Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Quick Hits - August 7, 2012

According to Gallup, economic confidence index slipped again in July, the second consecutive month that this measure has fallen. The measure by Gallup looks at both the current economic conditions as well as the future outlook.     Only 14% of Americans in July considered the economy good or excellent, while 42% considered it poor.  Looking into the future, 36% believed the economy would be improving while 59% said that they believed the economy would continue to worsen.  This is the worst level for this measurement in 2012.

Erza Klein, writing in the WaPoo, spins furiously to try to mask the cooking of the books by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and their efforts to spin the jobs data to make it as politically palatable for the Obama Administration as possible.

Klein notes, correctly, that the BLS reported that the U.S. economy lost 1.2 million jobs between June's numbers and July's.  He also notes correctly that the difference between the gross number of 1.2 million lost jobs and the reported 163,000 net gain is because of 'seasonal adjustments' made by the BLS to take into consideration seasonal fluctuations in jobs - like planned summer shutdowns of manufacturing jobs.

As is typical, Klein stops at this point - likely figuring that since we accept 20% of his story as correct, we'll assume the other 80% of his conclusions are correct.  But they are not.  Klein only does part of the job in terms of an honest discourse.  What Klein fails to address, but has been covered in earlier QH's and elsewhere, is that the 'seasonal adjustments' made by the BLS in July's numbers are unprecedented in their size and scope compared to past July's... far larger than those done previously.

We are left with but two simple conclusions.  One, the BLS is cooking the books for political purposes.  Two, the economy is contracting because of the policies of this President and his Administration.

The Investors Business Daily notes in today's economic situation, businesses fear the President and the Administration far more than they fear the fiscal cliff of 'Taxmageddon' that will hit in January 2013.
Nevertheless, the real problem businesses face isn't gridlock in Washington — lawmakers are sure to strike a deal before years' end.

The real problem they face is the cliff of a potential Obama reelection.

Even if they won't admit it to the New York Times, businesses know that a second Obama term will mean:

Higher taxes. Obama wants to jack up income tax rates not only on the "rich," but also raise the top capital gains rate to 24.7% and the top dividend tax to 44.7%. When this fails to produce any revenue, he'll certainly be back for more.

More debt. The budget Obama put forward this year proposed adding $3.5 trillion to the projected deficits over the next decade. Businesses are right to wonder why he'd be any more willing to cut federal red ink in a second term.

More regulations. Obama has already imposed $46 billion in new annual regulatory costs. And he clearly wants more. The National Federation of Independent Business calculates that 4,000 federal rules are in the wings that will saddle businesses with $500 billion in compliance costs.

ObamaCare. A second Obama term would also kill any chance of getting rid of ObamaCare and its massively expensive mandates, taxes and regulations.

With Obama continuing to do well in the polls, it's no wonder businesses are hunkering down today.

The WaPoo 'factchecker', Glenn Kessler, reluctantly gives Harry Reid four pinocchios for his accusation that Mitt Romney did not pay any taxes for 10 years - hardly restoring his credibility, while making the lightest possible slapdown on Reid's despicable claim....
Without seeing Romney’s taxes, we cannot definitively prove Reid incorrect. But tax experts say his claim is highly improbable. Reid also has made no effort to explain why his unnamed source would be credible. So, in the absence of more information, it appears he has no basis to make his incendiary claim.

Moreover, Reid holds a position of great authority in the U.S. Congress. He should hold himself to a high standard of accuracy when making claims about political opponents.
Unlike the efforts of Obama sycophants to try to focus attention on Mitt Romney's taxes or his personal wealth, the GOP Presidential candidate's campaign continues to focus on real issues.  The Romney camp has just released this advertisement hammering the President for his decision to gut the 1996 Welfare reform legislation that Bill Clinton takes so much credit for passing....

Both the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal have articles today that highlight how effective the 1996 legislation was - and the damage that is being done to the legislation (and welfare recipients) by the President's decision via executive order to eliminate the work requirement aspects.

