Friday, September 30, 2011

Americans Give GOP Edge in Handling Nation's Problems--Gallup

Americans Give GOP Edge in Handling Nation's Problems

Majority see need for third party

by Frank Newport
This story is part of an ongoing series on on Americans' views on the role and performance of government.

PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans see the Republican Party as better able than the Democratic Party to protect the country from terrorism and military threats, and to keep the country prosperous over the next few years.
Looking ahead for the next few years, which political party do you think will do a better job of -- protecting the country from international terrorism and military threats? Keeping the country prosperous? September 2011 results
These views come as record numbers of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed and express highly negative opinions about a number of other dimensions of the federal government. Next year's elections provide Americans with an opportunity to vent their frustrations in the presidential and the congressional elections. At this point, Republicans, who currently control the House but not the presidency or the Senate, appear to be at least slightly better positioned going into the elections, given Americans' preference for the GOP to handle the nation's domestic and international woes.

Democrats held the advantage over the Republican Party on the "prosperous" dimension from 2003 through 2009, a period that included the majority of George W. Bush's presidency and the first year of Barack Obama's. The advantage switched to the GOP last year and remains so this year, by 48% to 39%.

The Endless Economic Recovery--worst since WWII

The Endless Economic Recovery

Economy: If you needed another metric by which to measure the failure of Obamanomics, new numbers released Friday show that two years after the recession ended the economy still hasn't fully recovered.

According to the revised gross domestic product data released Friday, the nation's economy grew a paltry 1% in the second quarter, after eking out a barely noticeable 0.4% gain in the first.

As a result, two years after the recession ended, the economy still hasn't made up the ground it lost, giving Obama the dubious distinction of presiding over the most prolonged economic recovery since the Great Depression.

This isn't just slightly bad. It's monumentally bad.
An IBD review of all the post-World War II recessions shows that, on average, it took just over two fiscal quarters for the economy to recover from a downturn and start expanding again.
In contrast, we're eight quarters into the Obama recovery, and the expansion is somewhere off in the distance, with real GDP still $65.5 billion below the pre-recession peak. And if you take into account all the population growth that's occurred over the past two years, we're even further behind.

Obama likes to blame the depth of the downturn for the "painfully slow" recovery. "We didn't get into this mess overnight, and we won't get out of it overnight. It's going to take time," he said — nearly a year ago.

The claim is bogus. This recession lasted only slightly longer than the 1981-82 contraction — 18 months vs. 16 — and wasn't as severe when measured by peak unemployment.

But the economy came screaming out of that downturn, and in three quarters was already well into an expansion. The 1973-75 recession lasted 16 months, but also took only three quarters to fully recover.
Obama's also fond of blaming the sluggish recovery on the fact the recession resulted from a "financial crisis," alleging that something about that kind of recession makes for a longer recovery time. But it's not like all the other slumps didn't have any hint of financial crisis behind them.

Now he and his friends have taken to blaming bad luck and Republican bad faith for supposedly weakening what had been an improving economy.

"In 2010 ... we were growing," Obama's former chief economic adviser Austan Goolsbee said Thursday. "Now, at the beginning of this year, we get earthquakes, tsunamis, revolutions in the Middle East, European financial crises. Now we got earthquakes outside of Washington, D.C."

But Obama's recovery was vastly inferior to previous ones well before these alleged headwinds emerged. Plus, revised GDP numbers show that the recovery was softening throughout 2010, with GDP growth slowing in each successive quarter.

For that, Obama has only his own economic medicine to blame. His preferred treatment — huge hikes in federal spending, massive new environmental and financial regulations, ObamaCare, an out-of-control labor relations board, verbal attacks on businesses and the rich, etc. — just isn't working to get the economy back on its feet.

If a patient were taking an unusually long time to recover from an illness, a responsible doctor would try a new treatment regimen, rather than simply administer larger doses of the same drugs. He might even consult other doctors to see if they've had better luck with different prescriptions.

But Dr. Obama gives no sign of doing anything other than pump more Keynesian medicine into the IV. It's possible he'll try a different approach in September, when he gives his much-anticipated jobs speech. If he doesn't, it will be nothing short of malpractice.

Hatch to Craig Becker: Did You Write the SEIU Intimidation Manual?

Hatch to Craig Becker: Did You Write the SEIU Intimidation Manual?

Utah Senator Writes NLRB Board Member and Former SEIU Official Craig Becker To Demand Answers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today wrote to National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) member and former Service Employees International Union (SEIU) official Craig Becker to inquire about his involvement in union intimidation efforts. The letter sent to Becker comes after the SEIU’s “Contract Campaign Manual” was made public. The handbook tells union members to purposefully try to damage their employers’ reputations by coming up with allegations against their employers and managers and to even break the law to gain leverage in contract negotiations.

In the letter, Hatch writes that, “the manual explicitly advises union members to engage in tactics designed to attack the reputation of an employer as well as its managers and to purposefully damage an employer’s relationship with vendors and customers.  In addition, it advises employees to uncover “dirt” on management officials and publicize the information in order to obtain leverage in contract negotiations.  The manual even goes so far as to encourage union members to disobey certain laws when it serves the union’s purposes.”

