Archive for the ‘Obama – Promises Made & Kept’ Category

Flashback: Even the NYT admitted that ObamaCare had losers, too …

June 29, 2017

And, those folks reside in the middle class !

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Since healthcare (err, make that “health insurance”) is front and center again, I thought I’d dust this one off:

Way back in 2013, the NY Times published an argument defining article titled; Don’t Dare Call the Health Law ‘Redistribution’

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I assumed that it would be a typical NYT pro-Obama pitch about how ObamaCare wasn’t a redistribution of wealth … that it was simply a well-intended effort to improve the wasn’t a redistribution of wealth … that it was simply a well-intended effort to improve the health care system by providing universal insurance coverage.

To the contrary.

The article put in black & white the “truth” that, at it’s core, ObamaCare is a wealth distribution scheme with both winners and losers.

OMG, they said it.

Not “like it, keep it with lower premiums” but “winners & losers”

Here are the killer quotes ….

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Will President Trump get a Nobel Peace Prize?

May 22, 2017

That’s the thought that was running through my mind.

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It must have been an unbearable weekend for Trump-haters.

He got an enthusiastic, lavish red carpet welcome in Saudi Arabia.

He wasn’t boorish, crude, moronic, Islamophobic … or worse.

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He delivered a powerful speech to the leaders of 50 Muslim countries emphasizing:

  • There’s a fundamental difference between good and evil
  • Terrorists are evil and need to be eradicated from the earth.
  • Iran represents ground zero in the fight against terrorism.
  • Muslim-majority nations need to step-up and lead the fight.
  • America will help and will be dependable, because it’s in our self-interest.

Then, he participated in the ceremonial opening of a center intended to monitor and counter-act extremist ideologies.

Seriously, how can anybody think that those are bad ideas?

So, back to the opening question: will Trump get a Nobel Peace Prize … just like Obama did 8 years ago?

Obviously, he’s got a few things working against him….

(more…)

What ever happened to “equal protection under the law”?

December 23, 2013

There’s been a lot of ObamaCare chatter related to the Administration’s unilateral modifications of the law.

You know, the special favors and waivers that the President has been granting via HHS rules and executive orders.

I hear a lot about how the President is acing unconstitutionally by by simply changing a law enacted by Congress, but …

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I haven’t heard any pundits flashing the 14th Amendment – the so-called “equal protection” clause.

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Gotcha: Even the NYT admits that ObamaCare has losers, too …

November 27, 2013

Man, even I want to stop dwelling on ObamaCare  (or as I like to call it, ObamACA™ )

But , it’s a gift to bloggers that keeps on giving … and, this is BIG !

Last Saturday, the NY Times published an argument defining article titled; Don’t Dare Call the Health Law ‘Redistribution’

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I assumed that it would be a typical NYT pro-Obama pitch about how ObamaCare wasn’t a redistribution of wealth … that it was simply a well-intended effort to improve the wasn’t a redistribution of wealth … that it was simply a well-intended effort to improve the health care system by providing universal insurance coverage.

To the contrary.

The article put in black & white the “truth” that, at it’s core, ObamaCare is a wealth distribution scheme with both winners and losers.

OMG, they said it.

Not “like it, keep it with lower premiums” but “winners & losers”

Here are the killer quotes ….

(more…)

Uh-oh: Hospitals outing narrow network insurance plans …

November 22, 2013

“Does your health plan give you access to INOVA’s 4,000 physicians and 5 of the best hospitals in the region?”

That’s the question posed in the mailing I got yesterday …. with a specific reference to the “health plan exchanges” and a strong recommendation to “check your plans” to keep your doctors since “You deserve choices, You deserve the best”.

English translation: “You might be be able to keep your doctor either. Period.”

 

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I expected “narrow networks” to be the next wave of ObamaCare angst, … but, I expected it to build slowly as folks discovered that their doctors aren’t participating in the new & improved ObamaCare-compliant plans.

Apparently, some docs are taking the cut in reimbursement rates personally.

Surprise, surprise, surprise.

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Uh-oh: Below the Mendoza line …

November 6, 2013

According to the Gallup Daily tracking poll, the President’s approval rating has dropped below 40%.

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Here’s the demographic drill down …

(more…)

Failure to launch … the week in pictures.

November 3, 2013

If you thought you had a bad week … scroll down.

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma                >> Latest Posts

“Don’t tell me that words don’t matter”

October 30, 2013

Flashback to February 2008 …

To counter Hillary’s snark that he was all words and no substance – Candidate Obama gave a moving speech re: how much words matter.

The punch line:

“I’m running for president of the United States of America … because the American people want to believe in change again. Don’t tell me
words don’t matter!”   Transcript

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So, why would I bring that up today?

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Remember Rep. Joe Wilson’s notorious shout out: “You lie!”

October 29, 2013

During the 2010 State-of-the Union address, Rep. Joe Wilson of SC shouted “You lie” when Pres. Obama was going through a list of what ObamaCare would and would not do.

First, let’s all agree that Wilson’s  outburst was completely inappropriate for the venue.

That said, how does the substance of his shout out stack up?

Let’s start with a softball and then advance the story …

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Detroit: From Motown to Notown …

July 22, 2013

The city of Detroit has lost more than half of its population over the last 60 years.

In 1950, the city was the fifth-largest city in the country with a population of around 1.8 million.

Today its population is estimated at just under 700,000.

Translation: a tax base that’s asymptotically approaching zero.

Last week, the inevitable happened: the city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy.

The bankruptcy petition seeks protection from creditors and unions who stake claim to $18.5 billion in debt and other liabilities – mostly bloated union pensions.

Here’s a short video that puts the Detroit situation in perspective.

 

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Consider the following regarding the city of Detroit …

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Why the uproar about the phone and internet surveillance?

June 7, 2013

Yesterday it was revealed that the Feds are routinely gathering and mining  “metadata” on all phone calls and trolling through emails and other Internet content.

Ostensibly they’re just on the look out for terrorists …  that’s a good thing.

I think most folks would agree.

But many folks are in an uproar over the matter.

Why?

For starters, a lot of folks don’t trust the Feds much anymore.

According to Gallup, less than 1 in 5 Americans say that they trust the Federal government

… over 80% only trust the Federal government some of the time or never.

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And, those numbers are before accounting for:

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Obama pledges (again): “Won’t increase the deficit by one dime” … say, what?

February 14, 2013

First, I have to admit that I was part of the vast majority of Americans who didn’t watch Obama’s State of the Union address this week.

About 37.75 million viewers watched President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address, which was aired live across 14 broadcast and cable networks.

That was down 12% from last year’s speech,  and down 21% from Obama’s first State of the Union in 2010.

No, I wasn’t watching the LA police torch Christopher Dorner.

I was watching a Castle re-run … and, proud of it.

I am a bit disappointed that I missed Obama refrain his signature line that his free-spending on a smorgasbord of whacky programs “won’t add one dime to the deficit”

Yeah, right.

The GOP was quick to pounce with a commercial showing Obama  spin that whopper several time over the years.

click to view
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The ad points out that the deficit has increased more than 58 trillion dimes since Obama took office.

Maybe that’s what he meant … that the programs would boost the deficit by a couple of trillion dimes … not just one dime.

Where was Joe Wilson last night?

Maybe he was home watching Castle, too.

P.S. To the President: if there are programs that can be cut to fund these whacky programs, why not just cut them and reduce the deficit?

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma           >> Latest Posts

Games: Let’s play Obama Bingo during tonite’s State-of-the-Union Address …

February 12, 2013

It’s that time of the year … let’s play Obama Bingo during tonite’s State-of-the-Union Address.

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Irish bookies lay odds on which clichés President Obama will drop first and say most often in his State of the Union address.

Why not turn it into a game …. like students do with boring profs.

Randomly post the most likely clichés to squares on 5 x 5 game cards.

First player to score a row, a column, a diagonal or the 4 corners with “he said it” marks wins the game.

Here’s the official odds on what Obama will say first and often …

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Chart: Just a bit behind plan

January 4, 2013

This chart can’t be shown too often

Remember when Obama’s crack team of economic advisers said “Give us a trillion dollars and we’ll keep unemployment under 8%”?

They also said that the unemployment rate would be about 5.2% right about now.

Well, we’re at 7.8% … a mere 50% miss.

Wish I’d been held to those accountability standards when I was working in corporate America.

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Source: AEI

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma          >> Latest Posts

No economist foresaw the severity of the recession … and no president could have done a better job … wrong and WRONG!

October 2, 2012

Obama has been stumping that no economists foresaw the severity of the recession … so don’t blame him the a trillion dollar faux-stimulus didn’t keep unemployment under 8%.

Former President Clinton pitched at the DNC that no president – not even him – could have pulled us out of the dive better than Barack did.

