Democrat congressman accidentally honest with public

**Posted by Phineas

"We're here for your fair share."

“We’re here for your fair share.”

I’m sure Rep. Ellison will get an earful from Minority Leader Pelosi for giving the game away:

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) told a gathering of Democrats, “The bottom line is we’re not broke, there’s plenty of money, it’s just the government doesn’t have it.”

So, there you have it. It’s not your money; it’s Washington’s to redistribute as it sees fit. Like Obama. Ellison thinks the government has first call on your money. Unlike Obama, he wants it all. The President, at least, only wants your excess income.

“Excess” as defined by the government, of course.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

On Detroit, bankruptcy, and President Obama

An October 2012 tweet from our celebrity President:


The story on what happened today, via Fox News:

Detroit filed for the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history Thursday after steep population and tax base declines sent it tumbling toward insolvency.

The filing by a state-appointed emergency manager means that if the bankruptcy filing is approved, city assets could be liquidated to satisfy demands for payment.

Kevin Orr, a bankruptcy expert, was hired by the state in March to lead Detroit out of a fiscal free-fall, and made the filing Thursday in federal bankruptcy court.

“Only one feasible path offers a way out,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a letter to Orr and state Treasurer Andy Dillon approving the bankruptcy. The letter was attached to the bankruptcy filing.

“The citizens of Detroit need and deserve a clear road out of the cycle of ever-decreasing services,” Snyder wrote. “The city’s creditors, as well as its many dedicated public servants, deserve to know what promises the city can and will keep. The only way to do those things is to radically restructure the city and allow it to reinvent itself without the burden of impossible obligations.”

Snyder had determined earlier this year that Detroit was in a financial emergency and without a plan to improve things. Snyder hired Orr in March, and he released a plan to restructure the city’s debt and obligations that would leave many creditors with much less than they are owed.

Detroit isn’t the only city in Michigan in financial dire straits, but it’s the biggest.

Sadly, Detroit isn’t the only liberal city run into the ground by Democrats that faces this situation. Baltimore may be next. From a February Huffington Post piece:

WASHINGTON — The Baltimore city government is on a path to financial ruin and must enact major reforms to stave off bankruptcy, according to a 10-year forecast the city commissioned from an outside firm.

The forecast, obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its release to the public and the City Council on Wednesday, shows that the city will accumulate $745 million in budget deficits over the next decade because of a widening gap between projected revenues and expenditures.

If the city’s infrastructure needs and its liability for retiree health care benefits are included, the total shortfall reaches $2 billion over 10 years, the report found. Baltimore’s annual operating budget is $2.2 billion.

The report was prepared by Philadelphia-based Public Financial Management Inc., a consulting firm that has prepared similar forecasts for Miami, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and the District of Columbia. Baltimore’s decision to commission the forecast differs from those cities because each of them had already ceded financial oversight to the state, or in the district’s case, the federal government.

The forecast will provide the basis for financial reforms that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake plans to propose next week. The city has dealt with budget deficits for the past several years, closing a $121 million gap in 2010. But those deficits have been addressed with one-time fixes that haven’t addressed the long-term structural imbalance.

“When you have budget after budget and you know that there are systemic problems, I felt an obligation to do more than what we have done in the past,” Rawlings-Blake told the AP. The forecast, she said, shows that the city needs to address its financial woes “before it’s too late, and somebody is coming in and making these choices for us.”

That’s what happened to the District of Columbia, 38 miles to the south, in 1995 after the city reported a budget deficit of $700 million. Congress created a financial control board that instituted tight spending controls and ultimately took over all hiring and firing in nine city agencies. The spending cuts, combined with a robust regional and national economy, drove the nation’s capital back into the black.

Are y’all detecting the same pattern I am?

They said if I voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, that Detroit would end up having to file bankruptcy. And they were right.

Obama speaks in Detroit

How many failures can you spot in this picture?
(Photo via MarketWatch)

Mongolian Nazi Greens!!

**Posted by Phineas

As in headlines that make you say “huh?”

Mongolian Neo-Nazis rebrand as environmentalists to harass foreign business

Mongolian neo-Nazis have latched on to environmentalism as a way new way to fight the influence of foreigners in the country.

The group Tsagaan Khass, or the White Swastika, is now one of several neo-Nazi groups linking the country’s vast mineral resources to Mongolian nationalism, going so far as to launch raids on mining projects of foreign-owned companies to demand things like paperwork and soil samples.

