The obvious implication: most of the 2009 US fiscal deficit will need to be financed domestically. The Fed’s custodial data indicates central banks are still buying Treasuries, though at a somewhat slower pace than in late 2008. But their demand hasn’t kept up with issuance.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
To replenish the weakened accounts, Gov. Phil Bredesen proposes to boost state contributions to the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System next year by $150 million. School boards and counties whose employees also participate in the state’s retirement plan must make similar increases.
Hamilton County Finance Director Louis Wright and Chattanooga Finance Director Daisy Madison said Monday that city and county budgets next year must include extra money for employee retirement programs. Both said it is still too early to calculate how much of an increase will be needed to offset recent investment losses.
Most private sector workers won’t be as fortunate, however.
According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington, D.C., a majority of workers in the private sector no longer have guaranteed benefits at retirement through defined-benefit pension plans as so most government workers. While employers contribute to individual retirement accounts through instruments such as 401(k) plans, the benefits available at retirement depend upon investment returns.
Monday, March 30, 2009
In Cuba, ration coupons allow for only about half of the needed calories, and agriculture is so inefficient that Cubans spend about 50 to 70% of their gross income supplementing the food available through the state system (MP: Compared to about 6% for Americans).More than a quarter of the Cuban work force is involved in agriculture (MP: It's less than 2% in the U.S. and hasn't been 25% here since the early 1900s). A recent article in the Cuban press, noted in a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Global Analysis, quoted a high-level Cuban ministry of agriculture official who revealed that 84% of all food consumed in Cuba is imported.
Milligan recently colored several brown lawns on one street in the Villages of Avalon development. Money for the city's lawn outreach is coming out of $2 million the city has set aside to try to stabilize foreclosure-fraught neighborhoods.
Money is also going toward helping people make down payments on homes and helping current property owners improve their houses.
"People with families are not going to get off at a dark exit in a little town they don't know," said Monterey Mayor Richard Godsey. "I think it's a critical part of bringing people off the interstate to spend their money here with us. We're all excited about it."
Should the federal government make it illegal to pay any executive more than $1 million a year?
Should the federal government make it illegal to pay athletes and movie stars more than $1 million a year?
Source: Rasmussen Reports
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,000 American adults, conducted on Mar. 23 and Mar. 24, 2009. Margin of error is 3 per cent.
Four potential candidates for President Obama's vacant Senate seat were each to be targeted for contributions by ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich's campaign as part of an aggressive, $2.3 million race for cash late last year, an internal campaign document obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times shows.
The four were among about 150 people targeted for contributions by the Friends of Blagojevich campaign organization by the end of 2008, when a new Illinois law took effect that bans taking money from state contractors and appointees, the document shows.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
See all of Drew's rant at the Facebook link below.
I pulled up to Al’s house, located in the posh Belle Meade section of Nashville, at 8:48pm – right in the middle of Earth Hour. I found that the main spotlights that usually illuminate his 9,000 square foot mansion were dark, but several of the lights inside the house were on.
In fact, most of the windows were lit by the familiar blue-ish hue indicating that floor lamps and ceiling fixtures were off, but TV screens and computer monitors were hard at work.
The kicker, though, were the dozen or so floodlights grandly highlighting several trees and illuminating the driveway entrance of Gore’s mansion.
"It would put us back in the posture of having to observe whether Tennessee licensed vehicles were going over there and paying their tax before bringing their wine over the border," Farr said.
Under Overbey's bill, Tennesseans could bring home wine purchased from out-of-state wineries that acquire a $450 Tennessee winery license.
The proposal to allow the personal transportation of wine into Tennessee is projected to raise less than $150,000 in new revenues. That's because Tennesseans would have to volunteer to winery operators in other states that they want to pay the Tennessee levies, Farr said."It's very conceivable the customer wouldn't say: 'I'm transporting this into Tennessee and charge me Tennessee sales tax and excise tax,"' he said.
The trial, which begins at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in Madison County Chancery Court, comes nearly two and a half years after the Jackson City Council approved a 12-square-mile annexation despite protests from many who live in the area.
City officials and attorneys have argued that opposing homeowners in the annexation area have used and benefited from city services for years without paying the taxes that support them.Residents have described the annexation as a money-grab, often questioning the intentions and capability of Jackson's leadership and management.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Here are some possible triggers:
1. Political Trigger 1: During the confirmation process, several Obama political appointees were either dropped from consideration or had their reputation tarnished because of past tax issues. Tax problems have become common enough that the government will be compelled to make changes, if simply to avoid the routine political embarrassment. Obama could not be blamed if some future flare that sends him out of the White House becomes the catalyst for a special commission tasked to bring about change.
2. Political Trigger 2: With plans for a national health care system and funding for education reform hanging on the government’s ability to pay for them, a new tax system emerges from these massive efforts to pay for these programs.
3. Technology Trigger: A new automated tax structure is created that makes tax collection seamless and invisible to the general public.
4. Individual State Trigger: Currently seven states in the U.S. do not have state income tax. Some states like Wyoming and Alaska have huge income streams from their natural resources. Other states are supported by higher property taxes and other tax levies. A modified individual state tax system could become the model for the new national system.
5. Budget Crisis Trigger: Because of the extreme debt load created by recent stimulus packages, the government has to scrape for more money. Ultimately, government is forced to rethink the tax system to prevent national insolvency.
