Friday, October 21, 2011

Kill Robin Hood

I swear, I'm going to bitch-slap the next jerk who complains that the gap between the rich and the poor is getting bigger all the time. Anyone who passed third-grade math can understand why, on the simplest level, this is wrong. And anyone who passed seventh-grade math can understand why, on the the more complex level, this is wrong.

Here's the third-grade explanation:

There is a limit to how poor you can get. That limit is known as zero. If you own absolutely nothing, you have zero. Even that panhandler asking for spare change that you just walked by has more than zero: he has the clothes on his back and the seventy-five cents in his pocket.

But there's no limit to how rich you can get. Everyone knows that.

So there's a limit to how little you can have, but there's no limit to how much. So the gap between zero and the max has to increase as long as people are creating wealth. The gap will only stop increasing when people stop creating wealth. If your income increases by ten cents next year and mine doesn't increase at all, OMG!!! More income inequality!!! Eleventy!!!111!!!11!

Here's the seventh-grade explanation:

Paul Poor is making $20,000 a year working the fry vat at the local Bun 'n' Run. Meanwhile Rose Rich is pulling down $100,000 as an IT program manager.

Rose and Paul both do their jobs well, so their bosses give them both a raise. Rose gets a two percent raise, while Paul gets five percent.

Wow! Paul's getting a much bigger raise than Rose! But if you do a little seventh-grade math, you see that Paul's five percent raise puts $1,000 a year more (before taxes) in his pocket, while Rose's smaller percentage raise gives her $2,000 more.

Dammit, the income inequality gap is still growing, even though Paul got a bigger percentage raise than Rose. Paul would have to get a ten percent raise to actually see as much extra money as Rose, or, alternatively, Rose would have to get only a one percent raise to get as little as Paul. Or maybe Rose should be sent to a re-education camp or be guillotined, as some have suggested (see link below).

This is the way things work in the real world.Some people make more than others, because the work they do is worth more.

What the complainers fail to mention is that, in the real world, Paul is probably significantly younger than Rose. That means he probably hasn't moved as far up the career ladder as Rose has. Rose didn't start out making $100,000 a year, even if her college degree was in computer science. And in the real world, Rose's opportunities for career advancement are probably a lot more limited than Paul's, simply because she's a lot higher up the career hierarchy (not to mention a lot older) than Paul is. In a couple of years, Paul well might be the manager of the Bun 'n' Run, making double or triple what he makes at the fry vat. Rose, on the other hand, is very unlikely to double her salary without becoming her company's chief information officer.

The complainers seem to think that:
  • once you make a low salary, you will always make a low salary;
  • once you make a high salary, you will always make a high salary;
  • people who make high salaries somehow did it by stealing from people making low ones.
I don't want to live in a country where there is no income inequality. Because that's a country that says that everyone's work is worth the same, whether you're working the fry vat or managing an IT project. That's a country where people think the government should prevent income inequality by deciding how much people should be allowed to make. That was tried in a 75-year-long experiment known as communism, and the results were catastrophic.

(Roseanne Barr thinks this is a great idea, though she seems to be a little undecided as to whether we should emulate the French Revolution or Cambodia's Killing Fields...)

If Paul Poor doesn't like the fact that he doesn't make as much money as Rose Rich, he should learn how to do something that society values more than cooking French fries. Having a degree in something other than Native American Transgendered Women's Studies might help.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

You'll Get Your Money - I Guarantee It

A series of exchanges from a recent online financial advice column:

"Hi. My nephew is going into business for himself. It's a business I don't know much about (green energy stuff), but he's a smart kid, and I think he's going to do well. But being young, he doesn't have a whole lot of money, or a very long credit history, so the banks he's approached haven't been jumping at the chance to finance him. He says one bank is willing to loan him the money he needs, but only if someone with a good credit history will co-sign the loan. He's asked me if I would co-sign. What should I do?

"Sam in DC" 

Dear Sam -
Co-signers typically will have well-established credit to help the borrower qualify for the loan. But being a co-signer isn't like giving a person a reference on a job application. It carries a weighty responsibility and some potentially significant implications that need to be understood before it's taken on.

That's because you're not just vouching for your nephew's ability to repay the debt, you're promising to pay it yourself if he defaults.

Most people would probably say, "That's fine. My (insert relative or friend) since third grade has a good job, is very responsible and will make every single payment."

And that may be absolutely true. It's also true that unanticipated things happen. People lose their jobs, they get sick and they die unexpectedly. If, for whatever reason, the borrower doesn't make the payments, you're on the hook.

You need to consider your nephew's character and ability to make the payments, and whether you could afford the debt if he defaults.

The main thing you need to understand is that you are signing that loan for a reason. If the loan goes bad, you have to pay it back. You need to look at this as if you  were taking out the loan yourself.

The FTC puts the situation into simple terms in its information on co-signing. You're being asked to take a risk that a professional lender has decided not to take.

The risks are real and significant. The lender doesn't have to exhaust every possible means to get the money from the borrower before he comes after you. The bank can select which debtor he wants to pursue. He'll pick the one who is the most likely to pay the quickest.

A few months later:

"Hi - remember me? My nephew had started his own business and needed someone to co-sign his loan. You told me the risks involved, and after weighing them as best I could (I really don't understand this green energy stuff his business is about), I decided to co-sign the loan anyway.

"Now my second nephew is going into the same line of business and he also needs a co-signer to get a loan. Since the first one seems to be working out, I'm going to co-sign for him also, even though the amount he needs to borrow is about twice what my first nephew borrowed. I think it should be okay, even though my credit score is a little lower than the last time I had checked - I guess some lenders are a little worried about my ability to pay my bills, even though I've never in my life missed a payment, or even been late.

"Sam in DC" 

A few months later:

"Hi, it's Sam in DC again; hope you remember me - I co-signed on loans for my two nephews so they could start their own green energy stuff businesses.

"I guess I should have listened to you. Nephew #1 told me he's burned through all the money the bank loaned him and his company isn't selling nearly enough of his green energy thingies to pay to keep the lights on, never mind pay his employees or pay the bank back. So he's going out of business. And now his bank is coming after me to repay the loan. I'm not happy about it, but I guess I can afford it. My nephew says there are federal investigators looking at his business records; they evidently think he might have done something criminal, and people are asking if I was somehow involved.

"I'm still guaranteeing the loan to nephew #2, but now I'm worried. Is there any way I can get out of this?

"Sam in DC" 

Dear Sam -
You are well and truly screwed. When the federal government tells you co-signing on a loan is risky business, don't you think you should listen?

 A few minutes later:
"I am the federal government."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ten Years Later

Ask someone to name a hero these days, and you're likely to get the name of an athlete or an entertainer, someone who gets paid millions to ply a trade that presents about as much risk to life and limb as waiting tables.

We're somehow too cool to have real heroes any more, people who willingly put themselves in harm's way for someone else's benefit. Most of the time, the only popular recognition they get is when their heroism is of the man-bites-dog variety and the local eyewitless news sends someone over to film the eight-year-old who rescued his entire family from their burning house three days after he did the same thing for his neighbors. And having had his fifteen seconds of fame, he fades back into the crowd and we turn our attention back to the vulgar doings of Snooki and The Situation.

We know the names of the evil and the deranged. We know who Jared Lee Loughner is, but do we know the names of the people who subdued him and saved Gabrielle Giffords's life?

So ten years later, you doubtless recognize the name Muhammad Atta.

And you probably don't know the name of the man who single-handedly saved almost as many lives on September 11, 2001, as Atta destroyed that day.

Yes, he'd served in the U.S. Army

You don't know the name of the man who survived the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and, convinced that it would happen again, used his position as his company's director of security, to implement a program of emergency evacuation procedures. Every three months, everyone at his company's office in the World Trade Center was required to participate in emergency evacuation drills. Everyone - even the corner office executives.

And you don't know the name of the man who, on September 11, 2001, calmly supervised the evacuation of his company's 2,700 employees - after building officials announced the building was safe and they should return to their desks. The man who kept everyone calm, who reminded them of the drills they had practiced, who sang God Bless America and other songs of his native Cornwall through his megaphone.
September 11th's greatest hero, on the day he died

The man who, after all his employees were safe, went back into the building to make sure everyone got out.

Who was last seen on the tenth floor of World Trade Center Tower 2, going up, and whose body was never recovered.

There is no monument or memorial to him at Ground Zero, and are apparently no plans for one. We're too cool to have heroes any more.

Rick Rescorla. September 11th's greatest hero.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Debt Ceiling Phonus Balonus

I don't know how the final numbers will shake out, but as of right now, the competing House and Senate versions both claim they'll increase the debt ceiling by $2 trillion or so, in exchange for $2 trillion or so in spending cuts over the next ten years - all give or take a trillion or two. The biggest sticking point seems to be whether it will be a short-term increase (six months or so) or long-term (just past the next election).

Either way, we're going to be facing another debt ceiling debate by December 2012. So the ceiling increase is good for only about 18 months, tops.

But the proposed spending cuts are spread out over ten years. Presumably, we'll be having this same argument next year or early 2013.

Some questions:
  1. What spending do they think they're going to cut in 2013 in exchange for the 2013 debt ceiling increase?
  2. Why do they think that spending can't be cut today, but they'll be able to cut it in 2013?
  3. The proposed cuts that are being spread out over the next ten years - will they be cuts compared to what was spent this year? Or will the cuts that they're looking to schedule in, say 2018, be cuts compared to whatever ridiculous amount was spent in 2017? In other words, if, say, the EPA's budget this year is $40 billion, and it's scheduled to get cut $10 billion in 2018, will its budget be reduced to $30 billion in 2018? Or will it be reduced $10 billion from the $65 billion it had meanwhile increased over the previous five years? In other words, what is the baseline for that $10 billion cut?
  4. And aren't all these proposals for cuts ten years from now a pointless, phony exercise, since nothing that Congress does today is binding on any future Congress?
I think you know the answers to these semi-rhetorical questions as well as I do, but just in case, here they are:
  1. Shut up. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
  2. We can't afford to make those cuts even today. If we make those cuts, who's going to 
    1. stop black-market sales of incandescent light bulbs;
    2. support NPR;
    3. pay the salaries of Outreach Coordinators, Diversity Liaisons, and Sustainability Facilitators;
    4. pay for high speed government rail service between Chicago and Iowa City;
    5. make sure there are government warning labels on all lawn mowers warning people not to stick their limbs into them;
    6. buy machine guns for Mexican drug lords;
    7. grope potential five-year-old terrorists at boarding gates.
  3. The 2018 EPA budget will be $93 billion, which is a cut of $11 billion from 2017's $65 billion because otherwise they would have gotten a budget of $97 billion. If that doesn't make sense, it's because you're smarter than your congressman, who, being an imbecile, understands it perfectly.
  4. Yes.
 The only real spending cuts are the cuts that take effect immediately. Everything else amounts to BOHICA.

Anyway, the debt ceiling increase is meaningless. You could increase it to infinity + a jillion skillion dollars + a unicorn. The bond ratings outfits are going to downgrade our debt regardless, because they don't give a rap what our debt ceiling is. They care about what we're doing to fix the clusterfark we're in, not what we're going to allow ourselves to borrow.

And we ain't doing squat about that. Invest in China.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Social Worker Managing a Two Billion Dollar Portfolio

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow has a graduate degree in social work from Michigan State university.

Would you trust her to manage your money?

