The sun may have set on the old European colonial empires, but the continent has not given up on the desire to tell other lands what to do. The European Union is trying to force foreign airlines to comply with the EU’s emission trading rules (cap and trade) or face punitive measures.
Non-EU states are pushing back hard, and Saudi Arabia has joined the fray. Businessweek reports that the kingdom has ordered Saudi Arabian Airlines not to comply with the carbon trading regime, which requires airlines to purchase credits to offset specified emission levels (i.e. pay a tax). The Saudis reject this regulatory intrusion into their affairs:
‘The EU thinks that, with time, the charges levied on us will become normal and acceptable. We wanted to make sure to send them a message that the case will not end easily,’ Mohammed al-Sabban, an independent energy consultant and a former Saudi chief climate negotiator who represented the country in issuing the joint communique, said Sept. 28 by phone. State-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines is the only Saudi-based carrier that travels to Europe.
Currently airlines receive free emissions credits, but this is part of a phase-in period that ends in 2013. The Saudis have joined a phalanx of other nations, including China and India, in opposing the full implementation of the program. It is anyone’s guess what will happen next, and it is possible that the dispute will spark the equivalent of a trade war. In that event, at least the international lawyers will enjoy the green.
Builds on Heller’s Long Record of Cooperation with Both Parties
(Las Vegas, NV) – Today Dean Heller released a new ad demonstrating his commitment to doing what is in the best interest of Nevadans, even if it means breaking with party lines. His message of bipartisanship strikes a stark contrast to that of his opponent, who has voted with the party line and Nancy Pelosi 95% of the time.
Heller’s Bipartisan Legislative Highlights Include:
Dean Heller worked with women from across the aisle to champion a mobile mammography program that allows women to receive care in underserved areas:
- While serving in the House of Representatives, Dean was the original author of the Mobile Mammography Promotion Act. Democrat Melissa Bean (D-IL-8) was the original Democratic cosponsor of that bill.
- Dean reintroduced the Mobile Mammography Promotion Act in the 112th Congress (H.R. 879) along with current DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as the original Democratic cosponsor of that bill.
Heller was the lead Republican on legislation also sponsored by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Sen. Tom Udall to crack down on drug smugglers using ultralight aircraft. The President signed this bipartisan legislation into law.
- Led efforts with Gabby Giffords in the 111th Congress and Tom Udall in the 112th Congress to pass legislation increasing penalties for using ultralight aircraft for illegal drug smuggling (Ultralight Aircraft Smuggling Prevention Act, S. 1974).
Heller was the only Republican Senator to vote for the Democratic Balanced Budget Proposal: “Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada was the lone Republican to support a balanced budget amendment offered by Democrats.” (Peter Urban, Heller is lone Republican on Democrat-backed budget plan, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 4/1/12)
Heller’s “No Budget No Pay” legislation has been embraced by Democrats and Republicans:
- Introduced bipartisan legislation that would prevent Members of Congress from being paid unless the budget and appropriations bills for a given fiscal year are passed before the start of that fiscal year (S. 1981)
- Legislation was adopted into plan by non-partisan group No Labels as one of twelve proposals to Make Congress Work.
- Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Representatives by Jim Cooper (D-TN, H.R. 3643).
- “This is a truly non-partisan issue, one that pits every taxpayer in the country against the 535 members of Congress themselves — regardless of their party affiliation. The idea is a simple one, as evidenced by the bill’s official title: the ‘No Budget, No Pay Act.’” (Chris Weigant, “The No Budget, No Pay Act,” Huffington Post, 3/15/2012)
Heller breaks from his party on renewable energy:
- “In break from GOP, Dean Heller goes green: Sen. Dean Heller is taking the road less traveled among GOP candidates: The Nevada Republican says he’s better for clean-energy interests than his chief Democratic rival…Heller’s message puts him in contrast with other Republicans, who are distancing themselves from any past support for clean energy and instead are embracing an “all of the above” message that stresses expanded domestic drilling.” (Alex Guillen, “In break from GOP, Dean Heller goes green,” Politico.com, 3/6/12)
Heller proposed a compromise to close tax loopholes for big oil companies:
- The Gas Price Relief Act closes loopholes on tax breaks for the largest oil and gas companies and puts that money toward reducing the gas tax and the highway trust fund. The bill also increases oil drilling and construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
(Press Release, “Heller Introduces Gas Price Relief Act,” March 28, 2012)
- The bill is a “common-sense, all-of-the-above strategy to provide for the development of our domestic energy resources.”
