Archive for Barack Herbert Hoover Obama

Number 32 With a Bullet

To the head:

On Monday the Tax Foundation, which manages the widely followed State Business Tax Climate Index, will launch a new global benchmark, the International Tax Competitiveness Index. According to the foundation, the new index measures “the extent to which a country’s tax system adheres to two important principles of tax policy: competitiveness and neutrality.”

A competitive tax code is one that limits the taxation of businesses and investment. Since capital is mobile and businesses can choose where to invest, tax rates that are too high “drive investment elsewhere, leading to slower economic growth,” as the Tax Foundation puts it.

The index takes into account more than 40 tax policy variables. And the inaugural ranking puts the U.S. at 32nd out of 34 industrialized countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

One small correction: the authors of the study list Slovenia and Slovakia separately when everyone knows they’re the same thing. And is there really a Switzerland and a Sweden? Someone should clean that up.

Aside from that, however:

Any day now the White House and Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) will attempt to raise taxes on business, while making the U.S. tax code even more complex. The Obama and Schumer plans to punish businesses for moving their legal domicile overseas will arrive even as a new international ranking shows that the U.S. tax burden on business is close to the worst in the industrialized world. Way to go, Washington.

With the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate at over 39% including state levies, plus a rare demand that money earned overseas should be taxed as if it were earned domestically, the U.S. is almost in a class by itself. It ranks just behind Spain and Italy, of all economic humiliations. America did beat Portugal and France, which is currently run by an avowed socialist.

The new ranking is especially timely coming amid the campaign led by Messrs. Obama and Schumer to punish companies that move their legal domicile overseas to be able to reinvest future profits in the U.S. without paying the punitive American tax rate. If they succeed, the U.S. could fall to dead last on next year’s ranking. Now there’s a second-term legacy project for the President.

And people wonder why Recovery Summer V has been no more successful than Recover Summers I-IV. (People wonder, but the media seem not to.)

But get a load of this remedy. Are you sitting down?

Rather than erecting an iron tax curtain that keeps U.S. companies from escaping, the White House and Congress should enact reform that invites more businesses to stay or move to the U.S.

OMG! You are one bad-ass newspaper, WSJ. Next you’ll be arguing for a cut in the capital gains tax rate:

A rising tide lifts all boats, but Obama warned us that the tide would stop rising if he were elected president. One promise he kept.

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Out, the 99%; In, the 35.4%

Nice lack of work, if you can get it:

109,631,000 Americans lived in households that received benefits from one or more federally funded “means-tested programs” — also known as welfare — as of the fourth quarter of 2012, according to data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau has not yet reported how many were on welfare in 2013 or the first two quarters of 2014.

But the 109,631,000 living in households taking federal welfare benefits as of the end of 2012, according to the Census Bureau, equaled 35.4 percent of all 309,467,000 people living in the United States at that time.

Oh, and by way of comparison:

In 2012, according to the Census Bureau, there were 103,087,000 full-time year-round workers in the United States (including 16,606,000 full-time year-round government workers). Thus, the welfare-takers outnumbered full-time year-round workers by 6,544,000.

Another point of comparison:

In the fourth quarter of 2008, when President Obama was elected, there were 96,197,000 people living in households taking benefits from one or more federal welfare programs. After four years, by the fourth quarter of 2012, that had grown by 13,434,000.

Let’s do a little cipherin’ as Jethro used to say on the Beverly Hillbillies. Obama took office during the worst recession in recent memory, but not an overly long one: the economy started growing again in early-to-mid 2009. Even so, the welfare rolls swelled by more than the population of Illinois (or the nation of Chad). Meanwhile, more people receive welfare than pay for it—by six-and-a-half million.

And if one includes all social spending (SocSec, Medicare), but excludes veteran benefits, nearly half the country (48.5%) receives a check from the gummint every month. Hard to win elections on the motto of limited government against that demographic.

PS: The economy has continued to grow—if you can call it that—since the end of 2012. How many of you think people have left welfare and gone back to work over the last year and a half? Me neither.

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Lemons for Lunkheads

Like so many Democrat schemes, it seemed like a bad idea at the time:

The government’s “Cash for Clunkers” program – pitched as a plan to jump-start U.S. auto sales and clean up the environment by getting gas-guzzling vehicles off the road — may have been a clunker itself, according to a new economic study.

Researchers at Texas A&M, in a recently released report, measured the impact of Cash for Clunkers on sales and found the program actually decreased industry revenue by $3 billion over a nine-to-11-month period.

