Quotations Between August 27-September 3, 2009
To Accompany the September 3, 2009 edition of Tidbits
Bob Jensen's universal health care messaging --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Health.htm
I wish Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh would disappear from the
scene. Every time a citizen objects to legislation of the liberal Congress,
MSNBC and most other media outlets blame it on our ignorance and brain washing
from Sarah, Glenn, and Rush. The media gives us no credit for being able to
think for ourselves. I don't read remarks by Sarah, watch Glenn on Fox, or
listen to Rush. And I'm still concerned about this spendthrift Congress that's
"exploiting an economic crisis" (in its own words) ---
Having said this, I do follow John (Give Us a Break) Stossel like a faithful old dog at the heals of its master ---
It's not fair to indict the little guys in the CIA who were following
By any means possible let's get Bush and Cheney jailed in The Hague for High War Crimes
Nothing would do more to save the GOP than for President Obama literally turn Bush and Cheney over the The Hague in handcuffs for war crimes. Let's indeed take these war crimes all the way to the top and let MSNBC and The New York Times and the rest of the liberal media have a field day. Nothing could do more for conservatism at this point in time.
Bob Jensen --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/tidbits/2009/tidbits090826Quotations.htm
Handcuffs? Won't it be ironic when President Obama pardons Bush and Cheney to save his job. As for Holder, he's a goner. President Obama may also have to defy the ACLU and pardon all CIA interrogators ---
The liberal press will not oppose pardons by Obama just like it did not oppose all those absurd pardons of President Clinton. The liberal press, however, raised a storm over the surprisingly few pardons of George W. Bush.
One thing that the liberal press rarely, if ever, questions is what happens to Al Qaeda prisoners arrested in Iraq and Afghanistan after Barack Obama became President of the United States? I assume that all the prisoners in Guantanamo were put there by Bush and Cheney. What happens to Obama's Al Qaeda prisoners. I suspect they're put in prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. What assurances does President Obama and the ACLU have that Obama prisoners are not being treated far worse than Guantanamo prisoners? Do you suppose guns might be firing in nearby cells or waterboarding torture might be used?
Cindy Sheehan brings Camp Casey to Martha’s
Vineyard. Meanwhile, the mainstream media is as apathetic about her new protest
as they are about an Afghan body count. As the President’s strategy in
Afghanistan appears to be failing worse than his economic policies, and his
promise to end American military involvements overseas is withering alongside
health care reform, recalling those lofty promises from last year’s campaign is
like looking at a marriage proposal from the other side of a Las Vegas hangover.
Outside a short article by the AP there is very little coverage of Cindy
Tom Slagle, "Cindy Sheehan: Where Have All the Cameras Gone?" Big Hollywood, September 1, 2009 ---
There would be riots in the streets and another Woodstock event if a liberal GOP kept sending more troops to Afghanistan, but Obama can send over another million without serious protests. Also, Obama can turn over each enemy captured by U.S. forces to Afghans for torture and hanging, but he'd never dare send one to Gitmo for waterboarding. What a relief it is to have Obama in charge of the Afghan war! MSNBC and the New York Times won't protest.
In its lead editorial Tuesday, "Following the Torture
Trail," The Washington Post declaims, "The real culprits in this sordid story
are the higher-ups, starting with former President George W. Bush and former
Vice President Richard Cheney who led America down the degraded path of
state-sponsored torture." But why is Obama yielding to the clamor of a left that
will not be satiated until Cheney and Bush are indicted as Class A war
criminals? Is that in the national interest? Is it in Obama's interest to tear
his country apart to expose and punish these CIA agents? In the 1960s, Robert
Kennedy and the boys at Justice set up a "Get Hoffa Squad" to take down
Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. It was a vendetta that succeeded.
Pat Buchanan, "The Get-Cheney Squad," Townhall, August 28, 2009 --- http://townhall.com/columnists/PatBuchanan/2009/08/28/the_get-cheney_squad?page=2
In the game of political football that is today
national security, spare a thought for CIA Director Leon Panetta. Quarterbacking
is hard enough without getting sacked by your own team. President Barack Obama
fought hard for the former California congressman during his uncertain February
confirmation fight. That's about the last thing the president has done for his
spy chief. Quite the opposite: If the latest flap over CIA interrogations shows
anything, it's that Mr. Panetta has officially become the president's designated
fall guy. The title has been months in the making. Mr. Obama is contending with
an angry left that's riled by his decisions to retain some Bush-era
counterterrorism policies. He's facing Congressional liberals still baying for
Bush blood. He's hired Attorney General Eric Holder, who is giving the term
"ideological purity" new meaning. Mr. Obama's way to appease these bodies? Hang
the CIA and Mr. Panetta out to dry.
