Saturday, April 30, 2011

More fun debt facts - Mark Steyn notes that due to quantitative easing, the Fed purchased 70% of all U.S. debt last month: "In other words, under the 2011 budget, every hour of every day, the federal government spends $188 million it doesn’t have, $130 million of which is “borrowed” from itself."
Now that's what I call bandwidth - This is kind of a big deal. Popular Science: "Record-breaking fiber optic cables transmit 100 terabits per second." That's equivalent to transmitting three months of HD video in one second.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Yeah, all eight of us are pretty upset - Hot Air: "MA Republicans not so wild about Romneycare."
Deep in the Fourteen Amendment

Here's an interesting take from the Atlantic: "The speech Obama could give: 'The Constitution forbids default.'" Apparently there's a section in the 14th amendment that states: "...the validity of the public debt...shall not be questioned."

Oh, I don't question the debt's validity. Just like Standard & Poors, I question our capability of paying it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The expanding chorus - CNBC: "U.S. banks warn Obama on soaring debt."
Nature abhors a vacuum

President Obama was in full pique today as he denounced the media and those crazy birthers (e.g. Donald Trump) for the whole birth certificate thing. As former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin notes today, if MSNBC was keeping this story alive, it was because the President was doing nothing whatsoever to address the issues that Americans really care about:
The president’s first budget led to a debt spiral, but he excused it because of the financial and economic crisis. The president’s second budget led to a debt spiral, but he excused it because the Bowles-Simpson commission was going to fix it. The president’s third budget led to a debt spiral, but he whined that he had to do that because Republicans might criticize a real budget.

The comparison to the House budget was so shaming he was compelled to give a speech on a new "plan" to end the greatest threat facing this nation. But there was no plan. Just another speech. And today, more whining.
Today Obama said the birth certificate thing was a distraction from the real problems that the nation needs to address...except he won't. Now let's go visit Oprah.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Call collect, E.T. - Oh, boo-hoo, the government is cutting off funding for SETI, the large radio dish array (have you seen "Contact"?) that listens for weird stuff in the universe.

In this age of trillion-dollar deficits, the government should cast a gimlet eye on federally-funded programs that fail to do the very thing they were created to do.
How I learned to stop worrying and love the deficit

Michael Kinsley asks an important question at the conclusion of his article in the LA Times:
The question remains: If the deficit doesn't matter, why have any taxes at all? And if there is some point at which the deficit does start to matter, and become dangerous, when is that point if $1.6 trillion isn't it?
We're now borrowing somewhere between 40 and 42 cents of every dollar the government is spending. Since certain dwarfish Princeton economists insist that this unprecedented level of borrowing is inconsequential, why not make it 100%? Just fire up the $100 printing presses and be done with the whole thing.

Wow, I feel so much better now. Yee-haw!
Oh yeah, that other stuff

Here's Mickey Kaus:
When did everyone decide that it’s high gas prices that are hurting Obama? Seems crazy to me. He’s losing two out of three wars, the economy is flagging, and his signature domestic achievement is unpopular. So it must be the gas!
Don't forget President "Present"'s general lack of leadership on anything of consequence. Darn those oil companies!

Extra - If it's Tuesday, it must be time for Oprah and fundraisers. Golf can wait.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Candy for everyone! - Real Clear Politics: "Politicians, not public, to blame for debt crisis."

No worries, we'll just keep on borrowing $188 million an hour from China, right? Awww...snap!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Devalued - Mark Steyn notes in "The Disappearing Dollar" that many of the measures of prosperity - the U.S. credit rating, the dollar, housing, education - ain't what they used to be.

And then there's this from the WSJ: "Dollar's decline speeds up, with risks for U.S."

Friday, April 22, 2011

Obama disassociates himself from the high gas prices his policies invited

Recently the President breezily dismissed his slumping poll numbers as a product of high gas prices. Like everything else in Obama's world, if it's bad it has nothing to do with him.

As gas prices soar above $4/gallon, let's reflect:

Incoherent energy policy? Check.
Domestic oil production scheduled to start declining next year? Check.
Starting a senseless war with a Middle East oil state? Check.
Royally ticking off the Saudis? Check.
Energy secretary who once said "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." Check.
Insensitive "Let them drive Volts" moment to father with SUV. Check.
Yet another useless commission to take the place of real leadership. Check.

Now let's burn off a couple hundred tons of Air Force One jet fuel. Obama's gotta fly back from California to celebrate Earth Day.

Extra - Volokh: "Don't blame the speculators."

More - Instapundit finds that some tourist destinations fear Americans taking a "staycation" due to gas prices.

