Monday, March 30, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Obama seeks Muslims for White House posts
45 Ivy League grads, Fortune 500 execs, government officials submitted for look
WASHINGTON – Barack Obama is conducting his own affirmative action program to get more Muslims in the White House.
The move began with Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn, who took his oath of office with a hand on the Quran, to solicit the resume of what he considered to be the nation's most qualified adherents of Islam.
According to the Denver Post, when White House officials heard about the program, it was put on overdrive.
So far, 45 Ivy League grads, Fortune 500 executives and government officials have been submitted for consideration.
J. Saleh Williams, program coordinator for the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association, sifted through more than 300 names as part of the search.
"It was mostly under the radar," Williams said. "We thought it would put (the president) in a precarious position. We didn't know how closely he wanted to appear to be working with the Muslim American community."
Ellison is serious about his faith. He made the pilgrimage to Mecca with the sponsorship of the Muslim American Society, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In 1991, Mohamed Akram wrote a memo for the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood that explained its work in America as "a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions."
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn
Sunday, March 29, 2009
The Real Che Guevara
An essay by Dr. Douglas Young, Professor of Political Science & History at Gainesville State College
February 10, 2009
Hollywood has dutifully churned out yet another cinematic agitprop paean to a leftist “martyr,” this time Ernesto Guevara. So let’s recall the real “Che” and try to discern why many supposedly democratic, civil libertarian liberals still swoon over this Stalinist mass-murderer.
The meticulous myth of Senor Guevara is of a handsome Argentine heroically helping Fidel Castro’s guerrillas liberate Cuba from Fulgencio Batista’s military dictatorship in 1959. Then he became a global revolutionary icon inspiring the downtrodden to rise up everywhere, even personally leading rebel warriors in the Congo before being executed doing the same in Bolivia in 1967. The (communist) party line says Che personifies the selfless humanitarian courageously fighting for “social justice.” He’s the Marxists’ martyred Christ figure replete with pictures of his half-naked corpse riddled with bullet holes. And the classic poster of an angry young Guevara has scarred countless college dorm rooms for over 40 years, putting a face on the eternally young rebel for angry adolescents everywhere.
The real Guevara was a reckless bourgeois adrenaline-junkie seeking a place in history as a liberator of the oppressed. But this fanatic’s vehicle of “liberation” was Stalinism, named for Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, murderer of well over 20 million of his own people. As one of Castro’s top lieutenants, Che helped steer Cuba’s revolutionary regime in a radically repressive direction. Soon after overthrowing Batista, Guevara choreographed the executions of hundreds of Batista officials without any fair trials. He thought nothing of summarily executing even fellow guerrillas suspected of disloyalty and shot one himself with no due process.
Che was a purist political fanatic who saw everything in stark black and white. Therefore he vociferously opposed freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, protest, or any other rights not completely consistent with his North Korean-style communism. How many rock music-loving teens sporting Guevara t-shirts today know their hero supported Cuba’s 1960s’ repression of the genre? How many homosexual fans know he had gays jailed?
Did the Obama volunteers in that Texas campaign headquarters with Che’s poster on the wall know that Guevara fervently opposed any free elections? How “progressive” is that?
How socially just was it that Che was enraged when the Russians blinked during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis and withdrew their nuclear missiles from the island, thus averting a nuclear war? Guevara was such a zealous ideologue that he relished the specter of millions of Cuban lives sacrificed on the altar of communism, declaring Cuba “a people ready to sacrifice itself to nuclear arms, that its ashes might serve as a basis for new societies.” Some humanitarian.
Che was a narcissist who boasted that “I have no house, wife, children, parents, or brothers; my friends are friends as long as they think like me, politically.” This is a role model for today’s “post-political” voters claiming we should get beyond partisanship?
Adding to the ridiculousness of the Che cult is that he was virtually a complete failure. As a medical doctor, he never even had a practice. When put in charge of the Cuban economy at the start of Castro’s government, his uncompromising communist diktats ran it completely into the ground, from which it never recovered. Humiliated, and also angry that Castro wasn’t fomenting enough revolution abroad, he then tried to lead such quixotic adventures in Argentina, the Congo, and Bolivia, failing miserably everywhere while sacrificing the lives of scores of naïve, idealistic young followers as deluded pawns in the service of his personality cult.
Another reason he fled Cuba in the mid-1960s was the complete mess he made of his private life. Though he preached sexual purity to his colleagues, he was a shameless adulterer who abandoned two wives and many children, some legitimate, others not. As a grandson put it, “he was never home.” The public Che who supposedly had such great love for humanity privately couldn’t stand most folks.
Guevara’s promiscuous communist adventurism was the pattern of a terminal adolescent running away from his problems to get caught up in some heroic crusade against his eternal bete noir, “Yankee imperialism.”
So why do so many well-heeled American libs still admire this thug? Are the young simply ignorant of his execrable record and drawn to the image of the dashing young rebel? Do older progressives feel guilt for their free market prosperity, and showing solidarity with Che absolves them? Do hippies-turned-yuppies get nostalgic for their youthful protests and rationalize that the symbolism of Che as a “social reformer” eclipses his actual horrific human rights record? And are some American Guevaraistas truly dangerous leftists who seek to emulate their icon and destroy our free, democratic, capitalist society? Ask that guy wearing the Che t-shirt.
(visit the link above for tons of proof and testimony that support this essay)
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Regular listeners to the Rush Limbaugh program or subscribers to the Limbaugh newsletter know that both contain far more factual information and in-depth analysis than in the programs or writings of pundits with more of a ponderous tone or intellectual airs.
If it wasn't for articulate conservatives like Ann Coulter, both the Republican Party and the country would be in even worse shape than they are now, for there are extremely few articulate Republican politicians who can make the case for any principle.
No segment of the population has lost more by the agendas of the liberal constituencies of the Democratic Party than the black population.
The teachers' unions, environmental fanatics and the ACLU are just some of the groups to whose interests blacks have been sacrificed wholesale. Lousy education and high crime rates in the ghettos, and unaffordable housing elsewhere with building restrictions, are devastating prices to pay for liberalism.
Yet the Republicans have never articulated that argument, and their opportunism in trying to get black votes by becoming imitation Democrats has failed miserably for decades on end.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Ex-officer alleges prez used 'contrivance, concealment, dissembling
An ex-military officer has raised the stakes in the ongoing dispute
over Barack Obama's eligibility to be president, filing a criminal
complaint against the "imposter" with the U.S. attorney's office for
the Eastern District of Tennessee.
Retired U.S. Navy officer Walter Francis Fitzpatrick III, who has run
a campaign for two decades to uncover and try to correct what he
believes are criminal activities within the military, accused the
president of "treason."
In his complaint addressed to Obama via U.S Attorney Russell Dedrick
and Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Schmutzer, Eastern District,
Tennessee, Fitzpatrick wrote: "I have observed and extensively
recorded invidious attacks by military-political aristocrats against
the Constitution for twenty years."