“We used to talk about fighting with foreigners, but some time ago we realised that is not efficient, so our purpose changed from fighting foreigners in the streets to fighting the mining companies,” Tsagaan Khass leader, Ariunbold Altankhuum told Reuters.

The White Swastika got their start like so many Fascist and Neo-Nazi groups: economic difficulties combined with a resentment of foreigners and a firm belief that Mongolians are being cheated, the mix of which gets funneled into a violent nationalism. But, according to the Mongolian police, they represent a very small threat. I don’t think we’ll have to worry about sieg-heiling Mongol hordes sweeping off the steppes while singing Die Wacht am Rhein.

What’s odd (1) at first glance is the redirection into environmentalism. But it really isn’t, when you think about it; a love of Nature was a large component of German Romanticism, which influenced the development of the Nazis, who themselves were strong environmentalists. Hitler was an ardent environmentalist, so I’m not surprised his Mongolian fans would adopt it as part of their National Socialism.

Oh, yeah, that “Socialism” part. Fascism, and its specific Nazi variant, are products of the Left, falling under the broader umbrella of “Statism,” along with Progressivism, Socialism, and Communism. And all, to one degree or another, use environmentalism as a means of extending state control over individuals.

And, no, I’m not saying that Progressives are Nazis, though they both share roots and an unhealthy reverence for the State;  nor does it make one a totalitarian to want to take good care of the land and the sea. But stray a ways into Environmentalism as a religious ideology, and those pretty Greens start turning Red.

I wonder what the Mongolian is for “Watermelons?”

Footnotes:

(1) Aside from the combination of Nazis and Mongolia, which we all know is ludicrous; the Nazis are really hiding out in secret bases in Antarctica.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Churchill understood what Progressives want

**Posted by Phineas

"Wisdom"

“Wisdom”

It’s a heckuva busy day today with little time for posting, but I have to share this gem via Steven Hayward at Power Line. It’s an excerpt from a longer quote from Winston Churchill’s closing speech in the 1945 General Election, which the Conservatives sadly lost. Read these two paragraphs, and tell me if you don’t recognize the modern Democratic Party, at least by reflection:

Look how even today they hunger for controls of every kind, as if these were delectable foods instead of wartime inflictions and monstrosities. There is to be one State to which all are to be obedient in every act of their lives. The State is to be the arch-employer, the arch-planner, and arch-administrator and ruler and the arch-caucus-boss. . .

A Socialist State once thoroughly completed in all its details and its aspects—and that is what I am speaking of—could not afford to suffer opposition. . . Socialism is, in its essence, an attack not only upon British enterprise, but upon the right of the ordinary man or woman to breathe freely without having a harsh, clumsy, tyrannical hand clapped across their mouths and nostrils. . . Have we not heard Mr Herbert Morrison descant upon his plans to curtail Parliamentary procedure and pass laws simply by resolution of broad principle in the House of Commons, afterward to be left by Parliament to the executive and to the bureaucrats to elaborate and enforce by departmental regulations?

Churchill was of course criticizing the British Labour Party, which had been founded as an explicitly Socialist, albeit non-Marxist, party, but how well this describes President Obama and the dominant left wing of the Democratic Party! The worship of the administrative state, government by regulation and “boards of experts,” the inescapable, inexorable need to control everything — that bolded portion illustrates the progressive “theory of legislation” perfectly: pass a vaguely-worded bill, and let the unelected bureaucrats fill in the details with the full force of law. I’m surprised Goldberg didn’t quote this in “Liberal Fascism.”

Be sure to read the rest. While Hayward is thinking of Obamacare and the IRS scandal, I think Churchill’s quote reflects the heart of the professional Democratic Party in general.

Back to work…

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Oh, no. This won’t set off conservative and libertarian alarm bells at all.

**Posted by Phineas

"The State watches over you"

“The State watches over you”

I mean, what’s so threatening about a biometric database of all adult Americans being in the immigration bill, citizen?

The immigration reform measure the Senate began debating yesterday would create a national biometric database of virtually every adult in the U.S., in what privacy groups fear could be the first step to a ubiquitous national identification system.

Buried in the more than 800 pages of the bipartisan legislation (.pdf)  is language mandating the creation of the innocuously-named “photo tool,” a massive federal database administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.

Employers would be obliged to look up every new hire in the database to verify that they match their photo.

