Busted: Bankers and The Global Economy

March 1, 2009

U.S. Budget Goes Bust

obama-camp-lejeuneThe economy is in a tailspin, contracting at a 6.2 percent pace in the last three months of 2008: the worst performance in decades. The White House announced that it will take a 36-percent stake in Citigroup in the hope of keeping it afloat amid huge toxic debt and a continuing crisis of confidence. These are ominous reminders that the nation has critical decisions to make in order to turn things around. President Obama appears to have ditched the Bush administration’s Washington-style budget sleight-of-hand with the attempt to honestly portray what the government will actually spend. In the mind of President Obama, his truth in budgeting approach is designed to help Americans make informed choices. That is exactly what Americans have been doing without government so far. We react to the failures of government, business and even ourselves. Even so, President Obama reveals that $3.6 trillion is to be spent in 2010, with almost $1.2 trillion of it borrowed.

What is President Obama’s message to taxpayers and Capitol Hill? We need to quit magical thinking. All the thing the nation’s needs will not pay for themselves. Laying the groundwork for a strong economy in the future isn’t without cost. Does America want to kick fossil fuels out for a greener future? How will America reform how we pay for health care, so that the nation can get more for our dollars and reduce the ranks of the uninsured? How do we keep Medicare solvent with the swelling rank of the disabled and a steadily growing retirement community? The nation needs a larger federal contribution for our schools. How will the nation repair and maintain roads, bridges, airports and mass transit? Now there is talk of building a modern energy grid. The president is counting on the economy to be growing by 2011. He plans on halving the deficit by 2013 through taxation of the upper class and perhaps through restricting corporate taxes loopholes and offshore banking. Keeping a deficit in the same place is difficult enough with the proposed spending required to save the nation and its’ current power and financial structure. That deficit reduction remains to be seen. Along the way, the nation must discontinue the practice of borrowing, spending and passing the bill to our kids to deal with. We just haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

You can argue that money isn’t everything, but you can’t argue that fact when you are in government and money is everything. ~ E. Manning

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January 31, 2009

Unemployment and Government Stimulus

economic-ideaAs Digital Economy has previously noted, the heralded stimulus plan is mostly a safety net for government services, government jobs and the disadvantaged, including the recently unemployed. What is the current ‘$825 billion’ stimulus plan going to do for the recent numbers of jobless Americans?

• $43 billion for increased unemployment benefits. Weekly benefits will go up by $25 a week and the amount of time the unemployed may claim them will be extended by at least 20 weeks, plus another 13 weeks for those in high-unemployment states.

• $39 billion for expanded health care benefits for the unemployed. The federal government will reimburse states to extend Medicaid coverage for the jobless through Dec. 31, 2010. For those who want to keep their old employer’s insurance plan, the government will subsidize their Cobra payments – paying 65% up to 12 months. Cobra eligibility will be extended for some groups of workers.

• $20 billion to increase food stamp payments by 13%. For a family of four, that means an average increase of $79 a month – from $588 now to $667 if the current legislation passes.

internet-personal-businessThe largest opportunity for economic growth, especially for small business and the individual in these times, remains on the internet segment of the digital economy. In other words, Americans need to get creative and found a personal small business based on solid business principles while employing creativity. I am not referring to internet hype or ‘affiliate business’ that has become the rage and plague of the internet. The fact remains that you cannot depend on Wall Street or Main Street Corporate America for your livelihood. Counter to the intuition of business activity and the economy, the internet remains a bright spot for many, Amazon.com among them. ~ E. Manning

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