June 30, 2011

‘We The People’ Update

Filed under: News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:13 pm

WeThePeopleLogoherman-cain_052111Received just a short time ago via email from We The People Director Tom Zawistowski:

we just found out that Herman Cain is going to be with us all afternoon on Saturday to just meet the attendees and perhaps participate in some of the breakout sessions. So this is a chance to have personal access to him.

Out … standing.

Comment of the Day: ‘Obama Wants Class Warfare? Well, He Got It’

At this Wall Street Journal item (HT Zero Hedge) — Since there doesn’t seem to be a way to directly link to the comment (it’s currently at Page 32 of the comments sorted by oldest first), I thought that it was important enough to merit a graphic grab:

WSJcommentOnClassWarfare062911

It was bad enough how this elitism grew during the Republican Congress after the 1994 Gingrich Revolution was supposed to change things following years of what was up to that point unprecedented elitism and corruption (remember the House Bank and Dan Rostenkowski, to name just a couple?). We can argue about whether it got as bad from 1995-2006 as pre-1994 (I would argue that it didn’t, but they were working hard to get there; since the government was bigger, maybe it did anyway, and we just didn’t see it all). But it really doesn’t matter, because it shouldn’t have come back at all.

Now, under Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and until last year Nancy Pelosi, the corruption and elitism are at least as bad as they were in the early 1990s. Probably much worse, because corrupt elitism rules the roost in the Executive Branch, and with a new twist, brought forth above by Wayne: If they have to screw the citizenry to maintain their cushy lifestyles, exemptions, waivers, and perks, they will. Bleep the little people.

Wayne’s comment is as good an explanation as there is as to why the Tea Party movement caught fire in early 2009 (once it became obvious that Hope and Change was the Same-old Same-old, but on steroids), and why it’s still sweeping across mainstream America. Anyone who still asserts that it’s a Republican movement which can be co-opted by the same people who helped us get to this point is either sadly mistaken, an elitist apologist, or both.

Still Stuck on Stagnant: Initial Unemployment Claims — SA 428k, NSA 403K (Down only 9% from 2010)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:59 am

Well, for the first time since I began tracking it in detail about 18 weeks ago, initial claims reported the previous week weren’t revised upward.

This week, seasonally adjusted initial claims stayed almost exactly where they were a week ago:

In the week ending June 25, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 428,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week’s unrevised figure of 429,000. The 4-week moving average was 426,750, an increase of 500 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 426,250.

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 403,284 in the week ending June 25, an increase of 8,998 from the previous week. There were 444,712 initial claims in the comparable week in 2010.

Zero Hedge says expectations were for a result of 420,000, and predicts that hapless forecasters will be cutting their estimates of June job growth, which the government will officially report on July 8, as a result.

425,000 or so is not where we want to be, but it’s where we seem stuck.

An Ohio note: As seen in the DOL’s press release, the state reported that in the previous week (i.e., the week ended June 18), initial claims dropped by 2,769. That will probably go the other way in the next few weeks with scheduled auto industry plant shutdowns.

WSJ: The ‘Revenue’ Problem Is a Slow-Growth Problem Caused by Obama Administration Policies (Also: Pethokoukis and Boehner)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:36 am

What follows should be so drop-dead obvious by now that it requires no elaboration, but the Journal soldiers through it in its lead editorial this morning (bolds, italics, and numbered tags are mine):

Obama’s Real Revenue Problem
Tax receipts are low because of the mediocre economic recovery.

… Six months after he agreed to a bipartisan extension of current tax rates, he (Obama) is now insisting on tax increases as part of the debt-ceiling talks. At his press conference yesterday he repeated this demand, as well as his recent talking point that taxes are lower than they’ve been in generations. Let’s examine that claim because it explains Washington’s real revenue problem—slow economic growth.

as recently as 2007 the current tax structure raised 18.5% of GDP in revenue, which is slightly above the modern historical average. Even in 2008, when the economy grew not at all, federal tax receipts still came in at 17.5% of the economy.

Today’s revenue problem is the result of the mediocre economic recovery.

But what about the liberal claim, repeated constantly, that the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 caused today’s deficits? CBO has shown this to be demonstrably false. On May 12, the budget arm of Congress examined the changes in its baseline projections from 2001 through 2011. In 2001, it had predicted a surplus in 2011 of $889 billion. Instead, it expects a deficit of $1.4 trillion.