Would you trust her to manage $2 billion of your money?
Sen. Debbie Stabenow was also making headlines this week, touring Michigan to promote her Battery Innovation Act — legislation she plans to introduce in the Senate this week that would coordinate all aspects of advanced battery production, from research and development to manufacturing.
While the terms of Dow's recent partnership weren't disclosed, Stabenow's proposed legislation calls for the federal government to invest $2 billion into the effort that she hopes spurs a growing market.

I hatehatehatehatehate when politicians use the word "investing." Whenever a politician uses any variation of the word "invest," he's lying.

That's important, so let me say it again: Whenever a politician uses any variation of the word "invest," he's lying.

Investing means giving X dollars to someone in the hope that you'll get X+Y dollars back in Z time. With X, Y, and Z, you can calculate a return on investment, or ROI.*   Example: You invest $100 (X) in Consolidated Fuzz Corporation stock on January 1. On December 31, you sell the stock for $125.00 (Y). Your ROI is 25% per year (Z).

Politicians only use the X amount above - and they almost always get it wrong by factors of magnitude - and never, never, never give you a number for Y or Z. What they do with your money bears less resemblance to real investing than it does to throwing fistfuls of seed corn out a car window and expecting ethanol pumps to sprout up where they land.

In Stabenow's case, that may be the literal truth. She thinks she can feel global warming when she's flying, so who knows what she thinks would happen if you threw corn out your car window?
"Climate change is very real," she confessed as she embraced cap and trade's massive tax increase on Michigan industry - at the same time claiming, against all the evidence, that it would not lead to an increase in manufacturing costs or energy prices. "Global warming creates volatility. I feel it when I'm flying. The storms are more volatile. We are paying the price in more hurricanes and tornadoes."
This person is trying to spend $2 billion of your money. No wonder we're going broke.

* If you don't understand that because your degree is in something that ends with the word "studies," take a semester of accounting 101 at your local community college, after you've mastered some basic math, such as calculating percentages.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Happy Independence Day, America, and God Save the Tsar!

So last night, Cunegonde and I and some friends went to Oronoco Park here in the lovely Democratic People's Republic of Alexandria, Virginia, to celebrate America's 235th birthday and DPRAV's 262nd, the celebration of both which is traditionally the Sunday after Independence Day. It was a lovely blankets-and-lawn-chairs-and-coolers kind of evening, a rockabilly band entertained us for about the first half-hour we were there, local dignitaries made speeches, DPRAV fed birthday cupcakes to the crowd, and about an hour before the 9:30 scheduled time for the fireworks display, the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra took the stage and treated us to a wide range of music, from Duke Ellington to Rogers and Hammerstein to Gustav Holst (Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity, from The Planets), to music from Harry Potter.

At 9:30, it was dark enough for the fireworks to begin, and the orchestra played the last ten minutes or so of Independence Day fireworks' standard accompaniment, Tchaikovsky's famous 1812 Overture.

Am I really the only person in America who finds this a ridiculously insulting juxtaposition of fireworks and music? Here's what 1812 is about, according to Wikipedia:
The music can be interpreted as a fairly literal depiction of the campaign: in June 1812, the previously undefeated French Allied Army of over half a million battle-hardened soldiers and almost 1,200 state-of-the-art guns (cannons, artillery pieces) crossed the Niemen River into Lithuania on its way to Moscow... we hear the ominous notes of approaching conflict and preparation for battle with a hint of desperation but great enthusiasm, followed by the distant strains of La Marseillaise, the French National Anthem, as the French approach... The Tsar desperately appeals to the spirit of the Russian people in an eloquent plea to come forward and defend the Rodina (Motherland)... we hear traditional Russian folk music. La Marseillaise returns in force with great sounds of battle as the French approach Moscow... the great armies clash on the plains west of Moscow, and Moscow burns. Just at the moment that Moscow is occupied and all seems hopeless, the hymn which opens the piece is heard again as God intervenes, bringing an unprecedented deep freeze with which the French cannot contend (one can hear the winter winds blowing in the music). The French attempt to retreat, but their guns, stuck in the freezing ground, are captured by the Russians and turned against them. Finally, the guns are fired in celebration and church bells all across the land peal in grateful honor of their deliverance from their "treacherous and cruel enemies."

An overture full of Russian folk tunes, La Marseillaise, the French national anthem (which Napoleon had actually banned in 1805, but never mind), and Russian hymns God Save the Tsar!, and God Preserve Thy People. What all this has to do with America's or DPRAV's birthday escapes my poor understanding. This is the celebration of the defeat of one European autocrat's armies by the armies of another European autocrat (with a huge assist from the weather), neither of whom had any use for what happened here in 1776, and both of whom happily imprisoned or murdered any of their royal subjects who had any thought of trying to bring 1776 to Paris or Moscow.

But we have to have 1812 when we have fireworks, because, well, you know, cannons! Really? Is that the only justification for playing this musical affront to every American value on the anniversary celebration of the founding of our country? Where we not only believe that all men have the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but consider it to be as obvious a fact as 2+2=4?

If there is no other music out there that would be suitable for the occasion, can't we find someone who can write uplifting, rousing, Independence-Day-fireworks-worthy music, to include cannons for people unwilling to give up the tradition, to replace this misbegotten celebration of dictators, death and destruction?

Is there anyone who thinks John Williams isn't up to the job?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Just Want to Buy Groceries, Dammit

So I'm checking out at the Safeway. I've swiped my Safeway Club card and the cashier is ringing things up. I swipe my credit card, and the display asks me if I want to make a donation to fight prostate cancer.

I hit "No." Ten seconds later, the cashier asks me if I'd like to make a donation to fight prostate cancer. "Not today, thanks," I reply, and cleave her skull in twain with the meat cleaver I got free for buying $25 worth of premium Angus beef today. Yeah, I know, she has to ask, it's part of her job, and she probably hates it as much as I do, but still.

Yes, I hate prostate cancer. And breast cancer. And homelessness. And the fact that some people can't afford to pay their utility bills. That's why Cunegonde and I make charitable contributions to the Salvation Army and other charities and at least two churches (Cunegonde writes out checks to both a Southern Baptist church and a Unitarian one, which always makes me smile). And on April 15, we add them up and put them on our tax return, and get a tax deduction so the federal deficit increases by a few bucks. And we don't have to scrounge up a bunch of Safeway receipts that show we donated a dollar to end world hunger - if the receipts even show the donation.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

We Need A Twelve-Step Program For Jerkaholism

So this week, we're treated to the spectacle of yet another public figure getting caught with his pants down, so to speak. And the morning news-lite shows are full of "experts" saying he needs to get into some kind of celebrity rehab so he can come out and proclaim himself all scrubbed and clean and ready to run for mayor of New York, or get a CNN talk show, or resume his acting career or return to the PGA tour.

Does this strike anyone else as being some kind of publicity racket? Once upon a time, you went into rehab for a busted-up knee, or for drug addiction or alcoholism, with varying rates of success. But sex-addiction rehab?

Does anyone seriously believe this so-called "sex addiction" nonsense? Are we to believe that these rich and powerful celebrities are in the thrall of an uncontrollable sex drive, which they are powerless to do anything about? Has anyone ever suggested that Benjamin Franklin was a sex addict? How about John F. Kennedy? They can control everything else about their lives - and often want to control our lives as well - but they're completely unable to keep their hotrods in their pants?

Please. Just once, I'd like to hear one of these clowns say, "Dammit, I totally screwed up. I knew exactly what I was doing, and I thought I could get away with it. I could have stopped any time I wanted to; I just didn't want to, and, up to now, didn't need to. Now I need to, and that's going to be the end of it. I don't need to see some famous therapist to figure out why I was doing this - I know why. And I don't need a therapist to tell me what I need to do - I know what I need to do. I am not powerless over sex; I can straighten out my own life - all I need to do is stop having sexual relations with people who aren't my wife."

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Things Haven't Changed Much in Italy Since Galileo's Time

Galileo was sentenced to life in prison in 1633 (later commuted to house arrest), and his books banned, for writing that the earth revolves around the sun and is not the center of the universe.

Italian government officials have accused the country's top seismologist of manslaughter, after failing to predict a natural disaster that struck Italy in 2009, a massive devastating earthquake that killed 308 people.
A shocked spokesman for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) likened the accusations to a witch hunt.
"It has a medieval flavor to it -- like witches are being put on trial," the stunned spokesman told
Enzo Boschi, the president of Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), will face trial along with six other scientists and technicians, after failing to predict the future and the impending disaster.
Earthquakes are, of course, nearly impossible to predict, seismologists say. In fact, according to the website for the USGS, no major quake has ever been predicted successfully. 
"Neither the USGS nor Caltech nor any other scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake," reads a statement posted on the USGS website. "They do not know how, and they do not expect to know how any time in the foreseeable future."
John Vidale, a Washington State seismologist and professor at the University of Washington, agreed that earthquake forecasting is simply impossible.
"We're not able to predict earthquakes very well at all," he told LiveScience.
"One problem is, we don't know how much stress it takes to break a fault," Vidale told the site. "Second we still don't know how much stress is down there. All we can do is measure how the ground is deforming."
Not knowing either of these factors makes it pretty tough to figure out when stresses will get to the point of a rupture, and an earth-shaking quake, LiveScience explained.
Why press manslaughter charges against seismologists who failed to predict an earthquake?

I submit that it is because once you acknowledge that unknowable variables make it impossible to predict an earthquake right under your feet tomorrow afternoon, you must acknowledge that unknowable variables make it impossible to predict average worldwide temperatures fifty years from now.

Of course, science is in the business of creating hypotheses, making predictions based on those hypotheses, and seeing how the predictions pan out. So seismology isn't really a science, is it?

Not so fast. Seismologists do make predictions; they're pretty good at predicting when a volcano will erupt* and where the greatest danger zone will be when it does.** The science of predicting earthquakes is not nearly so far advanced, which is why seismologists don't try - they admit they don't have a working hypothesis for predicting earthquakes. Global warming "scientists," on the other hand, make predictions that don't pan out, and instead of discarding the failed hypothesis, retrofit their observations to agree with it. First they predict global warming will cause the end of snowfall, and when you get record snowfalls (they're still skiing in Colorado this June and will still be skiing in Utah into July), they claim global warming is the cause of record snowfalls. "Our theory is true, no matter what the data show!" It's not a case of the evidence being wrong if it doesn't support global warming; all evidence supports global warming, even when it directly contradicts the other evidence that supports global warming.

Ayn Rand may not have been a scientist, but she spoke truly and well when she said, "Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong."

* Thursday, July 28, at 4:37 am
** Send me $15 million and I'll tell you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Boycott Limbaugh's Advertisers, Part Deux

So just a couple of weeks after I purposely got Mother's Day flowers from a company that advertises on Rush Limbaugh's radio program, I see this:
A Boston-based company that provides computer hard-drive backup services is setting up a customer support center in Maine's second largest city with plans to have more than 150 employees by the end of the year.
Carbonite Inc. announced Tuesday that it is leasing about 20,000 square feet of space in Lewiston.
CEO David Friend said the company is moving its customer support jobs from India to Maine. He said he was drawn to Maine by its work force, its broadband infrastructure and support he's received from government officials.
Carbonite expects to employ up to 50 people by the end of the summer and 250 by the end of 2012.
Carbonite is a regular advertiser on Limbaugh's program. Sean Hannity's too.

