Friday, May 25, 2012

Barker's (Pre-Vacation) Newsbites: Friday, May 25, 2012

Start spreadin' the news... I'm headin' down south...

Yep... it's that time of year! Charleston, S.C., here I (we) come... via Richmond, V.A.!

Come tomorrow (Saturday) 5:00 a.m. we'll be on the road!

You know what this means, right, folks? Today's gonna be the last "formal" posting till probably June 4th.

Ahh... Charleston! Kiawah! St. John's Island! Folly Beach! Red's on Shem Creek! Hopefully even a day in neighboring Savannah, G.A.!

Pat... Vicki... Sean... Uncle Bill is a'comin'!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Barker's Newsbites: Thursday, May 24, 2012

Just in case my ol' buddy Tim drops by, today's newsbites theme song honors... high school.

The actual newsbites are within the Comments space, Tim; browse and enjoy!

Oh...! Almost forgot...! Today's Kim's birthday...! My kid is a quarter century old today...!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Barker's Newsbites: Wednesday, May 23, 2012

OK... I'm in a much better mood today!

Saw Glenn Friggin' Campbell at the Bergan PAC last night! Awesome show! Very emotional. (This is Mr. Campbell's farewell tour; tragically, he's suffering from Alzheimer's.)

God bless ya, Glenn!

While this isn't the video from last night's performance, it reflects part of last night's show. Glenn's kids are up there with him and you can just see how much this means to them... and how much it means to him.

Again... this isn't the review of last night's performance, but it reflects what Mary and I experienced.

Oh... and last but not least... a shout-out to my friends at Pixto y Tapas of Englewood Cliffs, N.J.!

These guys are the best!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Barker's Newsbites: Tuesday, May 22,2012

I was in such a good mood until my lovely bride called me - waking me up - to tell me that she had destroyed one of the expensive, low-profile, high-performance tires on Sammie (our Sonata turbo).

Yep. She hit a pothole. Got the car to the shop without further damage. (Supposedly...)

I'm calm. (Well... calmer...)

I mean... it could have happened to anyone - right? (But of course it didn't...)

It's only money - right?! (Of course now I'll be worrying about the alignment being off...)


Monday, May 21, 2012

Barker's Newsbites: Monday, May 21, 2012

How's this for a blast from the past?!

(Oh... and folks... sometimes a cigar is just a cigar; no "hidden meaning" in posting this one!)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

That Fake, Phony, Fraud Nan Hayworth and Her Fellow Phonies

The mainstream media likes to say that the freshman class is the most uncompromising group of fiscal conservatives in history... but just how Tea Party are they?

In the 2010 election, 87 freshmen House Republicans came to Washington pledging fealty to the Tea Party movement and the ideals of limited government and economic freedom.

Did all 87 freshmen always vote to cut spending and limit the size of government, or did some of them vote like the big-spending R.I.N.O.s of the past?

This study was compiled from the Club for Growth's Congressional Scorecard, which evaluates lawmakers based upon their commitment to limited government and pro-growth policies. What we found was that while some freshmen have lived up to the promises they made to the tea party movement, dozens of them are big-spenders and are no different from many of the veteran Republicans they serve with.

While the rhetoric of the freshmen may be loud, the Club for Growth strives to hold lawmakers accountable by examining how they actually voted once they got to Congress. In many cases, the rhetoric of the so-called “Tea Party” freshmen simply didn’t match their records.




Amash, Justin (MI-3) 100%
Brooks, Mo (AL-5) 86%
Buerkle, Ann Marie (NY-25) 92%
Chabot, Steven (OH-1) 93%
Duncan, Jeff (SC-3) 97%
Fleischmann, Chuck (TN-3) 86%
Gowdy, Trey (SC-4) 97%
Griffith, H. Morgan (VA-9) 83%
Harris, Andy (MD-1) 95%
Huelskamp, Tim (KS-1) 100%
Huizenga, Bill (MI-2) 90%
Labrador, Raul (ID-1) 100%
Landry, Jeff (LA-3) 94%
Mulvaney, Mick (SC-5) 99%
Pompeo, Mike (KS-4) 86%
Quayle, Ben (AZ-3) 98%
Ribble, Reid (WI-8) 90%
Rigell, E. Scott (VA-2) 82%
Rokita, Todd (IN-4) 88%
Ross, Dennis (FL-12) 96%
Schweikert, David (AZ-5) 93%
Scott, Austin (GA-8) 85%
Scott, Tim (SC-1) 92%
Southerland, Steve (FL-2) 94%
Stutzman, Marlin (IN-3) 99%
Walberg, Timothy (MI-7) 86%
Walsh, Joe (IL-8) 99%
Woodall, Rob (GA-7) 84%

* Hmm... 28 OUT OF 87.


