Last week the President introduced his deficit reduction plan by saying that it would start to pay down “the big pile of IOUs” the government has issued in order to pay its bills, through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. He asserted, “We have to cut out what we can’t afford [in order] to pay for what really matters. We can’t just cut our way out of this hole. It is going to take a balanced approach.” And to make his point clear, he declared,
 
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 or biggest corporations to pay their fair share. [Emphasis added.]
 
One piece of his proposal, which has been dubbed the “Buffet rule,” would not allow millionaires to pay a lesser share of their income in taxes than middle-income earners pay, such as Warren Buffet’s secretary. And that is the first of several fallacies underpinning his proposal. When all the taxes that Buffet pays are taken into account, his share is vastly larger than Buffet publicly admitted. As noted by Richard Rahn, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, “Buffet appears to prefer to take much of his compensation in the form of capital gains rather than salary….

What's the common thread between Europe's financial mess, particularly among the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain), and the financial mess in the U.S.? That question could be more easily answered if we asked instead: What's necessary to cure the financial mess in Europe and the U.S.? If European governments and the U.S. Congress ceased the practice of giving people what they have not earned, budgets would be more than balanced. For government to guarantee a person a right to goods and services he has not earned, it must diminish someone else's right to what he has earned, simply because governments have no resources of their very own.

The first order of business in reaching a solution to the financial mess in Europe and the U.S. must be the recognition that governments have been doing a class of unsustainable things, mostly giving people special privileges and things that they have not earned. It's a matter of not simply what's good or bad for the beneficiaries but what its effect is on society at large and the welfare of a nation.

The hint given to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein by their mysterious informant “Deep Throat” regarding President Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal was: “Follow the money.” If the same counsel is followed today with regard to President Obama’s fundraising, the discoveries are disturbing.

With the Solyndra controversy still unraveling,  President Obama has moved undauntedly on to the next suspicious entanglement with corporate beneficiaries of federal largesse.

 It is being reported that in a couple of weeks President Obama will be the benefactor of a fundraiser being organized by a Missouri businessman “whose company benefited from a $107-million federal tax credit to develop a wind power facility in his state.”
 
The name of this Friend of Barack is well-known in the Show Me State and in Democratic Party circles. Tom Carnahan is the 42-year-old son of the former Governor of Missouri Mel Carnahan and former U.S. Senator Jean Carnahan. The younger Carnahan was an attorney and is the founder of Wind Capital Group.

In keeping with his governing style, that is, rule by decree, "President" Chávez recently nationalized Venezuela’s gold mining industry. With its expropriation, the dictator continues his campaign of “21st-century Socialism.”

Over the past decade, Hugo Chávez has radically altered Venezuela’s economic landscape. Executing a pernicious, politically driven, nationalization program, the government has systematically taken over key sectors. In doing so, Chávez stripped private industry, its investors — not to mention political opponents — of infrastructure, private property, and profits.  Since 2002, almost 1,000 companies have been seized. For socialists and statists the world over, this is something of a guide, a graduate seminar in confiscation and class warfare. But for the rest of us, it remains a lesson in economic decay and failed leadership.

The takeover of gold mining operations should surprise no one. With gold commanding upwards of $1,600 dollars an ounce, the industry is highly profitable. And it is the profit of private enterprise that Chávez endeavors to exploit for his ends. As the dictator himself once said, “We can't have socialism if the state doesn't have control over its resources!"

Apparently the Federal Reserve is not the only entity threatened by gold. Central banks in Europe are restricting the sales of precious metals, presumably threatened by the fact that citizens are increasingly abandoning the devalued paper currencies and preserving their wealth by purchasing gold and silver.

Most countries in Europe — with the exceptions of Germany and Switzerland — have already mandated that residents may acquire gold only by purchasing it directly from local bank branches. Banks have justified the new policies by claiming that they are intended to prevent money laundering.

