RTCS

Views on the News

September 11, 2010

Views on the News*

We as a people have always believed that America has a special and unique role to play in the world, but Barack Obama may be the first American President to lack faith in our special history, our special spirit and our special mission in the world. This is a land of new beginnings and new promise, not merely one nation among others, but our President does not believe. America's uniqueness stems from its spirit developed on the Western frontier. And after World War II and during the Cold War era, America served as the symbol of and protector of freedom and democracy for the whole world. We are now lead by an administration that has consistently denied our special gifts and our special responsibilities and takes a cramped view of our own country, its history, and its possibilities. Critics of the administration are extremely concerned about the implications of our debt and budget crises for our future, but are still confident in America and Americans. Political opponents are concerned that if we are not lead by leaders who believe in our unique American spirit and mission, then we will not be able to remain an exceptional nation for long. In this new era, the idea of American exceptionalism needs to be reinterpreted in order for the United States to remain a truly unique nation. To recover our greatness we need a leader who, like President Ronald Reagan, can help understand ourselves, our strengths, and our example and provide that leadership for the world again.

(“American Exceptionalism – And an ‘Exceptional’ President” by Mallory Factor dated August 31, 2010 published by Forbes Magazine at http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/31/barack-obama-exceptionalism-america-opinions-columnists-mallory-factor.html )

 

A majority of unionized workers across America are now government employees and Congress is threatening to grant monopoly bargaining privileges to state and local public sector unions who then become a potent political force for the Democrat party. State and local government employment are already five times more heavily unionized (37.2%) than the private sector (7.2%). The biggest problem for unions has been their own leadership, which has grown more out of touch with the people those unions hope to represent. Big Labor featherbedding and counterproductive work rules have sharply increased taxpayer costs for compensation of state and local government employees. According to the Commerce Department, taxpayers' aggregate real costs for compensation of state and local government employees soared by almost 30% between 1998 and 2008 - an increase more than 50% greater than the total growth of private-sector employee compensation. The outsized power and privileges of government union bosses clearly are a major force behind the unsustainable growth of government payrolls. Nonunion government employment nationwide actually fell by 2%, but Big Labor controlled government employment grew by nearly 4% from 2007 to 2009. Now Congress appears eager to make matters even worse by rubber-stamping legislation that would federally grant public-safety union officials monopoly bargaining privileges over state and local public employees nationwide. This legislation also would create monopoly bargaining standard for all public workers. Unions now spend a growing share of their members' dues trying to convince them that the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama represent their values and aspirations. The AFL-CIO said that it will spend $100 million to try to keep the Democrats in office. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will spend another $50 million trying to protect Democrat incumbents; and the Service Employees International Union will spend nearly $45 million. Federalizing "exclusive" union bargaining over public safety employees would be ill advised under any circumstances, but at a time when taxes already are poised to skyrocket and cities and towns across America already are trying to deal with the worst fiscal crisis in decades, Congress would have to be incredibly reckless to enact this bill and further empower this potent political force.

(“Public unions seek national monopoly” by Mark Mix dated September 3, 2010 published by The Washington Times at https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/sep/3/public-unions-seek-national-monopoly/print/

“How unions lost touch with workers” by Linda Chavez dated September 4, 2010 published by New York Post at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/2010/09/04/how_unions_lost_touch_with_workers_241065.html )

 

The Department of Treasury plans a joint hearing on what is euphemistically called “lifetime income options for retirement plans” with an unstated agenda for the US government to eventually nationalize (confiscate) all assets in private Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and 401K plans! Treasury and Labor appear to be pursuing an investment theory that because government bonds carry a sovereign guarantee against default, any IRA or 401(k) funds placed in a Treasury R-Bond would constitute, in effect, a government annuity that would pay the retiree a lifetime income, regardless how stock and bond markets might independently perform. The US government is desperate to get its hands on private assets to help cover soaring budget deficits and debts, and this is simply the largest and easiest piggy bank that could be seized.  Obviously, an outright seizure of assets would meet stiff resistance from the public. This confiscation will never be described as such by government officials.  Expect to see terms such as “retirement income protection” thrown around.  It is highly likely that such a program would be implemented in steps to help overcome public opposition. The US government plan is to eventually take ownership of all assets in IRAs and 401K accounts and replace them with US government “Treasury Retirement Bonds.”  In the October 2008 hearings, it was proposed that these bonds pay a 3% interest rate.  Another major change is that, upon retirement, the individual’s retirement account would be converted into an annuity. Once the individual is deceased, the individual’s heirs would not inherit anything (similar to what happens now with Social Security “accounts”). Among the steps that could be taken to accomplish total confiscation are to first make the conversion voluntary, then make it mandatory for only a portion of total assets.  The final step would be making it 100% mandatory for 100% of all assets.  Any legislation is likely to take time before it becomes law.  Even contemplating confiscation of private retirement assets is a sign of extreme desperation by the US government. 

