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HOPEY-CHANGEY: Team Obama’s smear machine-in-exile mobilizes to destroy Iran-deal critics.


Then: We Are All Socialists Now.

—Cover story, the far left Newsweek, then still-owned by the Washington Post, February 16th, 2009.

Now: Does the left have a future? All over the west, the left is in crisis. It cannot find answers to three urgent problems*: the disruptive force of globalisation, the rise of populist nationalism, and the decline of traditional work.

—Headline, The far left London Guardian, September 6th, 2016.

* We’ve seen this moment before, haven’t we? Or to put it another way, welcome back my friends to the malaise that never ends.


Shot: Pillars of Black Media, Once Vibrant, Now Fighting for Survival.

Chaser: NBC Falls To Fifth Place — Behind Univision — During February Sweeps.

Yes that second link is from 2013, but it illustrates a rapidly changing America. As Kevin Williamson noted earlier this year, “There is a certain irony to our historical moment:”

At the very moment when a black American family has reached the apex of American social life — the presidency, and a cute movie about their first date! — African Americans are as a group experiencing a stressful disorientation: The racial dynamic in the United States was, for many years, effectively binary. Not any more. In an increasingly multiracial society whose most prestigious institutions are truly global, African Americans are no longer the moral yardstick by which the American commitment to our liberal founding ideals is measured. In 30 years, it very well may be the case that African Americans are no more of a significant interest group than Vietnamese Americans or Norwegian Americans, and the social and economic success of Nigerian American immigrant families, among others, complicates the meaning of “African American” as a concept, in that these communities are likely to maintain a certain distinctiveness that renders “black” devoid of clear meaning.

That is a big, attractive lever for the Al Sharptons of the world to let go of, which is why we’ll see more #BlackLivesMatter and #OscarsSoWhite rather than less, even as the question becomes less significant nationally.

As Glenn noted yesterday in regards to Charlie Rangel’s seat, “As In Chicago, Hispanics Are Replacing Blacks As The Urban Power…If the GOP were smart (ha, ha, yeah, I know) there would be big opportunities here.”


Shot: “Bush is taking the long view of both history and the future.”

—Headline, New York’s Glens Falls Post-Star, November 21, 2007.

Chaser: “Obama’s taking the long view of politics.”

—Hot Air’s paraphrased headline yesterday of a article from last week.

Honest historians on both sides of the aisle should praise President Bush’s denouement of the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein, considering that Bill Clinton and Al Gore were calling for his ouster in the 1990s, and Messrs. Obama and Biden were praising the outcome of Bush’s efforts in 2010 and 2011, as Glenn has noted on numerous occasions.






THE HILL: ObamaCare’s tough road ahead.

The administration’s goal of having 10 million people enrolled by the end of next year, up from 9.1 million this year, is widely viewed as a low target that would represent a modest expansion of President Obama’s signature domestic program.

“It isn’t very much growth,” said Karen Pollitz, a former HHS official in the Obama administration who is now at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

While there is uncertainty about how the enrollment period will go, some fear that not enough healthy people will sign up to create a “risk pool” that balances the sick enrollees and prevents premiums from spiking.

“That would be a concern,” Pollitz said. “Sort of, how big of a risk pool do you need?”

Richard Frank, HHS assistant secretary for planning and evaluation, said the target does not mean enrollment growth has “plateaued,” but did say there would be “a much longer path” to signing up the rest of the uninsured.

About 29 million people remain uninsured in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Around 45 million people were uninsured when ObamaCare’s coverage expansion began in 2013.

Hopey Changey.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Number Of Americans Renouncing Their U.S. Citizenship Hits All-Time High.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Health Insurance Deductibles Outpacing Wage Increases, Study Finds.

THE OTHER 25% WORK FOR THE GOVERNMENT: 75% in U.S. See Widespread Government Corruption. The number has climbed a lot since 2009. Hopey-changey!

Related: Trust in Mass Media Returns to All-Time Low.

After registering slightly higher trust last year, Americans’ confidence in the media’s ability to report “the news fully, accurately, and fairly” has returned to its previous all-time low of 40%. Americans’ trust in mass media has generally been edging downward from higher levels in the late 1990s and the early 2000s.

Prior to 2004, Americans placed more trust in mass media than they do now, with slim majorities saying they had a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust. But over the course of former President George W. Bush’s re-election season, the level of trust fell significantly, from 54% in 2003 to 44% in 2004. Although trust levels rebounded to 50% in 2005, they have failed to reach a full majority since. . . .

Trust among Democrats, who have traditionally expressed much higher levels of confidence in the media than Republicans have, dropped to a 14-year low of 54% in 2014. Republicans’ trust in the media is at 27%, one percentage point above their all-time low, while independents held steady at 38% — up one point from 37% in 2013.

2004 was the year of RatherGate, of course. 2005 was Katrina, where the press performed worse than President Bush did. And these days, well . . . .

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? “No amount of adjustment can obscure how bad the recovery has been for most American families. By many measures, 2014 was the strongest year of the recovery so far; the economy added nearly 3 million jobs, the most since 1999. Yet incomes were stagnant across virtually all groups: young and old, married and single, rich and poor.2 Virtually the only group to see a statistically significant gain in income was immigrants, whose median household income rose 4 percent to just under $50,000. Native-born households saw their income decline 2 percent to just under $55,000.”

Related: 3 ways to reduce poverty.

JUSTICE IN THE OBAMA ERA: To get my father, Xiaoxing Xi, FBI twisted America’s ideals: Joyce Xi.

This is not the America I thought I knew.

I did not know FBI agents could wake my family in the early morning and enter our home, point guns at my mother, sister and me, and forcefully drag my father away in handcuffs without real evidence of a crime. I did not know they could then obtain a search warrant to flip through our entire home and seize our belongings, including some of my little sister’s things. I did not know the government could restrict my father’s freedom for months and force him to fight for his innocence with only false and reckless claims against him.

I know, sorry, you thought you lived in America. You’re not the first Asian to make that mistake in the Obama era. But, you know, we’ve been “fundamentally transformed.” Hopey Changey!

Alternate: They told me if I voted for Mitt Romney, we’d live in a dystopian national security state where incompetent thugs trampled the rights of innocent Americans. And they were right!

HOPEY-CHANGEY: China, India, Japan, US and Europe have weakening or underperforming GDP growth.

HENCE THE POPULARITY OF TRUMP AND SANDERS: Poll: Nearly three-fourths of Americans unhappy with country’s direction. How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya?

HOPEY CHANGEY: U.S. Housing Costs: Up, Up, Up, Up. “The rising cost of shelter has been attributed to low vacancy rates, meaning supply is low relative to demand. This is also affecting Americans’ ability to buy homes—as high rents make it hard for Americans to save up for a down payment. Homeownership is currently at a 48-year low. As my colleague Gillian White wrote, high rent isn’t just bad for the economy, it hurts those who can least afford it the most.”

But Obama’s Wall Street buddies are profiting. How convenient.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Obama & the Left downsizing the American Dream.

Barack Obama has always wanted to be a transformational president, and in this, at least, he has been true to his word. The question is what kind of America is being created, and what future does it offer the next generation.

President Obama’s great accomplishment, arguably, has been to spur the evolution of a society that formerly rested on individual and familial aspiration, and turn it into a more regulated and centralized regime focused on broader social and environmental concerns. This tendency has been made much stronger as the number of Americans, according to Gallup, who feel there is “plenty of opportunity ahead” has dropped precipitously – from 80 percent in 1997 to barely 52 percent today.

The shift away from the entrepreneurial model can also be seen in the constriction of loans to the small-business sector. Rates of business start-ups have fallen well below historical levels, and, for young people in particular, have hit the lowest levels in a quarter century. At the same time, the welfare state has expanded dramatically, to the point that nearly half of all Americans now get payments from the federal government.

In sharp contrast to the Bill Clinton White House, which accepted limits on government largesse, the newly emboldened progressives, citing inequality, are calling for more wealth transfers to the poorer parts of society, often eschewing the notion that the recipients work to actually improve their lives. The ever-expanding regulatory state has powerful backing in the media, on campuses and among some corporations. There is even a role model: to become like Europe. As the New York Times’ Roger Cohen suggests, we reject our traditional individualist “excess” and embrace, instead, Continental levels of material modesty, social control and, of course, ever-higher taxes.

It’s all about control, and opportunities for graft. Everything else is just the sell-job.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Since 2007: 1.4 Million Manufacturing Jobs Lost; 1.4 Million Waiter/Bartender Jobs Gained.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Goldman Sachs: Job Market, Student Debt Keep Millennials With Parents.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): GDP Numbers Keep Getting Worse. “In the 138 years from 1870 to 2008, the US economy expanded by about an average of 3% a year. After the revisions to GDP data from 2012-2014, we see that the U.S. economy since the financial crisis has been growing an average of 2.0% a year versus the earlier 2.3%. The difference between 3% and 2% may not sound like much, but think of it this way: At a 3% growth rate the economy doubles in about 24 years. At a 2% growth rate the economy doubles in about 36 years – 50% MORE time!”

Plus: “Today there are 136 people receiving some sort of government benefit for every 100 people employed in the private sector.”

THE HILL: ObamaCare’s revolving door.

Marilyn Tavenner, who spearheaded the fraught Affordable Care Act rollout for the Obama administration, is but the latest ACA insider to cash in. Lobbying for America’s Health Insurance Plans is a natural transition for the former director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Tavenner was chosen to run CMS principally because she was not a healthcare reformer like her predecessor, Dr. Donald Berwick, a pediatrician the Senate refused to confirm. Instead she was a colorless former apparatchik for Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), a company that once paid $1.7 billion in penalties for fraud.

The revolving door between industry and government existed long prior to the ACA, but the commingling of industry and government interests under the ACA brings with it new implications. Simply put, the ACA represents the biggest transfer of taxpayer resources to the private sector since Gilded Age railroad barons were beneficiaries.


ANNALS OF IMPLAUSIBLE CLAIMS: Obama Claims Country Better Off Today?

Last week President Obama told a small group of wealthy donors that by almost every metric, the U.S. is significantly better off under his leadership than under Bush’s. Oh dear God this is just getting embarrassing! Can we please have a little reality check here?

The most basic metric for how well the country is doing is median household income – are families making more today than in years past? Errrr, not so fast there Mr. President. As the chart below shows (the red line) we are still well below we were when you took office… and that is despite the massive amount of government spending and monetary policy stimulus! Or perhaps, this is in fact because of all that insanity? In fact, median household income, after taking inflation into account, is where it was back in 1989, twenty-six years ago!

One of the reason household income is so low is that despite the often touted “unemployment rate” the more important number, the percentage of people in the country actually working is down to levels not seen since the early 80s and well below the ratio during George W Bush’s Presidency.

How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya?


HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): U.S. Median Household Income Is Lower Than It Was In 1996. Hillary’s proposed solutions won’t help that.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Let down by Obama, some black voters ask: Is it even worth backing Clinton? Nope. Stay home folks. You’re just being used.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: ISIS Recruits Muhanad Badawi and Nader Elhuzayel Arrested Near L.A. Charged. “Elhuzayel admitted to agents after his arrest that he had no intention to continue to Israel but planned to ‘travel to the Islamic State, pledge allegiance to ISIL (ISIS), and defend ISIL against attackers,’ according to the complaint.”

HOPEY-CHANGEY: White House steps up warnings about terrorism on U.S. soil. It used to be “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here.” Now, I guess, it’s “since we’re retreating over there, we’d better get ready to fight them here.”

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Number of Americans Renouncing Their U.S. Citizenship Hits Yet Another All-Time High.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: New Starter Homes Hit Dead Stop.

SO THIS IS BASICALLY STATE-SANCTIONED HAZING: The Footwear Cadets Were Allegedly Forced to Wear During Political Event March Has Sparked an Uproar. As the commenters note, this was just an effort to humiliate men in the service of PC ideology.

UPDATE: From the comments:

The Canadian Army is deploying to the Ukraine.

The US Army is wearing high heels.


Hopey-changey. And admit it, if in 2012 I’d said, re-elect Obama and you’ll see American fighting men forced to march in red high heels, you’d have thought I was over the top crazy, wouldn’t you? But then, there were a lot of real predictions about Obama’s presidency that seemed crazy and paranoid, but that have also turned out to be true. . . .

HOPEY-CHANGEY: 2 men accused of bomb plot during Ferguson protests indicted. “Brandon Orlando Baldwin, 22, and Olajuwon Davis, 22 were indicted on charges involving the conspiracy to maliciously damage and destroy a building, vehicle and other property with explosives and the illegal purchase of firearms from a Cabela’s store. The indictment stated that Baldwin stated that he wanted multiple bombs to use against people, buildings, vehicles and property.”

LIFE IN THE ERA OF HOPE AND CHANGE: Female Genital Mutilation on the Rise in the U.S.

UPDATE: I kind of let snarking at the headline run away with me (yeah, it happens) but I should note that the story’s a bit unclear: “More than half a million women and girls in the U.S. are at risk of undergoing FGM in the U.S. or abroad, or have already undergone the procedure, including 166,173 under the age of 18, according to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB). Immigration to the U.S. from African and Middle Eastern countries—where the practice of FGM is a deeply entrenched cultural tradition—is the sole factor for the rise in numbers, says Mark Mather, a demographer at PRB who led the data analysis. There has not been an increase in the practice happening in the U.S. itself, he says.”

But then, there’s also this: “Included in the data are girls at risk of being sent back to their family’s origin country to undergo FGM—a practice widely known as ‘vacation cutting’—or having a traditional midwife or cutter sent to perform FGM in the U.S. ” Still not very hopey-changey.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Number of Americans Renouncing Their U.S. Citizenship Hit All-Time High in 2014.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Sorry, Millennials, We’re Out of the Jobs You Want.

Millennials don’t want to work in sales, reports the Wall Street Journal. They think it’s exploitative. They also hate the idea of variable compensation; they want a nice, steady job where the company takes the risk, not the worker.

