Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Poverty at 50 year high, labor participation at 36 year low – we need more low wage workers!

It simply doesn’t make sense in any sort of context that says the job of the President of the United States is to look after the welfare of the country’s citizens:

The official U.S. unemployment rate has indeed fallen steadily during the past few years, but the economic recovery has created the fewest jobs relative to the previous employment peak of any prior recovery. The labor-force participation rate recently touched a 36-year low of 62.7%. The number of Americans not in the labor force set a record high of 92.6 million in September. Part-time work and long-term unemployment are still well above levels from before the financial crisis.

Worse, middle-class incomes continue to fall during the recovery, losing even more ground than during the December 2007 to June 2009 recession. The number in poverty has also continued to soar, to about 50 million Americans. That is the highest level in the more than 50 years that the U.S. Census has been tracking poverty. Income inequality has risen more in the past few years than at any recent time.

The true indicator of the actual unemployment rate is the labor participation rate. It is at a 36 year low. The fudged numbers used by the US government hides the actual depth of joblessness problem. And, frankly, it’s a “buyers market” in the labor market. Lots of labor competition for few jobs. That’s one reason you don’t see incomes rising and you do see underemployed Americans.

So let’s introduce about 5 million illegal workers from other countries and enable them to compete in an already depressed labor market and while we’re at it, let’s agitate for a raise in the minimum wage.

Mind blown.  How do you square that sort of action with your oath of office if you’re the President of the United States?

Idiot-in-chief.

~McQ

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“This isn’t about legalizing Latin American immigrants, it’s about legalizing Latin American-style government.”

That’s Dave Burge’s take (IowaHawk) on last night’s venture into banana-republic style government by Obama.

Hard to beat that. So I just visualized it:

ObamaGeneralissimo

You just know he really, really wants to wear that suit, but Valerie Jarrett won’t let him

Billy

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Economic Statistics for 20 Nov 14

Consumer prices were unchanged at the headline level in October, while prices less food and energy rose 0.2%. On a year-over-year basis, the CPI is up 1.7%, while the core rate is up 1.8%.

Markit’s PMI Manufacturing Index Flash for November is down 1.8 points from October’s final reading, coming in at 54.7.

The Philadelphia Fed Survey surged a spectacular 20.1 points to 40.8, contrasting wildly with the falling PMI Manufacturing flash.

Existing home sales rose 1.5% in October to a 5.260 million annual rate.

The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators rose a very strong 0.9% in October, following September’s 0.8% increase.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 2,000 to 291,000. The 4-week average rose 2,500 to 287,500. Continuing claims fell 73,000 to 2.330 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.3 points to 38.5 in the latest week, the highest since January, 2008.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $3.9 billion last week, with total assets of $4.493 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $14.8 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $63.5 billion in the latest week.


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The media strikes back

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise:

Several networks won’t be carrying President Obama’s prime-time address on immigration Thursday night from the White House.

ABC, CBS and Fox are saying they won’t air the president’s speech live; NBC also reportedly isn’t planning to carry his address.

With polls saying that only 38% of Americans support his intent to use his executive power to provide amnesty to a portion of illegal aliens here in the US, there’s certainly no ratings upside to televising it.  And, in fact, there may be a little payback involved:

There was also griping among the White House press corps Wednesday at Mr. Obama using a Facebook video post to announce the timing of tonight’s address, rather than using the traditional media.

A television correspondent asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest if the move was “a thank you” to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who helped launch the immigration reform advocacy group FWD.us that is aiding the administration’s push for immigration changes.

Mr. Earnest denied the White House was playing favorites with Facebook, but said it was a good way to reach the president’s audience.

“The good news is that the wires, the networks and the press corp are all on Facebook,” Mr. Earnest said. “We don’t have to choose.”

The denial comes as no particular surprise – this administration denies everything.  As for choice, the White House did choose, and it chose to snub the White House press corps and the networks.  Apparently it finds their reaction to the snub problematic.

White House officials are expressing annoyance with the networks’ decision, saying that all major networks aired a prime-time address by Republican President George W. Bush in 2006 when he announced the deployment of national guard troops at the U.S-Mexico border.

Well perhaps that was because the Bush administration included the networks in its announcement of his speech.  The fact that the big 4 (if NBC refuses to carry it as well) are not going to carry it doesn’t mean it can’t be seen live if you’re so inclined to view it:

Two networks with Hispanic audiences, Univision and Telemundo, will air the president’s address live. CNN, MSNBC and PBS also plan to broadcast live.

But the bottom line of this little dust up is it appears that at least some of the networks are willing to strike back a bit at the White House press operation and it’s treatment of an unhappy White House press corps.  Now if we could get some actual unbiased and factual coverage from that press corps that would be a bonus.  Being water carriers hasn’t worked out very well for them, has it?

~McQ

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Would the GOP actually have the will to do this?

If, no, when President Obama issues his executive orders addressing immigration, Republicans are going to be faced with making some decisions about how to address those EOs. One of the ideas recently floated comes from the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and considers involving the House’s “power of the purse”, aka, defunding. The interesting point is that the rescission power rests with the President granted under the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. However, Congress has used it in the past (without presidential direction) as Chairman Rogers notes:

The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee pitched GOP colleagues on a plan to rescind funding for targeted programs in the next Congress to respond to President Obama’s planned executive amnesty, throwing a new idea into a ring already full of them.

“Chairman Rogers just got up and said if we pass an omnibus and then the president does this executive amnesty, he said we can rescind it, and we can rescind it with 218 and 51 and we don’t need the president. That’s what he just told me. I’ve never heard that before,” said Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), a key conservative lawmaker who has emerged as a leader in crafting strategy on the issue.

The idea startled GOP members who, according to Salmon, hadn’t contemplated the strategy until now. And Rogers had difficulty explaining the idea to a scrum of reporters given that the last time it was used was the 1990s. “I don’t think any of you have ever seen a rescission bill!” Rogers said.

“There’s any number of possibilities including rescission of spending after the fact. One of the difficulties we’re having is we really don’t know what actions he plans to actually take. When Livingston took over as chairman, he proposed and passed rescissions of spending bills that after the fact took away money that had been appropriated for an agency,” Rogers added.

The reason he’s talking about “after the fact” is Congress is currently engaged in trying to pass a huge spending bill and that will likely take priority. Once passed, then it will likely address anything that Obama has directed via EO.  Also note that rescission bills are very rare – Congress isn’t about cutting spending or defunding much of anything.

However that are a number of Republicans that don’t even want the spending bill passed until next year:

Many Republicans are pushing to punt significant legislative action, including an omnibus spending bill, until the next Congress, when the GOP will have more leverage and control, given their control of the upper chamber.

Whatever the eventual plan, the next two months should be quite interesting.  However, should they pass the spending bill before the next Congress, rescission provides a path for the GOP to cut funding to the programs that Obama targets with his EOs and trigger quite a nasty political battle next year.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 18 Nov 14

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales rose 0.2%, and rose 2.2% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook reports retail sales rose 3.9% on a year-ago basis.

Final demand producer prices rose 0.2% overall in October, while prices less food and energy rose 0.4%. On a year-over-year basis, the PPI-FD is up 1.5% at the headline level, and up 1.7% at the core. In October, goods prices declined -0.4% while services prices rose 0.5%. On a year-over-year basis, both goods and services prices have risen 1.6%.

The NAHB Housing Market Index rose 3 points in November to 58.0.

E-commerce retail sales for the 3rd Quarter of 2014 rose 4.0%, compared to 4.9% in the previous quarter.

Very heavy foreign buying resulted in a net inflow of $164.3 billion in long term US securities in September.


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