Endless Obama deficits threaten dollar’s power

May 24, 2009

The bad news is that President Barack Obama is keeping his campaign promises to raise taxes on upper-income families, borrow and spend, bail out car firms and take control of healthcare.

The good news is that President Obama is not keeping all his campaign promises. There has been no precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, Guantanamo is likely to remain the home of terrorists for some time, the promised “trans- parency” is not so all-encompassing as to include pictures of the treatment accorded the bad guys we captured, and we have not lurched into protectionism.

By Irwin Stelzer
The Times, London

Recall that during his run for the White House, Obama opposed the trade agreements with South Korea and Colombia, accused the Bush administration of failing to deal with China’s “manipulation” of its currency and threatened to use “the hammer of a potential opt-out” to force Mexico and Canada to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).

Campaigning is one thing; governing is another. “Obama is subject to the same geopolitical imperatives as was President Bush,” said Rod Hunter, who served as Bush’s senior director of the National Security Council and is now a colleague of mine at the Hudson Institute, a Washington think tank. It is one thing to throw raw meat to the trade-union lions during a campaign but quite another to antagonise Canada, which has troops in Afghanistan alongside our own; Mexico, an ally in the war on drugs and potential source of oil; South Korea, important to our efforts to contain its northern neighbour; and other countries.
.

So we have the new Obama. Nafta stays as it is; Treasury secretary Tim Geithner has retreated from his charge that China manipulates its currency; and the president has announced “a plan of action” to obtain congressional approval for pending free-trade agreements with Panama and South Korea, and is in discussions with Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe about getting the agreement with his country through a reluctant Congress. Obama has found he also favours “a strong market-opening agreement for agriculture, industrial goods and services through the Doha round \ and through other negotiations”.

Add to that the repeated statements by the president’s US trade representative Ron Kirk, who has been telling relieved business audiences that trade plays “an important role . . . in creating and sustaining better-paying jobs here at home”. Specifically, Kirk wants to expand trade with the Asia-Pacific region because “there is an extraordinary upside to us” in doing so.

“It is reassuring that Obama’s trade agenda appears to be aligning with those of presidents Bush and Clinton — and to their nine predecessors — rather than to the protectionist positions he took on the campaign trail,” commented Theodore Kassinger, former deputy commerce secretary and now a lawyer with O’Melveny & Myers in Washington.

But before awarding the president the Adam Smith Award For Combating Protectionism, consider this. Obama’s first priority is his domestic agenda: “reform” healthcare, restructure the energy industries, involve the federal government more deeply in education, fight the recession, save the carmakers, control bankers’ bonuses, revise the rules that govern the financial sector, and win what is now his war in Afghanistan. Trade is lower down on the list.

Worse still, there are signs that the president is willing to allow the state politicians in charge of disbursing stimulus funds to adopt “buy American” practices, even though his stimulus bill restricts such practices to those that do not violate our trade agreements or World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. Local politicians know that WTO bureaucrats don’t vote in their states.

There are also subtle indications that the president will not fight to prevent protectionist measures from creeping into unrelated legislation. Banks receiving bailout money are chafing under rules that prevent them from hiring talented foreign workers. Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JP Morgan Chase, used the company’s annual meeting to denounce these restrictions as a “complete and utter disgrace” that will inevitably invite retaliation against Americans hoping to work abroad.

And Toyota and other foreign firms that make cars here — American jobs for American workers — are in effect discriminated against by the government’s decision to keep GM and Chrysler from meeting the fate to which a free market would consign them.

Nothing Obama will do on trade, either to free up the flow of goods and services, or to tip the scales in favour of American firms, will in the end matter as much as his reckless fiscal policy.

His budgets project deficits close to $10 trillion by 2019 — and that assumes his healthcare plan will cost only the $635 billion “down-payment” he has put in his budget, rather than the $1.2 trillion experts predict, and that he will succeed in almost freezing defence spending.

