Of all the sounded-clever-but-was-actually-idiotic things Obama said in the State of the Union address, this was the most cleverly-sounding-but-really-stupid:
And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.
As I said, sounds clever. A bunch of liberals in my Twitter feed said the equivalent of, “Oh, snap!” But the reality is that you’re not supposed to be raising a family on minimum wage. Minimum wage is an entry level wage, a wage to get your foot in the door for future better-paying jobs. I made minimum wage once. Actually, I made less than minimum wage because I was paid in cash under the table. But I was a teenager, so it was fine.
The biggest reason to oppose the minimum wage, of course, is the Law of Supply and Demand. If you artificially set the price of something high (low-skill labor), you will find that people learn to live without it (i.e., they stop hiring people). We’ve been told this is a myth, despite clear evidence that it’s not. Well, here’s another example of this thing that supposedly never happens:
In November, San Francisco voters overwhelmingly passed a measure that will increase the minimum wage within the city to $15 per hour by 2018. Although all of us at Borderlands support the concept of a living wage in principal and we believe that it’s possible that the new law will be good for San Francisco — Borderlands Books as it exists is not a financially viable business if subject to that minimum wage. Consequently we will be closing our doors no later than March 31st. The cafe will continue to operate until at least the end of this year.
Many businesses can make adjustments to allow for increased wages. The cafe side of Borderlands, for example, should have no difficulty at all. Viability is simply a matter of increasing prices. And, since all the other cafes in the city will be under the same pressure, all the prices will float upwards. But books are a special case because the price is set by the publisher and printed on the book. Furthermore, for years part of the challenge for brick-and-mortar bookstores is that companies like Amazon.com have made it difficult to get people to pay retail prices. So it is inconceivable to adjust our prices upwards to cover increased wages.
The change in minimum wage will mean our payroll will increase roughly 39%. That increase will in turn bring up our total operating expenses by 18%. To make up for that expense, we would need to increase our sales by a minimum of 20%. We do not believe that is a realistic possibility for a bookstore in San Francisco at this time.
I will point out something else that they gloss over. It’s true that businesses like the cafe side of Borderlands can cover the minimum wage hike by increasing prices. But you know who pays those increasing prices? Primarily poor and middle class people who go to the kind of places — fast food restaurants, cheap bookstores, etc. — that pay their employees minimum wage. So you’re giving them money with one hand while taking it with the other.
This is a liberal bookstore ownership. That’s clear from the way they talk about this. But they point out that the minimum wage hike will increase their operating costs by 18%. Other business will see similar hikes. Do you know how many business are operating at an 18% profit margin? Very very few. And certainly none that are patronized by the poor and middle class.
Minimum wage hikes sound good and make liberals feel good. But they are a nightmare for the job market. If you don’t believe me, believe the guys at Borderlands. They have no reason to spew “right wing propaganda”.
One of the main reasons I was glad that the GOP took both house of Congress in the last election is that now Republicans will chair the various sub committees. A residual benefit is that congress critters (Harry Reid) will not be able to derail the process, run interference for the president, or sit on legislation that deserves at the very least a passing purview. But back to the sub committees, congress will now be allowed to remove itself from the personal bidding of the president and actually do it’s job, separately as was intended. With the GOP at the helm, the administration will not be allowed to sweep things under the carpet or hinder any attempt at fact finding. Although the president and his supplicants have turned manipulation and subterfuge into an art form, it is encouraging to know that folks like Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton, and Lois Lerner should not get too comfy or complacent, retribution (hopefully) is inching toward fruition.
A GOP packed Senate Armed Services committee will make it even harder for Obama to fulfill a 2009 promise that still gnaws at him, closing Gitmo. Even McCain has seen the light;
Just last month, Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) promised to help Obama close the detention center where terrorism suspects have been held for years without being charged. But on Tuesday, McCain and three other Republican colleagues introduced plans to sharply restrict the removal or transfer of detainees from the facility, which has served as a long-standing target of worldwide criticism.
