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Friday, July 31, 2009

Congress Bails Out the Auto Industry…Again…

The House today doubled down on the “Cash for Clunkers” program, approving $2 billion more to keep the nationwide sales ploy afloat. With the first $1 billion set to run out, Congress moved with lightning speed to get more cash on the street – despite widespread reports of confusion surrounding how the program is being administered.

Congressman Hodes, not surprisingly, praised the bill in a statement:
It’s good for New Hampshire’s auto dealers; it’s good for the environment as we are getting inefficient cars off the road; and it’s good for the economy and jobs.
Ah, Congressman, but what about the taxpayers? What about our record deficit and debt? How many future generations will have to pay for a program that may be “popular” but is completely fiscally irresponsible?

Let’s hope the Senate put the breaks on this fast-track funding when it reaches the upper chamber next week.

Cost Efficiency Takes a Back Seat

The State of New Hampshire is preparing to spend nearly $1 million to renovate a largely unused building in Concord as a part of a stimulus initiative to increase energy efficiency among government buildings.

The State has accepted $10.7 million as a part of the Department of Energy's State Energy Program. The renovation of the New Hampshire Hospital building in Concord, estimated to cost approximately $900,000, is the top ticket item, according to a report in today's Concord Monitor.

Unfortunately, only 20% of the building is in use by state employees and, as has become a running theme with the stimulus projects, no one knows how many jobs the project will generate:
Though the old New Hampshire Hospital building in Concord has sat largely empty for decades, much of the building - 215,000 square feet - is heated through the winter. Only about 20 percent of that space is used for state offices. The heating system in the 1842 building operates with an all-or-nothing approach.

Until this week, the state hasn't had the money to fix the problem, but state officials have now formally accepted $10.7 million in stimulus money to improve energy efficiency at state buildings. Adding heating zones to the old hospital building, at a cost of about $900,000, is among the top-ticket items on a preliminary list of changes to be made at 75 state buildings. …

[T]he $10.7 million plan could reduce energy use in state buildings by about 1 percent. Money set aside to train building managers could increase that.

"We've been struggling to stay even," Downes said. "If we can actually reduce (usage) by 1 percent, that's making progress."

Downes said it's hard to say how many jobs the projects could create, though the state will be tracking that as the work moves forward. Administrative Services has hired three people to help run the program and will put out requests for proposals on various projects soon.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ranking the State Stimulus Websites

Good Jobs First, a grassroots policy resource center, has published a report grading each state’s stimulus website.

“Many states are failing to support President Obama’s vow that the Recovery Act will be carried out with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability,” said Good Jobs First executive director Greg LeRoy. “By failing to use broadly available web tools, they are making it more difficult to measure the success of ARRA in mitigating the effects of the recession.”

According to the report, the five states doing the best job conveying general information through their websites are:

1. Maryland
2. Colorado
3. Washington
4. West Virginia
5. New York

And the five worst are:

50. Utah
50. Illinois
47. Alabama
47. Kansas
47. Kentucky

Comparably, New Hampshire ranks quite well, tied for 13th. However, that rank is somewhat deceiving as the state only scored 38 out of a possible 100 points – meaning there is clearly some room for improvement.

You can read the full study here, or simply check out New Hampshire’s scores here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"0.006% of the Estimated Federal Deficit"

Following up on last month's Presidential directive that all cabinet level agencies look for ways to trim a whopping $100 million from the federal government's nearly $3 trillion budget, the Wall Street Journal today publishes an interesting look at exactly what the various agencies are cutting to reach this goal:
The Forest Service will no longer repaint its new, white vehicles green immediately upon purchase. The Army will start packing more soldiers onto R&R flights. The Navy will delete unused email accounts. ...

The Justice Department estimates it can save $573,000 through fiscal 2010 by setting up its printers and copiers to use both sides of the paper. By emailing some documents instead of printing them out, the Department of Homeland Security will save $318,000. ...

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is going to save $3.8 million by refurbishing and reusing or selling its emergency trailers -- like the ones provided to people displaced by hurricanes -- instead of ditching them.

