Friday, May 18, 2012

The Final Five: May 18, 2012



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Tonight's Crazy Story:
California Family Wakes Up to Find Lexus in Backyard Swimming Pool
Every year at Christmas, we see commercials about people who wake up to find a Lexus (usually with a giant red bow on top) in their driveway. But this California family woke up to find a Lexus somewhere they were not expecting it.


Topic One: Iran vs. Israel
Stop giving Iran a pass: "Iranian leaders are in standing violation of the same non-proliferation treaty they and their sympathizers evoke as a basis for their supposed right to pursue nuclear technology. This in itself is a contradiction that often stands unchallenged. The NPT is not an à la carte menu and it was never intended to cover the acquisition of nuclear weapons capability under the guise of rights to nuclear technology; signatories are either fully compliant or noncompliant and, therefore, outside its bounds. The Iranian regime has placed itself outside the bounds of the NPT because of its own actions. It is nonsensical for anyone watching this scenario unfold under current circumstances to insist on Iran’s right to any nuclear program."

Is Israel close to a decision on striking Iran? "This inner sanctum at the end of a corridor between Netanyahu's private room and the office of his top military adviser, is where one of the decade's most momentous military decisions could soon be taken: to launch an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear program. Time for that decision is fast running out and the mood in Jerusalem is hardening. Iran continues to enrich uranium in defiance of international pressure, saying it needs the fuel for its civilian nuclear program. The West is convinced that Tehran's real objective is to build an atomic bomb - something which the Jewish state will never accept because its leaders consider a nuclear armed-Iran a threat to its very existence."


Time for a Laugh:
"Florida's board of education has decided to lower the passing grade on standardized tests after noticing a drastic drop in student passing scores. In other words, if the students don't do well enough on the tests, they don't teach them better, they just lower the bar. Why didn't we think of this before? Imagine how many more doctors we could've had right now."
-Jay Leno


Topic Two: The Student Debt Problem
Graduating in debt: "Kelsey Griffith graduates on Sunday from Ohio Northern University. To start paying off her $120,000 in student debt, she is already working two restaurant jobs and will soon give up her apartment here to live with her parents. ... Ms. Griffith, 23, wouldn’t seem a perfect financial fit for a college that costs nearly $50,000 a year. Her father, a paramedic, and mother, a preschool teacher, have modest incomes, and she has four sisters. But when she visited Ohio Northern, she was won over by faculty and admissions staff members who urge students to pursue their dreams rather than obsess on the sticker price. "As an 18-year-old, it sounded like a good fit to me, and the school really sold it," said Ms. Griffith, a marketing major. "I knew a private school would cost a lot of money. But when I graduate, I’m going to owe like $900 a month. No one told me that."

The big difference of opinion: "I didn't want any debt from college. So I chose to attend a state school relatively close to my home, thus eliminating the cost of room and board, and spent some time in junior college to make my education even less costly. Of course, those classes at the junior college were the exact same that others were taking at the university at four or five times the cost. So, with a little planning, hard work, and dedication, I managed to graduate debt-free with a bachelor's and master's degree in five and a half years. Now, the flip-side. Suppose someone -- let's call him "Barack" -- is accepted into an elite private school that costs $40,000 per year for tuition and room and board. Let's say he gets $10,000/year in scholarship money to coax him into going there. Barack then justifies in his own mind that he doesn't have time to get a job while at the school because the classes are so difficult. So, this hypothetical student graduates with his private school bachelor's degree and also $120,000 in student debt. Let's say Barack and I both graduate with similar degrees and roughly the same grade-point average and that the school we each attended is held in high esteem for our chosen area of study. Between the two of us, all other factors equal, who is the more attractive candidate for a job? Is it Barack, who has the private-school degree and zero work experience, or is it I, who worked full-time and graduated on time with the same degree as Barack?"


Debt Watch:
$15,708,753,671,767.64
( As of Wednesday, May 16, 2012 )

Change: +$4,069,463,958
Your share as a citizen: $50,250.78
Share per household: $137,547.04
Debt since Obama inauguration: $5,085,946,086,813


Topic Three: Voting Fraud Exists
Democrats want you to close your eyes and imagine there is no vote fraud. The facts, however, tell a different story. Florida found 53,000 dead voters still listed on the voting rolls: "I have learned that Florida election officials are set to announce that the secretary of state has discovered and purged up to 53,000 dead voters from the voter rolls in Florida. How could 53,000 dead voters have sat on the polls for so long? Simple. Because Florida hadn’t been using the best available data revealing which voters have died. Florida is now using the nationwide Social Security Death Index for determining which voters should be purged because they have died. Here is the bad news. Most states aren’t using the same database that Florida is. In fact, I have heard reports that some election officials won’t even remove voters even when they are presented with a death certificate. That means that voter rolls across the nation still are filled with dead voters, even if Florida is leading the way in detecting and removing them."

Evidence of irregularities in Montana: "In at least two counties in Montana, the home of a competitive U.S. Senate race that could tip the balance of power in the upper chamber, massive mail-in absentee ballot irregularities have been uncovered by Media Trackers Montana, a non-partisan investigative research organization with operations in five states across the country. In Broadwater county alone, where Sen. Jon Tester received only 35 percent of the vote in the 2006 general election, up to 600 erroneous mail-in ballots have been reported. Over a dozen Billings-area voters have complained that they received incorrect ballots. Yellowstone county officials have also reported numerous complaints from voters receiving the wrong ballot. And to top it all off, even a sample ballot available to individual voters on the Montana Secretary of State’s website is incorrect (this particular ballot allows the voter to select a state representative in two separate districts — districts 68 and 83). A majority of Montana voters are expected to vote by mail this November."


Tweet of the Day:
@indyrallen: Bill Clinton is black, Obama is gay, George Zimmerman is white, Elizabeth Warren is native American and I'm confused. #tcot


Topic Four: Reauthorizing the Free Market
RedState contributor Daniel Horowitz on the need for reform in reauthorization bills: "Decades’ worth of government incentives to live in flood-prone regions have enticed thousands of homeowners into purchasing houses in areas that will forever necessitate more subsidies. 80 years’ worth of farm subsidies and crop insurance have created near-immutable levels of dependency in our farming communities. Decades’ worth of housing subsidies have created a reality in which 90% of all mortgages are backed by Fannie and Freddie." "Restoring our economy to a system governed by the free market – as the Founders envisioned – will not be an easy task. We understand that we cannot eliminate all government interventions overnight. However, we must not squander the reauthorization opportunities by reflexively extending the programs with little or notional reforms. Every reauthorization of farming, housing, flood insurance, and numerous other interventionist programs must set us on a trajectory towards privatization with the ultimate intent of ending government involvement, not perpetuating it." Later, Horowitz concludes: "Restoring the free-market from the irrepressible grip of government is no small task; nonetheless, it must be the ultimate goal of any reauthorization bill. We didn’t start these public policy problems in the first place; we certainly are not obligated to rubber-stamp the statist solutions. Let’s stop reauthorizing failure."


