December 21, 2017

Bitter AP Reporter Claims Tax Bill Betray’s ‘GOP’s Tea Party Promises’

In a Wednesday “analysis” piece anticipating the tax bill’s passage, Andrew Taylor at the Associated Press, apparently bitter at the impending outcome, framed that successful effort as a betrayal of the “GOP’s tea party promises.” Apparently, the AP reporter has forgotten what the T-E-A in “tea party” stands for.

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Wow: Orrin Hatch Effusively Praises Trump After Tax Bill Signed

Filed under: Economy,Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:32 pm

In early October, Steve Bannon said he would find a candidate to defeat Orrin Hatch if Hatch chose to run for reelection:

The man who ran President Donald Trump’s election campaign now says he wants to take on Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.

Steve Bannon, former White House Chief Strategist is now using his influence to go after incumbent Republican Senators, and he thinks he has momentum.

Bannon successfully backed newly elected Alabama Senator Roy Moore, a religious conservative who defeated establishment favorite Luther Strange.

That didn’t work out so well.

Some people thought Hatch appeared to be on the verge of announcing his retirement earlier this year. Even a week ago, the buzz was that the Utah GOP is encouraging Mitt Romney to run for Hatch’s seat if he retires. (It’s an Associated Press report, so we have to assume that some of it is driven by wishful thinking.)

Now Hatch appears to be close to deciding to run again:

Just when Orrin Hatch thought he was out, Donald Trump pulled him back in.

After months of quietly laying the groundwork for his own retirement, the 83-year-old Utah senator has signaled to Republican allies in recent weeks that he’s having second thoughts about leaving office when his term ends next year. Interviews with 10 people familiar with the situation—some of whom requested anonymity to speak candidly—suggest that President Trump’s efforts to convince Hatch to seek reelection have influenced the senator’s thinking.

Personally, I’m not a fan of someone who is 84 running for reelection to serve until until he is 90. But the people of Utah will decide that.

What may be tipping the balance is that Hatch is a huge fan of Donald Trump, and may want to be in Washington for that reason alone.

Anyone who doubts that this is likely the case should change their minds once they see Hatch’s jaw-dropping speech at the Republicans’ tax bill passage celebration:

Transcript:

ORRIN HATCH: Mr. President, I have to say that you’re living up to everything I thought you would. You’re one heck of a leader, and we’re all benefiting from it.

This bill could not have passed without you. It couldn’t have passed without the Alaskan delegation. It couldn’t have passed without the leadership in the House, the Senate, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell, and the other leaders as well.

All I can say is is that we are making headway. This is just the beginning. When you stop and think about it, this president hasn’t even been in office for a year. And look at all the things he’s been able to get done, by sheer will in many ways. And I just hope that we all get behind him every way we can, and we’ll get this country turned around ways that will benefit the whole world, but above all benefit our people, and bring us all to a realization of how really great America really is, and how the rest of the world depends on us.

I love this country. I came from very humble roots. And I have to say that this is one of the great privileges of my life to stand here on the White House lawn with the President of the United States who I love and appreciate so much and with these wonderful colleagues and cabinet members who stand behind me. And to see all of you and realize that you care too.

All I can say is that God loves this country. We all know it. We wouldn’t be where we are without Him. And we love all of you. And we’re going to keep fighting, and we’re going to make this the greatest presidency that we’ve seen not only in generations but maybe ever. God bless all of you.

(Applause)

DONALD TRUMP: Paul Ryan just said, “How good was that?”

Darned good — and it sure doesn’t sound like someone who wants to retire.

So Orrin Hatch has gone from being a tea party target in 2012 (for very legitimate reasons) to being on Trump’s side, which includes fighting against the swamp.

Go figure.

Steve Bannon clearly needs to find a genuine anti-Trump target. There may not be many on the GOP side of the aisle after this week.

As those of us who are old enough to remember the Reagan years, the Gipper had his GOP enemies in the early days, but they came over to him once he started achieving legislative wins.

Nothing succeeds like success.

3Q17 GDP, Third Estimate: An Annualized 3.2 Percent, Down From Previous 3.3 Percent

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:08 am

From the Bureau of Economic Analysis (full text version):

Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the third quarter of 2017, according to the “third” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 3.1 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 3.3 percent. With this third estimate for the third quarter, personal consumption expenditures increased less than previously estimated, but the general picture of economic growth remains the same.

