February 4, 2011

Reagan ‘Neglected Minorities’?

Filed under: Activism,Economy,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:20 pm

Sam Donaldson and the left run roughshod over the record.


Note: This column went up at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Wednesday.


On January 24, USA Today published nine commentaries on Ronald Reagan’s legacy. One of the selected contributors was Sam Donaldson. Why McPaper thought the former ABC White House correspondent deserved a place among the other eight (President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, John McCain, Sarah PalinMitt Romney, Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese, biographer Lou Cannon, and scholar Leon Aron) is a mystery.

The former ABC White House correspondent deserves some credit. In his retrospective, titled “My Respect for Reagan Only Grew,” Donaldson confesses that many underestimated the Gipper. “I must admit,” he ruefully notes: “I was one of them.” (So did many in Reagan’s own party. It’s a historical fact that after the former California governor finally won the GOP presidential nomination in 1980, Ohio’s Republican establishment and then-Governor Jim Rhodes barely lifted a finger to assist in his general election effort. His Buckeye State grass-roots supporters did virtually all the work. I suspect that this was also the case in many other states.)

But Donaldson can’t seem to offer Reagan more than backhanded compliments. When it comes to “running up the national debt, it was Reagan, not George W. Bush or President Obama, who put us on the upward trajectory” — even though “forcing Soviet communism onto what Reagan called ‘the ash heap of history’ wasn’t such a bad way to spend the money.” Did Donaldson feel that way when it mattered? As it is, he conveniently forgets that Tip O’Neill’s Congresses repeatedly broke promises to rein in spending, and completely overlooks the fact that even after adjusting for inflation, our current president’s deficit spending, which is on track to break yet another record this fiscal year, is historically unprecedented. Worse, it has accomplished virtually nothing for the economy.

These errors, and others, are bad enough. But Donaldson’s worst offense occurs when he shows that he has fallen hard for a false meme that has achieved gospel status within the historically revisionist left:

History will continue to assess his performance, particularly his policies — minorities and women were neglected

This is one of those “everybody knows” assertions that apparently no longer requires anything like evidence or support. It happens to be completely without basis.

I’ll try to leave the female element of Donaldson’s dumb declaration alone after making two points. First, while they covered his presidency, cynical establishment press members like CBS’s Mike Wallace thought that the wonderful way Ron treated Nancy, the most important woman in his life, was some kind of public act. They had to quickly backtrack when Nancy published a collection of her husband’s incredible love letters in 2000. Second, the economic points I’m about to make with minorities can also easily be made about the economic progress of women during The Seven Fat Years.

There’s plentiful support for the idea that Reagan was personally concerned about the vestiges of racism that lingered in some Americans’ hearts. In 1982, a cross-burning incident five years earlier in Maryland troubled him so deeply when he read of it that he felt compelled to visit the affected family to “tell them this isn’t the way it is in America.”

The best information available about the economic progress of minorities comes from the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Census Bureau. Here’s just a sample of what their statistics tell us about the period between when Reagan finally got most of the tax cuts he wanted and when presidential successor Bush 41 stalled the economic expansion by breaking his 1988 presidential campaign’s “no new taxes” pledge in 1990 (all figures presented are seasonally adjusted):

  • From March 1983 to June 1989, according to the BLS’s Household Survey, white employment grew by 14.2 million, or 16%. Black employment during the same period grew by 2.7 million (29%). Hispanic employment also increased by 2.7 million (47%).
  • How about the unemployment rate? From October 1982 through June 1990, it dropped as follows: whites, from 9.2% to 4.5%; blacks, from 20.1% to 10.5%; Hispanics, from 15.0% to 7.7%. Oh, and for good measure, and because I can’t resist addressing the female element of Donaldson’s dissing: During the same period, the overall male unemployment rate plunged from 10.9% to 5.3%, while the female rate went from 9.8% to a still-lower 5.2%.
  • Census information tells us that inflation-adjusted median black household income grew by 18.7% from 1983 to 1989. For Hispanics, that figure jumped by 12.5%. White median household income increased 9.3% from 1984 to 1989 (1983 data isn’t available).
  • Looking at average household income during the same years, the results were: blacks, +18.4%; Hispanics, +17.9%; whites (again, 1984-1989), +13.3%.

