The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler is just such an arbiter, tossing out “Pinocchios” like Mardi Gras beads to all who offend his sense of rectitude. But from time to time, his rush to play “Gotcha” gets ahead of reason.
The most recent example was his pronouncement that Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) earned “Four Pinocchios” (the worst possible rating) for stating on Meet The Press, “Many employers are not hiring people because of Obamacare, 70 percent in some of the surveys of small businesses are saying that Obamacare is already harming their ability to hire people.”
Kessler objects to this statement because he doesn’t think the survey Portman referred to — a survey conducted by the Chamber of Commerce — is a very good one. That may very well be true, but it is still a survey, so Mr. Portman’s statement is factual as far as that goes.
More importantly, Kessler writes:
The Chamber failed to disclose that 83 percent of small businesses surveyed said they would not be affected by the employer mandate, meaning any results that were reported were based on a subsample of just 17 percent.
Once the possibility of multiple answers are accounted for, it turned out just 4.5 to 8.5 percent of small business executives surveyed said they will reduce hours or full-time staff in response to the employer mandate.
In other words, the 74-percent claim was at least an eight-fold exaggeration.
Notice that Kessler is now focused exclusively on the employer mandate, but Portman didn’t say anything about the employer mandate. Portman was talking about the overall effect of Obamacare on small business hiring. Small businesses (those under 50 employees) are not affected by the mandate, but they sure are affected by all the other provisions of the law. Because of the new benefits that are required in every insurance policy (things like coverage of pediatric dental services, 100 percent coverage of preventive care, allowing adult “children’ to stay on their parents’ policies, and so on), premiums have skyrocketed. For a moving example of this, see this video of the employees of a Pennsylvania company finding out what their new costs will be.
These new costs definitely “harm (small employers’) ability to hire people.” They also harm small employers ability to retain workers already hired. Portman is right and Kessler is wrong.
[Originally published on The Federalist]
As has been widely reported today, Comcast has proposed a $45.2 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable Inc., a merger of the number one and number four video service providers (DirecTV and Dish are numbers two and three). The consumer benefits are abundant, which the business proposal will demonstrate even under regulatory review, so that consumers can start enjoying the benefits as quickly as possible.
Faster broadband service will more quickly roll out to the eight million consumers that Comcast will be earning. Comcast has increased its broadband speeds essentially annually for well more than a decade, including being an industry leader in introducing DOCSIS 3.0, a significant boost to broadband speed. The FCC has noted that Comcast’s broadband speeds are consistently higher than those at Time Warner Cable.
How is it that a “cable” company is advancing so rapidly? Cable companies are increasingly “tech” companies and Comcast more so than any. Most of the work of cable companies is now being done in the cloud, not in trenches through the earth. Comcast’s Brian Roberts has remarked, “That’s how you build a software company. In fact I think we would describe ourselves more as a technology and innovation company . . . ”
The new product offerings by Comcast, and those in the pipeline, make clear that his assertion is more than just wishful thinking, it is the truth. A truism of the technology industry is that anything that can be expressed in hardware can be expressed in software and vice versa. Comcast is now demonstrating that in the cloud. The X1 Entertainment Operating System and Comcast’s video on demand offerings provide 50,000 choices on TV. Comcast also offers 300,000 plus streaming choices on XfinityTV.com, and Xfinity TV mobile apps that offer 35 live streaming channels plus the ability to download to watch offline later. The innovations continue with the integration of Web video into the traditional stream of video content, an improved user interface focused on ease of use and customization, and a voice driven interface for the visually impaired.
As for hardware, Comcast’s newly launched X1 DVR, which enables customers to watch their entire TV channel lineup and DVR recordings on mobile devices in the home, and download recorded content to take on-the-go are leading the industry.
And it is not just products, but services too. Comcast offers a program designed to get more students and families online by offering broadband and a home computer at drastically reduced prices for those who could least afford broadband. The program has signed up more than one million Americans, rapidly adding to the number of people with broadband at home. The low income families who qualify for the service have been using the online connection to try to better their situation. Fifty eight percent of the customers report that they have been using the broadband service to search and apply for employment.
All of these benefits-speed, products, services — will now be available to new customers, as Comcast’s multi-billion dollar upgrade to its system now spreads.
With the number of cable subscribers declining in the last eight years bringing advanced technology and services to consumers is an industry imperative just to be able to stay in the game. During those same years satellite subscribers have grown by seven million subscribers and traditional telecommunications companies have scooped up another 11 million. The competition is real and fierce, and not about to lessen.
Comcast and Time Warner Cable serve completely different markets without overlap. So consumer choice is absolutely maintained even while consumers gain better technology and greater services. As for Comcast’s competitors, which are growing in number, they will still face the same amount of competition
Further proof of the rabid competition siphoning off “cable” customers is that, in the end, Comcast really will end up with around 30 million subscribers, less than 30 percent of all the video subscribers in the U.S., approximately the size it was in 2006.
Regulators and legislators should tread carefully to not disrupt the ever accelerating innovation marketplace. Others may try to invent storylines about this business proposal but the facts make clear that consumers and innovation will win again.
Europe is the big loser in the Google-EC competition settlement.
Rather than enforcing European competition law against systemic abuses of dominance by the single most dominant company in Europe, this political deal surrenders inexplicable concessions, including defining Google’s 90 percent share as not dominant, claiming its multiple abuses of dominance are legal and implying Google did nothing wrong.
Simply put, this expedient settlement imagines Europeans are better off captive to an unfettered dominant Google than holding Europe’s leading corporate scofflaw to account.
This deal’s tagline should be, “Europe Online Powered by Google.”
Rather than prohibiting abuses of dominance under EU law, this settlement ensures that Google will become much more dominant over the next five years. No company, including Google, really thinks this deal’s labeling of search results will result in any material difference in marketplace outcomes.
The worst part of this deal is it throws Europeans under the bus.
The fountainhead of all of Google’s market and political power in Europe flows from its 90 percent dominance of Internet search and search advertising, and its unfettered ability to discriminate and self-deal to dominate more and more online markets like mobile, mapping, etc.
This Google-driven deal wholly evades accountability to EU competition law.
If Googleopoly can negotiate a “get out of jail free” card for systematically abusing its exceptional dominance, what political message does that send to the rest of the European Commission that is trying to hold Google accountable for gross violations of data protection, tax, and copyright law?
The privacy authorities of Germany, France, U.K., Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands are all furiously trying to get dominant, data-voracious, Google to obey European privacy law and respect EU data protection sovereignty. This sweetheart settlement suggests that Google’s lobbyists have more political influence with the EC than these countries do as members.
Europeans are very upset about pervasive NSA spying. They hoped potential revocation of the US-EU data protection safe harbor could be a lever to get privacy disrespecting U.S. firms like Google to better protect EU data. Now they must worry the EC-Google privacy-evasion fix is in here as well.
European tax officials are indignant with dominant Google’s aggressive tax stance that the company does not owe any taxes on Google’s advertising profits from tracking Europeans’ private behavior.
Google’s shameless position is they should owe no EU taxes, not even on profits made from its now-sanctioned abuses of dominance.
In a nutshell, Google takes Europeans private data without authorization, profits from it handsomely, but should owe no European taxes for this partially ill-gotten gain in Europe. Game, set, match to Google’s EC lobbyists.
Last but not least, many European content creators have long accused Google of profiting from the use of their copyrighted material without permission or compensation.
Tellingly, after several years of refusing to compensate Belgian media for profiting off the theft of their content, Google conveniently agreed to a multi-million Euro payment to the EC Brussels-based media at the exact time it knew that the Brussels-based EC antitrust investigation was coming to a head.
At a minimum, Google’s self-serving timing created the public perception of trying to buy favorable coverage and political support for a Google-favorable, settlement deal – which is what they got.
True or not, Google’s Belgian content settlement creates the perception of a quid pro quo that Google’s vast EC lobbying operation helps those that help them.
In the short term, this expedient deal most meets the political needs and schedule of the Directorate General for Competition.
However, it does so at the expense of what’s best in the long term for Europeans. That’s because it makes the jobs harder for all the other directorates and countries that still have the difficult responsibility of getting Google to respect EU rule of law and European sovereignty going forward.
When Google predictably ignores Europeans’ legal concerns in the future, they can thank the Directorate General for Competition for throwing them under the bus.
In sum, the biggest problem with this expedient Google-EU settlement, which allows Google’s leadership to boast they have done nothing wrong, is that it affirms the view that Google is so politically well-connected that it is largely untouchable, and effectively above the law in the EU.
Getting away with a 90 percent share in dominance, an abuse of dominance, and no admission of wrongdoing will only embolden Google to thumb their nose at competition, privacy, tax, and copyright law enforcement going forward.
The old adage is true, “One gets the behavior one tolerates.”
[Originally posted at Daily Caller]
In addition to reinforcing the public’s widely held belief that scientists are unable to obtain dates for Valentine’s Day, a more insidious aspect of the conference is the presence of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), an environmental activist group masquerading as a legitimate (if loveless) scientific organization.
With all due apologies for the good-natured joke directed at the scientists attending the event, the presence of the UCS is no laughing matter.
A natural reaction upon seeing this group is a sponsor for the event may be “so what?”—but there are serious, negative implications to having a group at the conference whose agenda is more focused on soundbites than sound science.
Attending the conference lends them credibility by being seen at an event where real science is occurring. The phrase “guilt by association” can be turned on its head, and having this organization present at a legitimate scientific conference is akin to reputation-laundering.