Huh?

Last weekend, the  NY Times debunked the first claim:

President-elect Obama’s economic team spent the final weeks of 2008 trying to assess how bad the economy was.

It was during those weeks ..when they first discussed academic research by the economists Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff that would soon become well known.

Ms. Reinhart and Mr. Rogoff  … were arguing that financial crises led to slumps that were longer and deeper than other recessions.

Almost inevitably … policy makers battling a crisis made the mistake of thinking that their crisis would not be as bad as previous ones.

Obama advisers … knew the history … yet, of course,  they did repeat it.

By late 2008, the full depth of the crisis was not clear, but enough of it was.

A few prominent liberal economists were publicly predicting a long slump.

The Obama team, in private, discussed the Reinhart-Rogoff work.

So why didn’t that work do more to affect the team’s decisions?

Want more proof?

On 12/24/2008, USA Today published a piece titled: Forecasters share predictions for economy’s outlook in 2009

The punch lines:

If the recession continues past the spring, as many economists predict, it will be the most prolonged one since the Great Depression.

Employers are expected to continue to shed jobs at a rapid pace.

Consumers will pull back spending.

Businesses will cancel equipment purchases. Unsold, empty homes will dot city blocks.

I guess what Team Obama means is Goolsbee, Romer, and Bernstein didn’t see the severity.

Clinton’s claim of un-doability is just plain silly.

Reagan inherited a recession as severe as the one Obama inherited, plus 18% inflation.

He pulled the economy out in 1-term … so, there !

Team Obama seems to have a penchant for re-writing history.

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Tread marks: NEWSWEEK throws Obama under the bus!

August 20, 2012

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Here’s the picture; below are a couple of snippets; click to read the whole article (a must read!).

Couldn’t have said it better myself …  send to friends.

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Snippets

The question confronting the country … is not who was the better candidate four years ago. It is whether the winner has delivered on his promises. And the sad truth is that he has not.
 

In his inaugural address, Obama promised “not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.” He promised to “build the roads and bridges, the electric grids, and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.” He promised to “restore science to its rightful place and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost.” And he promised to “transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.” Unfortunately the president’s scorecard on every single one of those bold pledges is pitiful.

Welcome to Obama’s America: nearly half the population is not represented on a taxable return—almost exactly the same proportion that lives in a household where at least one member receives some type of government benefit. We are becoming the 50–50 nation—half of us paying the taxes, the other half receiving the benefits.

The president has done absolutely nothing to close the long-term gap between spending and revenue.

After all, it’s the president’s job to run the executive branch effectively—to lead the nation. And here is where his failure has been greatest.

Larry Summers told Orszag over dinner in May 2009: “You know, Peter, we’re really home alone  …  I mean it. We’re home alone. There’s no adult in charge.  … You can’t just march in and make that argument and then have him make a decision … because he doesn’t know what he’s deciding.”

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 did nothing to address the core defects of the system: the long-run explosion of Medicare costs as the baby boomers retire, the “fee for service” model that drives health-care inflation, the link from employment to insurance that explains why so many Americans lack coverage, and the excessive costs of the liability insurance that our doctors need to protect them from our lawyers.

The president just kept ducking the fiscal issue. Having set up a bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, headed by retired Wyoming Republican senator Alan Simpson and former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles, Obama effectively sidelined its recommendations of approximately $3 trillion in cuts and $1 trillion in added revenues over the coming decade

For me the president’s greatest failure has been not to think through the implications of these challenges to American power. Far from developing a coherent strategy, he believed—perhaps encouraged by the premature award of the Nobel Peace Prize—that all he needed to do was to make touchy-feely speeches around the world explaining to foreigners that he was not George W. Bush.

America under this president is a superpower in retreat, if not retirement. Small wonder 46 percent of Americans—and 63 percent of Chinese—believe that China already has replaced the U.S. as the world’s leading superpower or eventually will.

It is a sign of just how completely Barack Obama has “lost his narrative” since getting elected that the best case he has yet made for reelection is that Mitt Romney should not be president. In his notorious “you didn’t build that” speech, Obama listed what he considers the greatest achievements of big government: the Internet, the GI Bill, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam, the Apollo moon landing, and even (bizarrely) the creation of the middle class. Sadly, he couldn’t mention anything comparable that his administration has achieved.

Ken’s Take:

There’s not much new news in the article’s content … all of it has been said before somewhere … much has been said here in the HomaFiles.

The news is that a liberal magazine has thrown Obama under the bus.

Newsweek, by breaking from the left-ranks, may have given permission to other media to at least jump off the bus and start reporting squarely.

OMG.

>> Latest Posts

“Our plan worked” … say, what?

August 7, 2012

A picture is worth a thousand words.

So, here’s a picture.

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Source: AEI

>> Latest Posts

A preview of the 2012 campaign ad wars …

June 30, 2012

Remember the “Chinese Professor” commercial that ran during the 2010 elections cycle?

               click to view
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It was generally considered to be a very effective execution.

The GOP’s stated strategy for 2012 is is to use President Obama’s own words and actions against him.

“Operation Hot Mic” is the work of American Crossroads — Karl Rove’s Super Pac.

I think the commercial is very well crafted … it combines the feel of “Chinese Professor” with the guts of “Own Words”.

Worth watching whether conservative or liberal …

              click to view
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Thanks to JC for feeding the lead

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On civility: Do as I say, not as I do.

July 8, 2011

Back in January – seizing the moment after the Gabrielle Gifford’s shooting, “President Obama called for a New Era of Civility in U.S. Politics”.

“At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized, at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do,” he said, “it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”

Fast forward to this week’s Twitter news conference:

Obama Warns Debt Ceiling Should Not Be ‘Used As A Gun’ To Extract Tax Breaks

In some of his harshest language to date in the fight over the deficit, President Obama warned today that the debt ceiling should not be “used as a gun” against Americans’ heads to extract tax breaks for the wealthy.

Guess the President isn’t a big fan of the Golden Rule …

>> Current Posts

Obama: “We don’t need to spike the ball” … then heads to Ground Zero to start victory lap … W. says “Count me out”

May 5, 2011

Couple of head scratchers:

President Obama caused a stir in the Muslim world by authorizing the release of pictures of alleged abuse by American soldiers.  But, he’s not releasing the UBL photos because they might cause a stir in the Muslim world.

Hmmm.

His rationale: “We don’t need to spike the football.”

Then he started packing his bags for his first trip as President to Ground Zero” … that is, starting his personal victory lap.

He invited President Bush to join him, but got a regrets card back.

Pundits say it’s because Bush now prefers staying out of the spotlight.

I have a further explanation …

Remember when Obama invited Rep. Paul Ryan to sit in the front row at his budget speech and then proceeded to excoriate Ryan in public.  Calling him names and accusing him of going after autistic children.

Bush probably realized that if he went to Ground Zero with Obama he (1) would  probably end up is some of Obama’s campaign videos and (2) would have to listen to Obama rake him over the coals for enhanced interrogations, Gitmo, etc.

Maybe W isn’t that dumb after all.

PS Late word: President Clinton also got an invite … and sent his regrets.

Pro-business, except for …

January 26, 2011

Oil companies, banks, insurance companies, manufacturing companies with global footprints.

Hmmm.

Tax rates for high-earners are going up to fund “investments” in things Americans are clamoring for … like high speed rail between Disneyland and Las Vegas, and wiring up rural America (when the rest of the world is going wireless).

Corporate tax rates coming down, but corporate taxes staying the same or going up … huh?

Closing corp tax loopholes except for windmills, solar shingles, etc.

Don’t even think about touching ObamaCare … except the 1099s for small businesses.

Bottom line: I lost, you won, I don’t care, business as usual.

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Most notable:  Colleges should welcome back military recruiters and ROTC.

Silliness: “Sputnik moment”, faces in the crowd, weird stories of visits to community colleges and shingle companies.

Most surprising: Even the Dems in the crowd looked bored.  My imagination, or were some doing Siduko puzzles?

So “do it” moment: overlapping functions across executive branch agencies (e.g. the salmon story) … they’re under your management Mr. President. So, fix them and stop yakking … !

Obama heckled in Connecticut … responds with outright lie!

November 1, 2010

Yesterday, at a campaign rally in Bridgeport, Obama was heckled by “young people” chanting “keep the promise” … and responded with a boldface lie that drew cheers from supporters.

Wonder if mainstream media will call him on the lie?

I’m betting ‘no’.

First, here’s the recap of the heckling:

Obama was interrupted by college-age hecklers demanding more funding for the global fight against AIDS.

They chanted, “Keep the promise,” and unfurled banners with the same message. The protesters were booed.

“Excuse me! Excuse me, young people!” Obama said, trying to regain control.

