Obama: Put More People on Welfare!

by Gerri Willis

The Obama Administration has a one-size-fits-all solution for our nation's problems: put more people on welfare!

We've just seen moves like running radio soap operas to encourage people to sign up for food stamps and claiming the right to waive welfare's work requirements.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg!

The federal government actually runs 126 separate anti-poverty programs. They're managed by 13 different agencies.

We use the word "welfare" to describe money that goes to needy people. But the government's war on poverty is a whole lot bigger. And it's rife with waste and redundancy.

The federal government runs 33 different housing programs: 21 programs to provide food, eight healthcare programs, 27 cash or general assistance programs. It's hard to find a government department that doesn't run an anti-poverty program. All this adds up -- and this is just the federal government.

If you also include state and local spending, the government will spend nearly a trillion dollars this year fighting poverty. That's almost the size of the national deficit this year.

Now let me be clear, I don't object to poor people getting help. My problem is a government throwing money at programs that clearly aren't working. Consider this: All this welfare spending adds up to $20,610 for every poor man, woman and child in the country.

For a poor family of three, that's nearly $62,000 dollars. The poverty line for that family is just $18,500. With this kind of spending, poverty should be wiped out - instead it's growing.

Today, one in seven Americans is living in poverty. The most in almost two decades. All the while spending is soaring.

And, welfare spending for the last four decades -- adjusted for inflation? Up, up, up. How can we spend all this money, and see so little progress?

Instead of pushing this line higher and higher, and expanding the welfare state, we should be stopping the taxes and bloated regulations that hold back economic growth and job creation. People need work, not handouts.

Unfortunately the only solution the president sees is throwing more money at the problem. More government, instead of less. More dependency instead of empowerment.

Instead of going forward, we're going in circles.

Is Obama's Immigration Policy Unconstitutional?

by Gerri Willis

Nobody saw it coming.

The President announced a radical shift in our immigration policy. Instead of deporting some young illegal immigrants, the Obama administration will be offering work permits.

It's not based on any law, and the President says that's Congress's fault:

“In the absence of any immigration action from Congress to fix our broken immigration system, what we've tried to do is focus our immigration enforcement resources in the right places.”

When the President says Congress was inactive, what he really means is they rejected his idea. It was called the DREAM Act. Congress considered it, but it didn't have the support to pass. That's why it's not the law, but the President's putting it into effect anyway.

And this is not the first time the President has ignored the will of Congress. It's become one of his favorite tactics. In October of 2009, Obama had the Department of Justice announce they would stop prosecuting medical marijuana users and suppliers. This is just nine months into office. I guess it didn't take him too long to give up on the bipartisanship he campaigned on.

Last September, the Department of Justice announced they had changed their interpretation of the law, and effectively legalized internet gambling. With this move, the President's actually ignoring two laws on the books: The Wire Act of 1961 and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

This is about more than vices. How about education?

No Child Left Behind had strict requirements for school performance, and threatened to pull federal funding from failing schools. Accountability. That's the law, but Obama doesn't like it, so the administration has granted waivers to 19 states.

What's the point of electing a Congress if the entire executive branch is going to ignore them? To not uphold and defend the laws of the land? Here’s one of the most egregious parts of the new immigration policy.

The Senate is at work on a new version of the DREAM Act, and it's supported by Republican Senator Marco Rubio. Why couldn't the President have worked with him on finding common ground there? Is bipartisanship really that distasteful for the President?

Might it undermine the President's campaign message that Congress can't get anything done?

You'd think the President would know better because he swore in his oath of office to uphold the Constitution.

And this isn't buried in the fine print. Article I, Section I: Congress has the exclusive power to write laws. Not the President. He's responsible for enforcing them.

But you know there's a constitutional scholar who described this exact situation just last year.

According to Obama, “America is a nation of laws, which means I, as the President, am obligated to enforce the law. The notion that I can just suspend deportations, that's just not the case.”

The laws on immigration haven't changed since then. I guess the President's views just "evolved." Isn't it incredible what an election year can do to your point of view?

Obama's "Forward" Slogan is all Backwards

by Gerri Willis

Now that he’s officially campaigning for re-election, the President's put out a seven-minute video of his accomplishments. I guess there wasn't enough to make it an even ten? He’s revealing his one-word campaign slogan, "Forward."

Have a taste:

Narrator: “The President's stimulus plan saved up to 4.2 million jobs, including teachers, construction workers, police and firefighters working to build a stronger America.

Pres. Obama: I believe America is on the way up. Thank you, God bless you, God bless the United States of America. [Vis: Forward]”

I've got a much better slogan for the President: Backward.

