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A Road Paved With Good Intentions

by Kenneth BloomquistWeak Economy

Standing before an audience of college students, President Obama remarked that “As Americans, we can and should be proud of the progress that our country has made over these past six years. This progress has been hard, but it has been steady and it has been real. And it’s the result of the American people’s drive and their determination and their resilience, and it’s also the result of sound decisions made by my administration.” These remarks sound more defensive than confident. The President asserted that Americans should feel proud of the modest economic gains his administration frequently cites, but given that over half of Americans still consider the economy to be meandering through a recession it seems they have overwhelmingly rejected his outlook and chosen to remain humble instead.

Perhaps they’re being overly pessimistic? In the President’s defense, the metrics commonly used to measure the duration of recessions do indeed place the end of the Great Recession in 2009. Since then, GDP has risen slowly, but steadily, at an adjusted rate of just over 2% per year. The unemployment rate has fallen from its 2009 high of just under 10% to just under 6%, and new jobs are being created at a pace which is improving with time. And yet despite the graphs and charts, Americans refuse to be optimistic no matter how often they are told to be. The economy as described in press conferences doesn’t seem to be same one which most Americans live and work in, where family and friends remain unemployed or underpaid, where they have been passed over for raises, and where there just isn’t enough income leftover to save. Americans may not all have advanced economics degrees, but they are intuitively aware when times are good and when times are bad, and they remain skeptical even when bombarded by a steady stream of rose-tinted statistics.  [Read more...]

The ‘Wage Gap’ Myth That Won’t Die

You have to ignore many variables to think women are paid less than men. California is happy to try.

by Sarah Ketterer     •     Wall Street Journal

Stack of MoneyWhen it comes to economically foolish laws, California is second to none. A good example is the California Fair Pay Act, which Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign in coming days.

This bill, which the California senate unanimously passed in August, is a state version of the Paycheck Fairness Act that the U.S. Congress rejected in 2014. Like its national counterpart, it is an aggressive attempt to eradicate a wage gap between men and women that is allegedly due to discrimination in the workplace. But this wage gap is illusory, and the legislation will have unintended consequences, including for women.

The Fair Pay Act will prohibit employers from paying men and women different wages for “substantially similar work.” At first glance, this prohibition might appear reasonable: Government data for 2014 show that women in California earn, on average, 84 cents for every dollar earned by men. (Nationally, women earn about 79 cents for every dollar earned by men.) [Read more...]

Jobs Report: Disappointment Is Routine With This Administration

by Investor’s Business Daily

joblessFriday’s jobs report has us feeling like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day”: waking up morning after morning to the radio blaring Sonny and Cher’s “I’ve Got You Babe.”

We’ve lived through this over and over during the Obama presidency. Every time we see a hopeful sign that the economy’s shifting into a higher gear (a bullish 3.9% GDP growth in the second quarter, for example, after a near-recessionary 0.6% in the first), hiring slips back again into its slow-growth ditch.

No wonder voters are seething with anger. [Read more...]

Of Course They’re Fed Up

The left blames economic woes on everything except its hero president.

by Stephen Moore     •     Weekly Standard

Two weekends ago, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City held its annual monetary conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The left flew in hundreds of protesters donning green T-shirts that demanded “Higher Wages for America” and chanting, “We’re Fed Up.” The crowd was an assortment of college kids on their summer break, disgruntled middle-aged teachers, senior citizens, and blue-collar union members. Think Occupy Wall Street.

I attended the Jackson Hole conference and chatted with protesters who came in from places as distant as New York and North Carolina and California. What was their beef? Two black men who appeared to be in their seventies explained the agenda: “We demand higher wages.” “We want an increase in the minimum wage.” “The Fed is intentionally holding down pay.” “Corrupt corporations have all the power.” “Unions need to be returned to power.” A social worker from Kansas City almost sobbingly told me of the plight of the poor who she cares for in her job, of the “women and minorities [who] are being left behind,” as she made an abstract plea for “social justice.”

These were generally nice, sincere, and well-meaning people. They are hyper-concerned about the direction America is headed. They seemed to be earnestly parroting what the union organizers had drilled into them. They have no confidence in the decisions made by arrogant and elitist central bankers, and they are convinced that Republicans care only about the wealthy.

I would guess that 98 percent of them voted for Barack Obama joyfully and twice. What I encountered wasn’t so much leftist rage—that only happens when Republicans are in power—but leftist despondency. They reminded me of the bumper sticker: “How’s that Hope and Change thing working out for you?”