This is not the first time Hatch has tried to get answers from Becker regarding his involvement with disconcerting union intimidation tactics. During a hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee last year, Hatch repeatedly pressed Becker regarding his involvement in similar tactics such as union corporate campaigns, but Becker refused to address Hatch’s concerns.
In today’s letter, Hatch asked Becker several specific questions regarding his involvement with the SEIU manual, including inquiring about his involvement in drafting and implementing the instructions in the manual, if he’s ever instructed clients to break the law, and if he believes the tactics detailed in the guidebook are appropriate actions for union members to take during contract negotiations.

Below is the full text of Hatch’s letter to Becker:

September 12, 2011
The Honorable Craig Becker
National Labor Relations Board

1099 14th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20570
Dear Member Becker:

I am writing to inquire about your role in drafting controversial documents distributed by your former employer, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  Given the Senate’s oversight role over the NLRB as well as your pending re-nomination to the Board, I hope that you will give prompt and complete answers to the questions presented.

According to several recent news reports, some controversial documents have come to light in the course of SEIU’s current litigation with Sudexo, Inc., including a “Contract Campaign Manual,” which provides details regarding the strategies employed by the union during organizing and contract campaigns.  Among other things, the manual explicitly advises union members to engage in tactics designed to attack the reputation of an employer as well as its managers and to purposefully damage an employer’s relationship with vendors and customers.  In addition, it advises employees to uncover “dirt” on management officials and publicize the information in order to obtain leverage in contract negotiations.  The manual even goes so far as to encourage union members to disobey certain laws when it serves the union’s purposes.

During your initial confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in July 2009, I asked you many questions, both in person and in writing, regarding the use of “corporate campaigns” on the part of unions and organizers.  At no point in any of your answers did you disclose your opinion about the propriety of “corporate campaign” tactics or any information regarding your role in advising union members that engage in these tactics.  Due to these recent revelations, I believe more information is necessary.

Therefore, with regard to recently-publicized “Contract Campaign Manual,” I have the following questions:
          1) What role, if any, did you play in the drafting or approval of the manual?
          2) Have you ever advised any client to engage in the questionable tactics 
              outlined in the manual, including tactics specifically designed to personally
              embarrass or intimidate employers or managers, jeopardize employer
              relationships with customers and vendors, and purposefully disrupt 
              production in the workplace?

          3) Have you ever advised any client that it is permissible to break the law in
              the course of an organizing or contract campaign?

          4) In your view, are the campaign tactics detailed in the SEIU manual
              appropriate actions for union members to take in the midst of organizing
              campaigns or contract negotiations?

I am deeply concerned about the current direction of the NLRB.  While I do not doubt your competency or your talents, I believe the publication of these documents further calls into question your objectivity in addressing and adjudicating matters dealing with labor-management relations and union representation.  Once again, I hope you will shed more light on these issues by providing prompt and complete answers to these questions.
Thank you for your attention regarding this matter.                   
                                      Orrin G. Hatch
                                      United States Senator

Thursday, September 29, 2011

President Solyndra--And his mean green wealth-wasting machine.

President Solyndra--And his mean green wealth-wasting machine.

You know you've wanted to throw this kind of truth in leftist/Obama water-carrier Elizabeth Warren's face

SEEN ON FACEBOOK, this response to Elizabeth Warren.

UPDATE: A reader sends this response:
Group of friends of Stanford football post on a board called On the current events board, we have debated the Warren comments. here was my response:

“You built a factory out there? Good for you,”
“Built a factory” is a summary for a lot of work. Put up equity, designed a business, took risk to buy land, get permits, pay property taxes and use taxes and permit fees. Then, bought a bunch of equipment and had it installed …and paid sales taxes. Hired some employees and paid them a bunch of money and paid payroll taxes on top of that. Bought a bunch of raw materials from companies that paid a bunch of salaries and a bunch of taxes. Building a factory is a huge private investment that pays the public a lot of taxes for the right to be built.

“But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.”
Between fuel taxes, license fees, tolls and various taxes on transportation related activities, the roads budget is smaller than the total tax take.
"you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate;" No, you did not educate them. You babysat them for 12 years. Then I hired them, taught them how to be responsible and show up for work, taught them how to communicate in clear sentences, taught them that there are rights and wrongs and (unlike with your schools) wrongs have consequences in the workplace. Then paid for extended education for my employees so they could continue to improve themselves and better add value to what we do around here.
“You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.” Funny, my factory has 24/7 security guards because the last time it was broken into, the police did not even bother to take a report, they just said “call your insurance company”. As for fire? The closest fire department is 10 miles away. My insurance company requires that I have a full wet sprinkler system to qualify for insurance because there is no local fire protection.

“You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.”
Well, that is not exactly true. When the AFL-CIO tried to unionize my workforce, they staged three days of noisy protests outside my factory. The police forces just stood around and watched as the protesters intimidated my workers, vandalized their cars and destroyed my property.
You say “we” like the government and society are the same. They aren’t. My company and my community and you politicians are not “we”.

Green Fascism at Work--throwing the poorest under the AGW bus

Green Fascism at Work

by Steven Hayward
Sometimes I like to point out that even if catastrophic global warming could be conclusively proven, it would not change one crucial political fact: Al Gore and the environmental left are the last people you would trust to solve the problem.  This is a variation of my axiom that the environment is much too important to be left to environmentalists—they’ll just screw it up further and crush our liberties.