"The Fall Guy: CIA Director Leon Panetta getting sacked by his own team,," The Wall Street Journal, August 28, 2009 ***
I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the
nomination of my party for another term as your president.
Lyndon Baines Johnson rephrasing a quotation from General William Tecumseh Sherman ---
The Viet Nam War took all the fun out of Lyndon Johnson's presidency and
ultimately destroyed him
The Afghan war is taking all the fun out of Barack Obama's presidency. Will it destroy him?
Obama faces deep political consequences, too, for the choices he makes regarding Afghanistan. His worth as a progressive hawk is being tested: record-setting casualties, a sketchy Afghan election, an insurgency that never stops growing, murmurs that this a war that America and her NATO allies cannot win. The problem with stability in Afghanistan is Afghanistan itself: Remote, mountainous and with very limited infrastructure, it has been inhabited since the dawn of time by diverse ethnic and tribal groups that still operate on a barter economy rooted in a feudal system. Trying to separate the bad guys from the good guys there is like trying to figure out who’s the hero in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Afghanistan has been occupied by foreigners off and on for centuries, as far back as 350 B.C. by Alexander the Great, then by the Persians, the Huns, the British and the Soviets.
Salena Zito, "Obama's Afghan test," Townhall, August 30, 2009 --- http://townhall.com/columnists/SalenaZito/2009/08/30/obamas_afghan_test
Something You Will Never Learn About on Bush-Hating MSNBC or from Dan
Mary Mapes knew Bush volunteered for Vietnam (Mary Mapes produced the false information that got Dan Rather fired) Mary Mapes produced a segment for 60 Minutes II that alleged that George W. Bush had manipulated his enlistment in the Texas Air National Guard to avoid serving in combat in Vietnam. The documents used by CBS, Mapes, and Dan Rather turned out to be clumsy hoaxes, which the blogosphere exposed through careful review of their substance and their form (the latter of which I played a small part in refuting, with my expertise in printing and... CBS did an internal investigation that discredited the memos and caused the network to fire Mapes. Buried in the report, however, is an admission that has not been noticed until now — which is that Mapes knew the basis of her story was an outright lie from the beginning (emphases Goldberg’s).
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air, August 27, 2009 ---
The Tough S__t IRS: What's fair for govern is unfair
to mere taxpayers
"Tough," by John Stossel, ABC News, August 27, 2009 --- http://blogs.abcnews.com/johnstossel/2009/08/tough.html
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner stunned many people when he blamed TurboTax for failing to pay taxes he owed. Geithner used the excuse that when doing his own taxes, the tax return preparation software failed to flag some money he owed. Bloomberg.com reports:
(Geithner) told the Senate Finance Committee he accepted responsibility for failing to pay almost $50,000 in taxes, saying his errors were “careless.” Geithner paid some of the money after being audited by the IRS and the rest shortly before he was nominated to the Treasury post.
Not a big deal, apparently, because as Treasury Secretary, Geithner runs the IRS. But when Kenneth and Linda Hopson tried the same defense, the government said, tough. A federal court rejected an attempt by two Ohio residents to use the so-called TurboTax defense that Timothy Geithner relied on to help win Senate confirmation as U.S. Treasury Secretary. The U.S. Tax Court in Washington rejected an appeal of accuracy-based penalties assessed by the Internal Revenue Service on Kenneth and Linda Hopson, who claimed they relied on tax-return preparation software that failed to detect income they had omitted from their 2006 federal tax returns.
“Petitioners were not permitted to bury their heads in the sand and ignore their obligation to ensure that their tax return accurately reflected their income,” the court said in an opinion issued yesterday. “In the end, reliance on tax return preparation software does not excuse petitioners’ failure to review their 2006 tax return.”
To say nothing about his ongoing wrangle with the IRS
The head of the powerful Ways and Means Committee last week amended six years' worth of financial disclosure forms and revealed he'd earned $1.3 million in previously unreported income. That's on top of ongoing House Ethics Committee probes into four other areas of Rangel's financial past -- including failure to properly report income taxes on a Caribbean villa he owns.