"Now you have broken in and entered the White House by force of
contrivance, concealment, conceit, dissembling, and deceit. Posing as
an impostor president and commander in chief you have stripped
civilian command and control over the military establishment."
He cited the deployment of "U.S. Army active duty combat troops into
the small civilian community of Samson, Ala.," and said, "We come now
to this reckoning. I accuse you and your military-political criminal
assistants of TREASON. I name you and your military criminal
associates as traitors. Your criminal ascension manifests a clear and
present danger. You fundamentally changed our form of government. The
Constitution no longer works."
"I identify you as a foreign born domestic enemy," he wrote.
September 03, 2008
This just surfaced, rather innocently, as a matter of fact.Legendary civil rights lawyer, Percy Sutton, 87 yrs old, was being interviewed and just innocently admitted that years ago, Dr. Khalid Abdullah Tariq Al-Mansour called him and asked him to use his (Percy’s) connections at Harvard to help Barack Obama get him intolaw school.
Now the question is who is this gentleman?
Turns out, “his business and professional interests includeco-founding the International Law Firm of Al-Waleed, Al-Talal &Al-Mansour, representing the O.P.E.C. interest of the famous Los Angeles trial, I.M.A.W.C. vs. O.P.E.C., according to African Venture partners Here is Percy Sutton, Esq. on Inside City Hall: speaking thetruth, but revealing yet another little skeleton about Barack Obama:
So, know we know why he doesn’t want offshore drilling
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Obama defends tax plan on charitable giving
Mar 24 08:52 PM US/Eastern
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is defending a budget idea that would reduce the tax deduction that wealthier families can take when they make charitable donations.
Obama says the plan is "the right thing to do."
Speaking at a prime-time news conference, the president said the change in tax policy would be realistic and fairer to lower-earning families that make charitable gifts but get a smaller tax deduction. Some lawmakers don't like the idea. They say it could hurt donations to needy groups in a time of need.
Obama says the provision would affect only about 1 percent of the American people, and they would still get a tax deduction, just not as big as they used to get.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Republican, served two-terms marked by enormous economic growth, a strong military that thwarted Russian efforts to spread Communism and unprecedented improvements in racial equality.
John F. Kennedy, Democrat, while not chasing Marilyn Monroe around the White House, managed to bungle the Bay of Pigs invasion and struggled through the Cuban missile crisis.
Lyndon B. Johnson, Democrat, used an imaginary incident in the Tonkin Gulf to escalate our involvement in the Vietnam War, enlarged government and entitlement programs and began the "Great Society," better known as Socialism 101.
Richard M. Nixon, Republican, ended the Vietnam War perhaps as best as it could be done, normalized relations with China, achieved detente with Russia and instituted enhanced revenue sharing from the federal government to states and municipalities. Unfortunately, he resigned over reasons much less criminal than at least one of his successors.
Gerald Ford, Republican, was instrumental in getting the Education for all Handicapped Children Act of 1975 passed, used income tax rebates to boost the 1975 economy and refused to bail out New York City when it faced bankruptcy.
Jimmy Carter, Democrat, introduced our economy to interest rates exceeding 20 percent, failed to gain release of U.S. Embassy employees held hostage in Iran, and gave away the Panama Canal.
Ronald Reagan, Republican, restored "the great confident roar of American progress, growth and optimism," obtained legislation to stimulate economic growth, curb inflation, increase employment and strengthen national defense, cut taxes and government expenditures, bombed Libya when Libyans were involved in killing American soldiers in West Berlin. His policy was "Peace through strength."
George H. W. Bush, Republican, overthrew Gen. Noriega in Panama, drove Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait and witnessed the break-up of the Soviet Union.
William J. Clinton, Democrat, failed to report when notified by the Draft Board and was the first felon to be elected president, was impeached in 1998 for having a liaison with a White House intern, gave "most favored nation trading status" to China and sold them computer technology which aided their intercontinental ballistic missile capability. He drastically reduced U.S. military strength. He and his attorney general Janet Reno killed Americans in Waco, Texas, causing Timothy McVay to blow up a federal building in Oklahoma.
George W. Bush, Republican, prevented more terrorist attacks in our country, supported a comprehensive energy plan involving all types of innovation and exploration, instituted tax cuts, achieved victory for the Iraqi people by overthrowing Saddam Hussein and re-strengthened our military.
Now the platforms of the two parties:
Republicans favor small government; lower taxes; less government involvement; love the Second Amendment; favor right-to-work laws; believe in individual responsibility and personal achievement; want a strong military, believe people should be able to keep most of what they earn; believe marriage is between a man and a woman; want government to be responsible to the people and believe people know what is best for themselves.
Democrats favor big government; higher taxes; more involvement in our lives; think government should get the bulk of what every citizen earns; believe anyone ought to be able to marry; believe people should have little or no voice in the governing process; and believe that government knows what is best for the people.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
$125,000 from Fannie and Freddie
$101,332 from AIG
Obama Received a $101,332 Bonus from AIG
March 17, 2009
Senator Barack Obama received a $101,332 bonus from American International Group in the form of political contributions according to Opensecrets.org. The two biggest Congressional recipients of bonuses from the A.I.G. are - Senators Chris Dodd and Senator Barack Obama.
The A.I.G. Financial Products affiliate of A.I.G. gave out $136,928, the most of any AIG affiliate, in the 2008 cycle. I would note that A.I.G.’s financial products division is the unit that wrote trillions of dollars’ worth of credit-default swaps and "misjudged" the risk.
The Washington Post reports a "mob effect" at A.I.G financial products division:
A tidal wave of public outrage over bonus payments swamped American International Group yesterday. Hired guards stood watch outside the suburban Connecticut offices of AIG Financial Products, the division whose exotic derivatives brought the insurance giant to the brink of collapse last year. Inside, death threats and angry letters flooded e-mail inboxes. Irate callers lit up the phone lines. Senior managers submitted their resignations. Some employees didn't show up at all.
With the anger and rage that is being exhibited against A.I.G., perhaps the bonuses Obama received from A.I.G. explain Obama's A.I.G crocodile tears.
Now that the Wall street Journal has revealed that A.I.G. paid bonuses of $1 million or more to 73 employees, it's time to ask if recipients of A.I.G. "bonuses," including President Obama, will give what now ought to be taxpayer money back?
Sept. 22, 2008 (Bloomberg)
"But we now know that many of the senators who protected Fannie and Freddie, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Christopher Dodd, have received mind-boggling levels of financial support from them over the years."
"Throughout his political career, Obama has gotten more than $125,000 in campaign contributions from employees and political action committees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, second only to Dodd, the Senate Banking Committee chairman, who received more than $165,000."
"Clinton, the 12th-ranked recipient of Fannie and Freddie PAC and employee contributions, has received more than $75,000 from the two enterprises and their employees. The private profit found its way back to the senators who killed the fix."
"Senator John McCain was one of the three cosponsors of S.190, the bill that would have averted this mess."
