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Some private economists think President Obama’s budget’s economic assumptions are too rosy.
The administration’s budget projects that the downturn will result in a 13.4 percent drop in government receipts this year, one of the contributing factors to the administration’s forecast that the deficit will hit an all-time high of $1.75 trillion.
For 2010, when the administration is forecasting the deficit will decline to $1.17 trillion, the administration is forecasting that the rebounding economy will boost revenues by 8.9 percent. Based on the stronger growth, the administration is forecasting steadily declining deficits in coming years with the deficit dropping to $912 billion in 2011, $581 billion in 2012 and $533 billion in 2013.
One of the tools the President plans to use to achieve these results is to end tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans by letting the Bush tax cuts expire. The Wall Street Journal takes a look and concludes,
The bottom line is that Mr. Obama is selling the country on a 2% illusion. Unwinding the U.S. commitment in Iraq and allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire can’t possibly pay for his agenda. Taxes on the not-so-rich will need to rise as well.
All that rests on the assumption that people, especially in that top tax bracket, will continue to produce. What happens if they don’t? A top 2 per-center’s thoughts on carrots and sticks:
I’m in the target group to do the paying. I won’t do it.
I own my business and, unlike an employee, I have the option to work as much or as little as I like. At some tax rate, the marginal dollar won’t be worth earning. I’ll fire some employees, scale down the business or retire altogether and stick my money in tax advantaged muni bonds and do all the traveling and relaxing I can’t do now. The tax advantage of muni bonds will NEVER go away because municipalities will scream bloody murder. If I’m not ready to retire and the tax rate gets too high, I may just immigrate to another country because it’s very easy for me to get almost instant citizenship in any other country. I respond to incentives and I’m not incentivized by enslavement and neither is anyone I know. The specialness of this country is the lack of totalitarian regime and individual liberty. Once that’s gone, this country is no longer all that special. You can call me evil or “not doing my part” because I’m not willing to work myself into the grave for your family instead of mine, but the reality is that unless you plan to start a Gulag, you can’t make me.
Selfish capitalist. If more people start thinking like that, Obama’s socialist America is doomed. We’ll have to go back to the bad old ways of individual liberty and free markets.
From the Endive:
Obama’s New Dog: Portuguese Man o’ War
White House spokesmen announced today that the Obama family has selected a dog, settling on a Portuguese Man o’ War. The Obamas will not receive the dog for several months and are still trying to come up with a name.
The Portuguese Man o’ War is not technically a dog. It’s actually a highly poisonous, menacing jellyfish often found off the coast of Florida. When asked why he continues to refer to it as a dog, President Obama bristled.
“I clearly said my kids were getting a dog and I bought them a dog,” said Obama, “If Americans can change the government, why can’t my kids have a nice, perfect dog? Besides, this cute little guy is a big, amorphous, poisonous blob. Its tentacles hang on tenaciously and it won’t let go until you feel some serious skin irritation. He’s definitely a sweetie cutie patootie of a snooky-wookums.”
Others were quick to congratulate the Obamas on their new pet.
“I’m pleased to see that Barak Obama has found the perfect pet,” said Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, “It’s a sticky blob with tentacles that get into everything and leave you feeling terribly annoyed – just like his stimulus package.”
The Obama kids seemed equally excited.
“I wanted a Beagle!” Said Sasha Obama.
“Shut up, kid,” was the reply from her mother.
More reactions at the link.
The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is the foundation of American government. It’s part of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and “represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled.” Article 18 states “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
Unless you conscientiously object to abortion, according to the President.
Obama ‘Review’ Likely to Reverse Bush ‘Conscience’ Protections for Doctors, Health Workers
The Obama administration announced Friday that it is “reviewing” the conscience clause that was implemented in the last months of the Bush administration – the first step toward rescinding the rule altogether.
The Health and Human Services regulation reinforces the right of health care workers to refuse to provide abortion and contraception if it violates their conscience or moral precepts.
What’s wrong with that? When the rule was first announced, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said “This HHS regulation places patients’ rights directly behind the rights of ideologically driven physicians and anyone else directly or indirectly involved in their health care.”
The possible consequences of the rule change? Forcing “people, especially Christians, into the untenable position of either having to provide an abortion, or get out of their profession.” Or decreased access to ob/gyn services:
Jonathan Imbody of the Christian Medical and Dental Association told CNSNews.com that 40 percent of his group’s doctors have been pressured to compromise their ethical stands – and without conscience-protection, face the loss of professional certification if they don’t provide referrals to abortion-providers – or face being pressured out of the profession.
One OB/GYN, Dr. Vicki L. Duncan, who testified last fall, said she was pressured by her insurance provider to provide artificial insemination for a lesbian couple, or lose her coverage.
“I contacted my malpractice carrier for legal advice, and was told that if I refused for them, but did so for a married, heterosexual couple, I would likely be sued, and they would not provide coverage. It also extended to a non-married couple. That was when I decided to no longer perform intrauterine inseminations,” Duncan said.
