05.01.2013 1

Washington’s Weird World

By Rick Manning

Welfare payments became water cooler conversation this week as it was revealed that the Marathon bombers and their family received more than $100,000 in welfare benefits the previous year.  The Mercedes Benz driving terrorists have become one of the most effective debate points for opponents of the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill as they have raised interest and awareness about the vagaries of immigration law.

Also on the welfare/immigration front, most small government advocates were shocked to learn that the Obama Administration is actively pushing U.S. welfare benefits in offices located in Mexico.  The promotion of U.S. benefits in Mexico is particularly stunning in light of Obama’s public manipulation of the small sequester cuts to ensure maximum public inconvenience and disruption.

As America learned this week after Congress scrambled to put a full complement of air traffic controllers back to work, Obama’s sequester discretion can be challenged by Congress.   It is almost criminal that Congress is forced to pass legislation to tell Obama to use common sense and not politics in implementing the mild federal budget cuts that Obama himself supported and signed into law.

This lesson of the sequester manipulation is not completely lost on Republicans, who are working to head Obama off at the pass in the scheduled mid-May debt ceiling debate with legislation known as the Full, Faith and Credit Act.

In an attempt to take the political threat of the U.S. defaulting on our national debt off the table during the debt ceiling debate, Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee have passed legislation that would ensure the foreign held debt is one of the first bills paid even if our nation hits the debt ceiling.

The same law would also instruct Obama’s Treasury Department to make payments owed to the Social Security Trust Fund.

Unfortunately what it doesn’t do is instruct Obama to actually pay Grandma the Social Security payment she is owed in the event of an impasse.   In the weird world of Washington, this will allow Obama and others to falsely claim that mean old Republicans are cutting off Social Security payments.

Of course the truth is that if the Ways and Means Committee’s “Full Faith and Credit Act” does pass, the Republicans will have done everything to ensure the check gets mailed except put the stamp on the envelope.

Unfortunately, in D.C. rhetoric beats facts.  With Obama’s expertise at discounting facts in favor of a good story, and the willing lapdogs in the media letting him get away with it, don’t expect honesty to intrude in this upcoming fight.

On the economic front, Friday’s release of jobless numbers for the month of March may provide an insight into the direction the economy is headed.  After dismal unemployment data stunned Wall Street last month, another bad report might have the perverse effect of lifting the stock market as professional investors are likely less concerned about the state of the economy, and more worried that the Federal Reserve will stop juicing it.  In weird Washington and Wall Street robust job growth is bad news for all those institutional investors addicted to the monetary stimulus that only Ben Bernanke can provide.

Based upon dismal manufacturing numbers coming out of the regional Federal Reserve Banks, it doesn’t appear that Uncle Ben will be slowing the money spigot any time soon.

Just another twist in a wacky world where government and central banks think they can game the economy forever, becoming the first in history to beat the invisible hand of the market.  As Rocky once said to Bulwinkle, “that trick never works.”

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the Vice President of Public Policy & Communications for Americans for Limited Government

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