Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Federal Government

Gov’t Collects Record $240 Billion in May; Still Runs $88 Billion Deficit

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, June 16, 2017:

English: Medicare and Medicaid as % GDP Explan...

Medicare and Medicaid as % GDP Explanation: Eventually, Medicare and Medicaid spending absorbs all federal tax revenue.

The U.S. Treasury announced on Thursday that the federal government collected more money in May than in any other month in history: $240.4 billion. In the same breath, it said that the government spent $328.8 billion, creating a deficit of $88.4 billion.

From a wage earner’s perspective, it meant that in May the average worker paid $1,572 in taxes but the government spent $2,149, making up the $577 difference by borrowing. Such deficit spending is making the S&P Global credit rating agency increasingly nervous.

Just a week earlier, the agency affirmed its best rating — A-1+ — for the government’s “short term” debt, which means, in its own parlance, that the federal government’s ability to pay its current bills is “strong.” But in the longer term, the agency is far less sanguine. While holding its current long-term rating at AA+ (one full notch below its best rating), it said it’s unable to give the United States its highest rating (AAA) because of “high general government debt, relatively short-term-oriented policymaking, and uncertainty about policy formulation” for the future. It explained what it meant about that “uncertainty”:

Some of the [Trump] Administration’s policy proposals appear at odds with policies of the traditional Republican leadership and historical base. That, coupled with lack of cohesion, not just across, but within parties, complicates the ability to effectively and proactively advance legislation in Congress, particularly on fiscal policy. Taken together, we don’t expect a meaningful expansion or reduction of the fiscal deficit over the forecast period.

And what does it say about what’s likely to happen over that “forecast period”?

The U.S.’s net general government debt burden (as a share of GDP) remains twice its 2007 level. While, in our view, debt to GDP should hold fairly steady over the next several years, we expect it to rise thereafter absent measures to raise additional revenue and/or cut nondiscretionary expenditures.

What does that phrase “next several years” mean? How much time before the government’s national debt explodes upward? Says S&P:

Although deficits have declined, net general government debt to GDP remains high at about 80% of GDP. Given our growth forecasts and our expectations that credit conditions will remain subdued, thus keeping real interest rates in check, we expect this ratio to hold fairly steady through 2020. At that point, it could deteriorate more sharply, partly as a result of demographic trends.

Translation: Deficit spending will remain “subdued” for three and a half years, and then Katy bar the door!

Here is where S&P bows out of the picture, giving way instead to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which completed the picture in its March report:

Federal debt held by the public, defined as the amount that the federal government borrows from financial markets, has ballooned over the last decade. In 2007, the year the recession began, debt held by the public represented 35 percent of GDP. Just five years later, federal debt held by the public has doubled to 70 percent and is projected to continue rising.

“Continue rising”? By how much? And by when? The CBO is blunt:

Debt has not seen a surge this large since the increase in federal spending during World War II, when debt exceeded 70 percent of GDP. The budget office projects that growing budget deficits will cause the debt to increase sharply over the next three decades, hitting 150 percent of GDP by 2047.

So, that ratio of government debt compared to the country’s economic ability to produce goods and services was 35 percent in 2007, is now 70 percent, and will soon be 150 percent.

And what’s the reason?

The majority of the rise in spending is largely the result of programs like Social Security and Medicare in addition to rising interest rates. For example, Social Security and major health care program spending represented 54 percent of all federal noninterest spending, an increase from the average of 37 percent it has been over the past 50 years.

It appears to be an unstoppable locomotive. Non-discretionary spending (spending already locked into place by past Congresses and fully expected to be received by its beneficiaries) is on autopilot. And interest rates now coming off historic lows are only going to increase those annual deficits into the future as far as the eye can see.