Here are just a few examples where the UCS has failed to live up to its self-proclaimed “rigorous and independent” scientific standards, resulting in misleading and mischaracterized “science” better suited for fundraisers than fact sheets:
Hydraulic fracturing, aka “fracking”: The UCS knows fracking can be done in an environmentally responsible manner, which is why President Obama implicitly endorsed the game-changing technology in his State of the Union address, much to the ire of environmental groups. The problem is, the UCS donor base is so adamantly opposed to fossil fuels they refuse to endorse any use of them, even though natural gas—not wind and not solar—is a key reason the United States has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions to their lowest levels since 1994.
One UCS smear tactic against fracking is to imply fracking is unregulated and is dangerous to water supplies because it is exempt from provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act. UCS doesn’t acknowledge the reason why fracking is exempt. The Clean Drinking Water Act was created to protect the water we drink, but fracking occurs thousands of feet below the surface (the average fracked well is 7,500 feet deep) and thousands of feet below the deepest sources of fresh water. A U.S. Department of Energy study confirms the chemical additives used in hydraulic fracturing stay thousands of feet underground and pose no threat at all to drinking water.
Global warming: Even though most of the country is in the clutches of the second “Arctic Vortex” of this winter season and there has not been any significant warming of the Earth for the past 16 years, the UCS continues to claim there is a “scientific consensus” a manmade global warming catastrophe is happening. The claim of a scientific consensus is blatantly untrue. A new report by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change Reconsidered 2- Physical Science (published by The Heartland Institute, where I work), shows current temperatures are well within the range of natural variation. Unlike reports by the global warming alarmists, CCR-2 bases its findings on observed evidence, not flawed computer models.
Antibiotics in agriculture: UCS caught the attention of the nation when it released its report Hogging It, a supposed exposé on the “overuse” of antibiotics in agriculture. The report was not based on “rigorous scientific analysis” but instead was an estimate, and not a very good one at that. A study by Kansas State University, using U.S. Department of Agriculture data, stated as little as 1.6 million pounds of antibiotics are used to produce pork, starkly less than the 10.3 million pounds the UCS claimed are used to put food on our tables.
A closer look at the UCS shows its claims of dedication to “rigorous and independent” science are false boasts. UCS is seemingly willing to put funds before facts whenever it’s convenient. The American Association for the Advancement of Science should disassociate itself from UCS lest it undermine its own credibility.
[Listen to Heartland's Issac Orr and Jim Lakely discuss this topic in a recent edition of the Heartland Daily Podcast in the player above. Subscribe to the podcast at iTunes.]
From 1955 until I graduated in 1959, I was a student at the University of Miami. Those were halcyon years for me, enhanced by Florida’s famed bounty of sunshine and warmth. Born and raised in New Jersey, it was a respite from the Garden State’s winters, shoveling snow, and enduring the chill.
The last time I was in Florida was in 2004 to visit my older brother in Boynton Beach and when the wall of heat hit me as I exited the West Palm Beach airport, I knew I would remain in Jersey.
I am no fan of winter. I don’t ski or ice skate. When it’s cold I stay inside where it’s warm. I venture outside once a day to turn over the car engine while picking up a lottery ticket in hopes of winning enough money to live somewhere warm during the winters here.
I don’t know how many blizzards or just big snowstorms I have lived through at this point in my life. In my experience, most people tend to forget them when springtime arrives. Winter, which often seems to have no end, is still only four months, a quarter of the year.
After decades of “global warming” lies from Al Gore, environmental organizations, and government agencies, I knew well that, while the northern hemisphere had begun to warm around 1850 after a long cold cycle and the amount of warmth was sufficient to provide comfort, it was too small for anyone to effectively measure.
One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Richard Lindzen, a professor of atmospheric science at MIT: “Future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early 21st century’s developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally averaged temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree, and, on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly uncertain computer projections combined into implausible chains of inference, proceeded to contemplate a roll-back of the industrial age.”
I am pretty sure that those who lived through earlier blizzards and snowstorms did not consider them as anything other than normal. Some, though, made history. History.com even has a list of major U.S. blizzards. Perhaps the most famed was the Great Blizzard of 1888. It dumped 40 to 50 inches of snow in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. More than 400 people died; the worst toll of a winter storm. A year later in 1889, a blizzard started in Florida and then moved up the coast dumping 20 inches of snow on Washington, D.C. and 34 inches on New Jersey.
The Great Blizzard of 1888 led legislatures in Boston and New York to break ground on the country’s first underground subway systems.
Those of us on the East Coast would wait a century until 1993 for a combination blizzard and cyclone “wreaked havoc from Cuba to Canada” killing 310 people in its wake. In February 2010, snowstorms were raging from northern California to North Carolina, but typically it was the Mid-Atlantic and New England States that were hardest hit.
In January, record freezing temperatures gripped the entire nation. Energy consumption set some new records as well. Icy conditions in storms since then have left some areas without any energy and yet the environmental organizations keep fighting the development of any new sources of coal, oil and natural gas to provide needed energy. The White House has done everything in its power to accommodate this idiocy.
On February 7, The New York Times published an article by Porter Fox, the features editor at Powder Magazine—as in snow powder—and author of “Deep: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow.” Fox may know about skiing, but his knowledge of snow consists of his belief that, all over the world, “snow is melting.” This is straight out of the global warming belief that the small amount of warming since the mid-1880s was a threat to the planet. “The planet is getting hotter.” As Dr. Lindzen points out, a few tenths of a degree is meaningless.
A few years ago, The New York Times shut down its environmental reporting unit, laying off some and reassigning others. Now, apparently, it is content to publish utter nonsense about how all the snow is melting everywhere.
In recent weeks and days there has been heavy snow in Tokyo, Japan, that took some lives. Heavy snow has fallen in Austria and Italy, as well as northern Iran. People around the world are looking out their window and seeing snow.
Blizzards are a seasonal reminder that humans do not control the Earth’s climate. The Sun does that along with the oceans, volcanic activity and other natural factors. They only thing humans can and must do is endure them.
[Originally posted at Warning Signs]
Romina Broccia of the Washington Times suggested that for lawmakers battling over the debt ceiling they should stop to watch “Groundhog Day.”
In the movie Phil Connors asks, “What would you do if you were stuck in on place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?” Connors was able to break out of his Groundhog Day cycle after reexamining his life and changing his approach to problems. Lawmakers could also do the same if they were willing to break out of the spending and debt cycle by putting the budget on a path to balance through cuts in mandatory as well as discretionary spending.
House Republicans have once again come face to face with this nation’s debt limit. A letter sent to House lawmakers on Friday, February 7, by Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew, warned Congress that unless the debt ceiling is raised by Thursday, February 27, the treasury Department will all but completely exhaust its abilities to pay the nation’s bills (The borrowing cap was to be addressed back in October of last year, but it was suspended as part of the deal to end the government shutdown).
Predictably House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi hammered home Lew’s stated deadline to House Republicans by demanding that Republicans enact a clean increase to the debt ceiling without any policy riders, further reminding Republicans that only a limited numbers of days remain when both chambers are in session before the deadline.
Do House Republicans dare not to heed this warning from Nancy Pelosi?
With only five days left in session before the deadline, we must act now. Democrats are ready to work with our Republican colleagues to enact a clean increase in the debt ceiling. Democrats hope the Republican leadership makes the right choice and brings this up for a vote, so our country can pay our bills.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich made his view known on the issue when on Thursday, January 24 he seemingly reinforced the wish of Nancy Pelosi and fellow Democrats that it would be unwise for House Republicans to use the issue of increasing the borrowing limit to challenge President Obama on raising the federal debt limit. Although at the time Gingrich did accuse Obama of trying to “bully House Republicans,” he further said that the GOP shouldn’t “pick fights” that they cannot ultimately win.
Newt Gingrich’s advice is getting to be rather stale. Time and again Republicans are told to keep their powder dry and wait for another occasion down the road to challenge the Obama administration on its massive spending and debt accrued since Obama was election in 2008 – $7 trillion dollars. When is the right time for House Republicans to stand up and fight on behalf of the American people and future generations of Americans for a bit of sanity against raising the nation’s debt ceiling for the purpose of allowing the Obama administration to borrow more money and further erode the financial stability and health of this nation?
Initially Republican House Speaker John Boehner reassured the American people that he would request President Obama to give up a key provision of ObamaCare in exchange for his consent to raise the debt ceiling. According to a Hill report, Speaker Boehner and his lieutenants on Wednesday, February 5, abandoned plans to tie an increase in the nation’s debt limit either to the repeal of a provision in ObamaCare or to the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, a decision made only hours after the Congressional Budget Office said ObamaCare will eradicate 2.5 million jobs and add a trillion dollars to this nation’s debt! Some patriots in the U.S.House, like Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, feel that agreeing to a clean debt ceiling is capitulation, and that he didn’t get elected by the District of Texas to come here to Washington and capitulate.
Only a few years ago, Obama spoke vehemently against putting America in debt as then Senator Barack March 16, 2006.
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies.
But this is now. Obama as president likes the power and control the office bestows on him, and uses it at will to enact policies that are consistent with his extreme leftist political philosophy. Now Obama seemingly wants the power to raise the debt limit by himself, anytime. Abandoned by Obama is any notion that members of Congress should get permission from the people they represent to borrow and spend more money.
