Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: March 2010

CBO: Debt will be 90% of GDP by 2020

I’m sure this is a CBO report (the “gold standard” remember) that Democrats and the administration will try to ignore.  Especially since adding to the debt so significantly with ObamaCare.

President Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget will generate nearly $10 trillion in cumulative budget deficits over the next 10 years, $1.2 trillion more than the administration projected, and raise the federal debt to 90 percent of the nation’s economic output by 2020, the Congressional Budget Office reported Thursday.

In its 2011 budget, which the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released Feb. 1, the administration projected a 10-year deficit total of $8.53 trillion. After looking it over, CBO said in its final analysis, released Thursday, that the president’s budget would generate a combined $9.75 trillion in deficits over the next decade.

Of course that’s a static assessment that assumes nothing changes over the next few years.  Or said another way, if left to their devices, this is precisely what Democrats and this administration plan for our future.  And all the denial in the world won’t change that.  This is a plan for fiscal ruin.

To put it in a more easily understandable context:

The federal public debt, which was $6.3 trillion ($56,000 per household) when Mr. Obama entered office amid an economic crisis, totals $8.2 trillion ($72,000 per household) today, and it’s headed toward $20.3 trillion (more than $170,000 per household) in 2020, according to CBO’s deficit estimates.

That figure would equal 90 percent of the estimated gross domestic product in 2020, up from 40 percent at the end of fiscal 2008. By comparison, America’s debt-to-GDP ratio peaked at 109 percent at the end of World War II, while the ratio for economically troubled Greece hit 115 percent last year.

So, is it time to demand those calling the path we’re on “unsustainable” (i.e. Timothy Geithner, Barack Obama  and the Democratic Congress) to put up or shut up?  As usual, we continue to hear Democrats blather on about PAYGO, but we continue to see them ignore it in legislation they pass.  It appears, given the budget numbers, they also plan to ignore it in the future – wouldn’t you say?

Look at that per household figure from 2008.  It was already outrageous and yet within the next 10 years they plan on tripling it to $172,000. 

Anyone have any idea of the effect such debt will have on our economy?

For countries with debt-to-GDP ratios “above 90 percent, median growth rates fall by 1 percent, and average growth falls considerably more,” according to a recent research paper by economists Kenneth S. Rogoff of Harvard and Carmen M. Reinhart of the University of Maryland.

Hey, when you have the fiscal policy of Greece or Argentina, what do you suppose the end result might be?


The BFD – its first week

So, how is ObamaCare being greeted by the real world since it was signed into law Tuesday?  Well, pretty much as expected by those who were paying attention (and that wouldn’t include the unicorns and moon pony crowd).  For instance, employees at Verizon were greeted with a statement by the company explaining its interpretation of the law and what that would mean in terms of future coverage:

In an email titled “President Obama Signs Health Care Legislation” sent to all employees Tuesday night, the telecom giant warned that “we expect that Verizon’s costs will increase in the short term.” While executive vice president for human resources Marc Reed wrote that “it is difficult at this point to gauge the precise impact of this legislation,” and that ObamaCare does reflect some of the company’s policy priorities, the message to workers was clear: Expect changes for the worse to your health benefits as the direct result of this bill, and maybe as soon as this year.

You may recall that Caterpillar said that the bill would cost them $100 million more in health care coverage in the first year alone. That ought to make them highly competitive.

Verizon is also being punished for offering retirees health benefits:

Mr. Reed specifically cited a change in the tax treatment of retiree health benefits. When Congress created the Medicare prescription drug benefit in 2003, it included a modest tax subsidy to encourage employers to keep drug plans for retirees, rather than dumping them on the government. The Employee Benefit Research Institute says this exclusion—equal to 28% of the cost of a drug plan—will run taxpayers $665 per person next year, while the same Medicare coverage would cost $1,209.

In a $5.4 billion revenue grab, Democrats decided that this $665 fillip should be subject to the ordinary corporate income tax of 35%. Most consulting firms and independent analysts say the higher costs will induce some companies to drop drug coverage, which could affect about five million retirees and 3,500 businesses. Verizon and other large corporations warned about this outcome.

Or, instead of discouraging employers from dumping retirees on the government, the new plan encourages it and essentially punishes those who don’t. In fact, you could say that the entire bill encourages companies to dump employee coverage. If they’re of a certain size and don’t offer coverage, they are fined $750 per employee. Compare that to the thousands of dollars in cost for coverage plus the expense of administering an employee health insurance program. If you’re running a company in an economy mired in recession, what is one of the primary things you try to do? Cut costs. You have 50 employees and you’re spending $5,000 each on health insurance or $250,000 plus the cost of administration of the program. You can dump it all and pay a fine of $37,500. What would you do?

