Friends, The new Alliance Alert Daily Digest is finally here! You can subscribe to the daily e-mail here: Subscribe to our mailing list * indicates required Email Address * First Name * Last Name *
Washington Times: The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday that beginning with the 2014-2015 federal student aid form, the Department will — for the first time — collect income “from a dependent student’s legal parents regardless of the parents’ marital status or gender, if those parents live together.”
AP: It turns out that the costs of the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare to its unyielding Republican foes- are sprinkled here and there through hundreds of pages of budget books. It’s partly due to the arcane ways of government budgeting. It may also be an effort to avoid giving foes more of a target.
NCPA Policy Digest: Taxpayers around the country will soon be grappling with massive amounts of debt they had no idea they were responsible for. The hidden debt is the result of $7.3 billion in promises that were made by state legislators but never approved by taxpayers, says Steven Malanga, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
Heritage Foundation: In a new paper, Heritage expert Jason Richwine reveals that “Proper accounting would reveal tens of billions of dollars in extra teacher pension costs, equivalent to somewhere around $1,000 in unreported spending per student.”
Ezra Klein at Washington Post: A more accurate way to put it would be that in the coming decades, new spending is almost entirely driven by health-care programs. But what’s really driving the spending in those programs is the aging of the population, not the rise in health-care costs.
CNSNews: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $2.7 million to study why lesbians are at a higher “risk for hazardous drinking.” The University of Illinois has received grants since 2009 for its project, “Cumulative Stress and Hazardous Drinking in a Community of Adult Lesbians” . . .
Bloomberg: Consumer spending in the U.S. rose in January even as incomes dropped by the most in 20 years, showing households were weathering the payroll-tax increase by socking away less money in the bank.
The Atlantic: “What I tell my law clerks is that we write these so that they are accessible to regular people. That doesn’t mean that there’s no law in it. But there are simple ways to put important things in language that’s accessible. As I say to them, the beauty, the genius is not to write a 5 cent idea in a ten dollar sentence. It’s to put a ten dollar idea in a 5 cent sentence” . . . The quote that was likely most disheartening to his law student audience: “I wound up the court 17 years after I graduated. And I made my final payment on my student loan my third term on the court.”
Cynthia Davis at Townhall: We now live in a time where social welfare incentives have engendered unprecedented numbers of unmarried parents, causing record deficits. The inability to address this issue has politically-hobbled every Republican president since Reagan. Our government needs to take responsibility for creating this monster and start on a new path of adopting policies that are good for families.
NCPA Policy Digest: A new Reason-Rupe poll reveals Americans’ attitudes about federal spending and the gun debate, among other issues.
The HIll: Senate Republicans are demanding the administration hand over all documents related to Jack Lew’s failure, when he was head of the Office of Management and Budget, to comply with a law aimed at ensuring Medicare’s solvency.
Wall Street Journal: Law-school applications are at their lowest in a decade, but that hasn’t stopped a handful of colleges and universities across the nation from opening new law schools.
The Hill: Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Dean Heller (Nev.), John Hoeven (N.D.), John McCain (Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Richard Shelby (Ala.), John Thune (S.D.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.) voted with the Democratic caucus to pass the legislation. Only one Democrat — Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.)— voted against the bill.
Washington Post: The drastic $85 billion in automatic spending cuts Congress approved in hopes of heading off another deficit showdown may or may not occur, but federal agencies say the threat has been disrupting government for months as officials take costly and inefficient steps to prepare.
The HIll: The House on Wednesday put new pressure on the Senate to pass its first budget in nearly four years, by approving a bill that threatens to withhold senators’ pay until that work is done.
AP: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Monday she plans to push for an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program under the federal health care law, a surprising decision that could have an impact on other Republican governors weighing a similar decision.
Heritage Foundation: The U.S. is not going to default on its interest payments, Foster said, and “this assurancerests not on congressional action to raise the debt ceiling, but on the simple fact that the Treasury has far more than enough funds to pay all interest as it comes due.”
Albert Mohler: But, do politicians bear all the blame? Not hardly. The public has an insatiable appetite for pseudo-events and a horrified aversion to the truth. Why? We are approaching the point that voters will not deal with the issue because it will cost them their entitlements. They will be glad for their children and grandchildren to pay the catastrophic debt. As Brooks explains: “Ultimately, we should blame the American voters. The average Medicare couple pays $109,000 into the program and gets $343,000 in benefits out, according to the Urban Institute. This is $234,000 in free money. Many voters have decided they like spending a lot on themselves and pushing costs onto their children and grandchildren.
The Hill: Senate Democratic leaders have sent a letter to President Obama pledging their support if he raises the nation’s $16.4 trillion debt ceiling unilaterally in the face of Republican resistance.
AP: Record unemployment and fraying social welfare systems in southern Europe risk creating a new divide in the continent, the EU warned Tuesday, when figures showed joblessness across the 17 EU countries that use the euro hit a new high.
The Hill: The House passed legislation on Friday that allows the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to take on $9.7 billion in new debt to help meet claims related to Hurricane Sandy.
Washington Post: There is a time to every purpose under Heaven. For the 113th Congress, it is a time to rise. When the day is over, and the verdict is read, may it be said that we well and faithfully did our duty to ensure freedom will endure and prevail. So help us God.
Christian Science Monitor: His appeal added to a bipartisan chorus of calls for immediate action, including from Republican members of Congress and top officials from the affected states who denounced a decision late Tuesday by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio to pull the relief package from consideratio
Washington Post: “Yes, for each citizen’s tax dollar, only two-tenths of one penny go toward funding the entire third branch of government!” Roberts wrote. “Those fractions of a penny are what Americans pay for a judiciary that is second to none.”
Congress passes temporary fiscal cliff bill: spending increases, tax increase on incomes over $450K, payroll tax increase on everyone
AP: Both sides lamented their failure to reach a significant deficit-cutting agreement. But neither much mentioned another omission: The immediate expiration of a two-year, 2-percentage-point cut in the Social Security payroll tax.
AP: Lawmakers will convene again the first week in January in hopes of fixing the nation’s worst case of underfunding state employees’ pensions, a problem approaching $100 billion and mounting by $17 million per day.
Bloomberg: Three and a half years after the worst recession since the Great Depression, the earnings and employment gap between those in the under-35 population and their parents and grandparents threatens to unravel the American dream of each generation doing better than the last. The nation’s younger workers have benefited least from an economic recovery that has been the most uneven in recent history.
The Hill: “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference,” the downtrodden House Speaker said at a hastily called closed-door meeting Thursday night to tell fellow House Republicans that he didn’t have to votes to pass his “Plan B” effort to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”
Telegraph: The Republican leadership was forced to abandon a vote on its alternative plan to avoid the “fiscal cliff” on Thursday night after its members rebelled at the prospect of raising taxes for millionaires.
Washington Post: There’s an asterisk there, though: It’s not entirely clear whether Boehner will be the speaker of the House a month from today. The vote to elect the next speaker is on Jan. 3. To win, you need an absolute majority of the House, not a plurality. Even a hopeless conservative challenge that attracts only a handful of Republican votes could deny Boehner the speakership until a consensus candidate emerged. Tonight’s vote makes that challenge more likely.
CNSNews: House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that the debt limit is “not real” and should not be part of any negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff.
Fox News: The cuts would force federal courts to lay off up to 2,000 employees or furlough 20,000 employees for 16 days, according to a Dec. 4 letter to federal chief judges around the country from the Judicial Conference of the United States.
AP: Senate Republican Leader Mitch Connell insisted on Tuesday that President Barack Obama and Democrats spell out where they would cut government spending as part of any massive budget deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff” double hit of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts.
The Hill: Deficit-reduction proposals from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Obama fall short of clearly stabilizing the debt, according to budget experts, putting the U.S. credit rating at risk of a downgrade.
