Sanctions and Foreign Governments

The new Congress is pushing toward legislation that would increase sanctions on Iran should the current “negotiations” over Iran’s nuclear weapons program fail. President Barack Obama has promised to veto the legislation, insisting he’s got everything under control.

Then, on Friday last, British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a press conference held jointly with Obama that he’d been lobbying US Senators against that same legislation and that he intended to continue to do so. In the next sentence he lied about it being lobbying, insisting in wide-eyed innocence

That wouldn’t be right[.]

A Thought on $3.7 Billion

President Barack Obama thinks it’ll take $3.7 billion to handle the explosive flood of unaccompanied children pouring over our border as a result of his decision not to enforce our existing immigration laws. Obama wants the money to plus up existing border security, illegal alien housing in the border area and elsewhere, dealing with the health problems these children are unavoidably bringing with them, transportation, handling legal matters, and so on.

Assuming the money should be spent (a position I don’t endorse, but stay with me), I have a thought on how the money should be allocated. I’d pass a $3.7 billion appropriation that allocates the money in this way:

IRS’ Computers

During Monday night’s House Oversight Committee hearing, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen tried to deflect blame for the missing Lerner Emails by claiming that the IRS’ computer systems were outdated, obsolete, prone to PC hard drive crashes, and it’s all due to lack of funding:

It is not unusual for computers anywhere to fail, especially at the IRS in light of the aged equipment IRS employees often have to use in light of the continual cuts in its budget these past four years. Since January 1 of this year, for example, over 2,000 employees have suffered hard drive crashes.

Another Failed Government Farm Policy

The US government is being forced to support sugar companies even though taxpayers are already footing a $280 million bill stemming from loans the companies can’t repay.

The loans are all part of the Feds’ farm policy of propping up sugar prices.  So 300 million American sugar consumers can pay artificially high prices to benefit a few sugar farmers.

All told, Alexandra Wexler wrote in her Wall Street Journal article at the above link,

processors defaulted on $171.5 million in 2013, even after the USDA spent $106.7 million buying sugar to boost prices.

The Mendacity of Zero-Tolerance Policies

Here’s another example.  A 17-year-old high school student (and volleyball player) in the North Andover Public Schools system, Erin Cox, was texted by a friend at a (underage) drinking party who needed a ride home.  Notwithstanding the judgment that brought the friend to such a gathering, this young lady retained the good sense to ask for help, recognizing that she was too drunk to drive herself.  Cox answered the call.

Shortly after she arrived to pick up her friend and bring her home, though, the police also arrived and made a number of arrests—not including Cox.  The police involved absolved her of any wrong-doing, recognizing she was there to help a friend and not a party participant.

The Fed’s Move

In the last week, the Federal Reserve Bank has said that it’s going to keep on buying mortgage debt (euphemistically called “mortgage-backed securities (MBS)”), and that it’s actually going to increase the purchase rate.  In addition to buying up MBS at $40 billion per month, they’re also going to buy $45 billion/mo of T-bonds.  Astonishingly, they’re going to pay for both by issuing new reserves to banks.  The Fed will continue to do this until certain unemployment thresholds are crossed.

James Pethokoukis, writing for Ricochet, suggests in quoting Economist David Beckworth, that this is a good thing:

Are We Like Europe Now?

Current Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize four years ago on his ascension to the American Presidency for his flowery rhetoric during his campaign tour of Europe.  (I’ll skip over his…flowery…behaviors in pursuing his own agenda in the ensuing years.)  Now the European Union also has received the accolade, for—flowery rhetoric?  (I’ll skip over the…flowery…responses within the EU’s member populations to being held accountable for their budgetary decisions.)

As the editorialists of The New York Sun put it,

Student Subsidies and the Federal Government

I’ve written before about the failure of subsidies, their feel-good and superficial benefits notwithstanding.  The student subsidy that is a Pell Grant is a case in point.

Jenna Robinson and Duke Cheston, of the Pope Center for Higher Education, reported a bit ago on the growing excesses of the Pell Grant program (the full report can be read here or here).  The program consumed some $36 billion in the 2009-2010 academic year, half the Department of Education’s budget.  This also is—surprise—the Federal government’s largest education expenseinvestment.

Pause for Commercial

My book, A Conservative’s Manifesto: A Brief Discussion of some Principles, has been published, and it can be found, among other places, at (paperback, Kindle, or hardcover) and at Barnes & Noble (paperback, Nook, or hardcover). Links also can be found nearby in the column to the right and on the newly added Books page.

Gridlock Works

Lost in the hoo-raw over the payroll tax reduction extension at the end of the year was Congressional inaction on a couple of other weighty matters—and this inaction redounds to our benefit.

Congress failed to continue a 45 cent per gallon tax credit for corn-based ethanol and a 54 cent per gallon tariff on imported ethanol (mostly from Brazil—Obama wants us to be one of their best customers).  Since these two items were among the few things Congress even constructed reasonably—they actually had sunset clauses—they expired Dec. 31.  Of course we can expect the Progressives to attempt to redress this egregious failure or to score the evil Republicans for stopping a resumption—that is, if the Republicans find their courage, lost in the debt ceiling fiasco and which loss was underscored by their screw-up on the payroll tax reduction, and block a resumption.