economic growth

Gallup: Economy, jobs remain Americans’ top concerns

The economy and related economic issues remain at the top of Americans’ concerns, according to a poll released by Gallup on Friday.

Gallup asked 2,059 Americans over the age of 18 about the most important problems facing the United States. Unsurprisingly, 25% of Americans said the economy is the most pressing issue, followed by 19% of respondents who listed unemployment and jobs as their biggest concern. Seventeen percent (17%) said that dissatisfaction with government was the most important problem facing the nation.

President Barack Obama has tried to turn his attention back to the economy in recent weeks amid scandals that have come out of his administration and falling poll numbers. His approval rating on the economy fell to dismal 35%, according to a survey released last week by Gallup, and his overall approval rating is underwater, via Real Clear Politics, sits at 45/50.

Americans are not at all concerned about issues that President Obama has tried to push through Congress or unilateral executive action.

Obama’s approval rating on economy plummets

Americans are not at all thrilled with President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy, according to a new Gallup poll.

Looking to change the narrative away from several scandals that have distracted his administration, President Barack Obama has tried to focus on the economy in recent weeks, beginning with a widely panned speech last month in Illinois, during which he used recycled themes from his 2012 campaign. But it appears that voters aren’t buying what they’re hearing from the White House.

The poll released yesterday by Gallup shows that 62% of Americans now disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the economy, despite his recent focus on the issue. Only 35% approve, down from 42% in June.

“Obama in turning to economic matters thus has his focus in the right place,” noted Gallup, “but until the economy makes more impressive gains, ultimately reflected in improved economic confidence, Americans may not reward him with higher approval.”

Chatting with Stephen Moore, senior economics writer at the Wall Street Journal

Stephen Moore

That’s the thing that’s so interesting about the Left, is they think they’re populists, but they’re really elitists. So all of these elitists, you know, say, ‘Oh, individuals can’t make decisions about healthcare. These are too complicated for people.’ Well, yes, they can!— Stephen Moore

There are many issues swirling around Capitol Hill these days, many of which could great impact the every day lives of Americans.

Earlier this week, United Liberty stopped by the Washington, DC offices of the Wall Street Journal to chat with Stephen Moore, a member of the paper’s editorial board and senior economics writer, to talk about tax reform and the push inside Congress to defund ObamaCare.

Moore is no stranger to the conservative movement. In 1999, he founded the Club for Growth, an advocacy organization that promotes free market policies, and served as its president until 2004. Moore joined the Wall Street Journal in 2005 and is the author of six books, the most recent of which is Who’s The Fairest of Them All: The Truth About Opportunity, Taxes, and Wealth in America.

There has been a lot of discussion about tax reform recently in Congress. Moore has long-been an advocate of pro-growth tax reform and explained that the current tax code serves as a “deterrent” to our success in the global economy.

US-EU Trade Talks: Don’t Forget about the Tariffs

Written by Simon Lester, Trade Policy Analyst for the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute.

In the context of the recently launced US-EU free trade talks (formally, the “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,” or TTIP), commentators have noted that tariffs between the US and EU are low, and thus the key part of the talks will deal with so-called regulatory barriers to trade.  An article in Inside U.S. Trade observes: “Overall, the U.S. average tariff rate is 3.5 percent, although the average tariff rate on goods that the EU actually shipped to the U.S. last year was even lower, at 1.2 percent, … .”

But these average figures mask some significant “tariff peaks.”  There are lots of individual tariff rates, so if many are low or zero, that makes the average figure fairly low; nonetheless, there are plenty of high tariffs still out there.  The same article points out some US and EU tariff rates that may come up during the negotiations.  Here is the US:

U.S. light trucks tariff of 25 percent; a tariff on wool sweaters of 16 percent; a tariff on sardines of 20 percent; a tariff on tuna of 35 percent; and a tariff on leather at 20 percent

Here is the EU:

applied tariffs on honey of 17.3 percent; carrots at 13.6 percent; potatoes at 14.4 percent; strawberries at 20.8 percent; lemons at 12.8 percent, beef at 12 percent; and lamb at 12 percent

And all of those tariffs add up:

San Francisco Fed: Tax Hikes are Slowing Economic Recovery

Since the sequester took effect in March, the White House has been quick to claim that lagging job growth is a result of the these very modest cuts to spending growth. In Obamanomics, government spending and deficits are virtues. But last week, Conn Carrol pointed to a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco making the case that tax hikes — not spending cuts — are to blame for the poor economic recovery:

Why is the Obama recovery the weakest recovery since the Great Depression? According to a new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, it is not because the federal government failed to borrow and spend too little during the height of the economic downturn.

