2 months until next budget crisis?
A prominent economist known as 'Dr. Doom' says the country's budget dispute will come roaring back soon.
By Kim Peterson - Money.MSN.com
We have some breathing room after lawmakers made a fiscal cliff deal on New Year's Day. But the country is far from OK. In fact, one well-known economist says another crisis will hit in two months.
Without Congressional action, the country will see $110 billion in spending cuts commence on March 1, writesNew York University professor Nouriel Roubini in the Financial Times. And just as those spending cuts hit, the U.S. will hit the debt ceiling. "That is only the beginning," he added.
Nouriel Roubini is not an optimist
By Tom Bemis - MarketWatch.com
Nouriel Roubini doesn't think much of this week's fiscal cliff deal.
The NYU prof and chairman of Roubini Global Economics wrote in the FT late Wednesday that another Washington crisis will arrive shortly, when the debt ceiling has to be raised and the spending cuts deferred by this week's deal are slated to kick in.
But even a resolution of those disputes won't end Washington's agony.
Republicans question Obama's use of autopen to sign 'cliff' bill
By Dave Boyer-The Washington Times
President Obama signed the "fiscal cliff" bill into law early Thursday via autopen while vacationing in Hawaii, the third time in his presidency that he has used the controversial method to approve legislation.
The White House sent out an email notice to reporters at 12:12 a.m. Thursday Washington time (7:12 p.m. Wednesday in Hawaii) saying simply that Mr. Obama had "signed into law" the bill that raises taxes on households earning more than $450,000 per year. The measure, which consumed Capitol Hill in the waning days of 2012, also preserves tax cuts for most families, extends expiring jobless benefits and delays for two months across-the-board spending cuts in most defense and domestic programs.
Ryan: Now we 'focus on spending'
by: Alex Pappas - Times247.com
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan on Thursday defended his vote for the last minute fiscal cliff legislation that passed Congress this week, saying he supported it to "get this issue behind us, … prevent this massive tax increase and … focus on spending now."
The 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee acknowledged in an interview with a Milwaukee radio host that he realized he would be criticized for his vote to extend tax cuts for most Americans while raising taxes on the wealthy, but said it was the best deal Republicans could get under the circumstances.
FOMC Minutes More Concerned With Asset Purchases
Than Markets Discounted
By JON C. OGG - 247WallSt.com
The Federal Open Market Committee has released its minutes of the December 2012 FOMC meeting. Without regurgitating the entire report, the minutes appear to be a bit more cautious regarding easing and asset purchases than what the market might have indicated so far this week. The reason is clear: the fiscal cliff has been averted (if you call the agreement that) and that changes the entire bias here. We would note that since a resolution has been reached on th fiscal cliff that the concerns brought up regarding uncertainty and policy risks are now dated.
The $13.6-Trillion Man:
Geithner Sets All-Time Record
for Spending by Treasury Secretary
By Terence P. Jeffrey - CNSNews.com
(CNSNews.com) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who reportedly will leave office at the end of this month, is already responsible for spending and borrowing more money than any of his predecessors as secretary of the Treasury.
The U.S. Senate confirmed Geithner on Jan. 26, 2009. Between February 2009, the first full month of Geithner's tenure, and the end of November 2012, the last full month for which federal spending records are available, the U.S. Treasury dispensed approximately $13.582319 trillion.
Geithner Said to Plan Departure Before Debt Ceiling Deal
By Hans Nichols - Bloomberg.com
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner finds himself in a familiar position: eager to resume life outside government and facing contentious negotiations with Congress over raising the federal debt ceiling.
The last time he was in this predicament, in June 2011, President Barack Obama persuaded him to stay. This time, Geithner has indicated to White House officials he wants to carry through with his plan to leave the administration by the end of this month, even if a deal on the debt limit isn't in place, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Geithner to leave at end of Jan.
By Peter Schroeder
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is reportedly planning to leave the Obama administration at the end of January, likely before Congress addresses the debt limit.
Bloomberg reported Thursday that the president's economic point man has told the White House he is planning to leave, with White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew the leading candidate to replace him, citing two people familiar with the matter.
Fed becoming worried about stimulus side effects
By Pedro Nicolaci da Costa
WASHINGTON | Thu Jan 3, 2013 4:27pm EST
(Reuters) - Federal Reserve officials are increasingly concerned about the potential risks of the U.S. central bank's asset purchases on financial markets, even if they look set to continue an open-ended stimulus program for now.