Sunday, March 15, 2009
In fall 1988 she was one of a select group of intellectuals who were featured in Bill Moyer's television series, "A World of Ideas." The transcript of her conversation with Moyers has been published in his book, A World of Ideas. Dr. Wortham is author of The Other Side of Racism: A Philosophical Study of Black Race Consciousness which analyzes how race consciousness is transformed into political strategies and policy issues.
She has published numerous articles on the implications of individual rights for civil rights policy, and is currently writing a book on theories of social and cultural marginality. Recently, she has published articles on the significance of multiculturalism and Afrocentricism in education, the politics of victimization and the social and political impact of political correctness. Shortly after an interview in 2004 she was awarded tenure.
This article by her is something else: "Mr Obama was voted into office with 52% of voter's made up of Black's who thought a black president would be a triumph, and even more white voter's, many of who have a malady called "white guilt". It is apparent that we have now put ourselves on the road to European Socialism."
No He Can't
by Anne Wortham
Please know: I am black; I grew up in the segregated South. I did not vote for Barack Obama; I wrote in Ron Paul's name as my choice for president. Most importantly, I am not race conscious. I do not require a black president to know that I am a person of worth, and that life is worth living. I do not require a black president to love the ideal of America ..
I cannot join you in your celebration. I feel no elation. There is no smile on my face. I am not jumping with joy. There are no tears of triumph in my eyes. For such emotions and behavior to come from me, I would have to deny all that I know about the requirements of human flourishing and survival – all that I know about the history of the United States of America , all that I know about American race relations, and all that I know about Barack Obama as a politician.
I would have to deny the nature of the "change" that Obama asserts has come to America ..
Most importantly, I would have to abnegate my certain understanding that you have chosen to sprint down the road to serfdom that we have been on for over a century.
I would have to pretend that individual liberty has no value for the success of a human life. I would have to evade your rejection of the slender reed of capitalism on which your success and mine depend. I would have to think it somehow rational that 94 percent of the 12 million blacks in this country voted for a man because he looks like them (that blacks are permitted to play the race card), and that they were joined by self-declared "progressive" whites who voted for him because he doesn't look like them.
I would have to wipe my mind clean of all that I know about the kind of people who have advised and taught Barack Obama and will fill posts in his administration – political intellectuals like my former colleagues at the Harvard University 's Kennedy School of Government.
I would have to believe that "fairness" is the equivalent of justice. I would have to believe that man who asks me to "go forward in a new spirit of service, in a new service of sacrifice" is speaking in my interest. I would have to accept the premise of a man that economic prosperity comes from the "bottom up," and who arrogantly believes that he can will it into existence by the use of government force. I would have to admire a man who thinks the standard of living of the masses can be improved by destroying the most productive and the generators of wealth.
Finally, Americans, I would have to erase from my consciousness the scene of 125,000 screaming, crying, cheering people in Grant Park, Chicago irrationally chanting "Yes We Can!" Finally, I would have to wipe all memory of all the times I have heard politicians, pundits, journalists, editorialists, bloggers and intellectuals declare that capitalism is dead – and no one, including especially Alan Greenspan, objected to their assumption that the particular version of the anti-capitalistic mentality that they want to replace with their own version of anti-capitalism is anything remotely equivalent to capitalism.
So you have made history, Americans. You and your children have elected a black man to the office of the president of the United States , the wounded giant of the world. The battle between John Wayne and Jane Fonda is over – and that Fonda won. Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern must be very happy men. Jimmie Carter, too. And the Kennedys have at last gotten their Kennedy look-a-like.
The self-righteous welfare statists in the suburbs can feel warm moments of satisfaction for having elected a black person. So, toast yourselves: 60s countercultural radicals, 80s yuppies and 90s bourgeois bohemians. Toast yourselves, Black America. Shout your glee Harvard, Princeton , Yale, Duke, Stanford, and Berkeley. You have elected not an individual who is qualified to be president, but a black man who, like the pragmatist Franklin Roosevelt, promises to – Do Something! You now have someone who has picked up the baton of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society.
But you have also foolishly traded your freedom and mine – what little there is left – for the chance to feel good. There is nothing in me that can share your happy obliviousness.
No He Can't
Friday, March 13, 2009
MARCH 13, 2009
Obama's Poll Numbers Are Falling to Earth
By DOUGLAS E. SCHOEN and SCOTT RASMUSSEN
It is simply wrong for commentators to continue to focus on President Barack Obama's high levels of popularity, and to conclude that these are indicative of high levels of public confidence in the work of his administration. Indeed, a detailed look at recent survey data shows that the opposite is most likely true. The American people are coming to express increasingly significant doubts about his initiatives, and most likely support a different agenda and different policies from those that the Obama administration has advanced.
Polling data show that Mr. Obama's approval rating is dropping and is below where George W. Bush was in an analogous period in 2001. Rasmussen Reports data shows that Mr. Obama's net presidential approval rating -- which is calculated by subtracting the number who strongly disapprove from the number who strongly approve -- is just six, his lowest rating to date.
M.E. CohenOverall, Rasmussen Reports shows a 56%-43% approval, with a third strongly disapproving of the president's performance. This is a substantial degree of polarization so early in the administration. Mr. Obama has lost virtually all of his Republican support and a good part of his Independent support, and the trend is decidedly negative.
A detailed examination of presidential popularity after 50 days on the job similarly demonstrates a substantial drop in presidential approval relative to other elected presidents in the 20th and 21st centuries. The reason for this decline most likely has to do with doubts about the administration's policies and their impact on peoples' lives.
There is also a clear sense in the polling that taxes will increase for all Americans because of the stimulus, notwithstanding what the president has said about taxes going down for 95% of Americans. Close to three-quarters expect that government spending will grow under this administration.
Recent Gallup data echo these concerns. That polling shows that there are deep-seated, underlying economic concerns. Eighty-three percent say they are worried that the steps Mr. Obama is taking to fix the economy may not work and the economy will get worse. Eighty-two percent say they are worried about the amount of money being added to the deficit. Seventy-eight percent are worried about inflation growing, and 69% say they are worried about the increasing role of the government in the U.S. economy.
When Gallup asked whether we should be spending more or less in the economic stimulus, by close to 3-to-1 margin voters said it is better to have spent less than to have spent more. When asked whether we are adding too much to the deficit or spending too little to improve the economy, by close to a 3-to-2 margin voters said that we are adding too much to the deficit.
Support for the stimulus package is dropping from narrow majority support to below that. There is no sense that the stimulus package itself will work quickly, and according to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, close to 60% said it would make only a marginal difference in the next two to four years. Rasmussen data shows that people now actually oppose Mr. Obama's budget, 46% to 41%. Three-quarters take this position because it will lead to too much spending. And by 2-to-1, voters reject House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's call for a second stimulus package.
While over two-thirds support the plan to help homeowners refinance their mortgage, a 48%-36% plurality said that it will unfairly benefit those who have been irresponsible, echoing Rick Santelli's call to arms on CNBC.
