Thanks to an unnoticed provision legislators slipped into state law 20 years ago, almost two dozen union leaders in Chicago stand to walk off with a cool $56 million in pension money, the Chicago Tribune reported last week. But only if the Illinois legislature does not repeal the provision, detailed in a lengthy report the Tribune conducted with WGN-TV. Three of the union leaders may earn as much as $5 million.
No one seems to know, the Tribune reported, who tweaked state pension law to permit the looting. Or at least no one will accept responsibility.
With the U.S. debt having surpassed 100 percent of gross domestic product August 3, to $14.58 trillion, it’s crudely entertaining to see how multimillionaire lawmakers in Congress and administrations both past and present find “compassionate” ways to spend ever-more of taxpayers’ money. The following is just the most recent example of a “compassionate” expenditure taxpayers don’t need.
On September 10, one day before the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, a piece was published that set out conditions under which the U.S. should (and should not) provide humanitarian aid at taxpayers’ expense, humanitarian projects being by their nature philanthropic.
Just three days later, the Washington Times (one among several other newspapers), ran a story describing how a compassionate George W. Bush was using his namesake institution to jumpstart an initiative combating women’s cancers (cervical and breast) in developing countries, primarily Africa, Vietnam, and Haiti, where such diseases are more rampant than usual due to the high levels of AIDS/HIV. The project is part of the “Pink Ribbon, Red Ribbon,” program, the goal of which is to “expand the services of clinics created under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR),” while the cancers are presumably still treatable.
Former TARP chairman and Senate hopeful from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren gave a shot in the arm to “progressives” everywhere this past Wednesday, with a rousing (or is it rabble-rousing?) extemporaneous speech on the virtues of taxing the rich. Her commentary quickly made the rounds on the Web and radio talk shows — and for good reason. Whatever this law professor said, she said it pretty darn well. Hey, If President Downgrade could articulate himself like that, he wouldn’t be in a bigamous relationship with a Teleprompter.
Unfortunately, though, style doesn’t connote substance. And Warren’s words, while rousing, were also reality-bending. Here is what she said:
I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.’ No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.
You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you, uh, were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.
Former President Bill Clinton says Obama’s approach to taming the federal deficit "is a little confusing" and suggests that raising taxes would blockade any efforts to revive the stale U.S. economy. During an interview with Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy in New York, where Clinton held the 10th annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, the former President discussed political topics such as climate change, tax policy, and government regulations. He also mentioned the possibility of his wife, Hillary, running for President in 2016, naming her "the ablest person in my generation."
Clinton conceded to Ruddy that he was somewhat baffled with President Obama’s newly-announced tax plan — the "Buffett Rule" — which would raise taxes on individuals earning over $1 million. "In the speech that the president gave to Congress, he didn’t propose any new taxes. The speech was $250 billion in tax cuts, $250 billion in spending over a period of two to three years. It focused mostly on a rather innovative set of payroll tax cuts and incentives to hire people," Clinton asserted.
American Policies are a Success: Poverty is up, violence is up, China is a world power and Mexico continues toward destabilization.
The Associated Press "fact-checked" President Obama’s combative proclamation that "middle-class families shouldn’t pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires." In broadcasting his new "Buffett Rule" for millionaires — his so-called "revenue" vehicle for the American Jobs Act — Obama tossed a class-warfare grenade, claiming that the wealthy are not covering enough of the tax burden. The President demanded in a bellicose speech Monday that individuals earning over $1 million a year must "pay their fair share" to help slash the soaring federal deficit.
Obama also vowed to veto any Republican bill that does not adopt a "balanced" approach to reducing the deficit, meaning if the bill does not include tax increases on high-earners he will axe the proposal. "I will not support any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary Americans," he pledged. "And I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share."
The American Jobs Act has already faced a flurry of criticism for a variety of reasons, including the cost and the likelihood that it will do little to create jobs. The most recent cause for criticism, however, follows the revelation that the bill could potentially destroy state sovereignty.
Section 376 of the bill reads:
SEC. 376. FEDERAL AND STATE IMMUNITY.
Abrogation of State Immunity — A State shall not be immune under the 11th Amendment to the Constitution from a suit brought in a Federal court of competent jurisdiction for a violation of this Act.
In other words, under the authority of the jobs bill, states are not immune from federal prosecution if they are in violation of the act. The Blaze explains, “In the event this bill passes, it will override a state’s sovereign authority as defined and protected under the 11th Amendment.” It reads:
The sovereign debt woes of the European Union are nearing a critical stage. Greece's short-term bonds have recently shot to 60 percent, indicating an extremely high probability that the ancient country will default. Though Portugal and Spain, two of the other “PIIGS” member-states in the EU, are temporarily off the radar screen, neither has solved its fundamental debt problems.
In Finland, the only Scandinavian nation in the eurozone, the True Finns political party has enjoyed remarkable success running largely on a platform of refusing to bail out spendthrift EU members whose expenditure-to-revenue ratios would make full repayment of debt instruments unlikely without outside help. The other Scandinavian nations have become increasingly reluctant to join the eurozone over the last few years.
The sovereign debt crisis originally involved four governments — the so-called PIGS: Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain. What is particularly disconcerting for those attempting to solve the EU's economic problems has been the inclusion of Italy in this group (now known as PIIGS).
“The last thing you want to do is raise taxes in the middle of a recession,” President Barack Obama said in 2009. Two years later, in the midst of a still-struggling economy, Obama is proposing over $1.5 trillion in tax increases. What gives?
The President has apparently given up on his attempt to cover his leftist views with a veneer of moderation. First he submitted a jobs bill to Congress that would spend almost half a trillion dollars at a time when the government is already borrowing over 40 percent of the money it disburses. Then he proposed paying for it with hefty tax hikes on the rich, promising to submit a more comprehensive deficit-reduction plan a week later. That plan, released Monday, is essentially a rehash of his jobs bill’s spending and tax hike proposals — things that would take effect immediately if they were to pass, though most of them have been previously rejected by Congress — combined with promised reductions in future spending that neither Obama nor the current Congress can guarantee will occur. The President claims it will reduce the deficit by $3.2 billion over the next 10 years.
During the fallout following the government bailout of banking, investment, insurance, and the auto industry, President Obama justified the extension of corporate welfare by informing the American people that these businesses were “too big to fail.”
Regardless of the logic of such a stance, in the history of republican political thought, the opposite of the Obama Doctrine has been asserted as axiomatic. As the theory went (goes), a republic cannot function properly toward the end of preserving liberty if it grows too large. One might say of republics that they can be “too big to succeed.”
That is the sentiment behind a recent collection of essays addressing the increasingly untenable size of the federal government and the possibility and desirability of its perpetuation.
Rethinking the American Union for the Twenty-first Century is a collection of seven essays compiled and edited by Donald Livingston. The collection is an extension of the Abbeville Conference held in Charleston, South Carolina in 2010. Contributing scholars include Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo, Yuri Maltsev, Kent Masterson Brown, Marshall DeRosa, Kirkpatrick Sale, and Rob Williams.