This piece of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act is aimed at curbing employment of undocumented immigrants. But privacy advocates fear the inevitable mission creep, ending with the proof of self being required at polling places, to rent a house, buy a gun, open a bank account, acquire credit, board a plane or even attend a sporting event or log on the internet. Think of it as a government version of Foursquare, with Big Brother cataloging every check-in.

Emphasis added.

Nah, there are no 4th Amendment illegal search and privacy concerns here. Nothing to see, carry on. After all, wingnuts, you demanded greater security in the immigration bill and, well, here ya go! The government will make sure only bona fide Americans get jobs by keeping track of each and every one of us. And if they should find other uses for the information, well, that will be for the public good, too.

And you thought Person of Interest was just fiction.

If this Wired story is true, this provision is reason enough to kill the bill.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

3D printed guns scare progressives, so of course they want to ban them

**Posted by Phineas

Because the future is frightening.

First, a BBC news video to show you what the fuss is all about:

The Telegraph describes it thus:

Instructions for making The Liberator, a plastic handgun that could escape detection by conventional airport security, were today made freely available to download from the internet by anti-government activists in the US.

It was created by a group in Texas that aims to make “WikiWeapons” that can be reproduced with a home computer and a $1,000 (£644) 3D printer that uses heated plastics instead of ink.

“It’s a demonstration that technology will allow access to things that governments would otherwise say that you shouldn’t have access to,” Cody Wilson, the leader of Defense Distributed, told The Daily Telegraph.

Emphasis added. And that scares statists like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who’s first, knee-jerk reaction is to ban it:

The Liberator may look like a toy, but “this gun can fire regular bullets,” Schumer said, calling for legislation outlawing the technology’s weapons potential.

The bill was drafted by Rep. Steve Israel (D-L.I.).

“Security checkpoints, background checks and gun regulations will do little good if criminals can print their own plastic firearms at home and bring those firearms through metal detectors with no one the wiser,” Israel said in a statement.

To Schumer, the ramifications of make-your-own untraceable and undetectable weapons are “stomach-churning.”

“Now anyone, a terrorist, someone who is mentally ill, a spousal abuser, a felon, can essentially open a gun factory in their garage,” Schumer said. “It must be stopped.”

Apparently Chuck (and Rep. Israel) have never heard of improvised firearms, before, such as the Sten gun, meant to be made in home workshops. And Loyalist militias in Northern Ireland practically made a hobby out of homemade submachine guns. (So did the I.R.A., from what I’m told.)

But it’s not what the terrorist or criminal might do with the weapon that truly scares progressives, though I doubt even Schumer realizes this. Look again at the bolded quote above — Wilson nails it. What truly scares the progressive statist is the loss of control.  The ideal, for Schumer and those like him, is the administrative state run by bureaucratic experts who decide what’s best for everyone. Life is too complicated for the “average Joe,” so we need ever more legislation and regulation to keep everyone safe and prosperous in line. That includes access to firearms, which have advanced beyond anything the writers of that dear, but now obsolete Constitution could imagine.

What frightens them is that it makes their precious regulations powerless. Like I wrote before on this issue:

But now think about the effect on gun control: this (3D priting) is the discontinuous innovation. Statists and gun-banners and those standing on the graves of children can scream as loud as they want for ever more laws controlling firearms, maybe even get them, but, as long as you can download the plans and have access to a printer… All those laws are useless. They’re the modern buggy-whips.

An idea once conceived cannot be un-thought, and technology once discovered cannot be undiscovered. Even the secret of making an atomic bomb is out there, in spite of all our efforts to keep it classified;  only the difficulty of obtaining the materials and constructing it have slowed its spread.

But combine 3D printers (which are only going to get smaller, cheaper, and more portable) with easy information distribution — hello, torrent sites! – and, well, Schumer and his wise, progressive control-freak buddies can write all the laws and regulations they want; it just won’t do any good. People will ignore them.

And that’s what scares the pants off progressives.