“These folks have been, you’ve been appearing at every rally we’ve been doing. And we’re funding global AIDS, and the other side is not. So I don’t know why you think this is a useful…”

CT Mirror, Obama tries to rekindle hope, October 30, 2010
http://ctmirror.org/story/8229/bridgeport-obama-finds-hope-and-hecklers

Now, from left-leaning CNN no less, the inconvenient truth …

CNN, George W. Bush led on AIDS. Will Obama?, September 21st, 2010

The world needs President Barack Obama to be a global leader on HIV/AIDS.

It was not that long ago faith leaders and millions of activists organized across the globe to press President George W. Bush to respond to the AIDS pandemic and fund solutions to end extreme global poverty.

The result of bold American leadership led to nothing short of a historic wave of success.

Today, nearly four million Africans are on life saving HIV/AIDS medicines, up from 50,000 in 2002. President Bush’s legacy in the fight against global AIDS is strong …

Barack Obama campaigned on a promise to continue that leadership.

But today, his promise has yet to be kept.

Unfortunately, one major source of funding to fight AIDS, The Presidents Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) has been neglected.

During his campaign, President Obama made a promise to increase the Presidents Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) funding by $1 billion a year if elected.

He hasn’t done it. That’s a broken promise.

For those of us in this country, it’s a matter of Obama fulfilling a campaign promise. For the world’s poorest, it’s a matter of life and death.

Full article:
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/09/21/my-take-george-w-bush-led-on-aids-will-obama/

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Side note
: “Excuse me, young people” ????

Translation: “You’re dumb, I’m smart”.

Flashback: “Line by line”

July 8, 2010

Remember when Obama was on the stump and he told us to “make no mistake about it,”  he’ll go through the federal budget “line by line” and take a “scalpel” to spending.

Yeah, right.

One of these things is not like the others …

May 3, 2010

Remember the Sesame Street skits where — as a kid — you had to identify that in a group consisting of an apple, an orange, a dog, and a grapefruit that the dog “wasn’t like the others” ?

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Let’s play that game again.  Here’s the group:

(a)  “When you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZcEHLr4gBg

(b) “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2010/04/28/obama_to_wall_street_i_do_think_at_a_certain_point_youve_made_enough_money.html

(c) “There will be time for them to make profits … now is not that time.”
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/politics_nation/2009/01/obama_now_is_not_the_time_for.html

(d)  “I’m not anti-business … or anti-capitalism”
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_32/b4142000676096.htm

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If you were raised on Sesame Street, you probably picked (d) … correct.

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There are a bunch of ironies:

(1) Some people seem genuinely surprised these days that Obama is trying to spread the wealth around … geez, he said he was going to do it and people voted for him and his ideas.  As the President likes to say (over & over & over): elections have consequences.

(2) Apparently $5.5 million per year is below the threshold of “you’ve made too much money” since that was what Obama raked in last year while in his $400,000 per year job as President … hmmm.  Remember in a debate John McCain answered “what’s rich?” with the answer: $5 million … double hmmm.

(3) Jobs, jobs, jobs … if the Dems have an Achilles Heel this November it’s the unemployment rate.  Other than bloating the government bureaucracies and watchdog agencies, where does the President think the jobs are going to be created?  Does he really think that he can rally American businesses by constantly vilifying them — one after another?  I guess the approach might work, but I’m taking the under bet …

Here come the bumper stickers …

April 20, 2010

President Obama seems to have struck a nerve with unhappy taxpayers by mocking them: “They should be telling me thank you!”

The campaign bumper stickers have already started appearing.
 

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Quick: Name a player on your favorite baseball team …

April 7, 2010

I bet you could … but President Obama couldn’t.

In a TV interview, he declared the Chicago White Sox to be his favorite baseball team.

Then, he  choked on a soft-toss question: “So, who’s your favorite White Sox player ?”

He couldn’t think of one, so he used the opportunity to inject a little class warfare and declare the Cubs (the Homa family’s favorite team) — simply for “wine sippers”.

Where’s the  teleprompter when you need it ?

P.S. Before anybody asks: All-time favorite Sammie Sosa (he was framed on the steroids rap — and on the bat corking incident); current favorite Aramis Ramirez  (he don’t need no juice to make the ball fly)

Short video … worth a look

Wash Post: The answer was a doozy … “Holy filibuster, Batman”

April 6, 2010

Punchline: I once worked with a guy who sorted managers into two categories: simplifiers and complicators … his view: the former always win.

If ObamaCare is so good and the President is so smart, articulate, and practiced on the subject … why can’t he explain it?

Here’s the Wash Post recap; below are links to the text & video of the President’s answer … and a great summation by Charles Krathammer.

From the Washington Post, “Obama’s 17-minute, 2,500-word response to woman’s claim of being over-taxed”, April 2, 2010

Even by President Obama’s loquacious standards, an answer he gave here in Charlotte on health care was a doozy.

Toward the end of a question-and-answer session with workers at an advanced battery technology manufacturer, a woman asked the president whether it was a “wise decision to add more taxes to us with the health care package”.

“We are over-taxed as it is”. 

Obama started out feisty.

“Well, let’s talk about that, because this is an area where there’s been just a whole lot of misinformation, and I’m going to have to work hard over the next several months to clean up a lot of the misapprehensions that people have.”

He then spent the next 17 minutes and 12 seconds lulling the crowd into a daze.

His discursive answer – more than 2,500 words long — wandered from topic to topic, including commentary on the deficit, pay-as-you-go rules passed by Congress, Congressional Budget Office reports on Medicare waste, COBRA coverage, the Recovery Act and Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (he referred to this last item by its inside-the-Beltway name, “F-Map”). He talked about the notion of eliminating foreign aid (not worth it, he said). He invoked Warren Buffett, earmarks and the payroll tax that funds Medicare (referring to it, in fluent Washington lingo, as “FICA”).

Always fond of lists, Obama ticked off his approach to health care — twice. “Number one is that we are the only — we have been, up until last week, the only advanced country that allows 50 million of its citizens to not have any health insurance,” he said.

A few minutes later he got to the next point, which seemed awfully similar to the first. “Number two, you don’t know who might end up being in that situation,” he said, then carried on explaining further still.

“Point number three is that the way insurance companies have been operating, even if you’ve got health insurance you don’t always know what you got, because what has been increasingly the practice is that if you’re not lucky enough to work for a big company that is a big pool, that essentially is almost a self-insurer, then what’s happening is, is you’re going out on the marketplace, you may be buying insurance, you think you’re covered, but then when you get sick they decide to drop the insurance right when you need it,” Obama continued, winding on with the answer.

Halfway through, an audience member on the riser yawned.

But Obama wasn’t finished. He had a “final point,” before starting again with another list — of three points.

“What we said is, number one, we’ll have the basic principle that everybody gets coverage,” he said, before launching into the next two points, for a grand total of seven.

His wandering approach might not matter if Obama weren’t being billed as the chief salesman of the health-care overhaul. Public opinion on the bill remains divided, and Democratic officials are planning to send Obama into the country to persuade wary citizens that it will work for them in the long run.

It was not evident that he changed any minds at the event.

The audience sat politely, but people in the back of the room began to wander off.

Even Obama seemed to recognize that he had gone on too long. He apologized — in keeping with the spirit of the moment, not once, but twice. “Boy, that was a long answer. I’m sorry,” he said, drawing nervous laughter that sounded somewhat like relief as he wrapped up.

But, he said: “I hope I answered your question.”

Source article:
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2010/04/obamas-17-minute-2500-word-res.html

Video of Obama’s answer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Jz6y_16NI8

Text of Obama’s answer:
http://whitehouse.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/04/02/obamas-17-minute-14-second-answer-on-higher-taxes-and-health-care/ 

=> Krauthammer’s rephrasing of the answer:
http://www.wikio.co.uk/video/krauthammer-20-seconds-correct-answer-obama-rant-3041426

Liar, liar … pants on fire !

March 5, 2010

OK, all politicians lie.  That’s not new news. But …

If you haven’t seen these clips, watch them now. 

Two separate clips … definitely “must see TV”.

In his words: “Reconciliation is  a majoritarian abuse of power” and “Democrats Should Not Pass Healthcare With a 50-Plus-1 Strategy.”

Makes Tiger Woods seem like a pillar of trustworthiness …

image 
http://www.breitbart.tv/obama-american-agenda-flashback-dems-should-not-pass-healthcare-with-a-50-plus-1-strategy/

image
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2010/02/025673.php

Did SNL & the Daily Show start the ball rolling?

January 21, 2010

No pundits are saying it, but I think that video loop of candidate Obama promising to “put the negotiations on C-Span” caused the recent tipping point in voter angst.

And, it’s no secret that many folks get most of their news from the Daily Show and other comedy venues.  So, when they turned their guns on the President, you had to know that trouble was brewing.

