Liberal commentator Nancy Skinner conceded there is one issue the right is right on - the value-added tax (VAT) is an absurd idea.
Skinner who is a regular guest on the Fox Business Network, stated April 7 that the VAT will do absolutely nothing to help the ailing economy, concurring with the "Bulls and Bears" panel.
"Everybody, you're going to be surprised: I finally found a tax I don't like, and it's this VAT tax!" Skinner exclaimed. "Here's why - it doesn't produce any behavioral changes - it's hidden as Gerri Willis said. What you want in a tax is a tax that changes behavior."
As Reuters reported April 6, White House adviser Paul Volcker - of the Larry Summers school of economics - threw out a trial-balloon recently, saying the U.S. may need to consider a European-style value-added tax to raise revenue and bring the deficit under control.
The company eked out full-year pre-tax earnings of roughly $23.7 million (after adding back $3.8 million in taxes to the company's reported net income of $19.9 million).
In the midst of all of this, the Journal reports that Times Company chairman "Pinch" Sulzberger's total compensation more than doubled in 2009 to roughly $6 million, and that his CEO compadre hauled in a similar amount:
The past several decades, Americans have seen the disaster unionism has wrought on Detroit's Big Three. The auto-makers, saddled with powerful unions, fell victim to a combination of labor inefficiency and premium worker pay that proved unsustainable.
And while much of the rest of the private sector long ago realized the sots, government apparently has not. So, for the first time in history, public employees comprise the largest segment of unions today.
Save for New Jersey or New York, the pending public pension crisis is nowhere more evident than in California. Currently the state is on the hook for $100-300 billion in unfunded pension and health care liabilities with no end in sight - on top of a projected $25 billion budget deficit.
What good is the liberal media's "truth squadding" or "fact-checking" when it doesn't reveal any facts and is completely divorced from the truth?
MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell gave a stark answer to that question this morning, when she appeared on "Morning Joe" to discuss yesterday's health care summit. O'Donnell heaped praise on the President for being "in command of some of the facts", like the "fact" that premiums would decline 10-13 percent under his plan. If she had actually looked at the CBO report she was citing, however, she would know that the plan is expected to raise, not lower, premiums for individuals by 10-13 percent.
So for all her "truth-squadding" and "fact-checking", O'Donnell is still confused about the difference between up and down. Either that, or she didn't truth-squad or fact-check anything, but simply said what she wanted to believe. Maybe she should spend less time devising her awkward hyphenated verbs , and more actually examining the facts.
CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanja Gupta pressed HHS Secretary Kathleen for price controls in all parts of the health care industry on Thursday's Newsroom. Gupta stated that insurance companies were "just the tip of the iceberg" of health care costs: "There are a lot of different organizations, groups, people who contribute to health care costs. Are you going to be going after all these folks?" [audio clip available here]
It looked a bit odd for CNN to choose the correspondent, whom Obama chose to be surgeon general before adviser Tom Daschle was forced to resign, to interview other people who signed up to sell ObamaCare. Gupta's question came during an interview 26 minutes into the 9 am Eastern hour, in which both he and CNN anchor Kyra Phillips asked the Obama administration official about the health care summit later in the day at Blair House. Gupta also hinted at the possibility of going after the profits of health care suppliers in his last question to Sebelius (who was sympathetic to Gupta's proposal in her answer):
Earlier this afternoon, NB's Tim Graham noted how NPR's Robert Siegel and Pew Research pollster Andrew Kohut spoke approvingly of "Millennials" as being "less 'militaristic' and less religious" than their elders.
At end of his post, Graham noted that Siegel and Kohut "somehow" forgot to discuss the key political finding in the poll, namely that the demographic's 32-point favoritism towards Democrats (62% to 30%) has declined by more than half (to 54% to 40%) in just one year of living in Obamaland. Shoot, if that trend continues for another nine months, it will be almost all even by Election Day in November.