In a surprise to Wall Street, minutes from the Fed's December policy meeting, published on Thursday, showed a growing reticence about further increases in the central bank's $2.9 trillion balance sheet, which it expanded sharply in response to the financial crisis and recession of 2007-2009.
Pimco's Gross warns of 'inflationary dragons'
By Laura Mandaro - MarketWatch.com
Pimco bond chief Bill Gross has long warned about the perils of the Federal Reserve's massive monetary stimulus.
He's at it again for the new year, reminding investors that there's a real cost to all that quantitative easing:
The future price tag of printing six trillion dollars' worth of checks comes in the form of inflation and devaluation of currencies either relative to each other, or to commodities in less limitless supply such as oil or gold.
Fed sees bond buying ending this year
Several officials say well before December, others think all year
By Greg Robb, MarketWatch
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — There was a general sense among Federal Reserve officials that their bond-buying program would last, at most, until the end of the year, according to the minutes from their meeting last month that were released on Thursday.
"Several" Fed officials thought that the central bank would be able to slow or stop the purchases well before December 2013. Read commentary: Fed says it's running out of bullets.
A "few" members said that the plan would likely be needed until about the end of the year.
Jon Hilsenrath's 589 Word Instanalysis Of The Fed Minutes
by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
It took the WSJ's Jon Hilsenrath, who one more time is modestly relevant in a world in which QE is implied until infinity or until the Fed loses all control of the money creation process, 12 whopping minutes to release a 589-word article analyzing the FOMC minutes. At least we know one of the people who had the embargoed version hours ago. We are confident he did not leak their content to anyone. Hilsenrath's prepared take: "A new fault line has opened up at the often-divided Federal Reserve: When to halt the bond-buying programs that are adding $85 billion a month of Treasury and mortgage securities to the central bank's assets. Minutes of the Fed's Dec. 11-12 policy meeting showed that officials were divided about when to halt the programs, with a few wanting to continue them until year-end, several others wanting to end the programs well before then and some wanting to halt them right away. While exposing the rift, the minutes left little clear indication which course the central bank would choose. In its official policy statement, it has been saying since September that it would continue the bond-buying programs until the job market substantially improves... It is a hugely consequential decision for the Fed and likely the next big challenge for Ben Bernanke in what could be his final year at the helm of the central bank, where he has been chairman since 2006."
Fiscal cliff deal protects family tax breaks
By Blake Ellis - CNNMoney.com
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
Families who have been worried about losing thousands of dollars worth of tax breaks this year can stop panicking.
The fiscal cliff deal extends four key tax credits that benefit parents. The Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit are safe for five more years, while the Child Dependent Care Tax Credit will be permanently extended.
McCONNELL: A DEBT-CEILING FIGHT WITH OBAMA
WHETHER HE WANTS IT OR NOT
by WILLIAM BIGELOW - Breitbart.com
Mitch McConnell is gearing up for a massive battle with Barack Obama over the debt limit. He wrote in a Yahoo op-ed that there is going to be a fight with Obama "whether he wants it or not." The present $16.4 trillion debt ceiling is the line in the sand for Republicans now; as McConnell wrote,
The president may not want to have a fight about government spending over the next few months, but it's the fight he is going to have, because it's a debate the country needs … For the sake of our future, the president must show up to this debate early and convince his party to do something that neither he nor they have been willing to do until now. Over the next two months they need to deliver the same kind of bipartisan resolution to the spending problem we have now achieved on revenue — before the eleventh hour.
Euro crisis as it happened: fiscal cliff deal euphoria wanes
By Juliette Garside and Nick Fletcher - Guardian.co.uk
Good morning, and welcome to our coverage of the key events in the global economic crisis.
After a new year's rally in European and US stock markets, the International Monetary Fund has moved to temper the euphoria.
The global lender has welcomed the temporary deal to avoid the fiscal cliff but says "more remains to be done" to avoid derailing America's fragile economic recovery.
Obama slouches toward Europe
by: Lawrence Kudlow - Times247.com
One cheer out of a potential three is all anyone can logically give the fiscal-cliff deal. On the day after the bargain was clinched, the stock market gave a 300-point cheer. So be it. ...
