November 12, 2013 IPCC 's Bogus Evidence for Global Warming By S. Fred Singer
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up by the United Nations in 1988 and has been trying very hard to demonstrate the threat of a dangerous human influence on climate due to the emission of greenhouse gases. This is in line with their Charter, which directs the IPCC to assemble reports in support of the Global Climate Treaty -- the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) of Rio de Janeiro.
It is interesting that IPCC "evidence" was based on peer-reviewed publications - but (reluctantly) abandoned only after protracted critiques from outside scientists. E-mails among members of the IPCC team, revealed in the 2009 'Climategate' leak, describe their strenuous efforts to silence such critiques, often using unethical methods.
I will show here that the first three IPCC assessment reports contain erroneous scientific arguments, which have never been retracted or formally corrected, but at least have now been abandoned by the IPCC -- while the last two reports, AR4 and AR5, use an argument that seems to be circular and does not support their conclusion. Australian Prof. "Bob" Carter, marine geologist and paleo-climatologist, refers to IPCC as using "hocus-pocus" science. He is a co-author of the latest (2013) NIPCC (Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change) report "Climate Change Reconsidered-II" www.climatechangereconsidered.org . We also co-authored a critique of the 2013 IPCC-AR5 Summary <http://heartland.org/sites/default/files/critique_of_ipcc_spm.pdf>
1. IPCC-AR1 (1990)
This first report of the IPCC bases its entire claim for AGW on the fact that both CO2 and surface temperatures increased during the 20th century -- although not in lock-step. They assign the major warming of 1910 to 1940 to a human influence -- based on a peer-reviewed paper by BD Santer and TML Wigley, which uses a very strange statistical argument. But the basis of their statistics has been critiqued (by Tsonis and Swanson) -- and I have demonstrated empirically elsewhere that their conclusion does not hold.
While this faulty paper has never been retracted, it is now no longer quoted as evidence by the IPCC -- nor accepted by the overwhelming majority of IPCC scientists: Most if not all warming of the early 20th century is due to natural, not human causes.
2. IPCC AR2 (1996)
This report devotes a whole chapter, #8, to "Attribution and Detection." Its main feature is what one might call the "invention" of the "Hotspot," i.e. an enhanced warming trend in the tropical troposphere -- never actually observed.
Unfortunately, the "evidence," as presented by BD Santer, was published only after the IPCC report itself appeared; it contains two fundamental errors. The first error was to argue that the Hotspot is a "fingerprint" of human influence -- and specifically, related to an increase in greenhouse gases. This is not true. The Hotspot, according to all model calculations, is simply an atmospheric amplification of a surface trend, a consequence of the physics of the tropical atmosphere.
[Technically speaking, it is caused by increased convective activity whereby cumulus clouds carry latent heat from the surface of the tropical ocean into the upper troposphere. In other words, the Hotspot is not human-caused, but arises from a "moist-adiabatic lapse rate" of the atmosphere. This effect is discussed in most meteorological textbooks and is widely accepted.]
How then did AR2 conclude that a Hotspot exists observationally? This is the second issue: The IPCC selected a short interval in the atmospheric temperature record that showed an increase -- while the general trend was one of cooling. In other words, they cherry-picked their data to invent a Hotspot -- as pointed out in a subsequent publication by PJ Michaels and PC Knappenberger [see graph below]
The matter of the existence of a Hotspot in the actual tropical troposphere has been the topic of lively debate ever since. On the one hand, DH Douglass, JR Christy, BD Pearson and SF Singer, demonstrated absence of a Hotspot empirically while Santer (and 17[!] IPCC coauthors), publishing in the same journal, argued the opposite. This issue now seems to have been finally settled, as discussed by Singer in two papers in Energy & Environment [2011 and 2013].
It is worth noting that a US government report [CCSP-SAP-1.1 (2006)] showed absence of a Hotspot in the tropics (Chapter 5, BD Santer, lead author). But the report's Executive Summary managed to obfuscate this result by referring to global atmosphere rather than tropical.
It is also worth noting that while the IPCC-AR2 used the Hotspot invention to argue that the "balance of evidence suggest a human influence," later IPCC reports no longer use the Hotspot argument.
Nevertheless, one consequence of this unfortunate phrase in AR2 has been the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty to limit emissions of greenhouse gases. Even though Kyoto expired in 2012, it has managed to waste hundreds of billions of dollars so far -- and continues to distort energy policies with uneconomic schemes in most industrialized nations.
3. IPCC AR3 (2001)
AR3 attributes global warming to human influences based on the "Hockey-Stick" graph, using published papers by Michael Mann, derived from his analysis of multi-proxy data. The hockeystick graph [bottom graph below] claims that the 20th century showed unusually rapid warming -- and thus suggests a strong human influence. The graph also does away with the well-established Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age, which were shown in earlier IPCC reports [see top graph below].
It was soon found that the Hockeystick graph was in error and did not deserve continued reliance. Canadian statisticians Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick demonstrated errors in Mann's statistical analysis and in the use of certain tree-ring data for calibration. In fact, they showed that Mann's algorithm would generate a Hockeystick graph -- even if the input data was pure noise. [I served as a reviewer for M&M's initial paper in Energy & Environment 2003.]
It is worth noting that the IPCC no longer uses the Hockeystick to support human-caused warming, even though AR3 still claims to be at least 66% certain that greenhouse-gas emissions are responsible for 20th century warming.
4. IPCC-AR4 (2007) and AR5 (2013)
Both reports use essentially the same faulty argument in their attempt to support their conclusion of human-caused global warming. Their first step is to construct a model that tries to match the reported 20th-century surface warming. This is not very difficult; it is essentially a 'curve-fitting' exercise: By selecting the right level of climate sensitivity and the right amount of aerosol forcing, they can match the reported temperature rise of the final decades of the 20th century, but not the initial decades -- as becomes evident from a detailed graph in their Attribution chapter. This lack of agreement is due to the fact that their models ignore major forcings -- both from variations of solar activity and from changes in ocean circulation.
They then use the following trick. They re-plot their model graph, but without an increase in greenhouse gases; this absence of forcing now generates a gap between the reported warming and unforced model. Then they turn around and argue that this gap must be due to an increase in greenhouse gases. It appears to me that this argument may be circular. Even if the reported late-20th-century surface warming really exists (it is absent from the satellite and radiosonde records), the IPCC argument is not convincing.
It is ironic, however, that IPCC claims increasing certainty (at 90% in AR4 and at least 95% in AR5) for an attribution to human causes, which appears to be contrived. Additionally, while AR4 calculates a Climate Sensitivity (for a doubling of CO2) of 2.0 - 4.5 degC, AR5 expands the uncertainty interval to 1.5 - 4.5 degC. So much for the claim of increased certainty in the IPCC-AR5 Summary.
Yet, while claiming increased certainty about manmade global warming, both reports essentially ignore the absence of any surface warming trend since about 1998. Of course, they also ignore absence of any significant warming in the troposphere, ocean record, and proxy data during the crucial preceding (1979-1997) interval.
In spite of much effort, the IPCC has never succeeded in demonstrating that climate change is significantly affected by human activities -- and in particular, by the emission of greenhouse gases. Over the last 25 years, their supporting arguments have shifted drastically -- and are shown to be worthless. It appears more than likely that climate change is controlled by variations in solar magnetic activity and by periodic changes in ocean circulation.
There is no doubt about the existence of such a solar influence on climate. As shown in the graph below, cosmic-ray intensity (as measured by the radioactive carbon isotope C-14) and terrestrial climate (as measured by the oxygen isotope O-18) correlate in amazing detail over an interval of at least 3000 years (see graph below; the bottom graph is the central section, blown up to reveal detail)
S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and director of the Science & Environmental Policy Project. His specialty is atmospheric and space physics. An expert in remote sensing and satellites, he served as the founding director of the US Weather Satellite Service and, more recently, as vice chair of the US National Advisory Committee on Oceans & Atmosphere. He is a senior fellow of the Heartland Institute and the Independent Institute. He co-authored the NY Times best-seller Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 years.
Yes, unbelievable. That is what de-funding and zero-based budgeting should be all about. Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute. If this is their work product, while competing for scarce resources, then out they go.
A Noble Lie? Why ObamaCare is worse than just a case of pathological altruism. By James Taranto November 13, 2013
This column has been following with amusement the various equivocations and rationalizations supporters of ObamaCare have offered to avoid acknowledging plainly that Barack Obama's central premise--"If you like your health-care plan, you can keep it"--was an out-and-out fraud. "Mr. Obama clearly misspoke when he said that" is how a New York Times editorial put it last week. The Times's news side seems to have settled on "incorrect promise."
