Canaries and coal mines

So the French have no stomach for austerity measures. Do we? This would seem a good gauge: if we aren’t capable of cutting the truly unnecessary, then those who feel robbed of their free goodies will rise up a la Cloward-Piven to ensure future reward. Via Hot Air, a test of intestinal fortitude for the GOP:

Say — how’d you like to get a free cellphone?  No strings attached, no contracts, and no payments ever.  Don’t stop at one phone, either — get two, three, five, ten, twenty or more!  The cost is covered by people who are dumb enough to pay for their own cell phones … like you and me.  We’ve been doing it for a decade or more, and it’s now costing us over a billion dollars a year, as Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR) argues as he fights to bring the program to a halt.

Griffin doesn’t plan on cutting the subsidized landline access–which doeshave safety implications–but cellular only. Even then, will the GOP survive the onslaught of taking-granny’s-phone-away media? Or are we finally able to stand up to false vilification?


Saturday funnies


H/t: International Liberty (where  you’ll find another good one).


From the WSJ, this is surreal:

The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday that 45 million people in 2011 received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, a 70% increase from 2007. It  said the number of people receiving the benefits, commonly known as food stamps, would continue growing until 2014.

70% increase. How about a 70% increase in home sales? Or employment? Or oil production. Nope. We won’t get positive change until O is out of office. That’s change I can believe in!

Read the rest for a great dose of reality.

H/t: memeorandum

“The days I stay home with my kids without going out, I start to get ill.”

Ah, she gets a headache, too.

So quipped the First Lady in an interview in 2007. The full Monty:

Every year, Michelle Obama considers quitting her job and staying home full-time to take care of her children. “It was a gift having my mother home every day. I want my kids to feel that way,” she says. But having experienced the pleasures of work outside the home, she is reluctant to give up her independence. “Work is rewarding,” she says. “I love losing myself in a set of problems that have nothing to do with my husband and children. Once you’ve tasted that, it’s hard to walk away.”

So difficult to walk away. Why would your children’s problems ever be more important than ones with no connection or bearing to your family?

Then, too, there is that little-discussed fact that staying home with children can be—how else to put it?—less than intellectually stimulating. “The days I stay home with my kids without going out, I start to get ill,” she says. “My head starts to ache.” When she mentioned it to her mother, Marian Robinson told her daughter she didn’t think Michelle could handle the boredom of staying home with kids. Obama was surprised to hear that taking care of her had been boring, but now she embraces the idea of discussing it openly.

The boredom. It’s funny, I’m so busy I’m rarely bored.

Bored? What the hell did Michelle do on sick days? Stay in bed herself? Luckily for Michelle, the family decided they couldn’t live on Barack’s humble salary of $162k. How military families like mine decide it’s in the family’s best interest to have me stay home must be a mystery as we do it for much less than $162k a year. Then again, I do know how to cook. That saves a boatload, I guess.

H/t to Pundette for the illuminating Vogue interview with our esteemed First Lady.

“Not everyone in the conference agrees with cutting that fast and giving that much responsibility back to the state”

So argues U. S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla. to justify the failure of passage of a bill which would have capped federal discretionary spending next year to less than a trillion dollars. Of that failed plan:

That budget plan, authored by the conservative Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, called for replacing federal support of Medicaid with block grants to the states in an effort to curb runaway spending on that program.

Too much power to the states. But aren’t they supposed to have that power anyway? I suppose fiscal sinkholes like Illinois could be problematic–the money would get strangely siphoned away somehow–but then it would be the state’s responsibility to answer to its citizens, no? And if citizens don’t like it, they can vote with their feet.

Lankford did add:

“I’m going to support the most conservative budget we can get out of here […] I’d love to see more cuts faster.”

You and me both.

The good news: after Jordan’s budget failed–which would have balanced the budget in 5 years compared to Ryan’s 28–Ryan’s passed.

House on Thursday voted to pass a budget blueprint for the next decade that would cut billions of dollars in planned federal spending, reduce taxes and reform Medicare.

The bill, authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., passed 228-191, over the objection of House Democrats, who said the proposal would cut taxes for the wealthy at the expense of seniors and the poor.