Even more - From Doug Ross.
Poor fish! - The masthead on Google today gave me a chuckle.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A third more in taxes - Megan McArdle explains that without restraint in spending, taxes for everyone will have to go way, way up: "These are huge changes in the overall tax burden, and they will have big effects on people's lives and the economy."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey

Can somebody tell me if I'm crazy? This Lowe's commercial bugs the heck out of me. The woman slides under the sink and the rear of the wrench moves to the right as she says "righty tighty!" But if the back of the wrench is moving to the right, the head of the wrench is moving counter-clockwise or to the left.

Help me out here. I can't be the only one who has noticed this. And before I get the "perspective" thing, take note that it's a pipe hanging down from a sink - it should tighten just one way, unless it has some weird reverse thread.
Obama lies - That's what Factcheck said about the President's attack on Paul Ryan's plan.
Shared responsibility - Echoing a post I had below, David Harsanyi writes over at Real Clear Politics: "If Washington is so great, let's all pay for it."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Default by another name - Megan McArdle: "Inflation won't cure our debt woes."
Debt bomb - Kevin Williamson makes two salient points in this post "Enron writ large": one is that the S&P downgrade is (like Enron) a lagging indicator of what everybody already knows and the other is that if rates return to historic levels, interest payments on the national debt could quickly eclipse the big-ticket items in the federal budget.
Daisy, daisy - Big Government "The tax and spend machine": "Like HAL in the scene from "2001: A Space Odyssey" perhaps the machine cannot be turned off."
Three cups of doom! - If anybody saw "60 Minutes" this past Sunday, you'll know that "Three Cups of Tea" author Greg Mortenson is a big liar. But he had a very good explanation for begging off (the famous) Steve Kroft's request for an interview: he thought he was a suicide bomber.

Makes sense. NPR also had a story this afternoon: "'Tea' debacle reflects the murky waters of memoirs."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fourteen trillion - fifteen trillion = negative fun! - Zero Hedge: "Total US debt now officially above the ceiling." Fire up the printing presses.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The rise of the concierge doctors

Concierge medicine is expanding as more doctors - and patients - tire of assembly-line primary care, opting for something more personal, and pricey.
The numbers are still very small - a survey commissioned by a congressional agency last year identified 756 concierge medical doctors in the United States, up from 146 in 2005. And Florida-based MDVIP, a company that helps physicians set up these practices, said it will add six new MDVIP doctors in the Boston area this year, increasing its physicians statewide to 16.
But even a tiny number of doctors leaving traditional offices for boutique practices - out of thousands of primary care physicians - is enough to make some health care industry leaders nervous. They worry that more doctors will follow as insurers and government payers cut fees and hem in providers with regulations. And when even one doctor makes the switch, there are substantial side effects, leaving hundreds of patients to scramble for a new physician.
In an informal survey, half the primary care doctors at one Massachusetts hospital indicated they had considered the switch to concierge medicine. Take a wild guess why:

The pressures on doctors have only intensified. The state’s mandatory health insurance law means even more people with coverage are seeking doctors. Insurers are squeezing payments to doctors, and regulators and insurers are pressing providers to make care less expensive.
“It’s hitting home here at Newton-Wellesley,’’ said Dr. Leslie Selbovitz, chief medical officer. “As health care reform matures, doctors are questioning whether they want to be part of the new world order.’’
The unmistakable trajectory of Obamacare is towards a two-tier healthcare system. Good intentions.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

It's for the kids - Mark Steyn "Losing the Future": "How do you 'invest in the future'? By borrowing $188 million every hour."

You're welcome, Junior.
It's OK because it's Obama - The President reverses himself on signing statements so he can keep his "czars" so they can do the work he's supposed to be doing.

Now fire up Air Force One. Bammy's gotta jet to Chicago to complain about the lame-o phones in the Oval Office. Hope and change!

More - From Althouse and Hot Air.

Update - From the Vokokh Conspiracy: "The Obama Administration...seems to be brazenly violating the Constitution."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Regrets, he's had a few - ABC News: "Harry Reid 'embarrassed' about 2006 opposition to raising debt limit."

Here's a question for you: "Why is it right to increase our nation's dependence on foreign creditors?" Why indeed, Harry. Or Barry.

Extra - From Patterico.
We all need to pay for the government - Derek Thompson writes "We need higher taxes, and not just for the rich": "President Obama is going to have to break his campaign promise and raise taxes on Americans making under $250,000. There's really no way around it."

