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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
By Kerby Anderson, Point of View: Although the goal for this country has always been to have a United States of America, often it has been the Divided States of America. That was certainly true in the mid-19th century with slave states and free states. In many ways, it is true today in terms of the different economic philosophies of the states.
Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore (“The Red-State Path to Prosperity,” Wall Street Journal, 27 March 2013) explain that you can tell a lot about prosperity “by observing places people are moving to and where they are packing up and moving from.” The fastest-growing metro areas were Raleigh, Austin, Las Vegas, Orlando, Charlotte, Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. Cities in the blue states are the biggest population losers.
There is a reason for this migration: economic incentives. Red states generally are reducing tax rates and easing regulations. They also offer right-to-work laws as an enticement for businesses. Blue states in the Northeast, Midwest, and West seem to be doing just the opposite.
Laffer and Moore predict that within a decade five or six states in the South will entirely eliminate their incomes taxes. Already three of these states do not have a state income tax. If their prediction is true, a region stretching from Florida through Texas and Louisiana could become a vast state income-tax-free zone.
They also noted that the Northeast is bluer than ever. When you add states like Illinois and California, you see a similar trend. In fact, these blue states (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Oregon) have all raised income taxes in recent years.
These are the Divided States of America. Red states (especially in the South) are moving forward with pro-growth tax reform. Blue states in the Northeast and elsewhere are doubling down on taxes and regulations. If these trends continue, expect more Americans to move from blue to red.
---------- Kerby Anderson is a radio talk show host heard on numerous Christian Stations via the Point of View Network. Tags:Kerby Anderson, Point of View, Divided Country, Red States, America, economic freedom, pro-growth, Blue States, taxes, regulationsTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
The President increases spending by $1.1 trillion by cancelling sequestration. Sequestration, the automatic spending cuts adopted in the Budget Control Act of August 2011, is already in effect. Thus, cancelling these reductions in spending increases spending by $1.1 trillion over 10 years.
The President reduces spending by $1.1 trillion. The President lists a number of additional spending reductions based on a December offer to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH). These total about $1.1 trillion and are completely offset by the cancellation of sequestration.
The President raises taxes by $1.1 trillion. The official total tax increase in President Obama’s budget is available in the Treasury Department’s “Green Book.” Treasury scores the total net tax increase from all President Obama’s tax policies at more than $1.1 trillion over 10 years.
So President Obama’s spending cut claim doesn’t hold up, and Americans get stuck with a $1.1 trillion tax bill. Real math hurts. Tags:Heritage Foundation, budget, Morning Bell, President Obama, revenue, Sequestration, spending, spending cuts, tax hikes, tax increases, taxes To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Arkansas Legislature Missing The Fact That Obamacare "Is Getting More Expensive And Will...Accomplish Less"
ARRA News Service -Today in Washington, D.C. - April 12, 2013
The U.S. Senate was not in Session today. They will reconvene on Monday. At 5 PM, they will take up the nomination and vote 30 minutes later on Beverly Reid O'Connell to be U.S. District Judge for the Central District of California.
The House was in session and debated and passed (219-209) H.R. 1120 - "To prohibit the National Labor Relations Board from taking any action that requires a quorum of the members of the Board until such time as Board constituting a quorum shall have been confirmed by the Senate, the Supreme Court issues a decision on the constitutionality of the appointments to the Board made in January 2012, or the adjournment sine die of the first session of the 113th Congress." Recall that President Obama appointed without Senate approval people to the NLRB and the Supreme Court confirmed that this was unconstitutional. However, he has not removed these people who continue to make decisions. So the House is moving to defund the NLRB during this Congressional session until this situation is corrected.
The House also passed by unanimous consent. S. 716 — "To modify the requirements under the STOCK Act regarding online access to certain financial disclosure statements and related forms."
The stories detailing the struggles of the Obama administration in implementing its massive and unpopular health care law just keep coming.
Hot Air’s Erika Johnsen and Townhall’s Guy Benson both called attention to a Bloomberg News storyyesterday, which reported, “The $1.3 trillion U.S. health-care system overhaul is getting more expensive and will initially accomplish less than intended. Costs for a network of health-insurance exchanges, a core part of the Affordable Care Act, have swelled to $4.4 billion for fiscal 2012 and 2013 combined, and will reach $5.7 billion in 2014, according to the budget President Barack Obama yesterday sent to Congress. That spending would be more than double initial projections, even though less than half the 50 U.S. states are participating.” Further, Bloomberg notes, “[T]he number of Americans projected to gain insurance from the law has already eroded, by at least 5 million people, to 27 million by 2017, the CBO said in February. In addition, as many as 8 million people will lose health-care plans now offered through their employers, almost three times more than the CBO initially projected.”
Bloomberg News also points out, “The unanticipated spending is a consequence of an ambitious timetable dictated by Congress and a complex new way of offering people medical coverage, say analysts, lobbyists and administration officials. Combine that with a majority of Republican governors declining to cooperate with a Democratic president and U.S. regulators are left grasping to get the 2010 health law up and running by a Jan. 1, 2014, deadline. ‘Once you’re behind schedule, the way you solve problems is you write checks,’ said Doug Holtz-Eakin, a former Congressional Budget Office director who is now president of the American Action Forum, which has opposed the health law.”
But Politico reported on Wednesday that Obama administration was “short of money” to write checks for Obamacare. “The White House requested $1.5 billion more for the health law implementation in its budget Wednesday, but health officials know they’re not likely to get it. As past funding requests have been spurned, Health and Human Services officials contend they’ve been able to cobble together the funds and won’t miss the Oct. 1 start of open enrollment in exchanges. Any big delay, or major hitches would be a huge blow to Obamacare and reopen the law to political warfare before the 2014 mid-term elections. . . . HHS to date hadn’t been very specific about how it’s been moving ahead — even when lawmakers asked. . . . Even when the law was passed three years ago, $1 billion for implementation was thought to be just the start. Getting the massive law up and running was expected to cost 10 times that. And that was before the federal exchange task ballooned as conservative states refused to do much to make the law a success.”
So what have Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and her agency done? According to Politico, they’ve been dipping into a slush fund created by Obamacare. “And to fund the race down the home stretch, the agency is dipping into what Republicans have criticized as a ‘slush fund’ in the health care law itself, the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Obama health officials did not specify Wednesday how much they were taking from that fund. It originally included $15 billion over 10 years, but it was cut by $5 billion in a deal to extend the payroll tax holiday last year. . . . James Capretta, George W. Bush’s health expert at the Office of Management and Budget and an outspoken critic of the Obama health law, also raised an eyebrow at the use of the prevention fund. ‘It certainly goes against the spirit of what was intended and it may well be against the law,’ he said.”