Barletta, Lou (PA-11) 47%
Bass, Charles (NH-2) 48%
Berg, Rick (ND-AL) 54%
Bucshon, Larry (IN-8) 64%
Canseco, Francisco (TX-23) 64%
Cravaack, Chip (MN-8) 57%
Crawford, Rick (AR-1) 53%
Denham, Jeff (CA-19) 64%
Dold, Bob (IL-10) 42%
Duffy, Sean (WI-7) 58%
Ellmers, Renee (NC-2) 59%
Fitzpatrick, Michael (PA-8) 43%
Gibbs, Bob (OH-18) 64%
Gibson, Chris (NY-20) 44%
Gosar, Paul (AZ-1) 63%
Grimm, Michael (NY-13) 46%
Hanna, Richard (NY-24) 44%
Heck, Joe (NV-3) 50%
Herrera Beutler, Jaime (WA-3) 53%
Kelly, Mike (PA-3) 54%
Kinzinger, Adam (IL-11) 56%
Marino, Thomas (PA-10) 60%
McKinley, David (WV-1) 37%
Meehan, Patrick (PA-7) 42%
Noem, Kristi (SD-AL) 60%
Palazzo, Steven (MS-4) 61%
Rivera, David (FL-25) 47%
Roby, Martha (AL-2) 58%
Runyan, Jon (NJ-3) 45%
Schilling, Robert (IL-17) 54%
Stivers, Steve (OH-15) 45%
West, Allen (FL-22) 64%
Womack, Steve (AR-3) 52%

* 33 OUT OF 87...


Weekend Newsbites: Sat. & Sun., May 19 & 20, 2012

Lookin' forward to little Megan's First Holy Communion... party.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Yo, Chip! Yo, J.H.! Here's the Deal...

I'm presently reading "Coming Apart: The State of White America," by Charles Murray.

It's a terrifying read.

I'm only up to page 216, but let me assure you both... things are far worse than you realize.

You both need to read this book.

Indeed, all of my regulars here at Usually Right should avail themselves of the link provided above and order the book right now!

(Yes... this means you, M.S.; you too C.V.!)

I know that I have a tendency to piss off even my good friends with my... er... "know it all" attitude.


It's not that I'm necessarily smarter than my readers...

(I'm certainly not in the same IQ league with M.S. or M.D. - and note the only "JD" connected with my name is the bottle of "Gentleman Jack" on my bar!)

...but one thing I have over my smarter, more professionally successful friends is that I read more news and social science non-fiction than anyone I can think of. 

And... (and here's the biggie)... in addition to all this reading, recall that all this reading is being done within the context of my formal education - literally years spent studying history, political science, and international relations.

(In other words, folks... my ability to "connect the dots" is not based upon just intelligence or just following the news or just reading the works of authors such as Charles Murray... it's based upon a lifetime's exposure to - and study of - key facts and data which provide me the raw material out of which to make some sense out of what the heck is happening!)

So... bottom line... you wanna disagree with me when I provide analysis of where this country is heading... don't just spout off - fight facts with facts; reason with reason.

In short... up your game with regard to what you're reading, people!

You guys do understand that what you see as newsbites and stand-alone posts here at Usually Right represents but a sliver of the information I'm soaking up daily - right...?

Again... just to be clear... there are plenty of smarter guys and gals than me - and I'm talking about "knowledgeable" (learned) in the topics this blog concentrates upon dealing with. Thing is... most of these guys and gals are professors at major universities.

