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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics
is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Smith, Major, USAF-Retired (former enlisted): I have shared the below Documentary video on numerous Facebook accounts, groups and fan pages and other locations. I could do no less for fellow veterans and civilian intelligence operators who served in harms-way. They love their country and they see they have seen the harm created by disclosure of classified or sensitive information relative to military and intelligence operations.
I was infuriated on Friday by Washington Post editorial columnist Charles Lane's comment on Fox News with Bret Baier. Lane said "I don’t believe military and intelligence people, even retired, should have a major role in politics." Lane's comment may be viewed at this Fox News link at 01:04 into the video.
Some where along the line, Lane's arrogance has got the best of him. Of course, those living in and around Washington, D.C., often find themselves defending indefensible statements. Lane obviously believes that he has earned the right to comment, or to fail to comment, or to inappropriately comment on national and political issues. However, he does not believe that those who have risked their lives for our county should have that privilege. He said what he believes: retired military and former members of the military and intelligence people have no major role in politics. Well, tell that to Rep Allen West and other members of Congress who are veterans.
I guess Lane would have disqualified every former military veteran from being in politics and becoming president. Starting with General George Washington, 39 of our presidents have served in regular military units or some form of military service. Lane appears to believe that our present commander-in-chief is qualified since he ha never served in any form of military service. And that is a critical point. The present Obama White House is leaking like a sieve and has and continues to place lives of human assets in other countries and our own military and intelligence operations at risk. With wanton disregard, the White House has leaked operational information for political purposes that compromised a vital intelligence source.
Below is the documentary, "Dishonorable Disclosure." Please take time to view and listen to these former Intelligence and Special Operations experts, military and civilians, democrats, republicans and independents who are speaking out. Mr. Lane said that National Security is not an issue in the Presidential election. Well tell that to the families of those coming home in body bags or who are not coming home at all. Tell that to the American citizens when another terrorist attack happens. One of the chief constitutional responsibility of the President is national security! Unfortunately, either the President's inexperience, lack of due diligence, or possibly his personal disregard or disdain has and is placing at risk all Americans, our allies, and specifically those whom serve in the intelligence and special operations units.
Special Ops OPSEC is a standing non-partisan, independent watchdog organization entitled OPSEC. These organization exists for two purposes:
First, we seek the removal of political benefit to those disclosing classified/sensitive information pertaining to special operations and intelligence activities.
Second, given the practice of public disclosure of classified or sensitive information pertaining to military or intelligence practices and methods by this administration.
Intelligence and Special Operations forces are furious and frustrated at how President Obama and those in positions of authority have exploited their service for political advantage. Countless leaks, interviews and decisions by the Obama Administration and other government officials have undermined the success of our Intelligence and Special Operations forces and put future missions and personnel at risk.
The unwarranted and dangerous public disclosure of Special Forces Operations is so serious -- that for the first time ever -- former operators have agreed to risk their reputations and go 'on the record' in a special documentary titled "Dishonorable Disclosures." Its goal is to educate America about serious breaches of security and prevent them from ever happening again.
Use of military ranks, titles and photographs in uniform in the following video does not imply endorsement of the Dept of the Army or the Department of Defense. All individuals are no longer in active service with any federal agency or military service.
Tags:OPSEC, Dishonorable Disclosure, intelligence, human intelligence, keeping secrets, classified information, White House, leaks, leaking mission information, risking lives, national security, politics, experts, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
With no record to run on, President Obama and the liberal Democrats continue to practice Chicago-style politics, making false accusations that disgrace the Office of the President. President Obama and his allies have gone from implying that Governor Romney is a felon and murderer to saying that Republicans want to put Americans in chains.
Watch this recent video to see how the Obama campaign and the liberal Democrats have gone too far.
It's time for President Obama and the liberal Democrats to take responsibility for the tone and rhetoric coming from their reelection machine. Tags:Reince Priebus, Chairman, Republican National Committee, RNC, video, Democrats, Anger, Division, attacksTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
The below note from a reader reminded me of an article posted on Blogs For Borders on Oct. 26, 2011 titled Do American Jobs Need Protection From Illegals?. The article quoted from the "Federal Observer" and included my comments which are still relevant!
"The . . . article deals with the issue of American citizens being out of work and the fact that illegals were taking the jobs. This same scenario has morphed back into existence today. America in the past two decades was been a magnet for people to enter both legally and illegally. However, today there is price to be paid for lax border security. Now we have 20 million illegal aliens living in our country. If we were to remove them from the U.S., it may require an operations similar to those under the administrations of Presidents Hoover, Truman and Eisenhower. Our growing unemployment will explode even further with the return of our military from the numerous combat operations that the US has been involved with."
Almost ten month has passed since the previous article. Are things better? NO! Unemployment is worse! The Economy is worse! Our country is more in debt! The troops have or are now coming home to NO JOBS. The U.S. has even more illegals because of the Obama policies toward illegals and border security. Now, President Obama has opted to usurp our laws and has granted "temporary" amnesty by deferring the deportation of a certain class of illegals in our country. Illegals that are now permitted to openly get in line for American citizen's jobs and for seats in college classrooms. Many may continue to argue that these are young people went to American Schools and are needed workers.
Why are they "needed? workers? We have high unemployment! Do we need these illegals going on to college or taking jobs away from legal American citizens and away from those legally immigrating to our country? Also, should we allow the creation of this fourth class of people in America? Previously we had American citizens, legal immigrants in process of gaining their citizenship, and illegals.
Now we have the Obama's illegal class! These newly "registered" illegals are being given false hope unless, of course, Obama is re-elected. Since these illegals are NOT going through the legal process of becoming a legal resident; they remain without the legal rights of American citizens. Can Obama force States to violate their laws regarding illegals?
This new Obama illegal class must now submit to the desired wishes of the person (Barack Obama) who granting them temporary amnesty in hopes they may gain American citizenship ahead of those who followed the laws and regulations for becoming legal citizens. Having no true allegiance to the Constitution or the rule of law, will they become a force supportive of a potential tyrant?
Returning to the readers note quoted below, I tweeted today @arra: POTUS Hoover, Truman & Eisenhower ordered removal of #illegals from US to make jobs available to US citizens. Should we do this today?" If you are on twitter, let me know your opinion. Or, post a comment on this article. . . . Tags:jobs, unemployment, the economy, history, illegal aliens, deportation, amnestyTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
The President: I Want to Lose Some More of Your Money
Have you heard the old joke about the lousy businessman who says he loses money on every sale, but he makes up for it with high volume? Well, it seems the jokes on us…and we’re not laughing.
by Curtis Coleman, Contributing Author: According to a report from Reuters, the President’s bailout of the auto industry will cost us $3.4 billion more than previously thought. The U.S. Treasury “now estimates the 2009 bailout will eventually cost the government $25.1 billion. That’s up from the last quarterly estimate of $21.7 billion.
I’m sorry, did they say, “cost the government $25.1 billion?” How about “cost taxpayers $25.1 billion.” It just blows my mind that people who work for “the government” actually think “thegovernment” has any money.
Now, remember the old joke about the lousy businessman who says he loses money on every sale, but he makes up for it with high volume? Well, the jokes on you and me because President Obama has been bragging “about the success of his decision to provide ‘government assistance’ to the auto industry.”