What explains that $2.29 trillion budget reversal? Well, the direct revenue loss from the combination of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts contributed roughly $216 billion, or only about 9.5% of the $2.29 trillion. And keep in mind that even this low figure is based on a static revenue model that assumes almost no gains from faster economic growth. [1]

After the Bush investment tax cuts of 2003, tax revenues were $786 billion higher in 2007 ($2.568 trillion) than they were in 2003 ($1.782 trillion), the biggest four-year increase in U.S. history. [2] So as flawed as it is, the current tax code with a top personal income tax rate of 35% is clearly capable of generating big revenue gains.

… The payroll tax cut was sold in the name of stimulating growth and hiring, yet the economy has grown more slowly this year than in last year’s fourth quarter. As we’ve long argued, the “temporary, targeted and timely” tax cuts favored by Keynesians and the White House don’t do much for growth because they don’t permanently change incentives to save and invest. [3] Mr. Obama was hawking more of those yesterday, even as he wants to raise taxes overall.

The lesson is that when it comes to growth, not all tax cuts are created equal. The tax cuts with the biggest bang for the buck are permanent, take effect immediately, and hit at the next dollar of marginal income.

… Even orthodox Keynesian policy doesn’t recommend a tax increase with growth under 2% and the jobless rate at 9.1%.

… As for revenues, they will increase when the economy shakes its lethargy caused by Mr. Obama’s policies. A tax increase won’t help growth—or revenues.

Notes:

  • [1] — That, in the real world, the initial “cost” of the Bush tax cuts was closer to zero. Without them, the economy would have turned around much more slowly, if at all, with obvious negative effects on collections.
  • [2] — Here’s the graphic evidence for the “must have charts” crowd:
  • FederalReceipts2003thru2007

  • [3] — We shouldn’t have done this, but since we did, consider it another failed Keynesian exercise.

Over at Reuters this morning, James Pethokoukis piled on:

Obamanomics, leaving on a jet plane

… the clumsy attempt at class warfare (using the bully pulpit to demagogue accelerated depreciation on corporate jets) probably wasn’t even Obama’s most disheartening moment during the presser. Several others were at least equally as bad:

1) The president unnecessarily raised the specter of default if the debt ceiling is not raised by early August …

2) The president perpetuated this myth: “You can’t reduce the deficit to the levels that it needs to be reduced without having some revenue in the mix. “ … If we need more money, grow the economy faster.

3) Maybe the biggest economic issue of the year, other than the anemic recovery, is the National Labor Relations Board attack on Boeing and its decision to open an aircraft assembly line in right-to-work South Carolina. This de facto attempt to impose wage controls on one of America’s largest exporters by limiting where it can do business is a dagger aimed at the heart of the American free enterprise system. But here, sadly, is the president again leading from behind … (“That’s going to be up to a judge to decide.”)

C’mon, James. You know and I know that Obama agrees with the NLRB, but lacks the integrity and courage to say so.

John Boehner’s response yesterday was on-target:

The President is sorely mistaken if he believes a bill to raise the debt ceiling and raise taxes would pass the House. The votes simply aren’t there – and they aren’t going to be there, because the American people know tax hikes destroy jobs. They also know Washington has been on a spending binge for many years, and they will only tolerate a debt limit increase if we stop it.

The new majority in the House is going to stand with the American people.

In a separate fundraising e-mail, Boehner, responding to Obama’s implication that the Speaker is “playing games,” fired back:

I’m not playing

… I’m not looking to score political points. I’m fighting for the millions of American families and small businesses who know that tax hikes destroy jobs.

Obama is the one playing a game. Its sole object is keeping his sorry authoritarian butt in the Oval Office another four years, the country’s well-being be damned. For Boehner, it’s about saving the country’s economy. Given what has to be acknowledged as his spring stumble, he needs to prove that he’s up to the task. Time is short, John.

Positivity: Pope Launched Vatican News Portal on Tuesday

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From the Vatican, in a report written the day before it opened (the portal is now up and running):

Jun 27, 2011 / 04:02 pm

On June 28, Pope Benedict XVI will launch the Vatican’s first multimedia news portal, which is also designed for mobile devices.