Only one cabinet office proposed actually eliminating a program. The Department of Labor says it will disband the nearly 40-year-old Employment Standards Administration. With it goes an assistant secretary of labor, two deputy assistants and an administrative office.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Debt Mobile

The Political Math folks, now famous for their videos regarding the stimulus, presidential budget cuts, and the impact of nationalized health care, have a new short out comparing the speed at which past President's have increased the national debt. Enjoy (or be concerned):

Monday, July 27, 2009

$2 Million for 4 Buses

The Union Leader takes a swipe at the stimulus-funded purchase of 4 NH to Boston commuter buses:
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Friday that it is sending $2 million in stimulus money to the state DOT to buy four buses. The buses will be owned by the state. Boston Express will use one pair, and C&J Trailways will use the other -- all for free. C&J co-owns Boston Express with Concord Coach.

"These funds are creating jobs now while investing in the future of our transit systems," Administrator Peter Rogoff of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) said in Friday's news release. "The public's demand for transit service continues to grow, and these dollars will help meet that need."

That sounds nice. But it isn't true.

Two of the buses will replace C&J buses currently in service on I-95. C&J President Jim Jalbert confirmed to us in an interview Friday that his company would make no new hires in relation to receiving those buses.

The other two buses will be used by Boston Express to add new service. The number of new jobs created? "As many as four or five," Jalbert said. They will all be bus drivers.

Two million dollars to create "four or five" bus-driver jobs? That's as much as $500,000 per job.

Biden's NYT Op-Ed

Vice-President Biden used an op-ed in Sunday’s New York Times to detail, “What You May Not Know About the Recovery.” His premise:
Notwithstanding this progress, the nature of the Recovery Act remains misunderstood by many, and misconstrued by others: critics have suggested that the entire $787 billion is being spent on pet programs. As the person leading the administration’s efforts to put the Recovery Act into effect, I want to set the record straight.
As expected, the piece was not much more than fluff in favor of the stimulus. Explaining away the things that haven’t quite worked out so well and hyping up the few anecdotal positive results.

As example of the former, from Mike Allen’s Sunday Playbook:
SHOT -- THE VICE PRESIDENT TODAY: '[T]he act was intended to provide steady support for our economy over an extended period - not a jolt that would last only a few months.'

CHASER 1-- THE VICE PRESIDENT in March: 'The Recovery Act, as we call it, provides a necessary jolt to our economy.'

CHASER 2 -- PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA in November: '[W]e have a consensus, which is pretty rare, between conservative economists and liberal economists, that we need a big stimulus package that will jolt the economy back into shape.'

CHASER 3 -- PRESIDENT OBAMA, at his first press conference: '[W]ith the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back to life.'

Friday, July 24, 2009

Stimulus Jobs - Some Good News, Though Still Mostly Bad

The New Hampshire Business Review is reporting that DOT stimulus funds have thus far financed the equivalent of 234 full time jobs - up from the dismal numbers reported earlier this month:
The $96 million in federal stimulus contracts approved by the state Department of Transportation through June has thus far resulted in the equivalent of 234 full-time jobs during that time frame, according to the latest figures from the agency.
Even still, New Hampshire's unemployment rate continues to ease higher, the Union Leader reports:
Although only 3,250 people joined the New Hampshire unemployment ranks in June, keeping the state's unemployment the lowest in New England and nearly three percentage points below the national average, eight out of the state's 10 counties saw an increase during the month as summer job cutbacks took effect.

The June statewide unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted at 6.8 percent, up from 6.4 percent in April and May, was well below the national adjusted rate of 9.5 percent, according to the New Hampshire Employment Security, Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau.

Nationally, the Heritage Foundation has put together a great graph showing the jobs deficit since passage of the stimulus bill:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

"What will it be for you?"

State Reps.
Well, where do we go from here? We could probably encourage you to "write your representative" and give them a piece of your mind, but we all know that would realistically not work. As Republicans we could politically attack the opposition, but we would not feel right because we know as individuals they are good and honest people (oh, by the way, so are we). So what is left? Just you, the voter, and how you want your state to be run. Are you generally satisfied with the budget process as you know it or are you concerned? You have the power to maintain the status quo or make changes with your vote at election time. What will it be for you?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pork Barrel Spending – Literally

An ironic bit of pork spending out of the stimulus, from Hannity:
Porkfest!

