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4451  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Govt programs, spending, deficit, budget process: Only Obama can Default on: October 09, 2013, 10:08:09 AM
First we know that the 17% government shutdown is entirely the making of the Democrats refusing to delay the parts of Obamacare by one year that they have not already delayed by one year.

Second is the so called debt ceiling default.  The Occupier of the Oval Office says we must pay our obligations.   In fact, that is written in the constitution, not a partisan issue, see below.  What he really is saying with his analogies is that the credit committee of your bank MUST raise your credit limit because of the spending decisions you have already made.  We all know it doesn't work that way in the real world.  You pay fees and penalties when you go past your credit limit, and they profit from your irresponsibility.

In a previous post, we learned from G M / CBO that it would take the equivalent of 11% cuts of all non-interest spending for 25 years to get debt down to where it was at the start of the Obama administration.  Assuming OMB and POTUS read CBO, wouldn't you think there would be some talk right now about where to cut now that the tax rate increases are all in place, assuming some level of fiscal responsibility is the goal.  They aren't and it isn't.

Does a serious leader really not have a contingency plan?

Meanwhile over at the Republican majority House we have potential co-conspirators, well intended with questionable backbones, negotiating with themselves over what involvement they would like in this generational theft crime in progress.  They know they get blamed for shutdowns, and they know they will be blamed for the default - by those self-appointed to assess blame across mainstream print and airwaves.  Somewhere down deep they also know right from wrong.

Is default what happens next if there was no hike in the debt ceiling?  No.  Not if the President carries out his constitutional responsibilities.

The federal government spends $16.7 billion a day and takes in about $14 billion a day in cash receipts, implying an average daily borrowing requirement of about $2.7 billion.  Quite simply, without a credit limit increase, the US government would have to get by on current revenues, like everyone else at the end of their credit line.  Revenues would have to drop by 90% before we would be unable to pay the interest on current debt.

Leaving the debt ceiling in place is just a forced spending cut.  A rather abrupt one that one might think would force big spenders into negotiations.

Another point well covered on these pages is that we don't immediately borrow to cover what we print or issue in currency anyway.  The amount of currency and debt we actually issue to enable the spenders is determined by the Keynesians in charge over at the Fed.  Speaking of enablers, see today's new appointment.  Also see the talk of quantitative tapering versus not tapering in recent discussions.  These are not congressional issues in the eyes of these appointees.

The Federal Government Can’t, and Won’t, Default on Its Debt Obligations

One remarkable aspect of the shutdown/debt limit battle is the irresponsibility (on the part of the Obama administration) and incompetence (on the part of the news media) concerning the claim that the federal government will default on its debt obligations if Congress fails to raise the debt limit. President Obama and his minions have clearly suggested that default is a real possibility:

    “As reckless as a government shutdown is … an economic shutdown that results from default would be dramatically worse,” Obama said on Thursday. Clearly targeting Republicans, he said a default would be “the height of irresponsibility.”

    Then, on the same day, Obama’s Treasury Department released a brutal statement that said a default would prove catastrophic, causing credit markets to freeze and leading to “a financial crisis and recession that could echo the events of 2008 or worse.”

Within the last few hours, Obama repeated that Congress must “remove the threat of default and vote to raise the debt ceiling.”

But there is no threat of default. Constitutionally, the federal government must pay its debts. The Fourteenth Amendment, Section 4, states:

    The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

I believe this provision is universally understood to mean that the federal government must pay its debt obligations, both principal and interest, even if that means prioritizing debt service over other government spending. So the question is, if Congress does not raise the current debt ceiling, will the federal government run out of money needed to pay its existing debts? The answer is clearly No. A reader supplies the math:

    On average the federal government’s daily expenditures are about $16.7 billion; receipts are about $14 billion, implying an average daily borrowing requirement of about $2.7 billion. So the planned flow of revenues is now about $650 billion less than the planned flow of expenses…about $2.7 billion a [business] day, $650 billion annually.

    So the “default” scenarios are bogus. Interest on the $16 trillion in debt is covered by a factor of about 10x by revenues! That puts the federal government deep into AAA land. Revenues would have to fall by a staggering 90% to jeopardize interest payments.

And, of course, retiring principal by “rolling over” maturing debt can never require an increase in the debt ceiling, since there is no net increase in the nation’s debt, even if the money used to repay the original principal is borrowed.

So what will actually happen if Congress doesn’t increase the debt ceiling by approximately October 17? The government’s debt obligations will be paid, but reductions in other spending will start to become necessary. In effect, leaving the debt ceiling as is would function as a spending cut. This is why the Democrats hate the idea so much. They know there is zero chance of default, but they are horrified at the prospect that voters and taxpayers may find out that there is a relatively simple way to bring about spending reductions that would create, in effect, a balanced budget. Hence the hysteria.

To be fair, some Republicans, including John Boehner, have also made public statements that support the plausibility of the default threat. Don’t ask me why. Others, like Rand Paul on yesterday’s Meet the Press, have tried to set the record straight:

    NBC: Very quickly before I let you go. As you well know, there is a debt ceiling vote on the horizon. Will Republicans let this country go into default?

    SEN. PAUL: I think it’s irresponsible of the president and his men to even talk about default. There is no reason for us to default. We bring in $250 billion in taxes every month, our interest payment is $20 billion. Tell me why we would ever default. We have legislation called the full faith and credit act and it tells the president, you must pay the interest on the debt. So this is a game. This is kind of like closing the World War II memorial. They all get out on TV and they say, we’re going to default. They’re the ones scaring the marketplace. We should never default.

The NBC reporter, Savannah Guthrie, apparently knew all along that talk about default is nonsense, because she immediately came back with this:

    NBC: Let’s say you pay the interest on the debt and you don’t have a technical default. Wouldn’t there be dramatic consequences on the economy, anyway, the spirit of it?

There is only one kind of default: the “technical” kind. Cutting spending is not some other, “non-technical” type of default. And as for the impact on the economy, many economists believe that getting government spending under control is the best thing we can do to boost economic growth.

So next time you hear hysterical talk about default on the news, remember that those who raise the default specter either have no idea what they are talking about, or are trying to fool the uninformed.

4452  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economy, Salt and Pepper on: October 09, 2013, 09:23:48 AM

A picture equals a thousand Wesbury words.   wink

The Plowhorse's strength is matched against the load it is pulling.  Currently 144 million (45%) of 317 million Americans work, 55% don't.  That ratio is getting worse.  More than 90 million Americans, 16 and up, are now not working, soon to pass 100 million if our economic policies continue or worsen.  Only 11 million of 90 million, 16 and up, not working count as "unemployed", hence the 7.3% figure. 
4453  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / America under Glibness - Hey, does anyone else smell something burning? on: October 07, 2013, 10:32:53 PM
Great line summing up the effects of the Obama Presidency and liberal governance in general - from G M's Niall Furgeson 'Debt is the Threat' post over on the programs-spending-deficit-debt thread:

Hey, does anyone else smell something burning?
4454  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential - Scott Walker on: October 07, 2013, 11:19:51 AM
The results of the reelection attempts of Governors John Hickenlooper, Democrat in Colorado and Scott Walker, Republican in Wisconsin, will play a role in determining what cast of characters will be competing for high office in 2016.  Chris Christie will presumably be a second term Governor in a politically divided state by then as well.

This piece discusses Scott Walker who perhaps fills a space in between Chris Christie and the names that come up out of congress.
4455  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Will Clinton run as a 'Clinton Democrat'? on: October 07, 2013, 11:06:26 AM
Interesting piece that questions the positioning strategy of Hillary if she decides to run.  Recall the Bill Clinton ran as centrist Democrat and brags now of the accomplishments that arose out his governing partnership with a Republican congress.  But when Hillary leaned just ever so  slightly to the middle in 2007-2008 she got run over by the left wing of her party.
4456  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Steven Hayward, Behind the Curtain at the UN IPCC on: October 07, 2013, 10:34:39 AM
Read it all at the Weekly Standard:

Pay No Attention to the Bad Data
Behind the curtain at the IPCC.
Oct 14, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 06 • By STEVEN F. HAYWARD

Thought experiment: Imagine you are a national security reporter, covering the release of a massive, 2,000-page report on domestic intelligence gathering activities and future threat assessment from the National Security Agency. But instead of issuing the full report, the NSA issues a 30-page “Summary for Policymakers” (SPM) written by political appointees at the Justice Department, promising that the full 2,000-page report will be released a few days later. Would you print a front-page story based only on the 30-page summary, or would you demand to see the full report?

If you’d go with the politically massaged summary, then congratulations​—​you too can be an environmental reporter. Because that’s exactly what the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) did on Friday, September 27, in Stockholm, releasing only the SPM while withholding the full report. And the media played along, generating predictable headlines over the weekend about the increasing certainty of climate scientists that humans are warming the world.

To be fair, if they had waited until Monday’s release of the full Working Group I report on the current state of climate science, they’d have had to make sense of a jargon-filled report that Dutch scientist Arthur Petersen told the BBC “is virtually unreadable!” Churchill once quipped about a massive bureaucratic report that “by its very length, it defends itself against the risk of being read.” The IPCC appears to be following this example.

It is important to understand that the IPCC report is not an original scientific inquiry but a wide-ranging literature review and “synthesis.” The technical nature of climate science is such that only other scientists can possibly follow it, and even that is doubtful, as the specialized nature of so many aspects of climate science is beyond the grasp of scientists who work in widely scattered subfields. Whether the domain of climate science can be “synthesized” in this way is a debatable question.

A close reading of some of the key passages shows that it cannot bear the weight of the sensationalized parts of the SPM, at least as rendered in the media. One of the most misleading aspects of this story is the way in which the SPM conveys a “95 percent confidence” or certainty of its findings, as though this figure represented a rigorous or robust test familiar to first-year students of statistical correlation. The IPCC’s methodology behind these conclusions is thoroughly opaque. When you strip away the fog, the IPCC admits these conclusions are “qualitative,” and based essentially on a poll of the self-selecting participants in the IPCC review process itself.

This is like polling the Romney campaign staff about how confident they are their candidate will win the election, and representing it as
the firm “consensus” of all political scientists. The IPCC’s main report finally admits that the methodology for their confidence calibrations is derived from social science, and that “confidence should not be interpreted probabilistically, and it is distinct from ‘statistical confidence.’ ” You won’t see this admission reflected in any of the breathless news reports about the IPCC’s high confidence of our future doom.

The late James Q. Wilson argued that social scientists should quit trying to predict the future because they can’t predict the past. The climate science community might heed this advice. While the domain of climate science is highly complex, the heart of the enterprise is the calibration of climate models to explain the modest warming we have observed, mostly from 1960-98, which in turn is supposed to enable us to predict the future. Much was made in the media in recent weeks of how some governments were pressuring the IPCC to offer an explanation of the current 15-year “pause” in warming that is confounding the models. (This raises a curious question: Why do we need a “Summary for Policymakers” if policymakers determine what’s emphasized in the summary? Clearly the SPM should be called by its true name: Summary for Headline Writers.) The “pause” is glossed over in the SPM, because the underlying chapters in the full report do their best to skip over this inconvenient fact.

This conundrum is what makes Chapter 9 of the full report (“Evaluation of Climate Models”) fascinating reading. Out of the dense prose a reader can make out increasing confidence that by twisting the computer knobs (called “parameterizing”) we can match up models to the observed temperature record and other empirical data on clouds, oceans, and a multitude of other variables. But there are admissions of serious limitations of the models. Many of the models still produce results that match up poorly with the observational data, and some aspects of the models can’t be validated at all. The IPCC can’t even agree on a method for singling out the most accurate models. Our understanding of clouds​—​one of the most important variables for understanding climate​—​remains very low: “There remain significant errors on the model simulation of clouds,” the chapter says. Among other problems, our grasp of what’s going on in the oceans is still severely limited, and our ability to simulate the dynamics of the Amazonian basin is very poor.

But more important is the carefully worded concession that all this computer knob-twisting to make the models match the temperature record may not work for the future​—​or the past. An early draft of Chapter 9 included this startling sentence: “The ability of a climate model to make future climate projections cannot be directly evaluated.” This has been dropped from the final draft; now the chapter includes an embarrassing excuse for the failure of the models to match up with the current temperature “pause”: “[T]hese projections were not intended to be predictions over the short time scales for which observations are available to date.” Translation: Pay no attention to our models behind the curtain; just trust our judgment that the end is nigh.

The 12 chapters of the report are full of anomalous findings and admissions of scientific weaknesses that are not reflected in the SPM. Not to worry: the report is not final. The fine print on the IPCC’s website says that “following copy-editing, layout, final checks for errors, and adjustments for changes for consistency with the Summary for Policy-makers, it will be published online in January.” (My emphasis.)

In other words, this supposedly authoritative product of international scientific consensus will be reverse-engineered to match up with the politically determined SPM. No wonder skepticism of the climate science community is on the rise.

Steven F. Hayward is the visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
4457  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Test of Sowell article on: October 07, 2013, 10:01:13 AM
Yes Sowell hits the nail on the head.   Now we need a small army of mouthpieces to hit the airwaves everywhere to make these same talking points ala the Clinton spin machine.

Yes!  Sowell spells out so clearly what I and others have been struggling to express.  Here is the text of that column in its entirety - Hat tip Crafty.

 Who Shut Down the Government?

By Thomas Sowell

Even when it comes to something as basic, and apparently as simple and straightforward, as the question of who shut down the federal government, there are diametrically opposite answers, depending on whether you talk to Democrats or to Republicans.