“Now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs,” the President said, “not just in the auto industry, but in every industry…”
So in the mind-numbing event that you’re planning to vote for Mr. Obama in November, take an additional check for $18,500 made out to “the government” to the ballot box with you. Oh, wait, never mind. If you’re voting for Mr. Obama, you’re probably one of the 48 percent of Americans who doesn’t pay any taxes.
-------------- Curtis Coleman is the President, Curtis Coleman's Institute for Constitutional Policy and contributing author to the ARRA News Service. Tags:Curtis Coleman, President Obama, losing money, wasteful spending, auto industry, bailout, Dan Mitchell, International Liberty, taxes, Debt, Deficit, Government, BusinessTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Joe Biden: "Romney Gawn To Put Y'all Back In Chains." Truth: Black Unemployment under the Obama Administration Is 14 Percent (Real Economic Chains). Tags:Joe Biden, blacks, chains, Obama administration, unemployment, blacks, economic chains, no jobs, political cartoon, AF BrancoTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Announced Speakers for the 2012 Republican Convention
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has announced the following headliners speaker for Republican National Convention 2012 , August 27-30, in Tampa, Florida. It is noted that with the convention being held in Florida, a large number of speakers are from Florida. Obviously, the "presumptive" candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan who will be nominated at the convention will speak as well. More speakers to be announced as the RNC counts down to the convention.
Chairman Priebus said, "We are proud and excited to announce these outstanding leaders will address the nation during our convention in Tampa. They are some of our party's brightest stars, who have governed and led effectively and admirably in their respective roles. Ours will be a world class convention, worthy of the next president of the United States, and these speakers-and those that will be announced later-will help make it a truly memorable and momentous event."
The announced speakers are:
Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, will introduce Mitt Romney for his speech to accept the Republican nomination for president of the United States on Thursday, August 30.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie As a keynote speaker, he will make the case for America's Comeback Team and will rally The Republican party and country in support of the Romney-Ryan ticket.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, the first female governor of South Carolina and the youngest sitting governor in the United States.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, the 44th governor of Arkansas and 2008 presidential candidate is a NY Times best-selling author, radio and television show host.
Ohio Governor John Kasich, former House Budget Committee chairman.
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, the first female Hispanic governor in the U.S. and the first female governor of New Mexico.
Arizona Senator John McCain, the party's 2008 nominee, now serving his fifth term in the U.S. Senate.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, America's 66th secretary of state and the first African-American female to hold the position.
Florida Governor Rick Scott, 45th governor of Florida, the convention host state.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, 43rd governor of Florida and current chairman of the Foundation for Florida's Future.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, first woman to serve as both Oklahoma's lieutenant governor and governor, and the first woman elected to Congress from Oklahoma since the 1920s.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul, junior senator from Kentucky and founder of the U.S. Senate Tea Party Caucus.
Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, 2012 presidential primary candidate, and U.S. Senator (1995-2007) and U.S. Representative (1991-1995) from Pennsylvania.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Florida's 37th attorney general and first female attorney general in state history.
Texas Republican U.S. Senate Nominee Ted Cruz, former Texas solicitor general (first Hispanic and youngest person in that position).
Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño, first Republican elected governor of Puerto Rico since 1969 and first Republican representative from Puerto Rico elected to Congress.
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, former chairman of the Cobb County Commission.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, 45th governor of Wisconsin and the first U.S. governor to have successfully kept their seat in a recall election.
U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, United States Senator from New Hampshire and former New Hampshire Attorney General.
Former Democratic National Convention Speaker Artur Davis, former Alabama congressman from the 7th District (2003-2011) who was the first member of Congress not from Illinois to endorse President Obama in 2008. Davis, then a Democrat, seconded the official nomination of Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He recently announced he is joining the Republican Party and supporting Mitt Romney.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, 55th governor of Louisiana, winning election in 2007 and winning re-election in all of the state's 64 parishes in 2011; former U.S. Congressman; led the state's response to the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf in 2010.
Congressman Connie Mack Florida's Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate; first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2004.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, chairman of the Republican Governors Association and chairman of the Republican National Convention Committee on Resolutions (the Platform Committee).
Tags:RNC 2012, Republican National Convention, Tampa, Florida, election, 2012, speakersTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
“A Better Future” to be Republican Convention Theme
“Americans are ready for a new direction,”~ Reice Priebus
Tampa, Fla. – Announcing that the theme of the 2012 Republican National Convention will be “A Better Future,” Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus today proclaimed that “Americans are ready for a new direction.”
“Americans are ready for a new direction, and that’s why our convention will focus on the Romney-Ryan vision for a better future,” Priebus said.
“After four years of high unemployment and skyrocketing debt, we need America’s ‘Comeback Team’ to get the country working again and protect the American Dream for our children and grandchildren,” said Priebus. “During our convention, the American people will hear about the priorities, experience and knowhow of our nominees and their plans to secure a better future for our country.”
“This convention will bring together Americans from every corner of the country and every walk of life,” said convention Chief Executive Officer William Harris. “Whatever their background, wherever they’re from, they know too well that our country faces serious problems. But they also know that the American people have confronted difficult challenges before, and that together, with strong leadership, we can overcome those challenges and secure a better future for generations to come.” Tags:RNC 2012, Tampa, Florida, Convention Theme, A Better futureTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
NBC Newswoman Andrea Mitchell 's Analysis Betrays Bias / Ignorance
by Marybeth Hicks, Family Events: On Saturday, while covering the announcement that Gov. Mitt Romney had chosen Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, NBC newswoman Andrea Mitchell announced with authority that Congressman Ryan was "not a pick for suburban moms. This was not a pick for women. This was a pick for the base."
Ms. Mitchell demonstrated something I have long suspected: her accumulated knowledge about suburban moms would fit on the head of a pin.
Forgive a blunt observation when I say that merely having a female anatomy does not make you an expert on the opinions of other women. I think I speak for millions of women across America when I say we are sick of other women speaking for us!
Ms. Mitchell is neither a suburban resident nor a mom, and she's certainly not a coupon clipper. In fact, her well-established liberal bon a fides render her analysis of women voters meaningless anyway. Yet she's able to stand in front of a camera and pronounce the likely response of her gender, simply because she can wear a skirt to work that is not a kilt.
Women like Ms. Mitchell are working hard to keep alive the bogus "war on women" meme, in which American females, presumably obsessed with having lots and lots of sex, are under attack by old, white, men (and the Catholic church) intent on taking away their birth control.
It's a notion so ridiculous (and by the way, so insulting to all women) that it feels absurd to even type that sentence.
In reality, suburban moms and women generally care most about the same thing that concerns suburban dads and men: Our pathetic economy and the lack of good jobs for our husbands, our teens and young adult children, and us.
Yes, we're concerned about health care. But feminists would have us believe that we're threatened because college girls must pay for their own birth control pills (as if having premarital sex during college is a civil right). We could not care less.
We're too busy scrounging around our wallets for the $20 needed for sports physicals so our kids can join a team this fall. And to be sure, we care about the $70 we're spending to fill the gas tank in order to drive our sons and daughters to campus in the first place.
Main Stream Media types like Ms. Mitchell may not know much about the real concerns of suburban moms, but they all know this much: Research shows it is so-called "Walmart Moms" who are likely to decide this very close and crucial election.