That's his economic policy in a nutshell. What do you call raising taxes in the middle of a recovery?

He's signed 21 tax hikes into law in the last three and a half years.

And the worst of them haven't even gone into effect yet.

And that doesn't count the expiring tax cuts this President has vowed to not renew.

What's the impact? Our growth last quarter was a paltry 2.2%.

Unemployment stuck above 8%. And it doesn't stop there.

The President's sliding backward on health care. You remember his promises on what Obamacare would do:

“Our approach would preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan. It would reduce costs and premiums for millions of families and businesses. … our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades.”

While in reality the cost of Obamacare is rising.

And the cost of your health-care premiums have only gone up since it was passed!

Over two thousand dollars for the average family.

Finally, the President is backward on energy.

Gas was a $1.84 when Obama took office.

Today it's $3.82.

It's more than doubled!

All the while millions of barrels of oil are off-limits in ANWR, off the coasts, in the Gulf of Mexico.

Instead of common-sense solutions like approving the Keystone pipeline, the President throws away hundreds of millions of dollars on green energy failures like Solyndra.

But there is one way the President is very "forward" thinking: the national debt. It's up nearly 47% since the President took office.

He's going to pay for all these programs by pushing the bill forward, onto our children, our grand-children.

But beyond this, there's one more "forward" connection you might not have thought of.

The great leap forward.

China's clever branding for a country trying to make the transition to modern society.

But Mao Zedong's government takeover of farming back in 1958 was disastrous. Millions died.

"Forward" just isn't a good rallying cry.

At least we told you about it.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Student Loan Debt Crisis

by Gerri Willis

President Obama back on the campaign trail today, promoting his plan for the looming student loan debt crisis:

“This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of all who are willing to work for it. That's what makes us special. That's what made us an economic superpower. That's what kept us at the forefront of business and science and technology and medicine. That's a commitment we have to reaffirm today in 2012.”

Student loan debt is a huge problem. It’s now over a trillion dollars, more than credit card or auto loan debt in this country.

But the President's solution?

Extending the super-low federal loan rate: 3.4% interest.

Obama thinks we should spend six billion dollars on a one-year, election-year fix.

This does nothing to address the rising cost of college, which is going up at three times the rate of inflation.

The President's plan just makes it easier to take on a huge amount of government-backed debt, and easier for the colleges to raise prices.

But if we spend more money, do we get better education?

No.

In a landmark study, nearly half of students showed no significant gain in critical thinking or writing skills after two years in school.

How's that for value?

Maybe these students are having trouble finding jobs because they don't have the skills to work.

So where's all this money going?

The University of Missouri’s gym boasts an indoor river and waterfall, surrounded by palm trees.

Looks nice right? But what's the point? Are you going to learn about fluid dynamics? Come on.

What's the lesson here?

Today, schools are in an arms race, building fancy new facilities, vying to win over more students - and their government-backed loans.

It's the new entitlement: Go to a fancy school, goof off, and let Uncle Sam be responsible for the bill.

The rate of students defaulting on their loans has been going up every year since even before the recession hit.

This could be the next debt bomb, and our economy is not equipped to handle it.

Not when eight out of ten student loans are backed by the government.

It's time to hold the students and the schools accountable.

Throwing more tax-payer money at the problem is never the solution.

Obama's 2% Lie

by Gerri Willis

Gas prices shot up 18 cents on average nationwide over the past two weeks, according to the latest Lundberg survey.

That puts the average cost of regular gas at $3.69 a gallon. Of course, many of you around the country are already paying over $4.

President Obama, members of his administration, Democrats in Congress, and his allies on the left all make the same case: we can't "drill our way" out of this problem.

They say we use a quarter of the world's oil, but only have 2% of the world's oil reserves. So, do the math. They say it's impossible, but here's how he gets to that mythical 2%.

For simplicity, we'll call it Obama's big oil lie because that's what it is.

They're only counting proven oil reserves.

The truth is that 2% oil reserves figure is whatever the government says it is.

Here’s the official definition from the non-partisan Congressional Research service.

Proven reserves are: "certainty to be recoverable in future years from known reservoirs under existing economic and operating conditions."

The key word there is "existing" conditions.

The U.S. has around 20 billion barrels in proven reserves, but the amount of undiscovered so called "technically recoverable" oil is over seven times that.

Those are the government's own figures!

And we can get that oil using today's technology. In fact, the U.S. has nearly 1.5 trillion barrels of oil.

That's enough to fuel the present needs in the U.S. for around 250 years, according to the Institute for Energy Research.

