March 5, 2010

Is Steve Driehaus Getting Ready to Ditch the Stupak Dozen?

Filed under: Activism,Health Care,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:01 pm

This missive from Organizing For America makes you wonder:

OFAinviteWithDriehaus030810

OFA, as would be expected, has been particularly obsessed with pushing for statist health care. It’s also safe to say that an OFA meeting is not the safest place for someone who claims to be pro-life.

However, it was established during the 2008 political campaign that Steve Driehaus’s claim to be pro-life is not and cannot be legitimate, because he supported the virulently anti-life Obama for President.

But if he really does abandon Stupak, that would disabuse anyone still clinging to that already absurd notion, and would pretty much guarantee that Driehaus is willing to sacrifice any hope of extending his career in Congress in the name of la causa.

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UPDATE: Via FreeRepublic, the Stupak Dozen, representing Democrats who are supposedly against any health care reform unless it prohibits government funding of abortions (i.e., that maintains existing prohibitions against government funding under the already constitutionally tested Hyde Amendment), consists of:

Jerry Costello (D-IL), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Brad Ellsworth (D-IN), Joseph Cao (R-LA), Bart Stupak (D-MI), Dale Kildee (D-MI), Jim Oberstar (D-MN), Steve Dreihaus (D-OH), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Charlie Wilson (D-OH), and Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA).

Why the Alleged Recovery Is Soooooo Slow

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:00 pm

Rush referred to this post at Heritage this afternoon. It ties in to assertions I’ve been making about the economy and who is to blame for its condition for a long time — a longer time period than Heritage cited.

Here is why monthly job creation, eight months into an alleged recovery, is still going negative on a seasonally adjusted basis, and is still on a not seasonally adjusted basis trailing what we saw in 2004 through early 2008, when the economy was reasonably good (links are in original):

The reason our unemployment rate is so much higher now is low job creation, not high job loss. So why aren’t businesses creating jobs?

  • At one of President Obama’s many jobs summits, Fred Lampropoulos told The New York Times that businesses were uncertain about investment because “there’s such an aggressive legislative agenda that businesspeople don’t really know what they ought to do.” That uncertainty, he added, “is really what’s holding back the jobs.”
  • Dan DiMicco, CEO of steelmaker Nucor Corp,  told the Wall Street Journal: “Companies large and small are saying, ‘I am not going to do anything until these things — health care, climate legislation — go away or are resolved.’”
  • Porta-King CEO Steve Schulte told USA Today his company is not investing because “proposals in Congress to tackle climate change and overhaul health care would raise costs.”
  • The New York Post’s Charles Gasparino reported on the 600 companies stock analyst Peter Sidoti covers: “‘There hasn’t been one bankruptcy,’ he tells me. How did they survive the recession? By cutting costs and hoarding cash, not expanding their business and hiring more people, even as the economy now is starting to recover. During other recoveries, Sidoti says, firms like these would be hiring workers in droves as demand picks up for goods and services. This time around, they’re not — because ‘they don’t know what their costs are going to be.’”
  • National Federation of Independent Business chief economist Bill Dunkelberg writes: “The horizon is filled with cost unknowns, from healthcare to cap and trade to yawning deficits and the need to come to grips with them, from paid family and medical leave to card check, from expiration of the Bush tax cuts to state decisions about their finances. Washington cannot expect small business owners, facing difficult economic circumstances anyway, to commit themselves to investing in new employees or equipment and vehicles without acknowledging and revealing the policy-inspired costs that will be imposed on them. It is all about uncertainty and confidence.”

Our economy’s job creators have been trying to send a message to the Obama administration for months: stop creating so much uncertainty in the tax and regulatory environment so that we can figure out how to invest our money and start creating jobs. Stop taking over car companies. Stop shedding financing contracts. Stop taking over 1/6th of our economy. Stop raising taxes on our energy sector. Just stop.

But what people don’t get is that the factors cited all became relevant in about June of 2008 (based on recently revised employment data, perhaps even a month earlier than that).

All of the factors cited — statist health care, draconian climate legislation, and brutally higher taxation on the productive — were core campaign platforms of Barack Obama when he emerged as the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee. THAT is when the uncertainty cycle began, THAT is when the economy began turning down, and THAT is when yours truly pegged what we have been living through for past 21 months or os as the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy — because THAT is exactly what it has been.

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ADDENDUM: At the time I first identified the POR Economy, I suggested that Pelosi, Obama, and Reid were engineering an economic downturn in the name of winning the White House and larger majorities in Congress.