I'm not talking about "The People of Walmart" – the uneducated, mullet-sporting, NASCAR fans that the left believes them to be – but the college-educated, married, religious, moderate and conservative women who literally shop at Walmart about once a week. (Raise your hand if that's you. Me too!)
"Walmart Moms" are the wives and mothers and grandmothers who are holding their families together, mending clothes that don't really fit, outfitting the kids for school at second hand stores, recycling last year's school supplies, and serving meatless meals not because it's the cool, vegan thing to do, but because the ground beef is not on sale.
Ms. Mitchell's "insights" about us to the contrary, the "women's issue" that matters to suburban moms and women in this election year is our stagnant economy and the uncertain future it is carving out for our children and for us.
The women who could make or break this election will not be pigeonholed into the media's liberal narrative. They're going to take a long, fair look at Paul Ryan and they may just conclude that this is a pick that says Gov. Romney is serious about fixing what is wrong in America.
New Gallup poll today finds that President Obama gets “poor marks on . . . three big economic issues: the federal budget deficit, creating jobs, and the economy generally.” Gallup writes, “He earns his lowest issue ratings on the economic issue areas tested in the survey, with approval on the federal budget deficit the lowest at 30%, and his approval on the economy not much higher, at 36%.”
Gallup also points out, “Obama's ratings on the economy are significantly worse than all three prior successful presidential incumbents at this same point in their first term, according to the available Gallup trends. . . . Comparing presidents' various issue approval ratings to their overall job approval ratings from the same polls, it appears that the economy approval rating is consistently the closest to overall job approval, and therefore arguably the most relevant.”
Suggest reading yesterday's comments by the ARRA News editor related to an excellent article by Paul Wiseman: "Weakest Economic Recovery Since World War II" Tags:Gallup Poll, low marks, the economy, weakest economyTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison: Ben is a young friend of ours who was an intern in our Washington office. This summer, Ben is working on yard crews and in restaurants prior to going into the military. This recent college grad is getting quite an education working with the working poor.
Ben challenges us: What can you say to young men and women who are working at minimum wage, who are not concerned about social issues like abortion and marriage, who are unchurched and uninterested in the threats we see to religious liberty? These young Americans are just trying to keep their heads above water. There are millions of younger people in America who are working at such entry level jobs. They don’t have health care coverage.
These young workers are not dumb and they should not be patronized. They know that things are not working out for them. They fear a dead-end on the road they’re traveling.
When President Obama offers health care coverage, when he touts community college and training opportunities, when he speaks of raising the minimum wage and expanding college student loans, this has to sound good to Ben’s co-workers.
What should I say to them, Ben asks? It’s a very good question. How about offering your co-workers a choice between stilts and ladders? Most construction workers are familiar with stilts. They’re used on a lot job sites. You strap them on and they can help a worker reach places previously inaccessible. They are useful tools—for the problems of here and now.
Mr. Obama’s program is offering stilts. We need to be honest with young workers. They will have access to things they could not reach before. They may see an increase in their immediate take-home pay. They will gain something from his administration.
But stilts will only get you so far and no further. Stilts are forever limited and so will your future be limited.
What young workers need instead of stilts is ladders. Ladders can provide upward mobility. They can enable you to reach heights previously unattainable.
You may be on the lowest rung of the ladder now. But you can with effort and persistence rise. You may not reach the highest rung on that ladder. Very few of us will attain the heights of college dropouts like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. But you can rise. With ladders of opportunity, you can improve your lot.
If you doubt this, just check out the Cuban-Americans, the Vietnamese-Americans and a host of other immigrants who came to these shores with barely the clothes on their backs, but who have worked their way up.
Abraham Lincoln was proud of having been a manual laborer. He was a rail splitter, a barge man, a farm hand. That’s what gave him his great physical strength. But he also understood the right to rise. That’s what he was all about. One of the reasons he so staunchly opposed slavery is because it taught the masters — and many others in society — to despise honest work, to regard it as fit only for slaves.
Barack Obama’s socialist outlook respects work, too. But it sees everyone fixed in his or her class. It promises to “spread the wealth around,” instead of understanding how wealth is created in the first place.
Winston Churchill was right to say that capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings, while socialism is the equal sharing of misery. We are seeing that equal sharing of misery in America today. No one is doing better in America after 3 ½ years of Barack Obama’s policies—no one, that is, except government bureaucrats. The “tsars” at the top are supported by thousands of petty tsars whose business it is to lord it over the rest of us.
We are not sure all of Ben’s young co-workers will believe in stilts and ladders. That’s perhaps the cruelest disappointment of the Age of Obama—the shattering of hopes. Not only have the seas not ceased to rise, as Obama promised, but his policies have turned them into oceans of red ink. And this red tide threatens to swamp all our futures in a tsunami of indebtedness.
So, to all who will unstrap those stilts, place their feet firmly on that rung of the ladder, and prepare to step up, we offer a hand. That’s all we can offer. Climb as high as you can. It will take effort, but it is real hope for real change.
------------------------- J. Ken Blackwell is a conservative family values advocate. Blackwell is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and a visiting professor at Liberty University School of Law. Bob Morrison is a Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council. He has served at the U.S. Department of Education with Gary Bauer under then-Secretary William Bennett. Both are contributing authors to the ARRA News Service. Tags:INSERT TAGSTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney‘s selection of Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate continued a trend of Republican vice presidential candidates with resumes boasting former and, now with Ryan, current membership, in the Republican Study Committee (RSC).
Six of the last seven presidential elections, and four of the last five tickets have featured RSC vice presidential candidates — former Vice President Dan Quayle (1988 and 1992), former Housing Secretary Jack Kemp (1996), former Vice President Dick Cheney (2000 and 2004), and now Ryan (2012). Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in 2008 was the one anomaly in that 24 year trend.
The caucus exists as pressure group to push the House Republican conference in a more conservative direction. Membership is often considered a mark of conservatism. . . .
“Paul Ryan is a great pick,” RSC Chairman Jim Jordan said in a statement to TheDC. “There is no one better at making the case for what needs to be done to put America back on the right path.” . . .
RSC pushed for Ryan’s Taxpayer Choice Act of 2007 — which would have reformed the tax code into two rates with limited deductions and served as an alternative to the current code — and used it as a model for the tax reforms in the Jobs Through Growth Act RSC unveiled last year.
The group further notes that Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future in 2008 and his House budget ideas to turn Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) into block grants were the inspiration for RSC’s The State Health Flexibility Act, introduced this year.
RSC — which usually seeks a more conservative approach than the official budgets that come out of the House — incorporated the Ryan budget Medicare proposals unaltered into RSC’s most recent budget proposal. Indeed, in 2007 and 2008 RSC adopted the proposals from Ryan and the Budget Committee, in lieu of offering their own alternatives.
Ryan’s 2008 effort to pass a Constitutional amendment to limit spending to a set percentage of GDP was incorporated into the “cap” portion of the group’s “Cut, Cap, and Balance Act.”