Although it has not been for lack of trying. And no, we will not forget about the 5 high level AQ terrorists traded for the cowardly deserter, or allow them to delay the out come indefinitely. The final report is finished and from what I have read, desertion charges will be filed. Although I don’t expect Bergdahl to serve a single day behind bars, a conclusion to this whole sordid affair is owed, both to his fellow soldiers and the rest of the nation. And a further delay, orchestrated by WH pressure on the pentagon, should not be allowed to stand.
And speaking of Gitmo;
Tom Cotton just achieved Trey Gowdy status.
My opinion of Gitmo has evolved a bit over the years, not because of it’s need or relevancy in caging terrorists, but as with pretty much everything with Obama, we spend way too much money keeping these vermin housed. We all heard about the multi million dollar soccer field, the lavish buffets offered at every meal, and the palatial digs they use for their worship services. Whatever happened to prisoners making little rocks out of big ones, and eating only when they work? This Mottle Coddling of killers is infuriating.
I am starting to doubt the efficacy of keeping any bases open in Cuba and if a better (cheaper) solution can be found for housing captured terrorists, I am willing to listen. But for now Gitmo stays open for business, and bring on a top to bottom analysis of the costs. Prison should be a hardship, this should not be Clubmed.
And by “That”, I mean anything that undermines their centrally planned, leviathan owned, healthcare system destroying, economy crushing Obamacare scheme. The agenda is after all to destroy the healthcare system as we know it in the US so they can then peddle the single payer system they want. So the new republican proposal that actually would make changes to that wouldn’t destroy the healthcare system and the country economically will both be demonized and undermined to make sure it won’t interfere.
Thursday, we are unveiling our vision of policies that would strengthen our health care system while reducing federal spending and taxes. The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment (CARE) Act outlines specific ideas that could replace Obamacare with more choices and higher quality, while protecting those with pre-existing conditions.
And that is why democrats want it to be DOA and will do everything to derail it. Not a fucking chance in the world that they would want something that actually fixes any of the problems they have managed to exacerbate with Obamacare. It undermines their powergrab and would make it obvious that’s what Obamacare was all about once it is implemented and works.
First, our plan would lower health care costs by empowering millions of lower and middle-income families with a refundable tax credit to purchase private health care coverage of their choice. They would no longer be subject to an individual mandate and limited to Washington-approved plans. Workers for small businesses would be eligible, too.
WTF? No central planning? No government meddling and use of force to comply? More importantly, you remove the politician’s ability to get their hands on money they let people borrow and deny them the ability to play with those people’s lives if they refuse to comply? Who is going to make sure insurance companies only make the profits that their masters in government fell are OK, huh? That’s insane!
By scrapping dozens of mandates, we estimate premiums would drop, on average, by double digits. We’d also reverse harmful changes that limited consumers’ ability to save and manage spending through health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts, and we’d encourage small-business insurance plans to give smaller employers better and more affordable options.
Are you fucking insane? Low premiums only help people, not the power hungry nanny state politicians! And why would you ever want to trust people to manage their money? Without the threat of force from government they will make the wrong choices, don’t you know? Affordability is something, according to Gruber in his rare moments of telling the truth, that you pretend you are giving people, but it is of no concern. Did the CBO even score this bad plan? What was the fixed/rigged system you gave them to make it look palatable, huh? We had a doozy when we got them to score Obamacare and make it look good. WTF do you have?
This sort of nonsense is what I expect to hear from them and their lackeys in the LSM. They will then follow it with the “But what about the poor people denied because of preexisting conditions that used to not be covered?”. Well:
What our plan would not allow is a return to the days before Obamacare when insurance companies turned away patients simply because they were sick.
Under our proposal, no patient could be denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition. We create a new “continuous coverage protection,” and if you change your job and buy a plan on your own, we would provide protections so you could not be denied coverage or be forced to pay a higher premium because of a pre-existing condition.
We would also ban insurance companies from imposing lifetime limits on a consumer, and we’d adopt age-rating changes, which lower costs for younger Americans. Individuals could stay on their parents’ health plan up to age 26, unless a state chose otherwise.