The feeling that sales is exploitative is not new; people have always been uncomfortable with the idea of selling something or being sold. And, of course, many people have always been uncomfortable with the idea of variable compensation. But if companies are having a harder time finding people to take sales jobs and reworking compensation packages to decrease the commission component, that is worth noting. . . .

Unfortunately, as Farhad Manjoo noted last week, they may be coming of age at a moment when the economy is moving toward more variable work, not less. Uber and similar services are making it relatively easy to employ people in a high-tech version of piecework: discrete tasks that are parceled out moment by moment, entirely contingent on demand. Robert Reich thinks this is terrible. If the Journal’s article is any guide, it’s not what the new generation of entering workers wants. But it may be what’s available.

In some sense, the 9-to-5 salaried position is an artifact of the industrial era. Such jobs existed before then, of course, in government offices and large institutions. But most jobs were much less defined. Armies of people worked for themselves, as farmers or traders or craftsmen, working only when there was demand and making only whatever profit they could eke out from their sales. Others were domestic servants, who had a steady salary but no steady hours.

Economies of scale created a lot of work doing routinized tasks that needed to be planned well in advance. The easiest way to coordinate this was to have set shifts of workers who showed up at the same time every day, prepared to do the same thing. The conversion of a huge fraction of the workforce to this sort of employment was a major revolution in human affairs. After two centuries, however, it seems natural.

Technology is making it much easier to do things on a smaller scale.

Huh. That sounds kinda familiar.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: CBO Projects Tepid Economic Growth, Rising Deficits Despite Rising Revenues. Yeah, too much spending and regulation will get you that.

RICHARD EPSTEIN: The Sad State Of The Union. Hopey-Changey!


African Americans for decades flocked to Prince George’s County to be part of a phenomenon that has been rare in American history: a community that grew more upscale as it became more black.

The county became a national symbol of the American Dream with a black twist. Families moved into expansive new homes, with rolling lawns, nearby golf courses and, most of all, neighbors who looked like them. In the early 2000s, home prices soared — some well beyond $1 million — allowing many African Americans to build the kind of wealth their elders could only imagine.

But today, the nation’s highest-income majority-black county stands out for a different reason — its residents have lost far more wealth than families in neighboring, majority-white suburbs. And while every one of these surrounding counties is enjoying a strong rebound in housing prices and their economies, Prince George’s is lagging far behind, and local economists say a full recovery appears unlikely anytime soon.

The same reversal of fortune is playing out across the country as black families who worked painstakingly to climb into the middle class are seeing their financial foundation for future generations collapse. Although African Americans have made once-unthinkable political and social gains since the civil rights era, the severe and continuing damage wrought by the downturn — an entire generation of wealth was wiped out — has raised a vexing question: Why don’t black middle-class families enjoy the same level of economic security as their white counterparts?


HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Median U.S. Household Income Continues To Decline.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): 7 Years After Recession Started, Only 65 U.S. Counties Out Of More Than 3000 Have Recovered.

National employment surpassed 2007 levels during 2014 and the U.S. gross domestic product had fully recovered from the recession by 2011. But the national unemployment rate was 5.6% in December compared with 5% when the recession began seven years earlier. And housing values in much of the country have yet to fully return.

The recovered counties are largely located in energy-rich areas and have small populations. Of the 65 recovered counties, 24 are in Texas and 16 are in North Dakota. The others are generally in the middle of the country, including nine in Minnesota and eight in Kansas.

None of the recovered counties has more than 500,000 residents.

Hmm. Related item here. “Before the recession, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected we would have 5 million more jobs at the end of 2014 than we actually do. It also projected that the GDP would be more than 11 percent higher in 2014 than it is now. This translates into a difference in annual output of roughly $2 trillion or more than $6,000 per person. They predicted that wage and salary income would be roughly 20 percent higher than it is today. Many economists had similar projections.”

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Latest Tax Season Headache? Obamacare.

The new year has brought a new sort of commercial to our televisions: ads urging people to check with tax preparers about the potential consequences of Obamacare. H&R Block is offering free Obamacare consultations tomorrow. I’ve written before that the big Obamacare event of this year will not be the exchange enrollments, but tax season, when people who got too much in subsidies find out how much money they owe the government (and been told by a tax preparer that it was even worse than I thought). Tax preparers, to judge from my Twitter feed, have been panicking for months. But now they face the Herculean job of communicating that panic to the public.

