Tidbits Quotations
To Accompany the July 6, 2011 edition of Tidbits
Bob Jensen at Trinity University

"The Deficit Is Worse Than We Think:  Normal interest rates would raise debt-service costs by $4.9 trillion over 10 years, dwarfing the savings from any currently contemplated budget deal," by Lawrence B. Lindsey, The Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2011 ---

Washington is struggling to make a deal that will couple an increase in the debt ceiling with a long-term reduction in spending. There is no reason for the players to make their task seem even more Herculean than it already is. But we should be prepared for upward revisions in official deficit projections in the years ahead—even if a deal is struck. There are at least three major reasons for concern.

First, a normalization of interest rates would upend any budgetary deal if and when one should occur. At present, the average cost of Treasury borrowing is 2.5%. The average over the last two decades was 5.7%. Should we ramp up to the higher number, annual interest expenses would be roughly $420 billion higher in 2014 and $700 billion higher in 2020.

The 10-year rise in interest expense would be $4.9 trillion higher under "normalized" rates than under the current cost of borrowing. Compare that to the $2 trillion estimate of what the current talks about long-term deficit reduction may produce, and it becomes obvious that the gains from the current deficit-reduction efforts could be wiped out by normalization in the bond market.

To some extent this is a controllable risk. The Federal Reserve could act aggressively by purchasing even more bonds, or targeting rates further out on the yield curve, to slow any rise in the cost of Treasury borrowing. Of course, this carries its own set of risks, not the least among them an adverse reaction by our lenders. Suffice it to say, though, that given all that is at stake, Fed interest-rate policy will increasingly have to factor in the effects of any rate hike on the fiscal position of the Treasury.

The second reason for concern is that official growth forecasts are much higher than what the academic consensus believes we should expect after a financial crisis. That consensus holds that economies tend to return to trend growth of about 2.5%, without ever recapturing what was lost in the downturn.

But the president's budget of February 2011 projects economic growth of 4% in 2012, 4.5% in 2013, and 4.2% in 2014. That budget also estimates that the 10-year budget cost of missing the growth estimate by just one point for one year is $750 billion. So, if we just grow at trend those three years, we will miss the president's forecast by a cumulative 5.2 percentage points and—using the numbers provided in his budget—incur additional debt of $4 trillion. That is the equivalent of all of the 10-year savings in Congressman Paul Ryan's budget, passed by the House in April, or in the Bowles-Simpson budget plan.

Third, it is increasingly clear that the long-run cost estimates of ObamaCare were well short of the mark because of the incentive that employers will have under that plan to end private coverage and put employees on the public system. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has already issued 1,400 waivers from the act's regulations for employers as large as McDonald's to stop them from dumping their employees' coverage.

But a recent McKinsey survey, for example, found that 30% of employers with plans will likely take advantage of the system, with half of the more knowledgeable ones planning to do so. If this survey proves correct, the extra bill for taxpayers would be roughly $74 billion in 2014 rising to $85 billion in 2019, thanks to the subsidies provided to individuals and families purchasing coverage in the government's insurance exchanges.

Underestimating the long-term budget situation is an old game in Washington. But never have the numbers been this large.

There is no way to raise taxes enough to cover these problems. The tax-the-rich proposals of the Obama administration raise about $700 billion, less than a fifth of the budgetary consequences of the excess economic growth projected in their forecast. The whole $700 billion collected over 10 years would not even cover the difference in interest costs in any one year at the end of the decade between current rates and the average cost of Treasury borrowing over the last 20 years.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on entitlements are at


"Shutting Up McKinsey:  The White House vilifies a company for reporting health-care reality," The Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2011 ---

The White House routinely tries to intimidate its health-care critics, but the campaign against McKinsey & Co. is something else. The management consultants attempted to find out how U.S. business will respond to the government restructuring of 17.3% of the economy, Democrats don't like the results, and so McKinsey must pay with its reputation.

The firm's sin was to canvass some 1,300 companies and report that nearly a third will "definitely" or "probably" stop offering insurance to employees after 2014, dumping them instead into ObamaCare's subsidized exchanges. McKinsey conducted the survey as part of its routine market research.