Weekly Standard: Don’t the American people have a right to see these taxes and where they will fall? Shouldn’t the President of the United States, the only person who represents everybody in the country, lay out his plan, or must that remain a secret too? Will it just be revealed to us on the eve of Christmas or eve of the new calendar year? We will be asked to vote for it, to ratify it like lemmings, I suppose.”
Human Events: The leader of Americans for Tax Reform told Human Events that Republicans should be ashamed to be part of the Democratic media campaign to raise taxes. “They should be embarrassed,” said Grover G. Norquist, the founder and president of the Washington-based ATR.
Wall Street Journal: One of the more amazing post-election spectacles is the media celebration of Republicans who say they’re willing to repudiate their pledge against raising taxes. So the same folks who like to denounce politicians because they can’t be trusted are now praising politicians who openly admit they can’t be trusted.
Chris Cox and Bill Archer at the Wall Street Journal‘: As Washington wrestles with the roughly $600 billion “fiscal cliff” and the 2013 budget, the far greater fiscal challenge of the U.S. government’s unfunded pension and health-care liabilities remains offstage. The truly important figures would appear on the federal balance sheet—if the government prepared an accurate one. But it hasn’t.
CNSNews: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Friday that Congress should stop placing legal limits on the amount of money the government can borrow and effectively lift the debt limit to infinity.
Washington Times: He added, “You cannot have a budgetary solution if you do not change what the role of government should be. As long as you think we have to please the world and run this welfare state, all we will argue about is who will get the loot.”
CNBC: Boehner said House Republicans are asking Obama “to make good on a balanced approach” that would including spending cuts and address government social benefit programs.
CNSNews: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on Wednesday that if the $16.394 current legal limit on the federal government’s debt must be raised in the next few months by another $2.4 trillion, “We’ll raise it.”
FoxBusiness.com: Equities, commodities and other risky assets tumbled on Wednesday after U.S. elections left Washington, D.C. as sharply divided as before as the fiscal cliff looms large.
Pat Buchanan at Townhall: Yet whoever wins today, it is hard to be sanguine about the future. The demographic and economic realities do not permit it.
4 Yrs at Private College = $130,468; Median-Priced Existing Home = $173,100; U.S. Debt Per American Under 18 = $218,676
CNSNews: If Americans under the age of 18 were required as a group to pay off the entirety of the federal government’s debt in equal shares, each would now need to pay about $218,676.
CNSNews: The federal government spent enough money on federal means-tested welfare programs to have sent each impoverished household a check for nearly $60,000, according to figures from the Census Bureau and the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
NCPA Digest: The recent economic crisis has left many state and local governments with underfunded pension benefits for government employees. However, elected officials are unwilling to make the necessary cuts or tax hikes because both options are extremely unpopular, say Robert Novy-Marx, an assistant professor of finance at the University of Rochester’s Simon Graduate School of Business, and Joshua Rauh, a professor of finance at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
George F. Will at Human Events: WASHINGTON – The election eve mood is tinged with sadness stemming from well-founded fear that America’s new government is subverting America’s old character. Barack Obama’s agenda is a menu of temptations intended to change the nation’s social norms by making Americans comfortable with the degradation of democracy. This degradation consists of piling up public debt that binds unconsenting future generations to finance current consumption.
NY Times: His name is Bernard von NotHaus, and he is a professed “monetary architect” and a maker of custom coins found guilty last spring of counterfeiting charges for minting and distributing a form of private money called the Liberty Dollar.
Daily Caller: The government spent approximately $1.03 trillion on 83 means-tested federal welfare programs in fiscal year 2011 alone — a price tag that makes welfare that year the government’s largest expenditure, according to new data released by the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee.
CNBC: “I’ve been in this business a long time and believe me there is essentially no difference from one administration to another no matter what the platforms,” said Paul, a former hopeful for the GOP nomination. “The foreign policy stays the same, the monetary policy stays the same, there’s no proposal for any real cuts and both parties support it.”
