Recent Posts From Jason Pye
Democrats are trying to change the name of cap-and-trade, the system that would force businesses to purchase carbon credits when they reach their limit, since it has become a polarizing term to the American public:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid played dumb last week when a reporter asked him if the energy and climate bill headed to the floor would come with a “cap” on greenhouse gas emissions.
“I don’t use that,” the Nevada Democrat replied. “Those words are not in my vocabulary. We’re going to work on pollution.”
Moments earlier, Reid had confirmed he was trying to craft legislation targeting the heat-trapping pollution that comes from power plants. But he’s determined to win the war of words when it comes to a carbon cap — and that means losing the lexicon attached to past climate battles.
Gone, in the Democrat’s mind, are the terms “cap” and “cap and trade,” which are synonymous with last June’s House-passed climate bill as well as other existing environmental policies for curbing traditional air pollutants. In their place are new slogans recommended by prominent pollsters (and even a neuroscientist) that Reid and allies hope they can use to overcome the long-shot prospects for passing climate legislation.
As you can see here, the votes aren’t there, at least to move it past a GOP filibuster. And in an election year where losses are expected to be deep for Democrats, many members of the Senate may not want to risk the vote.
The Heritage Foundation explains the policy in this video:
Despite that some Republicans are saying that we don’t need to cut defense spending, a new report by the Washington Post called “Top Secret America” shows that there is much waste and inefficiency in the intelligence community:
Since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, top-secret intelligence gathering by the government has grown so unwieldy and expensive that no one really knows what it cost and how many people are involved, The Washington Post reported Monday.
A two-year investigation by the newspaper uncovered what it termed a “Top Secret America” that’s mostly hidden from public view and largely lacking in oversight.
In its first installment of a series of reports, the Post said there are now more than 1,200 government organizations and more than 1,900 private companies working on counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in some 10,000 locations across the U.S.
Some 854,000 people — or nearly 1 1/2 times the number of people who live in Washington — have top-secret security clearance, the paper said.
The Post said its investigation also found that:
—In the area around Washington, 33 building complexes — totaling some 17 million square feet of space — for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since 9/11.
—Many intelligence agencies are doing the same work, wasting money and resources on redundancy.
—So many intelligence reports are published each year that many are routinely ignored.
Do we spend $1 trillion a year on foreign policy? That was a claim recently made by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). The statement got the attention of the folks over at Politifact. They reviewed it, and they found it to be true:
We consulted numerous defense budget experts on the issue. They all agreed that it depends largely on how one defines “foreign policy.” Changing the definition means changing the programs that one includes in the calculation, which impacts the total amount.
Winslow Wheeler from the Center for Defense Information sent us a table which details the “U.S. security” expenses for 2010. The total comes out to $1021.3 billion, slightly over $1 trillion. The calculation includes the interest on the Department of Defense Retiree Health Care Fund and on debt-financed defense spending.
Cindy Williams, a principal research scientist at the MIT Security Studies Program told us to check out her presentation on historical U.S. defense and foreign affairs spending trends. Looking at projected spending for the year 2010, summing up national defense programs, homeland security programs, and international affairs initiatives totals $841 billion. Add in the VA budget of $125 billion and we get $966 billion. Williams said that she wouldn’t include the interest payments attributable to past debt-financed defense spending in her own analysis, “since there is no good way to judge whether debt accumulated because we spent too much on security, or because we raised too little in taxes.”
Do you own a small business? If so, prepare to be buried by the bureaucracy it will bring to your office:
In order to pay for the health care benefits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the scope of Form 1099 was considerably extended by PPACA Section 9006. Internal Revenue Code Section 6041 currently contains numerous exceptions from Form 1099 reporting requirements. In general, current 1099 reporting covers only services paid to individuals and partnerships. Absent the IRS making regulatory changes, after the PPACA change becomes effective, no meaningful exemptions will exist. If a vendor receives more than $600 in total during the year, a 1099 will be required.
Take a moment to absorb the day-to-day impact of this. Here are examples of transactions that previously did not involve 1099 reporting, but which will be required under the PPACA. For each of the following, your business will need to collect a taxpayer identification number (TIN), address, and other information for a proper 1099, and then send a completed 1099 shortly after the calendar year is over:
1. You travel out-of-town and pay more than $600 for a hotel room.
2. You occasionally order sandwiches from the local deli so that employees or clients can “work through”. Although each payment is no more than around $20, the aggregate paid throughout the year exceeds $600.
3. In a series of smaller purchases, the office manager purchases more than $600 of office supplies from a vendor over the internet.
