Obama doesn't talk about new jobs numbers, gets some boos from union workers

Two years into the recovery and the unemployment rate has risen for the second straight month and is stuck above 9 percent.

President Obama didn't mention Friday's weak jobs report in his speech at a Chrysler plant in Ohio, instead choosing to talk about the recovery of the auto industry.

Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman, told reporters on the flight to Toledo that Obama "will talk about the jobs numbers."

But one of the only allusions Obama made to the bleak report was when he said that "we're going to pass through some rough terrain that even a Wrangler would have a hard time with." (The Chrysler workers, who make the Wrangler at that plant, responded by booing and heckling him.) . . .

See also here.

As Goolsbee sees it:

Austan Goolsbee, President Barack Obama’s chief economist, said today’s jobs report represents a “little bump” in the road to recovery and that the broader trends are “substantially more positive” than when Obama took office.
We should never read too much into any one month’s report,” Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “No doubt we face some headwinds and hit a little bump in the road.”
Manufacturing has continued to grow and there still is more to be done to drive the unemployment rate down, he said.
Employers added 54,000 jobs in May, the smallest increase in eight months, the Labor Department reported in Washington. The unemployment rate rose 0.1 percent to 9.1 percent. . . .

When has he previously cautioned not to read much into one month's data?

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A proxy for the number of Illegal Aliens?

With Illegals using others Social Security numbers, it would be interesting to know what percent of these cases involve illegal aliens. They might all use the ever popular 000-00-0000, but some might get other numbers.

Imagine filing your tax return and learning that someone else got your refund. With your name and Social Security number, no less.
The IRS is grappling with a nearly five-fold increase in taxpayer identity theft between 2008 and 2010, a Government Accountability Office official plans to tell a House hearing Thursday. There were 248,357 incidents in 2010, compared to 51,702 in 2008.
The GAO findings, obtained by The Associated Press, don't begin to describe the pain for a first-time victim, who must wait for a refund while the IRS sorts out which return is real and which is a fraud.
Many identity thieves don't get prosecuted, according James White, director of strategic issues for the GAO..
"IRS officials told us that IRS pursues criminal investigations of suspected identity thieves in only a small number of cases," White says in testimony prepared for a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee. . . .
"We want to know why this problem is apparently getting much worse," said Rep. Todd Platts, R-Pa., chairman of the subcommittee. "By bringing these issues to the public as quickly as possible, the committee hopes to give citizens the necessary information so they can protect themselves from such identity theft." . . .

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Taxpayers pay $129 million to cover the time of union workers to negotiate over their benefits

Why can't unionized workers cover the costs of negotiations on their own time?

The cost of official time used by federal employees participating in union activities increased nearly 7 percent between fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2009, according to a new report from the Office of Personnel Management.

The report, the subject of a Wednesday hearing on Capitol Hill, found that federal employees spent nearly 3 million hours of official time on union activities in 2009 at a cost of $129 million to taxpayers, an increase of $8 million from fiscal 2008. . . .


Geithner continues to claim that Debt-ceiling debate means "lights out"

The Obama administration just can't stop pulling out scare tactics. The interest equals 6 percent of spending. The government can easily cover that with money that will still be coming in as well as a long list of other programs that I have already written about.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Thursday warned skeptical Republican freshmen it would be “lights out” for the economy if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling.
Geithner trekked to Capitol Hill on the same day that Moody’s Investors Services warned that the nation’s perfect credit rating could be at risk if lawmakers do not make progress on a debt deal.
Leaders of the freshman class struck a diplomatic tone after the session, but there was little evidence that Geithner’s argument won anyone over.
“Everything that we got in there from him is a step in the right direction,” said Rep. Austin Scott (Ga.), the president of the GOP freshman class.
Others were more blunt.
Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) said in a tweet that he was “disgusted and discouraged” by what he heard from the Treasury chief.
Some Republicans said they were frustrated because Geithner did not offer up any compromises for solving the nation’s fiscal crisis, other than acknowledging broadly that entitlements need to be reformed.
“I think to some degree the mood was, or the question Republicans were asking themselves is: Why are we here?” said Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.). “[Geithner] said taxes were something that needed to be raised. Now he is talking about the taxes on the job creators — he used the word ‘wealthy.'”

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The Two Year Anniversary of the Obama Recovery

From Investors' Business Daily:

Without a lot of fanfare, the Obama economic recovery officially turned 2 this month. Anyone think we're better off than we were two years ago? . . .

Single family home prices dropped in March to their lowest level since April 2009; the consumer Confidence Index tumbled to a six-month low of 60.8; and regional manufacturing is slowing. In the Chicago area, it fell to its lowest level since November 2009.

Yet if you listened to President Obama and his cheerleaders in the press over the past two years, the answer should have been a resounding yes.