But if the Times editors are in the market for talent, they ought to find out who wrote Sunday's editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This thing is a masterpiece:
First of all, this is a problem of the president's own making. He did repeatedly say that if you like your insurance plan, you can keep it. He was three words short of the truth. All he had to add was "in most cases."
It's unlikely that this extra frankness would have hurt the political effort to sell the legislation. People understand that not everybody can be left unaffected by such a sweeping change, and Mr. Obama should have been careful not to embellish the assurance.
Was it a lie? He should have known the facts. By definition, a lie is a deliberate misstating of the truth; it is not simply something that was wrongly stated with good intentions, in this case perhaps, to make the complicated simple for public consumption. Those who believe the worst of this president will conclude that he lied; those who do not will be more charitable.
This is savory for multiple reasons. For one, adding a weaselly phrase like "in most cases" does not constitute "extra frankness." Quite the opposite: It turns a shining promise into a foggy assurance with no clear meaning. Imagine if Obama tried that with his wedding vows:
Jeremiah Wright: Will you, Barack, take Michelle to be your wife, to love, honor and cherish, forsaking all others, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live?
Obama: Yeah, most likely.
The Post-Gazette's claim that "it is unlikely" such equivocation "would have hurt the political effort to sell the legislation" is supportable only if one assumes the enactment of ObamaCare was not the close-run thing it seemed at the time--in other words, that Harry Reid would have been able to command 60 votes and Nancy Pelosi 218 even without whatever political cover the fraudulent promise provided the Democratic members of their respective chambers. If that is true, however, then the entire "political effort to sell the legislation" was a sham: The fix was in, and Congress was prepared to act with complete disregard for public opinion.
Now for the best part: "By definition, a lie is a deliberate misstating of the truth; it is not simply something that was wrongly stated with good intentions, in this case perhaps, to make the complicated simple for public consumption."
This is a bit of a head-scratcher. The Wall Street Journal established a week earlier that the pledge was the result of careful deliberation between "White House policy advisers" concerned about accuracy and "political aides," who prevailed because, as the Journal paraphrased a comment from an unnamed former official, "in the midst of a hard-fought political debate 'if you like your plan, you can probably keep it' isn't a salable point."
So this was a deliberate misstating of the truth. By raising the possibility of "good intentions," the Post-Gazette editorialists seem to be suggesting that it was a sort of noble lie. "The furor of the supposed great lie is an embarrassment to Mr. Obama," they concede in conclusion, "but it obscures the larger and more important truth that the Affordable Care Act remains good policy."
That evaluation seems increasingly delusional with every passing hour, but let's stipulate for the sake of argument that ObamaCare was a well-intended policy: that Obama pushed for it out of a sincere desire to help people. That would make its failure an example of what the scholar Barbara Oakley calls pathological altruism.
That seems to us, however, to give Obama too much credit. For one thing, it takes more than altruistic motives to justify lying. Suppose one could establish that Bernie Madoff sincerely wanted to make his clients wealthier. Would that mitigate his guilt for defrauding them?
Further, good intentions are not the same as pure intentions. People often have altruistic and selfish motives for the same action. Even if we assume Obama honestly wanted to help people and made his fraudulent promise in pursuit of that goal, it would be silly to deny he also made it in pursuit of his own aggrandizement--of the approbation that comes with a "legacy" of substantial "achievement."
Of course, that's not working out so well for him now. Whether or not this is a case of pathological altruism, it definitely is pathological narcissism.
The Truth about the 1 Percent The rich’s incomes aren’t surging, and inequality measures ignore growing government transfers. By Alan Reynolds November 11, 2013
Every year, new estimates of the incomes of the “top 1 percent” are reported with the requisite fanfare from Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley. And every year the press gets the numbers all wrong.
“Worry Over Inequality Occupies Wall Street,” writes Justin Lahart of the Wall Street Journal. An odd worry, when stocks keep hitting record highs. In reality, top income shares always rise and fall with the stock market because of capital gains, stock options, and bonuses and fees tied to stocks.
“Messrs. Piketty and Saez,” says Lahart, “show the top 1 percent captured 19.3% of U.S. income in 2012. The only year in the past century when their share was bigger was 1928, at 19.6%.” That comparison is incredibly misleading. Piketty and Saez don’t include $2.3 trillion of transfer payments in “U.S. income,” even though transfers accounted for over 16 percent of personal income in 2009 and almost zero in 1928.
Extolling Piketty and Saez as “everyone’s favorite inequality-tracking researchers,” Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post writes, “Shockingly — shockingly — what [Piketty and Saez] found is that while only 49 percent of the decline in incomes during the recession was born [sic] by the top 1 percent (whose income share fell to 18.1 percent due to the recession), 95 percent of income gains since the recovery started have gone to them.”
There is an interesting story in these numbers, but it is not a story journalists choose to report. It turns out that the same table Matthews reprinted from Piketty and Saez shows the top 1 percent’s real income fell by 36.3 percent from 2007 to 2009, then rose by only 31.4 percent from 2009 to 2012. The 36.3 percent decline, of course, was calculated from a much larger base than the subsequent 31.4 percent recovery.
Since top incomes fell more than they rose, you might expect the Post’s Mr. Matthews to note that over the whole period, the net change was a decline in top incomes rather than an increase. Down is not up, even in economic journalism. Yet every major media outlet, even The Economist and the Wall Street Journal, gullibly reported the data — adding up to a five-year decline — as evidence the rich are continually getting richer.
The table shown here — which uses Piketty and Saez’s data — shows the top 1 percent’s average real income fell by 16.3 percent from 2007 to 2012, and ended up 6.4 percent lower than it was back in 2000:
Average Real Income of the Top 1 Percent (2012 dollars) 2000 $1,350,006 2001 1,063,706 2002 933,878 2003 964,989 2004 1,143,104 2005 1,323,935 2006 1,414,985 2007 1,510,932 2008 1,213,199 2009 961,785 2010 1,076,379 2011 1,056,640 2012 1,264,065
What about the “other 99 percent,” whose income supposedly rose by only 0.4 percent from 2009 to 2012? Piketty and Saez compare real incomes at different income levels without including Social Security, unemployment and disability benefits, food stamps, Medicaid, etc. Government transfers totaled $2.3 trillion in 2012, up 24.6 percent in real terms from 2007 and up 68 percent since 2000. Because Piketty and Saez estimate only pre-tax, pre-transfer income, they also ignore $149 billion in Treasury checks to lower-income families from refundable tax credits. They’ll also ignore huge Obamacare subsidies next year.
Once transfers and taxes are properly taken into account, my own research for the Cato Institute shows no clear trend toward greater inequality after 1989, aside from the tech-stock boom of 1998–2000. Instead of any predictable trend, data on income shares are dominated by cyclical variations in which rich and poor rise or fall together: When the top 1 percent’s share rises, the poverty rate falls, and when the top 1 percent’s share falls, the poverty rate rises.
There are numerous conceptual and measurement problems with attempting to judge the relative living standards of the rich, middle-class, and poor by relying on income reported on individual tax returns (ignoring, for a start, income that’s unreported or reported on corporate returns).
Saez himself has hinted that the seemingly strong surge in top-percentile incomes in 2012, for example, was largely a matter of strategic tax timing — reporting bonuses and capital gains in 2012 to avoid higher tax rates in 2013. The same thing happened in late 1992, when professionals and executives arranged to cash in bonuses and stock options in December rather than in January 1993, when income-tax rates went up. It also happened in 1986, when investors rushed to cash in capital gains before the capital-gains tax went up, briefly inflating reported real income of the top 1 percent by 34.6 percent in a single year.
Because reported capital gains and bonuses were similarly shifted forward from 2013 to 2012, we can expect a sizable drop in the top 1 percent’s reported income when the 2013 estimates come out a year from now. The befuddled media will doubtless figure out some way to depict that drop as an increase.
I drove past the closest nuclear plant to us during the Fukushima catastrophe on a clear, still, beautiful, sunny day. This plant has produced over 4 trillion W·hr of electricity annually since 1971, a mind boggling amount, with a stellar safety record - and no harmful emissions. Try producing electricity at that cost and safety record with any other known source - it can't be done. But due to one tsunami in the Pacific, other countries are closing plants and scuttling plans to build new ones.
It is hard to express how safe nuclear energy is while Fukushima is still wrapping up, but the piece Crafty posted does a nice job of putting that disaster in proportion:
"The widely advertised fallout disaster after Fukushima never happened. Zero deaths resulted from the plant explosion or the radiation leakage from the accident, though some died in the panicky evacuation of the area."