The group further praised Ryan for his (eventually unsuccessful) efforts to strengthen a House rule backed by RSC to put funds cut from appropriations bills into “Spending Reduction Accounts” as a way to ensure cut money was not spent elsewhere. . . . [Full Story] Tags:Media, narratives, dummies, liberals, gaffs, Joe Biden, Romney, chains, Paul Ryan, reign in spending, balance the budget, balance the budget, political cartoon, William Warren, article, RSC, conservativesTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: Without reform Medicare will go bankrupt. So, it is not a question of “if” Medicare will be cut but “how.” President Barack Obama’s approach is to simply gut Medicare’s funding and let the bureaucrats decide who does or doesn’t receive care. Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s approach is to inject individual choice and competition into the program to provide more with less and to let patients, not bureaucrats, decide how to spend scarce resources. Ryan’s approach puts seniors first; Obama’s puts Washington bureaucrats first.
Obama has already cut $716 billion from Medicare to fund his new health care entitlement, and would cap Medicare growth going forward at the rate of GDP growth plus 0.5 percent. Those cuts will run into the trillions of dollars in the second decade under Obama’s program, and will be implemented principally by turning over control of health care decisions to bureaucrats who will be empowered to deny people the care they need.
The Ryan plan implements the same cap on overall Medicare spending, but achieves it by injecting individual choice and competition into the program, allowing patients to choose between traditional fee-for-service Medicare and competing private plans.
Obama’s plan – which has already been enacted – is a guaranteed disaster. If it had been Republicans who ignored public opinion and chose to gut Medicare to the tune of $716 billion over 10 years (and trillions more over 20 years) there would be no other issue in any federal election until that law got repealed. Democrats would be relentless and seniors would be up-in-arms. And understandably so, especially because about 10,000 baby boomers are now retiring every day.
Yet that was precisely what Obama’s health care law did to Medicare. The media is dutifully downplaying the significance of these devastating cuts but it’s actually worse than the headline number of $716 billion, up from about $500 billion already from when the president’s law passed. That’s because there is no credible cost-containment mechanism going forward to stay under the cap other than bureaucrats being empowered to deny seniors the care they need.
Most infamous of those bureaucratic denial-of-care mechanisms is the so-called Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a board of 15 bureaucrats who can set reimbursement rates and exclude particular treatments and cures from Medicare coverage altogether to bring overall Medicare spending in-line with the cap. And IPAB’s dictates cannot be overturned even by Congress unless it musters a supermajority, a constitutionally-questionable scheme to insulate IPAB from democratic accountability. Hospitals are protected from IPAB cuts until 2020, meaning the initial cuts will hit doctors and nursing homes even harder, forcing fewer and fewer to accept Medicare patients.
Ryan’s plan, on the other hand, would continue to provide benefit levels similar to what Medicare offers now, and achieve cost containment not through bureaucratic control but through individual choice and competition. Workers who are presently 55 or younger (there are no changes for current retirees or those near retirement, unlike Obama’s plan) would, when they qualify for Medicare, receive a benefit equal to the cost of traditional Medicare in the market in which they live. They would have the choice of using that benefit amount – known in this plan as “premium support” – to stay in traditional Medicare or opt instead for private plans that would be required to offer coverage that is no worse than the traditional program.
A group of Harvard researchers analyzed this plan, developed by Ryan with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, and found that if it had been in effect in 2009 it would have saved 9 percent with no reduction in care.
As Benson points out, even President Obama acknowledged this back in 2009 in an interview with Jake Tapper of ABC News. Tapper said to Obama, “One of the concerns about health care and how you pay for it — one third of the funding comes from cuts to Medicare.” Obama responds, “Right.”
Benson writes, “He wasn’t slashing $700 Billion out of (current, not future) Medicare to help that program remain solvent, mind you; he was, er, ‘re-allocating’ that money to help construct a brand new entitlement scheme. The purpose of this eye-popping transfer of dollars, he says, was to ensure that Obamacare would not add a dime to the deficit.”
Republicans have pointed out that Obama and Democrats raided Medicare to pay for part of their new entitlement since before the law passed. Early in 2010, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans want “the administration to consider a new approach to reform, one that doesn’t cut Medicare to fund a trillion dollar takeover of the health care system or impose job-killing taxes in the middle of a recession . . . .”
As one of the few medical doctors in the Senate, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), said following the Supreme Court’s ruling on the health care law, "The President said he would protect Medicare — but instead he raided [over] $500 billion from our seniors on Medicare — not to strengthen Medicare — but to start a whole new government program for someone else. . . . Each broken promise proves that the Supreme Court’s ruling did absolutely nothing to improve the President's failed health care law. It remains unworkable, unaffordable, and very unpopular. Americans deserve better. . . . There should be no doubt: Republicans in Congress will fight to repeal the President's failed health care law.”
---------- Sam Adams MMIV is the pen name for an un-named beltway source. While
receiving information from many sources, this Sam's words sometimes
need to be credited. Thanks to all the Adams patriots who speak up for
America. Tags:Sam Adams MMIV, Obama Administration, Obama campaign, medicare, new entitlements To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Today, Paul Wiseman weighed in the following article. It is not from a political viewpoint but looks at the facts and reality of our times. I normally do not share Associate Press articles but I am doing so today under the Fairness Doctrine for educational purposes. It is very educational, and you can click the link to the article to share your comments with the author. I will share my somewhat constrained comments on our dilemma below the article so as to not influence your opinion of the article or the critical focal point responsible for this "economic mess."
Paul Wiseman: WASHINGTON (AP) — The recession that ended three years ago this summer has been followed by the feeblest economic recovery since the Great Depression.
Since World War II, 10 U.S. recessions have been followed by a recovery that lasted at least three years. An Associated Press analysis shows that by just about any measure, the one that began in June 2009 is the weakest.
The ugliness goes well beyond unemployment, which at 8.3 percent is the highest this long after a recession ended.
Economic growth has never been weaker in a postwar recovery. Consumer spending has never been so slack. Only once has job growth been slower.
More than in any other post-World War II recovery, people who have jobs are hurting: Their paychecks have fallen behind inflation.
Many economists say the agonizing recovery from the Great Recession, which began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, is the predictable consequence of a housing bust and a grave financial crisis.
Credit, the fuel that powers economies, evaporated after Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008. And a 30 percent drop in housing prices erased trillions in home equity and brought construction to a near-standstill.
So any recovery was destined to be a slog.
"A housing collapse is very different from a stock market bubble and crash," says Nobel Prize-winning economist Peter Diamond of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "It affects so many people. It only corrects very slowly."
The U.S. economy has other problems, too. Europe's troubles have undermined consumer and business confidence on both sides of the Atlantic. And the deeply divided U.S. political system has delivered growth-chilling uncertainty.
The AP compared nine economic recoveries since the end of World War II that lasted at least three years. A 10th recovery that ran from 1945 to 1948 was not included because the statistics from that period aren't comprehensive, although the available data show that hiring was robust. There were two short-lived recoveries — 24 months and 12 months — after the recessions of 1957-58 and 1980.
Here is a closer look at how the comeback from the Great Recession stacks up with the others:
— FEEBLE GROWTH America's gross domestic product — the broadest measure of economic output — grew 6.8 percent from the April-June quarter of 2009 through the same quarter this year, the slowest in the first three years of a postwar recovery. GDP grew an average of 15.5 percent in the first three years of the eight other comebacks analyzed.
The engines that usually drive recoveries aren't firing this time.
