Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Althouse: The secret video of Romney talking to donors.


Presented at Mother Jones as if it's quite disturbing, but I don't see anything bad in there at all.
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.
And then he says he can't "worry about those people" as he tries to win votes, because they will never be convinced. He's not saying he doesn't care about them as citizens and human beings, just that he won't devote any attention to trying to cull some of their votes.

Compare the statements Obama made to donors in 2008, which were leaked out — the famous "bitter clingers" remarks.
You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them," Obama said. "And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Obama made a problematic judgment call in trying to explain working class culture to a much wealthier audience. He described blue collar Pennsylvanians with a series of what in the eyes of Californians might be considered pure negatives: guns, clinging to religion, antipathy, xenophobia.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Obama at the DNC: That’s it? - Right Turn - The Washington Post

Obama at the DNC: That's it?

Posted at 11:33 PM ET, 09/06/2012

It would have been better had he not spoken. Seriously. Like an aging rock star, President Obama, in a downsized venue, with downsized proposal and spewing downsized rhetoric only reminded us how far he has fallen from the heady days of 2008. The man, the agenda and the aura are faint imitations of their 2008 incarnations. And most importantly, he put forth an agenda that was entirely, and obviously, lacking, one that didn't begin to match the demands of our time.

Even for the liberal media, it will be hard to characterize a speech this prosaic as uplifting or fresh. The crowd — you know, the people who favor abortion on demand up to birth, all paid for by the government -- were thrilled at the onset, although quiet during long stretches of the speech. On TV the speech came across in large part as flat. It was frankly not as good a speech as his wife's.

But what did he say? Where is the argument for his re-election?

As a preliminary matter he played the victim unconvincingly. ("I know that campaigns can seem small, and even silly. Trivial things become big distractions. Serious issues become sound bites. And the truth gets buried under an avalanche of money and advertising. If you're sick of hearing me approve this message, believe me – so am I.") Since it is his own campaign that is irredeemably negative and petty he really has no claim to the high ground.

And since he previously extended the Bush tax cuts it was hard to reconcile his disdain for extending them now in an even weaker economy. (" I don't believe that another round of tax breaks for millionaires'; but how about for small businessmen?)

Let's start with his $4 billion debt reduction package. Remember, Obama has added more than $5 trillion to the debt since entering office. But more to the point, the plan has already been discredited. The Post's Glenn Kessler explained the claim to cut the debt by $4 trillion "is simply not accurate":

By the administration's math, you have nearly $3.8 trillion in spending cuts, compared to $1.5 trillion in tax increases (letting the Bush tax cuts expire for high-income Americans). Presto, $1 of tax increases for every $2.50 of spending cuts.
But virtually no serious budget analyst agreed with this accounting. The $4 trillion figure, for instance, includes counting some $1 trillion in cuts reached a year ago in budget negotiations with Congress. So no matter who is the president, the savings are already in the bank.
Moreover, the administration is also counting $848 billion in phantom savings from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though the administration had long made clear those wars would end.
In other words, by projecting war spending far in the future, the administration is able to claim credit for saving money it never intended to spend. (Imagine taking credit for saving money on buying a new car every year, even though you intended to keep your car for 10 years.)
Rather than good arithmetic, independent budget analysts called the maneuver "a major budget gimmick."
The administration also counts $800 billion in savings in debt payments (from lower deficits) as a "spending cut," which is a dubious claim. We didn't realize that debt payments were now considered a government program.
There are a number of other games being played, so fake money is being used to pay for real spending projects. In effect, most of Obama's claimed deficit reduction comes from his proposed tax increases

There was a reason of course that lefty bloggers tried (unsuccessfully) to "fact check" this analysis; they saw quite clearly how devastating it would be for the man selling himself as brave and responsible to come out with a plan so puny and phony. (A helpful analysis debunking the president's plan was also put out by the Senate Budget Committee's ranking member. "Overall, the President proposes to spend $1.4 trillion more than we would spend if no policy changes were made, meaning the President's $1.6 trillion tax hike is used to fund new spending, not to lower deficits.")

But that die was cast long ago. This president is not there to solve our fiscal problems. He is there to grown government.

No matter how desperately the Obama team spins, there is no getting away from this simple fact: He has no credible plan to reduce the debt or intention of attacking the drivers of debt, namely entitlement spending. For those Democrats and independents who though he would eventually get serious about our most serious problem, the answer tonight was: "You've been had".

What followed was one spending program after another, as if no debt crisis loomed and as if the key to jump-starting the economy were to spend more money. (Recall we have spent trillions and trillions already.) It was, to put it mildly, shockingly weak and rather dull. Before our eyes, Obama has become the anti-reformer, the defender of the status quo and the throw back to mid-20th century liberalism.

