Free Markets, Free People

spending

Obama caught in another falsehood

Mark Twain said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  And of course, politicians know that.  So some of them use that truism to push a lie that will help them hoping that when, if ever, the truth is told, it will be moot.  It is all about establishing a narrative and making it last long enough to benefit them.

The internet has made that ploy a lot more difficult.  But that doesn’t mean the they don’t continue to try.  Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post awards Obama’s latest falsehood their highest, or lowest depending on how you look at it, rating – four Pinocchio’s.  Kessler describes that rating with a single word: “Whoppers”.

The lies have to do with decrepit bridges and, of course, Republicans.  The great healer, the man who promised to change the way politics was practiced in Washington, falsely attacked his opposition – again:

“I sent them a jobs bill that would have put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back to work repairing our roads, our bridges, schools, transit systems, along with saving the jobs of cops and teachers and firefighters, creating a new tax cut for businesses.  They said no. I went to the Speaker’s hometown, stood under a bridge that was crumbling.  Everybody acknowledges it needs to be rebuilt. Maybe he doesn’t drive anymore.  Maybe he doesn’t notice how messed up it was. They still said no. There are bridges between Kentucky and Ohio where some of the key Republican leadership come from, where folks are having to do detours an extra hour, hour-and-a-half drive every day on their commute because these bridges don’t work.  They still said no.”

–President Obama, remarks to the Building and Construction Trades Department conference, April 30, 2012

You have to love the little veiled bits of populism he pitches in there – “maybe he doesn’t drive anymore”, as if Obama does.

The point, however, is every bit of that is baloney per Kessler:

Back in September, when President Obama first unveiled his jobs bill, we gave him Three Pinocchios for remarks he made regarding the aging Brent Spence Bridge on the Ohio River. The bridge connects Kentucky and Ohio, the home states of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and it was irresistible symbolism for the White House.

The crumbling infrastructure of the nation’s bridges is certainly an important issue, but symbolism can only go so far. The administration could never explain what, if anything, the jobs bill would do to improve the Brent Spence Bridge, especially since construction was not slated to start until 2015 — and Obama’s jobs bill would spend most of its money in its first year.

Moreover, there is a long history of bipartisan support for this project, but Obama framed it as if the Republicans were blocking its reconstruction with their opposition to his legislation.

When we heard the president’s words Monday, we feared he was slipping back into his old habits. Once again he framed it as GOP opposition to fixing the Brent Spence Bridge. But then he upped the ante by mentioning other bridges “between Kentucky and Ohio” that “don’t work.”  So what’s he talking about?

Of course the three Pinocchios awarded then didn’t slow him down a bit, did it.  I’ve always been careful when I use the word “lie” or “liar”, because of the propensity today for people to call mistakes and the like lies.  A lie is a knowing falsehood.  So, after having this “mistake" pointed out previously (and don’t ever think the White House didn’t see that previous rating), Obama doubles down and throws it out there again.  That, my friends, makes it a lie.

When the administration was confronted with the facts of the case, the usual prevarication began:

An administration official said the president was referring to the Sherman Milton Bridge, which actually connects Indiana and Kentucky, near Louisville. Back in September, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) had to shut down the bridge because a 2 ½ inch crack had been discovered.

The bridge carries Interstate 64, so the bridge’s closure forced drivers to make major changes in their driving routes. Shortly after the shutdown, a Transportation Department blog declared that this bridge was “another example of why this [the president’s jobs bill] is so crucial.”

But here’s the rub: While Obama claimed “these bridges don’t work,” the Sherman Milton Bridge has already been repaired, ahead of schedule, and motorists are driving over it again.

But again, the claim is found to be baseless.

It turned out that, rather than being an example of an aging bridge, the crack that had been discovered actually had been there ever since the bridge was constructed in 1962, because of the type of steel used at the time. Other repairs were ordered, and the bridge reopened nearly three months ago — without needing any of Obama’s jobs-bill funds.

Another nearby bridge, the Kennedy Bridge, will soon undergo redecking, but officials said the work will not lead to a shutdown. Again, the work is being done without Obama’s jobs-bill money.

The facts don’t at all support the President’s statement.  So what was the purpose of the lie?  To cast political opponents in an unfavorable light – the usual purpose of deliberate political lies.  And these were deliberate political lies.