Oh snap! You have to wonder – no you don’t: I am being facetious – why the democrats didn’t do that and only that if they really cared about these people. People who because of the way Obamacare is set up can’t be denied but now can’t afford the care because of cost. Again: Obamacare was never about making healthcare affordable or available. It was about letting government get its hands on the money and decision making process, with the end game of crashing the existing system and then coming to the rescue with a single payer system they would otherwise never be able to sell anyone. It was just another giant wealth transfer scheme pretending to be something else.
Not only would our policies lower costs for patients, they would be good medicine for taxpayers. By scrapping Obamacare’s Washington-centered approach, we estimate our proposal would cut more than $1 trillion in taxes and reduce federal spending by hundreds of billions of dollars. All of Obamacare’s taxes would be scrapped, including the medical device tax, health insurance tax, pharmaceutical tax and other taxes masked as mandate fees.
In the coming months, the Supreme Court will hear and decide an important case regarding the president’s health care law, King v. Burwell. The justices should uphold the rule of law by overturning the administration’s unlawful decision to tax and spend through the federal exchanges. If they do so, we believe modifying and adopting some of the ideas outlined in our proposal could provide a path toward minimizing the disruption experienced by consumers.
Faster please. Kill this idiotic shit before it destroys the healthcare system and plunges the economy into an even more depressed state. Of course, getting this passed will be a monumental task, because the left will never admit that Obamacare is bad policy and that they had an agenda that wouldn’t be possible if it goes away.
That Iran’s claim that the desperate pussies in the Obama administration are again acting like the pussies collectivist tend to always be, and then for clearly craven political reasons, is absolutely true. This administration is going to eventually be seen, when the historians finally actually get to look at the things they did, as one of the biggest failures ever. No amount of revisionist history, media cover for their fellow collectivists, or even sycophantic pandering by people willing to line up and suck Obama cock, just because of their “My Team,” feelings, will change that reality. They are desperate for something – anything – to show they are not the abject failures they are. Hence the constant stupidity and the dangerous display of absolute incompetence and weakness that leads to things like this. yeah, I bet they are begging Iran for a bone. Any bone.
I am going to rub it in. Back when the fucking leftards were telling us all how stupid Boosh’s cowboy diplomacy was and that what we needed was mature and capable collectivists to take over to fix things, I pointed out this was all bullshit. Leftards suck at foreign policy precisely because they hold such a high opinion of themselves that they believe they can do not just the improbable, but the impossible. Most people don’t remember the incompetence of the Carter years. Carter thought his good intentions and his willingness to do what feelers on the left think is the right thing would garner him the support of people not just with their own agenda, but of evil people. That’s why he was so butt-hurt when the Russians went into Afghanistan. Brezhnev had after all promised him that the USSR wouldn’t do that! Carter was a moron. And the bulk of people that share his idiotic and naive beliefs – which pretty much amounts to all collectivists and the democratic party as a singular entity these days – world view are always going to not only be surprised by the wolves in sheep’s clothing, but end up on the short end of any deal. Always.
Obama however has been far worse than Carter was. His administration has not only been more than willing to drop to their knees to suck the cocks of people that are clearly our enemies, but they have treated our allies, especially those that were considered our closest ones, with scorn and disdain on top of that. I have said it before and will say it again: At the risk of insulting amateurs, this administration’s foreign policy, and for that matter anything else other than their agenda to destroy the country, is amateur hour at the freak show. Not that these idiots will ever get called on it until long from now when historian take a look at the shit that went down and the damage it has caused will we finally understand how bad they were/are.
Take a good look at that graph above. The WSJ created that graph to show how interest payments on US debt will balloon as interest rates finally adjust. The fact of the matter is that our government has kept interest rates artificially low, through a slew of costly tricks, schemes, and scams, in order to keep interest payments low. And their success is debatable. They had to right the interest index, by removing the cost of fuel and food, while throwing billions at the problem in the form of QE and other such stupid schemes, to prevent the interest payment from going over $200 billion a year.
These government games have wrecked the economy and caused serious harm to the middle class, which has been punished for doing the right things. This all has happened while these programs have made the already rich richer and transferred a ton of wealth from the middle class to those that vote for a living. There is a class war going on in the US, but the left has targeted the middle class in order to expand their voter base: the non-productive. But let them keep borrowing despite the fact they are expecting an unprecedented windfall.