Investment in housing, which grew an average of nearly 34 percent this far into previous postwar recoveries, is up just 8 percent since the April-June quarter of 2009.
That's because the overbuilding of the mid-2000s left a glut of houses. Prices fell and remain depressed. The housing market has yet to return to anything close to full health even as mortgage rates have plunged to record lows.
Government spending and investment at the federal, state and local levels was 4.5 percent lower in the second quarter than three years earlier.
Three years into previous postwar recoveries, government spending had risen an average 12.5 percent. In the first three years after the 1981-82 recession, during President Ronald Reagan's first term, the economy got a jolt from a 15 percent increase in government spending and investment.
This time, state and local governments have been slashing spending — and jobs. And since passing President Barack Obama's $862 billion stimulus package in 2009, a divided Congress has been reluctant to try to help the economy with federal spending programs. Trying to contain the $11.1 trillion federal debt has been a higher priority.
Since June 2009, governments at all levels have slashed 642,000 jobs, the only time government employment has fallen in the three years after a recession. This long after the 1973-74 recession, by contrast, governments had added more than 1 million jobs.
— EXHAUSTED CONSUMERS
Consumer spending has grown just 6.5 percent since the recession ended, feeblest in a postwar recovery. In the first three years of previous recoveries, spending rose an average of nearly 14 percent.
It's no mystery why consumers are being frugal. Many have lost access to credit, which fueled their spending in the 2000s. Home equity has evaporated and credit cards have been canceled. Falling home prices have slashed home equity 49 percent, from $13.2 trillion in 2005 to $6.7 trillion early this year.
Others are spending less because they're paying down debt or saving more. Household debt peaked at 126 percent of after-tax income in mid-2007 and has fallen to 107 percent, according to Haver Analytics. The savings rate has risen from 1.1 percent of after-tax income in 2005 to 4.4 percent in June. Consumers have cut credit card debt by 14 percent — to $865 billion — since it peaked at over $1 trillion in December 2007.
"We were in a period in which we borrowed too much," says Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics. "We are now deleveraging. That's a process that slows us down."
— THE JOBS HOLE The economy shed a staggering 8.8 million jobs during and shortly after the recession. Since employment hit bottom, the economy has created just over 4 million jobs. So the new hiring has replaced 46 percent of the lost jobs, by far the worst performance since World War II. In the previous eight recoveries, the economy had regained more than 350 percent of the jobs lost, on average.
During the 1981-82 recession, the U.S. lost 2.8 million jobs. In the three years and one month after that recession ended, the economy added 9.8 million — replacing the 2.8 million and adding 7 million more.
Never before have so many Americans been unemployed for so long three years into a recovery. Nearly 5.2 million have been out of work for six months or more. The long-term unemployed account for 41 percent of the jobless; the highest mark in the other recoveries was 22 percent.
Gregory Mann, 58, lost his job as a real estate appraiser three years ago. "Basically, I am looking for anything," he says. He has applied to McDonald's, Target and Nordstrom's.
"Nothing, not even a rejection letter," he says.
His wife, a registered nurse, has lost two jobs in the interim — and just received an offer to work reviewing medical records near Atlanta.
"We are broke and nearly homeless," he says. "If this job for my wife hadn't come through, we would be out on the street come Sept. 1 or would have had to move in with relatives."
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has called long-term unemployment a "national crisis." The longer people remain unemployed, the harder it is to find work, Bernanke has said. Skills erode, and people lose contact with former colleagues who could help with the job search.
— SHRINKING PAYCHECKS Usually, workers' pay rises as the economy picks up momentum after a recession. Not this time. Employers don't have to be generous in a weak job market because most workers don't have anywhere to go.
As a result, pay raises haven't kept up with even modest levels of inflation. Earnings for production and nonsupervisory workers — a category that covers about 80 percent of the private, nonfarm workforce — have risen just over 6.2 percent since June 2009. Consumer prices have risen nearly 7.2 percent. Adjusted for inflation, wages have fallen 0.8 percent. In the previous five recoveries —the records go back only to 1964 — real wages had gone up an average 1.5 percent at this point.
Falling wages haven't hurt everyone. Lower labor costs helped push corporate profits to a record 10.6 percent of U.S. GDP in the first three months of 2012, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. And those surging profits helped lift the Dow Jones industrials 54 percent from the end of June 2009 to the end of last month. Only after the recessions of 1948-49 and 1953-54 did stocks rise more.
Stock investments may be coming back, but savings are still getting squeezed by the rock-bottom interest rates the Fed has engineered to boost the economy. The money Americans earn from interest payments fell from nearly $1.4 trillion in 2008 to barely $1 trillion last year — a drop of more than $370 billion, or 27 percent. That amounts to shrinking income for many retirees.
Washington isn't doing much to help the economy. An impasse between Obama and congressional Republicans brought the U.S. to the brink of default on the federal debt last year — a confrontation that rattled financial markets and sapped consumer and business confidence.
Given the political divide, businesses and consumers don't know what's going to happen to taxes, government spending or regulation. Sharp tax increases and spending cuts are scheduled to kick in at year's end unless Congress and the White House reach a budget deal.
In the meantime, it's difficult for consumers to summon the confidence to spend and businesses the confidence to hire and expand. Never in the postwar period has there been so much uncertainty about what policymakers will do, says Steven Davis, an economist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business: "No one is sure what will actually happen."
As weak as this recovery is, it's nothing like what the U.S. went through in the 1930s. The period known as the Great Depression actually included two severe recessions separated by a recovery that lasted from March 1933 until May 1937.
It's tough to compare the current recovery with the 1933-37 version. Economic figures comparable to today's go back only to the late 1940s. But calculations by economist Robert Coen, professor emeritus at Northwestern University, suggest that things were far bleaker during the recovery three-quarters of a century ago: Coen found that unemployment remained well above 10 percent — and usually above 15 percent — throughout the 1930s.
Only the approach and outbreak of World War II — the ultimate government stimulus program — restored the economy and the job market to full health.
Bill Smith, Editor: In my opinion, economic recovery will not occur until either one of the following happens:
1. Businesses and "want to be employed" American workers see a new president in office who understands the economy, capitalism, businesses, who will open up all our American resources for access by Americas for Americans. who will seek to reduce the drain on the economy by wasteful big government programs, who will attack the fiscal theft of OPM (Other People's Money), who will stop funding our competition in the rest of the world and who will assure we remain strong enough to prevent others from attacking America and American interests during our recovery.
2. Or, Lord forbid, the U.S. is forced into or drawn into another major war where the United States has to fight for its very survival. Again, we would still need a different president. A president committed 100% first to protecting the U.S. and its survival, then next to North America, and finally the protection of valuable economic allies and democracies.
The first option is obviously the preferred. However, it will require the American voters to get out in November in large enough numbers to over-ride the anticipated voter fraud and intimidation intended to keep the present occupant in the White House. If this does not happen, we can expect the second option to be eventually forced upon us.
The jackals and hyenas are intent on destruction of a great Lion - that is their nature. That great lion is the USA - the most powerful and successful Free Nation in the world. Weakness on our part gives those who are jealous of our well being and those who hold the United States and its multicultural free people in contempt encouragement in their efforts to promote, to advance, and to seek our destruction.
