V for Venezuela

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Via Learn Liberty: “Tired of the corruption, high crime, and poor state of the economy in Venezuela, students and other citizens are taking to the streets to protest. What kind of ideas inspire regular citizens to risk so much in the face of a tyrannical government?”

CBO shows further labor force participation decline

During a breakfast with reporters on Wednesday, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf presented reporters with his agency’s labor force projections — the percentage of Americans available for work — over the next 10 years.

Much attention has been paid to Elmendorf’s defense of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) analysis of the $10.10 minimum wage proposal amid criticism from the White House and congressional Democrats, but his presentation on labor force participation is the real story from his talk with reporters.

The side Elmendorf presented shows that the CBO expects labor force participation to continue to slide to lows not seen in decades. The most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed the labor force participation rate at 63%, up very slightly from the previous month’s 62.8%, which was the lowest rate since 1978.

 Historical and Projected Rate of Participation in the Labor Force

Today in Liberty: Conservative groups blast House GOP on debt ceiling, jobs more important to voters than wage gap

“ We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.” — Charles Bukowski

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Obama pledges to stay out Senate races to help Dems

With his second-term agenda on the line and vulnerable Democrats feverishly trying distance themselves from his unpopular presidency, Barack Obama said that he’s willing to stay out races that could determine control of the Senate:

President Barack Obama has told Senate Democrats that he’s willing to stay away from election battles where his presence would not be helpful, a Democratic source said — an apparent nod to his poll numbers.
“I don’t remember him (Obama) saying he wouldn’t be offended if he wasn’t invited (to help campaign), but he certainly acknowledged how low his numbers are in certain states,” a source told CNN.

But Obama also noted “they are bad in some states overall,” and “that certain people would need him to help in certain parts of those states,” that source said.

Basically, President Obama just told Sens. Mark Begich (D-AK), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Mark Pryor (D-AR) that he understands that their support of his agenda is a drag on their chances for reelection in red-leaning states.

House GOP hits Obama on jobs, healthcare in SOTU prebuttal

 Obamacare's False Promises

The House Republican Conference released a couple videos, — sort of prebuttals to the State of the Union address — that takes aim at some of the statements President Barack Obama has made about the economy and healthcare over the last few years.

In past State of the Union address, President Obama has told Americans that the economy is growing and more Americans are going back to work in the aftermath of the “Great Recession.” But the video fuses takes the flashbacks to these address and fuses them with new reports of over the years, including most recent, disappointing jobs report in December.

The second video focuses on lines from the 2009 State of the Union address dealing with the cost of healthcare and its impact Americans and employers. After each statement, the video offers truths about how Obamacare is increasing insurance premiums, forcing Americans out of their health plans, and causing many small businesses to freeze hiring:

Ted Cruz wants answers from Obama in State of the Union

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) doesn’t feel like President Barack Obama has been forthcoming with the American people on the biggest scandals and controversies that have taken place in his administration.

With the State of the Union address set to be delivered before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday evening, the firebrand conservative has asked President Obama to answer five questions about these very serious, very familiar issues.

“Americans all over the nation are asking questions about the economy, Obamacare, the IRS, Benghazi, and the NSA that aren’t being answered,” said Cruz in a statement. ”However, as the President prepares his State of the Union address, he has signaled he has no intention of clearing the air.”

As has been the case over the last several weeks, President Obama is likely to focus his fifth State of the Union address on the issue of income inequality and will like make another call for a minimum wage hike. These are the issues to which the White House and congressional Democrats have pivoted amid controversies over the disastrous Obamacare rollout and millions of health policy cancellations caused by the law.

Cruz would rather President Obama offer to take accountability for the scandals and controversies that have arisen. Specifically, the Texas senator has five questions to which he says Americans deserve answers, per the release from his office:

Imperial presidency: Obama threatens executive action on economy

As part of his ongoing effort to change the narrative in the media, President Barack Obama told reporters yesterday that his administration will resort to executive action to enact parts of his economic agenda if Republicans won’t play along:

With two weeks left before delivering an economy-focused State of the Union address to Congress, Obama is picking up the pace of his jobs message and demonstrating how he can advance his economic agenda administratively and through his ability to coax action from important interest groups.

