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Obama Political Advisor: Unemployment Isn’t that Important to Voters July 11, 2011

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A real howler from The Hill:

“The average American does not view the economy through the prism of GDP or unemployment rates or even monthly jobs numbers,” Plouffe said, according to Bloomberg. “People won’t vote based on the unemployment rate, they’re going to vote based on: ‘How do I feel about my own situation? Do I believe the president makes decisions based on me and my family?’ ”

The remarks will likely irritate Democrats who think Obama and his political team have taken their eye off jobs.

Read the whole thing here. We can’t speak for Democrats, but we imagine the 14 million Americans out of work, and the millions more underemployed, may be plenty irritated by Plouffe’s remarks. There is delusion and then there is willful ignorance. We know how we’re voting.

Don’t Let Politicians Rush Through Another Bad Deal July 8, 2011

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“Can anyone recall when any rushed-through plan ever lived up to its hype?”

Our future should not be determined behind closed doors.  Yet that’s where the White House and Congress are holding secret talks about our debt ceiling and about taxes and spending.

We deserve openness instead.  We don’t need another farce when the players suddenly burst from their huddle, line up Members of Congress, and rush through their plan on a quick count.

The two keys are first, frequent and detailed progress reports from the now-secret talks, and second, ample time for review of any agreement.

We’ve been told that participants supposedly agree on how to save $1-trillion.  But they’ve given zero details.  Their $1-trillion claim is suspect because they could be planning political gimmicks rather than true and immediate spending cuts.

In addition to ending the secrecy, we need complete and thorough disclosure of any agreement well in advance of any votes.  Those who don’t do their work on time should not claim that things have become too urgent to give us time to study and discuss their agreement.

President Obama has slow-walked things and made them worse by distancing himself until late in the process.  Sadly, Obama often dodges big issues by asking a commission to study them, or more typically by passing the buck to Vice-President Joe Biden.  President Truman’s famous “The Buck Stops Here” sign belongs in the Oval Office, not on the Vice-President’s desk.

But President Obama doesn’t deserve all the blame.  The House of Representatives did its job and passed a budget plan on-time this year, accepting the controversy that went with it.  But the Senate has not passed a budget for almost 800 days.

Congresswoman Anne Marie Buerkle (R, NY) keeps a running clock on her website, showing how long it’s been since the Senate did its duty.  She’s introduced the “Just Do Your Job Act” to deny paychecks to the Senate Budget Committee and to Senate leaders who aren’t getting their work done.

This Senate and White House foot-dragging is a tired old Washington game to create a sense of urgency.  Then that urgency is used to rush a last-minute proposal through Congress before the public knows the all-important details.

Congress has made 72 hours their minimum acceptable time frame for legislation to be available before voting.  This should be the complete and final details, not just outlines or drafts of proposals.  Under no circumstances should that minimum 72 hours be waived or reduced.  Additional time would be better because every extra day and hour will reduce the ability to slip things past the public.

Senators Jeff Sessions (R, AL) and Orrin Hatch (R, UT) wrote President Obama this weekend to urge him to protect the public’s right to know.  First, they asked for full details of what’s being discussed in secret, including “the most recent version of the proposals that were discussed, including a list of any tax increases for which the White House reportedly advocated.”

Sessions and Hatch also urge that any deal not be rushed.  They request that time be allowed for full analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, for congressional hearings on any proposal, and most importantly for the American public to know and review the details.

As they wrote to Obama, “Too often, we’ve heard promises of cutting spending and fiscal reform that have been empty and filled with gimmicks. That cannot happen again. A last-minute deal, delivered under the threat of panic, will not be acceptable.”

Sessions has added his request that the full details of any proposal be available to lawmakers for seven days before they are asked to vote on it.

Ample time is important.  Can anyone recall when any rushed-through plan ever lived up to its hype?

The country deserves not only an open negotiation process, with detailed status reports, but also plenty of time to review any agreement.  The current sense of urgency is no excuse to replace today’s crisis with a new set of enormous problems.

The public deserves to know everything that’s being proposed in talks, and whatever may be included in a deal, with every “i” dotted and every “t” crossed.  No last-minute additions, no pork-barrel and no favors to buy votes.

It’s time to end the wall of secrecy.  President Obama, tear down this wall!

Bad news: America preparing for the post-Geithner era July 1, 2011

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He’s the last remaining member of the rock-star economics team that’s brought us so much joy these past two years. And soon, it sounds like, he’ll be gone too. Now the only member left is the frontman. And he’s a — well, you know.

It’s like finding out that the three lesser guys in Coldplay have quit the band, and now all that’s left is Chris Martin plonking on a piano and caterwauling about corporate jets or whatever. You’d think the music can’t get more irritating, but it can. Oh, it can.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has signaled to White House officials that he’s considering leaving the administration after President Barack Obama reaches an agreement with Congress to raise the national debt limit, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Geithner hasn’t made a final decision and won’t do so until the debt ceiling issue has been resolved, according to one of the people. All spoke on condition of anonymity to talk about private discussions…

That would leave Obama with two key posts to fill as Republicans are seeking to turn the 2012 election into a referendum on Obama’s handling of the economy and as the recovery is slowing. The unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent in May, according to the Labor Department, and the economy grew at a 1.9 percent pace in the first quarter, according to Commerce Department figures released June 24…

If Geithner does leave the administration, Obama would be losing a member of his economic team who understands Washington institutions and the New York banking world as well as the intricacies of the Chinese economy. Geithner has pressed the Chinese to let their currency appreciate faster to reduce the global imbalances that both he and Obama have blamed for financial uncertainty.

The Times is hearing the same rumblings. CNS sends Geithner off with a flourish, noting that the national debt increased more during his tenure — $3.7 trillion and counting — than any other Treasury secretary’s. Duly noted, but c’mon: When a Coldplay song reeks, we all know whose fault it is. And it ain’t the bass player’s.

Courtesy of Romney 2012, here’s a deep cut off the double live album, Eternal Recession.

Turnaround Economy: Unemployment Worse than Obama Predicted Without Stimulus June 20, 2011

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President Obama repeated his claim that, while the current economy isn’t perfect, at least “we yanked an economy out of what could have been a second Great Depression.”  To date, no one has contested the validity of this claim.  They should, because that’s not what the Obama Administration said when they took office.

In January 2009 the new Obama Administration issued its now-infamous report titled “The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan,” more commonly known as the “Romer/Bernstein Report” after the President and Vice President’s economists who authored it.  This report included estimates of what would  happen if the Administration’s stimulus plan was enacted, and what would happen if it wasn’t – presumably casting the U.S. into “another Great Depression.”  This chart displays the unemployment rates the Administration forecast in that January 2009 report if their stimulus plan passed (the “with stimulus” line), if their stimulus plan didn’t pass (the “without stimulus” line), and what actually happened:

Notice something important?  The unemployment rate the Administration in January 2009 predicted the U.S. would have now without their “yank(ing) the economy out of another Great Depression” (about 8 percent in the “without stimulus” line) is less than the current official U.S. unemployment rate (9.1 percent in May 2011).  Clearly, this data doesn’t support the President’s claim that the Administration “yanked the economy out of another Great Depression.”

But maybe the Administration didn’t know the true severity of the situation in January 2009, and only realized how bad things might get after releasing their January 2009 report.  That argument doesn’t hold water, either.  Senior Administration officials – including the President and his chief economists – knew how serious the U.S. economic situation was the month before the Administration’s January 2009 report.  According to the Wall Street Journal, on December 16, 2008 “the economic team and Mr. Obama met in the Chicago transition offices to grapple with an economic crisis that was spiraling downward. Christina Romer, who would become the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, was chipper, but her message was dark: The U.S. recession was the worst since the Great Depression.”

The President can’t have it both ways.  He and his Administration said without their stimulus plan unemployment would be 8 percent by now – bad, but hardly a Depression level.  Now that their plan passed and unemployment turned out to be even worse, they can’t plausibly say they succeeded in “yank(ing) the economy out of another Great Depression.”  They didn’t, and the President’s claim that they did shouldn’t be allowed to stand.

The ghost of Obama future June 17, 2011

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Air Force One has landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the first time it has done so in an official capacity since JFK’s island visit 50 years ago.  While in Puerto Rico, President Obama is scheduled to deliver remarks on the island’s status (the hottest of local hot-button topics), tout a Stimulus-funded project (time permitting), and (of course!) host a pair of fundraising events.

The local press has hailed the visit as an opportunity for the locals to cast aside their ideological differences, embrace the spirit of the Post-Partisan Lightworker, hold hands, and chant “Sí, Se Puede”.  I suspect (and Politico confirms) that this trip is less about Puerto Ricans who live on the island than about those who have moved stateside…that this is but a distant leg on Obama’s re-elect tour, the easternmost leg of the “Thank Me For Justice Sotomayor” road trip.  Over 4 million Puerto Ricans live stateside,  847,000 in Florida alone.  Of these, 300,000 live along the all-important I-4 corridor. It is no wonder, then, that some have framed this visit in terms of   “building security”.

If I championed the very policies that have forced 250,000 (equivalent to two Mariel boatlifts) persons to leave home in the last decade alone, I’d be insecure, too.

50+ years of unfettered progressivism have placed Puerto Rico in a situation where there is an abundance of government (and corruption), and no real solutions to its deep structural problems.  The inhabitants of this small(ish) island are governed by one governor,  53 representatives, 31 senators, 78 mayors (with their respective city councils), and a government that constitutes over a third of its total workforce.  When we combine this workforce with recipients of transfer payments, over 60% of the island’s population depends on the government for income, whether partially or totally.  The local government not only subsidizes power and water for local residents of public housing, but also subsidizes cell phone usage.  Recently, the state university shut down due to violent student tuition protests.  The resulting decay has spread throughout the fabric of society, leaving many no choice but to abandon their beloved island, never to return.

There are those who suggest that the island’s political status needs to change in advance of any structural changes.  I reject that argument, and submit that these policies have been enacted by both Popular Democrats and New Progressives, who have identified as Democrats and Republicans.  Even now, Governor Fortuño was once touted as a VP hopeful because of his early dismissal of over 20,000 government employees.  Since then, he has embraced ObamaCare, yet is still facing a brutal re-elect.  The current Commonwealth status can prosper if run conservatively.  Conversely, Statehood can only aggravate the island’s problems, if they are left unaddressed.

To look at Puerto Rico’s embrace of unchecked progressivism and the resulting decay of her institutions  is to gaze upon the Ghost of Obama Future.  We now know how this is going to end.  We can confirm that the light at the end of that tunnel is indeed an oncoming train.

Conservatives everywhere should mark the occasion of Obama’s visit to Puerto Rico by asking her children this very question:  Why would you want to support the same economic policies that forced you to leave home?