It's a European economic model. It's the exact reverse of supply-side economics. You can't tax your way into prosperity or a balanced budget. The economic pie grows smaller. Government grows bigger. Redistribution and government dependency grow more powerful and pervasive.
Spain Plunders 90% Of Social Security Fund
To Buy Its Own Debt
by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge.com
With Spanish 10Y yields hovering at a 'relatively' healthy 5%, having been driven inexorably lower on the promise of ECB assistance at some time in the future, the market has become increasingly unsure of just who it is that keeps bidding for this stuff. Well, wonder no longer. As the WSJ notes, Spain has been quietly tapping the country's richest piggy bank, the Social Security Reserve Fund, as a buyer of last resort for Spanish government bonds - with at least 90% of the €65 billion ($85.7 billion) fund has been invested in increasingly risky Spanish debt. Of course, this is nothing new, the US (and the Irish) have been using quasi-government entities to fund themselves in a mutually-destructive circle-jerk for years - the only difference being there are other buyers in the Treasury market, whereas in Spain the marginal buyer is critical to support the sinking ship. The Spanish defend the use of pension funds to buy bonds as sustainable as long as it can issue bonds - and yet the only way it can actually get the bonds off in the public markets is through using the pension fund assets. The pensioners sum it up perfectly "We are very worried about this, we just don't know who's going to pay for the pensions of those who are younger now," or those who are older we would add.
Greeks ditch Euro
Euros discarded as impoverished Greeks resort to bartering
Communities set up local currencies and exchange networks in attempt to beat the economic crisis
By Helena Smith in Volos - Guardian.co.uk
It's been a busy day at the market in downtown Volos. Angeliki Ioanitou has sold a decent quantity of olive oil and soap, while her friend Maria has done good business with her fresh pies.
But not a single euro has changed hands – none of the customers on this drizzly Saturday morning has bothered carrying money at all. For many, browsing through the racks of second-hand clothes, electrical appliances and homemade jams, the need to survive means money has been usurped.
Greek debt crisis 'far from over'
Country faces year of destiny, with doubts about survival of government and of its eurozone membership as austerity bites
By Helena Smith in Athens - Guardian.co.uk
In the three years that Greece has been engulfed by the drama of its debt, crises have come and gone. But the next 12 months are likely to be more critical yet with politicians and pundits predicting that 2013 will ultimately define whether Athens remains in the eurozone. For once, Greeks are in accord with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who, adding to the prevailing pessimism, emphasised in her new year address that the worst crisis to ravage Europe since the second world war "is far from over".
Treasuries Are World's Worst-Performing Bonds Before Jobs
By Wes Goodman - Bloomberg.com
Treasuries were the world's worst performing bonds as economists said a report today will show the U.S. unemployment rate held at the lowest level since 2008.
Government securities maturing in 10 years and longer handed investors a 3.34 percent loss in the past month, the biggest decline of 144 bond indexes tracked by Bloomberg and the Federation of Financial Analysts Societies. Treasuries tumbled this week as lawmakers passed a budget to avert taxes and spending cuts that threatened to throw the economy into a recession, while Federal Reserve policy makers said they will probably end their monthly debt purchases in 2013.
What's Inside America's Banks?
Some four years after the 2008 financial crisis, public trust in banks is as low as ever. Sophisticated investors describe big banks as "black boxes" that may still be concealing enormous risks—the sort that could again take down the economy. A close investigation of a supposedly conservative bank's financial records uncovers the reason for these fears—and points the way toward urgent reforms.
By Frank Partnoy and Jesse Eisinger - TheAtlantic.com
The financial crisis had many causes—too much borrowing, foolish investments, misguided regulation—but at its core, the panic resulted from a lack of transparency. The reason no one wanted to lend to or trade with the banks during the fall of 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed, was that no one could understand the banks' risks. It was impossible to tell, from looking at a particular bank's disclosures, whether it might suddenly implode.
For the past four years, the nation's political leaders and bankers have made enormous—in some cases unprecedented—efforts to save the financial industry, clean up the banks, and reform regulation in order to restore trust and confidence in the American financial system. This hasn't worked. Banks today are bigger and more opaque than ever, and they continue to behave in many of the same ways they did before the crash.
