Saturday, September 29, 2012

'Confessions of an Obama Convert'

Why Do We Play the Game Anyway?
Ok.  You have to admit it.  President Barack Obama is the very best President we have ever had in the United States of America over the past 223 years.  He is also going to be the very best President we will ever have over the rest of America's future, whether it is another 1000 years or maybe 4.

Just look at the polls!  You know that they are never wrong!  News media polls are like the tablets handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai...written in stone by the finger of Yahweh Himself!

Plus everyone in the news media wants Barack Obama to get re-elected!  ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, the New York Times, all the major media outlets are totally fair and balanced, always have been and always will be. They loved Michael Dukakis and John Kerry before him and it was only the stupidity of the American public that they voted against the media darling each time or else we would have had both a President Michael Dukakis and a President John Kerry 'reporting for duty' as our Commander in Chief and President.

I have been so overwhelmed by the facts presented by the supporters of President Barack Obama that I am prepared to announce today that I am going to be the very first person willing to admit that while I voted for George W. Bush twice and John McCain once,  I am going to make the momentous switch to vote for President Obama on Election Day on November 6.

Think about it.  I have met and heard of dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who voted for the 'Hope and Change' Barack Obama of 2008 who have now decided to vote for Mitt Romney or 'anyone not named Obama!' this year.  Perhaps you have as well.

Have you ever met one person who voted for John McCain in 2008 who has told you that they are now going to vote for President Obama in 2012?  Us neither.

Until now.

And here are the reasons why, outside of the fact that the polls have already declared that President Obama has this race in the bag and 'it is all over!  No need to even vote, people!  This race for the White House is finished, fini, kaput!':

First of all, if I were Jewish, which I am not, and had relatives or friends living in Israel, I would feel 100% totally assured that President Obama has done everything possible to prevent Iran from dropping the Big One on Jerusalem any time soon.

Heck!  He didn't even need to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he came to New York this past week because he had to go on 'The View' to talk about how many people see him as 'eye-candy'!  How great is that?  We have a President who is so cool that he doesn't even need to meet with our closest ally of free democracy in the Middle East, Israel, because he knows everything is going pretty darned peachy-keen with Arab Spring, Summer and now Fall.

Another reason why I am voting for President Obama is because his State Department promised us that the killing of our Ambassador in Libya was due to 'unrest' and 'bumps in the road' caused by over-zealous followers of Mohammed who were spitting mad about some cartoon video that was on the Internet from some right-wing kook in Florida.

Well, I believe him, don't you?  I am mighty mad that some guy made fun of the Prophet Mohammed instead of being mad about Al Qaeda using grenade launchers to attack our U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, aren't you?  I mean, Obama killed Osama bin Laden....Al Qaeda is finished, didn't you know that?

But the main reason why I am going to vote for President Obama is because he has done such a great job on reviving this economy, don't you agree?  I mean, everything sure seems like it is going a lot better for everyone, right?

Everyone I know are getting high-paying jobs and they are feeling pretty secure about their futures about you?  People who have been out of work for over a year or most of these past 4 years are now finding recruiters knocking down their doors with job offers galore as they compete for their services once again in a dynamic jobs market.  It is pretty self-evident to me, how about to you?

The other reason why I am voting for President Obama is his fine work on reducing the federal budget deficit 'by one-half' as he promised during the 2008 campaign.  Remember that?  Well, I finally figured out what he meant by that promise and statement:  'I promise to reduce the deficit by one-half of the $2.5 trillion I promise to spend on expanding health care, stimulus packages and general growth in government during my first 4 years in office!'

Which he did!  We only have $1.25 trillion deficits now staring us in the face for as long as we can see which is about 1/2 of the money he spent!

I guess what finally turned me around was when some progressive liberals pointed out to me the abject fact that President Obama has changed the culture of Washington from one of bitter confrontation to one of civil discourse, compromise, bold principled leadership and a willingness to sacrifice his own political future for the good of the nation as a whole.  And our children's future.  And our children's children's future.

Everything he has done and said says: 'Welcome to my political opponents!  Come, let's sit down and smoke the peace pipe and drink the beers in the Rose Garden of respect!'

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

'This Has The Added Benefit of Being True!'

“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”-Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger was the National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford in the 1970's. He was also quite the quote-meister as evidenced above.

We love finding data that goes against the 'conventional wisdom' of the day which many times is neither 'wise' nor 'conventional'.  Herds of people tend to glom onto the facts they agree with and ignore the rest which makes it very difficult to engage in a lot of open-minded discussions with people from both ends of the political spectrum.

One such 'conventional wisdom' is that 'the rich are not paying their fair share of the taxes!'  Another is that 'the rich are all wealthy people who inherited their wealth from their rich granddaddies such as the Rockefellers and the Mellons and John Jacob Astor!'  One more is that 'In order to ever balance the budget, we must raise taxes on the rich to get there!'

“It is not a matter of what is true that counts, but a matter of what is perceived to be true.”-Great Kissinger Quote #2

If enough people say that something is 'absolutely true', well, after awhile, enough people come to believe it so that it is 'perceived to be true' whether it actually is or not.

We found the following charts in a tweet from James Pethokoukis of CNBC and the American Enterprise Institute which we think everyone should take a look at before swallowing any more of the 'conventional wisdom' you might see from any source on any given day. (full blog posting at Pethokoukis)

You might want to take a look at them before you enter your next political/tax/budget conversation.

1.  50% of the Millionaires Who File Tax Returns Earned $1 Million in 1 Year Only

So Lebron James and all the other NBA/NFL/MLB stars who earn tens of millions every year are in the same category as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett as the 'filthy rich' because they actually earn over $1 million annually for a period of time versus the 50% of the people who make a million in one year due to the sale of a business or farm...and that is it.

2. Higher-Income Households Typically Have More Than 1 Income-Earner

Married people or people who file jointly tend to report higher incomes to the IRS than households with 1 income-earner. Stands to obvious reason, yes?

3. Baby Boomers Have Skewed the Numbers of High-Income Households As They Have Aged

The Boomers have been the pig in the python for everything from the explosion of elementary and secondary schools being built in the 1950's and '60's to the 'Flower Power' of the late '60's/early '70's to the high number of homes built in the '80's and '90s to the amazing growth expected in Medicare and Social Security over the next 20 years. Once the vast numbers of Boomers go on to the Great Beyond, the income disparity should decline.

4.  Business Income for Smaller Private Companies and Partnerships Will Be Hit By Any Increase in Taxes on Incomes Over $200,000

It won't just be the 'fat cats' on Wall Street who will be dinged by any increase of taxes on income over $200,000 if President Obama gets his way on the tax impasse we are now facing.

5.  We Could Confiscate The ENTIRE INCOME EARNED by Everyone in America Who Made Over $1 Million in Income (including LeBron James) in 2010....and We Would STILL NOT BALANCE THE BUDGET!

This one is so self-evident that it doesn't need any amplification.

"This has the added benefit of being true". -Kissinger Quote #3

So do these charts.  Take a look at the full panoply of charts in Mr. Pethokoukis' blog noted above or go to the Tax Foundation website and download them yourself.  We can show you similar charts from CBO, OMB, the 'Green Book' from the House Ways and Means Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation.  They all show the same basic facts which is where the Tax Foundation no doubt draws much of the data for their charts.

There is a big difference between taxes paid and marginal tax rates. There is also a big difference between what you hear on the news everyday and read in the newspapers versus what the actual facts are.

Arm yourself with facts and figures.  You'll be surprised how much easier it is to talk to people about these momentous issues we face...namely because you will 'dazzle them with your brilliance' and perhaps stir up some of the preconceived notions they have embedded in their brains.

Friday, September 21, 2012

'The Nearest Thing to Eternal Life on Earth is a Government Program!'

Federal budgeting can be very confusing at times.

But at its core, it is very simple arithmetic. As in 'addition and subtraction'. No advanced calculus required, ring theory or Boolean algebra. Just 1+1=2. Or preferably if you are a spending budget hawk: 100-50=50 as in 'reduce many federal programs by 50%...and hardly anyone would know the difference'.

Take a look at how President Obama's economic stimulus has been recorded in official CBO documents in the summary chart here. (We don't make this up out of thin air, you know)

As of the year 2006, the projections for federal spending (bottom chart titled 'Budget Outlook Baseline') for the next year, FY 2007 and the next five years looked 'pretty normal': 4.4% growth one year; 4.2% the next..somewhere in the 4%-4.7% vicinity for as far as the eye could see.

Well, 2008 comes around and the banking system melts down like Three Mile Island or Chernobyl.  All hell breaks loose and in 2009, President Obama and the Democratic Congress pass their stimulus bills and federal spending leaps $534 billion to $3.518 trillion in just one year.

A whopping 18% increase in one single fiscal year.

Truth be told, some of this bailout expense started under President Bush in the fall of 2008 before President Obama took office but Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the House and Harry Reid was Senate Majority Leader. Had the Republicans stayed in control of Congress, much of this initial outlay may have been about the same amount of money.

But would it have stayed as high for this long?

Typically, 'stimulus bills' are passed in a year with the hopes they will work and then they evaporate so the baseline could return to its normal trajectory.  

Well, we have had an amazing amount of stimulus spending that simply has not worked to reinvigorate the economy and stimulate the creation of millions of jobs that typically happen coming out of a recession, deep or shallow...and the high increased level of federal spending hasn't 'evaporated' yet to allow the baseline to fall back to its normal trajectory, has it?

Take a look at the actual performance of the budget for 2010-2011.  According to the 2006 projection, federal outlays in 2010 were 'expected' to be $3.105 trillion.  Actual federal spending totaled $3.456 trillion, $351 billion above baseline expectations just 4 years previously and not much less than in 2009, the BIG YEAR of stimulus spending and TARP bailouts. (see TARP for a detailed mind-numbing discussion of how The Credit Reform Act of 1990 deals with present-value accounting of the TARP cash flows)

What the heck does this all mean?

It means that we have not returned to the baseline projections of 2006 yet and probably won't for quite some time, if ever.  The baseline took a sharp 11% stair-step up in 2009.....and has stayed there for the last two years.

That is a $1.231 trillion accumulated hike in the underlying baseline that will probably never be allowed to go  back down to the normalized baseline of 2006.


Because all of these programs are now deeply embedded into the American governmental structure. As we all know, NO federal program ever gets eliminated once it is put into place. NO federal program ever suffers an absolute real cut from this year's levels because of baseline budgeting (which always projects an overall increase of at least the expected inflation rate plus 1%-2% in future overall growth in federal spending).

As Ronald Reagan used to say: (take your pick, they are all choice quotes)
  • "The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program."
  • "Government is like a baby: An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other."
  • "The taxpayer: That's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination." *
This time, the crisis of 2009 helped ramp up overall federal spending to a much higher baseline level than before...and no one is talking about it right now.

Our tax receipts will never catch up to the rate of growth in spending until spending growth is held below the rate of inflation for at least 5 years running.

That is what the next President can help achieve.  Even if he just pushes the veto button on his desk on every spending bill that gets there from Congress.

Who do you think will do that....President Obama (who has vetoed only 2 bills total in 4 years in office, second fewest in American history behind only James Garfield who served for only 200 days in 1881 before his assassination) or Mitt Romney who vetoed at least 800 bills during his four years as Governor of Massachusetts?

It is your choice.

*Some more choice Reagan quotes to use whenever you want:

"I've laid down the law, though, to everyone from now on about anything that happens: no matter what time it is, wake me, even if it's in the middle of a Cabinet meeting." 

"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first." 

"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it"

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Balance the Federal Budget...Today...Your Own Way

'Defense gets this many, entitlements get this many'
This on-line 'game', Reduce the Federal Deficit, just came out from the Concord Coalition, a group that has been dedicated to balancing the budget since before it was cool and deadly essential in today's world.

With all due respect to aficionados of other on-line games such as Angry Birds, Farmville and Scrabble, this might be the most important on-line game you ever play.

Namely for 2 reasons:

1) You and the friends you send it to will actually know more about the federal budget than apparently anyone in Congress today (since they obviously don't know how to balance the budget)

2) The more registered voters in America who will take what they learn on this game and then contact their elected representative or senators to tell them what to do based on this 'game', the higher the degree of chance they might actually do something in the lame-duck session that is coming up after the election.

Such as: pass Bowles-Simpson; fix the fiscal cliff, re-pass and re-institute the PAYGO budget mechanism that worked so well during the last (and only) decade when we ran balanced budgets, the late 1990's...that sort of thing.

Based on what we have seen over these past 12 years, we think a room full of chimpanzees typing away randomly on a computer keyboard actually has a higher probability of balancing the budget than our current elected leaders in Congress and the White House.


Because there is actually the slim chance that the chimpanzee budget committee will do so by random chance.  There has been zero probability with the humans now in office over the last 12 years, hasn't there?

We took the test and balanced the budget in 4 years or so and ran a $4.7 trillion surplus by year 10 which would be used to pay down at least the debt incurred over these past four dismal years.

Take the test and then post your 'scores' in the comment section below.

It is not 'rocket science, you know.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

CRS Says What?: 'Tax Rates Don't Matter When It Comes to Economic Growth!'

'Tax Cuts for the Rich Don't Work!'
The non-partisan Congressional Research Service just came out with a report that is sure to make its way into the presidential debate this year so you better read it soon:  'Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates from 1945-2012'

In it, the author claims: 'The evidence does not suggest necessarily a relationship between tax policy with regard to the top tax rates and the size of the economic pie, but there may be a relationship to how the economic pie is sliced.'

In other words, he is saying: 'tax cuts for the rich don't spur economic growth but they do make rich people richer' and by implication, 'poor people poorer'.

This report is loaded like a stick of dynamite so be careful how you use it.  Either way.

First of all, taxes are not supposed to be used to affect social policy.  Taxes were viewed by our Founders in 1789 for one purpose and one purpose only:  'How are we going to pay for this new federal government we just created?'
'We have got an army to supply, a navy to build.  Roads and post offices have to be built.  We have to pay for these new judges in the judicial branch that we really don't know exactly what they will do yet. (3 Supreme Court Justices resigned from their lifetime appointments in the first 12 years of the Republic because they were bored with the job).
How are we going to do that?
Consumption taxes in the form of excise taxes on imported goods, that is how they did it.  That is also how the young Republic funded most if not all of their funding needs for most of the first 60 years of existence.

You think the Founders thought higher taxes imposed on therm by King George III retarded their economic growth? Sure they did!  They fought a war over it to get away from onerous taxes imposed on them without representation.

Today we have taxation....with representation!  So go figure that one out and report back to us if you can.

Anyway, the Young American Republic grew and within a period of less than 100 years of existence, became the most powerful world economy and supplanted even mighty Britain and France after the Industrial Revolution.

One common theme?  Low and consistent tax rates that businesses could plan on and take into account for future planning. The income tax was tried during the Civil War to pay for Union troops but was declared unconstitutional before the 16th Amendment was passed in 1913 making income taxes constitutional.

So the 'highest marginal income tax rate' had absolutely nothing to do with the first 100 years or so of exceptional American economic history, right?  Cause there was none.

Fast forward to the latter part of the 20th century, circa 1970 or so. The American economy had grown infinitely more complicated and dynamic than in the late 19th century with a lot more moving parts from the government side of things at least:  EPA, OSHA, put several letters together and you could name your own federal agency it seemed.

Tax policy came to be seen more as a 'social tool' to influence behavior and fairness in America than paying our collective bills somehow.

'We want more people to own homes!' (hence the mortgage deduction which affects the tax code, doncha know?)

