Commentary Magazine


Topic: Department of Labor

Obama Was Champion of WARN Act in ’07

Yesterday, I wrote about how President Obama’s Department of Labor issued guidelines for dealing with the job losses from sequestration. The guidelines told employers not to provide workers with 60 days minimum notice of pending layoffs, as required by federal law. We don’t know what prompted the DOL’s unusual directive, but Obama most likely wants to avoid a scenario in which mass layoff notices are sent out just days before the presidential election.

It’s interesting that the Obama administration is suddenly so blase when it comes to enforcing employee protection laws, particularly because he was a champion of the 60-day minimum notice law — also known as the WARN Act — back in 2007.

“For too long, employers have failed to notify workers that they’re about to lose their jobs due to mass layoffs or plant closings even though notice is required by the WARN Act,” then-Sen. Obama said in a July 17, 2007  press release. “The least employers can do when they’re anticipating layoffs is to let workers know they’re going to be out of a job and a paycheck with enough time to plan for their future.”

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Yesterday, I wrote about how President Obama’s Department of Labor issued guidelines for dealing with the job losses from sequestration. The guidelines told employers not to provide workers with 60 days minimum notice of pending layoffs, as required by federal law. We don’t know what prompted the DOL’s unusual directive, but Obama most likely wants to avoid a scenario in which mass layoff notices are sent out just days before the presidential election.

It’s interesting that the Obama administration is suddenly so blase when it comes to enforcing employee protection laws, particularly because he was a champion of the 60-day minimum notice law — also known as the WARN Act — back in 2007.

“For too long, employers have failed to notify workers that they’re about to lose their jobs due to mass layoffs or plant closings even though notice is required by the WARN Act,” then-Sen. Obama said in a July 17, 2007  press release. “The least employers can do when they’re anticipating layoffs is to let workers know they’re going to be out of a job and a paycheck with enough time to plan for their future.”

During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama also railed against loopholes that allowed employers to avoid complying with the law — which is basically what his DOL seems to be advising now.

“Now, I believe we must act at the federal level to close the loophole that allows employers to disregard the WARN Act without penalty,” he said in statement to the Toledo Blade.

As senator, Obama even cosponsored the 2007 FOREWARN Act, which would have extended the minimum notice to 90 days and increased both the penalties for violating the law and the government’s ability to enforce it.

Oddly enough, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown reintroduced the FOREWARN Act less than two months ago. Will Obama — who advocated for it during his last presidential campaign — express his support for it again? And will he tell his DOL to stop encouraging employers to dodge the WARN Act, which he insisted was so important when he was serving in the Senate?

Nobody wants employers and workers to worry about layoffs that may never happen. But the way to ensure that warning notices don’t go out unnecessarily is by dealing with sequestration before November and before the 60-day minimum window — not by telling employers to ignore the WARN Act and assume sequestration will be taken care of after the election.

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DOL: Delay Layoffs Until After Election

I’ve written before about the potential for a “November surprise” if the sequestration threat doesn’t get resolved before the election. The automatic cuts to the defense budget are set to go into effect on January 2, 2013, and federal law under the WARN Act required employers to give workers a minimum of 60 days notice before potential mass layoffs. That means layoff warning notices could go out to hundreds of thousands of workers just days before the presidential election.

Naturally, this poses some problems for the Obama campaign. Enter the Department of Labor, which released new guidelines this week telling states that it would be “inappropriate” to give workers 60 days advance notice in this situation, and basically asking them to ignore the employee protection laws under the WARN Act:

Although it is currently known that sequestration may occur, it is also known that efforts are being made to avoid sequestration. Thus, even the occurrence of sequestration is not necessarily foreseeable. In addition, the sequester’s impact on particular accounts will depend at least in part on Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 funding that Congress has not yet enacted. Perhaps more importantly, Federal agencies also have some discretion in how to implement the required reductions if sequestration were to occur. …

For these reasons, in the context of prospective across-the-board budget cuts under the BBEDCA, as amended by the BCA, WARN Act notice to employees of Federal contractors, including in the defense industry, is not required 60 days in advance of January 2, 2013, and would be inappropriate, given the lack of certainty about how the budget cuts will be implemented and the possibility that the sequester will be avoided before January.

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I’ve written before about the potential for a “November surprise” if the sequestration threat doesn’t get resolved before the election. The automatic cuts to the defense budget are set to go into effect on January 2, 2013, and federal law under the WARN Act required employers to give workers a minimum of 60 days notice before potential mass layoffs. That means layoff warning notices could go out to hundreds of thousands of workers just days before the presidential election.

Naturally, this poses some problems for the Obama campaign. Enter the Department of Labor, which released new guidelines this week telling states that it would be “inappropriate” to give workers 60 days advance notice in this situation, and basically asking them to ignore the employee protection laws under the WARN Act:

Although it is currently known that sequestration may occur, it is also known that efforts are being made to avoid sequestration. Thus, even the occurrence of sequestration is not necessarily foreseeable. In addition, the sequester’s impact on particular accounts will depend at least in part on Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 funding that Congress has not yet enacted. Perhaps more importantly, Federal agencies also have some discretion in how to implement the required reductions if sequestration were to occur. …

For these reasons, in the context of prospective across-the-board budget cuts under the BBEDCA, as amended by the BCA, WARN Act notice to employees of Federal contractors, including in the defense industry, is not required 60 days in advance of January 2, 2013, and would be inappropriate, given the lack of certainty about how the budget cuts will be implemented and the possibility that the sequester will be avoided before January.

This is an interesting about-face from the Department of Labor. In a statement yesterday, Sen. John McCain noted that the DOL previously argued that it has “no administrative or enforcement responsibility under [the WARN Act]” and “cannot provide specific advice or guidance with respect to individual situations.” Funny how a looming election crisis for the Obama campaign can change all that.

As McCain wrote in his statement, this advisory is a direct affront to American workers:

“At a time when our economy continues to suffer from staggeringly high unemployment, the Obama administration today took away an important planning tool for Americans who may lose their jobs as a result of the failure of Congress and the White House to address the looming and entirely predictable threat of budget sequestration. Sequestration is currently the law of the land, and our nation’s workers have a right to know how these sequestration cuts which begin in January may impact them.”

It would also make it less likely that sequestration will be dealt with before November, as there would be less urgency if the administration didn’t have to worry about mass layoff notices impacting Obama’s election chances.

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More Evidence of a Weak Economy

The Department of Labor releases the unemployment figures tomorrow morning. But here is a noteworthy economic finding. Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, increased to 9.1 percent in February from 8.6 percent in January. The 0.5-percentage-point increase in February compared with January is the largest such month-to-month change Gallup has recorded in its not-seasonally adjusted measure since December 2010.

There’s more. In addition to the 9.1 percent of workers who are unemployed, 10.0 percent are working part time but want full-time work. (This  percentage is higher than the 9.6 percent of February 2011.) As a result, in February Gallup’s underemployment measure, which combines the percentage of workers who are unemployed and the percentage working part time but wanting full-time work, increased to 19.1 — or almost one in five people.

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The Department of Labor releases the unemployment figures tomorrow morning. But here is a noteworthy economic finding. Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, increased to 9.1 percent in February from 8.6 percent in January. The 0.5-percentage-point increase in February compared with January is the largest such month-to-month change Gallup has recorded in its not-seasonally adjusted measure since December 2010.

There’s more. In addition to the 9.1 percent of workers who are unemployed, 10.0 percent are working part time but want full-time work. (This  percentage is higher than the 9.6 percent of February 2011.) As a result, in February Gallup’s underemployment measure, which combines the percentage of workers who are unemployed and the percentage working part time but wanting full-time work, increased to 19.1 — or almost one in five people.

Gallup concludes, “Regardless of what the government reports, Gallup’s unemployment and underemployment measures show a substantial deterioration since mid-January.”

The president’s hopes for re-election hinge on the economy getting significantly stronger, not weaker, between now and November. We’ll see what tomorrow’s Bureau of Labor Statistics job report brings. But based on Gallup’s findings, David Axelrod might want to keep the corks in the champagne bottle.

 

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The Nail in the Dems’ Coffin

There is no way to spin this one:

The economy shed 95,000 nonfarm jobs in September, the Labor Department reported Friday, with most of the decline the result of the layoffs by local governments and of temporary decennial Census workers.

The steep drop was far worse than economists had been predicting.

While total government jobs fell by 159,000, private sector companies added 64,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate, which measures the percentage of workers who are actively looking for but unable to find jobs, stayed flat at 9.6 percent.

Obama’s ludicrous rhetoric (“Recovery Summer”) and economic stewardship will be a millstone around the neck of every Democrat on the ballot three weeks from Tuesday. Many of them are going to lose. And today’s awful economic news will silence even the most deluded spinners that the Democrats have abated their electoral slide. Expect it to accelerate.

There is no way to spin this one:

The economy shed 95,000 nonfarm jobs in September, the Labor Department reported Friday, with most of the decline the result of the layoffs by local governments and of temporary decennial Census workers.

The steep drop was far worse than economists had been predicting.

While total government jobs fell by 159,000, private sector companies added 64,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate, which measures the percentage of workers who are actively looking for but unable to find jobs, stayed flat at 9.6 percent.

Obama’s ludicrous rhetoric (“Recovery Summer”) and economic stewardship will be a millstone around the neck of every Democrat on the ballot three weeks from Tuesday. Many of them are going to lose. And today’s awful economic news will silence even the most deluded spinners that the Democrats have abated their electoral slide. Expect it to accelerate.

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This Is Why the Democrats Will Get Trounced

Politico reports on Obama’s comments following the jobs report:

“We are confident that we are moving in the right direction, but we want to keep this recovery moving stronger and accelerate the job growth that’s needed so desperately all across the country,” he told reporters outside the White House after calling the Labor Department’s jobs report “positive news.”

Obama dismissed a reporter who asked if he regrets calling the past months the “summer of recovery.” “I don’t regret the notion that we are moving forward because of the steps that we’ve taken,” he said. “We are moving in the right direction. We just have to speed it up.”

He must be joking. The comments are so at odds with public perception, and the suggestion that 54,000 lost jobs is somehow “encouraging” is so daft, that one wonders what is going on inside the White House. I suspect those remarks are going to appear in many GOP ads this fall. Obama, who was thought to be a genius at campaigning, has lost his touch and now is something of a one-man wrecking crew for the Democratic Party.

Politico reports on Obama’s comments following the jobs report:

“We are confident that we are moving in the right direction, but we want to keep this recovery moving stronger and accelerate the job growth that’s needed so desperately all across the country,” he told reporters outside the White House after calling the Labor Department’s jobs report “positive news.”

Obama dismissed a reporter who asked if he regrets calling the past months the “summer of recovery.” “I don’t regret the notion that we are moving forward because of the steps that we’ve taken,” he said. “We are moving in the right direction. We just have to speed it up.”

He must be joking. The comments are so at odds with public perception, and the suggestion that 54,000 lost jobs is somehow “encouraging” is so daft, that one wonders what is going on inside the White House. I suspect those remarks are going to appear in many GOP ads this fall. Obama, who was thought to be a genius at campaigning, has lost his touch and now is something of a one-man wrecking crew for the Democratic Party.

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Bad News, Again

Another dollop of bad news on the economy:

Applications for unemployment benefits in the U.S. unexpectedly increased last week to the highest level since November, showing companies are stepping up the pace of firings as the economy slows.

Initial jobless claims rose by 12,000 to 500,000 in the week ended Aug. 14, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. Claims exceeded all estimates of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News and compared with the median forecast of 478,000. The number of people receiving unemployment insurance fell, while those getting extended benefits increased.

The summer of recovery, as the Obami refer to it, isn’t. And the Democrats who keep telling us everything is getting better seem more and more isolated from reality. Rather than a double dip (I don’t recall any steep upward trajectory or job growth), we seem to be tumbling steadily downward:

While companies have boosted payrolls seven straight months, firings have remained elevated as the economic recovery shows signs of slowing. Private firms added 71,000 jobs in July, fewer than economists had forecast, according to government figures released Aug. 6. Unemployment held at 9.5 percent, near a 26-year high of 10.1 percent. More than a year after the economy began expanding following the worst recession since the 1930s, employers are slow to hire. That’s limiting consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy.

Obama said we should judge him on the economy. Fair enough. He won’t be getting a B+.

Another dollop of bad news on the economy:

Applications for unemployment benefits in the U.S. unexpectedly increased last week to the highest level since November, showing companies are stepping up the pace of firings as the economy slows.

Initial jobless claims rose by 12,000 to 500,000 in the week ended Aug. 14, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. Claims exceeded all estimates of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News and compared with the median forecast of 478,000. The number of people receiving unemployment insurance fell, while those getting extended benefits increased.

The summer of recovery, as the Obami refer to it, isn’t. And the Democrats who keep telling us everything is getting better seem more and more isolated from reality. Rather than a double dip (I don’t recall any steep upward trajectory or job growth), we seem to be tumbling steadily downward:

While companies have boosted payrolls seven straight months, firings have remained elevated as the economic recovery shows signs of slowing. Private firms added 71,000 jobs in July, fewer than economists had forecast, according to government figures released Aug. 6. Unemployment held at 9.5 percent, near a 26-year high of 10.1 percent. More than a year after the economy began expanding following the worst recession since the 1930s, employers are slow to hire. That’s limiting consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy.

Obama said we should judge him on the economy. Fair enough. He won’t be getting a B+.

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Public Gets an “A” in Economics

As Pete pointed out, a large majority of Americans think the economy is getting worse. They aren’t simply being intransigent in refusing to buy the administration’s assurances that the recovery is in full swing. It turns out they have a pretty good sense of where the economy is headed. This report explains:

The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week to the highest level in close to six months, the latest evidence the economy’s recovery is faltering.  Thursday’s data came two days after the Federal Reserve spooked investors by downgrading its assessment of the economy. The increase in jobless claims added to worries in the stock market, which has failed to make any gains this year.

The number of new claims for state unemployment insurance rose by 2,000 to 484,000 in the week ended August 7, the second straight increase, the Labor Department said. Economists had expected claims to edge down to 469,000.

“This is not a good number,” said John Brady, an analyst at MF Global in Chicago. “Claims are going the wrong way. That has the market concerned.”

U.S. stocks closed down for a third straight day, pressured by the data and a disappointing revenue forecast from tech bellwether Cisco Systems Inc.

Obama’s happy talk about the recovery flies in the face of both Americans’ personal experience and widely available economic information. (“Data for the United States has been decidedly weak over the past couple of months, with private-sector job growth lagging expectations and the unemployment rate stuck at 9.5 percent. That has fed concerns the economy could be at risk of a renewed recession or face a debilitating bout of deflation as the bleak jobs market pressures incomes and prices.”) As the economy sags and public confidence does as well, the president’s insistence that things are looking up further erodes his credibility.

He keeps saying things that simply aren’t so. The public is no longer willing to extend him the benefit of the doubt and will take its wrath out on the president’s party in less than three months. Perhaps then the administration will acknowledge Obamanomics has failed and try a different approach to restoring growth and job creation.

As Pete pointed out, a large majority of Americans think the economy is getting worse. They aren’t simply being intransigent in refusing to buy the administration’s assurances that the recovery is in full swing. It turns out they have a pretty good sense of where the economy is headed. This report explains:

The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week to the highest level in close to six months, the latest evidence the economy’s recovery is faltering.  Thursday’s data came two days after the Federal Reserve spooked investors by downgrading its assessment of the economy. The increase in jobless claims added to worries in the stock market, which has failed to make any gains this year.

The number of new claims for state unemployment insurance rose by 2,000 to 484,000 in the week ended August 7, the second straight increase, the Labor Department said. Economists had expected claims to edge down to 469,000.

“This is not a good number,” said John Brady, an analyst at MF Global in Chicago. “Claims are going the wrong way. That has the market concerned.”

U.S. stocks closed down for a third straight day, pressured by the data and a disappointing revenue forecast from tech bellwether Cisco Systems Inc.