And although a narrow majority remains confident in Mr. Obama's goals and overall direction, 45% say they do not have confidence, a number that has been growing since the inauguration less than two months ago. With three-quarters saying that they expect the economy to get worse, it is hard to see these numbers improving substantially.
There is no real appetite for increasing taxes to pay for an expanded health-insurance program. Less than half would support such an idea, which is 17% less than the percentage that supported government health insurance when Bill Clinton first considered it in March of 1993.
While voters blame Republicans for the lack of bipartisanship in Washington, the fact is that they do not believe Mr. Obama has made any progress in improving the impulse towards cooperation between the two parties. Further, nearly half of voters say that politics in Washington will be more partisan over the next year.
Fifty-six percent of Americans oppose giving bankers any additional government money or any guarantees backed by the government. Two-thirds say Wall Street will benefit more than the average taxpayer from the new bank bailout plan. This represents a jump in opposition to the first plan passed last October. At that time, 45% opposed the bailout and 30% supported it. Now a solid majority opposes the bank bailout, and 20% think it was a good idea. A majority believes that Mr. Obama will not be able to cut the deficit in half by the end of his term.
Only less than a quarter of Americans believe that the federal government truly reflects the will of the people. Almost half disagree with the idea that no one can earn a living or live "an American life" without protection and empowerment by the government, while only one-third agree.
Despite the economic stimulus that Congress just passed and the budget and financial and mortgage bailouts that Congress is now debating, just 19% of voters believe that Congress has passed any significant legislation to improve their lives. While Congress's approval has increased, it still stands at only 18%. Over two-thirds of voters believe members of Congress are more interested in helping their own careers than in helping the American people. When it comes to the nation's economic issues, two-thirds of voters have more confidence in their own judgment than they do in the average member of Congress.
Finally, what probably accounts for a good measure of the confidence and support the Obama administration has enjoyed is the fact that they are not Republicans. Virtually all Americans, more than eight in 10, blame Republicans for the current economic woes, and the only two leaders with lower approval ratings than Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.
All of this is not just a subject for pollsters and analysts to debate. It shows fundamentally that public confidence in government remains low and is slipping. We face the possibility of substantial gridlock along with an absolute absence of public confidence that could come to mirror the lack of confidence in the American economy that the Dow and the S&P are currently showing.
Mr. Schoen, formerly a pollster for President Bill Clinton, is the author of "Declaring Independence: The Beginning of the End of the Two Party System" (Random House, 2008). Mr. Rasmussen is president of Rasmussen Reports, an independent national polling company.
Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
(Washington, D.C., March 6, 2009) -- From January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2008, Americans lost $6.9 trillion in wealth in the stock markets.
Just since Barack Obama was elected, Americans have lost some $3 trillion in wealth, reports Investors' Business Daily, as the markets have plummeted some 30%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, for example, has collapsed from 9,625.28 on November 4, 2008 to 6,647.49 on March 4, 2009.
Firesale prices are in effect - Citibank stocks are under $1 and General Motors shares are selling for less than $2 - as investors see major American financial and manufacturing behemoths on the brink of bankruptcy.
Zoom out a bit, and we see the situation even more dire. Since the market's highs in October 2007, the DJIA is down some 50%. That means over the last 18 months, we have seen half the nation's wealth vanish into thin air.
In the midst of all this, millions of Americans have lost their jobs. Small businesses are dying. Big businesses are dying. Credit is tight. Confidence is low. And people are anxious.
Obama, Geithner Get Low Grades From Economists
U.S. President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner received failing grades for their efforts to revive the economy from participants in the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey.
In striking contrast to President Obama's popularity with the public, a new Wall Street Journal survey of economists gives the president and his treasury secretary failing grades. WSJ's Phil Izzo and Kelly Evans discuss.
The economists' assessment stands in stark contrast with Mr. Obama's popularity with the public, with a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll giving him a 60% approval rating. A majority of the 49 economists polled said they were dissatisfied with the administration's economic policies.
On average, they gave the president a grade of 59 out of 100, and although there was a broad range of marks, 42% of respondents rated Mr. Obama below 60. Mr. Geithner received an average grade of 51. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke scored better, with an average 71.
The economists, many of whom have been continually surprised by the depth of the downturn, also pushed back yet again their forecasts for when a recovery would begin. On average, they expect the downturn to end in October. Last month, they said the bottom would arrive in August. They estimate that U.S. gross domestic product will continue to contract in the first half of this year, with slow growth returning in the third quarter.
South Carolinia Governor first to turn down Obama on Stimulus:
SC Governor: USA faces Zimbabwe-style economic collapse if it keeps spending...
S.C. governor evokes Zimbabwe in arguments against stimulus
- South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has vowed to refuse some of his state's share
- Sanford casts stimulus as exercise in printing money that doesn't exist to create jobs.
- The governor compares it to Zimbabwe's 11 million percent inflation rate
- State legislatures can override governors and take stimulus money anyway
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) -- The United States faces a Zimbabwe-style economic collapse if it keeps "spending a bunch of money we don't have," South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said Wednesday.
Sanford, a Republican, has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration's $800 billion stimulus plan. He said he'll turn down about a quarter of his state's $2.8 billion share unless Washington lets him use that money to pay down debt.
"What you're doing is buying into the notion that if we just print some more money that we don't have and send it to different states, we'll create jobs," he said. "If that's the case, why isn't Zimbabwe a rich place?"
Zimbabwe has been in the throes of an economic meltdown ever since the southern African nation embarked on a chaotic land reform program. Its official inflation rate topped 11 million percent in 2008, with its treasury printing banknotes in the trillion-dollar range to keep up with the plummeting value of its currency.
But with South Carolina's unemployment rate now the second-highest in the country, state lawmakers will attempt to override Sanford and take the $700 million if he turns it down, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer said.
"They will use the total economic stimulus to stimulate the economy, jump-start it, so we can get out of the ditch we are in as a state and as a nation," Bauer, a fellow Republican, said in a written statement Wednesday.
Labor Department figures released Wednesday showed South Carolina's January unemployment rate hit 10.4 percent, second only to Michigan's 11.6 percent.
Sanford is one of several Republican governors who have criticized the nearly $800 billion stimulus package, which passed with minimal GOP support in the Senate and none in the House of Representatives. Other governors, such as California Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger or Michigan Democrat Jennifer Granholm, have said they would take any money Republican-led states reject.
But Sanford told reporters that taking the money now would leave the state in the lurch in two years, "when those funds dry up."
"Fundamentally, if you boil down what the stimulus means for South Carolina, it means we would go through the process of spending a bunch of money we don't have," he said.
The stimulus measure allows state legislatures to override governors and take the money -- a provision championed by South Carolina congressman James Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House. Clyburn said Sanford is unlikely to get any waiver from the administration, and he called the governor's announcement "100 percent political posturing."
"This recovery package is designed to stabilize communities, to save and create jobs, and help our economy get back in a growth mode," he told reporters. "And you don't do that by paying down debt that's been incurred over a long period of time."