Importantly, a new plant can be built to withstand that natural disaster, and most nuclear sites have no real possibility of ever facing such a test.
As stated in the article, people "confuse what nuclear bombs do with what nuclear energy does. So many of our ideas about fallout and cancer rates are tied to the former, not the latter."
Also well presented is the context of nuclear energy, "There is no way to produce energy that’s entirely safe. Worldwide, some 3 million people die each year from causes related to fossil-fuel use."
The magnitude of the show-stopping, nuclear waste issue is much smaller than we are led to believe: "All the nuclear waste generated in US history could fit in 10-foot-high barrels covering a single football field. Only about 1% of that material has a scary half-life." "Next-generation nuclear reactors will be able use recycled nuclear waste for fuel, making nuclear power a renewable resource and massively reducing the amount of waste on Earth."
Given that nuclear power is safer and we need the energy, it comes back to costs and emissions - and nuclear wins. Yet, at the expense of our economy and the environment, we dither instead of building new, state of the art facilities.
It certainly did NOT originate in the House, but likely falls under the Roberts Doctrine:
If you can find a way, no matter how irrational or contorted, to uphold an action of the legislative branch creating new government powers not authorized by the framers and stomping on individual liberties, then you, the Chief Justice and swing vote of the United States Supreme Court, must do so.
Year 2013, Revenues 2,774(B), Outlays 3,454, Deficit 680, Deficit % of GDP: 4.1%
For all the hoopla over budget improvement, deficit % of GDP is still 30% worse than 2008. Under this likely-to-be-temporary spending sequester in the last fiscal year before Obamcare, and taxing at the highest tax rates in recent memory, we are still spending 25% above and beyond what we take in! What could possibly go wrong?
Are we really going to just use less energy, or switch back to fossil fuels, bumping up our CO2 emissions, or pay 15 times too much with solar-wind strategies? Nuclear power has by far the safest track record including its setbacks. No one died at 3 Mile Island, Chernoble was a lesson in Soviet failure. Fukushima Daichi was caused a massive earthquake-tsunami, not likely in most locations, and provides the opportunity to build future facilities safer and stronger. Meanwhile we dither on nuclear and bark up the wrong trees on energy policy.
Enviros Suffering Nuclear Meltdown (by Steven Hayward)
I’ve written before here about the documentary film Pandora’s Promise, in which prominent environmentalists have changed their mind about nuclear power. Then a couple weeks ago several prominent climate alarmists, headed by the egregious James Hansen, put out an article advocating a return to nuclear power. Naturally this has upset the retrograde/reactionary environmentalists who are stuck in 1979 and can’t get over Three Mile Island.
Last Thursday CNN decided to broadcast Pandora’s Promise, and pair it with an episode of Crossfire about the topic between the fossilized Ralph Nader and my stylish pal Michael Shellenberger. Michael had called me in advance of the debate, saying he was a bit nervous about debating Nader, but I expressed confidence that he’d wipe the floor. If you have 10 minutes or so to spare, here are two of the Crossfire segments:
Out in the further reaches of the critical theory left, the necessity of denying objective reality extends to language itself. The deep-dish post-modernists declaim that language is just another subjective tool of the (white) power structure. Whenever I hear such drivel, I usually ask not only why are we having this argument, but how are we having this argument? (And if there is nothing but power in the world, I like to say: “Fine. How many guns you lefties got? Because I’ve got lots of them.” That’s when the whole subject is usually changed or dropped.)
It should not surprise us, then, that “progressives” (the new term for “liberals” since modern liberals have discredited liberalism) are obsessed with language, and think that merely changing words will change minds. George Lakoff has made a lucrative cottage industry out of this.
The latest entry in the glossolalia of progressivism is this post about how we need to ditch “big business,” “entitlements,” “free market capitalism,” “government spending,” and other hardy perennials. Some of the suggestions include:
(1). Big Business: (Also referred to as: Corporate America; Multinationals; Corporate Interests) When we use any of these words, we automatically sound pie-in-the-sky liberal. People think, “what’s wrong with that?” After all, they’d like their own businesses to get “big” and have no negative associations with the words “corporate” or “multinational” — which actually sound kind of exciting and worldly. Instead, progressives can try: Unelected Government. This puts big, global, multinationals in their proper context as unelected entities with unprecedented powers, whose actions have immense impact on our lives, and which we are powerless to hold accountable.
(2). Entitlements: I keep hearing reporters from National Public Radio and other liberal news outlets use the word “entitlements” and it makes me froth at the mouth. They’re not “entitlements” — which sounds like something a bunch of spoiled, lazy, undeserving people irrationally think they should get for nothing. Instead, we progressives should try: Earned Benefits. . .
(4). Government Spending: (Also referred to as: Taxes, Burden, and Inconvenient) Conservatives talk about “government spending” like it’s this awful thing, but the fact is, communities across America benefit from U.S. tax dollars, especially supposedly anti-government red states, which receive way more federal tax money than they contribute. Instead, progressives should try: Investing in America. Because, that’s what our federal tax dollars do.
(11). The Environment: When people talk about “the environment,” they often sound annoyingly self-righteous, as if lecturing people with dubious hygiene practices. Unfortunately, you can’t count on people to make environmentally friendly choices — especially when people are struggling financially and these choices cost significantly more. Instead, we progressives can try: Shared Resources.
(12). Welfare: When conservatives talk about “welfare,” they make it sound like this pit people wallow in forever, rather than a source of help that’s available when we need it – and that we pay for through our taxes. The majority of us need help at one time or another. Instead, progressives should try: Social Safety Net: When people think of a safety net, they’re more likely to think of a protection of last-resort, and one that they can instantly bounce out of like circus acrobats.
A keep-your-plan bill should include a clause to legalize other plans for other people as well. 'Grandfathering' in a few plans is unequal treatment and no way to treat the previously and currently uninsured who might like to buy lesser coverage than the O-care requirement too.
If Obamacare is a tax of a legal choice, and not a mandate, why aren't catastrophic plans allowed and available for those who chose to pay the penalty instead of buy the policy? What happened to the goal of getting more people insured? Isn't partial insurance better no insurance?. Maybe we can offer a partial penalty, something a little easier to repeal.
Anyone out there want to point out which article or amendment in the constitution authorizes the federal government to 'buy up' $1.25 trillion in 'mortgage backed securities' as a way of injecting purely inflationary money into the system in an attempt to 'stimulate' business and consumption in the economy? Good God, what have we become? ------------------------------
I can only say: I'm sorry, America. As a former Federal Reserve official, I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the Fed's first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as quantitative easing. The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I've come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.
Five years ago this month, on Black Friday, the Fed launched an unprecedented shopping spree. By that point in the financial crisis, Congress had already passed legislation, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, to halt the U.S. banking system's free fall. Beyond Wall Street, though, the economic pain was still soaring. In the last three months of 2008 alone, almost two million Americans would lose their jobs.
The Fed said it wanted to help—through a new program of massive bond purchases. There were secondary goals, but Chairman Ben Bernanke made clear that the Fed's central motivation was to "affect credit conditions for households and businesses": to drive down the cost of credit so that more Americans hurting from the tanking economy could use it to weather the downturn. For this reason, he originally called the initiative "credit easing."
My part of the story began a few months later. Having been at the Fed for seven years, until early 2008, I was working on Wall Street in spring 2009 when I got an unexpected phone call. Would I come back to work on the Fed's trading floor? The job: managing what was at the heart of QE's bond-buying spree—a wild attempt to buy $1.25 trillion in mortgage bonds in 12 months. Incredibly, the Fed was calling to ask if I wanted to quarterback the largest economic stimulus in U.S. history.
This was a dream job, but I hesitated. And it wasn't just nervousness about taking on such responsibility. I had left the Fed out of frustration, having witnessed the institution deferring more and more to Wall Street. Independence is at the heart of any central bank's credibility, and I had come to believe that the Fed's independence was eroding. Senior Fed officials, though, were publicly acknowledging mistakes and several of those officials emphasized to me how committed they were to a major Wall Street revamp. I could also see that they desperately needed reinforcements. I took a leap of faith.
In its almost 100-year history, the Fed had never bought one mortgage bond. Now my program was buying so many each day through active, unscripted trading that we constantly risked driving bond prices too high and crashing global confidence in key financial markets. We were working feverishly to preserve the impression that the Fed knew what it was doing.
It wasn't long before my old doubts resurfaced. Despite the Fed's rhetoric, my program wasn't helping to make credit any more accessible for the average American. The banks were only issuing fewer and fewer loans. More insidiously, whatever credit they were extending wasn't getting much cheaper. QE may have been driving down the wholesale cost for banks to make loans, but Wall Street was pocketing most of the extra cash.
From the trenches, several other Fed managers also began voicing the concern that QE wasn't working as planned. Our warnings fell on deaf ears. In the past, Fed leaders—even if they ultimately erred—would have worried obsessively about the costs versus the benefits of any major initiative. Now the only obsession seemed to be with the newest survey of financial-market expectations or the latest in-person feedback from Wall Street's leading bankers and hedge-fund managers. Sorry, U.S. taxpayer.
Trading for the first round of QE ended on March 31, 2010. The final results confirmed that, while there had been only trivial relief for Main Street, the U.S. central bank's bond purchases had been an absolute coup for Wall Street. The banks hadn't just benefited from the lower cost of making loans. They'd also enjoyed huge capital gains on the rising values of their securities holdings and fat commissions from brokering most of the Fed's QE transactions. Wall Street had experienced its most profitable year ever in 2009, and 2010 was starting off in much the same way.
You'd think the Fed would have finally stopped to question the wisdom of QE. Think again. Only a few months later—after a 14% drop in the U.S. stock market and renewed weakening in the banking sector—the Fed announced a new round of bond buying: QE2. Germany's finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, immediately called the decision "clueless."
That was when I realized the Fed had lost any remaining ability to think independently from Wall Street. Demoralized, I returned to the private sector.
Where are we today? The Fed keeps buying roughly $85 billion in bonds a month, chronically delaying so much as a minor QE taper. Over five years, its bond purchases have come to more than $4 trillion. Amazingly, in a supposedly free-market nation, QE has become the largest financial-markets intervention by any government in world history.
And the impact? Even by the Fed's sunniest calculations, aggressive QE over five years has generated only a few percentage points of U.S. growth. By contrast, experts outside the Fed, such as Mohammed El Erian at the Pimco investment firm, suggest that the Fed may have created and spent over $4 trillion for a total return of as little as 0.25% of GDP (i.e., a mere $40 billion bump in U.S. economic output). Both of those estimates indicate that QE isn't really working.
Unless you're Wall Street. Having racked up hundreds of billions of dollars in opaque Fed subsidies, U.S. banks have seen their collective stock price triple since March 2009. The biggest ones have only become more of a cartel: 0.2% of them now control more than 70% of the U.S. bank assets.
As for the rest of America, good luck. Because QE was relentlessly pumping money into the financial markets during the past five years, it killed the urgency for Washington to confront a real crisis: that of a structurally unsound U.S. economy. Yes, those financial markets have rallied spectacularly, breathing much-needed life back into 401(k)s, but for how long? Experts like Larry Fink at the BlackRock investment firm are suggesting that conditions are again "bubble-like." Meanwhile, the country remains overly dependent on Wall Street to drive economic growth.
Even when acknowledging QE's shortcomings, Chairman Bernanke argues that some action by the Fed is better than none (a position that his likely successor, Fed Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen, also embraces). The implication is that the Fed is dutifully compensating for the rest of Washington's dysfunction. But the Fed is at the center of that dysfunction. Case in point: It has allowed QE to become Wall Street's new "too big to fail" policy.
Mr. Huszar, a senior fellow at Rutgers Business School, is a former Morgan Stanley managing director. In 2009-10, he managed the Federal Reserve's $1.25 trillion agency mortgage-backed security purchase program.
Interesting hypothetical, but I haven't seen any signs of devotion to the constitution, nor do we live in a Democracy.
The consitution IS living and breathing in the sense that it includes an amendment process.
I went to City Hall a few years ago to ask them to up hold their own laws and found out that the city was not governed by City Code, but the precedent of all the variances already granted by the council, allowing people to get around the laws as written instead of changing the law.
That same process was on display in the Supreme Court as they rationalize the basis for the Obamacare decision. This type of governance was UNTHINKABLE at the time of the framing and things have not changed so much that we now need Orwellian governance, while giving lip service to upholding a constitution with specific limits on federal government power.
Too bad that so many critics of the constitution happen to be Justices on the Supreme Court.
The Denny family has been getting its health insurance through Dog Brothers Inc. Our health insurance agent tells us that we will be losing it however because apparently as of July 2014 husband-wife owned corporations such as ours no longer are allowed.
To that news, one could retort something clever about marriage penalty or that if this was a gay marriage the California courts would never allow that. But this is real, and cancellations like what you (and I) received, and things like a doubling of costs for new policies are being received by all kinds of Obama voters and swing voters who swung Democratic over the last 6-8 years.
Note that a website glitch isn't the central problem. If your healthcare costs double or go up by thousands of dollars, how does that affect your outlook for other purchases, and multiply that decrease by 300 million people and guess the macroeconomic effect. People buy less and businesses fail. Incomes go down and more healthcare (and other) subsidies are required. Lower revenues to the government, more spending, more debt and it all just spirals downward. Welcome to Obamanomics, unencumbered by the need to ever again face reelection.
If we chose to pay more to get more, that is different. But this was sold to a bare majority on the basis of, a) no one knows what is in the bill/law, b) it will bring DOWN costs by 2500 per year - code name 'Affordable', and c) if you like your plan you can keep it, so what's the harm in trying. Even if the promises were true (what a joke), it was tyranny of a bare majority to force its way on all the rest. Un-American, one might say.
Sec. Kerry described Israel's settlements in the West Bank as "illegitimate" and warned ominously: "The alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential of chaos. I mean, does Israel want a third intifada?"
Scientists say that solar activity is stranger than in a century or more, with the sun producing barely half the number of sunspots as expected and its magnetic poles oddly out of sync.
The sun generates immense magnetic fields as it spins. Sunspots—often broader in diameter than Earth—mark areas of intense magnetic force that brew disruptive solar storms. These storms may abruptly lash their charged particles across millions of miles of space toward Earth, where they can short-circuit satellites, smother cellular signals or damage electrical systems.
Based on historical records, astronomers say the sun this fall ought to be nearing the explosive climax of its approximate 11-year cycle of activity—the so-called solar maximum. But this peak is "a total punk," said Jonathan Cirtain, who works at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as project scientist for the Japanese satellite Hinode, which maps solar magnetic fields.
"I would say it is the weakest in 200 years," said David Hathaway, head of the solar physics group at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Researchers are puzzled. They can't tell if the lull is temporary or the onset of a decades-long decline, which might ease global warming a bit by altering the sun's brightness or the wavelengths of its light.
"There is no scientist alive who has seen a solar cycle as weak as this one," said Andrés Munoz-Jaramillo, who studies the solar-magnetic cycle at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass.
To complicate the riddle, the sun also is undergoing one of its oddest magnetic reversals on record.
Normally, the sun's magnetic north and south poles change polarity every 11 years or so. During a magnetic-field reversal, the sun's polar magnetic fields weaken, drop to zero, and then emerge again with the opposite polarity. As far as scientists know, the magnetic shift is notable only because it signals the peak of the solar maximum, said Douglas Biesecker at NASA's Space Environment Center.
But in this cycle, the sun's magnetic poles are out of sync, solar scientists said. The sun's north magnetic pole reversed polarity more than a year ago, so it has the same polarity as the south pole.
"The delay between the two reversals is unusually long," said solar physicist Karel Schrijver at the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif.
Scientists said they are puzzled, but not concerned, by the unusual delay. They expect the sun's south pole to change polarity next month, based on current satellite measurements of its shifting magnetic fields.
At the same time, scientists can't explain the scarcity of sunspots. While still turbulent, the sun seems feeble compared with its peak power in previous decades. "It is not just that there are fewer sunspots, but they are less active sunspots," Dr. Schrijver said. (More at the link)
As I noted last week, in 2010, the Obama administration estimated that 93 million Americans would be unable to keep their prior health coverage under the narrow grandfathering provisions issued by the administration in June 2010. My colleague Chris Conover estimates that the number is 129 million. And we are here only talking about disruptions to private health plans, and not counting the law’s $716 billion in cuts to Medicare.
The level of disruption in the employer-sponsored market will be less than that in the individual market, where people shop for coverage on their own. But the President is most certainly violating his “like your plan” pledge in the employer-sponsored market, too. For example, employer-sponsored insurance will now have to cover costly, federally-dictated benefits that they did not have to cover before, rendering many plans illegal. Excise taxes on premiums, drugs, and medical devices will drive premiums upward. And the so-called “Cadillac tax” on high-value insurance plans—a meritorious idea—will force a massive restructuring of many coverage arrangements. -----------------------
I am patiently waiting for our watchdog media to question what else was he lying about? Perhaps everything economic, for starters?
