As talk of another possible extension of unemployment benefits is making its way through Washington, the New York Times recently covered a story on Dan Tolleson, a writer with a Ph.D. in politics who has only been able to find short-term work since July of 2009. What fascinated the Times, and likely a number of readers, was the notion that though Tolleson has been unemployed for a lengthy period of time, he stands opposed to an extension of unemployment benefits.
Tolleson explained his stance: “They’re going to end up spending more money on unemployment benefits, while less money is coming in on tax returns. Far better to relax some of these outrageous regulations.”
The Times noted:
Make no mistake — Mr. Tolleson, 54, has collected unemployment checks, saying he had little choice. But his objection to a policy that would probably benefit him shows just how divisive the question has become of providing a bigger safety net to the long-term jobless, a common strategy in recessions.
Tolleson applied for one round of unemployment benefits out of desperation, but when those benefits expired, he elected instead to turn to his local church for help. It was then, however, that he was informed by his church that in order to receive some assistance, he would have to apply for another round of unemployment benefits. Seemingly without options, he did so.
Following the Senate’s rejection of President Obama’s jobs bill on Tuesday, Senate Republicans have offered their own jobs bill, The Jobs Through Growth Act, as an alternative. Presented by Senators John McCain (Ariz.), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Rob Portman (Ohio), the bill is designed to defuse the President’s charge that the Republicans had no plan of their own as well as offer different approaches to stimulating job growth. Said Paul, “We simply cannot look to the failed policies of the last two years for an example of how to grow our economy and create jobs. More government spending and excessive regulation are the problem, not the solution. We have spent too long increasing the tax and regulatory burdens on job creators, instead of allowing them to operate more freely and create more jobs.”
McCain said “We just thought it was time to put this all into a package. I will freely admit to you that part of it is in response to the president saying we don’t have a proposal,” while Portman called it “a pro-growth proposal to create the environment for jobs … as opposed to the short-term sweetener approach of the Obama administration that simply hasn’t worked.” According to McCain, most Senate Republicans have signed onto the bill.
With the recent decline in the polls of the candidacies of Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, Tea Party members have two top-tier candidates to consider as an alternative to the liberal Massachusetts Republican Mitt Romney: Herman Cain and Ron Paul. But how do these two Tea Party favorites stack up on economic issues? Here's a quick survey on their differences:
One of the biggest issues leading to the formation of the Tea Party movement was -— after the burgeoning deficit -— reaction against the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) law. Many Americans joined the Tea Party to stop what was obviously political favoritism being sold by fear-mongering government leaders, and it resulted in a number of pro-TARP Republican veterans losing their primaries and anti-TARP Republicans winning the November 2010 general election.
During the housing bubble, profits were privatized. But once "too big to fail" Wall Street banks saw major losses on risky bets made in the real estate market, they came crying to Washington and demanded taxpayers pick up the shortfall. Establishment politicians in Washington obliged, selling the bailout package with a heaping helping of fear. Mitt Romney said "all the jobs" in America would be gone if the trust funds of the super-rich were not bailed out using the tips of cab drivers and waitresses.
It is a classic story of Americana, with all the excitement, dreams, struggle, disappointment, ingenuity, resilience, triumph, love, loss, and enduring lessons common to the most memorable of such tales. Also common to such sagas — particularly those of the Christian sort — the most enduring impact is still uncoiling with the long passage of years and the generations.
Those who knew Garman O. Kimmell, founder and builder of Oklahoma City-based Kimray, Inc., remember him best as a brilliant design engineer and a devout Christian man. He revolutionized the field of oil and gas production and made significant personal contributions to the field of heart treatment. But the technical nature of his inventions, coupled with a humble personality that eschewed personal glory, has consigned him to anonymity in previous American and even Oklahoman histories. That is the problem with history books — most of the men and women who possessed the noblest character and made the greatest contributions were too busy impacting other lives to get their own written about.
An American Boy
As with so many great American leaders across the fields of industry and business who were the children and grandchildren of immigrants in the 19th century, Kimmell took his cue on how to get ahead in America from his forebears. Kimmell’s father, for instance, was an imaginative capitalist.
Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain’s popularity in numerous polls is increasing daily, and while the founder and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza may portray himself as a principled conservative, an analysis of his campaign positions, especially his most controversial flat tax proposal, reveals serious concerns with Cain’s commitment to fiscal conservatism.
Cain’s “9-9-9” tax plan calls for a complete overhaul of the current federal tax code, and it would replace the code, eventually and only temporarily, with three taxes — a 9 percent income tax, a 9 percent business transactions tax, and a 9 percent federal sales tax. On paper, the first two look like cuts, because payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare (now nearly 15 percent, including corporate contributions) would be repealed. The sales tax would be new, on top of existing state sales taxes.
The most notorious critique of Cain’s 9-9-9 plan came from Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in Tuesday’s debate. “One thing I would say is, when you take the 9-9-9 plan and you turn it upside down," Bachmann said, "I think the devil's in the details." The Republican presidential hopeful added that Cain’s plan merely creates another federal tax (in the form of a Value Added Tax), and does little to address the need to reduce the national deficit. “The 9-9-9 plan isn't a jobs plan, it's a tax plan," Bachmann started.
