A Billion Here And a Billion There! January 10, 2011Posted by Admin in Dan Mangru.
Tags: billions, boehner, capitol hill, Congress, dc, republicans, spending, tax cut, trillions, Washington
Originally Published December 17, 2010
By Dan Mangru
One key premise of negotiation is to frame the deal within the context that everyone wins. Everyone wants to feel that they got what they wanted. Nobody wants to be a loser.
Well, today in Washington, D.C., there are no losers, just politicians.
You see, Republicans wanted to extend the 2001/2003 tax cuts for all Americans. They believe that lower taxes are key to running an economically viable nation.
That’s not altogether a bad idea.
Democrats feel that increased spending and lower/middle class tax rebates are the way to get our struggling economy back on track.
(Column continues below)
That’s debatable, but there are some good uses for government spending. The sad thing is that those cases are few and far between.
For instance, cyber security and space exploration are examples of good government spending. Having our national databases hacked by the Chinese and relying on the Russians or the Chinese for a ride up to the space station … not such good ideas.
But I digress. I mean why have things like cyber security and a space program (which is being phased out by the Obama administration) when you have so many other important things to spend on in a new stimulus … err, I mean…Tax Cut Bill.
You see, like Rahm Emanuel says, you never should let a good crisis go to waste. Here America was in crisis facing a massive tax hike in the middle of a recession. Congress literally had to act now as the holidays were approaching and the tax hikes ready to rear their ugly head come January 1.
This was an opportunity. Sure, Congress could have just passed an extension of the tax cuts. But that would have been too easy.
Congress also could have followed the law and passed a dollar in spending cuts for every dollar in tax cuts per the Reagan-era PAYGO law. But that would have been too responsible.
So what did our friends in Congress decide to do? They decided to pass a win-win deal for Democrats and Republicans.
The Republicans wanted an extension of the tax cuts no matter what. The Democrats were happy to give that to them at a price.
In the end, an extension of some tax cuts ended up being a $990 billion debacle.
Yep, that’s right, $990 billion (although I presume that it was strategically valued at $990 billion so that it wouldn’t be over the magic $1 trillion mark, but then again has there ever been a government budget figure that wasn’t underestimated?). This bill is even larger than the $787 billion Obama porkulus bill.
So what’s exactly in this $990 billion bill? Necessary items for the growth of our nation, of course.
Some of the goodies in our beloved tax cut bill are the railroad track maintenance credit, a 7-year recovery period for NASCAR raceways, accelerated depreciation for business property on an Indian reservation, tax credits for mine rescue training, tax incentives for investment in the District of Columbia, and special tax breaks and subsidies for the rum industry.
What’s really been ailing our economy is that rum prices are just too high. Why should we pay $20 for a bottle of Capitan Morgan? That’s ridiculous.
Well, good thing that the new tax cut bill addressed that with a $235 million subsidy for rum makers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Whew! Crisis averted.
Yet, our friends in Congress didn’t stop there.
It turns out that the ethanol lobby didn’t feel like they were getting their fair share, so they got $6 billion.
Technology companies such as Microsoft and Boeing wanted in on the action, so they got $6 billion too.
All in all about $55 billion of goodies handed out to friends. Ah, the change that we can believe in. Apparently, the only thing that really changes is which party to blame this time.
It gets even worse. Had Congress just passed the income tax cuts ($359 billion), Alternative Minimum Tax Indexing ($140 billion) and the Estate Tax Changes ($68 billion), the total cost of the bill would have been $568 billion as opposed to $990 billion.
So how does the bill almost double in size?
Well, throw in about $56 billion in unemployment payments for people who have been out of work for up to 99 weeks, add in $120 billion of a payroll tax holiday, $21 billion of refundable tax credits, with a $146 billion dash of business expensing writeoffs, and a sprinkle of $80 billion so-called business tax extenders (i.e. major government subsidies for green technology), and you can start to see how the bill becomes so big.
