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  • Our Millionaire Congress & the Top 1%

    Do you think that you could keep your job if your employer ranked your job performance at only 11%? Probably not, but it seems that Congress is doing just that. A recent Gallup poll found that only 11% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, and a whopping 86% disapprove.

    Since our legislators supposedly work for us, it looks like they are not making the cut. Adding insult to injury was a report saying that members of Congress actually got richer from 2004 to 2010, while the rest of the nation's wealth stayed flat or actually fell. So, while Congressional job performance got worse, their personal wealth grew.

    One reason that members of Congress experienced asset growth while everyone else languished may be the fact that they can trade on inside information that they get as a member of Congress - and it's perfectly legal. Knowing the status of pending legislation, regulatory actions, committee hearings, etc. means that they have a leg up on the rest of us who are prohibited from trading on inside information. If more Americans knew about this, I suspect the 11% approval rate would drop quickly.

  • Debt Ceiling Battle’s Predictable Outcome

    A political battle is looming over raising the federal debt ceiling limit which we will hit over the coming weeks. The media warns that we could face a massive government shutdown if an agreement is not reached to raise the debt ceiling. This is nothing new, and the truth is that the debt ceiling will be increased, as always, but probably not until the last minute.

    The Republicans are hoping to extract more federal spending cuts in order to agree to raising the debt ceiling, and I predict that they will get very little in the way of meaningful cuts. Some Democrats are calling for new tax increases before increasing the debt ceiling, but this is just a bargaining ploy. Truth is, it's all politics as usual on both sides and in the end, the debt ceiling will be increased - bank on it. I suggest not paying much attention as this plays out.

    The debt ceiling political fight that will play out over the coming weeks will once again miss the point. Our national debt is spiraling out of control, and raising the debt ceiling limit does nothing to correct this problem. It just kicks the can further down the road. Frankly, I wonder if it is possible to construct a viable plan to reverse our out-of-control spending at this point. Most of our leaders in Washington are drunk on increasing federal spending.

    At some point, unfortunately, the bond market will put a violent end to this. I have written about this before, but this week, I put this discussion into a more detailed perspective. The bond market may well send interest rates soaring once again when it become clear that our politicians refuse to cut the exploding size of government spending and deficits. Not a pleasant topic to consider, but we must keep focused on it.