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them."

-Thomas Jefferson


Topic Five: Obama's Strategy
Jim Geraghty analyzes Obama's strategies in his previous campaigns and analyzes why it will not work this time: "Obama is using a familiar strategy because it’s not really clear that he’s ever had to use any other one. Once he won the Democratic primary for his State Senate seat in 1996, he had the seat for life, representing Hyde Park, an ultra-liberal neighborhood. He lost a House bid in 2000 against Democrat Bobby Rush, and then his next genuinely difficult fight was the 2004 Senate primary… when revelations from sealed divorce records doomed his best-funded opponent. Many of you are thinking, ‘wait, Jim, no, you’re thinking of Jack Ryan with the Jeri Ryan divorce papers’ – but the exact same thing happened in the general election. From there, Obama had a cakewalk beating Alan Keyes. In each circumstance, just getting the Democrats to come out in their traditional numbers was sufficient to ensure victory."

"The 2008 Democratic party was indeed a tough fight, but again Obama was assembling his familiar coalition – African-Americans, Hollywood, gays, the party’s liberal wing – to overcome Hillary’s white working-class base. And then in 2008, even with the wind of Bush fatigue at his back, Obama was trailing... until Lehman collapsed, McCain insisted the debates be canceled, and then he changed his mind two days ago. In other words, 2008 was a perfect storm for Obama’s appeal to independents, centrists, Democrats who were unconvinced in the primary and frustrated Republicans. Obama has never really had to try to win over, say, the suburbs or exurbs of Columbus, Orlando, Colorado Springs, or other “in play” parts of the political map in less than ideal circumstances."


To this point I would also add that the historic turnouts of Obama's key voter groups are historic because they do not happen every four years. African-Americans will probably turn out in near record numbers again, but I find it difficult to believe that other groups will come to the polls for Obama like they did in 2008. In discussions with many people who are a part of some of these voter groups, the sentiment that I am gathering is that a large percentage of them would rather stay home than vote for Obama (voting for Romney is apparently not even an option for them.) However, if these groups fail to turn out at the same level as 2008, Obama will be at a disadvantage, and his strategy as outlined above will not help him make up his deficit.


Tomorrow in History
May 19, 1943 - British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Franklin Roosevelt establish May 1, 1944, as the date for the Normandy invasion (D-Day). Inclement weather would cause it to be delayed over a month to June 6, 1944.


Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening:
Minorities surpass whites in births

No subsidies for this solar company

Rand Paul: how do you find middle ground with a party that has no plan

Inside JPMorgan's blunder

The 20 best jobs that don't require a degree

Occupy Chicago protests Limbaugh...in wrong city

Man promised all-you-can-eat fish is still hungry

Romney's debt visual

How Yahoo lost the internet



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Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Final Five: May 17, 2012



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Tonight's Crazy Story:
'This Is Going On YouTube': See How This Lamborghini Ends Up Crashing
It's not every day you pull up behind a Lamborghini at a red light. When the passengers of this car did, they turned on a phone to record some footage, and they ended up taping the car spinning out and crashing between two other cars.


Topic One: To Budget or Not To Budget
Republicans in the Senate brought five budget resolutions to the floor yesterday. First, they introduced the President's budget, which was defeated by a vote of 99-0. Next, they considered the Ryan budget, which received 41 votes of support but was still defeated. Then, they considered budget resolutions by Pat Toomey, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee, which were defeated by votes of 42-57, 16-83, and 17-82, respectively. Democrats did not propose a single budget, nor did a single Democrat vote for one of the five budgets brought to the floor.

The Washington Free Beacon blames it on the "Do-Nothing Democrats": "Senate Democrats are poised to continue their impressive streak of budgetary negligence on Wednesday by unanimously rejecting as many as five different budgets, including the one offered by President Obama. Republicans, meanwhile, are hoping that voters will pick up on the disturbing trend. The Democratic-led Senate has not formally proposed a federal budget resolution in more than three years, and is not expected to offer one Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) have made explicitly clear that they have no intention of doing so before the November election."

PowerLine's John Hinderaker says it sets a new standard of irresponsibility: "The Senate voted on five budgets today, at the insistence of Republican senators. The result was revealing: no Senate Democrat voted in favor of any budget. This is consistent, of course, with the fact that the Democrat-led Senate has refused to adopt a budget, in violation of federal law, for the last three years. Still, it is a little shocking to see that not a single Democrat was willing to vote in favor of any budget, even the most irresponsible."


Time for a Laugh:
"President Obama is calling for more government reform after JPMorgan's $2 billion loss. Really, is that what we need — the government stepping in? You know what's going to happen? The government's going to teach them how to lose $2 billion a DAY!"
-Jay Leno


Topic Two: The Ex-Patriot Act
After the news broke that Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin renounced his American citizenship, two Democrats became concerned that the government will not be able to get its hands on Saverin's Facebook earnings. Today, they set out to fix that problem: "The two Democrats unveiled a bill called the Ex-PATRIOT Act, or the "Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy" Act. It may never even rise to the level of committee consideration, but if it does pass, it would require Saverin and others who renounce citizenship to pay taxes at a 30 percent rate on any U.S. investment. The penalty only will "prospectively impose a tax on an individual's future investment gains," according to a summary of the bill — suggesting it may not touch amounts Saverin stands to make with the IPO and others who long ago dodged the tax bullet. However, Schumer said it would still affect Saverin and others who invest in the United States to maintain their net worth. The bill would create exemptions for those who have good reasons to give up their citizenship and sets a floor on who would be affected by the tax penalties."

What does Saverin owe the United States? "The entire episode irks me, too. Yes, because Saverin seems like a selfish ingrate, but also for entirely different reasons. If high taxation chases successful people out of the country, that’s the country’s fault. Daniel Mitchell at the Cato Institute likens this to a “fiscal version of blaming the victim.” Obviously, attaching the word “victim” to a billionaire in an age of class warfare is not going to do much to bolster Saverin’s case, but human beings will act in their own self interest. Surely, with every person, there are a host of reasons for making these kinds of decisions – who knows, maybe Saverin hates eating American cuisine or the weather – but once the tax code pushes people away rather than entice them to come, something is wrong."