(Karoun Demirjian, “Dean Heller files amendment that repeals tax breaks for oil companies,” Las Vegas Sun, March 28, 2012)
Heller was one of few Senators to push his GOP colleagues on the payroll tax cut extension:
“Dean Heller to House GOP: Pass the payroll tax cut extension: Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada today scolded his fellow Republicans in the House for refusing to support a bipartisan package to extend payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance, saying while he agreed with them in principle, playing politics with such an important issue was unacceptable.” (Karoun Demirjian, “Dean Heller to House GOP: Pass the payroll tax cut extension,” Las Vegas Sun, December 19, 2011)
- “Obama, Boehner square off in payroll tax fight: Meanwhile, five mostly moderate Republican senators have called for the House to support the Senate’s two-month extension. The group consists of Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana and Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada.
(Tom and Alan Silverleib, “Obama, Boehner square off in payroll tax fight,” December 21, 2011)
Heller has repeatedly broken with his Republican colleagues in supporting the extension of unemployment benefits:
- Dean Heller has consistently supported efforts to extend unemployment insurance. (H.R. 2642 6/3/2008; H.R. 6867 11/21/2008; H.R. 3548 11/6/2009; H.R. 3326 12/16/2009; H.R. 4851 4/15/2010; H.R. 5618 6/29/2010; H.R. 5418 7/1/2010; H.R. 4213 7/22/2010; H.R. 3630 2/17/2012)
- Dean Heller has repeatedly introduced legislation to extend unemployment benefits (H.R. 5453, May 2010; (H.R. 5647, July 2010); (S. 1885, November 2011).
- In July 2010, Las Vegas Review Journal’s Steve Sebelius praised Dean Heller, saying he “crossed party lines on Thursday to vote for an extension of unemployment benefits for more than 1 million people in America, including thousands here in Nevada,” after Heller’s own legislation to extend benefits was unsuccessful (Steve Sebelius, “In Praise of Dean Heller,” Las Vegas Review-Journal)
- Additional Bipartisan Efforts in the Senate
- Original Republican cosponsor of a bill authored by Senator Wyden (D-OR) to support growth in utility scale geothermal power, distributed on-site power generation, and heating for buildings and commercial processes, while using clean and renewable American energy (Geothermal Tax Parity Act, S. 1413).
- Lead Republican cosponsor of legislation with Senator Tester (D-MT) that would allow the American Legion to accept credit card payments for membership dues (S. 1639). . This legislation was passed by Congress.
- Authored a bill with Democratic Senators Klobachar from Minnesota and Begich from Alaska to alleviate the wait times at some embassies and consulates for U.S. travel visas (International Tourism Facilitation Act, S. 1653).
Additional Bipartisan Efforts in the House:
- Coauthored bill with Democratic Representative John Lewis to end the federal telephone excise tax that was originally intended to help fund the Spanish-American War in 1898 (H.R. 428 in the 111th Congress).
- Original Republican cosponsor of Democrat Caucus Chairman John Larson’s (D-WA) Energy Efficient Commercial Roofs Act, which would provide a tax incentive to make roofing more energy efficient.
- Advocated and voted for a renewable energy portfolio standard to require electric suppliers, other than governmental entities and rural electric cooperatives, to provide 15 percent of their electricity using renewable energy resources by the year 2020 (110th Congress).
- Lead Republican on legislation with Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) to provide seven year depreciation for motorsports facilities (Motorsports Fairness and Permanency Act, H.R. 1974 in the 111th Congress).
- Coauthored legislation with Representative Mike Thompson to repeal provisions that took geothermal royalty sharing away from counties (H.R. 4060, 111th Congress).
- Authored the bipartisan Nellis Dunes National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area Act to create a specific area on BLM land for OHV activities.
Heller has repeatedly broken with his Republican colleagues in supporting the following proposals:
- Prescription drug reimportation, which would introduce more competition in the pharmaceutical market and lower costs for seniors and other Americans who depend on medication.
