Well, at least he stimulated something!

MSNBC voters?

Your stimulus dollars hard at work:

The Labor Department paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal stimulus funds to a public relations firm to run more than 100 commercials touting the Obama administration’s “green training” job efforts on two MSNBC cable shows, records show.

The commercials ran on MSNBC on shows hosted by Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann in 2009, but the contract didn’t report any jobs created, according to records reviewed recently by The Washington Times.

Spending reports under the federal Recovery Act show $495,000 paid to McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations LLC, which the Labor Department hired to raise awareness “among employers and influencers about the [Job Corps] program’s existing and new training initiatives in high growth and environmentally friendly career areas” as well as spreading the word to prospective Job Corps enrollees.

You’d think the money would’ve been better spent on a spot in which voters not already in the tank for Obama would be watching. But that’s government efficiency for ya: spend money needlessly shoring up voters who’d already vote for ya! No word yet on why taxpayer money is funding Obama’s relection campaign. But the damn signs all over the roadway are another story (again, free adverts).









Husband was incredulous over this last night. But I reminded him of Obama’s Chicago pol heritage. As long-time visitors to the Windy City, you get used to this:







Daley’s name was plastered over every trashcan and on every airport kiosk. Free advertising on the taxpayer dime. Obama learned well!



“It is not our job to protect the people from the consequence of their political choices.”

So argues Chief Justice John Roberts in his majority opinion. So, the joke’s on us, is that it? I’m having a hard time deciding if Roberts intended this to be the equivalent of Obama’s snide “above my paygrade” retort.

Other bits and pieces as my due date flies by and the thermometer climbs above 100. (Note to self: future pjBabies must be born in winter. Lots of snow preferable. Will deal with the loss of ski season.)

Via Hot Air:

What say you? Will Obama survive the largest tax increase in history during the middle of a recession?

I’m leaning toward not.

Pyrric victory and all. Oremus.

A little Mark Levin for your listening enjoyment here.

I’m intrigued more than anything about the possibility that Roberts changed his mind. The dissents written by Scalia and Thomas lefthints.

Spreading that wealth

Bits and pieces. Via Washington Examiner, Obama obfuscates his intent:

President Obama, who famously called for tax increases on the wealthy to “spread the wealth around,” denied today that his tax increases on the rich are an attempt to “redistribute wealth.”

“So these investments — in things like education and research and health care — they haven’t been made as some grand scheme to redistribute wealth from one group to another,” the president said today at Florida Atlantic University. “This is not some socialist dream,” Obama added, as he called for tax increases on millionaires today to pay for those investments.

A reminder:

When he advocated the same plan in 2008, though, Obama described this “spread the wealth around” policy.  “I’m gonna cut taxes a little bit more for the folks who are most in need and for the 5 percent of the folks who are doing very well – even though they’ve been working hard and I appreciate that – I just want to make sure they’re paying a little bit more in order to pay for those other tax cuts,” he told Samuel Wurzelbacher (aka Joe the Plumber), who is now running for Congress.

Too bad that wealth doesn’t run very deep. Allahpundit: Just a reminder: “Buffett Rule” that Obama won’t stop talking about is aimed mainly at around 400 taxpayers.

400. But who’s counting when all we’re doing is stripping their money away to help others sit on their duffs. Chris Christie nailed it:

Christie said he hasn’t seen a less optimistic period in the country in his lifetime.

“Government’s telling them stop dreaming, stop striving, we’ll take care of you,” he said at a theater at the New York Historical Society. “We’re turning into a paternalistic entitlement society. That will not just bankrupt us financially, it will bankrupt us morally.”

“We’ll have a bunch of people sitting on a couch waiting for their next government check,” Christie said.

It already has bankrupted us morally. Half of the populace takes from the other and is still allowed to vote for more handouts. I’d call that bankrupt.

Is Romney strong enough to make the necessary contrast with redistributionist Obama? Oremus.