There’s been a lot of talk about the “hidden taxes” in the Affordable Care Act, but here’s one I hadn’t thought of before or seen mentioned anywhere: the sudden need for folks with simple tax returns to avail themselves of the services of a paid professional. If you have no income outside a modest salary, and not much in the way of potential deductions such as huge mortgage interest or state tax bills, then there was really no reason to use a tax preparer. Even the mathematically challenged should, with the aid of a calculator, be able to fill out their 1040EZ forms just fine. But Obamacare has introduced a significant level of complexity into the taxes of lower-middle-class wage earners. More of them are going to need an accountant to negotiate the process — or risk owing the government hundreds of dollars because they didn’t fill out the forms correctly.

The money doesn’t go to the government, of course, but in many ways this looks like a tax: Suddenly, people with simple incomes are going to need to pay a significant sum to keep themselves out of trouble with the IRS. This tax will be extremely regressive, because the people most likely to be hit by it are people whose incomes are (or have been) low enough to qualify for subsidies.

Yeah, a flat tax or fair tax would fix this.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: The Booming Economy vs. The Struggling Middle Class.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Blacks Falling Behind Under ObamaCare.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Average American’s Wealth Down 40% Since 2007, Inequality Has Widened Across Racial Lines.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Wealth gap widens between whites and minorities. “Pew researchers — analyzing data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances— found that the gap between whites and blacks has reached its highest point since 1989. The wealth ratio for whites-to-Hispanics is at a level not seen since 2001.”

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Health Care to Suppress Wages Even More.

Forget the raise: health care will cut even more into the paychecks of many American workers next year. . . .

When Sen. Chuck Schumer sought to distance himself from the ACA he said that the timing for the law was wrong because “and if health care costs were going up, it really did not affect them.” That continues to be untrue. Even if you get insurance from your employer, the lost wages are significant. Anyone who tries to downplay the seriousness of the health care problem is missing the reality of costs that eat more and more into American incomes. In 2009, for example, David Goldhill calculated that even on conservative estimates, a company would put a little under $2 million towards an employee’s health care plan over the course of an employee’s career. If you are concerned about wage stagnation, you have to be concerned about health care.

Related: Gruber Took The Measure Of The ACA:

Gruber’s attempt to downplay his role in the ACA is unconvincing, for reasons we suggested here. But the most damning comments by Gruber were not his “glib” words about the American public but his accurate analysis of the Affordable Care Act. For instance, in one of the videos that became controversial, Gruber is taped saying “What the American public cares about is costs. And that’s why even though the bill that they made is 90% health insurance coverage and 10% about cost control, all you ever hear people talk about is cost control.” That is not glib; regardless of whether you think the law was sold deceptively in the way Gruber suggests, his understanding of the law’s focus on coverage over cost is correct. Whether or not Gruber was “the architect” of the law, whether or not his more noxious comment can fairly be associated with the law, he understands the law—and that is damning enough.

It’s damning stuff all the way down.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Francis Wilkinson: America Is Coming Apart At The Seams.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): U.S. Birthrate Declines for Sixth Consecutive Year; Economy Could Be Factor. Huh. What happend six years ago that could have reduced people’s faith in the future?

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Gallup: Under ObamaCare, Record Numbers Of Americans Foregoing Medical Care Because Of Cost. “One in three Americans has put off seeking medical treatment in 2014 due to high costs, according to Gallup — the highest percentage since Gallup began asking the question in 2001. Thirty-three percent of Americans have delayed medical treatment for themselves or their families because of the costs they’d have to pay, according to the survey. Obamacare, of course, had promised that it would help make health care more affordable for everyone, but the number of people who can’t afford a trip to the doctor has actually risen three points since 2013, before most Obamacare provisions took effect.”

JOEL KOTKIN: Legal But Poor: The Economic Consequences of Amnesty.

This workforce is being legalized at a time of unusual economic distress for the working class. Well into the post-2008 recovery, the country suffers from rates of labor participation at a 36 year low. Many jobs that were once full-time are, in part due to the Affordable Care Act, now part-time, and thus unable to support families. Finally there are increasingly few well-paying positions—including in industry—that don’t require some sort of post-college accreditation.

Sadly, the legalization of millions of new immigrants could make all these problems worse, particularly for Latinos already here and millions of African-Americans.

African-American unemployment is now twice that of whites. The black middle class, understandably proud of Obama’s elevation, has been losing the economic gains made over the past thirty years.

How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya?

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Despite highest poverty numbers in 50 years, Obama okays illegals to compete for jobs in US.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: The Hill: Business groups brace for deluge of post-election regulations.

Business groups are bracing for an onslaught of regulations, with the Obama administration bent on completing a host of the president’s unfinished policy goals and the midterm elections now in the rearview mirror.

Agencies across federal government are expected to drop a host of major rules over the next few months, with regulations running the gamut from calorie label requirements on restaurant menus to new rules for hydraulic fracturing and air pollution.

There are at roughly two dozen major rules that are scheduled to drop between now and late January, according to a review of the administration’s official regulatory agenda and rules now awaiting approval at the White House.