Of course Republicans aren’t about to give the Obama administration more money to spend on an awful piece of legislation that is making the U.S. healthcare system worse, as Politico points out. “Are Republicans going to allow the administration to spend more money on Obamacare? Don’t count on it. . . . Republicans have declined requests for more implementation money repeatedly. Just a few weeks ago they refused to add nearly a billion dollars to the latest continuing resolution — and the Democratic-led Senate didn’t push the issue.”
As an aside, unfortunately some Republicans and all Democrats in the Arkansas legislature proved this week that they do not understand the above facts. Arkansas has asked federal officials to let it use the Medicaid money to buy private insurance policies, and the Obama administration is working with the state on that idea. No promises as the Feds are running into funding problems.
Obamacare would be dead in Arkansas if Republicans had stood by the principles they ran on in 2012 when they took control of both branches of the legislature for the first time since reconstruction. Instead, a few Republicans crossed over in the State Senate and voted with the Democrats and in the House this week, 14 Republicans joined all 49 Democrats to pass the Medicaid Expansion Bill. While the bill passed, the funding legislation was not yet passed. A funding appropriations bill to enable the Medicare Expansion Act to be implemented will requires a 3/4 majority of both Houses to pass.
However, Louisiana and South Carolina have both rejected the Arkansas plan for Medicaid Expansion. Business Week reports that "Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration announced Tuesday that it won't seek to replicate a private insurance Medicaid expansion model like Arkansas. . . Jindal's interim health secretary, Kathy Kliebert, told the Senate Health and Welfare Committee that the federal guidelines outlined for the Arkansas proposal don't offer enough flexibility and leave too much uncertainty about future financing and regulations."
The Washington Post addressed "Why South Carolina won’t follow Arkansas’s Medicaid lead." “If Republicans are for this plan, I don’t know what exactly they were against before,” says Keck, who runs South Carolina’s Medicaid program. “It covers the same number of people, with the same benefits and is more expensive. I have a hard time understanding what it is that some of these Republican legislators like about that. . . We’re opposed to spending way too much money, in general, on a health-care system where we get way too little in return,” Keck says. “I’d rather focus on getting more value for our dollars, and improving the system, rather than just making the system bigger.”
So the battle over Obamacare continues in Washington, D.C. and in the states. It is critical for the Arkansas legislature to wake up and to note the previously reported facts surrounding Obamacare. They seem to have forgotten the majority will of the voters was to reject President Obama's agenda in 2008 and in 2012.
However, President Obama has a friend in Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe who is putting pressure on the democrats in the legislature. Arkansas Democrats having lost both the House and Senate appear to be making a successful effort to drag enough Republicans into the muck and mire associated with Obamacare based on short sited reasoning. The bill is passed but the enabling funding bill has not. It is time for wayward Republicans to recant and to reject Obamacare, or as a minimum, to delay funding the legislation until the true consequences of the implicating Obamacare are better understood. Tags:Obamacare, becoming more expensive, Arkansas, Louisiana, South CarolinaTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: If you should suddenly cease to find my commentaries, I will either have passed away or have been detained by agents of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the Defense Department and taken to an undisclosed location for the crime of having been an “extremist” and a danger to the nation.
In April 2009, the Washington Times published an article reporting that “The Department of Homeland Security is warning law enforcement officials about a rise in ‘rightwing extremist activity’, saying that the economic recession, the election of America’s first black president, and the return of a few disgruntled war veterans could swell the ranks of white-power militias.”
These two groups represent half of all Americans and some forty percent of active duty military personnel are evangelical Christians. The Catholics and evangelicals were lumped in with “white supremacist groups, street gangs, and religious sects.”
If our current leaders consider Christians a greater threat than Muslims, then they are idiots with a very dangerous agenda.
The April 2009 nine-page DHS report was titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” It defined extremism “as including not just racist or hate groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.”
The last time I read the U.S. Constitution, the Tenth Amendment said that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” The people—that’s you and me.
In pre-Revolution America, a bunch of people rebelling against British taxes got together and threw a great wealth of imported tea into Boston Bay. About ten other groups in other states did the same thing. Extremists! Those men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Extremists! A few disgruntled war veterans! Extremists!
All across America today, states are passing laws to protect gun owners while others are tightening limitations on abortion. Are all those state legislators extremists, too?
Like a lot of Americans, I have begun to have serious fears about the Department of Homeland Security, particularly since neither the DHS, nor any other government agency is permitted to use words like Islamist, Jihadist, or Muslim when describing groups and individuals dedicated to attacking Americans. The murders at Fort Hood by an Islamic extremist, U.S. Major Nidal Hasan, are still officially described as “workplace violence” and those who survived the attack have been denied Purple Hearts. Apparently no one among his fellow officers noticed when he showed up in the PX wearing Arab-style clothing.
You can visit the DHS website and read “Countering Violent Extremism” which says that “Groups and individuals inspired by a range of religious, political, or other ideological beliefs have promoted and used violence against the homeland.” Most have been Muslims. I am still trying to find examples of attacks on the homeland by Republicans, veterans, evangelicals, or for that matter the pitiful remnants of the Ku Klux Klan.
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano had to issue an apology for the April 2009 slur against veterans returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to which they were deployed. She said. “We are on the lookout for criminal and terrorist activity but we do not—nor will we ever—monitor ideology or political beliefs.” Thank goodness they were not monitoring meetings of the Veterans of Foreign Wars or the American Legion. Or maybe they are.
Perhaps every meeting of the various Tea Party groups around the nation are monitored for their distinct disagreement with current government policies. They got their start protesting Obamacare. Many of their members oppose any effort to restrict their right to own and bear arms under the Second Amendment. Others oppose abortion. I’m guessing they would be among the first to be swept up as “extremists” and detained somewhere. And I am a regular contributor to a Tea Party Nation website!
In the wake of 9/11 Americans in general and the government in particular were scared to death of the prospect of more violent attacks on the nation. The Department of Homeland Security was cobbled together from a number of agencies to better coordinate information and a response. It’s worth keeping in mind that the enemy then and the enemy now is still al Qaeda. Our concerns then were such that we deployed our military to Afghanistan and Iraq to deter the spread of the Islamist ideology. These days many nations cooperate to identify al Qaeda leaders and dispatch them.
Al Qaeda in America doesn’t hold Wednesday night get-togethers, but I am fairly confident that our law enforcement authorities are doing their best to keep an eye on its recruitment efforts as they seek to stop further attacks.
What worries me is that the DHS definition of who they suspect of being “extremists” is so broad and so vague that there probably isn’t anyone who does not fall under suspicion.