6. Wealthy Individual Trigger: A wealthy individual files a well-publicized lawsuit against the IRS. The plaintiff’s lawyers note that their client, who is of far-above-average intelligence and armed with extraordinary resources, is simply no match for the complexity of the tax code and cannot be reasonably expected to comply with the law by completing a 1040. The lawsuit places all concerned with the administration of the IRS in the indefensible position of having to explain the tax code. Good luck on that one, IRS. The day is won with unassailable logic: inability to determine what to pay out in taxes is persuasive and the U.S. Supreme Court hands down a decision to abolish the system.
7. Class Action Trigger: A group of some 200 of the largest tax payers file a class action lawsuit against the U.S. government for a number of competitive impairment issues. The lawsuit triggers a national debate between politicians and the wealthiest individuals in the country. The government settles out of court, agreeing to throw out the entire system and start over.
8. Federal Reserve Recommendation: Ben Bernanke issues a strong recommendation to replace the existing tax code based on what the Federal Reserve Board views as broad ranging problems inside the national monetary system. The too-big to fail argument is ushered to the fore on behalf of the monetary system. End of story.
Some 51 percent believe the state is on the wrong track. Worse, 71 percent say Massachusetts will become “Taxachusetts” once again with only 5 percent expecting an economic recovery this year.
Weber did not notify the U.S. Office of Personnel Management of her mother's death and from June 1986 to October 2007, Weber forged her mother's name on the checks. Over the years, she also sent the government a change of address so she would continue to get the checks.
After nine months of negotiations, the General Services Administration signed agreements with four video-sharing and social networking sites: Flickr, Vimeo, blip.tv and YouTube. GSA also is negotiating with the social networking sites Facebook and MySpace.
"We found when we reviewed standard service agreements that they were not a good enough fit for the [requirements] of the federal government," said Michael Ettner, GSA general counsel.
A number have begun to experiment with the new media to communicate with citizens and distribute information. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used Twitter and Facebook to inform the public about the recent recall on peanuts, and the Library of Congress uses Flickr to share its vast collection of photographs.
As agencies increase their use of online services to share information, they'll also require enhanced capabilities for weeding through comments and questions received.
Friday, March 27, 2009
WHAT: Fayette County TN Tea Party
WHO: Hundreds of taxpayers from around the county
WHERE: Somerville TN Court House Sidewalk (South side on Hwy 64)
WHEN: Wednesday, April 15th, 5:30 - 7:30 pm
3:00 to 6:00 p.m. (NOTE we have been asked to change the time to 5:30 - 7:30 pm by the Fayette County Court House due to access issues. Since we are planning a peaceful protest and don't want to prevent access to the Court House, we will be complying with their request).
For more information or to let us know you will be attending, contact Trish.Corlew@FayetteCountyTNTeaParty.com
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The ACLU had threatened to sue in response to complaints it received from parents at Hankins Middle School in Theodore, which put its boys and girls in separate classrooms at the start of the school year. The school system’s lawyer told board members Thursday the system’s same-gender classes aren’t in compliance with a federal provision and they would lose the lawsuit after a lengthy and costly court battle.
Mobile has single-sex classes at three other elementary schools and Clark magnet school. Baldwin County officials said they plan to continue offering single-sex classes at Foley Intermediate.
This is blind arrogance by politicians who actually believe that THEY, in their royal wisdom and power are the creators of jobs. What a crock, no wonder Republicans are losing the confidence of citizens. They are no better than any of the other pandering peacocks who refuse to FIGHT to preserve our freedoms.
Barbour’s veto message, which he repeated during meetings with senators, said the legislation would have kept Nissan, Toyota and other large industries from locating in Mississippi had the law been in effect at that time.
Eminent domain is the power of government to take private property for a public purpose, even if the property owner objects, for public use.
Opponents of the legislation say government needs the power to condemn land that can be converted into valuable, job-producing property.
Incumbents and most challengers rejected the idea of tax incentives to lure business to the city, which covers 42 square miles.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
March 25 (Bloomberg) -- The U.K. failed to find enough buyers for 1.75 billion pounds ($2.55 billion) of bonds for the first time in almost seven years as debt investors repudiated Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s plan to stem the worst economic crisis in three decades.
Gilts slumped after the London-based Debt Management Office, which manages bond auctions on behalf of the Treasury, said investors bid for 1.63 billion pounds of the 40-year securities. The last time the U.K. government was unable to attract enough investors was in 2002 when it tried to sell 30- year inflation-protected bonds. The yield on the 4.25 percent gilt due 2049 rose 10 basis points to 4.55 percent.
Brown’s government aims to sell a record 146.4 billion pounds of debt this fiscal year and as much as 147.9 billion pounds in 2010 as he tries to pull Europe’s second-largest economy out of its worst recession since 1980. The prime minister’s plan drew criticism yesterday when Bank of England GovernorMervyn King told lawmakers in Parliament in London the government should be “cautious” about spending and deficits.
When I woke up this morning, my phone was clogged with texts, my email inbox with messages. Overnight, the YouTube clip of my remarks had attracted over 36,000 hits. By today, it was the most watched video in Britain.
