Posts Tagged ‘Waste’
Boomtown 2: The Business Of Food Stamps
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For the Left, this is all part of the Cloward-Piven strategy to overwhelm the system with impossible demands, bringing about an inevitable collapse that will set the stage for a Communist revolution.
For corporations vying for their turn at the taxpayer trough, this is a dance with the devil…and they don’t even realize it.
“Boomtown 1: Washington, The Imperial City” exposed the cronyism and luxurious lifestyle of Washington, DC’s power elite. On Friday “Boomtown 2: The Business of Food Stamps” Government Accountability Institute (GAI) President Peter Schweizer and Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon exposed how politicians and corporations have used the country’s food stamps program to profit on the backs of tax payers.
Though the food stamps program was always meant to be a “safety net” to provide temporary assistance, Schweizer pointed out that it has “become an insider game of power and profit” for corporations who are attempting to get a slice of the $75 billiion provided by the taxpayers.
[...] The GAI president points out that the food stamps program was intended to provide basic foods, but has grown to include all types of things including soft drinks and fast food. We have also pointed out that the food stamps program has been used to purchase guns, drugs and pay for strippers and massage parlors, not to mention that the USDA has targeted illegal aliens for the program.
The fraud of the food stamps program has grown since EBT cards were issued in 2002, which gave no reason for either government or corporations to look to reform the system or limit the fraud.
The Obama administration is proudly shattering welfare records with an astonishing number of people collecting public benefits long term, especially food stamps.
In fact, as I discussed in a special to be aired on Hannity tonight, Obama and his friends have actually found a way to meld corporate cronyism with food stamp abuse to line their pockets while undermining our election systems at the same time.
Under Obama, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, has exploded with a record number of people – 46 million and growing – getting free groceries from the American taxpayer. Adding insult to injury, a federal audit revealed last year that many who don’t qualify for food stamps now receive them under a new “broad-based” eligibility program that disregards income and asset requirements.
Obama says the food stamp extension is part of his intention to eradicate “food insecure households.” However, it’s really part of a massive redistribution of wealth. Last year, taxpayers were forced to pay more than $80 billion, including an estimated $750 million a year in outright fraud.
[...] According to the study, the current food stamp Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card industry is dominated by three main players: J.P. Morgan Electronic Financial Services, Affiliated Computer Services, and eFunds. Together they collect money from 49 states and three territories. In fact, since 2004, 18 of 24 states that contract with J.P. Morgan have paid more than $560 million to the financial monolith.
There is little wonder then that those three companies appear to be perfectly content with the exploding food stamp rolls – and wholly unconcerned about rampant fraud and abuse. As the GAI study observed, “The more persons enrolled in the program, the more money the EBT industry makes.” That may also help explain why, when the state of Florida initiated an eight-month program to detect and prevent fraud among its three million EBT card users, J.P. Morgan saw fit to assign just one employee to the program.
And then there is this: During the 2008 election, Barack Obama received more than $800,000 from J.P. Morgan alone. After his election, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, initiated by Obama and passed by a compliant Congress, made two major changes to existing food stamp policies. First, it increased benefits by 13.6 percent. Second, it actively encouraged states to add more recipients to their food stamp rolls.
And the corporate cronyism and political payoffs don’t end there. The House and Senate Agricultural Committees have jurisdiction over all food assistance and distribution programs, including the food stamp program. So, just as one might expect, analysis by the GAI uncovered a clear trend of increasing contributions to Agriculture Committee members of both the House and Senate on the part of J.P. Morgan that clearly coincides with their entry into the lucrative EBT card, food stamp market.
Between 1998 and 2002, JP Morgan’s total contributions per election cycle averaged $82,897. After the bank entered the EBT services market until the 2010 election cycle, their average donation per cycle more than doubled to $215,120. And the Agriculture Committees, in turn, have broadly expanded the number of food stamp recipients.
Of course, the more recipients that are added to the food stamp rolls, the more voters Obama can count on at election time. And the offshoots of Obama’s former client and campaign partner ACORN not only assure that those voters are registered but also that they know to whom they are beholden for their government handouts.
The foundation for the housing crisis was laid with the Community Reinvestment Act in 1977, where the government took it upon itself to encourage home ownership by pressuring banks to lend to lower-income buyers, often to meet arbitrary racial quotas. Obviously they haven’t learned a thing from where that got us.
Would it surprise anyone to learn that as a lawyer, Obama sued banks to force them to issue subprime loans? He also worked for ACORN, which specialized in using the Community Reinvestment Act to shake down banks and pressure them to loan money to low-income minorities or face “discrimination” charges.
According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration is pushing big banks to make more home loans available to Americans with bad credit – the same kind of government guidance that helped blow up the housing market:
In response, administration officials say they are working to get banks to lend to a wider range of borrowers by taking advantage of taxpayer-backed programs — including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration — that insure home loans against default.
Housing officials are urging the Justice Department to provide assurances to banks, which have become increasingly cautious, that they will not face legal or financial recriminations if they make loans to riskier borrowers who meet government standards but later default.
Think about this statement. The administration is asking banks – banks that Washington bails out; banks that Washington crafts regulations for — to embrace risky policies that put the institution and its investors (not to mention, all of us) in a precarious position. So precarious, in fact, that banks have to ask government if they can be freed of any legal or financial consequences.
What could possibly go wrong?
These types of government policies initially emerged the mid-1970s, when “progressive” Democrats in Congress began a campaign to help low-income minorities become homeowners. This led to the passage, in 1977, of theCommunity Reinvestment Act (CRA), a mandate for banks to make special efforts to seek out and lend to borrowers of meager means. Founded on the premise that government intervention is necessary to counteract the fundamentally racist and inequitable nature of American society and the free market, the CRA was eventually transformed from an outreach effort into a strict quota system by the Clinton administration. Under the new arrangement, if a bank failed to meet its quota for loans to low-income minorities, it ran the risk of getting a low CRA rating from the FDIC. This, in turn, could derail the bank’s efforts to expand, relocate, merge, etc. From a practical standpoint, then, banks had no recourse but to drastically lower their standards on down-payments and underwriting, and to approve many loans even to borrowers with weak credit credentials. As Hoover Institution Fellow Thomas Sowell explains, this led to “skyrocketing rates of mortgage delinquencies and defaults,” and the rest is history.
The CRA was by no means the only mechanism designed by government to impose lending quotas on financial institutions. For instance, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) developed rules encouraging lenders to dramatically hike their loan-approval rates for minority applicants and began bringing legal actions against mortgage bankers who failed to do so, regardless of the reason. This, too, caused lenders to lower their down-payment and income requirements.
Moreover, HUD pressured the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two largest sources of housing finance in the United States, to earmark a steeply rising number of their own loans for low-income borrowers. Many of these were subprime mortgages—loans characterized by higher interest rates and less favorable terms in order to compensate lenders for the high credit risk they were incurring.