There’s something paranoid and dangerous in the way they interpret their mission. There’s something scary about an agency that buys a billion bullets and equips itself like a small army. We already have an army and we have a vast law enforcement community nationwide who, frankly, I trust far more.
by Robert Romano: “It’s just debt for debt’s sake, not to help build future production or earnings, but to simply fuel consumption.”
That’s how Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Bill Wilson described the latest scam by government and financial institutions to boost “growth.”
Having exhausted the market for crappy loans in housing and college students, now banks are turning their attention to the rapidly growing industry of subprime auto loans — that is, loans to borrowers with bad credit, yielding higher interest rates, and are more likely to default.
“Consider that in 2012, lenders sold $18.5 billion in securities backed by subprime auto loans, compared with $11.75 billion in 2011, according to ratings firm Standard & Poor’s,” Reuters reported on April 7.
The story led with a Jasper, Alabama man, Jeffrey Nelson, who got a $10,294 loan for a 2007 Suzuki Grand Vitara with a $300 down payment and using a shotgun valued at $700 as collateral. The result was a $324-a-month payment and a 21.95 percent interest rate.
Nelson is now bankrupt and divorced, and his ex-wife, who has assumed the car payment, expects she’ll be filing for bankruptcy soon, too.
“These subprime auto loans prove just how desperate the Federal Reserve is to create credit in this stalled economy,” remarked ALG’s Wilson.
Wilson pointed to data from the Federal Reserve and the Bureau of Economic Analysis showing a strong relationship between credit creation and what he called “the illusion of economic growth.”
“From 1946 to 1970, credit outstanding nationwide, that is, all debts public and private, grew at an average rate of 6.25 percent. The economy more than kept pace, nominally growing at 6.5 percent a year,” Wilson noted. “Back then, credit creation was predicated on economic growth.”
But then history changed. “Richard Nixon abolished the Bretton Woods gold exchange standard, and with no constraint on the amount of dollars that could be created, credit exploded. From 1971 to 2007, public and private debts grew an average 9.8 percent a year. During that time, the economy seemed to grow faster at 7.3 percent.”
That is, until the debts started going bad, the housing bubble collapsed, credit contracted, banks were bailed out, unemployment skyrocketed, and the recession began. “Now,” Wilson noted, “the average rate of nominal economic growth since 1971 has dropped to 6.7 percent.”
In other words, GDP is more or less basically where it would have been without all of the additional debt.
“The lesson is that there are no shortcuts to prosperity. All excessive credit achieves are temporary boosts to economic activity, and then when the bubble pops, those gains are eroded,” Wilson noted.
To wit, the only thing really achieved is the accumulation of a lot of debt, Wilson added. “In 1970 credit outstanding as a percent of the economy was 152 percent. By 2008, when the bubble popped, it peaked 373 percent of the economy when it hit $53 trillion.”
Now, credit creation has slowed down, and with it the economy. In the past four years credit outstanding has only averaged 1.4 percent growth. “In 2012, it did pick up a little, growing at 3.3 percent, but it’s nowhere near its pre-crisis pace of 9.8 percent a year,” Wilson said.
And it’s an open question whether the economy, so addicted to credit, can robustly grow without that additional stimulus, Wilson added.
So, lenders are now being called on to extend more credit to boost economic activity. And the fastest way to expand debt is to weaken lending standards. Therefore, subprime auto loans.
Except, at $18.5 billion, the market for such loans is not nearly large enough to really get credit markets moving again — which to hit 9.8 percent growth will require more than $5 trillion of new debt a year.
The same problem faces mortgage lending, with originations way down. “The problem in the housing market is not a lack of lending capacity, which is virtually limitless as banks are sitting on $1.6 trillion of excess reserves,” Wilson noted. “It’s that even with it as easy as it is to get a loan, demand is still very low, and therefore it’s not easy enough for the central planners, so the push becomes to lower credit standards.”
For all the alleged good intentions of letting people borrow money they have no capacity to repay, it’s important that we remember the regret and pain this caused Jeffrey Nelson, a man who couldn’t say no when someone pushed a “too good to be true” deal in front of him.
As this story is repeated tens of thousands of times, with 6.6 million subprime auto loans outstanding according to Equifax, one wonders how much more heartache is ahead as purveyors of easy money attempt to manipulate markets.
---------------- Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government. His article was first shared on the ALG NetRight Daily blog. Tags:ponzi scheme, debt, debt scheme, government, car loans, subprime, auto loans, US Government, Robert Romano, William Warren To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Big Government Spends Too Much, Taxes Too Much & Now Wants Your Constitutional Rights Deminished
Today in Washington, D.C. - April 11, 2013
The Senate resumed consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 649, Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) gun control bill. The Senate then voted 68-31 to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 649 (i.e. to cut off debate on the motion to proceed and consider the bill). The official debate begins on Thursday.
It appears that some are willing to abandon the Constructional rights of American citizens to defend themselves, their property, and their liberty by even instituting lists - lists of who has guns. List of who wants to have guns? No one has the right to know what personal property we have in our homes - but today big brother is reaching into the homes of Americans. In other countries, where lists have been developed, subsequent confiscation of people's property, guns, were confiscated.
The Constitution is clear on the Constitutional Right to possess guns and that this and other rights shall not be infringed. Some are advocating that doctors should secretly list and provide the government the names they believe have mental illness while some doctors have admitted that they believe anyone with a gun has a mental problem. In doctors offices and medical institutions across our country they are asking questions like "Do you have guns in your house?," "Are they loaded?," etc. and they are recording your answers. There are progressive groups identifying Christians, conservatives, Tea party members, limited government supporters, and others as threats to the United States. So the debate on how much to compromise away the rights of Americans begins on the Senate floor. What Constitution have these elected officials pledged to uphold?
The House today approved H. Res. 146 (226-194) to consideration of the bill H.R. 1120 which would prohibit the National Labor Relations Board from taking any action that requires a quorum of the members of the Board until such time as Board constituting a quorum shall have been confirmed by the Senate, the Supreme Court issues a decision on the constitutionality of the appointments to the Board made in January 2012, or the adjournment sine die of the first session of the 113th Congress." This is in response to the unconstitutional "recess" appointments by President Obama to the NLRB. Congress was not in recess and the Senate had not decided yet on rejecting or confirming the members nominated by President Obama.
The Hill reports, “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, "S. 649, the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act, disproportionately affects law abiding gun owners. ‘This bill is a clear overreach that will harass our friends, our neighbors and our families,’ McConnell said just a couple hours before the Senate will take a procedural vote to advance the gun-control bill.”