Real gross domestic income (GDI) increased 2.0 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 2.3 percent in the second. The average of real GDP and real GDI, a supplemental measure of U.S. economic activity that equally weights GDP and GDI, increased 2.6 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 2.7 percent in the second quarter.

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

The slight acceleration in real GDP in the third quarter primarily reflected an acceleration in private inventory investment and an upturn in state and local government spending that were partly offset by decelerations in PCE, nonresidential fixed investment, and exports.

Current-dollar GDP increased 5.3 percent, or $250.6 billion, in the third quarter to a level of $19,500.6 billion. In the second quarter, current-dollar GDP increased 4.1 percent, or $192.3 billion.

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.7 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 0.9 percent in the second quarter (table 4). The PCE price index increased 1.5 percent, compared with an increase of 0.3 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 1.3 percent, compared with an increase of 0.9 percent.

Updates to GDP

The downward revision to the percent change in real GDP primarily reflected a downward revision to PCE that was partly offset by an upward revision to state and local government spending.

I’ll have the detailed table ready shortly.

HERE IT IS:

GDPcomponentsThru3Q17at122117

There was zero growth in services other than health care. That’s not something we would want to see repeating itself.

Before rounding, the 3.2 percent “final” figure (pending the comprehensive revision in mid-2018), is halfway between the original number in October and the upwardly revised November figure. It’s not as fundamentally strong as one would want to see. One-fourth of the December is inventory change, which is fine if consumers pick up their pace of spending in the fourth quarter. There’s no net non-healthcare pickup in services, which is not at all comforting.

Looking forward, there are signs of improvement. It’s hard to imagine that residential investment will go negative for the third quarter in a row, given recent news in housing starts and new-home sales. One would also think that the non-healthcare portion of services in consumer spending will wake up.

But those improvements will be needed, because the chances of another big pickup coming from inventories, which are at historic highs, seems low.

The Atlanta Fed is currently predicting 3.3 percent for the fourth quarter. Moody’s is at 2.6 percent. The New York Fed is at 3.98 percent.

Obviously, a lot of data hasn’t come in yet, and the potential for a surprise would appear to be on the upside. It would be nice to think that those predicting an ultimate 4 percent fourth-quarter result are right, but despite the NY Fed, what we’re seeing so far doesn’t really support that — yet.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (122117)

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

Positivity: Knights of Columbus donate $1.4 million for post-hurricane rebuilding

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Houston, Texas:

Dec 17, 2017 / 04:10 pm

As Texas and Florida continue to rebuild from a devastating hurricane season, the Knights of Columbus are offering $1.4 million to aid the reconstruction of badly damaged churches.

“Getting parish facilities up and running again does not just meet a practical need,” said Knights CEO Carl Anderson.

“The people in the affected areas see the revival of their churches as a spiritual joy and as an important signal of recovery for the larger communities that surround these churches.”

Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on Aug. 25 and continued over the next five days, killing dozens and causing up to $180 billion in damage. The hurricane is believed to have affected 13 million people.

Not even a month after Harvey hit, Hurricane Irma tore through the Caribbean before making landfall on Sept. 10 and making its way through Georgia and the Carolinas. The hurricane was responsible for at least 134 deaths and caused billions of dollars in damage.

In Texas, $760,000 will be given by the Knights to seven churches to help the parishes rebuild. Another $690,000 will be given to six churches in Florida and Virgin Islands.

“The Knights of Columbus is committed to building up Catholic families and strengthening parish life,” said Anderson. “The effort to restore these much-needed houses of worship is appropriate for the Knights, who are most effective within the local parish structure of prayer and service to others.”

The organization raised $3.8 million for disaster relief following the storms. More than $720,000 was used to fund immediate post-storm assistance, covering food, water and shelter.

Many knights have also volunteered locally to help in their parishes communities following Harvey and Irma.

In addition, the Knights have donated $100,000 to repair and relief efforts in Puerto Rico, which is still struggling to recover after Hurricane Maria hit in September. …

Go here for the rest of the story.