Telegraph: France is sliding into a grave economic crisis and risks a full-blown “hurricane” as investors flee rocketing tax rates, the country’s business federation has warned.
NCPA Policy Digest: Since its inception, Social Security was intended to be financed by the contribution of workers and not through general revenues. But lawmakers have become less willing to tax workers at the level required to finance rising benefit costs, which culminated in the decision to reduce Social Security’s principal financing stream — the payroll tax — for economic stimulus and to turn formally to general revenues to subsidize the program, says Charles Blahous, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center and public trustee for Medicare and Social Security.
Reuters: The largest 100 public pension funds have around $1.2 trillion of unfunded liabilities, about $300 billion above the nearly $900 billion they reported themselves, according to a new actuarial study to be released on Monday.
AP: The government borrowed about 31 cents of every dollar it spent in 2012. The string of $1 trillion-plus deficits has driven the national debt above $16 trillion. The magnitude of that figure has intensified debate in Congress over spending and taxes but little movement toward compromise.
Al.com (includes video): “We cannot continue to borrow the future of our children and our grandchildren or we will suffer the consequences. We can’t keep going into debt. We can’t keep disparaging our military and promoting things like same-sex marriage, L-G-B-T. To hear the President of the United States say that we are promoting L-G-B-T. Let’s think about what that is: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered rights,” Moore said. “Same sex marriage will be the ultimate destruction of our country because it destroys the very foundation upon which this nation is based. Divisive, I’ve been accused of being divisive I’ll tell you what’s divisive. It’s this Democratic platform,” Moore said.
CNSNews: That was more than all the debt the federal government accumulated between July 4, 1776 when the United States declared independence from England and sometime in October 1942, which was ten months after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II.
John Hayward at Human Events: This argument about saving the Fed from “politicization” is made whenever the topic of congressional oversight is broached. Some of Bernanke’s argument sounds self-refuting. If the Fed’s monetary policy is now the only thing saving us from even worse unemployment, how can we continue to treat it as an inscrutable “black box” forever insulated from the people and their representatives? We’re being told that an awfully large component of our economic engine cannot be opened by the end users, without voiding the warranty. As for Bernanke’s argument about low interest rates keeping the deficit down, the thing to remember is that he’s on the verge of losing control over those interest rates, precisely because the world’s investors (and the credit rating agencies they respect) have grown tired of watching American monetary policy used as a straitjacket to contain our insane spending habits.
Daily Caller: Taxpayers spent $1.4 billion dollars on everything from staffing, housing, flying and entertaining President Obama and his family last year, according to the author of a new book on taxpayer-funded presidential perks. In comparison, British taxpayers spent just $57.8 million on the royal family.
CNBC: The latest round of extraordinary Federal Reserve stimulus is risky and leaves little room to maneuver should another crisis hit, economist Lawrence Lindsey told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday.
Sean Fieler at the WSJ (via Google): The more than five-fold increase in the median income of the American household since 1971, to $50,000 from $9,000, certainly provides the clear appearance of progress. But after the dollar’s 82% loss of purchasing power over the same period is factored in, the median household income rose just 12%. This much more modest increase is largely the result of the growing prevalence of two-income households . . . The median real income for working men over the same 40-year period rose just 8%. And that improvement only accrued to the ever-shrinking percentage of men fortunate enough to still have full-time jobs—just 67%, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, within a percentage point of the lowest level on record since the figure was first recorded in 1948.
Wall Street Journal (via Google): Chinese and South Korean central-bank officials criticized the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest easing efforts and advocated reducing Asia’s dependence on the U.S. dollar. The comments Thursday, at a joint seminar in Beijing by the two central banks, are the clearest indication yet of a rising backlash in Asia against U.S. monetary policy, suggesting it could speed up the search for alternatives to the dollar as the main global currency.
NY Times: Such survival tactics are becoming increasingly commonplace here, with an unemployment rate over 50 percent among young people and more and more households having adults without jobs.