Ginger Adams, "RANGEL UNTANGLE DC DEMS MOVE TO SAVE HIM," New York Post, August 30, 2009 ---
Of course, most are aware of Rangel’s “forgetting” to
report income earned on certain properties he owns, including a Costa Rican
villa from which he derived rental income. After being caught and THEN fessing
up to the IRS, the New York pol was allowed to just pay – with no interest or
penalties — the 10 thousand dollars in federal income taxes he owed. What a
deal! Get caught cheating, pay what you should have paid in the first place but
deliberately evaded (not avoided, which is different) paying and walk away with
no penalty or threat of criminal prosecution hanging over your head. I’m no huge
fan of the IRS, so don’t mistake what I’m saying here as a defense of that
government agency. But I really am a proponent of obeying the laws that you
helped to write, and as chairman of what’s widely recognized as one of the most
powerful committees in the House of Representatives, Rangel helped author
federal law dealing with tax cheats just like he, apparently, is turning out to
Scott Michaels, "Because Not Just Anyone Can Cry Like A Baby!" Entitlements Syndrome, September 2, 2009 --- http://entitlementsyndrome.com/
A Westport lawmaker who voted to hike the state
sales and alcohol taxes was spotted brazenly piling booze in his car - adorned
with his State House license plate - in the parking lot of a tax-free New
Hampshire liquor store, the Herald has learned. Michael J. Rodrigues’ blue Ford
Crown Victoria, emblazoned with his “House 29” Massachusetts license plate, was
parked outside a Granite State liquor store on Interstate-95 South over the
weekend, according to a witness who provided pictures to the Herald. The
witness, who requested anonymity, claimed he approached Rodrigues, noted his
State House plate, and asked if he was on personal or official business.
Rodrigues, who was loading booze into his car, snapped “mind your own business,”
the witness said.
Michele McPhee, Dave Wedge and Hillary Chabot, Boston Herald, September 2, 2009 ---
What do you want to bet that he charged the trip to the State of Massachusetts as "official business?"
"The dominant public policy imperative motivating
reform is to address the moral hazard risk created by what we did, what we had
to do in the crisis to save the economy," Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner
said in an interview. That's from today's Washington Post. The "moral hazard
risk" arises when government encourages people to gamble by suggesting that
government will rescue them if they fail. By bailing out the banks, the federal
government has essentially declared to the world that they will do it again.
That created a moral hazard. It's refreshing to know that Administration is
John Stossel, "Geithner Moral Hazard," ABC News, August 28, 2009 ---
I wonder if this applies to Palestinians who go to college in the U.S.?
It would seem strange if a war crime while in Palestine ceases to be a war crime elsewhere
"Hamas Spiritual Leaders: Teaching the Holocaust to Palestinian Students a ‘War Crime’," Family Security Matters, September 2, 2009 --- http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.4159/pub_detail.asp
A Hamas spiritual leader on Monday called teaching Palestinian children about the Nazi murder of 6 million Jews a “war crime,” rejecting a suggestion that the U.N. might include the Holocaust in Gaza’s school curriculum. A senior Israeli official said such statements should make the West think twice about ending its boycott of Hamas, in place since the group seized Gaza by force in 2007. Israeli officials called the comments as “obscene” and said they place Hamas in a pariah club of Holocaust deniers that includes Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Hamas spiritual leader Younis al-Astal lashed out after hearing that the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, the main U.N. body aiding Palestinian refugees, planned to introduce lessons about the Holocaust to Gaza students. Adding the Holocaust to the curriculum would amount to “marketing a lie and spreading it,” al-Astal wrote in a statement. “I do not exaggerate when I say this issue is a war crime, because of how it serves the Zionist colonizers and deals with their hypocrisy and lies,” he wrote. A U.N. official said no decision has been made about introducing Holocaust education in Gaza….Three teachers at U.N. schools said that according to the new program, basic information about the Holocaust was expected to be taught to eighth grade students as part of human rights classes….Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri also objected to including what he referred to as the “so-called Holocaust” in the lesson plan. “We think it’s more important to teach Palestinians the crimes of the Israeli occupation,” he said. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said countries contemplating ending their boycott of Hamas must “seriously reconsider” after the Hamas statements, which he described as “obscene.”
So what's the big deal? Putin is rewriting Russian history with whitewash. And Al Gore is rewriting climate science.
In case you haven't heard, California and Nevada are
at war. Not an old-fashioned war with bullets and tanks, but a newfangled media
battle over which one is the last best hope for entrepreneurs and businesses in
these troubled times. Nevada started it. The Nevada Development Authority
launched a campaign that will spend a million dollars over a year to air a
series of ads enticing California businesses to move to Las Vegas. The spots
boast about Nevada's low taxes and workers' comp fees and feature a chimpanzee
and a really bad actress portraying a television newswoman who turns into a pig
wearing bright red lipstick. California Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana),
putting his campaign funds to creative use, is paying for counterattack ads that
list corporate behemoths based in California and make fun of lonely, cow-filled
Ethan Rarick, "Nevada's senseless war on California," Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2009 ---
The problem is probably not as great with corporations leaving California as it is with individuals leaving the state in droves for a variety of reasons, including high taxes and need to find jobs. And yes California real estate prices still are a factor when comparing housing costs in California relative to most other states other than Hawaii and New York. The American Dream is more affordable in most any state other than California.
