Financial Crisis

Report: Americans face $1.8 trillion in annual regulatory costs

 Ten Thousand Commandments

One of the most dangerous, least often talked about threats of the governmental regulatory machine is how much of our money is engulfed in the regulatory process, putting the country deeper into debt.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has just released its annual report on the general state of U.S. federal regulations and what is known as the “hidden tax” of the U.S. regulatory state known as the Ten Thousand Commandments.

Because regulations are proposed and enacted without allowing for a substantial review of their cost-benefit and its open discussion, Americans are hit with the consequences of the growth of the regulatory state where it hurts the most: their wallet.

“Federal agencies crank out thousands of new regulations every year,” says CEI Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews, “but we have little information on the cost or effectiveness of most of them.” According to Crews, one of the main issues with this process is the lack of transparency since few of us have access to reliable sources of information on what the regulations hope to accomplish.

The cost of the regulatory mess we find ourselves in adds hundreds of billions to our debt, which is why this report is so important. CEI Vice President for Policy warned the public that action is needed.

Majority of Americans Say Federal Taxes Are Just Too High

Americans are scrambling to have their taxes prepared by the end of the day to satisfy Uncle Sam’s thirst for their hard-earned money. Their lack of enthusiasm could have something to do with the fact that over half of the population claims taxes are just too high.

According to Gallup, 42 percent of Americans still say that they are paying enough, or “about right,” while 52 percent say that the taxes they are paying are too high. About two years ago, 46 percent of Americans said taxes were too high, indicating that there has been an increase in the number of people feeling they are simply paying too much.

Gallop found that the view that taxes are fair is more popular among Democrats, whereas Republicans tend to see their tax burden as not fair. According to the latest poll, 54 percent of Americans still regard the income tax as fair. However, this view is becoming less popular over time. According to Gallup, it hasn’t been this low since 2001.

Among Republicans, 57 percent say taxes are too high and 49 percent say what they pay is not fair. Among Democrats, 55 percent say they pay about right, and 69 percent say that what they pay is fair.

Among Independents, the numbers indicate that the difference between those who think their taxes are fair and those who think taxes are not fair is of 7 percent. Slightly more Independents (51%) say the federal income tax they have to pay is fair against 44 percent that say the taxes they pay are not fair.

A Single-Payer Health Care System Would Put Us in More Debt

spending

When Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) suggested that a single-payer system is the “cure for America’s ailing health care,” he suggested that ObamaCare was a small step in comparison to the reform he envisions. And what would this reform be, you ask.

The subsidized program that places the health care monopoly in the hands of the government.

Thomas Sowell pointed out that the reason why the single-payer system still sounds appealing to some is that people are being fooled into thinking that they are getting something for nothing. Health care at no cost for every single American, subsidized by taxpayer dollars is their goal, and the ObamaCare failure might be just the type of blessing that Congress is looking for.

But before we continue, have you ever asked yourself whether single-payer system supporters understand or even realize that subsidized health care is not free?

According to a report released by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, during 113th Congress’ first six months, some lawmakers have been much more interested in pushing for the singe-payer health care system than introducing budget cuts. All legislation introduced during the first six months in both the House and the Senate would increase spending by $1.74 trillion. Cuts introduced by Congress would only amount to $453 billion.

Rand Paul Reintroduces the Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has a simple idea to fix Medicare, and it involves offering all seniors the best health care system in America while saving taxpayer’s money.

According to Sen. Paul, his Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act would have Members of Congress and seniors sharing the same health plan, which would save $1 trillion over the first 10 years, amounting to a major cut of Medicare’s $43 trillion unfunded liability.

The bill, Sen. Paul says, “fixes the Medicare system, and gives seniors access to the best health care plans enjoyed currently by Members of Congress and does so without breaking the bank.”

Seniors would have access to a marketplace of various insurance plans that cannot deny coverage to anyone for any reason. While the government still pitches in with about three-quarters of the total costs, the open market makes it fairly less complicated for the senior to find a more inexpensive option, since companies will have to compete to meet the needs of growing numbers of customers. The Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act assures that there’s a gradual raise in the Medicare retirement age, which would go from 65 to 70 over a generation, leading to a major cut in overall costs.