'We want more rich people to pay their fair share!' (this debate has been going on since time immemorial but especially since the robber baron trust-busting times under Teddy Roosevelt...who was no pauper himself coming from the wealthy Roosevelt clan)

'We want to let Hollywood movie companies write off the first $15 million of their production costs immediately instead of amortizing it over a period of time because...well, because Hollywood actors and filmmakers gave us $100 million in campaign contributions last year at their swanky Beverly Hills homes!' (truth be told)

Here's an argument we never hear opponents of tax cuts bring up:
'If taxes don't affect personal or economic behavior, then why do you want to always raise taxes on cigarettes, alcohol and 64 oz Big Gulp sodas as they just did in New York City under Mayor Bloomberg?  If you want to get 'less of something', don't you raise taxes on that item or activity to help speed its demise?'
What we don't understand is why applying that same logic to income tax rates doesn't ring true as well:

'If we apply higher taxes to producers of economic growth, won't we get less of it?'

You really can't have it both ways, now can ya?  I mean, really, c'mon. Taxes either affect someone's behavior or they don't, plain and simple.  Which is it?

And is 'less economic growth' what we really want right now when 23 million people are un/underemployed in America right now?

Read the report for yourself and see what you think.  We acknowledge there are tons of things that go into economic growth and success, inflation expectations, technological developments and direct competition to name just three of them.

But we think we need to reset the entire tax system in America and return to the days when raising taxes, a set in concrete sole Constitutional duty of Congress, was done to raise money to pay for our government, not the million other reasons why tax hikes or cuts are considered today.

We think a return to a straight consumption tax with some allowances for lower-income folk would alleviate a lot of problems we face with inequities in the current income tax code and would even affect our campaign finance practices (no loopholes to reason to spend a ton of money protecting them, yes?)

You are going to be hearing a lot about this CRS report we think.  You ought to read it first.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

'That Darn George W. Bush!'

Here's some data we recently 'discovered' that tells the 'true' story of America under the second 4-year term of George Walker Bush, our 43rd President who served for 2 terms.  His first term was consumed by 9/11, Iraq and Homeland Security, that is for sure.  But take a look at his second term from 2004-2008 through these eyes:

  • '#1: Between January of 2004 and 2008, the median household lost $4,019 in annual income.
  • #2: Median household income fell every year of the Bush Administration.
  • #3: Bush added nearly $5 TRILLION to the national debt in his second term.
  • #4: Bush added more than $1 TRILLION to the national debt every year of the second term of his Presidency.
  • #5: The federal government borrowed 44 cents of every dollar it spent while Bush was President for the last 4 straight years of his Presidency.
  • #6: A gallon of regular gas cost $1.86 on average across America on President Bush’s first day in office. It cost $3.86/gallon on average on the day he left office on January 20, 2009.
  • #7: The official unemployment rate was 5% in 2004 when W won his second term based on such good economic news in his previous 4 years.
  • #8: It was 8.2% when Bush left office in 2009.
  • #9: Unemployment rate was over 8% for 43 straight months of the second Bush Administration.
  • #10: The true unemployment rate was 11.2% under Bush if you use the size of the labor force as in stood in January 2005 when he was sworn in for his second term after 4 good years of economic growth.
  • #11: If you use the labor participation rate (LPR) at the 3-year average of 65.8 percent, the unemployment rate was actually 11.7 percent under Dubya's second term. Millions of people left the labor market because they were too discouraged to look for work in his terrible economy, so the official unemployment rate under Bush was artificially low.
  • #12: LPR for men fell to 69.9 percent. This was the lowest level for male participation in the American workforce since the government started tracking this number in 1948.
  • #13: How did the US do compared to two years previous to 2008? The percentage of working age Americans that were employed in 2008 was smaller then than it was in 2006. In August 2006, 58.5 percent of working-age Americans had jobs. In August 2008, 58.3 percent of working-age Americans had jobs.
  • #14: Since George W. Bush won the White House for the second time in 2004, the number of long-term unemployed Americans rose from 2.7 million to 5.2 million.
  • #15: In 2008, more than half of all Americans were at least partially financially dependent on the government.
  • #16: The U6 unemployment rate stood at 14.7% in 2008 when you count part-time workers who would like full-time work and when you count those who have not looked for work in four weeks or more but who want work. Many economists say this was the true unemployment rate under W.
  • #17 The percentage of working-age Americans with a job was below 59 percent for 35 months in a row.
  • #18: 58 percent of the jobs created under W were low income jobs such as flipping hamburgers at McDonalds. (Source: National Employment Law Center)
  • #19: More than 104 million Americans were enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government. There were 88 means-tested federal welfare programs in existence under W..
  • #20: The number of Americans on food stamps grew from 31.9 million when George W. Bush was re-elected to the White House in 2004 to 46.7 million in 2008.
  • #21: One quarter of all U.S. children were enrolled in the food stamp program in 2008.
  • #22: Since Bush won his second term as president in 2004, the number of Americans living in poverty rose by 6.4 million in his last 4 years in office.
  • #23: While Bush was been president, U.S. home values fell by 11 percent.
  • #24: More than 10 million homeowners were underwater on their mortgages.
  • #25: Electricity bills in the United States rose faster than the overall rate of inflation for four years in a row under W. (Source: USA Today)
  • #26: When Bush was President, the velocity of money (one of the best measures of the economy’s overall health) plunged to a post-World War II low.
  • #27: More than three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2004 as were sold in 2008 under Bush's second term as President.
  • #28: The United States was ranked #1 in the world in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita before Bush's second term started. By 2008, the US slipped to #11 — behind countries such as Brunei and Norway, according to the World Fact Book published by the CIA.
  • #29: The United States ranked #1 in terms of economic competitiveness when George Bush was elected President for the second time. By 2008, the U.S. economy had fallen to 7th place, according to a report by the World Economic Forum — behind countries such as Sweden, the Netherlands, and Finland.
  • #30: More than 10 million U.S. households in 2008 did not have a bank account. That number increased by one million under George W. Bush.
  • #31: In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance. By the end of W's second term in the White House, only 55.1 percent were covered by employment-based health insurance.
  • #32: Health insurance costs spiked up by $3,065 for the average American family during Bush's second term — a 23 percent increase (Source: Kaiser Family Foundation)
  • #33: Health insurance costs spiked up even faster under Bush's second term than his first term which was bad enough.'

You will notice we use a lot of parentheses in these postings to connote a sense of 'humor', 'sarcasm' and 'falsehoods' at times. Sometimes we use the ' just to make sure you are paying attention.

If you found yourself nodding in agreement as you read the 33 points above about the 'abysmal' Bush record as president, then you might want to consider just how objective you are in your political philosophy and general outlook on life.

Because these 'facts' noted above are exactly what has happened under President Barack Obama during his first four years as President, not Dubya's.  We have just changed the names and the tenses of the words to make it look and sound like 'it really was all W's fault!' that Obama inherited a terrible economy and all of the other blame he has sought to cast on his predecessor for the past 4 years.

Well, you know, President George Bush was dealt a low blow just 8 months into his Presidency on 9/11, remember? Things were going pretty well since that the economy was coming out of a mild recession at the end of the Clinton Administration (we are gonna have recessions and booms in America as long as we have a capitalist system you know) and then all hell broke loose when those planes hit the Twin Towers in NY and the Pentagon in Northern Virginia.

Did he spend 4 years blaming Clinton for not taking more concerted action against Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda and giving him a crummy economy to start with?  Nope. Our very best Presidents have never looked back and blamed his predecessor.

Lincoln didn't blame the feckless James Buchanan for 4 straight years for doing absolutely nothing to avoid the on-coming Civil War.  Buchanan, our only bachelor President, showed his mettle for leadership (or lack thereof) by leaving Lincoln a note in the desk in the Oval Office that read: 'My dear sir, if you are as happy on entering the White House as I on leaving, you are a happy man indeed.'

