Tag Archives: unemployment

US to Shed 1.5 Million Jobs to Create New Recession

Right Wing Raising the DebtUpdate: 08.09.2011, 4:00 PM. President Obama has now signed the legislation to raise the debt ceiling and avert default. The bill immediately raises the debt ceiling by $400 billion. The additional steps that our country will have to endure to raise the debt ceiling for the balance of next year are described below. “Enough talk about the debt. We have to talk about jobs,” said Democratic Minority Leader, Nancy Peloisi.

Only two days remain in this season’s final episode of the made-for-cable-news mega-series drama, “The Right Wing – Raising the Debt Ceiling”*. The whole world is watching. Whose jobs will be lost? Whose fortunes, real, imagined, hedge, shorted or political, will be wiped out? Who will blink or tear up? Will the T-Party take to the streets or is just too damn hot? Will the golf partners stick to their “deal” for an entire news cycle? What will Sarah tweet? Will a deminted Senator sabotage it all with a last minute filibuster? Can Pelosi be turned to the dark side? Will S&P downgrade the credit rating anyway leading to higher interest and a need for even greater cuts? Will we do this again before Christmas?

The stranger-than-fictional leaders of our government have leaked elements of their surprising planned finale where they use this totally made-up crisis to solve the nation’s, and the world’s, great problems. The markets have already rallied in anticipation. As has the dollar. As have oil prices. The pundits, blogmeisters, and spin doctors have already picked the winners and losers. The bottles of sparkling tea have been chilled.

The drama couldn’t have been cast with a more exciting backdrop:

  • Two official wars (Afghanistan and Iraq), one official unofficial war (Libya), two well-known secret wars (Yemen and Pakistan), revolutions underway or being brutally suppressed in Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, on-going and potential conflicts in Palestine, Iran and North Korea, and chaos, famine and human tragedy in Somalia and the Horn of Africa;
  • An earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan that will continue for a hundred thousand years;
  • A massacre of white people by a white, right-wing Christian anti-muslim lunatic;
  • Worldwide recession with grave concern for the Euro zone, specifically Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ireland;
  • A dismal 1.3% US GDP growth last quarter after only .04% first quarter growth;
  • The lowest percentage of Americans working in almost 30 years with 9.2% unemployment (20+% black unemployment) and at least 18.5% overall underemployment – more than 25 million Americans are out of work and glued to their TV sets;
  • More than 50 million Americans without health insurance;
  • 28% of US homeowners are behind on their mortgage, a backlog of six million US homes in foreclosure with more than three million homes already seized, and home prices continuing to decline;
  • Executive pay has risen 23% this year, plus, record earnings continue to be announced by our largest corporations – US companies have now accumulated and horded, depending upon who counts, $20-30 trillion in cash, while spending millions on lobbyists to whine about regulation, taxes and certainty;
  • The wealth gap continues to widen with whites now averaging 20 times the wealth of blacks, 18 times the wealth of Hispanics;
  • US worker productivity is at an all time high, yet real wages are lower than they have been in 41 years;
  • Federal, state and local taxes are the lowest per capita since 1954;
  • The number of government workers has gone down more than 500,000 since Obama took office;
  • And, it is hot, though not officially from global climate change even though the northern hemisphere is trying to endure a record-breaking heat wave.

For those who may have missed an episode, ignore the backdrop (above) – the crisis in America is clearly our deficit. With total government revenues, as a percentage of our economy, at their lowest level in more than 60 years, obviously, the only answer is to cut government spending.

The announced plans include an immediate $400 billion debt limit increase (whew) and $900 billion in spending cuts over the next 10 years. These cuts will be from the annual appropriations of the day-to-day operations of Cabinet agencies (specific cuts will be determined by the Appropriations Committee after annual lobbying and whining by each agency and their related lobbyists), but largely the cuts will be from capping projected inflation-adjusted increases. These cuts do not include Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

Another $500 billion debt limit increase would be allowed later this fall, which Congress could only disapprove, which President Obama could veto, which Congress could overturn by a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate (I’m not making this up).

A third installment of debt limit increase of between $1.2 and $1.5 trillion would be available after enactment of the recommendations on November 23, 2011 by a 12-member super Congress (also to be announced) of three members from each party and each chamber.

The super Congress’s report to the mortal Congress could include tax code changes, maybe even revenues, and changes in any other program – including Social Security, Medicare, Pentagon spending. All dependent upon an up or down, no amendments allowed, vote in Congress on December 23, 2011.

Should super Congress not agree (how likely is that?) or the mortal Congress does not act on the recommendations, we’ll face the poison pill of across the board spending cuts to be implemented by the White House including cuts to the Pentagon, domestic agency budgets and farm subsidies… beginning in 2013, after the next Presidential election. However, Social Security, Medicaid, veterans benefits and military pay would not be subject to cuts.

Oh, yeah, the House and Senate are also required to vote, but not pass, which they won’t, a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution. The bill will establish at a cost of $1 billion, a “program integrity” initiative in an attempt to stem abuses in Social Security and federal health care programs. This bill will also preserve Pell Grant funding for 2012-2013 by cutting student loan subsidies. Go figure.

This is one terrific plan.

“The result would be the lowest level of annual domestic spending since Dwight Eisenhower was President,” said President Obama in announcing the deal. “Now, this process has been messy; it’s taken far too long… We’re not done yet.”

“I know this agreement won’t make every Republican happy. It certainly won’t make every Democrat happy,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

“Now listen, this isn’t the greatest deal in the world. But it shows how much we’ve changed the terms of the debate in this town… There is nothing in this framework that violates our principles. It’s all spending cuts. The White House bid to raise taxes has been shut down. And as I vowed back in May – when everyone thought I was crazy for saying it,” said Speaker of House John Boehner (R-Oh.).

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said, “I would say … that symbolically, that agreement is moving us to the point where we are having the final interment of John Maynard Keynes… So here we are in the horns of a dilemma. In order to avoid the disaster that would occur August 2 if the United States defaulted for the first time in its history, we are being told we have to cut back on government spending and by cutting back on spending, we may also have a negative impact on our economy.”

The head of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, (D-Mo.) called it “a sugar-coated Satan sandwich.”

Over time, the combined cuts should add about 1.25 million to our unemployment rolls, and could bump unemployment over 10%. The cuts in spending will almost certainly turn our anemic GDP growth into negative numbers putting us back into official recession – this time, an official bipartisan recession. But don’t be fooled that the impact will stop there. The cuts will have dramatic impact on every state. Those laid off will be teachers, law enforcement and regulators. Food and medical care will be cut for our poorest children and their families. Transportation and infrastructure spending will also be cut.

When the series continues, we’ll get to watch who is to blame. How gerrymandered districts will make things even more partisan? How the T-party will get revenge on Boehner? How Obama will seek to mend fences with his base? And how all, but a few of us, will continue suffering and electing these fools? I wish I could change the channel.

 

*A sequel to the popular series, “The West Wing.”

Note: This story was updated at 5:45PM, August 1, 2011 to correct details once the bill was announced.

Ignorance is bliss

Ignorance is blissIn the mid-1970’s when the US inflation rate was double-digits, an unnamed administration source1 in the post-Nixon Ford administration explained it simply, “The reason we have inflation is that we measure it. If we didn’t track it, there would be no inflation.” I’ve always admired that idea. Ignorance, as they say, is bliss.

Take, for instance, the big news that 103,000 jobs were created last month and our unemployment rate has dropped four tenths of one percent (.004) to the lowest level since spring of 2009. Wow. Those Republicans sure do work fast. Sounds like happy times are here again. The greatest depression since Prozac must be over. Time to celebrate, right?

Maybe, as long as you aren’t tracking the numbers. If you do, it is pretty depressing.

Because of new people entering the workforce, in a typical month, it takes at about 150,000 new jobs just to break even on the unemployment rate. So how did 103,000 new jobs in December create such a decline in the rate when it seems as if it should have gone up? 434,000 people gave up looking for work last month.

All we need to do is keep up this “job growth” until 2016 or so and get another 7.2 million unemployed to give up and drop out of the workforce – that’s the number of jobs lost during the Bush-now-Obama recession.

