Yep... another stand-alone newsbite.
Yep... via today's WSJ:
Did you know that annual spending by the federal government now exceeds the 2007 level by about $1 trillion?
The result is an unprecedented string of federal budget deficits, $1.4 trillion in 2009, $1.3 trillion in 2010, $1.3 trillion in 2011, and another $1.2 trillion on the way this year.
AND, NO... IT'S NOT JUST THAT TAX REVENUES HAVE DECLINED... (READ ON!)
With a slow economy, revenues are little changed.
The amount of debt is one thing. The burden of interest payments is another.
The Treasury now has a preponderance of its debt issued in very short-term durations, to take advantage of low short-term interest rates. It must frequently refinance this debt which, when added to the current deficit, means Treasury must raise $4 trillion this year alone. So the debt burden will explode when interest rates go up.
WE KNOW THIS... AND YET...
ONE MORE TIME... EXPLAIN TO ME HOW VIOLENCE ISN'T THE ONLY ANSWER?
Did you know that during the last fiscal year around three-quarters of the deficit was financed by the Federal Reserve?
Foreign governments accounted for most of the rest, as American citizens' and institutions' purchases and sales netted to about zero.
The Fed now owns one in six dollars of the national debt, the largest percentage of GDP in history, larger than even at the end of World War II.
DOES... THIS... MAKE... SENSE... TO... YOU...?!?!
Did you know that the Federal Reserve is now giving money to banks, effectively circumventing the appropriations process?
AS YOURS TRULY HAS BEEN NOTING ALL ALONG... (*SIGH*)
To pay for "quantitative easing"...the Fed "credits" banks with electronic deposits that are reserve balances at the Federal Reserve. These reserve balances have exploded to $1.5 trillion from $8 billion in September 2008.
AGAIN.... (*PAUSE*)... DOES... THIS... SOUND... REASONABLE... TO... YOU...?!?!
The Fed now pays 0.25% interest on reserves it holds. So the Fed is paying the banks almost $4 billion a year.
If interest rates rise to 2%, and the Federal Reserve raises the rate it pays on reserves correspondingly, the payment rises to $30 billion a year.
(*BLOOD PRESSURE SHOOTING THROUGH THE ROOF*)
Would Congress appropriate that kind of money to give - not lend - to banks?
AS NOTED THE OTHER DAY, A SMALL GROUP OF REPUBLICAN HOUSE MEMBERS ARE TRYING TO STOP THIS... BUT SO FAR THEY'RE NOT GETTING MUCH TRACTION.
The Fed has effectively replaced the entire interbank money market and large segments of other markets with itself. It determines the interest rate by declaring what it will pay on reserve balances at the Fed without regard for the supply and demand of money. By replacing large decentralized markets with centralized control by a few government officials, the Fed is distorting incentives and interfering with price discovery with unintended economic consequences.
IN ENGLISH: THE GOVERNMENT - VIA THE FED - IS REPLACING THE PRIVATE ECONOMY; WE'RE MOVING STEADILY CLOSER TO A TRUE COMMAND AND CONTROL ECONOMY ALONG THE LINES OF THE OLD SOVIET MODEL OR PERHAPS THE FASCIST CHINESE MODEL OR AT BEST THE ARGENTINE MODEL.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is also being financed by the Federal Reserve rather than by appropriations, severing the checks and balances needed for good government. And the Fed's Operation Twist, buying long-term and selling short-term debt, is substituting for the Treasury's traditional debt management.
FOLKS... NOTE... THE AUTHORS OF THIS PIECE...
GEORGE P. SHULTZ, MICHAEL J. BOSKIN, JOHN F. COGAN, ALLAN H. MELTZER AND JOHN B. TAYLOR - SENIOR FELLOWS AT STANFORD UNIVERSITY'S HOOVER INSTITUTION WHO HAVE SERVED IN VARIOUS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT POSITIONS INCLUDING THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT, OMB, AND ON THE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISORS.
FOLKS... ALL OF THIS THAT IS HAPPENING... ALL THAT I'VE BEEN RANTING AND RAVING ABOUT FOR YEARS NOW... IT'S REAL... IT'S ALL REAL... THESE AREN'T "RIGHT WING TALKING POINTS" FOR PARTISAN CONSUMPTION DURING A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION YEAR. THIS IS THE REALITY WE'RE FACING!
The government has to get the money to finance its spending by taxing or borrowing.
CLEARLY IT'S BORROWING. WHAT ABOUT THE TAXING END?
While it might be tempting to conclude that we can just tax upper-income people, did you know that the U.S. income tax system is already very progressive? The top 1% pay 37% of all income taxes and 50% pay none.
WELL, YES... I KNEW THIS... I'M GUESSING ALL MY REGULARS HERE KNOW THIS.
