Friday, April 15, 2011

General Economics

CNN Money | Gas spike feeds inflation pain
High gas prices caused inflation to rise at the fastest pace in more than a year in March.
CNN Money | China's economy slows, as inflation remains feverish
China's economy grew at a slightly slower rate in the first quarter, as food prices continued to surge and limit the purchasing power of consumers.
Fox | Obama's $5 Billion Weatherizing Program Wastes Stimulus Funds, Auditors Find
President Obama's $5 billion stimulus injection into a decades-old program to help lower energy bills for millions of low-income families by retrofitting their homes to improve efficiency has been plagued by cases of mismanagement, waste and fraud in several states.
USA Today | Food and gas costs push consumer prices higher
Americans are paying more for food and gas, a trend that could slow economic growth in the months ahead.
Bloomberg | Losing 84 Cents on Dollar Reveals Runaway U.S. Public Pensions
The buyer was a statewide pension plan for municipal law officers. The fund assembled golf and real estate holdings that lost 84 cents on each dollar the police spent on them over 10 years. The losses are emblematic of a decade in which the $1.2 billion program went from fully funded to $836.3 million short of meeting future retirement obligations.
Bloomberg | Consumer Sentiment in U.S. Rose More Than Forecast in April
Confidence among U.S. consumers climbed in April from a 16-month low, indicating job gains are helping Americans cope with rising fuel costs.

NRO: The Corner | End Subsidies for the Rich
The president must know that that the top 1 percent of taxpayers already pay 38 percent of federal income taxes (before payroll taxes) and the top 10 percent pay 70 percent.
Heritage Foundation: The Foundry | America Outmatches China Economically (For Now)
China announced its economic results for the first quarter this morning. GDP was said to grow a strong 9.7 percent, while consumer inflation reached a worrisome 5 percent.
NRO: The Corner | re: Two Visions
Unfortunately, as much as I like the Ryan plan, I fear that as long as we continue arguing that everyone deserves to be taken care of by the government simply for being American and over 65, we are unlikely to find a solution that will address our long-term budget problems.
AEI: The American | Are Too-Big Firms Becoming Tools of Big Gov?
In the past, there was nothing strange about the idea that financial specialists might be enlisted to help guide congressional policy, but in the era of the Dodd-Frank Act, it is necessary to consider whether these Wall Street executives are doing this voluntarily or because they fear government retaliation if they refuse.

Heritage Foundation | Ryan Budget Plan Promotes Housing Recovery by Ending Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
While much of the press attention has focused on other parts of the budget plan put forth by Representative Paul Ryan (R–WI), a key provision is its call for an end to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two housing giants that essentially failed and were taken over by their regulator in 2008.
RCM: Wells Fargo | Wholesale Prices Jump Again in March
Led by another large gain in energy, the headline Producer Price Index rose 0.7 percent in March. Excluding food and energy, finished goods prices increased a stronger-than-expected 0.3 percent.
Heritage Foundation | The United States vs. China—Which Economy Is Bigger, Which Is Better
China’s leap from poverty due to the marvelously successful market reforms introduced in 1978 has obscured serious weaknesses in its economy—especially compared to the American economy. These weaknesses have been exacerbated by renewed Chinese state intervention that began around 2003. Many seem convinced that China is at the cusp of surpassing the U.S. economically. But Americans should not lose track of their huge advantages over the Chinese—in income, in natural resources, and in surprising areas such as labor.

Health Care

CNN: Money | Who pays for Obama's Medicare plan? Hint: Not seniors
When it comes to deciding who pays to reduce runaway Medicare costs, President Obama and House Republicans have very different views.
NationalJournal | First, Do No Harm
Republicans and Democrats have competing visions for fixing Medicare. The plans carry contrasting risks.
NationalJournal | HHS Offers Cash to States For Medicaid
Federal health officials offered a lifeline Thursday to cash-strapped states struggling to fund their share of Medicaid and children’s health programs.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
CNN: Money | Paul Ryan's Medicare 'reform' hocus pocus
The Wisconsin congressman's proposed Medicare fix sure sounds wonderful, but it would leave the average Medicare recipient befuddled at best and on a path toward financial catastrophe at worst. 
RCM | Improving New Jersey's Health Benefit Reform
In New Jersey, there is broad agreement that public employees should pay more of their health insurance premiums. Governor Chris Christie (R) wants all state and local workers to pay 30 percent of their insurance premiums. Senate President Steve Sweeney (D) wants to put contributions on a sliding scale, with low income workers paying 12 percent and those making over $100,000 paying 30 percent.

MarginalRevolution | A Christian Scientist’s guide for opting out of Medicare
You can’t get your “money back,” but you can have the payments transferred to a qualified Christian Science care facility.  In other words, Medicare will pay for prayer.  A few points:
Fox Business | Obamacare -- Supersized!!!
The president's speech put the pedal to the metal on Obamacare - even though the White House says their plan cuts spending by $300 billion over the next ten years for Medicare and Medicaid. It manages this neat twist by giving even more power to an obscure government board called the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which will have the power to control spending, doubling down on the original law's price controls and central planning.


