Item: In the Wall Street Journal for May 26, Cass Sunstein (photo at left), the President’s top regulator, wrote: “A 21st-century regulatory system must promote economic growth, innovation and job creation while also protecting public health and welfare. Earlier this year, President Obama outlined his plan to create such a system by adopting a simpler, smarter and more cost-effective approach to regulation. As a key part of that plan, he called for an unprecedented government-wide review of regulations already on the books so that we can improve or remove those that are out-of-date, unnecessary, excessively burdensome or in conflict with other rules.”
Britain's leading financial newspaper, the London Financial Times, now believes that the U.S. economy may be headed toward a Japanese-style "Lost Decade."
President Obama commenced his weekly address on Saturday by subtly blaming sluggish economic growth and high unemployment on his predecessor — the Bush administration. In prototypical Obama fashion, he reminded the American public that the economic plunders of today did not strike on his watch, and that his administration inherited "the worst recession since the Great Depression."
The city of Prichard, Alabama, is the best proof that more states need Governors such as New Jersey’s Chris Christie, who is willing to take on a pension crisis. For years, Prichard was warned that if no changes were made to its pension fund, the money would be gone by 2009. The warnings went unheeded, and now the pension funds have disappeared.
When the monies dried up, Prichard stopped sending pension checks to its 150 retired workers — a violation of state law. Meanwhile, those who once collected pension checks found themselves struggling financially.
General Motors and Chrysler, so the story goes, have repaid the dollars the federal government loaned them to keep them from going belly up. Therefore, it is said, every American should ignore the nagging constitutional and ethical questions and applaud the government’s efforts to turn these companies around. After all, what is more important: some yellowed piece of parchment or, as President Barack Obama put it, “millions of jobs [that] wouldn’t have been around anymore” if Uncle Sam hadn’t stepped in?
One of the most important, but widely unknown bills currently proposed in Congress is legislation that would end American participation in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The bill, H.R. 4759, calls for America’s withdrawal from the free trade agreement, and is sponsored by several Democrats and a small cadre of Republicans, including Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Rep. Walter B. Jones (R- N.C.).
In what could be one of the understatements of 2011, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, speaking at the International Monetary Conference in Atlanta on Tuesday, remarked, “U.S. economic growth so far this year looks to have been somewhat slower than expected.… A number of indicators also suggest some loss of momentum in the labor market."
With the European economy in shambles from a seemingly intractable sovereign debt crisis and the United States technically out of money to fund its own bloated government, talk of sovereign default is in the air. Greece, the beneficiary of the first of three EU/IMF bailouts, is again on the ropes, insisting that it will not be able to meet its June obligations of more than $13 billion in interest payments. The hard-pressed Greek populace, meanwhile, is balking at the range of financial austerities being urged upon them by their government’s creditors, and Greece’s political class is caught in the middle. The financial world is expecting Greece to default eventually, and other EU debtors like Ireland, Portugal, and even Spain to follow suit.
Anyone paying much attention to the news is aware that the U.S. government is now about $14.3 trillion in debt and considering borrowing even more. That $14.3 trillion, however, only includes what the government currently owes. If one includes Uncle Sam’s unfunded liabilities — promised future payments the government does not expect to have revenue to cover — Washington actually owes “a record $61.6 trillion,” according to a recent USA Today analysis.
A new report released by the United Nations blames the “herd” mentality of investors and poor regulation for volatile commodity prices, suggesting new global “transaction” taxes on trading and more international government involvement in controlling markets as possible solutions.
When Jason West of Vernal, Utah, tried to pay his disputed medical bill last week with 2,500 pennies, he was issued a citation for disorderly conduct. The reason for the charge was that West allegedly dumped the pennies onto the cashier's desk and asked her to count all of them. While the manner in which West delivered his payment may have been a bit extreme (placing rolled coins gently on the desk might have avoided the citation) there was an irony in his case that points to a more important principle than good manners, which are more frequently these days being enforced by the local constabulary, rather than by Emily Post. That is, had he paid the bill with federal reserve notes — backed, really, by nothing more than the promise of the federal government that the paper money has value — then he would have faced no legal problems at all.