- In 2007, Heller voted for stem cell research, which promises meaningful breakthroughs in medical science.
- In 2007, voted for severe penalties for gasoline price gouging – a proposal that was vocally opposed by oil and gas companies.
As the September 27th Wall Street Journal column below states, “The more we learn, the more Benghazi looks like a gross security failure.”
It’s troubling enough that the Obama administration misled the American people about what happened at our consulate in Libya. It’s troubling enough that they knew within 24 hours it was a terrorist attack, but continued for days to falsely claim it was a “spontaneous mob” incited by a video no one had ever seen.
Now, in the column below (highlights added), we learn details about security concerns that went unheeded—and four Americans, including our ambassador, are dead as a result.
Significantly, in a sign that there is growing bi-partisan concern, Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations committee are joining Republicans in raising questions and demanding answers.
Had enough? Then sign our petition below!
The Libya Debacle
The more we learn, the more Benghazi looks like a gross security failure.
In his United Nations speech on Tuesday, President Obama talked about the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya and declared that “there should be no doubt that we will be relentless in tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice.” What he didn’t say is how relentless he’ll be in tracking down the security lapses and intelligence failures that contributed to the murders. Let’s say there’s some doubt about that.
None of the initial explanations offered by the White House and State Department since the assault on the Benghazi consulate has held up. First the Administration blamed protests provoked by an amateurish anti-Islam clip posted on YouTube. Cue Susan Rice, the U.N. Ambassador and leading candidate for Secretary of State in a second Obama term: “What happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction . . . as a consequence of the video, that people gathered outside the embassy and then it grew very violent.”
ABACAUSA.COM The attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 12, 2012.
Administration officials also maintained that the diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt, the site of the first attacks this September 11, were properly defended and that the U.S. had no reason to prepare for any attack. “The office of the director of National Intelligence has said we have no actionable intelligence that an attack on our post in Benghazi was planned or imminent,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week, calling the security measures in place there “robust.”
Cell phone video footage and witness testimony from Benghazi soon undercut the Administration trope of an angry march “hijacked” by a few bad people. As it turned out, the assault was well-coordinated, with fighters armed with guns, RPGs and diesel canisters, which were used to set the buildings on fire. Ambassador Chris Stevens died of smoke inhalation. Briefing Congress, the Administration changed its story and said the attacks were pre-planned and linked to al Qaeda.
You’d think this admission would focus attention on why the compound was so vulnerable to begin with. But the Administration wants to avoid this conversation. The removal of all staff from Benghazi, including a large component of intelligence officers, would also seem to hinder their ability to investigate the attacks and bring the killers to justice.
Journalists have stayed on the case, however, and their reporting is filling in the Administration’s holes. On Friday, our WSJ colleagues showed that starting in spring, U.S. intelligence had been worried about radical militias in eastern Libya. These armed groups helped topple Moammar Ghadhafi last year but weren’t demobilized as a new government has slowly found its legs. As we’ve noted since last winter, the waning of American and European interest in Libya could have dangerous consequences.
Deteriorating security was no secret. On April 10, for example, an explosive device was thrown at a convoy carrying U.N. envoy Ian Martin. On June 6, an improvised explosive device exploded outside the U.S. consulate. In late August, State warned American citizens who were planning to travel to Libya about the threat of assassinations and car bombings.
Despite all this, U.S. diplomatic missions had minimal security. Officials told the Journal that the Administration put too much faith in weak Libyan police and military forces. The night of the Benghazi attack, four lightly armed Libyans and five American security officers were on duty. The complex lacked smoke-protection masks and fire extinguishers. Neither the consulate in Benghazi nor the embassy in Tripoli were guarded by U.S. Marines, whose deployment to Libya wasn’t a priority.
Rummaging through the Benghazi compound, a CNN reporter found a seven-page notebook belonging to Ambassador Stevens. According to the network, the diary said he was concerned about the “never-ending” security threats in Benghazi and wrote that he was on an al Qaeda hit list. In deference to the family’s wishes, CNN didn’t quote directly from the diary and didn’t divulge any private information in it.
