Tag Archives: economy

Poverty, Society, & Politics in America, Part I


“Unfortunately, many Americans live on the outskirts of hope…. Our task is to help replace their despair with opportunity. This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.”

President Lyndon Johnson, State of the Union, January, 1964

“Today, the poverty rate is stuck at 15 percent—the highest in a generation. And the trends are not encouraging. Federal programs are not only failing to address the Continue reading

What is this CBO?

Reprinted from Mullings.com

Over the past three weeks the Congressional Budget Office (better known as the CBO) has made a great deal of news.

First, opponents of Obamacare (of whom I am one) pointed to a report at the beginning of February in which the CBO seemed to claim that the law would cause the loss of some 2.3 million jobs over the next three years.

It appears that what the CBO really said was even worse: The jobs will be there but more than two million people will find it financially more beneficial to sit at home and watch NCIS reruns, leaving home only to get their prescriptions for medical marijuana filled. Continue reading

Market Forces Still ‘Work’ in America

Reprinted from TelemachusLeaps.com

One of the more interesting things about working on Capitol Hill was learning what big words mean when luminaries such as Alan Greenspan, Paul Volcker and just about every other famous economist or technical expert came to testify in Congress.

‘Disintermediation’ was one of those words. We heard a lot of it on the House Banking Committee when the S&L industry melted away between 1985 and 1990. We also heard a lot of it during the financial meltdown of 2008 when commentators on CNBC repeatedly talked about the threat of ‘disintermediation’ on financial giants such as Wachovia (which passed away) and Bank of America (which somehow survived, albeit with massive taxpayer-supported federal help). Continue reading

Never Forget the Dream

Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com

Originally published on The Hill.

Two analyses of the current political environment recently caught my eye and caused me to rethink the GOP’s current positioning on the economy.

The first, put out by the nonprofit group American Principles in Action, aggressively challenged the conclusion reached by a so-called “autopsy” put out by the Republican National Committee, which basically said that the Republican Party needed to appeal to more moderate voters by being less offensive to minority groups.

Instead, according to this group, “Republicans urgently need to construct a conservative economic message that connects to working and middle-class voters’ present economic concerns.” Continue reading

Take Religion Out of Economics

Reprinted from Mullings.com

I had lunch yesterday with one of the smartest guys I know, Steve Bell. Steve is a long-time Hill budget and tax expert.

I am, as you may know, arithmetically challenged.

This was largely a one-way conversation. Steve talked and I nodded, pretending to understand what he was saying. The part of the conversation I did get was this: The two parties no longer consider each other to be political opponents – each aiming for the same goal but choosing differing paths to get there.

Each of the two parties now considers the other to be not just a political enemy, but an enemy of everything the other believes in. We have traded political ideology for political religiosity. Continue reading

The Middle Class

Reprinted from Mullings.com

“U.S. President Barack Obama is using his weekly address to promote a better bargain for the middle class.”

If that were the lead of an Associated Press report we might think it deserves a closer look, but it was the lead of a press release from the Voice of America, an arm of the U.S. State Department.

Let’s look at Politico.com’s lead: “President Barack Obama sharpened his focus on the economy Wednesday, looking to breathe new life into his second-term agenda with a fresh pivot back to the issue a majority of Americans feel most acutely in their daily lives.”

Ok. We can work with that. Continue reading

Redistributionist Speaks in Illinois

Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com

That the President gave an economic speech in Galesburg, Illinois is significant, although not in the way that he might intend.

Illinois is an economic basket case. Because of the political leadership in the state, which has been dominated by the Democrats for the last decade, the land of Lincoln is the most likely big state to go belly up. Chicago, my home town, was voted most likely to follow Detroit into bankruptcy by the chattering classes.

My home state largely followed the economic philosophy of President Obama and that philosophy has largely sealed its doom. Continue reading

President Obama and the People of Galesburg


In the early 19th Century, as the country was expanding into its midsection, Chicago played second fiddle to a town 175 miles to the West. There, the Rev. George Washington Gale had founded an institution dedicated to his missionary zeal and political enlightenment called Knox College.

Galesburg, located halfway between the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers on some of the richest farmland in the world, became an early social and economic center in Illinois.

Galesburg served as the crossroads of two giant railroads, the Santa Fe and the Burlington Northern.

The railroads brought wealth and prestige to the burg, with stately homes with rich architecture and richer occupants, along wide streets paved with bricks from the local ovens. Galesburg became a hub for another railroad, the Underground Railroad that served as an escape route for slaves from the South.   Continue reading

The Right Bet on the Future

Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com

The Congressional Budget Office used dynamic scoring to predict how the immigration bill, now winding its way through Congress, would impact the deficit.

That must really piss off conservatives who have long demanded that the CBO use that scoring method (which looks beyond numbers and tries to predict future behavioral changes) to predict how tax cuts would actually bring in more revenue.

The Heritage Foundation, which has long been on the forefront of demanding that the CBO use dynamic scoring, released its own analysis a few weeks ago that came up with far different conclusions. Continue reading

Obama in Ireland

Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com

It’s good that the President and the First Family traveled to Ireland, and all of these news reports that make a federal case out of the cost are missing the point.

It is safe to say that Mr. Obama would have never made it to the White House if it weren’t for two prominent Irish Americans.

Ted Kennedy gave the Illinois Senator the critical boost he needed when he endorsed him for President. And Richie Daley, the iconic Mayor of Chicago, gave the former community organizer the backing of his machine and its critical resources to help first get to the Senate and then make the leap to bigger things. Continue reading

Protecting Chinese Oil

Reprinted from Mullings.com

According to the Washington Post, 6,648 U.S. service personnel were killed in Iraq starting in April, 2003. The vast majority of those killed, 4,588 or 69 percent were young people under the age of thirty.