Sen. Paul is confident that with his plan, the Medicare system will get the reform needed to become a more sustainable program without having to cut benefits or force a government rationing. Every citizen would be eligible to enjoy the same plan members of Congress enjoy without bankrupting the country since the new plan would be less expensive than the current Medicare system, which is now run by government bureaucrats.

Obama and Detroit the industry versus Detroit the city

Images_of_Money (CC)

When the news broke that the City of Detroit had declared bankruptcy, there were a fair number of jokes going around on social media, but in general, it wasn’t “news.” Yes, it is the largest city to take that step so far, but it’s Detroit. No one in their right mind could consider it surprising. What was remotely interesting in the case was what happened afterwards.

One judge - Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie E. Aquilina - put a new twist to the story by declaring that it was unconstitutional for the City of Detroit to declare bankruptcy in the first place. And so the political circus begins. Of course, Allahpundit at Hot Air dissected the situation, and came to the conclusion that this was little more than political pandering by yet another leftist judge.

QE3: A Nice Kickback For Bankers

Merely two weeks after Ben Bernanke announced one more round of quantitative easing (QE3), the results are already becoming apparent. And once again, it shows how the culture of “too big to fail” is both immoral and economically devastating.

The immorality of QE3 can be summarized by this quote, from Businessweek: “It’s very good to be a mortgage originator right now,”

Gosh, I wonder why? Is it perhaps because QE3 is benefiting banks/bankers…to the detriment of everyone else? But I thought our president wanted the top 1% to “pay their fair share”! So how do bankers and loan originators end up cashing in on yet another bailout? Yes, I realize I shouldn’t be shocked by a politician saying one thing…and doing the opposite. But I am.

Since images often speak louder than words, here’s an illustration of why it’s “…very good to be a mortgage originator right now”.

This is what Bernanke imagines QE3 is doing:

And here is what is ACTUALLY happening:

I rest my case.

Paul Krugman is Delusional

It’s official: the New York Times’ resident Nobel Prize Laureate/Loony is delusional. He wrote on his blog Monday about “how right he was”:

We’re coming up on the second anniversary of my piece “Myths of Austerity“, in which I tried to knock down the simply insane conventional wisdom then gelling among Very Serious People. Intellectually it was, I think I can say without false modesty, a huge win; I (and those of like mind) have been right about everything.

But I had no success in deflecting the terrible wrong turn in policy. Moreover, as far as I can tell none of the people responsible for that wrong turn has paid any price, not even in reputation; they’re still regarded as Very Serious, treated with great deference. And the political tendency behind that terrible economic analysis has at least a 50% chance of triumphing in America.

Oh well.

“Oh well” is right.

His first problem is that he says he has “been right about everything.” When one looks at the stimulus programs that have been enacted since this recession began, and the high unemployment that has persisted, the evidence is blatantly clear: Krugman is an idiot.

His second problem is his statement that “I had no success in deflecting the terrible wrong turn in policy.” Um, lest I am living on a different worldline than Krugman, the man’s main policy prescription has been stimulus, and we’ve had a lot of it:

Who Has The Party Delegates?

What all the GOP candidates are after, are so-called ‘delegates.’Elected officials that will broker the convention of either party this fall. Officials are parcelled by the amount of votes, the candidates receive in the primary.

During Michigan’s primary recently, for instance, there were 30 official delegates, state-wide. Two were ‘at-large’ candidates, which meant they could be assigned individually to any winning candidate. The other 28 were ‘proportional’ ones, alotted through 14 congressional districts. During the push for the nominations in Michigan last night, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum spent millions of dollars to influence the voting population; with TV ads, pamphlets, media, interviews, rallies, stickers, and much more. Michigan’s grand sum of politcal expenditure was near six million bucks.