As the Romney team and the RNC were only too eager to point out in a flurry of press releases, Obama already has promised virtually every item on his 2012 wish list — in his 2008 acceptance speech. He wants to reduce unemployment and help the middle class . We are expected, he says, to be "patient." But why give him another chance to get it right by simply doing more of the same?

When you've promised before to create manufacturing jobs, double exports, cut tuition in half, lessen our dependence on foreign oil and stick two million (!) people in community college and failed to do it, why should the American people believe this set of pie in the sky promises.

The speech was terribly government-centric, even for a Democrat. Obama urged the audience not to think there is a government program for all ills, but then came up with one government program after another. Does he think that adding a bunch of government programs will grown the economy? There was no hint that the economy was still anemic, millions remained unemployed and in poverty and his already huge increase in government has not brought a new age of prosperity.

However, one thing he didn't tout, indeed he did not mention his signature achievement Obamacare. His finest moment can't even be mentioned in public. Although he mischaracterized the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan as "Vouchercare", he offered little of his own regarding reform of either Medicare or Social Security. This was political timidity of the worst kind.

But he was perhaps most disingenuous on national security. We sit on the precipice of defense cuts his own defense secretary says would be "devastating." He then tells the crowd that the way to improve national security is to take money from defense and spend it --- excuse me — invest it on "nation-building here at home." And he mentioned Israel in passing, but, after the events of the past week, did not identify its capital. He didn't even both to tell Iran all options remain on the table. ("The Iranian government must face a world that stays united against its nuclear ambitions.") It was fair warning that this president intends in a second term to show all the "flexibility" he can muster — to soothe our foes.

Instead he taunted Romney, accusing him of wanting to go back to the "blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly." It was nervy for the president who has alienated allies, told the Russian president he'd be more flexible and savaged defense spending to accuse his opponent of being naive on national security.

The Romney camp will breathe a sigh of relief. There is nothing in the speech we have not heard, nor is there any sense that Obama has grown in the job, is ready to tell his own party (let alone the public, as he claims he has done) hard truths or do what may be unpopular but is nevertheless essential. He leaves the field wide open for Mitt Romney to be the adult in the race, the responsible leader. If Romney can fully embrace that role, the presidency will be his.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Better Off Under Obama? Let's Count The Ways We're Not - Investors.com

Better Off? Let's Count the Ways We're Not

Economic Conditions: All weekend, Democratic party leaders kept fumbling their answer to a simple question: Are we better off than we were four years ago? There's a good reason for that: We're not.

It wasn't until Monday that the campaign was able to figure out how to answer the question, with Obama's deputy campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, saying, "Absolutely."

Obama's argument is simple: The economy was headed for a second Great Depression when he took office — hemorrhaging GDP and jobs. His stimulus, the auto bailouts and so on, prevented that, and the economy has since been slowly digging out of the massive ditch into which President Bush drove it. Thus, Obama says, he deserves an "incomplete" grade.

It's quite a stretch that Obama stopped another depression. The recession ended just five months into his first term, before most of his policies had a chance to take effect. It's an even bigger stretch to say that people's lives have been improving during the 3-year-old Obama "recovery," which started in June 2009.

By most measures the country isn't making slow progress; it's falling further behind. Some examples:

Median incomes: These have fallen 7.3% since Obama took office, which translates into an average of $4,000. Since the so-called recovery started, median incomes continued to fall, dropping $2,544, or 4.8%.

Long-term unemployed: More than three years into Obama's recovery, 811,000 more still fall into this category than when the recession ended.

Poverty: The poverty rate climbed to 15.1% in 2010, up from 14.3% in 2009, and economists think it may have hit 15.7% last year, highest since the 1960s.

Food stamps: There are 11.8 million more people on food stamps since Obama's recovery started.

Disability: More than 1 million workers have been added to Social Security's disability program in the last three years.

Gas prices: A gallon of gas cost $1.89 when Obama was sworn in. By June 2009, the price was $2.70. Today, it's $3.84.

Misery Index: When Obama took office, the combination of unemployment and inflation stood at 7.83. Today it's 9.71.

Union membership: Even unions are worse off under Obama, with membership dropping half a million between 2009 and 2011.

Debt: Everyone is far worse off if you just look at the national debt. It has climbed more than $5 trillion under Obama, crossing $16 trillion for the first time on Tuesday and driving the U.S. credit rating down.

Ironically, the only people better off under Obama are corporate chieftains, who've seen corporate profits climb more than 50% under Obama's "recovery," and investors, who've benefited from a near-doubling in the Dow industrials from its March 2009 lows.

Given this record, we can only hope Obama doesn't have the chance to get a "complete" on his plans.

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Bill Clinton’s 8 digs at Obama - Kevin Cirilli - POLITICO.com

Bill Clinton's 8 digs at Obama

There's only one president who actually came from Hope.

Former President Bill Clinton — a native of Hope, Ark. — is expected to offer a rousing endorsement of President Barack Obama in his speech Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention. But four years ago, while his wife Hillary competed for the Democratic nomination, Clinton wasn't always so supportive of Obama's "hope and change" message.