Okay, so you're a good little progressive leftist liberal who supports good progressive leftist liberal causes. You're thinking you really need to back up your hard drive because you have all kinds of important stuff on there. Do you:
  1. Go to Carbonite's website and sign up, gritting your teeth because their advertising helps Limbaugh pay his bills?
  2. Continue your boycott of Carbonite, gritting your teeth because they're a company that's actually creating jobs in America?
It's a pretty simple choice, really. It all boils down to one question: Do you hate Rush Limbaugh so much that you'll punish his sponsors even at the cost of Americans jobs?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Share the Road, My Ass

Okay, I get the "Ride Your Bike to Work Day" thing. I really do. And I understand that bicyclists have just as much right to use the road as drivers.

But "share the road" doesn't mean "hog the road." A pair of bicyclists doing 12 mph in the middle of winding, one-lane MacArthur Boulevard - where the speed limit is 40, where there is little opportunity to pass (solid double yellow line), and where there is a beautifully-maintained, sparsely-used  bike path running parallel to the road - aren't on the road because that's the best place for them to be. They're doing it because they're allowed to, and everyone else can go screw themselves.

Yeah, I'm talking to you, dipshit

You too, jerkwad.

Okay, bicyclists, if you're not going to use your bike trails, then next time you want one built with my tax money, expect me to raise unholy hell.

Maybe I'll start driving on your bike trail. Hey, share the road, right?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Think We'll Be Drilling for More Oil Any Time Soon?

President Obama, until recently, maintained that oil companies have plenty of capacity onshore and offshore. So there's no need to sell new leases while a bunch of current leases aren't producing anything.

Then he read the polls and figured it was time to fool your local newspapers again:
Amid growing public unhappiness over gas prices, President Barack Obama is directing his administration to ramp up U.S. oil production by extending existing leases in the Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska’s coast and holding more frequent lease sales in a federal petroleum reserve in Alaska....
Answering the call of Republicans and Democrats from Gulf Coast states, Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address that he would extend all Gulf leases that were affected by a temporary moratorium on drilling imposed after last year’s BP oil spill. That would give companies additional time to begin drilling.
The administration had been granting extensions case by case, but senior administration officials said the Interior Department would institute a blanket one-year extension.
New safety requirements put in place since the BP spill also have delayed drilling in Alaska, so Obama said he would extend lease terms there for a year as well. An oil lease typically runs 10 years.
Lease sales in the western and central Gulf of Mexico that were postponed last year will be held by the middle of next year, the same time period required by the House. A sale off the Virginia coast still would not happen until 2017 at the earliest. But Obama said he would speed up environmental reviews so that seismic studies to determine how much oil and gas lies off the Atlantic Coast can begin.
To further expedite drilling off the Alaskan coast, where such plans by Shell Oil Co. have been delayed by an air pollution permit, Obama said he would create an interagency task force to coordinate the necessary approvals. He also will hold annual lease sales in the vast National Petroleum Reserve on Alaska’s North Slope...
Woo-hoo! Drill, baby, drill!

Um, not so fast.

Just because the government permits you to look for oil on land you've leased doesn't mean you can just stick a derrick in the ground at any random point and start sucking up millions of barrels of light sweet crude. Oil isn't spread equally beneath the ground, or somehow pre-deposited to the plots the government decides to lease to the oil companies. Before an oil company can drill, it must conduct seismic and geological tests to find the oil. This requires time and money - lots of money.

Let's just say the tests of a field show there's oil that can be economically recovered. That means the lease owner can get to work and start drilling, right?


A lot of those supposedly "idle" leases spend years waiting on environmental and other permitting reviews or lawsuits. The industry pays the government for leases that may or may not be valuable at auction, and it then pays royalties on any oil that is eventually produced.

Have a look at the story I linked to at the top of this page. There's all kinds of stuff in there about selling leases to the oil companies. But there's not one single word about speeding up the permitting process.

In any case, why should President Obama be upset that those stupid old oil companies aren't drilling on land they've leased? Seems to me that someone as green as he claims to be would just love to lease land out in the knowledge that the renters aren't going to destroy the earth by digging holes in it. Isn't that every landlord's dream—to have a tenant who pays rent and never moves in?

Now, this past week, the (Republican-controlled) House of Representatives voted to speed up the permitting process. If you still think the Obama administration wants to drill for more oil, click here to see what it thinks of speeding up the permitting process. Then tell me you really believe the (Democrat-controlled) Senate will pass that permitting bill.

You are not going to see any new drilling any time soon.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

More Hate From Right-Wing Talk Radio

Where would we be without taxpayer-supported public radio? Well, just ask the people whose Tuscaloosa, Alabama homes were destroyed by tornadoes a couple of weeks ago:
The tornado that tore through here late last month left 41 dead and 12 still missing. Whole neighborhoods now resemble bombed-out postwar Tokyo or Berlin. But this devastation is only part of the story. Tuscaloosa is now the scene of an inspiring volunteer relief effort taking place without the guidance of any central planner...
Other than churches, much of the strength of Tuscaloosa's extensive mutual aid comes from an unlikely source: right wing talk radio. The four Tuscaloosa Clear Channel stations have pre-empted their normal fare of Rush, Hannity and top 40 songs to serve as a relief clearinghouse through simulcasts. Gigi South, the local market manager for Tuscaloosa Clear Channel, says that it was her decision to begin the simulcasts.
It was hard to do otherwise. Employees saw demolished neighborhoods outside their windows and the desperate calls for help came in almost immediately. Because many residents lost power and were unable charge cell phones, battery-operated and car radios often became their only form of communication.
These stations have only 12 full-time employees among them, but they've have had a vast impact. The on-air jocks have taken on grueling shifts, sometimes working 10 hours straight.

The goal of the simulcasts is simple: Connect givers and victims and allow them to exchange information. According to Ms. South, "this whole thing has been about connecting listener to listener. They are the ones doing this. We're just the conduit."

Ms. South is being modest. In many cases, people have dropped off goods—sometimes dozens of cooked meals—at the station's door. The on-air jocks have rushed them to those in need. The higher-ups at Clear Channel have fully supported the local initiative to pre-empt normal programming and have provided generators and engineers to keep the stations on the air round the clock.

In a typical pattern, someone calls in to express a need for a particular area or group. Fifteen minutes later, the same listener relates that 10 people showed up and offered their services. Churches and other groups often call in to specify a shortage of particular goods, such as bug spray and suntan lotion for volunteers, and an excess of others, such as diapers. This allows givers to tailor their donations. Wal-Mart and other businesses call in to offer free prescriptions, charging stations for cell phones, and trucks to remove debris upon request.

In one particularly moving case, a worn-out relief coordinator for an outlying trailer park broadcast a desperate appeal. She had been cooking meals for several undocumented Hispanics living in tents who were afraid to go to the authorities. She was heartbroken because she wanted to visit her mother in Mississippi who had suffered a stroke, but she feared leaving her neighbors unaided.

Within minutes, two nurses, translators, and other volunteers were on the scene. The simulcast now includes brief Spanish language announcements. And listeners, even if they are normally angered about illegal immigration, show no hesitation in lending a hand in such cases.

Although Tuscaloosa Clear Channel normally caters to a white, conservative audience, grateful listeners often make tearful calls from predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods like Alberta that bore the brunt of the tornado. No other radio or television stations in the community, public or private, have come close to matching this effort.
Next time your liberal friends tell you that right-wing talk radio is full of racist haters, point them here. And then ask them to comment on the last sentence above: No other radio or television stations in the community, public or private, have come close to matching this effort.

What would we do without taxpayer-supported public radio? Ask the people of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Monday, May 2, 2011

While We're Celebrating the Death of the Worst Man In The World...

With the success of the mission to turn Osama bin Laden into crab food, President Obama at least momentarily yields the title of Worst President Ever back to Jimmy Carter.

Carter, meanwhile, solidifies his standing as Worst Ex-President Ever by blaming the U.S. for starvation in North Korea:
"There are human rights issues that relate to the policies of the North Korean government, which I don't think any of us on the outside can change," Mr. Carter said. "But one of the most important human rights is to have food to eat. For the South Koreans and the Americans and others to deliberately withhold food aid to the North Korean people because of political or military issues not related is really a human rights violation."
I'm waiting for the United Nations Human Rights Council to pass a resolution condemning the U.S. Maybe Jimmy can write up the draft for them.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Jed Clampett Time Travel Theory

Here's what would happen today if a poor mountaineer who could barely keep his family fed struck oil, courtesy of Place it on Lucky Dan:
While hunting, Jed strikes oil on his worthless swamp land. Assuming he has a permit for the firearm, was hunting in season and there are no issues with Fish and Game, before the oil company can purchase the land and cut Jed a check, the EPA must first examine the property damage caused by the spill. Penniless, Jed can't possibly afford the legal battle and isn't allowed to sell the oil to pay the outrageous fines. Attorneys for an oil company interesting in the property agree to represent him in what turns out to be a 15-year court battle. Forced to cap the well until the case is resolved, Jed battles a steady stream of lawsuits from environmental groups, one of which discovers a rare strain of mosquito larva roughly 500 feet from the first proposed derrick site. The property is zoned as a "protected watershed and sensitive wildlife habitat" and the case is dismissed before it reaches the Supreme Court.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

How Rush Limbaugh Helped Me Get Flowers For My Mom On Mother's Day

I un-friended a Facebook friend a little while back. She's what I would normally call a very nice lady. It's just that she's anti-American.

She posted a link on her Facebook page to one of those "Boycott Rush Limbaugh's Sponsors to Shut Him Down!" websites. She suggested that we, her Facebook friends, go to it. Look up Limbaugh's advertisers, and let them know that we would not buy their products as long as they bought advertising on his program.

I told my friend I didn't like this. It's one thing to not buy a product because you don't like the product, or you like another one better. We all make that kind of decision every single day. But this is different. This is saying, "We don't like what Rush Limbaugh has to say, and not only are we going to make sure that we don't listen to him, we're going to try to make sure that nobody can listen to him. And we're not going to do it by proving to everyone that he's 100% wrong every time he opens his mouth. We're not going to do it by mustering facts and logic and overwhelming him with the unassailable force of our argument.

"No, we're going to shut him down by threatening anyone who does business with him."

I told my friend this struck me as un-American. This is supposed to be a country where everyone can freely exchange ideas and opinions, without being threatened with death, either physical or professional. This is supposed to be a country where we can associate freely with whomever we want, and not be threatened with death, either physical or professional. This is supposed to be a country where we admire Voltaire's apocryphal claim that, "I disagree with everything you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it."

Some so-called liberals evidently disagree. "Free speech for me, not for thee," is their motto.

My Facebook friend persisted in her postings, however. I decided I didn't want to get into an ugly argument with her over it (it's happened before, years ago, when a supposedly tolerant liberal friend of mine disagreed with me on another issue, and emailed me that he never wanted to hear from me again). So I un-friended her. Maybe she'll notice someday and ask me why.

So anyway, yesterday, I had the radio on, tuned to Limbaugh's show, and they had a commercial break for Limbaugh said if you go to, you could get a special deal on Mother's Day flowers.

So, mindful of the fact that may be losing customers because they advertise on Limbaugh's show, and always looking for a deal, I went to, and ordered flowers for my mom for Mother's Day. She got them a week early because there was a good chance she would have to be out of town later in the week. She loves the flowers.

