Obama administration

Romer leaves Administration, claims country avoided a depression

In a farewell speech given yesterday, Christina Romer said that the United States averted a depression thanks to actions taken by the Obama Administration:

Christina Romer, the departing chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, is to say in a farewell speech today that the administration’s responses to the economic crisis it inherited averted “a second Great Depression” and kindled a slow recovery, according to excerpts released on Wednesday morning by the White House.

Ms. Romer’s last day as a member of Mr. Obama’s economic team, and its only leading woman, is Friday, which coincides with the release of unemployment figures for August that are expected to show joblessness still hovering above 9 percent. And she returns to California in a campaign season in which Republicans insist, and many voters believe, that administration policies have failed, despite nonpartisan analyses to the contrary.
[…]
“I am proud of the recovery actions we have taken. I believe they have made the difference between a second Great Depression and a slow but genuine recovery,” Ms. Romer will say, according to her speech draft. “And the passage of health care reform and financial regulatory reform are accomplishments that will be with us long after the recession is over.”

As the Wall Street Journal noted back in July, there is no way to know what would have happened without the bilions upon billions of “stimulus” dollars pumped into the economy, which haven’t done much other than drive up budget deficits:

GOP plans to investigate Obama Administration

Should Republicans regain control of the House of Representatives this fall, Politico reports that we should expect investigations into the Obama Administration on a wide range of issues:

If President Barack Obama needed any more incentive to go all out for Democrats this fall, here it is: Republicans are planning a wave of committee investigations targeting the White House and Democratic allies if they win back the majority.

Everything from the microscopic — the New Black Panther party — to the massive –- think bailouts — is on the GOP to-do list, according to a half-dozen Republican aides interviewed by POLITICO.

Republican staffers say there won’t be any self-destructive witch hunts, but they clearly are relishing the prospect of extracting information from an administration that touts transparency.

And a handful of aggressive would-be committee chairmen — led by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas) — are quietly gearing up for a possible season of subpoenas not seen since the Clinton wars of the late 1990s.

Issa would like Obama’s cooperation, says Kurt Bardella, spokesman for the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. But it’s not essential.

“How acrimonious things get really depend on how willing the administration is in accepting our findings [and] responding to our questions,” adds Bardella, who refers to his boss as “questioner-in-chief.”

Barack Obama: The Greatest Gift To The Freedom Movement Ever

A new video from Reason examines how the Obama Administration has helped bring the libertarian electorate, and libertarian ideas, to the forefront of American politics:

Are we really leaving Iraq?

By now you’ve heard that the last combat troops have left Iraq, two weeks early, in fact, ending a seven year war that left 4,417 American soldiers dead and another 31,882 wounded. The United States will leave advisors in the country for the forseeable future.

So, is this really the end of combat operations in Iraq? Over at the Washington Post, Kenneth Pollack weighs the claim, as well as some other myths:

Of the roughly 50,000 American military personnel who remain in Iraq, the majority are still combat troops — they’re just named something else. The major units still in Iraq will no longer be called “brigade combat teams” and instead will be called “advisory and assistance brigades.” But a rose by any other name is still a rose, and the differences in brigade structure and personnel are minimal.

American troops in Iraq will still go into harm’s way. They will still accompany Iraqi units on combat missions — even if only as “advisers.” American pilots will still fly combat missions in support of Iraqi ground forces. And American special forces will still face off against Iraqi terrorist groups in high-intensity operations. For that reason, when American troops leave their bases in Iraq, they will still, almost invariably, be in full “battle rattle” and ready for a fight.

There are reasons for optimism, but there are also plenty of reasons to be very cautious in this news. Despite the hype, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. We’re going to be in Iraq for a long time. Americans would much rather someone be honest with them about this fact rather than constantly be told half-truths.

Administration not ruling out energy bill during a lame duck session

The Obama Administration isn’t ruling out pushing an energy bill during a lame-duck session, after the mid-term election:

In an exclusive interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” [Carol] Browner was asked whether the president has conceded defeat on energy legislation.

“Not yet,” Browner said. “The Congress is coming back and we will continue to see if we can get legislation. We passed it in the House and we will continue to work in the Senate.”

Asked if Democrats could potentially get it done in a lame-duck session, Browner responded, “Potentially.”

The bill is scaled down compared to the cap-and-trade bill, but still would negatively impact the economy, especially in the Gulf region. The problem there will be no accountability if Congress passes this bill, especially as Democrats faces what could be a 1994-style wave against them at the ballot box in November.

For their part, Republicans are trying to block Democrats from being able to call Congress back for a lame duck session:

Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Rep. Tom Price (Ga.) introduced the privileged resolution last Thursday in response to reports that Democratic leaders told their base that they could move big-ticket legislation after the November elections and before the new Congress convenes in January.

Price explained that his resolution says that a lame-duck session should not occur unless there were to be a national emergency.