Democrats immediately blasted the results, attacked McKinsey's integrity and demanded that it release its methodology and full responses. Nancy-Ann DeParle, the deputy chief of staff who is running ObamaCare from the White House, was withering. Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus chimed in with questions like "Who are your biggest clients? Do you expect McKinsey & Co. to benefit financially from the results of this survey?"

So this week McKinsey opened its books, and what do you know, the survey was rigorous. Respondents were a representative cross-section of businesses of many sizes and across industries and regions, and the questions were impartial.

Ms. DeParle and others claimed vindication because McKinsey conceded it was not a "predictive economic analysis," while forecasters like the Congressional Budget Office think the law will have little effect on employer coverage. In other words, an analysis of business attitudes in the real world is less credible than CBO's macroeconomic models that depend on undisclosed assumptions. These are the same models that claim the stimulus "created or saved" millions of jobs.

The furor says less about McKinsey than about the politically damaging reality of the new law. As the McKinsey survey shows in detail, many businesses may be better off if they drop coverage and pay workers slightly more to compensate for fewer benefits, along with paying the new penalty for not providing insurance. Many workers earning up to $102,000 may also be better off because the ObamaCare subsidies are so much larger than the current tax break for employer coverage.

As more people partake of "free" health care, taxpayer costs will explode. Consumers will gradually lose the choice and quality of private insurance for the politically mandated policies that will be offered in most exchanges. Increasing the share of the insurance market operating under Washington command and control will increase costs and distortions in the health markets.

McKinsey's study merely echoes what economist Doug Holz-Eakin has also been shouting from the rafters about ObamaCare's impact on private coverage. Ditto for Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute. Is that left-leaning outfit now a GOP mouthpiece too? McKinsey isn't known for its partisan sympathies, and most top-drawer consulting firms deliberately avoid the political fray. Clients want intelligence, not controversy.

The White House method is nonetheless to assail even disinterested analysts as dishonest or motivated by bad faith, and the habit is especially pronounced against businesses that have something to lose. Think of the public trashing of the insurers WellPoint and Humana for accurately describing how costs will soar under the new entitlement, or the companies like AT&T and Verizon that ObamaCare forced to take huge writedowns last year.

The fact that the White House feels it must vilify businesses for telling the truth about ObamaCare shows just how destructive the law really is.

"No, You Can't Keep Your Health Insurance:  A new study by McKinsey suggests that as many as 78 million Americans could lose employer health coverage," by Grace-Marie Turner, The Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2011 ---

ObamaCare will lead to a dramatic decline in employer-provided health insurance—with as many as 78 million Americans forced to find other sources of coverage.

This disturbing finding is based on my calculations from a survey by McKinsey & Company. The survey, published this week in the McKinsey Quarterly, found that up to 50% of employers say they will definitely or probably pursue alternatives to their current health-insurance plan in the years after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act takes effect in 2014. An estimated 156 million non-elderly Americans get their coverage at work, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Before the health law passed, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that only nine million to 10 million people, or about 7% of employees who currently get health insurance at work, would switch to government-subsidized insurance. But the McKinsey survey of 1,300 employers across industries, geographies and employer sizes found "that reform will provoke a much greater response" and concludes that the health overhaul law will lead to a "radical restructuring" of job-based health coverage.

Another McKinsey analyst, Alissa Meade, told a meeting of health-insurance executives last November that "something in the range of 80 million to 100 million individuals are going to change coverage categories in the two years" after the insurance mandates take effect in 2014.

Many employees who will need to seek another source of coverage will take advantage of the health-insurance subsidies for families making as much as $88,000 a year. This will drive up the cost of ObamaCare.

In a study last year, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, estimated that an additional 35 million workers would be moved out of employer plans and into subsidized coverage, and that this would add about $1 trillion to the total cost of the president's health law over the next decade. McKinsey's survey implies that the cost to taxpayers could be significantly more.

The McKinsey study, "How US health care reform will affect employee benefits," predicts that employers will either drop coverage altogether, offer defined contributions for insurance, or offer coverage only to certain employees. The study concludes that 30% of employers overall will definitely or probably stop offering health insurance to their workers. However, among employers with a high awareness of the health-reform law, this proportion increases to more than 50%.

