Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: March 18, 2010

Style Evolves

It was time for a change, I thought.  The Statue of Liberty is a bit overused, so I thought I’d give the theme a bit of a wash and brush-up, as Group Captain Mandrake would say.  Switch the old columns around, change the typography a bit.  You know, the whole works.

A question about typography, by the way.  Is anyone working on any screen fonts other than Georgia or Verdana that look as good as far as readability at all different sizes goes?  I really don’t like the new ClearType fonts–Calibri, Candara, etc.–because their readibility sucks at anything under 10 points.  As does Arial or Helvetica, for that matter.  They really are best suited as header fonts, not body text.

We really need to find some way of getting out font preferences over the web to the readers in some way.  Right now, Verdana and Georgia really are the only two fonts that have 98%+ penetration for both PC and Mac Users, and look really good on screen for pretty much everybody.  What we really need is a way to embed whatever fonts we want to use into the site in some sort of lightweight fashion that can be transmitted to the users, in much the same way that the CSS styles are, and provide nice readability.

Somebody needs to be working on this.  I’d love to Book Antiqua this mother.


The CBO’s math and reality

The just released CBO scoring for the Senate bill and reconciliation package comes in at $940 billion over ten years.

A reminder: the benefits (i.e. spending) don’t begin until 2014. The taxation (revenue collection) begins immediately.

A true number? The CBO says the cost over the first 4 years would be $17 billion. The last 6 would equal $923 billion. So isn’t this a better representation of true cost?

$923/6*10 = $1,538 trillion or over 1.5 trillion dollars if the spending is factored evenly over the 10 years like it will be the following 10 years.

And that doesn’t include the $200 billion yearly “doc fix” which was deliberately taken out of the bill to make it seem like less spending.  Add that to their claimed “net” and see what it gets you.  It’s certainly not $794 over 10 years or any deficit reduction.

Note also the chart in the CBO report how the “net cost” is accomplished:

Taxes and penalties. Penalties on individuals and employers. Taxes on “Cadillac” plans. Question – what happens when those all dry up as revenue streams?  The scoring assumes a constant stream.  I think we all know better than that.  Of course the answer is they must find new revenue streams, i.e. new taxes (or “penalties” as they’re sure to deem them).  Additionally full into the spending curve of the plan, we’re looking at around 200 billion a year.  Over 10 years that 2 trillion dollars.

Again, remember – the CBO’s scoring assumes absolutely no changes in the bill, revenue streams or projected spending over those 10 years.  That’s absolute nonsense on a saltine cracker and we all know that.  There is no way those revenue streams remain constant, there’s no way the spending on health care – if this is enacted – won’t be increased as the bill is built upon and despite the CBO’s guess for the following 10 years in which it says it will continue to “save” money, there’s very little to support that premise.  In fact, the most telling line in the whole CBO report is this one:

Our analysis indicates that H.R. 3590, as passed by the Senate, would reduce federal budget deficits over the ensuing decade relative to those projected under current law—with a total effect during that decade that is in a broad range between one-quarter percent and one-half percent of gross domestic product (GDP).3 The imprecision of that calculation reflects the even greater degree of uncertainty that attends to it, compared with CBO’s 10-year budget estimates.

You can believe all this nonsense if you wish, but even the CBO isn’t real keen on its own calculations.  And by the way, this post isn’t a swipe at the CBO – they score what they get and do it according to the statute under which they operate.  But that doesn’t render the GIGO rule invalid.

In the meantime, the House has just passed the “Slaughter Resolution” which would allow it to “deem and pass” this monstrosity.  All 222 who voted yes were Democrats.  That means Democrats badly want cover on this thing and if they can get it, they’ll let it pass.  The House is scheduled to meet at 1pm on Sunday to do so.

If they pass it through “deem and pass”, we’ll essentially have become a Banana Republic.



Get ready for increased taxes

I’ve noted any number of times that government taxes comprise 14% of the national income and government spending is at 25% of the national income.  That’s as high as its been since WWII I believe.

The point, of course is there are three obvious choices here – cut spending to the income level (and beyond, really, if you plan on paying off debt) or increase taxes to the spending level (and beyond, again, if you plan on paying off the debt) or a combination of both.

Watching this current administration, it appears option two is in the works.  Lots of lip service about “unsustainable” spending, etc., but the only movement I’ve seen is legislation that increases that.  And, also, plans to increase taxes.

The health care bill is chock full of new taxes.  If you don’t believe it, review these two listings of the new taxes to be found in there.

