In my last newsletter, I said that the nine-week summer recess isn’t a “vacation” for the state legislators, contrary to what a certain elected state executive wants the public to think, but rather an in-district work session to give the legislators of both chambers and both parties an opportunity to “get away from Lansing” and speak directly with their constituents and get their opinions on various matters. I applaud the 20 or so state senators who had the sense to force the Medicaid Expansion bill (2013-HB-4714) into committee for the summer. There are better options (such as 2013-SB-0422) that don’t expose our state to an out-of-control federal government, and those options ought to receive fair consideration. Given the train wreck that ObamaCare is likely to become, a little policy disconnect from DC is probably a good thing.
The June 2013 Jobs Report (http://bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm), released last Friday, isn’t being trumpeted much by the White House. The unemployment rate (7.6%) has remained largely unchanged from February, though there was a net gain of 195,000 non-farm payroll jobs. And for a few people, that’s good news. But to put the report in its true light, it helps to understand what the “Official Unemployment Rate” and the “Real Unemployment Rate” each measure:
- The American Labor Force consists of all citizens and residents aged 16 or older, who are neither institutionalized (such as imprisoned or in a nursing home) nor serving on active duty in the armed forces, and either have a job, are looking for a job, or would accept a job if it were offered. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “full-time employment” is defined as 35+ hours per week.
- The “Official Unemployment Rate” (the U-3 Rate) is the proportion of the civilian labor force that is unemployed but actively seeking employment, and is the one that gets all of the media attention. Note that this rate counts part-time employment as “employed,” and excludes workers who’ve given up seeking employment for whatever reason. Also note that the part-time workers counted as “employed” in this formula could be working as little as one hour per week.
- The “Real Unemployment Rate” (the U-6 Rate) treats as “unemployed”: (1) all part-time workers who are still seeking full-time employment, and (2) potential workers who’ve stopped looking for work for reasons other than futility, but would accept a full-time job if one were offered. Thus, in contrast, to be counted as “employed” under this rate, one must either have a full-time job or be content with part time employment.
The harsh and brutal truth of the matter is that real unemployment jumped from 13.8% in May to 14.3% in June, the largest single-month spike in two years. To put that in simpler terms, one adult out of every seven you know would gladly accept a full-time job if it were offered, but the opening just isn’t there. Also not part of most headlines, though it’s in the report, is that the number of workers involuntarily reduced to part-time hours rose by 322,000 in June, which outstrips the full time employment gains by 127,000 workers . . . in the wrong direction. Don’t expect to hear any of that from the Jay Carney spin machine though.
A friend of mine was gassing up at his neighborhood Speedway two Fridays ago (when regular unleaded had dropped to $3.48/gal). As he was inside grabbing a cup of coffee and prepaying for the gas, he got into a conversation with the store manager. She told him that she’d just had to rewrite the work schedule for the store, on orders from corporate, so as to reduce all non-management store personnel to a maximum of 29 hours per week. The reason? The added expenses that ObamaCare attaches to employers who have more than a certain number of people working more than 30 hours per week. This required involuntarily reducing three cashiers, who have enough seniority to normally rate full-time status, to the 29-hour cap . . . no exceptions.
So you can see why the official unemployment rate stays steady, but the real unemployment rate continues to climb.
I had a reporter ask me what I thought about the SCOTUS decisions in “United States v. Windsor” and “Hollingsworth v. Perry” effectively striking down Michigan law (which I sponsored) that denies benefits to same-sex couples in this state. My response was simple: That’s not what they did. The decision in Windsor affects federal benefits only. Yes, Michigan has to recognize the fact of a same-sex marriage performed in another state, but state benefits in Michigan don’t attach to any marriage inconsistent with Article I § 25 of the Michigan Constitution, which the Hollingsworth decision didn’t affect.
Yes, I agree that both decisions shifted the baseline and provided a new reference point for future public “debate” on the matter of gay marriage, and that’s the real pity. However, the debate itself is far from over, and the Overton Window hasn’t moved as far as the gay lobby wants us to believe.
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Obama by the numbers, special Independence Day edition
Economic decisions never take place in a vacuum. The impact of every single one of Obama’s policies is directly felt by every American . . . right in the wallet.
Read more at: “A More Expensive Fourth”
Three big anniversaries . . . did you notice all three?
Last week we celebrated big anniversaries involving Philadelphia, Gettysburg, and Vicksburg. July 3 was the 150th anniversary of the Union victory by General Meade at Gettysburg. July 4 was the 237th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, and also the 150th anniversary of the less well-known but equally important Union triumph by General Grant at Vicksburg.
Read more at: “Three Big Anniversaries”
The ObamaCare Employer Penalty has been delayed until 2015
Three years into ObamaCare and amidst increasing unpopularity, Obama punts away his Employer Penalty until after the 2014 Election. The delay marks another “significant setback” for Obama, but the delay won’t help the businesses that will still be hit by ObamaCare’s billions in penalties in 2015. Democrats are worried that ObamaCare will cause them to lose the Senate and any chance to retake the House.
Read more at: “The ObamaCare Train Derails”
Obama Administration’s advice to Democrats: Ignore their constituents and carry on
How can Democrats and the Administration turn a blind eye to Americans living with the burden of ObamaCare? School districts are being forced to reduce the hours of employees. Businesses are being forced to reduce hours and are facing financial distress. June polling of ObamaCare finds that Americans continue to disapprove.
Read more at: “Turning A Blind Eye To ObamaCare’s Side Effects”
ObamaCare in the context of Independence Day
The postponement of the employer mandate simply extends for a year the uncertainty which is slowing down new employment and weakening the economy. However the bigger insight that comes from the collapse of the business mandate is the hopelessness of the IRS administrative challenge. This new announcement is a good time for Congress to begin systematically revising ObamaCare and moving toward a sound, decentralized, patient centered model which expands freedom and choice rather than bureaucracy and regulation.
Read more at: “ObamaCare and the Spirit of the Fourth of July”
How about a simple immigration solution (not perfect – but simple)?
With regard to our nation’s illegal immigration problem, the goal should be to SOLVE it, not WIN some political battle. If you want to solve a problem, and not win some fight, it means no one will get everything he or she wants, but will have to compromise (give up some things), and in the end we achieve a workable solution. Complex solutions are not solutions, but rather a recipe for more fights and confusion because of the unforeseen problems that will arise. The solution, to work, must but be simple, affordable, enforceable, and fair.
Read more at: “My One Page Immigration Bill (by Greta Van Susteren)”
Republican Committees Launch “Women on the Right UNITE”
Leadership and elected officials from six of Washington’s Republican committees held a press conference two Fridays ago to launch “Women on the Right UNITE”: a joint project to promote the recruitment of and support for Republican women and women candidates. Each committee announced new initiatives designed to advance the role of women within our party. Participating committees included: the Republican National Committee, the Republican Governors Association, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Republican State Leadership Committee, and the College Republican National Committee.
The Freedom Index: Current Members of the 113th Congress
The 2013 Update of the Freedom Index is out. This scorecard rates congressmen based on their adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and the Founders’ traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements. The scores of each current member of the 113th Congress are cumulative scores are based on key votes from 1999 through 2013. Each senator’s or representative’s name has a link to a detailed breakdown of his or her voting record (and thus the justification for the score).
We know that the Democrat Party has abandoned even the pretense of allegiance to the constitution, but it’s truly disturbing how “our side” has representation so willingly disregarding our founding principles and the true rule of law. I can tolerate a score below 90, as long as it exceeds 70, and the trend is improving. But there are three republican members of Michigan’s congressional delegation who clearly need to get with the program, or risk consequences next year.
Read more at: “A Congressional Scorecard Based on the U.S. Constitution”
It’s July, do you know what your student loan interest rate is?
Do you remember all of those campaign events President Obama did to talk about student loan rates? You’d assume that, with days to spare before student loan rates doubled, Congress would have set aside partisan bickering and scrambled to come up with a solution. Evidently, all that talk was nothing but politics as usual, because Harry Reid and Senate Democrats blocked a bipartisan solution (after House Republicans already passed student loan relief based on a plan from Obama himself) and allowed student loan interest rates to double.
Obama’s disgraced bundler and ally Jon Corzine now facing criminal charges
Corzine’s mismanagement of MF Global was disastrous for clients and investors. Corzine has contributed and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama and the DNC. To date, Obama and the DNC have returned only a fraction of Corzine’s tainted contributions. Corzine served as Obama’s “Wall Street Guy,” played a key role in crafting Obama’s failed stimulus, and was once expected to be Obama’s next Treasury Secretary.
Read more at: “The Big Fail: Obama’s “Wall Street Guy” Goes Bust”