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Paul Ryan: No federal bailouts coming for Illinois and California

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 09-01-2011

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Paul Ryan, right, with Joel Pollak

The Illinois Review tells us that Congress-which of course includes a Republican-majority House of Representatives-won’t be bailing out the spending addicts in Illinois and California.  Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, tells it like it is:

“Should taxpayers in frugal states be bailing out taxpayers in profligate states?” Ryan asked during a forum near the Capitol. “Should taxpayers in Indiana, who have paid their bills on time, who have done their job fiscally, be bailing out Californians, who haven’t? No, that’s a moral hazard we are not interested in creating.”

From Bloomberg lets the boom down:

“We expect state and local governments to wrestle with their fiscal problems on their own without help from the federal government,” said Natalie Cohen, a New York-based senior analyst for the bank, in a report. She said 35 states haven’t reported midyear deficits, while Illinois’s $ 13 billion gap is 47 percent of its budget. In California, she said, the current-year imbalance amounts to 6.6 percent of the spending plan.

Moody’s Investors Service said yesterday in a report that this year won’t bring any defaults on state debt it rated. There were no defaults last year involving state and local securities it rated, the New York-based company said.

Illinois and California created their messes-they should clean them up. Start with cutting spending. Banning public-sector unions will provide residual financial benefits too.

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Marathon Pundit

Greg Ip on Paul Ryan’s “Fiscy”

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 09-01-2011

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Excellent post from Greg Ip on the strange notion of giving Representative Paul Ryan an award for commitment to deficit reduction:

It’s a good thing for Mr Ryan the Fiscy relates only to the fiscal year that ended on September 30th, because ever since then he’s been acting less like a deficit hawk. Like Mr Conrad, Mr Ryan was a member of the Bowles-Simpson commission. Unlike Mr Conrad, he voted against its plan to stabilise the debt despite calling it “serious and credible”. He opposed it because it left Mr Obama’s health-care reform intact, and because it relied too much on tax increases, even though these were smaller than the plan’s spending cuts. The opposition by Mr Ryan and his two fellow House Republicans more or less guaranteed the plan would die.

A few days later Mr Ryan congratulated Mr Obama for acting “responsibly” in capitulating to Republicans and agreeing to an $ 800 billion-plus package that extends all of George Bush’s tax cuts and implements new temporary stimulus composed overwhelmingly of tax cuts. Whatever its merits as stimulus, its complete absence of any linkage to long-term deficit reduction is antithetical to the principals behind the Fiscy. […]

[T]he most important reason to question Mr Ryan’s deficit-hawk credentials was his support for certain changes to the budget process to constrain spending. Specifically, “Paygo”, the current rule that requires any cut in taxes or increase in spending be offset by equivalent tax increases or spending cuts elsewhere in the budget, will be replaced with “Cutgo”, which imposes that requirement only on spending. The new rules could actually weaken rather than strengthen, deficit reduction; so says none other than the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

I’m a liberal. And I think, as does everyone who thinks about it for fifteen minutes, that the debt:GDP ratio needs to be stabilized over the long-term and that stabilizing it at a relatively low level would be better than stabilizing it at a high level. And I think the kind of people who give out “fiscy” awards don’t want liberals to immediately put their fingers in their ears when people start talking about deficit reduction. But it’s impossible for progressives to take the organized deficit reduction movement seriously under these circumstances.


Yglesias

Greg Ip on Paul Ryan’s “Fiscy”

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 09-01-2011

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Excellent post from Greg Ip on the strange notion of giving Representative Paul Ryan an award for commitment to deficit reduction:

It’s a good thing for Mr Ryan the Fiscy relates only to the fiscal year that ended on September 30th, because ever since then he’s been acting less like a deficit hawk. Like Mr Conrad, Mr Ryan was a member of the Bowles-Simpson commission. Unlike Mr Conrad, he voted against its plan to stabilise the debt despite calling it “serious and credible”. He opposed it because it left Mr Obama’s health-care reform intact, and because it relied too much on tax increases, even though these were smaller than the plan’s spending cuts. The opposition by Mr Ryan and his two fellow House Republicans more or less guaranteed the plan would die.

