Federal Reserve chairmen are famous for their opaque but sophisticated-sounding comments designed to make it appear that they know more about the shape of the economy than they really do. But outgoing chairman Ben Bernanke’s direct and transparent assertions yesterday about fiscal policy also left me scratching my head.
Other than providing generous pay and fat pensions, many federal agencies are not great places to work, according to federal employees themselves on a new survey.
Welfare advocates regularly urge Americans to look to the European welfare state as a model. At least in the case of the Netherlands, they might be on to something.
Last fiscal year Uncle Sam had some budget good news. After running $1 trillion-plus deficits four years in a row, Washington had to borrow “just” $680 billion in 2013. True, that was the fifth highest deficit in history, 50 percent greater than the pre-financial crash record. But it’s only the taxpayers’ money, so what’s the big deal?
In the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan calls the Ryan-Murray budget deal a “step in the right direction,” which echoes a claim by Rep. Paul Ryan. She says the deal “goes in the right general direction, not the wrong one.” But how could a deal composed of spending and revenue increases possibly be the right direction when the government is already far too large?
The Ryan-Murray budget deal is remarkably bad when you look at the details. If the Republican Party is supposed to be the fiscally conservative party, there is virtually nothing Republican in the agreement. The Democrats could have written the whole thing themselves. It raises spending and taxes, and reduces the deficit only in a jury-rigged scorekeeping kind of a way that won’t actually be realized.
The Washington Post has great reporters, but there may be room for improvement in sharing research and reviewing past stories by colleagues.An article on Sunday discussed how candy factories “had laid off thousands of workers” in a Chicago neighborhood where a new Wal-Mart has located:
Republicans in Congress have put in a dismal fiscal performance in 2013. The party could not come together to defund the disastrous Obamacare law. No progress was made tackling entitlements or eliminating programs. Republicans joined with Democrats to move ahead the wasteful farm bill. And the year began with a large income tax increase.
I was surprised to read this assertion about the minimum wage by labor analyst Harry Holzer in the Washington Post today:
For more than 40 years, Amtrak has relied on $1 billion or more a year in taxpayer handouts to run slow, and often late, passenger trains. Indeed, the man considered to be the “father” of Amtrak, Anthony Haswell, recently said that he is “personally embarrassed over what I helped to create.”