The employer incentives to alter or cease coverage under the health-reform law are strong. According to the study, at least 30% of employers would gain economically from dropping coverage, even if they completely compensated employees for the change through other benefit offerings or higher salaries. That's because they no longer would be tethered to health-insurance costs that consistently rise faster than inflation.

Employers should think twice if they believe the fine for not offering coverage will stay unchanged at $2,000 per worker. "If many companies drop health insurance coverage, the government could increase the employer penalty or raise taxes," according to the new study, authored by McKinsey consultants Shubham Singhal, Jeris Stueland and Drew Ungerman.

Continued in article

"Look who's getting out of ObamaCare," by Michelle Malkin, New York Post, May 19, 2011 --- Click Here

Hear that? It's the escalating cry of American employers and workers trying to hold on to their health-care benefits in the age of stifling Obama health-insurance mandates: Gangway! Gangway! Save me! Waive me!

ObamaCare refugees first began beating down the exit doors last October. Waiver-mania started with McDonald's and Jack in the Box; spread to Dish Networks, hair-salon chain Regis Corp and resort giant Universal Orlando; took hold among major Big Labor outfits from the AFL-CIO to the CWA to the SEIU; roped in the nationalized health-care promoters at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; and is now gripping entire states

The latest to catch the waive? West Coast liberals.

Yes, amid House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's congressional district, a cluster of San Francisco small businesses is among the latest waiver recipients. At least two dozen Bay Area companies -- including bars, restaurants, hotels, tourist shops, real-estate and auto firms -- have secured temporary, one-year reprieves from the federal law.

Another noteworthy waiver winner: Seattle-based REI. The trendy outdoor-equipment retailer's progressive CEO, Sally Jewell, appeared with President Obama in 2009 to tout White House health-care-reform initiatives. Two years later, REI snagged a waiver to protect the health benefits of a whopping 1,180 workers from the big-government bureaucrats that Jewell embraced at Obama's roundtable.

To date, the Health and Human Services Department has granted health-care-law exemptions to more than 3 million workers covered by more than 1,300 unions, companies and insurers who'd voluntarily offered low-cost health plans with annual benefits limits.

ObamaCare architects outlawed those private plans (nicknamed "mini med" plans) in the name of "patients' rights." Without waivers, the escapees would have had to hike premiums or drop insurance coverage for mostly low-wage, seasonal and part-time workers.

Among the most recent union affiliates to secure pardons:

* Teamsters Local 485 Health and Welfare Fund in Brooklyn

* Detroit and Vicinity Trowel Trades Health and Welfare Fund

* Communications Workers of America Local 1182 Security Benefits Fund

* CWA Local 1183 Health and Welfare Fund

* Bakers Union and Food Employees Labor Relations Association Health and Welfare Fund

* SEIU Healthcare Illinois Home Care and Child Care Fund

* United Food and Commercial Workers San Diego Employers Health and Welfare Trust

* Welfare Fund of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 15, 15A, 15C, 15D AFL-CIO

* United Steelworkers Local 1-0318 Health and Welfare Trust Fund

* United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices Local 198 AFL-CIO Health and Welfare Trust

* Teamsters Local 617 Welfare Fund in Ridgefield, NJ

* Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 60 Health and Welfare Fund

* New York State Nurses Welfare Plan for New York City Employed Registered Professional Nurses

Pelosi and the Golden Ticket Administrators in Washington deny preferential treatment for waiver beneficiaries. But the stench of waivers-for-favors won't be dispelled until and unless the Obama administration releases a full list not only of those who won exemptions, but also of those who applied and were denied.

With San Francisco businesses caught with their hands in the waiver jar, Pelosi's office could do nothing else but pout: "It is pathetic," said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill, "that there are those who would be cheering for Americans to lose their minimum health coverage or see their premiums increase for political purposes."

