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: National Debt

Another Go at How Much We Owe

Have you ever wondered how much we as taxpayers actually owe because of commitments politicians have made on our behalf? Turns out, the answer is not as simple as you might think.

I.O.U.S.A.

I.O.U.S.A. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John C. Goodman has discovered how hard it is to make sense of the (often) nonsense parading as government statistics, especially concerning who owes how much to whom:

The place to start is with a report put out annually by the U.S. Treasury. There I learned that the federal government officially recognizes an outstanding debt of $17.5 trillion.

Ah, but that’s just the starting point, as bad as it is:

What about Social Security? It’s not on the list. What about Medicare? It’s not there either.

On further investigation, I found out why. “Social Security promises are part of current law and can be changed by Congress at any time,” I was told. Ditto for Medicare. And disability insurance. And survivors insurance. Etc. Etc. That’s a bureaucratic way of saying, “We can break those promises any time we want to.”

So there’s the accounting fiction. Thanks Mr. Goodman for ferreting it out for us. Because the promise can be broken at any time, it really isn’t

Keep Reading…

Reagan Budget Director Blasts Paul Ryan Budget

David Stockman

David Stockman (Photo credit: The Aspen Institute)

Calling potential Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget plan a “fairy tale,” David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s budget director from 1981 to 1985, took Ryan’s plan to task for not recognizing reality and for leaving behind the legacy of the GOP’s glory days when it reveled in touting small government.

Stockman said that Ryan’s plan to give tax cuts to “job creators” will do nothing to help create jobs, but instead will only put additional pressure on the middle class to come up with more revenues to fund the yawning federal deficit. Stockman conjured the images of “the true conservatives of modern times” like Herbert Hoover and Dwight Eisenhower who, if they were here, would decry the present GOP’s infatuation with what he calls “neoconservative imperialism” and the spending that goes along with it.

Ryan’s plan to push more of the Medicaid responsibility back onto the states through a voucher system is “hypocrisy,” according to Stockman, and merely postpones the reality of

Keep Reading…

Paul Ryan’s Political Football

Washington Times: Democrats slam Ryan as threat to social safety net

Democrats said Sunday that Mitt Romney, by picking Rep. Paul Ryan to fill out his presidential ticket, has set up this year’s election as a referendum on the deep cuts to the social safety net that the GOP’s top budget man says are needed to fix federal finances.

Rep. Paul Ryan

Rep. Paul Ryan (Photo credit: urbiefoto)

There are so many flaws and logical inconsistencies in this opening paragraph that I scarcely know where to begin! “Deep cuts?” What exactly is being cut? As I remember it, Paul Ryan’s plan was to let the states take more of a role in handling the financing of Medicare.

Paul Ryan’s plan is just “nibbling at the edges” of the massive yawning federal deficit. Remember that fedgov is only collecting about 60 percent of what it is spending, and borrowing the rest. And nearly all that phony borrowing is by the Fed, to cover up the fact that international investors (i.e., Japan and China) already have more US government debt than they want.

The other flaw is that the American people really care of the matter at all. I don’t think so: as long as the checks keep coming, what’s to worry? But the Romney campaign wants to take the “moral high ground” in the debate:

“We’re making a bet that Americans are more interested in a campaign that’s waged on real ideas, including entitlement reform, and that a campaign, a substantive campaign, conducted on the high ground, is going to trump the type of petty, negative politics that we’re hearing from Barack Obama,” Eric Fehrnstrom, a Romney campaign senior adviser, said on CBS‘ “Face the Nation.”

That isn’t likely. At least it doesn’t ring my chimes.

And I can’t leave without mentioning that Paul Ryan is no conservative—not in my book. He’s the one who, you remember, voted for the Patriot Act and Bush’s prescription drug plan—the one that promised benefits without bothering with the niceties of how to pay for it. To have him now suggest ways to pay for his profligacy is just a little too much for me. Sorry.

A Second Amendment Refresher

Michael Scheuer: To President Obama: The 2nd Amendment is about fighting tyranny, not hunting deer

At day’s end, then, the 2nd Amendment exists to permit American citizens to perform the “duty” Jefferson describes by resisting and defeating with arms a federal government that knowingly produces a “train of abuses and usurpations” that is designed “to reduce them under absolute Despotism.”