How did it happen, in the absence of any media coverage? The answer is that political reporters no longer get to decide what's news. The days when a minister gave briefings to a dozen lobby correspondents, and thereby dictated the next day's headlines, are over. Now, a thousand bloggers decide for themselves what is interesting. If enough of them are tickled then, bingo, you're news. (Huge thanks to all those who linked: Guido, Iain Dale, Tim Montgomerie, James Delingpole, Donal Blaney, Dizzy, Devil, James Forsyth, PoliticalBetting, Gerald Warner and the rest. And jumbo thanks to all the American bloggers: you chaps areway ahead of us in this regard.)
Former Congressman Pat Toomey (R) would crush Sen. Arlen Specter (R) in the 2010 GOP primary, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday.
Toomey, who is currently the president of the conservative Club for Growth, beat the senator 41 percent to 27 percent among registered Republicans in the poll. Toomey, who came within two points of defeating Specter in the 2004 GOP primary, has indicated he is likely to challenge Specter again in 2010.
Specter's problems lie in the state's conservative Republican base. Statewide, Specter performs well, with 52 percent job approval. But the same percentage of Republicans disapprove of his performance, his worst performance among the GOP since Quinnipiac began polling in Pennsylvania in 2002. Under Pennsylvania election laws, only registered Republicans may vote in the state's GOP primary.
The most shocking statistic in the poll: Nearly a quarter of Republicans don't know enough about Toomey to form an opinion and he is still beating Specter by 14 points.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
BYOP, BYOT. Bring Your Own Pork, Bring Your Own Tea.
Bring your own grill and let’s have a SlaterRaider Tailgate!
Pringles Park, Jackson.
Stick around after the Tea Party as the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx take on the Tennessee Smokies at 7:00. (What could be more American than a Tea Party and some baseball?! Bring some of Grandma’s apple pie!)
Tickets are $9 for the game. Thanks to the generosity of the Diamond Jaxx, $3 of every ticket goes to the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund. This fund gives scholarships to kids who lost a parent in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Tune in tomorrow for more details. This is more than a protest.
Link HT: J-Walk blog
Here's a sample of what we found inside classrooms across the city:
* At Fairley high, MPD says there were 2 aggravated assaults this year. One was a gang fight. MCS records agree. But MCS never told the state.
* At Hillcrest High School - 1 aggravated assault, 1 forcible fondling. MCS records match. But the State of Tennessee has no idea, because MCS reported no crimes against students this year.
* At Georgian Hills Junior High, MPD says one student was raped. MCS refuses to show us records on this case, and they also kept the attack secret from the state.
We took our findings to School Board Commissioner Stephanie Gatewood.
"I would certainly hope there's an explanation as to why. I mean, what's being done about it?" Gatewood said.
CARSON CITY – Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, proposed a tax on prostitution today that he says could raise $2 million a year for the state.
Patrons of prostitutes — both legal and illegal — would pay an extra $5 tax per session under the bill, which Coffin said was his idea alone.
In the runup to the legislative session, a lobbyist for the state’s legal brothels volunteered to be taxed, an effort that some said would guarantee their continued survival. Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley turned down the industry, effectively killing the effort.
“I think we will support it,” George Flint, a spokesman for the state’s brothel industry, said of Coffin’s bill.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama raced to the front of the pitchfork crowd last week, feeding public furor over bonuses paid to publicly rescued companies.
But now, amid signs that rescinding the bonuses might undermine his financial-sector bailout plan, the president is waving an olive branch.
Obama's tone changed dramatically over the weekend, after the House voted for targeted taxes to take back most of the $165 million in bonuses paid to executives of the largely nationalized insurance giant American International Group. Many lawmakers felt Obama had encouraged their step, because he called the bonuses reckless, outrageous and unjustified.
In the White House, however, the situation seemed to be spinning out of control. Some fellow Democrats questioned the constitutionality and wisdom of the harsh reaction.
Securities based on risky mortgages are what toppled financial institutions but it was the government that made the mortgages risky in the first place, by making home-ownership statistics the holy grail, for which everything else was to be sacrificed, including commonsense standards for making home loans.
Politicians and bureaucrats micro-managing the mortgage sector of the economy is precisely how today's economic disaster began. Why anyone would think that their micro-managing the automobile industry, or executive pay across a wide sweep of other industries, is likely to make things better in the economy is a mystery.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Of course, that wasn't really the problem. Lenders knew quite well that borrowers could not pay back the loans...and yet taxpayers still are on the hook.
The team recruited 25 Mechanical Turk workers and asked them to assess pictures of potential borrowers that had been posted on Prosper.com. In particular, they were asked to rate, on a scale of one to five, how trustworthy these people looked, and to estimate the percentage probability that each individual would repay a $100 loan. They were also asked to make several other assessments, such as the individual’s sex, race, age, attractiveness and obesity. The 25 results for each photograph were then averaged and analysed.
The researchers looked at 6,821 loan applications, 733 of which were successful. Their first finding was that the assessments of trustworthiness, and of likelihood to repay a loan, that were made by Mechanical Turk workers did indeed correlate with potential borrowers’ credit ratings based on their credit history. That continued to be so when the other variables, from beauty to race to obesity, were controlled for statistically. Shifty physiognomy, it seems, is independent of these things.
That shiftiness was also recognised by those whose money was actually at stake. People flagged as untrustworthy by the Mechanical Turks were less likely than others to be offered a loan at all. To have the same chance of getting one as those deemed most trustworthy they were required to pay an interest rate that was, on average, 1.82 percentage points higher, even when the effects of historical creditworthiness were statistically eliminated.
