Survey finds a majority of Americans unable to pay for major unexpected expenses
9 January 2016
Ted Cruz, Jeff Sessions Blame Lax Immigration Enforcers for 113 Terror Suspects in US
What Have Seven Years of ‘Hope and Change’ Actually Done for Americans?
BLOG: WHILE SARGENT CLAIMS OBAMA'S TWO TERMS BROUGH ECONOMIC FAILURE, THAT CERTAINLY HAS NOT BEEN THE CASE FOR OBOMB'S CRONY BANKSTERS, OR THE ONE PERCENT!
His final State of the Union is set to air tonight, and since his first address voters have been hoping that 7 years of promises of hope, change, and economic recovery were more than just empty rhetoric.
Unfortunately that is not the case. By just about every indicator, the president’s two terms have been an economic failure.
That mountain of debt he promised to rein in is now larger than it has ever been. The national debt was $10.6 trillion when Obama came into office in 2009. It now stands at $18.9 trillion—an astounding 80 percent increase in just seven years, the largest increase in history. Our government debt now eclipses the size of our economy.
The national debt was $10.6 trillion when Obama came into office in 2009. It now stands at $18.9 trillion.Despite initially signaling that he was open to slowing discretionary spending—the portion of the budget controlled by annual appropriations bills—the president made ever more spending on discretionary programs a priority.
By working with a broad coalition in Congress, Obama was able to shatter the post-sequester spending caps he signed into law in 2011—one of the only measures that has been successful at limiting spending in recent years. Federal spending is now on pace to hit $4 trillion annually by the end of the president’s term, a sum that comprises a fifth of the economy. Together with Congress, Obama has repeatedly raised the debt limit without making any spending reforms. The latest measure even suspended the limit until March 2017, effectively giving the Treasury a blank check to borrow until then.
The president has noted that even though debt and spending have skyrocketed, deficits are down to their lowest level since he took office.
This is true. But for this, you can mostly thank Congress for imposing the budget caps he has so vehemently opposed, as well as the taxpayers who restored revenues back to the historical average as the economy improved. And don’t be fooled by this temporary relief: the Congressional Budget Office estimates that on the nation’s current trajectory, deficits will return to trillion dollar levels within a decade.
This trajectory has been exacerbated by the president’s refusal to engage on his campaign promise of entitlement reform—an agenda he effectively opposed by championing Obamacare and Medicaid expansion.
This unprecedented government spending was fueled by some of the largest tax increases in history. During Obama’s tenure, he has hit Americans with billions in payroll, capital gains and dividends, earned income, and death tax increases. The tax increases in Obamacare alone are expected to total nearly $800 billion through 2022.
But that’s not all. This administration has issued more major regulations than any of its predecessors. In just six years, the Obama White House has implemented 184 major regulations, costing the economy at least $80 billion annually while skirting the legislative process in favor of executive fiat.
What has all this spending, taxing, regulating, and new debt brought us? The slowest recovery since the Great Depression. The $800 billion stimulus did not generate the “shovel-ready” jobs that the president promised. Worse, this massive spending increase—and the tax hikes and debt that came with it—ended up hampering the recovery.
And while unemployment has undoubtedly fallen—as it does in any recovery—fewer Americans are in the work force now than at any time since 1977. This helps explain why the government unemployment figures are as low as they are.
So where have the folks who have stopped working or looking for work gone? Many have fled the job market in favor of the callous arms of big government. Total means-tested welfare spending now stands at over $1 trillion annually—the highest ever even though the recession supposedly ended in 2010. Over 45 million people—one out of every seven Americans—receive food stamps, a remarkable 63 percent increase since the height of the recession in 2009.
More and more working age Americans continue to join the disability rolls and stay there. Five percent of working age Americans now rely on disability benefits instead of a job—the most ever and a significant jump from 4.6 percent in 2009. Obama’s promise to focus on a true middle class recovery has floundered in favor of building a state of perpetual dependency.