Our point here is to point out the differences in the public perception and media coverage of the same office but decidedly different men and different political parties.  We remember the media going absolutely BONKERS in the fall of 2008 over the fact that gas prices were rising from $1.81 a gallon earlier in the Bush Administration to $3.80/gallon during the McCain/Obama campaign and it was 'all W's Fault!'

All of it, which is sort of hard to believe, isn't it?

Well, today under President Barack Obama, it is $3.81/gal and heading towards $4.00/gallon and nary a peep out of the mainstream media anywhere as far as we can tell.  Families are just as hurt in the wallet now by filling up their gas tanks with $50-$75 worth of gas every 10 days or so as they were in 2008...what is the difference between 2012 and 2008 other than the fact that we have an African-American Democratic President today versus a white Caucasian Republican President then?

There must be something else going on nowadays where the same set of facts can elicit such a different reaction from people. Is it the fact that President Obama is our first African-American President in our history and people are willing to cut him some more slack than a white Caucasian President such as W?

Is it that America has suddenly become a center-left nation after almost 2 centuries of being a center-right nation politically? Or is it because the news media and polling firms have become so ardently liberal and extreme in their political outlook skewing to the left (in most cases) that they selectively chose to present the same set of facts in a positive light for President Obama because he is a Democrat whereas they would have excoriated and eviscerated W for having exactly the same set of records under his watch?

Maybe it is time for us all to step back and actually take Martin Luther King's inspiring words to heart when he said: 'I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.'

We think character issues are important but we think it is far more important in this crucial election to look at the executive management abilities of each candidate above basic decency issues. Leadership ability as in 'bringing people together' to get to some common-sense solutions for everyone, not just one faction or another, is a crucial component of electing a president. Having a deep understanding of how to balance budgets and how free enterprise works at the core level is essential to getting this economy growing once again so everyone who wants to work can find a job, don't you agree?

We are asking people to look at the facts and make up their own decisions based on them, not what the media tells you to think or even some blogger like me.  Not only for the presidential race but for the US Senate races now up for grabs in 34 states; the US House races and every race down to dogcatcher, if they still have elections for those nowadays.

If you can take a look at the above list of economic statistics and honestly say in your heart of hearts that you are proud of President Obama's economic achievements and that he has America 'on the right track', then by all means, vote for him in November.

If you don't think he has done a great job as our Chief Executive, you can either vote against him or for Governor Mitt Romney, take your pick. One way or another, you'll be expressing your dissatisfaction with the job performance of Barack Obama over these past 4 years.

One wag on a sports show commented after Art Shell was hired as the first African-American head football coach in the NFL to lead the Oakland Raiders in 1989: 'We will really know when some sense of equality is achieved in the NFL when black coaches are fired for their record with the same regularity that white coaches are.'

A Sports Illustrated article in 2011 contains these astounding American words, not black, not white, not Latino but American in nature:  'As black coaches lose more games, Madden and other supporters nod with satisfaction. This "drop-off" is the ultimate validation of the Rooney Rule, an indication that black coaches are being held to the same standards as their white counterparts.'

President Barack Obama now has a 4-year record just like George Bush 43, George H.W. Bush 41, Bill Clinton and every other President going back through FDR to Lincoln to George Washington himself.

Hold him to the same standards you would hold any other President.  It is your choice.

* thanks to Ben Hart for compiling this list

Friday, September 14, 2012

'Quantitativus Sedatus III' or QE3: What Does The Latest Action by the Fed Really Mean?

You're Gonna Do WHAT with QE3??????
This might not be the precise translation of 'quantitative easing' from English to Latin but given the rest of the actions by the Federal Reserve over the past 4 years, it is about as easily understood.

What it means, for anyone paying attention, is that the Central Bank, under the leadership of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is saying the following pretty darned clearly right now:

'Whatever has been done, or not been done, in Washington over the past 4 years just ain't working!'

Think about it for a moment. Why in the world would a single unelected leader of our central bank propose to manipulate the money supply of the United States of America pretty much on his own, with some input and vote from his Board, of course, in order to stimulate the economy and lower unemployment....if everything President Obama and the Democratic Congress passed from 2009-2010 worked exactly as planned?

With the US Senate completely AWOL under the leadership (sic?) of Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid and the GOP Congress and President Obama unable to come to any agreement on, well....anything! for the past two years, it appears that Mr, Bernanke has taken the bull by the horns and then rolled the dice, to mix a few metaphors, and said to himself: 'I hope this all works out ok and we don't get gored by explosive inflation one day!'

Here's a pretty good summary of the Fed's actions yesterday in Bloomberg News.

Two things jump out at you pretty starkly.  One is that apparently the prospect of low (next to zero!) interest rates for the next 4 years is not the sole determinant of economic growth and investment that many believed as in the 1980's and 1990's.  If you had told ANYONE that you could borrow money for 2% in 1980 when interest rates were 21%, they would have thought you had come out of Ward and June Cleaver's 'Leave it to Beaver' neighborhood in the Eisenhower Administration when interest rates were considered low then.

The second thing that jumps out at you is this stark announcement:
'When the Fed’s current program to swap short-term Treasuries with longer-term securities expires at the end of the year, the central bank will also start outright purchases of U.S. government debt, according to Harris, the author of “Ben Bernanke’s Fed: The Federal Reserve After Greenspan.”'
So...let's get this straight:  The quasi-governmental arm of the US government, The Fed, is going to start to buy up debt, which is now being created by Congress and the President to the tune of $100 billion+ per month, instead of letting the Chinese or the Saudi princes continue to do so (why? are they backing off now?) ...and The Fed is going to pay for this purchase of government debt just how exactly again....with their so-called 'expansion of the balance sheet'?

Isn't that just like making 'money' up out of thin air?

What happens when the Federal Reserve dog finally 'catches' the parked car he was chasing?  Now what does that dog do?  How does he unlock the door, put the key in the ignition, put his paws on the steering wheel and put his other hind paw on the accelerator to get this economy going again in actual practice?

Is the Fed buying up all this debt going to somehow 'magically' get private businesspeople to start hiring in the face of massive tax hikes, massive new regulations being issued by the Zeuses in Washington and general uncertainty about whether anything good will ever come out of Washington again?

Imagine this, ladies and gentlemen. Long about the early 1980's, Congress and President Reagan had come together to solve the issue of explosive health care inflation which primarily drives up the federal costs of Medicare and Medicaid at 3 times the rate of inflation in the rest of the economy.

No, let's make that President George Herbert Walker Bush 41 and Congress from 1989-1992.

No, let's give President William Jefferson Clinton and two years of a Democratic Congress to begin with and a 6-year term of a GOP Congress time to solve the entitlement crisis from 1993-2000.

Even as late as the year 2000, we had a chance to resolve our differences on the tough Medicare and Medicaid issues, come to some agreement on how to take the upwards cost drivers out of health care in general and guess what?

We would have had balanced budgets for the past 12 years, assuming (and this is a HUGE assumption), we had kept the PAYGO budget mechanisms in place which would have forced Congress to pay for any new expansion of programs, tax cuts or war efforts with higher taxes or spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.

Had we had balanced budgets for the past 12 years, and normal economic growth of course which was disrupted when the oversight of our banking system failed so miserably in 2008, no one today would know who Ben Bernanke is.  He could be the starting center for the Washington Wizards or the Charlotte 'Cats for all most people would know.


Because there would have been no need for the Federal Reserve Chairman to feel as if he had to be Superman and he alone is responsible for 'fixing' our economy!

There would be next to zero new debt to finance; the private sector would gladly snap up any new issuances of government-backed debt if there were any issued.

The Fed Chair then might have had the 'most boring job in America' since the first Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay offered his resignation to President Washington in 1795 stating that there was nothing of any merit for him to do as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  Ben Bernanke could just walk into work each day, each some oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, make sure the money supply is growing with the economy and then go play tennis or golf or play chess all afternoon.