Of course, any liberals who find out about this will probably damn me to hell. Sorry. But when you say you think forcibly shutting someone up is a good idea, where do you stop? Do you threaten those who do business with anyone you disapprove of? If you're going to forcibly shut Limbaugh up, are you going to burn his books, too?

And after you've burned his books, are you going to stop there? Or do you start burning people?

Sorry, but I won't have any of that - and I'm not going to have anything to do with that kind of person. My ancestors came to America because of people like that - and would be pretty disgusted to find that they still exist here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

EPA Makes Another Entry Onto the List of Places You Can't Drill For Oil

Shell Oil Company has announced it must scrap efforts to drill for oil this summer in the Arctic Ocean off the northern coast of Alaska. The decision comes following a ruling by the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board to withhold critical air permits. The move has angered some in Congress and triggered a flurry of legislation aimed at stripping the EPA of its oil drilling oversight.
Shell has spent five years and nearly $4 billion dollars on plans to explore for oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The leases alone cost $2.2 billion. Shell Vice President Pete Slaiby says obtaining similar air permits for a drilling operation in the Gulf of Mexico would take about 45 days. He’s especially frustrated over the appeal board’s suggestion that the Arctic drill would somehow be hazardous for the people who live in the area. “We think the issues were really not major,” Slaiby said, “and clearly not impactful for the communities we work in.”
The closest village to where Shell proposed to drill is Kaktovik, Alaska. It is one of the most remote places in the United States. According to the latest census, the population is 245 and nearly all of the residents are Alaska natives. The village, which is 1 square mile, sits right along the shores of the Beaufort Sea, 70 miles away from the proposed off-shore drill site.
The EPA’s appeals board ruled that Shell had not taken into consideration emissions from an ice-breaking vessel when calculating overall greenhouse gas emissions from the project. Environmental groups were thrilled by the ruling.
“What the modeling showed was in communities like Kaktovik, Shell’s drilling would increase air pollution levels close to air quality standards,” said Eric Grafe, Earthjustice’s lead attorney on the case.
Thrilled. No doubt. A few points:
  • You wonder why Shell would need an icebreaker in the first place, since the environmentalists who are so thrilled by the ruling have been furiously telling us that the polar bears are all going to die because the ice cap is melting.
  • Shell is out $4 billion not because the drilling would increase pollution to unacceptable levels. Shell is out $4 billion because the drilling would increase pollution to close to unacceptable levels.
  • That $4 billion is a cost of doing business that Shell factors into the price you pay at the pump. Remember that next time you fill up - if you can afford to fill up.

End of the Birther Controvesy? Not If Obama and His BFFs Have Anything to Say About It

I've read some stuff that's saying that Trump forced Obama's hand, that Obama wanted to hold off revealing his long-form birth certificate until he could do the most damage with it, like during a presidential debate after an opponent raised the issue. The thinking is that he revealed it today because it's starting to hurt in the polls, and he needs something to distract you from high gas prices. But now that he's shot his wad, he has to search frantically for something - anything - else to distract you.

My take: Yeah, maybe. The problem is that the true whacko birthers won't say, "Okay, looks like he was born in the U.S.," and STFU. The drive-by media, finding the budget process too complex for their simple minds to write about intelligently, will instead produce a fistful of stories about die-hard birthers, who wouldn't be persuaded if they saw movie footage of Obama's birth. The press will identify them as right-wing teabaggers, and Obama has his phony issue.

Remember that all of Obama's speeches are deliberately peppered with fallacies of logic - his alleged deficit-reduction speech (I say alleged because he provided no evidence that he had a serious plan to reduce the deficit - see my line-by-line analysis below) was a masterpiece of the genre. With the press keeping the birther story alive by printing stories about the die-hard whackos, and pointing out they're generally conservatives, Obama can use a hasty generalization fallacy, the form of which is:

A is an X
A is also a Y
Therefore all X are Y.

Joe is a conservative;
Joe is also a whacko birther;
Therefore all conservatives are whacko birthers.

You can already hear him at a campaign rally: "My opponents have some pretty crazy ideas. They think the super-rich need more tax cuts. They think we shouldn't honor the guarantee of Social Security. They think we can get rid of Medicare and tell your grandma she's on her own. They can even look at my birth certificate from Hawaii and claim I wasn't born in the U.S. I don't know which of those ideas is the craziest."

Of course, Obama claims today that we have much more pressing issues to deal with than birther silliness. Anyone care to give odds that, accordingly, he and his minions and the drive-by media are through with this issue?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Skyrocketing Energy Prices? Obama Promised - Don't Say He Didn't Deliver

Just filled up my '07 Ford Taurus and my Mastercard got hit for $62.61.

Well, with U.S. offshore oil production expected to drop 13% this year, I guess that's to be expected; economics 101 taught me that if you reduce the supply of something, either the price is going to go up or demand will go down, or both.

You may hate this and I may hate this, but President Obama thinks it's just peachy. He was trying to sell his cap-and-trade scheme a whole year before he became president, and promised you it would hit you in your wallet. Remember?
You know, when I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, uh, you know — Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it — whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, uh, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.
A couple of points:
  1. Power companies wouldn't pass money on to consumers. They would pass costs on to consumers. Just as they (and every other business) will pass on any new taxes Obama cooks up for them in the coming years.
  2. "Wait," you say, "he's talking about coal, not gasoline. And didn't Congress shoot down cap-and-trade last year anyway?"
Yes they did. That isn't stopping Obama from shutting down coal operations. He's getting the EPA to do it, because they don't really have to answer to anyone. Again, go back to economics 101; when there is less of something, the price goes up. When there is less coal, the price of coal goes up. Who pays the extra cost of that coal? If you answered, "the power companies that use it," go back to point 1) above and this time make your lips move while you read it. You will pay it. You won't see it itemized in your utility bill, but it's in there.

So when you get the same sick feeling in your stomach when you open your utility bill that you get when you pull up to the gas pump, don't be surprised. Your president told you he was going to do this. Maybe you didn't believe him then.

Do you believe him now?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fox Attacked Your Cats? That'll Cost You a Hundred Dollars.

Some months ago I promised to write about our local experience with the EFTA – Easier For Them Association – and got lazy and stupid let myself get sidetracked. So here it is. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is written as a series of journal entries; my EFTA tale is in the form of a series of (lightly-edited) emails that got posted to our neighborhood listserv. Names have been changed to protect the innocent, as well as myself, since you never know when the EFTA might decide harassing a blogger is a more productive use of its time than serving the public.

Email from Margaret Lake, 9/8/2010 11:34 AM:
One of our cats was attacked by a fox at about 7:45 am this past Sunday morning.  He is fine, but is under quarantine for 45 (long) days.  This took place in our front yard maybe 10 feet from our kitchen door.   The fox did not look sick or strange, so we hope it is not rabid.  Animal control does not seem too interested in catching the fox – they gave us a trap but made my husband sign a contract that stated we would not use it at night and would monitor it once an hour.  Foxes are nocturnal, so I don’t think we’re going to catch one.

Right now we are trying to determine if my husband and son were possibly exposed to rabies through the saliva that was on our cat when they picked him up to go to the vet.

It is so interesting to me that the same city government that has consistently allowed development of any tracts of land (Cameron Station, Potomac Yards, Eisenhower Avenue, etc.) thus destroying natural habitats is unwilling to relocate the displaced wild animals. 

So be careful of your cats and small dogs early in the morning.

Margaret Lake --

I posted, the same day:
I detect the stealthy work of the EFTA - the Easier For Them Association.

According to John Derbyshire  (tongue only slightly in cheek):
The aim of this secret brotherhood is to infiltrate all organizations whose chartered purpose is to serve the public in some way. Once they have taken up key positions in such an organization, the EFTA moles then set about subverting all its processes and procedures — enlisting the aid of corrupt or unsuspecting legislators when necessary — so that the work of the organization, instead of being oriented towards true public service, is re-directed towards the ease and comfort of the organization's employees...

It's hard for EFTA to make much headway against the logic of the market. In the public sector, on the other hand, EFTA really comes into its own. You just have to pick up a newspaper to see them at work.

...or call Alexandria's Animal Control Office about a dangerous fox in your neighborhood.

Margaret Lake again, a couple of days later:
Our cat is recovering from his brush with the fox Sunday morning, but unfortunately today I came home to a ticket from Animal Control for $100 because I do not have licenses for my cats.  I did not know I needed them.  I adopted these cats from the city shelter (for $300+) and nobody there told me I needed licenses.  Everyone who lives in our house (5 people) had to go to the shelter for an interview, then we had a home visit, but they never mentioned licenses.  They told me how many litter boxes I should have (one in each bathroom) and that I probably shouldn’t have a Christmas tree, but nothing about a license.

So please go get a $2 license so you don’t get the $50 fine.

Margaret Lake

Me again:
Consider, for example, the current* condition of the State of Maryland under State Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr.... Curran has declared his intention that Maryland should become the first state in the Union to outlaw handgun ownership in all but the most restricted circumstances. One of his key strategies has been to have state police build a database of all convictions in the state, for any offense at all going back to the 1960s, and then to deny handgun licenses to anyone convicted of anything punishable by more than two years in jail, regardless of the actual sentence handed down by the court. An upright, conscientious, and law-abiding citizen of Maryland can now be denied a handgun license because he spent a night in jail following a barroom scuffle 30 years ago. This is, of course, an idiotic policy, but look at it from the cops' point of view. Which would you rather spend your working day doing: chasing dangerous criminals down alleys, or sitting in a pleasant air-conditioned office trawling through a database for 30-year-old misdemeanors? Easier for Them, you see.

*(Candide’s note - circa 2002).
Which would you rather spend your working day doing: trapping and subduing a possibly rabid fox, or sitting in a pleasant air-conditioned office writing out $100 worth of tickets to Margaret Lake because she hadn't paid the city two dollars for each of her two kitties? Easier for Them, you see.

Margaret, when Cunegonde and I tried adopting a cat from the city shelter a few years ago, we were told we would have to sign an agreement to not let the cat outdoors. The shelter employee told me, rather haughtily, "You don't see the kinds of injuries cats have when people bring them in to us." I thought, "What idiot brings an injured cat to an animal shelter instead of an animal hospital emergency room?" An unkind city employee might decide that you are a clear and present danger to your cats because you let them outside. You may in fact have more fines coming.

We thought this requirement was ludicrous and refused to sign the agreement. We then went to a feline rescue place and adopted Samoa, AKA (to me) Lucretia McEvil, and (to Cunegonde) as "My BAY-bee!"

On 9/10/2010, our neighborhood’s local police liaison, Captain Edward Furney, chimed in, addressing me directly:
Mr. Candide,

I personally, as do my fellow officers work very hard to enforce the laws enacted by the Council and the Legislature. The Council and the Legislature are chosen by the Citizenry, and by default the laws are made by you, we, us. As you know, we (the Police) do not make the law, nor do we have the right, nor should we, to choose the laws we enforce. This holds true for Animal Control Officers as well. They have been and continue to be the primary protectors of helpless animals and they have my utmost respect.

P.S.: Cats do in fact have to be licensed in the City.