The WSJ writes:
On July 12, the administration unilaterally weakened the federally mandated work requirements for welfare recipients. Since welfare reform was passed by Congress and signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996, the states have been required to have at least half of adult welfare recipients in qualified "work activities"—actual jobs, or participation in education or training programs. Now, however, Mr. Obama's Department of Health and Human Services has announced that the agency will issue waivers to the federal work requirement.

This is a dramatic change in direction. As Rep. Dave Camp (R., Mich.), chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, flatly asserts, "This ends welfare reform as we know it."

The 1996 law was arguably the most successful policy change to help low-income Americans in the past 60 years. Welfare policies of the 1960s led generations of families to languish on the government dole at subsistence levels, never gaining the skills to work and with little hope to rise. It took more than a decade to get Congress to reverse course. But it was worth the effort.

According to the U.S. government, welfare reform helped to move 4.7 million Americans from welfare dependency to self-sufficiency within three years of enactment. The overall federal welfare caseload declined by 54% between 1996 and 2004.

Even more important, there is evidence that it improved the lives of those who moved off welfare. In the Berkeley Electronic Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy (2011), Santa Clara University's John Ifcher showed, using data from the General Social Survey, that single mothers—despite lost leisure time and increased stress from finding child care and performing household duties while working—were significantly happier about their lives in the eight years after reforms led them into the workforce.

The central insight from welfare reform is that people flourish when they earn their success, and this requires real market work. They escape poverty—and they live dignified, better-ordered lives. They don't just move out of welfare; they move up from dependence on the government.
And this last point is one of the most important - moving people from dependence on the government.  As the Heritage Foundation notes:
By requiring recipients of certain government welfare programs to work, look for work, or take job-training classes, the reforms connected sound moral reasoning to effective public policy: Policy should provide a safety net for those genuinely in need, but it shouldn’t treat people as incapable of helping themselves, nor should it enable and incentivize destructive behavior...
...Good intentions are not enough for a morally sound policy of assisting the poor; how we provide assistance is crucially important. Overall assistance should be holistic, oriented not solely at meeting a material need but at transforming lives to be responsible, productive, and independent. Government assistance shouldn’t enable and incentivize the behaviors that lead to poverty in the first place.

Policy shouldn’t create a safety net that functions as a poverty trap. Nor should it view the poor as burdens and nuisances to be managed and cared for. Rather, it should treat the poor as persons of inestimable dignity, full of potential, and capable of caring for themselves and making contributions to society. Asking welfare recipients to work and engage in other productive behaviors respects their dignity, potential, and capabilities.
That is one of the main choices, we as voters, face this November.  Do we want to support a vision that believes that we should become dependent on the government - where the people exist solely to serve the government?  Or do we want to support a vision that believes that the proper role of government is to exist to serve the people - and is accountable to the people as the Founding Fathers envisioned.

Because Barack Obama's vision is to 'Put More People on Welfare'...
The federal government actually runs 126 separate anti-poverty programs. They're managed by 13 different agencies.

We use the word "welfare" to describe money that goes to needy people. But the government's war on poverty is a whole lot bigger. And it's rife with waste and redundancy.

The federal government runs 33 different housing programs: 21 programs to provide food, eight healthcare programs, 27 cash or general assistance programs. It's hard to find a government department that doesn't run an anti-poverty program. All this adds up -- and this is just the federal government.

If you also include state and local spending, the government will spend nearly a trillion dollars this year fighting poverty. That's almost the size of the national deficit this year.

Now let me be clear, I don't object to poor people getting help. My problem is a government throwing money at programs that clearly aren't working. Consider this: All this welfare spending adds up to $20,610 for every poor man, woman and child in the country.

For a poor family of three, that's nearly $62,000 dollars. The poverty line for that family is just $18,500. With this kind of spending, poverty should be wiped out - instead it's growing.

Today, one in seven Americans is living in poverty. The most in almost two decades. All the while spending is soaring.