Additional pressure toward this end was applied by community organizations like the pro-socialist ACORN. By accusing banks—however frivolously or unjustly—of having engaged in racially discriminatory lending practices that violated the mandates of the CRA, these groups commonly sued banks toprevent them from expanding or merging as they wished. Barack Obama, ACORN’s staunch ally, was strongly in favor of this practice. Indeed, in a 1994 class-action lawsuit against Citibank, Obama represented ACORN in demanding more favorable terms for subprime homebuyer mortgages. After four years of being dragged through the mud, a beleaguered Citibank—anxious to put an end to the incessant smears (charging racism) that Obama and his fellow litigators were hurling in its direction (to say nothing of its mounting legal bills)—agreed to settle the case.
Forbes magazine puts it bluntly: “Obama has been a staunch supporter of the CRA throughout his public life.” In other words, he has long advocated the very policies that already have reduced the real-estate market to rubble. And now he is actively pushing those very same practices again.
Obama Proclaims April ‘Financial Capability Month,’ Plans To Teach Young People ‘How to Budget Responsibly’
You can’t make this stuff up! And no, it wasn’t an April Fools joke!
President Barack Obama, who has increased the national debt by $53,377 per household, has proclaimed April“National Financial Capability Month,” during which his administration will do things such as teach young people “how to budget responsibly.”
“I call upon all Americans to observe this month with programs and activities to improve their understanding of financial principles and practices,” Obama said in an official proclamation released Friday.
[...] The proclamation on the White House website links to two other government websites: the site for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and MyMoney.gov, which includes materials from 21 federal agencies.
Listed among the “popular topics” on MyMoney.gov is “Managing Debt and Credit,” which includes a link to a page on the Federal Reserve’s website called “Getting the most from your credit card.” Tip 2 on that page is: “Stay Below Your Credit Limit.”
When Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009, the total debt of the federal government was $10,626,877,048,913.08. As of the close of business on March 28, 2013, the total debt of the federal government was $16,766,988,432,792.62—an increase of $6,140,111,383,879.54 since Obama took office.
That means that under Obama the federal debt has increased $53,377 for each one of the 115,031,000 households the Census Bureau says there are now in the United States. The president is required by law to submit a budget proposal for the next fiscal year by the first Monday in February.
Thus far, Obama has not submitted his budget proposal for fiscal 2014.
It’s the liberal way to perceive yourself as diametrically opposed to what and who you actually are. Therefore, Barack Obama being a financially incapable liberal is precisely the reason why the man who has yet to submit a budget proposal for 2014 feels he’s qualified to teach young people “how to budget responsibly.”
What’s next, Bill and Hillary Clinton running a Marital Cohesiveness and Fidelity Seminar? How about first daughters Sasha and Malia, who took not one but two spring break vacations, sharing with the younger set how to spend a week at the Atlantis in the Bahamas and River Run in Sun Valley, Idaho on a limited budget? Sorry, but if Barack Obama is financially capable, then outgoing MSNBC host Ed Schultz is qualified to host a new “Eradicate Bias in the Media” show.
Then again, this is the president who is expert at exempting himself from what he insists others do. That is why a person who clearly has no understanding of sound financial principles can say with a straight face: “I call upon all Americans to observe this month with programs and activities to improve their understanding of financial principles and practices.”
Wait! When Obama says “all Americans” does “all” include himself and the $10 million dollar vacationer he’s married to, or does “all” just mean everybody except Mr. and Mrs. Obama?
Either way, the president must truly believe that he’s an authority on stretching a dollar, because in his “National Financial Capability Month” proclamation, he said that his “[a]dministration is dedicated to helping people make sound decisions in the marketplace.” That marketplace, by the way, is the same marketplace that he’s currently in the process of destroying. It could be that President Obama thinks that the soundest way to save money in the marketplace is to exchange the marketplace for something altogether different.
Cyprus is only the first domino.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has struck a deal with the European Union and International Monetary Fund that will seize up to 40% of uninsured funds from wealthier depositors with over 100,000 euros and will not siphon funds from those below that amount.
The 10 billion euros ($13 billion) bailout plan calls for the Cyprus Popular Bank to be dissolved and all its viable assets transferred to the country’s biggest bank, Bank of Cyprus.
Presently, Cypriot banks have imposed a 100 euros ATM withdraw limit, and Cyprus border officials at air and sea ports have been ordered to confiscate the funds of any traveler attempting to leave with over 10,000 euros.
How dare they try to keep the money they worked so hard for and saved AFTER taxes were already paid on it? Don’t they know that private property is an illusion under Socialism? That the government is free to spend as irresponsibly as it wants, and can steal your money at will to pay the tab? That’s what they’ve been voting for all this time, right? Or didn’t they realize it?
Understandably, Cypriots are desperately trying to get their money out, but it’s too late:
The president of Cyprus assured his people a bailout deal he struck with the European Union was in their best interests, but banks will remain closed until Thursday – and even then subject to capital controls to prevent a run on deposits.
The ruling class insists that stealing money out of their bank accounts is “in their best interests.” Doesn’t that make them feel better? They’ll be patriotic and happy to “share the sacrifice” for the greater good, right? Of course not!
Tyler Durden reports that there is a “Cash Exodus From Cyprus Surges Despite Bank Closures, Capital Controls“:
From FAZ, google translation edited:
Despite the closed banks and a lock for payments in the past week, more money flowed out of Cyprus than in previous weeks, Frankfurter experts report for payments. Prior to the escalation of the crisis in Cyprus accruing on the payment system Target liabilities of Cypriot central bank to the European Central Bank (ECB) had increased daily at approximately 100 to 200 million euros. In recent days was after Parliament the stabilization program initially had to fail, the daily has risen to more than double. Just in the last week so could cash assets have been withdrawn from Cyprus in the billions, although the Cypriot central bank has actually issued a lock.
How is it possible that cash is leaving the country even with a bank halt? It isn’t, unless of course, the banks aren’t really halted, and some outbound wire transfers, which are permitted, are more equal than other wire transfers which are stuck on the island. Of course, that would imply an “Europe Farm” type of arrangement, which in the bastion of fairness, equality and honesty which is Europe, would be absolutely impossible.
On the other hand, if indeed the drain of the Cypriot banking system has continued despite all the enacted halts during the past week, then it’s game over for Cyprus, which will soon have only the ECB to thank for providing liquidity, an arrangement that may not be the best long-term outcome for a nation whose economy has basically been gutted in the span of one week.
It also means game over for the bailout as envisioned, as the EUR17 billion is history, and much more cash will have to be injected to cover for the stealth outflows.
Cyprus won’t be the only one affected, of course. An unusually honest Eurozone official has made it clear that the EU will use the same confiscation tactics as Cyprus if things get worse (which of course they will):
Savings accounts in Spain, Italy and other European countries will be raided if needed to preserve Europe’s single currency by propping up failing banks, a senior eurozone official has announced.
The new policy will alarm hundreds of thousands of British expatriates who live and have transferred their savings, proceeds from house sales and other assets to eurozone bank accounts in countries such as France, Spain and Italy.
The euro fell on global markets after Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch chairman of the eurozone, told the FT and Reuters that the heavy losses inflicted on depositors in Cyprus would be the template for future banking crises across Europe.
