Archive for April 2011

S&P Cuts U.S. Ratings Outlook to Negative

That AAA Credit rating the US has had since… ever?  Don’t get used to it.

Ratings firm Standard & Poor’s cut its outlook on U.S. government debt to “negative” from “stable” for the first time in history, citing ongoing concerns over the long-term fiscal health of the country.

For those who don’t follow this sort of thing, this is exactly like your credit rating.  The better the rating, the less interest you have to pay when you take out a loan. S&P is warning that unless we do something rightfuckingnow, we can kiss that rating goodbye.  That would mean that the money we would still be borrowing (40 cents on the dollar for the feds) would cost us even more to float another year.

But it’s not like we got here overnight, right?  This is all Chimpy McBushitler’s fault, right?

In explaining its decision, S&P said the U.S. deficit “ballooned” to more than 11% of gross domestic product in 2009 from a range of 2% to 5% from 2003 to 2008.

Oh.

So all we have to do is reign in the deficit, right?  They have to know that Obama the Uniter can get together with those evil Republicans and teleprompt them to do the right thing, right?

It noted the gap between both Republicans and Democrats about how to cut the deficit remains wide, saying that even if a deficit-cutting deal is reached, “there is a reasonable chance that it would still take a number of years before the government reaches a fiscal position that stabilizes its debt burden.”

S&P doesn’t “see a push for a meaningful agreement in the next two months” as the administration had targeted, Mr. Beers said in an interview. Even if there is an agreement, there is still uncertainty about the scope of any plan and how long it would take to implement it, he added.

Oh.

So what’s the bottom line?

S&P said Monday it sees a risk that policy makers might fail to agree on how to address budgetary challenges by 2013, leaving the U.S. fiscally weaker than other triple-A-rated countries.

What is the S&P really saying?  S&P doesn’t see a reasonable budget being signed by the president while that president’s initials are BHO.  The US is in the middle of a “Yes We Can” bender in Vegas, blowing all our money on strippers, booze and gambling.  The bank account is empty and the credit cards are maxed.  Getting a higher limit on our credit card isn’t going to help until we come back home from Vegas.

If we want out of our budget mess, the first step is sending Obama home to Chicago or Hawaii or wherever it is he’s from this week.

Libya vs Syria

Automatic Taxing

I <3 Shutdowns

This libertarian is rooting for a federal shutdown.  I love federal shutdowns.  The last one was great.  This one will be a little painful, but good for us overall.

First, let’s talk about what happens.  The federal government has to go through and decide who is and isn’t “essential.”  Now, in my opinion, the only ones who should be working for the federal government in the first place are essential workers.  Shutdowns are a great way of illustrating, by the government’s own admission, how much “non-essential” government we have.  (Sneak preview: it’s a lot.)

Second, it illustrates exactly how much impact all this non-essential government has to the average citizen’s like.  Unless you actually are one of the non-essential workers, when you were asked in 1995 how the shutdown effected you, your answer was, “. . .”  Most people couldn’t think of how they were effected.  This time, the main way people will be effected is the IRS being slow with refunds (don’t think that’s an accident).  Otherwise, the rest of us hardly notice that the non-essential government is gone — but we sure as hell are paying for it anyways.

The EPA did a good job of illustrating this.  They sent out a memo a couple of days ago asking their managers to get in a whamulance and go cry to the public about all the super-duper important work that they’ll have to stop because of a shutdown.  This is what they came up with:

HEALTH PROTECTION (Water, Air, Land, Research):

  • Federal inspections at hazardous waste facilities
  • Federally funded activities preparing for cleanup of some of the U.S.’s worst hazardous waste sites
  • Finalization of a health assessment for chromium-6 (hexavalent chromium) in drinking water
  • All federal efforts that protect children from lead paint poisoning
  • Air quality forecasting across the country, including updates to major daily print and TV weather reports
  • All federal programs to protect against unsafe pesticide residues in food
  • Testing of new technologies that respond to biological terrorist attacks such as anthrax

ECONOMIC:

  • New grants to help fund economic redevelopment and cleanup of Brownfields
  • Permitting for companies that need EPA approvals before they can manufacture and market their products
  • Private sector partnerships that help develop new technologies and are the engine of new jobs (CRADA’s)

ENFORCEMENT/PERMITTING

  • All criminal investigations except those needed to prevent an imminent threat to human life or government property. The agency’s environmental crimes hotline would also cease operation — (this will eliminate EPA’s ability to respond to public reports of potential environmental violations)
  • Oversight of work being done by industry to control pollution and protect public health under federal court orders. The agency would also stop monitoring and collecting compliance data — including illegal air and water pollution discharges. Operation of the agency’s environmental crimes hotline — (this will limit EPA’s ability to respond to public reports of potential environmental violations)

That’s it.  That’s the best that the home office could come up with.  “Well, we won’t  be able to come out and harass people with endless testing, and you’ll miss out on your air quality index in the paper (but you won’t have any problem getting it from weather.com or accuweather.com) and we won’t be able to investigate any crimes unless there’s, you know, what’s that word, oh yeah, a victim.”  Frankly, the only thing I see up there that they should have been doing in the first place is the Superfund cleanups.

There’s one fly in the ointment, however.  The President has decided that the military isn’t going to get paid during the shutdown either.  I’m not being flip — that’s how it works.  Like I said, the government itself decides who is and isn’t essential.  In the 1995 shutdown, President Clinton listed the military as essential (we were winding up a war in Bosnia at the time, after all) so they got paid.  This time, the Obama administration has decided that the military is not-especially-essential.  They get to keep working — fighting three fronts, one of which he claimed he would have them out of by now, and another that he threw them into without Congressional approval less than a month ago — but they don’t get paid until after a budget is approved.

Think that’s callous?  It gets better.  There’s a Continuing Resolution working through Congress to fund the government for another week, and the military for the rest of the year.  And Obama has pledged to veto it.  Got that?  Here’s a way to take the military out of the equation, and deal with the part of the budget that the fight is over.  This is his own creation — the Democrats controlled the entire Congress and the Oval Office last year, and still failed to pass a budget, because they were scared to vote anything but “present” on anything after the Healthcare Takeover.  So he and Reid and Pelosi created this mess… and now he wants to make it worse.

This is all about priorities.  The Republicans have said, “given this choice, knowing what the President is going to do to the military, it is more important to get spending under control than to keep spending so much, even if the military has to wait to get paid.”

The Democrats and Obama have said, “it’s more important to keep funding things like Cowboy Poetry Festivals than to pay the military on time, at the same time that our president is sending them to fight another war after running as an anti-war candidate.”

The Republican priority is tough.  I know that not everyone will agree with it… but I know that almost everyone knows that the Democrat priorities are bullshit.

Throw the switch.  Shut down the monster.  Starve the beast.