It may not happen this month, or even this year, but food stamp riots are coming to America. In fact, we got a small preview of the coming food stamp riots this past weekend when a “temporary system failure” caused food stamp cards to stop working in 17 U.S. states. Within hours, there were “mini-riots” at Wal-Marts and other retailers that rely heavily on food stamp users. So what would happen if food stamp benefits were cut off or reduced for an extended period of time? As you will see below, if Congress had not pushed through a “deal”, the USDA would have started cutting off food stamp benefits on November 1st. Considering the fact that 47 million Americans are on food stamps and more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government, that could have sparked massive rioting. So the good news is that the coming food stamp riots will probably not happen in November. The bad news is that the “deal” in Congress only delays the political fighting until after Christmas. In just a few months we will be dealing with a potential “government shutdown” and a debt ceiling deadline once again.
Most Americans have no idea what almost just happened. According to Reuters, the state of North Carolina had already cut off some welfare benefits for the month of November…
North Carolina has become the first state to cut off welfare benefits to poor residents in the wake of the partial federal government shutdown, ordering a halt to processing November applications until a deal is reached to end the federal standstill.
More than 20,000 people – most of them children – receive monthly benefits aimed at helping them buy food and other basic supplies through North Carolina’s welfare program, called Work First, which is fully funded by the federal government. Recipients must reapply each month.
And as Mac Slavo recently detailed, the USDA was already planning to cut off food stamp assistance to millions of Americans on November 1st…
We say next month because the USDA, which oversees the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), has just issued an order to SNAP agency directors calling for their respective States to implement an emergency contingency program because of government funding issues. In a letter obtained by the Crossroads Urban Center food pantry, the USDA is directing state agencies to, “delay their November issuance files and delay transmission to State Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) vendors until further notice.”
What this means is that should Congress fail to increase the debt ceiling this week, come November there will literally be millions of people in the United States who will have exactly zero dollars transferred to their EBT cards.
What will happen to the nearly 50 million people who depend on these benefits to survive?
In fact, there have been quite a few news reports that have confirmed this…
In Utah, Fox News 13 in Salt Lake City reported that a local provider recently received a letter from the USDA sticking to the November 1 cut-off date.
“This is going to create a huge hardship for the people we serve here in our food pantry,” Bill Tibbits, Associate Director at Crossroads Urban Center, told Fox News 13.
“What this means [is] if there’s not a deal, if Congress doesn’t reach a deal to get federal government back up and running, in Utah about 100,000 families won’t get food stamp benefit,” added Tibbits.
The USDA letter says in part, “in the interest of preserving maximum flexibility, we are directing states to hold their November issuance files and delay transmission to state electronic benefit transfer vendors until further notice.”
So what would have happened if tens of millions of Americans suddenly had their food stamp benefits cut off without warning?
Well, what happened last weekend can give us a few clues. Just check out what happened at one Wal-Mart in Mississippi…
Customers staged a disturbance then walked out of a Mississippi Walmart store with groceries that hadn’t been paid for Saturday night after a computer glitch left them unable to use their food stamp cards.
People in 17 states found themselves unable to buy groceries with their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cards after a routine check by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a temporary system failure.
Shortly after the mini-riot, managers decided to temporarily close the store, citing customer safety.
Due to this technical glitch, many parents were left wondering how they were going to feed their families. If this is the kind of anger that is unleashed over a single failed trip to the grocery store, what would we see if this kind of thing went on for an extended period of time?
At some Wal-Mart stores down in Louisiana, EBT cards were not showing any limits on Saturday night, and within two hours many store shelves in the grocery section were completely cleared of merchandise…
Shelves in Walmart stores in Springhill and Mansfield, LA were reportedly cleared Saturday night, when the stores allowed purchases on EBT cards even though they were not showing limits.
The chaos that followed ultimately required intervention from local police, and left behind numerous carts filled to overflowing, apparently abandoned when the glitch-spurred shopping frenzy ended.
Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd confirms they were called in to help the employees at Walmart because there were so many people clearing off the shelves. He says Walmart was so packed, “It was worse than any black Friday” that he’s ever seen.
Sadly, this was only a very small preview of the massive food stamp riots that are eventually coming to America. I like how Mike Adams explained what we are likely to see in the future…
Why does any of this matter? Because this is exactly the same way these people will behave when the federal government goes into default and nearly 50 million EBT cards stop working nationwide.
Fifty million. Consider that for a moment. Most of those 50 million people live in high-density cities. Many are proud owners of Obama phones, Obama food stamps, Obama unemployment checks and Obama subsidized housing. They have absolutely no clue that the government upon which they wholly depend to put food on the table is teetering on the verge of permanent collapse. (Seriously, they cannot conceive of the idea of government “running out of money” because they do not understand where money comes from.) Because of this distorted belief, they do not prepare for any future events other than more Obama handouts. Their entire “preparedness” plan is to vote for Democrats, because that’s who they know will give them the most handouts. And they will always win the popular vote, too, because any politician promising to restore responsible fiscal spending to the government by cutting programs will be viciously accused of being “mean” or involved in “hating poor people.” So the government handouts will only ratchet higher and higher, ensnaring more and more people, until the entire system is unsustainable and collapses under its own weight.
When that system of dependence fails, those who depend on it will panic in mere hours. As proof of this, consider the fact that this mass looting of Wal-Mart stores happened in less than three hours after the Saturday EBT card glitch struck. Police had to be called in to prevent the situation from getting completely out of control, and it was offline for only part of one day.
Now imagine what will happen when EBT cards go offline for 24, 48 or even 72 hours. And imagine it happening in every U.S. city simultaneously.