There are also plenty of guys and gals with far superior "real world" professional experience than I. But how's Ben Bernanke's "expertise" working out for the good ol' U.S.A.? How'bout Harry Reid's "experience?"

You folks get my point...

I know the gloom and doom can get tiring at times... but if you get depressed... just think of how I feel!

Anyway... rant off.

Chip... J.H.... sorry if I came off as "short" or "overly aggressive" during our email exchanges of earlier today - that was not my intention.

Again... (and I'm being as honest and forthright as it's possible to be)... this Murray book has me shaken up.

Our Kids and Grandkids Are So Screwed...

Among the more controversial chapters in "Suicide of a Superpower," my book published last fall, was the one titled, "The End of White America."
It dealt with the demographic decline of the white majority and what it portends for education, the U.S. economy, politics and national unity.
That book and chapter proved the proximate cause of my departure from MSNBC, where the network president declared that subjects such as these are inappropriate for "the national dialogue."
Apparently, the mainstream media are reassessing that, for in rare unanimity The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today all led yesterday with the same story!
"Whites Account for Under Half of Births in U.S.," blared the Times headline. "Minority Babies Majority in U.S.," echoed the Post. "Minorities Are Now a Majority of Births," proclaimed USA Today.
The USA Today story continued, "The nation's growing diversity has huge implications for education, economics and politics."
Huge is right.
Not only are whites declining as a share of the population, they are declining in real terms. Between 2010 and 2011, the number of births to white women fell 10%. The median age of white Americans, now 43 and rising, means that half of all white women have moved past the age that they are ever likely to bear more children.
White America is a dying tribe.
What do these statistics mean politically?

Almost surely the end of the Republican Party as a national governing institution.
Republicans now depend on the vanishing majority for fully 90% of their votes in presidential elections, while the Democratic Party wins 60% to 70% of the Asian and Hispanic vote and 90% to 95% of the black vote.
The Democratic base is growing inexorably, while the Republican base is shriveling.
Already, California, Illinois and New York are lost. The GOP has not carried any of the three in five presidential elections. When Texas - where whites are a minority and a declining share of the population - tips, how does the GOP put together an electoral majority?
Western states like Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona, which Republican nominees like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan swept almost every time they ran, are becoming problematic for the party.
Thus the GOP refrain: We must work harder to win over Hispanics.
Undeniably true. But how does the GOP appeal to them?
Fifty-three percent of all Hispanic children are born out of wedlock, with no father in the home and many of the moms themselves high school dropouts. Most Hispanic kids thus start school far behind. In tests of fourth-, eighth- and 12th-graders, their scores are closer to those of African-American kids than whites and Asians. Their dropout rate matches that of black kids. Absent affirmative action, not only are America's colleges and universities but also her professions are going to look far more Asian and white than the national population.
Not a formula for social peace.
Comes the reply: We must spend more to close the racial gap in test scores.

Yet, according to The Washington Examiner, in the District of Columbia, the community where we have spent perhaps the most per capita to close the racial gap in test scores, the racial gap is by far the largest in the nation.
Not only do we seem not to know how to close it after four decades of plunging trillions into public schools, the country is tapped out. We are in the fourth consecutive year of trillion-dollar deficits, and our largest and richest state, California, just discovered its deficit has exploded to $16 billion.
And why should Hispanics vote Republican? The majority of Hispanics are among that half of the population that pays no income tax. Why should they vote for a party whose major plank is that it will cut income taxes?
Hispanics benefit disproportionately from government programs. Government puts their kids in Head Start before pubic school and provides them with Pell grants and student loans after public school. From kindergarten through 12th grade, government educates their kids for free. Government provides them with free or subsidized health care through Medicaid and clinics. Government provides their families with public housing and rent supplements. Government provides the food stamps that feed the family. Government provides them with an annual earned income tax credit, a check just for working. Government provides all these things, and what are Republicans going to do? They promise to cut government.
Again, why should Hispanics vote Republican?
Establishment Republicans say the party should support amnesty for illegal aliens. Yet this would make millions more eligible for federal programs in a country sinking in debt and mean millions more Hispanics going to the polls, and millions more coming to America in anticipation of the next amnesty.
How would that help the GOP?
By endlessly expanding Great Society programs, by lopping taxpayers off tax rolls, by supporting open borders and endless immigration from the Third World, the Republican Party, out of sheer nobility of character, has probably ensured its impending departure from history.

