Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 31 Oct 13

Initial jobless claims fell 10,000 last week, to 340,000. The 4-week moving average rose 8,000 to 356,250. Continuing claims rose 31,000 to 2.881 million.

The Chicago PMI accelerated sharply in October to 65.9 from the previous month’s 55.7.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -1.5 points to -37.6.

Farm prices rose 0.5% in October, but on a year-over-year basis were down -11%.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $4.4 billion last week, with total assets of $3.843 trillion. Reserve Bank credit increased $12.9 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 Money Supply increased by $55.9 billion last week.


Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Assessing the worst presidency in history

Okay, maybe I’m jumping the gun, but I lived through Jimmy Carter, and I’d take that mess again in a heartbeat over the one we’re currently living through.

It’s always interesting to read what is being said about Obama and the Democrats, especially by some of the usual cheerleaders for that bunch.  Here’s Michael O’Brien of NBC News:

“President Barack Obama’s seemingly hands-off management style is raising fresh questions and concerns that could upend his second-term legacy. Claims by the administration and other Democrats that Obama didn’t know about sensitive matters in his own administration — such as problems with the health care website and revelations of National Security Agency surveillance on foreign leaders — have many in Washington scratching their heads.”

More: “Even Democratic allies of the administration question why Obama didn’t know about the serious problems, and express concern about his personal response. ‘I think he might have been better off by standing up and saying this happened up on my watch and take responsibility for it. I think that’s better than saying he didn’t know,’ said veteran Democratic strategist Bob Shrum. ‘I think people expect the president, on his signature program, to be on top of it.’”

“Confronted with missteps in his own administration, President Barack Obama has frequently pleaded ignorance — suggesting he could not be at fault about things he did not know,” AP writes. “It’s an argument with clear benefits but also inherent risks for the White House. Used too often, the tactic emboldens critics who claim the president is incompetent, detached and not fully in control. Eager to protect Obama’s time and concentration, his aides deliberate intensively about what to tell the president, current and former White House officials said. His advisers act as a triage team for an endless flood of information coming into the White House, continually making decisions about which snippets of data Obama might need.”

“Upend his second-term legacy?”  Yeah, that’s what is important … his legacy.  And if I had to guess, his legacy is not going to be one any president would want to claim.

Secondly, his “hands-off management style” isn’t that at all – it’s a lack of leadership.  The man isn’t a leader in any sense of the word.  He hasn’t a clue how to lead.  He’s a petulant autocrat who fumes when he doesn’t get his way and blames everyone but himself when his programs fail.

Finally, he’s Richard Nixon II – out of touch and surrounded with advisors who are afraid to tell him the truth.  That’s what all that “triage” nonsense is about.  His advisors filter incoming information and then spin what they want him to see as positively as possible.  He’s in the bunker and thinks he has more divisions than he really does, if the analogy makes any sense to you.

Oh, and his approval ratings are at an all time low.  What we’re watching is the implosion of a presidency, such that it was.  If there’s anything positive about it, Barack Obama has finally proven the Peter Principle to be false.  He certainly rose well above his level of competency.  That would be funny if he was in any other job.  Instead, it’s just plain dangerous.

Meanwhile the Vice President’s clown car continues to roll: merrily on its way:

“Neither he and I are technology geeks, and we assumed that it was up and ready to run.”

Because, you know, leaders always assume and never check.  That’s how they become so successful.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 30 Oct 13

The MBA reports that a dip in rates caused mortgage applications to rise 6.4% last week, with purchases up 2.0% and re-fis 9.0%.

ADP reports a smaller-than-expected rise in private payroll growth, at 130,000 in October, a disappointing number.

The Treasury reported a big $75.1 billion surplus in the month of September. This points to a substantially lower 2013 deficit.

The CPI rose 0.2% in September, with the core rate up 0.1%. On a year-over-year basis, consumer prices are up 1.2% overall, and up 1.7% ex-food and -energy.


Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Accountability–an unknown word in DC

Or so it seems.

Tell me, if a senior executive of any corporation had rolled out a product that was as bad as the ObamaCare website and had caused as much embarrassment and grief for the corporation as this roll out has produced for this administration, would they likely still be employed by the corporation?

Oh, I’m sure you can think of some “lifeboat” instance where it might happen, but for the most part, they’d have been sent packing immediately after the depth of their non-performance was ascertained. 

But not in this government.  I’m of the opinion that Kathleen Sebelius must have Obama’s college transcripts or something to still be employed.  That said, pressure for her ouster continues to build:

It’s Kathleen Sebelius’s turn now. On the Hill, they’re calling for her resignation and tossing around words like “subpoena.” Pundits are merrily debating her future. (She’s toast! Or is Obama too loyal to fire her so soon?) Her interviews, more closely parsed than usual, seem wobbly. Though never a colorful presence on the political scene, she’s suddenly a late-night TV punch line.

And on Wednesday morning, the embattled secretary of health and human services will submit to a quintessential station of the Washington deathwatch — testifying before a congressional committee — to discuss her agency’s failings in the botched rollout of the federal health-insurance Web site.

Granted, this is only part of the on-going debacle that is the Affordable Care Act, aka “ObamaCare”.  And while it will, in years to come, be cited as the perfect example of ineptitude coupled with incompetence, it isn’t the big problem right now.  The big problem, as pointed out yesterday, is the country was purposely lied too in order to garner enough support to push this monstrosity through Congress and make it law.

Lied too.  Point blank and with a smile.  Jonah Goldberg shares my opinion of Obama’s lie and goes a century or two more:

And that lie looks like the biggest lie about domestic policy ever uttered by a U.S. president.

Ever.  For those of you who want to cite Clinton, Nixon or some other president, Goldberg points out:

The most famous presidential lies have to do with misconduct (Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” or Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations”) or war. Woodrow Wilson campaigned on the slogan “He kept us out of war” and then plunged us into a calamitous war. Franklin D. Roosevelt made a similar vow: “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”

Roosevelt knew he was making false promises. He explained to an aide: “If someone attacks us, it isn’t a foreign war, is it?” When his own son questioned his honesty, FDR replied: “If I don’t say I hate war, then people are going to think I don’t hate war. . . . If I don’t say I won’t send our sons to fight on foreign battlefields, then people will think I want to send them. . . . So you play the game the way it has been played over the years, and you play to win.”

Is that the case with Obama? Lying in order to pass some cherished legislation which won’t at all do what you promise it will do is “the game” and in politics, justifies “playing to win”?

Or is it, much more simply, damn the truth, the ends justify the means?

Yeah, that’s how I see it too.

As for accountability for the Obama lie, don’t hold your breath.  Sebelius may end up biting the bullet.  But the buck won’t even slow down at Obama’s desk.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 29 Oct 13

In weekly retail sales, Redbook reports a 3.6% increase from the previous year. ICSC-Goldman reports a weekly sales drop of -0.4%, and a 2.2% increase on a year-over-year basis.

Producer prices fell -0.1% in September, but were up 0.1% at the core level. On a year-over-year basis, the PPI rose 0.3% overall, but up 1.2% at the core.

September retail sales fell -0.1% overall. Sales ex-autos were up 0.4%, and ex-auto and -gas sales were up 0.4% as well.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index rose 0.9% in August, the first monthly increase since April.

Business inventories rose 0.3% in August, while a 0.4% rise in sales kept the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged at 2.90 for the third consecutive month.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index slumped to 71.2 in October from last month’s 79.9.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index fell to 95.7 in October from 101.4 in September.


Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Lying liars and the lying liars who support them

I’m not one to use the word “liar” much since I consider it’s definition to be very specific, i.e. telling something you know to be false.

However, in the case of the ObamaCare lie – and that’s what it was when President Obama said “if you like your insurance, you can keep it” – I call it what it is.  And there’s no question about it now.

What I hate worse than a liar is someone who tries to rationalize or explain away a lie.  Like Steny Hoyer:

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer conceded to reporters today that Democrats knew people would not be able to keep their current health care plans under Obamacare and expressed qualified contrition for President Obama’s repeated vows to the contrary.

“We knew that there would be some policies that would not qualify and therefore people would be required to get more extensive coverage,” Hoyer said in response to a question from National Review.

Asked by another reporter how repeated statements by Obama to the contrary weren’t “misleading,” Hoyer said “I don’t think the message was wrong. I think the message was accurate. It was not precise enough…[it] should have been caveated with – ‘assuming you have a policy that in fact does do what the bill is designed to do.’”

So it was a lie to begin with, no one spoke up and now the lying liars are trying to spin the result.  You weren’t just misled – you were LIED too.  Purposely.  And shamelessly.

Welcome to politics and government today.  Utter disgust doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about the whole institution.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

ObamaCare – it just keeps getting better and better

Or not:

16 million people are now receiving letters from their carriers saying they are losing their current coverage and must re-enroll in order to avoid a break in coverage and comply with the new health law’s benefit mandates––the vast majority by January 1.

And how many have managed to enroll?  Well it appears that number is in the thousands, and as we mentioned on the podcast last night, most of those are enrolling in Medicaid.

Meanwhile, the failed law continues to impact the lives of fellow citizens negatively.

New Jersey:

Hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans opened the mail last week to find their health insurance plan would no longer exist in 2014 because it does not cover all the essential benefits required by the Affordable Care Act. … The changes will impact more than 800,000 people in New Jersey who purchase insurance on the individual and small-employer markets, according to Ward Sanders, president of the New Jersey Association of Health Plans.

Florida:

Florida Blue is dropping 300,000 customers whose policies the health insurer says aren’t sufficiently comprehensive under the health care overhaul. The Jacksonville-based insurance company said Thursday that the 300,000 policyholders have plans that don’t include all of the 10 categories of benefits required under the Affordable Care Act.

California:

Kaiser Permanente in California has sent notices to 160,000 people – about half of its individual business in the state. … Blue Shield of California sent roughly 119,000 cancellation notices out in mid-September, about 60 percent of its individual business.

Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC:

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield is being forced to cancel plans that currently cover 76,000 individuals in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., due to changes made by President Obama’s health care law, the company told the Washington Examiner today. That represents more than 40 percent of the 177,000 individuals covered by CareFirst in those states.

Pennsylvania and surrounding regions:

Independence Blue Cross is canceling coverage for 24,000 members in the Philadelphia region because their insurance plans don’t comply with new rules from the Affordable Care Act, Newsworks reported.

[…]

Insurer Highmark in Pittsburgh is dropping about 20 percent of its individual market customers, while Independence Blue Cross, the major insurer in Philadelphia, is dropping about 45 percent.

And these are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  16 million dumped after they were promised what?

“If you like your current plan, you will be able to keep it. Let me repeat that:  if you like your plan, you’ll be able to keep it.”

Because, you remember, that was a MAJOR FEATURE of ObamaCare:

“In fact, one of our core principles is that if you like the health care you have, you can keep it.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.8642, 8/3/09)

Ah yes, the lying liars that brought us the biggest lie of the 21st century to date.

“All we’ve been hearing the last three years is if you like your policy you can keep it… I’m infuriated because I was lied to.”

How’s it feel to have been “had” this badly?

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 27 Oct 13

This week, Bruce, Michael and Dale discuss Obamacare and the end of antibiotics.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Buy Dale’s Books!