Archive for the Congress Category

Ethanol is ruining small engines

Posted in BIG Government, Congress, FAIL, Goin' Green, UGH! on May 5, 2011 by DaMook

The ethanol controversy (more here) is heating up again as the EPA announced a mandate last fall to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline from 10% to 15% (more here). Despite the growing evidence that ethanol costs more, is not really environmentally friendly, drives up the price of food, and is actually ruining engines on vehicles (older than 2007). The ultimate slap in the face is that your tax dollars are being used to ruin your car (more here).

The recent revelation that ethanol ruins small engines (like lawn mowers and weed whackers) has created a niche market for “Boutique Fuel” – pure (no ethanol) gasoline for small engines. Of course, this comes at a pretty stiff premium (story here from Popular Mechanics).

Small-engine repairmen tell PM that ethanol mixed with gasoline is corroding and damaging chain saws, string trimmers and other outdoor equipment at an alarming clip. As a result, a new market is growing in U.S. hardware stores: Ethanol-free gas packaged in small cans that sell at a premium but promise to make your small engines last.

Repairman and small-business owner Rich Herder doesn’t mince words about the damage ethanol in gasoline is doing to the small engines in outdoor power equipment. “It’s the biggest disaster to hit gasoline in my lifetime,” Herder says. He owns McIntyre’s Locksmith & Lawnmower, a service business in Westfield, N.J. Founded in 1898 to refurbish saddles, the business today repairs more than 5000 machines a year—mostly pieces of outdoor power equipment, and many of them, according to Herder, damaged by the alcohol in today’s gasoline, known as E10 for the 10 percent of alcohol it contains.

Herder estimates that as much as 75 percent of that work is not due to normal wear and tear, but results from the use of ethanol, which can cause rust and carbon deposits inside the engine, dissolve plastic parts and more. And if repair shops like Herder’s are already busy, you have to wonder what will happen this summer when gas pumps begin dispensing E15 gasoline; the Environmental Protection Agency recently approved the fuel for cars built after the 2000 model year, but the fuel could hit small engines even harder than E10 does. But now, because of all that ethanol-based wear and tear, a nascent industry is starting up: Ethanol-free gas, distributed in cans for owners of small engines.

Deposits and corrosion aren’t the only reasons alcohol is hard on today’s small engines. The power plants are easily ruined by bad fuel because they lack the sophisticated computer-controlled ignition systems found in today’s cars and trucks. The alcohol can cause the fuel to ignite at the wrong time in the combustion sequence, ruining parts in the process. “The pistons are the first to go,” Herder says. “They look like they’ve been hit with a hammer.” Clearly the time for an alternative has come.

With congress in the pocket of agribusiness and the EPA mandating even more ethanol in fuel, the alternative is Boutique Fuels. Thank you government – BOHICA consumers!

The phenomenon of fuel-related problems has become so severe that the niche market for specialized fuel is growing fast. Tidily packaged little metal cans containing ethanol-free gasoline were just an oddity a few years ago; now they’re sold in hardware stores and by power equipment dealers, and people are taking specialized fuel seriously. There are at least three brands to choose from: MotoMix, from outdoor power equipment manufacturer Stihl USA, SEF from VP Racing Fuels and Truefuel from TruSouth. Of the three, only Stihl relies on an outside-contract chemical manufacturer to make its boutique fuel: Johann Haltermann, Ltd., a company that makes, among other things, precisely blended fuel for testing vehicles. Stihl was likely the first outdoor power equipment company to enter the boutique fuel market when, more than 20 years ago, it was so concerned about fuel quality in Germany that it introduced packaged fuel for its equipment sold in Europe.

The market for these fuels is still so new that there’s no generally recognized name for them. But regardless of whether you call this stuff—boutique fuel, packaged fuel or canned gas—it’s an end run around the gas pump. Sold as straight unleaded gasoline or blended with oil for high-rpm two-cycle engines in chain saws, blowers and string trimmers, it’s expensive stuff, costing anywhere from $5 to $8 per quart. Despite the high price, customers might be willing to pony up if it means seeing an engine or its components run for several trouble-free years rather than seeing the engine destroyed or damaged by ethanol—after all, avoiding just one ruined engine might be worth the cost.

