Archive for the ‘Stimulus’ Category


Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
Washington Post

Fact checking the 2012 State of the Union speech

A State of the Union address is often difficult to fact check, no matter who is president. The speech is a product of many hands and is carefully vetted, so major errors of fact are so relatively rare that they sometimes can become big news (think of George W. Bush’s “sixteen little words” about Iraq seeking uranium in Niger). At the same time, State of the Union addresses are very political speeches, an argument for the president’s policies, so context (or the perspective of opponents) is often missing.
Here is a guide through some of President Obama’s more fact-challenged claims, in the order in which he made them. As is our practice with live events, we do not award Pinocchio rankings, which are reserved for complete columns.

“For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. Most of al Qaeda’s top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.”

The killing of bin Laden, which Obama used to open and close his speech, is an achievement that few partisans would quibble with. But the story about Iraq and Afghanistan is much more muddled.

Yes, U.S. troops have left Iraq, in part because the Obama administration was unwilling or unable — take your pick — to extend a security agreement with Iraq. Since the U.S. departure, Iraq has descended into violence as the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has targeted Sunni opposition figures. The country at times appears to teeter on the edge of a new outbreak of sectarian violence.

Meanwhile, the president’s claim that the Taliban’s “momentum has been broken” is a highly debatable claim. U.S. intelligence agencies, for instance, recently concluded in a secret assessment that the war in Afghanistan “is mired in stalemate” and that security gains from an increase in American troops “have been undercut by pervasive corruption, incompetent governance and Taliban fighters operating from neighboring Pakistan,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Other U.S. officials have dissented from the report’s conclusions, but the dispute is an indication of how fragile any momentum may be. (more…)



Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 logo
January 24, 2012

By John Hawkins


During the practically endless series of Republican debates, we have heard almost every question imaginable asked to Republican candidates – if by every question imaginable, you mean horribly slanted, often irrelevant questions designed to make them look bad and help Obama. We’ve heard questions about contraceptives, religion, Newt’s angry ex-wife, Gardasil, etc., etc., etc. So, what would happen if the mainstream media treated Barack Obama the exact same way that they treat Republicans? The questions might sound a little something like this.

1) Numerous Mexican citizens and an American citizen have been killed with weapons knowingly provided to criminals by our own government during Operation Fast and Furious. If Eric Holder was aware that was going on, do you think he should step down as Attorney General? Were you aware that was going on and if so, shouldn’t you resign?

2) In 2010 you said Solyndra, which gave your campaign a lot of money, was “leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future.” Today, Solyndra is bankrupt and the taxpayers lost $500 million on loans that your administration was well aware might never be paid off when you made them. What do you say to people who say this is evidence of corruption in your administration?

3) Unions invested a lot of time and money in helping to get you elected. In return, they gained majority control of Chrysler, the taxpayers lost 14 billion dollars on General Motors, and General Motors received a special 45 billion dollar tax break. What do you say to people who view this as corruption on a scale never before seen in American history?

4) Through dubious means, you and your allies in Congress managed to push through an incredibly unpopular health care bill that helped lead to the worst election night for the Democratic Party in 50 years. Since the bill has passed, many of your claims about the bill have proven to be untrue. For example, we now know the bill won’t lower costs and despite your assurances to the contrary, big companies like McDonald’s say they may drop health care because of the health care reform. Since the American people have rejected your health care reform and it doesn’t do what you said it would, shouldn’t you work with the Republicans to repeal it? (more…)



Friday, January 20th, 2012





Wednesday, December 28th, 2011
The Wall Street Journal

  • DECEMBER 16, 2011

Obama billed last year’s cut as a one-year holiday to boost the economy. Now preserving it is about fairness.

  • By ARI FLEISCHER Mr. Fleischer, a former press secretary for President George W. Bush, is president of Ari Fleischer Communications.

EXCERPT FROM THIS ARTICLE:  Clearly, Mr. Obama can’t be trusted with the trust fund. As part of his re-election bid, he is so eager to win votes by handing out money that he is willing to undermine Social Security, while providing a temporary tax cut paid for by a permanent tax hike. Unlike the 2001 bipartisan, marginal income-tax rate cuts, the payroll-tax cut was sold in 2010 as a one-year tax “holiday” with the intention of boosting the economy. Now the president has changed his rhetoric and the cut is about “fairness” and giving middle-income Americans more money.

The sparring between Republicans and Democrats over how to pay for an extension of the payroll-tax break is one more sign of how rotten the tax code is and why the entire thing needs to be thrown out and replaced with a system that fosters economic growth instead of endless redistribution of income.

House Republicans on Tuesday passed a bill to extend a payroll-tax break and offset the revenue loss with spending cuts. President Obama immediately promised to veto the bill because Democrats prefer to pay for payroll-tax cuts with tax increases on the wealthy.

