March 27, 2014

They Don’t Care: 50 States of Obamacare Victims

This post builds on Geoffrey Dickens’ post late this morning (“American Horror Story: Tales of ObamaCare Victims Untold by the Big Three Networks”) about the virtual lack of any kind of coverage of the real people affected by Obamacare.

Perhaps some readers believe that little coverage is occurring because there are few if any local situations worthy enough to rise to the level of national coverage. There are two responses to that. The first is that the national outlets must not be looking for them, because they are out there, and they could find them if they wanted to (the British press often does a better job covering Obamacare than stateside outlets). The second is that local TV broadcasts have carried plenty of Obamacare-related horror stories. While some of the situations cited in the video from the Washington Free Beacon following the jump (50 States of Obamacare Victims) are of politicians delivering speeches, all of the rest of 50 clips cite real people or groups of people with real problems caused by Obamacare:

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Bill Whittle Updates ‘A Modest Proposal’

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:00 pm

Devastating, and directed where it deserves to be:

The modern conceit of the left is that we are so much more tolerant and civilized now.

Horse manure.

Drudge ‘Liberty Tax’ Update: A CPA Firm Employee Weighs In

One of the odd things about the weekend pot-stirring by Matt Drudge over his stated inclusion of one-quarter of his estimated 2014 “Obamacare penalty” tax for not carrying health insurance coverage this year — calling it a “liberty tax” — is that few if any of those who criticized him seem to have bothered to consult with a tax practitioner for an expert take on the matter before what we now know were serious misfires. Either that, or they did, decided that they didn’t like the answers, and crawled back into their holes. That list includes Jesse Lee, the White House’s Director of Progressive Media and Online Response (yes, that’s a real position), who didn’t even understand that Drudge is paying this year’s taxes this year, not last year’s taxes.

Thus, I thought it would be useful to publish a note I received this morning from someone who works at a CPA firm in the Midwest who had a chance to read my NewsBusters post on Tuesday and two earlier technical posts (here and here) at my home blog (bolds are mine):

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4Q14 Gross Domestic Product, Third Estimate (032714): An Annualized 2.6%

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:58 am

Predictions:

Here are the six main elements of GDP as reported in January and February (will fill in with today’s numbers once released):
- Personal consumption expenditures: +2.26, +1.73
- Gross Private Investment (sans inventories): +0.14, +0.58
- Inventories: +0.42, +0.14
- Exports: +1.48, +1.22
- Imports: -0.15, -0.24
- Government: -0.93, -1.05
- Total: +3.22, +2.38

I don’t know where the forecasters expect the pickups to be. I wouldn’t be surprised if consumption ticks down a bit (see: Obamacare Christmas). Private investment could go up, given the upward revision to new home sales. We may also find that the government’s so-called fiscal drag hasn’t had as much impact.

The report will be here at 8:30 a.m.

HERE IT IS (permanent link):

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 (that is, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter), according to the “third” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 4.1 percent.

The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the “second” estimate issued last month. In the second estimate, the increase in real GDP was 2.4 percent. With this third estimate for the fourth quarter, the general picture of economic growth remains largely the same; personal consumption expenditures (PCE) was larger than previously estimated, while private investment in inventories and in intellectual property products were smaller than previously estimated (see “Revisions” on page 3).

The increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from
PCE, exports, and nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by negative contributions from
federal government spending and residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the
calculation of GDP, increased.

The deceleration in real GDP growth in the fourth quarter reflected a downturn in private inventory investment, a larger decrease in federal government spending, a downturn in residential fixed investment, and a deceleration in state and local government spending that were partly offset by accelerations in PCE and in exports, a deceleration in imports, and an acceleration in nonresidential fixed investment.

Okay, it was close to predictions. Now let’s look at the elements (today’s release in bold):

  • Personal consumption expenditures: +2.26, +1.73, +2.22
    — Goods: +1.12, +0.72, +0.66
    — Services: +1.14, +1.00, +1.57
  • Gross Private Investment (sans inventories): +0.14, +0.58, +0.43
  • Inventories: +0.42, +0.14, -0.02
  • Exports: +1.48, +1.22, +1.23
  • Imports: -0.15, -0.24, -0.24
  • Government: -0.93, -1.05, -0.99 (-0.70 in national defense)
  • Total: +3.22, +2.38, +2.63

So if it weren’t for a big 0.57-point rise in consumption of services in the final revision (major component: Health care, +0.42), today’s revision would gone a few tenths of a point in the other direction.

Health care spending’s fourth-quarter contribution to GDP of 0.62 points is the largest in at least four years. The guess here is that during the fourth quarter a lot of people who figured out they had lost coverage under old individual plans might have rushed to get and pay for medical visits and procedures which were largely covered under their old plans but which won’t be under the new high-deductible Obamacare plans — AND to pay final visits to doctors and providers they either knew or thought they couldn’t keep after Jan. 1.

Initial Unemployment Claims (032714): 311K SA; NSA Claims Down 13% From Same Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:05 am

Note: I’ll address today’s initial claims release after my initial review of today’s fourth quarter GDP number.