Obama’s happy talk about the recovery flies in the face of both Americans’ personal experience and widely available economic information. (“Data for the United States has been decidedly weak over the past couple of months, with private-sector job growth lagging expectations and the unemployment rate stuck at 9.5 percent. That has fed concerns the economy could be at risk of a renewed recession or face a debilitating bout of deflation as the bleak jobs market pressures incomes and prices.”) As the economy sags and public confidence does as well, the president’s insistence that things are looking up further erodes his credibility.

He keeps saying things that simply aren’t so. The public is no longer willing to extend him the benefit of the doubt and will take its wrath out on the president’s party in less than three months. Perhaps then the administration will acknowledge Obamanomics has failed and try a different approach to restoring growth and job creation.

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Democrats’ Jobs Problem: Their Own

Peter Brown, assistant director for the Quinnipiac poll, tells us:

Time may be running out for the Obama administration to convince voters that the economy is recovering quickly enough to merit giving the president’s congressional allies the votes this November that will allow him and them to run the country for the next two years.

Brown argues that the perception of the economy’s progress is what is key (“Do voters believe the president’s policies have reinvigorated the economy enough since he took office in the midst of the financial crisis, or have his actions been responsible for the tepid recovery from what many consider the stiffest recession since the Great Depression?”), but that perception is grounded in an economic reality that is increasingly bleak, especially for job seekers.

The day after the jobs numbers were released, a headline in the Wall Street Journal blared: “U.S. Jobs Picture Darkens.” The report explained:

Nonfarm payrolls fell 125,000, their first month of losses this year, as the government let 225,000 census workers go, the Labor Department said Friday. Private-sector employment grew by a slight 83,000 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis, and seems to have downshifted from average gains of nearly 200,000 in March and April.

The unemployment rate declined to 9.5% from 9.7% in May, but not because more jobs were available. Instead, 652,000 workers dropped out of the labor force, meaning they weren’t counted as unemployed and looking for work. … The economy shed jobs in June as meager private-sector hiring failed to make up for the end of thousands of temporary census worker jobs, the latest signal that an already-slow recovery might be shifting into an even lower gear.

Moreover, liberals’ favorite Keynesian solution — spend more of the taxpayers’ money (or in this case, borrow to spend more) — is increasingly  “unappealing,” as even Democrats are spooked by mammoth deficits.

A Washington Post headline was similarly gloomy: “Economy lags as job growth remains weak.” Once again, we see that the Democrats are clueless about what to do now:

Voters are frustrated both with high unemployment and high budget deficits, but the Obama administration and congressional Democrats face a catch-22: The deficit won’t come down significantly until the jobless rate decreases, while most of the policies that could improve the employment situation would raise the deficit further, at least in the short run. …

Chronically high unemployment is creating a dilemma for congressional Democrats, particularly sophomores and freshmen from conservative swing districts where voter anger over the government’s bailout of the financial system, and skepticism about last year’s economic stimulus package, run high.

In sum, Obamanomics has proved to be as much of a bust as “smart diplomacy.” The new New Deal has worked as poorly as the original, and the barrage of tax increases, mandates, and uber-regulation has left the private sector reeling. So it is more than an image or perception problem. The Democrats have failed to deliver on their most critical promise: to spur the economic recovery and job growth. The voters will hold them accountable in four months.

Peter Brown, assistant director for the Quinnipiac poll, tells us:

Time may be running out for the Obama administration to convince voters that the economy is recovering quickly enough to merit giving the president’s congressional allies the votes this November that will allow him and them to run the country for the next two years.

Brown argues that the perception of the economy’s progress is what is key (“Do voters believe the president’s policies have reinvigorated the economy enough since he took office in the midst of the financial crisis, or have his actions been responsible for the tepid recovery from what many consider the stiffest recession since the Great Depression?”), but that perception is grounded in an economic reality that is increasingly bleak, especially for job seekers.

The day after the jobs numbers were released, a headline in the Wall Street Journal blared: “U.S. Jobs Picture Darkens.” The report explained:

Nonfarm payrolls fell 125,000, their first month of losses this year, as the government let 225,000 census workers go, the Labor Department said Friday. Private-sector employment grew by a slight 83,000 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis, and seems to have downshifted from average gains of nearly 200,000 in March and April.

The unemployment rate declined to 9.5% from 9.7% in May, but not because more jobs were available. Instead, 652,000 workers dropped out of the labor force, meaning they weren’t counted as unemployed and looking for work. … The economy shed jobs in June as meager private-sector hiring failed to make up for the end of thousands of temporary census worker jobs, the latest signal that an already-slow recovery might be shifting into an even lower gear.

Moreover, liberals’ favorite Keynesian solution — spend more of the taxpayers’ money (or in this case, borrow to spend more) — is increasingly  “unappealing,” as even Democrats are spooked by mammoth deficits.

A Washington Post headline was similarly gloomy: “Economy lags as job growth remains weak.” Once again, we see that the Democrats are clueless about what to do now:

Voters are frustrated both with high unemployment and high budget deficits, but the Obama administration and congressional Democrats face a catch-22: The deficit won’t come down significantly until the jobless rate decreases, while most of the policies that could improve the employment situation would raise the deficit further, at least in the short run. …

Chronically high unemployment is creating a dilemma for congressional Democrats, particularly sophomores and freshmen from conservative swing districts where voter anger over the government’s bailout of the financial system, and skepticism about last year’s economic stimulus package, run high.

In sum, Obamanomics has proved to be as much of a bust as “smart diplomacy.” The new New Deal has worked as poorly as the original, and the barrage of tax increases, mandates, and uber-regulation has left the private sector reeling. So it is more than an image or perception problem. The Democrats have failed to deliver on their most critical promise: to spur the economic recovery and job growth. The voters will hold them accountable in four months.

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Still Out to Lunch on the Economy

Rep. Joe Barton’s statement wasn’t the most damaging political comment of the day. After all, he’s  not in the Republican leadership, and was forced to recant for rudely pointing out that once again the federal government was bullying private industry. Actually, the dumbest and most harmful thing said on Thursday came from Joe Biden, who managed to remind the voters how out of touch the White House is:

Vice President Joe Biden says the economic recovery act deserves credit for creating or saving upward of 2.8 million jobs so far, with thousands more projects coming soon in a busy summer of construction. At the White House Thursday, the vice president told reporters: “Folks, the act is working.”

With unemployment at historic highs — and predicted to stay that way for some time — and in the wake of another month of anemic private-sector job growth, virtually no one outside the White House believes this is true. Indeed, Biden’s timing could not have been worse:

The number of people filing new claims for jobless benefits jumped last week after three straight declines, another sign that the pace of layoffs has not slowed. Initial claims for jobless benefits rose by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 472,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the highest level in a month and overshadowed a report that showed consumer prices remain essentially flat.

The public, as on health care and the oil spill, seems to have formed its opinion of the president’s performance. And it has come to see that White House utterances are often ludicrously wrong. The stimulus was going to keep unemployment at 8 percent. The health-care reform was going to cut the deficit. ObamaCare was going to let you keep your health-care plan.

By repeating spin that the public has already rejected, the White House isn’t changing anyone’s mind. Biden, like Obama and his economic advisers, is simply reinforcing the perception that the administration is either oblivious or dishonest — or both.

Rep. Joe Barton’s statement wasn’t the most damaging political comment of the day. After all, he’s  not in the Republican leadership, and was forced to recant for rudely pointing out that once again the federal government was bullying private industry. Actually, the dumbest and most harmful thing said on Thursday came from Joe Biden, who managed to remind the voters how out of touch the White House is:

Vice President Joe Biden says the economic recovery act deserves credit for creating or saving upward of 2.8 million jobs so far, with thousands more projects coming soon in a busy summer of construction. At the White House Thursday, the vice president told reporters: “Folks, the act is working.”

With unemployment at historic highs — and predicted to stay that way for some time — and in the wake of another month of anemic private-sector job growth, virtually no one outside the White House believes this is true. Indeed, Biden’s timing could not have been worse:

The number of people filing new claims for jobless benefits jumped last week after three straight declines, another sign that the pace of layoffs has not slowed. Initial claims for jobless benefits rose by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 472,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the highest level in a month and overshadowed a report that showed consumer prices remain essentially flat.

