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Tags: The Economy

Secular Stagnation Is a Cover-Up



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John F. Kennedy campaigned for president in 1960 by belittling Dwight Eisenhower’s three recessions and declaring, “We can do bettah.” He was right. In the 1960s, after the Kennedy tax cuts were implemented, prosperity returned, the economy grew by almost 4 percent annually, unemployment sank to record lows, and a gold-linked dollar held down inflation.

But today many leading economists are throwing up their arms in frustration and assuring us that 2 percent growth is really the best we can do.

Barack Obama’s former chief economist Larry Summers began this chant of “secular stagnation.” Don’t buy it.

Read my full column, authored with Stephen Moore, here.

Tags: The Economy

Lower Benefits, Higher Jobs



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Neel Kashkari, the Republican candidate for governor of California, just recounted in the Wall Street Journal his week on the streets of Fresno posing as a homeless man looking for work. At the end of his op-ed, Kashkari lamented that he didn’t need a higher minimum wage, paid sick leave, or a health-care plan. What he needed was a job.

And Kashkari made the important point that all those government benefits, especially extended unemployment benefits, are work disincentives that may actually block job creation.

Read my full column here

Tags: The Economy

Reclaiming Reagan’s Economic Voice



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It was a positive May jobs report. And it’s good to see more Americans working. But there are still some serious warts in the jobs story. And overall economic growth is still trapped in a sub-par growth zone.

But what of the Republicans? Where are their growth policies? Alas, with some notable individual exceptions, I fail to see a united GOP growth message.

Read my full column here.

Tags: The Economy , GOP

Anti-Business Obama Strikes Again



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When President Obama holds back approval of the Keystone pipeline, for the umpteenth time, it’s bad enough that he’s politically pandering to Tom Steyer, the hedge-fund billionaire and manic radical opponent of fossil fuels. If he gives in to Steyer by blocking the pipeline, Steyer gives $100 million to Democratic candidates this fall.

Obama’s transparent political cynicism is incredible. But it’s more than that. It shows his disregard for jobs and economic growth for blue-collar union workers who used to be Democrats. It shows his utter disregard for our loyal Canadian ally up north. And it sends the wrong signal to Vladimir Putin, who probably believes the U.S. will not undermine Russia with energy independence and oil and gas exports while Obama is in office.

But perhaps most of all, Obama’s Keystone veto sends a message to American business that he just doesn’t care.

Read my full column here.

 

Tags: The Economy

Republicans Hammer Away on the Growth Theme



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Sizing up last week’s unexpected congressional win by Florida Republican David Jolly, Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal wrote, “The Republicans who win this fall will be those who have serious answers to the attacks leveled on them — about Obamacare, the economy, women’s and seniors’ issues.” Sound advice.

A few weeks earlier, pollsters John and Jim McLaughlin argued that to win big in November, the GOP cannot rely on Obamacare alone, unpopular as it is. More sound advice.

In particular, there must be a growth platform, aimed especially at the middle class, which continues to suffer in the fifth year of the so-called recovery with real median income dropping by 4 percent and broad-based unemployment measured at roughly 12.5 percent. Believe it or not, a new Wall Street Journal poll shows that a large majority of Americans still think we’re in a recession.

So the challenge for the GOP is to drill home the old Ronald Reagan point that Republicans can increase take-home pay, or after-tax income. 

Read my full column here.

Tags: The Economy , 2014 Midterms

Obama’s Work Trap



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So let me get this right. Team Obama taxes millionaires who create jobs, while Obamacare creates incentives not to work at those jobs. No wonder recovery is so anemic. The policy here is to create fewer jobs and induce people to work less at those jobs. If my logic is correct, this runs counter to the most basic principles of our economy and our country.   

I thought the American Idea (see Jack Kemp and Paul Ryan) had at least something to do with the virtues of work, family, and opportunity. But what I see from the Obama administration is policies that undermine these ideals.

Here’s a contrasting vision . . .

Read my full column here.

Tags: The Economy

Business Wants Growth, Growth, Growth



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Growth, growth, growth is the new mantra of the venerable Business Roundtable, whose member companies generate annual revenues of more than $7 trillion while employing 16 million workers. In past years, the BRT has put out lengthy pamphlets proposing intricate solutions for budgets, entitlements, the environment, regulations, health care, and more. But this year, the BRT has gone back to basic economic blocking and tackling by bluntly saying, “If we want to control the deficit, preserve key entitlement programs, educate our children, and offer upward economic mobility for everyone, we have to get our economy growing faster.”

