Friday, June 04, 2010

Sestak: A feeble coverup that no-one believes

The lies of the coverup are at least as bad as the corruption that is being covered up

(The bottom half of the cartoon is a reference to Richard Nixon)

Last Friday, after months of silence regarding a potential White House job offer for Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., if he did not run in the Pennsylvania Senate primary against Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., White House Counsel Robert F. Bauer released a memo addressing the events.

Titled, "Review of Discussions Relating to Congressman Sestak," the memo noted the "White House staff did not discuss these options with Congressman Sestak. The White House Chief of Staff enlisted the support of former President Clinton, who agreed to raise with Congressman Sestak options of service on a Presidential or other Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board. Congressman Sestak declined the suggested alternatives, remaining committed to his Senate Candidacy."

The short version: We did nothing wrong, we asked the former president to help, and the job offered would have been unpaid. The underlying message, "Trust us, we are transparent."

This past weekend, on "Fox News Sunday," Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., called for a federal investigation. "They're now talking about a job that President Clinton himself should have known Sestak couldn't take," he said. "It's the reason the FBI needs to investigate this. An independent -- independent from me, independent from the president -- needs to investigate and get to the bottom of this and -- so we can all move on."



Another clumsy White House bribe

In a possible repeat of the Joe Sestak episode in Pennsylvania, insurgent U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff of Colorado said deputy White House chief of staff Jim Messina reached out to him — with a wince-inducing e-mail that is now public — with three possible jobs in September 2009. Obama wanted to keep him out of a race against Sen. Michael Bennet, the White House’s favored candidate.

Taken together, the Sestak and Romanoff cases suggest a White House team that is one part Dick Daley, one part Barney Fife.

They undercut Obama’s reputation on two fronts. Trying to put the fix in to deny Democratic voters the chance to choose for themselves who their Senate nominees should be is hardly consistent with the idea of “Yes, we can” grass-roots empowerment that is central to Obama’s brand.

And bungling that fix is at odds with the Obama team’s image — built around the likes of Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, David Plouffe and Obama himself — as shrewd political operatives who know the game and always win it.

More here


Free accommodation for loan defaulters

Stay in your home for up to two years without paying either your mortgage or rent -- mostly at the ultimate expense of Fannie and Freddie -- who then get bailed out by the taxpayer

David Streitfeld has a great NYT piece on the way in which jingle mail, or strategic default, seems to be reaching its logical conclusion. Right now, about 24% of all mortgaged properties are underwater. And if you’re being foreclosed upon now, you probably defaulted 438 days ago. In New York, that figure is 561 days.

What’s more, the “limbo” period between default and foreclosure is growing fast: it has risen from 251 days in January 2008. Doing the math, that means that the average amount of time in limbo is growing by 1 days roughly every 4.4 days. Which means that if you default today, then you probably won’t get foreclosed upon until about 567 days from now — or roughly Christmas 2011. That’s 19 months, give or take, without having to make any mortgage payments at all. And if it turns out that your mortgage is one of the millions whose documentation is so screwed up that the loan servicer can’t prove you actually owe them any money at all, then there’s really no end to the amount of time you can sit in your house rent- and mortgage-free.

This turns out to be a great business for opportunistic lawyers, who can gross over half a million dollars a year just by spending a few hours per client stringing the mortgage companies along:



Big drop in Employer Health Coverage coming

And the taxpayer will be on the hook

The President repeatedly promised that if you liked your health plan, you would be able to keep it. Nothing would change. Fat chance.

In fact, millions of Americans of Americans will lose or be transitioned out of their existing employer based health insurance. The official Actuary at HHS- who doesn’t speak for the Administration- said it would be 14 million. But a new report by former Director of the Congressional Budget Office Douglas Holtz-Eakin predicts it could be as high as 35 million. That kind of disruption comes at a high price: It’ll cost taxpayers nearly $1 trillion more than previously estimated.

Why? Because Obamacare calls for lavish subsidies to help low- and middle-income Americans buy health insurance. Indeed, households earning up to four times the federal poverty level are eligible for subsidies. According to 2008 Census data, some 127 million Americans would qualify. Yet the official CBO analysis of Obamacare estimated only 19 million would get subsidies.

Why did CBO think the other 108 eligibles wouldn’t ask for “free” federal money? Because Congress added a “firewall” provision: You can’t get a subsidy unless you have no employer-sponsored coverage, or your contribution toward employer-based coverage exceeds 9.8 percent of your income.

But this firewall is flimsy. The inducement Obamacare gives employers to keep providing generous health coverage is the threat of slapping them with a $2,000 per employee penalty if they drop coverage.