Here are the two prime culprits: SNL’s “Jack & Squat” skit … and John Stewart on “Jobs Created or Saved”

* * * * *

Video: SNL goofs on Obama for accomplishing nothing — except jack & squat
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/10/04/video-snl-goofs-on-obama-for-accomplishing-nothing/

* * * * *

Video: Jon Stewart spoofs jobs saved or created.
http://vodpod.com/watch/2655813-the-daily-show-with-jon-stewartamerican-idle?pod=

WARNING: for mature audiences.

click picture or link to view

image

http://vodpod.com/watch/2655813-the-daily-show-with-jon-stewartamerican-idle?pod=

Summer read: Catastrophe by Dick Morris

July 14, 2009

Catastrophe, Dick Morris, HarperCollins, 2009

Morris is a former Clinton adviser turned conservative pundit. For each of the past couple years, Morris has penned a bestseller castigating the direction and tactics of liberals. Catastrophe – a pretty well researched and documented book – continues in that tradition.

Among Morris’s targets in this book are:

  1. The way that team Obama is using the economic crisis to push through a social agenda.
  2. The division of America into a minority (i.e. out voted) taxpaying class, and a majority tax taking class.
  3. The ineffectiveness of the Keynesian-inspired, pork-laden stimulus package.
  4. The prospects for runaway inflation when the economy recovers and the country is left with a bloated national debt.
  5. The reluctance of businesses to invest the time that they are being vilified, that pure craps are changing the rules with no notice, and when the federal government is intervening in private businesses — picking winners and losers, imposing punitive taxes and upending bankruptcy law.
  6. The failure of the bank bailout programs – TARP and TALF – to increase the supply of credit to businesses.
  7. The failure of the various mortgage plans to stem the tide of foreclosures.
  8. The looming fire-aim-ready health care program that is being pushed through Congress — that increases the demand for health services by covering more people with health insurance, but does nothing to increase the supply of services, i.e. the number of doctors and care facilities.
  9. Initiatives to boost Democratic voting rolls, including: amnesty for illegals, expansion of unions (via card check), and “management” of the 2010 census.
  10. A weakened stance on terror, evidenced by a broadening of terror suspects’ rights, the closing of Gitmo, and a general softening of both rhetoric and defense capabilities.
  11. A diminution of support for Israel.
  12. Congressional cronyism, quid pro quo, and pay to play.

At length, Morris documents Pres. Obama’s apparent strategy of political control:

  1. Build on his rock solid support among blacks
  2. Expand the Hispanic population by amnesty and loose immigration laws, and by using expanded health care benefits as a “carrot” to attract even more Hispanic immigrants.
  3. Expand union coverage via card check and UAW-like sweetheart deals including, perhaps, exclusion from any  taxes that may be imposed on employer-provided health care insurance.
  4. “Cook” the 2010 census to overstate his solid constituencies.

For regular news readers and news watchers, there is little new in Morris’s book. But, there are plenty of facts, specific examples, and references.

Catastrophe is a quick read that – fr the most part – is worth the time for conservatives wanting ammunition for the next cocktail party.

* * * * *

According to Gallup, Obama’s approval ratings are …

July 2, 2009

I usually cite the Rasmussen poll numbers.  For the record, they now show Obama running a negative PAI (Presidential Approval Index).  That is, more people strongly disapprove of the job he’s doung as president than strongly approve.  In prior posts, I’ve argued why that’s a better indicator than the groos approval numbers usually reported in mainstream media, and I’ve highlighted the demographics (e.g. rock solid among blacks; double digit negative among whites).

Gallup is longer established than Rasmussen, more brand-recognized and its methodology is arguably more favorable to Obama since it samples more than “likely voters’. 

Well, there even seem to be some “issues’ cropping up in the Gallip numbers.

Gallup has made available Obama’s approval ratings over time, by demographic groups.  While his support is rockhard among some groups (Liberals, blacks, low income, Northeasterners), it is slipping among some demographic groups with approval majorities in those groups threatened.  More specifically,

Comparing the periods Jam.19 to 25 (the Inauguration) to the latest reporting period June 22 to 28:

Pres. Obama’s overall job approval rating is still high (60%), but that’s down 7 points

Disapproval has increased by 20 points, from 13% to 33%

Approval among folks earning $90,000 or more is down 14 points to 52%;

Among whites approval is down 11 points to 52%; 

in the South approval is down 10 points to 54%;

Among college grads w/o post-grad degrees approval is down 14 points to 55%;

Among marrieds approval is down 9 points to 52%;

Among weekly churchgoers approval is down 9 points to 49%.

Is the bloom coming off the rose ?

Source data:
http://www.gallup.com/poll/121199/Obama-Weekly-Job-Approval-Demographic-Groups.aspx

* * * * *

Jumping over the limbo bar …

June 11, 2009

Back on Feb. 16, I suggested a stake in the ground for measuring the success of Team Obama’s stimulus spending –- namely,  the 8% to 8.5% unemployment rate that economists were predicting under a “do nothing” scenario. 

Well, now that unemployment has blown past 9%, the “saved or created” math is getting pretty creative to say the least …  and the shaky argument “it would have been even worse” is taking center stage.

Below is a reprise of the original post.

* * * * *

Obama’s team sets the stimulus bar at limbo level …”,

Obama says the trillion dollar pork-laden, faux stimulative program will “save or create up to 4 million jobs”.

Last week, I pointed out that “up to” provides mucho definitional cover by itself, but that the serious wiggle room comes from “jobs saved” — a comparison against some fabricated “what if” number.

Well, the fabricated “what if” number is already being planted:

Austan Goolsbee, one of Obama’s chief economic advisers, says  he’ll consider the effort successful if the worst scenarios don’t come to pass, “if by the end of 2009 we aren’t looking at GDP numbers that are huge negatives, if unemployment rises to the 8% range rather than the 11% that some are predicting.”

I can’t find any non-Obama paid economist saying 11%.  Most economists are saying that the unemployment rate will peak in the range of 8 to 8.5% if we do nothing.  Apparently, Team Obama is prepared to declare success (i.e. claim millions of jobs saved) is the stimulus plan does about as well as doing nothing. The jobs saved will be calculated against a disaster scenario that they’ll specify, thank you.

In other words, a victory party is guaranteed …

* * * * *
Reference for Goolsbee quote:
http://money.cnn.com/2009/02/13/news/economy/easton_economicteam.fortune/index.htm?postversion=2009021310

Original post:
https://kenhoma.wordpress.com/2009/02/16/obamas-team-sets-the-stimulus-bar-at-limbo-level/

Anybody concerned about the national debt ?

May 19, 2009

Ken’s Take: Next to the government just flat out wasting money, my worry is the burgeoning debt.  Some debt – ok.  But, staggering levels not ok.

When I ask students why they’re unfazed, they admit that the sums are so large that “it’s more like Monopoly money” or”payback is so far off that’s it’s not worth worrying about”.

Somebody is eventually going to have to pay the piper …

* * * * *

Excerpted from IBD, “Why No Focus On Huge Ongoing Debt?”,
May 15, 2009

Since 1961 the federal budget has run deficits in all but five years. But the resulting government debt has consistently remained below 50% of GDP; that’s the equivalent of a household with $100,000 of income having a $50,000 debt. Adverse economic effects, if any, were modest.

From 2010 to 2019, Team Obama projects deficits totaling $7.1 trillion; that’s atop the $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009.

By 2019, the ratio of publicly held federal debt to gross domestic product (GDP, or the economy) would reach 70%, up from 41% in 2008.

The CBO, using less optimistic economic forecasts, raises these estimates. The 2010-19 deficits would total $9.3 trillion; the debt-to-GDP ratio in 2019 would be 82%.

By CBO’s estimates, interest on the debt as a share of federal spending will double between 2008 and 2019, from 8% of the total to 16%.

One reason Obama is so popular is that he has promised almost everyone lower taxes and higher spending. The president doesn’t want to confront Americans with choices between lower spending and higher taxes — or, given the existing deficits, perhaps less spending and more taxes.

Closing future deficits with either tax increases or spending cuts would require gigantic changes.

Full article:
http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=327285979616580

* * * * *
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Gallup: Poll: Majority of Americans ‘pro-life’

May 18, 2009

Ken’s Take: Skirting the philosophical issues, I find this interesting from a political perspective.  I thought it was odd that a majority of Catholics voted for Obama given the clarity of his position on abortion rights and his track record of votes on the issue.

A few weeks after the inauguration, there was some chatter from the pulpit of our church about abortion — stimulated, I think, by Obama’s early exec directives to fund overseas abortions, etc.  Iy was as is pro-life Catholics were surprised that Obama really was pro-abortion rights.

At the time. I wondered whether there would be any backlash in the polls.  None seemed to materialize until this poll.  Why?  Apparently, the media attention surrounding the Notre Dame speech caused some folks — notably Catholics — to do a gut check.