The CBO is about as close as one can get to a truly non-partisan federal agency — one that has no partisan political agenda and is considered by many as the most reliable forecaster of future economic events. So it’s not only willing to cover, analyze, and present its findings candidly, it’s also willing to tell the truth. It asked, rhetorically, “What might the consequences be if current laws remain unchanged?” It answered:

Large and growing federal debt over the coming decades would hurt the economy and constrain future budget policy. The amount of debt that is projected under the extended baseline would reduce national saving and income in the long term; increase the government’s interest costs, putting more pressure on the rest of the budget; limit lawmakers’ ability to respond to unforeseen events; and increase the likelihood of a fiscal crisis, an occurrence in which investors become unwilling to finance a government’s borrowing unless they are compensated with very high interest rates.

Which brings one to the ultimate rhetorical question: What happens when even those “very high interest rates” aren’t enough to compensate those investors for the risks they are taking by loaning their money to a government that increasingly isn’t able to pay its bills and must continue to borrow increasingly massive amounts to cover its deficits? What happens next?

Maine’s Cut in Its Welfare Rolls a Model for Trump

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, May 31, 2017: 

As predictable as the sunrise, the Obama administration was outraged over Maine’s SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) reform instituted in late 2014, and even threatened to cut off some federal funding if it went ahead with it. To his credit Governor Paul LePage signed the bill anyway.

What happened next is historic.

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Trump’s Plan to Revise SNAP Draws Howls of Protests From Liberals

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, May 30, 2017: 

English: Logo of the .

Modest revisions to the federal government’s present SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) proposed by Trump’s budget released last week have drawn howls of protests from predictable places. The New York Times and ThinkProgress are calling the cuts “full of horror,” “backbreaking,” and sufficient to “destroy the food stamp program.”

What’s proposed is a cut of less than $20 billion a year to a program that currently costs taxpayers more than $70 billion annually. It also would involve a modest shift of financial responsibility back to the states where it properly belongs.

The cuts are predicated on the impact the imposition of “work rules” would have

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Moody’s Revelation: “Managed” Economies fail

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, May 26, 2017:  

Perhaps without knowing it, Moody’s downgrade of China one full notch on Wednesday exposed the fallacy of managed economies: that government bureaucrats with fancy degrees from the University of Chicago, Harvard, or Yale know what they’re doing. One of those fallacies that have been promoted for years came from Yale grad Arthur Laffer as far back as the Reagan administration. On the surface it sounds eminently logical: cut taxes and the economy will grow. The fallacy is knowing just how much to cut, whose to cut, when to cut, and how long to cut.

The Laffer Curve undergirds the whole idea of “supply side economics” –

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Trump’s Budget: a Mixture of Magic, Hope, Pixie Dust, and Gimmicks

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, May 23, 2017:

Now that the long-awaited Trump budget for Fiscal Year 2018 has been released, it hasn’t failed to deliver what skeptics initially expected: Growth coupled with lower taxes will drive the economy to levels that will balance the budget — by 2027  — much of it based on magic, hope, pixie dust, and gimmicks.

First, the “magic.”

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It’s Official: Ferguson Effect Causing Police to “De-police”

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, May 5, 2017:  

The famous "black and white" LAPD po...

The saying “when seconds count the police are minutes away,” while somewhat dismissive of the utility of police, nonetheless assumes that when the police arrive, they’ll be able to resolve an incident effectively and efficiently. Now comes the FBI suggesting that when the police arrive they might not want to.

It’s called the Ferguson Effect,

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Schumer, Pelosi Celebrate Stop-gap Government Spending Bill

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, May 1, 2017: 

After debating hundreds of items in the stop-gap government spending bill to fund the government through September, congressional leaders birthed a beast that rejected nearly all of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises.

On Sunday night Democrat Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer gushed: “This is a good agreement for the American people, and takes the threat of a government shutdown off the table.” He made sure that everyone took note that most of Trump’s priorities were rejected: “The bill ensures taxpayer dollars aren’t used to fund an ineffective wall, excludes [160] poison pill riders [offered by Republicans], and increases investments in programs that [Republicans resisted but] that the middle-class relies on, like medical research, education and infrastructure.”

