Doug Mataconis, Brett Bittner, Mike Hassinger, Tom Knighton and Jason Pye will be live-blogging President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address and the Republican response given by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). We’ll kick things off around 8:30pm (EST).
Our friends at the Cato Institute are also live-blogging this evening.
Welcome Instapundit readers!
Today, we learned that the economy had added 431,000 jobs in May but that most of them were temporary Census positions:
Employers added 431,000 nonfarm jobs nationwide in May, the biggest increase in a single month since the recession, the Labor Department said Friday. But the bulk of the growth was in government jobs, driven by hiring for the Census, and private-sector job growth was weak.
The unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent nationwide, from 9.9 percent in April, the department said.
The figures for May represented the fifth consecutive month that payrolls have risen, but fell below analysts’ expectations that 540,000 jobs would be added to the economy.
The shortfall was immediately reflected in futures trading in the Wall Street stock indexes, with the Dow Jones industrial average expected to open almost 2 percent lower.
Altogether, 411,000 of the jobs added were for Census workers whose positions will disappear after the summer.
The net gain in government jobs was 390,000, while the private sector added only 41,000.
In other words, 95% of the jobs created in may were government jobs that will no longer exist as of mid-July. But for that census hiring, the unemployment rate would not have gone down at all and we would have had an anemic jobs report.
This is six months after we were told that the worst is behind us.
President Obama, however, thinks this report was good news:
President Barack Obama said on Friday the gain of 431,000 jobs in May is a sign the U.S. economy is getting stronger, although there will still be ups and downs going forward.
Continuing our “Liberty Candidate Series” of interviews, Jason and Brett talk with John Dennis, discussing his opponent, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, liberty in San Francisco, and his candidacy. Dennis is a “Pro-Liberty” Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in California’s 8th Congressional District.
This special edition podcast is the fifth in a series devoted to showcasing liberty candidates nationwide. Dennis talks about his liberty-focused campaign against the Speaker of the House in California.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) isn’t all that fond of Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) vicious attacks against Charles and David Koch, billionaire brothers who donate to conservative and libertarian causes.
“It’s us in the middle that have to start making something happen here in Washington to move this country forward. People want jobs. You don’t beat up people,” Manchin said this morning on Fox and Friends. “I don’t agree with their politics or philosophically, but you know, they’re Americans who are paying their taxes. They’re not breaking the law. They’re providing jobs.”
Manchin, who hails from a red state, has frequently bucked from Democratic leadership on big issues, including further energy regulation and certain aspects of Obamacare. Reid, however, has tried to demonize the Koch brothers from the Senate floor, using them as part of the Democratic Party’s election year strategy to change the subject to anything other than the unpopular healthcare law and the still struggling economy.
Though the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has already warned that proposed $10.10 federal minimum wage could cost the economy at least 500,000 jobs over the next two years, President Barack Obama and Democrats are still trying to push the increase through Congress, mostly because they believe it plays to their favor in an election year.
The issue may be an easy way to score political points, but the Wall Street Journal makes note of new survey which found that most businesses would adjust to an increase in the minimum wage by reducing hiring and increasing prices for goods and services, and some would even layoff workers:
Just over half of U.S. businesses that pay the minimum wage would hire fewer workers if the federal standard is raised to $10.10 per hour, according to a survey by a large staffing firm to be released Wednesday. But the same poll found a majority of those companies would not cut their current workforce.
More than a month after the State Department released its report finding that the Keystone XL pipeline would have little impact on the environment, President Barack Obama continued to stall on a decision that could green-light the project. But a new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that nearly two-thirds of Americans support Keystone XL:
Americans support the idea of constructing the Keystone XL oil pipeline between Canada and the United States by a nearly 3 to 1 margin, with 65 percent saying it should be approved and 22 percent opposed, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The findings also show that the public thinks the massive project, which aims to ship 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta and the northern Great Plains to refineries on the Gulf Coast, will produce significant economic benefits. Eighty-five percent say the pipeline would create a significant number of jobs, with 62 percent saying they “strongly” believed that to be the case.
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.
The White House didn’t take too kindly to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s report showing that the $10.10 minimum wage being pushed by President Barack Obama would lead to the loss of 500,000 jobs.
In response to the report, two White House economists wrote a lengthy rebuttal to the report, touting the findings that they felt bolstered the case for a minimum wage hike while, at the same time, dismissing its findings on the negative impact to the labor market. Call it a case study in “having their cake and eating it too.”
Betsey Stevenson, one of the White House economists who wrote the rebuttal, even insulted the CBO, comparing its report to what’s taught in introductory economics.
“[A] new burgeoning literature has really pointed out that how much you pay people actually affects how they perform, what they do, and how much they produce,” Stevenson told reporters on Tuesday. “You don’t get the loss of employment that that, you know, supply-demand that you saw on the chalk board if you took introductory economics would have demonstrated.”
CBO Director Doug Elmendorf defended his agency’s report on the labor market effects of the minimum wage at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday:
While most Democrats seem to be hailing the news that Obamacare will reduce the incentive to work, Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius seems to be in complete denial.
At a stop in Orlando on Monday, Sebelius told reports that there is no evidence that Obamacare will reduce employment.
“There is absolutely no evidence, and every economist will tell you this, that there is any job-loss related to the Affordable Care Act,” Sebelius said. “Part-time physicians are actually down since 2010, not up. The number of full-time workers continues to increase. I know that’s a popular myth that continues to be repeated, but it just is not accurate.”
Well, there is evidence.
The Congressional Budget Office recently determined that Obamacare would reduce employment by 2 million full-time workers by 2017, up from an earlier projection of 800,000, rising to 2.5 million by 2024. The reason for the decline in workers is because the subsidies, which are tied to income, would encourage people to work less.
Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has endorsed construction of the Keystone XL, pointing to the State Department report released last week showing that the oil pipeline would have little impact on the environment:
Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in an interview Thursday that his endorsement of construction of the Keystone oil sands pipeline comes after learning new information, including that the pipeline would not greatly increase carbon emissions.
Speaking at an energy conference in Texas earlier this week, Salazar said he supported the project.
He said he believed construction could “be done in a way that creates a win-win for energy and the environment.”
This is the first time Salazar, now a lawyer in the private sector, has endorsed the pipeline, which would carry crude from tar sands in Canada to refineries along the Gulf Coast.
Salazar served as Interior secretary in President Obama’s first term, from 2009 to 2013. His support is notable given that he issued a moratorium on off-shore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 BP oil spill, a move that caused oil companies to drill in other regions of the world. The move cost Louisiana 12,000 jobs.