Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: May 13, 2010

In case you missed it: US posts 19th consecutive monthly deficit

What’s of note in this particular month’s deficit is that April, because it is the month federal income taxes are collected, usually posts a monthly surplus.  But not this one:

The United States posted an $82.69 billion deficit in April, nearly four times the $20.91 billion shortfall registered in April 2009 and the largest on record for that month, the Treasury Department said on Wednesday.

As it turns out not the last one either, although it is telling that the deficit for this April was so much larger than last – it simply demonstrates the depth of the unemployment problem.

It was twice as large as it was predicted to be. And I had to laugh at this:

For the first seven months of fiscal 2010, which ends September 30, the cumulative budget deficit totals $799.68 billion, down slightly from $802.3 billion in the comparable period of fiscal 2009.

Outlays during April rose to $327.96 billion from $218.75 billion in March and were up from $287.11 billion in April 2009. It was a record level of outlays for an April.

Department officials noted there were five Fridays in April this year, which helped account for higher outlays since most tax refunds are issued on that day.

Uh, no – there were higher outlays because government is still spending too damn much money. It wouldn’t particularly matter how many “Fridays” there were in a month if the spending was cut, would it?

The U.S. full-year deficit this year is projected at $1.5 trillion on top of a $1.4 trillion shortfall last year.

That PAY-GO thingie is impressive as hell, isn’t it?  Aren’t you glad Congressional Democrats reinstituted it?

White House budget director Peter Orszag told Reuters Insider in an interview on Wednesday that the United States must tackle its deficits quickly to avoid the kind of debt crisis that hit Greece.

More lip service from an administration that seemingly equates that with taking action.

You’re in good hands, people.




John Kerry was for off-shore drilling before he was against it

Senator’s John Kerry and Joe Lieberman introduced their 1,000 page climate change bill yesterday.  Unfortunately, “The Hill” only deals with the political aspects of the bill and doesn’t tell us much about what it contains.  Of interest was this:

The bill has the support of the Edison Electric Institute, a large trade group that represents for-profit utilities, and encouraging statements also poured in from companies including GE, although, like many, the company hedged slightly and said it “supports the process” that Kerry and Lieberman initiated.

Oil giant Shell issued a supportive statement, and Kerry also cited support from BP and ConocoPhillips. The bill’s method for addressing transportation-sector emissions is more to the liking of some refiners, who bitterly opposed the House climate change bill that passed last year.

The point, of course, is these companies are settling for the lesser of two evils.  And, of course, there’s a bit of crony capitalism thrown in for good measure.  I, on the other hand,  oppose the imposition of any carbon buying scheme (tax) until I see a lot more conclusive science saying we have a warming problem caused by CO2.

Anyway, as to the title, IBD covers that:

The bill, authored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., would let a state ban drilling within 75 miles of its coastline vs. 3 miles currently.

A state also would be able to veto neighbors’ drilling projects if a mandatory study indicated that an accident could harm the state’s economy or environment.

This is a major reversal from late ’09, when Kerry called for a bill that included “additional onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration.”

This is also not just something the John Kerry does.  This is the nature of the beast.  Reactive legislation done in hast and in the shadow of a current problem which usually ends up being poorly thought out and ends up actually doing more harm than good.  Unfortunately, that’s politics today.

The bill aims to cut carbon emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. It includes cap-and-trade programs for the manufacturing and power-generating sectors and a cap for the transportation sector.

The bill would affect about 70% of the economy, staffers said. They declined to estimate the total cost.

Of course they did – and we’ll all trust the CBO numbers when they come out too – or should we wait for V 2.0 before we agree to the cost?  Bottom line here is if the cap-and-trade program includes “manufacturing and power-generating sectors” the impact will be 100% unless you can point to a sector of our economy that doesn’t use power.

But again, this is the usual way this works – understate the impact, blow off the rebuttals and stick with your estimate hopefully bolstered by gaming the CBO.

Really though – the economy is the number one priority of the people and these yahoos are thinking it is a good idea to introduce a tax that will effect 100% of the economy based on dubious science?

There is some hope though:

A year ago, Reid said passing healthcare reform was simpler than moving an energy bill: “This may surprise some people, but I think healthcare reform is easier than all this global warming stuff.”

I sure as hell hope so.  It certainly would be fun to watch Democrats again ignore the priorities of the electorate (economy, jobs) and go after one of their favorite agenda items.  Fodder for Republicans in November – and frankly, I don’t think they have a chance of passing this before then, or, as a matter of fact, afterwards either.

So go for it Dems – you’ve hooked your electoral wagon to a team of wonderful horses – Kerry and Lieberman – and (tongue in cheek) you deserve everything this ends up getting you.



Immigration: Arizona law gets bi-partisan support

Pew Research center has one of the more interesting polls out today.  Below I note that the WSJ/NBC poll shows a majority of Americans – in fact 2/3rds – support the Arizona law.  Pew found about 59% supported it.  But they also found out that when broken down to its elements and polled on each element, more supported the elements than the overall law.  That says to me that the campaign to discredit the law has had some success.  Here are Pew’s numbers:

Note that in every one of the elements of the bill, those polled gave a higher approval rating than that which the overall bill received.  They overwhelmingly support the requirement to produce documents verifying legal status (72%).  To a little lesser extent they approve overwhelmingly that police should be allowed to detain anyone unable to verify their legal status (67%).  And finally, a solid majority are fine with allowing police to question anyone they think might be in the country illegally.

Yet when it comes to support for the overall bill in which those are the three key elements, support drops to 59% – still a solid majority, but I think indicative of the successful attempts to discredit the bill.

Another interesting thing to note when considering the politics of this issue as it pertains to the Arizona law, is both Republicans, Democrats and independents polled supported the bill components in a majority (with Dems at 50% for the last component) but only Democrats had a majority against the law as a whole:

Speaking only to the politics of this, Dems are bucking a majority trend on the issue.

Last, but not least, Pew breaks this law and it’s support by age:

Again, other than one category, each age group supports the components of the bill with the level of support rising dramatically with the age of the person polled. Unsurprisingly, the youngest among them are the least likely to support the bill overall, even while a solid majority support the first component and a slight majority supports the second.

Once more, addressing the politics, most know that the youthful demographic isn’t the most dependable on election day, while older voters do indeed turn out and vote.

Pew goes on to disagree with the WSJ/NBC news poll below showing Obama’s job approval as unchanged at 47%. It also notes that his approval rating for handling immigration is at 25. It may explain why there’s really no stomach, at least at this point, among Democrats and the administration, to address the issue.

But, as stated below, the left may be cruisn’ for a brusin’ if they keep doing to Arizona what they’ve tried to do with Tea Partiers.



Majority still support off-shore drilling

Some polls out today.  Even with the on-going oil spill in the gulf, a majority polled said off-shore drilling is something they support:

Even after the recent — and highly publicized — oil spill in the Gulf Coast, that’s the overwhelming sentiment from the public, with six in 10 Americans supporting more offshore drilling, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.In addition, a majority believes that the potential economic benefits of offshore drilling outweigh its potential harm to the environment.

“Highly publicized” doesn’t even begin to describe how the spill has been covered, yet Americans know that a) it will eventually be capped and b) drilling off-shore is vital to our economy and national interest (security).  Now that’s all said with the understanding that to this point the containment of the spill has been mostly successful and mother nature has cooperated weather-wise in keeping the spill off-shore.  My guess is those numbers might come down a bit if that changes.

Item 2 is the Arizona immigration law.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans back Arizona’s new controversial immigration law;

This is something that defies the claims of racism, bigotry and everything that the left tries to heap on Arizona. It signals a country dead tired of the status quo in immigration and if further signals an idea of how they want it handled. The left, as usual, is over reaching in their reaction and a backlash is most likely due and will come as the usual “complete surprise” to them.

Item 3 is the Times Square bombing attempt. 58% say they’re “worried this country will experience another terrorist attack”. Well duh. Of course it will – the only questions are when and how. Most likely what’s really bothering Americans is the fact that the last two attempts weren’t stopped by our designated protectors, but instead failed.

Here’s what bothered me about this part of the poll:

What’s more, a majority of Americans (52 percent) say they are willing to give up personal freedoms and civil liberties to prevent another terrorist attack.

You can’t live scared and you certainly don’t want to give up what you may not get back just to feel more secure. Again, as the last two attempts demonstrate, giving up more personal freedom and more civil liberties guarantees nothing.  And if you do the numbers, a lightning strike is probably more likely to get you than a terrorist bomb.

Last item on this particular poll? Successful demonization of Wall Street has led to a belief among the majority that financial regulation won’t go far enough to “rein in Wall Street’s excesses”.

Additionally 80% of those polled are dissatisfied with the economy, Obama’s job performance numbers are up slightly and Republicans still enjoy an “enthusiasm advantage” heading into the midterms.