Personally, I also prefer the first option - the election of a new president with an entirely new administration where tax cheats and non-payers are not allowed, where R and R means recovery and restoration and not recreation at expensive hotels and rip-offs of the taxpayers. We need a president committed heart and soul to our economic recovery. A person who does not see the United States as just another country with a replaceable form of government and thus willing to restrain the people's liberty and freedom and to bow to others in the world. As detailed in Paul Wiseman's article, under the current four years of Barack Administration, our "Economic recovery is weakest since World War II of four years"!
President Obama told Matt Lauer on the Today Show on Feb 2, 2009: "If I don’t have this done (the economy fixed) in three years, then there’s gonna be a one term proposition." It is obvious that Obama Isn't Working! and neither is the American economy. Tags:the economy, weakest economy, since WW II, Barack Obama, Obama administration, time for a change, election 2012To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Americans for Prosperity, the nation’s premier advocate for economic freedom, today announces the second phase of an ad buy* that is expected to be the largest in the group's history. The first phase of this ad effort, which launched last week, featured President Obama's broken promise to reign in irresponsible spending. That ad can be seen here. The latest ad (below) will feature former Obama voters sharing moving and personal testimony about their future voting decisions.
------------- *Neither the ARRA News Service nor its editor has been paid to share this ad. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to hear and share this ad with their friends, neighbors, and family members. Tags:AFP, Americans for Prosperity, Barack Obama, hope and change, time for a change, vote, election 2012 To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Tags:Barack Obama, Obama lackeys, Obama campaign, lack of transparency, Fast and Furious, Obama's college transcripts, demanding Romney and Ryan income tax records, editorial cartoon, political cartoon, A.F. Branco To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
"Nellie J. Gray (1924-2012) was an American pro-life activist, who founded the annual March for Life in 1974, following the Supreme Court ruling, Roe v Wade, which decriminalized abortion the previous year.
A native of Texas and a Roman Catholic convert, Gray enlisted June 27, 1944 at Camp Bennett, Texas and served as a corporal in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) during World War II. She later earned a bachelor's degree in business and a master's in economics.
She was an employee of the federal government for almost three decades, at the Departments of State and Labor. After attending Georgetown University Law School, she became a practicing lawyer. After Roe v Wade, she retired from her professional life and became a pro-life activist, beginning with the March for Life.
Sean Cardinal O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, called Nellie Gray "the Joan of Arc of the Gospel of life".
Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life in a response to her death said, "Nellie Gray and the March for Life had a most profound effect on my life." In 1976, when he was a senior in high school, Father Pavone went to the March for Life with his mother and grandmother. Although he had been quietly considering the priesthood before that, the March cemented both his vocation and his passion for pro-life issues. "Every year since 1974, Nellie Gray has mobilized a diverse and energetic army for life," said Father Pavone, who has attended every march since his first one. "Her own commitment to the cause never wavered. She was a tireless warrior for the unborn and her motto was 'no exceptions.'"
Bryan Kemper, founder of Stand True Ministry and director of Youth Outreach for Priests for Life, said: "My heart is broken by the loss of Nellie Gray, a true pro-life hero and role model. At the same time I celebrate that Nellie is with our Lord who she loved so dearly. I have had the honor of working with Nellie for years and every time I March in DC in January, I know she will be watching over us and praying for us. Nellie Gray, I will miss you dearly."
Former presidential candidate and president of American Values and chairman of theCampaign for Working Families, Gary Bauer responded with sorrow the passing of Nellie Gray, "the visionary founder of the March for Life who understood the importance of marking the tragic anniversary of Roe v. Wade by gathering hundreds of thousands of pro-life Americans together to mourn those we've lost. I send my condolences to the family of Nellie Gray, who served as a clarion call for a pro-life America that valued all its citizens, born and unborn. In sometimes daunting January weather, Nellie stood firm and brought hundreds of thousands together for the hope of restored civil rights protections for the unborn and for the protection of women and girls who are also victims of abortion. She will be greatly missed, but she set an example for us all to follow of determination and conviction for a pro-life America."
Dr. Bill Smith, Editor: While serving in the military, our hands were tied in protesting even the killing of the unborn. Immediately after retiring, my wife and I openly became activist for life. I will never forget that while battling the lies and deceit of the hatred from Hell itself for mankind, kneeling with with my wife at March for Life rallies in Washington, D.C. and praying for repentance for those advocating the taking of life and for the life of the innocent unborn which were being slaughtered. I am thankful for Nellie Gray founding the March for Life. In her memory, I joined others on twitter to mention her passing with the following tweet: @arra "My condolences to the friends & family of Nellie Gray - founder of March for Life - a true hero in the #prolife fight". May we all continue her struggle to protect life. Tags:Nellie Gray, dead, Aug 14, 2012, Right to Life, founder, pro-life anti-abortionTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
by Ralph Benko, Contributing Author: Welcome to the Wild West, 2012 style. The Feds to Tombstone: “If you want to fix your water line, better lawyer up and talk to President Obama.”
The left is attacking Mitt Romney as “out of touch.” But the left’s own champion, President Obama, is truly the out of touch candidate. The U.S. Forest Service — of which the president is ultimate boss — is preventing, on the flimsiest of excuses, Tombstone Arizona from rebuilding its water pipeline. Obama, conniving, is putting Tombstone, a fixture of American history, in mortal danger.
Tombstone was the site of the “Showdown at the OK Corral.” It was a silver mining boomtown and very Wild West: over a dozen saloons, 6 gambling halls, a very cosmopolitan city. Today Tombstone is a cultural attraction with 1500 residents and tens of thousands of visitors.
But now the U.S. Forest Service is building a tomb for Tombstone. A massive forest fire in 2011 wiped out the vegetation in Coronado National Park, wherein lies Tombstone’s waterworks — which were destroyed by the following torrential rains.
“I sat on the road in my car and watched the fire,” recalls Nancy Sosa, Tombstone native, its archivist, mother of five. “My kids and I were between Tombstone and Sierra Vista, about 26 miles away from the fire, watching in shock. You don’t grow up in Tombstone not knowing where your water comes from. Water is the most precious thing in the desert.”
The ensuing monsoon damage was severe but readily fixable. Except that Tombstone’s water sources are surrounded by a designated wilderness area. Their water was privately owned and therefore exempted by President Teddy Roosevelt from national forest status … and, thus, exempted from the Wilderness Act. That Act applies only to national forest, not private property. And yet, the U.S. Forest service takes the position that Tombstone needs its permission to bring in tractors and bulldozers to clear the rubble throttling its water supplies.
Tombstone cannot survive long on the tiny wells located in town or on the small amount of water it temporarily was able to hand patch through its water main. It needs to use regular earth-moving equipment to repair its lines. As Sosa explains, “you have boulders the size of motorcycles breaking your pipeline, and other boulders and uprooted trees mangling it… the water is buried by 6 to 15 feet of boulders, trees, rocks.”
Coronado is not an exceptionally delicate ecology. Fire and monsoons have had far more impact than would a few tractors and bulldozers. And yet, the Forest Service forbids Tombstone to bring in crews with earth-moving machinery.
Soon after the fire Sosa and City Clerk Manager George Barnes asked the Forest Service what, if anything, was required to bring in a crew with mechanized equipment. A Forest Service representative emailed her back the next day that they had to look into the ownership as to what the city was entitled to.