And Bauer said that if South Carolina turns down the money, "South Carolina taxpayers will be taking on the debt for economic stimulus money sent elsewhere."
Sanford has been called a potential GOP presidential contender in 2012, but he told CNN that the next election is "not where I'm focused."
"I don't rule anything in, I don't rule anything out," he said, adding, "If anything came along like that, it would be an incredibly long shot."
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Don't endanger free markets, Czech president warns
09 Mar 2009 22:10:54 GMT
By Claudia Parsons
NEW YORK, March 9 (Reuters) - Massive government spending and tighter regulation would prolong recession, Czech President Vaclav Klaus said on Monday, as he urged U.S. President Barack Obama not to endanger the free market economy in his response to the financial crisis.
In a speech at Columbia University in New York, Klaus, a former Czech prime minister who championed the free market after the fall of Communism 20 years ago, said he never expected to see such extensive government intervention again in his lifetime as he now sees around the world.
"I am therefore convinced that fighting for freedom and free markets, something we always appreciated here in this country (the United States), remains the task of the day," Klaus said.
One of the world's most vocal climate change skeptics, Klaus said he looked forward to working with Obama, who will attend an EU-U.S. summit in the Czech Republic in April on his first trip to Europe as U.S. president. The Czech Republic holds the EU presidency for the first half of 2009.
Klaus, whose position is largely ceremonial in the Czech political system, said he hoped Obama would show "an optimum mix of continuity and discontinuity" with the policies of his predecessor, George W. Bush.
"I hope it will include not endangering the basic institutions of the market economy," Klaus said, adding that his own country was resisting a trend towards massive government spending to stimulate growth.
He said Czech banks were so far relatively unscathed by the financial crisis because they followed very cautious policies in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis.
He cautioned against trying to solve economic problems by more government intervention.
"The best thing to do right now would be to temporarily weaken, if not repeal," business regulations on labor, the environment, social issues and health, he said.
Klaus, who has written a book expressing doubts that climate change is man-made, was in New York to attend a conference of climate-change skeptics and he reiterated his view that "global warming alarmism" is a major problem.
About 190 nations have agreed to work out a new U.N. climate treaty in December in Copenhagen to step up a fight against warming that the U.N. Climate Panel says will bring more heat waves, droughts, floods and rising seas.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Caracas - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday called upon US President Barack Obama to follow the path to socialism, which he termed as the "only" way out of the global recession. "Come with us, align yourself, come with us on the road to socialism. This is the only path. Imagine a socialist revolution in the United States," Chavez told a group of workers in the southern Venezuelan state of Bolivar.
The controversial Venezuelan leader, who taunted the United States as a source of capitalistic evil under former president George W Bush, added that the United States needs a leader who can take it to a "higher" destiny and bring it out of "the sad role that it has been given, as a murderous, attacking power that is hated all around the world."
Chavez said that people are calling Obama a "socialist" for the measures of state intervention he is taking to counter the crisis, so it would not be too far-fetched to suggest that he might join the project of "21st century socialism" that the Venezuelan leader is heading.
"Nothing is impossible. Who would have thought in the 1980s that the Soviet Union would disappear? No one," he said.
"That murderous, genocidal empire has to end, and some day there has to come a leader ... who interprets the best of a people who also include human beings who suffer, endure, weep and laugh," the outspoken Chavez said.
Friday, March 06, 2009
Obama realizes this but continues to use the economic crisis to his advantage. "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste," said Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. "This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before." Things? Now we know what they are. The markets' recent precipitous decline is a reaction not just to the absence of any plausible bank rescue plan, but also to the suspicion that Obama sees the continuing financial crisis as usefully creating the psychological conditions -- the sense of crisis bordering on fear-itself panic -- for enacting his "Big Bang" agenda to federalize and/or socialize health care, education and energy, the commanding heights of post-industrial society. THINGS he was not mandated to do.
March 06, 2009
Deception at Core of Obama Plans
By Charles Krauthammer
WASHINGTON -- Forget the pork. Forget the waste. Forget the 8,570 earmarks in a bill supported by a president who poses as the scourge of earmarks. Forget the "$2 trillion dollars in savings" that "we have already identified," $1.6 trillion of which President Obama's budget director later admits is the "savings" of not continuing the surge in Iraq until 2019 -- 11 years after George Bush ended it, and eight years after even Bush would have had us out of Iraq completely.
Forget all of this. This is run-of-the-mill budget trickery. True, Obama's tricks come festooned with strings of zeros tacked onto the end. But that's a matter of scale, not principle.
All presidents do that. But few undertake the kind of brazen deception at the heart of Obama's radically transformative economic plan, a rhetorical sleight of hand so smoothly offered that few noticed.
The logic of Obama's address to Congress went like this:
"Our economy did not fall into decline overnight," he averred. Indeed, it all began before the housing crisis. What did we do wrong? We are paying for past sins in three principal areas: energy, health care, and education -- importing too much oil and not finding new sources of energy (as in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf?), not reforming health care, and tolerating too many bad schools.
The "day of reckoning" has now arrived. And because "it is only by understanding how we arrived at this moment that we'll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament," Obama has come to redeem us with his far-seeing program of universal, heavily nationalized health care; a cap-and-trade tax on energy; and a major federalization of education with universal access to college as the goal.
Amazing. As an explanation of our current economic difficulties, this is total fantasy. As a cure for rapidly growing joblessness, a massive destruction of wealth, a deepening worldwide recession, this is perhaps the greatest non sequitur ever foisted upon the American people.
At the very center of our economic near-depression is a credit bubble, a housing collapse and a systemic failure of the entire banking system. One can come up with a host of causes: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pushed by Washington (and greed) into improvident loans, corrupted bond-ratings agencies, insufficient regulation of new and exotic debt instruments, the easy money policy of Alan Greenspan's Fed, irresponsible bankers pushing (and then unloading in packaged loan instruments) highly dubious mortgages, greedy house-flippers, deceitful homebuyers.
The list is long. But the list of causes of the collapse of the financial system does not include the absence of universal health care, let alone of computerized medical records. Nor the absence of an industry-killing cap-and-trade carbon levy. Nor the lack of college graduates. Indeed, one could perversely make the case that, if anything, the proliferation of overeducated, Gucci-wearing, smart-ass MBAs inventing ever more sophisticated and opaque mathematical models and debt instruments helped get us into this credit catastrophe in the first place.
And yet with our financial house on fire, Obama makes clear both in his speech and his budget that the essence of his presidency will be the transformation of health care, education and energy. Four months after winning the election, six weeks after his swearing in, Obama has yet to unveil a plan to deal with the banking crisis.
What's going on? "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste," said Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. "This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before."
Things. Now we know what they are. The markets' recent precipitous decline is a reaction not just to the absence of any plausible bank rescue plan, but also to the suspicion that Obama sees the continuing financial crisis as usefully creating the psychological conditions -- the sense of crisis bordering on fear-itself panic -- for enacting his "Big Bang" agenda to federalize and/or socialize health care, education and energy, the commanding heights of post-industrial society.
