My new book - Dumbing Down the Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Judges Off the Bench, You can click on the above picture to be linked to Amazon.
Welcome! Follow me on twitter at @johnrlottjr . Please e-mail questions to email@example.com.
Obama's class warfare rhetoric on Jet tax breaks as hot air?
Why does President Obama make such a big deal about something that would raise at most $3 billion over 10 years? I say at most because these are based on a static analysis that assumes people won't get fewer jets as the tax rate rises. Yet, Obama makes six mentions of this in his press conference.
President Barack Obama’s proposal to end a tax break for corporate jet owners, a repeated refrain in his news conference yesterday, would achieve less than one-tenth of 1 percent of his target for reducing the federal deficit. Such a change would put $3 billion into the Treasury over a decade, said two congressional aides familiar with the proposal. Democrats want to require companies that use jets for business purposes to write off the cost over seven years, instead of the five years allowed under current law, said a congressional aide and a White House aide. Airplanes used for charter or commercial flights already must be depreciated over seven years. Obama mentioned the corporate jet break six times, criticizing Republicans’ unwillingness to include tax increases in legislation to raise the federal debt ceiling. Republicans are pressing for spending cuts in the measure, which must be passed before Aug. 2, when the Treasury Department projects that the U.S. will no longer be able to meet its debt obligations. . . .
Democrats are very happy with the president's rhetoric. From the Hill Newspaper:
Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons said that for Obama, the rewards for going populist might outweigh the risks of another brushfire with business. “Democrats are happy,” Simmons, a principal at the Washington-based consulting firm The Raben Group, told The Hill in an interview. “People may argue with his tone, but I’m sure the president is frustrated,” Simmons continued. “The business community is frankly doing OK. It’s working people in this country who are really catching it. The stock market is up, the auto industry is coming back, but we haven’t seen job growth.” . . .
The issue here is really how short should the period for depreciation be. Jets get five years, and other assets get 7 years. The question should really be what assets depreciate faster than others, and I would guess that Congress was given testimony by experts that jets depreciated relatively fast.
Critics pointed out that Obama used to be in favor of similar credit. “Nine months ago, this president extolled the virtues of shortening depreciation schedules to stimulate jobs,” National Business Aviation Association President Ed Bolen said in a statement. “Now he seems to want to reverse course and push ahead with punitive treatment for general aviation, an industry that creates jobs, helps companies succeed and serves communities all around America.” It’s easy to see why Obama might see an advantage in targeting corporate jets, which conjure images of Wall Street billionaires at a time when the country still suffers from high unemployment. Obama has taken aim at the well heeled in the past, most notoriously when he called Wall Street executives “fat cats” — a statement that still stings in the financial world. . . .
Some politics might have sometimes been in the FDA approval process. A good example of that may have been with breast implants. But now there will be a new clear dimension: did they reject a drug because it really wasn't effective or because the FDA panel just didn't think that the drug was worth its cost? The latest prime example is: Avastin for the treatment of breast cancer. Cost-benefit calculations are always important, but let patients and insurance companies figure this out, not the government. This post by sometimes NY Times writer Jessica Wapner observes that financial considerations might have been involved in the panel's rejection of the drug, but doesn't really address whether the government cost concerns could lead to the rejection of drugs. From Human Events:
In a sign of things to come, members of the Food and Drug Administration’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee voted Wednesday to reject an appeal of its December 2010 recommendation that the FDA withdraw its sanction of Avastin for treatment of breast cancer.
The day before, in what now seems futile, advocates for the drug rallied at the FDA headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., with signs, chants and a folk singer.
Blocked by a team of Homeland Security police officers in combat uniforms, the nearly 100 pink-shirted protesters massed in front of the entrance to the agency's campus demanding it continue to approve Avastin for metastasized breast cancer. . . .
New Wyoming Concealed Handgun Law Goes Into Effect
The article in the Billings (MT) Gazette is a little strange since it fails to mention that concealed handgun permits are not required to carry a concealed handgun in 99.4 percent of Montana.
A law that allows Wyomingites to carry concealed weapons without permits goes into effect today. The new law, strongly supported by gun rights advocates, received the overwhelming endorsement of the Legislature last winter. Wyoming joins Alaska, Arizona and Vermont in allowing citizens to carry concealed handguns without undergoing background checks or firearms training. . . .
Obama administration keeps changing Union election rules hoping to change union vote outcomes
If you can't win the elections, change the rules. But not surprisingly it doesn't seem that Obama cares about playing fair.