Neither approach gets to the root of the problem, but at least Republicans are cutting spending. The whole idea of having a dedicated payroll tax that supports a Social Security “trust fund” rests on the notion that you get what you pay for. A worker suffers payroll-tax deductions that the government is supposed to hold onto, separated from the rest of the budget, to fund a large portion of that worker’s Social Security and Medicare payments upon retirement. (more…)



Thursday, December 22nd, 2011
Published on The Weekly Standard (

A Nightmare of a Dream Team

Obama’s intellectuals.

Andrew Ferguson

December 19, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 14

Is it possible that the people who run the Obama administration aren’t as smart as we’ve been led to believe?

Stay with me here, seriously. I’m thinking now of the administration’s much-publicized devotion to behavioral economics. Not long after his election, Time magazine noted that Barack Obama had surrounded himself with a “dream team” of behavioral economists, outside-the-box envelope-pushers like Peter Orszag, who became the administration’s first head of the Office of Management and Budget, and Cass Sunstein, whom the president appointed as his “regulatory czar.”

Behavioral economics is très chic. All the coolest economists are into it. It partakes of the obsession with social science that has lately gripped the  country’s smart people, who exhibit a grinding need to quantify human behavior so that it will become more predictable, describable, and controllable. To meet demand, a steady flow of “studies” in human behavior passes through the sluice gates of university departments of accounting, psychology, marketing, sociology, business, and of course economics. From these the behavioral economists build vast edifices of theory and now, thanks to President Obama, public policy too.

The most salient of these policies was the Making Work Pay tax credit of 2009 and 2010. It was an essential element of the president’s famous $250 billion “middle-class tax cut,” which was slapped like a defibrillator onto the limp and supine figure of the American economy a couple years ago. The MWP was carefully designed according to the principles of behavioral economics, and now it seems not to have worked the way it was supposed to.

Behavioral economics is based on the belief that we human beings behave irrationally in measurable and predictable ways, and quite often we don’t have the slightest idea why we do what we do, though social scientists can do experiments that will tell us. This point of view contrasts with the working premise of more traditional economics, which assumes that people will pursue their economic self-interest, rationally defined. (more…)



Monday, December 5th, 2011
The Wall Street Journal

[CECON] ReutersResidential buildings under construction in the Kangbashi ‘ghost town’ in Ordos in Inner Mongolia, now hit by falling prices and unsold inventory.

ORDOS, China—For a sense of the sharp policy shift China’s leaders have to orchestrate to avoid the world’s second-largest economy landing with a hard thud, look no further than this Inner Mongolia desert town, where construction cranes have come to an abrupt standstill.

Just as a European crisis and a weak U.S. recovery are hurting Chinese exporters, the confidence that had sustained China’s property boom is evaporating, causing a double whammy for growth: fading demand overseas and at home at the same time.

The construction slump couldn’t have come at a worse moment for China’s factories. A key manufacturing measure Thursday, the official purchasing-managers index, fell to 49 in November, below the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction and the lowest since the financial crisis in February 2009.

On Friday, China’s central bank for the first time acknowledged that the country’s housing prices have reached a turning point, citing a decline in property investment, land-transaction volumes and prices.

With both the real-estate and export sectors in trouble, the warning light on China’s growth is flashing red. Like in the last crisis, China’s leaders have been quick to react but this time around their options are limited. (more…)



Friday, December 2nd, 2011


December 1, 2011

by Rick Newman

The bank bailouts in 2008 and 2009 were controversial because wealthy bankers seemed like the last people who needed help. Now, the Federal Reserve and other central banks are rescuing one group held in even lower regard than bankers: politicians.

[See 11 dates investors need to watch.]

Financial markets cheered recently when the Fed and five other central banks took action to ease a credit crunch in Europe’s financial sector. Stocks soared, as investors expressed relief that somebody, finally, seemed able to do something decisive to improve the situation in Europe.

Yet the central bank maneuvers, meant to ease the ability of foreign banks to trade their currencies for dollars, do nothing to address the fundamental debt problem bedeviling Europe. Euro-zone nations such as Greece, Italy and Spain remain overwhelmed with debt, with no agreement in sight on how they can fix their finances and make their economies more competitive. Central banks temporarily easing the strain may even make the required fixes less likely, since it gives politicians wiggle room to stall on reforms needed to rein in profligate spending.