As the old cliché goes, you don't use a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but according to Rick Santelli, that's exactly what it appears the Obama administration is doing terms of financial regulation and fiscal discipline.
On CNBC's Feb. 2 broadcast of "Fast Money," host Melissa Lee proposed that taxing the wealthy is not the path to "economic prosperity and fiscal stability." Santelli, the network's CME Group floor reporter, agreed.
"Well, you're right," Santelli said. "But I also think you're going to see when the Bush tax cuts expire, a lot of middle class write-offs and exemptions and various tax benefits will also fall by the wayside. Not the least of which to mention, I have so many friends that work for the financial industry. And they've learned from the government, even if you only make $25,000 to $125,000 a year, one firm says if you leave to go into another job or whatever, anything outside retirement, they're going to keep 10-to-20 percent of the stock they took from you following the government's directives."
Update - 2/4, 11:46 AM | Lachlan Markay: CBS News President Sean McManus has denied that the network will cut Couric's pay. Details below.
Katie Couric may be getting a taste of her own populist medicine. When the Dow hit 10,000 last October, she (and other network news personalities) used the opportunity to bemoan massive payments to Wall Street bankers. But now the populist sentiment has turned on her. She faces dramatic pay cuts as CBS News downsizes.
Couric, shown in a, er, file photo at right, "makes enough to pay 200 news reporters $75,000 a year! It's complete insanity," one CBS News insider told the Drudge Report. "We report with great enthusiasm how much bankers are making, how it is out of step with reality during a recession. Well look at Katie!"
The employee was referring to Couric's roughly $14 million annual salary, the highest in network news. That salary may be cut dramatically in the face of massive layoffs at CBS News branches in Washington, San Francisco, Miami, London, Los Angeles and Moscow.
Is the luster finally wearing off the love affair between the White House press corps and President Barack Obama? It is, if CBS White House correspondent Chip Reid's analysis of President Barack Obama's latest Wall Street proposals is anything to go by.
"Well, you know, it's really the same as it's all been," Reid said. "That there's some unease about both of them, but the President has been satisfied with the jobs they've done. Behind the scenes, they both still have a lot of control. They lost this battle to Volcker, but now they're on board on this new plan for Wall Street, although it really sounds more like politics than a real plan because it's hard to believe it would get through."
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Americans were treated to a number of populist sermons on the "special interests" who would oppose "reform" at any cost to maintain the "status quo" from which they "profit financially or politically." The drug companies, the energy companies, the Wall Street bankers, and the health insurers were the corporate enemies of a just and harmonious America, or so one might have gathered.
Obama was at the vanguard of this populist charge. But since his election, he has proposed health care legislation that would subsidize Pfizer and PhRMA, a cap and trade plan that would drive profits to General Electric, and Wall Street bailouts that lined the pockets of the same Goldman Sachs bankers he so reviled during the campaign. What happened?
Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney exposes and investigates this monumental disconnect in his new book "Obamanomics: How Barack Obama is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses." Carney explores the "political strategy of partnering with the biggest businesses in order to create new regulations, taxes, and subsidies." Those measures, he argues, actually benefit the biggest businesses by crowding out competition, consolidating market share, or giving billions in subsidies directly to those companies.
"These bank bonuses, I would say, are a sin of Biblical proportions," Wallis said. "But to pick on the banks alone misses the point. It's a symptom, I think of a real erosion of societal values because new maxims have taken us over - ‘greed is good,' ‘it's all about me and I want it now.'"
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took to the WhiteHouse.gov blog today to try to refute a devastating AP report showing that the the stimulus's highway and road funding has done next to nothing to improve the unemployment situation. Though he offered a couple of valid points, LaHood, pictured right in a file photo, actually did very little refuting.
The AP asserts in its report that "there was nearly no connection between stimulus money and the number of construction workers hired or fired since Congress passed the recovery program. The effect was so small, one economist compared it to trying to move the Empire State Building by pushing against it."
LaHood points out--fairly--that the AP examines the construction industry as a whole while the seven percent of the $787 billion that went towards funding highway and road construction (roughly $55 billion) only affects the transportation construction industry, not the industry as a whole.
Just in time for what they call "bonus season," ABC's "World News" treated its viewers to a little anti-Wall Street populism Sunday night.
On "World News" Jan. 10, weekend anchor Dan Harris explained there was "backlash" against Wall Street for bonuses that haven't even been paid out yet. But the ABC report made no mention of bonuses paid to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives.
"This week on Wall Street, it's the start of the bonus season, when the big banks dish out big bonuses," Harris said. "This is happening despite all the taxpayer bailouts and all the economic pain on Wall Street. The backlash has already begun."
Ever since President Obama took office with his merry band of Democrats controlling both chambers of Congress, the media began reporting high unemployment in the most positive light they could find.
NewsBusters exposed one such trick by Newsweek on December 10 that found a silver lining for unemployed dads to reconnect with their children. ABC News posted a column on their website Thursday that advanced the cause even further: now people who still have jobs are hoping to get laid off.
Such was the case made by one Michelle Goodman in a piece cutely titled "All I Want For Christmas is a Layoff." The premise for this bizarre headline was that many Americans began to realize they were working for "slave wages" in jobs that were far too stressful, so perhaps the recession offered a chance to start over.
According to Goodman, the mental effects of remaining on a difficult job could make the unemployment line look a bit more attractive:
In keeping with the tradition of the holidays - the minds at MSNBC, the place for politics if you're of the lefty persuasion, decided rate the top 10 political stories of the decade.
And leading this gang of masters of the political journalism universe was "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, who on the broadcast of his Dec. 24 program, announced that conservative activism, mainly the tea party movement was the eighth biggest story of the decade - but labeled "angry white voters" (emphasis added).
"Welcome back to ‘Hardball' - our number eight political story of the decade, angry whites at town hall meetings across the country," Matthews said. "Lawmakers heard the wrath of angry voters."
Angry, frustrated, troubled, disappointed, disgust, disrespect - words not normally associated with holiday season. However, they were words Katie Couric used to describe where she sees the mood of country right now.
Couric, the anchor of the "CBS Evening News," in a live Facebook video chat on Dec. 22, took on illustrating her view of the populace - a not very sunny picture (emphasis added).
"I think more distant - I hate to say that, but I think, I think the economic situation in this country, I think, when people are struggling, that sometimes they need a place to vent their rage and to channel their rage and I think, I feel like right now in many ways, we're a very angry nation," Couric said. "Very frustrated, troubled and disappointed in many ways in terms of people feeling that the American dream just isn't within their reach. I mean I still think it's a place of incredible opportunity and entrepreneurship. But I just think that, I don't know - maybe it's because what I do for a living, I feel that the country is pretty polarized right now."
If you believe polls, current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke favorability has been slipping. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll indicates that only 21 percent of Americans favor his reappointment as the Fed chair.
And this hasn't gone unnoticed by some members of the Senate, where Bernanke's fate lies. Bernanke's reconfirmation passed through the Senate Banking Committee by a 16-to-7 vote on Dec. 17. But that margin calls into question how his reconfirmation vote on the Senate floor could go. And as CNBC "The Kudlow Report" host Larry Kudlow warned, that puts his reconfirmation in question.
"Look, ‘Helicopter' Ben passed the Senate Banking Committee vote on his reconfirmation," Kudlow said on his Dec. 17 program. "He got 16-to-7, but he lost seven votes. I think all the Republicans except Sen. Bob Corker voted against Bernanke, and they were joined by one Democrat, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Now the reconfirmation goes to the floor of the Senate. So, I think Bernanke's reconfirmation could be in some trouble when that Senate vote occurs. I'm going to bet that most, if not all, of the 40 Republicans are going to vote against Bernanke and that they are going to be joined by a number of Democrats."
It's often said markets function better when there is gridlock in Washington, D.C. because there's less of a chance for government will interfere in the private sector, creating a sense of security. But in this day and time, that theory applies to the U.S. dollar as well.
On CNBC's Dec. 17 "Squawk Box," CNBC Chicago Mercantile Exchange reporter Rick Santelli debated what was causing the recent rise in the U.S. dollar. Santelli, the original inspiration for the tea party movement, squared off with Jim Iuorio, CNBC "OptionsAction" regular and CME trader, about the cause - a weakened European economy or the place in the calendar year.
"So Rick, is the bigger deal right now on the dollar move - the risk-aversion trade because of the end of the year or because of the problems in Europe?" Iuorio said. "Or is it a combination of both? Which is the bigger thing, do you think?"
There's a lot of uncertainty with the U.S. economy and a lot of its recovery hinges on some key policy decisions due from the federal government.
On CNBC's Nov. 2 "The Kudlow Report," CNBC host Maria Bartiromo discussed her interview with former Chairman of the Federal Reserve and Obama adviser Paul Volcker from the Global Financial Leadership Conference in Naples, Fla. One of the topics Bartiromo reported on from the conference was the possibility the Bush tax cuts would be allowed to expire, which she insisted is unlikely.
Now that the Obama administration is attempting to take a victory lap on the U.S. economic recovery, claiming the $787-billion stimulus passed earlier this year was what did the trick, despite a cost of $160,000 per 'stimulus' job, as ABC's Jake Tapper pointed out, it has come at the cost of the U.S. dollar.
Since then, the stock market has rebounded nicely. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is off a March low of 6,547 points, even topping the 10,000-mark recently. But what has caused this nearly 50-percent jump? According to CNBC's Larry Kudlow - loose monetary policy by the Federal Reserve, with low interest rates, has made it possible for the markets to rise, with the 'loose' money going into the market.
"The funny thing is, Steven, it has gone into stocks - I mean the stock market guys ... there's no real multiplier for the economy, right?" Kudlow said on his Oct. 30 CNBC program. "But it has gone into stocks and the stock market crowd wants to see the Fed to keep pouring the money in no matter what happens to the U.S. dollar."
We'll have to wait and see if the so-called outside-the-box thinking once praised by some of liberal media elites will get the same reception with this latest edition.
In 2005, University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner released the book "Freakonomics" that provided cover for the pro-abortion movement in America by suggesting legalized abortion lowered crime and had a positive impact on society.
Earlier, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., took on the issue and defended Fox and its audience. However, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, also took on the White House and questioned why it would be something Obama and his administration should be concerned with in comments from the floor of the House of Representatives on Oct. 20.
Just when you thought the White House couldn't possibly do anything to make their bizarre feud with the Fox News Channel an even larger spectacle - the administration manages to take it to another level.
On the Oct. 22 broadcast of Fox News Channel's "Special Report," host Bret Baier revealed a White House pool announcement was offering Kenneth Feinberg, the "Special Master for Compensation," better known as the White House "pay czar" for interviews - all except for one network - Fox News.
Worried about a potential slippery slope with the Obama administration dictating what people are paid in the private sector - TARP bailout or no TARP bailout? Message from CNBC's Jim Cramer: Get over it.
On CNBC's Oct. 21 "Street Signs," the "Mad Money" host ripped into Wall Street executives that objected to the government dictating the rules of compensation. Opponents argue these pay restrictions inhibit Wall Street firms ability to retain the best employees possible - an argument Cramer says doesn't matter.
"Hey, there's no God-given right to work at those companies," Cramer said. "These people can go off if they want to. I know that [Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive] Vikram Pandit has kept 23 of the top 25 people with very severe pay restrictions. If you believe in your institution, you stay. See, a lot of Americans are looking at those pay cuts and thinking, ‘How do I get in on the action?' So I don't really care."
A lefty magazine editor has come up with a list of brilliant solutions to the planet's purported climate change problem: make the recession worse, make goods more expensive, and restrict all intercontinental travel to blimps.