There is really nothing complicated about the facts. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted all the money required to keep all government activities going — except for ObamaCare.

This is not a matter of opinion. You can check the Congressional Record.

As for the House of Representatives' right to grant or withhold money, that is not a matter of opinion either. You can check the Constitution of the United States. All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which means that Congressmen there have a right to decide whether or not they want to spend money on a particular government activity.

Whether ObamaCare is good, bad or indifferent is a matter of opinion. But it is a matter of fact that members of the House of Representatives have a right to make spending decisions based on their opinion.

ObamaCare is indeed "the law of the land," as its supporters keep saying, and the Supreme Court has upheld its Constitutionality.

But the whole point of having a division of powers within the federal government is that each branch can decide independently what it wants to do or not do, regardless of what the other branches do, when exercising the powers specifically granted to that branch by the Constitution.

The hundreds of thousands of government workers who have been laid off are not idle because the House of Representatives did not vote enough money to pay their salaries or the other expenses of their agencies — unless they are in an agency that would administer ObamaCare.

Since we cannot read minds, we cannot say who — if anybody — "wants to shut down the government." But we do know who had the option to keep the government running and chose not to. The money voted by the House of Representatives covered everything that the government does, except for ObamaCare.

The Senate chose not to vote to authorize that money to be spent, because it did not include money for ObamaCare. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that he wants a "clean" bill from the House of Representatives, and some in the media keep repeating the word "clean" like a mantra. But what is unclean about not giving Harry Reid everything he wants?

If Senator Reid and President Obama refuse to accept the money required to run the government, because it leaves out the money they want to run ObamaCare, that is their right. But that is also their responsibility.

You cannot blame other people for not giving you everything you want. And it is a fraud to blame them when you refuse to use the money they did vote, even when it is ample to pay for everything else in the government.

When Barack Obama keeps claiming that it is some new outrage for those who control the money to try to change government policy by granting or withholding money, that is simply a bald-faced lie. You can check the history of other examples of "legislation by appropriation" as it used to be called.

Whether legislation by appropriation is a good idea or a bad idea is a matter of opinion. But whether it is both legal and not unprecedented is a matter of fact.

Perhaps the biggest of the big lies is that the government will not be able to pay what it owes on the national debt, creating a danger of default. Tax money keeps coming into the Treasury during the shutdown, and it vastly exceeds the interest that has to be paid on the national debt.

Even if the debt ceiling is not lifted, that only means that government is not allowed to run up new debt. But that does not mean that it is unable to pay the interest on existing debt.

None of this is rocket science. But unless the Republicans get their side of the story out — and articulation has never been their strong suit — the lies will win. More important, the whole country will lose.
4458  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed, Constitutional Law, money and speech on: October 07, 2013, 09:51:23 AM
Bigdog has made the point from time to time that conservatives too like to bend the constitution to meet their needs.  Obviously money is not speech in the precise words of the framers.  Nor is your ability to travel to your speech. 

But if those are not enumerated rights, wouldn't they most certainly be unenumerated rights?  The government does not owe you a car, a driver's license, a podium, microphone or an hour of television time to accommodate your speech, but certainly they can not curtail your mobility for the sole reason that your travel is related to political speech.  If you have the right and the ability to spend unlimited money on television time to sell laundry soap, certainly you have the right to do the same for political speech.

Speaking of laws unenforced, what law prevents IRS targeting, the official act of bureaucrats and political conspiracies choosing which political speech to limit in order to swing political elections?  I would argue is banned in the equal protection clauses.  And whose constitutional responsibility is it to enforce these protections?  I would argue it is the executive branch, most likely in the duties of the Attorney General of the United States.  What are the consequence of the executive branch not enforcing our laws?  None.  In fact, if you attack them they will spend unlimited amounts of their money and also public resources to come and destroy you.  And you cannot spend unlimited amounts of money fighting back.  Tyranny, and it all started with the people and their representatives ignoring the words and spirit of our founding documents.
4459  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Obama said. So it must be so. on: October 07, 2013, 12:28:29 AM
Obama said he is offended by the Redskins name.

Well I'm offended by the "giants" name.  I am not that tall so that has got to go.

I'm offended by the "Viking" name.  Vikings were rapists, murderers, thieves, and plunderers.

What about the New Orleans "saints' .  This offends me.  I am Jewish but I don't see any team named after "menches".

The "buccaneers?"   Weren't they pirates thieves, liars, con artists, and in general low lives?

The Houston Oilers really pisses me off.  Oil is destroying our planet.  Better name them the windmills.

And the "patriots?"   Why they were all slave holders!

I want them all changed.  I am one person who is offended!  What is going on here?  

Very funny!  My red-haired daughter gets quite red-skinned after sunshine exposure or exercise.  Maybe she is offended too.

One of the naming controversies related to one of America's great hockey colleges, formerly known as the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, 8-time NCAA champions.  They lost the mascot, but shouldn't they lose the school and state names too.  Sioux is native American and Dakota is not??  I suppose 'North' is judgmental too!  We are left with no names and I suppose no scores either.  Those can be most offensive.
4460  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: October 06, 2013, 11:43:27 PM
"But do I want political speech?" Defined as speech or "speech"? The phrase "money talks" is not literal. If money is speech, why all the concern over George Soros's "speech"? Or is it, like you suggest, in effect that laws are in the eyes of the beholder?

Future congress's are not bound by the 1974 Budget Act or the ACA. But I repeat: Until a law is repealed or superceded, it is binding, is it not?

"We are a nation strangling in laws.  If you asked me if we should be a nation of far fewer laws, where all of them conform with a careful reading of the letter and spirit of our constitutional limits...". I don't think we disagree here. In fact, as you might recall, I've posted several times about the hopes that Congress would meet its constitutional requirements rather than delegating power to the president (whomever that may be... is this where we differ?).

Bigdog, good stuff.  I was out vacationing on the shores of mighty Lake Superior, seeing peak colors of autumn and other of nature's magnificent wonders.

Where I wrote 'political speech' I meant 'unlimited political speech' which I think you correctly interpreted to mean I was questioning or favoring unlimited money in political speech at least in the case of legitimate players, citizens and their associations and representatives.  I have to look into the point about George Soros.  What I see is that he is an American citizen since 1961 which means I think he is a legitimate political player with all recognized rights.  Just misguided.

Money is speech in this sense:  If you look backward over the last quarter century or more, I'm sure every serious US Senate candidate in every state would tell that the additional political speech that can make a difference in their election is measured in dollars needed to buy enough television time to get out their message out to their potential voters.  Talking to yourself or in an unpublicized, unreported event doesn't do it.  I sense you disagree so this is a big topic of its own, perhaps for another day.

BD: "Future congress's are not bound by the 1974 Budget Act or the ACA. But I repeat: Until a law is repealed or superceded, it is binding, is it not?"

On the first part, I think you are confirming my original point.  And what I am asking is, what can we point to in the constitution to show that this congress is not bound by those acts of previous congresses?

On the second part of that point, I'm not sure what you mean.  It is still a law; the 1974 Budget Act wasn't repealed or superceded, but it was ignored.  I think we are both saying that the 93rd and 111th Congresses cannot bind the actions and spending of 113th Congress. 

Relating to fewer laws with closer observance to constitutional limits, BD wrote: "I don't think we disagree here. In fact, as you might recall, I've posted several times about the hopes that Congress would meet its constitutional requirements rather than delegating power to the president (whomever that may be... is this where we differ?)."

No, I think we agree there as well.  The IRS is writing tax laws, EPA is writing environmental laws, the ACA is giving "Secretary" all this discretionary, law making power.  These are all congressional powers and constitutional responsibilities and it is wrong that they are given to or taken by these agencies of the executive branch.  The question of how to end those wrongful practices is one of the great challenges we face.
4461  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: October 03, 2013, 07:35:00 AM
I don't think that you really want unlimited free speech, no matter what the exact wording of the Constitution may be. Libel? Slander? Child pornography? I'll take the limitations.  

I'll take those limitations too.  But do I want political speech?  Yes, as long as I don't have to listen to it all. I to understand that your primary argument is that since other laws are ignored/not enforced, the nation as a whole should be become scofflaws?

No, and I see it appears that way.  My primary argument is what I stated first, rephrased here, is that the jurisdiction of the 111th Congress when it comes to appropriations should be to pass laws about how money will be spent during their time in temporary, limited, constitutional power, not attempting as they did to bind future congresses to their priorities.

I think they confuse their laws with constitutional provisions and amendments.  If the 1974 Budget Act that requires the first Senate budget for Oct. 1 to be passed by May 15 was to be binding on Harry Reid in 2009-2013 for example, then it should have been passed as a constitutional amendment under a wholly different process.

I rephrase my question: should we not be a nation of law?

We are a nation strangling in laws.  If you asked me if we should be a nation of far fewer laws, where all of them conform with a careful reading of the letter and spirit of our constitutional limits on federal powers, then I would wholeheartedly agree.  Back to ACA and the idea that a one-time, simple and temporary majority shall forever control its citizens with forced appropriations and over 27,000 pages of law detailing the most personal and minute aspects of our lives, shall we be a nation of tyranny?  I say No.  

Congress has the power of appropriations and that power is checked and renewed with every election, IMHO.
4462  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: October 03, 2013, 01:01:24 AM
Doug is wondering why a law would require an action. Until a law is repealed or superceded, it is binding, is it not?

Thanks for the response.  I agree that a valid law regulating or prohibiting or an activity is still in force until repealed, but is it lawful for one congress to require future congresses to spend future monies?  I think not.  The 111th Congress should not / cannot determine the spending priorities of the 113th Congress.  That has no semblance of consent of the governed IMHO.  The electorate changes and in this case so did control of one body of Congress.   If the outcome is pre-determined, why is a vote on re-authorization required?  And when a CR or budget is not passed, why does spending stop instead of continue based on un-repealed law?

[/quote]"If we are not a country of the rule of law, what are we? Since when are laws not binding?"[/quote]

Law that may not be binding:

1.  Immigration laws strictly control entry, length and purpose of visit, etc.  Now we have sanctuary cities, states, even a whole nation not subject to immigration laws,, and a President granting amnesty and citizenship without a bill from congress.

2. Border Protection, Anti-terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 required 700 miles of fence to be built.  How is that going?

3.  The War Powers Resolution of 1973 is a federal law restricting the president's power to commit the United States to an armed conflict .  Was this followed consistently, in Kosovo?  Belgrade?  Libya?

4.  Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech?  Yet campaign finance laws are loaded with abridgement.

5.  ... the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

6.  Federal Marijuana Laws.  Possession Any amount (first offense) misdemeanor, 1 year    $1,000 max fine...  No federal challenge to pot legalization in two states. 

7.  Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 requires the Senate to pass its first budget by May 15.  Is that Sen. Reid in the orange jump suit??

8.  The Affordable Care Act calls for the employer mandate to go into effect Jan 1 2014.  The President unilaterally changed a passed law. 

9.  Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade decisions recognize the Right of Privacy as the law of the land.  ACA tromps all over personal privacy.

10. Eric Holder was held in Contempt of Congress?  No arrest, no penalty. 

Are we a nation of laws?  It depends on which side is asking.
4463  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ACORN Obamacare 'Navigators', corruption etc. on: October 02, 2013, 01:57:09 PM
The overlap and data share between these groups is so obvious IMO that no one hardly bothers to investigate or report on it:

The workforce that did the census, asked every person what programs they are on and how much they make, whether the kids go to daycare etc., and the people that come back to work the neighborhoods for Obamacare, and the people that used to do community action for ACORN and the people that worked the street on voter identification, registering and getting out the vote for Obama and all the local liberals - these people tend to be one and the same. It is RICO level corruption that these people pay each other salaries to go out and find out everything about you and then use that data to know exactly who to contact politically to elect and re-elect all the people who build and continue these programs.

It takes a far-right publication to even be suspicious about the connection.

ACORN Crooks on the March for Obamacare

A corrupt union ringleader who orchestrated massive campaigns involving identity fraud in furtherance of voter fraud and who covered up a million-dollar embezzlement involving pension funds will soon have unfettered access to confidential information on thousands of people seeking health insurance.

The union thug is disgraced ACORN founder Wade Rathke whose shady union will soon be helping people enroll in Obamacare exchanges.

Rathke’s labor vehicle, United Labor Unions (ULU) Local 100 in New Orleans, announced on its Facebook page Sept. 15 that it was gearing up “to do mass enrollment and help navigate people into the marketplaces in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas under the Affordable Care Act!”

“Local 100′s role as a Navigator, suggest the program is less about health care and more about building a new progressive infrastructure,” says longtime ACORN-watcher Mike Flynn of

The fact that Wade Rathke, a disreputable, radical left-wing community organizer, is allowed anywhere near the enrollment process ought to give all Americans pause. The only reason Rathke hasn’t been federally investigated for racketeering is because his allies control the federal law enforcement apparatus. President Obama pretends he has no connection to ACORN and Attorney General Eric Holder doesn’t care what laws have been broken because he approves of ACORN’s goals.

Of course, ACORN and the labor movement go way back. In 1979, ACORN created the United Labor Unions, which it used to organize low-wage, fast-food, and home healthcare workers in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas.

Yes, that’s President Obama’s former employer, ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

ACORN is the nonprofit group that knowingly hired felons convicted of identity theft to work on voter registration drives, giving them custody of sensitive voter information.

As I showed in my ACORN/Obama expose, Subversion Inc., ACORN is also infamous for hiring felons without bothering to do background checks, storming hospital emergency rooms and city council chambers, using voter fraud to turn graveyards across the nation into Democratic electoral strongholds, using mob violence against bank executives and other shakedown targets, and for ruthlessly exploiting its own employees and going to court to seek an exemption from minimum wage laws.

