Categories

Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

Recently, President Obama’s sympathizers have tried making the case that he’s as consequential as Ronald Reagan. If they define consequential as doing historic things that are disastrous, then President Obama has been consequential.

Obamacare is an unmitigated disaster. Premiums are sharply higher. Deductibles have exploded. Choices are fewer. Networks are limited. We’re forced into buying policies that cover things that we don’t need. We couldn’t keep our doctors even though we were promised that we could.

Despite that, President Obama insists that he’s protected the middle class:

After having a friendly chat on the tarmac at LaCrosse Regional Airport with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, President Obama made fun of the GOP field jockeying to succeed him and ripped into Walker’s actions as governor.

“You all have enough for an actual Hunger Games,” Obama said about the large Republican presidential field. “That is an interesting bunch,” he quipped before explaining why trickle-down economics doesn’t work.

He said that many of the contenders are proposing ideas that they say would benefit the middle class. “Tammy, Ron, me — we were talking about the middle class before it was cool,” he said referring to Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Ron Kind, whose district encompasses LaCrosse, who were in the audience at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse auditorium. “We were talking about it before the polls” said politicians “should be talking about it,” he added.

Mr. President, talking about the middle class isn’t the same as improving middle class lives. President Reagan created more high-paying union jobs than you’ve created jobs. That’s before talking about how many companies shifted from full-time employees to “29ers.” Mr. President, is it a triumph that companies shifted from full-time jobs to part-time jobs?

That’s what Obamacare did. It also created “49ers.” Let’s review. 29ers are employees whose hours were cut from 40 hours to 29 hours to avoid having to provide health insurance to the. 49ers are companies that’ve chosen to not expand past 49 employees so they don’t have to comply with the employer mandate.

In September, 1983, the US economy created 1,100,000 good-paying full-time jobs. Thanks to President Reagan’s policies, we had 6 straight quarters of economic growth of more than 5%. Internationally, the United States vanquished the Evil Empire, aka the Soviet Union. President Obama resurrected it. Israel knew it could count the United States as a steadfast ally. President Obama couldn’t push Israel to the side quickly enough.

Thanks to President Obama’s policies of non-intervention, the global terrorist network is expanding rapidly. President Reagan’s policies of militarism checked Soviet expansionist policies.

We’ll be cleaning up President Obama’s messes for years. By comparison, President Reagan’s economic policies ushered in a quarter century of unprecedented economic growth.

Gov. Dayton is proudly proclaiming that Minnesota is the best state to do business in. He’s basing that propaganda on CNBC’s latest ranking. After looking at how they arrived at the categories that they ranked states on, it’s easy to see how CNBC arrived at their ridiculous ratings. First, it’s important to know this about the rating system:

For example, if more states tout their low business costs, the “Cost of Doing Business” category carries greater weight. That way, our study ranks the states based on the criteria they use to sell themselves.

According to CNBC’s report, workforce is the most important category, followed by cost of doing business and infrastructure, economy, quality of life, technology & innovation, education, business friendliness, cost of living and, finally, access to capital.

Minnesota ranked 13th in workforce, 35th in cost of doing business, 9th in infrastructure, 5th in economy, 3rd in quality of life, 6th in technology and innovation, 2nd in education, 23rd in business friendliness, 32nd in cost of living and 23rd in access to capital.

CNBC’s ratings only tell us what the states think of themselves. They don’t tell us what businesses think of the state. The fact that more businesses are leaving Minnesota than are moving to Minnesota is the best indicator of what businesses think.

That isn’t to say that Minnesota is getting everything wrong. There are some things that we can build off of. It’s just that there’s a handful of important things that we’d better correct if we want to be the best. Lowering the cost of doing business is essential. That’s only possible by streamlining government, especially regulations. Cutting special deals with a couple companies to entice them here, then shafting businesses that are already here, which the Dayton administration has done, needs to change, too.

UPDATE: King Banaian’s article for the Center for the American Experiment highlights similar points. This point is especially noteworthy:

If you’re a state that isn’t particularly business friendly, you don’t talk about that in your marketing materials. You emphasize other things. You puff your materials with discussion of quality of life and how hardworking your workers are and ignore the areas where your policies might make business a little harder to conduct. And CNBC will go right along and take weight off those things, if the rest of the states are doing the same thing.

I can’t emphasize enough the fact that CNBC’s article isn’t a serious economic statement. It’s a statement based off of the states’ PR statements.

