July 5, 2012

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Alana Goodman says Romney is about to make his fourth visit to Israel. Putin was just there. But, Obama has never made the trip.

The New York Times reports that Mitt Romney will visit Israel to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu this summer, marking his fourth trip to the country: …


What is a card-carrying right winger to do? Now it looks like David Brooks is making sense.

Hostility toward the Supreme Court has risen sharply since Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. upheld the Obama health care law. People are apparently angry that the court didn’t rid them of a law they detest. But that’s silly. If Americans want to replace this thing, they should do it themselves.

The case against Obamacare is pretty straightforward. In the first place, the law centralizes power. Representative Tom Price, a Republican of Georgia, counted 159 new federal offices, boards and councils, though nonpartisan researchers have had trouble reaching an exact tally. In the first six months after passage alone, federal officials churned out an awesome 4,103 pages of regulations.

The law also creates the sort of complex structures that inevitably produce unintended consequences. The most commonly discussed perverse result is that millions of Americans will lose their current health insurance.

A report by the House Ways and Means Committee found that 71 of the Fortune 100 companies have an incentive to drop coverage. But nobody really knows what’s going to happen. A Congressional Budget Office study this year estimated that 20 million could lose coverage under the law or perhaps 3 million could gain employer coverage. Or the number could be inside or outside the range.

There are other possible perverse effects. …


Michael Barone regrets the decision, however . . .

… the fact remains that a majority of five justices, including Roberts, also declared that Congress’ power to regulate commerce does not authorize a mandate to buy a commercial product. This will tend to bar further expansion of the size and scope of the federal government.

Moreover, the Constitution’s limits on congressional power have now become, for the first time in seven decades, a political issue. They’re likely to remain one for years to come.

This would not have been the case had the constitutional case against the mandate not been advanced by Washington lawyer David Rivkin, Georgetown law professor Randy Barnett and many others.

They did not quite prevail in the Supreme Court, but they changed not only the legal but also the political debate in a way almost no one anticipated three years ago.

Unhappy conservatives grumble that Congress can get around the declaration that a mandate is beyond Congress’ enumerated powers by labeling it a tax — or just by relying on five justices declaring it one.

But there’s usually a political price to pay for increasing taxes. That’s why Barack Obama swore up and down that the mandate was not a tax. It’s why Democratic congressional leaders did not call it one.

Chief Justice Roberts’ decision undercuts such arguments, now and in the future. Members of Congress supporting such legislation will be held responsible, this year and for years to come, for increasing taxes.

And the Constitution’s provision that tax bills must be originated in the House of Representatives means that the party controlling the House can effectively block such measures. That will be an argument for Republican congressional candidates for the indefinite future. …


Michael Boskin writes on Barack Obama’s economic ignorance. 

President Obama should put Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” at the top of his summer reading list. This was clear after listening to his 54-minute list of economic excuses and policy proposals delivered earlier this month on the campus of Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland.

At times Mr. Obama suggested that the profit motive is somehow ignoble, an opinion shared by many on the far left. But every student learns in introductory economics class that the pursuit of profits is essential to a successful economy, allocating resources to the use consumers value most.

This is not exactly a new insight. Writing in 1776, Adam Smith noted, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

The president spent nearly an hour demonizing his Republican opponent Mitt Romney’s economic policies and doubling down on his own failed agenda. He called for higher taxes on our most productive citizens and successful small businesses, more government spending and debt, and Washington micromanagement of wide swaths of the economy.

Instead of doubling down, Mr. Obama could have seen his party’s 2010 midterm defeat as a message from voters to move to the center, announcing that his vast expansion of government was temporary and necessitated by the financial crisis and deep recession. …


Ed Carson says the cost of the GM bailout has hit $35 billion.

To quote Lando Calrissian, this deal’s getting worse all the time.

General Motors (GM) shares fell to a fresh 2012 closing low of 19.57 on Monday. The stock hit 19 in mid-December, the lowest since the auto giant came public at $33 in November 2010 following its June 2009 bankruptcy.

Normally you might say, tough luck investors. But this is Government Motors. The Treasury still owns 26.5% of GM, or 500 million shares. Taxpayers are still out $26.4 billion in direct aid. Shares would have to hit $53 for the government to break even.

Those shares were worth about $9.8 billion as of Monday. That would leave taxpayers with a loss of $16.6 billion.

But that’s not the full tally. Obama let GM keep $45 billion in past losses to offset future profits. Those are usually wiped out or slashed, along with debts, in bankruptcy. But the administration essentially gifted $45 billion in write-offs (book value $18 billion) to GM. So when GM earned a $7.6 billion profit in 2011 (more on that below), it paid no taxes.

Include that $18 billion gift, and taxpayers’ true loss climbs to nearly $35 billion. …


More economic stupidity from the president. This time the Weekly Standard writes on the latest solar firm bust.

Just two years after President Obama touted a $400 million loan to the green energy firm Abound Solar, the company is declaring bankruptcy. The Department of Energy announced the news on Thursday, while the media were focused on the Obamacare Supreme Court decision, C.J. Ciaramella of the Washington Free Beacon reports. A Department of Energy spokesman wrote on the agency’s website that Abound Solar received “less than $70 million” of its $400 million loan from the government. According to the New York Times, Abound Solar only has 125 employees at this time–all of whom will be fired next week. Dividing the $70 million loan by its entire workforce amounts to $560,000 per worker. 

The failure of Abound Solar, like that of Solyndra, is particularly embarrassing for President Obama–he touted the $400 million loan to Abound Solar in his July 3, 2010 weekly address and claimed it would create 1,500 “permanent jobs.”  …


Andrew Malcolm has late night humor.

Leno: Obama’s Democratic National Convention is falling apart already. They canceled their kickoff event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Which would have been a perfect place for Democrats: You go around in circles, turn left all the time and end up right back where you started.

Leno: Today Joe Biden said, the economy is “a depression for millions and millions of Americans.” I don’t know who Mitt Romney is picking for his VP, but Joe Biden sounds perfect.

Oops! Obama congratulates the NBA champion Miami Heats. Hey, what can you expect from a fan of the Chicago Bull and White Sock.

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