Oh, and there’s this little goodie to encourage companies to act quickly:

U.S. accounting laws also require businesses to immediately restate their earnings in light of the higher tax burden on their long-term retiree health liabilities. This will have a big effect on their 2010 earnings.

Of course it will. And that will have a significant impact on the economy and first quarter earnings.

Some companies, however, have an alternate plan:

Consumers Energy, a Michigan gas and electric company with 2.9 million customers, said it will not take a big first-quarter charge because, like most utility companies, it can try to recover the added costs from its customers through rate hikes.

The increased costs are going to be paid by someone – customer, taxpayers – it’s all the same in the end.

And that’s pretty much where the states are right now as well. South Carolina just tallied up its new unfunded mandate:

The expansion represents a 4.4 percent increase in the $20.9 billion the state would have spent on Medicaid during that nine-year period, adding roughly $100 million a year to the state’s costs.

The state is looking at a 1 billion dollar shortfall next year – the unfunded mandate adds $914 million to the shortfall over the next 10 years. Any guess who will end up paying for that?

It should be clear, given the Verizon info that the intent is to move people off employer based insurance and on to something else. I’ve always been a proponent of individual health insurance purchased by families individually in a free and competitive insurance market like we do any other insurance product. It immediately solves the portability problem and it drives cost down. What we’re seeing here is a manipulation of tax code pointed at effectively ending employer insurance programs but with a different aim in mind – single-payer government run insurance.

The intent to again offer legislation to establish an public option, voiced by Harry Reid and House Democrats makes that point rather clearly. Democrats will try to pass that before November – bet on it. Should they succeed, then all the parts would be in place to move in that desired direction. Meanwhile, unsurprisingly the promise of “if you like your plan and if you like your doctor you can keep them” appears to be a hollow one. The law incentivizes drastic changes in plans to avoid costs and taxes and in many cases, it is clearly smarter for a business to dump health care coverage altogether.

As for 95% of us not seeing a dime in new taxes – that too was a load of nonsense as most of us knew. Unless you live in the 57th state where none of this has any impact, the new unfunded mandates promise increased taxes – states, unlike the federal government can’t print money and thus have to either cut spending or increase taxes. Since the increased spending is being mandated, it leaves them little choice, does it?


The Kangaroo is Still Hopping

Bruce mentioned yesterday that the 5-year note auction drew thin demand, with a low bid-to-cover ratio, and a steep drop in indirect buyers.  This led to a jump in interest rates for both the Fives and the Tens also went up by 13 basis points.  meanwhile, investors began moving into corporate paper, instead of treasuries.

I also note that this week saw weaker than expected durable goods orders, atrocious new home sales, and initial unemployment claims still at 442k–which is better than it was last week, but not great.

The “recovery”, apparently is still on pretty shaky ground.

Meanwhile, the new health care reform law attempts to shift a bunch of spending via Medicaid to the states, who are not really in a position to cover those costs, as state tax revenues have sharply declined from 2007.

In short, with a weak economy, we are planning on adding what may be as much as $2 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years–deficits that are already at $1 trillion per year as far as the eye can see.  How neatly that coincides with the announcement that Social Security will run into the red this fiscal year, paying more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes, six years earlier than previously expected.

So, we got that going for us.

The United States is supposed to be the richest country in the world.  But, on our present fiscal course, that cognomen will not attain in a very few years.  We simply will not have enough money to service the debt load we will be carrying.  In a very real sense, it doesn’t matter whether the Republicans can win in November and repeal the HCR law just passed.  Or Cap & Trade.  Or Medicare Part D.  Or whatever.

We are directly on course to having to run massive inflation by monetizing the debt, or to simply defaulting on it, both of which will result in massively high interest rates, and economic stagnation. With the added bonus of runaway inflation, for good measure.

That this will happen cannot be in serious doubt if we continue our present course. Our fiscal and monetary policies are self-evidently unsustainable.

I can only presume that the Democrats believe that, at the appropriate time, fairies will appear out of thin air to sprinkle magical pixie dust on the economy, and all will be well.  The current raft of policies they are proposing to enact will crush the economy.  We’ve seen it happen time and again in South America, and now even in the EU, in which the Greeks are headed for a default in the very near future.