Many of these folks also sounded the themes of Trump supporters and Tea Partiers. At last, we have a consensus growing in this country on the left and the right—and presumably among many people in between. The wheels have come off. It is time to make America great again and rebuild our middle class.

So how should conservatives and Republicans respond to this pervasive despondency and fear? First, many of the left’s complaints about the economy are regrettably true. Yes, wages are stagnant. Yes, the rich are getting richer and poor poorer. Yes poverty is a massive problem in America. Yes, college costs way too much. Yes, too many neighborhoods in cities like Baltimore are blighted pockets of crime, joblessness, godawful schools, and hopelessness. Yes, of course, black lives matter. Yes, race relations have taken a leap backward.

But second, all of this has happened under the most liberal president since Woodrow Wilson. That is the unavoidable truth the left keeps trying to sidestep. Obama is trying to spin that things have gotten much better on his watch, while his own voters are saying they are getting worse. The latest Census Bureau income data show that since January 2009, the median household income has dropped by more than $1,500, and the biggest percentage declines have been among single women, blacks, Hispanics, and workers under the age of 30—i.e., the heart of the Obama coalition. People aren’t just imagining all of this. Where’s the recovery?

During this era of malaise, the Fed has held interest rates at zero for seven straight years, and yet Washington and Wall Street are in full agreement that the only way out is heavier doses of this crack cocaine of easy money. At the Fed meeting I met central bankers and their gaggle of Keynesian economists who for the first time worryingly and grudgingly admitted that their mathematical models about how to get to full employment have gone haywire and may not be reliable. Ya think?

Meanwhile, Barack Obama and the left’s biggest puppeteer/financial supporter, Tom Steyer, the billionaire green giant, keep telling America that the “moral crisis of our time” is climate change. That’s easy for a billionaire to say. Too bad no one in the middle class agrees. All that progressives want to talk about is global warming, and yet every poll shows that out of the top 20 issues, Americans rank climate change close to the last among things they are concerned about. The moral crisis of our time is an economy that has left American workers without a pay increase for nearly 15 years.

The left’s reflexive answer to that is to raise the minimum wage. But only about 4 percent of Americans earn the minimum wage and most of them are teenagers and young people who aren’t supporting a family. That there are a growing number of heads of households working at Burger King tells us a lot more about the flimsiness of the Obama economy than it does about the stinginess of fast food franchise owners. In any case, what will a minimum wage hike do for the other 96 percent except make a hamburger and fries more expensive?

Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders, along with the unions, also want hundreds of billions more for “shovel-ready” infrastructure spending financed by even more debt added to the $7 trillion Obama has already borrowed. Japan has done that for 20 years and has been in what may be the industrial world’s longest recession, while Beijing’s central planners have built Potemkin villages the size of Chicago with empty shopping malls and vacant skyscraper office buildings. Government-directed investment means mal-investment, as debacles like Solyndra and California’s absurd $70 billion high-speed rail project confirm.

In other words, the left doesn’t have many arrows left in its quiver to aim at slow growth. We’ve had stimulus public works plans, $7 trillion of new debt, Obamacare, tax increases on the rich, three minimum wage hikes, Dodd-Frank, and bailouts, and all we got was an economy that looks like Cleveland.

The only excuse the left can muster is the sorry refrain of “secular stagnation.” As Obama’s first chief economist, Larry Summers, explains things: Two percent growth is about the best we can do in this 21st-century world economy. Now he tells us. When Jeb Bush and other Republicans call for 4 percent growth, the best White House economist Jason Furman can muster in reply is that “no serious economist” believes this is possible. These are people who drank their own Kool-Aid and can’t conceive of anything else working.

The left has gotten very good at telling the American people what they can’t do. They can’t stop illegal immigration; they can’t grow the economy; they can’t get people off welfare; they can’t come within a mile of balancing the budget; they can’t get an Obamacare website to work. Oh, but they can stop the rise of the oceans.

This “can’t do” attitude is pervasive in Washington and only breeds voter cynicism. It explains the rise of Trumpism. Even some country club types in the GOP join the left in sneering at Donald Trump for “offering simple solutions to complex problems.” I fervently disagree with much of what Trump proposes, but most of the economy fixes aren’t complicated. They are fairly obvious: cut tax rates, restore a sound and stable dollar, promote an America-first energy strategy, and roll back Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and EPA regulations that are strangling American industries. That agenda could be enacted in less than 100 days, and, yes, it would trigger 4 percent-plus growth and a rise in what Reagan used to call “real take-home pay.”