It’s obvious that not only did supposedly “neglected” minorities benefit significantly from Reagan’s policies; they also benefited disproportionately.

By contrast, through December 2010 under Barack Obama:

  • White employment has declined by about 1 million, a bit less than 0.9%, since the recession’s official end eighteen months earlier. Black employment has inched up by only 83,000 (0.6%); Hispanic employment is up by a still-small 277,000 (1.4%).
  • The unemployment rate for whites during the same period has declined slightly from 8.7% to 8.5%; for blacks and Hispanics, it has increased from 14.9% to 15.8% and 12.2% to 13.0%, respectively.
  • During calendar 2010, the median weekly earnings of wage and salary workers went up by 0.5%. Unfortunately, prices increased by 1.3%. On the whole, average Americans fell behind. It’s virtually certain that blacks and Hispanics were not spared.

Obamanomics has hurt millions of Americans and their families; minorities have not escaped the pain. Everyone would welcome a bit of Reaganesque “neglect” at this point.

What really bothers Reagan’s detractors isn’t that he didn’t pander to minorities (though he didn’t). It’s that he was conservative and a Republican. In the naysayers’ world, “everybody knows” that neglecting and oppressing minorities is in the right’s DNA; facts don’t matter. In the real world, however, it’s as clear as can be that Ronald Reagan’s policies did more to improve the plight of America’s minorities than anything Barack Obama’s administration has done or is on track to do.

Exit question setup for Sam Donaldson: Ronald Reagan’s economic policies led to impressive progress for Americans of all races, creeds, and colors. Reagan was also staunchly pro-life. Jesse Jackson believes that we need more, not less, of the economic statism that hasn’t worked and isn’t working. More crucially, Jackson’s early-1980s repudiation of his previously courageous prolife views effectively ended the black civil-rights movement’s involvement in attempts to curb abortions. Largely as a result of that horrible shift, “Black women (today) are more than 3 times as likely as white women to have an abortion, and Hispanic women are roughly 2 times as likely.”

Exit question: Who “neglected minorities” more, Sam?

UPDATED — Reaganomics Vs. Obamanomics: A Total Rout (the Obama Economy Has LOST Jobs Since the Recession Ended)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:57 pm

Today, as part of its report on January’s employment situation, Uncle Sam’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported its “Revisions to Establishment Survey Data.” The Establishment Survey is the portion of the BLS’s monthly report that deals with number of jobs added or lost. The process described is done annually.

Here’s the topside view of what happened as a result of BLS’s revisions:

The total nonfarm employment level for March 2010 was revised downward by 378,000 (411,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis). The previously published level for December 2010 was revised downward by 452,000 (483,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis).

That’s a lot of jobs the BLS thought were there that ended up not being there after getting better data.

Here’s what it does to the Reaganomics vs. Obamanomics comparison I originally did about four weeks ago. The original graph showed Obama’s post-recession job gains as 72,000 overall, and 378,000 in the private sector.

Now look (source data: total; private):


O … M … G. Through December, the Obama economy was STILL down 264,000 jobs since the recession ended in June 2009 (after January 2011′s initial number, it’s “only” -228,000). Yet Keynesian clingers like Paul Krugman at the New York Times STILL insist that we’re getting this result because Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid didn’t do enough stimulus.

The number of people working as measured by the Establishment Survey is still down by over 7 million since the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy began (using June 1, 2008 as its starting point):


What will it take to get Keynesians to step away from and swear off stimulus?