Our problem is twofold. First off, we have a shitty economy. Despite whatever they tell you that the numbers represent, the truth is that most new jobs are going to illegals, with over 18 million illegals now flooding our job market, and the 5.6% unemployment rate is a gross exaggeration that masks how bad things really are. If there was any reality to the claim of steady job growth and low unemployment, consumer spending wouldn’t be at its lowest since 2009 and there wouldn’t be a gloomy view of the future. But them is the facts.
Secondly, we fucking spend too much, mostly because the political class wants to buy votes from people impacted by the damage caused by the legislation enacted as a result of the vote buying agenda. Socialist paradises always end up with the same play book and results, and we are heading that way. We need to get spending under control, and the only way that happens is if we cock-block the vote buying schemes. Time is running out on us, and we have a choice between the people that think the answer is a bigger economy and less government spending, especially to improve the quality of life of people not working in the first place at the expense of the middleclass and those working, and those that feel the problem is government and government spending isn’t big enough because people are keeping too much of the government’s money.
The strange thing about the 2014 election is that Obama seems to have taken it as a mandate … for more liberal polices. In addition to unilateral immigration “reform”, he has just released his budget proposal, which has massive tax hikes and spending hikes, no hint of entitlement reform and claims it will find $640 billion in deficit reduction (a paltry amount over the time frame) from tax hikes, immigration reform and, I believe, money imported from Narnia. It’s a fantasy budget that is making the hard-core liberals at Vox swoon but has connection to reality. And it puts the lie to the idea that Obama is a “conservative” as one newly-retired blogger has argued.
Here’s the thing, though. Liberals have long said that what they favor is a European-style welfare state (such as the one that imploded in Greece). Obama says this and his budget makes noises in this direction and is being praised as a step in that direction.
But the Democrats do not want a European welfare state. As much as they claim they do, that’s not what they want and not what they are advocating. If they really wanted a welfare state, they would be proposing something very different: huge tax hikes on the middle class.
The United States has one of the most progressive tax systems in the world, being very reliant on the wealthy for revenue. The European welfare states, by contrast, are more regressive, having flatter taxes and relying on VATs and sales taxes that are regressive. They have to be that way because you simply can’t finance a welfare state by taxing the 1%.
A welfare state financed by the rich doesn’t even work politically. When everyone is paying taxes, there is more support for a welfare state because everyone is pitching in. The perception is that you’re getting out something related to what you paid in, which is why Social Security and Medicare are popular in this country (both financed by a regressive tax that is denounced by Democrats for not soaking the rich enough). But a system that is dependent on taxing the rich isn’t a welfare state, it’s a plunder state. And as I’ve pointed out before, most people don’t want that. They don’t want to feel like they’re living on someone else’s dime or on stolen property. The Communists discovered this 70 years ago when they tried to “redistribute” estates to the commoners only to discover that the commoners didn’t want that wealth if it was stolen.
The gripping hand, of course, is that there isn’t any support for a huge middle-class-funded welfare state either, which Vermont discovered when they had to abandon their experiment in single-payer healthcare. And so the Democrats keep trying to sneak their welfare state through the backdoor. First it was taxes on the savings in 529 plans, which was quickly killed. Now it’s a tax on overseas earnings. Tomorrow, it will be more sin taxes.
(And if that fails, I expect them to embrace Modern Monetary Theory, currently being pushed by Bernie Sanders. This theory says that government shouldn’t worry about deficits; it can just print money. Taxes only exist to keep the rich from getting too rich. Seriously, that’s what it says. It’s like a politician’s wet dream: spend whatever you like and never worry about the bills.)
Thankfully, none of this is going to fly with the Republican Congress. But Obama’s absurd tax-and-spend proposal is a sign that we are still running out of other people’s money.
