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: Lame Duck

The President is Rapidly Becoming Irrelevant

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, November 17, 2014:

Matthew Dowd, George W. Bush’s campaign strategist, saw it coming almost a month before the midterms, telling ABC News on September 15th that the president is “fast becoming irrelevant in Washington” and noting further that Obama was at precisely the same point George Bush was in 2005:

That point in time it was basically the beginning of the end of President Bush’s presidency.

 

I think the president [Obama] is a very big fan of history. He watched that go on with [Bush]. Unless the president changes his trajectory, he is on the road to irrelevancy.

He hasn’t, and he is. The Baltimore Sun used the “R” word (relevance) in its review of the demolition of the Democrats on November 4th:

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House Votes to Approve Keystone, for Ninth Time

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 17, 2014:

Keystone XL demonstration, White House,8-23-20...

Keystone XL demonstration

In the first major vote in the House during the current lame duck session, on Friday a bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline passed by a vote of 252-161. In an ironic twist, the bill — the ninth one approving Keystone — was sponsored by Rep. Bill Cassidy, the Louisiana Republican facing Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu in a runoff election on December 6. Landrieu has been moving heaven and earth in the Senate to approve Keystone in an attempt to salvage her career.

Said Cassidy:

Here we are on the ninth attempt. It has been 539 days, about a year and a half, since the House first sent a Keystone approval bill to the Senate in this Congress. We are going to make it as easy as possible for the Senate to finally get a bill to president’s desk.

And there it will die, if it makes it that far, as President Obama has repeatedly stated. Which raises the question:

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Obama Way Over His Head at the APEC Summit

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, November 14, 2014:

Xi Jinping 习近平

Xi Jinping. China’s “Paramount Leader”

Nowhere was President Obama’s shrinking influence in world affairs more apparent than when he opened the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing earlier this week by announcing an “agreement” with China’s “paramount leader,” Xi Jinping, to extend visas in both countries from one year to ten. The enhancements will have little real world impact but they served to give Obama the appearance of being a player.

A U.S. visa only serves as preliminary permission to seek admission to the United States. Final admission remains, as it always has, in the hands of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer who, after questioning and investigation of the nonimmigrant’s purposes, will then issue a Form I-94. That form serves as the official government document authorizing the alien’s stay in the country.

Nevertheless, Obama made the most of it:

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Obama Offers Extended Visas to Chinese at APEC Summit

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, November 13, 2014:

In an effort to shore up his shrinking political influence following the shellacking the Democrat Party took in last week’s midterm elections, President Obama offered a modest bouquet to China’s “paramount leader” at the opening of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing on Monday. He touted the tentative agreement he and China’s President Xi Jinping had come to concerning visas issued by each country.

As of November 12th, the United States will start granting visas to Chinese visitors that are valid for up to 10 years instead of just one. That this was just an opening bid in the game populated by card sharks was clear from Obama’s initial remarks:

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Harry Reid’s Final Infliction

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, November 7, 2014:

Criticisms of Harry Reid fill one-and-a-half pages of his own Wikipedia entry. Imagine how many others he failed to mention. He earmarked funds to build a bridge close to land that he owned while calling it “incredibly good news for Nevada.” He failed to note that it was also incredibly profitable for himself.

He used campaign funds to buy Christmas gifts for the staff at the condominium where he lives. He pressured regulatory agencies to promote the business interests of one of his business partners, Harvey Whittemore, who also just happened to be a major campaign contributor.

And so on.

His final infliction on the American people is likely to take place over the next couple of months

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The Dangers Lurking in the Upcoming Lame Duck Congress

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, October 6, 2014:

In anticipation of the Republican sweep in the elections on Tuesday, Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in September warning him not to offer any significant legislation during the lame duck session following the elections. Knowing Reid, they presumed the worst from him:

Presumably, a lame duck session would be used [by you] to try to pass partisan, unpopular bills in November or December that might be indefensible before the … election….

 

Deliberately planning to reconvene the Senate in a lame-duck session to address major new legislation would subvert the will of the American people, lessen accountability and do lasting damage to the dignity and integrity of this body’s proceedings.

Libertarian economist Donald Boudreaux no doubt thinks Lee and Cruz have understated the danger:

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Obama: A Law unto Himself

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, July 2, 2014:

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Events of recent months have clearly revealed Barack Obama for what he is: a revolutionary progressive determined to change the United States into a fascist system of controls over every aspect of a citizen’s life. In spite of a recent series of events that would have humiliated and shamed a less committed totalitarian into silence and withdrawal, Obama instead has pressed on with his agenda.

On Saturday, in his weekly press conference, Obama announced that he was taking things into his own hands:

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VIDEO: Postal Employees are Getting Nervous

And well they might. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is running up huge deficits (sound familiar?) and making its employees nervous (again, does this sound familiar?). At least he’s willing to talk about it. Here’s the link to his latest video of pacification and explanation to those nervous employees:

He says “You will get paid.” If you’re a contractor, “you will get paid.” Why? “Because the mail must be delivered.”

He also thinks the long-run problem of chronic deficits will be solved. “We are working on it.” On what? On getting the federal government (I thought the USPS was a private corporation – isn’t that what we’ve been told? My bad.) to bail them out. He hopes that the lame duck session will do something before the end of the year, to keep those paychecks coming.

He wants to cut services – no Saturday deliveries. He wants “freedom” to add new services, new products that would fit into the present business “model”.  The only problem is: the model is broken and can’t be fixed. How do we know? Because it’s a government agency and is not driven by the profit-making model. It’s clueless, by design. It can’t know if it’s working without the free market telling him it’s working, or not.

So he’s going to punt the issue to Washington: the ultimate bailout strategy. Until Washington runs out of money.

Double-Digit Unemployment May Be the New Normal

AMERICAN PROPAGANDA POSTERS: OBAMA JOBS

(Photo credit: printthetruth)

After parsing the unemployment report that was issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Friday, November 2nd, two scholars at the Heritage Foundation, Rea Hederman and James Sherk,  concluded that at the present jobs growth rate it could take another five years for a full jobs recovery to occur from the Great Recession. That would place the recovery after the next presidential election in 2016 and nearly ten years after the start of the recession in December 2007.

Noting that 125,000 new jobs must be created every month just to keep up with population growth, they turned to the “jobs calculator” offered at the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and asked it to determine how long it would take for job growth to return to normal, based on the average job growth over the past three months (170,000). The answer: the summer of 2017.

This assumption that future job growth would be maintained at that rate is laden with so many difficulties and subject to so many unknowns as to call the entire exercise into question. This is called “straight line thinking in a curvilinear world,” or, put another way, this assumes that the future will look like the past. It probably won’t.

For instance, there is the “fiscal cliff” and the great uncertainty about how the lame duck congress will deal with it, if they deal with it at all. Great speculation abounds about various scenarios but each concludes that

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Debt Ceiling Likely to be Raised Without Fanfare This Time

English: at CPAC in .

Grover Norquist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Near the end of the Treasury Department’s Quarterly Refunding Statement, issued on Wednesday, October 31st, Assistant Secretary Matthew Rutherford included the following ominous paragraph:

Treasury continues to expect the debt limit to be reached near the end of 2012.  However, Treasury has the authority to take certain extraordinary measures to give Congress more time to act to ensure we are able to meet the legal obligations of the United States of America. We continue to expect that these extraordinary measures would provide sufficient “headroom” under the debt limit to allow the government to continue to meet its obligations until early in 2013.

These are the words that triggered the debt ceiling crisis in the summer of 2011 when recalcitrant House members, honoring their Taxpayer Protection Pledge, drew a line in the sand and threatened a shutdown of the government unless the White House caved in and permitted spending cuts in the future in exchange for an immediate raise in the ceiling. Those “spending cuts in the future” are part of the “fiscal cliff” facing the lame duck congress following the election on Tuesday.

Since August 2nd, when the Budget Control Act of 2011 was signed into law, the debt ceiling has been incrementally raised to its current level, $16.4 trillion. With October’s deficit of $195 billion pushing the national debt to $16.2 trillion, the clock is ticking on the inevitable limit being reached well before

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The Not-So-Lame Duck Session

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 12, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Phyllis Schlafly, a long-time activist and freedom fighter, just turned 88 in August, and is just as vigorous and vociferous in her views as ever. One of her concerns is that the lame duck session of the Senate could vote to approve one or more of those vicious UN treaties that haven’t been getting much attention in the mainstream media. Schlafly knows the score, and who’s behind the push:

The globalists have been plotting to use the volatility of this lame-duck session to achieve some of their internationalist goals that they couldn’t get passed during the last four years. In particular, they would like to lock us into treaties that slice out various parts of our national sovereignty, a concept that they have been trying to promote as obsolete.

One of the major pieces of a national sovereignty which the “globalists” consider as obsolete – actually more of an an impediment – is the Second Amendment:

The globalists could make a surprise treaty push for ratification of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (UNATT). This treaty is coming under the radar since gun control advocates know it could never pass the U.S. Senate after debate in broad daylight.

The gun control advocates assume that private ownership of guns is inherently dangerous. They hope they can achieve their goal of prohibiting private ownership by the covert strategy of a treaty with vague language, and, so far, they have been successful in avoiding media attention.

But this isn’t the only treaty that could be presented to

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Fiscal Cliff Causing Flurry of Tax Moves

A portrait of George Lucas, Pasadena, Californ...

