May 26, 2011

Taylor’s Tall Tale: AP Reporter ‘Forgets’ At Least 19 Senate Dems Praised Obama’s February Budget

In the course of a story (“Senate votes down controversial House budget”) from all appearances designed to make House Republicans look like quixotic time-wasters while minimizing presidential embarrassment, the Associated Press’s Andrew Taylor fabricated the following:

GOP senators immediately forced a vote on President Barack Obama’s February budget proposal, which opened to chilly reviews in February for failing to aggressively tackle issues like the long-term future of benefit programs like Medicare and Social Security. Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the plan, which failed to receive a single vote.

No Andrew, you’re wrong, wrong, at least nineteen times wrong. From Townhall’s Guy Benson, with links — The following Senate Democrats sang the praises of the President’s laughingstock of a “budget in mid-February (resorted in alphabetical order after Reid and Schumer):

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “President Obama’s budget is a serious attempt…” (Sen. Reid, Press Release, 2/14/11)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “This is a responsible proposal… I believe this approach should have bipartisan support.” (Sen. Schumer Press Release, 2/15/11)

SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D-MT): “The President’s budget… strengthens our economy…” (U.S. Senate, Finance Committee, Hearing, 2/16/11)

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): “…the President’s budget provides a good blueprint for achieving many of our shared goals.” (Sen. Blumenthal, Press Release, 2/14/11)

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): “The President’s budget proposal will put us on track…” (Sen. Brown, Press Release, 2/14/11)

SEN. MARIA CANTWELL (D-WA): “I applaud President Obama…” (Sen. Cantwell, Press Release, 2/14/11)

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): “President Obama has given us a credible blueprint…” (Sen. Cardin, Press Release, 2/14/11)

SEN. TOM CARPER (D-DE): “The President’s budget is an important step forward…”(Sen. Carper, Press Release, 2/14/11)

SEN. KENT CONRAD (D-ND): “The President’s budget gets it about right in the first year.”(Sen. Conrad, Press Release, 2/14/11)

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): “I am encouraged … I applaud the President for remaining committed to innovation…” (Sen. Coons, Press Release, 2/14/11)

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D-MN): “The President’s budget proposal is headed in the right direction…” (Sen. Franken, Press Release, 2/14/11)

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): “… the President’s budget provides a good place to start the conversation.”(Sen. Gillibrand, Press Release, 2/14/11)

SEN. KAY HAGAN (D-NC): “…a good start.” (Sen. Hagan, Press Release, 2/14/11)

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D-IA): “…the President has proposed a balanced approach…” (Sen. Harkin, Press Release, 2/14/11)

SEN. HERB KOHL (D-WI): “The President’s budget is a good first step…” (Sen. Kohl, Press Release, 2/14/11)

SEN. FRANK LAUTENBERG (D-NJ): “President Obama’s budget presents a careful evaluation of what our nation needs…” (Sen. Lautenberg Press Release, 2/14/11)

SEN. BILL NELSON (D-FL): “I personally think that the President’s budget is a step in the right direction.”(U.S. Senate, Finance Committee, Hearing, 2/16/11)

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): “…a responsible framework…”(Sen. Shaheen, Press Release, 2/14/11)

SEN. TOM UDALL (D-NM): “… it’s a solid starting point.” (Sen. Udall, Press Release, 2/14/11)

The President’s February budget did have one interesting number — a prediction that spending in fiscal 2011 will total an all-time record $3.819 trillion by the time the year ends on September 30. If that happens, it will represent a mind-boggling 40% increase over fiscal 2007. Sadly, that grim milestone is within reach.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

UPDATE: Excerpted at Politisite.

AP’s Rugaber Doesn’t Like DOL’s Lack of Excuses for Jump in Initial Claims, Makes One Up

USdeptOfLabor0511It would appear, according to the Associated Press’s Christopher Rugaber, that something unusual had to explain why initial unemployment claims as reported by Uncle Sam’s Department of Labor rose to a seasonally adjusted 424,000 during the week ended May 21 when they were expected to decline. In previous weeks, poor performances have been explained by DOL spokespersons as due to the unusually late Easter, the weather, Japanese supply interruptions, and Jupiter not being aligned with Mars (okay, I’m kidding about the last one).

Apparently, one thing is for certain in AP-Land: The troubling 400,000-plus plateau in weekly initial claims can’t possibly have anything to do with Obama administration’s economic policies (or lack thereof).

Today, as Bloomberg noted, the Department of Labor offered up no excuses: “There were no special factors behind last week’s increase, a Labor Department official said as the figures were released.”

Rugaber wasn’t satisfied with that answer, and decided he would roll out one of his own without any evidence. The AP reporter has also developed a strange obsession with reminding everyone on a weekly basis when initial claims peaked (bolds are mine):

The number of people seeking benefits rose by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 424,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. No states cited extreme weather as a factor in the increase, a department spokesman said. Tornadoes and floods have devastated several states in the Midwest and South in the past month.

Applications are above the 375,000 level that is consistent with sustainable job growth. Applications peaked at 659,000 during the recession.

How weird is it that a reporter would attempt to cobble together an excuse when the DOL, which has been more than glad to supply one or more in previous weeks, didn’t have any?

As to the ritual citation of the 659,000 claims during the recession, it’s getting more than a little old, as is the selectivity in data reporting designed to make things appear better than they really are.