Hillary is getting desperate in rebuilding the Obama coalition. There’s no policy too stupid that Hillary won’t support if she thinks it’ll win a handful of votes. Check this out:

Speaking by telephone, Clinton told the more than 1,300 fast food workers gathered at a convention in Detroit that every worker deserves a fair wage and the right to unionize. “I want to be your champion. I want to fight with you every day,” said Clinton, who kicked off her presidential campaign in April saying she wants to be the champion for “everyday Americans.”

The call was another step to the left for Clinton, as she vies for the Democratic nod with progressive candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. She told the assembled crowd that they should continue building the Fight for 15 movement, which is pressing employers to raise workers’ pay.

Bill Clinton, John Kasich and Newt Gingrich put policies in place that created a vibrant economy, something that President Obama hasn’t done. While Wall Street got rich during the Obama administration, Main Street workers got left behind. By pushing for a doubling of the minimum wage, Hillary is signaling that she’ll fight for the same economic principles that’ve led to this stagnant economy.

Paying fast food workers $15/hr. won’t improve the economy. It’ll cause fast food operations to trim the number of employees. Unemployment rates for young people and minorities will go higher.

Clinton’s support for the movement also comes at a time when a growing number of states and cities are raising their minimum wage. Los Angeles is among the latest locales to boost minimum pay to $15 an hour. Just how high a wage hike Clinton supports, however, remains a mystery. The candidate has not provided a figure yet.

Since Hillary explicitly supported the Fight for Fifteen movement, that means Hillary supports a $15/hr. minimum wage. If Hillary wants to explain why she isn’t supporting an increase to $15/hr., let her. That’ll just expose her as a political opportunist to the Fight for Fifteen people. It’ll say that she isn’t one of them like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders are.

Frankly, I’d love seeing people attack Hillary as a parasite feasting off of corporate largess while pretending she’s fighting for “everyday Americans.”

Technorati: , , , , , , , , ,

Sen. Franken’s solution to high home heating prices isn’t a serious proposal:

The Democratic senator’s measure would put in place a coordinated response to growing coal supply emergencies that affect power plants across the country, including in Minnesota. “In Minnesota, we know that our utilities need dependable fuel supplies so they can provide heat to homes and businesses, and prevent rising energy costs for consumers,” Franken said.

The proposed Severe Fuel Supply Emergency Response Act of 2015 would direct the Secretary of Energy to lead the response to coal fuel supply emergencies by:

  1. Promptly investigating the cause of the fuel shortage and informing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Surface Transportation Board.
  2. Convening a meeting with stakeholders involved.
  3. Making written publicly available recommendations for actions that would help alleviate the problems.

If Sen. Franken won’t propose a serious solution that doesn’t create a different crisis, he shouldn’t be a U.S. senator. This isn’t a serious proposal because Sen. Franken is still owned by environmental activists. These environmental activists, along with the Putin administration, don’t want the Sandpiper Pipeline project built. Before progressives start questioning the logic, here’s why the Pipeline is at the heart of the coal shortage problem. Because the Sandpiper Pipeline hasn’t been built, oil from the Bakken is getting shipped via rail to refineries in Superior, WI, and elsewhere. The last I heard there were either 6 or 7 trains dedicated to transporting oil from the Bakken to the refineries in Superior.

That’s led to a railcar shortage that’s affecting the shipping of iron to steel mills in the Rust Belt, the shipping of agricultural products to the Twin Cities in addition to the shipping of home heating products to anywhere in Minnesota.

Sen. Franken knows this. He doesn’t care about creating rail space to transport agricultural products to market or taconite to steel mills. Sen. Franken’s highest priority is to appease the environmental activists. Instead of appeasing theses special interests, he should attempt to represent his constituents. I know that’s a revolutionary concept with Democrats but it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , ,

I’ll cut straight to the chase. Nan Madden’s op-ed in the St. Cloud Times is disgustingly dishonest. Check this lie out:

Large tax cuts passed at the end of the 1990s and 2000s proved to be unsustainable, and were followed by deep cuts in higher education, affordable child care and other services.

That’s total BS. First, the “large tax cuts passed at the end of the 1990s and 2000s” weren’t unsustainable. What happened is that the US economy took a major, lengthy hit because of 9-11, then the first banking crisis. If not for that major recession, the Jesse Checks would’ve been totally sustainable. Madden’s disgust with tax cuts is based more on misinformation and misguided ideology than by facts.

