Last night, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney went toe-to-toe over issues concerning undecided voters at the second presidential debate at Hofstra University. After a dismal performance in the first debate nearly two weeks ago, Obama needed to get his campaign back on track by shifting the momentum gained by Romney.
While he may not have had a blowout last night, Obama did score a win on style. He was better prepared and clearly more comfortable in this setting than in the previous debate. Romney started strong, hitting points on Obama’s failed economic record and turning a question about energy and gas prices into a contentious back and forth that probably scored him some points. Romney was convincing and passionate when it came to the economy, and polls reflected that he won on that issue.
That’s not to say that he didn’t overstep on some of his rhetoric; particularly when it came to China and saying Obama doubled the national debt (he’s certainly increased it rapidly and significantly, but not doubled it).
Obama repeated frequently used familiar class warfare themes frequently during the debate, once again saying that a so-called “balanced approach” was needed to deal with the debt. However, Obama’s balanced approach isn’t so balanced when one looks at the math. Obama also quipped that “Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan; he has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules.” That sort of rhetoric may play well at times, even though it’s annoyingly wrong, but it didn’t seem to work all that well last night.
On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the jobs report from September, showing 114,000 jobs created and the unemployment rate dropping to 7.8% (U-3 rate) — the first time it’s been under 8% since January 2009. The U-6, what many call the true measure of unemployment, is still stuck at 14.7%.
Via James Pethokoukis, here is an updated look at unemployment where the White House said it would be compared to today’s reality:
On its face, the report is very good news for President Barack Obama, who has been dogged by weak jobs numbers during this so-called “economic recovery.” However, the details of the September jobs report habe a lot Republicans questioning how the unemployment rate could fall when only 114,000 jobs were created — which is still below the number needed to keep up with population growth.
Despite the conspiracy theories about the BLS cooking the books, the Wall Street Journal explains why the unemployment rate dropped:
With President Barack Obama’s political supporters making a big deal about the new 7.8% unemployment number, it is easy to forget the real news: there are 12.1 million Americans who are unemployed and millions more are under-employed. With 114,000 jobs added last month the Great Recession job gap won’t be closed until 2025.
Because of this, Americans for Prosperity has launched a new campaign online, starting with this uncomfortable ad:
“The big-government policies of this administration have left more Americans out of work for longer than under the last 11 Presidents combined,” explained Tim Phillips, President of AFP. “It’s abundantly clear that President Obama’s policies of reckless spending, higher debt, and ever-increasing taxes are putting Americans out of work.”
Also, tomorrow AFP is hosting their 2nd National Prosperity Action Day, with 50+ AFP field offices in 16 states organizing door knocks to poll citizens about President Obama’s policies and job approval. Last time, volunteers made more than 400,000 phone calls, bringing their grand total for the year above 5,000,000.
As much as we poke fun at Vice President Joe Biden for the crazy stuff he says, you have to hand it to him, he’s at least straightforward with his thoughts. He’ll tell you exactly what he’s thinking, no matter how wrong or foolish he may be.
The latest example came yesterday during a campaign rally in Iowa when Biden told supporters that his boss, President Barack Obama, does want to raise taxes by $1 trillion:
You know the phrase they always use? Obama and Biden want to raise taxes by a trillion dollars. Guess what? Yes we do in one regard. We want to let that trillion dollar tax cut expire so the middle class doesn’t have to bear the burden of all that money going to the super wealthy. That’s not a tax raise, that’s called fairness where I come from.
Here’s the video:
Well, it’s not quite $1 trillion in tax revenue that would come with raising taxes on families making over $250,000 — not merely the “super wealthy.” It’s close, but estimates are between $600 to $850 billion over 10 years. Biden can talk about sequestration cuts, the $1 trillion in spending he referenced, but those aren’t hard cuts, but rather cuts in the anticipated growth of spending. The revenues are also a drop in the bucket when one looks at the bigger picture of spending and budget deficits over the next 10 years. And frankly, $1 trillion in spending cuts is nowhere near enough.
There are many congressional races that are going make the election this November fun to watch. Odds are that Republicans will keep the House of Representatives, but how big will their majority be come January 2013?