Obama promised way back in February 2009 that his $830 billion stimulus plan would unleash "a new wave of innovation, activity and construction" and "ignite spending by businesses and consumers."

In June 2010, he announced that the recovery was "well under way" and that it "is getting stronger by the day." A couple months later, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner penned a New York Times op-ed headlined "Welcome to the Recovery."

And all along, media simply parroted the White House line, extolling every "green shoot" they could find, celebrating every time a handful of jobs got created, while constantly acting surprised by the ongoing "unexpected" bad economic news.

But the fact is that the Obama recovery is one of the worst ever. Certainly the worst since the Great Depression. It's so bad, in fact, that even 24 months after the recession officially ended there are few places beyond the stock market and corporate profits that have shown much, if any, improvement. A few examples:

• Jobs: The number of people with jobs has barely changed since June 2009 — up just 0.4%.

• Unemployment: While the unemployment rate has dropped a bit, the number of long-term unemployed is up by a third, and the average length of unemployment is now a staggering 38 weeks.

• Earnings: Median weekly earnings are down slightly between Q3 2009 and Q1 2011, after adjusting for inflation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

• Housing prices: The National Association of Realtors reports that median price for existing home sales dropped 10% since June 2009. . . . .

Yet, incredibly, Obama continues to escape blame for this sorry state of affairs. A Rasmussen survey in May found 54% of the public still blames President Bush, while just 39% blame Obama's policies. . . .


Obama's demagoguery on Medicare

This rhetoric makes it hard to do the negotiations that the Obama administration claims that it wants.

Paul Ryan told Barack Obama on Wednesday that the president has been incorrectly describing the Republican congressman’s Medicare plan as a voucher system.

Ryan told reporters outside the White House that he “simply explained what our plan is” to Obama during a meeting in the East Room with the House GOP.

“It's been misdescribed by the president and others,” Ryan said. He added that he wanted to clarify his position with Obama “so that in the future, he won't mischaracterize it.”

The meeting was described to POLITICO by Phil Gingrey as “frosty” and “cool.” Tim Murphy said it was like “group therapy.”

Eric Cantor, the majority leader, told POLITICO that “we pressed him repeatedly to stop the demagoguery.” Obama, he said, replied by saying that “the demagoguery runs on both sides.” . . .


So much for the urgency of the debt ceiling increase

Apparently fixing the debt limit problem quickly isn't quite as crucial as the Obama administration claimed.

When the House Republicans stop by the White House to talk about the deficit with President Obama on Wednesday, a central figure won’t be there: Joe Biden.

The vice president, who has been leading negotiations on raising the debt limit with the GOP, is in Italy with his wife to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the country’s unification, on Thursday. Instead of domestic matters, Biden will be talking foreign affairs with Italy’s president and its prime minister, and the presidents of Russia and Georgia, according to the White House. . . .


With economic growth slow and jobs not growing, Obama wants to impose more costs

From John Fund at the WSJ's Political Diary:

It's another marker of President Obama's true inclinations that he has chosen to nominate a leading environmentalist to be his new secretary of commerce, a post designed to stimulate job creation.

John Bryson, the nominee, began his career as a top appointee of Jerry Brown back in the 1970s, when Mr. Brown first served as California's governor. During that time, Mr. Brown preached "an era of limits" when it came to the economy and loaded up the state with onerous regulations. Before his stint as a state water and public utility commissioner, Mr. Bryson opened up the West Coast operations of the Natural Resources Defense Council. According to Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, the NRDC has filed more lawsuits seeking to block offshore oil drilling than any other group in the country.

. . . Republicans couldn't help noticing that Mr. Obama characterized his friend as a "fierce proponent of alternative energy" during the announcement yesterday.

"With gas prices at nearly $4 a gallon, another green evangelist pushing failed talking points on the cap-and-trade energy tax and European-style gas prices is not who most Americans want to have at the helm of efforts to expand trade and grow our economy," said Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee.

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More on the anemic recovery: US Manufacturing stuck in stop

Housing, unemployment, manufacturing are all looking pretty bad.

The pace of growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector tumbled in May, slackening more than expected to its slowest since September 2009, according to an industry report released Wednesday.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of national factory activity fell to 53.5 in May from 60.4 the month before. The reading missed economists' expectations for 57.7.

A reading below 50 indicates contraction in the manufacturing sector, while a number above 50 means expansion.

New orders fell to 51.0 from 61.7 in April, the lowest since June 2009. The index for prices paid fell to 76.5 from 85.5, below expectations of 82.0. . . .

On top of that planned layoffs are up.

.S. private-sector payroll growth slowed sharply in May, falling to the lowest level in eight months and prompting some economists to lower forecasts for job growth in Friday's U.S. government report. . . .

The ADP report showed private employers added a scant 38,000 jobs last month, falling from a downwardly revised 177,000 in April and well short of expectations for 175,000. It was the lowest level since September 2010.