Ed Furney
Alexandria Police

I am nothing if not combative, but I do appreciate the job the police do, and replied:
Captain Furney -

Anyone who regularly reads our neighborhood listserv knows that I have had a longstanding mini-crusade to have my neighbors deal with their own problems whenever possible, and not to call the police for every little incident they find irksome, whether it's dog owners not cleaning up after their pets, or high school students parking all day on the street in front of their houses. That's because I understand - and appreciate - exactly what you mean when you say you and the rest of the police force work very hard to enforce the laws. Maybe we pay taxes, but that doesn't justify calling the city every time we fall and get a boo-boo on our collective knee. I don't want people asking the police to waste their time running down high school parking scofflaws when a windshield note may well take care of the problem (and I'll bet if a second note is required, a strong hint that the homeowner has the local towing service on speed dial would work wonders).

That having been said, this fox incident strikes me as having been a piece of bad public relations on the city's part. Ms. Lake contacted animal control about what she believed might be a genuine public health problem, and was essentially told the city wouldn't do anything about it, that she should do it herself, imposed onerous restrictions on how she might deal with the problem, and then issued her $100 in citations for what amounted to the equivalent of jaywalking. Evidently the animal control people who didn't have the resources to find that fox weren't too busy to check with her vet to see if her cats were licensed.

You read that people mistrust their government, but you think, "Well, maybe on the national or state level, but we should be able to at least trust our city government - we're all neighbors." When someone asks to have a genuine, potentially serious problem looked into, and instead gets the back of the city's hand and ends up getting fined for her troubles, you start to wonder what kind of problems you SHOULD contact the city about.

I don't know how you go about finding and trapping a fox, and maybe animal control doesn't either - they're wild animals, after all, and go pretty much wherever they want; this guy could be in Springfield by now. But when someone asks the city if they can take care of it, she shouldn't end up thinking she'd have been better off if she'd just kept her mouth shut.

BTW, I wasn't aware that animal control was part of the police department.
-- Candide

Thursday, April 21, 2011

President Obama Thinks You're a Feckless Dumbass

President Obama gave a speech at George Washington University not long ago that was supposed to outline his plan to reduce the deficit and save our economy.
I found a transcript of the speech, and have annotated it for your edification. This is a president who does not believe  believe that Americans are self-reliant and can handle their own problems. He does believe that success or failure in life are simply a matter of dumb luck, and that if you've been lucky, you owe it to the government to give a lot more tax money to it. Don't believe me? Read the speech; my annotations are in red.

OBAMA: It is wonderful to be back at G.W. I want you to know that one of the reasons that I worked so hard with Democrats and Republicans to keep the government open was so that I could show up here today.
I want to make sure that all of you had one more excuse to skip class.
You're welcome.
I want to give a special thanks to Steven Knapp, the president of G.W. I just saw him. Where is he?
There he is, right here.
I want to -- we've got a lot of distinguished guests here. A couple of people I want to acknowledge.
First of all, my outstanding vice president, Joe Biden, is here.
Our secretary of the treasury, Tim Geithner, is in the house.
Jack Lew, the director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Gene Sperling, chair of the National Economic Council, is here.
Members of our bipartisan fiscal commission are here, including the two outstanding chairs -- Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson are here.
And we have a number of members of Congress here today. I'm grateful for all of you taking the time to attend.
What we've been debating here in Washington over the last few weeks will affect the lives of the students here and families all across America in potentially profound ways.
This debate over budgets and deficits is about more than just numbers on a page, it's about more than just cutting and spending. It's about the kind of future that we want.
It's about the kind of country that we believe in. And that's what I want to spend some time talking about today.
From our first days as a nation, we have put our faith in free markets and free enterprise as the engine of America's wealth and prosperity.
Keep this statement in mind as you read, because he repeatedly says he does not believe in free markets and free enterprise.

And more than citizens of any other country, we are rugged individualists, a self-reliant people with a healthy skepticism of too much government.
Again, keep this in mind, because he says, again, repeatedly, that he does not believe we are a nation of self-reliant rugged individuals. He believes that your success or failure in life is purely a matter of luck.

But there has always been another thread running through our history: a belief that we're all connected and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation.
We believe, in the words of the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, that through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves.
Note the "as well" above. He doesn't think government should just do what individuals, groups, or businesses can't do at all; he's saying government should also do things that it can do better. And how do you find out whether government can do better? You start a little program, then when it doesn't do as well as the private sector, you claim that it just needs more funding. And more funding. And more funding. All government programs need more funding, in the liberals' eyes. Except for national defense, which always needs less. Eventually, your little government program has grown to monstrous size with monstrous consequences. The KKK could not have come up with a better plan to destroy the black family than our welfare system, which was somehow supposed to be better than private charity.

And so we've built a strong military to keep us secure, and public schools and universities to educate our citizens.
Is he saying public schools are better than private ones? Who knew? Why doesn't he send his daughters to public schools, then?

We've laid down railroads and highways to facilitate travel and commerce.
We've supported the work of scientists and researchers whose discoveries have saved lives, unleashed repeated technological revolutions, and led to countless new jobs and entire new industries.
"Countless" new jobs - another way of saying, "I have no idea how many jobs have been created by government spending."

Each of us has benefited from these investments, and we're a more prosperous country as a result.
Please note - whenever a politician uses the word "investment," he is lying. "Investment" means putting X dollars down in the hope that one will get X+Y dollars back, in Z time.  As any first-year managerial accounting student can explain, you need all three of those numbers to calculate your return on investment. When a politician uses the word "investment" without those three numbers, he is simply trying to pick your pocket and give you a vague  sense that you're going to be better off for his having done so.

Now, part of this American belief that we're all connected also expresses itself in a conviction that each one of us deserves some basic measure of security and dignity.
That is a lie. Nobody deserves anything they do not own. If everyone deserves security, then nobody should have to pay for it. McDonald's slogan used to be "You deserve a break today," the implication being that you have somehow done something to earn it - you worked hard, so you deserve a reward. Does anyone deserve security if he has deliberately spent his entire life being a leech on society?

The only security everyone is entitled to is the security described in the Preamble to the Constitution - the security of the common defense, justice, and so forth. The Preamble says nothing about housing, or food, or medical care, and doesn't even imply it. Because if everyone was entitled to food, shelter, and medical care, then nobody could be forced to pay for it. And if nobody is going to pay for it, you're not going to have it. Again, you only deserve what you earn.

We recognize that, no matter how responsibly we live our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff may strike any one of us. "There but for the grace of God go I," we say to ourselves.
This goes back to what I wrote earlier - Obama does not believe we are a nation of self-reliant, rugged individualists. Bad luck can happen to anyone - and eventually hits everyone. But some people are better-prepared to deal with it. Obama would have you believe it's just dumb luck. But if you've lived your life responsibly, you are far more likely to weather the storm than someone who has not. Homelessness is far less often a matter of bad luck than of disastrous career choices. If you drop out of school, get into drugs and alcohol, have children you can't support, and decide a life of crime is just the ticket, then you are far more likely to end up homeless than if you made none of those choices. If you buy a house that you can afford only if absolutely nothing bad ever happens to you and your family - no job loss, no illnesses, etc., - you are far more likely to lose that house than if you bought one you could actually afford - or didn't buy a house at all. And if you decide to have children whether you can afford to pay for health insurance or not, you will run into huge medical expenses at some point. That's not bad luck; that's simple stupidity.

But Obama paints the picture that terrible bolts from the blue can strike anyone, any time, and leave them helpless to deal with it.

And so we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security, which guarantee us health care and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work; unemployment insurance, which protects us against unexpected job loss; and Medicaid, which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, those with disabilities.
Social Security guarantees "a measure of basic income?" That is a lie. The benefit formula has been changed numerous times through the years, various types of benefits have been cut back, eliminated, or not indexed to inflation, and both the Social Security tax (FICA) rate and tax base have increased dramatically over the years. And even Obama admits the system will go broke if nothing is done (though this speech says nothing about how to fix it). Some guarantee.

We're a better country because of these commitments.
I'll go further: We would not be a great country without those commitments.
So until 1935, when the Social Security Act was signed, America was not a great country. Pardon me while I pick my jaw up off the floor.

And for much of the last century, our nation found a way to afford these investments and priorities with the taxes paid by its citizens. As a country that values fairness, wealthier individuals have traditionally borne a greater share of this burden than the middle class or those less fortunate; everybody pays, but the wealthier have borne a little more.
"...everybody pays, but the wealthier have borne a little more." This lie is a whopper.
For starts, everybody does not pay. Almost half of all households pay no federal income tax at all. That's right - throw a rock at a residence and the chances are 50-50 that nobody in it pays federal income tax.
And the wealthier have not "borne a little more." The wealthier have borne a lot more. The top 1% of earners pay about 40% of all individual federal income taxes; the top 5% pay 60%.
"The wealthier have borne a little more." That's like saying Japan makes a few more cars than Cuba.

This is not because we begrudge those who've done well. We rightly celebrate their success.
Instead, it's a basic reflection of our belief that those who benefited most from our way of life can afford to give back a little -- a little bit more.
Give back to whom? The only reasonable answer is, "to those who helped make me successful." Okay, my parents who raised me right and worked hard to give me a good home and get a good education; maybe my employer, who provides me with good working conditions and a useful job. But thinking about that second one - we agreed when I was hired what I would give him and what he would give me. I would give him the best work I could, and he would give me money. So really, there's no reason for me to "give back" anything to my employer, any more than there is any reason for him to “give back” anything to me. Maybe IBM and Bill Gates, who, as the fathers of the microcomputer revolution, made it possible for me to get that good job; if they (or someone else) hadn't invented the microprocessor and its operating system, the world would be a very different place today.

But Obama is suggesting that those of us who have been successful should give back to the government, by paying even more taxes, even though, as pointed out above, we already pay much more than those who have not been successful.

And note Obama says, "a little bit more." Remember that to Obama, "a little more" means "a stunning amount more." As in, the wealthy pay a little bit more in taxes than the poor. It's always "a little bit more" to the leftists - just a little bit more money for education and our kids will all graduate from MIT; just a little bit more in Social Security and Medicare taxes and the systems will be solvent forever.  Liberals assure us all that The Promised Land is just over the horizon - except that like the real horizon, you never seem to get there.

Moreover, this belief hasn't hindered the success of those at the top of the income scale. They continue to do better and better with each passing year.
"... in spite of our best efforts..."

Now, at certain times -- particularly during war or recession -- our nation has had to borrow money to pay for some of our priorities. And as most families understand, a little credit card debt isn't going to hurt, if it's temporary.
But as far back as the 1980s, America started amassing debt at more alarming levels, and our leaders began to realize that a larger challenge was on the horizon.
Those leaders are called "conservatives." I defy you to name a single liberal who was sounding the alarm about the national debt in the 1980s.

They knew that eventually, the baby boom generation would retire, which meant a much bigger portion of our citizens would be relying on programs like Medicare, Social Security and possibly Medicaid.
Like parents with young children who know they have to start saving for the college years, America had to start borrowing less and saving more to prepare for the retirement of an entire generation.
To meet this challenge, our leaders came together three times during the 1990s to reduce our nation's deficit -- three times. They forged historic agreements that required tough decisions made by the first President Bush, then made by President Clinton, by Democratic Congresses and by a Republican Congress.
All three agreements asked for shared responsibility and shared sacrifice, but they largely protected the middle class, they largely protected our commitments to seniors, they protected our key investments in our future.
There's that word, "investments" again. Hold on to your wallet.