For trustworthiness, then, physiognomy works. Unfortunately, Dr Duarte’s method was not designed to find out which features label someone as trustworthy. But credit-rating agencies are no doubt working on that question even now.
NPD's annual Digital Music Study found that there were 17 million fewer CD customers in 2008 than in past years. CD sales have been dropping for quite some time, and while 1.5 billion songs were sold digitally last year, the number of Internet users paying for digital music only increased by 8 million in 2008.
NPD saw all demographics pulling back on CD purchases, but the most significant groups were teenagers and those over 50.
The primary reason for cutting down on CD purchases was a simple slashing of entertainment budgets across all demographics. Cheaper prices for digital albums also affected consumers' thinking about physical CD prices (which suddenly seem more expensive), but the pick-and-chose nature of buying individual songs and instant delivery also provided a boost for digital downloads.
THE Nano, the car that Tata Motors hopes will make car ownership a reality for millions of Indians, was named both for its tiny size and association with revolutionary technology. But in many respects the vehicle, due to be launched officially in Mumbai on Monday March 23rd, is short on both attributes. Although small, the Nano has four doors and five seats. And although the makers have registered at least 35 patents associated with the vehicle, the price, which is genuinely miniature, has been achieved by boiling down trusted technology to its bare bones.
Ratan Tata, Tata’s chairman, was inspired to build the car after seeing families of four or more crammed onto single motorbikes to negotiate the danger-filled streets of big cities. By producing a vehicle that will supposedly cost “one lakh” (100,000 rupees or $1,970) he hopes to create a whole new class of road users. In fact that price is ex-factory—delivery and taxes will bump up the price by at least 10%. Rather than compete directly with the next cheapest car, at twice the price of the baseline Nano, he hopes to persuade drivers to trade-up from the ubiquitous scooters and small motorbikes that throng the roads.
WASHINGTON, March 22 (UPI) -- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Sunday the federal government should consider raising the gasoline tax to pay for public works improvements.
In an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," the Republican governor said an increase in the federal 18.4 cent per gallon gasoline tax could bankroll projects that have broad public support.
"I think one has to look at it," Schwarzenegger said. "That is the next question, maybe, how do you finance all of this? But I think the important thing is that there's a willingness amongst the people to pay for it."
Sunday, March 22, 2009
While ASCE is pleased that the Obama Administration cited ASCE's 2009 Report Card For America's Infrastructure in the president's proposed FY 2010 budget blueprint and that the U.S. Department of Transportation would receive a $2 billion increase over its FY 2009 level, ASCE strongly opposes a provision which would change the way contract authority is scored and which would eliminate the "firewall" around highway, transit and aviation funding. If adopted, transportation funds held in dedicated trust funds would be handled in the same manner as general revenue in the appropriations process as transportation outlays and budget authority would be treated as discretionary and not as mandatory contract authority.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
And yet, while all the buffoonery takes place on TV for the folks backs home, those same lawmakers have their hand out when the cameras are turned off.
His justification for the veto, offered below, is pathetic. Haley Barbour's most important job is to preserve freedom.
Barbour said this month that Mississippi already has broad protection to protect private property rights because large projects require the approval of local government and the Legislature. Barbour said the Mississippi Development Authority and the governor also have oversight, and people who want to fight eminent domain can go to court.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Volkswagen continues it's investment in Chattanooga by announcing Friday a huge donation to schools in Tennessee.
It's a $5.28-million philanthropic commitment that VW wants to serve as a catalyst for improving programs in Hamilton County Schools along with several state colleges and universities.
SAN FRANCISCO, March 19 (Reuters) - Ahead of a major bond sale next week by California, Fitch Ratings on Thursday cut its "A+" rating on $47.4 billion of state general obligation debt to "A" with a stable outlook, citing falling revenues and the weak economy in the most populous U.S. state.
Fitch analysts in a report noted California's "economic performance and revenue expectations have continued to decline since the state developed its current revenue forecast in November 2008," and pointed to a state unemployment rate of 10.1 percent and a recent state legislative analyst's warning of a "sizable" revenue shortfall in the next fiscal year.
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama's budget would generate deficits averaging almost $1 trillion a year over the next decade, according to the latest congressional estimates, significantly worse than predicted by the White House just last month.
The Congressional Budget Office figures, obtained by The Associated Press Friday, predict Obama's budget will produce $9.3 trillion worth of red ink over 2010-2019. That's $2.3 trillion worse than the White House predicted in its budget.
• In 2007, the U.S. spent $2.2 trillion on health care, an average of $7,421 per person.
• The share of economic activity (gross domestic product, or GDP) devoted to health care has increased from 7.2 percent in 1970 to 16.2 percent in 2007.
• Health care costs have grown on average 2.4 percentage points faster than the GDP since 1970.
• Almost half of health care spending is used to treat just 5 percent of the population.
• Although only 10 percent of total health expenditures, spending on prescription drugs has received considerable attention because of its rapid growth (89 percent from 2000
• About 30 percent of the poor spent more than 10 percent of their income on health in 2004; for the total population with private nongroup insurance, the share of the poor spending more than 10 percent of income increased by more than one-third, from 39 percent in 2001 to 53 percent in 2004.
• Many policy experts believe new technologies and the spread of existing ones account for a large portion of medical spending and its growth.