Tree Of Liberty

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” -Thomas Jefferson (Photo credit: CmdrGravy)

I’d never heard of Michael Scheuer, the author of this fine article, until today. His Wikipedia entry is seven printed pages long and tells us that he is a former CIA officer (who obviously decided to “come in from the cold”) and is currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Peace and Security. Normally that would make me nervous, but here it reinforces my belief that this guy knows what he’s talking about. Not everyone who teaches at Georgetown is a traitor, thankfully.

He posits a series of “what ifs” in his article, and then asks rhetorically, what would you do?

[What if] multiple U.S. presidents take the United States to war without the formal declaration of war irrefutably demanded by the U.S. Constitution, and then intentionally fail to win the wars they start and so kill thousands of America‘s soldier-children for nothing?

[What if] senior elected officials in both parties, as well as senior federal bureaucrats constantly leak highly classified intelligence information to advance their partisan interests and thereby knowingly undermine U.S. national security?

[What it] presidents and attorney generals from both parties pick and choose what laws they will enforce, in direct and flagrant violation of the oath to execute all laws that the Constitution mandates they swear on taking office?

[What if] the federal government so overspends the public treasury that the national debt can never be repaid, and that in funding the debt it also compromises U.S. independence and citizens’ economic well-being via massive borrowing from malign foreign powers and by exacting half-a-year’s wages from each American taxpayer?

Well, you get the idea. After exploring rhetorically several other “what ifs,” Scheuer gets to the point:

If the sorry day ever dawns when one or more of the above depredations occur, I would suggest Americans might well think about taking recourse to the arms guaranteed them by the 2nd Amendment, arms with which to defend their liberty, economic welfare, national independence, and their Constitution’s viability.

Thanks for the reminder, Mr. Scheuer. The Second Amendment, as they say, “ain’t about duck huntin’.”

Taxing the Rich Would Not Slow Economy, Says White House

Logo of the United States White House, especia...

Logo of the United States White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When President Obama’s tax plan was revealed, international accounting giant Ernst & Young (E&Y) was asked to analyze it by the National Federation of Independent Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. When the firm announced its conclusions that his plan would slow the weak economy even further, the White House attacked the study as containing “major flaws, errors and misleading statements.”

Obama’s tax plan is more than just “taxing the rich”—it contains a mixture of tax credits for hiring new employees, a mortgage credit, an “American Opportunity Tax Credit” to entice more young people to get into debt to fund their college educations, an increase in the child and dependent care tax credits, and an extension of and increase in the earned income tax credit.

It would also eliminate all income taxes for seniors with incomes less than $50,000 per year, and would temporarily eliminate income tax on unemployment insurance benefits—both clear political plays for the senior and unemployed vote in the November elections.

It also reinstates the estate tax and would eliminate “loopholes” for oil and gas firms, while providing tax credits for green “renewable” investments. It would create a watch list of international tax havens in order to force “greater financial disclosure” to discourage the use of tax shelters by the wealthy trying to avoid taxes.

But the centerpiece of Obama’s plan is allowing the Bush tax cuts on incomes, capital gains, and dividends for those making over $250,000 a year to expire—essentially a huge tax increase on those with capital. And that’s what the report’s authors, Drs. Robert Carroll and Gerald Prante, focused on: What impact would the imposition of those new taxes have on

Keep Reading…

Latest ADP Jobs Report Confirms Slowing Economy

Christine Lagarde

On Thursday, accounting firm ADP issued its National Employment Report noting that jobs in the non-farm private business sector increased by 176,000 in June. ADP’s CEO, Carlos Rodriguez, said, “It is encouraging to see companies creating jobs, particularly in the goods-producing sector where we see positive growth following two months of job loss.” Reuters jumped on the alleged positive news, calling it a “hopeful sign.”

Unfortunately, one month does not make a trend. When June’s numbers are compared to January’s, ADP’s total nonfarm private jobs growth has increased from 110 million to 110.9 million, a gain of 77-100ths of one percent, or about 142,000 new jobs each month. A closer look reveals that most of those jobs were in the highly volatile service sector, in small businesses, usually fast-food or similar businesses, known for their high turnover. In fact, the goods-producing sector gained just one half of one percent employment since January, translating into less than 16,000 job gains each month. These numbers are hardly a “hopeful sign,” but more reflective of an economy that has flat-lined.

Another report from the Department of Labor showed that new claims for unemployment insurance dropped by 14,000 last week to 374,000, the lowest level in six weeks. But that was offset by an upward revision from

Keep Reading…

Deficit to Top $1 Trillion for Fourth Straight Year

U.S. Total Deficits vs. National Debt Increase...

