As the Solyndra bankruptcy debacle begins to unwind, President Obama and political leaders will find that an increasingly bright light is shone on the federal government’s mischievous administration of green energy loans and subsidies. William Yeatman, energy policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) — a think tank promoting free markets and limited government — testified at a House Water and Power Subcommittee of the Natural Resources Committee hearing Thursday on a contentious loan program orchestrated by the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), a power marketing administration within the U.S. Department of Energy.
Packaged in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) — Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus plan — the $3.25 billion WAPA loan was authorized to finance various energy projects relating to renewable energy generation. Naturally, the solar technology manufacturer Solyndra, and its controversial bankruptcy, recent FBI raid, and special-interest scandal that left taxpayers on the hook for $535 million, has brought into question the financial viability of taxpayer-funded investments in green energy.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the TRAIN Act, which calls for establishing a committee to analyze the economic impact of recent regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Representatives John Sullivan (R-Okla.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah) introduced the bill in May. "TRAIN" is short for the bill's imposing title, "Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011."
"Taxpayers deserve an honest accounting how much EPA's regulations are costing our economy and hurting American consumers," declared Sullivan. "[T]he EPA's regulatory train wreck is killing our economy and costing American jobs."
The bill includes an amendment to delay EPA's Utility MACT (maximum achievable control technology) and new transport rules which set unprecedented emissions standards on large institutions. It forces EPA's rules to wait six months after completion of the TRAIN Act analysis.
They say "all politics is local." But economic decisions impact the whole economy and reverberate internationally. That is why politicians' meddling with the economy creates so many disasters.
The time horizon of politics seldom reaches beyond the next election. But, in economics, when an oil company invests in oil explorations today, the oil they eventually find and process may not make its way to market and earn a profit until it is sold as gasoline a decade from now.
In short, the focus of politicians is extremely limited in both space and time — and all the repercussions that lie beyond those limits carry little, if any, weight in political decisions.
At one time, many state banking laws forbad a bank from having multiple branches. The goal was limited and local — namely, to prevent big, nationally known banks from setting up branches that many locally owned banks could not successfully compete against.
“Middle-class families shouldn’t pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires,” repeatedly proclaims President Obama, arguing for his proposed $1.5 trillion tax increase over the next 10 years. “That’s pretty straightforward. It’s hard to argue against that.” In fact, Mr. Obama’s statement is anything but straightforward and not hard to argue against.
Seeking to reverse his declining poll numbers, especially among his increasingly disillusioned base, Obama is attempting to give the impression that America’s millionaires and billionaires are paying lower taxes than their secretaries.
IRS data for 2008, however, the latest year for which the numbers are available, show that those who earned more than $1 million in adjusted gross income paid an average federal income tax rate of 23.3 percent.
Our nation stands at the precipice of an economic meltdown that would make the current recession seem like the “best of times.” The almighty dollar, once labeled “good as gold,” stands close to repudiation. Yet the Obama administration and congressional leaders are failing to address the reason for the dollar’s decline.
We find ourselves mired in the “it can’t happen here” syndrome. The experts won’t tell the public what happened in Germany in the 1920s, or in Hungary and Argentina more recently, or in Zimbabwe only a few years back. But all of the agony and chaos experienced in those nations should be expected in America. The dollar has plummeted so far in value that its worth is now less than five percent of what is was when a deceived Congress voted to create the Federal Reserve in 1913.
Addressing this increasingly dire situation, Congressman Ron Paul has introduced H.R. 1098, the “Free Competition in Currency Act of 2011.” Its main purposes are: 1) repeal the legal tender laws; and 2) bar taxation when buying or selling such commodities as gold, silver, and platinum if the intention is to use them as money.
Infamous for political corruption, the city of Chicago rehired for one day former union leader Dennis Gannon, who as a result netted $158,000 in a public pension, according to the Chicago Tribune. Rehired by the city in 1994, Gannon was accorded an indefinite leave of absence after working a single shift. Raking in about five times greater than the average retired city worker, Gannon’s lavish pension is a product of corrupt political massaging among Chicago union leaders and government officials.
After gaining high stature in labor politics, Gannon sought to gain from the city’s skewed law that would allow him to remain in the municipal pension fund. So he was rehired and the next day granted a leave of absence to work for Local 150. Illinois law permitted Gannon to retire in 2004, at 50-years-old, and since then he has incurred approximately $1 million in pension benefits, and is expected to pocket about $5 million during his lifetime.
Despite the government's increased creation of money, new federal regulations that stifle companies and cause additional costs, and proposed new taxes, some businesses are pushing ahead with business-as-usual, leading to an uptick in the economy — at least in the short term. The shipping of materials used in industrial production by rail in the United States grew last month to the highest level since October 2008, with Union Pacific enjoying its strongest weekly volume so far this year. UP Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Robert Knight said he continues to see “solid demand” across most business segments, with shipments of industrial products increasing by eight percent annually.
Norfolk Southern’s CFO, James Squires is also positive, maintaining an outlook “which is still upbeat," with expected growth of three percent annually through September. And CSX noted that its industrial shipping volumes are growing at about five percent a year as well. CSX’s CFO said he isn’t concerned about “any kind of overarching sort of dire circumstances around the corner,” as his customers and suppliers are both showing a “general level of optimism.” He added, “Sure, things have moderated, but there is no one in that near state of panic that we saw certainly in late ’08 and ’09.”
Tim Hawkins is a very funny guy. He sings a great song, “The Government Can,” with body movements that tell the story in a truly hilarious way. I watched it the other day on a website with an incredibly simple but potent message: that 545 people in Washington are responsible for all of America’s woes. Charley Reese, the writer, explained in an essay posted at LewRockwell.com:
One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president and nine Supreme Court justices — 545 human beings out of 235 million — are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.
He explains further:
Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.
Have you ever wondered why, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, we have deficits? Have you ever wondered why, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, we have inflation and high taxes?
Some of America’s most diligent Leftists have planned a series of events along the West Coast, targeting banks and the homes of bankers in much the same way that SEIU protested outside the home of Bank of America executive Greg Baer — intimidating Baer’s 13-year old son who was trapped in the house alone. The “Days of Rage” will be taking place at a host of spots in greater Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.
The groups have circulated a flier that reads “Make Banks Pay” indicates that from Monday September 26 to Thursday September 29, the demonstrators will be doing the following:
While America's President shrinks from facing the demographic catastrophe lurking a decade or two down the road for Social Security, Medicare, and public pensions, there is evidence in Germany that such a debacle might be avoided — and a glimmer of hope in France. Last year French President Nicolas Sarkozy raised the retirement age in his country from 60 to 62 — for which he endured weeks of demonstrations and a lessening of his popularity.
Now his Prime Minister, François Fillon, has suggested that France should place its retirement policy in line with that of Germany, which has voted to increase the retirement age to 67. (That is a year higher than the full Social Security retirement age for Americans born from 1943-1954.) Fillon touched on that subject during a September 22 speech to business leaders in Paris, stressing that in areas of fiscal impact such as retirement age, France needed to dovetail its policies with Germany, the largest economy in the European Union.