February 15, 2011

USAT’s Davidson Drinks Deeply from the Obamanomics Job-’Generation’ Kool-Aid

DontDrinkTheKoolAidTwice on Monday (here and here), I took serious issue with the opening sentences of two Associated Press stories on Uncle Sam’s fiscal situation.

First, there was Martin Crutsinger’s Sunday stinker, which described the level of spending in President Obama’s yet to be released 2012 budget as “$3 trillion-plus,” timed so that early morning news readers, radio listeners, and TV viewers would hear it. Too bad that the real number, which the AP reporter acknowledged later on Monday, is really $3.73 trillion. If you think that’s bad, the administration projects that total spending this year during fiscal 2011 will be $3.82 trillion.

Then there was Monday’s muff by the AP’s Andrew Taylor, who absurdly claimed that the federal government has only had “two years of big spending increases.” It’s actually three out of four if you use Obama-Geithner accounting, and four out of four if you flush their accounting tricks out of the numbers.

The inability to get through an opening sentence without insulting reasonably informed readers’ intelligence seems to have spread to USA Today. Look at how the paper’s Paul Davidson opened his story about what probably ought to be called “Son of Stimulus” in the hopefully unlikely event it ever becomes a reality:

Obama budget plan could create millions of jobs

President Obama’s proposed fiscal 2012 budget is potentially a massive job-creation engine, with plans to generate millions of them by repairing and expanding highways, bridges and railways.

Those who need to take a few moments to do what this graphic shows can be forgiven. In fact, I need to take a timeout myself …

… Okay. I would say that Davidson’s report went downhill from there, but I would be wrong. Having hit rock bottom with his opener, he basically stayed there the rest of the way. Here are a few more paragraphs, including a really pathetic misinterpretation of an already laughable claim made by a couple of deluded economists last year:

But the spending plan also heralds an outsize political battle as it reignites the type of Republican skepticism over the effectiveness of such outlays that characterized the 2009 economic stimulus.
More critically, it’s fuzzy on how the $556 billion in projects over six years will be funded. Experts say that makes it unlikely to pass a deficit-obsessed Congress.

… The plan calls for $53 billion to build a high-speed rail system, $336 billion for highways and a “national infrastructure bank” that would combine public and private money to build national or regional transportation systems.

Associated General Contractors (AGC), a trade group for the construction industry, estimates the plan could create about 5.4 million construction jobs and 10 million more jobs in related industries and the broader economy.

… The blueprint is certain to set off political battles. Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, says infrastructure improvements not only create construction jobs but improve transportation systems to increase U.S. economic competitiveness. A study co-authored by Zandi concluded the economic stimulus, which included $135 billion in infrastructure spending, generated 8 million additional jobs in 2009 and 2010.

Yet Republicans ripped the stimulus for not cutting unemployment.

Someone needs to tell Davidson that the reason “Republicans ripped the stimulus for not cutting unemployment” is, well, because the stimulus didn’t cut unemployment. The USAT reporter also badly misinterpreted Zandi’s and co-author Alan Blinder’s July 2010 claim, which, according to the New York Times, was that “there would be about 8.5 million fewer jobs” if President Obama’s stimulus plan hadn’t been enacted. In other words, Zandi is claiming on balance that 8.5 million jobs were saved. That’s a crock too, but Davidson took it a level further, asserting that 8 million jobs were “generated,” which I interpret in context to mean the same as “created.”

Recently, Cincinnati TV station WLWT went looking for stimulus jobs created in the local area, and literally couldn’t find any (bolds are mine):

News 5 Investigates Whether ARRA Money Created Jobs

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act brought $65 million in road projects to Hamilton, Butler, Warren and Clermont counties. The main goal of ARRA was “putting America to work.” But did it work?

… News 5 conducted a month-long investigation into the stimulus money that poured into the Tri-State. Of the projects that received $65 million in funding, most have been completed. So where did the money go?

… Because the ARRA money had to go to road projects that were considered “shovel ready,” paving jobs won the majority of the money. Two paving companies in particular came out on top, receiving nearly 70 percent of the federal money that came to the Tri-State — John R. Jurgensen Company received nearly $23 million while Barrett Paving got more than $21 million.

While Ohio Department of Transportation numbers show that 627 jobs were impacted by the money, News 5 learned that neither company hired a single employee with the nearly $44 million they received.

News 5 repeatedly requested interviews of executives at Jurgensen and Barrett, but they declined. In a statement, the Human Resources Director for Jurgensen said, “The money didn’t create new jobs, but it kept people from losing them.”

When pressed about how many jobs were kept, he responded, “Had we not had the ARRA projects, some paving crews might not have been recalled.”

News 5 found a similar story at Barrett Paving.

So the best that can conceivably said about what WLWT found is that some jobs were saved.

If Paul Davidson comes to Cincinnati in search of any of those 8 million jobs “generated,” he’s going to leave sadly disappointed. Step away from the Kool-Aid, Paul. If the original stimulus didn’t accomplish anything — and it didn’t — why should anyone think that “Son of Stimulus” would do any better?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

IBD: ‘Obama’s Gutless Budget Proposal’

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:15 am

Calling it as they see it — and as it is (election strategy-related bold is mine):

The White House’s new budget is far worse than merely bad. By not attacking the underlying cause of our debt explosion and by raising taxes, it will lead inevitably to a weaker economy and perhaps even default.

Numerous studies show that if you cut runaway spending in a serious way, the deficit will disappear. Oblivious to this fact, President Obama in his new budget chooses to make puny cuts and instead to focus on tax hikes — the last thing our stumbling economy needs right now.

All told, the new taxes total $1.5 trillion over 10 years — ranging from new levies on small-business owners and corporations to taxes on energy and banks. Passed as is, the Obama budget would make economic stagnation and 9% unemployment the status quo.

Obama seems to be playing a political game of chicken with the Republicans — betting they won’t have the guts to make the cuts that he refuses to make. And if they do, he’ll blame them for the pain that results.

No doubt that’s why he totally ignored his own “bipartisan” deficit-cutting commission, which in December recommended big spending cuts and entitlement reform to reduce future budget shortfalls. Obviously, Obama took his copy of the report and shredded it.

As the budget debate heats up, Americans will hear that, as bad as Obama’s plan is, the GOP “hasn’t come up with an alternative.” But that’s a bald lie.

Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, has issued an extensive, detailed blueprint that would sharply reduce deficits and reform entitlements — and put America back to work again.

The only question is, will Congress have the guts to pass it? And if so, will American voters be smart enough to embrace it?

Read the whole thing.

There may not be another chance to get it right. Obama won’t. Congress must.

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UPDATE: Yuval Levin at the Corner (paragraph break added by me) –

Until the last few weeks, there might have been room to wonder whether President Obama might respond to the 2010 elections by moving to the center and seeking some politically advantageous but meaningful middle ground — offering tax reforms, perhaps even some Social Security reforms, and orienting the next two years around the question of who can provide a more appealing, more optimistic, and less painful set of solutions to our enormous fiscal challenge and the coming debt crisis.

This budget puts an end to that possibility. The president appears to have decided to spend the next two years pretending there is no problem to solve, and therefore that Republican proposals to rein in spending are just mean-spirited cuts offered up for kicks.

Lucid Links (021511, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:02 am

Oh, how I hope that Jennifer Rubin is correct (HT Hot Air Headlines) about the impact of CPAC on Mitt Romney’s presidential prospects:

… if there is one point of consensus among plugged-in Republicans on the 2012 field, it is that Romney can’t win unless he does a mea culpa on RomneyCare. Since he didn’t and he won’t do that, he’s not going to be the nominee. Other than Romney admirers (and even some of them!) it’s hard to find serious Republican players who disagree with that.

And so when Romney ignored the topic at CPAC, he hardly did “no harm.” To the contrary, he simply reinforced the notion that he has an insuperable problem.

Please, please, PLEASE: Not This Mitt Again

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The Drudge tease for this story says it’s “shocking.” If only it were really so:

The latest information about the salaries and benefits of each San Jose city employee was posted online Friday in an effort to maintain transparency in the city’s government.

… Former police Chief Robert Davis had the highest total compensation – more than $534,000 in salary and benefits – for the year, according to the report.

Those who contended that Bell, California was hardly the only example of excessive salary largesse in the formerly Golden State weren’t kidding.

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Two key paragraphs from a New York Times report about auto industry salaries should raise eyebrows:

G.M. last week said 26,000 salaried workers in the United States would receive bonuses, generally ranging from 4 to 16 percent of their pay but that several hundred employees would receive bonuses of more than 50 percent of their pay.

I guess in ObamaLand, there are good bonuses, and bad bonuses.

Now let’s look at line workers’ profit-sharing. The Times, having earlier told readers that GM workers are getting $4,000 amounts, had this gem (this paragraph appeared before the previously excerpted paragraph):

G.M. is not adding a bonus to the checks, as the Ford Motor Company is in giving its hourly workers checks averaging $5,000 each … Chrysler is voluntarily paying its workers $750, even though it lost money in 2010.

Wow, it’s not a lot, but still, it takes a lot of nerve for a company seriously indebted to taxpayers to pay out bonuses when it’s losing money. Oh, and following last year’s TV sting catching Chrysler workers drinking and smoking pot over lunch, there’s been another similar incident at the same plant.

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I suspect that most Chicago residents are less than pleased that slavery reparations is considered an important issue in the mayor’s race.

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Al Gore is wrong. That’s not exactly news. But the fact that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the one saying Al Gore is wrong (“IPCC says global warming is NOT to blame for snow”) is.

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At the Hill“(Harry) Reid calls on Republicans to completely rule out shutting down the government.”

Harry apparently doesn’t understand a couple of things:

  • If the House and Senate pass an appropriations bill that would keep the government running and the President vetoes what they have passed, it’s the President who has shut down the government.
  • If the House passes and appropriations bill and Reid’s Senate stops it, he’s the one who has shut down the government.

That’s how it works. All the posing in the world doesn’t change that.

To be clear, it was Bill Clinton who shut down the government in 1995, and it was Ronald Reagan who shut down the government in the early 1980s.

Positivity: 40-year Maytag repairman Elmer Frederisy turns 100

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

Elmer FrederisyFrom Windsor, Ontario:

Leamington Court Retirement Suites was the scene of a momentous birthday celebration for Elmer Frederisy, who turned 100 years old on Jan. 14.

Five generations of family joined Elmer on a special day that was highlighted not only by the guest list of dignitaries, but also by a first ever honour given by Maytag Canada.

For 40 years Elmer Frederisy was the Maytag man in Kent/ Essex and the company extended him the first and only lifetime Honorary Maytag Repairman designation. It added a lot of fun to the event and was appreciated by Elmer, who was so dedicated not only to his company, but especially to his customers.

Elmer and his wife, Mildred, will also celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary in August.

Elmer turned 100 and Mildred is 95, so many of us have asked him, “What’s the secret to longevity?” Elmer replied, “It’s partly how you use your body, and partly good genetics.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.