Former President of Shell Oil on FBN earlier today on how we could easily get back to producing 10 million barrels a day:

"The best source for new oil is the world's largest consumer economy: this country. We could go back to 10 million barrels if we had the permitting that would enable it to happen. We have the oil. There is more oil in this country that we're not allowed to get at than oil we're allowed to get at.”

But much of the oil is off limits thanks to the policies of this President:

-The outer Continental shelf.

-The Arctic National Wildlife Reserve in Anwar.

-And Shale Oil where the United States has the largest deposits in the world estimated by the government to be over 2 trillion barrels.

Even when the production is not in this country, the President will do anything he can to stop it, like blocking the Keystone pipeline.

Also, what the President is refusing to acknowledge is the United States is in the middle of an oil boom thanks to new technology like deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

So the President needs to stop with the 2% lie.

The solutions are right in front of us, but this administration flatly refuses to explore them.

Politics at the Pump

by Gerri Willis

Five dollars. Get used to seeing that number because that’s how much a regular gallon of gas may soon cost. I'm not talking years from now. I'm talking weeks.

Experts already expect prices to hit the four dollar mark, and then exceed it sometime this summer, or even as early as Memorial Day weekend.

The average price right now stands at $3.52. That’s up 14 cents from just a month ago, and 39 cents a gallon from this time last year!That has a direct impact on your wallet.

Let’s do the math. The average American drives 12,000 miles a year, and the average car gets about 17 miles per gallon.

So, at the current price, that means the average American spends about $2,400 a year on gas. That’s already a lot, but if that price hit's five dollars, the cost skyrockets to $3,500 a year.

The reasons for the spike are many - everything from unrest in the Middle East to maintenance on refineries in this country.

No matter what the cause of the rise in prices, one man will get blamed for it: The President, and I’m not just talking about Obama.

Take a look at this chart from Gallup and the Energy Information Administration:

There is a remarkable correlation between a president's unpopularity and high gasoline prices. Dating all the way back to the Carter Administration.

Not exactly what you want to see in an election year.

But here's the thing. This President in particular should be taking a lot of the blame.

For one, the day President Obama was inaugurated the average price of a gallon of gasoline was $1.84.

If you look at the price today - $3.52 - that's a spike of 90%!

But despite the obvious, the White House maintains they are doing everything they can to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and increase production here at home.

Are they serious?!?

Let’s look at the facts shall we?

In 2010, following the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, this President issued a moratorium on all new oil drilling until further notice.

That lasted six months.

Besides the obvious loss of jobs, wages, and tax revenues, this ban severely hurt U.S. production of oil.

An LSU economist said the losses in output totaled more than $2 billion.

Then, even after the moratorium was lifted in October of 2010, the President continued to delay permits and leases until March of 2011, and it wasn't just in the gulf. He’s also ended the sale of drilling leases off the east coast.

But, perhaps the most glaring example of this president not doing enough for gas prices: not agreeing to the Keystone pipeline that would have carried gas and oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

Instead, he played politics with consumers’ wallets... Again!

One thing this President can claim is a renewed focus on all things green.

From solar plants to wind farms to electric cars, it seems this is all this administration can think about.

But a large amount of the solar companies he gave taxpayer dollars too are either bankrupt or closed completely.

And, those electric cars this President rants and raves about, the cars that are so good the White House needs to bribe people upwards of $10,000 to buy them, the cars that are so good some catch on fire, turns out they're not that great for the environment!

A new study by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville shows these cars are actually responsible for more pollution than gasoline vehicles.

Plus, for those old-fashioned regular cars, the White House has insisted on fuel efficiency standards which the National Automobile Dealers Association argues will add $3,000 to the price of a new car by 2025 pricing a lot of buyers out of the market.

From day one, this President has consistently put policy over people.

His obsession with green cars and companies has cost Americans billions with little to show for it.

Not to mention his refusal to see the evidence right in front of his face.

That's a big reason for our continued pain at the pump, And it's just going to get worse. At least until November...

Winners and Losers of Obama's Budget

by Gerri Willis

Now that we've had some time to digest the President's nearly $4 trillion spending plan – I mean budget - it’s clear there are winners and losers. One of the biggest losers are the so-called wealthy Americans (people making $250,000 and more).

The budget calls for two major tax increases on the well-to-do: One - elimination of the Bush Tax cuts on people with incomes above $250,000. The other would radically change the nation's tax code implementing the so-called "Buffett Rule" taxing incomes above a million dollars at a 30% rate.

Also, estate taxes would return to their 2009 levels - a $3.5 million exemption - down from $5 million now - and a 45% tax rate - up from 35% now. So not only are we taxing these people more, we're taxing them more twice!

