Wilson, finance professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

By allowing GM to carry over its losses, the reduced tax collections from the company were unlikely to be counted under most accountings.

Also, the fact that GM kept the tax breaks made its stock more attractive at the time of its initial public offering last November, Wilson said.

I thought companies were evil when they got deals like this? It’s not very “fair”. 🙂

Oh, right, this a liberal darling so crony capitalism is perfectly acceptable.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

It’s the holiday season — a time of joy, giving and, of course, parents outraged about the prospect of religious symbolism appearing at the elementary school their children attend.

A different kind of Bullying Tactic…

When you hear “Silent Night,” do you feel bullied? At the Chief Charlo Elementary School in Missoula, Montana, a group of parents wrote a letter to the school, threatening to sue over the Christmas concert if the kids sing songs with religious connotations, like “Joy to the World.” But it wasn’t just “separation of church and state.” They have a new twist: they claim that since there are Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist students, having them sing Christmas songs that refer to Christ is a form of bullying. I bet if Christians kids were taught a Jewish song for Hanukkah or a Muslim prayer for Ramadan, they’d consider it “diversity.” If just hearing “Joy to the World” makes you feel bullied, then your world must be truly terrifying. (Mike Huckabee)

A group of Montana parents are saying that the sound of the angelic voices of children singing Christmas carols is NOT a joyful noise.

They have accused the Chief Charlo Elementary School in Missoula, Montana of creating an environment that allows bullying by including yuletide tunes that reference Jesus Christ at a school holiday concert.

The protesting parents say their children are ‘forced to be reformed to what is seen as the majority’ by singing the holiday melodies and claimed their children would be ‘singled out’ and ‘targeted’ if they did not join in with the caroling.

An anonymous letter was sent to the school superintendent last week, expressing outrage at the repertoire of holiday tunes.

‘We pay the taxes for this school. It is a public school. I have no problem with children having personal religious practices at school but to choose one religion and make it part of the curriculum is wrong,’

‘My children are crying because they don’t want to be singled out but what they are doing in school directly conflicts with their faith,’ the parent continued, claiming students would be ‘targeted’ if they expressed discomfort at singing a religious carol.

‘Bullying is such a hot topic, yet that seems to be what is occurring here,’ the parent wrote, adding that the students were being ‘forced to be reformed to what is seen as the majority.’

But the school denied that the selection of holiday songs was creating antagonism among the students, according to John Combs, the fine arts director for the school district who oversaw the musical selection.

‘If I thought students were being bullied we would take measures to ensure that wasn’t happening,’ he told the MailOnline.

According to Combs, the musical offerings try ‘to strike a balance’ between the different traditions of the holidays.

‘We want the students to be exposed to a number of things. There will be some years where there will be no sacred music and some years there is.’

‘Every year we get comments from one side or the other. Either the concert is too religious or it’s not religious enough.’

‘It doesn’t create a constitutional crisis to sing Christmas songs at Christmastime,’ David Cortman,
senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), told the MailOnline.

Mr Cortman noted the educational importance of the concert as a ‘truncated view of our culture and of music in general.’

‘If every time there was a piece of art or classical musical with a religious theme, we censored it – we would be eliminating much from the students’ education.’

Mr Cortman added there is no ‘basis for a legal challenge’ in the complaint from the Montana parents, who have yet to identify themselves. 

He noted another example that occurred in late October, when an atheist group complained that students at the Terry Elementary School in Little Rock, Arkansas were invited to a local church to see a performance of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’

Though the trip was voluntary and the program not religious in nature, a statement from the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers said, ‘The problem is that it’s got religious content and it’s being performed in a religious venue and that doesn’t just blur the line between church and state, it oversteps it entirely.’ (Daily Mail)

Wish people a Merry Christmas, say it to annoy a Liberal while you can. 🙂

Obama's Bullet Points on Health Care

Political Cartoons by Steve Kelley
Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

Food For The Sowell Chapter 2

Political Cartoons by Robert Ariail

President Obama today issued a stern warning to Republicans in Congress threatening to use the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip in deficit negotiations, saying “it is not a game that I will play.”