Of course you’d think, confronted with the facts, the administration might back down a bit?  But instead they apparently thought that doubling down was the best way to go:

“The President was making a point about the need to rebuild our infrastructure and the job creation opportunities that come with that, and was pointing to Ohio River area projects to illustrate the point that these kinds of projects are right in the Congressional Republican leadership’s backyards,” the administration official said.

Yup.  And they were being handled by a bi-partisan state level coalition without a dollar of Obama’s “jobs-bill funds”.

Kinda stings, doesn’t it Mr. Obama?

Four Pinocchios.

Well done, Mr. President.  A record that may be tied but never bested.

“Forward”.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

New York Time editorial declares war on GOP [update]

I sometimes wonder what world the editorial board of the New York Times calls home.  It certainly isn’t the one the rest of us live in.  But I guess it is necessary to live in an alternative world to be able to push narratives like it pushes in an editorial today.  The NY Times has decided, to use a poker term, to go “all in” on Obama’s “right-wing extremism” and “dishonesty” meme. 

Referencing the Obama speech yesterday, the editorial board says:

Mr. Obama provided a powerful signal on Tuesday that he intends to make this election about the Republican Party’s failure to confront, what he called, “the defining issue of our time”: restoring a sense of economic security while giving everyone a fair shot, rather than enabling only a shrinking number of people to do exceedingly well. His remarks promise a tough-minded campaign that will call extremism and dishonesty by name.

Remember Obama, who’s answer to the “defining issue of our time”, submitted each of the two years (I’m talking about his budgets) has gone a collective 0-511.  That’s right, the two budgets he’s submitted to address the “defining issue of our time” hasn’t garnered a single vote in two years.  

Why?  Primarily because neither of the budgets convinced a single legislator of either party, to include the President’s own, that they addressed that issue at all.

Yet he presumes to lecture the GOP on the failure to confront this issue?  And the NYT somehow manages to buy into that nonsense?

The GOP budget at least passed the House.  The NYT presumes that no negotiations are possible because, again, it buys into the Obama claim that the GOP won’t compromise.   Nonsense.  Compromise doesn’t mean wholesale capitulation.  In an negotiation or compromise there are lines drawn over which the two parties won’t give in.  Each side has them.  The NYT and Obama, naturally, want to characterize the lack of movement as GOP intransigence.  But the Democrats are equally intransigent.  They want more money in taxes.  The GOP continues to point out that taxes aren’t the problem.  The problem is spending.

Says the NYT:

Mr. Obama has, in recent months, urged Republicans to put aside their destructive agenda. But, in this speech, he finally conceded that the party has demonstrated no interest in the values of compromise and realism. Even Ronald Reagan, who raised taxes in multiple budget deals, “could not get through a Republican primary today,” Mr. Obama said. While Democrats have repeatedly shown a willingness to cut entitlements and have agreed to trillions in domestic spending cuts, he said, Republicans won’t agree to any tax increases and, in fact, want to shower the rich with even more tax cuts.

Ronald Regan agreed to raising taxes in return for what from the Democrats?

Spending cuts.  In fact as I recall, his deal was 1 1/2 to 2 times the spending cuts to the tax increases.  Guess what never happened?

That’s right – spending cuts.

So call it a lesson learned.  What the GOP is pointing out that until the spending cuts are implemented and take effect, there is no reason to discuss revenue increases.

That’s a common sense approach that best safeguards the citizenry’s money and is based on a history that says the Democrats don’t keep their word about spending cuts.

I don’t blame the GOP for refusing to compromise on taxes.

Finally, and I’ve flipped the paragraph order in the editorial, consider the NYT lede:

President Obama’s fruitless three-year search for compromise with the Republicans ended in a thunderclap of a speech on Tuesday, as he denounced the party and its presidential candidates for cruelty and extremism. He accused his opponents of imposing on the country a “radical vision” that “is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity.”

There has been no search for compromise with President “I won”.  None.  And it is amazing to see smaller and less intrusive government being characterized as a “radical vision” that is “antithetical to our entire history”.  It is the basis of our entire history up until the welfare state came into being.

“The land of opportunity” was such because of a lack of government interference, not because of it.  Obama and the left continue to attempt to rewrite history in a manner in which they redefine the words and key phrases that characterized our nation differently than they’d like prior to the institution of the welfare state.

The radical vision is that which Obama, the NYT  and the Democrats continue to push, not the GOP.  They don’t seem to understand that the majority of the American people have come to understand that we just can’t afford their radical vision and that government control of more and more of our lives is not a “good thing”. 