The 400,000-member organization, which filed for bankruptcy almost three years ago, was the nation’s preeminent Saul Alinsky-inspired street protest group — and the creepiest by far.

There are so many reasons why anyone connected to ACORN, especially the sleazy, smooth-talking, neo-communist con man Wade Rathke, cannot be trusted.

Dale Rathke, younger brother of Wade Rathke, stole a bit over $948,000 from ACORN in 1999 and 2000. Some of the money came from pension funds. Wade covered up the theft until it was discovered in mid-2008 at which point ACORN’s national board fired him and stifled an internal investigation into the crimes. With the richly deserved adverse publicity, grants from foundations began to dry up. ACORN filed bankruptcy on Election Day 2010.

The undercover videos shot by James O’Keefe III and Hannah Giles in 2009 that showed ACORN employees giving helpful advice on how to lie to the government, commit tax fraud, and trick banks into providing loans for brothels, helped kill off the group. That year Congress, which had given ACORN about $79 million in grants over the years, approved a law removing ACORN from the public teat.

It’s not that easy to get booted out of SEIU, America’s preeminent radical union, but somehow the ACORN-controlled Local 100 managed to do it.

As an SEIU official told me in October 2009, Local 100, which affiliated with SEIU in the mid 1980s, had its charter revoked by SEIU headquarters in September 2009. The bargaining unit was “not financially viable” and “simply couldn’t meet requirements to be a stand alone union,” she said without elaborating.

Given who’s running ULU, it is a foregone conclusion that ULU activists will abuse the sensitive financial, medical, and demographic information they take from vulnerable Americans, using the data for community organizing and partisan political advantage. That’s how Rathke operated over the 38 years that he headed ACORN.

Among the other left-wing organizations riding the Obamacare navigator gravy train are the Democrat-friendly groups Planned Parenthood, National Urban League, and Virginia Poverty Law Center Inc.

Many left-wing groups have not signed contracts with HHS or received government grants to enroll new patients but have nonetheless pledged to help promote the exchanges being created under Obamacare. Each recognized “Champion of Coverage” group vows to promote enrollment by emailing its members, hanging posters or giving out fact sheets and brochures, holding a conference call, or promoting enrollment in other ways.

Among the Champions of Coverage are Americans United for Change, Enroll America, Families USA, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), NAACP, MomsRising, Service Employees International Union, U.S. PIRG Education Fund, and Young Invincibles (Center for Community Change).

Enrollment will be a dangerous free-for-all because Obamacare “navigators” are barely regulated at all. By the way, the only reason there are any “navigators” is to help the Left, as Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has more or less admitted. Imposing rules would only interfere with community organizers’ ability to wreak havoc and spread the gospel of so-called social justice.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican office holder who is painfully aware of ACORN’s antics over the years, warns that the Obamacare navigator program, like all of Obamacare, is deeply flawed.

“‘Navigator’ is a crafty name, but in reality, there are very few restrictions on who they are, and what exactly they are supposed to be doing,” Jindal says. “‘Navigators’ are supposed to be hired to help consumers understand the law and the insurance coverage provisions in the new health exchanges. Sounds like a job for a rocket scientist.”

“The ‘navigators’ are prohibited from having financial ties to an insurance company, but other than that there are few constraints. Union organizers and community activists are among the types that are allowed to be hired as ‘navigators’, and having prior experience working in the health care field doesn’t seem to necessarily be a pre-requisite for the job. I wonder what percentage of these ‘navigators’ will be partisan Democrats?”

The navigators will have to undertake a mere 20 hours of online training, “which will apparently make them experts on the 1,000 page ObamaCare bill.”

These community organizers will have access to “social security numbers and tax information” and HHS isn’t even planning on running background checks before sending them out into the field. “Besides the obvious identity theft concerns, this is a frightening development in light of the political activities and invasion of privacy, which the IRS and others have engaged in during the Obama presidency,” Jindal writes.

But as we’ve learned in the Obama era, this kind of craziness is par for the course with community organizers.

HHS Secretary Sebelius previewed the Obamacare navigators program as she supplicated before racial arsonist Rev. Al Sharpton’s radical left-wing National Action Network (NAN) at its convention in the nation’s capital in April 2012. She urged activists to get into the trenches and fight for the misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) and to play Santa Claus, letting their neighbors know that the law gives them access to mountains of taxpayer-funded freebies.

“In our country what we know is health care inequality [has been] one of the most persistent forms of injustice but over the past three years, as Rev. Sharpton reminded us, we have begun to turn the tide,” Sebelius said. “Now is not the time to turn back.”

“We know that the best way to keep moving in the right direction is to get people the facts. Right now there are a lot of people who are benefiting from this law who don’t even know that’s why they are benefiting.”

“We need your help,” said the former Kansas governor, herself an accomplished shakedown artist.

Just last week President Obama picked up this statist narrative, declaring that his Soviet-style government health care scheme was all about civil rights. He expounded the ugly, neo-Marxist view that every American has the right to extract free medical care from taxpayers and unwilling providers.

“In the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one should go broke just because they get sick,” Obama bloviated. “In the United States, health care is not a privilege for the fortunate few, it is a right.”

Translation: No individual American will go broke because of Obamacare. Instead, the whole country will go broke.

And Wade Rathke’s ULU Local 100 will be at the forefront, helping to throw dirt on America’s coffin.
4464  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 100 Unintended Consequences of Obamacare - a start of a list on: October 02, 2013, 01:13:01 PM

October 1, 2013
100 Unintended Consequences of Obamacare
Companies, workers, retirees, students, and spouses all suffer from the law’s inflexible mandates.
By  Andrew Johnson

Today, Obamacare’s October 1 launch date finally arrived. Ever since its passage, supporters of the law have made countless attempts to convince the American people of its viability, dismissing predictions of lost jobs, decreased hours, and rising costs, among others.

Yet from major corporations to local mom-and-pop shops, from entire states to tiny school districts, a wide range of companies and institutions have seen Obamacare’s negative impact on their workers, budgets, and production. Here are 100 examples of how Obamacare is falling short of what was promised.

(Note: Some items on this list came via Investor’s Business Daily and the Heritage Foundation.)


1. IBM
Earlier this month, the computer giant, once famed for its paternalism, announced it would remove 110,000 of its Medicare-eligible retirees from the company’s health insurance and give them subsidies to purchase coverage through the Obamacare exchanges. Retirees fear that they will not get the level of coverage they are used to, and that the options will be bewildering.

2. Delta Air Lines
In a letter to employees, Delta Air Lines revealed that the company’s health-care costs will rise about $100 million next year alone, in large part because of Obamacare. The airline said that in addition to several other changes, it would have to drop its specially crafted insurance plans for pilots because the “Cadillac tax” on luxurious health plans has made them too expensive.

3. UPS
Fifteen thousand employees’ spouses will no longer be able to use UPS’s health-care plan because they have access to coverage elsewhere. The “costs associated with the Affordable Care Act have made it increasingly difficult to continue providing the same level of health care benefits to our employees at an affordable cost,” the delivery giant said in a company memo. The move is expected to save the company $60 million next year.

4. Caterpillar Inc.
In the law’s first year, the machinery manufacturer estimated before its passage, Obamacare would add more than $100 million in health-care costs. “We can ill afford cost increases that place us at a disadvantage versus our global competitors,” a Caterpillar executive wrote lawmakers, saying that the law would not meet the goal of providing good, inexpensive health care for all Americans.

5. SeaWorld
SeaWorld used to let part-time employees work up to 32 hours per week, but the company is dropping the limit to 28 hours to keep them under the 30-hour threshold at which it would be required to provide health insurance under Obamacare. More than 80 percent of the company’s thousands of employees are part-time and/or seasonal.

Medical-Device Tax

6. Stryker Corp.
Stryker Corp., a Michigan medical-device manufacturer, laid off about 1,000 employees earlier this year due to the Affordable Care Act’s 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices. The company estimated that the tax would cost it approximately $100 million next year. “Stryker remains significantly concerned with the upcoming medical device excise tax and its negative impact on jobs and innovation and will continue to work with Congress to try to repeal the tax,” said the company’s CEO.

7. Welch Allyn
The manufacturer announced that it will have to cut approximately 10 percent of its 2,750 employees, 275 in all, because of the medical-device tax. The company also plans to consolidate manufacturing centers, moving some operations from Beaverton, Ore., to its facility in Skaneateles Falls, N.Y.

8. Smith & Nephew
The British company informed nearly 100 employees at its Massachusetts and Tennessee facilities that they would be laid off “in order to absorb [the] cost burden” of the tax on medical devices.

Hospitals, Nonprofits

9. Cleveland Clinic, Ohio
One of the world’s best-known hospitals announced in September that it would slash jobs and up to 6 percent of its annual $6 billion budget in anticipation of costs associated with Obamacare’s implementation. A spokeswoman for the clinic announced that approximately $330 million would be cut, but she did not say how many of the 44,000 employees the clinic would let go. The Cleveland Clinic is Cleveland’s largest employer and the second-largest employer in Ohio.

10. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, North Carolina
Last November, the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, in Winston-Salem, announced that 950 full-time-equivalent positions would have to be eliminated in order to make up costs from the health-care law.

11. Orlando Health, Florida
In that same month, the Orlando Health hospital system announced the biggest staff reduction in its almost century-long history, as part of a “broader effort” to manage the effects of Obamacare, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Orlando Health will cut as many as 400 jobs across the system, in areas ranging from administrative departments to children’s hospitals.

12. Louisiana State University Hospitals
In the same article, the Sentinel noted that LSU hospitals would cut nearly 1,495 positions in order to save $150 million, apparently because of expected reductions in Medicare and Medicaid payments.

13. Delaware Hospice
Due to new interpretations of the rules for reimbursing for hospice services, Delaware Hospice, the Ocean State’s only not-for-profit hospice provider, had to let 52 employees go earlier this year. “It’s really health-care reform in action,” a spokeswoman said. “This is affecting hospices across the country. We’re working through dramatic changes in terms of the hospice-care benefits.”

14. Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, Connecticut
The New London hospital announced earlier this month that Medicare cuts programmed into Obamacare had led to the firing of 33 employees. “L+M and other hospitals are contending with massive structural changes that are happening very rapidly,” the hospital’s president and CEO said.

15. Clifton Springs Hospital, New York
Fifty-eight non-clinical employees were let go from Clifton Springs Hospital in Rochester as the hospital prepared for the changes spurred by the Affordable Care Act. “No one really knows what the impact will be because it really is a very new way for reimbursing for health care,” the hospital’s CEO told a local news station. “So I think everyone is trying to prepare for a change, and a change with less revenue.”

16. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, New Hampshire
The state’s only insurer approved to offer plans on the health-insurance exchanges in New Hampshire has cut the number of hospitals that will participate in the plan from 26 to 14 in order to reach “affordable premium levels,” according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.

17. Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, California
The nonprofit, which looks after 1,100 pre-K children at its eight Southern California child-care centers, has had to reduce the hours of dozens of employees who used to work 30 to 40 hours per week. “We’re fearful it’s going to be hard to negotiate health care in any contract,” one local labor leader said. “Overall [Obamacare] is a positive step, but on a micro level it’s not all roses.”

18. Carnegie Museum, Pennsylvania
A Pittsburgh news station reports that the Carnegie Museum “reluctantly” scaled back the hours of 48 of its 600 part-time employees to less than 30 hours a week to sidestep the mandate to provide health-care coverage.

19. Fort Smith Area Agency on Aging, Arkansas
The nonprofit revealed that all of its health aides and drivers will work a maximum of 28 hours a week, and that the plan it would offer to its remaining full-time employees would be “bare bones.” To make up for additional Obamacare costs, the organization is asking employees to take steps to save money, such as changing vehicle oil after 5,000 miles rather than 3,000.

20. Emory Healthcare, Georgia
A news station in Atlanta reports that Emory Healthcare, the state’s largest health-care system, will lay off more than 100 employees, in part because of Obamacare.

21. CoverTN, Tennessee
Thousands of Tennesseans will lose their coverage under the state’s health-insurance program because it does not meet Affordable Care Act standards for yearly expenditure caps. CoverTN, which was used mainly by small businesses, had a $25,000 yearly benefits limit. “It was all I had,” one Nashville small-business owner said.

State and Local Governments

22. State of Virginia
In February the General Assembly affirmed Governor Bob McDonnell’s decision to limit the state’s part-time employees to 29 hours per week.

23. Township of Middletown, New Jersey
Middletown has also cut the hours of 25 part-time public employees. “Any of those expenses [for insurance] are going to be passed along to the taxpayers, and so in order to avoid having to do that, we chose to modify the work hours,” said the township’s administrator.

24. Brevard County, Florida
Brevard County’s insurance director told a local television station that the county’s 300-plus part-time employees will be “capped at something less than 30” hours to save the county about $10,000 per employee in health insurance.

25. Township of Berkeley, New Jersey
The Sandy-hit Jersey Shore town said it will “take a hard line” in union negotiations in limiting part-time employees’ hours, because additional health-care costs “are out of the question.” “If it came down to shaving hours to save substantial dollars, that’s something that would have to be considered,” the township administrator said.

26. Chesterfield County, Virginia
An administrator with this southern Virginia county told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that “several hundred” part-time employees could have their hours cut back to 28. Most of the employees affected would be from the Department of Mental Health Support Services.