While I agree with the statement that Washington has a spending problem and not a tax problem, that doesn't change the fact that we need to cut spending and raise taxes. And it's not just a matter of revenue (which is considerably higher if all tax rates are increased); it's a matter of equality. If everybody has "skin in the game" it might force Americans to re-focus on how much government they want and whether they're getting a bargain for the money.

Howard Dean was on NPR yesterday and although the ex-DNC chair is a highly partisan player, even he acknowledged that: "...the middle class tax cuts that President Obama is defending that George Bush put in are not compatible with the balanced budget. ... Everybody has to pay more taxes."

We're living in a fantasy world where Americans are paying only 60 cents for every dollar of government received. It's time to bring the cost/benefit ratio back in line.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shorter Obama: "I'm utterly unserious about debt, but I'd like to be re-elected"

The President's speech today reminded me of what Gertrude Stein said about Oakland: "There's no there there." It would be wrong to cut anything of significance, we'll have somebody look into defense spending, and if we're still short, we'll have yet another deficit commission. Are you kidding? Atlantic contributor Clive Crook is spot on: "Obama's speech was a waste of breath"
Obama had a difficult assignment in this speech, partly because of the exaggerated hopes for it (see previous post). Even allowing for that, it was weak both politically and substantively. My instant unguarded reaction, in fact, was to find it not just weak but pitiful. I honestly wondered why he bothered.
There was no sign of anything worth calling a plan to curb borrowing faster than in the budget. He offered no more than a list of headings under which $4 trillion of deficit reduction (including the $2 trillion already in his budget) might be found--domestic non-security spending, defense, health costs, and tax reform. Fine, sure. But what he said was devoid of detail. He spent more of his time stressing what he would not agree to than describing clear proposals of his own.
There was specificity on one aspect of deficit reduction: getting somebody else to pay.
He is still proposing an increase, not a decrease, in marginal rates on high incomes combined with restricted tax expenditures for those at the top of the income distribution--that is to say, two rounds of increases in high-income tax rates. The rich can pay for it all. That is Obama's tax policy. The whole point and key virtue of the Bowles-Simpson approach to taxes is that it held out the prospect of a deal between Democrats and Republicans: lower marginal rates in return for higher revenues. Obama appears to rule this out on principle.
The speech was more notable for its militant--though ineffectual--hostility to Republican proposals than for any fresh thinking of its own. It was a waste of breath.
As readers of this blog might know, I was interested to hear Obama's solution to the Social Security's pending insolvency. What we got was an amorphous platitude that could have been uttered by Obama anytime since 2005:
While Social Security is not the cause of our deficit, it faces real long-term challenges in a country that is growing older. As I said in the State of the Union, both parties should work together now to strengthen Social Security for future generations. But we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.
That's leadership: we should work together, but I won't propose the slimmest of solutions and, by the way, those other guys want to kick Grandma into the street. This was a campaign speech, nothing more, and much less.

Extra - Kaus Files: "Social Security fixes are still in a mystery box."

More - Power Line: "A sorry, cowardly performance."

Even more - The Pentagon says: "What's all this about cuts?"

Plus - Victor Davis Hanson: "Obama vs. Obama."

And this - CBS News reminds us that the national debt is on pace to nearly double to $26.3 trillion by 2021. But Obama's going to cut $4 trillion over 12 years, so we got that goin' for us.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

On this 150th anniversary on the start of the American Civil War - William Tecumseh Sherman called it.

By the way, the single best Civil War history book I've ever read is James McPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom."
Fair's fair - Roger Kimball predicts that Obama will play the "fairness" card in his speech tomorrow on the federal budget. Because if somebody earns more money than you, well, that's just not fair. (H/T Instapundit.)
The 2011 budget is just a sideshow now

Over at Contentions, John Podhoretz writes that the recent budget battle to cut the advertised $38.5 billion from the remainder of the 2011 federal budget will only cut around $15 billion, due to a series of accounting tricks. Furthermore, he warns "The budget deal may collapse" as Tea Party-backed freshmen find they've been duped.

If the deal falls apart, the House Republicans should just pass a series of (rider-free) continuous resolutions until October, slicing off a billion each week. The House is only one-third of the budget battle; throw a government shutdown into the hands of Harry Reid and Barack Obama.

But given that we're bleeding money anyway, I would prefer if Washington would just pass the budget and move onto the main event: Paul Ryan's 2012 blueprint. That's the crossroads with one path towards fiscal sanity and the other towards decline.