On the Senate floor, Leader McConnell explained, “I believe the government should focus on keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and those with mental issues that could cause them to be a threat to society. The government should not punish or harass law-abiding citizens in the exercise of their Second Amendment rights. Unfortunately, S. 649 has that focus backwards. . . . under the Schumer legislation the following offenses would now be federal crimes absent surrendering the firearms and conducting a background check: An uncle giving his nephew a hunting rifle for Christmas. A niece giving her aunt a handgun for protection. A cousin loaning another cousin his hunting rifle if the loan occurs just one day before the beginning of hunting season. Or one neighbor loaning another a firearm so his wife can protect herself while her husband is away. The people I am describing are not criminals—they are neighbors, friends and family—and the scenarios I am describing are not fanciful. They happen countless times in this country. But the Schumer bill would outlaw these transfers, and it would make people like these, criminals.”
Though the mainstream media has spent much of its time discussing Republicans’ positions on Second Amendment rights, comparatively little focus has been put on Democrats representing states with strong gun rights traditions. Today, though, The New York Times finally looks at this issue, writing, “For years, guns have been an issue that swing-state Democrats like [North Dakota Sen. Heidi] Heitkamp have sought to bury. Leading Democratic strategists still believe the assault weapons ban and the creation of background checks were a driving force in the Republican landslide of 1994. Six years later — after the Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore lost his home state, Tennessee; once-reliably Democratic West Virginia; and Arkansas, home to Bill Clinton, amid an onslaught of advertising by the National Rifle Association — many of those strategists vowed to let the issue of gun control lie dormant indefinitely. . . . [T]o other Democrats from rural Republican states, the landscape does not look all that different, especially if they are standing for re-election next year. Senators Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina all face tough races next year – and tough choices now.”
The Times notes Heitkamp saying, “‘In our part of the country, this isn’t an issue,’ she explained in an interview afterward. ‘This is a way of life. This is how people feel, and it is extraordinarily difficult to explain that, especially to grieving parents.’ Bottom line, she said, ‘I’m going to represent my state.’” And Heitkamp isn’t the only Democrat feeling pressure. “‘I care about what Montanans are thinking, that’s who I’m listening to, and I’m hearing a lot of opposition,’ said Mr. Baucus, who won the endorsement of the N.R.A. in 2008. Mr. Baucus said that the opposition he is hearing from Montanans is ‘very strong. It’s very intense, and it’s across the board.’ Mr. Begich said he is ‘going to look very carefully at the bills, but so far, they’re having a hard problem meeting Alaska values.’ . . . The political perils for such Democrats are real, said Vic Fazio, a former California congressman who headed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 1994 when a four-decade Democratic House majority was swept away. There were other issues — tax increases, a failed health care overhaul — but gun control loomed large, he said.”
Americans know the government is overspending -- they see the poor example set by the President, his staff, his agencies and the government as a whole. And, What is Big Government doing instead: talking about infringe on your rights, considering carving up the American pie and sharing with illegals who invaded our country, taxing you more, spending more, grounding the greatest Air Force in the world, ignoring the threat of Korea and Iran, and dancing with the enemies of our country - do I need continue with the list? Tags:Gun debate, government spending, Rasmussen Reports, no new taxesTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Kerby Anderson, Point of View: It looks like the Affordable Care Act may eventually be known as the Unaffordable Care Act. As we get closer to the full implementation of Obamacare, individuals and businesses are starting to count the costs. On this third anniversary of Obamacare we are seeing the difference between the predictions made when the legislation was being considered and the reality that is about to hit all of us.
Yuval Levin, writing in National Review, has noticed how various nuggets of truth about health care reform are starting to surface in media reports. The New York Times reported that: “the administration said it was unwise to tell consumers that they could get health insurance that fits your budget. That message, it said, is seen as highly motivational, but not as believable.”
Gone are the claims that health care reform will reduce the cost of health care. Remember when we heard “if you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan”? Most of those claims are gone. Instead we are hearing that costs will go up 32 percent.
Yuval Levin believes that Obamacare faces two huge problems because of the way the legislation was designed. First are the price controls on Medicare. Any across-the-board rate cut to providers “would result in drastically reduced access to health care for seniors.” Already we see that Medicaid’s low payment rates cause many doctors to refuse Medicaid patients. That makes it difficult for many poor Americans to find health care. If Medicare payments also drop, the same thing that has happened to the poor will happen to seniors.
Second, the design of Obamacare will actually encourage many families to opt to go uninsured until they need health care. The details are a bit complex to discuss here, the impact is easy to see. In a few years, the out-of-pocket costs for a family will be larger than the penalty they would have to pay for not having coverage.
These are just two reasons why health care reform may soon be called the Unaffordable Care Act.
---------- Kerby Anderson is a radio talk show host heard on numerous Christian Stations via the Point of View Network. Tags:unaffordable Care Act, Kerby Anderson, Point of ViewTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Ken Blackwell, Contributing Author: Recently, Jay Michaelson wrote a piece for The Daily Beast titled “The ‘Religious Liberty’ Bullies and Their Fight Against LGBT Equality.” In it, he suggests that those who oppose same-sex marriage for religious reasons are the same as the racists who opposed desegregation laws. He calls those who protect religious liberty, and who therefore are willing to stick up for the rights of religious people who oppose same-sex marriage, insincere and “racist,” as well. “Today is a different age — but the players, and the rhetoric, are the same,” he states. Later on, he says that defenders of religious liberty are “simply repurposing an old, racist rhetoric to fight the same social battles as always.”
There are three points to be made here. One, there can be no comparison between the fight for racial equality and the movement for same-sex marriage. Two, supporting the traditional definition of marriage is not the same (or even akin) to supporting institutionalized racism. Three, concerns about religious liberty are both sincere and valid, especially regarding the social trends Michaelson discusses in both his article and a related report he recently released.
My first point is that there can be no comparison between the fight for racial equality and the movement supporting same-sex marriage. To begin with, race occupies a singular place in our country’s history and laws. Our country fought a bloody Civil War and passed three separate Constitutional Amendments to rid our society of the injustice that was slavery.
The segregation laws that followed were ugly remnants of a culture of racial slavery, and they were immoral and unjust. They defied the American promise “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Black Americans were enslaved, literally deprived of their liberty, often robbed of life, and denied the opportunity to pursue happiness. Segregation laws were a legal statement of inequality. No other law in American history spells indignity and injustice like they did, and no other law so explicitly rings false to our country’s founding principles.
Now, for the second point. Applying the racism of segregation-era America to today’s “social battles” does not make for a compelling comparison. To state what should be obvious, not all racists oppose same-sex marriage, and not all who oppose same-sex marriage are racists. To say otherwise is disrespectful and frankly ludicrous. No reasonable person is advocating “segregation” between the opposite-sex attracted population and the same-sex attracted population. I don’t need to go into detail on this point. It should be enough for readers to simply think of their own family, friends, and acquaintances — some of whom, no doubt, are uncertain about or against same-sex marriage — and realize that pairing “racist” with “opposed to same-sex marriage” means labeling many reasonable people as outright bigots. That kind of accusation has heavy consequences and is dangerous to healthy discourse.