By "shared responsibility," Obama means, "among the 50% of the population that actually pay income taxes." Think about this: Obama is saying half the country has no responsibility for the costs of running the government. Half the country must work to provide all the government services for the other half.
This is what I mean when I say Obama does not believe we are a nation of self-reliant, rugged individualists. He believes half the population of the United States of America needs to be taken care of by the other half. Half the people in this country are so bad off, are so feckless, that they can not contribute a single dime to the cost of running the country. And it's not because they have made catastrophic career choices - dropping out of school, crime, drugs, single parenthood; it's just dumb luck. "There but for the grace of God..."

As a result of these bipartisan efforts, America's finances were in great shape by the year 2000. We went from deficit to surplus. America was actually on track to becoming completely debt-free, and we were prepared for the retirement of the baby boomers.
Nonsense. America's finances were in great shape because of the dot-com bubble. Things went to hell pretty quickly when it popped.

But after Democrats and Republicans committed to fiscal discipline during the 1990s, we lost our way in the decade that followed. We increased spending dramatically for two wars and an expensive prescription drug program, but we didn't pay for any of this new spending.
Ah yes, the prescription drug program. Bush wanted a $400 billion program; Democrats howled that he wanted to kill your grandma, and upped the price to $500 billion.
And we didn't increase spending just for two wars (three now, or is Obama saying the Libya war is paid for?). We increased spending for everything under the sun - new items and old. People have already forgotten that the 2009 budget was $200 billion more than Pelosi/Reid's previous record, that the 2010 was another $500 billion above that, and the 2011 budget another $200 billion above that.

Instead we made the problem worse with trillions of dollars in unpaid-for tax cuts; tax cuts that went to every millionaire and billionaire in the country; tax cuts that will force us to borrow an average of $500 billion every year over the next decade.

To give you an idea of how much damage this caused to our nation's checkbook, consider this.
In the last decade, if we had simply found a way to pay for the tax cuts and the prescription drug benefit, our deficit would currently be at low historical levels in the coming years.
What Obama meant to say was, "In the last decade, if the increase in federal spending had simply continued at the rate it had been for the previous 35 years, our deficit would currently be at low historical levels in the coming years."

But that's not what happened. And so, by the time I took office, we once again found ourselves deeply in debt and unprepared for a baby boom retirement that is now starting to take place.
So have you bitch-slapped Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid for jacking up the federal spending the moment they took over both houses of Congress?

When I took office, our projected deficit annually was more than $1 trillion. On top of that, we faced a terrible financial crisis and a recession that, like most recessions, led us to temporarily borrow even more.
By "temporarily," he means, "for at least another twelve years."

In this case, we took a series of emergency steps that saved millions of jobs, kept credit flowing, and provided working families extra money in their pocket. It was absolutely the right thing to do, but these steps were expensive and added to our deficits in the short term.
"Saved millions of jobs." He's been making that claim since almost the day he took office, yet has never offered a scintilla of proof other than some computer models, which, as we all know, can be designed to prove that 1 = 2.

So that's how our fiscal challenge was created. That's how we got here. And now that our economic recovery is gaining strength, Democrats and Republicans must come together and restore the fiscal responsibility that served us so well in the 1990s.
What, another dot-com boom?

We have to live within our means. We have to reduce our deficit. And we have to get back on a path that will allow us to pay down our debt.
You're right. I eagerly await the specifics of your plan to do this.

And we have to do it in a way that protects the recovery, protects the investments we need to grow, creates jobs, and helps us win the future.
I know by "investments," he means, "money we're going to take from you because trust us, you'll thank us for it later.” I don't know what the hell he means by "win the future." I submit that he doesn't know either.

Now, before I get into how we can achieve this goal, some of you, particularly the younger people here -- you don't qualify, Joe...
(Someone nudge Joe, tell him he needs to wake up...)
... some of you might be wondering, "Why is this so important? Why does this matter to me?"

Well, here's why.
Even after our economy recovers, our government will still be on track to spend more money than it takes in throughout this decade and beyond. That means we'll have to keep borrowing more from countries like China.
That means more of your tax dollars each year will go towards paying off the interest on all of the loans that we keep taking out. By the end of this decade, the interest that we owe on our debt could rise to nearly $1 trillion. Think about that. That's the interest, just the interest payments.
Then, as the baby boomers start to retire in greater numbers and health care costs continue to rise, the situation will get even worse.
By 2025, the amount of taxes we currently pay will only be enough to finance our health care programs, Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security, and the interest we owe on our debt. That's it. Every other national priority -- education, transportation, even our national security -- will have to be paid for with borrowed money.
Now, ultimately all this rising debt will cost us jobs and damage our economy. It will prevent us from making the investments we need to win the future.
We won't be able to afford good schools, new research, or the repair of roads; all the things that create new jobs and businesses here in America.
Good schools? What does the federal government have to do with building schools?
And what do you mean by "all the things that create new jobs and businesses here in America?" What does the government do that creates jobs? All it does is hire some people and tell the rest, "pay the salaries." Please point out to me the wealth that government creates.

Businesses will be less likely to invest and open shop in a country that seems unwilling or unable to balance its books. And if our creditors start worrying that we may be unable to pay back our debts, that could drive up interest rates for everybody who borrows money, making it harder for businesses to expand and hire or families to take out a mortgage.
Here's the good news: That doesn't have to be our future; that doesn't have to be the country that we leave our children.
We can solve this problem. We came together as Democrats and Republicans to meet this challenge before; we can do it again. But that starts by being honest about what's causing our deficit.
You already told us: Bush's two wars and his Medicare drug plan. It's all Bush's fault.

You see, most Americans tend to dislike government spending in the abstract, but like the stuff that it buys.
Well, no. I like aircraft carriers and interstate highways. But I don't like buying dairy price supports and regulations that tell businesses every friggin' detail about how they must operate and how much water my toilet can flush and what kind of light bulbs I must use.

Most of us, regardless of party affiliation, believe that we should have a strong military and a strong defense. Most Americans believe we should invest in education and medical research. Most Americans think we should protect commitments like Social Security and Medicare.
And without even looking at a poll, my finely honed political instincts tell me that almost nobody believes they should be paying higher taxes.
So because all this spending is popular with both Republicans and Democrats alike, and because nobody wants to pay higher taxes, politicians are often eager to feed the impression that solving the problem is just a matter of eliminating waste and abuse.
Well, yeah. That was one of your big selling points when you were trying to get us all to buy Obamacare. Were you lying?

You'll hear that phrase a lot: "We just need to eliminate waste and abuse."
Only from you, lately.

The implication is that tackling the deficit issue won't require tough choices.
Or politicians suggest that we can somehow close our entire deficit by eliminating things like foreign aid, even though foreign aid makes up about 1 percent of our entire federal budget.
This is one of Obama's favorite rhetorical tricks. He invents a silly position, then tells us his opponents believe it. It's a common fallacy of argument known as the "straw man" because instead of attacking your opponent's real, strong argument, you invent a weak, silly one, tell everyone that's what your opponent believes, and attack the straw man argument.
No sane person believes eliminating foreign aid, or funding for NPR, or for Planned Parenthood, will balance the budget. But a lot of sane people are saying that when the Obama deficit is bigger than any of Bill Clinton's entire budgets, maybe we can't afford those things.

So here's the truth.
Around two-thirds of our budget -- two-thirds -- is spent on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and national security -- two- thirds.
So that's where the first and biggest cuts are going to be made, right?

Programs like unemployment insurance, student loans, veterans' benefits and tax credits for working families take up another 20 percent.
So those programs will be hit when Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and defense have been straightened out?

What's left, after interest on the debt, is just 12 percent for everything else. That's 12 percent for all of our national priorities: education, clean energy, medical research, transportation, our national parks, food safety, keeping our air and water clean. You name it, all of that accounts for 12 percent of our budget.
Now, up 'til now, the debate here in Washington -- the cuts proposed by a lot of folks in Washington have focused almost exclusively on that 12 percent.
But cuts to that 12 percent alone won't solve the problem. So any serious plan to tackle our deficit will require us to put everything on the table and take on excess spending wherever it exists in the budget.
"Everything" is going to be on the table. Sounds good!

A serious plan doesn't require us to balance our budget overnight. In fact, economists think that with the economy just starting to grow again we need a phased-in approach. But it does require tough decisions and support from our leaders in both parties now. Above all, it will require us to choose a vision of the America we want to see five years, 10 years, 20 years down the road.
Now, to their credit, one vision has been presented and championed by Republicans in the House of Representatives and embraced by several of their party's presidential candidates. It's a plan that aims to reduce our deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years, and one that addresses the challenge of Medicare and Medicaid in the years after that.
Those are both worthy goals. They're worthy goals for us to achieve.
But the way this plan achieves those goals would lead to a fundamentally different America than the one we've known, certainly in my lifetime. In fact, I think it would be fundamentally different than what we've known throughout our history.
Well, weren’t you the guy who said when he became president, he was going to “fundamentally change” America? So what’s your problem?

A 70 percent cut in clean energy, a 25 percent cut in education, a 30 percent cut in transportation, cuts in college Pell Grants that will grow to more than $1,000 per year.
That's the proposal.
These aren't the kind of cuts you make when you're trying to get rid of some waste or find extra savings in the budget. These aren't the kind of cuts that the fiscal commission proposed.
Wait. You're telling us that we have to make hard decisions, but we can't cut Pell Grants?

These are the kind of cuts that tell us we can't afford the America that I believe in and I think you believe in.
Sorry, pal, I don't believe in the same America you believe in. I believe in America that doesn't have half the population unable to pay a dime towards the cost of running the country. I believe in America where people can meet and defeat challenges, not run crying to the government to solve every little problem they have. I believe Americans are strong. You obviously believe we are weak.

I believe it paints a vision of our future that is deeply pessimistic. It's a vision that says if our roads crumble and our bridges collapse, we can't afford to fix them; if there are bright young Americans who have the drive and the will but not the money to go to college, we can't afford to send them.
Another straw man. Your opponents say government can't solve all our problems; you twist that into, "you want everything to fall apart."

Go to China and you'll see businesses opening research labs and solar facilities.
South Korean children are outpacing our kids in math and science. They're scrambling to figure out how they put more money into education.
South Korean children are outpacing our kids in math and science and they're doing it even though their parents spend only about half what we spend on our kids' education. So the problem with our education isn't money, is it?

Brazil is investing billions in new infrastructure and can run half their cars not on high-priced gasoline, but on biofuels.
And yet, we are presented with a vision that says the American people, the United States of America, the greatest nation on Earth, can't afford any of this.
Okay, why don't we start by cutting our education spending back to the level of South Korea?

It's a vision that says America can't afford to keep the promise we've made to care for our seniors. It says that 10 years from now, if you're a 65-year-old who's eligible for Medicare, you should have to pay nearly $6,400 more than you would today.
Straw man again. Ryan's proposal says we're going to change Medicare to make it work better, so it doesn't go bankrupt, and Obama says, "You want to kill grandma."

