April 23, 2007

Brian Wesbury Compares the Current Economy to the 1990s: Guess Which Comes out Better?

It’s a read-the-whole-thing piece. Too bad it’s subscriber-only.

Brian Wesbury, whose previous writings have been blogged on many times by yours truly (including here, here, here, and here), is very tired of the dissing the current economy is taking, and especially how it is unfavorably compared to the economy of the 1990s:

While I find it hard to believe that every complaint is politically motivated, it is difficult to imagine another justification for those who assert that the Clinton economy was better than the Bush economy.

For most Americans, who aren’t familiar with economic analysis, it’s impossible to determine what’s actually happening. But the debate over Bush versus Clinton would be silly, if it weren’t potentially influencing policy.

President Clinton took office in January 1993, almost two years after the 1990-91 recession had ended. On the other hand, President Bush took office just two months before the 2001 recession began.

As a result, any economic comparison that uses four-year presidential terms is highly misleading. The Clinton years will always look better than the Bush years with that approach. A better analysis which compares the two business cycles from their previous trough, shows the opposite. The Bush economy is equal to or better than the Clinton economy in almost every area.

Wesbury also makes a great point about the first half of the 1990s that Old Media has collectively flushed down the memory hole. When Wesbury compares that era’s economic performance to comparable current times, and the causes of the difference, you’ll see why:

There have been periods of sub-par performance, and one of those periods was the first half of the 1990s — partly thanks to the first President Bush’s and President Clinton’s tax hikes.

Many argue that President Clinton’s 1993 tax hikes did not hurt the economy, and that this proves taxes don’t matter as much as supply-siders think. But nothing could be further from the truth. During the first 64 months of the ’90s recovery, real average hourly earnings fell 0.2%, while the unemployment rate fell to 5.5%.

For the current recovery, during its first 64 months, real average hourly earnings are up 1.8%, while the unemployment rate is down to 4.4%.

….. Civilian job growth in the past five years is not statistically different than it was in the early ’90s, while wages, for every income level, have experienced better performance.

The big difference between the two periods was that tax rates were hiked in the early ’90s, while tax rates were cut in the early 2000s. And, contrary to popular belief, tax cuts, because they lift incentives to invest, always lead to a better environment for the overall population.

Wesbury has definitively shown that the tax-hiking era of the early 1990s was one where the average worker made no headway, while during the current tax-cutting era, all boats are being lifted.

If it weren’t for writers like Brian Wesbury, information like this would be a closely-guarded secret kept by the Formerly Mainstream Media, whose business-news readers have perhaps never been more poorly served.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

WashTimes to Strickland: Let Those Children Go

Filed under: Education,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:06 am

In a Sunday editorial (HT to a frequent e-mailer):

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has some explaining to do. He plans to gut the state’s school-voucher program, ending a two-year statewide experiment building upon 12 years of vouchers in the city of Cleveland.

….. How insulting. The savings: $13 million, in a two-year budget totalling (sic) $52 billion.

The governor should explain why students who happen to live in Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus or Dayton do not deserve the same opportunities as those in Cleveland. They are allowed to continue to participate in the state’s 12-year-old voucher program.

The farce of the “not enough money” line is belied by the size and scope of spending, none of which unduly punishes Mr. Strickland’s allies or deals similar death blows to programs used by groups who vote. Take teachers’ unions. This budget may not be a dream for those union bosses, but it nevertheless contains several hundred million more dollars for public schools — slated to receive a 3 percent annual budget increase. Or seniors. The budget funds burgeoning Medicaid costs. Seniors vote, remember.

The editorial also identifies several million in “squeal money” (so named because favored constituencies reacted in that manner) that was restored or added to Gov. Strickland’s original budget, and implies that one would not have to break much of a sweat to find at least $13 million in such items — enough to leave the voucher programs functioning as they currently are.

Not that yours truly has access to this kind of money, but I’m wondering, since Gov. Strickland telling us that funding is the primary issue — If enough money suddenly appeared from private donations to endow the current number of students enrolled in the voucher programs (guaranteeing that funding would remain available in future years for the same number of students), would he let them survive?