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(Also on POLITICO: Clinton's big speech a mystery)

Here are Bill Clinton's most controversial quotes about Obama:

1. "The idea that one of these campaigns is positive and the other is negative when I know the reverse is true and I have seen it and I have been blistered by it for months is a little tough to take. Just because of the sanitizing coverage that's in the media doesn't mean the facts aren't out there." — Jan. 7, 2008; New Hampshire campaign stop

2. "I think that they played the race card on me. We now know, from memos from the campaign, that they planned to do it all along." — April 21, 2008, WHYY News Radio

3. "In theory, we could find someone who is a gifted television commentator and let them run. They'd have only one year less experience in national politics." — Dec. 15, 2007, PBS's "Charlie Rose"

4. "Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen." — Jan. 7, 2008, addressing Obama's record on Iraq during a New Hampshire stop

5. "Hillary's opponent, in his entire campaign, every two or three weeks has said for months and months and months, beginning in Nevada, that really there wasn't much difference in how America did when I was president and how America's done under President Bush. Now, if you believe that, you should probably vote for him, but you get a very bad grade in history." — April 17, 2008, Lock Haven, Pa., campaign speech

6. "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in '84 and '88. Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here." — Jan. 26, 2008, to reporters in Columbia, S.C.

7. "I mean, when's the last time we elected a president based on one year of service in the Senate before he started running? I mean, he will have been a senator longer by the time he's inaugurated, but essentially once you start running for president full time you don't have time to do much else." — Dec. 15, 2007, PBS's "Charlie Rose"

8. "Oh, I think yes." – Dec. 20, 2011, Fox News, when asked if the media favored Barack Obama during the 2008 election.

(PHOTOS: Bill Clinton's career)

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Works and Days » The Terrifying New Normal

Works and Days

The World We Don't Question

I've witnessed two of the most radical developments in my lifetime the last four years — changes far greater than those brought on by the massive new increases in the national debt, the soaring gas costs, the radical decrease in average family income, the insolvent Medicare and Social Security trajectories, or the flat housing market.

One is the fact of less than 1% interest rates on most savings (well below the rate of inflation), and the other is an epidemic of 20-something unemployment. All that is the new normal.

Why Save?

The hallmark advice of retirement planning was always to scrimp, save, and put away enough money to make up for retirement's lost salary, increasing medical bills, and the supposed good life of the "golden years." If a couple had saved, say, $300,000 over a lifetime (again, say, putting $500 away each month for 30 years at modest compounded interest), then they might expect a so-so annual return at 5% of about $15,000 a year on their stash, or about $1,250 per month.

In other words, perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Retiree could find enough with Social Security to live okay and pass on the principal to their kids. But well aside from the fact that many Americans have been laid off, taken pay cuts, lost home equity, had their 401(k)s pruned, or had to take care of out-of-work relatives, there is no 5% any more on anything, not even 2% or  in most cases 1%.  Saving money means nothing really in terms of return, only the realization that inflation eats away the principal each year.

To earn a decent return, the retiree has had to wade into bonds, stocks, and real estate buying and selling, with all their attendant risks that loom larger after 65. The old American idea of receiving a fair so-so interest on a little money in the savings account vanished. And no one seems to care.

The Federal Reserve perhaps had its reasons to keep interest rates low, given the massive spending, 2008 collapse, and the anemic "recovery," but whatever the purported aims, the policy is not working. Yet cheap money proves to be no stimulus, even at rock-bottom interest rates. Firms don't seem to think that near-zero interest (and the banks now have a rather scandalous margin between what they charge for ordinary loans and what they pay in interest) balances out the new anxiety over tax hikes, more regulations, and spiking energy costs. (Did Obama believe that employers simply existed to pay ever more taxes for his growing technocracy to redistribute?)

In classical Roman Republican terms, near-zero interest (and calls for "cancellation of debt and redistribution of property") represented a vast transfer of wealth from those who saved to those who owe. Imagine a contemporary version of Catiline yelling, "If elected, I promise we won't pay those SOB one-percenters any more than a third of a percent on their not-pay-their-fair-share stashes." At least that way we might have known what we were dealing with.

The Really Lost Generation

Few seem to note that those who receive nothing on their retirement savings don't retire so easily. And when they don't retire, jobs don't open up — which brings us to my next observation: the lost generation of those between 21 and 30, who at various ages and periods came into the workplace the last four years. Many have 8% plus student loans. I doubt half of those will ever be paid off, given the epidemic of unemployment in this cohort.