* * * * *

Reported in the Washington Times:

According to a Gallup poll released May 15 —  a majority of  Americans now say they are “pro-life” than “pro-choice”.  Specifically, A majority of respondents 51 percent are against the practice of abortion, while 42 percent classified themselves as being pro-choice.

image

“This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995”

The findings represent “a significant shift from a year ago,” when 50 percent of the respondents were pro-choice and 44 percent pro-life.

61 percent of Democrats say they are pro-choice and 33 percent are pro-life

70 percent of Republicans say they are pro-life and 26 percent are pro-choice

In 2008, half of women were pro-choice; now the number stands at 44 percent.

Among men, the findings are more pronounced: 49 percent identified themselves as pro-choice a year ago; the number fell to 39 percent this year. A clear majority of men 54 percent are now pro-life, compared with 46 percent a year ago.

It seems a change in the White House has prompted the change of heart. The president’s position has been the most radical pro-abortion of any American president.

“With the first pro-choice president in eight years already making changes to the nation’s policies on funding abortion overseas, expressing his support for the Freedom of Choice Act, and moving toward rescinding federal job protections for medical workers who refuse to participate in abortion procedures,”

Excerpted from Wash Times
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/may/16/poll-more-americans-pro-life/print/

* * * * *
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Gallup: Poll: Majority of Americans 'pro-life'

May 18, 2009

Ken’s Take: Skirting the philosophical issues, I find this interesting from a political perspective.  I thought it was odd that a majority of Catholics voted for Obama given the clarity of his position on abortion rights and his track record of votes on the issue.

A few weeks after the inauguration, there was some chatter from the pulpit of our church about abortion — stimulated, I think, by Obama’s early exec directives to fund overseas abortions, etc.  Iy was as is pro-life Catholics were surprised that Obama really was pro-abortion rights.

At the time. I wondered whether there would be any backlash in the polls.  None seemed to materialize until this poll.  Why?  Apparently, the media attention surrounding the Notre Dame speech caused some folks — notably Catholics — to do a gut check.

* * * * *

Reported in the Washington Times:

According to a Gallup poll released May 15 —  a majority of  Americans now say they are “pro-life” than “pro-choice”.  Specifically, A majority of respondents 51 percent are against the practice of abortion, while 42 percent classified themselves as being pro-choice.

image

“This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995”

The findings represent “a significant shift from a year ago,” when 50 percent of the respondents were pro-choice and 44 percent pro-life.

61 percent of Democrats say they are pro-choice and 33 percent are pro-life

70 percent of Republicans say they are pro-life and 26 percent are pro-choice

In 2008, half of women were pro-choice; now the number stands at 44 percent.

Among men, the findings are more pronounced: 49 percent identified themselves as pro-choice a year ago; the number fell to 39 percent this year. A clear majority of men 54 percent are now pro-life, compared with 46 percent a year ago.

It seems a change in the White House has prompted the change of heart. The president’s position has been the most radical pro-abortion of any American president.

“With the first pro-choice president in eight years already making changes to the nation’s policies on funding abortion overseas, expressing his support for the Freedom of Choice Act, and moving toward rescinding federal job protections for medical workers who refuse to participate in abortion procedures,”

Excerpted from Wash Times
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/may/16/poll-more-americans-pro-life/print/

* * * * *
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My #1 tax beef: Under the Team Obama tax plan, a majority of voters will be paying zero income taxes (or less)

April 16, 2009

Note: This analysis was originally posted on July 31, 2008 during the run-up to the election.  It proves the point (ahead of its time)  that less than half of all voters pay any income taxes now that “Make Work Pay”  has been enacted (as part of the  stimulus program).  Think about it: the majority gets to demand more government programs that they don’t pay a cent towards.  I think that’s scary.  Very scary..

It’s the post that continues to get the most hits, and the topic is ‘hot’ this week because of the tea party rallies.  So, here’s a flashback .
..

* * * * *

Despite the drumbeat of warnings from various sources, the prospects that a minority of voting age Americans will be paying Federal income taxes under the Obama tax plan doesn’t seem to arouse much visible public anxiety.

 

Why?

 

First, for those in the emerging majority that won’t pay any income taxes – or may even be getting government checks for tax credits due – the deal is almost too good to be true.  To them, Obama’s  plan must make perfect sense.  So, why rock the boat?

 

Second, some people argue that low-earning people who don’t pay income taxes shoulder a regressive payroll tax burden to cover Medicare and Social Security.  Yeah, but these programs – which are most akin to insurance or forced savings plans — offer specific individual benefits that are directly linked to each wage earner’s contributions.and the benefits phase down quickly as qualifying income increases.  That is, they’re not as regressive as many people argue.

 

Third, most of the energetic criticism of Obama’s plan has centered on its redistribution intent — taking over $130 billion of “excess” income from undeserving rich people, and giving it directly to those who earn less and need it more.

 

Fourth, most folks just don’t believe that the numbers will really shift enough to create a voting majority of citizens who don’t pay income taxes. They’re wrong.  Very wrong.

Here are the numbers … and why they should bother you.

 

* * * * *

Today, 41% of voting age adults don’t pay Federal income taxes

Based on the most recent IRS data, slightly more than 200 million out of 225 million voting age Americans filed tax returns.  That means that 25 million adults – presumably low income ones – didn’t file returns and, of course, didn’t pay any income taxes. See notes [1] to [4] below

Of the 200 million voting age filers, approximately 68 million (33% of total filers) owed zero income taxes or qualified for refundable tax credits (i.e. paid negative income taxes). [5]

Add those 68 million to the 25 million non-filers, and non-payers already total 93 million –  41% of voting age adults.

* * * * *

Obama’s Estimates – Make that 49%
Not Paying Federal Income Taxes

Obama says (on his web site) that he will give tax credits up of $1,000 per family ($500 per individual) that will  “completely eliminate income taxes for 10 million Americans”.  And, he says that he will “eliminate income taxes for 7 million seniors making less than $50,000 per year.”  [6]

Taking Obama’s estimates at face value,  the incremental 17 million that he intends to take off the income tax rolls will push  the percentage of non-payers close to 49% of voting age Americans  — within rounding distance to a majority. [7]

* * * * *

And, Obama’s estimates are probably low,
so make the number 55% (or higher)
 

Since Obama’s basic proposal is for tax credits  ($500 per person or $1,000 per family) – not  simply deductions from Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) — they will have a multiplier impact on the amount of AGI that tax filers can report and still owe no taxes.

 

For example, a childless married couple that files a joint return can currently report about $17,500 in  Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and owe no income taxes. [8]

 

Under the Obama Plan,  that couple’s zero-tax AGI is bumped up to $27,500 since their new $1,000 tax credit covers the 10% tax liability on an additional $10,000 of AGI.  And, married couples filing jointly can keep adding about $10,000 to their zero-tax AGI for each qualifying dependent child that they claim. [9]

 

click table to make it bigger

click table to make it bigger

Based on the 2006 IRS data, approximately 25 million tax returns were filed that reported AGI less than  $27,500 (the post-Obama zero-tax AGI) and required that some income taxes be paid.  [10]

 

Assuming that 45% of those were for couples filing jointly, they represent  over 22 million adults.  For sure, these 22 million will  come off the tax rolls —  and they alone will be enough to create a non-taxpayer majority (51% of voting age adults),

click to make table bigger

And, there are more folks being pushed off the tax rolls.  About 4.7 million childless individuals earn less than $13,750  (the post-Obama zero-tax AGI for childless individuals), and currently pay some Federal income taxes.   This group will shift  to non-payer status.

 

So would several million joint filers who can take advantage of the Child Tax Credit to report more than $27,500 and not pay Federal income taxes.

 

And, some portion of the 7 million Seniors that Obama says will have their taxes eliminated — that is the Seniors couples earning more than $27,500 (but less than $50,000) — and Senior individuals earning more than $13,750 (but less than $50,000).

 

So, post-Obama, the percentage of non-taxpayers will  easily exceed 55% of voting age adults — a solid majority.  It won’t even be close.

 

* * * * *

The Bottom Line – Why You Should Worry

An income tax paying minority of voting age adults isn’t just a possibility. Under Obama’s plan, it’s a virtual certainty.  Based on the hard numbers, Obama’s plan will create a new majority — a powerful voting block: non-tax payers. UH-OH.

 

Again, for those in the emerging majority that won’t pay any income taxes – or may even be getting government checks for tax credits due – the deal is almost too good to be true.  To them, Obama’s  plan must make perfect sense.  Count on their perpetual support for the plan.

 

But for those in the new minority, watch out if the new majority decides that more government services are needed, or that  $131 billion in income redistribution isn’t enough to balance the scales.