And, welfare spending for the last four decades -- adjusted for inflation? Up, up, up. How can we spend all this money, and see so little progress?
How?  It's change you can believe in....

We now have the latest scandal from the Obama Administration which involves more Administration officials lying under oath...and probably more lying Administration officials who will get a pass from the mainstream media and the Department of Justice.
Emails obtained by The Daily Caller show that the U.S. Treasury Department, led by Timothy Geithner, was the driving force behind terminating the pensions of 20,000 salaried retirees at the Delphi auto parts manufacturing company. The move, made in 2009 while the Obama administration implemented its auto bailout plan, appears to have been made solely because those retirees were not members of labor unions.

The internal government emails contradict sworn testimony, in federal court and before Congress, given by several Obama administration figures. They also indicate that the administration misled lawmakers and the courts about the sequence of events surrounding the termination of those non-union pensions, and that administration figures violated federal law.

Delphi, a General Motors company, is one of the world’s largest automotive parts manufacturers. Twenty thousand of its workers lost nearly their entire pensions when the government bailed out GM. At the same time, Delphi employees who were members of the United Auto Workers union saw their pensions topped off and made whole.
Let's move to Zerohedge's post on the same subject...
Back in 2009 when the government sacrificed GM and Chrysler bondholders just so labor unions (read voters) can be made whole, the media, for various reasons, decided not to pursue the decision-making process that left some workers with their pensions wiped out, while others were made whole and suffered no losses (with a comparable lack of investigation being conducted as to the decisions that shuttered some Chrysler dealers, but left others operating, a topic Zero Hedge had some say over).

In fact, as the Daily Caller reminds us "The White House and Treasury Department have consistently maintained that the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) independently made the decision to terminate the 20,000 non-union Delphi workers’ pension plan...Former Treasury official Matthew Feldman and former White House auto czar Ron Bloom, both key members of the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry during the GM bailout, have testified under oath that the PBGC, not the administration, led the effort to terminate the non-union Delphi workers’ pension plan." Turns out they lied... Under oath.
And they're accusing Romney of going to sell out America?  The Obama Administration has already sold out the hard earned pensions of 20,000 non-union Delphi workers to benefit his union base.

That's fundamental change.

Barack Obama is going to campaign in Colorado and be introduced by the woman who said she couldn't afford $9 per month in birth control pills while attending the $40,000+ per year Georgetown Law School, leading to the anti-religious Obamacare mandate.  I doubt the poster-child for government dependence will do little to help sway independents.

President Obama probably had Sandra Fluke on the 'B' list, since 'A' list leftard Sean Penn is busy campaigning for Marxist Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and would be unavailable to be in Colorado.

Ace of Spades brings us this announcement on what will be one of the most touching, and well watched, moments of the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina... When former President Jimmy Carter will pass the torch of being the worst post World War II President to Barack Obama....

When Attorney General Eric Holder and other Democrats respond to the efforts of various states to enact Voter ID laws, designed to prevent voter fraud, one of the standard 'arguments' made is that voter fraud is not a real issue - just one made up by the 'racists' who 'want to suppress minority voting'.  Byron York, writing in the Washington Examiner, looks at the fallacy around voter fraud not being a real issue - using the case in the 2008 Minnesota Senatorial election where 1,099 felons voted in a race won by Al Franken by 312 ballots.....after 4 recounts.
177 people have been convicted — not just accused, but convicted — of voting fraudulently in the Senate race. Another 66 are awaiting trial. “The numbers aren’t greater,” the authors say, “because the standard for convicting someone of voter fraud in Minnesota is that they must have been both ineligible, and ‘knowingly’ voted unlawfully.” The accused can get off by claiming not to have known they did anything wrong.

Still, that’s a total of 243 people either convicted of voter fraud or awaiting trial in an election that was decided by 312 votes. With 1,099 examples identified by Minnesota Majority, and with evidence suggesting that felons, when they do vote, strongly favor Democrats, it doesn’t require a leap to suggest there might one day be proof that Al Franken was elected on the strength of voter fraud.

