For a political animal such as myself, I’ve never heard of this:
Kudos to the President for his proposal to scale back the subsidy for terrorism reinsurance. I wish he had gone all the way to eliminate this program during this term, but I’ll take the partial win.
After the 9/11 attacks, parts of the market for insurance against terrorist attacks evaporated. Insurers rely on statistical data to determine the chance of a future terrorist attack, and therefore the chance that they will have to pay a claim. Insurers were no longer able to estimate the chance that the Empire State Building, or a new stadium, would be attacked, and so they were unwilling to sell terrorism insurance for these kinds of high-value terrorist targets.
This caused further problems, because some real estate developers could not get bank loans without insurance against a terrorist attack.
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to move ahead with the nomination of Mary Smith to head the Justice Department’s Tax Division, over Republican objections that Smith lacks significant relevant experience.
At a committee meeting, three Republican senators spoke against Smith, noting that she has never held a job specializing in tax law. She has never written or spoken on tax issues, does not have a specialized degree, and has never taken a continuing legal education course in tax law, said the committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
“Tax law is very specialized and it’s certainly not an area where you learn on the job,” Sessions said. He argued that Smith could be an embarrassment to the administration, saying, “You should not put people in a job they’re not prepared to handle.”
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) called Smith the “worst choice” that President Barack Obama has made in all of his appointments. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the Republican whip, said there must be “thousands of highly experienced tax lawyers who would love to have a job like this.”
No Democrats spoke in defense of Smith before voting for her, though Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) noted that the committee has received letters supporting her nomination ….
Smith is a partner at Schoeman Updike Kaufman & Scharf in Chicago. … The committee voted 12-7 along party lines to send Smith’s nomination to the full Senate
Imagine you had to pick someone to shepherd a gigantic multinational corporation through a bankruptcy in order to salvage it. Would you look for someone with extensive experience in the firm’s industry, or would you prefer someone with demonstrated savvy on Wall Street in turning around troubled firms? If the firm made cars, perhaps you could think of it as a choice between a Lee Iacocca or a Mitt Romney.
Or, maybe, you’d just pick someone from the mail room, as Barack Obama apparently has in the GM bankruptcy:
It is not every 31-year-old who, in a first government job, finds himself dismantling General Motors and rewriting the rules of American capitalism.
But that, in short, is the job description for Brian Deese, a not-quite graduate of Yale Law School who had never set foot in an automotive assembly plant until he took on his nearly unseen role in remaking the American automotive industry.
Nor, for that matter, had he given much thought to what ailed an industry that had been in decline ever since he was born. A bit laconic and looking every bit the just-out-of-graduate-school student adjusting to life in the West Wing — “he’s got this beard that appears and disappears,” says Steven Rattner, one of the leaders of President Obama’s automotive task force — Mr. Deese was thrown into the auto industry’s maelstrom as soon the election-night parties ended.
“There was a time between Nov. 4 and mid-February when I was the only full-time member of the auto task force,” Mr. Deese, a special assistant to the president for economic policy, acknowledged recently as he hurried between his desk at the White House and the Treasury building next door. “It was a little scary.”
Scary? Well, yes, and not just for Mr. Deese, whose executive experience actually is less than Obama’s. He’s never run any business, let alone worked in the auto industry. He joined the Hillary Clinton campaign by taking a hiatus from law school, which he began after working as an assistant to Gene Sperling, now an advisor to Tim Geithner. His entire resume consists of campaign work.
Perhaps Deese will do a good job, but I’m not terribly sanguine about the prospects of GM prospering under the guidance of someone who hasn’t ever met a payroll or sold a car. A President who took his own job seriously would never have appointed a second-tier adviser to this position. A national media who took their jobs seriously wouldn’t let him get away with it, and don’t count this NYT piece in their favor. They give a glowing report to this political-hackery appointment.
White House: Budget deficit to top $1.8 trillion, 4 times 2008’s record
* Andrew Taylor, Associated Press Writer
* On Monday May 11, 2009, 11:09 am EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) — With the economy performing worse than hoped, revised White House figures point to deepening budget deficits, with the government borrowing almost 50 cents for every dollar it spends this year.
The deficit for the current budget year will rise by $89 billion to above $1.8 trillion — about four times the record set just last year. The unprecedented red ink flows from the deep recession, the Wall Street bailout, the cost of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill, as well as a structural imbalance between what the government spends and what it takes in.
As the economy performs worse than expected, the deficit for the 2010 budget year beginning in October will worsen by $87 billion to $1.3 trillion, the White House says. The deterioration reflects lower tax revenues and higher costs for bank failures, unemployment benefits and food stamps.
For the current year, the government would borrow 46 cents for every dollar it takes to run the government under the administration’s plan. In one of the few positive signs, the actual 2009 deficit is likely to be $250 billion less than predicted because Congress is unlikely to provide another $250 billion in financial bailout money.
The developments come as the White House completes the official release of its $3.6 trillion budget for 2010, adding detail to some of its tax proposals and ideas for producing health care savings. The White House budget is a recommendation to Congress that represents Obama’s fiscal and policy vision for the next decade.
Annual deficits would never dip below $500 billion and would total $7.1 trillion over 2010-2019. Even those dismal figures rely on economic projections that are significantly more optimistic — just a 1.2 percent decline in gross domestic product this year and a 3.2 percent growth rate for 2010 — than those forecast by private sector economists and the Congressional Budget Office.
For the most part, Obama’s updated budget tracks the 134-page outline he submitted to lawmakers in February. His budget remains a bold but contentious document that proposes higher taxes for the wealthy, a hotly contested effort to combat global warming and the first steps toward guaranteed health care for all.
Obama’s Democratic allies controlling Congress have already made it clear that they will reject key elements of his plan. Already apparently dead is a plan to raise $267 billion over the next decade to pay for his health care initiative by curbing the ability of wealthier people to reduce their tax bills through deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes.
And the congressional budget plan approved last month would not extend Obama’s signature $400 tax credit for most workers — $800 for couples — after it expires at the end of next year.
Obama’s remarkably controversial “cap-and-trade” proposal to curb heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions is also reeling from opposition from Capitol Hill Democrats from coal-producing regions and states with concentrations of heavy industry. Under cap-and-trade, the government would auction permits to emit heat-trapping gases, with the costs being passed on to consumers via higher gasoline and electric bills.
Among the new proposals is a plan — already on its way through Congress — that would increase the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s borrowing authority from $30 billion to $100 billion in order to grant a two-year reprieve from higher deposit insurance premiums while the industry is struggling.
Also new are several tax “loophole” closures and increased IRS tax compliance efforts to raise $58 billion over the next decade to help finance Obama’s health care measure. The money makes up for revenue losses stemming from lower-than-hoped estimates of his proposal to limit wealthier people’s ability to maximize their itemized deductions.
The updated budget also would repeal an unintended tax windfall taken by paper companies that use a byproduct in the paper-making process as fuel to power their mills. The tax credits were never intended for paper companies, but now they could be worth more than $3 billion a year, according to a congressional estimate.
The budget would make permanent the expanded $2,500 tax credit for college expenses that was provided for two years in the just-passed economic stimulus bill. It also would renew most of the Bush tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003, and would permanently update the alternative minimum tax so that it would hit fewer middle- to upper-income taxpayers.
If only Obama would employ Jack Bauer without restraints…
Jim Geraghty’s axiom continues to apply as another Barack Obama Position Expiration Date arrives. After a series of rebuffs towards those who want war-crimes trials against Bush administration officials for allegedly approving torture, Obama reversed himself today and suggested that such trials might take place. Jake Tapper gives the details:
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