Obama’s Chilling Effect on Capitalism
faxless payday loans

Posted by Howard Rich | Columns
faxless payday loans
| Tuesday 31 March 2009 5:29 PM

By Howard Rich

faxless payday loans

The tombstone for General Motors really should have read 1908-2008.

hat’s because December 2008 is when the bell finally tolled for GM – when the marketplace determined that a combination of poor management decisions, union pressures and a slumping economy had made the automotive giant’s continued existence mathematically impossible.

Of course, that was also precisely when the administration of former President George W. Bush stepped in with a $17.4 billion bailout for GM and Chrysler, with further funds contingent on the two companies creating a “path to profitability.”

At the time, a skeptical American public heard talk of all the concessions that were being made by company executives, car dealers and the notoriously inflexible union bosses.

But it was former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson who hinted that this massive infusion of taxpayer cash might be nothing more than the world’s most expensive delaying tactic.

“If the right outcome is reorganization or bankruptcy, then isn’t it better to get there through an orderly process where every effort is made to avoid it, and if it can’t be avoided, everyone’s prepared for it?” Paulson said at the time, comments which were echoed by the Bush White House.

Fast-forward to February 2009, when the “reorganization plans” of Chrysler and GM were unveiled – and shown to be nothing more than requests for even larger taxpayer funded bailouts.

Still, the “tombstone moment” was delayed another month until this week, which has brought us perhaps the most bizarre – and disturbing – chapter in the evolution of the bailout culture that has infected our nation’s capital.

This week, the President of the United States insisted on the removal of a private sector CEO. And once he had been removed, that CEO’s severance package was governed by Treasury Department regulations.

No longer just bailing out companies, the White House is now determining who should run them and what their retirement packages should be.

Not only that, Obama has taken the unprecedented – and unnerving – step of guaranteeing all GM and Chrysler warranties.

Thank about that for a moment, in its ongoing attempts to revive a dying patient, the Obama administration has just put every American taxpayer on the hook for potentially billions in auto repairs!

Obama’s auto task force is also calling the shots on which models GM should produce and sell, and telling Chrysler who to merge with and for how much – all the while holding additional bailout billions over the heads of the two “private” corporations in case they refuse to abide by the government’s wishes.

One pro-free market commentator told me that “Obama might as well have reached into the corporate boardroom and started running that company.”

“That’s exactly what he did,” I said.

Obama’s actions “should send a chill through those who believe in free enterprise,” said Tennessee Senator Bob Corker.

How true.

And yet even as the government is guaranteeing GM’s warranties and providing an undisclosed amount of interim operating cash during this latest two-month reprieve, Obama and his socialist sycophants are pretending that they have administered some “tough love” to the company.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

America should have never taken those first, fateful steps down the road toward our present socialist experiment. And yet $13 trillion later, with the market still in shambles, jobs still on the decline and income levels flatter than pancakes, we’re stuck with an administration that seems hell bent on pushing the envelope of government control as far as it will go.

How bad has it gotten for what’s left of our free market?

Consider this – three months ago language like “socialist sycophants” would have been considered over the top.

Not anymore, though. What used to pass for rhetorical “red meat” among true free market supporters is now putting things mildly.

With each fresh interventionist encroachment, Obama is twisting the knife deeper into the belly of an economic system that founded, built and sustained these United States through generations.

Certainly, based on tens of billions of dollars lost and tens of thousands of jobs lost, Rick Wagoner deserved to be shown the door at GM.

But that should be a decision reserved for GM shareholders.

The fact that such a decision was made unilaterally by the President of the United States – holding the taxpayers’ checkbook in his hand as he made it – runs completely counter to everything this country stands for.

Yesterday’s invisible hand has become today’s iron fist.

We must unclench it, or risk joining our former Cold War adversaries on the ash-heap of history.

Watching The Trillions Pile Up
faxless payday loans

Posted by Howard Rich | Columns
faxless payday loans
| Wednesday 25 March 2009 3:25 PM

By, Howard Rich

faxless payday loans

With another $2 trillion in federal interventionism announced within the last week alone, the price tag for America’s economic “recovery” continues to soar to stratospheric, scarcely-comprehensible heights.

First we had hundreds of billions for troubled – now “toxic” – assets.

Then we had President Barack Obama’s $787 billion bureaucratic bailout – an unprecedented expansion of programmatic, status quo spending that will create the “Mother of All Annualizations” for dozens of cash-strapped state governments that even now still refuse to live within their means.

Next there was “quantitative easing,” which is another way of saying our federal government started printing money so that it could purchase more of its own debt.

All told, the feds have pledged $13 trillion to deal with the current recession – or trillions more than our existing national debt.

Think about that for a moment – $13 trillion.

It took several generations of Washington politicians more than six decades to rack up America’s national debt – although in fairness to the politicians of previous eras, more than a third of it was added during the last decade as Congress and the White House ran annual deficits of half-a-trillion dollars each year beginning in 2003.

Yet in spite of the fact that we were already lurching along on an unsustainable course, it has taken the current crop of Washington politicians less than a year to exceed the entire national debt as they have jumped from one taxpayer-funded “solution” to the next – all in response to a crisis largely of their own making.

Last Wednesday, in addition to announcing the purchase of $300 billion in Treasury securities, the Federal Reserve announced that it was purchasing another $750 billion in government-guaranteed mortgage-backed securities.

All together, that’s another trillion dollars into the rabbit hole – but politicians were so busy making hay over the AIG bonus scandal that they scarcely noticed the expenditure.

Basically, we are printing money to purchase “toxic” debt – a policy that began with the onset of this crisis and which has already substantially eroded the U.S. dollar.

This week, the Obama administration announced yet another $1 trillion plan aimed at “purging balance sheets” of this debt so that banks can begin lending again – which obviously ignores the fact that we’ve spent hundreds of billions to get them to do that already and they’re obviously not taking the bait.

Curiously, this latest plan is built around government “creating a market” for private sector investors to purchase these bad assets.

Wait – if these assets had value, wouldn’t there already be a market for them?

Amazingly, this inherently contradictory logic is what forms the very basis of our government’s increasingly irrational, exorbitantly expensive meddling in the American free market.

Despite our country’s founding wisdom (and the two centuries of unrivaled prosperity it produced), America’s new leaders view capitalism as a flawed, antiquated way of thinking – because after all, the myth is that the market caused this problem.

In fact, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published earlier this week, Obama’s Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner essentially blamed consumer debt and not enough government regulation for the housing collapse – comments which were echoed in Canada the week before by former President George W. Bush.

But just as the government decided which people would be given loans they couldn’t afford, it now decides which companies are too big to fail from the fallout.

It then decides to purchase up to 80% of some of these companies (with your money) to keep them from failing.

In addition to that, it decides how many hundreds of billions will go toward bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – the true heart and soul of this crisis – as well the trillions it will take to clean up all of their “toxic” mortgage-backed securities.

Finally, when none of that works, the government decides how many trillions of new dollars it will print to fill in the holes.

$13 trillion later, I would humbly submit that the only holes in need of filling are the ones in the heads of people who continue to fall for this scam.

Pelosi’s Double Standard
faxless payday loans

Posted by Howard Rich | Columns
faxless payday loans
| Wednesday 18 March 2009 7:47 PM

By, Howard Rich

faxless payday loans

Along with President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was at the forefront of a group of Washington politicians bashing the executives of American International Group this week.

Bolstered by $170 billion in federal bailout funds (for which the government received an 80% stake in the company) – AIG announced plans to award $165 million in executive bonuses to its employees.

“Unconscionable,” Pelosi said of the bonuses.

“I call upon the executives at AIG to right the wrong they have done to American

taxpayers,” Pelosi continued, adding that the company’s employees “should renounce the bonuses.”

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

After all, it’s corporate greed run amok, isn’t it?

Yet while swinging at the low-hanging fruit-of-the-week, Pelosi whiffed on a more critical count of credibility.

Aside from the fact that government has no business picking winners and losers in our economy – or in our society, for that matter – there’s something that rings particularly hollow as it relates to Pelosi’s righteous indignation about these “bonuses.”

First of all, Pelosi defended Congressional pay raises in this same economic climate just a few short months ago, including a $6,100 (or 2.8%) raise for her.

Also, it was due primarily to Pelosi’s leadership that the taxpayer-financed floodgates were opened to AIG in the first place – and it was Pelosi and many of those politicians now decrying AIG who refused to place sufficient accountability provisions in the bailout legislation to begin with.

But those hypocrites are sadly all too common in a Capital that is becoming more like Nero’s Rome with each passing day.

Of course, there’s one area where Pelosi’s antics have crossed the line from garden variety doublespeak to a potentially debilitating double standard.