Your tax dollars are being used to buy a lot of pork and I mean literally! The government's Recovery.gov Web site reports that the stimulus money has been dolled out for the following:

• $2.5 million to Los Angeles for "ham, water added, cooked, frozen and sliced"

• Another $1.1 million to L.A. for "two pounds frozen ham, sliced"

• $16.7 million to Minnesota for "canned pork"

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was quick to defend the ham purchases, saying that all that ham is going to food banks and soup kitchens: "The references to two-pound frozen ham sliced are the sizes of the packaging... In fact the contract in question purchased 760,000 pounds of ham for $1.19 million at a cost of approximately $1.50 per pound."

By the way, Tom, the ham you've been paying $1.50 for actually costs 79 cents in most grocery stores. Thanks for being so careful with our stimulus money.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Stuck in the Mud?

The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes discusses the seemingly stalling Obama agenda in today’s Wall Street Journal.

While most writing on this particular subject place the blame on the Administration trying to do too much at once, Barnes sees the root cause as the Chicago style politics being used to advance the agenda:
Their high-pressure tactics in promoting and passing legislation, most notably the economic "stimulus" enacted in February, have backfired. Those tactics include unbridled partisanship, procedural short cuts, demands for swift passage of bills, and promises of quick results. …

That makes them accountable for the hopes of a prompt economic recovery now being dashed. With the economy still faltering and jobs still being lost, Mr. Obama's credibility is sinking and his job approval rating is declining along with the popularity of his initiatives. Republicans, who had insisted the stimulus was wasteful and wouldn't work, are being vindicated.

The political fallout that mattered most, however, has been among Democrats in the House who will face tough re-election fights next year. They're in a state of near-panic over the lingering recession. Their confidence in Mr. Obama is fading, and they no longer believe in quickly passing the president's agenda. Cap and trade has been put off until the fall and health-care reform is starting to stall. ...

Mr. Obama's health-care and energy initiatives, the core of his far-reaching agenda, were bound to face serious opposition in Congress in any case. Hardball tactics and false promises have only made the hill he has to climb steeper. Now he may lose on both. The president and his congressional allies should have known better.

Obama’s Marks Continue to Drop

A new Washington Post – ABC News poll released today shows that President Obama has dropped below 60 percent approval rating for the first time in his Presidency. This represents a drop of six percentage points in only a month.

Most concerning for the President and Congressional Democrats though is that Obama’s approval numbers on a couple hot button agenda items. For example:
  • “Since April, approval of Obama's handling of health care has dropped from 57 percent to 49 percent, with disapproval rising from 29 percent to 44 percent.”

  • “Obama's approval rating on his handling of the deficit is down to 43 percent, as independents now tilt toward disapproval (42 percent approve; 48 percent disapprove).”

  • “Approval of Obama's handling of the overall economy stands at 52 percent, with 46 percent disapproving, and, for the first time in his presidency, more Americans strongly disapprove of his performance on the economy than strongly approve. Last month, 56 percent gave him positive marks on this issue.”

"The Squandered Stimulus"

The Washington Post this morning provides a scathing review of the politics and failures of Obama's stimulus package. The whole story is worth a read, but here is the quick synopsis:
A $14 trillion economy won't revive in a nanosecond. But the defects of the $787 billion package go deeper and won't be cured by time. The program crafted by Obama and the Democratic Congress wasn't engineered to maximize its economic impact. It was mostly a political exercise, designed to claim credit for any recovery, shower benefits on favored constituencies and signal support for fashionable causes. ...

On humanitarian grounds, hardly anyone should object to parts of the stimulus package: longer and (slightly) higher unemployment benefits; subsidies for job losers to extend their health insurance; expanded food stamps. Obama was politically obligated to enact a campaign proposal providing tax cuts to most workers -- up to $400 for individuals and $800 for married couples. But beyond these basics, the stimulus plan became an orgy of politically appealing spending increases and tax breaks. ...

There are growing demands for another Obama "stimulus" on the grounds that the first was too small. Wrong. The problem with the first stimulus was more its composition than its size. With budget deficits for 2009 and 2010 estimated by the CBO at $1.8 trillion and $1.4 trillion (respectively, 13 and 9.9 percent of gross domestic product), it's hard to argue they're too tiny. Obama and congressional Democrats sacrificed real economic stimulus to promote parochial political interests. Any new "stimulus" should be financed by culling some of the old.

