As part of the backroom deal to extend the Bush tax cuts for another two years, the GOP gave the progressives an extension of one of their favorite welfare-state building blocks: unemployment insurance — which will undoubtedly add to the long lines of suffering Americans in our country.

gold bullionMore and more people in affluent societies are turning to gold as a hedge against irresponsible government financial policies. It cannot make these people more comfortable that, in Europe, there has been discussion about trying to keep the teetering government financial systems stable — for awhile, in any event — by having the European Union issue “joint sovereign bonds.” Germany and France have rejected that approach, but if nations like Italy and Spain begin to unravel, then the pressure on France and especially Germany to help shore up neighboring financial systems will grow more insistent.

With all the attention being focused on extending the “Bush tax cuts,” granting additional unemployment benefits, and the arrival in Washington of newly minted congressional Representatives and Senators, a major piece of the fiscal puzzle has been ignored altogether: states’ increasingly pressured budgets for next year. As noted by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the Great Recession “has caused the steepest decline in state tax receipts on record.”

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s recent 60 Minutes interview raised more questions than it answered. Some even questioned the questions. Gary North explained that the Fed chair was being pushed to defend his decision to purchase more government securities in order to stimulate the economy. Interviewer Scott Pelley was at an admitted disadvantage, and failed to ask Bernanke exactly why he thought additional stimulating would work when past stimulations haven’t.

BernankeStocks retreated and commodities predictably soared Monday after Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke told CBS's 60 Minutes that “it's certainly possible” the Fed could create additional “quantitative easing” beyond the $600 billion already announced. “Quantitative easing” is the modern term coined by Federal Reserve officials that means creating hundreds of billions of dollars in currency out of thin air, thereby inflating the currency, but hopefully not raising consumer prices beyond a target two percent per year.

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