4. You pay more than $600 per year to a bottled water vendor who makes delivery to your office.
5. You purchase a few office chairs from a local retailer for a total of more than $600.
6. You purchase gas for a business automobile from certain gas stations, the total of which are more than $600 during the entire year.
Consider today’s RealClearPolitics No Toss Up Map, which shows the state of the 2010 Governor races based off of the latest RCP Averages and polls:
Based on this, Democrats are headed toward holding 28% of the Governor’s seats. This is their lowest result since the ending of Reconstruction allowed for fully competitive gubernatorial elections in all states. It is well below their 134-year average of 55% of seats held.
Looking more closely at the polls, two open Democratic governorships are almost certainly lost: Wyoming and Kansas. Losses for an incumbent in Iowa and in the open Oklahoma gubernatorial race seem nearly as certain. Four more open seats (for a total of eight) seem to lean toward the Republicans: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
Few seats seem likely to offset this. Democrats will probably pick up the open Republican Governor’s seat in Hawaii, where Barack Obama won with 72% of the vote. Ned Lamont, the likely Democratic nominee in Connecticut, is in good position to pick up that seat for the Democrats.
The Institute for Justice brings us The Citizens United Debate, where Steve Simpson and Ilya Shapiro (arguing for the First Amendment) debated Richard Hasen and Jamin Raskin (arguing against the First Amendment) on the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court from earlier this year that has reignited debate on campaign finance law.
Here is the first part of the debate:
Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), speaking in a hearing with White House economic adviser Christina Romer, explains that the American people can handle the truth about the economy:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) takes to the Washington Post to make his case against President Barack Obama’s drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico:
[T]he federal government unwisely chose to add insult to injury by decreeing a moratorium on deepwater drilling in the gulf. This ill-advised and ill-considered moratorium, which a federal judge called “arbitrary” and “capricious,” creates a second disaster for our economy, throwing thousands of hardworking folks out of their jobs and causing real damage to many families. Now this federal policy risks killing 20,000 more jobs and will result in a loss of $65 million to $135 million in wages each month.
To ensure that such a disaster does not happen again, should the federal government increase oversight, or require additional and better equipment or on-site federal inspectors, or even temporarily pause drilling at specific rigs for additional reviews? Of course. Could it? Of course. But by simply stopping all deepwater drilling, federal officials appear more interested in ideology and scoring political points — as they have done with the misguided cap-and-trade legislation — at the expense of Americans who derive their livelihood from the energy industry.
Is the Federal Reserve giving up on the economy? That is the impression being left on some economists:
The euro rocketed to a two-month high of $1.29 and sterling jumped two cents to almost $1.54 after the Fed confessed that the US economy may not recover for five or six years. Far from winding down emergency stimulus, the bank may need a fresh blast of bond purchases or quantitative easing.
Usually the dollar serves as a safe haven whenever the world takes fright, and there was plenty of sobering news from China and other quarters on Thursday. Not this time. The US itself has become the problem.
The Fed minutes warned of “significant downside risks” and a possible slide into deflation, an admission that zero interest rates, $1.75 trillion of QE, and a fiscal deficit above 10pc of GDP have so far failed to lift the economy out of a structural slump.
“The Committee would need to consider whether further policy stimulus might become appropriate if the outlook were to worsen appreciably,” it said. The economy might not regain its “longer-run path” until 2016.
“The Fed is throwing in the towel,” said Gabriel Stein, of Lombard Street Research. “They are preparing to start QE again. This was predictable because the M3 broad money supply has been contracting for months.”
The Fed minutes amount to a policy thunderbolt, evidence of how quickly the recovery has lost steam. Just weeks ago the Fed was mapping out withdrawal of stimulus.
We’re not out of this yet, folks.
Despite saying last year that the individual mandate is not a tax, the Obama Administration is arguing the opposite as it defends ObamaCare in federal court:
When Congress required most Americans to obtainor pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.”
And that power, they say, is even more sweeping than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce.
Administration officials say the tax argument is a linchpin of their legal case in defense of the health care overhaul and its individual mandate, now being challenged in court by more than 20 states and several private organizations.
Under the legislation signed byin March, most Americans will have to maintain “minimum essential coverage” starting in 2014. Many people will be eligible for federal subsidies to help them pay premiums.
In a brief defending the law, the Justice Department says the requirement for people to carry insurance or pay the penalty is “a valid exercise” of Congress’s power to impose taxes.
Here is what President Barack Obama said last year: