Fast food workers have been staging strikes across the country for the last three years to demand a $15 minimum wage, among other things. Which begs the question: Would raising wages in the industry to that level force companies to lay off workers to reduce costs?
The answer in a new paper is a resounding no. Economists Robert Pollin and Jeannette Wicks-Lim of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst looked at a scenario in which the federal minimum wage gets increased to $10.50 in one year and to $15 three years after that, which in the end would mean a 107 percent increase over the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. They found that instead of having to cut jobs, fast food restaurants could cover the cost of the increase with savings from reducing turnover, higher prices, and greater economic growth.
I made it as far as that paragraph before my first out loud laugh.
As with most progressive think pieces, it is a veritable cornucopia of qualifying. There are enough assumptions and kinda/sorta/maybes to fill Michael Moore at lunchtime here.
The first assumption is that the jump to $10.50 an hour would be so life-changing that it would drastically reduce turnover. This key component also exposes the fact that progressives would prefer to trap people in low income jobs for as long as possible, if not forever. Rather than get someone on the path to being a fast food franchisee, the progs would rather they remain slightly more comfortable fry cooks.
The second assumption is that sales would only suffer a slight dip from the price increases that would have to be put in place, which is a rather bold hope when even McDonald’s is looking at dropping numbers.
So significantly higher wages and the resultant higher prices are going to eventually result in economic growth. Makes sense, no?
A Blue Dog Democrat said that instead of President Obama’s plan to target the rich with higher taxes, Congress needs to expand the tax base.
“We have to keep in mind is the words from President Lincoln that said you don’t help the poor by tearing down the rich or you don’t help the workers by tearing down businesses and to have a targeted tax increase, I don’t think that’s the right approach. We should find a way to make the taxes more fair and flatter,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told Fox, stressing, “I respectfully don’t agree with the president.”
“For example, corporations, if we can lower their taxes for the corporations so we can compete with other ones across the world. There’s a lot of things we can do to flatten the tax rate and expand the base. And I think if we look at maybe what David Camp looked at, what Paul Ryan might look at and see if the Democrats can sit down and work something out,” he said.
“But to try to ram something through, that’s not the way. It will take some sort of consensus. I hope we can do this. Anybody can talk about tax reform. Can we actually roll up our sleeves and make tough decisions?”
Cuellar said that trying to bring anyone to the middle, though, is “exactly” what’s “wrong with Washington.”
“You have the far right. The far left. And trying to get us together and work this out, it sort of takes moderate Democrats, moderate Republicans to actually get things done,” he said.
“…And a lot of issues, we’re not there. But that’s the approach we ought to have. Otherwise, the far right and the far left will control the debates in Washington, D.C. And the practical aspects of getting stuff done are not going to get done because of the far left and the far right.”
Remember her chant, “Drill, baby, drill”? Well, how about that:
Back when gas topped $4 a gallon, Republicans chanted “drill, baby, drill” at rallies across the country — arguing more domestic drilling would increase supplies, reduce dependence on foreign oil and boost the U.S. economy. Democrats, almost universally, mocked the GOP plan. In 2012, President Obama called it “a slogan, a gimmick, and a bumper sticker … not a strategy.”
“They were waving their three-point plans for $2-a-gallon gas,” Obama told a laughing audience during an energy speech in Washington. “You remember that? Drill, baby, drill. We were going through all that. And none of it was really going to do anything to solve the problem.”
Today, Democrats are singing a different tune, as increased domestic drilling has led to a record supply of domestic crude, put some $100 billion into the pockets of U.S. consumers and sent world oil prices tumbling. The price of a gallon of regular gasoline on Monday was $2.13 nationwide, and below $2 in 18 states.
“Of course [Obama] was wrong. We’ve seen oil prices fall internationally now by half since last June,” said American Enterprise Institute economist Ben Zycher. “The U.S. is now the biggest oil and gas producer in the world, or almost that, and the effect has been to drive prices down as we’ve seen.”
Barack Obama: wrong about everything
Earnest: GOP ‘Welcome to Articulate’ Views After State of the Union, But People Will Agree with Obama
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama will be “focusing on middle class economics” in his State of the Union address tonight.
“And what the president believes we should do is we can actually ask those at top of the income scale — and when I’m talking about the top, I’m talking about the very top. We’re talking about large Wall Street firms that are highly leveraged and those essentially who benefit from trust funds; we want to close the trust fund loophole and use that revenue to do the kind of things that are going to benefit the middle class families,” Earnest told CNN this morning.
“We want to do this because the president believes that our economy is best when it’s growing from the middle out. And by focusing on middle class economics, what we can do is we offer a $500 tax credit to working families where you have both Mom and Dad who are working a job. Well, we can offer a tax credit, because we know if both parents are working, there are going to be some extra costs associated with child care or with commuting.”
Earnest said Obama will also pitch “free community college to hard-working students who are getting good grades.”
“We know that never before has a college education been more important to making a — to getting a middle class job and leading a middle class life. So these are the kinds of policies that the president believes should be a priority and we’re hopeful that Democrats and Republicans will work together to advance this agenda,” he said.
Earnest said Republicans in Congress “will have to make a decision about what they think is more important — do they think that the trust-fund loophole is more important and that we should be ensuring that millionaires and billionaires are getting tax — special preferential tax benefits that middle class families don’t get?”
“Or do they think that more middle class families should have the opportunity to go to college? That’s really the question before them. And if they have a fundamental disagreement with the president, they’re welcome to articulate that view,” he added. “I just don’t happen to think that the vast majority of the American people are going to agree with them.”
He said that when Obama took office “we were on the precipice of a second great depression, but because this president worked, scratched, and clawed, essentially had to fight Republicans to put in place policies that are focused on the middle class, we actually have been able to dig out of this terrible economic downturn.”
“And actually our economy is starting to show the kind of resilience that indicates that we’re ready to turn the page.”
The Republican National Committee began the day with a preemptive strike against Obama’s address, sending out a “by the numbers” fact sheet that showed debt at $10.6 trillion when Obama took office in January 2009 and $18.1 trillion today.
“Without getting into too many of the specifics on policy, as chairman of the party, but I think that, sure, some loopholes can be closed. But the reality is is that none of that dinking and dunking is going to change anything about the trajectory of the economy, unless you take a serious look at the overall tax code, simplify it, do some fairly significant things to the code and do the types of things that Paul Ryan has been delivering to the Senate for the last five years,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told Fox this morning.
“Now they’ll have that chance as chairman of the ways and means in order to get the economy turned around. We’ve got a — the president’s going to try to tell people that Americans aren’t struggling and the economy’s great. We’ve got the worst labor participation rate since Jimmy Carter’s been president,” Priebus said.
“And so, he’s going to spend the night, tell people that the economy is great. He’s going to play a good round of small ball. He’s going to tell people that he’s for bipartisanship, while he kills things like they Keystone pipeline, the 40-hour work week… No one really thinks that the president’s going to follow through on anything that he says.”
Heading into the weekend, I filled up my tank for less than $20 for the first time in over a decade. It was surreal. I recall, in my younger and poorer days, routinely putting five bucks in the tank to get through the week on a partial fill. Six months ago, five bucks couldn’t get you two gallons. Yet, here we are, back to the good old days.
But before it gets too easy to work and raise a family, politicians are lining up with proposals to hike state and federal gas taxes. In Minnesota, Democrat Governor Mark Dayton is looking to supplement the existing 28.5 cent per gallon tax with an additional “wholesale gas tax” that would kick in as a percentage (like sales tax) when the pump price hits about $2.15.
Not to be outdone, and doing his best to forward the increasingly popular notion that no difference exists between the major parties, the incoming Republican chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee told Fox News Sunday that a federal gas tax hike is on the table. From the Associated Press:
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota says all options must be looked at to fill an enormous shortfall when the existing highway legislation expires in May.
Gas and diesel taxes haven’t risen since 1993, resulting in perennial shortfalls in the fund that pays for most road projects.
Several commissions have called for raising the taxes, but Congress has been reluctant. Instead lawmakers have dipped repeatedly into the general treasury to keep the trust fund solvent.
The chatter around Governor Dayton’s proposal boasts similar rhetoric. Roads and bridges are in tough shape and getting worse. It’s projected that far less revenue will be raised through current taxes than that needed to maintain, let alone improve, the current infrastructure. The only rational option is to raise taxes, we’re led to believe.
But is that really the only possible approach to the problem? Couldn’t we cite the same scary stats to argue for something like – I don’t know – prioritizing existing spending to focus on infrastructure instead of the gazillion other things that government wastes money on?
Governor Dayton presides over a state which will spend $63.6 billion this year alone. He says he wants an additional $6 billion for transportation over the next 10 years to “cover existing needs.” That translates to $600 million per year. We can’t shave $600 million from a $63.6 billion budget? That’s less than 1%. We’re going to raise taxes on everyone in the economy rather than divert less than 1% of the budget to transportation? Really?
(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here.)
Michael Walsh linked to an excellent article on the inability of many millennials to fix the simplest of household devices. Walsh was joined by many of my Boomer/Gen-X friends in his comment that it’s usually cheaper to throw out and buy new, but speaking as one of those Gen-X/millennial crossovers, going shopping isn’t always the cheapest thing to do. Especially when you’re caught up in a lousy economy.
Here’s where I praise my incredibly handy husband who grew up learning fractions via wrench set before he ever encountered them in school. When he lost his job shortly after the recession hit, we newlyweds risked becoming a statistic, joining the millions of college graduates like us who were out of work at a time when no jobs could be found. Thankfully, along with raising us with a fabulously humble work ethic, our parents also trained us to make the most out of nothing. My husband saved us thousands of dollars by repairing cars, plumbing, even our household heater himself when times were lean.
Fixing things doesn’t always mean owning crap, either. How did my husband manage to drive a Mercedes in college? He found a wreck in a salvage yard and spent one summer fixing it up with his dad after work. That car lasted him over 10 years and remained a great investment because he took the time to learn how to maintain and repair it when necessary.
His Mr. Fix-It habit is far from over now that he’s back in the work force. Do you know how much it costs the average young homeowner to re-do a bathroom in their first fixer-upper? Enough to make them not bother, or mortgage more for a home that’s already been upgraded. Every project we’ve done in our home we’ve done ourselves with little to no outside help. Yes, it takes longer. Yes, it’s hard work. But when you’re young and newly married in a depression marketed as a recession, knowing how to be handy around the house is a lifesaver for your budget and your marriage.
Women of greater and lesser means are getting pushed in different directions when it comes to getting hitched. Affluent women are finding a larger pool of potential mates, while women further down on the economic latter have fewer choices — and often they decide that it is not in their interest to marry at all.
Values — and romances — are shaped by economic circumstances. Until women can count on things like affordable education and childcare, along with decent, stable jobs and a strong social safety net, pragmatism will likely tell them whether, or if, marriage is worth it.
…If you’re a single woman looking for a desirable partner, the odds are in your favor if you happen to be in the top 5 percent of the income distribution. Men at the top are competing for you — and they know they need to commit. If you’re in the middle range, you have fewer good matches. If you’re at the bottom, well, good luck with that.
The decline in marriage is not the big statement against female “economic injustice” Parramore wishes it to be. According to recent Pew findings:
A host of complex factors – economic change, demographics, more women in the labor force and shifting attitudes about the value of marriage – have contributed to what Parker called a “mismatch in the marriage market” and made finding a partner and getting married more complicated. …ambivalence and disinclination to marry held true regardless of whether one had a college education – where marriage rates and marriage stability tend to be high – or a high school education, where marriage rates are lower and marriages more often end in divorce.
Parramore blows past the massive impact of contemporary feminism on attitudes towards marriage in her pursuit to justify increased economic socialization. According to the Pew stats, 78% of women stated that finding a partner with a “steady job” was the most important factor in finding a spouse. In other words, statistically speaking, “economic injustice” does have an impact on your chances of getting married if you’re a man. Factors like the equal pay myth and the socialized “safety net” that Parramore believes are so important don’t make their way into the conversation, most likely because they aren’t realistic ways of ensuring the creation and maintenance of new jobs, which is the key factor in boosting the marriage rate.
When Republicans take full control of Congress on Jan. 6, they will face decisions on major changes at the Congressional Budget Office, including possibly naming a new head and changing the rules used to assess the cost of legislation.
Conservative groups have been calling for the replacement of CBO Director Doug Elmendorf, who was appointed by Democrats in 2009 and whose term expires next month. They argue that a Republican-leaning economist would more readily adopt a cost analysis known as “dynamic scoring” that incorporates expectations of higher economic growth associated with legislation.
Analyses by the CBO, a non-partisan office, show how much a bill would increase or decrease the federal budget deficit over a 10-year period.
The budget math used under dynamic scoring has long been a goal for Republican lawmakers, including the incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee, Representative Tom Price, and the current chairman, Paul Ryan, who next month will take over the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
Under current congressional analysis rules, if a bill cuts tax rates, government revenues fall. Dynamic scoring assumes that lower tax rates would boost growth and income, helping to offset at least some of the lost revenues.
Higher tax rates are always onerous but lower ones can have very positive effects, so why not factor that potential in? Unless, of course, you’re on the side that now calls taxes “revenues” all the time in an attempt to dupe the American people into feeling better about having income confiscated from them. Or you’re deliberately trying to avoid a conversation about the economy-stimulating effects of less confiscatory behavior on the part of our, ahem, “representatives”.
So you can see why Democrats will probably be opposed to a change like this.
Larry Elder at Real Clear Politics breathes essential statistical insight into the ongoing fight over whether or not white cops have a predilection for shooting black men:
In 2012, according to the CDC, 140 blacks were killed by police. That same year 386 whites were killed by police. Over the 13-year period from 1999 to 2011, the CDC reports that 2,151 whites were killed by cops — and 1,130 blacks were killed by cops.
Police shootings, nationwide, are down dramatically from what they were 20 or 30 years ago. The CDC reported that in 1968, shootings by law enforcement — called “legal intervention” by the CDC — was the cause of death for 8.6 out of every million blacks. For whites the rate was was .9 deaths per million.
By 2011, law enforcement shootings caused 2.74 deaths for every million blacks, and 1.28 deaths for every million whites. While the death-by-cop rate for whites has held pretty steady over these last 45 years, hovering just above or below the one-in-a-million level, the rate for blacks has fallen. In 1981, black deaths by cop stood at four in a million, but since 2000 has remained just above or below two in a million.
So what’s driving this notion that there is now an “epidemic” of white cops shooting blacks when in the last several decades the numbers of blacks killed by cops are down nearly 75 percent?
As Elder points out, there was no mention of race or racial motivation in the cases of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, or Michael Brown. When questioned about the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman verdict, “several jurors later said that during jury deliberations ‘race never came up.’” Elder asserts
This white-cop-out-to-get-black-civilian narrative advances the interest of many. The media loves what Tom Wolfe called the “Great White Defendant” — a bad white guy everybody can agree to dislike. For the Democrats, it furthers their assertion that race remains a major problem in America, that Republicans/tea partiers/black conservatives are out to get them, and you must vote for us. For “activists” like the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and local wannabes, it gives them continued relevance.
In reality, the facts provide a startling lack of evidence in support of the theory of racial motivation. At the same time, they do provide solid evidence that both the media and so-called community activists like the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson need to promulgate the myth of ghetto culture in order to maintain power over an audience and presumed authority over an entire segment of the American population.
In a Senate chairman race billed as Tea Party conservative vs. GOP establishment, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) backed out and will let Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) have the gavel.
Sessions has been ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee for four years, and wanted to challenge the senior Enzi for the chairmanship in the 114th Congress.
In a statement yesterday, Sessions said he and Enzi, who both came to the Senate 18 years ago, “will long remain good and close friends.”
“We have talked and I am deferring to his seniority so that he can lead the Budget Committee as its Chairman beginning in 2015. Mike graciously deferred to me two years ago after he timed out on HELP as Ranking Member, and it has been my enormous privilege to serve as the panel’s Ranking Member these last four years, as well as to serve as the Judiciary Ranking Member for the two years before that,” Sessions said.
He pitched Enzi as “an accountant and a small businessman who understands the need to balance budgets and tell the truth about the numbers.”
“He is a man of integrity and principle, respected by all of his Senate colleagues. I am eager to assist him next year, and I hope to tackle the important issue of welfare reform,” Sessions added.
The Alabama Republican will serve on four committees come January: Armed Services, Budget, Environment and Public Works, and Judiciary.
“My roles in the Senate will give me the opportunity to focus on important issues such as defense, national security, federal debt, EPA reform, crime, and immigration,” Sessions added. “Overall, I remain deeply concerned about falling wages and the lack of good jobs for Americans. Too many of our citizens are either stuck in place or falling behind, and too often their needs are forgotten. Our new GOP Congress must put the needs of Americans first.”
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee, said Sessions has been “a tireless advocate for fiscal responsibility and pro-growth policies” on the Senate Budget Committee.
“I wish to congratulate Senator Enzi on his upcoming chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee,” Price said. “It will be an honor to work together as we address the tremendous fiscal and economic challenges facing our nation in a way that can achieve real, positive results for the American people.”
In an interview with People magazine, Michelle Obama gets serious about “the impact of stereotypes” in the “wake” of the Brown and Garner incidents:
“Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs,” Mrs. Obama said in the Dec. 10 interview appearing in the new issue of PEOPLE.
“I tell this story – I mean, even as the first lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.”
Word to the wise: The next time someone asks you to help them with an item on a shelf, they’re obviously racist. Michelle probably wanted to reply, “Can’t you see I’m the first lady?!” but instead checked her privilege. I’m sure she rewarded herself for that at Bergdorf’s later.
The president also chimed in:
A Washington state Democrat warned that President Obama could do some “really awful things” next year with legislative naiveté and his small core of advisers.
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Obama “made a mistake” by agreeing to sign the cromnibus without pressuring Republicans to take out Wall Street provisions objected to by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and others.
“He did not have to say he would support it. That he wanted us to pass it. We were in the midst of pulling it down in the Democratic caucus when the president suddenly jumped in and said, ‘Oh, well I want this.’ And I’m – what is very hard for me to understand is how he thinks that’s better for the American people,” McDermott said.
The congressman stressed that he “lived through the savings and loan crisis and then through the one that went on later.”
“And you got to say to yourself, when are you going to learn that people are greedy? And that government has to have regulations to control their greed. This is going to happen again as sure as I’m sitting here.”
McDermott said the country needs a president “who will act like Teddy Roosevelt did and break up the banks.”
“We cannot allow that much power to concentrate in so few hands. That’s what Teddy Roosevelt did as the trust buster. And what’s happened in this banking industry, the financial services industry, it’s got more and more powerful between, you know, Citizens United where they can pump all the money they want into the system to buy elections. And at the same time go out and play with the people’s money at the gambling table,” he continued.
“We have given them carte blanche to put us into something really horrendous. And I really think that as Elizabeth Warren suggested that bill should have broken up Citibank when it passed, the Dodd-Frank Bill. We didn’t do it. And we’re going to pay for it down the road.”
With Republicans in control of the House and Senate in the 114th Congress, McDermott stressed that Obama “is going to have to listen to some people other than the little group of people around him now.”
“He is all by himself. He doesn’t have the Senate to save him as they have in the last six years. And he is really in danger of really doing some awful things because he really doesn’t understand,” McDermott said.
“There is a story about Governor Ray of Iowa who was once asked about a bill and he said, ‘Listen, I vote last.’ And that’s what the president should have said when they asked him about this bill. I’m going to make my decision after I see what the House and Senate do. But he got into it way to early and put his cards on the table face up. You could see what he had.”
Who knew the “problem” of “income inequality” (to use a couple of current Marxist buzzwords) could be solved so easily? And here the answer was staring us in the face the whole time, at least according to Betsy Isaacson at what’s left of Newsweek, the near-dead magazine that once told us “We Are All Socialists Now“:
In the United States—as in all of the world’s wealthier nations—ending poverty is not a matter of resources. Many economists, including Timothy Smeeding of the University of Wisconsin (and former director of the Institute for Research on Poverty) have argued that every developed nation has the financial wherewithal to eradicate poverty. In large part this is because post-industrial productivity has reached the point where to suggest a deficit in resources is laughably disingenuous. And despite the occasional political grandstanding against welfare, there is no policy, ideology or political party that is on the books as pro-starvation, pro-homelessness, pro-death or anti-dignity. Yet, poverty continues to exist…
But there may be a solution. Some might see it as radical, but advocates, both libertarian and liberal, are suggesting straight up cash: a guaranteed subsidy to everyone. “We’ve got to a technological level now where no one needs to work the traditional 40-hour week,” says Barbara Jacobson, chair of Unconditional Basic Income–Europe, an alliance of European citizens and organizations that advocate for such subsidies.
A simple cash subsidy—$15,000 per year (which is about what the average retiree gets annually from Social Security) for every household, say—would give the poor and middle class a financial floor on which they could live, take care of their loved ones and maybe, says Jacobson, “think about what really needs doing, what they would like to do, what they have trained to do, as opposed to simply what someone might hire them to do.”
The gist of the argument here is that we inefficiently spend just about as much money servicing the poor via existing programs, so why not just give them a check? This obscures the hidden argument beneath, which is about the meaning of work and the value of one’s labor in the marketplace. Because to Leftists, there ought not be a marketplace at all.
And here silly you thought this kind of thinking went out with the Soviet Union. Marxism is like a pestilence, a virus that refuses to die. What will it take to finally throttle it?
The Senate passed the $1.1 trillion “cromnibus” appropriations bill late tonight, sending it to President Obama’s desk and averting a government shutdown.
The cromnibus squeaked past the House 219-206 on Thursday night. The vote tonight in the Senate was 56-40.
Between the cloture vote and the final cromnibus vote, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tried to shoot down the bill with a constitutional point of order related to the funding of Obama’s immigration orders. That was firmly rebuked on a 22-74 vote.
“The junior senator from Texas is wrong, wrong, wrong,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on the floor.
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) voted for the point of order. “Any attempt to circumvent Congress and grant amnesty to millions in this country illegally is unacceptable and unconstitutional,” Isakson said. “The president continues to circumvent Congress by executive action, and I am appalled that he is doing it once again with immigration.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who voted no, said the cromnibus “empowers the new Republican majority to fight the President’s unconstitutional immigration executive order head-on in January, when the era of unfettered, big-government liberalism from this White House comes to an end.”
“While the president’s executive actions on immigration are reprehensible and deserve a strong response, I value the oath I took to support and defend the Constitution too much to exploit it for political expediency,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said. “The Constitution gives Congress the power to fund the government so to assert that the House-passed spending bill is unconstitutional is not only inaccurate but irresponsible.”
The Senate voted for nearly 10 hours straight on Saturday beginning at noon, plowing through 28 votes.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sided with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in opposing the cromnibus from the left.
“Sadly, slipped into this measure at the last moment were massive special interest giveaways rolling back taxpayer protections against risky financial maneuvers by banks, reversing transportation safety rules, undercutting pension rights, and opening huge loopholes for billionaires to increase their influence on political campaigns and candidates. That is why I voted against this flawed measure – poisoned by special favors flagrantly contrary to the public interest,” Blumenthal said.
“Such provisions are unwise, unfair and unacceptable, snuck into the bill without debate or public scrutiny.”
Not voting over the weekend were Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.). Chambliss and Coburn are retiring.
Many GOP senators were irked at the strategy of Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to delay the cromnibus vote, as nominations pushed through in the weekend sessions included a key procedural vote on Obama’s controversial pick for surgeon general.
Vivek Murthy, a 37-year-old Harvard Medical School instructor who founded Doctors for Obama (which changed its name to Doctors for America) and who is lobbied against by the NRA as a gun-control activist, was nominated in November 2013. The final vote on his nomination could be as early as Monday.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) December 13, 2014
Rule change that allowed us to confirm noms with up-or-down votes: crucial. Getting help from Tea Party to confirm even more: priceless.
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) December 14, 2014
The Surgeon General nominee – previously blocked – will be confirmed due to missteps. He was far to radical to serve.
— Lindsey Graham (@GrahamBlog) December 14, 2014
I haven’t seen Harry Reid smile like this in years. I don’t like it one bit.
— Lindsey Graham (@GrahamBlog) December 14, 2014
The Senate’s self-proclaimed socialist will be moving from his Veterans Affairs Committee chairmanship to the top Democratic spot on the powerful Senate Budget Committee in the 114th Congress.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has been flirting with a potential 2016 presidential run on a platform of economic fairness, announced today that he’ll be the ranking member on the panel, which is currently helmed by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
“I want to thank Sen. Reid and the Democratic caucus for the opportunity to serve as the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee. At a time when the middle class is disappearing and the gap between the rich and everybody else is growing wider, we need a budget which reflects the needs of working families and not Wall Street and the top 1 percent,” Sanders said in a statement.
“I look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans on the committee to craft a budget that is fair to all Americans, not just the powerful special interests.”
Sanders was one of 14 votes Thursday against advancing a defense spending bill and planned to vote “no” on the “cromnibus” spending bill.
“Instead of cutting back on the ability of billionaires to buy elections, this bill outrageously gives the wealthy even more power over the political process,” Sanders said. “Instead of giving the Environmental Protection Agency the tools it needs to begin dealing with the planetary crisis of global warming, this bill would cut spending by the EPA.”
The current ranking member on the Budget Committee is conservative Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who is battling for the chairmanship versus Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.). The committee’s Republicans will pick the chairman by secret ballot after new members are seated next month.
Murray will become ranking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where current ranking member Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) doesn’t face opposition for the chairmanship.
The HELP Committee’s current chairman is retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
“I look forward to continuing my work on a Committee that does so much to impact policies that define who we are as a nation, what we value, and what we are doing to help all workers, families, and children succeed,” Murray said today. “Making progress on these priorities will take continued bipartisanship, but I believe the work we did to pass a bipartisan budget deal last year showed that Democrats and Republicans can come together on challenging issues and deliver results.”
“Our budget deal moved our country away from years of manufactured crises and helped to restore critical investments in education, research, infrastructure, and jobs,” she added in reference to the deal forged with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). That committee will be led by Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) in the next Congress.
Another liberal senator will take the top Democratic spot on an economic committee. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) announced today he’ll be the ranking member on the Senate Banking Committee.
“This committee is about ensuring a fair set of rules for all financial institutions while protecting taxpayers and consumers,” Brown said. “…We must ensure transparency and accountability for Wall Street and access to credit on fair terms for Main Street.”
Congress likes to keep its holiday traditions, such as averting a shutdown mere moments before the deadline.
With even Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) acknowledging the “cromnibus” nickname for the continuing resolution and omnibus hybrid, the $1.1 trillion spending bill squeaked by on a 219-206 vote.
It wasn’t just the Republicans who were falling away, but the Democrats were splintered — so much so that President Obama and Vice President Biden were ringing up Dems during the day and urging “yes” votes.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) blasted the deal that funds most of the government through Sept. 30 but the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 27. Hoyer, meanwhile, rallied Dems to pass it. Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) sided with Hoyer.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) argued that this was the best way to tackle Obama’s immigration actions in the new year with a GOP majority Senate and House.
“Over the 10-year window, we’re on-track to save taxpayers nearly $2.1 trillion. This bill also supports our national defense, particularly our efforts to defeat and destroy ISIL,” Boehner told reporters today. “It prevents a taxpayer bailout of Obamacare’s ‘risk corridor’ program while cutting funding for the IRS and the EPA.”
Some Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), were upset over alterations to the Wall Street reform bill included in the CR.
“While some members may have an objection to this issue or that issue, nobody did this unilaterally,” Boehner said. “We’ve done this in a bipartisan fashion and, frankly, it’s a good bill.”
In the end, 67 Republicans voted against the cromnibus. Fifty-seven Democrats voted for it.
“This bill funds the Department of Homeland Security, which would provide for much of the President’s immigration plan, at existing levels only into the beginning of next year. Then, Republicans will control both the House and the Senate next Congress and will be in a much stronger position to fight the President’s executive overreach on immigration,” said House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who blocked amendments in committee last night to defund Obama’s immigration orders. “That is why I fought to ensure that the House Rules Committee will allow for a vote on the House floor in January on a measure to block the President’s executive amnesty plan.”
“I remain strongly opposed to the President’s unconstitutional executive amnesty and I look forward to strategically fighting against his amnesty plan early next month in the beginning of the new Congress,” Sessions added.
Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) voted against the bill, saying he was disappointed that it provided funds for Obama’s “illegal and unconstitutional executive actions.”
“The president’s executive action on immigration is unconstitutional,” agreed Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas). “I can’t in good conscience support something that goes against the Constitution – not for 3 months, a week or even a day.”
The spending bill gets kicked back to the Senate on Friday. The upper chamber was expected to pass a 2-day spending bill tonight to allow time for debate.
The House gave a hearty standing ovation to Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), casting his last vote as the longest serving member of Congress in history. The departure of Dingell and Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) means there are no more World War II veterans in Congress.
Dingell, 88, and Hall, 91, served a combined 46 terms, or 92 years, in the House.
One of the running gags in Canadian playwright Jason Sherman’s controversial 1995 work Reading Hebron sees its overwhelmingly liberal Jewish characters regularly sighing, “Ah… Chomsky…” with the kind of ecstatic reverence you’d expect from Catholic saints in the midst of a mystical trance.
The play is still semi-regularly revived, and I doubt any dramaturge has felt it necessary to single out that line as anachronistic.