California Democrat Representative Nancy Pelosi was delighted to see a provision included that would require the U.S. taxpayer to bail out Puerto Rico to the tune of $295 million, calling it Medicare relief rather than a bailout:

From the beginning, Democrats have sought to avert another destructive Republican government shutdown, and we have made significant progress improving [this] omnibus bill.

Bloomberg, in its reporting, couldn’t restrain itself: “GOP leaders … bowed to Democratic demands to eliminate hundreds of policy restrictions aimed at curbing regulations, leaving the Trump administration with few victories.”

When two big-spending, Constitution-ignoring liberal Democrats get excited about a government spending bill, one knows something is dreadfully amiss.

The White House sought $30 billion for the Pentagon. It got just $15 billion, with $2.5 billion of it on a conditional basis. The White House wanted funding for the wall. It got $1.5 billion for “border security” but with the proviso that none of it be spent on the wall.

The White House has promised to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood got an increase. The White House wanted to cut funding to sanctuary cities. That was rejected. Those cities will get their federal funds. It wanted to cut funding for the National Institutes of Health. The NIH got a $2 billion boost. The White House has promised to cut the EPA’s budget. It got millions more in funding, along with a promise that there would be no staff cuts.

The White House has stated it wanted cuts to the Energy Department. Instead, the department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency — which funds experimental energy research and has been targeted for elimination by the White House — got millions more to spend instead.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities? They got increases.

In addition, more than 70 items that Bloomberg called “anti-environment policy riders” were scrapped.

Most annoying to those thinking that the new president would actually be keeping his promises was his statement that he would sign the bill if it arrives at his desk “as we discussed.” That could happen as early as Wednesday.

Perhaps the president is making a deal? Give up a little now in order to press for more later? After all, the bill, once signed, would only fund the government through September. The 2018 budget is still a work in progress.

Or is he going along to get along, not wanting to have the Democrats hang the “shutdown the government again” albatross around the Republican Party neck?

Or is he betraying his promises to his constituents in order to get “something, anything” about which he can claim victory during the early days of his administration.

He is the president, after all, and still has plenty of political capital that he could invest in keeping his promises. Why wouldn’t he consider vetoing the bill rather than folding, especially when it contains odious pro-death funding for Planned Parenthood? Wouldn’t this be a good time for him to stand tall and reject the bill, unless and until it reflects his promises and policies? Wouldn’t this be the time, as Ron Paul just said, “to shut down most of the federal government, starting with bringing the troops home and drastically cutting the military-industrial complex’s budget?”

Or has the president been assimilated by The Borg — the powers-that-be in Washington — and just decided that “resistance is futile” and that he’ll be happy that the cuts to his projects and priorities weren’t even worse?

Trump Gives “Never, Ever” Speech to NRA National Convention

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, April 28, 2017:

In less than 30 minutes, President Donald Trump hit all the hot buttons, feeding red meat to thousands attending the National Rifle Association’s national convention in Atlanta on Friday.

Trump, the first sitting president to address the NRA convention since President Ronald Reagan in 1983, began by voicing his appreciation to the NRA and its membership for its and their early and generous support of his presidential campaign. The NRA first endorsed Trump for president in March 2016 and subsequently pumped $30 million into his campaign, running four times as many ads in his support than it did for Mitt Romney in 2012.

He reminded his raucous supportive audience of how the national media tried to suppress voter turnout in 2016 by repeatedly stating that

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The Arguments Favoring National Reciprocity are Persuasive; They Just Aren’t Constitutional

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, April 26, 2017:

English: Current Status of Shall Issue Laws in...

Current Status of Shall Issue Laws in America

When House member Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) introduced his bill, the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017,” on the first day of the 155th Congress, he explained:

Our Second Amendment right doesn’t disappear when we cross state lines, and this legislation guarantees that. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 is a common sense solution to a problem too many Americans face. It will provide law-abiding citizens the right to conceal carry and travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state codes or onerous civil suits.

 

As a member of President-elect Trump’s Second Amendment Coalition, I look forward to working with my colleagues and the administration to get this legislation across the finish line.

His efforts appear to be succeeding. As of this writing, he has 188 co-sponsors for the bill out of 435 members of the House. It will only take 218 of them to pass his bill.