The report boded poorly for the key U.S. non-farm payrolls report at the end of the week. Credit Suisse lowered its estimate for Friday's employment number to 120,000 from its previous forecast of 185,000 and its private payroll estimate to 135,000 from 200,000.

ADP's number has been weaker than the government's private payrolls figure for 12 of the last 14 months, making Friday's government numbers likely to come in above ADP's report, Credit Suisse said. . . .

A separate report showed the number of planned layoffs at U.S. firms rose modestly in May with the government and non-profit sectors making up a large portion of the cuts.

Employers announced 37,135 planned job cuts last month, up 1.8 percent from 36,490 in April, according to a report from consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

"Most employers realise that these types of ups and downs are typical during recoveries. So, it is unlikely that we will see a sudden resurgence in corporate downsizing in the months ahead, unless there is a major shock to the economy," John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas said. . . . .


Toy gun sales doing very well

This is a nice cultural change. Toy companies might not like to call them guns, but they do have triggers and they are sometimes called cannons.

Toy companies are coming out with new extreme toy weapons for summer, outfitting kids for the traditional summertime pastime of playing in the yard . . . and blasting each other to smithereens with foam projectiles and water.

Noting the explosive popularity of outdoor "blasters" from Hasbro's Nerf and Super Soaker lines, more companies are jumping in with rival products, whether weapons that shoot wet paper pellets (a modern take on the old-fashioned spitball) or bows that fling foam arrows.

Amid overall lackluster toy sales in recent years, sales of outdoor playthings have been a bright spot, jumping 8% last year, according to market-research firm NPD Group. Industry experts say much of the growth is due to innovations like shooters that dispense foam darts with machine-gun rapidity and water blasters that let loose a torrential stream at increasingly greater distances. Hasbro's Nerf blasters and Super Soaker water shooters dominate the category. Innovations this summer include a cannon soaker with expanded water capacity and a battery-run soaker that promises a long, steady stream with no pumping required.

The shooters—makers assiduously avoid calling them "guns"—are antidotes to other summertime activities that kids or their parents soon tire of, whether it's the demands of day camps and other structured activities, or videogames and computer screens. According to NPD, the amount of face time kids spend with friends and siblings in leisure activities declines as they grow older, with an average of 10.8 hours a week by the time they are in the 9- to 12-year-old range. . . .

I remember this toy gun from when I was a kid. I didn't own this toy, but friends did.



73% increase in limousines owned by Federal Government under Obama

This is pretty crucial spending, right? Given how tight things are supposed to be, this is one area that we just couldn't afford to reduce.

A new report from a watchdog group shows that the number of limousines owned by the federal government rose by 73 percent during the first two years of President Obama's administration. The State Department was the recipient of most the new luxury vehicles.
The "Limousine Liberals?" report from iWatch News, part of the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity, showed that government data pegged the number of limos in the federal fleet at 412 in fiscal 2010, up from 238 in fiscal 2008. . . . .


Concealed Carry permits rise 25% in Washington State in last year

Huge increases are occurring nationwide in the number of concealed carry permit holders. The numbers for Washington State are here:

This revelation is currently being discussed on the WA-Guns forum, where Bill Starks, who goes by the internet handle of “m1gunr,” has posted an e-mail exchange he had with the Department of Licensing. As of May 19, the number of concealed pistol licenses was 337,503, which is a considerable jump from last year, when this column was advised that some 270,000 active CPLs were in circulation.

A check with that agency Tuesday morning brought the figure down slightly to 337,336. That’s a decline of only 167 active licenses, and there are any number of explanations for that, with the most likely being that people do not get CPL renewal notices, so they forget to renew. The active CPL figure comes to roughly five percent of the total state population of 6.7 million, but a higher percentage of adults over age 21, which is the minimum legal age to qualify for a CPL in this state. . . .

Florida had 813,127 active permit holders as of the end of April. Since May 31, 2010 when there were 729,000 permits, there has been about a 12 percent increase in permit holders. In Texas, from December 31, 2009 to December 31, 2010, there was an increase from 402,914 to 461,724 permits, a 15 percent increase. On December 31, 2008, there were 314,574 permits, showing a 28 percent increase from 2008 to 2009.

Add Florida, Pennsylvania, and Washington state together and those three states account for almost 2 million permit holders by themselves.

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So you still think that the US is a good place to do business?

All the different regulations and higher tax rates are having a real impact on new stock listings. From the WSJ:

The steady decline in the number of stocks listed in the U.S. finally reached the point this year where both of the nation's big stock exchanges took dramatic action—NYSE Euronext agreeing to a foreign takeover, and then Nasdaq OMX Group trying unsuccessfully to bust that up and take over the NYSE itself.

A combination of mergers, fewer U.S. IPOs, lower listing costs abroad and a shift in how investors and stockbrokers do their jobs has driven down the number of U.S. stock listings by a startling 43% since the peak in 1997—all during a period when the number of listings outside the U.S. has more than doubled.

The result is some 3,800 fewer companies trade on the U.S. exchanges today than in 1997, according to consulting firm Capital Markets Advisory Partners. Abroad, there are nearly eight times as many listings as in the U.S., with Hong Kong, China and India among the leading venues. . . .


Double dip housing recession, March prices dip below their 2009 level

The new numbers are out.

Home prices fell 4.2 percent in the first quarter of 2011, hitting a new low and threatening the economic recovery.

Data released Tuesday by Standard & Poor's and Case-Shiller found home prices continuing to fall in 2011 after already dropping at the end of last year. In the last quarter of 2010, home prices fell by 3.6 percent. Home prices were down 5.1 percent in all of 2010.

Of the 20 cities tracked by the Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller index, 19 experienced a net decline in prices over the last year, with 12 reaching new lows in March.
Eleven cities have reported at least eight straight months of declining home prices.

“This month’s report is marked by the confirmation of a double-dip in home prices across much of the nation ... Home prices continue on their downward spiral with no relief in sight,” said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices.

The only city to see home prices grow over the last year is Washington, up 1.1 percent in the last month and 4.3 percent for the year. . . .


Dagny Taggart Confronts the Union, a scene from Atlas Shrugged the Movie Part 1

This was a good movie.
John Stossel on Why Hollywood Was Against the "Atlas Shrugged" Film


So do you think that Canada's much lower corporate tax rate might explain this?

Canada's corporate tax rate is 21 percent. Stephen Harper's campaign promise was to cut the rate further, down to 16 percent. From the WSJ:

Canada's economy expanded at a 3.9% annualized pace in January through March, the fastest clip in a year and more than double the rate in the U.S., as businesses replenished inventories and boosted investment spending and exports rose while consumer and government spending stalled, Statistics Canada said Monday.

Gross domestic product growth was marginally below the consensus call of 4%, and also undershot the Bank of Canada's 4.2% forecast.

GDP growth accelerated from a downwardly revised 3.1% in the fourth quarter, which was originally reported at 3.3%. The economic performance was the reverse of the U.S. where growth decelerated to 1.8% in the first quarter from 3.1% previously. . . .

The economy expanded 3.2% in 2010, revised up a tad from the previously estimated 3.1%. . . .

Meanwhile for the United States: "Economists Downgrade Prospects for Growth"

After a disappointing first quarter, economists largely predicted the U.S. recovery would ramp back up as short-term disruptions such as higher gas prices, bad weather and supply problems in Japan subsided.

But there's little indication that's happening. Manufacturing is cooling, the housing market is struggling and consumers are keeping a close eye on spending, meaning the U.S. economy might be on a slower path to full health than expected.

"It's very hard to generate a rapid recovery when rapid recoveries are historically driven by housing and the consumer," said Nigel Gault, an economist at IHS Global Insight. He expects an annualized, inflation-adjusted growth rate of less than 3% in coming quarters—better than the first-quarter's 1.8% rate, but too slow to make a meaningful dent in unemployment.

A growing number of forecasters are downgrading their second-quarter growth predictions. JPMorgan Chase & Co. economists revised down their estimate to a 2.5% rate from 3%, while Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists cut theirs to 2% from 2.8%. Deutsche Bank cut its forecast to 3.2% from 3.7%.

Companies are similarly cautious. Applied Materials Inc., the largest maker of machines used in producing computer chips, said it expected growth in its semiconductor and solar markets to slow following one of its best quarters ever. Hewlett-Packard Co. cut its fiscal-year outlook amid weak computer sales and negative effects from the disaster in Japan. Clorox Co. offered a more guarded outlook for its household goods business as executives noted that higher prices may hurt sales.

The dimming outlook raises a deeper question about the economy's health: Has it emerged from the financial turmoil of 2008 and 2009 with a chronic growth problem?

Some economists think it has. "We keep expecting the economy to perform along norms that are very difficult to achieve when you have this much private debt and public debt," said Carmen Reinhart, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. . . .

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Any guesses where the Afghanistan Taliban will be hiding?

So guess where the Taliban will be having their "business" meetings? In office buildings or homes?

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he will no longer allow NATO airstrikes on houses because they have caused too many civilian casualties. He says a recent strike that mistakenly killed a group of children and women will be the last.

Mr. Karzai told reporters in Kabul on Tuesday that "from this moment, airstrikes on the houses of people are not allowed." It was the president's strongest statement against the strikes, which NATO says are a necessary weapon in the war against the Taliban insurgency. . . .

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Appearing on Armed America Radio with Mark Walters for 3 hours tonight

I will be on Armed American Radio starting at 8 PM EDT. Mark's website is located here.