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.”
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.”