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Paul Ryan on Tax Reform

   Posted by: Pat    in Budget/Economy, Congress   Print Print

Rep. Paul Ryan, who should do the country and a favor and run for President already, stars in this short and sweet video about how our current federal tax system is flawed and more importantly, how it can be fixed. Enjoy:

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Top Articles of the Week

   Posted by: Pat    in Budget/Economy, China, Congress, Top Articles, Uncategorized   Print Print

Here are this week’s Top 5:

1. American’s Desire for Earned Success – Pollster and pundit Michael Barone pontificates on why Democrats’ plans for winning over the majority of Americans – by buying them off with entitlements and benefits – isn’t working:

Why aren’t voters moving to the left, toward parties favoring bigger government, during what increasingly looks like an economic depression?…

I think the larger mistake the Obama Democrats have made is that they suppose ordinary voters want government to channel more money in their direction.

But ordinary Americans don’t want money as much as they want honor. They want what the chance to achieve what American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks calls “earned success.

2. Wisconsin Recall Elections Bring Disappointment to Unions – As expected by political insiders, last Tuesday’s recall elections involving six Republican state senators yielded only two new Democrats, falling one shy of what was needed to turn the State Senate. This affirms the voters’ general support for how things are going in the state. It also comports with the good news coming out of Wisconsin in the last few months showing the positive effects of Governor Walker’s collective bargaining law – cities able to re-negotiate with unions and save their budgets from a lot of red ink:

Someone has to be pretty deep in the Land of Denial to spin the Wisconsin recall elections as good news for Democrats. But the Daily Kos’ Markos Moulitsas rose to the occasion yesterday.

Republicans managed to keep four of the six seats that Democrats and their public union allies had targeted for recall, thwarting Democratic plans to wrest control of the state legislature from GOP hands. Of the two seats that Republicans lost, one was in a solidly Democratic district that a Republican happened to hold only due to a fluke of nature, David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner notes. And the second was held by an alleged adulterer whose wife revealed that he had moved outside his district to live with his young lover.

3. Getting Serious with the Super Committee – The Super Committee was chosen this week by the respective Congressional leaders and the positioning has already begun over spending cuts, defense cuts, new tax revenues and entitlement changes. But like we saw with the previous budget deals, there seems to be little willingness to make structural or permanent changes. Yet a cursory review of current programs with the question in mind – do they serve a valuable purpose – could go a long way toward debt reduction:

But what many of these media accounts will inevitably fail to do is ask fundamental questions about these programs: What were they designed to do? And is there any evidence they accomplish their purpose? Those questions are significant because much of discretionary spending that our government introduces is speculative in nature. That is, there is little or no evidence when we begin this spending that the money will actually accomplish what we want it to. That’s why we wind up funding anti-poverty programs that don’t reduce poverty, and job training initiatives that don’t get people jobs. We justify tax expenditures to make homes more affordable or to reduce our energy dependence, when there’s little evidence they accomplish either. And yet, once begun, we often can’t get rid of this spending, even when the evidence against its effectiveness is substantial.

4. Britain is in Disarray – Despite the hullabaloo caused by S&P’s downgrade of the U.S., this last week saw even more turmoil in the European economies and even violence in Britain:

The British state is morbidly obese. For a third consecutive year, government will spend more than half the gross domestic product — partly because half of all jobs created during the 13 years of Labor Party governance that ended in May 2010 were in the public sector.

Britain’s debt, now 62 percent of GDP, is scheduled to rise to 71 percent in 2013-14 before declining. Government devours 47 percent of national income.

The five-year goal of reducing it to 40 percent will be difficult because Cameron has a tepid mandate. In 2010, Conservatives almost suffered a fourth consecutive defeat, and they failed to win a majority against an exhausted and unpopular Labor government.

5. Are US-Sino Relations Destined to Fall Apart - As the U.S. economy continues to stumble, questions and fears continue over the Chinese and their long-term desires. The relationship is made even more tense by the Chinese military buildup as evidenced by their first naval battleship completed this week. What some are arguing is a serious focus on improving and maintaining better relations with the Chinese:

In a recent piece in the New York Times, Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, stressed the importance of improving Sino-US military relations.