Is it really necessary to borrow more money to pay our nation’s debt obligations? The United States collects more than enough tax revenue each and every day to easily satisfy the repayment of our debt. Without a limit increase on the use of the nation’s credit cards, our government officials would actually have to prioritize debt repayment and make modest cuts to out-of-control government spending now, instead of pretending that cuts are in the offing somewhere down the road. The interest on the debt is around $30 billion per month and the Feds are taking in $250 billion. The only reason the U.S. would default is if Obama and Jack Lew, Secretary of the Treasury, refused to service the debt.
Will the decision be made in the House to betray the American people without consulting the American people about mortgaging the hopes and dreams of future generations of Americans? Figures cited in a report of Wednesday, September 25, 2013, place the national debt at nearly $17 trillion or $140,000 per American household. Since Obama has been president the debt has been raised seven time, causing the per-household tab for the debt to soar by $43,000 in just the last four years.
A last minute meeting was called by House Republicans leaders and its conference last night (2/10) to try to come up with a legislative strategy on the debt ceiling regarding what they might attach to an increase in the nation’s borrowing limit.
Don’t hold your breath in hoping that House Republicans will do anything of substance in reducing spending other than to allow a clean debt ceiling increase to reach the floor. The latest is that the House did move toward a vote Wednesday on legislation that would lift the debt ceiling and reverse recent changes to military retirement benefits. Even so this plan is a gamble, as it’s uncertain whether the package will pass the House without the support of a fair number of Democrats.
Is it too much to ask that Congress wakes up to a new day, and soon? It’s time for Republicans to grow a backbone and stand up to Obama. Most Republicans are scared stiff to challenge the media, fellow Republicans pundits and elitists, and President Obama and his operatives, ending up instead cowering in fear over their own political fortunes, while neglecting those they represent and indirectly the generations of Americans who will follow in their wake.
[First published at Illinois Review.]
Today’s unconventional crude oil and natural gas basins such as the Marcellus, the Bakken, and the Eagle Ford teem with activity, having already injected multiple benefits of a resurgent U.S. energy industry into the broad fabric of the country’s economy.
Yet in spite of this historic rebirth, there remains the broader picture of 2014 global demand, now forecast at 92.5 million barrels a day, implying a slim surplus production capacity of 2-3 million barrels per day. Thus, despite America’s jubilant cries of energy independence, the global nature of the crude oil commodity and the continued vulnerability of the world’s supply network to regional political discord are not to be dismissed.
The most important region where high oil production intersects with political turmoil is the Mideast. It is here and in North Africa where the Arab Spring, originally embraced by a naive Western press as a movement toward political moderation by the area’s regimes, has instead birthed a chaotic paradigm, and in many respects, a U.S. foreign policy nightmare.
Egypt, for example, is a nation currently producing 680,000 barrels per day, but the nation remains in turmoil as today’s military-led government remains under siege by the long-suppressed Muslim Brotherhood. Heading west to Libya, one sees another country wracked with internal strife. Production volumes here have dropped sharply from the Gaddafi era’s 1.6 million barrel per day levels to today’s 600,000 barrels per day with the current anarchic situation suggesting little visibility for improvement.
Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, the royal family has clearly become more anxious with the Arab Spring’s unleashing of destabilizing forces. The leadership’s recent announcement of the deportation of up to two million foreign workers and their close monitoring of the Shiite demographic in the country’s eastern oil-rich region demonstrates its wariness of the influence of dangerous elements within the population.
Saudi Arabia produces ten million barrels a day of crude oil, and holds the bulk of the world’s spare oil production capacity. Directly across the Persian Gulf to its north lies Iran, now viewed as an increasingly threatening neighbor given the Chamberlainesque Geneva Agreement and the theocracy’s presumptive belief that it has won the right to continue uranium enrichment.
A second prong of Iran’s overtly belligerent regional strategy, its fomenting of internal unrest in various Mideast countries such as Lebanon, is pursued through the targeted use of al Quds and Hezbollah forces. Iranian oil volumes are down to 2.75 million barrels per day, and even if economic sanctions are lifted, the country is unlikely to see a quick restoration of pre-sanction production volumes given the lack of well maintenance and a high base decline rate.
In Syria, the butcher Assad continues his stand, a U.S. red line having been drawn then quickly erased. Syria’s pre-civil war oil production rate was only 85,000 barrels a day, but on the margin, the loss of those barrels matter. More pernicious, however, is the unfettered flow of rogue militant groups across Syria’s eastern border into Iraq’s Anbar Province. Thus has Iraq’s three million barrels per day of oil production become less secure as Sunni-based al Qaeda forces look to reconstitute the animus that precipitated the level of sectarian violence existing several years ago. The recent fall of Fallujah and Ramadi are a signpost telling Shiite Prime Minister Maliki that his grip on the country, now without backing from U.S. forces, could be as ephemeral as a mirage in the western Iraqi desert.
The least reported on area of civil unrest is sub-Saharan Africa. In the west, Nigerian production of 1.9 million barrels per day remains under constant threat by MEND rebels, while to the east in South Sudan, a new civil war places the country’s 360,000 barrels per day of oil production capacity at risk. The entire sub-Saharan region is frankly a transit route for various terrorist groups, from the refugee camps in the Tindouf Province of western Algeria to the Horn of Africa region that lies just across the Sea of Aden from Yemen and their Saudi neighbors to the north.
In considering the mercurial and volatile nature of many Mideast, North African and sub-Sahara African regimes, one should not be surprised by continued interruptions in global oil supplies and the continued presence of a substantial geopolitical premium in global oil prices. Moreover, given a feckless and often misguided regional U.S. foreign policy, we risk exacerbating an already tenuous oil balance situation.
Call your local paper and get the Zack Hill comic strip in the line-up! Creators John Deering and John Newcombe are obviously not shy about puncturing politically correct bromides.
Here are three Zack Hill strips that are very timely considering the weather we’ve endured all winter in the U.S. — and especially now on the East Coast.
Check out more Zack Hill at Creators Syndicate.
I downplayed constitutional arguments against President Obama’s “bypass” of Congress that he trumpeted in the State of the Union address. But the new suspension of parts of the employer mandate represent a much more aggressive and constitution
Manipulating large-scale legislative policies, duly enacted, around election schedules goes beyond the parameters of executive discretion. Nor can this be justified by the dubious claim of “transition relief” from tax obligations. The employers are not being relieved just from taxes, but from direct primary legal obligations to provide insurance.ally dubious exercise of executive power than those minimum wage measures. The difference between the State of the Union’s minimum wage initiative and the employer mandate is what F.A. Hayek called the difference between orders and laws. The federal contractor rules were about the operations of the federal government – top-down directives to administration officials. The current measure is a large-scale selective rewriting of the obligations and burdens places on private parties, a classic legislative function.
Every year the administration delays large portions of Obamacare, it says it is no big deal, because it is “temporary.” But a few temporary fixes in a row becomes a new permanent form of executive lawmaking.
[First published at The Volokh Conspiracy.]
They have long been practicing a regulatory-overreach overrun approach. Imposing myriad new regs in innumerable directions – oft aimed at the free market’s foundational sectors and Democrats’ political enemies.
The power grab victims are forced to take it – or to waste huge sums of money and man-hours trying in court to fend off the Leviathan. Obama and his ilk knowing that every cent and second these folks spend on lawyers and lawsuits lessens what they can spend on, say, future elections.
If the government lead blanket smothers everyone – Obama waives his friends out from under.
Any power grab – no matter its ultimate outcome – is all upside for the Left. Let’s look at the chronology.
The Left executes a power grab. If it’s not challenged, it stands. Win.
If it’s challenged, the Left is forcing the private companies or political enemies they loathe to burn many, many dollars and man-hours trying to undo it. Win.
To recoup the prodigious costs wasted on this nonsense (either the regs themselves or the court cases to undo them), the companies are forced to raise the prices of their products and services. Which the Left then decries as heartless Vulture Capitalism and evidence that the free market doesn’t work. Win.
The Left gets to have the government hire – with our coin – their uber-over-charging Marxist attorney friends to defend the power grab. Win.
Far too often, after millions of dollars and tens of thousands of hours, a Leftist judge appointed by Carter, Clinton or Obama will ignore the law’s clear intent, not enforce it – and instead ludicrously side with the government and its power grab.
(Which is a large reason why Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dropped the advise and consent nuclear bomb. Reid and his Donkey colleagues immediately thereafter approved three uber-Leftists for the D.C. Circuit Court – which handles most government overreach cases. Where they’ll spend the rest of their lifetime appointments giving the thumbs-up to future power grabs.)
And even if a rational judge presides and the regs are dumped – the Pyrrhic “winners” are way poorer and older.
And does such a loss – as maddeningly, sadly rare as they are – chasten this Administration? Of course not.
The proposed union rule mirrors a proposal that was struck down in court in 2012…
“That’s why we sued them on this the first time,” (vice president of government affairs at the Associated Builders and Contractors Geoff) Burr said. “We do plan to challenge this in the court again.…”
Why does the federal government appear so adamant to again blatantly ignore the law, extend its power over the Internet, and re-impose network neutrality?
After all, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has already tried it — twice. And been unanimously rebuked by the D.C. Circuit Court — twice….
‘President Obama Confident FCC Will Use Authority to Save Net Neutrality’
Wait a second — what authority? Six different judges on two different occasions have unanimously said the FCC doesn’t have any such authority.
But since when has the clear intent of the laws and the Constitution — and the rulings of the courts charged with upholding them — stopped President Barack Obama? After all, he has a pen and a phone.
Behold – lather-rinse-repeat tyranny.
[Originally Published on RedState]
Senator Charles Schumer Calls for Ban on Chemical Used in Bread that Obama’s FDA Says is Safe as Used
The following is the response of Jeff Stier, director of the National Center’s Risk Analysis Division, to the call of Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) for a ban on azodicarbonamide after Subway restaurants removed the FDA-approved substance from its bread in response to an activist’s petition:
Subway’s move came as a result from pressure from Vani Hari, a blogger who calls herself “The Food Babe.”
The move had everything to do with public relations and nothing to do with food safety. Bread itself, by virtue of being a baked carbohydrate, has the carcinogen acrylamide in it. That doesn’t mean it is dangerous at the levels humans consume it.
While Subway is free to market itself however it wishes, the move sets a dangerous policy precedent.
Ms. Hari’s central argument against azodicarbonamide is that the chemical is also used in yoga mats. Ands shoes. Really.
If this is the new standard, obesity isn’t going to be a problem anymore – starvation is.
It was only a matter of days until Senator Schumer called for an FDA ban on azodicarbonamide. In a slap in the face to career scientists at the Obama FDA, which allows azodicarbonamide for the very purpose Subway and other chains use it. Schumer said, ‘The Subway chain has done it on its own. We’re asking other chains to do it on their own. But we’re asking the FDA to ban it so nobody uses it.
This is a classic example of governing by bullying. The government asks for voluntary compliance, but, just in case, it threatens to make that voluntary compliance mandatory.
What Senator Schumer fails to realize is that if we use his simplistic standard fairly, his approach would put a slew of his state’s businesses out of business. The Senator says, ‘When it comes to carcinogens, we can’t be too careful. Cancer’s on the rise. We’re never quite sure why. Why not be safe rather than sorry?’
We have an entire fields of science – toxicology-risk assessment – and Senator Schumer wants to throw it all out the window and demand that the FDA ignore the science and ban a chemical because activists have catchy but foolish slogans, such as ‘We shouldn’t eat foods with ingredients we can’t pronounce.’
Other chains that use the chemical include McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Jack in the Box, Chick-fil-A and Dunkin Donuts.
I am concerned that the activists have set the standard so low, and Subway, for one, showed weakness by not defending the safety of their ingredients, that before you know it,we’ll have calls to disassemble modern food production, going after a different FDA approved ingredient each week
When activist bloggers who call themselves things like “Food Babes” and Senators like Chuck Schumer exhibit reckless disregard for science-based food policy, one has got to wonder why we even have an FDA in the first place. It appears that activists and headline-hungry political hacks are the ones who make food policy when industry fails to defend the safety of the ingredients they’d served their healthy customers for years.
[Originally posted on The National Center for Public Policy Research]
Seventy-eight years ago, on February 4, 1936, the British economist John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946) published what soon became his most famous work, “The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money.” Few books, in so short a time, have gained such wide influence and generated so destructive an impact on public policy. What Keynes succeeded in doing was to provide a rationale for what governments always like to do: spend other people’s money and pander to special interests.
In the process Keynes helped undermine what had been three of the essential institutional ingredients of a free-market economy: the gold standard, balanced government budgets, and open competitive markets. In their place Keynes’s legacy has given us paper-money inflation, government deficit spending, and more political intervention throughout the market.
It would, of course, be an exaggeration to claim that without Keynes and the Keynesian revolution inflation, deficit spending, and interventionism would not have occurred. For decades before the appearance of Keynes’s book, the political and ideological climate had been shifting toward ever-greater government involvement in social and economic affairs, due to the growing influence of collectivist ideas among intellectuals and policy-makers in Europe and America.Before Keynes: Wise Free Market Policies
But before the appearance of “The General Theory,” many of the advocates of such collectivist policies had to get around the main body of economic thinking which still argued that in general the best course was for government to keep its hands off the market, maintain a stable currency backed by gold, and restrain its own taxing and spending policies.
The free market economists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had persuasively demonstrated that government intervention prevented the smooth functioning of the market. They were able to clearly show that governments have neither the knowledge nor the ability to direct economic affairs. Freedom and prosperity are best assured when government is, in general, limited to protecting people’s lives and property, with the competitive forces of supply and demand bringing about the necessary incentives and coordination of people’s activities.Lessons Learned: Gold Money and Balanced Budgets
During the Napoleonic wars of the early nineteenth century, many European countries experienced serious inflations as governments resorted to the money printing press to fund their war expenditures. The lesson the free market economists learned was that the hand of the government had to be removed from the handle of that printing press if monetary stability was to be maintained. The best way of doing this was to link a nation’s currency to a commodity like gold, require banks to redeem their notes for gold on demand at a fixed rate of exchange, and limit any increases in the amount of such bank notes in circulation to additional deposits of gold left in the banks by their depositors.
They also concluded that deficit spending was a dangerous means of funding government programs. It enabled governments to create the illusion that they could spend without imposing a cost on society in the form of higher taxes; they could borrow and spend today, and defer the tax cost until some tomorrow when the loans would have to be repaid. These free market economists called for annually balanced budgets, enabling the electorate to see more clearly the cost of government spending. If a national emergency, such as a war, were to force the government to borrow, then when the crisis passed, the government should run budget surpluses to pay off the debt.Keynes’ Thinking on Markets, Wages and Government
These were considered the tried and true policies for a healthy society. And these were the policies that Keynes did his best to try to overthrow in the pages of his book, “The General Theory.” He argued that a market economy was inherently unstable, open to swings of irrational investor optimism and pessimism, which resulted in unpredictable and wide fluctuations in output, employment, and prices. Only government, he believed, could take the long view and rationally keep the economy on an even keel by running deficits to stimulate the economy during depressions and surpluses to rein it in during inflationary booms. He therefore attacked the notion of annual balanced budgets; instead, government should balance its budget over the “business cycle.”
To do this job, Keynes said, governments should not be hamstrung by the “barbarous relic” of the gold standard. Wise politicians, guided by brilliant economists like himself, had to have the flexibility to increase the money supply, manipulate interest rates, and change the foreign-exchange rates at which currencies traded for each other. They required this power so they could generate any amount of spending needed to put people to work through public-works projects and government-stimulated private investments. Limiting increases in the money supply to the quantity of gold would only get in the way, Keynes insisted.
Keynes believed not only that the market economy could not keep itself on an even keel he also believed that it would be undesirable to allow the market to work. He once said that to have the market determine prices and wages to balance supply and demand was to submit society to a cruel and unjust “economic juggernaut.” Instead, he wanted wages and prices to be politically fixed on the basis of “what is ‘fair’ and ‘reasonable’ as between the [social] classes.”
The level of wages imposed by trade unions, for example, was to be viewed as sacrosanct, even if many workers were priced out of the market because the level was higher than potential employers thought those workers were worth. The government, instead, was to print money, run deficits, and push up prices to any level needed to make it again profitable for employers to hire workers. In other words, perpetual price inflation was to be the means to assure “full employment” in the face of aggressive trade unions demanding excessive wages.Deficit Spending and Special Interest Politics
In addition, when the balanced-budget rule was over-thrown there was no longer any check on government spending. As economists, James M. Buchanan, and Richard E. Wagner pointed out in their book, “Democracy in Deficit” (1977), once government is freed from the restraint of making tax-payers directly and immediately pay for what it spends, every conceivable special-interest group can appeal to the politicians to feed their wants. The politicians, desiring votes and campaign contributions, happily offer to satisfy the gluttony of these favored groups. At the same time, the taxpayers easily fall prey to the delusion that government can give something for nothing to virtually everyone at no cost to them.
Indeed, politicians can now play the game of offering more and more dollars to special interests, while even lowering taxes. The government simply fills the gap by borrowing, imposing a greater debt burden on future generations. Either taxes will have to go up in the years ahead or the government will turn to the printing press to pay what it owes, all the while claiming that it’s being done to generate “national prosperity” and fund the “socially necessary” programs of the welfare state.
And no need to worry about all this in the present, Keynes assured us, after all “in the long run we are all dead.” Our problem is that we are increasingly living through the long-run consequences of Keynes’ short-run policies.Politicians Hear Keynes’ Defunct Voice in the Air
In one of the most famous passages in “The General Theory,” Keynes said, “the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.”
Almost eighty years after the appearance of “The General Theory,” many practical men of affairs and politicians in authority remain the slaves of defunct economists and academic scribblers. The tragedy for our times is that among the voices they still hear in the air as they corruptly mismanage everything they touch is that of John Maynard Keynes.
[Originally posted on epictimes.com]
Most people would be excited to have a Jed-Clampet moment when, while hunting for dinner, the shot resulted in bubbling crude coming up from the ground. Like the Clampet family, your life would change dramatically. Your land would suddenly be worth more than you’d ever dreamed!
If, while hunting for dinner, you instead find an endangered species—the half-jest, half-serious advice would be “shoot, shovel and shut up.” Kent Holsinger, a Colorado attorney whose work centers around endangered species issues, told me that he has seen many landowners lose significant value due to a listed species being found on their property.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was signed into law in 1973 by President Richard Nixon to preserve, protect and recover key domestic species. Though well intentioned at the start, the ESA has since been used as a tool to hinder or block economic activity from logging and farming to mining and oil-and-gas development—often to protect species that don’t truly need it.