I am not going to re-litigate the Iraq war today. Or, probably, ever. But I do want to point out an issue that has arisen over what has happened to all the oil in Iraq over which, according to many, we had gone to war to protect for our own use.

It didn’t work.

According to an article by reporters Tim Arango and Clifford Krauss in the New York Times over the weekend, “Since the American-led invasion of 2003, Iraq has become one of the world’s top oil producers, and China is now its biggest customer.” Continue reading

Big Momentum on Immigration Reform

Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com

Comprehensive immigration reform will get 75 votes in the Senate, making it harder for conservatives to kill it in the House.

The Senate Judiciary Committee easily brushed aside efforts from Republicans and Democrats to amend the base bill with potential poison pills, a sure sign that it has real momentum. While the markup is scheduled to go on for three more weeks, the Committee should agree to just bring the whole bill, un-amended, to the Senate floor and dispense with the needless drama.

The meltdown at the Heritage Foundation has made it easier for main-stream conservatives to vote for the bill in the Upper Body. A report by the conservative think-tank that put the cost of the Gang of Eight bill at 6.3 trillion dollars was condemned Continue reading

Can Government ‘Fix’ the Economy?

Reprinted from TelemachusLeaps.com

There’s several great scenes in the classic ‘A Fish Called Wanda’ where Kevin Kline as the dim-witted narcissistic con-man gets riled up when someone calls him ‘stupid.’

Generally, we have found in life that we won’t follow the lead of someone who calls us ‘stupid’. On the other hand, we have also found that it is very difficult to get people to follow our lead or to even like us when we call them ‘stupid’.

Life just doesn’t lend itself to calling people ‘stupid’ and getting away with it.

Unless you are Nobel Prize-winning Paul Krugman who somehow has kept his job writing for the New York Times and his Nobel Prize despite having none of Continue reading

Great Cyprus Bank Robbery

Reprinted from Mullings.com

It is well known that there are a number of countries in Europe that are in dire financial straits. So dire that they make our $16.7 trillion national debt look manageable.

We know about Greece and Italy, Portugal and Spain. Not only are they drowning in debt, but they have high unemployment (Spain’s is nearly 25 percent) and negative GDP growth.

But the scariest news over the weekend came from the tiny country of Cyprus. Continue reading

Obama Revealed

Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com

Free from the burdens of a reelection campaign, presidents who win second terms reveal themselves when they come to Congress to give their fifth State of the Union address.

They can’t say the same thing that they just said in their inaugural address, because that would be really boring (not that most States of the Unions aren’t boring. They are.)

George W. Bush revealed himself to be a confident gambler who decided to bet all of his chips on Social Security reform. Bill Clinton revealed himself to Continue reading

Future of US Finances

Reprinted from Telemachus.com

Sometimes, it is just smarter (and easier) to let people who are smarter than you explain complicated things.

Such is the case with Chuck Blahous, a long-time friend from Washington DC who is now a trustee on the Social Security and Medicare Trust Fund. We were about to plow through the CBO update on long-term economic and budget projections that came out yesterday when we saw Chuck’s summary come in our email inbox.

CBO reported that ‘deficits would fall below $1 trillion!’ for the first time in 4 years. People from the White House on down, including the President, Continue reading

Voters Understand Fiscal Cliff

Reprinted from the Bipartisan Policy Institute

In failing to address the foolishness of present policy, candidates make a comprehensive response less likely.

Center Forward recently released the results of a poll taken by Purple Insights, asking 1,000 likely voters how much they knew about the “fiscal cliff,” the massive increases in taxes and cuts in spending scheduled to occur within the first two days of January 2013. Continue reading

A Case of Bad Gas

Reprinted from Loose Change (TCBMag.com)

There are certain things about human beings that are shared, validating the old joke about what the Zen master said to the hot dog vendor: “Make me one with everything.” Universally we all share sexuality, eating, loving, spirituality, even bad gas. I defy you to name any among us who hasn’t experienced a bit of the bubbly in the lower trunk.

Hang on to that feeling for a moment.

When it comes to the economy, how do we spell R-E-L-I-E-F? Romney and Obama have their plans, but God knows which is better or worse. Bottom line: This economic gas requires that something’s got to give. Continue reading

Obama Is Not Working

Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com

All hell is breaking out in the Middle East and in North Africa. Israel is preparing to go to war with Iran. China and Japan are at the brink of war. Unemployment is above 8 percent. The Federal Reserve is forced to buy forty billion dollars of mortgage-backed securities a month because the Chairman is very worried that the economy will backslide into a deep recession. The debt numbers are only getting worse as the government grapples with adding a new entitlement to an already over-subscribed entitlement system.

The Obama Administration is failing on both the international and domestic stage.

And Mitt Romney is on the defensive!

How the hell does that happen? Continue reading

Obama Nice Enough Guy

Reprinted from Mullings.com

Friday night I was on Anderson Cooper’s CNN program, AC360, with one of my favorite debate partners, Paul Begala. As neither Paul nor I am a foreign policy expert we talked about the domestic political aspects of the riots – and killings – in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Cooper quoted from Friday morning’s Mullings (I don’t have the transcript but this is close): “Rich, you wrote in your column this morning that President Obama’s foreign policy is: Blame George W.”

What I wrote, in its entirety was: “Barack Obama’s foreign policy is the same as his domestic policy: It’s all George W’s fault.” Continue reading