The latest example is taking place largely out of sight -- at the National Mediation Board, a little known agency that oversees union elections for railroads and airlines. Late in 2010, flight attendants for the nonunion Delta and its unionized Northwest Airlines (acquired in a 2008 merger) voted thumbs down on joining the Association of Flight Attendants. The board -- where two of the three members are former top union officials -- reacted by investigating Delta for "interference" in the election, prompted by union claims that the company circulated too much literature. Another vote is likely to follow, even though this was the third time Delta (DAL, Fortune 500) flight attendants had rejected the union. And here's another twist: The union lost that November vote even after the NMB changed the rules -- in place since the 1930s -- to require that only a majority of those who vote, not a majority of the workplace, needs to sign off on unionization. "They voted under new rules that the unions asked for," Delta CEO Richard Anderson told Fortune via email. "They've done everything asked of them. And because they said no to union representation, their decisions aren't being respected; they're being held hostage." . . . Changing the rules is a strategy also deployed by the higher-profile National Labor Relations Board, where the President opted for a recess appointment of union lawyer Craig Becker after it became clear his confirmation would be blocked by Republicans (backed by alarmed business groups), along with a handful of Democrats. Last week, NLRB proposed sweeping new rules cutting the amount of time available to employers to make their case prior to a union vote -- an action the Chamber of Commerce rightly denounced as a "another not so cleverly disguised effort to restrict the ability of employers to express their views" during a union campaign. . . .
Juan Williams on Media Matters' vicious personal attacks on him
One might not always agree with Juan Williams, but he is undeniably a decent guy. To see these types of personal attacks to silence him is indeed "despicable." Juan Williams comments should be read in full, but here is a partial discussion.
Since they began work in 2004, however, the watchdog spirit of the group's founding has turned into an outright assault on its political opponents. That means they delight in attacking anyone with a conservative point of view on radio or TV. In fact, they have now announced they are engaged in a “war” against Fox News Channel and anyone who appears on their airwaves. They have also admitted to engaging in a despicable campaign to dig up dirt on Fox News executives and producers in an attempt to do personal damage to people who are guilty of offering the public political perspectives they find disagreeable.
That means they have targeted me. Yes, I am paid by Fox News to do political analysis. It is also true that on most issues I am left of center – what most on the far right call a liberal. And I go to political battle over ideas and policies by offering my views, hearing other viewpoints and often challenging conservative arguments on Fox.
Yet, apparently as part of their assault on Fox and its employees, Media Matters has targeted me for years for making what they smugly and fatuously call “false claims.” They cheered as I was fired from National Public Radio last October and praised NPR’s management for their courage. Their only complaint was that NPR did not also fire my friend and Fox News colleague Mara Liasson, at the same time. . . .
How Wisconsin's new labor law is saving lots of money
The new Wisconsin labor law is saving school districts lots of money and allowing them to create smaller class sizes at the same time. The savings include: teachers will pay in more for their health insurance and pensions, save money on having competition over health insurance, and new work rules. So much for the Democrat scare stories in Wisconsin.
The Kaukauna School District, in the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin near Appleton, has about 4,200 students and about 400 employees. It has struggled in recent times and this year faced a deficit of $400,000. But after the law went into effect, at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, school officials put in place new policies they estimate will turn that $400,000 deficit into a $1.5 million surplus. And it's all because of the very provisions that union leaders predicted would be disastrous.
In the past, teachers and other staff at Kaukauna were required to pay 10 percent of the cost of their health insurance coverage and none of their pension costs. Now, they'll pay 12.6 percent of the cost of their coverage (still well below rates in much of the private sector) and also contribute 5.8 percent of salary to their pensions. The changes will save the school board an estimated $1.2 million this year, according to board President Todd Arnoldussen.
Of course, Wisconsin unions had offered to make benefit concessions during the budget fight. Wouldn't Kaukauna's money problems have been solved if Walker had just accepted those concessions and not demanded cutbacks in collective bargaining powers? . . .
In the past, Kaukauna's agreement with the teachers union required the school district to purchase health insurance coverage from something called WEA Trust -- a company created by the Wisconsin teachers union. . . . This year, WEA Trust told Kaukauna that it would face a significant increase in premiums.
Now, the collective bargaining agreement is gone, and the school district is free to shop around for coverage. And all of a sudden, WEA Trust has changed its position. "With these changes, the schools could go out for bids, and lo and behold, WEA Trust said, 'We can match the lowest bid,'" says Republican state Rep. Jim Steineke, who represents the area and supports the Walker changes. At least for the moment, Kaukauna is staying with WEA Trust, but saving substantial amounts of money.