In Tennessee we were able to resist an effort to pass an income tax. The TSEA, TN State Employees Association, and the TEA State teacher's union, were the two unions that pushed hardest for the state income tax. If they ever gain enough political power in TN the income tax will be their first priority.
French unions have claimed that up to three million people have taken part in street protests amid a national strike against France's economic policies.
Police gave an estimate of 1.2 million people at rallies nationwide.
Schools have been closed and public transport disrupted, with demonstrations held in about 200 towns.
Unions are demanding more is spent to protect workers in the recession. Unemployment has reached two million and is expected to rise further.
Union members marched towards the Place de la Nation in Paris behind a banner that read: "United against the crisis, defend employment, spending power and public services."
This kind of arrogance by Tennessee elected officials is completely unacceptable. Thanks to Linda Noe for bringing the heat for taxpayers.
Making the County's Proposed Budget Easily Available TO THE TAXPAYER: Mayor David Purkey won't do it.
Last month, I asked the county commission to place the proposed county budget on the Hamblen County website when the budget process begins in April. Commissioner Phillips had it put in committee for consideration on March 9.
I began pushing for this when I was on commission. As a commissioner, I had the budget documents in front of me, but the citizens and taxpayers couldn't see anything and had no way of getting the same budget information unless they wanted to make a trip to the Courthouse and pay the Mayor's office $20 or so to get copies.
When my proposal to make the proposed budget available online was considered in committee, Mayor Purkey threw out a number of (meaningless) objections and then his real objection.
We now have a new form of activist investing created in Washington, invest in companies and then work to wreck them and destroy the investment. $180B of taxpayer money has been invested so far in the 8 banks that have received more than $5B of TARP money and politicians are making sure to do their best that not only will we not see a return on the investment, we may not see a return of the investment and will destroy thousands of jobs in the process. The US Constitution has also been chopped up into pieces. I get into this because of the ramifications it has on investor confidence and the desire of the private sector to help with the programs of the Fed and Treasury to AID the credit markets.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
The Chawners, haven't worked in 11 years, claim their weight is a hereditary condition and the money they receive is insufficient to live on.
Mr Chawner said: "What we get barely covers the bills and puts food on the table. It's not our fault we can't work. We deserve more."
The family claim to spend £50 a week on food and consume 3,000 calories each a day. The recommended maximum intake is 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men.
NEW YORK-(Dow Jones)- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) is making its largest ever annual award to employees, handing out roughly $2 billionto its rank and file U.S. workers through measures including bonuses, profit sharing and discounts.
The financial incentives for hourly workers include
$933.6 millionin bonuses that the retailer is handing out Thursday. There is another $788.8 millionin profit sharing and 401(k) contributions, and hundreds of millions of dollars in merchandise discounts and contributions to the employees' stock purchase plan, said Chief Executive Mike Dukein a memo to employees Thursday.
I don't have time to Lexis Nexis a quote from years gone by but I am sure I could find a quote where Phil brags about creating jobs when Dell came to town. I am sure he will issue a press release tomorrow and sadly but frankly take credit for destroying jobs as Dell reduces their work force.
When Dell Computer opened a factory in Lebanon, it said it would create 1,000 new jobs. But fewer than 300 people work there now, and now some public officials are asking why the company is still getting a tax break.Dell used to be a humming computer factory, but it's a shadow of its former self. Last week, the company announced more layoffs. It won't say exactly how many, but a representative for Dell confirmed the Lebanon plant now has only 250 to 300 workers -- about a third of its former workforce.
HERE is the vote
WASHINGTON -- The House of Representatives passed a measure Wednesday that supporters are calling the most sweeping reform of nationally-backed volunteer programs since AmeriCorps. But some opponents are strongly criticizing the legislation, calling it expensive indoctrination and forced advocacy.
The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, known as the GIVE Act -- sponsored by Reps. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y, and George Miller, D-Calif. -- was approved by a 321-105 vote and now goes to the Senate.
The legislation, slated to cost $6 billion over five years, would create 175,000 "new service opportunities" under AmeriCorps, bringing the number of participants in the national volunteer program to 250,000. It would also create additional "corps" to expand the reach of volunteerism into new sectors, including a Clean Energy Corps, Education Corps, Healthy Futures Corps and Veterans Service Corps, and it expands the National Civilian Community Corps to focus on additional areas like disaster relief and energy conservation.
One CEO said, “Michigan and California literally need to do a 180 if they are ever to become competitive again. California has huge advantages with its size, quality of work force, particularly in high tech, as well as the quality of life and climate advantages of the state. However, it is an absolute regulatory and tax disaster, as is Michigan.”
MP: What do the top 9 states (TX, NC, FL, GA, TN, NV, VA, AZ and SC) have in common? What do the bottom 7 states (CA, NY, MI, NJ, MA, IL, and OH) have in common? Check the map here to find out.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I wanted to highlight one trend that I glossed over on Monday, namely that foreign demand for long-term Treasuries has disappeared over the last few months. Consider a chart showing foreign purchases of long-term Treasuries over the past 3 months. Incidentally, the split between private and official purchases in this data should largely be ignored. The revised (i.e. post-survey) data generally have attributed nearly all the flow from 2003 to the official sector.