And that’s just the question of voting by felons. Minnesota Majority also found all sorts of other irregularities that cast further doubt on the Senate results.
It's best to remember the advice of Hugh Hewitt - 'If it's not close, they can't cheat...'

Tensions between Germany and Italy are escalating as Italy falls deeper into economic challenges and moves closer to needing a bailout in order to remain in the Eurozone / Euro currency.  German politicians from across the spectrum have reacted furiously to warnings by Italy’s Mario Monti that Bundestag control over EU debt policies threatens to bring about the “disintegration” of the European project.

Michael Walsh has a different historical look at this year's Presidential election - making the case that this is less like the 1980 contest between President Jimmy Carter and challenger Ronald Reagan, and closer to the 1993 New York City Mayoral race between NYC's first black Mayor, David Dinkins, and the man he defeated in 1989, Rudy Giuliani...
“You remember Dinkins — he defeated Rudy Giuliani in their first head-to-head match-up in 1989, then lost in 1993 after the Crown Heights riot and other disasters finally brought the citizens to their senses and, holding their noses, they called the cops and elected a law-and-order Republican in place of a liberal Democrat.
There's some validity to this argument.  While Barack Obama is as incompetent and flawed as a manager as Jimmy Carter, Mitt Romney is no Ronald Reagan in terms of charisma or speaking ability.  He is, a pro-business, pro-capitalism, pro-American Republican who is running against the first black U.S. President....a President who has mismanaged his way through a number of major challenges - in particular in his inability to ignite a viable economic recovery, control spending, address the national debt, and offer a foreign policy success other than 'getting' Osama Bin Laden.

Today in History

1782 - General George Washington, Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, creates the 'Badge for Military Merit' - featuring a purple silk heart as a key part of it's design.  It was only awarded to three Revolutionary War soldiers and was generally forgotten as a decoration until 1927 when the Army Chief of Staff unsuccessfully petitioned Congress to revive the medal.  In 1931, the case was taken up again by the new Army Chief of Staff, General Douglas MacArthur, who asked for the medal to be reinstated by the time of the bicentennial of Washington's birth in 1932.  On February 22, 1932, the 200th anniversary of Washington's birth, the War Department announced the creation of the 'Order of the Purple Heart'.

1942 - Troops of the 1st Marine Division launch Operation Watchtower - the first U.S. offensive of the Pacific War, when it invades Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and three other nearby smaller islands.  The key was to capture the airfield under construction on Guadalcanal.  Originally planned as a campaign to last 6 weeks, the battle for Guadalcanal took until the following February of bloody attrition fighting on land, air, and sea before the Japanese were defeated.  The campaign would set the stage for the rest of the bloody fight in the Pacific theater.

1947 - Thor Heyerdahl, captaining a balsa wood raft named the 'Kon-Tiki' completes a 4,300 mile, 101 day journey from Peru to Raroia in the Tuamotu Archipelago, near Tahiti - proving his theory that prehistoric South Americans could have colonized the Polynesian Islands by drifting on ocean currents.

1964 - The U.S. Congress overwhelmingly approves the Gulf of Tonkin resolution giving President Lyndon Johnson nearly unlimited powers to oppose communist aggression in SE Asia.

1990 - President George H.W. Bush orders the launch of Operation Desert Shield in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.  The order sends U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia to be part of an international coalition helping to defend Saudi Arabia and other friendly countries in the region from continued Iraqi aggression.  By January 1991, the mission would become Operation Desert Storm, the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation.

1998 - Minutes apart, two massive truck bombs strike the U.S Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people (including 12 Americans), and wounding over 4,500.  The terror attacks were conducted by al-Qaeda, the Islamic terrorist organization led by Osama Bin Laden.  On August 20, President Bill Clinton would order the launch of cruise missile strikes against al-Qaeda terror training camps in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan where al-Qaeda was allegedly making or distributing chemical weapons.

No comments:

Post a Comment