Case in point is a story in the New York Times last Wednesday that escaped my notice.  (Hat tip: CR & SP.)  Know how we always hear that we must tackle climate change to protect the dispossessed poor in the developing world?  Well, it turns out that dispossessing the poor is what climate action is all about.  The Times story looks at one of the trendy ideas in the authoritarian climate change orthodoxy, planting trees in developing nations so that you can sell “offset credits” in the phony carbon exchange markets that have been set up.  Oxfam reports on how thousands of Africans have been forcibly evicted from their land, often violently, to make way for a tree plantation by some European company:
Across Africa, some of the world’s poorest people have been thrown off land to make way for foreign investors, often uprooting local farmers so that food can be grown on a commercial scale and shipped to richer countries overseas.
But in this case, the government and the company said the settlers were illegal and evicted for a good cause: to protect the environment and help fight global warming.
The case twists around an emerging multibillion-dollar market trading carbon-credits under the Kyoto Protocol, which contains mechanisms for outsourcing environmental protection to developing nations.
The company involved, New Forests Company, grows forests in African countries with the purpose of selling credits from the carbon-dioxide its trees soak up to polluters abroad. Its investors include the World Bank, through its private investment arm, and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, HSBC.
The face of green fascism at work.  Heck, I’ll bet New Forests got a government loan guarantee from someone.

Obama Lies about the ‘Do-Nothing Congress’

Obama Lies about the ‘Do-Nothing Congress’ - Deroy Murdock - National Review Online

Obama Lies about the ‘Do-Nothing Congress’
His party, not the Republicans, is the obstacle.

‘This Congress, they are accustomed to doing nothing, and they’re comfortable with doing nothing, and they keep on doing nothing,” President Obama whined at a September 15 Democratic National Committee gathering in a private Washington residence.

Now that his “Blame Bush” hobby horse finally has retired to the glue factory, Obama resorts to pinning America’s woes on the “Do-Nothing Congress.” If only these parliamentarians would stop taking endless lunches, sipping cocktails at Capitol Hill happy hours, and napping at their desks, America might have some chance of returning to normal.

Obama speaks as if the entire Congress were in lock-step Republican opposition to his every initiative. Damn those pesky elephants!

Of course, Obama’s rhetoric cynically turns things upside down.

Congress consists of a do-something House of Representatives, run by Republicans, and a do-nothing Senate controlled by Obama’s very own Democrats. Obama evidently believes that if he can keep spouting clever lies and distortions, no one will call him on it. Well, it’s time to do so.

The 112th Congress has been characterized by a very active legislative pace in the Republican House, featuring the passage of many measures designed to revive America’s exhausted economy.
The Democratic Senate, meanwhile, is a much lazier place, where House Republicans’ measures go to die.

The figures bear this out, beyond debate.
Through September 15, the Republican House had been in session for 120 days. The Democratic Senate through the same date had been in session only 115 days.

In terms of recorded votes, the two bodies are as different as Times Square and the Everglades. Through September 15, the GOP House had voted 711 times. Meanwhile, across the same period, the Democratic Senate had only 137 recorded votes. So, the allegedly lethargic GOP legislators whose sloth dooms the nation actually are five times as energetic as their indolent counterparts in the Democratic Senate. 

This distinction might discredit House Republicans if they wasted their time voting on National Apricot Yogurt Month and similar matters of national urgency. In fact, Republicans have approved serious legislation designed to get America moving.

“Our new majority has passed more than a dozen pro-growth measures designed to address the jobs crisis,” Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor wrote Obama on September 6. “Aside from repeal of the 1099-reporting requirement in the health care law, however, none of the jobs measures passed by the House to date have been taken up by the Democrat-controlled Senate.”

These have included bills to reduce anti-business regulations, accelerate offshore oil production, and speed the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry Canadian petroleum to refineries in Texas. The pipeline alone would create 20,000 jobs.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid seems to be in no rush to consider Obama’s American Jobs Act, even though Obama wants it enacted “right now!”

“We’ve got to get rid of some issues first,” Reid said. For now, he is not sure “exactly what I’m going to do yet with the president’s jobs bill,” especially since some of Reid’s own Democrats, such as Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Jim Webb of Virginia, seem ho-hum about Obama’s $447 billion Stimulus Jr.

While House Republicans adopted a budget last April 15, the Democratic Senate has not approved a budget since April 29, 2009. This Democratic inaction seems to violate the U.S. Congressional Budget Act, which requires passage of an annual budget resolution. Indeed, the Senate rejected Obama’s budget in May by a vote of 0 to 97 — with every Democrat in the chamber voting nay.

Obama can disagree with every piece of paper passed by the GOP House. But when he slyly bashes Republicans by accusing “this Congress” of “doing nothing,” he simply is lying through his teeth. If Obama wants the entire Congress to get something done, he should tell Harry Reid to wake up and do his job.

— New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Return of the Real Obama--the hard left community organizer

President Obama shifts from a phony centrism back to his social-democratic core.