What is coming out of Washington is not policy.  it is full-scale flight from reality.

The Twins: A Czech Sa Vz 58 Review

A matching brace of Czech-made SA VZ 58 rifles

A matching brace of Czech-made SA VZ 58 rifles

You may remember me writing some time back about my disappointment in the horribly made and extremely jam-prone M1 Carbines that I purchased for Chris and I last year.  Horrible rifles.  Shoddily made.  I’ll never buy anything from Kahr again.

But, I did need replacements for them, and those replacements have arrived, and are all kitted out–while still being California-legal.

The rifles are Czechoslovalkian Sa Vz 58 civilian rifles.  The handguards, grips, and buttstock are aftermarket accessories from Israeli Arms, who make a complete tactical package–several of them, actually, for the VZ 58.   The accessories are all polymer, and are made to what seems to be a very high level of quality and craftsmanship.  When it comes to stuff for guns, you gotta hand it to those Israelis, boy.

Unlike most other states, unfortunately, California has very restrictive–and quite stupid–firearms laws regarding rifles. According to the California Penal Code:

12276.1 (a) Notwithstanding Section 12276 [which contains a list of specifically prohibited models of rifle, such as the AK-series rifles], “assault weapon” shall also mean any of the following:

(1) A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any one of the following:

(A) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon.

(B) A thumbhole stock.

(C) A folding or telescoping stock.

(D) A grenade launcher or flare launcher.

(E) A flash suppressor.

(F) A forward pistol grip.

(2) A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.

(3) A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has an overall length of less than 30 inches.

Alas, the California version of the VZ 58 has a fixed, 10-round magazine (any rifle or pistol magazines, fixed or removable, with a capacity greater than 10 rounds are strictly prohibited in California), and the overall length, with the stock fully collapsed, is 32.5″.

Top view of the Rifle, with the stripper clip guide visible at the front of the bold carrier assembly

Top view of the Rifle, with the stripper clip guide visible at the front of the bold carrier assembly

The “foregrip” is actually a bipod, as you can see. And the magazine accepts loading from the same stripper clips that the SKS uses.

You may notice that the rifle has a very AK-like look, but that’s entirely coincidental.  When the Soviets demanded that all Warsaw Pact countries standardize around the 7.62x39mm intermediate rifle cartridge, the Czechs were unamused, since they had an inordinate fondness for the 7.62x51mm round.  Apparently, the Czechs believe that when they  shoot you, you should know you’ve been shot.  Or, maybe, never know at all.

The Czechs were also unamused by the idea that the demand to switch to the AK round also came with the Soviet expectation that their client states would also buy the rifle that chambered it, the AK-47.  The Czechs have had a world-class reputation as gunmakers for centuries, and they were unimpressed by the AK.  So, they accepted the ammo requirement, then let the world-famous Brno arms factory produce a rifle to fire it, the Sa Vz 58.  Other than the cartridge, and a similar gas piston/op rod mechanism, the rifles are completely different.  No parts are interchangeable with the AK.  The parts are all CNC-machined, instead of stamped.  It fires from the closed-bolt position.

Ejection port open, bolt locked to the rear

Ejection port open, bolt locked to the rear

Unlike the AK, it is not a side-ejecting rifle.  Instead, the bolt carrier exposes a huge, honkin’ “ejection port”, which is actually about half of the upper receiver.  I can’t even imagine how you’d get a stovepipe or ejection jam.

The gas piston is in a separate chamber from the  short operating rod, very similar to the SKS gas system, so the receiver is isolated from gas system.  The chamber and barrel, by the way, are also chrome-lined.

Another nice feature is the design of the safety, which pokes down below the receiver.  This means that, even in total darkness, you can feel that the safety is engaged as soon as you grasp the pistol grip.  Flock it up with your trigger finger, and you’re ready to rock and roll.  In a safe and approved manner.

The sling is also from Israeli Arms.  It’s the tactical sling the Israeli Army uses so you hang the weapon across your chest, and bring it up to firing position, if needed, in about a second.

It’s about as accurate as any rifle firing the 7.62×39 round can be, with low recoil, and decently fast target aquisition, especially with a reflex sight mounted on the picatinny rails on the top of the forward handguard.  It’s really a hoot to shoot.

It’s reasonably priced, built like a tank, and is still about 1.5 pounds lighter than the AK.

