China’s global dominance, something analysts say is inevitable, will have to wait.
by Gordon G. Chang • The National Interest
Last Monday, at the conclusion of China’s closed-door Central Economic Work Conference, Beijing’s public relations machine went into high gear to show that the country’s leaders had come up with a viable plan to rescue the economy.
Unfortunately, they do not now have such a plan. In reality, they decided to continue strategies that both created China’s current predicament and failed this year to restart growth.
The severity of China’s economic problems—and the inability to implement long-term solutions—mean almost all geopolitical assumptions about tomorrow are wrong. Virtually everyone today sees China as a major power in the future. Yet the country’s extraordinary economic difficulties will result in a collapse or a long-term decline, and either outcome suggests China will return to the ranks of weak states. Continue reading
by Kenneth Bloomquist
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. Continue reading
by Heather Long • CNN
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. Continue reading
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%
2000: 52.6% middle-class
2013: 47.5% middle-class
Total loss: 5.1%
States that have fared the best recently are:
And secret friend of the one percent.
by Jay Cost • The Weekly Standard
In 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. Continue reading
Official statistics ignore the real hardships families face.
By Stephen Moore • The Washington Times
The 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? Continue reading
by the Oklahoman Editorial Board
Thus it was no surprise that he parroted a Reagan trope in recently asking the question of whether Americans are better off today than when he took office — and then answering his own question by concluding that “the country is definitely better off than we were when I came into office.”
For Reagan, it was a campaign strategy drawn as a weapon against Jimmy Carter in 1980. Are you better off, he asked voters, than you were four years ago?
Such comparisons aren’t unique to Reagan and Obama, of course, but Reagan put his own stamp on it — quite successfully as it turns out.
“By every economic measure,” Obama told college students the other day, “we are better off than when I took office.” So not only has this president adopted the Reagan line (even crediting Reagan). He’s turned it into yet another example of repeated, robotic rhetoric in the endless campaign speeches made by a man “who is not running for anything except the exit,” in the words of Caroline Baum, a former Bloomberg News columnist. Continue reading
The number of people collecting paychecks rose more than had been expected and the tally of people counted as jobless fell, placing the unemployment rate — 5.9% — at its lowest level since 2008.
While the trends are positive, they offer only distant hope to a middle class that is taking home less pay than it used to and can only watch as the wealthy enjoy ever greater prosperity.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way under President Obama, tribune of ordinary folks who, as he likes to say, play by the rules. Continue reading
by Peter Huessy
Russian President Vladimir Putin annexes the Crimea in gross violation of international law. What should America do, if anything?
There are many different ideas. Some suggest doing nothing. Some assert we cannot do anything. Others feel the consequences of letting such aggression stand will be serious.
The country’s divisions are certainly reflective of how divided on this Americans are.
What then is the proper role for America in the world that both keeps us safe and enhances our prosperity? Continue reading
It’s amazing how little President Obama has learned about economics in his four and a half years in the White House. Growth, incentives, tax reform, tax increases, private investment, the middle class, a second great depression, the sequester—all these issues have one thing in common: Obama doesn’t understand their role in our economy.
Nor does he appear interested in finding out. Members of the now-defunct President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness have privately talked about Obama’s economic shallowness. After the 2010 election, he invited four conservative economists to the White House. When former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin broached the subject of the economic cost of Obamacare, the president dismissed it as politics, not economics.
Obama seems oblivious to the feeble recovery his policies have produced since the recession bottomed out in June 2009. The jobless rate is 7.3 percent. But if the millions who’ve dropped out of the job market altogether since Obama took office in January 2009 were counted, the unemployment rate would be 10.8 percent. “In other words, the United States faces a permanently larger pool of jobless Americans,” says the American Enterprise Institute’s James Pethokoukis. Continue reading
How’s the left-wing, ivory-tower, we-know-best elitist Obamanomics working for you? Here’s the news.
First-quarter gross domestic product numbers for 2013 were recently revised — downward from 1.8 percent to 1.1 percent. For perspective, four years into the recovery from the last deep recession in ’81-’82, the economy grew at 4.1 percent.
What about the declining “labor force participation rate”?
This counts the percentage of civilians 16 years and older working or actively looking for work. When President Barack Obama took office, the labor force participation rate was 65.7. Today it is 63.4, up 0.1 from April’s 34-year low. Frustrated, many able-bodied and able-minded would-be workers have simply given up looking for jobs. Continue reading
It’s been one year since the Supreme Court decision that allowed Obama administration officials to begin implementing the Affordable Care Act, and the frequency and volume of reports about the challenges facing those reforms—and the difficulties they are visiting on those who were supposed to benefit from them—are increasing dramatically.
Jeff Vernon, an employee of Scrambler Marie’s restaurant in Toledo, Ohio, told a local reporter that the owners were cutting his hours to avoid penalties under Obamacare. Businesses with more than 49 employees have to offer insurance to all “full-time” workers—defined as those who put in 30 hours or more each week. The result, for Vernon: $400 less in take-home pay every month. “That leaves me $27.50 for two weeks to live off of,” he explained. Vernon said the owners tried to avoid the cuts but didn’t have any other recourse. “They were real good about that,” he added. “The last thing they wanted to do was cut people. They don’t want to fire anybody.” Continue reading
Americans are migrating from less-free liberal states to more-free conservative states, where they are doing better economically, according to a new study published Thursday by George Mason University’s Mercatus Center.
The “Freedom in the 50 States” study measured economic and personal freedom using a wide range of criteria, including tax rates, government spending and debt, regulatory burdens, and state laws covering land use, union organizing, gun control, education choice and more.
It found that the freest states tended to be conservative “red” states, while the least free were liberal “blue” states. Continue reading
It is not surprising that there are liberals in Washington proposing new stealth carbon taxes. What is surprising is that a few “conservatives” support the idea. Even more inexplicable is the fact that some have called the carbon tax a “once in a generation opportunity.”
Let me see if I’ve got this right. A huge, gargantuan tax increase — one that would make everything cost more — is a “once in a generation opportunity?”
Every single day for the last 30 years and every single day for the next 30 years, liberals will crawl over top of each other to be the first one to sign-on to a new energy tax. This is a deal that liberals will always be willing to give. Continue reading
The economy is not some theoretical concept or ivory tower idea. A strong economy means that Americans have jobs and growing incomes. It means that families can provide their children with the care and opportunities that will provide for a bright future. Conversely a weak economy means fewer jobs and less opportunity. It means lower incomes and it means that families have to do without.
Too often big government slows the economy by taxing and spending too much. Those who support more and more government taxes and spending always argue that government can do something good with the money. But the problem with that argument is that families and businesses also can do a lot of good with that money if government doesn’t take it away from them. Continue reading