The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rose a point to 92.5 in November.
In weekly retail sales, Redbook reports a weak 2.6% increase from the previous year. ICSC-Goldman shows weakness, as it reports a weekly sales drop of -1.6%, and a 1.5% increase on a year-over-year basis.
Wholesale inventories rose a very sharp 1.4% increase in October, but a 1.0% rise in sales kept the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged for a third month at 1.18.
That’s primarily what politicians seem to want to do despite protestations to the contrary by some. They’re always looking for a new “revenue stream”. And since tax payers are the only folks who actually pay taxes, they’re constantly dreaming up new ways to “access” your wallet.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) on Tuesday reintroduced legislation that would require the government to study the most practical ways of taxing drivers based on how far they drive, in order to help fund federal highway programs.
Blumenauer’s bill, H.R. 3638, would set up a Road Usage Fee Pilot Program, which he said would study mileage-based fee systems. He cast his bill as a long-term solution for funding highway programs, and proposed it along with a shorter-term plan to nearly double the gas tax, from 18.4 cents to 33.4 cents per gallon.
“As we extend the gas tax, we must also think about how to replace it with something more sustainable,” Blumenauer said Tuesday. “The best candidate would be the vehicle mile traveled fee being explored by pilot projects in Oregon and implemented there on a voluntary basis next year.”
Because, you know, taxpayers paid for the highways, taxpayers have funded the maintenance of the highways and now they should pay for the privilege of driving on them as well. So, many single moms, who can barely afford gas for the car, will likely be paying by the mile to go to work (as with most of these stupid schemes, the one’s who can afford it the least will get hit the hardest by it).
Brilliant! Aw, what the heck, they can take public transportation, huh?
And what about privacy? What business is it of government how far you drive. One assumes they’ll be able to verify your mileage somehow, no? Do you really think it will be up to you to voluntarily keep records and report to the government? Of course not. So somehow the system has to be able to track you and tally mileage.
In 2011, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a study that explored how a VMT system might work. That report suggested devices could be fitted onto cars that log how far they have traveled, and these devices could be electronically read at gas stations to general tax bills for drivers.
That’s what I want … a government tracking device on my car.
Where’s Orwell when you need him?
First let me thank all the great QandO readers who sent their condolences upon my brother’s passing. They are greatly appreciated.
Now on to the nasty business of government and politics – in particular, the abominable law called ObamaCare:
An estimated seven out of every 10 physicians in deep-blue California are rebelling against the state’s Obamacare health insurance exchange and won’t participate, the head of the state’s largest medical association said.
“It doesn’t surprise me that there’s a high rate of nonparticipation,” said Dr. Richard Thorp, president of the California Medical Association.
Why? Because doctors refuse to work for a pittance. They provide something of value and believe they should be compensated accordingly. But with price fixing by the government, they’re just not going to get their just compensation. So they’re not going to play the game and join in.
California offers one of the lowest government reimbursement rates in the country — 30 percent lower than federalMedicare payments. And reimbursement rates for some procedures are even lower.
In other states, Medicare pays doctors $76 for return-office visits. But in California, Medi-Cal’s reimbursement is $24, according to Dr. Theodore M. Mazer, a San Diego ear, nose and throat doctor.
In other states, doctors receive between $500 to $700 to perform a tonsillectomy. In California, they get $160, Mazer added.
Only in September did insurance companies disclose that their rates would be pegged to California’s Medicaid plan, called Medi-Cal. That’s driven many doctors to just say no.
In fact, as pointed out above, only 30% of the state’s doctors have opted in.
Gee, let’s see the left take the doctor’s side here, okay? Aren’t they the ones always wanting the raise the “minimum wage”. Well, as is obvious here, the “wage” offered is below the “minimum” doctors believe they should be payed. The left ought to be out in the street in protest of this travesty.
Higher pay for doctors! After all, most of them are small business owners and … oh, wait, that makes them the bad guys. I forgot. The left isn’t going to protest this because these guys are privileged or something. Nevermind the fact they provide jobs for others and can’t pay them more than they receive.
I’m sure trying to think this through and come to an equitable solution will shred a few brains on the left.
This week, Michael and Dale talk about Nelson Mandela and police militarization.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
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This will be a catch-up entry, as I was unable to do yesterday’s statistics, due to my evening management class.
Only about 10 chain stores still post monthly results any more. Mostly, they report a weak November.
Layoff announcements continue to run at 2-year highs, at 45,314 in November vs 45,730 in October.
Gallup’s US Payroll to Population employment rate was steady at 43.7%.
The first revision of Q3 GDP came it at a 3.6% annualized rate. Sadly, this was almost all due to inventory accumulation. Final sales were actually revised downwards to 1.9%. The GDP price index came in at 2.0%.