JPMorgan and BofA Get Delay
in Rule Isolating Derivatives Trades
By Silla Brush - Bloomberg.com
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Bank of America Corp.won a delay of Dodd-Frank Act requirements that they wall off some derivatives trades from bank units backed by federal deposit insurance.
Commercial banks including the Wall Street firms may get as long as an additional two years -- until July 2015 -- to comply with the rules, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said in a notice yesterday. The provision was included in Dodd- Frank, the 2010 financial-regulation law, as a way to limit taxpayer support for risky derivatives trades.
Want to Understand Money?
BY LEW ROCKWELL - FnancialSense.com
….As an American monetary historian Rothbard traced the party politics, the pressure groups, and the academic apologists behind the various national banking schemes throughout American history. As a popularizer of monetary theory and history he showed the public what government was really up to as it took greater and greater control over money. As a business cycle expert he wrote scholarly books on the Panic of 1819 and the Great Depression, finding the roots of both in artificial credit expansion. And while the locus classicus of monetary theory in the tradition of the Austrian School is Ludwig von Mises' 1912 work The Theory of Money and Credit, the most thorough shorter overview of Austrian monetary theory is surely chapter 10 of Rothbard's treatise Man, Economy and State.
My Name is Cash
America's growing underground economy —
a necessity in the age of Obama.
By BILL CROKE - Spectator.org
Barter is as old as human history. According to a story in the Wall Steet Journal, it is yet practiced as a facet of the 21st century global economy. Germany, for example, "sends coal to Brazil for coffee, and imports cattle from Denmark in return for agricultural implements. Finland sends timber to the U.K. for coal. Argentina trades grain to Spain for railway equipment." And so on.
Farmers markets and yard sales are certainly popular in small town America. Every summer weekend in Texas features some 200 towns with farmers markets. Here in Salmon, Idaho, three summertime produce markets are a welcome respite from the tyranny of our single grocery store. The local radio station has a morning weekdays show called "Swap Shop," where goods and services are noted, and listeners call-in with their own for-sale items, queries, and promotion of services. The common theme is the lack of a middleman, and transactions in cash or barter. This time of year firewood is a big commodity. And following a recent heavy snowstorm here, I shoveled an elderly lady's driveway, walks, and wooden back deck. Roughly one hour's labor: $12; and since she was pleased with my work, a bonus cup of coffee.
Cracking the 2013 tax code
A guide to the changes wrought by the fiscal-cliff deal
By Bill Bischoff - MarketWatch.com
Early in the morning of January 1, Congress finally got around to dealing with the tax part of the fiscal cliff drama by passing what is inaccurately named the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. Thanks to the demise of the so-called payroll tax holiday, all workers will pay higher taxes this year, but the new law cancels federal income tax increases that would have resulted in added misery for just about everyone. The bad news is that higher-income folks will face higher rates.
Here's a detailed summary of the most-important changes for individual taxpayers.
Payroll Tax Holiday Is Dead
Home Foreclosures, Shadow Inventory Continue to Fall
By Paul Ausick - 247WallSt.com
In the month of November, 55,000 U.S. homes were foreclosed, down from 59,000 in October and down from 72,000 in November 2011, according to research firm CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX). While an improvement, the number of foreclosures is still well above the 2000-2006 average of 21,000 foreclosures per month. CoreLogic notes that since September 2008, some 4 million foreclosures have been completed in the U.S.
Hopes high for strong jobs report to open year
By Vicki Needham - TheHill.com
Economists are expecting a strong jobs report to open the year, with some expecting the economy added 200,000 jobs in December.
That would be the most the economy has added in a single month in nearly a year, and would suggest solid economic growth despite worries the last two months about the "fiscal cliff."
Hopes were bolstered by a survey of private businesses released Thursday by ADP that found firms hired 215,000 workers in December. The ADP survey also boosted its estimate for November by 30,000.