It’s really a very nice rifle, and I highly recommend it, especially for those of you who don’t like the AK, but who despise the lightweight round and nasty direct-impingement gas system of the AR15-series rifles.

Perhaps HCR is a jobs bill

I do love it when government simplifies things. Like all these new boards and commissions in the new law:

1. Grant program for consumer assistance offices (Section 1002, p. 37)
2. Grant program for states to monitor premium increases (Section 1003, p. 42)
3. Committee to review administrative simplification standards (Section 1104, p. 71)
4. Demonstration program for state wellness programs (Section 1201, p. 93)
5. Grant program to establish state Exchanges (Section 1311(a), p. 130)
6. State American Health Benefit Exchanges (Section 1311(b), p. 131)
7. Exchange grants to establish consumer navigator programs (Section 1311(i), p. 150)
8. Grant program for state cooperatives (Section 1322, p. 169)
9. Advisory board for state cooperatives (Section 1322(b)(3), p. 173)
10. Private purchasing council for state cooperatives (Section 1322(d), p. 177)
11. State basic health plan programs (Section 1331, p. 201)
12. State-based reinsurance program (Section 1341, p. 226)
13. Program of risk corridors for individual and small group markets (Section 1342, p. 233)
14. Program to determine eligibility for Exchange participation (Section 1411, p. 267)
15. Program for advance determination of tax credit eligibility (Section 1412, p. 288)
16. Grant program to implement health IT enrollment standards (Section 1561, p. 370)
17. Federal Coordinated Health Care Office for dual eligible beneficiaries (Section 2602, p. 512)
18. Medicaid quality measurement program (Section 2701, p. 518)
19. Medicaid health home program for people with chronic conditions, and grants for planning same (Section 2703, p. 524)
20. Medicaid demonstration project to evaluate bundled payments (Section 2704, p. 532)
21. Medicaid demonstration project for global payment system (Section 2705, p. 536)
22. Medicaid demonstration project for accountable care organizations (Section 2706, p. 538)
23. Medicaid demonstration project for emergency psychiatric care (Section 2707, p. 540)
24. Grant program for delivery of services to individuals with postpartum depression (Section 2952(b), p. 591)
25. State allotments for grants to promote personal responsibility education programs (Section 2953, p. 596)
26. Medicare value-based purchasing program (Section 3001(a), p. 613)
27. Medicare value-based purchasing demonstration program for critical access hospitals (Section 3001(b), p. 637)
28. Medicare value-based purchasing program for skilled nursing facilities (Section 3006(a), p. 666)
29. Medicare value-based purchasing program for home health agencies (Section 3006(b), p. 668)
30. Interagency Working Group on Health Care Quality (Section 3012, p. 688)
31. Grant program to develop health care quality measures (Section 3013, p. 693)
32. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Section 3021, p. 712)
33. Medicare shared savings program (Section 3022, p. 728)
34. Medicare pilot program on payment bundling (Section 3023, p. 739)
35. Independence at home medical practice demonstration program (Section 3024, p. 752)
36. Program for use of patient safety organizations to reduce hospital readmission rates (Section 3025(b), p. 775)
37. Community-based care transitions program (Section 3026, p. 776)
38. Demonstration project for payment of complex diagnostic laboratory tests (Section 3113, p. 800)
39. Medicare hospice concurrent care demonstration project (Section 3140, p. 850)
40. Independent Payment Advisory Board (Section 3403, p. 982)
41. Consumer Advisory Council for Independent Payment Advisory Board (Section 3403, p. 1027)
42. Grant program for technical assistance to providers implementing health quality practices (Section 3501, p. 1043)
43. Grant program to establish interdisciplinary health teams (Section 3502, p. 1048)
44. Grant program to implement medication therapy management (Section 3503, p. 1055)
45. Grant program to support emergency care pilot programs (Section 3504, p. 1061)
46. Grant program to promote universal access to trauma services (Section 3505(b), p. 1081)
47. Grant program to develop and promote shared decision-making aids (Section 3506, p. 1088)
48. Grant program to support implementation of shared decision-making (Section 3506, p. 1091)
49. Grant program to integrate quality improvement in clinical education (Section 3508, p. 1095)
50. Health and Human Services Coordinating Committee on Women’s Health (Section 3509(a), p. 1098)
51. Centers for Disease Control Office of Women’s Health (Section 3509(b), p. 1102)
52. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Office of Women’s Health (Section 3509(e), p. 1105)
53. Health Resources and Services Administration Office of Women’s Health (Section 3509(f), p. 1106)