Barker's Newsbites: Friday, May 18, 2012

Ya know, it sucks that Donna Summer is dead.

Breast cancer.

Sixty-three years old.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

From the Weblog of Mark Cuban

Yeah... that Mark Cuban!

This is what I see when I think about higher education in this country today:

Remember the housing meltdown? (Tough to forget isn’t it?) The formula for the housing boom and bust was simple - a lot of easy money being lent to buyers who couldn’t afford the money they were borrowing.

That money was then spent on homes with the expectation that the price of the home would go up and it could easily be flipped or refinanced at a profit.

Who cares if you couldn’t afford the loan? As long as prices kept on going up, everyone was happy! And prices kept on going up. And as long as pricing kept on going up real estate agents kept on selling homes and finding money for buyers.

Until the easy money stopped. 

When easy money stopped, buyers couldn’t sell. They couldn’t refinance. First sales slowed, then prices started falling and then the housing bubble burst. Housing prices crashed.

We know the rest of the story. We are still mired in the consequences.

Can someone please explain to me how what is happening in higher education is any different?

It's far too easy to borrow money for college. Did you know that there is more outstanding debt for student loans than there is for Auto Loans or Credit Card loans? That's right. The 37 million holders of student loans shoulder more debt than the 175 million or so credit card owners in this country and their debts equal more than the all of the debt on cars in this country. While median student loan debt is "only" approximately $12,500, average student loan debt is around $23,000 - and growing! We're talking more than one trillion in student loan debt!

We freak out about the trillions of dollars in debt our country faces. What about the TRILLION DOLLAR PLUS in debt college kids are facing...?!

The point of the numbers is that getting a student loan is easy. Too easy.

You know who knows that the money is easy better than anyone? The schools that are taking that student loan money in tuition. Which is exactly why they have no problems raising costs for tuition each and every year!

Why wouldn’t they act in the same manner as real estate agents acted during the housing bubble? Raise prices and easy money will be there to pay your price. Good business, right? Until it's not.

The President has introduced programs that try to reward schools that don’t raise tuition and costs. That won’t work.  Right now there is a never ending supply of buyers. Students who can’t get jobs or who think that by going to college they enhance their chances to get a job will keep borrowing and will keep spending. It's the collegiate equivalent of flipping houses. You borrow as much money as you can for the best school you can get into and afford and then you “flip” that education for the great job you are going to get when you graduate.

Except those great jobs aren’t always there.

I don’t think any college kid took on tens of thousands of dollars in debt with the expectation they would get a job working for minimum wage against tips.

At some point potential students will realize that they can’t flip their student loans for a job in 4 years. In fact they will realize that college may be the option for fun and entertainment, but not for education.

Prices for traditional higher education will skyrocket so high over the next several years that potential students will start to make their way to non-accredited institutions.

While traditional colleges and universities are building new buildings for Liberal Arts and Business schools, new high-end, non-accredited, BRANDED schools are popping up that will offer better educations for far, far less and create better job opportunities.

As an employer I want the best prepared and qualified employees. I could care less if the source of their education was accredited by a bunch of old men and women who think they know what is best for the world. I want people who can do the job. I want the best and brightest, not a piece of paper.

Competition in the form of new  providers of education is starting to appear, particularly in the tech world.

Online and physical classrooms are popping up everywhere.

This is in respond to needs in the market.

New schools and training institutes work with local businesses to tailor the education they provide students to corporate needs, in essence assuring those who excel in these programs they will get a job. And all of this for far, far less money than traditional schooling demands.

The number of people being prepared for the work world in these new educational environments is exploding.

You would think traditional university educators would take notice, but beyond allowing some of their classes to be offered online they haven’t. And they won’t.

It's the ultimate "Innovators Dilemma." They don’t believe they should change and they won’t - until it's too late. Just as CEOs push for that one more penny per share in EPS, University Presidents care about nothing but getting their endowments and revenues up. If that means saddling an entire generation with obscene amounts of school debt so be it. This is how they get their long term contracts and raises.

