Barack Obama

More evidence that gridlock, not Obama policy, is fixing the economy

Washington Gridlock

From the 2012 election to the recent State of the Union Address, President Obama has claimed responsibility for the growing economy and job creation. His dutiful praetorian guard in the press has defended his claims. But there’s just one problem: The Republican House majority elected just two years into his first term kept most of Obama’s policies from being implemented. A new study released this month provides even more evidence that the failure of Obama policies to be passed has improved the economy, not the policies themselves.

The study, released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, measured employment changes across the states over 2014 after unemployment benefit extensions were not reauthorized by Congress in the late 2013 budget deal. The extensions were opposed by Republicans but supported by Democrats and were ultimately left out of the deal that Obama signed.

As common sense and Econ101 would suggest, the study found that when you stop paying people not to work, they tend to go back to work.

In levels, 1.8 million additional jobs were created in 2014 due to the benefit cut. Almost 1 million of these jobs were filled by workers from out of the labor force who would not have participated in the labor market had benefit extensions been reauthorized.

Obama to welcome new Congress by proposing billions in new taxes

Obama's $320 tax hike SOTU

President Obama will propose $320 billion in new tax increases over ten years during his seventh State of the Union address on Tuesday night. After historic Republican victories during the 2014 midterm elections, which gave Republicans the largest majority in the House in decades and a majority in the Senate for the first time since Obama became president, Obama is set to reject those results and charge full steam ahead with his one-sided liberal agenda.

Americans for Tax Reform, an organization which pressures elected officials not to raise taxes, highlights the five major tax hikes Obama will propose tomorrow night:

1. Capital Gains Rate Hike: raises capital gains and dividends tax rate from 23.8% today (20% plus 3.8% Obamacare surtax) to 28% (including the Obamacare surtax).

The capital gains tax has not been that high since President Clinton signed a rate cut in 1997.

It would represent a massive hike in the rate since Obama took office. When he was sworn in, the rate was 15%. He proposes to nearly double it to 28% in the twilight of his administration.

2. Stealth increase in the death tax rate from 40% to nearly 60%.

Under current law, when you inherit an asset your basis in the asset is the higher of the fair market value at the time of death or the decedent’s original basis. Almost always, the fair market value is higher.

Under the Obama proposal, when you inherit an asset your basis will simply be the decedent’s original basis.

House GOP “exporting the Issa model” in holding Obama accountable

Issa subpoena power

House Republicans are set to expand the subpoena power of a number of Committee Chairman in an effort to put more pressure on the Obama Administration and the various departments under investigation, a move one Democrat staffer said was tantamount to “exporting the Issa model to the rest of the House.” That comment refers to the power California Republican Darrell Issa wielded as Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform during investigations into “Operation: Fast and Furious” and the IRS scandal.

POLITICO reports:

The change means that, in a break from years of tradition, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) wouldn’t need to consult with his panel’s top Democrat before subpoenaing documents or witnesses about issues like Obamacare or the Environmental Protection Agency. The GOP is also proposing similar boosts in authority for Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), whose panel’s jurisdiction includes the Dodd-Frank financial regulations law, and for Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who will oversee any probes into immigration.

Two other panels — Agriculture and Science, Space and Technology — are considering making the same change. And in a similar move, the House passed a rules package last week that gave the energy, science, finance and Ways and Means committees the power to let their counsels hold depositions in private.

President Obama’s subtle trick to sell “free” nationalized community college

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On Thursday, President Obama announced from Air Force One an unprecedented plan to extend federally-funded universal public education up through community college for everyone. Students would have to maintain a certain grade point average and choose plans and colleges that have proven career success. The plan will be fully articulated in the President’s annual budget proposal, which will be dead on arrival in the newly Republican-controlled Congress, and Obama will provide more details in his upcoming State of the Union address. The estimated cost has not been revealed, but the idea is for the federal government to fund 75% of the program with states picking up the rest.

However, it’s not the details of the program that are so distressing as the subtle, disingenuous way the President has chosen to sell it. Obama made the announcement from his sleak office aboard Air Force One, dressed in a tie but no jacket, leaning back casually on his angled desk. Whoever choreographs these things is a master in marketing.

The recorded, scripted, teleprompter-read nearly two-minute statement was billed as a preview of the State of the Union. The community college initiative is introduced thusly:

Put simply, what I’d like to do is to see the first two years of community college free for everybody who is willing to work for it. That’s right, free for everyone who’s willing to work for it. It’s something we can accomplish, and it’s something that will train our workforce so that we can compete with anybody in the world.

Fantastic! What’s another few billion dollars a year when you’re already $18 trillion in debt? YOLO, amirite?

2014: A Year In Review

 Year In Review

A new year has begun. A new slate upon which to write our hopes and dreams, a new opportunity to do better, to be better, to rise above past disappointments, and to build upon past successes. As we look to the future, however, wisdom dictates we study the past to gain enlightenment and clarity. Though seemingly impossible, our memories telling us they occurred long ago, each and every one of these stories occurred in just the last year…

We kicked off the year in January with overheated rhetoric and under-heated weather, first forced to suffer through another of Obama’s interminable State of the Union addresses, where he tried to one-up Joe Biden by plagiarizing himself (which makes sense, considering Obama thinks he is smarter than the rest of us, so who else would he quote?). This speech was pretty much a copy-and-paste montage of past speeches; whining that the rich need to pay more, we need to “invest” more in “renewable” energy, and how six years of his economic policies don’t have us where we want to be yet, but are showing promising gains…blah, blah, blah. Add to that more promises of more bailouts for people who took on bad loans, to be paid for higher taxes on people who paid for the first bailout, plus a renewed demand for a “comprehensive” immigration reform bill, which seems pointless now that Obama has decided he is Emperor after all and will just make law by executive fiat, and refuse to enforce provisions he doesn’t like.

