Thursday, June 10, 2010

Truth, economics, government and the art of motorcycle maintenance

Good jobs -- in bulk -- don't come from government. They come from risk-takers starting businesses [NYTimes]...

Obama has managed to give new meaning to the term "big government."

Here's a very serious question to consider from the Cato Institute: Will higher tax rates in 2011 cause an economic collapse?

Obama's deficit reduction commission is eying the possibility of ending tax breaks for mortgage interest.
And finally, the motorcycle maintenance:

With current Pennsylvania Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Sestak, it has been known since February that a job offer intended to persuade him not to challenge the now-vanquished Arlen Specter came from the White House.

Who said so? Sestak himself, time after time after time. Specter himself raised the issue to virtually deaf media ears in March, while resurrecting a term that should long ago have cut through the haze and reentered public consciousness: "misprision."

Specifically, from the U.S. Code:

Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

Thus, it's not enough for Sestak to have told the Philadelphia Inquirer about the offer, or even to havestuck to his story in the face of repeated White House denials and stonewalling. Not only should he have gone to someone "in civil or military authority," he was required to. Not doing so "as soon as possible" is itself a criminal act, and should (but sadly won't) immediately disqualify him in voters' minds as an acceptable candidate for national office.

Instead of being a media obsession, as would have been the case if anything even resembling this had occurred during the previous administration, misprision is a term that only occasionally pops up in stories about lesser-known crimes and is virtually never in establishment media reports about Sestak.

Misprision is equally relevant to Colorado U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff, who like Sestak seems to believe that reporting a felony to the Denver Post is an acceptable legal substitute for going to authorities. The law says it's not. A Google News search on the 31-day period ending with June 3 indicates that no media outlet has associated Romanoff with the crime he appears to have committed.

The president himself would have to be the person who "suggested" making job offers to Sestak, supposedly using America's least credible president ever as his go-between, and Romanoff. But the White House press corps is so in the tank on these two matters that when President Obama held his first press conference in over 300 days in late May, Major Garrett of Fox Newswas the only reporter who even asked about the Sestak affair. All Garrett got was a "we'll get to it" (i.e., "we haven't gotten our story straight yet, and it's not yet time for the holiday Friday news dump") response.

The response when Scooter Libby "lied" to the FBI after being asked the same questions over several months until he finally said something contradictory was, in essence, "String him up." But when the Democratic president of the United States has likely authorized the illegal offering of jobs to fix two U.S. Senate primary contests (maybe three, if Rod Blagojevich is to be believed), the media response has been, "Stop bugging us. There's nothing here. We know because they said so. Now move along."

The malaise-y element of our summer of discontent involves a supposedly recovering economy that still isn't generating significant job growth. Big chunks of March's, April's, and especially May's increases in employment came from temporary Census Bureau positions. John Crudele at the New York Post has uncovered quick hire-fire shenanigans at the Census Bureau that may have caused exaggerations in those numbers.

When May's revisions of first-quarter economic growth came in below expectations at an annualized 3.0%, the Associated Press, which has normally served as the Obama administration's official stenographer, let it slip that "economic growth needs to be a lot stronger — two or three times the current pace — to make a big dent in the nation's 9.9 percent unemployment rate." No quarter since the economy emerged from the recession as normal people define it has met that standard.

The FUD factor (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) has seemingly become a permanent part of the landscape. It's way past time to stop assuming that Team Obama doesn't want things that way. An administration that makes major policy decisions based on day-to-day political advantage — i.e., suspending offshore exploratory drilling for six months in Virginia and Alaska, hundreds and thousands of miles respectively from where the BP catastrophe occurred — has thrown long-term business planning into chaos, forcing managers and owners to focus on month-to-month survival. You don't take on new employees when you don't know what these people will or won't do next.

If Team Obama was legitimately interested in making the rules of the game clearer and less subject to political whim, it would be riding herd on those involved in imposing statist health care to tell consumers and business what to expect. Instead, "missed deadlines and other signs show the Obama administration is stumbling out of the gate on its early steps to implement the president's health-care law," while the Department of Health and Human Services hasn't even produced "a timeline specifying when it will issue the numerous regulations required by the law." This seems to be more than normal bureaucratic bungling, especially since the government has had no problem producing "promotional material touting the law's benefit, including a brochure for senior citizens and post cards from the IRS advertising tax breaks under the law."

The administration (again, in a political calculation) appears to be figuring that the less voters know about the messy details, the less likely they will be to stampede to the polls to throw anyone and everyone who voted for the ObamaCare monstrosity out of office in November.

So the malaise-y days of summer will probably continue. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has been over 9% for 13 straight months. The post-World War II record is 18.


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