Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Increased Government Spending Has Negligible Effects on Poverty

NCPA ^ | 05 February 2013 | Keith Hall (US News and World Report)

While some argue for increased government spending to reduce poverty, the empirical evidence suggests that such efforts will do nothing to reduce the record number of Americans living in poverty. Indeed, economic growth and good-paying jobs will do more to reduce poverty than increased spending, says Keith Hall in U.S. News & World Report. •There are 46 million Americans living in poverty, a number that has grown by nearly 9 million since the beginning of the recession. •Sixty-six percent of the working-age poor were unemployed for the entire year of 2011 and there are more than 100 million working-age people who remain jobless. •Over the last 20 years, the poverty rate has mirrored the jobless rate in America.
Recessions are known to increase the number of families in poverty. America's anemic economic growth has averaged just 2.3 percent since the Great Recession officially ended in the middle of 2009. With wages rising below the inflation rate, data from the last decades suggests that for every 1 percent reduction in the poverty rate the jobless rate must decline by 2 percent as well.
The estimate of 46 million Americans living in poverty is low if the U.S. Census Bureau's new Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) is correct. The new measure redefines the poverty measure by accounting for "in-kind" transfers like nutrition or housing assistance, as well as "necessary" expenses like child care and health insurance premiums. Using the new measure, the SPM indicates that 50 million Americans are living in poverty, meaning 50 percent of the poverty population did not work in 2011.
Despite record highs in government spending, poverty has not decreased. Hall states that we must focus on the underlying issue of a stagnant economy if we are to reduce poverty.
Source: Keith Hall, "More Government Spending Won't Reduce Poverty," U.S. News & World Report, January 29, 2013.

“CASH FOR TRIAL LAWYERS”: Dems Gun Manufacturer Liability Bill Seems To Forget About Federal Law

Colorado Peak Politics ^ | February 5, 2013

Legislative Democrats held a press conference today to announce 8 new gun control measures they are proposing, though they declined to actually release any of the bills in question. There are a number of terrible bills being proposed, but one in particular looks set to blow up in Democrats’ face based on existing federal law that stands in direct contradiction.
Per The Denver Post‘s Kurtis Lee:
Colorado Democrats said they will introduce bills that would hold makers and sellers of assault-style weapons legally liable for any harm gunmen inflicted with them in a news conference Tuesday in which they called for a long list of tough new gun-control laws.
…The call to hold makers and sellers of assault-style guns appears to be in conflict with a federal law passed by Congress in 2005, according to David Kopel, a University of Denver law professor and Second Amendment expert.
“The purpose of the (Protection of Lawful Commerce and Arms) act is to prevent firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable for crimes committed with their products,” Kopel said in a recent e-mail. “However, both manufacturers and dealers can still be held liable for damages resulting from defective products, breach of contract, criminal misconduct, and other actions for which they are directly responsible.”
The Dem’s liability law is quickly becoming known as “cash for trial lawyers” as that is the only group that stands to benefit from the legislation. As Senator Brophy quipped to reporters, trying to hold gun manufacturers liable for gun violence is like trying to hold Coors responsible for drunk drivers.
If the law were to pass it would almost certainly be challenged in court, and overturned as the federal law protecting gun manufacturers from liability supersedes it. How many Colorado taxpayer dollars are Democrats willing to risk to defend a law that won’t stand up to legal scrutiny?
Did the bill drafter even bother to perform a simple Google search before parceling out a big gift to trial lawyers?

Your government can kill you if...

The Week ^ | February 4, 2013 | Marc Ambinder

A Justice Department memorandum apparently prepared for Congress lays out for the first time the criteria that the national security establishment uses to decide whether to kill an American who is a senior al Qaeda leader or the the leader of one of its operational arms. Honors go to NBC's Mike Isikoff for the score. The memo has no classification markings on it, which tells me that it is a distillation from a larger, probably classified document prepared by the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice. Generally, the executive branch keeps secrets in one of two of ways. They classify something formally, or they claim that something not classified is tantamount to internal work product or private legal advice intended for the president and his advisers only.
This allows the administration to keep its internal legal memos away from other branches of government, which it claims the right to do. The Bush Administration revealed operational details of secret programs to Congress but refused to provide the legal reasoning. The Obama administration has, at least in the past two years, begun to brief members of Congress proactively on both sets of details. This is one reason why Congress, for the most part, isn't complaining about "secret laws." (There are some exceptions.)
Anyway, here is what the lawyers to the president's lawyer say about the legality of killing Americans who are constituted as al Qaeda or al Qaeda-linked threats. (The memo makes it clear that its language does not apply to other instances where American citizens might be killed by their government.)
1. "An informed, high-level official" must determine that the person represents "an imminent threat" of "violent attack against the United States."(continued)
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

ICE Union Boss: Obama Doesn’t Care If Immigration Enforcement Officers Die!