The public, as on health care and the oil spill, seems to have formed its opinion of the president’s performance. And it has come to see that White House utterances are often ludicrously wrong. The stimulus was going to keep unemployment at 8 percent. The health-care reform was going to cut the deficit. ObamaCare was going to let you keep your health-care plan.

By repeating spin that the public has already rejected, the White House isn’t changing anyone’s mind. Biden, like Obama and his economic advisers, is simply reinforcing the perception that the administration is either oblivious or dishonest — or both.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

But Obama said unemployment would remain under 8 percent if Congress passed the stimulus. “Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the U.S. recovery probably won’t quickly bring down the unemployment rate, which is likely to stay ‘high for a while.’ … The June 4 Labor Department report ‘shows we are still in a jobless recovery,’ Allen Sinai, chief global economist at Decision Economics in New York, said in an interview on Bloomberg Radio. ‘Ex-census we are only 41,000. That is terrible. … The unemployment rate is going to stay 9.5 to ten percent. We are not going to generate a lot of jobs.’”

But Newsweek told us he was “sort of a God.” Gallup has Obama at 45 percent approval, 46 percent disapproval.

But Obama said it was a good idea to join the UN Human Rights Council. “Meeting today in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council heard the following statement from the Syrian representative, First Secretary Rania Al Rifaiy:  ‘Israel … is a state that is built on hatred. … Let me quote a song that a group of children on a school bus in Israel sing merrily as they go to school and I quote ‘With my teeth I will rip your flesh. With my mouth I will suck your blood.’ The Obama administration chose to join this Council, the UN’s lead human rights body, and its representative was present. But they said nothing after hearing this blood libel.”

But Obama is still torn between Turkey and Israel: “The Israeli attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla sounded ‘the death knell of the Zionist regime,’ Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told an enthusiastic crowd at Istanbul’s Abou Ayyoub Ansari Mosque on Tuesday. He accused Israel of ‘unmatched crimes in the course of sixty some years of its history, that have been unprecedented in the history of mankind, the last of which has been invading the Gaza Peace Flotilla,’ IRNA reported, added that the crowd responded with ‘Allahu akbar.’” And that’s what Major Hasan shouted before he killed 13 people.

But the real fun would be watching the liberal blogosphere completely melt down. Jay Nordlinger: “If [John] Bolton is president, Elliott Abrams can be secretary of state.”

But 78 percent of them voted for the president who is doing nothing about it: “In indignant statements to the media, in Op-Eds and at rallies around the country, American Jews jumping to Israel’s defense are casting the fallout to last week’s flotilla incident — and the mounting opposition to Israel’s blockade of Gaza — as part of a campaign to delegitimize Israel’s right to defend itself.”

But was she quizzed on the part about Islam being the “religion of peace“? “Israeli left-wing activist Tali Fahima has converted to Islam, according to the website of the Islamic Movement in Israel. Fahima is said to have converted at a mosque in Umm al-Fahm in the presence of sheikhs who tested her knowledge of the principles of Islam. … Fahima was released from prison in 2007 after completing a three-year sentence for passing information to the enemy, having contact with a foreign agent and supporting a terrorist organization. … In May 2004, Fahima entered the Jenin area and met with operatives of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, the armed wing of the Fatah movement. She met with Zakaria Zubeidi, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade leader in Jenin. Fahima declared that she would serve as a human shield for Zubeidi, who was wanted by Israeli security forces.”

But Obama said unemployment would remain under 8 percent if Congress passed the stimulus. “Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the U.S. recovery probably won’t quickly bring down the unemployment rate, which is likely to stay ‘high for a while.’ … The June 4 Labor Department report ‘shows we are still in a jobless recovery,’ Allen Sinai, chief global economist at Decision Economics in New York, said in an interview on Bloomberg Radio. ‘Ex-census we are only 41,000. That is terrible. … The unemployment rate is going to stay 9.5 to ten percent. We are not going to generate a lot of jobs.’”

But Newsweek told us he was “sort of a God.” Gallup has Obama at 45 percent approval, 46 percent disapproval.

But Obama said it was a good idea to join the UN Human Rights Council. “Meeting today in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council heard the following statement from the Syrian representative, First Secretary Rania Al Rifaiy:  ‘Israel … is a state that is built on hatred. … Let me quote a song that a group of children on a school bus in Israel sing merrily as they go to school and I quote ‘With my teeth I will rip your flesh. With my mouth I will suck your blood.’ The Obama administration chose to join this Council, the UN’s lead human rights body, and its representative was present. But they said nothing after hearing this blood libel.”

But Obama is still torn between Turkey and Israel: “The Israeli attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla sounded ‘the death knell of the Zionist regime,’ Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told an enthusiastic crowd at Istanbul’s Abou Ayyoub Ansari Mosque on Tuesday. He accused Israel of ‘unmatched crimes in the course of sixty some years of its history, that have been unprecedented in the history of mankind, the last of which has been invading the Gaza Peace Flotilla,’ IRNA reported, added that the crowd responded with ‘Allahu akbar.’” And that’s what Major Hasan shouted before he killed 13 people.

But the real fun would be watching the liberal blogosphere completely melt down. Jay Nordlinger: “If [John] Bolton is president, Elliott Abrams can be secretary of state.”

But 78 percent of them voted for the president who is doing nothing about it: “In indignant statements to the media, in Op-Eds and at rallies around the country, American Jews jumping to Israel’s defense are casting the fallout to last week’s flotilla incident — and the mounting opposition to Israel’s blockade of Gaza — as part of a campaign to delegitimize Israel’s right to defend itself.”

But was she quizzed on the part about Islam being the “religion of peace“? “Israeli left-wing activist Tali Fahima has converted to Islam, according to the website of the Islamic Movement in Israel. Fahima is said to have converted at a mosque in Umm al-Fahm in the presence of sheikhs who tested her knowledge of the principles of Islam. … Fahima was released from prison in 2007 after completing a three-year sentence for passing information to the enemy, having contact with a foreign agent and supporting a terrorist organization. … In May 2004, Fahima entered the Jenin area and met with operatives of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, the armed wing of the Fatah movement. She met with Zakaria Zubeidi, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade leader in Jenin. Fahima declared that she would serve as a human shield for Zubeidi, who was wanted by Israeli security forces.”

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Flotsam and Jetsam

It took too long, but the myth of Obama’s competence is crumbling: “The WH political shop leaves much to be desired. Take your pick as to which is worse: The fact that Pres. Obama’s team opened itself up to GOP ridicule over feelers it put out to Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) and ex-CO House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D); the fact that those feelers didn’t actually work, displaying an ineptness absent during George W. Bush’s tenure; or the fact that the WH has gone more than a week without being able to move past the story.”

It took too long, but the Obama spin on the economic “recovery” is no longer carrying the day: “Private employers did little hiring last month, undermining hopes that the economic recovery was gathering pace and helping send U.S. stocks down more than 3% on the day. The Labor Department said Friday that 431,000 jobs were added in May. But the vast majority were temporary workers hired by the government to conduct the 2010 Census. Private-sector employment rose by only 41,000, the smallest monthly increase since January. Without faster private-sector job growth, the U.S. faces a bumpy recovery restrained by households with little income to spend.”

It took too long, but even the New York Times has stopped shilling for Obama with respect to the economy: “President Obama tried to put a gloss on the jobs report, telling workers at a trucking company in Hyattsville, Md., that the numbers showed an economy that was ‘getting stronger by the day.’ Mr. Obama mentioned that Census Bureau hiring accounted for most of the new jobs, but he added that the nation had added jobs for each of the last five months. ‘These numbers do mean that we are moving in the right direction,’ he said. ‘There are going to be ups and downs.’ In fact, the May figures suggested a job market wheezing after months of more vigorous growth.”

It took too long, but the Washington Post is calling for transparency on the Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff job offers:”Is President Obama comfortable with the actions of White House officials in dangling federal jobs as political inducements? An episode involving former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D) is more troubling than the previously disclosed incident involving Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.). . .  White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that Mr. Obama did not know about the Romanoff overtures in advance, and Mr. Gibbs blew off questions about his reaction by saying he hadn’t discussed the matter with the president. That’s not sufficient. The American people deserve to hear directly from the president about whether he is happy with this behavior.”

