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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...]

Obama’s New Energy Plan Could Cost $2.5 Trillion in Lost Economic Growth

by Nicolas Loris     •     Daily Signal

The Obama administration unveiled its climate change regulations for new and existing power plants, calling the plan “the biggest, most important step we’ve ever taken to combat climate change.”

It may be the most “important” from a top-down, regulatory mandate for high energy prices, but it won’t accomplish much, if anything, in terms of combating climate change.

Even though electricity generation accounts for the single largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, the estimated reduction is minuscule compared to global greenhouse gas emissions.

Climatologists estimate that the administration’s climate regulations will avert less than two hundredths of a degree Celsius by 2100. [Read more...]

The New Slow-Growth Normal and Where It Leads

On the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, an unhinged regulatory state is our doomsday machine.

by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.     •     Wall Street Journal

AT&T is a taxpaying corporate citizen in good standing and agreed to a perfectly legal takeover with fellow taxpaying corporate citizen DirecTV. We know it was legal because the Justice Department approved the deal, saying it raised no concerns under the antitrust laws.

And yet to proceed with a consensual, private-market transaction AT&T still had to concede to a long list of demands, without a meaningful recourse—fighting in court would have taken too long and destroyed the value of the deal—presented by another government agency, the Federal Communications Commission.

Who cares about the swelling power of bureaucratic discretion in Washington over big business, since it doesn’t threaten your personal freedom and prosperity. Or does it? That question lurked in the background of a Hoover Institution discussion on June 25, hosted by economist and podcaster extraordinaire Russ Roberts. The occasion was the 800th anniversary of Britain’s Magna Carta, a landmark in the struggle for a rule of law. [Read more...]

US Wage Growth Plummets to Slowest Pace On Record

by Morgan Chalfant     •     Washington Free Beacon

economic growthU.S. employment costs posted the smallest increase on record in the second quarter of 2015.

The Labor Department released the figures Friday, Reuters reported. The Employment Cost Index, the general measure of labor costs that is used as an accurate indication of labor market slack, ticked up only 0.2 percent in the second quarter.

Down from a 0.7 percent gain in the first quarter, this represents the smallest gain since the government started measuring the employment cost index in 1982.

Some economists had anticipated that the figure would see a 0.6 percent increase in the second quarter.

“This data has periodically proved to be very lumpy and the sharp deceleration is inconsistent with other measures of wage inflation that are trending higher, not falling off a cliff,” said Eric Green, chief economist at TD Securities in New York City. [Read more...]

The President’s Fictions: from Obamacare to ISIS

President Obama lives and operates in a fictitious world because the real world doesn’t cooperate with his dogmas. 

by New York Post Editorial BoardOrwellian Doublespeak Obama

 

It’s plainly liberating for President Obama to simply deny reality and declare everything just peachy, as he did again Monday at the G7 summit in Germany. Sadly, reality’s not cooperating.

One of his fictions du jour: All’s well with Obama­Care. No joke.

“The thing is working,” the president insisted. “We haven’t had a lot of conversation about the horrors of ObamaCare, because none of them have come to pass.”

Somebody’s having those conversations. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows 54 percent oppose ObamaCare, with only 39 percent — the lowest ever — in favor.

He also insisted that a big suit against ObamaCare, Burwell v. King, is so clearly based on a “twisted interpretation” that “it probably shouldn’t even have been taken up.” [Read more...]

U.S. Emergency-Room Visits Keep Climbing

By Stephanie Armour     •     Wall Street Journal

Emergency-room visits continued to climb in the second year of the Affordable Care Act, contradicting the law’s supporters who had predicted a decline in traffic as more people gained access to doctors and other health-care providers.

A survey of 2,098 emergency-room doctors conducted in March showed about three-quarters said visits had risen since January 2014. That was a significant uptick from a year earlier, when less than half of doctors surveyed reported an increase. The survey by the American College of Emergency Physicians is scheduled to be published Monday. [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...]

President Obama wants to limit your retirement savings — but not his own

by Allan Sloan     •     The Washington Post

Obama SmirkYou can’t keep a bad idea down. That’s my reaction to a terrible proposal in President Obama’s budget — limiting how much money can be set aside on your behalf in 401(k)s, pensions and other tax-favored retirement accounts.

The idea, of course, is to limit retirement-related tax breaks for “the rich.” The Treasury wants to limit the value of pensions and retirement accounts to about $3.4 million for a married couple, and something less than that (it doesn’t say how much) for single people. [Read more...]

U.S. Not Among Top Nations for Economic Freedom

by Ali Meyer     •     cnsnews.com

Its-the-economy-stupidThe United States does not rank among the Top 10 countries in the world for economic freedom, according to the Heritage Foundation’s 2015 Index of Economic Freedom.

Instead, the U..S. ranked only 12th–after Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Canada, Chile, Estonia, Ireland, Mauritius, and Denmark.

Estonia was formerly a part of the Soviet Union.

The Index rates economic freedom for countries on 10 quantitative and qualitative factors that are based on four pillars of freedom: rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency and open markets. [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...]

Middle-Class Savings Like Blood In the Water

Obama goes where the money is to pay for ‘free’ education programs – your savings account.

by Glenn Harlan Reynolds     •     USAToday

obama_taxesBank robber Willie Sutton is said to have explained his career this way: “That’s where the money is.” Whether Sutton ever really said that, it’s an aphorism that, according to Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle, explains President Obama’s plans to go after middle class assets like 529 college savings plans and home appreciation.

Though millions of Americans have been putting money into “tax free” 529 plans to save for their children’s increasingly expensive college educations, President Obama would change the law so that withdrawals from the plans to fund college would be taxed as ordinary income. So while you used to be able to get a nice tax benefit by saving for college, now you’ll be shelling out to Uncle Sam every time you withdraw to pay for Junior’s dorm fees.

This doesn’t hurt the very rich — who just pay for college out of pocket — or the poor, who get financial aid, but it’s pretty rough on the middle– and upper–middle class. In a double-whammy, those withdrawals will show up as income on parents’ income tax forms, which are used to calculate financial aid, making them look richer, and hence reducing grants. [Read more...]

Endlessly Slapped by ObamaCare

By Justin Haskins     •     The New York Post

Cancelled Cancellation ObamaCare“I’m sorry sir,” the polite Healthcare.gov customer-service agent said. “There’s nothing I can do. You’re either going to have to enroll in Medicaid or you’re going to have to pay the full health-insurance rate.”

“The rate you quoted earlier?” I asked. “That’s nearly 30 percent higher than my current insurance bill, I just can’t afford it.”

“You’ll have to pay the full rate, yes,” the agent replied. [Read more...]