Weekly initial jobless claims fell 23,000 to 298,000. The 4-week moving average fell 9,500 to 322,250. Continuing claims fell 21,000 to a recovery low of 2.744 million.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 2 points to -31.3 this week.
Factory Orders fell -0.9% in October. Ex-transportation orders were unchanged.
The Fed’s balance sheet rose $6.8 billion last week, with total assets of $3.933 trillion. Reserve Bank credit increased $2.2 billion.
The Fed reports that M2 Money Supply increased by $15.4 billion last week.
The BLS reports that 203,000 net new jobs, while the unemployment rate fell to 7.0%. Average hourly earnings rose 0.2%, while the average workweek rose 0.1 hours to 34.5 hours. The labor force participation rate rose 0.2% to 63%, as an additional 818,000 persons entered the labor force. The number of unemployed fell by –365,000, while the number of persons not in the labor force fell by -268,000. Using the historical average labor force participation rate, the real rate of unemployment is 11.54%.
The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment index for December rose a sharp 7.4 points to 82.5.
Consumer credit rose a sharp $18.2 billion in October.
There’s been much discussion amongst the punditry about the precipitous decline in Pres. Obama’s poll numbers. The fact that his RCP average has dropped below 40% for the first time, or that Hispanics and white women have seemingly soured on Obama and the Democrats, is causing much buzz. Most alarming, are the numbers on millenials:
Young Americans are turning against Barack Obama and Obamacare, according to a new survey of millennials, people between the ages of 18 and 29 who are vital to the fortunes of the president and his signature health care law.
The most startling finding of Harvard University’s Institute of Politics: A majority of Americans under age 25–the youngest millennials–would favor throwing Obama out of office.
Obama’s approval rating among young Americans is just 41 percent, down 11 points from a year ago, and now tracking with all adults. While 55 percent said they voted for Obama in 2012, only 46 percent said they would do so again.
When asked if they would want to recall various elected officials, 45 percent of millennials said they would oust their member of Congress; 52 percent replied “all members of Congress” should go; and 47 percent said they would recall Obama. The recall-Obama figure was even higher among the youngest millennials, ages 18 to 24, at 52 percent.
To be sure, these numbers don’t bode well for the survival of Obamacare, or for the Democrats chances in 2014. But I don’t think they necessarily mean that the GOP will reap the benefits.
For example, with respect to younger voters, Kristen Soltis Anderson makes some interesting points over at The Daily Beast:
The way young voters feel about Obama doesn’t just matter in 2014 or even 2016. Despite the conventional wisdom that young voters don’t matter in politics, the way a voter first looks at politics when they come of age resonates throughout their voting behavior through their lifetimes. Just last month, Pew Research Center released a study showing that if you came of age under Nixon, you’re more likely to vote Democratic, even to this day. Came of age during the Reagan years? You’re still more likely to lean Republican.
Harvard rolled out a chart of party identification by age, which showed that in November 2009, some 43 percent of those aged 18-24 called themselves Democrats. Four years later, that has fallen to 31 percent. A huge drop to be sure, but that doesn’t mean people were necessarily changing their minds; it mostly means last election cycle’s bright-eyed kiddo has had a few birthdays. Our gender and race don’t change much year to year, but each of us is constantly moving up in our age bracket. And sure enough, when you look at the Harvard survey’s 25-29 year olds, they’re as Democratic as ever.
That doesn’t mean that this block of voters won’t ever change their minds and views, but it does suggest that, however low their opinion of the Democrats and their leader is now, they are more likely to remain loyal to that party and change it from within.
Another way to look at this is, those who voted for Obama because they wanted to see the ACA enacted and implemented, among other changes he promised, are going to suddenly change their minds about state vs. market solutions just because of a failed implementation. If anything, they are likely to seek out more capable technocrats as their political leaders, and to express greater interest in single-payer health care.
Even so, Anderson makes another great point, i.e. that not all millenials are the same:
To better understand what’s happening with today’s “youth vote,” first consider this fact: someone who turned eighteen on election day last year would have been just six years old on September 11, 2001. They would have been eighth graders during Obama’s first election.
I’ll violate some rules of decorum here by revealing my age: I am 29 years old. I’m a few short months away from aging out of “the youth vote” entirely. And I have about as much in common with today’s high school seniors as I do with my own parents. We researchers and pundits lump 18-year-olds and 29-year-olds into the same bucket when we talk about the “youth vote,” but the truth is that the back end of the “Millennial” generation has little memory of “hope and change” at all.
In short, provided that the GOP can deliver a compelling alternative to the Democrats, it’s possible that they can pick up some of those young voters. Of course, they aren’t called the stupid party for nothing, so don’t expect much on this front.
Thanks to the government shutdown, there were two new home sales reports issued today, one for September and one for October. New home sales fell -6.6% in September to a 354,000 annual rate. New home sales rose dramatically in October, up 25.4% to a very solid 444,000 annual rate.