On Tuesday the Treasury Department announced that in May the federal government received tax revenues of $180.7 billion, the second highest for the month of May in history. Unfortunately, the government spent $305.3 billion, leaving a deficit of $124.6 billion. So far this year, deficits are at $844.5 billion and are on track to exceed $1 trillion for the fiscal year, the fourth year in a row.

Doing the math, the national debt is growing at a rate of more than $3 billion per day, or about $565 per household every month. At that rate the national debt will hit the debt ceiling of $16.4 trillion just a few days after the November election.

But the debt crisis is even larger than people think, according to a study by accounting giant Deloitte LLP. As the U.S. government sinks further into the sea of red ink, it’s going to get more expensive not only to sell its debt to fund those deficits, it’s going to cost more to refinance the debt it already has. In fiscal year 2011, interest payments on its debt cost the government $454 billion and so far, through May those payments have totaled $271 billion. Any slight increase in interest rates could result in

Keep Reading…

CBO Director: U.S. Accelerating Toward Economic Cliff

Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf testified on Wednesday before the House Budget Committee about the federal government’s “Long Term Budget Outlook.” His office just released its latest study which showed two scenarios: one bad, the other worse.

Said Elmendorf:

It is not possible to keep taxes at their [present level] and keep the laws unchanged for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid…

It is possible to keep taxes at their [present level] but only by making substantial cuts…in [those] large entitlement programs…

Alternatively, it is possible to keep…[those] large entitlement programs unchanged but only by raising taxes substantially on a broad group of Americans…

Even if spending on…other programs [outside the entitlement programs] fell to a smaller share of GDP than we’ve seen at any point since World War II, debt would still be on an unsustainable upward trajectory…

That’s what is facing Congress as 34 Senators and 435 members of the House are deep into their reelection campaigns. And all that Congress is likely to do is use Elmendorf’s comments and his office’s analysis as fodder for their constituents to help them keep their jobs.

A spokesman for likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said,

Keep Reading…

Congressional Budget Office Predicts Recession

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 26:  The Congressional Bu...

The latest report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released on Tuesday said that if the country falls off the “fiscal cliff”—variously also called “taxmageddon”—it will likely enter a new recession. With the ending of the Bush-era tax cuts, the termination of extended unemployment benefits, the reimposition of the payroll tax rates back up to 6.2 percent from the current 4.2 percent, and the “sequester” cuts in government spending demanded by the agreement that Congress hammered out last summer in order to raise the debt ceiling, the CBO predicts that the country’s Gross National Product (GNP) will go negative for at least two quarters, which is the classic definition of a recession.

But, adds the CBO, if Congress does nothing, the longer-term benefits could be significant: a lowering of the annual deficit by about $600 billion in the first year, and lower deficits in the out years. This would reduce the danger of spiraling interest costs on the $16.4-trillion national debt along with a lower risk of further credit downgrades of the government debt by various rating services. In other words, according to the CBO: pain now or pain later.

If, as is likely, the Congress just simply sits on its hands and waits until after the November election or January 20 when the next Congress takes over, the problem just gets worse. As the CBO notes: 

Keep Reading…

Congressional Budget Wrangling Continues

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn.

With the October 1st deadline for a budget for 2013 approaching rapidly the Republicans in the Senate yesterday forced a vote on five different budgets, and each was voted down. Four of them were presented by Republican senators, while the fifth was based on President Obama’s budget

None of them passed, including the president’s which was voted down unanimously, 99-0. Sen. Patrick Toomey’s (R-Pa.) plan garnered 42 votes while Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) captured 41 votes. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) saw his plan gather only 17 votes, just ahead of the plan offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky., right, Senate photo) which received 16 votes.

Toomey blamed the failures on Democratic intransigence, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called them all “stunt budgets.” Said Toomey:

My colleagues on the other side refuse even to debate our fiscal crisis, let alone introduce a fiscal blueprint for solving our country’s problems. Instead of lobbing political attacks at the ideas I and my Republican colleagues have put forward, it is incumbent upon the majority party to put forward ideas of its own. Anything less is a flagrant abdication of its governing responsibility.

Reid responded:

Democrats won’t agree to a one-sided solution that lets the superwealthy off the hook while forcing the middle class to bear all the hardship. These four stunt budgets all take that one-sided approach.

On the surface, Paul’s budget looks to be the most aggressive, with the budget projected to

Keep Reading…

French Elections: Austerity, No! More Spending, Yes!