Sounds like JFK. Or Ronald Reagan. Or Jack Kemp. A rising tide lifts all boats.

Read my full column here.

Tags: The Economy

The Challenge is Growth, Not Inequality



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Either President Obama needs a new speech writer, or he needs a new set of economic policies. Actually, he needs both.

Can anyone think of a more boring, banal, irrelevant, or stale speech than the one he gave this Thursday in Washington D.C.? The speech was allegedly on the economy, but more likely it was to divert attention from the Obamacare catastrophe. Whatever the motive, his idea that the defining challenge of our time is to reduce income inequality is completely wrong. In truth, the defining challenge is to restore more rapid economic growth, create substantially more jobs, and significantly reduce unemployment. 

Read my full column here

Tags: The Economy

Attack Obamacare, but Talk Growth Too



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There’s no question that the catastrophic debut of Obamacare — including the website breakdown and the millions of pink-slip cancellations — will be a great card for Republicans to play on the way to the 2014 midterm elections. No question.

The president lied about his lies about keeping your health plans and doctors. And when he did finally apologize, he didn’t really say he was sorry. It’s also possible that we’ll see 10 million more insurance cancellations, leading to much higher premiums, bigger deductibilities, and more cutoffs between patients and their doctors. And employer-based cancellations will compound this disaster, with the whole process stretching across most of next year. It will be a killer for the Obama Democrats.

But while my conservative-pundit colleagues are out thrashing Obamacare, I want to raise a critical point: Don’t forget economic growth.

Read my full column here

Tags: Health Care , The Economy

Democrats: We Prefer Another Recession to Not Raising Taxes



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What the heck? The Washington Post reports:

Democrats are making increasingly explicit threats about their willingness to let nearly $600 billion worth of tax hikes and spending cuts take effect in January unless Republicans drop their opposition to higher taxes for the nation’s wealthiest households. Emboldened by signs that GOP resistance to new taxes may be weakening, senior Democrats say they are prepared to weather a fiscal event that could plunge the nation back into recession if the new year arrives without an acceptable compromise.

And this from the party led by the man who called his opponents “hostage takers.”

Tags: Democrats , Taxes , The Economy

President Obama’s Perpetual Pivot



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In the final days of the 2008 campaign, the conservative press/blogosphere were buzzing about Jeremiah Wright/Bill Ayers/Bernardine Dohrn and other signs of a radical past of then-Senator Obama, while the John McCain campaign was running “dedicated to a cause bigger than my own” biographical ads and the RNC was running fairly generic “Obama is inexperienced” ads.

There were times when the Venn diagram of the conservative grassroots and the GOP establishment overlapped more, but for much of that cycle, the two groups were singing from a different songbook.

In 2012, you’re seeing much greater message alignment between the conservative press/blogosphere and the campaigns and committees.

For example, among conservative blogs, the term “the Obama administration is pivoting to jobs” spurs eye-rolls and snickers. Last year I wrote:

Pivoting: A Form of Rotation Similar to Tilting at a Windmill

Ben Smith of Politico contemplates the Obama administration’s perennial pivot: “Mike Allen’s note this morning that ‘Dems plan pivot to jobs’ sounded awfully familiar to me, as it apparently did to the Republican National Committee, which promptly turned out a list of 15 occasions on which the White House had allegedly announced a similar pivot. That number is, shockingly, a bit inflated, but the underlying truth of the presidency is that through a mixture of choice — health care — and circumstance — the Arab Spring, the Japan earthquake — Obama has spent very little of his presidency publicly driving a conversation about jobs. By far the most serious jobs legislation he passes was the stimulus, but over-optimistic forecasts and implacable Republican opposition put the White House sharply on defense about it almost from the start. And the story of the Administration is, in no small part, one of a constant attempt to pivot formally to jobs. Emily and I identified what seem like six really attempts at it, with the seventh starting now . . .”

Keep in mind that inherent in the pivot-point talking point is an inherent excuse: The reason the administration hasn’t seen much success in bringing down the unemployment rate, or is perceived to be useless in bringing down the unemployment rate, or hasn’t communicated its message about its efforts, is always a lack of time and focus. I think most of us would argue the problem isn’t really an administrative attention deficit disorder or chronic focus on other issues; the problem is the policies stink.