(“Feds eyeing private money to finance deficit?” by Jerome R. Corsi dated August 31, 2010 published by World Net Daily at http://www.wnd.com/index.php?pageId=197889

US Departments of Labor and Treasury Schedule Hearing on Confiscation of Private Retirement Accounts” by Patrick A, Heller dated September 1, 2010 published by http://news.coinupdate.com/us-departments-of-labor-and-treasury-schedule-hearing-on-confiscation-of-private-retirement-accounts-0431/ )

 

The U.S. economy is growing and GDP is rising, inching up might be a better description, pales into insignificance compared to the fact that the job market remains in the doldrums. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) officially scored the recession as starting in December, 2007 and in April issued a statement saying it could not yet determine an end to the recession, and still hasn’t officially declared it over. What we do know is that in August, 2010, 32 months after the recession started, double the previous longest recession in the 65 year postwar era, the economy was still losing jobs, and unemployment was still rising. The GDP for the second quarter was revised downward, from 2.4% to 1.6%. Economists generally agree that the economy needs to grow 2.5% to keep unemployment from going up, and a good deal better than that to begin to bring it substantially down. The official unemployment rate in August was 9.6%, up slightly from the previous month. The so-called underemployment rate, which includes workers who are working part-time but who want full-time work, increased from 16.5% to 16.7%. During our supposed “Recovery Summer,” we have lost 283,000 jobs (54,000 in June, 171,000 in July, and 54,000 in August). The little-known civilian employment-population ratio, presents what is a more revealing and troublesome picture, was 58.5%. In contrast to the better-known unemployment rate, which measures the percentage of adult Americans who are actively seeking jobs but do not have one, the civilian employment-population ratio could be called the employment rate, measuring the percentage of adult Americans who have a job. These numbers are approaching the dismal employment rates of the early 1980s, when the rate bottomed out at 57.1%. A Pew Research Center Surveys found that one out of every four employed workers, some 35 million in all, had at one point in the recession been out of work. Many are now in jobs they find less satisfying and/or lower paying. When you add them and workers too discouraged to keep looking for jobs to the reserve army of the unemployed, and you have a large number of very unhappy campers.  The most recent GDP figures also have harmful fiscal ramifications. Estimates for the deficit this year (more than $1.3 trillion) are based on the Congressional Budget Office’s and the Obama administration’s assumption of roughly 3% growth. If growth is well below that, government revenues are going to be lower than estimated. So this year’s deficit and net increase in the debt are going to be worse than even the (already quite troubling) projections. This deteriorating economy couldn't be a worse time to raise top federal tax rates across the board for every major federal tax, as will begin on January 1st under President Obama's economic policies. The economy right now is sick and, in some important respects, getting sicker, and the President continues to pursue policies that are not only not helping; they are downright counterproductive since he apparently has no clue as to how the economy works, or what policies would actually produce economic growth.

(“Defining Recovery Down” by Peter Wehner dated September 3, 2010 published by Commentary Magazine at http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/wehner/353456#more-353456

The Big Drop: Employment Rate Cause for Census” by Henry Olsen dated September 3, 2010 published by American Enterprise Institute at http://www.aei.org/article/102495

On the Economy, Obama’s Shooting from the Hip” by Irwin M. Stelzer dated September 4, 2010 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/economy-obamas-shooting-hip

Fire Obama” By Peter Ferrara dated September 8, 2010 published by The American Spectator at http://spectator.org/archives/2010/09/08/fire-obama )

 