“Strikingly, we find that Cash for Clunkers actually reduced overall spending on new vehicles,” the researchers reported, noting households “tended to purchase less expensive and smaller vehicles such as the Toyota Corolla, which was the most popular new vehicle purchased under the program.”

They found buyers who participated “spent an average of $4,600 less on a new vehicle than they otherwise would have.”

During the two months of the program, the frequency of purchasing a new vehicle was around 50 percent higher for those who qualified for the program compared with those who did not. But after the program ended, the researchers found, car-buying habits returned to normal.

It should be known as Twenties for Toyota from now on, though I have to admit that the title of the actual study, Cash for Corollas, is better than mine.

I glanced through the report, and I found this intriguing footnote:

We focus only on identifying the stimulus impact for the U.S. auto industry. Though we believe that this policy likely had important consequences for the broader U.S. economy, we do not attempt to quantify the impact of the program on overall economic growth.

Government intervention always drags down economic performance, even when (especially when) it is intended as a “stimulus”. If only liberals would get that through their thick skulls.

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Debt Man Walking

Happy Birthday, President Obama!

Only this time, it’s the nation that says “You shouldn’t have.”

The total federal debt of the U.S. government has now increased more than $7 trillion while Barack Obama has been president.

That is more than the debt increased under all U.S. presidents from George Washington through Bill Clinton combined.

The total federal debt first passed $7 trillion on Jan. 15, 2004, after President George W. Bush had been in office almost three years.

When President Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009, the total federal debt was $10,626,877,048,913.08. As of the close of business on July 30, 2014, it had risen to $17,618,599,653,160.19–up $6,991,722,604,247.11 from Obama’s first inauguration day.

By the close of business on July 31, 2014, it had risen to $17,687,136,723,410.59—up $7,060,259,674,497.51 since Obama first inauguration day.

Seven trillion dollars in five and a half years: as much debt as had accumulated in 211 years and 63 wars.

I am speechless.

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“It’s Essentially Unchanged!”™

It’s that time again: time for the weak, tepid cup of tea masquerading as the US economy.

Both the unemployment rate (6.2 percent) and the number of unemployed persons (9.7 million) changed little in July. [Changed little, but changed for the worse.]

[T]he unemployment rate for adult women increased to 5.7 percent and the rate for blacks edged up to 11.4 percent in July, following declines for both groups in the prior month. The rates for adult men (5.7 percent), teenagers (20.2 percent), whites (5.3 percent), and Hispanics (7.8 percent) showed little or no change in July. The jobless rate for Asians was 4.5 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 3.2 million in July. These individuals accounted for 32.9 percent of the unemployed.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers), at 7.5 million, was unchanged in July. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

The civilian labor force participation rate, at 62.9 percent, changed little in July. The participation rate has been essentially unchanged since April. The employment-population ratio, at 59.0 percent, was unchanged over the month….

You all know what a fan I am of the labor force participation rate. Nothing so clearly demonstrates the economic cataract of job loss under Obama:

He “inherited” a tough economy, but one that had routinely turned in a 66% participation rate. Now, he dreams of getting back to 63%. Oh, and note that the “recovery” [chortle] began in June 2009, just as the rate plummeted down a triple black diamond slope. Five years of such recovery and we’re barely “little changed”, “changed little”, “unchanged”, or “essentially unchanged”.

And I thought the jobs report was supposed to be good news.

Guess not:

The Dow fell 70 points Friday on what turned out to be a volatile day of trading.

The blue chip index finished the week lower and is now down for the year following Thursday’s 317-point drop.

Employers added 209,000 jobs in July. That was well shy of the 288,000 jobs that were created in June and below the gain of 230,000 jobs predicted by economists polled by CNNMoney.

The weaker-than-expected jobs report could ease fears on Wall Street that the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates early next year.

The government said the unemployment rate ticked up to 6.2% from 6.1%.

“The employment data was not too hot, not too cold. It was just about right…

Thanks, Goldilocks. I said at the top the economy was tepid tea, but I stand corrected. It’s porridge.

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United States of Indebtedness

Just be glad you don’t live in Nevada:

Americans have a debt problem.

An estimated 1 in 3 adults with a credit history — or 77 million people — are so far behind on some of their debt payments that their account has been put “in collections.”

That’s a key finding from a new Urban Institute study.

It examined non-mortgage debt, including credit card bills, car loans, medical bills, child support payments and even parking tickets.

The debt in collections ranged from as little as $25 to a whopping $125,000. But the average amount owed was $5,200.

Geographically, no area of the country is untouched.