27. City of Lynchburg, Virginia
About 40 percent of the city’s part-time work force saw cuts to their weekly hours to ensure that their totals come in below the 30-hour threshold, according to the local News & Advance. The city’s human-resources director said some departments do not have the financial resources to add employees or raise wages to make up for the lost work time.

28. City of Mason, Ohio
Cut hours for 200 part-time workers or take a $3.4 million hit: That was the decision the southwestern Ohio city faced when it started weighing Obamacare’s impact. It opted for the former. Part-timers had regularly worked more than 30 hours, but the city manager told the JournalNews that their weekly workload has been reduced to 20 hours.

29. Township of Toms River, New Jersey
Government workers in Toms River pushing the 30-hour threshold will be bumped down to “below 25” to ensure that they are considered part-time employees, according to the Asbury Park Press. “I think this was not very well thought out,” the township’s business manager said of the Affordable Care Act. “There was this fallacy that the law provisions didn’t apply to municipal government. It sure does.”

30. Lee County, Iowa
Lee County “could be out a lot of money,” a local newspaper reported a supervisor saying, if the county doesn’t stick to its new policy of holding part-time workers to 28 hours.

31. City of Faribault, Minnesota
Employees working 30 to 38 hours per week with the Minnesota city will be bumped down to part-time status to avoid penalties and costs associated with the mandate.

32. Kansas Turnpike Authority
Three eight-hour shifts per week: That’s the new maximum schedule for part-time toll collectors in Kansas. While the state’s turnpike authority previously had part-time employees who worked more than 30 hours a week, a new policy will limit them to the new schedule.


33. University of Virginia
Because of an additional $7.3 million in health-care costs next year, the University of Virginia alerted some of its employees that it will no longer offer health insurance to their spouses.

34. Community College of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
The Pittsburgh-area community college informed about 400 part-time employees that they would see a reduction in their hours starting in January of this year to comply with Obamacare regulations. The school had to make this change a year before the law went into effect because Obamacare stipulates that the federal government must look back one year to determine an employee’s status.

35. St. Petersburg College, Florida
To avoid paying an additional $777,000 per year, St. Petersburg College told 250 adjunct professors that their hours would be cut back for upcoming terms. “I never thought it would impact me directly,” a math teacher told NBC News Investigations. “I was stunned when I got the email. . . . I love teaching at St. Pete College, but that is a significant cut.”

36. Hillsborough Community College, Florida
Hillsborough Community College may have to cut the hours of nearly 10 percent of its part-time work force, according to the Tampa Tribune. By keeping those employees under 30 hours per week, the college can avoid an additional $863,500 in total costs for health plans.

37. Hamilton Township School District, New Jersey
Substitute teachers will see their time in the classroom limited to four workdays per week, the cap set in place in June by the school district . The “strict limits” went into effect at the beginning of this school year. According to a report by the Trenton Times, other nearby districts also could consider similar provisions.

38. Purdue University, Indiana
Despite “pretty radical changes” to the university’s health-care plans for its roughly 27,000 employees, Purdue University still won’t be able to skirt $2.8 million in additional costs brought on by the Affordable Care Act.

39. Oneida Special School District, Tennessee
Most of the non-certified personnel in the Oneida Special School District, such as teacher assistants, janitors,  and cafeteria workers, will not be allowed to work more than 29 hours a week.

40. Central Michigan University
Some of the 5,700 students hired as employees by Central Michigan University will be barred from working more than 25 hours a week. While students have said the new limits “will sting a little bit” and make it “increasingly harder” to pay for various expenses, CMU’s human-resources vice president told a local news station that the move would “align us with other schools” making similar adjustments. Without the limits, CMU would have to pay as much as a $5 million penalty for not offering student workers health-care coverage.

41. University of North Alabama
Graduate-student workers at this school in Florence, Ala., will be barred from working more than 29 hours a week.

42. Arizona State University
Associate faculty members will be limited to teaching six credit hours, or two classes, per semester as part of an effort to more clearly define full-time versus part-time faculty, according to the Arizona Republic. “It’s like getting a punch in the stomach,” said one religious-studies teacher. “For some people it’s a major financial setback.”

43. Ivy Tech Community College, Indiana
Ivy Tech Community College, where 60 percent of the professors work part-time, will limit its part-time professors to less than 30 hours per week.

44. Maricopa Community Colleges, Arizona
The Phoenix community-college system notified almost 700 adjunct professors and 600 other part-time workers of a new policy that will prevent them from working more than 30 hours a week. An adjunct professor said the changes would affect his personal finances, and he warned that “this is going to come back to bite us” because instructors won’t be able to fill in for one another due to the cap on hours.

45. Granite School District, Utah
Facing at least $14 million in additional health-care costs, the Salt Lake City–area school district, which operates 92 schools, reduced the hours of as many as 1,200 part-time workers. In a letter, the district warned that employees who violate the 29-hour limit for part-time work could be terminated.

46. Alpine School District, Utah
“I would have to look for another job, or we would lose our house,” a school-bus driver told Provo’s Daily Herald after the school district said hourly employees could no longer work more than 27.5 hours per week. “If they cut our hours to 27, we will be up the creek,” another driver said.

47. Fort Wayne Community Schools, Indiana
In May, 610 part-time teaching aides and cafeteria workers were informed by the Fort Wayne Community Schools that their hours would be cut to keep FWCS from having to provide health insurance to those employees. “It’s something that almost all employers with part-time employees are trying to resolve,” a district administrator said.

48. Papillion–La Vista School District, Nebraska
The Affordable Care Act would have added $2.5 million in new health-care costs — or $3.4 million in penalties — to the Papillion–La Vista school district if 281 part-time employees’ hours had not been limited to fewer than 30 a week.

49. University of Akron, Ohio
Already facing a budget deficit, the University of Akron will ask 230 of its part-time faculty members to accept a cut to their work hours to avoid having to provide health insurance.

50. Youngstown State University, Ohio
The university warned part-time faculty members that they will be fired if they surpass the new 29-hour-per-week restriction. “If you exceed the maximum hours, YSU will not employ you the following year,” the school said in an e-mail. “We will have no recourse.”

51. Tredyffrin-Easttown School District, Pennsylvania
In June, the district announced that it would have to “restructure hours” to avoid cost increases to health-insurance plans. A local newspaper detailed a handful of options for the district; almost all resulted in fewer hours for lower pay.

52. Southern Lehigh School District, Pennsylvania
The Lehigh Valley–area district reduced the hours of 51 part-time workers to comply with the 30-hour threshold. The cuts will affect employees across the district, including custodians, cafeteria workers, secretaries, health-services support-staff members, and special-education support employees.

53. Zionsville Community Schools, Indiana
One hundred instructional aides, coaches, and substitute teachers in the Indiana district saw their weekly workload restricted to 29 hours.

54. Spartanburg Community College, South Carolina
Adjunct faculty members taught more than half of the community college’s classes, and all but 23 of the 400 to 500 such faculty members will see their hours slashed to meet the part-time requirement. Otherwise the college would face the choice of paying penalties of up to $2,000 per employee to whom it didn’t offer health coverage or paying up to $1 million for insurance.

55. Finger Lakes Community College, New York
The upstate New York community college has set the maximum weekly work hours for adjunct faculty members at “under 30.”

56. Mount Ephraim School District, New Jersey
At a school-board meeting this year, the district announced that the cost of benefits will rise by 18 percent because of the Affordable Care Act, and the increase will be passed on to taxpayers.

57. Minocqua-Hazelhurst-Lake Tomahawk School District, Wisconsin
The northern Wisconsin school district took steps to ensure that its part-time employees work fewer than 30 hours per week, a local news station reported.

58. Rock Valley College, Illinois
As of July, the two-year Rockford school now hires new employees to work a maximum of 25 hours per week.

Big Labor

59. Teamsters, UFCW, and UNITE HERE
The heads of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers, and UNITE HERE wrote to Democratic lawmakers in July to warn that Obamacare would “destroy the foundation of the 40-hour work week that is the backbone of the middle class.” While the labor leaders acknowledged their past support for the law, they remarked that their decision had “come back to haunt us.”

In an interview with Al Jazeera America, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka conceded that the Affordable Care Act “does need some modifications to it” because companies are “restricting their workforce to give workers 29 and a half hours so they don’t have to provide them health care.”

Restaurants and the Food Industry

61. Cheesecake Factory
The chain restaurant’s CEO warned that while his company already covers its employees who work at least 25 hours, he expects the new law to “be very costly” for most companies. He predicted that if Cheesecake Factory has to expand coverage, the costs will be passed on to consumers with price increases or a lower level of service.

62. Papa John’s Pizza
After causing a stir among Obamacare supporters by suggesting possible price increases and/or cuts to jobs and hours, Papa John’s Pizza CEO reiterated: “It’s common sense. That’s what I call lose-lose.”

63. Buca di Beppo
Buca di Beppo employees across the country say managers told them in June that they would see their weekly hours reduced to less than 30. The founder of the company that owns the restaurants distanced himself from the comments, but employees insist that the Affordable Care Act is the root cause: “I guarantee you it has to do with what’s going on with our country and decisions being made with Obamacare,” said one worker.

64. Fatburger
The CEO of the burger-joint chain announced that franchises have begun making efforts to keep employees under the 30-hour threshold, including some franchises’ engaging in “job sharing.” For example, an employee at one Fatburger could work 25 hours a week at one location, and another 25 hours at a different location with a different owner, without falling under the Obamacare mandate.

65. Wendy’s
An Omaha Wendy’s franchisee alerted almost 100 non-management workers that their hours would be reduced to 28 per week in order to comply with Obamacare mandates.

66. Subway restaurants, Illinois
Employees at 15 Subway restaurants in central Illinois have begun to see a reduction in their hours. “We don’t like doing that,” the owner said. “But if we were to have to pay for everyone to have health insurance or pay the full penalties, we would be out of business.”

67. Subway restaurants, Maine
The owner of 21 Subway franchises in Maine told 50 of his workers that their hours would be reduced to a maximum of 29 a week. “To tell somebody that you’ve got to decrease their hours because of a law passed in Washington is very frustrating to me,” he told NBC News Investigations.

68. PoFolks restaurant, Alabama
The restaurant’s owner told a local news station that he will have to cut the number of full-time employees from 16 workers to four to meet the “great challenge” Obamacare poses to the company.

69. Joe Bologna’s, Kentucky
In order to limit employees’ hours and save money, a Lexington businessman has closed his restaurant on Mondays. He told a local news station that additional costs, which could be as high as $20,000, probably would have to be passed on to customers.

70. Five Guys franchises, North Carolina
The owner of eight Five Guys franchises in the Raleigh-Durham area said he will have to use all the profits from one of his eight stores just to cover “any added costs [that] are going to have to be passed on” by the health-care act.

71. Charco Broiler, Colorado
The Fort Collins restaurant informed three full-time employees that they would drop down to part-time work to keep the company under the 50-employee threshold, above which employers must insure all full-time employees.

72. Shari’s restaurant, Oregon
A Portland-area waitress told a news station that she has struggled to pay her bills after Shari’s relegated her status to part time due to one of the law’s mandates, cutting her schedule by almost ten hours a week.

73. Russ’ Restaurants, Michigan
Non-managerial employees are no longer allowed to work more than 25 hours per week.

74. Burger King, Washington, D.C.
“I’m not sure if Congress understood the devastating effect that this will have on businesses and on employment,” said a human-resources officer for the Maryland-based company that owns Washington, D.C.’s largest Burger King franchise. From the beginning of this year, the company has hired only part-time employees, who are “guaranteed no more than 29 hours per week.”

75. Taco Bell, Oklahoma
No employees at the Guthrie Taco Bell will be allowed to work more than 28 hours a week, resulting in a $200 reduction in one employee’s paycheck. “Several of the other people I work with, some of them are single parents, and we do the best we can, and 28 hours a week just isn’t going to cut it for the bills,” the worker said.

76. A Virginia Beach restaurant, Virginia
The owner of a Virginia Beach restaurant and catering company told Bloomberg that he has stopped hiring people to work full time and is even drawing back on part-time employees’ hours. “I can’t afford health insurance for everyone,” he said.

77. Jim’s restaurants, Texas

The San Antonio restaurant chain might be required to pay as much as $1 million more annually after Obamacare takes effect. In response, Jim’s, like many other companies, is considering a reduction in employees’ hours so it won’t have to provide them with insurance.

78. CiCi’s Pizza restaurants, Texas
Bob Westbrook owned the state’s three top-performing CiCi’s Pizza franchises but calculated that the costs of providing health care under the employer mandate would leave him about $78,000 in the red at the end of the year. Ultimately, Westbrook figured, it was most cost-effective for him to sell his franchises, after nearly 20 years.

Grocery Chains

79. Whole Foods Market
The CEO of Whole Foods may not know exactly what changes will take place when the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, but he’s sure it will negatively affect workers. While he would like his company to continue offering health insurance to its employees, he said there might have to be a tradeoff in the benefits equation: “That just means there’s less we can pay for wages.”

80. Trader Joe’s
Even though it has previously provided health-care coverage for its part-time employees, an uncommon practice in the industry, next year Trader Joe’s will give employees who work less than 30 hours a week $500 to purchase a plan in the upcoming Obamacare exchanges. With federal subsidies and possible earnings from other employment, the company said, workers can find coverage that will be just as good. One employee described her soon-to-be lost coverage as “one of the best parts about the job,” and her reaction to hearing it would be dumped was “pure panic, followed quickly by anger.”

81. Wegmans
The New York–based grocery chain announced in July that part-time employees will no longer receive health-care coverage due to Obamacare. Wegmans previously offered insurance to part-time employees working at least 20 hours a week.