65 Percent Of Americans Believe
That 2013 Will Be A Year Of Economic Difficulty
By Michael Snyder - TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com
Do you believe that economic trouble is coming in 2013? If so, you have a lot of company. According to a brand new Gallup poll that was just released, 65 percent of Americans believe that 2013 will be a year of "economic difficulty" while only 33 percent of Americans believe that 2013 will be a year of "economic prosperity". Gallup has been asking this question for a lot of years, and the percentage of Americans that are anticipating economic difficulty in the year ahead has not been this high since the early 1980s. And without a doubt, there are a whole lot of reasons to be deeply concerned about the economy as we head into the new year. But it isn't just 2013 that Americans are pessimistic about. According to the new Gallup poll, 50 percent of all Americans believe that the best days of America are behind us, and only 47 percent of all Americans believe that the best days of America are ahead of us. Those are very sobering numbers. Half the country believes that it is only downhill from here for the United States. Unfortunately, they are exactly right. Things are rapidly going to get worse for our economy and for our nation as a whole. We are going to start reaping the consequences of decades of very foolish decisions, and the pain is going to be immense.
Unilever sells Skippy peanut butter brand
to Hormel, maker of Spam
Hormel hopes that £433m acquisition of brand sold in over 30 countries will boost the US group's activities in China
Agence France-Presse - The Guardian
Unilever has agreed to sell its Skippy brand of peanut butter to US group Hormel Foods – the maker of Spam – in an all-cash deal worth £433m ($700m), the company has announced.
The transaction is expected to be finalised early this year "subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions", Unilever said.
Annual sales of Skippy, which was launched in 1932 and is available in over 30 countries, are around $370m. In 2012, Hormel posted total sales of $8.2bn
Gun checks soar 39 percent, set new record: FBI
By David Ingram
WASHINGTON | Wed Jan 2, 2013 5:02pm EST
(Reuters) - The number of FBI background checks required for Americans buying guns set a record in December, indicating that more people may purchase one after the Connecticut school massacre stirred interest in self-defense and prompted renewed talk of limits on firearms, according to FBI data.
The FBI said it recorded 2.78 million background checks during the month, surpassing the mark set in November of 2.01 million checks - about a 39 percent rise.
Gun Rights Advocates:
'There Will Be Resistance' to Gun Control
By Jon Street - CNSNew.com
(CNSNews.com) - The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms has said that it will be "on the front lines of [the] resistance" to President Obama's efforts to curb gun violence through gun control.
"President Obama was absolutely correct when he told NBC's 'Meet the Press' Sunday that 'there will be resistance' to his extremist proposal to ban the most commonly-owned and popular rifles in America," said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb.
Illinois Democrats Lose Bid to Pass Firearms Confiscation Bill
By Kurt Nimmo - Infowars.com
Democrats in the Illinois Senate have failed to gain enough support for legislation that would have outlawed 50 percent of long guns on the market in the state and would have confiscated weapons owned by citizens.
On Wednesday, we reported that Illinois Senate President John Cullertonplanned to introduce a draconian bill that would have effectively banned all modern firearms, criminalized their owners, and subjected their guns to confiscation by the Illinois State Police.
Is There a New Internet Bubble Blowing?
New Internet bubble? Not so fast
By Paul La Monica - CNNMoney.com
Call them the dot-com survivors.
AOL (AOL), Amazon.com (AMZN), eBay (EBAY), Priceline (PCLN) and Yahoo (YHOO) were all major players at the height of Internet insanity in the late 1990s. They are all still around today -- and their stock prices are soaring again, bringing back some uncomfortable memories of the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000.
Apple's iPad kills the netbook;
will MacBook Air devour notebooks next?
By Jonny Evans - Computerworld.com
Apple [AAPL] and its iPad have destroyed the netbook industry with Acer and Asus ending production of the things. It's an inflection point as we enter the Post-PC age -- now get ready for next-gen MacBooks to devour what's left…
Most vendors have quietly ended netbook production since the iPad's launch. They attempted to take a slice of the tablet market, but failed, with most early iPad competitors ending up in landfill after being returned by disappointed retailers. Today Apple dominates the sector with Amazon and Samsung fighting over the scraps.
The Political Economy of 2013
By Mohamed A. El-Erian - Project-Syndicate.org
NEWPORT BEACH – Watching America's leaders scramble in the closing days of 2012 to avoid a "fiscal cliff" that would plunge the economy into recession was yet another illustration of an inconvenient truth: messy politics remains a major driver of economic developments.
In some cases during 2012, politics was a force for good: consider Prime Minister Mario Monti's ability to pull Italy back from the brink of financial turmoil. But, in other cases, like Greece, political dysfunction aggravated economic problems.
