Tag Archives: Commanding Heights

How did Obama’s plan to let government run student loans work out?

Obama nationalized student loan administration in 2010
Obama nationalized student loan administration in 2010

I’m a free-market capitalist, so I believe that economic decision-making is best done by the people it concerns, not the people in government. If it is a decision that affects the family, let the family decide. If it’s a decision that affects the business, let the business owner decide. Obama has a different view – he thinks that government should make all of the decisions, even though government earns none of the money.

Here is an article in Investor’s Business Daily about his policy of letting the government take over student loan decision-making.

Excerpt:

A report from the Department of Education notes that the net cost of the federal government’s direct loan program is quickly heading into the red. This program, mind you, was supposed to be a moneymaker for the government, as students paid back federal loans with interest.

But as it turns out, borrowers have been flocking toward various loan forgiveness programs, by which the government will lose money, erasing gains from other loans. The report shows that the direct loan program went from a $25 billion surplus in 2012 to less than $5 billion by 2015.

A separate report says that this program ran a $36 billion deficit last year, up from $8.4 billion in 2016.

This is not how this federal loan program was supposed to work when President Obama launched it eight years ago.

In 2010, President Obama effectively nationalized student lending by cutting banks — which had been offering government-backed loans to students — out of the equation and having the government make the loans itself.

“By cutting out the middleman, we’ll save the American taxpayers $68 billion in the coming years,” Obama said when he signed this change into law. “That’s real money.”

As a result, federal student loan debt shot up from $154.9 billion in 2009 to $1.1 trillion by the end of 2017.

As everyone knows, under Obama’s big government leadership, the national debt skyrocketed from $10 trillion to $20 trillion in only 8 years. Obama ran up as much debt in his 8 years as ALL the other presidents, combined. Why? It’s simple. Because government isn’t as careful with other people’s money as people are careful with their own money. People make better decisions than government because they care about the money more – they earned it. The right people to solve an economic problem are the people in the families, and the people at the local bank branches nearby. When government takes over economic decision-making, they use other people’s money to buy the votes of people who make poor decisions.

We shouldn’t be allowing students to take 4-year vacations at taxpayer expense, so that they can learn English or Women’s Studies and then stick taxpayers with the bill. Some of those taxpayers had to study hard things like engineering and pay their own way. Some of those taxpayers had to get jobs in the trades as electricians and plumbers to pay for the bad decisions of these spoiled brats. Student loan administration should not be something for big government to control. When government decides who gets loans, students feel no pressure to study subjects and get credentials that will allow them to pay back what they borrowed. I want the banks to make the lending decisions and loan out their own money, so that they can deny people who are studying nonsense that won’t get a return.

That’s why we should never have elected a big-government liberal to be president. They make a lot of promises about how great they are with money, but it never works out. Big government is never the answer to problems that are outside of what the Constitution describes as the boundaries of government.

(Image Source)

Treasury Department threatens private companies for responding to Obamacare incentives

Investors Business Daily reports on how the Treasury Department is threatening private companies who lay off employees because of the costs imposed on them by Obamacare.

Excerpt:

In what may be considered an ObamaCare loyalty oath, the Treasury Department orders employers to attest that any employee layoffs are not due to its imposed costs under penalty of perjury.

The first rule of business is to stay in business, something which is accomplished by doing what government is incapable of doing — controlling costs and making a profit by giving customers a product or service they need or want.

ObamaCare is obviously a product neither business nor the individual wants, so coercion is necessary under penalty of law.

Enforced by the Internal Revenue Service, individuals must enroll in government-approved plans or be fined.

Individuals are not allowed, despite presidential promises, to keep the plans and doctors they like and can afford.

Instead, they must accept plans they don’t like and can’t afford, some getting subsidies extracted from other taxpayers or China. They must grin and bear their reduced health care choices and higher costs.

Even though ObamaCare’s employer mandate has once again been illegally and unconstitutionally extended by the president who would be king, business still faces ObamaCare’s punitive cost increases down the road and its own form of government coercion.

Layoffs are an unfortunate but sometimes necessary means for a business to control costs and stay in business.