François Hollande à Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire

By a three-point margin, French citizens replaced President Nicolas Sarkozy with the Socialist and Radical Left Party candidate, Francois Hollande. Hollande, a former mayor of Tulle (pop. 15,000) and then president of Correze (pop. 242,000), beat Sarkozy 51.9% to 48.1%, resulting in the first Socialist president of France since Francois Mitterand left that office in 1995. With Socialist Party majorities in the upper house of parliament and two-thirds of all French towns, a win by the party in the upcoming June elections in the lower house would give the Socialist Party “more levers of power than ever in its 43-year modern history,” according to NewsMax.com.

With such control, Hollande knows exactly what he is going to do: apply what France is already suffering from, only more so. He wants to spend more money even in the face of the agreement recently signed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to cut spending in order to save the banks and the euro. His campaign slogan, “Austerity is not inevitable,” Hollande is persuaded that he can do the impossible: spend more and balance the budget at the same time. He plans to:

Keep Reading…

The Budget Battle: Entitlements Staying, Taxes Going Up

When Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Chairman of the House Budget Committeesummarized his tax and spend plan, he used standard Republican rhetoric in explaining it.

He claimed, “Our budget

  • Cuts government spending to protect hardworking taxpayers;
  • Put[s] an end to special-interest favoritism and corporate welfare;
  • Reverses the President’s policies that drive up gas prices…;
  • Strengthens health and retirement security…[and]
  • Reforms our broken tax code to spur job creation and economic opportunity by lowering rates, closing loopholes, and putting hardworking taxpayers ahead of special interests.”

In his introduction to the bill, he inveighed images of the Founding Fathers, who no doubt would have heartily approved of his efforts: “The Founders [designed] a Constitution of enumerated powers, giving the federal government broad authority over only those matters that must have a single national response, while sharply restricting its authority to intrude on those spheres of activity better left to the states and the people.” By using his interpretation, rather any reference directly to what the Constitution actually says, Ryan then goes on to assure his party that

Keep Reading…

New Book, White House Burning, Reprises Old Keynesian Canards

U.S. Total Deficits vs. National Debt Increase...

On April 3 the book White House Burning, authored by two hard-core Keynesian economists and internationalists, will be released, and the noisy propaganda surrounding its publication has already begun in earnest.

According to the book store Barnes and Noble, which is discounting the $26.95 hardcover book to $17.96, though the national debt amounts to $30,000 for every individual in the country, the solution is easy: Stop treating debt as a moral issue and raise taxes. Says B and N, the authors “account for the debasement of our political system in the 1980’s and 1990’s (read: Reaganomics and the Laffer Curve), which produced today’s dysfunctional and impotent Congress.” But if something isn’t done soon,

The national debt will harm ordinary Americans by reducing the number of jobs, lowering living standards, increasing inequality, and forcing a sudden and drastic reduction in the government services we now take for granted….

They debunk the myth that such crucial programs as Social Security and Medicare must be slashed to the bone. White House Burning looks squarely at the burgeoning national debt and proposes to defuse the threat to our well-being without forcing struggling middle-class families and the elderly into poverty.

The authors, Simon Johnson (formerly the chief economist for the International Monetary Fund and now a professor at MIT) and James Kwak (associate law professor at the University of Connecticut and a fellow at Harvard Law), have based their book on a set of statist foundational principles about the role of government in a free society: More is better.

They explained in their introduction that when Alexander Hamilton, as Treasury Secretary, urged Congress to declare war on Great Britain in 1812, he put the responsibility for paying for it onto a reluctant Congress. Congress refused to raise taxes and the Treasury had to go begging to a private individual, Philadelphia banker Stephen Girard, to loan the money to pay for the war. This set the stage for the end of Hamilton’s Federalists (according to the authors) and the rise of Jefferson and Madison’s Democratic-Republican party. The authors then drew the parallels to today’s “dysfunctional” government, which is engaged in the same discussion: how to pay for

Keep Reading…

Obama Economic Recovery Still Underwater

President Barack Obama signs the Tax Relief, U...

For proof that the Obama “recovery” remains unimpressive compared to previous recoveries, Cato Institute scholar Dan Mitchell gathered evidence from a number of sources to make his point.

President Obama promised that at this point in the recovery unemployment would be down to six percent, but it remains stubbornly above eight percent if one believes the government numbers. At least five million people who lost their jobs in the recession are still unemployed or underemployed. The number of Americans living below the poverty level has set a new record. Government spending is virtually out of control with annual deficits now admitted to be above $1 trillion for the foreseeable future. Higher taxes are coming unless the Bush tax cuts are somehow permitted to remain in force. And the housing market is still looking for a bottom.

