July 9, 2011

Boehner: ‘The WH will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes’

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:10 pm

Well then, the heck with them.

Just received the following e-mail from the Speaker (web link here):

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement today regarding ongoing debt limit discussions with the White House:

“Despite good-faith efforts to find common ground, the White House will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes. I believe the best approach may be to focus on producing a smaller measure, based on the cuts identified in the Biden-led negotiations, that still meets our call for spending reforms and cuts greater than the amount of any debt limit increase.”

In the words of a famous British Prime Minister to Bush 41 in 1990:

ThatcherDontGoWobbly1990

It might be a good idea to relay an echo of Ms. Thatcher’s words to Mr. Boehner: “Don’t go wobbly on rejecting any and all tax increases.”

AP Report Interrupts Two-Sentence Boehner Statement With Seven Grafs of Obama Admin Set-up

BoehnerGiven the opportunity to directly relay the two sentences of House Speaker John Boehner on the status of debt-ceiling and budget negotiations tonight, the Associated Press’s Andrew Taylor and Jim Kuhnhenn, in their 9:29 p.m. report (saved here at my web host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) disgracefully cut the Speaker’s statement off after its first sentence and inserted seven paragraphs designed to minimize its full impact, leaving readers unaware of Boehner’s full statement with the impression that its second sentence was uttered sometime and somewhere else.

Boehner’s full statement follows:

Statement by Speaker Boehner on Debt Limit Discussions
Washington (Jul 9)

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement today regarding ongoing debt limit discussions with the White House:

“Despite good-faith efforts to find common ground, the White House will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes. I believe the best approach may be to focus on producing a smaller measure, based on the cuts identified in the Biden-led negotiations, that still meets our call for spending reforms and cuts greater than the amount of any debt limit increase.”

Here is what Taylor and Kuhnhenn rudely interjected between Boehner’s two sentences (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

The White House responded that Obama will continue to push to make as much progress on deficit reduction as possible.

Boehner’s statement came a day before he and seven of the top House and Senate leaders were scheduled to meet at the White House in a negotiating session and lay out their remaining differences.

A deficit reduction deal is crucial to win Republican support for an increase in the nation’s debt ceiling. The government’s borrowing capacity is currently capped at $14.3 trillion and administration officials say it will go into default without action by Aug. 2.

Obama tried to build political support for an ambitious package of spending cuts and new tax revenue [1] that would reduce the debt by $4 trillion over 10 years. But from the moment he proposed it, Republicans said they would reject any tax increases and Democrats objected to spending cuts in some of their most prized benefit programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Vice President Joe Biden had already identified, but not signed off on, about $2 trillion in deficit reductions, most accomplished through spending cuts. [2]

But after holding a secret meeting with Boehner last weekend, Obama and his top aides said they believed an even bigger figure was attainable if both parties made politically painful, but potentially historic, choices. [3]

In the end, the pressure from both sides was pushing against Obama’s bigger goal. [4]

Notes:

  • [1] — What’s under discussion is not “new” tax “revenue,” it’s tax increases. As Senator John Kyl made clear earlier in the week, in a statement Reuters reporters tried to twist into openness to tax increases, Republicans are willing to look at sales of assets and user-fee adjustments to better reflect the underlying costs of services rendered as sources of one-time and ongoing “revenue” — but not tax increases.
  • [2] — The phrase “mostly through spending cuts” gives readers the impression that the Biden package includes tax increases. It doesn’t, as the second sentence in Mr. Boehner’s statement indicates. But apparently Taylor and Kuhnhenn are hoping many readers won’t get that far while they play stall-ball.
  • [3] — Isn’t it great how “historic choices” always seem to involve tax increases enacted now with spending cuts to come later (except that the spending cuts rarely show up in material form)?
  • [4] — Yeah, Obama is the guy with the “bigger goal,” while Boehner is just some narrow-minded rube who would prefer a bigger economy over a bigger government.

Because the AP reporters cut Boehner off, most readers will have every reason to believe that the second sentence of Mr. Boehner’s statement was said separately from his official statement. It wasn’t. “Clever,” guys. The first sentence in isolation makes Boehner look inflexible, while the second makes him open to bipartisanship with Biden’s spending-cut proposals. We can’t have readers thinking Republicans will work towards an agreement, can we?

It doesn’t seem at all unreasonable to expect two AP reporters to simply relay both parts of a two-sentence statement without interjecting the administration line. But apparently Taylor and Kuhnhenn are congenitally incapable of that. That’s why the oft-used name Apparatchik Press so often applies to dispatches from the self-described, hopelessly conceited Essential Global News Network.

In the meantime, many readers will agree with the Thatcherite suggestion I make at my home blog: Don’t go wobbly, Mr. Boehner.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

AP Biz Writer on Good Stocks to Buy: ‘One Good Bet: The Jobless Aren’t Likely to Find Work Anytime Soon’

unemployment-lineWhile Associated Press Economics writers like Christopher Rugaber and Paul Wiseman, as seen in a post this morning (at NewBusters; at BizzyBlog), talk of “baffled economists” and a job market that is “defying history,” one AP writer, in discussing stocks which have done well in this economy, has revealed what employment prospects really are with quite un-baffling certainty from the point of view of those who have to put their money where their expectations are, i.e., investors.

The wire service’s Bernard Condon cited a pawn shop operator, a payday lender, a debt-collection firm, and a rent-to-own outfit as companies which have outperformed the market and are expected to continue doing so. The reason for the expectation is found in the title of this post, which is also seen in the following excerpt from Condon’s composition:

How bad is it? Pawn shops, payday lenders are hot

As the jobless rate inches up and the economic recovery sputters, investors looking for a few good stocks may want to follow the money – or rather the TV, the beloved Fender guitar, the baubles from grandma, the wedding ring.

Profits at pawn shop operator Ezcorp Inc. have jumped by an average 46 percent annually for five years. The stock has doubled from a year ago, to about $38.

… In investing, it’s often better to focus on what you can safely predict, even if that safety is found in companies that thrive on hard times. One good bet: The jobless aren’t likely to find work anytime soon. And companies profiting from their bad fortune will continue to do so.

B-B-B-But I thought the president told us three months ago that “We are turning the corner.” And of course, there’s been no shortage of Associated Press and other wire service reports telling us that the economy is on the “rebound” and that the joblessness problem is a result of “temporary factors,” blah-blah-blah-blech.

Not so, as Condon explains, because when it comes to putting one’s money where the greatest expected returns are, the companies whose prospects are bright are those which work with the financially at risk or cater to the growing number of Americans who have become misers by necessity:

- Stock in payday lender Advance America Cash Advance Centers (AEA) has doubled from a year ago, to just under $8. Rival Cash America International Inc. (CSH) is up 64 percent, to $58. …

- Profits at Encore Capital Group, a debt collector that targets people with unpaid credit cards bills and other debts, rose nearly 50 percent last year. Encore has faced class action suits in several states, including California, over its collection practices. The Minnesota attorney general filed a suit in March. No matter. The stock (ECPG) is up 59 percent from a year ago, to more than $30.

- Stock in Rent-A-Center (RCII), which leases televisions, couches, computers and more, is up 57 percent from a year ago to nearly $32. Nine of the 11 analysts covering the company say it will rise further and that investors should buy it.

The idea of investing in companies catering to the hard-up might not be palatable to some people. But it is profitable.

Memo to Chris Rugaber and Paul Wiseman: It’s also not baffling and certainly doesn’t defy history.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

AP: Economists, Analysts, and Experts Are ‘Baffled,’ ‘Confounded’ By Job Market That Is ‘Defying History’

If we are believe two late Friday afternoon dispatches from the Associated Press following the government’s awful Employment Situation report earlier in the day, you would think that even a cadre of cops with the talent of Sherlock Holmes couldn’t solve the mystery of the underperforming job market.

Economics Writers Christopher Rugaber and Paul Wiseman went with themes of “baffled economists” and “defying history,” respectively.

First, here are a few paragraphs from Rugaber’s risible report (bolds are mine):

Weak hiring casts doubts on strength of rebound

Hiring slowed to a near-standstill last month, raising doubts that the economy will rebound in the second half of the year.

The report baffled economists who had predicted much stronger job creation. And it escalated a debate in Washington over how to spur hiring and energize the economy while also cutting federal spending.

For President Barack Obama, the sputtering job market represents a threat 16 months before his re-election bid.

Two years after the recession officially ended, companies are adding fewer workers despite record cash stockpiles and healthy profit margins.

A result is that more people are giving up looking for work.

Rugaber’s headline presupposes the existence of a “rebound.” That’s highly debatable. Pending revisions which seem likely to push the number even further downward, the fact is that employment has risen 524,000 seasonally adjusted jobs since the recession ended 24 months ago, an average of 22,000 per month. Over 90% of those jobs (479,000, again seasonally adjusted) have been added at temporary help services. The comparable actual figures (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) are 637,000 and 491,000. As I’ve been saying for 18 months, since the AP’s Jeannine Aversa cited the “Economy’s Fall –and Rebound” as the number one business story of the year for 2009(!): “Rebound? What Rebound?.”

Rugaber’s fourth excerpted paragraph continues the establishment press’s beyond-annoying habit of tying anything and everything to President Barack Obama’s prospects for reelection, in this case mostly breezing right past the frightening human cost of the economy which has developed on his watch. But of course, Rugaber never cites any Obama administration policies which might be causing the current economic malaise.

The AP reporter’s final two excerpted paragraphs represent a not-subtle attempt to blame the problem on meanie employers who won’t hire people. Chris, they would do so if they thought they could do it profitably. Why don’t you work on figuring out why they won’t?

The rest of Rugaber’s report cites several other excuses: the weak housing market (why is it weak, Chris?), rising energy prices (again, why is that occurring?), and how employers have suddenly become more “nimble” at determining exactly when they need more help (was logistics software just been invented sometime in the past month?) — anything to avoid looking at administration policy for the root causes.

Paul Wiseman’s whines are little better, but at least give him credit for looking at the human side. On the other hand, Wiseman, like Rugaber, looked over the scene of all the job killing and tagged computer software as an accomplice (bolds are mine):

Flat jobs data signal weakest recovery in decades

The job market is defying history.

A dismal June employment report shows that employers are adding nowhere near as many jobs as they normally do this long after a recession has ended.

The excruciatingly slow growth is confounding economists, spooking consumers and dismaying job seekers. Friday’s report forced analysts to re-examine their assumption that the economy would strengthen in the second half of 2011.

… the June numbers were even worse than May’s, even though gasoline prices are falling and factories revving up again.

Among the frustrated is Cris Cohen, who was laid off in April from a job as a contractor for Cisco Systems in Raleigh, N.C. He’s been searching for work since then, futilely combing job listings, reaching out to friends and setting up a website with a resume and a blog.

“In the past when I’ve left jobs or been laid off, I’ve just contacted connections I have had, and that’s led to opportunities,” says Cohen, who has a wife and a 9-year-old son. “Now it’s just seems much more dry…. There’s just always that anxious feeling, that nausea.”

One problem is that after slashing jobs during the Great Recession, employers are still reluctant to replace them. They’ve learned to squeeze more work and revenue out of reduced staffs.

Other factors are restraining hiring, too. More sophisticated software lets managers scrutinize changes in their businesses minute-by-minute. They can postpone hiring until they’re certain they need more workers.

Over at Heritage (HT to commenter dscott), Mike Gonzaez cites five legitimate reasons why hiring is lagging, all of which tie directly to Obama administration policies:

Stimulus package—The nearly $1 trillion boondoggle failed to stimulate, as we all now know, but made government grow beyond its means. … The government stimulus bill did not create jobs; instead it filled job creators with fears of future tax hikes or more borrowing, and thus future artificially high interest rates.

Obamacare—It took the Administration and the Democratic-held Congress a year and half to ram this piece of legislation down the throat of the American people, time that could have been spent fixing the employment picture. Worse yet, Obamacare imposes vast and expansive new regulations and made labor costs uncertain. …

Frank-Dodd Financial Bill—The heavy-handed Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill not only placed needless burdens on small as well as large financial institutions, but has deterred investment by imposing ill-defined restrictions on those who want to invest in the economy. And it did so without addressing the real causes of the financial crisis.

Environmental Protection Agency regulation—Unable to get Congress to pass Cap and Trade, with its skyrocketing electric rates, the Obama EPA is skinning the cat another way—mandating costly regulation. …

Regulatory Assault on Employers—The Administration’s enforcement agencies view employers as lawbreakers who need to be brought in line. … Obama’s message to employers has been clear: “We suspect you are breaking the law and we will get you.” Small wonder they are not hiring.

Read the whole thing.

I’d add energy policy as a sixth direct and indirect administration-driven cause on top of the five Gonzalez. On the direct side, ask unemployed oil industry workers in the Gulf and elsewhere. On the indirect side, look at what has happened to retail traffic since the gas price spike in the spring.

Getting back to AP: The causes of the current situation are not baffling at all. Its reporters’ failure to even get into the neighborhood of citing the obvious demonstrates that they’re deliberately botching their investigations.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘Buckeye State Activism Bodes Well for Fall Battles’)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:26 am

SOBwtpClercoIt’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Monday (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

__________________________

UPDATE: Matt Hurley at Weapons of Mass Discussion has posted full video of the Blogger Panel at the We The People Convention here. I appreciate all the work he did to make that happen.

Positivity: US bishops dedicate $2.1 million to Latin American pastoral work

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:17 am

From Washington:

Jul 8, 2011 / 02:16 am

The U.S. bishops’ subcommittee on the Church in Latin America has approved over $2.1 million in grants for 86 projects to help pastoral work in 20 countries.

“We continue to respond to the needs of the Church throughout Latin America,” said subcommittee chair Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles.

“We are working extensively with the Church in Haiti and in Chile as they continue to address the needs resulting from the earthquakes in 2010. In Haiti, we are helping build churches, schools, and convents that are designed and built to withstand future earthquakes.”

One special grant for the Catholic Church in Cuba will support evangelization efforts and the celebration of the 400th anniversary of its patron saint, Our Lady of Charity of Cobre.

Other projects include aid for the pastoral care of indigenous peoples in El Salvador and a social analysis project to aid pastoral work in Colombia. Funding will also go to GRAVIDA, an Argentinean network of pro-life and pro-family centers working in 21 dioceses.

Go here for the rest of the story.