It took too long, but an advocate for Israel emerges in the administration: “Biden’s instinctive embrace of Israel at a moment it was under fire from the international community was the most vivid example yet of Biden’s emergence as the West Wing’s most prominent public supporter of the Jewish state. ” Too bad Obama isn’t and he ignores most of what Biden says.

It took too long, but foreign-policy gurus across the political spectrum are complaining that “when it comes to the question of democracy in the Muslim world, many see a U.S. administration more keen to reinforce status quo support for authoritarian regimes than to push for meaningful political reform.”

It took too long, but cranky Republicans are admitting that, “after this Obama nightmare, the Bush brand is looking pretty good.” (The occasion was a New York GOP convention at which Jeb Bush stole the show.)

It took too long, but there is a is a brilliant novel of teenage angst other than (and smarter than) Catcher in the Rye. (The most insightful review is, of course, in this month’s COMMENTARY.)

And with plenty of time to spare, Mitch Daniels emerges as a potential 2012 contender: “He is at once so visible and so self-effacing that he seems to have sunk into a black hole of personal magnetism and come out the other side, where the very lack of charisma becomes charismatic. He is the un-Obama. Republicans — notably some wealthy and powerful ones who have decided he should be president​ — seem to like that.”

It took too long, but the myth of Obama’s competence is crumbling: “The WH political shop leaves much to be desired. Take your pick as to which is worse: The fact that Pres. Obama’s team opened itself up to GOP ridicule over feelers it put out to Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) and ex-CO House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D); the fact that those feelers didn’t actually work, displaying an ineptness absent during George W. Bush’s tenure; or the fact that the WH has gone more than a week without being able to move past the story.”

It took too long, but the Obama spin on the economic “recovery” is no longer carrying the day: “Private employers did little hiring last month, undermining hopes that the economic recovery was gathering pace and helping send U.S. stocks down more than 3% on the day. The Labor Department said Friday that 431,000 jobs were added in May. But the vast majority were temporary workers hired by the government to conduct the 2010 Census. Private-sector employment rose by only 41,000, the smallest monthly increase since January. Without faster private-sector job growth, the U.S. faces a bumpy recovery restrained by households with little income to spend.”

It took too long, but even the New York Times has stopped shilling for Obama with respect to the economy: “President Obama tried to put a gloss on the jobs report, telling workers at a trucking company in Hyattsville, Md., that the numbers showed an economy that was ‘getting stronger by the day.’ Mr. Obama mentioned that Census Bureau hiring accounted for most of the new jobs, but he added that the nation had added jobs for each of the last five months. ‘These numbers do mean that we are moving in the right direction,’ he said. ‘There are going to be ups and downs.’ In fact, the May figures suggested a job market wheezing after months of more vigorous growth.”

It took too long, but the Washington Post is calling for transparency on the Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff job offers:”Is President Obama comfortable with the actions of White House officials in dangling federal jobs as political inducements? An episode involving former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D) is more troubling than the previously disclosed incident involving Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.). . .  White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that Mr. Obama did not know about the Romanoff overtures in advance, and Mr. Gibbs blew off questions about his reaction by saying he hadn’t discussed the matter with the president. That’s not sufficient. The American people deserve to hear directly from the president about whether he is happy with this behavior.”

It took too long, but an advocate for Israel emerges in the administration: “Biden’s instinctive embrace of Israel at a moment it was under fire from the international community was the most vivid example yet of Biden’s emergence as the West Wing’s most prominent public supporter of the Jewish state. ” Too bad Obama isn’t and he ignores most of what Biden says.

It took too long, but foreign-policy gurus across the political spectrum are complaining that “when it comes to the question of democracy in the Muslim world, many see a U.S. administration more keen to reinforce status quo support for authoritarian regimes than to push for meaningful political reform.”

It took too long, but cranky Republicans are admitting that, “after this Obama nightmare, the Bush brand is looking pretty good.” (The occasion was a New York GOP convention at which Jeb Bush stole the show.)

It took too long, but there is a is a brilliant novel of teenage angst other than (and smarter than) Catcher in the Rye. (The most insightful review is, of course, in this month’s COMMENTARY.)

And with plenty of time to spare, Mitch Daniels emerges as a potential 2012 contender: “He is at once so visible and so self-effacing that he seems to have sunk into a black hole of personal magnetism and come out the other side, where the very lack of charisma becomes charismatic. He is the un-Obama. Republicans — notably some wealthy and powerful ones who have decided he should be president​ — seem to like that.”

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Obama to Young People: Drop Dead

Obama was the dream candidate for urban, young voters. He was cool. He was hip. He was sophisticated. He sneered at Middle America. All the hope-and-change stuff, the oceans rising (or parting?) made their hearts flutter. Since then he’s given them little to cheer about.

On the foreign-policy side, he’s turned out to be a cynic and indifferent to hope and change in places like Iran. On the domestic side, youth unemployment is sky high and young, healthy Americans are going to be forced to buy expensive insurance whether they like it or not (if ObamaCare goes into effect). Now he’s going after their summer jobs. The New York Times reports:

The Labor Department says it is cracking down on firms that fail to pay interns properly and expanding efforts to educate companies, colleges and students on the law regarding internships.

“If you’re a for-profit employer or you want to pursue an internship with a for-profit employer, there aren’t going to be many circumstances where you can have an internship and not be paid and still be in compliance with the law,” said Nancy J. Leppink, the acting director of the department’s wage and hour division.

This is not an insignificant matter to young people. As the report notes, “In 2008, the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 83 percent of graduating students had held internships, up from 9 percent in 1992. This means hundreds of thousands of students hold internships each year; some experts estimate that one-fourth to one-half are unpaid.” And, frankly, in tough economic times this may be the only job experience these students are going to get coming straight out of school.

Given all this, I wonder if Obama is going to get the same support from young voters in 2012. I suspect many of them will have wised up by then.

Obama was the dream candidate for urban, young voters. He was cool. He was hip. He was sophisticated. He sneered at Middle America. All the hope-and-change stuff, the oceans rising (or parting?) made their hearts flutter. Since then he’s given them little to cheer about.

On the foreign-policy side, he’s turned out to be a cynic and indifferent to hope and change in places like Iran. On the domestic side, youth unemployment is sky high and young, healthy Americans are going to be forced to buy expensive insurance whether they like it or not (if ObamaCare goes into effect). Now he’s going after their summer jobs. The New York Times reports:

The Labor Department says it is cracking down on firms that fail to pay interns properly and expanding efforts to educate companies, colleges and students on the law regarding internships.

“If you’re a for-profit employer or you want to pursue an internship with a for-profit employer, there aren’t going to be many circumstances where you can have an internship and not be paid and still be in compliance with the law,” said Nancy J. Leppink, the acting director of the department’s wage and hour division.

This is not an insignificant matter to young people. As the report notes, “In 2008, the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 83 percent of graduating students had held internships, up from 9 percent in 1992. This means hundreds of thousands of students hold internships each year; some experts estimate that one-fourth to one-half are unpaid.” And, frankly, in tough economic times this may be the only job experience these students are going to get coming straight out of school.

Given all this, I wonder if Obama is going to get the same support from young voters in 2012. I suspect many of them will have wised up by then.

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And When Is the Pivot to Jobs Coming?

As we are looking for the hidden deals and minefields left in the wake of ObamaCare, it is worth remembering that unemployment – the issue voters care most about — remains at record levels. This report explains:

Unemployment increased in 27 U.S. states in February and dropped in seven, a sign the labor market needs to pick up across more regions to spur consumer spending and sustain the economic recovery.

Mississippi showed the biggest jump in joblessness with a 0.4 percentage point rise to 11.4 percent, according to figures issued today by the Labor Department in Washington. Nationally, unemployment held at 9.7 percent in February for a second month and employers cut fewer jobs than anticipated, figures from the Labor Department showed on March 5.

Today’s report indicates broad-based hiring is yet to develop following the loss of 8.4 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. Florida, Nevada, Georgia, and North Carolina set record levels of joblessness last month.

“Until we see improvement in employment in a fair number of U.S. states, it’s not going to do a heck of a lot for the recovery,” said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto. “The worst seems to be over, but there’s a huge amount of work to be done to create jobs. It’s going to be a long, winding road.”