Fraud Among Top Democrats and Their Lobbies
It may not be Talk Like a Pirate Day, but this story is guaranteed to make you say, “Aaaaargh!” The Obama administration will pay a British distiller almost $3,000,000,000 (billion) in subsidies in order to move its operation from Puerto Rico to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. The makers of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum, Diageo PLC, won’t be complaining about their booty, but the people on Puerto Rico feel pillaged — and so should American taxpayers . .
Ed Morrissey, "Obama administration putting billions into British distiller; Update: DNC member/lobbyist behind push?" Hot Air, September 1, 2009 --- http://hotair.com/archives/2009/09/01/obama-administration-putting-billions-into-british-distiller/
Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
The UK has a comparatively poor record on pensions.
A European commission study showed that Britain's pensioners have the fourth
highest level of poverty in Europe and are
worse off than their counterparts
in Romania, Poland and France. A report by the
work and pensions committee stated that despite
winter fuel payments, pension credits and large increases in state pensions
since 1997, nearly 2 million pensioners live in poverty and have to make hard
choices between food, travel and heating. Since 1997, cold-related diseases have
claimed the lives of
nearly 260,000 pensioners. In 1980, the
Conservative party broke the link between the state pension and average
earnings. If that link had been maintained, a single person would now receive
additional £2,300 in pension each year and a couple nearly £4,500. Through the
Pensions Act 2008, Labour has promised to
resume the link between the state pension and
earnings at some point between 2012 and 2015. This, though welcome, will not do
enough to improve the pensioners' lot.
Prem Sikka, "The pension plunderers: Lord Turner wants us to delay retiring till 70, but only a squeeze on business can save workers from ending their days in poverty," The Guardian, August 28, 2009 ---
Pakistani counterterrorism officials say they
believe that kidnapping for ransom may have been the single largest revenue
source for the Taliban’s top commander in the country, Baitullah Mehsud, before
he was killed this month in an American drone strike. Last year, Mr. Mehsud’s
network may have held as many as 70 hostages, said a Pakistani counterterrorism
official who did not speak for attribution for reasons of protocol. Control over
these criminal networks and the money they generate may have been at the center
of what seemed to be the struggle over who would succeed Mr. Mehsud.
Sabrena Tavernese, "Organized Crime in Pakistan Feeds Taliban," The New York Times, August 29, 2009 ---
'Feminist porn' movie Dirty Diaries, which received
350,000 kronor ($59,000) in public funding, is to premiere this Thursday in
Stockholm. The collection of 12 short pornographic films, all shot on mobile
phones, is the brainchild of feminist documentary filmmaker, Mia Engberg. All of
the filmmakers are either female or identify as female (one of the filmmakers
was born male), and the films are underpinned by the 10-point manifesto (See
movie website) of the Dirty Diaries project (intriguingly, point 4 is missing).
The project received 350,000 kronor in production support from the Swedish Film
Institute, which has attracted criticism from some...
The Local (Sweden), September 9, 2009 --- http://www.thelocal.se/21814/20090901/
Why didn't Michael Moore think of this first. It could've been titled Fahrenheit-The Sequel.
Arrest in Germany
DNA Test Leads To Arrest of Woman For 1977 Red Army Faction Political Assassination She had already been sentenced to life in 1977 for other crimes but was pardoned in 1989.
Alan Hill, "DNA test leads to arrest of woman Red Army Faction terrorist for murder 32 years ago," Mail Online, August 28, 2009 --- Click Here
NM Federal Prosecutor Basically Admits Richardson
Guilty But no charges will be filed.
Fox News, August 28, 2009 --- Click Here
Whew! That saves the embarrassment of having President Obama pardon his first choice for Secretary of Commerce.
Washed Up, Scary Looking Old Lady Gets Booed When
She Tries To Lecture Europeans On How They Should Think. Maybe Madonna should
have checked with Cher before spouting off about Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.
"Madonna booed in Bucharest for defending Gypsies," Omg.com, August 27, 2009 --- Click Here
However, with this public declaration of paternity,
it appears that John Edwards will now step up and do the right thing. Reports
claim that he has told his wife, Elizabeth, that he will move Rielle and Frances
into his own family's neighborhood so that he can play an active role in the
rearing of Frances as his own child. Clearly, this news would infuriate any
wife, and likely his other children as well, but Edwards is finally doing the
Allen Hunt, "John Edwards Outclasses Rick Pitino, Really!" Townhall, August 31, 2009 ---
Naturally the big question is what new neighbor John wants to be closest to and whether it's really the "right thing."? All his adult life, John has preferred to do the "left thing."