The Ryan budget has virtually no chance of passage in the Democratically held Senate. But putting it on the floor for a vote gave the GOP a chance to showcase its fiscally conservative credentials before upcoming elections that may serve as a referendum on the job they have done upholding their 2010 pledge to reduce the country’s massive debt and the ever expanding size of government.

I’ll take 28 years over nothing.

Change I can believe in

Heh. Obama’s budget scares Democrats into rare moment of bipartisanship. I’ll take what I can get these days:

In a rare show of unanimous bipartisanship, House Democrats and Republicans united in their opposition to President Obama’s 2013 budget, which failed tonight with 414 votes against and zero in favor of the budget.

Such opposites as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Michelle Bachmann joined each other in voting against the bill, but the White House preemptively dismissed the tally.

Of course the spin begins:

“But let’s be very clear: A vote on Congressman Mulvaney’s resolution is not a vote on the president’s budget,” said White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage in a statement today. “This is just a gimmick the Republicans are putting forward to distract from what the Ryan budget does: protects massive tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires while making the middle class and seniors pay.” Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., introduced the president’s budget in order to draw a vote.

I’m not sure how you can spin zero votes in favor of Obama’s budgtet as a GOP gimmick, but such is life.

Bring on the rest of the change I can believe in this November, please!

CBS risks backlash: “National Debt has increased more under Obama than Bush”

Ouch. Truth hurts, doesn’t it. Reminder to inflame liberals further: Obama’s only had 3 years in office compared to Bush’s 8.

Chart - Deficit 2012

Mark Knoller writes:

The Debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency. It has now gone up $4.939 trillion since President Obama took office.

The latest posting from the Bureau of Public Debt at the Treasury Department shows the National Debt now stands at $15.566 trillion. It was $10.626 trillion on President Bush’s last day in office, which coincided with President Obama’s first day.

The National Debt also now exceeds 100% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, the total value of goods and services.

Mr. Obama has been quick to blame his predecessor for the soaring Debt, saying Mr. Bush paid for two wars and a Medicare prescription drug program with borrowed funds.

And of what doom may come if Obama wins another term:

If Mr. Obama wins re-election, and his budget projections prove accurate, the National Debt will top $20 trillion in 2016, the final year of his second term. That would mean the Debt increased by 87 percent, or $9.34 trillion, during his two terms.

Given Obama’s inability to project with accuracy anything budget related (like the doubling of the cost of Obamacare, whoopsie!), this would be much worse.

Also given that confiscatory 100% tax rates wouldn’t cover our current debt let alone this kind of spending, from where would this imaginary money appear? Think Cuba, y’all. Everything flows from the government, including jobs, rice cookers and gas. Until the country is broker than broke and everyone just starves together, smiling happy socialists.

Exit question: when did CBS suddenly become the network with the most cojones?

H/t: HA headlines

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey tackles the subject here and highlights Ryan’s new budget plan. Pundette has more on the revamped Ryan plan via James Pethokoukis. She also brings to attention a new book which says Obama’s “failure to lead” was a plan to trap the GOP. Funny how that works, isn’t it? I’m not sure I’m comforted by the bungling attempts at political grandstanding over, you know, a complete failure of leadership. Which is worse?

Panetta ready to decapitate military; NYT approves because “we can’t afford it.”

Is no one capable of the same discussion of entitlement reform? Apparently not. From Pentagon to Present Vision of Reduced Military, emphasis my own:

Nowhere is balancing budget and strategy more challenging than in deciding how large a ground combat force the nation needs and can afford. The Army chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno, the former commander in Iraq, points out that the Army had 480,000 people in uniform before the Sept. 11 attacks, and at that number was supposed to be able to fight two wars at once.

But the Army proved to be too small to sustain the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and was increased to its current size of 570,000. The Army is now set to drop to 520,000 soldiers, beginning in 2015, although few expect that to be the floor. The reality is that the United States may not be able to afford waging two wars at once.

Fascinating, isn’t it? The only spending authorized in the Constitution provides for the common defense, yet we’re hacking away at it because we just can’t afford the ability to fight to wars at once. Can’t afford to honor the promises made to current service members apparently, either.

But no one at the NYT wonders whether we can afford food stamps. Or Social Security. Or the countless social programs upon which we spend more than the military budget.

So as we head off Mark Steyn’s proverbial cliff, we’ll do so still paying out as much in entitlements but having decapitated our defense capabilities. Sounds fitting at this point.

H/t: Memeorandum

Put that fire out!

Metaphorical fire, that is.

Harvard economist Martin Feldstein sees the forest for the trees in the housing debacle. In the NYT he states:

I cannot agree with those who say we should just let house prices continue to fall until they stop by themselves. Although some forest fires are allowed to burn out naturally, no one lets those fires continue to burn when they threaten residential neighborhoods. The fall in house prices is not just a decline in wealth but a decline that depresses consumer spending, making the economy weaker and the loss of jobs much greater. We all have a stake in preventing that.

And his prescription? Taxpayers shoring up homeowners bailing on their mortgages. You know, more of the same:

But for political reasons, both the Obama administration and Republican leaders in Congress have resisted the only real solution: permanently reducing the mortgage debt hanging over America. The resistance is understandable. Voters don’t want their tax dollars used to help some homeowners who could afford to pay their mortgages but choose not to because they can default instead, and simply walk away. And voters don’t want to provide any more help to the banks that made loans that have gone sour.

The track record of government intervention in the housing market ain’t so hot. But what do I know, I’m not a Harvard economist. The problem, sir, is the lack of taxpayer money to do this. The money would again be pulled out of the magic Treasury hat and would do us more harm in the long run, shoring up bad money with printed-out-of-thin-air. And as soon as that government program expired, as all government programs do, then the housing market would end up in the same boat. Until boatloads of people who didn’t somehow qualify started claiming to be part of the 99% and demanding their fair share.

Here’s a thought: if the beneficient government program were to never end–everyone would be rescued from their mortgage–then why doesn’t the government just print even more money and buy all the houses across the land? If the government owned it all, no one could be evicted, right? No one would lose a home to foreclosure? And then people could spend freely on their wants rather than needs: Iphone4s, organic salmon. Paradise.

Just sayin’. But what do I know, I’m not a Harvard economist.


Army to cut 50,000 troops in the next 5 years, media ignores

This should be much bigger news. Via the Army Times:

The Army is preparing to launch in March a five-year, nearly 50,000-soldier drawdown, using a combination of accession cuts and voluntary and involuntary separations, similar to the post-Cold War drawdown of the 1990s, according to Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, service personnel chief.

Bostick, the Army G-1, said the pending drawdown initially will focus on the temporary 22,000-soldier increase launched three years ago to support the Afghanistan troop surge.

These soldiers can be removed from the force primarily through offsets in accessions and retention, sources say.

The second phase of the drawdown involves 27,000 soldier spaces that were added to end strength during the Grow the Army program, leaving the service with 520,400 active-duty soldiers on Sept. 30, 2016.

The worry:

Gen. Ray Odierno, the service’s new chief of staff, said in early September that the Army probably will be cut beyond the 520,000-soldier level now planned.

Why the worry? The military already faces cuts of $350 billion. But if the budget “supercommittee” fails to come up with $1.2 trillion in cuts this winter, the defense budget will automatically be slashed by another $600 billion.

From the Fox News:

Nearly 200,000 soldiers and Marines would be let go, and the Armed Service Committee members warn that at least 25 percent of the military’s civilian workforce would be furloughed, eliminating at least 200,000 jobs.

And finding employment for returning veterans will be difficult, they warn. The national unemployment rate is currently 9 percent, but unemployment for Iraq and Afghan war vets is 22 percent, and it is 41 percent for wounded vets.

If the deficit super committee fails to reach an agreement, the number of Army battalions will go from 100 to about 60 battalions. The number of Navy ships will go from 288 to 238 – a reduction of two Aircraft Carrier Battle groups. The Air Force would lose more than 400 fighter jets and about 34 strategic bombers.

Hollow force isn’t the word for it. We can’t cut entitlements, but we can cripple our military and remain incapable of defending ourselves. Priorities a decade after 9/11!

Linked by Pundette as a “Recommended Read.” Thanks!