Clever politics, but intellectually dishonest to the core. Health, education and energy -- worthy and weighty as they may be -- are not the cause of our financial collapse. And they are not the cure. The fraudulent claim that they are both cause and cure is the rhetorical device by which an ambitious president intends to enact the most radical agenda of social transformation seen in our lifetime.
03.05.2009 11:45 am
Norma McCorvey & Kathleen Sebelius
By: Sherry Tyree
Special to the Post-Dispatch
Norma McCorvey, best known as “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, wrote a book a few years ago, Won by Love. I was sent the book — autographed, too – when I made a donation to a pro-life cause.
Norma, who went from being the poster girl for abortion to becoming an adamant and outspoken pro-life speaker, tells the step-by-step tale of her journey in this well written, funny — yes, funny — poignant and thoroughly human chronicle.
As the story begins, Norma is working at an abortion clinic when she discovers to her horror that Operation Rescue has rented space next door…..
I’ve been thinking about Norma lately because of President Obama’s choice of Kathleen Sebelius, the Kansas Governor who wants the Health and Human Services post that Tom Daschle carelessly lost over neglected taxes.
Evidently President Obama is gambling that Catholic Governor Sebelius’ problems – her political support of the killing of innocent, unborn human life — are no big deal.
A New York Times article nicely outlines what Governor Sebelius’ predicament is:
Abortion may prove a lightning rod in her confirmation. Ms. Sebelius, a Catholic, has repeatedly vetoed abortion regulations on legal or policy grounds. “Personally, I believe abortion is wrong,” she wrote in one veto message before explaining that she did not think the bill would reduce late-term abortions.
Ms. Sebelius has defended her record by pointing to adoption initiatives and falling abortion rates in Kansas, but the archbishop of Kansas City last year said she should not receive communion until repudiating her support for abortion rights.
Anti-abortion leaders also criticize her for hosting a reception at the governor’s mansion in 2007 attended by George Tiller, a prominent Wichita abortion provider. At the time, Dr. Tiller was under investigation and now is about to go on trial for 19 misdemeanor charges of violating state restrictions on late-term abortions, according to news reports.
After her possible nomination became public, the Catholic League called her an “enemy of the unborn” and promised to fight confirmation. “We have the specter of another pro-abortion Catholic stiffing the Catholic Church,” Bill Donohue, the league president, said in a statement. “This is setting up a confrontation that pro-life Catholics will not walk away from.”
This morning we learned that Kansas City, Kansas Archbishop Joseph Naumann (originally from St. Louis) has written a column for his archdiocesan newspaper that will appear in tomorrow’s edition; to read it, click here.
In time we will learn whether or not the Senate will confirm Sebelius (probably yes) and perhaps whether or not she will present herself for Holy Communion. If she does not, she will not be the first high profile Catholic politician to refrain.
The larger question is this: does Governor Sebelius understand what she defends? Does she understand the scandal? Has she ever bothered to spend a good deal of time in an abortion clinic?
She would do well to read Norma McCorvey’s book. One Amazon reviewer of Won by Love has this to say:
…..Unquestionably the plot’s most fantastic twist occurs after Operation Rescue–the civil disobedience prolife group–moved in next door to the abortion clinic where Norma was working.
Despite opposite goals, Norma amazingly formed friendships with several Rescue staff members and one in particular who grew so trusting of the infamous foe that she actually let her eight year old daughter play under Jane Rose’s tutelage inside the clinic.
Were this book a work of fiction, most readers would slam it down in disgust at the farfetched contrivance in that chapter, but as the cliche goes, “truth is stranger…”
Obviously Norma’s story would be inchoate without a portion devoted to the horrors of the abortion trade, and from her days as an insider she possesses an armamentarium that far surpasses most right-to-life advocates.
She makes little effort to conceal her disdain for her clinic’s smarmy, avaricious abortionist–whom she never identifies beyond “Arnie,” and reveals an industry secret “that a disproportionate number of abortion doctors are actually from other countries–foreigners who perceive that our lax abortion laws create a tremendous moneymaking opportunity.”
Her contempt for this physician who was always barefoot in the office seems appropriate when she discusses how as his wife battled breast cancer, he moved a mistress into their home.
While he is the only abortionist profiled in the book, Norma’s implications are clear.
Referring to the reality of the work in an abortion clinic, Norma admits that on-the-job cocaine usage was commonplace among most workers (and honestly admits to frequent abuse of the drug herself) “drugs became a major tool to keep the peace; drugs got us through the day.”
Even abortion proponents should be outraged when she explains political pressure has resulted in a situation where “veterinary clinics have stricter regulations than abortion clinics…..”
Norma’s stories about abortion clinics and sordid abortionists are not unique. Tales about sleazy staff and practices abound.
What is unique is that this is Jane Roe talking.
Won by Love: a highly recommeded book for Kathleen Sebelius…and you.
Could St. Louis lose its Catholic hospitals under new federal abortion legislation?
By Tim Townsend
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Friday, Mar. 06 2009
A proposed bill promising major changes in the U.S. abortion landscape has
Roman Catholic bishops threatening to close Catholic hospitals if the
Democratic Congress and White House make it law.
The Freedom of Choice Act failed to get out of subcommittee in 2004, but its
sponsor is poised to refile it now that former Senate co-sponsor Barack Obama
occupies the Oval Office.
A spokesman for Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the legislation "is among the
congressman's priorities. We expect to reintroduce it sooner rather than later."
FOCA, as the bill is known, would make federal law out of the abortion
protections established in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade
The legislation has some Roman Catholic bishops threatening to shutter the
country's 624 Catholic hospitals — including 11 in the Archdiocese of St. Louis
— rather than comply.
Speaking in Baltimore in November at the bishops' fall meeting, Bishop Thomas
Paprocki, a Chicago auxiliary bishop, took up the issue of what to do with
Catholic hospitals if FOCA became law. "It would not be sufficient to withdraw
our sponsorship or to sell them to someone who would perform abortions," he
said. "That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil."
But even within the Catholic community, there is disagreement about the effects
FOCA might have on hospitals, with some health care professionals and bishops
saying a strategy of ignoring the law, if it passes, would be more effective
than closing hospitals.
Ilan Kayatsky, Nadler's spokesman, said he anticipates that the bill's other
original sponsor, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., will introduce FOCA in the U.S.
Senate. "We expect it to be more or less the same bill with some minor tweaks,"
Boxer's office declined to comment.
Rep. William Lacy Clay, a Roman Catholic, and Rep. Russ Carnahan — both St.
Louis Democrats — were co-sponsors of the legislation. Neither responded to
requests for an interview. Bishop Robert Hermann, acting head of the
Archdiocese of St. Louis, was unavailable for comment.