On Monday, a Treasury Department unconcerned with the necessities of the free market said that businesses will need to “certify” that they are not shedding full-time workers simply to avoid the mandate and its costs.

Officials said employers will be told to sign a “self-attestation” on their tax forms affirming this, under penalty of perjury.

What happens when a government passes regulations that make it harder for employers to lay off workers if they are forced to? Well, companies stop hiring workers, and expand their operations elsewhere. That’s exactly what has happened in countries like France, where the government makes it nearly impossible to get rid of workers, even when circumstances warrant it. So the net effect of policies that reduce the freedom to hire/fire as needed is to raise unemployment.

Here’s the economist Aparna Mathur of the American Enterprise Institute to explain.

Excerpt:

Labor market regulations often take the form of employment protection rules that govern the hiring and firing of workers. These were originally introduced to enhance workers’ welfare; for instance, by reducing unfair dismissals. The same provisions that protect employees, however, translate into cost for employers, leading an employer to think twice (at least) before hiring a new employee.

Theoretical economic models have shown that, in general, the effect of such laws is to reduce job flows (broadly, the sum of jobs created and jobs destroyed). In my paper, I show that these reduced job flows could have negative effects on investments in education because they reduce the expected returns on a job search; and they lower the value of education as a signaling device.

Under rigid labor market regulations, employers have a stronger disincentive to create new jobs, so there are fewer available jobs on the market. As a result, one’s likelihood of earning a productive wage is reduced. Moreover, firings under a system of strong labor market regulations are less frequent than they would be otherwise, so even workers with jobs expect to face fewer opportunities to search for re-employment. As a result, they will have less use of education as a signaling device to secure their next job.

With flexible labor markets and higher job mobility, these conditions are reversed. Job flows are higher, leading to more vacancies per unemployed worker. This yields a higher expected return on a job search for educated workers since the likelihood of finding a job is higher. Further, workers are either fired or they quit more frequently (i.e., job destruction is higher), leading to a greater use (or need) of education as a signaling device.

Put simply, imagine a developing country with rigid labor markets leading to few vacancies. For a low-income worker, the cost of getting educated may outweigh the prospective benefits since the likelihood of finding a job in this scenario is fairly low. On the other hand, for the same worker, if the likelihood of finding a job goes up when labor market restrictions are removed, the incentive to invest in education may be higher since the returns to investing in this costly activity are higher. Countries such as France, Germany, and Italy, which consistently have strict labor regulations, would do well to heed these results (see figure). It is also true in general that developing countries have stricter labor regulations than the OECD economies.

All these regulations sound so good, but we have to think beyond stage one in order to see the real results of the happy-sounding speeches. These things are understood by economists, but we didn’t elect an economist.

CNN: Obama administration bullying insurance companies to not criticize Obamacare

From the (normally) radically leftist CNN, of all places.

Excerpt:

White House officials have pressured insurance industry executives to keep quiet amid mounting criticism over Obamacare’s rollout, insurance industry sources told CNN.

After insurance officials publicly criticized the implementation, White House staffers contacted insurers to express their displeasure, industry insiders said.

Multiple sources declined to speak publicly about the push back because they fear retribution.

But Bob Laszewski, who heads a consulting firm for big insurance companies, did talk on the record.

“The White House is exerting massive pressure on the industry, including the trade associations, to keep quiet,” he said.

Laszewski, who’s been a vocal critic of Obamacare, said he’s been asked by insurance executives to speak out because they feel defenseless against an administration that is regulating their business — and a big customer.

[…]Insurers, he said, warned the White House that the regulations would lead to discontinued policies.

“One of the things I think is clear here is the Obama administration has no trust in anything the health insurance industry is telling them about how to run a health plan,” Laszewski said.

Newsbusters has the video and transcript from CNN.

Obama administration effectively bans construction of future coal plants

CNBC explains. (H/T Bad Blue)

Excerpt:

The proposal would help reshape where Americans get electricity, away from a coal-dependent past into a future fired by cleaner sources of energy. It’s also a key step in President Barack Obama’s global warming plans, because it would help end what he called “the limitless dumping of carbon pollution” from power plants.