“We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need,” Obama said Tuesday as he convened his first Cabinet meeting of the year. He said he would instruct his department heads to “use all the tools available to us” to assist the middle class.
Obama’s reliance on his executive powers and his bully pulpit — at the White House it’s called his “pen-and-phone” strategy — illustrates the means at his disposal to drive policy but also highlights the limits of his ability to work with Congress.

Only through legislation can Obama obtain some of the most ambitious items on his economic agenda — from a higher minimum wage to universal preschool to an overhaul of immigration laws, three items in his 2013 State of the Union that will make a return appearance in this year’s address.

As long as Republicans in Congress are unreceptive to his legislative priorities, he will have to settle for more incremental and narrower solutions that don’t necessarily have the staying power and the force of law.

Heritage: U.S. drops out of top 10 in economic freedom

The United States has dropped is no longer in the 10 top freest economies in the world, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, a joint annual study from the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal that offers a look at the economies of 178 countries.

Economic freedom in the United States has declined each year since President Barack Obama took office, from 6th in 2009 to 12th in 2014. The researchers explained that new financial and healthcare regulations have “contributed significantly to the erosion of U.S. economic freedom.”

“Over the 20-year history of the Index, the U.S.’s economic freedom has fluctuated significantly. During the first 10 years, its score rose gradually, and it joined the ranks of the economically ‘free’ in 2006,” note the researchers. “Since then, it has suffered a dramatic decline of almost 6 points, with particularly large losses in property rights, freedom from corruption, and control of government spending.”

“The U.S. is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic freedom each of the past seven years,” they added.

Hong Kong has the freest economy in the world, thanks to its fiscal freedom as well as its strong commitment to private property rights, open markets, and free trade. Researchers note that the Chinese protectorate also has a “highly motivated workforce and a high level of labor freedom,” which, they explain, “have added to Hong Kong’s economic dynamism and resilience.”

Ted Cruz knocks Obama’s proposed “promise zones”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) isn’t too fond of President Barack Obama’s proposed “promise zones,” the latest gimmick from the White House in its latest push to focus on economic inequality. In fact, the Texas senator says that the economic policies pushed by the administration have led to inequality.

“It’s altogether fitting that President Obama is today talking about income inequality because income inequality has increased dramatically as a direct result of his economic policies,” said Cruz yesterday in a statement. “Out-of-control government spending, debt, taxes, and regulations have killed millions of jobs. Unfortunately, rather than stop Washington’s job-killing policies, President Obama proposes yet more government spending and debt.”

The so-called “promise zones” purport to “create jobs, increase economic security, expand access to educational opportunities and quality, affordable housing and improve public safety.” The cost of the proposal hasn’t been released, but The Detroit News points to an administration memo from last month which stated that designated areas “will not receive direct funding, but will benefit from technical assistance, federal staff support, and more extensive preference points and access to other federal grant programs.”

U.S. Chamber: We will be “aggressive” in 2014 primaries

Tom Donohue

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has already put insurgent conservative candidates on notice, pledging to spend $50 million to back Republicans who are friendly to its goals. But Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the Chamber, offered a little more detail in a speech yesterday in Washington, explaining that they will be “aggressive” in the 2014 election cycle:

Without directly attacking the Tea Party by name, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce made clear again today that the business community is ready for battle during Republican primaries for the U.S. House and Senate in 2014, all part of an ongoing struggle over the direction of the Republican Party.

“The business community understands what’s at stake,” said U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas Donohue in a speech in Washington, D.C..

“In primaries and in general elections, we will support candidates who want to work within the legislative process to solve the nation’s problems,” Donohue added.
“Will we support folks that challenge people we just think vote wrong and have not been helpful?  Sounds like a good idea,” Donohue said.

Donohue dismissed the notion that the Chamber’s efforts are directed at the Tea Party movement, claiming instead that they want to elect “pro-business” candidates. That’s a distinction without a difference.

One thing that the Chamber crowd has never really grasped is that “pro-business” candidates or policies and taxpayer interests aren’t always the same. For example, corporate bailouts and wasteful earmarks may be “pro-business,” but taxpayers are left with the bill.

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