These numbers are just estimates, of course. They are based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) monthly Current Population Survey (tracking of 60,000 households), overlaying Census data, multiplying it all by the winning Illinois Lotto number, just kidding, projecting the data and having it reviewed by politicians. Most economists project the real unemployment rate at about double the official rate – estimates range from 16.5-22.5%. Why? It depends on what definition you use for “unemployment.”

Generally, people, as defined as citizens over 16 and not on active military duty, disabled, in jail, a nursing home or a mental heath facility, who have a job, are employed. People who are jobless and actively looking for a job are unemployed. And people without jobs and not looking are not in the labor force. Seems tidy, doesn’t it? It isn’t.

  • If the only the work you can get is part-time or temping, guess what? You are employed.
  • If you haven’t been able to find a job, part-time or full, so you are helping out with a family business without pay while looking for a job, you are employed.
  • If, for instance, you stood on the corner of Home Depot every day, but were only picked up once for a couple of hours of work at less than minimum wage, you are employed.
  • Let’s say you were fired on Tuesday and the BLS survey was on Friday, you are employed.
  • If you had a job, but couldn’t work because you had the flu, or you had to take care of your kid, or your boss wanted sex and you didn’t, a bandsaw at work cut your arm off, or you sold ice cream and it snowed all week, or a family member was dying, so you couldn’t work and didn’t get paid, you are employed.
  • If, for instance, you are bat-shit crazy, but your state doesn’t have mental health facilities and is tired of having you in jail, you’ve applied for disability and are waiting the three years it takes to get turned down, you, no surprise here, aren’t unemployed. You aren’t in the workforce.
  • If, for instance, you don’t have a job, looked every day at want ads2, didn’t find anything at all or, at least, nothing suitable, and didn’t apply during December when no one is hiring in your profession anyway, you’re not in the workforce.
  • Let’s say you are in your final year of Harvard law. You are waiting tables for tips to stay in school and hoping to land a job with a big New York law firm – you are employed.
  • If you are actively looking for a job, but as a fallback, you are trying to create a business cutting grass, shining shoes or launching that next killer internet company. You haven’t made a dime, but you are employed.
  • Let’s say your plant was shut down “temporarily” and you are expecting a call back, but it hasn’t come. You are employed.
  • If, for instance, you got laid off, received some separation money that was enough to get by for a few months, you posted your resume everywhere you could and were going to your local tech school to get re-trained so you, a former IT manager, could qualify for a job flipping hamburgers. You aren’t in the workforce.
  • If, for instance, you are one of the 99ers – one of the seven million US citizens who been unemployed, have looked for a job for more than 99 weeks, haven’t found one and have exhausted all their unemployment benefits, including all the extensions that get bought, sold and filibustered in Congress. You and all seven million of your fellow 99ers, aren’t in the workforce.

All to say, the real unemployment rate didn’t go down last month.


1 Unnamed Administration Source: prior to Ted Turner inventing 24-7 cable news, which morphed into 24-7 speculation about news or what potentially could be news if it were to actually happen, we were required to read and talk about the news ourselves3. Way back then, journalists4, were occasionally allowed5 to quote an“unnamed administration source” if that source wished to remain anonymous – that is how we existed before Wikilleaks.

2 Want Ads: what old people say when they mean Monster.com or craigslist. Refers to the old days when there were paid advertisements for jobs in newspapers.

3 Reading: it really wasn’t as difficult as it sounds. Similar in many ways to using an iPad, except that the words and photos were printed on paper, delivered to your door each morning, there was no search and crack pots were not allowed to comment. I know, it sounds strange and that’s why Al Gore came up with the internets.

4Journalist (aka: 4th estate, liberal press, etc.): Archaic. Someone who, in the old days, before truth lost favor with advertisers, used to “collect and disseminate information about current events, people, trends, and issues. Reporters were one type of journalist. They created reports as a profession for broadcast or publication in mass media such as newspapers, television, radio, magazines, and documentary film. Reporters found sources for their work, their reports could be either spoken or written, and they were expected to report in the most objective and unbiased way to serve the public good.”

5 Allowed: ridiculously inefficient as it might sound, teams of people used to review and verify what we used to call, “facts”6 before the stories were blurted out as “breaking news” to live forever in Google as “truth.”7 Who would just make stuff up?