And remember those bank bailouts the president said he “hated”? He’s followed them up with a string of the government’s own bailouts. This past year, he signed off on a $70 billion taxpayer bailout for the highway trust fund, which until recently was exclusively funded by the users of our transportation system.
This came just a month after he advocated for a $150 billion bailout of the Disability Insurance program, “reallocating” funding from the Social Security retirement account that has far more unfunded obligations in the future. In both instances, these bailouts were far easier—and more politically expedient—than laboring towards real reforms.
Make no mistake: the overall result has been a continuation (indeed, an exacerbation) of business as usual in Washington: spending, regulating, and amassing more debt than ever before. The economy—and every American—is worse off for it.
What should be done? Change isn’t easy—but we need the next president to be one that will lead and work with Congress on these vital economic issues. They need to address the relentless growth of spending in order to begin to bring the nation’s debt into check. It’s a daunting task, but we must curtail the relentless growth of spending, taxes, regulations, and the national debt to ensure freedom and economic vitality for our posterity.
The US in 2016: No money for social programs, cash to burn for the military
By Andre Damon
The US Navy’s “goals and objectives” outline for 2016, released last week, does not mince words: the first goal listed in the second subhead reads: “Buy more ships.”
12 January 2016
And that is exactly what the world’s most powerful navy is doing. On Wednesday, the Defense Department announced it was moving forward with plans to replace its Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, the most lethal killing machines in the history of mankind, with a completely new design beginning in 2021.
Each Ohio-class ballistic submarine is, by itself, the fifth most powerful military in the world. The Navy operates 14 of them. Each submarine carries 24 Trident II missiles, with each missile carrying eight warheads with a yield six times greater than the “little boy” bomb that killed over a hundred thousand people in the US bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945.
With an effective range of more than 7,456 miles, a single Ohio-class submarine in the waters outside of San Diego could obliterate 192 cities in western China, with a combined population of 400 million people, if the commander-in-chief were so inclined.
But the Ohio class is apparently in need of an upgrade, and the White House gave the Pentagon the go-ahead last Monday to send a “Request for Proposal” to the ship’s contractor, General Dynamics Electric Boat, approving funds for the building of a prototype. Each submarine, of which there will be 12, will cost an estimated $6-8 billion—not including research and development costs, the price of each submarine’s nearly 200 nuclear warheads, and associated operating costs—up from $2 billion for the Ohio class.
The day after the White House gave the go-ahead for replacing the Ohio-class submarines, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) reported Monday that up to a million people will lose food stamp benefits in 2016.
Twenty-three states are expected this year to lift a moratorium on one of the harshest austerity measures imposed by the Clinton administration’s 1996 “welfare reform” program, which caps the amount of time many people are eligible for food stamps at three months. The time limits were halted during the recession, but under the pretense that there is “no money,” to pay for food stamps, states all over the country are re-imposing the time limits.
“The loss of this food assistance, which averages approximately $150 to $170 per person per month for this group, will cause serious hardship among many,” reported the organization. The CBPP notes, “USDA data show that the individuals likely to be cut off by the three-month limit have average monthly income of approximately 17 percent of the poverty line, and they typically qualify for no other income support.”
In announcing the food stamp cuts, Bill Clinton pledged to “spend the taxpayers’ money wisely and with discipline, that we can spend more money on the future.” If he had been telling the truth, he would have declared that he was proposing the cuts so that the Navy could “Buy more ships.”
After all, the money has to come from somewhere. And it’s easiest to take from those who are the least capable of defending themselves. In addition to the poor people who depend on food stamps to survive, working class children have been targeted.
The same day that the White House gave the go-ahead for the design of the new submarines, the CBPP released a report showing that funding for schools has been slashed in most states since 2008, and in 15 states by more than 10 percent. Arizona has cut education spending by 23.3 percent, Alabama by 21.4 percent, Idaho by 16.9 percent, and Georgia by 16.5 percent.
While there is, of course, no money for children and the poor, defense contractors are licking their chops over the expected uptick in global military spending resulting from the wars flaring out of control in the Middle East and the growing standoff in Eastern Europe and the Pacific.
Defense industry analyst Deloitte gleefully declared earlier this month that military spending is “poised for a rebound” as a result of “heightened tensions” around the world.
It notes, “2015 was a pivotal year that saw heightened tensions between China, its neighbors and the US over ‘island building’ in the South and East China Seas, and the related claims of sovereign ocean territory rights by China. In addition, Russia and the Ukraine are at odds related to Russia’s takeover of Crimea and their military actions in Eastern Ukraine,” while “The recent tragic bombings in Paris, Beirut, Mali, the Sinai Peninsula, and other places have emboldened nations to join in the fight against terrorism.”
The report notes that “improved profitability” will result from “renewed interest from buyers” in acquiring “armored ground vehicles, ground attack munitions, light air support aircraft” and “maritime patrol ships and aircraft,” as “the military operations tempo is likely to increase and more missions are executed.”
The global uptick in military spending coincides with a major new shopping spree by the United States, which spends as much money on its military as the next seven countries—China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, the UK, India and Germany—combined. The US expends $609.9 billion out of the $1.7 trillion spent worldwide by all countries each year on war.
But this figure is slated to surge as “Many large, mainly US [Department of Defense] programs representing billions of US dollars, are likely to start soon, enter the engineering manufacturing design phase, and reach low-rate or full-scale production over the next few years. These programs include Ohio Class Submarine replacement, F-35 fighter jet, KC-46A aerial refueling tanker, and Long Range Strike Bomber.”
Just one of these programs, the F-35 “Lightning II,” plagued with delays and cost-overruns, will cost $1.45 trillion over its lifecycle, more than twice the amount that state, federal, and local governments spend educating 50 million children each year.
Survey finds a majority of Americans unable to pay for major unexpected expenses
9 January 2016
This government-driven, crony-capitalist economy defined by job scarcity and wage stagnation is the reason college graduates are burdened by $1.3 trillion debt, living with parents, can’t afford to marry or buy homes, and working as waitresses and bartenders. Job scarcity and low wages are the reasons we’re becoming a nation of renters rather than homeowners. They are the reasons that 51 percent of workers earn less than $30,000 a year. They are the reasons for the demise of the middle class and the burgeoning welfare rolls, the modern-day equivalent of slavery.
31 December 2015
The effects of slower growth in China are extending to the advanced capitalist economies. Canada, which is highly dependent on exports to China, has, with the announcement that the economy contracted in October, experienced negative or stagnant growth in seven of the first ten months of the year.
Falling iron ore export revenue, the result of the Chinese slowdown, is causing major fiscal problems for the Australian federal government as well as the states. In its latest budget update, the Turnbull government announced that it expected to lose another $7 billion in revenue over the next four years as compared to estimates made just last May, largely as a result of falling ore prices. These are now below $40 per tonne, compared to $180 per tonne four years ago. The once boom state of Western Australia has announced its biggest income fall since the Great Depression due to lost revenue from the mining industry.
For some time the US was touted as a bright spot in the world economy. To the extent that this is still the case, it only underscores the dismal situation everywhere else. US wages remain stagnant, economic growth remains well below levels achieved in all previous post-war recoveries, and industrial output is falling, with warnings that the sector has entered a recession.
The euro zone has yet to recover the levels of output reached before the beginning of the financial crisis, with no signs of any revival of investment.
One of the most prominent indicators of the onset of global recession is the precipitous fall in the prices of all industrial commodities. The Bloomberg Commodity index of 22 raw materials has fallen to its lowest level since the financial crisis.
While the plunge in the price of oil—down from its levels of around $100 per barrel in the middle of last year to just $36—has attracted the most attention, it is only the most prominent expression of a general tendency. Iron prices continue to fall, accompanied by precipitous declines in other metals associated with basic industry.
At the beginning of this year, the price of nickel, which is used in the manufacture of stainless steel, was expected to rise by 22 percent. It has fallen by more than 40 percent, a bigger decline than the collapse suffered by oil. Likewise, the price of zinc, which was predicted to rise by 16 percent, has dropped by 28 percent.
When the oil price began to fall, the view was advanced that this could be