In my book, Energy Freedom, I feature an entire chapter on the spotted owl because it gives us a beginning-to-end case history on the ESA. The spotted owl was listed as an endangered species on June 26, 1990, and has since shut down a substantial part of federal timber harvest and threatens logging on private lands. I start the chapter with these words: “It is hard to imagine a bigger failure—or a greater success—depending upon which side of the issue you stand. If you strive for open and honest government policy that is straightforward about its goals, this twenty-year experiment has failed. If you believe the end justifies the means, regardless of the cost in life or livelihood, then the spotted owl represents a great success.” I sum it up this way: “the spotted owl threatens private property rights, kills jobs, and puts the health of the forest in peril.” All that, and the owls have not “recovered.”
I’ve been very active in the fight to prevent the listing of the sand dune lizard in the oil patch of West Texas and New Mexico’s Permian Basin—which produces about 15 percent of U.S. oil. (Thanks to conservation agreements with private industry, the lizard was not listed.) I emceed the Roswell, New Mexico, rally to draw attention to the five-state lesser prairie chicken listing threat—which would, again, impact oil-and-gas development. (The Western Governors Association has been working with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies to develop a similar range-wide plan to protect the chicken while allowing for economic development. The listing decision is due by March 30, 2014.)
Coming up is the greater sage grouse—“a chicken-sized bird that has been in decline across large portions of its 11-state Western range. A final decision on whether to protect sage grouse is due next year and could result in wide-ranging restrictions on oil and gas development, agriculture and other economic activity,” reports the Associated Press (AP).
The delta smelt—that most of us first heard of in 2009—is, once again, back in the news.
California is facing a severe drought that Governor Jerry Brown has called “an emergency.” A recent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article examines “How green politics has exacerbated the state’s growing shortages.” It lists water rationing, forbidden sprinkler use, and restaurants serving water by-request-only as some of the ramifications of California’s historic drought. But, the WSJ states: “Suffering the most are farmers south of the delta whose water allocations have plunged over the last two decades due to endangered-species protections.” It continues: “California’s biggest water hog is the three-inch smelt, which can divert up to one million acre-feet in a wet year. In 2008, federal regulators at the prodding of green groups restricted water exports south to protect the smelt.”
The Bakersfield Californian cites Larry Starrah, a local farmer, whose family has been “forced to let 1,000 acres of productive almond trees die this year for lack of water.” The January 22 article faults the “delta smelt and other fish protected under the Endangered Species Act.” (Note: if your property has lost value due to an endangered species finding or if the federal government suddenly decides it is a protected wetland in violation of the National Wetlands Act—which can happen even though it has never been wet—have the property reassessed. In such cases, others have successfully had their property taxes dramatically lowered due to the fact it can never developed and is therefore less valuable. Imagine how the attitude about ESA and restrictions on wetlands would change if county governments’ property tax collections and revenues plummeted due to such punitive designations.)
To help alleviate the California water crisis, House Speaker John Boehner was in Bakersfield, with lawmakers from California, to tout legislation that would, according to Reuters: “roll back environmental rules limiting how much water agencies can pump out of the fragile San Joaquin-Sacramento River delta in dry years.” At a press conference Boehner said: “It’s nonsense that a bureaucracy would favor fish over people.” But, that is what the ESA requires.
The WSJ reports: Senator Dianne Feinstein “and her fellow California Senator Barbara Boxer and Rep. Jim Costa of Fresno urged federal agencies to ‘exercise their discretion in regulatory decision-making within the confines of the law to deliver more water to those whose health and livelihoods depend on it’”—which indicates that even the most radical of liberal politicians realize the problems they have created.
No wonder, many people believe it is time for the ESA to be overhauled.
In a letter to the WSJ, Greg Schildwachter applauds environmentalist Timothy Male for acknowledging that the ESA has flaws, as he did in his January 16 op-ed: “A green olive branch on endangered species.” Schildwachter sums up the problem: “The ESA leaves rights to property and species up to anyone’s guess and, therefore, to no one’s satisfaction.” He also offers a solution: “Before ESA, starting in the 1930s, wildlife conservation produced results. Sportsmen and sporting-equipment industries joined with government to restore deer, elk and other then-depleted wildlife. This worked politically because it added—instead of taking—value. It worked in policy because money improved field work instead of sharpening legal briefs. Something like it can work today.” Within his letter, Schildwachter points out: “The Interior Department inspector general concluded that lawsuits ‘are driving nearly everything [FWS] does in the ESA arena.’”
In a second letter published in the January 31 WSJ, Kyle Donovan called the lawsuits brought by environmental groups: “nuisance litigation.”
In his op-ed, Male says: The “mixed record on wildlife restoration—and the real and perceived impact it has on business—has turned the ESA into a partisan playing field.”
The aforementioned AP piece states: “Throughout its history, the law has faced criticism from business interests, Republicans and others.” And continues: “Those complaints grew louder in recent months after federal wildlife officials agreed to consider protections for more than 250 additional species under settlement terms in lawsuits brought by environmental groups”—an arrangement frequently referred to as “sue and settle.” If federal officials can add hundreds more “endangered species” to their protected list, development can be easily halted almost everywhere in the country.
The ESA has few friends outside of environmental lobbyists and attorneys. It was last updated in 1988. Holsinger explained it to me this way: “When the ESA was last amended, the Soviet Union was a superpower and Def Leppard was on the pop charts. It is high time that Congress modernized and improved this law to reflect what we now know.”
As we’ve seen with the sand dune lizard—and hope to see with the lesser prairie chicken—there are ways to successfully assist species that are truly in danger without putting species in conflict with people.
This is the goal of a brand-new report released on February 4 by the ESA Congressional Working Group led by Representatives Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and eleven others. Formed on May 19, 2013, The Working Group, according to the mission and purpose statement, “sought to examine the ESA from a variety of viewpoints and angles; receive input on how the ESA was working and being implemented and how and whether it could be updated to be more effective for both people and species.”
The report reflects hundreds of comments from outside individuals and testimony from nearly 70 witnesses who appeared before a Working Group forum and House Natural Resources Committee hearings. It concludes: “After more than 40 years, sensible, targeted reforms would not only improve the eroding credibility of the Act, but would ensure it is implemented more effectively for species and people.”
Rep. Lummis points out the tremendous conservation advances that have been made since the ESA became law:
“The American people have grown by leaps and bounds in their understanding of conservation, their willingness to conserve species, and their ability to conserve species —the ESA needs to grow with them. The ESA is stuck in a litigation driven model. This outdated model hinders the boots on the ground conservation we should be harnessing to actually recover endangered species, not just spout flowery rhetoric about the law in courtrooms. Our report is an exciting opportunity to bring the ESA into the next millennia.”
The report recommends constructive changes to the ESA in the following four categories:
- Ensuring greater transparency and prioritization of ESA with a focus on species recovery and delisting;
- Reducing ESA litigation and encouraging settlement reform;
- Empowering states, tribes, local governments and private landowners on ESA decisions affecting them and their property; and
- Requiring more transparency and accountability of ESA data and science.
Regarding the proposed changes, the AP states: “experts say broad changes to one of the nation’s cornerstone environmental laws are unlikely given the pervasive partisan divide in Washington, DC.” And: “Given the current level of rancor between Democrats and Republicans, academics who track the law were skeptical that the latest calls for change would succeed.”
Such statements highlight the importance of supporting the representatives behind the new report, encouragement of all other representatives and senators to sign on to the proposed reforms—and the importance of the 2014 election. As the AP points out: the ESA “enjoys fervent support among many environmentalists, whose Democratic allies on Capitol Hill have thwarted past proposals for change.”
Instead of shoot, shovel and shut up, key domestic species that should be preserved, protected and recovered would be better served by targeted legislative changes that can truly benefit species and people.
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.
Time to start watching U.S. cities go bankrupt. Prior to Detroit, there was Stockton, California, and, according to Stephen Moore, now the chief economist with the Heritage Foundation, there are more than sixty of the largest cities that “are plagued with the same kinds of retirement legacy costs that sent Detroit in Ch
apter 9 bankruptcy” last year.
“Keep an eye on ‘too big to fail’ cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York,” he warned. Among the twenty cities he listed in an August 2013 Newsm
ax article, he cited Compton and Oakland, CA, Harrisburg, PA, and Providence, RI. What these and other cities have in common is that “the vast majority are located in states with forced unions, non-right-to-work states.”
As Steve Stanek, a research fellow with the Heartland Institute, reported, when a federal judge, Stephen Rhodes, cleared the way for Detroit’s bankruptcy filing, in December, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFCCME) immediately filed a notice of appeal, but Detroit has more than 100,000 creditors. As its emergency financial manager, Kevyn Orr, said, “The reality is the city has no cash on hand to pay the magnitude of the debt we have, which is $12 billion–$5.7 billion of which has to do with health care obligations, $3.5 billion has to do with pensions, and $2 billion has to do with bondholders.”
At the time it declared bankruptcy, Detroit had 47 different public employee unions. The Detroit Water & Sewer Department had a farrier (a hors
e-shoer) who received $56,000 in pay and benefits every year even though the city had no horses in the department.
As Moore points out, “For at least the last 20 years major U.S. cities have been playgrounds for left-wing experiments—high taxes on the rich; sanctuaries for illegal immigrants; super-minimum wage rules; strict gun-control laws; regulations and paperwork that makes it onerous o open a business or develop on your own property; crony capitalism with contracts going to political donors and friends; and failing schools ruled by teacher unions, with little competition or productivity.”