This, after all, was to be the focus of Obama’s term. After the Scott Brown upset, Obama again promised a pivot to jobs. But he’s never delivered. Instead, he has championed a stimulus plan that didn’t save or create millions of jobs and a health-care plan that is already sucking billions of dollars out of employers’ coffers. Will employers — with health-care costs now to swell up and tax hikes due in 2011 — really be expanding payrolls? Unlikely.

It’s not hard to see the campaigns this fall, asking why it was that Obama and the Democratic Congress were busy placing new mandates, taxes, and fines on business while the job picture was still bleak. It will be hard for incumbents to convince voters who have yet to see any benefit from Obama’s big-government liberal agenda and a good deal of pain (e.g., seniors facing Medicare cuts, small businesses looking at tax bites, unemployed workers) that what we need is more of the same.

As we are looking for the hidden deals and minefields left in the wake of ObamaCare, it is worth remembering that unemployment – the issue voters care most about — remains at record levels. This report explains:

Unemployment increased in 27 U.S. states in February and dropped in seven, a sign the labor market needs to pick up across more regions to spur consumer spending and sustain the economic recovery.

Mississippi showed the biggest jump in joblessness with a 0.4 percentage point rise to 11.4 percent, according to figures issued today by the Labor Department in Washington. Nationally, unemployment held at 9.7 percent in February for a second month and employers cut fewer jobs than anticipated, figures from the Labor Department showed on March 5.

Today’s report indicates broad-based hiring is yet to develop following the loss of 8.4 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. Florida, Nevada, Georgia, and North Carolina set record levels of joblessness last month.

“Until we see improvement in employment in a fair number of U.S. states, it’s not going to do a heck of a lot for the recovery,” said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto. “The worst seems to be over, but there’s a huge amount of work to be done to create jobs. It’s going to be a long, winding road.”

This, after all, was to be the focus of Obama’s term. After the Scott Brown upset, Obama again promised a pivot to jobs. But he’s never delivered. Instead, he has championed a stimulus plan that didn’t save or create millions of jobs and a health-care plan that is already sucking billions of dollars out of employers’ coffers. Will employers — with health-care costs now to swell up and tax hikes due in 2011 — really be expanding payrolls? Unlikely.

It’s not hard to see the campaigns this fall, asking why it was that Obama and the Democratic Congress were busy placing new mandates, taxes, and fines on business while the job picture was still bleak. It will be hard for incumbents to convince voters who have yet to see any benefit from Obama’s big-government liberal agenda and a good deal of pain (e.g., seniors facing Medicare cuts, small businesses looking at tax bites, unemployed workers) that what we need is more of the same.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Uh oh: Eliot Spitzer is back in the political ring, “acting as an unofficial adviser to New York’s current governor, the hapless David Paterson, whose campaign for re-election is basically in the toilet.” But not to worry, he’s going through an intermediary, an arrangement with which the shameless Spitzer “has had rather a lot of experience.”

Uh oh: Cliff May reviews the troubling trends in Iraq and efforts by Iran to ban candidates and manipulate the Iraqi elections. “It would be a cruel irony — not to mention a terrible defeat — if the sacrifices Americans have made were, in the end, to produce an Iraq dominated by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinijad [sic], enemies of Iraq, freedom, and democracy — enemies sworn to bringing about a ‘world without America.’ Why don’t Biden and Obama recognize that? And why are their critics not more vocal about the fact that they do not?”

Uh oh: ” Both the number of workers filing new applications for unemployment insurance and producer prices unexpectedly surged, dealing a setback to hopes the economy was showing a strong recovery.Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 31,000 to a seasonally adjusted 473,000 in the week ended Feb. 13, up from an upwardly revised 442,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said.”

Uh oh: “The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the deficit for January totaled $42.63 billion. That left the total of red ink so far this budget year at $430.69 billion, 8.8 percent higher than last year when the deficit soared to an unprecedented level of $1.42 trillion. Obama, in sending Congress a new budget plan on Feb. 1, projected that this year’s deficit would hit $1.56 trillion and would remain above $1 trillion for three consecutive years. He forecast the 2011 deficit, for the budget year that begins next Oct. 1, would total $1.27 trillion.”

Uh oh (for the Obami): A new low — only 24 percent of voters think health care is the most likely achievement for Obama.

Uh oh: Evan Bayh is going to lose his halo in the mainstream media. “Sen. Evan Bayh is throwing a wrench in the works of a signature administration initiative, expressing reservations about the plan for the government to eliminate private-sector middlemen and make student loans directly.” Translation: he’s against a government takeover of student loans.

Uh oh: Michael Bennet’s embrace of the public option and reconciliation isn’t playing well back home in Colorado: “Most Americans want Congress to start over on health care reform, but it seems Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet would rather jam it down our throats. Ignoring the message that voters sent in Massachusetts, and shedding any notion that he intends to be a moderate Democrat, Bennet is leading a pack of liberal senators who want to push through health-care reform using a process known as reconciliation. How is it possible that Sen. Bennet, yet to receive one vote from a Coloradan, has such a tin ear for what most Coloradans and Americans want?” Colorado is already rated a “toss-up” (subscription required), but recent polling had Bennet down by double digits.

Uh oh (for the Left): Politico runs a forum entitled “Liberals( progressives) are they finished?” Hard to say any major political movement is ever “finished,” but it isn’t a healthy sign when you have to ask.

Uh oh: Eliot Spitzer is back in the political ring, “acting as an unofficial adviser to New York’s current governor, the hapless David Paterson, whose campaign for re-election is basically in the toilet.” But not to worry, he’s going through an intermediary, an arrangement with which the shameless Spitzer “has had rather a lot of experience.”

Uh oh: Cliff May reviews the troubling trends in Iraq and efforts by Iran to ban candidates and manipulate the Iraqi elections. “It would be a cruel irony — not to mention a terrible defeat — if the sacrifices Americans have made were, in the end, to produce an Iraq dominated by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinijad [sic], enemies of Iraq, freedom, and democracy — enemies sworn to bringing about a ‘world without America.’ Why don’t Biden and Obama recognize that? And why are their critics not more vocal about the fact that they do not?”

Uh oh: ” Both the number of workers filing new applications for unemployment insurance and producer prices unexpectedly surged, dealing a setback to hopes the economy was showing a strong recovery.Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 31,000 to a seasonally adjusted 473,000 in the week ended Feb. 13, up from an upwardly revised 442,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said.”

Uh oh: “The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the deficit for January totaled $42.63 billion. That left the total of red ink so far this budget year at $430.69 billion, 8.8 percent higher than last year when the deficit soared to an unprecedented level of $1.42 trillion. Obama, in sending Congress a new budget plan on Feb. 1, projected that this year’s deficit would hit $1.56 trillion and would remain above $1 trillion for three consecutive years. He forecast the 2011 deficit, for the budget year that begins next Oct. 1, would total $1.27 trillion.”

Uh oh (for the Obami): A new low — only 24 percent of voters think health care is the most likely achievement for Obama.

Uh oh: Evan Bayh is going to lose his halo in the mainstream media. “Sen. Evan Bayh is throwing a wrench in the works of a signature administration initiative, expressing reservations about the plan for the government to eliminate private-sector middlemen and make student loans directly.” Translation: he’s against a government takeover of student loans.

Uh oh: Michael Bennet’s embrace of the public option and reconciliation isn’t playing well back home in Colorado: “Most Americans want Congress to start over on health care reform, but it seems Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet would rather jam it down our throats. Ignoring the message that voters sent in Massachusetts, and shedding any notion that he intends to be a moderate Democrat, Bennet is leading a pack of liberal senators who want to push through health-care reform using a process known as reconciliation. How is it possible that Sen. Bennet, yet to receive one vote from a Coloradan, has such a tin ear for what most Coloradans and Americans want?” Colorado is already rated a “toss-up” (subscription required), but recent polling had Bennet down by double digits.