Her ideology is hard left. First, Madden is the director of the Minnesota Budget Project. MBP is part of an organization called Invest in Minnesota, an organization that “was founded by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition(JRLC) and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN).”

According to IIM’s website, “Invest in Minnesota is united around two core principles:

  1. Revenue-raising must be a significant part of the solution to resolving the state’s budget deficit.
  2. The overall package of fair revenue-raising must make the tax system fairer.

It isn’t difficult to figure out why The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and the Minnesota Budget Project hates tax cuts of any kind. Check out MCN’s agenda page:

I’d also argue that the tax cuts were large. Here’s some details on the Jesse Checks program:

“In late summer, I get to stand here and say, the checks are in the mail.”

Ventura pushed for returning surplus money in the form of a sales tax rebate, which some Minnesotans have come to call “Jesse checks.” This year, the average check is $512 for a married couple or head of household, and $232 for a single filer. State officials say all eligible taxpayers should receive their checks by Labor Day. But Ventura cautions that this may be the last year of rebate checks, since the state has cut taxes and the economy has slowed. “We are not bringing in the money that we used to bring in prior to my administration, and in light of that, and the economy, there may not be a fourth,” says Ventura.

Nan Madden is the type of person that thinks the government and the NPOs they support should get first dibs on the money Minnesotans earn. She thinks that because she can’t envision a world where NPOs don’t get first dibs on the taxpayers’ money.

Minnesota Budget Project, like Invest in Minnesota, pushed hard to pass a major minimum wage increase that includes cost of living adjustment. They’re currently pushing for a law that would require companies to pay for sick leave for their employees. It isn’t surprising that businesses have left Minnesota.

For nearly two decades, the Minnesota Budget Project has analyzed state tax and budget choices, and called for policies that propel Minnesota toward a future where all of us have access to opportunity and economic well-being.

That’s similar to the truth but it isn’t complete. Here’s the whole truth about the Minnesota Budget Project. The Minnesota Budget Project supports economic policies that support intrusive, ever-growing government. If that means intruding on businesses’ decisions for ‘the greater good’, they’re fine with that.

They aren’t a pro-growth organization any more than the Obama administration is a pro-growth administration.

If anything is clear, it’s that Hillary Clinton’s policies can be purchased. Russia wants to buy American uranium. Not a problem. Hire Bill to give a speech and I’ll approve the purchase. The Saudis wanted Hillary to ignore their treatment of women. Not a problem. Contribute $25,000,000 to the Clinton Foundation and I’ll develop a blind spot. Hillary thinks that the United States is waging a war on women because taxpayers won’t pay for birth control pills they think are abortifacients. Hillary doesn’t think that the Saudis are waging a war on women even though they treat women like property and allow genital mutilation.

It’s amazing the types of twisted thoughts a deceitful person can pretzel themselves into if they’re desperate to please everyone all the time. Hillary desperately wants to keep the Democratic field all to herself. She desperately wants to keep Elizabeth Warren on the sidelines. To quote Ron Fournier, “If Elizabeth Warren called for full Communism, Clinton would be at the barricades the next day.” Hillary desperately wants to convince people that she’s listening to them. She isn’t:

Hillary has been a presidential candidate for weeks. (Some might think it’s years.) She still hasn’t said how she’d grow the economy for the middle class. All she’s said is that she wants to be “a champion for everyday people.”

It’s impossible to be “a champion for everyday people” when you’re putting your policies up for sale to the highest bidder. It’s impossible to be that champion if your family’s foundation is constantly accepting multimillion dollar contributions from multinational corporations, international businessmen and foreign countries with terrible human rights records. Champions for everyday people should fight for small businesses and reduced regulations. Hillary the Champion of Everyday People has fought her entire political career for overregulation of small businesses and higher taxes on entrepreneurs.

She’s done that because she’s a wholly owned subsidiary of major multinational corporations. When they contribute to the Clinton Foundation, she dances to their tune. BTW, shouldn’t Elizabeth Warren, who’s always talking about how the game is rigged against everyday people, be upset about Hillary’s betrayal of everyday people? Shouldn’t Hillary’s sellout be enough provocation to get Sen. Warren into the race? Isn’t it possible that she isn’t interested because Sen. Warren isn’t worried about the game being rigged?

You can’t be for everyday people when your highest priority is pandering to multinational corporations and foreign countries with terrible human rights records. That’s what bought-and-paid-for corporatists do.

The question before the American people is whether they’ll settle for the political equivalent of a used car salesman or whether they’ll demand a fresh face with new ideas.

It isn’t surprising that AFSCME is singing Gov. Dayton’s praises. It’s as surprising as finding out that the Clinton Foundation isn’t a charity.

Facing a deep natural recession and a $6 billion budget deficit, Minnesotans voted in progressive Gov. Mark Dayton, who ran on a tax-the-rich platform that included investment in people and infrastructure.

Dayton pushed a sharp increase on taxes for the top 2 percent to pay for his plan. And soon he and legislators passed laws that expanded unionization, froze college tuition, increased the minimum wage, required equal pay for women, legalized same-sex marriage, eased voter restrictions, boosted primary education spending and established all-day kindergarten.

AFSCME is right. Minnesota’s economy took right off after they legalized same-sex marriage and required equal pay for women. It’s established fact that entrepreneurs insisted that they wouldn’t hire another worker until government implemented those policies.

Legalizing same-sex marriage and requiring equal pay for women had as much to do with Minnesota’s economic growth as raising taxes on small businesses.

In Minnesota, Dayton turned that $6 billion budget deficit into a more than $2 billion surplus in just one term. Minnesota added 172,000 jobs and its 3.6 percent unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country.

Let’s compare that with this information:

Since February 2011, Wisconsin’s employable population has grown by about 100,000 people, but the number of people employed increased by about 135,000. That means employment outpaced population growth significantly.

But how does it compare with national employment growth? One important measure is the percentage of the employable population that is actually employed, what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls the employment-population ratio. The U.S. employment-population ratio has grown 1.5% since Mr. Walker took charge. Yet Wisconsin’s employment-population ratio has jumped 2.5%—significantly more than the national improvement rate. Wisconsin is also gaining ground against other states. In February 2011 Wisconsin ranked 12th in employment-population ratio. It now ranks ninth.

First, creating 172,000 jobs vs. creating 135,000 jobs is good news for the additional 37,000 people. Still, that isn’t a huge difference. Furthermore, Wisconsin’s LFPR is impressive:

Wisconsin’s current 68.4% labor-force participation rate is particularly noteworthy because it represents an uptick over the past year from a low of 68.1%. Nationally, the average labor-force participation rate has declined to lows last seen during the Carter administration.

The national LFPR is currently 62.7%. If that was the same as it was when President Obama was inaugurated, the national unemployment rate would be over 9%.

Wisconsin’s economy is creating jobs while cutting deeply into Wisconsin’s long-term unemployment rate. Minnesota should be that lucky.

Democrats have tried criticizing Scott Walker’s economic policies as a way to argue he’s unqualified to be president. This WSJ op-ed offers some statistics that prove Scott Walker’s more than qualified:

Since February 2011, Wisconsin’s employable population has grown by about 100,000 people, but the number of people employed increased by about 135,000. That means employment outpaced population growth significantly.

But how does it compare with national employment growth? One important measure is the percentage of the employable population that is actually employed, what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls the employment-population ratio. The U.S. employment-population ratio has grown 1.5% since Mr. Walker took charge. Yet Wisconsin’s employment-population ratio has jumped 2.5%—significantly more than the national improvement rate. Wisconsin is also gaining ground against other states. In February 2011 Wisconsin ranked 12th in employment-population ratio. It now ranks ninth.

In other words, it’s pretty obvious that Gov. Walker’s policies have Wisconsin heading in the right direction. Those aren’t the only statistics that show his policies are working. Here’s more:

Wisconsin’s current 68.4% labor-force participation rate is particularly noteworthy because it represents an uptick over the past year from a low of 68.1%. Nationally, the average labor-force participation rate has declined to lows last seen during the Carter administration.

The national workforce participation rate is significantly worse:

Since February 2011, the national labor-force participation rate has dropped to 62.7%, from 64.2%.

The national unemployment rate has dropped because people quit looking for work. If the current LFPR was the same as it was when President Obama took office, unemployment would be 9%. Conversely, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has dropped because Gov. Walker’s policies are eating into long-term unemployment.

Another thing that has to be factored into this equation is the fact that Act 10 has shrunk school districts’ expenses to the point that they’re hiring additional teachers and giving other teachers raises. That means Wisconsin is feeling the recovery. That isn’t happening nationally.