The legacy costs of pensions and health benefits to retired teachers and municipal retirees force “city managers and mayors are forced to lay off firefighters, police and teachers. Detroit,” Moore noted, “has three retired city workers collecting a pension for every two currently working.”
Recently published, “The Great Withdrawal” by Craig R. Smith with Lowell Ponte examines the damage that progressive programs and policies have done to cities and to the nation. A nation with a $17 trillion debt who’s President has only one answer, raise the debt limit, will encounter a financial Armageddon if the spending and borrowing is not sharply curtailed.
Craig and Ponte point to 1913 as the year progressive, collectivist ideas “took control of the United States government and began a ‘fundamental transformation’ of our economy, politics, culture and beliefs that continues today.”
Citing Detroit as an example of the result of liberal, progressive policies, Smith said that “by 2013 (it) had become a war zone of urban strife, poverty, decay and government profligacy.”
Recall that President Obama claimed he had “saved” General Motors and Chrysler with bailouts that cost taxpayers “at least $25 billion that will never be paid back. At least a billion of these tax dollars went to improve GM facilities in Brazil, and at least $550 million went to GM facilities in Mexico.” Chrysler is now owned by the Italian automaker, Fiat.
Bond holders are major investors in cities and corporations, but the GM bailout denied payment to secured bondholders and redistributed their rightful share to the United Auto Workers. “As a result, today’s bonds are viewed as an investment with uncertain risk,” says Smith. In 2013, investors withdrew $80 billion from bond funds.”
As Smith points out, “The progressive method of operation was, and is, that when the economy is good, they raise taxes and expand government. When the economic cycle turns negative, the politicians blame others, refuse to reduce government—and, increasingly, use the bad economy as a reason for expanding government and spending even more.”
This describes what President has been doing since first elected in 2008. For the entirety of his first term, he blamed everything on President George W. Bush.
“Put simply,” says Smith, “most progressive cities are welfare city-states in which a large percentage of the population lives on government money, either as government dependents or government employees.” This description fits the nation as well.
How bad are the present times? “27 percent of Americans have no savings at all, 46 percent have savings of less than $800, and 76% of Americans now live paycheck to paycheck.”
With the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare—the Congressional Budget Office released a report predicting that, over the next decade, it will cost the nation about 2.3 million jobs and contribute to a $1 trillion increase in projected deficits.
Hans Bader, a senior attorney at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, notes that it contains massive marriage penalties that discriminate against married people, huge work disincentives for some older workers, has slashed hiring, cut economic growth, and induced employers to replace full-time workers with part-time employees. In the process, millions have seen their healthcare policies canceled or replaced with policies with higher premiums and deductibles.
There are already 92 million Americans who are unemployed or ceased looking for work. There are 47 million on food stamps.
The ultimate progressive, President Obama, is impoverishing millions of Americans. Unlike Detroit, America cannot declare bankruptcy. It can only collapse if voters do not replace those Senators and Representatives that voted for Obamacare and who refuse to take the steps to reduce government spending and borrowing. We have three years in which to survive Obama.
On February 5, the Federal Register published a Notice that invited members of the public to comment on whether the Obama Administration should finally approve expansion of the Keystone Pipeline. This is your chance to cast a vote in favor of U.S. energy security, jobs, and affordable energy.
The 30-day public comment period will close on March 7, 2014.
There are two ways to submit comments: Online at regulations.gov or by mail sent to:
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Energy Resources, Room 4843
Attn: Keystone XL Public Comments
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Comments are not private and will be made public.
Read the Executive Summary of the Jan. 31, 2014 State Department report on the Keystone XL pipline that stated the project will have little negative environmental impact. Also read reaction to that report from Heartland Institute energy and environment experts.Background on Keystone XL
The Heartland Institute has published extensive research and commentary on why building the Keystone XL Pipeline would be good for American consumers and workers. Some of our work includes the following:
February 5, 2014
Build the Keystone Pipeline, Already!
The Keystone XL pipeline was AWOL from Obama’s State of the Union address — along with real energy, job, economic, and revenue solutions.
February 1, 2014
State Dept: No Environmental Objection to Keystone XL Pipeline
The State Department concludes that since the oil which the pipeline would transport will be produced in any case and transported in any case, the pipeline will have no impact on carbon emissions or climate change.
January 10, 2014
The Very Green Keystone Pipeline Delay
On December 29, 2013, the Sierra Club was celebrating the shutdown of the 150th coal-fired plant that provided electricity. That’s nothing to celebrate.
August 26, 2013
Keystone XL: Not Just a Pipeline, a Life-line
The case for the Keystone XL pipeline is straight forward. Jobs will be created.
June 7, 2013
Heartland’s James M. Taylor on the Lars Larson Show talking Keystone XL
“They want to see this country being a nation that does not have affordable energy, that is getting away from carbon-based energy sources regardless of whether there is environmental impact or not.”
April 19, 2013
Keystone XL Opponents Hypocritically Talk Property Rights
Opponents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline are increasingly trumpeting private property rights as a reason people should oppose the pipeline.
March 14, 2013
Nebraska Gov. Heineman Announces New Support for Keystone XL
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, whose opposition to the original Keystone XL pipeline proposal emboldened federal opposition to the plan, announced he now supports the proposal.
March 5, 2013
State Department Says Keystone XL Will Have Little Environmental Impact
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is “unlikely to have a substantial impact” on global climate, the U.S. Department of State concluded in a 2,000-page draft review issued March 1.
March 5, 2013
Keystone Pipeline: Housecats Have Greater Emissions Impact
The Keystone XL pipeline battle has always been about the ideology of Climatism, the belief that man-made greenhouse gases are destroying Earth’s climate.
February 14, 2013
Rockefellers behind ‘scruffy little outfit’
Nothing influences President Barack Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline quite like the protests against it, led by Bill McKibben, an American environmentalist, and his organization, called 350.org.
January 23, 2013
Michael Whatley: Keystone XL Pipeline
Michael Whatley of the Consumer Energy Alliance talks with Ben Domenech about the Keystone XL pipeline and what to expect from the Obama administration on energy policy.
June 4, 2012
Nebraska Passes Legislation to Move Keystone XL Pipeline Forward
Nebraska’s unicameral legislature has passed a bill designed to keep alive the possible approval of the Keystone XL pipeline previously rejected by President Obama. In a bipartisan 44-5 vote, lawmakers endorsed legislation that will provide a mechanism for the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) to continue the Keystone evaluation independently and collaborate with the federal government on other pipeline projects. Gov. Dave Heineman (R) signed the bill into law.
May 31, 2012
Ten Actions Congress Can Take to Lower Gas Prices
President Obama and his Administration have consistently applied practices that block oil production on federal lands, denying access to energy sources and economic activity. Nevertheless, success stories on non-federal lands demonstrate the power of the free market to apply human ingenuity to natural resources and create economic growth and jobs while protecting the environment.
March 28, 2012
EPA Triples Down on “None of the Above”
Anti-energy crusaders are in a celebratory mood this week as the EPA effectively banned the construction of coal-fired power plants, and thus completed the federal government’s trifecta beat-down on affordable energy.
January 20, 2012
The Map Doesn’t Lie: Keystone XL Pipeline Is Environmentally Safe
President Obama had more than enough information to make the right decision, but – sadly and all too predictably – he choose to appease the environmental fringe once more.
January 18, 2012
Map Shows Keystone XL Pipeline Would Be One of Many Over Aquifer
Note the extensive network of existing pipelines in the area deemed too “risky” for the Keystone XL pipeline (the colored lines; the Keystone XL is in dark blue).
Heartland Daily Podcasts on Keystone XL
Map of the Keystone XL
Below is a map showing how the Keystone XL pipline (in dark blue) would be but one strand in a massive of a spider web of pipelines in the Midwest.
US oil and gas production was already declining, when the 1973 Arab oil embargo sent oil and gasoline prices skyrocketing and created block-long lines at gas stations. Increased domestic production could have eased the supply and price crunch, but the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill had resulted in congressional leasing and drilling moratoriums on federal offshore and onshore lands.
Though it voted 50-49 to build the Alaska pipeline, Congress refused to allow more drilling. Instead, it legislated a 55-mph speed limit, mileage standards for vehicles and a ban on exporting domestically produced crude oil. The speed limit was eventually lifted, but drilling bans expanded, the mileage rules tightened, the export ban remained, and the United States increasingly imported more oil at higher prices.
However, quietly and under the federal and environmentalist radar, America’s oil industry improved and expanded its horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (aka, fracking) technologies – on state and private lands, where DC regulators and pressure groups had little sway. The unprecedented boom that followed sent US oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids (propane) production sharply upward for the first time in decades. America’s oil output rose 30% just between 2011 and 2013, to 7.4 million barrels per day. The Green mantra that we were depleting petroleum supplies was smashed on the fractured rocks of reality.
Suddenly, the United States was importing less oil than at any time since 1995; millions of oil patch and related jobs were created; frack state royalty and tax revenues skyrocketed; natural gas prices plummeted; and the cheaper fuels and feed stocks fostered a US petrochemical and manufacturing renaissance. The fracking revolution also enabled companies to export more gasoline, kerosene, lubricants, solvents, asphalt and other finished products (since the government never banned refined product exports). Those exports have greatly improved the nation’s balance of trade and gross domestic product.