Unpopular opinion alert: Chomsky’s not all bad.
And asking why it takes 90 minutes longer to get from Boston to New York than it did in 1970 is more than reasonable.
(Although I suspect his solution might not be…)
However, one of Chomsky’s recent speeches has just been uploaded to YouTube, and one of my fellow Canadian bloggers, Richard Klagsbrun, is tearing into it with relish, as you’ll see on the next page. (Language warning.)
Reporting on the most idiotic study involving babies to date, Mother Jones covers a Yale (that’s right, the Ivy League university) study performed by cognitive scientist Paul Bloom that is focused on answering the question: “ Can the youngest of our species distinguish good from evil practically from birth—or does morality need to be taught?”
Bloom’s thesis, in all its eugenic creepiness:
“I think all babies are created equal in that all normal babies—all babies without brain damage—possess some basic foundational understanding of morality and some foundational moral impulses,” says Bloom on the Inquiring Minds podcast. “They’re equal in the same way that all babies come with a visual system, and the ability to move around, and a propensity to learn language.”
To this end, Bloom showed babies a series of morality puppet plays, one-act jobs where cats either steal or return balls to dogs and babies choose which kitty they like better. They invariably choose the nice kitty. No comment on whether or not these babies prefer the color grey (the evil cat is orange) or the actor handling the grey kitty puppet for any particular reason — because those variables don’t matter in science. Even more stupefying to the scientists, “babies show a preference for characters who reward good and punish evil.” Isn’t it amazing that babies would respond well to rewards? I bet no parent alive ever guessed that one!
At a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Lima, Peru, delegates from 196 parties are drafting a new legally binding treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that is to be completed next year in Paris, France. At the outset of negotiations, environmentalists are calling for the new treaty to mandate a cap and tax on greenhouse gas emissions to go into effect by 2020. And to eliminate the use of fossil fuels altogether by 2050.
President Obama’s recent climate announcement with China, that the U.S. would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28% below 2005 levels by 2025, is a boost to environmentalists at the Peru meeting that extends from December 1-12.
Stated by Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace, “In Lima, the countries must agree on the long-term goal of phasing out fossil fuel emissions to zero by mid-century while moving towards 100% renewable energy for all in a fair transition period. Subsidies for fossil fuel industries must be shifted towards renewable energy deployment and climate adaptation for vulnerable countries. In countries like the US, China, and the EU, the phase-out of coal must be accelerated.”
Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis, international policy adviser for Climate Action Network Latin America, added, “We must leave fossil fuels in the ground and not repeat the steps of the developed countries that brought us to this point.”
The UNFCCC thesis is that rich nations are responsible for climate change because they burn fossil fuels to produce energy, even though there is no conclusive science to substantiate the claims. Furthermore, the poor nations want the rich nations to fork over a minimum of $100 million annually for the UN’s Green Climate Fund that is to afford renewable energy for the poor.
On the first day of the conference, Climate Action Network, a conglomerate of 900 radical green groups from about 100 nations, mocked Australia, Belgium, Ireland and Austria because they have yet to donate to a new Green Climate Fund. With a new legally binding treaty, they hope to make nations pay penalties for using fossil fuels. The climate will continue to change, even if nations are energy poor.
Remember it was President Bill Clinton’s VP Al Gore who flew to Kyoto, Japan, in 1997 to revive talks for the same scheme to cap and tax greenhouse gas emissions. That treaty was never ratified by the U.S. Senate because it would have killed American jobs and devastated our economy. Even so, Americans should expect Obama to sign the new legally binding treaty before he leaves office, which should make American voters cautious about electing another President Clinton in 2016.
Wait for it…(emphasis mine)
One month after hitting its highest level in seven years, consumer confidence unexpectedly retreated in November, a sign that consumers are less optimistic about the U.S. economy as the holiday shopping season begins, the Conference Board reported Tuesday.
An overall gauge of consumer confidence fell to 88.7 in November from 94.1 in October, the New York-based research group said.
The drop erased all of October’s gain and left the index at its lowest level since June.
Do the members of the media, especially financial reporters, not realize how pathetic they appear now when using the words “unexpected” or “unexpectedly” in their knee-jerk covering for the president? Leftists can growl all they want about the wonders Obama has done for the economy but, other than the stock market, it’s been a “two steps forward, one and a half back” affair for the last six years. It’s just sad to see them pretending otherwise.
Quick aside: if a lib gets in your face about how awesome “Obama’s stock market” is just ask them if this means they’re on board with allowing citizens to make private Social Security investments in it.
Shuts ‘em up every time.
IJReview picked up on one of the funniest SNL sketches in recent (a.k.a. post-original cast) history. It was a Schoolhouse Rock! parody that aired last night, mocking Obama’s latest immigration-related executive order and complete disregard for the constitutional process:
It starts out with the familiar boy climbing the steps of Capitol Hill and asking what kind of bill is on the Hill with him. The bill responds with a jingle that he is an “immigration bill” and that he hopes he can be passed into law someday.
Cue the President shoving the bill down the stairs before inviting his buddy, the cigarette smoking “executive order,” into the picture.
The boy exclaims in bewilderment that what the President is doing is unconstitutional, but the executive order just laughs at the boy’s belief that he still thinks that is how government works.
The sketch may be tongue-in-cheek payback on the part of NBC after being snubbed by the president, whose administration just so happened not to request air time from the Big 4 to announce his executive order plans in prime time. Dubbed “The Commander-in-Chief of MSNBC,” Obama has employed his “heckler’s veto” multiple times in the past, and Saturday Night Live sketches were far from immune. Last night’s humor is obviously a sampling of what can happen when Tina Fey no longer manages the Obama campaign from its 30 Rock location.
Despite the president’s latest appearance on Univision and Telemundo, the majority of Latino voters disagree with his executive order and rate amnesty low on their list of priorities:
By a margin of 56 percent to 40 percent, Hispanic voters oppose allowing illegal immigrants to obtain federal benefits, including Obamacare benefits, “while they are going through the legalization process and before the 90% goal is reached.”
When asked to choose which of four issues — the economy, immigration reform, education, or health care — is most important to them, registered Hispanic voters said immigration reform was their lowest priority. Just 31 percent ranked the issue first or second, compared with 62 percent for the economy, 57 percent for health care, and 45 percent for education. Non-registered voters, on the other hand, ranked immigration reform as their highest priority.
Apparently SNL did a better job of marketing to a new target demographic than the Big-O.
Watch the video on the next page.
Elizabeth Warren, in her first major public speech since being elevated to the Democratic leadership in the Senate, slammed Republicans on education, job creation and other economic policies, warning Wednesday that “the American Dream is slipping out of reach.”
“We must fight back with everything we have,” Warren told a gathering hosted by the Center for American Progress in Washington. “The game is rigged but we know how to fix it. We know what to do. We tested the Republican ideas and they failed. They failed spectacularly there’s no denying that fact.”
As a science fiction fan, I have always hoped that evidence of parallel dimensions would show up during my lifetime and it would appear that the Democrats have been giving it to me for the last couple of weeks. They don’t seem to understand just how overwhelming their defeat was in this last election and that it was a rejection of their ideas, which are the ones that have been tested in this universe.
Warren even managed to tie taxpayer spending on high speed rail to the American Dream, which couldn’t possibly have involved any sort of thought process.
There isn’t an American alive who wakes up hoping for a better life through direct or indirect taxation, that’s the “Progressive Dream” and only the fevered fringes of American politics are having it.
For those who think she isn’t running for 2016, this is pretty much boilerplate Democrat presidential rhetoric. There’s always a lot of “fight” and “dream” talk, as well as scary stories about what the Republicans are doing to the middle class. In the politically diseased minds of progressives, the middle class will get better if it spends a lot more on health care premiums and pays for high speed rail to get to the poor house.
Scratch the parallel dimension idea, maybe they’re merely concussed.
There is enough hot air in this post to finally almost make humans the cause of climate change. Most of it could serve as fodder for some psychology grad work on “projection”. Let’s just grab a couple nuggets to pick apart.
Pop the Champagne corks in Washington! It’s party time for Big Energy.
Hey-it only took two sentences to find something ridiculous! “Big Oil” is now “Big Energy” and the seemingly minor change is notable. A central component to the push for federal subsidization of alternative energy sources is the notion that it’s the result of the imminent danger of polar bears floating through Manhattan and not influence peddling by lobbyists. It’s all part of the Democrat fairy tale that all of the money ever spent in politics comes from the checkbooks of Charles and David Koch. There is plenty of money in being a shill for Big Green (see: Al Gore’s bank account). The Dem narrative is reinforced by pretending that all energy lobby money is oil money.
None of their initiatives, however, will have as catastrophic an impact as their coming drive to ensure that fossil fuels will dominate the nation’s energy landscape into the distant future, long after climate change has wrecked the planet and ruined the lives of millions of Americans.
Get this poor man a tissue and some smelling salts. It’s as if he’s trying to turn hyperbole into an alternative energy source. Ratchet up the fear-mongering and hope no one notices that the computer models aren’t really looking that solid and the United States is now becoming energy independent (an idea all Democrats paid lip service to when they thought it only meant alternative fuels would make it happen).
Most amusing in this meltdown is the assertion that non-AGW hysterics have a “messianic belief” in the benefits of fossil fuels. The fastest growing religion on the planet is the Church of Anthropogenic Global Warming, which has resurrected the selling of indulgences from Middle Ages Catholicism and repacked it as carbon offsets. It even has its own elaborate climate-themed eschatology (WRECKED PLANET!).
All of this caterwauling has almost nothing to do with a genuine fear of the demise of the planet. It’s designed merely to obfuscate the almost purely political agenda of the Big Green movement. The panic needs to be at a fever pitch to keep the EPA running amok and taxpayer dollars flowing to fund technologies that can’t survive market testing at the moment, or maybe ever.
There are a lot of American cities buried in snow today. They’re looking for petroleum based heating solutions, not solar or wind. That petroleum is the better present day option isn’t a “messianic belief,” it’s reality.
Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. Senate scrambled on Monday to gather one last vote to pass a bill that authorizes the project that would help send Canadian oil to the U.S. Gulf, a task made harder after President Barack Obama made his toughest comments yet on the topic.
All eyes were on Senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat who is retiring. He had originally told backers he would vote “no.” But unions and the oil industry were pressuring him, an aide to a top Republican backer of the pipeline said. Rockefeller’s office did not immediately answer questions about his stance.
Senator Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat who is co-sponsoring the bill and faces a runoff for another six-year term next month, worked hard to gather the 60th vote needed to pass a bill that the House of Representatives approved on Friday.
An incumbent Senator desperate to win a runoff election sees the passage of this bill as her 11th hour savior. One would think that would send a message to the president about yielding on this issue.
We are not, however, going to be seeing any Clinton-esque triangulation from The Lightbringer. He remains blissfully unaware that his course for America was rejected with a resounding, “Oh HELL no!” at the beginning of the month and has no plans to stop being an irrational ideologue. Keystone XL runs counter to the interests of his big money green supporters, therefore he will do everything he can to block it.
So for those of you who thought he might back off on immigration…
What’s the deal with the climate-change deal Obama made with Chinese President Xi Jinping?
The leaders of the world’s two most powerful nations dress up in silk teddies to do this (in 22 words):
One leader “pledges” to do what he said he’d do five years ago.
The other “pledges” to do nothing for 15 years.
Obama committed the U.S. to concrete, measurable goals — 26-28% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, from the 2005 baseline, by 2025. But Obama had already committed to similar goals back in 2009 at the United Nations. For his part, Xi “pledged” that China would “plan” to have her CO2 emissions peak by the year 2030.
On the bright side, while Chinese carbon emissions skyrocket as a result of its rapid emergence from the stone age, along with heavy reliance on coal, U.S. emissions are already in steady decline, thanks to the moribund Obama economy, and the fact that those nice Chinese folks burn the coal to make the stuff that we use, so we don’t have to soil our hands with manufacturing…or coal. So, Obama’s climate change pledge is do-able, as long as Democrats keep their boot on the throat of the U.S. economy through taxation, regulation and profligate entitlement spending.
One can’t help but hope that the New York Times is right that Democrats will make climate change the centerpiece of their 2016 president campaign.
Under the assumption that the sort of regulations Obama vaguely proposed Monday would hurt profitability at ISPs, shares of Charter Communications dropped 6 percent, while Time Warner Cable was off 5 percent, Cablevision Systems was down 2 percent and Comcast, which is trying to purchase TWC, was off 4 percent.
Obama is now shifting into post-election tantrum mode and will probably be acting out a lot in the coming months when it comes to economic and personal freedoms, both of which he opposes. If you think you are paying too much for broadband right now just wait until the government starts helping to make things “fair.”
It’s probably not a stretch to think that this administration pays little regard to which industries its policies (or musings on policy) affect, as it has no respect whatsoever for the private sector.
In sensational language, Attorney General Eric Holder today announced the biggest enforcement action ever against a greenhouse gas violator, as the federal government penalized automaker Hyundai Group up to $350 million.
“This will send a strong message that cheating is not profitable and any company that violates the law will be held to account,” Holder said. “This announcement illustrates that this type of conduct quite simply will not be tolerated.”
What did they do to deserve the biggest spanking since the Supreme Court, in 2007, gave the EPA power to regulate greenhouse gases?
Hyundai Group overestimated the miles-per-gallon rating in about a quarter of their Kia and Hyundai models.
That means they’ve had to downgrade their fleet-wide 2012 fuel efficiency average from 27 all the way down to 26 MPG.
That 1 MPG variance apparently constitutes a high crime.
According to the EPA, the fine is the largest in Clean Air Act history, which the automakers violated when they sold close to 1.2 million vehicles that will emit approximately 4.75 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in excess of what the automakers certified to EPA.
The biggest part of the penalty comes in the form of lost carbon credits. Hyundai already compensated some 900,000 customers for the MPG misstatement, and characterizes the settlement as a welcome end to a two-year government inquisition.
“We’re going to be working with the EPA to make sure that the guidelines are easy to follow. … So we’re getting slapped on the wrist here [but] we did have an error, and we fixed this. It’s not going to happen again. We’re paying a penalty and it’s time to move on,” [Hyundai spokesman Jim] Trainor said.
While the issue may be behind Hyundai, the rest of the industry can’t breathe easy yet.
[EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy] said Hyundai’s conduct was the most “egregious” and “systemic,” but didn’t close the door on possible investigations against Ford Motor Co. or other automakers who have overstated mpg. Ford, BMW AG and Daimler AG have restated mileage ratings on vehicles over the last year.
Of course, corporations don’t pay fines any more than they pay taxes. You and I pay for all of it. So, now that you’ve been chastised, I hope we won’t have to have this conversation again.
