» Economy

The PJ Tatler

Think Promising to Cut Taxes Will Help Conservatives? Think Again

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Because the dirty little secret is, most people don’t pay much of anything in federal taxes. Even worse, they look at their “refund” — which is actually an interest-free overpayment loan to the government — as found money; for them, April 15 is not Tax Day, it’s the second coming of Christmas:

“Get your billions back, America.”

That H&R Block admonition–a clever ad campaign–shows the inherent conflict with the Republican Party’s anti-tax philosophy. For most Americans, April 15 is not a day to pay taxes. It’s a time to get a refund. An industry has sprung up to help Americans spend their refunds even before they have arrived.

This dynamic makes it hard for Republicans to pass comprehensive changes to the tax code, especially for individuals. There’s simply not a great appetite among most voters to change a tax code that doesn’t require them to pay all that much. A Pew Research Center study found that 53% of Americans believe they pay the right amount in taxes. Only 40% believe they pay more than their fair share.

But there is also a widely held perception that at the federal level, the tax system is broken. Sixty-four percent of Americans believe that corporate America doesn’t pay enough in taxes, even though the U.S. has the world’s highest corporate tax rate.

That was one of the many flaws of the Willard Mitt Romney candidacy: nobody except the those who actually pay taxes cares. And by those who actually pay taxes I mean almost nobody:

The Top 50 Percent of All Taxpayers Paid 97 Percent of All Income Taxes; the Top 5 Percent Paid 57 Percent of All Income Taxes; and the Top 1 Percent Paid 35 Percent of All Income Taxes in 2011.

Also remember that the income tax (a “progressive-era” amendment) doesn’t tax wealth, it prevents the middle class from ever accumulating wealth. That’s why rich Democrats like John Kerry, who married his money, or the Kennedys, who inherited it, don’t give a fig about the income tax. And why you’re never likely to see meaningful tax reform.

 

Read bullet | Comments »

Welp…Now We Know How Hillary Feels About Common Core

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

[Begins at 5:33]

During a campaign event at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton was finally asked to say something about Common Core — which promises to be a prominent issue in the 2016 campaign. Of course, it wasn’t a reporter who asked Clinton about the wildly unpopular educational standards, it was a teacher and Common Core supporter who said it is “painful” for her to see the standards attacked.

Clinton agreed wholeheartedly. “You know when I think about the really unfortunate argument that’s been going on around Common Core, it’s very painful,” she said.

[Not to be confused with the Benghazi attack, which she said was "very, very painful."]

She defended the standards, saying they were the result of a “bipartisan effort … actually, nonpartisan project.”

“It wasn’t politicized. It was about coming up with a core of learning that we might expect students to achieve across our country, no matter what kind of school district they were in, no matter how poor their family was. That there wouldn’t be two tiers of education,” Clinton said.

She speculated that Iowans were more supportive of Common Core because “Iowa has had a testing system based on a core curriculum for a really long time. And you see the value of it. You understand why that helps you organize your whole education system. A lot of states, unfortunately, haven’t had that. So [they] don’t understand the value of a core, in this sense a common core.”

[Perhaps what they don't understand is why every state needs the same standards with the same tests and why the federal government needs to be involved.]

“I was a senator and voted for Leave No Child Behind (sic) because I thought every child should matter,” Clinton said. “And [it] shouldn’t be ‘you’re poor or you’ve got disabilities so we’re going to sweep you to the back, don’t show up on test day because we don’t want to mess up our scores.’” Instead, Clinton said every child should have the same opportunities.

[Has she not heard of the Atlanta testing scandal where teachers were sent to prison for leaving poor and disabled children behind by falsifying their test scores?]

So in summary, Clinton supports a federally mandated one-size-fits all set of standards for every school in the country. It’s good that we got this cleared up early on in the campaign. Common Core promises to be a tremendous populist and crossover issue for Republicans — as long as they don’t choose a pro-Common Core candidate like Jeb Bush or John Kasich.

Read bullet | 10 Comments »

Sarah Silverman Apologizes for Fake Story…Sort Of…Then Doubles-Down on Fake Story

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 - by Scott Ott
Sarah Silverman

Sarah Silverman may not think the “wage gap” for women is funny, but her false personal victimization story, and today’s inaccurate, impersonal apology is a howler.

In an exclusive to Salon.com, comic Sarah Silverman has apologized — sort of — to former New York Comedy Club owner Al Martin for naming and shaming him in a video meant to advance the cause of equal pay for women.

And while she acknowledges that her story about being cheated out of equal pay had nothing to do with sexism, equal pay or cheating, she indicates that that was not her main mistake.

SILVERMAN: My regret is that I mentioned Al [Martin] by name- it should have been a nameless, faceless anecdote and he has always been lovely to me.

In other words, the false story itself was fine, but it would have been a better without identifying details that a nosy reporter could verify or discredit, as I did here, with a follow-up here.

SILVERMAN: This is also HARDLY an example of the wage gap and can only do that very true reality a terrible disservice if I were trying to make it one.  When I was interviewed by Levo, they asked me “Do you remember a time you were paid less for the same job” and this story, being just that, popped into my head.   To Al, I truly am sorry to bring you into this as you employ women and pay them the same as the men I’m sure.

While she offers this public written online apology to Martin, as of 2:40 p.m. (EDT) on Tuesday, she had not contacted him personally. But notice that we can be sure the “wage gap” issue is legit, despite her false story, because she calls it a “very true reality.”

But that’s not the end of her story telling. In her public “apology” Silverman offers a new account of that night in 2002. Today (Tuesday), I asked Al Martin about the shifting story. Turns out that Silverman’s new account is no more accurate than her old one, even as details change.

SILVERMAN: I didn’t expect to get paid, that’s not why I was there, but when I got off stage Al, the sweet club owner, paid me 10 bucks and I signed the payment sheet. I was like, oh, nice. I inferred from that that this was a paid spot not a guest spot.  Either way I would have been fine.

Martin says he didn’t pay Silverman anything when she got off the stage, as is the custom with guest spots. He gave her $10 cab fare only after she came back inside the club to complain that Todd Barry was paid and she was not. The tale continues…

SILVERMAN: Then when Todd pointed out that he received 60 dollars for the same spot I went back inside and asked Al why Todd got sixty dollars and I got ten. That’s when he certainly could have said “Because it was a guest spot, Sarah.  I was just being super nice and gave you ten dollars for cab money.”

Actually, Martin stands behind his original version: He did tell her it was a guest spot when she complained, and then gave her $10, but openly admits he was not “super nice.” He just wanted the conflict to end.

SILVERMAN: But instead, (and I will always remember this exactly how he said it because it was unbelievably hilarious) he said, “Oh- did you want a $60 spot?”

Martin flatly denies this: “I never said the $60 line.”

Despite the inaccuracies, Al Martin said Silverman’s apology is adequate. The married father of three daughters has previously noted that he agrees with the equal pay for women cause and conducts his business accordingly.

One final note of insincerity: Sarah Silverman’s apology comes with this proviso.

To the maniacs who want to use this as a chit against women’s issues, I ask that you please don’t.  Because that would be super shitty. Feel free to aim your vitriol at me but leave this issue of working women out of it, K?

And that’s the moment where the alleged “apology” turns into an attack against “the maniacs” — Silverman’s term of endearment for those who disagree with her. Despite their anti-woman stand, however, she does ask “the maniacs” nicely: “please don’t.”

To sum up, let’s follow the Leftist logic.

1) Silverman was recruited because her notoriety might help the cause.

2) She fabricated a story to identify with the cause, and ostensibly with its female victims.

3) She is unmasked as a liar, and now wants you to disassociate her from the cause to which her notoriety and personal identification brought more than 166,000 viewers.

4) If you insist on disagreeing with the cause, you’re a “maniac.”

Read bullet | 25 Comments »

Second Witness Contradicts Leftist Comic Sarah Silverman’s Wage Discrimination Video

Monday, April 13th, 2015 - by Scott Ott

Chris Murphy says he was there on the night that comic Sarah Silverman said she got $10 for the same work for which a male comic earned $60. Murphy says Silverman’s story of sexism, told for a video campaign (see below) that champions equal pay for women, is not accurate. He backs then-New York Comedy Club owner Al Martin’s claim that comics — male or female — who just drop in and ask to do a set, like Silverman did that night in 2002, don’t get paid anything.

Murphy, in a Facebook post Monday afternoon, says even Bill Hicks and Rodney Dangerfield, who were big names back in that day, didn’t expect compensation for guest spots at comedy clubs.

“There has been some He said she said things going on about the night in question between her [Silverman] and Al Martin. I feel I’m qualified to write about it since I was there.

I can confirm Sarah was not booked on the show, because I remember being excited she stopped in. Sarah rarely if ever played The New York Comedy Club. It could be because she was under the impression Al never paid comedians.

I gather this because when she came outside after her set she said, “Wow that was a great crowd. The place is packed. Al should be paying comedians”. The hilarious Todd Barry and I informed her he does. She went inside and asked to be paid. The rest is social media history.” — Chris Murphy on Facebook, April 13, 2015

Sarah Silverman direct message to Scott Ott on TwitterAfter writing about Silverman’s comedically sketchy story last week, I reached out to her. She responded with a direct message on Twitter. Silverman said, “What are you fighting for or against exactly. It’s true. He [Al Martin] took advantage of someone he assumed wouldn’t say anything. That’s the point.”

Actually, that’s not the point of the “wage gap” video Silverman made for Levo.com, nor is it the reality of events as we’ve now heard from two other witnesses.

Chris Murphy at New York Comedy Club

Chris Murphy on Monday became the second witness to contradict Sarah Silverman’s story about wage discrimination which forms the spine of her video about women earning less than men for the same work.

Like many Leftists with a cause, Silverman tries to identify with victims — in this case, women who purportedly get paid less than men for the same work. But even though she went back 13 years to find a personal example, her victim-tale won’t bear scrutiny. She makes it sound like Martin withheld from her the ordinary pay for a comedy set, but ponied up fully for male comic Todd Barry.

Martin maintains that Barry was scheduled for that night, and thus budgeted, but Silverman asked to do a set when she saw the great crowd. When she came back and asked for equal pay because she did the same work as Barry, Martin gave her $10 for cab fare. So, she was actually paid something when the standard expectation for guest spots is $0.

Chris Murphy added…

“I’m not sure why Sarah believed she was taking [sic] advantage of that night because she was a woman. Perhaps she was out of the loop so long she forgot the guest spot policy. Or it could be that in some circles it’s hip to crap on Al Martin.”

If Martin and Murphy are right, then Silverman’s story is not merely a mis-remembering or misunderstanding. She says she went back into the club after learning Barry got paid, and she asked Martin for $60. Silverman says that he sheepishly said, “O, did you want a $60 spot?” — as if he were caught in the act of cheating her, ostensibly because she’s a woman. She calls his behavior “pretty shitty.”

In other words, in the video, Silverman calls out Martin for sex discrimination and deception. I have repeatedly attempted to ask Silverman about these challenges to her narrative, but have heard nothing in response since her direct message on Twitter. At this writing, that video has been viewed more than 162,000 times, but apparently many viewers aren’t buying her story either. Check out the lopsidedly negative thumbs up-to-thumbs down ratio: 379-to-4,828.

Sarah Silverman's apparently false tale of wage discrimination getting panned on YouTube

If equal pay for women is a real problem, why can’t celebrity Leftists tell a real, true story about it? If there are real victims, these fake stories can do nothing but harm them.

 

 

 

Read bullet | 16 Comments »

Should the Right Reject a Feminism That Fights for Men?

Monday, April 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The Telegraph has picked up on one of the equity feminists breaking new ground in the War on Men, American Enterprise Institute’s resident scholar, Christina Hoff Sommers. With more than 2 million views, her Factual Feminist series is drawing some serious attention from a mainstream media bogged down by the likes of Jessica Valenti and her contemporary feminist man-hating ilk. How did these man-haters grab the spotlight? Hoff Sommers explains:

“…In the early 1990s, I – along with several other feminist scholars (Wendy Kaminer, Daphne Patai, Camille Paglia, Mary Lefkowitz, Katie Roiphe, to name only a few) – went to battle against hard-line, sex-panicked conspiracy feminists like Andrea Dworkin. My side won the arguments, but their side quietly assumed all of the assistant professorships. So colleges are now full of gender scholars who instruct students on the ravages of the capitalist, heterero-patriachal system and its ‘rape culture’. Everywhere we hear about ‘micro-aggressions’, ‘trigger-warnings’, and the toxicity of masculinity. It’s as if George Orwell’s Junior Anti-sex League has occupied feminism.”

So, with a host of feminists like Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia actively advocating for men, should conservatives simply toss off feminism as a man-hating movement that’s past its prime? The social media stats say it’s time to get on the countercultural feminist bandwagon.

Read bullet | Comments »

Rand Paul for Prez Ad Conveniently Leaves Out Important Anti-Israel Fact

Monday, April 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

A little reminder for those still intent on believing Rand is nothing like his anti-Semitic daddy:

Back in 2011, when Paul was just settling into the Senate, he proposed a budget that was more fiscally conservative than the proposals offered by his Republican contemporaries. In a bid to cut $500 billion from the federal budget, Paul proposed a spending outline that would have eliminated foreign aid entirely.

Paul’s cuts weren’t targeted at Israel specifically, which gets about $3 billion a year from the United States, mostly in military assistance. But by cutting all aid to foreign countries, Paul’s proposal would have zeroed out Israel’s aid.

The younger Paul echoed his 2011 statements on his 2013 visit to Israel, a trip viewed as his attempt to distance himself from his father’s anti-Semitic character ahead of an anticipated 2016 presidential bid:

He said the U.S. should first target unfriendly countries for cuts, and only after that should Israel be subject to cuts. And he pointed out that Mr. Netanyahu told Congress in 1996 that “ultimately he would like to see Israel independent of foreign aid as well.”

Despite his support for the Iron Dome and presentation of an act that would end funding to the Palestinian Authority, Paul remains an isolationist. His views are reminiscent of the populists who ran amok in the decade before World War 2. One is left wondering if Paul’s hands-off approach to foreign intervention, financially or otherwise, wouldn’t just wind up being the Republican version of Obama’s head-in-the-sands of the golf course mentality.

Read bullet | 37 Comments »

Did Sarah Silverman Fake Her Story for Wage Discrimination Video?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 - by Scott Ott

I should have known. Just this morning, I praised lefty standup comic Sarah Silverman for a new video where she encourages underpaid women to “ask for more.” It’s the perfect free-market antidote to perceptions of unequal pay.

In the video, from the Levo League, Silverman tells of a male comic being paid six times what she was on the same night, in the same club, for the same amount of work.

But the comedy club owner who allegedly underpaid Silverman back in 2002 tells a significantly different story about that night. He says Silverman actually got paid a little for what 99% of standup comics do for free.

Here’s the tale as Silverman tells it, in a video from the Levo League (below):

“I was doing stand-up, you know, just around town. And I did a show — I was out with my friend Todd Barry and we were doing sets around town together. And you know I was pretty well known already, and we both did back-to-back 15-minute sets at this club, the New York Comedy Club, and he paid me 10 bucks.

It was a Saturday night. I didn’t think anything of it, you know. And we were outside talking and Todd somehow brought up, you know, mentioned that he got 60 bucks. He just got $60, and I just got $10. We did the exact same time back-to-back in the same show.

And so I went back inside and I asked the owner, Al Martin, and I said “Al, you why did you pay me $10 and you gave Todd Barry $60?” And he, you know, it was so perfect: He goes, “O, did you want a $60 spot.” It was symbolic. I didn’t need $60. But it’s … um … you know, it’s pretty shitty.”

Sarah Silverman

In a “wage gap” video for Levo League, comic Sarah Silverman tells a personal tale of wage discrimination. But the man she accuses of discrimination tells a different story.

On the phone Tuesday afternoon, Al Martin — who sold the New York Comedy Club about eight months ago, but still owns the Broadway and Greenwich Village Comedy clubs — said he and his wife remember that night about 13 years ago, because it was the start of a longstanding “grudge” he’s heard that Silverman still holds against him.

In Martin’s telling, comedian Todd Barry was booked, in advance, to perform a set that night, for which he would be paid $50. Barry arrived with Sarah Silverman, who Martin knew from their early days doing open-mic standup.

“We have a budget and he [Todd Barry] was included in the deal,” Martin said. “Sarah came in, saw we had a good crowd, and asked to do 10 minutes.”

The common practice in comedy clubs, said Martin, is if you ask to perform, you do it for free. Even big names never expect to get paid for guest spots.

Afterward, Martin said he looked outside: ”I see her [Silverman] outside talking to Todd Barry,” he said.

Martin assumed they were talking about how well they did with the crowd. He was wrong. Silverman came back into the club, and here’s what Martin remembers (written as dialogue so it’s a bit easier to follow.)

SILVERMAN: You didn’t pay me.

MARTIN: Pay you? It was a guest spot.

["So I gave her 10 bucks," Martin said. "I didn’t want to piss her off."]

SILVERMAN: What the f— is this?

MARTIN: What do you mean what the f— is that? It’s cab fare.

SILVERMAN: You paid Todd $50.

MARTIN: Todd had a booked spot.

SILVERMAN: I did the same amount of time he did.

MARTIN: If you did the same time, you went over your time.

“Ever since then she’s had a grudge,” Martin said. “My intention wasn’t to pay her less because she was a woman. My intention was to shut her up so she would come back.”

Martin said Silverman never came back.

“At the time that this even occurred,” he said, “she would not have been on my regular roster of people that I would have booked for a full-paid spot. She was a very different comedian back then.”

However, he added that later, as Silverman’s career took off, he would have booked her.

Martin said that on Monday when he saw the wage gap video, “I was shocked. I don’t get why she took things the whole wrong way. I didn’t think she equated this with a man-woman thing. She comes out with this video and turns it into a whole gender thing. It’s not believable. Everybody knows what the going rate is.”

Martin said he’s married to a woman, has three daughters, and he has hired many female comics at the full-pay rate over his 20+ years in the business.

Coincidentally, just last night his Broadway club served as the venue for an all-female comedy show, produced by a woman, called “Broadly Funny.”

————————————-

NOTE:  I reached out by email, Twitter, Facebook and phone today to Sarah Silverman, the Levo League, and Todd Barry, but have not yet heard from any of them. I’ll update this story if they respond.

Read bullet | 28 Comments »

Eureka! Leftist Comic Sarah Silverman’s ‘Equal Pay for Women’ Video Gets the Answer Right…Seriously

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 - by Scott Ott

Sarah Silverman, the left-wing standup comic, just did a serious video about equal pay for women (see below), and started with a personal story about how a male comic friend played the same club back-to-back with Silverman’s set one night, yet he received six times as much money for the gig as she did.

Sarah, upon learning this, returned to the club and asked the owner why. She asked for more.

What an incredibly beautiful, free-market, capitalistic, meritocratic thing to do. Bravo, Sarah Silverman!

“I think the best person for the job should get jobs. I’m all for women having to work harder to prove themselves at this juncture, if that’s the way it is in the world. But if you work a job and a man is working the same job you should be getting paid the same. I mean there’s lots in variables like, you know, how long you been there — this or that. We’re not…I don’t think anyone’s asking for something that’s more than fair.” — Sarah Silverman, standup comic

Asking: This is exactly what is required to ensure that women get at least equal pay for equal work in those instances where it’s not already happening.

What Silverman describes is a market functioning as it should. Just as every shopper for every product or service seeks to pay the least for the best, so every employer seeks to minimize her expenses, while recruiting and retaining great people. It’s a constant balancing act, with innumerable variables to determine the appropriate price at the moment.

Silverman seems to intuitively understand this. In fact, in the course of her five-minute video, the leftist entertainer never says that the government should mandate that women get equal pay. She says women should ask for more. She then takes it further and suggests that a woman’s own low opinion of herself and of her talents may be the primary restraint upon her paycheck. She uses her own personality as an example, so she’s not slamming anyone.

Sarah Silverman, Leftist comic, on equal pay for women

Leftist comic Sarah Silverman’s new video on equal pay is seriously right.

Most men know that this phenomenon is not unique to one sex. Men often do equal work compared with a colleague or the market, but earn less pay, usually because they fail to ask.

Every once in a while, however, we put our big pants on.

Years ago, I had a part-time job at Wal-Mart and by all accounts, including the manager’s and the assistant managers’, I was doing a great job as a people greeter. When review time came, the assistant manager told me that I was excellent in every way, and that she was awarding me the second-highest pay increase within her authority to confer.

I thanked her, and then asked what I would have to do in order to get the highest pay raise. She seemed flummoxed, and told me that it just didn’t happen. Even she had never received the highest pay raise possible. I suggested that if no one ever gets the highest raise, then it doesn’t really exist. She probably had deserved the highest pay, I said, but a mysterious unspoken tradition had denied it to her. We talked about the importance of rewarding good work, and retaining excellent employees. After a minute or so, she nodded and said she could think of no reason to withhold the best from me, and so, my wage was raised 25 cents to $6.25 per hour. I just asked. I was happy, but she seemed even happier.

(The three percent of Silverman’s video where she diverges from me has to do with abortion — although she never uses the word. Her analogy on that issue misses the mark. It’s worth overlooking that, for now, to praise her overall point.)

If you’re a woman — scratch that — if you’re an employee doing good work that produces excellent results, with an attitude that makes you a joy to customer and colleague alike, then perhaps the only obstacle to larger compensation is that you don’t realize what a treasure you are, and your false humility restrains you from asking.

This conservative writer joins with leftist comic Sarah Silverman to say: “Go ahead. Just ask.”

UPDATE: Did Sarah Silverman Fake Her Story for Wage Discrimination Video?

 

 

Read bullet | 17 Comments »

Human Progress Is a For-Profit Enterprise

Monday, April 6th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

This latest entry from Prager University, featuring author and economics professor Walter Williams, does a fantastic job demonstrating the practical benefit of the profit motive. Profit, so often vilified in the modern political discourse, makes civilization as we know it possible. Without the profit motive, the relative affluence of the twenty-first century would not exist.

What Williams doesn’t directly note, however, is the moral basis of profit. We shouldn’t abide profit-making just because it enables civilization. We should abide profit-making because those who work hold exclusive claim to the fruit of their labor.

Read bullet | Comments »

Are Millennials Putting the ‘Cult’ in 21st Century ‘Corporate Culture’?