It’s just a matter o time until we see the same meltdown in traditional college education. Like the real estate industry, prices will rise until the market revolts. Then it will be too late. Students will stop taking out the loans traditional universities expect them to and when they do tuition will come down. When prices come down universities will have to cut costs beyond what they are able to.

Traditional colleges and universities shoulder many legacy costs. From forced retention of tenured professors to construction projects started and committed to  - not to mention their R&D commitments - they will be saddled with legacy costs and debt in much the same way the newspaper industry was. This will lead to a deleveraging and destabilization of the university system as we know it. And in my opinion... it can’t happen fast enough!

The biggest problem the economy has is the enormous student debt new college grads and those leaving college find themselves burdened with.

In the past leaving college meant getting a job and getting a used car and/or an apartment with some friends.

Yes there was student debt, but it wasn’t anywhere near your car payment!

You could still afford the car and the apartment!

Now it's the exact opposite.

Today, the minute you graduate from college you face the challenge of paying down debt - with interest - against a college education whose value is immediately “underwater.”

Now when you leave school you move back home. You take public transportation or borrow your parents car. The only thing new you buy is the cheap work outfit you need. Savings? Fagetaboutit! It’s not happening! Your entire focus is on hitting your monthly nut for school loans, credit card payments, and maybe a car and/or apartment!

The crush of college debt has taken an entire generation of graduates - current and future - out of the economy! (Which is exactly why the economy hasn’t grown and won’t grow beyond microscopic growth rates we have seen over the past several years.)

So... until we get the meltdown in college education... don’t expect much improvement in the economy. Who gets elected won’t make a dang bit of difference.


Mark apparently writes this stuff all by his lonesome... no professional touch-up... no spell-check either!

I took it upon myself to "tidy up" the piece a bit. The link to the unedited posting is up top so feel free to compare and contrast just to assure yourselves I haven't monkeyed with Cuban's intent.

Barker's Newsbites: Wednesday, May 16, 2012

As long as there's a U.S.A. don't let his memory die...

Yep. That's the lyric. Ponder that! Connect the dots!

If - prior to exposing you to the above links - I had asked you who Jim Bridges was... could you have answered me correctly?

Could your spouse? Could your son or daughter assuming he or she has reached high school age or beyond?

I'm pretty sure I learned about Jim Bridges and the mountain men in school... perhaps during elementary school; definitely by the time I had finished middle school.

Thing is... it wasn't via a few paragraphs in a primary school text where I learned who Jim Bridges and his compatriots were, it was via reading "youth fiction" - adventure novels for boys - which back then were still found in school libraries and to a lesser extent, public libraries.

The books I read as a youth... some had copyrights from the teens... as in 1913-1919.

More common were the books I read copyrighted in the 1950's... and 1960's... but also also 1940's and 1930's. Historical fiction... biographies... science fiction... fantasy... historical non-fiction... all of this is what I was raised upon... what I raised myself upon.

What did you read as a child?

More important... what are your children reading today?

My friends, a major reason why we're seeing America crumble around us is that many of us don't know what America truly is... what it is truly supposed to be.

It's not just that traditional American values are in retreat; it's far worse than that! No... it's that large segments of the population don't even know what traditional values are!

Wise up, folks. Start reading. Buy your kids books instead of video games. Take charge of re-educating those you have access to in what it means to be an American.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Barker's Newsbites: Monday, May 14, 2012

Another fine "lifestyle" song!

Relaxing, huh?!

Yep... I was made for relaxing... and partying!

Yes, indeed... a man of contradictions is your beloved bloghost Bill.

You guys know what today is, right? Today marks the 50th anniversary of... 



Blessings upon faithful reader (and best friend!) Carl David VanDemark who gifted me with a bottle of Dom Perignon vintage 2002!

(Folks... believe me... he'll be grinning ear to ear when he reads this!)

Anyway... enjoy the day, folks - I sure plan to!

Friday, May 11, 2012

What Would Be So Wrong About Just a Few Targeted Assassinations?