But according to President Obama everything is coming up roses: More than three million jobs have been created in the past two years and the Dow Jones Industrial Average just exceeded 13,000, nearly doubling from under 7,000 in March 2009.

Thanks to the Minneapolis Federal Reserve’s interactive website, the Obama recovery can easily be compared to (and contrasted with) 10 previous recessions all the way back to 1948. Whether looking at jobs or at economic output, the performance under Obama has lagged behind each of the previous recoveries very significantly. As noted by Mitchell, “Under Obama’s policies…we’ve just barely gotten back to where we were when the recession began…[and] the jobs chart is probably even more discouraging…. [It] is still below where it started.”

On February 2, 2012, Phil Gramm and Mike Solon wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

Never before in postwar America has…employment still been lower four years after a recession began….

If in this recovery our economy had grown and generated jobs at the average rate achieved during the 10 previous postwar recessions…13.7 million more Americans would be working today….

President Ronald Reagan’s policies ignited a recovery so powerful that if it were being repeated today…some 16.9 million more Americans would have jobs.

The negative impact of the Obama administration’s policies is also evident when America’s economic performance is compared to that of

Keep Reading…

CBO Report: U.S. Deficits “Unsupportable”

OBAMACARE WATCH:.....CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFI...

In the summary of its “Budget and Economic Outlook” published on Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) noted the supportability of deficit spending even under its “alternative” analysis. Noted the CBO: “Even if the fiscal policies specified by current law come to pass, budgetary challenges over the longer term remain—and the challenges will be much more acute if those policies do not remain in place.” It added:

Under both CBO’s baseline and its alternative fiscal scenario, the aging of the population and rising costs for health care will push spending for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health care programs considerably higher as a percentage of GDP. If that rising level of spending is coupled with revenues that are held close to the average share of GDP that they have represented for the past 40 years (rather than being allowed to increase, as under current law), the resulting deficits will increase federal debt to unsupportable levels.

In non-economic terms, then, the CBO is saying that no matter how one looks at the numbers, the United States is headed for disaster.

Using assumptions that current law remains in place—with the Bush tax cuts disappearing—revenues in 2013 and beyond will increase by an astonishing $800 billion, and yet even that enormous tax hike isn’t enough to close the gap between expenditures and taxes. The CBO even took into account that inflation will drive peoples’ incomes into higher tax brackets, subjecting more of their taxable income to higher rates of taxation, and still that wasn’t enough. In that “steady-state” scenario the national debt, currently pushing $16 trillion, would

Keep Reading…

Greeks About to Learn the True Cost of Bailouts

Ευάγγελος Βενιζέλος, συνέντευξη τύπου στα μέσα...

Greece’s Finance Minister, Evangelos Venizelosrejected the German idea of imposing a eurozone “overseer” as part of the agreement to keep bailout funds flowing to his country.

He said that the proposal, floated late last week as a condition for Greece to receive another $170-billion bailout from the European Central Bank, would force his country to choose between “financial assistance” and “national dignity.” He said that forcing Greece to accept such an overseer—with the power to veto Greek tax and spending decisions and make sure that debt service is paid before any other government expenditures—“ignores some key historical lessons.” An unnamed official privy to the conversation put it even more clearly: “If you went with that model, you’d do away with the normal democratic decision-making in a member state.”

Venizelos failed to be explicit about those “key historical lessons,” but the threat was clear: Here was Germany trying to enforce its version of financial austerity and “behavior” onto another sovereign nation, just as it did in the 1930s. It was also a reminder of the continuing failure of the EU, which was sold initially as a way to keep the German threat from rising again in the years following the Second World War.

Greece has so far been successful in negotiating a 70-percent “haircut” with private bondholders as part of the deal to bring its national debt down from the current 160 percent of Gross Domestic Product to an allegedly more manageable 120 percent by 2020. The bond holders will exchange their current bonds for new bonds that have 30 percent of the value of those they exchanged. They have agreed to take a loss of 70 percent of their original investment. But the Greek economy continues to languish, and its shortfall in tax revenues is widening rather than shrinking, putting into jeopardy another part of

Keep Reading…

Irony Alert: Keynesian Economists Rip Obama for Failed Keynesian Policies

English: Barack Obama speaking at a rally at t...