PS: I can see one potentially big benefit to the advent of 3D firearms: by showing how useless gun-control regulations are, it might actually spur us to deal with the real problem behind mass shootings, such as at Aurora and Newtown — mental illness and the lousy state of mental health care in the US.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Corker: Watt heading Federal Housing Finance Agency = “fox guarding the hen house”

As you’ve probably already heard, in the latest example of this administration’s naked cronyism (THIS WEEK), President Obama has nominated my Congressman in Name Only – Mel Watt – to oversee the Federal Housing Finance Agency.   The nomination has already sparked controversy, and for good reasons:

President Barack Obama nominated Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., as the new director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Wednesday, but the president’s pick could face strong headwinds in his confirmation hearings as policymakers continue to bicker over the future of government mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

[…]

The Obama administration has struggled to find a replacement for Ed DeMarco who has served as the agency’s acting director since 2009. Obama previously nominated North Carolina Commissioner of Banks Joseph Smith for the post in 2011, but Smith later withdrew his bid after running into strong resistance from Republicans.

Watt has been in Congress for 20 years and is a longtime member of the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees housing issues. According to multiple sources, Watt was tapped to the FHFA’s next director because of his experience on the committee as well as his role in brokering the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.

“Mel has led efforts to rein in unscrupulous mortgage lenders and he’s fought to give more Americans in lower income neighborhoods access to affordable housing,” Obama said in press conference announcing Watt’s nomination Wednesday. “He knows better than anyone else what started the housing crisis and he knows what it’s going to take for responsible homeowners to fully recover.”

Uh, he most certainly does NOT “know better than anyone else” what started the housing crisis. Watt was part of the Democrat demagogue brigade during the Bush admin who pushed BACK on efforts to REFORM the oversight for Fannie and Freddie:

But Watt’s road to confirmation won’t be a smooth one. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., released a statement Wednesday objecting to the nomination arguing that a new director should not be considered until there’s a clearer picture of the future of Fannie and Freddie, entities which have been under federal conservatorship since 2008 and now play an outsized role in the housing market, according to some critics.

“I could not be more disappointed in this nomination. This gives new meaning to the adage that the fox is guarding the hen house,” he said. “The debate around his nomination will illuminate for all Americans why Fannie and Freddie failed so miserably.”

Anthony Sanders, professor of real estate finance at George Mason University, similarly characterized the appointment calling it akin to having the cookie monster in charge of keeping Congress out of the proverbial cookie jar.

“Watt is part of the Congressional Black Caucus, which has been very active in promoting principal reduction and the easing or mortgage standards, basically recreating the same disaster we had last decade,” Sanders says. “This is a political appointment for a person who wants to put the foot on the gas again.”

Sanders also points out that some of Watt’s biggest donors are also some of the nation’s biggest banking interests, a factor that could trip him up at his confirmation hearings. According to OpenSecrets.org, among Watt’s top five contributors between 1992 and 2012, three (Bank of America, the American Bankers’ Association, and Wachovia) were in the banking industry.

Oops …

But hey, Watt’s black (a bonus when it comes to the admin’s “diversity issues”), and he’s from a state the Democrats would like to win back in 2016, so what they hey … why not nominate him to help oversee the industry he and his fellow liberals pushed to give home loans to risky people? #HeadDesk

Quote of the Day: On #GunControl, Obama, and lameducks

**Posted by Phineas

Writing in the Telegraph, Tim Stanley makes a trenchant observation in the wake of the defeat the gun-control bill in the Senate yesterday and the President’s angry reaction:

4. Barack Obama is a lame-duck president. Nobody listens to what he says anymore, nobody is interested in winning his approval and nobody much cares if he thinks they have “let the country down”. This is typical for a second-term president who has lost all their leverage because they’re no longer running for office and everybody is patiently waiting for the day when he quits the White House. But Obama’s difficult personality has doubled the size of the challenge. Gloating in victory, adolescent in defeat – the Prez doesn’t make it easy to work with him. Why should conservative senators give him a legislative victory after he has spent four years painting them as knuckle-dragging rednecks who hate women and the poor?

Narcissists just can’t stand it when their carefully nurtured inflated sense of self-esteem is punctured. When it happens, they take it personally and we get petulant tantrums, as we saw yesterday.

But this is just one victory for civil liberties against Progressive usurpations. Obama may have been checked in Congress on this, he may have little “banked political capital” left to shove major legislation through, but the presidency still has immense regulatory power, and Obama has often expressed regret that he couldn’t just bypass Congress.

The fact is that he can, quite effectively. So, while we indulge in a little justified satisfaction in this win for reason and constitutionalism, let’s also remain wary.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Hide your IRAs: Obama admin. — “We think you’ve saved enough!”

**Posted by Phineas

"We're here for your fair share."

“We’re here for your fair share.”