Here, as elsewhere, there's a gap between Obama's high-minded rhetoric and his performance. In February, Obama denounced "politics as usual" in constructing the stimulus. But that's what we got, and Obama likes the result. Interviewed recently by ABC's Jake Tapper, he was asked whether he would change anything. Obama seemed to invoke a doctrine of presidential infallibility. "There's nothing that we would have done differently," he said.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Following Their Own Rules?

Recent reports have questioned whether or not the stimulus is actually creating jobs more than 5 months into the program. An AP story this morning also questions if the monies are being sent to the communities that need it the most:
Under the Obama administration's economic stimulus plan, needy communities were supposed to be a priority when doling out money to rebuild highways and jump-start the economy.

It hasn't worked out that way.

The rules required that states give priority to counties considered "economically distressed." Yet less than half the federal highway money announced so far is directed toward those high-unemployment, low-income areas, according to an Associated Press analysis of more than $16 billion in spending announced by the U.S. Transportation Department.

What was supposed to be a way to steer money to hard-hit areas has turned into a coin flip: 53 percent of the money is going to counties that don't meet the federal standard of economically distressed areas. Those are places where lasting unemployment is higher than the national average or where income is significantly lower than the rest of the country.

Friday, July 17, 2009

NHBR Continues the Drum Beat

The New Hampshire Business Review today joined the chorus of groups and individuals asking, where are the jobs:
The New Hampshire Department of Transportation let out a total of $96 million in economic stimulus contracts as of June 30. So how many full-time jobs does it have to show for it so far? At this point, nobody really knows. And no one is expected to know for a long time.
In fact, the NHBR provides an interesting look at both sides of the debate, and actually doubles the estimated stimulus employment figures – from the 34 reported by the Union Leader earlier this week.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

$700,000 for SSA Conference!?

While President Obama may not want businesses who have received taxpayer bailouts to “take a trip to Las Vegas or down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers' dime,” he apparently doesn’t seem to be as concerned when government agencies funded exclusively by taxpayer money do that same.

An Arizona ABC News affiliate is reporting:
A Social Security Administration motivational management conference held at a high-end Valley resort last week cost $700,000, the SSA told the ABC15 Investigators.

Costs for the conference at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa included airfare, hotel entertainment, dancers, motivational speakers, and food, an administration official said. …

A spokesperson from the SSA's regional office said the conference was essential, that teleconferencing was not an option, and that all 675 managers needed to meet in person.
As a reminder – the Social Security Trustee’s Report stated in May that by 2017, just 8 years from now, Social Security expenditures will begin exceeding income, meaning the program will become insolvent.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Administration Bullying States on Stimulus Funds

It seems Arizona’s Junior Senator Jon Kyl has stirred up a hornet’s nest at the White House after calling on the Administration to cancel the remainder of the failed stimulus package.

Following the publication of Kyl’s comments, the White House, likely led by Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, directed four cabinet secretaries to publicly write to Arizona’s governor outlining the funds they would “lose” if Kyl got his way.

Of course, the Secretaries don’t mention this is already the taxpayer’s money and allowing the government to funnel it back to them though a failed program isn’t much different than losing it.

In response, Kyl accused the Administration of, "coordinated political attacks with the Democratic National Committee and the politicization of departments of government by using cabinet secretaries to issue thinly veiled threats to the governor and the people of Arizona."

Obama’s campaign rival John McCain also jumped into the fray saying, I strongly support the comments of Senator Kyl and call on the administration to retract its threat against the citizens of Arizona."

Will be interesting to see how this one plays out and if the Administration attempts similar Chicago-style attacks on other “dissenting” states or elected officials.

Fred at the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers Picnic

STEWARD Founder Fred Tausch spoke at last weekend's Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers Picnic in Hillsborough. About 150 concerned taxpayers turned out for a great event.

video

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

$1 Trillion

The AP reports:
The federal deficit has topped $1 trillion for the first time ever and could grow to nearly $2 trillion by this fall, intensifying fears about higher interest rates, inflation and the strength of the dollar.

