That bump you just felt was the U.S. Treasury running up against the federal debt ceiling of $14.3 trillion. It happened on May 16 and was, as all the proponents of raising the ceiling warned, supposed to precipitate the greatest economic catastrophe in history.
Remember all those jobs the stimulus law supposedly created? Well, “tens of thousands” of them, reports the New York Times, are going to vanish “within weeks unless Congress extends one of the more effective job-creating programs in the $787 billion stimulus act: a $1 billion New Deal-style program that directly paid the salaries of unemployed people so they could get jobs in government, at nonprofit organizations and at many small businesses.”
Most people — except possibly the American political class — know that one of the prime causes of the current economic crisis was government policies that resulted in countless people taking out mortgages that they couldn’t possibly pay back. Then financial firms who had made the bad mortgages issued securities backed by these shaky loans. When the borrowers defaulted, the whole house of cards came tumbling down — or at least it would have come tumbling down if the federal government hadn’t bailed out so many firms, delaying the day of reckoning.
One ironclad rule of government programs is “if you subsidize something, you will get more of it.” Thus, paying poor, unmarried women to have children increases the number of children in single-parent families, and paying farmers to grow corn increases the amount of corn cultivated.
Although President Barack Obama correctly understood that his party had taken a "shellacking" in the November elections, he seems not to have drawn the obvious lesson from that defeat: Americans are unhappy with his policies. Even now, reports the Washington Examiner, he "is expected to make more frequent use of executive orders, vetoes, signing statements and policy initiatives that originate within the federal agencies to maneuver around congressional Republicans who are threatening to derail initiatives he has already put in place, including health care reforms, and to launch serial investigations into his administration's spending."
“You might as well know right now … that the Tea Party, no matter how successful it is at the polls in November, will certainly betray the party of liberty,” wrote Lew Rockwell, proprietor of LewRockwell.com, on September 22.
"I won't take any PAC money from banks that took TARP funds, nor would I take it from the top executive," Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, told Roll Call in February 2009.
In uncertain economic times, Americans are looking for signs of improvement. The U.S. government, by contrast, is looking for improvement of signs -- street signs, that is.
Another day, another government program mired in the traditional triumvirate of waste, fraud, and abuse. Today's example: the Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program, funded with $5 billion in money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (a.k.a. the stimulus law).
The New York Times is worried: Tea Party activists and the candidates they support are openly criticizing that most sacred of quasi-governmental institutions, the Federal Reserve. Worse still, some of these candidates might actually win and join forces with Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), author of End the Fed, who is poised to head the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees the Fed, if Republicans regain control of the House of Representatives in November.