Now for the $64,000 question: how do we pay for it?
Well some of you might suggest that we cut existing spending to pay for new spending.
While that might seem logical, you must remember this is Washington, D.C., that we’re dealing with.
Why do things like cut spending, and balance the budget, and pay down the national debt, when we can crank up the old printing press?
You guessed it, Obama is just going to put in a call to his buddy at the Federal Reserve Mr. Bernanke, and tell him to oil up the machines because he needs a fresh trillion dollars printed up ASAP.
Don’t you just wish that you could fire up your HP printer at home and just start printing money? When the power bill comes every month, don’t worry about it. Just make sure that there is ink and paper in the printer and you’ll be just fine.
While that seems preposterous to you and me, this is the real power that our president has, and he’s teaming up with Congress to put our country further in debt.
Keep in mind, because Obama “compromised” by extending the Bush tax cuts, he’s going to expect the Republicans to “compromise” by extending the debt ceiling.
Currently, the U.S. is only legally authorized to have $14.3 trillion of debt. However, that can be changed by an act of Congress. And when President Obama reminds the Republicans that their tax cut bill was the trillion dollars that put them over the edge, the Republicans will cave in to his demands to allow the nation to go trillions more in debt.
How high can the ceiling go?
It just depends how high Obama is willing to ask. Maybe he’ll go for just another trillion. If he’s daring maybe he can push the debt ceiling to $17 trillion maybe, even $19 trillion. After all, he is the Compromiser-in-Chief.
So in the end every political party got what they wanted, a win-win deal. Republicans got tax cuts and Democrats got more spending.
Yes America, only in Washington, D.C., can we make a deal that not only increases spending but decreases tax revenue. Simply put, we have to pay for more with less.
Hopefully, when the new class of representatives and senators comes into office next year, we will have a change for the better. Maybe the threat of the Tea Party can keep newly elected politicians honest.
For our sake, I hope so.
A Tribute To Our Veterans… By Dan Mangru November 11, 2010Posted by Admin in Dan Mangru.
Tags: day, freedom, honor, independence, justice, liberty, military, service, troops, veterans
For some today is just another federal holiday. It’s a day where you don’t get your mail and your local bank is closed for business. Maybe you might have off from work.
But for a day that comes around every year comes a meaning that is truly different and unique every single time.
Many tributes to our brave men and women who serve and have served in the armed forces will focus on their courage, dedication, and service to America and the causes of freedom, justice, and liberty… and rightfully so.
For over 230 years brave soldiers have entered the field of combat fighting for causes that they believed to be much higher than themselves: God, country, family, freedom, justice, & each other.
It is the idea that the next day will be a better day than the last and the next generation will be better than ours that motivates our service men and women to do everything in their power to preserve the freedom that so many gave their lives for. It is the idea that there is something uniquely brilliant about America that like a Phoenix she can rise from the ashes and become a shining beacon of hope and freedom.
Yet for so many of us it is easy to allow the sacrifices of our military to be taken in vain.
Many times we seek to blame others for our shortcomings. Many times we believe that we are entitled to things which we have not earned. Many times we take the very freedom that we live in for granted.
The easiest way to take freedom for granted is to waste the myriad of opportunities that we have in America. Our land is one of the few in the world where you can rise to any level of success regardless of where you were born, the color of your skin, or what socioeconomic background you have. That is so easy to forget in a land where it has always been that way for so many of us.
While the people of America are not perfect, we must all remember that the ideals and values of America are, and it is those perfect values that we try and implement into our lives and our country everyday.
So the best tribute we can give to our troops and those who serve us is to do something. Make your life worthwhile. Raise your children to have values and to respect America. Give back to your community.
It is not lost that these are tough times that we live in. Many are out of work and struggling to make ends meet.
While this environment has been tough for many Americans, let us not forget that we have the freedom of opportunity to rise above our current circumstances.
If you don’t have a job you can freely seek one in any field and any company you’d like. If there’s not a job match for you amongst existing companies, then make your own company and employ yourself.
