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Tags: Iraq | Racks Up | Budget | Surpluses | U.S. Debt Grows | Israel | Ahmadinejad

Iraq Racks Up Budget Surpluses While U.S. Debt Grows

By    |   Monday, 04 October 2010 02:41 AM EDT

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Iraq Racks Up Budget Surpluses While U.S. Debt Grows
2. Federal Workers Don’t Share Recession Pain
3. Israel Has ‘One-Time Opportunity’ to Seize Ahmadinejad
4. Young Americans More Satisfied, Less Likely to Vote
5. ‘War on Poverty’ Wastes a Lot of Ammo to Little Effect
6. We Heard: Conservative Books; Democrats at Record Low

1. Iraq Racks Up Budget Surpluses While U.S. Debt Grows

Iraq has run annual budget surpluses each year since the United States invaded and ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003 — while the U.S. pumped more than half a trillion dollars into Iraq and ran deficits in every one of those years.

In the 6-year period from 2004 through 2009, the Iraqi government amassed a surplus of $52.1 billion, with up to 92.1 percent of its revenues coming from oil exports, according to an audit by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

During that same period, deficits in six consecutive years boosted the overall U.S. national debt from $6.9 trillion to $12.3 trillion.

Part of that increased debt can be attributed to the $624 billion the U.S. has spent fighting the war to overthrow the Iraqi regime and help the Iraqis set up a democratic government, the GAO observed.

Despite Iraq’s surpluses, on July 29 the U.S. Congress approved $1 billion in “emergency” aid to the Iraqi government, and President Barack Obama is seeking another $2 billion in his fiscal 2011 budget, CNSNews reported.

The GAO also disclosed that the Iraqi government held as much as $32.2 billion in cash on deposit at banks and financial institutions.

“GAO believes that Congress should consider Iraq’s available financial resources when it reviews the administration’s fiscal 2011 budget request and other potential future budget requests for additional funds to train and equip Iraqi security forces,” the GAO stated in its audit report.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, America’s budget deficit exceeded $1.3 trillion for fiscal 2010, which ended Sept. 30 — the second greatest deficit as a percentage of GDP since World War II.

The greatest? The previous year’s $1.4 trillion deficit.

Editor's Note:

2. Federal Workers Don’t Share Recession Pain

While many workers in the private sector have been suffering the effects of the recession, federal employees have been enjoying a boom in employment and compensation — at taxpayers’ expense.

“For nearly two years, millions of private-sector workers have made often painful sacrifices because of failed federal economic policies and skyrocketing federal spending and debt. But the opposite has been true for federal workers,” the Washington Examiner states in an editorial.

According to the Examiner:

  • Beginning in 2008, federal employees earning $100,000 or more a year rose from 14 percent to 19 percent of the civil service workforce of 2 million.
  • During that period, Washington added around 100,000 new jobs, while more than 7 million private-sector jobs were lost.
  • The average compensation for a federal worker now stands at $123,049, more than double the private-sector average.
  • Of the 10 counties with the highest per capita income, six are in the Washington, D.C., area.

The Heritage Foundation reported that four out of the five jobs President Obama claimed were “created or saved” by the stimulus bill were in government.

Now Rep. Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican, wants bureaucrats and politicians to share the pain. He has a proposal to furlough all nonessential federal workers for two weeks next year, and to cut the salaries of senators and representatives by 10 percent.

But the House Democratic leadership recently refused to schedule a vote on a bill introduced by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., to cut congressional pay by 5 percent. Coffman’s proposal is not likely to fare much better — it’s been 77 years since Congress voluntarily took a pay cut.

But the Examiner warns: “In the year of the Tea Party, if the rest of Congress doesn’t take the Coffman and Kirkpatrick bills seriously, voters will have the opportunity in November to remind them what it’s like to be unemployed.”

Editor's Note:

3. Israel Has ‘One-Time Opportunity’ to Seize Ahmadinejad

During his campaign for prime minister in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu called for putting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on trial in The Hague on charges of incitement to genocide for calling for the destruction of Israel.

Now a leading Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, suggests that Israel could take matters into its own hands by seizing Ahmadinejad during his upcoming visit to Lebanon.

“Three weeks from now, Netanyahu will have a one-time opportunity to stop the new Hitler and thwart the incitement to genocide,” Aluf Benn writes in a Haaretz article published on Wednesday.

Ahmadinejad plans to pay his first visit to Lebanon and spend a day touring the southern part of the country close to Israel, visiting sites where the Iranian-backed Hezbollah waged battles against Israel.

“The route is known, the range is close, and it is possible to send a detail across the border to seize the president of Iran and bring him to trial in Israel as an inciter to genocide and Holocaust denier,” Benn observed.

“The media effect will be dramatic: Ahmadinejad in a glass cage in Jerusalem, with the simultaneous translation earphones, facing grim Israeli judges.”

The Israeli detail might also capture Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who will likely emerge from hiding to accompany Ahmadinejad, according to Benn.

The seizures would run the risk of sparking military retaliation by Iran, Benn notes. But he points out that Netanyahu said during the campaign: “The year is 1938 and Iran is Germany,” referring to the year before Germany’s invasion of Poland sparked World War II.

“How can Netanyahu refrain from an action to stop Hitler’s heir, when the year is already 1939, if not 1940?” Benn asks.

He acknowledges that the risks of such an operation are so great that it is not at all likely to be launched. But he adds: “Perhaps I’m wrong. Could it be the elite special operations unit is training and Ahmadinejad and Nasrallah are on their way to [a] secret detention facility?”

Editor's Note:

4. Young Americans More Satisfied, Less Likely to Vote

A new poll suggests that young Americans are less likely to vote in the November elections than their older countrymen because they are more satisfied with the state of affairs in the country.

Only 35 percent of potential voters in the 18-to-34 age range are enthusiastic about the midterm elections, compared to 65 percent of seniors, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

As for why those young Americans are less enthusiastic about voting, clues may lie in a poll from the Society for Human Resources Management/National Journal Congressional Connection. This survey found that 54 percent of respondents between ages 18 and 29 are satisfied “with the way things are going in this country today,” while 28 percent of those from 30 to 49 feel that way. The satisfaction rate drops to 22 percent for respondents from 50 to 64. Among seniors 65 and over, just 19 percent are satisfied.

Fully 72 percent of voters over 65 are dissatisfied with the direction of the country, compared to only 39 percent of those under 30.

Nearly 60 percent of respondents between 18 and 29 said they believe the federal government will make progress in solving the nation’s crucial problems during the next 12 months, while 42 percent of those ages 30 to 64 agree, and just 36 percent of 65-plus Americans feel that way.

President Obama is doing an excellent job, 45 percent of young voters say, compared to 39 percent of voters 65 and over.

“The numbers are part of an overall pattern that shows sharper optimism about the country and higher approval of President Obama’s job performance among younger and minority voters, contours of support that match core groups in his winning 2008 coalition,” National Journal observed.

Sen. Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican, thinks young people should be more concerned about the president’s policies that have boosted federal spending:

“I think if they look at what’s happening in this country relative to the debt burden they’re going to have to bear because we’re spending their money today, paying bills for today and the bills are being passed on to them, they might not be quite so optimistic.”

Editor's Note:

5. ‘War on Poverty’ Wastes a Lot of Ammo to Little Effect

When President Lyndon Johnson declared an “unconditional war on poverty in America” in January 1964, the country’s poverty rate was around 19 percent and falling.

Since then, the federal government has spent more than $13 trillion fighting poverty. But a recent report showed that the poverty rate this year is about 15 percent and climbing, and in all the years since “war” was declared, the rate has never fallen below 10.5 percent.

“Welfare spending could arguably be justified if we were actually reducing poverty. But as the recent numbers make clear, we’re not,” Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, writes in an editorial for Investor’s Business Daily.

“Clearly we are doing something wrong. Throwing money at the problem has neither reduced poverty nor made the poor self-sufficient.”

The federal government now has 122 separate anti-poverty programs, with Medicaid the largest. These programs spent more than $590 billion last year — roughly $14,850 for every poor person in the country.

Given that the poverty line is $10,830, it would have been cheaper just to mail every poor person a check for $11,000, according to Tanner, author of “The Poverty of Welfare: Helping Others in Civil Society.”

President George W. Bush boosted welfare spending by about $80 billion over his entire second term, while in just two years President Obama’s administration has increased spending on welfare programs by more than $120 billion, in part by easing eligibility and expanding caseloads. One out of every six Americans now receives some form of government assistance.

“The whole theory underlying our welfare programs is wrong-headed,” Tanner concludes. “We focus far too much on making poverty more comfortable and not enough on creating the prosperity that will get people out of poverty.”

Editor's Note:

6. We Heard …

THAT HarperCollins is launching a new imprint with a conservative perspective, Broadside Books.

Editor Adam Bellow, who will oversee Broadside, says it will “publish books on the culture wars, books of ideas, books of revisionist history, biographies, anthologies, polemical paperbacks, and pop-culture books from a conservative point of view,” The New York Times reports.

Bellow has been an editor at HarperCollins since 2008 and has published books by Sarah Palin and Peggy Noonan.

Broadside will begin publishing in January with books including “Death by Liberalism” and “The Free Market Capitalist’s Survival Guide.”

THAT the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as Democrats has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded in a Rasmussen Reports poll.

In September, 34.6 percent of American adults identified themselves as Democrats, down nearly half a percentage point from a month ago. It was the second month in a row that the percentage has fallen to a record low.

The percentage of Republicans slipped from 33.8 percent in August to 33.1 percent in September, while 32.3 percent are not affiliated with either major party, according to Rasmussen.

The gap between Democrats and Republicans now stands at just 1.5 percentage points. In September 2008, it was 5.6 points.

Editor's Note:

Editor's Notes:

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Insider Report Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Iraq Racks Up Budget Surpluses While U.S. Debt Grows 2. Federal Workers Don t Share Recession Pain 3. Israel Has One-Time Opportunity to Seize Ahmadinejad 4. Young Americans More Satisfied, Less Likely to...
Iraq,Racks Up,Budget,Surpluses,U.S. Debt Grows,Israel,Ahmadinejad
Monday, 04 October 2010 02:41 AM
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