If there is anyone out of touch with the American people it is Mr. 0-511. He hasn’t a clue.

And neither does the New York Times editorial board.

UPDATE: A further thought sparked by a comment by The Shark.  If compromise is what Obama and the Democrats really want, they’ve had two opportunities to actually force that or at least make the argument they attempted it.  For two years the GOP House has passed a budget.   The way the Congress works is the Senate then passes its version of the budget and the two houses of Congress get together and hash out the differences (known commonly as “compromise). 

Except the Democratically controlled Senate hasn’t passed a budget in over 1000 days.  So who isn’t interested in compromise, Mr. President?  And why aren’t you exerting a little leadership and confronting the Senate about its dereliction of duty?  If “compromise” is so all fired important to you, why are you neglecting the easiest way of forcing it?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Why “tax the rich” rarely lives up to expectations

Bruce Bartlett takes a look at Britain’s experience and a study that documents it and concludes the same is probably true for here:

The study concluded that the behavioral effect of raising the top rate was much more powerful than anticipated. Two factors in particular had a large effect on revenues.

There was a timing effect. People moved income that they anticipated receiving forward so it would be taxed before the new higher rate took effect. They also postponed the receipt of income into the future in anticipation of a change in the tax rate after the election of a new government.

Also, because the British top rate had increased above that in all other major countries except Japan, many Britons relocated in reaction. For example, 1,379 people in high-income occupations moved to Switzerland in 2010, a 29 percent increase over the previous year.

The point, of course, is those who fall in the bracket in which the tax is increased are going to do what is necessary to minimize the impact of that tax.

Human nature 101.  Consequently, the revenue projections are almost always high – and wrong.

Additionally, the Democrats like to imply that taxing the rich is a panacea for the spending problems we have.  In the name of “fairness” they imply that if the rich would only pay their “fair share” well everything would be hunky dory.  Of course we know the real problem is spending not revenue.  But regardless, the real effect of the “Buffet Rule” for instance, is negligible:

But a March 20 analysis from Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that implementation of the so-called Buffett rule, which would require those making $1 million or more a year to pay an effective federal income tax rate of at least 30 percent, would raise only $46.7 billion over the next 10 years. That’s a drop in the bucket compared with the $41.2 trillion in federal revenues expected to be collected under current law.

Note that last number and remember, this is a government which is claiming that it can’t get by on $41.2 TRILLION over 10 years.

Where again is the problem?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Deficit watch: The trillion dollar beat goes on

In case all this contraception talk has distracted you (as it surely was intended to do), you need to know that the deficit continues to grow and is on pace to go over a trillion dollars for the 4th year in a row:

The federal government set a new monthly record deficit of $232 billion in February and has notched a total of $581 billion in the first five months of the fiscal year, according to the Treasury Department’s official count released Monday.

February’s record is $8 billion more than the previous monthly record, set in February 2011, and came chiefly because of a drop in individual income tax receipts.

The overall deficit remains on pace to top $1 trillion this year for the fourth year in a row — but is down slightly from its pace last year …

Sorry to intrude with such boring reality.

Now back to “slutgate”.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Issues that unite: Opposing “tax the rich” and class warfare

Despite what Democrats thing and despite the fact that they’ve doubled down on this theme, the “tax the rich” meme of their class warfare agenda isn’t at all as popular as they think it is, as the Hill reports:

Three-quarters of likely voters believe the nation’s top earners should pay lower, not higher, tax rates, according to a new poll for The Hill.

The big majority opted for a lower tax bill when asked to choose specific rates; precisely 75 percent said the right level for top earners was 30 percent or below.

The current rate for top earners is 35 percent. Only 4 percent thought it was appropriate to take 40 percent, which is approximately the level that President Obama is seeking from January 2013 onward.

So this is another issue in which the GOP would be able to find majority support.

And on corporate taxes, much the same thing:

The Hill Poll also found that 73 percent of likely voters believe corporations should pay a lower rate than the current 35 percent, as both the White House and Republicans push plans to lower rates.

The Hill tires to argue that the results of their poll is counter to what other recent polls have found.  But in reality, it isn’t:

The new data seem to run counter to several polls that have found support for raising taxes on high-income earners. In an Associated Press-GfK poll released Friday, 65 percent said they favored President Obama’s “Buffett Rule” that millionaires should pay at least 30 percent of their income. And a Pew poll conducted in June found 66 percent of adults favored raising taxes on those making more than $250,000 as a way to tackle the deficit.

