For years U.S. lawmakers and special interest groups have promoted policies that drove U.S. manufacturing offshore without people really being aware of it. Higher taxes, workplace regulations, environmental rules with onerous penalties, and other actions by government drove the costs of making things in America up so high it became a matter of corporate survival to take it to other countries.
Good for them, bad for us. China’s middle class has risen at the expense of U.S. workers and their families. Jobs have left places like Michigan and New York and Illinois for places with names most Americans can’t pronounce let alone find on a map.
It was a tragedy for workers and entire communities as the job providers moved away. Middle America understood what was going on, providing Donald Trump with fertile ground for his rhetoric about “bad trade deals” when he ran for president in 2016. For the coastal elites who only looked at the soaring values of their retirement portfolios, it was another story. It wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic struck that they realized what they had done.
For probably the first time since World War II, the U.S. economy was riddled with shortages. No matter how much money you had to spend, in some places, there wasn’t a roll of toilet tissue or a bottle of hand sanitizer to be found. Unless, in a few cases, you were willing to wait and buy it from China.
Memories may be short, but it wasn’t just these common household items that were in short supply. Items thought necessary for treating coronavirus patients like ventilators and pharmaceuticals as well as the personal protective equipment for hospital workers on the frontlines fighting the pandemic needed to protect themselves were not available in the quantities needed. China, where the outbreak was first detected, was hoarding what they made for their own use.
Recognizing the problem and expanding on what he promised while campaign, Mr. Trump has been looking for opportunities to bring the manufacturing of these products — and the jobs that go with them — home. And, unsurprisingly, he’s been criticized for doing it.
The Trump administration recently signaled its support for the launch of Kodak Pharmaceuticals, which would be a branch of the once-mighty Eastman Kodak company, by providing a $765 million loan to get things going. Kodak has been the anchor of Rochester, New York’s economy but has had difficulty adapting to the digital age.
This deal would not only stabilize a domestic supply chain, but it would reestablish the Rochester economy with a huge boom in the job market. So you would think the establishment of a new corporate entity to manufacture pharmaceutical ingredients in the United States that will help secure America’s drug supply chain and create what the Democrats used to call “good jobs at good wages” would be met with cheers and brass bands. Instead, the company finds itself under examination because the news caused the company’s stock to rise in value, creating the illusion that some company executives benefited financially.
It’s that kind of muddled thinking that drove so many jobs and companies out of the United States in the first place. At a time when initiative at home is desperately needed in the corporate sector, the first ones to step to the front of the line find themselves the victims of bad press and potential investigations. This is not to excuse any bad actions or actors – and if there were any, they would have been uncovered by Kodak’s independent review, but none were.
We should expect that a company’s “good news” should lead to an increase in the price of its stock. That’s good for the shareholders, which should be any company’s principal if not the only concern, as well as the country. The idea that people working for the company might also profit is the hallmark of the suspicious, anti-free market attitudes that infected the media, members of the political class, and consumer watchdogs for decades and which, more than once, nearly destroyed the American economy.
Senior White House trade advisor Peter Navarro recently called COVID-19 a wake-up call for the nation, not just because of the threat it posed to our health or healthcare system but because it left us defenseless in economic and national security terms. “We have already witnessed over 80 countries impose some form of export restrictions on medicines or medical supplies, proving that no matter how strong our friendships or alliances may be, they mean nothing in a pandemic,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
Kodak was found innocent of all “charges” after an in-depth internal investigation. Policymakers and watchdogs need to move on and come up with a plan to bring manufacturing and jobs home, by creating incentives to do just that.
There are a lot of tools in the tool kit to make this possible: tax breaks, additional deregulation, export assistance, and opportunity zones are just a few of the things that can be dangled in front of the heads of big companies to lure them to bring their operations home.
America needs a big plan that ties them and other ideas together to bring the manufacture of essential goods like pharmaceuticals and PPE home, before the next global pandemic hits. Breaking our 100% dependence on foreign manufactures located in countries whose interests may diverge from ours at some future and highly inconvenient time must become a national priority now.
by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
California is projected to have a $15 statewide minimum wage by 2022. Economists project this will lead to a loss of 400,000 jobs, according to a report from the Employment Policies Institute.
Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25. California’s is $10.50, which is one of the highest minimum wages in the United States. California’s intent to raise it to $15 by 2022 will create the largest gap between a state minimum wage and the federal wage in U.S. history.
“One might argue that a higher minimum wage is justified in California because of its relatively high cost of living compared to the typical state,” the report says. “On the other hand, one might be concerned about whether the higher minimum wage in California causes job loss for low skilled workers, and whether the effects differ in the cities where the cost of living and wages are relatively high as compared to rural areas or less expensive cities.”
California has consistently raised the minimum wage since 2001, even higher than what was mandated by federal law. The study finds that this increase has led to a decline in employment.
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 Stephen Moore • NY Sun
What ever happened to the old-fashioned American work ethic? I ask this because Thursday’s Labor Department report for June found yet another 430,000 Americans of working age (16+) dropped out of the workforce.
Over the last year more only 1.3 million of Americans of working age have entered the workforce even as the population of this same demographic increased by more than 2.8 million. Just over 1 million of this group found jobs. That’s right—of the increase in working age population, less than 36 percent found employment! Continue reading
Freedom and opportunity are on the horizon with a new crop of principled, capable and positive conservatives.
by George Landrith
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. Continue reading
by Jeff Cox • CNBC
The revelation, contained in a new survey Wednesday showing how much work needs to be done yet in the U.S. labor market, comes as the labor force participation rate remains mired near 37-year lows.