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/11/obamas-lying-apology.php (Chuck Todd- Pres Obama 24 min. interview) ----------- "I regret very much that what we intended to do, which was to make sure that everybody is moving into better plans because they want them as opposed to because they are forced into it, but we weren’t as clear as we needed to be in terms of the changes that were taking place, and I want to do everything we can to make sure that people are finding themselves in a good position, in a better position than they were in before this law happened. And I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me and we’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and that we’re going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this." -----------
Just for the record, what is a sincere apology? You regret what you said or did. You would do it differently if you had the chance to go back. You would do everything in your power to make it right now.
Instead he says it's a 'small percentage of folks' (95 million Americans), 'most of these folks will be better off with a new plan' (twice the price). We did it the best way possible. You will be better off. No real regrets. Until the next apology, much more sincere - if you can believe that!
Treasury simply stopped enforcing companies that do business with Iran. I assume the House and Senate Committees that deal with this were in the dark.
The government departments are simply ordered to do his bidding behind the scenes.
This makes Iran Contra look like peanuts.
Of course the shysters will be out en masse denying this is the case.
And Hillary will be doing polls and devising her distancing strategy behind the scenes.
She will campaign for stronger ties with Israel and the Hollywood hypocrites will be flooding her with money. Now the liar in chief is safely in for the second term they will shift their support to the next one.
All the while we are going to have a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
This time he meant it, if you like your nuclear plan, you can keep your nuclear plan. ------------------
My intuitive sense of things is that this level of taxation still does not approach the costs attendant to a criminal market.
Agree. They will do fine for now with this level of taxation, only paid by tourists and casual users. 'Medical marijuana' market will not be subject to this tax. The heavy burners just had to utter 'chronic pain' to a doctor, and their friends all know to just call them to get around the tax.
I'm mostly pointing out legalization is a misnomer. The black market is still illegal. Levying a 35% tax that most people can easily avoid will result in a permanent and prosperous 'black market'.
One libertarian point in favor of legalization was that crime would disappear with the big money and illegal status removed, but then we tax it to get the price back up to old, black market prices. I see an incongruity.
I'm not advocating limits, just exercising my own free speech to call them out on their chicanery. ('the use of trickery to achieve a political, financial, or legal purpose')
I should disclose that I contemplated doing the same for one of my good buddies when he was Green party endorsed candidate for Governor in MN, and then for congress in St. Paul. Obviously my effort would have been to help a Republican defeat a Democrat, not to favor far left over left.
"Are you suggesting to me that the majority of those who want to give unlimited monies to candidates want all the information to be made public? Do you have evidence for this position? Do the Koch brothers? Warren Buffet? The people who are actually giving this money? "
No. I was clarifying my view shared by others who oppose limits but favor full disclosure. Big donors, I would guess, prefer privacy and anonymity. Transparency might actually help those like Koch brothers who get blamed beyond their actual involvement. Now we have the worst of both with limits on involvement and then information coming out when it is of no use.
(CCP) "It does bother me how wealthy people, corporations, wealthy lobbyists can outright control or influence elections."
My thought on this is that IF government was mostly removed from the business of picking economic winners and losers, wealth redistribution, crony governmentism, over-regulation, etc., the utility of special interest money would be much smaller. The enterprises of the Koch brothers for example are under constant political attack, perhaps justly, but we deserve to hear both sides. I recall that Microsoft did not have one lobbyist on staff in Washington the day the Clinton/Janet Reno Justice Department set out to break them up, justly or unjustly. They do now. ----- I appreciate the kind words!
Coloradans also approved a 25% tax on the marijuana sales they legalized in 2012. The money is earmarked for education, so now parents can tell their kids they're getting high for their future, or something. The problem is that the tax rate, which can reach 35% in some localities, will be so high that it may encourage a black market, thus defeating the supposed purpose of legalization. This is what comes from toking up before economics class.
The most significant election result Tuesday may have been Colorado's overwhelming rejection of Amendment 66, which would have blown up the state's 4.63% flat income tax and opened the door to much bigger government. Related Video
Editorial page writer Allysia Finley on the Rocky Mountain's state rejection of a tax hike to fund education programs.
The initiative was this year's main priority for progressives nationwide and was supported by $1 million each from New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and the Gates Foundation. Those billionaires fell for the line that the new tax revenue would have funded education reform. But Colorado voters were smart enough to see that the measure's most fervent backers were the teachers unions that oppose reform and simply want more money. The measure won in only two counties, Denver and Boulder, and was crushed statewide 66% to 34%, though opponents were vastly outspent.
Dems funded the Libertarian. BD: "It is simply free speech" Doug: Your thinking is now that money equals speech? BD: "Goodness, no. But yours is"
Are you using my small mind as your playground - again?
BD: "It seems to me that Dems clearly favored the libertarian."
Ah, Yes, the little known, Libertarian wing of the Cradle to Grave, Big Government party! I can never tell for sure when you are pulling my leg.
The point is that, no, the Democrat operatives didn't favor the Libertarian. They favored McAuliffe but were happy to take advantage of liberties afforded to them by libertarians in order to engage in this subterfuge.
BD: "I still don't see why spending money in the manner above is seen as crooked."
Maybe I chose my words poorly, but online dictionaries seem to back me up: crook·ed ˈkro͝okəd/ bent, twisted, out of shape, out of place, contorted, warped, distorted
sub·ter·fuge ˈsəbtərˌfyo͞oj/ deceit used in order to achieve one's goal.
Proponents like me of unlimited money in politics generally like to balance that with a requirement of full and instant disclosure of the sources of the money. One reason one might not want to engage in these shenanigans is that it might reflect poorly on oneself and backfire when exposed by our (laughable, AWOL) watchdog media. Like the lies of Benghazi, this came to light only after it was too late to make a difference.
Barack Obama’s presidency has become a feast of failures whose proliferation protects their author from close scrutiny of any one of them. Now, however, we can revisit one of the first and see it as a harbinger of progressivism’s downward stumble to HealthCare.gov.
“Cash for Clunkers” was born with Obama’s administration as a component of his stimulus. Its fate is a window into both why the recovery has been extraordinarily weak and what happens when progressives’ clever plans collide with recalcitrant reality.
Consumers could trade in older vehicles and receive vouchers toward the purchase of a new, more fuel- efficient car. The vouchers were worth $3,500 or $4,500, depending on the difference in fuel economy between the trade-in and the new purchase. The program’s purposes were economic stimulation and environmental improvement.
Now a study by Ted Gayer and Emily Parker, published by the Brookings Institution, a mildly liberal think tank, concludes: “The $2.85 billion in vouchers provided by the program had a small and short-lived impact on gross domestic product, essentially shifting roughly a few billion dollars forward from the subsequent two quarters following the program.”
Most of the 677,842 sales were simply taken from the near future. That many older vehicles were traded in — and, as required by law, destroyed. Gayer and Parker accept as reasonable an estimate that the cost per job created by the program was $1.4 million. Although the vouchers did not come close to covering the cost of the new cars, voucher recipients seem not to have reduced their other consumption. This, say Gayer and Parker, suggests that participants in the program “were not liquidity constrained,” which is a delicate way of saying “there was no change in other consumption patterns,” which is a polite way of saying that “cash for clunkers” merely caused people to purchase vehicles “slightly earlier than otherwise would have occurred.”
Because the program was not means-tested, it had only a slight distributional effect of the sort progressives favor: Voucher recipients had lower incomes than others who bought new cars in 2009. Against this, however, must be weighed the fact that the mandated destruction of so many used vehicles probably caused prices for such vehicles to be higher than they otherwise would have been, meaning a redistribution of wealth adverse to low-income consumers.
As for environmental benefits from Cash for Clunkers, the reduction of gasoline consumption was small and “the cost per ton of carbon dioxide reduced by [the program] far exceeds the estimated social cost of carbon.” But it was — herewith very faint praise — more cost-effective than the subsidy for electric vehicles or the tax credit for ethanol.
Cash for Clunkers lasted 55 days and ended with confusion that was a preview of things to come. The New York Times explained in August 2009 the final surge of demand for clunker funds:
“Around the country, dealers had put off the laborious task of applying for the rebates . . . which requires entering the 17-character identification numbers of each vehicle to be scrapped, scanning images of proof of insurance and filling out other paperwork. The computer system was overloaded, according to the dealers. They said they would finish one page in the application, hit enter and nothing would happen. Eventually a message would appear notifying the dealer that the page had ‘timed out.’ Tom Frew, the business manager at Galpin Motors in Los Angeles, said that he needed 35 tries to register just one of the company’s 11 dealerships on the day that the program opened because of problems with the government Web site. On Friday, he spent an hour processing just one rebate application, he said.”
The recovery from the recession began in June 2009; 53 months later, vehicle sales still have not yet reached the pre-recession peak. Cash for Clunkers was prologue for the government’s vastly more ambitious plan to manage health care’s 18 percent of the economy.
The present, too, is prologue. There is heated debate about Common Core, whose advocates say it merely involves national academic targets and metrics for primary and secondary education. Critics say it will inevitably lead to a centrally designed and nationally imposed curriculum — practice dictated by targets and metrics. Common Core advocates say, in effect: “If you like your local curriculum, you can keep it. Period.”
If you believe this, your credulity is impervious to evidence. And you probably are a progressive.
"Yes it was crooked that Dems funded him [the faux-Libertarian]...". I don't follow you here Doug. It is simply free speech. How is that crooked?
My thinking is that a straight line in politics would be to advance and support issues, positions and candidates that you honestly favor, and a crooked path would be to use lies, deceit and subterfuge. This strategy clearly falling within the latter.
Minneapolis tried ranked choice voting; the voter must list first three choices. Leading candidate out of 35 candidates got 36% of the first choice vote. No winner declared yet. What a Liberal-Utopian mess. How about just hold an election, count votes and declare a winner?
1) Ken Cuccinelli is too conservative for a swing state. Rule one for conservatives, run the most conservative candidate - who can win.
2) Outspent by $15 million! I understand the McAuliffe is a crook with big money and big connections. It is still time to stop being out-spent. RNC for example put in 1/3 of their 2009 amount. What did you (anyone reading) put in?
3) The Libertarian drew more than the margin of victory and ran I assume largely against the Republican for his votes. Yes it was crooked that Dems funded him, imagine if Republicans got caught doing the equivalent! Still, when will we learn. This is a two party system. Libertarians run against conservatives and the moderates in the semi-finals (caucuses, primaries etc.) not in the finals (general election). If you want to defeat leftism, you must all come together with like minded to do that. Whatever agenda the Libertarian(s) wanted, how is that going for you now?
4) What an amazing upset this almost was, given the visits by the President, Joe Biden, Hillary, the money advantage, the media advantage, the double digit polling leads, the shortcomings of the candidate, and the third party problem.
5) Hopefully the close loss causes Republicans to re-think, re-focus, re-energize coming into 2014-2016. That can be the only silver lining.
6) Don't we have a (libertarian) correspondent on the scene?
As best as I can tell, this moment is an ideal moment for us to change the political landscape for freedom, the free market, and the good of the country. However the Stupid Party is silent on this and instead only carps and complains snarkily. It is all good fun I suppose, but where is the vision for where we want to go?
What occurs to me:
1) A proper function of government is for prices to be knowable and at present there are not. How can market forces work if people cannot price compare? EVERYONE has experienced frustration with this--surely calling for prices to be knowable will make for good soundbites and good law , , , 2) What about having one national market, instead of 50 markets? Good sound bite? Good law? Seems so to me , , , 3) I have read good things about HSAs. What are the facts? How can the law be changed to make them even better? What are the sound bites for HSAs? 4) During the debates leading up to Obamacare's passage, we noted here that there were several elements with which our side agreed. What were they? As things sit now, the Reps are identified as against Obamacare-- both the good and the bad. Can we not identify the good with which the Dems agreed with us and promise its continuance in that with which we seek to replace Obamacare?
All good points, and politically necessary to spell out the alternative, not just say no. As Obama found out, it is easier to be a critic than to have a plan and govern.
1) Knowing costs - YES! Why is it so hard to know costs? The billing department knows the costs. Amazon knows that customers who bought this also bought this and this. Why not know before you walk in?
3) HSA's - YES! Health savings account means save your money, spend it on your healthcare. Incorporate HSA's with catastrophic coverage for the unexpected above what you can afford, and incorporate both of those with a legitimate safety net for what people trying their best really can't afford.
4) The popular elements of Obamacare were already in the Republican plan. Some method to deal with pre-existing conditions is the big one. Also opening the market to cross state lines and malpractice/medical liability reform. "Can we not identify the good with which the Dems agreed with us and promise its continuance in that with which we seek to replace Obamacare?" - YES!
From another thread, this fact begs the questions that follow...
'The unemployment rate in Florida fell to 7.0% from 10.9% since Republican Governor Rick Scott entered office.'
What would be Obama's no growth record (0.019 growth) nationally without the pro-growth efforts of 30 Republican governors, majorities of Republican legislatures, Republican House, etc.? What if Obama and Detroit-style policies governed everywhere across the fruited plain, what would be his economic record?
Red states hold the edge in growth Job, investment potential greater (May 23, 2013)
"... The bad news for blue states: Not one ranks in the top 10 based on overall economic outlook as gauged by 15 economic indicators, including tax rates, regulatory burden and labor policies. Eight of the top 10 slots are held by GOP-dominated red states, led by Utah, while two are politically mixed “purple” states, Florida and Virginia [Who both have Republican Governors].
On the other hand, the list of the bottom 10 is dominated by blue states. Vermont, a solidly blue state, ranks last in terms of economic outlook, and only one red state — Montana — makes the bottom 10. [Montana has a Democrat Governor.]
Mr. Scott can run on the state's robust economic recovery. He can point to the 500,000 jobs that Florida has added during his tenure compared to the 632,000 lost over Mr. Crist's four years in office. Meanwhile, the jobless rate has fallen to 7.0% from 10.9% since Scott entered office.
The Republican governor will also be able to exploit Democrats' former criticisms of Mr. Crist. A new ad cut for the governor features Democrat Alex Sink, the state's former CFO and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, slamming Mr. Crist for failing "to lay out a business plan to get Florida out of its worst recession" and Democratic chair Karen Thurman noting that "his only core belief is personal ambition."
The California Endowment, a foundation spending big bucks to promote Obamacare, has just delivered a $500,000 grant to TV writers and producers to sneak Obamacare promotions into their programs. "The aim is to produce compelling prime-time narratives that encourage Americans to enroll, especially the young and healthy, Hispanics and other key demographic groups needed to make the overhaul a success."
In a rather backhanded insult, grant recipient Martin Kaplan of the University of Southern California's Norman Lear Center explained, "We know from research that when people watch entertainment television, even if they know it's fiction, they tend to believe that the factual stuff is actually factual." He continued on to say that "people learn from these shows."
I wonder if we could ask the fund-Obamcare Republicans and the starting-to-doubt-Obamacare Democrats to at least draw the line with not funding this trainwreck one damn dime above the level of the estimates on which it was sold and deemed passed.
The White House on Wednesday declined to challenge an account in a new book that suggests that President Obama, in his campaign to overhaul American health care, mischaracterized a central anecdote about his mother’s deathbed dispute with her insurance company.
During his presidential campaign and subsequent battle over a health care law, Mr. Obama quieted crowds with the story of his mother’s fight with her insurer over whether her cancer was a pre-existing condition that disqualified her from coverage.
In offering the story as an argument for ending pre-existing condition exclusions by health insurers, the president left the clear impression that his mother’s fight was over health benefits for medical expenses.
But in “A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother,” author Janny Scott quotes from correspondence from the president’s mother to assert that the 1995 dispute concerned a Cigna disability insurance policy and that her actual health insurer had apparently reimbursed most of her medical expenses without argument.
In her book, published in May by Riverhead Books, Ms. Scott writes that Mr. Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, had an employer-provided health insurance policy that paid her hospital bills directly, leaving her “to pay only the deductible and any uncovered expenses, which, she said, came to several hundred dollars a month.”
Climate-change alarmists warn us about coming food shortages. They said the same in 1968. By Bret Stephens, WSJ Nov. 4, 2013
Warming is becoming a major problem. "A change in our climate," writes one deservedly famous American naturalist, "is taking place very sensibly." Snowfall, he notes, has become "less frequent and less deep." Rivers that once "seldom failed to freeze over in the course of the winter, scarcely ever do so now."
And it's having an especially worrisome effect on the food supply: "This change has produced an unfortunate fluctuation between heat and cold, in the spring of the year, which is very fatal to fruits."
That isn't a leaked excerpt from the latest report of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but it may as well be. Last week, Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise of the website No Frakking Consensus posted a draft of a forthcoming IPCC report on the alleged effects climate change will have on food production. The New York Times then splashed the news on its front page Saturday. It's another tale of warming woe:
"With or without adaptation," the report warns, "climate change will reduce median yields by 0 to 2% per decade for the rest of the century, as compared to a baseline without climate change. These projected impacts will occur in the context of rising crop demand, projected to increase by 14% per decade until 2050."
Two silly books, now being recycled by global warming alarmists.
If this has a familiar ring, it's because it harks back to the neo-Malthusian forecasts of the 1960s and '70s, when we were supposed to believe that population growth would outstrip food production. This gave us such titles as "Famine 1975!", a 1967 best seller by the brothers William and Paul Paddock, along with Paul Ehrlich's vastly influential "The Population Bomb," a book that began with the words, "The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now."
In case you're wondering what happened with that battle to feed humanity, the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization has some useful figures on its website. In 1968, the year Mr. Ehrlich's book first appeared, Asia produced 46,321,114 tons of maize and 439,579,934 of cereals. By 2011, the respective figures had risen to 270,316,205, up 484%, and 1,289,633,254, up 193%.
It's the same story nearly everywhere else one looks. In Africa, maize production was up 247% between 1968 and 2011, while production of so-called primary vegetables has risen 319%; in South America, it's 308% and 199%. Meanwhile, the world's population rose to just under seven billion from about 3.7 billion, an increase of about 90%. It is predicted to rise by another 33% by 2050.
But what about the supposedly warming climate? According to the EPA, "average temperatures have risen more quickly since the late 1970s," with the contiguous 48 states warming "faster than the global rate." Yet U.S. food production over the same time has also risen by robust percentages even as the number of acres under cultivation has been steadily falling for decades.
In other words, even if you believe the temperature records, a warming climate seems to correlate positively with greater food production. This has mainly to do with better farming practices and the widespread introduction of genetically modified (GMO) crops, and perhaps also the stimulative effects that carbon dioxide has on photosynthesis (though this is debated). Warming also could mean that northern latitudes now not suited for farming might become so in the future.
But whatever the reason, the world isn't likely to be getting any hungrier. Quite the opposite: Purely natural (as opposed to man-made) famines are becoming unknown. As the Irish economist Cormac Ó Gráda noted in a 2010 paper, "in global terms, the margin over subsistence is now much wider than it was a generation ago. This also holds for former famine zones such as India and Bangladesh, whereas China, once the 'land of famine,' nowadays faces a growing problem of childhood obesity." Only in Africa is food scarcity still an issue, but even there recent food crises in Malawi and Niger did not result in major loss of life.
What does hurt people is bad public policy. Exhibit A is the U.S. ethanol mandate—justified in part as a response to global warming—which diverted the corn crop to fuel production and sent global food prices soaring in 2008. Exhibit B is the cult of organic farming and knee-jerk opposition to GMOs, which risk depriving farmers in poor countries of high-yield, nutrient-rich crops. Exhibit C was the effort to ban DDT without adequate substitutes to stop the spread of malaria, which kills nearly 900,000 people, mostly children, in sub-Saharan Africa alone with each passing year. The list goes on and on.
Environmentalists tend to have conveniently short memories, especially when it comes to their own mistakes. They would do better to learn from history. Just take the quote about the warming climate with which this column began. It's from "Notes on the State of Virginia" by Thomas Jefferson, published in 1785.
Posted on November 1, 2013 by John Hinderaker, Powerline Lies of Obamacare, Documented
Over the last day or two, the major breaking story has really been a throwback: in 2010, the Obama administration promulgated rules governing what plans that pre-existed Obamacare would be “grandfathered” under that statute, and allowed to continue. In the context of announcing its rules, the administration predicted that because of their restrictiveness, many millions of Americans would lose their existing insurance coverage, whether they liked it or not. Further, it has been widely reported (as by CNN, here) that Republicans tried to reverse the administration’s “grandfather” rules so that those who liked their insurance would be allowed to keep it, but Senate Democrats voted them down.
Given the lies with which Obamacare was promoted–”If you like your health care plan, you can keep it”–this is of course a blockbuster story. So I spent some time today tracking down the original sources to verify it.
The Obamacare statute provided that plans pre-existing the law would be allowed to continue, but left the details to future administrative action. That came on June 17, 2010, when the Obama administration–specifically, the Departments of the Treasury, Labor and Health and Human Services–promulgated “Interim Final Rules for Group Health Plans and Health Insurance Coverage Relating to Status as a Grandfathered Health Plan Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” You can read the rules here; scroll down to Part II.
The basic idea underlying the rules is that if the pre-existing plans remained unchanged, they could continue. If, however, there was any significant change in coverages, co-pays, and so on, then the plan would become subject to all of the requirements of Obamacare (even grandfathered plans are subject to a number of Obamacare requirements). The problem is that the health insurance market is constantly changing, and it is typical for plans to change, to some degree, from year to year. So the administration looked at historical data to estimate how many employer-sponsored and individual plans would likely lose their grandfather status once Obamacare was implemented. The administration’s methodology can certainly be questioned, but the results were as has been reported. This chart sums them up; click to enlarge:
The Obama administration projected low-end, mid-range and high-end estimates for how many plans would be terminated, in total and broken down between large and smaller employers. The bottom line is that the administration expected 51% of all employer plans to be terminated as a result of Obamacare. That is the mid-range estimate; the high-end estimate was 69%. So as of 2010, the Obama administration planned that most Americans with employer-sponsored health care plans would lose them, whether they liked those plans or not.
As for individual, as opposed to group plans, the Obama administration said that data were insufficient to predict how many would lose grandfather status, but in any given year the percentage of such policies losing such status would “exceed the 40 percent to 67 percent range.”
Those numbers starkly contradict Obama’s “if you like your insurance, you can keep it” assurances. But it is worth noting that the percentage of pre-Obamacare plans that would terminate within the first few years after the law was enacted isn’t the main point. The administration never intended to allow any American to keep a non-Obamacare insurance policy for any length of time. In the Federal Register, the administration candidly acknowledged:
The collective decisions of plan sponsors and issuers over time can be viewed as a one-way sorting process in which these parties decide whether, and when, to relinquish status as a grandfathered health plan.
The administration was prepared to be patient as the “one-way sorting process” ran its course, and all Americans lost the plans they had, whether they liked them or not.
That brings us to September 29, 2010, when Senate Republicans brought to the floor a resolution that would have disapproved of, and reversed, the administrative rules that the Obama administration promulgated on June 17. Wyoming’s Mike Enzi sponsored the resolution; the debate that followed is here. Enzi introduced his resolution:
Mr. President, the resolution we are debating today is about keeping a promise. The authors of the new health care law promised the American people that if they liked their current health insurance, they could keep it. On at least 47 separate occasions, President Obama promised: “If you like what you have, you can keep it.”
Unfortunately, the Obama administration has broken that promise. Earlier this year, the administration published a regulation that will fundamentally change the health insurance plans of millions of Americans. The reality of this new regulation is, if you like what you have, you can’t keep it. The new regulation implemented the grandfathered health plan section of the new health care law. It specified how existing health plans could avoid the most onerous new rules and redtape included in the 2,700 pages of the new health care law. …
Unfortunately, the regulation writers at the Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services broke all those promises. The regulation is crystal clear. Most businesses–the administration estimates between 39 and 69 percent–will not be able to keep the coverage they have.
Under the new regulation, once a business loses grandfathered status, they will have to comply with all of the new mandates in the law. This means these businesses will have to change their current plans and purchase more expensive ones that meet all of the new Federal minimum requirements. For the 80 percent of small businesses that will lose their grandfathered status because of this regulation, the net result is clear: They will pay more for their health insurance.
Does this give you a sense of deja vu, or what? The baleful consequences of Obamacare that we are now seeing–there are many more to come–were known and foreseen in 2010. The Democrats voted down the Republicans’ effort to preserve the health care plans that Americans already like on a party-line vote. The Democrats knew that Obama had been lying through his teeth, and they voted unanimously to sustain his lies.
Did the Democrats have a theory? Sure. They argued that if a health care plan changes significantly, then it isn’t the plan you originally bought. And it is common in a variety of contexts for something that is grandfathered to lose that status if it is changed significantly. But there are several problems with the Democrats’ theory: First, it was entirely different from the assurances Obama gave the American people. You may like your insurance perfectly well after a modest change; you may like it better. But that is irrelevant: if the Obama administration thinks your coverage has changed materially, you lose it. Period. Second, it isn’t true that plans lose their grandfathered status only if they are changed in a major way. For example, if there is any increase in the co-insurance rate, no matter how small, the plan terminates.