Now many American producers want the misguided export ban sent to history’s dust bin, so that they can ship crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) to foreign ports. Numerous other companies support their call for change. Asia needs the energy, they note, to fuel its growing economy and support its inadequate petroleum production infrastructure. Europe needs it because too much of its natural gas comes from Russia, which charges high prices and sometimes engages in energy blackmail, and because EU fracking bans and global warming/renewable energy policies have sent business and family energy prices into the stratosphere and killed millions of jobs. The United States as a whole would also benefit.
Congress should terminate the ban. (Or President Obama could void it with yet another unconstitutional executive diktat, to counter his job-killing mandates.) Proffered reasons for perpetuating the prohibition reflect a poor grasp of energy markets, misguided self interests and simple hypocrisy.
US oil production is expected to increase by some 780,000 barrels per day in 2014, rising to 9.6 million per day by 2019. The nation’s refining capacity is at record levels, for light, heavy, sweet and sour crude. Exports would provide and important outlet for some of this crude, encouraging further exploration, protecting jobs, further revitalizing our economy, and ensuring continued royalty and tax revenues.
Opening more publicly owned lands to leasing, drilling and fracking would magnify these benefits many times over. These resources belong to all Americans, not only to those who oppose energy development or want to use anti-hydrocarbon policies to undermine economic growth and job creation. Expanded fracking operations on all these lands would further expand supplies, by making otherwise marginal plays more economic to produce, reinvigorating old oil and gas fields, prolonging oil field life, and ensuring greater resource conservation, by leaving far fewer valuable resources behind in rock formations.
Concerns that ending the ban would hurt consumers are misplaced. Indeed, for reasons just given, the opposite would happen. Expanding domestic supplies will keep OPEC at bay, stabilize global supplies and prices, and make the United States less reliant on imports and less vulnerable to supply disruptions.
What’s truly ironic and hypocritical here is that this sudden concern about consumer prices comes from members of Congress and self-styled environmental and consumer groups who have led the wars on leasing, drilling, fracking and hydrocarbons – while supporting expensive, land-intensive, water-hungry ethanol and biofuel programs. All these policies hurt consumers, by driving up energy prices. And who can forget President Obama’s pledge that electricity prices will “necessarily skyrocket” under his policies, or former Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s wish that gasoline cost $8-10 per gallon, as it does in Europe.
Companies like Dow Chemical and Delta Airlines would thus be better advised to support expanded petroleum exploration and production (for which their voices have rarely been above a whisper), than to continue campaigning for an extended oil and gas export ban.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman (!) Ron Wyden (D-OR) also displayed woeful ignorance about energy matters when he recently expressed concern about proposed LNG exports worsening propane shortages that have left many families shivering this winter. Propane is naturally occurring natural gas liquids; it has nothing to do with exports. LNG is liquefied (compressed and super-cooled) natural gas. Moreover, the propane shortage is due to pipeline maintenance and repair problems in late 2013, coupled with unusual demand for propane last fall to dry corn for ethanol production.
(Mr. Wyden’s remark brings to mind House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s famous comment: “I believe in natural gas as a clean, cheap alternative to fossil fuels.” Memo to Ms. Pelosi: Natural gas is a fossil fuel. And these are the people who are dictating and running our energy and economic policies!)
Furthermore, these pseudo-converts to consumer protection are claiming concern that the current $9 per barrel difference between US and global oil prices could shrink if some oil is exported. They say Barclays Bank predicts that eliminating the export ban could add $10 billion a year to gasoline costs. However, US gasoline expenditures totaled $335 billion in 2012. So this potential increase works out to just 3% of an average household’s $2912 gasoline expenses. That’s $87 a year, $1.67 a week – half the price of one Starbucks Latte Grande. The consumer impact of America’s massive land lockups is much higher.
Even worse, increasingly tougher automobile mileage standards result in countless injuries and deaths.
One more ironic and hypocritical aspect of all this is that ban proponents want US oil and gas to remain in the USA, rather than letting some of it support our European allies. Let Europe produce its own oil and gas, or get it from the OPEC and Russian extortionists, they say. And yet these same “ethicists” have long demanded that the United States keep its own vast petroleum supplies locked up, while we deplete other countries’ assets and put their ecological treasures at risk from production-related accidents.
President Obama himself has said the Saudis should send us more oil, when global supplies tighten – rather than using his pen and phone to tell his energy overseers to produce more here at home. The US has also criticized China for restricting exports of rare earth metals – and selling only electronic, solar panel and wind turbine components made with rare earths – while we block US rare earth mining.
Manmade climate change alarmists should also remember that natural gas exports will reduce coal use overseas, which will in turn reduce those dastardly emissions of plant-fertilizing, life-giving carbon dioxide. (Not surprisingly, 350.org chief Bill McKibben claims that aggregate life-cycle CO2 emissions from gas production and use will “almost certainly” be worse than coal. This is utter nonsense. It’s also worth noting that life-cycle energy use, CO2 emissions and pollution associated with electric car rare earth metals, production, charging and use are almost certainly worse than coal or natural gas.)
The bottom line is simple. Exporting US oil and natural gas will benefit American workers, families, consumers, balance of trade and government revenues. We must not let provincial views, anti-hydrocarbon ideologies or misinformed policy positions perpetuate this antiquated ban.
In a victory for the future of the Internet and for property rights, last month the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned — we should all hope permanently — the heart of the Federal Communication Commission’s so-called “Net Neutrality” rules.
Net Neutrality, as with so many leftist proposals, is Orwellian in name: it represents little more than the theft of property rights of companies that have invested billions of dollars in Internet infrastructure.
It is “neutral” in the sense that the regulations would force providers of Internet bandwidth to treat all content providers the same way. That is no more reasonable than saying that a stadium can’t sell better seats for higher prices or limit access to the Club level or tell you that you can’t bring in your own beer. It is “neutral” in the same way that Chairman Mao was “neutral” about private property.
The FCC had passed three rules relating to disclosure, “anti-blocking,” and “anti-discrimination” on the ’Net. The court invalidated the last two, while permitting the disclosure rule that requires broadband providers to “publicly disclose accurate information regarding the network management practices, performance, and commercial terms of [their] broadband Internet access services.”
While the majority (two of the panel’s three judges) accepted the FCC’s claims of broad authority to regulate the Internet — an important part of the unfortunate precedent continued by the case — the court nonetheless unanimously ruled that the FCC could not prevent providers of Internet bandwidth from blocking content running through their “pipes,” such as access to certain websites or access by certain devices, or from charging different content providers different amounts, such as for bandwidth-intensive applications like video streaming.
Supporters of Net Neutrality worry that the result of the court’s ruling will be that broadband providers like Comcast or Verizon, which own other businesses that may compete with certain websites, may block out the competition.
For example, if one of those companies bought an online payment service, would they try to block PayPal? Or would they give their own streaming movies advantages over Netflix or Amazon or Hulu? Or might a broadband company that can provide cable TV service try to block Internet access to a box owned by DirecTV? But, especially in the world of wireless Internet, competition will undoubtedly rein in the worst impulses of some of the companies that Americans love to hate.
Tuesday’s ruling was narrow and legalistic: The FCC’s rules were struck down because they treat Internet providers like “common carriers” (an old designation that relates to everything from telephone companies to ferries) even though the FCC is expressly prohibited from regulating Internet companies as common carriers.
The judges were kinder to the FCC than they should have been in accepting so much of the Commission’s broader justification for rule-making: “The Commission… has reasonably interpreted section 706 to empower it to promulgate rules governing broadband providers’ treatment of Internet traffic, and its justification for the specific rules at issue here — that they will preserve and facilitate the ‘virtuous circle’ of innovation that has driven the explosive growth of the Internet — is reasonable and supported by substantial evidence.”
The proper response — and perhaps explaining why I’m not a lawyer — is “Bull****!”
The reason the Internet is one of the most successful achievements in human history is that it’s been almost entirely unregulated (other than attempting to prevent already illegal acts like dealing drugs or distributing child pornography, etc.) The idea that anything the FCC would do is likely to increase innovation is ridiculous on its face.
Furthermore, telling Internet infrastructure (“backbone” or broadband) providers, who’ve spent billions of dollars of shareholders’ money building the physical structure of the Internet, how they must charge for the use of their assets is nothing more and nothing less than the theft of property. It’s as if someone builds a toll road only to have regulators say they must charge a big 18-wheeler, which does much more damage to the road than a car does, the same toll that the car pays. It is naked theft. It is destructive to the incentive to build more such roads. And you can bet the truck lobby would be for it.
In a partial dissent, Judge Laurence Silberman goes further in the right direction, questioning much of the FCC’s authority to regulate the Internet (and his colleagues’ acceptance of the FCC’s claims):
So much for the terms “promote competition in the local telecommunications market” or “remove barriers to infrastructure investment.” Presto, we have a new statute granting the FCC virtually unlimited power to regulate the Internet. This reading of § 706, as we said in Comcast Corp. v. FCC , “would virtually free the Commission from its congressional tether.” The limiting principles the majority relies on are illusory.
Silberman is pointing us to a reason why our constitutional republic, our freedom, and our national self-reliant character is crumbling: Too many legislators, judges, and citizens are erroneously and unwisely accepting the ongoing encroachment of the regulatory state into aspects of our lives where they are not permitted, wanted, or helpful — except from the point of view of left-wingers and rent-seekers who push to use the power of government to effectively steal billions of dollars from unloved (and thus not politically easy to defend) corporations like Verizon and Comcast.