Because of the controlled and lying media in the US, which is both scrutinized and attacked by the people in power if they don’t play ball with the left and this administration, we are forced to get the facts about how fucked up things are elsewhere. Most of the time we are only able to glean the facts through the miasma of smoke & mirrors created by the LSM from the foreign press. Especially when we are talking about the economy or the economic impact of the shit done by the statists currently in charge. Case in point, and article of all things in Al Jazeera, pointing out the effects of the past six years of social justice policies by the Obama administration and the left:
The first data on 2013 incomes show continuing bad news for Americans, my analysis of a new Internal Revenue Service report shows.
Average income fell 2.6 percent in 2013, even though the economy grew 3.2 percent in real terms over 2012.
Average inflation-adjusted income in 2013 was 8 percent lower than in 2007, the last peak economic year, and 6.9 percent less than in 2000, the year President George W. Bush set as the standard to evaluate the effect of his tax cuts and regulatory policies.
This is the latest sign of a disturbing trend. An ever-shrinking share of national income flows to individuals while corporate profits expand.
Yeah, you might want to take this with a grain of salt because the report is compiled by a politically motivated attack dog of this administration that has been proven to target and attack the enemies of the state and has an agenda. And Al Jazeera, despite the fact that it was dumped by Al Gore the climate warrior to a conglomerate of oil men, also suffers from some credibility problems because of its usual anti-American agenda. But the truth is that we can glean most of these details that back up how terribly unjust these “social justices” schemes and scams the left engages in, for profit, by ourselves, and with just a little bit of research. The leftists love big business and hate small business, and the actions of the last 6 years show that. It is nothing more than that whole central planning shit that worked so well for communist countries rearing its ugly head with our credentialed elite class. The leftists in charge have pissed away trillions of tax payer dollars pursuing this unicorn, and things are worse than they were before, especially for the middle class, which they absolutely want to eliminate in their vision of what an utopian society should look like.
TARP, for example, was nothing but an attempt to keep afloat those companies that because of a couple of decades of horrible politically motivated legislations and behind the scenes encouragement to engage in horribly stupid and risky lending practices, followed by government assisted laundering of the bad paper tied to these politically motivated schemes and scams, got in huge financial trouble when the house of cards came crumbling down. Tax payers footed the bill for the obvious consequence that indubitably always follow in the wake of social engineering attempts like this one. That was accompanied by the left, under the pretense of to wanting to fix the problem they caused in the first place, and in the most self serving way possible, producing a slew of new legislation that did nothing to address the fundamental underlying problem, only to then come full circle again. Tax payers better be ready to have another trillion dollar or more bill served to them, some time in the not too distant future, to correct for the same problem that caused the previous meltdown.
Then we had the trillion dollar Porkulus bill that served to do nothing more than funnel a shit-ton of money these crooks stole from the productive to democrat friends, activists, causes, or donors. From fucking over investors in favor of their union buddies at GM to pissing away billions on shitty green projects that went nowhere, many connected democrats and democrat friends made oodles of money, often at the expense of others. Democrat politicians were then richly rewarded for that largess with fat donation checks. A ton of criminal shit happened too – check out old New Jersey’s governor Jon Corazine and how a big donation to the Obama administration let him get away with the crime of the century – and is still going on. Big money pissed away making democrat élites and their connected buddies rich.
And let us not forget Obamacare, which is by far the best example of how fucked up these “social justice” scams are, and was only passed by lying to the public at large about what the real intent was. In a nutshell, Obamacare boils down to the crooks in government that want to destroy healthcare in America – so they can finally force the single payer system they can’t get otherwise on us – getting in a temporary arrangement with the very same evil insurance industry companies they blamed for the need to this shit for in the first place. How is that working out for you, huh? Stupid and envious idiots that bought the lies about other people – particularly the rich – paying for this, are now all shocked that they are the ones getting slammed in the ass with the costs. And the high price all comes with very little to show for. Wait until this mess plays itself out to see how much damage it will do to the middle class.
I can go on and on about how horrible things are for everyone but the liberal elite and their connected friends, but you should get the picture by now. That is, unless you are one of the true believers of this collectivist bullshit cult’s “social justice” nonsense. My one consolation is, unless you happen to be one of the lucky freeloaders, that the damage being done is fucking you envious collectivist a-holes over just as hard as it is me. And even the free loaders are going to be screwed by the left’s desire to fuck us over with millions of illegal immigrants they hope will become good democrat voters in return for tax payer provided largesse.