Then there are work rules. "In the collective bargaining agreement, high school teachers only had to teach five periods a day, out of seven," says Arnoldussen. "Now, they're going to teach six." In addition, the collective bargaining agreement specified that teachers had to be in the school 37 1/2 hours a week. Now, it will be 40 hours.
The changes mean Kaukauna can reduce the size of its classes -- from 31 students to 26 students in high school and from 26 students to 23 students in elementary school. In addition, there will be more teacher time for one-on-one sessions with troubled students. Those changes would not have been possible without the much-maligned changes in collective bargaining. . . .
One-hundred-forty-one people are paid more than a $100,000 per year in the Obama White House, according to the 2011 White House salary report released Friday. Another 201 people on the staff of 454 have compensation ranging from $50,000 to $100,000. That’s a jump from the final year of President George W. Bush’s administration when 130 people received more than $100,000, and 137 people were paid between $50,000 and $100,000. . . . In Bush’s 2008 White House salary report, the two lowest-paid of 447 staffers struggled home with $33,400 per year. Another 100 people paid less than $40,000, out of total payroll of $33,193,021. (GOP senator says Obama ‘phoning it in’) Obama’s White House is more generous with the taxpayer’s money. Not counting three unpaid employees, no one on Obama’s staff is paid less than $40,000. The two lowest-paid staffers take home $41,000.
WH claims "Stimulus" created up to 3.6 million jobs
The Stimulus created 3.6 million jobs? From when the Stimulus was adopted in February 2009 until May 2011, the economy lost 1.8 million jobs. From the beginning of the "recovery" in June 2009 until May 2011, the economy has gained just 550,000 jobs. 495,000 of those 550,000 jobs are "temporary help service" jobs. This administration claims seems like a pretty hard sell to me. As to the trajectory change argument, I have written pieces on how economic forecasters where more optimistic about the economy's prospects in early 2009 than they were afterwards or how things turned out. More on the claim here.
The article here in the Hill incorrectly lists the cost of the Stimulus at $787 billion, while the latest number is actually at $830 billion.
The report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers said the stimulus added 2.3 to 3.2 percent to gross domestic product in the first quarter relative to what it otherwise would have been.
The stimulus package also increased employment relative to what it otherwise would have been by between 2.4 and 3.6 million jobs, the report said. . . .
The report credits the stimulus with positively changing "the trajectory of the economy" starting in the third quarter of 2009 and continuing through the first quarter of 2011.
Apparently it is true. John Lennon was a Reagan fan? Amazing. From the Toronto Sun:
John Lennon was a closet Republican, who felt a little embarrassed by his former radicalism, at the time of his death - according to the tragic Beatles star's last personal assistant.
Fred Seaman worked alongside the music legend from 1979 to Lennon's death at the end of 1980 and he reveals the star was a Ronald Reagan fan who enjoyed arguing with left-wing radicals who reminded him of his former self.
In new documentary Beatles Stories, Seaman tells filmmaker Seth Swirsky Lennon wasn't the peace-loving militant fans thought he was while he was his assistant.
He says, "John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on (Democrat) Jimmy Carter.
"He'd met Reagan back, I think, in the 70s at some sporting event... Reagan was the guy who had ordered the National Guard, I believe, to go after the young (peace) demonstrators in Berkeley, so I think that John maybe forgot about that... He did express support for Reagan, which shocked me. . . .
CBO can't claim that Obamacare will reduce government costs
From the WSJ's Political Diary:
a new Congressional Budget Office report on the long-term trend in the federal budget finds that the costs of Medicare and Medicaid will drive federal spending and debt to all-time highs in coming decades. In one scenario, federal health-care spending doubles over the next 25 years, to 11% of GDP in 2035 from 5.6% this year. In another scenario, the debt eclipses 100% of GDP by 2021 and 190% of GDP by 2035. That's higher than where Greece is right now, and we see what the bond vigilantes are doing there.
What is conspicuously missing from this report is the magical windfall from the new health law. CBO reports that it is "using the same growth rates that would have been applied in the absence of the legislation." Now they tell us. Hence, Medicare alone is projected to nearly double over the next 25 years, from 3.7% of GDP to almost 7% by 2035.
CBO warns that ObamaCare's purported payment cuts to doctors and hospitals and the hoped-for reductions in the growth of the insurance subsidies would be "difficult to sustain over a long period." . . .