In its last incarnation, FOCA defined abortion as a "fundamental right" that no
government can "deny" or "interfere with." That language, FOCA's opponents
warn, would help overturn abortion restrictions such as parental notification (for minors), laws banning certain procedures (Partical Birth Abortion http://www.nrlc.org/abortion/pba/PBA_Images/PBA_Images_Heathers_Place.htm) and constraints on federal funding (forcing taxpayers even those that morally oppose abortion to pay for them).
Some abortion rights groups say a friendlier Congress and White House makes
FOCA less of a priority for them, and they say religious conservatives who
oppose abortion rights are using FOCA as a scare tactic.
"Anti-choice groups know that there are not enough votes to move the Freedom of
Choice Act, yet they continue to engage in a divisive campaign demonizing FOCA
to distract the public from their opposition to birth control and accurate sex
education," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
The nation's Catholic bishops have been among the most vocal opponents of FOCA
and Obama's abortion-rights positions. In the days before the November
elections, one called Obama "the most committed" abortion-rights supporter to
head a presidential ticket since Roe. Obama had promised during his campaign he
would sign FOCA if he were elected.
Along with the 11 Catholic hospitals within the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the
Catholic Health Association of the United States says there are another seven
in the St. Louis area within the borders of the Belleville and Springfield,
According to the CHA, Catholic hospitals make up 13 percent of the country's
nearly 5,000 hospitals, and employ more than 600,000 people. CHA says one of every six Americans hospitalized in the United States is cared for in a Catholic hospital.
Not all bishops or Catholic health care professionals see closing down
hospitals as a realistic option. Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., a
member of CHA's board of trustees, wrote on his blog last month that "even in
the worst-case scenario, Catholic hospitals will not close. We will not comply,
but we will not close." Instead, he advocated a strategy of "civil
Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of CHA, said in an interview that she
did not believe the language in the most recent version of FOCA — despite its
definition of abortion as a fundamental right — would force Catholic hospitals
to perform abortions. But she also said that if it did, the church would look
to the historical example of racial segregation as a model for civil
"From the other side we hear consistent talk about being pro-choice," Keehan
said. "If FOCA passes, the concept of being pro-choice will not be incompatible
with our position — our choice would be not to participate."
Seven of the 11 hospitals in the Archdiocese of St. Louis are run by SSM
Healthcare. In a statement, the company said it opposes FOCA "because it
attempts to increase access to abortion and remove restrictions to abortion."
If FOCA were to become law, it continued, "We do not believe our Catholic
hospitals would be forced to participate and we would advocate strongly for our
right of conscience to refuse to provide abortion services."
While the Catholic Church has been most vocal on the FOCA issue, it's not
alone. As Obama prepared to take the oath of office in January, the National
Right to Life Committee warned its members that congressional Democrats were
poised to work with the new president "to push an expansive pro-abortion
"The pro-life movement," the organization declared in its monthly newspaper,
"is bracing for battle."
Pam Fichter, president of Missouri Right to Life, called FOCA "a top priority"
for her group, which is working to pass a resolution in both houses of the
Missouri Legislature that urges Congress to reject FOCA. The resolution has
passed the Missouri House and is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate, and
Missouri Right to Life is holding its Pro-Life Action Day in Jefferson City on
FOCA opponents have been discouraged by two moves made by Obama's
administration in recent weeks. In January, the administration repealed a Bush
policy that restricted federal dollars for international groups that perform or
promote abortion overseas.
And this week, Obama nominated Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to head the
Department of Health and Human Services. Sebelius is a Roman Catholic who has
been chastised by Kansas City, Kan., Archbishop Joseph Naumann for her
positions supporting abortion rights. Naumann called Sebelius' nomination this
After Sebelius' nomination, HHS hinted that it would soon repeal another Bush
administration rule — enacted in December — that allowed health care
professionals to opt out of providing abortion or birth control procedures on
In order to combat what its sees as inevitable, the Catholic Church launched a
"Fight FOCA" postcard campaign aimed at Congress in January. Rep. Blaine
Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., who participated in an anti-FOCA rally last month at St.
Anthony's Catholic School in Sullivan, said he has received "thousands" of
postcards over the last month including "a stack 2 feet high" Wednesday.
"People have worked 30-some years to protect the rights of the unborn and FOCA
would undo many of their efforts," Luetkemeyer said.
Keehan said shutting down Catholic hospitals would tear the fabric of the
American health care system.
"Catholic health care plays such an important role in communities across this
nation," she said, that Americans are "not going to sacrifice their health care
facility, which employs so many, cares for so many, and has been part of their
community for many years by forcing them to do abortions."
Freedom of Choice Act
This is language excerpted from the bill introduced in the 110th Congress, which died in subcommittee. Its sponsor says he will refile the bill this session.
— (a) Statement of Policy — It is the policy of the United States that every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a child, to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability or to terminate a pregnancy after fetal viability when necessary to protect the life or health of the woman.
— (b) Prohibition of Interference — A government may not deny or interfere with a woman's right to choose to bear a child; terminate a pregnancy prior to viability; or terminate a pregnancy after viability where termination is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman.
— (c) Civil Action — An individual aggrieved by a violation of this section may obtain appropriate relief (including relief against a government) in a civil action.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Some Senate Democrats shun huge spending bill
WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Democratic leaders are working hard to suppress dissent within their party over boosting agency spending by 8 percent as the government runs whopping deficits and constituents are forced to scrimp on their own budgets.
A close vote is expected late this week to advance the sweeping spending bill, which wraps together the budgets for 12 Cabinet departments and other agencies, to President Barack Obama. The White House promises to sign it despite over the 8,000 or so homestate pet projects (pork barrel spending) it contains.
Democrats and their allies control 58 seats in the Senate, but 60 votes will be needed to close debate and free the measure for Obama's desk.
A few Democrats are voicing opposition to the bill, however, unhappy with its cost and changes to U.S. policy toward Cuba.
Most significantly, Democrats Evan Bayh (one of the Democrats considered for Vice President) of Indiana and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin announced Wednesday that they will vote against the bill. Both urged Obama to veto it.
"There's just a disconnect between what people are having to go through in their daily lives - tightening their belts, economizing where they can - and what they see the government is doing," Bayh said in an interview. "I just think it's tone deaf and, substantively, we do need to get the deficit under control."
"I just don't know whether we have enough votes to stop it," said Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., the No. 3 GOP leader in the Senate.
The measure contains budget increases, on average, of 8 percent for the domestic agencies it covers, far more than they received under the Bush administration. But moderates such as Bayh are unhappy with the additional spending, especially after many agencies received huge infusions of money under the just-enacted economic recovery bill.
At the same time, Democratic Sens. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Bill Nelson of Florida are weighing whether to oppose the legislation over a provision buried in it that would moderate rules on travel to Cuba and would make it easier for Cuba to pay for imports of food and medicine.
Democratic leaders hope to clear the bill - it passed the House last week - to meet a Friday deadline. That's when a stopgap funding law that keeps the government going, mostly at 2008 levels, runs out.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is also trying to keep the bill free of floor amendments that would force the measure into negotiations with the House that would delay enactment or kill the measure altogether.
