Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Democrat Presidential candidate debate: The ignored financial elephant

There have of course been innumerable blogospheric comments on the debate but I thought that the following comment on the financial implications made some rather overlooked but central points. I think it does highlight the usual Leftist assumption that money grows on trees

Three points about last night's Democratic debate in Manchester, N.H.:

1) Imagine a Democratic presidential debate about foreign policy where Iraq was never mentioned. That was pretty much the case at last night's candidate face-off when it came to domestic policy. Little was said about the long-term direction of the U.S. economy and what could be done to make it more innovative, competitive, and productive-the keys to raising our standard of living as we compete with China and India in the 21st century. Out of roughly 20,000 spoken words, mentions of "innovation," zero; "competitive," one (Richardson); "productivity," zero; "trade," six (Kucinich); "growth," one (Dodd); "China," six (Dodd, Kucinich, Richardson); "India," none; "middle class," three (Edwards, Clinton); "technology," three (Dodd, Obama, Richardson).

2) At one point, the candidates were asked what they would do about high gasoline prices. Most gave answers about what could be done to achieve energy independence in the long term. But as for right now, no one had much of an answer other than investigating the oil companies for collusion or price gouging. Nothing was said about the lack of refining capacity being the cause of the latest price surge. Also, none of the candidates-other than megadarkhorse Mike Gravel-suggested that high gas prices were, in fact, a good thing. If you are concerned about climate change, as the Dems say they are, shouldn't you cheer higher gas prices, since they might cause Americans to a) drive less and b) encourage greater investment in alternative energy sources?

3) The Democratic candidates continue to strangely double-spend the money they intend to get from raising taxes on Americans making over $200,000 a year. At one point, both Edwards and Obama said they would help pay for their healthcare plans by taxing the so-called rich to the tune of $50 billion a year. But guess what, advocates of reforming the alternative minimum tax-and Edwards, Obama, and Clinton certainly have that goal-usually point to higher taxes on the rich as a way of paying for AMT reform. So, AMT or healthcare: Which is it? A recent analysis by the Urban Institute put it this way:

"Blame whomever you want for today's current fiscal mess, but don't cling to any myths about how far rescinding recent tax cuts for the rich would go toward meeting the nation's many budgetary shortfalls. Our elected officials simply cannot get around the most fundamental of political dilemmas. Even if they enact additional taxes on the rich-and that would not be easy-they still must either retract many of the promises made to the middle class, increase its taxes, or both."



Newspaper meltdown in California: "The great majority of the 60 departing Los Angeles Times journalists made their exits this week from the downtown L.A. headquarters once known as Times Mirror Square. They wrote and edited their final stories. They packed decades' worth of files into cardboard boxes in an exodus that has become painfully routine in the newspaper business of late. The San Francisco Chronicle announced recently that it would reduce its news staff by a quarter. Reports circulated last Friday that the once-robust San Jose Mercury News would pare its staff again. At the Times, the latest departures will leave the paper's news staff at roughly 850 people, about three-quarters of its peak. "We all are caught in the greatest upheaval our industry and the institution of journalism has ever faced," Chronicle managing editor Robert Rosenthal told the newsroom last week as he tendered his own resignation."

Wal-Mart answers healthcare critics: "Linda Dillman, an executive vice president in charge of benefits and other functions, touted a recently introduced program that offers relatively inexpensive health insurance for employees. She also presented internal data showing that more than half of employees who signed up for health insurance through Wal-Mart had previously been uninsured, and 7.8 percent had come off Medicaid. Company executives also argued that Wal-Mart is seeking solutions to health care issues on a larger scale, beyond just its own employees. They pointed to plans to open more in-store health clinics as a way to provide less expensive basic health care to people who might otherwise go to emergency rooms and deal with much bigger bills. And they said the company's $4 generic prescription drug program, which many other retailers have emulated, makes some basic medications more affordable to low-income people. But executives also conceded they have good business reasons for wanting to put clinics in stores. Bill Simon, Wal-Mart's chief operating officer, said the clinics are as profitable, if not more so, than the space they are replacing in the company's big discount stores."

Trinidad, terror and terminals for LNG: "An unappreciated aspect of the NYC airport plot is that Trinidad, which seems the focus of the terror plot, is a large supplier of natural gas to America ( 65% of America's imports of Liquefied Natural Gas-LNG.) Trinidad and its sister island of Tobago have a Muslim population estimated to range from 10-15% of their total population-including a recent influx of immigrants from Pakistan and Afghanistan-two fertile sources of terrorists. LNG has always been considered a dangerous material; it is a highly combustible substance that is shipped to America in cryogenic form in large ships. The potential for an explosion of these ships has long haunted American experts since such an explosion not only would kill many people but render inoperable for years to come some of our busiest ports. These explosions do happen periodically"

JFK plot tip of iceberg: "The alleged conspiracy to blow up John F Kennedy airport, in New York, and a recent plot to kill soldiers at a nearby United States Army base represent only the "tip of the iceberg" of terrorist plots against America, according to US officials. "There's a lot of activity out there," a counter-terrorism official said yesterday. "Obviously, you don't want to tip off every suspect that they are being monitored. On the other hand, we are not going to wait until the fuse is lit." He said that the airport plot, which sparked a lengthy FBI sting operation, was first detected by CIA operatives in the Caribbean and South America nearly 18 months ago."

CAIR gets some legal scrutiny at last: "Federal prosecutors have named CAIR and two other Islamic organizations, the Islamic Society of North America and the North American Islamic Trust, as "unindicted co-conspirators" in a criminal conspiracy to support Hamas, a designated terrorist group. In a filing last week, prosecutors described CAIR as a present or past member of "the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee and/or its organizations." They listed ISNA and NAIT as "entities who are and/or were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood." Josh Gerstein of The New York Sun reports that spokesmen for CAIR did not respond to requests for comment. This development occurred in connection with the trial, scheduled to start on July 16 in Dallas, of five officials (Shukri Abu-Baker, Mohammad El-Mezain, Ghassan Elashi, Mufid Abdulqader, and Abdulraham Odeh) of the now-defunct Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, accused of sending funds to Hamas. This court filing listed some 300 individuals or organizations as co-conspirators."


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Chris McClure aka Panhandle Poet said...

Our wonderful slate of Democrats are clueless on the economy. They don't understand how the pieces fit. If all that they propose is enacted, the economy of the world will tank -- and it won't take long.

Eurasia Review said...

Contray to what many scare reports will tell you, LNG is actually pretty safe stuff to transport.

If you puncture a tank with a bullet, it won't explode - instead you will get a leak. And if that leak were to ignite, then you'd get a flare.

Unlike other forms of natural gas transport, LNG isn't transported under pressure, but at a very cold temperature. Meaning it's not the pressurized bomb that scaremongers will have you believe.

The only way that you could get one of these things to blowup like a "nuclear force" as some people will have you to believe, is that you'd have to have the entire cargo explode at the same moment.

And that is actually quite difficult, if almost next to impossible.

I might mention I know this, since besides covering LNG energy stories, I also worked in the energy sector and specifically in the LNG sector.

I'm not saying that accidents cant happen (i.e Algeria, etc), but it's not exactly like some press would have you believe.

I could go on and on about this, but that would be for another post, and it's not my space. Apologies.