Debt Watch:
$15,708,753,671,767.64
( As of Wednesday, May 16, 2012 )

Change: -$7,361,941,037
Your share as a citizen: $50,237.77
Share per household: $137,511.42
Debt since Obama inauguration: $5,081,876,622,855


Topic Three: Veritas's Next Project
James O'Keefe's group, Project Veritas, has been in the news this election cycle for its videos showing how easy it was to vote as a dead person and even how easy it was to get Eric Holder's ballot. Now the group has taken the next step and is explaining how easy it is for a non-citizen to get a ballot.

Of course, liberals cry foul, claiming that any attempt to ensure electoral integrity is an attempt to silence Americans. This is about keeping people who should not be voting from voting. O'Keefe even goes further: "O’Keefe also tells WND about his group’s visit to the University of North Carolina, where a dean and a program director laugh off confessions of voter fraud and even seem to encourage it. Yet a day later, both officials tell conservatives that voter fraud never happens. “We’re trying to highlight the hypocrisy of these individuals and their inablility to do the right thing,” O’Keefe told WND."


Tweet of the Day:
Rep. Jeff Duncan (@RepJeffDuncan): If we paid $1 million a day, starting from when Jesus was born to present, we still wouldn't have paid back the first trillion on our debt


Topic Four: Talking Race
The rules are changing: "Attorney General Eric Holder should have been more careful about what to ask for. When he first took office, he called for a national dialogue on race, calling us "a nation of cowards" for not facing the subject honestly. It may be that he's getting what he asked for, but it is not taking the direction he expected. There's perhaps a little too much courage and honesty going on for his tastes."

Racism and political correctness: "Whites have rightly come to see anti-white bias as a bigger problem than anti-black bias, according to interesting recent research by Harvard's Michael I. Norton and Samuel R. Sommers of Tufts University. But the Inquisition continues; the left places no limit on the lies, excuses, white guilt, cultural degradation, and bad policy that flow from political correctness. The only limit will come when people of all races confidently stand for colorblind justice and free inquiry. That would mean that individuals and groups are respected -- or criticized -- based on the content of their character as it is revealed by their actions."


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicity."

-Thomas Jefferson


Topic Five: Hopeless Change
Bob Beauprez explains the effect of the Obama economy on young adults: "According to the Pew Research Center, voters under the age of 30 supported Obama over John McCain 66:31 – by far the largest disparity between young voters and other age groups in any presidential election since exit polling began in 1972. In addition to the critical vote totals, Obama attracted thousands of high energy campaign volunteers that brought unbridled enthusiasm to his campaign of Hope-and-Change."

"Sadly, three years later, it is more like Hopeless Change that millions of young Americans face. In exchange for that 2:1 vote of confidence they gave Obama in 2008, the 18-29 year-olds are feeling the brunt of the economic stagnation – often by twice the degree of all other age groups. According to the Wall Street Journal, "The U.S. labor market is in a malaise, but young adults are in crisis."


Tomorrow in History
May 18, 1980 - Mount St. Helens erupts in Washington, killing 57 people and causing $3 billion in damage.


Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening:
The stagnant jobless claims

Boehner promises real cuts in debt limit fight

How Obama is wrecking NASCAR

Virgin Atlantic to allow in-flight phone calls

Bonuses for federal workers?

Two cabinet members named in green loan probe

USPS to begin closing plants this summer



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D.C. Daily: May 17, 2012

Senate

Yesterday's Action:
During business yesterday, the Senate took the following actions:
  • Passed S. Res. 463, designating May 19, 2012, as "National Kids to Parks Day".
  • Passed S. Res. 464, commemorating the 70th anniversary of Ellsworth Air Force Base.
  • Passed S. Res. 465, recognizing that the Governor of the State of Colorado has proclaimed 2012 as the "Year of Water".
  • Considered the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 2343, the "Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act of 2012". No further action was taken.
  • Rejected the motion to proceed to consideration of S. Con. Res. 41, setting forth the President's budget request for the United States Government for fiscal year 2013, by a unanimous vote of 99 nays.
  • Rejected the motion to proceed to consideration of H. Con. Res. 112, establishing the budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2013, by a vote of 41 yeas to 58 nays.
  • Rejected the motion to proceed to consideration of S. Con. Res. 37, setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2013, by a vote of 42 yeas to 57 nays.
  • Rejected the motion to proceed to consideration of S. Con. Res. 42, setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2013, by a vote of 16 yeas to 83 nays.
  • Rejected the motion to proceed to consideration of S. Con. Res. 44, setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2013, by a vote of 17 yeas to 82 nays.
  • Agreed to refer H.R. 2947, to provide for the release of the reversionary interest held by the United States in certain land conveyed by thJerome H. Powelle United States in 1950 for the establishment of an airport in Cook County, Minnesota, to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
  • Agreed to consider the nominations of Jeremy C. Stein and Jerome H. Powell to be Members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System at 10:30 AM on Thursday, January 17, 2013.


Today's Schedule
The Senate will meet today at 9:30 AM. The Senate is expected to begin consideration of S. 3187, "FDA User Fee". At 10:30 AM, the Senate will resume consideration of the nominations of Jeremy C. Stein and Jerome H. Powell to be Members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.


House

Yesterday's Action:
During business yesterday, the House took the following actions:
  • Passed H.R. 4970, the "Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012", by a vote of 222 yeas to 205 nays.
  • Suspended the rules and passed H.R. 4119, to reduce the trafficking of drugs and to prevent human smuggling across the Southwest Border by deterring the construction and use of border tunnels, by a vote of 416 yeas to 4 nays.
  • Suspended the rules and passed H.R. 2745, to amend the Mesquite Lands Act of 1986 to facilitate implementation of a multispecies habitat conservation plan for the Virgin River in Clark County, Nevada.
  • Suspended the rules and passed H.R. 2621, the "Chimney Rock National Monument Establishment Act".
  • Considered H.R. 5740, the "National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act".
  • Considered H.R. 4310, the "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013", after agreeing to the rule providing for its consideration, H. Res. 656.


Today's Schedule
The House will meet today at 10:00 AM. It is expected to resume consideration of H.R. 4310, the "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013", subject to a rule.