A few days later Mr Ryan congratulated Mr Obama for acting “responsibly” in capitulating to Republicans and agreeing to an $ 800 billion-plus package that extends all of George Bush’s tax cuts and implements new temporary stimulus composed overwhelmingly of tax cuts. Whatever its merits as stimulus, its complete absence of any linkage to long-term deficit reduction is antithetical to the principals behind the Fiscy. […]

[T]he most important reason to question Mr Ryan’s deficit-hawk credentials was his support for certain changes to the budget process to constrain spending. Specifically, “Paygo”, the current rule that requires any cut in taxes or increase in spending be offset by equivalent tax increases or spending cuts elsewhere in the budget, will be replaced with “Cutgo”, which imposes that requirement only on spending. The new rules could actually weaken rather than strengthen, deficit reduction; so says none other than the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

I’m a liberal. And I think, as does everyone who thinks about it for fifteen minutes, that the debt:GDP ratio needs to be stabilized over the long-term and that stabilizing it at a relatively low level would be better than stabilizing it at a high level. And I think the kind of people who give out “fiscy” awards don’t want liberals to immediately put their fingers in their ears when people start talking about deficit reduction. But it’s impossible for progressives to take the organized deficit reduction movement seriously under these circumstances.


Yglesias

Paul Krugman Blames Giffords Shooting on Palin, Limbaugh and Beck

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 09-01-2011

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While Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) fights for her life in a Tucson, Arizona, hospital, liberal media members continue to point fingers of blame for Saturday's tragic shooting spree at prominent conservatives such as Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck.

Jumping on this pathetic bandwagon Saturday was New York Times columnist Paul Krugman:

read more

NewsBusters.org – Exposing Liberal Media Bias

Paul Krugman Blames Giffords Shooting on Palin, Limbaugh and Beck

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 08-01-2011

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While Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) fights for her life in a Tucson, Arizona, hospital, liberal media members continue to point fingers of blame for Saturday's tragic shooting spree at prominent conservatives such as Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck.

Jumping on this pathetic bandwagon Saturday was New York Times columnist Paul Krugman:

read more

NewsBusters.org – Exposing Liberal Media Bias

After Defeat By Rand Paul, Kentucky’s Trey Grayson Lands At Harvard

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 08-01-2011

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ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:

Where do former U.S. Senate candidates go after a painful defeat at the polls? In Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson’s case, the answer is Harvard.

Grayson, who lost to Sen. Rand Paul in the state’s GOP Senate primary last year, is heading to the university to run its prestigious Institute of Politics — a gathering place for students, academics, politicians and activists based at the Kennedy School of Government.

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Grayson, who received his undergraduate degree in government from Harvard College in 1994. While there he served on the Institute’s student advisory board.

“I am excited and humbled to be selected as Director. The IOP played a pivotal role in developing my interest and approach to politics and public service,” Grayson said in a statement on Friday. “I look forward to working with the staff, students, and my Kennedy School colleagues to inspire a new generation of undergraduates to pursue public service like I did.”

Paul, newly sworn in as a senator this week, defeated Grayson in one of the country’s most contentious primary fights, and one that amounted to an early test of the influence of the Tea Party movement.

Although Grayson enjoyed the support of key establishment figures in Washington, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, he ended up losing to Paul by a considerable 58 percent to 35 percent margin in the May primary. Paul went on to fend off a challenge from Democrat Jack Conway in the November general election.

In his new position, Grayson follows in the footsteps of other prominent political figures who spent time at the Institute of Politics before, after or in between jobs in public office, including New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and former Iowa Congressman Jim Leach, who now heads the National Endowment for the Humanities.

And in the spirit of bipartisanship, Caroline Kennedy called Grayson “exactly the right person to lead the IOP as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of my father’s Presidency,” in a statement issued by Harvard.

Grayson will take over on Jan. 31 for former U.S. Senator John C. Culver, an Iowa Democrat, who has served as interim director since July 2010.

 





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The Note

The Problem with a Paul Ryan-Marco Rubio Ticket

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 07-01-2011

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William Jacobson:

Bill Kristol has floated the idea of a Paul Ryan – Marco Rubio ticket in 2012:

Having just returned from the e21 and Manhattan Institute-sponsored Conversation with Paul Ryan (very ably conducted by Paul Gigot)-and having seen Marco Rubio speak recently as well, I’ll just say this: Wouldn’t it be easier just to agree now on a Ryan-Rubio ticket, and save everyone an awful lot of time, effort, and money over the next year and a half?

Having seen Ryan in action the past few days, there is no doubt he would eat Obama alive in a debate, and Rubio would filet Joey Biden.

My first reaction was: Finally, a GOP ticket for which I could vote.

My second reaction was: OMG. You see, I believe that one of the markers of getting old-really old-is that the authority figures in your life are no longer older than you are. Think about it. When you’re a kid, all the authority figures are older: Your parents, your teacher, your boss, your doctor, your priest, the President. As you get older, they tumble one by one. You go from Marcus Welby to Doogie Howser in one area of life after another. And it sucks.

I’ve already had to deal with a boss, a doctor, a priest, and one president that are all a few years younger than I am. But just a few years.

Ryan is 41, Rubio is 40. They’re practically still kids, at least in my aging eyes. And having them running the country would make me feel very, very old.

This is one big reason I’m leaning at this point towards supporting Rudy — warts and all — Giuliani, who apparently plans to run, in 2012. It’d be nice to have a President old enough to make me feel young again.




ProfessorBainbridge.com

Rand Paul: If GOP doesn’t keep promises, Americans should send us all home

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 06-01-2011

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Coming in to the US Senate, Rand Paul is not forgetful about why the Tea Party sent him and other republicans to Washington.

In fact, during an interview Paul said if the GOP does not keep its promises, they should all be sent home.

Liberty Pundits Blog

Vieira to Paul Ryan: It Feels Like the GOP is Out For ‘Revenge’

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 05-01-2011

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NBC's Meredith Vieira wasted no time in jumping down Paul Ryan's throat, on Wednesday's Today show, as she said it appeared the Republican Party did not care as much about creating jobs, since they seemed to be more focused on repealing Obamacare, which the Today co-anchor characterized as "an act of revenge." For his part the Wisconsin Republican Congressman responded that repealing Obamacare law had everything to do with creating jobs since, as he educated Vieira, "The health care bill has massive tax increases on individuals and employers that will cost us jobs," as seen in the following exchange:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: As of today Republicans control the House, and as Matt just brought up, one of the key points on your agenda will be attempting to repeal the health care plan. But given the fact you do not have the votes in the Senate, as Senator McCain just pointed out, and the President has veto power. And also given the fact that the American voters, in the midterm elections, made it clear that what they care about most right now are jobs and the economy, why go down this path at all? It almost feels like an act of revenge on the part of the Republican Party?

REP. PAUL RYAN: Well, first of all, this is related to jobs and the economy. The health care bill has massive tax increases on individuals and employers that will cost us jobs. So this, don't think that this isn't related to jobs.

Vieira went on to belittle House Republicans' move to cut their own budgets but then cited the New York Times to claim they were "backtracking" on their promises to cut spending, which was yet another error Ryan was forced to correct as seen in this back and forth:

read more

NewsBusters.org – Exposing Liberal Media Bias

Vieira to Paul Ryan: It Feels Like the GOP is Out For ‘Revenge’

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 05-01-2011

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NBC's Meredith Vieira wasted no time in jumping down Paul Ryan's throat, on Wednesday's Today show, as she said it appeared the Republican Party did not care as much about creating jobs, since they seemed to be more focused on repealing Obamacare, which the Today co-anchor characterized as "an act of revenge." For his part the Wisconsin Republican Congressman responded that repealing Obamacare law had everything to do with creating jobs since, as he educated Vieira, "The health care bill has massive tax increases on individuals and employers that will cost us jobs," as seen in the following exchange:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: As of today Republicans control the House, and as Matt just brought up, one of the key points on your agenda will be attempting to repeal the health care plan. But given the fact you do not have the votes in the Senate, as Senator McCain just pointed out, and the President has veto power. And also given the fact that the American voters, in the midterm elections, made it clear that what they care about most right now are jobs and the economy, why go down this path at all? It almost feels like an act of revenge on the part of the Republican Party?

REP. PAUL RYAN: Well, first of all, this is related to jobs and the economy. The health care bill has massive tax increases on individuals and employers that will cost us jobs. So this, don't think that this isn't related to jobs.

Vieira went on to belittle House Republicans' move to cut their own budgets but then cited the New York Times to claim they were "backtracking" on their promises to cut spending, which was yet another error Ryan was forced to correct as seen in this back and forth:

read more

NewsBusters.org blogs

What’s “Weird” About Ron Paul?

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 05-01-2011

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In a recent Ron Paul interview at National Review Online, the magazine outlined some of the ways in which the 11-term Texas Congressman has always been out of sync with the mainstream Republican Party and conservative movement, determining that Paul was “unquestionably a little weird.” Is this true? Is Ron Paul “weird?”

Paul was so weird during his 2008 bid for the GOP nomination for president that the Republican Party wouldn’t even let him in the door at their national convention. Yet, Sen. Joe Lieberman — a big government liberal who’d been Al Gore’s running mate on the 2000 Democrat presidential ticket — was given a prime-time speaking role. Few mainstream Republicans thought this was “weird.”

Four months before the 2008 Republican convention, columnist Larry Kudlow gushed over Lieberman at National Review‘s “The Corner” under the headline, “Joe Lieberman: Absolutely Brilliant.” Wrote Kudlow: “Sen. Joe Lieberman gave a brilliant speech last night at Commentary magazine’s annual dinner at the University Club in New York. It was one hell of a great talk. Joe Lieberman was incredibly impressive. Absolutely brilliant. Mr. Lieberman talked at some length about how the Democratic party has completely departed from the strong national-security principles of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy… It was a tour-de-force speech that impressed me once again with the brilliance of Joe Lieberman. Frankly, he would make a good president.”

Lieberman “brilliant?” Has anyone at National Review ever called the much more conservative Paul “brilliant” or suggested he’d make a good president? At the time, did anyone think it was “weird” that someone at National Review would say this about Lieberman? Were such conservatives even concerned about Lieberman’s overall big government agenda that he had advocated for his entire political career? Or were Lieberman’s hawkish foreign-policy views so attractive to certain establishment conservatives, at National Review and elsewhere, that they were willing to form political alliances with fairly liberal candidates based solely on foreign policy-at the expense of everything else?

Ask John McCain.

In protest, Paul ended up holding a counter convention across the street from the Republican convention, the theme of which centered on returning to fiscal sanity, constitutional government, and a more humble foreign policy. Weird stuff indeed. In the 2010 midterm elections, the rhetoric from the Tea Party sounded a lot closer to Paul’s convention than the war rally the Republican Party held in 2008. In fact, today McCain and other Republicans who shunned Paul in 2008 now try to sound a lot more like him, constantly fearing the Tea Party’s ballot-box wrath.

Did anyone think it was weird that National Review would endorse Mitt Romney in the 2008 GOP presidential primaries, despite the former Massachusetts governor not having any conservative record to stand on, which included his pro-choice stance, advocacy for gay rights, anti-2nd amendment positions, and tacit support of amnesty for illegal aliens? How about government-run healthcare in Massachusetts, or “Romneycare,” which served as the model for Obamacare? Of course, Romney flipped on these issues when he decided to run for president, or as National Review would admit in their endorsement of Romney, “Some conservatives question his sincerity. It is true that he has reversed some of his positions.” Some? How about all of them, or at least those of most concern to conservatives. Romney also supported TARP and defends it to this day-which has become political kryptonite in the new Tea Party environment.

But what about Ron Paul, who is far more socially conservative, staunchly pro-life, consistently for the 2nd amendment, against amnesty and has always opposed government-run healthcare and TARP? He’s “weird.” Unquestionably.

And National Review has a point. Ron Paul is indeed weird compared to a Republican Party in 2008 so obsessed with the Iraq war that they didn’t mind supporting guys like Lieberman or McCain, were willing to embrace political chameleons like Romney, or turn a blind eye to the doubling of government and debt under Bush. Throughout all this craziness, Ron Paul’s limited government principles remained the same, making him the odd man out in a conservative movement gone mad. Now that the war narrative that was so popular under Bush has lost its luster, these same establishment Republicans are trying to play catch up ball with the Tea Party, changing their respective tunes accordingly, with McCain perhaps being a perfect example. But Ron Paul doesn’t have to play catch up ball. He’s the same old budget-cutting, government-slashing Republican he’s been since he first entered public office, a Tea Partier since day one. Weird.

Paul used to be virtually alone among Republicans in his fight to audit the Federal Reserve. Not anymore. On limiting government and voting constitutionally, Paul was considered an “extremist” even by most in his own party. Now the grassroots is closer to Paul’s “extremism” than not. On foreign policy, it is true that conservatives have not come to fully embrace Paul’s non-interventionism-but they’re not exactly embracing Joe Lieberman anymore either. Are conservatives becoming “weirder?” Or has Paul been right about many of these issues all along, something more conservatives are beginning to concede?

Truth be told, from the last election to today, the degree to which Paul has been out of sync with his party and the larger conservative movement has more often reflected where everyone but Ron Paul has strayed from conservative principles. National Review is correct to note that the congressman is weird among conservatives — Ron Paul has never been as confused, hypocritical or politically schizophrenic as the larger conservative movement. Weird.

The American Conservative

Reason.tv: David Stockman on TARP, the Fed, Ron Paul and Reagan

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 03-01-2011

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At the very start of the “Reagan revolution,” David Stockman exposed the myth that Ronald Reagan and the modern Republican Party are dedicated to small government.

In 1981, the 35-year-old Stockman gave up his Michigan seat in Congress to become Reagan’s budget director. A vocal critic of what he continues to call the “welfare-warfare state,” Stockman had signed on because he believed in the limited government rhetoric that Reagan espoused. Once inside the White House, Stockman quickly became disenchanted, and gave an interview to journalist William Greider that became the basis for an explosive Atlantic Monthly article in which Stockman admitted that Reagan’s spending cuts had been a “Trojan horse” used to justify tax cuts. In his 1985 memoir, The Triumph of Politics, Stockman chronicled Reagan’s reluctance to fulfill his campaign promise of shrinking the size and scope of government and balancing the budget. The result? The gross federal debt tripled while Reagan was in office.

Last fall, Stockman was the GOP-defector du jour once more, arguing against extending George W. Bush’s tax rates in the New York Times, on 60 Minutes, the Colbert Report, Parker-Spitzer, ABC, NPR, and MSNBC. Stockman’s argument – that it’s irresponsible to cut taxes when cumulative U.S. debt is steadily mounting as a percentage of GDP – is based on the simple principle that balanced budgets come only when revenues actually meet expenditures. If we’re not willing to actually shrink government spending, he says, then we should pay full freight now, rather than forcing our children and grandchildren to foot the bill down the line.

Here’s what didn’t come across in Stockman’s media blitz: Since writing The Triumph of Politics he says he has “completed his homework” by reading libertarian economists such as Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Murray Rothbard. He thinks TARP was a big-government boondoggle and the bailouts of GM and Chrysler unconscionable. Stimulus spending is a hoax. He sees the abandonment of the gold standard in favor of floating exchange rates as the root cause of both the country’s fiscal problems and the 2008 financial crisis. He says that Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) is the only politician today “who gets it” and he’s hopeful that Paul’s growing power may begin to shed light on “the scholastic arrogance” of the Federal Reserve. He’s still against the welfare-warfare state and he thinks government should be cut down to size.

Reason.tv’s Nick Gillespie sat down with Stockman for a wide-ranging discussion that touched on tax cuts, monetary policy, TARP, Ronald Reagan, his tenure as a Michigan Congressman, and the gold standard.

Approximately 42-minutes. Click here for a 7.30 minute version of the interview.

Click here for the complete 42-minute version of this interview.

Camera by Jim Epstein and Hawk Jensen. Edited by Epstein and Joshua Swain.

Scroll down for downloadable version of this and all our videos and subscribe to Reason.tv’s YouTube channel to receive automatic notification when new material goes live.


Big Government

Bachmann And Ron Paul Liken Insurance Mandate To Forcing Americans Into Harry Potter Movie

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 03-01-2011

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The Hill’s Jason Millman points out that “House Republicans, including Tea Party favorites Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Ron Paul (Texas)” have filed an amicus brief urging the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn U.S. District Court Judge George Steeh’s decision upholding the constitutionality of the individual mandate provision in the Affordable Care Act. In October, Steeh was the first of two federal judges “to rule that the Constitution’s Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to require individuals to purchase health insurance.” The lawmakers’ brief claims that if the federal government can force Americans to purchase health insurance coverage, it “would have the power to force citizens to engage in any activity that might conceivably affect commerce in some way” — including seeing the new Harry Potter movie:

The same logic can be used to justify virtually any other mandate Congress might care to impose—even a mandate requiring everyone to see the most recent Harry Potter movie. After all, just about everyone participates in the market for entertainment. Choosing not to go to the movies is just “an economic decision to try to pay for [other entertainment] services later.” Id. Health insurance is undoubtedly an important good. But it has no unique characteristics that transform failure to purchase it into an “economic activity.”

The difference, of course, is quote stark. We don’t have to see movies in the same way that we need access to quality health care. Not seeing Potter won’t kill you, skipping a doctor’s visit might. Entertainment costs also don’t create any kind of cost-shift and are not something we finance through insurance because movies are a predictable expense that are paid for in relatively small installments.

Health care costs, on the other hand, come at you out of the blue and can be enormous. While a young person may choose to forgo coverage in their 20s, eventually she or he will become sick and will need medical attention. Without the mandate, that individual will either be denied coverage because she or he is too sick (remember, if you lose the mandate, the insurance regulations go with it ) or they’ll be priced out of the market. A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million adults — or 36 percent of those who applied for coverage in the individual market — were denied insurance “because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years.” Left uninsured, those 12 million Americans will skip critical doctor visits or avoid treatment, allowing a small medical problem to become a chronic medical condition in need of medical attention. If she or he doesn’t have health insurance, the costs of care are shifted throughout the system – picked up by the government and private premium payers.

Wonk Room

Energy and global warming news for December 28: Warming-driven beetles massacre The Rockies’ whitebark pines; Paul Krugman on ‘The Finite World’ aka Limits to Growth

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 29-12-2010

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Many dead trees appear gray and red.

Many dead trees appear gray and red on the high-mountain slopes of Union Pass Bridger in Teton National Forest in Wyoming

Small Beetles Massacre The Rockies’ Whitebark Pines

The Whitebark pine trees in the high-elevation areas of America’s Northern Rockies have stood for centuries. But these formerly lush evergreen forests are disappearing at an alarmingly fast rate; what remains are eerie stands of red and gray snags.

Warmer climates have sparked an outbreak of a voracious mountain pine beetle that is having devastating consequences for whitebarks and the wildlife that depend on them.

If you want to see how quickly tiny mountain pine beetles are devouring Yellowstone’s majestic whitebark forests, you have to ski uphill — way uphill. The trees only grow at altitudes higher than 8,500 feet above sea level.

As entomologist Jesse Logan looks up at snow-covered slopes speckled with skeletons of dead trees, he says the massacre is happening faster than even he expected. More than a decade ago, Logan predicted that with global warming, these tiny, ravenous beetles would start to thrive here. At the time, other insect experts were skeptical. But in recent years, winter cold snaps haven’t been nearly as brutal as usual.

“It’s the sort of time in your life that you hope to hell you’re absolutely dead wrong, and it comes to be that you weren’t right enough,” Logan says. “And now I wonder if my grandchild will ever have the experience of being in white bark.”

For background, see:

The NPR story continues:

So what can be done to prevent the whitebarks from dying?

“There’s not any silver bullet or like a pesticide or something we can apply,” Logan says. “That’s just not going to happen. What we can do is begin to address seriously the issue of climate change. That’s what’s really causing this.”

But it’s no easy task getting governments and individuals to make the significant changes necessary to significantly reduce human contributions to global warming.

And the beetles are making it even harder to fight climate change. As the trees they’ve killed decay, they release the carbon dioxide that they’ve been storing into the atmosphere.

Paul Krugman:  The Finite World

Oil is back above $ 90 a barrel. Copper and cotton have hit record highs. Wheat and corn prices are way up. Over all, world commodity prices have risen by a quarter in the past six months.

So what’s the meaning of this surge?

Is it speculation run amok? Is it the result of excessive money creation, a harbinger of runaway inflation just around the corner? No and no.

What the commodity markets are telling us is that we’re living in a finite world, in which the rapid growth of emerging economies is placing pressure on limited supplies of raw materials, pushing up their prices. And America is, for the most part, just a bystander in this story.

Some background: The last time the prices of oil and other commodities were this high, two and a half years ago, many commentators dismissed the price spike as an aberration driven by speculators. And they claimed vindication when commodity prices plunged in the second half of 2008.

But that price collapse coincided with a severe global recession, which led to a sharp fall in demand for raw materials. The big test would come when the world economy recovered. Would raw materials once again become expensive?

Well, it still feels like a recession in America. But thanks to growth in developing nations, world industrial production recently passed its previous peak — and, sure enough, commodity prices are surging again….

… commodity prices are set globally, and what America does just isn’t that important a factor.In particular, today, as in 2007-2008, the primary driving force behind rising commodity prices isn’t demand from the United States. It’s demand from China and other emerging economies. As more and more people in formerly poor nations are entering the global middle class, they’re beginning to drive cars and eat meat, placing growing pressure on world oil and food supplies.

And those supplies aren’t keeping pace. Conventional oil production has been flat for four years; in that sense, at least, peak oil has arrived. True, alternative sources, like oil from Canada’s tar sands, have continued to grow. But these alternative sources come at relatively high cost, both monetary and environmental.

Also, over the past year, extreme weather — especially severe heat and drought in some important agricultural regions — played an important role in driving up food prices. And, yes, there’s every reason to believe that climate change is making such weather episodes more common.

So what are the implications of the recent rise in commodity prices? It is, as I said, a sign that we’re living in a finite world, one in which resource constraints are becoming increasingly binding. This won’t bring an end to economic growth, let alone a descent into Mad Max-style collapse. It will require that we gradually change the way we live, adapting our economy and our lifestyles to the reality of more expensive resources.

But that’s for the future. Right now, rising commodity prices are basically the result of global recovery. They have no bearing, one way or another, on U.S. monetary policy. For this is a global story; at a fundamental level, it’s not about us.

Climate Progress

‘We Need a Libertarian Che Guevara’: Activist Starchild on Ron Paul, Ayn Rand, & San Fran’s Street-Level Libertarianism

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 29-12-2010

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“We need a libertarian Che Guevara,” says libertarian activist Starchild, who makes a living as an erotic services provider.

Reason.tv’s Tim Cavanaugh sat down with Starchild, who recently ran forSan Francisco School Board as the Libertarian candidate, at the Libertopia 2010 conference in Hollywood. Their discussion covers topics such as the history of the libertarian movement, why San Francisco actually is a very libertarian city despite being named Reason.tv’s Nanny of the Year, why libertarians need to look to groups such as the Black Panthers as models for political activism, and how Starchild managed to convert Tim Cavanaugh to libertarianism.

Approximately 9 minutes. Camera by Zach Weissmueller and Adam Hawk Jensen. Edited by Weissmueller.

Go to Reason.tv for downloadable versions. Subscribe to Reason.tv’s YouTube channel to receive automatic notification when new material goes live.


Big Government