Sunday, January 30, 2011

Obama's Failed Policies Get Media Pass

Just one day after President Obama talked about winning the future, a report from the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program finds that the Obama administration's failed policies have put the nation even more at risk of future financial bailouts.

But the serious nature of the economic and financial crisis-and the failure of Obama's Big Government programs to solve it-continues to be played down by the major media.

The Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) issued a report finding that TARP's main goals of "increasing lending" and "promoting jobs and economic growth" have been "largely unmet." Even more disturbing, the report finds that Obama's nearly two-year-old Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) program is a failure.

All of this evidence was presented at a hearing of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday.

The NBC Nightly News covered the shocking information without once uttering the words "President Obama" in connection with the documented failures. Anchor Brian Williams said the inspector general had concluded that "the government's effort to help Americans save their homes" was a failure.

The government? This is "The Obama HAMP," as noted by one website.

The website promises: "The funds the Obama Administration has made available for this program come from YOUR tax dollars. Take advantage of this program while it is still available! You will be able to lower your rate as low as 2%, obtain a fixed lower monthly payment, and save your home from foreclosure."

Get your "Obama loan modifications," promised another website.

But the Inspector General report finds that this Obama program's failure to preserve homeownership has had perhaps "the most devastating consequences." It said the HAMP "has been beset by problems from the outset and, despite frequent retooling, continues to fall dramatically short of any meaningful standard of success."

The report that followed on the NBC Nightly News by Lisa Myers noted that one person who was supposed to be helped by the program ended up facing foreclosure anyway. Obama officials had said the program would help 3-4 million people, but the number of "mortgage modifications" now stands at only 522,000. It is not clear how many of those people supposedly benefiting from HAMP through reduced mortgage payments subsidized by the taxpayers will actually end up facing foreclosure in the long run.

So the taxpayers will lose even more money and the homeowners will lose their homes. This is a lose-lose program guaranteed to create even more of an economic and financial crisis.

The Inspector General report notes, "HAMP's failure to have a material impact on the foreclosure crisis has many causes, starting with a rushed launch based on inadequate analysis and without fully developed rules, which has required frequent changes to program guidelines and caused unnecessary confusion and delay. Perhaps most fundamentally, Treasury has steadfastly refused to adopt meaningful goals and benchmarks..."

While Myers did note that "the Obama Administration official managing the program calls it a success," an incredible statement considering the evidence presented in her own report, there was no effort on the part of the NBC Nightly News or other liberal media to contrast Obama's optimistic or "Reaganesque" tone during the State of the Union with the actual facts on the ground and the evidence of his policy failures.

In terms of the broader economic and financial picture, Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, said that while TARP saved some big firms from failure, the government actions "encouraged future high-risk behavior by insulating the risk-takers who had profited so greatly in the run-up to the crisis from the consequences of failure, and gave an unwarranted competitive advantage, in the form of enhanced credit ratings and access to cheaper credit and capital, to institutions perceived by the market as having an implicit Government guarantee."

"In many ways," Barofsky said, "TARP has thus helped mix the same toxic cocktail of implicit guarantees and distorted incentives that led to disastrous consequences for the Government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs)-the Federal National Mortgage Association (`Fannie Mae') and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (`Freddie Mac')."

So the bailouts that were started by Bush and continued under Obama run the risk of generating even more bailouts in the future.



Go girl!

Palin issues scathing response to Obama speech

Sarah Palin has issued a scathing response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, attacking his economic policies and "recycled rhetoric," which she says no longer inspires hope.

In a lengthy missive on Facebook, Palin didn't mention the call for unity that Obama made in his speech Tuesday.

Rather, she focused her attention on his economic proposals, calling his ideas for investments in areas like high-speed rail "half-baked." She says they'd put the nation on a "bullet train to bankruptcy." She also said Obama doesn't understand that debt is the biggest problem facing the nation.

She noted the speech was dubbed "Winning the Future," and suggested that the acronym of that title, "WTF," is an apt way to describe the speech.

SOURCE. Read the whole thing here. She really nails it.


Winning the Future

Finally, an issue all Americans can rally behind: winning the future! Surely most of us would like to be victorious down the road. The alternative is losing the future, and that doesn't sound very good, does it? If the future is lost, then what will become of us?

Thus, President Obama's new mantra, "winning the future," got immediate traction. His State of the Union speech was full of optimistic ways that we can win. Most of those ways involve "investing" in stuff like education, infrastructure jobs and alternative fuels. "Investing," of course, is the new word for government spending. The president doesn't want to spend anymore; he wants to "invest."

So Obama's speech was uplifting to say the least. We are going to beat those Chinese people in the marketplace, and our kids will be smarter than those Korean kids. Yes, we can! And the federal government's checkbook will lead the way.

In response, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan essentially said "no, we can't." We're broke. How uplifting is that?

Obama is a liberal man who is convinced that a large federal government can, indeed, improve the lives of most Americans. With a $14 trillion debt, however, Obama can no longer trumpet expanding the federal apparatus, but that doesn't mean he's against it. Let's take the high-speed train deal as an example.

The president loves the idea of these trains, and they do work well in places like Japan. But over the past 10 years, the government-run Amtrak outfit has lost an astonishing $13 billion. So what makes Obama believe that pumping even more tax money into high-speed rail will be good for the country? Talk about losing the past.

And then there's ethanol. Tons of federal money spent, little to show for it. T. Boone Pickens, a very savvy guy, tried wind power. He got blown away. The complexity of wind-driven energy makes it almost impossible to market.