Unemployment rates of those 16-24 are now officially over 50%. Even the cohort between 16 and 29 suffers from 45% unemployment. In short, in four years we have become Europeanized: young people with no jobs who are living at home and putting off marriage and child raising — a "lost" generation in "limbo," etc. etc. They may have a car, borrow their parents' nicer car for special occasions, watch their parents' big screen TV, and have pocket change for a cell phone and laptop by enjoying free rent, food, and laundry, but beneath that thinning technological veneer there is really little hope that they will ever be able to maintain that lifestyle on their own in this present day and age. Meanwhile, just like some Middle East tribal society, "contacts," "networking," and "pull" are the new gospel, as parents rely on quid pro quos to offer their indebted, unemployed (and aging) children some sort of inside one-upmanship in the cutthroat job market.

Note that as a poor substitute for a job, we institutionalized something called the "internship." The best I can tell (I get weekly barrages of inquiries from young people wanting to "intern"), you would enjoy the work of free workers who in exchange for their uncompensated labor gather skills and influence that translate at some nebulous date into real work. How odd that the government that fines an employer who does not duly pay proper overtime wages is not interested in the tens of millions of youth who are working largely as Spartan helots.

These new realities fall heavily on the young male. Traditionally, he was in charge of taking charge — working two jobs to acquire enough to seed a marriage and family or buy a house, striving to be the protector of the household, and accruing experience in his late twenties that would translate into needed promotions in his thirties that would later on pay for braces, kids' camp, and college tuitions.

No more. We have become emasculated Italians, our economy ossified and socialized to such an extent that few are taking risks to open new businesses in Illinois, build a pipeline across Nebraska, plant a 600-acre irrigated field, or open a timber mill or mine in California. Only so many of the unemployed can land a government job monitoring delta smelt populations or suing to shut down another power plant. In other words, I don't think Barack Obama at the convention this week is going to be bragging too much about "millions of new green jobs," more subsidies to Solyndra clones, another stimulus, keeping the deficit at $1 trillion plus, another federal takeover, more juicy details about Obamacare, higher taxes on the greedy, another gas lease denied, or yet more pipelines tabled. He may wish to continue all that, but he surely won't wish to tell us so.

The new model for the next generation is to cobble part-time work together, intern, occasionally draw on unemployment, send out resumes hourly, and hope for something to turn up (preferably in government, state or federal). We all witness the reality behind these statistics firsthand. When we travel we see more and more older people at work, often well into their 70s. I know 50 or so young offspring of friends, relatives, and associates who are desperately trying to find work.

Some other symptoms: There is a new backlash at colleges, which habitually lie to students about the value of their degrees and care more that their offices of diversity are staffed well and their vice provosts for external relations are hitting all the necessary conferences — at least far more than they worry that their tuition increases have yearly soared well beyond the rates of inflation. The federal government, of course, has masked such excess with subsidized loan-sharking. I asked some young people recently what their various (and all had confusing loan "packages") "subsidized" student loan interest rates were. Most said between 6 and 9% (as their parents get .25% of their own savings).

I don't know where this all leads. The aging baby boomers are not going to have the retirements that they envisioned, and their children are not going to have the good jobs their baby-boomer parents enjoyed. The more I talk to those my age (58), the more I hear that they are madly trying to save money, buy an extra house, get a good used car — all for their children who may not otherwise ever have a savings account, a home, or reliable transportation. The ancient wisdom was always "don't spoil your kids," "no one helped me after 18," and "keep it up and they will never fend for themselves." All true.

But these days, the game has changed somewhat — or rather been downscaled: the PhD is not being hired for anything other than part-time teaching; the JD is reduced to the law library gofer; the freshly minted MD is the equivalent of a salaried, high-paid nurse; the credentialed high-school teacher is subbing; the engineer is a draftsman; the carpenter is cobbling together home repair mini-jobs. The new plum job? Landing one of those federal or state regulatorships, inspectorships, or clerkships, which are paid for with borrowed money,  produce little, and grow as those they audit and fine shrink.

In other words, we are seeing the proverbial chickens coming home to roost in an economy that has run up $16 trillion in debt, regulated its way into paralysis, hounded the private sector, and demonized profit-making. The strange thing about the 2008 disaster was not just that hand-in-glove with Wall Street banks Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae created a huge real estate bubble and then watched it pop (one inflated through private speculation and government-backed sub-prime loans), but that the blame went not to the intrusive, incompetent federal government or even to a Goldman-Sachs-like bundler (a firm from whom Obama got more campaign money than did any other prior presidential candidate), but to the vague "private sector" — as if the well-driller or timber man had somehow collapsed the economy. The result was that Obama's medicine from 2009 onward was worse than the original disease.

Oh, one other thing. We don't see any more of those funny, though obnoxious, bumper stickers  with the words "We are spending our children's inheritance" on huge Winnebagos as they zoom by. Perhaps that's because there are not so many inheritances any more or the children (now in their late 20s) are inside the Winnebago on vacation with their parents. Or maybe the parents sold the Winnebago and are working at Starbucks.