“I want to send a very clear message to people here: We are not going to play that game next year. If Congress in any way suggests that they’re going to tie negotiations to debt ceiling votes and take us to the brink of default once again as part of a budget negotiation, which, by the way, we have never done in our history until we did it last year, I will not play that game,” Obama told some of the nation’s top CEOs at the Business Roundtable in Washington. “We’ve got to break that habit before it starts.” (ABC)

Detroit wants expects a bailout.

City Council member JoAnn Watson said Tuesday the citizens support of Obama in last month’s election was enough reason for the president to bailout the struggling the city.

“Our people in an overwhelming way supported the re-election of this president and there ought to be a quid pro quo and you ought to exercise leadership on that,” said Watson. “Of course, not just that, but why not?”

Oh goodness.

“After the election of Jimmy Carter, the honorable Coleman Alexander Young, he went to Washington, D.C. and came home with some bacon,” said Watson. “That’s what you do.” (WP)

Detroit is $1.6 Trillion in debt. Detroit has always been a liberal haven, it’s ruin by Unions mostly (yes that was a Freudian slip :)). But this is nakedly, unashamed liberal narcissism.

Bribe them, and they will come (to vote for you) now they want their Ton of bacon! And they want it now!!!!

So they can spread it to all the little bacon-nippers they’ve bribed.

The Circle of Liberal life!

Thomas Sowell: One of the big advantages that President Obama has, as he plays “chicken” with the Congressional Republicans along the “fiscal cliff,” is that Obama is a master of the plausible lie, which will never be exposed by the mainstream media– nor, apparently, by the Republicans.

A key lie that has been repeated over and over, largely unanswered, is that President Bush’s “tax cuts for the rich” cost the government so much lost tax revenue that this added to the budget deficit– so that the government cannot afford to allow the cost of letting the Bush tax rates continue for “the rich.”

Joseph Goebbels: If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

And with a  24/7/365 Ministry of Truth it is a LOT easier to do.

It sounds very plausible, and constant repetition without a challenge may well be enough to convince the voting public that, if the Republican-controlled House of Representatives does not go along with Barack Obama’s demands for more spending and higher tax rates on the top 2 percent, it just shows that they care more for “the rich” than for the other 98 percent.

What is remarkable is how easy it is to show how completely false Obama’s argument is. That also makes it completely inexplicable why the Republicans have not done so.

The official statistics which show plainly how wrong Barack Obama is can be found in his own “Economic Report of the President” for 2012, on page 411. You can look it up.

You may be able to find a copy of the “Economic Report of the President” for 2012 at your local public library. Or you can buy a hard copy from the Government Printing Office or download an electronic version from the Internet.

For those who find that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” they need only see the graphs published in the November 30th issue of Investor’s Business Daily.

http://www.nber.org/erp/ERP_2012_Complete.pdf

IBD: Turn to Pages 411-413 of his 2012 Economic Report of the President, published by the Council of Economic Advisers. They show that “the math,” as Obama is wont to say, in fact does add up for tax cuts.

After President Bush in late May 2003 signed the largest tax cut since President Reagan — including dropping the top marginal rate to 35% from 39.6% — government receipts from individual income taxes rose from $793.7 billion to a peak of $1.16 trillion in 2007, when the mortgage crisis began, a 47% jump.

Stronger economic growth expanded the tax base and brought in so much revenue that Bush more than halved the deficit over that period. The budget gap plunged to $160.7 billion from $377.6 billion, according to the president’s report.

Perhaps the most impressive statistic appears on Page 412, one that undercuts Obama’s core argument against continuing the Bush tax cuts.

The post-tax-cut surge in economic growth and tax revenues helped drive down the deficit from 3.5% of gross domestic product in 2004 to 2.6% in 2005, to 1.9% in 2006 and to a manageable 1.2% in 2007.

Based on Bush fiscal policies, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected budget deficits of 0.7% to 1.5% of GDP for the years 2008 through 2011. The CBO even predicted surpluses for the subsequent years through 2018.

What derailed the forecast was the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008.

This financial anomaly threw the economy into a deep recession, beginning in December 2007, and forced a collapse in federal tax revenues.