In fact, the San Francisco Fed reports that “federal fiscal policy was unusually expansionary during the Great Recession” thanks largely to the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic stimulus program passed by Congress in 2009. As a consequence, federal government saving in the recession fell faster—that is, the deficit grew faster—than our historical norm would predict.”

Looking ahead, however, the Fed does see fiscal policy slowing growth, but not, as liberals would have you believe, due to spending cuts:

BLS: 165,000 Jobs Created in April, Broader Unemployment Rate Inches Up

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.”

ObamaCare Compliance to Cost Businesses $24 Billion

Douglas Holtz-Eakin

During a House Small Business Committee hearing last week, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who served as director of the Congressional Budget Office from 2003 to 2005, explained that the compliance costs of ObamaCare — passed as the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” — could cost businesses up to $24 billion and 80 million hours of paperwork.

“The [Affordable Care Act] is very costly,” Holtz-Eakin explained to the committee. “It has about $24 billion in reported regulatory compliance costs. These are estimates that come from the administration itself. Eighty million hours of paperwork time spent complying with those regulations. To give you some perspective - that’s 40,000 full time employees filling out paperwork for a year nonstop”

Responding to a question from Rep. Tom Rice about the affects of the bill on the economy and ostensibly the American people, Holtz-Eakin said, “This is a negative; I don’t think there’s anyway around that.”

“Whatever your other objects might be, if you set out to enhance job creation and growth in the United States, you wouldn’t pass a bill with a trillion dollars of tax increases, a large entitlement program, and this amount of regulation,” Holtz-Eakin continued. “That isn’t a good strategy.”

Holtz-Eakin also noted that the insurance tax will be passed onto consumers in their health insurance premiums. He also agreed with Sen. Max Baucus’s recent comments that the implementation efforts of ObamaCare will be a “train wreck.”

Club for Growth releases 2012 scorecard

United States Capitol

The Club for Growth, one of Washington’s most high-profile conservative organizations, released its annual scorecard earlier this week, providing a measure of who in Congress is fighting to reduce government spending and regulation.

The scorecard shows how members of House of Representatives and the Senate voted during the 2012 session on key, pro-growth issues ranging from keeping the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts in place to capping transportation spending to expanding free trade to banning earmarks.

“Whether it was the GOP’s support of massive tax increases or the constant assault on liberty by the Obama administration, the pro-growth caucus in Congress has a lot of work to do in 2013,” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola explained in a statement. “The Club’s scorecard is intended to help our members and the general public understand who talks a good game on limiting government and passing pro-growth policies, and who backs up their words with votes.”

So who in Congress have been working for the taxpayer? Obviously, we can’t list everybody who scored well, for sake of space, so we’re going to limit it to the top in each chamber. You can find the 2012 scorecard by clicking here.

Best of the Best in the House of Representatives

Jobs, not government spending, lift Americans out of poverty


During his inaugural address, President Barack Obama launched a defense of entitlement programs and spoke about income equality. But despite the rhetoric and increased spending on welfare programs during his first four years, the poverty rate in the United States hasn’t declined.

Writing at US News and World Report, Keith Hall, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, explains that government spending won’t lift people out of poverty, noting instead that Congress should pursue policies that create private-sector jobs to lift Americans out of poverty:

Since the start of the recession, the number of Americans in poverty has grown by 9 million. This increase has come at a time when government spending on the poor has also reached record levels. In 2011, more than 100 million people lived in households that received some kind of low-income government assistance; spending on these programs at the federal, state, and local level combined now exceeds $1 trillion annually. Government assistance for low-income families now equals a shocking 10 percent of all household spending.

It has been long recognized that recessions can increase the number of families in poverty, and over the past 20 years it has become clear that the rising and falling poverty rate correlates directly with the jobless rate. The graph below shows this relationship.

Obama offers no real path forward on entitlements

Barack Obama

During his inaugural address on Monday, President Barack Obama made it clear that he was not willing to negotiate on entitlement programs. “The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us,” Obama said in his defense of these government-run programs. “They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”

In his first term, President Obama talked about the need to deal with entitlements; however, he brought nothing resembling a credible plan to the table — in fact, he didn’t propose a plan at all.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who, despite his recent shortcomings and generally bad record, has offered two credible budget plans that would both reform entitlements and pay down the national debt, responded to Obama’s comments yesterday during an interview on The Laura Ingraham Show:

Ryan said earned entitlements — where you pay your payroll taxes during your working like to get a benefit when you retire, such as Social Security — are “not taker programs.”

“When the president does kind of a switcheroo like that, what he’s trying to say is that we are maligning these programs that people have earned throughout their working lives,” he said. “So it’s kind of a convenient twist of terms to try and shadowbox a straw man in order to win an argument by default.”

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