Or maybe it’s the off-ramp to Cyprus.

Over at lefty blog Talking Points Memo (h/t Joel Gehrke), Brian Beutler has noted an interesting item in the White House’s latest budget proposal: a cap on the amount one is allowed to save in tax-deferred accounts. Anything over that is open to the taxman.

Per the budget, “Individual Retirement Accounts and other tax-preferred savings vehicles are intended to help middle class families save for retirement. But under current rules, some wealthy individuals are able to accumulate many millions of dollars in these accounts, substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving.”

But how would they close this loophole?

One way experts believe financial managers avoid the current annual contribution limit to IRAs is by using IRAs to participate in investments and assigning those investment interests a nominal value vastly below fair market.

Obama wouldn’t curb this practice directly. Instead his budget calls for an overall cap of about $3 million on the net balance across all of an individuals’ tax-preferred accounts. Only have one IRA? It can hold $3 million. Have three? Their holdings must sum to $3 million or less.

The $3 million figure is approximate. A formula would set the cap at a level just high enough to finance an annual distribution of no more than $205,000 per year in retirement for someone retiring this year.

Now, I can imagine TPM is just thrilled with this; it just reeks of class warfare disguised as “fairness.” We’ve got “reasonable levels” (Defined by whom? Oh, wait…) and the ever popular “loophole,” with its scent of someone getting away with something, cheating the rest of us.

What the administration is talking about, I believe, are self-directed IRAs  and other retirement vehicles that allow you to invest your money where you see fit (1). When you sell the stock and withdraw the funds, under the rules you’re taxed at a much lower rate. It’s a great vehicle for wealth creation and the encouragement of saving for retirement.

And that’s what they can’t stand. The rules as written prevent them from taxing this sheltered wealth to fund their bloated spending, so they’re going to change the rules. Oh sure, they say this is aimed the the “Romneys” of the world, those rich people who have sheltered more the $3 million, but how long do you think that barrier will last? About as long as it takes them to realize they need more.

Rocco always wants more.

This idea to tax sheltered money isn’t new; FDR, to whom Obama acolytes compare him, has his own undistributed profits tax, to punish businesses that were holding on to cash. (Look out, Apple!) That scheme blew up in Roosevelt’s face as business investment collapsed and the nation entered a new recession in 1937-38. You can bet a move like this would have its own unintended consequences, which the social engineers at Team Unicorn would blame on anyone but their own ham-handed, grasping, greedy policies.

This is progressivism showing its face as Leviathan. Forget that it was your skill and acumen and good habits that accumulated that wealth (and, through investing it, helped others by creating jobs, &c.); forget that this is, in the end, your money, yours to dispose of as you see fit, beyond that portion needed to fund the basic functions of government.

Forget all that.

The administrative state beloved by progressives knows what’s best. It has its plans and goals for us all, because it has divined the national will. Thus all the resources of the nation are at its disposal to meet those goals.

Including your retirement accounts.

This budget is dead on arrival, thank Heaven, but don’t think this scheme is going away. Oh, no. Once broached, it’s out there, waiting.

PS: I wonder if this is where Obama got the idea?

Footnote:
(1) You know: your money, your property, your liberty.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

So, one of the schmucks who designed Obamacare warns it’s “too complex.”

**Posted by Phineas

Now that he’s retiring and doesn’t have to face the wrath of voters, Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) feels free to speak his mind:

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, one of the towering architects of Obamacare, on Tuesday openly criticized program managers for not moving quickly enough to build the system, warning that if it gets off to a bumpy start it will just get worse.

Decrying the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as way too complex, he warned the acting Medicare director that Obamacare is “so complicated and if it isn’t done right the first time, it will just simply get worse.”

The retiring senator also told Marilyn Tavenner at her Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that Obamacare rivals tax reform in its capacity to confuse Americans.

Gee, ya think???

"Need a navigator, bub?"

“This? Confusing?? Surely you jest.”

Though I don’t see what Senator “I designed this monstrosity” is complaining about; people can always get a navigator and a translator.

And don’t you find Rockefeller’s naive faith that there was any chance in Hades that Obamacare’s implementation could ever be “done right” touching and quaint? He helped create it; surely someone can figure out how to make it work!

Why, I bet he believes in the tooth fairy, too.

Memo to those who voted for Obama in 2008 and, especially, 2012: We tried to warn you!

Next time, listen.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)