White House scrubs story of Malia’s jaunt to Mexico for all the wrong reasons

It’s not the security threat. The press treatment of the Bush twins proves that.

It’s the moolah.

Everyone knows how much money Michelle likes to spend on her little jaunts outside the White House. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, eh? It’s not that Americans are warned against all travel to Mexico. It’s the 25 Secret Service agents and 3 armored vehicles that accompanied the young Obama. No wonder the other parents let their kids go on a “school trip.” They had security provided by yokels like you and me.


Perry’s flat tax: It’s so easy Tim Geithner can do it!

On a postcard, no less.

Rick Perry discloses details of his new tax plan in the WSJ. As someone who gave a persuasive speech on the glories of a flat tax to an undergraduate speech class eons ago, I’m smitten:

On Tuesday I will announce my “Cut, Balance and Grow” plan to scrap the current tax code, lower and simplify tax rates, cut spending and balance the federal budget, reform entitlements, and grow jobs and economic opportunity.

The plan starts with giving Americans a choice between a new, flat tax rate of 20% or their current income tax rate. The new flat tax preserves mortgage interest, charitable and state and local tax exemptions for families earning less than $500,000 annually, and it increases the standard deduction to $12,500 for individuals and dependents.

This simple 20% flat tax will allow Americans to file their taxes on a postcard, saving up to $483 billion in compliance costs. By eliminating the dozens of carve-outs that make the current code so incomprehensible, we will renew incentives for entrepreneurial risk-taking and investment that creates jobs, inspires Americans to work hard and forms the foundation of a strong economy. My plan also abolishes the death tax once and for all, providing needed certainty to American family farms and small businesses.

My only beef: it’s optional. Why preserve the “mind-boggling complexity” for those who would choose to use it? It keeps the IRS folks employed? Raze the building and put the few needed in a trailer somewhere in the middle of Iowa. Dismantle the bureaucracy.

Learned something new:

To help older Americans, we will eliminate the tax on Social Security benefits, boosting the incomes of 17 million current beneficiaries who see their benefits taxed if they continue to work and earn income in addition to Social Security earnings.

What is this? The government taketh away what the government giveth? I had no idea seniors paid taxes on SS benefits. Why?

Even better than a flat tax, a balanced budget by 2020:

We should start moving toward fiscal responsibility by capping federal spending at 18% of our gross domestic product, banning earmarks and future bailouts, and passing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. My plan freezes federal civilian hiring and salaries until the budget is balanced. And to fix the regulatory excess of the Obama administration and its predecessors, my plan puts an immediate moratorium on pending federal regulations and provides a full audit of all regulations passed since 2008 to determine their need, impact and effect on job creation.

If I can persuade a class full of folks who don’t give a lick about politics that the current tax system is inherently unfair and a flat tax would simplify their lives in 15 minutes, Rick Perry damn well better run with this hard. Steve Forbes is in. Robbie Cooper is, too.

Unsurprising: Ol‘ Flip-Flop Mitt–who famously derided Steve Forbes and the flat tax–now says he loves him some flat tax.  Serve it up with syrup and a smile, Rick.

Read the rest.

H/t: Memeorandum

UPDATE: To borrow R.S. McCain’s shtick, since Ed Morrissey is an influential blogger of consequence and linked by the likes of Memeorandum when he pings ’em, he was included in a conference call this morning with Perry. The Q&A is interesting reading as is his conclusion:

I’m encouraged by this plan.  I think there are a couple of points to quibble over — I’m not a fan of making the flat tax optional on the personal side, as I think we have enough problems with one system, let alone two.  I agree that this issue will mainly take care of itself, though, as people flock to a system that’s simpler while still maintaining their mortgage interest deductions.  Having the exemptions for a family of four reach $50K keeps Democrats from demagoguing it as an attack on the middle class, too.  I’m most excited about flattening the corporate tax rate, where Congress creates the most mischief.

I think he may be right regarding the mass exodus of folks to the postcard plan. Hardest hit: tax preparers.