2014: Obama’s Song of Himself

Obama Singing

Politically speaking, 2015 could shape up to be a very dramatic year, what with it being just a year away from the presidential election that, to my mind, will determine if our country has survived a fairly concerted effort to turn toward European Socialism. As the year turns, it’s worthwhile to look backward for a minute and assess the victories and wins versus the moments when things didn’t exactly fall into place.

The White House certainly agrees, and so has produced a slideshow highlighting this administration’s “accomplishments”. Oh do give it a look. It’s a glorious little vanity project that could make you laugh if you get past the annoying self love and glaring word garbage that makes each slide not quite a lie as much as a statement lacking context. As Market Watch notes:

To hear the White House tell it, the November elections never happened and 2014 was a super-duper year for President Obama.

Of course the Market Watch writer seems bitter than Obama is taking credit for all these great wins and yet those clever conservatives still managed to win a whole lot in the midterms. Harrumph. If you’re so great President Obama — he seems to say — why are we subjected to their new reign of terror?

Matthew Hurtt, writing here at UL, examines some of the reasons Obama’s approval rating has fallen low enough to hand control of Congress back to the right.

Barack Obama and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

Obama Sad

It’s not been a good year for Barack Obama.

Of course, the midterm elections during the sixth year of a two-term president’s time in office are historically bad for the president’s party. In 2006, Democrats defeated President George W. Bush’s party and picked up a net of six seats in the Senate and 31 seats in the House. The 1998 elections held steady for Republicans during President Clinton’s sixth year, and they kept majorities in both chambers.

In 1986, during President Reagan’s sixth year, Democrats picked up eight seats in the Senate, giving them control of the Senate, and gained a net five seats in the House, giving them a massive 258-177 majority. To give context, Republicans are expected to start the next Congress in January with 247 members to the Democrats’ 188 — and that’s historically high for Republicans.

But President Obama’s bad year doesn’t start and end with Election Day 2014. According to Gallup, which has been tracking presidential approval ratings for decades, 2014 is the first year where President Obama’s approval rating never eclipsed his disapproval rating, meaning he has not — at any point this year — had a net positive approval. He has been under water since August 2013 and has not recovered.

National Journal’s James Oliphant writes:

What Else Falls with Fallen Standards? Obama’s “Mean Girls”

Obama's Mean Girls

Anyone who’s been paying attention to national politics may have gotten the strange, discomforting feeling that the United States has, for the past several years, been led in a manner more befitting a Student Council rather than a world power. Whether it’s Harry Reid’s whiny vendetta against the Koch brothers, or the more recent indecent back stab of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the seats of power are behaving not unlike a high school popularity contest. Peggy Noonan zeroed in on one such example recently in a blog post at the Wall Street Journal regarding a phone call President Obama made to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and, apparently, a loose-lipped staffer in the Senator’s office:

Presidents don’t call senators to complain that someone in their office got them mad. That is below a president. (It is especially below one during a crisis.) If persistent leaks get under a president’s skin, he has one of the tough guys around him make that call. If it’s really serious, he has his chief of staff do it. But a president doesn’t lower himself to making accusations, he doesn’t stoop to expressing personal anger at a mere congressional staffer. Presidents have bigger things to do. They also know that everyone leaks. They roll their eyes and keep walking.

Senators don’t have staffers surreptitiously listen in on phone calls from the president of the United States. If they want to request that someone listen in and take notes, they can, and the White House can give or decline permission in advance of the call. Has any senator ever violated this etiquette? Probably, sure. But it is a violation, and they would know it is a violation and not something to brag about.

Democrat “economic wedge issue” playbook failed in 2014, but they’ll probably re-hash it in 2016 anyway.

Hillary Clinton 2016

After suffering a historic beating at the polls in 2014, many leading Democrats now say a big reason for their losses is that they failed to drive home with voters a message of economic populism; namely, income inequality, wage stagnation, and the need to raise the minimum wage. They say they are determined to fix that failure in their quest to win back seats from Republicans in 2016.

Democrats, fleeing from Obama’s myriad failures and seeking wedge issues with which to win close races, actually did implement quite a bit of economic populism in the months leading up to the midterms; it just didn’t resonate with voters. As for why it did not resonate, it might be that after six years of Obamanomics – from the “stimulus” package that actually increased unemployment by more than 2%, Son of Stimulus, Cash for Clunkers, Summer of Recovery, Summer of Recovery 2, Summers of Recovery 3 and 4, and so on and so forth - voters simply no long gave Obama and the Democrats credibility on economic matters.

And with good reason. The issue of raising the minimum wage polls well, but in actuality has little bearing on the lives of most voters. The reality is that, according to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Labor earlier this year, only 2.8% of the U.S. labor force earns at or below minimum wage. Of that 2.8%, many workers, such as restaurant servers, make much higher than that due to tips, which reduces the number of Americans actually earning minimum wage to just 1.1%. Of those earning minimum wage, roughly half are workers between the age of 16 and 24 years, and most of these are students working part-time.

White House Foreign Policy Dangerously Changes by the Day

When word filtered out yesterday that President Obama, on the heels of his reiteration of “no boots on the ground” to the military men and women at CENTCOM, had instructed the Pentagon that he was the final say on any individual airstrike in Syria (“…[to] better ensure the operation remain focused on his main goal for that part of the campaign: weakening the militants’ hold on territory in neighboring Iraq.”), pundits rightly began to ask questions.  Allahpundit at HotAir had several, including the possibility that Obama must consider our new engagement a “counterterrorism” measure rather than a traditional war:

 


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