In a 2008 debate, Charlie Gibson asked Barack Obama about his support for raising capital-gains taxes, given the historical record of government losing net revenue as a result. Obama persevered: “Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital-gains tax for purposes of fairness.”

A most revealing window into our president’s political core: To impose a tax that actually impoverishes our communal bank account (the U.S. Treasury) is ridiculous. It is nothing but punitive. It benefits no one — not the rich, not the poor, not the government. For Obama, however, it brings fairness, which is priceless.

Now that he’s president, Obama has actually gone and done it. He’s just proposed a $1.5 trillion tsunami of tax hikes featuring a “Buffett rule” that, although as yet deliberately still fuzzy, clearly includes raising capital-gains taxes.

He also insists again upon raising marginal rates on “millionaire” couples making $250,000 or more. But roughly half the income of small businesses (i.e., those filing individual returns) would be hit by this tax increase. Therefore, if we are to believe Obama’s own logic that his proposed business tax credits would increase hiring, then surely this tax hike will reduce small-business hiring.

But what are jobs when fairness is at stake? Fairness trumps growth. Fairness trumps revenue. Fairness trumps economic logic.

Obama himself has said that “you don’t raise taxes in a recession.” Why then would he risk economic damage when facing reelection? Because these proposals have no chance of being enacted, many of them having been rejected by the Democratic-controlled Congress of Obama’s first two years in office.
Moreover, this is not an economic, or jobs, or debt-reduction plan in the first place. This is a campaign manifesto. This is anti-millionaire populism as premise for his reelection. And as such, it is already working.

Obama’s Democratic base is electrified. On the left, the new message is playing to rave reviews. It has rekindled the enthusiasm of his core constituency — the MoveOn, Hollywood liberal, Upper West Side precincts best described years ago by John Updike: “Like most of her neighborhood, she was a fighting liberal, fighting to have her money taken from her.”

Added Updike: “For all her exertions, it never was.” But now with Obama — it will! Turns out, Obama really was the one they had been waiting for.

That is: the new Obama, today’s soak-the-rich, veto-threatening, self-proclaimed class warrior. Except that the new Obama is really the old Obama — the one who, upon entering office in the middle of a deep economic crisis, and determined not to allow “a serious crisis to go to waste” (to quote his then chief of staff), exploited the (presumed) malleability of a demoralized and therefore passive citizenry to enact the largest Keynesian stimulus in recorded history, followed by the quasi-nationalization of the one-sixth of the economy that is health care.

Considering the political cost — massive electoral rebuke by an infuriated 2010 electorate — these are the works of a conviction politician, one deeply committed to his own social-democratic vision.
That politician now returns. Obama’s new populism surely is a calculation that his halfhearted feints to the center after the midterm “shellacking” were not only unconvincing but would do him no good anyway with a stagnant economy, 9 percent unemployment, and a staggering $4 trillion of new debt.

But this is more than a political calculation. It is more than just a pander to his base. It is a pander to himself: Obama is a member of his base. He believes this stuff. It is an easy and comfortable political shift for him, because it’s a shift from a phony centrism back to his social-democratic core, from positioning to authenticity.

The authentic Obama is a leveler, a committed social democrat, a staunch believer in the redistributionist state, a tribune, above all, of “fairness” — understood as government-imposed and government-enforced equality.

That’s why “soak the rich” is not just a campaign slogan to rally the base. It’s a mission, a vocation. It’s why for all its gratuitous cynicism and demagoguery, Obama’s populist Rose Garden lecture on Monday was delivered with such obvious — and unusual — conviction.

He’s returned to the authenticity of his radical April 2009 “New Foundation” address (at Georgetown University) that openly proclaimed his intent to fundamentally transform America.

Good. There’s something to be said for authenticity. A choice, not an echo, said Barry Goldwater. The country will soon choose, although not soon enough.

— Charles Krauthammer is a national syndicated columnist. © 2011, The Washington Post Writers Group.

EPA’s rules may force power failures

EPA’s rules may force power failures

 by Tina Korbe

It was easy last week, when President Obama scrubbed an expensive proposed environmental regulation, to wonder whether the world had turned right side up. Without doubt, Obama made the wise decision when it came to proposed new ozone regulations. As Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor today, the president created more jobs by reversing one regulation than he ever will with a speech. But as I wrote this weekend, only if Republicans continue to hammer away at other job-killing regulations will this have been a first step worth celebrating — otherwise, it’s just a chance for Obama to tout a job-creation gesture and a supposed spirit of compromise.

May I humbly suggest one such regulation to next spotlight for elimination? The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, when combined with another proposed regulation (the Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology or “Utility MACT” rule), will cost the country $17.8 billion a year and put 175,000 jobs at risk each year, as well. Now, that’s nowhere near as expensive as the proposed ozone regulations — which would have cost the country up to $90 billion a year, with as many as 7.3 million jobs lost by 2020 — but I’d say 175,000 newly employed is nothing to sneeze at. Plus, the two regulations would increase electricity rates by more than 23 percent in some areas of the United States that rely on coal for electricity. In addition, consumers will be paying more than $8 billion a year in higher natural gas prices because of these proposed rules.

