As of the close of business, on Wednesday, Oct. 5—the latest day for which the Treasury has reported—the total federal debt was $19,663,411,497,797.40. That means that so far in Obama’s presidency, the federal debt has increased $9,036,534,448,884.32.
Terence P. Jeffrey reports: The federal government passed a fiscal milestone on the first business day of fiscal 2017—which was Monday, Oct. 3—when the total federal debt accumulated during the presidency of Barack Obama topped $9,000,000,000,000 for the first time.
On Jan. 20, 2009, when Obama was inaugurated, the total debt of the federal government was $10,626,877,048,913.08, according to data published by the U.S. Treasury.
As of the close of business on Friday, Sept, 30, the last day of fiscal 2016, the total federal debt was $19,573,444,713,936.79. At that point, the total federal debt had increased under Obama by $8,946,567,665,023.71.
On Monday, Oct. 3, the first business day of fiscal 2017, the total federal debt closed at $19,642,949,742,561.51. At that point, the debt had increased under Obama by $9,016,072,693,648.43 from the $10,626,877,048,913.08 it stood at on the day of Obama’s inauguration.
As of the close of business, on Wednesday, Oct. 5—the latest day for which the Treasury has reported—the total federal debt was $19,663,411,497,797.40. That means that so far in Obama’s presidency, the federal debt has increased $9,036,534,448,884.32. Read the rest of this entry »
“The war on alcohol and the war on drugs were symbiotic campaigns,” says Harvard historian Lisa McGirr, author of The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State. “Those two campaigns emerged together, [and] they had the same shared…logic. Many of the same individuals were involved in both campaigns.”
Did alcohol prohibition of the 1920s ever really come to an end, or did it just metastasize into something far more destructive and difficult to abolish—what we casually refer to as “the war on drugs?” McGirr argues that our national ban on booze routed around its own repeal via the 21st Amendment. Ultimately, Prohibition transformed into a worldwide campaign against the drug trade
The ties between drug and alcohol prohibition run deep. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) was established in 1930, only three years prior to Prohibition’s repeal. The FBN employed many of the same officials as the Federal Bureau of Prohibition. And both shared institutional spaces as independent entities within the U.S. Treasury Department. “In some ways,” observes McGirr, “the war never ended.”
Robert W. Wood writes: It seems crazy to call it the ‘New Normal’, but once again, record numbers of Americans are renouncing citizenship. Every three months, the Treasury Department publicly names individuals who renounced. It is surely more about FATCA, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act enacted in 2010, than it is about politics. Still, numbers are flying, with one poll saying that 1 in 4 Americans would consider leaving if Trump is elected. Others claim they will leave if Hillary is elected.
“FATCA has been painstakingly implemented worldwide by President Obama’s Treasury Department. It now spans the globe with a network of reporting that is unparalleled in the world. America is requiring foreign banks and governments to hand over secret bank data about depositors.”
Of course, these numbers seem tiny compared to the influx of immigrants. Yet expatriations have historically been much lower, making the uptick worrisome. Moreover, the published list is incomplete, with many not counted. Surprisingly, no one seems to know exactly how big the real number is, even though the IRS and FBI both track Americans who renounce. There is no single explanation, though some renounce because of global tax reporting and FATCA. One law adding to the mix is the IRS power to revoke passports.
The reasons for renouncing can be family, tax and legal complications. Dual citizenship isn’t always possible, as this infographic from MoveHub shows. And leaving can be expensive. Some countries have no fee, but America charges $2,350 to hand in your passport. That is more than twenty times the average of other high-income countries. The U.S. government has collected about $12.6 million in fees since the fall of 2014, after hiking its fee to renounce citizenship by 422%. Some renouncers write why they gave up their U.S. citizenship. Read the rest of this entry »
The federal government collected $1,476,218,000,000 in the first half of fiscal year 2016.
Ali Meyer reports: Inflation-adjusted federal tax revenues hit a record $1.48 trillion for the first half of fiscal year 2016, but the federal government still ran a $461 billion deficit during that time, according to the latest monthly Treasury Department statement.
Treasury receipts include tax revenue from individual income taxes, corporate income taxes, social insurance and retirement taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, excise taxes, estate and gift taxes, customs duties, and other miscellaneous items.
In the first half of fiscal 2016, which included the months of October, November, December, January, February, and March, the amount of taxes collected by the federal government outpaced the first half of all previous fiscal years, even after adjusting for inflation. Read the rest of this entry »
Japan’s purchases will help soothe lingering concerns that U.S. bond prices could decline as China slows its buying.
“China is currently the 800-pound gorilla in the U.S. Treasury market. However, it is not the only gorilla in the jungle.”
In reclaiming its status as the largest foreign creditor to America in U.S. official data, Japan is reasserting itself as Beijing holds its Treasury portfolio steady amid a weakening Chinese economy.
“U.S. debt bears higher yields than government bonds offered in other rich nations, thanks to the perception of stronger U.S. growth prospects and to central-bank bond purchases that have driven yields near zero across Europe and in Japan.”
Private investors and official institutions in Japan owned $1.2244 trillion of U.S. government securities at the end of February, compared with $1.2386 trillion at the end of January, according to the latest monthly data released by the Treasury on Wednesday.
China held $1.2237 trillion of Treasury debt at the end of February, compared with $1.2391 trillion a month earlier.
Over the past year, Japan has boosted its holdings by a net $13.6 billion, while China’s holdings dropped by $49.2 billion.
“The single largest holder of U.S. long-term debt is the Federal Reserve, with more than $2 trillion. The amount has surged from $755 billion at the end of 2007, fueled by Fed purchases of long-term securities in response to the financial crisis”.
The Treasury data, released with a two-month lag, don’t capture all of the Treasury-bond holdings China may have parked at middlemen in places such as the U.K. and Belgium. Many analysts and investors believe China has considerable holdings bought through such intermediaries. The Treasury notes on its website that “it is difficult to draw precise conclusions about changes in the foreign holdings of U.S. financial assets by individual countries” from the capital-flow data.
“The shift also reflects changes sweeping China. The world’s most-populous nation has in recent months largely held its Treasury portfolio in place, reflecting a slowdown in the growth of its $3.73 trillion foreign-exchange reserve, the world’s largest, and an effort to shift those reserves toward higher-yielding assets.”
The Japanese purchases have helped drive long-term U.S. bond yields near record lows despite an economic expansion that averaged 2.7% annually over 2013-14. Those low yields have, in turn, helped keep down interest rates for Americans on everything from home loans to credit cards. Read the rest of this entry »
John Hayward reports: Hey, remember how a watchdog group called Cause of Action filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents pertaining to the investigation of taxpayer information handed over to the White House by the IRS, and the request went nowhere, so they sued, and a judge told the Treasury Department they had to cough up the documents, and then the Treasury Inspector General was all like, “Oh, wow, we’ve got 2,500 pages of documents on this deal, so we need a little more time to finish going through them before we hand them over?”
If it wasn’t so bad – if there wasn’t a ‘smidgen of corruption’ – why try so hard to keep these records silent?”
Never mind about seeing those documents, peons. The Administration has decided not to hand them over after all, citing a statute that basically says the privacy of the people whose privacy the White House violated would be violated by revealing details of the White House violation to the public. It all sounds pretty fishy to Cause of Action, as quoted in the Washington Examiner:
Dan Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action, said Treasury was using “sophisticated” lawyering to weasel out of providing the documents. And he noted that their letter said that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is now looking into “potential liability” that his tax aides broke laws in sharing taxpayer information with the White House. Read the rest of this entry »
“He stated he is aware it is against government rules and regulations, but he often does not have enough work to do and has free time.”
For the Washington Times, Jim McElhatton reports: For one Federal Communications Commission worker, his porn habit at work was easy to explain: Things were slow, he told investigators, so he perused it “out of boredom” — for up to eight hours each week.
…In other news, the CIA is spying on the Senate, the president is assassinating American citizens, our governors are ungovernable, our cops are criminals, our corruption investigations are corrupt, our anti-crime programs are criminal enterprises, the IRS agents charged with keeping nonprofits from turning into fronts for crass and illegal political campaigns have turned the agency into a front for a crass and illegal political campaign, our Border Patrol agents are engaged in human trafficking . . .
But let’s talk about porn…(read more)
Lack of work has emerged time and again in federal investigations, and it’s not just porn, nor is it confined to the FCC. Across government, employees caught wasting time at work say they simply didn’t have enough work to do, according to investigation records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
Robert W. Wood reports: America is a great land and lures immigrants worldwide, yet record numbers of U.S. citizens and permanent residents are giving up their citizenship or residency. For all the immigrant arrivals the trickle the other direction is increasing. The number is still small, with the “published” expatriates for the quarter was 630 for the last quarter or 2013.
That brings the total number to 2,999 for all of 2013. The previous record high for a year was 1,781 set in 2011. It’s a 221% increase over the 932 who left in 2012. You can call it a shaming or a public record, but the Treasury Department is required to publish a quarterly list of Americans who renounced their U.S. Citizenship or terminated their long-term U.S. residency. The public outing puts Americans on notice who relinquished their rights.
Those seem like tiny numbers, yet the total thus far for 2013 is 2,369. See Number of Taxpayers Who Renounced U.S. Citizenship Skyrockets to All-Time Record High, quoting Andrew Mitchel. Under U.S. tax law, it is not relevant why someone expatriates. Whether the expatriation was motivated by tax avoidance or something else used to matter, but the law was changed in 2004.
Ali Meyer reports: The debt of the U.S. government has increased $6.666 trillion since President Barack Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009, according to the latest numbers released by the Treasury Department.
When President Obama was first inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009, the debt of the U.S. government was $10,626,877,048,913.08, according to theTreasury Department’s Bureau of the Public Debt. As of Jan. 31, 2014, the latest day reported, the debt was $17,293,019,654,983.61—an increase of $6,666,142,606,070.53 since Obama’s first inauguration.
‘Misery Index’ Worst in 40 Years
Paul Bedard writes: Don’t believe the happy talk coming out of the White House, Federal Reserve and Treasury Department when it comes to the real unemployment rate and the true “Misery Index.” Because, according to an influential Wall Street advisor, the figures are a fraud.
In a memo to clients provided to Secrets, David John Marotta calculates the actual unemployment rate of those not working at a sky-high 37.2 percent, not the 6.7 percent advertised by the Fed, and the Misery Index at over 14, not the 8 claimed by the government.
Matt Egan reports: China stepped up its purchases of U.S. government debt late last year, increasing its holdings of Treasurys to an all-time record of $1.317 trillion in November, government data released this week revealed.
The statistics underscore how reliant the U.S. and Chinese economies are on one another even as political tensions occasionally emerge.
According to figures inadvertently released Wednesday evening on the U.S. Treasury Department website, China’s holdings of Treasurys increased by 0.9% in November to $1.317 trillion, up from $1.305 trillion in October. Year-over-year, China’s holdings rose 11.3% from $1.183 trillion.
Tim Cavanaugh writes: Although President Barack Obama and the establishment media routinely describe a potential federal default as “unprecedented,” the United States government has flaked on its debt service several times, and one expert says the current default has already begun.
The historical default precedents should be of limited comfort to Obama, however. One of the deadbeat presidents was the commander in chief during a disastrous war that saw Washington, D.C. occupied and the White House burned to the ground. The other was Jimmy Carter.
According to Connie Cass of Associated Press, the U.S. government “briefly stiffed some of its creditors on at least two occasions.” The first default took place in November 1814, during the administration of James Madison, America’s tiniest chief executive. Just a few months after the British conquest of Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812, the Treasury was unable to move enough precious metal to service its debt, and missed interest payments on bonds. Boston bondholders, according to Wayne State College history professor Don Hickey, were paid off in short-term interest-bearing treasury notes or more bonds. These debt service troubles, and the war, were resolved within a few months.
Gordon G. Chang reports: Just about everyone worries that Beijing, perturbed by the ongoing squabble inWashington, will sour on Treasuries. This concern is embedded in the provocative title of Eamonn Fingleton’s recent Forbes posting: “If Republicans Want to Shut Down Washington, They’ll Have to Ask China’s Permission First.”
The Republicans in fact did not seek Beijing’s approval, and neither did Democrats. Are both sides making a mistake by not taking into account China’s “feelings,” as the Communist Party demands everyone do?
It’s clear Chinese officials are watching closely. “The United States, the world’s sole superpower, has engaged in irresponsible spending for years,” observed Xinhua News Agency in an editorial on Wednesday. “With no political unity to redress its policy mistake, a dysfunctional Washington is now overspending the confidence in its leadership.”
The official organ’s warning, entitled “On Guard Against Spillover of Irresponsible U.S. Politics,” hints that Beijing leaders are thinking of further diversifying their portfolios away from dollar-denominated debt. If the Chinese don’t continue buying Treasury securities, the Federal government will have to find others to take up the slack. Many, including the respected Congressional Research Service,argue that Treasury may then have to pay substantially more for borrowed funds and higher interests rates could result in lower long-term growth. Read the rest of this entry »
“The Obama administration’s decision to give corporate America a free pass on the employer mandate while continuing to force average, everyday Americans to abide by the law is deeply disturbing”Posted: July 3, 2013
By Alexis Levinson
Businesses won’t be fined for not providing health insurance to their employees for one more year, the Obama administration said Tuesday evening, announcing that they would delay the implementation of that mandate in the Affordable Care Act until 2015 — after the midterm elections.
A blog post by White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett on the White House blog explained that the goal of the postponement is to help “[cut] the red tape” in the “reporting process” for employers, and to give employers “more time to comply.” The changes come as a response to concerns expressed in “ongoing discussions with businesses” that “you need the time to get this right,” Jarrett wrote.
“It will allow us to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law,” wrote Mark Mazur, assistant secretary for Tax Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, in announcing the decision. “Second, it will provide time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees.”
Mazur promised “guidance” on the new timeline later this week.
By postponing the implementation of the mandate until 2015, the White House potentially spares Democratic candidates in 2014 — including several vulnerable Democratic senators seeking re-election in red states — from attacks surrounding the implementation of the law during the midterm elections. Republicans have already made clear that they will attack Democrats relentlessly on Obamacare and its implementation.
“This announcement means even the Obama administration knows the ‘train wreck’ will only get worse,” Speaker of the House John Boehner said in a statement Tuesday evening, quoting Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, one of the architects of the law, who expressed concern about a “train wreck coming down” if more work was not done to educate the public on implementation of the law.