A tight jobs market, the skills gap between what employers want and what prospective employees have to offer, and a benefits program that, while curtailed from its recession level, still remains obliging have combined to keep workers on the sidelines, according to a Harris poll of 1,553 working-age Americans conducted for Express Employment Professionals. Continue reading
Regardless of the President’s claims, the economy is weak and the “recovery” is almost invisible to most Americans.
Editorial Board • Washington Examiner
During his 60 Minutes interview late last month, President Obama put an old and familiar rhetorical question to the voters: “Ronald Reagan used to ask the question, ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’…And the answer is, the country is definitely better off than we were when I came into office.”
Most members of the public do not share this view, according to this week’s Washington Post/ABC News poll. Only 22 percent surveyed agreed that they are “better off financially” than they were when Obama was inaugurated in January 2009 — including only 37 percent of Democratic partisans. This says a lot about how people feel, because six years ago, the nation was embroiled in the very financial crisis that Obama still cites to absolve himself from blame for America’s continued economic doldrums.
When pressed in the same interview, Obama had to concede that most Americans aren’t feeling the recovery he has been touting ever since the so-called “Recovery Summer” of 2010. That’s because for workers, there hasn’t been much of a recovery. Continue reading
Last month, when the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that gross domestic product had grown at a lead-footed rate of 0.1 percent in the first quarter, economic analysts could focus on two pillars of hope. The first was that the winter weather was unusually awful, and first-quarter growth probably reflected that. And the second? This was a very preliminary number, and it seemed reasonable to think that it might be revised upward.
The operative word is “seemed.” Now the BEA has provided its first revision, and things only get more dismal: The economy actually contracted in the first quarter instead of just lying down on the sofa and feeling all mopey and sad. Key areas of decline were exports, inventories and nonresidential fixed investment. In other words, whatever happened was happening on the business side. Continue reading
After the U.S. economy added only a disappointing 74,000 jobs in December, the worst month of job creation in three years, economists expected the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday to report substantial improvement in January.
Well, the 113,000 jobs added last month certainly represents an improvement from December. But such job growth is far from substantial. The consensus of economists surveyed by Bloomberg ahead of Friday’s report was 180,000 jobs.
Some blamed the weak jobs number on January’s frigid weather in much of the nation.
Polar vortex or not, January marked an unhappy milestone for the nation’s jobless – exactly six years since the economy reached the peak number of jobs, as Businessweek pointed out.
Some 8.7 million jobs were lost during the so-called Great Recession of 2007-09. And in January, some four and half years after recession ended and the Obama recovery began, the U.S. was still nearly 1 million jobs shy of where it was six years ago. Continue reading
The recent job report was disappointing on several different levels. The new jobs number was appalling. The number of new jobs, 74,000 doesn’t even keep up with population growth. In fact, if it were doubled, it would still be short of keeping pace with population growth. Simply stated, it means we are moving backwards.
But it gets worse — a shockingly large and growing group of Americans are chronically jobless and have evidently given up hope of finding a job because they are completely outside of the workforce. Another 347,000 Americans left the workforce. Continue reading
One blessing of the holiday season is upon us: The prospect that members of Congress will actually stay away from Washington for a few weeks, leaving what’s left of our liberties and livelihoods alone until the new year.
Glory, hallelujah, amen.
Of course, lawmakers will be back at it soon. And we’re already seeing signs that they have no idea how to address the serious problems average, struggling Americans face every day. Continue reading
Last week, President Obama gave a much-touted speech on “income inequality.” But while inequality is a valid concern, it’s not so clear that unequal incomes are the biggest problem America faces.
More troubling — as figures as distinct as Slate’s Matthew Yglesias and National Review’s Mark Steyn both noted — is the growing divide between an America where people have jobs, and an America where people live off of government benefits.
As Yglesias observed:
The Washington, D.C., metropolitan area has become an island of prosperity in an ailing country. But D.C. itself has an 8.9% unemployment rate even as it sits at the center of a metro-area unemployment rate of just 5.4%. For people who haven’t gone to college — the kind of people who live in the neighborhood where Obama was speaking — the unemployment rate is 20%. That’s a disaster. And while Obama talked about plenty of things that could help those unemployed families — subsidized health care, better schools for their kids — he didn’t really talk about anything that would get them jobs. The biggest applause line of the speech was about raising the minimum wage, which is great, but also doesn’t help you very much if your current wage is $0. 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
Political crusades for raising the minimum wage are back again. Advocates of minimum wage laws often give themselves credit for being more “compassionate” towards “the poor.” But they seldom bother to check what are the actual consequences of such laws.
One of the simplest and most fundamental economic principles is that people tend to buy more when the price is lower and less when the price is higher. Yet advocates of minimum wage laws seem to think that the government can raise the price of labor without reducing the amount of labor that will be hired. Continue reading
How do you know the August jobs report was pretty bad? When the best thing you can say is that it might have met Wall Street expectations if not for a temporary shutdown in the porn industry last month. (The motion picture and sound recording industry lost 22,000 jobs in August, according to the BLS.) Sure, the White House can argue, as economic adviser Jason Furman did right after the report’s release, that the “incoming economic data broadly suggest that the recovery continues to make progress.” But consider the following:
1. This was the jobs report that was supposed to reflect an economy kicking into higher gear. Goldman Sachs, for instance, was looking for 200,000 net new jobs. And whisper estimates were even higher. Instead, the economy added just 169,000 jobs vs. the 180,000 consensus forecast. Continue reading