When it was revealed that Pelosi’s aides – like famous hip hop entertainers – were demanding access to taxpayer-funded luxury corporate jets such as the Gulfstream G-5 to ferry them across the country, a raw public nerve was struck, one that tingled far beyond the usual universe of outrage.

Adding fuel to the fire was the way Pelosi’s staff apparently bossed our military personnel around regarding the use of these $60 million planes.

“It is my understanding there are no G-5s available for the House during the Memorial Day recess. This is totally unacceptable . . . The speaker will want to know where the planes are,” an aide to Pelosi wrote to military staffers.

Informed by military personnel on one occasion that a G-5 would not be made available to the Speaker, a Pelosi staffer sniped back, saying “this is not good news, and we will have some very disappointed folks, as well as a very upset speaker.”

Pelosi was also reportedly in the habit of demanding that G-5s be made available for her use, only to break her reservations and leave the military – and the taxpayers – holding the bag.

Needless to say, revelations about Pelosi’s G-5 addiction have been a huge embarrassment for the Speaker – and not just on conservative blogs.

“Britney Spears may have nothing on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s diva demands,” read the NBC headline story.

Wire service briefs also populated the story all across the country.

Admittedly, Pelosi’s salary increase and the excessive use of these luxury aircraft is small potatoes compared to the trillions being blown on her and Obama’s unprecedented bureaucratic expansion.

Yet while her jet-setting clearly isn’t going to bankrupt the nation, it’s precisely the sort of thing that brings America’s deplorable financial condition into focus.

It also showcases the individual bankruptcy of our leaders, who are padding their personal salaries and demanding expensive perks at a time when millions of families are being foreclosed upon, losing their jobs and watching their life savings evaporate in the stock market.

Accordingly, the real story isn’t that Pelosi is wasting our tax money, or even bossing our servicemen and women around, it’s that she is so brainwashed by the Beltway culture in Washington that she sees absolutely nothing wrong with her conduct.

In fact, she lashes out at anyone who criticizes her as “playing politics.”

The truth is that Pelosi’s actions are every bit as “unconscionable” as those of the AIG executives she’s criticizing.

And the fact she doesn’t “get it” makes her even more contemptible.

Trading Places
faxless payday loans

Posted by Howard Rich | News
faxless payday loans
| Wednesday 11 March 2009 9:30 PM

By Howie Rich

For years, the Communist Chinese have been the butt of American jokes for their Maoist principles and centralized government planning.

They’ve also received scathing international criticism for their at times brutal suppression of human rights – and deservedly so.

But in the years since Tiananmen Square, China has moved steadily towards a market-based economic system while America has racked up increasingly large deficits for centralized, socialist spending – with a growing percentage of our accumulating public debt held by Chinese creditors.

Also, China has taken steps to improve its human rights record in recent years, while American liberties have gradually eroded under the weight of an ever-expanding federal government.

Clearly repression and communism are still the laws of the land in China, but it is worth noting how one nation waxes and the other wanes – particularly when crisis comes.

Just look at the divergent approaches taken by the American and Chinese governments with respect to their economic “stimulus” plans.

Like our country, China is operating under the flawed assumption that investing in additional government will somehow bring about economic revival.

But, there are critical differences in these two superpowers’ positioning and plans which could make the economic downturn much easier for China to manage.

Supporters of the “American approach” like point to the fact that China is ballooning its deficit from 0.4% to 3% of its national income to pay for its plan – but that argument ignores the fact that America’s deficit currently stands at 12% of its national income.

We also have an $11 trillion (and climbing) national debt – of which China was holding $681 billion prior to the most recent U.S. bailout.

China, meanwhile, entered 2009 with nearly $2 trillion in foreign currency reserves.

There are also huge differences in the “meat” of the two plans.

In China, the majority of the stimulus package was actually devoted to bricks and mortar. Huge chunks were also devoted to business tax breaks, and a full quarter of the package was devoted to rebuilding an area of the country devastated by the Sichuan earthquake last May.

Has it worked? Few trust China’s optimistic estimates of 8% growth in 2009, but the country’s lending, spending and consumer confidence has largely stabilized.

By contrast, America has poured billions of dollars into the same failed financial institutions and government bureaucracies that conspired to create its current crisis – not surprisingly, to no avail.

The first bailout failed miserably to stimulate lending or lift the Dow Jones out of its doldrums, while the second bailout resulted in another massive selloff on Wall Street over fears that it “didn’t do enough to stimulate the economy.”

Talk about the understatement of the millennium.

