Sunday, March 09, 2014

Some Recovery: Two Million Fewer Americans Are Employed Than Were a Year Ago

This is supposed to be the fifth year of an economic “recovery,” but the jobs numbers continue to badly underperform. In February, U.S. employers added 175,000 workers to their payrolls, but that’s still below the 200,000 to 250,000 a month we need to bring down the real unemployment rate and to keep pace with young people entering the workforce.

But the employment anemia is still plaguing the U.S. economy. The labor force participation rate (63 percent) remains stuck at or near its lowest point since the late 1970s when the Bee Gees were the hottest music group in America. Amazingly, there are more than 2 million FEWER Americans in the labor force today than one year ago. Usually recoveries bring more Americans into the workforce.
Another troubling sign: weekly hours worked dipped by 0.2 hours in February. How much the record snow and cold impacted these numbers is yet undetermined.

The number of long term unemployed (six months or more) also rose by 203,000. Americans who lose their jobs are having a very hard time finding new ones.

Since this recovery began, job growth has maintained an underwhelming pace of half the employment growth of the average recovery. If the number of jobs had just kept pace with the growth of food stamps recipients, we would have at least 2 million more Americans working today. If the economy were where Obama promised it would be when he signed his stimulus bill, we would have at least 3 million more jobs and an unemployment rate of 5 percent.

It’s time for the White House to get serious about an aggressive jobs agenda. Right now it isn’t. Its two big ideas, Obamacare and the minimum wage hike, would erase nearly 3 million more jobs.

A pro-jobs agenda would mean suspending Obamacare, cutting tax rates on businesses, ending regulations that choke off jobs – especially in the energy industry – and bringing down government spending and debt to free up private sector resources. For the near 20 million Americans unemployed, underemployed, or out of the labor force, this is no recovery at all.



Democrats Scuttle Radical Obama Nomination

So much for killing the filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) attempt to blow up the chamber's tradition and stack the deck for Barack Obama's leftist nominees was all for naught yesterday when Debo Adegbile's nomination to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice went down in flames. Eight Democrats joined 44 Republicans in voting against cloture to bring Adegbile's vote to the floor. Reid voted no as a procedural move to reserve the right to revisit the matter at a later date, and John Cornyn (R-TX) didn't vote, making the final tally 47-52. Joe Biden hung around to break any potential tie, but it wasn't that close.

Obama declared that “the Senate's failure” to confirm Adegbile “is a travesty. Based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant. Mr. Adegbile's qualifications are impeccable.”

Let's look at those qualifications. Adegbile was involved in the NAACP's legal defense of infamous cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal, a member of the Black Panther Party, had already been rightfully convicted and sentenced to death (later commuted to life in prison) for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner when Adegbile became involved. But he didn't just provide legal representation, he became an advocate. Adegbile, like so many leftists nationwide and abroad, made Abu-Jamal a cause célèbre based on the absurd claim that he was the victim of a racist justice system. In the end, though, he was nothing more than a cold-blooded killer.

(For background on the case, see Arnold Ahlert's excellent recap in Right Opinion.)

Adegbile's political involvement in the Abu-Jamal case was no secret to Obama when he was nominated for the Justice post, but it was also seemingly of no consequence. In fact, Adegbile would have been a perfect fit for the administration's scheme to politicize the Justice Department, while remaking voting laws through selective enforcement to tip the scales in Democrats' favor for years to come. Obama, no doubt assured by Reid, also thought he had this one in the bag. But most of the Democrats who voted against cloture are facing tough re-election prospects this year and didn't want to be seen supporting such a nominee. It's called self-preservation. Perhaps we're jaded, but it's hard to believe that they really thought the president went too far.

Reid and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) immediately took to blaming Republicans, even though it was actually their fellow Democrats who sunk the nomination. Durbin even went so far as to claim that Adegbile's involvement in the Abu-Jamal case “demonstrates his appreciation for the Rule of Law.” This signifies one of the biggest problems Democrats have – they constantly confuse politics with law, trying to trade one for the other whenever it's convenient for their agenda.



