Obama administration

Unemployment rate rises to 9.1%

As has been speculated, the unemployment numbers for May show a slowing job market and an unemployment rate that has increased to 9.1%; according to figures released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

The U.S. economy may be in for a prolonged period of soft growth as employers hired the fewest number of workers in eight months in May and the unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 54,000 last month, the Labor Department said, fewer than the most pessimistic forecast in the Reuters survey and just over a third of what economists had expected.

The employment report which showed broad weakness confirmed the loss of momentum in the economy already flagged by other data from consumer spending to manufacturing, and stoked fears the economy could be facing a more troubling stretch of weakness than had been thought.

“There are plenty of reasons to expect the third quarter will be better. But the question is now becoming how much better?,” said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Economists had pinned the economy’s sluggishness largely on high energy prices, supply chain disruptions stemming from Japan’s earthquake and tornadoes and flooding in the U.S. Midwest and South. The department said it found “no clear impact” from weather on the jobs figures.

The private sector, which has shouldered the burden of job creation added just 83,000 jobs, the least since last June, while government payrolls dropped 29,000.

Adding to the gloomy labor market picture, about 39,000 fewer jobs were created in March and April than previously estimated.
Payrolls had been expected to rise 150,000, with private employment gaining 175,000.

“Clean” debt ceiling increase goes down

Last night’s vote on a “clean” increase in the national debt ceiling failed miserably, with only the most liberal Democrats in the House of Representatives voting for it:

The House overwhelmingly voted down an unconditional increase to the $14.3 trillion debt limit Tuesday, as the Republican majority delivered a symbolic rebuke to President Obama ahead of a meeting at the White House.

The vote was 318-97, with 82 Democrats joining every Republican in rejecting legislation that would have authorized $2.4 trillion in additional borrowing by the federal government. Seven Democrats voted present on the legislation.
The lopsided result was expected after Vice President Biden began bipartisan negotiations on a long-term debt-reduction plan, essentially acceding to the GOP demand that an increase in the debt ceiling be paired with fiscal reforms.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) advised Democrats to vote against it, despite a movement inside the caucus to gather votes to pass the increase. Others, including former Obama Administration budget director Peter Orszag, are saying that markets may need to show a panic to get the debt ceiling passed; similar to the atmosphere just before the TARP bailout.

If Congress cannot agree to pass an increase in the debt ceiling, it doesn’t mean the United States is going to face a financial armageddon, as Dean Clancy explains:

Debt ceiling vote expected later today

House Republicans will bring a measure to increase the statutory limit on the nation debt a some point later day or early evening. It’s what the Obama Administration and Democrats want; a clean bill with no spending cuts included.

Nevertheless, it is expected to fail because most Republicans rightly refuse to get behind the idea of allowing Congress to spend more money, but not do anything about spending; which has been the status quo in Washington for years.

If you haven’t already done so, call or write your respresentative in the House and ask them to vote against raising the debt ceiling.

We’ll update after the vote.

Kagan played a role in ObamaCare defense

When it was revealed last month that Justice Elena Kagan didn’t recuse herself from the first brush with ObamaCare at the high court , I wrote that a conflict of interest was hard to deny considering the lawsuits against ObamaCare, which were anticipated as states made their intentions known in advance, came immediately after it became law; while Kagan was serving as solicitor general.

Well, it appears that Kagan did play a role in assisting the Obama Administration defense of the the health care reform law:

Emails between Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and members of the Obama Administration reveal she was more involved with President Obama’s health-care law than was disclosed previously. The documents likely will lead to a revival of questions about whether the Kagan should recuse herself from future cases.

Specifically, the documents show that Kagan was involved with crafting the legal defense of the Affordable Care Act in her role as solicitor general, before her appointment to the bench. The Media Research Center and Judicial Watch obtained the documents through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that was filed in February 2011.

In an email dated Jan. 8, 2010, then-Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal sent an email to Senior Counsel Brian Hauck and Deputy Attorney General Thomas Perrelli that indicates Kagan played a key role in coming up with a legal defense.

“Brian, Elena would definitely like OSG [Office of Solicitor General] to be involved in this set of issues … we will bring Elena as needed.”

In an email on March 21, 2010, Katyal urged Kagan to attend a health-care litigation meeting on defending the law. “I think you should go, no?” wrote Katyal. “I will, regardless, but feel like this is litigation of singular importance.”

Cap-and-trade still a problem for Huntsman

While it’s hard to find a Republican running for president that hasn’t supported cap-and-trade - although most of them have magically changed positions, Jon Huntsman, the former Governor of Utah and US Ambassador to China, still seems to support the concept, according to comments recently made in an interview with Time:

Cap-and-trade ideas aren’t working; it hasn’t worked, and our economy’s in a different place than five years ago. Much of this discussion happened before the bottom fell out of the economy, and until it comes back, this isn’t the moment.