Finally, where does all this lead? To a great deal of pressure and expectations upon a Mitt Romney, whom a growing number of people seem willing to entrust with the remedy to Obama's Hellenic malady. The more Obama tsk-tsks saving the Utah Winter Olympics or creating a Bain Capital, the more the strapped public may say "bring it on."

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage based on a modified Shutterstock.com image.)

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Obama's Accelerating Downward Spiral For America - Forbes

Obama's Accelerating Downward Spiral For America

WASHINGTON - JULY 21:  U.S. President Barack O...

(Image credit: Getty Images North America via @daylife)

New income data from the Census Bureau reveal what a great job Barack Obama has done for the middle class as President.  During his entire tenure in the oval office, median household income has declined by 7.3%.

In January, 2009, the month he entered office, median household income was $54,983.  By June, 2012, it had spiraled down to $50,964.  That's a loss of $4,019 per family, the equivalent of losing a little less than one month's income a year, every year.  And on our current course that is only going to get worse not better.

Obama never tires of telling us that the economy was in one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression when he entered office, as if he was the only President to have suffered a recession early in his term. But nobody expected that he would use the vast powers of the most powerful office in the world to make it worse.  But that is what he has done.

Even if you start from when the recession ended in June, 2009, the decline since then has been greater than it was during the recession.  Three years into the Obama recovery, median family income had declined nearly 5% by June, 2012 as compared to June, 2009.  That is nearly twice the decline of 2.6% that occurred during the recession from December, 2007 until June, 2009.  As the Wall Street Journal summarized in its August 25-26 weekend edition, "For household income, in other words, the Obama recovery has been worse than the Bush recession."

The Journal elaborated, "The President portrays the financial decline of American families on his watch as part of a decades-long trend.  He's wrong.  Real income for middle income households rose by roughly 30% from 1983 to 2005, according to the Congressional Budget Office."  And MSNBC hosts, listen up, you might learn something.  The Journal further explains, "The political left likes to blame the ebbing of union power.  But non-government unionization fell dramatically in the 1980s and 90s, and incomes rose."

True, income growth lagged from where it should have been during the Bush years.  But that only reflected the abandonment of half of Reagan's economic program during those years.  While Bush's tax rate reductions did promote growth, Bush and the Republican Congress lost control of federal spending during the 2000s.  Federal spending as a percent of GDP increased by one-seventh during the Bush years, almost exactly reversing the gains that had been won under Speaker Gingrich's Republican Congress in the 1990s.  (Clinton played a good rhetorical game appearing to fight the spending reductions, but deserves great credit for substantively giving into them in the end.)

But more important by far was that the Bush Fed abandoned the Reagan/Clinton strong dollar monetary policy for a cheap dollar, Keynesian style monetary policy, falling for the dopey Keynesian line that a cheap currency promotes exports.  The Bush Treasury Secretaries cheered this debasement of the Fed's monetary policy, reflecting the dark cloud of reemerging Keynesian influence on national economic policy.

What is overlooked is that a declining dollar may reduce the prices of American exports, but it makes the entire nation poorer in the process, reducing the international purchasing power of every dollar every American worker earns, and reducing the international value of every asset owned by every American investor, business entrepreneur, and property owner.

The problem is that Obama has only greatly accelerated everything Bush did wrong, and reversed everything Bush did right.  So Obama's spending has skyrocketed the federal budget by nearly one-fourth as a percent of GDP in just one term.  Moreover, the Obama Fed has abandoned any semblance of control over monetary policy, buying most of the soaring federal debt issued to finance Obama's record smashing federal deficits with newly printed money (actually created by computer record, a sort of cyberprinting).  Of course, the whole point of Obama's tax policy has been to more than reverse the Bush tax rate cuts, which is now already slated under current law to go into effect on January 1.

That is why it will all only get worse in a second Obama term, as the economy slides back into a double-dip recession in 2013 unless these Obama policies are swiftly reversed.  I first began ringing alarm bells about that a year ago with the publication of my Encounter Books Broadside No. 25, Obama and the Crash of 2013.  But now even the Washington establishment CBO is pealing the air raid siren as well.

I cover public policy, particularly concerning economics.

Page 2 of 2

Renewed, double-dip recession would mean unemployment rocketing back into double digits once again, the deficit exploding to over $2 trillion, the highest in world history by far, real wages and incomes declining even more, and poverty soaring further.

Obama has failed the poor as well as the middle class.  Last year, the Census Bureau reported more Americans in poverty than ever before in the more than 50 years that Census has been tracking poverty.  Now The Huffington Post reports that the poverty rate is on track to rise to the highest level since 1965, before the War on Poverty began.  A July 22 story by Hope Yen reports that when the new poverty rates are released in September, "even a 0.1 percentage point increase would put poverty at the highest level since 1965."  But a consensus survey of experts across the political spectrum indicates the poverty rate could soar from the current 15.1% to as high as 15.7%.  "Poverty is spreading at record levels across many groups, from underemployed workers and suburban families to the poorest poor," Hope Yen reports.