At least my 401(k) is soaring for now because of this unholy union between the collectivists and the big business conglomerates. The problem is that might not last long either considering that these collectivists already are trying to raid the savings of the middle class to keep their unicorn on life support for a little longer.
The lesson here is that “social justice”, like many other such collectivist buzz words, is really code for criminal behavior.
Andrew Sullivan has announced that’s he retiring:
Why? Two reasons. The first is one I hope anyone can understand: although it has been the most rewarding experience in my writing career, I’ve now been blogging daily for fifteen years straight (well kinda straight). That’s long enough to do any single job. In some ways, it’s as simple as that. There comes a time when you have to move on to new things, shake your world up, or recognize before you crash that burn-out does happen.
The second is that I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again. I’m a human being before I am a writer; and a writer before I am a blogger, and although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have helped pioneer a genuinely new form of writing, I yearn for other, older forms. I want to read again, slowly, carefully. I want to absorb a difficult book and walk around in my own thoughts with it for a while. I want to have an idea and let it slowly take shape, rather than be instantly blogged. I want to write long essays that can answer more deeply and subtly the many questions that the Dish years have presented to me. I want to write a book.
I want to spend some real time with my parents, while I still have them, with my husband, who is too often a ‘blog-widow’, my sister and brother, my niece and nephews, and rekindle the friendships that I have simply had to let wither because I’m always tied to the blog. And I want to stay healthy. I’ve had increasing health challenges these past few years. They’re not HIV-related; my doctor tells me they’re simply a result of fifteen years of daily, hourly, always-on-deadline stress. These past few weeks were particularly rough – and finally forced me to get real.
Whatever one may think of Sullivan, he has been a major force in blogging for 15 years. Putting up dozens of posts a day, linking to dozens of different points of view with over a million readers. Almost everyone’s blogging style is based heavily on Sullivan’s. His blog is how I found Right-Thinking and Moorewatch. It’s also how I found great writers like Conor Friedersdorf, Ed Morrissey, Allahpundit, Megan McArdle and Peter Suderman, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ann Althouse, Stephen Bainbridge and probably a dozen others I’m forgetting. I was with him a lot during the Bush years but disagreed with him on Obama. I found his Palin obsession alarming and frankly crazy. But I always found that he would present all sides even if he was wildly and incorrectly opinionated on a subject.
The haters are out in force today. They are dragging out his publicity for The Bell Curve, saying he thought blacks were inferior to whites (because, apparently, you have to think that if you don’t burn every copy of the Bell Curve in existence). They are saying he was irrelevant. This is envy from people who would kill for a thousandth of his readership or influence. And offensive coming from people who are crowing about the victory of gay marriage — something Sullivan pushed for 25 years in the face of withering opposition from other gays as well as conservatives. Sullivan was wrong sometimes or a lot (more since Obama was elected). But he was the only blog that had enough support to go completely independent.
I don’t think this is the end for Sullivan. He’s made similar announcements before, although I suspect he is a lot more serious this time. As someone who swears, at least once a month, that I’m done blogging, I can sympathize. Lee warned me about the addictive power of blogging when he gave me the keys to Right Thinking. I suspect Sullivan will be back at some point, albeit probably in a much-reduced way. But it’s been a good fifteen years, regardless.
Last week, Alex put up a good takedown of the talking points from Obama’s State of Union Monarchial Address. But I’ve thinking about it for a week and there’s one thing I keep circling back to:
Almost everything that Obama claims credit for has come from policies he opposed.
A list of the things that Obama is claiming credit for it too long for a blog post since I’m pretty sure he’s now claiming credit for the sun continuing to rise. And that’s understandable: a good job description of “President of the United States” would be “someone who takes credit for anything good that happens”. But you can burrow down to several specific things he’s crowing about. And the striking this is that almost all of them are the result of policies he has opposed.