But just in case you’re still not sold that the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule ought to be repealed before it takes effect Jan. 1, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas provides another reason (ERCOT released this information Friday — the same day Obama announced his reversal of the ozone regs):
Rolling blackouts will be much more likely in Texas next summer should new Environmental Protection Agency rules go into effect on Jan. 1 as planned, according to a report released Thursday by the state’s main electric grid manager.
The rules, which industry says caught it by surprise when they were unveiled in July, could lead to the shuttering of as much as 1,400 megawatts of coal-fired power plants capacity in Texas during the summer and up to 6,000 megawatts during other times of the year, according to the study by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.
ERCOT has declared power emergencies several times this summer as record demand met unplanned power plant outages. Plant operators say the long, hot summer has meant more wear-and-tear due to longer operating hours for power plants.
Predictably, the EPA dismissed the ERCOT study, saying the state of Texas could find a way to meet the requirements of the new rule “without threatening electricity reliability or the continued operation of coal-burning units.” But agency representatives didn’t bother to substantiate that claim.

It’s not as though coal companies don’t want to do their part to help the environment. Consider this statement from Steve Miller, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity: “The EPA is ignoring the cumulative economic damage new regulations will cause. America’s coal-fueled electric industry has been doing its part for the environment and the economy, but our industry needs adequate time to install clean coal technologies to comply with new regulations. Unfortunately, EPA doesn’t seem to care.”

In other words, energy companies would appreciate at the very least a more sensible, economically sensitive timeline. No doubt the president senses this. Politically speaking, the president has to show he’s serious about jobs and one way to do that is to abandon the ideologically-driven regulations that threaten whatever anemic recovery the nation has experienced. But he probably won’t stay on the anti-regulation bandwagon for long, as that might cost him among one of his own constituencies. Kevin Book and Chase Hutto, principals in the energy policy consulting firm Clearview Energy Partners, probably predicted accurately when they wrote: “For a president pinned between a green base and an anemic recovery, the best political outcome may be for the White House to stand behind EPA rules as either Congress or the Courts intervenes to delay them.”

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This Week’s Climate Follies, Barack Obama Edition

This Week’s Climate Follies, Barack Obama Edition

by Steven Hayward/

President Obama must be fairly rattled already about the prospect of losing to Rick Perry.  A couple days ago Obama took a shot at Perry as “a governor whose state is on fire, denying climate change.”

Getting nervous, Mr. President?

It’s another perfect example of the non-falsifiability and complete flexibility of  climate alarmism, which works like this: whenever there’s a local weather pattern—winter snowstorms (after being told 10 years ago that England would never see them again, for example), or cool summers—that runs against the global warming narrative, it is dismissed as “weather,” while any extreme local events such as tornadoes, hot weather, or drought are always called incontrovertible evidence that Global Warming Climate Change Is Happening!

The indispensible Marc Morano’s ClimateDepot website delivers Obama’s well-deserved smackdown for this howler.  Drought has actually been falling over the last century.  And deaths from extreme weather events have been steadily declining, too, as you can see on this chart of the data done up by my friend Indur Goklany  (who is, it turns out, a government scientist!).  Meanwhile,  Morano gives a hat tip to Obama on one thing: in 2008 Obama said that his election would be “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow,” and guess what?  The latest satellite data from both NASA and European scientific monitors show average sea levels have actually declined the last couple of years.  A campaign promise fulfilled!  At least one anyway.  Hope and change have come to the world’s mollusks!

But never forget the narrative: it’s Republicans who don’t pay attention to science.  That never happens with liberals.

Obama's Recovery A Flop Of Historical Proportions

Obama's Recovery A Flop Of Historical Proportions

As President Obama prepares to deliver yet another speech about stimulating the economy — this one to a joint-session of Congress (with or without the NFL game on the monitors) — it's worth reviewing the results of his efforts to date.
It has now been a little over two years — and eight full economic quarters — since the end of the recession Obama inherited. It's time to ask: How does his record of economic growth in the wake of a recession stack up against the records of other presidents?

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) defines a recession as "a period between a peak and a trough" during which "a significant decline in economic activity spreads across the economy and can last from a few months to more than a year."

By consensus, the most recent recession ended in June 2009, less than six months after Obama took office.

According to the NBER, in the 60 years prior to Obama's tenure, we had 10 recessions.  In the two years following those respective recessions, average real (inflation-adjusted) quarterly GDP growth was 5%, according to federal government figures. In the two years of Obama's "recovery," average real quarterly GDP growth has been just 2.4%, less than half of the historical norm coming out of a recession.

What's the difference (in more practical terms) between 2.4% and 5% growth over two years?  According to Obama's own budget, this year's GDP will be about $15 trillion.  (It's running neck and neck with the national debt.)  A 2.6% shortfall, therefore, equals about $780 billion over two years.
If you divide that evenly among the U.S. population of 312 million people, that works out to a shortfall of $2,500 per person — or $10,000 for the average family of four. Call it the Obama penalty.

Some might argue that the anemic post-recession growth rate under Obama has resulted from his having inherited a worse recession than most. There's little doubt that he inherited a particularly long (18-month) and significant recession. But the historical record suggests that, pre-Obama, the general rule was: the worse the recession (or depression), the better the recovery.

In other words, one would have expected such a severe downturn to be followed by a particularly strong stretch of economic growth. That, of course, hasn't happened.