Tombstone owns the springs outright and has a clear easement for its water pipe. Its ownership is a public record. It can be looked up in minutes, not months. But the Forest Service took three months (reminded almost daily by Ms. Sosa and Mr. Barnes) to respond.
The eventual reply? According to Sosa, the Forest Service took the position that Tombstone didn’t own anything and therefore the Service would not permit it to bring in equipment. “Didn’t own anything” anticipates “You didn’t build that” in its contempt for private property.
Tombstone faced (and faces) a risk of burning to the ground and has good reason to believe that the Wilderness Act does not apply to its property. So its Mayor took a crew with earth-moving machinery into the mountains. The Forest Service’s rangers met them there, stopped them, and told them that they’d better “lawyer up and call President Obama.” Soon after, Mayor Jack Henderson, City Clerk Manager George Barnes, Sosa, and the work crew met with the Service. The Service had copies of all of Tombstone’s deeds and documentation but gave the officials a polite runaround.
What was the government’s reasoning for refusal to accommodate the lawful claims of the citizens of Tombstone? According to a New York Timesreport , “Jim M. Upchurch, the forest supervisor at Coronado, issued a split decision: bulldozers and tractors would be allowed in the lowest of the damaged areas to move truck-size boulders that had crashed onto the pipe, but they could not be used elsewhere. ‘We think there are other options to protecting your water source without being so disruptive on the environment,’ Mr. Upchurch said as he hiked Miller Canyon, where the repairs were under way.”
Translation: Let Tombstone burn. Tombstone is represented in litigation by the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation which is seeking to protect “states and their subdivisions from federal regulations that prevent them from using and enjoying their property in order to fulfill the essential functions of protecting public health and safety.” Goldwater’s Nick Dranias told the New York Times: “’We’re not asking to build a superhighway, or to cut a path where there has never been a path…. We just want to be left alone to repair and restore fully the water system that Tombstone is entitled to maintain.’”
The Forest Service’s motto is “Caring for the Land and Serving People.” Its own Guiding Principles include:
We are good neighbors who respect private property rights.
We strive for quality and excellence in everything we do and are sensitive to the effects of our decisions on people and resources.
We strive to meet the needs of our customers in fair, friendly, and open ways.
High-sounding principles. Forest Service Chief Thomas L. Tidwell, and Associate Chief Mary Wagner, really shouldn’t let their motto become “Caring for the Land, the People be Damned.” To condemn Tombstone to the flames because “We think there are other options to protecting your water source” smacks as arbitrary, capricious, and by no means neighborly. It’s peculiar that these “options” go unspecified.
President Obama, on June 29th, in Colorado Springs after viewing wildfire damage, made a typically inspirational call-out: “We’ve got to make sure that we have each other’s backs. And that spirit is what you’re seeing in terms of volunteers, in terms of firefighters, in terms of government officials. Everybody is pulling together to try to deal with this situation.”
Oh really? Obama could get the Forest Service to permit Tombstone to fix its waterworks with one phone call. If he doesn’t make that call his claim that “We’ve got to make sure that we have each other’s backs” shows as a pious fraud. And if Tombstone burns to the ground (which happened twice before the water line was installed) the president may be seen as a modern Nero who fiddled while Tombstone burned.
The left paints Mitt Romney as out of touch for the occasional harmless gaffe. But if Barack Obama lets the Forest Service arbitrarily, perhaps even illegally, refuse to allow Tombstone to rebuild its water lines, Obama just might end up reading, by firelight, his own political tombstone: Barack Obama, Out of Touch.
------------ Ralph Benko is senior advisor, economics, to American Principles in Action’s Gold Standard 2012 Initiative, and a contributor to he ARRA News Service. The article which first appeared in Forbes was submitted for reprint by the author. Tags:Ralph Benko, President Obama, Fiddles, Tombstone, AZ, Burns, U.S. Forest Service, forest fires, water linesTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
The U.S. Export-Import Bank inked a $2 billion clean-energy loan offer with South Africa to help fund the country’s green-energy push and drum up sales for America’s renewable industry, according to an announcement made last week. The 18-year loans will target wind, solar and thermal power in particular, said Fred Hochberg, Ex-Im chairman and president. They could provide additional business to a host of clean-energy manufacturers, including California-based SolarReserve. SolarReserve received a $737 million Department of Energy loan guarantee in 2011, and estimated to create 45 permanent jobs once construction is complete. The company’s 110-megawatt solar plant will begin operations in late 2013. The Export-Import Bank, which provides taxpayer-subsidized loans to U.S. exporters, has faced criticism for distorting the market and engaging in crony capitalism. It was recently reauthorized by President Obama and Congress despite strong objections from conservatives. Weakness in the international commercial market for solar – Chinese companies alone have suffered billions in losses – driven by diminished subsidies in Europe make the loans dicey, particularly given the Obama administration’s poor record of picking green-energy manufacturers to support. “To now, Ex-Im Bank has not cost the taxpayer money. But there are strong reasons to think this loan is a mistake. When SolarReserve or some of its South African partners go under in the next couple years, Ex-Im will face renewed congressional demands that it be curbed or closed,” said Heritage’s Derek Scissors, senior research fellow in Asian Studies. This is not SolarReserve’s first South African foray. In late 2011, the company announced a joint venture with two South African firms on two 75-megawatt solar projects awarded by the South African Department of Energy. “This award of preferred bidder status from the South Africa DOE for the Letsatsi and Lesedi projects is a substantial milestone for SolarReserve as we continue expanding our diversified portfolio of photovoltaic and concentrated solar power (CSP) projects globally,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of SolarReserve, in the company’s announcement. The expected cost of the project, more than $600 million, will fund about 100 permanent jobs as part of the South African government’s Integrated Resource Plan and South African Renewable Initiative. In May 2012, SolarReserve announced an additional 88-megawatt project with its South African partners, giving the company an estimated 20 percent share of the country’s solar-energy sector.
He may be the last optimist in Washington, but the House Ways and Means chairman says the need for faster economic growth and some cultivated bipartisanship can fix the tax code.
By Stephen Moore, Wall Street Journal: It is now a daily routine: President Obama issues another class-warfare call to arms, demanding that the rich pay higher tax rates starting next year. Along the way he also takes derisive shots at Republicans in Congress, as Mr. Obama insists that they triple income- and investment-tax rates for the affluent next year.
His primary adversary in accomplishing that goal if he wins re-election is likely to be one of those Republicans in Congress: Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Mr. Camp ridicules Obama's plans as a bullet aimed at "small businesses and investors, which will only further weaken the fragile economy."
His twin goals are, first, to back America away from the 2013 tax cliff "so that no one's taxes go up," and second to pass tax reform, creating what he calls "a fairer, flatter and simpler tax code that lowers rates, gets rid of lobbyist loopholes, and creates more growth and jobs." Those two goals are pretty much the polar opposite of what the president is seeking.
The surprise is that Mr. Camp remains upbeat about accomplishing both, including finally cracking the code on tax reform by the end of next year. It's a sure thing if Mitt Romney wins, he thinks, and even possible in a second Obama term. "The next president, no matter who that is, is going to have to lead on this issue," he insists.
