November 7, 2010
With the House of Representatives soon to be under Republican control, the government will be divided. The two parties, divergent as they are on ideological grounds, will likely not compromise on much. Such leads to a situation often derided as “gridlock.”
Those on the left, right and in the middle opposed to such gridlock say it is not good for our country. They argue that it means nothing will get done. But given the amount of things done over the years that have added to our massive debt, there may be something to be said for government not doing anything.
Republicans may argue that this gridlock is not acceptable. Their argument is that they must gain the Senate and the presidency in 2012. Then, they can go through with their agenda. It’s an agenda they claim, as they have done before with no significant results, will mean an end to wasteful government spending and a reduction in both the size of our government and its debt. But many of those same Republicans, when asked over the last week since the elections, have been hard pressed to spell out what they specifically would cut to make a significant dent in the debt. All too often they have resorted to the old “cut discretionary spending” mantra. The problem with that is, discretionary spending only makes up a small portion of overall federal spending.
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October 6, 2010
John Stossel’s latest column from today covers much of the same issues that I blogged about last week. The column, titled “Congress Can’t Repeal Economics,” laments the fact that the new health-care ‘reform’ law attempts to ignore the basic realities of economics, leading to perhaps unintended, but predictable, consequences.
Here is an excerpt:
When Obamacare was debated, we free-market advocates insisted that no matter what the president promised, the laws of economics cannot be repealed. Our opponents in effect answered, “Yes, we can.” Well, Obamacare has barely started taking effect, and the evidence is already rolling in. I hate to say we told them so, but … we told them so. The laws of economics have struck back.
Read the column here.
September 28, 2010
Politicians are experts at ignoring economics. One of their favorite activities is to mandate price and service requirements from private companies and just expect that, like magic, all will be fixed. They seldom acknowledge the perhaps unintended, but yet inevitable, consequences of their wishful mandating.
The most pertinent example is the list of nice-sounding mandates on insurance carriers included in the new health-care ‘reform’ law. Many of them took effect this week.
The list includes, among others, the following requirements:
- Insurers can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions
- Insurers can no longer put lifetime caps on benefits
- Preventive services are now free
- Kids can stay on a their parents’ plan until 26
All of these, of course, will add to the overall costs of insurance policies. There is a difference between “price” (how much is directly charged a consumer for a service) and “cost” (the amount of money required to provide the service).
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September 7, 2010
Thomas Sowell’s latest column points out a fact that is often lost on people who, quite frankly, do not understand the structure of the U.S. government. That fact is that spending levels are almost always the fault of the Congress, not the president.
He notes this to debunk the popular myth that our spending woes are largely the fault of the previous administration:
The party line that we are likely to be hearing from now until the November elections is that Obama “inherited” the big federal budget deficits and that he has to “clean up the mess” left in the economy by the Republicans. This may convince those who want to be convinced, but it will not stand up under scrutiny. No President of the United States can create either a budget deficit or a budget surplus. All spending bills originate in the House of Representatives and all taxes are voted into law by Congress.
Sowell goes on to note that Democrats controlled Congress before Obama was sworn in as president and Obama was a member of that Congress in that time period. He also points out that Republicans controlled the House of Representatives during the period in which former President Clinton was given credit for a budget surplus.
All of this is not to say that Republicans are guiltless — far from it. These simple facts do, however, put things into perspective — particularly in light of the constant harping from the current administration seeking to blame everything on their predecessors. The success of their attempts at blame is reliant upon the ignorance of voters to how our government functions.
August 31, 2010
Here’s a great new video from Reason.tv on the extents to which Congress has stretched the scope of the commerce clause in the U.S. Constitution over the years in order to justify its regulation of just about everything:
August 26, 2010
With the recent court order blocking certain expanded federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research (expanded last year by President Obama), comes inevitable criticism from those who warn of stifling ‘scientific progress.’ But such attempts typically rely on a rationale justifying the means by the ends.
Take for example a recent USA Today article noting how the head of the National Institutes of Health was “stunned” by the ruling:
“I was stunned, as was virtually everyone here at NIH,” agency director Francis Collins said. … “Stem cell research offers true potential for scientific discovery, and hope for families. This decision has just poured sand into that engine of discovery.”
Not mentioned in the article was the obvious fact that these scientists have a vested monetary and career interest in seeing federal funding continue. The report noted that the ruling would halt 143 grants worth $95 million and 22 grants totaling $54 million.
[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=stem+cell+research+funding&iid=4202180″ src=”http://view4.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/4202180/obama-signs-order-for-full/obama-signs-order-for-full.jpg?size=500&imageId=4202180″ width=”234″ height=”156″ /]What this order, in reality, does is stop an unethical and unconstitutional use of federal taxpayer money. The ruling was based on the fact that such extended funding necessarily goes against a ban on using taxpayer money to fund the destruction of embryos. And though the Constitution gives power to Congress to “promote the Progress of Science,” it limits this promotion to “securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” It doesn’t authorize the federal government to subsidize questionable research.
Even leaving aside the ethical and constitutional reasons for blocking this funding, a side benefit of this injunction is to freeze one area of federal spending. That alone is a desirable outcome given our mounting debt.
June 16, 2010
Spending is something politicians in Washington rarely grow tired of, despite any amount of soaring debt. Perhaps that explains President Obama’s recent push in a letter to congressional leaders to appropriate more money (the government doesn’t have) to go toward preventing supposed “massive layoffs of teachers, police and firefighters.”
The president’s use of the word “emergency” to characterize the need for these “additional measures to spur job creation” is the typical rallying cry of all government intervention. That job creation, however appears to be mostly in government — much to the detriment of the majority of taxpayers working in the private sector.
[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=obama+economy&iid=9030727″ src=”http://view.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9030727/president-obama-speaks-the/president-obama-speaks-the.jpg?size=500&imageId=9030727″ width=”234″ height=”149″ /]Though Obama urged the expansion of small-business loans and tax credits, he was also concerned about the effect of the economic downturn on state and local government employment. He even used as part of his argument for increased funding to public employment the costs that would be needed to help those axed government employees look for work, seemingly justifying a larger expense (the cost of full employment) by warning of a lesser expense (the cost of helping those former government employees find future employment).
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