Archive for January 27th, 2009

January 27, 2009

Stimulus REAL cost: $1.17 TRILLION!

Philip Klein reports that news accounts stating the size of the proposed stimulus at $825 billion fail to include the additional costs of interest to service the additional debt. Rep. Paul Ryan requested and received from the CBO an estimate of the additional interest payments — $347 billion over the next 10 years — bringing the total pricetag to $1.17 trillion. That’s one-one-seven, followed by 10 zeroes:

$1,170,000,000,000
January 27, 2009

A mighty big ‘if,’ sir

Doing battle with economists Eugene Fama and John Cochrane, who argue that deficit spending by government ultimately discourages private investment, Paul Krugman engages in one of those magic hypotheticals beloved by Keynesians:

Similarly, after a change in desired savings or investment something happens to make the accounting identity hold. And if interest rates are fixed, what happens is that GDP changes to make S and I equal.

If interest rates are fixed! Does Krugman mean to propose fixed interest rates? It’s like the joke about the chemist, the engineer and the economist stranded on a desert island, where they discover a castaway cache of canned food. After the chemist and the engineer each suggest their own distinctive proposals for a way to open the cans, the economist says, “Step One: Assume a can opener.”

Government borrowing represents demand for credit, and if government responds to a recession by massive borrowing, this increased demand means that the price of credit (i.e., interest) can be expected to rise. The rise in interest rates thereby reduces the credit supply for private investment, and the economy cannot grow without private investment.

Generally, however, a heavily indebted government (as ours is) will attempt to defraud its creditors via inflation, paying back today’s dollar with devalued dollars, which in turn will cause creditors to charge the government higher interest to offset the anticipate loss. It was the U.S. government’s attempts to play this game — devaluing the dollar while simultaneously borrowing heavily and also inflicting job-killing taxes — that led to the “stagflation” spiral of the 1970s.

“Stagflation” was the ultimate disproof of the Keynesian theory of “equilibrium,” which saw government manipulation of the economy as a trick of balancing unemployment vs. inflation. The possibility of both unemployment and inflation rising simultaneously was something never contemplated by the Keynesians, nor did they ever envision the result of Reagan’s supply-side revolution, which nearly eliminated inflation while simultaneously resulting in full employment.

Neo-Keynesians like Krugman are trying to pretend that we did not learn what we learned, and that we do not know what we know. A Nobel Prize-winning ignoramus!

UPDATE: By God, the more I think about it, the angrier I get. You don’t have to have a Ph.D. to understand economic basics: Supply. Demand. Talk amongst yourselves.

For me, this all goes back to the feud between David Stockman and the supply-siders in the Reagan years. Stockman had a very good point, namely that for political reasons, the Reaganites refused to force a showdown with Democrats in Congress over the continued growth of federal spending. But the supply-siders argued that, (a) with tax cuts unleashing economic growth, and (b) the attendant growth in federal revenue, then (c) additional federal spending was affordable, and (d) what really counted, in macroeconomic terms, was the size of federal spending in relation to GDP. So, even though government was growing, in real terms, it was actually shrinking in comparison to the overall economy.

Thus spake the supply-siders, at any rate, but Stockman was still right about the lack of political courage among Republicans. If the federal government in 1980 was too big, too powerful, too expensive, and doing too many things it had no constitutional authorization to do — which was the fundamental premise of the Reagan campaign, vis-a-vis domestic policy — then this argument about the relative size of the government vs. overall GDP was just an excuse for not doing what Reagan had pledged to do.

And now, in 2009, we find that the clients of Uncle Sam refuse to give up a nickel of their slice of the taxpayer pie, so that Obama can propose a vast and expensive stimulus, and most so-called “conservatives” don’t have any coherent argument to offer in reply. The abandonment of sturdy principle thus results in ever-weakening opposition to the liberal Leviathan.

January 27, 2009

Palin launches PAC

She’s rolling, baby — 2012, here she comes!

Hot Air, Politico, Fox News and U.S. News have more.

(URL corrected; thanks, Smitty!)

January 27, 2009

‘Tolerance fascists’

John Hawkins at Townhall.com:

The whole point of allowing people to immigrate to this country is to benefit the people who are already here. Yet, if you try to have any sort of substantive conversation about how many people we are allowing into the country each year, where they should be coming from, or how we should choose them, the screaming starts again. “Why do you hate immigrants?”