Additionally, in the view of the United Nations,
sexuality education is the responsibility of “education and health authorities”
not parents. Teachers and doctors, so the liberal line goes, understand the big
picture and have the conceptual understanding necessary — the “rights based
approach” that excludes parents and incorporates appropriate “practitioner
experience and expert opinion.” Excluding parents from the process keeps them
from being aware of how frequently “sexuality education” indoctrinates against
traditional values, especially “discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
Janice Shaw Crouse, Townhall, August 31, 2009 --- http://townhall.com/columnists/JaniceShawCrouse/2009/08/31/a_report_on_the_un’s_shocking_sexuality_guidelines
CBO = Congressional Budget Office
Tucked away in the report are several incendiary plans that could — if adopted — cost homeowners billions of dollars. Though not formal legislative proposals, the CBO's options represent a handy fiscal menu for legislators to pick and choose from to reduce the deficit — now at unprecedented levels — or to pay for new programs they might want to advance. Tops on the CBO's hit list for housing: Slash deductions for homeowner mortgage interest from the present $1.1 million limit to $500,000, phased in with $100,000 annual reductions starting in 2013 and extending to 2019.
San Jose Mercury News, August 25, 2009 --- Click Here
The big worry for most home owners is whether the planned $100,000 annual reductions will eliminate deductions of home ownership altogether. This it seems to me is too extreme, because it would take the incentive away for most home buyers to buy their own homes and take on the trials and tribulations and risks of home ownership. It would force most older home owners like me to divert savings into paying off mortgages. Millions of investors in municipal securities, like me, would invest less in schools and counties and towns, thereby making it much more expensive to finance local schools and local government.
"Straight talk on the federal budget deficit," EPI News, August 25,
Some little-known facts about the federal budget deficit: It grew slower than was expected just a few months ago, stimulus spending accounts for only a small sliver of its total, and the leading health care reform proposal would provide coverage for most uninsured Americans without adding a penny to its total. Although the federal deficit is commonly dangled as the reason to block further public investment or comprehensive health care reform, that argument ignores some basic truths about the deficit.
On August 25, the White House released an updated estimate of the federal budget deficit, which shows it now totals $1.6 trillion or 11.2% of GDP. This is $262 billion less than what was estimated in May. The Congressional Budget Office showed a smaller improvement. In anticipation of that release, EPI produced a series of reports (see below) examining the roots of the deficit and the potential impact that health care reform would have on it.
Don’t blame Obama
For all the criticism President Obama has received for running up the deficit, it turns out that Obama’s policies have been a very small factor in the expansion of the federal budget deficit. Bush-era policies, including aggressive tax cuts and spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have added significantly more to the total
In The 2009 Budget Deficit: How Did We Get Here? EPI's Research and Policy Director John Irons notes that George Bush inherited a budget surplus in 2001. Irons and a team of researchers parsed the data to show that 42% of the $2 trillion reversal of fortunes since then reflects Bush-era policies. Another 42% of that $2 trillion reflects the impact of the recession on tax revenues and spending on programs such as unemployment insurance. By contrast, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which so often is blamed for the growing deficit, accounts for just 7.6% of the total.
Irons sums up his findings in the analysis Roots of Deficit Pre-Date Obama, where he notes that Bush-era tax cuts combined with revenues lost during the current recession will produce a level of federal revenue in 2009 which, as a portion of GDP, is the lowest since 1950. “An economic downturn will automatically create deficits because job loss and income declines reduce tax revenues, and because they create more demand for public services such as unemployment, nutrition assistance, and increased Medicaid spending,” Irons writes.
Health care reform and the deficit
Economist Josh Bivens, meanwhile, notes in Reform We Can Afford that efforts to block health care reform out of fear of the swelling deficit are misguided for a number of reasons, mainly because the House bill outlines ways to fully pay for the reforms it proposes, meaning that it would provide health insurance to the majority of Americans who do not have it, without adding to the deficit. The reform bill also ends a longstanding budget gimmick that projects steep cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates and then rescinds them at the last minute. Including those costs, which have really been in the budget all along (though largely disguised), would result in the reform bill adding about $239 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years. To put that figure in context, it is roughly 15% of the cost of the tax cuts passed during the Bush administration, or 25% of the cost of spending on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to date, Bivens notes.
