Recent Posts From Jason Pye
Yesterday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released jobs number from the month of April, which found that the economy created 165,000 jobs — slightly more than the 150,000 jobs the economy needs to produce to keep up with population growth.
Employment rose by 165,000 jobs in April, according to the monthly economic report released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And unemployment dropped slightly from 7.6 to 7.5 percent—a minimal change, but one marking a steady, .4 percent drop since January. It’s the lowest unemployment rate in four years.
Employment increases were seen in professional and business services, food services and drinking places, retail trade and health care, according to the report.
The Labor Department also announced revised and more positive figures for February and March: Employment for February was revised from 268,000 to 332,000 jobs gained and for March from 88,000 to 138,000 jobs gained.
There’s definitely some good news there after years of lagging economic growth. But there are still some concerns about another economic slowdown. But it should be noted that the U-6 unemployment rate, which many call the true measure of the jobs picture, inched up to 13.9% from 13.8%. Reuters noted that the “details of the report remained consistent with a slowdown in economic activity.”
Earlier this week, Vice President Joe Biden pleaded with law enforcement officials to help the Obama Administration pass the Assault Weapons Ban, a measure that failed along with other gunn control measures last month in the Senate. This is apparantely a part of a new push for gun control measures that will be led by Biden, something that hasn’t discussed with President Obama:
Biden told a group of law enforcement officials Thursday that he is planning even more travel, with trips around the country to stump for a renewed push on expanded background checks and gun-trafficking laws that failed to pass the Senate last month.
But Biden volunteered that he “hasn’t really discussed” his plans with President Barack Obama and plans to lead the gun control charge on his own, according to two law enforcement officials who attended the meeting. The 90-minute meeting in Biden’s office was an attempt to move forward after the failed effort on background checks.
“He was talking like he was going to be leading it,” a person who was at the meeting said. “He didn’t mention any other senators in terms of leading the charge.”
Biden is going to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016. If he succeeds at passing gun control measures, Biden will have boosting himself on an issue that’s important to the Leftist base. But unless dynamics change in the Senate, the push for tighter gun control measures will ultimately fail — and it should fail.
Over the last few weeks, Democrats have become increasingly concerned that ObamaCare is driving up health insuance premiums in their states. One of the several promises (they’ve since become broken promises) that the Obama Administration made about the law was that it would keep insurance premiums down, making coverage more affordable. That just hasn’t happened.
Rochester, New York-based WHEC covered the anticipated 10% rise in premiums for the Empire States insured in 2014. “Some healthcare experts are warning that premiums could go up by more than 10% on January 1st when Obamacare kicks in across the country,” said WHEC’s Ray Levato. “This is on top of the annual increases we’ve seen in insurance premiums. It’s going to mean less money in your paycheck. Less money for groceries. Less for gas. Less for your family.”
Among the people they talked to for the story was Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who talked about the need for state regulators to “protect families.”
“Our Insurance Department is empowered to protect families and we’re going to watch them like a hawk to make sure they do,” he said. “Because if they don’t, these rates could go through the roof. It’s in part because of Obamacare but health care costs have been going up by double digits for years and years and years. The good news is in this bill there’s a way to stop it.”
Rep. Paul Ryan’s big government leanings are shining through once again. The House Budget Committee Chairman and former Republican Vice Presidential nominee has endorsed the “concept” of the online sales tax, though he doesn’t specifically like Marketplace Fairness Act, which is the Senate’s version of the scheme:
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) supports the principle that online retailers should have to pay state sales taxes.
In an emailed statement to The Hill, Ryan clarified that he does not support the Senate’s legislation on the issue.
“It’s got to be done the right way. I think the legitimate concern is can it be used to do other forms of taxation or retroactive taxation? You have got to make sure it doesn’t do that. I don’t think the Senate bill is written in a tight enough way to do that,” Ryan said.
He added that it’s unfair for a local brick-and-mortar retailer to have to collect sales taxes when online competitors are exempt.
More than three years after it was signed into law, ObamaCare remains unpoplar with Americans, according to the latest tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“Overall, the public remains as divided as ever when it comes to their overall evaluations of the health law,” stated the Kaiser Family Foundation, which does a monthly tracking poll of ObamaCare. “This month, 35 percent report a favorable view, 40 percent an unfavorable view, and a full 24 percent report they have no opinion on the law, continuing a recent trend of particularly high shares not offering an opinion.”
While it’s still vigorously defended by the Obama Administration, the poll notes that only 57% of Democrats have a favorable view of the law, which is low, while 67% of Republicans have an unfavorable view.
The poll also shows that a majority of Americans support efforts to alter or prevent ObamaCare. “In terms of the law’s political future, just over half of Americans (53 percent) continue to say that they approve of efforts by opponents to change or stop the law ‘so it has less impact on taxpayers, employers, and health care providers,’” noted the Kaiser Family Foundation. “One in three (including more than half of Democrats) believe that the law’s opponents should accept that it is the law of the land and stop trying to block its implementation, down somewhat from January (33 percent now compared to 40 percent at the start of the year).”
Interestingly, the poll found that some 40% of Americans don’t even know that ObamaCare is still law and still being implemented by the administration.
President Barack Obama has frequently claimed that he has no lobbyists working in his administration. But that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. In fact, the Obama Administration is filled with lobbyists. And with the appointment of Tom Wheeler to head the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees the communications and technology industries, it’s about to get another one.
Over at Reason, Peter Suderman explains that Wheeler, who will replace outgoing FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, was a top bundler for both of Obama’s presidential campaigns and he appears to have interest in seeing the role of the FCC expanded, which isn’t a good sign:
Earlier this week, we covered a lawsuit filed by Matt Sissel, an Iraq War veteran who is challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act — or ObamaCare, as it has come to be known. Sissel contends that because the law, which raises taxes on businesses and individuals, didn’t originate in the House as constitutionally required, it should be struck down.
Sissel’s case, however, isn’t the only challenge to ObamaCare currently working its way through the court system. A group of small business owners from states that have declined to setup insurance exchanges filed a lawsuit yesterday that seeks to prevent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from imposing fines against them:
The individual plaintiffs in the new lawsuit, from Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia – states that didn’t set up exchanges — say they should not be considered eligible for the subsidies and should not have to pay a fine if they don’t purchase insurance.
The “subsidies actually serve to financially injure and restrict the economic choices of certain individuals,” the new complaint says. “For these people, the Subsidy Expansion Rule, by making insurance less ‘unaffordable,’ subjects them to the individual mandate’s requirement to purchase costly, comprehensive health insurance that they otherwise would forgo.”
The employers from Missouri, Kansas and Texas are arguing that they should not be subject to penalties that they may have to pay if their workers receive tax subsidies through the exchanges
Back in February, Vice President Joe Biden spent over $1 million dollars on a trip to London and Paris. Such an extraordinary expense in the run up to the sequester shows how out of touch this administration is.
But with President Barack Obama visiting Mexico and Costa Rica over the next few days, the Weekly Standard reminds us the $2.5 million dollar trip he took last year and questions as to whether the White House will spend taxpayer funds so freely this time around:
[T]he trip won’t exactly be cheap for taxpayers, assuming the costs mirror those incurred by the American taxpayers for President Obama’s last trip to Mexico, for the G-20 summit in June 2012. According to recently discovered documents relating to the costs of that trip, taxpayers paid nearly $2.5 million for hotel and “vehicle rental.”
Remember all the politically-motivated “cuts” the Obama Administration has been making? Guess the sequester isn’t hitting the White House as hard as they claimed they’re spending like this.
As noted earlier this week, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), the primary sponsor of the expanded background checks amendment that failed last month in the Senate, told Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday that he would continue to gather votes in hopes to bring the measure up again as a “clean bill.”
Wallace had asked Manchin about comments made by the measure’s co-sponsor, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who said that he thought the issue was done in the chamber and that he would be returning his attention to “economic and fiscal matters.”
“I don’t think he’s done. I really don’t know,” Manchin told Wallace. “I was with Pat last night and Pat’s totally committed to this bill and I believe that with all of my heart and we’re going to work this bill — when people read the bill, just take time to read the bill.”
Via the Weekly Standard, Toomey has reiterated his view that the push for greater gun control measures is done in the Senate, at least for now:
Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., the dynamic duo who drafted a gun sale background check compromise bill, find themselves divided now on the future of gun control.
Andrew Breitbart, the conservative firebrand who passed away early last year, has won the narrative on Pigford. The conservative blogger, who founded the Breitbart blogging/new media empire, worked hard to shed light on the corruption, cronyism, and fraud that were rampant in Pigford payouts. However, his focus on the scandal was dismissed by an uninterested media.
But after years of ignored the story, it finally got some interest. Sharon LaFraniere of The New York Times recently examined the background of Pigford, which stems from a lawsuit — Pigford v. Glickman — filed by black farmers who claimed they were discriminated against when trying to secure federal loans from 1983 to 1997. The settlement in the case required that the Department of Agriculture payout $50,000 farmers affected by the discrimination. Hispanic and female farmers who also claimed discrimination tried to secure the same payouts from the government, but were initially unsuccessful.
What we now know about the story is nothing short of stunning. What was once meant to be a temporary settlement with farmers was expanded in the 2008 farm bill, funded in 2010, and is now rife with cronyism that could cost taxpayers billions.
“The compensation effort sprang from a desire to redress what the government and a federal judge agreed was a painful legacy of bias against African-Americans by the Agriculture Department,” wrote LaFraniere last week. “But an examination by The New York Times shows that it became a runaway train, driven by racial politics, pressure from influential members of Congress and law firms that stand to gain more than $130 million in fees.”