Although the proposed rule won’t immediately affect plants already operating, it eventually would force the government to limit emissions from the existing power plant fleet, which accounts for a third of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

[…]Despite some tweaks, the rule packs the same punch as one announced last year, which was widely criticized by industry and Republicans as effectively banning any new coal projects in the U.S.

That’s because to meet the standard, new coal-fired power plants would need to install expensive technology to capture carbon dioxide and bury it underground. No coal-fired power plant has done that yet, in large part because of the cost.

[…]”EPA has set a dangerous and far-reaching precedent for the broader economy by failing to base environmental standards on reliable technology,” said Hall Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association. The EPA regulation “effectively bans coal from America’s power portfolio,” he said.

The first effect of this decision will be to put a lot of Americans out of work.

The second effect will be to cause electricity costs to skyrocket, exactly as Obama promised.

Excerpt:

Wind and solar energy are dilute, intermittent, and more costly than traditional hydrocarbon energy sources. After atmospheric absorption and system losses, only a single 100-watt bulb can be powered from a square meter of solar cells, and this only at midday on a cloudless day.  Wind towers must be spaced about 140 meters apart to capture energy from the wind.  As a result, solar requires 75 to 100 times the land and wind requires 150 to 250 times the land of traditional power sources.

Solar systems don’t output energy at night or at low angles of incoming sunlight.  Wind systems provide rated output less than 30% of the time and this output varies chaotically. Traditional gas or coal power plants must be running as an active backup to maintain continuity of electricity supply.  Like a car driving in stop-and-go conditions, installation of a wind farm converts the power system into a stop-and-go electrical system.  In measured real world conditions, combined wind and hydrocarbon systems use more fuel, output more sulfur and nitrogen oxides, and emit more carbon dioxide than hydrocarbon-only electrical systems.

Total cost estimates show that wind and solar systems are significantly more costly than hydrocarbon energy sources.  Since wind requires an active backup hydrocarbon facility, wind can only replace some of the variable cost of a coal or gas plant.  Department of Energy 2011 estimates place the variable cost of coal at 3 cents per kW-hr and gas at 5 cents per kW-hr, compared to 9 cents for on-shore wind and 24 cents for offshore wind.  Solar costs are 20 to 30 cents per kW-hr.

We’re getting what we voted for. We’ve had no significant global warming for 15 years, but that won’t stop the Democrats from saddling private industry with regulatory costs – costs that they will pass on to consumers. I would not be surprised if consumers (who after all mostly voted for Obama) blame the energy companies and never identify the root cause of the rising costs.

NDP leader Jack Layton would kill jobs and raise energy prices with cap-and-trade

NDP leaders Bob Rae and Jack Layton
NDP leaders Bob Rae and Jack Layton

The Ottawa Sun reports on what Jack Layton’s cap-and-trade carbon tax would do to the economy and jobs. (H/T Blue Like You)

Excerpt:

If NDP Leader Jack Layton wins a minority government May 2, supported by the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois, he plans to make Canadians pay a new charge estimated at $21.5 billion over the next four years for the right to emit man-made carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Under Layton’s proposed cap-and-trade plan, this money will be paid by ordinary Canadians in higher retail costs for goods and services, along with job layoffs and lower salaries and benefits for workers.

Layton’s plan is to impose cap-and-trade on us soon after the NDP takes power.

We know this because in outlining his proposal during the election, the NDP estimated it will collect $3.6 billion from cap-and-trade in this fiscal year alone, which started April 1 and ends March 31, 2012…

Remember what happened to consumer energy prices in Ontario when Dalton McGuinty embraced unproven wind and solar power?

The Globe and Mail explains:

If you haven’t opened your September hydro bill yet, you’re in for a shock. Rates have risen 18 per cent this year to date, and that’s just the start. By this time next year – election time – Ontario power consumers will be forking over about twice as much (in nominal terms) as they did when Dalton McGuinty took office in 2003.

[…]Power expert Tom Adams may know more about this subject than any other living being. And he’s steamed. Ontario’s rates, he says, have already surpassed the U.S. average and are headed for European levels – “just because of public policy.”