His worries are newsworthy, however, and can inform America’s response. But Mrs. Clinton’s long-time and closest media adviser chose to attack CNN. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philippe Reines called the network’s conduct “disgusting.” He then deployed words not fit for a family newspaper in an exchange with a reporter for the Web site BuzzFeed. Mr. Reines may wish to protect his boss’s legacy for her 2016 Presidential run, but that won’t be enhanced by the appearance of a cover-up.
Imagine the uproar if, barely a month before Election Day, the Bush Administration had responded to a terrorist strike—on Sept. 11 no less—in this fashion. Obfuscating about what happened. Refusing to acknowledge that clear security warnings were apparently ignored. Then trying to shoot the messengers who bring these inconvenient truths to light in order to talk about anything but a stunning and deadly attack on U.S. sovereign territory.
Four Americans lost their lives in Benghazi in a terrorist attack that evidence suggests should have been anticipated and might have been stopped. Rather than accept responsibility, the Administration has tried to stonewall and blame others. Congress should call hearings to hold someone accountable for this debacle.
President Obama and the liberals have already raised taxes on the middle class. Mitt Romney and common-sense conservatives will cut will cut taxes for the middle class and close loopholes for millionaires. We can’t afford another four years like the last.
Mitt Romney’s campaign and the Republican National Committee aligned President Barack Obama with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in a new television adTuesday, one day before the year’s first presidential debate.
“Who will raise taxes on the middle class? Barack Obama and the liberals already have,” the ad’s narrator says, as the video pauses on a photo of Obama and Pelosi smiling for a camera.
It’s the second time in two weeks the Romney campaign has made an ad targeting Obama’s connection to the House minority leader, who remains a frequent target for Republicans.
The 30-second spot, “Already Has,” also attacks the duo on the health care reform bill that passed in 2010 while Pelosi served as House speaker. She lost that position later in the year when Republicans retook the House majority.
A debate that has been fought largely over the airwaves is about to go head-to-head. Medicare reform is a huge part of that debate, and the left—bolstered by the media—has been promoting two huge falsehoods on the issue.
Several proposals from conservatives and liberals for Medicare reform, including The Heritage Foundation’s Saving the American Dream proposal, are based on a financing model called “premium support.” What that means: Medicare has a premium cost, just as other health insurance does. When the government makes a contribution (sometimes referred to as a “defined contribution”) toward paying your premium, that is called premium support. The difference with reform is that the government would no longer dictate to seniors which Medicare plan they would have to use. The government would still support the premium, but the seniors would have the option to choose from a variety of plans tailored to their needs, including traditional Medicare.
The concept is already working in several areas of Medicare, including Medicare Advantage plans and the prescription drug benefit program. Program savings in the drug program have been spectacular, and in Medicare Advantage and the drug program premiums have been stable. Patient satisfaction is very high in both programs.
But two whoppers are still circulating—let’s put them to rest once and for all.
Vice President Joe Biden has described the Medicare reform proposal championed by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and others as “Vouchercare.” Heritage expert Robert Moffit dispatches this claim with zero ambiguity:
There is no major Medicare reform proposal, including the Ryan proposal, that would issue future senior citizens a voucher (a certificate or coupon or a check for a fixed dollar amount) and then force them to fend for themselves — on their own – in negotiating with health-insurance companies…It’s all scary nonsense.
Under the left’s definition of “vouchers,” the existing Medicare drug benefit program is a voucher. Under the left’s definition of “vouchers,” the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program is a voucher. And under the left’s definition of “vouchers,” Obamacare’s insurance exchanges will be funded by vouchers in 2014.
This simply isn’t what we think of as a “voucher.” An example of a true voucher plan? The food stamp program. People are given vouchers, which they take to the store and use to buy something. Medicare reform proposals do not work this way.
Moffit plainly lays out the features of a premium support plan:
- It would provide direct payment from the government to a health plan of a person’s choice, including traditional Medicare, if that was the patient’s choice.
- Health plans, including employer-based retiree plans, would have to meet government standards, including benefit standards of the traditional Medicare program, plus new and much-needed protections against the costs of catastrophic illness.
- Plans would be offered like the Medicare Part D program, governed by existing Medicare insurance rules, meaning people could not be legally denied coverage or dropped merely because they are sick.
- Low-income Americans would be specially protected from unforeseen out-of-pocket cost hikes.
- All enrollees would benefit from an improved risk adjustment among plans in the competitive market to guarantee continuity of patient care and health-plan stability.
Use of the word “voucher,” with the accompanying mental picture of confused seniors wandering around with coupons in their hands, is merely a rhetorical scare tactic. It has no basis in fact.
2. The $6,400 Question
You’ve likely heard that reforming Medicare would cost seniors $6,400 out of pocket. This charge is based on a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis relating to an outdated version of Ryan’s budget proposal.
This figure is meaningless and misleading for two reasons. Not only has Ryan’s proposal changed significantly since then, but the CBO has also admitted that its estimates would be limited—because it cannot account for the effects of competition on prices.
As Heritage’s Rea Hederman reports, “CBO director Douglas Elmendorf has publicly acknowledged that his agency does not have the methodological tools to accurately model Medicare premium-support plans and the impact of market competition.”
The most recent academic analysis indicates that introducing premium support into Medicare could save 9 percent in annual costs. In addition to reducing Medicare spending across the board, the more important effect would be the competition between plans—giving people options for their coverage plans and saving individuals money.
Share this article with friends so we can put these falsehoods to rest and move the debate forward.
Medicare Reform Myths Debunked from Heritage Action for America
In-Depth: Premium Support: Medicare’s Future and Its Critics by Robert Moffit
Spending Daily | October 2, 2012
“Poll: Two-Thirds of Americans Believe Gov’t Spending Does More Harm Than Good”
Newsmax reports, “Two out of three Americans believe that government spending does more harm than good, a new poll released Tuesday shows. More than half say that President Barack Obama’s stimulus harmed the economy with 86 percent of those surveyed saying it did nothing to help their own personal finances. ‘ Voters understand that our $16 trillion national debt is dragging down our nation’s economy and taking their personal finances with it,’ said Gretchen Hamel, executive director of Public Notice which commissioned the Tarrance Group. ‘ With debt and spending now a top issue in this election, thedebate from here on out should be focused on which candidate has the most credible plan to reduce spending and the debt and get our fiscal house in order.’” Click here to read the full article.
White House Offers to Pick Up Tab For Defense Industry Layoffs
Fox News reports, “If a $16 trillion debt wasn’t enough for taxpayers to lose sleep over, the Obama administration has offered to pick up the check — at taxpayer expense — for legal costs associated with defense industry layoffs should automatic Pentagon cuts be triggered. Republicans are now crying foul over the move, accusing the White House of playing politics over the possibility of mass layoffs. At issue are the crush of Pentagon budget cuts set to go into effect starting in January should Congress fail to avert them. Under federal law, many employers are supposed to give 60-day notice of ‘mass layoffs’ if they are considered likely, but the Obama administration for months now has urged companies not to do so. Last week, the administration doubled down on that plea by offering to cover legal fees in compensation challenges.”
“Almost 2,400 Millionaires Pocketed Unemployment Benefits”
Bloomberg reports, “Almost 2,400 people who received unemployment insurance in 2009 lived in households with annual incomes of $1 million or more, according to the Congressional Research Service. The report was released after about 1.1 million people exhausted their jobless benefits during the second quarter of 2012, when more than 4.6 million filed initial unemployment claims. Eliminating those payments to high earners is one idea being considered as U.S. lawmakers struggle to curb a projected $1.1 trillion deficit for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, with the nationwide jobless rate at 8.1 percent. ‘Sending millionaires unemployment checks is a case study inout-of-control spending,’ U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, said in an e-mail.” The report may include people whose spouses had high paying jobs or people who received unemployment benefits, then in the same year became wealthy. “Congress has expanded unemployment benefits that had been paid for by states and lasted 26 weeks. The federal money lengthened the maximum period to 99 weeks, though the researchers said in practice no state currently offers more than 79 weeks.”
