January 30, 2015

Positivity: Assisted living centers defeat HHS mandate in court

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:53 pm

From Denver:

Jan 29, 2015 / 04:56 pm

A federal court has permanently barred the Obama administration from enforcing the federal contraception mandate against the group of Evangelical-owned senior citizen and assisted living centers.

“All Americans should oppose unjust laws that allow the government to force people to surrender their constitutionally protected freedom to live and work according to their deepest beliefs,” Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Michael J. Norton said Jan. 27.

Norton’s legal group filed the challenge to the federal rule on behalf of Stephen W. Brisco, who owns several Colorado companies that operate senior citizen residences, assisted living centers, and skilled nursing facilities and related businesses that mange them.

Brisco, an Evangelical Christian, objected to federal mandates that he provide employees with insurance coverage for contraceptive drugs that can cause abortions.

Refusal to provide the coverage would have resulted in heavy fines.

Norton said that Americans have a “clearly protected right” to be “free from this type of government coercion at home, in their family businesses, and in non-profit endeavors that benefit everyone.”

On Jan. 27 a U.S. District Court for Colorado issued a permanent injunction against the federal government from enforcing the mandate. It cited the Supreme Court’s June 2014 ruling that the mandate’s application to closely-held private companies like Hobby Lobby violated the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Supreme Court had said the government had not shown that the mandate was the least restrictive means of achieving its goal of providing free contraceptives to employees.

The Obama administration announced the controversial mandate in 2012. It requires employers to cover sterilization, contraception and some drugs that can cause abortions. Its narrow exemption for those with religious and moral objections to the coverage drew much criticism and prompted many legal challenges.

Norton said the Obama administration should give up what he described as “its blind and indefensible efforts to punish people of faith.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

AP Double Standard: Atlanta Chief’s Firing Over Religious Views Is National News, But His EEOC Challenge Isn’t

Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who alleges he was fired from his position solely because of his Christian beliefs, has filed a religious discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

That’s not news at the Associated Press’s national site, and it appears that the AP has not even carried a local story about Cochran’s EEOC complaint — omissions that reeks of a double standard.

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For Once, AP Skeptical of Dems’ Over-the-Top Claims About the Economy

Even Charles Babington at the Associated Press, for once not the completely beholden Administration’s Press, seemed to be having a hard time buying what Democrats at a meeting in Philadelphia were selling. Unfortunately, he decided to let Joe Biden’s direct contradiction of his party’s congressional delegation’s sunnyside-up stance on the economy go unreported.

In a video carried at the Weekly Standard, Biden said, “To state the obvious, the past six years have been really, really hard for this country, And they’ve been really tough for our party. Just ask [former DCCC chair] Steve [Israel]. They’ve been really tough for our party. And together we made some really, really tough decisions — decisions that weren’t at all popular, hard to explain.” Despite how “really, really hard” it has all been, the party is attempting an “in your face” at those who want to claim that it has been that way because of the Obama administration’s economic policies. Excerpts from Babington’s AP report follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

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4Q14 GDP: An Annualized 2.6%, Badly Trailing Expectations of 3.0% to 3.6%

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:15 am

Predictions for GDP growth during the fourth quarter are running from the New York Posts’s John Crudele’s annualized 3.2 percent to 3.6 percent at Seeking Alpha.

Recent data would make you think that today’s figure might trail the range just noted, but the past two quarters’ GDP figures averaging 4.8 annualized growth seem disconnected from the underlying reality, making predictions at this point a crapshoot.

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

8:25 a.m.: Well, well … Bloomberg is carrying a 3 percent prediction. Business Insider also has the 3 percent prediction, which will, per them, be driven by an annualized 4 percent increase in consumption.

HERE IT IS (permanent full text link): Bloomberg’s late writedown to 3 percent turns out to have been a harbinger of a poorer result, and I guess the meme be that federal government “austerity” ruined everything —

Real gross domestic product — the value of the production of goods and services in the United States, adjusted for price changes — increased at an annual rate of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 5.0 percent.

The increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), private inventory investment, exports, nonresidential fixed investment, state and local government spending, and residential fixed investment that were partly offset by a negative contribution from federal government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The deceleration in real GDP growth in the fourth quarter primarily reflected an upturn in imports, a downturn in federal government spending, and decelerations in nonresidential fixed investment and in exports that were partly offset by an upturn in private inventory investment and an acceleration in PCE.

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, decreased 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter, in contrast to an increase of 1.4 percent in the third. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for gross domestic purchases increased 0.7 percent, compared with an increase of 1.6 percent.

Excuse me, but that 0.3% deflator is more than a little hard to take.

Here’s how the 3Q14 and 4Q14 components compare:

3Qand4Q14GDPcomponents013015

Once again, noninventory investment is virtually flat.

Once again, health care spending, which in my opinion is adding no standard of living value (see the end of this PJ Media column I wrote earlier this month), was a disproportionate contributor. (An additional health care-related contribution might explain why the “financial services and insurance” component, not listed above, contributed 0.32 points).

Absent an inventory buildup, which I believe represents manufacturers and retailers building up stocks beyond their anticipated need, GDP grew by an annualized 1.8 percent.

I feel the consumption number is going to come down a bit in future revisions, but that other component increases will probably offset that.

We’ll see in future months, but today’s report was not good at all.

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (013015)

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

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.