WASHINGTON — A new, more aggressive effort by airport screeners aims to halt randomly selected passengers for a security check just before they step onto their departing plane, according to a government memo obtained by USA TODAY.
Scores of passengers have already been pulled aside for searches as they waited in line at airport gates for boarding calls. Each of the passengers had already passed through security checkpoints when a uniformed Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer asked them to step out of line to check their IDs or search their carry-on bags.
Passengers can be selected at random or for suspicious behavior, according to a TSA memo dated last Thursday. The program primarily targets riskier flights, according to the memo, which doesn't specify how flights are singled out.
Worrying about the AIG bonuses is sort of like complaining about the food on the Titanic. The taxpayers should NEVER have been forced to invest money in AIG.
Edward Liddy, AIG's caretaker chief executive, told the subcommittee that the company's insurance business remains strong but risks "atrophy" if problems aren't righted soon.
"It is not a failed company. It's a failing company, unless we do something about it," he said, pleading for patience.
Liddy also offered lawmakers a hard number that's long been the subject of speculation. He said the face value of the transactions made by its Financial Products division that still haven't been unwound — or paid off — is $1.6 trillion. That dwarfs the roughly $100 billion of taxpayer money that flowed back through to investment banks, hedge funds and other financial players to pay off bad bets by AIG.
Annie Kevans has painted a lovely series of oil portraits of the girlfriends of U.S. Presidents.Shown above: Kay Summersby (Dwight D Eisenhower), Monica Lewinsky (Bill Clinton), Maria Halpin (Grover Cleveland), Pam Turnure (John F Kennedy), Jill Cowan (John F Kennedy), Blaze Starr (John F Kennedy), Marilyn Monroe (John F Kennedy), Madeleine Brown (Lyndon B Johnson).
Link HT: Legal Research Plus
Greetings from TRAC. The latest case-by-case data from the Justice Department show that in December 2008 the government reported 13,457 new prosecutions. This represents an increase of 14% from the previous month, but a significant 27% decrease from September’s high of 18,434 new filings. The immigration category continues to dominate the DOJ’s caseload, accounting for 59% of all new cases filed in December in U.S. Federal Court.
California's recession has not stopped lawmakers from proposing nearly two dozen bills that would dip into taxpayers' pocketbooks for causes from trauma care to domestic violence.
The measures would affect millions of Californians in ways ranging from legalizing and regulating marijuana to charging for shopper carry-out bags or requiring sterilization of pet cats that roam.
Most of the Democrat-driven proposals target specific groups of people, such as millionaires, pornography buyers, teenage drivers, motorcycle owners, cigarette smokers or liquor drinkers.
The goal typically is to alter risky behavior, reduce pollution or to raise money for education, roads, shelters, emergency services or other vital services in a cash-strapped state.
"It's other people's money and they can dream up every single good cause in the world to justify the further rape of the California taxpayer," said Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
The new measures come only weeks after bitter fighting produced a new state budget with $12.5 billion in higher taxes and fees.
Bill of Attainders are prohibited by the Constitution.
"These clauses of the Constitution are not of the broad, general nature of the Due Process Clause, but refer to rather precise legal terms which had a meaning under English law at the time the Constitution was adopted. A bill of attainder was a legislative act that singled out one or more persons and imposed punishment on them, without benefit of trial. Such actions were regarded as odious by the framers of the Constitution because it was the traditional role of a court, judging an individual case, to impose punishment." William H. Rehnquist, The Supreme Court, page 166.
The Service Employees International Union, considered the most influential union in the nation, has notified the union that represents about 220 of its national field staff and organizers that 75 of them are being laid off. In return, the workers' union, which goes by the somewhat postmodern name of the Union of Union Representatives, has filed unfair labor practices charges against SEIU with the National Labor Relations Board. The staff union's leaders say that SEIU is engaging in the same kind of practices that some businesses use -- laying off workers without proper notice, contracting out work to temp firms, banning union activities and reclassifying workers to reduce union numbers.
Some people in Warren County need food stamps - but not someone who has $80,000 in the bank, a paid-off $311,000 home and a Mercedes, county commissioners said Tuesday.
And if they have to fight the state and federal governments over it, they will.
County commissioners recently learned that a woman with all of those assets had qualified for $500 a month in food stamps after she lost her job.
A new rule by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services says food stamp eligibility rules are based on income and no longer take into account "resources," such as savings accounts, stocks, cars or other belongings.
But Tuesday, Commissioner Dave Young said in front of an audience of county staff, residents and media that the new rule makes no sense.
Last week, a juror in a big federal drug trial in Florida admitted to the judge that he had been doing research on the case on the Internet, directly violating the judge’s instructions and centuries of legal rules. But when the judge questioned the rest of the jury, he got an even bigger shock.
Eight other jurors had been doing the same thing. The federal judge, William J. Zloch, had no choice but to declare a mistrial, a waste of eight weeks of work by federal prosecutors and defense lawyers.“We were stunned,” said a defense lawyer, Peter Raben, who was told by the jury that he had been on the verge of winning the case. “It’s the first time modern technology struck us in that fashion, and it hit us right over the head.”
Early numbers suggest that the first quarter of 2009 has seen lobbying in the nation’s capital spike by nearly 22 percent over last year, which would be the largest ever increase in lobbying activity — and a strong indication that President Barack Obama has helped usher in a Golden Era for K Street.