The deficit has been widened by the huge sum the government has spent to ease the recession, combined with a sharp decline in tax revenues. The cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also is a major factor.
Fox News asks, “What does $1 trillion deficit mean to you?

The bottom line? “Every single tax you that could imagine, you will see a hike in.

No Way to Measure Stimulus Jobs

After news that the stimulus had only created 34 jobs in New Hampshire, despite over $400 million being spent on the effort, the Obama Administration is continuing to downplay the job creation potential of the stimulus bill – now saying there is no way to know how many jobs will be created.

video

To summarize, CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo asks Dr. Romer, “Is there anyway, then, to measure that statement, save or create 3 million jobs?”

In response, Dr. Romer dodges the question for about a minute before concluding, "We are going to have to wait and see.”

Well, that's comforting...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Failure

The Union Leader reports this morning on what can only be described as the failure of the stimulus package in the Granite State:

The Office of Legislative Budget Assistant reported last week that $413.6 million made its way to the state under a list of programs that involve education, highways, environmental, health and human services, energy and law enforcement.

Deputy Attorney General Bud Fitch said last week that projections are the state will eventually see between $500 million and $750 million in stimulus funds.

Given the influx of cash with more on the way, one would expect the state would have something to show for it. Think again:

So far, a total of 50 jobs have been created by the funding, 34 of them full time.

In other words, over $400 million has been spent to create 34 full time jobs. This averages to over $12 million per job!

For those still arguing the stimulus hasn't yet had time to work, Karen Hughes, an advisor to former President Bush, quashed that argument on Sunday by quoting some of the folks trying to sell the package back in February:

Let me, let me quote you Larry Summers [Director of the National Economic Council]: "You'll see effects immediately." Christina Romer [Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors]: "We'll start adding jobs rather than losing them." House Majority leader Steny Hoyer: "There will be an immediate jolt. This will begin creating jobs immediately." And instead, we've seen a loss of 2.6 million jobs.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Higher Taxes, Anyone?"

In his Washington Post column today, George Will cautions against Stimulus III and reminds us of the dangers associated with the excessive taxation that will be necessary to finance the massive expansions of government being proposed and implemented by Democrats in Congress and the Obama Administration:
But before embarking on Stimulus III, note that only about 10 percent of Stimulus II has yet been injected into the economy. This is not the administration's fault, the administration's defenders say, because government is cumbersome, sluggish and inefficient. But this sunburst of insight comes as the administration toils to enlarge governmental control of health care, energy, finance, education, etc. The administration guesses that these government projects will do better than the Postal Service (its second-quarter loss, $1.9 billion, was 68 percent of its losses for all of 2008) and the government's railroad (Amtrak has had 38 money-losing years, and this year's losses are on pace to set a record).

Let's guess: Will a person or institution looking for a place to invest $1 billion seek opportunities in the United States, where policy decisions are deliberately increasing taxes, debt, regulations and the cost of energy, and soon will increase the cost of borrowing and hiring? Or will the investor look at, say, India. It is the least urbanized major country -- 70 percent of Indians live in rural areas, 50 percent on farms -- so the modernizing and productivity-enhancing movement from the countryside to the city is in its infancy. This nation of 1.2 billion people has a savings rate of 25 to 30 percent, and fewer than 20 million credit cards. Which nation, India or the United States, is apt to have the higher economic growth over the next decade?

Yet while government diminishes America's comparative advantages, liberals are clamoring for ... higher taxes. Partly because of changes endorsed by presidents from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, approximately 60 percent of taxpayers now pay either no income tax (43 percent) or less than 5 percent of their income. Because one cannot raise significant money by that tax without nicking the middle class, or without bringing millions of people back onto the income tax rolls, attention is turning to a value-added tax.