Chris Cox, the head of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRAILA), summed up the case for national reciprocity while simultaneously chiding those pushing back against it:

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National Concealed-carry Reciprocity Gains Momentum and Opposition

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, April 25, 2017:

When House member Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) introduced his “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017” on the first day of the 115th Congress, he said “it will provide law-abiding citizens the right to conceal carry and travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state codes or onerous civil suits.”

He added, “As a member of President-elect Donald Trump’s Second Amendment Coalition, I look forward to working with my colleagues and the administration to get this legislation across the finish line.”

His efforts appear to be bearing fruit. As of this writing, 188 members of the House have already co-sponsored his bill. And last week the Texas House and the Alabama Senate passed permitless carry — also known as constitutional carry — measures that would eliminate the requirement to obtain a permit in order to carry lawfully in those states.

Chris Cox, the head of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRAILA), summed up the case for national reciprocity while simultaneously chiding those pushing back against it:

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The Clock is Running Out on Trump’s Use of the CRA

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, April 7, 2017:

English: blue scissors Español: tijeras azules

The beauty of the CRA, the Congressional Review Act, is that it provides a process by which an incoming administration can look back at the previous administration’s rules and regulations and repeal, neuter, or abandon those it doesn’t like. In addition, once a rule has been repealed, the CRA prohibits it from growing back again. Call it “Roundup” 2.0 for political weeds and unwanted grasses.

What’s remarkable is that, since its enactment in 1996 as part of the Republicans’ Contract with America, it has only been used once: by George W. Bush. Congress passed five CRA resolutions under Obama but he vetoed them all. For him, no government was too big nor any regulation too outrageous.

When Marc Short, Trump’s Director of Legislative Affairs, was given the mike at the White House press conference on Wednesday, he spoke at length about the president’s aggressive use of the CRA to turn back a few of the many hundreds of burdens applied to businesses by the previous administration. Before taking questions Short said:

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AG Sessions Requests Delay in Implementing Baltimore PD’s Consent Decree

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, April 4, 2017:

Baltimore Police Department

Eight days before the end of the Obama administration, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the final approval of an agreement allowing the Department of Justice to meddle in the affairs of the Baltimore Police Department. It only required approval from a judge for the agreement to become cemented into place.

Trump’s new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, asked the judge, U.S. District Judge James Bredar, to delay making his decision for 90 days so that the Justice Department, now operating under new guidelines from the president, could have time to “review and assess” it before its implementation.

The request came just hours after Sessions issued a memorandum to his department’s lawyers to “ensure” that any such consent decrees

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Sessions Promotes “Project Exile” Solution to Gun Violence

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, March 20, 2017: 

Seal of the United States Department of Justice

Seal of the United States Department of Justice

While President Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in Richmond, Virginia, last week addressing federal, state, and local law-enforcement officials, he said he planned to promote a 20-year-old “solution” to gun violence: Project Exile: “We need to enforce our gun laws; we will put bad people behind bars,” he stated, adding that Project Exile is “a very discreet, effective policy” and that he will “promote it nationwide.”

If Project Exile worked so well 20 years ago in Richmond, why did the city back away from it in 2006? And why haven’t scores of other cities adopted it since then and praised its performance? Additionally, why have the NRA and the Brady Campaign endorsed it while groups such as Gun Owners of America (GOA) and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) have come out against it?

When it was initially implemented in 1997 in Richmond, the city had seen its murder rate skyrocket. In 1996, there were 112 murders, which put it in the top five cities in the country for its murder rate per thousand population. The next year Richmond experienced 140 murders.

The guiding principle of the project was to

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AG Jeff Sessions Needs a Refresher Course on the Bill of Rights

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, March 20, 2017:

United States Senate election in Alabama, 1996

AG Jeff Sessions

Less well known, perhaps, than the Second Amendment are the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, efforts by the founders to chain down the national government “from mischief.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions appears to need a refresher course in them, to wit:

The Ninth Amendment: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”; and

 

The Tenth Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

What Sessions appears to have forgotten is that law enforcement is to be left largely up to the states, closer to the people themselves, and thus easier to control. Communists, on the other hand, have been pointed in their attacks on local law enforcement, which keeps getting in the way of installing a national police force.

Speaking in Richmond, Virginia last week, Sessions addressed a gathering of federal, state, and local law enforcement officials and expressed his concerns about the rising rate of violent crime in the US over the past two years. He doesn’t think it’s an anomaly:

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Trump Preframes the Budget Conversation with His “Blueprint”

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, March 17, 2017: 

After reading Donald Trump’s Art of the Deal, “Peter W.” wrote how “The Donald” preframes a conversation with an opponent: “When he makes an opening bid, it is far away from where his deals end. It is a poker game with high stakes, and it is up to the other to negotiate a better position.”

That is what Trump and his OMB Director Mick Mulvaney offered on Wednesday: the opening bid in the budget conversation to take place later on this year. Mulvaney was very clear about that: “This Blueprint is not the full Federal budget, [but] it does provide lawmakers and the public with a view of the priorities of the President and his Administration.”

It also serves to warn the public – the American taxpayer who is the deeply interested third party in that conversation – that the budget is going to be much larger than the one Obama left his office with in 2017, which was $4.15 trillion.

It’s called “America First – A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” and it’s Trump’s attempt to set the parameters of the conversation with Congress after his full budget is released in late May. The strategy might have worked well for Trump – he brags that he successfully closed more than 100 real estate “deals” during his career – but dealing with 535 members of the House and Senate is, to put it mildly, going to be a different cup of tea.

Said Trump:

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Trump’s “Blueprint” Budget Is a Policy Statement; Real Budget to Follow

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, March 16, 2017:

English: Official portrait of US Rep. Mick Mul...

Mick Mulvaney. Trump’s OMB Director

President Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) unveiled “America First — A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” on Thursday, noting that the president’s actual budget will be released in May. President Trump and his OMB Director Mick Mulvaney joined in outlining the “blueprint” without disclosing hard numbers, revenue projections, or even an economic outlook to back it up. It was, in other words, a policy statement, with details to follow.

Said Trump:

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ObamaCare Replacement Plan Introduced in Congress

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, February 16, 2017: 

Official portrait of United States Senator (R-KY).

Senator Rand Paul

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Representative Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) introduced their ObamaCare Replacement Act (ORA) on Wednesday. It would simultaneously repeal nearly all of ObamaCare’s most onerous demands and mandates while opening up the health-insurance market to individuals to purchase, or not to purchase, coverage. The bill, S.222, might more appropriately be named the “Health Insurance Freedom to Purchase Act,” putting the decision to buy, or not to buy, coverage back in the hands of individual citizens and taking it out of the hands of the federal government.

Senator Paul said,

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Heritage Foundation Blames Obama Admin. for America’s Economic Decline

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, February 15, 2017:

The Heritage Foundation minced no words in commenting on its latest Index of Economic Freedom: America’s continuing decline is all Obama’s fault:

America’s standing in the index [now in 17th place, the lowest in history] has dwindled steadily during the Obama years. This is largely owed to increased government spending, [increased] regulations, and a failed stimulus program that enriched the well-connected while leaving average Americans behind.

For the ninth time in 10 years, America’s index has lost ground. Coming in above 80 in 2008, the United States’ current index is barely above 75, tying it with

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Not All Travel Bans Apply to Foreigners

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, February 8, 2017:

The federal government published the final rules on Monday on just how the Department of Transportation, the Department of State and the Internal Revenue Service, working together, can disrupt one’s plans to travel abroad:

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Kansas District Court Judge Throws Out State’s Second Amendment Protection Act

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, February 3, 2017: 

Two Kansans, Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler, engaged in the purchase and sale of a silencer in October 2015, believing they were exempt from the 1934 National Firearms Act’s requirements to register it and pay a $200 tax. They relied on the state’s Second Amendment Protection Act (SAPA) which holds:

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.