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In order to keep up with the nature of free, spirited debate, I wanted to place the chat feature at the top of the homepage. This ensures people can come here and share their views on anything they wish and not have it be related to any specific discussion. Here, people can share ideas, links, and views "unmoderated" and an their own pace. To me, this makes The Elephant in the Room blog truly a place for debate.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May 17, 2012 - Morning Headlines

- A U.N. report claims that Iran has been shipping weapons to Syria (CNN):

- The judge in the John Edwards campaign finance trial has set a lower bar for conviction than the defense had sought (ABC News):

- An autopsy report shows that Trayvon Martin had injured his knuckles (Fox News):

*** Be sure to vote in the new weekly LME gay marriage poll on the left ***


  1. RKen, on a post from May 15 you said:

    The total wages paid to government employees in 2010 was $16.2 billion.

    I read this article this morning:

    Feds paid $430 million in bonuses

    They say that the Federal Employee payroll is $105 Billion. Either one of you (RKen or author of the article) are wrong in your numbers or the government employees got a healthy raise this year.

    To be honest, I thought your number was a little low the other day.

    Oh yeah, and yesterday you were right, the Stimulus was first and foremost a "jobs bill". In my defense, 0bama did reference putting Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling bridges and dams in a statement he made at the signing of the stimulus bill. I got it mixed up a bit, but I didn't flat out make it up. Oops and sorry.

    I am pointing out the payroll discrepancy for your benefit. You seem to like facts.

    Have a fabulous day RKen.

    1. Hi Slim,

      I posted the source along with that claim, which was this:

      And actually, in looking more closely I was in fact incorrect. For whatever reason, that report only listed the payroll for the month of March (bazaar). That threw me off; I assumed it was a year summary.

      Assuming payrolls are relatively consistent throughout the year that would then put the yearly federal employee payroll at $194 billion for 2010.

      Seems that still doesn't match your article though...

      Reading it further, it looks like they discounted a chunk of federal employees related to military and some obscure areas. So perhaps that's where the discrepancy lies? Or maybe March has an uptick in federal payroll related to tax filing? Don't know, still seems a bit off.

      Thanks for the heads up though; always appreciate accurate info!

      Have a great day too!

    2. I have to admit RKen, I was lazy and didn't look at your link as you are usually accurate on your stats (meaning I don't think you just make numbers up or knowingly cite bogus numbers). I did think that number seemed low and I even wondered if it was a quarterly number or monthly.

      I wonder what the TRUE payroll for all federal employees is, because in light of your monthly number for March I tend to agree more with your number of $194 Billion. However that only counts their salary I would bet. Their benefits likely cost us an additional $65 Billion.

      This is more of what my complaint is with federal workers pay:

      "Federal civil servants earned average pay and benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data are the latest available.

      Federal compensation has grown 36.9% since 2000 after adjusting for inflation, compared with 8.8% for private workers."

      My contention RKen is that stuff like that affects me as a taxpayer much more so than than some CEO making a $20 million compensation package. I know we don't agree on that but just wanted to clarify my position a little.

  2. "Breitbart News has obtained a promotional booklet produced in 1991 by Barack Obama's then-literary agency, Acton & Dystel, which touts Obama as "born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii."

    The booklet, which was distributed to "business colleagues" in the publishing industry, includes a brief biography of Obama among the biographies of eighty-nine other authors represented by Acton & Dystel.

    It also promotes Obama's anticipated first book, Journeys in Black and White--which Obama abandoned, later publishing Dreams from My Father instead."

    Well that's odd. Why would they have printed that in 1991? Was that just a typo?

    I thought we had put all that behind us, but, this is an interesting development. 1991 was five or six years before he got into politics. What would make people in 1991 think he was born in Kenya? Odd.

  3. Interesting read:

    1. Yep, good article.

      This part in particular was of importance:
      "We know that the policy prescription will require spending cuts, revenue increases and entitlement reforms. We also know this bipartisan approach has been killed by people who claim to be fiscal conservatives because they put tax-cut theology over deficit-reduction reality."

      That upset me the most about the whole debt ceiling fiasco last year. I like to keep an open mind and a broad view of things, but as far as that whole debate went I saw much more compromise on one side than the other.

      At around March last year, Democrats were by in large 100% against _ANY_ spending cuts or reform whatsoever; none during a recession. And they balked at all the proposals that did otherwise.

      Eventually though, the Democrats compromised on some cuts (though small) of ~$60 bil iirc? Then came the debt ceiling debacle over the summer, where again Democrats moved significantly towards the GOP's ideals in major cuts and even possible small steps to reform, in exchange for also a revenue component (because in reality, we need both cuts and revenue) only for the GOP to completely stand position and not compromise at all after how far right Democrats came on the issue (from the initial 'NO CUTS DURING RECESSION!' stance).

      S&P directly cited part of the reason for our downgrade on how small and unbalanced the cuts were. They directly stated that they expected nearly twice as much ($4T, not $2.5T) and a balanced compromise with both cuts and revenue components. As agreed upon by many fiscal analysts (we can’t instantly cut our way out of this debt, just like we can’t tax our way out).

      Quote from S&P:
      "We lowered our long-term rating on the U.S. because we believe that the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate indicate that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process. We also believe that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration agreed to this week falls short of the amount that we believe is necessary to stabilize the general government debt burden by the middle of the decade."

      And, now it looks like we’re going down the same road again. :|

  4. Although, I'd prefer a flat tax, I'd have NO problem with a 'fair' across the board tax increase... But only AFTER we do the cuts... REAL cuts - and NOT just the usual Three Card Monty game of shuffling money from one wasteful program to another.

    We've gone down the 'raise taxes now - cut spending later' road before... the cuts NEVER happened! Instead - because politicians never saw a dollar that they couldn't find a 'new and exciting' program at which to throw it - the spending ACTUALLY increased! Hence the huge Nanny State mess we're in now.

    I do NOT buy into 'cherry picking' people for tax hikes. EVERYONE should have some 'skin in the game.' If they DID they might not be to quick to waste We the People's money on nonsense.

    And there's the problem. Everyone has their pet program. THEIR program can't possibly be cut.

    Social Security is a PRIME example and reforming it would be a GREAT start on the road to pulling ourselves OUT of this mess.

    I'm FREAKING old!! I've PAID into the system my WHOLE life!!

    I'm also NOT stupid. That system was doomed from the start! Today's estimates show it bankrupting about the same year I'd be (70), old enough to draw.

    I saw that forty + years ago and planned accordingly.

    Unfortunately, MOST believed that SS was DESIGNED as an 'investment' in a government 'retirement system' that would be available to 'take care of them in their old age'.

    In REALITY, it was NOT - it was SUPPOSED to be 'supplemental' income. Add in the fact that that the initial age for SS was 65 - at a time when the average life span was 62 years. We 'old farts' now live WAY beyond the age allowed for in the original program.

    To help fix this mess; to keep my grandkids - and YOURS - from a future wallowing in debt, high taxation, etc... I'm more than willing to give up what I paid in - 'shared sacrifice' and all that : )

    Leave alone - those who are already on the system, and those who are close, but DID NOT see the writing on the wall.

    If we were to reform NOW, there should be enough money to sustain THEM without drastic cuts that we'd be FORCED to inflict LATER - cuts that would devastate them at a time in their lives when they simply could NOT recover.

    Unfortunately, the senior voting block is HUGE and they wield a TON of power. They kick and scream at even a HINT of reform to this failing system, and (this slays me) MANY call themselves conservative Tea Party members!

    We saw what happened with the Ryan Plan - which was in no way perfect - but it WAS a starting point. And we HAVE to start SOMEWHERE.

    'Shared' means EVERYONE gives a little something...

    BTW... a bump in the tax rate for 'the rich'...'punishment' for the success of ONE sector of our society, would NOT even put a DENT in the INTEREST payments on our outstanding debt.

    So maybe instead of Presidential bully 'my way or the highway' luncheons, the constant 'rich parasites don't pay their fair share' rhetoric or money spent on commercials depicting a Republican Senator throwing Granny (me) off a cliff - we could TALK about some REAL solutions...

    Maybe go back and take another HARD look at the report Simpson/Bowles worked up - at OBAMA's request... with across the board cuts AND revenue increases - that our 'leader' subsequently rejected out of hand?

    Naw... THAT might be something that made sense.

    1. I agree Dara, in that I'm perfectly OK with a compromise that increases taxes across the board along with major spending cuts.

      The problem of course is that no one wants to be the one that has to pay more/give up benefits. But this is alleviated if we take a fair, across-the-board approach where everyone has to give up a little bit of something.

      No proposal thus far has done that yet, unfortunately.

      Have a good weekend!