Lois Lerner Must be Held in Contempt and Jailed

Lois Lerner, the Obama bureaucrat at the heart of the IRS targeting program, has once again refused to testify on her involvement in the scandal! Even though all the evidence reveals a deliberate attempt to silence the Conservative movement leading up to the 2012 election, and e-mails recovered show that Ms. Lerner played an integral role in the scandal, she still refuses to say a word.

The House Ways and Means Committee, led by Rep. Darrell Issa, has found that all roads lead to Ms. Lerner. E-mails obtained by the committee show that Lois Lerner was absolutely fixated on the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court ruling. For a bit of context, in this ruling, the high court ruled that it is unconstitutional to place monetary caps on how much an organization or corporation can spend on political or issue advocacy.

Citizens United, a conservative lobbying group, wanted originally to air a Hillary Clinton documentary. However, since it would have aired within 30 days of the 2008 Democrat primaries, the FEC barred the organization from this type of “electioneering.” The Supreme Court ultimately struck down the ruling, arguing that since free speech was protected under the First Amendment, and it costs money (in many cases) to engage in speech, these political expenditures were protected under the Constitution.

Liberals HATE this Supreme Court ruling. They absolutely despise it. No, not because they oppose the idea of tax exempt organizations contributing to the political process. If they did, that would mean the end to unions supporting candidates, since labor unions are also tax exempt groups. The Democrats despise the Citizens United ruling because it opens the playing field for conservative organizations to participate in politics as well!

The evidence is overwhelming

In 2010, Lois Lerner told a Duke University group that the “Supreme Court dealt a huge blow, overturning a 100-year-old precedent that basically corporations couldn’t give directly to political campaigns. Everyone is up in arms because they don’t like it. The FEC can’t do anything about it. They want the IRS to fix the problem.”

When asked who wanted the IRS to fix the problem, Ms. Lerner refused to comment.

In February 2011, Lois Lerner sent an email saying that the Tea Party matter was “very dangerous” and “could be the vehicle to go to court on the issue of whether Citizens United overturning the ban on corporate spending applies to tax exempt rules.”

When asked what she meant when she said the Tea Party cases were “very dangerous” she pleaded the Fifth.

In other correspondences, Ms. Lerner told colleagues that it was important to make sure the targeting did not appear to be a “per say, political project” and she ordered that Tea Party cases undergo a multi-tier review. Rep. Issa also asked Ms. Lerner to clarify whether Barack Obama was correct to assert that there wasn’t a “smidgen of corruption” in this IRS targeting scandal.

When asked about all three of these comments, Lois Lerner responded that she was asserting her Fifth Amendment right to decline to answer these questions.

The Fifth Amendment is an absolutely crucial part of the Bill of Rights. It ensures that no American can ever be individually compelled to incriminate him or herself.

The problem is that Lois Lerner and the Democrats are trying to have their cake and eat it too.

If Barack Obama was right to assert that there wasn’t even a “smidgen of corruption” in the IRS decision to target Conservative groups, then Lois Lerner should have no reason to invoke the Fifth. If she did nothing wrong, as Obama argues, then there is nothing she could possible incriminate herself for…

But, if Lois Lerner believes that she could incriminate herself with her testimony, then Barack Hussein Obama has lied to the American people again!

The Democrats can’t have it both ways! They can’t say that Lois Lerner committed no crime while simultaneously saying that she, as a public official, has a right to avoid self-incrimination! In the end, this is just an obstructionist tactic used by the Democrats to stonewall the investigation during an election year.

Luckily, there are ways to compel witness testimony, and Congress must use every asset at its disposal to force Lois Lerner to reveal the truth!

Many are suggesting that House Republicans should offer Lois Lerner immunity. This is absolutely the wrong way to go. If Lois Lerner has committed a crime and contributed to stealing the election, she should pay for her actions.