Chris, initial claims peaked during the week ended March 28, 2009, well over two years ago. Let’s look at what has happened since June 2009, when the recession as normal people define it ended:

  • During the recession’s last full week, initial claims were 601,000.
  • For the next 21 months, initial claims slowly declined. During each of the four weeks in the period that ended April 2, they averaged just over 390,000, getting somewhat close to the 375,000 the AP reporter dubiously claims is “consistent with sustainable job growth.”
  • Then “something” happened. In each of the past seven weeks, as seen below, seasonally adjusted claims have been over 400,000:

UnempClaimsWithAdj4wks052111

  • In fact, the four-week moving average has been over 430,000 during each of the past four weeks.

While quoting from the AP’s obfuscatory report and compare those quotes to reality, here are three questions for the wire service and Chris Rugaber (I could come up with more):

  1. Is it more important that initial claims had their “first increase in three weeks,” or that they have remained stuck above 400,000 for the past eight?
  2. Is it more important that claims “peaked at 659,000 during the recession” over 110 weeks ago, or that the four-week moving average has stubbornly trended upward for most of the past eight weeks?
  3. Is it more important that the four-week moving average “declined for the first time in seven weeks,” or that it’s barely lower than the 441,500 reported during the week of November 13, 2010 (and will more than likely be revised upward next week)?

The questions answer themselves.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Initial Unemployment Claims Exceed Expectations (i.e., They Went Up, When They Were ‘Expected’ To Go Down)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:51 am

The hits just keep on coming:

In the week ending May 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 424,000, an increase of 10,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 414,000. The 4-week moving average was 438,500, a decrease of 1,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 440,250.

Heres the updated chart, which once again shows the previous initial release upwardly revised:

UnempClaims052111

“Unexpectedly,” via Reuters:

Figures showing new claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly climbed to 424,000 last week from a revised 414,000 in the prior week also put pressure on the market.

Can’t wait to see the latest batch of excuses.

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UPDATE: At the Street.com — “Economists were expecting jobless claims to drop to 400,000 …”

UPDATE 2: The not seasonally adjusted claims number is about 9% below last year’s for the same week. That’s a narrower year-over year difference than most previous weeks.

UPDATE 3: Eight weeks ago, an analyst confidently asserted that “The downtrend … is undeniable.” Uh, no.

UPDATE 4: Chris Rugaber at the Associated Press trots out a potential excuse even when DOL says it isn’t one –

No states cited extreme weather as a factor in the increase, a department spokesman said. Tornadoes and floods have devastated several states in the Midwest and South in the past month.

I don’t blame Rugaber for asking the question. But when the answer is no, you don’t bring it up, you look for other explanations. Really Chris, you could as easily have written that “No states cited people leaving their jobs but hedging their bets by filing for benefits in the run-up to last week’s end-of-the-world theatrics.”

1Q11 GDP, First Revision (052611); Stays at an Annualized +1.8%

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:44 am

The initial report in late April came in at an annualized 1.8%.

This link is predicting an upward revision to 2.2%. This one has 2.1%, while noting that “even a GDP revision on the higher end of the scale would still mark sluggish growth that is unlikely to pull down unemployment over the long term.”

Reuters has a consensus prediction of 2.1%.

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

Here it is — another disappointment compared to expectations:

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 1.8 percent in the first quarter of 2011, (that is, from the fourth quarter to the first quarter), according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter, real GDP increased 3.1 percent.

The GDP estimates released today are based on more complete source data than were available for the “advance” estimate issued last month. In the advance estimate, the increase in real GDP was also 1.8 percent.

So the Reagan vs. Obama post-recession scoreboard remains as follows:

ReaganVobamaPostRecGDP042811

I’d say today’s disappointment is another example of Gangster Government’s Economic Shadow.

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UPDATE: At Business Insider — “What’s worse, personal consumption fell to 2.2% from 2.7%, when it was expected to rise to 2.8%.” There’s the influence of “The Shadow” again.

Positivity: ‘Good angel of Brazil’ to be beatified

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Brasilia, Brazil:

May 20, 2011 / 06:11 pm

Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, a Brazilian religious sister who devoted her life to the sick and the poor, will be beatified May 22 in San Salvador de Bahia in northeastern Brazil.

If a new miracle is recognized after her beatification, Sr. Dulce could become the first female Brazilian-born saint.

Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, Archbishop Emeritus of San Salvador de Bahia, will preside over the Mass. Officials expect 70,000 people to attend, including numerous civil and religious leaders.

Maria Rita Lopes Pontes was born May 26, 1914 and in San Salvador de Bahia and later joined the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God.

Sr. Dulce devoted her life to the needy, founding hospitals and a social support network she managed until her death on March 13, 1992, at the age of 77. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988 for her charitable works. Then in October 1991 she was visited on her deathbed by John Paul II during his second visit to Brazil.

Her network of hospitals and clinics for the poor in Bahia continue to serve more than five million people each year.

The beatification process of Sr. Dulce began in 1999. Four years later, 10 Brazilian and three Italian doctors certified a “case of extraordinary healing” that was unanimously recognized by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.

The miracle occurred in January of 2001 when Claudia Santos de Araujo, a Brazilian woman devoted to Sr. Dulce, suffered severe hemorrhaging after childbirth and fell into a coma. Doctors gave her only hours to live.

A priest friend who knew of Claudia’s devotion to Sr. Dulce prayed to her for the woman’s health. In a matter of hours, Claudia was completely cured.

Doctors could find no explanation for her recovery, and two days later she was released from the hospital with her baby. …

Go here for the rest of the story.