The new study by Holtz-Eakin, now president of the American Action Forum, and his colleague Cameron Smith demonstrates just how ineffective this penalty will be. It presents the example of an insured low-income worker earning one-third more than the federal poverty level. The employer could drop that worker’s coverage, give him a raise, pay the penalty and still save money. Meanwhile, the worker could pocket the raise and the Obamacare subsidy, buy his own coverage and be none the worse for wear.

As Holtz-Eakin and Smith put it, “There is room for the employer to actually improve the worker’s life by having a small pay raise and the same insurance and still save money.” For a health plan worth $15,921, the employee would get a bonus of $128 to keep the same health plan in the exchange, and the employer would save $9,941, even after paying the penalty.

In theory, everyone “wins”. Sort of. The employer gets to dump expensive federally mandated health coverage, and the employee, who may have liked that coverage, still gets a pay raise. The only big loser is the employer and employee who happens to be a taxpayer. The feds will have to dole out subsidies to even middle class families whose employers drop coverage due to the programs perverse incentives. After crunching the numbers, Holtz-Eakin and Smith concluded that as many as 35 million could lose employer-sponsored coverage, bringing the price tag of the subsidies from a” measly” $450 billion to about $1.4 trillion. Have a nice day.



Crack Reporting

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

Dear Editor:

Suppose Uncle Sam orders you to raise by 41 percent the price you charge for subscriptions to your newspaper. Would you be surprised to find a subsequent fall in the number of subscribers? If you assigned a reporter to investigate the reasons for this decline in subscriptions, would you be impressed if that reporter files a story offering several possible explanations for the fall in subscriptions without, however, once mentioning the mandated 41 percent price hike?

Unless you answered “yes” to this last question, I wonder why you published Mickey Meece’s report on today’s record high teenage unemployment rate (“Job Outlook for Teenagers Worsens,” June 1). Between 2007 and 2009, Uncle Sam ordered teenage workers (who are mostly unskilled) to raise the price they charge for their labor services by 41 percent. (That is, the federal minimum-wage rose from $5.15 per hour in 2007 to its current level of $7.25 in 2009 – a 41 percent increase.)

Does it not strike you as more than passing strange for your reporter – assigned to help explain why teenagers today have an increasingly difficult time finding jobs – to ignore the fact that these teenagers are ordered by government to raise significantly the wages that they charge their employers?




There is a new site here devoted to collating all the facts about the blockade-busting flotilla that was recently arrested on its way to Gaza.

How socialized medicine harms veterans: "The VA system rarely gets mentioned in the health care debate, which is surprising: it is a homegrown demonstration of how socialized medicine works in the real world. As with the British National Health Service, the U.S. government owns all of the hospitals, and pays for all of the health care, for qualified military personnel. The resultant problems are easy to predict.”

FTC to "Reinvent" Journalism: "The nation needs a strong, independent press, the FTC argues, and so they want to find ways for government to "reinvent" journalism. If that sounds vaguely Orwellian to you, the actual language in the Federal Trade Commission's discussion-points memo should have hairs standing on the backs of necks across the nation. It shows a wildly laughable rationale for government intervention that would prop up the failing newspaper model in a manner that would put the entire industry at the mercy of the federal bureaucracy it's supposed to keep in check."

Did Hoover really slash spending?: "Follow me here, because this is an important point: In the long block quotation above, Krugman and Wells argue that the reason we went into a Great Depression in the 1930s, whereas we merely suffered a Great Recession in our own times, is that the fool politicians back then slashed government spending while the fool central bankers hiked interest rates. In contrast, our enlightened politicians (at least the Democratic ones) and Ben Bernanke had the wisdom to run massive budget deficits and to slash interest rates. That’s why unemployment zoomed to 25% in the 1930s but has yet to break 10% in our time. Now for this story to make any sense, it must be the case that Hoover ’slashed spending,’ while the Fed hiked interest rates, within the first 20 months of the Great Depression. Do you see why?”

"Progressive" Theodore Roosevelt and the modern presidency: “Presidential scholar Edward Corwin has spoken of the ‘personalization of the presidency,’ by which he means that the accident of personality has played a considerable role in shaping the office. And indeed it is hard to think of a stronger personality than that of Theodore Roosevelt who ever served as president. One presidential scholar observed that Roosevelt gave the office ‘the absorbing drama of a Western movie.’ And no wonder. Mark Twain, who met with the president twice, declared him ‘clearly insane.’ In a way, Roosevelt set the tone for his public life to come at age 20, when, after an argument with his girlfriend, he went home and shot and killed his neighbor’s dog. He told a friend in 1884 that when he donned his special cowboy suit, which featured revolver and rifle, ‘I feel able to face anything.’ When he killed his first buffalo, he ‘abandoned himself to complete hysteria,’ as historian Edmund Morris put it, ‘whooping and shrieking while his guide watched in stolid amazement.’ His reaction was similar in 1898 when he killed his first Spaniard." [More on TR here]


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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