So said Emily Douglas, web editor for The Nation, who, when asked Wednesday how we could "reverse our culture of consumerism," replied immediately "make the recession worse."
She later claimed that her response was a bit "tongue-in-cheek," according to CNS News, but admitted that her magazine "never shies away from doomsday scenarios."
Lately there's has been an anti-Wall Street sentiment, propagated by the media that has become exacerbated as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) hit 10,000 Oct. 14.
On CNBC's Oct. 15 "Street Signs," Jim Cramer, host of "Mad Money," was asked by fill-in host Melissa Francis what he thought about the outrage over Wall Street hitting its stride, while unemployment continues to rise.
"What did you think about [Morgan Stanley CEO] John Mack's answer to the big question of the day, which is the divergence between Main Street and Wall Street?" Francis asked. "We see Dow 10,000 - bonuses are back at the same time Main Street is in a shambles."
Cramer took a different and unexpected tact by explaining he was a Spartacist, one who believed in a Communism in his youth. But during that time in his life, he said he became very familiar with the teachings of Vladimir Lenin.
You might think that the three major networks would look favorably upon the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) breaking through the symbolic 10,000 mark. After all, it they could use it as an opportunity to spin the news as a victory for Barack Obama and his economic policies.
But that wasn't the case. Instead ABC, CBS and NBC used the occasion to point out that the rich on Wall Street are getting bonuses for the performance of the stock market, while others across the country are suffering.
"Now, if an economic recovery is under way, not everyone is sharing in it equally," "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric said. "Pick up today's Wall Street Journal and you'll read banks and securities firms are on track to pay their employees record amounts this year. And, you pick up The New York Times and you'll see some workers are being forced to take huge pay cuts."
Is NFL Players Association Chief DeMaurice Smith being forthright when he contends he wants to protect the sport from "discrimination and hatred" as he has claims, or is he engaging in partisan hackery, with the benefit of having the ear of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell? If you look at Smith's past, you might come to that conclusion.
"I've spoken to the Commissioner [Roger Goodell] and I understand that this ownership consideration is in the early stages," Smith wrote. "But sport in America is at its best when it unifies, gives all of us reason to cheer, and when it transcends. Our sport does exactly that when it overcomes division and rejects discrimination and hatred."
A New York Times article by Nick Bunkley on Friday targeted for print on Saturday about the status of contract talks between Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers piqued my interest in a previously neglected but important matter.
Ford and the UAW are apparently close to an agreement. In describing what Ford workers are being asked to give up, Bunkley wrote the following (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Ford executives have said the company needs more concessions to keep G.M. and Chrysler from having an advantage.
.... The deal that U.A.W. workers at Ford approved in March got rid of cost-of-living pay increases and performance bonuses through 2010 and eliminated the jobs bank program, which allows laid-off workers to continue receiving most of their pay. In addition to those concessions, G.M. and Chrysler workers agreed to work-rule changes and a provision that bars them from striking.
What? From press coverage at the time, you would have thought that unionized GM and Chrysler workers made ginormous, humungous, unprecedented sacrifices to enable their companies to get through bankruptcy and to emerge as lean, mean vehicle-making machines.
Based on the data, the current job situation for teenagers in America is the worst on record.
According to Uncle Sam's Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Seasonally adjusted teenage unemployment hit 25.9%. That is the highest rate in the nearly 62 years BLS has been reporting this number. The previous record was last month's 25.5%. The record before that was 24.1% in November and December of 1982. A graphic of the complete history of the teenage unemployment rate that will open in a new window is here.
Unemployment among black teens not enrolled in school is over 50%.
The rate among 20-24 year-olds is also alarmingly high at 15.1%.
Almost alone among establishment media publications -- and even then in an editorial, not a regular news report -- the Wall Street Journal commented on this distressing set of circumstances, identified the most likely cause of the problem, and worried about its longer-term consequences: