Saturday, July 23, 2011

Creating Jobs - Republican Cognitive Dissonance.

A time out on the Obama bashing.  Time to analyze the mindless Republican talking points relating to job creation since we have a so-called "fragile economy". The Republicans demand that the government must provide incentives (tax credits and regulatory relief) to private industry so that they will  have the financial resources to unleash America's entrepreneurial spirit that will result in job creation.  Makes for excellent sound bytes.

Regretfully, this logic is highly simplistic and illogical too boot.  The Republicans do not seem to equate the use of tax credits and regulatory relief as a form of welfare.  Yes welfare.  When you subsidize a business through tax credits that is a form of welfare. So if the Republicans seek to eliminate welfare for the poor, why is it acceptable to give businesses welfare?

In a sense this is a zero sum game.  Reducing entitlements and welfare means that the recipients won't have the money to buy products/services.  If these people do not have the money to buy,  businesses will not have an incentive to hire people to produce products. So how will giving "welfare" to private enterprise promote job growth?

The basic problem with the economy today is lack of demand. This has been discussed on both CNBC and Fox News.  Regretfully, this is one of those issues that has not yet reached the "critical mass" necessary to achieve national recognition. Too bad.

To continue, the Republicans assert that they want government to stay out of the private sector.  Furthermore, that government programs should not be used to determine which private sector companies will be successful or not, and that government programs (overall) are wasteful.  If the Republicans truly believed their own rhetoric and had an ethical foundation, they would be insisting that the private sector take the leadership role in resolving the employment situation. The Republicans have been silent.  I guess this is one of those cases where it is easier to perpetually castigate the government for every conceivable ill then it is to accept accountability for implementing what you profess.

The problem of course is that the private sector is busy laying people off.  If not laying people off, not hiring. A fact that the Republicans conveniently ignore. Clearly the private sector does not believe that they have a responsibility or an obligation to fix the national economy.  So when will the Republicans look in the mirror and recognize their cognitive dissonance and then resolve their ethical lapses?

Friday, July 15, 2011

When Will We Stop Raising The Debt Ceiling?

 In response to the Washington Post article "Break the spend-and-borrow cycle" olddesert_rat responded with the following:

"We must raise the debt ceiling, and also craft a sound plan to cut spending over a measured period of time so that essential programs are left to operate and meet the needs of our citizens. Greater measures need to be put into this plan, in order to curb the waste, fraud, and abuses which contribute so much to the excessive costs."

My apologies to olddesert_rat, but this is the repetition of the same old empty rhetoric that we have been endlessly hearing from the politicians for many years. At what point do you finally say enough with empty rhetoric? Take a look at the graph below.  What do you see?

The graphic above is from the Washington Post.

But there is also a deeper question concerning the seemingly perpetual increases in the debt limit. That is where is the increased spending going?  Is it going towards legitimate programs that require increased funding or is it going to "Bread and Circus" largess to "buy" votes?

I don't know.

What I can say is;  in the year 2000 total Federal government spending amounted to $1,789 Billion. For 2011 the projected spending is estimated to total $3,818 billion. An increase of 213%. Conceptually, as a casual observation, the scope and functions of government are obviously being enlarged. The money has to be going somewhere. Much like the hypothetical decision to buy a  $38,189 instead of a $17,890 car.  Clearly you do NOT have to buy the more expensive car, you could settle for a $20,000 for example. Those who perpetually bellyache for an increase in the debt limit do not seem to consider that proposed increased spending may not even be justified.   

Concerning my response to "Break the spend-and-borrow cycle":
"The obvious question, where was the pledge for fiscal responsibility under (Blame) Bush? 

Why no mention of a rational tax structure by Perry and Haley? We do have to pay (fund) government services.

Regretfully, this letter is simply another example, of an endless number of examples of, empty rhetoric. At some later date (when politically expedient) both Perry and Haley, will repeat Obama's infamous assertion concerning fiscal responsibility: "I now regret that decision.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Unbelievably Blatant Partisan Journalism by the Washington Post

The deficit debate is heating up.  When you read a newspaper you hope for real analysis not blatant propaganda. Consequently I was stunned by the Washington Post's headline: "Obama forges ahead in debt negotiations". How can the Post possibly assert that Obama is working on debt reduction when his proposed budget actually called for record deficit spending?