America has always been a land of innovators, creators, and visionaries. It is that heritage that has always kept us on the cutting edge of technology and has propelled us to be the greatest nation on God’s good green earth.
The men and women who fight for us everyday want to know that we are also fighting. They want to know that we plan on doing something special with our lives. They want to know that by preserving the freedom of America, that our generations will be able to achieve the feats both great and small to advance the monumental odyssey that is progress.
They want to know that there is an American out there who will find a cure for infectious diseases. They want to know that there is an American out there who will create technology to help people stay in touch. They want to know that there is an American out there who makes an honest living, and values family.
We can all pay tribute to those put their lives on the line for us in our own special way, but no matter how we do it, let us show it with the quality of our lives and with our actions. Let us always make good use of the freedoms and opportunities that we enjoy as Americans. We must show them America and it’s principles are worth fighting for, worth dying for, because we all fighting home and broad for the United States of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. And don’t you ever forget it.
God Bless America,
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
Flotilla 51, District 7
Why real-estate quagmire stays, and stays, and stays … – Dan Mangru WND (WorldNetDaily) Exclusive Commentary November 10, 2010Posted by Admin in Market Commentary, News.
Tags: America, bernanke, economy, Foreclosure, housing, markets, mortgages, obama, real estate, recession, subprime, treasury, underwater, United States
Why real-estate quagmire stays, and stays, and stays …
By Dan Mangru
Posted: November 09, 2010 5:37 pm Eastern
We live in an instant society.
Want to watch your favorite movies any time of the day? We have Instant on Demand.
Didn’t think that Terrell Owens got both feet in for his touchdown on Monday Night Football? No worries, we have instant replay.
We have instant popcorn, instant pudding, and pretty much instant everything.
So with all the advances of modern technology, what is taking so long to clean up the real estate market?
We have all of the tools to fix the market.
Want to start selling foreclosures? We can use the power of the Internet to do massive online foreclosure auctions as opposed to gathering on the old courthouse steps.
Want to gather investors? Start an investment group on Facebook. It’s really that simple.
Yet despite all of the tools available to us, the real estate markets remain a disaster.
National home prices have changed -5.0 percent quarter-over-quarter. In fact, looking at national home prices since their mid-August peak, price declines are even more dramatic, changing -6.8 percent.
Roughly 1 out of every 4 homeowners has negative equity in a home (meaning that their home is worth less than their mortgage).
And just last month, all of the major banks halted the sale of foreclosed properties.
So what has been the government’s response to all of these problems?
New Poll: Should Hillary Clinton Run Against Obama in 2012? November 8, 2010Posted by Admin in Market Commentary.
Tags: 2012, barack obama, bill clinton, elections, hillary clinton, polls, president, primary, white house
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Obama Dances with Indian Children – Video of the Week November 7, 2010Posted by Admin in News.
Tags: barack, bollywood, children, Dancing, first lady, india, michelle, obama, president, white house
A tale of two housing busts: Why is California recovering and Florida still struggling? November 6, 2010Posted by Admin in Market Commentary, News.
Tags: builders, busts, california, construction, economy, florida, Foreclosure, housing, judge, judicial, los angeles, market, miami, mortgages, real estate, san francisco, speculators, tampa
Many experts say the difference is California’s simpler foreclosure process, which doesn’t involve the courts.
California and Florida had a lot in common during the housing industry’s last boom-and-bust cycle.
Both were overrun by buyers hooked on high-risk mortgages, speculators who helped push prices to historic peaks and builders who didn’t know when to stop. When the bubble burst, the two states became leaders in mortgage defaults, price declines and tracts of unsold new homes.
But in the last year or so, California’s housing market, though still weak, has begun recovering, while Florida’s remains on the critical list.
There are several reasons for the difference, but many experts say a key one is the approach to foreclosure.
