Monday, June 14, 2010
President Obama urged reluctant lawmakers Saturday to quickly approve nearly $50 billion in emergency aid to state and local governments, saying the money is needed to avoid "massive layoffs of teachers, police and firefighters" and to support the still-fragile economic recovery.In a letter to congressional leaders, Obama defended last year's huge economic stimulus package, saying it helped break the economy's free fall, but argued that more spending is urgent and unavoidable. "We must take these emergency measures," he wrote in an appeal aimed primarily at members of his own party.The letter comes as rising concern about the national debt is undermining congressional support for additional spending to bolster the economy. Many economists say more spending could help bring down persistently high unemployment, but with Republicans making an issue of the record deficits run up during the recession, many Democratic lawmakers are eager to turn off the stimulus tap."I think there is spending fatigue," House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said recently. "It's tough in both houses to get votes."Democrats, particularly in the House, have voted for politically costly initiatives at Obama's insistence, most notably health-care and climate-change legislation. But faced with an electorate widely viewed as angry and hostile to incumbents, many are increasingly reluctant to take politically unpopular positions.The House last month stripped Obama's request for $24 billion in state aid from a bill that would extend emergency benefits for jobless workers. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) hopes to restore that funding but with debate in that chamber set to resume this week, he acknowledges that he has yet to assemble the votes for final passage. Obama's request for $23 billion to avert the layoffs of as many as 300,000 public school teachers has not won support in either chamber.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Alarming photos of dead sea turtles washed ashore — as well as satellite images of an ever-spreading oil slick — demonstrate that a serious ordeal is ahead for the Gulf Coast. The April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig caused a spill that has spread more than 130 miles so far. The spill has reached land in Louisiana, and is expected to reach Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. If it continues, it will surpass the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill as the worst in history. Here's how you can help:
The latest jobs report is solid evidence that Obama's big government, high tax, Washington-centered, bureaucratic, politician-dominated system is going to kill jobs and extend the current economic problems far longer than what is normal for a recession.
None of this should come as a surprise. Job-killing policies kill jobs. It is that simple and direct.
In my new book To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Machine (#5 last week and #2 next Sunday on the New York Times bestseller list) and in a keynote speech to the Detroit Chamber of Commerce last week, I outline the concept that 2+2=4 is the most important political and governmental slogan of the next 25 years.
2+2=4 matters because it reminds us that facts and basic principles are real and cannot be avoided even by the most articulate orators and demagogues.
The numbers from last week’s report on job creation were truly sobering.
In April, the private sector added 218,000 jobs.
In May, the private sector added only 41,000 jobs. That is exactly the opposite pattern from a normal economic recovery.
Normally, in the depths of a severe recession, the recovery accelerates month by month as confidence recovers, businesses invest and consumers come back into the market.
The shocking numbers for May (an over 80% decline in new private-sector job creation) combined with the fallout from the European fiscal crisis and the economic costs of the BP-Obama oil disaster in the Gulf will further slow down the economy.
These indicators suggest that there is a real danger of a second downward leg in the recession.
The fact is that of 431,000 nonfarm jobs added in May, 412,000 are temporary government jobs for the 2010 census, whose layoff in the fall will send unemployment rates up. Furthermore, the unemployment rate came down from 9.9% to 9.7% only because 322,000 Americans dropped out of the job market and quit looking for work.
Amazingly, the President actually adopted the position that these dismal economic numbers were encouraging, saying “The economy’s getting stronger by the day,” and a sign his policies are working.
The President is either being willfully dishonest or is ideologically blind to reality, seeing no difference between stable private-sector jobs and temporary government jobs.
To be clear, it will take 292,000 new jobs added every month until 2015 to get back to 5% unemployment. For the economy to remain flat, it would need to add 125,000 jobs a month.
Considering that these census jobs are all temporary, the data suggests that the economy became weaker in May, not stronger, as the President claimed.
This blindness to reality is dangerous because it is a sign the Democrats will continue to follow job-killing policies.
(If you are wondering how 41,000 private sector jobs could have been created when 412,000 of the 431,000 jobs added in May were federal government jobs (for a difference of 19,000), it is because 22,000 state and local government jobs were lost. For a full breakdown, click here).
WASHINGTON (AP) - Over and over in the health care debate, President Barack Obama said people who like their current coverage would be able to keep it.
But an early draft of an administration regulation estimates that many employers will be forced to make changes to their health plans under the new law. In just three years, a majority of workers—51 percent—will be in plans subject to new federal requirements, according to the draft.
Employers say it's more evidence that the law will drive up costs. Republicans say Obama broke his promise. But some experts believe increased regulation will lead to improved benefits for consumers.
"On the face of it, having consumer protections apply to all insurance plans could be a good thing for employees," said Alex Vachon, an independent health policy consultant. "Technically, it's actually improved coverage."
The types of changes that employers would be forced to make include offering preventive care without copayments and instituting an appeals process for disputed claims that follows new federal guidelines. The law already requires all health plans to extend coverage to young adult children until they turn 26. But such changes also nudge costs up.
The Obama administration said the draft regulation is an early version undergoing revision. Nonetheless, the leaked document was getting widespread interest Friday in lobbying firms that represent employers and insurance companies and on Capitol Hill.
"What we are getting here is a clear indication that most plans will have to change," said James Gelfand,health policy director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "From an employer's point of view that's a bad thing. These changes, whether or not they're good for consumers, are most certainly accompanied by a cost."
"Since its passage, Republican arguments against the bill have been repeatedly vindicated, even as the administration's many promises about the bill have been called into question again and again," McConnell said. "So Democrats may have passed this bill, but the debate is far from over."