“Official resigns after report finds VA spent $6.1M on lavish conferences”
According to The Hill, “The head of Human Resources for the Veterans Affairs Department resigned after an inspector general’s (IG) report found that the agency spent $6.1 million on two weeklong conferences. The 142-page IG report investigated about $762,000 in ‘unauthorized, unnecessary, and/or wasteful expenses’ during two conferences held in Orlando, Fla., that included $49,516 to produce a parody video of the late-Gen. George S. Patton. Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration John Sepúlveda stepped down on Sunday following the release of the report, which determined that he ‘abdicated his responsibilities’ by not properly overseeing the conferences. The conferences were held in 2011 for about 1,800 VA employees ‘to fulfill valid training needs,’ according to the report. But the VA’s top leadership ‘failed to provide proper oversight,’ which allowed lower-level senior officials to spend $280,698 on an excessive contract with a Marriott Hotel for audio-visual services, catering, food and drinks.”
“Administration Advises States to Expand Medicaid or Risk Losing Federal Money”
The New York Times reports, “The Obama administration is putting pressure on states to expand Medicaid, telling them they may lose federal money if they delay. But at the same time, federal health officials have also told states that if they choose to expand Medicaid, they are free to reverse the decision at any time. … The expansion of Medicaid is a major part of President Obama’s health care law, originally expected to account for half of the 32 million people who were to gain coverage. Congress required states to expand Medicaid to cover people under the age of 65 with income less than or equal to 133 percent of the federal poverty level (up to $25,390 for a family of three).” Cindy Mann, the federal official heading Medicaid, said “that while ‘there is no deadline’ for expanding Medicaid, states would pay a price for delay. Under the new law, she said, the federal government will pay the entire cost of Medicaid coverage for newly eligible beneficiaries for three years, from 2014 to 2016. The federal share will decline to 95 percent in 2017, 94 percent in 2018, 93 percent in 2019 and 90 percent in 2020 and later years.”
Postal Service Sinks Even Deeper Into Debt
The New York Times reports, “The Postal Service sank deeper into debt on Monday after the agency defaulted on a $5.6 billion payment due at the end of September, the second time it has missed a deadline this year to set aside money for its future retiree health benefits. The agency said it expected net operating losses to be $15 billion for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. That loss includes the two missed payments totaling $11.1 billion for the agency’s future retiree funds. This month, the Postal Service also faces a $1.5 billion workers’ compensation insurance payment to the Labor Department. It said on Monday that it would most likely make that payment, but that it would be left with a cash shortage of about $100 million. … The agency had warned Congress for months that it would not be able to make the payments into the fund for its future retiree health benefits. … Lawmakers left Washington last month without passing legislation that would have helped the Postal Service deal with its crippling debt and its operating losses.”
Economic Downturn Witnessed Firsthand on Campaign Trail
The Associated Press reports, “Sometimes all President Barack Obama has to do is look out the window to get a firsthand look at the country’s economic woes. This week in this town, the presidential motorcade speeds past opulent homes lining manmade Lake Las Vegas as he heads to the sprawling luxury development where he’s preparing for the upcoming debates with Mitt Romney. But many houses here are empty, victims of Nevada’s foreclosure crisis, and others are worth far less than their purchase price. … And if Obama didn’t get the message of pocketbook pain, the marquee at a business – one that is open if perhaps not thriving – spells it out: ‘President Obama, we need lower taxes.’ … ‘It’s good to get out of Washington,’ Obama frequently tells crowds on the campaign trail, whether he’s in an economically-booming community or a struggling one in a nation where the unemployment rate hasn’t dropped below 8 percent since January 2009 – the first month of his presidency.”
“Report: Nearly 90 percent of Americans would see taxes rise if ‘fiscal cliff’ hits”
The Washington Post reports, “Nearly 90 percent of Americans would face higher taxes next year if Congress lets the nation hurtle over the ‘fiscal cliff,’ the year-end precipice of tax hikes and spending cuts that threatens to throw the nation back into recession. A study published Monday by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center finds that taxes would go up by a collective $536 billion next year, or about $3,500 per household, reducing after-tax income by more than 6 percent — an ‘unprecedented tax increase.’ The impact would vary significantly by income level, the study found, ranging from a $412 jump for the lowest earners (a reduction of 3.7 percent in after-tax income) to $120,000 for the top 1 percent (a 10.5 percent bite). Middle-income households — those earning between $40,000 and $65,000 a year — would see their taxes go up by an average of $2,000, the study found, leaving those families with 4.4 percent less money to spend.”