Columbus Police Officers Survive Four-Year Ordeal; State Media Snooze

Here’s the report from the Columbus Dispatch (HT American-Experience):

After four days of testimony, a federal jury took less than four hours yesterday to rule in favor of two Columbus police officers accused of excessive force in the 2003 shooting death of Daunte Miller.
….. The officers testified that they fired at Miller when he pointed a handgun at Beard during a foot chase in the Franklinton neighborhood on the afternoon of Aug. 6, 2003. Beard said he fired the fatal shot into Miller’s back when Miller stopped in a courtyard at the Riverside-Bradley housing complex and turned his head as if he were about to shoot at the officer.

….. The officers said they remain bitter that when the case was filed, it included allegations that they planted the gun on Miller and that members of the Police Division conspired to manipulate evidence.

….. Beard and Luzio were cleared of criminal wrongdoing by a Franklin County grand jury three months after the shooting. A police investigation determined that their actions were within division policy.

In the past decade, shootings by Columbus police officers have resulted in 13 lawsuits. The Miller case was the third to be heard by a federal jury, with jurors ruling in favor of the officers each time.

Cornell McCleary at American-Experience, who was actively involved in investigating the incident after it occurred, weighs in with strong criticisms of “so-called black community leaders” and Columbus’s Mayor. Based on the absurdly quick result obtained from the justice system, those criticisms appear to be richly deserved.

Why this story appears to not even be showing up on the radar of Ohio’s other Old Media newspapers is a mystery. Who thinks that the rest of Ohio’s newspapers would be giving this story the silent treatment if the verdict had gone the other way?

The Project to Post Activities by Foreign-Entity Lobbyists Online May Be Nearing Completion

Filed under: OH-02 US House,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:01 am

It can’t happen soon enough. From The Hill last week (link to Sunlight Foundation Real Time Investigations post added by me):

No more 50 cents per copy. No more limited opening hours. And no more flashing ID just to enter the reading room. The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) database is expected to go online soon.

The Department of Justice database is an exhaustive list of lobbyists representing foreign governments and politicians. For the online project, over 80,000 documents detailing contracts, meetings with public officials, and public-relations campaigns will be put on the Internet. Previously, that information was available only in Justice’s dusty public reading room at 1400 New York Ave.

But Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), a forceful advocate for putting the FARA records online, said yesterday the project is lagging.

….. Schmidt and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) have held several discussions with Justice since early 2006 on putting up the database. But Justice officials asked the representatives to avoid legislating on the issue by convincing them that the department would post the records in 2007.

Schmidt, while disappointed, would not say Justice was late on its word. But she added, “I don’t think they will be late until it is the half-year. Then I think they will be late.”

Schmidt’s comment came on the heels of a recent report in the Sunlight Foundation’s blog, Real Time Investigations, which quoted unnamed FARA officials saying the database would be on the Internet in “three or four months.”

….. Congress passed FARA in 1938 to keep track of German propaganda agents in the United States before World War II. Currently, individuals representing foreign governments, political parties, politicians and even majority government-owned companies, like the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, are expected to register with Justice.

FARA is much more extensive in its requirements than the Lobbying Disclosure Act, and requires reporting not only of lobbying activities but also of public-relations efforts.

According to Boyd, the revamped website will have a search portal granting online access to FARA’s scanned documents as well as certain statistical data that was not previously available to the public. Lobbyists and other foreign registrants, however, will still not be able to file their forms electronically.

Ms. Schmidt and residents of Ohio’s Second Congressional District have a special reason to be “FARA-ly” concerned about the progress of this project.

If FARA had been online in the Spring of 2005, reporters, bloggers, and others could easily have learned of the activities of one foreign government-representing lobbyist in particular — one who was for a time the leading candidate to win the District’s GOP congressional nomination in its June 2005 Special Election Primary. Instead, it took an investigative report by then-Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Bill Sloat a year later, in April of 2006 (during the second campaign in which that person, who tried to portray himself as a Reagan Republican, tried to win a Second District GOP primary) for voters to learn that this person had represented the Marxist, Christian-persecuting state of Eritrea for a monthly fee of $15,000 in late 2004.

If the Eritrean relationship had been known during the first primary — and who can possibly argue that voters shouldn’t have known about it, or didn’t need to know about it? — that person’s second primary run in 2006, which was already ill-advised based on what little WAS known about his lobbying activities, might not have occurred.

There are swarms of inside-the-Beltway lobbyists, at least some of whom harbor future political ambitions, on the payrolls of foreign governments and foreign entities. Knowing that FARA is coming online soon, we can hope that perhaps some of those glad-handers will be a little more careful about the kind of people they associate with.

Positivity: ‘Good tears’ flow after surprise gift

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Wingate, PA:

Leslie Shivery felt guilty leaving the bedside of her critically wounded husband, Marine Cpl. David “D.J.” Emery Jr., to accept an award from Centre County’s Marine Corps League — or so she thought — on her husband’s behalf Friday.

She doesn’t regret the trip anymore.

Shivery was stunned Friday when she was taken by limousine to a manufactured home in the Blarney Stone development to find dozens of friends and family waiting for her, along with the Nittany Leathernecks Detachment of the Marine Corps League and several active-duty Marines in full dress uniforms.

She cried when she saw the Marines. She cried even harder when she was told the house in front of her now belongs to her and her husband.

The manufactured home was paid for by “An American Angel,” a proposed new television series produced by Centre County native Bea Clapp, with Discretion Entertainment. Donations from local businesses and individuals helped landscape, furnish the house and pay the rent on the lot for three years.

Shivery also was given the keys to a brand new Toyota.

“I’m a little overwhelmed,” Shivery said. “God bless every single soul who has helped, even with prayers. That’s what we need a lot of right now.”

Emery, 21, of Bellefonte, was critically wounded Feb. 7 by a suicide bomber in Anbar province, Iraq, just weeks before he was to return home after finishing his second tour there. His doctors at a Naval hospital in Bethesda, Md., amputated both of Emery’s injured legs to help him battle a life-threatening blood infection. One of his arms also was shattered and a severe abdominal wound still requires surgical care.

Adding to Shivery’s fears for her husband were worries about their daughter, Carlee, due to be born next month, and about where the new family would live once Emery can leave the hospital.

She was unaware, as she kept vigil at her husband’s bedside, that those worries were being seen to by her family, friends and the Centre County community.

The Marine Corps League’s Nittany Leathernecks established a bank account to help the Emerys. Clapp learned of the family’s plight through friends and Shivery’s family. The idea for “An American Angel” — a reality TV series about communities helping people in need — already was in the works with Clapp’s West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Discretion Entertainment. She decided the Emerys will be the stars of the as-yet-unsold pilot episode.

Valley Homes gave Clapp a substantial discount on the home. Wolf Furniture helped furnish it with everything the family needs to get started, including a nursery for Carlee. The project had help from contractors, including Veronisi Building and Kohlhepp’s Stone Center. The car was provided by Joel Confer Toyota and other donors.

“We only started the miracle,” Clapp said. “It was this community that made it possible.”

Shivery said she could not wait to tell her husband about their new home, which is handicapped-accessible, and the car. She said Emery, before he was wounded, was deeply worried about finding a job after he left the Marine Corps so he could support his wife and daughter and provide them a home.

“I can just imagine him lying there and thinking, ‘How am I going to support my family now?’” Shivery said through tears. “This is going to be such a stress relief for him.”

On Thursday evening, as Shivery was trying to explain to Emery that she had to go home for a couple days, he got upset and shook his head “no,” Shivery said. She told him she was going back to accept an award on his behalf from his fellow Marines. With that, he nodded his approval, Shivery said.

“Of course he got a little tear running down his cheek,” Shivery said. “I said these are good tears, right? And he shook his head ‘yes.’” …..

A list of donors is also at the centredaily.com site.