6 Facts: similar to talking points and spin, only true.

7 Truth: Archaic. According to Dictionary.com, “the true or actual state of a matter; conformity with fact or reality; a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like; actuality or actual existence; an obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude; honesty; integrity; truthfulness; ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience: the basic truths of life; agreement with a standard or original; accuracy, as of position or adjustment.” More commonly accepted: anything stated or written by liberals to brainwash God-fearing people with the goal of destroying our way of life and transforming America into a gun-controlled, fascio-socialism state.

Lame Canard Session

The stakes are enormous: millions of Americans have lost their meager unemployment benefits; job creation is abysmal; unemployment is increasing; municipal and state governments are in dire need of revenue; the Bush-era tax cuts will expire on December 31st; and obstructionism in Congress is sure to be even worse in the next session.

Our formerly hopeful, now pragmatic President, knowing just how close our economy is to falling off the cliff, has embraced compromise to get help from Senate Republicans to stimulate the economy. The Republicans in the Senate, knowing that a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts is precisely the issue they will need for the 2012 election, are willing to compromise all principles to throw some scraps at the poor by extending unemployment benefits for a year and a month (past the next holiday season). Both parties are anxious for the one-year cut in payroll taxes that is also in the deal.

So just how bad is the deal?
Allowing the unemployment benefits to expire makes almost no economic sense. The stipend is tiny, but merciful, and it goes immediately back into the economy providing stimulus we badly need. How long it should be extended is debatable, but ending it before we have job growth is the answer.

Allowing the tax cuts to expire will hurt the working poor: the bottom 10% bracket will disappear and go back to 15%, plus the earned income tax credits will expire.

Allowing the tax cuts to expire will hurt the middle class: tax rates will increase 3%; families will lose $500 per child in deductions and some tuition credits; and singles will lose the marriage penalty fix. The House has already passed a bill to extend breaks for the poor and middle class. Should the bill fail to pass the Senate, there may be plenty of support for fixing it next year – especially if the economy continues to flounder.

Allowing the tax cuts to expire will bother the rich: 30 years ago, the top marginal income tax rate was 70%, now it is 35% and would go back up to 38%. Dividends will be again taxed as ordinary income, which it is. The long term capital gains rate, now zero, will go back up to 10%-20% – temporarily cutting the capital gains rate can create an incentive to invest, while cutting the tax rate to zero and keeping it there, does just the opposite. Estate taxes will go back into effect with a $1 million deductible.

The Bush tax cuts were spectacularly effective in increasing the wealth of the richest Americans and turned our surplus to deficit. The next 10-year cost of extending the tax cuts is about $4 trillion,

“…three times the entire projected Social Security shortfall. So giving in to Republican demands would mean risking a major fiscal crisis — a crisis that could be resolved only by making savage cuts in federal spending. And we’re not talking about government programs nobody cares about: the only way to cut spending enough to pay for the Bush tax cuts in the long run would be to dismantle large parts of Social Security and Medicare,” according to Paul Krugman.

But is this just a canard? Hard to know. This lame duck session of Congress is, mercifully, coming to an end soon. It seems likely the Obama-Republican compromise could pass the Senate, but whether the House will betray the same progressive beliefs as our President, is a toss up.

Dog Days News

So Blago’s guilty of lying, but after six and half years of Justice Department investigations, many millions spent, federal prosecutors couldn’t convince 12 of his peers that he was guilty of any of the other 23 charges. Blago will likely be re-tried.

Our hemisphere is having the hottest summer ever recorded – wildfires in Russia, an iceberg four times the size of Manhattan has broken off Greenland, and Pakistan has more than 20 million affected by flooding with 8+ million in desperate need of food and clean water – yet, the Climate and Energy Bill is being held hostage by Senate Republicans who continue to deny global climate change has been caused by their hot air.

Caffeinated by the tea party, a one-word “no” platform, 309 Senate bills on Republican hold, gay marriage and immigration laws in the courts, a Muslim community center in Manhattan, and the Bush economy/legacy of failure abandoned on Obama’s doorstep, the Republicans are so poorly managed they only have $10.9 million for fall campaigns – now they get a $1 million partial bailout from News Corp., the owner of the Wall Street Journal and Fox Not-Really-News.