That means the US Treasury will be peddling billions of IOUs to investors such as China that already have trillions of this paper in their vaults. So far, so good: the recession-induced flight from risk has led overseas investors to seek a haven in dollar assets. But as the printing presses keep running, and the recession eases, investors will find the risk of being paid in dollars that have shrivelled in value too much to bear.

Which is why the dollar hit its lowest level of the year last week and why for a while it cost less to buy insurance against a default by hamburger-seller McDonald’s than against a default by the world’s only superpower. More important, it is why China and Brazil are trying to cobble together a trade deal that will allow them to bypass the dollar completely and pay in their own currencies. This might well be the first step in China’s announced intention to develop a currency to compete with the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

So, only two cheers for Obama, less of a protectionist than expected, but nevertheless a serious threat to the dominance of the dollar in world trade.

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Obama Wants Supreme Court Nominee to Have “Common Touch” Like Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi….

May 24, 2009

Never mind that a “common touch” could have 300 million differing definitions from our 300 million Americans.

President Barack Obama has decided he wants a “common touch” in his appointee for the Supreme Court.

Talk about non-sense news.

What if the president had said he wanted “a fine legal mind.”  Check.  A ” fair minded litigator.”  Check.  In fact, there is everything about a “common touch” and nothing at all.

Your Granny would say about a “common touch,” “Oh  you know what we mean.”

Which means it is meaningless, really.  A figment of someone’s imagination.

Many would say Joe Biden has a “common touch.”  In fact, that’s exactly what the Washington Examiner says about him this Sunday.

How about “he says stupid stuff but he has a common touch.”  Check.

Or “he has been a United States Senator virtually all his entire adult life except for when he became Vice President but he has a common touch.”  Check.

How “common” is that?

We’ve heard people say that Nancy Pelosi has “a common touch.”  We’ve often thought maybe she’s just a little touched in the head, which has a lot more specific meaning than “common touch.”

“Common touch,” like “empathy,” is kind of a non-descriptive descriptor from the President honored for his eloquence.

As Senator Jon Kyle (R-AZ) said on Fox News Sunday, “I don’t want a Supreme Court judge that makes decisions on emotion or preconceived ideas.  If the law is on the side of the little guy, the little guy wins.  If the law is on the side of the big guy, the big guy wins.”

That we can all understand…


Kyle

CNN on Obama’s “Common Touch”
http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/0
5/23/supreme.court.obama/index.h
tml?section=cnn_latest

********************************

By Bob Kemper
The Washington Examiner

For Joe Biden, gab is no gift. America’s garrulous vice president has a long record of verbal gaffes and a knack for saying exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time. Indeed, his flapping tongue has cost him dearly.

Biden sank his own bid for the presidency in 1988 with a series of inflated claims about his academic credentials and a partially plagiarized speech. Twenty years later, on the day he joined the 2008 presidential race, he eclipsed the news of his own candidacy and reinforced the notion that he represented the political past by describing a black challenger named Barack Obama as “clean.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/po
litics/Joe-Biden-The-Mouth-That-Roar
s-45776782.html

http://hotair.com/archives/2009
/05/23/quote-of-the-day-503/

More federal funding for ACORN despite indictments

May 24, 2009

Under the guise of due process concerns, congressional Democrats have opened the way for organizations with criminal histories to gain greater access to taxpayer funds. Exhibit A here is the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN), now under investigation in at least 14 states for voter registration fraud.

Earlier this month, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Barney Frank, D-MA, sponsored an amendment to the $140 million Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act. The Frank measure allowed organizations being investigated by state or federal authorities on corruption charges to receive federal funds as long as they avoid conviction. Frank argued that his amendment, which was approved by the House, protected the presumption of innocence in federal spending.

But federal ethics rules have long stipulated that either an actual or apparent conflict of interest can put a government employee at risk of prosecution for ethics violations.  So, if the Frank amendment becomes law, the federal government will have a double standard, ignoring the presumption of innocence for its employees with apparent conflicts of interest, but extending the presumption to its funding recipients.

ACORN claims to be non-partisan, but it and its many affiliates have ardently supported Democratic incumbents and candidates at all levels of government.