From the Desk of Timothy P. Carney
GOP Joins Obama in Embracing Crony Capitalism

Here's the state of Republican economic policy today: A $35 billion federal loan-guarantee program for wind and solar companies is scandalous "crony capitalism" that must be shut down and investigated - but a $100 billion federal loan guarantee program mostly benefiting Boeing and Caterpillar should be expanded by 40%.

The bad subsidies, according to Republican teaching, are President Obama's green energy initiatives, like the stimulus-created loan guarantee program that funded failed solar panel maker Solyndra. The "good subsidies," for Republicans, come from a federal agency called the Export-Import Bank, whose loans and loan guarantees subsidize U.S. exporters, with two-thirds of the loan guarantee dollars backing Boeing sales.

On Wednesday, a large majority of Republican congressmen voted to reauthorize Ex-Im (whose current charter expires later this month) and increase to $140 billion the legal limit on taxpayer exposure from Ex-Im financing.

The Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, Business Roundtable, American Petroleum Institute and most big businesses have lobbied to reauthorize the agency and raise the lending cap to $140 billion.

House Republicans sided with their business base over their conservative base - 147 House Republicans, including the entire leadership, voted for re-authorization, compared with 93 nays.

And, yes, folks... my own R.I.N.O Congresswoman - Nan Hayworth - representing New York's 19th Congressional District, voted with every single Democrat and 146 of her R.I.N.O. peers to stab conservatives in the back and further weaken America.

This year's 93 nays represent 38% of the House GOP caucus.

Notably, Paul Ryan voted against Ex-Im, and freshman Rep. Mike Pompeo, who has Boeing manufacturing in his district, also voted nay.

[Clearly, though, current] GOP leadership still isn't ready to wage war on corporate ...

By supporting Ex-Im, instead of trying to kill it, Republicans aren't merely calling into question the concept of free enterprise, they are passing up the chance to make President Obama's corporate welfare a central theme of the 2012 election.

The stage had been set, economically and politically, for the GOP to wage a free-market populist campaign against Obama.

Here are the relevant economics: U.S. corporations are sitting on record cash stockpiles and corporate profits are climbing. Meanwhile, median wages are stagnant. In other words, Big Business is getting rich, while regular Americans are getting poor. ... Americans increasingly feel the game is rigged, and that Washington is serving the special interests instead of the public interest.

Obama's closeness to subsidized industrial giants General Electric and Boeing (the CEOs of both of these companies are top advisers) and his ties to solar and wind companies (the top investor in Solyndra was an Obama campaign bundler) undermines Obama's anti-special-interest rhetoric and highlights how government intervention ends up benefiting the biggest and most connected companies.

Congressional Republicans have launched investigations into the Solyndra deal.

"Crony capitalism" has become a common phrase on the GOP campaign trail.

[Presumptive GOP Presidential candidate Mitt] Romney, after winning the Pennsylvania primary last month, pledged - through restoring free markets - to "stop the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends' businesses."

Republicans have hinted that they will run against the collusion of Big Business and Big Government.

So... Ex-Im, a naked example of corporate welfare mostly benefiting one giant corporation... presented a great opportunity for a Republican fight.

As President Obama campaigned hard for re-authorization of Ex-Im, free-market institutions in Washington called for abolition.

The Club for Growth announced it would include the re-authorization vote on its scorecard.

The Heritage Foundation followed suit.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page has twice opined against re-authorization.

The Cato Institute wants it abolished.

Against Government Waste this week joined the abolish-Ex-Im army.

So the Right is mostly agreed: Government shouldn't be running a subsidy bank.

But the business lobby is almost unanimously agreed in the opposite direction.

Currently, taxpayers are exposed to nearly $100 billion in Ex-Im loans and loan guarantees.

Barker's Newsbites: Friday, May 11, 2012

No newsbites yesterday... but to make up for that lapse here's a song you may have never heard till now!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Barker's Newsbites: Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Spendin' what little bit of money we had, on single malt scotch and Jersey gas...

Yeah... Toby Keith and I could find common ground...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Barker's Newsbites: Thursday, May 3, 2012

Not a great week so far, kids...


I'm "dying" of a head-cold. (Oh, well... I was healthy for this past weekend's wedding - that's the main thing!)