Dijsselbloem tried to retract the statement after investors started panicking, but the damage is already done. Now the cat is out of the bag:
Translation: it now officially sucks to be an unsecured creditor in Europe. In other words: an uninsured depositor.
Why this ad hoc dramatic shift in the European approach to bank solvency, which if anything makes the link between bank and sovereign closer than ever, and crushes all that Draghi achieved in the summer of 2012?
Simple: because what Cyprus allowed was the effective usurpation of democracy - the only reason the Cypriot bailout “passed” (at least so far) is because it was structured as a bank restructuring, a financial system “resolution”, not a tax,and thus not in need of a parliamentary, democratic vote. Because as Cyprus also showed, votes to deprive depositors of cash, whether insured or uninsured, simply won’t fly.
Hence the shift.
However, there is a problem: it means that depositors are now fair game everywhere, and that the ESM or EFSF, with their unlimited scope but “democratic” impleention pathway, are on the backburner.
And now, the scramble to pull uninsured deposits out of banks everywhere begins. Thanks to the new Eurogroup head.
“You ask for miracles, Theo. I give you Diesel-BOOM”
And now, every European depositor is going to their local financial dictionary to look up the definition of General Unsecured Claims, only to see a picture of… themselves.
Simon Black at Sovereign Man blog tells readers to “Expect These Eight Steps From The Government’s Playbook“:
To anyone paying attention, reality is now painfully obvious. These bankrupt, insolvent governments have just about run out of fingers to plug the dikes. And history shows that, once this happens, governments fall back on a very limited playbook:
As Cyprus showed us, bankrupt governments are quite happy to plunder people’s bank accounts, especially if it’s a wealthy minority.
Aside from bank levies, though, this also includes things like seizing retirement accounts (Argentina), increases in civil asset forfeiture (United States), and gold criminalization.
Just another form of confiscation, taxation plunders the hard work and talent of the citizenry. But thanks to decades of brainwashing, it’s more socially acceptable. We’ve come to regard taxes as a ‘necessary evil,’ not realizing that the country existed for decades, even centuries, without an income tax.
Yet when bankrupt governments get desperate enough, they begin imposing new taxes… primarily WEALTH taxes (Argentina) or windfall profits taxes (United States in the 1970s).
This is indirect confiscation– the slow, gradual plundering of people’s savings. Again, governments have been quite successful at inculcating a belief that inflation is also a necessary evil. They’re also adept at fooling people with phony inflation statistics.
Governments can, do, and will restrict the free-flow of capital across borders. They’ll prevent you from moving your own money to a safer jurisdiction, forcing you to keep your hard earned savings at home where it can be plundered and devalued.
We’re seeing this everywhere in the developed world… from withdrawal limits in Europe to cash-sniffing dogs at border checkpoints. And it certainly doesn’t help when everyone from the IMF to Nobel laureate Paul Krugman argue in favor of Capital Controls.
Wage and Price controls
When even the lowest common denominator in society realizes that prices are getting higher, governments step in and ‘fix’ things by imposing price controls.
Occasionally this also includes wage controls… though wage increases tend to be vastly outpaced by price increases.
Of course, as any basic economics textbook can illustrate, price controls never work and typically lead to shortages and massive misallocations.
Wage and Price controls– on STEROIDS
When the first round of price controls don’t work, the next step is to impose severe penalties for not abiding by the terms.
In the days of Diocletian’s Edict on Prices in the 4th century AD, any Roman caught violating the price controls was put to death.
In post-revolutionary France, shopkeepers who violated the “Law of Maximum” were fleeced of their private property… and a national spy system was put into place to enforce the measures.
Despite being completely broke, governments will dramatically expand their ranks in a last desperate gasp to envelop the problem in sheer size.
In the early 1920s, for example, the number of bureaucratic officials in the Weimar Republic increased 242%, even though the country was flat broke from its Great War reparation payments and hyperinflation episode.
The increase in both regulations and government officials criminalizes and/or controls almost every aspect of our existence… from what we can/cannot put in our bodies to how we are allowed to raise our own children.
War and National Emergency
When all else fails, just invade another country. Pick a fight. Keep people distracted by work them into a frenzy over men in caves… or some completely irrelevant island.
Why do we have such massive deficits? Because if the government actually tried to collect the amount it needs to cover its current spending levels and unfunded liabilities, it would trigger a revolt – and that’s not a metaphor.
The truth is that our politicians have been very careful in their labeling of government receipts and payments so as to keep most of the coming bills associated with ‘Take As You Go’ off the books. Consider, for example, Uncle Sam’s promises to pay me my Social Security and Medicare benefits starting in roughly 10 years. The present value (the value in the present) of these promises is $400,000. How does this differ from my holding a Treasury bond valued at $400,000?
Fundamentally, it differs not at all, which means that the government has a lot more debt than it’s reporting.
How much more?
I’m not sure you want to know. I recently calculated the fiscal gap using the CBO’s AFS forecast. The fiscal gap measures the present value difference between all projected future federal expenditures (including servicing official debt) and all projected future taxes. The fiscal gap is thus the true measure of our government’s total indebtedness and the true measure of fiscal sustainability.
How big is the fiscal gap?
Brace yourself. It’s $222 trillion large! In comparison, official debt in the public’s hands is only $11 trillion.
Here’s one way to wrap your head around our $222 trillion fiscal hole: closing it via tax hikes would require an immediate and permanent 64 percent increase in all federal taxes. Alternatively, the government could cut all transfer payments, e.g., Social Security benefits, and discretionary federal expenditures, e.g., defense expenditures, by 40 percent. Waiting to raise taxes or cut spending makes these figures worse.
In short, our government is totally broke. And it’s not broke in 30 years or in 20 years or in 10 years. It’s broke today.
How do we know that a dollar bust is upcoming? The interest we pay on our national debt indicates our future. The interest the United States pays on its debt is now above $350 billion per year. Because more than 43 cents of every dollar the United States spends is now borrowed — and plans are in place to add about a trillion dollars more in debt each year — the interest payment on U.S. debt is expected to climb to a trillion dollars per year in 2017.
In other words, in four years, the interest on the debt will consume almost half of all revenue that the government collects, and each year after that it will get progressively worse — until it consumes all revenues.
As the interest on the debt grows, we won’t be able to borrow enough to pay our bills, and the government will have to either simply print more money to pay up or default. It will likely at least try printing money, and this is when inflation will zoom atmospherically. Even Ben Bernanke, the head of the Federal Reserve, acknowledged this scenario last year.
The chance that the United States will avoid this path in our near future is infinitesimal, but there is a chance. An unexpected business boom could spare us — socialist Norway stays solvent via exploiting oil revenues, and the United States has some of the biggest oil reserves in the world — or a massive downsizing of government could spark a boom — as happened during the Harding administration and at the end of WWII— but there’s little chance of either happening.
The government is issuing smothering business regulations and taxes, and the government will likely run higher debts than projected, not lower.