The White House has unveiled yet another so-called stimulus scheme two months before an election as a political ploy with little chance of passing before the election and designed solely to buy votes with our money. The recession preceded President Obama's Inaugural by 13 months, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, and so did the President's fiscal policy ideas. In February 2008, President Bush and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed on a $168 billion combination of federal spending and temporary tax rebates that were supposed to maintain growth through the housing market decline that election year. Stimulus I failed. Enter Stimulus II, the $814 billion plan that was also supposed to make up for lost private demand. It too was a combination of one-time tax rebates and spending, mostly on social programs like Medicaid rather than on "shovel-ready projects." A 1.5 "multiplier" effect on GDP growth was promised, and White House economists famously predicted the spending would keep the jobless rate below 8%. Stimulus II failed also. All during this time, the Federal Reserve was also feeding the economy with unprecedented monetary stimulus, cutting its benchmark interest rate to near zero and expanding its balance sheet by more than $2 trillion by purchasing mortgage-backed securities and other assets. During this time, too, Congress passed other industry-specific stimulus bills—cash-for-clunkers, the $8,000 home-buyer's tax credit, mortgage payment relief, and jobless pay up to 99 weeks. Yet all of this has merely stolen auto and home purchases from the future, with sales falling once the tax benefits expired. President Barack Obama is using a Labor Day appearance in Milwaukee to announce he will ask Congress for $50 billion to kick off a new stimulus plan designed to expand and fix 150,000 miles of roads, lay or rebuild 4,000 miles of railroad tracks and redo 150 miles of airport runways. Federal infrastructure spending almost surely fails a cost-benefit test. Obama continues to push high-speed rail which is the most expensive, unneeded, and unaffordable, which will require a perpetual stream of substantial subsidies to offset the difference between fare revenues and operating costs. The measures include the establishment of an Infrastructure Bank to leverage federal dollars and focus on investments of national and regional significance. This would essentially establish a Fannie Mae for road building. President Obama will call for a $100 billion business tax credit this week to increase and permanently extend research and development tax credits for businesses, rewarding companies that develop new technologies domestically and preserve American jobs. A permanent research and development tax credit is not ideal tax policy, but at least the provision is tied to doing something productive, as opposed to tax breaks and rebates that don’t boost work, saving, and investment. A temporary proposal to allow companies to write off 100% of all new plant and equipment purchases this year and next year is included. Expensing investments was tried successfully in 1981 as a temporary credit, and was extended a dozen times. These are the kind of tax cuts, worth up to $200 billion, that Obama has been criticizing as part of the "failed policies of the past," but has in the end been forced to offer as an eleventh-hour attempt to regain support in the economic debate that he has been losing to the GOP. In sum, never before has government spent so much and intervened so directly in credit allocation to spur growth, yet the results have been mediocre at best. In return for adding nearly $3 trillion in federal debt in two years, we still have 14.9 million unemployed. Democrats purposely used the recession as a political opening to redistribute income, reverse the free-market reforms of the Reagan era, and put government at the commanding heights of economic decision-making. Obama and the Democratic Congress have succeeded in doing all of this despite the growing opposition of the American people, who are now enduring the results. The only path back to robust growth and prosperity is to stop this spend and tax agenda dead in its tracks in November, and then by stages to reverse it.

(“Obama’s New Stimulus Schemes: Same Song, Umpteenth Verse” by Daniel J. Mitchell dated September 6, 2010 published by CATO Institute at http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/obamas-new-stimulus-schemes-same-song-umpteenth-verse/

The Obama Economy” dated September 7, 2010 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703444804575071281687927918.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

“Obama’s Stimulus Nod to Reps Too Little, Too Late” by Donald Lambro dated September 7, 2010 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/DonaldLambro/2010/09/07/obamas_stimulus_nod_to_reps_too_little,_too_late

Obama’s High-Speed Disaster” by Tait Trussel dated September 9, 2010 published by Front Page Magazine at http://frontpagemag.com/2010/09/09/obamas-high-speed-disaster/ )

 

In today’s political environment, being called the “party of no” is a badge of honor connoting a principled opposition to the socialist takeover of our economy and the fascist takeover of our government. "The party of no" is effective when conservatives answer the criticism with, "We are not the party of no, we are the party of hell no." The 'party of no' is meant, and should be clearly understood, as the party of "no you will not."  Conservatives are standing strong for something simply by using the word 'no'.

·    No you will not transform our great nation into a lesser one.

·    No you will not view our Constitution as amendable at will by a hand-picked judiciary without our consent.

·    No you will not engage in a foreign policy that apologizes for our actions or undermines our allies.

·    No you will not play politics with our security to attempt to appeal to groups that will be beneficial to your electoral desires.

·    No you will not cripple our industries with federal regulations designed to promote the wishful desires of the left.

·    No you will not nationalize health care or manufacturing.

·    No you will not mortgage our children's and grandchildren's futures for any reason, let alone paying off your supporters.

·    No you will not use the Department of Justice as a political weapon.

·    No you will not place limits on media that serve only to silence criticism against you.

There is nothing more powerful that the ability to say no, without fear of consequence.  In America, at this moment, the flipside to that is also true: the consequences of not saying 'no' are severe.  The left views the underpinnings of the Constitution as a broad outline that allows for updating to meet its demands. No" stands for something; it stands for the intentions of the founders and the rock of the republic.  "No" stands for America; it stands for her ideals, her world leadership, her strength and her light.  On November 2nd voters will be asked whether they want to continue the current goal of "transformation;" when handed a ballot and I would hope they would say to themselves, the answer is NO!

(“The Answer Is, ‘No’” by John Fricke dated September 7, 2010 published by American thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/09/the_answer_is_no_1.html )

 

* There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news. I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning. Updates have been made this week to the following issue sections:

·  Economy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/economy.php

·  Education at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/education.php

·  Immigration at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/immigration.php

·  Terrorism at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/terrorism.php

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

www.ReturnToCommonSensesite.com