54. Food and Drug Administration Office of Women’s Health (Section 3509(g), p. 1109)
55. National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council (Section 4001, p. 1114)
56. Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health (Section 4001(f), p. 1117)
57. Prevention and Public Health Fund (Section 4002, p. 1121)
58. Community Preventive Services Task Force (Section 4003(b), p. 1126)
59. Grant program to support school-based health centers (Section 4101, p. 1135)
60. Grant program to promote research-based dental caries disease management (Section 4102, p. 1147)
61. Grant program for States to prevent chronic disease in Medicaid beneficiaries (Section 4108, p. 1174)
62. Community transformation grants (Section 4201, p. 1182)
63. Grant program to provide public health interventions (Section 4202, p. 1188)
64. Demonstration program of grants to improve child immunization rates (Section 4204(b), p. 1200)
65. Pilot program for risk-factor assessments provided through community health centers (Section 4206, p. 1215)
66. Grant program to increase epidemiology and laboratory capacity (Section 4304, p. 1233)
67. Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (Section 4305, p. 1238)
68. National Health Care Workforce Commission (Section 5101, p. 1256)
69. Grant program to plan health care workforce development activities (Section 5102(c), p. 1275)
70. Grant program to implement health care workforce development activities (Section 5102(d), p. 1279)
71. Pediatric specialty loan repayment program (Section 5203, p. 1295)
72. Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Program (Section 5204, p. 1300)
73. Allied Health Loan Forgiveness Program (Section 5205, p. 1305)
74. Grant program to provide mid-career training for health professionals (Section 5206, p. 1307)
75. Grant program to fund nurse-managed health clinics (Section 5208, p. 1310)
76. Grant program to support primary care training programs (Section 5301, p. 1315)
77. Grant program to fund training for direct care workers (Section 5302, p. 1322)
78. Grant program to develop dental training programs (Section 5303, p. 1325)
79. Demonstration program to increase access to dental health care in underserved communities (Section 5304, p. 1331)
80. Grant program to promote geriatric education centers (Section 5305, p. 1334)
81. Grant program to promote health professionals entering geriatrics (Section 5305, p. 1339)
82. Grant program to promote training in mental and behavioral health (Section 5306, p. 1344)
83. Grant program to promote nurse retention programs (Section 5309, p. 1354)
84. Student loan forgiveness for nursing school faculty (Section 5311(b), p. 1360)
85. Grant program to promote positive health behaviors and outcomes (Section 5313, p. 1364)
86. Public Health Sciences Track for medical students (Section 5315, p. 1372)
87. Primary Care Extension Program to educate providers (Section 5405, p. 1404)
88. Grant program for demonstration projects to address health workforce shortage needs (Section 5507, p. 1442)
89. Grant program for demonstration projects to develop training programs for home health aides (Section 5507, p. 1447)
90. Grant program to establish new primary care residency programs (Section 5508(a), p. 1458)
91. Program of payments to teaching health centers that sponsor medical residency training (Section 5508(c), p. 1462)
92. Graduate nurse education demonstration program (Section 5509, p. 1472)
93. Grant program to establish demonstration projects for community-based mental health settings (Section 5604, p. 1486)
94. Commission on Key National Indicators (Section 5605, p. 1489)
95. Quality assurance and performance improvement program for skilled nursing facilities (Section 6102, p. 1554)
96. Special focus facility program for skilled nursing facilities (Section 6103(a)(3), p. 1561)
97. Special focus facility program for nursing facilities (Section 6103(b)(3), p. 1568)
98. National independent monitor pilot program for skilled nursing facilities and nursing facilities (Section 6112, p. 1589)
99. Demonstration projects for nursing facilities involved in the culture change movement (Section 6114, p. 1597)
100. Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (Section 6301, p. 1619)
101. Standing methodology committee for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (Section 6301, p. 1629)
102. Board of Governors for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (Section 6301, p. 1638)
103. Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund (Section 6301(e), p. 1656)
104. Elder Justice Coordinating Council (Section 6703, p. 1773)
105. Advisory Board on Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation (Section 6703, p. 1776)
106. Grant program to create elder abuse forensic centers (Section 6703, p. 1783)
107. Grant program to promote continuing education for long-term care staffers (Section 6703, p. 1787)
