October 26, 2011

New Home Sales: Still in the Dumps; Worst Year Since WWII Virtually Certain

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:37 pm

From the Census Bureau:

Sales of new single-family houses in September 2011 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 313,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 5.7 percent (±18.4%)* above the revised August rate of 296,000, but is 0.9 percent (±16.3%)* below the September 2010 estimate of 316,000.

The median sales price of new houses sold in September 2011 was $204,400; the average sales price was $243,900. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of September was 163,000. This represents a supply of 6.2 months at the current sales rate.

The raw number of new homes sold was 25,000, matching September 2010. Those two years represent the worst Septembers on record going back to 1963.

The 12-month trailing average is stuck at 301,000:


2011 will almost certainly be the worst year for new home sales on record, and really since World War II, perhaps even before considering changes in population. If population changes are considered, it’s a complete lock.

I was going to comment on President Obama’s housing- and mortgage-related proposals this week, but, as Kyle Drennen at NewsBusters noted, NBC has already done that for me: “NBC Admits Obama Mortgage Plan Won’t Work, But Cheers it As Good Politics.”

Romney Backs Away (i.e., Mitt-Flops) From Ohio Issue 2 (See Update)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:04 am


I’d say that this is the last straw, but readers here know that I reached my last straw on Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney four years ago.

What follows is something like the tenth “last straw”:


Jonathan Martin at Politico points out (HT Ricochet) that Romney backed Issue 2 in a Facebook posting in June.

Romney was visiting a phone bank devoted to getting out the vote for Issues 2 and 3.

Another day, another Mitt-flop. As leftist Michael Kinsley wrote in March: “His convenient and implausibly explained reversals on issues say all we need to know about his character. He will do or say anything to become president.” That line of attack makes Romney the only top-tier Republican candidate who can lose to Barack Obama next year.

It’s no secret that the ORPINO (Ohio Republican Party In Name Only) establishment is behind Romney’s quest for the GOP nomination.

If Kevin DeWine, Jon Husted, George Voinovich, and the rest of his Ohio supporters are choking on Mitt Romney’s emptiness today, it serves them right.

(Image at top is from BlueMassGroup.com)

UPDATE, 5 P.M.: Flippity-doo-da, Flippity-day (at Fox News) — “Romney Offers ’110 Percent’ Backing to Ohio Bargaining Bill After Confusion Over Support.”

As if any media outlets who reported the Mitt-flip will report the Mitt-flop.

Zheesh — The guy’s been on the campaign trail the better part of five years, and he still hasn’t learned when to keep his flippin’ mouth shut.

Wal-Mart Begins to Abandon Health Coverage for Part-Timers

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:06 am

Has anyone else noticed how the left has pretty much left Wal-Mart, the pre-2009 nexus of all capitalist evil, alone during the past few years? That’s because the chain and its CEO endorsed ObamaCare that year.

In an editorial today, the Wall Street Journal looks at how the chain’s sellout to ObamaCare has ended up hurting its employees (bolds are mine):

Last week the largest private U.S. employer announced that it would no longer offer health coverage to part-time workers and would sharply increase premiums for its other “associates.” Wal-Mart says the changes are a response to climbing health-care costs, not the Affordable Care Act per se, though even this is an indictment: The bill that the company claimed would help isn’t helping. But Wal-Mart’s errant political judgment is less important than what its crash benefits diet says about the future of employer-sponsored insurance.

Under the company’s new policy, new workers who put in fewer than 24 hours a week on average won’t qualify for any Wal-Mart health plan, while those under 33 hours won’t be able to add a spouse. Other premiums and deductibles will jump in 2012, some by as much as 40%.

While the company won’t disclose how many of its 1.4 million employees it does cover, Wal-Mart is unusual in that it belongs to the 42% of large businesses that offer coverage to part-time workers, according to a 2011 Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

That and other concessions were part of Wal-Mart’s mid-2000s campaign to placate its liberal critics, a bid that reached its apotheosis in its embrace of ObamaCare. Mr. Duke’s 2009 endorsement was co-signed by Andy Stern of the Service Employees International Union and John Podesta of the Center for American Progress, the Obama Administration’s outside political-policy shop. Expect these political friends with benefits to turn on Wal-Mart now as it is forced into more such triage to manage its health costs, like the rest of the business world.

The larger danger is what happens when the new law’s subsidized insurance exchanges become operational in 2014 and scramble the labor market. The Obama plan exposes businesses to “pay or play” penalties that are supposed to keep the employer market from unraveling and that Wal-Mart supported in part to shackle its smaller competitors. But once the regulations are finalized, many businesses may look rationally at the new incentives and conclude that shedding their health costs and paying the penalties is cheaper than the status quo.

This will be especially true in industries with large numbers of low-wage, low-skill workers—like hotels, restaurants and, yes, retail …

… It’s hard to miss the irony in the Obama health-care revolution eating its own children, but other business leaders looking on agog at the brave new insurance world that Wal-Mart helped to create probably have another word for it.

Another common employer response will be to avoid the penalties entirely by ensuring that part-time workers are limited to fewer hours than ObamaCare’s threshold coverage level, which appears to be 25 hours per week. James Sherk at Heritage (“Obamacare Will Price Less Skilled Workers Out of Full-Time Jobs”) predicts that many employers will look at the cost structure imposed on them by having full-time lower-wage workers and conclude that they can’t afford to have very many, if any, full-time low-wage workers. Wal-Mart will almost certainly be among those who will figure this out — scratch that, they’ve probably already figured it out.

Such workers are going to have to get two part-time jobs to earn the equivalent of a full-time paycheck — if they even can do so in this flat economy — and still won’t have employer-sponsored healthcare coverage (nor will they earn overtime for working more than 40 hours, which they would if they worked at one place).

So-called “friends” of the low-skilled workers like the Obama administration, Wal-Mart, and organized labor are causing them far more harm than the eeeeeevil 1% (whom Obama hypocritically accesses as a campaign-finance ATM) against whom the “occupy” movement is currently demonstrating.

Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (102611)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:00 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder will follow later. Other topics are also fair game.


NewsBusters — “Jewish Leaders Join (Media Research Center’s Brent) Bozell’s Demand for Network Coverage of Anti-Semitism at ‘Occupy Wall Street’”

Chronicle of Higher Education (HT Instapundit) — “Rise in Sticker Price at Public Colleges Outpaces That at Private Colleges for 5th Year in a Row”

Joel B. Pollak at BigGovernment“Barack Obama Led #OccupyChicago – Circa 1988″

Kyle-Anne Shiver at PJ Media“Why Herman Cain Electrifies the Grassroots: Five Voters Speak Out”

Erick Ericksen at RedState on WaPo blogger Jennifer Rubin — “Not only is she not a conservative, she’s shilling for one candidate while being paid by the Washington Post.” Unsurprisingly, the candidate is Mitt Romney. More: “On Tuesday alone, Rubin wrote eight attacks on Rick Perry alone in a column styled as ‘commentary from a conservative perspective.’”

John Stossel at Townhall“School Competition Rescues Kids”

Walter E. Williams — “The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are demanding ‘people before profits’ — as if profit motivation were the source of mankind’s troubles — when it’s often the absence of profit motivation that’s the true villain.”

Political Calculations (at Townhall; more complete post at his own place) — “The Real Story Behind ‘Rising’ U.S. Income Inequality.” The “real story is that income inequality has barely risen in the 16 years addressed.

CBS/NYT Poll: Cain 25, Romney 21, Gingrich 10, Paul 8, Perry 6, which moves Cain’s Real Clear Politics poll-roundup advantage to a single point. But again, as is all too frequently the case, the poll uses a muddled preference question: “Which one of these candidates would you like to see the Republican Party nominate for President in 2012 - Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, RonPaul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, or would you like to see someone else nominated?”

NewsBusters“OWS Supporter Michael Moore Lies on National Television About His Wealth: No I’m Not Worth Millions.” Yes he is.

Positivity: Dutch sister’s online vocation efforts bearing fruit

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Rome:

Oct 21, 2011 / 06:13 am

Sister Elvira Maria de Witt, DCJ, is an opera singer turned nun who has found a new way to win vocations to the religious life—by going online.

“The Netherlands had a lot of missionaries. I didn’t come into this congregation, give up my whole career as a singer – and I was really good – to let it die. Come on Jesus!” the feisty, young Dutch religious sister told CNA while visiting Rome.

“But I asked myself, where should I find new people?”

So, after considering going to bars and soccer games to find young people but concluding “I don’t think I can go there,” she came up with her bold broadband plan.

From a slow start in 2001, she now receives up to 300 e-mails a week, and they are mostly from the young.

“Some questions about the faith or that they don’t feel well or are depressed,” she explained. Others are from girls who are pregnant and have nowhere else to turn for advice. Still more are young people wanting to know about the Catholic faith and religious life – most of whom are not Catholic themselves.

“There are questions about how to pray better or how to pray the Rosary or questions like how do I go to confession? What should I say and where can I find somebody?”

Sister Elvira is the novice mistress at the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus convent in the southern Dutch city of Maastricht. She believes that her online presence – now extended to Facebook and a blog – is giving answers that are not readily available elsewhere in her country.

Local Media Fail: Judge in ‘Sore Loser’ Driehaus-Susan Anthony Case Has Unreported Conflict of Interest

On Saturday, Barbara Hollingsworth at the Washington Examiner (HT Peter Roff at US News) reported on the latest development in lawsuit filed by former congressman Steve “Sore Loser” Driehaus against Susan B. Anthony’s List (SBA).

Democrat Driehaus, who served one term in Congress before losing to Republican Steve Chabot, is suing SBA under a Ohio’s False Statement Law for “loss of livelihood.” Seriously. Driehaus says that his vote for ObamaCare, which has no prolife protections hard-wired into the law, was not a betrayal of his prolife beliefs. SBA says it was a betrayal, and is correct. Driehaus’s excuse was that President Obama wrote up an Executive Order with supposed prolife protections, which of course can be revoked at any whimsical presidential moment — like, say, January 21, 2013 if he’s reelected (or January 19, 2013 if he’s not).