The follow-up  misleading Post headline: "Obama will still seek a $4 trillion debt deal despite GOP opposition, aides say". Another misleading headline. First, the Post seeks to make it appear Obama is proposing spending reductions when he was actually proposing increased spending. Second, the GOP is not specifically against cost cutting, they were against the proposed budget increases.

The Post goes on to write: "Two of President Obama’s top advisers said he will continue to press for a far-reaching, $4 trillion deal to cut the deficit when he meets with congressional leaders on Sunday evening, despite new opposition from Republican leaders to such a compromise.". Now I don't have much love for the Republican budget proposals, but to say that Obama has a far reaching deal to cut the deficit is blatantly misleading.

According to this website the deficit for FY2011 is projected to be $1645.12 billion. In FY2008 the budget deficit totaled $458.55 billion. So in three short years the deficit nearly quadrupled and the Post fails to recognize this?  Unbelievable.

The Post headline should read: "Obama Retracts His Proposal for Record Deficit Spending".  The Post paragraph above should read along the lines: "Two of Presidents Obama's top advisers conceded to reduce the scope of proposed deficit spending in response to Republican demands for realistic spending levels."

The Post's bogus assertion that Obama is some type of deficit cutting hero who is being obstructed by Republicans is unbelievably blatant partisan journalism.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Republican Economic Shortsightedness

Recently a weak jobs report was issued and bickering concerning the debt ceiling is heating-up. The Republican zombie mantra stupidly continues to spout conflicting messages. On one hand the Republicans claim that the government should stay out of the private sector, yet they turn right around and with a straight smiling face make the unbelievable assertion that the government must provide "incentives" to promote job growth.  Furthermore, now that a Democratic president has been elected, the Republicans seem to have discovered "fiscal responsibility" as a legitimate concept after years of reckless deficit spending.

In asserting that the government must provide "incentives" to promote economic growth, the Republicans don't seem to be aware of the deeper negative implications. That is the promotion of corporate welfare.  The Republicans have proposed that entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare be cut, yet they are willing to give your tax dollars to subsidize businesses. Also, think of this: if you take money away from the citizen welfare recipients where will they get the money to buy the products of the business that are now being subsidized?  This is a zero sum game folks.

In terms of the concept of fiscal responsibility; the Republicans propose "incentives", some of which are tax breaks and credits. That means a revenue reduction.  The Republicans, now that a Democratic president is in office, have discovered fiscal responsibility and want a budget that is more or less balanced.  So how will the Republicans make up for the revenue shortfall created through reduced taxes and tax credits? Fundamentally, if certain entities do not have a tax burden, others will have an increased tax burden.

Embedded in this whole discussion is "job creation". The mistaken belief of the Republicans is that providing businesses with so-called "incentives" will jump start the economy.  This is bogus concept based on a number of points.

First, businesses create jobs in response to unmet demand for products and services.  If there is no demand, they will not create jobs. Obama, even though he is a Democrat is proving this to be true. He has flooded the economy with money and interest rates are near 0%.  The program "Bull and Bears" on Fox News had a lively discussion concerning the lack of consumer demand.

Second, the Republican claim to be free market types. Jobs are moving overseas because US workers are too expensive.  Nevertheless, the Republicans still like to blame "government" and because we have a Democrat as president, try to lay the blame on Obama.  Now I am not defending Obama, my point is that the Republicans should acknowledge that this is the free market at work and not make the disingenuous blame the government statement.

Third, now for the obligatory "Blame Bush" statement. Bush, a good Republican, reduced taxes and regulatory oversight to "incentivize" the economy.  It worked; but then the highly "incentivized" economy gave us the housing bubble. massive fraud, and an economic collapse. Well there is that olde adage about those failing to learn from history. I guess the Republicans still have not learned. Are the Republicans even capable of learning?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Balanced Budget Amendment Distraction

As the irrational shrieking over the proposed debt ceiling intensifies, so has the whisper campaign for a "Balanced Budget Amendment" increased in volume. The problem is that any "Balanced Budget Amendment" won't be worth the paper it is printed on.