The founding fathers, said Lincoln, had opposed slavery. They adopted a Declaration of Independence that pronounced all men created equal. They enacted the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 banning slavery from the vast Northwest Territory. To be sure, many of the founders owned slaves. But they asserted their hostility to slavery in principle while tolerating it temporarily (as they hoped) in practice. That was why they did not mention the words "slave" or "slavery" in the Constitution, but referred only to "persons held to service." "Thus, the thing is hid away, in the constitution," said Lincoln, "just as an afflicted man hides away a wen or a cancer, which he dares not cut out at once, lest he bleed to death; with the promise, nevertheless, that the cutting may begin at the end of a given time." The first step was to prevent the spread of this cancer, which the fathers took with the Northwest Ordinance, the prohibition of the African slave trade in 1807, and the Missouri Compromise restriction of 1820. The second was to begin a process of gradual emancipation, which the generation of the fathers had accomplished in the states north of Maryland.
The argument of "Necessity" was the only argument they ever admitted in favor of slavery; and so far, and so far only as it carried them, did they ever go. They found the institution existing among us, which they could not help; and they cast blame upon the British King for having permitted its introduction. BEFORE the constitution, they prohibited its introduction into the north-western Territory---the only country we owned, then free from it. AT the framing and adoption of the constitution, they forbore to so much as mention the word "slave" or "slavery" in the whole instrument. In the provision for the recovery of fugitives, the slave is spoken of as a "PERSON HELD TO SERVICE OR LABOR." In that prohibiting the abolition of the African slave trade for twenty years, that trade is spoken of as "The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States NOW EXISTING, shall think proper to admit," &c. These are the only provisions alluding to slavery. Thus, the thing is hid away, in the constitution, just as an afflicted man hides away a wen or a cancer, which he dares not cut out at once, lest he bleed to death; with the promise, nevertheless, that the cutting may begin at the end of a given time. Less than this our fathers COULD not do; and NOW [MORE?] they WOULD not do. Necessity drove them so far, and farther, they would not go. But this is not all. The earliest Congress, under the constitution, took the same view of slavery. They hedged and hemmed it in to the narrowest limits of necessity.
In 1794, they prohibited an out-going slave-trade---that is, the taking of slaves FROM the United States to sell.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama often discussed his mother's struggle with cancer. Ann Dunham spent the months before her death in 1995, Obama said, fighting with insurance companies that sought to deny her the coverage she needed to pay for treatment. "I remember in the last month of her life, she wasn't thinking about how to get well, she wasn't thinking about coming to terms with her own mortality, she was thinking about whether or not insurance was going to cover the medical bills and whether our family would be bankrupt as a consequence," Obama said in September 2007. "She was in her hospital room looking at insurance forms because the insurance company said that maybe she had a pre-existing condition and maybe they wouldn't have to reimburse her for her medical bills," Obama added in January 2008. "The insurance companies were saying, 'Maybe there's a pre-existing condition and we don't have to pay your medical bills,' " Obama said in a debate with Republican opponent Sen. John McCain in October 2008. It was a simple and powerful story, one Obama would tell many more times as president during the national health care debate. . . . The news is in "A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mother," a generally admiring new biography written by former New York Times reporter Janny Scott. . . . But Scott, who had access to Dunham's correspondence from the time, reveals that Dunham unquestionably had health coverage. "Ann's compensation for her job in Jakarta had included health insurance, which covered most of the costs of her medical treatment," Scott writes. "Once she was back in Hawaii, the hospital billed her insurance company directly, leaving Ann to pay only the deductible and any uncovered expenses, which, she said, came to several hundred dollars a month." . . . Scott writes that Dunham, who wanted to be compensated for those costs as well as for her living expenses, "filed a separate claim under her employer's disability insurance policy." It was that claim, with the insurance company CIGNA, that was denied in August 1995 because, CIGNA investigators said, Dunham's condition was known before she was covered by the policy. Dunham protested the decision and, Scott writes, "informed CIGNA that she was turning over the case to 'my son and attorney, Barack Obama.' " CIGNA did not budge. . . .
Obama seems to have made many inaccurate claims about family members.
I have a long list of Obama's misstatements available here. So if people care about these misstatements, who is the flake?
An important but little noticed Supreme Court decision this month: BOND v. UNITED STATES
In an attempted murder case, Bond was tried on the grounds that she had violated a federal Act implementing a chemical weapons treaty ratified by the United States instead of trying her under state law. She brought a Tenth Amendment claim that the Federal action usurped state law. While the Supreme Court did not take a stand on the merits of Bond's challenge, the unanimous court said that it was surely within her rights to sue over this over this possible overreaching by the federal government.
