The Patriot Post® · Daily Digest
“No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity.” —James Madison, Federalist No. 10, 1787
TOP RIGHT HOOKS
Like it or not, Barack Obama’s trade deal is needed if the U.S. is going to maintain influence in the Pacific Rim as a counterweight to China. But the community organizer in chief can’t even muster the support of his own party. Obama attacked Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, saying she’s wrong on the matter. The Wall Street Journal says Obama’s polarization tactics worked better when there was a Democrat majority in Congress. Now that the playing field has changed, he’s attacking his own party. As a result, Democrat lawmakers voted against their president Tuesday, refusing to fast-track the trade legislation.
Without the up-down, yes-no vote, the Obama administration has a more challenging task. Charles Krauthammer opined, “It would help if when the president says [Warren] is dead wrong, he would actually make a case to explain why, rather than say, ‘I would never sign a deal that’s not good for working Americans. Trust me.’ That’s what he does with Iran, that’s what he does with everything. … [O]n this, acting in the national interest as president, he knows that in the end free trade is a good idea. And this agreement, in particular, is extremely important geopolitically as a way to hold our Pacific Rim allies, who will be cut loose and will enter into China’s orbit if we don’t.” But Obama is such a narcissist, he can’t help but demean his own party. If that keeps up, then the last two years will quickly become a lame-duck presidency. More…
“I gotta pay our bills,” Bill Clinton said recently when explaining his exorbitant speaking fees. Well, the Associated Press reports on the State Department’s enabling of Bill’s gravy train: “State Department officials gave speedy and sometimes only cursory consideration to potential conflicts of interest when approving former President Bill Clinton’s lucrative speeches to global companies and foreign governments during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. … Again and again, the ethics office responsible for vetting his appearances hurriedly signed off on them, even in cases where questions had been raised about the behavior of organizations hiring Bill Clinton to appear. It approved at least 330 requests for the former president’s appearance at speeches, dinners and events. More than 220 of those were paid events that earned the family nearly $50 million [emphasis added].”
One example was a speech to Barclays, the British bank that soon thereafter was fined $300 million for violating financial sanctions against Burma, Cuba, Iran, Libya and Sudan. And then there was the time Bill spoke to British-based HSBC, under investigation for — get this — money laundering. It’s no stretch to conclude that Hillary Clinton wasn’t about to use her authority at State to block Bill’s payday. They were “dead broke,” she told us, and that money was helping them just get by.
From 2011 to 2014, the Department of Defense paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million to honor soldiers during games. That’s right: What we thought was a genuine display of patriotism, like Hometown Hero, only came about because the NFL (formerly a “nonprofit” — pfft) wanted more money and the U.S. military wanted advertisement. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who first drew attention to the practice, said, “They realize the public believes they’re doing it as a public service or a sense of patriotism. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth.” While the NFL is contemptible for trading salutes for cash, the U.S. military also shoulders some of the blame for manipulating special moments into theater to gain more recruits. What do the soldiers, some with injuries from war, who walked out onto the field in front of thousands think of the fact that they were used as pawns in a marketing campaign that earned a sports franchise millions?
Meanwhile, Sen. Harry Reid has bigger fish to fry. He took to the Senate floor to complain about the suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for knowing about improperly inflated footballs. “I find it stunning that the National Football League is more concerned about how much air is in a football than with a racist franchise name that denigrates Native Americans across the country.” If Reid were serious about his political charade, he’d just pay the Washington Redskins to change their name. With all this nonsense, maybe it’s time for the nation to return to America’s pastime — baseball. More…
FEATURED RIGHT ANALYSIS
By Jim Harrington
For years, actuaries, financial analysts and policy wonks have warned that Social Security is doomed to crash. Contrary to rosy predictions a decade ago that this popular government program has a funded lifetime of 33 more years and won’t sink into the red until 2017, Social Security actually went red in 2010 and will go broke in 2024.
In 1983, the Social Security trustees predicted that reforms would maintain the program’s solvency through 2048. Even they’ve changed their tune, though they won’t admit it’s as moribund as it actually is.
Since its inception, Social Security has promised each succeeding generation that there will be at least a minimum of money for them at retirement. All working people are taxed at the rate of 12.4% of each paycheck, with the promise of a return. (Yes, employers pay half, but they also pay employees less as a result. It still costs “X” to employ a person; whether 6.2% is earmarked for direct Social Security payments matters not.) But that money’s gone in an insolvent system.
When Franklin Roosevelt created Social Security, the ratio of taxpayers to beneficiaries was 42:1. Today that ratio has plummeted to numbers FDRs’ “Brain Trust” never contemplated — it’s now a puny 3:1, and with 80 million Baby Boomers beginning to enter the system that ratio will only get worse. Social Security’s already running a $200 billion annual deficit with 60 million recipients, so it’s difficult to understand the trustees’ optimism.
Researchers Gary King of Harvard and Samir Soneji and Konstantin Kashin of Dartmouth analyzed the Social Security Administration (SSA) trustees actuarial reports and conclude the program’s insolvency is near. Their research found little or no bias in the annual reporting between 1978 and 1999, but from 2000 onward the bias presenting the program positively has been increasing steadily.
King reports that the trustees use outdated modes in the analyses, comparing them to “steering by sextant and dead reckoning” rather than using “global-positioning-systems.” They “employ research methods that are antiquated and opaque compared with the statistics and open-source data analytics powering today’s successful scientific and business enterprises.”
Steve Goss, the chief actuary of the SSA, nevertheless enjoys widespread credibility. Supporters in the public, academic and private sectors use his analyses in their own work.
Barron’s Bill Alpert explains why: Goss says SSA actuaries “leave politics at the door when they prepare” reports, and argues that “forecast errors in the past decade might have resulted from the 2008 recession.” Besides political independence, Goss values consistency in the projections and looks askance at changing assumptions or methods.
