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

CBO Update: Trillion-dollar Deficits to Arrive Two Years Sooner

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, April 10, 2018: 

According to the latest report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), released on Monday, the U.S. economy is going great guns. But that growth, no matter how robust, will never catch up with government spending. Hence, despite that growth, annual deficits of a trillion dollars will arrive two years sooner than originally projected.

That previous projection, made by the CBO last June, showed a deficit of $563 billion for 2018, rising to $689 billion next year. Now, with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act behind them, the CBO projects this year’s deficit to be $804 billion and next year’s to be just a touch below a trillion dollars, at $981 billion.

The CBO is considered by many to be less partisan than most government entities and as likely to create more accurate projections than those coming from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). It covered itself with this disclaimer:

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Trump Launches First Salvo in Trade War

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, January 23, 2018: 

Seal of the United States International Trade ...

Seal of the United States International Trade Commission.

Following the announcement by the White House on Monday that it was imposing tariffs and import quotas on solar panels and washing machines, effective immediately, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer rejoiced: “The president’s action makes clear again that the Trump administration will always defend American workers, farmers, ranches, and businesses.” This view was confirmed by a White House trade official who told reporters:

If you look at solar closely, you have a clear example of Chinese trade policy propping up an industry, creating excess capacity in an industry [causing] significant harm to the United States and globally as well.

He assured reporters that this isn’t just about washing machines coming from South Korea or solar panels from China, either:

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Opening ANWR to Energy Development May Be Too Late

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, December 20, 2017: 

Part of the motivation by Republicans to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to energy development — off limits for nearly 40 years thanks to environmental extremists and the Obama administration — is to use lease fees to offset the deficits in the tax reform bill.

The numbers coming from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) are impressive. Leasing even a tiny part of the tiny part that “Section 1002” represents of the total ANWR acreage would produce $2.2 billion in revenues over the next 10 years, to be split evenly between Alaska and the federal government.

Alaska’s Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said in a speech on the floor of the Senate late Tuesday night that

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November’s Federal Deficit 11 Percent Ahead of Last Year’s

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, December 13, 2017:

Buried in the latest report from the Department of the Treasury is this nugget: Through the first two months of the fiscal year, which began on October 1, the deficit (the difference between revenues and spending) was 11 percent higher than the same two months last year. And this despite revenues (taxes from individuals and corporations) setting records. The $433 billion the government collected in October and November was $13 billion more than it collected in the same period last year, and $11.3 billion more than it collected the year before.

In those two months,

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Treasury Department: $666 Billion Deficit; Sixth-highest in History

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, October 23, 2017:  

The federal government ran a deficit of $666 billion in 2017, reported the U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday, thanks mainly to increases in budget items that supposedly can’t be cut: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the national debt. In addition, military spending is due for substantial increases under the Trump administration.

Translation:

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Congressional Democrat Takes a Knee to Protest Trump

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, September 26, 2017:

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who represents the liberal 18th Congressional District in central Houston, took a knee on the House floor on Monday. She claimed she was protesting the president’s calling for the firing of NFL players who refused to stand during the playing of the national anthem. She claimed she was in “solidarity” with them, and called the president’s comments “racist.”

Lee does that. A lot. To Lee, who is black, nearly everything that anyone does is racist, or can be twisted into making it sound racist. Lee has made a fool of herself ever since she was elected to the House in 1994 and immediately joined both the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Here’s what the president said that provided Lee with the opportunity. He was speaking at a political rally on Friday:

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Most Aid to Hurricane Victims Is Private, Not Government

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, September 15, 2017: 

English: Jacksonville, Fla. (Oct. 24,2005) - T...

When asked where to send money to help the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) administrator Brock Long referred them to the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD)’s website, NVOAD.org. NVOAD is nearly 50 years old, a coalition of private, mostly Christian or faith-based, groups that specializes in helping victims recover from natural disasters. It was founded in the aftermath of Hurricane Camille, which hit the Gulf Coast in August 1969.

The seven founding members were

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Justice Department Closes File on Officers Charged in Freddie Gray Case

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, September 13, 2017:

In a press release issued late Tuesday the Justice Department announced its decision not to prosecute six officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray in 2015:

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Anti-gun Researcher Frightened by How Many Guns Americans Own

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, September 5, 2017:

Image of the Bill of Rights (United States Con...

The virulently anti-gun group The Trace sent an e-mail blast to its members last week, alerting them to what it said was the danger of an overly and unnecessarily armed American citizenry:

Jennifer Mascia [a member of “TeamTrace”] pulled some numbers from the Small Arms Survey, which gauges gun stockpiles in the hands of civilians, law enforcement, and militaries around the world. She found that with an estimated 270 million firearms owned by everyday Americans, civilians own 70 times more weapons that all police and military services combined.