A portrait of George Lucas, Pasadena, California, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Small business owners, some of whom have spent their lifetimes building their businesses, are unloading them before the end of the year in order to save taxes. With taxes on capital gains increasing by almost 60 percent on January 1st, Bert Wolf decided to sell his compressed-gas business, Acetylene Oxygen Company in Harlingen, Texas. It wasn’t in his plan to sell, but the offer from Praxair, and the uncertainty about what congress might, or might not, do during the upcoming lame duck session to avoid the fiscal cliff, made it too good to resist: “It just made more sense for me to take my chips off the table and go do something else.” Besides, the increase is so onerous that, if he had decided to keep the business, it would take him “at least 3 or 4 more years [of building the business] to achieve the same after-tax sales dollar.”

The current capital gains tax rate is 15 percent but in January it is scheduled to increase to 20 percent, plus the Obamacare tax of 3.8 percent added on top brings it to 23.8 percent, a jump of 58 percent. Even if a lame duck Congress extends the present rate of 15 percent, there is no conversation in Washington about repealing the Obamacare tax, so at best capital gains taxes will increase by 25 percent after the first of the year.

John Emerick, one of the owners of IM Solutions LLC, an online marketing company that focuses on the legal profession, calculated that if they waited to sell until 2013, it would cost him $1 million out of his share:

It was pretty clear to us that it made more sense for us to pull the trigger early. For me—I’m 49—I’m thinking I might not earn that much for the rest of my life. The earnings for the rest of my life would be equivalent to the tax I’d be paying by waiting until 2013.

George Lucas, the founder and chairman of Lucasfilm, best known for developing the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, no doubt did the math and decided to

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Taxmageddon Only Part of the Problem

Explosion

Explosion (Photo credit: Freidwall)

The Heritage Foundation went to the trouble of calculating exactly what will happen to the tax liabilities of taxpayers if Taxmageddon stays in place after the first of the year. Accordingly to Amy Payne, “Taxmageddon” is the

horrifying combination of expiring pro-growth tax policies from 2001 and 2003, the end of the once-temporary payroll tax cut, and just a few of Obamacare’s 18 new tax hikes…

Taxmageddon will be the largest tax increase EVER to hit Americans. It’s nearly $500 billion in one year, starting January 1. That’s two months away.

Here is Heritage’s breakdown of Taxmageddon’s impact on Americans:

  • Families with an average income of $70,662: tax increase of $4,138
  • Baby boomers with an average income of $95,099: tax increase of   $4,223
  • Low-income workers with an average income of $24,757: tax increase of $1,207
  • Millennials with an average income of $23,917: tax increase of $1,099
  • Retirees with an average income of $42,553: tax increase of $857

But even this fails to measure the real impact of Taxmageddon starting January 1. It’s that most of the tax increases will be borne by s

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If Obama Wins, He’ll Be the Lamest Duck in History

English: Rutherford B. Hayes (October 4, 1822—...

Rutherford B. Hayes (October 4, 1822—January 17, 1893), 19th President of the United States and 29th and 32nd Governor of Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dan McLaughlin, writing at RedState.com on Monday, brought up a very good point: What if Obama loses the popular vote but wins in the Electoral College? He’ll be an emasculated duck.

Barack Obama is trying to do something no president has ever done: get re-elected without winning the national popular vote.  If he were to somehow succeed at this, he would be the weakest elected president since Rutherford B. Hayes, and the lamest lame duck in American history.

If we are to believe Intrade, here’s how things will look next Wednesday: House of Representatives solidly Republican, Senate solidly Democratic, and Obama as president. But if he loses the popular vote (Intrade doesn’t distinguish between the two), he’ll be frozen into place – emasculated is a good word – unable to

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Preliminary GDP Report a Nasty October Surprise

Cash

Cash (Photo credit: bfishadow)

The preliminary report on the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) issued on Friday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) was called a “nasty October surprise” by James Pethokoukis at the American Enterprise Institute. On its face the report noted that the nation’s economic output during the third quarter exceeded economists’ expectations, growing at an annualized rate of 2 percent when it was expected to grow at only 1.7 percent. This was a significant jump from the second quarter which notched a poor 1.3 percent annualized rate of growth.

But Pethokoukis, an expert at parsing such reports, found little about which to rejoice. For instance, the economy has only averaged 2.2 percent annual growth since the Great Recession  officially ended in June 2009 and Friday’s report showed essentially no change from that average. In fact, when this year’s first quarter and second quarter growth rates are averaged, the economy grew at 1.65 percent, triggering the distinct probability, according to Pethokoukis, of another slip into recession.

Relying on data from both the Federal Reserve and Citigroup, Pethokoukis offered three reasons why another recession is likely: 

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The Inevitable Tax Increase No One Is Talking About

Social Security (play)

Social Security (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s zero likelihood that this tax increase will be stopped. No one wants to talk about it. It has been avoided in the debates like the plague. No politician who I know of has mentioned it. It has public support from those who are dependent on it. Resistance is futile.