Back in 2010 Vice President Joe Biden famously promised the country a “summer of recovery.” We’ve just had the seventh Obama summer without a recovery to speak of. No one in Washington or out in posh Jackson Hole seems to have a clue what to do. That is why voters are nervous and fed up. Now progressives can only resort to the excuse used by then-New York mayor David Dinkins during his reelection campaign: “I’m doing the best I can.” Voters believed him, and he got trounced.

Stephen Moore is a Fox News economics contributor and a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

U.S. drops to 16th on ‘economic freedom’ list, behind Canada, Chile

By PAUL BEDARD     •     Washington Examiner

The United States, ranked second in worldwide economic freedom as recently as 2000, has plummeted to 16th, according to a new report of world economies.

The Fraser Institute’s annual report, Economic Freedom of the World, showed that the country’s drop started in 2010, the second year of the Obama administration.

The world-recognized report showed that the U.S. fell in several areas, including legal and property rights and regulation. [Read more...]

Look Who’s Bashing Obama’s Economy Now

Investor’s Business Daily

obamanomics2016: Presidential candidates, both announced and prospective, used Labor Day to fire off some pretty harsh criticisms of President Obama’s economy. That’s not news. What is news is who was doing the firing.

Just listen to some of the heated rhetoric about the results that seven long years of Obamanomics have produced:

“I am hot. I am mad, I am angry.”

“There is something profoundly wrong when … the average American is working longer hours for lower wages and we have shamefully the highest rate of child poverty of any major country on earth.” [Read more...]

Report: Low-Income Entitlements Make Recipients Less Likely to Work

GAO finds Medicaid and housing assistance may cause lower labor force participation

by Ali Meyer     •     Washington Free Beacon

GAO Government Accountability OfficeGovernment entitlement programs such as Medicaid and housing assistance may make their beneficiaries less likely to work, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

According to the GAO, an increase in income could result in a loss of Medicaid benefits for an individual and thus cause them to be less likely to pursue employment.

The GAO found the same result when looking at the housing assistance program, especially in Chicago. GAO found that the Section 8 program had a negative effect on labor force participation and earnings. [Read more...]

The NLRB’s Power Grab

By The Editors     •     National Review

Why should a union representing workers who are not employees of McDonald’s be empowered to squeeze concessions out of McDonald’s? Why did Willie Sutton rob banks?

In a party-line decision, the Democrat-dominated National Labor Relations Board has decided that employees of contractors can be treated as employees of other companies when . . . well, when it is convenient for Democratic constituencies that they be so treated. The underlying case involved an operator of recycling centers, Browning-Ferris Industries of California, which uses subcontractors to staff some of its facilities. Firms have many reasons for using subcontracted labor, one of which is avoiding entanglement with the NLRB. Tut-tut, say the feds.

But in the more relevant cases, contracting is built into the business model, as it is with franchise restaurants and similar businesses, which are what this case really is about. Most people who work for McDonald’s do not actually work for McDonald’s Corporation, which operates only a small number of the burger joints bearing its name. [Read more...]

Why Does U.S. Economic Performance Continue To Decline?

by Francis Menton     •     Manhattan Contrarian

Poor Economic Growth ObamaThe government’s latest GDP numbers, through Q2 2015, are now out, and they include some revisions to Q1, as well as other revisions for the period 2012 – 2014. Lenore Hawkins analyzes the numbers at Elle’s Economy, in an article titled “GDP Numbers Keep Getting Worse.” One consequence of the revisions is that Q1 2015 went from a slight decline to a slight increase. But the other revisions to earlier years, particularly 2012 – 2014, had the effect of lowering previously-reported GDP substantially:

In the 138 years from 1870 to 2008, the US economy expanded by about an average of 3% a year. After the revisions to GDP data from 2012-2014, we see that the U.S. economy since the financial crisis has been growing an average of 2.0% a year versus the earlier 2.3%. . . . Most importantly, 2010-2014 was weaker in every quarter except the second and 2015 so far has been the worst yet!

So why doesn’t the U.S. economy just get going like it always did in the past — even as recently as the decade of the 1990s and from 2001 – 2008? Could there be something different about the Obama regime? [Read more...]

The Obama economy has SERIOUS problems

by Heather Long     •     CNN

High on the Republican presidential candidates’ list of talking points is the Obama economy. Specifically, bashing it.

They have some grist to work with.

Even though the economy is way ahead of where it was four years ago, Americans aren’t happy. Half of the country flat out disapproves of how the president is handling the economy, according to recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll.

Even more alarming is the return of pessimism. Take a look at Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index. It’s measured weekly, and the first August reading is negative — the lowest since last October. The jitters are back. [Read more...]