Goss cites as a cautionary tale the trustees’ continuing to project long-term gains while productivity dropped during the 1980s. Then in 1995, the economy began a sharp climb. “[We] learned a lesson,” Goss said. “[M]aybe we should look at the long-term averages, not flip back and forth a lot based on very, very brief periods of recent experience.” One problem with that approach is that the U.S. is not your granddaddy’s country.
And Alpert notes another big problem for Goss: “[A] surprising number of past panelists complain that Goss has ignored their advice. A case in point is the way the actuaries predict death rates. Along with birth rates and immigration, death rates are a crucial consideration in projecting the future populations that will be paying into Social Security and drawing benefits. Since 1999, outside demographers on Social Security’s technical panels have unsuccessfully urged the actuaries to change their approach for predicting death rates. Goss’ crew makes judgments about future death rates within each age group and sex from five separate causes, like heart disease, cancer, and violence — a process that obliges the actuaries to come up with 150 different parameters in a way that outside experts have never been able to plumb.”
Faulty methods distort projections for solvency.
Problems are many, solutions, few. The system has already raised the full eligibility age to 66, and soon, 67. That’s not enough. One suggestion: raise taxes (naturally). To maintain the promised benefits, former Bill Clinton adviser Bill Galston argues the payroll tax would have to rise from 12.4% to 15.9%. A middle-income family (about $50,000) would pay another $900 annually. Adding this to all other taxes they pay is unconscionable.
Republicans have promoted privatizing part of Social Security for more than 20 years. Were taxpayers allowed to invest their Social Security money in 401k’s, even a modest return would allow middle-income earners to retire on six-figure incomes. Social Security’s “return,” by comparison, is an obscene joke. It actually results in a loss due to the constant inflation of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Social Security is a Pony Express program in a smart phone world. It makes changes grudgingly and only long after they are obviously needed. And because it is the greatest Ponzi scheme of all time, some Americans will be hurt very badly. Yet this oft-repeated warning has never been heeded because government employees have their own pension system, and citizens only want what was promised to them — a retirement income. Anybody aiming to fix that, in the view of too many Americans, is merely trying to steal from them. In short, it’s an entrenched problem that will almost surely receive nothing but token Band-Aids as long as politicians can hold out.
TODAY AT PATRIOTPOST.US
- ANALYSIS: What’s Worse Than Taxes? Regulation U.S.A.
- Reminder: North Korea Has Nuclear Ambitions, Too
- Intelligence Head ‘Forgot’ to Tell Congress About NSA Program
- Obama Hates on Democrats
- Republicans Join Legal Fight Over Obama’s Amnesty
- China Now Number One Crude Oil Importer
BEST OF RIGHT OPINION
- Ben Shapiro: Shut Pam Geller Up, or We Will All Die
- Jonah Goldberg: Mark Halperin’s Biased Grilling of Ted Cruz
- Michelle Malkin: The Return of Obama’s Hoax-Spreading Bitter Half
- Jacob Sullum: Warrantless Snooping Goes Far Beyond NSA’s Phone-Record Dragnet
- Arnold Ahlert: Arab Leaders Revolt Against Iran Nuke Deal
- Terence Jeffrey: Einstein Memorial Refutes White House Environmentalist
- Walter Williams: Some Odds and Ends
For more, visit Right Opinion.
OPINION IN BRIEF
Ben Shapiro: “[Pamela] Geller, the narrative goes, should never have encouraged people to draw Muhammad because it was ‘provocative.’ To which the answer should be: So what? Women attending school in Afghanistan ‘provokes’ radical Muslims into throwing acid on their faces, but that does not mean that women should not go to school in Afghanistan or be condemned for doing so. … How do proponents of this victim/victimizer identity dichotomy determine who falls into which category? They simply look at the socioeconomic status of those involved and make a determination of who is worse off. Thus, black Baltimore rioters were not people acting without any sense of values, but rather victims provoked by injustice from a non-existent white power structure in Baltimore. Before a conflict has even begun, we know who deserves our sympathy. That calculus leads to more death, more destruction, more chaos. That death, destruction and chaos cannot be laid at the feet of Pamela Geller, but those who continue to perpetuate a narrative in which people who commit evil acts are victims, and those who are their victims are their provocateurs.”
Insight: “He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice.” —Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Non Compos Mentis: “I think the effort to suggest that the poor are sponges, leeches, don’t want to work, are lazy, are undeserving got traction. And look, it’s still being propagated. I mean, I have to say that if you watch Fox News on a regular basis, it is a constant menu — they will find folks who make me mad. I don’t know where they find them. They’re all like, ‘I don’t want to work. I just want a free Obamaphone,’ or whatever.” —Barack Obama (“[H]e seems well-acquainted with what we do. I think Fox ought to run a full-page ad welcoming Obama into the viewership of the number one network. … Mr. President, if you’re watching us right now, you’ve got a tick. It can be cured.‘ —Charles Krauthammer)
Demo-gogues: "When I … make an argument about closing the carried interest loophole that exists whereby hedge fund managers are paying 15% on the fees and income that they collect, I’ve been called Hitler for doing this, or at least this is like Hitler going into Poland. That’s an actual quote from a hedge fund manager when I made that recommendation. The top 25 hedge fund managers made more than all the kindergarten teachers in the country. … There’s a fairness issue involved here.” —Barack Obama
Late-night humor: “The White House is testing out new spikes that would make it difficult to jump the fence. So if you’re wondering what kind of cutting-edge technology the Secret Service is using to protect the president, it’s spikes. I think someone saw an episode of 'Game of Thrones.’” —Seth Meyers
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis!
Managing Editor Nate Jackson
Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families.