HEY... FOLKS... MY VIEWS ON HOW WE SHOULD REFORM THE TAX CODE ARE WELL KNOWN. HERE'S THE THING, THOUGH... WHILE NEITHER PARTY ESTABLISHMENT HAS MUCH INTEREST IN REFORMING THE TAX CODE, AT LEAST CERTAIN REPUBLICANS SHARE MY VIEWS. (THINK FORBES... THINK DUPONT... THINK TEA PARTY REPUBLICANS AS SEPARATE FROM CORPORATE REPUBLICANS...)
HERE'S THE DIRTY LITTLE NON-SECRET: OBAMA, PELOSI, AND REID HAD WHAT AMOUNTS TO COMPLETE CONTROL OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FROM JANUARY 2009 THROUGH JANUARY 2011. THEY DIDN'T EVEN ATTEMPT TO ADDRESS THE TAX CODE. THEY DIDN'T EVEN ATTEMPT TO DO AWAY WITH PERHAPS THE MOST EGREGIOUS LOOPHOLE IN THE ENTIRE FEDERAL INCOME TAX CODE - THE HEDGE FUND MANAGERS' LOOPHOLE - aka: CARRIED INTEREST!
FOLKS... THESE BERNANKE POLICIES... THESE GIVEAWAYS TO THE BANKS... THESE CONTINUING BAILOUTS TO CRONY CAPITALISTS... OBAMA IS BEHIND THEM! THIS ISN'T BERNANKE ON HIS OWN; THIS IS BERNANKE IN CLOSE COOPERATION WITH TIM "THE TAX CHEAT" GEITHNER - OBAMA'S SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY!
FOLKS... HATE ROMNEY ALL YOU WANT... BUT AT LEAST HE WANTS TO GET RID OF BERNANKE! ROMNEY AND RYAN HAVE BEEN SLAMMING BERNANKE AND QE3! OBAMA AND THE DEMS... THEY SUPPORT IT!
Did you know that funding for federal regulatory agencies and their employment levels are at all-time highs?
YES... YES, I DID!
In 2010, the number of Federal Register pages devoted to proposed new rules broke its previous all-time record for the second consecutive year. It's up by 25% compared to 2008.
FOLKS... UP 25%...
DOES... THIS... SOUND... REASONABLE...?!?!
President Obama's budget will raise the federal debt-to-GDP ratio to 80.4% in two years, about double its level at the end of 2008, and a larger percentage point increase than Greece from the end of 2008 to the beginning of this year.
DOES... THIS... SOUND... REASONABLE...?!?!
The Fed's policy of keeping interest rates so low for so long means that the real rate (after accounting for inflation) is negative, thereby cutting significantly the real income of those who have saved for retirement over their lifetime.
NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT INFLATION IS DELIBERATELY UNDERSTATED! NOT TO MENTION THAT IN ADDITION TO CUTTING SIGNIFICANTLY THE REAL INCOME OF THOSE WHO HAVE SAVED FOR RETIREMENT OVER A LIFETIME, THE DELIBERATELY INFLATIONARY POLICIES OF THE FED ARE STEADILY IMPACTING AMERICAN LIFESTYLES! FOLKS... BOAR'S HEAD ROAST BEEF IS $12.99 LB.! GAS - REGULAR - IS UP ABOVE $4-gal. IN MUCH OF THE COUNTRY! MY HEALTH INSURANCE PREMIUMS WENT UP 17% THIS YEAR!
The issue is not merely how much we spend, but how wisely, how effectively. Did you know that the federal government had 46 separate job-training programs? Yet a 47th for green jobs was added, and the success rate was so poor that the Department of Labor inspector general said it should be shut down.
(*GNASHING MY TEETH*)
This is all bad enough, but where we are headed is even worse.
Under President Obama's proposed budget...the debt expands rapidly to $18.8 trillion from $10.8 trillion in 10 years.
The interest costs alone will reach $743 billion a year, more than we are currently spending on Social Security, Medicare or national defense, even under the benign assumption of no inflationary increase or adverse bond-market reaction.
For every one percentage point increase in interest rates above this projection, interest costs rise by more than $100 billion, more than current spending on veterans' health and the National Institutes of Health combined.
ALLOW ME TO NOTE THAT - THANKFULLY - THIS PROPOSED OBAMA BUDGET DIDN'T GET ONE VOTE IN CONGRESS... NOT ONE REPUBLICAN VOTE... NOT ONE DEMOCRAT VOTE. BUT HERE'S THE THING... THIS WAS OBAMA'S PROPOSAL! THIS WAS THE BUDGET HE SENT TO CONGRESS! WHAT DOES THIS TELL YOU ABOUT HIS MINDSET...?!?!
Worse, the unfunded long-run liabilities of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid add tens of trillions of dollars to the debt, mostly due to rising real benefits per beneficiary. Before long, all the government will be able to do is finance the debt and pay pension and medical benefits. This spending will crowd out all other necessary government functions.
FOLKS... WE MUST CHANGE COURSE...