Numbers aside, Bivens makes the point that a philosophical opposition to spending that could increase the deficit is as misguided as, say, an opposition to borrowing money to buy a home or pay for a college education. During an extremely steep economic downturn, curtailing spending to protect the deficit is especially foolhardy. “Green eyeshades just have no place at all in current economic debates,” Bivens writes. “The U.S. economy has lost 6.7 million jobs in the past 19 months as private spending has collapsed. Literally the only thing keeping another economic depression at bay has been the very large rise in the federal budget deficit…. Normally, it would be considered a bad idea to dump a bucket of water on your living room rug. When that rug is on fire, however, it’s not just a good idea, it’s absolutely necessary.” Indeed, EPI’s recent report The Recovery Package in Action by Irons and Policy Analyst Ethan Pollack outlines how spending made this year under the Recovery Act has been integral in stopping the economy from going into “a full-blown nose dive.”
Replacing No Child Left Behind
EPI Research Associate Richard Rothstein recently published a piece in Education Week magazine outlining some of the recommendations made by the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education campaign for providing students a well-rounded education that would help them succeed in life, rather than just on standardized tests. Rothstein’s opinion piece is available on EPI’s Web site.
In the news
As a debate heats up over whether an economic recovery is underway, a number of news stories discussing the persistently weak job market quote EPI. An Arizona Republic story cites EPI data showing that the United States has lost virtually all the jobs gained since the last recession ended in 2001. A Seattle Times story quotes EPI’s analysis on the high ratio of job seekers to job openings. EPI Vice President Ross Eisenbrey was interviewed for a Nightly Business Report story on the same topic. Eisenbrey pointed out that large numbers of unemployed have not received unemployment insurance, or will soon exhaust those benefits.
From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on August 27, 2009
As Budget Deficit Grows, So Do Doubts on Dollar
by Neil Shah
Aug 26, 2009
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com
TOPICS: Advanced Financial Accounting, Foreign Currency Exchange Rates, Governmental Accounting
SUMMARY: Long term versus short term influences on foreign exchange rates are evident by comparing the primary article on potential U.S. government federal deficits versus the related article on short-term currency trading.
CLASSROOM APPLICATION: The article may be used in both advanced accounting classes to introduce foreign currency transactions and in governmental accounting classes to understand the relationship of accounting and budget information to economic circumstances.
1. (Introductory) List three economic factors that generally cause a change in any currency's exchange rate with other currencies.
2. (Advanced) What is the current state of these economic factors and their expected influence on the value of the U.S. dollar? How has U.S. federal government accounting information impacted discussion of these economic factors and the U.S. dollar's future?
3. (Introductory) Refer to the related article. Exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and four currencies are quoted there: the euro, the yen, the British pound, and the Swiss franc. Which of these exchange rates for the U.S. dollar are quoted indirectly, and which are quoted directly?
4. (Introductory) Define the terms "spot rate" and "forward rate."
5. (Advanced) Refer to the table of currency exchange rates associated with the related article. In general, what trend is evident in the forward rates quoted in the table? What factor in the article might explain this trend? How does this trend compare to the long term issues discussed in answer to questions one and two above?
Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island
Dollar Retreats on Euro, Yen
by Bradley Davis
Aug 26, 2009
"As Budget Deficit Grows, So Do Doubts on Dollar," by Neil Shaw, The Wall
Street Journal, August 26, 2009 ---
The U.S. economy may be showing signs of recovering from the financial crisis, but the jury is still out on the future of the U.S. dollar.
While many analysts expect the dollar to strengthen in coming months as the crisis fades and the U.S. economy turns toward growth, a growing chorus of investors is expressing concern about the longer-term outlook for the greenback.
In a new twist to an old refrain among economists, who have long worried about the effects of growing U.S. debt, they say that the huge liabilities the U.S. is taking on to dig its way out of crisis could ultimately undermine faith in the dollar.
"There has been a lot of disappointment with the way the U.S. credit crisis was handled," says Claire Dissaux, managing director of global economics and strategy for Millennium Global Investments Ltd., a London investment firm specializing in currencies. "The dollar's loss of influence is a steady and long-term trend."
On Tuesday, the Obama administration added fuel to concerns about the dollar, saying the U.S. will run a cumulative budget deficit of $9 trillion over the next 10 years, $2 trillion more than it had previously projected.
"That's going to be negative for the dollar," says Adam Boyton, a currency analyst at Deutsche Bank AG in New York. President Barack Obama also reappointed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, whose efforts to rescue the economy have won praise, but have also entailed pumping large amounts of freshly created dollars into the financial system.
Investors and economists have long harbored concerns about the dollar's decline, especially in the beginning of this decade as the federal government and consumers ran up their debtloads to finance everything from foreign wars to flat-screen TVs. Last fall's financial crash suggested that such fears may be overblown: As markets plunged in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., investors scrambled to stash their cash in U.S. Treasury bills, perceiving them to be the safest investments. That boosted the value of the U.S. dollar against many of its major counterparts.