First, Obama took credit for the shrinking budget deficit. Putting aside that it’s easy to shrink a deficit after you’ve exploded it, the progress on the deficit, such as it is, has come from things Obama or his liberal travelers opposed — budget rescissions and the sequester. And it came without the thing they insisted was needed: massive tax hikes on the rich. The reason the deficit is smaller is because Republicans held the line on spending, keeping the level of spending flat for the last four years despite endless and repeated demands from Obama and the Democrats for ever more “stimulus” spending. The Keynesians out there, having caught their breath from screaming about how sequestration would wreck the economy, are now screaming that the 2009 stimulus finally worked, six years down the road. Whatever supports their bias, I guess.
(It should also be noted that the deficit may start rising again as soon as next year because of the failure to address entitlement spending.)
Obama also took credit for falling gas prices and booming oil production. But oil production on Federal land has actually fallen over his tenure. And he has opposed new energy projects like Keystone XL. His party has opposed fracking and just got it suspended in New York on dubious environmental justification. This is the man who, in 2012, specifically said we couldn’t drill our way out of this and that $2 gas was a fantasy. To be fair, I think the low in gas prices is temporary and prices will start rising again. But the overall point remains: increased oil production was not supposed to either be possible or to help with the energy crunch. And how does Obama reconcile this energy boom with his demand for restrictions on fossil fuel exploitation to combat global warming? He doesn’t. He simply talks out of both sides of his mouth.
(Speaking of global warming, Obama touted the agreement with China. But as I pointed out at the time, the CO2 reductions under that agreement are ones we were likely to meet anyway due to things that having nothing to do with Barack Obama: increased fracking and improvements in energy efficiency in the private sector.)
The biggest boast from Obama was about the economy, which had its healthiest quarter in 15 years. Obama is spiking the football on the economy and that’s understandable, given the howling recession he inherited. But the improvement of the economy came not when we got the stimulus, not when we got Obamacare, not when we passed Dodd-Frank but when we stopped persuing Obama’s agenda. Stimulus spending stopped. Subsidies stopped. Keynesian bullshit stopped. And suddenly, we’re doing better.
In fact, we’re just now finding out that a particularly vital piece of liberal received wisdom may have been garbage:
How much did cutting unemployment benefits help the labor market?
Quite a bit. There is a new NBER Working Paper on this topic by Hagedorn, Manovskii, and Mitman, showing (once again) that most supply curves slope upward, here is one key part from the abstract:
In levels, 1.8 million additional jobs were created in 2014 due to the benefit cut. Almost 1 million of these jobs were filled by workers from out of the labor force who would not have participated in the labor market had benefit extensions been reauthorized.
There is an ungated copy here (pdf). Like the sequester, this is another area where the Keynesian analysts simply have not proven a good guide to understanding recent macroeconomic events.
You see that? When the Republicans said that extended unemployment benefits were keeping people out of work, they were pilloried for it as heartless ignorant savages. We were told it was cruel to cut off unemployment benefits based on half-baked theories of labor. Now this is only a working paper, not a refereed one. But the simple fact is that the labor market has surged as unemployment benefits were cut off.
I’m willing to give Obama credit for some things. It’s true that more people are insured. But that tends to happen when you make being uninsured against the law (excuse me, subject to a tax). And the expense of insuring those people has proven as steep as skeptics predicted. And I’ll give him some credit for drawing down our overseas commitments (although the idea that we are out of Afghanistan is laughable). And … um … I’ll even give him credit for part of the achievements above. He did, after all, agree to the sequester. I’ll agree that the stock market is booming. But it wouldn’t be if Obama had gotten his demands for more taxes on capital gains, a financial transactions tax and a push to address income inequality.
But Obama’s biggest achievements are not his … or at least not his alone. The lion’s share of the credit has to go to the Republican Congress for ignoring everything he wanted to do. They didn’t restrict energy exploration, they didn’t pass more dunder-headed stimulus spending, they did hold spending flat, they did cut off unemployment benefits. Every single one of those things was predicted to be a disaster and yet none of those disasters have materialized. And now Obama and his Keynesian allies want to claim credit.
I don’t expect this to matter to the Democrats. Keynesian economics, command-and-control regulation, the wisdom of the welfare state — these things are articles of faith. But the evidence that they work — least of all that they deserve credit for the “Obama economy” — is scant to say the least.