Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Sunday 'Report;' 12/11/2011

What The National Pamphleteers Don't Report:
Obama's 'Tax Cut' Just One Item in a Holiday Spending Spree
by Brian H. Darling
December 5, 2011
The Obama class warfare campaign is in high gear.
    There are many must-pass bills for Congress to consider before year’s end, giving President Obama leverage to promote his class-warfare agenda.   The President has demanded that Congress continue and expand his payroll tax cut. His stimulus bill contained a 2% cut of the 6.2% Social Security tax rate, and to offset the loss of revenue, Obama would impose a 3.25% surtax on Americans making more than $1 million a year.  The Obama “tax cut” would actually not reduce the tax burden by one cent. The Obama tax cut isn’t pro-growth for two reasons: It’s not a permanent or a net reduction in taxes. It’s merely another campaign ploy by President Obama to attack the wallets of upper-middle class and wealthy Americans.
Getting Paid Not to Work
    Another issue being debated is an extension of unemployment benefits. By Dec. 31, benefits for the long-term unemployed who receive 99 weeks of income support will run out. Most expect a bill to pass to pay individuals not to work.  Liberals don’t want to cut spending elsewhere to pay for an extension of these benefits. They even argued that this costly program should have been part of the Super Committee deal to reduce the deficit. They want this passed, and they don’t care about the cost to the taxpayers.  Liberals argue that the extension of unemployment benefits provides a stimulus to the economy. James Sherk and Karen Campbell of The Heritage Foundation produced [....]

13 Cities Where Home Prices Are Falling Dangerously

by Morgan Brennan
December 8, 2011
(1 of 15-photos/text)
Cities Where Home Prices Are Falling Dangerously  The folks at Local Market Monitor compiled a list of the 13 cities that suffered relatively big home price hits this year with more projected through the next 12 months. LMM sifted through market data for more than 300 [....]

Fact Checking the Iowa Debate
by ABC News

December 10, 2011Fact Check 1 - We’ll lose 1.6 million jobs over five years under the affordable healthcare act.
Fact Check 2 - Newt Gingrich would build a colony on the moon.
Fact Check 3 - Payroll tax cut: band-aid, gimmick or something else all together?
Fact Check 4 – Romney’s record on the Affordable Care Act.
Fact Check 5 – HPV vaccine vs. Romney’s health care plan.
Fact Check 6 – Palestinians as an “invented” people?

Fact or Fiction Number 1 - We’ll lose 1.6 million jobs over five years under the affordable healthcare act.
ABC News’ Amy Bingham reports:
GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann came out swinging at the ABC News Iowa debate Saturday night, but rather than taking a jab at her comrades on stage, the Minnesota congresswoman directed her ire at President Obama.
In her first answer of the evening Bachmann blasted the president’s health care legislation, saying the Affordable Care Act would kill 1.6 million jobs.
“We can cut government bureaucracy, which is Obamacare,” Bachmann said. “N.F.I.B. tells us, that’s the small [....]
Providing In-State Tuition for Illegal Aliens: A Violation of Federal Law
by Hans von Spakovsky
Charles Stimson

November 22, 2011
    Federal law prohibits state colleges and universities from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens “on the basis of residence within the State”—unless the same in-state rates are offered to all citizens of the United States. Today, 12 states are circumventing this federal law, and the legal arguments offered to justify such actions are untenable, no matter what other policy arguments are offered in their defense. Because at least one federal court of appeals has held that there is no private right of action under the specific statute in question—§ 1623 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996—the U.S. Department of Justice must enforce this statutory provision against states that have violated federal law. Yet even as it sues states like Arizona and Alabama for trying to assist the enforcement of federal immigration law, the U.S. government refuses to sue states that are incontrovertibly and brazenly violating an unambiguous federal immigration law. Such inaction is unacceptable: The President and the Attorney General have an obligation to enforce every provision of the United State’s comprehensive federal immigration regulations—including the federal law prohibiting state colleges and universities from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens “on the basis of residence within the State.”
    In 1996, Congress passed—and President Bill Clinton signed into law—the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA).[i] Section 1623 of this federal statute prohibits state colleges and universities from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens “on the basis of residence within the State” unless the same in-state rates are offered to all citizens of the United States.[ii] Today, 12 states[iii] allow individuals who are in the United States illegally to pay the same in-state tuition rates as legal residents of the states[iv]—without providing the same rates to others. By circumventing the requirements of § 1623 these states are violating federal law, and the legal arguments offered to justify such actions are untenable, no matter what other policy arguments are offered in their defense.
A Nation of Laws, Not of Men
    The United States is a country of immigrants—men and women who sought opportunity and freedom in an exceptional new land. Americans take pride in their heritage and this country’s generous policies regarding legal immigration. Yet, as citizens of a sovereign nation, Americans retain the right to decide who can and cannot enter this country—and what terms immigrants and visitors must accept as a condition of residing in the United States. As mandated [....]

The Covert Intelligence War Against Iran
by Scott Stewart,
December 8, 2011

    There has been a lot of talk in the press lately about a “cold war” being waged by the United States, Israel and other U.S. allies against Iran. Such a struggle is certainly taking place, but in order to place recent developments in perspective, it is important to recognize that the covert intelligence war against Iran (and the Iranian response to this war) is clearly not a new phenomenon.  Indeed, STRATFOR has been chronicling this struggle since early 2007. Our coverage has included analyses of events such as the defection to the West of Iranian officials with knowledge of Tehran’s nuclear program; the Iranian seizure of British servicemen in the Shatt al Arab Waterway; the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists; the use of the Stuxnet worm to cripple Iranian uranium enrichment efforts; and Iranian efforts to arm its proxies and use them as a threat to counteract Western pressure. These proxies are most visible in Iraq and Lebanon, but they also exist in Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
    While the covert intelligence war has been under way for many years, the tempo of events that can readily be identified as part of it has been increasing over the past few months. It is important to note that many of these events are the result of hidden processes begun months or even years previously, so while visible events may indeed be increasing, the efforts responsible for many of them began to increase much earlier. What the activities of recent months do tell us is that the covert war between Iran and its enemies will not be [....]

Interest soars in US peer-to-peer lending
By Matt Kennard and Shannon Bond 
Financial Times
November 24, 2011
When Greg Dawson wanted to start his own photography business after graduating from college in 2003, he knew he needed money for expensive equipment and marketing materials to spread the word. He walked into his local Bank of America branch, asked for a small business loan – and was rejected.
I was just starting out in my career, with college debt and no assets,” he said. “They just laughed at me.”
A Google search, however, led him to Prosper, the pioneer of the peer-to-peer lending sector. P2P lending connects borrowers with lenders, with P2P companies taking a percentage from both sides of the transaction.  In the wake of the financial crisis, bank lending remains depressed even as hints of confidence have begun to return, and people are [....]

[Invisible Senator] Gillibrand’s faux fix
Loophole-ridden ethics ‘reform’
by Michael A. Walsh
New York Post
December 1, 2011