82. Trig’s Supermarkets, Wisconsin
Sixty-five percent of the 1,100 workers at the Wisconsin supermarket chain will see their hours reduced to below 30 per week. “Doing nothing was not an option,” an executive with the company said. “Within a year, it would have put us out of business.”

83. Waldbaum’s, New York
At least one of the New York City–area supermarket chain’s stores has told employees that they will now be part-time workers, with some seeing a reduction of 20 hours or more from their usual weekly total. Some of Waldbaum’s 100 employees affected by the change are now seeking second or third jobs, according to a local newspaper.

84. Royal Farms, Maryland
The company’s 146 convenience stores in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are transitioning to an almost entirely part-time work force, reducing even full-timers to fewer than 30 hours a week.

Small Local Businesses

85. Southern Hearth & Patio, Tennessee
Health-insurance costs have more than tripled under the Obama presidency, said the owner of Southern Hearth & Patio in Chattanooga. He’s had to offer smaller bonuses and lower pay raises because of the Affordable Care Act.

86. Tsunami Surf Shop, North Carolina and South Carolina
A manager for Tsunami Surf Shop told a local news station that the company will “have to control the shifts” from now on in order to ensure that employees are working fewer than 30 hours a week.

87. Kerns Trucking, North Carolina
The family-owned trucking company had to cut insurance benefits for 81 workers to avoid having to pay an additional $100,000 under the law’s tax.

88. AAA Parking, Georgia
Next year, AAA Parking will move half of its 500 full-time hourly employees (out of a work force of 1,600) to part-time employment. “Our executive team has spent extensive time evaluating the impact of this mandate, and the financial impact for AAA Parking is dramatic,” a company memo explained.

89. Circle K gas station, Georgia
An employee at the Savannah gas station told a local news station that a supervisor informed workers that they would now work a part-time schedule due to the mandate.

90. Maritz Research, Missouri
The business-research firm informed its 300 employees in July that, starting next year, the company would have to “proactively manage average hours worked on a weekly basis” and enforce a 25-hour threshold.

Premium Rate Increases

91. California
Individual-market premiums in the Golden State could jump as much as 146 percent, according to an analysis of the state’s exchange program by Avik Roy of National Review and Forbes. For example, the cost for a nonsmoking 25-year-old in California who purchases the second-cheapest plan on the exchange would go from $92 to $205.

92. Colorado
Colorado’s cheapest health plans, which are generally geared toward younger people, are expected to rise dramatically in price next year, according to The Hill. Consider a nonsmoker under 30 years old. This year, this Coloradan could have purchased the cheapest catastrophic plan for $56 per month; next year, the cost is expected to climb to $135.

93. Florida
Florida regulators say the average premium for individuals will increase by 30 to 40 percent. For small businesses, the rates will be between 5 and 20 percent higher.

94. Massachusetts
According to a study by the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, well over half of the state’s small businesses will see a rate increase, with some prices potentially doubling.

95. New Mexico
In a study conducted by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, by a team including our own Avik Roy, New Mexico was rated the state that would see the largest average hike in premium costs, at 130 percent.

96. Ohio
The cost of the average health-care plan in Ohio is expected to nearly double under Obamacare, according to state insurance regulators. The Hill reports that an 88 percent increase will ultimately mean the cheapest plan on the market after the law goes into effect next year will cost about $280 a month.

97. Oklahoma
In all but one of the insurance plans offered to Oklahoma state employees, premiums will go up by as much as 12 percent; the one plan that does not have an increase is the “cheapest, most basic health plan,” according to The Oklahoman. According to an administrator with the state’s Office of Management and Enterprise Services, a tax associated with Obamacare has led to an increase in the plans’ cost.

98. Rhode Island
According to the state’s health-insurance commissioner, the rate increase for large employers for 2014 will be about 10 to 12 percent, twice as high as the increase this year.

99. Washington
The analysis by Avik Roy and the Manhattan Institute indicates that Washington State residents across all age groups will see significant increases in their rates. Twenty-year-olds will see an average increase of 80 percent; 40-year-olds 50 percent; and 64-year-olds 59 percent.

100 Wisconsin
The state’s health-insurance regulators determined that “premiums will increase for most consumers” in Wisconsin when the law goes into effect in 2014. Young residents will see an estimated 125 percent increase, while seniors will pay as much as 45 percent more.
4465  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IBD: Shutdown demonstrates that most of Govt is waste or non-essential on: October 02, 2013, 01:08:57 PM

Shutdown Preparations Prove Most Government Is Waste

Big Government: When the government shuts down, the president will do without three-fourths of his White House staff — 1,265 taxpayer-salaried federal workers. That's a fraction of the government's total waste.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who didn't show up to vote on the budget last week, recently claimed, "the cupboard is bare. There's no more cuts to make" in a government that spends almost $4 trillion each year.

But it's funny how when the massive state apparatus is starved of its cash flow, lots of things magically appear in that bare cupboard.

A Sept. 26 letter from the assistant to the president for management and administration to the director of the Office of Management and Budget (couldn't those jobs be merged?) comically outlines the shutdown plan.

"Approximately 436 employees will be designated as excepted or exempt to perform excepted functions," the manager of the White House budget tells the manager of the executive branch budget. "The remaining 1,265 will be placed in furlough status once they have concluded activities necessary to shut down their offices."

Activities like what? Turning off the lights?

The Executive Office of the President "has carefully reviewed its personnel needs ... to ensure that the mission ... is carried out without significant interruption."

But the letter says during the shutdown it'll take 12 taxpayer-paid employees "to support the vice president in the discharge of his constitutional duties." Call them the dirty dozen, since they take care of what Vice President John Nance Garner called "a bucket of warm spit."

What do these 12 absolutely essential non-Secret Service vice-presidential staff do, guarantee that Joe Biden doesn't make a gaffe during the shutdown?

He also gets one staffer for the vice president's residence. Can't "average Joe," who as a senator famously rode the commuter train with the riffraff from Delaware to Washington every day, make his own meals for a few days? Or put up with Dr. Jill's cooking?

Why are 61 U.S. Trade Representative employees required during the shutdown "for developing, coordinating, and advising the president on U.S. trade policy"?

And how many of the more than 20 members of the first lady's staff, at least four of whom are paid six figures by the taxpayers, will be deemed non-essential?

The White House is just a microcosm of the out-of-control growth in federal government personnel. Shameless federal worker unions already plan to sue to get paid for days they stay home during the shutdown.

One thing a government shutdown does is prove that millions of them can, and should, stay home every day.
4466  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen.Ted Cruz on: October 02, 2013, 09:43:48 AM
Yes, all true.  We need leaders like Ted Cruz whether he rises to the level of nominee for President and President or not.  It is on the thinking/feeling side that I saw Marco Rubio's early ability to connect with voters.  On the weaknesses side, Rubio has all the same as Cruz and more.  When 2015-2016 rolls around, there isn't going to be a perfect choice.  I prefer a two term Governor, but not over getting other things right.

In the case of Cruz (and others), he has all the executive experience for the Presidency that Obama had, none.  In Obama's case, I don't think it was his lack of executive experience that sunk him.  It was his failed ideology.  If his foreign policy vision of appeasing enemies and apologizing for American overbearance was the right prescription for peace, he executed it just fine.  But he was wrong.  If his economic vision was right, America would be prospering and his approvals soaring.  But he was wrong. 

Cruz holds up to debates, questioning, and even the Palin-like ridicule and attacks coming at him because he is Reagan-like in his comfort with his own principles and his ability to articulate them.  He is very, very good but not necessarily Reagan-like in his presence on a camera or a podium.

To me, this is about getting the policies right.  But you have to connect with people and win elections to have a say in governing.  As frontrunner for the moment, he will be seen and have his opportunity.  We will see.
4467  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Issues in the American Creed, Constitutional question about de-funding Obamacare on: October 02, 2013, 09:09:11 AM
In his closing of upholding Obamacare as a tax, Chief Justice Roberts wrote:  "...the Court does not express any opinion on the wisdom of the Affordable Care Act. Under the Constitution, that judgment is reserved to the people."  He did not elaborate on exactly how the people might prevent its implementation in the face of divided elections and divided government.

I contend that under the principle of consent of the governed, one congress cannot bind subsequent congresses to spend future monies.  In fact, the entire budget process is a farce, is it not, if both chambers of Congress are required to reaffirm all programs of their predecessors, regardless of available funds, a changed electorate or changed circumstances.

President Obama and Majority Leader Reid are saying that the law passed and signed two congresses ago requires the House today to fully fund this program and all previously passed programs.

Can someone point to something in the constitution that resolves this dispute?
4468  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: October 02, 2013, 08:21:22 AM
I wrote these words of encouragement to my Republican congressman last night:

Please stay strong.  I am proud of you!  The President, who now thinks he heads a one-branch government, voted against both Justices Roberts and Alito, and he voted against raising the debt limit when it involved spending on a program he opposed.  Now you have the power of a co-equal branch and the power of the purse.

I like the strategy of passing piecemeal funding bills.  That way any worthy program the President says should not be shut down by the House is one Senate vote and his signature away from being funded.

It is crucial to not fund the one program Republicans were elected to stop.  Any vote to fund Obamacare will mean you (we) own it - perhaps forever.

In the debate over tactics, I never heard a credible answer to question of how we will stop it later, if not now.  What other failed program have we ever ended later - after one more election?

These are historic times.  Thank you for being there and for staying strong.
4469  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen.Ted Cruz now the frontrunner of the GOP on: October 02, 2013, 08:14:26 AM

Yes.  It is early and 20% support of Republicans is nothing to celebrate, but we did try spineless the last two times and it failed.  Cruz is now the lightning rod for both establishment Republican and firebrand liberal attacks.  He seems to be handling it well, just going about his job of opposing everyday with all his might the liberal train wreck.

The question for 2016 will be, who rallies the base AND draws new people in.  Cruz for sure is a top contender.
4470  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed - De-funding bad government on: September 25, 2013, 02:43:51 PM
Government should only be as large as the smallest of what the three parties, House, Senate and President, can agree.

De-funding bad government?  Seems like everyone but a very few believe Ted Cruz and the House are on the wrong track.  Why is it the right track to fund government programs that you oppose, not just Obamacare, but all of the waste, fraud, abuse programs characterized by not being a federal responsibility or engulfed in unintended consequences?

Consent of the governed?  Obamacare had the (questionable) consent of the 111th congress (2009).  It was upheld by Chief Justice Roberts and the (other) liberals on the Supreme Court.  But the people today, and the 112th (2011) and 113th Congresses (2013) do not give their consent, in particular, the House of Representatives.  The power to tax and spend begins in the House.  Right?  Is the House obligated to fund what a previous congress approved, that it now opposes?  If so, why have new elections?  We already know the law of the land.

De-funding Obamacare will shut down the government?  No it won't.  Only shutting down the government will shut down the government.  The House already passed a bill funding everything but Obamacare.  But Obama has the bully pulpit?  Yes, but for every program he says Republicans in the House have shut down, defense, food stamps, Medicaid, etc., Republican in the House can pass funding specifically for those programs - individually - as he mentions them.  Then how does that mud stick?

Republicans other than Cruz etc. say the de-funding has no end game, because their opponents will never cave..  But what is their end game?  Fund everything you oppose.  Surrender to your opponents because of their refusal to negotiate?  Wait until one more program is fully in place with millions dependent on it?  How is that strategy working for the repeal of anything else?  One might recall that Reagan called for closing the US Dept of Education in 1982.  31 years flies by quickly and uneventfully when it comes to closing federal departments and programs, doesn't it?

The Supreme Court, we are told, tightened the meaning of the Commerce Clause.  What programs ended as a result of that?

How about something simpler, stand up for what you strongly believe and live with the consequences.

One might ask Pres. Assad if Pres. Barack Obama is too strong to ever draw a red line and then cave under pressure.
4471  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: September 25, 2013, 02:04:44 PM
I'd like to know why the Fed did the headfake and then kept it in place.

I think the outgoing Fed chair wanted to have an end to the madness scheduled before his departure and the incoming Fed chair did not.  A bit of a power struggle and she won.  Merely conjecture of course.
4472  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: September 23, 2013, 03:51:11 PM

“The disability program is increasingly becoming a long-term unemployment program,” said Richard Burkhauser, a Cornell University professor who co-wrote a book on disability policy and has testified before Congress about the program. “We see a lot of it now because of the effects of the recession.”
[“The disability program is increasingly becoming a long-term unemployment program,” said Richard Burkhauser, a Cornell University professor who co-wrote a book on disability policy and has testified before Congress about the program. “We see a lot of it now because of the effects of the recession.”]


Yes, now that we know plow-horse equals soup-line.
4473  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NJ's Cory Booker, compulsive liar, hypocrite, should make a good Senator on: September 22, 2013, 12:37:27 PM
4474  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obamacare more unpopular than the Iraq war? on: September 22, 2013, 12:23:46 PM
Iraq war a mistake: 53%, not a mistake: 42%  - March 2013

Obamacare/Obama's handling of healthcare, disapprove: 58%,  approve: 38%  - Sept 2103

Obamacare's approval is only 59% with Democrats!

4475  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: September 22, 2013, 11:57:17 AM
I can't for the life of me figure out why disability claims go up in a recession.  Wouldn't workplace injuries be going down with 5 million more out of the workforce?  It's almost as if they are doing it for the money...