Executive Agencies

Proposed Rules:
  • Federal Aviation Administration, FAA-2012-0176: proposing to update, simplify, and streamline rules of practice and procedure for filing and adjudicating complaints against federally-assisted airports.
  • Copyright Office, Library of Congress, 2012-3: clarifying that the copyright claimant must be either the author of the work, or a person or organization that has obtained ownership of all of the exclusive rights initially belonging to the author.
  • Copyright Royalty Board, 2011-3 CRB Phonorecords II: set the rates and terms for the section 115 statutory license for the use of musical works in physical phonorecord deliveries, permanent digital downloads, ringtones, interactive streaming, limited downloads, limited offerings, mixed service bundles, music bundles, paid locker services and purchased content locker services.
  • Environmental Protection Agency, EPA-R08-OAR-2011-0851, FRL-9673-6: correcting a proposed regarding the Federal Implementation Plan (FIP) to address regional haze in the State of Montana.
  • Environmental Protection Agency, EPA-HQ-OW-2009-0596 FRL-9670-7: extending the July 6, 2012, effective date of the “Water Quality Standards for the State of Florida's Lakes and Flowing Waters; Final Rule” (inland waters rule) for three months to October 6, 2012.
  • Environmental Protection Agency, EPA-R06-RCRA-2011-0484 FRL-9652-8: codifying in the regulations entitled “Approved State Hazardous Waste Management Programs”, Oklahoma's authorized hazardous waste program.
  • Federal Communications Commission, MD Docket No. 12-116 FCC 12-48: revising the Schedule of Regulatory Fees in order to recover an amount of $339,844,000 that Congress has required the Commission to collect for fiscal year 2012.
  • Defense Department, General Services Administration, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration, FAR Case 2011-019 Docket 2011-0019 Sequence 1:proposing to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to remove references to specific paragraphs in an accounting standard that were deleted in the Financial Accounting Standards Board's (FASB's) Accounting Standards Codification (ASC).
  • Federal Railroad Administration, FRA-2010-0155: proposing to add certain potentially impairing non-controlled substances to its standard post-accident testing panel.


Supreme Court

The court has concluded scheduled oral arguments for the October 2011 term. However, the court is still meeting to finalize decisions on cases it heard during the preceeding term. The court's next session of oral arguments is scheduled to begin on Monday, October 1, 2012.

Yesterday, the court issued the following decision:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Final Five: May 16, 2012



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Tonight's Crazy Story:
Man Bitten by Rattlesnake at Idaho Wal-Mart
A man reached down to pick up a stick in the gardening aisle at a Wal-Mart, only to discover that the "stick" was a rattlesnake.


Topic One: Transportation (In)Security
The TSA is now reporting that only slightly more than half of security breaches are actually reported: "On average, only half of the security breaches at six of the country's major airports were reported to and corrected by the Transportation Security Administration during a 16-month period, according to a federal investigation launched after a series of lapses at Newark Liberty International Airport. According to a report released Monday by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general, Newark had the worst record of the six major airports, with only 42 percent of security breaches reported to TSA headquarters from January 2010 to May 2011."

House Transportation Security Subcommittee Chair Mike Rodgers responds: "Ahead of a congressional hearing on security breaches that plague airports across the country, Rep. Mike Rogers said Wednesday that the TSA must get "smarter, leaner and tougher" for the country to avoid a repeat of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "TSA likes to talk about their successes and I’m proud of their successes — we haven’t had another successful attack in 10 years. The problem is, we have only have to miss one and it’s a disaster," Rogers (R-Ala.) said on CNN’s "Starting Point." "We want TSA to become smarter, leaner and tougher."

The real problem is that the TSA has done very little to prevent another 9/11 from happening. We are not told to take off our shoes because someone in an office thought that a shoe might be a good place to hide a bomb. We are told to take off our shoes because someone actually took explosives through the security line in his shoe but was foiled by alert passengers. The same goes for many of the other foiled plots. The TSA has been excellent at changing its security procedures in response to these failed attempts, but it has been horrible at actually stopping attacks.


Time for a Laugh:
"As of Friday you'll all be able to buy shares of Facebook. This is perfect for anyone who's ever logged on, looked at pictures of their friend eating a sandwich, and thought, "Now there's a sound investment."
-Conan O'Brien


Topic Two: What the JP Morgan Loss Means
David Harsanyi on why this loss proves we do not need more regulation: "...the kerfuffle surrounding JPMorgan's losses helps ensure that politics will become an even bigger part of finance. Whereas Washington once created an environment in which big banks could act recklessly knowing full well they would be saved by taxpayers, now CEOs, such as JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon, may find themselves increasingly shying away from taking smart risk (or from hedging risk, which credit default swaps do), because any loss will be scrutinized by regulation-happy politicians looking to score points. Now, I have no idea whether JPMorgan Chase is a "well-managed" bank as the president claims, but rather than turning banks into "special" cases, Washington should be working to let them sink or swim on their own."

Robert Samuelson shares what we should learn from this incident: "It's a teachable moment, but what's the right lesson? Already, the $2 billion-plus trading debacle at JPMorgan Chase has inspired a powerful storyline. Nothing has changed since the financial crisis, it's said. Big banks remain out of control, gambling recklessly. If Jamie Dimon's bank, reputed to be one of the best-managed, can get into trouble, what can we expect of the others? Government regulations and regulators need to be tougher to counteract bankers' greed and incompetence. The storyline is marred only by this: Everything in it is exaggerated, misleading or wrong."


Debt Watch:
$15,716,115,612,805.06
( As of Tuesday, May 15, 2012 )

Change: +$39,119,338,944
Your share as a citizen: $50,261.31
Share per household: $137,575.86
Debt since Obama inauguration: $5,089,238,563,892


Topic Three: The State Doesn't Know Best
The Boston Globe analyzes a new law designed to curb the rising costs due to Romney's 2006 health care overhaul: "Which brings us to the “ Health Care Quality Improvement and Cost Reduction Act of 2012,” a 178-page bill introduced in the Massachusetts House this month amid jaunty predictions of cheaper insurance premiums for Bay State families and tens of billions of dollars in medical savings over the next 15 years. An even longer bill — 235 pages — has been introduced in the state Senate."

"These bills aren’t written in Latin and they don’t impose the death penalty, but their core principle is not much different from Diocletian’s: The state knows best. What fraction of the local economy should health care consume? How fast should medical spending rise? On what business model should provider networks be organized? How should hospital and doctors fees be calculated? Where should consumers get information on quality and cost of care? When are a provider’s high rates justified? What penalty should it bear when they aren’t? In the world these plans envision, decision after decision comes not through the voluntary interplay of doctors, patients, hospitals, and insurers, but from government agents who impose them from above."


Tweet of the Day:
@OrwellForce: Since it was obviously Obama that told his lit agent he was born in Kenya, it seems pretty safe to say Obama was the first birther


Topic Four: Is Bipartisanship Dead?
Who says bipartisanship is dead? Mitt Romney is crossing the aisle to find an unlikely source for his campaign: Jimmy Carter. Politico says: "But Romney is pursuing his own strategy to puncture Obama’s next-generation cool and paint the president as a retread, comparing him to Jimmy Carter and his fuzzy-headed liberal thinking. To the presumptive GOP presidential candidate, Carter is not just a former president, he’s a potent metaphor and political weapon. "When you mention Jimmy Carter, that lightens up certain regions of the mind and brings to mind ineptness and incompetence," said Peter Wehrer, who worked in the Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations. "That’s going to be one of the things that Romney is going to try and tie to Obama."