Man, I could write 5,000 words about this. Liberals have taught Americans to view immigration as a form of charity — indeed as an entitlement theoretically owed to all 6 billion people on the planet — and even many “conservatives” now embrace this idiotic notion. But if I get started on it, I’ll have to write 5,000 words, so I won’t start.

UPDATE: Where would we be without our liberal commenter friend, Young4Eyes?

“The whole point of allowing people to immigrate to this country is to benefit the people who are already here.”
Like….slaves?
What does he mean by ‘benefit people here’?
I mean, is that an admission that immigrants are desirable for the cheap labor they provide? In that case who do they help, the business owner or the American worker losing out to the immigrant?

OK, two separate issues:

1. It has been my contention for some time that, indeed, many open-borders enthusiasts view immigrants as commodities, like slaves. You hear this every time the immigration debate boils down to economics and some useful idiot (let’s not name names) says illegal aliens are “doing jobs Americans won’t do.” Immigrants are human beings, and all human beings are culture-bearers. Immigrants thus bring with them to some degree their cultures, which inevitably brings you into consideration of Pat Buchanan’s infamous “million zulus” hypothetical. To argue immigration on the basis of a simple economic calculus is thus to dehumanize the immigrants, but as Hawkins points out, the whole issue is so surrounded by taboos that opponents of open borders are forbidden even to discuss the cultural issue, no matter how flagrantly it erupts.
2. The purpose of government is to secure peace and prosperity to its citizens. That governments ought to act on behalf of the interests of its citizens is such a self-evident truth that no thinking person would challenge it directly. The government of the United States has an infinitely greater obligation to the citizen of Kansas than to any resident of Scotland, Switzerland or Swaziland. Quod erat demonstrandum. In regard to immigration, then, if the resident of Glasgow, Scotland, propses to resettle in Russell, Kansas, then the interests of the Kansan are infinitely more to be considered than the interests of the Glaswegian. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Now, it may well be that the good folks of Russell, Kansas, will be only too happy to have this fellow from Glasgow come live amongst them. On the other hand, it may be that the Kansans think otherwise. Perhaps they didn’t mind it when at first a few families of Scots arrived, but the trickle became a flood and now their elementary schools have become overcrowded with little Presbyterian lads with their brogues and burrs and bad teeth.

There have lately been several ugly eruptions of anti-Glaswegian prejudice (a sentiment unknown in Russell but a few short years ago) and so the Scottish toughs formed street gangs to battle their tormenters. Boys being boys (and Scots being Scots) they soon got into all manner of mischief so that now the town is terrorized by MacGregors and Stewarts and Campbells, who strut around in their gang colors (tartans, of course), blasting bagpipe music from their boomboxes, and wreaking havoc amongst the townfolk.

The situation deteriorates, as one rundown part of town becomes known as “Little Glasgow,” the maternity wards overflow with knocked-up teenage Scottish girls (boys being boys, and Scots being Scots), and immigrant activists demand that Gaelic be taught in the local schools. Even though most Scottish adults are here legally and work for a living, residents can’t help but notice every time they’re in the checkout line at the grocery store and find themselves waiting behind a woman with a Glaswegian accent paying with food stamps.

“Enough is enough!” say the folks in Russell, at long last. “We’re tired of being overrun with these damned haggis-gobbling foreigners!”

Now, under these circumstances, is the obligation of the government to respond to the grievances of the Kansans, or to protect the interests of the Scots? In such a conflict, I say, the grievances of the Kansans are quite nearly everything, and the interests of the Scots are quite nearly nothing. And don’t sing me any sad songs about the poverty and misery of the Glasgow ghettos, as such misfortunes are exclusively the concern of the Scottish government (and their English overlords) and the folks of Russell cannot be compelled to accept the refugees as a matter of “rights.” Besides, what’s the good of bringing over Scots if they’re only going to recreate here the same rotten conditions that made Glasgow such a pesthole, as they inevitably will if they keep pouring into Russell in such overwhelming numbers?