Uh oh (for the Left): Politico runs a forum entitled “Liberals( progressives) are they finished?” Hard to say any major political movement is ever “finished,” but it isn’t a healthy sign when you have to ask.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

What does French President Nicolas Sarakozy really think of Obama? “Obama has been in power for a year, and he has already lost three special elections. Me, I have won two legislative elections and the EU election. What can one say I’ve lost?” And as relayed by an adviser, Sarko seems to think Obama is “a charmer, a conciliator, but I am not sure that he’s a strong leader.”

Jamie Fly reports that his Israeli cabbie similarly told him: “‘With him, everything is opposite’ of what it should be and scoffed about his Nobel Peace Prize (given that he had done nothing actually to achieve peace).”

On the jobs number: “The U.S. unemployment rate unexpectedly declined in January, but the economy continued to shed jobs and revisions painted a bleaker picture for 2009, casting doubt over the labor market’s strength.The unemployment rate, calculated using a household survey, fell to 9.7% last month from an unrevised 10% in December, the Labor Department said Friday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast the jobless rate would edge higher to 10.1%. Meantime, non-farm payrolls fell by 20,000 compared with a revised 150,000 decline in December.”

Here’s one way of looking at it: “‘Things are getting bad less rapidly,’ said Dean Baker, co-director of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. ‘We’re sort of hitting bottom, but there is no evidence of a robust turnaround.’”

And when the 1.1 million of “discouraged job seekers” return to the workforce? “Many economists expect the jobless rate to creep higher in the months ahead as workers who had given up looking for a job out of frustration return to the labor force.” Bottom line: 15 million Americans are unemployed.

What’s the matter with Harry? “Harry Reid may soon have one more Republican opponent in Nevada’s race for the U.S. Senate, and his numbers remain in troublesome territory for an incumbent. Reid, like a number of Democratic Senate incumbents, appears to be suffering from voter unhappiness over the national health care plan and the continuing bad state of the economy.”

You can’t say Illinois politics isn’t colorful: “The Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias is trailing Republican Mark Kirk in opinion polls ahead of November’s election in which Republicans are aiming to erase Democratic majorities in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. . . . Republicans are spotlighting the soured real estate portfolio at the Giannoulias family’s Broadway Bank, including loans to Michael ‘Jaws’ Giorango, a convicted prostitution ring operator. Broadway Bank was recently ordered by government regulators to raise additional capital — after Giannoulias received his share of $70 million in proceeds following his father’s death.”

What a difference a year makes: “There were seven states that Barack Obama won where his approval has slipped below 56%. Three of them are pretty darn predictable — North Carolina, Indiana, and Ohio — all of which saw extremely close races in 2008. Another three of them though are Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada which Obama won by commanding margins of anywhere from 9-15 points. . . . The seventh state Obama won where he’s under 56% is New Hampshire, which may help to explain why Paul Hodes is having so much trouble.”

Speculation is starting already as to whether Obama will dump Joe Biden in 2012.

It seems as though “activists and liberal Mideast policy groups” don’t like the idea of Rep. Mark Kirk getting to the U.S. Senate, given his pro-Israel voting record.” You can understand that these groups wouldn’t want someone who was the “driving force behind a host of legislative efforts to sanction Iran (he’s the founder of of the Iran Working Group),” a vocal critic of the UN, and an opponent of Chas Freeman.

What does French President Nicolas Sarakozy really think of Obama? “Obama has been in power for a year, and he has already lost three special elections. Me, I have won two legislative elections and the EU election. What can one say I’ve lost?” And as relayed by an adviser, Sarko seems to think Obama is “a charmer, a conciliator, but I am not sure that he’s a strong leader.”

Jamie Fly reports that his Israeli cabbie similarly told him: “‘With him, everything is opposite’ of what it should be and scoffed about his Nobel Peace Prize (given that he had done nothing actually to achieve peace).”

On the jobs number: “The U.S. unemployment rate unexpectedly declined in January, but the economy continued to shed jobs and revisions painted a bleaker picture for 2009, casting doubt over the labor market’s strength.The unemployment rate, calculated using a household survey, fell to 9.7% last month from an unrevised 10% in December, the Labor Department said Friday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast the jobless rate would edge higher to 10.1%. Meantime, non-farm payrolls fell by 20,000 compared with a revised 150,000 decline in December.”

Here’s one way of looking at it: “‘Things are getting bad less rapidly,’ said Dean Baker, co-director of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. ‘We’re sort of hitting bottom, but there is no evidence of a robust turnaround.’”

And when the 1.1 million of “discouraged job seekers” return to the workforce? “Many economists expect the jobless rate to creep higher in the months ahead as workers who had given up looking for a job out of frustration return to the labor force.” Bottom line: 15 million Americans are unemployed.

What’s the matter with Harry? “Harry Reid may soon have one more Republican opponent in Nevada’s race for the U.S. Senate, and his numbers remain in troublesome territory for an incumbent. Reid, like a number of Democratic Senate incumbents, appears to be suffering from voter unhappiness over the national health care plan and the continuing bad state of the economy.”

You can’t say Illinois politics isn’t colorful: “The Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias is trailing Republican Mark Kirk in opinion polls ahead of November’s election in which Republicans are aiming to erase Democratic majorities in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. . . . Republicans are spotlighting the soured real estate portfolio at the Giannoulias family’s Broadway Bank, including loans to Michael ‘Jaws’ Giorango, a convicted prostitution ring operator. Broadway Bank was recently ordered by government regulators to raise additional capital — after Giannoulias received his share of $70 million in proceeds following his father’s death.”

What a difference a year makes: “There were seven states that Barack Obama won where his approval has slipped below 56%. Three of them are pretty darn predictable — North Carolina, Indiana, and Ohio — all of which saw extremely close races in 2008. Another three of them though are Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada which Obama won by commanding margins of anywhere from 9-15 points. . . . The seventh state Obama won where he’s under 56% is New Hampshire, which may help to explain why Paul Hodes is having so much trouble.”

Speculation is starting already as to whether Obama will dump Joe Biden in 2012.

It seems as though “activists and liberal Mideast policy groups” don’t like the idea of Rep. Mark Kirk getting to the U.S. Senate, given his pro-Israel voting record.” You can understand that these groups wouldn’t want someone who was the “driving force behind a host of legislative efforts to sanction Iran (he’s the founder of of the Iran Working Group),” a vocal critic of the UN, and an opponent of Chas Freeman.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Harry Reid’s poll numbers in Nevada look awfully bad. His hometown paper reports: “More than half of Nevadans are unhappy with Sen. Harry Reid, according to a new poll commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. It’s the worst ‘unfavorable’ rating he’s received in the newspaper’s surveys for this year’s election, and it comes amid quiet speculation — or perhaps wishful thinking by his opponents — that it’s time for the Nevada Democrat to retire rather than lose re-election.” Isn’t he reaching Chris Dodd territory? (And that was before his “light skinned” comment about Obama.)

Wow: “The race to replace Ted Kennedy in the US Senate is looking like a toss up, with Republican Scott Brown up 48-47 on Martha Coakley. Brown is benefiting from depressed Democratic interest in the election and a huge lead among independents for his surprisingly strong standing. Those planning to vote in the special election only report having voted for Barack Obama in 2008 by a 16 point margin, in contrast to his actual 26 point victory in the state.”

Maybe voters don’t like being ignored. GOP senate candidate Scott Brown has raised a stink about the Democratic plan to jam through ObamaCare even if he wins: “‘This is a stunning admission by Paul Kirk and the Beacon Hill political machine,’ Brown said in a statement to the newspaper. ‘Paul Kirk appears to be suggesting that he, (Gov.) Deval Patrick, and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid intend to stall the election certification until the health care bill is rammed through Congress, even if that means defying the will of the people of Massachusetts.’” Well, they don’t care that 60 percent of Americans oppose a government takeover of health care so why would they care what the people of Massachusetts think?

Coakley’s friends rush to the rescue: “With Democrat Martha Coakley in trouble in the Massachusetts special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat, Democrats could lose vote No. 60 for President Obama’s health-care bill. In response, an army of lobbyists for drug companies, health insurance companies, and hospitals has teamed up to throw a high-dollar Capitol Hill fundraiser for Coakley next Tuesday night.”

Why unemployment is worse than it seems: “Had the labor force not decreased by 661,000 last month, the jobless rate would have been 10.4 percent. . . About 1.7 million Americans opted out of the workforce from July through December, representing a 1.1 percent drop that marks the biggest six-month decrease since 1961, the Labor Department report showed. The share of the population in the labor force last month fell to the lowest level in 24 years.” And when those workers come back to the workforce, expect the unemployment rate to jump again.

The Washington Post runs an advice column for forlorn Democrats: half say to head for the center, the other to go all in for the leftist agenda. Karl Rove seems to have it right: “It would be hard to come up with less popular causes than they’ve already embraced. So find something that might redirect voter anger, especially if Republicans cooperate by failing to offer a positive alternative. Good luck: You made the mess.”

Maybe it would help if Obama stopped doing this: “U.S. President Barack Obama, in his weekly radio address Saturday, said once he signs new health care legislation into law, Americans can expect dozens of benefits and protections to be quickly put in place.” First of all, Americans hate the plan. And second, in the senate version (which is likely to be closest to the final bill) all we get for the first few years is some tax hikes.

James Carafano: “The Left mustered every idiotic argument they could think of against reinforcing our efforts in Afghanistan. Hey, they argued “the Taliban are in Afghanistan, not al-Qaeda.” We now know al-Qaeda was behind the assassination bombing of the CIA agents in Afghanistan. The Taliban and al-Qaeda are tied at the hip….you can’t destroy the latter without defeating the former. Its time to stop turning our back on the long war, and pull together as Americans, Left and Right, and as we did in WWII…win this thing.”

Harry Reid’s poll numbers in Nevada look awfully bad. His hometown paper reports: “More than half of Nevadans are unhappy with Sen. Harry Reid, according to a new poll commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. It’s the worst ‘unfavorable’ rating he’s received in the newspaper’s surveys for this year’s election, and it comes amid quiet speculation — or perhaps wishful thinking by his opponents — that it’s time for the Nevada Democrat to retire rather than lose re-election.” Isn’t he reaching Chris Dodd territory? (And that was before his “light skinned” comment about Obama.)

Wow: “The race to replace Ted Kennedy in the US Senate is looking like a toss up, with Republican Scott Brown up 48-47 on Martha Coakley. Brown is benefiting from depressed Democratic interest in the election and a huge lead among independents for his surprisingly strong standing. Those planning to vote in the special election only report having voted for Barack Obama in 2008 by a 16 point margin, in contrast to his actual 26 point victory in the state.”

Maybe voters don’t like being ignored. GOP senate candidate Scott Brown has raised a stink about the Democratic plan to jam through ObamaCare even if he wins: “‘This is a stunning admission by Paul Kirk and the Beacon Hill political machine,’ Brown said in a statement to the newspaper. ‘Paul Kirk appears to be suggesting that he, (Gov.) Deval Patrick, and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid intend to stall the election certification until the health care bill is rammed through Congress, even if that means defying the will of the people of Massachusetts.’” Well, they don’t care that 60 percent of Americans oppose a government takeover of health care so why would they care what the people of Massachusetts think?

Coakley’s friends rush to the rescue: “With Democrat Martha Coakley in trouble in the Massachusetts special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat, Democrats could lose vote No. 60 for President Obama’s health-care bill. In response, an army of lobbyists for drug companies, health insurance companies, and hospitals has teamed up to throw a high-dollar Capitol Hill fundraiser for Coakley next Tuesday night.”

Why unemployment is worse than it seems: “Had the labor force not decreased by 661,000 last month, the jobless rate would have been 10.4 percent. . . About 1.7 million Americans opted out of the workforce from July through December, representing a 1.1 percent drop that marks the biggest six-month decrease since 1961, the Labor Department report showed. The share of the population in the labor force last month fell to the lowest level in 24 years.” And when those workers come back to the workforce, expect the unemployment rate to jump again.

The Washington Post runs an advice column for forlorn Democrats: half say to head for the center, the other to go all in for the leftist agenda. Karl Rove seems to have it right: “It would be hard to come up with less popular causes than they’ve already embraced. So find something that might redirect voter anger, especially if Republicans cooperate by failing to offer a positive alternative. Good luck: You made the mess.”

Maybe it would help if Obama stopped doing this: “U.S. President Barack Obama, in his weekly radio address Saturday, said once he signs new health care legislation into law, Americans can expect dozens of benefits and protections to be quickly put in place.” First of all, Americans hate the plan. And second, in the senate version (which is likely to be closest to the final bill) all we get for the first few years is some tax hikes.

James Carafano: “The Left mustered every idiotic argument they could think of against reinforcing our efforts in Afghanistan. Hey, they argued “the Taliban are in Afghanistan, not al-Qaeda.” We now know al-Qaeda was behind the assassination bombing of the CIA agents in Afghanistan. The Taliban and al-Qaeda are tied at the hip….you can’t destroy the latter without defeating the former. Its time to stop turning our back on the long war, and pull together as Americans, Left and Right, and as we did in WWII…win this thing.”

Read Less

Still Shedding Jobs

The job news is not good — still :

U.S. job losses resumed in December after revisions showed payrolls rose in November for the first time in nearly two years, the Labor Department estimated Friday. Nonfarm payrolls fell by a seasonally adjusted 85,000 in December following a revised 4,000 gain in November. During 2009, payrolls fell by 4.2 million. Since the recession began two years ago, payrolls have fallen by 7.3 million. Next month, the government will incorporate annual benchmark revisions that will likely push the total job loss to more than 8 million. The official unemployment rate remained at 10% in December. Details of the report were weak, with few signs of further improvement in labor conditions. One bright spot: temporary help jobs rose by 46,500, a leading indicator of permanent employment.

However, fewer industries were hiring in December than in October, and the number of discouraged workers rose by 287,000 to 929,000. The employment participation rate fell to 64.6% from 64.9%. Total hours worked in the economy were unchanged. The average workweek was unchanged at 33.2 hours.

The prospect of long-term, sky-high unemployment is a daunting one for Americans, as well as for those in office. As the White House persists in its dogged pursuit of ObamaCare, looks forward to the day when it can raise taxes by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, and insists that climate-change legislation is still on the table, the public may come to see the Obami as increasingly out to lunch. The insistence by the president on pursuing anti-growth and anti-jobs policies while sprinkling in small-beans jobs initiatives (another one is set to be announced today on “clean technology manufacturing jobs”) suggests that he really doesn’t grasp the fact that job producers in the private sector need more than dog-and-pony shows to get them to jump-start their hiring. The administration might start with “doing no harm” — committing to raising no taxes on any American until the economy recovers. Now that would be a change we could believe in.

The job news is not good — still :

U.S. job losses resumed in December after revisions showed payrolls rose in November for the first time in nearly two years, the Labor Department estimated Friday. Nonfarm payrolls fell by a seasonally adjusted 85,000 in December following a revised 4,000 gain in November. During 2009, payrolls fell by 4.2 million. Since the recession began two years ago, payrolls have fallen by 7.3 million. Next month, the government will incorporate annual benchmark revisions that will likely push the total job loss to more than 8 million. The official unemployment rate remained at 10% in December. Details of the report were weak, with few signs of further improvement in labor conditions. One bright spot: temporary help jobs rose by 46,500, a leading indicator of permanent employment.

However, fewer industries were hiring in December than in October, and the number of discouraged workers rose by 287,000 to 929,000. The employment participation rate fell to 64.6% from 64.9%. Total hours worked in the economy were unchanged. The average workweek was unchanged at 33.2 hours.

The prospect of long-term, sky-high unemployment is a daunting one for Americans, as well as for those in office. As the White House persists in its dogged pursuit of ObamaCare, looks forward to the day when it can raise taxes by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, and insists that climate-change legislation is still on the table, the public may come to see the Obami as increasingly out to lunch. The insistence by the president on pursuing anti-growth and anti-jobs policies while sprinkling in small-beans jobs initiatives (another one is set to be announced today on “clean technology manufacturing jobs”) suggests that he really doesn’t grasp the fact that job producers in the private sector need more than dog-and-pony shows to get them to jump-start their hiring. The administration might start with “doing no harm” — committing to raising no taxes on any American until the economy recovers. Now that would be a change we could believe in.

Read Less




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