The Tax Foundation — a nonpartisan tax research group – has repeatedly warned that  “While some may applaud the fact that millions of low- and middle-income families pay no income taxes, there is a threat to the fabric of our democracy when so many Americans are not only disconnected from the costs of government but are net consumers of government benefits. The conditions are ripe for social conflict if these voters begin to demand more government benefits because they know others will bear the costs.”  http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/show/1111.html

* * * *  *

Sources & Notes

[1] The Census Bureau reported 217.8 million people age 18 and over; as of July 1, 2003.
http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/001703.html
 
http://www.census.gov/popest/national/files/NST-EST2007-alldata.csv

[2] The IRS reported 138.4 million personal tax returns filed in 2006.
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/06in11si.xls

[3] The IRS reported that in 2006, approximately 45% of filed returns were by married couples filing jointly (i.e. 2 adults per return); 55% for individual filers (including ‘married filing separately’ and ‘head of household’).  http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/06in36tr.xls

[4] Calculation: 138.4 million returns times 1.45 (adults per return) equals 200.7 million adults represented on filed returns

[5]  http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/06in01fg.xls      http://ftp.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/06inplim.pdf

[6]  http://www.barackobama.com/issues/economy/#tax-relief

[7]  Analytical note: 93 million plus 17 million equals 110 million divided by 225 million equals 49%.

[8]  Analytical note:  $17,500 less a $10,700 standard deduction, less 2 exemptions at $3,400 each, equals taxable income of zero – so no federal income taxes are due.

[9] Analytical note:  $27,500 less a $10,700 standard deduction, less 2 exemptions at $3,400 each, equals taxable income of $10,000, which at a 10% rate is a $1,000 tax liability that gets offset by the $1,000 Obama credit, reducing the tax liability to zero.

* * * * *

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In pursuit of mediocrity … Congress moves to squash pay for performance.

April 14, 2009

Ken’s Take: (1) Expect this to spread to private industry as Congress grabs more and more power to control managers’ compensation  (2) And folks wonder why government bureaucracies are so inefficient.

* * * * *

Excerpted from WSJ, “Forget About Merit”,  April11, 2009

Last month the Pentagon announced it would “review” a pay-for-performance system that now covers some 200,000 of its civilian employees. In short, merit pay for work well done.

House Democrats are now pushing to freeze pay for performance across the entire federal government.  They say, “A well-designed performance management system can recognize and reward high performance without a linkage to compensation.”

As the biggest merit plan in the government, the National Security Personnel System has been a prime target of federal employee unions  … Unions prefer a return to a universal General Schedule system, which compensates employees based on time served …  keeping workers out of a system where their own efforts can affect their compensation and advancement …  makes them more dependent on the union to negotiate for them.

During the campaign, Obama said he would consider an overhaul or “complete repeal” of the merit pay system.

Full article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123940322061309643.html

* * * * *
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It’s simple arithmetic … your taxes going up

April 9, 2009

Excerpted from WSJ, “Obama Plans Sound Fiscally Responsible But Don’t Add Up”, April 9, 2009

For years, the American people have been told they could have it all: costly wars, expansion of Medicare to cover drugs, health insurance for those without, more money for schools — and tax cuts for practically everybody. They deserve to be told that they can’t have it all in the future.

In the 1930s and the 1960s, the government began popular programs to support the sick and the elderly. The cost of treating the sick is rising, and the number of old people climbing. Since 1970, the government has paid for that by cutting defense spending.  But going forward, defense spending will not fall as much as it has, even if the Iraq war ends and the Pentagon is forced to be more efficient.  

image

Pres. Obama envisions a federal government that taxes the American economy somewhat more than the historical average and spends significantly more. The president’s own projections show a deficit equal to 3% of gross domestic product well into the next decade, and that assumes all goes well.

image

The bottom line:  either taxes as a share of GDP rise or spending on those popular benefit programs (or everything else) is throttled back.

It’s simple arithmetic.

Full article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123921904349802157.html?mod=djemalert

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Sticking it to the "fly over" states … well, maybe not this year.

March 31, 2009

Excerpted from IBD, “Potholes Ahead En Route To Welfare State”, Barone,  March 27, 2009

Pres. Obama continues to insist that America cannot enjoy real prosperity again without higher taxes on high earners, a government health insurance program, a cap-and-trade program that amounts to a tax on energy and the effective abolition of secret ballots in unionization elections.

Even though there are large Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, roadblocks have started to appear.

One has been set up by the Senate Budget Committee. Chairman Kent Conrad of North Dakota, who … has apparently decided that cap-and-trade is off the table for this year.

Cap-and-trade would impose higher costs on coal-fired electric power plants. In states where most electricity is produced from coal, this would mean higher utility bills for consumers and industrial users.

So, Democrats from coal states like North Dakota see energy issues differently from Democrats from coal-free states like California.

There are 25 Democratic senators from states that get 60% or more of their electricity from coal (in North Dakota, the figure is 93%). To get 50 Senate votes on a budget with cap and trade, 17 of those Senators have to discard their regional interests and vote for cap and trade..

So you can see why he was ready to ditch cap-and-trade, which, in any case, addresses a problem — climate change — whose purported evil effects are decades away.

Ditching cap-and-trade, however, may set up another roadblock, since the money the government was going to take out of the private-sector economy was slated for Obama’s middle-class tax cut.

This could get interesting.

Full article:
http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=323047032396219* * * * *
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Sticking it to the “fly over” states … well, maybe not this year.

March 31, 2009

Excerpted from IBD, “Potholes Ahead En Route To Welfare State”, Barone,  March 27, 2009

Pres. Obama continues to insist that America cannot enjoy real prosperity again without higher taxes on high earners, a government health insurance program, a cap-and-trade program that amounts to a tax on energy and the effective abolition of secret ballots in unionization elections.

Even though there are large Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, roadblocks have started to appear.

One has been set up by the Senate Budget Committee. Chairman Kent Conrad of North Dakota, who … has apparently decided that cap-and-trade is off the table for this year.

Cap-and-trade would impose higher costs on coal-fired electric power plants. In states where most electricity is produced from coal, this would mean higher utility bills for consumers and industrial users.

So, Democrats from coal states like North Dakota see energy issues differently from Democrats from coal-free states like California.

There are 25 Democratic senators from states that get 60% or more of their electricity from coal (in North Dakota, the figure is 93%). To get 50 Senate votes on a budget with cap and trade, 17 of those Senators have to discard their regional interests and vote for cap and trade..

So you can see why he was ready to ditch cap-and-trade, which, in any case, addresses a problem — climate change — whose purported evil effects are decades away.

Ditching cap-and-trade, however, may set up another roadblock, since the money the government was going to take out of the private-sector economy was slated for Obama’s middle-class tax cut.

This could get interesting.

Full article:
http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=323047032396219* * * * *
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Who’ll pay the climate tax ? … Oops, I meant “Cap and Trade” ?

March 17, 2009

Hint: They were promised a tax cut during the Obama campaign.

* * * * *

Excerpted from WSJ, “Who Pays for Cap and Trade?”, March 9,2009

Cap and trade is the tax that dare not speak its name, and Democrats are hoping in particular that no one notices who would pay for their climate ambitions.

Perhaps Americans would like to know the deeply unequal ways that climate costs would be distributed across regions and income groups.

Politicians love cap and trade because they can claim to be taxing “polluters,” not workers. Hardly.  the costs would inevitably be passed on to all consumers in the form of higher prices. Stating the obvious, Peter Orszag — now Mr. Obama’s budget director — told Congress last year that “Those price increases are essential to the success of a cap-and-trade program.”

The Congressional Budget Office — Mr. Orszag’s former roost — estimates that the price hikes from a 15% cut in emissions would cost the average household in the bottom-income quintile about 3.3% of its after-tax income every year. That’s about $680, not including the costs of reduced employment and output. The three middle quintiles would see their paychecks cut between $880 and $1,500, or 2.9% to 2.7% of income. The rich would pay 1.7%. Putting a price on carbon is regressive by definition because poor and middle-income households spend more of their paychecks on things like gas to drive to work, groceries or home heating.

Hit hardest would be the “95% of working families” Mr. Obama keeps mentioning, usually omitting that his no-new-taxes pledge comes with the caveat “unless you use energy.”

* * * *

But the greatest inequities are geographic and would be imposed on the parts of the U.S. that rely most on manufacturing or fossil fuels — particularly coal, which generates most power in the Midwest, Southern and Plains states. It’s no coincidence that the liberals most invested in cap and trade — Barbara Boxer, Henry Waxman, Ed Markey — come from California or the Northeast.

Coal provides more than half of U.S. electricity, and 25 states get more than 50% of their electricity from conventional coal-fired generation.