I am enough of a small-“d” democrat to believe that if 51% of American voters wanted zero immigration, the government would be obliged to institute such a policy — and the Scots be damned! As it is, I think a solid majority of my fellow citizens would be satisfied if only their government would mount a serious effort to enforce our existing immigration laws and would be exceedingly pleased if the total inflow of legal immigrants could be limited somewhere at or below 500,000 a year.

Such a policy would be neither inhumane nor unworkable, and the major obstacle to its enactment is that politicians are terrified of being labeled “anti-immigrant” — an accusation made by those who routinely imply that foreigners have some “right” to settle here, a “right” which be infringed by enforcement of sound policy.

To hell with such nonsense, and to hell with any politician who refuses to save us from The Plaid Menace!

UPDATE: Welcome, Conservative Grapevine readers!

January 27, 2009

Wow. Just wow.

Darlene Click at Protein Wisdom catches this tidbit:

According to an employment advertisement posted on the popular website www.craigslist.org, the taxpayer-funded National Association of Counties (NACO) is currently seeking an applicant among whose duties will be to “combating anti-government/anti-tax efforts.”

Sort of an anti-taxpayer lobbyist. Just wow.

(Thanks to Smitty for the tip.)

January 27, 2009

‘When a presidential campaign calls up and offers you a job you take it’

So says the Weekly Standard‘s Michael Goldfarb, talking about his six months on the John McCain campaign. I profoundly disagree — I don’t like the Beltway revolving door between politics and media, even ideological media — but I don’t want to argue about that. Some highlights from Goldfarb’s interview with Columbia Journalism Review:

I thought from the beginning that we would lose.

Well, duh. I said so after Super Tuesday: “McCain is not a conservative, he will lose in November . . .”

I am not convinced that Sarah Palin hurt the campaign. People think that this decision was made in some kind of vacuum. I’m not convinced that a McCain/Romney ticket would have outperformed a McCain/Palin. Well, maybe if we’d done Lieberman we would have been down fifteen points after the convention instead of up four. I’m not convinced that Palin, even with all her weaknesses, wasn’t the most plausible ticket you could have put forward this year.

Well, any ticket headed by John McCain was in deep trouble, no matter who the running mate was. And McCain cut his own throat with his bailout stunt, so any attempt to shift blame to Palin is scapegoating, period. The fact that McCain even considered putting Lieberman on the ticket illustrates how this year’s defeat is 100% McCain’s fault.

Lots more good stuff in the interview, including Goldfarb’s denunciation of the anti-Palin leakers inside the campaign. He ought to denounce them by name, because they deserve to be persona non grata henceforth.

January 27, 2009

Pro-lifers call for Jed Babbin’s scalp

Several Christian conservative activists have signed a letter demanding that Human Events fire editor Jed Babbin, a letter circulated by radio talk-show host Gregg Jackson:

“For years conservatives trusted Human Events as a source of truth about what is happening in American politics,” Jackson said. “Babbin’s embarrassing and revealing statements in this very revealing interview are only the most recent indication of an ongoing purge of real conservatives and their replacement by social liberals posing as the heirs of the Reagan revolution,” Jackson continued.

So “revealing,” he said it twice! Part of what angers Jackson is Babbin’s argument — a venerable conservative position — that the Declaration of Independence does not trump the Constitution. Jackson, who supported Mike Huckabee in the GOP primaries and supported Alan Keyes’ independent presidential candidacy in the general election, also denounces Babbin for allegedly “suppressing the truth” about deviations from pro-life positions by Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney. Babbin ended the interview by hanging up on Jackson.

I seriously doubt this protest will jeopardize Babbin’s position at Human Events, but it is worth noting if only as indicating the depth of discontent among some members of the conservative coalition. I am pro-life, but there is no way on earth I’d ever vote for Mike Huckabee, period. I believe in the Good Book, but it’s not the only book worth reading. Besides which, Huckabee worships in the church of St. Al Gore.

January 27, 2009

Hey, it worked!

Who’d have thunk it? Republicans complain and Obama actually pays attention:

House Democrats are likely to jettison family planning funds for the low-income from an $825 billion economic stimulus bill, officials said late Monday, following a personal appeal from President Barack Obama at a time the administration is courting Republican critics of the legislation. . . .
Several Democrats said Monday night that Obama had spoken personally with Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., about removing the provision. Waxman is chairman of the committee with jurisdiction over Medicaid and a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Obviously, Obama could see that Pelosi’s anti-baby agenda was political poison. It was a shrewd move for him to ask them to ax it. Expect the Left to howl that Obama’s given in to the “Republican attack machine,” but they don’t understand that not everybody hates babies as much as urban yuppies do.

