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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     •     greenbaypressgazette.com

 

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:

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

Ohio:
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...]

Cutting Healthcare Costs Without Harming Patients

by Peter Roff     •     The Hill

obamacare pay less for healthcareA debate has raged for more than 20 years now over the best way to bend the U.S. healthcare cost curve downward. So far, no one is winning – least of all patients and healthcare providers. And no one will as long as “bending the curve” (which is just a fancy way of saying we need to find ways to make the delivery of healthcare cheaper) remains the primary objective regardless of the impact on patient care.

Up to now the debate has focused largely on what government can proactively do to ease costs. This led to the passage by the narrowest of margins of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – which is really nothing more than a complex series of new regulations and taxes, fines and fees that have forced insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, and patients all to make changes in the way they provide and receive care as well as coverage.

People don’t like the new system very much but they weren’t exactly fans of the old one either. And no matter what the United States Supreme Court determines in the pending King vs. Burwell suit over the questionable use of tax dollars to subsidize health insurance bought through the federal exchange by people living in states that do not have exchanges of their own, things can probably only get worse. [Read more...]

Elephants Can Remember

by Peter Roff     •     The Washington Examiner

elephants_endangered species_PETAAn era of show business is about to come to an end.

At the conclusion of the 2018 season, Feld Entertainment — parent company of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus — has announced that the 13 Asian elephants that are part of its touring units would retire, living out their lives in comfort and ease at the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida alongside more than 40 others of their kind.

Activists who have long complained that the elephants, indeed that almost all performing animals held in confinement are subjected to mistreatment, were quick to claim victory. One of them, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal’s Ingrid Newkirk, took credit for the decision on behalf of her organization while continuing to heap criticism on the circus. [Read more...]

China’s Secret Strategy Exposed

Beijing Plots to Surpass U.S. in Coming Decades

by Bill Gertz     •     The Washington Free Beacon

ChinaChina launched a secret 100-year modernization program that deceived successive U.S. administrations into unknowingly promoting Beijing’s strategy of replacing the U.S.-led world order with a Chinese communist-dominated economic and political system, according to a new book by a longtime Pentagon China specialist.

For more than four decades, Chinese leaders lulled presidents, cabinet secretaries, and other government analysts and policymakers into falsely assessing China as a benign power deserving of U.S. support, says Michael Pillsbury, the Mandarin-speaking analyst who has worked on China policy and intelligence issues for every U.S. administration since Richard Nixon.

The secret strategy, based on ancient Chinese statecraft, produced a large-scale transfer of cash, technology, and expertise that bolstered military and Communist Party “superhawks” in China who are now taking steps to catch up to and ultimately surpass the United States, Pillsbury concludes in a book published this week. [Read more...]

Barack Obama, Corporate Liberal

And secret friend of the one percent.

by Jay Cost     •     The Weekly Standard

Obama-smugIn last week’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama came across as the ultimate class warrior. His domestic agenda consists of more spending on roads and infrastructure, new entitlement programs for community college and preschool, and tax preferences targeted to low- and middle-income earners. All of this he would pay for with new inheritance taxes on the wealthy, a hike in the capital gains tax, and a special levy on the biggest financial institutions.

But don’t be fooled. Obama may seem like the newest member of Occupy Wall Street—chanting “We are the 99 percent!”—but his record shows him to be a corporate liberal, and a closer look at last week’s proposals confirms it. [Read more...]

Obama’s Illusory Economic Recovery

Official statistics ignore the real hardships families face.

By Stephen Moore     •     The Washington Times

Jobless RecoveryThe big news from this week’s State of the Union address is that the economic “crisis is over.” Apparently, we’ve been rescued from a second Great Depression and everything this president has done to fix the economy has worked. All that was missing from Mr. Obama’s celebration was the old “Icky Shuffle” end zone dance.

This no doubt came as a bit of a shock to voters since the economy has been sickly for a long, long time. As recently as this fall, half of Americans were saying that the country is still in recession.

Conditions have improved in the last six months for sure, with growth accelerating, inflation low and stable, hiring picking up and gas prices tumbling.

Still, if things are as good as the White House says they are, why do we feel so bad? Why are we collectively so worried about the fragile future of our nation? [Read more...]

Obama Blows Smoke

by Fred Barnes     •     The Weekly Standard

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in WashingtonWe know that supply-side economics emphasizes serious cuts in tax rates and Keynesianism relies on massive amounts of government spending. But how in the world does “middle class economics” work? After President Obama cited it repeatedly in State of the Union speech, I waited and waited for him to explain how it works. He never did.

Instead, he confused a cause with a result. Middle class economics, he said, “is the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.” That’s a nice sentiment, but it’s not an economic policy.by Fred Barnes     •     The Weekly Standard

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in WashingtonWe know that supply-side economics emphasizes serious cuts in tax rates and Keynesianism relies on massive amounts of government spending. But how in the world does “middle class economics” work? After President Obama cited it repeatedly in State of the Union speech, I waited and waited for him to explain how it works. He never did.

Instead, he confused a cause with a result. Middle class economics, he said, “is the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.” That’s a nice sentiment, but it’s not an economic policy. [Read more...]

At 40, the Laffer Curve Still Looks Good

by Stephen Moore     •     The Washington Post

800px-Laffer-Curve.svgIt was 40 years ago this month that two of President Gerald Ford’s top White House advisers, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, gathered for a steak dinner at the Two Continents restaurant in Washington with Wall Street Journal editorial writer Jude Wanniski and Arthur Laffer, former chief economist at the Office of Management and Budget. The United States was in the grip of a gut-wrenching recession, and Laffer lectured to his dinner companions that the federal government’s 70 percent marginal tax rates were an economic toll booth slowing growth to a crawl.

To punctuate his point, he grabbed a pen and a cloth cocktail napkin and drew a chart showing that when tax rates get too high, they penalize work and investment and can actually lead to revenue losses for the government. Four years later, that napkin became immortalized as “the Laffer Curve” in an article Wanniski wrote for the Public Interest magazine. (Wanniski would later grouse only half-jokingly that he should have called it the Wanniski Curve.) [Read more...]

Nobody Is Pushing Thomas Piketty’s Policies to Combat Economic Inequality

By Michael Barone     •     RealClearPolitics

Money Hole TaxLast spring, you may remember, the French economist Thomas Piketty was all the rage in certain enlightened circles. His book “Capital” shot up to the No. 1 spot on bestseller lists, and many economists praised his statistics showing increased income and wealth inequality. Piketty argued that, absent a world war, returns to capital will exceed economic growth, inevitably producing growing inequality in the 21st century.

There are problems with Piketty’s — or anyone else’s — statistics. Reliance on U.S. income tax returns overlooks the fact that tax cuts encourage people to realize income and misses non-taxable income such as welfare and Social Security payments. [Read more...]