Tonight's Crazy Story:
Valentine's Gift Blamed for Calif. Power Outage
15,099 customers lost power for 71 minutes on Valentines Day after a helium balloon that was part of someone's gift hit a power substation. According to a Southern California Edison spokesperson, balloon-related power outages happen fairly frequently, with the majority of them occurring on Valentines Day and around the time of graduation.
Topic One: Obama's Budget
Don't have time to read the entire Obama budget submission? Money Morning has a breakdown of the five things to know about the budget. Grover Norquist calls the budget "trickle-down taxation." "What the Democrats are practicing here is once again trickle-down taxation. They promise to tax only rich people and then it trickles down to everyone." Obama's budget also represents a grand departure from the proposals of his own Simpson-Bowles commission.
Jerry Philipson writes that |Obama's budget shows what is important to him. "President Obama delivered his 2013 budget to Congress Monday for approval. He missed the statutory deadline for delivering it by one week. That isn't the only thing he missed. He also missed an opportunity to begin to right America's financial ship, to tackle America's crippling long term financial problems (most of which are of his own making) and restore financial sanity to the life of the country and the lives of ordinary Americans. Instead, he gave America and Americans more of the same, more of what he has given them since he took office...more debt, more borrowing, more spending, more federal government intervention in the economy at the expense of capitalism and the free market system which has served them so well over the years, more stimulus programs which are bound to fail just like their predecessors, more smoke and mirrors and creative accounting which has no basis in reality, more unemployment, more misery, more taxes, more of everything except jobs, money in people's pockets, financial and personal independence and hope for the future." Related stories: The "tax-the-rich" budget || The politics behind a budgetless America || A phone app for the budget? || It's my money, America" || Receipts and outlays in pictorial form
There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"Here's a good tip. If your girlfriend or your wife gives you that speech about how she doesn't care about Valentine's Day and how it's a holiday invented by corporations, don't fall for it."
Topic Two: Iran
Iran announced today that it had completed mastery of the nuclear process. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was on hand as the state-run TV broadcast images of the installation of the domestically-produced fuel rods. Iran also announced its intention to begin producing yellowcake, a material used for enriching uranium. UN sanctions currently ban the sale of yellowcake to Iran. Meanwhile, a US carrier travelling through the Straight of Hormuz was shadowed by Iranian missile boats and aircraft. This comes after Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait.
Related stories: Iran cuts oil to 6 EU nations || Israel: "We have every intention of defending ourselves" || What Obama's reelection means for Iran
Yesterday, the government increased the debt by $4,185,828,525.85, raising the national debt to:
Topic Three: ObamaCare
The debate continues over the contraception mandate. The administration says that it will not make any further changes, but the Catholic bishops say they will refuse to comply. Forbes takes a line from Obama, calling the mandate "the audacity of power." "In one of the boldest, most audacious moves ever made by a President of the United States, President Barack Obama is on the brink of successfully rendering moot the very first clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (emphasis added). If he forces the Catholic Church to comply with the Health and Human Services ruling to provide its employees with insurance that covers activities the Church has long held sinful — abortion via the morning after pill, sterilization and contraceptives — then the precedent is clear: when religious beliefs conflict with government decrees, religion must yield."
On the individual mandate, the Tax Foundation wrote a great article on how the mandate is outside Congress's power to tax. "This Court should be reluctant to reject the widely-accepted definition of "tax" as an exaction imposed for the primary purpose of raising revenue for general spending, because to do so would jeopardize settled precedent and taxpayer protections at the federal level and in nearly every state. There has been no development in law that necessitates such a far-reaching change. A meaningful distinction between "tax" and "penalty" is vital to give operation to numerous federal and state provisions relating to tax policy. If this Court held that a tax is any government collection of revenue, then government revenue collection efforts across the country would be imperiled, as many revenue sources are not subjected to the heightened restrictions that "taxes" are. ... This Court should therefore be cautious not to encourage treating penalties as taxes, as that would render many state powers, and potentially the Taxing Power's limitations, meaningless."
Related stories: 65% back contraception mandate || Contraception mandate is about conscience || Obama's anti-constitutional pattern
Tweet of the Day:
Craig Carroll (@craigcarroll): I've said it b4; Electing Obama as president was the same as if putting a child w/ a lemonade stand in charge of Starbucks. #tcot #p2
Topic Four: The Payroll Tax Cut
It appears that there may be an agreement on the payroll tax cut after all. The conference committee charged with negotiating the difference between the House and Senate bills appears to have reached a compromise. The bill will extend the payroll tax cut, apply the doc-fix provision to Medicare, and extend the emergency level of unemployment benefits through the end of the year. However, this is different from the bill that was proposed recently by Republicans, which would have extended only the payroll tax cut without any other provisions. This new agreement will force those in Congress to choose between cutting taxes or additional entitlement spending.
Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country."
Topic Five: Control in Education
Who knows best: the parents or the school? According to one official from Michigan's Department of Education, the answer is the school. Debbie Squires, director of the Michigan Elementary and Middle Schools Principals Association, reportedly told the Michigan House Education Committee, "[Educators] are the people who know best about how to serve children, that’s not necessarily true of an individual resident. I‘m not saying they don’t want the best for their children, but they may not know what actually is best from an education standpoint." The discussion came up during a hearing on school choice.
Related stories: Education gap in rich vs. poor terms || Minority students shouldn't be trapped in bad schools (but white students can be?)
Tomorrow in History
February 16, 1959 - Following the overthrow of dictator Fulgencio Batista on January 1, Fidel Castro is selected as Cuba's premier.
Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening
Despite attacks on Israelis abroad, US says there is no threat to Jews here
Did NBC influence the assassination attempts on Israeli diplomats?
Stories of forced unionism
Obama's change comes true
Feds shut down Amish farm for selling fresh milk
Don't trust government numbers
The Closing Argument
Bills may die, but ideas never die. Just because a bill has been defeated in Congress does not mean it cannot be resurrected or inserted as a portion of another bill. I would not be surprised if portions of the recently-shelved transportation bill are handled in this manner. Be sure to watch out for these types of political games played by our politicians to mask their true opinions.
Would you like to receive The Final Five in your inbox each night? Click here to sign up for our new e-mail updates.