Much like the First Lady on Scandal, Obama, Inc. has no problem using babies for political gain. While campaigning in Rhode Island for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo last Friday, Barack Obama declared:
“Sometimes, someone, usually Mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. That’s not a choice we want Americans to make.”
Tying motherhood to the workplace proved to be a well-timed twist on the tired old War on Women routine. That same evening, Drudge picked up on a New York Times page one headline that read
before it was quickly softened to
The article revealed that Dems are
…second-guessing the party’s strategy of focusing more on issues like abortion and birth control than on jobs and the economy.
The danger for Democratic candidates is that their advantage among women could be so reduced by dissatisfaction with President Obama and the country’s course that it is not enough to offset Republicans’ usual edge among the smaller population of male voters. Should that happen, a party pollster, Geoff Garin, acknowledged, “They’ll lose.”
Conservatives should not fail to recognize Obama’s Rhode Island line as an acknowledgement of his and his party’s political failures. Yet, tied to the War on Women’s dead weight, they can’t free themselves from their own rhetoric even when attempting to bring the economy into the discussion at the 11th hour. And while some working dads may appreciate the idea of increasing government programs so mom can get back to earning a paycheck, the pay gap myth remains lost on male voters seeking real solutions to the economic problems they’re facing.
A new survey reveals that companies like Facebook are on the cutting edge of the abortion argument when it comes to offering employees the freeze-your-eggs perk. For a new generation of career women, abortion rights (a.k.a. “reproductive justice”) are becoming increasingly tied to “economic justice”. Reporting on the survey, Maya Dusenbery, Executive Director of Feministing writes:
Far from seeing abortion access as something that shouldn’t be included in the broader agendas–let alone a poison pill that would sink their support for the legislation–voters agreed that reproductive rights are pretty key part of ensuring gender equality. As the chart above shows, strong majorities in both states agreed that a woman’s ability to control whether or when she has children is important to her financial stability and equality.
When the question is about the impact of access to abortion specifically, the figure drops slightly to about half. But that simply suggests that we need to more clearly show that abortion is a very common way that people control their reproductive lives–by fighting the stigma that paints folks who have abortions as “the other” when in fact we’re not–and continuing to highlight just how precarious access to the procedure has become, particularly for those with the least financial stability.
Results of the survey illustrate that the highest supporters of government funded abortion are African Americans, Latinos, and those with household incomes less than $50,000/year. The racial statistics shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that the majority of abortions are performed among the Black and Latino communities:
According to 2010 census data, African Americans make up 12.6% of the U.S. population but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that black women accounted for 35.4% of all abortions in 2009. The Guttmacher Institute (AGI) puts the percentage of black abortions at 30% of the U.S. total.Their most recent numbers are from 2008. Similarly, AGI tells us that Hispanic women accounted for 25% of all U.S. abortions in 2008, though Hispanics make up just 16.3% of the U.S. population.The CDC lists the percentage of Hispanic abortions at 20.6%. Compare those numbers to non-Hispanic whites, who make up 63.7% of America’s population, but account for only 36% of all U.S. abortions (37.7%according to the CDC).
“I have to tell you the truth,” said Christie, a potential 2016 presidential candidate. “I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage. I really am. I don’t think there’s a mother or father sitting around a kitchen table tonight saying ‘you know honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my god – all our dreams would be realized.”
Christie continued, “Is that what parents aspire to for our children?
The Democrats have seized on the minimum wage issue during this election cycle because it is one of those heartstrings-tuggers that make for an easy sell to the low-info crowd and because they are loathe to bring up Obamacare.
Christie gets close to the real heart of the matter here: Democrats don’t want people to aspire to bigger things. Now that the party is firmly in the grip of its progressive lunatic fringe, it behooves them to encourage Americans to remain in circumstances that will forever keep them dependent upon the government for survival, which a slightly increased minimum wage most certainly does. They demonize anyone who correctly describes what the minimum wage is supposed to be: an entry-level, part-time wage for younger people.
The fact that so many adults are working for minimum wage, rather than the wage itself, is the real problem.
OK, the fact that Democrats want to make people more comfortable in jobs they should be trying to get out of is the real problem.
Say what you will about the Tea Party, it has not only given voice to those who hold dear conservative values, but to paraphrase Mr. Newton, it has engendered an equal and opposite reaction from those who inhabit the left side of the political spectrum. Ironically, this vociferous differentiation has placed greater import on the new electoral power brokers, independent voters.
Nothing bad happens when Americans get fired up about the political process, regardless of whether they spin to the left or the right, or mark time in the middle. Feeling pressure to take a political position typically manifests in becoming a more knowledgeable voter. If America is to ever solve its many challenges, those solutions will be demanded by an informed electorate who hire representatives to serve them, rather than anoint a self-serving political class.
Something good would happen if small business stakeholders were as politically organized and influential as other single-issue groups, like unions. If small business were a country, Wikipedia would describe Small Business USA like this: Population: 125 million (owners, employees and dependents). Economy: Largest on the planet. Contribution to society: Significant. Organized political influence for its own interests: Negligible.
What’s wrong with this picture?
With so much to contribute, Small Business America has many reasons to catch the tide of electoral fervor and become more involved in the political process.
Most of my immediate family are and were small business owners (different kinds, there is no “family business), and I know from that experience that they tend to be more conservative. The small business owners they do business with tend to be the same.
The point here about the SBA having political influence that is inversely proportional to its economic clout is important and one that isn’t talked about much. If ever a time existed to address it, it’s now. So many of the progressive left boondoggles that have been passed and are being fought for place and undue burden on small businesses. Boeing can absorb the ever-escalating costs of the PPACA without blinking an eye because it will have an easier time of spreading around how it passes those costs on. Joe’s Construction, however, will not.
The $15 an hour minimum wage is something that is championed by people who, by and large, have never run a business in their lives and think most money can be “POOFED” into existence by governmental mandate. This is another progressive favorite that disproportionately affects small biz owners.
Large industries (health care, insurance, etc.) and Big Labor all have powerful political lobbies. The Small Business Association has a seat at the table but it’s WAY at the end where almost no one can hear it and the good stuff is gone by the time the serving dishes are passed down there.
It would be good for the country if:
a) The SBA upped its political clout and,
b) One of the two major parties (hint, hint) gave them something to vote for again.
Wall Street has loved President Obama for most of the last 6 years, just look at this chart to prove the point.
The market has produced a fortune for Wall Street and their investors. Free money from the Federal Reserve Quantitative Easing gave Wall Street an aggressive buyer of US Government bonds and mortgages. The Fed balance sheet is now in excess of four trillion dollars and for now the Fed has indicated they have finished their buys.
The real beneficiary of all this wealth creation was President Obama. Some Americans saw their net worth increase and by association have given the credit for all the new wealth to President Obama. In fact the rally in the markets has been dubbed the “Obama Rally.” The logic has been if people’s wealth is growing, they will overlook all the rest of the bad things going on in the country. I believe the markets are telling us with the most recent declines that the good times may be over, the “Obama Rally” has come to an end.
The chart below shows what has happened in the last 4 weeks.
Not only has the stock market declined, we have seen a significant decline in the price of oil and other commodities including the price of gold. Interest rates are near their all time lows and yet the IMF now predicts that American GDP for this year will be about 1.5%. The IMF just reported that China has replaced America as the largest economy in the world. Why did this happen? Simple, look at the same number the IMF looks at — GDP. America over the last 6 years according to the World Bank grew 5.7%, or less than 1% per year. China for the same period grew 44.3%, or 7.38% annually. This means that in about three quarters of one year China grew more than America did in the last 6 years.
This past summer with the beheading of American journalists the American people became disenchanted with the president and his poll number proves this dissatisfaction. Wall Street is now looking at America in a different way and in turn they are looking at Obama differently. Many Wall Street pundits have various reasons why the sell-off is taking place, I believe they are beginning to believe that Americas best days are behind us and that President Obama has reached his goal of leading from behind, China is now the leader in the world.
Only time will tell if what is happening in the markets is just a minor correction or the start of a major sell-off. One indicator to watch is the 200-day moving average of the Dow Jones. We are currently at that average support level, if we break through this support level then we could go to 16,330. If we break this then we will have to test the 15,500 level. If these support levels are penetrated then look for Wall Street to become more critical of Obama.
When people start losing money they will look to someone else to blame, and President Obama will get that blame just like he got all the glory. The loss of trillion’s of dollars makes people think differently.
Last week we mentioned that President Obama wanted to shift the conversation to the economy, “the issue U.S. voters care most about” leading up to the election. He may want to rethink that after finding out about this CNBC poll. He also may want a drink.
Investigative journalist, New York Times bestselling author and troublemaker Jason Mattera is back.
His third book, Crapitalism: Liberals Who Make Millions Swiping Your Tax Dollars, takes a searing look at dozens of liberals whose love of big government is, shall we say, less than altruistic.
They love big government because they love big money. Big government makes them big fat cats. If we shrink government, they might have to go out and earn an honest living on their own. So big-name lefty Democrats like Al Gore and Tom Steyer will hate this book. The rest of us should love it. And be enraged by it. The fact is, these one-percent leftists are costing the rest of us millions and billions. And they never show any sign of having a scintilla of a conscience about it.
Mattera is probably best known for taking down Micheal Bloomberg, Harrison Ford, Robert Redford, Hillary Clinton and others in his trademark ambush viral videos. You’ll find the same sass and wit throughout Crapitalism, but he backs up every claim with copious footnotes. In fact, he has included 26-pages of footnotes. This is one well-researched book written by a patient and accomplished investigator. Crapitalism took about a year to write, and it shows in the details that Mattera digs up and backs up on every page.
It probably seems a little weird to praise a book for the way it is laid out, but here Mattera has done readers a great service. Each crapitalist — a crony big-goverment lover who feeds at the public trough while the rest of us get to pay for it through higher taxes — gets their own chapter. Readers will not have to go hunting around for evidence that former drug dealer Jay-Z is a crapitalist. That story starts right on page 83. Jay-Z gets his own chapter, as do all the other crapitalists.
Why is Obama friend Jay-Z, who is as well known for Big Pimpin’ as big spendin,’ a “crapitalist?” Because of his involvement with the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center. Z (can I call him “Z?” I hope he doesn’t mind) joined a group that used public financing — tax dollars — to move the Nets from New Jersey to Brooklyn as its unofficial mascot (and part owner). The group secured $761 million in taxpayer subsidies to move the team and build them a new arena to play in. At the same time, Jay-Z’s other non-government funded investments, his club in Chicago and his other club in Atlantic City, have shuttered. He also lost a cool $50 million in a hotel deal. But he has the Nets, the government subsidies backing them, and he has his and Beyonce’s music careers to fall back on, so don’t worry about him. He’ll get by.
Mattera goes line by line and penny by penny, showing how some very familiar names and some less familiar, but very influential, people are gaming the system, getting rich, become crapitalist tycoons — all funded by American taxpayers when we’re supposedly in an era of “austerity.” Not all of them are Democrats. Some of them are former capitalists who have jumped in the sack with big government to line and re-line and re-line their pockets. That’s what crapitalism is — corrupting real, vibrant capitalism by using government and its ability to demand tax dollars at the point of a gun from some to hand out to connected crony others, to make them filthy, stinking rich.
And the way that Mattera has organized the book, giving each crapitalist their own chapter, makes this sharp, entertaining, infuriating and aggravating read a true reference book that should be in every taxpayer’s collection (but not with taxpayer funding, of course). Virginia’s new governor, Terry McAuliffe, gets his own chapter starting on page 31. Hollywood big-shot Steven Spielberg comes in for truth-telling on page 109. Jeffrey Katzenberg follows him on page 117. Algore, Warren Buffet, GE’s Jeffrey Immelt (a registered Republican), space ace Elon Musk, George Soros, Carlos Slim — they’re all here, along with others like John Podesta, Harry Reid, Zygi Wilf and Rep. Maxine Waters. Hear of a new fat cat who’s suddenly bankrolling a candidate in your state? Flip open Crapitalism. They’re probably in there. Or maybe they’ll be in the next edition. There’s no shortage of crapitalists out there.
Crapitalism will make you laugh, it will make you mad, and it will make you question just about every big-name leftist and government-hugging grifter out there. This is Jason Mattera’s best and most useful book to date.
Crapitalism: Liberals Who Make Millions Swiping Your Tax Dollars comes out in book and Kindle form October 7. See Mattera’s ambush of IRS villain Lois Lerner here.
Every time I stoop down to take a sip from a water fountain, I marvel at how far the human race has come. Something as simple as getting a quick drink of water, which we in the first world take wholly for granted, would have occupied a significant portion of a person’s day just a handful of decades ago.
Think of it. Imagine what life would be like without indoor plumbing and modern methods of water distribution. What if you had to go out and find a natural source of water to sustain yourself and your family? How different would your life look? It’s humbling to consider.
With that in mind, imagine if someone had argued at the dawn of indoor plumbing that one out of every three jobs would be lost to the scary new technological development. How would you respond? Knowing what we all do now, we would regard the claim as ludicrous. After all, what kind of jobs would we be talking about? Digging wells? Schlepping buckets back from the nearest river? Who would want to do that when you could simply turn a facet in your home and let the life-giving bounty flow? Think of all the time saved by not having to seek water, the other things we’re able to do, the quality of life we’re able to enjoy.
We should keep that in mind when regarding claims like those coming out of Gartner’s Symposium/ITxpo this week. Computer World reports:
Smart machines are an emerging “super class” of technologies that perform a wide variety of work, both the physical and the intellectual kind, said [Peter Sondergaard, Gartner's research director]. Machines, for instance, have been grading multiple choice for years, but now they are grading essays and unstructured text.
This cognitive capability in software will extend to other areas, including financial analysis, medical diagnostics and data analytic jobs of all sorts, says Gartner.
“Knowledge work will be automated,” said Sondergaard, as will physical jobs with the arrival of smart robots.
“Gartner predicts one in three jobs will be converted to software, robots and smart machines by 2025,” said Sondergaard. “New digital businesses require less labor; machines will be make sense of data faster than humans can.”
Even if Gartner’s prediction pans out, and one out of three current jobs is soon lost to the rise of intelligent machines, that does not mean life will soon get worse for humankind. On the contrary, to the extent work can continue to be automated by computers and robots, the cost of production will drop, and the ability of humans to pursue more meaningful work will increase.
New jobs will emerge which we lack the context to imagine. Someone working in the 1890’s could hardly envision a functioning world without blacksmiths, to say nothing of comprehending information technology. Yet here we are, enjoying a quality of life far in excess of theirs.
The whole notion of children growing up to be whoever they want to be, and to do whatever they want to do, is recent to civilization. It wasn’t that long ago that your occupation, indeed your entire life’s path, was dictated by the fundamental requirements survival. Advancements in automation will only broaden the horizons of future generations.
(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 15:12 minutes long; 14.66 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)