With a “real” unemployment rate of 16.5%, a net loss of 131,000 jobs last month, wage growth a misnomer, the current rate of bankruptcies near a 5-year high, record numbers without health insurance, record numbers of foreclosures, exports tanking, trade deficits exploding, bank earnings weakening, 80% of the exiting stimulus allocated to the states, but only 47% spent, and a second stimulus bill dead in the Senate waters –  the $10 billion subsidy just passed to pay states to keep or hire teachers has many school districts saying they aren’t going to rehire teachers, they’ll try to save it to help next year which is sure to be worse.

Haiti is still in ruins, 1.5 million people are still displaced, only about 10% of the money pledged (including the US contribution) has actually been given, Bill Clinton is out doing collections while Hillary is leading by example: she’s contributed $10 via text to relief efforts, but there’s still hope – Fugees’ rapper Wyclef Jean is running for President.

Gone in August:  Oscar-winning actress, Patricia Neal (84, lung cancer); Bobby Hebb, ‘Sunny’ singer-songwriter (72, lung cancer); “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” baseball player Bobby Thomson (86, long illness); jazz singer, civil rights activist, Abbey Lincoln (80, long illness); actor Paul Rudd (70, pancreatic cancer); film and TV producer, David Wolper (82, heart failure); former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens (87, plane crash in the bad weather that they didn’t check for before taking off); celebrity plastic surgeon, Frank Ryan (50, texting while driving); writer, pundit, segregationist, James Kilpatrick (89, heart failure); Gap Band musician, Robert Wilson (53, heart attack); singer for the Diamonds, Ted Kowalski (79, heart disease); Pardon by Bill Clinton for accepting kickbacks, 18 term Congressman and former Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committe, Dan Rostenkowski (82, unspecified); bluegrass bassist, Mitch Jayne (82, cancer); guitarist, Catfish Collins (66, cancer); writer, philosopher, Mary Anne Warren (88, unknown); Georgia goobernatorial candidate, Karen Handel (48, failed to convince 1,244 more voters she was less evil than Nathan Deal); HP CEO, Mark Hurd (53, complications from greed and sex-related hubris); hate radio host, Dr. Laura Schlessinger (63, fatal hemmoraging of the N word on air); the last US combat troops in Iraq (7, campaign promise); unimaginable numbers of aquatic creatures and birds, plus 80% of the oil that leaked into the Gulf from BP’s Macondo well (3 months, greed, negligence, inadequate regulation and political bribery).

Update, August 21, 2010:

  • Blago: Jurors report that there was only one holdout juror unconvinced of Blago’s guilt on most of the other charges.
  • Hottest Summer: Now heavy rains have devastated China and North Korea leaving 4,000 dead or missing, more than 50,000 displaced and ‘extremely dangerous” cracks have been found in the Three Gorges dam threatening hundreds of thousands.
  • Republican Fundraising: Politico reports the RNC now has only $5.5 million on hand for the midterm elections and $2.2 million in debt.
  • Jobs: For the week ending Aug. 14, new unemployment filings exceeded 500,000 – the worst job report since Nov. 2009.
  • Hope in Haiti: The Haiti electoral commission ruled yesterday that Wyclef Jean is ineligible to run for president .

Reason for optimism

Optimist or PessimistA few months ago a certain head of a certain private SC university and Dew reader called me a “fatalist.” I’m not. I’m an American. Americans are always optimists. I’m just happen to be near the top of my personal bell curve of cynicism. It seemed at the time, for good cause, but not now.

A new study just out for 2009 says that despite the record unemployment, layoffs, furloughs, downsizing, off-shoring, Wall Street crash, real estate crash, and worst depression since Prozac was allowed to advertise on TV, it seems that millionaires in the US grew by 16% to 7.8 million and those whose worth is over $5 million was up 17%. The study goes on to project that the concentration of wealth, should it continue as it did during the Bush years, will have us looking like Mexico in 2048*. Now I know what you are thinking: that will solve the illegal immigration problem. See? I’m not a fatalist.

