Stimulus spending

Dec 012012

I guess it depends on the WSJ headline writer’s definition of “offer”.

Obama’s Cliff Offer Spurned : GOP Criticizes Proposal for Tax, Spending Increases With Limited Entitlement Cuts

via GOP Rejects Cliff Offer From Obama –

For example:

  • Nov 29 2012: “Obama’s Cliff Offer Spurned”
  • Aug 31 1939: “Hitler’s Danzig/Corridor offer spurned by Poland.”
  • Dec 8 1941: “Japan’s Hawaii offer spurned by FDR”

And yes, I suppose in a manner of speaking Obama could be said to have offered limited entitlement cuts. He also offered limited tax and spending increases, but only in the sense that he didn’t explicitly use the word “infinite.”

Sep 242012

Some notes on President Obama’s claim to be a fiscal skinflint:

Federal spending as a share of GDP will average 24.1% over his first term including 2013. Even if you throw out fiscal 2009 and blame that entirely on Mr. Bush, the Obama spending average will be 23.8% of GDP. That compares to a post-WWII average of a little under 20%. Spending under Mr. Bush averaged 20.1% including 2009, and 19.6% if that year is left out.

via Review & Outlook: The 10% President –

Aug 042011

This photo is of a hole I was digging in my back yard several years ago.  It provided some very clean fill dirt for our new garage.   I dug it deeper than this before I was done, but unlike our national economy, I never dug it so deep I couldn’t get out.  It has since been filled in.

Speaking of digging ourselves in deeper, there is an interesting side to the left’s hysterical screaming of the last several days.   If you let them rage and rant long enough and loud enough, eventually they will scream off-message and let a bit of the truth leak out.   That seems to be what happened with Rep. Mike Doyle.

For a couple of weeks it was all about how to deal with the deficit.   We knew the left was not particularly interested in reducing the deficit, of course, because Pres. Obama wouldn’t even give up his $128 billion in walking-around money for the 2012 re-election campaign.     But they tried to sell the idea that higher taxes were needed in order to reduce the deficit.  A few of their own followers may even have believed it.

But now, Rep. Mike Doyle confirmed what we knew all along.  It wasn’t about deficit reduction.  It was about Democrats feeding their spending habit.    “We have negotiated with terrorists.  This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money.”

And did Vice President Biden try to steer Rep. Doyle back on message by reminding him that deficit-reduction was the object?   No, all he could do was agree that the Democrat opponents have acted like terrorists.

And if anyone thinks it was just one rogue Congressman, President Obama couldn’t help himself, either.   Now that there was no reason to restrain himself, he came out promoting more  of his wild spending plans, aka “key investments.”

See Michelle Malkin’s column, Back to Big Government-Spending as Usual


Jun 292010

Paul Krugman says we are now entering a 3rd depression.   We may indeed be entering one, but I question his counting method (to say nothing of his ideology).  Here‘s how he explains how he’s keeping score:

As far as I can tell, there were only two eras in economic history that were widely described as “depressions” at the time: the years of deflation and instability that followed the Panic of 1873 and the years of mass unemployment that followed the financial crisis of 1929-31.

What I question is why he didn’t include the depression of the 1890s in his count.    I don’t know if the word depression was used at the time, but people certainly realized they were in the middle of bad times that had begun with a panic in 1893,  just as a panic had resulted in a depression 20 years earlier. Surely Dr. Krugman has heard of Coxey’s army and the violent strikes of 1894.   The bad times were the subject of political debates at the time.   This depression is now considered the worst one prior to the 1930s.

I have a special interest in the 1890s depression because there is some family history about it.    My grandfather was just a kid then, but he used to tell me how his father, a small-town law enforcement officer, was charged with the duty of keeping hobos out of town.   There were a lot of homeless men riding the rails then, trying to pick up meals, odd jobs, and loose chickens wherever they could.    When I was little I would be surprised at how my grandfather, who I knew could ill afford it, would give away $5 to the traveling vagrant who would come into our yard and merely ask for it.  I remember asking for an explanation for such generosity, and that he had an answer, but I don’t remember what the answer was.  I do remember what he did and the tone of respect for the man who had asked.  Maybe it happened only one time that I knew of, but I got the idea that it would easily happen for any other hobo who asked.   I’ve since wondered if it had anything to do with the men his father, whom he greatly admired and with whom he was in conflict long after he was dead, would chase out of town in the 1890s.)

Come to think of it, I don’t know why Krugman didn’t count the depression of the late 1830s, either.    But if the word depression was only first used in the 1870s,  I don’t know why it wouldn’t have been used in the 1890s, too.

Maybe Krugman has an explanation but didn’t want to get bogged down with it in his article.   I’m just saying I’m not believing his scorekeeping without further evidence.

Mar 042010

The next time anyone suggests that we take seriously something that President Obama said, we should point to the media attack on Jim Bunning. The next time anyone suggests that we need higher taxes to pay for important social programs, or to bring down the deficit, or anything else, we should point to the media attack on Jim Bunning. The scandalous behavior of the media and everyone else who participated in the orchestrated smear campaign on the Senator from Kentucky shows the pointlessness of any of this.

I say orchestrated, because there is no way that anyone who pays any attention to the news or did his own thinking would have repeated the attacks on Bunning without referring to the Pay-Go legislation that President Obama and Congress had enacted just a few weeks ago. Only mindless functionaries could have failed to bring that into the discussion.