Survey: Fiscal Cliff “most serious risk facing the economy”
CNN Money reports, “Getting economists to agree on almost anything is tough. But on the subject of the fiscal cliff, a survey by CNNMoney found an almost unanimous consensus. Of 17 top economists surveyed, 14 believe the end of tax breaks and the steep federal spending cuts set to take effect at the start of next year would cause the economy to tumble into a new recession. Twelve of them believe the fiscal cliff is the most serious risk facing the economy, more serious than the European sovereign debt crisis, business uncertainty about various government regulations or the continued weakness in the job and housing markets. ‘Should gridlock prevail, business sector investment and hiring will be stymied, and the household sector will sharply curtail spending,’ said Patrick O’Keefe, director of economic research for accounting firm JH Cohn. But all 17 agree on one thing — the economy won’t plunge over the fiscal cliff.”
American Crossroads launches $11m buy in eight states focusing on President’s hollow promises and lack of results on economy.
WASHINGTON – American Crossroads today launched a major new television ad contrasting Obama’s promises for the economic recovery against the record that his policies actually delivered.
Supported by an $11 million television buy, the new 30-second ad will run in eight states for ten days. The spot, entitled “Actually Happened,” will run in the following states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia. The ad highlights Obama’s promise that unemployment would decrease to 5.6% if Congress enacted his stimulus legislation, but shows that unemployment is far worse than he promised, and that Obama created massive debt in his first term instead of jobs.
“Obama’s weak leadership has yielded weak results and a weaker America,” said American Crossroads president and CEO Steven Law. “Staying on Obama’s course means a weaker America every day – that’s what this election is about.”
American Crossroads is a non-profit 527 political organization dedicated to renewing America’s commitment to individual liberty, limited government, free enterprise and a strong national defense through informed and effective political action. American Crossroads seeks to educate voters and empower citizens to hold lawmakers and office-seekers accountable for where they stand. Paid for by American Crossroads. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. www.americancrossroads.org
Forbes – When will our government come to realize that not everyone in this country can own a home? Not an issue of cruelty or insensitivity or lack of dream for Utopia, but a simple matter of economics. Not everyone has 20% or even 10% to make a bona fide down payment and have the subsequent income to comfortably service the debt. Apparently the continuing pain of the subprime crisis has taught our feckless politicians nothing. While sub-prime has morphed into a naughty word, a near clone has stealthily infiltrated the mortgage markets, choking the breath out of many unfortunates ensnared by its enervating tentacles. Meet the Federal Housing Administration or FHA. It found life under Roosevelt in 1934 as part of his alphabet soup answer to extricate America from depression. It started as a benign institution, and like today, insured loans and offered some down payment relief to borrowers.
Why Has FHA Become A Monster Now
Last November the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under whose purview FHA falls, issued the September 30 fiscal year 2011 annual report. It was a rather damning indictment. Capital which is statutorily set at 2% of assets had fallen to a measly .24% or from $4.7 billion in 2010 to $2.6 billion in year end 2011. It is only a mere $20 billion shy of requirement. This capital is expressed as the MMI or Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund or the backstop to any defaults on the $1.1 trillion of FHA insured loans outstanding. The auditors estimated $26 billion of losses for loans underwritten through the first quarter of 2009 and another $14.1 billion for “seller funded down payment assistance loans”. Though since curtailed, the seller used to be able to loan the purchaser most or all of the down payment leaving the buyer with little or no “skin in the game.” Then the auditors sang the praises of the 2010 and 2011 books of business will be profitable, and there are new risk guidelines and credit policies in place and all is well and they expect to be in capital compliance by 2015.
Moreover, in It’s Just Impossible I noted
- The Bundesbank said there should be no banking union until there is a fiscal union.
- Angela Merkel said that there should be no fiscal union until there is political union.
- François Hollande said that there should be no political union until there is a banking union
- The German supreme court will not allow a political union nor a fiscal union, nor a banking union without a German referendum.
Mathematically speaking, I also fail to see how the eurozone can stay intact.
CNET Editors’ Rating
3.5 stars – Very good