Liberty Planet Weblog

Archive for March 2010

Ever since Barack Obama became president and began advocating such big-dollar federal programs as an economic stimulus and health care reform, Republicans have gained increasing political traction with warnings to voters about the growing national debt.

On March 24, 2010, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, published an op-ed in the Des Moines Register that was timed to coincide with a March 25 visit by Obama to Iowa City, Iowa. Obama visited Iowa City to tout the health care bill two days after signing it into law.

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(CNN) — Officials from 14 states have gone to court to block the historic overhaul of the U.S. health care system that President Obama signed into law Tuesday, arguing the law’s requirement that individuals buy health insurance violates the Constitution.
Thirteen of those officials filed suit in a federal court in Pensacola, Florida, minutes after Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The complaint calls the act an “unprecedented encroachment on the sovereignty of the states” and asks a judge to block its enforcement.

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Beijing is using its accumulation of billions of American dollars to step up its investments around the globe. In the last year, Chinese acquisitions in the U.S. have ranged from a relatively obscure theater in Branson, Mo., to stakes in such famous brands as Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson.

China’s huge stockpile of dollars stems in part from Americans’ enormous purchases of relatively inexpensive Chinese manufactured goods and the significantly smaller volume of U.S. exports to the Asian country.

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One of the world’s leading economists said Wednesday that the very structure of the Federal Reserve system is so fraught with conflicts that it’s “corrupt.”

Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, a former chief economist at the World Bank, said that if a country had applied for World Bank aid during his tenure, with a financial regulatory system similar to the Federal Reserve’s — in which regional Feds are partly governed by the very banks they’re supposed to police — it would have raised alarms.

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Anyone ticking off the reasons long-term joblessness stands at its highest levels in decades needs to do a little arithmetic.

As of mid-2008, unemployment benefits ran out after 26 weeks. Under two presidential administrations and a more-than-willing Congress, however, they kept growing and growing.First, they expanded by 20 weeks, then another 13, then 20 more and then 13 more. One additional week got added to the first 13 to make 14. Finally, another six got tacked on.

Add it up, and that’s 99 weeks of unemployment benefits available to Illinois residents who qualify. Other states have different rules, but many also run to 99 weeks at the maximum.

Given the rotten economy, it’s easy to imagine why politicians keep pumping quarters into the jukebox. It takes time to get a job, so the long duration of benefits is not a sign of deliberate malingering. But those government checks come with an unwanted side effect, especially for workers at the low end of the economic food chain.

They go a long way toward explaining why 40 percent of jobless Americans have been out of work for at least 27 weeks, the highest level since the government started keeping score in the 1940s.

“Those programs subsidize unemployment,” explained Robert Shimer, economics professor at the University of Chicago. “There could be good reasons to do it, but we should be clear on the cost. It has a pretty substantial impact.”

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