Fox Business | Proposed Tax Hikes Would Target Families Earning $250K+
...the Office of Management and Budget said the plan's $1 trillion in new tax revenues would be generated mainly by reducing or eliminating tax deductions for individuals earning more than $200,000 a year and families earning more than $250,000 annually.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
NRO | What the Taxman Wrought
“Taxman” was inspired by the fact that during their heyday, the Beatles were subject to the super tax, meaning that their earnings were taxed at marginal rates of up to 95 percent
WSJ | Waste, Fraud and Abuse
He then outlined a four-step "approach"--it wasn't detailed enough to achieve planhood--that showed his promise of honesty to be an utter fraud.
Cato Institute | Obama's Soak-the-Rich Tax Hikes Won't Work
Even if the president could persuade Congress to enact all of his proposed tax increases, in addition to surtaxes already included in ObamaCare, the CBO finds we would still face endless budget deficits averaging 4.8% of GDP.
Washington Times | KING: It’s time to shut down the IRS
FairTax would end disincentives for productive behavior.
WSJ | The Forgotten Tax Revolt of the 1930s
When thousands of Chicago property owners went on a tax strike, the mayor threatened to cut off their water.

USA Today: The Oval | White House launches new tax calculator
Beginning today, taxpayers can go to a new interactive site -- -- and plug in either the amount they paid in taxes this year or their annual income and see exactly how their tax dollars are divvied up.
Heritage Foundation | Morning Bell: Hiding Future Tax Hikes on Tax Day 2011
In 2010, the federal government collected about $2.2 trillion in total tax revenue. Income taxes accounted for $900 billion of collections, or about 40 percent of all tax receipts.
Political Calculations | Tax Day Fun: eFile Your 1913 Income Taxes!
...what better way to mark the upcoming day income taxes are due than by providing another form for you to fill out to see how much you would have been taxed when income tax forms were first issued by the IRS in 1913!

Heritage Foundation | Tax Day 2011: Deficit Spending Hides Future Tax Hikes
If Americans knew the level of income taxes they would have to pay in the not-too-distant future to cover current and future federal overspending, Tax Day would be even more alarming.


CNBC | Republicans Will be to Blame if US defaults: Geithner
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Thursday told Republican lawmakers that they would shoulder the blame if the country got too close to defaulting on its debt and roiled markets worldwide by not approving a debt limit increase.
CNN: Money | Deficit debate may keep Fed on edge
Politicians have seen the light. Deficit cutting is their new found religion and stimulus is an eight-letter dirty word. But with the economy still looking a bit shaky in the near-term and new government spending pretty much now verboten, that means the Fed may have to do even more to ensure that growth doesn't grind to a halt.
ABC News | Is Gold the New Black? States Look to Bring Gold Standard Back
Utah is First State to Recognize Gold and Silver as Legal Tender; Inflation Worries Loom.
Reuters | Ireland gets thumbs-up from EU/IMF
A Moody's downgrade and growing speculation Greece may eventually restructure its debt took the shine off Ireland's thumbs up from the EU and the IMF on Friday for its efforts to claw its way back from crisis.
Bloomberg | Fed Policy Makers Differ Over Policy as Inflation Accelerates
Federal Reserve policy makers aired their differences over how to tackle accelerating inflation before a report showed the cost of living in the U.S. rose in March for a ninth consecutive month.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
Cato Institute | The Weak Dollar Problem
If the Fed is in denial about the inflation threat, it's blind to the possibility that the weak dollar is causing energy and food prices to surge

The Economist | Piggybacking
While Germany is footing much of the bill for the euro-area bail-out, it may be saving its own banks too


Fox | Changes in unemployment benefits by state
The number of people seeking benefits increased by 27,000 to 412,000. The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, rose to 395,750.
Bloomberg | California Begs Texas for Job-Creating Recipe With Growth Trading Places
When California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom begins meetings in Austin with Hardee’s hamburgers chief Andrew Puzder, local Chamber of Commerce Chairman Bobby Jenkins and Texas Governor Rick Perry, it’s because the most- populous state lingers in a funk, even as the U.S. pulls out of the deepest recession in half a century.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
WSJ | The Obama Growth Discount
Policy matters. If Barack Obama matched Ronald Reagan's post-recession recovery rate, 15.7 million more Americans would have jobs.

AEI: The American | On Green Energy: Renewable Energy Fails to Green the U.K. Economy
Pursuing a new green energy economy in the United Kingdom has led to lost jobs and higher energy prices.


CNN Money | Debt panel chiefs grade Obama's plan
Two key players in the debate over how to get the nation's fiscal act together have offered their support for President Obama's plan to bring down deficits.
Fox News | House to Vote on GOP 2012 Budget
...the House votes Friday on the Republican proposal for a 2012 budget, a plan designed by Rep. Paul Ryan to chop more than $6.2 trillion in spending over 10 years.
WSJ | Obama Stokes Deficit Fight
President Rips GOP Fiscal Plan, Says Mix of Taxes, Cuts Needed; Foes Dismayed.

Econ Comments                                                                                                             
NRO | Budget Battle, Budget Prattle
Strip away the gimmicks and shine a light on the shadows, and it turns out the real cuts amounted to $352 million, or less than 1 percent of what was promised.
Washington Post | A budget for the 21st century
We cannot accept an approach that starts from the premise that ever-higher levels of spending and taxes represent America’s new normal.
NRO | The Grand Compromise
Republicans are right not to budge on taxes until serious spending cuts are in place.
Reason Foundation | Welcome Budget Talk
What Paul Ryan's plan gets right—and wrong.

Cato@Liberty | Obama/Boehner’s Phony Spending Cuts
...real spending cuts come when you actually cut real spending, not “budget authority.”
Cato@Liberty | Federal Spending Trend
Spending increased an average $170 billion a year over the last decade. Thus, the $40 billion cut reverses out no more than one-quarter of one year’s worth of the last decade of increases.