(Outraged comment from Young4Eyes in 3, 2, 1 . . .)

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin calls our attention to Conn Carroll’s indictment of contraceptive Keynesianism:

The entire intellectual underpinning of President Barack Obama’s spending plan rests on the belief that certain types of government spending creates a “multiplier effect” which raises national income beyond the size of government’s initial spending increase. . . . So if Obama’s stimulus plan bails out California’s spendthrift government, and Sacramento then spends that money buying condoms for Nancy Pelosi’s constituents, [neo-Keynesian economist] Mark Zandi wants us to believe that this entire transaction will increase GDP by $1.36 for every $1 in condoms Sacramento buys. Does anybody really believe this?

Hmmm. Given Pelosi’s San Francisco-area district, I’m not sure if buying condoms for her constituents actually qualifies as “birth control.” But you see how easy it is to make this measure look ridiculous on economic grounds alone.

Perhaps some clever GOP researcher can find out how much money the latex industry gave the Democrats, so we can accuse Pelosi of being in the pockets of Big Rubber.

UPDATE II: Well, that didn’t take long:

Is the Obama administration caving to the right wing on family planning provision in stimulus bill?

See? If Republicans don’t go along with Obama’s agenda, we’re divisive haters. But if Obama shrewdly placates conservatives, he’s “caving.” Hey, tough luck, lefties: If you wanted somebody who was 110% for your anti-baby agenda, you should have nominated Hillary.

Michelle Malkin rounds up the news on the “condoms under the bus” deal.

January 27, 2009

Obama’s al-Arabiyah interview

Jules Crittenden has great sport with Obama doing his first presidential TV interview with al-Arabiyah.

I’m not surprised, and what’s the point of being outraged? Anyone who is shocked by this obviously wasn’t paying close enough attention during the campaign, and I’ll leave it to others to stoke the bonfires of indignation.

BTW, sorry for getting a late start this morning, but I had an article to finish and was also exchanging e-mails with Splice Today publisher Russ Smith about yesterday’s Ann Coulter/Hunter S. Thompson essay. Some Gonzo fans are upset by the comparison, although I haven’t yet gotten any angry complaints from indignant Coulter fans.

At any rate, it’s snowing outside and we’re forecast to get sleet and ice before tomorrow, so that means two days away from the day job (a video-production gig) and plenty of time for blogging. This would also be a good time for devoted readers to hit the tip jar. Of course, it’s always a good time to hit the tip jar.

UPDATE: Melissa Clouthier says Obama can’t afford to look weak on national defense and foreign policy:

If Obama goofs around with Guantanamo, talks of Space weapons bans, cuts military funding while Iranian ships are being found to have huge weapons caches going to…terrorists, revises wire-tapping standards of foreigners to gather intelligence, sanctimoniously decries rather benign forms of coercion that would save lives, makes his first interview to Arab TV and then America is hit by a terrorist attack, his Presidency will be over. He will ride out his years in office in shame.

Meh. So long as he’s sending thrills up Chris Matthews’ leg and making George Stephanopoulos cry, he can probably get away with a lot more of that. The shameless idolatry of the MSM is like a force-field around him at this point, and idiots like Matthews and Stephanopoulos obviously don’t see the danger, any more than they understand why the neo-Keynesian “stimulus” is bad for the economy. If al-Qaeda were to blow up the White House next Tuesday, the MSM whores would find a way to blame Bush.

January 27, 2009

When you need an assassin . . .

. . . hire a Republican:

Gov. Paterson’s decision to go nuclear on Caroline Kennedy was a hatchet job run by a pricey out-of-state consultant who specializes in political scandals, disgruntled administration sources said.
Judy Smith, a Washington-based PR guru and former Bush White House deputy press secretary, orchestrated the ill-conceived character attack on Kennedy, sources said Sunday.

You don’t get to be a deputy press secretary in a Republican White House without backstabbing half-a-dozen of your “good friends” to get there. It’s a prerequisite for the gig. So when it came time to dump his “good friend” Caroline Kennedy, he hired an expert to do the dirty work.