It says, instead of guaranteed health care, you will get a voucher. And if that voucher isn't worth enough to buy the insurance that's available in the open marketplace, well, tough luck; you're on your own.
This is both a straw man and a different kind of fallacy of argument - the false dichotomy. Obama presents two impossible choices - either you keep Medicare the way it is or you get some piece of paper. Except that piece of paper can be as much as $15,000, and $15,000 will buy very good health insurance.
This brings us back to what I said earlier - that Obama does not believe in capitalism or free enterprise. Capitalism constantly finds ways to provide goods and services that are both better and less expensive. When I was a kid, a car with an FM radio in it was rare; now it's almost impossible to buy one without an FM radio and a CD player. When I was a kid, air-conditioning was an extra-cost option; now it's ubiquitous. When I was a kid, nobody had even heard of automobile air bags; now econoboxes have six of them.
The same is true everywhere. What did a 48" HD TV cost five years ago? Two or three thousand bucks. Today, it's more like three or four hundred. Computers, cell phones - everything capitalism touches - are better and less expensive than they were just a few years ago.

And yes, even medical care. In 1944, Franklin Roosevelt had arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure, and all his doctors could do for the most powerful man in the world was tell him to rest as much as possible, cut down on the alcohol, and, for God's sake, stop smoking. Today, any clerk at your local DMV office with those medical problems would have had triple bypass surgery, cardiac stents, statin medications to control his cholesterol, and meds to control his blood pressure.

Put simply, it ends Medicare as we know it.
Medicare as we know it is going to end regardless because it's already gone over the cliff - it just hasn't hit the ground yet. It's just a question of what replaces it.

It's a vision that says up to 50 million Americans have to lose their health insurance in order for us to reduce the deficit.
Another straw man. Read Ryan's proposal; it will make health insurance available to everyone. The difference is that people will have a wide range of choices what insurance to buy, instead of the two choices you have today, which amount to a) take it, or b) leave it.

Who are these 50 million Americans?
Many are somebody's grandparents, maybe one of yours, who wouldn't be able afford nursing home care without Medicaid.
Many are poor children. Some are middle-class families who have children with autism or Down's syndrome. Some are these kids with disabilities are -- the disabilities are so severe that they require 24-hour care.
These are the Americans we'd be telling to fend for themselves.
Actually, you can afford nursing home care if you buy long-term care insurance when you're young - I get come-ons in the mail every day (I already have long-term care insurance, thank you very much). But that would require you to take some responsibility for your own well-being, and Obama doesn't believe in that America; he believes that half of all Americans can't take care of their most basic needs, so the rich need to pay "a little more."

And, worst of all, this is a vision that says even though Americans can't afford to invest in education at current levels or clean energy, even though we can't afford to maintain our commitment on Medicare and Medicaid, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy.
Really, you need to stop bringing up education if you don't want me to keep bringing up South Korea.
And what "new tax breaks" for the wealthy are we talking about here? The so-called Bush tax cuts have been around for ten years. That's not new. Repealing them would be a new tax hike.

Think about that.
In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90 percent of all working Americans actually declined.
I doubt that very, very much. Show us the numbers.

Meanwhile, the top 1 percent saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. That's who needs to pay less taxes?
Another straw man. Who is saying that the rich should get additional tax cuts?

They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that's paid for by asking 33 seniors to each pay $6,000 more in health costs.
Really? I've heard of no such legislation.

That's not right, and that's not going to happen as long as I'm president.
Big talk, since nobody's actually proposing such a thing. And I promise as long as I'm able to stand on my own two feet, no unicorns are going to eat your azaleas.

This vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America. Ronald Reagan's own budget director said there's nothing serious or courageous about this plan.
Okay, just last December, you said Ryan's budget proposal was serious. So were you lying then or are you lying now?

But you are right; it does change the basic social compact. It demands that we take care of ourselves, that we recognize we can deal with our own problems, that we don't need the government to kiss the boo-boo every time we scrape our collective knee. It is not the purpose of government to provide you a house, or food, or medical care. The purpose of government is to protect life, liberty and property, to promote the national defense, establish justice, and ensure domestic tranquility. We're Americans; if the government will do those things, we'll be able to take care of the rest.
Or don't you believe that?

There's nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. And I don't think there's anything courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don't have any clout on Capitol Hill. That's not a vision of the America I know.
Yes, we get it. The America you know is one where half the people can't pay a single dime for the cost of running the country, and demand that the other half do it for them.

The America I know is generous and compassionate. It's a land of opportunity and optimism. Yes, we take responsibility for ourselves, but we also take responsibility for each other, for the country we want and the future that we share.
We're a nation that built a railroad across a continent and brought light to communities shrouded in darkness. We sent a generation to college on the G.I. Bill and we saved millions of seniors from poverty with Social Security and Medicare.
Well, the railroads and electric light weren't gifts handed down by a beneficent government. They came from greedy capitalists, who were thanked by having the epithet "robber barons" attached to their names. That's the America Barack Obama loves - one where you get castigated for getting rich while bringing comfort and prosperity to us all.

We have led the world in scientific research and technological breakthroughs that have transformed millions of lives.
That's who we are. This is the America that I know.
We don't have to choose between a future of spiraling debt and one where we forfeit our investment in our people and our country.
Another straw man. Nobody is making that argument, and you know it.

To meet our fiscal challenge, we will need to make reforms, we will all need to make sacrifices. But we do not have to sacrifice the America we believe in. And as long as I'm president, we won't.
Well, this is encouraging. "...we will all have to make sacrifices." What sacrifices do you propose for the half of America that pays no income tax?

So today I'm proposing a more balanced approach to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 12 years.
Did you catch that? When did the magic number become twelve years? Congress is not permitted to make budget projections beyond ten years.

It's an approach that borrows from the recommendations of the bipartisan fiscal commission that I appointed last year, and it builds on the roughly $1 trillion in deficit reduction I already proposed in my 2012 budget.
Obama's 2012 budget proposal is for a budget only $100 billion less than the 2011 budget - a reduction of a little less than three percent.

It's an approach that puts every kind of spending on the table, but one that protects the middle class, our promise to seniors and our investments in the future.
Every kind of spending? Baloney. You went over the entire federal budget and all you could reduce it by over last year's record-busting budget was three percent? Even after you went after all that waste, fraud, and abuse?

The first step in our approach is to keep annual domestic spending low by building on the savings that both parties agreed to last week. That step alone will save us about $750 billion over 12 years.
"...keep annual domestic spending low..." This is where Obama completely parts ways with reality. In order to keep it low, it has to have been low in the first place. Does he really believe that?

We will make the tough cuts necessary to achieve these savings, including in programs that I deeply care about. But I will not sacrifice the core investments that we need to grow and create jobs. We will invest in medical research. We will invest in clean energy technology. We will invest in new roads and airports and broadband access. We will invest in education. We will invest in job training. We will do what we need to do to compete, and we will win the future.
Yeah, invest, invest, invest. Spend, spend, spend. Where are you going to cut, smart guy?

The second step in our approach is to find additional savings in our defense budget.
Ah, that answers the question I just asked. It's the first place liberals look to cut. As well as the last. Okay, it's the only place liberals look to cut. Ever.

Now, as commander in chief, I have no greater responsibility than protecting our national security, and I will never accept cuts that compromise our ability to defend our homeland or America's interests around the world.
But as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, has said, the greatest long-term threat to America's national security is America's debt.
So just as we must find more savings in domestic programs, we must do the same in defense. And we can do that while still keeping ourselves safe.
Wait, you haven’t said what domestic programs you would cut.

Over the last two years, Secretary Bob Gates has courageously taken on wasteful spending, saving $400 billion in current and future spending. I believe we can do that again.
Okay, so if we save $400 billion in defense next year - which I bet we can't - that will knock the proposed deficit down from $1.6 trillion to $1.2 trillion. Where are you going to get that remaining $1.2 trillion? And then what are you going to do the following year? Cut defense by another $400 billion. Since the defense budget for this year is only about $750 billion, you can only cut $400 billion out of it so many times.

We need to not only eliminate waste and improve efficiency and effectiveness, but we're going to have to conduct a fundamental review of America's missions, capabilities, and our role in a changing world.
So a fundamental review of America's defense is in order, but not a fundamental review of what's really bankrupting the country - the social safety net.

I intend to work with Secretary Gates and the Joint Chiefs on this review, and I will make specific decisions about spending after it's complete.
The third step in our approach is to further reduce health care spending in our budget. Now, here the difference with the House Republican plan could not be clearer.
Their plan essentially lowers the government's health care bills by asking seniors and poor families to pay them instead. Our approach lowers the government's health care bills by reducing the cost of health care itself.
That's a couple of lies right there.
The Ryan plan doesn't give people a one-size-fits-all insurance policy. It gives them a menu of choices of insurance policies. And it provides vouchers to people who need them to help pay for the insurance. Medicare is going broke because it's one-size-fits-all. It assumes that everyone will both want and need the same health care coverage. What if I want a cheaper policy that only covers catastrophic expenses? Tough luck. One size fits all, and if that's inefficient, we can just raise taxes to cover the difference.
And government has never reduced the cost of anything.

Already, the reforms we passed in the health care law will reduce our deficit by $1 trillion.

My approach would build on those -- these reforms.
We will reduce wasteful subsidies and erroneous payments. We will cut spending on prescription drugs by using Medicare's purchasing power to drive greater efficiency and speed generic brands of medicine onto the market. We will work with governors of both parties to demand more efficiency and accountability from Medicaid.
Ah yes, we're going to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse. Wait, you said that wouldn't be nearly enough.

We will change the way we pay for health care: not by the procedure or the number of days spent in a hospital, but with new incentives for doctors and hospitals to prevent injuries and improve results.
Such as?

And we will slow the growth of Medicare costs...
So Medicare costs will continue to rise even after you've implemented all these wondrous changes? strengthening an independent commission of doctors, nurses, medical experts and consumers who will look at all the evidence and recommend the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending while protecting access to the services that seniors need.
So a bunch of people on a committee will keep Medicare costs under control by finding ways to do it that nobody else has figured out yet? Excuse me for not believing a word of this.

Now, we believe the reforms we've proposed to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid will enable us to keep these commitments to our citizens while saving us $500 billion by 2023, and an additional $1 trillion in the decade after that.
$500 billion in ten years. That's $50 billion a year, roughly. You might as well try to drain a bathtub a thimbleful at a time.

But if we're wrong, and Medicare costs rise faster than we expect, then this approach will give the independent commission the authority to make additional savings by further improving Medicare.
Huh? Why are you going to wait until things are completely falling apart to further improve Medicare? If you have ideas to improve it, why should they wait? Let's hear those ideas!

But let me be absolutely clear: I will preserve these health care programs as a promise we make to each other in this society. I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry, with a shrinking benefit to pay for rising costs. I will not tell families with children who have disabilities that they have to fend for themselves.
I'd rather be at the mercy of an insurance company than at the mercy of the government. And who exactly is saying that families of children with disabilities will have to fend for themselves? That wouldn't be another straw man, would it? You have a whole barnful by now.

We will reform these programs, but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment this country has kept for generations.
That includes, by the way, our commitment to Social Security. While Social Security is not the cause of our deficit, it faces real long-term challenges in a country that's growing older.
Actually, Social Security is contributing to the deficit, starting this year. It's paying out more than it's taking in. It's making up the difference by cashing in U.S. government bonds that it holds. The money the government uses to redeem those bonds isn't available to pay for other things, like roads and aircraft carriers and NPR.