Idea: Rules enacted in the year after an election should have to be proposed before the election.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): “Adults under age 35—the so-called millennial generation—currently have a savings rate of negative 2%, meaning they are burning through their assets or going into debt, according to Moody’s Analytics.” “The turnabout in savings tendencies shows how the personal finances of millennials have become increasingly precarious despite five years of economic growth and sustained job creation. A lack of savings increases the vulnerability of young workers in the postrecession economy, leaving many without a financial cushion for unexpected expenses, raising the difficulty of job transitions and leaving them further away from goals like eventual homeownership—let alone retirement.”

Maybe the “five years of economic growth” hasn’t been as significant as advertised.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Democrats Sink to Pre–Great Depression Levels in State Legislatures. Obama thought he’d be the next FDR. Instead. . . .

Related: The Emerging Republican Supermajority. Don’t get cocky, kid. And listen to what your voters are saying. Obama didn’t do that.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Child poverty in U.S. is at highest point in 20 years, report finds.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): The young and the disconnected: America’s youth unemployment problem. Note, though, that one thing making the featured protagonist in this story unemployable is a conviction for violating Washington, DC’s absurd gun law, a law which surely has a tremendous disparate impact on young minority males — and, in fact, was designed to.

But it’s not just “disconnected youth” who have a problem in the Obama Economy:

Up until a decade ago, Bird said, it was easier for them to find service jobs. But now they compete against college graduates who can’t find professional work, or adults looking to support their family.

“I know it’s hard,” Hernandez said. “My cousin has a master’s degree and has to look for jobs on Craiglist. Just like me.”

Fundamentally transformed.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): 7 things the middle class can’t afford anymore.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Rep. Elijah Cummings says black Americans fear Secret Service is racist. Me, I fear that Cummings may have forgotten his Aricept again.

Who am I kidding? I’m sure he’s never taken it a day in his life.

UPDATE: A commenter notes that — as the link above actually says — Cummings isn’t saying he fears the Secret Service is racist, just that black people in general do. Well, yeah, but. . . .

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): WaPo: The middle class is poorer today than it was in 1989.

TRAIN WRECK UPDATE: Under the ACA, the Doctor Won’t See You Now.

Getting access to a preferred, in-network doctor is getting harder all the time. Three big stories about access blocks under the Affordable Care Act came out this week. First, the NYT profiles the troubling rise of contract ER doctors. The emergency medicine departments in many hospitals now employ doctors who are out-of-network for a given insurer, even when the ER itself is listed as “in-network” for that same insurer. The result is that even patients who have the ability to choose an ER in an in-network hospital often wind up with out-of-network doctors treating them—and large, unanticipated, out-of-pocket bills as a result. . . .

The ACA does nothing to address this trend, which is just one example of the barriers to access popping up all across the U.S. health care system. The LA Times reports that, despite several lawsuits challenging it, California intends to stick with its narrow doctor networks for ACA plans next year. Even worse, some insurance companies are planning to cut the number of in-network providers even further. There is still no registry that would allow people to make a comprehensive assessment of which doctors will be covered under their ACA plans, a gap which caused a lot of confusion for patients in the last year.

Nor are those insured through the exchanges the only ones facing access problems. A Department of Health and Human services report on the ACA’s Medicaid expansion finds that many Americans newly insured through the program often have to “wait for months or travel long distances” to get care, according to the NYT. Though the federal government requires states to ensure “adequate access to all services covered,” the definition of “adequate access” is left to the states. This access problem for Medicaid recipients is not new, as Avik Roy repeatedly points out in How Medicaid Fails the Poor, and has been exacerbated as large numbers of people have joined the program.

In all three of these reports, we see under the ACA a declining level of access to a covered care provider. This is not what progress in health reform looks like.

Hopey changey.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Millennials Aren’t Getting Jobs and Aren’t Buying Houses.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): New Record: Pound of Ground Beef Tops $4 for First Time. “Just five years ago, in August 2009, the average price for a pound of ground beef was $2.134, according to the BLS. The price has since climbed by $1.879 per pound—or 88.1 percent.”

Inflation is basically nonexistent, though, so long as you don’t eat, drive, or heat and cool your home.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Health Care Takes Bigger Bite out of Americans’ Shrinking Budgets.

Health care took a bigger bite out of Americans’ budgets in 2013 than in 2012, even though Americans spent less overall as their incomes decreased. A new report from the Department of Labor found that, in 2013, overall U.S. consumer spending declined .7 percent, after a 3.5 percent rise in 2012. Many constituent areas saw big drops (for example: clothes, 7.6 percent and entertainment, 4.7 percent), but spending in two areas rose despite the overall decline. . . . Policy makers must make choices that will make health care cheaper, and some tools for lowering costs already exist. Clinics are cheaper places to receive care than emergency rooms and nurse practitioners provide care at a lower cost than doctors do. Laws that restrict the scope of NPs’ practice could, therefore, be relaxed. Price transparency all on its own can lower spending; state governments can be much, much more proactive in collecting and disseminating that information. Hospitals could do a better job adopting technologies that lower costs instead of technologies that increase costs.