Our point is that it is the express responsibility of Congress and the President to make these sorts of cataclysmic decisions to resurrect our economy, not one man pulling the levers behind the green curtain like the Wizard of Oz.

This President has failed to 1) either lead his party when in control of Congress to make the right decisions to grow the economy or 2) work with the GOP Congress the last two years to come to some agreement (such as Bowles-Simpson; the debt ceiling compromise, the 'fiscal cliff' name it) that will provide some degree of assurance to the business community that some adults are in fact 'in charge' in Washington so they can go about investing and hiring people and making money.

We are tired of seeing Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke 'leading this country' on all economic matters instead of our President and Congress, aren't you?

It is up to you to decide if President Obama has done a great job and deserves re-election for four more years of similar results or not.

We think we have seen enough of this movie.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

RomneyCare Explained

Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute writing on what Governor Romney originally proposed in Massachusetts and what ultimately happened to it under an 87% Democratic majority in the legislature.(below)

The key thing to remember is that Romney originally proposed purchasing a high-end catastrophic health care plan to cover everyone in the state with income support based on need.  Which is precisely what we think is needed to improve Medicare and Medicaid for that matter and have thought so since 1991 when virtually everyone on the House Budget Committee Republican side thought the same thing!

The other thing to remember is that states are incubators of ideas for things such as health care reform basically because of the 10th Amendment where 'The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.'

Governors and legislatures are supposed to try new ideas out at the state level first before the federal government passes them into law!  If they don't work, don't pass them at the national level.

No Governor or President or legislature for that matter can pass a law etched into stone that no subsequent body or executive can ever amend (thank God!).  Same is what happened with Governor Romney in Massachusetts.

He started out with a goal for universal coverage utilizing the private sector which is precisely what every Republican advocated the entire time we were serving in Congress. Sounds like he would do the same thing as President if elected.

And, much to our ever-loving delight....Governor Romney will be 99.99% different from both President Bush 43 and President Obama 1:  ROMNEY KNOWS WHERE THE VETO PEN IS AND HOW TO USE IT!

That, in an of itself, is enough to elect him in our opinion.  Channel the spirit of the last veto-happy president, Gerald R. Ford and veto a few hundred spending bills, to hold spending constant for eight years and we will balance the budget through spending restraint alone.


(from Grace-Marie's post in the National Review)

'Illinois senator Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today that Mitt Romney is the “the baby daddy of Obamacare.”

In a piece I wrote for The American Spectator this spring, “Romney’s best defense: The truth about Romneycare,” I explained that the final version of the Massachusetts law diverged significantly from Romney’s vision for reform. He vetoed eight provisions, all of which were overridden by the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature. And Romney’s successor, Governor Deval Patrick, has taken a much more liberal approach to implementing the law.

I argued that Romney could calm conservatives worried about Romneycare “if he were to more fully explain the difference between his vision for reform and the law that ultimately was enacted in Massachusetts.”

Here are the relevant excerpts:

During the presidential debate in Jacksonville, Florida, in late January, Romney took a small step in this direction when he acknowledged that his successor, Gov. Deval Patrick, has taken a much more liberal track in implementing Romneycare.  ”If I were governor,” Romney said, “it would work a heck of a lot better.” Indeed, when it passed the law, the legislature was counting on a Democrat governor to succeed Romney to put the real regulatory thumb screws in place.

The Massachusetts law is different in important ways from the plan that Romney pushed as governor. Few voters know, for example, that Romney strongly opposed the employer mandate and wanted an escape from the individual mandate — allowing people to instead be able to post a bond if they were uninsured and had big medical bills. When Romney signed the law, he believed it contained the escape hatch, but legislators removed it before final passage.

Romney vetoed eight provisions of the Massachusetts bill, and every one of his vetoes was overridden by the legislature. Should Romney have known this was likely? Yes. Should he have known exactly what he was signing? Absolutely. But voters may be more forgiving if he tells them he wanted to give citizens and employers a way out. . . .

Gov. Romney’s support for states’ rights is important, saying the law worked for Massachusetts but that other states need their own solutions in our diverse and complex country. But conservatives would feel better knowing what he initially proposed in the Bay State. For example:

• Mandate escape. Few voters know that Romney wanted an escape from the individual mandate. Voters may be more forgiving if he were to tell them he wanted to give citizens a way out and that he strongly opposed the employer mandate.

• Real insurance. Romney wanted people to be able to purchase real health insurance that would have covered catastrophic events. Instead, the legislature insisted on including all of the 50-plus health insurance mandates already on the books. The legislature allowed the high-deductible plans only for some young people aged 18-26.

After the Massachusetts law was passed by the legislature, Romney continued to try to reshape it with his line-item veto.

For example:

Employer mandate: Vetoed. The bill called for a mandate on employers with 11 or more workers to provide health coverage or pay an annual fee of $295 per worker. Overridden.

Covering certain immigrants: Vetoed. The bill included a provision that would allow some non-citizens to qualify for coverage under the new health plan. Overridden.

New bureaucracy: Vetoed. The bill created a powerful new bureaucracy, called the Public Health Council. Overridden.

Limiting improvements to Medicaid: Vetoed. The bill restricted changes to Medicaid to make the program more efficient. Overridden.

Gov. Romney must clarify that in working with a Republican Congress on a new health reform agenda, he would start with a very different vision than Romneycare and work much harder to make sure the consumer-friendly structure is what becomes law.

The Manhattan Institute’s Avik Roy (a Romney health-care adviser) takes an even deeper dive into the differences between the two laws. Highly recommended.'

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Monday, September 10, 2012

'Let's Celebrate the 99.9%!'

When Does A Tadpole Become A Frog?
As in '99.9% of the 'job creators', 'job-sustainers' and 'job-payers' who live and work in America.

Here's one fact that might blow your mind.  It should affect your view of 'business' in America and perhaps sway your opinion on who to vote for this fall.
'In 2009, there were 27.5 million businesses in the United States, according to Office of SBA Advocacy estimates. 
The latest available Census data show that there were 6.0 million firms with employees in 2007 and 21.4 million without employees in 2008.
Small firms with fewer than 500 employees represent 99.9 percent of the total (employers and nonemployers), as the most recent data show there were about 18,311 large businesses in 2007.'
The attacks against 'big, bad' American business are near about ludicrous as far as we can tell. Truly large businesses represent just .1% of ALL US businesses to begin with. The amount of corporate income taxes collected from all business, large and small, accounts for less than 9% of all federal tax collection each year..and probably 95% of the headaches in business and on Capitol Hill.

It is hardly worth the effort it seems most of the time.

Any attack on business in the US is an attack on the 99.9%, not just the large multinational conglomerates.


Because no one ever knows when a small business, such as Microsoft in 1979, might grow up to become a large business 5 years later or a huge multibillion dollar business 10 years later.

Here's our philosophical, metaphysical question for the day:

'At what precise point does a small business (which everyone says they 'love') become a 'big, bad business' that many people on the left say they 'hate' and need to be regulated to death?'

We love that the debate over whether 'corporations are people' was sparked by the Supreme Court Citizens United case a couple of years ago.  If small companies are made up of a 'small number of people', why doesn't it stand to common-sense and reason that a larger corporation is made up of a 'larger number of people' as well?

Let's go through a simple timeline to see if we can determine exactly when Bill Gates' 'little ole Microsoft' became 'HUMONGOUS  MICROSOFT' and whether it magically overnight became something 'bad' versus 'good' as a result:

1975 Revenues: $16,005 (that was their total revenue, not in '000's' or millions)
Employees: 3 (Paul Allen, Bill Gates, and Ric Weiland)
1976-Revenues: $22,496
Employees: 7
1977-Revenues: $381,715
Employees: 9
1978-Revenues: $1,355,655
Employees: 13
1979-Revenues: $2,390,145
Employees: 28
1980-Revenues: $7,520,720
Employees: 40
1981-Revenues: $16,000,000
Employees: 128
1982-Revenues: $24,486,000
Employees: 220
1983 Revenues: $50,065,000
Employees: 476
1984 Revenues: $97,479,000
Employees: 608

Ok.  Let's stop the videotape right there, class.