Marriage, as it stands and has stood for centuries, is not an institution that was driven into existence by bigotry, or constructed to deny some right to same-sex partners. People who oppose same-sex marriage do so for a variety of reasons. There are many who oppose same-sex marriage for religious reasons, and others for reasons grounded in history, philosophy, and our country’s Constitution. What traditional marriage supporters generally want, is to uphold a centuries-old definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. It is a fixed definition. They see marriage as unique and unchanging, valuable because of (and contingent on) its singular male-female union, and meaningless without it.
My third point refers to the idea that those who are concerned about religious liberty rights in and around same-sex marriage are covertly advancing some right-wing agenda. This is misleading, false, and insulting. Religious liberty is a real, fundamental right, first in our Constitutional Amendments. It’s what allows a man to be a conscientious objector, or a church to choose its own minister. In general, it’s what protects religious people who hold views that are out of political favor. Michaelson admits that intellectuals and politicians on both ends of the political spectrum support religious liberty. He simply thinks that religious liberty is much more limited than it is or ever has been.
As the recent (large) batch of cases against the Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate demonstrates, America has a diverse and principled religious population of citizens willing to fight for the right to express their faith in all aspects of life. That some, like Michaelson, don’t agree that buying contraception for others violates a person’s faith, does not suddenly appease the troubled consciences. Those who advocate strong conscience protections—whether from a contraceptive mandate or from federal recognition of same-sex marriage—do so sincerely.
We can all agree that the topic of same-sex marriage draws intense emotions from both sides. But those emotions do not justify branding people who disagree with us as liars or bigots. That’s a cheap way to silence dissenters, when there is real and substantive debate to be had. It’s also a grave insult to honest, truth-seeking individuals, and a violation of the principles of American society. All people should be free to explore and define their beliefs. And all should be free to speak, act, vote and advocate according to their beliefs.
----------------------- Ken Blackwell is on the faculty of the Liberty University School of Law and a senior fellow at the American Civil Rights Union. Also, Blackwell is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council. He is a contributing author to the ARRA News Service. Tags:Ken Blackwell, defense of, religious liberty traditional marriage, same sex marriage, responses to, Jay MichaelsonTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
American Commitment Ad Applauds Mitch McConnell, Blasts Carbon Tax
Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: American Commitment is launching an online ad campaign in the Kentucky and Washington, DC markets April 10 aimed at supporting Senator Mitch McConnell and his stalwart opposition to the economically devastating carbon tax that would hurt families and undermine economic growth.
The compelling ad, titled “Thank you, Mitch McConnell,” praises the Senate Minority Leader for his leadership in protecting taxpayers and blocking the disastrous carbon tax from becoming law.
“The carbon tax would be economically ruinous for Kentucky and America—and Senator McConnell deserves enthusiastic praise for insisting the Senate hold a vote on the Blunt Amendment to stop it,” said Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment. “The carbon tax would drive up energy expenses for families and businesses, cause gasoline prices to surge more than 20 cents per gallon, and destroy 50,000 jobs in Kentucky alone. Senator McConnell has led the way in blocking this prosperity-killing policy.”
The ad begins, “Gas prices, food prices, it seems like everything is going up these days. And Washington keeps making it worse—voting to take more money out of our pockets at every opportunity.”
“But not Senator Mitch McConnell. He stood up for hard working taxpayers and voted to block the carbon tax.”
The ad notes that the carbon tax proposed by Senate Democrats would drive gasoline prices more than 20 cents higher per gallon, increase energy bills, and kill 50,000 jobs in Kentucky. Even more pernicious, the new energy tax would automatically increase every year to fund more wasteful spending in Washington, DC.
The ad concludes by urging citizens to: “Call Senator McConnell. Thank him for standing up for hard working Kentuckians.” The ad can be viewed below or online
“To raise $580 billion in revenue, the budget limits the value of tax deductions and other tax benefits for the top 2 percent of families to 28 percent of taxable income. … the budget proposed selectively closing some ‘egregious’ loopholes such as for corporate jet purchases, for oil and gas companies and for carried interest, to raise revenue.” (“Obama To Unveil $1.058T Budget,” The Hill, 4/10/13)
It Grows the Government, Not the Economy Their Budget Never Balances—Ever
§ The House budget balances in ten years, but, like Senate Democrats, the White House says their budget never balances—ever.
$8.2 Trillion in New Debt
§ Accounting for the cost of eliminating the sequester and removing the budget gimmicks, net deficit reduction is only $119 billion. § Additional deficit increase in FY2013: $61 billion § Total U.S. debt in 2023: $25.4 trillion § Debt increase per household: $60,980 § Deficit in 2023: $439 billion
$1.1 Trillion in New Taxes
§ President Obama’s budget increases taxes by $1.1 trillion—on top of $1 trillion in taxes from Obamacare and more than $600 billion from the President’s recent tax hike. § $964 Billion in New Spending Above Projected Growth § Spending increase next year alone: $154 billion § Additional spending in FY2013: $61 billion § Total spending over ten years: $46.5 trillion § Rate of annual increase in mandatory spending: 5.2%
The Budget Grows the Government at the Expense of the Economy
President Obama’s budget takes more from hardworking families to spend more in Washington, D.C. Instead of empowering people with more control over their lives, the President’s plan empowers bureaucracy. Instead of creating good-paying American jobs, the President’s plan destroys jobs, depresses wages, and diminishes opportunity. Republicans are offering a different path. Our plan to balance the budget will end the waste of taxpayer dollars and foster a healthier economy, delivering real solutions to help improve people’s lives. Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan Tags:President Obama, Budget Plan, taxes more, spends more, Sen. Jeff Sessions, Rep. Paul RyanTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Obama Finally Unveils His Budget - More Spending and More Taxes
Today in Washington, D.C. - April 10, 2013: Two months late, President Obama finally unveiled his budget proposal today, but, unfortunately, his budget is just a collection of the same tax and spend policies he’s been pushing for years. It included almost a $1 Trillion in spending increases and $1.1 Trillion in tax increases. It proposes "$3.77 trillion in government spending for 2014, and the deficit for the year is projected to come in at $744 billion." More Spending - More Taxes! More comments after the Senate and House actions today.
Also, today the Treasury Department released the Monthly Treasury Statement for March. The report shows the U.S. ran a deficit of $106.5 billion last month. News like last month’s deficit and the most recent jobs numbers make it clear the president’s vision for the country is out of step with what the economy needs and of course so is his proposed budget.