Mullen acknowledged that PLA-Pentagon ties have frequently been characterized by ‘misunderstanding and suspicion,’ and complained that Beijing continues to employ bilateral defence ties as ‘a sort of thermostat to communicate displeasure. When they don’t like something we do, they cut off ties. That can’t be the model anymore.’

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Top Articles of the Week

   Posted by: Pat    in Budget/Economy, China, Congress, Conservative, Top Articles   Print Print

1.’The ‘Anti-Christie’ Agenda Driving Connecticut – Steven Malanga, Real Clear Markets

This is the story of the new Democratic governor of Connecticut, Dannel Malloy, who apparently fancies himself an anti-Gov. Chris Christie. Good luck Connecticut, as it seems likely you are just speeding up the time when you’ll need your own Chris Christie:

But despite proclamations in the press and the statehouse that Dannel Malloy, the state’s first Democratic governor in 20 years, was seeking to distinguish himself from anti-tax governors like Chris Christie and also from Connecticut’s past, the new ruling regime in Hartford is merely taking the state in the same direction it’s been heading for decades, albeit at a quickening pace. Under previous joint rule by Democrats and Northeastern Republicans, Connecticut became one of the nation’s most heavily taxed, heavily indebted, and economically struggling states. The new Connecticut looks suspiciously like the old one, maybe just on steroids.

Back when those ‘tax-cutting’ Republicans were in control of the governor’s office in 2009, for instance, Connecticut already had the highest per capita state and local tax burden in the country, according to the Tax Foundation. The state’s commercial taxes, the foundation estimated, amounted to the third highest burden on businesses in the country.

2. ‘China’s Cyberassault on America – Richard Clarke, Wall Street Journal

Clarke, former head of American counterterrorism, warns that cyber attacks from the Chinese government are becoming more and more threatening to American national security:

Senior U.S. officials know well that the government of China is systematically attacking the computer networks of the U.S. government and American corporations. Beijing is successfully stealing research and development, software source code, manufacturing know-how and government plans. In a global competition among knowledge-based economies, Chinese cyberoperations are eroding America’s advantage.

The Chinese government indignantly denies these charges, claiming that the attackers are nongovernmental Chinese hackers, or other governments pretending to be China, or that the attacks are fictions generated by anti-Chinese elements in the United States. Experts in the U.S. and allied governments find these denials hard to believe.

3. ‘Nobel Prize Winner Analyzes the Obama Growth Gap – Daniel Mitchell, CATO Institute

Mitchell provides us with some telling graphs of the US economy by economist Robert Lucas. These graphs show a sharp fall in GDP growth for the US during the current recovery, a troubling sight to see when many expected a strong turnabout after the recession ended:

I’ve explained before that one of the most damning pieces of evidence against Obamanomics is that the economy is suffering from sub-par growth, something that is particularly damning since normally one expects to see faster-than-average growth following an economic downturn.

In a recent presentation, Robert Lucas of the University of Chicago included a couple of graphs that illustrate this phenomenon. This first chart shows the history of U.S. economic growth over the past 140 years. As you can see, the growth rate was remarkably constant over time, and there were always periods of rapid growth following economic downturns.

4. ‘GOP shifting on anti-tax policy – Lisa Mascaro, Los Angeles Times

This article details the internal debate within the GOP regarding closing tax holes and deductions, highlighted by the recent ethanol subsidy vote in Congress:

The ethanol tax credit provided a glint of a breakthrough for Coburn. But other tax breaks are more complicated. For example, an oil company tax break long in the crosshairs of Democrats also applies to countless other industries nationwide.

Even more politically fraught are tax breaks for individual earners: tax-free employer-sponsored health benefits, the tax-deferred 401(k)-style retirement accounts, and the sacred mortgage interest deduction. Republican congressional leaders have flatly declared that taxes will not be on the table during the summer’s negotiations over increasing the nation’s $14.3-trillion borrowing limit. But proposals to raise revenue are being pushed onto the table over GOP resistance. Both the Obama administration and congressional Republicans want to streamline the tax code, an issue that could come be up for debate later this year or next.