California keeps things less complicated and largely outside the courtroom, making it easier for banks to seize and resell homes. Like 22 other states, Florida requires that repossessions be approved by judges, which some argue provides extra protection for homeowners but can delay the process for months.
“The California process is very efficient, and that allows the state to work through the foreclosure morass much more quickly, and the result is a more stable housing market and economy,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Economy.com.
“Florida, in contrast, because of the process being so mucked up there, they still have a long way to go in working through their problem loans, and so their housing economy remains under significant pressure,” he said.
Home prices in the two states tell the tale.
California home sales and prices have tapered off since the boost from federal tax credits for buyers vanished in July, but home values are up considerably from the worst days of the bust. The median price for town homes, condominiums and single-family houses in September was $265,000, up 20% from the bottom in April 2009, according to MDA DataQuick.
In Florida, prices in much of the state have struggled to find a bottom. The median price of a single-family home in Florida was $133,400 in September, a 48% decline from its June 2006 peak, according to data from the Florida Assn. of Realtors. Condominium prices have seen an even bigger plunge, with the statewide median hitting $83,400 in September, a 61% drop from its June 2006 peak.
Another closely watched indicator, the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index, shows prices in Los Angeles up 10% from their bottom, San Diego up 14% and San Francisco up 21%. In Miami, home prices have remained relatively flat, up 2% from their bottom, and Tampa-area prices have yet to stop falling.
The different types of foreclosure systems have come into focus in recent weeks after major lenders acknowledged that in some states where a court order was required to seize a home they had employed so-called robo-signers, who attested to the accuracy of foreclosure documents without reading them.
Those improprieties prompted some major banks to halt foreclosure proceedings temporarily, sparked investigations by state and federal agencies and led to calls for a national foreclosure moratorium, which the Obama administration has resisted.
The paperwork fiasco brought to light a cold fact: Calling in a judge slows the repossession machine.
The average borrower in default lost the home after failing to make mortgage payments for 25 months in Florida and the other states where court approval is required for repossessions, according to a study by Amherst Securities Group. The average is 19 months in California and other so-called nonjudicial states.
The process could be even faster in states like California, but banks have been slowed by moratoriums, loan-modification programs and their own efforts to manage the number of properties reaching the market.
Such interim restrictions, as well as the slower court process, may be more fair to borrowers who were hustled into risky loans they didn’t understand and more merciful to those who temporarily fell behind in their house payments because of short-term financial problems.
But harsh as it sounds, experts said, failing to foreclose on borrowers who can’t afford to stay in their homes only delays a recovery for housing and the general economy.
“Trying to get the volume of foreclosures that you need to take place is difficult,” said Sean M. Snaith, director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness. “As long as these homes are in foreclosure purgatory, we haven’t completed that process, and it is hard to talk about stabilization.”
Though California’s system may be more efficient, it isn’t particularly compassionate or free from error, said Maeve Elise Brown, executive director of the Housing and Economic Rights Advocates in Oakland. Her group has helped several homeowners who say their lenders wrongfully foreclosed.
She said there are clear problems with the way lenders are conducting repossessions in the state, but “we don’t have the benefit of a judicial process.”
California’s foreclosure wave began in 2007, triggered by falling home values and resets on adjustable-rate mortgages, and peaked in the summer months of 2008. Since then the pace of foreclosures has dropped considerably, and bank seizures dropped 44% in the third quarter compared with the peak two years ago, according to data from RealtyTrac Inc. in Irvine.
Florida remains jammed with a huge backlog of troubled loans. The state set a record for bank repossessions just last month, with more than 13,200 homes seized by lenders, according to RealtyTrac.
Faster foreclosures are only one factor boosting California’s housing market. The industry has been buoyed by the state’s more diverse and dynamic economy, and the coastal cities didn’t get the kind of unrestrained development that Florida’s beachfront cities saw.
“The enormous amount of speculation that occurred in Florida certainly contributed mightily to the decline, whereas in California you never had quite the tremendous supply of condominiums, and certainly there weren’t as many along the water,” said Lewis M. Goodkin, president of Goodkin Consulting Corp., a real estate research and advisory firm in Miami.
“Prices jumped dramatically, and now people are buying for 50 cents on the dollar, and I still don’t think it’s a bargain,” he said.
Recognizing that Florida’s foreclosure backlog remains a major impediment to the state’s recovery, the Florida Legislature this year approved $9.6 million to hire judges, magistrates, case managers and clerks to handle the foreclosure caseload in the state’s 20 circuit courts.
The state also sought to clear its big pile of bad loans faster by employing a special system of rapid court hearings that sometimes last less than a minute — a process that earned the nickname “rocket docket.”
“It would move much faster if the banks and the attorneys would get their act together,” said Orlando lawyer Matt Englett, who represents borrowers. “Most people, they don’t go hire lawyers and contest them. Most people don’t do anything.”
Top Headlines: November 5, 2010 November 5, 2010Posted by Admin in News.
Tags: aig, America, Auto, barack, Congress, economy, election, GOP, health care, jobs, may, obama, president, republican, sales, sarah palin, toyota, U.S.
Why Obama Is No Roosevelt – WSJ Opinion Piece November 4, 2010Posted by Admin in News.
Tags: barack, Congress, D.C., democrats, election, fdr, franklin, government, healthcare, john boehner, midterm, obama, obamacare, president, regulation, republicans, roosevelt, speaker of the hosue, wall street journal, Washington, wsj
Why Obama Is No Roosevelt
Roosevelt: ‘Your government has unmistakable confidence in your ability to hear the worst without flinching and losing heart.’ Obama: We don’t ‘always think clearly when we’re scared.’
Whatever the outcome of today’s election, this much is clear: It will be a long time before Americans ever again decide that the leadership of the nation should go to a legislator of negligible experience—with a voting record, as state and U.S. senator, consisting largely of “present,” and an election platform based on glowing promises of transcendence. A platform vowing, unforgettably, to restore us—a country lost to arrogance and crimes against humanity—to a place of respect in the world.
We would win back our allies who, so far as we knew, hadn’t been lost anywhere. Though once Mr. Obama was elected and began dissing them with returned Churchill busts and airy claims of ignorance about the existence of any special relationship between the United States and Great Britain, the British, at least, have been feeling less like pals of old.
In the nearly 24 months since Mr. Obama’s election, popular enthusiasm for him has gone the way of his famous speeches—lyrical, inspired and unburdened by the weight of concrete thought.
About the ingratitude of Democratic voters the president brooded in a September Rolling Stone interview. “If people now want to take their ball and go home,” he declared, “that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.” His vice president, Joe Biden, had a few days earlier contributed his own distinctive effort to seduce Democrats back to the fold by telling them to “stop whining.”
The results of this charm campaign remain to be seen. What’s clear now is that we’ve heard quite enough about the “angry electorate”—a peculiarly reductive view of citizens who’ve managed to read all the signs and detect an administration they were not prepared to live with.
Nothing wakened their instincts more than the administration’s insistence on its health-care bill—its whiff of totalitarian will, its secretiveness, its display of cold assurance that the new president’s social agenda trumped everything.
But it was about far more than health-care reform, or joblessness, or the great ideological divide between the president and the rest of the country. It was about an accumulation of facts quietly taken in that told Americans that the man they had sent to the White House had neither the character or the capacity to lead the country.
Their president was the toast of Europe, masterful before the adoring crowds—but one who had remarkably soon proved unable to inspire, in citizens at home, any belief that he was a leader they could trust. Or one who trusted them or their instincts. His Democratic voters were unhappy? They, and their limited capacities, were to blame.
These are conspicuous breaks in the armor of civility and charm that candidate Obama once showed—and those breaks are multiplying.
At a Democratic fund-raiser a few weeks ago, the president noted, in explanation for the Democrats’ lack of enthusiasm, that facts and science and argument aren’t winning the day because “we’re hard-wired not to always think clearly when we’re scared.” The suggestion was clear: The Democrats’ growing resistance to his policies was a product of the public’s lack of intellectual capacity and their fears.