This is consistent with the effect of Obamanomics on incomes.  "The group that has suffered the most during the Obama Presidency has been black Americans, whose real incomes have fallen by more than 11%.," the Journal also observed in its August 25-26 weekend edition.

There is no secret or magic as to how to turn around these declining incomes.  Increased investment in business expansion and start ups increases demand for labor, which drives up wages.  That investment buys new tools and capital equipment for workers, making them more productive, which provides the cash flow to increase wages.

Increasing investment results from reducing the tax rates on investment, which enables investors to keep a higher percentage of what they produce, increasing incentives for investment.  It also comes from maintaining a stable or rising dollar, which assures investors they will not lose some of their investment returns to a declining dollar or rising inflation, or the boom and bust cycles that dollar manipulation and inflation create.

As the Journal further explained,

"A key driver of higher wages in the 1980s and 1990s was a surge of capital investment in computers, plant and equipment, which made American workers more productive. When Mr. Obama pledges to raise taxes on investment income (capital gains, dividends and small business profits), he is making it costlier to innovate and modernize.  That plays out over time into slower gains in productivity and wages."

A renewed economic boom in jobs and incomes is long overdue, straining within the bonds of Obamanomics to break out.  Before this last recession, going back to the Great Depression 75 years ago, recessions in America have lasted an average of 10 months, with the longest previously at 16 months.  But here we are 56 months after the recession started in December, 2007, with no real recovery yet in sight.

Yes, the recession technically ended more than 3 years ago.  But the point is that what we are suffering today is the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression.  And no Obama apologists cannot say that the recovery is so bad because the recession was so bad, because the American historical record is the worse the recession the stronger the recovery, as the American economy has always before snapped back to its world leading economic growth trend line.  That even happened after the Great Depression (once Roosevelt was gone).  Check out for yourself the historical record of American recessions and recoveries at www.nber.org.

Based on this historical record, America should be enjoying its third year of a raging recovery economic boom right now.  And it will, after Obama is gone, and his policies are reversed.

The above market process of increased investment, increased demand for labor, increased productivity, and increased wages and incomes is the way that it has worked to increase the wages and incomes of American workers for 300 years.  And it is the only way that works.  Rising wages, incomes, prosperity, and living standards do not result from increased government spending, increased deficits and government debt, increased Fed money creation, greater income and wealth redistribution, or any other fever swamp of Obamanomics.

If this generation of Americans does not get it, they will not enjoy the world leading living standards, and American Dream, of prior generations of Americans.  Moreover, they will not deserve it.  There is no law of the universe that says America must be the richest, most prosperous nation in the history of the world.  If the American people do not choose the wisest leaders following traditional American, free market, economic policies, but instead choose the hope and change of the economic policies of Argentina and Venezuela, then they will get, and deserve, the prosperity and living standards of Argentina or Venezuela.

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Monday, September 3, 2012

Absolutely Brutal Ad

Doug Ross @ Journal
"We've heard it all before":

As Jammie observes, "The best offense against Obama is... Obama."

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Roger’s Rules » Feeling Sorry for Maureen Dowd

Roger's Rules

I wonder whether The New York Times provides psychiatric coverage for its employees?  I ask because it seems clear that poor Maureen Dowd has finally lost it.  I say "finally," but I should acknowledge that I am not a regular reader of her column. I long ago concluded that Dowd was one of those writers whose hectoring hysteria was bad for my digestion. You open the paper to the page where her column appears and it seems as if someone is screaming at you. The fact that she appears to think she is being cute adds a slightly macabre and pathetic element to the effect, as if an aging Miss Havisham decided to go into business as an editorialist.

As regular readers of "Roger's Rules" know, about the only time I encounter the Times in all its physical wood-pulp glory is when visiting friends in Northwest Connecticut. That may soon come to end, too, since they have given up on the weekday edition in exasperation. They still get the Sunday paper, though, and while visiting yesterday I was presented with the Sunday Review section which contained Dowd's column. "Have you seen this?," my friend asked in tones of wonder, pointing to "Cruel Conservatives Throw a Masquerade Ball," Dowd's report on the Republican Convention that convened in Tampa, Florida, last week.

The column is so weird, and so at odds with reality, that innocent readers, unacquainted with the rhetorical eructations of Maureen Dowd, might wonder if she had been drinking or smoking something contraband while composing it. The combination of snarling bitterness and juvenile name-calling certainly suggests a mind distracted from itself. The convention, she said, was "a colossal hoax." Paul Ryan's speech was "a shimmering mirage, a beckoning pool of big, juicy lies." Mitt Romney was "a native alien" who is "unlike the vast majority of Americans in every respect."