Seasonally adjusted housing price index slipped by 0.1 percent last month
Washington DC dominates the numbers with the only area showing an increase in prices over the last year. The next best was LA, which showed only a 2.1 percent decline, and the worst was Minneapolis, which saw a 11.1 percent decline. From MSNBC:
The latest monthly read on home prices from the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home-price index, released Tuesday, was mixed at best. The index of prices in 20 cities was up 0.7 percent in April, the first increase since last July, but when adjusted for seasonal factors the index actually slipped 0.1 percent. . . .
Some regions remain mired in an ongoing price slide. While prices for middle and high-end homes have held up relatively well, house prices on the lower end of the market have been hit hardest. . . .
The numbers also tell the story of a very uneven recovery from one region to the next. Washington, D.C., for example, saw the biggest price increases, followed by San Francisco, Atlanta and Seattle. Prices have flattened out in Los Angeles and San Diego, but six other metro areas — Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami and Tampa — fell to the lowest levels in the nearly four years. Since the housing market collapsed in 2006, prices have fallen more than they did during the Great Depression. . . .
So much for doing things differently. When you pull in the WH chef to help with fundraising, when you have the top senior advisors to the president take time to meet with donors, my question is whether the campaign pays for their time. I would also like to know how the administration measures the contribution that it gets from Facebook bigwigs who have been consulting with Obama since his previous presidential campaign. From the Washington Post:
Campaign officials are working to broaden Obama’s network of “bundlers,” the well-connected rainmakers tasked with soliciting big checks from wealthy donors, while seeking to preserve the aura of a grass-roots movement by luring back the kind of small Internet donations that helped shatter fundraising records four years ago.
To do so, Obama and his aides are leveraging every asset available to a sitting president — from access to top West Wing officials to a possible food tasting with the White House chef.
Much of the fundraising in recent weeks has occurred at targeted events designed to appeal to specific groups, many of which have expressed frustration with administration policies, including Jews, gays and business leaders. Obama has attended 28 fundraisers from coast to coast — a pace that could continue, or even accelerate, over the next several months. . . .
In her meeting with the pro-Israel supporter, Jarrett listened as the donor expressed dissatisfaction with the White House’s approach to the Middle East. The donor remained on the fence after their discussion but later said the meeting left an impression.
“She’s got very limited time, so I should see it as meaningful, right?” said the donor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private conversation. “You don’t get a visit every day from the White House’s senior adviser.” . . .
Wall Street executives, angry over the financial services regulation bill and Obama’s rhetoric blaming bankers for their role in the country’s economic collapse, have been the target of some of the White House’s most intensive courtship.
Messina has been meeting with potential bundlers from Manhattan to Los Angeles. In sessions this spring with Wall Street bankers, he was “emphatic” that Obama needed their early commitment to give and raise large sums, according to someone in the room.
One major Democratic donor who attended a Messina session described a sense of “quiet hostility” among the Wall Street executives present as the strategist listed Obama’s policy achievements and encouraged their financial assistance. . . .
The Flint Journal has this story on the 10 year anniversary of concealed handgun in Michigan.
The number of permits to carry concealed weapons have exploded across mid-Michigan in the 10 years since Michigan opened the flood gates to allow just about anyone to have one. Like other areas statewide, the most rural places are packing at the highest rates — while more populous urban areas trail with lower numbers of CCWs per capita. But everywhere, demand is up. Way up. Many communities locally report the number of permit holders have nearly doubled in just the last five years. Genesee County had approved 7,100 CCW permits by July 2006, the earliest year the records were available. Now, there are 14,000 — even though the county has lost about 10,000 people in the last decade. During the same period, Bay County has gone from 1,700 permits to more than 3,000 and Saginaw County from 2,700 to 5,000. Statewide, one in 26 eligible-age adults has a license to carry. There are more than 270,000 permit holders, double the amount five years ago. . . .
Ralph Nader, the well-known "consumer" advocate, is also a Cisco shareholder and, not particularly surprisingly, he thinks that he knows how the company should be run better than they do. Nader pushes the nutty notion that one reason Cisco should pay out larger dividends is that it will increase consumer demand.
"They have 5.5 billion shares, so if they give a dollar dividend back for these long-patient shareholders - that would leave them with $38 billion that they are sitting on," [Ralph Nader] added. "This will also produce more consumer demand." . . .