“We are trying to give everybody an opportunity to have Vatican news immediately in a modern and accessible way, using new technology,” said Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, in an interview with CNA on June 27.

He explained that the Pope will have the privilege of giving the “first click” to take the site online, a reflection of the way Pope Pius XI inaugurated the transmission of Vatican Radio 80 years ago.

Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See’s Press Office, explained to CNA that the Pope’s first click will be “a simple but powerful and symbolic action,” to demonstrate that the new initiative is a response to “a desire of the Pope for the new communication of the Church.”

One of the most notable new features of www.news.va will be its integration with social networks, and a design geared toward mobile devices such as the iPad. “This is a new approach for us,” Archbishop Celli noted.

The new information source will highlight the Pope’s travels, acts and teachings. It will also contain statements released by various departments of the Vatican, news developments from local churches worldwide and information about other important global developments.

“It is synergy, bringing together the contribution of different media,” commented Fr. Lombardi.

Go here for the rest of the story.

June 29, 2011

Ohio’s Lost Decade, and Its New Hope

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,General,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:44 pm

NoTaftNoStrickland0611kaisich_hope_thumbnail_6-24-11WeThePeopleLogoCan John Kasich and Tea Party activists save Ohio?

___________________

Note: This column went up at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Monday. I intend to keep this column at or near the top today.

___________________

I first saw John Kasich in person at a county Lincoln Day dinner in early 2007. Though the former congressman was a bit under the weather, his animated, passionate style and strong convictions were still quite evident. When he said, in essence, that “Ohio is circling the drain,” you knew he meant it, even though I doubted it.

I shouldn’t have. With the election of Ted Strickland, I believed that trouble was probably on the way. I didn’t appreciate that it was already here.

A recent USA Today chart compiled from government data reported that from 2001 to 2010, Ohio’s economy contracted. Not by much, mind you — 0.7% — but only auto-overdependent Michigan fared worse (-7.1%), and no other state grew by less than 6%. As a whole, despite the Internet bubble, the 9/11 attacks and the recession, the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by over 16% during the decade. Meanwhile, the Buckeye State’s economy spent the time mired in mediocrity and worse, and all those who could have done something about it did was damage.
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From Columbus, Via the Church of ‘They Said It Couldn’t Be Done’: A Real Turnaround Ohio Budget Has Passed

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:42 pm

oh_mapI just received what follows below from Ohio’s House Republicans, and am choosing to publish it in its entirety.

While there will perhaps be time to quibble later (it’s no fun if we don’t reserve the opportunity to do that :–>), the importance of the overall accomplishments noted in what follows should not be underestimated, and should, after well over 15 years of de facto blue-state governance, be savored (bolds are mine):

Ohio House of Representatives Passes Historic Budget that Prioritizes Education, Job Creation in Ohio
$8 billion deficit closed without raising taxes

COLUMBUS—Maintaining a promise that was made during the previous General Assembly, the Ohio House of Representatives today passed a sustainable, fiscally responsible budget bill, marking a historic effort to successfully fill an $8 billion budget deficit without raising taxes on Ohioans.

Substitute House Bill 153, in addition to improving government efficiency and making Ohio more economically competitive, makes significant investments in the programs and services that matter most to Ohioans, while at the same time respecting and protecting Ohio’s taxpayers.

“After a challenging three and a half months of thoughtful debate and consideration from members on both sides of the aisle, today we took a momentous step toward a leaner, more cost-effective state government,” said Speaker of the Ohio House William G. Batchelder (R-Medina). “Throughout this process we have kept the interests of Ohio’s families and the middle class at the center of the debate, ensuring that we didn’t increase their tax burden at a time when they are least able to afford it.”

To retain Ohio’s small businesses, assist family farmers and encourage retirees to remain in Ohio, the Ohio Legislature included a provision in Sub. H.B. 153 to eliminate the estate tax in its entirety effective January 1, 2013. In total, Ohio’s taxpayers will save nearly $1 billion over the biennium through the Legislature’s efforts to reduce government waste and reconfigure the allocation of scarce financial resources.

The budget also establishes InvestOhio, which strives to spur new investment in Ohio and enhance innovation by rewarding major investments in the state. It would exempt any Ohioan who invests in an Ohio company and holds that investment for at least two years from paying state income taxes on its gains. Additionally, if an individual utilizes the gains from selling a stock to reinvest in an Ohio company and retains that investment for a two-year period, they may apply for a refundable state tax credit related to that original sale of shares.