Now, though, major investors like Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman Warren Buffett and bond investment firm Pimco fear the government's fiscal and monetary stimulus programs could end up fueling inflation in coming years and hammering the dollar. Higher inflation eats up the returns of bond investments that provide a fixed interest income, making them less attractive to investors. Less demand for U.S. bonds could mean a weaker dollar.
Mr. Buffett, for example, worries that U.S. policy makers will fail to move decisively to curtail the nation's ballooning net debt, expected by some to rise to more than 75% of annual economic output by 2013. Instead, policy makers might tolerate higher inflation, which makes existing debts more manageable but would hurt the U.S.'s creditors, including China and Japan. In this scenario, investors would demand much higher interest when lending to the U.S. government, raising its borrowing costs and making further budget deficits harder to finance at a time when an aging population will sharply boost the costs of social security and government-sponsored health care.
Investors are also growing more comfortable with the idea of emerging economies like China, Russia and Brazil playing a bigger role in shaping international finance. Some analysts, including Pimco portfolio manager Curtis Mewbourne, say emerging economies have a unique opportunity to use the crisis to reduce their reliance on the U.S. dollar., which tends to account for the lion's share of their foreign-exchange reserves.
"Investors should consider whether it makes sense to take advantage of any periods of U.S. dollar strength to diversify their currency exposure," Mr. Mewbourne wrote in a recent note.
Earlier this year, China's central-bank governor called for moving toward a "super-sovereign" reserve currency, one not belonging to any particular country. Analysts generally see such an option as unrealistic, since the U.S. wouldn't want to give up its status as the main currency in which the world's central banks hold their reserves, and any new reserve currency would require a deep and developed market where it could be traded.
There aren't yet many signs that investors are leaving the dollar. China and Japan, the biggest foreign creditors to the U.S., loaded up on longer-term Treasury debt in June, according to the latest Treasury data. China, for example, bought $26.6 billion in notes and bonds, its biggest monthly buying on record.
"The Treasury rally suggests the U.S. is facing neither an inflationary explosion nor a crisis of confidence," analysts at French bank BNP Paribas SA said in a recent note.
The dollar has held its own against its major rivals in recent weeks. On Tuesday, one euro bought $1.4314, compared with $1.4293 on Monday and $1.4253 at the end of July.
Any dislodging of the dollar as reserve currency will likely happen gradually if it happens at all, analysts say. Investors like China would suffer major losses if they suddenly sold a large portion of their dollar holdings.
And a weak U.S. dollar would ripple far and wide, hurting the competitiveness of companies in export-dependent Germany and Japan. That could prompt policy makers there to voice concerns about the dollar's weakness to protect their own economies.
Reports of the Dollar's Death Are Greatly Exaggerated ---
Bob Jensen's threads on the National Debt crisis are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm
There are times when Americans’ attitude toward
health-care reform seems a bit like St. Augustine’s take on chastity: Give it to
us, Lord, but not yet. In theory, the public overwhelmingly supports
reform—earlier this year, polls showed big majorities in favor of fundamental
change. But, when it comes to actually making fundamental change, people go all
wobbly. Just about half of all Americans now disapprove of the way the Obama
Administration is handling health care.
James Surowiecki, "Status-Quo Anxiety," The New Yorker, August 31, 2009 ---
The fact of the matter is that liberals like Surowiecki cannot mention universal health care, economic disaster, and deficit spending in the same article. Opponents are all ignorant sheep being guided by the demonizing GOP. Not once does Surowiecki discuss how to pay for the many costly provisions in H.R. 3200.
Congressman Mike Rogers' opening statement on Health Care reform in
Washington D.C. ---
"Dean says Obamacare authors don't want to challenge trial lawyers," by: Mark Tapscott, Washington Examiner, August 26, 2009 --- Click Here
Whatever else he said Wednesday evening at the town hall hosted by Rep. Jim Moran, D-VA, former Democratic National Committee chairman and presidential candidate Howard Dean let something incredibly candid slip out about President Obama's health-care reform bill in Congress.
Asked by an audience member why the legislation does nothing to cap medical malpractice class-action lawsuits against doctors and medical institutions (aka "Tort reform"), Dean responded by saying: “The reason tort reform is not in the [health care] bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everybody else they were taking on. And that’s the plain and simple truth,”
Dean is a former physician, so he knows about skyrocketing medical malpractice insurance rates, and the role of the trial lawyers in fueling the "defensive medicine" approach among medical personnel who order too many tests and other sometimes unneeded procedures "just to be sure" and to protect themselves against litigation.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry recently described in an Examiner oped the medical-malpractice caps enacted by the state legislature at his urging that reversed a serious decline in the number of physicians practicing in the Lone Star state and the resulting loss of access to quality medical care available to Texas residents. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbor also shared some of his successes in this area in a recent Examiner oped.