Republican/RINO-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter reached out in support of one of his former Republican colleagues this week: "Arlen Specter, the former Pennsylvania moderate most recently used as a cudgel against Rick Santorum in the GOP presidential primary, made the case for Sen. Orrin Hatch in his primary challenge from Dan Liljenquist yesterday on MSNBC's "Melissa Harris-Perry" show. He suggests Dick Lugar was "cannibalized" and adds, "The cannibals are devouring senators."

Maybe this is not exactly the idea that the term "bipartisan" brings to mind. However, campaigns today are finding help in some interesting--and very strange--sources.


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is argument of tyrants. It is the creed of slaves."

-William Pitt


Topic Five: Benefiting from Cap-and-Trade
India and China are receiving the biggest benefit from the UN's cap-and-trade system: "The United Nations-administered cap and trade system to reduce planetary greenhouse gases through investment in “green” projects in developing countries has directed most of its billions of dollars in investments to China and India, two of the world’s most notorious polluters. Indeed, China and India together have gotten more than 70 percent of the more than 4,100 projects so far registered for the system, while most developing nations, aside from a handful, have gotten hardly any at all, according to the system’s own accounts."

But that's certainly not all. Besides benefiting the "developing nations" of China and India, the report also admits that the program is not even reaching its own goals of greenhouse gas emissions: "The question of whether it has, in fact, reduced global greenhouse emissions by the equivalent of some 927 million tons of carbon, as heralded by the carbon reduction certificates tallied on the CDM website is also open to vigorous dispute. In all, "one gets the impression of a mechanism that has not delivered on its objectives as well as many had hoped," as the European Commission consultants delicately put it, while they critiqued the cap and trade system’s "lack of transparency," "inconsistency of decisions," "conflicts of interest," and extensive support for "unsustainable technology for emissions reduction."


Tomorrow in History
May 17, 1875 - The first running of the Kentucky Derby. The race would be won by Aristides.


Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening:
The backlash on student testing

The follies of Taxifornia

The path to Social Security insolvency

Obama only leads by 7 in Arkansas's fourth district

ObamaCare is a $1 trillion boost to insurers

Companies using short political surveys to get around "Do Not Call"



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D.C. Daily: May 16, 2012

Senate

Yesterday's Action:
During business yesterday, the Senate took the following actions:
  • Passed H.R. 2072, the "Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act", by a vote of 78 yeas to 20 nays.
  • Passed S. Res. 460, designating the week of May 20 through May 26, 2012, as "National Public Works Week".
  • Passed S. Res. 461, recognizing the teachers of the United States for their contributions to the development and progress of our Nation.
  • Considered the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 2343, the "Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act".
  • Agreed to consider five budget resolutions on Wednesday, May 16, 2012.


Today's Schedule
The Senate will meet today at 9:30 AM. The Senate is expected to consider the motions to proceed to consideration of the following five budget resolutions: S. Con. Res. 41, H. Con. Res. 112, S. Con. Res. 37, S. Con. Res. 42, and S. Con. Res. 44.


House

Yesterday's Action:
During business yesterday, the House took the following actions:
  • Suspended the rules and passed H.R. 1864, the "Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act".
  • Suspended the rules and passed H.R. 365, the "National Blue Alert Act of 2012", by a vote of 394 yeas to 1 nay.
  • Suspended the rules and passed H.R. 3534, the "Security in Bonding Act".
  • Suspended the rules and passed H.R. 3874, the "Black Hills Cemetery Act", by a vote of 400 yeas to 1 nay.
  • Suspended the rules and passed H.R. 205, the "HEARTH Act", by a vote of 400 yeas to 0 nays.
  • Suspended the rules and passed H.R. 4240, the "Ambassador James R. Lilley and Congressman Stephen J. Solarz North Korea Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2012".
  • Suspended the rules and passed H.R. 4045, to modify the Department of Defense Program Guidance.


Today's Schedule
The House will meet today at 10:00 AM. It is expected to consider H.R. 4970, the "Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012" and H.R. 4310, the "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013", with both bills subject to a rule.


Executive Agencies

Proposed Rules:
  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, APHIS-2011-0003: revising the definition of retail pet store and related regulations to bring more pet animals sold at retail under the protection of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
  • Energy Department, EERE-2008-BT-TP-0011: amending the test procedures for microwave ovens.
  • Environmental Protection Agency, EPA-R08-OAR-2011-0114 FRL-9670-6: proposing to partially approve and partially disapprove a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of Utah on May 26, 2011 that addresses regional haze.
  • Fish and Wildlife Service, FWS-R8-ES-2011-0064 4500030114: designating of critical habitat for Astragalus lentiginosus var. coachellae (Coachella Valley milk-vetch) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act).
  • Fish and Wildlife Service, FWS-R8-ES-2012-0007 FXES11130900000C5-123-FF09E32000: announcing the 12-month findings on a petition to reclassify San Clemente Island lotus, and San Clemente Island paintbrush under the Endangered Species Act are warranted.
  • Small Business Administration, SBA-2011-011: amending its regulations governing small business contracting procedures.


Supreme Court

The court has concluded scheduled oral arguments for the October 2011 term. However, the court is still meeting to finalize decisions on cases it heard during the preceeding term. The court's next session of oral arguments is scheduled to begin on Monday, October 1, 2012.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Final Five: May 15, 2012



Featured Article:
Solving the Student Loan Debt Problem
Frank Fleming analyzes the student loan problem and explains one way that we can fix it.


Tonight's Crazy Story:
NYC Man Spends $60G-Plus on Cross-Country Custody Battle Over Pet Dog
A man has spent over $60,000 on a battle over custody...of his dog, Knuckles. Now he is turning to the internet to raise money to continue the battle.


Topic One: The $2 Billion Loss
By now, you have probably heard about the $2 billion in bad investments made by JP Morgan Chase. Obviously, this sounds bad--and it certainly is--but we must learn to look beyond the media's hype. JP Morgan Chase has over two trillion dollars in assets and has reported revenues in excess of $100 billion. This loss will reduce the bank's total assets by one-tenth of one percent. Investors and the board of directors should definitely have some tough questions for the executives at the heart of the trade, and the bank's financial statements will likely take a hit in the near future. However, this loss is unlikely to have any long-term impact for the bank.