Many observers of the political scene suspected that the creation of the congressional deficit-reduction supercommittee was just a sham to allow legislators to increase the debt ceiling while giving the appearance of being serious about long-term deficit reduction. With each bit of news that trickles out of Congress, such suspicions are being borne out.
The latest development on the subject, according to Politico, is that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, “is vowing to ‘nullify’ part of a law that would impose major military cuts if the deficit panel can’t reach a deal.” In short, McCain wants to repeal the part of the debt-ceiling deal that triggers automatic cuts to defense spending if the supercommittee fails to reach agreement on its own plan to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years. (The law also requires equivalent cuts in domestic spending, but McCain did not address that matter.)
“If there is a failure on the part of the supercommittee,” McCain said during a news conference yesterday, “we will be amongst the first on the floor to nullify that provision. Congress is not bound by this. It’s something we passed. We can reverse it.”
Republican presidential candidate and former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain admitted to MSNBC's Chuck Todd October 12 that he had "missed" the housing bubble and 2008 financial collapse.
"What I missed in 2005 was just how bad Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had distorted the housing market," Cain told Todd. "I honestly did not realize just how bad it was, just how bad the whole bundling and derivatives thing was, and that we were on the brink of a total financial meltdown. So I learned later on by looking into it deeper that the situation was a lot worse than I thought in 2005."
As late as September 1, 2008, Cain wrote that the economy seemed to be on solid ground: “The supposed failure of Bush's economic policies has been a constant theme of the Democrats since the 2006 elections, when the Democrats regained control of the House and Senate by convincing enough of the voters that the economic sky was falling, and that the war in Iraq could not be won. Based on all of their convention speeches, they plan to continue those themes right through Election Day on November 4.” Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy just two weeks after Cain's column was published, and President Bush subsequently began pushing for the TARP bailout bill (a bill also backed by both then Senator Barack Obama and Herman Cain).
Tom Cross, the House Republican leader in the Illinois legislature, filed a bill Wednesday to probe a "charitable interpretation" of state law that granted at least eight Chicago labor officials eligibility for both city pensions and union pensions covering the same work periods. A Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV investigation discovered that some of these union officials await millions of dollars more in retirement due to double and even triple dipping on pensions.
The investigation confirmed that at least seven union officials are accruing retirement benefits in multiple pensions and one retired official is already collecting payments from two pensions, even though the law contains stipulations that "aim" to prevent such practices.
According to the report, one Chicago labor leader is anticipating retirement benefits of nearly $500,000 a year, while another expects to gain $438,000 from three separate pensions — a city laborers fund, union district council fund, and national union fund — all covering the same work period. In total, the 59-year-old union leader, Liberato "Al" Naimoli, is set to reap a whopping $9 million if he lives to his expected lifespan. President of Cement Workers Local 76, Naimoli is raking in almost $160,000 a year from his city pension. After retiring in 2010, he is also now eligible for a pension worth about $60,000 a year from the Laborers’ Pension Fund, and another $220,000 a year from a national union pension fund.
The announcement on Wednesday that the City Council of Pennsylvania’s capital city, Harrisburg, voted to file for bankruptcy was the latest in a long series of federal mandates, bad luck, and poor planning that has plagued the city since the early 1970s. The Harrisburg Resource Recovery Facility, less elegantly referred to as “the incinerator that burns money,” was built in 1972. The estimated cost to build it was $15 million and was sold to the city based on projections that it could burn enough trash to generate sufficient steam to be sold to cover its costs and debt service. But unexpected repairs required additional financings so that by the time the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered it was emitting unacceptably high levels of dioxins and shut it down, the city owed $94 million for the facility.
The current Mayor of Harrisburg, Linda Thompson, was on the City Council at the time and remembers that outside consultants had recommended retrofitting the incinerator:
They sold us [on] the fact that this incinerator, once it’s retrofitted, would make enough money to pay the old debt and the new debt…. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
A thousand years from now, when scholars and archeologists in some future civilization want to know what America was like, they could do no better than dig up a stash of Montgomery Ward catalogs, from 1900 to when it was discontinued in 2001. First, they will find depicted thousands of products available to the general public at very moderate prices. They will find that most of these products were made in the U.S.A. They will find a nation with a very high standard of living, continually improving its technology in all fields of endeavor.
The beauty of the catalog is that it will provide the future researcher with a pictorial view of a society and all of the objects it used in its daily life during a specific year of its existence. And behind all these objects were thousands of factories that manufactured all the products Montgomery Ward was selling. The future investigators will not realize from the pictures that the catalogs from 1930 to 1945 depicted a nation during a great economic depression. The only thing that indicates something about the general condition of the economy is the number of pages of each year’s catalog. For example, the 1906 catalog has 1148 pages, while the 1933 catalog has only 494 pages. You can easily trace the condition of the U.S. economy by simply making a graph of the number of pages in each year’s catalog.
The catalogs also show us the continued improvement in the products being offered. One can see the evolution of the washing machine and refrigerator, the cooking stove, and home heater, radios and phonographs, television sets. It shows capitalism at work, constantly making life easier and better. And the process never ends even though the economy goes through its ups and downs.