Too much of the stimulus money got spent on crap. It allowed states to put off fiscal reckoning between runaway expenditures and vastly overestimated tax revenues. Trade deals have collected dust for years while Obama’s team tries to find ways to placate unions. Fancy regulation-reduction panels are announced while the Federal Register grows thicker and thicker. Obamacare adds a whole new complicating variable into employer health-care plans.

“All right, now we’re really going to pivot to jobs, just you wait and see” sounds like the oft-heard pledges of dieting and exercise and saving money and cleaning out the basement and flossing; the idea that all it’s going to take is a bit more attention to the problem and it’s going to be solved. I don’t doubt that a lot of folks in the White House are worried about the unemployment rate. I just don’t have any faith that they have any real ideas to improve the situation.

This morning, the RNC unveils this ad:

Hard to imagine the Romney campaign wouldn’t hit the president on this point, as well.

Tags: Barack Obama , Jobs , The Economy

By His Own Criteria, Obama Is Failing as President



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President Obama, speaking at a DNC fundraiser in Philadelphia, Pa. last night:

  Now, let me tell you why I thought it was so important to run — even though Michelle, she wasn’t so sure.  (Laughter.)  And why you guys got involved.  I just want everybody to remember.  We ran because we believed in an economy that didn’t just work for those at the top, but worked for everybody — where prosperity was shared, from the machinist on the line, to the manager on the floor, to the CEO in the boardroom.          We ran because we believed our success isn’t just determined by stock prices and corporate profits, but by whether ordinary folks can find a good job that pays for a middle-class life — where they can pay the mortgage, and take care of their kids, and send their kids to college, and save for retirement, and maybe have a little left over to go to a movie and go to dinner once in a while.  (Laughter and applause.)

Well then, Mr. President, by your own standards, your presidency is a failure of colossal proportions. He has moved us from what he labeled “an economy that just worked for those at the top” to an economy that doesn’t work well for anyone, and works worst for those on the lower rungs.

“Find a good job…” Now, “nearly 14 million Americans are looking for work – and millions of those who have found jobs are working for less.” And “about 6.2 million Americans, 45.1 percent of all unemployed workers in this country, have been jobless for more than six months – at its highest since the Great Depression.”

…”pays for middle-class life”… Gas prices up, food prices up, state and local taxes significantly higher…

… “pay the mortgage”… Several years of record foreclosures, with millions more Americans owing more than their house is worth. “West Coast Democrats note that you don’t see [Obama] making stops in neighborhoods recovering from housing foreclosures, because there’d actually have to be a housing market recovery.”

…”take care of their kids”… Harder to afford than ever, in fact: “If prices were to remain constant, a family with a child born in 2010 will spend $226,000, nearly a quarter of a million, before that child reaches the age of 18. Even adjusted for inflation, that is 23% more than people were spending just 30 years ago.”

… “send their kids to college”CNN: “‘As the out-of-pocket costs of a college education go up faster than incomes, it’s pricing low and medium income families out of a college education,’ said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of financial aid sites FinAid.org and FastWeb.com. The numbers confirm what most middle class families already know — college is becoming so expensive, it’s starting to hold them back.”

… “save for retirement”… “Putnam Investments survey, which polled almost 3,300 working Americans, found that American households are on track to replace 64% of their current income in retirement.” Obama has yet to propose, much less enact, serious entitlement reform to keep Social Security financially stable in the long term, and in fact demagogues others’ efforts to do so.

… “and maybe have a little left over to go to a movie and go to dinner once in a while.” Dinner? Maybe. But no vacation: “Still-high gas prices and lingering concerns about the economy will keep many would-be travelers home – or closer to home – this Fourth of July weekend.”

Meanwhile, let’s check in on those stock prices and corporate profits that Obama dismisses as useful indicators of economic health.

Actually, they’re doing quite well. First, “Despite high unemployment and a largely languishing real estate market, U.S. businesses are more profitable than ever, according to federal figures released on Friday. U.S. corporate profits hit an all-time high at the end of 2010, with financial firms showing some of the biggest gains.” And while the markets have bounced around quite a bit over the past three years, they have had some high points during Obama’s term, including this observation from January 2011: “Detractors of President Barack Obama should remember one thing — Wall Street has been booming under this president. Since Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up about 48 percent, the S&P 500 Index  is up 60 percent and the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index  is up 90 percent.”

So the only economic indicators that are thriving under Obama are the ones he said are not true indicators of success.

Meanwhile, we muddle along with subpar growth, the U.S. economy, as measured by real Gross Domestic Product, has grown 2.6 percent in 2009 and 2.9 percent in 2010.

Obama ran because he believed in many wonderful things, none that have occurred on his watch yet.

Tags: Barack Obama , The Economy

A Lame Effort to Spin Obama’s Job-Creation Record



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Ron Brownstein:

If the economy produces jobs over the next eight months at the same pace as it did over the past four months, the nation will have created more jobs in 2010 alone than it did over the entire eight years of George W. Bush’s presidency. That comparison comes with many footnotes and asterisks. But it shows how the economic debate between the parties could look very different over time — perhaps by November, more likely by 2012. More important, the comparison underscores the urgency of repairing an American job-creation machine that was sputtering long before the 2008 financial meltdown.

Among those many footnotes and asterisks: You’re measuring Bush’s job-creation numbers from the peak of one bubble (the dot-coms, January 2001) to the immediate popping of another (real estate, finance) January 2009. And of course, the unemployment rate has been higher for every month of Obama’s presidency than its worst peak during the Bush presidency (7.2 percent).

So Brownstein can offer the administration new ways to slice the numbers, but the public isn’t buying. The Wall Street Journal/NBC survey “shows that 76 percent of Americans believe that the US economy remains in recession; an even larger 81 percent describe themselves as dissatisfied with the economy.”

Tags: Barack Obama , The Economy

More Great News for Democrats, This Time from Pew



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From the latest Pew poll:

The public remains doggedly downbeat about the condition of the national economy, even as many experts and economists see signs of recovery. As has been the case for most of the past two years, about nine-in-ten (88%) rate national economic conditions as only fair or poor, and over the past year there has been no decline in the percentage saying the economy will stay the same (36%) or get worse (19%) a year from now.

That must be my video talking down the economy.

Just 33% say the economic stimulus passed by Congress last year has helped the job situation and only somewhat more (42%) say the loans the federal government provided to troubled financial institutions prevented a more severe financial crisis. Less than a third (31%) says that the government has made progress in fixing the problems that caused the 2008 financial crisis.

To quote today’s Morning Jolt: “A strong case can be made that the sudden downturn in the economy in 2008 persuaded a lot of wavering voters to decide, “okay, I’ve had it with Bush, this Obama guy seems smart, let’s give him a shot.” Since taking office, Obama and his team have been misjudging the economy and offering “recovery is just around the corner!” sunshine on a regular basis. I’d contend that not only do they not know what’s just around the corner, but they don’t even have that good a handle on what’s going on now. (Did you know Ohio Democrat Marcy Kaptur called recent testimony of Tim Geithner, Christina Romer and Peter Orszag. “dismaying and out of touch”?)”

More than six-in-ten (62%) say the economic stimulus package enacted by Congress last year has not helped the job situation, while about half (49%) say the government’s loans to banks and other financial institutions did not help prevent a more severe economic crisis. Meanwhile, the public sees little government progress toward fixing the causes of the financial crisis. About four-in-ten (42%) say they see just a little progress; 25% say they see no progress at all.

Remember, Tim Kaine informed us today that Democrats would be running on their record.

Tags: Obama , The Economy

Economic Recovery? The Signs Aren’t There in My Neck of the Woods



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I mentioned earlier today that Gallup had found the lowest level of self-professed job security since they began measuring in 1975.

Even as public trust in the Democrats’ economic policies falls, you’re still hearing some folks suggest that the economy might improve enough by November to help mitigate the GOP wave that current polling indicates. It’s possible that we’ll see some improvement, but I doubt it. The economy is more than a number that comes out once a month from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economic indicators are all around us, and voters see them every time they step outside their door.

To illustrate this, I took a drive around my neck of the woods in Alexandria, Virginia, where we’ve been spared most of the worst of the recession.

As you can see, even where times aren’t that bad, there are still plenty of signs that times are still pretty bad.

Tags: 2010 , Democrats , The Economy , Video

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