The Obama Administration has made it clear that it isn’t concerned about running deficits. This past weekend, top White House aide Dan Pfeiffer said, “there's a false choice between deficits as far as the eye can see and job creation and economic growth now. You can do both. That is what the president's budget does.”
But many government and academic studies paint a much different picture. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) warns that “federal debt held by the public is projected to remain historically high relative to the size of the economy for the next decade.” The CBO warns, “such high and rising debt would have serious negative consequences” like lower wages and greater risk of a fiscal crisis.”
And, many economists agree that our current debt is impacting economic growth. A study by Carmen Reinhart of the University of Maryland and Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University found, that across wealthy and poor countries, the growth rate for a country with debt over 90% of it’s economy is 1% lower than if the country had lower debt levels.
The United States’ debt relative to the size of our economy exceeds 100%. How high does it have to go before Washington takes action?
Today, the Senate resumed consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 649, Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) gun control bill. Reid filed cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill last night, setting up a cloture vote (to cut off debate on the motion to proceed and consider the bill) on Thursday. This afternoon, the Senate quickly approved (87-11) Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) chief executive Sally Jewell as the next Interior secretary.
Yesterday, the Senate voted 64-34 to confirm Patty Schwartz to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit.
Today the House addressed and the passed (416-7) H.R. 678 — "To authorize all Bureau of Reclamation conduit facilities for hydropower development under Federal Reclamation law, and for other purposes." They first considered three amendments passing two and rejected one amendment to the bill.
Yesterday the House passed: H.R. 254 (400-4) — "To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to facilitate the development of hydroelectric power on the Diamond Fork System of the Central Utah Project." H.R. 1033 (283-122) — "To authorize the acquisition and protection of nationally significant battlefields and associated sites of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 under the American Battlefield Protection Program."
With regard to the President Obama budget submission,USA Today notes that it’s “a fiscal plan that even before it's officially released is eliciting groans from his conservative opponents as well as his backers on the left.” And of course it calls “for billions of dollars in new spending to repair the country's infrastructure and bolster education, according to a White House overview of the document.” “Overall,” USA Today writes, “the budget details $3.77 trillion in government spending for 2014, and the deficit for the year is projected to come in at $744 billion, or 4.4% of GDP. Even before the budget's official release, GOP lawmakers have framed it as a small bore effort when it comes to deficit cutting, because it assumes the elimination of the $1.2 trillion in automatic budget cuts, known as sequester, that were triggered earlier this year. The Obama budget also relies, in part, on raising taxes -- a red line Republicans say they will not cross.”
The Hill adds, “The $1.058 trillion budget for fiscal year 2014 — which will arrive on Capitol Hill about two months late — would turn off the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester and raise $580 billion in new tax revenue over ten years by limiting tax deductions for upper-income households. The budget increases spending in 2014 when compared to spending under the sequester. Leaving the sequester in place would lead to $966 billion in discretionary spending in 2014. Total spending in fiscal year 2014 including on entitlements would be $3.77 trillion. For the first time, Obama’s budget counts revenue from a ‘Buffett Rule’ requiring that households with annual income over $1 million pay at least a 30 percent tax rate after charitable deductions. . . . Unlike the House Republican budget, Obama’s budget would not balance, though it would reduce the deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product to 1.7 percent by 2023.”
CBS News’ Major Garrett points out, “Republicans already accuse the White House of creative accounting in describing future deficit reduction. Senior officials said the budget would include $1.8 trillion in net deficit reduction over ten years, with roughly $600 billion coming from higher taxes and the rest from spending cuts. Republicans counter that $1.2 trillion in spending cuts are already federal law under sequestration so all Mr. Obama is really proposing is $600 billion in new taxes. ‘We're not sure this is a serious exercise,’ said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.”
Leader McConnell spoke on the Senate floor this morning about his frustration with President Obama’s budget proposal: “Like nearly every one of his budgets so far, it’s late. Really late. In the extra two months he’s kept the country on hold, both the House and Senate have actually already passed their own budgets. So it’s hard to see what the White House plans to accomplish here. . . . [H]is budget simply does not represent some grand pivot from left to center. It’s really just a pivot from left to left. I mean, if these reports we’re seeing are correct, it’s mostly the same old thing we’ve seen year after year. And that’s really too bad, because it’s not like we don’t know the kinds of things that need to be done to get our budget back to balance and Americans back to work.”
He further explained, “Now, the White House initially made some fantastic claims about the amount of deficit reduction supposedly contained in its budget. But when you cut through the spin and get to the facts, it looks like there’s less than $600 billion worth of reduction in there – and that’s over a decade – all of it coming from tax increases. In other words, it’s not a serious plan. For the most part, just another left-wing wish list.”
Senator Jeff Sessions, ranking member of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee has provided some detailed comments which we will share in a separate article. In summary, "It Grows the Government, Not the Economy" and "President Obama’s budget takes more from hardworking families to spend more in Washington, D.C. Instead of empowering people with more control over their lives, the President’s plan empowers bureaucracy. Instead of creating good-paying American jobs, the President’s plan destroys jobs, depresses wages, and diminishes opportunity."
House Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise (R-LA) responded to the President Obama overdue FY 2014 budget" “While President Obama was on time with his Final Four picks, his budget is a bracket buster for American families that is 65 days late, calls for more job-killing taxes and regulations, and never even balances,” Scalise said. “President Obama’s budget represents a complete failure of leadership. Washington must stop spending money it doesn’t have and finally start living within its means. The federal government doesn’t have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. President Obama got more than $600 billion in new tax hikes just a few months ago, not to mention more than $1 trillion in new taxes in Obamacare, and now he’s back again for more while refusing to make any attempts to balance a budget or control the growth of federal spending that is jeopardizing the future of our country. It’s time for the President to abandon his failed tax and spend agenda and finally get to work growing the economy and balancing the budget.”
Generation Opportunity President Evan Feinberg, representing the Millennials (ages 18-29) said in a statement: “The country is nearly $17 trillion in debt and we’re on the hook for close to $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities over the next 75 years. No offense to our geriatric elected representatives in Washington, but they’re not going to be around when the chickens come home to roost. They’re running up a tab that my generation is ultimately going to be responsible for. Today, President Obama delivered his annual budget recommendations, only 65 days later than he is required to by law. Instead of proposing any meaningful spending cuts or agency consolidations, this budget includes a 6% increase in government spending under the guise of ‘investments.’ Why is it that every time politicians of either party ‘invest’ our money, we never seem to get it back?”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) at a press conference with Republican leaders discussed President Obama’s budget, “House Republicans passed a balanced budget that will help foster a healthier economy and to help create jobs. Unfortunately, the president’s budget never comes to balance. Every family has to balance its budget, Washington should as well.