Among the states, Nevada had the highest percentage of residents with debt in collections — 47% – as well as the highest average amount owed – $7,198. That was helped in part by the Las Vegas metro area, where 49% of residents had debt in collections.

In any of those cases, however, the cost to the consumer is high and long-lasting.

“[It] can harm credit scores, which can tip employers’ hiring decisions, restrict access to mortgages, and even increase insurance costs,” said Caroline Ratcliffe, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute.

Of course, Aggie and I are the only ones in the nation who think this is a direct result of President Obama’s policies. This recovery-that-wasn’t, now five years old, has led to prosperity-that-isn’t and jobs-that-aren’t. You heard all about this in the Bush years, when (until 2008) there really were prosperity and jobs; nothing now.

Rather, if this story gets any traction (it won’t), you’ll see the regime’s puppets and jesters try to make the case that Obama needs more of his failed policies. The economy will never be fully healed, despite what the unemployment numbers say, until Obama leaves office. He’s that damaging.

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Black Man Keeping the Young Down

No, that’s not dyslexia or a typo:

In President Obama’s speeches this year, a steady theme has been creating jobs and economic opportunity for Americans. In his State of the Union address in January he said that “what I believe unites the people of this nation . . . is the simple, profound belief in opportunity for all—the notion that if you work hard and take responsibility, you can get ahead.” And in his weekly address on Saturday, he repeated his strong appeal to young people: “As long as I hold this office, I’ll keep fighting to give more young people the chance to earn their own piece of the American Dream.”

Yet during the more than five years Mr. Obama has been in office, young people have been especially hard-hit by the slow and virtually jobless recovery. Given the destructive effect this has on individual initiative and the prospects of a productive and rewarding working life, the continuing struggle of young Americans to find jobs, start building families and contribute to society is no longer simply a matter of politics or policy. On a deeply human level, it’s profoundly sad.

Yeah, but parents’ basements have never been put to more use! Sorry, out of place.

Where are the entry-level jobs?

Five years of 2% average yearly GDP growth simply doesn’t produce enough jobs to absorb the natural increase in the labor force, and over the past eight quarters GDP growth has averaged only 1.7%. Between May 2008 and May 2014, BLS data show that the employable population increased by 14,217,000 while the number of people employed actually decreased by 94,000 and the number of people unemployed increased by 1,404,000. It remains a bad time for young people to be looking for jobs.

We noted the same point yesterday: the media may herald the recovery to the number of jobs pre-recession, but we’re fourteen million people bigger than we were then. Where are their jobs?

Nonetheless, various states and municipalities have increased their minimum wage, thereby increasing the cost of employing inexperienced workers. Minimum-wage jobs have always been a gateway to better opportunities. In making hiring decisions, businesses must weigh the quality and value of work that entry-level employees produce against the cost of employing them. For many businesses in high-minimum-wage states or municipalities—Seattle leads the list, having approved a move to a $15 minimum wage—that trade-off is no longer working.

The bottom line on labor: Make something less expensive and businesses will use more of it. Make something more expensive and businesses will use less of it. The Congressional Budget Office has forecast a loss of 500,000 jobs should the president’s proposal to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour become law.

The CBO also forecast that this increase would lift a number of people who already have jobs above the poverty threshold. For 500,000 unemployed people, however, that’s 500,000 opportunities American businesses will never create.

Don’t get this guy started on ObamaCare. Talk about a job killer. In fact, looking at Obama’s policies, you’d almost think he was killing the job market on purpose. Perhaps to capture a permanent class of dependents. He couldn’t be doing a better job (fortunate as he is—and unfortunate for us—to have one).

I think more than a few young people would be happier to graze on ol’ Obama’s farm than work like this:

I’m not speaking primarily as a business CEO. My company will adjust to new laws. I’m speaking as someone from a working-class family. I started work scooping ice cream for the minimum wage at Baskin-Robbins. To put myself through college and law school while supporting my family, I cut lawns, painted houses and busted concrete with a jackhammer. I know how important these jobs are. For one thing, they taught me—as no lectures from my parents ever could—that I needed a good education so I wouldn’t have to settle for low-paying work the rest of my life. Too many young people today are being deprived of even that basic lesson.

For which they give great thanks!

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Party Like It’s 2008!

We’ve “recovered” all the jobs lost in the “Great Recession”! Hooray!!

The U.S. economy has regained all of the jobs lost during the Great Recession. The economy added 217,000 jobs were added in May, with the unemployment rate holding steady at 6.3%. The recovery has been the slowest in U.S. history and most of the new jobs are not paying as much as the jobs that were lost. Still, unemployment in America is at its lowest level since September 2008.