Mascia is an editorial assistant at the New York Times and was a regular contributor to its anti-gun column “The Gun Report” until it was shut down in 2014. Her source, the Small Arms Survey, is an international anti-gun group purporting to provide accurate statistics on all aspects of private gun ownership worldwide. Unfortunately, its reputation for accuracy has been tainted, with much of its reporting being challenged as “misleading or just plain wrong.”

In this instance, however, the numbers Mascia dug up from the outfit actually understated the “concerns” she expressed about how many firearms are owned by those “everyday Americans.” The real number isn’t 270 million — not even close — but is at least

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Trump’s Pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio Sends a Strong Message

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Saturday, August 26, 2017:

speaking in Phoenix, Arizona on February 26, 2011.

President Trump pardoned former Maricopa County (Arizona) sheriff Joe Arpaio (shown), the White House announced Friday evening: “Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,″ the statement said. “Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”

For his part, the veteran sheriff was grateful but called his conviction the result of unceasing efforts by the Obama administration to silence him. In one tweet, Arpaio said:

Thank you @realdonaldtrump for seeing my conviction for what it is: a political witch hunt by holdovers in the Obama justice department!

And in another:

I am humbled and incredibly grateful to President Trump. I look fwd to putting this chapter behind me and helping to #MAGA

Arizona Senator John McCain was ambivalent about the presidential pardon:

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Inspector General Says the IRS is Rehiring People Who Were Fired for Illegal Behavior

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, August 22, 2017: 

Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Ser...

Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS ignored a report issued in December 2014 by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) that revealed that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was rehiring people it had previously fired for misconduct. That misconduct included failure to file and pay their own income taxes, falsifying documents, and theft of and illegal use of sensitive taxpayer information. What’s to keep the IRS from ignoring that report’s update, released in late July?

The latest report from the TIGTA scorned the IRS for continuing the practice:

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Sessions Links Chicago’s Mayor to City’s Crime, Calls Him a Dictator

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, August 18, 2017:  

This map shows the incorporated and unincorpor...

This map shows the incorporated and unincorporated areas in Miami-Dade County, Florida,

The decibel level in the war of words between Trump’s AG Jeff Sessions and Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel reached painful heights on Wednesday. At issue is illegal immigration, and harboring illegals or deporting them. The underlying issue is the conflict of power between the federal government and the states.

The Federalist considered the issue and concluded that immigration, legal or illegal, was a concern only of the states, and of no concern to the national government:

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Chicago Mayor Emanuel Files Suit to Block Federal Withholding of Grant Funds

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, August 7, 2017:

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (shown) announced over the weekend that he would be filing a motion to stop the federal government from withholding grant funds under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program. Municipalities such as Chicago receive this funding to help them fight crime. Lord knows, crime is rampant in Chicago. But federal funding, which Chicago has been receiving all along, does not necessarily mean less crime. It does mean, however, that the federal government, as the provider of the funding, may use the funding as leverage to get the recipients to do what the feds want them to do — in this case, upholding federal immigration laws.

After all, isn’t this simply a case of (to quote an old adage):

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Debt Ceiling Debate Charade Begins, Again

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, August 2, 2017:

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin warned Congress in a letter sent Friday that they had precious little time to raise the federal government’s debt ceiling before his department ran out of money. He even put a date on when that would happen if the ceiling wasn’t raised: “Based upon our available information, I believe that it is critical that Congress act to increase the nation’s borrowing authority by September 29.”

That’s the day before the end of the government’s fiscal year, and closely coincides with the moment when the Treasury will be unable to pay the government’s bills. The Treasury’s cash balances are expected to drop close to $25 billion in September, dangerously low when compared to the government’s budget of $4 trillion.

Mnuchin no doubt is referring to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released in June that reminded citizens that

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Ferguson Effect Continuing to Drive Gun Violence Even Higher

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, August 2, 2017:

Heather Mac Donald hasn’t been given nearly enough credit. The author of The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe published last summer answers the question: what is the root cause of the increasing gun violence in cities like Chicago, Newark, Detroit, Baltimore, and elsewhere?

It’s the Ferguson Effect: the increasing unwillingness of officers on the scene to intervene for fear of reprisals and bad publicity. Wrote Mac Donald: “Chicago officers have cut back drastically on proactive policing under the onslaught of criticism from the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and its political and media enablers.” The consequences are predictable: “Criminals are back in control and black lives are being lost at a rate not seen for decades.”

Popular Wisconsin Sheriff David Clarke praised Mac Donald:

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Trump, Sessions Increase Pressure on Sanctuary Cities

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, July 26, 2017:

English: U.S. Sanctuary Cities Map: cities tha...

U.S. Sanctuary Cities Map: cities that have adopted “sanctuary” ordinances

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions upped the ante on sanctuary cities on Tuesday by declaring that any state not complying with requests concerning illegal immigrants held in local jails will lose federal grant money. He stated:

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Disincentives Cut Food Stamp Use

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 24, 2017: 

The latest report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) over SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) reveals a sharp drop in participation in the program, touching lows not seen since before 2010. In 2016, 44 million Americans and immigrants (legal and illegal) took advantage of taxpayers’ largess, costing $71 billion. In 2010, there were 47 million receiving SNAP benefits, costing taxpayers closer to $80 billion.

