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: Social Security

Cutting Government: Where to Start

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Once Obamacare is repealed by the House, the attention of the 112th Congress will turn to the question of where government spending can be cut for the largest immediate impact. Several observers have weighed in with their thoughts, including Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks, who have an article in today’s online Wall Street Journal. After reviewing the fiscal hot water the republic is already in, and discussing attempts to re-set government spending back to “base lines” such as 2009, 2008, or 2007, the authors get down to business.

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Boomers Aren’t Booming

Baby Boomers Haven

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Despite their huge numbers and cultural and financial impact on the economy, the Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) have largely been unwilling to face fiscal reality. Robert Samuelson, a frequent writer for Newsweek, noted back in 2007 that “We [he is a Boomer] are trying to pillage our children and grandchildren, putting the country’s future at risk in the process. On one of the great issues of our time, the costs of our retirement, we have adopted a policy of selfish silence.”

Numbering 76 million, controlling over 80 percent of personal financial assets and more than 50 percent of discretionary spending, they are turning age 65 at the rate of 10,000 every day. And reality is setting in.

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What If the Debt Ceiling Isn’t Raised?

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Following the petulant pronouncement from the Obama administration’s chief economics advisor that any suggestion of not raising the debt ceiling was engaging in a “game of chicken,” two other establishment types noisily concurred.

Timothy Geithner, the U. S. Secretary of the Treasury, said that failure to raise the ceiling “could make it impossible for the U. S. to access global credit markets,” while Bill Gross, the co-CEO of PIMCO, the world’s largest bond fund manager, plainly implied that unless the ceiling were raised promptly, the U.S. could lose its coveted AAA credit rating: “Ultimately, if we continue a trillion-dollar-plus [annual deficit] then, yes, your credit rating will be threatened.”

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The 112th Congress: Real Substance, or Just Smoke?

Minority Leader John Boehner

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When the House of Representatives announced new rules for the Congress that convenes on Wednesday, the mainstream media immediately called them “strict” and even “unprecedented.” The first new rule to take effect will be the reading of the Constitution of the United States and its 27 amendments on the floor of the chamber.

Incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner told ABC News: “The American people want a smaller, more accountable government—and that starts with respecting the Constitution. That’s why we will read it on the floor next week. It sends the clear message that starting on January 5th, the House of Representatives will be the American people’s outpost in Washington, D.C.

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Breaking Hauser’s Law

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Writing in the Wall Street Journal, chairman emeritus of the Hoover Institution, Kurt Hauser, strongly disagreed with the Obama administration’s claim that by raising taxes on just the top two percent of all taxpayers there would be a significant increase in tax revenues to the government. He claimed that Hauser’s Law would limit any anticipated increase in revenues, and it might even reduce them.

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The National Debt: Scary Facts, False Conclusions, and Gumption

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When Anthony Mason, CBS News’ senior business correspondent, visited the Treasury Room, he called it the location of “essentially the American credit card machine.” It’s where traders buy and sell United States’ treasury bills, notes, and bonds in order to finance government operations. Mason’s revelation was profound: “I found that room kind of spooky. If we can’t [sell] those IOUs—which keep the government running on a day-to-day basis—then we can’t run the country anymore. We [won’t] have the money.”

CBS then went on to review the repetitive and increasingly tiresome litany of disasters that await if those IOUs can’t be sold:

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John Allison: Free Market Banker

BB&T

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When asked during an “Online with Terry Jeffrey” interview about how to solve the debt crisis facing the country, former Branch Banking & Trust (BB&T) CEO John Allison, was direct:

If you run the numbers…the United States goes bankrupt. It’s a mathematical certainty.

Now countries don’t go bankrupt the way companies do. They don’t file [for] bankruptcy. They usually hyper-inflate. They print a bunch of paper money, or they become Third World economies like Argentina—unless [they] change direction. So, we absolutely have to change direction.

When challenged about how to change direction, Allison was refreshingly candid:

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Deficit Commission Report: Deficit Reduction Lite

The Deficit Reduction Whopper

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The co-chairs of President Obama’s Deficit Commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, announced many of the possible recommendations that could appear in the report of the Commission due December 1. They included just enough to arouse the ire of partisans on both sides, without making any serious inroads into real deficit reduction. Calling it a “politically provocative and economically ambitious package,” the New York Times said the initial proposals are “igniting a debate that is likely to grip the country for years.”

The co-chairs aren’t expecting much to happen but they claimed they wanted to “start the conversation” now.

Some of the proposals on the reduced spending side include:

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Bi-Partisan Effort to Cut Spending: A First Step Only

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When the conservative National Taxpayers Union (NTU) and the liberal U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) announced their report “Toward Common Ground: Bridging the Political Divide to Reduce Spending,” the authors acknowledged that “while these proposals won’t get us all the way [to significantly reduced government spending], it is a start that could establish some common ground and make government more accountable in the process.”