So what if the population has grown by 14,000,000 people in the interim? Most of them are still in short pants. We’ve essentially added the combined population of Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, and Alaska (Obama’s 57 states now makes sense!)—but they’re all on welfare. Let’s celebrate!

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Shove-It-Ready Jobs

How ’bout them employment numbers, huh?

What about ‘em?

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 217,000 in May, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

The number of unemployed persons was unchanged in May at 9.8 million.

Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons declined by 1.2 percentage points and 1.9 million, respectively. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (5.9 percent), adult women (5.7 percent), teenagers (19.2 percent), whites (5.4 percent), blacks (11.5 percent), and Hispanics (7.7 percent) showed little or no change in May. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.3 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 3.4 million in May.

The civilian labor force participation rate was unchanged in May, at 62.8 percent. The participation rate has shown no clear trend since this past October but is down by 0.6 percentage point over the year. The employment-population ratio, at 58.9 percent, was also unchanged in May and has changed little over the year. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers), at 7.3 million, changed little in May. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In May, 2.1 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier.

Among the marginally attached, there were 697,000 discouraged workers in May, little different from a year earlier.

If there’s one thing government can do, it is to devise myriad ways to say the economy sucks: unchanged, changed little, little changed, little different.

I’ll tell you one number that changed significantly last month: unemployment among black men. That number jumped from 10.8% to 11.5% in May. Yes We Can (Not Find a Job).

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Who Betrayed the Obamabots?

They tweet, they Skype, they text (heck, they even sext)—but they don’t own a home.

Just 36% of Americans under the age of 35 own a home, according to the Census Bureau. That’s down from 42% in 2007 and the lowest level since 1982, when the agency began tracking homeownership by age.

It’s not all their fault.

They want a home, they say, but…

But student loan debt, tight lending standards and stiff competition have made it next to impossible for many of these younger Americans to make the leap.

“When we surveyed Millennials they cited several barriers to homeownership, especially access to financing,” said Steve Deggendorf, a senior director for Fannie Mae.

Many Millennials simply can’t come up with the hefty 20% down payments. Others don’t have good enough credit to qualify for loans.

Student loan debt is one barrier. That sounds like they have themselves to blame (same goes for bad credit). No one forces those loans on you. There are cheaper education options that leave you ready to start your career with little or no debt to drag you down or force you into a job you hate. But no, the allure of a fancy degree that leaves you unemployable and a bad credit risk was too much. That makes for two left-wing institutions—academia and Millennials themselves—responsible for their “homelessness”.

How about the economy, the economy almost five full years into “recovery”? The economy that can’t create well-paying, full-time jobs? The economy that leaves graduates and post-graduates asking if you want your double decaf with cream, milk, low-fat, or skim? The economy from which more people are retiring and going on disability than are finding work? Recovery Summer is a concept so old it’s new again, like sideburns and bell-bottoms. (If only the GDP hadn’t shrunk last quarter.)

The facts of life are conservative, my hipster, metrosexual, pajama-clad friends, just like home-ownership. You can’t expect to live in a tent in an Occupy encampment one week and buy a center-entry Colonial the next. You can’t be the ones you were waiting for and expect anyone to open the door for you when you get there. You can’t build a life or a home on the foundation of Hope and Change.

By the way, the rent is overdue.

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We’re Number Two!

President Obama’s Greatest Achievement:

China is set to overtake the U.S. as the world’s number one economy, while India has jumped into third place ahead of Japan, according to a new study from the world’s leading statistical agencies.

The 2011 International Comparison Program (ICP), which involves the World Bank, assesses economies based on purchasing power parity (PPP), an estimate of the real living costs. The results revealed on Wednesday paint a new and different picture of the global economy compared with the last update in 2005.

The research puts China’s gross domestic product (GDP) at 87 percent of the U.S. in 2011 and says the Chinese and Indian economies have more than doubled relative to that of the U.S. In the 2005 study, the ICP believed China’s economy was less than half the size of the U.S., at 43 percent.

China’s economy grew an annual 7.4 percent in the first quarter of this year, slowing from a 7.7 percent increase in the final quarter of 2013. Still, its economic growth continues to outpace that of developed world economies.

They grew at only 7.4%? Eat our dust, China! Zero-point-one percent and going strong!

Investors know the Rule of 72, which is a handy way of estimating (very accurately) how quickly an investment will grow. Divide the interest rate into 72 and the answer is the time it will take for the the investment to double. For example, $100 invested at 4% will yield $200 in 18 years (72/4 = 18). At China’s average growth (7.whatever), their economy doubles every decade, easily. At 0.1%, ours takes 720 years.