Here is some very basic economics. If Cisco gives out the cash, the stock price will fall by the amount given out. That means that shareholders will have the cash from the dividend, but that the value of their stock will fall by the same amount. Of course, if people want the money, they can sell their shares to get the money if they don't get dividends. If they don't want the money from the dividend, they can reinvest the money in the stock. Given that the tax rate on dividends and capital gains are the same, it doesn't really matter for consumer demand whether one gets the capital gain or a dividend.
Nader doesn't think that Cisco is using the money that it has made from profits properly, and he compares this to arguments that conservatives make over the federal government.
"Shareholders who often call themselves conservatives say to government 'it's not government's money, it's our money'," he said. "It's time for those shareholders to say to corporate bosses 'it's not your money, it's our money as owner/shareholders'." . . .
Yet, one could only wish that it was as easy to disagree with government policies as it is to disagree with a company's policies. Apparently, most shareholders don't agree with Nader's advice to Cisco. If he doesn't like what Cisco is doing, he can sell their stock for a very small fee and then use the money to buy another company's stock. He doesn't need to move to a new house. He doesn't need to move thousands of miles away or learn a new language. Whether he has hundreds or hundreds of thousands of dollars in stocks, the process is not very difficult or costly at all.
Colin McNickle has a useful piece available here at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. I have written similar pieces, but he still does a very good job. I have also posted about Geithner calling for increased taxes as a way to promote growth.
Why are governments trying to force private banks into taking Greek debt?
Doesn't anyone remember that just a couple of weeks ago people were saying that Greece had to be bailed out because so French banks had so much money invested in Greek debt? It is amazing how these things snowball. Governments get banks to take debt that they don't want. Debt goes bad. More government involvement and more government coercion. From Reuters today:
French banks have agreed to roll over holdings of Greek debt for 30 years, President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday, as the Greek government fought to persuade backbench rebels to back a crucial austerity plan to avert bankruptcy. With financial markets watching the Greek crisis anxiously, Sarkozy told a news conference in Paris that the French authorities had reached an agreement with the banks on a voluntary rollover of maturing bonds. "We concluded that by stretching out the loans over 30 years, putting (interest rates) at the level of European loans, plus a premium indexed to future Greek growth, that would be a system that each country could find attractive," he said. . . .
Is the Obama administration ever doing cost-benefit analysis for its regulations?: CAFE regulations increasing
Look what Americans can look forward to driving in a few years. Put aside those gas guzzling mini coopers and look at some other cars that fall well short of Obama's proposed MPG rules of 56.2 MPG. Of course, a lot of these excessively large cars don't even make the 2016 mandate of 35.5 MPG average. The huge/gigantic 2009 Smart FOR TWO PASSION gets 33 MPG city/41 MPG highway, hardly comes close to Obama's proposed 56 MPG and barely gets to the 35.5 MPG required by 2016. The car's 3 Cylinder 1.0L engine would impress some self-propelled lawnmowers. Now it is true that the misnamed "Smart" car has a lot of fat and extra space that could be cut out, but it still isn't clear how they will get its mileage about 20 MPG on average to Obama's 56.2 MPG. A two person car with no crash protection really possible because there is no room for crumple space should really be a one person car, right?
The road domineering 2010 Hyundai ACCENT GLS gets an impressive 27 MPG city/36 MPG highway, but the highway numbers are themselves still 20 MPG short.
The extra large 2010 Honda INSIGHT EX gets an impressive 40 MPG city/43 MPG highway.
The behemoth 2009 Chevrolet COBALT LT's 25 MPG city/35 MPG highway doesn't even come remotely close to the 2016 rules let alone to Obama's proposed mandates.
The Obama administration may require auto makers to roughly double the average fuel economy of their car and light truck fleets from current levels to 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025. . . .
The new plan, being drafted jointly by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, would build on the administration's new rules put in place last year that requires new cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. to average 35.5 mpg by 2016, up from 27.3 mpg today. . . .
Michele Bachmann Talks the Issues on Fox News Sunday
A transcript of the interview is available here. Wallace gave her a tough interview, but he typically gives everyone a tough interview so there was nothing wrong here. You also know that Bachmann is doing a good job when the interviewer has to concede: "and, obviously, I don't know the details nearly as well as you do about the clinic that's run by your husband . . . ."