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Liberal House Veteran Dingell Expects to Keep His Seat

John Dingell

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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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Social Security: No COLA for You

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When the Social Security Administration announced that there would be no cost-of-living-adjustment for 2011, Betty Dizik, Claire E., John Walker, Nancy Pelosi, and the AARP all agreed it would be difficult for the 58 million beneficiaries currently receiving checks. Betty’s only source of income is her $1,200 monthly payment from Social Security. At age 83, she exclaimed, “I’m like a lot of other people in my predicament who live on Social Security. It’s hard. We cannot make ends meet.”

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Tea Party Giving Neocons Heartburn

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Several neoconservative writers have recently expressed nervousness about Tea Party supporters threatening to make substantial cuts in military expenditures in order to rein in government spending. Articles in the Washington Post and at Heritage.com, by Danielle Pletka, Thomas Donnelly, Arthur Brooks, Edwin Fuelner, and William Kristol have made it clear that “the conservative movement—and the party that seeks to represent it—is at a crossroads.” One road will continue funding the military-industrial complex in “defense of freedom,” while the other road “beckons in an almost Calvinistic call to fiscal discipline” resulting in potentially severe defense department cuts.

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The Real Cost of the Wars

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When the book The $3 Trillion War debuted in 2008, it was roundly criticized by such notables as John Lott, Richard Zerbe and Edgar Browning, who held that estimates of the cost of the war in Iraq were overstated. But in a conference call earlier this week, authors Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Prize winner) and Linda Bilmes (Harvard University professor), said they underestimated those costs by at least one third.

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Why Reich is Wrong

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When former Labor Secretary Robert Reich offered his solutions for ending the Great Recession in the New York Times, he repeated the same errors expressed in a CNBC debate the week before.

Reich appears to have all the credentials for knowing what he is talking about: degrees from Dartmouth College, Yale Law School, and a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. Having served as a law clerk to the chief judge of the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals and then assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General, followed by an appointment by President Jimmy Carter as Director of Policy Planning at the FTC, most would accept his opinions and suggestions for ending the recession as useful and relevant.

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Obama Needs Your 401(k) to Balance His Budget

Jim McDermott

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The Obama administration is “taking the first steps to confiscate retirement dollars,” according to Dr. Jerome Corsi who predicts that the end result will be retirees with 401(k) plans holding near-worthless government debt “that will be paid off in a devalued currency worth…pennies on the dollar.”

The move to confiscate those retirement dollars for government purposes was best illustrated by Christina Kirchner, President of Argentina, in 2008 when she announced plans to seize her citizens’ private pension funds.

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Fed Confirms Recovery Stalled

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When the Federal Open Market Committee announced yesterday that “the pace of economic recovery is likely to be more modest in the near term than had been anticipated,” stocks in Europe lost three percent of their value, interest rates on the U.S. 10-year Treasury note dropped startlingly as investors ran to safety, and the dollar hit the lowest level against the Japanese Yen since 1995.

A Japanese bond dealer said, “Investors were unnerved by the Fed’s statement. It just confirmed that the U.S. economic recovery is slowing.”

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Ryan’s Roadmap II

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The first time Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) offered his “Roadmap for America’s Future” to the House of Representatives, it failed by 137-293, with 38 Republicans voting against, including Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). With his own district safe in the fall elections, Ryan has been spending his time generating support for Roadmap II with presentations to conservative think tanks and coffee klatches.

And he seems to be gaining some traction along with a lot of fresh attention.

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Maine Eyes Social Security for Pension Bailout

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Instead of asking for a federal bailout, Maine is considering shifting part of its underfunded pension plan liabilities to Social Security. Without the proposed fix, the pension liability the state currently faces is “going to rip the guts out of our budget,” according to Peter Mills, the state Senator who initially suggested the plan.

Most states provide their workers with a state pension plan as well as support their participation in Social Security. But several states such as Maine opted out of Social Security based on projections that monies invested in the state-run plan would provide more generous benefits to its beneficiaries. As the economy turned down and revenues declined, states like Maine are finding it increasingly difficult to make the contributions necessary to keep their pension plans solvent.

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Social Security Benefits Only for Needy?

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One way to fix Social Security would be to limit payments only to those who need them, according to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH). In an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, he added that increasing the retirement age to 70 for those age 50 and younger would also be necessary.

“We need to look at the American people and explain to them that we’re broke,” Boehner said. “If you have substantial non-Social Security income while you’re retired, why are we paying you at a time when we’re broke? We just need to be honest with people.”

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Sharron Angle vs. Harry Reid and the GOP

Senator Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader

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Sharron Angle is going to have to learn how to fight with both hands in Nevada’s general election battle against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as Manu Raju explains in two articles appearing at Politico.com here and here. With her left hand she will be busy fending off attack ads from the Reid camp for her “extremism,” and with her right hand soothing sitting Senators with whom she might well be working after the election.

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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.