Yes, many of our men have grown rich in politics. I’ve made a big fortune out of the game, and I’m gettin’ richer every day . . . there’s an honest graft, and I’m an example of how it works. I might sum up the whole thing by sayin’: I seen my opportunities and I took ’em.”
That was Tammany Hall leader George Washington Plunkitt, explaining back at the turn of the last century how it was that so many political leaders had become wealthy in “public service.” But today’s pols make the old corrupt Democratic Party machine that ruled New York City for nearly a century look like pikers.
Pelosi’s pal: Kirsten Gillibrand’s bill wouldn’t do enough to end congressional insider trading.
    Take the disclosures two weeks ago on CBS’s “60 Minutes” that Congress is effectively exempt from insider-trading laws, and that members routinely act on nonpublic financial information that they acquire while doing the “people’s business” to boost their personal-investment portfolios.  Reporter Steve Kroft grilled former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on her uncanny trading ability: “I wanted to ask you why you and your husband back in March of 2008 accepted and participated in a very large IPO [initial public offering] deal from Visa at a time there was major legislation affecting the credit-card companies making its way through the House.”
Coincidentally, Pelosi’s net worth leaped 62 percent last year, to at least $35.2 million, attributed in news reports to “stock gains and smart investments.”
She’s not alone. Even in a down economy, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Major Leader Harry Reid and many others in Congress also saw handsome net-worth increases. In fact, some 245 of the 535 Congress members are millionaires, putting them squarely in the “one percent” that the Occupy Wall Street rabble is allegedly protesting.
Yet Pelosi could only sputter in reply: “I don’t know what your point is of your question.”
She may be the only one who can’t figure it out. Americans are finally waking up to the fact that we are ruled by oligarchs, many of whom entered Congress as folks of modest means and leave as millionaires and billionaires.
    According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the estimated median net worth of a US senator now stands at $2.56 million — a remarkable feat considering that congressional base pay is $174,000 a year. In addition to Social Security, members also get a generous retirement plan and health-care benefits, as well as an annual automatic cost-of-living increase — unless they vote not to accept it.  On top of all that, they get pensions that start at 80 percent of a qualifying member’s final salary. No wonder they spend so much money to win office and fight so hard to stay there.  Still, with public satisfaction with Congress at near-record lows, the stench is getting hard to ignore. Which is why Congress is pretending to do something about its appalling ethical problems. In the wake of the “60 Minutes” report, the House Ethics Committee issued a toothless warning against the use of nonpublic information to line members’ personal coffers, and two senators introduced legislation to stop congressional insider trading.
    Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) introduced his STOCK (Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge) Act, which would prohibit Pelosi-like shenanigans by Congress members and executive-branch officials. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) followed him with her own version [....]

JPMorgan Says Top European Stocks May Soar 84%
JPMorgan (JPM) expects European countries to get their house in order, boosting some shares by as much as 84% in the next 12 months.
Contributed by
December 7, 2011    The U.S. investment bank identifies the shares of 30 companies in various industries that are worth buying heading into  2012. Most of the top picks are diversified across countries, though there’s a concentration in France and Germany, the most stable in the eurozone.  A portfolio of JPMorgan’s top European picks for 2011 would have declined by 11% so far this year, compared with the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index’s 12% drop. EADS, a Dutch aerospace and defense company, was the best-performing pick this year, up 25%. Carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen was the firm’s worst selection, down 50%.
    Monday was a big day for Europe. France and Germany told the European Union that they must decide if they will accept greater central control over their national budgets. Then Standard & Poor’s said it may cut Germany’s and France’s AAA credit ratings as the agency put 15 euro nations on review for a possible downgrade.  U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is currently on a three-day trip to Europe to push European leaders to commit [....]

Rankings: Coughlin, Garrett on shaky ground

by Michael Silver,
Yahoo! Sports
December 7, 2011
It’s a battle for first place in the NFC East – with, potentially, one bummer of a booby prize.
For coaches Tom Coughlin and Jason Garrett, a defeat on Sunday night at Cowboys Stadium could be a hard shove toward the unemployment line. With Coughlin’s Giants (6-6) already reeling from a four-game losing streak and Garrett’s Cowboys coming off a brutal overtime defeat to the Cardinals that can be easily traced to the coach’s clock mismanagement, the specter of an ignominious collapse looms for the loser.
Heightening the drama is the perception that a pair of big-name coaches are hovering in the shadows as prospective replacements.  There has long been a sense that Bill Cowher, who coached the Steelers to a pair of Super Bowls before stepping aside five seasons ago, regards the Giants as his [....]

Congressional Salaries of Past Year
by Legistorm Staff
December, 2011
Our congressional staff salary data comes from the official records of the House and Senate. We currently have House salary data for the period covering October 1, 2000 to September 30, 2011 and Senate data from October 1, 2000 to September 30, 2011.

The amounts shown are not annual salaries but gross salary payments made during the periods shown. Read more about congressional staff salaries.
Browse Staff Salaries By ... [....]
Until Next Sunday....



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