“The disability program is increasingly becoming a long-term unemployment program,” said Richard Burkhauser, a Cornell University professor who co-wrote a book on disability policy and has testified before Congress about the program. “We see a lot of it now because of the effects of the recession.”
4476  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: September 22, 2013, 11:39:00 AM
My guess is that his stats are essentially correct, but that doesn't lead to any easy or obvious solution.  One might imply from the presentation that we could have costs like whomever if we ran our system like theirs.  Not true.  Their prices are lower because the largest healthcare market in the world has already paid the bulk of the sunken costs that developed those products and services.  For example, the cost of a drug or medical device is largely the research and development which is spent before the first unit hits the shelf.  In many cases the US is paying for that.  Then when they compete for additional sales on the margin for the contract in Canada, UK, etc. they only have to cover and profit over their variable cost, not the fixed cost that went into it.  But if the development cost is not covered by someone else, us, that drug or device would not exist. 

If the US bid out the cost of providing replacement hips to one only provider as he suggests, would there be multiple suppliers left to bid next year, operating just fine on zero revenues, ready to compete?  If not, we are right back to the price and quality that you get without competition.

The underlying problem in my view is the prevalence of third party pay and the lack of any process of driving the price down on the demand and payer side. 

At the heart of it is freer and more open competition.  There really isn't any and the solution to it isn't easy.  We limit the supply of doctors, nurses, hospital beds, approved drugs, devices and nearly everything else in the industry and by doing so remove the forces that work to lower the costs of all products in all the industries that don't do these sorts of things, such as computers and electronics where the prices are always going down while quality, performance, reliability keep getting better.
4477  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: September 21, 2013, 12:02:17 PM
Newt has this quite right. Why would you fund what you were elected to oppose, and how else will you stop it - if not now?!
4478  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Electoral process, vote fraud, corruption: IRS Targeting Timeline on: September 19, 2013, 08:41:31 PM
 Senior Treasury Department Officials Knew of IRS Targeting in Spring 2012, Documents Suggest
By  Eliana Johnson
September 19, 2013 1:05 PM

New documents are raising questions about when senior Treasury Department officials, including deputy treasury secretary Neal Wolin and even former treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, learned about the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of tea-party groups. They suggest top brass at the Treasury Department may have been aware of the scandal in spring of 2012, a year before it became public.

An e-mail uncovered in the course of the House Oversight Committee’s investigation into the scandal shows that Treasury Department inspector general J. Russell George was briefed by his staff in preparation for a “Secretary’s meeting” that was to take place at the Treasury Department on June 4, 2012. The briefing notes sent to George by a member of his staff read, “We obtained documentation indicating that certain organizations’ applications for tax-exempt status were targeted by the Exempt Organizations Determination office based on the organizations’ name or political beliefs. Additional audit work is needed to determine the extent, if any, of inconsistent treatment of these organizations’ applications for 501(c)(4) status.” Another document indicates that George briefed Treasury Department general counsel Christopher Meade the same day.

It is unclear if either Geithner or Wolin were present at the June 4, 2012, meeting. It does not appear on Geithner’s public schedule for the day (see below). In May, George described the secretary’s meetings to the committee this way: “The secretary holds a monthly meeting with bureau heads and in conjunction with those meetings, I meet monthly with the general counsel of the Department of the Treasury and then on an as-needed basis with the deputy secretary, Mr. Wolin.” George said that he told Wolin about the scandal “shortly” after he briefed Meade, but could not recall the precise day. Wolin has testified that he was made aware of an audit of “the IRS’s review of tax-exempt organizations” in 2012. George’s testimony is consistent with Wolin’s statement: He told Congress he informed the deputy treasury secretary and the department’s general counsel only about “the nature of the audit,” though the notes prepared for him by his staff go into further detail.

The documents also show that former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman knew more about the scandal than he has previously disclosed. On May 30, 2012, according to a timeline from the inspector general’s office, Shulman learned that ”criteria targeting ‘tea party,’ ‘patriots,’ or ‘9/12′” as well as “educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights” were being used in reviewing applications for tax-exempt status.

Shulman told Congress in March 2012 that no targeting was taking place. Asked why he did not approach lawmakers to correct the record, he said, “What I knew sometime in the spring of 2012 was that there was a list who was being used, knew that the word ‘tea party’ was on the list” but ”didn’t know what other words were on the list” or “the scope and severity” of the problem.

On the basis of the newly discovered documents, Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa and subcommittee chairman Jim Jordan are demanding all Treasury Department documents and communication “referring or relating to the IRS’s misconduct.” In a letter to treasury secretary Jack Lew on Thursday, they wrote, “This information raises serious questions about the awareness of the Treasury Department in the IRS’s mistreatment of tax-exempt applications.” Issa and Jordan are reiterating a previous request to Lew with which the treasury secretary has yet to comply. The department, they said, “has produced only about 350 pages of responsive documents and did not provide any responses to several of our requests.”

UPDATE: A public schedule provided by the Treasury Department shows that former treasury secretary Timothy Geithner did not attend the June 4, 2012 meeting.
4479  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Sen. Jeff Sessions - 9.9 million jobs missing on: September 19, 2013, 08:36:56 PM
Just before the recession hit in December of 2007 (Year 1 of the Pelosi-Reid, Obama, Biden, HRC majority congress) about 62.7 percent of the working-age population was working. If that same percentage was working today, we would have 154.1 million jobs. But we don’t. We have 144.2 million jobs and only 58.6 percent of the population is working.  In short, we’re missing 9.9 million jobs when we compare this economy to the one in 2007.

Who cares about 9.9 million jobs when you are attacking income inequality.  Oops, that got worse too.

Se. Jeff Sessions Blasts Obamanomics

I have directed my staff on the Senate Budget Committee to conduct a detailed analysis of the economic conditions facing working Americans: their wages, their employment, their household finances. I will give a series of talks over the coming weeks looking at their financial condition and the state of our nation economically. I will also attempt to look at the causes leading to our current financial difficulties and suggest some steps to restore America’s financial future.

The sad fact is that the state of middle- and lower-income Americans is worsening on nearly every front. The slow growth of the economy (the slowest economic recovery from a recession since World War II) is restraining the normal upward movement in income that previous generations have experienced. And, if you don’t have a job, you’re twice as likely to only find part-time as full-time work—if you can find any work at all. …

Perhaps the single greatest source for economic anxiety for working Americans is the fear of losing their jobs.

It’s not just the unemployment rate, which remains too high at 7.3 percent in August 2013. It’s the number of people we all know who are working well below their potential because nothing is available that uses their job skills. It’s the number of people we know who have given up looking for work, or who are working part-time because nothing full-time is available for them.

Fewer people are working today than in 2007. That’s actual numbers—even though population has increased. Just before the recession hit in December of 2007, about 62.7 percent of the working-age population was working. If that same percentage was working today, we would have 154.1 million jobs. But we don’t. We have 144.2 million jobs and only 58.6 percent of the population is working.

In short, we’re missing 9.9 million jobs when we compare this economy to the one in 2007.

Here’s another way to look at the job problem: in 2007 we had 363,000 “discouraged workers”—people who had given up looking for work but had not yet disappeared from view by the Employment Security offices. Today we have 866,000. That an increase of 140 percent in six years.

Here’s still another barometer of middle class anxiety: we have 1,988,000 fewer full-time jobs today than in December of 2007. However, we have 3,627,000 more part-time jobs. People with part-time jobs are not counted as unemployed. …

Take a look at the median family’s income. The Census Bureau published new estimates of household income on Tuesday, August 17. They reported that the median income of American households, adjusted for inflation, stands at $51,017—lower than last year, lower than the year before, and, in fact, lower than any time since 1995. …

Many are concerned that the Federal Reserve is furthering the national wealth gap. Their “quantitative easing” has boosted wealth in the investor class but has not benefitted the working class. This is not the way our policies should work.

Another thing I would note is that our civil society today has certain weaknesses that we need to discuss. I will talk more about it in a separate speech, but let me share a few thoughts about why this weakness should concern us all.

Few social institutions are more important in helping us through difficult economic times than marriage. Marriage is disappearing in the bottom 50 percent of the income distribution. And, as it does, so does the presence of the father in the home. If you are in the bottom 50 percent and give birth, there is a greater than 50 percent chance that the father will not be living with you when the child comes home from the hospital. Perhaps, as many suggest, our welfare policies are exacerbating these trends.

Also worrying is the decline of charitable giving since 2007. Like the overall economy, this vital part of our social and economic system has failed to recover. Total charitable giving fell in 2008 to $303.8 billion from $326.6 billion in 2007. As of the end of 2012, total giving was only $316.2 billion… still 3 percent below its level of 6 years ago.

The road we are on today leads to the continued erosion of civil society, the continued expansion of the welfare state, and the permanent entrenchment of a political class that profits from the growth of government. It is time that we recognized both the disastrous conditions facing working Americans and the moral obligation we have to replace government dependency with the freedom and dignity that comes from work and independence.
4480  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: September 19, 2013, 12:28:58 PM
Besides opposing transportation fuels, liberals oppose 87% of current electricity sources. 
Good luck with job growth under current leadership.

...a pending regulation aimed at limiting global warming pollution from new power plants that Republicans and the coal industry say will doom the fuel source.
What is U.S. electricity generation by energy source?
Fossil fuels 68% + Nuclear power 19% = 87% of current electricity sources
4481  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hillsdale College offers free online course: Principles of Free Market Economics on: September 19, 2013, 12:17:46 PM

...will focus on the foundational principles of the free market. Topics will include the relationship of supply and demand, the “information problem” behind the failure of central planning, the rise of macroeconomics under the influence of John Maynard Keynes, and the 2008 financial crisis.
4482  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dr. Ben Carson: Lawmakers can prove their backbone by defunding Obamacare on: September 19, 2013, 12:13:41 PM
Lawmakers can prove their backbone by defunding Obamacare

I have been interested in the political atmosphere of our country since my preteen years. It has been particularly interesting to observe the political shenanigans adopted by many of those wishing to obtain or maintain power. Fortunately, there have also been many who were truly interested in serving the people who put them in office. Looking at one’s life, voting record and words can provide significant insight into which of the aforementioned categories a political figure fits.

In the 1960s, John F. Kennedy wrote a book titled “Profiles In Courage,” which was very inspiring, as he examined the lives of individuals who had enough daring to go against the flow and make a real difference in society. As a young, very intelligent president of our country, he was faced with many daunting problems, not the least of which was an attempt by the Russians to supply Cuba with nuclear weapons, which would have been situated just 90 miles off of our shores.

Although there have been many attempts to rewrite the history of the Cuban missile crisis, the bottom line is that Kennedy had the necessary backbone to stand up to Nikita Khrushchev and avert an enormous detrimental shift in the power structure of the world while enhancing America’s international image.

Some readers are probably already irritated that I have said something positive about someone who is not a member of their political party. It is my belief that if JFK were alive today, advocating personal responsibility and patriotism, he might find his views at odds with many in the Democratic Party.

Perhaps it is time to de-emphasize political affiliations and labels, and instead concentrate on the philosophies that define one’s beliefs and actions. The direction of our country is not good, and “we the people” — not we the Democrats or we the Republicans — are in desperate need of courageous leadership, guided by an understanding of our Constitution.

Our divided government was formed by diligent men who had studied the history of governmental structures throughout the world and wanted to design a system that would not succumb to the temptation to continuously expand its size and scope at the expense of the people.

An important concept was the separation of powers with checks and balances among the three branches of government. It was a rather ingenious idea to invest each of the three branches of government with enough power to check unwarranted power grabs by the others.

There is, however, a breakdown in this system when officeholders are more concerned about their legacy or their re-election than they are about the proper functioning of government. Our Founders were most concerned about the possibility of the executive branch seizing power and disregarding constitutional constraints.

I suspect they would have been horrified to witness the manipulative and secretive strong-armed techniques utilized by the current administration to push through Obamacare. I’m sure they would also be shocked to see an administration that picks and chooses the laws it wishes to enforce, thereby diminishing the power of the legislative branch of government.

This practice in some ways resembles that of the centralized government system that swept the Soviet Union, whose notorious founders wrote that it was sometimes necessary to force ideas on a populace that will eventually come to accept and endorse the ideas. Similarly, our current leadership is certain that Americans will eventually see the wisdom of governmental oversight in almost every aspect of their lives.

If we are to pass a free and prosperous nation on to our progeny, it is imperative that the legislative branch of government exhibit the courage to exercise the check function it possesses. Lawmakers cannot be afraid that they will be blamed for a government shutdown if they defund Obamacare.

They have the ability to separate the health care law from the rest of the federal budget and fund one without funding the other. In doing so, they need to make it abundantly clear that they are willing to fund the government and its essential functions, but they feel that Obamacare is detrimental to the future economic health of America.

If the Democrat-controlled Senate reattaches the law, or if the executive branch makes the decision to fund Obamacare at the expense of other vital national functions, the electorate must take notice and act decisively in 2014. Many say that those who want to restore constitutional restraints are fighting a useless battle, but we must remember that freedom is reserved only for those willing to fight for it.

I am confident that the people will awaken from their apathy and vigorously support whoever has the backbone to stand up for them.

Ben S. Carson is professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University.

4483  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Republican Replacement Bill on: September 19, 2013, 12:09:18 PM
The parts of Obamacare that were popular were also available in Republican alternative bills.  Now one is being put forward for your consideration:

American Health Care Reform Act

200 pages versus 2700 for Obamacare

"... letting people purchase plans across state lines and allowing small businesses to pool together to negotiate lower rates. It would also amend existing law to increase transparency in payments and pricing so patients would have a better understanding of the cost of care and ultimately become more discerning consumers.