At what precise point in the above progression and timeline did Microsoft go from being a 'small company made up of people' and a 'terrible big corporation made up of nameless, faceless robots that were out to seek and destroy the world!'?

Was it between 3 and 7 employees?  7 and 9? 13 and 128? 220 and 608?

You see our point?  Trying to find the precise point in the continuum between when small companies are made of only 'good' people and corporations made of only 'bad' people is like trying to find the precise point when a tadpole becomes a frog.  The truth is a frog was always a tadpole before it became a frog.

Large companies all started out as small companies. Microsoft was one of the 6 million small companies in the SBA data long before it became a huge corporation on its way to employing over 30,000 people today around the globe.

What would you rather see happen in America over the next 4 years?
A) Each of the 27 million single proprietorships hire one more person and reduce the number of the un/underemployed people who want to work from 23 million to -4 million (meaning get ready for more immigration)?
B) Spend some more money on more federal programs to support those 23 million people who are out of work or looking for more meaningful work and ring up more debt for your children and grandchildren?
What is it going to take to get those 27.4 million small businesses to hire more people?

For one thing, every small business, as well as large business, is looking for 'stability' to come out of Washington. They want a high degree of confidence that tax rates will stay the same for a long period of time.  They want this 'fiscal cliff' to be fixed before the end of tomorrow, not on December 31.  They want the amount of federal and state and local regulation to go down, not up as it has done over the past 4 years for sure and generally over the past 30 years. 

They want an Administration and a Congress that will look at their investments and many times incredible risk-taking effort in a positive light.  They do not like or appreciate any politician from the President on down denigrating what they do on a daily basis to build a business and make enough money to take care of: 1) themselves and their families first; 2) their employees second and then 3) pay taxes to help take care of everyone else.

They should be saluted.  And honored.  And celebrated. Not penalized, ridiculed, over-taxed and over-regulated.

After all, without them, we wouldn't have the taxes they pay to use for our common defense, provide for a social safety net or build the roads we all say we want.

Keep these SBA figures in mind the next time you hear some politician or candidate rip into business or say someone 'isn't paying their fair share'.  They are already doing more than their 'fair share' just by providing the products and services they produce on a daily basis.

We need and want more of them to grow up and become the next great success story such as Microsoft or Apple, don't we?

It is the only way out of the economic mess we are in today.

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

'$16 Trillion (And Deeper In Debt) On the Front End and More Unemployment on the Back End of the DNC Convention'

Here's some insight from Ed Goeas of the great polling firm, The Tarrance Group, about the connection between President Obama's somewhat muted enthusiasm during his speech Thursday night in Charlotte and the awful job numbers announced 10 hours later Friday morning.
'We now know why the President's speech was flat (Thursday) night . . . he received the latest jobs numbers (Thursday) afternoon that we are now seeing this (Friday) morning.
Only 96,000 new jobs created when estimates were 125,000 (for the month of August).
More importantly, while unemployment number dropped from 8.3% to 8.1%, it was because 368,000 more Americans gave up looking for work. That's 3.8 workers giving up and leaving the workforce for every new (single) job created. 
Democratic Convention bracketed by the National Debt going over $16 trillion on the front end and a bad jobs report on the back end.
The real question is: "Can we afford four more years of Barack Obama with the lowest percentage of adult Americans working in 32 years?"
Just to put some meat on the bones of this most recent jobs report, here is a visual description of what has happened in the adult job-seeking and eligible market for the past 32 years since Ronald Reagan took office in the midst of perhaps the second worst recession after this one since the Great Depression.
Labor Participation % Rate
This is data collected straight from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as dry of a statistical analysis place as there can be on Planet Earth.  It is like the coal mines of Pennsylvania; hardcore essential work is done in both places but what they bring out of both of these 'mines' helps fuel the economy, coal for industry and power plants and labor and economic data for business planners and investment people.

What this amazing chart tells us is this:

Beginning long about 1982 or so, or when the recession that started under President Carter that brought us 21% interest rates and 12% annual inflation (don't laugh, young people!  It happened here in America and it could happen again) finally began to abate and President Reagan's policies started to take root, more and more women started to enter the work force and the advent of the two-income families started in earnest.

Some of it was because of economic necessity.  Ever try paying a 21% home mortgage on one income?  Many women were literally forced into the workplace just to be able to help pay the mortgage to keep their homes and to pay for the bread on their table that was doubling in price seemingly every time they went to the local food store.

Much of it had to due with the rising freedoms women were demanding in the workplace as well as equal rights across the board.  Today, many universities have student bodies consisting of close to 2/3's female students and businesses and boardrooms are fully integrated with men and women sharing responsibilities and leadership roles.

So let's take another look at this chart and ask: 'What was the population of America in 1980 and what does that mean for the current jobs report that came out yesterday?'

In 1980, total US population was 226.5 million people. In 2012, it is roughly 310 million people.

Between 75-80% of the population is over the age of 16 in any given year. That would mean close to 181 million people were considered 'adults' in 1980 and 248 million in 2012.

Not every adult can or wants to work given their age (retirement); health or disability situation or just plain don't have to (married well or inherited it) or don't want to.

The key fact in any employment report that comes out is the 'labor participation rate' as indicated in the chart above. It is more important than the announced 'unemployment rate' because it captures the number of adults in the US economy who either: 1) have a job today and are currently working and 2) want to find a job and are currently looking for work.

If you get discouraged because you have been looking for work for a long time and can't find one or you can't or won't start your own business, then you 'drop out' of the official workforce and are no longer considered part of the active workforce for whatever reason.

It is like you have 'involuntarily retired' from the workforce.

THAT is the trend-line that is so very disturbing about the impact of the Obama policies as reflected in the chart above.

'It is going completely in the wrong direction.'

Statistical experts will say that the 'slope of the line shows a downward pattern' or 'analysis shows a regression to the mean that is in a downward trend' or something to that effect.

The average man on the street will just say: 'I can't find a job.  And that sucks! For me and my family!'

If you are a recent college grad, you might find work in the next year or two.  Or maybe not.

Care to bet the farm this year that President Obama's policies will finally come through and work by 2014 or 2015 and you can finally enter the workplace and move out of your parents' basement where the faded Obama posters from 2008 will still be hanging long after you are gone?

Didn't think so.

Getting back to the cold hard numbers, what does this 'participation rate' mean in terms of the numbers of people who were out of work in 1980 versus 2012?

It means that there were about 115 million Americans working or looking for work in 1980.  In 2012, that number has risen to 158 million Americans of all races, creeds and colors who are either working or capable and looking for work.

8% unemployment rate in 1980 meant that 6.7 million Americans were either out of work or stopped looking for work altogether.

8.1% today under President Obama means that close to 13 million Americans are either out of work or stopped looking for work altogether. That is a lot of pain and suffering that even we can empathize with Bill Clinton as he 'feels your pain' as well.

(Here's a link from the BLS for you to take a look at and see for yourself what has happened to employment and unemployment for the past 32 years yourself.  We don't make this stuff up, you know out of thin air like apparently some other people politics, on the news, in their blogs, whatever.  It is pretty dishonest, isn't it?)

It is up to you to decide whether or not this trend-line gets broken or not and starts to turn back upwards again. You could try to hire 13 million unemployed Americans if you want to and have the skills and tools to start a company that will absorb all these unemployed workers.

Or you can vote against President Obama who has doubled-down on the bet he has already made in his first 4 years as our President that more federal spending and regulation will somehow finally turn this economy around as he promised it would do in 2008.