“The American people know you can’t continue to spend money that you don’t have. The federal government has spent more than what it has brought in in 55 of the last 60 years. Now think about this, you can’t continue to go on like this. That’s why we came forward with a plan that will balance the budget over the next 10 years. We believe strongly that it is time for Washington to deal with its spending problem.
“And while the president has backtracked on some of his entitlement reforms that were in conversations that we had a year and a half ago, he does deserve some credit for some incremental entitlement reforms that he has outlined in his budget. But I would hope that he would not hold hostage these modest reforms for his demand for bigger tax hikes. Listen, why don’t we do what we can agree to do? Why don’t we find the common ground that we do have and move on that?
“The president got his tax hikes in January, we don’t need to be raising taxes on the American people. So I’m hopeful in the coming weeks we’ll have an opportunity, through the budget process, to come to some agreement.” Tags:President Obama, presidential budget, FY2014, more spending, more taxes, Confirmation, Sally Jewell, Interior SecretaryTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
In a speech Wednesday, Obama said that “opponents of some of these common-sense laws have ginned up fears among responsible gun owners that have nothing to do with what’s being proposed and nothing to do with the facts, but feeds into this suspicion about government.”
As Heritage’s David Addington reminds us, America’s founders were the first to have this suspicion of government, and that’s part of the reason why they made certain that the Second Amendment protected our right to keep and bear arms. And as for the facts, the proposals from Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) have major problems.
Addington, head of Heritage’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, lays out some of the dangers in Reid’s proposal:
It effectively puts a new tax on selling or giving away a firearm.
Background checks have become the focus of the new wave of gun control laws. Obama insists that “We’re not proposing a gun registration system; we’re proposing background checks for criminals.”
It’s worth noting that criminals wouldn’t bother themselves with going through America’s existing background check system—and pointing out that there is a background check systemin place. The new laws Reid is proposing would capitalize on fears of “loopholes” to create intrusive records of gun transfers.
Addington warns: "the loose language could be construed to allow the Department of Justice itself (or another agency specified by the Attorney General) to keep centralized records of who received what guns and where, by sale or gift from one individual to another."Even the ACLU is worried, according to an exclusive Daily Caller report. The ACLU’s Chris Calabrese said that Reid’s legislation fails to include “privacy best practices.”
“We think that that kind of record-keeping requirement could result in keeping long-term detailed records of purchases and creation of a new government database,” Calabrese said.
The Daily Caller reports that “The ACLU’s second ‘significant concern’ with Reid’s legislation is that it too broadly defines the term ‘transfer,’ creating complicated criminal law that law-abiding Americans may unwittingly break.”
Heritage’s Addington agreed, explaining that Reid’s legislation would treat anyone as a felon “who misplaces a firearm and does not report it to the police and the federal government fast enough.” He said: "Under no circumstances should Congress make it a federal crime to fail to report a missing firearm within 24 hours to local authorities and the Attorney General. It is an unreasonable use of power to define as a federal crime conduct that no reasonable person would know was a federal crime."But President Obama insists that “suspicion about government” is unfounded.
Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: Wouldn’t it be ironic if President Obama — who has shown that his every instinct is to pull back from any war or military conflict - ends up being a “war President” thanks to Kim Jung Un, the demented little dictator of North Korea?
I was about four months’ shy of becoming a bona fide teenager when North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950. The Second World War had concluded just five years before and Japan was still occupied by the U.S. military and would not become independent until September 1951.
One of the least taught or remembered of our wars, between 1950 and 1953 the U.S. suffered 33,686 casualties for a total of dead and wounded numbering 128,245.
After World War II the Korean peninsula was divided between the Russians and the Americans with the 38th parallel as the line of demarcation known then and now as the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). It is 2.5 miles wide and the war has never been declared over. The Russians and Chinese backed the then-dictator, Kim Jung Un’s grandfather. When he died, his father took over. The young dictator, age 29, has inherited their belligerent attitude, but he’s the first to actually bring North Korea to the brink of a full-out war. When you tell diplomats to get out while they can, you are probably not bluffing
There is little doubt that the military power of the U.S. can obliterate North Korea’s capital and other military assets, but it is worth noting that the capitol of South Korea, Seoul, is just thirty-five miles from the DMZ. It is extremely vulnerable and home to some ten million Koreans.
Let me state that I do not anticipate North Korea starting a war. If it did, Obama will have to be “all in” to destroy the North Korean regime and, of course, the concern is that it is a satellite of China. In recent times, Chinese think tanks have been publishing papers denouncing North Korea for its provocative missile “tests” and its nuclear tests that generated further United Nations sanctions.
The last thing China wants are a million North Korean refugees fleeing across its border, nor does it want to be dragged into a war pitting it against the United States and other coalition partners. China would actually benefit from a unification of the two Koreas that would produce a very useful trading partner.
Writing in the Asia-Pacific Journal, Selig S. Harrison noted that the United States spends more than $40 billion annually to maintain its defense position in East Asia and the western Pacific.
Suffice to say the defeat of North Korea would deprive a number of rogue states of a supplier of missiles, nuclear expertise, and other armaments. The world would be a safer place.
Fraught with irony, the U.S. is currently in the midst of its annual joint military exercises with South Korea and has taken what Pentagon spokesman, George Little, characterized as “prudent, logical and measured” responses such as deploying missile defenses closer to North Korea, positioning naval assets offshore, and a host of other actions that make it clear that it is taking its threats seriously.
Technically, we are already at war with North Korea thanks to its announcement that it regards the armistice agreement null and void.
Obama has four years of experience in office and, though a defense budget-cutter like Bill Clinton, it is likely he has gained considerable insight to U.S. military capabilities. Politically, a short, decisive defeat of North Korea would briefly bolster his flagging popularity, hovering around fifty percent in the polls. Being a successful war President has its advantages, but it didn’t help Bush41 get reelected after the Gulf War in 1990.
I’m guessing North Korea will do something quite minor from a military point of view; something not likely to evoke a hellish war and defeat. That’s been his grandfather’s and father’s game. The U.S. will rebuke North Korea. (“Inappropriate!” “Unacceptable!” “Not nice.”) Indeed, our presence may be the only thing keeping South Korea from heading north to give the third generation of trouble-makers a thorough thrashing.