Also, tax breaks would be eliminated for major companies, oil and gas companies, hedge fund managers and owners of corporate jets. The list goes on and on. More losers include the Defense Department, which will see a nearly $500 billion cut. The budgets of the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency will be slashed, and the President will continue his attack on NASA cutting their budget by a third of a percent.

To be fair, there are some winners. Spending on roads and highway projects will skyrocket by more than $175 billion by 2018. Two of the three departments Rick Perry was going to cut will actually see their budgets increase, by quite a bit mind you. So, that's the long and short of it, but here's the thing.

These budget projections are based, once again, on some pretty fuzzy math. For one, the President is taking credit for upwards of $850 billion in savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

First of all, he's been claiming these wars have been winding down since his first year in office. Secondly, these wars were never paid for. It was all borrowed money. The top Republican on the Budget Committee Senator Jeff Sessions says: "When you cease to spend the money on the war, it's not as if there's extra money coming into the pot to spend."

So, that money he's directing at transportation projects doesn't actually exist! Also: the Obama Administration's numbers are based on some rosy predictions in the coming years including 4% GDP growth in 2014. But their predictions have never been very accurate.

Last year, the administration built its proposed budget on a projection of 2.7% growth in 2011. It turned out to be 1.7%. And while they're predicting at least 3% growth this year, many experts say it will be closer to 2%. And most of all, this entire budget is a pipe-dream; a campaign platform not an actual plan for our spending and our economy. Why?

Because tax increases are a non-starter. Instead of working with Congressional leadership to craft a consensus budget, he gets to use the bully pulpit and take his wish list on the road.

But that's what it is - all wishes and no reality, which has kind of been the theme of this entire presidency hasn't it?!

Where's the Moral Hazard?

by Gerri Willis

Brace yourself.

There's another homeowner bailout on the horizon.

After months of investigation and negotiation, the nation's Attorneys General (most of them anyway) have agreed to a bailout that may cost as much as $25 billion to be paid for by the nation's largest banks.

And, like all the housing bailout programs before it, it will make the market worse, not better. That's my expectation.

It fails on another count. It's not fair to the millions of homeowners who pay their mortgage each and every month.

More on that in a moment, but here are the basic details of the plan, which are still being worked out... In other words anything can happen.

Number one: it sets aside billions for loan modifications and re-fi’s for people whose mortgage was botched by loan servicers.

Number two: More billions this time as direct payments to homeowners who lost their home, and were hurt by loan servicers. This is what the pros are calling mortage reductions.

Number three: not all the AGs have signed on. Two big players California and New York say the settlement isn't big enough.

Here's what I say. The vast majority of people "harmed" by the bank loan servicing departments were actually simply allowed to stay in their house for free - longer than they might otherwise because they had stopped paying their mortgage.

Harm as a term here is fantasy land.

It's like saying I was hurt by an unexpected windfall of cash... And, look. I understand the banks didn't process their loans correctly (the robo-signing, the document forging) all of that was wrong and in this settlement, the banks are paying for it.

The problem is the "injured" class here got in over their head in debt and is getting away with that error scott free.

Two wrongs here are not making a right.

And the Attorney General plan isn't the only bailout coming.

The President in his State of the Union wants to give homeowners whose homes are underwater $3,000.

Ultimately, his plan is to take that money from mortgage investors.

All of this might make a lot more sense if there had been a program that had actually righted the market.

But none have.

More foreclosures are expected this year than last year.

And the two currently on the table promise to make things worse, not better.

Less than a million homeowners have gotten permanent reductions on mortgage payments under the home affordable mortgage program.

The administration initially projected HAMP would help up to four million stay in their homes.

Housing prices continue to fall - home prices in major markets are down 33% on average from their peak in 2006.

Meanwhile, the national median price has gone nowhere but down.

The new home market continues to falter.

Homes sales are running at a rate of about 4.5 million a year.

There were seven million a year at the top of the market, and a good market is considered six million in sales a year.

Banks aren't going to start writing mortgage loans en masse until they feel like the penalty phase of the mortgage crash is over.

So far, they've been subject to multiple investigations.

Countless hearings have been held on Capitol Hill.

Looming beyond this has been the prospect of a huge expensive settlement, which is what we are seeing today.

Not only will this program likely increase costs for legitimate borrowers as banks seek to pass on costs of the settlement, but all these "free" re-fis and write-downs only means fewer bank personnel available for legitimate loans.

It's time to be realistic.

The housing market is the ultimate too-big-to-bail market.

The government and even the banks don't have pockets deep enough to turn the clock back to 2006. We should stop trying.