Google and other Internet companies that lobbied for Net Neutrality should be ashamed. They got big, successful, and fabulously wealthy due to the “wild west” nature of the Web. But now that they’re riding high they want to use the power of government to cement their advantages. I wonder how Google would feel if the government told them they could not charge different amounts for different advertisements, or Netflix that they couldn’t charge differently for different movies, TV shows, or their own original content… or that they must supply HBO’s original content at the same price as their own.
The companies have argued that they “have based decisions to embark on significant investments precisely upon the premise of non-discriminatory access to content.”
But imagine a high-end car company trying to use the government to tell gas stations that they must sell premium for the price of regular. Imagine Godiva getting a regulator to say that they must be sold the world’s best cocoa beans for the same price that Hershey’s pays for whatever quality they buy. It cannot be said strongly or often enough: any such approach, including Net Neutrality, is immoral, impractical, and in almost any other context illegal. Claiming that they have made business decisions based on an assumption of immoral and illegal government regulation is preposterous, but all too believable in 21st-century America.
The former FCC Chairman who pushed so hard for these rules, Julius Genachowski, is a very smart guy. He is also a partisan political hack who worked for Chuck Schumer and was a classmate of Barack Obama’s at Harvard Law School. In creating the now-dead rules, he was doing the bidding of President Obama’s big donors at Google while sucking up to George Soros-funded leftist organizations.
Genachowski’s replacement, Tom Wheeler, who now must decide whether to appeal Tuesday’s ruling, is a successful communications sector venture capitalist. Unfortunately, he is described byPolitico as “a longtime Obama loyalist… (who) raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama’s two presidential campaigns.”
So don’t look for the politicization of regulation under this administration to miss a step under new FCC leadership.
With Net Neutrality dead for the time being, I expect renewed focus by the partisan Wheeler on a new version of the “Fairness Doctrine” in which the FCC will work to weaken conservative dominance over talk radio and cable TV news. As of December, Fox News had more viewers than MSNBC, CNN, and HLN combined, while talk radio continues to see stations leaving the Progressive Talk format entirely. Democrats are furious.
Despite officially jettisoning Fairness Doctrine rules in 2011, a more recent makeover of this ugly mindset threatens to tell media organizations what, or at least what kind, of news stories they must cover and how they must cover them in order to “illuminate the diversity of views available.” Republicans are already calling early “studies” preparation for “Fairness Doctrine 2.0.“
Tuesday’s victory, although in an important battle, must be seen in the context of a never-ending war against a patient and determined enemy.
[First published at the American Spectator.]
Join us for a luncheon lecture with author and presidential scholar Tevi Troy, who will talk about his new book, What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.
Just $15 gets you a good lunch, a great speaker, and excellent networking opportunities!
From Cicero to Snooki, the cultural influences on our American presidents are powerful and plentiful. Thomas Jefferson famously said “I cannot live without books,” and his library backed up the claim, later becoming the backbone of the new Library of Congress. Jimmy Carter watched hundreds of movies in his White House, while Ronald Reagan starred in a few in his own time. Lincoln was a theater-goer, while Obama kicked back at home to a few episodes of HBO’s “The Wire.”
America is a country built by thinkers on a foundation of ideas. Alongside classic works of philosophy and ethics, however, our presidents have been influenced by the books, movies, TV shows, viral videos, and social media sensations of their day.
In What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House former White House aide Tevi Troy combines research with witty observation to tell the story of how our presidents have been shaped by popular culture.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tevi Troy is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a writer and consultant on health care and domestic policy. He is a frequent television and radio analyst, and has appeared on CNN, Fox News, Fox Business, CNBC, and The Jim Lehrer Show, among other outlets.
Troy served as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush. In that position, he oversaw all operations, including Medicare, Medicaid, public health, medical research, food and drug safety, welfare, child and family services, disease prevention, and mental health services.
Troy has extensive White House experience, having served in several high-level positions over a five-year period, culminating in his service as Deputy Assistant and then Acting Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. In the latter position, he ran the Domestic Policy Council and was the White House’s lead adviser on health care, labor, education, transportation, immigration, crime, veterans and welfare. At the White House, Troy also specialized in crisis management, creating intra-governmental consensus, and all aspects of policy development, including strategy, outreach and coalition building.
Troy has a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and an M.A and Ph.D. in American Civilization from the University of Texas at Austin. Troy lives in Maryland with his wife Kami and four children.
On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office released a budget projection update which decimates Democrats’ claims that Obamacare does not hurt the American economy.
In Appendix C of the rather dense document, the CBO concludes that various provisions of Obamacare will “reduce the total number of hours worked,” “will cause a reduction…in aggregate labor compensation,” and most dramatically will result in “a decline in the number of full-time equivalent workers of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024” as compared to employment growth in the absence of the Affordable Care Act.
The White House responded by pointing out that the CBO’s estimates do not derive primarily from a reduced demand for labor by employers, as Republicans have argued. But it’s hardly consoling to read CBO’s prediction of “a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply…(which) will appear almost entirely as a reduction in labor force participation and in hours worked….”
The main cause of this trend is the work-discouraging combination of taxes and subsidies for lower-income Americans in Obamacare. In other words, the implied tax and subsidy penalties for success are so high that it won’t be worth a lower-income person’s effort to try to climb up the income ladder.
So much for the American dream.
And while the CBO does suggest that demand for labor will not decline substantially due to the costs imposed by Obamacare, they do say that costs “will be borne primarily by workers in the form of reduced wages or other compensation.” So even the White House’s good news is bad news for working Americans.
The CBO also suggests that part of the reason that Obamacare will not substantially reduce the demand for labor is because “the expansion of Medicaid subsidies and the provision of exchange subsidies will not only stimulate greater demand for health care services but also allow lower-income households that gain subsidized coverage to increase their spending on other goods and services.”
But the CBO’s static analysis ignores the fact that this effect – nothing more than massive wealth distribution – is just another version of Keynesian economic stimulus which has failed every place and every time it has been attempted. There is no free lunch, and the money which the CBO claims will benefit the economy through increased consumption will simply result in decreased consumption – and therefore decreased employment – in other sectors of the economy. It’s the healthcare version of Cash for Clunkers.
The non-partisan CBO, highly respected by the media despite (or perhaps because of) their reliance on static analysis that tends to bias results toward higher spending and higher taxes, has cut the legs out of Democrats’ claims that Obamacare is not harmful to the economy.
[First published at the American Spectator.]
President Obama said in his State of the Union last week, “But Americans overwhelmingly agree that no one who works full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.”
Thank you, Mr. President. But even without you, as already enacted in current law, for anyone who works full time in America, the minimum wage, plus the Earned Income Tax Credit, plus the Child Tax Credit, equals or exceeds the poverty level for every possible family combination, including single mothers with children.
Full time work at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 equals $15,080 a year. That exceed the federal poverty level for 2014 for one single person living alone, at $11,670. In addition, that single person still qualifies for an earned income tax credit of $496. Because that is “refundable,” the individual still gets that in cash even if he or she is not liable for any federal income taxes.
With one child, the single person gets an additional $1,000. Plus the Earned Income Tax Credit increases to $3,305, for a grand total of $19,385. The poverty level for 2014 for a single mother with a child is $15,730.
With 2 children, the family gets $2,000 in child tax credits, and the Earned Income Tax Credit increases to $5,460. So with full time work, that comes to $22,540 in total income. The poverty level for 2014 for a single mother with two children is $19,790.
With 3 children, the family gets $3,000 in child tax credits, and the Earned Income Tax Credit increases to $6,143. With full time work, family income totals $24,223, compared to the federal poverty level for 2014 for a mother and 3 children of $23,850.
And so it goes. Your job, Mr. President, is not to give pretty sounding speeches proclaiming to everyone how you are more moral and caring than they are. Your job is to adopt policies that will foster the creation of jobs, so the poor can get full time work.
You can start with approving the Keystone XL Pipeline, and telling billionaire Tom Steyer who keeps threatening you if you do to report to the nearest poverty office in California and take personal responsibility for all the poor people there without full time work.
Then you can support Ted Cruz in his effort to repeal Obamacare, which is strongly discouraging employers from offering full time work. You can also repeal all the new taxes on capital investment you forced through at the start of last year, because capital investment is what creates jobs and increases wages in a capitalist economy.
I am sorry you never learned that from all your “progressive” parents, mentors, and teachers growing up, or through your inadequate education at Columbia and Harvard. I know, I got the same inadequate education at Harvard College and Harvard Law School myself. But I at least supplemented that with independent thinking and reading.
So I know, unlike you, that if you increase the legal minimum wage above what some workers can produce, employers will just not hire them at all. That is why after your thoughtless Democrat friends raised the minimum wage when they took over Congress in 2007, teenage unemployment soared to 25%, teenage Hispanic unemployment exploded to 30%, and black teenage unemployment skyrocketed to 45%.
Those numbers have come down a bit more recently. But now you want to raise them again.
The way jobs and wages are increased in a capitalist economy like ours is though capital investment. That creates jobs and increased demand for labor, which increases wages. It also gives workers the tools to be more productive, so employers can finance hiring them at higher wages.
It would help as well if fathers would stick around and work full time and contribute to the welfare of their children. That would add at least another $15,080 a year to the above family income levels. That is why there is no poverty among two parent families with both parents working. Zero, zip, nada.
But that would mean all of your social liberal friends would have to stop promoting family breakup and chaos. And that would mean a lot less fun for everyone. Except the children.
[First published at The American Spectator.]