Or, maybe it’s the case that Pay-Go did come to mind, but nobody took Congress or the President seriously when that legislation was enacted. If that’s the case, there is no reason to take them seriously whey they say or do anything else.

If the news media had done its job of reporting instead of smearing, we could have had a valuable discussion. Instead of repeating the claim that one person was holding up the legislation, we could have come to grips with the points that Bunning raised in an opinion piece that came out in USA Today after the smear had done its work. Here is a quote:

Many people asked me, “Why now?” My answer is, “Why not now?” Why can’t a non-controversial measure in the Senate that would help those in need be paid for? If the Senate cannot find $10 billion to pay for a measure we all support, we will never pay for anything.

Exactly. We will never pay for anything. If the Senate couldn’t find $10 billion anywhere else in the budget to pay for this, there is no need to ever raise taxes again. It would be pointless. The government is just going to print whatever extra money it wants to spend, no matter whether we’re taxed at 10 percent or 90 percent. People may claim that we need to bring down the deficit, but if they took part in the attack on Bunning, we will know their words are worthless. If they didn’t care about the deficit when trying to find money to for a modest extension to unemployment benefits, they will never really care about the deficit, no matter what they claim. It will be a waste of time to believe them.

Feb 262010

One courageous Senator, Jim Bunning, wants to extend unemployment benefits and COBRA to unemployed workers, and at the same time help President Obama bring the budget deficit under control. But the rest of his colleagues are too stingy and short-sighted to do it. So far I haven’t found a single newspaper that has reported on this conflict.

Jan 312010

Best line of the day is from George Will:

He called Wednesday for a third stimulus (the first was his predecessor’s, in February 2008) although the S-word has been banished in favor of “jobs bill.” It will inject into the economy money that government siphons from the economy, thereby somehow creating jobs. And you thought alchemy was strange.

Sep 202009

I wonder if this is what John Maynard Keynes meant when he said, “In the long run we are all dead.”

From the Washington Post: “Despair in Once-Proud Argentina : After Economic Collapse, Deep Poverty Makes Dignity a Casualty” by By Anthony Faiola

Argentines have watched, horrified, as the meltdown dissolved more than their pocketbooks. Even the rich have been affected in their own way. The tragedy has struck hardest, however, among the middle class, the urban poor and the dirt farmers. Their parts of this once-proud society appear to have collapsed — a cave-in so complete as to leave Argentines inhabiting a barely recognizable landscape.

With government statistics showing 11,200 people a day falling into poverty — earning less than $3 daily — Buenos Aires, a city once compared to Paris, has become the dominion of scavengers and thieves at night. Newly impoverished homeless people emerge from abandoned buildings and rail cars, rummaging through trash in declining middle- and upper-class neighborhoods. People from the disappearing middle class, such as Vicente Pitasi, 60 and jobless, have turned to pawn shops to sell their wedding rings.

What a way to go, though!

Aug 082009

It’s about time for us to get a new car to replace our one-and-only car, a venerable 1998 Toyota Corolla. But thanks to idiot politicians and their cash-for-clunkers program, now is a bad time to buy. Not only do we not get in on a cash-for-a-clunker deal, but we have to pay extra taxes so other people can trade in their clunkers. Not only that, but the people who ARE trading their clunkers in are causing shortages of new cars. It isn’t that we want a new car. We want a low-mileage used one. Just the same, this program is not going to drive prices down at the dealers. It isn’t going to motivate them to sharpen their pencils to sell to us.

On the other hand, I suppose if more people buy new cars instead of used, it might actually work a little bit in our favor if it causes a glut of used cars. But I expect the net result will be more to the dealers’ benefit than ours. The clunkers are going to the dumpster, and will not be going to the used car lots.

So it might be best for us to hang on to our car until just before the massive inflation that will be required to pay for all these stimulus programs starts to kick in. We’ll see.

In the meantime, the program probably does not a thing to motivate people to cut their carbon emissions. Having a fuel-efficient car does not motivate people to burn less fuel.

Aug 052009


Obama was in Wakarusa today, declaring victory. (“In Indiana, Obama declares stimulus is working“) It kind of reminds one of George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech.


The first part of the week we had been staying in Nappanee, 6 miles to the south, and at breakfast someone had mentioned that it was hard to get around up there because the President was coming. If I had arranged another day of vacation it would have been nice to ride my bike up there with some protest signs and then listen to leftwing operatives explain where I come from. (Read the memo. I did.)

Who are these people? The people who show up are far right-wing ideologues recruited by paid organizers. Much of this recruitment and organizing is funded by industry lobbyists and public relatgions firms to engage radical right-wing groups. Many of these groups are motivated by far right ideology in general – not by health care as an issue. They are held together by a common vision of the world that centers on defeating Obama and his agenda. We can expect to see anti-abortion groups, pro-gun groups, insurance company employees (mandated by employers to come out), militia groups, and anti-immigration groups.


But instead I did a 76 mile ride to Hamilton, to the site shown above, and from there we drove home. Besides, I’ve ridden my bike to Wakarusa before — stopped there to get a bite to eat on my way elsewhere. It got me thinking, though, about how I could deck out my bicycle with some protest signs where I would usually mount panniers. And then there is the question of what to put on them. One bumpersticker slogan I found on the net a few days ago: “Please don’t tell Obama what comes after a trillion!”