Team Obama Offers The GOP A Suicide Pact on the Debt Ceiling
(Photo credit: JoeInSouthernCA)
by Ralph Benko, Contributing Author: The Fiscal Cliff, the Sequester, and the Continuing Resolutions now are behind us. The next Episode in the Continuing Saga is looming: the Debt Ceiling. President Obama has put down his table ante, as described by the Washington Post headline, “Obama budget would cut entitlements in exchange for tax increases.” In plain English Team Obama is offering the Republicans a suicide pact euphemized as a “grand bargain on the debt.” Instead of a suicide pact America needs Congress to tackle the Growth Gap.
Washington is treating the symptom rather than the disease. Moreover, the president (not uncharacteristically when it comes to economic policy, where he shows a curious gap in common sense resembling that of his predecessor, Jimmy Carter) is proposing a cure worse than the disease. With the economy continuing to sputter, and unemployment verging on the criminal for so late in a recovery, raising taxes is courting a double dip to the Great Recession. Suicide pact, anyone?
Prominent Republicans have been asking America to swallow poison pills as well. These are a recipe for the continued degradation of the Republican brand which used to, under Reagan, stand for a climate of massively good job creation and equitable prosperity. Reversion to something resembling the GOP’s “rootcanalonomics” that preceded Reagan is damaging the standing even of Rep. Paul Ryan — as reported by Howard Kurtz in The Daily Beast, Why Paul Ryan’s Star Dimmed.
But the thought leaders of the House GOP are beginning to shift from feckless masochism back to policies of the “Pursuit of Happiness.” Government policies in support of the pursuit of happiness truly serve Americans well … and are a recipe for political victory.
There is another, far better, route for America, and the Republicans, than to pursue even momentarily Mr. Obama’s proffered sugar-coated Satan sandwich (as the eloquent Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo, characterized, by tweet, Washington’s 2011 debt limit deal).
The road map for that route is called the Kadlec Curve. As this columnist previously has written (and bears repeating):[Charles] Kadlec formulated an insight in a Forbes.com column late last year that, little by little, is beginning to rock Washington. He found it hidden inside a footnote of a Congressional Budget Office report.
“[T]he impact of growth on the deficits … can be found in Appendix B of The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022: every one-tenth of one percent increase in the growth rate will reduce the federal budget deficit over the next 10 years by $314 billion.” [Emphasis added.]
Because real growth currently has been, and is, trending well below the CBO assumption of 2.8%, the scope of 4% growth should be considered $6, rather than $4, trillion in “enhanced” federal revenues.
$6 trillion in new federal revenues is just the byproduct of 4% economic growth. Of even greater importance: an economy generating more (and better) jobs than there are workers. That could cut the Gordian knot of immigration reform: America will be yearning for more immigrants, documented or not. 4% growth (somewhat less, actually) makes SocialSecurity and Medicare solvent for as far as the eye can see. 4% growth is the key to the goal of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to rebrand the GOP as the Great Opportunity Party. It helps the Democrats, who are identified, in the popular imagination, with empathy for workers and have-nots. And 4% growth will create a climate for spending reform based on policy quality, rather than fiscal panic.Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) now, systematically, is calling out this “Growth Gap.” This action on his part is a big change and a big deal. The Joint Economic Committee, which Brady now chairs, may be the most authoritative, and influential, “think tank” in Washington. When the JEC talks, officials listen. And should.
Here is what Brady recently had to say about the Growth Gap in a recent column in The Hill. Key findings? “[O]ur economy will be $20 trillion smaller in 2052. That’s an annual gap larger than our entire economy today. … (a) 1 percent growth gap means the loss of $93 trillion from our federal coffers through 2052.”
Brady:[T]he Congressional Budget Office cut its estimate of the potential real GDP growth rate to 2.2 percent, more than a full percentage point below America’s average since 1950. This might not sound like much, but it has a huge impact on jobs, our economy and our ability to pay the future bills of the federal government.
At America’s traditional 3.3 percent economic growth rate of the past half-century, the real economy doubles every 22 years. At the new lower rate of 2.2 percent, it takes almost 32 years to double in size — a decade longer.
A permanent growth gap of 1 percent translates into a slower growth by one-third for young Americans seeking their first job and families hoping to reach their American dream.
A permanent growth gap of 1 percent means our economy will be $20 trillion smaller in 2052. That’s an annual gap larger than our entire economy today.
It will also be harder to balance the federal budget because the 1 percent growth gap means the loss of $93 trillion from our federal coffers through 2052. For perspective, the entire unfunded liability of the U.S. government, including Social Security, Medicare and federal pensions, is less than that — $87 trillion.
This prospect of a “new normal” with permanently slower growth for America’s economy should be a red flag for all Americans.Washington cannot be content to allow the United States to falter from the ranks of the world’s strongest economies. Together we must focus on reversing this growth gap and creating a second American century in which we remain the world’s most dominant nation for economic freedom, opportunity and prosperity.
Brady has a laudable practical recipe for closing the Growth Gap. But the greater significance of what is emerging from the Joint Economic Committee is not its answers but its questions. So long as Washington continues to ask the wrong questions no solutions are possible. Futility is the outcome of treating the symptoms rather than the disease. The right questions will yield the right answers.
President Obama, for his proposed suicide pact, received this back-handed compliment from the Washington Post: “The budget will break with the president’s tradition of providing a sweeping vision of his ideal spending priorities, untethered from political realities.”
By “tethering” himself to “political realities,” however, the reliably reactionary Post means offering the Republicans a suicide pact rather than, as previously, yanking at an imaginary Republican leash, shouting “heel, boy, raise taxes!” and then criticizing the GOP as obstructionist for noncompliance. Neither the Post nor the White House seems to get it.
But the House Republicans are showing signs of getting it. Brady, with his indictment of the Growth Gap, merely is the most prominent. And there are smart serious people on the Democratic side of the aisle, such as Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who might be willing to sit down with their Republican counterparts, roll up their sleeves, and get serious about how to grow the economy.
The House Republicans have an opportunity to use the debt ceiling to drive home the point that Washington has been getting the wrong answers because it has been asking the wrong questions. This would be far more productive than playing a game of Chicken with Obama as some of my fellow Tea Partiers would like.
America (and the world) can reach its goals of full employment and deficit reduction by, and only by, focusing on enacting policies well calculated to allow a climate of equitable prosperity to flourish. This worked under Reagan and Clinton. It would work again. 1% greater growth may not sound like much but is the difference between continuing the world’s Little Dark Age and entering a new golden age. Memo from the citizens to our officials: Time to tackle the Growth Gap.
------------ Ralph Benko is senior advisor, economics, to American Principles in Action’sGold Standard 2012 Initiative, and a contributor to the ARRA News Service.The article which first appeared in Forbes was submitted for reprint by the author. Tags:Team Obama, offering, The GOP, Suicide Pact, Debt Ceiling, Ralph Benko, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
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