Between Jan. 1 and March 16 this year, the Senate Office of Public Records received 1,381 new lobbying registrations, which include new lobbying firms, new clients at existing firms, and businesses hiring their first lobbyists. This is the largest batch of new registrations since 1999, the first year these records were kept, and a 21.7 percent increase over last year.
If you subtract the lobbying accounts that have been terminated, you get a net gain in active lobbying accounts this year of 1,252, which represents a surge of 13.5 percent over last year’s growth of 1,103 net lobbying accounts in the same period.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Two new polls show a majority of Michigan residents are reluctant to pay for a gas tax hike to fix the state's roads and bridges, even though many say the state needs to invest in repairs.
A poll of 600 likely voters conducted by Denno Noor for Michigan Information and Research Service (MIRS) says 59 percent of respondents would oppose a nine-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase. Thirty-six percent who were polled said they would support it, and five percent were undecided.
PAWTUCKET –– In this city burdened with one of Rhode Island’s highest home foreclosure rates and a $10-million current-year budget deficit, $550,000 in federal stimulus money is coming to build a skateboarding park and renovate tennis and basketball courts at Jenks Junior High School.
Michael Cassidy, the city planning director, said the money is for shovel-ready projects and the city is ready to go on both the skateboarding park and work on the athletic courts. A bid request has been issued seeking a contractor for the site, which takes in the three recreational projects, at Division and North Bend streets.
Many U.S. lawmakers view cap and trade as a politically superior non-tax approach to climate policy. However, cap and trade imposes identical economic burdens on households to a similarly designed carbon tax. Using the newly-released 2002 input-output accounts we present new estimates of the distributional impact of a typical cap-and-trade system by income, age, U.S. region and family type. In total, households would face an annual burden of roughly $144.8 billion per year with costs disproportionately borne by low-income households, those under age 25 and over 75 years, those in Southern states, and single parents with dependent children. Using RIMS II multipliers we estimate the broader economic impact of cap and trade. Depending on how the system is structured, cap and trade could reduce U.S. employment by 965,000 jobs, household earnings by $37.8 billion, and economic output by $136 billion per year or roughly $1,145 per household. Lawmakers weighing the costs and benefits of climate policy should be aware that cap and trade would impose a significant and regressive annual burden on U.S. households, and would not represent a "tax free" way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A Pennsylvania defense research center regularly consulted with two "handlers" close to Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) as it collected nearly $250 million in federal funding through the lawmaker, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post and sources familiar with the funding requests. The center then channeled a significant portion of the funding to companies that were among Murtha's campaign supporters
Unlike in traditional earmarks -- funding for specific projects publicly requested by members of Congress -- most of the money for the center came through a budget maneuver known as a "plus-up." The process for this kind of earmark allows lawmakers to add money to an existing program in the budget without public disclosure. The center sought $120 million in this type of money for itself and other companies in 2006 alone, according to the records.
Monday, March 16, 2009
EFF's Freedom Of Information Act project has gathered thousands of pages of material. These shed light on controversial government surveillance programs, lobbying practices, and intellectual property initiatives.
You can use the EFF FOIA Search Engine below to search and examine the documents' contents. If you find something you think is significant, send us an email: email@example.com.
The search engine is still in 'beta testing,' so results may not yet be complete or error-free.
Here's my list. What's on yours?
1. Bailing out failed banks
2. Quantitative easing
3. Government data collection
4. Myopic environmentalism (in which climate change is the focus to the exlusion of all other environmental issues)
5. Tax justice
8. European integration
9. Fair trade
10. The state pension Ponzi scheme
These days, it's routine for businesses to fail, get rescued by the government, and then continue to fail. But ethanol, which survives only because of its iron lung of subsidies and mandates, is a special case. Naturally, the industry is demanding even more government life support.
Corn ethanol producers -- led by Wesley Clark, the retired general turned chairman of a new biofuels lobbying outfit called Growth Energy -- want the Obama Administration to make their guaranteed market even larger. Recall that the 2007 energy bill requires refiners to mix 36 billion gallons into the gasoline supply by 2022. The quotas, which ratchet up each year, are arbitrary, but evidently no one in Congress wondered what might happen if the economy didn't cooperate.
Now the recession is hammering demand for gas. The Energy Information Administration notes that U.S. consumption fell nearly 7% in 2008 and expects another 2.2% drop this year. That comes as great news for President Obama, who is achieving his carbon-reduction goals even without a new carbon tax, but the irony is that the ethanol industry is part of the wider collateral damage.
President Obama will kick off an all-out grass-roots effort today urging Congress to pass his $3.55 trillion budget, activating the extensive campaign apparatus he built during his successful 2008 candidacy for the first time since taking office.
The campaign, which will be run under the aegis of the Democratic National Committee, will rely heavily on the 13 million-strong e-mail list put together during the campaign and now under the control of Organizing for America (OFA), a group overseen by the DNC. Aides familiar with the plan said it is an unprecedented attempt to transfer the grass-roots energy built during the presidential campaign into an effort to sway Congress.
Congress is a bunch of pompous political peacocks who can't balance a budget but are happy to lecture anyone who will listen about financial discipline.
Do you favour or oppose limiting the number of terms members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, including your own senators and representatives, can serve?