The Obama Administration has gone into full-scale cover-up mode. Not only has the IRS refused to obey a lawful subpoena to hand over Ms. Lerner’s e-mail records, but one has to wonder whether the Administration is involved in silencing her… Obama’s Justice Department, headed by Eric Holder, refuses to really investigate the matter. While the Administration claims the investigation is almost complete, to date the DOJ has yet to interview a single victim of the IRS targeting!

The House of Representatives must hold Lois Lerner in Contempt of Congress! Coincidentally, the last person held in Contempt of Congress was Attorney General Eric Holder. Congress voted to hold him in contempt for refusing to hand over documents pertaining to Operation Fast and Furious. Eric Holder was never arrested, and it is doubtful whether Congress would have been able to arrest him, but Lois Lerner is a completely different story.

Congress must vote to hold Lois Lerner in contempt to compel her testimony. Congress must order the Sergeant-in-Arms to arrest Ms. Lerner and imprison her in the Capitol Jail. Yes, there is a Capitol Jail.

In the 1821 case, Anderson v. Dunn, the Supreme Court affirmed that Congress does have the power to imprison individuals held in contempt. In 1857, Congress passed a law making Contempt of Congress a criminal offense.

Lois Lerner must be thrown in jail until she agrees to testify! We are not talking about a civilian… we are talking about a former bureaucrat who held a position of power at the Internal Revenue Service and used her authority to punish the political opposition and prevent political participation during an election year!

Whether Lois Lerner likes it or not, she answers to the American people!

The American people must let their voices be heard and force Congress to hold Ms. Lerner in Contempt! We must force Congress to recognize that there can be no justice for the groups targeted by the IRS without Lois Lerner’s testimony.

If Barack Obama is right, and there truly wasn’t any corruption, then Ms. Lerner’s invocation of the Fifth Amendment is unnecessary. But if she truly does possess damning information, then Barack Hussein Obama is a liar.



The Failed 'War on Poverty' at 50

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released a 204-page report this week that thoroughly examines the federal government's long-standing welfare programs. “Fifty years ago,” he says, “President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty. Since then, Washington has created dozens of programs and spent trillions of dollars. But few people have stopped to ask, 'Are they working?'” His report, “The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later,” seeks to answer that question. It stops short of making any new policy proposals, but instead is meant, as Ryan said, to “help start the conversation” on the effectiveness of the government's welfare efforts. As one might expect, the findings don't offer much in the way of good news.

There are some 92 programs that make up the “safety net,” totaling $799 billion in spending in 2012. There is “little to no coordination” among programs, but there is plenty of costly duplication. The report goes on to note that Medicaid enrollees are actually in poorer health and use more services than people who have private health insurance plans, or even no insurance at all. Additionally, the food stamp program hasn't moved the needle in a positive direction for poor families, and Head Start is a failure at preparing low-income kids for school. What we're left with, then, is a half-century of accumulated debt and untold millions of ruined lives. But at least we know the government “cares.”

Naturally, Ryan's report came under swift attack from the Left, which always stands ready to defend its entitlement cash cows from that two-headed monster otherwise known as reason and accountability. One media outlet, the Fiscal Times, was so eager to discredit the report that it accused Ryan of mischaracterizing the work of one economist – an economist who told the reporter covering the story that he was fairly represented in the report. Dr. Jeffrey Brown wrote the reporter to clarify the record, but we're certain his comments won't be as widely reported as the Fiscal Times' flat-out falsehood.

Many leftist economists have happily worked the fields for Big Government for years, using their exalted status in academia to squelch any attempt at a debate they would surely lose on the merits. They want to confiscate the money of one group to comfort another group because they see that as a solution to society's ills. Ryan, speaking at CPAC yesterday, challenged this notion: “That's what the Left just doesn't understand. People don't just want a life of comfort; they want a life of dignity – of self-determination. … The party that speaks to that desire, that tries to make it concrete and real, that's the party that will win in November.” Here's hoping his GOP cohorts hear that message.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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