Credit goes to the American Tort Reform Association's Darren McKinney for catching this momentary outbreak of political honesty by Dean. McKinney has conveniently posted an audio recording of Dean speaking here, so you can listen for yourself. Mckinney has also offered more comment here, helpfully even including a link to the Examiner's recent analysis of the degree to which trial-lawyer political contributions go to Democrats in Congress.
Those contributions are why Dean knows it would be a difficult task indeed for Obama to persuade congressional Democrats to do anything that might offend the trial-lawyers lobby. The Examiner's David Freddoso and Kevin Mooney did the reporting on this link here.
Reports are that the Texas cap on punitive damages has been quite successful in restraining outrageous settlements of malpractice lawsuits.
The Lie: Every Obamacare Critic is a Racist
Since my post below about Obama supporters who tar all of the President’s critics as racists, Fidel Castro has weighed in. Reuters reports that Castro says Obama is trying to make positive changes but is being fought at every turn by right-wingers who hate him because he is black: “(T)he extreme right hates him for being African-American… I don't have the slightest doubt that the racist right will do everything possible to wear him down, blocking his program to get him out of the game one way or another, at the least political cost," (Castro) said. More than a thousand...
John Stossel, ABC News, August 27, 2009 --- http://blogs.abcnews.com/johnstossel/2009/08/every-critic-a-racist.html
Under H.R. 676
[Text of Bill],
Medicare would be extended and improved so that all individuals residing in the
United States would receive high quality and affordable health care services.
They would receive all medically necessary services by the physicians of their
choice, with no restrictions on what providers they could visit. If implemented,
the United States National Health Insurance Act would cover primary care,
dental, mental health, prescription drugs, and long term care.
Michael Moore --- http://www.michaelmoore.com/sicko/what-can-i-do/petitions/pnum649.php
Mike will never understand that there will be no decent health care for anyone in the United States when the annual budget deficit hits $20 trillion and nobody will invest in our National Debt. He never took Economics 101.
From Former Liberal Senator Bill
The bipartisan trade-off in a viable health care bill is obvious: Combine universal coverage with malpractice tort reform in health care. Universal coverage can be obtained in many ways — including the so-called public option. Malpractice tort reform can be something as commonsensical as the establishment of medical courts — similar to bankruptcy or admiralty courts — with special judges to make determinations in cases brought by parties claiming injury. Such a bipartisan outcome would lower health care costs, reduce errors (doctors and nurses often don’t report errors for fear of being sued) and guarantee all Americans adequate health care. Whenever Congress undertakes large-scale reform, there are times when disaster appears certain — only to be averted at the last minute by the good sense of its sometimes unfairly maligned members. What now appears in Washington as a special-interest scrum could well become a triumph for the general interest. But for that to happen, the two parties must strike a grand bargain on universal coverage and malpractice tort reform. The August recess has given each party and its constituencies a chance to reassess their respective strategies. One result, let us hope, may be that Congress will surprise everyone this fall.
Bill Bradley, "Tax Reform’s Lesson for Health Care Reform," The New York Times, August 30, 2009 ---
The Lie: Americans only receive 55% of recommended care.
This would be a frightening statistic, if it were true. It is not. Yet it was presented as fact to the Senate Health and Finance Committees, which are writing reform bills, in March 2009 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (the federal body that sets priorities to improve the nation's health care). The statistic comes from a flawed study published in 2003 by the Rand Corporation. That study was suppose to be based on telephone interviews with 13,000 Americans in 12 metropolitan areas followed up by a review of each person's medical records and then matched against 439 indicators of quality health practices. But two-thirds of the people contacted declined to participate, making the study biased, by Rand's own admission. To make matters worse, Rand had incomplete medical records on many of those who participated and could not accurately document the care that these patients received. For example, Rand found that only 15% of the patients had received a flu vaccine based on available medical records. But when asked directly, 85% of the patients said that they had been vaccinated. Most importantly, there were no data that indicated whether following the best practices defined by Rand's experts made any difference in the health of the patients.
Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband, "Sorting Fact From Fiction on Health Care: Current congressional proposals would significantly change your relationship with your doctor," The Wall Street Journal, August 30, 2009 --- Click Here
The Lie: No government bureaucrat will come between you and your
"Sorting Fact From Fiction on Health Care: Current congressional proposals would significantly change your relationship with your doctor," by Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband, The Wall Street Journal, August 30, 2009 --- Click Here
In Memoriam - Mary Jo Kopechne – Dead at the Age of 28 --- http://ace.mu.nu/
Bob Jensen's threads on Obamacare Lies ---
Return to Tidbits on September 3, 2009 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/tidbits/2009/tidbits090903.htm