Debts will likely be higher for many reasons: Not only did the administration fight the minuscule sequester cuts tooth and nail,ObamaCare is much more expensive than promised and will only reduce costs if the death panel lives down to its name, as well as devastating the small businesses that most influence employment. Also, year-in and year-out, Congressional Budget Office figures used to project future tax revenues have predicted a rapidly growing economy and been consistently wrong; the federal flood insurance fund is empty; the Social Security Disability fund is almost empty; etc.
The great majority of U.S. spending is claimed to promote “fairness,” while critics have argued that it is immoral for Baby Boomers — the group mainly responsible for electing political spendthrifts — to heap devastating debt on their children and grandchildren. Ironically, the imminent demise of the dollar has accelerated to where the dollar will almost certainly crash during most Boomers’ lifetimes, so they will have to suffer along with their offspring.
I guess that’s fair.
I’ve heard some liberals excuse Obama’s frequent vacations by saying “Reagan and Bush used to go back to their ranches all the time.” Exactly. Those ranches were their own private property, and the only expense was security. No hotel bills, no lavish parties, no celebrity entertainment, no room service.
The Obamas, on the other hand, choose to vacation in the most expensive accommodations at the most exotic destinations that have NOTHING to do with building foreign relations.
Daniel Halper at the Weekly Standard points out that the first family’s pricey excursions average about once a month:
In the first three months of the year, members of the first family have been on three vacations, averaging a vacation a month. And now it’s being reported that the first daughters are on a spring break vacation in the Bahamas.
The Obamas began the new year in Hawaii. “President Obama departed Hawaii this morning for Washington, after spending NINE days vacationing with family and friends in his native state. Here’s a quick look at how he spent his vacation,” ABC reported on January 6, 2013.
[...] Then the first lady and their daughters vacationed in Aspen over President’s Day weekend. “First Lady Michelle Obama arrived in Aspen on Friday afternoon and is here with her daughters for a ski vacation,” Aspendailynews.com reported in February. “Few details about her trip were available. Sources said she is staying at the home of Jim and Paula Crown, owners of the Aspen Skiing Co. She is reportedly skiing at Buttermilk today, where the Crowns, of Chicago, own a home on the Tiehack side.”
While the rest of the family was in Colorado, Obama went to Florida for a golf weekend. [...]
For spring break, Michelle and the girls kicked back at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas…at a time when millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet (thanks to her husband’s policies) and White House tours have been cancelled supposedly due to sequestration:
Even First Daughters Sasha and Malia need a break — a spring break, to be exact — from the White House every once in a while. The sisters and mom Michelle escaped the cold wintry weather of Washington, D.C. in favor of sun and surf in the Bahamas on a recent trip, a source tells Us Weekly exclusively.
The siblings made the most of their vacation at the Reef Atlantis, the source says. In addition to soaking up the sun at the family-friendly cabanas and swimming with dolphins, Sasha, 11, and Malia, 14, also got the chance to dance the night away at CRUSH, Atlantis’ teen club, on Sunday, March 24.
How many children could have gotten to see “the People’s House” this spring break for the cost of the First family’s swanky vacation?
Too bad we can’t afford a vacation this year. We’re too busy busting our butts and paying taxes so the ruling class can go instead.
It’s not a “tax.” It is government stealing money directly out of people’s bank accounts – money that was deposited AFTER taxes were already paid on it.
Socialism = theft, pure and simple. Christians who support Socialism need to go back study what the Bible has to say about debt, envy, and theft!
An 11th-hour deal with the EU, which has saved the Cypriot economy from the brink, will see investors with more than €100,000 in the nation’s largest banks forfeit a large chunk of their deposits.
The punishing deal – which has been approved by the eurozone finance ministers – will allow the country to receive the €10bn (£8.5bn) bailout it needed before the European Central Bank pulled funding and sent the island on the path to bankruptcy and a possible exit from the single currency.
Under the new agreement, all bank deposits under €100,000 will be secured and guaranteed by the state. The country’s second-biggest bank, The Popular Bank of Cyprus – known as Laiki – will be wound down whilst holders of deposits of more than €100,000 face big losses.
Four years of stalling on a budget (which is required annually, per the constitution), and THIS is the best they can come up with?
An exhausted Senate gave pre-dawn approval Saturday to a Democratic $3.7 trillion budget for next year that embraces nearly $1 trillion in tax increases over the coming decade but shelters domestic programs targeted for cuts by House Republicans.
While their victory was by a razor-thin 50-49 vote, it allowed Democrats to tout their priorities. Yet it doesn’t resolve the deep differences the two parties have over deficits and the size of government.
Joining all Republicans voting no were four Democrats who face re-election next year in potentially difficult races: Sens. Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., did not vote.
So what made them finally decide to pass a budget? Arnold Ahlert has a theory:
The impetus for passing a budget for the first time in four years was likely the passage of the “No Budget, No Pay” bill which suspended the current debt limit until May 18th, so the federal government could continue to pay its bills. One of the bill’s provisions prohibits legislators from getting paid if Congress doesn’t pass a budget by April 15. Salaries will either be held in escrow until they do, or resume being paid in January 15, when the current congressional session ends.
Considering the vast differences between this legislation and the House budget passed last Thursday that brings the budget into balance by 2023, but changes the nature of entitlement programs in ways completely anathema to Democrats, it is virtually certain that no budget will be reconciled before the debt ceiling showdown. On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) revived a rule ignored in January, stating that any increase in the debt ceiling must be accompanied by commensurate spending cuts.
Yet even leaving that rule aside, passing a budget by May 18 is still overly optimistic. Thus, the House also passed a continuing resolution to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, which lasts through September. The Senate approved that resolution, and it is expected that the president will sign it once he gets back from his trip to Israel.
In other words, the more things seemingly change, the more they remain the same: barring a miraculous spasm of bipartisanship, government will likely be funded piecemeal–and our unsustainable fiscal trajectory will remain unaltered.
Did you watch the news tonight? According to the Obamamedia, the sequester has “forced” the FAA to close 149 air traffic towers.
Of course, there’s apparently still enough money to give $200 million to Jordan, to send Vice President Biden to Paris at a cost of $585,000 a night, and to pay federal benefits to descendants of Civil War veterans long dead.
Just not to pay for pilot and passenger safety in the skies. Or training our armed forces.
Julie Gunlock explains the deceitful agenda behind these twisted priorities:
The president told Americans to gird for a disaster. Sequestration would result in unspeakable suffering. The elderly would starve; kids would miss vaccinations; teachers would be laid off; airplanes would crash mid-air due to a dearth of air traffic controllers. And don’t bother calling for help—no one’s coming thanks to massive layoffs of police and firefighters.
Fast forward to today. America is still standing. The public is still waiting for the wave to hit. Now President Obama has launched a charm offensive toward the Republicans who called his alarmist bluff.
Sadly, such alarmism isn’t limited to budget debates and sequestration cuts. Today, alarmism permeates nearly every nook and cranny of our culture. Americans are told to be on high alert about everything from their common household cleaners, toys, plastic bottles and canned food, to their child’s favorite pair of sandals, garden hoses, school supplies and playground equipment.
Women—particularly mothers—are the prime target for such messaging. For mothers, there’s nothing more distressing than the idea that something might harm her child. In today’s information age, mothers face a daily avalanche of information—much of it meant to terrify.
[...] Alarmism also presents vast opportunities for politicians. If you tell a mother that a product might harm her child, she’s far more likely to utter those magic words — the words every alarmist yearns to hear — “something must be done!” Enter the helpful, eager and desperately concerned politician who will suggest regulations, bans and taxes to address the so-called problem.
In this case, the alarmist is meant to convince Americans that any kind of spending cut will create so much pain and danger that they must no longer demand cuts – and allow our spendaholic politicians to continue digging us into deeper debt to the tune of over $48,000 PER SECOND.
Republican Establishment Blames Social Conservatives, Tea Party For GOP Being Viewed As ‘Out Of Touch’
Hmmm…could it be that the reason people think the GOP is ‘out of touch’ is that they keep ignoring the American people’s concerns about massive debt, out-of-control spending, the erosion of constitutional liberties, and massive power-grabs like Obamacare?
Karl Rove has founded an organization for the specific purpose of bulldozing Tea Party candidates and replacing them with those hand-picked by the GOP establishment.
House Speaker Boehner has caved on Obamacare, illegal immigration, and a host of other issues, and even says that “trusts Obama completely.” WTH???
And he’s not the only one. Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have all waved the white flag on Obamacare.
The conservative base has been betrayed again and again by their own party. But who does the party blame for their losses? Their base!
I believe that the disappointing results for Republicans in the 2006 elections and probably the 2012 elections, as well, were in no small part attributable to frustrated conservatives staying at home.
The thinking among many conservatives has been that the party has consistently fallen short by failing to restrain the growth of the ever-expanding federal government and by failing to nominate sufficiently conservative presidential nominees. That is, if we would just nominate and elect Reagan conservatives and govern on Reagan principles, we would recapture majority status in no time.
The main opposing view — call it the establishment view — holds that Republicans need to accept that the reign of small government is over, get with the program and devise policies to make the irreversibly enormous government smarter and more energetic. In other words, Republicans need to surrender to the notion that liberalism’s concept of government has won and rejigger their agenda toward taming the leviathan rather than shrinking it.
I’d feel better if the ongoing competition between Reagan conservatives and establishment Republicans were the only big fissure in the GOP right now, but there are other cracks that threaten to break wide open, too. Our problems transcend our differing approaches to the size and scope of government and to fiscal and other economic issues.
Reagan conservatism is no longer under attack from just establishment Republicans; it’s also under attack from many inside the conservative movement itself. Reagan conservatism is a three-legged stool of fiscal, foreign policy and social issues conservatism. But today many libertarian-oriented conservatives are singing from the liberal libertine hymnal that the GOP needs to remake its image as more inclusive, more tolerant, less judgmental and less strident. In other words, it needs to lighten up and quit opposing gay marriage, at least soften its position on abortion, and get on board the amnesty train to legalize illegal immigrants. I won’t even get into troubling foreign policy divisions among so-called neocons, so-called isolationists and those who simply believe we should conduct our foreign policy based foremost on promoting our strategic national interests.
[...] I belong to the school that believes the Republican Party must remain the party of mainstream Reagan conservatism rather than try to become a diluted version of the Democratic Party. This does not mean Republicans can’t come up with creative policy solutions when advisable, but it does mean that conservatism is based on timeless principles that require no major revisions. Conservatives are champions of freedom, the rule of law and enforcement of the social compact between government and the people enshrined in the Constitution, which imposes limitations on government in order to maximize our liberties. If we reject these ideas, then we have turned our backs on what America means and what has made America unique. What’s the point of winning elections if the price is American exceptionalism?
Rush Limbaugh is calling the Republicans to task for their “blame the conservative base” mentality:
The Republican National Committee released earlier on Monday an “autopsy” of its 2012 election failures and pinned the blame on the party being out of touch with voters, particularly minorities.
Limbaugh said the opposite was true. “We are in touch with the founding of this country. We are in touch with the greatness in this country and its people,” the popular radio commentator said, according to Politico.
Limbaugh said that if the party moves away from championing values, such as traditional marriage, it will lose support among its base.
“If the party makes that [gay marriage] something official that they support, they’re not going to pull the homosexual activist voters away from the Democrat Party, but they are going to cause their base to stay home and throw their hands up in utter frustration,” Limbaugh said.
Limbaugh said it was party leaders who were out of touch with its own base.
Jonathon Moseley writes that the problem isn’t conservative values, but a failure to effectively market them to a new generation:
The Republican Party is violating time-tested, basic principles of sales and marketing. That’s why the GOP is failing to communicate its messages. On Monday, the Republican National Committee released a massive reform strategy, whimsically labeled an “autopsy” or “reboot,” to completely overhaul the GOP. Like Democrats in 1992, Republicans are growing hungry to win in 2014 and 2016.
Here is what is wrong with the Republican Party. This author taught in a sales training seminar firm in Eastern Europe, International Trendsetters. The solutions are overwhelmingly time-tested and proven in real life. This is not theory. Republicans are chronically making classic rookie sales mistakes.
“FAB” — Features, Advantages, Benefits. You must explain how a policy benefits the voter. Bad salesmen talk about features – the radio has a better tuner. Good salesmen talk about how the radio benefits the customer – you will enjoy the music more and set a better mood for your love interest because it sounds better and clearer. People don’t buy a mattress. They buy a good night’s sleep. And maybe good décor.
On Monday, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus explained that we must talk about how Americans benefit from low taxes and lower national debt. We have to talk about how Republican policies will put more people to work, at higher salaries, improve our economy, and strengthen our country. Republicans talk about details — lower taxes, lower regulations, lower deficits. We fail to explain why those details actually matter to the voter.
But isn’t it obvious? No. Classic rookie mistake. It’s obvious to you if you spend lots of time thinking about these things. It’s not obvious to busy people who have other things to think about, which they feel are more important in their lives. Yes, you have to draw them a map.
There is an imbalance between the speaker who is extremely familiar with a topic and the listener who isn’t. The speaker needs to understand how the speaker really sounds to the listener. Republicans skip over too many steps and assume too much. The American voters are smart. But they haven’t spent as much time thinking about your topic as you have. We have to be able to empathize with the busy listener and even remember how we were when we first learned about these issues.
It is amazing that the GOP has been so bad at this, when Ronald Reagan was so good at it. If anyone is thinking of running for office, Step #1 is to listen to every speech Ronald Reagan ever gave. Several times. Reagan “got” it. Then the GOP lost it.
Next, the mind abhors a vacuum. What you don’t say can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion. People have never stopped talking about cuts in education, even while education spending soars year after year. People will assume you want to help the rich by lowering taxes. They will assume you hate immigrants. They will assume you want women barefoot and pregnant. If you don’t explain how GOP policies benefit the listener, their minds will fill in the vacuum with other explanations. If you don’t provide a reason, their minds will provide one for you.
Third, love objections. This is one of the most powerful principles good salesmen know. We view objections with dread. A voter tells you why they don’t like the GOP. Time-tested sales techniques have proven that objections are opportunities. When a prospect tells you what he is concerned about, you now have the opportunity to address his or her concerns.
This is especially true when a voter believes something that isn’t true about Republicans — if they are willing to talk to you, that is. Proven sales experience shows that when someone is willing to tell you their negative views, and talk to you about it, you have an open door to dramatically turn around their perceptions.
Of course you have to treat them as a future friend, not as a current enemy. But the overwhelming majority of successful sales are closed after the third or fourth objection. That’s right, most sales succeed after not just the first negative response, but after several negative issues are raised and discussed. But you have to care about the other person as much as you care about yourself to answer their concerns fully, fairly, and respectfully.
Fourth, “ask for the order” as RNC Chairman Reince Priebus described on Monday. In other words, you have to show up. You are not going to win over any hearts or minds sitting in your office across the street from the Capitol South Metro station (the RNC headquarters). It is common sense that you have to go out and talk to Hispanics, Blacks, and other groups.
The GOP’s “outreach” efforts have often been embarrassing. Republican campaigns appoint leaders of, say, “Korean-Americans for Bush,” then order bumper stickers and campaign pins. And that’s about it. Pretending to be doing outreach, but not really, is a Republican specialty.
This will only end well for those who are prepared to take care of themselves and their families.
The Cyprus central bank decided to keep the banks closed until next Tuesday. The panic is building. This will build it even more.
The British media say the government is looking for Plan B. There is no Plan B.
There will be no tax on bank accounts, says the parliament.
Will there still be a bailout? The European Central Bank has said it will remove the life support tube on Monday. The head of the EuroGroup, which is a no-name committee of the eurozone’s finance ministers, said this: “I’m not sure that this package is completely gone and failed, because I don’t see many alternatives.” In short, “the Parliament had better reconsider.” Or else.
Or else what? Default? Cyprus’ departure from the eurozone? Do the Eurocrats want that? Do they want to risk a poster child for the PIIGS to imitate?
Meanwhile, panic builds. When the banks open their doors next week, they will face a true bank run. People now know: they cannot get their money. They never thought this could happen.
The central bank is playing kick the can. It is buying time. Maybe there will be a Plan B. Problem: if there is a Plan B, maybe the parliament will reject it. Then what?
A nation shuts down economically if its banks shut down. The banks can shut down in two ways: because of bank runs or by decree from the central bank. Today, the banking system has been shut down by decree.
The central bank cannot kick the can much longer. The economy will collapse without banks.
The British media are covering the story.
“We don’t have days or weeks, we have only hours to save our country,” Averof Neophytou, deputy leader of the ruling Democratic Rally party, told reporters as crisis talks in Nicosia dragged on into the evening.
The country’s two main banks – Laiki and the Bank of Cyprus – face potential failure if a bailout is not secured. One official told the Associated Press that Europe and the IMF were pressing for the two banks to be wound down. The Cypriot government was said to be considering the possibility of imposing capital controls amid fears that money would flood out of the country once its banks were reopened.
But if depositors cannot send their digital money out of the country, they can still demand currency. The effect is the same: bankrupt banks.
The central bank cannot print euros. It can bail out the system only if Cyprus pulls out of the eurozone. If it does, this will send a message to the PIIGS: “Get out. We did. Save yourselves. We did.”
Cyprus isn’t the only country facing serious fiscal consequences from unsustainable spending, unfunded liabilities and overwhelming debt.
Robert Romano explains “How the government will steal your savings under Dodd-Frank“:
The people of Cyprus care more about their life savings than propping up financial institutions that lost billions on poor investments in socialist governments’ debts. The idea that somehow they, and not the banks that made those decisions, should bear the brunt of those losses was always disconnected from reality.
Yet that is precisely the presumption the establishment has made — that rather than banks raising substantially more capital to address systemic risk, you and I should pay for bank bailouts — in response to the ongoing financial crisis that began in 2007, and has actually become the basis for such proposals considered all over the world, including the U.S.
In 2009, the G20 asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to come up with ways the financial sector might supposedly contribute to its own bailouts.
The IMF study released in 2010 essentially proposed two types of taxes: a levy on financial institutions to create a pool of bailout funds, and a financial transaction tax.
Interestingly, what the IMF came up with as a suggestion had already been implemented a few months earlier by the U.S. Congress in passing the Dodd-Frank so-called financial reform legislation.
Under Dodd-Frank, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is allowed to charge assessments to about 60 bank-holding and insurance companies with $50 billion or more in assets to fund what is called an “orderly liquidation fund.” Really, it’s just a bailout fund allowing the government to take over systemically risky institutions, recapitalize them, and allow them to reenter the market under new management.
The law, as well as the IMF study, presumes that the financial sector will bear these costs. But as a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of a similar bank tax proposal by the Obama Administration at the time noted, “the ultimate cost of a tax or fee is not necessarily borne by the entity that writes the check to the government. The cost of the proposed fee would ultimately be borne to varying degrees by an institution’s customers, employees, and investors, but the precise incidence among those groups is uncertain.”
Meaning, the assessments would actually be passed on to and paid for by savers and consumers of financial products through the indirect taxation of higher bank fees and other financial transaction costs. Americans for Limited Government warned lawmakers about just such an outcome prior to the legislation’s passage as an affront to private property rights.
[...] At least in Cyprus the people’s representatives there actually had an opportunity to vote against such a levy. Whereas here, those fees are and will continue to be imposed by the banks with the blessing of government agencies — all without any vote in Congress.
It may happen sooner than anyone realizes. U.S. financial institutions are said to have as much $641 billion of exposure to financial institutions in Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain (PIIGS) according to the Congressional Research Service.
Should the Eurozone really break apart, and U.S. banks are caught in the crossfire, with the American people suddenly paying exorbitant fees for the “privilege” of conducting business electronically, they can decide for themselves whether this was a good idea.
That is, for Congress to outsource and give unlimited grant of its taxing authority to faceless bureaucrats acting in concert with an international banking cartel with the goal of bailing itself out of its own foolishness.
During a Thursday luncheon with Republicans, President Barack Obama reportedly was unable to dine on the lobster feast set before him. Daily Caller obtained audio of Collins explaining the reason why.
“He honestly did look longingly at it,” said Collins. “But apparently he has to have essentially a taster, and I pointed out to him that we were all tasters for him, that if the food had been poisoned all of us would have keeled over so, but he did look longingly at it and he remarked that we have far better food than the Democrats do, and I said that was because I was hosting.”
Collins described the forbidden feast for the Daily Caller:
“University of Maine recipe for healthy lobster salad — I pointed that out to the president in keeping with the first lady’s initiatives and Fox Family Potato Chips made in Aroostook County where I’m from and wild blueberry pie full of anti-oxidants, see this was a healthy lunch as well. We did have a little ice cream on the pie too, also made in Maine, Gifford’s Ice Cream.”
I think this is a serious case of projection. If Obama honestly believes that people on the other side of the aisle would resort to poisoning him over political differences, it’s obviously because in his world, the ends justify the means, and he assumes that Republicans must be just as morally bankrupt and willing to resort to evil and violence as his team is.
Cavuto: What’s happening in Cyprus could happen here
View at Fox News Video
In 1913, the 16th Amendment gave the federal government the power to tax American’s earnings for the very first time. Originally a 1% tax to pay for the war, it has ballooned into a confiscatory predator which continually siphons away your hard-earned money to feed the appetite of a government spending addiction that is never satisfied.
Since the immoral premise that government has a right to confiscate your earnings has gone unchallenged for the last 100 years, they now claim the right to steal your assets as well – property that you’ve acquired and invested in with after-tax dollars, through your own hard work an initiative. Nowhere is this more apparent than the recently instituted 3.8% Obamacare tax on home sales.
Think what is happening in Cyprus can’t happen here? It already is.
Cypriot lawmakers on Tuesday rejected a critical draft bill that would have seized part of people’s bank deposits in order to qualify for a vital international bailout, with not a single vote in favor.
The rejection leaves Cyprus’s bailout in question. Without external funds, the country’s banks face collapse and the government could go bankrupt. Nicosia will now have to come up with an alternative plan to raise the money: the government could try to offer a compromise bill that would be more palatable to lawmakers.
The bill, which had been amended Tuesday morning to shield small deposit holders from the deposit tax, was rejected with 36 votes against and 19 abstentions. One deputy was absent.
Too late. The threat has already been made. They have officially declared that they believe that the hard-earned money in private citizens’ bank accounts are fair game for the taking, and property rights are easily dispensed with when governments overspend. I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them, and neither will most Cypriots!
The smart people will get their money out before they have another chance to try a scheme like this.
MP Nigel Farage is warning European investors to ”Get Your Money Out While You Can“:
In Nigel Farage’s first TV appearance since the Cypriot wealth tax was announced, the Englishman pulls no punches. In all his years and all his experience of the desperation of the European Union’s leadership “never did [he] think they would resort to stealing money from people’s savings accounts.” The simple fact is that they know they cannot let any country leave, no matter how small, for “once one country goes, the whole deck of cards will come tumbling down.” There is now “clear irreconcilable differences” between the North and the South of Europe and now that they have done this in one country, “they are quite capable of doing it in Italy, Spain and anywhere.” The message that sends to people is ”get your money out while you can.” As far as his British constituents, he strongly recommends George Osborne (UK Chancellor) urge ex-pats to remove all their money and do monthly transfers from home. “Do Not Invest In The Euro-Zone,” he concludes,“you have to be mad to do so - as it is now run by people who do not respect democracy, the rule of law, or the basic principles upon which Western civilization is based.”
“They are propping up a Eurozone that, in the end, will collapse in disastrous failure and they are prepared to do anything to do so.”
As Neil Cavuto points out, what is happening in Cyprus is already happening in America…it’s just that most people don’t realize it.
Katie Pavlich notes that American’s 401K plans already top the list of assets the government is threatening to seize:
As a reminder, the United States government has been eying and researching how Americans use their 401k plans for quite some time now. Recently we saw the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggest the government help “manage” retirement plans.
[...] In February, the Washington Times went so far as to ask “is your 401k about to be nationalized?”
The $19.4 trillion sitting in personal retirement accounts like the 401K may be too tempting an apple for a government that is quite broke, both monetarily and morally. The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray recently mentioned these accounts in a recent interview, stating “That’s one of the things we’ve been exploring and are interested in, in terms of whether and what authority we have.”
This agency, created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank-Act, is very concerned about how safe your retirement savings are. They are apparently concerned that retiring baby boomers may become victims of financial scams.
If the government takes control of retirement accounts, it will not be called “nationalization.” There will most likely be an indecipherable document that provides an opt-out option (initially), but why would you want to do that? The US government only wants to ensure the safety of your retirement funds; they did after all create a new bureaucracy for that specific purpose. And what could be a safer investment than US bonds?
Karl Denninger…cites some reasons for being concerned that this express train intends to flatten the US in the coming years. He lays out whywe may need recourse to something like this.
In two years federal medical spending along with Social Security and interest will, on current paths, reach the total of all tax receipts. At the outside the market will realize that Congress will never address the underlying issue with medical care because they have steadfastly refused to do so…. There is about $20 trillion in US Retirement “assets.” A “small” 10% “one time” tax levy on those assets would fund the US Deficit a couple of years from now, and I will go out on a limb now and predict that exactly that will be done. Of course the “one time” aspect will be a lie too…
He goes on to explain how the test case for this has already been successful. And how the American People have already allowed the legal precedents to allow this to happen to be codified in case histories all the way up to the USSC.
the precedent has already been set, and you, the common American, sat for it.
You allowed the GM bailout to take place where the seniority of bondholders was ignored and they were screwed while the UAW was made whole. You allowed Obamacare to be passed with the Congress denoting it was a “fine” rather than a Tax, because Congress knew that a direct, unapportioned tax was unconstitutional — and then you sat again when Judge Roberts of the USSC rewrote Obamacare to be that very same unconstitutional direct Tax.
Mark my words, Obamacare has very little to do with Health Insurance. This is why nobody in government feels any particular concern over the fact that it screws health insurance up so badly. If you are in government and you want the power to run things by fiat, this law just gave you the keys to a Barchetta with a full tank of petrol.
Now some of you have quaint hang-ups stemming from a silly political dope-deal known as The American Bill of Rights. For those who knit-pick abstruse details, Amendments IV and V get really anal about this property rights jib-jab.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Not to worry Komerade Amerikan. There are apps for this as well. Kelo v. New London is a landmark case that helps put the subjects in their proper place. As long as your bank account can be construed as conferring a public benefit through public use, this lovely piece of jurisprudence would justify its seizure down to the last penny.
Bottom line: The state can steal your property, your wealth and your sustinence at any time they get pissed off enough or desperate enough to do so. You have no recourse to the law against this. The law is pathetically bastardized. Remember how that Arch-Conservative Supreme Court was poised to heroically strike down The AACA? Forget it Jake, we are all Cypriots now.
European bank customers just woke up to discover that the government is stealing money directly out of their accounts. Think it can’t happen here? Think again.
People with bank accounts in Cyprus were shocked Saturday to learn that as part of an agreement reached with international creditors, the government has imposed a tax on all deposits to help bail out the nation and its banks.
While the island nation may be small, it’s an international favorite for offshore banking– particularly for wealthy Russians. The tax will range from 6.75% to 9.9%, depending on how much is in the account.
“This is a clear-cut robbery,” Andreas Moyseos, a former electrician who is now a pensioner in Nicosia, told the New York Times. Iliana Andreadakis, a book critic, further added: “This issue doesn’t only affect the people’s deposits, but also the prospect of the Cyprus economy. The E.U. has diminished its credibility.”
And indeed, following the massive run on banks in Cyprus, many are concerned that a minor panic could spread to the rest of the Eurozone. After all, it has just set a precedent for taxing private bank accounts at exorbitant rates without warning.
Why the sudden tax? Because Cyprus is on the verge of bankruptcy, and this is the condition Germany imposed in exchange for bailing them out:
View on YouTube
The banks are closed until Tuesday, to prevent depositors from accessing their money. ATM’s have quickly run out of cash as desperate citizens line up to withdraw their money before it is confiscated:
This is setting up the possibility of a widespread run on European banks:
In a move that could set off new fears of contagion across the eurozone, anxious depositors drained cash from ATMs in Cyprus on Saturday, hours after European officials in Brussels required that part of a new €10 billion ($12.6 billion) bailout must be paid for directly from the bank accounts of savers.
The move – a first in the three-year-old European financial crisis – raised questions over whether bank runs could be set off elsewhere.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the group of euro-area ministers, on Saturday declined to rule out taxes on depositors in countries beyond Cyprus, although he said such a measure was not currently being considered. Although banks placed withdrawal limits of €400 on ATMs, most of them had run out of cash by early evening. People around the country reacted with disbelief and anger.
Someone with €8,000 of life savings in the bank can ill afford to lose an arbitrary €540, but that’s exactly what is going to happen. The Cypriot parliament is probably not going to revolt this weekend, but any politician who votes for this bill is going to have a very, very hard time getting re-elected. This decision is important not only because of the precedent it sets with regard to bank depositors, but also because of the way in which it points up just how powerless all the Mediterranean countries (plus Ireland) have become. More than ever before, it’s Germany’s Europe. That’s bad for Cyprus — and it’s not even particularly good for Germany.
Saxo Bank CEO says, “This Is Full-Blown Socialism And I Still Can’t Believe It Happened“:
It is difficult to describe the weekend bailout package to Cyprus in any other way. The confiscation of 6.75 percent of small depositors’ money and 9.9 percent of big depositors’ funds is without precedence that I can think of in a supposedly civilised and democratic society. But maybe the European Union (EU) is no longer a civilised democracy?
I heard rumours about this when I visited Limassol last week, but dismissed them as completely outlandish. And yet, here we are. The consequences are unpredictable, but we are clearly looking at a significant paradigm shift.
This is a breach of fundamental property rights, dictated to a small country by foreign powers and it must make every bank depositor in Europe shiver. Although the representatives at the bailout press conference tried to present this as a one-off, they were not willing to rule out similar measures elsewhere – not that it would have mattered much as the trust is gone anyway. It is now difficult to expect any kind of limitation to what measures the Troika and EU might take when the crisis really starts to bite.
If you can do this once, you can do it again. if you can confiscate 10 percent of a bank customer’s money, you can confiscate 25, 50 or even 100 percent. I now believe we will see worse as the panic increases, with politicians desperately trying to keep the EUR alive.
Depositors in other prospective bailout countries must be running scared – is it safe to keep money in an Italian, Spanish or Greek bank any more? I dont know, must be the answer. Is it prudent to take the risk? You decide. I fear this will lead to massive capital outflows from weak Eurozone countries, just about the last thing they need right now. Even from the EU as a whole, I suspect, as the banking union is in place in most countries already.
Depositors are justified in their panic, given that the amount they stand to lose changes by the hour:
If initially Europe came out as utterly deranged in its Cyprus deposit-confiscation scheme, at least it was consistent. Now, it appears that Europe is desperate to appear not only completely incompetent but also unable to even make a simple decision and stick with it, following news from both the WSJ and the FT that the original confiscation thresholds of 6.75% and 9.9% for deposits below and over €100,000 is about to be revised.
From the FT: “a revised deal being discussed in Nicosia, with the blessing of the European Commission, would shift more of the burden on to deposits larger than €100,000, according to officials involved in the talks. Under a controversial deal struck with international bailout lenders in the early hours on Saturday, a 6.75 per cent levy would be imposed on all deposits under €100,000 while accounts over that threshold would be hit with a 9.9 per cent levy. The depositor levy was demanded by a German-led group of creditor countries to bring down the bailout’s price tag from €17bn…. Officials involved in last night’s talks said the changes in the levy’s rates were in flux, but they could see the higher rate increase to as much as 12.5 per cent while the smaller deposits could be about 3.5 per cent.”
Elsewhere, according to the WSJ, the deposit “tax” would be under 5% for deposits under €100K, under 10% for deposits between €100 and €500K, and over 13% for deposits greater than half a million.
While this idiotic last minute revision will only infuriate Russian oligarchs even more, it will achieve absolutely nothing to streamline the passage of the bill through Cyprus parliament where it appears to have hung without enough support: the damage has already been done, and it is a virtual guarantee that Cyprus banks will suffer a full blown bank run the second banks reopen, which may be Tuesday, Wednesday, or never, at the current pace. That line around the block at your local neighborhood Nicosia ATM: that is not, and will not, be for people seeking to make a deposit, that much we can guarantee, no matter what the final confiscation percentage is.
What is worse, however, is the painful demonstration of the absolutely and completely arbitrary decision-making process out of Europe. Sure: the ECB and the European Commission may decide to fully unwind the deposit confiscation scheme before all is said and done, but the genie is now out of the bottle, and it is very clear that in the European Disunion, a few unelected oligarchs will now determine until such time as the Eurozone finally implodes, just whose wealth and deposits are ripe for the taking. That not even Germany can make a decision and stick with it is just icing on the cake of the European Titanic.
This is the end result of the “Utopia” known as Democratic Socialism: large, powerful bureaucracies, out-of-control spending, runaway debt, forced redistribution, no respect for private property, and eventual collapse.
Europeans thought they could enjoy the unsustainable promises of Marxism without going full-blown communist. They chose a deceptive “third way” alternative, but it turns out the new boss is equally as destructive as the old one.
This is the path that Obama insists we follow, even as Europe’s warning signs glaringly flash “turn back now!”
After waiting four years to release a budget (a violation of their constitutional duties), THIS Is the best they could come up with?
Senator Patty Murray, the Democratic chair of the Senate Budget Committee, finally released a budget today. Year over year, in this proposed budget, spending jumps dramatically.
For instance, from this year’s budget to next year’s proposed budget, spending would increase by $162 billion. This year, the federal government will spend $3.599 trillion; under Murray’s budget, the federal government would be on track to spend even more.
Over the next decade, spending under Murray’s budget would increase by 62 percent.
How do they propose paying for all of this out-of-control spending? By trying to squeeze blood from a stone, apparently.
The 10-year budget plan drafted by Senate Democrats includes a $1.5 trillion tax-hike, according to GOP staffers who combed through the long document as soon as it was released.
The “budget would raise taxes on Americans by $1.5 trillion to pay for increased spending … on top of the $1.7 trillion in tax increases already signed into law during the Obama administration,” said a statement from Sen. John Thune, the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.
“The policies of big spending and big government have led to a dismal average economic growth rate of just 0.8 percent over the past four years. It’s time to grow the economy, not the government,” he added.
President Barack Obama quickly endorsed the plan, which will help him continue an aggressive public-relations campaign against GOP budget maven, Rep. Paul Ryan, and his budget plan, in the long run-up to the 2014 mid-term election.
This is national suicide, and they know it.