However, the government is using this incident to promote bigger regulation, as if a government that is losing over $1 trillion each year knows how to best run one of the most successful banks. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said, "This failure of risk management is just a very powerful case for reform, for financial reform — reforms we still have ahead and the reforms we’ve already put in place. The test to reform is not whether you can prevent banks from making mistakes errors of judgment or risk management. That’s going to happen, it’s inevitable. The test of reform should be — do those mistakes put at risk the broader economy, financial system, or the taxpayer?"

John Ransom argues that if Dodd-Frank couldn't have prevented this, no other regulations could have either: "So what exactly has Obama’s signature Wall Street reform package, Dodd-Frank done? Supposedly it was passed to curb abuses in origination of consumer mortgages. But more importantly, it was passed to make sure that a bank failure did not involve the risk of failure in the entire financial system so that the government wouldn’t have to bail out the banks again. But as Obama himself admits, the Wall Street reform package that Democrats passed, and Obama signed, doesn’t do that. "This is the best, or one of the best managed banks. You could have a bank that isn't as strong, isn't as profitable making those same bets and we (the government) might have had to step in," Obama said according to Reuters. Even for a president, Obama’s a pretty shoddy economist- and that’s a pretty startling admission."


Time for a Laugh:
"This week investors will be able to buy shares of Facebook stock for the first time ever. It’s great — now you can lose all your money in the same place you lost all your time."
-Jimmy Fallon


Topic Two: A Bad Week for Unions
It is only Tuesday, and the unions are already having a bad week. First, the latest poll in the Wisconsin recall election shows Walker with a 52%-43% lead over Barrett. Even if the poll was off by the margin of error (2.81%), Barrett would need to win 85% of the undecided vote in order to win the election by the razor-thin margin of 50.06%-49.94%. While other polls have shown closer elections, they have also left no doubt that Walker is starting to pull away from his challenger.

Making matters worse, the DNC has decided that it is not going to invest big money into the Wisconsin recall, leaving the unions to finance the push. According to the Washington Post article: "According to the Wisconsin Dem, the party has asked the DNC for $500,000 to help with its massive field operation. While the DNC has made generally supportive noises, the money has not been forthcoming, the official says — with less than a month until the June 5th recall election."

Finally, on top of the bad news coming from Wisconsin, a federal judge ruled today that the National Labor Relation Board's "ambush election" rule was not properly approved by the board. This rule change would allow unions to secretly gather member signatures for a union election and then quickly force a vote on the unionization issue without giving the management ample time to make the case against unionization. When the final rule came up for the board's approval, one of the three members on the board did not vote. However, because there were two vacant seats on the board and another court ruling requires that at least three members cast a vote in order for the board to have a quorum, the court invalidated the rule today. However, it is almost certain to be reintroduced, and with Obama's recess appointments now seated on the board, the same outcome cannot happen again.


Debt Watch:
$15,676,996,273,860.82
( As of Monday, May 14, 2012 )

Change: +$2,813,506,387
Your share as a citizen: $50,136.21
Share per household: $137,233.42
Debt since Obama inauguration: $5,050,119,224,948


Topic Three: Obama's Teen Years
Since the media has decided to jump into coverage of Romney's teenage years with the "Hairgate" story, perhaps it is also time to take a look at Obama's teenage years. Jack Cashill discusses the connection to his mentor, Frank Marshall Davis: "I would guess that not one Obama voter out of one hundred could identify Davis by name, and I doubt if one media person out of a thousand has read his memoir, Livin' the Blues. This is unfortunate on any number of levels. For one, Davis's book captures the ebb and flow of 20th-century black American life as well as any ever written. For another, no one individual influenced the young Obama more than Davis has. This combination should have made Davis a staple of the multicultural canon and a pin-up in every reporter's cubicle, but it did neither. Like Boo Radley, Davis remains in the shadows for one reason: the media fear what the light would do to him. For all of Davis's gifts, and they are many, his lifelong flirtation with darkness makes him a little too creepy for his own display case in the Barack Obama presidential library. The light is beginning to shine."

WND explores his connections with Bill Ayers: "While Obama’s membership as an adult in the controversial Trinity United Church of Christ has received widespread media attention, almost nothing has been reported about his Sunday school attendance at First Unitarian, a far-left activist church that may have helped provide the president’s initial political education. The SDS connection to Obama’s boyhood church is instrumental. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama notoriously brushed off Ayers’ extremism as irrelevant since most of the Weathermen radical’s violent actions were carried out when Obama was a kid. “This is a guy [Ayers] who lives in my neighborhood … the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago – when I was 8 years old – somehow reflects on me and my values doesn’t make much sense,” Obama said in 2008. Obama, however, likely learned values during his Sunday school days at the First Unitarian in the early 1970s."


Tweet of the Day:
Andy Wendt (@AndyWendt): Thinking: It's a bit optimistic to trust someone who's lost $15 Trillion to regulate someone who's only lost $2 Billion. #tcot


Topic Four: Disability and Expiring Unemployment
With nearly 200,000 people becoming ineligible for unemployment benefits at the end of last week, now is a good time to take a look at the connection between the rise of the long-term unemployed and the rise of disability claims.

Mike Shedlock analyzes: "Another recent post on the popular Global Economic Trend Analysis blog (hat tip to Mish Shedlock) suggested the recent declines in the unemployment rate were due, in part, to the rapid increase in enrollment in disability because people on disability are no longer counted as unemployed."

"In his blog post Shedlock reported, “Since mid-2010, precisely the time million of U.S. citizens used up all of their 99 weeks of unemployment insurance, disability claims have risen by 2.2 million.”

"Mish's observation prompted us to dig a little deeper into the relationship between the number of people exhausting extended and emergency unemployment benefits compared to the increase in disability recipients. What we discovered was interesting, to say the least."

"From July 2010 to April 2012, the decline in the number of people collecting extended and emergency unemployment benefits was 2.46 million. Over the same time period the number of people collecting disability benefits increased by 2.20 million. We suspect the similarity in the inverse relationship is more than coincidence."


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."

-George Washington


Topic Five: Solving the Student Loan Problem
Frank Fleming analyzes the student loan problem: "Now, I don’t like to use the word “crisis” unless people are actually running around the streets on fire and screaming, but this whole student loan mess is becoming a bit of a problem. Student loans top both credit card and auto loan debt, and student loan debt is all held by an increasingly worthless group: college graduates. We give $100,000 loans to teenagers — people you normally wouldn’t trust with $100 loans — and then they party for four years while majoring in art history and graduate to join an Occupy Wall Street protest to complain about all the debt they have and can’t pay back. If the goal is to create annoying, useless hippies, I’m pretty sure it can be done for much cheaper. This student loan nonsense has to end."