Source: Opinion Dynamics / Fox News
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 900 American registered voters, conducted on Mar. 3 and Mar. 4, 2009. Margin of error is 3 per cent.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
My opponent can't make that pledge, and here's why: for the first time in American history, he (John McCain) wants to tax your health benefitsNYTimes Mar. 14, 2009
The Obama administration is signaling to Congress that the president could support taxing some employee health benefits,
I mentioned a few weeks ago the calamitous reality of the U.S. auto industry. General Motors has 96,000 employees but provides health benefits to over a million people. They can never sell enough cars to make that math add up. In fact, selling cars doesn’t help, as they lose money on each model. GM is a welfare project masquerading as economic activity. And, after the Obama transformation, America will be, too. The young need to recognize that this is their fight. They need to stop chanting along with the hopeychangey dirges and do something more effective, like form the anti-AARP: the association of Americans who’ll never be able to retire.
The chart above shows the "initial jobless claims as a percent of the labor force" back to January 1980. To reach the same level as the peak in 1982 of 0.6067%, today's jobless claims would have to be almost 936,000, or almost 50% higher than the current 628,000.
Cops handed out a staggering 9,000 summonses in one day to drivers who were caught yapping on their cell phones.
During a 24-hour crackdown Thursday, police zeroed in on motor-mouthed motorists, giving 9,016 of them $120 summonses.
The NYPD warned drivers through media outlets that cops would be on the lookout for drivers who talk on the hand held cell phones without a headset. The initiative began Thursday at midnight and concluded Friday.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Anyone departing the UK by land, sea or air will have their trip recorded and stored on a database for a decade.
Passengers leaving every international sea port, station or airport will have to supply detailed personal information as well as their travel plans. So-called "booze crusiers" who cross the Channel for a couple of hours to stock up on wine, beer and cigarettes will be subject to the rules.
The new checks are being introduced piecemeal by the UK Border Agency. By the end of the year 60 per cent of journeys made out of Britain will be affected with 95 per cent of people leaving the country being subject to the plans by the end 2010.
Yachtsmen, leisure boaters, trawlermen and private pilots will be given until 2014 to comply with the programme.
The definition of Irony: a Senator telling someone else, "you're not God."
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus laid the fate of universal health coverage at the feet of CBO Wednesday, much to the resistance of the new head of the congressional bean-counting agency. . . . . "CBO's work will make or break this enterprise," Baucus said at a Finance Committee hearing where CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf testified. "We need CBO to work with us to find a pathway to health reform". . . . "In my judgment, you're not God," the chairman said….. Elmendorf turned the tables, telling Baucus, "The hard decisions will be yours."
The pole punched through his rib cage and came out the other side.
His father said Mihir "endured terrible pain".
He was rushed to hospital where he underwent three-hour surgery at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences to remove the rod.
He is now recovering in hospital.
The painful Brazilian wax and its intimate derivatives are in danger of being stripped from salon and spa menus if a recent proposal to ban genital waxing is passed by the state's Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling.
Cherry Hill salon owner Linda Orsuto said that women would "go ballistic" if the proposal passed. She said that some women would resort to waxing themselves, visiting unlicensed salons or traveling to other states, including Pennsylvania, in a quest to remain bare down there.
"The clients are going to freak," said Orsuto, who owns 800 West Salon & Spa, on Route 70. "It's a hot issue, and we're going to have to do something."
- The state of New York filed a $12,599 tax warrant on April 26, 2008, in the New York County Clerk's office.
- The IRS filed a $50,464 lien on Sept. 5, 2007, in the Bergen (N.J.) County Clerk's office.
- The IRS filed a $67,509 lien on May 14, 2007, in Bergen County.
- The state of California filed a $4,089 lien on Sept. 16, 2005, in Sacramento County Court.
- The IRS filed a $232,348 lien on Aug. 16, 2005, in New Jersey.
- The state of New Jersey filed a $51,471 lien on Aug. 11, 2005, in New Jersey State Superior Court.
- The state of New Jersey filed a $77,939 lien on Dec. 9, 2004, in New Jersey Superior Court.
- The IRS filed a $482,671 lien on Feb. 19, 2004, in New Jersey.
The Chicago Tribune, citing unnamed sources, reported Friday that Quinn may propose raising the personal income tax rate to 4.5 percent, up from 3 percent. The corporate rate of 4.8 percent would jump to 7.2 percent.
The higher income taxes would generate something in the neighborhood of $4 billion more for the state.
Gov. Jan Brewer says a majority of state lawmakers will eventually realize that they have no choice but to buy into her idea of temporarily hiking taxes to balance the budget. Why? There's no other option, Brewer told the Arizona Daily Star's editorial board Friday.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Tom Humphrey points to the audit of the TN State ECD where it was found the advisory board is just a bunch of figure heads who only meet a few times every 3 or 4 years and don't DO anything in particular.
State auditors are questioning the need for the Tennessee Board for Economic Growth, noting that the 18-member panel met only three times in the past four years - twice in 2006 and once in 2008.
"It is questionable whether the board is fullfilling a meaningful purpose," says an audit of the Department of Economic and Community Development released today by the state Comptroller's Office.
ECD officials are quoted by auditors as saying the lack of meetings was due to multiple vacancies on the panel - apparently since filled - and ECD Commisioner Matt Kisber's "heavy workload."
Kisber is also quoted as saying the board is "potentially useful" as a source of advice and communications with the business community. He is reported in the process of "gathering the board members opinions about the board's future and role."