The plan seeks to “level the playing field” between consumers who receive insurance from an employer and those who purchase insurance on the individual market. The latter group would receive significant tax breaks to offset the cost of buying insurance: Individuals would be able to claim a $7,500 deduction against their income and payroll taxes for qualifying health plans, while families would be able to deduct $20,000. The legislation would also expand access to portable health savings accounts, and increase the maximum allowable contribution to such accounts.

The bill would increase federal funding for state high-risk pools, which insure people with especially expensive and preexisting conditions, by $25 billion over ten years, and would cap premiums in those pools at 200 percent of the average premium in a given state. It would also guarantee that individuals with preexisting conditions could move between insurance plans while maintaining coverage in the interim.

Medical liability law would be reformed to cap awards on punitive damages, as well as attorneys’ fees, in an effort to limit the common (and increasingly expensive) practice of “defensive medicine.” Federal funding for abortion coverage would be explicitly prohibited except in cases of rape, incest, and risks to the life of the mother."
4484  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics, Economic Freedom Index, U.S. moves from 2nd to 17th! on: September 19, 2013, 11:54:53 AM

After ranking as the world’s third freest economy behind Hong Kong and Singapore for most of the two decades from 1980-2000, the United States began to lose ground as the new millennium began. The report blames the slippage on “overspending, weakening rule of law, and regulatory overkill on the part of the US government.”

“Once considered a bastion of economic freedom,” the United States now ranks 17th in the world,” says the report, which was compiled using data from 2011. The current US ranking puts it 13 places lower than its 4th-place ranking in 1994, and 15 lower than in 2000, when it ranked second overall.

Meanwhile, Russia ranked 101st out of 151 nations, up 10 places from 1995 and 12 places better than its ranking in 2000, in the “Economic Freedom of the World” report, compiled by Canada’s Fraser Institute.

Russia has climbed up the rankings to be the best-placed of the rising economies known collectively as the BRIC countries (Brazil, India, China and Russia)

Brian Wesbury sees the report as optimistic for US equities.
4485  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obamacare already failing, cover half as many, cost twice as much, unpopular on: September 19, 2013, 11:44:35 AM
The administration admits Obamacare will provide coverage next year to only half as many of America's uninsured as anticipated just last year.

During his first run for president, Barack Obama made one very specific promise to voters: He would cut health insurance premiums for families by $2,500, and do so in his first term.

But it turns out that family premiums have increased by more than $3,000 since Obama's vow, according to the latest annual Kaiser Family Foundation employee health benefits survey.

Pew Survey: 53% of Americans Disapprove of Obamacare, (42% approve), Highest Negative Since Law’s Passage

4486  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Methane emissions from fracking less than feared on: September 19, 2013, 11:35:19 AM

Will any of these positive developments slow the opponents?  No.

More on the story here:
 Investors Business Daily says: Fracking Leads To Cleaner Air

Will that deter the opponents?  No.
4487  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: September 19, 2013, 10:03:54 AM
This thread has as its subject matter the economy and the stock market.  The two of them are definitely different things.  We tend to talk about the economy, Wesbury tends to talk about the market.

We come at it from different directions but I believe we were directly addressing specific points that Wesbury made.

One of his central points is that stocks are not up just because of QE and artificial stimulus.  But when Bernancke announced 'tapering' the market started down and when the Fed reversed course and said massive quantitative stimulus will continue, because of the weakness in the economy, the market surged forward.  Hmmm.

David Gordon and the bulls will make massive money in the short run off of an economy propped up and distorted by a house of cards.  That does not change the fact that a day of reckoning will come and one should be ready.  So both the bulls and the bears are right with different time frames.

Wesbury has never been accused of the 'famous person caught reading the forum' charge, but I would like someone to explain how far and how long the market can run in direct opposition to the realities of the economy.  Wesbury is saying the economy is fine in the face of stagnation and turmoil.  The Fed is saying otherwise, and then applying the wrong solution to the wrong problem, creating noise and a bouncing soup pot.  Fed feeding is how we got the last bubble and crash.  But history does not repeat itself we are told.  This time things will just go up and up with no consequence.
With economy weak, Fed delays move to withdraw stimulus
Dow, S&P hit record after Fed holds off on taper
4488  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics - Gilder and the knowledge economy on: September 19, 2013, 09:32:21 AM
Gilder is right about this.  It is interesting to delve deeper into how things work.  Unfortunately the way forward to take advantage of this reality is to make these concepts more simple and clear to more people rather than more deep and complicated.  Your friend is also right and much easier to follow.

The tragedy today is that the extreme noise in the system is keeping the best and brightest from bothering with making the most valuable innovations that would move us forward. 
4489  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, the core problem for Republicans on: September 18, 2013, 11:22:44 PM
CCP,  Good stuff, you make valid points especially regarding perception and winning people over. 

"The problem as I see it as do so many other is the game is not fair.  There is incredible dishonesty, cheating, lying, stealing, bribery and misuse of mail, eavesdropping and rigging the game."

It is not just that government doesn't prosecute what is wrong, but the government causes  much of what is wrong.  Regulations heavily favor the entrenched players by keeping out competition, and our crony government is loaded with 'public-private' relationships that fail every possible test of equal protection under the law.  The examples are endless, Solyndra, Tesla, AIG, Goldman Sachs, earmarks and research grants down to sports stadiums and private takings at the local level.  If government only governed, instead of promoting, participating, redistributing, and choosing sides and determining outcomes, this wouldn't happen.

CCP, continued: "The middle struggling more then ever.  To them the American Dream certainly has slipped away.  When you have 75 % of the population living from paycheck to paycheck and the right only addresses this with abstract ideology about freedom opportunity and hard work they have far less chance of winning against a party that has sold its soul with buying votes.  Just simply disparaging bigger and bigger government (I agree with this) without taking on private crooks and scoundrels is, I believe, a persistent and crucial mistake."

You are right.  We didn't jail any wall street bankers and we didn't round up any local scheisters across the country from the housing scandal fraud.  No one investigated, no one prosecuted and no investigative journalist effectively held their feet to the fire.  We have a million laws and oversight committees but we failed to govern.  The message of economic freedom did not land and did not win.  I might add that it wasn't really attempted!

The question remains - separate from how rich people are doing - how do you improve the economic outlook for the lower 75%?  The answer is found in the Heritage Economic Freedom Index.  There are many dimensions that make up economic freedom and we can measure and compare them rather easily if we try.  It may be a platitude but nothing else has lifted more people out of poverty or economic stagnation and into prosperity throughout history and across the globe better than market capitalism based on basic economic freedom. 

The negative human emotional reaction to someone else making more money than us is what is stopping us from leaping forward into prosperity.  If one is Judeo-Christian or Muslim, God already warned you about this:

Frankly, we can stay stuck on stupid or we can choose to unleash growth -it is a simple choice.

What did Democratic Pres. John F. Kennedy say?  A rising tide lifts all boats?  What was he proposing?  Lowering tax rates, individual and corporate, easing the burden and market distortions of government on the private sector?  "An economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough jobs or enough profits." Remarks to the Economic Club of New York, December 1962

Investor profits are needed to create and grow jobs.  Who knew.
4490  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: "Wesbury and gov't can't be trusted" on: September 18, 2013, 09:32:06 PM
Maybe Wesbury was too busy hawking the recoveries that never happened to read about fast and furious, Benghazi, the IRS and NSA scandals and the many others too numerous to mention.

Of course Wesbury is talking about the economic data - mostly.  "Many pessimistic, debt-focused, perma-bear investors...claim the government is lying about jobs, lying about debt, lying about everything". 

But then he gives unemployment as an example, then shows how U3, the most widely reported measure, is a deception.  Then he quotes U6 which is EIGHTY EIGHT PERCENT HIGHER, but that is a deception too, not taking at all into account FIVE MILLION PEOPLE WHO LEFT THE WORKFORCE.  Not mentioned are the poverty figures which are a deception, CPI which is a poor measure, baseline budget cuts which ARE a lie, etc. etc.

"The economy could be much better if government got out of the way, but it stopped getting worse more than four years ago."

   - Maybe yes, maybe no.  Are unfunded liabilities higher or lower now than 4 yrs ago?  Are marginal tax rates higher or lower?  Do we have more over-regulation or less over-regulation?  Is Obamacare, passed 4 years ago, a plus or a minus for the outlook for investment and hiring?  99% of the people aren't moving ahead and don't have more money in their pocket after 4 years of steady improvement.  Who is he really zooming?
4491  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: September 17, 2013, 01:55:50 PM
Nonetheless, David Gordon is calling a strong bull market.

I very much respect his opinion on stocks, but I don't see anyone predicting the economy move forward much better than it is without changing policies.  Even the optimist Wesbury predicts plowhorse growth and then he defines that in the 2%, sub-breakeven range.  So the contention continues between the US economy and the strategies for investing, both are part of this thread.  Corporate profits (of established companies helped by regulations blocking out competition) are high.  Real startups, hiring, workforce participation, global economic growth and nearly all other indicators are low and stuck.

How high will these profits and stock prices go without real growth?  I don't know.
4492  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: September 17, 2013, 10:45:55 AM
More than 12 years ago, the Cheney task force made recommendations like: "repair and add onto the existing network of refineries, pipelines, generators and transmission lines. ...the refining and distribution of natural gas was effected by an inefficient and inadequate infrastructure, and that this issue could be remedied by 38,000 miles of new pipeline and 255,000 miles of distribution lines"

We mostly ignored that advice.  Now we pay the price, in spite of all the increased production of oil via fracking.

The policy of keeping gas prices high is now intentional.  Who does it hit worst?  The working poor and struggling lower middle class who rely on it to get to work, do their work or look for work.  Is that what we want?  Maybe not, but is the result of our elections and policies.
Gas prices set record: 1,000 days above $3 a gallon

4493  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Marco Rubio: Defund Obamacare Before It's Too Late on: September 17, 2013, 09:45:59 AM
What program, no matter how bad, ever got stopped after it was up and running?  Why is congress funding the "administration...spending Americans’ tax dollars on advertisements promoting this failed policy, ...sending out celebrities and other allies to convince Americans that ObamaCare is a good thing." The American people opposed Obamacare when it passed and oppose it more now.  The one thing Chief Justice Roberts got right is that the Supreme Court was not the only place where this program could get cancelled.  The one question that Karl Rove and the go along to get along wing of the Republican party cannot answer is that is you fund it now, when will you stop it and how?  The answer is you won't, so take a stand now.  Marco Rubio has this right.

Defund Obamacare Before It's Too Late
Marco Rubio | Sep 17, 2013

Over the next two weeks, the sad spectacle that is Washington will be on full display as Congress and President Obama debate yet another short-term spending plan, also known as a continuing resolution (CR). 

Early in my Senate term, I realized these short-term CR's were a miserable way to run the federal government and decided I would not go along with this budgetary charade again. I came to the Senate to solve real problems and eliminate the biggest threats standing in the way of the 21st century being another exceptional American century. The people of Florida who I work for didn't send me here to keep postponing hard choices and leave our problems unsolved for future generations to deal with.

And that's exactly what these short-term budgets do. Rather than prioritize government's proper role in American society or fundamentally end the way Washington borrows and misspends money, CR's mostly continue the broken Washington status quo.

With all that said, the CR that Congress will soon consider to keep our dysfunctional government open past September 30 is actually a major opportunity to save our people from the job-killing disaster that is ObamaCare. Because a major piece of its implementation begins on October 1, this short-term budget represents our last chance to stop it by defunding it.

Short-term budgets are a terrible way to run a government, but if we can pass one that defunds ObamaCare, we will be doing America's workers and job creators a huge service that will be worth it.

From the imperfect CR process, defunding ObamaCare would produce a clear-cut victory for American workers and families. Settling for anything less would be devastating to them.

The evidence of ObamaCare's failures is everywhere, and it is staggering. For example, in just the past week, several employers like SeaWorld announced they will be cutting their part-time workers' hours to deal with ObamaCare's tax penalties. The unions that have been the President's staunchest allies, and who were instrumental to passing ObamaCare in the first place, are now condemning it and pleading with the White House to be exempted from it. During the August recess, I repeatedly heard from working class Floridians about how this law would result in reduced hours, reduced pay and the loss of health insurance plans and doctors they currently have.

Despite all the warning signs of failure, what is the President doing? His administration is doubling down by spending Americans’ tax dollars on advertisements promoting this failed policy, and it's sending out celebrities and other allies to convince Americans that ObamaCare is a good thing.

We need to stop this. All of it. And over the next two weeks, we have our last chance to stop ObamaCare by defunding it in the CR.

There is a better way forward to help more Americans obtain affordable and quality health insurance, without sacrificing their jobs, income, current health plans and doctors they're happy with. But stopping ObamaCare by defunding it is the first and most immediate step we need to take. 

Time is running out to do it, but not the necessity of doing so.
4494  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: September 17, 2013, 09:24:36 AM
"Industrial up a plow horse-like 2.7% from a year ago. "

Two problems with 2% growth:

1) Since the trajectory is below break even growth, the point where we will have outgrown the current malaise at this rate is - never.

2) With growth rounding to zero and negative growth considered catastrophic we are perhaps one more external economic shock away from disaster.

Other than that, things look okay ...
4495  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues, Wittes, Franklin, Liberty and Security on: September 16, 2013, 12:28:26 PM
"Wittes is a smart guy who surrounds himself with other smart people."  - BD on the privacy thread

A previous piece by Wittes:

What Ben Franklin Really Said

By Benjamin Wittes
Friday, July 15, 2011

Here’s an interesting historical fact I have dug up in some research for an essay I am writing about the relationship between liberty and security: That famous quote by Benjamin Franklin that “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety” does not mean what it seems to say. Not at all.