108. Grant program to improve management practices and training (Section 6703, p. 1788)
109. Grant program to subsidize costs of electronic health records (Section 6703, p. 1791)
110. Grant program to promote adult protective services (Section 6703, p. 1796)
111. Grant program to conduct elder abuse detection and prevention (Section 6703, p. 1798)
112. Grant program to support long-term care ombudsmen (Section 6703, p. 1800)
113. National Training Institute for long-term care surveyors (Section 6703, p. 1806)
114. Grant program to fund State surveys of long-term care residences (Section 6703, p. 1809)
115. CLASS Independence Fund (Section 8002, p. 1926)
116. CLASS Independence Fund Board of Trustees (Section 8002, p. 1927)
117. CLASS Independence Advisory Council (Section 8002, p. 1931)
118. Personal Care Attendants Workforce Advisory Panel (Section 8002(c), p. 1938)
119. Multi-state health plans offered by Office of Personnel Management (Section 10104(p), p. 2086)
120. Advisory board for multi-state health plans (Section 10104(p), p. 2094)
121. Pregnancy Assistance Fund (Section 10212, p. 2164)
122. Value-based purchasing program for ambulatory surgical centers (Section 10301, p. 2176)
123. Demonstration project for payment adjustments to home health services (Section 10315, p. 2200)
124. Pilot program for care of individuals in environmental emergency declaration areas (Section 10323, p. 2223)
125. Grant program to screen at-risk individuals for environmental health conditions (Section 10323(b), p. 2231)
126. Pilot programs to implement value-based purchasing (Section 10326, p. 2242)
127. Grant program to support community-based collaborative care networks (Section 10333, p. 2265)
128. Centers for Disease Control Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
129. Health Resources and Services Administration Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
130. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
131. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
132. Food and Drug Administration Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
133. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (Section 10334, p. 2272)
134. Grant program to promote small business wellness programs (Section 10408, p. 2285)
135. Cures Acceleration Network (Section 10409, p. 2289)
136. Cures Acceleration Network Review Board (Section 10409, p. 2291)
137. Grant program for Cures Acceleration Network (Section 10409, p. 2297)
138. Grant program to promote centers of excellence for depression (Section 10410, p. 2304)
139. Advisory committee for young women’s breast health awareness education campaign (Section 10413, p. 2322)
140. Grant program to provide assistance to provide information to young women with breast cancer (Section 10413, p. 2326)
141. Interagency Access to Health Care in Alaska Task Force (Section 10501, p. 2329)
142. Grant program to train nurse practitioners as primary care providers (Section 10501(e), p. 2332)
143. Grant program for community-based diabetes prevention (Section 10501(g), p. 2337)
144. Grant program for providers who treat a high percentage of medically underserved populations (Section 10501(k), p. 2343)
145. Grant program to recruit students to practice in underserved communities (Section 10501(l), p. 2344)
146. Community Health Center Fund (Section 10503, p. 2355)
147. Demonstration project to provide access to health care for the uninsured at reduced fees (Section 10504, p. 2357)
148. Demonstration program to explore alternatives to tort litigation (Section 10607, p. 2369)
149. Indian Health demonstration program for chronic shortages of health professionals (S. 1790, Section 112, p. 24)*
150. Office of Indian Men’s Health (S. 1790, Section 136, p. 71)*
151. Indian Country modular component facilities demonstration program (S. 1790, Section 146, p. 108)*
152. Indian mobile health stations demonstration program (S. 1790, Section 147, p. 111)*
153. Office of Direct Service Tribes (S. 1790, Section 172, p. 151)*
154. Indian Health Service mental health technician training program (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 173)*
155. Indian Health Service program for treatment of child sexual abuse victims (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 192)*
156. Indian Health Service program for treatment of domestic violence and sexual abuse (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 194)*
157. Indian youth telemental health demonstration project (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 204)*
158. Indian youth life skills demonstration project (S. 1790, Section 181, p. 220)*
159. Indian Health Service Director of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment (S. 1790, Section 199B, p. 258)*
[*Section 10221, page 2173 of H.R. 3590 deems that S. 1790 shall be deemed as passed with certain amendments.]