Now, accusing Paul Ryan of "lying" has become a meme of the moment. Anyone interested in teasing out the truth — that is to say, the utter lack of truth — behind the charges might want to ponder "Fact-Checking the Fact-Checkers," a summary of the tendentious misrepresentations circulating about Ryan's speech and legislative record. For her part, Maureen Dowd doesn't actually name any "big, juicy lies," contenting herself instead with the assertion that that "Ryan's lies and Romney's shape-shifting are so easy to refute," that the wily Republicans resorted to "mythmaking" and "artifice" in order to conceal "their authentic ruthless worldview." ("Ryan's harsh stances toward women, the old and the poor," she said darkly, but without elaboration, "are on record.")

What can one say?  Does anyone outside the orbit of The New York Times  actually believe Dowd's repulsive caricatures? Republicans, according to Dowd, are "harsh" and heartless, greedy and grasping. They don't like women, the poor, blacks, Hispanics, the elderly, or "the environment." At the convention she saw people in "cowboy hats and cheeseheads," "economically wounded capitalists in shades from eggshell to ecru," and "blindingly white older male delegates." She somehow missed the many blacks, women, Asians, Hispanics, etc. who filled the conventional hall and spoke from the podium.  Well, she didn't miss them, exactly, it's just that her twisted perspective requires that she regard them as part of that "colossal hoax" and "masquerade" Republicans supposedly are perpetrating on an unwary country.

Dowd's problem — it's Obama's problem, too — is that reality tells a very different story. Leftists are all about promoting big government solutions to social problems. Unfortunately for Leftists, big-governments policies are usually disastrous. They tend to have an effect more or less opposite to what they were designed to accomplish. Welfare, for example, has not alleviated poverty, it has institutionalized it. (It has also institutionalized the bureaucratic apparatus which administers the welfare, which gives politicians a vested interest in its perpetuation.) Obama's spread-the-wealth-around economic policies have also been disastrous.  Median household income has dropped nearly 5 percent since he took office. The federal debt has exploded by more than 50 percent, to $16 trillion. Unemployment, which Obama predicted would by at 5.6 percent by now, is 8.3 percent: that's 23 million people out of work. And on and on.

The truth is that Democrats are great at the rhetoric of compassion, but their policies produce bureaucratic entanglement and economic immiseration. To hear Maureen Dowd tell it, Mitt Romney is heartless plutocrat.  Yet he contributed some 16 percent of his not-inconsiderable income to charity (Obama gave 1 percent of his) and the convention was full of accounts of his personal generosity and kindness.  The effort to demonize Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan must confront one insuperable obstacle. Both are kind, generous, loving men who have devoted themselves to their families and their communities.  According to Maureen Down, "even when [Mitt Romney] looks genuine, he still seems false." Except that he doesn't. What he seems like is a straight-shooting business man, not a utopian who thinks that because he has promised something he has therefore performed it. The Democrats have spent a lot of time and money attempting to tarnish the reputation Bain Capital, the company Mitt Romney founded.  The trouble is, the record shows that Bain has been a tremendous force for good. It helped many worthy companies, from Staples to Bright Horizons to Steel Dynamics, one of the most successful steel companies in America.

Maureen Dowd pretends that the Republican platform is "harsh" because it favors individual and local initiatives over the centralizing "solutions" of big government. She never pauses to ask which approach actually helps people more. For her, the pretense of benevolence trumps the reality.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama, stung by Clint Eastwood's brilliant "empty chair" routine, has complained "There was a lot of talk about hard truths and bold choices [at the Republican Convention], but no one actually told you what they were." I can help him out with that. All he needs to do is fire up his Blackberry and head over to the Romney-Ryan web site. There he will find a plethora of specific hard truths, bold choices, not to mention common-sense policy proposals. On the issue of taxes, for example, among the proposals are:

  • Make permanent, across-the-board 20 percent cut in marginal rates
  • Maintain current tax rates on interest, dividends, and capital gains
  • Eliminate taxes for taxpayers with AGI below $200,000 on interest, dividends, and capital gains
  • Eliminate the Death Tax
  • Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
  • Cut the corporate rate to 25 percent
  • Strengthen and make permanent the R&D tax credit

On the issue of health care, Romney has promised that on his first day in office he will "issue an executive order that paves the way for the federal government to issue Obamacare waivers to all fifty states. He will then work with Congress to repeal the full legislation as quickly as possible." His goal is to "give each state the power to craft a health care reform plan that is best for its own citizens." Take a look at the web site to appreciate the thoughtful alternative to ObamaCare he has proposed.

One of the themes of the Republican Convention was that President Obama had promised much but delivered little. It would be difficult for any candid  observer to disagree. Even many Democrats understand this. They don't dispute that Obama has failed (though they do not, of course, put it that way). Instead, they blame someone else for the failure. Stock in George Bush as a scapegoat is showing signs of weakness but there is still "the Republican Congress" and "Europe."  The problem for team Obama is that their leader is making the same promises now that he did four years.  Do you think I exaggerate?  Take a look at this eerie collage comparing Obama in 2008 with Obama in 2012:

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The video bears the title "We've Heard it All Before."  It might have been called "Toast."