The program, which began in 1969, has virtually exploded, from just two million that year (costing taxpayers a paltry $250 million) to a peak of 47.6 million in 2013, which cost taxpayers $79.9 billion.

Part of the decline is fueled by illegal immigrants fearing deportation if

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3,500 Colorado Voters Cancel Their Registrations in Protest

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 17, 2017:

Von Spakovsky

Hans von Spakovsky

When Colorado voters learned that their state is responding to President Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’s request for voter information, nearly 3,500 of them deregistered. The Hill made it political, claiming that they “have withdrawn their registrations … citing distrust of the [commission].” The news outlet also allowed that many didn’t know just how much of their personal information was already open to the public and, for whatever reason, decided to exercise their right to privacy.

The request from the commission stated simply that each state, and the District of Columbia,

provide all publicly-available voter roll data including, if publicly available under the laws of your state, the full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available, addresses, dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of Social Security number if available, [and] voter history from 2006 onward.

This was enough to trigger pushback and in some cases outrage at the obviously political overtones and implications of the request, in light of President Trump’s claim of voter fraud in the last election, and his selection of Hans von Spakovsky (shown) to the commission. Spakovsky’s initial appointment to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) by President George W. Bush back in 2005 was contested by Democrats and his nomination was withdrawn.

Some Democrats are claiming a witch hunt is taking place, and an effort to keep illegals from voting. As Alex Padilla, the Democrat activist who is California’s secretary of state, noted:

They’re clearly reached their conclusions already and have set up a commission to try to justify voter suppression measures being made nationally. It’s pretty shocking, the data request of a lot of personal information. I can’t even begin to entertain responding to this commission….

If you want to do [Russian President] Vladimir Putin a favor, put all of this personal voter information in one place, online, on the Internet.

Another Democrat who is also upset is Kentucky’s Secretary of State Alison Grimes, also echoed the “voter suppression” scheme of Padilla:

We don’t want to be a part of an attempt to nationalize voter suppression efforts across the state. Americans didn’t want, unanimously, a national gun registry, and they don’t want a national voter registry.

She added that the commission was “formulated on a sham premise” and violates states’ rights to run their own elections.

To hear von Spakovsky tell it, it’s all about the 2012 study done by the Pew Center on the States: “The whole point of this commission is to research and look at all of these issues, the issues the Pew study raised.” That study claimed that America’s voter registration system is “inaccurate, costly, and inefficient.” It also said the system “reflects its 19th century origins [which] has not kept pace with advancing technology and a mobile society.”

Its conclusions included these:

Approximately 24 million — one of every eight — voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate;

More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters; and

Approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.

Although the author of the study said it didn’t indicate voter fraud, “these findings underscore the need for states to improve accuracy, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency.”

The study, however, provided too great a temptation for the federal government to get involved — innocently involved, of course. Marc Lotter, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, claimed that the request was innocuous, and von Spakovsky claimed that opposition to the commission’s request was “bizarre” because the request only asks for information that is already publicly available. But Lotter let slip that the information would be “housed through a federally secure system”, adding that “this is nothing unusual.” (Emphasis added.)

This is a variation on the theme: “Trust us; we know what we’re doing. Go back to sleep.”

Instead of having the executive branch of the government get involved with vote-fraud investigating, which is unconstitutional, David Becker, a Pew director, has already organized a joint pilot project involving eight states to try to make their voter lists more accurate. Said Becker: “What this system will do is it will take in data from the states who choose to participate … and it will be matched … [with] national change of address data from the Postal Service.”

Note the words “who choose to participate” as opposed to the innocuous “request” from Trump’s commission that comes with the unspoken threat of force. According to von Spakovsky, federal statutes already give the public the right to inspect publicly available voter registration records, adding that the attorney general can demand copies of records related to federal elections, if it comes to that.

How much better to keep the federales out of the matter altogether, and let Becker’s pilot program accomplish the same thing.

Perhaps Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann from Mississippi has the right idea. In response to the commission’s “request”, he replied:

They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from.

CBO Raises Its Deficit, Debt Forecasts in Latest Revision

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, July 5, 2017:  

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) just revised its January report with new data on spending, revenues, and economic growth. The revision isn’t good:

The projected rise in [annual] deficits would be the result of rapid growth in spending for federal retirement and health care programs targeted to older people, and to rising interest payments on the government’s debt, accompanied by only moderate growth in revenue collections.

In other words, the CBO simply doesn’t believe that President Trump’s plans to reduce regulation, cut taxes, and repeal ObamaCare will amount to much. Instead the government programs on autopilot — Social Security, Medicare, and especially debt service on the country’s $20 trillion national debt — will eat up nearly 80 percent of the government’s total budget in less than 10 years. Said the CBO:

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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?

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