Here's some potentially VERY good economic news that was lost amid the weekend news flurry.  Those…
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Some Potentially VERY Good Economic News

Here's some potentially VERY good economic news that was lost amid the weekend news flurry.  Those with "skin in the game," and who likely possess the best perspective, are betting heavily on an upturn, as highlighted by Friday's Wall Street Journal:

Corporate insiders are buying stock in their own companies at a pact not seen in years, a sign they are betting on a rebound after a coronavirus-induced rout.  More than 2,800 executives and directors have purchased nearly $1.19 billion in company stock since the beginning of March.  That's the third-highest level on both an individual and dollar basis since 1988, according to the Washington Service, which provides data analytics about trading activity by insiders."

Here's why that's important:

Because insiders typically know the…[more]

March 30, 2020 • 11:02 am

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Home The Issues Taxes & Economy Omnibus Spending Bill: A Litmus Test for GOP Budget Cutters
Omnibus Spending Bill: A Litmus Test for GOP Budget Cutters Print
By Ashton Ellis
Thursday, December 16 2010
More than any other bill before Congress, the omnibus budget is a litmus test for all the GOP spending cutters, especially on projects that conservatives might otherwise be tempted to let pass.

Breaking NewsDue to intense grassroots and Congressional opposition to the Omnibus Spending Bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled it late Thursday night and will yield to Republican leaders in the Senate to provide basic funding for the government temporarily into the New Year through a simple Continuing Resolution (CR).

With just over a week left for last minute Christmas shopping, dozens of U. S. senators are throwing caution to the wind and racking up hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer debt.  The 6,600 earmarks bloating the omnibus budget bill by $8 billion are threatening to cause a government shutdown as fiscal conservatives vow to strip out the excess or kill the whole deal.  The showdown over sanity is shaping up as a litmus test for GOP spending cutters. 

Of course, there are the usual culprits.  Ex-senators Roland Burris (D-IL) and Ted Kaufman (D-DE) made directed funding requests (i.e. earmarks) totaling $141 million before turning over their seats to their newly elected successors Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Chris Coons (D-DE).  Not bad for two unelected seat-warmers “investing” and “stimulating” in the mold of their predecessors Barack Obama and Joe Biden. 

Defeated and retiring senators are also engaging in the kind of lobbyist-generated funding projects that rankles everyday American taxpayers.  Utah Republican Bob Bennett ($179 million) and Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln ($189 million) aren’t letting their election defeats change their minds about how to use the public’s purse.  Support for the bill by retiring Ohio Republican George Voinovich ($85 million), coupled with his refusal to extend the Bush tax cuts as “unaffordable,” prompted the Wall Street Journal to muse about canceling his pension.  Even better would be the elimination of the lame-duck period altogether. 

Until that happens, fiscal conservatives should fight to strip out the pork from the omnibus bill, even if it means shutting down the government for a time.  More than any other bill before Congress, the omnibus budget is a litmus test for all the GOP spending cutters, especially on projects that conservatives might otherwise be tempted to let pass. 

Chief among these is a $450 million defense-related earmark for General Electric (GE) and Rolls Royce to develop a piece of hardware the military doesn’t want.  Since 2004, Congress has channeled $1.2 billion to those companies to design an engine for the military’s Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), a flexible jet fighter that can be modified to fit the service needs of the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.  The idea behind the JSF is a welcome experiment in efficiency for military budget writers.  The reality of the project is not.   

Most important, the engine won’t be in the aircraft.  It’s an alternative engine in case something goes wrong with the well-functioning, nothing-wrong-to-date model built by United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt and Whitney unit.  Think of the program as a billion-dollar-plus insurance policy that the owner doesn’t want.  Defense Secretary Robert Gates opposes the engine as “wasteful,” and President Obama told its supporters in both parties that he would veto any bill containing funding for it.

With all the wasteful earmarks in the current omnibus bill, now seems like a perfect time for the president and congressional Republicans to get serious about eliminating earmarks once and for all.  Economically, earmarks distort every market they touch because they tempt free marketers to compromise their principles or risk falling behind competitors with less scruples.  Politically, there is no better time to be a hard-nosed budget hawk. 

With unemployment stuck above 9 percent, the public knows more government stimulus won’t create jobs. Moreover, while it’s true eliminating earmarks alone won’t balance the budget because they are a relatively small piece of the spending pie, it’s equally certain that a Congress that can’t bring itself to end earmarks is a group that can’t be trusted to reform entitlements. 

If America is going to claw its way back to a balanced budget without raising taxes, hard decisions will have to be made about very popular public programs.  Eliminating earmarks should be the first priority in the long march to fiscal sanity.   

Question of the Week   
In which one of the following years did Congress first meet in Washington, D.C.?
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Quote of the Day   
 
"New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called on the federal government to take control of the medical supply market. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker demanded that President Trump take charge and said 'precious months' were wasted waiting for federal action. Some critics are even more direct in demanding a federal takeover, including a national quarantine.It is the legal version of panic shopping. Many seem…[more]
 
 
—Jonathan Turley, George Washington University Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law
— Jonathan Turley, George Washington University Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law
 
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