WALLACE: All right. We're going to talk about the other candidates a little bit later. But let me ask you about yourself. With the spotlight comes new scrutiny. The Los Angeles Times has a story out today that says for all your talk of being a fiscal hawk, that, in fact, you have gone after federal and government -- excuse me, state government money over the years, both personally and professionally. And let's it up on the screen. A counseling clinic -- excuse me -- run by your husband got almost $30,000 in state federal funds. A farm, in which you are a partner, got almost $260,000 in federal subsidies. And over the years, you sought more than $60 million in the state earmarks and more than $3.7 million in federal earmarks. Question -- that's a fiscal hawk? BACHMANN: Well, let's go through them. First of all, the money that went to the clinic was actually training money for employees. The clinic did not get the money. And my husband and I did not get the money either. That's mental health training money that went to employees. Number two, regarding the farm, the farm is my father-in-law's farm. It's not my husband and my farm. It's my father-in-law's farm. And my husband and I have never gotten a penny of money from the farm. Regarding the earmarks, I believe the right place to build projects is in the states and the states have to build roads and bridges. And I don't apologize for building roads and bridges. WALLACE: So, you're pro-earmark? BACHMANN: No. During my first year -- during my first term in Congress, I signed a pledge that I will take no more earmarks and I've been faithful to that pledge. WALLACE: In terms of the money -- and, obviously, I don't know the details nearly as well as you do about the clinic that's run by your husband. If you say money is going to employees, that -- I mean, if he runs the clinic, that would seem to be benefiting you guys. BACHMANN: This -- WALLACE: And to the degree that you are a partner in a farm, federal subsidiaries would seem to benefit the farm. BACHMANN: Actually, it did not. It actually took away from the clinic, because these were training hours where employees were not able to bring more income in. This is one-time training money that came in from the federal government. And it certainly didn't help our clinic. It was something that was additional training to help employees. . .
Let me add to this point. If this training money makes workers more productive, they are going to get higher wages. Taking away workers time from work, hurts her husband's business. It is hard to see how his business captures the costs of this training. All that seems pretty straightforward, but evidently, some Democrats, such as MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, think that providing training to employees is the same as giving the money to the company.
On the eve of her entry into the 2012 GOP presidential race, Rep. Michele Bachmann said "scare tactics" are being used by those warning of an economic calamity unless Congress raises the government's borrowing limit by an August deadline. The three-term congresswoman from Minnesota said the U.S. could avoid a default by paying only the interest on U.S. obligations while lawmakers work on a deal to cut spending dramatically as part of a new debt ceiling.
Such an approach has been derided as unworkable by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Bachmann, a tea party favorite, planned to kick off her campaign Monday in her Waterloo, Iowa, her birthplace. The Iowa Poll released Saturday night by The Des Moines Register showed her in a statistical tie with Republican rival Mitt Romney among likely caucus-goers. . . .
Why is our recovery so much worse than for other countries? It can't simply be that there is a slow recovery after financial crises since that would imply a slow recovery every place. From CNBC:
Two months ago, Goldman Sachs projected that the economy would grow at a 4 percent annual rate in the quarter ending in June. The company now expects the government to report no more than 2 percent growth when data for the second quarter is released in a few weeks.
Macroeconomic Advisers, a research firm, projected 3.5 percent growth back in April and is now down to just 2.1 percent for this quarter.
Both these firms, well respected in their analysis, have cut their forecasts for the second half of the year as well. Then this week, the Federal Reserve downgraded its projections for the full year, to under 3 percent growth. It started the year with guidance as high as 3.9 percent.
Two years into the official recovery, the economy is still behaving like a plane taxiing indefinitely on the runway. Few economists are predicting an out-and-out return to recession, but the risk has increased, with the health of the American economy depending in part on what is really “transitory.” . . .
At 72.5, the Consumer Index is down five and a half points from a week ago, 11 and a half points from a month ago and down 10 points from three months ago. Twenty-seven percent of consumers rate their personal finances as good or excellent, while and equal number (27%) rate them as poor. The Rasmussen Investor Index, which measures the economic confidence of investors on a daily basis, rose four points on Sunday from its two-year low to 74.9. Investor confidence is down nine points from a week ago and down 17 points from a month ago and three months ago. Forty-three percent (43%) of investors say their personal finances are in good or excellent shape. Just 10% of investors rate their personal finances as poor. Overall confidence in housing values among homeowners has plummeted as well. Just 45% now say their home is worth more than what they currently owe on their mortgage. That’s the lowest level measured in more than two years of regular tracking. Prior to the latest survey, this finding had ranged from a low of 49% to a high of 61% since late 2008. . . . .