A VAT is levied at every stage of production. Like the cap-and-trade carbon regime now being constructed, a VAT is a liberal politician's delight: It taxes everything, but opaquely.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Up to $19 Million More for the Stimulus Website

ABC News is reporting the Administration has issued a contract to spend between $9.5 to $18 million stimulus dollars to redesign Recovery.gov, the portal through which taxpayers are supposedly able to monitor the stimulus:
“Recovery.gov 2.0 will use innovative and interactive technologies to help taxpayers see where their dollars are being spent,” James A. Williams, commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, says in a press release announcing the contract awarded to Maryland-based Smartronix Inc. “Armed with easy access to this information, taxpayers can make government more accountable for its decisions.”
The first question these “newly armed” taxpayers should be along the lines of, “How many jobs will this $18 million save or create?”

Healthy Adjustment?

CongressDaily, via RedState, reports that Treasury Secretary Geithner has downgraded the severity of the economic crisis:
Noting the rising unemployment, Geithner said what the economy “is going through is a very necessary and healthy adjustment as [Americans] go back to living within their means.” He added: “We do not have an economy that is growing again.”
Back in February, President Obama warned that not passing his stimulus bill would turn “crisis into catastrophe.” Since then, unemployment has soared to nearly 10 percent, but all we have now in a “healthy adjustment?”

It is doubtful the thousands of Americans who’ve lost their jobs in the Obama era are feeling comforted by the Secretary’s new, rosy outlook.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Stimulus Failure Here in NH

Stories continue to surface across the country of millions of dollars from this supposed “jobs bill” being wasted on projects that will have little if any impact on the nation's rising unemployment.

Today, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports of $3 million dollars being sent to the University of New Hampshire, none of which will be used to create real full time jobs:
Hopes that federal stimulus money would help restore cuts at the University of New Hampshire appear to be dashed after officials announced this week they will get $3 million, but none of the money will be used to rehire employees terminated in June.

UNH dealt with a more than $8 million budget deficit in its fiscal year ending last month by firing and reducing the hours of some workers, cutting operating costs and instituting a salary freeze.

University President Mark Huddleston said during an open budget forum in May that stimulus money could help to alleviate the budget problem, but at the beginning of June more drastic measures were taken.

Although it's possible UNH may yet receive more stimulus money, it's unlikely any of that could be used to rehire employees because most of the grants require the cash to be spent on specific projects.
A call to UNH revealed that this $3 million would likely result in:
  • 11 new part time post-graduate student positions

  • 7 new part time graduate student positions

  • 1 new post-doctoral student position

  • 1 saved research position

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Window Dressing

Democrats in the Senate have proven that President Obama’s proposed budget cuts, which represent his attempts at fiscal sanity, are nothing but smoke and mirrors with no chance of implementation:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), has helped force a series of votes this week exposing splits between the president and Democrats on small but nettlesome questions.

The bus program termination — a very modest initiative by Obama — was blocked 51-47 on Tuesday. A second amendment, initiated by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and co-sponsored by McCain, would have struck millions in earmarks opposed by the president. It failed 60-38 on Wednesday, with just 12 Democrats and Connecticut independent Sen. Joe Lieberman backing Obama from his side of the aisle.

McCain taunted: “The Senate just voted against the president of the United States. There are 60 votes over there,” he said, pointing to the Democratic side of the chamber. “We could not get 51.”
Terminating the bus program alone could have saved taxpayers $12 million a year. Instead, Congressional Democrats continued to choose the politics of spend and borrow, and tax.

Buffet Calling for a Second Stimulus?

As the Democrats' $787 billion dollar giveaway disguised as a stimulus continues to flounder, calls for another spending package to fix the first continue to grow - today with a few words from Warren Buffett:
Buffett, a supporter of President Barack Obama during last year's election campaign, said a second economic stimulus package might be needed. The Obama administration says it does not see a need for a second stimulus yet.

"I think a second one may well be called for. It is not a panacea. A stimulus is the right thing. You hope it doesn't get watered down," he said.

He likened the first $787 billion stimulus package passed by Congress to "half a tablet of Viagra and then having also a bunch of candy mixed in --- it doesn't have really quite the wallop."

Buffett said unemployment had "a ways to go" and he would not be surprised to see it hit 11 percent before it recovers.

"I'm not predicting it but no that would not surprise me," he said of the 11 percent figure.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

NYT Turns on the Stimulus.