“Creating jobs, encouraging investment in Ohio’s small businesses and making it easier to do business in Ohio were some of the primary objectives of this budget,” said Chairman of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster). “We took significant steps toward making Ohio a role model for the rest of the nation in an effort to revitalize what has been, in recent years, a struggling economy. We’re transforming the way the state of Ohio operates, solving the current structural imbalance without raising taxes. This is how an effective, responsible government should operate.”

Sub. H.B. 153 holds education paramount and uses existing funds to provide in-state college tuition rates for Ohio high school graduates who have left the state within the past 10 years, which would incentivize their return to the state. Moreover, the budget adds more than $100 million in additional dollars over the executive version to the school foundation formula and guarantees that no district receives a cut in state aid.

The Legislature also expanded the value of and the eligible participants in the Cleveland Voucher Program to make education more affordable and to untie the hands of low-income families. The budget also increases the number of EdChoice Scholarship Program vouchers to 14,000 to 60,000 in fiscal year 2013 and increases the charter school sponsorship cap to 100.

“When the State of Ohio brought in increased revenue, we decided to invest those dollars in Ohio’s schools and give them an additional boost in their state aid,” said Vice-chairman of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee John Carey (R-Wellston). “Through this budget, we continue to capitalize on the opportunities before us and invest in the things that matter. At this time, we believe that our schools need the additional dollars so we can ensure that Ohio’s students receive a quality education, even during this difficult economy.”

The Legislature prioritizes protecting Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens by investing $31.3 million in fiscal year 2012 and $63 million in fiscal year 2013 over the executive budget in PASSPORT for seniors and allocating an additional $7.5 million for mental health services. Funding for Second Harvest Food Banks increases by $1 million annually to provide food and resources to people in need. Additionally, the budget provides for kinship care funding at $6 million over the biennium.

Moreover, the budget provides $400,000 for the State Medical Board to fight prescription drug abuse, which has become increasingly prevalent, particularly in southern Ohio.

“The 2012-2013 budget means more than just an allocation of money for the biennium—it is an outline of our state’s priorities now and in the future,” said Amstutz. “In addition to promoting a better state economy and investing in our schools, the budget also safeguards Ohio’s citizens and promotes a better quality of life in Ohio.”

Putting education—as well as job creation and economic growth—first in this budget, the Ohio Legislature devoted an unwavering commitment to responsibly filling the multi-billion dollar budget deficit that was inherited from the previous administration.

Speaker Batchelder, Chairman Amstutz, and Vice-chairman Carey would like to thank Governor Kasich and the Ohio Senate for their continued hard work and collaboration on Sub. H.B. 153. They are also appreciative of the many citizens and interested parties who testified before the committee to help make the budget a better, more comprehensive bill.

“This budget has been a long and, at times, difficult process, but I could not be more pleased with this bill or the diligence that went into construction of this budget,” said Batchelder. “We’ve taken great strides toward making Ohio a better place to live, work, raise a family and start a business—but to paraphrase my good friend in the Governor’s Office, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Sub. H.B. 153 now awaits the governor’s signature.

Related: Ohio’s Lost Decade, and Its New Hope

AP Joins Bloomberg in Predictable Purge of ‘Unexpectedly’ in Consumer Confidence Report

APheartsObamaOne might be an accident. Two indicates a bit of a trend.

Yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that an early dispatch from Bloomberg on a disappointing consumer confidence report opened by telling readers that “Consumer confidence unexpectedly fell in June to a seven-month low …” A later version purged the dreaded U-word (“unexpectedly”), opening with “Consumer confidence dropped to a seven-month low in June …”

It seems that hypersensitivity about use of the U-word — which during the Obama administration has come to mean “unexpectedly bad” far more often than not — is also present at the Associated Press. Recently, it seems that the AP has generally avoided the problem by ignoring analysts’ predictions when reality reveals that they were far too optimistic. Yesterday, in a more obvious revelation of the wire service’s mindset, a pair of Retail Writer Anne D’Innocenzio’s consumer confidence dispatches repeated the U-word purge seen at Bloomberg. What follows are graphic grabs of the early sections of both reports and a related subsequent paragraph within each.

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IBD Rips (Not Really) Clueless Ben

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:33 am

In a Tuesday editorial, Investors Business Daily explains to Ben Bernanke what anyone not blinded by ideology can see about why the economy is underperforming:

How Can The Fed Be So Clueless?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says he’s puzzled by the failure of the economy to respond to our government’s many ministrations. Which explains much of why our economy is such a mess.

… We’ve spent the better part of three years with government making the most extraordinary interventions in the economy in our nation’s history.

Government spending, as a share of the economy, has soared 25%. Regulations, many of them arbitrary and foolish, such as the ban on incandescent light bulbs, have never been more numerous.

Businesses say in survey after survey that, with all the government’s micromanaging of the economy, they are uncertain of what comes next, and therefore are postponing investment and hiring decisions….

After reciting the well-known litany of failures and heavy-handed interventions, IBD cuts to the chase (bolds are mine):

Look at what’s transpiring in our markets. After repeated government intervention, no one today knows the real price of food, housing, energy, raw industrial goods, bonds or stocks (or medical care — Ed.). The amount of government money distorting these vital parts of our free economy is so great, our markets can’t really function.

Free prices set by buyers and sellers are the way free markets work. Free prices create efficiency. They send vital signals about what to produce — not to mention when and where and at what price.

Absent those price signals, which happen spontaneously between buyers and sellers, a free-market economy can’t work. That’s what’s happening today. And that’s why the USSR, with all of its grand five-year plans and thousands upon thousands of apparatchiks, couldn’t make its command economy fly.

A handful of bureaucrats can never set prices or allocate goods or decide what should be made as efficiently as millions of people acting in their own interest through a free and open market.

Our policymakers seem to have forgotten this. They make statements that indicate they don’t know the damage their policies are doing or they are willfully oblivious to them.

I vote for the last five bolded words, especially in regards to Bernanke. I believe that the Obama administration made it clear in no uncertain terms a year ago (evidence here, here, and here) that if the economy tanked, he would get smeared with the blame — even though, short of running the electronic printing presses at full speed, he had done everything he could with monetary policy in an attempt to offset God-awful fiscal policy. So, instead of standing up, he ran the printing presses.

Additionally, certain people in Washington are quite pleased with themselves at the damage they’re causing in the name of achieving their “progressive” nirvana. To believe this, all you need to do is look at what they were saying before they were given power.

Feigned ignorance is the last refuge of Gangster Government.

Positivity: Remembering Mildred Fay Jefferson

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From National Right to Life (HT to a Mass Citizens for Life email):

Also: Michael J. New’s tribute at the Corner.

June 28, 2011

Case Shiller Home Price ‘Boost’ Disappears After Seasonal Adjustment; AP, S&P Like the Raw Numbers Better

While the vast majority of those in the establishment press doggedly insist on reporting seasonally adjusted numbers in most economic spheres, there is an odd exception: Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

Not that it’s completely the press’s fault. S&P emphasizes the raw numbers over the seasonally adjusted ones, and for a pretty good reason: The raw numbers represent what’s really happening on the ground with home prices. In the current economy, the seasonal calculations can’t really be said to reflect typical seasonal patterns. Of course, this logic should apply to other key areas, particularly employment, but we (or maybe it’s the reporters) are apparently not mature enough to understand large monthly swings in jobs added or lost, or able to see them in the context of previous years.

Given that the press usually hangs its hat on seasonal numbers, you’d think they’d be more than a little shy about copying S&P’s press release, which today described a very small increase as a a “boost” in home prices, which disppeared after seasonal adjustment, as seen below:

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Bloomberg Predictably Drops ‘Unexpectedly’ From Consumer Confidence Report

BloombergLogoIt looks like someone in the establishment business press might be getting a little touchy about the razzing they continually receive for delivering “unexpectedly” bad economic news.

As captured by Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit and corroborated in this Google News description, Bloomberg’s 10:16 a.m. report on consumer sentiment told readers that “Consumer confidence unexpectedly fell in June to a seven-month low, indicating that slowing employment gains are weighing on Americans’ outlooks.”

At 11:31 a.m. — to be clear, not influenced by Reynolds’s post, which went up shortly after noon — a sanitized version of the report by Alex Kowalski and Jillian Berman read as follows:

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