The results of a survey by the Associated Press of 36 Keynesian economists—economists who believe that government is the driving force behind a strong economy—are in: President Obama received just “mediocre marks” for his handling of the economy since his inauguration on January 20, 2009. Half of those surveyed rated his performance as “fair” while 13 rated it as “poor.” The remaining five gave the president a rating of “good.” None rated his performance as “excellent.” The survey included explanations for why his performance was so poor even though he has surrounded himself with Keynesians. Some said he didn’t do enough: The stimulus wasn’t big enough. William Cheney, chief economist at John Hancock Financial Services, said Obama’s administration “generally tried to take the right kinds of measures but [has] often failed to lead with enough vigor to overcome political obstacles.” Some said he tried to do too much and got distracted by hammering Congress into voting for his healthcare takeover. Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economics, said, “Health care wasn’t necessarily the most important thing to be dealing with when you’re in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression.” Others said he picked the wrong types of projects to fund, relying too much on public works that took too long to get going. Still others said the President just did the very best he could under the circumstances, noting that the Great Recession was well under way when he took office, and offering the bromide that even if his Keynesian policies didn’t perform as expected, at least he

Keep Reading…

Senator Tom Coburn’s Annual “Wastebook” Released

"Dr. Coburn and Senator Obama look over t...

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) introduced his annual report, “2011 Wastebook,” noting, “This report details 100 of the countless unnecessary, duplicative, or just plain stupid projects spread throughout the federal government and paid for with your tax dollars this year.” He added, “Over the past 12 months, Washington politicians argued, debated and lamented about how to reign [sic] in the federal government’s out of control spending. All the while, Washington was on a shopping binge, spending money we do not have on things we do not need, like the $6.9 billion worth of examples provided in this report.”

Of the 100 projects covered, three are especially egregious, and reflect the “spend spend spend” mentality prevalent in the halls of Congress. “The Super Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska is one of two projected bridges which became notorious during the 2008 presidential campaign.

The Knik Arm Bridge is designed to connect residents in the southern part of the Matanuska/Susitna Valley, or “MatSu,” with Anchorage, which would save them an hour’s driving time each way. The bridge would be 2.7 miles long and cost between $650 and $700 million (some estimates are much  higher). The only problem is that there are very few residents living in MatSu, hence the bridge is named in Coburn’s report. Corburn complained, “At least $15.3 million was spent on the project this year alone. In total, more than $65 million in federal taxpayer money has been directed to various aspects of the project, including $57,390 for a 14-minute video, ‘The Knik Arm Crossing: Bridge to Our Future.’ ”

And $1 million of that money was spent just for staff salaries to promote the project. 

Keep Reading…

France Slides Towards Debt Downgrade

A keychain of the Eiffel Tower.

Moody’s rating service warned on Monday that France’s coveted triple-A credit rating is in jeopardy as a result of the country’s “elevated borrowing costs…amid a deteriorating growth outlook.” Senior credit officer Alexander Kockerbeck said “As we noted in recent publications, the deterioration in debt metrics and the potential for further liabilities to emerge are exerting pressure on France’s creditworthiness and the [current] stable outlook of the government’s AAA debt rating.”

In May of this year Fitch Ratings confirmed France’s triple-A rating with a “stable” outlook but warned that “continued fiscal consolidation is needed to stabilize and then start to reduce public debt, which reached 81.7 percent of GDP as of [the end of] 2012.”

In August Fitch repeated that its rating for France remained triple-A but noted that the rise in the prices of credit default swaps (CDS) “may be a sign that the markets are

Keep Reading…

Another U.S. Debt Rating Downgrade On the Way!

Junk

A year ago Dagong Global Credit Rating reduced its rating on the sovereign debt of the United States from AA to A+. In August it dropped it another notch to A. In an interview on Saturday the agency’s chairman, Guan Jianzhong, said it is nearly inevitable that the agency will further reduce its rating of U.S. sovereign debt: “We are continuing to monitor this closely. First of all we need to look at this year’s economic growth [in the US] and then predict next year’s trends. If in the year 2012 the overall projections are not very good, meaning that the sources of payment—and liabilities—are bad and cannot be changed, or change for the worse, then we will lower the rating once again.”

This would bring the Chinese agency’s rating on U.S. sovereign debt to BBB, “medium high rating” or just one notch above “junk.”

When Standard and Poor’s downgraded its rating on the U.S. sovereign debt from AAA to AA+ back in August, it expressed a dim view of

Keep Reading…

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