But it has historically. If we look only at the six postwar recessions that lasted at least half as long (that is, at least nine months) as the recession Obama inherited, we find the following:
Average real quarterly GDP growth in the two years coming out of those recessions was 6.2%.  The 2.4% figure under Obama has been a mere 39% of that — which, come to think of it, roughly matches Obama's current approval rating.

And strikingly, among those six prior long recessions in the postwar era, even the lowest rate of GDP growth in the two years to follow was 4.7%. That's almost double the tally under Obama.
The worst economy that any American president has inherited, of course, was when Franklin D. Roosevelt took office during the Great Depression. According to the NBER, the Depression actually involved two separate downturns (or "contractions").

The first was from August 1929 to March 1933. The federal government doesn't publish quarterly GDP growth figures from that far back, but average annual real GDP growth for 1934 and 1935 was 9.9% — more than quadruple Obama's 2.4.

After FDR's landslide (and unsurprising) reelection in 1936, the economy plunged into the second deep trough of the Great Depression, from May 1937 to June 1938.  Coming out of that, average annual real GDP growth for 1939 and 1940 was 8.5% (leading to FDR's subsequent reelection).

In truth, one might say that Barack Obama was elected at a very enviable time. He came into office when the economy was down but poised to start recovering within the next several months. All he had to do was be within the ballpark of the historical rate of 5% real growth coming out of recessions (or 6.2% coming out of longer recessions), not do anything horribly unpopular — like spearheading the passage of ObamaCare — and he could have ridden to an easy victory in 2012.

Now he'll have to get the American people to validate both ObamaCare and a growth rate that's less than half of what his predecessors generally achieved under similar circumstances.
• Anderson is a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Editorial: Green jobs revealed as fiscal black hole

Editorial: Green jobs revealed as fiscal black hole

The faddish obsession with "green jobs" is being revealed as a massive waste of taxpayer money.
Pipe dreams eventually are revealed for what they are – unrealistic, wishful thinking. It didn't take long for Spain's touted green-job revolution to be revealed as a financial disaster, siphoning taxpayer subsidies and destroying 2.2 real jobs for every green job created.

Domestic green-job pipe dreams similarly drain U.S. taxpayers' money into economic sink holes. The millions of so-called green jobs promised by President Barack Obama and other champions of taxpayer-subsidized energy schemes not only haven't materialized, many that did, already are disappearing.

It's truly a bad sign for the green-job revolution when failure becomes obvious even to acolytes.
"All this talk about the green jobs never materialized," liberal Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of Los Angeles recently complained.

The New York Times rubbed salt in the wound when it reported in July that the nonpartisan Brookings Institution found clean-technology jobs accounted for only 2 percent of jobs nationwide. "Federal and state efforts to stimulate creation of green jobs have largely failed, government records show," according to a Times article from a San Francisco news outlet.

Considering the president's pledge to create 5 million green jobs in 10 years and Gov. Jerry Brown's promised 500,000 clean-technology jobs by the end of the decade, it's worth noting the New York Times' conclusion: "[T]he results so far suggest such numbers are a pipe dream."

Lowlights of the saga include the recent bankruptcy of Evergreen Solar Inc. of Massachusetts, recipient of $58 million in direct subsidies and tax breaks, including federal "stimulus" funding, but which cut 800 jobs and is now $485 million in debt, with more job losses to come with the closure of a Michigan plant. Green Vehicles of Salinas received $500,000 in city subsidies, but closed last month without having produced anything of significance, Human Events magazine reported. The company had promised to create 70 jobs and pay back local taxpayers $700,000 a year in taxes.

Seattle got a $20 million federal grant to weatherize 2,000 homes and create 2,000 jobs. After a year, three homes had been retrofitted and 14 new jobs created, many of them administrative. That's a return on investment of about one job per $1.4 million. In Michigan, Fisher Coachworks is out of business two years after being touted as part of the state's green future, and despite millions in state subsidies to sell buses bought with federal tax money.

The U.S. Forest Service awarded $490,000 in stimulus funding to Urban Forestry Revitalization Project in Clark County, Nev., to plant trees and other greenery in urban neighborhoods. It created 1.7 jobs, one of them a full-time temporary job, and 11 short-term and temporary.
Overall, estimates the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Chris Horner, $30 billion in green handouts in the stimulus bill cost taxpayers about $475,000 per job.

Almost no amount of tax subsidy can make consumers purchase something they don't want. When they don't, the enterprise is doomed to fail. Rather than prop up such failures with tax money, governments at all levels should allow taxpayers to find productive uses for their money.