I started looking into this quotation because I am writing a frontal attack on the idea that liberty and security exist in some kind of “balance” with one another–and the quotation is kind of iconic to the balance thesis. Indeed, Franklin’s are perhaps the most famous words ever written about the relationship. A version of them is engraved on the Statue of Liberty. They are quoted endlessly by those who assert that these two values coexist with one another in a precarious, ever-shifting state of balance that security concerns threaten ever to upset. Every student of American history knows them. And every lover of liberty has heard them and known that they speak to that great truth about the constitution of civilized government–that we empower governments to protect us in a devil’s bargain from which we will lose in the long run.

Very few people who quote these words, however, have any idea where they come from or what Franklin was really saying when he wrote them. That’s not altogether surprising, since they are far more often quoted than explained, and the context in which they arose was a political battle of limited resonance to modern readers. Many of Franklin’s biographers don’t quote them at all, and no text I have found attempts seriously to explain them in context. The result is to get to the bottom of what they meant to Franklin, one has to dig into sources from the 1750s, with the secondary biographical literature giving only a framework guide to the dispute. I’m still nailing down the details, but I can say with certainty at this stage that Franklin was not saying anything like what we quote his words to suggest.

The words appear originally in a 1755 letter that Franklin is presumed to have written on behalf of the Pennsylvania Assembly to the colonial governor during the French and Indian War. The letter was a salvo in a power struggle between the governor and the Assembly over funding for security on the frontier, one in which the Assembly wished to tax the lands of the Penn family, which ruled Pennsylvania from afar, to raise money for defense against French and Indian attacks. The governor kept vetoing the Assembly’s efforts at the behest of the family, which had appointed him. So to start matters, Franklin was writing not as a subject being asked to cede his liberty to government, but in his capacity as a legislator being asked to renounce his power to tax lands notionally under his jurisdiction. In other words, the “essential liberty” to which Franklin referred was thus not what we would think of today as civil liberties but, rather, the right of self-governance of a legislature in the interests of collective security.

What’s more the “purchase [of] a little temporary safety” of which Franklin complains was not the ceding of power to a government Leviathan in exchange for some promise of protection from external threat; for in Franklin’s letter, the word “purchase” does not appear to have been a metaphor. The governor was accusing the Assembly of stalling on appropriating money for frontier defense by insisting on including the Penn lands in its taxes–and thus triggering his intervention. And the Penn family later offered cash to fund defense of the frontier–as long as the Assembly would acknowledge that it lacked the power to tax the family’s lands. Franklin was thus complaining of the choice facing the legislature between being able to make funds available for frontier defense and maintaining its right of self-governance–and he was criticizing the governor for suggesting it should be willing to give up the latter to ensure the former.

In short, Franklin was not describing some tension between government power and individual liberty. He was describing, rather, effective self-government in the service of security as the very liberty it would be contemptible to trade. Notwithstanding the way the quotation has come down to us, Franklin saw the liberty and security interests of Pennsylvanians as aligned.
4496  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: September 16, 2013, 12:13:48 PM
I forget which thread on which it was I made the point, but I think fracking natural gas is a very good issue for us. We can make the point how it is bringing manufacturing back to the US (job! the American worker CAN compete! etc) but Obama and his command economy minions would rather funnel money to Solyndra.

It was in this thread.  Agree! I would add that fracking is one piece of the economic freedom in energy puzzle.  We need clean refineries, safe pipelines, secure grid, state of the art nuclear, and a healthy climate for bringing to market the innovations that come next - instead of trying to stop all these things.  On a larger view, without getting wonky we need to articulate, as you suggest with Solyndra, a clearer definition of what is the private sector role, what is the public and federal role and why we should not blur these roles as we do now with the referees being both financier and regulator of selected teams and players.

On fracking, while the government regulators looked away, busy writing other regulations, our air got cleaner, CO2 emissions dropped significantly, dropped our trade imbalance, experienced regional job booms and improved the median standard of living more than TARP, QE, HARP and ACA combined- all without their help. 

Who knew we could leap forward with one innovation in all those directions?  Certainly not the central planners who pick winners and losers in places like Moscow, Beijing and Washington.
4497  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: American Exceptionalism on: September 16, 2013, 11:44:49 AM
Radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh: "It is because of this liberty and freedom that our country exists, because the Founders recognized it comes from God. It's part of the natural yearning of the human spirit. It is not granted by a government. It's not granted by Putin. It's not granted by Obama or any other human being. We are created with the natural yearning to be free, and it is other men and leaders throughout human history who have suppressed that and imprisoned people for seeking it. The U.S. is the first time in the history of the world where a government was organized with a Constitution laying out the rules, that the individual was supreme and dominant, and that is what led to the U.S. becoming the greatest country ever because it unleashed people to be the best they could be. Nothing like it had ever happened. That's American exceptionalism. Putin doesn't know what it is, Obama doesn't know what it is, and it just got trashed in the New York Times. It's just unacceptable."

Rush at least nailed the fact that Obama and Putin are two people who don't understand what made America great / "exceptional".

In the longer rant on the radio, he played the clip of Obama asked if he believed in American Exceptionalism.  The President said yes and then went on to express that he hoped the Greeks believed in Greek Exceptionalism as well.  Good grief.  If he had any clue as to what made America great, he wouldn't be trying to dismantle it.

Here is Matthew Spalding writing at Heritage, 2010:

In 1776, when America announced its independence as a nation, it was composed of thirteen colonies surrounded by hostile powers.

Today, the United States is a country of fifty states covering a vast continent. Its military forces are the most powerful in the world. Its economy produces almost a quarter of the world's wealth. The American people are among the most hard-working, church-going, affluent, and generous in the world.

Is America exceptional?

Every nation derives meaning and purpose from some unifying quality—an ethnic character, a common religion, a shared history. The United States is different. America was founded at a particular time, by a particular people, on the basis of particular principles about man, liberty, and constitutional government.

The American Revolution drew on old ideas. The United States is the product of Western civilization, shaped by Judeo-Christian culture and the political liberties inherited from Great Britain.

Yet the founding of the United States was also revolutionary. Not in the sense of replacing one set of rulers with another, or overthrowing the institutions of society, but in placing political authority in the hands of the people.

As the English writer G. K. Chesterton famously observed, "America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed." That creed is set forth most clearly in the Declaration of Independence, by which the American colonies announced their separation from Great Britain. The Declaration is a timeless statement of inherent rights, the proper purposes of government, and the limits on political authority.

The American Founders appealed to self-evident truths, stemming from "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God," to justify their liberty. This is a universal and permanent standard. These truths are not unique to America but apply to all men and women everywhere. They are as true today as they were in 1776.

Working from the principle of equality, the American Founders asserted that men could govern themselves according to common beliefs and the rule of law. Throughout history, political power was—and still is—often held by the strongest. But if all are equal and have the same rights, then no one is fit by nature to rule or to be ruled.

As Thomas Jefferson put it, "[T]he mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God." The only source of the legitimate powers of government is the consent of the governed. This is the cornerstone principle of American government, society, and independence.

America's principles establish religious liberty as a fundamental right. It is in our nature to pursue our convictions of faith. Government must not establish an official religion, just as it must guarantee the free exercise of religion. Indeed, popular government requires a flourishing of religious faith. If a free people are to govern themselves politically, they must first govern themselves morally.

    "Being an American is more than a matter of where you or your parents came from. It is a belief that all men are created free and equal." – Harry S. Truman
    October 26, 1948

These principles also mean that everyone has the right to the fruits of their own labor. This fundamental right to acquire, possess, and sell property is the backbone of opportunity and the most practical means to pursue human happiness. This right, along with the free enterprise system that stems from it, is the source of prosperity and the foundation of economic liberty.

Because people have rights, government has only the powers that the sovereign people have delegated to it. These powers are specified by a fundamental law called a constitution. Under the rule of law, all are protected by generally agreed-upon laws that apply, equally, to everyone.

The United States Constitution defines the institutions of American government: three distinct branches of government that make the law, enforce the law, and judge the law in particular cases. This framework gives the American government the powers it needs to secure our fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The ultimate purpose of securing these rights and of limiting government is to protect human freedom. That freedom allows the institutions of civil society—family, school, church, and private associations—to thrive, forming the habits and virtues required for liberty.

The same principles that define America also shape its understanding of the world. The Declaration of Independence proclaimed that the thirteen colonies were a separate and sovereign nation, like any other nation. But America is not simply another nation.

The United States is a nation founded on universal principles. It appeals to a higher standard that all governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. All nations are answerable to this principle, and it is this principle that makes the United States a truly legitimate nation.

Liberty does not belong only to the United States. The Declaration of Independence holds that all men everywhere are endowed with a right to liberty. That liberty is a permanent aspect of human nature everywhere is central to understanding America's first principles.

Nevertheless, the primary responsibility of the United States is to defend the freedom and well-being of the American people. To do this, the United States must apply America's universal principles to the challenges this nation faces in the world.

    "Our founding documents proclaim to the world that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a chosen few. It is the universal right of all God's children." – Ronald Reagan
    July 15, 1991

This is not easy. America has not always been successful. But because of the principles to which it is dedicated, the United States always strives to uphold its highest ideals. More than any other nation, it has a special responsibility to defend the cause of liberty at home and abroad.

As George Washington put it in his First Inaugural Address: "The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people." America's role in the world is to preserve and to spread, by example and by action, the "sacred fire of liberty."

America is an exceptional nation, but not because of what it has achieved or accomplished. America is exceptional because, unlike any other nation, it is dedicated to the principles of human liberty, grounded on the truths that all men are created equal and endowed with equal rights. These permanent truths are "applicable to all men and all times," as Abraham Lincoln once said.

America's principles have created a prosperous and just nation unlike any other nation in history. They explain why Americans strongly defend their country, look fondly to their nation's origins, vigilantly assert their political rights and civic responsibilities, and remain convinced of the special meaning of their country and its role of the world. It is because of its principles, not despite them, that America has achieved greatness.

To this day, so many years after the American Revolution, these principles—proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and promulgated by the United States Constitution—still define America as a nation and a people. Which is why friends of freedom the world over look to the United States not only as an ally against tyrants and despots but also as a powerful beacon to all those who strive to be free.

4498  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: September 16, 2013, 11:15:22 AM
"Richest 1 percent earn biggest share since '20s"

Isn't is interesting that this trend was unstoppable even by gaining control of first congress, then all three bodies, a Supreme Court backing them up and a then second term to prevent any of the new myriad of laws and taxes passed to to address this from being repealed.

What happened under their policies is exactly what they warned would happen to the middle class if George Bush was elected to a third or fourth term (McCain, Romney, etc.), only without any economic growth.  And who holds them accountable?  No one.

Bigdog made an important point on the constitutional thread that that I will paraphrase here.  Commerce has changed whether we like it or not.  It has changed since the 1791, it has changed since I entered the export business 25 years ago and it is changing even more rapidly now.  There is more upside and payoff for real innovations now than ever before, even if the economy is stalled, because the market for your innovation is now virtually the whole world.  Meanwhile, more than at any time since women widely began working, a record number and proportion of the adult population completely out of the productive economy.  People who are standing still aren't going to keep up with people who are either creating or following these changes.  In a stagnant, rigid economy most people are standing still.

ccp:  How does the right address this vs. big gov paychecks?  Again ccp's commandment:  Whoever can address this can win any election:

You have identified the two playing fields that the right will never win on.  If the race is to see who will pay people the most to not work, or be accused of starving children and taking meds from Grannie, Republicans and free marketers won't win.  If it is a contest to see who is perceived as best at tying the hands of new wealth with new laws, taxes and redistribution methods, Republicans have no chance in that contest either, except for a few R-in-name-only Senators.

To win with prosperity and economic freedom, you have to change the framing of the questions.  For starters, trickle down is only a misnomer/caricature/pejorative of opponents' beliefs that the left puts on what they see as unrestrained freedom, not something that came out of the principles of economic freedom or supply side economics.

There is no answer to stopping income disparity while improving everyone else's outcome, and there is no valid reason to stop income disparity.  If there was no disparity in what you see in other people's income, then there would be no hope in improving your own future.

I don't know how to explain a dynamic economy but if there is enough economic freedom, resources can flow to their best use which maximizes the opportunities for everyone.  When you try to lock resources in place or direct them with central planners, the tyrants of our time, opportunities recede.  Where is there an example on the planet or in history where the central planners out-performed economic freedom?  Certainly not the US since the Pelosi-Reid-Obama-Hillary-Biden revolution of Nov 2006 that continues today.

BLS Labor force Unemployment rate not counting the 5 million people who left the workforce altogether

Thomas Sowell, 'Basic Economics':  The actual path of money in a private enterprise economy is quite the opposite of that claimed by people who refer to the trickle-down theory. Money invested in new business ventures is first paid out to employees, suppliers, and contractors. Only some time later, if the business is profitable, does money return to the business owners.  In the absence of a profit motive, this activity does not occur.
4499  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Senator Barasso of WY on: September 16, 2013, 10:11:55 AM
"The president needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with a coherent, realistic Syria policy—one that does not rely on Russia's cooperation."

Sen. Barrasso does a very nice job of articulating what we all seem to know about the Russians and this non-solution to a problem that we just elevated to the level of deciding the course of human history.
4500  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Shocking, absolutley shocking developments: Chems are being scattered and hidden on: September 16, 2013, 09:57:34 AM
Shocking, yes.  Who could have seen that coming?  I suppose anyone alive and awake the last time we fought this battle.
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