Judge Napolitano On Wikileaks: The Government Needs To Be Exposed Because The Government Lies To You

This is pretty much how I feel about the Wikileaks story:

Romer to leave Obama Administration

Speculation broke that last night that Christina Romer, the White House chief economic advisor, plans to leave the Obama Administration:

Romer, an economics professor at the University of California (Berkeley) before taking the key admin post, did not respond to repeated calls to her office.

“She has been frustrated,” a source with insight into the WH economics team said. “She doesn’t feel that she has a direct line to the president. She would be giving different advice than Larry Summers [director of the National Economic Council], who does have a direct line to the president.”

“She is ostensibly the chief economic adviser, but she doesn’t seem to be playing that role,” the source said. The WH has been pounded for its faulty forecast that unemployment would not top 8% after its economic stimulus proposal passed.

Instead, the jobless rate is 9.5%, after exceeding 10% last year. It was “a horribly inaccurate forecast,” said Bert Ely, a banking consultant. “You have to wonder why Summers isn’t the one that should be taking the fall. But Larry is a pretty good bureaucratic infighter.”

Romer was one of the architects of President Barack Obama’s stimulus program, which was the first step in Democrats effectively taking ownership of the economy.

President Barack Obama and his economic advisors claimed that this spending would keep unemployment under 8% (pg. 5), claiming that it would rise to 9% without such action. As of today, the unemployment rate sits at 9.5%.

BREAKING: Judge denies motion to dismiss ObamaCare lawsuit

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson has denied the Obama Administration’s motion to dismiss in Virginia’s challenge on the constitutionality of ObamaCare:

Virginia’s lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s health care reform law cleared its first legal hurdle Monday as a federal judge ruled the law raises a host of complex constitutional issues.

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson’s decision stemmed from Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s claims that Congress exceeded its authority under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause by requiring citizens to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.

Hudson’s ruling denied the Justice Department’s attempt to have the lawsuit dismissed.

“The mere existence of the lawfully-enacted statute is sufficient to trigger the duty of the Attorney General of Virginia to defend the law and the associated sovereign power to enact it,” Hudson wrote. “Unquestionably, this regulation radically changes the landscape of health insurance coverage in America.”
[…]
Hudson said Virginia’s case raises several complex constitutional issues — mainly whether Congress has the right to regulate and tax a person’s decision not to participate in interstate commerce.

In the opinion, which you can read here, Hudson writes:

Never before has the Commerce Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause been extended this far. At this juncture, the court is not persuaded that the Secretary has demonstrated a failure to state a cause of action with respect to the Commerce Clause element.

“Texas Tea” Party

The title is deceptive because I’m not talking about the tea party rallies that have sprung up across the nation. No, I’m refering to a protest that took place yesterday in LaFayette, Louisiana to fight back against the oil drilling moratorium that the Obama Administration has put in place:

Thousands attended a rally in Lafayette Wednesday aimed at convincing the Obama administration to lift the federal offshore drilling moratorium, which officials said could further endanger the state through the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

The “Rally for Economic Survival” was held at the Cajundome and drew about 11,000 people, some dressed in their oil industry uniforms, others in shirts bearing messages of “Drill Baby Drill” and “No Moratorium.”

The event attracted national media attention and featured elected leaders from the local, state and federal level.

Lt. Gov. Scott Angelle served as master of ceremonies and fired up an already lively crowd, proclaiming that “it is time to quit punishing innocent American workers to achieve some unrealistic political agenda.”

Gov. Bobby Jindal, one of 12 speakers at the two-hour event, pleaded with President Barack Obama to “let our people work.”

There is reason to protest. According to a new study, the moratorium will only add insult to a region that has suffered so much over the last several years:

WSJ slams Obama Administration on stimulus

The Wall Street Journal is less than impressed with the performance of the stimulus package passed last year and the rhetoric used by the Obama Administration to defend it:

We almost feel sorry for Ms. Romer having to make this argument given that since February 2009 the U.S. economy has lost a net 2.35 million jobs. Using the White House “created or saved” measure means that even if there were only three million Americans left with jobs today, the White House could claim that every one was saved by the stimulus.

The White House also naturally insists that things would be much worse without the stimulus billions spent on the likes of Medicaid payments, high speed rail projects, unemployment benefits and windmills. Mr. Obama said recently in Racine, Wisconsin that the economy “would have been a lot worse” and the unemployment rate would have gone to “12 or 13, or 15 [percent]” if government hadn’t spent all of that money.

This is called a counterfactual: a what would have happened scenario that can’t be refuted. What we do know is what White House economists at the time said would happen if the stimulus didn’t pass. They said the unemployment rate would peak at 9% without the stimulus (there’s your counterfactual) and that with the stimulus the rate would stay at 8% or below. (See the nearby chart.) In other words, today there are 700,000 fewer jobs than Ms. Romer predicted we would have if we had done nothing at all. If this is a job creation success, what does failure look like?


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