The world is continuing to go to hell under the... er... "leadership" of "The One" and his sidekicks Hillary Clinton, Ben Bernanke, Joe Biden, Leon Panetta, and other assorted bit players.

Let's see... today's Drudge Report in real time (as of approximately 9 a.m. this morning):

President Obama and Madam Clinton are betraying Chen Guangchen...

Things are going from bad to worse in Egypt...

Israel is calling up military reserve units...

Oh, well...


So... who's up for a newsbites theme song?!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dear God... Take Your Humble Servant John Boehner to Your Bosum...



Inspired by President Obama’s cheap election-year politicking, Congress has launched into a frenzied, bipartisan panderfest over the Stafford loan program.

Late last week, an emotional House Speaker John Boehner led House Republicans to vote for an Obama-proposed giveaway Boehner had denounced just a few days previously.

For those who don’t eagerly track the ins and outs of federally subsidized student loans, here’s the deal: Five years ago, in a piece of cheap political theater, Democrats in Congress wrote an additional sweetener for federally subsidized Stafford loans into the College Cost Reduction and Access Act. Beyond offering college loans at a guaranteed rate of 6.8%, Congress temporarily dropped the undergraduate rate as low as 3.4%. The fixed rate was demanded by student-loan advocates who disliked the fact that interest rates fluctuate and wanted the feds to offer certainty (and understood that the rates would have to be high enough that they wouldn’t drain the U.S. Treasury).


The Bush administration, which never worried about spending a couple billion more, cheerfully went along for the ride.


Now, the temporary 3.4% is set to naturally expire, with undergraduate Stafford loans reverting to the standard 6.8% rate.

The impact?

Not so much.

U.S. PIRG, the big “student advocacy” lobbying outfit, calculates that the change would cost the average new borrower $2,800 over a ten-year repayment term. That’s about $25 a month.

Former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin has pegged the impact at $7 a month.



Meanwhile, the projected hit to the federal debt is projected at $30 billion over five years.



The Stafford program is a middle-class entitlement.


We’re not talking about Pell grants for poor students. We’re talking about whether students can get an even bigger subsidy on already-subsidized loans. And, while everyone on Capitol Hill is busy offering an offset to “pay” for the extension, it’s useful to remember that we’re borrowing a trillion bucks this year. That means that none of this is paid for.


All of those potential cuts are already needed just to start trimming the existing debt.

* YES...!!! YES...! YES...! YES...!!!


How is Washington dealing with asking new college borrowers to forgo their extra subsidy of 30 to 80 cents a day?

Not impressively.

The same President Obama who once pledged that we were done “kicking the can” on tough decisions is pandering for the youth vote (on the Jimmy Fallon show, no less) by insisting it’s a national imperative to extend the largesse.

In a discouraging development, the same Mitt Romney who insists we have to slash spending and put the brakes on Obama’s “government-centered society” quickly caved and joined Obama’s call to extend the break.


[T]he president has blatantly misrepresented who will benefit and how much the reset matters.

He’s been joined by members of Congress who know better (or damn well should).


Obama has suggested there will be big savings for recent grads struggling in today’s job market, and that his pandering is actually a response to a temporary, immediate crisis.



In truth, the extended subsidy applies only to loans initiated in 2012–13 — in other words, for students who won’t be graduating for years and years.

Congress, which is good at agreeing on ways to give away freebies to the American public, is now fully on board.

Boehner’s office has declared that “Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol have long agreed this is a problem that must be addressed.”

Boehner has said, “What Washington shouldn’t be doing is exploiting the challenges that young Americans face for political gain.”


On Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats all claim to realize that the feds can’t keep spending a trillion a year more than we collect, but are in a frenzied competition to score points off this bit of shameless pandering.



Boehner’s release, which followed Romney’s decision to match Obama pander for pander, was funny because it required an embarrassing pivot by the House Republicans. Just two days earlier, the speaker’s office had admirably argued, “President Obama has said many times, ‘We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we’ll run out of money.’ Unfortunately, that’s all the president’s plan does.”

Doubtless, this will be only the first of many times that House Republicans abandon principle to accommodate the Romney campaign.

Just imagine if this weren’t the most conservative House in memory.