This is certainly a minority opinion—so why the optimism? "We're facing a train wreck with the tax system in 2013. Pretty much the whole tax code expires next year—the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, the Alternative Minimum Tax hitting the middle class, the estate tax, and all the rest. Given the weakness of the economy, voters are going to demand that we get this done."
Most Americans have never heard of Mr. Camp, who is still boyish-looking at age 59 and is in his 11th term representing northern Michigan. Compared to the many flamboyant predecessors who swung the Ways and Means gavel—Charles Rangel, Bill Thomas, Dan Rostenkowski—Mr. Camp is soft-spoken, laid-back and collaborative. He was recently diagnosed with what he calls a "treatable" form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He pledges this illness won't sidetrack him from his congressional goals. And there's no doubt he knows the tax code inside and out.
Listening to him talk leaves little doubt that he wants tax reform to be his legacy: "It is my absolute highest priority." Thanks to term limits on committee chairmen, he has only two more years to get it done. "I want something that will be pro-growth and last for years if not decades, so we're not destabilizing the economy by putting the tax code up for grabs every two years," he says.
If Mr. Obama wins re-election, that's going to be a heavy lift.
So how to do it? The model Mr. Camp has in mind happened 26 years ago, the last time Congress had the fortitude to look under the hood of the tax code and clean the engine. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 was negotiated by the Reagan administration, Democratic Rep. Dan Rostenkowski and Republican Sen. Bob Packwood. It was one of the true bipartisan triumphs of modern times, passing with 97 Senate votes, including those of current Senate Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Charles Schumer.
The 1986 tax reform eliminated most special-interest deductions and loopholes, lowering the top income-tax rate to 28% from 50%. Harvard economist Dale Jorgenson says the gains to economic growth from the lower rates and the simplified code increased GDP by more than $1 trillion, and that a similar reform now could increase national wealth over the long term by $7 trillion in net present value.
But in the 1990s and 2000s Congress began tinkering again, a lot of the junk removed from the code "has been put right back in," and tax rates started rising. Mr. Camp's calculates that "we've made 5,000 changes to the tax code just in the last 10 years." He says the whole system is so complicated that even the corporate lobbyists who form long lines outside his office seeking tax favors "are now telling me, 'Please fix the code. Give us less paperwork and a 25% rate and we'll gladly give up our loopholes.'"
Although he likes the flat tax that Steve Forbes popularized 16 years ago, his draft plan calls for two rates—10% for most Americans and 25% on six-figure earners and above. To ensure that tax reform gets a fair hearing, he says Republicans plan to create a "fast-track" authority so that the compromise doesn't get bogged down in committees and is assured an up or down vote on the House floor.
"We're not competitive on taxes anymore, especially in terms of international tax," he says. "We've got the highest corporate rate in the world, and we're the only country left with a world-wide system of taxation. We need to be on the cutting edge of tax and economic policy in the world so that we're the center of innovation, effort, growth, jobs."
On the business side, he wants to bring the corporate rate down to 25%, paid for by eliminating certain deductions and green energy tax subsidies "so we're not constantly picking the energy flavor of the month," and perhaps eliminating the tax advantages of debt financing over equity. This would no longer allow businesses to deduct the interest on their borrowing.
He's also considering a low "deemed repatriation tax" that would require American companies to pay a tax of about 5% on profits stored overseas. "We think that will help raise money and bring back cash stored offshore," because the rate would be so much lower than what is charged today. Then he adds: "I'm much more interested in raising revenues for businesses than for the government."
The hard part of tax reform is bringing the special interests to heel while taking away popular deductions. Can we eliminate all such deductions? Here Mr. Camp bobs and weaves. On the mortgage-interest deduction: "You probably picked the toughest one, because most families have a mortgage. And that is the largest savings vehicle for most families."
I couldn't get him to specify what deductions he would put on the cutting board: "I think at this stage of the game, it is not good to legislate body parts," adding that "you don't have to reduce or hit all of the deductions." I take that as a roundabout admission that the GOP may flinch when it comes to deductions that are the biggest revenue losers.
Mr. Camp has sought advice from Mr. Packwood, who helped engineer the 1986 reform. The major lesson he took away is, "You've got to do it in a bipartisan way." But can bipartisanship happen if Democrats won't cut tax rates but want to raise them instead? Where are the Bill Bradleys, the Richard Gephardts, and other Democrats who once wanted lower rates and a broader base?
Mr. Camp still sees some hope, pointing to the 34 Democratic senators and 91 House Democrats who voted for the 2010 extension of the George W. Bush tax rates. The obvious Democrat to take the role of Bill Bradley would be Max Baucus, the Senate Finance chairman. Mr. Camp will only say that Mr. Baucus is "open-minded" on tax reform, hardly a hearty endorsement.
Mr. Camp adds that a crucial precondition to tax modernization is to "fix the revenue scoring system to take full account of the economic growth dividend from simplification and lower rates." Republicans have been saying that for years. Yet they have never made the Joint Tax Committee or the Congressional Budget Office change their rules to take account of how worker and investor behavior changes when tax rates change.
As in 1986, "we will use a revenue neutral model," Mr. Camp says, and "we're not trying to find ways to address the debt or deficit through tax reform." He sounds like Jack Kemp here insisting that "growth will bring more revenues and our target is to have a tax system that raises revenues of between 18 and 19% of GDP." That's up from about 16% today. Who says Republicans won't raise tax revenue?
Mr. Camp is also confident that after the election in November he can get a deal with Democrats to extend all the current tax rates, including for those who make more than $200,000. "I think we can get bipartisan support," he says, citing comments from former President Clinton and four Democrat senators who expressed support for extending current tax rates. Why would Democrats budge? "Because the economic cost of not getting it done is too high," he replies. I wish I shared his optimism.
Where Mr. Camp is less upbeat and visibly frustrated is on the prospect of fundamentally fixing entitlements. "There really is a wide divide on how that issue is looked at by the Republicans and Democrats. I'd hate to paint with a broad brush, but many Democrats don't feel that we have a crisis in entitlements and Republicans do."
Mr. Camp is contemptuous of the Democratic inclination to "demagogue every Republican proposal," such as last year's Democratic television ad showing a Republican tossing an elderly woman in a wheelchair off a cliff. He dismisses out of hand the standard Democratic fix of squeezing doctors and hospitals on reimbursement rates: "This only exacerbates the problems and makes it more difficult for seniors to find Medicare physicians who'll treat them."
With a $16 trillion debt and trillions more in unfunded liabilities embedded in these programs, does he think it is getting too late? "I'm an optimist, I think we are still at a point where if we act, we can address these problems before it's a situation like Europe. They may be past the tipping point."
The trick for Mr. Camp to realize his dream of creating a pro-growth, comprehensible, 21st-century tax code is not just to get Democrats to agree to lower tax rates, which will be hard enough. Even tougher may be to get Republicans to give up those popular deductions and carve-outs that many in the middle class and Chamber of Commerce have come to regard as rights.
"Every deduction was put in there for a reason and has powerful lobbies behind them," he admits. "I'm trying to work my way out of a job." If he does, everyone will know his name.
------------------- Steve Moore is a FoxNews contributor and is a member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board. Tags:Dave Camp, Ways and Means Committee, Michigan, tax reform, steve Moore, WSJTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
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