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CARPE DIEM: Quotation of the Day: Gender Pay Discrimination

Quotation of the Day: Gender Pay Discrimination

"The reason economists have trouble with the idea of rampant [gender] pay discrimination is that it defies common sense. Let's say I own a company and I am employing only men. Is it really true that I could fire all the men, replace them with women and lower my cost of labor by 23%? If I could do that why wouldn't I? If I were stupid enough not to do it, wouldn't a competitor of mine do it and drive me out of business?"

"In other words, if workers received substantially different pay for doing the same job, an employer would have to be leaving a lot of money on the table by not hiring the lower-paid employees. (Remember, most people who believe in pay discrimination also believe most CEOs are selfish, money-grubbing sorts as well.) And it can't just be one employer. In order for pay differentials to persist in entire industries, every employer in the market must be willing to discriminate — including the firms run by women!"

~John Goodman

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Bill Clinton on Obama: 'A Few Years Ago, This Guy Would Have Been Carrying Our Bags' | The Weekly Standard

Found this interesting link on the Drudge Report:

Bill Clinton on Obama: 'A Few Years Ago, This Guy Would Have Been Carrying Our Bags' | The Weekly Standard


The Official Drudge Report iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch app available in the iTunes App Store:

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Sunday, September 2, 2012



Look who parks their cash at Bain - m.NYPOST.com

Look who parks their cash at Bain

Last Updated: 3:45 AM, September 1, 2012

Democrats convened in Charlotte, NC, will double down on their claim that Bain Capital is really the Bain crime family. They will accuse Republican nominee Mitt Romney and Bain's other "greedy" co-founders of stealing their winnings, evading taxes and lighting cigars with $100 bills on their yachts.

But Bain's private-equity executives have enriched dozens of organizations and millions of individuals in the Democratic base — including some who scream most loudly for President Obama's re-election.

Government-worker pension funds are the chief beneficiaries of Bain's economic stewardship. New York-based Preqin uses public documents, news accounts and Freedom of Information requests to track private-equity holdings. Since 2000, Preqin reports, the following funds have entrusted some $1.56 billion to Bain:

* Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund ($2.2 million)

* Indiana Public Retirement System ($39.3 million)

* Iowa Public Employees' Retirement System ($177.1 million)

* The Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension System ($19.5 million)

* Maryland State Retirement and Pension System ($117.5 million)

* Public Employees' Retirement System of Nevada ($20.3 million)

* State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio ($767.3 million)

* Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement System ($231.5 million)

* Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island ($25 million)

* San Diego County Employees Retirement Association ($23.5 million)

* Teacher Retirement System of Texas ($122.5 million)

* Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System ($15 million)

These funds aggregate the savings of millions of unionized teachers, social workers, public-health personnel and first responders. Many would be startled to learn that their nest eggs are incubated by the company that Romney launched and the financiers he hired.

Leading universities have also profited from Bain's expertise. According to Infrastructure Investor, Bain Capital Ventures Fund I (launched in 2001) managed wealth for "endowments and foundations such as Columbia, Princeton and Yale universities."

According to BuyOuts magazine and S&P Capital IQ, Bain's other college clients have included Cornell, Emory, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Notre Dame and the University of Pittsburgh. Preqin reports that the following schools have placed at least $424.6 million with Bain Capital between 1998 and 2008:

* Purdue University ($15.9 million)

* University of California ($225.7 million)

* University of Michigan ($130 million)

* University of Virginia ($20 million)

* University of Washington ($33 million)

Major, center-left foundations and cultural establishments also have seen their prospects brighten, thanks to Bain Capital. According to the aforementioned sources, such Bain clients have included the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Doris Duke Foundation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Ford Foundation, the Heinz Endowments and the Oprah Winfrey Foundation.

Why on Earth would government-union leaders, university presidents and foundation chiefs let Bain oversee their precious assets?

"The scrutiny generated by a heated election year matters less than the performance the portfolio generates to the fund," California State Teachers' Retirement System spokesman Ricardo Duran said in the Aug. 12 Boston Globe. CalSTRS has pumped some $1.25 billion into Bain.

Since 1988, Duran says, private-equity companies like Bain have outperformed every other asset class to which CalSTRS has allocated the cash of its 856,360 largely unionized members.

Is Bain really a gang of corporate buccaneers who plunder their ill-gotten gains by outsourcing, euthanizing feeble portfolio companies and giving cancer to the spouses of those whom they fired? If so, union bosses, government retirees, liberal foundations and elite universities thrive on the wages of Bain's economic Darwinism.

If, however, these institutions relish the yields that Bain Capital generates by supporting start-ups and rescuing distressed companies, 80 percent of which have prospered, then this money is honest — and Team Obama isn't.

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