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

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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Romney Expected to “Reassure” NRA on Second Amendment

Summer's End. Lexington Green, 11 September 20...

On Friday, April 13, apparent Republican front-runner Mitt Romney will address the national convention of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in St. Louis where a nervous audience will seek “reassurance” on his stand on the Second Amendment. Said NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam, “I think what the members are looking for is reassurance. I think they are looking for a statement of support for the Second Amendment from Gov. Romney and we are confident that is what we will get.” Words of such support from Romney may be enough to persuade doubters to vote from him if he gets the Republican Party’s nomination.

Joe Tartaro, president of the Second Amendment Foundation, says the alternative would be a disaster: “If President Obama is re-elected as a lame duck there would be no political restraints on him.” He would be free, according to Tartaro, to push through a long list of anti-gun measures just waiting to be enacted, including reinstatement of the federal “assault-weapons” ban that expired in 2004.

Democrats defending Obama say he has no such agenda. Matt Bennett, an official in the Clinton administration and now head of the progressive think tank Third Way, said “There is zero appetite for new gun laws in Congress, and the president cannot act on his own.” Alan Gottlieb, the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, disagreed, reminding Bennett that Obama’s expanded use of executive orders are likely to impinge on those gun rights regardless of lack of “appetite” for such measures in Congress. Obama could use executive orders to curb the import and export of guns and ammunition, for example. And, given the opportunity, Obama could try to pack the courts with judges favorable to further restrictions on the Second Amendment. Said Gottlieb:

With all the Second Amendment litigation going on right now, if Obama is able to stack the courts with his kind of judges, he basically will be slamming the courthouse doors in the face of gun owners.

Some observers are expressing doubt that Romney, if elected, will be any better. In 2007 David Kopelwriting for National Review, questioned Romney’s veracity about his claim to being “a hunter pretty much all my life” when it was learned later that he had

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$5 Trillion Tax Hike Coming

Barack Obama addressing a joint session of Con...

Back in February when the Congress voted to extend the payroll tax “holiday” to the end of the year, the Washington Post was the first to notice the tsunami of tax increases coming next year. But then Lori Montgomery began to add up all the other taxes that will increase on January 1, 2013, and called it “Taxmageddon.”

Here is a partial list of taxes that will increase unless Congress intervenes:

  • The 2001 and 2003 Bush “tax cuts” expire
  • Taxes on investment income
  • Estate and gift taxes
  • Income taxes
  • Marriage penalty returns
  • Child credit drops
  • Taxes on first $8700 of wages increase by 50 percent
  • Payroll taxes go from 4.2 percent back to 6.2 percent

But that is only a start. The Heritage Foundation did an in-depth analysis of all the tax increases scheduled for next year and found that Lori forgot some:

  • The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) will increase in size and reach
  • Five new Obamacare taxes will start
  • Some 50 “tax extenders” will go away
  • Small business owners can no longer write off business equipment purchases immediately

Adding them all together, the total is $500 billion. And that’s just in 2013. Over the next decade, the tax increases will exceed $5 trillion.

The effect of this tidal wave is already having a dampening effect on the economy. Curtis Dubay, the author of the Heritage study, wrote:

Families, businesses, and investors need to know how much tax they will pay in the future before making important economic decisions. The uncertainty caused by Taxmageddon means they are stuck in neutral while they wait for President Obama and Congress to act. This is slowing job creation and stopping many of the millions of unemployed Americans from going back to work.

Sucking half a trillion dollars out of the economy is going to have a severe negative impact on growth. Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics estimates that the nation’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) would be reduced by at least

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CNBC Takes Aim at Remington

Remington 700 LTR

Image by eston via Flickr

The CNBC “Remington Under Fire” documentary that premiered October 20 misfired in terms of substantiating allegations that the trigger mechanism on Remington’s highly popular 700 series is unsafe. Instead, the “10-month investigation” essentially rehashed charges, allegations and complaints stretching back into history for years. The timing for the recycling of unsubtantiated charges was curious, considering the proximity of the program’s release to the elections.

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Liberal House Veteran Dingell Expects to Keep His Seat

John Dingell

Image via Wikipedia

In an election year when it appears no incumbent is safe, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) is on cruise control. He even pooh-poohs the latest poll showing him 4 points behind his newcomer challenger, Rob Steele. Dingell is the longest serving member of the House and, at age 84, sports a Freedom Index rating of just 5 out of 100.

Representing a district near Detroit with a strong union influence, Dingell has usually won reelection with more than 60 percent of the vote. And he could be reelected again, except for a few troubling details. Michigan’s unemployment rate is the second-highest in the country, he voted for much of the Obama agenda including ObamaCare, and many this year consider “incumbent” a four-letter word.

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Stuffing the Lame Duck Congress

Interview with a Stuffed Duck

Image by di_the_huntress via Flickr

In their haste to leave Washington and attempt to rescue whatever might be left of their political careers, politicians put off until a lame-duck session any serious discussion of last-minute agenda items. And many of those aren’t expected to see the light of day at the post-election session set to being November 15, according to The Hill. Alexander Bolton wrote that “Democrats will be hard-pressed to pass even a small part of their lame-duck agenda.”

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Reid’s Lame Duck Session: Just Mopping Up?

Photograph of a toddler holding a mop with a b...

Image via Wikipedia

Last Tuesday, September 7, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he intended to focus the current lame duck session on “mopping up” leftovers from the previous session, these included a national renewable energy policy, a small business jobs bill, and another stimulus bill. Reid said, “We are still going to be in Congress, working, after the election…There are things that we have to do. There is a lot of mopping up to do.” Reid failed to mention one small item that his lame duck session is determined to ignore altogether: the Bush “tax cuts” which are set to expire without Congressional action by the end of the year.

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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.