It is far more pathetic to have cheered, as Pelosi did on the one-year anniversary of ObamaCare, the law's onerous benefits limits from which thousands of her own constituents have now been exempted.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on health care are at

"Another Illinois Governor Goes to Jail:  'You could cut off his head and he wouldn't be any dumber'," by Roger Simon, The Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2011 ---

Maybe it would have turned out differently if the presidential election of 2008 had had a different result: The Senate seats of Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton all had to be filled after they moved on to their new jobs. In Delaware and New York, there was little fuss. In Chicago, there was a felony.

President Obama, as nominal head of his party, had a perfect right to tell Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich whom he favored to fill his seat, and his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, "conveyed the merits of several people," according to the White House's official report.

Mr. Obama wanted his close friend and adviser, Valerie Jarrett, to get the plum job. But he was not willing to pay for it or give the governor a cabinet job or an ambassadorship in return.

Blago was outraged. "For nothing?" he says on the tapes, played for the jury at his trials. He curses the president. And then he gets an idea. Maybe he can make an end-run to the first lady. "He's a lot more henpecked than me," Blago says. "He listens to Michelle."

Continued in article

"Dr. Bacevich's Quackery:  If you think American kids are ignorant about history, wait till you get a load of this historian," by James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2011 ---

Andrew Bacevich, a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, has an innovative foreign-policy theory. "At periodic intervals," he argues in a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece, "the American body politic" succumbs to "war fever," which he defines as "a sort of delirium" whose symptoms are "delusions of grandeur and demented behavior."

He offers a medical history beginning with the Spanish-American War: "Gripped by such a fever in 1898, Americans evinced an irrepressible impulse to liberate oppressed Cubans." Once it was all over, "no one could quite explain what had happened or why."

Then, "in 1917, the fever suddenly returned. Amid wild ravings about waging a war to end war, Americans lurched off to France. This time the affliction passed quickly, although the course of treatment proved painful: confinement to the charnel house of the Western Front, followed by bitter medicine administered at Versailles."

This account of America's entry into World War I is incomplete, to say the least. It ignores that the debate over the U.S. role in the war had gone on for years. President Wilson had striven to preserve U.S. neutrality, declining to enter the war and attempting to mediate a peaceful settlement even after the German sinking of the British passenger ship Lusitania in 1915, which killed 128 Americans.

Further, although there was "bitter medicine administered at Versailles in 1919," it was not the U.S. that had to choke it down. The heavy reparations imposed at Versailles failed to pacify the Germans, leading to . . . well, nothing, in Bacevich's account.

Bacevich's medical history skips straight to the 1960s, which "brought another bout" of the fever. World War II? Korea? Nope, nothing much happened until "an overwhelming urge . . . landed Americans in Vietnam." Fortunately, Saigon fell to the communists, which "seemed, for a brief interval, to inoculate the body politic against any further recurrence." Unfortunately, "the salutary effects of this 'Vietnam syndrome' proved fleeting."

"By the time the Cold War ended," Bacevich recounts, "Americans were running another temperature, their self-regard reaching impressive new heights." He does not elaborate, but we remember the 1990s as a fairly peaceful time.

"Then came 9/11, and the fever simply soared off the charts. The messiah nation was really pissed and was going to fix things once and for all." So "Washington set out to redeem the greater Middle East. . . . Half a dozen years ago, 'wars of choice' were all the rage in Washington."

Were they really? Half a dozen years ago would be 2005, two years after Iraq was liberated from Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. By that time, there was no clamor for more "wars of choice." To the contrary, opposition was mounting to the continuing American presence in Iraq. The next "war of choice" didn't begin until just a few months ago, in Libya. (Bacevich obliquely acknowledges that last point, writing that "the post-9/11 fever . . . lingers most strongly in the Obama White House, where a keenness to express American ideals by dropping bombs persists"--though our recollection is that the "keenness" for intervention in Libya emanated from the State Department rather than the White House.)

Describing the complexities of American military intervention as a "fever" is, at best, an extremely simple-minded metaphor, the sort of thinking one might expect from a Cindy Sheehan or a Michael Moore rather than a serious academic. But to call it simple-minded gives it too much credit. Consider this passage:

Of course, at the first signs of self-restraint, you can always count on the likes of Sen. John McCain or the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal to decry (in McCain's words) an "isolationist-withdrawal-lack-of-knowledge-of-history attitude." In such quarters, fever is a permanent condition, and it's always 104 and rising.

A fever cannot be "always 104 and rising." Either it hits 105 or it stops rising. Bacevich's command of arithmetic is as poor as his command of history. His diagnosis is sheer quackery.


I generally disagree with the very liberal Professor Alan Blinder from Princeton. But these days he's making a bit more sense than either the far left or the far right.

"The GOP Myth of 'Job-Killing' Spending:  Drastic expenditure cuts would imperil a shaky economy that still isn't generating enough jobs," by Alan S. Blinder, The Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2011 ---

. . .

Yet it is undeniable that we have a tremendous long-run deficit problem to deal with—and the sooner, the better. So it appears we're caught in a dilemma: We need both more spending (or lower taxes) to create jobs and less spending (or higher taxes) to tame the deficit monster. Can we square the circle?

Actually, yes. Suppose we enacted a modest fiscal stimulus program specifically designed for maximum job creation. My personal favorite is a tax credit for firms that add to their payrolls, but there are other options. And suppose we combined that with a serious plan for reducing future deficits—and enacted the whole package now. Then we could, in a sense, have our cake and eat it, too.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
The City of Milwaukee (that has the highest rate of unemployment of African Americans) has a program discussed on June 20 by ABC News. The City pays employers for on-the-job training of unskilled workers who then have a better shot at finding work as skilled workers rather than totally unskilled workers. Included are a proportion of felons released from prison that show promise as being committed to work and family. Some workers have become so good that they are kept on by the employer trainers much like employers often extend job offers to selected interns.

Of course this does no solve the underlying problem caused by wage differentials in Milwaukee versus Mexico. Harley Davidson, for example, moved most of its Milwaukee factories to Mexico. Here's where more incentives to bring factories back to Milwaukee would help in finding work for newly-trained skilled workers.

". . . And the Climate Tort Cashiered Justice Ginsburg's finest hour," The Wall Street Journal, June 21, 2011 ---

Yesterday's other important Supreme Court decision (see above) came in a case that joined the green lobby and the trial bar, if that isn't redundant. The Court unanimously struck down one of the legal left's most destructive theories, and not a moment too soon.

In American Electric Power v. Connecticut, eight states and various other environmental activists sued a group of utilities, claiming that their carbon emissions were a "nuisance" under federal common law and that therefore the courts should set U.S. global warming policy. Yet this is a fundamentally political question, one the Constitution reserves to Congress and the executive, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the 8-0 majority.

The Court "remains mindful that it does not have creative power akin to that vested in Congress," Justice Ginsburg observed, in an all-too-rare vindication of legal restraint. "It is altogether fitting that Congress designated an expert agency, here, EPA, as best suited to serve as primary regulator of greenhouse gas emissions. The expert agency is surely better equipped to do the job than individual district judges issuing ad hoc, case-by-case injunctions. Federal judges lack the scientific, economic, and technological resources an agency can utilize in coping with issues of this order."

We'd go further and point out that Congress never granted the Environmental Protection Agency the power to regulate CO2. The EPA has merely asserted that power with an assist from the pure policy invention of the Court itself in 2006's 5-4 Mass. v. EPA ruling. Still, the fact that every Justice rejected the new climate tort theory, and that the opinion was delivered by the most liberal Justice, shows how abusive it really was.

The Court dismissed the case under the "political question doctrine," but we wish it had resolved the technical issue of Article III standing, which determines when a plaintiff has a right to sue. The Justices were split four to four, and thus did not rule; Justice Sonia Sotomayor recused herself because she heard the case on the Second Circuit. Yet standing is one of the few restraints on the power of the federal courts, and the litigants didn't have it by a mile here.

Under the traditional legal reading of standing, plaintiffs have to show that the defendants caused their injuries and that the courts can meaningfully redress those injuries. But climate change is a world-wide phenomenon for which the group of utilities barely contributed even under the most aggressive global warmist theories. And even if the courts shut down those plants tomorrow, it would have no effect whatsoever on atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

Continued in article

"The Accountable Care Fiasco Even the models for health reform hate the new HHS rule," The Wall Street Journal, June 20, 2011 ---

The Obama Administration is handing out waivers far and wide for its health-care bill, but behind the scenes the bureaucracy is grinding ahead writing new regulations. The latest example is the rule for Accountable Care Organizations that are supposed to be the crown jewel of cost-saving reform. One problem: The draft rule is so awful that even the models for it say they won't participate. ***

The theory for ACOs, as they're known, is that hospitals, primary-care doctors and specialists will work more efficiently in teams, like at the Mayo Clinic and other top U.S. hospitals. ACOs are meant to fix health care's too-many-cooks predicament. The average senior on Medicare sees two physicians and five specialists, 13 on average for those with chronic illnesses. Most likely, those doctors aren't coordinating patient care.

This fragmentation is largely an artifact of Medicare's price control regime: The classic case study is Duke University Hospital, which cut the costs of treating congestive heart failure by 40% but then dumped the integration program because it lost money under Medicare's fee schedule.

Intelligent liberals now concede this reality but claim that the government merely needs to devise better price controls. By changing the way it pays, Medicare under the ACO rule is effectively mandating a new business model for practicing medicine. The vague cost-control hope is that ACOs will run pilot programs like Duke's and the successful ones will become best practices. While the program is voluntary for now, the government's intention is to make it mandatory in the coming years.

But what if they had an ACO revolution and no one showed up? The American Medical Group Association, a trade association of multispeciality practice groups and other integrated providers, calls the rule recently drafted by the Department of Health and Human Services "overly prescriptive, operationally burdensome, and the incentives are too difficult to achieve." In a survey of its members, 93% said they won't enroll.

The Administration wrote its rule based on an ACO pilot program that started in 2005 among 10 high-performing physician groups, including Geisinger Health System and Dartmouth-Hitchcock. All 10 say they have "serious reservations" about the new rule and that without major revisions "we will be unable to participate." In other words, the providers that are already closest to being an ACO have rejected the Administration's handiwork.

And no wonder, since the 429-page rule is a classic of top-down micromanagement. ACOs will need to comply with a kitchen sink of 65 clinical measures that are meant to produce efficiencies, like reducing infections or ensuring that patients take their medications after hospital discharge. If care at an ACO costs less than Medicare predicts it will cost under the status quo, then the ACO will receive a share of the savings as a bonus payment. The rule also includes financial penalties if an ACO misses its targets.

Incredibly, the ACO teams won't know in advance which patients they're supposed to manage. Seniors will be "retrospectively assigned" to an ACO at the end of every year, based on an arbitrary algorithm, for the purposes of calculating costs.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on health care are at


The United States Constitution
"One Document, Under Siege," by Richard Stengle, Time Magazine Cover Story, June 23, 2011 ---
The comments beginning on Page 5 of the online article reveal that Stengle is a lousy and biased journalist and researcher.
As a college essay in a history course this article would get an F.

"Time Magazine's Buffoonery Exposed," by Thomas Lifson, The American Thinker, June 28, 2011 ---

"Thirteen Clear Factual Errors in Richard Stengel’s Essay on the Constitution" ( regarding a Cover Story in Time Magazine),
by Aaron Worthing; Patterico, June 28, 2011

Late last week, I fisked Richard Stengel’s Time Magazine cover story  One Document, Under Seige(update: click here for the one page version) but it deserves more discussion.  I consider it nothing less than a journalistic scandal that this piece was (1) a cover story, (2) written by their Managing Editor, (3) who serves in an organization dedicated to teaching other journalists about the Constitution, and yet it is rife with factual errors, including many that are obvious simply by reading the Constitution.

My mistake in the last post on the subject was trying to catalogue everything wrong with it, leading me to take issue with his philosophy, too and thus what got lost for some was the simple fact that Stengel was clearly factually wrong on many points, often when the facts could be determined by doing nothing more than reading the Constitution.

So this time, we are going to focus solely on the factual errors.  There are thirteen of them and like the lawyer that I am, I will start off with his most egregious error and end with the least egregious.  Here are the thirteen errors, in short:

  1. The Constitution does not limit the Federal Government.
  2. The Constitution is not law.
  3. The Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment emancipated the slaves.
  4. The Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment granted the right to vote to African Americans.
  5. The original Constitution declared that black people were to be counted as three-fifths of a person.
  6. That the original, unamended Constitution prohibited women from voting.
  7. Inter arma enim silent leges translates as “in time of war, the Constitution is silent.”
  8. The War Powers Act allows the president to unilaterally wage war for sixty days.
  9. We have only declared war five times.
  10. Alexander Hamilton wanted a king for America.
  11. Social Security is a debt within the meaning of Section Four of the Fourteenth Amendment.
  12. Naturalization depends on your birth.
  13. The Obamacare mandate is a tax.

When I am done with this post, I am going to make a bleg where I ask you to try to help get out the word about this egregiously incorrect cover story.  So stay tuned to the end (or jump ahead if you feel like it).

But first here, point-by-point, is proof that each one of those statements are errors.

False Claim #1: The Constitution does not limit the Federal Government.

The relevant passage:

If the Constitution was intended to limit the federal government, it sure doesn’t say so. Article I, Section 8, the longest section of the longest article of the Constitution, is a drumroll of congressional power. And it ends with the “necessary and proper” clause, which delegates to Congress the power “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.” Limited government indeed.

(Emphasis added.)  [Update: If you want to check the veracity of my quotes from Stengel's piece, I suggest you use this single-page version of the piece, and then perform a Control-F search.]

Proof that he is wrong: The Constitution is filled with limitations on Federal Power.  For instance, Article I, Section 9 says:

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.  [A.W.: They’re talking about the slave trade.]

The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another….

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States[.]

And then there is Article III, Section 3, limiting what the government can do to a traitor:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

It should be noted that Corruption of Blood is a doctrine by which the family of a traitor would suffer because of their alleged corrupted blood, so this is limiting the government’s ability to punish the children of a traitor for his or her treason.

And then there is the Bill of Rights.  As I noted last time, Mr. Stengel considered them as of a piece with the original Constitution, an interpretation I concurred with.  Every single one of them represents a limitation on federal power, so it is sufficient to only quote a few of them:

Amendment 1

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment 2

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.


Amendment 9

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment 10

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

So contrary to his suggestion, the Constitution does indeed limit the power of the Federal Government, a point most of us learned in elementary school.

False Claim #2: The Constitution is not law.

The relevant passage:

Originalists contend that the Constitution has a clear, fixed meaning. But the framers argued vehemently about its meaning. For them, it was a set of principles, not a code of laws. A code of laws says you have to stop at the red light; a constitution has broad principles that are unchanging but that must accommodate each new generation and circumstance.

Continued in article


Nadya Suleman --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadya_Suleman
'I hate my babies and my older children are animals,' says Octomom Nadya Suleman (35 year old welfare mother of 14 children), Daily Mail, June 29, 2011 ---


Bob Jensen's universal health care messaging --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Health.htm

Bob Jensen's Tidbits Archives ---

Bob Jensen's Pictures and Stories

Shielding Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave ---

·     With a Rejoinder from the 2010 Senior Editor of The Accounting Review (TAR), Steven J. Kachelmeier

·     With Replies in Appendix 4 to Professor Kachemeier by Professors Jagdish Gangolly and Paul Williams

·     With Added Conjectures in Appendix 1 as to Why the Profession of Accountancy Ignores TAR

·     With Suggestions in Appendix 2 for Incorporating Accounting Research into Undergraduate Accounting Courses

Shielding Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave  --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTAR.htm
By Bob Jensen

What went wrong in accounting/accountics research?  ---

The Sad State of Accountancy Doctoral Programs That Do Not Appeal to Most Accountants ---


Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory ---

Tom Lehrer on Mathematical Models and Statistics ---

Systemic problems of accountancy (especially the vegetable nutrition paradox) that probably will never be solved ---

Bob Jensen's economic crisis messaging http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm

Bob Jensen's threads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm

Bob Jensen's Home Page --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/