USPS is losing sight of public safety

By George Landrith     •     The Hill

usps postal serviceWhen it comes to the U.S. Postal Service, the organization’s decline has been well documented for years. Last year the Postal Service lost $5.5 billion, marking the eighth consecutive year of multi-billion dollar losses. Further, for consumers, the Postal Service is still failing to meet performance targets for First-Class mail, Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services, and more according to a recent federal review.

As the agency seeks to regain solid footing for its balance sheet and service standards, it’s clear that improved management at the top is necessary. In the last several months the Postal Service has made ill-advised efforts to expand into offerings that are unrelated to its primary letter mail responsibility and interrupt areas where such products are already provided.

Achieving excellence in the core product offerings is also grounded in one major facet of the Postal Service’s operations – its ability to handle items in a way that prioritizes the overall security of the mail system for the safety of the public. [Read more...]

U.S. Postal Service mail standards keep getting worse

Problems include services cut in rural areas but increase in big cities; processing facilities consolidated, impacting ability to meet delivery goals; new services that result in significant losses

by George Landrith     •


us postal service uspsThe U.S. Postal Service has served as a steady fixture in every American’s life. From the post office on Main Street to the postal worker who has delivered mail to our houses for 25 years, the U.S. Postal Service has been a dependable entity in our daily lives.

Recently, a bipartisan group of senators, including Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, met with the Postmaster General Megan Brennan to discuss a long list of USPS service complaints. At the top of the list was lagging delivery times that are continuing to get worse. As part of the evaluation process, Baldwin and the group maintain that declining postal standards and the consolidation of mail processing facilities is negatively impacting rural communities across their states.

Now, we undoubtedly have different means for many types of information sharing through the Internet. While many may rely on email and other Internet-based communications platforms, most still use the mail to send birthday cards or pay the mortgage and myriad other purposes. [Read more...]

Why does USPS favor foreign shippers?

by George Landrith     •     Washington Examiner

usps postal serviceWhere possible, policy leaders in this country should make the promotion of American businesses a priority. When the American economy is flourishing, our country flourishes.

That doesn’t mean Americans should shy away from international trade. In our global economy, the shirts we wear, the phones we use and the cars we drive oftentimes are made overseas. Due to a number of factors, there are some products where American companies do not enjoy a comparative advantage compared to foreign competitors and vice versa.

It is understandable that American companies sometimes lose in competition. What is not understandable, however, is when an American entity like the United States Postal Service creates a competitive advantage for foreign producers. [Read more...]

Conservatives have every reason to be optimistic

Freedom and opportunity are on the horizon with a new crop of principled, capable and positive conservatives. 

by George Landrith   bright-future-optimism-optimistic

In the past few weeks and the next couple weeks, we will see most of the expected entrants into the GOP presidential sweepstakes make their plans official. The GOP bench is deep with a number of highly credible and well qualified potential nominees. Part of this deep bench is the result of the conservatives doing well in a majority of the non-presidential and state elections during President Barack Obama’s time in office. The GOP has gained 70 seats in Congress and 910 state legislators around the nation since Barack Obama took office.

If you’re a conservative, there is a lot more good news on the horizon. That deep bench of well-qualified and highly credible candidates is revealing itself in congressional elections around the nation. Speaking with campaign experts around the nation, one thing is clear — the GOP has a bumper crop of great conservative candidates.

I can’t write about each of them, but perhaps I can pick one that caught my eye and shows real promise. In Florida’s 18th Congressional District, an established name is retiring from the House of Representatives to pursue the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Marco Rubio. Rick Kozell has announced his candidacy for the open congressional seat in the Treasure Coast and Palm Beach area.

Here’s what I like about Rick Kozell — he’s an optimistic, principled conservative with a winning vision for the future. He reminds me of a young Ronald Reagan. The press will have a hard time casting him as the stereotypical angry conservative. Kozell is affable, young, smart, and articulate. His smile is natural and his energy and enthusiasm are obvious. [Read more...]

There’s a Not-So-Small Problem With the President’s Claim That the US is Seeing a ‘Jobs Recovery’

by Frank Camp     •     IJReview

According to a new study by Pew Charitable Trusts, using data from 2000-2013, the middle class population in America has “shrunk” in all 50 states:

The states that have suffered the most recently are:

2000: 54.6% middle-class
2013: 48.9% middle-class
Total loss: 5.7%

2000: 50.9% middle-class
2013: 45.7%% middle-class
Total loss: 5.2%

North Dakota:
2000: 52.6% middle-class
2013: 47.5% middle-class
Total loss: 5.1%

States that have fared the best recently are:

[Read more...]