Posts Tagged ‘economy’
It’s one of the most fundamental political questions of our time: What’s driving the growth in government spending? And it has a relatively straightforward answer: first and foremost, spending on health care through Medicare and Medicaid, and other major social insurance and entitlement programs.
But I thought it was worth reviewing the evidence in a bit more detail. There are a few surprises along the way, some of which liberal readers might like and others of which will please conservative readers.
The Web site usgovernmentspending.com has an abundance of data on federal, state and local spending at different points in time. My focus will be on how government has been spending its money in the present and the past, rather than evaluating any future budgets or projections.
Read more by NATE SILVER at fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com
How bad is the USA’s debt problem (as we approach the dreaded debt ceiling debate)?
Federal government debt held by the public surged starting in Q2 2008.
But since Q2 2008, government debt held by the public surged 113%. But real GDP growth over 4+ years was a measly 2.6%. That’s not annual real GDP growth, but real GDP growth over 4+ years!
Read more by Anthony B. Sanders at confoundedinterest.wordpress.com
–SNIP– One of the central weaknesses of radicalism is that radicals seem to lose track of the causes and foundations of the things even they value. They don’t understand that peace is always and everywhere the end result of superior firepower, improved health the result of greater wealth, wealth the result of hardheaded and often greedy business dealing, and liberty deeply linked to a specific concept of man’s relationship to God. They never consider that it may at least be questionable whether the cornerstone can be removed without the structure toppling over.
Conversely, one of the central weaknesses of conservatism is that conservatives see all too clearly how every good thing we have is linked to everything else. They can trace in a moment how any change in the system might lead to disaster. Expand the definition of marriage and civilization falls. Raise taxes and end up in chains. Allow women to vote and government will become an all-embracing over-protective mother state infantilizing the population. Okay, maybe that last one’s true, but you see what I’m getting at.
So in the interest of letting a little light into the room, and with a full realization that our president is doing a bad job, the congress incapable of stopping him, and the media protecting him with coverups and lies, let me list three positive trends that might transform our country for the better in the next two years.
Read more by Andrew Klavan at PJmedia.com
If there’s been one topic that has entirely dominated the post-election landscape, it’s the fiscal cliff. Will taxes be raised? Which programs will be cut? Who will blink first in negotiations? For all the talk of the fiscal cliff, however, I believe the US is facing a much more serious problem, one that has simply not been talked about at all: corruption. But this isn’t the overt, “bartering of government favors in return for private kickbacks” corruption. Instead, this type of corruption has actually been legalized. And it is strangling both US competitiveness, and the ability for US firms to innovate.
The corruption to which I am referring is the phenomenon of money in politics.
Read more by James Allworth at Harvard Business Review
In the wake of President Obama’s re-election victory, there has been a lot of discussion about makers and takers. Mitt Romney said on a conference call with supporters, among many other things, that Obama bought a lot of votes with “gifts” to various constituencies, an evidently true observation for which he mysteriously was maligned by Bobby Jindal and others. The truth is much worse than Romney suggested or than most people imagine: the middle class is right to feel bitter and betrayed. Those who work for a living have been sold out by federal and state governments that have created a welfare system gone mad.
ZeroHedge has the grim numbers:
[I]t is now more lucrative – in the form of actual disposable income – to sit, do nothing, and collect various welfare entitlements, than to work. This is graphically, and very painfully confirmed, in the below chart from Gary Alexander, Secretary of Public Welfare, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (a state best known for its broke capital Harrisburg). As quantitied, and explained by Alexander, “the single mom is better off earning gross income of $29,000 with $57,327 in net income & benefits than to earn gross income of $69,000 with net income and benefits of $57,045.“
Read more by John Hinderaker at Powerlineblog.com
The question so many people are asking.
The refrain started many weeks, even months, before the election, but its frequency and intensity has increased nearly exponentially since Nov. 6.
“I don’t know if we can survive another four years of this,” people say. Or, “do you think we can survive four more years of this?” Even Bill Kristol, not prone to defeatism, speculated on what might happen “even if America can survive the next four years of Obama.” [Emphasis added.] The words aren’t coming from alarmists. They come in face-to-face conversations, or in emails, or on the phone. They come from Washington, from New York, from New Jersey, from Minnesota, from Alabama, from New Orleans — from all over. Serious, ordinary people, some of whom live and breathe politics and some of whom pay almost no attention to current affairs, aren’t panicking or exaggerating. They are really worried about what this man in the White House will do now. And they’re really worried about whether America as we know it can survive.
Read more by Quin Hillyer at The American Spectator
Do elections have consequences? If you have been paying attention to the financial markets, you might think so. Wall Street has had two horrible days since President Obama won a second term.
However, stock prices are not the only thing taking a hit. It appears that the job market is also suffering. In the last 48 hours, the following major corporations have announced layoffs in America (links take you to news stories about the layoffs – with details from the companies):
• Energizer -
Read more at TheBlaze.com
No matter which candidate wins Tuesday, it’s clear the media didn’t just cover this election, they shaped it. To paraphrase Dickens, it was the best of coverage and the worst of coverage.
If you were President Obama, you got the best of coverage and photos of you with halos around your head. Your made-up autobiography and “composite” girlfriend were a blip in the news, your radical positions downplayed and the ongoing failures of your administration – economy, fast and furious, foreign policy in general – were all given short shrift in the major media.
Even your massive failure on Libya where four Americans were killed was somehow “utterly contrived” and CNN’s Candy Crowley covered for you during the debates. Every silly thing your PR people thought up from Big Bird to bayonets to binders received journalistic attention.