So get those resumes ready for submission – maybe you too can be a part of the “Indian youth telemental health demonstration project”.


Entitlement irony, agenda priority

Just as the Democrats add another massive new entitlement to the laws of the land, one of the oldest entitlements “officially” goes into the red:

This year, the system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes, an important threshold it was not expected to cross until at least 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Stephen C. Goss, chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, said that while the Congressional projection would probably be borne out, the change would have no effect on benefits in 2010 and retirees would keep receiving their checks as usual.

The problem, he said, is that payments have risen more than expected during the downturn, because jobs disappeared and people applied for benefits sooner than they had planned. At the same time, the program’s revenue has fallen sharply, because there are fewer paychecks to tax.

Three things to be gleaned from this excerpt. 1) CBO numbers are static numbers based on nothing changing over the years in which their “scoring” takes place. Obviously that’s not reality and the CBO numbers for health care reform will prove that again soon. 2) Democrats will have to eat their words about Social Security being solvent and not in trouble. Many of the same one’s who made that claim recently also gave you the “numbers” in the health care bill scored by the CBO. And finally, 3) this isn’t a can Obama can kick down the road is it?

Not that he won’t try.

Because according to the NY Times, Cap-and-trade is the next legislative item the administration wants Congress to act upon.

Jobs?  The economy?

What in the world are you smoking – they don’t give a rip about jobs, the economy or you. There’s an agenda at stake here. The window’s closing fast. And what the citizens of America need or want aren’t important right now. Don’t believe me? Read the article cited above – it’s another economy killing tax slated for an April introduction into the legislative process.

Are the scales perhaps beginning to fall from a few eyes yet?


Anger, fear, whining and inflaming

Apparently “death threats” have picked up since Democrats in the House passed the Senate health care reform bill (however, the death threats against Jim Bunning for trying to make sure the Democrats used PAYGO for the jobs bill seemingly weren’t worthy of news coverage).  I don’t condone them, but I can certainly understand the anger that might drive an increase in such threats.  The left has been trying to wave off the anger their meddling in health care has brought on by describing those who’ve protested their health care takeover as everything from thugs to racists to brownshirts.  The opposition has been insulted and ignored at every turn.  And now those that have done that are apparently surprised at the level of vitriol they’re receiving?

Here’s a clue as to why they continue to receive it:

Where was this goof when the left was engaged in protests every bit as pointed against George Bush? Why wasn’t he pontificating then? Why wasn’t he applying this standard to those protesters? Was he “aiding and abetting” them? You bet he was. When he says he’s seen this before it’s much more recently than he’d like you to believe – and, according to his own standard, he’s as much a “terrorist” as are the health care protesters.

This is the left in full flower. Anyone who believes that the Clyburns of the world have any respect at all for the common man’s preferences or a difference of opinion just haven’t been watching them at work for as long as I have. Demonize and divide is their mantra and they’re quite good at deploying it.

Dissent is no longer the highest form of patriotism, folks – it’s “terrorism”. Please excuse the use of insulting language, but idiots like James Clyburn are the reason the anger in this country remains high and is still building. Loud mouth hacks like this jerk trade in fear and lies and then have the temerity to suggest that it is “terrorism” to react to their abuses by protesting. In fact, there’s nothing more American than to protest.

If ignorance and arrogance were nickles and dimes, Clyburn and those like him would be rich. As it is, the country is terribly ill served by them. We all know there are those who go too far on both sides. Adults take that into consideration when they consider a protest movement. They usually focus on the reason for the protests – that is if they’re actually interested in why the protests exist – and try to assess the credibility of their arguments. They attempt to cool the rhetoric and the situation. Political hacks use such incidents to try to falsely tar the entire movement so they can ignore and dismiss it. That’s what the Democratic leadership has tried to do from the first townhall meeting that dissenters attended. Discredit, demonize, insult and ignore. Political hacks also inflame such situations.

If there’s anything that is clear in the video above, Clyburn is using purposefully inflammatory language to characterize all protesters. He should be ashamed of calling other Americans terrorists for protesting his abuse of power. He’d probably tell you he was angry. Well what in the hell does he suppose those he’s now demonized were if they were motivated enough to show up and protest as he and 218 others voted to strip them of even more of their freedom?

Politics ain’t bean bag, Mr. Clyburn and dissent is as American as apple pie. As someone who benefited from mass protests of Americans in the ’60s, you’d think he’d know it better than anyone, wouldn’t you? And who was it then, Mr. Clyburn, that used inflammatory language to describe the protesters?


Quote of the day – Obamacare named

Leave it to Joe Biden to name it and Charles Krauthammer to recognize it:

I think he is the man who, perhaps without intending, has given historical context to this presidency. After all, Obama sees himself as a successor to FDR and Truman, so now we have the historical procession: the New Deal, the Square Deal, and the “Big F**n Deal.”

Hereafter forever known as the BFD.  And more literally than anyone can imagine.