Related: Obamacare Premiums Are Magical Mystery Tour.

The important thing to keep in mind is that when the “benchmark rate” goes down, that doesn’t mean that the cost of the old benchmark plan has fallen. It just means that whatever plan is now the second-cheapest “silver” plan on the exchanges is cheaper than whatever was the second-cheapest plan last year.

Uh huh.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Even the Bush White House polled better than this.

LIFE IN OBAMA’S AMERICA: While the Rich Rebound, the Poor Sink. “The biggest area of concern is among nonwhite families, who saw much bigger declines in both income, and wealth, than did white non-Hispanic families.”

How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya?

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Under Obama, only the richest 10 percent saw incomes rise. “Under President Obama, the richest 10 percent were the only income group of Americans to see their median incomes rise, according to a survey released this week by the Federal Reserve. . . . The survey also found that family in the middle income bracket (40th to 90th percentiles) saw “very little” change in average real incomes and still have not recovered losses from 2010 and 2007. Families at the bottom of the income distribution continued to see ‘substantial declines’ in average real incomes.”

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Average Price of Ground Beef Hits All-Time High. “Five years ago, in July 2009, the average price for a pound of ground beef was $2.147, according to the BLS. In those five years, the average price has climbed by $1.737 per pound–or almost 81 percent.”

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Fed Survey: A Third of Americans Say They’re Worse Off Post-Recession.

JOEL KOTKIN: There Will Be No Real Recovery Without The Middle Class.

What if they gave a recovery, and the middle class were never invited? Well, that’s an experiment we are running now, and, even with the recent strengthening of the jobs market, it’s not looking very good.

Over the last five years, Wall Street and the investor class have been on a bull run, but the economy has been, at best, torpid for the vast majority of the population. Despite blather about our “democratic capitalism,” stock ownership is increasingly concentrated with the wealthy as the middle class retrenches. The big returns that hedge funds, real estate trusts or venture capitalist receive are simply outside the reach of the vast majority.

A recent study by the Russell Sage Foundation suggests these patterns of inequality, which have been developing over the last several decades, have become more pronounced in the post-Recession years. In 2013 the wealth of those at the 90th and 95thpercentiles was actually higher than 10 years ago. Everyone else is lower.


HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Is America the Greatest Nation on Earth? Fewer Americans Say Yes. “The survey finds that the share of Americans who think America is exceptional, standing above all other nations, has fallen 10 percentage points since 2011, to 28% of Americans.”

I think the answer is that it’s proceeding as planned.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Dawn of the Age of Oligarchy: the Alliance between Government and the 1%. “Thanks to their cozy relationship with the Obama administration, a new class of super-wealthy oligarchs keeps getting more powerful while the country’s middle class shrinks.”


On the jobs front, it feels to many Americans that the recession never ended. One of the misleading headlines from last month’s employment report was that all the jobs lost during the recession have finally been won back.

Well, not really.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2007 on the eve of the recession, there were 146.6 million Americans working. Today, there are 145.8 million Americans in jobs. So nearly 7 years later, we are still 800,000 jobs below the previous peak. That’s some jobs recovery.

But the missing jobs in this economic recovery are much higher than that. A new analysis of the labor force numbers by Heritage Foundation economists places the real jobs deficit in America closer to 5.5 million, even after accounting for changes in population and demographics.

Shockingly, when you jack up taxes and flood the economy with new regulations, employment and growth suffer. Bad luck, I guess.

HOPEY CHANGEY: Newly Released DOJ Drone Killing Justification Memo… Points To Another Secret Drone Memo.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Final US GDP contracts 2.9% vs -1.7% estimate; May Durables drop 1.0%. Unexpectedly!

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Record Numbers of Americans Are Renouncing Their U.S. Citizenship.

LUCKILY, THESE DON’T GET COUNTED IN THE “CORE” INFLATION RATE: Price Index for Meats, Poultry, Fish & Eggs Rockets to All-Time High. Hopey-Changey!

Meanwhile, here’s a link to that Strategic Shopping piece.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: International Monetary Fund cuts U.S. growth forecast.

The International Monetary Fund sees a more painful short-term future for the U.S. economy than the U.S. government does.

The IMF on Monday projected U.S. growth clocking in at just under 2 percent this year, a significant downgrade from the IMF’s projection of 2.7 percent growth last year.

The prediction, part of the IMF’s regular consultation with the U.S., also is well below the Federal Reserve’s most recent forecast in March of 2.8 percent-3 percent, although the central bank is expected to lower its expectations following its monetary policy meeting this week.

Some recovery.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Team Obama: Sorry, America, the ‘new normal’ may be here to stay.

HOPEY CHANGEY: Dems Glum About Economy Despite Upbeat Jobs Report. “Democrats, who, let’s face it, need some cheering up these days, are taking no pleasure in the jobs report. That’s because about half the country still thinks we’re in a recession. Even though the economy continues to grow — glacially, and fitfully — huge swaths of the country are not seeing any noticeable improvement.”

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Widespread US Police Surveillance Is Happening In Total Secrecy. “The Obama administration has argued in court that cellphone customers ‘have no privacy interest’ in their location data. Further, most of the cases in question do not involve national-security matters — which led the National Security Agency to gather phone data on millions of Americans — but use many of the same surveillance methods.”

HOPEY-CHANGEY: IRS Eyes New Ways To Tax Miles of Frequent Fliers.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: The Disaster of Obamanomics, In Two Charts.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: USDA warns of sticker shock on U.S. beef as grilling season starts.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Poll: 47% of Unemployed Have ‘Completely Given Up’ Looking for a Job. That 47% number keeps coming up. . . .

HOPEY-CHANGEY: White House Pressures Legislators Into Gutting NSA-Taming USA Freedom Act.

HOPEY-CHANGEY GOVERNMENT HEALTHCARE: West Virginia Doctor: Veterans On VA Waiting List Are Committing Suicide.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Poll: Americans Less Happy Compared To A Decade Ago.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: 7 mass surveillance tools your local police might be using.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Brookings: More businesses dying than being created — for first time ever. Behold the power of Obamanomics. . . .

Plus: “Older and larger businesses are doing better relative to younger and smaller ones.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: How Bad Is the Job Market for the College Class of 2014? “So to sum it up: Today’s crop of new B.A.s are staring at roughly 8.5 percent unemployment, 16.8 percent underemployment. Close to half of those who land work won’t immediately find a job that requires their degree, and for those stuck in that situation, there are fewer “good” jobs to go around. Welcome to adulthood, class of 2014.”

How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya? Meanwhile, as should be obvious, it’s going to be hard for colleges to sustain tuition growth in this environment.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Harvard Poll Shows Millennials Have ‘Historically Low’ Levels Of Trust In Government. Well, I guess that means they’re paying attention, anyway.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): ‘Happy Days’ no more: Middle-class families squeezed as expenses soar, wages stall.

It’s almost as if the middle class has been targeted for destruction by a coalition of the very rich and the poor.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Wealthiest Americans Outpace World as Middle Class Lags Behind. They told me if I voted for Mitt Romney the richest would get richer while everyone else suffered. And they were right!

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): The American Middle Class Is No Longer The World’s Richest.

It’s as if it’s been targeted by a coalition of the richest and the poorest.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): ‘This thing is working’? Widows of Alabama county workers dropped from health plans.

As President Obama touts rising enrollment in ObamaCare and declares “this thing is working,” one Alabama county has reported another negative side effect from the law — widows of county workers getting dropped from their insurance.

A report by Huntsville-based WHNT said that more than a dozen widows of retired Madison County employees lost their coverage earlier this year.

They originally had been covered under the county’s self-insured plan. But, according to WHNT, officials learned that it would have been too expensive to keep providing that coverage and comply with the Affordable Care Act’s coverage mandates.

The county instead joined a statewide network that dozens of county governments already are in. That plan, though, does not offer coverage to husbands and wives when their government employee spouses die.

You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Er, but where’s my damn omelet?

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Trust In The IRS Is At An All-Time Low. With good reason.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): The US is an oligarchy, study concludes; Report by researchers from Princeton and Northwestern universities suggests that US political system serves special interest organisations, instead of voters. The SEIU, AFSCME, and Goldman Sachs were unavailable for comment.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Sharyl Attkisson: “Chilling effect” from Obama administration on journalists. “Attkisson told Kurtz that political considerations were at play, but the bigger issue is the ‘chilling effect’ of the Obama administration on journalists, but also ‘corporate interest’ pressure as well, which don’t tend to balance themselves out but add together. Kurtz wondered aloud whether her growing reputation as a ‘conservative’ journalist wasn’t an attempt to discredit Attkisson, and she agrees. When she went after the Bush administration, Attkisson noted, no one was calling her a ‘progressive’ journalist — and her CBS bosses were delighted to run those stories.”

The political/corporate synergy of the Obama Administration is its greatest danger, and doesn’t get enough attention for precisely that reason.


HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? Survey: U.S. sees sharpest health insurance premium increases in years.