_________________________________

Predictions:

Seasonal Adjustment Factors:

  • Week ended March 22, 2014 — 87.8
  • Week ended March 23, 2013 — 88.5

Raw Claims:

  • Week ended March 15, 2014 (revised) — 285,970, which has moved last week’s seasonally adjusted figure to 321,000.
  • Week ended March 23, 2013 — 315,620

For today’s prediction of 323K to come true, raw claims will need to be 284K or lower (284K divided by .878 is 323K, rounded). Seems like that’s about where they will come in, but we’ll see here at 8:30.

HERE IT IS (permanent link):

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending March 22, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 311,000, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 321,000. The 4-week moving average was 317,750, a decrease of 9,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 327,250.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 273,411 in the week ending March 22, a decrease of 12,559 from the previous week. There were 315,620 initial claims in the comparable week in 2013.

That’s a strong performance.

I suppose a naysaying argument might be that employers are hanging on to even their marginal people because the potential replacement pool of those who are still looking for work consists largely of the long-term unemployed who are significant hiring risks. I’ll hold back on using that as an explanation for now.

Desperate Times, Desperate Dems

Their usual recourses.

___________________________

This column went up at PJ Media Monday evening and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Tuesday morning.

___________________________

Most political pundits believe that the November 2014 elections spell serious trouble for Democrats. Not so fast.

Despite their blustering for the benefit of their friends in the apparatchik press, the party appears to have conceded that it can’t regain a majority in the House of Representatives.

One might therefore think that Republicans have a chance of greatly expanding their current 33-seat House advantage. That doesn’t seem likely.

It’s difficult to overestimate how much harm supposedly helpful GOP gerrymandering in certain red states has done in the current situation. For example, in Ohio, the state’s GOP-dominated apportionment board “cleverly” carved out four heavy-majority Democrat districts for elections beginning in 2012. That year, the Democrats who even had opposition achieved victory margins averaging 46 percent. The fourth ran unopposed. The odds that a real or concocted scandal or controversy might cause an incumbent Buckeye State Republican to lose to a Democrat are far greater than the likelihood that a wave election could unseat an incumbent Democrat.

Perhaps opportunities exist in aggressively gerrymandered blue states. California, Illinois, and New York would seem to candidates to yield pickups in certain marginally Democratic districts. However, the challenges are formidable. Most obviously, there are the powers and advantages of incumbency. Additionally, local journalists appear on the whole to have become every bit as hostile to anyone who demonstrates a whiff of conservatism and its values as the establishment press in DC. A GOP establishment which either hasn’t figured out how to or doesn’t have the courage to consistently go over the media’s heads doesn’t help. Speaker John Boehner, himself an obstacle to conducting ideology-based House elections, would probably be (but shouldn’t be) thrilled with a net pickup of 15 seats, which would still leave the GOP miles away from a 290-seat veto-proof majority.

Washington’s Democratic campaign generals are likely to divert campaign resources towards defending their current 55-45 Senate caucus majority.

Of the 36 Senate seats up for grabs, including three special elections for unexpired terms, Democrats currently hold 21. All 15 GOP-held seats are currently consensus polling as holds. The same polls, all of which tend to oversample Democrats, especially in non-presidential elections, identify eight currently Democrat-held seats as clearly vulnerable, and only six as supposedly safe.

To achieve an old-fashioned filibuster-proof majority of 60 which reflects how the Senate was run until Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid changed the rules last year, Republicans would have to win all 15 non-safe Democrat-held Senate seats while losing none of their own. A miraculous run of the entire table would still leave them one vote shy of a 67-seat veto-proof majority.

President Barack Obama, whose performance is for all practical purposes the one and only reason for the vulnerability of the senators on his team, is already whining that off-year elections aren’t “representative cross-section of America.” No, they’re a better representation of the will of informed people who care about the future direction of the country, and in this case the continued existence of its Constitution-based government.

What will Democrats do about it? They’ll aggressively employ their three primary smears to increase turnout among those who consider it a virtual crime to vote for the other candidate. Those smears are their three R’s: religion, race, and the rich. They have worked well enough in the past to prevent critical, lasting damage. They will again if not effectively countered.

They will trot the oft-cited “war on women” charge against any GOP candidate with any kind of personal or legislative record indicating adherence to Christian values. The left and the press both fervently believe that anyone with such a record is “anti-woman.” They have been all too successful in convincing their base that anyone who believes that a baby in the womb has a right to live as an extremist, even though a recent CNN poll showed that 58 percent of Americans oppose abortion in most or all cases. Sadly, the “war on women” appeal seems to have a near hypnotic effect on many single women under 35.

Republican candidates need to visibly turn this argument around to what will get the vast non-hypnotized majority of women to the polls. Now that they’ve seen a bit of how it works, women’s opposition to Obamacare has skyrocketed. Each and every Democrat who has ever supported Obama, regardless of their current distancing attempts, owns his failing scheme. Beyond that, the six-year Pelosi-Obama-Reid economy has done greater harm to women than to men.  It also wouldn’t hurt to point out that the White House itself is a pack of hypocrites on “equal pay.”