Rush Limbaugh has been making the argument that follows in various forms — that it’s about much more than merely being in power — for quite a while (so have Beck and Levin, with Beck probably being the first to recognize and articulate the full potential scope of the dangers). The longer this administration stays on the path of designed uncertainty described above, in combination with using 1930s FDR-style and 1990s Japan-style stimulus that did not work then and hasn’t worked now, the more convincing the talkers’ argument becomes.

This time, Rush has anonymous testimonials (link will become inaccessible in about a week; I added a couple of paragraph breaks for readability):

I met with a guy today — this is fascinating. There’s a whole bunch of powerful people here in town in Palm Beach because the Club for Growth, the annual convention or whatever they call it is taking place here. And quite naturally, many of the attendees have sought a meeting with me. I have granted an audience to four of them. And one of them was this morning. I’m not going to name names. You would know them all. They come from many different spheres, if you will.

One of them said to me today, “I was driving around a little over a year ago, about a year ago, and I was listening to you, Rush, and I cringed –” the guy’s a Republican “– I cringed when you said that Obama purposefully intends to destroy the country’s economy, take it, pare it down to size. I said, ‘No, no, that can’t possibly be true.’ It may be that he just doesn’t get it and that he’s not a leader, but, Rush, I have to tell you, I can see no other reason to explain this. We keep heaping mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake. This is more than somebody just not getting it.”

And then this person said to me, “We know some people in this administration. You get a couple of drinks in them and they really open up because their egos are huge. These two guys are over at the Pentagon. And they said quite honestly and very proudly, ‘We are here as part of the administration to manage America’s decline. Whatever you think that means, you’re watching it, America’s decline. We are here to manage it.’” Not fix it, not correct it, but to manage it because they think this is what we deserve, that we’ve been too big shot for too long.

I knew all this by instincts because I know people like this and I said to the guy to whom I granted the audience when he said, “I cringed when I heard you say that.” I said, “I know it’s hard to hear.” I said, “It’s difficult for me to hear myself say it.” So this now makes four people who have said, “You know, a year ago, when I heard you talking about how radical this guy was, I said ‘no, Rush, it’s just the Democrats, it’s just some young, unqualified Democrat, that’s all it is.’” Nobody thinks that anymore. They may think he’s unqualified, they may think he’s not a leader, they may think that he doesn’t get it, but they all understand now that his agenda is his agenda, and it doesn’t matter the impact his agenda has on the country.

Many entrepreneurs, investors, and businesspeople and a few others, including yours truly, saw it as early in May-June 2008, and we were right.

It’s not a pretty conclusion to reach, but it is what it is, and there no benefit to underplaying it. The American people, who are overwhelmingly sensible, constitution-driven, and yes, conservative, must recognize the full scope of what they’re up against, and the true goals of those who are currently in control, before they will be able to completely defeat them. They must be routed.

From CATO: The True Cost Of Public Education

Filed under: Activism,Education,Taxes & Government — Rose @ 7:44 pm

With flat-to-declining graduation rates over the last 3 decades, I’d say that the costs to society beyond this literal analysis have been as demonstrably egregious (direct YouTube link):

Light Blogging Alert

Filed under: Economy,News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:52 am

My post on the employment situation had some busts in it that I’ve fixed. But that episode and the less-than-perfect performance accompanying it have made it clear that I need to step away from the computer long enough to get over a bout of illness, which I will do until probably the middle of this evening.

I (sort of) have an excuse. What’s Harry Reid’s?

The February Employment Situation Report (030510)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:00 am

Where things stand:

Here’s how the not seasonally adjusted (NSA) and seasonally adjusted (SA) jobs added/lost numbers for the past six years look just ahead of the release:

BLSjobsNSAandSA0210prerelease

As I’ve said in previous posts, to get an idea of whether or not things are really getting better, the official SA numbers aren’t as useful as digging into the NSAs (i.e., what’s really happening on the ground). That’s especially true now because last year’s steep declines work to distort the SA calculation.

What’s important will be how February 2010′s NSA figures compare to the February 2004-2008 NSAs and whether that comparison comes in better than similar comparisons in previous months. You can see that January 2010′s preliminary NSA job loss of -2819 (subject to adjustment today and in March) was not much worse than 2004-2007 but was better than 2008. That was an improvement over December 2009′s NSA of +80, because December 2004-2007 were clearly better by an average of roughly 300,000.

A decent result would be for February’s NSA to come in at about +700,000.

The run-up:

  • ADP’s private sector report came in at a seasonally adjusted -20,000 for February, and its original January figure of -22,000 was revised downward to -60,000.
  • The prediction at this link is for a seasonally adjusted job loss of 50,000.
  • This AP report says that “The consensus in the markets is that the unemployment rate will rise to 9.8 percent in February from 9.7 percent and that non-farm payrolls will have fallen by 50,000, partly because of the heavy snow on the East Coast.”
  • I pointed out on Tuesday (3rd item at link) that the report may come in better than predicted, because federal receipts from withheld income and employment taxes in February were only 2.3% below February 2009.

The report will be here at 8:30 a.m.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT: Here it is –

Nonfarm payroll employment was little changed (-36,000) in February, and the unemployment rate held at 9.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment fell in construction and information, while temporary help services added jobs. Severe winter weather in parts of the country may have affected payroll employment and hours; however, it is not possible to quantify precisely the net impact of the winter storms on these measures.

UPDATE: What follows perfectly illustrates why the NSA numbers are more important.

Here is the post-release table, including February plus revised January and December:

BLSpostRelease0210

The red-boxed 473,000 jobs added in February was a really poor result. It trailed the 2004-2008 average of 714,000 by  about 240,000. January’s actual result was only 72,000 worse than the 2004-2008 average. That’s 168,000-job swing in the wrong direction.

Even though February 2010′s +473,000 is less than February 2008′s +516,000, the seasonally adjusted job loss for February of -36,000 — the one number the press and everyone else will singularly focus on — is less than 2008′s -50,000. Why? Because the 2009 disaster is mucking up the seasonal adjustment calculations, making the +473K look better than +516K, when it obviously isn’t.

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UPDATE 2: A question for the pinheads at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) – If, according to you guys, we were in a recession in February 2008 (an assertion I have disagreed with since NBER made the call that it began in December 2007), when the economy added a lackluster (by traditional February standards) 516,000 jobs, what do you call it when February 2010 sees 43,000 fewer jobs added?

Positivity: Maryland proposal to fund adult stem cell research corrects focus on wrong research

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Baltimore:

Mar 3, 2010 / 06:22 am

A proposed Maryland bill that would fund adult stem cell research for sickle cell disease has won the backing of the Maryland Catholic Conference. One official with the conference says success in unfunded adult stem cell efforts suggests that a focus on embryonic stem cells has led to “funding the wrong research.”

The legislation in the state’s House of Delegates is sponsored by Delegate Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, a Baltimore County Democrat. It would devote five percent of the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund to adult stem cell research for sickle cell disease, the Catholic Review reports.

Del. Nathan-Pulliam’s proposal comes two months after the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published the results of a clinical trial that used the research to reverse sickle cell disease in 90 percent of adult patients.

Nancy Paltell, associate director for respect for life at the Maryland Catholic Conference, said that the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund had twice rejected applications for funding adult stem cell research in sickle cell disease.

“Adult stem cells don’t have the safety issues of embryonic stem cell and induced pluripotent stem cell research – both of which form tumors,” commented Paltell, according to the Catholic Review.

She expressed concern that the state research fund is favoring projects involving embryonic stem cell research that depends upon the destruction of human life.

Paltell noted that the recent clinical trial used adult stem cells from matched bone marrow, but work must now be done using stem cells from either non-matching bone marrow or umbilical cord blood.

CNA spoke with Paltell in a Tuesday phone interview. She said the Maryland stem cell fund was first proposed only for embryonic stem cell research but the MCC and others successfully expanded its mission to include adult stem cell research.

However, Paltell saw a figurative “brick wall” blocking actual funding approval for adult stem cell research. Indeed, the sickle cell disease researchers published in the NEJM were based in Maryland but did not receive state funding.

“No matter how many patients we bring in, no matter how many studies we show… we’ve just not been able to convince the legislature that it’s more important from a patient’s perspective” to fund adult stem cell research and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell research, she said.

In terms of persuading people, Paltell said, science, medicine and ethics can help strengthen the case for using adult stem cells instead of embryonic ones. Though she granted the importance of moral objections to the research, Paltell reported that people are more willing to listen to an emphasis on the likely cures which justify more adult stem cell research.

The NEJM study’s report of reversed sickle cell disease in 9 of 10 patients was “huge” in her view.

According to Paltell, all of the success stories have come from adult stem cell research, which she said is underfunded in Maryland.

“It’s very easy to make the case that we’re funding the wrong research,” Paltell told CNA. …

Go here for the rest of the story.