Of course not all Americans would go wild when food stamp benefits are cut off.
Other Americans express their desperation in other ways. According to Bloomberg, an increasing number of people are starting to sell hair, breast milk and their own eggs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet…
Hair, breast milk and eggs are doubling as automated teller machines for some cash-strapped Americans such as April Hare.
Out of work for more than two years and facing eviction from her home, Hare recalled Louisa May Alcott’s 19th-century novel and took to her computer.
“I was just trying to find ways to make money, and I remembered Jo from ‘Little Women,’ and she sold her hair,” the 35-year-old from Atlanta said. “I’ve always had lots of hair, but this is the first time I’ve actually had the idea to sell it because I’m in a really tight jam right now.”
The mother of two posted pictures of her 18-inch auburn mane on www.buyandsellhair.com, asking at least $1,000 and receiving responses within hours. Hare, who also considered selling her breast milk, joins others exploring unconventional ways to make ends meet as the four-year-old economic expansion struggles to invigorate the labor market and stimulate incomes.
We have moved into a time when things are becoming increasingly unstable and when people are becoming increasingly desperate.
In an attempt to keep order, the authorities will become increasingly forceful in the years ahead. At this point, many law enforcement officers already believe that there is very little that they cannot do to exert their “authority” over the rest of us. Just check out video of a drunk off-duty police officer “arresting” a woman that refused to go out on a date with him right here. Sadly, this type of behavior is becoming way too common these days.
And it looks like major financial institutions are getting ready for the chaos that is eventually coming as well. In fact, according to an article by Paul Joseph Watson, Chase Bank is now placing a limit on cash withdrawals and is banning business customers from sending wire transfers out of the country…
Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending international wire transfers from November 17 onwards, prompting speculation that the bank is preparing for a looming financial crisis in the United States by imposing capital controls.
Numerous business customers with Chase BusinessSelect Checking and Chase BusinessClassic accounts have received letters over the past week informing them that cash activity (both deposits and withdrawals) will be limited to a $50,000 total per statement cycle from November 17 onwards.
Fortunately, the chaos that would have been unleashed if Congress had not made a deal has now been delayed for a few months.
But by kicking the can down the road, our politicians continue to make our long-term problems even worse. Either we are going to have tremendous pain now, or we are going to have even worse pain later. Peter Schiff explained the choice that we are facing this way…
If Republicans were to inexplicably prevail, and the federal government were to cut spending so that its expenditures matched its tax revenues (a truly radical idea) the country’s financial mess would be laid bare. The government would have to weigh the relative costs and benefits of making interest payments on Treasury debt (primarily to foreign creditors) or to trim entitlements promised to U.S. citizens. But those are choices we will have to make sooner or later anyway. In fact we should have dealt with these issues years ago. But generations of mechanistic debt ceiling increases have allowed us to perpetually kick the can down the road. What could possibly be gained by doing it again, particularly if it is done with no commitment to change course?
The Democrats’ argument that America needs to pay its bills is just hollow rhetoric. Paying off one’s Visa bill with a new and bigger MasterCard bill can’t be considered a legitimate payment of debt. At best it is a transfer. But in the government’s case, it doesn’t even qualify as that. Treasury debt is primarily bought by the Fed, foreign central banks, and major financial institutions. None of that will change with a debt ceiling increase. We will just go to the same people for greater quantities. So it’s like paying off your Visa card with a bigger Visa card.
We are living on borrowed time that has been purchased by stealing money from future generations.
We are literally destroying the future in order to make the present more palatable.
But whether it is this year, or next year or the year after that, at some point we are going to experience the pain that results from decades of incredibly foolish decisions.
I hope that you are getting ready.
Barack Obama is warning that if he does not get everything that he wants that he will force the U.S. government into a devastating debt default which will cripple the entire global economy. In essence, Obama has become so power mad that he is actually willing to take the entire planet hostage in order to achieve his goals. A lot of people are blaming the government shutdown on the Republicans, but they have already voted to fund the entire government except for Obamacare. The U.S. Constitution requires that all spending bills originate in the House of Representatives, and the House did their duty by passing a spending bill. If the Senate or the President do not like the bill that the House has passed, then negotiations need to take place. That is how our system works. And the weak-kneed Republicans have already indicated that they are willing to give up virtually all of their prior demands. In fact, if Obama offered all of them 20 dollar gift certificates to Denny’s to end this crisis they would probably jump at that deal. But that is not good enough for Obama. He has made it clear that he will settle for nothing less than the complete and unconditional surrender of the Republican Party.
Why is Obama doing this? Why is Obama willing to bring the country to the brink of financial disaster?
It isn’t hard to figure out. Just check out what one senior Obama administration official said last week…
“We are winning…. It doesn’t really matter to us” how long the shutdown lasts “because what matters is the end result,” a senior Obama Administration official told the Wall Street Journal last week.
This is all about a political victory and crushing the Republicans. Obama doesn’t really care how long this crisis lasts because he believes that he is getting the end result that he wants.
According to Obama, the Republican Party is just supposed to roll over and give him the exact spending bill that he wants and also give him another trillion dollar increase in the debt limit.
If the Republicans do not give him that, he is willing to plunge us into financial oblivion.
The funny thing is that most Americans do not want the debt limit increased. According to one new poll, 58 percent of all Americans do not even want the debt ceiling to be increased by a single penny.
And recent polls show that Americans are against Obamacare by an average margin of about 10 percent.
But the pathetic Republican Party is actually willing to hand Obama a trillion dollar debt ceiling increase and fully fund Obamacare if Obama will at least give them something.
Unfortunately, Obama won’t even give them the time of day.
So don’t blame the Republicans for what is happening. The Republicans have already compromised themselves to the point of utter disgrace. If Obama had been willing to even compromise a couple of inches this entire crisis would already be over.
And nobody should be claiming that the Republicans won’t vote to end this shutdown. They have already voted to end it. The following is from a recent article by Thomas Sowell…
There is really nothing complicated about the facts. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted all the money required to keep all government activities going — except for ObamaCare.
This is not a matter of opinion. You can check the Congressional Record.
As for the House of Representatives’ right to grant or withhold money, that is not a matter of opinion either. You can check the Constitution of the United States. All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which means that Congressmen there have a right to decide whether or not they want to spend money on a particular government activity.
Whether ObamaCare is good, bad or indifferent is a matter of opinion. But it is a matter of fact that members of the House of Representatives have a right to make spending decisions based on their opinion.
Once again, the Republicans have already indicated that they are willing to fund Obamacare. They just want Obama to throw them a bone.
And Obama will not do it.
So either the Republicans are going to cave in completely (a very real possibility) or we are going to pass the “debt ceiling deadline”.
What happens then?
Well, we would have more of a “real government shutdown” than the fake shutdown that we are having right now.
Once the federal government cannot borrow any more money, it will only be able to spend what it actually has on hand. That means that a lot more government functions will have to shut down.
Money will still be coming in to the government, but it won’t be enough to fund everything. According to the Wall Street Journal, the federal government will still have enough money to pay interest on the debt, make Social Security payments, make Medicare payments, make Medicaid payments, provide food stamp benefits and pay the military if they cut almost everything else out.
The other day, I suggested that the federal government could potentially start defaulting on interest payments on the debt as early as November. But that would only happen if the federal government manages their money foolishly.
If the federal government managed their money smartly and saved cash for the interest payments as they came due, they would not have to miss any.
But when was the last time the federal government ever did anything “smartly”?
For the sake of argument, however, let’s assume that the federal government can manage money wisely and can save up enough cash ahead of time for large interest payments as they come due.
If that could somehow be managed, then according to Paul Mampilly the government would never need to actually default…
The U.S. Treasury always has money coming into its accounts. So its always got some amount of cash that it can use to pay interest on bonds. That’s especially true right now because the government is partially shutdown and there’s no cash going out from its accounts.
In fact, when you look at it the U.S. Treasury should simply have no trouble making interest payments on bonds that it has issued.
And there’s no restriction on the U.S. Treasury prioritizing interest payments. Why?
The obligation to pay interest is set by the 1917 Second Liberty Bond Act and laws that commanded the Treasury to pay interest on the debt. You can look this up in section 3123 of Title 31 of the U.S. Code and section 4 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and in Supreme Court precedent (Perry v. United States). It’s all there in black and white.
So the only possible way the U.S. defaults on its debt is if Barack Obama, President of the United States, instructs his Treasury secretary Jack Lew to default on the debt.
And according to the Washington Post, Moody’s has just issued a memo that also indicates that the federal government should be able to make all interest payments even if the debt limit is not increased…
In a memo being circulated on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Moody’s Investors Service offers “answers to frequently asked questions” about the government shutdown, now in its second week, and the federal debt limit. President Obama has said that, unless Congress acts to raise the $16.7 trillion limit by next Thursday, the nation will be at risk of default.
Not so, Moody’s says in the memo dated Oct. 7.
“We believe the government would continue to pay interest and principal on its debt even in the event that the debt limit is not raised, leaving its creditworthiness intact,” the memo says. “The debt limit restricts government expenditures to the amount of its incoming revenues; it does not prohibit the government from servicing its debt. There is no direct connection between the debt limit (actually the exhaustion of the Treasury’s extraordinary measures to raise funds) and a default.”
Of course the federal government would have to stop throwing money around like a drunk gambler at a casino in Las Vegas in order for this to work.
On the very first day of the government shutdown, the feds gave $445 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Apparently Elmo is considered to be “essential personnel” by the Obama administration.
And according to CNS News, the U.S. Army has committed more than $47,000 to buy a mechanical bull during this “shutdown”…
The government shutdown may be keeping furloughed federal workers at home, but on Monday the U.S. Army contracted to buy a mechanical bull.
The $47,174 contract was awarded on Oct. 7 to Mechanical Bull Sales Inc. of State College, Penn.
So needless to say, there is some serious doubt about whether the federal government would be able to manage their money effectively in the event that the debt ceiling deadline passes.
And if the U.S. did start defaulting on debt payments, it would be absolutely disastrous for the global economy as I discussed in a previous article…
“A U.S. debt default would cause stocks to crash, would cause bonds to crash, would cause interest rates to soar wildly out of control, would cause a massive credit crunch, and would cause a derivatives panic that would be absolutely unprecedented. And that would just be for starters.”
Other nations that we depend upon to lend us money would stop lending to us and would start dumping U.S. debt instead.
Could you imagine what would happen if China started dumping a large portion of the 1.3 trillion dollars in U.S. debt that they are holding?
It would be a total nightmare. The collapse of Lehman Brothers would pale in comparison.
And already some banks are stuffing their ATM machines with extra cash just in case the general public starts to panic.
But none of this has to happen.
If Obama decides to negotiate with the Republicans, this crisis will likely end very rapidly.
If not, and we pass the “debt ceiling deadline”, the federal government will still have enough money to make interest payments on the debt as long as they manage their money correctly.
Unfortunately, Obama seems far more interested in playing political games than he is in solving our problems.
In fact, Park Service rangers have been ordered to “make life as difficult for people as we can” during this government shutdown. Obama has apparently decided to punish the American people in order to get leverage on the Republicans. Just check out the following example from a new Weekly Standard article…
There’s a cute little historic site just outside of the capital in McLean, Virginia, called the Claude Moore Colonial Farm. They do historical reenactments, and once upon a time the National Park Service helped run the place. But in 1980, the NPS cut the farm out of its budget. A group of private citizens set up an endowment to take care of the farm’s expenses. Ever since, the site has operated independently through a combination of private donations and volunteer workers.
The Park Service told Claude Moore Colonial Farm to shut down.
The farm’s administrators appealed this directive—they explained that the Park Service doesn’t actually do anything for the historic site. The folks at the NPS were unmoved. And so, last week, the National Park Service found the scratch to send officers to the park to forcibly remove both volunteer workers and visitors.
Think about that for a minute. The Park Service, which is supposed to serve the public by administering parks, is now in the business of forcing parks they don’t administer to close. As Homer Simpson famously asked, did we lose a war?
The hypocrisy that Obama has demonstrated during this “government shutdown” has been astounding.
He has barricaded open air war memorials to keep military veterans from visiting them, but he temporarily reopened the National Mall so that a huge pro-immigration rally that would benefit him politically could be held.
He has continued to fund al-Qaeda rebels in Syria that are trying to overthrow the Syrian government, but he has been withholding death benefits from families of fallen U.S. soldiers.
The conduct of the Obama administration during this shutdown has been so egregious that is hard to put into words. Obama has chosen to purposely harm the American people in order to score political points.
But this is how our politicians view us these days. As Monty Pelerin recently explained, most of our politicians have absolutely no problem with exploiting us for their own purposes…
The concept of political service has been replaced by that of masked exploitation. The public is no longer viewed as clients or constituents to be served. Instead they have become political prey. Politicians see the public as a collection of wallets and votes, fair game to be hunted as the means to expand power and wealth. Constituents are now the Soylent Green of the political food chain.
The political class assumes the public exists to serve them, not the other way around. Public participation beyond the lightening of wallets or the provision of votes is unwelcome. It is considered “interference” that must be deterred by the ruling class.
The political class is now a huge, voracious parasite. Like the plant in the Little Shop of Horrors, its needs have grown to the point where it threatens anything productive. Its needs now exceed the willingness for continued sacrifice on the part of the productive. The parasite threatens the very existence of the host.
The political Ponzi scheme of tax, borrow and spend has reached its limit. Either it will die when citizens turn on it or it will kill the productive, ensuring its own destruction.
It perishes in the end. Whether it takes civilization with it is the bigger question.
Is there anyone out there that still does not believe that our system is broken?
Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and power mad Obama will decide to toss the Republicans a few crumbs and this crisis will be resolved.
Because if this crisis is not resolved soon, it could have consequences that are far beyond what any of us could possibly imagine.
Well, it is time to raise the debt ceiling again. Right now we are about to hit the current limit of $15.194 trillion and the Obama administration is going to ask that it be raised by another 1.2 trillion dollars. Unfortunately, Congress has already promised not to stand in the way, and so soon the debt limit will be raised to a staggering $16.394 trillion. Considering how much debt we have already placed on the backs of future generations, what is another 1.2 trillion dollars? After all, if we are going to sell our children and our grandchildren into debt slavery, we might as well go all the way, right? Such is the thinking in “the Obama Nation”. During “the Obama Nation”, the federal government has already accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office. Of course the Bush administration was nearly as bad at piling up government debt. Between Bush and Obama (with a big helping hand from the Federal Reserve), they have done a pretty good job of wiping out the financial future of the United States. If there are future generations of Americans, they will look back and curse those that did this to them. It is absolutely immoral to steal trillions of dollars from future generations. Unfortunately, there are very, very few members of Congress that are even objecting to this madness.
Today, more debt just seems to be the answer to everything. The truth is that debt is not just a government problem. We are a nation that is addicted to debt.
As of October, total consumer credit in the United States had increased for 12 of the past 13 months. We simply have not learned the lessons of the past and we are making the same mistakes all over again.
We are living in the greatest debt bubble in the history of the world, and this false prosperity that we are enjoying is simply not sustainable.
But even in the midst of this false prosperity we are seeing a huge number of store closings.
For example, it was just announced that Sears has decided to close between 100 and 120 Sears and Kmart stores.
Once upon a time, Sears was the dominant force in the retail industry, but those days are long gone. Sears stock has declined more than 45 percent so far this year, and many are wondering how long the company is going to be able to survive.
And there have been other high profile store closings announced during this holiday season as well. A while back it was announced that all Syms stores and all Filene’s Basement stores will be closing.
Will we all eventually be relegated to shopping only at Wal-Mart?
In the middle of this “economic recovery” that Obama keeps talking about a staggering number of retail stores are closing up shop. The following is a list of store closings in 2011 that I recently found. The first number represents the total number of stores being closed for each chain….
117 Anchor Blue
117 Foot Locker
71 A.J. Wright
60 Rite Aid
52 Destination Maternity
50 Abercrombie & Fitch
50 Hot Topic
45 Big Lots
45 Family Dollar
43 Select Comfort
43 Sonic Drive-In
32 Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, Inc. (SuperFresh, Pathmark Super Market)
30 Ultimate Electronics
25 Superfresh (Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company)
Sadly, it looks like things are going to get even worse next year. One consulting firm is projecting that there will be more than 5,000 store closings in 2012.
The United States is piling up unprecedented amounts of new debt at a time when our economy is dying and our ability to produce wealth is diminishing.
All over America right now, poverty is absolutely exploding. Millions of people that never dreamed that they would have to reach out for help now find that they have no other options. The following comes from a recent article in the Fiscal Times….
For years, the food pantry in Crystal Lake, Ill., a bedroom community 50 miles west of Chicago, has catered to the suburban areas’ poor, homeless and unemployed. But Cate Williams, the head of the pantry, has noticed a striking change in the makeup of the needy in the past year or two. Some families that once pulled down six-figure incomes and drove flashy cars are now turning to the pantry for help. A few of them donated food and money to the pantry before their luck soured, according to Williams.
“People will shyly say to me, ‘You know, I used to give money and food to you guys. Now I need your help,’” Williams told The Fiscal Times last week. “Most of the folks we see now are people who never took a handout before. They were comfortable, able to feed themselves, to keep gas in the car, and keep a nice roof over their head.”
But not everyone will ask for help nicely. As the economic numbers continue to get worse, desperate Americans will lash out in wild and unpredictable ways.
The following is from a local NBC station down in Texas. In the days to come, this type of report will become quite common….
A 19-year-old Houston-area man says he was beaten and a friend was slashed in the face as a group of men robbed him of his new pair of expensive Air Jordan shoes.
We will also see more mass protests and more mass riots as the months and years roll along. This country is going to become increasingly unstable.
Check out this video of a massive brawl that erupted inside Mall of America the other day. Soon scenes such as this will become so common that they will not even be newsworthy anymore.
In response, many Americans will get sick and tired of waiting for the police to protect them and will take matters into their own hands.
In fact, we are already starting to see this. For example, just the other day a store clerk down in North Carolina knocked a would-be robber out cold and then forced him to clean up his own blood after he woke up.
There are millions of Americans out there that are not going to put up with a whole lot of nonsense. When desperate criminals try to rob from their homes or businesses it might not end well for the criminals.
Of course it would be much nicer if the federal government would do some things to actually fix the economy and avoid some the problems that are looming on the horizon.
Ah, but that would interrupt their vacations. Right now, the U.S. House of Representatives is on vacation until mid-January.
If you can believe it, Congress does not work for most of the year. Normally they are scheduled to be in session for about a third of all the days on the calendar.
And Obama is certainly taking it easy. He is enjoying yet another vacation. As I wrote about yesterday, it has been estimated that the Obama Hawaiian vacation this year will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 million dollars.
Yes, it is tough being the head of the Obama Nation.
Sadly, a lot of Americans still have faith in these jokers.
According to a Gallup poll that was just released, Barack Obama is the most admired man in America by far and Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman in America by far. If you can believe it, Barack Obama has held the top spot for men for four years in a row, and Hillary Clinton has held the top spot for women for ten years in a row.
When are we going to learn?
Someone once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Well, the American people keep sending corrupt politicians such as Bush and Obama to the White House and they keep expecting things to get better.
It just isn’t going to happen.
If we stay on the current path that we are on, there will be a lot more store closings, the economy will continue to crumble and government debt will continue to skyrocket.
Minor changes are not going to cut it. We need massive changes on a fundamental level.
Unfortunately, neither political party is offering massive changes. The Republicans and the Democrats just keep offering the same tired solutions and they keep promising that they can “fix things” if we will just send more of them to Washington.
Hopefully the American people will wake up and see through these lies because time is running out.
Is the debt ceiling deal supposed to be some sort of a cruel joke? Is this what the American people have been waiting months and months for? The “debt ceiling deal from hell” is a complete and total fraud. Barack Obama will not need to worry about the debt ceiling again until after the 2012 election, and no “real” spending cuts will happen until after the 2012 election. The way the political game in Washington D.C. is played today, if you don’t get something right now, you probably will never end up getting it. The Republicans have traded a massive debt ceiling increase right now for the possibility of very skimpy budget cuts in the future. Meanwhile, this deal establishes a new “Super Congress” that threatens to fundamentally alter our political system (and not in a good way). The funny thing is that everyone is running around proclaiming that the Tea Party won this battle. That is a complete and total lie.
So what about the $917 billion in “immediate” spending cuts that the Republicans are getting as part of this deal?
Well, they aren’t really spending cuts at all. Rather, they are spending caps. Basically what is happening is that future spending increases are being cancelled and our politicians are selling that to us as “spending cuts”.
What is even sadder is that the $917 billion is spread over ten years and the vast majority of the “cuts” are in the latter years.
For example, even if you consider these to be “spending cuts” (which they are not), the deal calls for only about $25 billion in “cuts” in 2012 and only about $47 billion in “cuts” in 2013.
25 billion dollars is far less than one percent of the federal budget, so needless to say these “cuts” are not very impressive at all.
Okay, so how about the second stage of the deal which will produce “spending cuts” of between 1.2 and 1.5 trillion dollars?
Well, yes, these would actually be spending cuts and they would be spread over 10 years.
Near the end of the year, the new “Super Congress” (more on that in a minute) will submit a proposal to Congress which could cut spending over the next 10 years by a total of up to 1.5 trillion dollars.
If the recommendations of the “Super Congress” are not implemented, then “automatic” spending cuts of $1.2 trillion will go into effect over the next 10 years.
However, there are some very important things to remember about these “spending cuts”.
First of all, none of these “automatic” spending cuts would even go into effect until 2013. The face of American politics will be dramatically different by then, and there is absolutely nothing that makes these cuts binding on Congress.
As Gregg Easterbrook recently noted, Congress can cancel spending cuts at any time and for any reason….
By projecting the only tangible savings — which aren’t even specified, but are merely caps — into the future, the plan allows Congress to cancel them. In 2012 or any future year, Congress will say, “We can’t have caps this year because of the [INSERT ANY WORD CHOSEN AT RANDOM] crisis. We are postponing action till next year.” Rinse and repeat.
As I have written about so many times before, the U.S. national debt is completely and totally out of control. This was supposed to be the moment when at least some members of Congress were finally going to get serious about our exploding debt. Unfortunately, our politicians have sold us down the river once again.
Even if the best case scenario happens (which it never does) and Congress sticks to this deal for the full ten years (which is about as likely as hell freezing over), the “savings” that this deal would produce are quite pathetic as Peter Schiff recently explained….
The Congressional Budget Office currently projects that $9.5 trillion in new debt will have to be issued over the next 10 years. Even if all of the reductions proposed in the deal were to come to pass, which is highly unlikely, that would still leave $7.1 trillion in new debt accumulation by 2021. Our problems have not been solved by a long shot.
Keep in mind that Congress can change this deal whenever it wants.
So nobody should get excited about these “spending cuts”. After all, when was the last time that “future spending cuts” actually materialized in Washington?
The reality is that neither political party seems to want to do much to cut government spending.
So the band will play on and the can will get kicked even farther down the road.
When Obama was inaugurated, the U.S. national debt was $10,626,877,048,913.08.
Today, it is $14,342,358,440,969.10.
But what this “debt ceiling deal” will do is it will give the congressional leadership of both parties much more power.
The new “Super Congress” that this deal establishes will be granted “extraordinary new powers” that regular members of Congress do not possess.
For example, The Huffington Post says that any new legislation produced by the “Super Congress” will not be able to be filibustered or amended….
Under the reported framework, legislation the new congressional committee writes would be fast-tracked through Congress and could not be filibustered or amended.
So who will be a part of the “Super Congress”?
The members will be chosen by the leadership of both parties.
So anyone that is not part of the “establishment” is not likely to be included.
The following is what U.S. Representative Ron Paul had to say about this new “Super Congress”….
“Nothing more than a way to disenfranchise the majority of Congress by denying them the chance for meaningful participation in the crucial areas of entitlement and tax reform. It cedes power to draft legislation to a special commission, hand-picked by the House and Senate leadership.”
It is this new “Super Congress” that will decide what will be in the package of “spending cuts” that will be voted on by the end of the year.
Regular members of Congress will be frozen out of the process.
On December 23rd, Congress will be required to vote up or down on the spending cuts proposed by the “Super Congress”. Regular members of Congress will not be allowed to amend the legislation in any way, and no filibusters will be permitted.
Does that sound very “American” to you?
The more that one examines this “debt ceiling deal”, the worse it looks.
Meanwhile, many Democrats are running around and acting as if their lunch money was just stolen.
For example, the following is what Politico is reporting that U.S. Representative Mike Doyle said about this deal….
“We have negotiated with terrorists,” an angry Doyle said, according to sources in the room. “This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money.”
Democratic congressman Emanuel Cleaver was even more dramatic when he proclaimed that this deal “looks like a Satan sandwich“.
Well, this deal is a total nightmare, but not for the reasons that Cleaver is suggesting.
This deal opens the door for more rampant deficit spending, and nearly all of the “spending cuts” are put off until after the 2012 election.
Basically, the Republicans got taken out behind the woodshed and beaten to a pulp on this one. Any Republican that is trying to proclaim that the debt ceiling deal is a “great victory” is a complete moron.
But in the end, it really does not matter which political party gets a “victory” out of all this. What matters is that our federal government is still steamrolling toward a date with financial oblivion.
If this is the best that our politicians can come up with, we are absolutely doomed.
Has anyone else noticed that the level of stress in this country appears to be extremely high right now? Today, it seems like our federal government, our state governments and most American families live in a constant state of crisis. Everywhere you look there are major problems. Right now everyone is stressed out because of the “debt ceiling deadline”. Earlier this year everyone was freaked out about the possibility of a “government shutdown”. If by some miracle Barack Obama and the Republicans are able to reach a deal in the next few days that will not help the national stress level for long. Another gut-wrenching “national crisis” will almost certainly come along very quickly. Meanwhile, average American families are feeling more stress than ever. There are millions of ordinary Americans that either cannot find jobs or are working as hard as they can and yet cannot seem to pay their mortgages and provide the basics for their families. We are a nation that is really stressed out right now, and as things continue to unravel the level of stress is only going to increase.
Compared to much of the rest of the world, we have an insanely high standard of living, and yet we appear to be some of the most unhappy people on the face of the earth.
Wherever you turn today, someone is popping a pill. The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higher than in any other country in the world. Children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than children in Europe are.
What in the world is wrong with us?
America is a country that desperately needs to chill out.
Washington D.C. sure is a stressful place right now. Most of our politicians seem to be focused on the 2012 elections rather than on trying to solve our problems.
Most of our leaders are prancing around trying to make themselves look good. Meanwhile, our national financial situation continues to go down the toilet.
One way or another this “debt ceiling crisis” will probably get solved. Our politicians will come up with some sort of a “deal” and it will almost certainly be a bad one.
The sad truth is that the U.S. national debt problem should have been addressed decades ago.
But it wasn’t.
So now we are sitting on a 14 trillion dollar timebomb.
Yes, the ultra-wealthy have become absolute masters at avoiding taxation, but even if some way to tap into their offshore wealth could be found, it still would only put a small dent in the problem.
The truth is that the U.S. government spends way too much money.
U.S. government spending is now above 25 percent of U.S. GDP. That is way above what has been normal during the post-World War II era.
But cutting government spending is not going to fix our system either.
The reality is that our debt-based financial system is designed to trap our federal government in a constantly expanding spiral of debt indefinitely.
As I have written about previously, the U.S. government debt problem will never be fixed as long as the Federal Reserve is running our financial system.
Under our current system, the debt is going to continue to grow no matter who we elect.
As our debt grows, our economy will suffer and the national stress level will continue to rise.
But for most American households, government debt is not the thing causing the most stress these days.
Most Americans are much more concerned about their own personal financial situations.
Most people just want to work hard, pay the bills and raise their families. But that is becoming extremely difficult to to.
According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 90 percent of Americans believe that the economy is performing poorly.
The same poll found that 80 percent of Americans believe that it is “difficult” to find a job these days.
In the United States today, there are 14 million unemployed people. Tonight there are huge numbers of Americans that are sitting at home desperately hoping that someone will give them a job. A significant percentage of our population that should be productive is just sitting on the sidelines. Just check out the following quote from a recent CNN article….
Has anyone in Washington noticed that 20% of American men are not working? That’s right. One out of five men in this country are collecting unemployment, in prison, on disability, operating in the underground economy, or getting by on the paychecks of wives or girlfriends or parents. The equivalent number in 1970, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, was 7%.
With numbers like that, how in the world can anyone claim that our economy is healthy?
Sadly, it looks like things may get even worse. As I have written about previously, we are now starting to see another huge wave of layoffs all over the nation.
The employment crisis has a ripple effect throughout the rest of the economy as well.
Without good jobs, Americans cannot buy homes. The housing crash is not going to be fixed until there the employment situation gets fixed.
With lending standards tighter than ever, it takes someone with a good income and a solid employment history to be able to qualify for a home loan.
Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of people like that in the marketplace right now.
So, the housing industry continues to suffer.
Last year was the worst year for new home sales in modern U.S. history. So far, this year is even worse.
It would be really nice if we actually would have an economic recovery, but it just isn’t happening.
Prices are rising and incomes are not. American families are feeling more squeezed than ever.
A lot of Americans live in a constant state of stress because of debt.
According to one new poll, about 20 percent of American adults worry about debt “most or all of the time”.
If you have ever been there, then you know how financial stress can rob sleep from you night after night after night.
Today, total credit card debt in the U.S. is more than 8 times larger than it was just 30 years ago.
Some Americans can handle credit cards, but a lot of them can’t. A staggering 46 percent of Americans do not pay their credit card bills in full each month.
But credit card debt is only one form of debt that is causing stress for American families. The truth is that the total amount of student loan debt is even greater than the total amount of credit card debt. Medical debt is another huge problem. The vast majority of American families are dealing with a debt problem of one form or another. The decades of “easy credit” that we enjoyed are really starting to catch up with us.
Today, the average American household is carrying $75,600 in debt.
That is not a good thing. American consumers are tapped out and the economy is suffering.
As the economy crumbles, many hard working Americans are finding that their lives have radically changed. Just check out the following excerpt from an article posted on a local Connecticut news source….
For 28 years, Cathy Hartley of Glastonbury brought home a good paycheck from her job at Aetna.
But last Tuesday, she was in line with her two young granddaughters for free produce from Mobile Foodshare at the First Church of Christ Congregational on Main Street.
For Hartley, who said she was laid off from her job as a project manager about six years ago and then laid off from a subsequent job two years ago, every little bit helps. Her eligibility for unemployment ran out two months ago.
Could you imagine standing in line at a food bank?
It just might happen to you.
Millions of Americans that have lost their jobs and their homes never thought that it would happen to them.
Wealth and possessions are here today and gone tomorrow. People that base their lives on the things that they own are always going to have a high level of stress. We didn’t bring any of these things into the world with us, and we can’t take any of them with us when we leave.
So try not to stress out too much. We should all learn to be content whether we have a lot or whether we have a little.
So what do all of you think about the stress level in America right now? Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….
As the deadline to raise the debt ceiling draws closer, many are now wondering if Barack Obama will try to go around Congress if a deal is not reached by August 2nd. In particular, a number of voices (including U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner) are now touting the 14th Amendment as a way to get around the debt ceiling. There are others that believe that Barack Obama should invoke “national security” in order to avoid a default. If the Republicans and the Democrats do not reach a deal by the end of July, things are going to get really, really interesting and there is no telling what Barack Obama may do.
Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says the following….
“The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”
At a breakfast hosted by Politico last month, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner actually pulled out a copy of the Constitution and read this clause out loud.
Geithner (and others) are now attempting to argue that the debt ceiling is actually unconstitutional. They believe that the phrase “shall not be questioned” means that if the U.S. government refuses to make debt payments it would be directly violating the U.S. Constitution.
So what does Barack Obama think of this legal theory?
Reporters have been trying to ask him this question, but right now Obama is not answering.
Certainly Obama would very much prefer to have the Republicans and the Democrats reach a deal far before the debt ceiling deadline arrives.
So what will Obama do if a deal is not reached?
Nobody seems to know.
But this clause of the 14th Amendment brings up some deeper issues as well.
Does this clause make it unconstitutional for all future generations to renounce the national debt?
Does this clause make it illegal for all U.S. citizens to even question the validity of the U.S. national debt?
Most Americans would like to think that when it comes to constitutional questions there should always be some clear answers. But the truth is that for many constitutional questions there are a lot of gray areas.
When there is something in the U.S. Constitution that we do not like, that does not mean that we get to ignore it. We have way too many politicians doing that already.
Personally, I would like to see this phrase in the 14th Amendment changed. I think that this phrase is way too vague and could potentially open up a whole can of worms.
But of much more immediate concern is raising the debt ceiling.
Yesterday, I talked about how horrible our national debt is and I also talked about how dangerous refusing to raise the debt ceiling would be.
A large number of Americans that are deeply concerned about the national debt are also completely opposed to raising the debt ceiling.
But if we default right now, it is going to make our national debt problem much, much worse.
Think of it this way – if you had friends that were drowning in debt, would you tell them to immediately start defaulting on their mortgage, their car loans and their credit cards?
Of course not.
The penalties, fees and interest rate hikes would kill them.
Well, it is the same thing with the federal government. Right now we have a great credit rating and we are able to borrow money at extremely low interest rates.
If that suddenly changed, interest rates on our debt would go up dramatically. Just look at Greece. Greece is paying somewhere around 28 percent interest on 2 year bonds. If that happened to us, it would be a complete and total nightmare.
Even if we adopted a “balanced budget” next fiscal year, we would still need to roll over gigantic amounts of debt.
If interest rates on U.S. government debt started skyrocketing, interest payments on the U.S. national debt would very quickly start eating up the majority of our tax dollars. We would soon have very, very little money to spend on anything else.
Wrecking our credit rating just to make a point about fiscal responsibility is not going to solve anything.
What point would there be to wrecking our financial system when neither political party has a viable plan for something better?
A lot of people (including some readers of this column) are actually rooting for a financial crash so they can watch the world go down in flames.
Yes, an economic collapse is coming, but that doesn’t mean that we should wish for it and try to get it to happen faster.
Look, you are probably going to die someday. That doesn’t mean that you should go out and run your car into the nearest tree.
If we blow out our national credit rating right now, it is going to make it 10 times worse to try to get a handle on our national debt.
Plus, if the world financial system was to crash, it would create a massive amount of economic pain for hundreds of millions of people.
Most Americans cannot even conceive of what the consequences of a complete and total financial collapse would be. It is not something that we should be wishing for. Life as we know it would change dramatically.
Once our economic system crashes, it is not going to be able to be put back together again so easily. Most Americans have no idea how bad things could get.
Yes, we must do something about the national debt. We must stop spending ourselves into oblivion. We must dismantle the current debt-based financial system that we are operating under and we must transition to something new.
But to purposely default by refusing to raise the debt limit would bring a whole lot of future financial pain into the present and would make it almost impossible to transition to a new financial system in an orderly fashion.
The sad thing is that a whole lot of people out there actually believe that the current system can be fixed. Many Republicans believe that if we can just cut spending enough we will be okay. Many Democrats believe that if we can just raise taxes on the wealthy enough we will be okay.
But the truth is that the current system cannot be fixed. It is designed to be a perpetual government debt machine from which there is no escape. We have reached a terminal phase of the debt spiral and we get closer to a collapse every single day.
According to John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics, if the U.S. government used GAAP accounting principles the “real” U.S. government budget deficit each year would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 trillion dollars. Williams believes that the U.S. government is essentially bankrupt and that our current system is not anywhere close to sustainable….
Generally, you’ll find that the accounting for unfunded liabilities for Social Security, Medicare and other programs on a net-present-value (NPV) basis indicates total federal debt and obligations of about $75 trillion. That’s 15 times the gross domestic product (GDP). The debt and obligations are increasing at a pace of about $5 trillion a year, which is neither sustainable nor containable. If the U.S. was a corporation on a parallel basis, it would be headed into bankruptcy rather quickly.
Sadly, Williams is right. We are drowning in debt. Something has got to be done.
But refusing to raise the debt limit is not going to help. If we allow our credit rating to be destroyed we could quickly find ourselves paying a trillion dollars or more just in interest on the national debt every single year.
If we want to handle the national debt monster, we need to do it the right way. One thing that we need to do is to admit how bad the situation really is.
The truth is that we are in a lot more than $14.3 trillion in debt.
For example, according to The Financial Armageddon blog, the combined total for all “U.S. government bailouts” and “U.S. government guarantees” related to the financial crisis comes to a grand total of over 20 trillion dollars.
Also, the “unfunded liabilities” of the U.S. government are estimated to be somewhere between $60 trillion and $100 trillion.
If Bill Gates gave every penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.
There are no easy solutions to our problems. If we refuse to raise the debt ceiling our interest costs on the national debt may end up doubling or even tripling in short order. That is not going to help us get our fiscal house in order.
Right now the state of the economy is so fragile that one really bad “shock” could cause it to totally fall apart. The U.S. economy is like a patient that is barely hanging on in the operating room. If we don’t show patience and discipline we could end up with a total disaster.
Look, you will probably not find many writers on the entire Internet that harp on the horror of the U.S. national debt more than I do. It is a crisis that is so nightmarish that it is hard to even put into words.
But refusing to raise the debt ceiling is not going to solve anything. In fact, it would only accelerate our demise.
Our economic system is in bad enough shape already. Let’s not do any unnecessary damage to it.
According to a new poll conducted by CBS News and The New York Times, 39 percent of all Americans believe that the U.S. economy is now in a “permanent decline”.
Sadly, that is the truth. We are in a permanent decline. Just “tweaking” a few things is not going to work. Doing what the Democrats are telling us to do is not going to work. Doing what the Republicans are telling us to do is not going to work.
Our financial system is fundamentally flawed from the Federal Reserve on down. If we continue on the path that we are on, a horrific collapse is inevitable.
We need truly dramatic changes if our way of life is going to survive.
Unfortunately, most Democrats and most Republicans believe that they can fix the current system somehow.
It is not going to work.