Again, note the percentage number in the AP-GfK poll – 30 percent or the percentage they’re now paying.  When you ask voters to put a tax-the-richpercentage to the nebulous “the rich should pay more” meme, you find the majority of voters consider 30% more than fair.  The fact that many may not know that the so-called “rich” are paying that amount is means the GOP needs to do a little educating and informing, but it is clear that voters find the 30% threshold to be more than enough taxation.

So while the Democrats continue to try to push 40% as “fair”, most voters don’t see it as that.  The majority of votes seem to think that fairness in the amount of taxes paid is found at the 30% level.   That’s information to exploit and use against the class warfare Democrats.

Additionally the AP-Gfk polls shows majority support for spending cuts over tax increases.  That’s a winner for the GOP.

What the GOP can’t do is allow the Democrats to take the issue and frame it as Timothy Geithner tired to do the other day:

“…the only way to achieve fiscal sustainability is through unacceptably deep cuts in benefits for middle class seniors, or unacceptably deep cuts in national security."

That’s patent nonsense, but the usual scare tactics employed when anyone talks about significant cuts in spending. Always threaten the security of a large body of voters with false choices.  There are literally thousands of different ways to work toward sustainability before either of those programs would have to be touched (and yes, those programs should be “touched” as well). 

So what do Republicans have to do?

“It might be that people are underestimating how much the rich pay now,” said Bruce Bartlett, a former Reagan adviser and Treasury official under President George H.W. Bush.

The data could indicate a challenge to Obama’s push to increase taxes on the wealthy. The White House’s fiscal 2013 budget request included a number of tax hikes targeting the nation’s wealthiest. In addition to the “Buffett Rule,” it calls for raising taxes on family income above $250,000 in 2013, and returning the top individual rate to 39.6 percent.

But as Obama continues his push to allow the higher-end Bush tax cuts to expire at the end of the year, the poll suggests it might be difficult to persuade voters to buy in when it comes to hard numbers.

Start talking hard numbers and percentages.   Point out that our problem doesn’t revolve around the “rich” not paying enough in taxes, but instead with our politicians spending money we don’t have. 

The sustainability problem has never been a problem of revenue.  It has always been a problem of overspending.  And it is that which has to stop.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

CBO forecast for 2012– another trillion dollar deficit and 8.9% unemployment

Speaking of the record compiled under the Obama administration, the CBO provides plenty of ammo for the GOP:

The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday predicted the deficit will rise to $1.08 trillion in 2012.

The office also projected the jobless rate would rise to 8.9 percent by the end of 2012, and to 9.2 percent in 2013.

That’s because it has revised its previous estimate as the GDP growth numbers for last year were revised down.

Additionally, and reading between the lines, it also means that the administration and Congress has yet to even begin to get a handle on the main problem – spending.

Of course part of that stands to reason when you take into consideration the Democratic controlled Senate hasn’t passed a budget in over 1,000 days.

The Hill, ever the master of understatement, gives you a peek at what should be obvious:

A rising deficit and unemployment rate would hamper President Obama’s reelection effort, which in recent weeks has seemed to be on stronger footing.

“Hamper"?”   It should put it in the crapper.  Or so you would think.  But then there’s the GOP primary going on, huh?

CBO Director Doug Elmendorf told reporters that Congress will have to make important choices this year regarding the supercommittee trigger and tax policy that will have huge effects on the deficit.

While unable to recommend choices, Elmendorf said that addressing the deficit sooner rather than later is easier.

The deficit was $1.4 trillion in 2009, $1.3 trillion in 2010 and $1.3 trillion in 2011. The largest deficit recorded before that was $458 billion in 2008.

Well, of course addressing the deficit sooner rather than later is a lot easier.  Haven’t we been saying that for years?  Decades?

Anyone think it will be addressed in this next year?  Consider what the CBO recommends:

The deficit will be much higher if Congress takes several actions that many expect.

If the Bush tax rates are extended, for example, the deficit would rise.

It would rise if Congress patches the Alternative Minimum Tax, which lawmakers have routinely done to prevent higher taxes from being imposed on middle class taxpayers.

It would also rise if Congress continues to pass the “doc fix” that prevents a cut to Medicare payments to doctors, something that Congress has done on a near-annual basis.