"Oh, I know many will object to that. “Making these loans is investing in our children’s education.” But objectively, this has been an absolutely horrible investment lately. Taking the same money we’d put into a college education and instead placing it in a mutual fund would get you a much better return on your money. Plus that won’t eventually scream about the 1% and defecate on a cop car. I mean, just look at how few people can get jobs right out of college these days. Rats trained to pull levers to get food pellets have more useful skills than most of today’s college grads. And the cost of training rats doesn’t grow faster than inflation."

"How did we get here? In a sane world, if a teenager walked into a bank and said, “I would like a $50,000 loan to major in modern dance,” the bank manager would call security, who would then pummel the stupid kid, and everyone would end up smarter for it. But what happens instead is that Uncle Sam walks by and says, “I like his moxy. Give him the loan; I’ll guarantee it. And I’ll make sure he can’t ever get out of his stupid choice through bankruptcy.” So they give this giant amount of money to a dumb kid, and then the colleges are waiting outside, saying, “Hey! They’re giving huge loans to moron teenagers; we need to get some of that money!” So we have colleges preying on these gullible saps, increasing costs while their diplomas plummet in value in a complete mockery of our capitalistic system."


Tomorrow in History
May 16, 1843 - The first major wagon train sets out on the Oregon Trail, travelling to the Pacific Northwest from Elk Grove, Missouri.


Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening:
George W. Bush endorses Romney

Did Barrett's wife break rules?

Our first Gay-Female-Hispanic-Asian-Jewish President

Inflation and retail sales numbers remain flat

Liberals outnumber conservatives as commencement speakers by a 7-to-1 margin

Who are the real conservationists?

Small business owners struggle to survive regulatory state

Drone rules raise privacy concerns

Seventh graders find 900-year-old pot



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D.C. Daily: May 15, 2012

Correction: There was a mistake in yesterday's D.C. Daily, which said that the House would be in session yesterday. The House was actually not scheduled to return until today, and the measures listed for the House to consider yesterday will be under consideration when the House returns today.


Senate

Yesterday's Action:
During business yesterday, the Senate took the following actions:
  • Confirmed the nomination of George Levi Russell, III, to be District Judge for the District of Maryland. (Non-recorded vote)
  • Confirmed the nomination of John J. Tharp, Jr., to be District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois, by a vote of 86 yeas to 1 nay.
  • Considered H.R. 2072, the "Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012". An agreement was reached to adopt the motion to proceed to consideration and regarding consideration of amendments.


Today's Schedule
The Senate will meet today at 10:00 AM. The Senate is expected to begin consideration of H.R. 2072, the "Securing American Jobs Through Exports Act", with a series of votes on amendments and the final bill to begin as early as 2:15 PM.


House

Yesterday's Action:
The House was not in session yesterday.

Today's Schedule
The House will meet today at 12:00 PM. It is expected to consider eleven measures under suspension of the rules:
  • H.R. 365, the "National Blue Alert Act".
  • H.R. 1864, the "Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act".
  • H.R. 3534, the "Security in Bonding Act".
  • H.R. 4119, the "Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2012".
  • H.R. 2621, the "Chimney Rock National Monument Establishment Act".
  • H.R. 2745, to amend the Mesquite Lands Act of 1986.
  • H.R. 3874, the "Black Hills Cemetery Act".
  • H.R. 205, the "HEARTH Act of 2011".
  • H.R. 4240, the "Ambassador James R. Lilley and Congressman Stephen J. Solarz North Korea Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2012".
  • H. Res. 568, expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the importance of preventing the Government of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.
  • H.R. 4045, to modify the Department of Defense Program Guidance.


Executive Agencies

Proposed Rules:


Supreme Court

The court has concluded scheduled oral arguments for the October 2011 term. However, the court is still meeting to finalize decisions on cases it heard during the preceeding term. The court's next session of oral arguments is scheduled to begin on Monday, October 1, 2012.

Yesterday, the court issued the following decision:

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Final Five: May 14, 2012



Featured Article:
How Employer-Sponsored Insurance Drives Up Health Costs
Avik Roy explains how subsidies for employer-provided health insurance benefits impact health care costs.


Tonight's Crazy Story:
Herd of Deer Crashes Into Minnesota Mall
Police were called after six Whitetail deer became disoriented and crashed through windows at a local mall in Moorhead, Minnesota.


Topic One: Feeling Green
What you don't know about Solyndra: "After Solyndra defaulted and they knew Solyndra was in real financial trouble, Secretary Steven Chu’s Department of Energy (DOE) staff made a decision by December 10, 2010, to subordinate $75 million of taxpayer money so more private capital could be injected into Solyndra. Subordination means that outside private investors are given superiority over taxpayers in the event of bankruptcy. At that point, $440 million of the $535 million loan guarantee already had been pumped into the company. By law Secretary Chu wasn’t allowed to subordinate the taxpayers’ money. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 specifically states that the loan guarantee “shall be subject to the condition that the obligation is not subordinate to other financing.” It was the clear intention of Congress that taxpayers should be reimbursed first. For a company that had already been declared in default and had a collapsed business model because the Chinese were selling their solar panels for less, one might question the sanity of private investors who gambled on Solyndra in December of 2010."

Solyndra vs. Bain Capital: "In the past several months, the following green companies – which received state or federal funding guarantees – declared bankruptcy or laid off hundreds of workers to avoid bankruptcy: Ener1 (renewable energy storage battery technology components), Abound Solar Manufacturing (solar panels), Beacon Power (energy storage), Evergreen Solar (solar panels), SpectraWatt (silicon solar cells), and Solar Trust of America (1,000 megawatt solar plant). The sheer volume of this waste is astounding. ... Against this backdrop of waste, crony capitalism and failure arrives Mr. Obama’s opponent Mitt Romney, who represents something else entirely: private sector success at Bain Capital. Founded in 1984 by Mr. Romney and two partners, Bain has risked billions investing in hundreds of companies across America. No investment was guaranteed to succeed; many did not pan out. But here’s a very short list of Bain’s more famous successes: AMC Entertainment, Brookstone, Burger King, Burlington Coat Factory, Clear Channel Communications (the largest radio network in America), Domino’s Pizza, Dunkin’ Donuts, Guitar Center, Staples, Toys “R” Us, and Warner Music Group."