Imagine that – pure gasoline at $20 – $32 a gallon. That works for me. I just love my government so much – BLECH!

Last minute deal averts government “shutdown” – FAIL

Posted in BIG Government, Congress, Economy, FAIL, UGH! on April 10, 2011 by DaMook

Congressional leaders and the regime cut a last minute deal to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year and avoid a government shutdown. With the democrats whining about “extreme” cuts, seniors being starved, and women being denied health care, the spineless republicans scaled back their budget cut proposals. Everyone involved has been patting themselves on the back claiming some sort of victory. BFD.

In a previous post I said that no one was serious about cutting the deficit. In case you were starting to believe the democrat’s “extreme” blather or the republican’s boasts of meaningful spending cuts, here are a couple of stories to bring this political kabuki theater of the absurd into perspective. While our political “leaders” were scrambling to avoid a federal shutdown, the federal government was spending outlandish and obscene amounts of your money (more here from CNSNews).

The federal government spent $142.3 billion on Thursday alone, according to the Daily Treasury Statement released at 4:00 pm on Friday afternoon.This $142.3 billion in spending took place on a day when the White House and congressional leaders were deadlocked over whether to cut between $33 billion and $40 billion in federal spending for the rest of the year.

To fund the $142.3 billion it spent on Thursday, the U.S. Treasury borrowed $132.8 billion during the day by selling new debt instruments—and almost all of these ($129.9 billion) were short-term Treasury bills that mature in one year or less.

By far, the federal government’s top expense on Thursday was paying off old debts that came due and that the government had a legal obligation to meet. During the day, Treasury reports, it paid off $130.75 billion in Treasury securities that had matured.

So in one day the government spent more than 3 times the paltry amount of “extreme” and “meaningful” cuts negotiated by the politicians. And the vast majority of that spending was servicing the debt. Yeah, that will get us out of trouble. This is like someone who makes $50K/yr, spends $90K/yr, and has $350K in debt saying, “Jeez, I need to save some money; I think I’ll skip lunch at McDonalds one day this week.”

And here’s another helpful little factoid (story here from CNSNews).

The federal debt increased $54.1 billion in the eight days preceding the deal made by President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio) to cut $38.5 billion in federal spending for the remainder of fiscal year 2011, which runs through September.The debt was $14.2101 trillion on March 30, according to the Bureau of the Public Debt, and $14.2642 on April 7.

Since the beginning of the fiscal year on Oct. 1, 2010, the national debt has increase by $653.4 billion.

The next political battle will be when congress takes on raising the debt ceiling, which will be reached sometime in the middle of May. Two things you can bet on – the wailing & gnashing of teeth by the democrats and the spineless republicans caving in. They will raise it and the destructive spending will continue.

BOHICA!!

No one is serious about cutting the federal budget

Posted in BIG Government, Congress, Economy, FAIL, Take back America, The Regime on April 4, 2011 by DaMook

This Friday is the deadline for congress to pass another continuing budget resolution to avoid a “shutdown” of the federal government (more here). The republicans are eager to impose budget “cuts” which the regime and the democrats characterize as “extreme” (more here). Of course this absurd political kabuki theater could have been avoided if the previous congress had done their job and passed a budget for 2011. Spineless republicans, who gained control of the House in the last election largely on the promise of fiscal responsibility, initially proposed $100B in spending cuts to the current budget and are now dialing back their proposal after being demonized by democrats and the state-run media. It appears that the magic number to reach a compromise is now around $33B. And just how significant is this figure? This story (from CATO) explains it:

Today the Cato Institute placed an ad in major newspapers highlighting specific spending cuts that policymakers should make to restore our country’s fiscal sanity and economic stability. Our public call for policymakers to demonstrate leadership on spending cuts comes in the midst of the on-going battle on Capitol Hill over funding the government for the remainder of fiscal 2011.

A graphic at the top of the ad measures the $61 billion in cuts that Republicans have proposed against fiscal 2011 estimates for total spending, the deficit, and interest on the debt. As the graphic shows and the ad notes, it is clear that “leaders and members of both parties are in deep denial about the fiscal emergency we face.”