Finally, if Congress does not follow through on cuts mandated by the failure of the supercommittee, the deficit will grow. Lawmakers are already talking about canceling scheduled cuts to the Pentagon’s budget.

So, let’s see – raise taxes, lower taxes, subsidize and cut spending. Or is that last one, cut projected spending?

*sigh*

The “doc fix”, unless passed, will see Doctors leave Medicare in droves.   I certainly would if I were in their shoes.  Any guesses how that turns out?

And while the Democrats only want the “rich” to pay higher taxes, if the current tax rates (also known as the “Bush tax cut”) are allowed to revert to their prior percentages, taxes will increase 30% on everyone by 2014.  Catch 22?

The amount of money the federal government takes out of the U.S. economy in taxes will increase by more than 30 percent between 2012 and 2014, according to the Budget and Economic Outlook published today by the CBO.

At the same time, according to CBO, the economy will remain sluggish, partly because of higher taxes.

You don’t say?  Stupid if you do, damned if you don’t?  Nice position we’ve gotten ourselves in, no?

And finally, sequestration will “cut” 10% across the board, to include defense which has already taken that sort of a cut.  Dangerous.

However, for the rest of the government, I expect the usual accounting tricks with no real cuts in spending if sequestration is enacted.

As for taxes increasing, the increase is fairly dramatic at a time the economy can’t absorb such increases:

The anticipated percentage increase in federal tax revenue is not only large when calculated in dollar terms but also when calculated as a share of GDP. The jump from 15.4 percent of GDP in fiscal 2011 to 20.0 percent of GDP in fiscal 2014 equals an increase of 29.8 percent. The jump from 16.3 percent in fiscal 2012 to 20.0 percent in fiscal 2014 equals an increase over two years of 22.7 percent.

Federal tax revenues have averaged “about 18 percent of GDP for the past 40 years,” according to CBO. So, in the next two years federal tax revenues will rise from a level that is below the modern historical average to a level that is above it.

Again I’m reduced to saying “what a freakin’ mess”.  When I say over and over again, “we’ve been ill served by our political class for decades”, it is this to which I point.

Yes, all of this and the never mentioned additional 200 plus trillion in unfunded future mandated liabilities that have been amassed.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Davos elite: Capitalism is the problem

That is certainly the premise at work in Davos as “political and economic elite”, who’ve served us so well to this point, meet to plot discuss modifications to capitalism.

Economic and political elites meeting this week at the Swiss resort of Davos will be asked to urgently find ways to reform a capitalist system that has been described as "outdated and crumbling."

"We have a general morality gap, we are over-leveraged, we have neglected to invest in the future, we have undermined social coherence, and we are in danger of completely losing the confidence of future generations," said Klaus Schwab, host and founder of the annual World Economic Forum.

"Solving problems in the context of outdated and crumbling models will only dig us deeper into the hole.

"We are in an era of profound change that urgently requires new ways of thinking instead of more business-as-usual," the 73-year-old said, adding that "capitalism in its current form, has no place in the world around us."

Show me “capitalism” at work somewhere, please?  Social welfare, in its current form, driven by high taxation and deficit government spending, is what “has no place in the world around us”.

The dirty little secret these “elite” won’t admit was that their premise that capitalism could forever fund their social welfare states is absolutely wrong and failing.  They’ve killed the goose that laid the golden capitalistic eggs.  It isn’t “capitalism” that is failing.  It is their social welfare system that is “outdated and crumbling”.

These are just the same people who got us into this mess trying to shift the blame from unsustainable policies founded in socialism to something which has kept their socialist utopias functioning for more years than they would have had it not been there.

And we should also be precise about what it is that has kept them stumbling along this long … a mixed economy, not capitalism.  A mixed economy which has featured less and less capitalism as the years have gone by.  Capitalism in its defined form exists in few, if any places in this world.

Margret Thatcher’s warning that the only thing wrong with socialism is you eventually run out of other people’s money has come true … again.  The agony was only prolonged because some free market mechanisms were left to at least partially function over all these decades that the Europeans (and now Americans) were constructing their little social welfare houses of cards.  The elite simply refuse to see that reality and now seek another target to which they can shift the blame.  The ultimate in “can kicking”. 

The eurozone’s failure to get a grip on its debt crisis and the spectre this is casting over the global economy will dominate discussions.

"The main issue would be the preoccupation with the global economy. There will be relatively less conversation about social responsibility and environment issues — those tend to come to the fore when the economy is doing well," John Quelch, dean of the China European International Business School, told AFP.