The policy is to go all out on renewables – wind and solar– whether or not it makes sense. The province is paying sky-high rates for power it doesn’t need so we can have wind turbines marching on and on to the horizon, just like Denmark does. “Power demand has been dropping since 2005,” says Mr. Adams. In fact, we have so much excess supply that, from time to time, it threatens to crash the system. Because of this, we’re even paying the neighbours to take the power off our hands.

“Ontario will need new power supplies in the future,” Mr. Adams says. “But why not buy it when we need it?” Instead of waiting, the power authority is signing long-term contracts at the rate of about $1-billion a week, while paying enormous premiums to attract wind and solar producers. In other words, it’s making 20-year commitments to pay stunningly high prices for power we don’t need.

On top of that, the province is building new transmission lines to nowhere while neglecting to ensure that Toronto’s hospitals and banks can keep the lights on. In July, Toronto experienced what Mr. Adams calls “Ontario’s first green blackout.” That blackout occurred because the city’s downtown core is badly underpowered. It has the weakest power system of any financial centre in the developed world.

Why haven’t we done anything about it? Because the green lobby has been campaigning for conservation, instead. And so, when the government started picking sites for transmission upgrades, it decided to build a power line up the shore of Lake Nipigon to connect remote wind turbines to Thunder Bay.

Ever since the days of Adam Beck, the father of public power in Ontario, the province’s energy policy has been linked to economic policy. The motto was reliable power at cost. Now energy policy has been entirely decoupled from economic policy and attached to the runaway train of environmental policy. Everyone in the power system knows it. But they’re so terrified to raise their hands, most of the public is still in the dark.

The National Post wrote about how the Ontario government wastes taxpayer money to subsidize big corporations who experiment with unproven, expensive energy programs, like solar power.

Excerpt:

The Swedish retail giant IKEA announced yesterday it will invest $4.6-million to install 3,790 solar panels on three Toronto area stores, giving IKEA the electric-power-producing capacity of 960,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. According to IKEA, that’s enough electricity to power 100 homes. Amazing development. Even more amazing is the economics of this project. Under the Ontario government’s feed-in-tariff solar power scheme, IKEA will receive 71.3¢ for each kilowatt of power produced, which works out to about $6,800 a year for each of the 100 hypothetical homes. Since the average Toronto home currently pays about $1,200 for the same quantity of electricity, that implies that IKEA is being overpaid by $5,400 per home equivalent.

Welcome to the wonderful world of green economics and the magical business of carbon emission reduction. Each year, IKEA will receive $684,408 under Premier Dalton McGuinty’s green energy monster — for power that today retails for about $115,000. At that rate, IKEA will recoup $4.6-million in less than seven years — not bad for an investment that can be amortized over 20.

No wonder solar power is such a hot industry. No wonder, too, that the province of Ontario is in a headlong rush into a likely economic crisis brought on by skyrocketing electricity prices. To make up the money paid to IKEA to promote itself as a carbon-free zone, Ontario consumers and industries are on their way to experiencing the highest electricity rates in North America, if not most of the world.
The government’s regulator, the Ontario Energy Board, has prepared secret forecasts of how much Ontario consumers are going to have to pay for electricity over the next five years. The government won’t allow the report to be released. The next best estimate comes from Aegent Energy Advisors Inc., in a study it did for the Canadian Manufactures and Exporters group. Residential rates are expected to jump by 60% between 2010 and 2015. Industrial customers will be looking at a 55% increase.

Going back to 2003, based on numbers dug up by consultant Tom Adams, the price of residential electricity in Ontario hovered around 8.5¢ a kWh in 2003 — the first year of the McGuinty Liberal regime. By 2015, Aegent Energy estimates the price will be up to 21¢, an increase of 135%. Doubling the price of electricity in a decade is no way to spur growth and investment. In this age of global economic competition IKEA may end up with fewer sales of its Billy bookshelves in Toronto because its customers will be bogged down with soaring power bills and a sliding economy.

How about wind power? Is that any better? The National post explains the costs and drawbacks of wind power.

Excerpt:

A $200-million wind farm in northern New Brunswick is frozen solid, cutting off a potential supply of renewable energy for NB Power.