Obama's Jobless "Claims"

by Gerri Willis

Everybody's got a complaint when it comes to the Republican field for the Presidential nomination.

Critics say Ron Paul is too soft to lead the country's foreign policy. A turn-the-other-cheek policy in international relations, they say, would devastate our standing in the world.

Others say Rick Santorum is too angry.

Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich critics say he's too much of a Washington insider to be very convincing as the leader of an insurrection that would remake tax policy and refashion entitlement programs.

Mitt Romney is a gaffe a minute. And, a rich elite that can't relate to the rest of the country.

But what about the other side?

What if we evaluated President Obama as Candidate Obama?

Would he be the best choice to lead his party and this country?

Well, let's see, he doesn't have a record of creating jobs.

Of course, he cheered the latest jobs report saying unemployment rate fell to 8.3% - the lowest of his Presidency.

But he won't tell you over a million Americans fell out of the labor market, and the percent of people in the workforce is now at the lowest point in decades.

The biggest decline on record came under Obama.

He won't tell you around 13 million Americans are officially out of work.

And, almost 2 million fewer people are employed since the President signed his signature economic stimulus law, and declared 2010 to be the "summer of recovery."

When it comes to gaffes, well the President has made a few of them.

Today in Virginia he said the economy is "growing stronger" and the "recovery is speeding up"!

Speeding up? Is he joking?

Last year's economic growth was a paltry 1.7%. That's almost half the rate of the previous year.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke just yesterday warned about continued weakness in the economy, and said the outlook for growth is "uncertain" at best.

And the Congressional Budget Office this week said GDP will only do slightly better this year and will slow even more next and unemployment will stay above seven percent through 2015.

As for foreign policy, the President's style is to apologize for being American, and he has weakened America's standing in the world, not strengthened it.

In the years since his famous 'Cairo speech' in the summer of 2009, approval ratings for the U.S. and for the President himself have plunged with some polls giving him an even worse approval rating than President Bush!

Obama has criticized our allies like Israel, and emboldened our enemies like Iran.

So, while Republicans have at least a few decent choices for President, that's a heck of lot better than the Democrats' who have just one awful one.

Don't Fall for the Liberal Smoke Screen

by Gerri Willis

These days it seems politicians are on TV 24-7, which means at one time or another, one of them is going to say something that gets them into trouble.

Like this gem from Mitt Romney:

“I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there, if it needs a repair, I’ll fix it."

It was one brief comment in a long answer on a CNN interview, but boy did his critics pounce.

Ed Schultz of MSNBC said this: "the message there for Mr. Romney is, I think, he feels the country has done enough for the very poor."

And here's what Dana Milbank of the Washington Post said on that same network: "what more could he be doing to please the one percent?"

But here's the thing: He was just trying to make the point that "safety net" tax credits, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, food stamps, etc is 50 percent greater than five years ago!

The overall cost of these programs has tripled since the start of the recession!

Here's the rest of the statement that you may not have heard because the elite media missed it: "...the middle-income Americans, they're the folks that are really struggling right now and they need someone that can help get this economy going for them."

A point many on both sides of the aisle have made.

But that explanation came too little too late for the 24 hour news cycle.

The damage had already been done, but here's the thing.

Whether he meant what he said or not, it's not the point.

We're focusing on the wrong things, people!

What we should be talking about is a question I posed earlier this week: "Are you better off now than four years ago?"

Four years after the recession began, and two and a half years after it ended, real gross domestic product is down more than a thousand dollars per person, and nearly six million fewer Americans are working.

That, too, is according to the Wall Street Journal.

Never before have these indicators still been so low four years after a recession.

In fact, if we did things like we've done after the last ten recessions, GDP per person should be more than 45 hundred dollars higher, and more than 13 and a half million more Americans should be working.

Obviously, the great depression is a different story. The worst economic crisis ever in this country, and while the level of despair during the depression was different from the most recent crisis, the “recovery” is very similar.

As the paper points out, it's not because of the depth of the problem, but the inane government policies following each crash.

In the 1930s, FDR increased spending by more than three and a half percent of GDP, which looking at it now, is peanuts.

President Obama obliterated that number by increasing spending by four and a half percent of GDP.

The two leaders had similarly destructive tax policies: the top individual income tax rate eventually rose to 79 percent under Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover.

Under Obama, the highest marginal tax rate will rise by more than 21 percent by the end of his term.

Instead of focusing on what Mitt Romney did or didn't mean, why don't we focus on the fact: this President and his failed policies have kept this economy from growing for the last four years.

Let's focus on how another four years of this spending spree will only make things worse.

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