Monday, April 6th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

According to USA Today, “Millennial workers want free meals and flex time” but there’s more to it than that. Look beyond the requests for flex time and generous perks like on-site massages and game rooms, and you’ll see a generation of workers demanding a workplace with all the comforts of, well, family.

When Jena Pellegrino, a 26-year old media assistant, decided to branch out in her career, she wound up coming right back to where she started, the perk-rich company Lockard & Wechsler (LWD), an agency best known as the marketing genius behind the Snuggie. Why? She details,

The perks she enjoyed at her former employer weren’t standard at her new job. She missed working in a smaller company with access to senior co-workers, generous personal time and a teamwork philosophy.

After nine months, she decided to take a chance and called her boss to ask for her old job back. After some negotiations, she was back.

“I felt I wanted to be in a company that treats you like family,” she says.

Millennials are flocking to companies like LWD that offer everything from pool and ping-pong to work-from-home options and corporate Thanksgiving dinners. Perhaps it is because when employees are nestled in the warm, safe bosom of company life, they don’t mind mixing work with pleasure, even if it means taking it home. According to the experts:

…millennials don’t mind working at home or the overlap between work and their personal life… By 2025, 75% of the American workforce will be millennial workers and employers will have to adapt to the market…

Sounds like corporate culture will be shifting just in time to welcome all those Common Core babies into a job market for which they’ve been bureaucratically trained on a national scale. Enticing as they may seem, will corporate perks be enough to ward off the kind of anti-family, death-inducing work stress found in other Common Core-esque nations? Time will tell.

 

Read bullet | Comments »

Obama Economy Still Sucking Wind — Unexpectedly!

Friday, April 3rd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

That’s the news today from the Labor Department:

The U.S. added just 126,000 jobs in March, well below expectations of 245,000 jobs, leading to concerns that a long run of labor market momentum has stalled. The government also sharply revised downward job creation numbers for the first quarter. Over the prior 12 months, employment growth had averaged 269,000 per month so the disappointing March numbers were very much unexpected.

“Now we begin the process of trying to figure out whether this is a one-off situation because we know growth was weak during the first quarter, well short of expectations,” said Mark Hamrick, an economic analyst with Bankrate.com, in an interview on FOX Business. “No doubt about it, with the payroll shortfall here, this is a disappointing jobs report.”

The headline unemployment rate was 5.5% last month, matching expectations, and holding steady at its lowest level in six years, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department. Employment continued to trend up in professional and business services, health care,and retail trade, while mining lost jobs.

Once again, wages and the labor force participation rate, which are two indicators closely watched by Federal Reserve policy makers for signs of broader economic growth, barely moved.

Six long years of this: Wall Street is happy, Washington, D.C. is happy, but the peons continue to suffer. But look on the bright side: at least Barry Hussein’s buddies in Tehran are going to get their bomb.

Read bullet | Comments »

Is This the Dumbest Reason Ever To Ban Fracking?

Monday, March 30th, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle

Fracking_diagram_jpg_800x1000_q100

 

Canada’s little Maritime province of New Brunswick has chronically high unemployment — and huge reserves of shale.

Sounds like the perfect place to start fracking, right?

Well, no.

As Ezra Levant — who literally wrote “the case for fracking” – explains, the province’s anti-fracking moratorium starts today.

The government’s excuses for adopting this ban are pretty pathetic, but the silliest comes down to “social license.”

Levant explains what that is, so listen carefully in case your state legislature tries to pass that one off on voters.

 

YouTube Preview Image

Read bullet | Comments »

GOP Sacrifices Property Rights to Win Over Silicon Valley

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 - by Seton Motley

As an adult, watching a fifth grade boy who obviously likes a fifth grade girl is at once amusing – and nostalgically bittersweet.  The shyness, the awkwardness, the indecision.  But mostly, it’s the limitless lengths to which the boy will go to try to please the girl.

Hopefully, we as men and women grow out of this – and at least get a little better at wooing others.  Sadly, the Republican Party’s crush on Silicon Valley has not advanced past the elementary school stage.

The GOP wants the Silicon Valley’s love.  And by love we mean the millions of donation dollars that currently go mostly to Democrats.  And sadly, it appears some Republicans will go to nearly any length to curry some of that coin.

Including giving up core conservative principles.  Currently on the Win Your Love sacrificial altar – private property rights.

Behold Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch’s latest love missive to their Valley Girl.  Published in the Valley’s Tiger Beat - Wired.

It’s Time to Kill Patent Trolls for Good

Since 2011, Overstock.com, from my home state of Utah, has been targeted by 28 so-called patent “trolls,” seeking to enforce vague patents.

Patents are private property – and deserve all the protections a personal parcel of land does.

If a patent is vague, that is the fault of the U.S. government – the Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) – for approving it.  Once the USPTO approves, though, that patent is private property – with all the ownership rights pertaining thereto.

If Overstock doesn’t like it – work with Congress to tighten up the USPTO’s approval process.  Don’t get government to undermine a fundamental component of our intellectual property system.

Behold the fundamental issue in this whole “patent troll” discussion.  We don’t need “patent troll” reform – we need Patent Office reform.

Often these trolling lawsuits come from shell corporations that don’t make or sell anything.

“Shell companies” – otherwise known as property owners.  These companies in many cases purchased the patents from those who invented the patent-able product – the people from whom sprung forth the miracle that is creation.

Inventors often have zero desire to actually implement their ideas.  Their joy is in the inventing.  They are often more than happy to sell an idea (to a “shell company”) – to fund their work on their next idea.

This is an amazing, virtuous cycle of innovation.  Why would we want to fundamentally undermine it?

(P)atent trolls are crippling growth across all sectors of our innovation economy – from small businesses to America’s largest companies.

There’s a very easy way to avoid this litigation, Ladies and Gentlemen – pay the people whose property you are using.  Or don’t use it.

If I were squatting in your office building and renting the space out – would you be pleased if I got Congress to outlaw your ability to collect rent or evict me?  You absolutely would not.  Congratulations – you’re an “office troll.”

This is the Silicon Valley looking to “rent seek” – which means getting government to pass laws that tilt the playing field in their favor.  And, of course, getting favors from government costs money – otherwise known as political donations.

Of course Democrats are – as always – for Crony Socialist sale.  It’s disheartening when the allegedly free market, private-property-protecting Republicans are too.

Hey GOP – sometimes the girl ain’t worth it.

Read bullet | Comments »

Report: Lifting U.S. Oil Ban Could Create Almost A Million Jobs

Monday, March 16th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Via Reuters:

Lifting a 40-year-old U.S. ban on crude exports would create a wide range of jobs in the oil drilling supply chain and broader economy even in states that produce little or no oil, according to a report released on Tuesday.

Some 394,000 to 859,000 U.S. jobs could be created annually from 2016 to 2030 by lifting the ban, according to the IHS report, titled: “Unleashing the Supply Chain: Assessing the Economic Impact of a U.S. crude oil free trade policy.”

Only 10 percent of the jobs would be created in actual oil production, while 30 percent would come from the supply chain, and 60 percent would come from the broader economy, the report said. The supply chain jobs would be created in industries that support drilling, such as oil field trucks, construction, information technology and rail.

Many of the jobs would be created in Florida, Washington, New York, Massachusetts, and other states that are not known as oil producers.

It makes sense and could be a job creator so, naturally, the idea has very little congressional support at the moment. In classic D.C. fashion, they are looking at the problem as if it were still the 1970′s and OPEC could make our lives miserable with very little effort. It’s a different world now and we are only be held back from not having to worry about anything by some hippie activists who are lying about fracking.

Perhaps the people who have been so discouraged that they simply stopped looking for work would like to weigh in on the subject.

Would Congress listen then?

Read bullet | Comments »

IMF Chair’s ‘Conspiracy Against Women Working’ as Effective as Obama’s Generic ‘Extremism’

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

YouTube Preview Image

Lip Service

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde followed Obama’s trendsetting “War on Muslims” narrative, thus failing the cause of women’s equality across the globe. The Feminist Fail started out on the right track:

Nations should remove laws that prevent women from working in order to increase the female labour supply and boost their economies, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde has said.

“In too many countries, too many legal restrictions conspire against women to be economically active,” Lagarde wrote in a blog. “In a world in search of growth, women will help find it, if they face a level playing field instead of an insidious conspiracy.”

What exactly is this “insidious conspiracy” Lagarde is referring to? Don’t worry, she hasn’t taken the Patty Arquette pill, although she’s definitely drinking the Obama Kool Aid, because it’s all downhill from here:

But the IMF has to tread a careful line on this issue to avoid explicitly critiquing the laws in its 188 member countries, including states like Mali and Yemen, which have been among the worst performers on indices of gender equality.

Mali and Yemen, both Muslim-dominated states. Mali’s logo, “one people, one goal, one faith” is a contradiction in terms, at least when it comes to fostering economic growth, which is the only topic up for discussion on Lagarde’s watch:

The IMF has sought to couch its arguments in economic terms, saying in a previous study that having as many women in the labor force as men could boost economic growth by 5% in the United States, 9% in Japan and 34% in Egypt.

Note the radical climb in potential economic growth when the stats begin speaking to Muslim nations? Oops. Guess Lagarde’s staffers didn’t get the “War on Muslims” memo until after they prepared their findings, to which they quickly tacked on the following caveat:

“In recommending equal opportunities …this study does not intend to render a judgment of countries’ broadly accepted cultural and religious norms.”

Classy. Let’s talk about an obvious problem without directly drawing attention to it, since the problem is defended by radicalized terrorists. Is that called the White Elephant defense strategy?

 

Read bullet | Comments »

‘Cap and Trade’ Is Alive and Well – Despite Having Never Passed Congress

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 - by Seton Motley

Remember “Cap and Trade?”  The anti-market allegedly “market-based” “solution” to man-faked global warming climate change?

A central authority (usually a governmental body) sets a limit or cap on the amount of a pollutant that may be emitted.

The limit or cap is allocated and/or sold by the central authority to firms in the form of emissions permits which represent the right to emit or discharge a specific volume of the specified pollutant.

Permits (and possibly also derivatives of permits) can then be traded on secondary markets.

Except:

Cap-and-Trade Schemes Are Not Markets

Only if (you) want government to raise energy prices, make coal uneconomical as an electricity fuel, or restrict Americans’ access to carbon-based energy.…

“Cap and trade” is a policy so disastrous it couldn’t pass a Democrat-majority Congress – with Democrat President Barack Obama eagerly waiting with pen at the ready.

(Democrat) Ben Nelson: Cap-and-Trade Will Not Pass This Congress

Cap and Trade is Dead (Really, Truly, I’m Not Kidding)

Except with this President, no terrible idea dies just because the Constitutional process demands it.

(Environmental Protection Agency) EPA: If Congress Doesn’t Pass Cap-and-Trade, We Will

And so they have. Here’s the EPA’s “Cap and Trade” page.

And in government, terrible ideas are like kudzu – they rapidly, illegally spread everywhere.

USDA, EPA Partnership Supports Water Quality Trading

The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have announced an expanded partnership to support water quality trading….

Oh look – the government is assaulting our farmers’ water supply.  Where else have we seen that?

The EPA is Turning Water on Farms Into a Weapon Against Farmers

The EPA exists to assault the private sector.  And it is teaming up with other government departments to maximize the damage.

The USDA is a complete waste of money, time and space.  Humans have engaged in agriculture for 10,000 years – we did so for 9,900 of those years without a government department.  I think we’ve got this.

And, of course, there is zero Constitutional authority granted to the federal government to have a USDA.

Having no useful purpose, the Department of Agriculture works day and night to make private agriculture more difficult and expensive.  Which raises our food prices – and makes our farmers less competitive on the now-global market.

These government-inflicted regulations and costs – by a department that shouldn’t exist – foster other government programs that shouldn’t exist.

Like the horrendous Farm Bill.  Government makes it nearly impossible for farmers to turn a profit – then subsidizes them.

Like Food Stamps.  Government jacks the price of food – then buys tens of millions of people food at the government-inflated prices because they can no longer afford it.

The Obama Administration is assaulting the private sector with every department, agency, commission and board at its $4-trillion-a-year disposal.  Including unilaterally imposing “Cap and Trade” across multiple agencies.  And what has transpired during the Obama Administration’s tenure?

14 Million More on Food Stamps Under Obama

Food Stamp Growth 75X Greater than Job Creation

It would seem there is a correlation there.

Read bullet | 5 Comments »

The Idiocy of ‘Leaning In’ and Thinking You’ll Win Because You’re a Woman

Friday, February 20th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Laugh as the New Yorker attempts to trumpet the struggles of professional women through the story of an academic who grounded her negotiating skills in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In:

This spring, an aspiring professor—W, as she’s chosen to call herself in a blog post about the experience—attempted to negotiate her tenure-track job offer with the Nazareth College philosophy department. She wanted a slightly higher salary than the starting offer, paid maternity leave for one semester, a pre-tenure sabbatical, a cap on the number of new classes that she would teach each semester, and a deferred starting date. “I know that some of these might be easier to grant than others,” she acknowledged in her e-mail. “Let me know what you think.”

Nazareth didn’t hesitate to do just that: W wrote that the college promptly let her know that she was no longer welcome. “The institution has decided to withdraw its offer of employment to you,” the terse reply concluded. “We wish you the best in finding a suitable position.”

What a dope.

Head over to Nazareth College’s website and you’ll learn rather quickly via their faculty manual that most of the items she attempted to “negotiate” are already set in stone, most likely via union negotiation and past practice. Regarding her “paid maternity leave” request, Nazareth’s policy is generous to say the least. Fully paid disability period, ability to apply paid time off towards FMLA, and the ability to request up to 2 semesters of leave without pay, “but with paid employee basic health insurance and major medical insurance only to which the faculty member would otherwise be entitled”. That’s one heck of a good faith investment put forth on behalf of the college for new parents (moms and dads) to stay at home for up to a year.

As far as a “pre-tenure sabbatical” goes, this woman apparently hasn’t worked a day in academia in her life. She’s applying for a tenure-track position. Time worked is what allows you to accrue tenure. A sabbatical doesn’t count towards time worked, so essentially she just asked them to delay her own job advancement so she could have paid time off to wander the libraries of the world. Combine that with the class cap request and ask how either measure, both of which illustrate a total lack of work ethic, would possibly work to her advantage?

Higher salary within reason? Sure. Lean in all you want. Deferred start date? Depends on the circumstances. But before you decide to negotiate a first job based on the musings of a high-level executive, try reading about the job for which you’re actually negotiating. Or, just whine to the world that your demands were rejected because you’re a woman. That’s much more empowering.

 

Read bullet | Comments »

Sanders: Wal-Mart Being Cheapskates with New Raises

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said the raise announced across the board to Wal-Mart employees isn’t nearly big enough because the Waltons are way richer than that.

Wal-Mart was told in a letter from CEO Doug McMillon that the entry wage will be hiked “to at least $9 an hour in April, and, by February of next year, all current associates will earn at least $10 an hour.”

“I’m also excited about an innovative program we’re launching for future associates that will allow you to join Wal-Mart at $9 an hour or more next year, receive skills-based training for six months, and then be guaranteed at least $10 an hour upon successful completion of that program,” McMillon wrote. “We’re also strengthening our department manager roles and will raise the starting wage for some of these positions to at least $13 an hour this summer and at least $15 an hour early next year.”

The company is also making improvements to flexible scheduling and benefits.

Sanders pointed out that the Walton family, which owns Wal-Mart, “is the wealthiest family in America and it is absurd that thousands of their low-wage workers are forced to use programs like food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing.”

“Wal-Mart should not be paying starvation wages,” he said. “While this is a step forward and a response to grassroots activism across the country, this is nowhere near enough. Wal-Mart should raise their minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour now and move it to $15 over the next several years”

“Struggling working families should not have to subsidize the wealthiest family in the country. Wal-Mart also should end its vehemently anti-union activities.”

Sanders, who’s flirting with the idea of a presidential run, is in Iowa to propose cutting college costs in half through an $18 billion boost in federal aid for higher education to be matched by states.

The senator would get that money by pulling half of the extra money requested for the military in President Obama’s budget.

Read bullet | 27 Comments »

The Church Of England Takes The Unprecedented Step Of Opening A Credit Union

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

The Church of England launched its own credit union this week, with two objectives in mind: to create a trustworthy place for Britons to bank and to help lift people out of poverty.

The foundation of the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union is part of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s drive to promote access to responsible credit and savings.

“It could transform the way retail finance is done in this country,” Archbishop [Justin] Welby said, adding that it will put an ethical basis back into the industry and help forge community links back into the sector.

The credit union was launched by leaders of member churches with a video of a ship being launched in the background, emotive music and the slogan: “God bless the CMCU and all who save with her.”

It is currently open to about 60,000 church workers, charities, clergy and volunteers such as church wardens and members of the parochial church council, but will eventually be rolled out to every church member in the country. This could be more than one million people in the Church of England alone, with many hundreds of thousands more in the ecumenical partner churches; the Methodists, Church of Scotland, Scottish Episcopal Church and Church in Wales.

Welby is the first archbishop to come from a financial background, and he refers to the unprecedented launch as “putting our money where our mouth is” to both fight poverty and hold up high ethical standards for the financial marketplace.

Rather than preaching at the problem, the Church is becoming part of the solution.

“Credit unions are essential. We are trying to build a new financial sector in this country,” the Archbishop added. The new credit union was a “major step” in this direction, he said.

Canon Antony MacRow-Wood, president of the new credit union, said: “Of immediate interest to many, especially ordained ministers, will be our plans to provide a competitive car loan scheme (APR 5.54%). The Church forms an obvious community with many shared interests and as such it has a natural fit with the idea of a credit union. The recycling of capital within the community, not least for mission, will be of benefit to all.”

Rev Ken Howcroft, president of the Methodist Conference, said: “The gap between rich and poor seems to be widening and leaving people without the resources to do new things, or even pushing them into crippling debt. When we recognise your interdependence we can share our resources to help each of us meet our needs.”

CMCU treads much of the same ground as American faith-based credit unions like America’s Christian Credit Union and Christian Community Credit Union, but it may well be the first credit union run directly by a church. Its success or failure should make for an interesting story in the years to come.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / yurchello108

Read bullet | 5 Comments »

For the Obama Administration, It’s Lies All the Way Down

Monday, February 2nd, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

So what else is new? Still, the breathtaking mendacity of this crew just keeps getting worse. The Emperor Hussein and his fawning courtiers live in a typically Leftist fantasy land, in which reality counts for nothing and “reality” for everything. From the WaPo‘s fact checker, Glenn Kessler:

The Fact Checker frequently warns readers to be wary of claims by politicians that various policy initiatives will yield tens of thousands of jobs. Such claims are often based on studies that rely on a variety of assumptions, any of which can be called into question. So we were interested when we received a call from a reader who wondered how the administration calculated that a proposed international trade agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, would support some 650,000 jobs…

Asked about the statistic on 650,000 jobs, the White House referred us to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. USTR spokesman Matthew McAlvanah directed us to page 58 of the book. “They do not provide an estimate on jobs,” he acknowledged. “However they do provide a methodology that one could use.”

Ah… a methodology! The mediocre academics who make up the guts of the administration return to their comfort zone — imaginary numbers!

Essentially, the book suggests that an income gain of $121,000 would be “roughly equivalent to creating an extra job.” So the Obama administration took the figure of $77.5 billion and divided it by $121,000, which yields 640,000. Rounded up, that becomes 650,000.

There’s just one problem: This is the incorrect way to use Petri’s research, especially when officials such as Kerry combine the jobs figure in the same sentence as the income prediction: “The TPP could provide $77 billion a year in real income and support 650,000 new jobs in the US alone.”

That’s because the calculation on jobs can only be done if one assumes that wages have been frozen and there is no income gain. So it’s completely misleading to suggest there would be both a gain in income and a gain in jobs.

My God, these people are incorrigible. And shameless. And, let’s just say it — as stupid as only credentialed morons can be.

Read bullet | Comments »

Fourth Quarter GDP Report A ‘Disappointment’

Friday, January 30th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

This number is awful in light of what economists expected but pretty much par for the course in recent years. The good news always brings hope for some sustainable growth but is followed by “unexpected” bad news. The lapdog media faithfully dig for nuggets of hope, though.

Read bullet | Comments »

Think Progress Finds 2 Economists and a Magic Unicorn to Make $15 Minimum Wage Feasible

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Welcome to the other side of the looking glass.

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?

No.

Especially when there is a more sensible way to reduce turnover and avoid raising wages:
McDonalds-Machines

Read bullet | 13 Comments »

Texas Dem: Don’t ‘Try to Ram Through’ Obama’s Plan to Tax Rich

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

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.”

Read bullet | Comments »

The Revenge of Sarah Palin

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Michael Walsh
June 2012: the bad old days

June 2012: the bad old days

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

Read bullet | 31 Comments »

Earnest: GOP ‘Welcome to Articulate’ Views After State of the Union, But People Will Agree with Obama

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

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.”

Read bullet | 10 Comments »

As Gas Prices Plunge, New Gas Taxes Proposed

Monday, January 5th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

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.)

Read bullet | 6 Comments »

The Case Against Buying New

Monday, December 29th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

YouTube Preview Image

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.

Read bullet | 8 Comments »

The Real Reason Why Marriage Is on the Downward Slide

Monday, December 29th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

YouTube Preview Image

Lynn Stuart Parramore (advocate of socialist economist and alleged woman-puncher Thomas Piketty) argues that “economic injustice” is messing with 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.

Read bullet | 5 Comments »

GOP Eyes Overhaul of Congressional Budget Office

Monday, December 22nd, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

An idea whose time has come?

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.

Read bullet | Comments »

What the Stats Really Say About Racially Motivated Cop Killings

Friday, December 19th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

YouTube Preview Image

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.

Read bullet | 32 Comments »

Sessions Gives Up Challenge for Senate Budget Committee Gavel

Thursday, December 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

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.”

Read bullet | Comments »

It’s Called Obama Privilege

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

motweet

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:

Read bullet | 80 Comments »

Progressive Caucus Member: Obama ‘in Danger of Really Doing Some Awful Things’

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

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.”

Read bullet | Comments »

How to Solve Poverty: Write a Check!

Monday, December 15th, 2014 - by Michael Walsh

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?

Read bullet | 7 Comments »

Senate Passes Cromnibus as Just 22 GOPs Vote for Cruz’s Constitutional Point of Order

Saturday, December 13th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

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.

 

Read bullet | 15 Comments »