You’ll want to read Scott Rasmussen’s article if you want to what’s driving the 2016 election. I’ll highlight here a couple things that Mr. Rasmussen things are important:

It’s all about personal finances—Some believe it’s about the economy, which is a close substitute. But what really matters is how people feel about their own personal finances. If people are feeling much better about their own finances in a year, that would be good news for the Democratic nominee. If things stay the same or get worse, it’s bad news for the president’s party.

The White House has regurgitated their chanting points on the economy whenever there’s a monthly jobs report or a quarterly GDP report. Their economic team could probably recited it in their sleep. That means nothing to voters.

Because the Obama administration’s policies help big corporations, people working for big corporations have done well, especially with their stock market investments. They weren’t hurt by excessive regulations like small businesses have been hurt.

Small businesses have gotten hit with tons of additional costs through regulations. Because much of their would-be profits have gotten eaten by compliance costs, they haven’t been able to expand their businesses or give employees raises.

The Big Blue Wall is a Myth—Democrats argue that all they have to do is win states that consistently voted for their party since 1992 and they just about have the Electoral College locked up. The problem with this theory is that it’s the result of the Republicans winning a majority of the popular vote only once in the past six elections. If a Republican does better in the popular vote, he or she will win some of those states Democrats think they have locked up.

I recently sat down with the red state-blue state map for 2012. Democrats, we’re told, have 242 electoral votes in their column. Republicans have 199 electoral votes in their column. It’s likely that Florida will flip back into the red column. That’s 29 EVs. I can’t picture Hillary doing well in blue collar Ohio. If that’s flipped into the red column, that’s another 18 EVs. Those states’ results suddenly put the race 246 Republicans, 242 Democrats. Colorado will likely flip for the Republicans, too. That’s another 9 EVs, putting the GOP ticket at 255 EVs. Winning Iowa’s 6 EVs and Wisconsin’s 12 EVs puts Republicans at 273. That’s before talking about Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada and New Hampshire.

It’s likely that Hillary will run a ‘War on Women’ campaign. The question isn’t whether that will be Hillary’s strategy. The question is whether she’s a terrible candidate who’ll be seen as manipulative and contrived. Thus far, Hillary hasn’t shown that she’s got the political talent required to pull that off. I think that the thing that other pundits have called rust is really Hillary’s lack of talent. If her last name was Miller, I don’t think the DC punditry would call her a top tier talent.

According to the St. Cloud Downtown Council’s latest newsletter, the lofts that I highlighted in this post are a “game changer.” Here’s what the newsletter said:

We’re hoping that this proposed loft-style market rate condominium will soon be built on the corner of 523 W. St. Germain St.

Today, Downtown is fast becoming the economic, cultural and social center of a dynamic region. Additional housing assures round-the-clock activity and the businesses to support it. According to the latest studies, the trend is going back to “downtown living” because it is more sustainable and simply more enjoyable. St. Cloud’s size, location, and history make it an ideal community to capitalize on these new trends and help pave the way for the future of this city.

We are in a rare position to re-brand our self and capitalize on these emerging trends. The timing is now and together we can continue to create a community that people will be drawn to, not only to visit, but to live. Thank you to all that have been involved in this project along the way for your vision, assistance and support.

The DTC has their fingers crossed; this is a game changer!

That’s some interesting spin. Talking about sustainability in terms of economic development sets off tons of red flags. Economic development and the environmental movement don’t fit together. Further, what studies show downtown St. Cloud turning into “the economic, cultural and social center of a dynamic region”?

If these studies are legitimate, which I’d doubt, why should I accept as fact that these condominiums are the key to revitalizing downtown St. Cloud? If these condominiums are the key to rebranding downtown St. Cloud, what’s the DTC’s Plan B if this doesn’t work?

Better yet, is revitalization of downtown St. Cloud a higher priority than keeping stores from leaving? That’s already happening but we don’t have an answer for why it’s happening. Lots of projects have been tried in downtown St. Cloud over the last 5 years. Most have failed. The ones that haven’t succeeded failed because they tried turning St. Cloud into something it isn’t or because they were totally out of character with St. Cloud.

The condo projects that’ve worked were built in neighborhood settings, not in downtown St. Cloud. Perhaps the Downtown Council should scrap their studies and study that model before supporting this project. (I suspect most of the studies the DTC are more wishful thinking than scholarly studies.)

Technorati: , , , ,