UPDATE: Oh by the way, while the preliminary seasonally adjusted number for the 19th post-recession month under Obama came in today at +36,000 (+50K in the private sector), Reagan’s 19th post-recession month (April 1984) came in at +363,000 (+340,000 in the private sector). The rout goes on.

UPDATE 2: At Heritage — “The Reagan Recovery vs The Obama Recovery.”

Econ Catch-up, and the January Employment Situation Report (020411); Galt’s Gulch Must Be Getting Pretty Crowded

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:23 am

Econ Catch-up

The economic news this week has been very good:

  • The Institute for Supply Management indices for Manufacturing (60.8%) and Non Manufacturing (59.4%) each increased by 2.3%, representing very robust activity levels across the board. Zero Hedge (here and here) noted that the prices paid components in each index were pretty high, and sees them a portent of serious inflation problems in a year or so.
  • January car sales came in over 17% ahead of last year. Compared to that overall marker, Government/General Motors and Chrysler did better, Toyota did about the same, and Ford, Honda, and Nissan did a bit worse.
  • On Wednesday, ADP’s Employment Report came in with 187,000 private sector jobs added, and revised its unusually high December figure, which wasn’t borne out when the government numbers were released, downward by 50,000 to 247,000.
  • On Thursday, seasonally adjusted weekly unemployment claims, at 415,000 came in 42,000 lower than the previous week.
  • The government said on Thursday that productivity increased by a strong 3.5% in 2010, following a 3.6% performance in 2009.

The run-up to the BLS Employment Report

So will the employment report cooperate and make this probably the best week for economic news since President Obama took office? The predictions I found presage a mediocre result:

  • The Associated Press is carrying a prediction of 146,000 seasonally adjusted jobs added, and an unemployment uptick to 9.5% from 9.4% — “barely enough new jobs in January to keep up with the population growth.”
  • WaPo’s Neil Irwin is at 145,000 and 9.5%.

As is customary, yours truly will be looking at the not seasonally adjusted numbers to get a better handle on what really happened on the ground; my instincts are that this month will outperform expectations by a bit. There’s also a one-time adjustment to the employment numbers that I’ll comment on later today.

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

Update: my oh my, a supposedly really good number, and a pathetically weak one:

The unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 9.0 percent in January, while nonfarm payroll employment changed little (+36,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in manufacturing and in retail trade but was down in construction and in transportation and warehousing. Employment in most other major industries changed little over the month.

… The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised from +71,000 to +93,000, and the change for December was revised from +103,000 to +121,000.

Revisions to Establishment Survey Data

In accordance with annual practice, the establishment survey data have been revised to reflect comprehensive universe counts of payroll jobs, or benchmarks.

… The total nonfarm employment level for March 2010 was revised downward by 378,000 (411,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis). The previously published level for December 2010 was revised downward by 452,000 (483,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis).

It would appear that the revisions noted in the last excerpted paragraph negate all or nearly all of the puny post-recession job growth previously noted here.

As to January’s component, my immediate reax is that Galt’s Gulch must be getting pretty crowded. Somewhat confirming this, the seasonally adjusted labor force dropped by over 500,000 during the month (yeah, it’s a Census adjustment, but a drop is a drop), and the number employed per the Household Survey only went up by 117,000.

I’ll have more later.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the actuals were also disappointing —


January is a month with big negatives, because many retailers and others let go of the seasonal help they hired during the Christmas shopping season. It’s bad enough that January 2011 trailed every January from 2003 to 2007. What’s worse is that at least in the the first go-round, it also came in lower than January 2010; the last time there was a lower year-over-year monthly performance was in August 2009. We may be on the cusp of some serious backpedaling.

Also worth noting: The comprehensive revision to previously released jobs figures (discussed in the next post) caused all but three months during 2010 to be pretty poor compared to 2003-2007. The only months that still look good after the revision are April, May, and October — and the first two got a boost from part-time Census hiring.

So … how can the rest of the economic news be so good, as seen at the beginning of this post, and the jobs numbers continue to be so bad? I’m afraid that the answer might be the same as it was during the 1930s, when the Great Depression wasn’t that bad, and was even acceptable — if you had a job. The two-tiered economy continues.



  • At Political Calcluiations — “1.2 Million Americans Quit Seeking Work Since November 2010″
  • Suitably Flip (HT Hot Air) says “Don’t Blame the Weather.”
  • At Now Batting for Pedro Borbon (HT Intstapundit) — “Going John Galt has become Going Robert Half.” Point well-taken. On a seasonally adjusted basis, temporary help services, which account for less than 2% of all employment, added 305,000 jobs in calendar 2010. The entire private sector added 1,145,000 jobs, so temps were about 27% of the total.

Mark Levin: ‘Barack Obama … the Attorney General … the Secretary of HHS … Are Conducting Themselves in a Lawless Fashion’

Just listen … on Wednesday, the inarguably correct Great One, aided by flashbacks to monologues earlier in the week, laid out in detail the serious rule of law standoff the Obama administration has created:

Choice excerpts (internal links added by me):

… Look at Page 75 (of the ruling). The judge said, “This is a declaratory judgment,” finding the entire statute unconstitutional, (saying in effect) “I don’t have to issue an injunction. The government can’t impose an unconstitutional statute on the nation.”

I said that if the administration failed to follow the law, then it was lawless. (I said that) it was violating the constitution, that this was as serious as Watergate.

… There it is on Page 75. He voided the law. It’s dust. It’s gone, until a higher court does something else.

… What will the media in our country do when a President of the United States intentionally and knowingly refuses to comply with a court order? Whether it’s civil rights in the 1960s, whether it’s anything else, does this not remind you of Watergate in a sense if the Executive Branch does not comply with this federal judge? Do we not have a constitutional crisis if the Executive Branch refuses to comply with a Judicial Branch order?

… (the Executive Branch’s) only relief is to appeal it. You must cease and desist from further attempts to implement it. But I guarantee you ladies and gentlemen, that the media in this country, which would call for the impeachment of a Republican president who openly defied a federal court order, and in fact did, will support this president because they believe in Obamacare and they want the result changed.

… What does the Obama administration do? (It) calls the reporters together in a phone conference — this is CBS News, and I quote from CBS News — “the White House official said the ruling would not have an impact on implementation of the law. which is being phased in gradually. The individual mandate, for example, does not begin until 2014. They said that states cannot use the ruling as a basis to delay implement in part because the ruling does not rest on anything like a conventional constitutional analysis.”

… This (ruling) is a de facto injunction issued by a federal judge, and they cannot pretend that it hasn’t been done, and play so ruthlessly with the rule of law.

… They don’t get to enforce what they want, and ignore what they want … Either the court has the final say or it doesn’t, and if does, there’s nothing else to say.

… Now the states of Wisconsin and Florida, it appears, have decided that there’s no law for them to implement any longer. And they are in fact correct, since the last position of the law as it applies to Obamacare is that there is no law. And so the states should stop implementing this statute until there is a different ruling from a higher court. If the Obama administration wants to continue to violate the Constitution, to defy a federal judge, and play rope-a dope, then you states have no responsibility whatsoever to comply.

And you insurance companies … there is no Obamacare law officially. It’s been voided. And it is not an act of civil defiance to refuse to adhere to any aspect of it. The act of civil defiance — that is, the act of constitutional violation — are occurring on the other side.

Barack Obama today, the Attorney General of the United States, the Secretary of HHS today, are conducting themselves in a lawless fashion. It is they, it is they who are leading opposition to the United States Constitution. … It is they who are disregarding our universal values. It is they.

So what are the state attorneys general going to do? What is Congress going to do? What are HHS and other employees carrying out illegal orders going to do? What are the insurance companies going to do?

What are we going to do?

A related post is at NewsBusters.