Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Quick Hits - January 10, 2012

The resignation of President Barack Obama's Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, was announced yesterday morning.  Daley had served about one year as the Chief of Staff, replacing Rahm Emanuel who departed to run to become the Mayor of Chicago.

The resignation reflects signs of real challenges and turmoil within the White House.  Originally brought on to provide gravitas and assistance to help the President work with Congress as well as move more towards the middle of the political spectrum, Daley's approach apparently ruffled feathers with many of the President's advisers who promoted the hard left approach as well as declaring war on Congress as opposed to working with Congress.

Last November, his duties were significantly redefined, with long-time Obama aide Pete Rouse taking on the day to day CoS responsibilities and Daley to focus more on relations with Congress.  While a functional demotion, the Administration worked hard to try to spin it otherwise.  Daley's departure was anticipated - but expected to take place after the November election.

Replacing Bill Daley is the President's Budget Director, Jack Lew.   Lew's background includes working as a senior policy advisor to the late Speaker Tip O'Neill, serving as Budget Director for President Clinton, and served as a deputy director in the State Department under Hillary Clinton before being tapped to be the President's Budget Director.  While Budget Director, Lew worked with the President to create the President's FY2012 budget proposal which was seen to be so misguided and full of misrepresentations that the Senate unanimously rejected it by a vote of 0-97.

Among those celebrating the departure of Bill Daley are the 'watermelons' - the hard left (red) environmentalists (green) who blame the actions and influence of Daley on the President for the President's decisions to hold back some of the more extreme moves of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate cap and trade.

This change confirms the far more combative approach that the Administration is going to take going into the November elections.  It also confirms that the Administration will embrace the hard left even more - and no longer make the appearances of trying to reach out or operate in moderation.

2012 will be another year like 2011, in terms of little if anything being done of import outside of the President's own unilateral actions.  The Administration has continued to assert that the definition of compromise is when the other side surrenders all of their positions and fully accepts the positions of the Administration.  Looking at this, the American people, when asked what possible event in 2012 they would fear the most - by a 2 to 1 margin said that they most feared the reelection of President Obama.

In an example of government overreach, the NY Times has a story in their Business section today about the Federal Government fining companies for not using a biofuel......even though the biofuel doesn't exist.  These costs, of course, will be passed onto consumers resulting in higher prices.

California's Legislative Analyst's Office has taken a hard look at the budget, and massive tax hike proposition, that Governor Moonbeam has prepared for California.   The tax increase proposition, which the Governor wants to put to the California voter in November is claimed by the Governor to raise about $7 billion in tax revenue.  The LAO's review implies that the Governor is dreaming if he believes that the increase in tax revenue will approach $7 billion.  They say that at best, the increase in tax revenues will miss the mark by about one third - perhaps raising only $4.8 billion.  They also not that they might be optimistic with that mark as much of the additional revenue comes from higher taxes on the wealthy.  When done in other states, like Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York, those states received substantially lower revenues as those with the higher tax burden left those states.

This reflects a far too common pattern in the politics and vapidity of California's budgets.  Tax revenues, and investment returns, are typically estimated far too high, while spending not only increases - but increases in reality at a rate faster than the budget defines.  Just this year, CA is running about $1.5B under in tax revenues while spending over $2B more than budgeted....with the result of a still growing deficit.

The common pattern in California budgets are the base efforts to threaten California residents to accept higher taxes, higher fees, fewer services - otherwise education or first responders funds will be cut to 'balance' the budget.  Rarely are questions asked of the progressive Democrats in charge of the State as to why other areas - areas of real waste, fraud, malfeasance, and excess - are not targeted to be cut.

Today is the New Hampshire primary - and the South Carolina primary is a week from today.  Mitt Romney has a solid double digit lead in the last polls - but his leading competitors are focusing on attacking Romney and his experiences at the investment firm Bain Capital for being a 'corporate raider' - buying and gutting companies costing thousands of jobs.  Led by Newt Gingrich, and picked up by Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry, this is an attack straight out of the DNC / Chicago-Obama playbook - and is a reflection of the desperation of not only the other Republican contenders, but of the 'scorched earth' policy of Gingrich.

