When Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin first used the term “death panels” to reference a provision of Obama’s signature healthcare law, she was mercilessly mocked. She even appeared in MAD Magazine’s Mad 20, which features the top 20 “dumbest” people of 2009, for her mention of what MAD called “imaginary death panels.”

During Sunday’s interview on ABC’s This Week with the Obama administration’s chief economics advisor, Austan Goolsbee, he warned opponents not to treat the issue of raising the debt ceiling as a game or a toy.

Incoming Tea Party-elected officials continue to vow to target deficit spending. Fox News writes, “Republicans elected to Congress with the help of Tea Party support pledged Sunday to devote themselves to balancing the budget over all else when they start their new jobs on Wednesday.”

money with flagAccording to the federal government’s 2010 financial statements, released in late December, the 2010 deficit was $1.29 trillion, a slight decrease from the 2009 deficit of $1.42 trillion. Despite this minor improvement, the long-term debt when all obligations are taken into account, including such major unfunded liabilities as Social Security and Medicare, is an astounding $64 trillion — and that may be understating things by about $12.3 trillion, says John Williams of ShadowStats.com (as reported by Douglas French on the Ludwig von Mises Institute blog).

In one of the most remarkable and unexpected political demographic developments, the 700,000+ Russian-American refugees who came to the United States in the 1980s are demonstrating their ideological and pragmatic affinity with the GOP, particularly in New York City, where the beleaguered GOP is a true minority party, having only a marginal place in city government, as 46 out of 51 NYC Council seats are held by Democrats.