In Ohio, it totals 86%, according to the Energy Information Administration. Ratepayers in Indiana (94%), Missouri (85%), New Mexico (80%), Pennsylvania (56%), West Virginia (98%) and Wyoming (95%) are going to get soaked.

Cap and trade, in other words, is a scheme to redistribute income and wealth — but in a very curious way. It takes from the working class and gives to the affluent; takes from Miami, Ohio, and gives to Miami, Florida; and takes from an industrial America that is already struggling and gives to rich Silicon Valley and Wall Street “green tech” investors who know how to leverage the political class.

Full article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123655590609066021.html

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The case for focus … on the the financial crisis, that is.

March 17, 2009

Excerpted from IBD, ” Friendly Fire Shows Obama Losing Focus”, Barone, March 13, 2009

Driven by Rahm Emanuel’s advice to “never let a serious crisis go to waste”,  Pres. Obama continues to assert that we can solve our economic problems only by advancing national health insurance, a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gases, and the end of secret ballots in unionization elections.

But, none of the issues … was in any way a cause of the financial crisis.

We did not have a housing bubble collapse because we don’t have a national health insurance program.

We don’t have toxic waste clogging the balance sheets of the banks and other financial institutions because of carbon emissions.

The Bush tax cuts were not a proximate cause of the giant public debt being run up under the Toxic Assets Relief Program or the 2009 stimulus package.

Perhaps the President should heed Warren Buffett’s advice  to “pay attention to the first thing on your platter : the financial crisis”.

Full column: 
http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=321836253252674 

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Told you so … Charities revolt to O’s tax hikes

March 16, 2009

Ken’s Take: We were on this one early last week.  O’s strategy: nationalize funding of NFPs … let government, not individuals, decide which charities are worthy.

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Excerpted from WSJ, ” The Charity Revolt Liberals oppose a tax hike on rich donors”, March 10, 2009 
  
Among those shocked by President Obama’s 2010 budget, the most surprising are the true-blue liberals who run most of America’s nonprofits, universities and charities. How dare he limit tax deductions for charitable giving!

They’re afraid they’ll get fewer donations, but they should be more concerned that Mr. Obama’s policies will shove them aside in favor of the New Charity State.

His budget proposes to raise the top personal income tax rate to 39.6% in 2011 from 35%, and the 33% rate to 36% while reducing the tax benefit from itemized deductions for the top two brackets to 28% from 35% and 33%, respectively. The White House estimates the deduction reduction will yield $318 billion in revenue over 10 years.

Some worry that the tax change “could be a disincentive to some donors.”

In 2006, Americans gave $186.6 billion to charity, more than 40% from those in the highest tax bracket.

A back of the envelope calculation by the Tax Policy Center, a left-of-center think tank, estimates the Obama plan will reduce annual giving by 2%, or some $9 billion.

Americans of all income levels have long given generously, notably in the 1980s as income tax rates fell and the economy boomed. Over the last five decades, American giving overall has hardly deviated from 2% of personal income

The White House may have underestimated the power of the liberal nonprofit lobby. The charity deduction cut is the only one of the President’s many tax increases that Democrats on Capitol Hill have publicly criticized. Politics hath no fury like a rich liberal scorned.

Full editorial:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123664427493678121.html

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FLASH ! … The HomaFiles scoops WSJ … by almost one month !

March 13, 2009

Today’s WSJ contains an editorial titled “Obama’s Poll Numbers Are Falling to Earth” by GOP pollster Scott Rasmussen and Dem pollster Doug Schoen.

In summary, they report: “It is simply wrong for commentators to continue to focus on President Barack Obama’s high levels of popularity …  a detailed look at recent survey data shows that … Mr. Obama’s approval rating is dropping and is below where George W. Bush was in an analogous period in 2001 and that . his net presidential approval rating — which is calculated by subtracting the number who strongly disapprove from the number who strongly approve — is just six, his lowest rating to date.”

For the full article, click to:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123690358175013837.html

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Ken’s Take:

It will be interesting to see how the press covers this column. My bets:

(1) Fox will loop it; CNN will have commentators debunk it; MSM will ignore it completely

(2) No media will push Rasmussen for the more controversial data nuggets: Obama’s PAI (presedential approval index) is near 100% among blacks, around 70% for Hispanics, and negative for whites; Obama’s PAI is negative among investors and taxpayers; and according to FD/Diageo, support for Obama’s programs is only strong among groups who “know little about them”

(3) Robert Gibbs — fronting for Team Obama — will say that the administration doesn’t pay attention to polls … ducking questions regarding Karl Rove’s revelation that “senior White House staff meet for two hours each Wednesday evening to digest their latest polling and focus-group research.”
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123682426946303905.html

Also, with two consecutive days of bad polls (yesterday, economists gave Obama and Geithner failing grades for their handling of the economy ), it will be interesting to see how Team Obama — known for its rhetorical offense — plays defense.

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Loyal readers of the HomaFiles got a heads-up on this trend almost a month ago. 

On Feb. 17, 2009 — using Rasmussen’s data — we posted  “Uh-oh … is Obama’s star starting to fade ? ”
https://kenhoma.wordpress.com/2009/02/17/uh-oh-is-obamas-star-starting-to-fade/

On March 2, 2009, we posted a follow-up “Uh-oh … Barack-O’s presidential approval index drops to single digit”
https://kenhoma.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/uh-oh-barack-os-presidential-approval-index-drops-to-single-digits/

This Monday — March 9, 2009 — we posted “So really, how strong is Obama’s approval rating ?”
https://kenhoma.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/so-how-strong-is-obamas-approval-rating/

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A declaration of war ?

March 11, 2009

Excerpted from NY Post, ” Obama’s search for an enemy”, March 8, 2009 

He hasn’t called anyone an “evildoer” or denounced an “axis of evil.” But make no mistake: President Obama is putting together an enemies list.

Strangely, though, those on it are not terrorists or foreign dictators. They are mostly Americans lucky enough to have succeeded through capitalism and democracy.

is criminal, as when he defended his plan for an expanded government push into health insurance as necessary “to keep the private sector honest.”

The Obama administration is on a war footing. Make that a class-war footing.

Obama’s class-war language, most of it written into prepared speeches, looks like selective anger, calculated to stoke public emotion to build support for his expansive agenda.  That agenda, which revolves around a dramatic increase in Washington power, relies on tax hikes on the same successful businesses and individuals he denounces.  First he demonizes them, then he taxes them.

And always, he makes liberal use of bogeymen. On Friday, as he stood before a class of 25 police cadets in Columbus, Ohio, hired with federal stimulus money, the President delivered a standard attack line against unnamed dissenters. “They opposed the very notion that government has a role in ending the cycle of job loss at the heart of this recession,” he said.

Actually, few if any critics advocated doing nothing. But never mind. Being President means you don’t have to let the facts get in the way of a plan to divide and conquer.

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The President dismisses the growing perception he is adding to the economic pain. Asked about the markets, Obama waved them off as like a “tracking poll in politics” that “bobs up and down day to day.”

It was a telling moment, for the markets on his watch have moved almost exclusively down. And the 55 million households that hold mutual funds are watching their savings and retirements vanish in great gobs.

Most are decidedly middle class, making them collateral damage of this war.

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Full column:
http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/columnists/goodwin/index.html

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Ken’s Take:

(1) Does Obama really think it’s a good idea to alienate the folks who are paying for his programs?  My sense: they’re already starting to fight back — just watch capital outflows from the US in next year or so.

(2) There is a lot of collateral damage …

(3) Wouldn’t you like to see Obama unplugged from the teleprompter for a week or so — just so we could see the real deal in operation?  As son Scott points out to me — the most powerful man in America now is a 27 year old speechwriter …

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“The stock market is just another political tracking poll” … huh?

March 10, 2009

Ken’s Take:

A few weeks ago, a reader replied to one of my posts joking (I think) that Pres. Obama must be shorting the market the way he’s talking and acting.  Suddenly, the reply isn’t sofunny.  There may be method to the madness.  If the stock market impact is most felt by (previously) wealthy folks, hen the decline levels the playing field — a stated Obama goal —  making everybody worse off and more dependent on the government.  Think about it.

Even if you pin all of the stock market drop on Bush, it’s clear that Obama isn’t taking any direct initiative to stem the decline.  The non-stimulus plan is conforming to the Congressional Budget Office’s assessment that it will have little or no impact in 2009.  And, actions that might steady the market — e.g. lower capital gains taxes on stocks bought in 2009 and 2010, restoration of the uptick and short selling rules — are dismissed out of hand as favoring the rich.

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Excerpted from NY Post, ” Obama’s search for an enemy”, March 8, 2009 

The President dismisses the growing perception he is adding to the economic pain. Asked about the markets, Obama waved them off as like a “tracking poll in politics” that “bobs up and down day to day.”

It was a telling moment, for the markets on his watch have moved almost exclusively down. And the 55 million households that hold mutual funds are watching their savings and retirements vanish in great gobs.

Most are decidedly middle class, making them collateral damage of this war.

* * * * *

Full column:
http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/columnists/goodwin/index.html

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So really, how strong is Obama’s approval rating ?

March 9, 2009

Reflecting “Main Street”, all polls report that Obama has sky high approval ratings … ranging from the low 60s to the mid-70s.  Pundits are still calling it a mandate for change, and O is certainly rushing through programs as if it were a sweeping mandate.

But, reflecting  “Wall Street”, the Dow and other broad market indices have dropped by about 25% since inauguration day.  True, O inherited the problem, but the market seems to voting “no confidence” on O’s recovery plans and team on the field.

So, what is truth?

I’m a fan of the Rasmussen daily tracking poll — in part, because it reports daily numbers on a consistent basis and because it provides some interesting drill down detail.

Here’s what the latest Rasmussen data says: (see chart below)

Obama’s Total Approval is in the high 50s … down from its high mark right after the inauguration (mid 60s).

Obama’s “top box”  (Strongly Approve) has trended down slightly … from a couple of points over 40 to a point or two under 40.

Obama’s “bottom box” (Strongly Disapprove) has been steadily trending up … from 16 right after the inauguration to its current high at 31.

So, Obama’s Approval Index (Strong Approve minus Strong Disapprove) has dropped to 8 from about its high of 30 right after the inauguration.

See Ken’s Take below the chart  …

image

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Ken’s Take:

(1) First, Rasmussen leans right … so, there may be bias in the numbers … I doubt it’s significant

(2) Most market researchers consider Total Approval (Strongly plus Somewhat) to be a very weak measure … they tend to focus on the top box and bottom box extremes … in customer satisfaction studies, the equivalent to Rasmussen’s Presidential Approval Index is called the “Net Influencers Index” … some market researchers brand it to be “the only number you need to know”

(3) Obama’s Total Approval rating is bound to stay high … in part because of his rock hard support among blacks … in part because the more than 50% of folks who don’t pay income taxes have every reason in the world to think his spending programs are awesome — they get gain with no apparent pain

(4) The bottom boxers (Strong Disapprove) are the taxpayers … the increase in Strong Disapprovers is attributable to folks ‘in the middle” who originally were giving Obama the benefit of the doubt — hoping he’d govern from the pragmatic middle — but are becoming disenchanted as he keeps his way left campaign promises.

(5) This could get ugly … pitting the beneficiaries of Obama’s programs against the folks who are paying for them

(6) No pundits seem to have seized on this point yet … let’s see when they catch on

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Data from Rasmussen Presidential Approval Tracking Poll, March 9, 2009
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/obama_approval_index_history

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What’s the exit plan and “date certain”?

March 6, 2009

On the campaign trail,  anti-surge Candidate O derided Bush for not having an exit plan and a date certain for troop withdrawal from Iraq.

OK, since we’re winning in Iraq and can safely pull the troops out, O can keep his campaign pledge and bring combat troops back in 2010.

Seems that  Afghanistan is way different from Iraq since O authorized a surge in troop strength and is mum on the exit plan and withdrawal date.

Hmmmm.

Question: why not just spray the poppy fields with industrial strength weed killer and bring our men and women home pronto ?

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Question: What happens when there’s no wealth to redistribute?

March 4, 2009

Obama’s grand plan is centered on taking money  from the rich and either spending it like a drunken sailor or giving it away to folks unburdened by work.

Well, the financial crisis has vaporized mucho wealth and cut the number of mega-earners. 

Anybody with any serious money and a brain must be plotting how to shelter earnings and wealth from taxes — either because they loath taxes in general, or because they’re not fans of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi spending spree.

Question: So, if there are fewer rich people, and if the remaining rich people shelter their dough or pull a Geithner and just forget to pay taxes …  what will Obama redistribute ?

My bet: The definition of rich will start sliding down the scale.  We’ll all be rich — at least in the eyes of the tax collector.  Hide your wallet.

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Salvaging Team O’s Mortgage Foreclosure Plan

March 3, 2009

Most taxpayers support giving aid to workers who lost their jobs to the sputtering economy, but they are livid about Team Obama’s plan to stem foreclosures by rewarding irresponsible borrowers with extraordinary government subsidies. 

Obama’s brain trust appears  blinded by their politicized sense of social justice and so enamored with the elegance of their mortgage math that they miss the fundamental holes in their plan. While their intentions may be good, they lose sight of the forest in the trees.

The good news is that Team Obama’s problematic program can probably be salvaged —  by simply tightening the program’s qualifying criteria and changing the basis for determining the taxpayer subsidy going to distressed borrowers.

First, consider program qualification criteria.  Even Team Obama agrees that only mortgages on owner occupied primary residences should qualify.  That eliminates speculators, flippers, and vacation homes.  It also eliminates rental housing provided by  investor-landlords, but so be it.

Going a step further, why not explicitly limit the program to people who have a history of filing U.S. tax returns?  That would limit the program to  legal U.S. residents with proven (and determinable) earnings potential.

FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair … told public radio that it would be “simply impractical” to review old mortgage applications and try to distinguish between honest and dishonest borrowers.

Not so, Ms. Bair.  Simply set fair but tight qualifying criteria  based on the borrower’s past mortgage repayment history.

Rather than trying to qualitatively evaluate a borrower’s level of financial responsibility and good faith, they should look quantitatively at the borrower’s actual behavior.   For example:

Did the borrower make a down payment from his own resources? If not — if he made no down payment or funded one with a second home loan — then he doesn’t really have much of an ownership stake.

If the borrower had an ARM, did he make all payments before his ARM was adjusted upward? If not, it’s hard to blame his financial  fix on deceptive loan practices.

Did the borrower make at least a year or two of loan payments before defaulting? If not,  he doesn’t have much equity in the house — financial or psychological.

The point is that there are non-disputable behavioral metrics that can be used to sort “owners” from “occupants” and responsible borrowers who may have been duped from outright deadbeats.

Similarly, for those who qualify, Team Obama should determine the  level of any government subsidies based on the borrower’s past mortgage repayment history, not income.

Team Obama’s plan pressures lenders to bring a borrower’s payment to income ratio down to 38% by cutting interest rates or principal. Then, taxpayers share the cost (dollar-for-dollar with the lender) of bringing that ratio down to 31%. 

In other words, the borrower gets a taxpayer subsidy equal to 3.5% of his income.   So, a guy in an American average $200,000 home who earns $35,000 gets a $1,250 annual taxpayer subsidy.  Plus, he gets a $1,000 annual incentive rebate (for 5 years) if he does the right thing and makes his payments. That boosts his taxpayer subsidy up to the equivalent of a 6.5% refundable income tax credit — “earned” by defaulting on a mortgage.

Team Obama sees great beauty in that arrangement.  Many taxpayers do not. 

As an alternative, why not scale any taxpayer subsidy based on past mortgage payments made rather than proportionate income?  That is, give borrowers credit for having demonstrated good faith in the past by having made payments before their ARMs exploded or the economy imploded?

Illustratively, consider this rule: add the borrower’s down payment to the sum of P&I payments he made against the mortgage, then divide that total by 12 (or some other equalizing factor) and use the result as the basis for his subsidy.

For example, assume that a good faith guy earning $35,000 buys a $210,000 home with $10,000 down and makes $5,000 in P&I payments before his  teaser rate ARM gets upped to an unexpectedly high (and unreachable)  payment level.  Give the guy $15,000 in good faith ownership credit, and allow him a maximum taxpayer subsidy of $1,250 per year — the same as Team Obama’s income based subsidy.

Now, assume that a bad faith guy, also earning $35,000, buys a comparable $210,000 home with no money  down and makes a couple of payments totaling $2,400 before starting to skip payments.  Give this guy $2,400 in good faith ownership credit, and allow him a maximum  taxpayer subsidy of $200 per year — a much smaller subsidy reflecting his proven irresponsibility.  If that’s enough to get him to the 31% payment to income ratio, that would be fine.  ut, it’s not, so too bad.

The numbers are arbitrary, but the guiding principle is not: don’t help deadbeats. do help people who have demonstrated good faith and responsibility, but have run into hard times. 

Keying the maximum  taxpayer subsidy to a borrower’s past payment history has an added benefit: it provides help to the guy who has made years of on-time payments before getting laid off.  Since his near-term income is zero, Team Obama’s income based subsidy would provide him with no help.  That’s not fair.

The bottom line is that the plan proposed by President Obama is seriously flawed and, understandably, has aroused taxpayer ire.  But, if Team Obama shows some flexibility (and some rational creativity), the plan can be salvaged to rally taxpayer support for helping responsible but distressed  home owners.

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