The 25-kilometre stretch of wind turbines, located 70 kilometres northwest of Bathurst, N.B. has been completely shutdown for several weeks due to heavy ice covering the blades.

[…]Wintery conditions also temporarily shutdown the site last winter, just months after its completion. Some or all of the turbines were offline for several days, with “particularly severe icing” blamed.

The accumulated ice alters the aerodynamics of the blades, rendering them ineffective as airfoils. The added weight further immobilizes the structures.

[…]Melissa Morton, a spokeswoman for the utility, says the contract isn’t based on power delivered during a specific period, but rather on an annual basis.

“Our hopes is that it will balance out over the 12-month period and, historically, that has been the case.”

Despite running into problems in consecutive winters, Ms. Morton says NB Power doesn’t have concerns about the reliability of the supply from the Caribou Mountain site.

And messing with energy production doesn’t just hurt consumers, it hurts businesses who have to pay more for electricity. They deal with those additional costs by laying off workers and raising the prices of their goods and services. These alternative energy sources simply to not work as well (YET) as current methods of generating power, and it costs a lot of taxpayer money to experiment with them. This is real money folks – YOUR MONEY.

The Wall Street Journal has more on the economic effects of cap-and-trade laws. Even with a Democrat-run House, a Democrat-run Senate, and a Democrat president, the anti-business left was not able to get the cap-and-trade carbon tax passed in the United States. Everybody, including Democrats, knew that a tax on energy production will cost the energy sector jobs, and raise prices on consumer energy.

Spain tried to implement a green jobs program, and it cost them 2.2 jobs in other sectors of the economy for every green job created by their green energy policy.

How did former NDP leader Bob Rae govern in Ontario?

If you want to know what New Democrats do to an economy, you can read about how NDP leader Bob Rae wrecked the Ontario economy in the 1990s.

Excerpt:

The Liberal government had forecast a small surplus earlier in the year, but a worsening North American economy led to a $700 million deficit before Rae took office. In October, the NDP projected a $2.5 billion deficit for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 1991.[40] Some economists projected soaring deficits for the upcoming years, even if the Rae government implemented austerity measures.[41] Rae himself was critical of the Bank of Canada’s high interest rate policy, arguing that it would lead to increased unemployment throughout the country.[42] He also criticized the 1991 federal budget, arguing the Finance Minister Michael Wilson was shifting the federal debt to the provinces.[43]

The Rae government’s first budget, introduced in 1991, increased social spending to mitigate the economic slowdown and projected a record deficit of $9.1 billion. Finance Minister Floyd Laughren argued that Ontario made a decision to target the effects of the recession rather than the deficit, and said that the budget would create or protect 70,000 jobs. It targeted more money to social assistance, social housing and child benefits, and raised taxes for high-income earners while lowering rates for 700,000 low-income Ontarians.[44]

A few years later, journalist Thomas Walkom described the budget as following a Keynesian orthodoxy, spending money in the public sector to stimulate employment and productivity. Unfortunately, it did not achieve its stated purpose. The recession was still severe. Walkom described the budget as “the worst of both worlds”, angering the business community but not doing enough to provide for public relief.

[…]Rae’s government attempted to introduce a variety of socially progressive measures during its time in office, though its success in this field was mixed. In 1994, the government introduced legislation, Bill 167, which would have provided for same-sex partnership benefits in the province. At the time, this legislation was seen as a revolutionary step forward for same-sex recognition.

[…]The Rae government established an employment equity commission in 1991,[49] and two years later introduced affirmative action to improve the numbers of women, non-whites, aboriginals and disabled persons working in the public sector.

[…]In November 1990, the Rae government announced that it would restrict most rent increases to 4.6% for the present year and 5.4% for 1991. The provisions for 1990 were made retroactive. Tenants’ groups supported these changes, while landlord representatives were generally opposed.

Be careful who you vote for, Canada. We voted for Obama, and now we have a 14.5 trillion dollar debt and a 1.65 trillion deficit – TEN TIMES the last Republican budget deficit of 160 billion under George W. Bush in 2007. TEN TIMES WORSE THAN BUSH.

UPDATE: This post linked by Crux of the Matter.

Related posts