More statistics out: the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the number of unemployed workers age 55 and older jumped 70% in 2008 and AARP reports it has jumped 331% during the Bush years (from 2000-2009, the numbers rose from 490,000 to 2,114,000). Those in this demo know full well that their experience, work ethic and talents aren’t worth the cost of pension plans and health care anymore and that Walmart is always an option. Age discrimination be damned, seniors still have it better than convicted felons and those wishing to have an experience with an airline terrorist. See? I’m not a fatalist.

More statistics also from the Bureau of Labor Statistics… Men, it seems, have it worse when it comes to unemployment during this “worst recession since the really great one” at least percentage wise, than women. White men, it seems, have it worse, at least percentage wise, than black or hispanic men.** See? There’s no plot. The Bushies surely wouldn’t have done this on purpose. See? I’m no fatalist, this is a great step forward in narrowing the disparity of racial and gender unemployment rates.

Now I could go on with reports on foreclosures, credit card defaults, business closings, tax collections, and those who lost their health insurance, but that would be the type of tactic a fatalist would employ. Not me. I’m truly optimistic that the markets will correct and all will be just wonderful if we can only kill this health care bill; quit supporting the unemployed; stop the government regulation of banks and Wall Street; reform those torts which allow people to sue when their lives have been destroyed by our innocent corporations who are just trying their tiny little hearts out to employ as many people (in the third world) as possible; and, for gawd’s sake, get that deficit under control while cutting taxes and increasing highway and military spending. Oh yeah, and protecting marriage. And, supporting Israel. And, getting rid of that awful socialist program Americorp. And, of course, make everyone start carrying guns. And, protect that super minority rule in the Senate. And, well, I’d better just stop there, ‘cause I’m sure the markets will take care of everything for everyone.

Sarcastic, you decide.

_________
* Closer to us than 1970.
**Black men still have higher unemployment rates than white men, just the percentage increase last year was lower, which, statistically, is probably because it was sooooo friggin’ high already.

It’s still the economy, stupid

migrationOne can hardly pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV news without a story about the economy. The Clinton campaign mantra, “it’s the economy, stupid” will soon be the mantra of the Obama White House – just as soon as he can stop answering questions about the wars, health care, the environment, Wall Street reform, what he thinks about Tiger Woods, etc. ad nauseum.

ProPublica reports that we have now spent a whopping 30% of the stimulus money. Those filing for unemployment actually decreased a little last month (or gave up trying) – click here to hear today’s NPR coverage. The FDIC shut down 6 more banks and 130 have failed so far this year – click here to read HuffPo’s story. Reuters reports a 26% jump in hunger assistance as family homelessness rises in cities across the US. And pundit after pundit prognosticate on when it will turn around – here’s a sampling from the Daily Beast.

noveau_poor_hatDiscoverCard.com reports on its website (disclosure: I don’t have a Discover card) results of their research under the heading “November Highlights” that, “Economic Confidence Plunges; Low Expectations for the Holidays.” Here are some of the lowlights:

  • Economic confidence among America’s small business owners plummeted in November, as more owners cited serious concerns about cash flow and saw economic conditions for their own businesses getting worse. The Discover Small Business Watch index fell 12 points in November to 76.5 from 88.5 in October.
  • 52 percent of small business owners say they have experienced cash flow issues in the past 90 days, up from 44 percent in October.
  • 53 percent of small business owners see conditions getting worse in the next six months, up from 43 percent in October.
  • 62 percent of small business owners rate the economy as poor, an increase from 55 percent in October; 30 percent rate it as fair, and 8 percent say it is good or excellent.
  • 53 percent of small business owners think the overall economy is getting worse, up from 44 percent in October.
    Only 11 percent of Small Businesses Expecting Increased Sales This Year
  • Small business owners have a glum outlook on the holiday season: Only 11 percent expect to see more business this year over last, while 46 percent of them are expecting less business than last year.
  • 73 percent of businesses that extend credit say that they have customers who have delayed or asked to delay a payment in the last three months.
  • 68 percent of consumers say that they have made purchases at a small business in an effort to keep it from closing.