Of the three smears, “racism” is the most tired, but still potentially effective. Just ask Paul Ryan. Even making valid observations about the tragedy of inner-city crime, failed urban public schools, and broken families exposes you to being called a racist. Heaven help you if you propose coherent, workable solutions like charter schools and education vouchers.

The best riposte to the racism charge is also economic. The GOP needs to hammer home the fact that in the four decades until Obamanomics came along, black household income had been catching up with the national average — not satisfactorily, to be sure, but at least moving in the right direction. All of those gains have disappeared, and brutally, while Barack Obama has occupied the Oval Office. It’s also a near certainty that Obamacare will disproportionately harm blacks’ and Hispanics’ jobs prospects by adding huge amounts to the cost of taking on relatively low-skilled employees. If you doubt me, ask casino workers in Vegas.

When all else fails, Democrats will try to tie their opponents to the rich, the 1 percent, and, in Alinksyite fashion, to the evil omnipotent, intimidating Koch brothers. Please. The Koch campaign apparatus ranked 77th overall among political donors in the 2012 election cycle, well behind over a dozen unions and scores of leftist outfits and corporations.

So obsessed is the left that it even trotted out its Koch critique in the recent Florida-13 special congressional election won by a Republican in an upset. There’s only one problem: The Koch brothers spent no money there.

Whether or not the Koch brothers or their affiliated groups give them money, after what will be six years of statist failure, Republican candidates should make no apologies for free-market principles — and they should commit to repealing the statists’ worst disaster to date: Obamacare.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (032714)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:06 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: Lieutenant continues legacy started by great uncle, Medal of Honor recipient

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

From US Air Force News (HT Bill Sloat):

Published March 25, 2014

Facing a wave of enemy Communist forces, and knowing that staying behind would likely lead to his capture, Army Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun disregarded the evacuation order and willingly risked his life to tend to the wounded.

Kapaun, according to numerous battlefield accounts from the Korean War, convinced a wounded Chinese officer to order a cease-fire, saving his men from certain death.

He and wounded members of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment were taken captive and led on a death march to a Prisoner of War camp. Those who were too badly wounded to march were immediately executed.

When he saw an enemy soldier preparing to execute Army Sergeant 1st Class Herbert Miller, Kapaun pushed the soldier aside, saved Miller’s life and helped carry him the rest of the way. During his six months as a POW, Kapaun routinely risked his life to sneak food and hot water to his fellow POWs, and continued to serve the men he considered his flock.

Ignoring hunger and his own comfort, Kapaun willingly gave his rations and extra clothing to other Soldiers, and provided continuous spiritual care and guidance, even when threatened by his captors.

Kapaun died in captivity after contracting numerous debilitating illnesses.

On April 11, 2013, Air Force 1st Lt. Kristina Roberts, an Air National Guard air weapons officer who deployed to the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron, attended the White House ceremony where Kapaun, her great uncle, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Her grandfather told numerous stories when she was growing up, and the family attended annual events honoring Kapaun in his hometown of Pilsen, Kan.

“There hasn’t been a day that I have not thought of my great uncle, especially when I was going through all my military training,” Roberts said, who is deployed from the 134th Air Control Squadron in Wichita, Kan.

According to Roberts, the men who Kapaun cared for during their imprisonment worked for decades to get recognition for him. …

… Kapaun, who volunteered for the Korean War after serving as a chaplain during World War II, is now being considered for sainthood by the Vatican.

Go here for the full story.

LA Times Political Editor Worries That Democrats in Handcuffs ‘Point to Image Problems’

Pass the smelling salts. Wednesday afternoon Pacific Time (early evening Eastern Time), someone at the Los Angeles Times actually noticed something quite a bit less than perfect about the Democratic Party and its politicians.

Okay, it’s an analysis piece at the Politics Now blog by Political Editor Cathleen Decker. But most LA Times “analyses” are insufferably far to the left and consist of some combination of blatant falsehoods, mean-spirited attacks on Republicans and conservatives, bowing down to the pseudo-science of climate change, and effusive praise of Democrats even as they fail. Thus, Decker’s piece sticks out like a red-clad University of Louisville fan sitting in the deep-blue University of Kentucky cheering section. Excerpts follow:

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AP’s Alonso-Zaldivar Claims Millions ‘Could’ Get Extra Sign-up Time. COULD?

Tuesday evening, in covering a White House announcement, the Washington Post reported (“Obama administration will allow more time to enroll in health care on federal marketplace”) that “all consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, but who do not finish by Monday, will have until about mid-April to ask for an extension.” The operative word is “will”

Given that well-known news, I had to check the time stamp on Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar’s report Wednesday afternoon at the Associated Press. Yep, it really says March 26 at 5:21 p.m., roughly 20 hours after the White House’s announcement. So why is his story’s headline “Millions could get extra time for health sign-ups”? And why is his first sentence “Millions of Americans could get extra time to enroll for taxpayer-subsidized coverage this year under President Barack Obama’s health care law”? The extension is an announced deal, good buddy, and million of people are affected. More follows the jump:
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