I responded in the Washington Post opinion piece "Cantor won’t sign ‘Cut, Cap, Balance’ pledge" by Felicia Sonmez that: "The concept of the "Balanced Budget Amendment" is being floated as a distraction from solving the debt limit now. It will allow our Congress people to further avoid making a decision and to continue to kick-the-can down the road. Don't fall for this misleading rhetoric.

Why would a "Balanced Budget Amendment" be dead-on-arrival? The most obvious example relates to the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling is a defacto balanced budget amendment. So Congress could balance the budget now if it wanted too. If they do not have the will now to balance the budget, why would they magically have that will in the future?

Any so-called "Balanced Budget Amendment" would have an "escape" clause for unforeseen circumstances, like Hurricane Katrina. It won't take Congress long to begin using the "escape" clause to start passing budgets proposing deficit spending. Congress people, as a hobby, like to manufacturer crises so they can get face time and propose "fake" solutions to impress their constitutions.

Just think of the implications of Eric Cantor's statement "I don’t want to sign a pledge that conditions my vote on what the Democrats may or may not do". I imagine that there are Democrats with the same sentiment. A "Balanced Budget Amendment" will simply be meaningless showpiece legislation dead-on-arrival to fool the American Public. Getting on the "Balanced Budget Amendment" band wagon will be a fools errand.

FauxReal was kind enough to respond that others have been writing concerning this too and provided a link to "Dopiest Constitutional Amendment of All Time?" by Bruce Bartlett. Mr. Bartlett has links in his post that are worth following-up on.  In particular to the actual Joint Resolution S. J. RES 10.   Mr. Bartlett concludes "In short, this is quite possibly the stupidest constitutional amendment I think I have ever seen. It looks like it was drafted by a couple of interns on the back of a napkin. Every senator cosponsoring this POS should be ashamed of themselves."

Good to see that my hypothesized escape clause in the draft amendment appears in Section 5: ‘‘The limit on the debt of the United States shall not be increased, unless three-fifths of the duly chosen and sworn Members of each House of Congress shall provide for such an increase by a roll call vote."

Sunday, July 3, 2011

American People Hire High-Powered Lobbyist To Push Interests In Congress

My daughter just sent me this Onion tongue and cheek article: "American People Hire High-Powered Lobbyist To Push Interests In Congress".  Humor can be a very powerful tool that exposes the hypocrisy of today's politicians.

In announcing the hiring of Jack Weldon the Onion noted that: "His daily presence in the Capitol will ensure the American people finally get a seat at the table," the statement continued. "And it will allow him to advance our message that everyone, including Americans, deserves to be represented in Washington."

The Onion also noted that that: "Before today, I'd actually never heard of this group," Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) told reporters. "But if Jack says they're worth my time, I'll take a look and see if maybe there are some areas where our interests overlap."

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Deficit Allegory - Theater of the Abusrd

Obama's proposed budget is nothing but smoke and mirrors to promote a "bread and circuses" economy.  Unfortunately some in the news media seems to be deficient in the critical analytical skills necessary to expose what is happening. Maybe some these individuals lack the to will to be independent and prefer to blindly regurgitate the Democratic party line.

Obama is the head of a household.  The household previously budgeted $20,000 for a brand new shiny car that they were looking forward to for a nice summer road-trip vacation.  Obama happens by a car dealership and sees a $50,000 car they he just has to have for his trips to the golf course.  After hearing of this revised plan, the household gets a bit testy and insists on a more reasonable solution.  In the spirit of comprise, Obama goes out and buys a new $30,000 car suitable for his trips to the golf course claiming that he has now saved the household $20,000.

 Not mentioned, Obama has still spent $10,000 more than originally proposed.  As for the household, they never will get their summer road-trip vacation.  It is unfortunate that some elements of the news media remain silent concerning this blatant "bait and switch".