This reflects very badly on Gingrich's personality and judgment.  Bain Capital, a private equity firm, has a business model to invest in troubled companies to turn them around and generate a profit for its investment.  Not every company that Bain, or any other private equity firm, invests in is truly viable.  Some of those companies do fail - and the investment company will work to recoup as much of it's investment as possible.  Gingirch knows this.  He's been affiliated for years with Forstman Little & Co a company just like Bain Capital.

Notice a company / executive that actually deserves this type of attention and attack?  How about MF Global, it's $1.2B in missing customer assets, and it's Chairman / CEO with strong ties to the Obama Administration, Jon Corzine?

In a rare public address, the Syrian despot Assad vows to use an 'iron fist' to crush the 'foreign conspirators' who he claims are behind the popular uprising in Syria against his dictatorship.  This is, unsurprisingly, delusional.  Over 6,000 are now dead in the internal conflict - many of these civilians.  Except for the failed Arab League observation efforts to try to stop the violence, little is being done by other nations, in particular Western nations, to confront Syria's actions.

The Obama Administration, through SecState Clinton, is moving forward with their plan to reach out and work with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.  The Brotherhood, along with the fundamentalist Salafists, have a dominant majority in Egypt's Parliament.  The Administration sees the Muslim Brotherhood as being a 'moderate' group.  This conveniently ignores some of the details of the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood for Egypt.  Details like their anti-Israel policy which threatens the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, their intent to replace current Egyptian law with Sharia law, and to base 'womens rights' on those defined by Islamic law.  Naive doesn't start to cover this Administration's approach towards the Muslim Brotherhood.

Greece continues to the one of the main focal points of the Eurocrisis - with a March deadline rapidly approaching.  In a meeting yesterday, Merkozy threatened to withhold any additional bailout money to Greece since it has still failed to reach an agreement or enact austerity measures needed for EU assistance.  The Greek economy is retracting at a 7% annual rate - and the government remains locked into providing far more entitlements than it can possibly afford.  An example of the Greek nanny state - they consider pedophiles as people who are 'disabled' and therefore entitled to government disability payments. 

The EU's central bureaucracy is also operating in the progressive / Obama model - invoking cap and trade regulations on all air travel to / from and within Europe.  Airlines now have tradable carbon allowances to cover their CO2 emissions - and if they exceed their allotments, they need to purchase additional allowances.  This will increase costs for airlines by about $1.17 billion this year - about one third of the industry's total profits.  By 2020, this will cost airlines $3.2 billion.  Airlines?  I should have said passengers as the airlines will pass these higher costs to their passengers.

The House of Representatives has passed legislation that would exempt US carriers from this cap and trade regulation - but that legislation remains stalled in the Senate which has refused to act on this, and dozens of other bills from the House.  What is the source of the 'do-nothing' Congress?

Tensions are increasing in SE Asia as Vietnam prepares to use it's military to defend it's interests and claims in the South China Sea that are also claimed by the People's Republic of China.  The PRC is using its military strength to threaten and intimidate its neighbors in its efforts to gain access to economic materials in the region.  These countries fought a month long war in 1978 after the PRC invaded North Vietnam in an effort to stop the Vietnamese actions against Pol Pot in Cambodia - who was a PRC client state.  In addition to Vietnam, the Philippines have also been threatened by the PRC over territorial rights.

On This Day in History

1920 - The League of Nations was instituted

1923 - President Harding orders US troops occupying Germany to return to the US

1941 - President Roosevelt introduces the lend-lease program

1946 - The first meeting of the United Nations takes place

Ironic that there is this connection between the League of Nations and the United Nations.  Both are failed institutions - and failed / are failing for similar reasons.

No comments:

Post a Comment