Treasury bonds – the canary in the coal mine?

So how did our latest treasury bond sale go.  As you read the following remember that for the seller bonds are like golf – higher is not better:

The Treasury Department sold $42 billion in 5-year notes on Wednesday at 2.605%, higher than traders had anticipated. Bidders offered to buy 2.55 times the amount debt being sold, the lowest since September. That metric of investor demand also compares to 2.74 times on average at the last four sales of the securities, all for the same amount. Indirect bidders — a class of investors that includes foreign central banks — bought 39.6% of the offering, compared to an average of 49.6% of recent sales and the lowest since July. Direct bidders, including domestic money managers, purchased another 10.8%, versus 9% on average. After the auction, yields remained sharply higher in the broader government-bond market as corporate and other higher-risk debt drew investors away from Treasurys. Yields on 10-year notes, which move inversely to prices, rose 13 basis points to 3.81%.

The question, of course, is “is this an anomoly or the beginning of a trend”? Given the financial condition of the country, the presistent warnings and threats of AAA downgrades by such ratings firms as Moodys and the forecast trillion dollar deficits for the next 10 years, I’d say its most likely the latter. In layman’s terms, our debt is getting harder and more expensive to sell.


Argentina: A cautionary tale?

Given what has happened over the last few months culminating in yesterday’s bill signing ceremony, and considering all that has happened prior to that (government ownership of car companies, TARP, etc) I sure hope I don’t hear anyone trying to claim “it couldn’t happen here”:

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner announced this week that her government intends to nationalize the country’s private pension system. If Congress approves this property grab, $30 billion in individually held retirement accounts — think 401(k)s — managed by private pension funds will become government property.

Since Congress is made up of a majority of fellow leftist Peronists, passage is almost assured. Kirchner has crafted a rather unique justification for the grab:

Mrs. Kirchner justified the proposed seizure of $30 billion in pension assets by accusing the funds of having instrumented “policies of plunder.”

Of course, since she, her husband and the Peronists have been in power, the results have been far from good, but just like now, it’s the fault of something other than the government:

When the Argentine government ran out of money in 2001, it blamed the market and increased its own role in the economy. Since then it has imposed price controls, defaulted on its debt, seized dollar bank accounts, devalued the currency, nationalized businesses and tried to set confiscatory tax rates with the aim of making society more “fair.” Mrs. Kirchner and her predecessor (and husband) Nestór Kirchner have also preserved the Peronist tradition of big spending.

Some of that seems vaguely familiar. Read both articles – there’s a pattern at work there that should be recognizable elsewhere. Making everything a “crisis”. Picking fights with certain industries. Interesting reading.

Meanwhile, as you might imagine, the threat of taking over the 401(k)s has had an immediate and negative impact:

The 10 pension funds, and many depositors, are threatening lawsuits. The Argentine stock market fell 10% Wednesday, on top of Tuesday’s 10% decline. Because the private pensions are big investors in local capital markets, the proposed nationalization has raised worries the government intends to tap new pension contributions for its own needs rather than invest the money in local stocks and bonds. For fragile local markets, the move compounded the impact of the global financial crisis.

The damage was even worse in Argentina’s local debt markets. Trading volume for a key local bond market, Argentina’s Open Electronic Market, was practically zero on Wednesday compared with a normal day’s turnover of about $1 billion.

Spanish companies with assets in Argentina saw their stocks hit hard amid concerns there might be further nationalizations. Shares of oil company Repsol YPF SA fell 16%, while Spanish banks Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA and Banco Santander SA slid more than 9% each.


On Wednesday, the Toronto credit rating agency DBRS downgraded Argentina’s long-term local currency securities ratings, saying the pension nationalization amounted to “confiscation of personal assets and an infringement of property rights.” The agency said the seizure might allow Argentina to meet “its near-term financing needs more easily,” but criticized “the use of pension-fund assets for financing purposes as damaging to government credibility.”

The why? Well the reason for the grab is Argentina is “facing a $10 billion shortfall in what is due on government debt by the end of 2009.”

$10 billion due on debt? And no money available. Obviously they’re not able, like some countries, to borrow it since they’ve already defaulted once fairly recently. So, as is often the case, the citizen’s assets and priorities take second place to the government – if the government is willing to use its guns (under the very thin veneer of “law”) to take those assets and make those priorities secondary. And, apparently, in Argentina, the government is.

But with our minimal debt, projected 10 year government budget and bond rating problems, that could never happen here, could it?