Friday, March 26, 2010

“ . . . a dangerous place, actually”

By Bernie Quigley

- For The Hill, 3/26/10

Press observations the day after:

I filed for Social Security last month with the idea that it would be better to apply early, at 63, because there might not be anything left when I’m 65. Looks like I broke the bank. The New York Times reports today that this year, the system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes, an important threshold it was not expected to cross until at least 2016. The bursting of the real estate bubble and the ensuing recession have hurt jobs, home prices and now Social Security, they report. Guess they forgot to factor in reality. Felt that one coming up here where people my age have been coming from the city in BMWs and Porsche Boxsters and building chicken coops.

And cashing in their T bills. A sudden drop-off in investor demand for U.S. Treasury notes is raising questions about whether interest rates will finally begin a march higher—a climb that would jack up the government's borrowing costs and spell trouble for the fragile housing market, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“For months, investors have focused their attention on the debt crisis in Europe, but there are signs the spotlight is turning to the ability of the U.S. to finance its own budget deficit,” writes the WSJ’s Tom Lauricella.

They haven’t been making much progress last year and this. Last year, Gloom, Boom and Doom’s Marc Faber said to buy one anyway to explain inflation to you children, because in 20 years they will be worth zero.

And now that beacon of penguin-class prosperity, the Massachusetts health care plan, the model for Obama’s, has got issues. Tim Cahill, the state treasurer of Massachusetts who is running for governor as an independent candidate, says the program is a fiscal train wreck. “The universal insurance coverage we adopted in 2006 was projected to cost taxpayers $88 million a year. However, since this program was adopted in 2006, our health-care costs have in total exceeded $4 billion,” he writes in the WSJ. Bad for Mitt Romney as well. As governor, he sponsored the plan and he is possibly the only guy smart, disciplined and skilled enough to extract us from it.

Ruth Marcus today in the Washington Post writes, “If I were a member of Congress, my floor speech before casting a yes vote would have boiled down to: ‘Gee, I hope this works.’”

You betcha, says Sarah Palin.

“So where are we?” asks the WSJ’s Peggy Noonan, who consistently understands things better than most. “In a dangerous place, actually.”