It’s the Social Security payroll tax increase that happens on January 1st – the end of the two-year “tax holiday” that was designed to give relief and stimulate the economy. It didn’t and it hasn’t and so it will come:

A temporary reduction in Social Security payroll taxes is due to expire at the end of the year and hardly anyone in Washington is pushing to extend it. Neither Obama nor Romney has proposed an extension, and it probably wouldn’t get through Congress anyway, with lawmakers in both parties down on the idea.

Those representing the recipients support the increase, naturally:

They are backed by powerful advocates for seniors, including AARP, who adamantly oppose any extension.

My dad referred to the AARP as “the old folks’ labor union.”  It sells insurance to its members. In 2008 it received $650 million in royalties and another $120 million in advertising from various insurance companies who sell Medicare supplements and long-term care plans to its members. Its membership is 40 million. Its political clout is

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Fiscal Cliff, Fiscal Gap, Lame Duck Congress

Lame Duck

Lame Duck (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

Private congressional conversations about how to keep the country from racing off the fiscal cliff in January are already taking place in Washington, but few are willing to give many details. With the promise of anonymity, congressional staffers from both sides of the aisle are working feverishly to come up with solutions to the onrushing fiscal train wreck.

Investigator Richard Rubin, writing for Bloomberg, said the Republicans are building a “toolbox” of options — including raising taxes — that could be used during the lame duck session following Election Day. Which tools will be used depends on how the elections turn out. Likewise, Democrat staffers are developing their game plans as well, but tax cuts are not in their “toolbox” according to unnamed parties familiar with the discussions.

Which tools each side will be using depends upon if the Democrats retain control of the Senate and the White House, but fail to gain control of the House. If Romney wins, and the Senate goes Republican, then

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“Fiscal Cliff” Already Slowing the Economy

English: A closeup of the fireball and mushroo...

Mushroom cloud (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Patrice Hill of the Washington Times makes a very good point:  the impact of the so-called “fiscal cliff” – Taxmageddon – is already being felt in the economy. People are frightened about the future, and so they are hunkering down.

And it’s no wonder. Here’s what the “cliff” looks like:

  • reductions in itemized deductions and personal exemptions
  • increases in taxes on capital gains and dividends
  • the marriage penalty returning
  • estate tax reinstated
  • increase in the payroll tax
  • cuts in unemployment benefits
  • child tax credit cut in half
  • 10 percent cut in military spending
  • 8 percent cut in discretionary government spending

And these are just a few of what happens on January 1st if Congress does nothing about them.

Please understand that this is not a plea for Congress to “do something”! It’s just an iteration of

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Taxmageddon Confrontation Has Already Begun

Taxes

Forty-one Senate Republicans sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last week urging him and Senate Democrats to start addressing “taxmageddon”—the impending tax hikes that will drain $500 billion out of the economy every year starting January 1st, unless something is done:

It is essential that Congress and the president address these coming tax increases this summer, rather than creating additional uncertainty for families and job creators by waiting until the last possible minute. The time to begin is now.

[If nothing is done] this would be, without any exaggeration, the largest tax increase in American history.

House Speaker John Boehner, on ABC’s This Week, added:

We’re looking at the largest tax increase in American history on January the 1st. We’re looking at big cuts to our Department of Defense. And we’re looking at an increase in the debt limit. Why do we want to wait to rush this through at the end of the year after the election?

Speaking for the Democrats, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) drew the line in the sand

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Boehner Fires First Salvo in Taxmageddon Wars

U.S. President is greeted by Speaker of the Ho...

House speaker John Boehner decided on Tuesday to fire the first round in the coming battle to deal with the huge tax increases taking place after the first of the year (“Taxmageddon”) by setting the terms for the debt ceiling debate. In a speech at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s 2012 Fiscal Summit in Washington Boehner said that any discussion would revolve around his “Boehner principle”—every dollar of additional debt increase for the federal government must be matched by an equal or greater reduction in government spending.

Said Boehner:

When the time comes, I will again insist on my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase. This is the only avenue I see right now to force the elected leadership of this country to solve our structural fiscal imbalance…

Just so we’re clear, I’m talking about real cuts and reforms—not these tricks and gimmicks that have given Washington a pass on grappling with its spending problem…

Previous Congresses have encountered lesser precipices with lower stakes and made a beeline for the closest lame-duck escape hatch. Let me put your mind at ease. This Congress will not follow that path, not if I have anything to do with it.

Democrats immediately fired back. White House spokesman Jay Carney called Boehner’s remarks as inviting brinkmanship similar to that last summer that resulted in an increase of the debt ceiling along with some future spending cuts. Said Carney: 

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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.