Drop what you’re doing. I mean it. Stop whatever it is that you’re doing and go online to find out when the next showing is. Take a friend, go alone, doesn’t matter. Moneyball isn’t about baseball. No way. This is about taking a chance, taking a risk, putting it all on the line. This is what it feels like to try to (and succeed in) overthrowing the existing order of things. It’s about finding out not only who your friends are, but how it feels to be alone.

I don’t even like baseball. And I don’t particularly care much for Brad Pitt. You probably don’t, either. Doesn’t matter. In this movie he is Billy Beane, GM of the Oakland Athletics, which just lost the American League Division Series to the New York Yankees in 2001. No wonder. The Yankees had a $114 million salary budget to finance their race for the pennant, compared to the A’s $39 million.

The federal government was again just days away from a potential shutdown when the Senate passed another spending bill which critics say is strewn with far too much spending. The legislation includes money for victims of Hurricane Irene and the summer tornados, and funds the federal government at the start of the new budget year, which begins on Saturday.

The resolution was approved by the Senate after a series of behind-the-scenes discussions which ultimately ended the latest round of vicious debates between Democrats and Republicans over items such as spending, cuts, and taxes. According to The Blaze, those disputes have “rattled financial markets and coincided with polls showing congressional approval ratings at historically low levels.”

The bill passed the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 79-12. The measure is now on its way to the House of Representatives for a vote, though there is little doubt it will pass there, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has already indicated that it is acceptable. “I think it’s a reasonable way to keep the government operational,” he commented.

A new Gallup poll found a record-breaking 81 percent of Americans dissatisfied with the U.S. government’s performance, as the economy remains stagnant and the country’s fiscal integrity wanes. The polling company noted: 

Americans’ various ratings of political leadership in Washington add up to a profoundly negative review of government — something that would seem unhealthy for the country to endure for an extended period.

Nevertheless, with another budget showdown looking inevitable and a contentious presidential election year getting underway, it appears the ratings reviewed here could get worse before they improve.

A relatively new trend, American discontent with the way Congress and the White House govern, has significantly deepened. In 2003, 59 percent of Americans approved of the federal government’s overall performance, while only 39 percent disapproved. An analysis of the past few years presents an upward curve in dissatisfaction with the federal government, particularly as war in the Middle East endures and as the U.S. economy remains stale.

Americans have invested in homes in many ways for a long time. During the frontier days of the West, families would homestead property and so through grit and endless work transform a patch of prairie into a home, a barn, a farm, and an investment. Federal policies have gutted much of that wealth. Environmental regulations have interfered with the sensible activities of farmers (as if Big Government had a greater long term interest in the preservation of the land than those who lived and worked on it). Farm subsidies, beginning with the disastrous New Deal, contorted rational economic decision-making by farmers and induced them instead to enter the Never-Never Land of government subsidies, so that in Iowa — a politically potent state because of its early role in the primaries — the wasteful use of corn to produce ethanol is still sacrosanct. Federal estate taxes, too, have forced families to sell farms which their grandfathers intended to remain in the family forever.

Stocks and bonds have historically been another long-term investment for millions of Americans. Long before the Roaring Twenties, middle-class Americans saw the virtue of creating a portfolio of stocks and bonds. Innovators such as Edison and Bell, geniuses of management such as Carnegie and Ford, and people with just great business ideas, such as Sears, created vast amounts of commercial wealth and then converted that potential wealth into usable cash by liquidating their stock holdings and selling them on the market.

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass a stopgap spending bill because Democrats bemoaned the spending cuts and Republicans believed the bill did not cut enough. After a few tweaks, the stopgap bill managed to pass in the House on Friday morning by a narrow vote of 219-203. However, as expected, the United States Senate blocked the bill in a party-line vote of 59 to 36, potentially sending the House leadership back to the drawing board. 

On Wednesday, House Republicans suffered an embarrassing 230-195 defeat, as 48 Republicans voted against the bill, angry that it would permit spending at the same rate approved in last month’s debt deal between Speaker of the House John Boehner and President Obama.

Fox News notes that the bill's defeat on Wednesday is indicative of the “tenuous grip that Boehner has on the chamber.”
 

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