My home state of Georgia has managed to an interesting race or two in the last couple of cycles. In 2010, then-Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA) was knocked off by Austin Scott, who has gone on to become the president of the freshman GOP class. Marshall’s district had been a Republican target before, in 2006 and 2008, but GOP nominees met a tough, and unwilling electorate.
This year about bring fireworks in the Peach State as Rep. John Barrow (D-GA) is facing a tough bid for re-election this year thanks to his district, GA-12, recently being redrawn by the state legislature. The Cook Political Report has the seat rated as “Lean Republican.”
Such challenges aren’t new to Rep. Barrow, who managed to fight off a tough challenge in 2004 from former Rep. Max Burns (R-GA). Despite being biannually mentioned as a vulnerable member, Barrow has survived.
This year’s challenge is more formidable. With the Republican-controlled legislature making the district more amenable to their party, Barrow now finds himself as one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the House. Of course, Barrow realizes this, which is why he voted against cap-and-trade, for extending current tax rates, and for both contempt resolutions against Attorney General Eric Holder.
“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” - F.A. Hayek
After another poor jobs report, it seems that the Federal Reserve may launch a third round of quantitative easing, perhaps as early as this week, in hopes that it will bring a boost to the economy:
“QE3 is a done deal,” says Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG. “After today’s report, this debate is moot.”
Economists from Goldman Sachs share similar sentiment. They expect the Fed to launch a new bond-buying program next week, rather than in December or early 2013 as previously predicted.
A consensus is building in the bond market that a third bond-buying program, known as quantitative easing measures, will be a combination of longer-dated Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities, which would boost the value of
the targeted assets.
Goldman’s Jan Hatzius says QE3 will likely consist of an open-ended asset purchase program of around $50 billion per month. He doesn’t anticipate an end date given in advance. Instead it would likely be formulated based on the pace of the economic recovery.
Michelle Meyer, senior U.S. economist at Bank of America BAC. Merrill Lynch, is also in the camp that expects more Fed easing.
“The Fed will not stand idle in the face of subpar growth,” she says. “We expect additional balance sheet expansion before year-end, with a growing probability of an open-ended QE program tied to healing in the economy.”
While it seems that President Barack Obama may have received a bump in support thanks to some firey speeches at the Democratic National Convention last week, the gains may be short-lived thanks to yet another dismal jobs report. On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 96,000 jobs were created in August, though the unemployment rate did fall, that is thanks to some 368,000 people leaving the labor market.
President Obama and Democrats are trying to put the best spin they can on the report, oftening claiming that 4.5 million private-sector jobs have been created since January 2010, which is a dubious claim since the net gain is closer to 300,000 since he took office. But it’s hard to look at the numbers and deny just how poorly the economy is functioning in what is supposed to be a recovery. James Pethokoukis noted a key point, outside of the job creation numbers and unemployment rate, is average hourly earnings from the private-sector. As you can see, the numbers so a continuing downward trend, even three years after the recession ended:
Facing an increasingly tight race for re-election thanks to lagging job growth, President Barack Obama yesterday ostensibly said that it’s too soon to give him a fair grade, despite being in office for almost a full term:
President Obama’s assessment of his first term hasn’t changed since the last time he weighed in.
Asked to grade his first term in an interview with KKTV in Colorado, Obama said: “You know I would say incomplete…but what I would say is the steps that we have taken in saving the auto industry, in making sure that college is more affordable and investing in clean energy and science and technology and research, those are all the things that we are going to need to grow over the long term.”
The grade — typically given by teachers to students with unfinished work — is what Obama has given himself a number of other times.
While President Obama has given himself an “incomplete” on other occasions in the last couple of years, he wasn’t so shy about giving himself positive marks after less than a full year in the White House. In case you don’t remember, Obama gave himself a “solid B-plus” on the economy during an interview with Oprah Winfrey in December 2009, adding that if he got his health care law signed, “[W]e tip into A-minus.”
Citizens United, a group made famous thanks to a 2010 Supreme Court case dealing with free speech, put together some good stuff about the Left in the United States. They will soon be released Occupy Unmasked, which documents the crazy that we know as Occupy Wall Street.
Another documentary, The Hope and the Change, they’ve put together looks at the thoughts of some Democrats and independent voters who supported Barack Obama in 2008, but have been disappointed in his presidency:
This documentary, which is out now on DVD, will be among those offered by Citizens United for a free screening during next week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa.