One of the things I’ve been saying for months is the Tea Party is not just a reaction to Obama and his agenda (although both he and his agenda have just continued to add to a decline in public trust and satisfaction in government). The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press published a chart that makes that point well:
The present slide, in both trust in government and satisfaction with the nation began in about 2003 – one would guess about the time of the invasion of Iraq. Note that at that time trust in government was at an all time high. But the erosion of that trust and satisfaction in the nation, began a pretty steep slide at that point. Note too that satisfaction with the nation (i.e. the nation headed in the right direction) took a brief turn upward with the election of Barack Obama but then swiftly turned south again. Presently both indicators at near all time lows.
Note as well that the last time the indicators were in the same area was 1994 when Democrats were power and after a precipitous decline from the Bush I administration that continued through the first two years of the Clinton administration. Also consider that when the trust numbers again began to rise after ’94, the GOP was attempting to pass the Contract with America (aimed at some of the present Tea Party goals) and were ending “welfare as we know it”.
Some would argue that the political stars are aligning precisely as they did in ’94 which saw a resounding GOP victory. The situation, via the graph, certainly seems similar. But is it really? A couple of key paragraphs may disabuse one of that notion:
The public’s hostility toward government seems likely to be an important election issue favoring the Republicans this fall. However, the Democrats can take some solace in the fact that neither party can be confident that they have the advantage among such a disillusioned electorate. Favorable ratings for both major parties, as well as for Congress, have reached record lows while opposition to congressional incumbents, already approaching an all-time high, continues to climb.
The Tea Party movement, which has a small but fervent anti-government constituency, could be a wild card in this election. On one hand, its sympathizers are highly energized and inclined to vote Republican this fall. On the other, many Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say the Tea Party represents their point of view better than does the GOP.
This indicates the dissatisfaction isn’t necessarily partisan. That is the dissatisfaction with the state of the nation and the decline in public trust haven’t been driven exclusively by Obama and his agenda. As you can see, both indicators were in rapid decline well before Obama was a glint on the political horizon. What has happened is a over the past 10 or so years, the political culture within the country has begun to shift. More and more awareness of the impact, intrusion and cost of government has reached a broader audience. Our technology and connectedness has indeed had a political impact. And the numbers you see on the chart are partially a result of that.
So while Obama is the man in the hot seat at the moment, he isn’t the only reason for this general feeling of distrust and dissatisfaction. This has been brewing for some time – years in fact. It just reached a critical point – a “turn out in the streets” point – when TARP, bailouts, takeovers and trillion dollar deficits came so fast and furious that it could no longer be ignored or glossed over. Government is out of control, the Tea Party is simply a manifestation of the general dissatisfaction with government. Neither party is immune from the voters ire this November because they recognize both got the nation in this position. The only advantage the GOP holds is they are marginally recognized as the fiscally conservative/small government party (why, after the Bush years, is anyone ‘s guess). That’s why they hold a lead in most Congressional polling. But I wouldn’t call it a solid lead at this point. The Pew study makes it clear that many out there see the TP as what the GOP isn’t – truly committed to fiscal conservacy and small government. In other words, a significant portion of potential GOP voters don’t trust the GOP anymore than they do the Democrats although the GOP should be the party of choice for them (if one is to believe the principles they espouse).
The point – if the GOP wants to take and hold the reigns of power at a national level, they had better not only talk the talk (something they’re very good at) but also, once given the opportunity, walk the walk (something they are very poor at doing and the reason -although they don’t seem to understand it – they continue to get bounced out of power).
Rather than an activist government to deal with the nation’s top problems, the public now wants government reformed and growing numbers want its power curtailed. With the exception of greater regulation of major financial institutions, there is less of an appetite for government solutions to the nation’s problems – including more government control over the economy – than there was when Barack Obama first took office.
Figure it out boys and girls – here’s the ticket. Accept it, internalize it, run on it and then do it. If they don’t then the cycle you see above in the chart will only repeat.
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In this podcast, Bruce, Michael and Dale discuss the state of the economy, Tea Parties, and the Democtrats’ approach to politics. The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.
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. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.
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It has sort of been an SSDD week for news. Nothing earth-shattering or ground breaking in particular. Tax day came and went. Tea Parties convened and protested. Democrats seem ready to again ignore jobs and the economy to push their favorite ideological agenda items. And unemployment was “unexpectedly” higher. Same Stuff Different Day.
So, we’ll talk a little about unemployment, a little on what in the world the Democrat political strategy is in all of this, maybe why Bill Clinton is so darn sure the Republicans won’t take back either chamber of Congress this fall (but will blow up another federal building … or something) and, if we have time, touch on Obama’s foreign policy as it pertains to Iran and Israel (or the NYT/Gates claim that he really doesn’t have one for Iran … or for that matter, Israel).
The NY Times continues its recent tradition of publishing the contents of secret memos with information from one about our strategy, or lack thereof, for dealing with Iran:
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has warned in a secret three-page memorandum to top White House officials that the United States does not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear capability, according to government officials familiar with the document.
If true, it certainly isn’t unexpected. In fact, the US has spent more time saying what it won’t do (i.e. taking things off the table) than what it will (“serious” sanctions). However it appears that may be changing, finally. If the Times is to be believed (which, anymore, is not an automatic) it is beginning to dawn on the brain trust that a) Iran isn’t at all intimidated by the prospect of sanctions b) feels no serious threat to their intentions and c) doesn’t plan on discontinuing them.
So this memo, if reported correctly, is an apparent effort to ramp up a more coherent and comprehensive approach to dealing with Iran – an actual strategy. And that includes some military options should “diplomacy and sanctions fail to force Iran to change course.”
Is there really anyone out there holding out hope that “diplomacy and sanctions” will have the desired effect?
Of course, and as expected, White House officials deny the absense of a strategy. National security adviser Gen. James Jones claims:
“On Iran, we are doing what we said we were going to do. The fact that we don’t announce publicly our entire strategy for the world to see doesn’t mean we don’t have a strategy that anticipates the full range of contingencies — we do.”
Except -according to the NYT – the Secretary of Defense, certainly someone who would be privy to any military options, doesn’t seem to think we do.
But in his memo, Mr. Gates wrote of a variety of concerns, including the absence of an effective strategy should Iran choose the course that many government and outside analysts consider likely: Iran could assemble all the major parts it needs for a nuclear weapon — fuel, designs and detonators — but stop just short of assembling a fully operational weapon.
In that case, Iran could remain a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty while becoming what strategists call a “virtual” nuclear weapons state.
Then what? Testing nuclear weaponry’s design no longer requires actually detonation of a nuclear device. Sophisticated computer simulations now serve that purpose. So Gates’ point – if he made it – is entirely credible. They could indeed become a “virtual” nuclear state without us ever knowing about it (although I doubt their arrogance would allow the Iranian government to pass up an opportunity to rub the world’s nose in it).
The Times also contends:
According to several officials, the memorandum also calls for new thinking about how the United States might contain Iran’s power if it decided to produce a weapon, and how to deal with the possibility that fuel or weapons could be obtained by one of the terrorist groups Iran has supported, which officials said they considered to be a less-likely possibility.
But if we’re talking the “full range of contingencies” certainly one which has to be taken seriously and for which a strategy has to be formed.
In fact, other than “senior officials” and the NYT, there’s not much to verify the memo exists or the strategy doesn’t. And a Gates spokesman has even gone as far as to claim, in the Secretary’s name, that such a strategy does exit:
“The secretary believes the president and his national security team have spent an extraordinary amount of time and effort considering and preparing for the full range of contingencies with respect to Iran.”
So does the Gates memo actually say what the NYT says it says?
I’m inclined to say yes, despite the statement of the Gates spokesperson because of this:
Mr. Gates’s memo appears to reflect concerns in the Pentagon and the military that the White House did not have a well prepared series of alternatives in place in case all the diplomatic steps finally failed. Separately, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote a “chairman’s guidance” to his staff in December conveying a sense of urgency about contingency planning. He cautioned that a military attack would have “limited results,” but he did not convey any warnings about policy shortcomings.
“Should the president call for military options, we must have them ready,” the admiral wrote.
That clearly indicates that at least Adm. Mullen didn’t believe the strategy included the necessary and appropriate military options. And, as the NYT further reports, that seemed to be confirmed recently in some Senate testimony. Speaking of the military contingencies against Iran, the Times says:
Administration officials testifying before a Senate committee last week made it clear that those preparations were under way. So did General Jones.
So I think it is fair to conclude that Sec. Gates may have written this memo that the NYT is reporting on and, in fact, that there isn’t yet a comprehensive long-range strategy to deal with a nuclear Iran. To translate that a bit more, what that means is the administration’s focus has been almost exclusively on diplomacy and sanctions and Gates is making the case that those don’t appear they will yield the desired results and a more broad spectrum strategy which includes military contingencies be included and seriously considered.
He’s right. But this may also be an effective way to get the word to Iran that time is running out and the military guys are beginning be taken more seriously in discussions about how to react to Iran’s nuclear intransigence.
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I’ve been chuckling my way through this article as it reminds me of a certain denizen of the comment section here. It’s just too freakin’ funny (and accurate) not to share:
Many academics not only envy people with money, but also those who enjoy political authority. Professors are more confident than most that they have the truth and are convinced that, if given the opportunity, they would rule with intelligence, justice, and compassion. The trouble is that few Americans, at least since the time of Andrew Jackson, will vote for intellectuals. (The widespread assumption that Presidents who have Ivy League degrees are intellectuals is highly debatable. The Left declared consistently that George W. Bush, who had diplomas from Yale and Harvard, was mentally challenged. Barak Obama, who was not really a professor, has sealed his academic records.) How many professors run City Hall anywhere? How many would like to? How many humanities and social science professors are consulted when great civic issues are discussed and decided? Who would even invite them to join the Elks?
Instead of steering the machinery of local, state, and national politics, academics are relegated to writing angry articles in journals and websites read by the already converted and pouring their well-considered opinions into the ears of young people who are mostly eager to get drunk, listen to rap, watch ESPN, and find a suitable, or at least willing, bed partner for the night.
On the Left and Right money means power, and we “pointy heads” and “eggheads” are on the outside looking in. One thinks of Arthur Schlesinger Jr swooning over the Kennedys for the rest of his life because they gave him a title and a silent seat in some White House deliberations. Those making as much money as, say, an experienced furnace repairman account for little in this world, despite the PhD. How many academics even sit on the governing board that sets policies for their campus? It is all most humiliating. (To see how intelligently and objectively academics use the authority they have, examine the political correctness the suffocates the employment practices and intellectual lives of almost all American campuses. Aberlour’s Fifth Law: “Political correctness is totalitarianism with a diploma.”)
One way to compensate for this bleak and futureless existence is to become involved in left-wing causes. They give us a sense of identity in a world seemingly owned and operated by Rotarians. And they provide us with hope. In big government we trust, for with the election of sufficiently enlightened officials, we might gain full medical coverage, employment for our children, and good pensions. These same leftist leaders might redistribute income “fairly,” by taking wealth from the “greedy” and giving it to those of us who want more of everything. A “just” world might be created in which sociologists, political scientists, botanists, and romance language professors would achieve the greatness that should be theirs. It’s all a matter of educating the public. And hurling anathemas at people of position and affluence we deeply envy.
Bingo. Those that can, do. And those that can’t … seek tenure.
[HT: Maggies Farm]
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An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about newly elected NJ governor Chis Christie. The Republican, elected in a traditionally blue state, ran as if he’d be a one-termer and laid out the distasteful medicine necessary to put the state’s fiscal house in order. To the surprise of many, he won. He’s now engaged in doing what he said he’d do.
His assessment and conclusion are solid:
“We are, I think, the failed experiment in America—the best example of a failed experiment in America—on taxes and bigger government. Over the last eight years, New Jersey increased taxes and fees 115 times.”
And what has NJ gotten for that?
New Jersey’s residents now suffer under the nation’s highest tax burden. Yet the tax hikes haven’t come close to matching increases in spending. Mr. Christie recently introduced a $29.3 billion state budget to eliminate a projected $11 billion deficit for fiscal year 2011.
Obviously, as must be done in a state which has the nation’s highest tax burden, Christie has laid out a very aggressive plan that cuts spending to eliminate that deficit. And, as you might imagine, the entrenched interests which will see their budget’s cut are almost unanimous in their opposition. Most the opposition comes from government unions, and especially from New Jersey Education Association, the state’s teacher’s union.
And Christie is using a little of the left’s favorite tactics against them:
“I’m a product of public schools in New Jersey,” Mr. Christie explains, “and I have great admiration for people who commit their lives to teaching, but this isn’t about them. This is about a union president who makes $265,000 a year, and her executive director who makes $550,000 a year. This is about a union that has been used to getting its way every time. And they have intimidated governors for the last 30 years.”
Christie is obviously not going to be intimidated. And he’s got the numbers and, apparently, the public behind his effort to pare the educational establishment down to a manageable and affordable size:
While the state lost 121,000 jobs last year, education jobs in local school districts soared by more than 11,000. Over the past eight years, according to Mr. Christie, K-12 student enrollment has increased 3% while education jobs have risen by more than 16%. The governor believes cuts in aid to local schools in his budget could be entirely offset if existing teachers would forgo scheduled raises and agree to pay 1.5% of their medical insurance bill for one year, just as new state employees will be required to do every year. A new Rasmussen poll found that 65% of New Jersey voters agree with him about a one-year pay freeze for teachers.
The union, of course, has it’s own favored solution and I assume you can guess what it involves:
But the teachers union wants to close the budget gap by raising the income tax rate on individuals and small businesses making over $400,000 per year to 10.75% from its current 8.97%.
Obviously he has a lot of other fights within the state on his hands, such as cutting the onerous regulation regime the state has built, but he has a primary goal and desire to return the state to fiscal sanity. And he also knows that to do that he has to lower overall taxes – if he wants to again attract business and those who earn enough to provide a solid tax base.
The governor aims to move tax rates back to the glory days before 2004, when politicians lifted the top income tax rate to its current level of almost 9% from roughly 6%. Piled on top of the country’s highest property taxes, as well as sales and business income taxes, the increase brought the state to a tipping point where the affluent started to flee in droves. A Boston College study recently noted the outflow of wealthy people from the state in the period 2004-2008. The state has lately been in a vicious spiral of new taxes and fees to make up for the lost revenue, which in turn causes more high-income residents to leave, further reducing tax revenues.
So here’s a governor who understands that what has been heaped on the back of the taxpayers that are left is too much and is looking at other real ways of reducing the cost of government – i.e. actually seeking out where it has become bloated, putting some of the costs of the benefits government workers receive back on them, cutting unnecessary spending all with a goal of eliminating the deficit the state faces. And, by the way, planning on reducing the tax rate with an eye toward luring back the affluent and businesses with an eventual goal of actually increasing tax-revenues, and jobs, and all the other benefits such an influx would bring.
“What I hope it will do in the end is first and foremost fix New Jersey, and end this myth that you can’t take these people on,” he says. “I just hope it shows people who have similar ideas to mine that they can do it. You just have to stand up and grit your teeth and know your poll numbers are going to go down—and mine have—but you gotta grit it out because the alternative is unacceptable.” He also strongly believes that voters elected him specifically to fight this fight. “They’re fed up. They’ve had enough. In normal circumstances I wouldn’t win,” he says.
He’s probably right about that. He probably wouldn’t have won 3 or so years ago. And he’s right that the voters, as his election demonstrates, are “fed up”. But, once the cuts start to hit, nothing says Christie will be given the continued support necessary to accomplish his goals. But he seems to be a man who is going to do all he can to accomplish them. I call it the New Jersey model because if successful, Gov. Christie will provide both the blueprint and the success story which small government/fiscally conservative types can point to when discussing what must -and can – be done at both a state and national level. I’ll be watching the NJ saga develop with great interest over the years, and wishing Gov. Christie the best of luck in attaining his goals.
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This graph puts initial unemployment claims over the past five months in perspective. Click to enlarge.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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