While China at least pursued its flawed interventionist philosophy (it’s still a communist country, remember) with a modicum of common sense, America has plunged herself deeper into big government insanity.

For example, billions of dollars intended for small businesses were stripped from the final version of the “stimulus” package, which ended up as a liberal special interest goodie bag routed through the same old inefficient, unaccountable agencies.

Also, China pumped in its “stimulus” money immediately where it would have the maximum effect, whereas the U.S. approach is to engage in a protracted, multi-year federal spend fest on government programs with no immediate economic benefit.

In fact, the Treasury agency charged with picking winners and losers in our marketplace (where was that in the Constitution?) recently acquired four floors of DC office space by agreeing to a ten year lease – a sign they plan on sticking around for awhile.

Thinking that government can rescue a national economy under any circumstances is wrong-headed, but the clear differences in China’s reaction to this crisis and America’s are telling indicators of the direction each country is moving.

And sadly, America doesn’t seem likely to reverse course anytime soon.

The author is Chairman of Americans for Limited Government.

When Change is Really More of the Same
faxless payday loans

Posted by Howard Rich | Columns
faxless payday loans
| Wednesday 4 March 2009 2:41 PM

By Howard Rich

faxless payday loans

America didn’t vote to elect Barack Obama in 2008 so much as individual Americans voted for “change.”

Sure, Obama happened to be the personification of that incredibly non-specific “buzzword,” but most of the 70 million Americans who cast their ballots for him did so with the expectation that it would bring about a cathartic cleansing of Washington, D.C.’s corrupt culture – not a perpetuation of the same-old, same-old.

Through every syllable of his soaring oratory and every sound bite eagerly seconded by a fawning mainstream media, Obama promised nothing short of a revolution against the status quo.

No more lobbyists dictating terms.

No more bitter partisanship.

No more wasteful earmarks.

And, of course, no more “failed policies of the Bush administration.”

Flying under these banners – while ostensibly burning Washington’s banners – Obama was swept into office with convincing popular and electoral majorities.

Unfortunately, in the months since America entrusted its destiny for the next four years to this unproven community activist, the only “change” Obama has successfully wrought is an increase in government’s price tag.

When you stop and think about it, everything else has stayed pretty much the same.

And yes, while George W. Bush may have indeed been “misunderestimated” and “overunderappreciated,” it appears that Obama’s big rhetoric was at best overstated, and at worst deliberately misleading.

Washington insiders recognized almost immediately that Obama wasn’t going to seriously challenge their power base when he began appointing them left and right to influential positions.

That was the first sign.

Also telling was the fact that in his first week in office, Obama signed sweeping ethics reform aimed at curtailing lobbyists’ access to his administration – only to turn around and seek exemptions for multiple lobbyists that he wanted to place in key positions within his administration.

Then, in a curious bit of political theater, Obama challenged America’s “vested special interests” to a legislative duel – one week after signing a trillion-dollar bailout that might as well have been a liberal lobbyist’s wish list.

Wouldn’t it have been better to issue that sort of challenge before allowing his core special interest constituencies to raid the Treasury?

If bipartisanship is unavailable, though, apparently “bi-polar” will have to do.

Speaking of “bipartisanship,” Obama got only three Republican votes for his bureaucratic bailout, but that’s to be expected when you’re shoving a partisan special interest Christmas tree down the minority party’s throats.

Of course, Obama’s heavy-handed fiscal recklessness isn’t anything new in Washington – it’s precisely the same big government allegiance Republicans embodied when they shoved $3 trillion in new debt down the throats of true GOP conservatives and Blue Dog Democrats back when Bush and Ted Stevens were running the show.

Change? Not hardly.

But it’s Obama’s latest repudiation of his own rhetoric that’s most egregious.

After vowing during his presidential campaign to veto bills that included wasteful earmarks, Obama announced this week that he would break his pledge and sign into law a $410 billion appropriations bill that includes $7.7 billion worth of earmarks requested by Republicans and Democrats alike.

The reason?

“We want to just move on,” Obama’s budget director said. “Let’s get this bill done, get it into law and move forward.”

Obama’s staffers know better than to argue the obvious Presidential U-turn, but how do they explain such a coarse, political rationale for making it?

After all, isn’t this a clear example of Obama sacrificing his principles for political expediency?

Or (more likely) was all that campaign talk about cracking down on wasteful spending just something Obama said to get elected?

Perhaps to mollify those moderates concerned about his “spread the wealth” statements?

Either way, Obama’s people aren’t saying.

e-wallet Wordpress Theme