Read the rest from the Washington Examiner:
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opin
ion/More-ACORN-funding-despite-indictm
ents-45954362.html

California budget crisis could bring lasting economic harm

May 23, 2009
The short-term pain of budget cuts could pale next to a long-term loss of companies and academic talent.
By Martin Zimmerman, Marc Lifsher and Andrea Chang
Los Angeles Times
May 23, 2009

As bad as California’s budget crisis is for the state’s $1.8-trillion economy, just wait. It could get worse.

The spectacle that played out in the national media this week of a state unable to get its fiscal act together is reinforcing the notion that the Golden State is a rotten place to do business, experts say.
.
Corporate leaders and Wall Street investors, watching the daily festival of seeming incompetence, political partisanship and governmental dysfunction, could be persuaded to limit or eliminate their investments here.

“We lose competitive advantage by being the state that can’t solve its problems,” economist Stephen Levy said. “Regardless of what we think the solution is, the fact is we can’t find a solution.”

The budget crisis threatens to further weaken the state’s job market, which lost 63,700 more jobs last month, according to figures released Friday. The state’s overall unemployment rate actually fell slightly, to 11% from 11.2%. But new job losses could prolong the vicious cycle in which the California economy is now trapped, with rising joblessness reducing consumer spending and delaying a housing rebound, thus leading to more layoffs.

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-f
i-cal-econ23-2009may23,0,1242793.story

Statism the only thing being stimulated

May 23, 2009

We’re spending trillions we don’t have to create government programs to spend even more trillions we don’t have.

By Mark Steyn
OC Register

was in Vermont the other day and made the mistake of picking up the local paper. Impressively, it contained a quarter-page ad, a rare sight these days. The rest of the page was made up by in-house promotions for the advertising department’s special offer on yard-sale announcements, etc. But the one real advertisement was from something called SEVCA. SEVCA is a “nonprofit agency,” just like The New York Times, General Motors and the state of California. And it stands for “South-Eastern Vermont Community Action.”

Why, they’re “community organizers,” just like the president! The designated “anti-poverty agency” is taking out quarter-page ads in every local paper because they’re “seeking applicants for several positions funded in full or part by the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA)” – that’s the “stimulus” to you and me. Isn’t it great to see those bazillions of stimulus dollars already out there stimulating the economy? Creating lots of new jobs at SEVCA, in order to fulfill the president’s promise to “create or keep” 2.5 million jobs. At SEVCA, he’s not just keeping all the existing ones, but creating new ones, too. Of the eight new positions advertised, the first is:

“ARRA Projects Coordinator.”

Gotcha. So the first new job created by the stimulus is a job “coordinating” other programs funded by the stimulus. What’s next?

“Grantwriter.”

That’s how they spell it. Like in “Star Wars” – Luke Grantwriter waving his hope saber as instructed by his mentor Obi-Bam Baracki (“May the Funds be with you!”). The Grantwriter will be responsible for writing grant applications “to augment ARRA funds.” So the second new job created by stimulus funding funds someone to petition for additional funding for projects funded by the stimulus.

The third job is a “Marketing Specialist” to increase “public awareness of ARRA-funded services.” Rural Vermont’s economy is set for a serious big-time boom: The critical stimulus-promotion industry, stimulus-coordination industry and stimulus-supplementary-funding industry are growing at an unprecedented rate. The way things are going we’ll soon need a Stimulus-Coordination Industry Task Force and Impact Study Group. By the way, these jobs aren’t for everyone. “Knowledge of ARRA” is required. So if, say, you’re the average United States senator who voted for ARRA without bothering to read it you’re not qualified for a job as an ARRA Grantwriter.