When the New York Times criticizes the Democrat’s economic plans it's clear something is wrong:
Last week’s disappointing employment report has raised the question of whether the stimulus package is working. Construction data over the last couple of years supports the view that federal spending would never provide much “stimulus,” in part because it was doomed to be ill-timed and ill-targeted. …

The public sector — especially at the federal level — is not known for its agile and effective responses to market conditions. In authoring the stimulus bill, Congress and the president relied too much on federal spending and too little on the private sector.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Second Stimulus Debate

The Obama Administration can’t seem to figure out if the “stimulus” package is working, or if a second is needed. Just two days after Vice President Biden said the Administration “misread the economy” a White House economic adviser says the February “stimulus” may not be enough. Bloomberg reported:

The U.S. should consider drafting a second stimulus package focusing on infrastructure projects because the $787 billion approved in February was “a bit too small,” said Laura Tyson, an outside adviser to President Barack Obama.

The current plan “will have a positive effect, but the real economy is a sicker patient,” Tyson said in a speech in Singapore today. The package will have a more pronounced impact in the third and fourth quarters, she added, stressing that she was speaking for herself and not the administration.

A New Rasmussen Poll released today says that 68% of Americans think there should be another “stimulus” package, see the video here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Calculate your Cap and Trade Burden

The Tax Foundation has created a handy calculator families across the country can use to calculate the increased tax burden they will face if the Cap and Trade (Tax) proposal being pushed by Congressional Democrats and the Obama Administration becomes law.
The calculator is based upon a study released in March, Tax Foundation Working Paper No. 6, "Who Pays for Climate Policy? New Estimates of the Household Burden and Economic Impact of a U.S. Cap-and-Trade System." The study shows that a cap-and-trade system designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent would place an annual burden of $144.8 billion on American households. The average annual household burden would be $1,218, which would be approximately 2% of the average household income.

Although carbon emission permits under a cap-and-trade system would be purchased first by energy companies, the costs are ultimately paid by American consumers. The calculator asks how much a household's combined monthly income is (pre-tax) and how much a household spends monthly on various items like electricity, natural gas, food, clothing and transportation. It then calculates the total annual additional cost that cap-and-trade would impose on that household as well as the cap-and-trade burden as a percentage of income.
Calculate your burden here, then contact your Representatives in Congress and tell them to oppose this tax increase.

Biden: We misread the economy

Vice-President Biden is again making news following his appearance on this weekend’s Sunday talk shows.

The nation’s top stimulus official admitted to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that the administration, “misread how bad the economy was” as it worked to pass the massive stimulus package designed to keep unemployment below 8 percent. (You can watch the Vice President's full interview here.)

With the jobless rate now at 9.5 percent, the administration appears to be fending off calls for more stimulus spending, the Wall Street Journal reports:
Some economists are pressing the White House to enact a second round of stimulus spending or find some other way to avert a prolonged job and wage slump. But the White House is in a tough spot. Officials want to give the $787 billion stimulus package passed in February time to work -- only 10% of the spending is out the door so far -- and there is little appetite in Congress, particularly among Republicans, for spending more money at a time of record deficits. …

White House economists are discussing whether a second round of stimulus is needed, but a decision isn't expected until at least the fall. "We remain focused on putting thousands of Americans back to work" through implementation of the February stimulus act, an administration official said Sunday. "Any discussion of a second stimulus is premature at this point."

Friday, July 3, 2009

Financial Times Takes a Sobering Look at New Numbers

In less than a year and a half the unemployment rate has almost doubled in the United States, from 4.8% 16 months ago to 9.5% today. The Financial Times warns that these rising numbers signal a more lengthy and difficult recovery than many have anticipated and that policy makers must take into account the fiscal reality of a prolonged downturn:
They will have to recalibrate fiscal and monetary stimulus to recognize the fact that “temporary and targeted” stimulus will be less potent than anticipated. But the inclination to increase the dose of stimulus will be tempered by the fact that, as the fiscal picture deteriorates rapidly, the economy is less able to rely on future growth to counter the risk of a debt trap.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Democratic Leadership Buying Votes with Taxpayer Money?