In response to all the bad news, his visit last week to Allentown and the his big jobs forum, the President spoke this morning at the Brookings Institution (click here to read Facing South’s analysis of the speech) and here’s some of what he had to say about plans and possibly spending the $200 billion left over from the TARP (click here for the full text).

… That’s why it’s so important that we help small business struggling to stay open, or struggling to open in the first place, during these difficult times.  Building on the tax cuts in the Recovery Act, we’re proposing a complete elimination of capital gains taxes on small business investment along with an extension of write-offs to encourage small businesses to expand in the coming year.  And I believe it’s worthwhile to create a tax incentive to encourage small businesses to add and keep employees, and I’m going to work with Congress to pass one.

Now, these steps will help, but we also have to address the continuing struggle of small businesses to get loans that they need to start up and grow.  To that end, we’re proposing to waive fees and increase the guarantees for SBA-backed loans.  And I’m asking my Treasury Secretary to continue mobilizing the remaining TARP funds to facilitate lending to small businesses.

… Now, there are those who claim we have to choose between paying down our deficits on the one hand, and investing in job creation and economic growth on the other. This is a false choice. Ensuring that economic growth and job creation are strong and sustained is critical to ensuring that we are increasing revenues and decreasing spending on things like unemployment insurance so that our deficits will start coming down.  At the same time, instilling confidence in our commitment to being fiscally prudent gives the private sector the confidence to make long-term investments in our people and in America.

It is a tough time to be anything

believe_0001It is an awful time to passionately believe in something. Be it liberal, conservative, or independent. No one is happy.

For all our freedom, America is a lousy place to be a zealot. Sure, you can talk the talk almost as loud as you wish. You can carry signs, march, demonstrate, blog, tweet, harangue, chant, argue, and pontificate – but in the end, it will be decided by politicians, pollsters and lobbyists.

  • Anti-war? 30,000 more troops are going to Afghanistan. We’ll assess the situation on the ground before bringing our troops home and it will take at least 3 years after that.
  • A hawk on defense? We are only sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and we’re getting out in 18 months.
  • Health care reform with or without public option? It won’t be a true public option and we’ll spend more because of it, but actually pay for it less. There is something in it for everyone to love and everyone to hate.
  • Immigration reform? We’re still building a wall with Mexico. There’s no path to citizenship for people who are here illegally, but we still pay for their emergency health care and now provide alternatives to detaining those who are caught.
  • Wall Street regulation? Tough regulation is planned, but it will take another meltdown to get it out of committee.
  • Deficit reduction? In this tough economy, we can’t cut spending or raise taxes – or won’t. The deficit doesn’t matter – or it does.
  • Unemployment and the economy stupid? We’ll extend the benefits for those who get unemployment; provide some food stamps, but little else for others unemployed or underemployed; give trillions to the banks so they’ll make loans which they won’t; spend hundreds of billions on works projects that are subverted by states to help their budgets; and do nothing to re-capitalize small business.
  • Alternative energy and domestic production? We bailed out GM. Wasted billions then abandoned Chrysler. We provided incentives to buy cars that get “at least 22 mpg,” continue to subsidize oil with taxes, but created no new tax or incentive to reduce consumption. We have provided some, but not much, stimulus money for alternative energy, conservation and light rail.
  • Equal rights and discrimination? We are still “studying” don’t ask, don’t tell. It is still okay to discriminate based on sexual orientation except where it isn’t. You cannot hire or fire someone because of their race, age or gender, but it is fine to do so if you can make up some other reason. Racial, religious and ethnic profiling is wrong, but okay if it protects us.

I could go on, but let me just ask: is there any issue anyone outside of Washington is happy with?

Mindlessness must be the route to happiness. Things are great as long as you don’t care. Stay away from the news and just watch another survivor or gossip show (or anything on television). Grey is the new black. Grey is the new white. We know the economy is making a comeback because fewer people lost their jobs last week. President Obama accepts the Peace prize the same week he announces escalation of the war.

“A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music. Everybody can recognize it. They say, ‘Huh. It works. It makes sense.’” – Barack Obama

“All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.” – Mohandas Gandhi

“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” – Revelation 3:16 (King James)

“Don’t worry, be happy” – Bobby McFerrin Bobby McFerrin - Best of Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry, Be Happy