5. ‘Who Is James Johnson? – David Brooks, New York Times

In short, he’s a crook who made a fortune for himself and many other powerful political friends while helping collapse the American housing market, a devastating result for millions of families:

The most devastating scandal in recent history involved dozens of the most respected members of the Washington establishment. Their behavior was not out of the ordinary by any means.

For that reason, the Fannie Mae scandal is the most important political scandal since Watergate. It helped sink the American economy. It has cost taxpayers about $153 billion, so far. It indicts patterns of behavior that are considered normal and respectable in Washington.

The Fannie Mae scandal has gotten relatively little media attention because many of the participants are still powerful, admired and well connected. But Gretchen Morgenson, a Times colleague, and the financial analyst Joshua Rosner have rectified that, writing “Reckless Endangerment,” a brave book that exposes the affair in clear and gripping form.

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Top 5 Articles of the Week

   Posted by: Pat    in Budget/Economy, health care, Middle East, Top Articles   Print Print

1. ‘California Prison Academy: Better Than a Harvard Degree, Allysia Finley, Wall Street Journal

This excellent article is number one are on our list for a reason. It clearly lays out just how out of whack California’s public prison system has become with disastrous effects on the state’s budget and other priorities, such as libraries, highways, and lower taxes.

Roughly 2,000 students have to decide by Sunday whether to accept a spot at Harvard. Here’s some advice: Forget Harvard. If you want to earn big bucks and retire young, you’re better off becoming a California prison guard.

The job might not sound glamorous, but a brochure from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations boasts that it “has been called ‘the greatest entry-level job in California’—and for good reason. Our officers earn a great salary, and a retirement package you just can’t find in private industry. We even pay you to attend our academy.” That’s right—instead of paying more than $200,000 to attend Harvard, you could earn $3,050 a month at cadet academy.

It gets better.

Training only takes four months, and upon graduating you can look forward to a job with great health, dental and vision benefits and a starting base salary between $45,288 and $65,364. By comparison, Harvard grads can expect to earn $49,897 fresh out of college and $124,759 after 20 years.

2. ‘Has the Media Totally Forgotten About the Unemployed?, Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

Is 9% unemployment the new normal? I sure hope not. Thompson’s article highlights this growing feeling in our country and features numerous charts that portray how poor our nation’s current job market has become.

Articles mentioning unemployment have plummeted nearly 70 percent since last summer, while articles mentioning the deficit have doubled over the same time, according to a National Journal report…

Unemployment duration ain’t what it used to be. In 1982, the last time unemployment tipped double digits, joblessness was more of a short-term affair. Across these four categories, the plurality of folks were unemployed for fewer than five weeks. In 2011, by contrast, about half the jobless have been out of work for at least 27 weeks. Just as striking, the number of people unemployed for less than five weeks remained under its historical average even during the worst months of the recession. In 1982, unemployment was a terrible cold, measured in weeks and maybe months. Today it’s pneumonia .

3. ‘Nearly 20 percent of new Obamacare waivers are gourmet restaurants, nightclubs, fancy hotels in Nancy Pelosi’s district, Matthew Boyle, The Daily Caller

This is the article that broke the Pelosi-waiver story (Pelosi-gate??). Exemplifies some of the extreme corruption, hypocrisy, and devastating policy impact of Obamacare.

Of the 204 new Obamacare waivers President Barack Obama’s administration approved in April, 38 are for fancy eateries, hip nightclubs and decadent hotels in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Northern California district.

Pelosi’s district secured almost 20 percent of the latest issuance of waivers nationwide, and the companies that won them didn’t have much in common with companies throughout the rest of the country that have received Obamacare waivers.

Other common waiver recipients were labor union chapters, large corporations, financial firms and local governments. But Pelosi’s district’s waivers are the first major examples of luxurious, gourmet restaurants and hotels getting a year-long pass from Obamacare.

For instance, Boboquivari’s restaurant in Pelosi’s district in San Francisco got a waiver from Obamacare. Boboquivari’s advertises $59 porterhouse steaks, $39 filet mignons and $35 crab dinners.

