September 6, 2011

Biden’s ‘Barbarians’ Blast Barely a Media Blip

BidenBarbarians090511Yesterday, at organized labor’s traditional Labor Day picnic at Cincinnati’s Coney Island amusement park, Vice President Joe Biden gave the keynote address. His key lines, as reported by Carl Weiser at the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Politics Extra blog (video is here at MRC-TV): “… this is a different kind of fight. This is a fight for the heart and soul of the labor movement. This is a fight for the existence of organized labor. You are the only ones who can stop the barbarians at the gate! That’s why they want you so bad.”

Biden’s statement is in an important aspect more problematic than the more widely (but not sufficiently widely) noted “son of a b*tches” comment made by Teamsters President James Hoffa Jr. in Detroit yesterday at a Labor Day event President Obama keynoted. While Hoffa was threatening and hateful, he was at least in theory speaking only for Big Labor (though Obama has essentially adopted it by not condemning it). In Cincinnati, Biden, who was elected to serve all citizens of the country, personally characterized a large plurality of those he is supposed to be serving with a word which means “savage, primitive, uncivilized persons.” Biden’s “barbarians”comment has received very light establishment press coverage, as did what appears to have been a singularly unimpressive number of people who actually heard his speech:

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Great Point From IPI: OMB Not a Player in Obama’s Supposed Jobs Proposals

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:05 pm

That would be the Institute for Policy Innovation, in its most recent Policy Byte (published in full; bolds are mine):

No One Cares About Obama’s Jobs Speech—Including His Budget Office

What if the president of the United States wanted to address a joint session of Congress on a topic he believed vital to the country and nobody cared—including his own budget office?

Perhaps the most underreported story last week was the announcement from the Office of Management and Budget that the unemployment rate would likely remain in the 9.0 percent range throughout 2012. And this a week before the president plans to deliver to Congress and the nation a jobs package that is supposed to help create jobs.

So what is OMB telling us? You would think that if the White House and its relevant advisors had been developing a drop-dead jobs-creation package, OMB would have waited until after the speech and then released an analysis saying that unemployment would likely remain in the 9 percent range, but that number could be significantly lower if Congress adopted the president’s jobs plan.

So did the White House not consult with OMB about its jobs proposals? Or, more likely, is it that everyone in the administration knows that there’s nothing new or innovative in the jobs package, and that it likely won’t pass anyway because it costs billions of federal dollars the government doesn’t have?

Either way, the “anticipation factor” for the president’s speech is very low, because no one expects that his proposals—mired as the White House is in Keynesian economics and big-spending notions—would do any good anyway. No one, including, apparently, the president’s own budget office.

Note that OMB published its “Mid-Session Review” Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m., giving the press little time to read through and report on it before the close of business on Thursday. Friday, of course, was getaway day before a long holiday weekend. How convenient.

John Kasich v. Mitt Romney on Jobs

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:36 pm

It’s Kasich in a rout, based on only seven months in office.

Both took over states which were bottoming out in jobs after a downturn.

From December 2002 through July of 2003 (a fair starting point because business expectations should have supposedly changed for the better after his election), Massachusetts under Mitt Romney lost 37,400 seasonally adjusted jobs. It took three years and three months — until March 2006 — for the state’s level of employment to get back to where it was in December 2002.

From December 2010 through July of 2011, Ohio has Added 80,200 seasonally adjusted jobs. Assuming SB5 stands and that President Obama doesn’t totally sabotage everything (the second may be a too-brave assumption), there’s no reason to believe it can’t continue.

During his entire term (i.e., the four years ended December 2006), Massachusetts under Romney added 30,600 jobs. A Daily Caller item here [HT Hot Air] cites 45,800 jobs gained from January 2003 through January 2007 — 47th in the nation.

In four years, basically good ones as far as the economy was concerned, job growth in the Bay State under Romney was unimpressive — about 1.0% – 1.5% of the state’s workforce depending on the measurement dates. In the same four-year period (Dec. 2002 through Dec. 2006), Texas added 810,000 jobs, increasing its workforce by 8.6%.

As to his prowess as an alleged job creator, perhaps the most damning statistic about Massachusetts is really what happened during 2007, the first year Romney was gone and the state’s first year under Commonwealth Care aka RomneyCare. During that year, while the nation’s workforce grew by 1.54%, (almost 2.1 million), Bay State employment only increased by 0.84% — and of the 27,500 workers added that year, 3,900 were added in state and local government. Heaven knows how many of the private-sector jobs reported were pencil-pushers and data entry clerks hired to deal with RomneyCare.

I hear Mitt Romney has a 38-page 160-page jobs plan. I don’t care; readers who want to look at it surely can go to Google and find it. I don’t know why they would. What he says means nothing. What he has done in so many areas, including the move that originally earned him the Objectively Unfit Mitt moniker, means everything.

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UPDATE, Sept. 7: See, it wasn’t worth bothering. From a Wednesday Wall Street Journal editorial

Mitt Romney’s 59 Economic Flavors
A jobs plan that shrinks from some of the biggest issues.

… the 160 pages and 59 proposals also strike us as surprisingly timid and tactical considering our economic predicament. They’re a technocrat’s guide more than a reform manifesto.

That was sooooo unexpected. (/sarc)

ISM Non Manufacturing: 53.3%, up from 52.7%

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 11:55 am

From the Institute for Supply Management:

Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in August for the 21st consecutive month, say the nation’s purchasing and supply executives in the latest Non-Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®.

… “The NMI registered 53.3 percent in August, 0.6 percentage point higher than the 52.7 percent registered in July, and indicating continued growth at a slightly faster rate in the non-manufacturing sector. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index decreased 0.5 percentage point to 55.6 percent, reflecting growth for the 25th consecutive month, but at a slower rate than in July. The New Orders Index increased by 1.1 percentage points to 52.8 percent. The Employment Index decreased 0.9 percentage point to 51.6 percent, indicating growth in employment for the 12th consecutive month, but at a slower rate than in July. The Prices Index increased 7.6 percentage points to 64.2 percent, indicating that prices increased at a faster rate in August when compared to July. According to the NMI, 10 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in August. Respondents’ comments remain mixed. There is a degree of uncertainty concerning business conditions for the balance of the year.”

Given how awful other news has been and while noting that the inflation indicator is troubling, I’m going to dissent from Zero Hedge’s downbeat take (“Non Manfucaturing ISM Beats Expectations On Far Weaker Sub-Headline Data”) and say: “I’ll take it.”

Kotlikoff: True ‘Fiscal Gap’ Is $211 Trillion

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:59 am

That’s not a typo (audio is at the link), as explained by Boston University economist and National Economic Recovery Initiative adviser Larry Kotlikoff a month ago:

When Standard & Poor’s reduced the nation’s credit rating from AAA to AA-plus, the United States suffered the first downgrade to its credit rating ever. S&P took this action despite the plan Congress passed this past week to raise the debt limit.

The downgrade, S&P said, “reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics.”

It’s those medium- and long-term debt problems that also worry economics professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff, who served as a senior economist on President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers. He says the national debt, which the U.S. Treasury has accounted at about $14 trillion, is just the tip of the iceberg.

“We have all these unofficial debts that are massive compared to the official debt,” Kotlikoff tells David Greene, guest host of weekends on All Things Considered. “We’re focused just on the official debt, so we’re trying to balance the wrong books.”

Kotlikoff explains that America’s “unofficial” payment obligations — like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits — jack up the debt figure substantially.

“If you add up all the promises that have been made for spending obligations, including defense expenditures, and you subtract all the taxes that we expect to collect, the difference is $211 trillion. That’s the fiscal gap,” he says. “That’s our true indebtedness.”

Do the math. $211 trillion, consisting of current debt plus future obligations, is:

  • About 14 times GDP.
  • $675,000 or so for every man, woman and child in the U.S.
  • About 4,200 Bernie Madoffs at $50 billion each.

The figure assumes no changes to current entitlement and other programs. 

Do I really need to note that it’s unsustainable, or that proposing monstrous increases in spending in the current situation is incredibly reckless?

Lucid Links (090611, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:09 am

At the Washington Post“Obama ratings sink to new lows as hope fades.” They probably had to oversample Dems and unlikely voters to even get his approval to 43%.

It’s not going to get any better if all we see after violent rhetoric at a rally he keynoted is “no comment.”

Even ABC News couldn’t ignore the hypocrisy: “Despite President Obama’s repeated claims to change the tone in Washington, the White House had no comment this afternoon after Teamsters Union leader James Hoffa, speaking at an event before President Obama, said of Tea Party activists that, come November, Democrats should ‘take these sons of bitches out.’”

More: “Teamsters union president James Hoffa would say it all again if he could …” Does the White House have any regrets about being associated with what he non-regretfully said?

Also: “(DNC Chair Debbie) Wasserman Schultz Avoids Hoffa Question.”

Related, at BigGovernment.com — “After Jimmy Hoffa Calls for War on Tea Party Movement, Barack Obama Forgets What He Said in Tucson.” Specifically:

“But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”

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“Arab Spring” Updates:

  • “Libyan rebels round up black Africans” — “holding them in makeshift jails across the capital.”
  • Libya: “Meet the new enemy, same as the old enemy” — “U.S. Intelligence officials have warned that jihadists are calling for continued revolution in Libya with the desire to overthrow the Transitional National Council and to establish a Shariah Islamic state.”
  • Egypt and Libya to Join Iran’s Terror Network” — “The Muslim Brotherhood has joined forces with the powerful Egyptian military. It clearly is the dominant force inside Egypt, and is getting more control daily.”
  • “New law on Egypt’s electoral constituencies favors Islamists” — “The new law regulating electoral constituencies soon to be announced by Egypt’s military rulers – in which electoral constituencies are larger with higher populations – will favor Islamist parties, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, say experts.”

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Foolish comment of the day:

Gilles de Kerchove, the EU’s Counter-terrorism Co-ordinator, has said that attacks like those perpetrated on 9/11 are no longer possible. De Kerchove was speaking as the world prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Why it is the foolish comment of the day (from June):

Nigerian National Allegedly Used Univ. Of Michigan ID & Expired Boarding Pass

The FBI is investigating a major security breach at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Someone boarded a plane with a college ID and a bogus boarding pass her she found on a subway train, reports CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.

What authorities say Nigerian national Olajide Noibi pulled off was thought by many travelers to be impossible.

Apparently not.

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In an editorial at Investor’s Business Daily, with a title that doesn’t really need a question mark: “A $4.2 Bil Subsidy For Illegals?” (“words fail” bold is mine):

If the federal government had actually wanted to encourage illegal immigration, wouldn’t a big tax credit be the way to bring them in? Lucky us, that’s what the IRS is doing — and with our money.

A blistering Treasury Department audit released Friday found that “individuals not authorized to work in the United States were paid $4.2 billion in refundable credits.” Those credits are meant to zero out any taxes paid by the poor, and often amount to checks as high as $1,000, courtesy of other taxpayers.

In the last five years, some 2.3 million illegal immigrants decided they, too, were “entitled” to that money, and the IRS paid them. Word got out and the payouts to illegals grew fourfold over the last five years.

The Treasury report noted that paying these credits to illegals is explicitly prohibited by U.S. law, which holds that those unauthorized to work here cannot receive federal benefits.

The IRS claims it’s not its job to check the immigration status of those requesting U.S. money (easily done if a filer has a valid Social Security number instead of a “taxpayer ID”).

As much as the open-borders lobby insists that illegal immigrants are only here to work and produce, this report shows they’re also here to drain and consume.

I wonder if this got into those rosy Wall Street Journal and other calculations showing how illegal immigration is supposedly a net positive for the economy? (/sarc)

Positivity: Remembering Mother Teresa

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

Mother Teresa was received by God on September 5, 1997.

From Catholic Relief Services, in a 2010 article:

The phone rang in Sean Callahan’s new office in Calcutta, India. The soft voice on the line told him to start loading trucks with supplies and to be ready to leave in two hours.

People in neighboring Bangladesh, struggling with heavy flooding, needed help quickly. Despite knowing that traffic wasn’t being allowed to cross the border into Bangladesh, Sean obliged and readied the trucks.

As the aid trucks approached the border, to no surprise, a line of trucks were being stopped and inspected by border patrols. When patrolmen approached the truck, the driver pointed to his traveling companion, the soft-spoken woman who organized the trip. When the patrolman saw Mother Teresa sitting in the front seat of the lead truck and her sisters in the Missionaries of Charity in each of the other trucks, they were promptly escorted to the front of the line and allowed to cross the border and offer aid to suffering Bangladeshis.

Mother Teresa, who was born on August 26, 1910, had a long history of working with Catholic Relief Services to help the poor across the globe. Her inspiration helps CRS carry on her mission today.
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