After 16 days of political brinkmanship, lawmakers passed a temporary funding plan that raised the debt ceiling and reopened the federal government.
But now, the nation is just barreling toward a new set of deadlines -- lawmakers have until January 15 to deal with the budget and February 7 to deal with the debt ceiling. Until Congress sets the country on stable financial footing for the long term, we're bound to play this game over and over again.
As lawmakers begin negotiations, the conversation must start with tax and entitlement reform. This begins with Medicare and Social Security, as they're the most pressing challenges facing our country. more >>
In a scorching critique of a speech in which Sarah Palin compared the national debt to slavery, MSNBC host Martin Bashir suggested that perhaps someone should poop and urinate in the mouth of the former governor of Alaska and GOP vice presidential nominee.
Mocking her as "America's resident dunce" for using the analogy, Bashir played a clip of the remarks Palin made two Saturdays ago while promoting her book, Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas, at the annual Iowa Faith and Freedom Conference.
"Our free stuff today is being paid for today by taking money from our children and borrowing money from China," she explained. more >>
The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, sarcastically known as Dodd-Frankery and Dodd-Frankenstein, was passed into law in response to the financial crisis and recession of 2008. It contains the most drastic changes to financial regulations since the regulatory reform after the Great Depression. Proposed by Obama in 2009 and signed into law in 2010, the Democratic bill was the handiwork of former Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) in the House and former Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) in the Senate. It was supposedly going to stop banks from making loans to risky buyers who could not pay them back, reducing foreclosures. It was also supposed to change the rules so banks could no longer receive taxpayer-funded bailouts due to their poor business practices.
It hasn't worked out the way its Democrat proponents claimed. This is because the people who got us into this mess are the same ones who drafted the law. Dodd-Frank contains more of the same things that precipitated the financial crisis; government meddling in the mortgage business and financial markets. Lobbyists for special interests carved out loopholes, resulting in merely different lists of winners and losers. As one author in U.S. News & World Report observed, "These exemptions are less about protecting unsophisticated borrowers than about protecting the taxpayer-guaranteed business models of favored entities." Hedge funds and some other firms lost big; they are now required to fill out a 192-page form that has been estimated to cost each firm $100,000-$150,000.
Speaking of winners or losers, most outrageously, Dodd-Frank didn't bother to reform Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the biggest culprits for handing out mortgages to high-risk borrowers who should never have qualified for them. They received the largest bailouts of all financial institutions in 2008. more >>
When Vice President George H.W. Bush accepted the GOP nomination for president in New Orleans in 1988, he memorably said: "Read my lips, no new taxes." Too memorably, as things turned out. He won that election handily, carrying forty states against the hapless Michael Dukakis and 53 percent of the vote. It was the last comfortable victory the Republicans have seen.
By 1990, however, President Bush was in a bind. He had an army in Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield and he had a solidly Democratic Congress determined to force him to break his tax pledge. His OMB Director, the late Dick Darman, urged him to make a deal with the Hill and get on with the business of governing. When more savvy political advisers protested, citing the "Read my Lips, no new taxes" pledge to the American people, Darman reportedly replied that those were just words some speechwriter put in front of the president.
That may be. But the president's lips pronounced those words. And his breaking of his over-the-top promise to Americans doomed the Bush presidency. Arguably, the Bush fracturing splintered Ronald Reagan's winning coalition, a solid majority that Republicans have not been able to reassemble since. Despite a stratospheric 91 percent approval rating following his lightning victory over Saddam Hussein's forces in the first Gulf War, Bush's standing sagged for two years. His broken promise fueled grassroots rage and the Perot challenge. Bush 41 fell to Bill Clinton in the 1992 election, gaining an abysmal 37 percent of the popular vote. Columnist George Will said he had made a sow's ear of the Reagan silk purse. Even Barbara Bush piled on. Commenting on his retirement sport of skydiving, she puckishly said she hadn't seen her George take such a plunge since the `92 campaign. more >>
The country of Greece is in catastrophic economic chaos due to a history of irresponsible spending. This is where the U.S. will be in few years unless drastic changes are made. The question is no longer if, but when. At some point, there will no longer be any low-interest credit available to continue letting Santa Claus run the U.S.; the interest owed on existing debt will exceed tax revenues.
We can get a feel for what will happen to us by looking at Greece. When Greece reached that point six years ago, the Greek government was forced to impose painful austerity measures, with little success, in order to try and rein in the spending.
Living conditions in Greece have become shocking. Greece's universal coverage health insurance, which no doubt was a significant contributing factor to the overspending, is now utterly unaffordable, so the country is relying on volunteer doctors and medical personnel to work for free. It is estimated that 100,000 children are working – illegally – just to help their families get by. It is reported that 70,000 children dropped out of school in 2012 to do so. more >>
Well, well, well. When Republicans tried to delay the Obamacare individual mandate during the government shutdown, Democrats and President Barack Obama called them "meanies" and obstructionists. But when the Obama administration quietly had the Department of Health and Human Services announce Wednesday night it would extend the deadline for individuals to enroll in Obamacare, the media yawned as if to say "No, Big Deal."
In fact, reporter Dana Milbank of The Washington Post turned to mocking House Republicans for their persistence in pointing out the multitude of problems since the law's October 1 rollout. Even Democrats are shaking their heads at the mess. Yet Milbank haughtily writes in his bold liberal tone, "Okay, okay we get it: Republicans still don't like the healthcare-law. But can't they talk about anything else?"
Actually Dana, we can't because this nearly $3 trillion Affordable Care Act, which will add $1 trillion to our debt over 10 years, in all its glitch filled glory is giving Republicans and even some Democrats enough to talk about for the next 10 years. And talk they should. The Obamacare rollout has more glitches in its software than a hooker has runs in her panty hose. more >>