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The Morning Grumpy – 1/31/2012

Filed under: Morning Grumpy

All the news and views fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. Ezra Klein does a mighty fine job comparing the economic records of Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.

In 1983, when Reagan was trying to get the economy out of recession, revenues were 17.5 percent of GDP. In 2010, when Obama was trying to guide the economy into a recovery, revenues were 14.9 percent of GDP.

Obama’s policies have temporarily increased deficits. Reagan’s policies permanently increased them.

A worthy read.

2. Seems like this should be a bigger story.

The Iraqi government in 2004 gave the Department of Defense access to about $3 billion to pay bills for certain contracts, and the department can only show what happened to about a third of that, the inspector general says in an audit published Friday.

From July 2004 through December 2007, DoD should have provided 42 monthly reports. However, it can locate only the first four reports.

This isn’t the first time we’ve found out about missing billions in Iraq.

The man Congress put in charge of auditing the billions of dollars dumped on Iraq after Saddam Hussein was toppled has told the Los Angels Times he can’t rule out the possibility that $6.6 billion in cash sent from the U.S. was stolen.

Special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction Stuart Bowen told the Times the missing money may represent “the largest theft of funds in national history.”

It’s not just our money that is missing. We seem to have left $17BN Iraqi dollars in our other pants or some such excuse

The United States was responsible for administering the Development Fund for Iraq, set up after the 2003 invasion with money from Iraqi oil sales, frozen Saddam Hussein-era assets, and money left from the UN oil-for-food program.

The US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, the watchdog for reconstruction funds, has issued two reports about the use of money from the development fund showing that as much as $17 billion cannot be accounted for properly.

Starting to sound that maybe, just maybe, this war wasn’t on the up-and-up. How about some serious investigations, President Obama?

3. Here’s a few ideas for those looking for ways to re-purpose the empty and decaying churches on Buffalo’s east side.

4. According to a report from the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a D.C. advocacy group, 43 percent of Americans would fall into poverty within three months if they were to experience a sudden financial shock, such as losing a job or facing a medical emergency.

“Growing numbers of families have almost no savings or other assets to see them through if they lose their jobs or face a medical crisis,” said Andrea Levere, president of CFED. “Without savings, few will be able to build a more economically secure future, including buying a home, saving for their children’s college educations or building a retirement nest egg.” The tenuous financial position of so many households is due to a combination of “flat wages, the high cost of medical treatment and the nationwide drop in housing values leaving homeowners with less wealth.”

Sobering.

5. Keep fighting the President, Republicans.

Long, drawn-out skirmishes over the debt ceiling, the supercommittee and the payroll tax holiday have led to a 64 percent unfavorable rating for Republicans, with their favorable numbers sitting at 29 percent, according to an internal poll conducted by GOP pollster David Winston in the final days of December 2011.

To illustrate how precipitous a drop that is, Republicans started off 2011 with a 43 percent favorable rating and 46 percent unfavorable rating.

At the same time, President Barack Obama continues to gain ground on congressional Republicans on a central issue: jobs and growing the economy. When asked who is more focused on those two objectives, 49 percent of those polled believe it’s Obama, while 40 percent say it’s Republicans in Congress. It’s the fifth straight month Obama was ahead of Republicans in Congress — Republicans led Obama in early August.

With Congressional Republicans shooting themselves in the foot and the Republican Presidential candidates trying to “out-1%” each other, it’s shaping up as a good year for Democrats.

Fact Of The Day: Wondering what the image at the top of this post is all about? Here you go.

Quote Of The Day: “We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to to speak of and act on their belief. At the same time that our Constitution prohibits state establishment of religion, it protects the free exercise of all religions. And walking this fine line requires government to be strictly neutral.” – President Ronald Reagan

Song Of The Day: “Boy With A Coin” – Iron and Wine

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chrissmithbuffalo[@]gmail.com


  • Sam has the best beard in music (and no, I don’t mean his lovely wife.)

  • money out the window

    “Growing numbers of families have almost no savings or other assets to see them through if they lose their jobs or face a medical crisis,” said Andrea Levere, president of CFED. “Without savings, few will be able to build a more economically secure future, including buying a home, saving for their children’s college educations or building a retirement nest egg.” The tenuous financial position of so many households is due to a combination of “flat wages, the high cost of medical treatment and the nationwide drop in housing values leaving homeowners with less wealth.”

    That would make this a good time to start savings and a great time to buy a house. If people can show a little self restraint.

  • saltecks

    How does a family with an income of 30k-40k a year have any discretionary income to save? Plus when the long term rate of inflation exceeds the interest income on savings , how does savings help?

  • The average HOUSEHOLD income in this country is $49K and some change. Really easy to save money on that kind of income.

  • Jesse

    Yeah, you can’t go without $100 cell phone bills, HBO, and going out drinking is never cheap.

    Nope, can’t save a dime on 50k per year, not even when you live in one of the cheapest places in the USA.

  • money out the window

    You save, lay off the phone bills, and look for a house in this area that you can get for under 100k in a decent area with decent schools.
    Problem is salteks, no one wants to do that, immediate gratification is what come to most peoples’ minds when faced with an option.
    How you spend whatever amount you make is a choice.

  • Pauldub

    Average income my ass. Median is a better indicator. I think it’s around 25 – 26k tops around here. Save on that.

  • Money out the window

    Reminds me of the guys I knew in college always had money for grass and video games or the occasional concert but always had a line about the man and what he was taking what these guys somehow they thought they deserved.
    End of day you want to work there is work, you want better work do your job better or move on, you want even better combine some education into the mix, it’s out there.
    The save some and buy a house a car whatever, but stop pissing and moaning about what someone else has, it’s tired and old but I guess it makes you feel like your failure is not your own.