"The main conversation will be about a deficit of leadership in Europe as a prime problem," he added.

The deficit in leadership isn’t just found in Europe.  It is found worldwide.   And it isn’t a deficit of leadership from capitalists, but instead a deficit of leadership within the ranks of the political elite.  They continue to do or try to do the same things that have gotten us into this mess and expect different outcome.   We all know how Einstein defined such activity.

It is interesting to note, too, that the Euro elite are now ready to pitch “social responsibility (however they define that – does that mean the welfare state?) and environmental issues” over the side.

But, in fact, it is more than just that which they should be considering abandoning.  The problems they face do not find their root in a capitalist system or within capitalism itself.   In fact, capitalism could be their savior, if they only gave it an opportunity.

However, they’d also have to abandon most of the social welfare state to do so.

No, their primary problem is to be found with the institution that has attempted to control their economies and which constantly gets in the way of any capitalistic successes in the name of social justice. 

Government.   And more to the point, government spending driven by high taxes and borrowing.  It requires a deficit in intelligence not to understand that.

In essence Davos will be the elite – the social welfare elite – trying their hardest to shift blame on a system they’ve done the most to try to kill over the decades (even while using it to extend the life of their social welfare states).

Controlling government, taxation that provides disincentives to business, labor rules that prohibit firing bad employees, mandated early retirement and generous welfare benefits are not the problem of capitalism.

They are the problem of large, intrusive and socialist leaning governments.

But, apparently, that won’t be a part of the discussion in Davos.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

How out of control is government spending?

This out of control. 

Obviously what I’m about to list isn’t going to make or break us as a nation in terms of monetary outlay.  Each taken individually is but a drop in the sea of $16 trillion dollar debt we now float in.  But the fact remains that each is an indicator of why we’re in that deep of a hole.  Each points to another area where government has no business, especially spending taxpayer, or more likely borrowed money.  Or it points to an expenditure not made on its reasoned merits, but on bureaucratic inertia, lack of control or monitoring or any of a great number of reasons the payment shouldn’t have been made.  Doug Bandow provides us with the list.

Now, on with the show:

~The U.S. Agency for International Development (U.S. AID) spent $30 million to spur mango production and sales in Pakistan—and failed utterly.

Yup, mango production … in Pakistan.

~The Air Force spent $14 million to switch three radar stations to wind power; poor planning forced cancellation of one turbine and consideration of the same for the other two.

Because we all know windpower is proven and reliable.

~The Federal Aviation Administration devoted $6 million to subsidize air service at small, underused airports.

Market smarket … we’ll just create one.  Until the money runs out, of course.

~A federal grant for $765,828 went to—I am not making this up, to quote Dave Barry—bring an International House of Pancakes franchise to Washington, D.C.

Because bringing IHOPs to DC is a primary function of the United States government and worthy of every dollar spent.

~The Department for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided a $484,000 grant to build a “Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers” restaurant in Texas.

Because it is not the market’s job to decide what restaurants should exist in a certain area, it’s the job of government.

~Another HUD grant, this one for $1 million, went to a foreign architectural firm to move its headquarters from Santa Monica to Los Angeles.

Because we knew you’d want us to do it.  You need to move?  Tough cookies.

~NIH gave the University of Kentucky $175,587 to study the impact of cocaine on the sex drive of Japanese quail.

Because we’re sure Japanese quail are the next target of drug dealers.  Or something.  But this is important … important enough to up the debt over and don’t you forget it.

~The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) gave $916,567 to underwrite horse-drawn carriage exhibits and survey shipwrecks in Wisconsin.

Because, well, we couldn’t think of anything else to do with the money.

~The Oregon Cheese Guild received $50,400 to promote cheese.

Because obviously the Oregon Cheese Guild wouldn’t be able to promote cheese without this.

~Uncle Sam spent $111,000 to send brewery experts to conduct classes in China.

Because the folks making Tsing Tao obviously couldn’t handle that.

~The ever busy NSF devoted $300,000 to developing a dance program to illustrate the origins of matter.

Because without it … oh nevermind.

And my personal favorite:

~Washington helpfully gave almost $18 million in foreign aid to China—money effectively borrowed from China.

The circle is complete.  Borrowing money to give money back to the entity from which we borrowed it while still owing the balance.

Brilliant.