Rick Wiles interview with T.D. Hale - part 2 - Jan 3, 2013
The Worst Politicians Money Can Buy
BY BILL FLECKENSTEIN - FinancialSense.com
The disgusting soap opera over the misnamed "fiscal cliff" finally ended on New Year's Day with tax hikes (mostly aimed at the so-called "1%"), and next to no spending cuts. In others words, it was about what I had suggested might occur after we saw the election results. The economic impact is still going to be negative, as the restored payroll tax will affect consumer spending.
It Probably Won't Be a Cliff-Hanger.
Abandoned and Betrayed
Republican ship, dead in the water, needs a mutiny.
By JAMES P. GANNON - Spectator.org
After the McConnell sell-out and the Boehner betrayal, after the disgraceful abandonment of principles and conservative values by the Washington Republican establishment, what is the proper response from outraged conservative believers in limited government and fiscal responsibility?
I have been sitting here on the morning after the New Years's Day capitulation by Capitol Hill Republicans, trying to answer that question for myself.
House chooses Boehner as speaker again despite dissent
By Thomas Ferraro and Rachelle Younglai
WASHINGTON | Thu Jan 3, 2013 8:14pm EST
(Reuters) - Despite a rocky few weeks during the "fiscal cliff" fight, John Boehner won re-election as speaker of the House of Representatives on Thursday and will again lead Republicans as they take on the White House over federal spending.
Boehner defeated House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi 220-192 in a vote on the opening day of the 113th Congress and vowed to use his second term to shrink the national debt of $16 trillion to prevent it from "draining free enterprise."
John Boehner re-elected House speaker
in spite of Republican dissent
Speaker wins 220 votes to Pelosi's 192 to prevent second ballot, but nine GOP members of 113th Congress vote against him
By Ewen MacAskill in Washington - The Guardian
John Boehner, the speaker of the House of Representatives, survived a re-election vote when the new Congress met for the first time Thursday, in spite of deep ideological divisions within his own Republican party that have left him badly wounded.
In contrast with 2010 when he won the unanimous support of his own party, a small group in the GOP registered their unhappiness with him. He has lost a lot of support over his handling of the fiscal cliff negotiations, and other issues.
BOEHNER'S SECOND CHANCE: NO COMPROMISE
by BEN SHAPIRO - Breitbart.com
Today, Speaker of the House John Boehner received a second chance. After ramming through a fiscal cliff deal that made conservatives shudder – income taxes increased on everyone making more than $400,000 per year, the payroll tax cut expired, unemployment insurance was extended, and pork was ladled by the bucketful into law – Boehner came under heavy fire. But conservatives recognized that the true test of Boehner's conservatism is yet to come: the debt ceiling debate.
The fiscal cliff deal was the culmination of a deal made in 2011 about the debt ceiling. That deal was the truly awful one for conservatives: it enshrined $1.2 trillion in cuts into law, but stated that if a magical supercommittee of Congressmembers could not agree on what to cut, a pre-set across-the-board spending cut would take place beginning January 1, 2013. Meanwhile, the Bush tax rates were set to expire on that same date. This was the so-called fiscal cliff.
'Public Service Was Never Meant To Be An Easy Living,'
$223,500/Year House Speaker Declares
By Craig Bannister - CNSNews.com
"Public service was never meant to be an easy living," Rep. John Boehner declared to his colleagues after being reelected to his $223,500/year post as House Speaker.
Addressing the House after his reelection, Rep. Boehner (R-Ohio) said: "Public service was never meant to be an easy living. Extraordinary challenges demand extraordinary leadership."
Return of the real Obama
By Charles Krauthammer - WashingtonPost.com
The rout was complete, the retreat disorderly. President Obama got his tax hikes — naked of spending cuts — passed by the ostensibly Republican House of Representatives. After which, you might expect him to pivot to his self-proclaimed "principle" of fiscal "balance" by taking the lead on reducing spending. "Why," asked The Post on the eve of the final fiscal-cliff agreement, "is the nation's leader not embracing and then explaining the balanced reforms the nation needs?"
Because he has no interest in them. He's a visionary, not an accountant. Sure, he'll pretend to care about deficits, especially while running for reelection. But now that he's past the post, he's free to be himself — a committed big-government social democrat.