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Need a laugh? OWS edition

This should get you rolling.

I wonder if those joyless folks demanding everyone else pay to provide free education and imaginary $20/hr jobs would find this as funny as I do. Probably not, eh?

That makes it even funnier.

H/t: Instapundit.

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.


Apples and oranges, vacation style

The bean-counter of all things White House, Mark Knoller compares vacation days of presidents:

There has been criticism of the president’s vacation at this time. But how does the number of vacation days the president has spent compare to his predecessors? CBS Radio’s Mark Knoller has kept track of presidential vacations for years and supplied the data.

So far, President Obama has taken 61 vacation days after 31 months in office. At this point in their presidencies, George W. Bush had spent 180 days at his ranch where his staff often joined him for meetings. And Ronald Reagan had taken 112 vacation days at his ranch.

 Among recent presidents, Bill Clinton took the least time off — 28 days.

A few points: vacations for all Presidents are “working” vacations, a point Knoller later makes. Reagan and GW both owned the land they went back to, thereby not incurring vast expenses for taxpayers to house staff and Secret Service.

My question for Mark Knoller: how much taxpayer money did each President spend on vacations?

Therein lies the difference.

As for optics, Pundette  laughs off VDH’s suggestions for an “Alternate vacation.” On the cheap and with the people ain’t the Obama way.

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That’s how much it costs taxpayers to subsidize each ticket into the bustling metropolis of Ely, Nevada, and the cause of the great pissing match in DC about the cut in funding to the FAA. From the AP:

On some days, the pilots with Great Lakes Airlines fire up a twin-engine Beechcraft 1900 at the Ely, Nev., airport and depart for Las Vegas without a single passenger on board. And the federal government pays them to do it.

Federal statistics reviewed by The Associated Press show that in 2010, just 227 passengers flew out of Ely while the airline got $1.8 million in subsidies. The travelers paid $70 to $90 for a one-way ticket. The cost to taxpayers for each ticket: $4,107.

Ely is one of 153 rural communities where airlines get subsidies through the $200 million Essential Air Service program, and one of 13 that critics say should be eliminated from it. Some call the spending a boondoggle, but others see it as a critical financial lifeline to ensure economic stability in rural areas.

Steve Smith, executive director of the Jackson, Tenn., airport authority, also has seen empty or near empty flights take off, since the airlines get paid per flight, not per passenger. The subsidy amounted to $244 for each of the 2,514 people who flew out of Smith’s airport last year, though few if any passengers knew that.

“They fly the empty plane so they can still get the money,” Smith said.

Empty planes, empty suits. What’s the difference anymore, eh? Empty planes flying into Ely, Nevada, to line the pockets of the airline, the airport employees, and the single janitor who can clean the entire facility in less than 30 minutes. I’m sure he’s the one who pulls the luggage from the hold, too. Why do we wonder where the money goes or why we’re broke when we subsidize empty flights so that a handful of people can hold on to their jobs? Who’s brilliant idea was it to build an airport in a town of 4,255 people? 

If the bustling tourist town of Ely can’t support an airport on its own sans taxpayer support, then the airport should close.

It really is that simple, y’all.

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The inverse is also true, and more appropriate

Robert Samuelson outlines a ten-point plan to cut the deficit and balance the budget. His plan combines a mix of cuts and tax hikes, but he omits something important from the premise of his argument [emphasis mine]:

Decide to balance the budget over a decade. “Deficit reduction” isn’t good enough. The case for balance (albeit at “full employment”) is simple: discipline. If people want public services, they should be willing to pay for them.

True enough. But if the people do not want public services, the government should then be forced to cut them. The absence of that line of reasoning is part of the reason we’re in trouble. No one starves the beast. No one questions it. And that’s how taxpayers end up subsidizing empty planes to nowhere.

Related: Felonious Monk‘s “Balance the Budget” video. Language warning: not for little ears. Hilarity warning. I had tears streaming from my eyes as I choked on coffee.