There has never been a documented time in America where massive federal spending alone and debt-accumulation has 'turned the economy around' and ignited an economic boom outside of wartime such as World War II where all available manufacturing and science and development was dedicated to defeating Hitler and Tojo.

If you have read Keynes' short and actually pretty well-written and entertaining (for an economist at least) book, 'The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money' (how many of you have actually read it or know someone who will admit it?), you'll see that Lord Keynes himself primarily saw federal stimulus, either as direct spending or tax cuts (that is the other side of the same coin here) as a means to arrest the downward crash of economies and help people eat and at least put a stable floor in so the economy can at least breathe for awhile before trying to recover.

Well, we did that from 2009-2010.

But Keynes ALSO said that when the economy is stabilized and begins to grow again, federal stimulus should stop because the accumulation of too much debt is 'stupid, idiotic and reserved only for the criminally insane' in terms of public policy.

(ok, so we embellished a little bit sue us)

The 'animal spirits' described by yet another Brit, Adam Smith in 1776, need to be unleashed to take a recovering economy back to its more normal rates of growth and then employment will return to its historical mean or 'normal level'.

That is where President Obama and his advisors have got it all wrong now and are placing all the wrong bets on the table. His call for more regulation, more federal intervention and more taxes in the short-run run counter to even what Lord John Maynard Keynes advocated in his own book!

President Reagan proved that you could walk into a messy situation in 1981 and not blame your predecessor for leaving jelly stains on the White House linens, take control of the economy and lead it into an explosive time of optimism, growth and prosperity.

The perilous economic time Reagan came into was not a far distant second to the situation President Obama walked into in 2009.  You didn't hear him bitch and moan all the flipping time about Jimmy Carter after he was sworn in as POTUS in 1981, did you?

Reagan got it right.  Do you really trust President Obama's double-down bets on more federal spending will ever work or should we try a President Romney to help lead us out of this mess?

It truly is up to you to decide now.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

The Obama Acceptance Speech You Didn't Hear Last Night

Leon Spinks Defeats Muhammad Ali
Is it over yet?

By all indications and comments, President Obama's speech at the DNC Convention might have been the 4th or 5th best speech behind Michelle Obama's, Bill Clinton's and a couple of others.

It felt like we were watching Muhammad Ali in one of his last appearances in the ring where his 'Ali Shuffle' didn't 'shuffle' like when he was a fresh new face on the world boxing scene and his 'Rope-A-Dope' strategy only wore himself out, not George Foreman or his opponents.

We think it is sort of hard to issue soaring rhetoric for the future when there are 23 million Americans unemployed or underemployed.  Perhaps President Obama got an advance peek at the jobs numbers that are going to be announced this morning at 8:30 am and he was depressed by what he saw.

But that was not the performance last night most observers were expecting to come out of the mouth of the same man who said in 2004: 'We don't have a white America; we don't have a black America or an Asian America or a Latino America but a UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!'

Here's what we think President Obama could have said last night that would have been more 'honest' and truthful and to the heart of the matters that concern us all as Americans:

'My Fellow Americans:
These have been troubled times we have all come through over these past 4 years as I have served as your President.
I have to admit, just like every other person before me who has run eagerly for this vaunted office in the history of the American Republic, that the job has been far more difficult than anyone can ever imagine.
I wish I had not lusted so to attain this high position as the leader of the free world and our free nation before getting more experience in national government and yes, in the private sector.  I could have, and should have, broadened my scope, my understanding of how the free market works and my contacts and friendships across political lines before running for this sacred office.
Running for President is easy compared to governing as your Chief Executive who takes his orders from the Congress and Senate that you elect every other year.  Those Founders...they were truly brilliant men to have set up such a wonderful delicate balance of power in our representative democracy.
I stand at awe at what they gave us.
I believe we have a bright future ahead of us.  We always do as long as we Americans have and cherish freedom, justice and charity towards all as Lincoln reminded us in his Second Inaugural Address right before the Civil War ended and a senseless, cowardly assassin took his life away from us all.
I want to lead you again if you will have me as your leader.
'Mistakes?  I've made a few' as the song goes. I have learned on the job, just as my predecessors have learned on the job through good times and bad.
The most important thing I have learned over these past four years?  Leadership comes from the top. I am not just the leader of the Democratic Party in America or the progressive movement but the leader of the free nation of the United States of America and I always want that to be so for our children and our children's children.
I wish I had done a better job of reaching out to and working with the Republican minority in the House and Senate in 2009 to come to some common-sense solutions together on some of the problems we faced at that time.  Why?  Because I forgot the old adage of 'what goes around, comes around' and 'treat others as you would have them treat you.'
By the time the Republicans took back control of the House in 2010, I had already poisoned the well with them so much that if I were them, I wouldn't have wanted to work with myself either for the last 2 years!
Now, the greatest problem we face today is our growing national debt fueled by explosive annual deficits and spending.  Today, I am pledging to you, the American people, that I will sign the Bowles-Simpson Deficit Reduction Commission recommendations the day Congress sends it to my office.  I am no longer going to listen to David Axelrod and David Plouffe and Valerie Jarrett who have been insisting that I not touch those common-sense recommendations with a 20-foot pole.
Well, I am the President you all elected in 2008...and they are not.  They are my friends and advisors and that is it.
Once we settle the financial markets and give them confidence that we are actually acting like mature adults and taking bold constructive actions to address the imbalances in our national budget structure, I hope my Republican friends and not-yet friends will work with me and my Democratic brethren to deal with the whole host of other problems we have not dealt with yet in full:  entitlement reform; tax reform; enacting a self-sustaining energy policy; completely reforming and improving our national public education systems and yes, revisiting Obamacare so that it can serve as a base to provide health care access to everyone without breaking the fiscal piggy bank of our children and grandchildren.
I am not going to promise to you in soaring rhetoric tonight to write checks we can not cash, to issue proclamations that have no bearing on problems we all face together as a nation.
I have learned my lesson. I promise to do better for all people in this nation, not just the African-Americans in America or the Latinos in America or the Asians or the poor or the left  or the right in America but for all Americans.
I ask for your forgiveness for where I have failed in the past.  And I ask for your vote of confidence and trust as we face the future and win on every single problem we face.
May God truly bless America and may we all see the better angels of our nature in one another in these next four years.'
Senator Edward Everett, who gave the 2-hour elegy at Gettysburg as the featured speaker before Lincoln delivered his 3 minute masterpiece in 1863, would have been proud of President Obama last night had he delivered the speech above.

President Lincoln supposedly remarked to Senator Everett when he sat down after giving his Gettysburg Address: 'Well, that might not be remembered much by history'.

Senator Everett wrote a letter the next day to Lincoln that read: "I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes." Lincoln replied that he was glad to know the speech was not a "total failure".

President Obama had the chance last night to change the discourse and the tone of this campaign and set a new course for this nation.  It remains to be seen if he will take it.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

'The Man From Truth or Consequences, New Mexico''

'Let me tell you one more thing....'
Oops!  We meant to say: 'The Man from Hope, Arkansas!'

Aren't you getting a little tired of all this 'Hope' and 'Not Enough Change Left in Your Pockets' we keep hearing from the Democratic candidates?

Seriously. Bill Clinton can give a good speech.  He is a fantastic story-teller. He has a way to boil some very complicated and nuanced issues down into sound bites that every person from the moonshiner in the Ozarks of Arkansas to the Barons of Wall Street can understand.

How many times last night did you hear this phrase: 'Now, let me tell you one MORE thing!' (He spoke for over 50 minutes!  1 more hour and he would have rivaled Senator Edward Everett's 2-hour funeral oration ('ordeal' was more like it) before Abraham Lincoln gave his 2.5 minute masterpiece at Gettysburg)  Or how about: 'Hear me out on this!' 'Listen to me cause I am telling you the truth now!'

As opposed to 'not telling the truth in the past' perhaps?