Pocahontas’s wampum would still have 60% purchasing power in today’s economy. (As long as she pays her fair share.)

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It’s Lackluster!™

President Obama is an expert at declaring victory and going home. Never mind the blood spilling through the streets of Kabul and Baghdad and Damascus, our work there is done. Domestically, he has officially declared the debate over ObamaCare at an end.

Can we declare victory in the War on Poverty and go home?

McDowell County, the poorest in West Virginia, has been emblematic of entrenched American poverty for more than a half-century. John F. Kennedy campaigned here in 1960 and was so appalled that he promised to send help if elected president. His first executive order created the modern food stamp program, whose first recipients were McDowell County residents. When President Lyndon B. Johnson declared “unconditional war on poverty” in 1964, it was the squalor of Appalachia he had in mind. The federal programs that followed — Medicare, Medicaid, free school lunches and others — lifted tens of thousands above a subsistence standard of living.

But a half-century later, with the poverty rate again on the rise, hardship seems merely to have taken on a new face in McDowell County. The economy is declining along with the coal industry, towns are hollowed out as people flee, and communities are scarred by family dissolution, prescription drug abuse and a high rate of imprisonment.

Fifty years after the war on poverty began, its anniversary is being observed with academic conferences and ideological sparring — often focused, explicitly or implicitly, on the “culture” of poor urban residents. Almost forgotten is how many ways poverty plays out in America, and how much long-term poverty is a rural problem.

Of the 353 most persistently poor counties in the United States — defined by Washington as having had a poverty rate above 20 percent in each of the past three decades — 85 percent are rural. They are clustered in distinct regions: Indian reservations in the West; Hispanic communities in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas; a band across the Deep South and along the Mississippi Delta with a majority black population; and Appalachia, largely white, which has supplied some of America’s iconic imagery of rural poverty since the Depression-era photos of Walker Evans.

McDowell County is in some ways a place truly left behind, from which the educated few have fled, leaving almost no shreds of prosperity. But in a nation with more than 46 million people living below the poverty line — 15 percent of the population — it is also a sobering reminder of how much remains broken, in drearily familiar ways and utterly unexpected ones, 50 years on.

God, how depressing.

You ain’t read nothing yet:

Fifty years ago today [January 8, 2014], President Lyndon Johnson delivered his first State of the Union address, promising an “unconditional war on poverty in America.” Looking at the wreckage since, it’s not hard to conclude that poverty won.

If we are losing the War on Poverty, it certainly isn’t for lack of effort.

In 2012, the federal government spent $668 billion to fund 126 separate anti-poverty programs. State and local governments kicked in another $284 billion, bringing total anti-poverty spending to nearly $1 trillion. That amounts to $20,610 for every poor person in America, or $61,830 per poor family of three.

Spending on the major anti-poverty programs increased in 2013, pushing the total even higher.

Over, the last 50 years, the government spent more than $16 trillion to fight poverty.

Yet today, 15 percent of Americans still live in poverty. That’s scarcely better than the 19 percent living in poverty at the time of Johnson’s speech. Nearly 22 percent of children live in poverty today. In 1964, it was 23 percent.

Why?

The vast majority of current programs are focused on making poverty more comfortable – giving poor people more food, better shelter, health care, etc. – rather than giving people the tools that will help them escape poverty. As a result, we have been successful in reducing the worst privations of poverty. Few Americans live with out the basic necessities of life, yet neither do they rise out of poverty. Moreover, their children are also likely to be poor.

Hard to argue with the facts.

Such as:

The National Bureau of Economic Research, the semiofficial arbiter of business cycles, judges that the U.S. economy began expanding again in June 2009, just over 58 months ago. That means the current stretch of growth, in terms of duration, is poised to drift past the average for post-World War II recoveries.

Yet after almost five years, the recovery is proving to be one of the most lackluster in modern times. The nation’s 6.7% jobless rate is the highest on record at this stage of recent expansions. Gross domestic product has grown 1.8% a year on average since the recession, half the pace of the previous three expansions.

But there is one flicker of good news:

“Perhaps the very fact we’ve been growing slower means we haven’t burnt out all the fuel,” said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at J.P. Morgan Chase. “By a lot of metrics, the expansion still has quite a bit of room to run.”

Federal Reserve officials forecast growth at least through 2016, which would make the expansion the fourth longest since the Civil War, according to NBER.

Put simply, a sucky recovery is a long recovery, perhaps even the longest. Congratulations Obama, you’re the world’s tallest dwarf.

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