Obama's New Year's Resolution: Protect the Status Quo
By Amy Goodman - Truthdig.com
Amidst the White House and congressional theatrics surrounding the so-called fiscal-cliff negotiations, a number of bills were signed into law by President Barack Obama that renew some of the worst excesses of the Bush years. Largely ignored by the media, these laws further entrench odious policies like indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping and the continued operation of the U.S. gulag in Guantanamo. The deal to avert the fiscal cliff itself increases the likelihood that President Obama may yet scuttle an unprecedented cut in the Pentagon's bloated budget. It's not such a happy new year, after all.
Our Decadent Democracy
By George Will - PatriotPost.com
WASHINGTON -- Connoisseurs of democratic decadence can savor a variety of contemporary dystopias. Because familiarity breeds banality, Greece has become a boring horror. Japan, however, in its second generation of stagnation is fascinating. Once, Japan bestrode the world, jauntily buying Rockefeller Center and Pebble Beach. Now Japanese buy more adult diapers than those for infants.
America has its lowest birth rate since at least 1920 -- family formation and workforce participation (which last year hit a 30-year low) have declined in tandem. But it has an energy surplus, the government-produced overhang of housing inventory is shrinking and the average age of Americans' cars is an astonishing 10.8 years. Such promising economic indicators, however, mask America's democratic decadence, as explained by the Hudson Institute's Christopher DeMuth (The Weekly Standard, Dec. 24):
Italy's web guru tastes power
as new political movement goes viral
Roberto Casaleggio's Five Star Movement aims to pioneer 'new, direct democracy' and annihilate traditional party politics
By John Hooper in Milan - Guardian.co.uk
"It's like Jesus Christ and the apostles," said Roberto Casaleggio. "His message, too, became a virus."
With a shaggy mane of black, grey and silver hair that reaches to his shoulders, Casaleggio himself would make a good messiah. As it is, he is perhaps the most distrusted man in Italian politics: the web guru who, in just over three years, has turned a comedian's fan club into Italy's second biggest political force; an eminence grise with seemingly magical powers who has never before allowed himself to be interviewed by a newspaper.
The U.S. Intelligence Community's New Year's Wish
By Tom Engelhardt - Truthdig.com
Think of it as a simple formula: if you've been hired (and paid handsomely) to protect what is, you're going to be congenitally ill-equipped to imagine what might be. And yet the urge not just to know the contours of the future, but to plant the Stars and Stripes in that future has had the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) in its grip since the mid-1990s. That was the moment when it first occurred to some in Washington that U.S. power might be capable of controlling just about everything worth the bother globally for, if not an eternity, then long enough to make the future American property.
Defense budget may be delayed due to 'cliff'
By Carlo Munoz - TheHill.com
The Pentagon could postpone delivery of the department's fiscal 2014 budget to Congress, which could arrive on Capitol Hill as late as March, as DOD and White House officials try to cope with the fallout from the recent "fiscal cliff" deal.
Pentagon leaders were "not ruling out" delaying their FY14 budget past the initial February deadline, DOD press secretary George Little told reporters on Thursday.
"We need to define a timeline in the coming weeks," Little said, noting that DOD budget officials were working "aggressively" with members of the White House's Office of Management and Budget to lock in that time line.
Google's Schmidt Urged by U.S. Not to Visit North Korea
By Sangwon Yoon - Bloomberg.com
Google Inc. (GOOG) Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt may travel to North Korea over opposition from the U.S. State Department, becoming the highest-profile businessman to visit the isolated nation since Kim Jong Un succeeded his father as leader just over a year ago.
Schmidt is planning a "private" visit to North Korea, South Korea's foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai Young told reporters yesterday, confirming a report by the Associated Press, which said the 57-year-old executive would accompany former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Cho said South Korea doesn't have details of the delegation or timing of any travel.
By Kishore Mahbubani - Project-Syndicate.org
SINGAPORE – To the extent that culture matters in politics, the recent spate of leadership changes in Northeast Asia suggests that Asian societies are more tolerant – if not supportive – of dynastic succession. South Korea's recently elected president, Park Geun-hye, is the daughter of Park Chung Hee, who ruled the country from 1961 to 1979. China's incoming president, Xi Jinping, is the son of Xi Zhongxun, a former vice premier. Japan's new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is the grandson and grandnephew of two former Japanese prime ministers, and the son of a former foreign minister. Kim Jong-un is the son and grandson of his two predecessors in North Korea.
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