But that means Democrats will have to cast some politically difficult votes. One of the most uncomfortable was expected Wednesday afternoon on an amendment by Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to kill 13 so-called "earmarks" requested by lawmakers for projects sought by PMA Group, a lobbying company at the center of a federal corruption investigation.
The PMA Group, which recently folded, had a reputation for funneling campaign money to lawmakers that obtained earmarks for its clients and is under investigation by the Justice Department over whether the company reimbursed some employees for campaign contributions to members of Congress who requested the projects.
On Cuba, Menendez is upset by a provision that would restore travel rules permitting people to visit relatives in Cuba once every 12 months. President George W. Bush imposed rules in 2004 that limited travel to just two weeks every three years and confined visits to immediate family members.
The omnibus bill also would lift restrictions on financing imports of U.S. food and medicine into Cuba and effectively reverse Bush administration rules requiring "cash-in-advance" payment.
"If the omnibus bill is signed by the president as is, he will be extending a hand while the Castro regime maintains its iron-handed clenched fist," Menendez said Monday.
The bill is HR 1105.
Obama tax hike meets Democratic resistance
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama's proposal to limit itemized tax deductions for high earners is running into opposition from key Democrats in Congress who worry that charities and the housing market would be hurt.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus questioned Wednesday whether the proposal was viable, a day after his House counterpart also expressed reservations.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said tax increases on families making more than $250,000 a year are necessary to make a down payment on health care reform and to limit future budget deficits. But, he said, he was willing to work with lawmakers on proposals they objected to.
"We recognize there are other ways to do this," Geithner told the Finance Committee.
Baucus, a Montana Democrat, said he thought the administration would be flexible on the proposal. "They want health care reform as much as I do," he told reporters.
Geithner and White House budget director Peter Orszag returned to Capitol Hill on Wednesday for a second day of hearings on Obama's $3.6 trillion tax and spending proposal. Both faced tough questions about the tax package.
Obama's budget calls for setting aside $634 billion over the next 10 years as a down payment on health care reform. Half the money would come from tax increases on upper-income earners; the other half from cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
Obama's budget calls for two tax increases on couples making more than $250,000 and individuals making more than $200,000. He wants to increase the top tax rates from 35 percent to 39.6 percent (a government that takes away 40% of what someone makes???!!! OUCH!!!) by allowing a tax cut enacted under President George W. Bush to expire in 2011.
He also wants to limit the deductions those families can claim for charitable donations, mortgage interest and state and local taxes. (so we are to discourage giving money to charities and state and local taxes don't count to the feds anymore, but they want the wealthy to instead give the money to them?!)
Without the new limits, a taxpayer in the proposed 39.6 percent tax bracket could save $396 in taxes from a $1,000 reduction in taxable income. Obama wants to limit deductions to the 28 percent bracket, starting in 2011, meaning the same taxpayer would save only $280.
The higher tax rates are a good bet to become law because Obama campaigned on the change and Congress would not have to do anything to enact them. Once the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2010, the higher rates would take effect.
But some key Democrats are wary of limiting deductions.
"I don't want to prejudge anything, but it is certainly one that I am having difficulties with," said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.
On Tuesday, Rep. Charles Rangel, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said he, too, had reservations about the proposal.
"I would never want to adversely affect anything that is charitable or good," the New York Democrat said.
Republicans have been even more critical of the proposal, saying it would reduce charitable donations at a time when many charities are struggling.
"There are people with the means to help. Why would you make it harder for them to do it?" said Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.
Geithner said the change would merely restore the same deduction limits that were in place when President Ronald Reagan left office.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Posted By Bobby Eberle On March 4, 2009 at 7:45 am
President Obama simply does not get it. Rather than put forward a plan that puts Americans back to work by letting Americans choose how to best stimulate the economy -- i.e., across the board tax cuts -- he believes government should be in control. The Obama plan is to inject government into more aspects of our lives and have a select few people -- the rich -- pay for it. Question, if the people who actually hire workers are forced to pay even higher taxes, do you really think they will hire as many workers?
Obama's latest comments regarding the stock market are further proof that he is either out of touch with American society or he is purposely leading us down a path to socialism. His flippant comparison of the stock market to a public opinion poll shows how little he connects with hard-working Americans. As families' retirement savings are going up in smoke, Obama is dismissing the Dow as irrelevant. Ok, let's just say the Dow is like an opinion poll... then, I have a picture for you... a picture that is worth a thousand words...
On Tuesday, Obama proved that he was truly out of touch with the American people. In meetings with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Obama took the time to address the ongoing plunge in the stock market. Despite the fact that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is at its lowest level since 1997, Obama compared the "day-to-day gyration" as similar to a campaign tracking poll.
"What I'm looking at is not the day-to-day gyrations of the stock market, but the long-term ability for the United States and the entire world economy to regain its footing," Obama said.
"And, you know, the stock market is sort of like a tracking poll in politics. It bobs up and down day to day, and if you spend all your time worrying about that, then you're probably going to get the long-term strategy wrong."
In the Associated Press story on GOPUSA, Obama is quoted as saying that "profit and earning ratios are starting to get to the point where buying stocks is a potentially good deal if you've got a long-term perspective on it."
Long term perspective? What about all the people who have had a long term perspective? You know... it's called "retirement planning." Every time Obama opens his mouth to force more government on us, the retirement savings (mostly held in stocks) goes down the toilet.
Just look at the picture above. If you click on the image, a nice, printable PDF version appears.
When Obama was not even president but decided to go lobby Congress for big government spending, what happened? The stock market headed south. When the massive stimulus bill passed Congress, what happened? The stock market headed south. Oh, and then Obama announces even more billions for his mortgage bailout plan. What happened then? That's right... the market keeps heading in the same direction!
And Obama calls this "day-to-day gyrations?" Doesn't an object have to move both up and down to be considered to be gyrating? If this is an opinion poll, I'd hate to be the person that it's tracking.
And Obama wants to turn this economy around by increasing taxes on the very people who already pay most of the taxes. Turn the economy around? How about turning it on its ear. With the Bush tax cuts, all rates were dropped. Millions were removed from the income tax rolls altogether. But Democrats, such as Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) have the nerve to say that changing the top bracket is "making the tax code more fair." Taxing anyone in this country 35% of their income is NOT fair. It should be illegal. Moving that number to nearly 40% is simply un-American. But that is what Obama and his team are selling, and they are using class warfare to sell it.
It's amazing that Obama will bad-mouth those who have worked hard to achieve the American dream and yet expect to use them to pay for all his programs. We are all supposed to strive to do better. But Obama wants to punish that success. If taxes were cut for all Americans, just think of the huge amount of cash that would be injected into the system.
Obama and the liberal Democrats need to have more faith in the American people. I believe we can achieve anything, if allowed to try. But, I don't want to pay for someone else's mistake or some program that represents how liberals think Americans should live. If Obama had more faith in the American dream and the American spirit, I think we'd see that graph turn in a different direction.