As some of you know, I am a simple guy. My questions are not complicated. So here's another one regarding the winning thing: Didn't the Soviet Union want to win the future? I think they did. The pinheads in Moscow spent gazillions of dollars trying to dominate the world. And exactly how did that giant central government-run operation turn out? I believe it evaporated, did it not? Huge bureaucracies are not set up for winning the future. They exist to tell folks what to do and to take their money.



When is civilization going to learn . . .

. . . that government spending makes things worse, not better?

You can, perhaps, forgive the policy makers of the early 20th century for not knowing this. Throughout the Western world, big government was in. Technology was allowing government to get bigger, and to do more, and people figured, "Well, why shouldn't it do more?" There are problems in society that need to get fixed, and maybe it's government's role to fix them. After all, government could do big things. Government could build great dams. Government could electrify country farms previously lit by candle and kerosene. All it needed to do was tax enough money, or borrow it or print it, and—with its monopoly of force and law—arrogate the resources and land it needed, and government could do just about anything.

Herbert Hoover, the great engineer, had done great things prior to becoming president. Through force of will, organization, and careful planning, Hoover believed that great things could be done. And he did great things, including feeding millions of starving people. He took this mentality and his many successes with him to the White House and, through his policies, helped cause the Great Depression. Franklin Roosevelt took over, Hoover's name was blackened, and then Roosevelt and his gang proceeded to make most of the same mistakes Hoover did, only worse, more, and bigger.

Of course, during this moment of history where big government was in vogue, fascism was as well, with open fascisms in Europe and more than a whiff of it here at home. But ignoring that, for the time being . . . on strictly economic grounds, the people of that day may perhaps be forgiven. A bigger government, taking greater control over the economy, had never really been tried before. The theories were new. This was a modern era, and it was time for new ideas to be tried, people believed.

That said, we now have a century of data, and the data are clear: The ideas failed.

More economic freedom means more prosperity. Less economic freedom correlates to less prosperity. Large government, spending large amounts, tends to hinder, not help economic growth. The body of evidence is, at this point, so overwhelming on the subject that in a completely rational world, we would no longer even be having the discussion. This is not, however, a completely rational world, and we'll probably need a century of intellectual combat to completely undo a century of ideological errors (though I am hopeful that we may be able to speed up the process).

The 2011 Index of Economic Freedom has fired another salvo in that struggle—and a fairly convincing one. Ambassador Terry Miller, in Chapter 1 of The Limits of Government, provides some compelling charts data and charts on these issues.

The firtst is on government spending levels and how they correlate to growth. The trend and correlation are unmistakable:

Miller acompanies that chart with, in part, this text:
"The 2011 Index results demonstrate clearly that for many of the countries of the world, particularly those that experienced the inevitable results of state economic control under Communist systems in the past, policy solutions that would re-regulate economic activity or undo the integration of economies in a globalized trade and investment market hold little attraction.

Their skepticism is justified. Countries that reduced government spending had economic growth rates almost two percentage points higher in 2009 than countries whose government spending scores worsened, and countries with the highest rates of government spending had gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates 4.5 percentage points lower on average than countries where government spending was best contained. (See Chart 1.)"

The evidence is not just that economically freer countries enjoy more prosperity, higher standards of living, more political freedom and tolerance, etc., though the evidence is out there for those factors as well. But it's also very specifically that more government spending correlates with less growth. Stimulus spending, for example, appears not only to fail to do what it sets out to do (stimulate), it also appears to have the opposite effect. Needless to say, though the situation is always more complex than a single chart can report, with trendlines like that, correlation is almost surely causation, at least in part.

Miller goes on to provide several other charts in this chapter, including this striking one:

There are deviations, obviously. The one outlier on the Y axis (GDP per person) is not the economically freest. The economically freest (X axis) does not have the absolute highest GDP/person. But again, the trendline is unmistakable.

The trend also appears to be geometric as you move along the X axis. In other words, each "investment" a country makes in economic freedom (moving further right on the x axis) produces not only an increase in per person GDP, it produces a greater "rate of return" on that "investment" for each move further down the line towards the freest end.

With data like these, I keep going back to the question, "Why are we even still having the discussion?"

And then I remind myself, once again, that we do not live in a fully rational world.



Housing and Urban Development money went to belly dancer parties, sex offenders, dead residents

In the more than 3,000 public housing agencies nationwide funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and particularly inside the 172 that HUD considers the most troubled, ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity found a struggle to combat theft, corruption, and mismanagement. According to the report, one official embezzled $900,000 and bought a mansion. Other funds went to support sex workers.

In other words, this is a perfect illustration of why recommending cuts to such assistance programs is not heartless but actually wise -- waste is rampant:
The problems are widespread, from an executive in New Orleans convicted of embezzling more than $900,000 in housing money around the time he bought a lavish Florida mansion to federal funds wrongly being spent to provide housing for sex offenders or to pay vouchers to residents long since dead.

Despite red flags from its own internal watchdog, HUD has continued to plow fresh federal dollars into these troubled agencies, including $218 million in stimulus funds since 2009, the joint investigation found.

The ultimate victims of such mismanagement are impoverished Americans who rely on federally funded local public housing agencies to provide them with a clean, safe place to live.

"We're failing these tenants, we're failing the taxpayers," said Kenneth Donohue, who recently retired as the HUD inspector general in charge of rooting out waste, fraud and abuse from the federal housing program.

Forget accusations about trying to eradicate the social safety net by making budgetary cuts. By providing more money to ineffective, wasteful programs, bureaucrats commit that very crime -- except they also take taxpayer money with them.



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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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