The Washington Times reports that in order to convince Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptu of Ohio to support last week’s energy bill, they included a $3.5 billion pork project for her home district as a part of the “3AM amendment:”
They gave her what she wanted - a new federal power authority, similar to Washington state's Bonneville Power Administration, stocked with up to $3.5 billion in taxpayer money available for lending to renewable energy and economic development projects in Ohio and other Midwestern states.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, included the Kaptur project in a 310-page amendment to the legislation unveiled at 3 a.m. Friday, just hours before the bill was to be debated on the House floor. The amendment was packed with other vote-getting provisions, both large and small, that had been sought by dozens of wavering Democrats.
So not only is the underlying substance of the bill going to cost taxpayers over $20 billion a year – it now appears that special interest giveaways will further ratchet up the costs.

9.5 Percent

As unemployment continues to inch towards 10 percent, the Drudge Report sums up well the growing consensus with regards to President Obama’s economic recovery package:



Bloomberg reports
:
Employers in the U.S. cut 467,000 jobs in June, the unemployment rate rose and hourly earnings stagnated, offering little evidence the Obama administration’s stimulus package is shoring up the labor market.

The payroll decline was more than forecast and followed a 322,000 drop in May, according to Labor Department figures released today in Washington. The jobless rate jumped to 9.5 percent, the highest since August 1983, from 9.4 percent.

Unemployment is projected to keep rising for the rest of the year just as the income boost from the stimulus package fades, undermining prospects for a sustained rebound in household purchases, analysts said. As companies from General Motors Corp. to Kimberly-Clark Corp. cut costs, the lack of jobs will restrain growth.

“This will be another jobless recovery,” said John Silvia, chief economist at Wachovia Corp. in Charlotte, North Carolina. “We may get positive economic growth driven largely by federal spending, but people on the street will say, ‘Where are the jobs?’”

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wall Street Journal Highlights Stimulus Failures

The Wall Street Journal ran two stores detailing the continued failures of the stimulus legislation.

First, the Journal provides another report of needy communities being passed over for stimulus bucks:
Some of the states worst hit by the recession are getting far less federal economic-stimulus money per person than states faring better.

Nevada, where unemployment stood at about 10% when the plan was passed, is getting $541 for each resident from the stimulus money allocated so far, a Wall Street Journal analysis found. Wyoming, where the 3.9% jobless rate was the lowest in the country in February, is getting $1,074 per person. …

Per-capita funding figures, of course, don't give a full picture, and the Obama administration says the stimulus was always as much about investments in infrastructure as it was about targeting short-term unemployment. Still, the results leave some cash-strapped states feeling shortchanged.
To illustrate their point, the WSJ offers a comprehensive, interactive map that allows readers to compare state-by-state totals throughout multiple sectors.

Second, despite the speed with which the Administration would like to see the funds distributed, major companies around the country are expressing concerns and shying away from seeking funds because of the bureaucratic, big government strings that would be attached:
Obama administration officials will announce rules Wednesday for handing out $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus funds, but some companies already are raising concerns about how long it could take to award the money. …

None of the U.S.'s largest broadband Internet providers -- including Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T Corp. and Comcast Corp. -- have expressed interest in applying for broadband-stimulus funds. They're concerned about the bureaucratic hoop-jumping needed to win the money and restrictions that may be applied to lines built with taxpayer dollars. …

Confusion about the grant rules has prompted some smaller telecommunications companies to hold off on purchases of Internet-networking equipment on concerns it could hurt their chances of getting stimulus funds.

"We refer to it as 'stimulus chill,' " said Gary Bolton, vice president of global marketing for Adtran Inc., a maker of networking and communications equipment.

Fred's Union Leader Op-Ed

STEWARD Founder Fred Tausch wrote an op-ed for today’s Union Leader entitled, "We Must Push to Bring Fiscal Responsibility to Washington."

In it, Fred laments the big government culture running rampant in Washington, D.C., creating what he sees as a “government with little accountability and less transparency; a government that tries to do things it was not intended to do and has no idea how to do.”

He goes on to explain that it was these frustrations that led him to create STEWARD, writing:
I started Steward of Prosperity to identify, motivate and mobilize other fiscal conservatives, Republicans, responsible Democrats and independents disappointed by the Obama administration’s spending excesses. Our goal is to make the government heed to the common sense of the American people, serve our interests, share our values, and keep this county the same land of opportunity for our children that it was for us.