“Has Obama Quit Already?”--forget governing, just descend to ideological brawl

“Has Obama Quit Already?”

by John Hinderaker/Powerlineblog

That’s the question Ed Morrissey posts in The Week. Ed’s question is not whether Obama has quit running for re-election, but rather whether he has quit trying to govern. Ed points out that Obama did not even go through the motions of trying to get either Son of Stimulus or his most recent spending/debt package through Congress:
Obama has offered two major proposals this month in an attempt to change the narrative, to reverse the perception that his presidency is floundering with the poor economy. The first proposal deals with job creation, which is how most Americans gauge economic success. The president had not offered any new thoughts on job creation since the first stimulus package, instead issuing a series of predictions that massive job creation was just around the corner. …
The White House apparently forgot to consult with its own allies in the upper chamber when writing the rerun of the 2009 stimulus bill, only to discover to their embarrassment that it won’t pass the Senate. …
Instead of working with Republicans to craft a deficit-reduction plan that could pass Congress, Obama instead filled his with tax hikes that even his own party rejected in 2009 and 2010 in the effort to fund Obama’s signature health-care overhaul bill. …
Obama mailed in both proposals rather than engage in the hard work of governance. If Obama had any interest in actually passing his deficit-reduction plan, he would not have filled it with tax hikes that have floated around the Beltway for years — and which both Republicans and Democrats have rejected in the past. The jobs bill was even less creative than his approach to deficit reduction, cribbed from a failed and costly exercise in central economic control. Obama didn’t bother to put much effort into either because he has no intention of doing the hard work needed to accomplish actual deficit reduction or improve the job-creation climate. The president has more than a year to go before the next election, but Obama has stopped governing and has shifted entirely to campaign mode. This is what it looks like when a president quits.
I think that is a fair assessment. One can ask, too: if Obama is no longer interested in doing the work of being president, how determined can he be to get himself re-elected?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Obama Hits Bottom--don't ask him; he has a "plan to have a plan"

Obama Hits Bottom - The Editors - National Review Online

Pres. Barack Obama promised to have a plan to pay for his massive new stimulus bill by Monday. He broke that promise, as he has broken so many others, and remains in the “plan to have a plan” stage of his inscrutable meditations, having only made yet another unsubstantial speech, full of high sentiment and short on details. The president says he wants to ensure that the very wealthy do not pay lower effective tax rates than do the middle-class, and argues that families and businesses earning more than $250,000 in any given year should pay an additional $1,500,000,000,000.00 or so in taxes, but is mostly mum on how to get that done: “We’re not going to give the Congress a detailed proposal for how to meet that principle,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says. In other words: Don’t ask us! We’re just the president and the cabinet and the entire executive branch of the U.S. government!

President Obama keeps repeating the words “Pass This Bill” like a third-grader who has just mastered a new vocabulary word, but it is worth noting that, at the moment, there is only half a bill: the 155 pages of stimulus spending he calls the American Jobs Act. That second part — the part where this is all “paid for” — has not condensed from the vapor that surrounds the president. It’s just a speech, putting us once again in mind of the Congressional Budget Office’s declaration: “We don’t score speeches.”

So we have a statement of principles and a vague outline of a plan, which is enough to conclude that the principles are poisonous and the plan destructive.

Mr. Obama and his favorite campaign underwriter, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, have tried to bring in a bumper crop of political hay out of the fact that Mr. Buffett alleges that he pays taxes at a lower effective rate than does his secretary. There’s rather less to that than meets the eye: Mr. Buffett, the third-wealthiest man currently walking the earth, pays himself a salary of only $100,000 a year, and says his secretary earns around $60,000. (If his secretary has a spouse similarly employed, the couple may very well earn a combined salary higher than Mr. Buffett’s, as indeed do any number of police detectives and high-school principals.) Mr. Buffett pays no taxes on dividends accruing to the many shares of stock he holds in his company, Berkshire Hathaway, simply because the firm does not pay a dividend, while most of his personal wealth has been put into a trust. Each of those facts — the relatively low salary, the lack of dividend payments on Berkshire Hathaway shares, the trust — is part of a calculated strategy to avoid paying taxes. While we do begrudge Mr. Buffett his ridiculous moral posturing, we do not begrudge him the benefit of such allowances as the tax code affords: Mr. Buffett, after all, did not write the tax laws. And he shouldn’t start writing them now.

Very wealthy people such a Mr. Buffett tend to earn their money in one of three ways: as investors, as entrepreneurs, or as executives in large enterprises. In each case, salary is a relatively small part of total compensation: Rather than getting a regular paycheck, investors, entrepreneurs, and top executives most often are rewarded with an ownership stake in their firms. As they work to increase the value of the business, they enrich themselves as well. This is a desirable arrangement to the extent that it aligns the financial interests of a company’s management with those of its shareholders. Because Congress has for decades sought to increase the incentives for Americans to invest — investment being where new businesses, products, and jobs come from — we tax long-term capital gains at a lower rate than we tax regular income such as salaries and cash bonuses. This reflects both the fact that investors are risking their capital and the fact that much of the money that flows into such investments already has been taxed once — as household income in the case of Americans investing for their retirements, or as business income in the case of large and small firms expanding their operations and product lines with new investments.

President Obama proposes to stop taxing investment income at lower rates than salaries and other cash income, and to raise tax rates generally on American families earning $250,000 or more. His approach is a deeply foolish one. For one thing, it probably would not raise the revenue he claims it would. Consider the example of Mr. Buffett, who already has shown himself shrewd when it comes to minimizing his taxes. If he has made a $1 million investment that increases in value to $2 million, he does not need to realize his capital gain on the investment: If he simply holds the investment, he has a $2 million asset. If he realizes the capital gain, he has a good deal less than that: $2 million minus the tax of 30-odd percent President Obama contemplates imposing. A man with many millions or billions of dollars in wealth need realize relatively few capital investments: He can sit on that money for a very long time, and so can his children and grandchildren. Just as Mr. Buffett pays himself only $100,000 a year, a man with a $10 million portfolio can easily realize only $249,999.99 in annual capital gains over several years, rather than cashing in the whole thing at once, to avoid the punitive taxes the president desires. Neither President Obama nor any act of Congress can force an investor to realize a capital gain at any given time.

