• Wednesday August 14, 2019 10:15 AM PDT •
The U.S. government set new records for spending and tax revenues in July 2019. But because spending has risen so much faster than its tax collections, the latest U.S. Treasury monthly statement also confirms that the government’s budget deficit through the first 10 months of its 2019 fiscal year now exceeds the full year deficit of $777 billion recorded in 2018.
Terence Jeffrey of CNS News describes how today’s spending compares with the previous record for inflation-adjusted government spending, which was set back in 2009:
The federal government spent a record $3,727,014,000,000 in the first ten months of fiscal 2019 (October through July), according to the Monthly Treasury Statement released today.
While spending that record $3,727,014,000,000, the government ran a deficit of $866,812,000,000.
Before this year, the most that the federal government had ever spent in the first ten months of a fiscal year was in fiscal 2009, when the Treasury spent $3,576,745,930,000 (in constant June 2019 dollars, adjusted using the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator).
Federal spending was impacted in fiscal 2009 by the recession that was ongoing when that fiscal year began. At the beginning of fiscal 2009, President George W. Bush signed the Troubled Asset Relief Program to bailout failing banks. Later that fiscal year, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aimed at stimulating the economy.
K. Lloyd Billingsley
• Monday August 12, 2019 11:20 AM PDT •
At this writing, the mass shootings in Gilroy, California; El Paso, Texas; and Dayton, Ohio, have claimed 34 lives. On October 1, 2017, Stephen Paddock gunned down 58 in Las Vegas, Nevada. For all the horror, carnage, and sheer evil on display, these were not the worst mass shootings ever to take place in North America.
In the late 1960s, Mexico was into its fourth decade of rule under the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), whose outgoing presidents essentially appointed their successors. When Mexico was awarded the Olympics in 1968, some 8,000 Mexican students took the opportunity to protest their country’s one-party dictatorship. On October 2, 1968, Mexican police and soldiers, deploying helicopters, snipers and armored cars, gunned down at least 300 of the peaceful protesters, and by some accounts the death toll is much higher.
K. Lloyd Billingsley
• Thursday August 8, 2019 3:37 PM PDT •
As they downsize and disappear, newspapers have avoided hard news on California’s pension crisis. One exception is the Sacramento Bee, whose Wes Venteicher recently turned up some facts of great interest to California taxpayers.
In the Golden State, more than 1,200 public pensions exceed federal limits. At the top of the list is Lee McDougal, who managed a “small Southern California city,” Montclair, for 38 years. That bags McDougal, 68, an annual pension of $337,000, more than one-third higher than the federal maximum for public pensions. As Venteicher helpfully explains, “the excess portion comes out of his former employer’s annual budget instead of the state’s public retirement system.” That involves “taxes on the above-limits portions of the pensions cost” and that consumes “taxpayer money that could go toward street maintenance, parks, police or firefighters.”
K. Lloyd Billingsley
• Wednesday August 7, 2019 10:41 AM PDT •
As we recently noted, according to former Naval officer and Boston University professor Angelo Codevilla, the allegedly gallant patriots of the administrative state are really “standard-issue bureaucrats who count on the public’s credulity for their privileges.” For their part, the CIA and FBI might be considered substandard, judging by their failure to stop the massive attacks of September 11, 2001. The FBI, in particular, showed itself decidedly substandard the way it handled, in 2009, the worst attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.
K. Lloyd Billingsley
• Monday August 5, 2019 2:16 PM PDT •
The conventional wisdom on the administrative or “deep state,” particularly its branches of the CIA and FBI, is that a few people at the top might be a problem but more than 90 percent of the rank and file are staunch patriots working three shifts to keep the nation safe. This view even prevails at Fox News, but for former naval officer and Boston University professor Angelo Codevilla, this is utter nonsense.
“In reality, they are standard-issue bureaucrats who count on the public’s credulity for their privileges,” Codevilla explains in American Greatness. “Given their proclivities, we should be grateful for their incompetence.” Codevilla charts blunders such as the failure to find out who bombed the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the failure to find out who mailed the 2001 anthrax letters, the failure to stop the Boston Marathon bombing, “to name but a few.” This led the FBI “toward the same paths taken by the CIA of integration into the ruling class, of dishonesty, and whoring after political influence.”
• Monday August 5, 2019 10:52 AM PDT •
California is considered by many to be a beautiful and desirable place to live. Much of the state benefits from a very temperate climate featuring mild summer and winter temperatures and a landscape that can accommodate a wide variety of popular recreational activities from snowboarding to surfing. Economically, the state is home to many strong industries whose combined output is so large that if the state were a country, it would rank as the fifth largest economy in the world.
On paper, this combination of pleasant environment and economics should mean that California would rank very highly among all states for its business climate thanks to its established relative advantages. In reality, the state ranks among the worst, thanks to a tax and regulatory regime that puts it in dead last place among all states for its cost of doing business in CNBC’s Top States for Business in 2019.
Raymond J. March
• Thursday August 1, 2019 3:39 PM PDT •
A recent study conducted by the Pacific Legal Foundation examined 2,952 regulations issued from 2001 until 2017 by the Department of Health and Human Services. The study found that 2,094 of these regulations (about 75 percent) were unconstitutional. Many of these rules negatively impacted small businesses and individuals’ well-being.
The HHS’s unconstitutional, excessive, and harmful rulemaking were nearly entirely driven by its largest agency, the Food and Drug Administration. Over the same period, 98 percent of the regulations enacted by the FDA (totaling 1,860) were found unconditional. Twenty-five of these rules had an economic impact of at least $100 million.
K. Lloyd Billingsley
• Wednesday July 31, 2019 2:45 PM PDT •
On Tuesday in Detroit, Michigan, some presidential candidates were at pains to distance themselves from the open socialism of Bernie Sanders, the statist high-tax ideology of Elizabeth Warren, and measures such as the Green New Deal and Medicare for all.
For example, candidate John Delaney slammed “impossible promises and fairytale economics,” and the former Maryland congressman was troubled by the prospect of taking existing health care away from workers. “Social Security didn’t make pensions illegal,” Delaney recalled, and that was “the equivalent of what Warren and Sanders are proposing.” For his part, Delaney wants both universal care and individual choice, but he failed to explain how that might work.
Vicki E. Alger
• Wednesday July 31, 2019 12:21 PM PDT •
July 29 marked the anniversary of Alexis de Tocqueville’s birth in 1805. Perhaps known best for his influential two-volume work Democracy in America published in January 1835, Tocqueville was no partisan. As he explained to his English translator, Henry Reeve, his reviewers:
...insist on making me a party man, and I am not...the only passions I have are love of liberty and human dignity.
Tocqueville knew all too well that history is littered with examples of once-free democracies that degenerated into tyrannies, where the people were equal in misery instead of liberty. Yet he praised the democracy practiced in America during his travels throughout our young Republic in 1831 and 1832 because it was characterized by ordered liberty:
• Tuesday July 30, 2019 8:23 AM PDT •
Regardless of where you might live around the world, if you live on less than $2 a day, you would be considered to be living in extreme poverty.
According to the World Bank, in 2015 about 736 million people around the world, or just under 10 percent of the world’s population, had incomes that put them below this international poverty line. Believe it or not, that is extraordinarily good news because poverty rates around the world have fallen dramatically since 1981 when 42 percent of the world’s population lived on an inflation-adjusted $1.90 or less per day.