Delegates are what really counts at the GOP convention. What looks to be happening, is that no clear winner will come out victorious. There’s a righteous number: 1444 delegates will win any nominee the victory-nod of the Republican National Committee. Nationwide, 2169 delegates are extended for contestation, until the RNC celebration in Tampa, Florida. From the RN Committee, an additional 117 delegates are added into the mix, ostensibly to keep debate lively and clear-up dead locks. So what appears, on first looks, to be a rather hot-headed and fast paced Republican rocket-launch to the RNC, is more like a jammed or misfired pistol in a duel.

Momentarily, Mitt Romney is in the lead, with 167 total delegates. Rick Santorum is second with roughly half, at 87. Newt Gingrich won only one state and has 32, while Ron Paul has 19 carefully collected delegations. The count may reshuffle at any moment, since constitutionalism and populism together, ring alarm-bells in states such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

The Road To Tax Reform: More Potholes Than I Like

Some panels are off in nowhere, little rooms here and there. Other panels are in giant ballrooms, like the Marshall Ballroom, second largest to the Marriott where all the major speakers are, well, speaking. (Perhaps “blustering” is a better word.) And sometimes, those ballrooms were not full. But then maybe I got there early.

It was certainly an illustrious panel, which explained why it began to fill up shortly after it officially began. It was chaired by Grover Norquist himself, President of Americans for Tax Reforms, and the legendary proponent of the “No New Taxes” Pledge he encouraged (some on the left would say “forced”) politicians to take up. To his right was Lew Uhler , chair of the National Tax Limitation Committee, and to his left were Benjamin Powell of the Independent Institute and Phil Kerpen, Vice President for Policy, of Americans For Prosperity. I went because the subtitle implied there was going to be a debate between supporters of the Flat Tax, Fair Tax, a VAT, and maybe even 9-9-9—and that plan’s author, Rich Lowrie, did show up in the audience. But there really wasn’t any debate on that front.

And let’s face it, what kind of debate can we really have on taxes? Even the left admits that the tax code we have now is horrifically complex, prone to corruption and gaming the system. Though they disagree about “broadening the base and lowering the rates,” I don’t think any sane American, left, right, or center, can look at the miasma we have now and say, “Yeah, it works.” For whom?

There were some interesting points to be made, but ultimately I didn’t think the solutions that Norquist posed during question time were all that good. But let’s focus on the interesting first:

Ronald Paul Assails GOP Establishment

It’s not often that the media give Ronald Paul (R-Texas) a chance to speak.

There were reasons, why I didn’t watch the second GOP debate on Sunday.

Ronald Paul cleared the field on Saturday, he was the last man standing! After some initial tampering with his microphone, and pitch, he opened his arguments by restating his offensive tactic on “big-government Republican”, Rick Santorum. The only two real Tea Party contenders: Ronald Paul and Rick Perry, were left to languish on stage for the better part of 15 minutes, until allowed to join the discussion.

Mitt Romney was busy arguing how many jobs were, lost and gained under his CEO leisure. Newt Gingrich quoted the New York Times. Paul smoothly stepped back, blocked Santorum’s smugness by raining down: “he voted to raise the debt [ceiling] five times.”

Rick Santorum let loose liberal counter-attacks, naming sources “leftist”, and calling Mitt Romney class-consciously dangerous. In so doing, Santorum looked less Republican, more like a blue-state lawyer from the Northeast. Neither Paul nor Romney delved deep into his attacks, mostly picking up on their own strengths. Santorum was a negative force, not a positivist in this debate, Saturday night January 7th.

When Ronald Paul raised his hand for a response, the slick Stephonopilis retorted back to Paul (his senior by quite a few years): “we’ll stay with the subject, don’t you worry.” Brilliance in public debate rarely comes to the fore, especially on television. Paul showed it by counterstriking first Santorum, then defecting the attack from Rick Perry, onto Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

Jon Huntsman decided not to attack. Mitt Romney largely left the debate unscathed. Only because Ronald Paul made no concerted effort to attack the former Massachusetts blue-state Governor. It was easy for Paul to slice-down the cryptic schizophrenity of Gingrich, whose attempted slur of Ronald Paul on “style”, many see as hearnestness.


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