Daily Archives: April 16, 2010
This graph puts initial unemployment claims over the past five months in perspective. Click to enlarge.
Yes the Democrats have apparently decided that they should focus like a laser beam on … climate change legislation? Given the post below, I’m sure Pat Cauddell and Doug Schoen are soaking their heads right about now.
According to Reuters the Kerry/Lieberman/Graham bill aimed at reducing carbon output is to be introduced April 26th.
President Barack Obama has made climate change one of his top priorities and took steps recently to show Republicans he was serious, including expanding federal aid for building nuclear power facilities and allowing more domestic offshore oil drilling — initiatives to be included in the Senate compromise.
So there are the payoffs for GOP support. How far any of the work necessary to hasten the building of nuke plants or drilling offshore actually comes to fruition is most likely not a priority with the administration. It’s a payoff for support. Whether the GOP will be as gullible as much of the voting public was in 2008 remains to be seen, but my gut says “yes”.
Kerry, Lieberman and Graham have been working for months on a global warming compromise significantly different from a measure passed last year by the House of Representatives and a bill approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. It also takes many elements from those bills. Like the House-passed bill and Obama administration policy, it would set a target of 17 percent reductions in smokestack emissions of carbon dioxide by 2020, from 2005 levels. Point Carbon, an energy markets consulting service, estimated the anticipated Senate bill would result in U.S. gasoline prices rising an average of 27 cents a gallon from 2013 to 2020. The bill is expected to contain a fee on motor fuels.
Got it – tax increase of an average 27 cents per gallon. Don’t you love how they tapdance around saying “tax”? It’s a freakin’ tax, not a “fee”. And a very nonprogressive tax to boot that will hit those that can afford it least the hardest. But its called a “fee” so Obama can continue to claim you taxes won’t go up ” one dime”.
Also note that the Senate bill is radically different from the House bill, even though Reuters tries to minimize the differences. You have to wonder how much of an impediment that will be to passage (hopefully a large one). And then, of course, there are all the legislators from coal and oil producing states to contend with.
Moving on, and in my best Billy Mays voice – but wait there’s more:
It would also end state and regional carbon-trading programs, such as the one several Northeastern states participate in, to be replaced by a national carbon reduction policy. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, with 10 participating states from Vermont to Maryland, has raised over $582 million for state efficiency and climate programs, said Environment Northeast, a Boston research group. Peter Shattuck, a carbon markets policy analyst there, said shutting the program could create concerns among the states over lost revenues. A group of nine senators, mostly from Midwestern manufacturing states, urged Kerry, Graham and Lieberman in a letter on Thursday to take into account jobs in their states.
OK, lost jobs. Wow – what a surprise. I’m not here to defend carbon-trading programs but it seems ironic that a climate bill aimed at reducing carbon will put carbon trading programs out of business and cost jobs. In a recession. Wait – aren’t those “green jobs?” Heh …
And if you read the article, they’re very nebulous about how they’re going to enforce this “17% reduction in carbon”. We see the “fee” on motor fuel. But they continue to skirt the issue of how one manages this 17% reduction and what it will cost. But reading other sources prior to this, I’ve seen a carbon tax on utilities discussed as the main source of enforcement – a “cap-and-trade” light was how one referred to it. Obviously if it is a tax on utilities, you can up the cost of just about everything you buy since they all require the power generated by utilities. And you can add that to the motor fuel “fee” you’ll be paying if this is passed as well.
The closest Reuters gets to saying this is:
Like the House-passed bill and Obama administration policy, it would set a target of 17 percent reductions in smokestack emissions of carbon dioxide by 2020, from 2005 levels.
“Smokestack emissions”. You can figure it out from there I imagine.
So is there anything – anything at all good in the bill? Well yes:
On Wednesday, a Senate source told Reuters the legislation would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide emissions.
But you don’t need the rest of this bill to do that.
Last, but not least, Reuters throws this in to justify the heavy focus on this vs. jobs, the economy or the deficit:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported on Thursday the world’s combined land and ocean surface temperatures in March were the hottest on record.
I apparently missed all the heat (well, except that generated by my heating system) as did most of Europe. But hey, the science is settled, we all know NOAA’s numbers are perfect and irrefutable and so it is damn the facts, full speed ahead.
That’s essentially the message Democratic pollsters Pat Cauddell and Doug Schoen send the Democrats in their Washington Post piece today. In fact that’s not “essentially the message”, it is the message. They begin by pointing out that Congressional Democrats have been deaf, dumb and blind to what is important to the American people. And, as they remind the Dems, it isn’t health care reform:
Recent polling shows that despite lofty predictions that a broad-based Democratic constituency would be activated by the bill’s passage, the bill has been an incontrovertible disaster. The most recent Rasmussen Reports poll, released on April 12, shows that 58 percent of the electorate supports a repeal of the health-care reform bill — up from 54 percent two weeks earlier. Fueling this backlash is concern that health-care reform will drive up health costs and expand the role of government, and the belief that passage was achieved by fundamentally anti-democratic means.
Put simply, there has been no bounce, for the president or his party, from passing health care.
Certainly no mincing of words there. Cauddell and Schoen go on to point out the present position of Democrats is precarious at best:
Monday’s Gallup report showed the president’s weekly job approval rating at a low of 47 percent. And as the Democratic Party’s favorability has dropped to 41 percent — the lowest in Gallup’s 18-year history of measuring it — this week’s Rasmussen Reports survey shows the Republican Party with a nine-point lead in the generic congressional vote. Moreover, independents, who are more energized than Democrats, are leaning Republican by a 2-to-1 margin.