Monday, April 11, 2011

"We in America have created a suicidal government" - Robert Samuelson: "Big Government on the Brink."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Tempted" by Squeeze

Here's an interesting piece of music trivia: although some would argue that this is Squeeze's best-known song, it didn't crack the top 40 in any country. (In America, Squeeze's highest charting song was the inoffensive pop ditty "Hourglass.") As a lad, I saw Squeeze in 1985 for their Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti tour.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Perspective - Via Political Wire, the federal debt increased $54 billion in the eight days Congress hammered out a deal to cut $38.5 billion from the remainder of the 2011 budget.
Debt problem? What debt problem? - Mark Steyn: "The Democrats' solution to a problem is to deny there is one."

And then there's this from Doug Ross: "Good news: Dallas Fed chief says U.S. in budgetary death spiral." Essentially he says that the urge to get our of our debt problem is to monetize the debt (i.e. print money) and this would be "a direct path to economic perdition." So we got that goin' for us.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Younger workers flee high taxation in debt-ridden country - CNBC: "Spain's biggest export: young people." That could never happen here, eh?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

What just happened in Wisconsin? - This is what happens when I watch reruns of "Community." Fox News: "Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice take big lead after county corrects vote count."

Extra - Althouse called it.

More - Mary Katherine Ham: "Small state-wide election with vital national implications soon to have no national implications whatsoever."

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Takin' the motorcade to Air Force One - Zero Hedge: "Obama's advice to those complaining about surging gas prices: Suck it in and cope."
Abridged CBO Director's blog on Ryan's budget - "It's an unsavory sandwich, but we're all gonna have to take a bite." One key deficit-cutting provision is halving government spending on health care from 12% of GDP now to 6% of GDP.

Related - WSJ: "Medicare for a New Century."

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Swooning for Paul Ryan - Taking a cue from Power Line, the NY Times' David Brooks writes an absolute love letter for Ryan's "serious" budget proposal.

Here's some comedy gold: "Will [Obama] come up with his own counterproposal, or will he simply demagogue the issue by railing against "savage" Republican cuts and ignoring the long-term fiscal realities?" Take a wild guess.

Extra - Betsy's Page: "Time for the adults to take over."
It's a Nobel Peace Prize cage match! - Not content to be second place to Barack "Cruise Missiles Away" Obama, Legal Insurrection reports that Mohamed ElBaradei is threatening war against "the Zionist regime" if Israel attacks Hamas.

Monday, April 04, 2011

That is one scary-ass graph

Paul Ryan lays out his "Path to Prosperity" with a graph that details "A choice of two futures." The status quo looks like a ski jump that ends somewhere around a debt level of 800% GDP, likely due to compounding interest.

Meanwhile, Democrat Chris Van Hollen tries his hand at stand-up comedy in this Hill article: "Dems 'likely' to offer budget alternative to Rep. Ryan's plan." Ha-ha, good one, Chris! Hey, do you know when would have been a good time to offer a budget plan? When you controlled the House of Representatives.

Can't wait to see the plan, Chris. Leadership!
My favorite so far: "More debt? You bet!" - Twitter feed: Obama 2012 campaign slogans. By the way, if I had a Twitter account I would suggest: "Welcome back, Carter."

Albatross - Megan McArdle: "Health care law still really unpopular."
Stupid college kids line up to embrace their destroyer

Heaven help me, I can't understand why these young whipper-snappers today give Obama the rockstar treatment every time he sets up his teleprompter in the student union. Take a look at his speech from the last time he announced his candidacy to understand how cynically he's broken every promise he ever made. If younger voters had inkling of an idea of what kind of future they're facing under this President's policies, they would boo Obama like Charlie Sheen in Detroit:
The national deficit is careening upward of $1.6 trillion this year, with a projected debt of $24 trillion by 2021. Those young people applauding Mr. Obama so heartily are the very ones with bull's-eyes on their backs for ruinous tax increases in their prime earning years. They also are going to find out that Social Security has been a huge Ponzi scheme, with them as the "marks."
Four more years! (That's the gap between graduating and finding a job for these kids.)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Individual mandate debate - The Boston Globe has the opposing viewpoints on the Constitutionality of Obamacare's insurance mandate with Harvard's Laurence Tribe defending the law while Georgetown's Randy Barnett taking the opposing viewpoint.
The $4 trillion man - The Wall Street Journal profiles House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and his efforts to bring the federal budget somewhere in the same zip code as revenues. That includes Medicare which, as Ryan notes, cannot stay on its current path without bankrupting the nation.

Extra - Doug Ross on the Democrats' response to Ryan's proposal.

Friday, April 01, 2011

The professor and his shadow

Found this on a site about great pranks: