October 27, 2013

Chris Wallace and Brit Hume Skewer Juan Williams As He Defends Millions of Obamacare-Cancelled Individual Health Plans

On Tuesday’s Fox News Special report, contributor Juan Williams lamely tried to excuse away the mind-boggling incompetence of the HealthCare.gov rollout by claiming that “massive opposition (to Obamacare) from the Republicans” caused fearful system architects to “roll it out and see how it works for now.”

Juan’s haughty huffiness was so absurd that the Fox News panel was caught slack-jawed and barely challenged him. That’s not what happened Sunday morning on Chris Wallace’s Fox News Sunday broadcast when Williams tried to claim that millions of people losing their individual health care coverage are going to be better off with Obamacare policies (video and transscript follow the jump; bolds are mine; HT to Mediaite via Twitchy):

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Federal Solar Auction Gets No Bidders; AP (Just a Local Story) and Politico (Deceptive Headline) React Predictably

Green energy is supposedly the future. Why, solar energy will break out and become a major energy source any year now, or any decade now. Or maybe never. It has been the subject of national attention ever since President Obama made it a cornerstone of his 2008 presidential campaign. Of course, what Obama claims is in energy policy has worked out to be more a of a growth-constraining, government money-wasting endeavor than anything else.

The Denver Post carried the original story on Thursday of how the federal government’s first attempt at a solar auction went. The headline was accurate: “1st auction of solar rights on public lands in Colorado draws no bids.” That’s right. Zero. Post reporter Mark Jaffe’s first sentence was charitable but acceptable: “The plan to auction rights to federal land across the West for solar-power plants got off to a rocky start Thursday when no bidders showed up for the first auction in Colorado.” Too bad that two establishment press outlets which were in a position to communicate this news to the nation failed to adequately do so.

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HealthCare.gov’s Mounting Costs, Part 2: Don’t Forget HHS’s Internal Costs

The left has been ridiculing supposedly wildly overstated estimates of the costs of building the calamitous HealthCare.gov website, the fact is that the costs involved are certainly far higher than the figures most commonly cited: “over 500 million” at Digital Trends, “over $400 million” at the New York Times. The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler is claiming that it’s really only $170 milion to $300 million.

In Part 1 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that Bloomberg Government’s Peter Gosselin estimated that costs incurred and costs committed to outside firms alone are already north of $1 billion. Now let’s look at how much additional taxpayer money the Department of Health and Human Services may have spent on the Obamacare exchange rollout.

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HealthCare.gov’s Mounting Costs, Part 1: Press Ignoring Former Admin Member’s ID of $1 Billion-Plus in Contracts

The left has been ridiculing supposedly wildly overstated estimates of the costs of building the calamitous HealthCare.gov website.

Based on a look at one contractor, CGI, which he must have assumed was the general contractor (i.e., the lead entity through which amounts paid to subcontracting firms would be funneled), Andrew Couts at Digital Trends originally estimated a total cost of $634 million. Couts later backed it down to “over $500 million” after identifying non-Affordable Care Act-related work with which CGI was associated. The New York Times has until recently been working with a figure of “over $400 million.” All figures just noted are almost certainly miles too low, for two reasons.

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‘Saturday Night Live’ Mocks Sebelius, HealthCare.gov

Filed under: Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:51 pm

No commentary needed (a commercial comes first; HT PJ Tatler; Warning: R-Rated content):

AP Predictably Gives Weak Sept. Durable Goods Report a Positive Headline and First-Paragraph Shutdown Blame

At the Associated Press Friday morning, economics writer Christopher Rugaber’s story had a predictably sunny and incomplete headline (“LONG-LASTING US FACTORY GOODS ORDERS RISE 3.7 PCT.”) followed by an opening paragraph which told readers that “orders for most other goods fell” and which speculated without basis that the substantively bad news was “a possible sign of concern about the partial government shutdown that began Oct. 1.”

That’s a great reporting strategy if your goal is to keep busy news consumers inadequately informed. Those who only read the headline will believe that this economic element was unequivocally positive. Those who only get through the first paragraph will see the bad news and blame congressional Republicans, on whom the establishment media has successfully pinned the blame for the 17 percent shutdown — even though it objectively doesn’t belong there. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):

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Now We See How Weak the Pre-Shutdown Economy Was

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:01 am

And it’s getting weaker.

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This column went up at PJ Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Friday.

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The September employment report released on Tuesday was bad enough to make one wonder if the Obama administration knew what was in it on September 30, when the 17 percent government shutdown began, and decided to hold it.

The report’s original release date, based on the results of data gathered during the payroll week containing the 12th of the month was supposed to be just two days later. It is thus reasonable to believe that the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics already knew what the key numbers were and was only adding finishing touches.

We’ll never know whether Team Obama would have told BLS to release the report if the topline jobs added number had been a good one, because it wasn’t.

September’s report shows that the economy was already slowing down considerably before the partial shutdown commenced. Employers added only 148,000 jobs in September, down from 193,000 in August. The BLS’s Household Survey showed only 133,000 jobs added. Sure, the unemployment rate dropped to a seasonally adjusted 7.2 percent, but that’s only because a paltry 73,000 adults joined the workforce following a decline of over 300,000 in August.

September’s private-sector job growth was only 126,000, down from 161,000 in August. During the third quarter, monthly private job growth averaged only 129,000, down substantially from averages of 190,000 in the second quarter and 212,000 in the first.

The painful trends we’ve been seeing for months on end in the Obama-Bernanke multi-year Keynesian calamity continued in September. Both the workforce participation rate, at 63.2 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 58.6 percent, remain at multi-decade lows.

Temporary help services added another 20,200 jobs on top of an upwardly revised 21,200 in August. Since January 2009, the month Barack Obama took office, the economy has added 2.659 million seasonally adjusted jobs. 785,000, or 30 percent of them, have gone to temps, a segment comprising barely two percent of the workforce.

So desperate was the press to find something positive to say about Tuesday’s report that they tried to claim that changes in full-time and part-time employment during the month “prove” that Obamacare, particularly its 30 hours per week definition of a full-time employee requiring coverage in employers’ existing healthcare plans, isn’t causing a permanent shift in the balance between the two.

Once again, their failure to look at the actual numbers before seasonal adjustment has led them astray:

FTandPTemp2Sept2008to2013

Over at the website of what’s left of Time Magazine, Kate Pickert argued that September’s results don’t “support (the) claim that the Affordable Care Act will decrease full-time employment.” But as seen above, actual full-time employment decreased by a slightly larger number (560,000) than it did in September 2012 (536,000). Meanwhile, actual part-time employment increased by 702,000. That’s an historically low number, but it’s still a substantial one-month increase. Sure, the seasonal adjustment calculations, because they consider the past five years of data, produced a large increase and decrease, respectively, in full-time and part-time employment. But the idea that a month where a half-million full-time jobs were lost proves anything positive is laughable.

There’s a far more important overall point. In real terms, the economy, assuming annualized growth of about 1.5 percent in this year’s third quarter, is a bit less than 5 percent larger than it was in the fourth quarter of 2007, its previous peak. Yet full-time employment is still short of its seasonally adjusted November 2007 peak by 4.1 percent, or just under 5 million jobs. Meanwhile, part-time employment is up by over 2.65 million, or 10.7 percent, during that same period. That kind of fundamental shift has not occurred in any other recovery since World War II. There have certainly been other factors at work hindering overall job growth such as over-regulation and the war on coal and fossil fuel-based energy; but there’s no reason to believe that they would cause employers to make conscious moves towards more part-time employment. The one thing which has been hanging over this recovery which has caused employers to change their full-time/part-time mindset is the one thing which employers during other post-war recoveries didn’t have to face: Obamacare.

Obama’s and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s 16 days of partial shutdown bullying only make it more likely that further slowing has subsequently occurred and will continue. Obamacare certainly won’t help, especially as more and more upper middle-income earners not covered by employer plans figure out — assuming they ever get into HealthCare.gov — that the only way short of divorce to keep healthcare costs from bankrupting them under Obamacare will be to work less.

The White House has already acknowledged that “More recent indicators suggest the labor market worsened in the month of October.” It will of course play pin-the-blame on Republicans for all of this, even though it’s Reid’s Senate and Obama himself who consciously chose not to deal with bills passed by the House which would have kept the government running, and even though Obama owns the HealthCare.gov disaster.

They can whine all they want about John Boehner’s alleged obstruction and point all day and all night at cooked polls which supposedly say Republicans and especially tea party conservatives are to blame, but the continued economic malaise, like the HealthCare.gov debacle, is completely and objectively on them.

Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (102713)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow. Other topics are also fair game.

Positivity: Yale pro-life conference encourages engagement with culture

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From New Haven, Connecticut:

Oct 26, 2013 / 05:02 pm

At Yale’s first annual pro-life conference, advocates emphasized moving beyond current pro-life efforts to more directly address the issues and understandings of persons who dot see the dignity of all human life.

“Abortion might be the most boring moral issue we grapple with today,” said Michael Hannon, managing editor of The Thomistic Institute in New York City, a panelist at the Oct. 18 conference.

“That doesn’t mean it’s unimportant, and that certainly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it, but I do think it’s incredibly uninteresting, and I think it’s incredibly uninteresting because it’s incredibly obvious.”

Hannon spoke at an Oct. 18 panel called “Beyond the Pro-Life Pep Rally: Where we Go From Here?” alongside Tristyn Bloom and David Nolan, both junior fellows at First Things, and Nora Calhoun, a registered nurse and doula.

The conference, called “Vita et Veritas,” or “Life and Truth,” was held at Yale’s St. Thomas More chapel and Catholic campus chaplaincy, and was sponsored by Choose Life at Yale, or CLAY. Co-sponsoring the conference were the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Students for Life of America, Christian Union, and Life Matters Journal.

Hannon explained that in general, pro-life conferences “do a great good for us.” He warned, however, against a “pep rally” mentality among pro-lifers, and against a focus on abortion as a complicated moral question because, in reality, “abortion is the most black-and-white- issue there is.”

He said that he doesn’t see “how we can turn a blind eye” to a parent killing an unborn child, when there is a proper understanding of the reality of life more broadly.

The more interesting question, Hannon continued, is not whether or not the unborn are persons, or if abortion is moral, but “why does everyone not agree” on the meaning and value of life, and “what do we do about it?” …

Go here for the rest of the story.