Cap-and-trade, and now “Son of Cap-and-Trade” being sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham and John Kerry significantly raises taxes on utilities (which means everything will cost more for consumers).

Even the FCC is getting in the act, proposing to helpfully tax the internet – something all governments, state and local, have wanted to do for some time.  Presently 18 states have laws taxing sales on the ‘net.  The feds want to make it 50 (or 57 in Obama’s America) plus a little for Uncle Sugar.  The purported reason for such a tax is to “expand internet access”.  As Kelly Cobb wonders, how in the world do raising taxes and thus the cost of access help expand access.  In answer I offer the one word coda of this administration: redistribution.

The point of this post is to raise awareness that we are too the place where it is critical that the two numbers I’ve cited at the beginning of the post begin to move toward each other, not further away.  It appears to me that the decision has been made by this administration to move the smaller number toward the larger number via taxation.  In other words, your priorities for your income will be secondary to their desire to cover for their inept and inefficient profligacy.  And the profligacy has been committed by both parties.

It is far past time for these people who’ve committed us to this disastrous path to have their priorities reordered.  It is high time that their first priority become cuts in spending to bring that in line with their income.  Until and unless they begin that onerous and necessary job, nothing will change.  The “crisis” they’ve created will remain.  I don’t care who did it, what was “inherited” or why we’re in this shape.  That’s history.  Now is the time to do something about it before it’s too freakin’ late.  And taxing everything that moves isn’t the solution I’m talking about.

This is one of the major reasons the Tea Parties exist, for heaven sake – and any politician who isn’t yet figuring this out deserves to join the unemployment line in November.  Hopefully the anger that is driving the protests won’t abate before November (or after November for that matter) and put people in Congress (and later the White House) who understand and act on the new priority.

Until then, hold on to your wallet, because the taxes are coming and they’re going to be coming hard.



Health care reform – update

Byron York’s count has it at 209 “no”, 204 “yes”, with 18 undecided.   David Dayden at FDL puts the count at 191 “yes”, 206 “no” (205-209 with leaners), with 17 undecided.

As you can imagine, the pressure on the remaining 17 or 18 is going to be enormous. Bart Stupak claims it has been a “living hell”.

Still nothing out of the CBO which means a Saturday vote is unlikely.

Obama’s interview with Brett Baier of Fox is likely to do nothing to change minds about health care, just as his speech in Ohio had little effect. He may as well have gone to Australia as this is shaping up.  But it is clear he and the Democrats want to avoid any talk about “process” and continue to wave it away as something the American people just aren’t concerned with.  Big mistake.

And although he wouldn’t own up to it in the Baier interview, Obama has told others that the fate of his presidency is on the line with this vote.

All it took for Dennis Kucinich to cave was a 45 minute ride on Airforce One.  The liberal Ohio Democrat has found a way to rationalize his change of mind.

If you don’t think this is having an effect throughout the land, just remind yourself of the Scott Brown race, where Brown ran for liberal lion and chief health care reform advocate Teddy Kennedy’s seat as the “41st vote against health care”.  Then cast your eyes west and note that Barbara Boxer, another Senate liberal is vulnerable as well.

Speaking of California Senators, Dianne Feinstein’s “National Insurance Rate Authority” has been dropped from the reconciliation bill.  Since it has nothing to do with budgetary matters, it can’t be included.  If this monstrosity passes, look for her to attempt to add it at another time as an amendment to some other Senate bill.

And Code Red suspects two new “yes” votes for the bill, from California Democratic Reps Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa have to do with announced water allocations for the water starved Central Valley in the state.  Yesterday the Interior Department moved up the March allocation, something never done in the past.  A “back room deal” for their votes?

One of the things Baier did in his interview is question the health of Medicare.  He got the president to admit that the bill doesn’t fix the structural problems of the program.  More and more medical providers are recognizing that problem and opting out of taking Medicare patients because they claim they can’t afford them.  And if Medicare is in bad shape, Medicaid is in worse shape.  As if to emphasize that point, drug store chain Walgreens has announced that after April 16th, it will no longer take new Medicaid patients.

The point, of course, is this “reform” does nothing to address the structural problems of the two government run systems which are at the core of the health care cost problem in the US.

Last, but not least, the Attorney General of Virginia has announced the state’s intention to sue the federal government if the present health care bill is passed under the “deem and pass” rule.  Virginia has already passed a law declaring it illegal for the federal government to require individuals to purchase health insurance.