Decades ago another president directly addressed Americans in a time of far greater peril. “Your government has unmistakable confidence in your ability to hear the worst without flinching and losing heart,” Franklin Roosevelt told his national audience. The occasion was a fireside chat delivered Feb. 23, 1942. No radio address then or since has ever imparted a presidential message so remarkable in its detail, complexity and faith in its audience.
It was delivered just a few months after Pearl Harbor, a time when the Allied cause looked bleakest. It would be known to history as “The Map Speech.” The president had asked Americans to have a map at hand, “to follow with me the references I shall make to the world- encircling battle lines of this war.” He took them through those lines, the status of battles around the globe, the enemy’s objectives, centers of raw material and far more. By the time they had finished poring over their maps with him they had had a considerable education.
It is impossible to imagine what might have been the effect if the current president, who is regularly compared to FDR—always a source of amazement—had tried anything like a detailed address explaining, say, the new health-care bill. Though this would have required knowledge of what was actually in the bill (a likely problem) and a readiness to share that news (an even greater one).
Visit WSJ.com on Tuesday night for live commentary from The Wall Street Journal editorial board.
Despite the ongoing work of legions grinding out endless new and improved proofs that FDR was a despoiler of democracy and our economic system, it is worth remembering the reason virtually all serious historians rank him among the top three of our greatest presidents.
Franklin Roosevelt led the nation through 12 years begun in incomparable national misery virtually to the end of the war. When he died, an anguished country mourned as it had not done since the death of Lincoln. Americans trusted him. The story is told of a man found weeping when Roosevelt’s funeral train went past, who was asked if he had known the president. “I didn’t know him,” he replied. “But he knew me.”
The times are now vastly different—no one expects a candidate with the powers of an FDR these days. But the requirements of leadership don’t change. Despite charm and intellect, Americans have never been able to see in Mr. Obama a president who spoke to them and for them. He has been their lecturer-in-chief, a planner of programs for his vision of a new and progressive society.
Plenty of suggestions, none of them feasible, are in the air now about how he can reposition himself for 2012, and move to the center. Mr. Obama is who he is: a man of deep-dyed ideological inclinations, with a persona to match. And that isn’t going away.
The Democrats may not take a complete battering in the current contest, but there is no doubt of the problems ahead. This election has everything to do with the man in the White House about whom Americans have lost their illusions. Illusions matter. Their loss is irrecoverable.
Ms. Rabinowitz is a member of the Journal’s editorial board.
Election Wrap Up – Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, LTC(R) Allen West, Peter Schiff & More November 4, 2010Posted by Admin in Dan Mangru, Interviews.
Tags: 2010, allen west, carl domino, carly fiorina, dan mangru, election, joseph abruzzo, marco rubio, midterm, peter schiff, The Mangru Report
With the election results finally winding down, it’s time to look back at some of our favorite candidate interviews and how they fared in the 2010 elections.
Marco Rubio – Candidate for U.S. Senate – Florida (Won)
Carly Fiorina – Candidate for U.S. Senate – California (Lost)
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Allen West – Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives – Florida (Won)
Peter Schiff – Candidate for U.S. Senate – Connecticut (Lost in Primary)
Joseph Abruzzo – Candidate for Florida House of Representatives – (Won)
Rep. Carl Domino – Candidate for Florida Senate – (Lost in Primary)
Interview with Edward Gonzalez – Candidate for U.S. Congress November 3, 2010Posted by Admin in Dan Mangru, Interviews.
Tags: budget, crisis, dan mangru, Edward Gonzalez, health care, interview, marijuana, obama, pension, recession, reform, The Mangru Report
Update: Edward Gonzalez made a strong showing as a libertarian candidate with 7% in his district.
*** Edward Gonzalez is a candidate for U.S. Congress in California’s 16th District.