So, “this isn’t the moment”? I guess we’ll wait until the economy improves to try it? Sorry, that’s not good enough. The proposal that has been put forward is not something to be so passive about. It would could cost American families a lot of money. The Obama Administration estimated that it would cost the average family nearly $2,000 a year; or as CBS noted, the “equivalent of hiking personal income taxes by about 15 percent.” The Heritage Foundation gave a much higher figure in terms of average costs over the long-term; nearly $7,000 by 2035.

Even if the economy improves, would you really consider implementing a policy that is clearly going to make energy more expensive? That is the question that Republican voters should be asking Huntsman.

NLRB hands Republicans an good issue in a bad economy

The Obama Administration has handed Republicans a gift thanks to the National Labor Relations Board going after Boeing, the Chicago-based aircraft manufacterer.

For those of you unfamiliar with this story, here is what is going on. Boeing, citing future labor costs and production disruptions due to strikes, decided to build a new plant in South Carolina, a right to work state, instead of at an existing plant in Washington. The local chapter of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers successfully sought help from the NLRB, which is now suing Boeing to prevent the opening of the new plant, possibly killing new jobs in the process.

Meanwhile, Boeing is warning that this action by the NLRB could have very real consequences:

If it succeeds, a suit by the National Labor Relations Board seeking to block Boeing from building airplanes in a non-union facility in South Carolina will set a precedent that could cost hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide, the company’s vice president and general counsel Michael Lutting said at a Senate hearing on Thursday.

Most directly, if Boeing is forced to shut down its new factory, it would kill thousands of jobs in South Carolina. But it would also have wider-ranging effects, Luttig argued in testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

Debt ceiling vote approaching

A vote to increase the debt ceiling, the statutory amount the United States government is permitted to borrow, will happen in Congress at some point in the next week or so. But as that vote approaches, more Republicans are expressing opposition unless that Obama Administration goes along with spending cuts:

A bill to raise the debt limit without spending cuts attached would not get a single Republican vote in the House, the GOP’s top vote-counter said Wednesday.

“I can tell you as the whip, there is not one Republican vote on a negative-debt-limit bill where no cuts are proposed,” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters at a news conference.

While Republicans have demanded significant spending cuts and budget reforms in exchange for authorizing more U.S. borrowing, a majority of the House Democratic caucus has called for a “clean” debt ceiling vote, saying the GOP is holding hostage the full faith and credit of the federal government.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Tuesday the party was still considering holding a clean vote as a way of demonstrating it doesn’t have majority support in the House.

While some Democrats are saying that this is out of the mainstream, the position held by House Republicans is consistent with the views of the American public.There is also a majority in the Senate on record against a “clean” increase in the debt ceiling.

Milage tax floated again by Obama Administration

Even though gas prices have been creeping upward as of late, though they are expected to decline by June, President Barack Obama is again floating an idea to impose a new tax on drivers for the number of miles they drive:

The Obama administration has floated a transportation authorization bill that would require the study and implementation of a plan to tax automobile drivers based on how many miles they drive.

The plan is a part of the administration’s Transportation Opportunities Act, an undated draft of which was obtained this week by Transportation Weekly.

The White House, however, said the bill is only an early draft that was not formally circulated within the administration.

“This is not an administration proposal,” White House spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said. “This is not a bill supported by the administration. This was an early working draft proposal that was never formally circulated within the administration, does not taken into account the advice of the president’s senior advisers, economic team or Cabinet officials, and does not represent the views of the president.”

Release the damned photos of Osama bin Laden

Over the last few days, since the reported death of Osama bin Laden, there has been debate over whether or not the Obama Administration should release photos of the terrorist’s body. CIA Director Leon Panetta said yesterday that it would “ultimately” happen, but would not give a window. The reason for the hold up is the photos are very graphic and the administration is worried that it “could be inflammatory.”

Over at Cato’s blog, David Rittgers argues for quick release of the photos so that we can put a rest to conspiracy theories:

A lot of people are asking whether the White House will release photographic proof of Osama bin Laden’s death. It should. The operation to get OBL has been very successful thus far, including the decisions to conduct a raid instead of a standoff bombing and the burial at sea. The latter avoided a repeat of the race to dig up Che Guevara.

The Case Against ObamaCare

Our friends at the Cato Institute have a released a new white paper outlining the case against President Barack Obama’s signature issue - what we like to call ObamaCare. The white paper explains the Obama Administration’s arguments for the law, the basic constitutional problems with it and prior court precendent. It discusses the limitations on the federal government; and the lackof limitations if this law is allowed to stand.

You can read the white paper below or visit here:

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