The US trade deficit narrowed by $1.2 billion in October, to $-40.6 billion, mainly on a 1.8% rebound in exports.
The Fed’s Beige Book report on the economy concludes that "the economy continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace from early October through mid-November." So, basically, below-trend economic growth continues.
The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index fell -1.5 points to 53.9 in November.
MBA Mortgage Applications fell -12.8% last week, with purchases down -4.0% and re-fis down -18.0%.
ADP reports that private payroll growth was higher than expected in November, with an estimated 215,000 net new jobs.
Gallup’s Job Creation Index rose 1 point to 20 in November.
A primary reason for structuring our government with the checks and balances it has was to prevent a concentration of power. The POTUS was specifically limited because of the position’s duties, and the danger exercising them could mean to the freedom of the people. America didn’t want a king. Well, we may gotten one anyway.
The House of Representatives held a hearing yesterday on the Obama Administration’s exercise (or non-exercise) of it powers, and asked whether or not the Executive branch was properly following the “take care” clause of the Constitution. AllahPundit provides some commentary on the hearing, focusing Prof. Jonathan Turley’s testimony:
If you have time for only one snippet, though, skip to 2:33:00 for his list of Obama’s five most egregious violations of separation of powers. Some are familiar to you — declaring that he wouldn’t deport illegals who might qualify for DREAM, refusing to enforce the employer mandate, etc — but the ones about him shifting money around without regard to how Congress has appropriated it might not be. Turley makes two valuable points here. One: Courts tend to give the executive a wide berth in separation-of-powers challenges on the theory that Congress has the power of the purse and can defund any executive agency it likes. But that’s not true anymore, he says. Obama, by defying appropriations, has claimed some of that power for himself. What check does Congress have left? That brings us to point two: Even if Congress can’t stop Obama, the courts can. The problem there, though, says Turley, is that O and the DOJ have argued successfully in many cases that no one has standing to sue him because no one can show an injury from his power grabs that’s concrete enough to justify a federal lawsuit. So the courts can’t check him either.
The only check left, it would seem, is through elections. Which isn’t a check at all on a term-limited President. Of course, there’s always the impeachment route, but that doesn’t seem likely (despite what some in the media think). Turley thinks it’s not even being considered:
Now, I was the lead witness but I was testifying in through the haze of a raging flu. So I went back and checked. Impeachment was mentioned in passing but it was quickly discounted. Indeed, I specifically testified that, as someone who testified at the Clinton impeachment, I did not view such a measure as warranted given the ambiguity of past decisions. Indeed, the references to impeachment were made in the context of the loss of meaningful options for Congress to respond to such encroachments when the President reserved the right to suspend portions of laws and fought access to the courts in challenging such decisions. Yet, the Post simply reported that the word impeachment came up (not surprisingly) in a discussion of the options given by Framers to Congress in dealing with unlawful presidential conduct.
During the hearing, not only did I discount impeachment as an option, but a Democratic member specifically asked the panel about the references to impeachment. No one could remember how it came up but it was clear that no one thought it was a substantial issue — or significant part of the hearing.
In a discussion of checks on the presidency, impeachment is one of the enumerated options given to Congress. Notably, past judicial opinions involving such separation of powers controversies have also discussed impeachment with the power of the purse as devices given to the Congress. In discussing impeachment with these other powers, courts were not advocating impeachment or suggesting that it was a viable solution in that given case.
In the end, since the Senate is held by the same party as the President, impeachment isn’t a serious option. But the Obama Administration’s unwillingness to faithfully execute the laws passed by Congress remains a serious issue. At this point, the only options left would seem to be either shutting the government down, or refusing to pass any new laws since the POTUS won’t execute them anyway. And whither goes the Republic.
Motor vehicle sales were much higher than expectations, at an annual sales rate of 16.4 million units. Sales increases from last year: GM 14%, Ford 7.2%, Chrysler 16%, Toyota 10.1%, Nissan 10.7%, Honda -0.1%, Subaru 29.9%, Hyundai 5.0%, Kia 1.3%, Audi 13.4%, BMW, -0.4%, VW -16.3%, Mazda -4.5%, Mitsubishi 69.9%, Jaguar/Land Rover 37%.
In weekly retail sales, Redbook showed 4.9% annual sales growth, while ICSC-Goldman showed a -2.8% drop for the week, and only a 2.5% annual increase.
The Gallup Economic Confidence Index rose from -35 to -25 in November.
I lost my best friend last night. My brother, Doug, passed away in his sleep. He was two years younger than me, but had been in ill health for quite some time. That’s one reason i moved him down here near me. He and I grew up together and always had each other’s back. I’ll miss him.
So I won’t be blogging for a few days. I’m sure the other regulars will fill in as necessary.