Another Rasmussen Survey shows that 46 percent of Americans think that Obama is doing a poor job on the economy.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters shows that 34% rate the president’s handling of economic issues as good or excellent. Forty-six percent (46%) say Obama is doing a poor job in that area. (To see survey question wording, click here.) Poor ratings for the president’s handling of the economy are up seven points from last week, but the latest finding is more consistent with his job ratings on the economy over the past year. The president’s highest poor rating of 50% was last measured in October 2010. His positive marks on the economy fell to 31% in mid-March, the lowest point since he took office. . . . An overwhelming majority of Political Class voters give the president positive ratings for his handling of both the economy and national security. Most Mainstream voters (56%) think the president is doing a poor job on the economy but are more narrowly divided when it comes to his national security performance. . . .
The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program will significantly increase the number of families and schools eligible to participate in the program. Specific changes include: A large increase in the family income qualifications. Previously, only children from families qualifying for the federal free and reduced price lunch program were eligible to participate. Now, children from all families earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, or $67,000 for a family of four, will qualify to receive a private school voucher. Removing the cap on the number of students who can participate. In prior years, there was a hard cap limiting the number of students who could receive a voucher to 22,500. This expansion eliminates the cap. It is estimated that, with the new income guidelines, 84,402 Milwaukee families — or 65.1 percent of all Milwaukee families — will be eligible to participate in the program. Once in, always in. In previous years, a student who received a voucher could lose eligibility for the program because his or her parents happened to increase their income in a given year. Now, once a student gets a voucher, that student will always be able to keep it, regardless of their family's future income. A sizeable increase in the number of private school options. Previously, children receiving a voucher could only attend private schools in the city of Milwaukee. Now, they will be able to attend any participating private school in the state. Allowing parents to "top up" the voucher in high school. In previous years, high schools were required to accept the amount of the voucher, which is set at $6,442, as tuition in full. This meant that private high schools in the program were receiving barely half what traditional public schools receive to educate a child. Now, parents earning between 220 and 300 percent of the federal guidelines for poverty can add their own funds on top of the voucher, which will give them a wider array of options. The budget also expands the choice program to the Racine Unified School District, which will operate exactly as the program in Milwaukee with the following exceptions: A two-year cap on the number of student who can participate. The program will be limited in the first year to 250 students and in the second year to 500 students. Thereafter, there will be no cap on the number of students who can participate. It is estimated that 11,531 families, or 58.4 percent of all families in Racine, will be eligible to participate in the program. Priority for lower income families if the program is oversubscribed in year one. If the program is oversubscribed in the first year, priority will be given to children who qualify for the federal free and reduced price lunch program. Expanded eligibility. Unlike Milwaukee's program, the program in Racine will be open to any income-qualified child who attended Racine Unified Public Schools in the prior year or any current or entering student, public or private, in K-4, K-5, or K-1 kindergarten. Entering private school ninth graders will also be eligible. . . .
Did Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice Bradley attack Prosser?
Chief Justice Ann Walsh Bradley contends that Justice Prosser tried to choke her. The American Thinker provides some helpful links here and summarizes the issue here:
Two to one says Bradley advanced toward Prosser threatening him. You will probably get different stories from others who were present, all dependent on the political point of view of the "witness." . . . To automatically grant Bradley a pass without hearing some of the things she has thrown at Prosser and other conservatives is ridiculous. This should be taken into account because as we've seen in the past, when liberals insult conservatives, they see it as speaking the truth, not as a personal attack. Just ask Rep. Alan Grayson or former Rep. Weiner if they are abusive toward their Republican colleagues. No doubt Bradley thinks herself entirely innocent in the matter of provoking others on the court. Reality may very well be quite different.
This police report may prove to be very interesting. Bradley may wish that she never never provoked this public discussion.
UPDATE: One strange point that I just noticed is that the alleged choking supposed took place earlier this month before the Supreme Court's decision on collective bargaining in the state. That decision was given out on June 14th. Yet, Bradley went to the media on Saturday. Why did it take her so long to go to the press?
With the scandal over the gun walker case gradually getting revealed, the pressure has been building on Kenneth Melson to get him to quit. Why not simply fire him? I have wondered whether the Obama administration wanted to increase American originated guns in Mexico so they simply put pressure on gun dealers to sell guns to Mexican gun traffickers. Does Melson have something on the Obama administration that makes it so that they can't simply fire him?
Under the leadership of Kenneth Melson, the ATF began "Operation Fast and Furious" in fall 2009 – a program established to trace the sales of illegal firearms to Mexican drug cartels. But the program instead put guns in cartel hands, two of which were found at a crime scene where Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in December 2010. One source, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed Melson has said in high-level discussions he didn’t want to be the "fall guy" on the scandal. "He is saying he won’t go," the source told the Los Angeles Times. . . .