SEA ISLE, N.J. — Public-sector employees here now are regularly referring to Gov. Chris Christie as "Adolf Christie." Things got especially ugly when Christie signed legislation that requires each of the state's 500,000 teachers, police and other public workers to pay more for their pensions and health benefits and eliminates the issue for four years from collective bargaining.
In this traditionally Democrat state, Republican Christie was victorious in a legislature with solid Democrat majorities, successfully arguing that the current and projected pension and health benefits for public-sector employees are unaffordable and unsustainable.
Eighty-year-old Dottie Bell is a volunteer at the Community Market food bank in Opelika, Alabama, and every day she sees the impact of high food prices on people in her community.
In the last 12 months, more than 3,000 families have come to her food bank for food assistance. Michael Davis is just one of them. When Dottie asked him for his identification, he pulled out his driver’s license and Social Security card from a worn ZipLoc bag and handed them to her. When she asked when the last time was that he’d eaten anything, he said: "About two days. It’s not a good feeling. You have to think about it like fasting, like they did in the Bible, and pray for another blessing. That’s really the only way to get through it."
Ten minutes later Davis was approved for 75 pounds of food. He picked up his documents and headed for the shelves in the back.
There is a theme to news stories about the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain) in the last few years: Rosy projections always turn out worse than expected. So it's of little surprise that Reuters announced on July 11 that the recession in Greece is worse than the “experts” had predicted.
The interim budget, upon which so much of the bailout of the nation rested, greatly understated the budget gap. (The underestimation of the budget shortfall over an earlier projection was by almost one-third.)
It seems President Obama is beginning to alienate his support base. First, the labor unions voiced their anger toward the administration for what they perceived to be its failure to stand up for them. Now, one of the top "progressive" organizations in the nation, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, has issued a warning to the White House: If entitlements are cut, President Obama may not have their support in 2012.
According to CNN, nearly 200,00 of the organization's 700,000 members have pledged to withhold their support for Obama’s 2012 campaign if his administration concedes on cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Once the awful job numbers announced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday were digested, it was clear that the clairvoyant economists looking into their crystal balls were dead wrong — again.
Most economists were expecting a pickup from May, with job growth estimates ranging from 100,000 to 175,000, and an upward revision on the May numbers as well. Neither happened. A mere 18,000 jobs were created in June, and the May numbers were revised downward from 54,000 to 25,000. Economists tried to explain away the poor May numbers, blaming everything from the weather (too hot, too cold, too rainy, too windy) to the disruption caused by the tsunami in Japan. But with those excuses now counter-balanced by excellent weather, cessation of tornadoes, and the Japanese car makers coming back online, there weren’t any excuses this time.
Europe’s slow-motion economic collapse continues apace as Eurozone governments and banks continue to wring their hands over what to do to postpone the inevitable Greek default. And now there’s a new wrinkle: Italy, whose level of sovereign indebtedness relative to GDP is second only to that of Greece, has suddenly appeared on investors’ radar screens. If Italy — the second largest economy in the Eurozone — goes the way of Greece, Ireland, and Portugal, there will not be enough money in Europe’s rapidly-dwindling rescue fund (the European Financial Stability Facility or EFSF) to effect a bailout.
The impasse over Greece is bad enough. Several countries in the European Union, including the Netherlands and Germany, expect private holders — large European banks — of Greek bonds to share some of the burden for the next Greek bailout, reckoned at some €110 billion. But European megabanks, given the precedents set with numerous recent taxpayer-funded bailouts on both sides of the Atlantic, are refusing to consider losing any of their own money. And all sides are finally awakening to the realization that a Greek default in the form of some kind of debt restructuring is inevitable. As Julian Toyer and Dan Flynn of Reuters report:
Once again, the Gawker.com has shown, if you work for the man who talked about hope and change, you can have a lot of hope you’ll get a lot of change: 146 of President Barack Obama’s 270 staff members received an average raise of eight percent for the 2010-11 year.
Gawker correctly observes that Americans suffer while the Obama class of 2012 rakes in the money, every cent of it taken from those suffering American taxpayers. Obama plays golf; his leftist myrmidons get rich. Americans pay for it.
But more disconcerting than the average eight-percent raise during a time when some Americans can’t get raises is this little fact: The top 20 White House employees received increases, on average, of nearly 50 percent. Some nearly doubled their salaries.
ITEM: “Regulators want to ensure mortgage lenders retain some of the risk on loans they originate, as it is crucial to strengthen the housing finance system, a top Treasury official said on Friday,” reported Reuters for June 24.
ITEM: “The Obama administration is ‘seriously considering’ a proposal by bank regulators that could cause mortgage rates to rise on all but the safest home loans, a Treasury Department official is set to say Friday,” reported Dow Jones on June 24.
CORRECTION: The same folks who brought you the managed housing economy that tanked want to continue to serve as the mismanagement.
Sea Isle, N.J. — James Fenimore Cooper's historical novel The Last of the Mohicans concludes with Tamenund (1628-98), the tribal leader of an Indian clan in the Delaware Valley, lamenting the pain of old age and the near-extinction of his people.
"Why should Tamenund stay?" he asks. "The pale-faces are the masters of the earth, and the time of the red-man has not yet come again."
Well, there's big news up the beach in Atlantic City that would bring a big smile to the old chief's face.
With the federal borrowing clock allegedly ticking down to financial Armageddon on August 2, discourse on Capitol Hill is becoming predictably envenomed. The official Republican position, framed repeatedly by House Speaker John Boehner, is that no legislation to raise the debt limit will be admissible without deep spending cuts, and that tax increases of any sort will not be countenanced by the Tea Party-fueled Republican majority in the House. The Obama administration and its allies in Congress are making calls from a time-dishonored playbook, pushing for tax increases on the rich rather than meaningful cuts in government spending, and accusing Republicans of calculated obstructionism.
Texas Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, one of only a handful of congressmen with a commitment to fiscal responsibility and a genuine yen for limited government, issued a statement warning of coming Republican duplicity in the face of the continued refusal of the Obamaites to contemplate deep budget cuts without a massive tax increase: "Sources in Washington tell me that House Republican Speaker John Boehner [pictured] is considering a deal to raise taxes as part of a debt limit 'deal.'"