Your government at work.  Be sure to read the rest of the top 100 wastes of money that Sen. Tom Coburn has helpfully put together.  And remember.  They’re the top 100.  There are plenty more than just didn’t make the cut.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Was Solyndra just the tip of a failed taxpayer funded “green energy” iceberg?

It appears so.  CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson (yes the same Ms. Attkisson who has been the only reporter following up on Fast and Furious) has checked and it seems Solyndra was just one of many “green companies” which the Obama administration attempted to pick as “winners” by “investing” your money via loan guarantees:

Take Beacon Power — a green energy storage company. We were surprised to learn exactly what the Energy Department knew before committing $43 million of your tax dollars.

Documents obtained by CBS News show Standard and Poor’s had confidentially given the project a dismal outlook of "CCC-plus."

Read the documents

Asked whether he’d put his personal money into Beacon, economist Peter Morici replied, "Not on purpose."

"It’s, it is a junk bond," Morici said. "But it’s not even a good junk bond. It’s well below investment grade."

Was the Energy Department investing tax dollars in something that’s not even a good junk bond? Morici says yes.

"This level of bond has about a 70 percent chance of failing in the long term," he said.

In fact, Beacon did go bankrupt two months ago and it’s unclear whether taxpayers will get all their money back. And the feds made other loans when public documents indicate they should have known they could be throwing good money after bad.

That’s one.  But there are more:

Others are also struggling with potential problems. Nevada Geothermal — a home state project personally endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid –  warns of multiple potential defaults in new SEC filings reviewed by CBS News. It was already having trouble paying the bills when it received $98.5 million in Energy Department loan guarantees.

SunPower landed a deal linked to a $1.2 billion loan guarantee last fall, after a French oil company took it over. On its last financial statement, SunPower owed more than it was worth. On its last financial statement, SunPower owed more than it was worth. SunPower’s role is to design, build and initially operate and maintain the California Valley Solar Ranch Project that’s the subject of the loan guarantee.

First Solar was the biggest S&P 500 loser in 2011 and its CEO was cut loose – even as taxpayers were forced to back a whopping $3 billion in company loans.

Anyone – does the Constitution have a “venture capitalist” clause in it that we somehow missed?  Is it the job of our government to pick winners and losers in a market using taxpayer dollars?

Well according to the brilliant Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy, no politics were involved in any of this.  But:

Nobody from the Energy Department would agree to an interview. Last November at a hearing on Solyndra, Energy Secretary Steven Chu strongly defended the government’s attempts to bolster America’s clean energy prospects. "In the coming decades, the clean energy sector is expected to grow by hundreds of billions of dollars," Chu said. "We are in a fierce global race to capture this market."

The government is blowing it big time.  Why?  Because, despite Chu’s claim, it is all about politics.  And ideology. 

In fact this administration has no trust in markets to develop the technology they desire so they’re sold on the idea that the central government should be used to facilitate their ideology.  And that is precisely what this is all about.  Solyndra, Beacon Power, Nevada Geothermal, SunPower and First Solar are just failed indicators of the bankruptcy of their approach.  Given a treasury and the ability to spend money almost unchecked, they’ve committed to implementing their ideology on the back of taxpayers.  And, unsurprisingly, they’re failing miserably.

But we’re assumed to be so dumb we can’t see through their political scheme.

Unfortunately, as it has been for quite some time, no one will be held accountable for this fiasco that has cost us billions in money we simply don’t have.   If anyone ever wanted a case study of how out-of-control and outside the Constitutional box government has become, the failed “green energy” sector loan program provides the perfect scenario.

Meanwhile, in Canada:

Canada is now looking to Asian countries to market its abundance of oil, natural gas and minerals as plans to build the proposed Keystone XL pipeline have stalled with the U.S. administration.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will travel to China next month to discuss selling Canada’s bounty to the rapidly growing nation.

The preferred initial plan was to build the $7 billion Keystone pipeline to deliver Alberta’s oilsands crude to refineries in Texas on the Gulf of Mexico.

Harper reasoned that the U.S. government would prefer to deal with a friendly neighbor to help meet its energy needs while creating thousands of jobs.

With widespread opposition by U.S. environmentalists, the Obama administration has delayed its decision on whether to approve the project proposed by energy giant TransCanada Pipelines.

The new plan would market to China and Asian countries through the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline that would transport Alberta’s oil and natural gas to British Columbia for shipment by tankers.

Yup, no politics at all.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO