Jan 09 2010

It’s The Unemployment Rate, Stupid

[Note: All graphs can be clicked to access a larger version]

Of all the green-eye-shade economic statistics, nothing touches the mood of the electorate like the unemployment numbers. After 3 decades of generally improving economic conditions, which started with Ronald Reagan and his across the board tax cuts, many people have lost touch with the political power of the unemployment rate.

But more importantly, many of us (myself included) only had a cursory understanding of the various government statistics that capture the breadth of unemployment pain running through the economy. This Great Recession has been a sad lesson on the real numbers that probably the most politically potent.

Let me quote James Pethokoukis of Reuters, who framed this post perfectly for me as I was gathering data for it:

On the political front, the December jobs numbers were terrible news for the White House and congressional Democrats in a midterm election year. Here’s how it plays out:

1. Remember this simple formula: Unemployment drives presidential approval numbers, and presidential approval numbers drive midterm election results.

4. Then will come the second-take stories that will notice the shrinking labor force, which dropped by nearly 700,000 from November. Had it stayed stable from last month, the jobless rate would have been 10.4 percent. Had it stayed stable since August, the jobless rate would be 11 percent!

Emphasis in original article. I was working with some new numbers on the Department of Labor website and planned on adding this disturbing chart, which goes to the crux of this point:

It shows a significant number of people (nearly 5%) have moved out of the work force in some manner. This is pretty much unprecedented since 1999, which is as far back as this measure goes. As Mr. Pethokoukis notes, this decline in the workforce is artificially suppressing the unemployment rate, which measures the unemployed as a fraction of the workforce – not the population. I like visuals, so to see what Mr. Pethokoukis was getting at I charted what the unemployment would have looked like if the workforce had stayed steady since August:

It is the difference between a leveling off in the unemployment rate versus a continued rise to new heights of national suffering. Mr. Pethokoukis goes on to note some other hard truths:

5. But wait, there’s more! The U-6 rate rate which combines the basic jobless rate, discouraged workers, part-timers-who-would-rather-be-full-tim ers climbed to 17.3 percent. And the average duration of unemployment rose to a record high 29.1 weeks.

Interestingly enough, as the U3 rate has leveled off, the U6 rate is starting to tick slightly higher again. At any event, neither metric looks like it will be dropping back down anytime soon – which underscores the political damage this is having on the Democrats. Damage they well deserve given their failed stimulus bill (more on that in a bit).

But that is not the worst of it either. I have been tracking a little noticed metric which is only reported in the weekly unemployment reports – the number of people on the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefit. The EUC is the last vestige of the unemployment safety net, and its rolls skyrocketed in December:

So while the unemployment rate was the same, the number of people who have been without work so long they have run through the traditional unemployment benefits and the extended unemployment benefits keeps growing. The recession has been going on so long that the waves hitting the EUC just dwarfs the job numbers each month.

The administration wanted to note that in November the economy gained 4,000 jobs, even though it lost 85,000 in December. Well I would like the country to know that in September 208,421 people joined the EUC roles. In October 272,185 people joined, and in November 604.209 joined! That is 150 times the number of jobs created.

December’s reporting is not even complete (1 week left to go), yet a stunning 917,110 Americans joined the EUC rolls last month. It will easily hit a million by next week’s DOL report on unemployment. This number represents well over 10 times the number of jobs lost in December.

Since the liberal stimulus bill was passed in February 3,674,743 Americans have blown through all the other unemployment benefits the government has to offer and are now on EUC. That is a 250% increase!

We are nowhere near reversing the job situation when we cannot even reduce the rising tide of Americans hitting the EUC. So why are these employment indicators not reacting to the stimulus bill? Because the stimulus bill’s ‘shovel ready’ jobs programs were nowhere near ‘ready’.

The federal government has a byzantine process for moving congressional money to verified projects (the process of ‘obligating’ the money), and then another whole suite of processes to get the money on contracts to the private sector – the point when the money is actually ‘spent’. These rules, reviews and documentation requirements mean it takes over a year to get money flowing to the private sector. Which is why the so called ‘stimulus’ bill was anything but stimulating for job creation. The money spent so far was on unemployment benefits while the job creation has yet to show up.

I have been tracking 6 government entities on their progress in spending stimulus money meant for job creating programs. I am happy to announce that as of Christmas Day they have collectively been able to spend 10% of the money allocated to them in the stimulus bill on make-work projects.

This first graph shows the amount of funds allocates to each organization (far left columns), how much they have been able to get through the obligation process (mid left columns), how much they have been able to actually spend (mid right columns) and the amount left unspent (far right columns).

This second graph shows the amounts obligated, spent and unspent as a percentage of their total money allocated.

Of the $105 billion allocated to these 6 groups they have spent, over the last 10 months, only $10.5 billion (as of 12/12/09 reporting at recovery.gov).  This is pathetic and the reason why the economy has not been rebounding.

Instead of using the tried, true and broad stimulus of personal and corporate tax cuts which impact the economy immediately, the liberals went with the fantasy of government white knights coming to the rescue. Sadly for them they forgot how sluggish the  bloated federal bureaucracy is (or just never cared).

Which brings us back to Mr. Pethokoukis:

8. Combine a weak labor market – which may appear to be getting worse to voters – with the moribund housing market and rising gas prices, and you have a toxic triple threat that will be poisonous to Democratic incumbents and further drain Obama’s political capital.

As I said, the liberals in Congress and Obama administration have earned the wrath of the American people. Americans need jobs first and foremost. They need good paying jobs.

The liberals were so hell bent on not being Bush they wasted an entire year pretending the mythical government white knight was going to ride to the rescue. That white knight is overweight and lethargic and not capable of helping us.

The answer was always with the American people and their own motivation, drive and determination. By unleashing that power through tax cuts the economy could have been turned around by now.

Instead we have record debt and deficits as far as the eye can see along with the lousy job situation. This is the result when liberal fantasies hit reality. The voters know it and plan to demonstrate their ire at the polls – like they did in the VA and NJ Governor races in 2009. And the Dems absolutely deserve the shellacking they are about to get.

20 responses so far

20 Responses to “It’s The Unemployment Rate, Stupid”

  1. Toes192 says:

    I still think the Dems loaded the $$ to be spent in an election year…
    2010 mid-terms…
    .
    Time getting little bit short [Nov] and I opine there will be a flood of that $$ spent pretty soon…

  2. stevevvs says:

    Toes, excellent reply.

    AJ, I was reading some of your lower posts. I have a very serious Idea for you. I think it would be good to do.

    Explain how Centrist Conservatives like yourself, would deal with our Employment and Debt problems. If it were up to You, what would say, your 10 Point plan be? I think it would be good for you to show how Centrist would deal with this.

    http://www.usdebtclock.org/

    I say this in all seriousness.

    For instance, The Federal Reserve says the Social Security Liability is close to 15 Trillion. What Policies would you do to solve this problem?

    The Medicare Prescription Drug plan is close to a 19 Trillion Liability, according to the Federal Reserve. What would you advise the Government to do for this?

    Medicare alone is a 74 Trillion Dollar Liability.

    Total Un Funded Liabilities are around 107 Trillion. What is Your answer to these problems? Higher Taxes, Cut or Eliminate them? Something must be done, it’s not sustainable.

    The current average liability per citizen is now over 346 Thousand per Citizen. Not per Tax Payer, but Per Citizen.

    Obviously, the citizens can’t pay this bill.

    There must be a Centrist Solution, explain it for your readers.

    I don’t know if this was in this post, but I saw today that the House Hold Survey For December showed a loss of over 580 Thousand Jobs in December. Quite a difference between employer surveys and House Holds, don’t you think?

    Anyway, I just thought that would be good for you and your readers. Call it, The Strata 10 Point Plan or something.

    Well, I’m heading out for the day. Hope you all enjoy your Saturday, I’ll be watching the NFL today. Take care.

  3. AJStrata says:

    Stevevvs,

    I am not here to prove myself to you. Get a grip and realize the far right is finished. That is my centrist solution, never let the fools in power again.

  4. stevevvs says:

    Before I hit the shower and head out, I wanted to pass on my observation on something. In an earlier post, you stated to the effect that the Tea Party Movement is a Centrist movement.

    I went to the Tea Party Gathering in Downtown Charlotte, N.C. in the Spring of 2008. From our Gathering, I did not sense anything close to a centrist movement. All the signs I saw, and the over 100 I photographed [I could send them to you on a disk if you'd like to see them for yourself] Were anti government, pro Liberty.

    At our rally, No Politicians from Either Party were invited or allowed to speak. They were BOTH [Parties] seen as the problem.

    After all, the Centrists were the deciding factor in Both of Bush’s Stimulus Bills, Tarp, Prescription Drug Bill, Patriot Act, Bush’s Bail Out of G.M. and Chrysler, Obama’s Stimulus, Health Care Bill, Spending Suplimental, etc. Without the Centrist support of all these items, none would have passed.

    Sara Palin will be the Key Note Speaker at the upcoming Tea Party gathering. The Libertarians are up in arms, they think she’s Bush in a Skirt. They think she will ruin the movement.

    I don’t know if I agree or not, I prefer to see what she has to say, before passing judgement. But my point is, they seem to think the Tea Party movement is a LIBERTY Movement.

    That was the impression I got in Charlotte in the Spring of 2008. Lot’s of sign with Quotes from our Founders, The Constitution, the Bill of Rights,Limited Gov’t., States Rights, Individual Liberty, etc. I never see Centrists expressing interest in American History, nor what this Country is suppose to be. They tend to argue based on Programs cost and effectiveness, rather than the Constitutionality of those programs, etc.

    As for the Centrist Republicans making a comeback, I personaly don’t know who or where that is. I’m sure it’s out there, but I’ve seen people like Rand Paul in Ky, and Crist loosing in Florida.

    But I agree, the Centrist are the deciding factor in all legislation that is passed. They get and take the bribes to “Get Something Done” From Nebraska to Louisiana and all points in between, the Center gets the Pork.

    Take Care All, enjoy your Saturday.

    P.S. Here is a link to the houshold numbers: http://blog.vdare.com/archives/2010/01/09/decembers-job-decline-hits-everyone-but-displacement-trend-intact/print/

  5. stevevvs says:

    Insults:

    #
    # AJStrataon 09 Jan 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Stevevvs,

    I am not here to prove myself to you. Get a grip and realize the far right is finished. That is my centrist solution, never let the fools in power again.

    Your right J.A. Bush really screwed everything up.

  6. stevevvs says:

    You try to be nice, you try to be serious, and J.A. has to act like that.

  7. stevevvs says:

    Prove yourself to YOU, if it’s possible.

  8. Mike M. says:

    I don’t think the Dems are set up for 2010. More like 2012, except that they have NO idea of how much damage porkulus spending does to business and consumer credit.

    And the modern ideological fight is not between Left and Right, but between Statist and Libertarian.

  9. [...] It’s The Unemployment Rate, Stupid [...]

  10. WWS says:

    Let me try, Steve. First it’s important to realize just how bad the problem is and how big the numbers are. There are far fewer options than you probably realize.

    First, under Obama’s leadership we are currently following a very leftist policy – unlimited appropriations, massive expansion of the deficits, limitless extra-constitutional bailouts of any company that threatens to lay off workers (GMAC, GM, AIG, etc) and no plans, not even the need for recognition of plans, to end this at anypoint. With this plan, Weimar style hyperinflation is guaranteed at some point, since if the leftists had their way interest rates would be kept at near zero forever.

    Bernanke is following, and if he has the guts will continue to follow a centrist policy. (so that currently we are following a center-left financial policy when these two forces are combined) This policy is to keep the system supported and accept that for the time being massive money supply creation is required to keep the economy moving. Use the fact that we are at extremely low historical rates of interest to pump out as much long term debt is possible, since the buyers of this debt will bear the loss when rates begin to rise. The main difference between Bernanke’s centrists and the leftists is that as soon as inflation begins to kick in, they believe that interest rates should be allowed to rise immediately, killing it off before it becomes unstoppable. This policy probably guarantees at least a decade of high unemployment with the economy slipping in and out of recessionary periods constantly, much like Japan’s “lost decade” when they followed the same policies. This is not going to be good for any party in power. There will be some inflation and high unemployment for a very long time.

    You may think that any “right wing” solution would have to better – but I doubt that. You see the problem is the debt and future liabilities that has already been accumulated in the SS system and in other government programs. We *have* to engineer some kind of long term inflation since these are already too big for our economy to support on their stated terms – it simply can’t be done. At least by inflating the currency you gradually reduce the impact of these over time. Of course, you also gradually reduce the standard of living of everyone at the same time as well.

    The “right wing” solutions I’ve heard of generally revolve around Ron Paul’s support of a gold standard and various ways of repudiating the debt. For one thing, going onto a gold standard would mean an instant stop to deficit spending – but it doesn’t stop the interest we owe on what’s already out there. Social Security as a system collapses overnight if we do that, as does medicare. From now on those systems are goign to depend upon the continuous creation of new debt. The far right may think that is a good outcome for those systems to be destroyed, but I don’t think they’ve considered the political outcome of throwing 50 million or more older voters into poverty overnight. What’s more, you’d almost certainly have to end up disbanding most of the armed forced, just as Russia was forced to do in 1990 – 1991. There simply won’t be any money left to pay them. (Of course that is a long stated goal of Paul’s)

    And of course the biggest effect of this is that when you yank that much stimulus out of a country like ours that is on the economic edge already, you guarantee a stock market crash of 90% and a new Great Depression that makes the 30′s look like a picnic in the park. With the FDIC going broke (no more deficit money to keep them going) every long term bank account would vaporize, every savings account would vanish, every IRA would be gone. I know this sounds extreme to you, but we are still balanced on the knife’s edge of total economic collapse – this is what Bush and Paulson were afraid of in the fall of 2008. Since it didn’t happen, the far right seems to have convinced themselves that it can’t happen, while the left has convinced themselves that everything will be fine since they can pump out new money with no limit forever.

    But neither of these cases are true. The reason I support “centrist” policies – which I acknowledge will cause high unemployment, inflation, and recessionary conditions to continue for at least a decade – is that I think that is the *Best* possible outcome we can hope for right now. It splits the difference between the Left, which would cause Weimar-style hyperinflation and collapse, and the Right which would cause 30′s style depression and collapse. I don’t believe that our Constitution would survive either of those outcomes.

    Can the centrist policy actually hold and prevent either of these disasters? I honestly don’t know – I can only hope.

  11. [...] The Strata-Sphere – It’s The Unemployment Rate, Stupid [...]

  12. AJ,

    Jobs are the Obama Administration’s Hurricane Katrina.

    They had to be seen as doing _something_ the first year in office.

    Instead they did “Stimulus” and Healthcare reform.

    Now the American public is not listening anymore. They are conserving their capital and waiting for the next two cycles of Federal elections to act.

  13. Toes192 says:

    Good point, Mike M…
    2012 … not my 2010 opine… We’ll see if either of us is right on the time-line…

  14. Fai Mao says:

    I don’t know what a centrist is so I should probably not comment on this but….

    How about these 10 things for a start as a Centrist political platform to help deal with debt. Some would obviously save more money than others but all saving should be put into debt reduction.

    1a. Withdraw US troops from South Korea. South Korea is a wealthy and populous nation and should be able to defend itself against the NORKS. If they need hardware sell it to them but let them defend themselves. These troops could be redeployed to the Mexican border or the size of the military could simply be reduced. Remove troops from Japan as well.

    1b. Withdraw from NATO. There is no longer a Socviet Union to defend against. Once again the nations of Western Europe are, like the South Koreans, no longer weak and war shattered. Let them build their own armies if they think they need them. Alternatly let them die if they are invaded by Bulgaria.

    1c. Withdraw from the UN and ask it to relocate. This would include removing “Peacekeepers” from places like Bosnia that the EU should deal with.

    2. Reduce the salary for members of Congress to $35,000 per year but purchase a walled complex where they will be assigned housing. Reduce the the staffing allowance by 50%. Since the government now owns GM then give members of congress a company car, a small underpowerred one made by their union cronnies in Detroit and require them to drive it. Simply tell airlines that Congress members are to be given standby flights like airline employees provided the flight is to DC or to their home district. Eliminate the other perks (Including Franking ), extravagant health and retirement plans, gyms, haircuts, ice buckets and caffeterias. Doing this might allieviate need for term limits. Though 35K a year with a residence and a car is still a good paying job

    3. Phase out Social Security. Anyone over the age of 55 will have the program as it is. At the age of 54 (This year) reduce the future benefits by 5% For each year after that reduce the benefits by 2% until the reduction equals 90% (40 years). Then at the 10% level abolish the program. As a corrilary to this abolish the capital gains tax so that people CAN save for retirement easier.

    4. Phase out Medicare in a similar manner but this must be done in conjunction ways to lower the cost of health care, medical savings accounts, tort reform and so forth.

    5. There are several government entities that could possibly be simply abolished or need to have their , APR, Department of Energy, The Department of Education, HUD come to mind. Let Seaseme Street sell a few comericals. Not that these go completely away but their mission and purpose and affordability should be examined and some of them should go bye-bye forever.

    6. Tax Liberal Democrats at 15% higer than non-liberals. They always claim the wealthy should pay more in taxes so require them to put their money where their mouth is. Make a special exemption for Charles Wrangle. Tax him at 115% with no deductions or offer him 30 years in the pen.

    7. Pass a law that makes riders illegal in bills. Each bill in Congress should deal with one law and should not be ablle to have pork items tacked onto it. Also, forbid any building, structure or program to be named after a sitting government offical or anyone in their immediate family. No more “Robert Byrd” whatevers.

    8. Rewrite the entire tax code. Institute a flat tax with very few deductions but a lower rate. There should be no mortagage deduction, no charitable deductions and it should not matter whether you are married, single, have 18 kids or none. Also set the income level to start paying taxes much lower. If you make money you owe tax. Too many of the lower income people in the US pay no taxes and yeat make demands upon the government. They need to pay their fair share. The goal here is to reduce the size of the IRS by 2/3 to 3/4

    9. Withdraw from the WTO and raise some punitive taraffs on goods from nations that dump good at below cost or use artificially undervalued currencies to make their products cheaper. This would help to keep some jobs in the US and pressure nations like China to improve their labor policies

    10. Right to work – 50 states. While many government department should be eliminated the department of labor could, I think be very useful if it replaced the Teamsters and AFL?CIO UMW and the other unions. Al pensions should be administered by the labor department but UNLIKE Social Security the accounts contain the money depositied by workers not IOU statements from the government. Void all union contracts put at least 3/4 of the union bosses in jail for racketeering. This would allow companies to provide good jobs at competative international levels.

    This list looks a little more extreme than I thoght it would be

  15. AJStrata says:

    Fai,

    An individual ‘centrist’ is as hard to pigeon hole as a conservative, etc. The point being that they are Americans who have opinions and deserve a modicum of respect in the debate.

    A conservative who cannot manage enough self control to prove their respect for America and its people and slide into snarky insults is politically a defect and a barrier to progress. I name no names – if people feel like jumping into that category of dead end then I cannot help them.

    Many of your proposals deserve merit, mainly because they are outside the conventional wisdom (I disagree with 1 though, seems too risky with the nut job over the border).

    The Dems are giving us all a good lesson on the political fall out the comes with insulting and pissing off the center.

  16. WWS says:

    Fia, interesting list. The impossibility of most of what you suggest is what led me to my views above.

    Some of your ideas are good, most are impossilbe, some are catastrophically bad.

    1) South Korea – as AJ said, you would simply encourage Kim Jong Il who would believe he had made the Americans run away. With his nuclear weapons he could then probably force S. Korea to pay him protection money which would make his regime more powerful than ever. We’re there to prevent that. Also, this is a very small piece of the overall problem.

    1B) Nato – it doesn’t do much for us anymore, but pulling out would encourage Russia and drive the eastern Europeans back into Putin’s embrace. You think that’s a good thing? Again, Nato is not that large a budget item for us – the bases in Europe are there so we can use them for our own purposes, not NATO’s.

    2) A feelgood fantasy but nothing that can ever happen and salaries are a miniscule portion of the budget these days.

    3) abolish social security – you don’t realize that if you pull young people out of the system, the entire thing actuarily collapses over night. They’re the only ones paying the bills right now. It is a giant ponzi scheme that we have to keep feeding and can’t get out of – this is the number one reason I believe that continued debt creation and inflation is absolutely inevitable. No, that isn’t a good situation – and there are no good outcomes. But pulling young people out, even if honest, leads to political and social catastrophe.

    4) Same problem as SS – doing this would pull the support from the current system while the demand was still there (old people with no other health insurance) This would end up requiring far *more* deficit and debt creation than the current system, ie, this idea would make things worse.

    5) The best idea in the bunch. But it won’t ever happen.

    6) More feelgood fantasy. Do we even need to say this is unconstitutional?

    7) Good general reform – won’t really affect the deficit, but it’s a good idea.

    8) Jack Kemp ran on this in the 90′s. Good idea then, but it went nowhere.

    9) The most catastrophic idea of all. You don’t realize how much our high tech industry depends upon the WTO for entrance into foreign countries. This wipes out America’s high tech industry, or even worse drives it to India and China. Smoot and Hawley thought that raising trade barriers was a good idea, too, and that led to 25% unemployment within 2 years. So will this idea, if enacted. This is a consistent far right & far left idea and it is a guaranteed catastrophe for this country.

    And you should consider just how much leverage China has over us now. China now has the power to collapse our entire financial system overnight just by dumping the US bonds they own and refusing to buy more. China is now the one who can tell the US what to do financially, not the reverse. That’s a harsh reality to face, but face it we must.

    10) Right to work – while I’d like to see this, it will take a state of martial law to ever be able to abolish unions. Till then, the best we can hope for is the slow motion migration of jobs and industries to right-to-work states like Texas and the ongoing collapse of states like Michigan.

    The coming financial collapse of California may actually have many beneficial effects, long term. But not for this generation, maybe the next.

  17. Fai Mao says:

    I guess a little clarification might help here. I hope I don’t further reveal my ignorance.

    1. The military withdrawals from Europe and Asia are, I admit problematic. But, I don’t think they are as problematic you have stated.
    I don’t think the North Koreans could actually invade and conquer the South. South Korea has a very large, well equipped and well trained, modern army that isn’t starving. It has a larger population and far larger economy. Since most of the food in the North actually come through the South or the PRC they are hostage to both nations in a war time. All China has to do is stop the rice trains.

    I know by virtue of my job, some medium to high level party members in the PRC, and the PRC is not pleased with much of what the NORKS do. It is a face issue in Chinese culture however and the PRC cannot abandon the NORKS. The government publicly supports them is not pleased with them in private and would really like to see the Dear Leader become the Dear Departed Leader. The entire NORK educational system, the curriculum, is based around resisting the US. NORK children are taught that the US will to come and eat the NORK children; literally, I am not being hyperbolic if they do not support the government they believe that Americans will come and eat them. Removing the US troops from the South might simply cause the North to collapse or lead to a military take-over of the country because they would no longer have an enemy to focus on. I think a military dictatorship is an improvement from a psychotic dictatorship.

    That said the South Koreans are also not worth one drop of US blood or treasure. They are without doubt the most Anti-American people in Asia. Their academics and journalist never waste an opportunity to disparage the US. They call the US troops occupiers and invaders. They engage in both protectionist and predatory trade practices. Look at the violence at the WHO and G20 meetings. Most of it is instigated by South Korean farmers.

    Pulling troops out of Japan is actually more problematic. The Japanese need to change their constitution and build a little bigger military.

    I agree that there are issues with keeping the Russians from rebuilding the Iron Curtain but does anyone really think the French, Germans, British or Italians are going to help prevent that? They’d be more likely to ask to be included if it meant the Russians would sell them natural gas at a discount. Withdraw from NATO, if needed form another alliance with Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and maybe Turkey.

    2. Withdrawing from the UN is simply a sound idea for many reasons. It is a worthless and irrelevant institution.

    3. Phase out Social Security. Notice what I am actually saying about Social Security. I am talking about reducing benefits over time but NOT necessarily reducing the taxes that support the system at the same rate. It is going to be very expensive to end such a boondoggle but it will be even more expensive if it isn’t ended. I am talking about 45 to 50 year draw down of this program not a sudden cessation of the program. You are right it is a ponzi scheme. All ponzi schemes will eventually collapse. If something similar to my idea is not done then when the system collapses it will be a total collapse and that will be an even worse problem.

    4. Phase out Medicare. Rather than modeling a healthcare system on failed socialist systems and Medicare is essentially a single payer socialized system it needs to be sustainable by the individuals that use it. Like Social Security it will simply collapse because it will become unsustainable. Inflating the currency might postpone this collapse by reducing the debit in terms of future dollars but it might not. What happens if the government bond rating gets cut? What happens if people and nations stop buying those bonds because the interest rate does not cover the inflation? No, it is better to start unwinding the system. To build a system that includes medical savings accounts, tort reform and preventative health measures than to simply pump up the dollar with an air hose.

    5. I did not suggest eliminating any constitutionally mandated agencies. In times of financial duress everybody cuts the fat out of their budget. The government need to not spend on these items until it has the surplus funds to do so.

    6. Sarcasm – I guess my jokes are not as good as I thought they were

    7. I actually think that this would create a substantial amount of savings because it would mean that EVERY issue would have to be debated or, if put in an Omnibus bill would be easier to see

    8. Rewrite the entire tax code. I stand by this statement. My personal Hobby Horse in this is the odious requirement for US citizens living overseas to still fill out IRS paperwork every year. It violates our constitutional rights because the law actually says they consider us to be tax cheats for living overseas and so we require more supervision. If, as I do, you have a non-US citizen spouse your taxes are a nightmare. More than individual issues the rewrite of the tax code needs to happen because the issue is not the redistribution of wealth but funding the government. I am not wealthy but I do not begrudge those who are wealthy their wealth. The idea of a “Progressive” tax code is simply an abomination based upon a flawed idea of what money is. If a currency was still gold or silver or very pretty sea-shells then the gap between rich and poor would mean something because every dollar Bill Gats has is one that I couldn’t have and given a finite supply there would be a real possibility that I could not have enough simply because he has so much. When currency is either nearly worthless paper or a computer file then the fact Mr. Gates has 40 or 50 billion does not mean that I cannot have enough. So scrap the progressive code, institute a flat rate and make everybody pay. And yes this would reduce the deficit spending because it would suddenly make those with their hand out have to pay $100 in taxes to get their $75 in benefits. Thus they’d rather keep their $100.

    9. I will admit that this is a bit of an extreme position. I will also admit that it appears to me that other countries routinely ignore the WTO. I look at the way the PRC keeps its currency undervalued so that Chinese products are cheaper than those from elsewhere and the protective tariffs maintained by Korea and Japan. In this regard China is more open than those countries if only slightly. If the WTO does not force South Korea and Japan to lower tariffs on US agricultural goods or require the PRC to have a fully convertable currency then the US should be able to prevent the import of Japanese, Korean and Chinese manufactured goods. So possibly, what I should have said that that the US need to insist upon other countries being as open as it is to imports

    10. Right to work – I think the abuses of pension funds and overt political activity and the latest attempt to abolish the secret ballot in union elections has caused unions to forfeit any sympathy I might have had for them.

  18. [...] bill ( as many of us predicted). The hastily passed bill has done nothing for unemployment – no surprise with the stimulus money stuck in the bowels of the bloated federal bureaucracy. Maybe next year the Democrats [...]

  19. [...] month, as was noted here and many other places, the national unemployment rate ’stayed the same’ only because the workforce had shrunk [...]

  20. [...] it may be spent months or years later to a select, specially connected few. This was the basis of the failed stimulus bill of last year. 95% of that bill’s shovel ready jobs money is STILL stuck in the constipated federal [...]