As a result, the deficit-to-GDP ratio shot up to 10% in 2009 and has remained around that level, thanks to record Obama spending.

(The recession technically ended in June 2009.)

Obama’s economic report shows that the average deficit-to-GDP ratio during the entire Bush administration — 2001 to 2009 — was 2%, which is well below the 50-year average of 3%.

During the Obama years, in contrast, the same deficit ratio has averaged 9.1%.

The Bush tax cuts did not “cost” the Treasury revenues. Nor did they increase income inequality.

When fully implemented, they increased the portion of the income tax burden that fell on the wealthiest Americans.

The top 1% of taxpayers went from paying 38.4% of overall taxes to 39.1%, while the bottom 50% saw their share drop from 3.4% to 3.1%.

And as a percentage of the economy, deficits shrank to historically low levels.

Record red ink flowed much later as the housing market toppled and government spending shot up.

New spending on welfare programs and Obama’s $1.9 trillion national health care entitlement threaten only to compound the budget crisis.

Yet he proposes backloading any promised spending controls while front-loading “revenue increases” from tax hikes. (IBD)

What both the statistical tables in the “Economic Report of the President” and the graphs in Investor’s Business Daily show is that (1) tax revenues went up– not down– after tax rates were cut during the Bush administration, and (2) the budget deficit declined, year after year, after the cut in tax rates that have been blamed by Obama for increasing the deficit.

Indeed, the New York Times reported in 2006: “An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year.”

While the New York Times may not have expected this, there is nothing unprecedented about lower tax rates leading to higher tax revenues, despite automatic assumptions by many in the media and elsewhere that tax rates and tax revenues automatically move in the same direction. They do not.

The Congressional Budget Office has been embarrassed repeatedly by making projections based on the assumption that tax revenues and tax rates move in the same direction.

This has happened as recently as the George W. Bush administration and as far back as the Reagan administration. Moreover, tax revenues went up when tax rates went down, as far back as the Coolidge administration, before there was a Congressional Budget Office to make false predictions.

The bottom line is that Barack Obama’s blaming increased budget deficits on the Bush tax cuts is demonstrably false. What caused the decreasing budget deficits after the Bush tax cuts to suddenly reverse and start increasing was the mortgage crisis. The deficit increased in 2008, followed by a huge increase in 2009.

So it is sheer hogwash that “tax cuts for the rich” caused the government to lose tax revenues. The government gained tax revenues, not lost them. Moreover, “the rich” paid a larger amount of taxes, and a larger share of all taxes, after the tax rates were cut.

That is because people change their economic behavior when tax rates are changed, contrary to what the Congressional Budget Office and others seem to assume, and this can stimulate the economy more than a government “stimulus” has done under either Bush or Obama.

Yet there is no need to assume that Barack Obama is mistaken about the way to get the economy out of the doldrums. His top priority has always been increasing the size and scope of government. If that means sacrificing the economy or the truth, that is no deterrent to Obama. That is why he is willing to play chicken with Republicans along the fiscal cliff.

The end justify the means.  It’s only “fair” 🙂

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

Political Cartoons by Chuck Asay

Political Cartoons by Chuck Asay

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

Michael Ramirez Cartoon

 

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

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.

 

Got Money?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is going to delay implementation and revisit a proposed new 15 cent fee on fresh-cut Christmas trees,  sources tell ABC News. 🙂

Heritage Foundation assailing the president thus: “The economy is barely growing and nine percent of the American people have no jobs. Is a new tax on Christmas trees the best President Obama can do? And, by the way, the American Christmas tree has a great image that doesn’t need any help from the government.”

White House spokesman Matt Lehrich told ABC News that despite some media coverage, “I can tell you unequivocally that the Obama Administration is not taxing Christmas trees. What’s being talked about here is an industry group deciding to impose fees on itself to fund a promotional campaign, similar to how the dairy producers have created the ‘Got Milk?’ campaign.”

Got Tax? 🙂

If They won’t even own up to this. Can you imagine, Fast & Furious? 🙂

****************

Mortgage giant Fannie Mae is asking the federal government for $7.8 billion in aid to cover its losses in the July-September quarter.