There are news reports that Republican and Democrat negotiators are heading toward a compromise figure of $33 billion in spending cuts. Let’s put that figure in perspective alongside the GOP’s original proposal to cut a whopping $61 billion:

Budget Battle
This is not serious

Record spending levels…trillion dollar plus deficits…mountainous debt…a weak economy…

What, Congress worry?

Kind of puts it into perspective, doesn’t it? And what about that government shutdown? Rep. Mike Pence (R-TX) sums it up nicely (more here):

“…if congress can’t cut $61 billion from the budget, the government should be shut down.”

Here’s a great idea: Shut it down. After all, it doesn’t shut down completely – just “non-essential” services. (Don’t you just love that phrase? If they’re non-essential, why do they exist in the first place?) People will still get their social security, medicare/medicaid, and welfare checks. Taxpayers will still pay their taxes. Better yet, lets give the entire government a 21 month vacation – just keep a skeleton crew in DC. Congress could meet with their constituents, campaign for the 2012 elections, schmooze with lobbyists, whatever; then come back and start fresh in 2013. Twenty one months free of government FAIL – imagine the savings to the taxpayer!

Leading advocate of obamacare – maybe NYC needs a waiver

Posted in BIG Government, Congress, FAIL, Huh? WTF?, The Regime, Thumbs Up! on March 24, 2011 by DaMook
Weener

Weener, Whiner, Whatever

Since Alan Grayson (more here and here) was landslided out of the House of Representatives, perennial runner-up Anthony Weiner (D-NY) has taken over the spot of Top Congressional Moonbat. (More on Weiner here, here, and here.) A passionate proponent of obamacare, Weiner could often be found on the House floor equating opponents of the massive government takeover of the health care system to Nazis, child killers, and the like. With the regime handing out over 1000 waivers to the obamacare boot-to-the-face (more here), it seems that Weiner now thinks that NYC would be better off without this hideous legislation he so passionately promoted (story here from the DC). Huh? WTF?

Rep. Anthony Weiner said Wednesday he was looking into how a health law waiver might work for New York City.

Weiner, who is likely to run for mayor of New York, said that because of the city’s special health care infrastructure, his office was looking into alternatives that might make more sense. Weiner is one of the health care law’s biggest supporters; during the debate leading up to reform, he was one of the last holdouts in Congress for the public option.

The congressman was trying to debunk Republican “myths” about the health care law during a speech at the Center for American Progress. He used the waivers as way to describe how flexible the law actually is and how “this notion that the government is shoving the bill down people’s throats” is not true.

“The administration needs to make this argument more forcefully,” he said. “A lot of people who got waivers were … people who are our friends.”

Oh, I see. Obamacare is wonderful for everyone else – just not you and your “friends.” The irony of this is just too delicious.

Senator “AirClaire” McCaskill – another congressional tax cheat

Posted in Congress, FAIL, Take back America, UGH! on March 23, 2011 by DaMook

Being a member of congress is an important job – you’re “serving the public,” after all. In fact, this job is so important, so all-consuming, that it becomes easy to forget the little things – like paying taxes. Just ask Charlie Rangel or “Skipper” Kerry how difficult it is to comply with tax laws (they wrote) – especially when you spend so much effort to avoid them. So it comes as no surprise that yet another congress member has “forgotten” to pay her taxes. This time on a corporate jet owned by one of her husband’s companies. How much did she “forget” to pay? About $287,000 (story here).

In a conference call with reporters, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill just disclosed that she failed to pay $287,000 in property taxes related to her co-ownership of a private aircraft. This scandal comes quickly on the heels of recent revelations that McCaskill improperly billed taxpayers for use of the same private aircraft, for which McCaskill reimbursed the Treasury $88,000:

In a conference call Monday afternoon, McCaskill revealed that after her own review of the plane’s records, she had not paid personal property taxes on the aircraft over the past four years.

“I have discovered that the personal property taxes on the plane have not been paid.  There should have been a reporting to the county of the existence of this plane.   There are people I could blame for this, but I know better. I take full responsibility,” McCaskill said to reporters, after revealing she had conducted her own audit of all 89 flights she had taken.

This was a mistake, It should have been reported in Missouri.  It will be paid in Missouri today,” she said.

McCaskill said she would be sending a check for $287,273 to St. Louis County Monday for the back taxes she owed between 2007 and 2010.

It was a mistake and she could have blamed others but she didn’t. OK Claire, but what about this little detail?

Claire McCaskill registered her plane in Delaware, where no taxes are imposed. Then she moved the plane to Illinois, where she avoided paying taxes before she moved it to Missouri, where she ignored paying her taxes.

Oh yeah, then there’s this minor irritation as well.

Last week, McCaskill reimbursed the Treasury Department more than $88,000 after POLITICO reported she had used taxpayer dollars from her Senate office account to pay for nearly 90 flights on a private charter plane co-owned by McCaskill, her husband and other investors.

The purpose of one of the trips billed to taxpayers – a roundtrip flight between St. Louis and Hannibal in 2007 – was purely political in nature, a violation of Senate ethics rules.

McCaskill said that trip was charged to her office only by “accident.” But the Missouri Republican Party pounced — filing a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee this week.

McCaskill, who now faces an even more treacherous path to reelection in 2012, said the complaint is plainly “more about politics than it is ethics at this point.”

Ah yes, it was an “accident” and now the whole thing is “more about politics.” Let’s see if I got this straight:

  • Husband’s company buys & registers corporate jet in Delaware – no taxes owed.
  • Senator McCaskill (D-MO) uses jet and bills taxpayers – not bad, get the taxpayers to pay you for use of your jet.
  • Ooops – senator gets caught and reimburses taxpayers $88,000 for improper use of jet.
  • Jet ultimately ends up in Missouri where taxes are due but are “forgotten.”
  • Ooops – senator gets caught and reimburses taxpayers $287,000 in forgotten taxes.

Yeah, looks like it’s all politics to me. McCaskill is up for re-election in 2012. The citizens of Missouri deserve better than this.

Stop calling it Obamacare!

Posted in BIG Government, Congress, Culture, The Regime, Thumbs Up! on February 20, 2011 by DaMook

For over two years the massive government takeover of the health care industry, passed against the will of the people, has been known as “Obamacare.” Politicians, pundits, news media, bloggers – for and against, have used this term. After all, who wants to call it The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), when one word is sufficient? And wasn’t this massive, economy-killing boot-to-the-face a shining legislative victory for our dear comrade leader and the democrats? It should have an appropriate moniker.

According to this story (from The Hill), at least one democrat now believes that the term is somehow “divisive” and shouldn’t be used.

House Republicans and Democrats started Friday morning’s debate over whether to defund last year’s healthcare law, and as part of this debate sparred over whether members should be allowed to call that law “ObamaCare.”

After two House Republicans called it “ObamaCare,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) asked the chairman whether these “disparaging” remarks should be allowed on the House floor.

“That is a disparaging reference to the president of the United States; it is meant as a disparaging reference to the president of the United States, and it is clearly in violation of the House rules against that,” she said.

Because Wasserman Schultz only asked if it would be appropriate to curb the use of the term “ObamaCare,” the chairman said he would not rule on a hypothetical. But he did urge members to “refrain from engaging in personalities or descriptions about personalities in general.”

Hey Debbie, if this is such a good piece of legislation, how can it be disparaging to call it Obamacare? You would think the dear comrade would want his name attached  to it. And where have you been for the last two years while everyone has been calling it Obamacare?

The indirect warning had no effect on Republicans. Rep. Denny Rehberg (Mont.), who sponsored the amendment to defund the law, said he refers to it as ObamaCare and said, “You would think he wants his name attached to his signature legislation.

“So we call it what it is,” he continued. “It is ObamaCare. It’s a travesty. It is big government. It is not controlling healthcare costs, and it needs to be repealed and today we’re going to try to defund it to the best of our ability. And if we’re not successful this time, we’re going to try again and again and again until we either have a Senate that’s willing to pass it or a president that understands that we cannot do this to the American people.”

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) followed Rehberg, and within minutes also called the law “ObamaCare.”

It is what it is…

Dear comrade to propose even more deficit spending

Posted in BIG Government, Congress, Economy, FAIL, The Regime on January 24, 2011 by DaMook

roulette wheelImagine this scenario: You get a brilliant idea that you can beat the odds in Las Vegas. You mortgage your home to the hilt, empty your savings accounts and your kid’s piggybank and drop it all on a single roll of the roulette wheel. Naturally, you lose everything. So, what now? Well, being broke you don’t have a lot of options. But if you’re a bureaucrat and you’re playing with someone else’s money, the answer is simple – double down. That’s essentially what our dear comrade leader will be suggesting in his upcoming State Of The Union (SOTU) speech. Because he’s, you know, focused like a laser on the economy (story here from the WSJ).

President Barack Obama will call for new government spending on infrastructure, education and research in his State of the Union address Tuesday, sharpening his response to Republicans in Congress who are demanding deep budget cuts, people familiar with the speech said.

Mr. Obama will argue that the U.S., even while trying to reduce its budget deficit, must make targeted investments to foster job growth and boost U.S. competitiveness in the world economy. The new spending could include initiatives aimed at building the renewable-energy sector—which received billions of dollars in stimulus funding—and rebuilding roads to improve transportation, people familiar with the matter said. Money to restructure the No Child Left Behind law’s testing mandates and institute more competitive grants also could be included.

“Targeted investments.” Isn’t that what his mega-“stimulus” was supposed to do? It’s clear now that the “stimulus” only stimulated trillions of new debt and was a total FAIL. It’s clear that the government only created government jobs while killing private sector employment. The regime’s economic “geniuses” predicted that unemployment would be around 7% right now, yet it continues to hover around 9.5% – higher than they predicted it would be without “stimulus.” With the national debt breaching $14T there’s nothing left to spend.

It is also anticipated that the dear comrade will propose “significant” budget cuts. We’ll just have to wait for the details to see how serious he is about this. I have my doubts.

While proposing new spending, Mr. Obama also will lay out significant budget cuts elsewhere, people familiar with the plans say, though they will likely fall short of what Republican lawmakers have requested.

In arguing that U.S. competitiveness is at stake, Mr. Obama plans to use his nationally televised speech to try to frame the spending debate with Republicans that is expected to dominate Congress in the coming months. “We seek to do everything we can to spur hiring and ensure our nation can compete with anybody on the planet,” Mr. Obama said Friday after touring a General Electric Co. plant in Schenectady, N.Y. He cited clean-energy manufacturing, infrastructure and education as keys to competitiveness.

Previewing the expected theme of his speech, Mr. Obama on Friday appointed GE Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt to lead a new President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Commenting on the new advisory panel, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said that unless its “first recommendations are to reverse the damage the policies of the last two years have done to the business climate, job creation and the exploding national debt, I fear it will do more to create good public relations for the White House than good jobs for struggling Americans.”

Republicans are casting the White House’s pivot toward competitiveness as an excuse for bigger government and more spending. They say a surge in federal spending and a $1.3 trillion budget deficit are impeding job creation, and dramatic spending cuts are needed immediately.

While House republicans are calling for $100B in spending cuts this year, I hold no hope that they have the guts to do what really needs to be done. Cutting $100B from a $4T budget (with $1.3T in deficit spending) is not significant. That’s 2.5% – pretty much a rounding error. It’s like trying to use a band aid when you really need a tourniquet.

UPDATE: I found this post over at Powerline pretty interesting. The graphic clearly shows the effects of massive government “stimulus” on job growth.

Yet if there is one thing we know with an empirical certainty, it is that increasing federal spending will not, on balance, create more jobs. Of course, whenever the government spends money someone is employed, or, at least, gets to cash a check. This is what Obama had in mind when he said–in a moment of supreme cluelessness–“spending equals stimulus.” What Obama apparently does not understand is that government spending consumes resources, often inefficiently, that could better be used elsewhere. Whenever the government wastes resources, the country grows poorer and job growth is suppressed. This, in crude terms, is why the ballooning public expenditures of recent years have not caused a boom in the job market.

Jobs vs spendingIt is blindingly obvious that spending does not equal stimulus, and increasing federal spending will not create jobs. There are two possibilities here. One is that Obama is one of the last people in America who have not figured this out. The other is that Obama knows his proposals are dumb, from an economic standpoint, but doesn’t care. The one thing that more government spending will accomplish is to slide more money to Barack Obama’s cronies and to various constituencies of the Democratic Party. Maybe that is all Obama ever wanted.

Good points.