I don’t want to give the impression that every job funded by the stimulus is a job coordinating the public awareness of programs for grant applications to coordinate the funding of public awareness coordination programs funded by the stimulus. SEVCA is also advertising for a “Job Readiness Program Coordinator.” This is a job coordinating the program that gets people ready to get a job. For example, it occurred to me, after reading the ad, that I might like to be a “Job Readiness Program Coordinator.” But am I ready for it? Increasing numbers of us are hopelessly unready for jobs. Ever since last November, many Americans have been ready for free health care, free day care, free college, free mortgages – and, once you get a taste for that, it’s hardly surprising you’re not ready for gainful employment. I only hope there are enough qualified “Job Readiness Program Coordinators” out there, and that they don’t have to initiate a Job Readiness Program Coordinator Readiness Program. As the old novelty song once wondered, “Who Takes Care Of The Caretaker’s Daughter While The Caretaker’s Busy Taking Care?” Who coordinates programs for the Job Readiness Program Coordinator while the Job Readiness Program Coordinator’s busy readying for his job? If you hum it, I’ll put in for the stimulus funding.

Read the rest:
http://www.ocregister.com/articles/job-p
rogram-stimulus-2425198-arra-readiness

Obama Says “Were Out of Money”

May 23, 2009

In a sobering holiday interview with C-SPAN, President Obama boldly told Americans: “We are out of money.”

C-SPAN host Steve Scully broke from a meek Washington press corps with probing questions for the new president.

SCULLY: You know the numbers, $1.7 trillion debt, a national deficit of $11 trillion. At what point do we run out of money?

OBAMA: Well, we are out of money now. We are operating in deep deficits, not caused by any decisions we’ve made on health care so far. This is a consequence of the crisis that we’ve seen and in fact our failure to make some good decisions on health care over the last several decades.

So we’ve got a short-term problem, which is we had to spend a lot of money to salvage our financial system, we had to deal with the auto companies, a huge recession which drains tax revenue at the same time it’s putting more pressure on governments to provide unemployment insurance or make sure that food stamps are available for people who have been laid off.

So we have a short-term problem and we also have a long-term problem. The short-term problem is dwarfed by the long-term problem. And the long-term problem is Medicaid and Medicare. If we don’t reduce long-term health care inflation substantially, we can’t get control of the deficit.

So, one option is just to do nothing. We say, well, it’s too expensive for us to make some short-term investments in health care. We can’t afford it. We’ve got this big deficit. Let’s just keep the health care system that we’ve got now.

Along that trajectory, we will see health care cost as an overall share of our federal spending grow and grow and grow and grow until essentially it consumes everything…

SCULLY: When you see GM though as “Government Motors,” you’re reaction?

OBAMA: Well, you know – look we are trying to help an auto industry that is going through a combination of bad decision making over many years and an unprecedented crisis or at least a crisis we haven’t seen since the 1930’s. And you know the economy is going to bounce back and we want to get out of the business of helping auto companies as quickly as we can. I have got more enough to do without that. In the same way that I want to get out of the business of helping banks, but we have to make some strategic decisions about strategic industries…

SCULLY: States like California in desperate financial situation, will you be forced to bail out the states?

OBAMA: No. I think that what you’re seeing in states is that anytime you got a severe recession like this, as I said before, their demands on services are higher. So, they are sending more money out. At the same time, they’re bringing less tax revenue in. And that’s a painful adjustment, what we’re going end up seeing is lot of states making very difficult choices there…

SCULLY: William Howard Taft served on the court after his presidency, would you have any interest in being on the Supreme Court?

OBAMA: You know, I am not sure that I could get through Senate confirmation…

From the Drudge Report

Arabs, Israelis Unify on One Thing: Obama Is An Innocent Abroad

May 23, 2009

The London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi has published what it claims are key details of the new Middle East peace plan to be presented by President Obama in his speech in Cairo on June 4. Details of the plan made the front page of two leading Israeli newspapers.

By Jonathan Spyer
From the Jerusalem Post

If the revelations prove accurate, they reveal a US administration as yet unacquainted with several basic facts of life concerning politics and strategy in the Middle East.

There were those in Israel who suspected Obama of being a kind of wolf in sheep’s clothing, preparing with a friendly smile to offer up Israel as a sacrifice to its regional enemies.