This is not a cage match between women’s reproductive rights vs the “Life begins at conception” point of view. It is a case of government deciding which point of view is legally allowed, and which moral position is subject to the penalties of job loss and legal harrassment, backed up by the full force of said government. It is a clear violation of the Human Rights Declaration and all that America stands for.
I have admired the courage of conscientious objectors when they stood up for their moral principles regarding war and killing, even if I disagreed with them. Similarly, even though I’m pro-choice, I support people who “walk the walk” on the path to which their principles have led them. What President Obama is doing is morally wrong.
What will become of the people of conscience under a nationalized healthcare system, when care is mandated by this same government? Some will decide their principles are disposible, and some will shrug the whole thing off. And we’ll all pay the price.
A person of conscience responds, “I think a lot of us will go to jail.”
Satirist Scott Ott brings the news of the government’s attempt to right a societal wrong: Justice Department to force criminals to register illegal guns
In an effort to reduce gun violence nationwide, Attorney General Eric Holder said today that the Obama administration will reinstate the Clinton-era assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, adding new provisions to make it even more effective at saving lives.
Under the revised rules, people who intend to commit crimes with stolen guns, for example, will first need to register those weapons with the federal government.
“Guns don’t kill people,” said Mr. Holder, “Unregistered, stolen guns kill people. Once we have a list of all of the guns owned by potential criminals, it will be much easier to track down the origin of a weapon that’s been used in a robbery or murder.”
The Justice Department plans to open illegal gun registration kiosks in pawn shops, urban parking garages and abandoned buildings in high-profile locations to make the registration process “as easy and painless as possible.”
In addition to the registration requirement, the definition of ‘assault weapon’ has been expanded to include not only certain semi-automatic guns with pistol grips, large magazines, silencers or collapsible stocks, but any weapon that can be used to assault another person.
“About 14 percent of murderers use knives,” the Attorney General said. “Another five percent kill with blunt objects, and 11 percent with other weapons. The way to stop all of this, of course, is to compile a database at the federal level of all sharp kitchen utensils, hand tools, belts, lengths of rope, hangers, pillows and other potentially-deadly weapons.”
President Barack Obama has said he agrees with the Supreme Court’s D.C. vs. Heller decision which asserted that the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees an individual right to “keep and bear arms.”
“The president is fully behind the Heller decision,” said Mr. Holder, “and he also supports common-sense laws to prevent any practical application of that ruling. All we’re trying to do now is to eliminate the discriminatory distinction between so-called law-abiding citizens and the rest of us.”
It’s not a resolution . It’s a law designed to test the Commerce Clause.
Montana loading another shot for states’ rights
HELENA – Montana lawmakers are betting the words ‘Made in Montana’ might be able to trigger a court showdown with the federal government, while also freeing some gun owners and dealers from background check and licensing requirements.
Under a proposed law before the Legislature, firearms, weapons components and ammunition made in Montana and kept in Montana would be exempt from federal regulation, potentially releasing some Montanans from national gun registration and licensing laws. The legislation could also free gun purchasers in the state from background checks.
Still, the bill’s proponents say the measure has much bigger prey in its sights.
“Firearms are inextricably linked to the history and culture of Montana, and I’d like to support that,” said Republican Rep. Joel Boniek, the bill’s sponsor. “But I want to point out that the issue here is not about firearms. It’s about state rights.”
The issue they’re gunning for is Congress’s authority to regulate commerce between states and with foreign nations, the Commerce Clause. The Supreme Court has ruled, in the past, that Congress can regulate commerce within a state, in a case involving the use by state residents of marijuana grown within the state. Montana legislators think they have a shot because their law involves a constitutionally-protected right.
Good luck, Montana.
H/T Ace of Spades
America will not be a part of the racist hatefest:
White House aides told Jewish leaders on a conference call today that the United States will boycott the United Nations’ World Conference on Racism over hostility to Israel in draft documents prepared for the April conference.
The aides, including an advisor to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, Jennifer Simon, and longtime Obama advisor Samantha Power, said the administration will not participate in further negotiations on the current text or participate in a conference based on the text, sources on the call said.
They left open the option of re-engaging on a “much shorter, much different text,” a source said.
The draft outcome document, typically negotiated in advance and available here (.pdf) , contains sharp and specific criticism of Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians, and Western European nations and Canada have also signaled that they may boycott the conference in Geneva.
Good call, Mr. President.
H/T Hot Air
Previous posts on the Obama Administration and Durban II:
Smoke And Mirrors At Durban II
Obama and Durban II
World Approval At Any Price
The Continuing Degradation Of Human Rights
Human Rights Fraud
President Obama wants to pay you to support global warming regulation. What he isn’t saying, however, is that his enticement won’t come close to covering what the regulations will cost you.
In his 10-year budget released this week, the President proposed a so-called cap-and-trade scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under the proposal, 100 percent of the permits to emit greenhouse gases would be auctioned to coal and natural gas-burning electric utilities, industrial plants and other emitters-to-be-designated. The proceeds from the auctions would then distributed to individual Americans “to help the transition to a clean energy economy,” according to his budget proposal.