The bank bailouts in 2008 and 2009 stabilized the U.S. financial system, but they also added to the “moral hazard” that contributed to the problem in the first place. By making it clear that the government wouldn’t let big banks fail, the bailouts signaled that bankers can get away with risky moves, since the feds will always provide a safety net. The Federal Reserve and its compatriots in Europe and Japan are now basically creating political moral hazard, by letting elected officials know that if they can’t get the job done, the central banks will step in to prevent a full-blown disaster. It’s an invitation to further recklessness that politicians don’t need. (more…)



Wednesday, November 9th, 2011
The Wall Street Journal

  • NOVEMBER 8, 2011

Like the ’90s Never Happened

A former New Democrat known for his centrist economic policies, Bill Clinton now favors vast new government spending and higher taxes.

Bill Clinton ascended to the White House as a New Democrat, wisely repudiating what had been a quarter-century of big-government liberalism and embracing instead welfare reform, deficit reduction, spending restraint, a strong and noninflationary dollar, and free trade. One might thus expect “Back to Work” to be a sharp condemnation of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and, of course, Barack Obama for their abandonment of his centrist policies. After all, today’s Democratic Party—in the wake of the 2006 elections (which elevated Ms. Pelosi to speaker of the House and Mr. Reid to Senate majority leader) and Mr. Obama’s victory in 2008—has run up the national debt to once-unthinkable levels: $4 trillion now, with $10 trillion to come over the next decade. The federal budget has swollen by nearly $1 trillion in five years, or twice as much as spending rose during Mr. Clinton’s eight years in office.

Editorial board member Steve Moore discusses former President Bill Clinton’s new book, “Back to Work.”

But instead of offering Democrats a road map for a return to the center, “Back to Work” is an ode to big government. It is also a screed against Republican “antigovernment ideologues”—e.g., Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell—who are of course responsible for every problem in the country. It was, Mr. Clinton says, the Republicans’ “thirty-year-old antigovernment philosophy that got us into this crisis.”

Such a broad claim requires—how to put it?—an imaginative approach to history. “After World War II,” Mr. Clinton writes, “until 1981, government policies helped us build the world’s greatest middle class.” Right, everything in America was going great until the voters foolishly elected Ronald Reagan president. In truth, the 1970s were a calamity for American families. One of the biggest three-year declines in real middle-class incomes in the second half of the 20th century came during the stagflation of Jimmy Carter’s presidency. The middle class made healthy income gains in the 1980s under Reagan, which helps explain why he was re-elected in a landslide. (more…)



Tuesday, November 1st, 2011 logo
November 1, 2011

By John Ransom


A financially-troubled Canadian alternative energy company with ties to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid paid a director the lion’s share of $758,828 (CAD) in reported consulting fees, according to an analysis of the filings made by the company. The fee was a part of a consulting agreement in order to successfully arrange a loan guarantee by the Department of Energy.

The loan, made by insurance powerhouse John Hancock, could put taxpayers at risk for 80 percent of both interest and principal due to the insurance company under the terms of the agreement amidst signs that the energy company may be bankrupt by the end of the year.

In the June filings for Canadian-based Nevada Geothermal, which according to the New York Times employs only 22 people in Nevada, the company’s auditors issued “going-concern” warnings that without additional investment or revenues, the company could cease operations.

At stake is about $135 million in financing by the federal government including loan guarantees and grants, says the Times. (more…)



Monday, October 24th, 2011


EDITORIAL: The solar swindle

Subsidies are the only thing green about the Solyndra scandal


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

FBI agents stand guard outside the headquarters of Solyndra, a solar firm in Fremont, Calif., on Sept. 8, 2011. The FBI executed search warrants at the headquarters of the firm, which received a $535 million loan from the federal government. (Associated Press)FBI agents stand guard outside the headquarters of Solyndra, a solar firm in Fremont, Calif., on Sept. 8, 2011. The FBI executed search warrants at the headquarters of the firm, which received a $535 million loan from the federal government. (Associated Press)

The O Force has been running up America’s credit card by doling out cash to energy firms claiming to be green. Bosses at solar panel manufacturer Solyndra are busy taking the Fifth, and Obama administration officials are pleading ignorance over how an unsustainable enterprise was able to bag $535 million in taxpayer loot. In the coming days, Congress is likely to get to the bottom of exactly who knew what and when. There’s more to come with this scandal, but for now, one conclusion is clear already: You can’t outsmart the market.

At the outset of his presidency, Barack Obama thought he could do just that. His agenda was designed to drive up the cost of efficient, carbon-based energy to match the price of expensive power wearing the trendy “renewable” label. The rationale: When artificially inflated prices for oil, natural gas and coal begin to bleed consumers dry, they’ll have no choice but to turn to politically correct forms of energy like sunlight, wind and biofuels. The “greenhouse gas” menace would end, according to liberal belief, purported global warming would be remedied, and we finally would “get ourselves back to the Garden,” as the iconic Woodstock-era song urged. (more…)

Search All Posts