April 20, 2010 [LINK / comment]
Bernanke on the budget
In my blog post about tax hikes two days ago, I neglected to mention that the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Ben Bernanke, recently issued a blunt warning about the Federal budget deficit, which is growing out of control. Speaking to the Chamber of Commerce in Dallas, he said that American people will have to choose between higher taxes or cuts in entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. As reported in the Washington Post,
Barely two months after Bernanke was confirmed by Congress for a second term following a bruising fight, he used his bully pulpit to tread into an area of economic policy that is usually the province of the president and Congress.
My impression of Bernanke during the financial meltdown of 2008 was that he was a weak-willed technocrat ill-suited to stand up against the sinister forces of corruption, on Wall Street and in Washington. I hope his high-profile stance on the budget is an indication that I was wrong about him.
This comes on the heels of the admission by Bernanke's predecessor at the Fed, Alan Greenspan, that he was only right 70% of the time, a startling confession from someone whose opinions were once regarded with nearly-divine reverence. (See ABC News.) In the late 1990s, Greenspan warned of "irrational exuberance" in the financial markets, but did virtually nothing to prevent the bubble economy from over-inflating and then bursting. Bernanke seems determined not to repeat those mistakes. And as that WaPo article states, Greenspan's predecessor at the Fed, Paul Volcker, is among those advocating a Value-Added Tax, which was the subject of my blog post on Sunday.
Public broadcasting $$$
On State Senator Steve [Martin's] Facebook page, there was a debate over the use of taxpayer funds for public broadcasting. With the state budget being so tight at present, there is a real question as to whether such funding can be maintained. Here is my comment:
I agree with John Keltonic -- PBS and NPR serve a real public purpose that could never be met by a profit-oriented corporation. Are they biased toward the left? Of course NPR is, but PBS seems to try to be balanced, as some episodes of "Frontline" attest, for example. Broadcasters that get taxpayer money deserve heavy outside scrutiny, but I would oppose a total cut-off of funding.
Campaign 2010, U.K.
In Great Britain, parliamentary elections will be held in a little over two weeks, on May 6. Over the past couple years, public discontent with the ruling Labour Party has grown sharply, and there hopes that the Conservatives under would regain a majority for the first time since 1997. It's very hard to predict the outcome, however, because the third party, the Liberal Democrats, have drawn a big increase in their support, so it's anyone's guess how many seats each party will get. To do a little forecasting on your own, check out the Election seat calculator at BBC; hat tip to Shaun Kenney.
Augusta County GOP
Earlier this evening, I was at the Augusta County Republican Committee meeting, at which officers were elected for a two-year term. At the mass meeting on March 30, Bill Shirley was reelected chairman by acclamation. Likewise, at tonight's meeting, all of the officers were unopposed, and hence declared elected by by acclamation. Here are the officers for 2010-2012:
- Chairman: Bill Shirley
- Vice-chairman (programs): Craig Shrewsbury
- Vice-chairman (precinct organization): Dan Kalas
- Vice-chairwoman (communications): Zanette Hahn
- Secretary: Ruth Talmadge
- Treasurer: Emily Griffin
Mr. Shirley talked about the need to embrace conservatives of all stripes so as to build a winning coalition to preserve our freedoms. It was very encouraging that a strong, positive spirit of unity has returned at long last to the Augusta County GOP. To prevent any disturbances such as have occurred in the past, nevertheless, a security guard was present outside the door. For the future, it remains to be seen whether a working relationship can be established with the "SWAC" faction, which now controls the Staunton Republican Committee, and keeps busy in party politics elsewhere. Only a token contingent from that group was present at the meeting tonight.