Even more significant is the fact that under the administration’s regulations, the plan may stay exactly the same, but if one insurance carrier replaces another, the plan loses its grandfathered status and terminates. The effect of this provision is to eliminate competition and make it less attractive, over time, to maintain pre-existing plans. The Republicans read several letters from business groups into the record, at least one of which pointed out the importance of this provision.
Finally, it should be noted that John McCain, now the bete noire of some activists, weighed in powerfully against the administration’s Obamacare rules. Among other things, he pointed out that they do not apply to unions. They can negotiate changes in the pre-Obamacare plans that cover their members without having them terminate. This is one of the weird features of gangster government: the administration passes terrible laws, and then excuses its friends from complying with them. Let’s turn the floor over to McCain:
Mr. ENZI: According to the administration, in small businesses, 80 percent of the people–unless this [Republican resolution] is passed–will lose the insurance they have and like, and in all businesses 69 percent will. Those are not my numbers; those are the administration’s numbers.
Mr. McCAIN: But isn’t it also true that is the case for small business and people and entrepreneurs all over America except the unions? Isn’t that true? Isn’t this a carve-out again, part of this sleaze that went into putting this bill together, part of the “Cornhusker kickback,” the “Louisiana purchase,” the buying of PhRMA–all that went into this–the “negotiations” that were going to take place on C-SPAN that the President said during the Presidential campaign that went from one sweetheart deal cut to another. Part of one of those sweetheart deals was the unions are exempt; is that correct?
Mr. ENZI. That is correct.
So it’s the usual toxic stew of lies, corruption and incompetence that we have come to expect from Barack Obama. But one last point should not go unmentioned: where has the press been in all of this? As of 2010, it was blindingly obvious–was baldly stated by the Obama administration itself–that under Obamacare, far from being permitted to keep your health care coverage if you like it, most Americans’ policies would speedily be terminated, and all would soon cease to exist. Given the dozens of misrepresentations by Barack Obama and other members of his administration, and given the entirely dishonest basis on which Obamacare was rammed through the Democratic Congress without a single Republican vote, and given that Republicans’ warnings were indisputably coming true–was there not a news story here? How can it be that three more years went by before our one-party media thought to mention what happened back in 2010? One can only imagine how the 2012 election might have been different if the electorate had understood that Obamacare was sold on a scaffold of lies.
Not great analysis, but not much worse than anyone else's picks. Tomorrow is Chris Christie Day. Marco Rubio's stock is currently down because of the immigration fiasco. (I would not rule him out!) The attacks on Ted Cruz perhaps help Rand Paul to look more electable. I don't see Scott Walker as Presidential but if he wins tomorrow it will be a third win in a deeply divided, heartland state. Santorum did not make their list.
(My list today would keep Pence and Walker as the dark horses, and Christie, Cruz, Rubio and Rand Paul as the contenders.)
Below we rank the 10 candidates most likely to wind up as the Republican presidential nominee in three years’ time. Enjoy!
10. Mike Pence: Looking for a dark horse? Try the Indiana governor. He’s a gifted communicator, liked by social and fiscal conservatives and not part of the Washington establishment.
9. Paul Ryan: There appears to be a significant dialing back of Ryan’s interest in a presidential run from even a few months ago. And, as several Republicans noted to us, the Wisconsin congressman’s really not doing much to build the beginnings of a presidential bid.
8. John Kasich: The Ohio governor needs to win reelection before he or his people will seriously entertain the possibility of another run for president. But let’s say Kasich wins. He’s a two-term governor of a Midwestern swing state who spent time in Washington — a long time ago — in Congress as the head of the House Budget Committee. That’s not a bad starting place.
7. Bobby Jindal: Several people we talked to suggested that we drop the Louisiana governor below Kasich in our rankings. But Jindal has the next year to continue to organize a presidential bid, while Kasich needs to keep both eyes on his reelection. That’s enough for us to give Jindal a slight edge. Jindal is quite clearly trying to position himself as the “ideas guy” in the field, also known as the Newton Leroy Gingrich Memorial Slot.
6. Marco Rubio: The problem for the senator from Florida is that his work to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill through the Senate has damaged him within the party base — and, because the legislation remains mired in the House, he has nothing to show for it. Sign of the times? A poll by WMUR in New Hampshire showed Rubio in sixth place in the state’s primary field, tied with Rick Santorum. Oomph.
5. Jeb Bush: The holding pattern continues. If he runs, Bush may replace Christie as the Clinton figure in the field. But no one knows what he is going to do — and he isn’t talking much about it.
4. Scott Walker: The Wisconsin governor is in a similar position to Kasich. He has a very strong case to make for 2016 if he can get through his 2014 reelection race. Walker has proved himself — in his 2010 election and his 2011 recall election — to be a very able politician, so we have our doubts about Democratic claims that he may be vulnerable next November.
3. Ted Cruz: If the Iowa caucuses were held today, the senator from Texas would win. But they won’t be held today. Therein lies the fundamental question at the heart of Cruz’s increasingly likely candidacy: Can he sustain the energy and passion that the tea party base of the GOP has for him over the next two-plus years?
2. Rand Paul: Cruz’s ascension as the face of the tea party movement may actually make it more likely that the senator from Kentucky winds up as the nominee. If Cruz is seen as the most ideological of the top tier of candidates, Paul can cast himself as the most electable hybrid conservative — someone whom conservatives can feel good about and who can expand the GOP’s shrinking electoral map.
1. Chris Christie: No one has had a better 2013. The only question for Christie is whether the power center of the party has moved so far toward the tea party that — with his focus on pragmatism over principle and winning over all else — he simply cannot be its choice.
It’s somewhat slower than we expected at the start of the year, but we still expect an acceleration in 2014-15 given loose monetary policy, a downward trend in government spending (relative to GDP), explosive new technology, record high corporate profits, and a forceful housing recovery.
Actual growth was lower than forecasts for this year, but for next year we expect forecasts to be higher than actual growth.
I think this is part of the argument against ethanol, wind, solar subsidies. By definition, you pay more (willingly) for a source other than lowest cost power, that will work when the grid is down. Undermining and distorting the free market is not how you bring down those prices.
My experience with a gasoline generator is that you run out of gas very quickly and stations require electricity to pump gas. Wind and solar tend to small in output and weather dependent. In this part of the country where we have severe winters and natural gas pipelines to nearly everyone, a natural gas backup system seems far more useful. Blackouts have tended to happen during the air conditioning season or as the result of storms. But if a grid attack or failure happened in winter, most people don't seem to realize their natural gas furnace requires electricity to operate.
I remember the first time I heard Psalm 23 spoken was at a funeral for someone who very unexpectedly died over a weekend where I was doing some part time work. He died suddenly of a heart attack without warning. No one could believe it. It was in a Catholic hospital near where I lived.
I went to the afternoon service at the Chapel because he had been kind to me. It would have been 1980 or 1981. Being Jewish I never heard those words before. The power of those words struck me immediately and now 32 years later I still vividly recall the Priest reciting those words with elevated volume tone and conviction. Their power just vibrated through my senses. I don't remember anything else that was said - just those words!
Powerful and beautiful stuff. Cut through my different religious background like water can cut through pure rock.
Thanks CCP. This goes back to David, King of Israel roughly 1000 BC. I read this at my father's Christian funeral. I believe you will find it in Jewish teachings as well.
Krauthammer is very sharp, no doubt. Great insights. But like everyone else right now he seems to have no idea what the way out of this mess is.
In the Stewart conversation he left the impression that welfare state programs were an unequivocal success. That can't be his view. No intelligent person on the right can see good from those without also seeing irreparable damage done to our society. Maybe he can explain what he meant. I think what he is saying is that a winning candidate on the right will reform these programs, not end them. Conservatives accept a safety net, just not one this large and distorted.
He explains the recent Ted Cruz v. establishment split on the right quite well. We all are want to end Obamacare, but disagree on the tactics. That is not a huge philosophical divide to bridge.
What I don't understand and didn't hear from the so-called more reasonable voices on the right, such as the WSJ editorials, CK, and Rove-type establishment figures is just how they will end Obamacare if not through de-funding. Even as it implodes, we only have the votes to de-fund, not repeal. When will we have 60 votes in the Senate, control of the White House, control of the House simultaneously to repeal as Dems did to deem it passed? This will all happen either never, or after Republicans sound like liberals, or else too late to stop an entrenched program that million hundreds(?) are counting on for their health care.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou annointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.