The government-controlled company said Tuesday that it lost $7.6 billion in the third quarter. Low mortgage rates reduced profits and declining home prices caused more defaults on loans it had guaranteed.

Chronic Unemployment doesn’t help. But that’s the Republican’s/Bush/Tea Party/The Rich/Banks Fault! 🙂

The government rescued Fannie Mae and sibling company Freddie Mac in September 2008 to cover their losses on soured mortgage loans. Since then, a federal regulator has controlled their financial decisions.

Taxpayers have spent about $169 billion to rescue Fannie and Freddie, the most expensive bailout of the 2008 financial crisis. The government estimates that figure could reach up $220 billion to support the companies through 2014 after subtracting dividend payments.

Fannie has received $112.6 billion so far from the Treasury Department, the most expensive bailout of a single company.

Michael Williams, Fannie’s president and CEO, said Fannie’s losses are increasing for two reasons: Some homeowners are paying less interest after refinancing at historically low mortgage rates; others are defaulting on their mortgages.

Well, having no job or losing one is one major factor.

And the official unemployment has been over 8% since February 2009 and the real one around 17% for nearly 3 years. So much so that even 99 weeks of unemployment has not been enough.

But that’s Bush, the Republicans, the Tea Party’s, The Rich’s, Corporate America’s Fault! 🙂
“Despite these challenges, we are making solid progress,” he said. For example, Fannie’s rate of homeowners who are late on their monthly mortgage payments by 90 days or more has decreased each quarter since the beginning of 2010, he said.

When property values drop, homeowners default, either because they are unable to afford the payments or because they owe more than the property is worth. Because of the guarantees, Fannie and Freddie must pay for the losses.

Government control at it’s finest! And just think what they’ll do with Health Care!! 🙂

Fannie said lower mortgage rates contributed to $4.5 billion in quarterly losses.

Got Bailout?

******************

News that make you go Hmmmm…

Herman Cain has spent his life living and working all over the country — Indiana, Georgia, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, Washington, D.C. — but never in Chicago.

So it’s curious that all the sexual harassment allegations against Cain emanate from Chicago: home of the Daley machine and Obama consigliere David Axelrod.

Suspicions had already fallen on Sheila O’Grady, who is close with David Axelrod and went straight from being former Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley’s chief of staff to president of the Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA), as being the person who dug up Herman Cain’s personnel records from the National Restaurant Association (NRA).

The Daley-controlled IRA works hand-in-glove with the NRA. And strangely enough, Cain’s short, three-year tenure at the NRA is evidently the only period in his decades-long career during which he’s alleged to have been a sexual predator.

After O’Grady’s name surfaced in connection with the miraculous appearance of Cain’s personnel files from the NRA, she issued a Clintonesque denial of any involvement in producing them — by vigorously denying that she knew Cain when he was at the NRA. (Duh.)

And now, after a week of conservative eye-rolling over unspecified, anonymous accusations against Cain, we’ve suddenly got very specific sexual assault allegations from an all-new accuser out of … Chicago.

Herman Cain has never lived in Chicago. But you know who has? David Axelrod! And guess who lived in Axelrod’s very building? Right again: Cain’s latest accuser, Sharon Bialek.

Bialek’s accusations were certainly specific. But they also demonstrated why anonymous accusations are worthless.

Within 24 hours of Bialek’s press conference, friends and acquaintances of hers stepped forward to say that she’s a “gold-digger,” that she was constantly in financial trouble — having filed for personal bankruptcy twice — and, of course, that she had lived in Axelrod’s apartment building at 505 North Lake Shore Drive, where, she admits, she knew the man The New York Times calls Obama’s “hired muscle.”

Throw in some federal tax evasion, and she’s Obama’s next Cabinet pick.

The reason all this is relevant is that both Axelrod and Daley have a history of smearing political opponents by digging up claims of sexual misconduct against them. (ann coulter)

But don’t worry, Democrats don’t care about morals or ethics. Winning is the only option. After all, they are always right.

Now I feel better…Anyone else need a shower?

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

Political Cartoons by Dana Summers