As I said in the State of the Union, both parties should work together now to strengthen Social Security for future generations. But we have to do it without putting at risk current retirees or the most vulnerable or people with disabilities, without slashing benefits for future generations and without subjecting Americans' guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market. And it can be done.
Just subject America's "guaranteed" retirement income to the whims of Congress. I wish that someone would, just once, explain what the so-called "guarantee" is. When I buy a car or a DVD player, the guarantee is laid out in great detail. What is Social Security's guarantee? And what happens when there isn't enough money to pay that guarantee any more? In fact, Social Security benefits are not guaranteed legally because workers have no contractual or property rights to any benefits whatsoever. In two landmark cases, Flemming v. Nestor and Helvering v. Davis, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Social Security taxes are not contributions or savings, but simply taxes, and that Social Security benefits are simply a government spending program, no different than, say, farm price supports. Congress and the president may change, reduce, or even eliminate benefits at any time.

The fourth step in our approach is to reduce spending in the tax code, so-called tax expenditures.
This is, quite literally, gobbledygook. "Tax expenditures?"

In December, I agreed to extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans because it was the only way I could prevent a tax hike on middle-class Americans.
But we cannot afford $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our society. We can't afford it. And I refuse to renew them again.
Okay, we heard you the first three times; you want to raise taxes on the rich.

Beyond that, the tax code is also loaded up with spending on things like itemized deductions. And while I agree with the goals of many of these deductions, from homeownership to charitable giving, we can't ignore the fact that they provide millionaires an average tax break of $75,000 but do nothing for the typical middle-class family that doesn't itemize.
News flash: the typical middle-class family does itemize, if they are buying a home. Or have we gotten to the point where if you own a home, you're rich?

So my budget calls for limiting itemized deductions for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, a reform that would reduce the deficit by $320 billion over 10 years.
Okay, so another "tax the rich" plan. Increase their tax rate taxes, and now, make them pay tax on more of their income just because not everyone gets as much of a deduction as they do.

But to reduce the deficit, I believe we should go further. And that's why I'm calling on Congress to reform our individual tax code so that it is fair and simple, so that the amount of taxes you pay isn't determined by what kind of accountant you can afford.
I believe reform should protect the middle class, promote economic growth, and build on the fiscal commission's model of reducing tax expenditures so that there is enough savings to both lower rates and lower the deficit. And as I called for in the State of the Union, we should reform our corporate tax code as well, to make our businesses and our economy more competitive.
You lost me at "reducing tax expenditures." This is a nonsense phrase; why should I believe anything in the sentence in which it is used?

So this is my approach to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 12 years.
To sum up:
1) Cut national defense.
2) Do something about Social Security, just don't change it.
3) Do something about Medicare, just don't change it.
4) Ignore Medicaid.
5) Increase taxes on the people who pay most of the taxes already.
6) Increase taxes on the people who pay most of the taxes already, again.
7) Share the sacrifice by making sure that the people who pay no income tax at all continue to pay no income tax at all.

It's an approach that achieves about $2 trillion in spending cuts across the budget. It will lower our interest payments on the debt by $1 trillion. It calls for tax reform to cut about $1 trillion in tax expenditures -- spending in the tax code. And it achieves these goals while protecting the middle class, protecting our commitment to seniors and protecting our investments in the future.
You keep saying "tax expenditures." I don't think that means what you think it means.

Now, in the coming years, if the recovery speeds up and our economy grows faster than our current projections, we can make even greater progress than I've pledged here.
And if I capture a unicorn in my back yard, I'll get rich charging admission. Both events are about as likely.

But just to hold Washington and to hold me accountable and make sure that the debt burden continues to decline, my plan includes a debt failsafe.
Politicians love these gimmicks. "Oh, if X happens, then Y will automatically kick in to save the day!" Remember "paygo?” Every dollar of new spending had to be matched by a dollar of new revenue or a dollar of spending cuts elsewhere. Couldn't miss. Except that congress simply redefined the word "new" whenever it was convenient, or exempted "emergency" appropriations, then proceeded to find an emergency at every turn.

If, by 2014, our debt is not projected to fall as a share of the economy, if we haven't hit our targets, if Congress has failed to act, then my plan will require us to come together and make up the additional savings with more spending cuts and more spending reductions in the tax code.
As near as I can interpret, from how he's used the term previously, "more spending reductions in the tax code" means "making the people who pay most of the taxes pay even more."

And that should be an incentive for us to act boldly now, instead of kicking our problems further down the road.
So this is our vision for America, this is my vision for America, a vision where we live within our means while still investing in our future, where everyone makes sacrifices but no one bears all the burden, where we provide a basic measure of security for our citizens and we provide rising opportunity for our children.
This is chock full of lies. The word "investing," for starts. The claim that everyone makes a sacrifice, when the truth is that only the Department of Defense and the people who pay most of the taxes will have to sacrifice.

There will be those who vigorously disagree with my approach. I can guarantee that as well.
Some will argue we should not even consider -- ever, ever -- raising taxes, even if only on the wealthiest Americans.
Another straw man. No sane person believes we should never, ever raise taxes, and nobody is suggesting that now. But here's an interesting fact. The individual income tax brought in 7.8% of GDP from 1952 to 1979 when the top tax rate ranged from 70% to 92%, 8% of GDP from 1993 to 1996 when the top tax rate was 39.6%, and 8.1% from 1988 to 1990 when the highest individual income tax rate was 28%. Raising tax rates does not increase revenue; improving the GDP is what does it.

It's just an article of faith to them.
Now we're simply demonizing the principled opposition. And we're supposed to believe you want to work together on our fiscal problems?

I say that at a time when the tax burden on the wealthy is at its lowest level in half a century, the most fortunate among us can afford to pay a little more.
Again, the claim that people are well-off just because they got lucky, and people who are poor were just born under a bad sign. This, in America, the land of opportunity. Shameful.
And again, the claim that we're just asking the people who pay most of the taxes to pay just a little more. We know by now what "a little more" means to liberals.

I don't need another tax cut. Warren Buffett doesn't need another tax cut. Not if we have to pay for it by making seniors pay more for Medicare or by cutting kids from Head Start or by taking away college scholarships that I wouldn't be here without, and that some of you wouldn't be here without.
Another false dichotomy. "You can't cut taxes without starving grandma, so which is it going to be?" Maybe you can't think of a way to do it; if so, then get out of the way and let someone else do it. Reagan managed to do it and we got the longest recovery ever. And again, who's suggesting cutting anyone’s taxes today? You lie every time you make that claim.

And here's the thing: I believe that most wealthy Americans would agree with me. They want to give back to their country, a country that's done so much for them. It's just Washington hasn't asked them to.
Washington doesn't ask for my money. It tells me to hand it over or go to prison, every April 15.

Others will say that we shouldn't even talk about cutting spending until the economy is fully recovered. These are mostly folks in my party.
Which is kinda like saying, "We're not going to stop bleeding you until you recover from your illness. More leeches, doctor Obama!"

I'm sympathetic to this view, which is one of the reasons I supported the payroll tax cuts we passed in December. It's also why we have to use a scalpel and not a machete to reduce the deficit, so that we can keep making the investments that create jobs.
The only jobs government creates is government jobs. Now if you think we should all work for the government, why, just come out and say so.

But doing nothing on the deficit is just not an option. Our debt has grown so large that we could do real damage to the economy if we don't begin a process now to get our fiscal house in order.
Finally, there are those who believe we shouldn't make any reforms to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security out of fear that any talk of change to these programs will immediately usher in the sort of radical steps that House Republicans have proposed. And I understand those fears.
But I guarantee that if we don't make any changes at all, we won't be able to keep our commitment to a retiring generation that will live longer and will face higher health care costs than those who came before.
And, remarkably, you manage to avoid making any suggestion about what those changes should be. All we know about your position is that you trust the government more than the stock market.

Indeed, to those in my own party, I say that if we truly believe in a progressive vision of our society, we have an obligation to prove that we can afford our commitments.
If we believe that government can make a difference in people's lives, we have the obligation to prove that it works, by making government smarter and leaner and more effective.
"We're going to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse! Can I get an amen?"

Of course, there are those who simply say there's no way we can come together at all and agree on a solution to this challenge. They'll say the politics of this city are just too broken, the choices are just too hard, the parties are just too far apart.
And after a few years on this job I have some sympathy for this view.
But I also know that we've come together before and met big challenges.
Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill came together to save Social Security for future generations.
The first President Bush and a Democratic Congress came together to reduce the deficit.
President Clinton and a Republican Congress battled each other ferociously -- disagreed on just about everything -- but they still found a way to balance the budget.
And in the last few months, both parties have come together to pass historic tax relief and spending cuts. And I know there are Republicans and Democrats in Congress who want to see a balanced approach to deficit reduction.
And even those Republicans I disagree with most strongly I believe are sincere about wanting to do right by their country. We may disagree on our visions, but I -- I -- I truly believe they want to do the right thing.
So I believe we can and must come together again.
This morning, I met with Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress to discuss the approach that I laid out today. And in early May, the vice president will begin regular meetings with leaders in both parties with the aim of reaching a final agreement on a plan to reduce the deficit and get it done by the end of June.
There is a plan to reduce the deficit. The House should vote on Paul Ryan's budget plan and send it to Majority Leader Reid, and let him know they'll be ready to set up a conference committee to work out the differences between the Republican plan and the Democratic one - if the Democrats even have one.

I don't expect the details in any final agreement to look exactly like the approach I laid out today. This is a democracy; that's not how things work. I'm eager to hear other ideas from all ends of the political spectrum.
And though I'm sure the criticism of what I've said here today will be fierce in some quarters and my critique of the House Republican approach has been strong, Americans deserve and will demand that we all make an effort to bridge our differences and find common ground.
Actually, I don't want to find common ground. I don't want to "split the difference." You're driving the country off a cliff; why should I want to find common ground with you?

This larger debate that we're having -- this larger debate about the size and the role of government -- it has been with us since our founding days. And during moments of great challenge and change, like the one that we're living through now, the debate gets sharper and it gets more vigorous. That's not a bad thing. In fact, it's a good thing.
It's long overdue.

As a country that prizes both our individual freedom and our obligations to one another, this is one of the most important debates that we can have.
But no matter what we argue, no matter where we stand, we've always held certain beliefs as Americans.
We believe that in order to preserve our own freedoms and pursue our own happiness, we can't just think about ourselves. We have to think about the country that made these liberties possible. We have to think about our fellow citizens with whom we share a community. And we have to think about what's required to preserve the American dream for future generations.
And your answer largely amounts to, "Make the people who pay most of the taxes pay even more."

This sense of responsibility -- to each other and to our country -- this isn't a partisan feeling. This isn't a Democratic or a Republican idea. It's patriotism.
The other day I received a letter from a man in Florida. He started off by telling me he didn't vote for me and he hasn't always agreed with me. But even though he's worried about our economy and the state of our politics, here's what he said.
He said, "I still believe. I believe in that great country that my grandfather told me about. I believe that somewhere lost in this quagmire of petty bickering on every news station, the American dream is still alive."
This is not petty bickering. We are arguing about the fate of our country.

"We need to use our dollars here rebuilding, refurbishing and restoring all that our ancestors struggled to create and maintain. We as a people must do this together, no matter the color of the state one comes from or the side of the aisle one might sit on."
I still believe -- I still believe as well. And I know that if we can come together and uphold our responsibilities to one another and to this larger enterprise that is America, we will keep the dream of our founding alive in our time, and we will pass it on to our children, we will pass on to our children a country that we believe in.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
Thank you.
Nothing of substance here. Just the same old liberal mantra - make the people who pay most of the taxes pay more, require nothing from the people who pay no taxes, cut defense and only defense. Shameful.