The picture emerging from the alleged details of his plan suggest a different, though not necessarily more comforting characterization: When it comes to the Middle East, Obama is an innocent abroad.

Observe: We are told that the new plan represents a revised version of the 2002 Arab peace plan and is to offer the following: a demilitarized Palestinian state approximating the armistice lines of June 5, 1967. Territorial exchanges may take place on the West Bank. This state will be established within four years of the commencement of negotiations.

On Palestinian refugees: The refugees and their descendants will be naturalized in their countries of current residence, or will have the right to move to the new Palestinian state. In parallel to the negotiations with the Palestinians, separate negotiating tracks with the Syrians and Lebanese will be established.

If the Obama plan does indeed include these elements, its failure is a certainty, because it has been formulated without reference to regional realities.

Read the rest:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=
1242212437726&pagename=JPost%2FJPAr
ticle%2FShowFull

Wind, Solar Produce only 1% of Electric Needs; Need “Comprehensive Energy Plan”

May 23, 2009

Democrats will increase energy costs and make the U.S. more dependent on foreign oil if they focus solely on alternative energy, the Republicans say.

In the party’s weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said Republicans support a more comprehensive energy plan that would increase funding for energy research, develop U.S. oil and gas resources and promote clean coal and nuclear power.

“Democrats have focused solely on what they call green jobs. Those are jobs from alternative energy. I support green jobs, but why discriminate?” Barrasso said. “American energy means American jobs, which is why I support red-white-and-blue jobs.”

He said renewable energy such as wind and solar power is important, noting that Wyoming has world-class wind resources. But Barrasso said wind and solar only account for about 1 percent of U.S. electricity, far below what is needed to meet the nation’s energy needs.

Associated Press

Barrasso also said Democrats were misguided by ruling out the use of U.S. oil in places such as the Outer Continental Shelf and Alaska.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2009
0523/ap_on_go_co/us_republicans_energy

Hezbollah Has an Idea for Obama on Gitmo: Offers To Kill Prisoners

May 22, 2009

Here’s why Gitmo is so terrible: other people in other nations are appauled at the U.S. for such terrible places as Gitmo.

But in Lebanon today, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said what he would do to spies from Israel: he’d kill them.
.

“In the name of the families of martyrs, of the wounded and of those who lost their homes… I demand that the death penalty is handed down to the agents who provided information that lead to all these things,” Nasrallah, said while speaking via video-link to a rally in Lebanon rally.

The speech was meant to commemorate the ninth anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon.

See the Jerusalem Post:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=
1242212442941&pagename=JPost%2FJPA
rticle%2FShowFull

They have an idea on the Vice President too:
Hezbollah to Obama: Please Take This Fool Biden Back

Forget Cheney, Obama Has Trouble On Gitmo: From Judith Miller, Michelle Malkin, Joe Biden…..

May 22, 2009

Holy Cow!  Judth Miller, late of the new York Times, completely agrees with Michelle Malkin on the Obama Gitmo Non-Plan.

On Fox News Channel on Friday afternnoon, Miller said putting the likes of Gitmo terrorists in with the U.S. prison population “would cause real problems.”

Like Michelle Malkin, Miller discusses the “graduate education” bad guys can get in U.S. prisons.

“His push to transfer violent Muslim warmongers into our civilian prisons – where they have proselytized and plotted with impunity– will only make the problem worse,” Malkin wrote of Obama’s idea to put Gitmo terrorists into U.S. prisons.

Even Joe Biden balked at the President’s plan.

“But, look, what the president said is that this is going to be hard. It’s like opening Pandora’s Box. We don’t know what’s inside the box,” Biden said.

He also said that “to the best of my knowledge” the number of prisoners “who are a real danger who are not able to returned or tried” has “not been established” by the Obama administration.

So he basically just confirmed his predecessor Dick Cheney’s analysis that the decision was taken “with little deliberation, and no plan”.

http://michellemalkin.com/200
9/05/22/the-jihadi-virus-in-our-jails/

Related:
Biden on Obama’s Gitmo “Plan”: “It’s Like Opening Pandora’s Box”