What does this mean for you? Basing his calculations on past global warming legislation, the benefit “works out to about $180 per person and $720 per family of four per year.”
Better than nothing?
The liberal think tank Center on Budget Priorities and Policy estimated this week that reducing greenhouse gas emissions would cost the poorest families in America $750 per year as higher energy prices ripple through the economy affecting all goods and services. So if the poorest families, who use far less energy than the rest of America, are in a financial hole under the president’s plan, one can easily imagine how the rest of us will end up. Consider the potential consequences on just your electric bill.
But what about saving the planet?
Even assuming for the sake of argument that man made carbon dioxide emissions were changing climate, Obama’s cap-and-trade bill will still have no detectable impact. First, EPA projects that a maximum clamp down on future U.S. emissions would reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by about 5 percent or less — a trivial change no matter what you believe about carbon dioxide. Moreover, China and India have vowed not to harm their economies because of global warming — so their emissions can be expected to soar as they develop and more than make-up for our reductions.
He concludes, “Maybe the economics of Obama’s cap-and-trade rip-off don’t bother you, but the fact that the rip-off will accomplish nothing should give you pause.”
Yes, it should.
Do you disagree with the Employee Free Choice Act, which would eliminate the secret ballot in union elections if more than 50% of employees publicly sign a card indicating their preference for union representation? Join the virtual march here.
Remember Transportation Secretary LaHood’s recent remarks about government tracking of mileage and taxing it as an option for raising revenue for roads? The press secretary said “It is not and will not be the policy of the Obama administration.” Case closed, right?
Wrong. The National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission released a report on February 26 that recommended that very thing:
The current reliance on gasoline taxes is unsustainable, in part because of more efficient cars and alternative fuels, the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission said in a report. Spending per mile traveled has dropped almost 50 percent, adjusted for inflation, since the Highway Trust Fund was created in the late 1950s, the panel said.
The so-called vehicle-miles traveled framework, which may require a device in cars to track mileage, could assess higher fees at rush hour or on heavier vehicles, the panel said. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said last week that such a system “will not be the policy of the Obama administration.”
“The White House was somewhat premature,” commission Chairman Robert Atkinson said in an interview. “It’s absolutely critical that we look at it. The members of Congress that are committed to a robust transportation system are certainly very aware of the risks of that system not having as much money as it needs because of the stated policy of the Obama administration.”
The report, released today in Washington, didn’t specify a method or technology for tallying the miles a motorist drives. Atkinson said in an earlier interview that a standard for devices and a mandate that all new vehicles be equipped with them would be needed.
Other commission recommendations:
The 15-member commission recommends the U.S. switch to a vehicle-miles-traveled tax that rises with inflation and phase out the gasoline tax by 2020. The panel also asked Congress to raise the federal gasoline tax as soon as possible by 10 cents a gallon, or 54 percent, from the 18.4 cents a gallon levied since 1993 to help fill the funding gap until the new system is in place.
Smells like inevitability. I won’t be surprised to see some form of this end up in Congressional legislation, no matter what President Obama’s press secretary says.
Washington, D.C., is on the road to obtaining a voting member in the House of Representatives. Tuesday the Senate voted to cut off debate 62-34 on the Voting Rights Act. President Obama has said he’ll sign it if it survives court challenges.
The court challenge is a formidable obstacle, because the legislation is unconstitutional. The Foundry at the Heritage Foundation sets it out in The Constitution is Clear: DC is a Federal City.
A few highlights:
Congress Doesn’t Have the Authority: Congress lacks the constitutional authority to simply grant the District a voting representative, as the Constitution explicitly limits such representation to states alone. Members of Congress are bound by their oath to reject proposals that violate the Constitution.
Article I, Section 2: “Representatives…shall be apportioned among the several States.” The District, as courts and Congress have long agreed, is not a state.
Constitutional Amendment: Congress cannot alter the Constitution by itself; an amendment, passed by two-thirds of the House and Senate and ratified by 38 states, is required.
Statehood: While the Constitution grants Congress authority to legislate for the District, this does not grant Congress the authority to violate other provisions of the Constitution. Thus, Congress can no more rely on this authority to add a representative in violation of the Art. I, Sec. 1 requirement that representatives be apportioned to the several “states” than it could rely on the Post Office Clause to ban criticism of the Post Office, which would violate of the First Amendment. Both would be unconstitutional acts.
Precedent: Granting the city a voice in presidential elections required an amendment, the 23rd. The last serious attempt to give the District voting representation was in the form of an amendment, which passed Congress but was not ratified by the required number of states.
Liberal Scholars Agree: Liberal Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, an advocate of direct congressional representation for DC, says it would be “ridiculous to suggest” that delegates to the Constitutional Convention would have worked out such specific language and rules for Congress “only to give the majority of Congress the right to create a new form of voting members from federal enclaves like the District.”
People in D.C. having representation is fine with me. But do it by Constitutional amendment.