According to new White House economic data, the federal stimulus package has saved or created 650,000 jobs since it was rolled out earlier this year. But wait a second, TheStreet.com’s Glenn Hall says; with stimulus spending at around $150 billion, this means that each job costs the government roughly $230,000, or four times the median household income. Ultimately, the government hopes the stimulus will create 3.5 million jobs after it’s all been spent (we’re only about a fifth of the way through), but the early numbers don’t look particularly strong, Hall writes. According to Recovery.gov site, 30,000 jobs have been directly saved by federal contracts, while the rest of the jobs presumably came from a trickle-down effect. Moreover, Hall notes, if we follow the money, it looks as though a lot of bailout money has gone to big companies that have yet to actually create jobs. Lockheed Martin was given $165.9 million, Northrop Grumman received $57.6 million, and Sanofi-Aventis got $373.6 million, although none of these companies have actually created any jobs. “Maybe,” Hall suggests, “the White House needs to create a few jobs itself to get a better tracking system.”
According to the White House website:
President Obama has asked the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) to develop options for tax reform. The members of the tax subcommittee are preparing ideas to be considered by the board and would like to give anyone a chance to have input into the process on this important issue. Anyone wanting to share ideas and opinions for consideration by the subcommittee can do so here. The deadline for submissions is October 15th, 2009.
Note: The mandate to the PERAB is NOT to recommend a new tax system. They are to consider ideas on tax simplification, better enforcement of tax law, and reforming corporate taxes and to present the pros and cons of potential tax options. They were instructed not to consider options that involve raising taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year. So be mindful of their constraints when submitting ideas.
Click here to read the article in the Business Insider.
In a letter appearing in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Robert Sharpe, a policy analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy, writes:
The U.S. could learn from Mexico’s decriminalization of drugs.
The U.S. drug war is largely a war on marijuana smokers. There were 872,720 total marijuana arrests in 2007, almost 90% for simple possession. At a time when state and local governments are laying off police, firefighters and teachers, this country continues to spend scarce public resources criminalizing Americans who prefer marijuana to martinis.
The end result of this ongoing culture war is not necessarily lower rates of use. The U.S. has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available. An admitted former pot smoker, President Obama has thus far maintained the status quo rather than pursue change. Would Barack Obama be in the White House if he had been convicted of a marijuana offense as a youth? Decriminalization is a long overdue step in the right direction.
Don Boudreaux poses a different question, “one that exposes the huge disconnect between most people’s live-and-let-live attitudes about drug use (or at least about the use of pot and cocaine) and the harsh penalties often imposed on users.”
Suppose Barack Obama (or Bill Clinton or George Bush) had admitted, say, to committing armed robbery – or even to picking pockets – while in college. Whether convicted or not for such crimes, is it conceivable that the electorate would dismiss these past offenses as being nothing more than understandable youthful antics and conclude that he is, at bottom, a decent-enough chap worthy of the White House? Of course not.
So why does government continue to waste vast quantities of resources hunting down and punishing people for drug use – actions that most of us obviously regard as being not especially heinous or harmful to society?
According to CNET News,
They’re not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.
The new version would allow the president to “declare a cybersecurity emergency” relating to “non-governmental” computer networks and do what’s necessary to respond to the threat. Other sections of the proposal include a federal certification program for “cybersecurity professionals,” and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license.
The White House said Thursday it was reviewing what has turned out to be a wildly popular “cash for clunkers” program amid concerns the $1 billion budget for rebates for new auto purchases may have been exhausted in only a week.
Transportation Department officials called lawmakers’ offices earlier Thursday to alert them of plans to suspend the program as early as Friday.
At what point did it become acceptable for the President to warn citizens that they are “on thin ice” in regards to exercising their First Amendment rights? The Huffington Post reports:
The White House struck back hard on Friday against conservative pundits and town hall protesters who have compared the President to Hitler and his policies to Nazism, saying that the critics are “on thin ice” and should “take that temperature down a bit.”
Recently, the AFL-CIO sent union members to town hall meetings to counter conservative activists. Ostensibly, there is concern about potential violence on the part of health care nationalization opponents. But if there is a legitimate concern for the safety of town hall attendees and members of Congress, why not dispatch law enforcement?
The answer is because there has been no widespread trend of violence on the part of these outraged citizens. There have been isolated incidents of violence, but these – as of yet – seem to have arisen mainly from the typical tension of large, politically charged crowds and not from any involved plot. The debates are certainly heated, but we’ve seen several YouTube videos documenting the phenomena and very few show actual violence. If legislators have a problem with angry constitutents, perhaps they should rethink their agenda.
The real problem is not the tone of the debate – that could be dealt with by a larger security presence at these meetings – but the reaction from the White House. There is now a government-sponsored method to report “disinformation” or “fishy” reports regarding President Obama’s health care plan. As much as I am opposed to our President’s collectivist agenda, I take pride in not falling prey to any kind of ridiculous “Barack Hussein Obama is the anti-Christ!” mentality. But when I see the Executive Branch setting up a system for citizens to report one another to the federal government, I can’t help but see flashes of hammers and sickles in my eyes. Union muscle sent in to counter disgruntled citizens, Lenin-esque “Hope” posters, un-elected “Czars” accountable only to the President, and now admonishments to report dissenters — I must admit to being a little scared.
Democrats should be listening to their constituents instead of attempting to play Chicago-style hardball politics. President Obama isn’t shy about throwing his political weight around, but Congressional Democrats should remember that they have midterm elections in 15 months. If the economy doesn’t improve by then (and I doubt it will, given all of the economic theory against the President’s policies), voters might opt for a change in Congressional leadership. And if a more conservative Congress manages to reign in government growth and spending between 2010 and 2012, President Obama might be in for a tough fight – especially if he has to face a candidate with a strong economic record.