Time for a Laugh:
"I'm a little surprised how much everyone in show business wants a second term for Obama. An over-hyped sequel with a bloated budget — that's not the Hollywood I know."
-Craig Ferguson


Topic Two: Debt & Deficit Week
Happy "Debt and Deficit Week", everyone! Apparently, the Romney campaign and the RNC have chosen this week to highlight the exploding deficits and debt affecting our nation. The link above contains a clip of Obama at a 2008 campaign event saying that adding $4 trillion to the debt (in eight years) is unpatriotic. What he did not tell us was that he thinks the patriotic alternative was to add $5 trillion in four years.

Lincoln Brown on how the government really spends your money: "17 billion of your money went to either fraudulent or incorrect overpayments by Medicare. Everybody likes trains, right? You’d better because you also subsidized Amtrak to the tune of $1.4 billion. That comes out to around $55 per each ticket sold. ... Speaking of that, you also “invested” $328 million in research and production for energy efficient vehicles. Since it was your money that went to the companies, you should be getting your first dividend check any day now. Just keep watching that mail box. Being the good global citizens that you are, you also spent $1.5 billion on foreign aid to such places as China, Brazil, and Russia. However, Congress borrows trillions from those countries in order to fund the federal budget."


Debt Watch:
$15,674,182,767,474.36
( As of Friday, May 11, 2012 )

Change: -$506,409,784.19
Your share as a citizen: $50,127.21
Share per household: $137,208.79
Debt since Obama inauguration: $5,047,305,718,561.36


Topic Three: America's Future
The crushing debt trap: "The next 100 days promise to be the most important in a generation for Europe. Unless Germany can be persuaded by, primarily, the new French president, but also by the grim march of events to change tack fast, there is now a 50/50 chance that euro membership could be reduced to a cluster of small states around Germany. A series of uncontainable bank runs and financial collapses could not be handled by the current structures. The result would be a European depression from which Britain would not be immune. It is the one part of the world to which our exports are currently rising."

Europe matters because America is just behind on the same path: "After decades of gorging at the socialist, big government trough much of Europe is facing a financial crisis. The variety of overly generous entitlements and welfare programs combined with lackluster economic performance threatens to bankrupt the continent. Intoxicated by the nanny state's benevolence and unwilling to take the cure for their addiction, the Europeans seem to be rejecting austerity measures that might at least prolong – if not preserve– their continued existence. The similarities between the European experience and America are all too obvious, and a day of reckoning is rapidly approaching for the U.S. What kind of people are we really? And, what kind of nation will we leave the next generation – if a nation at all? The questions are real, profound, and unavoidable. And, they are really what the 2012 election is all about."


Tweet of the Day:
Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty): Obama's budget may be expensive, but at least his applause lines are cheap.


Topic Four: What Drives Up Health Costs?
Employer-subsidized health insurance coverage is partially to blame: "Stanford Nobelist Kenneth Arrow famously described third-party insurance as one of the principal flaws in America’s health-care market. That is to say, because patients don’t pay for their health care directly, they’re insensitive to the cost and value of that care. But the 155 million Americans with employer-sponsored insurance in fact have fourth-party insurance. Not only do they not directly pay for their care, but they don’t directly pay for their third-party insurance." "It is, therefore, no surprise that insurers cave in when hospitals demand higher prices. Workers have no idea what their employers spend on their health plans, and therefore get upset when their employers buy insurance that doesn’t provide access to brand-name hospitals. “Of critical importance [to increased hospital leverage] was employer resistance to choice-limiting networks with few providers,” write the Health Affairs authors." "If you bought insurance for yourself, you might be quite willing to accept health care from the “second-tier,” but reputable, hospital if it meant that you could save 30 percent on your premiums. But while you know how much you make each month in salary, you likely have no idea how much your employer pays each month for your health insurance."


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government."

-James Madison


Topic Five: Studying the Study on Studies
There are some things even the craziest person could not dream up: "The Pentagon was inundated with so many studies in 2010 that it commissioned a study to determine how much it cost to produce all those studies. Now the Government Accountability Office has reviewed the Pentagon’s study and concluded in a report this week that it’s a flop." You know it is insane when even ABC News has to preface it with the phrase, "This is not a joke."

Rick Moran analyzes for American Thinker: "I don't know whether to start crying or put my fist through a wall. A great nation has been brought to its knees because of thinking like this. If ever there was a metaphor for government ineptness, waste, stupidity, and arrogance, this is it."


Tomorrow in History
May 15, 1776 - The Virginia Convention instructs its delegates in the Continental Congress to propose a resolution of independence from Great Britain, paving the way for the writing of the Declaration of Independence.


Grab Bag - Interesting and Important Stories to Conclude Your Evening:
Unnecessary campaign distractions

Unborn children must be registered as separate guests...at the White House

Appeals court declares day of prayer unconstitutional

Facebook co-founder renounces US citizenship...

...possibly to avoid US taxes?

Rockland, Maine, says church not charitable enough

"Hunger Games" explains why socialism does not work

Biden tells students they are "spreading socialism"

Dozens of bodies dumped on Mexican highway

Reagan prophecy almost comes true: Judge reduces ten commandments to six

The chameleon nation

Supreme Court turns away Puerto Rico representation suit



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D.C. Daily: May 14, 2012

Senate

Friday's Action:
The Senate was not in session on Friday.

Today's Schedule
The Senate will meet today at 2:00 PM. The Senate is expected to first consider the nominations of George Levi Russell III to be District Judge for the District of Maryland and John J. Tharp, Jr. to be District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois. A vote on confirmation is expected to occur at approximately 5:30 PM. Following the vote, the Senate will vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to consideration of H.R. 2072, the "Securing American Jobs Through Exports Act".


House

Friday's Action:
The House met Friday in a pro forma session.

Today's Schedule
The House will meet today at 12:00 PM. It is expected to consider eleven measures under suspension of the rules:
  • H.R. 365, the "National Blue Alert Act".
  • H.R. 1864, the "Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act".
  • H.R. 3534, the "Security in Bonding Act".
  • H.R. 4119, the "Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2012".
  • H.R. 2621, the "Chimney Rock National Monument Establishment Act".
  • H.R. 2745, to amend the Mesquite Lands Act of 1986.
  • H.R. 3874, the "Black Hills Cemetery Act".
  • H.R. 205, the "HEARTH Act of 2011".
  • H.R. 4240, the "Ambassador James R. Lilley and Congressman Stephen J. Solarz North Korea Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2012".
  • H. Res. 568, expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the importance of preventing the Government of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.
  • H.R. 4045, to modify the Department of Defense Program Guidance.


Executive Agencies

Proposed Rules:


Presidential and Other Documents:


Supreme Court

The court has concluded scheduled oral arguments for the October 2011 term. However, the court is still meeting to finalize decisions on cases it heard during the preceeding term. The court's next session of oral arguments is scheduled to begin on Monday, October 1, 2012.