Washington Examiner ^ | 2/5/13 | Joel Gehrke

President Obama and the Department of Homeland Security care more about “special interests” in the Democratic campaign base than the lives of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, the ICE union boss told Congress today.

“Death or serious injury to ICE officers and agents appears more acceptable to ICE, DHS, and Administration leadership, than the public complaints that would be lodged by special interest groups representing illegal aliens,” Chris Crane, president of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement 118, told the House Judiciary Committee this afternoon.

Crane based that statement on the way government policies handcuff the ICE officers charged with enforcing immigration laws, such as the policy that bans using tasers on illegal immigrants even though law enforcement is authorized to use them on U.S. citizens in the course of an arrest.” ICE will not approve this equipment for political reasons,” Crane, a former United States Marine, explained.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Three Views

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Sooooo Sweet!

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Skeet Hunting?

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Government Scissors

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Uh, Obama? We Have a Problem: Interest Expense to Hit $1 Trillion in 4 Years! ^ | February 6, 2013 | John Ransom

I hate to interrupt Obama’s “We Don’t Have a Spending Problem” World Tour. But reality intervened on Tuesday as the Congressional Budget Office released a report that says that the budget deficit will grow through 2023 and “will eventually require the government to raise taxes, reduce benefits and services, or undertake some combination of those two actions,” reports CBSNews- and all of that just to cover interest payments.
“In its annual Budget and Economic Outlook,” writes CBSNews, “the CBO said debt held by the public will be bigger by 2023 than in any year since 1951 and will be at 77 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2023, far above the 40-year average of 39 percent of GDP. As a result, the CBO report said, the federal government’s interest costs ‘will be very high’ and will be rising. Interest costs will more than double by the end of the ten-year forecasting period.”
The CBO projects that interest rates on the Ten-Year Treasury Note will rise from 2.1 percent currently, to 5.2 percent in 2017.
In December, the Treasury Department reported that total interest bearing debt owed by the government carried an interest rate of 2.523 percent. Last year’s interest payments on that debt totaled $360 billion. If interest rates overall reflect the CBO’s forecast for the benchmark, interest rates payments alone will reach one trillion dollars by 2017.
Just current debt would require interest payments of 2.5 times 2012 levels or $890 billion. You can add another $100 billion in interest costs for deficits accumulated between 2013 and 2017.
Federal Debt Held by the Public
If interest rates cooperate, interest on the national debt will be the third largest line item in the budget by 2017, after pensions and healthcare, topping defense spending, education, welfare and likely even Obama’s vacation budget.
If interest rates don’t cooperate and they become infected by inflation, or silly things like…I don’t know…RISK anyone?... then look for interest payments to be the top and biggest line item in any budget.
So technically Obama doesn’t have a spending problem.
Obama will be out of office by 2017, so yeah, HE doesn’t have a problem spending all that borrowed money. It’s all of us suckers who have to live in the country after he’s done with it who will have to make the choice between cat food and really large interest payments on the national debt.
The other thorny problem with the CBO forecast is that after this year the report is contingent upon the economy growing “at its maximum sustainable level.”
The CBO pegs GDP growth as modest this year-again- but bets the farm that GDP growth will hit “3.4 percent in 2014 and an average of 3.6 percent a year from 2015 through 2018.”
No offense to the folks at the CBO, but really they should let politico-comedian David Letterman report economics and go to writing jokes full-time. Since 2000, the US economy has grown above 3 percent only twice, 2004 and 2010. With 2 years of getting hits and the other years striking out, that’s not even a batting average.
That’s a disaster.
No doubt higher government spending could give the economy a temporary boost, as it did in the third quarter of 2012, just in time to save Obama’s re-election campaign. But we’ve plunged from an annual rate of 3.1 percent growth in the third quarter to recessionary activity in the 4th quarter.
If government spending was all that it was cracked up to be, wouldn’t the third quarter have kick-started the economy, rather than killing it?
While idiots like Ezra Klein of the Washington Post argue that government spending needs to be much, much higher and payrolls for the federal government need to be expanded rather than contracted, the result would be catastrophic.
As it is, if we do nothing and let current federal tax rates and spending drift, we’ll spend more on interest than we do on education.
And Democrats, you have a problem: Tell them in 2017 how much you care about kids.