A shave and a haircut will cost you more than two bits just about anywhere, but it’ll run you over two Hamiltons at the U.S. Senate barbershop — more than double what barbers in some parts of the country charge. Yet despite these high prices, the shop, which is supposed to be self-sustaining, ended up $300,000 in the hole last year and got its own taxpayer bailout, proving once again that government is incapable of performing even the smallest tasks cheaply and competently.
Although Barack Obama is the first black President of the United States, he is by no means unique, except for his complexion. He follows in the footsteps of other presidents with a similar vision, the vision at the heart of the Progressive movement that flourished a hundred years ago.
The deadline for comments on the proposed Volcker Rule was Monday night and hundreds, if not thousands, of letters arrived at the last minute to rail against the rule, mostly from Wall Street. The Volcker Rule — which would prohibit banks from trading with their own money — was proposed last summer by former chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker, who said in a letter to President Obama that they shouldn’t be gambling with money guaranteed by the taxpayers. Big losses by government-backed banks that were trading in risky securities such as mortgage-backed assets precipitated the financial crisis in 2008 and set up the need for federal bailouts of those banks.
Following the approval of fresh austerity measures in Greece demanded by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to qualify for the next round of bailouts, furious rioters clashed with police and set dozens of buildings on fire in Athens. But despite the ongoing conflicts between law enforcement and protesters, the Greek police union has threatened to arrest senior EU and IMF officials, too.
The numbers posted at Investors Business Daily over the weekend by John Merline were impressive: U.S. manufacturing profits last year exceeded $600 billion, almost tripling since the bottom of the recession, while jobs in manufacturing have increased by 400,000 in the past two years. Unemployment in manufacturing has been below the national average for eight straight months, and the industry itself has been growing at three times the rate of the overall economy.
For weeks now politicians in New York have debated ad nauseum Assemblyman Sheldon Silver’s proposal to increase the minimum wage in New York State by $1.25. The argument — whether to maintain the status quo or strive for $8.50 per hour — is wasteful political rhetoric in itself, for the determination of the wage scale is best left to the free markets.
The debt chickens are coming home to roost in Greece, and the hen house is collapsing. As the hard-pressed Greek parliament convened to vote on an enormously unpopular austerity measure insisted upon by international bankers with the power to prolong Greece’s agony with another bailout, furious mobs set Athens ablaze and fought pitched battles with police. On Monday morning, Greeks surveyed with horror the smoldering rubble of more than 90 buildings across the capital. The popular consensus: this is just the beginning.
“The time for austerity is not today,” White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew declared on the February 12 Meet the Press, providing an apt motto for President Barack Obama’s latest budget proposal, which foresees trillions of dollars in deficit spending, phony spending cuts, genuine tax hikes, and a refusal to address budget-busting entitlements. In other words, it’s a typical Washington budget proposal.
“If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes,” asserted President Obama in his State of the Union speech. For those with predominantly investment income, that would effectively double their capital gains tax rate from the current 15 percent rate, producing a triple negative impact on U.S. economic growth and job creation by reducing the incentive for domestic investment, increasing the incentive to move more jobs and capital overseas, and directly reducing the amount of capital available in the private sector by way of greater transfers of income to the government.
The report from The New York Times on Wednesday about the foreclosure settlement reached between five big banks and 49 states’ attorneys general made it appear that justice was being served. The $26 billion to be paid out to some 2 million homeowners (former and current) “could provide relief” to them under the terms of the settlement. It would also remove a cloud of uncertainty from the banks’ liability and might help in “halting the housing market’s downward slide.”