Worse, this tax hike would immediately devalue the investments of millions of American households, and would make investing in American firms, which already labor under the developed world’s second-highest corporate-tax rate, even less attractive. It would do so precisely at the time when we should be encouraging investment, which is the only real source of reliable long-term job growth.

While we believe that a tax increase is bad medicine for a country on the cusp of a double-dip recession and suffering from the weakest growth and worst job market in modern history, practically all parties — Republicans and Democrats, supply-side conservatives and their tormenters at the Brookings Institution — agree that a deep and fundamental reorganization of the U.S. tax code is highly desirable, and there are several excellent proposals for doing so. President Obama’s preference for simply jacking up tax rates on families earning $250,000 and more is crude and childish in comparison with the proposals of thoughtful Democrats, to say nothing of those offered by more sensible conservatives.
Beyond his centerpiece tax hike, the president has packed his proposal with a mess of phony savings. Amusingly, the president has included “savings” from forgone Iraq and Afghanistan spending that was never going to happen in the first place — and then counted interest that was never going to be paid on the money that was never going to be borrowed for the spending that was never going to take place. Meanwhile, the main drivers of deficits going forward — Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — are almost entirely sheltered. That leaves us with a real tax increase to balance fictitious spending cuts.

It seems like ages ago that the charming young presidential candidate, suffering because of his association with the racist crackpot in whose church he worshiped for decades, responded with incredible chutzpah, delivering a sermon on racism to the American electorate. Now, after having forced through trillions upon trillions of dollars in new spending on failed stimulus programs, a gigantic new health-care entitlement, and ineffective tax-break measures for favored political constituencies, the president has the gall to denounce the “profligate spending in Washington.” Never mind that he’s been signing the bills. Even the hated “Bush tax cuts” — the tax rates that have been the law of the land for a decade, since Obama was an obscure state legislator — were extended by Obama’s own hand. It is not as though he didn’t have the authority to veto them if he thought them bad policy; it was only the courage he lacked. To that deficit add one of wisdom, or even elementary economic literacy, and an annual U.S. budget deficit continuing to top the $1 trillion mark for the foreseeable future — such is the lesson of Monday’s speech and the proposal proceeding from it. We did not have high hopes for Barack Obama as an economic thinker, but he continues to underperform our lowest expectations.

Where’s the Heat? It’s Hiding!

Where’s the Heat? It’s Hiding!

by John Hinderaker in Climate

Global warming alarmists have long been embarrassed by the fact that the Earth isn’t heating up to the extent that their models predict (assuming that it is heating up at all). In the world of science, when empirical observation contradicts a theory, the theory is deemed to be refuted. But global warming alarmism exists in the world of religion, so when empirical observation contradicts the theory, its proponents merely tinker with the theory so as to make it harder to falsify. A case in point is this AP story, which suggests that the “missing” heat may be hiding–their word, not mine–where we can’t find it:
The mystery of Earth’s missing heat may have been solved: it could lurk deep in oceans, temporarily masking the climate-warming effects of greenhouse gas emissions, researchers reported on Sunday.
Climate scientists have long wondered where this so-called missing heat was going, especially over the last decade, when greenhouse emissions kept increasing but world air temperatures did not rise correspondingly. …
The world temperature should have risen more than it did, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research reckoned.
They knew greenhouse gas emissions were rising during the decade and satellites showed there was a growing gap between how much sunlight was coming in and how much radiation was going out. Some heat was coming to Earth but not leaving, and yet temperatures were not going up as much as projected.
So where did the missing heat go?
Computer simulations suggest most of it was trapped in layers of oceans deeper than 1,000 feet during periods like the last decade when air temperatures failed to warm as much as they might have.
Note that there is zero evidence that the “missing” heat is hiding deep in the oceans; this is simply a hypothesis that has been developed by tweaking those trusty computer programs, which will say whatever the alarmists who create them want them to say.
The most significant point in the AP story is this one, which it reports as fact:
…satellites showed there was a growing gap between how much sunlight was coming in and how much radiation was going out.
Actually, this statement is deeply controversial, as we noted here:
NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth’s atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. …
The new NASA Terra satellite data are consistent with long-term NOAA and NASA data indicating atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds are not increasing in the manner predicted by alarmist computer models. The Terra satellite data also support data collected by NASA’s ERBS satellite showing far more longwave radiation (and thus, heat) escaped into space between 1985 and 1999 than alarmist computer models had predicted. Together, the NASA ERBS and Terra satellite data show that for 25 years and counting, carbon dioxide emissions have directly and indirectly trapped far less heat than alarmist computer models have predicted.
So, on one hand we have empirical data showing that the alarmists’ computer models are wrong. On the other hand, we have a hypothesis generated by those same models for which there is zero observational support and which is conveniently difficult, if not impossible, to verify. Which side does the press call “science?” We all know the answer to that one.