We think it is more than high time to elect a President who hails from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico perhaps. As in: 'Who will tell the American people the truth about the dire situation facing us today and not try to lie or weasel his way into getting elected or re-elected to the White House?'

How many times did Bill Clinton tell the truth last night and how many times did he 'lie' (OK, 'fib' to use a lighter word) about his record and that of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney?

Let us count the ways:

1. 'Nobody could have fixed this economy any faster, not even me!' 

Well, even the North Korean judge would have to give President Clinton a perfect 10 for chutzpah on this score.

Presidents don't 'fix' the economy.  Private sector businessmen and women and the people who work at their places of business 'fix' the economy. Presidents can propose legislative policies to Congress which then has to pass those policies into law that can and will affect these businesses one way or the other so then the President at the time can take 'credit' for creating jobs or the 'blame' for not doing so well in that regard.

'In 2009, there were 27.5 million businesses in the United States, according to Office of Advocacy estimates.The latest available Census data show that there were 6.0 million firms with employees in 2007 and 21.4 million without employees in 2008. Small firms with fewer than 500 employees represent 99.9 percent of the total ( employers and nonemployers), as the most recent data show there were about 18,311 large businesses in 2007. *

21.4 million+ self-proprietors make their own way every single day in America doing something productive by themselves.  Plumber, accountant, doctor, lawyer, contractor, retail clothes shop owner.  They go to work every single day and make something happen.

Not the President or Congress.  Not even Bill Clinton.

2. The Republicans are trying to say Obama rolled back welfare reform that I GOT PASSED UNDER MY ADMINISTRATION!'

Well, what you did not hear from President Clinton was the truth about his entire time in Washington.  We were there and lived through it all and up close and personal on Capitol Hill for the first 2 years of his first term.

If Bill Clinton was from Truth or Consequences, NM (meaning 'If I don't tell the truth, may God strike me down with lightning as a 'consequence' of my fibbing!'), he would have said this in all candor:

'I like being all things to all people.  I am sort of a political chameleon whom people can project whatever they want onto my persona and I can be that for them.  I like to make people happy.  That is who I am as a person growing up as a child of an alcoholic. And I can (and did) change on a dime when political opportunities opened up for me or obstacles got in my way.  '

Bill Clinton tried to pass Obamacare 1.0 when it was called 'Hillarycare' in 1993-1994.  It went nowhere in a massive Democratic-controlled House of Representatives AND US Senate. Almost 60% majorities in both Houses of Congress: 57 Democratic Senators; 82 seat Democratic majority in the House.

He had his head handed to him in the 1994 Republican Revolution....and then Bill Clinton had some sense knocked into him and he became the moderate Southern Democrat again that everyone thought he was when he ran for President in the first place.

We hate to disappoint you all but Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton.  We see zero chance of him ever turning into a moderate Southern Democrat simply because he is not one.  He is a big-time Chicago politician who believes in hardball, knock-down, drag-down politics to win at all costs.  His political philosophy doesn't come out of the DLC or the modern Southern moderate Democrat playbook (mainly because they are evaporating and vaporizing as fast as the Elizabeth Warrens of the Democratic Party can kick them out of the party)

He was dragged kicking and screaming by the GOP Congress to pass welfare reform that he took credit for last night. Congress sent it to him no less than 5 times before he finally signed into law...'and millions of people were taken from welfare to work...under MY Administration!' he says last night.

We guess the GOP Congress and Senate had nothing to do with the success of welfare reform.  Oy vey.  Whatever.

3.'We had the greatest job creation under MY ADMINISTRATION than at any other time in history!'

Check this link out about the actual job creation that occurred under each US President.

Here's what we don't get about President Barack Obama:  Every President elected since the Great Depression that has come in AFTER the recession has already started BEFORE he got elected has enjoyed an amazing bounce in popularity and support soon thereafter.

'Why?' you may ask.

'Simply because during the normal course of economic recovery, jobs typically explode coming off of a depressed base and that President gets the benefit of that recovery WHETHER HE HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT OR NOT!'

You do the right things as President right out of the chute on Day One of your Presidency to inspire confidence and get government out of the way of the private sector....and people will start investing and growing the economy again.  Most, if not all, of the business folk we talk with say they are petrified of hiring any more people because they don't know what the tax or regulatory environment is going to be under this President even 4 months from now.  (witness the 'fiscal cliff' if you want to know how to frustrate economic growth in the private sector as Exhibit B.  Obamacare is Exhibit A)

Bill Clinton got a massive boost in job growth in his first two years mainly because the recession of 1991-1992 hit during the tail-end of the only term of George H.W. Bush 41 in the White House and the economy was recovering by 1993-94 after Clinton was sworn in on January 20, 1993.

Had President Obama pursued a different course of action in 2009-2010 than the ones he pursued, we think this economy would be far better off and we would have far less debt to deal with going forward.  Economies respond to leadership and less regulations and piling on of federal control rather than the yokes and reins the Obama Administration tried to do as a copy from the FDR Administrations.

(Remember: The Great Depression lasted 10 FULL years under FDR.  There is evidence to suggest that had FDR adopted more free market policies long about 1930-32 or so, the American economy might have recovered faster long about 1934 or 35 or so instead of waiting until Pearl Harbor threw us in the WWII and the American manufacturing plant was converted into the most awesome war-making machine the world has ever known)

4. 'I balanced the budget from 1998-2001'

Coupled with the job growth under Bill Clinton was the concomitant balancing of the budget from 1998-2001 due to actions that President Clinton did in fact take during his term in office such as signing the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. But it was also due to other factors that all conspired to create a perfect storm of such that caused Washington to be awash in tax revenues at the exact same time that spending was held down to a 2% annual growth rate for the last 5 years of the 1990's decade.

Bill Clinton and the Democrats passed his first budget in 1993 that included tax hikes on the wealthy and other adjustments to income deductions and exclusions.  There were no Republican votes for these tax hikes.

Then GOP Majority Leader Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey took to the floor to announce that the US would encounter an 'economic Armageddon' if the tax hikes were passed.  They were passed and no Armageddon occurred.

Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin helped convince Wall Street that the Clinton White House had a plan to get our finances in order and interest rates plummeted which helped fuel the surge in new investment and jobs.

We were getting the salutary budget effects of the winding-down of the First Iraq War as the US entered a relatively peaceful time in our military history for close to an entire decade.

Internet gurus were just starting to gear up new businesses in the Silicon Valley and venture capital firms were just about to unleash perhaps the largest armada of investment capital in the US since the Industrial Revolution which later led to massive capital gains tax payments that even CBO analysts said were totally 'unexpected' and unplanned for. $100 BILLION in capital gains tax payments came in one year over estimates which meant something when annual federal budgets only totalled $1.8 trillion as of 1999 (versus $3.6 trillion 12 years later)

And the one thing President Clinton never mentions and failed to do so again as if on cue last night was the vast impact on the balanced budgets of 1998-2001 caused by the PAYGO and budgetary caps signed into law by President Bush 41 in the 1990 Budget Agreement.

Republicans in the 1990's adhered to those PAYGO requirements (because they worked) and overall spending growth was held to around 2% per annum for the last 5 years of the 90's decade. You can look it up but long-time readers know they can trust us by now to get all the facts they need right here.

We are further away from balancing the budget under President Barack Obama than the spaceship Voyager, which is about to leave our solar system after traveling for the past 35 years at 38,000 miles per hour, is away from Planet Earth.

While we might not be from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, we happen to know where Hell, Michigan and Looneyville, Texas are...and both are on 'yellow-brick roads' on the way 'paved with good intentions'.

We don't want to see America headed down the fiscally misguided roadmap for the future as has been laid out by President Obama and his advisors over these past 4 years.  No matter how good of a story-teller President William Jefferson Clinton might be.

*Source: Office of Advocacy estimates based on data from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau, and trends from the U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labour Statistics, Business Employment Dynamics 

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