So there, in a nutshell, is the hole Democrats have managed to dig for themselves in one short year. There are whispers going around of a 100 seat GOP turnover in the House being possible and Ron Paul – Ron Paul – is tied with Obama in another poll. Interesting times but not particularly good ones for the donkophiles.
The key to electoral salvation? Well it isn’t what you might expect, but it makes sense:
To turn a corner, Democrats need to start embracing an agenda that speaks to the broad concerns of the American electorate. It should be somewhat familiar: It is the agenda that is driving the Tea Party movement and one that has the capacity to motivate a broadly based segment of the electorate.
One small problem (and Cauddell and Schoen sort of acknowledge it) – the Democrats, to include many serving Congressional Representatives, have expended enormous time and energy in demonizing those who are in and identify with the Tea Parties.
Now certainly, what Cauddell and Schoen advise the Democrats to do isn’t unusual or bad advice. Co-opting the ideas of others is how the two-party system has managed to maintain itself without a third party being able to establish itself. But the Democrats have a very hard job ahead of them if they plan on suddenly playing nice-nice with the TP and adopting their agenda. It will, at this point, be seen as political expediency deployed reluctantly to help Democrats hold of the GOP hordes taking over the House.
But the broader message Cauddell and Schoen put out there is absolutely true. The way you win elections is to influence the “swing voters”, and to do that you have to tap into and support the issues that are important to them. The way to defuse the TP is to adopt their agenda – and as Caudell and Schoen lay it out, they feel that’s something the Democrats can do if they’ll just back off resisting the TP and embrace the following:
The swing voters, who are key to the fate of the Democratic Party, care most about three things: reigniting the economy, reducing the deficit and creating jobs.
These voters are outraged by the seeming indifference of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats, who they believe wasted a year on health-care reform. These voters will not tolerate more diversion from their pressing economic concerns. They view the Obama administration as working systematically to protect the interests of public-sector employees and organized labor — by offering specific benefits such as pension protection and tax reductions at the expense of all taxpayers.
Democrats must understand that voters will not accept seeing their tax dollars used to pay for higher wages and better benefits for public-sector employees when they themselves are getting higher taxes and lower wages.
So – economy, deficit and jobs and back off the unions now, unions forever perception (i.e. tell organized labor to keep a low profile).
Yeah – not going to happen. The Dems have absolutely no idea of how to stimulate economic growth or create jobs – at least none that fits their ideology. Tax cuts, a settled business environment that isn’t concerned about the impact of pending legislation, etc. In other words, lower the cost of doing business as much as possible from the end government controls. Instead we see money pumped into extending unemployment benefits and thereby worsening the second important concern of the TP – deficit. Democrats are now focused on regulating Wall Street which does not settle the business environment and or stimulate job growth.
And, of course, Obama in the White House and a Democratic Congress in session equals unionized labor’s promised day. And their priority is “card check” – another priority which doesn’t address the big three TP concerns (and three concerns I think it is safe to say most Americans would put at the top of their list).
Cauddell and Schoen conclude:
Winning over swing voters will require a bold, new focus from the president and his party. They must adopt an agenda aimed at reducing the debt, with an emphasis on tax cuts, while implementing carefully crafted initiatives to stimulate and encourage job creation.
Democrats can avoid the electoral bloodbath we predicted before passage of the health-care bill, but in one way: through a bold commitment to fiscal discipline and targeted fiscal stimulus of the private sector and entrepreneurship.
It was at this point I began to laugh. Not at Cauddell and Schoen – they’re right. But at the spectacle of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid pushing fiscal discipline, tax cuts and stimulating the private sector and entrepreneurship (while deserting unions and public-sector employees) is so outlandish that it provoked my involuntary outburst of laughter.
If what Cauddell and Schoen say is correct (and I think it is), Democrats are screwed in November.
I’m sure you’ve noticed the pattern – when unemployment figures show an increase in jobs, even a tiny one, administration figures can’t wait to find a microphone to announce that things are finally turning around. When “unexpectedly” bad numbers show up, they want to talk about other things. This happens to be one of those weeks:
In the week ending April 10, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 484,000, an increase of 24,000 from the previous week’s unrevised figure of 460,000. The 4-week moving average was 457,750, an increase of 7,500 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 450,250.
Now I’m not saying that’s abnormal or something only this administration does, but given the extent and duration of the unemployment situation, increases in the number of unemployed should be unexpected. And while any increase in jobs is to be seen as a positive sign, until there are multiple months above the + 140,000 level, we aren’t adding any jobs. That number is seen as what is necessary to maintain an employment rate percentage. So even to maintain a 9.7% unemployment percentage we need that monthly positive number to do so. The point being, reports like the one above indicate we may see that 9.7% rate nudge upward soon.
Lastly, one of the reasons many experts expect this to be a jobless recovery is because of its length. Companies who shed jobs over a year ago and have survived and may even be starting to thrive a bit are going to think very hard before they put more labor on. If they’ve been able to function efficiently – i.e. if their productivity has increased (and thereby their profit) with a reduced staff, they’re very likely to maintain their staffing at present levels. If they hire it won’t be until they absolutely have too (driven by a significant increase in business) but that could be months if not years away.
Certainly not a rosy picture.