Read more by Dan Gainor at Fox News
With digital technology being used for all manner of government distributions, it’s difficult to overtly distinguish between the severity of the Great Depression of the 1930′s and today’s economic crisis.
But just because we don’t see thousands of hungry people lined up for hours at a time at their local soup kitchen today doesn’t mean the lines don’t exist.
Read more by Mac Slavo at shtfplan.com
As a biographer of Ronald Reagan, I’m constantly asked to compare today’s fiscal/economic situation to what Reagan faced in the 1980s. Today’s record debt/deficits remind of the 1980s, though today’s are far worse, with the deficit at least six times as high—and debt-to-GDP and deficit-to-GDP ratios two and three times (respectively) higher. The current economy is the worst since the early 1980s, with a prolonged non-recovering “recovery” older still. By 1984, the Reagan recovery was not just in bloom but exploding, with dramatically improved unemployment and economic growth six times higher than the current anemic rate, awarding Reagan millions of Democratic votes as he swept 49 of 50 states in his re-election.
But one comparison I haven’t been asked about are today’s homeless levels vs. those under Reagan. That’s a notable omission. One who has noticed is Dr. Tracy Miller, an economist and colleague of mine. Miller recently visited Chicago, where he went to graduate school in the 1980s, and was struck by what he saw. “I couldn’t help but notice the large number of homeless people in the downtown area,” says Miller, “including one homeless man pushing a child in a stroller.”
Miller observes: “Homelessness was frequently discussed during the 1980s, but seems to receive less media attention now. And yet, the number of homeless today is approximately twice as large as it was in the 1980s.”
Read more by Paul Kengor at Townhall.com
The foundations of Obama’s campaign are not nearly as strong as they once seemed
A presidential reelection campaign needs three key elements: a defense of the incumbent’s record, a successful effort to define the opposition and a compelling vision of a second term.
President Obama may well celebrate a second term in Chicago next month, but the conventional wisdom underestimates the difficulty he faces, as his campaign has distinct problems with all three elements.
His defense of his record is exceptionally weak, his effort to define Mitt Romney is nearly exhausted, and his vision for the next four years — perhaps the most important — has been largely missing from his effort this year.
Read more by Jim Geraghty at NY Daily News
In making his case for re-election in the face of historically high unemployment and sluggish growth, President Obama has a simple and straightforward argument.
Things were terrible when I arrived, he says, thanks to Bush-era policies of tax cuts and deregulation. We stopped the decline, but the ditch was so deep that it will take time to get out. Still, we are making progress, even if it isn’t as fast as everyone would like.
So the last thing we want to do is return to the failed Bush policies that, he says, drove us into the ditch.
That argument appears to be working. More people continue to blame Bush than Obama for the current poor state of affairs, and some surveys show that consumer confidence has recently increased.
But each part of Obama’s argument is based on claims that are not accurate:
Read more by JOHN MERLINE at Investors Business Daily
Forget the polls, forget the focus groups, forget the media. What is occurring in the campaign of 2012 is simplicity itself: Barack Obama has lost the mandate of heaven.
We persist in the illusion (even conservatives, who should be immune to this kind of thinking) that politics is somehow a form of “rational” activity, open to “scientific” understanding and manipulation. The entire apparatus of political consultancy, polling, and analysis is based on this premise. Millions — in recent years, hundreds of millions — are spent on polls, meta-modeling, and God knows what else in carefully planned and executed attempts to drive the results. And yet, this methodology’s record of errors and failures is virtually endless. Ronald Reagan runs double-digits behind Jimmy Carter right up to the final weekend of the 1980 campaign; the 2000 election ends up hanging on a little over 500 votes; Scott Brown easily takes a Senate seat sworn to blue since the heyday of Babylon.
There’s no mystery in any of this. Human beings are not, at base, rational (they aren’t irrational, either. An acquaintance of mine coined the term “arational,” which seems to fit the case), and politics is a quintessential human activity. In fact, you could define humans as “animals who campaign.” Operating on arational principles, voters will bounce around a lot before finally settling down. The electoral politics industry, predicated as it is on a nonexistent Cartesian voter who will vote his own interests like clockwork, is inevitably left choking on dust.
Read more by J.R. Dunn at American Thinker
–SNIP– If often happens that an ideological movement will make great strides through education and organization and cultural influence, only to take the illogical leap of believing that politics and political influence, which usually means taking jobs within the bureaucracy, is the next rung on the ladder to success. This is like trying to fight a fire with matches and gasoline. This is what happened to the Christian right in the 1980s. They got involved in politics in order to throw off the yoke of the state. Twenty years later, many of these people are working in the Department of Education or for the White House, doing the prep work to amend the Constitution or invade some foreign country. This is a disastrous waste of intellectual capital.
Read more by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. at LewRockwell.com
Name a single thing that has improved under his rule.
How can any cogent American citizen possibly even consider voting for Barack Obama now? That’s what lots of conservatives and moderates are asking each other, again and again. It’s completely baffling, to those who grew up with any sort of sense of what America means and what the American character traditionally has been, that anybody can look at the man’s record and want more of the same.
Almost the entirety of the Muslim world is now rioting against an American president who promised that his olive branches to Muslims would secure peace. Like Jimmy Carter, Obama has only shown a weakness that has emboldened the Islamist haters. Meanwhile, our closest ally in the region, Israel, a stable representative democracy led by an American-educated, America-loving prime minister, has repeatedly been insulted, abandoned, and undermined. In short, the United States is in worse position with all sides in the Middle East/northern Africa. We are embarrassed, feckless, wounded… and in four tragic cases, dead.
Read more By Quin Hillyer at The American Spectator