4. ‘Why Not Honesty?, Greg Scoblete, Real Clear World: The Compass

Scoblete is a realist’s realist when it comes to American foreign policy and in dissecting President Obama’s Middle East speech, and a conservative reaction to it, he finds many central questions that are being ignored:

Here’s my question: why even “endorse the vision” that our interests and values align in the Middle East? Why not treat the American people – and, indeed, the world – like adults and try to explain the basis for U.S. policies in the region? The president made a passing attempt at framing U.S. strategic interests in the region – terrorism, oil, Israel – in the beginning of the speech, only to drown it out in a lot of Wilsonian sanctimony. But a speech discussing the convergence of American values and interests in the Middle East that did not have a single word – not one – about Saudi Arabia, and only passing mention of the Gulf states, is self-evidently dishonest.

American “values” are clearly, and frequently, subordinate to strategic interests in the Middle East. No one can seriously deny this – nor is it something to necessarily be ashamed of! Rather than trying to dress this up in a lot of flim-flam, why not tackle it head-on? Why not explain to the U.S. and the world that in some places the U.S. cannot simply support “democracy” when it does not know what will spring forth from that democracy or that the U.S. has much more urgent needs to attend to – such as protecting Israel and ensuring the stability of the Saudi monarchy?

5. ‘Obama’s $250,000 Question’, William McGurn, Wall Street Journal

When the budget you lay out has government spending growing at such a high rate, as the Obama administration’s budget for the next 10 years has, there is only a matter of time before taxes are raised, not just on the ‘rich’, but on the rest of us:

In the New Republic, the Brookings Institution’s William Galston zeroes in on the fuzzy math. “Unless Obama is prepared to tolerate huge deficits indefinitely,” he writes, “or to emulate arch-conservatives and curb the budget deficit with spending cuts only, he will have to break his unsustainable tax pledge at some point. The only question is when.”

More remarkable still, Mr. Galston was jumping off from an article in National Review by Reihan Salam, who made the same point about the mathematical impossibilities of Mr. Obama’s present tax pledge. Mr. Salam, a policy adviser at the pro-market think tank Economics 21, observes that the revenues Mr. Obama needs to pay for his agenda fall in the rung just below the super-rich—that is, Americans earning between $100,000 and $200,000

Bring your comments and own recommendations to us in the comments.

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The President Refuses to Engage

   Posted by: FMFP    in Budget/Economy, health care   Print Print

Before the President delivered his much anticipated budget speech on Wednesday, my fellow GPP blogger asked, “Where are our leaders?” He’s right to ask the question, particularly after watching the President talk. For those looking for a detailed response to Cong. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, this was not the speech for you. The details were replaced with high-minded rhetoric about why government is needed to fix all of society’s ills and was basically just another campaign speech for Obama 2012.

The President also took the occasion to excoriate Mr. Ryan and his plan, claiming it will all but take food out of children’s mouths and kick grandma to the curb. Of course, Mr. Ryan graciously sat just a few feet away taking these blows because the President insisted he be there. And to think, this is the bipartisanship President Obama had in mind when he was talking about change.

Yesterday Mr. Ryan had a chance to respond to the President in the Washington Post. Here’s an excerpt:

“It [the GOP budget] offers a contrast in credibility. Unlike the president’s speech, which was rhetorically heated but substantively hollow, our budget contains specific solutions for confronting the debt and averting the most predictable crisis in our nation’s history. It also offers a contrast in visions. Unlike the speech, our budget advances a vision of America in which government both keeps its promises to seniors and lives within its means…

If you are someone who agrees with the president that we cannot avoid this outcome without resorting to large tax increases, know this: No amount of taxes can keep pace with the amount of money government is projected to spend on health care in the coming years. Medicare and Medicaid are growing twice as fast as the economy — and taxes cannot rise that fast without a devastating impact on jobs and growth.

If you believe that spending on these programs can be controlled by restricting what doctors and hospitals are paid, know this: Medicare is on track to pay doctors less than Medicaid pays, and Medicaid already pays so little that many doctors refuse to see Medicaid patients. These arbitrary cuts not only fail to control costs, they also leave our most vulnerable citizens with fewer health-care choices and reduced access to care.

And if you believe that we must eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in these programs, know this: Eliminating inefficient spending is critical, but the only way to do so is to reward providers who deliver high-quality, low-cost health care, while punishing those who don’t. Time and again, the federal government has proved incapable of doing that.”

Well said, Mr. Ryan. Now if only the President and Democrats would join the conversation.

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